PODCAST: Ep. 235 - Little Guys Draft

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney kick off the countdown to the Feb. 24 Superfly 2 card by engaging in a "Little Guys Snake Draft," assembling fantasy teams of the best 115-pound-and-below fighters of the last 25 years.

PODCAST: Ep. 234 - Tom Loeffler

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney sit down with promoter Tom Loeffler for a discussion covering the Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez rematch set for May 5, the stacked Superfly 2 card on February 24, and the legacies of the Klitschko brothers.

PODCAST: Ep. 233 GGG - Canelo 2 Early Mini Preview, Super Bowl Philly Boxing Talk

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney offer up an early preview of the Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez middleweight championship rematch, exploring a couple of numbers to know and asking each other some burning questions. They also discuss the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl victory and draw parallels with a handful of the best Philly fighters of recent decades.

PODCAST: Ep. 232 - GGG vs. Canelo 2 Announcement, Matthysse vs. Kiram and Linares vs. Gesta

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney weigh in on the major breaking news announcement that Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin 2 has been signed for May 5 on HBO Pay-Per-View, then they analyze Lucas Matthysse's eighth-round knockout of Tewa Kiram and Jorge Linares' unanimous decision win over Mercito Gesta.

Canelo vs. GGG Rematch Announcement by Dwayne Johnson

Only a true baller can announce the fight of the year. The one and only Dwayne Johnson makes the biggest rematch in boxing official: Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady "GGG" Golovkin 2 takes place May 5 on HBO Pay-Per-Vew. #HBOSports #HBO #CaneloGGG2

It's On (Again)! Golovkin and Canelo to Fight May 5 Rematch

Photo by Ed Mulholland

Photo by Ed Mulholland

By Kieran Mulvaney

Twelve rounds weren’t enough.

As first announced by none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez will meet in the ring again on May 5 (8 PM ET/5 PM PT on HBO PPV), in another attempt to determine definitively who is the best middleweight in the world.

“I am ready to battle Canelo again and am pleased he took this fight,” said Golovkin. “This is the fight the fans and the media want. This is the fight boxing deserves.”

“I’m delighted to once again participate in one of the most important boxing events in history,” added Alvarez. “This second fight is for the benefit and pleasure of all fans who desire to see the best fight the best.”

The rematch comes eight months after they battled to a fiercely-contested draw, in a clash that had been building a head of steam for the best part of two years. In November 2015, Canelo outpointed Miguel Cotto to become the lineal middleweight champion of the world, but he did not receive acclamation as the best middleweight on Earth. That crown sat firmly on the head of Golovkin, who at that stage was riding a 21-bout knockout streak and who had dominated and stopped David Lemieux at New York’s Madison Square Garden the previous month.

After Canelo knocked out Amir Khan in his next fight in May 2016, he beckoned Golovkin, who had been sitting ringside, to step between the ropes.

“I don't fear anyone. We don't come to play in this sport. I fear no one in this sport,” Alvarez insisted; when asked if that meant he would face Golovkin later that year, he said he was willing to do so “Right now. I will put the gloves on again.”

Canelo didn’t fight Golovkin that very moment. Nor did he take him on in his next bout, choosing instead to face Liam Smith in front of 51,000 fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Golovkin kept himself busy by beating Dominic Wade in Los Angeles and Kell Brook in London to extend his knockout streak to 23, before being taken the distance for the first time since 2008 in securing a close unanimous decision win over Daniel Jacobs in March 2017.

Five weeks after Golovkin edged Jacobs, Alvarez routed his countryman Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in Las Vegas; again, Golovkin was in attendance, and this time he entered the arena post-fight to his signature “Seven Nation Army” ringwalk music, as Canelo proclaimed that “Golovkin, you are next, my friend.”

Finally, the fight that the boxing world had been waiting for was at hand. Given their styles, the strength and their skills, their collision seemed destined to be an enthralling one, and so it proved when they met in the ring on September 16. For the first couple of rounds, Canelo used surprisingly effective footwork and hard uppercuts to befuddle Golovkin, but by the second quarter of the contest, the Kazakh was dialed in, driving relentlessly toward the Mexican, battering him into the ropes and constantly thudding him with powerful jabs and short hooks and right hands. By the seventh, Canelo looked weary and possibly on the verge of being stopped; with nine rounds completed, his trainer Eddie Reynoso informed him in no uncertain terms that he needed to produce the best three rounds of his life. He did, digging his toes into the canvas and raking Golovkin with fearsome power punches, fighting his way desperately back into the contest. At the conclusion of the twelfth and final round, the fans in attendance roared their appreciation of a momentous prizefight and, particularly, of Golovkin, who was widely judged to have emerged the victor – by a far finer margin than had appeared likely entering the tenth round, certainly, but the victor anyway.

Judge Dave Moretti saw it that way also, scoring Golovkin a 115-113 winner. His colleague Don Trella had it closer, a 114-114 draw. But Adalaide Byrd inexplicably cast her lot 118-110 in favor of Alvarez, producing a split decision draw that did not sit well with what had become a partisan, pro-Kazakh crowd.

canelo+vs+golovkin+counter+punch.jpg

The furor over Byrd’s card obscured a sensational display of brave and skillful boxing by two of the very best in the business. It also drowned out the questions that were being asked even as the sound of the final bell echoed around the arena: Had Golovkin deserved more for his apparent mid-rounds superiority? If Canelo had emptied his tank to secure a draw, what hope could he have of ever beating his rival? Conversely, had his storming final three rounds shown that he had ultimately figured out his opponent and that he would be able to tame him in a rematch?

“I didn’t agree with the judges’ decision last September, but I will ensure that this time there is no doubt for anyone that I am the undisputed middleweight champion of the world,” insisted Golovkin.

“This time, Golovkin won’t have any excuses regarding the judges,” countered Alvarez, “because I’m coming to knock him out.”

For months, boxing fans have been debating who really deserved to win the first encounter, and which of the two is truly the best middleweight in the world. The only way for to know for sure is for the two men to meet again and do it one more time. On May 5, they will. 

Matthysse Stops Kiram, Linares Has Too Much for Gesta

Photos: Ed Mulholland

By Kieran Mulvaney

INGLEWOOD, Ca. -- Lucas Matthysse knocked out a stubborn Tewa Kiram in the eighth round to score his second victory in a row in spectacular style and, frankly, rescue fans and viewers from a bout that had not exactly covered itself in glory. This was, for the most part, an ugly clash of styles, with Matthysse clearly the superior boxer but unable to land any definitive blow until the combinations that put Kiram down once and then a second time. Still, the quality – or lack thereof – of the first seven rounds will fade from memory; it is the knockout victory that will resonate with fans and live in the public record.

Kiram (38-1, 28 KOs) entered the contest unbeaten but essentially unknown outside his native Thailand, where he had fought the entirety of his professional career. Video evidence suggested he had a strong, stiff jab and a decent straight right, but not much else; the question was whether the quality of those punches was exaggerated by the relative paucity of his competition to this point.

The opening round certainly underlined the heaviness of Kiram’s jab and his strong reliance on it. The Thai boxer threw 31 punches in the first three minutes, of which just four were power shots; in rounds 1 through 7, Kiram landed precisely one, one, two, four, zero, one and one power punches, according to CompuBox. Not that Matthysse was landing with a great deal more frequency or effectiveness, but after taking a couple of rounds to figure out his opponent, and shipping a succession of thudding jabs as he did so, he steadily began to turn the screw, closing the distance, pursuing his foe and forcing him backward. In the process, he rendered the Kiram jab progressively less effective.

Even so, Kiram had little evident intention of permitting Matthysse (39-5, 36 KOs) to simply tee off on him. He held Matthysse tight whenever the Argentine came too close for comfort, and stepped backwards and moved sideways to avoid the full force of Matthysse’s blows. He was aided also by the fact that the Argentine appeared to have less snap than usual to his punches – and perhaps to some extent by a substance that the California State Athletic Commission confiscated from the corner between rounds, the identity of which remains unknown at time of writing.

Slowly but surely, however, Matthysse came closer and closer to his target; even so, the end was sudden. A strong left and follow-up right dropped Kiram hard on to his back under the ropes, where he initially appeared poleaxed and unlikely to rise. Rise he did, however, electing bravely to stand and trade with Matthysse until another left connected; Kiram threw a right in response but then crumpled anew to the canvas, where referee Raul Caiz Jr waved off the contest without a count, and where Kiram lay for some time while attended to by ringside physicians.

***

For the second straight fight, Jorge Linares was taken the distance by a tough southpaw opponent at The Forum. But whereas the Venezuelan needed to dig out the twelfth round to secure victory against Britain’s Luke Campbell last September, he retained his lightweight belt with more room to breathe against Mercito Gesta of the Philippines on Saturday night.

Which is not to say that Gesta did not offer stiff resistance – he did, although the scores of 118-110 (twice) and 117-111 might, taken at face value, suggest otherwise. Gesta was solid and determined, made several rounds close, frequently cracked Linares with a solid right hook, and was rarely hurt by Linares’ clean punching. But Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) simply occupied a higher class; whereas Gesta’s punches were clean and strong, Linares’ were more multitudinous, more accurate and thrown from a greater variety of angles. There was simply more finesse, more sophistication to the Venezuelan’s game; Gesta’s offense was somewhat more predictable, whereas Linares might pause, look as if to throw a straight right and then suddenly launch a left uppercut instead. Gesta (31-2-2, 17 KOs) simply didn’t have that kind of skill at his disposal, and that ultimately was to a large extent responsible for the gulf in class and points.

Still, Gesta came out of his corner in the first round determined to make an impression, firing fast combinations and pushing Linares on to the back foot. Linares rarely looked troubled – in fact, remained poised behind a tight guard – but the Filipino wasn’t given him much room or time to work. Gesta likely took that opening round, and may have shaded the second as well, but in that sophomore frame Linares began to dial in some short straight rights. By the third, he was in a groove, ripping combinations to body and head, and although Gesta mugged and shrugged with each clean, hard blow that landed, the effect, rather than minimizing the punches’ impact, as to underline that they had landed with accuracy and ferocity.

For the next several rounds, Linares was on his toes, constantly moving, letting combinations go with lightning speed, switching his assault from head to body and back again. In total, Linares landed 171 out of 585 punches thrown over the course of the fight, while Gesta threw 515 and landed 120 – significant differences, but not necessarily overwhelming. Again, however, raw numbers alone don’t tell the full story. Linares’ punches landed more cleanly and with greater impact; although Gesta was able to make some of the later rounds closer, he didn’t have the guile, speed or power to turn the fight around. Although trainer Freddie Roach implored him before the twelfth to give him the best three minutes of his life, he was able only to summon a round that was good, but not good enough.

For Gesta, it is his second failed attempt to win a world title, five years after the first. He fared much better this time around, but it may not be sufficient for him to gain a third opportunity. For Linares, it is now 13 wins in a row, and more enticing match-ups surely lie ahead.

Video: Matthysse vs. Kiram Weigh-In Recap

Watch a recap of the Lucas Matthysse vs. Tewa Kiram and Jorge Linares vs. Mercito Gesta weigh-in. Fight night takes place Saturday, January 27 at 10:30 pm ET/PT on HBO Boxing After Dark.