Monday, September 29, 2014

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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, September 26, 2014

The Ruckus Podcast

I joined this week's "The Ruckus" podcast, hosted by Jeandra LeBeauf and Ryan Bivins. We talked about Canelo Alvarez's jump to HBO, his immediate future, Floyd Mayweather in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, James Kirkland and the fights that we are excited about for the fall.

I come on 11 minutes into the podcast. 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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Monday, September 22, 2014

An Open Letter to the Nevada State Athletic Commission Regarding Robert Hoyle

Note: this letter was emailed to Francisco Aguilar, Chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, on September 22, 2014. 

Dear Chairman Aguilar:

I am writing in reference to a concerning pattern that I have noticed regarding the scorecards of Nevada boxing judge Robert Hoyle, particularly in title fights that he has judged that involve boxers who are based in Las Vegas, Mr. Hoyle’s hometown. On September 13, 2014, Mr. Hoyle turned in a scorecard of 119-109 in favor of Mickey Bey over Miguel Vazquez in an IBF world lightweight title fight. This score was far out of line with the other two judges of the bout – Adalaide Byrd, who scored it 115-113 in favor of Vazquez, and Julie Lederman, who saw the fight for Bey 115-113. The Showtime TV commentators scored the fight in favor of Vazquez and most ringside observers appeared to have Vazquez winning the fight, a draw or a small Bey victory. In no scorecards that I reviewed in the aftermath of the fight did I see anyone having Bey winning 11 rounds in that bout.

In the first half of the fight, Bey was ineffectual. In fact, in four of the first six rounds of the match, CompuBox (not a perfect characterization of a fight’s action, but a neutral and descriptive one) had Bey landing five or fewer punches. In four of the first six rounds, Bey was credited by the organization as landing only three or fewer power punches. According to CompuBox, Vazquez outlanded Bey in the fight in five of the rounds and three more were even.

In addition, Bey’s shots throughout the fight weren’t particularly hard-hitting, so even in those cases where he landed fewer punches than Vazquez in a given round it wasn’t as if his power shots were so conclusively superior that he should have been awarded those rounds. Now, I understand that this fight didn’t feature lots of action, but a discerning and competent judge should have been able to select Vazquez as the winner in far more than one round of the fight.

As you may know, Bey trains out of the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas. He is promoted by Mayweather Promotions, a Las Vegas-based organization, and he has been a fixture in the Las Vegas boxing circuit for many years. Vazquez is from Mexico and trains out of California.

Mr. Hoyle has been judging fights in the Nevada jurisdiction since at least 2000. He has been selected for many international judging assignments by various sanctioning bodies and his scores, with very few exceptions, have proven that he is a competent judge. However, most of these exceptions involve fighters who are based in Las Vegas. On April 12th of this year, he scored the Jessie Vargas-Khabib Allakhverdiev WBA light welterweight title fight (which took place in Nevada) 117-111 for Vargas, another fighter who lives in Las Vegas. His scorecard for the bout was wider for Vargas than the other two judges, who also both had it 115-113 for Vargas.  Most observers of the fight believed that the contest could have been awarded to either fighter. 117-111 seemed beyond the reasonable range of scores for that bout and again, after the fight, I didn’t see a similar score for Vargas by that margin.

On April 6, 2013, Mr. Hoyle was selected to judge the Roman Martinez-Diego Magdaleno WBO lightweight championship fight in Macau, China. Magdaleno, like Bey and Vargas, was also from Vegas (all three fighters were going for their first major world title in these bouts). Mr. Hoyle turned in a card of 116-111 for Magdaleno, while the other two judges saw the fight 115-112 and 114-113 for Martinez. In the fight, Magdaleno was knocked down and had a very ineffective second half. Most observers had the fight as a close Martinez victory and Mr. Hoyle’s scorecard indicated that he had given Magdaleno nine rounds in the fight. Again, this scorecard was well out of the range of other judges and media scores for the bout.

As I stated earlier, I have reviewed Mr. Hoyle’s judging record in depth and although there have been instances of deviations from other judges in a few of his bouts, I have found his record to be quite satisfactory in terms of his ability to judge fights accurately. However, when Vegas-based fighters are involved against out-of-jurisdiction opponents, his scorecards show a disturbing pattern of favoritism towards those from his home city.  

As the Chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, I know that it is a responsibility of yours to ensure that the NSAC and its designated officials shield itself from impropriety, the appearance of impropriety or bias. I recommend that the Commission reviews these fights in question with Mr. Hoyle and investigates to see if there were any prejudicial actions, behaviors or bias on Mr. Hoyle’s behalf that occurred in connection with these bouts.

I know that you take these matters very seriously and it is imperative that out-of-jurisdiction fighters get a fair shake with NSAC-appointed officials for their bouts. As one of the leading combat sport commissions in the country, the NSAC must be perceived as being an official body that upholds the highest standards of propriety and integrity. Thank you for your consideration.

Adam Abramowitz
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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, September 18, 2014

Pound-for-Pound Update 9-18-14

With the recent action in the flyweight division, there have been a number of changes to the Saturday Night Boxing pound for pound list. Here are the updates:

Roman Gonzalez (3, previous rank 9):  With his dominant ninth-round knockout over lineal flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi earlier this month, Gonzalez has now won titles in three divisions and also holds key victories over Juan Estrada (who will be listed below) and Francisco Rodriguez Jr. (the #1 strawweight). At 40-0 with 34 KOs (including 10-0, 6 KOs in world title fights), Gonzalez, from Nicaragua, continues to ascend the pound-for-pound rankings. He moves up six spots from #9 to #3. 

Juan Estrada (11, previous rank 17): Earlier in September, Estrada knocked out hard-hitting Giovani Segura in the 11th round, capping off an impressive 18 months where he has defeated former pound-for-pound fighter Brian Viloria and flyweight contenders Milan Melindo and Richie Mepranum. Estrada, from Mexico, features an impressive combination of pure boxing skills, athleticism and power. He rises six spots on the Saturday Night Boxing Top-20 Fighters list to #11. 

The complete Saturday Night Boxing pound-for-pound list is below:
  1. Floyd Mayweather
  2. Andre Ward
  3. Roman Gonzalez
  4. Wladimir Klitschko
  5. Manny Pacquiao
  6. Juan Manuel Marquez
  7. Tim Bradley
  8. Guillermo Rigondeaux
  9. Carl Froch
  10. Bernard Hopkins
  11. Juan Estrada
  12. Adonis Stevenson
  13. Miguel Cotto
  14. Danny Garcia
  15. Gennady Golovkin
  16. Anselmo Moreno 
  17. Nonito Donaire
  18. Saul Alvarez
  19. Takashi Uchiyama
  20. Mikey Garcia 

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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Monday, September 15, 2014

Opinions and Observations: Mayweather-Maidana II

In politics, the power of incumbency provides significant advantages for the current officeholder or ruling party. In the U.S., congressmen get free franking (mailing) privileges for official business. They have access to sensitive information and special interest groups that outsiders do not. Fundraisers backed by powerful lobbies and well-heeled donors ensure that elected officials amass significant war chests for future campaigns, often before challengers even emerge. Officeholders can generate free media publicity throughout their terms, appearing at public events and on television, hosting town halls, and releasing official statements – all of which better connect them with their constituents. Gerrymandering (the drawing of legislative districts) helps make it easier for members of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislators to win election after election. Incumbents can limit the number of official debates with political foes, reducing opportunities for an opponent to gain exposure. It's not that challengers never win, but the political system is rigged against them.  

Now boxing isn't merely politics. A fighter must beat the other in the ring. All the power, influence and special interests lined up behind a big star cease to matter if the boxer is knocked out into another galaxy.
But political factors certainly can help a fighter in a match. Where will the fight take place, home or on the road? How big is the ring? Who are the officials? All of these deal points can help or hinder a fighter – the more power that a boxer commands in the sport, the more that these factors are negotiated by his management to create an advantage. And for Floyd Mayweather, boxing's number-one star, these negotiations can lead to significant advantages. By generating the most money in the sport, Floyd is always in the position to dictate terms to his opponents.
Backed by the strongest management in the business and a television network owned by an enormous media conglomerate, Mayweather has a power of incumbency in boxing that is unrivaled. His influence in his home jurisdiction of Nevada has delayed prison sentences and curried favor with the state athletic commission. Turn in a bad card against him and a boxing judge will lose her job (which never happens in the sport). He'll pick the gloves, the size of the ring, an opponent's financial split and how and when fights will officially be promoted. Team Mayweather will lobby successfully for the assignment/removal of specific referees and judges for his bouts.
The money and power behind Mayweather directly help him win fights. Somehow his team convinced the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) to ban Marcos Maidana's custom-made Everlast MX gloves (which favors power punchers) before their first fight in May. For the rematch, Maidana again had to wear Everlast Powerlock gloves (a more neutral model). And the ring looked enormous on Saturday. Although I didn't see an official measurement, from TV it seemed to be larger than the 20-ft. standard, which helps a boxer like Mayweather, who relies on movement.
Perhaps Team Mayweather's most successful lobbying effort for the rematch was the NSAC's assignment of Kenny Bayless as the referee. In the first Mayweather-Maidana fight, the referee was Tony Weeks, who is known for being laissez-faire. He'll let fighters work on the inside and isn't necessarily keen on deducting points. His style of officiating helped Maidana, who was successful in the trenches at many point of the fight. Using a mauling style and a free hand to hit Mayweather with right hands and left hooks, he gave Floyd a very tough – and rough – fight.
Team Mayweather voiced its displeasure with Weeks' performance in the bout, castigating the ref for permitting an MMA-like atmosphere within the ring. Mayweather's side constantly worked the media about Maidana's roughhouse tactics. Even though Team Mayweather had won the fight, these public exclamations were designed to affect future proceedings; and they certainly did.
In Saturday's rematch, Kenny Bayless broke up the action at the first sign of a clinch, often when one of the fighters – almost always Maidana – had a free hand and could still do work. Bayless' actions helped to change the tenor of the rematch significantly. With fewer opportunities on the inside, Maidana had to spend more time at range, where he is far less effective. In addition, Bayless took an unnecessary point away from Maidana for low blows.
Yes, the deck was certainly stacked against Maidana for the rematch, with Team Mayweather winning the Fight Before the Fight. But both boxers still needed to perform in the ring and Maidana just didn't do enough to win. His punch volume was significantly lower than it was in the first match and he lacked his customary ferocity. With the action mostly in the center of the ring, Floyd landed the better shots, used his defense and legs to avoid prolonged skirmishes and was very sharp with power counters. It was the typical late-period Mayweather performance.
In essence, Floyd fought on Saturday the way that he should have done in May: avoiding the ropes and inside exchanges, tying up whenever possible and using the ring to his advantage. Without a target directly in front of him, Maidana often looked feckless. However, when Mayweather stood in front of Maidana for brief periods on the ropes, he got hit hard. Mayweather used his athleticism against Maidana because he had to; he needed to minimize a war at all costs. At the end of the match, Mayweather won a unanimous decision with scores of 116-111 (x2) and 115-112 (I had it for Mayweather 118-109).
It was a pedestrian fight, with the lone exception being an incident in the eighth round where Maidana appeared to bite Mayweather's left hand during a clinch. Interestingly, Bayless deducted no points for this foul, or for Mayweather using his forearm to hold down Maidana's head during the clinch.  

Ultimately, the night was unsatisfying. With a terrible undercard that featured cynical matchmaking, unworthy challengers, little action and an egregious scorecard that smacked of incompetence or corruption (more on that later), boxing did not shine on Saturday. The pay per view card was another reminder to boxing fans of how their fandom can often resemble masochism. There was "Mayhem" on Saturday, but only in an internal sense, with boxing fans beating themselves up about why they paid $75 for such mediocre entertainment. The one saving grace of the evening was the gallows humor found on social media, but that can only stave off fans' self-flagellation for so long.
On a final note, judge Robert Hoyle's 119-109 scorecard in favor of Mickey Bey over Miguel Vazquez in one of the undercard fights was the single-worst scorecard that I have seen since Dr. James Jen-Kin's 120-106 tally for Abner Mares against Anselmo Moreno in 2012. Vazquez-Bey was a lightweight title fight. Bey, who fights out of the Mayweather gym in Las Vegas and was an undeserving challenger, did very little in the first nine rounds of the fight. Bewildered by Vazquez's herky-jerky rhythms and movement, Bey landed hardly anything of substance throughout most of the fight. Yes, the match was awful to watch but it was thoroughly impossible to give Bey 11 rounds of the bout legitimately. I scored it 116-112 for Vazquez and most observers had Vazquez winning a close fight.  

Hoyle, who is from Las Vegas, has a significant bias in favor of Las Vegas-based fighters. His 116-111 scorecard in favor of hometown challenger Diego Magdaleno against Roman Martinez was egregious (Martinez won the decision) and his 117-111 card for Jessie Vargas (another Vegas-based boxer) over Khabib Allakhverdiev was far too generous to the local fighter.
Hoyle's performance on Saturday was worse than C.J. Ross' draw card for Mayweather-Alvarez (Ross was the aforementioned judge who lost her job after turning in a terrible score for a Mayweather fight). However, Vazquez doesn't have Mayweather's political juice behind him. Senators and state officials won't be calling the NSAC demanding action. In all likelihood, Hoyle will face no repercussions for his malfeasance. If there were any equity in boxing, Hoyle would never work again. But this is no time for fantasy. In truth, wagons will be circled. Political in-fighters will continue to in-fight. The train will keep on a-rollin'. It makes me want to scream. 

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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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mayweather-Maidana II: Keys to the Fight

Saturday brings the rematch between pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather (46-0, 26 KOs) and hard-charging challenger Marcos Maidana (35-4, 31 KOs). In their first fight in May, Maidana had significant success early on by pushing Mayweather against the ropes and landing his overhand right in close quarters. By the second half of the bout, Mayweather kept the action in the center of the ring and consistently landed the better punches. Mayweather wound up winning the match by a majority decision, and he deserved the nod. However, boxing fans were unaccustomed to seeing Mayweather take the type of punishment that he did against Maidana. 

For the rematch, Maidana has emphasized better conditioning and a lighter fight-night weight. Maidana and his trainer Robert Garcia believe that these changes will give their team a better chance to win a decision. On the Mayweather side, Floyd's trainer and father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., has suggested that they also will use different tactics in the rematch but Floyd Senior has been coy about specifics. (I would imagine that a major change would involve staying off of the ropes). 

Will Maidana's improved conditioning be the final piece of the puzzle for him to earn a victory over the sport's best or will Mayweather's intelligence, accuracy and adaptability be enough to keep him on top of the boxing world? Read below for the keys to the fight. My prediction will be at the end of the article. 

1. What can Maidana do in the center of the ring?

It's pretty clear that Mayweather will try to keep the fight in the center of the ring. In the second half of their fight in May, it was Mayweather who had more answers from distance. From range, Maidana was able to land some jabs but he couldn't consistently connect with power shots. 

For Maidana to have a prayer of winning a decision (he still has the crushing right hand that can knock anyone out at welterweight), he's going to have to figure out how to hit Mayweather at mid-range and from distance. His best approach will be to vary his attack – he’ll need to use his whole arsenal, including feints, jabs (to the head and body) lead right hands and the occasional left hook, to have some success. 

I'm sure that Maidana will still look to push Mayweather to the ropes and/or get him in close range whenever possible, but Mayweather will try to limit these opportunities. Without sustained effectiveness from the outside, it will be very tough for Maidana to win a decision. 

2. Does Floyd still have his legs?

At 37 and with 46 professional fights under his belt, can Floyd still maneuver himself around the ring to avoid trouble the way that he did earlier in his career? On paper, Maidana seemed like a fairly easy opponent for Mayweather. A straight-line fighter with a limited arsenal, Maidana was the type of foe that Floyd should have been able to defeat with his superior athleticism and ring generalship. However, that certainly wasn't the case early in their first fight. 

For Mayweather to win the rematch more comfortably than he did in May, he needs to reduce Maidana's punch volume and take away his best weapons – by that I mean anything from close range. Mayweather can best do that by staying away from the ropes and using the ring to his advantage. When Maidana has to track down an opponent, he can look ordinary. But with a willing fighter standing in front of him, Maidana morphs into a beast. I'm sure that Floyd and his camp know these things but can Mayweather still execute such an athletic game plan at his advanced ring age? If not, he is in for a dogfight, like their first match. 

3. Switching tactics.

Yes, Floyd got beat up pretty badly on the ropes during the first third of their fight in May. Part of that can be attributed to Maidana's fearlessness, unrelenting pressure and odd-angled power shots. However, I also believe that Floyd went to ropes on purpose. He thought that he could hurt Maidana coming in and that success in this area would dissuade the Argentine from mounting an aggressive attack later on in the fight; he wanted to beat Maidana at his own game. Obviously, that approach wasn't altogether successful. Mayweather ate a ton of flush shots in the first four rounds, something that he certainly looks to avoid. 

In the second half of the fight, Mayweather did a fine job of spinning out of trouble along the ropes, demonstrating that it wasn't just Maidana trapping him there. Floyd could get away from Maidana when he wanted to; his insistence on fighting toe-to-toe early enabled many of those successful moments from Maidana. So, let's credit Maidana for landing a lot of hard shots in the first fight, but let's also attribute some of that success to a rare case of poor tactics from Mayweather. 

For the rematch, Maidana has talked about pacing himself better throughout the fight. The punch stat numbers from their first match showed a noticeable drop-off in activity after the first six rounds. In assessing his performance from May, Maidana correctly realized that his conditioning was one area that he could certainly improve upon in the rematch. 

I expect that we will see far less grappling and fewer clinches along the ropes on Saturday. In theory, that should be beneficial to Mayweather. However, if Maidana can retain his firepower in the second half of the fight, then it's certainly possible that the complexion of the rematch will be significantly different from their first meeting. 

4. Body shots.

The one piece of coherent advice that I heard from Floyd Mayweather Sr. during the first fight was "Keep going underneath." And frankly, Mayweather's body shots were devastating and may have had as much to do with Maidana's drop in effectiveness in the later rounds than any potential conditioning issues. In the rematch, I expect to see Mayweather continue to go the body with jabs, right hands and left hooks. Maidana does have the heart of a true warrior, but not always the physique. Mayweather will keep going to the body, but will Maidana be able to take those shots better in the rematch?

Maidana is a vicious body puncher at close range. Maidana's left hook to the body was a real weapon early in their first fight. Although Mayweather took those punches pretty well, Maidana should keep going to the body on Saturday whenever he gets a chance. At 37, who knows when Mayweather's body might betray him and punishing him downstairs will be great way to find out.

5. Conditioning.

Part of what makes Mayweather so tough to beat is that he is always the better conditioned fighter. He almost always gets stronger as fights progress. He looks for signs of degradation in his opponents' conditioning and after spotting them he starts to unload more of his offensive arsenal, providing yet even more complications for his foes. 

For Maidana to win on the cards, he must maintain his work rate and pressure throughout 12 rounds. He can't conserve energy and fight in 45-second spurts, which he has often done against other opponents. But can Maidana successfully close the conditioning gap? Can he still be a factor late in the fight? Will he have enough left to win the championship rounds? He'll have to make a marked improvement in his conditioning from the first fight to beat Mayweather late in the match. 


There are a number of factors to consider for the rematch: 1. Floyd may have overlooked Maidana in their first fight and/or Maidana's pressure and determination surprised him. 2. Maidana has vastly improved under Robert Garcia. 3. Floyd was able to adapt fairly well to Maidana in the second half of the bout. 4. Mayweather most likely won't spend as much time at close range as he did in May. 5. Floyd is 37 and not getting any younger. 

My prediction will ultimately be splitting the difference of these countervailing trends. I think that Mayweather pulls the fight out with superior accuracy in the center of the ring and sharper punching. However, I'm not sure that he will be able to keep Maidana away from him for 12 rounds. Ultimately, Mayweather's tactical changes from the first fight, superior hand speed and punch placement will lead him to victory. 

Floyd Mayweather defeats Marcos Maidana 116-112, or 8 rounds to 4.

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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