Monday, April 29, 2013

Pound-for-Pound Update

With Danny Garcia's victory over Zab Judah and Saul Alvarez's win against Austin Trout, there have been a number of changes to the Saturday Night Boxing pound-for-pound list. Garcia, with a strong body of work at junior welterweight, enters the SNB Top-20 at #18 and Alvarez, who beat an undefeated titlist to unify belts, debuts at #20.  Chris John drops out of the Rankings because of his lengthy run of middling opponents and his refusal to face the best at featherweight. In addition, Brian Viloria, who lost a clear to decision to Juan Estrada earlier in the month, exits the SNB Top-20.

The complete SNB Top-20 now stands:
  1. Floyd Mayweather
  2. Andre Ward
  3. Juan Manuel Marquez
  4. Sergio Martinez
  5. Manny Pacquiao
  6. Wladimir Klitschko
  7. Guillermo Rigondeaux
  8. Vitali Klitschko
  9. Nonito Donaire
  10. Tim Bradley
  11. Abner Mares
  12. Roman Gonzalez
  13. Carl Froch
  14. Bernard Hopkins
  15. Robert Guerrero
  16. Anselmo Moreno
  17. Daniel Geale
  18. Danny Garcia
  19. Juan Estrada
  20. Saul Alvarez
Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter
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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Boxing Asylum Podcast

I joined the Boxing Asylum podcast today to talk about yesterday's fights (Khan, Martinez, Garcia, Quillin and Wilder), Mayweather-Guerrero, the Boxing Hall of Fame, PEDS and, of course, nut shots.  Click on the link to listen.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Zab Judah: A Reconsideration

The images of defeat dominate the memory: staying down on the canvas and not trying to beat the count after a borderline low blow from Amir Khan, rushing at referee Jay Nady after the Kostya Tszyu loss, unraveling in a ring riot during the Floyd Mayweather match, making an ill-considered choice to end the Joshua Clottey bout because of a cut, laying eggs against Carlos Baldomir and Cory Spinks in their first showdown. He's associated with bling, entourages, fights with shower doors, disagreements with his father, trash talk, letting it rain in strip clubs and late-round fades.
The hotshot Brooklyn kid with the combination of hand speed, athleticism and power that touches only a select few in the world of boxing, he's the one who squandered those gifts. A victim of his potential and a cautionary tale about failures of discipline and rampant unprofessionalism, this is the Zab Judah story.
At least that's the conventional narrative. Much of it is inarguable. But the complete portrait of Judah seems far richer to me. Now 35, Judah has been a titlist or a legitimate title contender for 13 years. Think about that for a second. In a sport where the overwhelming majority of fighters never even sniff the top rungs, Judah has been relevant on the championship level for well over a decade. While others have fallen from boxing's elite level because of problems outside of the ring, the physical toll of the sport, the psychological burdens of losses, food, lack of desire, bad training habits or age, Judah perseveres and continues to attain featured positions on premium boxing channels.

Zab's lost seven times, and I'd posit that only the Baldomir defeat was a bad one. He came of age in a very strong era of fighters in the 140 and 147-lb. weight classes. Tszyu is already in the Hall of Fame. Mayweather will certainly be there. Cotto most likely will gain entry as well. 
He enters Saturday's fight against Danny Garcia just one punch away from being arguably the top guy in the 140-lb. division. And he's not seen as a patsy or a soft touch. Although an underdog, he's a very live one, with more than a few experts picking his speed and boxing skills over the more deliberate Garcia. A win over Garcia would not make the top-30 biggest upsets of the year.
Judah hasn't been a boy scout out of the ring; that's obvious. However, one must give him credit for maintaining his status in the sport. With just enough of his in-ring skill to tantalize networks and opposing promoters, and his typical bravado in press conferences and on social media, Judah remains relevant in the boxing conversation.
A key marker in the evaluation of his career was the decision to go down to junior welterweight after the Clottey loss in 2008. At the time, it was seen as a desperate attempt to remain viable. He was at an age (30) where many boxers find it very difficult to maintain their weight, let alone drop a division. Yet, Judah eventually ground his way down to 140 and made it work. He beat legitimate foes such as Lucas Matthysse (a victory that looks great in hindsight) and Kaizer Mabuza.
That decision to compete in the lower weight class was a gutsy one and spoke to Judah's understanding of his strengths and weaknesses. He rightly believed that his power would play up at junior welterweight and frankly, the body punching by some of the killers at 147 was a little too much for him. In addition, the dedication to training and maintaining the 140-lb. limit were fine examples of discipline and desire, two traits that supposedly had been lacking in his career.
Judah shouldn't be pitied; he made millions of dollars. He faced and competed gamely with the very best of his era. Although not a true 12-round fighter, he scared the bejeezus out of some excellent boxers. He's the one who clocked Tszyu in the first round, made Mayweather look ordinary through five rounds, forced Cotto to deliver low blows, neutralized Matthysse through the first half of their fight and removed Spinks from the welterweight division.
He's lived a very colorful life in and out of the ring. Through losses, trainer and promotional changes, moves, brawls and embarrassment, he's persevered. And although many in the boxing world are quick to lament his squandered potential, he should be praised for rebuilding himself after such professional disappointments.

He demonstrated tremendous guts in drowning out the crescendos of criticism throughout his career. He physically and psychologically pushed himself to remain toward the top of the sport when it would have been easy to take paths of lesser resistance.
Although the final chapters of his career have yet to be written, Judah will most likely be remembered with an almost wistful frustration. What would have happened if he had put it all together? What if he had excelled in big moments? What if he had lived a more Spartan lifestyle out of the ring? What if he had some better influences?
But before the Judah tome is shut, let us remember that the man won five different titles in two weight classes. He probably didn't wind up with the career that he, his supporters or boxing observers would have predicted when he arrived on the scene, but let's be honest; 99% of the fighters in the sport would have loved his career.
Maybe Judah pulls off the upset Saturday. It's certainly possible. But even if he doesn't...even if he finds a way to lose...even if he fades down the stretch, remember that he gave the sport a lot of great moments. Because of his irrepressible personality, tenaciousness and boxing acumen, a lot of fighters made great money off of his name. He was a key cog in the wheels of championship boxing for essentially a generation. When Tszyu won his first title in 1995, Danny Garcia was just seven years old.
Although Judah didn't reach the lofty perches of the all-time elite of the sport, he was still pretty damn good. His career was certainly florid and memorable. He'll be talked about far longer than some of his conquerors such as the Clotteys and Baldomirs of the world. Judah made his impact.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boxinghead Battle Update 4-23-13

Here are the updated standings for the 2013 Boxinghead Battle prediction game, a contest where professional boxing observers and amateur fans compete to see who can pick the most fights correctly. For the full set of rules for the 2013 Boxinghead Battle, click here. There are 67 players currently participating in this half-season of the Battle. Christopher Coreschi leads at +8.

Updated 4-23-13

Abramowitz, Adam (saturday night boxing) +2
Anjuum, Mohammad -1
Barry, Alex (boxing seed) +3
Boxing 101 +1
Boxing Advocate +7
Bivins, Ryan (bad left hook) +4
Browning, Ryan +1
Campbell, Brian (espn) 0
Christ, Scott (bad left hook) +5
Coppinger, Mike (ring) +3
Coreschi, Christopher +8
Craze, Tom (bad left hook) +1
Daniel +1
Dre 3
Enriquez, Hernan 0
Ferguson, Billy (fighthype) +5
Fischer, Douglass (ring) 0
Foley, James (bad left hook) +1
Frauenheim, Norm (15 rounds) +3
Freeburn, Shannon +1
Freeman, Jeff (KO Digest) 0
Fruman, Andrew (bad left hook) -1
Garcia, Julio +1
Greisman, David (boxing scene) -3
Groves, Lee (the ring) +3
Grozev, Radoslav +1
Guryashkin, Igor (espn) +2
Halford, Adrian +4
Hamad +2
Haro, Frank -1
Hegarty, Lucy +3
Jrosales -1
Junior Uzzy +1
Kitchen, Kory (bad left hook) -1
Levine, Adam -2
Marotta, Rich +3
Maquinana, Ryan (boxing scene) -1
McCarson, Kelsey (the sweet science) +5
Mojica, Matthew +5
Mulcahey, Marty +2
Oakes, Dave (bad left hook) 0
Obermayer, Jack (fight fax) +1
Odessa, Joey (MMA odds) +1
Ortega, Mark (ring) +3
Pawel -1
Poplawski, Ray 1
Rafael, Dan (espn) +1
Rawson, Paul +5
Richardson, Matt (fight news) +1
Robinson, Chris (boxing scene) +4
Rodriguez, Alex +2
Rold, Cliff (boxing scene) 0
Rosenthal, Michael (ring) +1
Salazar, Victor (boxing voice) +5
Santoloquito, Joe (ring) +4
Sher, Laurence +1
Sledskillz +4
Songalia, Ryan (ring) 0
Starks, Tim (tqbr) -1
SwishZ 0
Talbott, Steven +1
The Title Fight +3
Two Piece Boxing +5
Uddin, Riaz +1
Uriarte, Jorge 0
Velasco, Darren 0
Velin, Bob (USA Today) 1
Weiler, Matt -1

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter
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Friday, April 19, 2013

Prince Nonito and the Ghost of Rigo

Son, is your book report ready?

All good, dad.

Can I take a look at it?

It's all up here.

You have nothing written down?

I have it down cold.

You sure?


What if the teacher interrupts you?

I'll be fine.

What if someone asks you a question? What if someone distracts you? What if someone lets out a big fart in the middle of class? Don't laugh. I'm serious. Still think you'll be fine?


Son, can I tell you a story? It has something to do with the book report.

Yes. Of course! Will it be The Cotton and the Toad?
No. One you haven’t heard before. It's called Prince Nonito and the Ghost of Rigo.

Does it have beasts and princesses and kings and lollipops?

There are kings. No beasts, but there are warriors, and ghosts. Golden bays and beautiful islands.

But no lollipops?

There will be one lollipop.


Trust me. You'll like it. Let me begin. There once was a poor boy named Nonito who was born in Melonia, a chain of islands in The Great Sea formed by the angriest volcanoes you've ever seen. As a young boy Nonito dreamed of glory and riches. He was short and other kids picked on him. But Nonito was very strong and very fast. In time, he defeated all of his bullies and the townspeople started to notice the small boy with the fighting spirit.

With a push from the villagers, he realized that becoming a warrior was the best way to improve the life for him and his family. The first time he picked up a sword and shield, he took to it like a fish in water. Immediately, Nonito became a special warrior. As he got older, he destroyed many formidable enemies in the Third Lilliputian Wars. Eventually, he became one of the best and most celebrated warriors in Pugilia, a land made up of the best warriors in the history of time. There were many foes he had vanquished, some spectacularly.

During every battle, Nonito tried as hard as he could to impress the citizens of Pugilia, maybe too hard. He wanted to do something so breathtaking and unique that he made his battles harder than they needed to be. But lo and behold, the citizens of Pugilia started to embrace him and the Council of Scribblers took notice of his every move. They anointed him a prince and he was awarded a grand castle in the province of Golden Bay. And although the new prince was respected throughout Pugilia and had riches as far as the eye could see, he was not content. He wanted to be king. 

On the throne sat King Moneyflow, an older warrior who was appreciated for his brilliant mind and the wealth he bestowed on the citizens of Pugilia. However, King Moneyflow was not necessarily beloved. He was very secretive and as he aged, many throughout the land believed that he was afraid of Pugilia's enemies. They hoped for a new king, a truer warrior.

In Pugilia, one did not become a king because of birth or lineage. What I mean is you did not ascend to the throne because of the royal status of your parents or family. In fact, King Moneyflow was a far better warrior than his father – far more powerful too. In Pugilia, you were selected to become king by votes from the Council of Scribblers. The Council anointed royalty based on the performance on the battlefield. For Prince Nonito to become king, he needed the votes of the Council, and they had not yet seen a warrior to replace King Moneyflow.

For the prince's quest to become king, he aligned with Arid, a brilliant but often treacherous sage. Arid had fought a losing war to King Moneyflow a decade earlier. Even in old age, Arid was still seeking vengeance upon Moneyflow. He saw Prince Nonito as a grand opportunity to influence a new king.

So, daddy, why didn't King Moneyflow kill Arid?

Because he was a clever man. He wanted Arid to remain as a demonstration to his enemies of what would happen when they lose to the king.

But Arid regrouped and slowly rebuilt his power, hoping one day to find a new warrior who could become king. Arid believed in Prince Nonito and helped guide him on the king's path.

Prince Nonito had just destroyed Jarman, a decorated warrior who would ride to battle with the finest horse in the land and the biggest, most delightful lollipop ever created. People all throughout Pugilia started to sing Prince Nonito's praises.

His wanting to become king consumed his every thought. He went to Arid for advice on how to get there faster. Arid told Nonito that on his quest to be king, he must defeat the Ghost of Rigo, one of the most dominating spirits in the history of Red Island.

Red Island was this mysterious place where adults were not allowed to leave. They would send out teenagers to vanquish Pugilia's teenagers every four years. The conquering teenagers would then return to the island, never to be seen again. The people of Red Island were trapped under the iron rule of Dr. Cast and his band of torturers. But the Ghost of Rigo, a free spirit full of cunning and wit, found a way to escape.

Dad, is all of Red Island made of ghosts?

No, Red Island has all sorts of types. Even on an island noted for its conquering teenagers, Rigo was regarded as one of its very best. When he escaped, Dr. Cast was so distraught that he turned the throne over to his younger brother, and he lived the last few years of his life in complete solitude.

So Rigo arrived in Pugilia and settled in Pastel Town, a tropical paradise where the few others who escaped Red Island lived. The people of Pugilia looked at Rigo strangely. They admired his fighting skills but weren't used to his to his wizardry and questioned his bravery.

So he was a ghost, and a wizard?

Yes, as I said, he was very special.

Sounds like it.

Rigo started dominating young and inexperienced warriors in Pugilia. Eventually, he also came into contact with Arid, who believed that Rigo could one day become one of the best warriors in Pugilia. Although Arid pledged his support to Prince Nonito, he also knew that if the Ghost won, he may one day have yet another potential warrior to dethrone King Moneyflow.

The battle was arranged to take place on Commerce Island, a place where Prince Nonito fought before and had failed to impress. He once won a battle there against a man from Footina but didn't endear himself to the citizens. Nonito vowed that his next battle at Commerce Island would be the battle to end all battles.

But then the Prince got off track. In preparing for battle, Nonito did not study his enemy. He and his battlemaster, Rogar, did not put in enough time to understand Rigo's weaknesses. Meanwhile, Rigo's battlemaster, Pez –

Pez, like the candy.

Yes, similar name. Just a coincidence.


So, while Rigo and Pez were ready for battle, Prince Nonito was spending time with well-wishers. He thought that he already had all the tools needed for victory. The Prince believed that his armor made of the best iron, the sharpness of his sword and the safety of his massive shield would make the Ghost cower, and he would win with ease.

Even though most thought their Prince would win, a vocal few expected Rigo to be the conqueror. One in particular, Ig, from Stallion City, claimed that he had been foretold of Rigo's victory two years earlier by an oracle.

The day of the battle arrived. Right before witching hour, the fight commenced. Very quickly, it became clear that the Ghost had the speed, the movement and the intelligence to win. He would joust and thrust with lightning fast movements. The Prince couldn't catch him. Whatever plan of attack Prince Nonito had, it didn't work. He stood there, afraid to make a mistake. Hesitant, he was no warrior. Even when he would land a thunderous blow with his sword, he didn't know what to do next. He was spooked.

When the witching hour was over, the battle ended. The Ghost of Rigo was the clear victor. All across Pugilia, citizens were dispirited by Prince Nonito's loss. 

In the end, Prince Nonito was a beaten man and the Council looked down upon his performance. He left Commerce City to return to Golden Bay. There was no more talk of being king.

Rigo was now a warrior on the rise. His technique was strange, his skills untraditional. He fought like a ghost – there one minute, gone the next, and with all sorts of scary tricks. He would be a challenge for any mere mortal.

After years of fighting to become the king, the Prince spent many months alone in Golden Bay. His name was tarnished, his future uncertain, his honor in question and his warrior spirit deflated. He was no longer beloved by the citizens of Pugilia or regarded fondly by the Council. He would never become king.

So that was the story. What was the moral?

Never underesimate –

Un-der-es-ti-mate. With a t.

Underestimate. Never underestimate your opponent.

Very good. What else?

Always prepare for battle.


Umm. I think I should go upstairs and write down my book report.

Such a smart kid. I love you.

Dad, one more question.

Sure, son.

If Prince Nonito prepared for the Ghost more and trained harder with Battlemaster Rogar, would he have defeated Rigo? 

We'll never know son, we'll never know.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pound-for-Pound Update

With Guillermo Rigondeaux's unanimous decision win over Nonito Donaire, there have been a number of changes to the SNB Top-20.  Rigondeaux debuts in the Rankings at #7 while Donaire drops from #3 to #9. The following fighters all moved up a spot (new number in parenthesis): Juan Manuel Marquez (3), Sergio Martinez (4), Manny Pacquiao (5) and Wladimir Klitschko (6).  

Marco Huck drops out of the rankings and the following fighters have all dropped one position: Tim Bradley (10), Abner Mares (11), Roman Gonzalez (12), Carl Froch (13), Bernard Hopkins (14), Robert Guerrero (15), Anselmo Moreno (16), Daniel Geale (17), Chris John (18), Juan Estrada (19) and Brian Viloria (20).   The complete SNB Top-20 is below. 
  1. Floyd Mayweather
  2. Andre Ward
  3. Juan Manuel Marquez
  4. Sergio Martinez
  5. Manny Pacquiao
  6. Wladimir Klitschko
  7. Guillermo Rigondeaux
  8. Vitali Klitschko
  9. Nonito Donaire
  10. Tim Bradley
  11. Abner Mares
  12. Roman Gonzalez
  13. Carl Froch
  14. Bernard Hopkins
  15. Robert Guerrero
  16. Anselmo Moreno
  17. Daniel Geale
  18. Chris John
  19. Juan Estrada
  20. Brian Viloria
Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
Contact Adam at
@snboxing on twitter
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Friday, April 12, 2013

Donaire-Rigondeaux: Keys to the Fight

This Saturday marks the junior featherweight title unification clash between multi-divisional champion Nonito Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs) and famed Cuban amateur Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KOs) at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Both fighters possess one-punch knockout power, athleticism and veteran tricks. Read below for the keys to the fight. My prediction will be at the end of the article.

1. Footsy, with a twist.

Typically, when a southpaw meets an orthodox fighter, the two combatants battle for outside positioning with their feet to establish better angles to land with their dominant hand. Rigondeaux, the southpaw, will definitely attempt to follow this plan. His best punches are thrown with his left hand – straight left and left uppercut. However, Donaire is a different beast. An orthodox puncher, his most devastating punch is actually his left hook. This changes the traditional foot positioning battle quite a bit.

Rigondeaux will move towards his right to position himself for his power shots, but he will then be in range for Donaire's hook. Essentially, Donaire can and probably will concede the outside positioning so he could land his hook with maximum impact. In addition, Donaire can land that punch from all sorts of crazy angles. Essentially, this battle of ring positioning will include power moving into power, providing opportunities for fireworks.

2. Chins.

Both of these fighters have erasers. Donaire can put people to sleep with his left hook or straight right hand. Rigondeaux's counter left hand is one of the best punches in boxing. His left uppercut is also pulverizing. This fight may very well come down to who can better take shots.

On paper, Donaire seems to have the advantage. Over the last three years, he has moved up two weight classes and his chin hasn't been seriously dented. In his four fights at junior featherweight, Donaire has taken shots very well.

Rigondeaux was dropped by Ricardo Cordoba in 2010 and was shaken up by a couple of left hooks in his last fight against Robert Marroquin. In addition, once he gets hit hard, he doesn't fire back immediately. He needs a significant amount of recovery time.

Will Donaire's chin hold up to the best puncher he has faced at 122? Will Rigondeaux be able to recover from Donaire's power? If knocked down, will he be able to get up and be effective?

3. Patience, but not too much patience.

Perhaps Donaire's biggest flaw as a fighter is his recklessness in taking risks to land knockout punches. This leads to him absorbing unnecessary blows and/or loading up on big shots. Donaire sees himself as an entertainer and while this self-perception is excellent for boxing fans, it can be a double-edged sword. Because of Donaire's need to entertain, he can get out of his game plan and, in fact, start to look much less impressive in the ring. Sometimes the big shots never come. Meanwhile, his opponents can start to win rounds. Donaire can't take the same type of reckless risks that he did against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. or Jeffrey Mathebula. Rigondeaux is a powerful sharpshooter. If Donaire's out of position after wild shots, Rigondeaux will make him pay.

For Rigondeaux, he waits...and waits...and waits. Staring at his opponents, looking for countering opportunities, Rigondeaux can be outworked. In addition, he can take rounds off. Against Donaire, Rigondeaux may miss some shots and set himself up for Donaire's thudding counters, but he has to pull the trigger.

Donaire must not get sucked into Rigondeaux's waiting game and lower punch output. It's important that he starts out compact with his shots. If the opportunity for something really hard is there, he should take it, but he can't force the action with wide shots. Donaire must initiate offense, but responsibly. I think lead left hooks will be his way into the fight.

4. Conditioning and punch volume.

Donaire is one of the best conditioned athletes in the sport. Rigondeaux, although flexible, athletic and muscular, can tire throughout fights. In a match that could feature a lot of close rounds, Donaire's ability to step on the gas in the last 30 seconds of a frame could prove decisive. In addition, Rigondeaux takes breaks where he circles around the ring. Although this is artful, it often can be a tactic to buy some time and draw out his opponent. For Donaire, he needs to stay aggressive in these moments and hope that the judges will reward his activity level and forward movement. He should throw at least 40 punches per round.

Rigondeaux needs to realize that Donaire will be there for the whole 12 rounds. He won't tire or get softened up. Rigondeaux needs to keep Donaire's work rate down with his feinting, circling and quick counters. If Rigondeaux can keep Donaire's punch output below 30 per round, he'll have a very good chance of winning a decision. I think if Rigondeaux is throwing over 25 punches a frame, that's a very good sign.

5. Tricks.

Rigondeaux has a basket full of tricks. From using his forearms and elbows to keep his opponents in place to illegal shots during clinches, Rigondeaux would make former Cuban champ and dark arts master Joel Casamayor happy. In terms of legal maneuvers, Guillermo's side-to-side and in-and-out movement can be very tough to time. In addition, he'll also throw a half jab and left hand before he comes back with the exact same punches at full speed. He's a master at disruption and timing.

Donaire will take a big punch to encourage his opponents to be offensive. As he did against Toshiaki Nishioka and Jeffrey Mathebula, he'll lure his opponents in to land the perfect counter shot, usually his left hook, although his counter right is a real weapon too. Donaire has become excellent at setting traps. Don't be surprised if he plays possum at some point in the fight, doing his best acting to convince Rigondeaux that he's hurt.

Both fighters are probably aware of each other's psychological dimensions. However, it's not necessarily easy to prepare for them. It will be fascinating to see who gets the leg up in this area.


I'm going bold here with my pick. Honestly, I don't think Rigondeaux can take Donaire's best shot. It may take a few rounds for Donaire to land his Sunday punch, but when he does, I don't see Rigondeaux getting back up. I realize that this fight could play out a number of ways and that Rigondeaux has a good chance to win. However, I think that his chin is suspect, which is a bad problem to have against a power puncher like Donaire. Donaire feints the right, draws a counter and lands a crushing left hook. Game over.

Nonito Donaire KO 4 Guillermo Rigondeaux

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter
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Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Rundown: Bradley, Golden Boy and HBO

Big Story #1: Bradley-Provodnikov

Tim Bradley, making his return to the ring nine months after his disputed win over Manny Pacquiao, waged a fierce war with Ruslan Provodnikov that turned out to be a fight for the ages. Bradley was hurt in round 1 and faced serious trouble from the heavy-handed pressure fighter in rounds 2, 6, and 12. He was knocked down in the final seconds of the 12th but made it back to his feet to hear the final bell. In other rounds, Bradley boxed beautifully and hit Provodnikov at-will with his full arsenal of punches; he scratched out a close, unanimous decision. It was an unforgettable fight filled with drama, momentum shifts and carnage.

Big Story #2: HBO pulls the plug on Golden Boy

After seeing a steady defection of Golden Boy fighters to Showtime, HBO took the unusual step of publicly announcing that it would no longer be in business with the promoter. Following the doctrine of preemption, HBO turned the tides on Golden Boy and further disassociated itself from influential advisor Al Haymon, and his large stable of fighters.

A Damn Good Month:

Mike Alvarado: Surviving some vicious shots from Brandon Rios early in their rematch, Alvarado boxed his way to a victory and pulled off the upset. Alvarado made many changes for the rematch, including shortening his punches, changing his stance and reducing his punch output. Alvarado impressed a lot of people with his boxing intelligence, discipline and coachability.

Tim Bradley: Bradley completely wiped away the bitter taste of his "victory" over Pacquiao with his rousing performance against Provodnikov. Showing heart, toughness and skills (if not quite intelligence), Bradley captivated the imagination of the boxing public with his gutty effort. It was the type of spirited performance that will help broaden his appeal within the sport.

Juan Estrada: In six months, Estrada has gone from an obscure light flyweight to the best flyweight in the world. Just 22, Estrada outslugged pound-for-pound fighter Brian Viloria to earn a decisive victory. The Mexican featured a complete offensive arsenal, tricky upper body movement and good hand speed. Estrada may have a big money fight later this year in a rematch against Roman Gonzalez – Estrada lost a competitive decision last year.

Rudy Hernandez: Doing double duty in the Alvarado fight, Hernandez made sure that a bad cut didn't come into play in the second half of the fight and also provided crucial instruction in the corner. Consistently emphasizing that Alvarado needed to box, Hernandez, who was the assistant trainer but took the lead in the corner, did a great job in guiding Alvarado to victory.

Bernard Hopkins: The ageless one continues – this time earning a victory and another title crown by defeating Tavoris Cloud. It wasn't among the best performances of Hopkins' career, but he featured enough combination punching and cunning to neutralize Cloud's offense. He's now at the point of his career where he's breaking his own records.

Macau: The Chinese administrative district hosted its largest international professional boxing card to date. By all accounts the Zou Shiming-headlined, Top Rank promotion was a resounding success. Macau, which has ritzy casinos on par with Las Vegas, will be a player for Pacquiao's next fight.

Roman Martinez: The two-time junior lightweight titlist always seems beatable and his fight against Diego Magdaleno was no different. However, Martinez scored a picture perfect knockdown in the fourth and dominated late to win a split decision. Although not blessed with an inordinate amount of hand speed or skill, Martinez's power and pressure make him a tough opponent for anyone at 130 lbs.

Ruslan Provodnikov: Although Provodnikov didn't come away with the victory over Bradley, he demonstrated his power, even after moving up to the welterweight limit. Despite the loss, Provodnikov ensured that he will be an in-demand fighter on premium television.

Zou Shiming: Yes, he's 32 and it may be too late to make an impact in a highly competitive flyweight division. But symbolically, Shiming’s professional debut will be remembered as a pivotal moment for Chinese boxing.

Robert Stieglitz: Stieglitz came out firing in his rematch against Arthur Abraham and effectively closed Abraham's left eye by the end of the second round. Abraham didn't answer the bell for the fourth and Stieglitz reclaimed his super middleweight belt.

Top Rank: Had a big month on two fronts. First, the company put on three memorable cards with Bradley-Provodnikov, Rios-Alvarado II and the Zou Shiming card from Macau. Second, HBO was impressed enough with its non-Golden Boy product that it expelled Top Rank's bitter rival from its airwaves. A great development for Top Rank, the company now becomes HBO's most frequent content provider.

Shinsuke Yamanaka: The southpaw, heavy hitter from Japan made a stirring defense of his bantamweight belt by knocking out Malcolm Tunacao in the 12th round. Scoring three knockdowns in the fight, Yamanaka demonstrated his expert timing and countering. His straight left hand is special.

Other fighters looking good: Terence Crawford, Keith Thurman and Akira Yaegashi

Not The Best Month Not The Worst Month:

Isaac Chilemba: Chilemba wound up with a draw against Tony Bellew. Conventional wisdom states that a fighter who gets a draw on the road most likely won the fight, and in this case that's true. Chilemba did enough to earn the victory but he was too deliberative starting out. He could have picked up a few more rounds in the judges' eyes by letting his hands go more often.

Golden Boy: It's never a good thing when the biggest U.S. boxing network doesn't want to do business with you. Yes, Golden Boy will be fine, but this new reality with HBO means fewer dates for its premium fighters, not the goal of a promoter. Golden Boy ended the month by announcing a new deal with Fox to start a 24-fight series with its rebranded sports network – a big coup for the promoter.

HBO: The network had an excellent month with Bradley-Provodnikov and Rios-Alvarado II. However, it's not a good sign when some of the most compelling names in the sport will be fighting on Showtime. HBO may be able to save face and further develop its boxing program, but Showtime is here to stay as a well-funded and ambitious rival.

Pat Russell: The California referee had a mixed performance in Bradley-Provodnikov. He missed an early knockdown, which, if called correctly, would have changed the fight to a draw. However, Russell let the fight go 12 rounds when many refs would have stopped it in the second or sixth. Russell deserves a lot of credit for the memorable fight.

Brian Viloria: Viloria lost decisively to Juan Estrada, slowing down in the second half of the fight, unable to match Estrada's punch volume or intensity. However, Viloria had some great moments in the early rounds and landed some enormous bombs. He should have used movement earlier in the fight, which would have reduced the amount of blows he absorbed, enabling him to stay fresh in the late rounds.

Is This Month Over Yet:

Arthur Abraham: Abraham's proclivities for slow starts caught up with him as Stieglitz jumped on him and closed his eye by the second round. Abraham never really got into the fight and his usual strategy of gradually easing his way into a fight turned disastrous.

Tony Bellew: Bellew had a winnable fight against Chilemba and then decided not to move his hands in the second half. For a guy who is so boisterous in the lead-up to his fights, Bellew was downright docile through much of the match. Not a good performance in front of his home crowd.

Tavoris Cloud: Cloud also had a winnable fight, but couldn't pull the trigger against Hopkins. Cloud needed to have a high work rate and attack at close range; neither of those things occurred. For Cloud, his moment to really make a name for himself in the sport slipped away, and he has no one to blame but himself.

Don King: The famed promoter had his most visible fighter lose and the days of Don King fighters appearing on premium television may finally be coming to a close. Don't cry for King; he's had a legendary career. But his time as a top promoter has ended, and even the remnants of his once mighty Kingdom have fallen by the wayside. 

Diego Magdaleno: Fighting for his first title, Magdaleno boxed well in the first half of his bout against Roman Martinez. But gradually his confidence eroded and he refused to be as aggressive as he should've been down the stretch. He lost a split decision. If he fought with more intensity, he'd be the champ. 

Brandon Rios: On one hand, Rios acquitted himself well in his loss to Alvarado in the rematch. He hurt Alvarado on numerous occasions and demonstrated his grit and relentlessness. However, the fight illustrated Rios' inability to consistently cut off the ring. Now, there is no more talk of him facing Pacquiao later on in the year. Through that prism, last month was a major setback.

Bad Judging:

Levi Martinez: (115-113 for Viloria over Estrada) I'm not sure that Viloria's family could even find seven rounds to give to its man. In fairness, this was the fourth of five fights that Martinez had to judge on the day, an abominable practice that helps explain, not excuse, his performance.

Bad Reffing:

Charlie Fitch: After the seventh round of Vera-Bondorovas, Fitch went into Bondorovas' corner and asked him if he wanted to continue. The fighter had suffered a pretty bad cut in the sixth round. Fitch heard something in the corner and immediately waved off the fight, giving Vera the win. Bondorovas' Ukrainian cornermen went apoplectic and claimed that they misunderstood Fitch's question. Ultimately, Fitch was way too quick to pull the trigger and didn't adequately explain the situation or listen for appropriate feedback. Not his best moment as a professional.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter
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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Pound-for-Pound Update

With Juan Estrada's decisive win over former Saturday Night Boxing pound-for-pound #10 Brian Viloria, Estrada makes his first entrance into the SNB Top-20. He enters the Rankings at #18, Viloria drops to #19 and Marco Huck slides down to #20. Chad Dawson exits the SNB Top-20. The following fighters all move up on spot: Abner Mares, Roman Gonzalez, Carl Froch, Bernard Hopkins, Robert Guerrero, Anselmo Moreno, Daniel Geale and Chris John. The new SNB Top-20 is as follows:

  1. Floyd Mayweather
  2. Andre Ward
  3. Nonito Donaire
  4. Juan Manuel Marquez
  5. Sergio Martinez
  6. Manny Pacquiao
  7. Wladimir Klitschko
  8. Vitali Klitschko
  9. Tim Bradley
  10. Abner Mares
  11. Roman Gonzalez
  12. Carl Froch
  13. Bernard Hopkins
  14. Robert Guerrero
  15. Anslemo Moreno
  16. Daniel Geale
  17. Chris John
  18. Juan Estrada
  19. Brian Viloria
  20. Marco Huck
Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter
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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Alvarado's Aptitude

Mike Alvarado's game plan on Saturday was not a trade secret: use his legs, box more, make Brandon Rios work to get off shots. With the exception of Teddy Atlas of ESPN, who suggested that Alvarado not box from the outside, pretty much everyone in the sport realized that Alvarado couldn't stand and trade with Rios, whether at close range in the center of the ring or along the ropes. The burning questions were if Alvarado knew this, and if he did, could he execute a game plan that differed so significantly from his past style.  

Alvarado was originally a wrestler growing up. As he transitioned to boxing, there was no questioning his physique or toughness in the ring. He was not necessarily a one-punch knockout artist but had good power. Alvarado featured a nice arsenal of offensive weapons but was limited defensively and would rather take two shots flush than take a step back. He scored knockouts with a combination of pressure, physicality, volume and heavy hands. His aggressive, brawling style had suited him well in the ring until he was stopped last October by Rios, who essentially bested Alvarado at his own game of power shots, pressure and relentless combat.  

Coming into Saturday's fight, Alvarado, 32 with 34 pro fights, was no spring chicken. Although he had had been a pro for nine years, he had yet to establish himself in the top reaches of the junior welterweight division. Throughout his time in the professional ranks, he had remained faithful to his aggressive, brawling style.

How many pros in their 30s successfully change their approach in the ring? For recent examples, certainly Marquez did. Mayweather. Barrera, to a degree. Hopkins. These fighters transitioned into a second or third act, but they were all either elite talents or once had been. Alvarado had never been considered an elite guy. He hadn't even won a championship belt.
Thus, the cards were stacked against him in the rematch. Not known as being particularly adaptable in the ring or crafty, Alvarado would attempt to show the world that he had the discipline, aptitude and skill to beat Rios with a reliance on boxing. Going into the fight, the public wasn't buying it and Rios was a decided favorite.
But Alvarado proved most of us wrong. Even after getting rocked by a pounding jab in round two and some right hands towards the end of the frame, even after getting caught with some vicious shots in the third round, especially with a couple of Rios' left hooks, even after Rios applied hellacious pressure and connected with pulverizing punches during the 11th, Alvarado stuck to his game plan and boxed his way to a unanimous victory.

His performance was a wonderful surprise and a perfect example of "why they fight the fights." After attending the first bout, I didn't have the urge to see the second one in person. I predicted an eventual Rios win on account of his grinding pressure and superior infighting. Frankly, I didn't expect Alvarado to make so many meaningful changes, and have the ability to execute on them; it was a pleasure to be so mistaken.  

Perhaps what struck me the most was Alvarado's reduction in punch volume. After averaging over 100 punches a round in the first bout, Alvarado brought his total in the second fight down closer to 70. This served multiple purposes. Most importantly, it limited Rios' opportunities to trade. By throwing punches more selectively, Alvarado was better able to control the flow of the action. He didn't get tagged nearly as much as he did in the first fight and as a result he could initiate offense more to his liking.

When Alvarado wasn't throwing, he used the time effectively. He didn't just stand and stare at Rios just out of range; he worked the ring, circling the perimeter and going side to side. He made Rios try to track him down. His superior foot speed proved to be an advantage throughout the entire fight.  

In addition, Alvarado kept his combination sequences shorter. I counted his lengthiest combination at four punches; most were two or three shots. Again breaking from his past style, he wasn't trying to wear down his opponent with power and volume. He got his work in and left. He was still very effective with his right hand (more on that later) and at times with his left hook and jab. In fact, he did more damage in this fight than he did in the first one – perhaps because Rios was less certain where and when the punches would arrive.  

Alvarado made two technical adjustments for the rematch that really paid off throughout the fight. First, he changed his stance significantly. When fighting in close range, he got much lower, almost in a crouch. This made him less of a target for Rios overhand right hand. In addition, this enabled him to throw shorter shots.  

In particular, Alvarado shortened up his right hand. No longer winging it from his shoulder or his waste, Alvarado kept his right hand positioned in front of him. This led to the punch coming at Rios from a different trajectory than he was used to seeing; he had problems making an adjustment to it. The shorter right hand was extremely effective and it was thrown with a ton of snap on it. I had been somewhat unimpressed with Alvarado's right hand in past fights. It looked menacing and it was thrown with so much force, but I believe that the distance it had to travel to reach its target took some of the sting off of the shot. On Saturday, this wasn't the case.

There were also other meaningful changes that led to Alvarado's victory. His team brought in Rudy Hernandez full time as a cut man and assistant trainer. On fight night, Hernandez, not lead trainer Shann Vilhauer, was the one giving primary instructions in the corner and his experience in ring wars was clearly a factor that benefited Alvarado. He consistently reinforced the need to box and he remained calm and clear during the minute breaks. (Hernandez also did a great job on Alvarado's face. It was really cut up early in the fight but the cuts didn't play a meaningful role in the outcome of the fight.)

Ultimately, most of these changes were worked on at the gym, but Alvarado deserves all of the credit for executing them against one of the most relentless pressure fighters in the sport. He was cut, badly hurt and facing a guy who wouldn't quit. However, Alvarado didn't deviate from the plan. In the fight's second half, when opponents typically wilt against Rios, Alvarado doubled down on his legs and his selectivity to effectively neutralize Rios. From the outside, it may appear easy for fighters to nullify Rios' aggression, but to date, Alvarado is the only one who has beaten him (Richar Abril should also be on this list but two Vegas judges decided not to watch his performance in the ring).

Saturday was Alvarado's moment. He demonstrated that he wasn't a one-dimensional banger. He took it upon himself to let the boxing world know that he wasn't just a fun B-side fighter who lacked the ability to get to another level. Instead, he showed intelligence, poise, discipline, cunning and ring awareness. Mike Alvarado will never be confused with a ring expert like Floyd Mayweather, but he no longer will be seen as the former "Mike Alvarado" either. The perception of him as a fighter has changed; he now has more weapons in his arsenal, more tools in his toolbox and different ways to win.

Alvarado's career has new life and it will be interesting to see if his ousting of Rios was the first step in his ascendance in the sport or just a betterment of a familiar opponent. The real fun starts now for Alvarado's career – more money, more opportunities and an ability to momentarily set the terms for his immediate future. Right now, he's no longer a guy to fill out an undercard or a pay per view slot. He's not functioning to make another Top Rank guy look good. If he's going to have a real future in the sport, his next two fights will be his most important.

Perhaps what Saturday illustrated more than anything is how hard it is to speculate on an unproven fighter's intangibles. Prior to Rios, Alvarado never really had to work the outside of the ring to secure a victory. He didn't have to rely on getting in and out of the pocket unscathed. Because he had not exhibited these skills in prior fights, the assumption was the he was unable to incorporate these skills into his repertoire. Surely, he had learned these skills, the thought went. If he hadn't been able to demonstrate these abilities by now, why would he suddenly be able to incorporate them?

Alvarado had success with a particular style throughout his career. When it failed him, he changed his approach, and changed it fundamentally. On Saturday, he demonstrated a solid understanding of his strengths and weaknesses, exhibited a firm grasp of ring generalship and altered his technique in order to give him a better chance to win. Alvarado's numerous adaptations all occurred in just one fight, a stunning achievement when you think about it.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter
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