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.

Steve Farhood’s “Destructive Dozen”

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FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

Jhonny Gonzalez’s first-round annihilation of Abner Mares in August 2013 was overwhelming evidence of the fact that he rates with boxing’s most destructive punchers.

Now the WBC featherweight titlist will defend against Gary Russell Jr. this Saturday on SHOWTIME.

My Destructive Dozen:

Javier Fortuna, 27-0-1 (20), junior lightweight: Perhaps premature to list here, but a personal fave. Especially dangerous in first round.

Gennady Golovkin, 32-0 (29), middleweight: Looked like Martin Murray was gonna be the first to last the distance in a title fight vs. Triple G, but noooooooo…

JHONNY GONZALEZ, 57-8 (48), featherweight: Check out YouTube vs. Hozumi Hasegawa, Roinet Caballero, and Jackson Asiku. The Mares fight was hardly his first highlight-reel kayo.

Wlad Klitschko, 63-3 (53), heavyweight: His right hand was rumored to have knocked down the Empire State Building. Good luck, Bryant Jennings.

Sergey Kovalev, 27-0-1 (24), light heavyweight: Just when it seemed Pascal was getting back in the fight … And who else knocks down Bernard Hopkins?

David Lemieux, 33-2 (31), middleweight: Let’s see if his legit power is sufficient when he moves up to championship level.

Marcos Maidana, 35-5 (31), welterweight: The Broner Owner has impressively carried his power from 140 to 147 pounds.

Lucas Matthysse, 36-3 (34), junior welterweight: Evidence: 1) Humberto Soto’s been down once in 75 bouts, courtesy of Matthysse; 2) What he did to Lamont Peterson; 3) He scored knockdowns in two of his three losses (vs. Devon Alexander and Zab Judah). Does Provodnikov fall next?

Adonis Stevenson, 25-1 (21), light heavyweight: Can it still be said that the southpaw with the huge left hand has kayoed a higher level of opponent than Krusher Kovalev?

Keith Thurman, 25-0 (21), welterweight: Don’t be fooled by his recent decision wins; he scored knockdowns in both of them. He needs to land his right hand only One Time.

Takashi Uchiyama, 22-0-1 (18): Has scored stoppages in eight of his 10 world title fights. Only criticism: He fights solely in his native Japan.

Nicholas Walters, 25-0 (21), featherweight: A combined five knockdowns of Vic Darchinyan and Nonito Donaire have won me over.

 

The Final Four of 2014

2014 Fox Sports Boxing: Rico Ramos vs Jesus Cuellar - May 2, 2014

FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

When you’re my age, the holiday season presents an opportunity to look back at yet another year in the books.

I now ignore what the calendar is telling me because time is definitely speeding up.

But fighters aren’t writers. They’re young men, and time doesn’t move fast enough for them.

Those appearing on Saturday night’s card on SHOWTIME EXTREME, which will be the last televised fight night of 2014, are looking ahead. Their resolutions? Win fights. Make money. Make a name. Win world titles.

Make the future now.

Here’s a look at the four fights we’ll be airing from the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, Wash.

Jesus Cuellar vs. Ruben Tamayo, featherweights: I was ringside in Vegas when Cuellar retired Juanma Lopez by hammering the Puerto Rican legend inside of two merciless rounds. I winced with every punch. Cuellar is that kind of fighter, a wrecking machine whose intent is maximum damage.

The southpaw Cuellar is 25-1, and with wins over a previously unbeaten Claudio Marrero and former world titlists Rico Ramos and Lopez, the Argentinian has established himself as a legitimate top-10 contender.

He’s fun to watch–but not to fight.

Cuellar’s opponent, Mexican left-hander Tamayo, is a respectable veteran who’s coming off an upset win over Efrain Esquivias. Tamayo, 25-4-4, is a rangy one-two puncher, but he’s been stopped in three of his four losses. Add the fact that Cuellar is the naturally bigger man and there’s only one conclusion to be drawn: Both Cuellar’s winning streak and his highlight reel will be extended.

Gary Russell Jr. vs. Chris Martin, featherweights: This is the first fight of the second stage of former U.S. Olympian Russell’s career.

Last time out, Russell, 24-1, lost on points to Vasyl Lomachenko in a bout for the vacant WBO 126-pound title. Russell had been an excellent amateur. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko, on the other hand, had been arguably one of the five greatest amateurs in history. The difference showed, with Russell punching often, but with little oomph, and Lomachenko ripping shots to the body.

Now Russell, who was widely criticized for the undemanding opposition he faced before meeting Lomachenko, starts over. His opponent, the tricky Martin, 28-4-3, has lost two of his last three. At his best, Martin is a tricky boxer who was good enough to upset Chris Avalos on ShoBox: The New Generation four years ago. But that was at 122 pounds, which is better suited for the featherfisted Martin than 126.

As has been the case in several of his bouts, look for the southpaw Russell to overwhelm Martin with speed and a sizzling right hook.

Russell is only 26. The Lomachenko fight was a painful lesson. It’s time to prove he’s a better fighter for it.

Julian Williams vs. Jamar Freeman, super welterweights: We’ve televised a handful of Williams’ fights on SHOWTIME, and I consider him as blue-chip a prospect as I’ve seen. In fact, it’s not a stretch to already label him a top-15 contender.

Williams, 17-0-1, is a well-schooled boxer-puncher. He’s patient, technically sound, and Philadelphia-tough. That’s a lot for Freeman to overcome.

Freeman, 13-3-2, has been busy this year (this will be his fifth fight), but when moved up in class, he’s failed. He’s a late sub in this one, and it seems a tough spot for him.

Look for a clinical performance from Williams–and a likely stoppage victory.

Julius Jackson vs. Jonathan Nelson, super middleweights: If you’re too young to recall former two-division world titlist Julian Jackson, visit YouTube without passing Go. Jackson was among the biggest hitters of any era, and his one-punch kayos never get old.

Julius Jackson is Julian’s son. The 27-year-old puncher is 18-0 with 14 kayos, but neither he nor Nelson has scored any wins of note. The difference: While Nelson’s been building his record (19-1) against sub-.500 opposition in Texas towns like Texarkana and Nacogdoches, Jackson’s been winning in Panama, Uruguay, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and his native Virgin Islands.

Jackson’s passport may be impressive, but this’ll be his first fight in the USA.

Jackson is rangy, physical, and heavy-handed. His balance, however, needs work. Nelson’s more of a boxer, so look for Jackson to march forward with a seek-and-destroy mentality.

Julius will never be the fighter his father was. For that matter, he can’t match the skills of his brother John, a fringe contender at junior middleweight.

Regardless, this is his chance to begin to make a name for himself.

See you Saturday—and happy holidays to all!

Why Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Gary Russell Jr. Is a Fascinating Study in Boxing [via Yahoo Sports]

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By Kevin Iole / Yahoo Sports
The WBO featherweight title fight between Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko offers a marked contrast in styles.

It’s not so much that they’re vastly different in the ring, but how they’ve gotten to where they want to be.

Both men are 26 – Lomachenko is four months older – and both are among the most physically gifted fighters in the world.

Read more online at Yahoo Sports »

Gary Russell Jr. – I Am a Fighter

The highly touted Gary Russell Jr., won the 2005 National Golden Gloves Championship at the age of 16. Despite his success as an amateur, he has received a fair amount of criticism since turning pro. His doubters say that he has coasted to his perfect 24-0 record without facing any of the top opposition. On Saturday, June 21, Russell will face his toughest challenge to date in Vasyl Lomachenko, perhaps the most celebrated amateur boxer in history. Can Russell silence his critics with a victory over the Ukrainian and earn his first world title? Watch the video below to learn what inspires Russell, and don’t miss This Saturday’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING event featuring Russell vs. Lomachenko, live at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on SHOWTIME.

As Father’s Day Approaches, “Guerrero Vs. Kamegai” Fighters Reflect On The Importance Of Their Fathers And The Impact They Have Had On Their Careers

robert-guerrero-and-father

Legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano once said, “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” The sport of boxing often mirrors that sentiment, as fathers not only believe in their sons, but can also be found in their corners -literally. From recent Boxing Hall of Fame inductees Oscar De La Hoya, Joe Calzaghe, Felix Trinidad and their fathers, to contemporary duos such as Danny and Angel Garcia and Shawn and Ken Porter.

The Saturday, June 21 fight card headlined by Robert Guerrero vs. Yoshihiro Kamegai from StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. live on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® is no exception, as three of the six televised fighters are trained by their fathers -Robert Guerrero, Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko. Here is what they had to say about the impact their fathers have had on their careers as Father’s Day approaches this Sunday. Continue reading

From Olympics to World Title

gary-russell-jr-victoryPhoto: Tom Casino / SHOWTIME

From Showtime Boxing Analyst Steve Farhood
On Saturday, June 21, featherweight Gary Russell Jr. will attempt to become the second member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team to win a world title.

The first was WBO junior middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade.
Russell hopes to reverse a trend: From the 1976 Olympics through the 2000 Games, 44 percent of U.S. Olympians (36 fighters) went on to become professional world titlists.

Since the 2000 Olympics, only two of 18 U.S. Olympians have become world titlists (Andre Ward and Andrade).

The complete list, beginning with the 1976 Games, of U.S. Olympians who became world titlists:

  • 1976: Leo Randolph*, Sugar Ray Leonard*, Michael Spinks*, Leon Spinks*, John Tate
  • 1980: Richard Sandoval, Joe Manley, Johnny Bumphus, Donald Curry, Lee Roy Murphy
  • 1984: Meldrick Taylor*, Pernell Whitaker*, Mark Breland*, Frank Tate*, Virgil Hill, Evander Holyfield
  • 1988: Michael Carbajal, Kennedy McKinney*, Roy Jones, Ray Mercer*, Riddick Bowe
  • 1992: Tim Austin, Oscar De La Hoya*, Vernon Forrest, Raul Marquez, Chris Byrd, Montell Griffin
  • 1996: Eric Morel, Floyd Mayweather, David Diaz, Fernando Vargas, David Reid*, Antonio Tarver
  • 2000: Brian Viloria, Jermain Taylor, Jeff Lacy
  • 2004: Andre Ward*
  • 2008: Demetrius Andrade

*Olympic gold medalist (Note: The USA boycotted the 1980 Games.)