Dan Rafael: Austin Trout

Alvarez takes hard road with Lara

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15

Former junior middleweight titleholder Canelo Alvarez could have picked just about any opponent he wanted and still made a big payday in his July 12 fight.

But Alvarez, motivated by naysayers who believe he would duck certain opponents, is not that kind of guy. He doesn't take the easy way out.

This is the man who demanded a tough fight with Austin Trout when many on his own team were against it. Alvarez wound up winning a close (but deserved) decision to unify belts last April.

Then Alvarez took on pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., the best in the business, and lost a lopsided decision and his undefeated record. But Alvarez dared to be great by taking the fight. Of course, the massive payday didn’t hurt either.

After rebounding to knock out Alfredo Angulo, a dangerous puncher, in a one-sided fight last month, Alvarez once again set his mind to facing the toughest opponent he could.

He asked Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer get him titleholder Erislandy Lara, who had been calling Alvarez out.

Their Showtime PPV headliner, agreed to Monday, will be a nontitle bout at 155 pounds (one over the division limit) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Alvarez apparently didn’t care about the title and didn’t want to pay a sanctioning fee, but the lack of a belt on the line in the fight and a one-pound difference from the championship weight is irrelevant. It will prove a lot if Alvarez can beat Lara, a technically savvy former Cuban amateur star and one of the more avoided fighters in boxing. The 30-year-old Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) also owns a knockout win against Angulo and a decision win against Trout.

"This fight against Erislandy Lara is very important in my career because it is an opponent with vast experience in both the amateur and professional field, and I am sure the styles will match to provide an explosive battle and great atmosphere that night," Alvarez said in comments translated by Golden Boy publicist Ramiro Gonzalez.

Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs), the 23-year-old Mexican star, said his desire is to fight the opponents the public and media want him to fight, which is why he insisted that Schaefer get him Lara, who pulled out of a previously scheduled defense against Ishe Smith to make it happen.

"Lara, the media and fans around the world wanted this match to take place, and here I am -- amply fulfilling them since I have no doubt that everyone will be completely satisfied.”

Win or lose, Alvarez's decision to face the best opponents available should earn him massive respect and serve as a lesson for others who look for the easy way out.

A lot to be thankful for

November, 26, 2013
Paulie MalignaggiNick Laham/Getty ImagesPaul Malignaggi could get another title opportunity ... if he defeat Zab Judah on Dec. 7.

Several fighters are training over Thanksgiving for their Showtime fights on Dec. 7 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Dec. 14 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

But while they won’t get stuff themselves with turkey on Thursday, they’re still thankful for what they have. Golden Boy’s media relations team asked the featured fighters on the two shows what they are thankful for year.

Dec. 7 fighters

Paulie Malignaggi (training in Brooklyn): "[I am thankful for] My family and my true friends, especially those that have stuck with me from the start."

Zab Judah (training in Las Vegas): "I am thankful for this time and that I get to be together with my family."

Devon Alexander (training in St. Louis): "I am very thankful just to be living and in the position I'm in to help a lot of kids and inspire them too. I'm really thankful for so many things in my life, but I can't mention them all because then the list would go on and on.”

Shawn Porter (training in Las Vegas): "I am most thankful for family because they are the most important thing to me.”

Erislandy Lara (training in Houston): "I am most thankful for being in the United State of America and for the freedom I have been given."

Austin Trout (training in Houston): "First and foremost I am most thankful for God, the Son of Jesus. Also, I am thankful for the love from my family, friends and fans. I have so much that I am grateful for including my health and career that allows me to provide for family."

Sakio Bika (training in St. Louis): "I am most grateful to have my family. Also, I am thankful that I have my health and a roof over my head because in this world there are a lot of disabled and homeless people."

Anthony Dirrell (training in Del Rey, Fla.): "I am most thankful for my family and getting this (super middleweight) world championship title opportunity. What I have been through has been amazing with the cancer (Non-Hodgkin lymphoma) and the motorcycle accident. Having the opportunity to recover and fight for the title means a lot to me."

Dec. 14 fighters

Adrien Broner (training in Colorado Springs, Colo.): "I am thankful to God for giving me the ability to take care of family, friends and children."

Marcos Maidana (training in Oxnard, Calif.): "I'm thankful for this opportunity that Golden Boy Promotions is giving me. I'm really excited about this fight because of the many more opportunities that will come my way if I win. I'm also grateful to the fans, all the Mexican fans that are showing me their support."

Keith Thurman (training in Clearwater, Fla.): "I am most thankful for my career in boxing. Boxing is the only job that I have ever had and the only job I have ever wanted and I am truly grateful for that."

Jesus Soto Karass (training in Los Angeles): "I am most thankful for my life and my family. I am grateful to have the love of my wife, kids, parents and siblings. I have the best in life with them. I am also grateful for my health."

Leo Santa Cruz (training in Los Angeles): "I am most thankful for my family, especially my brother. He still suffers from his illness [lupus], but he is doing much better.”

Cesar Seda (training in Salinas, Puerto Rico): "I am thankful to God for my health and all of the good things in life that have happened to me and my beautiful family. I know that this Thanksgiving I won't be able to be with my wife, kids, mother or my grandparents and the rest of my family, but they understand the sacrifice that I am making for their good. This Thanksgiving I pray that God blesses the whole world and that he brings a lot of peace. I am so grateful for the new opportunity he gave me to fight for a world title again."

Beibut Shumenov (training in Las Vegas): "As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I am most thankful for my family. My father and mother raised me to be the person I am today and the continuous love and support from my brother, Chingis.”

Tamas Kovacs (training in Budapest, Hungary): "I am very thankful for my family and feel very grateful every day to see my kids and my wife. When I am preparing for a fight my family is always on my mind and in my heart. In my career I am very grateful for the opportunity that I can fight for the WBA title.”

Rodriguez: Cotto 'a huge fight'

October, 4, 2013

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Delvin Rodriguez has had his big opportunities, but has been unable to cash in on either of his two world title shots.

In 2009, Rodriguez, a fan favorite for his numerous action-packed fights, lost a heartbreaking split decision on his home turf in Connecticut to South Africa’s Isaac Hlatshwayo for a vacant welterweight belt. In 2012, Austin Trout shut him down in a dominant decision win in a junior middleweight title bout.

But although those were world title fights, the biggest opportunity of Rodriguez’s up-and-down 14-year career comes Saturday night (HBO, 9:45 ET/PT) against Puerto Rican superstar and former three-division champion Miguel Cotto at the Amway Center in Orlando.

After the loss to Trout, Rodriguez, 33, a native of the Dominican Republic, rebounded with a pair of impressive knockout victories, taking out "Comanche Boy" George Tahdooahnippah in six rounds and former world title challenger Freddy Hernandez in eight.

That set him up for the shot at Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs), 32, who is looking to rebound from back-to-back losses to Trout and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

"The two wins Delvin had earlier this year along with the wealth of world-class experience he's fought over his outstanding career has truly prepared him for this opportunity to fight Miguel Cotto," Star Boxing promoter Joe DeGuardia said. "This will be his sixth fight in the junior middleweight division and he's very comfortable at 154. He's prepared very well for Miguel Cotto and I'm confident he will put on a terrific performance."

Because of Cotto's stature, Rodriguez (28-6-3, 16 KOs) considers this the biggest fight of his career, even though there will be no belt to wrap around his waist if he wins.

"I fought for the title twice but it's nothing compared to this," Rodriguez said. "I'm motivated for this fight, very, very motivated. It's a huge fight, the biggest fight of my career, even though it's not a title fight. I'm facing a guy whose only defeats are against the best. I've been wanting this fight for a while.

"I will bring everything I have into the ring. I am going to surprise people with my ability and people will finally see the best of me. It's a dream for me to get to this level, to be on HBO, after so many years of hard work. I've had downfalls, gotten bad decisions, had management and promotional problems, but I finally have this opportunity and I am enjoying everything about this. For me, the fight is going to be like going to the party on Saturday. It'll be like going to perform, going to the big dance."

Rodriguez is getting a chance to fight a guy whose undercard he was once on, for his 2011 rematch victory against Pawel Wolak.

"I've got nothing but respect for Miguel," he said. "Our paths have crossed a number of times over the years and he's always been a gentleman. He's a certain Hall of Famer, who earned everything he's gotten. Nothing was handed to him. It's the perfect test for me."

Rodriguez, whose four-inch height advantage over Cotto is very noticeable, has paid attention to Cotto's fights and believes he has the right plan to send him to a third consecutive loss.

"I got to box him," Rodriguez said. “The main thing is I got to beat him to the punch. I'm faster than him, I have a longer reach, I'm taller than him. As soon as he tries to develop his combinations, I just need to beat him to the punch and stop him in the tracks. I got to use my height and reach and boxing ability.

"Against Trout, I made a big mistake. I was waiting too much. But Trout never hurt me and I was in great shape. This fight, Cotto will put pressure on me and it will make it easier to get inside, keep a jab in his face. I think with Cotto I will use basic stuff, straight punches, jabs. You will see a lot of surprised faces in the stands when he gets hit with my jab and combinations and right hands."

Fighters pick Mayweather-Guerrero

April, 30, 2013

How about some fighter picks for the two main bouts on Saturday’s big Showtime PPV card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Robert Guerrero and Daniel Ponce De Leon versus Abner Mares?

Here are some predictions on Mayweather-Guerrero, thanks to Showtime:

Canelo Alvarez: "Robert Guerrero has a great opportunity to win. He's hungry for glory and will try everything to get the victory. I am picking Guerrero.”

Danny Garcia: “Floyd Mayweather all the way. Robert Guerrero is a good fighter. He earned his shot, but Mayweather is the star.”

Mares: "Floyd Mayweather is such a talented fighter and he backs it up. He talks a lot, but he backs it up. I know Robert Guerrero is hungry and determined, but wanting to win doesn't get you a win. It's about what you can do inside the ring, and that's why Mayweather will win.”

Ponce De Leon: “I think Robert Guerrero can win if he fights the same way he fought Andre Berto, pressing the action like Jose Luis Castillo did against Floyd Mayweather. However, Mayweather is a great fighter and so difficult because his style, but I think Guerrero will win.”

Peter Quillin: “I never count Floyd Mayweather out. He's the best pound-for-pound fighter. He's who every fighter looks up to. I call it the Floyd Mayweather era of boxing. Robert Guerrero wanted this for a long time. He's a multi-division champion and he deserves it. They both have something to prove. I don't know who to pick here."

Fernando Guerrero: "You can never bet against Floyd Mayweather. He's just overall one of the best fighters ever. Gotta go with Mayweather.”

J’Leon Love: "Floyd Mayweather is too intelligent of a fighter.”

Leo Santa Cruz: “That is going to be another hard fight. I think Floyd Mayweather has more experience and he's smarter. He knows what he has to do to win. Guerrero is a good, smart fighter, but I think Mayweather is going to take it by decision.”

Austin Trout: “I'm picking Floyd Mayweather, but this fight is not as easy as everyone thinks it'll be. Robert Guerrero is hungry and has the ability to make it a tough fight.”

And here are some predictions on Ponce De Leon-Mares:

Robert Guerrero: "Both Daniel Ponce De Leon and Abner Mares are great Mexican warriors. Mares is going to come forward with pressure and Ponce De Leon will counter. I'm picking Ponce De Leon to win by a close split decision.”

Garcia: "I'm taking Daniel Ponce De Leon. I don't really see Abner Mares pulling it off at 126 pounds. That's a tough fight.”

Quillin: “A lot of people don't give Abner Mares the credit he deserves. Daniel Ponce De Leon has a rough, rugged style. I see Mares putting on a great performance against a guy like Ponce De Leon who gives people trouble, and coming out with the win."

Santa Cruz: "That is going to be another hard fight. They are both Mexican warriors. It can go either way, but if it goes to decision, Abner Mares will win. However, if Daniel Ponce De Leon catches him with a good punch, he will win by knockout.”

Trout: “Abner Mares takes this one. His youth and toughness can outdo the super tough Daniel Ponce De Leon.”

Fernando Guerrero: “Abner Mares just has the youth and the will. When guys are winning, they want to keep at it.”

Love: “Abner Mares has much better skills.”

Deja vu at the Alamodome?

April, 17, 2013
Pernell Whitaker, Julio Cesar ChavezThe Ring Magazine/Getty ImagesPernell Whitaker fought to a draw with Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. in 1993 at the Alamodome.

Pernell Whitaker versus Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.

Canelo Alvarez versus Austin Trout.

The comparisons are so obvious between the two fights that are separated by nearly 20 years. What was once old is new again.

Both fights pitted champion against champion. Both were among the biggest that could be made in boxing at the time. Both were held in the same stadium. Both featured a popular, brawling Mexican hero against a more refined African-American southpaw.

Let’s just hope the one thing they ultimately won’t share is an extraordinarily controversial outcome.

On Sept. 10, 1993, welterweight champion Whitaker -- the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world at the time -- defended his title against junior welterweight champion Chavez, who many had No. 2 on the P4P list, in front of a crowd of nearly 60,000 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

In the end, the fight was ruled a draw, one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history. To most, Whitaker schooled Chavez and was simply robbed of the decision deep in the heart of Texas, where Chavez was the massive crowd favorite and the guy who generated big money.

Now here we are again getting ready for Alvarez-Trout. They will meet to unify their junior middleweight world titles Saturday night (Showtime, 10 ET/7 PT) in front of a what is expected to be a crowd of about 38,000 at the Alamodome in a fight so hotly anticipated that promoter Golden Boy, which had set the arena up for 35,000, added an extra 3,000 seats last week.

Alvarez and Trout know all about the comparisons being made between the fights and have embraced it. And why not? Being compared to those great fighters has to be nice.

“It is a very similar fight,” the 22-year-old Alvarez said through a translator. “I watched it on video several times, and Austin Trout, like Pernell Whitaker, is a southpaw, slick, difficult fighter. He's very difficult, but that's what we're training hard for. We're training hard for that and come [Saturday], the night of the fight, we're going to make it where it's not so difficult for us.”

Trout is coming off his huge win against Miguel Cotto in December and is aiming for another big-time win against Alvarez in a bout he also believes has a lot of similarities to Whitaker-Chavez.

“First of all, let's just say ‘Sweet Pea’ is one of my favorite fighters,” Trout said. “But the thing of it between me and ‘Sweet Pea’ is that I could punch a bit. There are things I saw that he did in the fight that he could've done to make it a lot less close that he could've done to pull away from Chavez.

“The best way to not let history repeat itself is knowing your history. So yes, I've definitely watched the fight. We'll make our adjustments because Chavez Sr. is not Canelo and I'm not Sweet Pea. But there are very similar comparisons.”

Trout (26-0, 14 KOs), 27, of Las Cruces, N.M., is, of course, referring to the decision. He hopes his fight with Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs) goes the same way as Whitaker-Chavez, minus the horrible scorecards. Trout knows nobody is going to do him any favors in Canelo country, and he admitted that he is a little concerned about getting a fair shake -- but at ease.

“We know Texas is WBC country,” Trout said, referring to the Mexico-based alphabet organization that has Alvarez as its titleholder. “But I can't focus, I can't use any energy to dwell on things I can't control. All I can do is just focus on what I can control, and that's what I have to do in the ring.

“We don't want to go out of the game plan. We don't want to break character to force something that's not there. So we're going to just stick to our guns and make sure that we do our absolute best, and if it goes to the judges, then it's really in God's hands. If the judges want to jerk me, that's between them and God.”

Carlos Molina to face Ishe Smith

April, 9, 2013
Carlos Molina, James KirklandBob Levey/Getty ImagesCarlos Molina, right, will have his first world title opportunity against Ishe Smith.

Junior middleweight contender Carlos Molina, a guy nobody really wants to fight, is the reason why mandatory challengers exist. If a sanctioning organization did not make him a mandatory challenger, it is very likely he would never get a title shot because he’s too much risk for too little reward.

But Chicago’s Molina (21-5-2, 6 KOs) now has a deal in place for his first world title opportunity. He won a lopsided decision against former titleholder Cory Spinks on Feb. 1 in a title eliminator to become the IBF’s mandatory challenger and, according to Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules, Molina’s promoter, a deal has been reached for Molina to get his shot against titleholder Ishe Smith.

Smith (25-5, 11 KOs), the first native of Las Vegas to win a world title, claimed a 154-pound belt via decision against Cornelius “K9” Bundrage on Feb. 23 and is obligated to make his first defense against Molina.

Margules said he worked out a deal with Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe for the fight, so a scheduled April 16 purse bid was called off. Margules said the terms of their agreement call for the bout to take place on or before July 27 at a site to be determined.

“We made an agreement to let [Mayweather Promotions] promote the fight,” Margules said. “We made a deal on the money, on the airline tickets, on the parameters of the fight. I went back and forth with Leonard and we worked it out.”

Now the sides have two weeks to send signed contracts to the IBF.

Nobody handed Molina the shot. He actually earned it following a return to the ring in 2011 after a nearly two-year layoff caused by a promotional battle with Don King.

Upon his return, Molina got a draw in a fight he deserved to win against top contender Erislandy Lara, knocked out Allen Conyers, rolled past former welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron and then dominated James Kirkland before being wrongly disqualified in the 10th round. Two more wins followed, a shutout of Damian Frias and then the easy win over Spinks.

“I think Molina can beat anybody in the division, whether it’s Ishe Smith, Canelo Alvarez, Austin Trout, anybody,” Margules said. “He’s hell for anybody, so we’re excited to get a shot at the title.”
Some have compared the junior middleweight title unification fight between Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Austin "No Doubt" Trout to the 1999 battle between then-titlist Fernando Vargas and Winky Wright, who would later become the undisputed 154-pound champion.

But as Alvarez and Trout fine tune themselves for their showdown on April 20 (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya compared it to one of his fights during Alvarez's media day on Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif.

"This reminds me of when I beat Ike Quartey," De La Hoya said of his memorable 1999 welterweight title defense. "Although I did have all the admirers and the fans, I needed that one win to solidify me as a great champion. This is [Alvarez's] one moment, but he has his work cut out for him. Austin Trout is the real deal. He's no joke, but if you want to beat the best you have to fight the best. I've said that throughout my whole career."

Indeed, De La Hoya fought the best opponents fight in and fight out and never ducked anyone before announcing his retirement in 2009 after winning 10 world titles in a then-record six weight classes.

"This is going to be a very physical fight," De La Hoya said. "Austin Trout is legitimate. He is undefeated. He is strong. I think that whoever wins this fight is going to shoot up like a star and go to the next level. It's a tough fight for both. I expect a really, really tough fight.

"What I see is the potential for whoever wins this fight to be a superstar. Not just a star or just a champion, but a superstar. Canelo is on the right path and April 20 is going to show us if he's able to make that jump. Canelo's destiny is in his own hands and it's up to him to win the fight."

The co-feature is a scheduled 10-round lightweight fight between prospects Omar Figueroa Jr. (20-0-1, 16 KOs) of Weslaco, Texas and Puerto Rico's Abner Cotto (16-0, 7 KOs), who is Miguel Cotto's cousin.

[+] EnlargeSaul
Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsJunior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is looking to avenge his older brother Rigoberto's 2011 defeat to Austin Trout.
Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs), the 22-year-old Mexican star, has solid motivation to win -- besides just unifying titles -- and knows that Trout is a tricky customer that he will have to fight smartly.

"The more intelligent fighter is going to win on April 20," Alvarez said. "We've mapped out a game plan and we'll stick to it. I've looked back at some of my past fights and I'm critical of how I've performed. I've taken criticism, but all criticism is constructive and I'm taking it all in."

The additional motivation for Alvarez comes because Trout (26-0, 14 KOs), 27, of Las Cruces, N.M., won a vacant title in Mexico in 2011 by easily outpointing Rigoberto Alvarez, Canelo's older brother.

"Because he beat my brother and took his belt, this fight has more meaning," Alvarez said. "It's personal because he took something from us. After I win this fight, I'm going to get that belt and I'm going to give it to my brother."

Alvarez figures to be the huge crowd favorite in San Antonio, where a heavily Mexican crowd will be on hand. Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer said that as of Tuesday 32,334 tickets had been sold with just 134 scattered tickets remaining.

"I'm really excited for the San Antonio fans, as well as all the Mexican fans who will be there supporting me," Alvarez said. "I'm hoping I can give them a great fight. The key for me is patience. I know he'll be ready for me at all times. It's going to be a complicated fight, but I'm prepared for it."

The fight will be the biggest in San Antonio since the notorious 1993 welterweight championship fight between Pernell Whitaker and Julio Cesar Chavez, which was ruled a draw despite Whitaker's apparent domination. That decision ranks with the most controversial in boxing history.

"I think San Antonio is a great fight town. The fans there have been asking for a great fight," De La Hoya said. "They haven't had a big fight there since Chavez-Whitaker. I fought there, but they haven't had a big, big world championship fight in some time."

Now they have one. Let's just hope if it goes to the judges, they get it right this time.

Canelo-Trout to begin Texas tour

March, 11, 2013
It's tour time for junior middleweight titleholders Canelo Alvarez and Austin Trout. Before they square off to unify their 154-pound world titles on April 20 (Showtime) at the Alamodome in San Antonio in one of the year's most anticipated fights, there's promoting to be done.

So they will set out this week on a two-day, three-city tour to meet with media and fans in Texas. Each stop will be free and open to the public.

Joining the fighters will be Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya and former world champion Jesse James Leija, whose San Antonio-based promotional company Leija & Battah Promotions is co-promoting the fight.

The promotion will begin Wednesday on the floor of the Alamodome at 2 p.m. CT. On Thursday, the fighters will be in Houston at the PlazAmericas Mall (lower level stage area) at 11 a.m. CT, followed by a 3:30 p.m. CT stop in McAllen at the McAllen Convention Center.

Alvarez calls Mayweather's bluff

March, 1, 2013
Canelo Alvarez Josh Hedges/Getty ImagesJunior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez said Floyd Mayweather does not want to fight him.

Junior middleweight titlist Saul “Canelo” Alvarez campaigned hard -- against the wishes of some his handlers -- for a unification fight against Austin “No Doubt” Trout.

All along the hang up in announcing the fight was not Alvarez’s unwillingness to fight Trout. He wanted the fight badly and Trout wanted to fight Alvarez too. The issue was the date.

It finally got made on Wednesday with Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer announcing that it would take place on April 20 at the Alamodome in San Antonio and headline a Showtime-televised card.

Mayweather has no word to support what he says. The contract was already within the terms and just was missing the signature He said yes, but nothing happened at the end. Floyd never signed anything.

-- Saul Alvarez on Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“I am very happy with my fight,” Alvarez told ESPN.com. “Austin Trout is a great fighter and I will give what people want -- a great battle and a great night for all.”

It’s a great fight, one of the most interesting of the year. But it was supposed to be the co-feature on the May 4 Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert Guerrero Showtime PPV card.

That didn’t happen only because, according to Golden Boy, Mayweather refused to sign a contract agreeing to fight Alvarez in his next fight, as long as they both won on May 4.

Mayweather-Alvarez is a mega fight if it happens. Having them both on the same May 4 card against excellent opponents with the specter of a fall showdown would have made the card enormous.

Mayweather-Guerrero will be a big pay-per-view even without Alvarez but you know what? With him on the card, had it been against Trout (26-0, 14 KOs) or somebody else, would have made it gigantic, as in hundreds of thousands of buys over 1 million, in my opinion.

But Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs) wouldn’t agree to fight Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs), at least contractually before May 4. Mayweather supposedly said he would but wouldn’t put his signature to it. Alvarez rightfully felt that without a written guarantee there was no reason for him to lend his name, star power and economic muscle to Mayweather’s pay-per-view. Alvarez-Trout will get its own multi-million dollar license fee from Showtime and do its own seven-figure gate. It is better than an undercard fight.

Don’t get me wrong -- had Alvarez-Trout been on May 4, I’d have been as happy as anyone. It would have been great for boxing fans to get that caliber fight on an undercard of a $70 pay-per-view.

But I never really thought it would happen. Too good to be true because I never thought Mayweather would agree to fight Alvarez at this point.

Maybe Mayweather will beat Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs) and maybe Alvarez will beat Trout (both are legitimately tough fights on paper) and they will still fight in the fall. But without that guarantee, Alvarez basically said to hell with Mayweather and I don’t blame him.

Why should he just take Mayweather’s word that he will fight him next? Why, with all those guaranteed fights on his new six-fight deal with Showtime PPV, would Mayweather fight perhaps the toughest opponent in the second fight of the deal and possibly mess up the rest of those huge money guarantees?

Anyone who knows anything about network multi-fight deals knows that typically the biggest money fight -- when there is usually the most risk involved -– comes at the end of the deal after as much money has been sucked out of the deal as can be sucked.

Besides, we’ve already seen how Mayweather moved the goal posts in his drawn out talks for a Manny Pacquiao fight. First it was drug testing (which he still harps on in interviews even though Pacquiao long agreed to it). When that got solved it was a date or venue that didn’t work for Mayweather. Then he refused a percentage split, only wanting to pay Pacquiao a set fee, which he knew was a non-starter. It was always going to be something and probably will with Alvarez too if he beats Trout.

Alvarez, the 22-year-old Mexican star, always preferred being on his own show anyway but was willing to go on Mayweather’s undercard as long as he knew he had him next. He didn’t get that guarantee and so he will move on with his own card.

“Mayweather has no word to support what he says. The contract was already within the terms and just was missing the signature,” Alvarez said. “He said yes, but nothing happened at the end. Floyd never signed anything. But in spite of all that I am happy with my fight and my own date. This is what I wanted from the beginning.

“I have no need for Mayweather to impose conditions because I can have my own fans, my own event and my own history. I'm tired of being accessible to fight him, since he never was real in what he was talking. The truth is he does not want to fight me. I will continue doing my own history.”

Bundrage-Smith predictions

February, 20, 2013
K9 BundrageTom Casino/ShowtimeCornelius "K9" Bundrage may have the edge if Saturday's fight with Ishe Smith turns into a brawl.

Junior middleweight titlist Cornelius "K9" Bundrage (32-4, 19 KOs) will defend his title in his hometown of Detroit at the Masonic Temple Theatre against Las Vegas' Ishe Smith (24-5, 11 KOs) on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT).

A number of fighters are interested in facing the winner, including titleholder Austin Trout (26-0, 14 KOs), who would like to unify belts with the victor; contender Alfredo Angulo (22-2, 18 KOs); looming mandatory challenger Carlos Molina (21-5-2, 6 KOs); and up-and-comer Jermell Charlo (20-0, 10 KOs).

So how do they see the fight unfolding? Showtime gathered their predictions:

Trout: "I think this is going to be a good old-fashioned brawl. Ishe has more technical skills than 'K9,' but he still likes to bang it out. I really don't know who to pick, but it will be a good fight between two guys who are both kind of inactive, up in age and evenly matched. I'll be tuned in and watching, but I have no personal interest in who wins. I respect both fighters; they are men of God. I'll respect the winner even more if he's willing to unify the belts. If one guy has an edge, I think it's probably Ishe more than 'K9.' But good luck to whoever wins, and let's unify."

Angulo: "I'll be watching because these are two important fighters in my weight class in a world title fight. One of them [Bundrage] holds the IBF title, and the other might be the new titleholder. The outcome could affect my career, so it's important for me to watch this fight. As for picking a winner, I don't have a preference either way. Both are talented, yet have contrasting and distinct styles. One is more of a technical fighter [Smith], the other is a brawler [Bundrage], so it should make for a very interesting fight. I think a lot will depend on Ishe's condition and if he can handle the pressure, because K9 throws punches with a lot of power and a lot of fighters can't handle that."

Molina: "I plan on attending the fight and look forward to watching. I'm the mandatory challenger in the IBF for whoever wins, so I'm hoping to be fighting the winner. Really, I just want my first world title shot. It's what I've worked for my whole career. It doesn't matter to me who wins as long as there's no controversy. I wish them both the best. They're both good people. Ishe said I deserve the title shot and he would fight me next if he wins. 'K9' has not been as committal. Still, this is a tough fight to predict. Smith is a good boxer, and I expect he'll be boxing more and using his defense. 'K9' is a slugger whose style is to be aggressive, go right after Smith and try to land something early. If Ishe is more aggressive, he can win a decision."

Charlo: "There will be a lot of competent fighters in this weight class who'll have their eyes glued to the TV for this one. The main reason I'll be watching is to see who will win. I'm anxious to see if Ishe actually made the changes to his style and, if so, if they made him better. I suppose I'm rooting for Ishe because 'K9' turned me down for a fight before, after I thought it was a 95-percent done deal. If he wins I'm pretty sure he'd turn me down again. Ishe is a guy with a lot of heart who comes to fight. Who knows whether, if he won the title, that he would fight me, but I'd be willing. As for a flat-out prediction, I see it going either way but have a feeling someone's going to get caught with a good shot. At his age and the route he's been going, I can see Bundrage winning if it goes the distance. But I see Ishe, who doesn't get knocked out and is more of a boxer than 'K9,' coming along. It's very possible he can win by KO. My pick is Ishe by KO, but Bundrage if it goes the distance."

More 2012 awards in boxing

January, 2, 2013
Robert Garcia and Kelly PavlikAP Photo/Cal Sport MediaFormer middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik is one of trainer Robert Garcia's latest reclamation projects.

Yes, 2012 is in the books, but beyond last week’s daily annual awards for fighter, knockout, round, prospect and fight of the year, here is part 1 of some additional awards:

Trainer of the year: This was a slam dunk: Robert Garcia had a huge year as head trainer for fighter of the year Nonito Donaire, who moved up in weight, won two junior featherweight belts and went 4-0 against four quality opponents. But Garcia had more going for him than just Donaire. He also trains Brandon Rios, who was in tremendous shape for his ultra-exciting knockout win against Mike Alvarado in the fight of the year runner-up (after being massively weight drained for a gift decision against Richard Abril in April), and younger brother Mikey Garcia, who stayed undefeated and will challenge for a featherweight world title against Orlando Salido on HBO on Jan. 19. Garcia also took over as trainer for former junior welterweight titlist Marcos Maidana, who is 2-0 with Garcia after a switching to him after a loss, and continues to work with former middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik, who won his three 2012 fights, albeit against lesser opposition.

Manager of the year: I’m calling a tie between Cameron Dunkin and Frank Espinoza, who compete for talent and even used to work closely with each other. Both did extremely well in 2012, moving their fighters and generating career paydays for them without the benefits the networks give Al Haymon because of his relationship with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Dunkin is a candidate year in and year out, but had a particularly strong 2012. He was a major factor in getting fighter of the year Donaire on HBO four times for the biggest purses of his career. Although Timothy Bradley Jr. fought only once, Dunkin was a big part of getting him a fight with Manny Pacquiao for a career-high payday of $5 million. Dunkin also guides the careers of Rios, Garcia and Pavlik, among others. One thing about Dunkin: He’ll fight for his clients with the same passion that they do in the ring.

Espinoza guided Abner Mares to a junior featherweight world title (after he moved up from bantamweight) and Daniel Ponce De Leon to a featherweight title. He also got Carlos Molina, a decent lightweight prospect, a career payday against Amir Khan and signed talented two-time Mexican Olympian Oscar Valdez to a stable that also includes other prospects.

Upset of the year: There were several surprising results but I thought Sonny Boy Jaro’s sixth-round destruction of future Hall of Famer Pongsaklek Wonjongkam on the road in Thailand to win a flyweight title was as shocking as any outcome in recent years. Wonjongkam was not what he was at his best during his first reign (2001 to 2007, with a division-record 17 defenses) but he had reclaimed the title and had made four defenses before meeting Jaro, a journeyman from the Philippines. Jaro dropped him in the first and fourth rounds and twice more in the sixth to take the title and hand Wonjongkam only his second loss since 1996.

[+] EnlargeJosesito Lopez and Victor Ortiz
Tom Casino/ShowtimeJosesito Lopez broke Victor Ortiz's jaw in a great and surprising fight this past year.
There were a slew of other upsets too, including: Josesito Lopez, in his “Rocky moment,” breaking Victor Ortiz’s jaw and stopping him after nine rounds; Mario Rodriguez’s knockout of Nkosinathi Joyi in the seventh round to claim a strawweight title; Austin Trout outpointing Miguel Cotto in his house at Madison Square Garden to retain a junior middleweight belt; heavyweight Johnathon Banks drilling Seth Mitchell in the second round; journeyman Gamaliel Diaz outpointing Takahiro Ao in Japan to win a junior lightweight belt; Danny Garcia rallying for a fourth-round knockout of Amir Khan to unify junior welterweight belts; Carl Froch’s fifth-round knockout of then undefeated Lucian Bute to win a super middleweight title; Paulie Malignaggi going to Ukraine and not only handing Vyacheslav Senchenko his first loss, but doing so by TKO to win a welterweight belt; light heavyweight Denis Grachev’s stunning eighth-round rally to knock out heavily touted Ismayl Sillakh.

Worst stoppage of the year: If you follow boxing you know that former cruiserweight titlist Enzo Maccarinelli has a glass chin. But his second-round stoppage loss to Ovill McKenzie in a Commonwealth light heavyweight title bout in November had nothing to do with his chin and everything to do with incompetent referee Ian John-Lewis, who stopped the fight because of, well, absolutely nothing.

Robbery of the year: Hands down, Pacquiao-Bradley. Judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross were on another planet with their scores that gave Bradley a spit decision. Then Ford made himself look even more foolish when he told HBO’s Jim Lampley that Bradley had given Pacquiao a “boxing lesson.” Somebody should give him a judging lesson.

Worst fights of the year: 1. As I fully expected, lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez’s defense against Mercito Gesta was putrid and stunk up the Marquez-Pacquiao undercard. 2. Devon Alexander’s welterweight title win against Randall Bailey also stunk out loud. How bad? CompuBox has tracked punch statistics for 27 years covering thousands of fights. Bailey landed just 45 of 198 punches, the fewest ever landed in a 12-round fight that CompuBox has tracked. 3. The fight between Sergiy Dzinziruk and Jonathan Gonzalez (who showed up nine pounds overweight for what was supposed to be a junior middleweight fight) was agony. It was ruled a draw. Nobody won, not either fighter and certainly not the HBO viewers.

[+] EnlargeDanny Jacobs
Ed Mulholland/US PresswireReturning to boxing after beating cancer was a great accomplishment for middleweight contender Daniel Jacobs.
Comeback of the year I: Middleweight Daniel Jacobs, the 2009 ESPN.com prospect of the year, made a triumphant return in October after being idle for 19 months because of a battle with cancer that nearly killed him. Forget about boxing, Jacobs was lucky to be alive, so when he fought in his hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y., and knocked out Josh Luteran in the first round it was quite emotional.

Comeback of the year II: Yeah, Ricky Hatton got knocked out by Senchenko but how can you not be impressed by what Hatton did? The former junior welterweight champ came back 3 years after being severely knocked out by Pacquiao and a descent into depression, drug and alcohol abuse, significant weight gain and multiple suicide attempts. But he got his life together, got in great shape mentally and physically and was winning before getting caught by a ninth-round body shot. Hatton retired again, but fought well and looked like he could still contend if he wanted to fight on.

BWAA awards ballot set

December, 28, 2012
Brandon Rios and Mike AlvaradoChris Farina/Top RankMike Alvarado and Brandon Rios went toe-to-toe in an all-action fight last October.

Over the course of two meetings, one on Dec. 1 in New York on the day the Austin Trout-Miguel Cotto fight and one on Dec. 8 in Las Vegas on the day of the Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao IV, members of the Boxing Writers Association of America met to finalize the ballot for the organization’s annual awards.

Over the next week or so, members will begin to receive their ballots, which are due back by Jan. 19. The winners will be honored at the annual BWAA awards dinner (public can purchase tickets). The date and location is not set, but it likely will take place around a major fight in the spring.

Here’s a look at who is on the ballot in each category:

• Fighter of the year: Nonito Donaire, Danny Garcia, Robert Guerrero, Juan Manuel Marquez and Brian Viloria.

• Fight of the year: Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado, Roman Gonzalez-Juan Francisco Estrada, Guerrero-Andre Berto, Orlando Salido-Juan Manuel Lopez II, Viloria-Hernan Marquez and Marquez-Manny Pacquiao IV.

• Trainer of the year: Nacho Beristain, Eric Brown, Robert Garcia, Ruben Guerrero, Virgil Hunter.

• Manager of the year: Luis DeCubas Jr., Cameron Dunkin, Frank Espinoza, Gary Gittelsohn, Al Haymon.

• Long and meritorious service to boxing: Bob Canobbio (CompuBox), promoter Lou DiBella, promoter Kathy Duva, referee Steve Smoger, Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler.

• Excellent in broadcast journalism: Bruce Beck (my broadcast partner at Epix), Max Kellerman (HBO), Tony Paige (WFAN radio), Bob Papa (HBO), Travis Pomposello (Epix executive producer), Dan Rafael (ESPN and Epix -- and honored to be nominated). Nominees in this category can only win once and it’s open to broadcasters, TV executives and production people.

• Good guy: Don Chargin (Hall of Fame promoter), Steve Farhood (Showtime), Norm Frauenheim (writer), Scott Ghertner (MGM and Mandalay Bay media relations), Wladimir Klitschko (heavyweight champ).

• Courage in overcoming adversity: Alfredo Angulo, Johnathon Banks, Danny Jacobs, Peter Quillin, Paul Williams.

Cotto proud of Mayweather fight

December, 1, 2012
Yes, Miguel Cotto lost his most recent fight and his junior middleweight title by unanimous decision to pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 5 in the year's biggest fight.

But it didn't hurt Cotto's standing in boxing one iota. If anything, his stock went up because, despite lopsided scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 117-111, it was a competitive, crowd-pleasing fight and showed to all that Cotto still had a lot left in his tank, even after so many tough fights.

Cotto pushed Mayweather as hard as he has been pushed in years and gave him one of the three toughest fights of his career, along with bouts against Jose Luis Castillo (their first) and Emanuel Augustus.

Cotto is returning to action to challenge 154-pound titlist Austin Trout on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT) at Madison Square Garden, but unlike many fighters whose confidence might be shaky after a loss, Cotto's seems greater because he fought so well against the No. 1 fighter in the world.

"Floyd Mayweather was an excellent fight. That was a good fight," Cotto said. "I didn't win, but sometimes when you lose, you win. That was the case for me in this fight."

Cotto couldn't be more right about that.

"I felt rejuvenated after that fight, and everybody wants to see me fight again," he said. "We didn't win the fight against Mayweather. But I won a lot of other things, especially within myself. I felt better with myself no matter that I lost.

"I'm just trying to do what I know to do the best that I can. I watched the Mayweather fight a couple of times since we fought. I thought it was a good fight, a close fight. The judges gave it to him on the scorecards, but after watching it, I feel like I gave him a good fight and I am proud of my performance."

Cotto-Alvarez on deck if Cotto wins

November, 30, 2012
NEW YORK -- Miguel Cotto probably will have his work cut out for him against slick junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT) at Madison Square Garden. But if Cotto wins and claims his fifth world title, as most expect he will, his next fight probably will be against titleholder Canelo Alvarez.

That is as big as it gets in boxing, short of the fight that probably will never happen between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

[+] EnlargeSaul Alvarez
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesCanelo Alvarez, who took care of Jose Miguel Cotto in 2010, likely would face little brother Miguel if the younger Cotto beats Austin Trout on Saturday.
If Puerto Rico's Cotto comes through against Trout, the showdown with Alvarez, Mexico's most popular fighter, would take place May 4 -- Cinco de Mayo weekend -- on Showtime PPV.

Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer and Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza both acknowledge that it's the fight they hope to make, should Cotto win Saturday.

Cotto (37-3, 30 KOs) is respectful to his opponents, so he didn't want to get caught up in looking past Trout (25-0, 14 KOs), but it's clear he has his eye on Alvarez.

"If I were to fight Canelo next, everyone knows that a fight like that would stir up the great rivalry between Puerto Rican and Mexican fans," Cotto said. "It's an all-time rivalry. They also know what a Mexican fighter and a Puerto Rican fighter can do in the ring, too.

"Austin is [my opponent] Saturday night, and once I am done with that fight, I can sit back and look at my options and decide who my next fight will be against."

Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs), who at age 22 is 10 years younger than Cotto, was at Friday's Trout-Cotto weigh-in -- both fighters made weight (Cotto at 153.6 pounds, Trout at 154) -- and will be at Saturday's fight.

He wants Cotto next and will be watching him closely. Golden Boy already has set May 4 as the date for his next fight. Now Alvarez just has to hope Cotto wins.

"I'd love to fight Cotto," a smiling Alvarez said through a translator at the weigh-in. "I am here to see the fight and I have a lot of hope that Cotto will win. I want the honor of fighting him because he is a great fighter. He's a veteran fighter with a lot of experience. So I am looking to see the best of Miguel Cotto on Saturday night and then I want to fight him. I know that is a fight that boxing fans would like to see and it is a fight that I would like to have very much."

Alvarez-Cotto probably would take place in Las Vegas, but Alvarez said he wouldn't be opposed to fighting in New York, where Cotto is a huge draw.

"Anywhere. I will fight him anywhere," Alvarez said. "It's Mexico versus Puerto Rico, champion against champion. I know how big this fight would be."

Trout's style not an issue for Cotto

November, 30, 2012

NEW YORK -- There are some who believe that junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout is going to give former titleholder Miguel Cotto a very tough fight when they meet Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT) at Madison Square Garden. Some even believe he will pull the upset.

There are reasons to like Trout in the fight. He is a very good boxer. He’s younger than Cotto (27-32) and has taken way less punishment than Cotto has. Trout (25-0, 14 KOs) is also quick and has good defense. He has confidence that an undefeated record fosters. And he has fought on enemy turf in Panama and Mexico (twice, in world title fights) and should be under control emotionally fighting in Cotto’s house with his fans going nuts.

Some might also point to his southpaw stance as an advantage. That might be the case against some fighters, but being a lefty is no big deal against Cotto (37-3, 30 KOs), who has done very well against southpaws.

In 2005, Cotto defended his junior welterweight title by knocking out former titleholder DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley in the fifth round.

In 2006, Cotto blitzed Carlos Quintana in a fifth-round knockout to win a vacant welterweight belt.

In 2007, Cotto was in a tough title defense against Zab Judah but eventually drilled him in the 11th round.

"Fighting southpaws is not difficult for me,” Cotto said. “Actually, I'm a converted southpaw. I used to fight southpaw, but converted into an orthodox stance. I have already fought many southpaws and didn't really have any problems with them. I don't expect to have any problems with Austin either.

“We had a great training camp with sparring partners with real skills. I think my sparring partners have more skills than Austin. I think they showed me more skills and gave me more problems.”