Closing the Year with Boxing’s Best

by Kieran Mulvaney

What to do when HBO’s live boxing broadcasts have wrapped for the year? Revisit the very best bouts from an action-packed 2012, of course. The last 12 months have provided some jaw-dropping action, and for five days, beginning December 25, HBO will be showcasing seven of the year’s best examples of boxing brilliance. All times are ET/PT.


Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto
Tuesday, December 25 at 11 PM


In May, Puerto Rican superstar Cotto put his junior middleweight belt on the line against pound-for-pound king Mayweather. In one of the finest performances of his likely Hall-of-Fame career, Cotto pushed Money May to the edge, forcing Mayweather to dig deeper than he has had to in at least 10 years.

 

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez
Wednesday, December 26 at 11 PM

 

Martinez was regarded as the true middleweight champion. But Chavez had the belt he coveted, and Martinez agitated for over a year for an opportunity to take it from him. When the chance came, the Argentine appeared well on his way to doing what he had sought to do, until a dramatic finale that was one of the most explosive rounds of the year.

 

Robert Guerrero vs. Andre Berto
Thursday, December 27 at 11 PM

 

Three years ago, Guerrero was campaigning as a junior lightweight, having begun his professional career as a featherweight. One month ago, he appeared on HBO World Championship Boxing in just his second bout as a welterweight, taking on a hard-hitting former 147-pound-title-holder whose own professional debut had been at 162 pounds – almost 37 pounds heavier than Guerrero’s. But Guerrero was the aggressor, dragging Berto into an old-fashioned down-and-dirty street fight that was one of the roughest, toughest and best of 2012.

 

Antonio DeMarco vs. Adrien Broner
Friday, December 28 at 11 PM

 

Flashy Adrien “The Problem” Broner inspires a gamut of emotions – and it’s safe to say that few if any of them are ‘indifference.’ Love him or hate him, it is hard not to respect him; increasingly tipped as the sport’s next big star, Broner went a long way to establishing his bona fides with a devastating and dominant performance against Mexican DeMarco.

 

Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson
Friday, December 28 at 11:45 PM

 

Light-heavyweight titlist Dawson took the unusual step of dropping down in weight to take on super middleweight kingpin Ward. He may still be regretting it, after Ward – in many pundits’ eyes, second only to Mayweather on the pound-for-pound list – opened his full bag of tricks and cemented his place among boxing’s elite.

 

Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado
Saturday, December 29 at 11 PM

 

The moment this junior welterweight clash was signed, boxing fans everywhere had the date circled on their calendars. Both Rios and Alvarado entered the contest unbeaten and with reputations for possessing that rare combination of immovable object and irresistible force. There seemed no way this could fail to be a serious Fight of the Year candidate, and so it proved. Each man dished out and received hellacious punishment, and the contest swayed back and forth, with first one man and the other seizing advantage and momentum, until an ending that seemed to come almost out of the blue.

 

Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez 4
Saturday, Dec. 29 at 11:40 PM

 

Pacquiao and Marquez had pursued each other like Ahab and the whale, across eight years and 36 rounds, before meeting for a fourth time on December 8. Each man insisted beforehand that this would be their final battle, but after six rounds that exceeded even the dizzying heights of their previous encounters, and a conclusive, concussive ending that was among the most shocking and emphatic in years, who would bet against a fifth?

 

Broner Makes the Defining Statement of His Career. So Far

by Kieran Mulvaney

 

Antonio DeMarco, Adrien Broner - Photo Credit: Will Hart

There were those who thought that Antonio DeMarco would, at the very least, ask demanding questions of Adrien Broner in Atlantic City on Saturday night. Not surprisingly, Broner was not one of them. Every time he considered the possible permutations in advance of his challenge for DeMarco’s lightweight title, he said, it just seemed easier and easier.

Such a statement is Broner exemplified: brash and confident to the point of arrogance. But for all Broner’s loud talk outside the ring, the undefeated Cincinnati fighter has thus far been able to more than back up his words with deeds inside the ropes, and he did so again in devastating style against DeMarco, stopping the Mexican in the eighth round and maintaining his seemingly inevitable progression to the very pinnacle of the sport.

After a cautious opening round, Broner began to find the target in the second round with a fast left hook that rapidly marked up DeMarco’s face. DeMarco pressed forward earnestly, but Broner looked effortless and relaxed behind a high shoulder guard, taking his time and gradually beginning the process of picking his man apart.

Read More on HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: DeMarco vs. Broner

by CompuBox

In this two-fights-per-year era for those at the highest levels of the sport, it's highly unusual for a titleholder to fight just 69 days after his most recent title defense. Such will be the case for WBC lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco, but only because he's fresh off scoring the fastest knockout in 135-pound history. His 44-second destruction of John Molina Sept. 8 broke a record that had stood since November 14, 1930 when Tony Canzoneri dethroned Al Singer in just 66 seconds. Interestingly enough, Singer had won his belt four months earlier with his own 106-second blitz over Sammy Mandell.

Don't expect similar fireworks Saturday, for DeMarco's opposition is recent 130-pound titlist Adrien "The Problem" Broner, one of the most charismatic and talented figures on today's boxing landscape and a man capable of delivering quick knockouts as well. Broner is on a four-fight knockout streak over opponents with a combined 111-7-3 record and he hopes to add DeMarco's scalp -- and his second divisional belt -- to his mantle.

Which man will walk out with the belt? Their recent CompuBox stats tell the following tales:

See more Compubox analysis of Antonio DeMarco vs. Adrian Broner on HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: Mitchell vs. Banks

by CompuBox

Among American heavyweights Seth Mitchell and Johnathon Banks occupy opposite ends of the scale. The undefeated Mitchell, a onetime football player, brings linebacker aggressiveness and sack-master impact to his game, elements that rate him arguably the most exciting big man in the sport. Conversely Banks is careful, calculating and cautious, throwing precious few punches and lulling everyone to sleep, including stadium crowds who are there to see the Klitschkos perform.

Will Mitchell wake up the echoes of Arturo Gatti at Boardwalk Hall -- known as "The House That Gatti Built" -- or will Banks sing him a lullaby before putting him to sleep? Their CompuBox histories offer these clues:

See more Compubox analysis of Seth Mitchell vs. Johnathon Banks on HBO.com.

Plenty of Questions, No Guarantee of Answers, From Broner and DeMarco

by Kieran Mulvaney

Adrien Broner, Antonio DeMarco

There are, by and large, two schools of thought on Adrien “The Problem” Broner.

One is that he is a fighter of almost limitless potential, possessed of power, speed, and offensive and defensive skill. Exhibit A in support of the contention is his one-round blowout last year of Jason Litzau – who, lest it be forgot, was at the time on an improbable roll following wins over Rocky Juarez and Celestino Caballero.

The other school of thought is a little less effusive.

While not necessarily dismissive of Broner’s talents, the adherents to this second school contend that he is untested, that he has achieved notoriety and fame largely on the basis of blowing out opponents not worthy of a true contender’s resume. On the one occasion he did swap punches with a high-caliber opponent, the argument continues, he escaped with a points win he arguably didn’t deserve against Daniel Ponce De Leon in March 2011. And as for his most recent outing, when he never came close to making weight against Vicente Escobedo – well, that’s the sign of a young man who has rocketed from youth to adulthood without ever stopping to fill up on maturity.

Broner (24-0, 20 KOs) and his team had already elected to move up in weight from the 130-pound weight class in which he had been competing, and his struggles with the scales prior to dispatching Escobedo within five rounds in July only served to affirm that decision. On November 17, in Atlantic City, he takes his bow at lightweight against Antonio DeMarco, a foe even his critics agree could provide a genuine test.

Read More at HBO.com.

Step Inside Adrien Broner’s Camp During His Last Fight

by Kieran Mulvaney

Adrien Broner - Photo Credit: Hogan Photos

As the rain outside pours from the sky above Cincinnati, a small entourage files into the hotel lobby.

First to emerge from the elevator is Levi Smith, hand-wrapper, cut man and corner sage, experienced and unflappable. He is followed by J.P., a large specimen of humanity whose job is to eye approaching strangers warily and who fulfills his duties instantly as he fixes me with an uncertain glare. Then Mike Stafford – “Coach Mike” – in his defining pose: bag over one shoulder, cellphone in his other hand, pressed to his ear. He looks up, smiles, offers a hand, returns to his conversation.

Quietly, unannounced, the fighter himself appears. He looks the part: face half-hidden behind huge shades, ear buds connected to an iPhone, muscles straining against his shirt. But there is no crowd, nobody seeking an autograph, and the thought that immediately occurs is that this is surely one of the last occasions on which that will be the case. Two days before an HBO fight against Vicente Escobedo, in his hometown, and Adrien ‘The Problem’ Broner is able to walk from elevator to valet stand unmolested and undisturbed. It is a relative anonymity. But if, over the next couple of years, Broner’s career tracks along the path that so many have predicted for it, such anonymity will soon be a thing of the past.

Read More

Ward and Dawson Set Aside Their Empires to Battle Each Other

by Eric Raskin

Andre Ward, Chad Dawson“And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.” Whether you attribute this quote to ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch or to more modern philosopher Hans Gruber of ‘Die Hard’ fame, it’s a quote that could have been applied a few months ago to either Chad Dawson or Andre Ward. Dawson had scaled the light heavyweight mountaintop, claiming the lineal 175-pound title by becoming the first fighter in nearly two decades to convincingly defeat Bernard Hopkins. Ward had effectively cleaned out the super middleweight division by dominating the “Super Six” tournament, the chasm between he and the rest of the 168-pound class growing wider with each victory.

Sure, there are always new challengers. But are there are always true challenges? For Dawson at light heavy and for Ward at super middle, it seemed the answer was no. Their respective worlds had been conquered.

Thankfully for fans of competitive, elite-level prize fighting, both Ward and Dawson stopped weeping long enough to realize that, beyond their immediate worlds, there was still one thing out there that needed conquering: each other.

Though the fight will be contested at the super middleweight limit of 168 pounds, it is essentially for supremacy over two weight classes. Maybe such affairs were common in the days of Henry Armstrong, but nowadays, a matchup like this one is a rarity. These are both pound-for-pound-level guys (ESPN.com ranks Ward fifth, Dawson 11th; Sports Illustrated positions them sixth and 12th, respectively; BoxRec.com has them seventh and eighth). And as we’ve learned rather painfully over the last few years, pound-for-pound guys who should be fighting each other don’t always end up fighting each other. Dawson and Ward deserve credit for actively seeking out this challenge.

Read More at HBO.com

Looking Ahead to HBO’s Fall Schedule

by Kieran Mulvaney

We know. It’s been a quiet month. But with the Olympics behind us and summer soon segueing into fall, HBO’s Boxing schedule is filling up fast. The network has four cards confirmed for September and one already in place for October, with the promise of plenty more to come.

Here’s a brief guide to what’s on tap: 

 

Gennady Golovkin

September 1

Gennady Golovkin vs Grzegorz Proska, HBO Boxing After Dark

If you haven’t seen Golovkin fight before, you’re in for a treat. The German-based, Kazakh-born middleweight is a wrecking ball of a fighter, with 20 knockouts from his 23 professional wins. He won silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and as an amateur defeated the likes of Andre Dirrell, Lucian Bute and Andy Lee. He defends his middleweight title against once-beaten European champion Gzegorz Proska in what promises to be an exciting match-up.

 

 

Chad Dawson - Photo Credit: Will Hart

September 8
Andre Ward vs Chad Dawson, HBO World Championship Boxing

Dawson is coming off arguably the best performance of his career, a convincing points win over future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins. Can the light heavyweight champion be as effective against highly-rated super middleweight champion Andre Ward? Also on the card, lightweight title action featuring Antonio DeMarco, fresh from his spectacular win over Jorge Linares, defending against John Molina Jr; and, from Germany, Vitali Klitschko defends his heavyweight belt against unbeaten Manuel Charr.

 

Sergio Martinez - Photo Credit: Will Hart

September 15
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs Sergio Martinez, HBO PPV

Argentina’s Martinez, widely recognized as the best middleweight in the world, collides with hugely popular WBC titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez in a battle that fans have been eagerly anticipating for well over a year. Martinez has stopped his last four opponents, while the undefeated Chavez has become one of the most exciting fighters in the game. A year and a half ago, most would have considered this a mismatch in favor of Martinez, but with the younger, bigger Chavez improving under the tutelage of Freddie Roach, this has become a pick’ em fight.

 

Edwin Rodriguez

September 29
Edwin Rodriguez vs Jason Escalera, HBO Boxing After Dark

It’s a battle of unbeatens as boxer-puncher Rodriguez looks to move into the world-title picture at super middleweight, and Escalera, who has 12 KOs among his 13 wins, aims to stop him. The fight is the main event of a three-bout card from Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

 

 

 

Nonito Donaire - Photo Credit: Will Hart

October 13
Nonito Donaire vs Toshiaki Nishioka, HBO Boxing After Dark

It’s difficult to know which fight to be more excited about: charismatic budding superstar Donaire taking on the daunting challenge of Japan’s Nishioka, who recently defeated Rafael Marquez, in a super bantamweight title fight; or the co-main event, which pits Brandon Rios against Mike Alvarado in a junior welterweight contest that, given both men’s all-action styles, is already being looked at a possible fight of the year candidate.

 

Which of these are you most looking forward to? Let us know on the HBO Boxing Facebook page or on Twitter at @HBOBoxing. Let the countdown to September begin …

Dawson Takes Title with Controversial TKO

Photo: Will HartEditor's Notes: After reviewing video of the fight as well as Bernard Hopkins' medical reports, the WBC later declared a technical draw in this bout. Bernard Hopkins retained his title as WBC Light Heavyweight Champion of the World. The story originally published on fight night follows below.

Ageless wonder. Modern day phenom. One in a million. It all fits the 46-year-old Bernard Hopkins, who Saturday once again set out to defy the odds of nature by defending his light heavyweight world title against Chad Dawson, who at 29 is 17 years Hopkins' junior.

But the 8,431 in attendance at Staples Center in Los Angeles never got a chance to see if Hopkins would be able to handle another young buck because of yet another bizarre ending in this crazy sport.

Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson: Undercard Packed with High Hopes

By Eric Raskin

Veterans looking to show they still belong. Young fighters out to demonstrate they can be great. Contenders hoping to soon become champions. On the three-fight televised undercard of the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson light heavyweight championship bout at Staples Center in Los Angeles on October 15, everybody has something to prove.

Jorge Linares (31-1, 20 KOs) vs. Antonio DeMarco (25-2-1, 18 KOs), 12 Rounds, Lightweights

Linares was thought to have pound-for-pound potential until a shocking first-round knockout at the hands of unknown Juan Carlos Salgado derailed him in 2009. Four straight wins since have the boxing community again talking about the 26-year-old Venezuelan’s P-4-P potential, and in DeMarco, he faces the youngest, strongest test of his comeback so far.

A gutsy 25-year-old southpaw, DeMarco is also trying to shake off a loss, though his was not an upset. It was the undefeated power puncher Edwin Valero who handed him a defeat three fights ago (in the late Valero’s final fight). There’s no shame in losing that way. But the Linares fight represents DeMarco’s second, and perhaps final, chance to prove he can get the job done at the elite level.

Linares has the edge here in terms of skill, so DeMarco’s job is to apply pressure, find his opponent’s questionable chin, and do his best to prevent skill from being the deciding factor.

Danny Garcia (21-0, 14 KOs) vs. Kendall Holt (27-4, 15 KOs), 12 Rounds, Junior Welterweights

This is your classic crossroads fight, an unbeaten but relatively untested prospect against a veteran ex-titleholder fighting to remain in the picture. And it’s as even a matchup as you’ll find. On top of that, Garcia is promising a brawl.

“He’s supposed to be one of the hardest punchers. I think I’m one of the hardest punchers,” the 23-year-old Philly fighter said. “So it’s going to be an all-out fight.”

The 30-year-old Holt is fresh off a contender for Knockout of the Year in which he iced Julio Diaz in the third round with a spectacular body-head double left hook combo. Holt has also been on the receiving end of a stoppage in three of his four defeats, which means there’s a high likelihood this one ends with someone on the canvas. The question is who that someone will be.

Paulie Malignaggi (29-4, 6 KOs) vs. Orlando Lora (28-1-1, 19 KOs), 10 Rounds, Welterweights

Photo Credit: Will HartIt seems like Malignaggi has been around forever, but he’s still only 30 years old and looking to make one more push in a new division with a new promoter. One look at “The Magic Man’s” record tells you how he fights: With six knockouts among 29 victories, he’s all about speed and slickness (plus the ability to take a hard punch, even if he can’t deliver one).

Mexico’s Lora is the question mark. He’s never faced anyone with Malignaggi’s pedigree. The limited amount of film on Lora reveals that he’s a solid, steady boxer with a consistent jab—but if Malignaggi is still Malignaggi, then solid, steady, and consistent don’t figure to be enough.