Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Season of Spence

Even as far back as the Olympics, it was clear that Errol Spence Jr. possessed the poise, power punching and intelligence to succeed at the next level. Although he exited the 2012 Games without a medal, his showing during the tournament heralded a new U.S. talent, one who could become a major factor in the upper levels of professional boxing.

Turning pro at the end of 2012, Spence continued to build on his amateur success in his early fights; he destroyed virtually every foe that he encountered. Even his putative gatekeeper opponents, such as Chris Van Heerden, Chris Algieri and Leonard Bundu, weren't able to provide even token resistance. It was hard not to get excited about his potential. 

In a perfect world, Spence would've had more development fights prior to his first title shot. He hadn't encountered a decent puncher or an opponent with significant athletic gifts during his development. However, he was so dominant against the fighters he did face that one could understand why his team may have skipped a step in favor of landing a championship opportunity. Nevertheless, they were still taking a big risk heading to a title shot without Spence beating a proper slate of trial horses. 

Courtesy of Amanda Westcott/Showtime

Last May, Spence was thrown into the proverbial fire against welterweight titlist Kell Brook. Although he was facing a proud and talented champion in his hometown soccer stadium, Spence wasn't overawed by the moment. Spence started the fight methodically and purposefully. And while Brook's superior hand speed led to some early-round victories, Spence was executing his game plan, punishing the body and sacrificing punch volume to land significant power shots. Despite being down in the fight, Spence, and his steadfast trainer, Derrick James, didn't deviate from the plan.  

By the fight's second half, Spence's approach was bearing fruit. Whereas Brook got the best of many of the exchanges early in the fight, by the seventh and eighth rounds, Spence was landing with far greater frequency and with often punishing results; he was now battering Brook in the ring. He scored a knockdown in the 10th and withstood a final flurry by Brook in one of the more riveting rounds of the year. In the 11th, Brook had had enough. A broken orbital bone caused him to yield; Spence was now a world champion. 

In Sheffield that night, I left the arena with nothing but superlatives for Spence. Not only did he win a belt on foreign soil in a hostile atmosphere, but he beat a very good version of Brook, easily one of the top-two or three welterweights in the world. Furthermore, he needed to come from behind to achieve victory, a tall order for any fighter, let alone one with such paltry world-class experience. Spence never experienced a gut-check fight during his development, yet, when the time came he overcame his first battle with adversity with aplomb.  

After the fight, I talked with a number of English boxing enthusiasts at the hotel bar. Even though almost all proudly supported Brook, Spence had earned their respect. Spence made a lot of new fans that night, in Sheffield and in boxing outposts around the world.  

Fresh off the biggest moment of his career, it would have been natural for Spence to make a hometown defense in his next fight, a way to build on the momentum of his destruction of Brook. America is light on homegrown boxing stars and Spence is one of the few candidates in this country to become one. He's pleasing to watch in the ring, a good interview and packs boulders in both of his hands. Yet, for whatever reason, Spence would wind up sitting out the rest of 2017, which was certainly an opportunity squandered. 

On January 20th, Spence finally makes his return to the ring, against Lamont Peterson at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Peterson, a capable top-ten welterweight, certainly presents a credible first defense for Spence. Although Peterson can run a little hot-and-cold, when he's on, he's a difficult proposition for any fighter. 

Courtesy of Amanda Westcott/Showtime

Peterson won't enter the ring with capitulation on his mind. He's not inclined to be a passive participant in a Spence coronation. With the exception of a knockout loss to Lucas Matthysse, Peterson has given every opponent a tough go of it. Similar to Spence, Peterson hasn't enjoyed his lengthy periods out of the ring. And he's never been a favored fighter in the PBC universe. He fights with a chip on his shoulder and a realization that the present is his time to make his bones in the ring. 

Spence stands on the precipice of creating a truly memorable 2018. Should he get past Peterson, potential opponents such as unified titlist Keith Thurman, or past champions such as Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, could provide additional opportunities for great fights. If Spence continues to win against top opponents such as these, he could emerge as a bona fide attraction in boxing. 

Looking down the road even a little farther, Terence Crawford, the former undisputed junior welterweight champion, and one of the top-two fighters on most pound-for-pound lists, will be moving up to welterweight in 2018. Should Crawford obtain a belt at 147 (Jeff Horn, come on down!), a potential superfight could emerge between Spence and Crawford in early 2019. Now, it's certainly true that Spence's manager, Al Haymon, and Crawford's promoter, Bob Arum, don't always play well together, but there'd be a boatload of money for that fight and neither side is opposed to greenbacks. 

A lot of this is speculative. Spence has never faced someone with the athletic gifts of Thurman. He hasn't had to deal with the type of constant pressure that Porter applies or a fighter with Crawford's versatility. Spence will be challenged every step of the way should he endeavor to face the best at 147. 

In short, it's an exciting time to be a fan or an observer of Spence. And although Spence has the potential to lose to Peterson, Thurman or Porter, very few fighters have the package of physical attributes in the ring and the types of intangibles like poise, a high ring IQ and self-confidence that could lead to a sustained run of success in the top levels of boxing. 

Refreshingly, Spence doesn't seem to be plagued by self-satisfaction. Unlike many modern fighters, Spence doesn't appear to be happy with low six-figure purses or periods of inactivity. He wants challenges and the glory that comes with being the best. Sadly, far too many of Spence's boxing brethren lack his sense of urgency.

Spence-Peterson should present boxing fans with a memorable battle, featuring devastating inside combat, skills, athleticism and lots of power punches. Spence will soon learn that at this level of boxing, every fight can be a threat. Should Spence make it through January's fight with a victory, he could be on a rapid road to true superstardom. But the winds are strong at high altitude and Spence wouldn't be the first fighter to be negatively affected by rarefied air. However, he has a good support team around him and the urge to really make something of himself. 2018 will be Spence's proving ground. And if he ends the year beating multiple threats in the welterweight division, the boxing world could be his oyster. Stay tuned.  

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

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Pound-for-Pound Update 12-23-17

The biggest change in the Saturday Night Boxing Pound-for-Pound List is the continued rise of Vasyl Lomachenko. Earlier this month, Lomachenko dominated undefeated junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, forcing him to retire on his stool after the sixth round. With the win, Lomachenko moves up from #7 to #2 in the Rankings while Rigondeaux drops from #12 to #14. 

One other note in the Rankings: there's been speculation that Kazuto Ioka (currently ranked #20) will be retiring. As of now, no official announcement has been made. For the time being, he will remain in the Rankings until there is further clarification regarding his career. 

The complete Saturday Night Boxing Pound-for-Pound List follows:
1.    Terence Crawford
2.    Vasyl Lomachenko
3.    Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
4.    Gennady Golovkin
5.    Saul Alvarez
6.    Sergey Kovalev
7.    Naoya Inoue
8.    Mikey Garcia
9.    Juan Estrada
10.  Keith Thurman
11.  Manny Pacquiao
12.  Adonis Stevenson
13.  Roman Gonzalez
14.  Guillermo Rigondeaux
15.  Donnie Nietes
16.  Leo Santa Cruz
17.  Errol Spence
18.  Carl Frampton
19.  Oleksandr Usyk
20.  Kazuto Ioka

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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Opinions and Observations: Loma, Roman and Truax

Pride can be a double-edged sword in boxing. On the positive side of the ledger, pride enables a fighter to dig down, overcome adversity, make a last stand and go for the victory even in a diminished capacity. Many prizefighters possess this attribute and mixed with enough skill and the right opponents, pride can lead to thrilling performances. 

Miguel Roman, in HBO's main event, exhibited this characteristic in his knockout win over Orlando Salido, perhaps the living embodiment of positive pride in boxing. Roman, a fighter who had lost the biggest bouts of his career prior to this weekend, had to endure the hell of Salido's infighting throughout the match. Absorbing vicious power shots, hurt early in the fight and trying to handle Salido's grappling and fouls, Roman persevered to pull out a victory despite periods where his chances of winning looked grim. 

Of course, pride can also have negative connotations. There's a reason it was one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Excessive pride can lead to one's downfall. It can make one underestimate opponents or fail to consider potential negative outcomes. There's also a concept of pride where one is "too good" to participate in a specific task – that a certain requirement is beneath an individual. In this scenario, too much pride can lead to one refusing to get his or her hands dirty, not willing to do what needs to get done. 

It's this second aspect of pride that led to Guillermo Rigondeaux quitting on his stool before the seventh round against Vasyl Lomachenko. Claiming an injured hand, Rigondeaux, down big on the scorecards, wasn't willing to risk any more against Lomachenko. It's not as if hand problems aren't common occurrences in boxing. Practically every weekend a fighter continues with some sort of injury. In the HBO undercard on Saturday, Stephen Smith was still trying to win with half a left ear. To Rigondeaux, he wasn't going to change his style or, gasp, subject himself to a ring war, no matter if that was necessary for victory.  

In my years of covering boxing and talking to fighters I've discovered one thing that boxers hate more than losing – being embarrassed in the ring. Many will foul, attempt to get DQ'ed, stay on their stool, claim an injury – anything to avoid being the butt of jokes in the squared circle. Loma was toying with Rigo in the ring, spinning around him without a care and the world, meeting and ultimately exceeding Rigo's propensity to foul, bending when and where he bent, tagging him with whatever shot he saw fit. There would be no selling out for a comeback victory from Rigo, no going out on his shield. For Rigo, the pain of embarrassment was far greater than whatever was going on with his left hand. He'd rather pack it in after six rounds than subject himself to further mortification. His pride wouldn't allow more. 

As boxing fans, we expect fighters to leave it all in the ring. Sublime efforts lead to greater rewards. Rigondeaux has spent a significant portion of his professional career complaining about poor treatment from the boxing industry and a dearth of opportunities. He regarded much of his professional career as a series of outrages. A fighter of his stature shouldn't have to beg and claw for the spoils of glory; he was Guillermo Rigondeaux, one of the best fighters on the planet! But presented with an opportunity to exhibit greatness on Saturday, Rigo demonstrated that he was unwilling to plum specific depths for victory. When finally in a tough fight, the purported master boxer wouldn't scrape his way back like a member of the boxing riff-raff; he capitulated. 

Three years ago, Lomachenko learned a valuable lesson about the dangers of having excessive pride. In only his second professional fight, he insisted on fighting for a title. The champion standing in his way was the aforementioned Orlando Salido. Lomachenko believed that he had almost all the advantages – hand and foot speed, punch placement, a deeper offensive arsenal and sharper defensive reflexes. Of course Salido had more professional experience but Lomachenko wasn't impressed by Salido's career accomplishments; he was on a path to making history! As a two-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the best amateur fighters of all time, he felt that he was more than ready to become a champion, even at such an early point in his professional career. How could a slow, lumbering gatekeeper beat him? 

Pride played a significant role in Salido-Lomachenko. Lomachenko severely underestimated his opponent. On the flip side, Salido wasn't about to be embarrassed in the ring, even if it meant giving up his title belt by coming in over the weight limit. Salido entered the ring with a considerable size advantage and proceeded to teach Lomachenko a lesson in professional boxing. Firing low blow after low blow, digging mercilessly to the body and grappling on the inside, Salido showed the professional novice tricks that he had never before seen. Eventually, Lomachenko made adjustments to counteract Salido's inside fighting but his early deficit on the scorecards was too much to overcome; he wound up losing a split decision. 

There was a stark difference between the Lomachenko on Saturday, now a veteran in professional prizefighting, and the greenhorn version against Salido. Lomachenko expected the unexpected against Rigondeaux and clearly understood the stakes at play. If Rigo hit after the bell, Loma followed. Loma also was seasoned enough to call the referee's attention to fouls. When Rigo went low or engaged in an illegal holding maneuver, Loma indicated these infractions clearly to the ref. By the sixth round, Rigo lost a point for holding. 

After a competitive opening round, Lomachenko-Rigondeaux was never in doubt. Lomachenko's athleticism, agility and incredible body control enabled him to follow Rigondeaux's every defensive maneuver. If Rigondeaux ducked a punch and bent to his left, Lomachenko had the athletic ability to follow Rigondeaux immediately to that position and continue with his offense. He essentially acted as Rigo's shadow. He was prepared for every move that Rigondeaux made. 

During the post-fight interview, Lomachenko shrugged off the significance of the win. He didn't feel that Rigondeaux had the size to be competing on his level. 

Lomachenko is ready for all challenges in boxing. With a rising profile and a huge platform to demonstrate his singular talents, he could be on the cusp of true boxing superstardom. On Saturday he embarrassed a proud, undefeated (if undersized) champion, forcing him to quit. He ends the year as one of the best fighters in the sport and it's going to take a truly special talent or a risk of such epic proportions for him to lose in the foreseeable future.  


Jim Lampley, at the height of his powers on Saturday, provided a wonderful and apt story about Miguel Roman during his fight with Orlando Salido. As a teenager, Roman's brother was murdered and instead of trying to exact revenge on the killer, Roman waited, believing that eventually the murderer would get his just due; a few years later the perpetrator was killed in prison. This story wasn't used to fill time or sensitize the viewer to a personal tragedy; Lampley used it as an analogous backdrop to what was occurring in the ring. As Roman was making a charge in the fight, Lampley exhorted these words, noting that in the past Roman was patient and eventually justice was served. Now, after 70 fights and 12 years as a professional, Roman, after patiently waiting for the right opportunity, was receiving his just rewards. It was a beautiful moment from Lampley, who remains unsurpassed in his ability to inject poignancy into a boxing match. 

More great Lampley: When reflecting upon Salido's memorable career, he provided another keen insight. I'm paraphrasing here but he said what was so remarkable about Salido was that it didn't matter if he'd won or lost his big fights. Francisco Vargas, Roman Martinez, Juan Manuel Lopez. Which ones did Salido win? Which ones did he lose? Which ones were draws? 

Ultimately, it doesn't matter because Salido provided so much entertainment, such thrilling action. Lampley's observation was 100% correct and I struggle to think of another current boxer who receives the same treatment from the boxing industry. Despite 14 losses, Salido attained a unique status in the sport. After the fight, he announced his retirement and he leaves boxing as a main event HBO fighter and this generation's Arturo Gatti. 

At 32, Roman may have another two or three years left to pick up the action fighter mantle from Salido; however, like Salido, Roman has been in a ton of wars. Roman has 12 losses but he also has 45 knockouts in his 58 wins. He's actually fought in America 14 times but didn't really break through until earlier this year, when he gave former junior lightweight titleholder Takashi Miura hell before being stopped. Roman has helped to make two of the best fights of 2017 and if matched correctly he could provide a lot of entertainment over the next few years.

As Salido-Roman ended last night, Lampley speculated that Salido might not be as disappointed in the knockout loss as one would expect since he recognized so much of himself in Roman. There could be a lot of truth there. Similar to Salido, nothing was given to Roman. He had to fight in all sorts of shabby venues, often for short money and without the benefit of full training camps. Roman wasn't supposed to be the opponent last night. But as his countrymen Salido so often did, he showed up in shape and ready to give hell. Saturday's fight wasn't for a title or any other type of trinket but for Roman it was perhaps even more important; it was his chance to matter in boxing. With his two fantastic performances this year, Roman now has a calling card in the sport. And he's just a phone call away. 


Caleb Truax was supposed to be James DeGale's get-well opponent. Coming off of shoulder surgery and 11 months of inactivity after his brutal slugfest with Badou Jack, DeGale intended to make a title defense against someone non-threatening. Truax, somehow ranked in the Top-15 of the IBF (Thanks Al Haymon), was drafted for this duty. When last in a meaningful fight, Truax was iced in one round by Anthony Dirrell. In the 18 months since that bout, he had only fought two lower-level opponents. 

Without being blessed with top-shelf athleticism or the size to trouble upper-echelon fighters, Truax relies on intelligence and an acute understanding of his strengths and weaknesses. He didn't have a single physical advantage over DeGale on paper. But a high Ring IQ, a fantastic game plan, self-belief and a little luck helped to tear that paper to shreds; he won a deserved majority decision in surely what will be the upset of the year for 2017. 

DeGale is one of the more maddening fighters in boxing. In a given round, he can dazzle with his physical and technical dimensions. With lightning hand speed and creative angles, he can land six- and seven-punch combinations that absolutely demoralize opponents. He glides gracefully around the ring. He's just as competent as an orthodox fighter as he is in his natural southpaw stance. And he can pack a real punch. In these moments he can do it all. 

But there is another James DeGale – the one who lets opponents back into fights, the guy who inexplicably takes rounds off, the one who likes to make things hard for himself. Give DeGale enough time and his punch volume will decrease, he'll stop moving and he'll demonstrate indifference in the ring. 

DeGale has had nip-and-tuck fights with Badou Jack, Porky Medina, Andre Dirrell, George Groves and now Caleb Truax. Note the variety of talent levels in that list. What remains consistent is that DeGale seems incapable of putting 12 good rounds together against a fighter who can handle himself in the ring. 

Furthermore, DeGale clearly wasn't physically right in Saturday's fight. By the third round, he was retreating to the ropes. He labored whenever he had to fight in the center of the ring, despite dominating the match in that geography. In addition, his defensive reflexes looked poor. 

DeGale had shoulder surgery, oral surgery and a perforated ear drum as a result of his fight against Jack. After Saturday's bout, he admitted that he may have rushed back into the ring. He also insisted that he will be making changes in his camp. Perhaps some time off is in order. 

None of the above is meant to disparage Truax, who went into a hostile environment and laughed at the oddsmakers. Truax consistently forced DeGale back to the ropes and banged whatever he could hit. He hurt DeGale with straight right hands and short uppercuts in the 5th and 10th rounds and got the best of the action for large portions of the fight. 

Off nights happen in boxing. Fighters may not be at their physical peak, or perhaps there has been some slippage or deterioration in their skills. However, it's not enough just to say that DeGale was less than his best. An opponent must capitalize on such an opportunity. Truax was ready for his chance. He understood exactly what he had to do to win and executed his plan to the best of his abilities. 

On a personal note, I've interacted with Truax a number of times over social media throughout the years. I've found him to be grounded, funny and articulate. As a relative latecomer to professional boxing, he often talked about becoming a fighter to pay off his student debt. In his deepest recesses, I wonder if he ever thought that he would one day become a world champion. 

Life takes interesting twists and turns and it's up to us to make the most of them. Only because Truax wasn't seen as threatening does he now have a title belt. Let that be a lesson to all of us. Like Roman, Salido, or Truax, when the phone rings, be ready. 

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

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Lomachenko-Rigondeaux: Keys to the Fight

One of the most intriguing bouts of 2017 takes place on Saturday at the Theater at Madison Square Garden between two-weight champion (126, 130) Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) and junior featherweight (122) titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs, 1 No-Contest). The fight, contested at the junior lightweight limit of 130 lbs., features the first professional boxing match between two-time Olympic gold medalists. After more than a year of back-and-forth between the two southpaws (and their respective representatives), the fight has finally come to fruition. 

For fans of boxing skill and foot work, Lomachenko-Rigondeaux contains multitudes. Lomachenko has some of the fastest feet in the sport. His supreme athleticism is matched by an irrepressible attack, pinpoint punch placement and creative combinations. Rigondeaux is surgical with his straight left hand and can detonate it on an unsuspecting foe at any juncture. Unlike Lomachenko, Rigondeaux's particular brand of genius is defensive. Using his feet to evade trouble and his limbs as shields, Rigondeaux makes it exceedingly difficult to land cleanly on him. 

Although this matchup might not necessarily produce consistent fireworks in the ring, the fight should be a fascinating duel between two of the best pure boxers in the sport. It's amateur powerhouses Cuba (Rigondeaux) vs. Ukraine (Lomachenko), with the winning fighter ascending to the higher echelons of the sport. Below are the keys to the fight. My prediction is at the end of the article. 

1. Punch Volume.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of success on Saturday night will be the number of punches thrown per round. Lomachenko swarms foes with a relentless attack while Rigondeaux neutralizes his opponents' offense. If Lomachenko throws 60 punches per round, there's a good chance that he will be winning the fight. However, if his punch volume is closer to 35 per frame, then it's quite possible that Rigondeaux will have been more successful in the all-important ring generalship battle. Lomachenko-Rigondeaux features perhaps the clearest demarcation between offensive and defensive-minded fighters that we'll see in 2017. In the trenches, the boxer who can impose his preferred style in the ring will most likely be the one who ends the night victorious. 

2. Rigo's straight left hand. 

One way to render punch volume moot is to knock the other guy out. Rigo's straight left is one of the best punches in the sport. It's fair to say that Lomachenko has yet to face this kind of weapon as a professional. Rigo's left breaks jaws, sends opponents to the canvas and dissuades foes from coming forward. If Rigondeaux can land his best punch – and it significantly affects Lomachenko – then he may have found a clear formula for winning the fight. 

Lomachenko can neutralize Rigo's left in two ways: By swarming Rigondeaux, he can close the distance that the Cuban needs to throw the punch. In addition, Lomachenko's superior movement can restrict Rigo from throwing and landing his left. Expect to see Lomachenko circling a lot to his left, which will limit opportunities for Rigo to unfurl his best punch. In this scenario, it will be up to Rigondeaux to make the necessary adjustments so that he can connect with his left. 

3. An old fighter? 

Rigondeaux is listed at 37 but whispers throughout the boxing community suggest that he might even be older. In addition, Rigondeaux has experienced several periods of inactivity throughout his professional career. During the last two years, he's only fought three rounds; in the same stretch, Lomachenko has had 28. Although Rigondeaux always seems to be in great condition, reflexes and agility certainly can atrophy as boxers get to advanced ages in the ring.

Often, fighters turn old overnight and it's certainly possible that Rigondeaux meets Father Time on Saturday. Even if Rigo starts the bout energetically, does he still have the agility to go 12 hard rounds against a top opponent? At 29, Lomachenko is in the prime of his career. By pushing Rigondeaux early in the fight, he can adequately test Rigondeaux's older legs. 

4. Weight.

A number of fight observers like to pooh-pooh the weight difference between the two fighters. Yes, a few years ago Lomachenko was at 126 lbs., which is much closer to Rigo's 122-lb. division. However, weight classes do matter and Lomachenko has demonstrated that he can physically impose himself on top-10 130-lb. fighters. Although there is a second-day weigh in for this fight at 138 lbs. (meaning, neither fighter can be above 138 the day of the match), it's still clear that there's a significant weight advantage for Lomachenko.

This difference could manifest itself in another manner. Let's say Rigondeaux is able to land his best left hand – the one that destroys guys at 122. If Lomachenko can shrug off the punch, it certainly could be possible that the weight disparity could lead to a big advantage for him during the match. In addition, Rigo will need to exert more energy to keep the naturally bigger Lomachenko off him; this could lead to fatigue as the fight progresses. 

5. Chins.

For such a reputed defensive master, Rigondeaux certainly isn't a stranger to the canvas. Down four times in his career and hurt on other occasions, Rigo can be vulnerable in the ring. He might not get hit a lot but when he does, trouble follows. Interestingly, Rigo has been knocked down from straight right hands and left hooks – two punches that Lomachenko, a southpaw, doesn't feature in his arsenal. Are Rigondeaux's chin issues the product of specific-angled shots from orthodox fighters or do they reflect poor punch resistance?

Rigondeaux will be the best puncher that Lomachenko has faced as a professional (with apologies to Gary Russell Jr.). Through this point in his career, we've yet to see Loma really hurt by a head shot. In the one fight that he lost, to Orlando Salido, it was Salido's body work that gave him the most trouble. It's certainly possible that Rigondeaux will test Lomachenko's chin, but it's also likely that Lomachenko may just have a superior beard. The truth could also be somewhere in the middle. 

6. Tricks of the trade. 

Salido famously landed dozens of low blows against Lomachenko. Those (illegal) punches certainly helped to rein in Loma's movement early in that fight. Yes, that bout was just Loma's second as a professional, and certainly he's developed a better understanding of professional boxing since the Salido fight, but it's worth remembering that he and his trainer/father were unable to adjust to Salido's tactics until the second half of the match. 

Rigo brings a motley assortment of illegal tactics and techniques into the ring. In his tool belt are holding-and-hitting, low blows, hitting on the break, hitting after the bell, rabbit punches, illegally using his forearms, and all sorts of other goodies. Rigondeaux's considerable speed and veteran instincts often mask these fouls; however, he will inevitably turn to them. Lomachenko fell victim to his own naivet̩ against Salido and he can't afford to make that mistake twice. He's going to need to respond appropriately Рmilking fouls for the ref's attention, fighting fire with fire, or using his body control to avoid many of these illegal maneuvers. Rigo is a proud veteran who will do what needs to be done to get the best chance of winning. Can we say the same about Lomachenko?


Don't expect a Fight of the Year. Lomachenko wins on account of a more consistent offensive attack and a higher punch volume. I don't think that there will be tons of clean, landed blows, but the gap in work rate between the two will be significant. I expect Rigo to have intermittent success landing single power shots, but it's unlikely that he will have periods of sustained dominance. The fight will be tense and intriguing as the two technicians attempt to gain the upper hand; however, the contest will feature more gamesmanship than compelling action. In the end, Lomachenko's offensive temperament and fresher legs will be more than enough to win a comfortable unanimous decision. 

Vasyl Lomachenko defeats Guillermo Rigondeaux by unanimous decision (UD). 

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

Punch 2 the Face Podcast

This week's Punch 2 the Face podcast features all sorts of goodness on the big fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux. Brandon Stubbs and I also discuss Miguel Cotto's retirement fight against Sadam Ali. In addition, HBO has a cracking card on Saturday headlined by Orlando Salido-Miguel Roman. Brandon and I cover all the angels.
Click on the links below to listen:
Blog Talk Radio link:
iTunes link:
Stitcher link:

You Tube link

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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

On Cotto and Allegiances

As Miguel Cotto prepares for his farewell fight on Saturday night against Sadam Ali, the boxing world has turned this week into one of tribute, full of hosannas, hagiography and extolment directed at one of the most successful fighters from Puerto Rico. HBO, which is airing Saturday's bout, took the unusual step of presenting a career retrospective. Many writers and fans have expressed their deeply felt sentiments regarding Cotto. Certainly, he has made quite an impact in the boxing ring. 

December 2, 2006, Miguel Cotto headlines at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Although he's facing a fellow Puerto Rican in Carlos Quintana, Cotto is the star of the night. The fans are there for him. Cotto, attempting to win his second world title belt, has already become a huge attraction. Quintana, a tricky spoiler, just upset undefeated prospect Joel Julio. Fighting for the first time at welterweight, Cotto looks huge in the ring. Quintana lands a few crafty shots in the first two rounds as Cotto gradually closes the distance. By the fifth round, Cotto stalks Quintana menacingly, peppering his foe with vicious power shots. With a little under a minute left, Cotto unleashes a ferocious left hook to the body that sends Quintana to the canvas. Quintana beats the count but Cotto's follow up assault forces him back down. Quintana survives the round but can't endure any longer. He retires on his stool. Cotto beat the fight completely out of him. 

That was my first live boxing card, a double bill that also featured Antonio Margarito (Cotto's future nemesis) against Joshua Clottey. Given floor seats as a birthday present, I watched the fights with awe. After witnessing Cotto's act of destruction in front of his raucous, rapt fans, I was completely hooked on the sport. If I had become an increasingly passionate fan prior to that night, afterward, there would be no denying that boxing had me in its clutches. 

Courtesy of HBO/Ed Mullholland

As my love of boxing continued to deepen, for whatever reason my allegiance to Cotto did not. I had no animosity toward him at that point in his career; he just didn't resonate with me as much as others did. Boxing's a strange sport. Fans develop affection for specific fighters. Sometimes these allegiances fall along geographic or ethnic lines. Other times, the root cause of such affinity can be harder to pinpoint. I found myself falling for unlovable fighters like Bernard Hopkins, crude bangers, such as Carl Froch and even hated runners like Miguel Vazquez. Keith Thurman and Marco Huck struck my fancy – I’m not always sure why. Cotto was never one of "my guys," but that's certainly OK. He played that role for millions of boxing fans, in his native island and for others around the world. 

Prior to his first fight with Margarito, Cotto was a come-forward attacker who made for great television. His left hook was one of the more menacing punches in the sport. What he lacked in foot speed he made up for with his ability to cut off the ring and a high ring IQ. If his opponents weren't fully up to snuff at 140, within a short time at welterweight, he was facing the likes of Zab Judah and Shane Mosley. Top Rank had sent him out to the deep water.   

During Cotto's rise in the sport, an interesting dichotomy emerged between his explosiveness in the ring and his pensive demeanor everywhere else. Unlike many a modern athlete, Cotto didn't partake in grandiloquence or outlandishness. He was taciturn around the media. He projected humility. He was much more of a blue-collar type of fighter and he was content to let his actions in the ring be his best spokesperson. 

As Cotto reached the top levels of boxing, he experienced defeat and uncertainty. The relationship with Evangelista Cotto, his uncle and trainer, devolved into conflict and acrimony. He went through a number of coaches; sometimes he seemingly trained himself. Meanwhile, the losses started to come more frequently. He had four defeats in just over four years – to Margarito, Pacquiao, Mayweather and Trout. He had left Top Rank, which had done a fine job in building his career and turning him into a star. No longer under the watchful eyes of matchmakers Brad Goodman and Bruce Trampler, Cotto took an ill-advised bout with Austin Trout and looked like an ordinary fighter. It's one thing getting beaten to a pulp by a prime Manny Pacquiao; it's another proposition when dominated by a tricky, rangy southpaw like Trout, who had little cache in the sport and no fan base to speak of. 

In the back part of Cotto's career, he asserted his starpower and overall status in the sport to his advantage. Having given in to weight demands from Pacquiao that he felt negatively impacted his performance in that fight, Cotto insisted on a catchweight against middleweight champ Sergio Martinez. He briefly reunited with Top Rank before leaving for RocNation, where he was promised huge purses and opportunities for a potential music career. Both fights this year have been against lesser foes, but Cotto now views himself as an institution; networks should be lucky to have him. From his perspective, his fight against Sadam Ali is his De la Hoya-Forbes or Mayweather-Berto. He's allowed to have lesser fights because in his mind he's earned it. Cotto will leave the sport more as a businessman than a top fighter, but this transition was often forced upon him by outside influences. When the chips were down in his career, he found that he could only rely on himself for protection. 

The nastiness of the boxing industry changed Cotto. Although he was a star for Top Rank, he was never their number-one guy. He had to get down to 144 to face Pacquiao, Top Rank's cash cow, even though he hadn't weighed that little in years. When it came time to negotiate that fight, he quickly realized where the bread was buttered. After Antonio Margarito was suspended for having a hardened-like substance in his wraps prior to fighting Shane Mosely, Cotto didn't respond well to Top Rank's support for Margarito. To him, his first loss may very well have been attributed to illegal practices by Team Margarito. Why was Top Rank going to battle for a cheater? In later years, Cotto learned how he wasn't afforded the same guidance under Golden Boy that he had received earlier in his career. 

However, despite the turbulence of the boxing business, he triumphed on many occasions. He avenged an amateur loss to Muhammad Abdullaev in a spirited contest. Beating back a stiff challenge from Zab Judah, Cotto's malice and vicious body punches led to a victory over a superior athlete. He found a way to outbox Shane Mosley in the championship rounds to prevail in a fantastic fight. Eventually, he got revenge on Margarito. He ended Sergio Martinez's career to become the lineal middleweight champ.   

As Cotto leaves the sport, he'll have made his mark by winning titles in four weight classes, amassing legions of fans and earning millions. He'll be remembered as one of the true stars of boxing during first 20 years of the 21st century.  

In my final analysis, he was a very good fighter – just short of great. Against anyone a step down from the elites, he could be punishing and dominant. As his career continued through its various high points and setbacks, the humble kid grew up to become a much different adult. He could be sullen, prickly, distant, easily offended and hard to negotiate with. Nevertheless, his fans stuck with him until the very end. Cotto had enough of a following to receive not one, but two gimme fights from HBO to conclude his career. If he wasn't always my cup of tea, I recognize that I hold a minority viewpoint, and I'll always be grateful to him for that night in Atlantic City. He was a memorable fighter and if he landed his left hook just right, "no mas" would follow in short order. 

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

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Showdown in the Light Heavyweight Division

Every now and then, a boxing division brims with a collection of impressive talents, featuring not just one or two potentially great fighters, but handfuls of hopefuls. This rare phenomenon is currently occurring in the 115-lb. division, where the likes of Inoue, Gonzalez, Srisaket, Estrada, Cuadras, Yafai, Ancajas and others are starting to battle for supremacy. 2018 promises to have a number of exciting fights within this grouping and boxing fans, and the industry as a whole, have started to take notice of a division usually reserved for deep undercard placements and off-TV fights in foreign lands. Suddenly, and almost without precedent, the boxing scene is looking forward with rapt attention to this assemblage of 115-lb. talents. 

Yes, the secret's out with the super flyweights, but perhaps by this time next year, the boxing world will feel similarly about another beleaguered weight class: the light heavyweight division. Unlike the super flyweights, the best at 175 lbs. have never had a problem gaining wide exposure in the sport, but there has been a generational issue with the lack of depth in the division. In the 20 years since Roy Jones won his first light heavyweight title, there have seldom been more than two top-tier talents fighting in the division at the same time. A quick glance at some of the names over the past two decades yields some impressive talents: Jones, Michalczewski (if you are so inclined) Tarver, Hopkins, Dawson, Kovalev and Ward. However, there's little depth behind that. I might like Montell Griffin or Glen Johnson as much as the next guy, but no one has ever confused either one with a great fighter. 

With Andre Ward's retirement earlier this year, the light heavyweight division (as well as his three title belts) has been opened up to an impressive collection of contenders. In similar scenarios – like what is happening in the junior welterweight division as a result of Terence Crawford moving up to welterweight – often the belts will wind up being disseminated to significantly lesser talents. But in the light heavyweight division, there are a number of intriguing candidates who could emerge as the alpha dog. Perhaps more importantly, the process of finding out who will be the number one guy will be loads of fun. In addition, these light heavyweights aren't just cuties; almost all are certified bangers. Boxing fans should be in for quite a treat if these talents meet in the ring. 

Before we fully start to salivate over the potentialities in the division, now should be the time for the obligatory reminder about the politics of boxing, promotional turfs, network difficulties and uncooperative fighters that often can deprive the sport of the best matches in a given weight class. (Adonis Stevenson somehow encapsulates or has represented all of these issues, what a guy.) But for now, let's speculate; let's dream. Let's discuss who could possibly emerge as the best light heavyweight.

It's July of 2018 and the World Boxing Super Series has just completed its successful inaugural set of tournaments, crowning Oleksandr Usyk and Chris Eubank Jr. as the winners of the Muhammad Ali Trophy. A newsflash comes across the boxing wires: the light heavyweight division will be selected for the 2017-2018 tournament; boxing fans rejoice and immediately start to speculate on whom will enter. 

What follows below are the eight fighters whom I would want in that tournament. Yes, it's certainly possible that not all will enter, so I'll include a couple of alternates. 

The Top Four Seeds: 

1. Sergey Kovalev
2. Adonis Stevenson
3. Dmitry Bivol
4. Artur Beterbiev

The Next Four 

Badou Jack
Oleksandr Gvozdyk
Sullivan Barrera
Eleider Alvarez


Marcus Browne
Joe Smith Jr. 

Let me make a quick note on the seeding. It's clear from how the WBSS ranked the super middleweight division that current champions were seeded higher than non-title holders, regardless of potential or quality. Thus, Bivol and Beterbiev, who currently hold belts, will most likely be seeded in the top-four, irrespective of talent. 

As you can see, just the first round of this hypothetical tournament provides mouth-watering possibilities. Let's say the initial fights are as follows: Kovalev-Alvarez, Stevenson-Barrera, Bivol-Jack and Beterbiev-Gvozdyk (the top four seeds get to pick their opponents). Already, in just the opening matchups, we'll see fireworks a plenty. 

However, for the rest of this article, I'm not interested in predicting the outcomes of hypothetical matchups but I want to provide some additional depth on these fighters. A few in this group are household names to fight fans (Kovalev, Stevenson) while others are just starting to get known (Gvozdyk and Bivol). Below I'll list for each fighter some biographical information, descriptions of their style and strengths and weaknesses. 

Sergey Kovalev 
Record: 30-2-1 (26 KOs)
Age: 34
Country: Russia
Stance: Orthodox
Current Title: None
Next Fight: Nov. 25 against Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (for the vacant WBO title)
Style: A come-forward stalker with one of the best one-two's in the sport. 
Strengths: Straight right hand, jab.
Weaknesses: Mental temperament, out-of-the ring issues, conditioning.

Kovalev, a former unified champ in the division, lost his last two fights to Andre Ward; both featured their share of controversy. A clear majority of fight fans believed that Kovalev won their first fight. He earned a knockdown early in the match and controlled most of the bout's first half. The second fight was ruled a knockout for Ward despite Andre landing several low blows in the concluding salvo. With a more sympathetic ref, perhaps Kovalev gets time to recover in the ring and is allowed to keep fighting. Nevertheless, Kovalev was getting smacked around late in the fight and his conditioning was poor. 

Kovalev will have the opportunity to reclaim one of his former belts later this month against Shabranskyy, and he certainly should win that fight. Despite Kovalev's conditioning flaws and perhaps a lack of creativity, he is still one of the best knockout punchers in the sport and is capable of stopping anyone in the division. However, Kovalev hasn't lived a Spartan lifestyle out of the ring and he's in the middle of a trainer switch. If he's right, he's still a threat to anyone in the division and would probably be the favorite to win the tournament among this pool of fighters (keep in mind that bookies and gamblers often like known quantities). But can he recover from his losses? Will he acknowledge that he still has a lot to learn in the sport? Or will his arrogance and a desire to cut corners be his downfall?

Adonis Stevenson
Record: 29-1 (24 KOs)
Age: 40
Country: Canada by way of Haiti
Stance: Southpaw
Current Title: WBC, lineal king of the division
Next Fight: N/A
Style: An athletic, aggressive southpaw with one of the best left hands in boxing.  
Strengths: Straight left hand, left hook, jab, hand speed. 
Weaknesses: Chin, age, out-of-the-ring temperament.

Adonis Stevenson has been the WBC light heavyweight champion for over four years and has somehow found a way not to fight the two best talents in the division during that time frame, Kovalev and Ward. He's even avoided his mandatory challenger, Eleider Alvarez, for well over a year. Stevenson's victim list does include credible fighters like Andrzej Fonfara and Tony Bellew, but it's also composed of lesser talents like Dmitry Sukhotsky and Tommy Karpency. In truth, it would be a wild stretch to assume that Stevenson would enter a tournament like this one. He's already turned down significant offers and chances to prove his greatness. 

But let's say that Stevenson by some stroke of fancy decides to put it on the line. He's still a formidable fighter. His left hand can end anyone. In the ring, he appears to be a frontrunner. If one of the bangers from this group can survive the early rounds, Stevenson could be in real trouble. In addition, age has to catch up with Stevenson at some point. Very few fighters are major factors in their 40s. Can Stevenson put together three strong performances in a row at such an advanced age? 

Dmitry Bivol
Record: 12-0 (10 KOs)
Age: 26
Country: Russia by way Kyrgyzstan
Stance: Orthodox
Current Title: WBA
Next Fight: N/A
Style: Power puncher with excellent balance and punch technique.
Strengths: Multiple power punches, footwork, balance, punch placement. 
Weaknesses: Lack of professional rounds, weak competition.

A Russian amateur champion with an astounding record of 268-15 before turning pro, Bivol has recently emerged on the world level. He features ferocious punching power. His sterling boxing technique belies his 12 professional fights. With Bivol there's no wasted motion. Every punch has a purpose and he moves with a singular focus. He seemingly can knock people out without even landing his hardest shots. 

Despite Bivol's auspicious start in the pro ranks, there are still a number of unanswered questions regarding his ascension in light heavyweight division. What happens when someone can take his punch? Can he go 12 rounds? What is his defense like? As of now, much of this is speculation but Bivol certainly possesses the power and fundamentals to capture the imagination of the boxing public.

Artur Beterbiev
Record: 12-0 (12 KOs)
Age: 32
Country: Canada by way of Russia
Stance: Orthodox
Current Title: IBF
Next Fight: N/A
Style: A power puncher with a huge right hand. Not necessarily a top athlete but he is very good at applying pressure and cutting off the ring. 
Strengths: Punching power, right hand.
Weaknesses: Lack of professional rounds and experience, out-of-the-ring promotional problems.

Because of injuries and promotional issues, Beterbiev has only fought three times in the past 18 months. At 32, much of his prime has been wasted. Beterbiev turned in a listless performance against Enrico Koelling last Saturday. He threw very few combinations, didn't apply his customary pressure and displayed a curious lack of urgency. Although he won practically every round before stopping Koelling in the 12th, it was perhaps his worst outing as a professional. Beterbiev is embroiled in a lawsuit against his promoter, Yvon Michel. It's certainly possible that the out-of-the-ring drama played a role in his sub-optimal performance. There's also no sense of when he might fight next. We'll know more after his legal proceedings are complete. 

At his best, Beterbiev, a decorated amateur, obliterates opponents with his menacing right hand. However, like Bivol, he hasn't had the competition or experience with those at the top of the division. He's not the most athletic in this group and could struggle with boxers and movers. His punch will keep him in every fight but he doesn't seem to have the same fluidity of Bivol at this point in their respective careers. 

Badou Jack
Record: 22-1-2 (13 KOs)
Age: 34
Country: USA by way of Sweden
Stance: Orthodox
Current Title: None, although recently had a lesser WBA belt
Next Fight: N/A
Style: An aggressive banger who comes on later in fights. Jack applies tremendous pressure and wears down opponents in the second half.  
Strengths: Physicality, toughness, self-belief, inside fighting, body punching.
Weaknesses: Slow-starter, straight-line fighter, can be outworked early.

A little more than three years ago, Jack was an afterthought at the top levels of boxing. Having been iced be unheralded Derek Edwards in the first round, Jack was dismissed as a Mayweather Promotions hypejob. Well, Jack has proved his doubters wrong. He became a super middleweight champ and defeated George Groves in a notable fight. Earlier this year he fought to a spirited draw against fellow titleholder James DeGale. He subsequently moved up to light heavyweight and knocked out former champ Nathan Cleverly.

Jack appears to be at his ideal weight at light heavyweight. Although he's not the biggest puncher in this group, he certainly possesses the heavy artillery to threaten opponents. Jack's relentless dedication to body punching pays dividends as fights progress and few boxers are capable of mixing it up with him on the inside. Jack can be outworked on the outside and he can drop early rounds. Still, he's no one's idea of a picnic.

Oleksandr Gvozdyk
Record: 14-0 (12 KOs)
Age: 30
Country: Ukraine
Stance: Orthodox
Current Title: None
Next Fight: N/A
Style: An athletic boxer-puncher with great feet and rhythm in the ring. He's very tricky to time and throws unconventional combinations.  
Strengths: Athleticism, movement, punch variety, intelligence.
Weaknesses: Can be caught coming in and out. Takes a lot of risks in the ring. 

Gvozdyk announced himself on the world stage with impressive stoppages of Isaac Chilemba and Yunieski Gonzalez. A former Olympic medalist, Gvozdyk has a strong amateur pedigree and a unique pro-style. His legs make him very tricky to time and his ring generalship separates him from others in this pool of fighters. He can get a tad overconfident in the ring and he has learned to respect his opponents better. He moves so much in-and-out that he can leave himself vulnerable to long or sweeping shots. Still, his athleticism and unique ring style will present problems for the top fighters in the division. 

Sullivan Barrera
Record: 20-1 (14 KOs)
Age: 35
Country: USA by way of Cuba
Stance: Orthodox
Current Title: None
Next Fight: Nov. 25 against Felix Valera
Style: A boxer-puncher who is physical, crafty and also a little chinny. 
Strengths: Jab, right hand, physicality.
Weaknesses: Chin, defense during exchanges.

Barrera is an exciting fighter who has won a war against Shabranskyy (Kovalev's next opponent) and got off the canvas to defeat Joe Smith Jr. Last year he was overmatched against Andre Ward but against mere mortals, he has looked threatening. Barrera has good fundamentals. He features a nice double jab and a sneaky right hand. He can go to the body and he can display a good uppercut. Barrera likes to trade a little bit too much for his own good. Although he has the requisite toughness of a champion, his chin might not be at the same level. Expect him to engage in a few more shootouts against the better talent in the division. He could KO or get himself KO'ed against any top fighter. 

Eleider Alvarez
Record: 23-0 (11 KOs)
Age: 33
Country: Canada by way of Colombia
Stance: Orthodox
Current Title: None
Next Fight: N/A
Style: A boxer with tons of talent, athleticism and tools who can sleepwalk through portions of a fight.  
Strengths: Jab, left hook, combination punching, poise.
Weaknesses: Fights at one speed, can display a lack of urgency and focus. 

In any given round, Alvarez can look like an elite fighter. His jab can be a piston. He throws pinpoint combinations. His defense is sharp. He can hit opponents at will. However, keep watching. Suddenly, listlessness sets in. His punch volume drops. Guys he was comprehensively beating suddenly get off with their punches. He can be a maddening fighter. 

If you look at Alvarez's record, you'll already see two majority decisions that wound up going in his favor. Stuck in limbo as Adonis Stevenson's mandatory, Alvarez hasn't had many opportunities to face top fighters. There's a sense that he fights up or down to the level of his competition. If that's the case, then he can be a dark horse in this hypothetical tournament. But perhaps a more pressing problem for him is putting 12 consistent rounds together. 


Marcus Browne
Record: 20-0 (15 KOs)
Age: 27
Country: USA
Stance: Southpaw
Current Title: None
Next Fight: N/A
Style: An athletic, aggressive boxer-puncher who can be undisciplined in the ring, leaving himself open for counters 
Strengths: Straight left hand, hand speed, offensive temperament
Weaknesses: Defensive flaws, can be caught admiring his work, doesn't get out of the pocket fast enough. 

In Browne's most notable fight, he was lucky to score a victory against Radivoje Kalajdzic. In truth, he should've lost but sympathetic officials helped preserve his undefeated record. He rebounded nicely from that performance by knocking out Thomas Williams Jr. and Seanie Monaghan. Browne possesses the hand speed and power to trouble fighters in the upper echelon of the division. However, he also will give them opportunities. He tries to draw every fight into a shoot-out. He throws punches from wide angles and can be countered fairly easily. He also doesn't seem to have a high Ring IQ. When he needed a Plan B against Kalajdzic, one wasn't readily available. 

Joe Smith Jr.
Record: 23-2 (19 KOs)
Age: 28
Country: USA
Stance: Orthodox
Current Title: None
Next Fight: N/A
Style: A heavy-handed puncher who can be very basic in the ring.  
Strengths: Right hand, toughness, understands his strengths and weaknesses as a fighter.
Weaknesses: Athleticism, lack of creativity in the ring. 

Smith had memorable knockouts of Andrzej Fonfara and Bernard Hopkins in 2016. However, the party ended in 2017 against Sullivan Barrera. After knocking down Barrera in the first round, Smith struggled throughout the rest of the fight and wound up having his jaw broken. Smith possesses a strong right hand and he understands rudimentary boxing fundamentals. However, he's not a natural fighter. His hand speed is average and his offensive forays can be predictable. Still, his right hand is a real weapon. An opponent has to neutralize that punch to beat him. 


Ultimately, this light heavyweight tournament would bring excitement to the sport. Unlike the current WBSS contests, American TV networks most likely would jump to televise this pool of fighters. With the exception of Alvarez, all of the boxers mentioned have knockout ratios of over 50%. The tournament would promise ferocious power punching and memorable knockouts. In the real world, it's unlikely that all eight of the featured fighters would accept this invitation. But suppose all except Stevenson do? Even if only five or six of the top eight participate, that's still an exceptional tournament. 

It's possible that a full light heavyweight tournament fails to materialize. However, even if matches are kept in-house, that still could provide excitement. Imagine Kovalev-Bivol on HBO, Stevenson-Jack on Showtime or Beterbiev-Gvozdyk on ESPN. Those are all must-see fights. Essentially, even with minimal cooperation between networks and promoters, some great fights could happen with relative ease. 

But let's hope for the best. Here's wishing that the powers that be in boxing realize the depth and talent in the division. If everyone decided to play nice with each other, something truly special could happen. Yes, often we wear our skeptical hats as we follow the sport. It protects us from the cynicism and falsehoods which are all too common in boxing. But let's remove our caps for just a brief instance and imagine how exciting such a tournament could be. We're on the precipice of a golden age in the light heavyweight division. For today, let's luxuriate on those possibilities before the cold realities of the sport attempt to interfere.

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