8 Boxing Stars Who Rose from Olympic Fame

By Kieran Mulvaney

The 2012 London Olympics officially kick off on Friday, with much of the attention for boxing focusing on the hopes of promising young Rau’shee Warren and the inaugural appearance of women’s boxing at the games. Will Warren – or indeed any of the other competitors in London – turn out to be a superstar in the professional ranks in the years ahead? Only time will tell. In the meantime, here’s a small selection of boxers who have excelled at the Olympics and then brought us drama and excitement on HBO:

George Foreman

Foreman won heavyweight gold at the Mexico City games in 1968 and went on to rip the heavyweight championship of the world from Joe Frazier five years later. He lost the title in the Rumble in the Jungle to Muhammad Ali in 1974 and then retired from the sport in 1977. He made an improbable comeback 10 years later and regained the heavyweight title in 1994 at age 45, when he knocked out  Michael Moorer – an achievement immortalized by HBO commentator Jim Lampley’s cry of “It happened! It happened!” During his second career, and for several years afterward, Foreman joined Lampley and Larry Merchant on HBO broadcasts.

Sugar Ray Leonard

Like Foreman, Leonard  won gold – at welterweight in 1976; also like Foreman, Leonard commentated for HBO; and, also like Foreman, he had more than one retirement. After a stellar career that included epic wins over Roberto Duran and Tommy Hearns, Leonard retired in 1982. He returned for one fight in 1984 and then, in 1987, returned again, dethroning middleweight champion  Marvin Hagler via a points decision that remains heavily disputed. He finally retired for good in 1996.

 

Lennox Lewis

Another fighter who would go on to become an HBO commentator, Lewis knocked out Riddick Bowe to win Olympic gold in 1988, and erupted on to HBO screens with a two-round stoppage of Razor Ruddock, following which he was awarded the vacant WBC heavyweight title. Lewis lost his title to Oliver McCall, regained the vacant belt against McCall in 1997, unified the titles against Evander Holyfield at the second attempt (after their first fight, seemingly a clear Lewis win, was adjudged a draw), lost them to Hasim Rahman in 2001, won them again by crushing Rahman later that year, and closed his career with dramatic wins over Mike Tyson and Vitali Klitschko.

 

Roy Jones, Jr.

Officially, Jones won silver at the Seoul Olympics despite dominating his South Korean opponent, a decision that was universally regarded as larcenous and led to a change in the scoring system for Olympic boxing. For the first 15 years of his professional career, Jones was peerless, winning titles at middleweight, super-middleweight, light-heavyweight and, memorably, outpointing John Ruiz in 2003 to win a heavyweight title. Jones finally suffered his first true defeat as a professional the following year, against Antonio Tarver, but has continued to fight on. He is part of the commentary team for HBO’s Boxing After Dark broadcasts.

 

Oscar De La Hoya

The Golden Boy in many ways carried boxing on his back during the post-Mike Tyson years, turning Barcelona gold into a professional career that yielded world titles from 130 to 160 lbs., and produced memorable battles with Pernell Whitaker, Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad and Fernando Vargas, among others; his 2007 split-decision defeat to Floyd Mayweather remains the highest-grossing boxing pay-per-view of all time. De La Hoya is now a major promoter.

 

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

David Reid may have been the only American to win gold at the 1996 Atlanta games, but bronze medal-winning Mayweather became the sport’s biggest star. Sixteen years later, he has yet to lose as a professional, compiling a 43-0 record against the likes of De La Hoya, Mosley, Diego Corrales, Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto, and racking up pay-per-view records.

 

 Amir Khan

It’s hard to believe that Khan is only 25 years old, such is the fanfare that has greeted him ever since he secured silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics. The Briton has become an HBO staple, scoring dominant wins over Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah and recording a close and exciting defeat of Marcos Maidana, as well as enduring a hugely controversial setback to Lamont Peterson last December and suffering a shock knockout loss to Danny Garcia in July.

 

Andre Ward

The sole American gold medalist in 2004, Ward’s early professional progression was slightly delayed by injuries, but he has fought his way to the top of the super middleweight ranks. Voted Fighter of the Year last year by the Boxing Writers Association of America, the undefeated Ward takes on light-heavyweight champion Chad Dawson on HBO on September 8.

Garcia Topples Khan

By Kieran Mulvaney

Amir Khan - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

There was some talk, before Amir Khan stepped into the ring with Danny Garcia at the Mandalay Bay on Saturday night, that with a victory he could not only erase last December’s controversial loss to Lamont Peterson, but potentially even set himself up for a December megafight with Floyd Mayweather.

One huge counter left hook from Garcia was all it took to blow that idea to pieces.

Suddenly it is the undefeated but unheralded Garcia who is talking about the big money fights, and Khan who is looking at a career that has suddenly reached a crossroad.

Khan started brightly, landing long right hands behind a swift and stiff jab. The difference in hand speed was apparent, Khan’s immense advantages making Garcia’s punches look ponderous and painfully slow. But Garcia, despite looking slightly overwhelmed in the early going, kept his composure. Although a Khan left hook opened a cut by his right eye, his defense was tight, and as the minutes ticked by, he almost visibly grew in confidence.

In the third, Garcia gave up trying to exchange combinations with his speedier opponent and began targeting his body with thudding shots. But it was a shift back to Khan’s sometimes suspect chin that paid dramatic dividends. 

Read More at HBO.com

Compubox Analysis: Khan vs. Garcia

By Compubox

Eight months after losing his WBA and IBF junior welterweight straps to Lamont Peterson, Amir Khan will seek to lift Danny Garcia's newly-acquired WBC strap Saturday in Las Vegas. Will "King Khan" get to wear another crown or will the undefeated Garcia add Khan's name to his growing list of prominent victims that include Nate Campbell, Kendall Holt and Erik Morales? Their CompuBox histories provide the following points to consider:

Eroding Defense?: In his last three fights against Peterson, Zab Judah and Paul McCloskey, Khan has become an easier target for their power punches. The aforementioned trio landed a combined 42.3% of their power shots, led by Peterson's 46.3% in December. During that span, Khan has been operating "underwater," defined as one whose opponents land at a higher percentage. In Khan's case, his last three opponents have landed nearly six percentage points more overall (33.6%-27.8%) and nearly nine percentage points more in power shots (42.3%-33.7%).

Conversely, in the four fights previous to that (Marcos Maidana, Paul Malignaggi, Dmitriy Salita and Andriy Kotenik), Khan enjoyed substantial percentage leads -- a combined 33.9%-22.3% overall, 27.4%-16.6% jabs and 41.7%-25.8% power. At 25, is Khan already showing signs of slippage, or is this a mere bump in the road?

Read More on HBO.com

Fans Weigh In: Khan the Heavy Favorite, But @DANNYSWIFT Has His Supporters

Amir Khan, Danny Garcia - Photo Credit: Gene Blevins - Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

In what's likely to be his last fight at 140-pounds, Amir Khan hopes to leave his impression on the junior welterweight division—and the fans predict that he will. Our HBO Boxing Facebook poll had 56% of respondents forecast a KO for Khan and 26% who thought he'd win by decision. Only 150 out of 905 people thought Danny Garcia would emerge victorious. On HBO.com Michael Ray A. wrote, "Khan by UD. Too tall, too fast. Don't see Danny giving Amir any trouble throughout the fight." There is one place where Garcia gained traction—@DANNYSWIFT has a formidable Twitter following. And while his 12,500 followers are dwarfed by @AmirKingKhan's 1.1 million, they're an active bunch. Many of them echoed the sentiment of @aboxingfan who tweeted: "Garcia wins by tko on a counter left hook."

Here's some more of what you had to say:

  • Expecting the first two rounds to make it the fight of the year. Khan comes out to send a message and Garcia returns to make claim that he is the alpha dog. But then after that Khan's hand speed will out dazzle Garcia. Khan with a stoppage before the 10th. - V. Varrichio (HBO.com)
  • Khan is getting Danny out of there inside the distance. Speed of Morales and Campbell combined won't match @AmirKingKhan - @MrTactic (Twitter)
  • Garcia 11th round KO Philly left hook  - @spannymont (Twitter)
  • @HBOboxing khan wins too fast to powerful more experience in these big fights! hbo is the best for boxing! respect from England - @juangonzalvez (Twitter)
  • I think this is a chance to see how good Garcia really is. Khan can't afford to drop the ball here. I think Khan wins this by decision. – Seven Thirty (HBO.com)
  • @AmirKingKhan comes out fast, picks him apart with hand speed, 6th round TKO - @Neezy___ (Twitter)
  • Garcia is a good young fighter but Khan is that much better. Khan by decision. - @cjujitsu (Twitter)
  • Garcia looked pretty good against a seasoned Morales, but is obviously going to have a very strategic plan in place, Garcia's overall boxing skillset isn't quite up there with Khan's, but Garcia can pose problems in terms of using the correct strategy. – Riky Ricardo (HBO.com)

 

Peterson Behind Him, Khan Looks Ahead to Garcia

By Kieran Mulvaney

Freddie Roach, Amir Khan - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Two months later than planned, and against a different opponent than originally anticipated, Amir Khan will climb into the ring at the Mandalay Bay on Saturday night for his first fight since losing two junior welterweight belts to Lamont Peterson in Washington, DC last December.

Despite that loss, the WBA -- one of the sanctioning bodies whose titles he surrendered in a controversial split decision loss to Peterson -- has agreed to wrap one of its belts around him again even before he steps between the ropes on Saturday. The reason offered by the WBA for its move is that “no boxer [who] has tested positively for prohibited substances can … retain a title” – a reference to the fact that on May 8, eleven days before he was scheduled to fight a rematch with Khan, Peterson was revealed to have tested positive for synthetic testosterone.

The likelihood of Nevada granting Peterson a boxing license in light of that kind of news was about as high as Mike Tyson returning to the ring and fighting at welterweight; and so the fight was canceled. But Khan was not without an opponent for long, as into the breach stepped young Danny Garcia, himself the holder of a 140-pound trinket (this one bestowed by the WBC) that he secured by way of a hard-fought victory over veteran Erik Morales in Houston in March.

For Khan, the changes meant a switch of focus away from the white whale who had disturbed his sleep ever since that eventful night in the nation’s capital. It also meant an additional two months of work and preparation.

The change of course had undoubtedly interrupted a long-planned shot at revenge that he and trainer Freddie Roach had been plotting in detail, he conceded.

“I had to go back to the drawing board and think about what I was going to do, and how we were going to come back and knock out Lamont Peterson,” he said recently. “And that’s what we were aiming for. We made the fight, and then after I trained out of my skin – I’ve never trained so hard in my life – ten days before the fight I get the call that he had failed the test.”

But despite that, he sees similarities between Peterson’s style and Garcia’s, similarities that made it that much easier to pick up where he had left off when his preparations for a Peterson rematch had been so rudely interrupted.

“You have to remember that Lamont Peterson threw a lot of body shots in our fight,” he pointed out. “Danny Garcia throws a lot of body shots. Garcia’s an orthodox fighter; Lamont Peterson is orthodox. Peterson likes coming forward, Garcia likes to come forward. So technically, tactically, all we have to do is tinker with a few little things. We know what to do. That’s not really a problem.”

Whatever does happen, this may be the final time we see the Briton at this particular fighting weight. He has been around so long already – he won silver at the Olympic Games eight years ago – that it is a shock to realize he is still only 25, a young and growing man. As a result, larger challenges lie ahead.

“It’s getting harder to make the weight. I’m filling out. I’m getting bigger, and older and more mature, so it’s probably the best time to move up, and hopefully win another world title at welterweight,” he revealed. “That’s my ambition.”

Danny Garcia to Test Amir Khan

Amir Khan, Danny Garcia - Photo Credit: Will Hart

There’s no denying that Amir Khan is a superior pure boxer to Danny Garcia. He moves extremely well, and he has faster hands than his Philadelphia adversary. Add to this the fact that the slow-footed Garcia will be standing right in front of Khan all night, and it would appear he is tailor-made for the Brit.

Sometimes looks can be deceiving, however, says Bob Papa, the HBO commentator for ‘Boxing After Dark.’ “Khan may have more skills and ability, and Danny Garcia may be ready-made for Khan, but don’t ever discount Garcia’s heart,” Papa says. “Heart and drive can make up for less skills and boxing ability. Gatti was the poster child for that.”

The undefeated Garcia (23-0, 14 KOs) has demonstrated over his career that his will to win, like Gatti’s, has enabled him to beat opponents considered better than him. The 24-year-old Garcia was the underdog in his last two fights, most recently against Erik Morales and before that Kendall Holt, yet he came out victorious.

“Garcia wasn’t given a great chance against Morales,” Papa says, “because Morales had looked good in his previous fight on his comeback trail. But Garcia’s heart helped him to win. Holt was thought to still have enough left to keep winning, but Garcia wouldn’t be denied. Garcia beats guys he’s not supposed to beat because he just keeps coming.”

Roy Jones and Amir Khan Make Their Last-Minute Predictions

By Kieran Mulvaney

Who better to analyze a fight than a fighter? How about two fighters? We asked two of the best – Roy Jones, Jr. and Amir Khan – for their take on tonight’s meeting between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley.

Roy Jones, Jr.

The biggest key is you have to watch out for the head butts. When an orthodox fighter and a southpaw fighter meet, what happens? We get a clash of heads. So we’ve got a guy who has an enormous amount of head butt issues with other right-handers; now he’s fighting a left-hander, so what else can we expect? We have to figure out how these two guys have a formidable fight, a real good fight, minus the head issues. That’s going to be the key.

Pacquiao’s probably the better boxer. And he’s certainly the quicker fighter and the more powerful fighter. Timothy Bradley is the more durable fighter. So you’ve got an early horse and a late horse. It all depends which horse prevails and which horse gets the race in his favor. Early, I think it’s Pacquiao. Late, I think it’s Bradley. So we’ll see.

Bradley has to get inside and rough him up. He has to. It’s his only chance. If he stays outside, Pacquiao will pick him apart. Bradley’s not as fast, and he’s not as mobile.

I like Pacquiao early, I like Bradley late. If Bradley can withstand Pacquiao’s onslaught, it can be a tough fight for Manny.

Amir Khan

It’s going to be a hard fight. I’ve seen Bradley train hard on 24/7. He looks in great shape. Bradley was a guy we tried to fight twice, and he turned me down twice. His excuse now is that he was waiting for a Pacquiao fight. Still, he could have fought me in between if he really thought he could beat me.

This will be a good fight tonight. It will be explosive. They’re both hungry. Manny Pacquiao doesn’t want to lose his pound-for-pound title, and I’m sure Bradley doesn’t want to lose his undefeated record. That’s what makes this fight interesting.

They have to work hard, not let up and not let the crowd get to them. There are thousands of people watching you, millions watching around the world. Bradley seems strong in the spotlight, but it always hits a fighter when it’s the day of the fight. This is the time where he will be nervous when he’s in his room, thinking, ‘The time’s come now. This is the biggest fight of my career.’ He will be nervous, because it is the biggest fight of his life.

Go to HBO.com for more fight info.

Jim Lampley on 'The Fight Game'

When Jim Lampley was searching for inspiration for his new show, “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley”, which debuts on HBO at midnight ET on Saturday, he found it in what might at first blush be considered an unusual place.

“The guy who will sit in the studio and produce the show as I tape it is Bill Wolff, whose other gig is to produce Rachel Maddow’s nightly show on MSNBC,” Lampley revealed during a recent conversation. “And I chose him specifically because I admire the culture of that show, I admire the way they deliver information, I admire her way of building up evidence after evidence to support a point without having to say, ‘This is what you should believe,’ and that’s the kind of thing that I’ll be trying to do with ‘The Fight Game’.”

Read More at HBO.com.

Who will become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao?

By Eric Raskin

Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather

It is wonderfully symbolic that the last two fighters to whom Oscar De La Hoya lost, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, now occupy the position held for so long by "The Golden Boy." For years, De La Hoya was the crossover superstar who served as the face of boxing to the mainstream public. Mayweather and Pacquiao, together, have done the same in the three-plus years since Oscar's retirement from the ring.

The torch is not always passed so directly, but it is always passed eventually. Mayweather and Pacquiao will not rule boxing forever. Given Mayweather's periodic retirement announcements and Pacquiao's frequent talk of being just a handful of bouts from the end, their two-headed reign could actually end relatively soon. And who will be the face of the sport then? At the moment, eight young stars are showing the kind of potential needed to lead the next generation. Who do you think is likely to step up?

Read More at HBO.com

HBO Boxing Schedule Packed with Action Through June

By Kieran Mulvaney

HBO’s boxing lineup for 2012 is picking up steam, with a host of big fights scheduled for the next several months. Take a look at what’s on the cards and let us know which fights you’re looking forward to the most, and why. 

Erik Morales vs Danny Garcia

March 24 in Houston

Erik Morales vs Danny Garcia - Photo Credits: Will HartAfter multiple world titles and 54 professional fights, Morales called it quits in 2007, only to return in 2010 and show he can still compete at a high level. But the undefeated Garcia, who was 5 years old when Morales turned pro, is a rising star. Is this one final step too far for the veteran?

 

 

 

 

Bernard Hopkins vs Chad Dawson

April 28 in Atlantic City

Bernard Hopkins vs Chad Dawson - Photo Credit: Will HartCan 47-year-old Hopkins reach into his bag of tricks one more time and turn back the challenge of Dawson? Their first encounter, last year, was ruled a no-contest after Hopkins injured his shoulder in the second round; fans will be hoping for a longer and more definitive battle this time.

 

 

 

 

Floyd Mayweather vs Miguel Cotto

May 5 in Las Vegas

Floyd Mayweather vs Miguel Cotto - Photo Credit: Hogan PhotosCotto looked as good as he has in years while securing revenge over Antonio Margarito last year, but Mayweather is an altogether different challenge. Following his 2007 victory over Oscar De La Hoya, this will be ‘Money’ Mayweather’s second assault on a 154-pound crown.

 

 

 

 

Lamont Peterson vs Amir Khan

May 19 in Las Vegas

Lamont Peterson vs Amir Khan - Photo Credit: Will HartPeterson took Khan’s junior lightweight belt late last year in an exciting fight that was overshadowed by controversy surrounding point deductions and a mysterious ringside ‘man in a hat.’ Khan looks to gain his revenge, while Peterson aims to prove his win in the first fight was no fluke.

 

 

 

 

Manny Pacquiao vs Timothy Bradley

June 9 in Las Vegas

Manny Pacquiao vs Timothy Bradley - Photo Credit: Hogan PhotosFormer 140-pound kingpin Bradley gets the superfight he’s been waiting for, against the Fighting Congressman from the Philippines. Will Pacman gobble up this latest challenge or will Bradley pull of the upset and emerge as a star?

 

 

 

 

 

So what do you think? How do you see these fights going, and which have you the most excited? Leave a comment on the HBO Boxing Facebook page or tweet us at @HBOBoxing, and we may feature your answers in a future post right here on InsideHBOBoxing.