Dan Rafael: Dan Rafael

Pacquiao wins, doesn't sell

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
Although Manny Pacquiao scored a resounding decision victory against Timothy Bradley Jr. to reclaim his welterweight belt Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the PacMan wasn’t nearly as resounding in terms of his drawing power.

Pacquiao-Bradley II generated almost $1.1 million less in ticket sales than the first fight and represented Pacquiao’s worst gate performance in the past eight fights he has had in Las Vegas, dating to his star-making knockout victory against Oscar De La Hoya in 2008.

Pacquiao-Bradley II generated a live gate of $7,865,100 from 14,099 sold tickets, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. There were 894 unsold tickets and 926 complimentary tickets from the 15,919 available tickets.

When Bradley was given a hugely controversial split decision win against Pacquiao in their first fight in June 2012, also at the MGM Grand, the bout generated a live gate of $8,963,180 from 13,229 tickets sold, with 2,070 unsold tickets and 925 complimentary tickets.

Pacquiao’s fight with De La Hoya was his best gate performance, generating $14,380,300, fourth-best in Nevada history. But the Bradley rematch didn’t come close to his other Las Vegas fights.

Pacquiao’s third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez generated $11,648,300, Marquez IV was $10,888,900, Shane Mosley $8,882,600, Miguel Cotto $8,847,550 and Ricky Hatton $8,832.950.

The figure for Pacquiao-Bradley II was a bit surprising because many figured there would be pent-up demand to see Pacquiao again; he had not fought in the United States since the fourth fight with Marquez in December 2012. His only fight of 2013, a rout of Brandon Rios, took place in Macau.

The HBO PPV numbers have not been disclosed yet and are not expected until at least next week because Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and president Todd duBoef, Arum’s stepson, left the country on a family vacation the day after Pacquiao-Bradley II, and they have not yet discussed the figures with HBO. Pacquiao-Bradley II will be replayed Saturday on HBO beginning at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

Verdejo back in action in Orlando

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
Felix Verdejo vs.  Petchsamuthr DuanaaymukdahanChris Farina/Top Rank Unbeaten Felix Verdejo returns to Orlando on Saturday's Orlando Cruz-Gamilier Rodriguez undercard.
Lightweight Felix Verdejo, a 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian and one of boxing's most exciting prospects, is back in action on Saturday night.

Verdejo's scheduled six-round fight against Ivan Zavala (6-5-1, 2 KOs) of Mexico at the Bahia Shrine Temple in Orlando, Fla., will open the UniMas-televised card (midnight ET, same-day tape).

The card is headlined by an all-Puerto Rican featherweight fight between Orlando Cruz (20-3-1, 10 KOs), who was stopped in the seventh round challenging Orlando Salido for a vacant world title on the Timothy Bradley Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez undercard in October, and Gamilier Rodriguez (23-2-3, 16 KOs). Cruz, of course, made headlines around the world for coming out as boxing's first-ever openly gay, active fighter.

Top Rank is putting the Puerto Rican-heavy card on in Orlando because of the exceptional response it got there to the Miguel Cotto-Delvin Rodriguez show it promoted there in October. Cotto, Puerto Rico's biggest attraction, drew a raucous crowd to the Amway Center, where the NBA's Orlando Magic play.

Orlando has a significant Puerto Rican community and it turned out strong to support the card, on which the 20-year-old Verdejo (11-0, 8 KOs) also fought and drew huge cheers from the crowd. Besides fighting in places such as Puerto Rico and New York, Orlando could become a significant site for Verdejo fights in the future, especially if he develops into a top-notch fighter like so many expect him to.

"I am looking forward to going back to Orlando because we have a large community of Puerto Rican people there and they come out to support me," Verdejo said. "I also have many friends there who I have known since I was a kid.

"I have trained very hard and want to give the people a great fight. This is another important fight in my development as a fighter."

If all goes well for Verdejo, he is expected to fight June 7 at Madison Square Garden in New York on the undercard of Cotto's challenge of middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.

Expect 'very best' from Quigg

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
Scott Quigg, Yoandris SalinasScott Heavey/Getty ImagesScott Quigg expects to be at his physical and mental peak in Saturday's fight with Tshifhiwa Munyai.
Whether junior featherweight titlist Scott Quigg was going to face interim titlist Nehomar Cermeno or late replacement Tshifhiwa Munyai, he said fight fans will see the very best from him.

"This is the best Scott Quigg there has ever been," Quigg said. "I have improved as a fighter skill-wise, I am physically more mature and mentally I am in a good place. Every box is ticked and this is the best Scott Quigg anybody will have ever seen."

Quigg was due to make his third title defense against Cermeno, but he dropped out last week because of a visa problem, according to promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, and was replaced by South Africa's Munyai, who will challenge Quigg on Saturday (AWE, 3 p.m. ET) at the Phones 4u Arena in Manchester, England.

Quigg (27-0-2, 20 KOs), 25, of England, is coming an impressive second-round knockout of Diego Silva in a November defense, also at the Phones 4u Arena, on the Carl Froch-George Groves undercard.

"Being stood on that ramp before the fight against Silva and making my entrance in front of 20,000 people -- that is something I have always wanted," Quigg said. "When I looked around and the place was packed, there is no better feeling or adrenaline buzz that could ever match that, knowing that I had put in the work and trained so hard. To top it off with a cracking performance with a stoppage in the second round of a world title fight in Manchester was fantastic. That is what I have always worked for. That is why I have and still do sacrifice so much and dedicate myself to the sport."

Munyai (24-2-1, 12 KOs), 28, is 5-1 in England and has faced some of the better British fighters his division had to offer. Quigg, however, said the change of opponents won't be an issue.

"All the preparation was already done when the change of opponent happened," Quigg said. "It isn't ideal but you have to be able to adapt and deal with it. I am in the best place I can be and my best beats anybody else's best on the night. I remember watching Munyai when he came over and beat Martin Power and Lee Haskins in Commonwealth title fights. But I am not Martin Power or Lee Haskins. I am a different level to them ... I am 100 percent confident I will do a job, and do the job in style."

Klitschko defense to air on ESPN

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko’s 16th title defense will be televised in the United States live on ESPN after the network reached a deal on Wednesday with IMG, the company selling the international rights for the bout.

Contracts are not signed yet, but both sides told ESPN.com that they have agreed to the television deal for Klitschko’s mandatory defense, which will come against Alex Leapai on April 26 at the König-Pilsener-Arena in Oberhausen, Germany.

By securing the rights to the fight ESPN will be televising two heavyweight title bouts in two weeks, although Klitschko is the recognized champion and has been for years. A few weeks ago, ESPN made a deal to televise live the May 10 rematch between Bermane Stiverne (23-1-1, 20 KOs) and Chris Arreola (36-3, 31 KOs), who meet at the Galen Center on the campus of USC in Los Angeles for the belt that Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir’s older brother, vacated in December.

“With our coverage of the Stiverne-Arreola heavyweight title match on May 10th, we want to give boxing fans the complete heavyweight picture with a fight that features the other three major belts,” ESPN senior director of programming and acquisitions Brian Kweder said of Klitschko-Leapai. “Two heavyweight championship fights in two weeks is just too good to pass up. We are working on finalizing the deal.”

In addition to airing on the main ESPN channel (5 p.m. ET), the fight will also air on ESPN Deportes in Spanish and be available on WatchESPN. ESPN will have its own announcers call the bout rather than rely on K2 Promotions’ English-language international feed.

“I think it’s perfect, the best I could imagine,” Klitschko manager Bernd Boente said of the deal with ESPN. “Wladimir is very happy. ESPN is the No. 1 sports station worldwide and to cover two heavyweight title bouts in two weeks, I think that’s a dream come true. As always, we wait until the fight is over and, knock on wood, Wladimir will win the fight, but after that it’s not a secret that he would like to fight the [Stiverne-Arreola II] winner.”

Leapai (30-4-3, 24 KOs), 34, a native of Samoa living in Australia, came out of nowhere to be appointed as the mandatory challenger by the WBO after scoring a major upset of Russian Denis Boytsov on Nov. 23 in Bamberg, Germany.

Klitschko (61-3, 52 KOs), 38, who is in his second title reign, will be fighting in his 25th heavyweight championship bout. The 1996 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist is 22-2 with 17 knockouts in world title bouts and coming off a shutout decision victory against Alexander Povetkin, whom he knocked down four times, on Oct. 5 in Moscow.

Klitschko, whose current reign began with a seventh-round knockout of Chris Byrd in April 2006, has held a heavyweight title longer than anyone in boxing history other than Joe Louis (nearly 12 years) and has made the third most title defenses in heavyweight history, trailing only Louis (25, a record in any division) and Larry Holmes (20).

Purse bid for Lomachenko-Russell

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
Given that featherweight Vasyl Lomachenko is promoted by Top Rank and Gary Russell Jr. works with Golden Boy (although he is not under contract), it is no surprise that the sides have not engaged in a negotiation for the vacant title bout they have been ordered to meet in.

With no deal in the works, the WBO has ordered a purse bid, which is scheduled to take place Friday at noon ET in Orlando, Fla., according to Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti. Orlando is the site of Top Rank’s UniMas-televised fight card Saturday night, and since the card includes a WBO regional title bout, organization officials as well as Top Rank personnel will be on hand.

Lomachenko (1-1, 1 KO), the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, and manager Egis Klimas both say they are eager for the fight with Russell. Whether Russell (24-0, 14 KOs), a 2008 U.S. Olympian, and adviser Al Haymon are interested in the bout remains to be seen.

The title became vacant when Orlando Salido was stripped for not making weight for a March 1 defense against Lomachenko, who then lost a split decision to Salido, leaving the belt vacant.

“There are not a lot of expectations from either side [on making a deal], so the purse bid was called and we’ll see how it will unfold there,” Moretti said.

Khan joins Haymon's stable

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
The stable of powerful adviser Al Haymon continued to grow Wednesday as he added yet another prominent fighter -- former unified junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan of England.

The signing comes as little surprise, as Khan has talked about signing with Haymon in recent weeks.

“I am very happy to have signed with Al Haymon, who has not only shown that he is a very astute businessman, but is extremely knowledgeable of the fight game and always has his fighters’ best interests at heart,” Khan said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to building a long and successful relationship during this exciting stage of my career.”

Khan’s next fight is already set. He will face former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo -- another Haymon client -- in a welterweight bout on May 3 in the co-feature of the Showtime PPV card headlined by the welterweight unification fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Marcos Maidana, both of whom also are Haymon clients.

The Khan-Collazo winner figures to be in great position to land a shot at Mayweather in the fall, assuming he defeats Maidana.

Haymon also recently signed light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, welterweight contender Robert Guerrero, junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson and his brother, lightweight Anthony Peterson.

Haymon also handles, among others, top fighters Adrien Broner, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Deontay Wilder, Chris Arreola, Peter Quillin, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Paulie Malignaggi, Sakio Bika, Chad Dawson and Rances Barthelemy.

Smith eager to get back in the ring

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
Super middleweight Callum Smith is one of England’s top prospects, but hand surgery has kept him sidelined since an impressive sixth-round knockout performance against former world title challenger Ruben Acosta in October.

He injured his left hand in the win against Acosta.

So Smith (9-0, 7 KOs), 23, is eager to get back to work and is slated to face France’s Francois Bastient (43-10-1, 18 KOs) on Saturday at the Phones 4u Arena in Manchester, England, on the undercard of junior featherweight titlist Scott Quigg’s defense against Tshifhiwa Munyai.

If Smith wins Saturday’s scheduled six-round bout and is uninjured, he is due back May 17 in Cardiff, Wales, on the undercard of the Lee Selby-Romulo Koasicha featherweight title eliminator.

“I am really eager to get back in the ring,” Smith said. “I was very active in my first year as a pro so that made the six months I have been out feel a lot longer. It has been frustrating, but I think the first few months did me good to have a bit of a rest. But I didn’t want to have six months out. I wasn’t able to train as much as I wanted to during those six months. The first few months I could only do running and swimming, but I do feel that I benefited from doing quite a bit of that, and some circuit stuff.

“I started do some light punching and it has only been the last few weeks that I started to punch properly. It has been frustrating because the main thing you want to do is punch, but I worked hard on other things and I feel the benefits from those now.”

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.

Beltran has eyes on title shot

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
Ray Beltran, Arash UsmaneeChris Farina/Top RankRay Beltran is hoping a victory over Arash Usmanee on Saturday can lift him to another title shot.
LAS VEGAS -- On Thursday afternoon inside the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley II media center at the MGM Grand, there was a ceremony for newly crowned lightweight titlist Terence Crawford, who received the world title belt he won March 1 against Ricky Burns by unanimous decision on Burns' home turf in Scotland.

Lightweight contender Raymundo Beltran was in the building but not in the media center and was happy he missed the ceremony. It's not that Beltran has anything against Crawford; it's just that Beltran, along with many others, believes that Crawford's belt should be his.

In the fight before Burns lost to Crawford, Burns defended the title against Beltran in Scotland in September. Beltran broke Burns' jaw in the second round, dropped him in the eighth round and basically ran over him for most of the fight. But when the scores were announced, Burns retained the title on a hometown draw.

Beltran was crushed, and rightfully so. He hoped for an immediate rematch, but Crawford was waiting as the mandatory challenger, got the next shot and dethroned Burns.

Beltran (28-6-1, 17 KOs), known to many for his work as one of Pacquiao's top sparring partners in recent years, will fight for the first time since the draw when he faces late substitute Arash Usmanee (20-1-1, 10 KOs) in the co-feature on the Pacquiao-Bradley II card Saturday night. Usmanee accepted the fight last weekend when former junior lightweight titlist Rocky Martinez dropped out due to illness.

"I should be defending my title," Beltran said of Saturday’s fight. "But only God knows why it happened. I just focus and try to stay positive. I've been through a lot in boxing. I think me and my team got here from our hard work. Nobody put us here."

Beltran said he heard from many fight fans after the robbery against Burns and it made him feel good, even if it didn't make up for not having the title.

"I focus on the positive, and it made me feel good because if the fans know who you are that really gives you the strength," said Beltran, who is from Mexico and lives in Los Angeles. "Without the fans you are nothing. The fans saw what happened and they want to see me victorious."

Beltran has not even been able to watch a video of the entire fight with Burns.

"It still hurts. It pisses me off," he said. "It puts me in a bad mood, so I just leave it alone."

With a victory against Usmanee, Beltran likely will get another shot at the title in Crawford's first defense.

"I think Beltran got screwed when he fought Burns in Scotland and easily won that fight and came away with a draw, and I feel really bad on that," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said. "He wanted to get an immediate rematch with Burns but Crawford was waiting as the mandatory, so I see no reason why that wouldn't be a terrific fight with Crawford and Beltran."

Arum's plan is to put the fight on HBO June 28 or July 12 and do it in Council Bluffs, Iowa, right over the border from Omaha, Neb., which is Crawford's hometown.

"Three minutes from Omaha over the bridge is Council Bluffs, where they have all the casinos and more hotels, and we'd do it," Arum said. "I'd insist on a judging panel that has to be approved by both fighters."

It sounds like a good plan to Beltran.

"Once I beat Usmanee, I should be fighting for a title [against] Crawford or anybody," he said. "Even without Usmanee, I should be fighting for a title. But hopefully we beat Usmanee and then, no question, I should fight for a title. I'll fight Crawford. I would like to fight Crawford. He's a champion. I just want to fight the best."

Vazquez-Sonsona II on June 7

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
LAS VEGAS -- In 2010, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. of Puerto Rico knocked out Marvin Sonsona of the Philippines in the fourth round to win a vacant junior featherweight world title. Four years later, they will meet again.

Before the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley II final news conference at the MGM Grand on Wednesday, promoter Sampson Lewkowicz, who promotes Sonsona, told ESPN.com that the rematch was made and would be one of HBO PPV-televised bouts on the undercard of middleweight champion Sergio Martinez’s defense against Miguel Cotto on June 7 at the Madison Square Garden in New York.

Lewkowicz, Martinez’s longtime adviser, Martinez promoter Lou DiBella, Top Rank and Cotto Promotions are trying to put together the rest of the undercard, which has been difficult given all of the parties that need to be satisfied.

Sonsona (18-1-1, 15 KOs), a former junior bantamweight titleholder, has not lost since the Vazquez fight, although he has only fought four times, most recently a very impressive third-round destruction of former junior featherweight titlist Akifumi Shimoda in February in Macau.

Vazquez (23-3-1, 19 KOs), who recently signed with Cotto Promotions, is just 3-3 in his last six fights, losing his title by 12th-round knockout in an upset to Jorge Arce in 2011 to begin the slide. But he is coming off a 12-round decision win against previously unbeaten Guillermo Avila in September.

Clottey dominates Mundine

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
For the past few years, Australia’s Anthony Mundine, a former super middleweight titlist, has talked about coming to America and getting a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Nobody ever took him seriously because he never had a chance to get a fight with Mayweather. But now he definitely won’t get that fight, and even he must realize that by now -- not after former welterweight titleholder Joshua Clottey, who was fighting for only the third time since his 2010 virtual shutout loss to Manny Pacquiao, traveled to Newcastle, Australia, and beat him up on Wednesday.

Clottey (38-4, 22 KOs) dropped Mundine (46-6, 27 KOs) five times -- count ‘em, five times -- in their junior middleweight fight en route to a unanimous decision.

Clottey scored knockdowns in the third, two in the sixth and one each in the eighth and 10 rounds to win on scores of 117-108, 116-108 and 115-109.

It was the most notable victory Clottey has had since he won a vacant welterweight belt by ninth-round technical decision against Zab Judah in 2008.

“I am thrilled that Joshua was victorious,” Star Boxing promoter Joe DeGuardia said. “I knew when I signed Joshua to a promotional agreement he would still be a major force in the junior middleweight division. Joshua has the ability to defeat any junior middleweight in the world, and this win sets up potentially major fights for Joshua with the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Erislandy Lara and my junior middleweight champion, Demetrius Andrade. I am looking forward to Joshua's journey back to the world championship.”

Ogogo added to May 3 undercard

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
British middleweight prospect Anthony Ogogo, who claimed Olympic bronze in front of the hometown crowd at the 2012 London Games, will make his Las Vegas debut on May 3 on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana undercard at the MGM Grand, Golden Boy Promotions announced on Tuesday.

Ogogo (5-0, 2 KOs), 25, who turned pro in April 2013, fought his second pro bout in Atlantic City, N.J., and is returning to the United States for a coveted spot on one of the year’s biggest cards.

"It's an honor for me to be on the show, and I can't wait for May 3," said Ogogo, who does not yet have an opponent. “I've had a great training camp and hope to be in the best shape of my career for this fight. Some British fighters never get the chance to fight in Las Vegas, and to do so in my sixth fight is a real achievement and will be a fantastic moment for me."

The fight will be Ogogo’s second of the year. He won a six-round decision against Greg O’Neill on March 21 in Glasgow, Scotland, on the Terence Crawford-Ricky Burns undercard.

"British fans already know the great potential Anthony has and the charisma he possesses in and out of the ring," Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer said. “Now on one of the biggest nights of the year in boxing, fans and media in Las Vegas will get to see what all of the excitement is about.”

Pacquiao talks Bradley-Marquez

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8

Manny Pacquiao has faced Juan Manuel Marquez in four memorable battles, going 2-1-1, including a shocking one-punch knockout loss in fight No. 4 in December 2012.

Pacquiao has also faced Timothy Bradley once, losing a massively controversial split decision in June 2012.

After facing Pacquiao, Bradley outboxed Marquez two fights later, in October, to defend the title he claimed against Pacquiao.

Now Pacquiao is set to go back into the ring to face Bradley in a rematch on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. So is there anything Pacquiao might have picked up about Bradley watching him face Marquez, his greatest rival?

Not exactly.

That’s because Pacquiao said he did not watch the fight (if you believe him). Pacquiao did, however, say that Bradley’s decision win did not surprise him.

“That is what I had predicted,” Pacquiao said. “Bradley obviously fought the better fight and boxed Marquez. I assume Marquez just could not overcome Bradley's skills and youth and there was no way Bradley was going to go toe-to-toe after his battle with Ruslan Provodnikov.”

In the fight after facing Pacquiao, Bradley slugged it out with Provodnikov in the 2013 fight of the year, a battle in which Bradley was knocked down, badly hurt multiple times and concussed. He said he fought Provodnikov toe to toe by design. Then he returned to a boxing style against Marquez.

So which Bradley will show up against Pacquiao? Pacquiao said he expects Bradley fight him the way he did Marquez, rather than try to slug with him like he did against Provodnikov. Pacquiao has far better power than Bradley.

"I do not think Bradley will fight toe-to-toe with me, either, so I will have to hunt him down,” Pacquiao said. “I am prepared for that. I am not going for a knockout but if the opportunity presents itself, I am going to go for it this time. Bradley's talk that I am no longer hungry has inspired me throughout this training camp. As [trainer] Freddie Roach keeps saying every day in training, ‘No mercy.’”

Roach has watched Bradley’s performance against Marquez and perhaps gleaned something from it, especially since he is also so familiar with Marquez’s style.

“For his fights he does what he is supposed to do,” Roach said of Bradley. “He boxed well against Marquez and he beat a good fighter. What he will bring to the table against Manny is what he brought against Marquez. He likes to exchange a little bit also, so when we get into an exchange we will have to take advantage of that moment.”
If you follow boxing in Texas, you probably know the name Dickie Cole, the quintessential Texas good old boy.

For 21 years, Cole oversaw the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation’s Combative Sports division. That’s the fancy way of saying that he was chief regulator for boxing in Texas.

Under his watch, the state hosted numerous big-time fights, including Manny Pacquiao’s two world title bouts at Cowboys Stadium. But under Cole’s watch there were also too many judging controversies to count, not to mention a lackadaisical approach to drug testing.

On Tuesday, the TDLR announced that Cole is retiring on April 30.

“Over the years, Dickie has been recognized for his dedication to combative sports and has provided opportunities and mentoring for many young men and women to become referees, judges, promoters and seconds,” the department said in a statement. “His care and concern for the sport of boxing has been a lifelong passion that will continue to influence the industry for years to come. We are proud to have worked with Dickie, and to have been recipients of his wisdom and knowledge. He will be missed but not forgotten. We wish him well and thank him for his decades of service to the state of Texas.”

Greg Alvarez, who has worked for the TDLR for 13 years, was named to succeed Cole, who is also the father of Texas referee Laurence Cole.

Abraham, Sjekloca speak out

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
Arthur Abraham and Nikola Sjekloca Matthias Kern/Bongarts/Getty ImagesArthur Abraham will defend his super middleweight title against Nikola Sjekloca in Germany.

Super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham and challenger Nikola Sjekloca met head-to-head on Tuesday at the kickoff news conference for their May 3 fight at the Velodrom in Berlin, Germany, and here’s some of what they had to say:

• Sjekloca: "I am going to dethrone the 'King' Arthur and take his title away. Last year, I had a competitive fight against Sakio Bika, who went on to win the WBC belt. Now I want to win the WBO title and unify against Bika in a rematch. I do not underestimate Abraham as I have followed his career since he had his first world championship fight. I studied his style in detail and know how to beat him."

• Abraham: "To study my style by watching videos is one thing, to step into the ring against me the other. I am leaving for training camp [Wednesday] morning. I know for a fact that my coach Ulli Wegner will come up with the right game plan for me to be victorious on May 3. I am really looking forward to defend the WBO world championship in my hometown of Berlin."

Abraham (39-4, 28 KOs) regained his belt on March 1, winning a split decision against rival Robert Stieglitz in Stieglitz’s hometown of Magdeburg, Germany in the rubber match of their trilogy. The win was Abraham’s third in a row since being knocked out by Stieglitz in the fourth round of their second fight in March 2013.

Sjekloca (26-1, 8 KOs), of Montenegro, came to the United States and faced Bika in a title elimination fight in February 2013 and lost a near-shutout decision. Bika went on to win a version of the 168-pound world title while Sjekloca rebounded to score a second-round knockout against sub-.500 opponent Misa Nikolic in Montenegro in August.