Have You Filled Out Your Bracket?

Brook

FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

This Saturday, welterweight titlist Kell Brook will make his first defense when he squares off with Jo Jo Dan in Sheffield, England. The bout will be aired on SHOWTIME BOXING INTERNATIONAL prior to that evening’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast featuring Jhonny Gonzalez-Gary Russell Jr. and Jermell Charlo-Vanes Martirosyan.

The latter two bouts will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Brook is coming off his impressive win over Shawn Porter, and in December, Dan edged Canadian Kevin Bizier in a rematch.

So where do Brook and Dan rate among the world’s best welters? I’m happily suffering from March Madness, so I thought it would be fun to create a 147-pound tournament without Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

Here are the brackets and results.

SWEET SIXTEEN

Timothy Bradley vs. Paulie Malignaggi: Distance fight. Fresher Bradley, the aggressor, pulls away late.

Keith Thurman vs. Devon Alexander: Thurman takes it with his big right hand.

Amir Khan-Andre Berto: Khan off the floor to win on points.

Juan Manuel Marquez-Lamont Peterson: Upset! Peterson proves stronger in battle of small welters.

Marcos Maidana-Jo Jo Dan: Fight is even on points when Maidana’s kayo power surfaces.

Kell Brook-Diego Chaves: It’s always close with Chaves. Brook by controversial split decision.

Danny Garcia-Brandon Rios: In first bout as full welter, Garcia wins slugfest. Best fight of first round.

Shawn Porter-Robert Guerrero: Blood everywhere! Porter squeaks by in foul-fest.

ELITE EIGHT

Bradley-Porter: Two short welters muscle each other. Bradley wins battle of attrition.

Thurman-Garcia: Thurman turns pure boxer and wins by decision.

Khan-Brook: Khan wins split decision in tactical battle of countrymen.

Peterson-Maidana: Peterson falls to second Argentine power-puncher. (The first was Lucas Matthysse.)

FINAL FOUR

Bradley-Maidana: The difference: Bradley’s indomitable will.

Thurman-Khan: Bad style matchup for Englishman. Thurman by kayo. 

FINAL

Bradley-Thurman: Thurman keeps it outside and wins on points.

Don’t Punch Until You See The Whites Of Their Eyes

Amir Khan and Devon Alexander

FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

On Saturday, Dec. 13 welterweight contenders and former world titlists Amir Khan and Devon Alexander will clash in a critical contest in Las Vegas on SHOWTIME.

Khan is from Bolton, England, which doesn’t have much in common with Alexander’s hometown of St. Louis.

The American Revolution aside, there have been dozens of fascinating England-USA matchups over the years. A distinctive baker’s dozen that I remember:

Danny Garcia KO 4 Amir Khan (2012): Remember how comprehensively Khan was outboxing Garcia? Three knockdowns later, Khan was comprehensively stopped.

Lennox Lewis KO 8 Mike Tyson (2002): A brawl at the introductory press conference … two ring announcers … and a line of security guards separating the fighters upon their ring entrances. I watched it all at 5 a.m. in Glasgow after working a ShoBox: The New Generation show.

Matthew Saad Muhammad W 15 John Conteh I (1979): Former titlist Conteh fights with one hand and extends light heavy champ Saad in one of the first big fights in casino-era Atlantic City.

Naseem Hamed KO 4 Kevin Kelley (1997): I lost count of the knockdowns by round three, probably because I was still numb from Hamed’s legendary ring walk. One of the greatest fights in Madison Square Garden’s incredible history.

Sugar Ray Leonard KO 4 Dave Boy Green (1980): Thirty-four years later, still one of the most brutal kayos I’ve seen live. Check out Ray’s frightening left hook on YouTube.

Carl Froch KO 12 Jermain Taylor (2009): High drama in the Connecticut woods: Fourteen seconds left at the time of the kayo. Fourteen seconds–with Taylor ahead on two of the three cards!

Floyd Mayweather KO 10 Ricky Hatton (2007): Hatton, 43-0 going in, is dropped by a memorable Money hook. Best of the best: In four consecutive fights, Mayweather defeated Oscar De La Hoya, Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Shane Mosley.

Lloyd Honeyghan KO 6 Donald Curry (1986): How big an upset? At the time, the unbeaten Curry was ranked first in the pound-for-pound listings. This fight is second only to Randy Turpin-Sugar Ray Robinson in terms of biggest England-USA upset.

Marvin Hagler KO 3 Alan Minter (1980): Hagler celebrates winning the world middleweight title the way he always dreamed–by dodging flying glass bottles and fleeing the ring during a nasty post-fight riot in London.

Muhammad Ali KO 6 Henry Cooper (1966): Forty-six thousand fans at Arsenal Football Stadium watch chronic bleeder Cooper shed enough red for Ali to say, “Blood scares me. I was more desperate than anyone else when I saw Cooper bleeding so badly.”

Nigel Benn KO 1 Iran Barkley (1990): Three knockdowns buy Benn a lot of legitimacy on this side of the pond. Back in those days, nobody did that to “The Blade.”

Kell Brook W 12 Shawn Porter (2014): Stranger than truth: British judge Dave Parris scored the bout even, while the two American judges saw Brook winning fairly comfortably.

Timothy Bradley W 12 Junior Witter (2008): Bradley wins a version of the 140-pound title on ShoBox, with a right-hand knockdown in round six proving the difference on the cards.

Ishe Smith: One More Time

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FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

When breaking down boxers, we analyze jabs and powerpunches, chins and conditioning, activity and ring experience, sizes and styles.

But we don’t usually consider life skills.

Maybe we should reconsider.

The arc of a championship-level fighter’s career invariably includes astronaut-in-orbit highs and spirit-sapping lows. There’s no amount of roadwork, no furious combination on the pads, that provides adequate preparation.

So how does Ishe Smith summarize his 15-year professional career?

“It’s been mind-blowing and heart-breaking,” he said. “It’s been a helluva ride.”

On Dec. 12, Smith will attempt to regain a portion of the world junior middleweight title when he challenges Cuban southpaw Erislandy Lara. The showdown will be the main event of a SHOWTIME BOXING: Special Edition from San Antonio.

Even by boxing’s standards, Smith’s journey has been extraordinary and extreme. Check out this timeline–but first a warning: You may want to pop a Dramamine to handle all the ups and downs.

1988, Age 11: Smith spars with Floyd Mayweather Jr., who is a few months older. It’s the beginning of a lifelong association.

April 1996, Age 17: In the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Trials, Smith loses by four points to Zab Judah. Discouraged by the loss, Smith doesn’t fight again for 2 1/2 years.

July 29, 2000, Age 22: Smith turns pro at the Grand Casino in Tunica, Mississippi, stopping Jose Meraz in three rounds.

While his win doesn’t exactly make headlines, insiders take notice because Smith had been an excellent amateur. The native Las Vegan had won the Nevada State Golden Gloves for 10 consecutive years.

April 24, 2003, Age 24: Smith makes his SHOWTIME debut on ShoBox: The New Generation, virtually shutting out the veteran Sam Garr. “There’s a lot to like,” I say after the decision is announced.

Smith would fight on the series four more times and come to view ShoBox as his boxing anchor.

2004, Age 25: Having made a career-high purse of only $11,000, and struggling to support his wife and children, Smith files for bankruptcy.

“When I made $11,000 to fight Randall Bailey, after deductions, taxes, and expenses,” he said, “I took home about $3,000.”

2004, Age 26: Smith is cast in the premier season of the NBC boxing-reality show “The Contender.” From the start, he assumes the role of villain.

“I went in with a chip on my shoulder,” he recalled. “I was just an angry person.”

A welterweight facing bigger fighters, Smith wins once before being eliminated by eventual champion Sergio Mora.

Smith earns six figures on the show.

2007, Age 29: Smith goes through a divorce. Depression follows, and a few months later, he considers suicide. “My wife, my kids were gone,” he said.

2009, 2010, Age 31: Smith loses consecutive fights to unbeaten and heavily hyped prospects Danny Jacobs and Fernando Guerrero. It seems he’s been reduced to fodder for rising stars.

“I was discouraged because I thought I won the Guerrero fight,” he said. “But I still thought opportunities would come.”

2012, Age 33: After an 18-month layoff, Smith returns to the ring with a new promoter–Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“I was in camp, helping Floyd get ready for the Miguel Cotto fight, and I was a free agent [promotionally],” Smith said. “And they showed interest.

“I told Leonard [Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe] I wanted a fight with Erislandy Lara, but after a couple of wins, he and Floyd got me a title shot with Cornelius Bundrage.”

Asked why he hadn’t secured a title fight opportunity earlier in his career, Smith said, “I was a young asshole.”

2013, Age 34: Fighting in Detroit, Smith outpoints K-9 Bundrage and wins the IBF light middleweight title by majority decision.

Sobbing during his postfight interview on SHOWTIME, Smith says, “Thirteen years, man. Thirteen years. That’s all I can say.”

2013, Age 35: In his first defense, Smith loses the belt to Carlos Molina by split decision. At an age when most fighters are in precipitous decline, Smith finds himself rebooting.

“Floyd called and said to keep my head up,” recalled Smith, whose middle name, Kamau, is of Kenyan origin and translates to “Silent Warrior.”

“I’ve been through a lot worse. I’ve learned to deal with things as they come.

Dec. 12, 2014, Age 36: Smith will challenge Lara for the WBA 154-pound title.

“You gotta think pressure,” Smith says. “Lara’s shown chinks in his armor. I’m 36; I know I have to produce a great fight.

“This train is just getting started.”

Breaking Down the Pay-Per-View Rebound

Lara1

FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

On Friday, December 12, WBA Super Welterweight titlist Erislandy Lara will fight for the first time since his controversial split decision loss to Canelo Alvarez in July.

Lara will defend his title against former champion Ishe Smith.

In most cases, a pay-per-view main event is the biggest bout of a fighter’s career. A loss in such a bout can be devastating … or not.

Here’s a look at recent pay-per-view losers and how they fared in their very next fight.

Marcos Maidana surprised almost everyone by pushing Floyd Mayweather in May. The Argentine powerpuncher was about a 10-1 underdog, but he roughed Mayweather up and halfway through seemed a legitimate threat to win. Mayweather rallied, of course, and remained unbeaten by securing a majority decision.

In the September rematch, Mayweather dictated the terms and won again on points, but this time far more convincingly.

It was only the second rematch of Mayweather’s career.

Two other Money victims fared much better than Maidana, probably because they didn’t face Mayweather again. In May 2013, Robert Guerrero, a former world titlist in two divisions, challenged Mayweather and lost by one-sided decision. “The Ghost” took more than a year off, then in June engaged in one of the year’s best fights, decisioning Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai.

Guerrero remains a top contender at 147 pounds.

When you’re as young and popular as Canelo Alvarez, there’s plenty of life after Floyd. In September 2013, Canelo lost for the first time when he was thoroughly outboxed by Mayweather. The Mexican has gone 2-0 since, destroying Alfredo Angulo in March and edging Lara in July.

Alvarez is the No. 1 ranked junior middleweight in the world–assuming you list Mayweather only among the welterweights.

When Brandon Rios fought Manny Pacquiao in November 2013, he was coming off a loss to Mike Alvarado. It didn’t shock anyone when, in November 2013, he finished second-best to Pac-Man as well. But all-action Rios rebounded in August with a disqualification win over tough Argentinean Diego Chaves.

Rios was behind by a single point on two cards at the time of the DQ.

It’s been tough to figure future hall of famer Miguel Cotto. The Puerto Rican fought well in losing a decision to Mayweather in May 2012, then lost again on points seven months later to difficult southpaw Austin Trout. At that point, most observers decided Cotto was near-finished.

But after a blowout of fringe contender Delvin Rodriguez, Cotto was reborn with a crushing stoppage of middleweight titleholder Sergio Martinez in June.

He is the only Puerto Rican to have won titles in four different weight classes.

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Finally, there’s the curious case of Victor Ortiz, who is among boxing’s most unpredictable performers. A title-winning effort against welterweight king Andre Berto landed Ortiz a shot at Mayweather in September 2011. After suffering a knockout loss, Ortiz lost twice more, both times by stoppage, to Josesito Lopez (Ortiz was ahead on points when he suffered a broken jaw) and Luis Collazo.

Ortiz, who has always made for good fights, is scheduled to return to the ring on Dec. 13 against an opponent to be announced.

Watch the Replay of the Mayweather vs. Maidana 2 Weigh-In

Leonard Ellerbe & Floyd Mayweather: Eighteen Years (And Counting) of the Most Successful Team in Boxing

mayweather-ellerbe-shobox-aug30Photo: Stephanie Trapp / SHOWTIME

By Tim Smith
There are not a lot of enduring relationships in boxing. Boxers dump managers. Promoters sue boxers. Fathers become estranged from sons they have trained since they were toddlers. It is not the kind of business that engenders long-term fidelity.

That’s why the bond between Leonard Ellerbe and Floyd Mayweather goes beyond the norm. What makes it even rarer is that Mayweather is the top boxer in the sport, the highest paid athlete in the world and his world is one of the most high pressure environments you’ll ever find. Even the strongest marriage might not survive it. Continue reading