Manny Pacquiao in his own words

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
4:20
PM ET
Following two consecutive loses in 2012, welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao has won two fights in a row, a lopsided decision victory against Brandon Rios in Macau, China and a dominating win in 12 rounds against Timothy Bradley in April.

Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs) returns to the ring to face junior welterweight titlist Chris Algieri on Nov. 22 at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Macao in Macau (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET).

In his own words, Pacquiao discusses how he's preparing for the fight and what fans can expect to see.

Your trainer Freddie Roach has been quoted lately saying Manny could fight at 140 or even 135 for the right fight. What are your thoughts and what does the future hold for you in boxing?

"The reason we are fighting this fight at 144 pounds is because I wanted to see how I performed at a lower weight. If I do well, I could easily fight at 140 for my next fight. 140 is the weight I walk around at when I'm not training for a fight. So that is no issue and even 135 would be easy for me to make.

"The real question is how do I feel and how do I perform when I return to those lower weighs?

"I could be faster than when I fought at welterweight and (junior middleweight) and if my power remains the same, I may be able to score more knockouts at lower weights. I weighed 138 when I knocked out Ricky Hatton, 142 when I stopped Oscar De La Hoya and 144 when I scored a TKO of Miguel Cotto. Many people consider those fights some of my best, so why not go back down if that is where the bigger and better fights are going to be fought?

"But now I am the WBO welterweight champion and my only focus is to defend that title. I didn't realize how much it meant to me until I won it back in my rematch against Timothy Bradley. I love being a world champion and i have poured my heart and soul into this training camp. My sparring mates have been the biggest and best I have ever had in training . I am leaving nothing to chance when I step into the ring against Chris Algieri on November 22.

"I want to win this fight so badly and I want to win it in a way that will have boxing fans on their feet screaming and cheering. I owe that to my fans and I owe that to boxing. Today is my last day of training camp. I will spar four rounds, work the bags, shake out and then fly to Macau for Fight Week. I have been at weight for since late October. I am ready to battle!"


What kind of goals do you still have for your career at age 35?

“As I have said before, boxing is my passion and public service is my calling. As I approach my title defense against Chris Algieri I have found that my passion for boxing has increased. I do not feel old. I feel great and I find I am able to train as hard as I always have and I enjoy it. More importantly, I still enjoy boxing -- a lot.

“As long as my skills and my passion remain strong I want to continue my boxing career. When I retire, I want it to be on my terms. I do not want to spend my retirement regretting that I walked away from boxing before I was ready. I do not want to come back and fight after I retire.

“My goals are to finish as a world champion, winning my remaining fights. Since the last Marquez fight I have approached every training camp and every opponent with 110% dedication. I would like to keep challenging myself in the opponents I will face in the future.

“I have not set a date or determined an age when I will retire. As long as I can keep fighting at the level I expect from myself I will continue my boxing career.

“I do have one specific goal and that is to give the boxing fans the fight they have always asked for. I want that fight too. I believe good faith negotiations could produce that fight. But it is impossible to negotiate when you are the only one sitting at the table. Two fighters who want to fight each other have never been kept from fighting each other.”


Pacquiao and China, is that helping boxing popularity? Why fighting in China?

"Asia is a fertile market for boxing. The sport has been very popular in the Philippines, Japan and Southeast Asia for a long time, but China, with its billions in population, has long been an untapped source for potential boxing fans.

"Boxing owes a great debt to Zou Shiming, China's two-time Olympic gold medalist, for opening his homeland to boxing by fighting professionally at The Venetian Macao these past two years. Shiming has sold out the Cotai Arena every time he has fought there while allowing fighters like me to share his cards and display our talents to his enormous fan base -- both in-person and throughout the country on television. There's even a new televised boxing show which was developed from the popularity of The Venetian Macao shows.

"I love fighting in the United States. I have fought many fights in Las Vegas but when I fought Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito at Cowboys Stadium it added a whole new dynamic to the event. Not only did fans from the Dallas-Fort Worth area get to experience boxing at a world championship level, but millions of fans tuned in to see those two fights because they took place at Cowboys Stadium. It was exhilarating.

"The same is true fighting in Macao, China. Fans from all over the world are watching my fights at The Venetian Macao not just because of the fight itself but because they want to see a live event from China. And the billions in China now have the opportunity to watch world championship boxing on their own national and regional networks. That is a lot of exposure for fighters and for sponsors of boxing events held there.

"It is also tapping into a new segment of athletes which can only improve the sport and its popularity. Every country loves to root for their own athletes and by having more Chinese fighters in the professional ranks more Chinese fans will begin following our sport and making it a bigger international attraction.

"I love fighting in Las Vegas but when I fight in Macao I feel like I am playing a home game. Macao is only a 90-minute flight from the Philippines so many of my countrymen are able to attend where the expense of traveling to the U.S. may have been too much for them. Fans from Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Europe filled the Cotai Arena the last time I fought there, and that was a great experience. And the Chinese fans were so enthusiastic. It was a wonderful experience to fight for them. The biggest difference between fighting in Las Vegas and fighting in Macao is that virtually all the fans are in their seats before the first bout begins. They really love their boxing in Macao."


How difficult is it to prepare for a fighter who has an awkward style like Algieri, someone with MMA experience and not too much video to study from?

"Chris Algieri poses many puzzles for me to solve. In terms of his height and reach, only Antonio Margarito surpasses him in the scope of opponents I have faced. Algieri is also the most scientific, fluid and fittest fighter I have ever opposed. All of those factors, plus he is five years younger than me, make him the most dangerous opponent of my career.

"To me, boxing is a lot like chess. You don't just move a piece and wait for your opponent to respond, you have to see the board and think 10 to 12 moves ahead and anticipate the variables your opponent may counter with. Algieri does that and he does that very well. If you look at his recent fights -- against Mike Arnaoutis, Emanuel Taylor and Ruslan Provodnikov -- each victory for him was considered an upset. Yet Algieri never considered himself an underdog, he went into each fight confident and with the right game plan and no matter what happened in the ring, he was disciplined enough to stay with that game plan. And it worked. He outfought them and out-thought them.

"Algieri's reach and height will require me to work on closing the distance with him in the ring and I will need my speed more than ever to be able to score damaging blows to him while avoiding his own counters. I watched him fight Provodnikov and he fought the perfect fight against him. But I do not intend to fight Algieri's fight. I intend on fighting my fight and more importantly, making him fight my fight. This will be a battle of wills as much as it will be a battle of blows. There will be a lot more going on in the ring than fans will realize, and it will be fast and it will be exciting.

"There are no shortcuts to victory. My success begins and ends in training camp. You win a fight by winning each round and it is the same in training camp. I give my all each and every day -- running in the morning, working out in gym and praying in my home -- and focus on being the best I can be physically, mentally and spiritually. That is how I am preparing to fight Chris Algieri. I am sacrificing everything to defeat him and produce not just a convincing victory but my most impressive performance."

Chris Algieri in his own words

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
4:13
PM ET
Junior welterweight titlist Chris Algieri is having a good year. In February he defeated Emanuel Taylor to set up a title fight against Ruslan Provodnikov four months later. After being down twice in the first round, Algieri rallied to defeat Provodnikov by split decision and win the title.

Algieri (28-0, 8 KOs), who was a heavy underdog before the fight with Provodnikov, credited his conditioning to being a nutritionist and taking care of his body.

On Nov. 22, in the biggest fight of his career, Algieri will face welterweight beltholder Manny Pacquiao in Macau, China (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET). Pacquiao has won two fights in a row since losing consecutive fights in 2012 for the first time in his career -- a split decision against Timothy Bradley Jr. and a sixth-round KO to Juan Manuel Marquez.

In his own words, Algieri talks about the advantages of having the perfect diet, exercising and preparing for a 12-round fight against one of the best fighters in the world.

Which one of your victories taught you the most about overcoming obstacles inside the ring?

“My 10th pro bout against Julius Edmonds. I went into the fight with a sore right hand and then broke my left hand in the 2nd round. Finding a way to win has always been a major part of my style and strategy. I didn’t even tell my coaches I was injured until after the fight. I finished the fight with a 4th round KO and that truly was one of the biggest obstacles if not the biggest I have ever had to overcome.

“And let’s not forget in my most previous fight against Ruslan Provodnikov. I made a mistake in the first round and I paid for it. I was forced to pay the price and fight the remainder of the fight with a badly swollen eye. But, I still found a way to win. Sticking to the game plan, and staying focused in times of adversity, that’s what separates me from other fighters. My mental make-up and my mental strength has always been the difference in my fights, and that is what will propel me once again to victory on November 22nd.”

What is it about your opponent’s style that makes it so difficult? Is your kickboxing knowledge an advantage? Leg movements is very important when you have to fight against an opponent like Manny Pacquiao.

“It is not so much Manny’s style but his experience level that makes him such a dangerous opponent. He has had over 60 pro fights and been fighting for a very long time against the top fighters in the world. It is going to be my job to test how bad he actually still wants this.

“My kickboxing experience is an advantage not so much my knowledge of the sport. It is another one-on-one sport, the training and preparation is similar and at the end of the day you are in a fight. I have been fighting pretty much all my life.

“Yes Manny has great footwork. He is in and out and side to side, so being able to control the space in the ring is very important when fighting with someone with a style like Manny. Being a ring general is going to be a big part in this fight as it is with all my fights.”


What type of challenges come with preparing for a fight on another continent with a much different start time? What’s at stake for the winner inside the welterweight division? What are your goals for the future in boxing?

“It just means you have to do a lot more time management in terms of scheduling and thinking ahead. You can’t just wing it, but I don’t do that with any part of my training anyways, so it is of no concern to me. Also we will be fighting at noon over there, and that is exactly what time I always spar, so that will actually be better for me. I am a morning person so being able to fight during the day will actually play in my favor.

“This is the top of the sport. The winner here goes on to make the biggest fights that are possible not only the welterweight division but in all of boxing. A win will propel me into the top of the pound-for-pound ratings and viewed as one of the best fighters in all of boxing.

“At this point I want the biggest fights out there. I have spent a long time fighting off TV and outside of the public eye. Now I want that exposure and I want to fight the biggest names out there in boxing. I want to show that I belong here. It has taken me a long time to get to this point, and I don't plan on leaving now that I am here.”

Does being a nutritionist give you an advantage on how to prepare your body for a 12-round fight and 12 weeks of training? Describe your diet, exercising habits and hours of sleep.

“I average between eight to nine hours of sleep a night/day between naps. I generally eat between five to seven times a day, around 3,500 calories during training camp. I eat lots of fresh fruits and colorful veggies to help with recovery.

“I also eat a lot of complex grains and no processed foods. I prepare and cook about 90 percent of my own food and meals.

“I train six days a week. Most days I train twice a day. I do strength and conditioning twice a week, cardio four times a week and boxing five days a week. With my cardio I do more sprint work than distance work, but I alternate between the two.

“I also get weekly massages for recovery once a week and take an ice bath after every sparring session, which is not fun, but it is necessary.

“I take a very scientific and calculated approach to everything I do when in training leading up to the fight and in the ring on fight night. Manny said that I will be the most conditioned and smartest fighter that he will ever face. He is right.”

Five things we learned

November, 9, 2014
Nov 9
2:51
AM ET

After Sergey Kovalev’s one-sided domination of ageless wonder Bernard Hopkins in Saturday’s light heavyweight title unification bout from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, here are five things we learned:

1. Kovalev is who we thought he might be.

It was easy to question whether Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs) was everything his gaudy knockout percentage led you to believe entering the fight. But despite his never having been past eight rounds as a professional or having faced an elite opponent, the Russian destroyer finally earned the critical respect he has coveted. In fact, he might even be better than we thought. Facing a durable, difficult opponent who was able to take the fight into the championship rounds, Kovalev showed us there was far more to his craft than a big right hand. After making a statement by knocking the 49-year-old Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs) down in the opening round, Kovalev nearly bookended the feat by coming dangerously close to becoming the first fighter to finish Hopkins in the closing seconds of the final round. In between, it was all Kovalev, all the time, in a performance that solidified him as for real.

2. There are plenty of wrinkles in Kovalev’s game.

Through 26 professional fights entering Saturday night, Kovalev hadn’t been in too many situations in which he needed to prove he can box. His power has been more than enough. But Kovalev made a statement with both his poise and his accuracy in the way he systematically dismantled Hopkins. The “Krusher” was never in a hurry and held back from emptying the tank until the final minute of Round 12. He was prepared to box for 12 full rounds and did that by using his jab and footwork to constantly corner Hopkins. Even when he had Hopkins in compromising situations, Kovalev never overextended himself, and by doing that, he avoided falling into any traps. His head movement was strong. There was a thought coming in that if Hopkins could make Kovalev think instead of react, the wily veteran could gain control. But Kovalev not only never gave him that chance, he proved he has both power and polish. And that’s a dangerous combination.

3. Give Hopkins full credit for taking the fight.

Hopkins entered the ring less than two months shy of 50 (50!!!). Sure, you already knew that. Hopkins’ age was -- rightfully so -- the major selling point for the fight, as “The Alien” once again looked to defeat a younger fighter in his prime, who they said he couldn’t beat. But this was a fight Hopkins didn’t need to take. It was an old-school gesture from a guy who wrote the book on daring to be great. It was a gift for the sport in a year when more often than not, the best refused to face the best. Hopkins ended up spending the majority of the night in survival mode amid Kovalev’s constant onslaught. He needed every inch of his legendary chin to make the final bell. But he took on a dangerous challenge against arguably boxing’s biggest puncher to find out how great he can be. That’s how things used to be. And that’s how they still should be.

4. The fight was a passing of the torch.

Adonis Stevenson might still be, from a lineal sense, the champion of the world at 175 pounds. But Kovalev’s shutout victory proved he is very much the division’s most dangerous fighter. Saturday’s fight was also a passing of the torch in a way that is bigger than simply the light heavyweight division. Historically, a new star in boxing doesn’t fully begin to shine until he takes out an established name. Kovalev did just that against Hopkins, and a new star was born -- a humble knockout artist with a big smile and unique sense of humor.

5. Sadam Ali had a coming out party.

Unbeaten welterweight Sadam Ali had the glossy record and strong amateur pedigree as a 2008 U.S. Olympian entering his step-up fight with hard-punching Luis Carlos Abregu. But what he sorely lacked was experience against an established name. To make matters worse, he was coming off a shaky split-decision win in his latest bout. All of that quickly became null and void once Ali (21-0, 13 KOs) entered the ring in the co-main event. After boxing circles around the surprisingly cautious Abregu (36-2, 29 KOs) in a fight that thoroughly lacked excitement, Ali stepped forward to make a statement in Round 6 by flooring the durable Argentine with a big right hand. Ali continued to pour it on in Round 9 to score a breakthrough stoppage that announced him as a welcome new name to a loaded division at 147 pounds. We knew Ali could box, but we didn’t know he could punch -- at least not on this level. But his performance has many taking notice.

Five things we learned

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
1:08
AM ET

After an exciting doubleheader at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, featuring knockout victories from a pair of unbeaten titlists on the rise, here are five things we learned from the card titled “Mexican Style”:

1. Golovkin is ready for true crossover stardom

Although Gennady Golovkin’s second-round knockout of veteran middleweight Marco Antonio Rubio on Saturday proved somewhat anticlimactic, it was no fault of the “Kazakh KO King.”

Golovkin’s 18th consecutive knockout and 12th straight defense of his 160-pound title only escalated American boxing’s love affair with the grinning, humble fighter wielding dynamite in both hands. Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) has not yet fully made the leap into the conscious of the general sports fan, but he doesn’t appear to be far off.

Plain and simple, he delivers on the action promised in a time when fans haven’t consistently received an equal payout for their money spent. With the brands of boxing’s incumbent kings growing tired due to factors such as age and unwillingness to make the best fights available, Golovkin, 32, is a breath of fresh air to the sport.

While his few remaining critics are quick to remind that he has yet to face true A-level competition, his insistence on staying busy and being willing to fight anyone over a span of three weight classes has more than compensated. The Tysonesque buzz that has followed Golovkin from one devastating knockout to another is real. It won't be long now before the rest of the American sports world begins to fully take notice.

2. California debut proves GGG’s brand has closed the gap

Mixing his danger with his lack of a native fan base made it an easy justification for Golovkin to become boxing’s most avoided fighter. But prospective opponents can no longer make the excuse that GGG is not a marketable draw.

[+] EnlargeMarco Antonio Rubio, Gennady Golovkin
AP Photo/Alex GallardoGennady Golovkin, left, scored his 18th consecutive KO victory by stopping Marco Antonio Rubio in Round 2 on Saturday.
Golovkin made his West Coast debut in front of a sold-out crowd of 9,323 at a venue that repeatedly opened extra seating in the lead-up to the fight. Three months earlier, he made his debut in the big arena at New York’s Madison Square Garden to spectacularly knock out former titlist Daniel Geale in front of more than 8,500 fans.

GGG is ready to fill the big arenas and make the leap onto the pay-per-view level for the right fight in 2015. What that will do is dramatically enlarge the name-value of his potential opponents.

With Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez signing a long-term deal to return to HBO, along with his promoter Golden Boy showing a newfound willingness to play nice with others, big fights are on the horizon at middleweight.

By the time the winner of a possible spring 2015 showdown between Alvarez and middleweight champion Miguel Cotto has his hand raised, Golovkin -- who became Cotto’s mandatory challenger in winning a vacant interim title Saturday --- should see his brand further developed.

Although that won’t make him any less dangerous for the winner to face -- especially if his knockout streak continues -- potential Golovkin opponents can no longer contend fighting him isn’t a smart move, financially.

3. Bad weekend for Rubio

Despite entering the fight as a heavy underdog, Rubio (59-7-1, 51 KOs) was expected to challenge Golovkin in ways other recent opponents were unable to do.

Rubio, 34, entered the fight with height and reach advantages over Golovkin, along with respected durability. With 51 knockouts in 59 victories entering the fight, he also represented arguably the hardest puncher Golovkin had seen.

But the native of Mexico lost both his interim belt and his ability to challenge Golovkin for his full title the day before the fight, when he weighed in over the middleweight limit at 161.8 pounds. Despite having two hours to shed the extra weight, Rubio never made it back to the scales and forfeited $100,000 of his $350,000 purse.

To make matters worse for Rubio, along with his unprofessionalism, he failed to live up to his end of the bargain inside the ring. Despite a solid opening round in which he pressured Golovkin and landed a mixture of left hooks and body shots, Rubio folded quickly once he tasted GGG’s power in Round 2.

Golovkin set up Rubio’s exit with a perfect right uppercut that sent him reeling and running for cover along the ropes. Golovkin swooped in and capped off a flurry with an overhand left to the top of the head that sent Rubio to the canvas.

Rubio sat up quickly but took his time getting up, as referee Jack Reiss counted him out with Rubio appearing to not want any more.

4. A featherweight star is born in Walters

Secondary beltholder Nicholas Walters entered Saturday’s bout against 126-pound titlist Nonito Donaire known mostly for his power, which stopped 10 of his previous 11 opponents.

But the native of Jamaica left the bout with a memorable knockout against the biggest name in a loaded, red-hot division.

Walters (25-0, 21 KOs), 28, announced himself to the boxing public in his first appearance on American television by outworking and ultimately stopping Donaire in Round 6.

Out-jabbing Donaire to the tune of 44-4 according to CompuBox, Walters set the stage for his devastating power. Donaire was floored in Round 3 for the first time in his career on a beautiful uppercut that opened a cut above his right eye.

By Round 6, Walters was simply wearing him down as the bigger man and finished him with a right hand to the side of the head that sent Donaire to the canvas face first, moments before referee Raul Caiz Jr. called off the fight.

The victory also showcased Walters’ humility and the respect he held for Donaire during their postfight interview. Walters not only doesn’t lack for confidence, but he’s also a potential handful for any of the other titlists in the division, including two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko.

5. The end is near for Donaire

Donaire gave Walters full credit for the victory and said he entered at his best and never trained as hard for a fight in his career.

But what Donaire’s loss illustrated was that, at 31, the former four-division titlist is no longer the guy who captured fighter of the year honors in 2012. It also gave credence to the thought Donaire had moved up one weight class too big.

Either way, the future of his career, at least against elite opponents, appears to be over. While Donaire refused to take the bait when HBO’s Max Kellerman suggested retirement after the bout, his comments spoke volumes.

“I have to go back to the drawing board,” Donaire said. “I know I can’t compete with guys like Walters. He was just overwhelming me. I succumbed to his size and power and his overwhelming aura.”

Golovkin in his own words

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
3:13
PM ET
After a dominant victory over Daniel Geale in July, Gennady Golovkin is ready to take his act to the West Coast to face Mexico's Marco Antonio Rubio on Saturday, Oct. 18 (HBO, 10 p.m. ET) at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs), a middleweight titlist since 2010 -- when he beat Milton Nunez in Panama -- faces Rubio (29-6-1, 51 KOs), who owns an interim title in the 160-pound division.

For this fight, Golovkin is back training in the mountains of Big Bear in California.

In his own words, Golovkin talks about training and fighting in California and the opportunity to build a fan base on the West Coast.

Discuss what it feels like to be fighting in California for the first time.

“I first came to Big Bear to train over four years ago with my coach, Abel Sanchez. I liked that it was quiet and peaceful and a good place to work and prepare for my fights.

“The other fighters in camp made me feel welcome right away, as did Coach’s family. I missed my wife and son back in Germany, but knew this would be best for my career. And I would see my family when I go back home in between fights.

“Along with training, I’ve been able to attend other fights and have always been approached by fans who wanted my autograph and picture. While they see me fight on HBO in New York City, they also always wanted to know when I would be fighting in Los Angeles.

“The StubHub Center I’ve been to many times for other fights, and each time the support from the fans increases. Also, when I go into Los Angeles for other events, fans are very supportive as well.

“So this fight against Marco Antonio Rubio is a gift to all my fans here in Southern California, everyone who kept asking about fighting here and have been so supportive. I’m very happy to be fighting on October 18th at the StubHub Center and promise a great show to those in attendance and those watching at home on HBO.”

New style suits Martirosyan well

October, 7, 2014
Oct 7
2:13
PM ET

Vanes Martirosyan will never forget walking into promoter Dan Goossen’s office for the first time.

Coming off his first defeat against Demetrius Andrade in their vacant junior middleweight title bout last November -- and having recently been dropped by promoter Top Rank -- Martirosyan was at a crossroads moment of his career at age 27.

“[Dan] looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘You have so much talent -- let me help you out.’” Martirosyan told ESPN.com. “I believed him because he looked me straight in the eye when he talked to me. Then I got with [Dan’s brother and trainer] Joe [Goossen] and it was the same with him. It’s all a family with 100 percent honesty.

“When you get people that are 100 percent, you are going to get 100 percent of the results. Nobody believed in me after my loss, except for Dan.”

Less than a year later, Martirosyan scored his second straight win under the Goossen banner -- and the biggest of his career -- on Saturday when he outdueled Willie Nelson by unanimous decision in an action-packed bout at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

Not only was the victory an integral one for Martirosyan (35-1-1, 21 KOs) in terms of his future as a title contender at 154 pounds, but the bout took on substantially more meaning following Dan Goossen’s death less than a week earlier after a short battle with liver cancer.

Martirosyan (35-1-1), a native of Armenia who fights out of Glendale, California, entered the bout unsure if going on with the fight was the right move. But it was a message relayed to him from Dan Goossen shortly before his death that spurred him on.

“What motivated me the most was that Dan, before he left, told Joe to make sure that we do good Saturday,” Martirosyan said. “So we had to grant his wish and we had to make him proud. That was one of the most motivational things that he said, and it helped me a lot.”

The combination of a heavy heart and a new attitude under the tutelage of Joe Goossen helped Martirosyan put forth a performance against Nelson that was atypical to what we have seen from him in the past.

This was an all-new Martirosyan -- a fighter focused on seizing the moment and bursting right through it.

[+] EnlargeVanes Martirosyan, Willie Nelson
Ed Diller for ESPNVanes Martirosyan, right, scored a much needed win against Willie Nelson last Saturday.
After suffering a cut above his right eye in Round 4, he never wilted. Martirosyan not only hurt Nelson (23-2-1, 13 KOs) with a series of uppercuts and straight right hands late in Round 8, he came out of his corner the next round like a man possessed.

“I wanted to get into a brawl, to be honest,” Martirosyan said. “After Round 8, I thought about Corrales-Castillo for some reason having Joe in my corner.”

Joe Goossen was in Diego Corrales’ corner when he rallied to dramatically stop Jose Luis Castillo in their legendary first bout in 2005. He was also the trainer of record when John Molina did the same in the final round against Mickey Bey last year.

So the marriage between fighter and trainer would appear to be a perfect one when you consider Martirosyan, once a standout amateur who represented the United States at the 2004 Olympics, has had difficulty fulfilling his potential on the pro level.

Both in his loss to Andrade, in which Martirosyan scored a first-round knockdown, and his 2012 draw with Erislandy Lara, he was plagued by stretches of passive inactivity. That has changed under the influence of Joe Goossen, who has long preached an attacking style.

“It’s all Joe Goossen. I used to just box and move, but Joe is making me become a complete fighter,” Martirosyan said. “I think working with Joe is going to make me more action-packed and smarter, with more knockouts.

“One thing he always talks about is [fighting with] balls. He always asks me, ‘Do you have your mouthpiece? Do you have your cup? Do you have your balls?’”

Martirosyan’s turn to a more exciting style should also help him get him the fights he desires against the very best in the division. His short list includes Austin Trout, rematches against Lara and Andrade, or a showdown with Canelo Alvarez.

“This is boxing, and we are warriors. People pay to see us fight and want to see a good fight,” said Martirosyan, who is managed by Al Haymon. “[Canelo] comes forward to fight and, as you guys saw Saturday, I come forward. It will be action-packed and something the fans would love -- something like Castillo-Corrales, maybe.”

There’s a reason why Martirosyan has referred to his new alliance with the Goossen family as a second chance for his career. He claims the loss to Andrade showed him “who my true friends are, including some family members,” leading him to keep a much smaller inner circle these days.

It’s that family atmosphere within camp that has allowed Martirosyan to blossom and begin to find out how good he can be. There’s a feeling of trust that is tangible. For the first time against Nelson, Martirosyan entered a fight feeling like he was fully prepared, which simply wasn’t the case under former trainer Freddie Roach.

“No disrespect to Freddie, but he always had to go and train Manny Pacquiao or Miguel Cotto,” Martirosyan said. “So I never had 100 percent focus in my training. Now that I do, I see the difference. Joe puts 100 percent of his time into me, and that’s why you saw a good performance on Saturday, and you are going to see more in the future.”

End of the road for a legend in Arce

October, 6, 2014
Oct 6
1:58
PM ET
LOS MOCHIS, Mexico -- Jorge Arce kept it honest.

Despite being a fighter who lacked great technique, he routinely compensated by being a brave, fan-friendly and courageous boxer in each of his pro fights.

Arce stood by his style on Saturday night while challenging for countryman Jhonny Gonzalez's featherweight title. By using his all-or-nothing approach, Arce tried to squeeze one more win onto his impressive résumé.

But Gonzalez punished him severely, opening a cut over Arce's left eye and forcing him to slow down and focus more on surviving as Gonzalez left the Centro de Usos Multiples with an 11th-round TKO win.

"I think I achieved that, since Jhonny is one of the best fighters I've faced in my career," Arce said.

After losing the fight, Arce (68-4-2, 49 KOs) went home, where his wife Karime had prepared a party with his friends, to celebrate his career and his last day as an active boxer.

Arce, 35, won his first world title at age 19. In the end, he was involved in 28 world title fights, in six different weight classes, from 108 to 130 pounds. He won world titles at junior flyweight, flyweight, junior bantamweight, bantamweight and junior featherweight.

And boy, could Arce be one courageous fighter. Even when he was a couple of inches away from being knocked out, he was still dangerous enough to stage a comeback to claim a miraculous victory.

Every fight involving Arce was worth the price of admission. While he took some tough losses against names like Michael Carbajal, Nonito Donaire and Vic Darchinyan, he also scored some memorable victories. Hussein Hussein, Wilfredo Vazquez and Yo-Sam Choi are three of his most cherished wins.

Against Gonzalez, in front of his home crowd in Los Mochis, Arce was well aware that the odds were against him. But he tried, one more time. Despite his severely damaged eyelid, Arce tried to keep on fighting, but it all ended in the 11th round.

It was the end of the road for "El Travieso,"a true boxing warrior, who loved to defy the odds. And even Gonzalez took his hat off, to honor Arce, and admitted to taking his foot off the gas pedal late in the fight out of respect.

"I defeated a great boxer, a very courageous one," Gonzalez said. "He earned my respect. I was convinced that I would win. I had no mercy, I wanted to knock him out. But, as the fight progressed into the later rounds, and his eyelid was so damaged, the punishment was unnecessary. He had to go back home, to his family, so it was time to slow down."

Payano focused on Moreno's title

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25
1:52
PM ET
Remembered for his strong record as an amateur, Juan Carlos Payano, a two-time Olympian from the Dominican Republic, is aiming high in professional boxing.

With only four years of paid experience in the sport, Payano will compete for his first world title Friday when he meets Panamanian bantamweight titlist Anselmo "Chemito" Moreno (35-2-1, 12 KOs) at the Mesquite Arena in Mesquite, Texas.

Payano (15-0, 8 KOs), who owns a pair of silver medals from the Pan American Games, is aware that this is a golden opportunity for him on a card put together by Mike Tyson's Iron Mike Productions.

[+] EnlargeJuan Carlos Payano
AP Photo/Murad SezerFormer Olympian Juan Carlos Payano of the Dominican Republic enters his first title shot on Friday against Anselmo Moreno.
"I'm in the final stages, and I'm basically ready for the fight and waiting for that time and the moment we go head to head," Payano said. "After training with my trainer Germán Caicedo in Miami, as always, and having prepared in the best way possible, I'm ready.

"I realize that Moreno is a tough fighter, but it makes me very proud to be fighting a great champion like him. It has always been my aim to fight against the best and become one of them myself. My goal is to reach the top, and if I'm to achieve that, then [Friday] is the big challenge."

Payano, 30, assured that a victory will open the doors to the big leagues for him and his team, something that he has always dreamed of.

"I want to be among the best," Payano said. "Moreno is in my sights right now, and I'm confident of winning on the night, although I'm expecting a tough fight. Thanks to that, I'm 110 percent ready to get in there and fight."

Known as a versatile boxer who is able to unleash the dynamite in his knuckles, Payano said that, along with the chance to compete for a world title, he is eager to be a titlist under the flag of Iron Mike Productions.

"I'm certainly delighted to be working with someone like Mike Tyson," Payano said. "I've always really looked up to him, and now he's my promoter. To have him in my corner gives me a great pride and great motivation. It makes me really happy. I enjoy being part of the firm, and I don't want to let him down."

Payano rejected the claim that fighting in the United States would have an effect on him, as he has always been used to fighting away from home.

"It's not important whether I fight at home or not," Payano said. "I'm a fighter, and I fight wherever I have to. I'm not really one for favoritism. I'm here to fight, whether it's in Panama or wherever. We're on neutral ground; he's outside Panama, and he has always fought there. The main thing in my favor is my excellent training."

Garcia to leave Mayweather's corner

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
8:18
PM ET
Rafael Garcia is no longer in charge of taping Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s fists and being his cutman, something he has done since 2001. The main reason: It's time to retire at 85 years of age.

Garcia's name is among those mentioned in possible changes that Mayweather will make to his team along with Maayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe. Garcia did not wrap Mayweather's hands during Saturday's rematch against Marcos Maidana.

And Garcia said that before Mayweather notifies him regarding his future, he has already thanked him.

"Yes, it's true I didn't tape him, but he hasn't fired me," Garcia told ESPNDeportes.com. "I thanked him after the fight because I retired from boxing, but I'm fine with him. Thanks to him I live how I live.

Garcia didn't find out that he had been relieved of his duties on Saturday until the last minute.

"Floyd told me to go with Mickey Bey for his fight against Miguel Vazquez," Garcia said. "When I came back they were already taping him. I didn't oppose to it, he's the one fighting, not me, and before they push me aside, I leave and thank him for everything."

With over 50 years in boxing and having worked with stars such as Lupe Pintor, Rafael "Bazooka" Limon, Alexis Arguello, Roberto Duran, Wilfredo Gomez and many more, Garcia will always have a special place for Mayweather.

"I know he went to Miami on vacation, when he comes back I'll talk to him and I will thank him [and] tell him it's been a pleasure to be with him," Garcia said. "But now I'm leaving.

"Maybe I'll go to the gym and watch him and the others, but I'm all grown up, I want to enjoy life."

Garcia would not comment whether he was upset at Bob Ware for wrapping Mayweather's hands before the Maidana rematch. He also said he wouldn't be surprised if unofficial camp member Alex Ariza continued working with Mayweather for other fights as a strength and conditioning coach.

He also declined to comment about Ellerbe, with whom he has a good relationship. Garcia said those are things that Mayweather and Ellerbe have to take care of and that getting involved in that issue would bring bad memories of the experiences he has had with both over the years.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s still got it

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
1:22
PM ET
LAS VEGAS -- It was an intense yet very different 12 rounds of action between pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Marcos Maidana in Saturday’s rematch at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

But after Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) defended his welterweight and junior middleweight titles via unanimous decision to remain unbeaten, here are five things that we learned from the rematch:

1. Mayweather stuck to his strengths

After how close their first fight was in May, as Mayweather stood and traded with Maidana before making adjustments and hanging on by a slim margin, we figured Mayweather would go back to the basics and use his legs to create separation.

We were right.

Mayweather largely avoided confrontations and spent the whole night backpedaling and circling away from Maidana’s advancements. But that doesn’t mean Mayweather wasn’t brilliant in his execution.

Outside of a few dangerous situations early on, Mayweather stuck to the basics of hit and not be hit, never allowing himself to get pinned for too long against the ropes or in the corner. Mayweather sought preservation over retaliation and by doing so showcased the clear gap in ability between the two fighters.

2 Floyd had some help too

It was easy to predict that the change in referees from Tony Weeks in the first fight to veteran Kenny Bayless would have an impact on the rematch. And boy did it.

Weeks’ liberal stance on dirty tactics from both fighters in the first meeting clearly favored Maidana’s strategy and gave him a distinct advantage. In the rematch, Bayless’ conservative handling of clinches did exactly the opposite, and Mayweather was the beneficiary.

The fight was still plenty dirty, with Mayweather claiming he was bit on the left hand in Round 8 and Maidana losing a point in Round 10 for shoving Mayweather to the canvas. But the quickness with which Bayless separated the two fighters at even the first sign of a clinch had a major impact on how the fight played out. As did the blind eye he appeared to turn by failing to police -- or even warn -- Mayweather for his constant holding.

3. ‘Money’ was all business

Gone was Mayweather’s elaborate ring entrance from their first fight in May. There weren’t any dollar bills with Mayweather’s face on them falling from the sky or celebrity rappers performing by his side during the ring walk. We didn’t even see Justin Bieber.

Instead, Mayweather entered the ring with a stoic look and his head down. With two fights left on his lucrative Showtime/CBS deal and the potential of retiring undefeated, there was little room for error. Even though Mayweather helped build up the fight’s promotion by talking about wanting to stop Maidana in recent weeks, his mentality turned to that of surviving and advancing when he entered the ring.

Considering the dangerous and unpredictable nature of Maidana, it was a mindset he needed to have. But credit Mayweather for blocking out the many distractions that have followed him in recent months and removing any lingering doubt created by the first fight.

4. Mayweather showed his age in subtle ways

Checking the pulse of social media after the fight, it was clear Saturday’s rematch was deemed a disappointment by many looking for a repeat of the drama and uncertain ending from the first fight.

Mayweather took home a much wider decision in a fight mostly void of two-way exchanges. But that doesn’t mean the second fight lacked for intensity to those watching from ringside.

A case could be made that Mayweather, who largely avoided getting hit cleanly to head and face in the first fight, had to work much harder in the rematch, finding himself in specific situations that were much more dangerous and compromising.

Maidana landed a flush left hand at the bell in Round 3 that clearly appeared to hurt Mayweather. Maidana followed it up with a brilliant Round 4 in which he routinely backed Mayweather up to the ropes and landed clean and heavy shots from close range.

Although Maidana was never able to quite duplicate that level of success later in the fight, he created a real sense at times that Mayweather was one clean punch away from real trouble. It’s a feeling that is foreign to most fans of Mayweather fights and one that didn’t show up as much in their first fight despite the close nature of the scorecards.

Mayweather may have proved Saturday that, at 37, he’s still got it. In fact, he connected an astounding 51 percent of his punches overall and 58 percent of his power shots. But he appeared legitimately vulnerable to Maidana’s pressure and rarely put forth a posture that screamed of poise and control.

Clearly we hold Mayweather to a different standard than others due to his greatness. But there were times he appeared to be surviving as much as he was thriving in the later rounds.

5. Floyd is (somewhat) open to a Pacquiao fight

It was sure nice to hear Mayweather handle questions about a fight against Manny Pacquiao without instantly shooting the idea down. But does this mean the fight actually happens in 2015? Based on the history between the two (not to mention the ongoing beef between Al Haymon and Top Rank’s Bob Arum), I wouldn’t be so sure.

But Mayweather didn’t dodge Pacquiao’s name when asked by Showtime’s Jim Gray after the fight, saying, “If the Pacquiao fight presents itself, let’s make it happen.” Moments later, when asked the same question by ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna, Mayweather said the fight would have to take place on Showtime PPV.

Later in the evening at the news conference when asked again, Mayweather said, “You can keep asking the same questions, and you can keep getting the same answers.”

So the results are somewhat inconclusive. But if the pay-per-view numbers from Saturday’s fight come back lower than expected for the third time in four fights since Mayweather signed the exclusive deal with Showtime, the hurdles that would need to be cleared to make the Pacquiao fight could have a better chance of actually happening.

A lot more red tape would need to be sorted out than even mentioned above, and considering the proven stubbornness of the parties in question, it’s hard to gain too much confidence. But it would appear we are a heck of a lot closer than we were in the recent past.

Sorting out controversy entering Mayhem

September, 10, 2014
Sep 10
5:54
PM ET
Considering the controversies that happened during the first fight between Marcos Maidana and Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May, which ones should we keep in mind when they step inside the ring to face each other for the second time on Saturday in Las Vegas?

There are some people who believe that the worst storyline from the first fight was the judges’ scorecards. The opinions are split: some think Mayweather won easily at least eight out of the 12 rounds, while others take Maidana's side, claiming that the Argentinian should have pulled the upset (or at least, received a draw).

Controversy No. 2 for this fight involves the gloves. This controversy might be well remembered by the fans, since Maidana and his team have brought it up over and over again during the media tour.

Hours before the first fight back in May, Mayweather threatened not to step inside the ring if Maidana refused to switch gloves. Originally, the Argentinian wanted to use a pair of custom Everlast MX gloves, but Mayweather protested, arguing that the gloves were a threat to his health. In the end, the managers made a deal, and Maidana wore a pair of regular Everlast gloves. For Saturday's fight, it appears Maidana will wear the Everlast Powerlock gloves.

Or maybe, people should have a close look at controversy No. 3: Maidana's dirty tactics. In May, he had an aggressive approach, going after Mayweather head-first, throwing elbows and even trying to hit him with his knee.

All three controversies were factors that weighed on Mayweather's decision to give an immediate rematch to Maidana. On Saturday, both fighters will try to settle the score, only this time without any controversy.

Mayweather-Maidana by the numbers

September, 10, 2014
Sep 10
6:36
AM ET

This Saturday, Floyd Mayweather Jr. will once again step in the ring with Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Mayweather won the first fight in May by unanimous decision, but many felt Maidana came the closest anyone has to becoming the first fighter to defeat Mayweather. He will try once again, while Mayweather looks to move to 47-0 and one step closer to retiring undefeated. Here are the numbers you need to know for Saturday’s fight:

2: This is the second rematch Floyd Mayweather has given in his illustrious career. After a controversial unanimous decision win in 2002 against Jose Luis Castillo, Mayweather defended his newly won WBC lightweight title almost eight months later in a rematch. Mayweather outlanded Castillo 162-137 en route to another unanimous decision victory.

221: Punches Maidana landed on Mayweather, the most of any Mayweather opponent in 37 tracked CompuBox fights. Maidana used an aggressive approach in the first six rounds of the fight. He attempted 78.5 punches per round and outlanded Mayweather 125-98 (110 power punches). The only other fighter to land more than 200 punches against Mayweather was Castillo in their first fight (203).

114: According to ESPN Stats & Information tracking, 114 of Maidana’s 221 punches were landed with Mayweather against the ropes (51 percent).

3: The fight in May marked the third time in Mayweather’s 46-fight career that he won by majority or split decision. Although some might argue the first Castillo decision, Mayweather’s only win by split decision came when he defeated Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. More recently, the Maidana fight and the previous bout against Canelo Alvarez were both victories by majority decision for the undefeated champion.

25: The plus/minus rating for Mayweather, the highest among active fighters. Plus/minus rating is determined by subtracting an opponent's connect percentage from a listed fighter's overall connect percentage. In his past three fights, Mayweather has plus/minus ratings of plus-28 (Maidana), plus-24 (Alvarez) and plus-22 (Robert Guerrero). Second on the plus/minus list is Erislandy Lara at plus-17.

54: Mayweather's connect percentage against Maidana. Mayweather was the less active fighter of the two, but he was by far the more effective. Mayweather landed between 50 and 59 percent in six of 12 rounds, 60 and 69 percent twice, and 14 of 20 punches in Round 4 for a 70 percent clip. Maidana's highest connect percentage in any round was 30 percent in the eighth round.

15: Million dollars gained from the live gate in the first Mayweather-Maidana fight, the third most in MGM Grand history. Mayweather has said MGM Grand is the place where "Money gets money," and that's proven in live gate sales. Mayweather has the three largest gates in MGM Grand boxing history, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and has garnered $20 million from the Alvarez fight and $18.4 million from the De La Hoya fight.

12: The money helps Mayweather stay in Vegas, but the MGM Grand is also home to 12 Mayweather victories. Mayweather won at MGM Grand for the first time in 2000 against Gregorio Vargas and has defeated legends such as Castillo, De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez and Miguel Cotto. MGM Grand has hosted every Mayweather fight since 2007.

85: According to Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, Mayweather is an 8-1 favorite (minus-800), which gives him an 85 percent chance to win the rematch. In the previous bout, Mayweather was given an 87 percent chance to win the fight, with closing odds of minus-950 to Maidana’s plus-625 (13 percent to win).

5: Kenny Bayless will be the referee for Mayweather-Maidana, which marks the fifth time he has been in the ring as the referee for a Mayweather fight. Bayless was the referee for Mayweather's victories against Alvarez, Shane Mosley and De La Hoya and for Mayweather's pro debut against Roberto Apodaca.

3: Three of Mayweather's four titles will be on the line when he defends the WBA and WBC welterweight titles as well as the WBC junior middleweight title. The most recent time titles from multiple divisions were on the line in a fight was 1988, when Sugar Ray Leonard fought Donny Lalonde for belts in the super middleweight and light heavyweight divisions.

--Statistical support provided by CompuBox

Box Fan Expo good for boxing fans

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
12:40
PM ET
Mike Tyson Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty ImagesThe Box Fan Expo will give fans the chance to meet some of their favorite fighters.
In a sport as disorganized and politically controlled as boxing, it’s not uncommon to see the sport’s two most important entities -- the fighters and the fans -- get the short end of the stick.

Alonzo Benezra wants to see that change.

“It’s about the fighters and it’s about the fans,” said Benezra, the creator and organizer of the first annual Box Fan Expo. “That’s the primary things. All the rest is secondary.”

Modeled after a similar annual event put on by the UFC, the first Box Fan Expo will take place on Saturday, Sept. 13, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the same day as Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s rematch against Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand Arena (9 p.m. ET, Showtime PPV).

“It’s going to be quite an experience for the boxing industry, as well as the fans who deserve this and need this,” Benezra said. “Finally they get a chance to meet their boxing heroes and it’s a chance for the promoters to tap into the fans that never get to see the fighters face to face. We want the fighters to make money and brand whichever product they want to brand.”

Fans can expect to get a chance to meet some of boxing’s most popular names, past and present, including fighters, trainers, promoters and broadcasters. Some of the confirmed names include Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr., Riddick Bowe, Juan Manuel Marquez, Sergio Martinez, Robert Guerrero and Brandon Rios, with more constantly being added.

After watching the success of the UFC Fan Expo, Benezra had a vision of a similar event for boxing.

“When you watch the UFC, you see that they are branding their company so well and have really set the mark,” Benezra said. “I want to salute them as they are showing us how to do this.”

Benezra, however, was quick to point out an obvious hurdle between the potential success of his event and that of the UFC -- organization. Yet, despite the clear advantages of the UFC’s linear structure -- with all entities ultimately falling under one flag -- Benezra sees his event helping boxing get closer to a similar vision.

“Boxing is so fragmented, but because of that, it’s a chance to take all these fragmented pieces and come together under one roof and show the world we can come together when it’s for the fans,” Benezra said. “This event was only built for the fans. But it also gives the boxing industry an opportunity to network in between for those who haven’t had the chance to connect.

“I’m sure there are going to be deals made at the expo and we welcome every single angle. We just wanted to create a platform for the fighters to have a chance to promote themselves.”

Getting boxing’s biggest rivals, from a promotional sense, to come together under one roof would surely be a rare occurrence for the sport. But it’s all part of Benezra’s long-term vision for the event, which would annually take place on the weekend of the sport’s biggest fight.

The way Benezra sees it, boxing’s hard-core fan base will always be there to support the sport through thick and thin. But for the sport to truly cultivate new fans, there needs to be harmony, with its biggest players coming together to put the fans first.

“The message that I want to send to the boxing industry and to the top promoters is that they should support Box Fan Expo 100 percent because, in return, it will come back to them,” Benezra said. “Imagine if they have all of their fighters coming together under one roof. This is going to be the most powerful event of the year because you are having all of these fans and all of these countries and top celebrities together. How can anyone compete?”

Tickets for the event are $30 in advance online and $40 at the gate. Fans can visit the Box Fan Expo website for more information.

Broner needs to prove he's an elite fighter

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
12:52
PM ET

Searching for the truth has always been difficult when taking stock of former three-division titlist Adrien Broner.

As boxing’s undeniable clown prince, Broner is a rare fighter who sits on the fragile nest egg of holding real potential to become the sport’s biggest draw. But it’s never easy separating the fighter from the sideshow that comes with him, creating polarizing responses as to whether he’s really good enough to ever get there.

It’s clear that Broner (28-1, 22 KOs) is no longer the same monster he was at 135 pounds and below, able to overpower opponents by standing directly in front of them and breaking them down with menacing countershots.

But does that mean he’s necessarily as overrated and incapable of adjusting as he appeared to be while losing his welterweight title to Marcos Maidana in December?

That’s the question that will continue to follow Broner until he steps up and quiets the doubt by defeating a top-ranked opponent. Now competing at junior welterweight, he likely won’t have that opportunity Sept. 6 when he faces Emmanuel Taylor in Broner’s backyard of Cincinnati.

Adrien BronerEvery time I fought at home, I gave my fans a knockout. I spoiled my fan base in Cincinnati. So every time I fight here, that's what they want. I have to give them a knockout. I got to. And it's got to be pretty too.

-- Adrien Broner
Although Taylor (18-2, 12 KOs), 23, is a respected boxer, he isn’t in the same class as the division’s leading men of Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson and Lucas Matthysse, with the latter joining Broner as co-headliners of the card in separate bouts.

Still, if Taylor is unable to outright answer the questions following Broner, he should be able to at least further the conversation by testing Broner’s commitment to the sport.

“Every time I fought at home, I gave my fans a knockout,” Broner said. “I spoiled my fan base in Cincinnati. So every time I fight here, that's what they want.

”I have to give them a knockout. I got to. And it's got to be pretty too. I think I'm going to hit him with the 30 piece and the biscuit.”

Although Broner said the right things in the aftermath of his humbling loss to Maidana, his next fight against Carlos Molina in May saw a return to both his tired in-ring antics and a one-dimensional style.

Broner not only failed to re-establish himself as a power puncher after dropping down in weight, but he was also hit repeatedly by a heavy underdog who lacked the power to make him pay. Just like in his loss to Maidana, Broner was far too stationary and repeatedly caught with his hands down by looping right hands, making for an unimpressive showcase victory.

Taylor has been keeping close tabs.

"I saw his fight against Maidana, and I saw a lot of weaknesses there. But that's not the only way he can be beaten,” Taylor said. “I definitely can take advantages of his weaknesses, but I have some other plans for fighting this guy.”

The good news for Broner is that he’s still so young, having turned 25 in July. The trash talk has returned in the buildup to the fight with Taylor, although a lot of that plays into his persona as a spoiled, flamboyant star who draws as many fans hoping to see him lose as simply see him.

It’s a marketing strategy that has done wonders for Broner’s “big bro” Floyd Mayweather Jr., who has the goods in the ring to back everything up. Broner simply isn’t that same level of fighter. But then again, who is?

In some ways, the loss to Maidana removed Broner from the pressures that come with living in Mayweather’s shadow, allowing him to start fresh and become the best Adrien Broner he’s capable of.

Step 2 of that journey begins Sept. 6 against Taylor where, regardless of the reasons why we watch, Broner remains a lightning rod who forces us to tune in. Yet, only “The Problem” can answer whether his nickname is a greater reflection on the issues he provides for his opponents or to himself.

Best fights to make at welterweight

August, 19, 2014
Aug 19
1:18
PM ET

There was a certain refreshing nature to the way England’s Kell Brook soundly defeated Shawn Porter on Saturday to capture his welterweight title.

It wasn’t just the convincing nature of Brook’s performance or the fact that his victory announced -- somewhat unexpectedly -- a new player at 147 pounds in boxing’s undisputed glamour division.

The victory by Brook, 28, was extra sweet because it came within the grounds of a disturbingly rare meeting between unbeaten titlist and unbeaten challenger.

Brook (33-0, 22 KOs), who saw his shot against then-titleholder Devon Alexander fall apart three times due to injuries sustained to both fighters in the past two years, was able to challenge for the belt held by Porter (24-1-1, 15 KOs) because he was the mandatory. Without that distinction, it’s fair to question whether Brook would have had that chance in this spot.

After an almost dream-like 2013 for boxing, the first eight months of 2014 has seen the sport devolve back into a state of slow-play matchmaking and promoters not working together. Outside of an unforeseen surprise like Bernard Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev, fights like Porter-Brook have been few and far between in a year dominated by high-profile mismatches and too many pay-per-views.

Brook’s victory over Porter, however, reminded us of how important it is to get the kind of fights whose sole purpose are to give us answers regarding which fighter is truly for real.

With that thought in mind, here are the top five fights that can realistically be made in the welterweight division. Forget the idea of a Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao bout or anything else directly blocked by network exclusive deals or promoters and advisers who don’t play nicely. If those restrictions weren’t already painfully in place, one could quickly concoct 10 matchups better than any you will see below.

But these are the five best matchups at 147 pounds that not only could happen in the next 12 months but really should. So let the involuntary shadowboxing begin:

5. Kell Brook-Keith Thurman

While an all-England showdown between Brook and Amir Khan would be a major superfight across the pond, this pairing would do a better job definitively answering which fighter truly is “next” in the welterweight division. Both fighters are unbeaten, poised and well-rounded. Where do I sign up?

4. Ruslan Provodnikov-Brandon Rios

There’s certainly a bit of guilty pleasure associated with this fight between the two most unapologetically fearsome brawlers in the game. Yes, there would be blood. This would be one of those fights that you would tell three friends to tell three friends to tune in for. Violence and dramatic entertainment wouldn’t just be a hopeful expectation in this case but a guarantee.

3. Danny Garcia-Amir Khan II

Garcia, the unbeaten recognized champion at 140 pounds, has plenty of big fight possibilities in front of him at junior welterweight against the likes of Lamont Peterson, Adrien Broner and a possible rematch with Lucas Matthysse. But with the weight cut becoming increasingly harder for him, a move up to welterweight is inevitable. What better way to make a debut than in a high-profile rematch against the exciting and vulnerable Khan, who had plenty of success in the early parts of their first meeting before eating a flush left hook from Garcia that he never recovered from.

2. Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Keith Thurman

The obvious reactions regarding whether Thurman is ready for a fight of this nature or if his résumé deserves it quickly fade when you look at Mayweather’s current pool of prospective opponents within the division. We know we aren’t going to see “Money” against the likes of Pacquiao or Timothy Bradley Jr., so when you factor in Thurman’s game-changing power, balanced skill and bustling personality, the unbeaten interim titlist’s unanswered questions only add to the prospective intrigue of the fight. While you are much more likely to see Mayweather, should he defeat Marcos Maidana in their Sept. 13 rematch, in lower-risk/higher-reward fights, a showdown with Thurman is not only easy to make but also the most interesting for Floyd on paper at 147.

1. Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez V

I don’t want to hear about customer fatigue or the fact that the two fighters would be a combined age of 77 by the time this fight would be makeable again in 2015. This pairing, between top-five pound-for-pound fighters, still means something. Not only would the victor have a legitimate claim to having won this generation’s greatest rivalry, but all four fights have been dramatic, action classics. In fact, their most recent bout -- Marquez’s vicious one-punch knockout of Pacquiao in December 2012 -- was the best fight the sport has produced since Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo I in 2005. This fight doesn’t just make sense because, thanks to boxing politics, both fighters are without a better or more lucrative opponent in waiting. It’s the best fight you could currently make in the division because it involves two all-time great fighters who bring out the best in each other like no one else can.

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