June 20, 2016

KO's Ringside Notes & Quotes XV — The Fifteenth & Final Round

Dark future without a star to lead the way
By Jeffrey Freeman, KO Digest 

Welcome to the post-Ali, post-MayPac era.

It's not exactly an exciting "new era" like the one violently brought about by Iron Mike Tyson thirty years ago but it is what it is. Economically correct matchmaking. Traditional weight divisions where the two top fighters refuse to face off. A sport that many long-time fans no longer recognize. This is boxing in 2016. The biggest money fight of OUR time is a bad memory and an overdue cable bill. The "Greatest" of ALL times is forever silenced. Thank God. Muhammad Ali's gradual decline, like that of our glorious sport, was a painful ordeal. For Ali at least, the pain is mercifully over. For those of us left behind, it's just the beginning. Of the end. Our shrinking meat pie of paid pugilism cannot survive the bigger and bigger chunks being carelessly devoured from its barely breathing carcass.

Without a new young superstar to lead us into the future, there isn't going to be one worth waiting (or paying) for...

A realist against an opportunist
How good is IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua? Opponents don't seem to have much of a plan to defeat him in the ring. Before Joshua tangled with Charles Martin, the American sized up the undefeated British boxer. As a big underdog, I asked him what he expected. Martin told KO Digest: "I'm a realist. I'm gonna go in there and see what's in front of me. If I see Joshua unraveling, I'm gonna take the initiative." AJ KO 2. Next up for Joshua is another relatively inexperienced American in Dominic Breazeale. Does "Trouble" have a plan or is he in just as much trouble as Martin found himself in? "I am an opportunist and if I see an opportunity, if he exposes something or shows a weakness of some sort, I am going to take advantage of it," said Breazeale. Sound familiar?

One Question & Answer Time
One Time Thurman Needs More Time — "I don't like you guys' approach to these questions. Everyone is talking about the new king, the new king. Mayweather cast a huge shadow over this division. It's not like there was a successor lined up waiting. There is work to do. I'm a humble fighter. I like to humble myself on the regular. The young generation has a lot of work to do before there is a king on top of any of our names. Yes, I'd love to get through Danny Garcia and solidify more of the debate of the best at 147. To see the best at welterweight, it's going to take a little time. I feel like you writers are rushing to get the best to claim the best. And claiming the best is cool. There is nothing wrong with that but to get the best is not even gonna happen this year but I look forward to the journey and process."

In Case You Missed It — Light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara was shockingly knocked out in the first round on June 17 in Chicago by unknown Joe Smith Jr. "Now everybody knows who I am," said the 21-1 (18) winner. "This is the best thing that could have happened. It feels great." Conversely, it was the worst thing that could have happened for the Polish Fonfara. Positioned before the defeat as the de facto #1 contender at 175 pounds after challenging champion Adonis Stevenson and knocking out Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Fonfara now sees his stock drop considerably while Smith has put himself in position for a shot at light heavyweight champion Superman Stevenson.

"I'll talk to my promoter," said the big winner. "But I'm hoping for another big fight to get myself to a world title."

Molina (R) upsets the Siberian Rocky
John Molina Jr. talks to KO Digest about his appeal — "Fans root for me because I've been the underdog every way you can imagine. I started late in this sport. I didn't start boxing until I was 17. I didn't turn pro until I was 24. I had only 22 amateur fights. I had to take the scenic route. I wasn't supposed to be here. But I did make it and I'm showing everybody in the world that if you stick to something you apply yourself to, you can make it in life. I think that's why fans are so intrigued with my style. I'm a first class example of getting past discouragement."

WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz sizes up July 30 PBC opponent Carl Frampton — "Frampton is a good fighter. He has power and skills and he moves when he has to but he has a weak chin. When he gets caught with a good punch, he goes down. He doesn't like pressure and I have that."

WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder talks about challenger Chris Arreola for the fourth defense of his green belt — "Because of Povetkin's decision to use a banned substance, the fight didn't happen. I'm disappointed but it's not gonna stop me from being an active heavyweight champion. This is the longest stretch that I've been out of the ring and I'm anxious to get back in and continue my quest to become undisputed heavyweight champion. This is another fight in that process. I respect Arreola for getting in the ring with me but we all know who the real champion is and I'm going to prove it July 16."


Boxing writer Jeffrey Freeman grew up in the City of Champions, Brockton, Mass during the marvelous career of middleweight champion Marvin Hagler.

Freeman then lived in Lowell, Massachusetts during the best years of Micky Ward's illustrious career. A member of the RingTV expert writer prediction panel for 4 years, Freeman is also editor-in-chief of KO Digest, a social media outlet for the sweet science. Known affectionately as "KO" by friends and readers, Freeman covers boxing for The Sweet Science in New England.