Elite Boxers Mingle as HBO Takes Over Hollywood

by Kieran Mulvaney

Photo by Trevor McNeal - HBO Boxing

As he climbed the stairs, Gennady Golovkin spied Adonis Stevenson and made a beeline directly for him, prompting onlookers to hold their collective breath. Then the middleweight champion smiled, the light heavyweight title holder extended his hand, and the two men hugged and posed for photos.  

Also posing for photos were Ruslan Provodnikov and Mike Alvarado, two junior welterweights who on October 19 will be swapping furious punches, but on this evening were breaking bread over dinner with several of their fellow pugilists.

The following day, Stevenson walked onto a Hollywood sound stage just as Mikey Garcia was preparing to leave. “You’re going to have fun,” the undefeated former featherweight champ said through a smile. “I hope you like getting wet.”

As he said that, the halls echoed with the sounds of Provodnikov bellowing "Champion!" while posing beneath a simulated rain shower. Terence Crawford and Yuriorkis Gamboa took turns jumping rope for the camera, while on the next stage, Juan Manuel Marquez worked a heavybag as shutters clicked.

Such was the scene at a studio space in Hollywood this week during a promotional shoot to showcase the latest class of HBO boxing talent ahead of a packed fall and winter schedule of fights. And when the boxers weren’t being put through their paces by the photo and video teams, they were sitting down for interviews. HBO Latino was on site. So was ESPN. And so was HBO.com, taking the opportunity to enjoy some quiet time with the cream of the network’s boxing talent.

Stevenson shared with us just how much his late trainer, Emanuel Steward, meant to him. Nonito Donaire revealed that he is learning to play the piano and spending more time pursuing his childhood love of painting. Provodnikov explained how boxing saved his life, and discussed his love of Russian poetry. Gamboa revealed a spiritual side to his personality that he admitted might be a surprise to fans and detractors alike. Both Crawford and Golovkin told us they love to fish. Garcia explained that, despite growing up in a boxing family, his involvement in and embrace of the sport happened relatively late in life. Alvarado smiled as he described his desire to “excite the world.”

The theme of the promotion – which will air later this year – is an invitation to scratch the superficial surface and explore what lies beneath. The fighters themselves—all consummate mensches— helped make that happen during the shoot, as they opened up and shared their thoughts on boxing and life. The result will be a series of blogs and features that we will run over the coming weeks and months, as the boxing schedule kicks into high gear. In the meantime, enjoy this gallery of behind-the-scenes photos, to give you a sense of the atmosphere as HBO’s boxing stars invaded Hollywood.

Photos by Trevor McNeal / HBO Boxing

Stevenson Launches New Kronk Era with One Punch

by Kieran Mulvaney

Adonis Stevenson - Photo: Ed Mulholland

Boxing can be like a game of concussive chess, a cerebral challenge as much as a physical confrontation, two men laying and avoiding traps and adapting to changes in strategy over 12 three-minute rounds.

Or it can be shockingly abbreviated and violently conclusive, with one punch sufficient to end proceedings with whiplash rapidity.

In Montreal on Saturday night it was the latter. Chad Dawson was relieved of his light-heavyweight crown by Adonis Stevenson a mere 76 seconds after the bell rang to begin the contest. It's entirely possible that some of the multitude who, as is the case these days, filled the ring to capacity during Michael Buffer's opening orations had not even reached their seats before it was time for them to turn around and clamber back between the ropes again.

Read the Complete Chad Dawson vs. Adonis Stevenson Fight Recap on HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: Gamboa vs. Perez

by CompuBox
Darleys Perez, Yuriorkis Gamboa - Photo: Ed Mulholland

A generation ago, long layoffs were considered poison to boxers. "To rest is to rust," went the credo. But starting with Sugar Ray Leonard's incredible return against Marvelous Marvin Hagler and continuing with Vitali Klitschko and Floyd Mayweather Jr., that conventional wisdom has been turned on its head.

Former two-belt featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa hopes to emulate their success, for on Saturday he will be fighting for just the second time since September 2011 (and the first time in seven months). The opponent is 28-0 Colombian Darley Perez, whose last fight was a day less than three months ago (W 8 Julio Camano) and who is fighting for the sixth time since September 2011.

Is fresher better or time off mean better timing? The two philosophies will butt heads on Saturday and their respective CompuBox profiles offer these clues as to who might emerge victorious:

 

 

Is Yuriorkis Gamboa Too Good for His Own Good?

by Hamilton Nolan

Yuriorkis Gamboa may be the most talented boxer in the world. Not the most polished boxer; he throws punches in a blur of curvature in which jabs, hooks, and crosses become misnomers. Not the craftiest boxer either; he tends to spend the greater part of most fights with his hands down, goading his opponent out of sheer boredom. But for pure, otherworldly talent -- unapproachable speed, knockout power, overwhelming combination punching, sublime footwork -- there is no one on earth more blessed than Gamboa. Now if he could only figure out how to turn that talent into a decent career.

Let us very briefly get the pedigree of "El Ciclon de Guantanmo" out of the way: a 2004 Olympic gold medal. Multiple Cuban national championships. A defection to America, followed by a 22-0 pro record with 16 knockouts. Gamboa has been knocked down plenty of times, but it almost seems as though he’s so good that he takes stupid risks in the ring just to challenge himself. But he has never truly been challenged. And there lies the problem.

 

Promoters You Know and Fighters You Should Get To Know on the Pacquiao-Marquez Undercard

by Eric Raskin

Take the plastic off the furniture and bust out the fancy bean dip, because you have a couple of celebrity guests coming into the house for your pay-per-view party on December 8. Two stars known far better by their nicknames than their given names, 50 Cent and Snooki, are promoting fighters on the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez 4 undercard. But, as always, the boxers in action are the real stars of the show, and this undercard features a battle of unbeatens, a talent knocking on the door of the pound-for-pound list, some Filipino flavor, and even the pro debut of one of the most decorated American amateurs ever. That would be 20-year-old lightweight Jose Ramirez, who will open the show in a scheduled four-rounder. Here’s a look at the three 12-rounders that will follow:

Yuriorkis Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs) vs. Michael Farenas (33-3-4, 25 KOs), 12 Rounds, Junior Lightweights

Are you suffering from Gamboa withdrawal? It’s been 15 long months since the Cuban “Cyclone” kicked up dust in a prize ring, but he’s finally back and ready to show off his extraordinary combination of speed and power against Filipino southpaw Farenas. Gamboa sat on the shelf due to promotional squabbles, and his promotional status remains a major talking point because rapper 50 Cent is now officially the man guiding his career. This bout marks Fiddy’s promoting debut, and it marks the 31-year-old Gamboa’s first major fight at junior lightweight following an impressive run atop the featherweight division. Gamboa, whose 2010 defeat of Orlando Salido keeps looking better with the passage of time, is a healthy favorite over the unproven Farenas (who is trained by Pacquiao assistant Buboy Fernandez). But the Cuban also has a troubling tendency to find himself on the canvas, and with 25 knockouts among his 33 victories, Farenas can pop a little bit. Blink at your own peril.

Miguel Vazquez (32-3, 13 KOs) vs. Mercito Gesta (26-0-1, 14 KOs), 12 Rounds, Lightweights

Pacquiao and Farenas aren’t the only Filipino southpaws in action, as Gesta will get in on the fun in pursuit of his first pro title in what looks like a pick-’em fight against the crafty Mexican Vazquez. The 25-year-old Vazquez was viewed by some as the top dog in the lightweight division until a rocky outing against Marvin Quintero in October – which ended with Vazquez winning a split decision – socked his stock. He gets a chance at redemption against Gesta, who is also 25, hasn’t faced the level of competition that Vazquez has, but has shown flashes of potential on his way up. Vazquez is four inches taller at 5’11”, so expect the stocky challenger known as “No Mercy” to try to fight at close quarters and score with bodyshots and short uppercuts. This will come down to which man is able to dictate the style of the fight; the more action-packed it is, the better that will be for Gesta.

Javier Fortuna (20-0, 15 KOs) vs. Patrick Hyland (27-0, 12 KOs), 12 Rounds, Featherweights

New York-based Irishman Hyland has Snooki in his corner … and a “situation” in front of him. The 23-year-old Dominican Fortuna is one of boxing’s hottest prospects, particularly on the heels of his dazzling two-round destruction of veteran Cristobal Cruz this past July. He represents a major step up in class for Hyland who, despite having a Jersey Shore star for a promoter, is a relative unknown. But with two undefeated records on the line, Fortuna and Hyland might just produce a brawl that puts even the best Ronnie vs. Sammi fight to shame.

Settle the Score for Pacquiao-Marquez II

by Eric Raskin

Pacquiao-Marquez II ScorecardAs we build toward the fourth chapter in one of the most action-packed, closely contested rivalries boxing has ever known, HBO.com is re-playing the first three fights between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. It’s a chance to re-live the excitement—and re-score the bouts. The judges say the first fight was a draw and the next two belonged to Pacquiao. But you get a say as well. So watch, score, and tell us who you thought won these classic, controversial battles.

 

But first, print out your scorecard and read the below guide to re-watching Pacquiao-Marquez II:

In Short: In the most physically punishing battle of the trilogy, a third-round knockdown of Marquez keys a controversial split decision win for Pacquiao.

 

Crunching the Numbers: Though Pacquiao won the decision, the CompuBox stats favored Marquez. Pacquiao was busier, out-throwing his Mexican rival by a count of 619-511, but Marquez out-landed him 172-157, outscored him in power connects 130-114, and landed at a higher overall percentage, 34%-25%. The most eye-catching round in Marquez’s favor was the eighth, a stanza in which he out-landed Pac-Man 21-5. So what happens if you take that one-sided round out of the equation? Pacquiao out-landed Marquez 152-151 punches over the other 11 rounds. In other words, remove Marquez’s best round and it’s basically a dead-even fight. If you figure the knockdown Pacquiao scored during round three in some sense balances out Marquez’s dominant eighth round, then you can see why everyone agreed this fight was basically too close to call.

What Deserves a Second Look: The whole fight is worth watching again from an action perspective; these were two great champions, in their primes, dishing out a beating to one another. Both men landed at a higher percentage than in the first fight—another reason this could be considered the “best” fight of the rivalry. As you’re scoring the fight, pay particularly close attention to round six. That’s the one that Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, recently re-watched and admitted to the “24/7” cameras that his man probably lost, despite two of the judges scoring it for Pacquiao. Also, have fun rewinding and repeatedly re-watching the counter left from Pacquiao that dropped Marquez in the third round. It was a cleaner, harder punch than any of the left-hand shots he used to produce knockdowns in their first fight, and it’s a testament to Marquez’s conditioning and iron will that he recovered so quickly.

Scorecard Tips: Remember that scoring fights is not just punch counting. The impact of the punch matters. So, while determining the impact of a punch is often subjective, try to consider who seems to be hurting whom more in a given round. To paraphrase HBO’s Max Kellerman’s scoring philosophy, ask yourself which fighter you’d rather be at the end of the round, and that’s probably the guy who deserves 10 points. For more general scoring advice, check out our ‘How to Score a Fight’ primer with HBO’s unofficial judge, Harold Lederman. 

Pacquiao and Marquez Battle Again Over an Elusive Prize: Clarity

by Eric Raskin

Seven points. That’s what separates Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez through three fights. Seven points. Nine different judges scoring on the 10-point must system for a total of 36 rounds have given Pacquiao 1,024 points and Marquez 1,017. That means the average scorecard for any given bout of this rivalry has read 113.77-113 in Pacquiao’s favor.

And most observers would tell you it’s actually been closer than that.

In fact, a lot of observers would tell you that the minuscule difference in the scorecards favors the wrong fighter.

That’s the nature of the Pacquiao-Marquez rivalry, at least through three fights: No matter how hard both guys work to establish clear superiority, neither is able to achieve it. Each is the other’s Kryptonite. Pacquiao’s power, explosiveness, and all-around athleticism will always present danger to Marquez. Six times in the 2000s, Marquez has been on the canvas; four of those knockdowns came courtesy of Pacquiao. Meanwhile, Marquez’s ring intellect, counterpunching, and resilience will always leave Pacquiao somewhat handcuffed. After Pacquiao’s second bout with Marquez, for his next seven fights -- against superstars including Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, and Shane Mosley -- the Filipino legend looked untouchable. Then he fought Marquez again, and Pacquiao reverted back to being human.

Read the rest of the Pacquiao vs. Marquez 4 Overview on HBO.com.

Settle the Score for Pacquiao-Marquez I

by Eric Raskin

Pacquiao-Marquez I ScorecardAs we build toward the fourth chapter in one of the most action-packed, closely contested rivalries boxing has ever known, HBO.com is presenting the first three fights between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez over the next few weeks. It’s a chance to re-live the excitement--and re-score the bouts. The judges say the first fight was a draw and the next two belonged to Pacquiao. But you get a say as well. So watch, score, and tell us who you thought won these classic, controversial battles.

 

But first, print your scorecard and read the below guide to re-watching Pacquiao-Marquez I:

In Short: Pac-Man nearly scores a first-round blowout with three knockdowns, but Marquez earns a draw with a comeback for the ages.

 

Crunching the Numbers: The overall CompuBox numbers indicate the closeness of the fight, with Pacquiao a bit busier (a 639 to 547 edge in punches thrown), Marquez more accurate (a 29% to 23% edge in connect percentage), and the total number of connects almost identical (158 for Marquez, 148 for Pacquiao). Perhaps the most amazing stat is that, according to CompuBox, Marquez actually outlanded Pacquiao in the opening round! The Mexican hit the canvas three times, but went 13-for-40 on offense, whereas Pacquiao went just 11-for-73. Part of the problem for Pacquiao was that his right jab whiffed all 42 times he threw it. His straight left, however, did connect a few times, and three of those connects resulted in knockdowns.

What Deserves a Second Look: For starters, get a load of how one-dimensional Pacquiao was in 2004 as compared to now (this was before he developed a right hook). At the same time, spend the first three minutes of action admiring just how good that one dimension was. Over the next 11 rounds, watch how Marquez begins countering Pacquiao’s left hand. Notice how he controls the pace (Pacquiao’s punch output dips from 75 thrown per round in rounds one and two to just 40 per round over the final 10), works to the body, and gets in range to land his straight right hand, particularly in the fifth round. Most of all, keep in mind the guts of both fighters; what Marquez does over the last 10 rounds is astounding given what happened in the opener, but so too is Pacquiao’s continued ability to win rounds with sheer drive and tenacity after Marquez begins to “figure him out.”

Scorecard Tips: Each round needs to be assessed on its own individual merit. This was a fight that contained massive swings in momentum. But when you’re scoring, the momentum of the previous round doesn’t carry over. Start with a clean slate at the beginning of each three-minute stanza. For more general scoring advice, check out our ‘How to Score a Fight’ primer with HBO’s unofficial judge, Harold Lederman. 

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

Gamboa Stays Unbeaten

Photo: Ed Mullholland

It was the kind of fight where Yuriorkis Gamboa seemed to have one eye on his hard-hitting opponent, Daniel Ponce de Leon, and the other on his critics. In beating Ponce de Leon in a business-like 8th round technical decision, Gamboa appeared to work harder to demonstrate he was the kind of complete fighter who could one day challenge a Juan Manuel Marquez or Manny Pacquiao, than he did to put on a show worthy of his reputation. READ MORE...