HBO Boxing Podcast: Ep. 141 - Remembering Aaron Pryor

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney reflect on the life and career of Hall Of Fame boxer and light welterweight champion Aaron "The Hawk" Pryor.

Boxing Podcast: Ep. 140 - Hall of Fame Ballot, Upcoming Fights

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney discuss a variety of topics -- some boxing-related, some not -- including the International Boxing Hall of Fame ballot, some recently announced junior lightweight fights, and a certain popular HBO show.

Boxing Podcast: Ep. 139 - Top 10 Breakthrough Performances

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney offer their top 10 breakthrough performances in HBO Boxing history.

Lomachenko vs. Walters set for Nov. 26 on HBO WCB

Vasyl Lomachenko is coming off a knockout victory over Roman Martinzez. Photo: Will Hart

Vasyl Lomachenko is coming off a knockout victory over Roman Martinzez. Photo: Will Hart

Two of boxing's hardest hitters will slug it out when two-division world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko defends his World Boxing Organization junior lightweight title against undefeated former world featherweight champion Nicholas "Axe Man" Walters. Lomachenko vs. Walters takes place Saturday, Nov. 26, at The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.  It will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:35 p.m. ET/PT.  

"Boxing fans will be able to spend their Thanksgiving holiday weekend feasting on the year's most anticipated showdown," said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum.  "Forget their weight class.  With more than three-quarters of their victories coming by way of knockout, they punch and win like heavyweights.  We know how the fight is going to end.  The question is, which fighter will end it?"     

Known for his aggressive style, hand speed and staggering punch combinations, Ukraine's Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KOs) has quickly ascended the boxing ranks to become one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. In June 2016, Lomachenko moved up a weight class to challenge Roman Martinez for the 130-pound title at Madison Square Garden. Hi-Tech outclassed Martinez en route to a devastating fifth-round knockout victory -- he outlanded the Puerto Rican 87 to 34, per CompuBox -- winning the title to become the fastest boxer to claim a world title in two weight divisions.

"I want to thank HBO and Bob Arum for giving me this opportunity to test myself in the fight with the best," said Lomachenko. "Walters, you are next on my list."

Walters (26-0-1, 21 KOs), from Montego Bay, Jamaica, has won 11 of his last 14 fights by stoppage. A former amateur standout who collected gold medals at the 2007 Pan American Games Qualifier III and the 2005 and 2007 Caribbean Championships, Walters is known for his expert boxing skills, movement and two-fisted punching power. In his last fight, on Dec. 19, 2015, Walters moved up to the junior lightweight division and took on top-10 contender Jason Sosa, who entered the fight riding a 17-bout unbeaten streak. Walters and Sosa fought to a controversial majority draw in a bout where most observers had Walters winning by a wide margin.

"Any fighter can be knocked out no matter who he is," said Walters.  "I like fighting the best and I like fighting against great technical fighters like Lomachenko.  Look at what happened when I fought a great technical fighter like Nonito Donaire.  Lomachenko is great, he knows what he is doing in the ring.  But I always look for a knockout against whomever I fight.  If I can do it quick, I will.  This is the best fight out there in boxing today. It will be the Fight of the Year."

Still Standing: The Story of Hopkins vs. Trinidad

Photo: Will Hart

Photo: Will Hart

HBO Boxing commemorates the 15th anniversary of Bernard Hopkins vs. Felix Trinidad with a special web feature and HBO Boxing Podcast dedicated to the historic fight.

The podcast, which includes interviews with more than a half-dozen of the key players involved in the bout -- including Hopkins, HBO Boxing broadcaster Jim Lampley and many more -- serves as an extensive oral history of one of the sport's most memorable fights.

"Fifteen years ago, one future Hall of Famer established his greatness, while another had his run to boxing immortality cut short. And it happened just 18 days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, just three miles from Ground Zero, at Madison Square Garden, in the first major sporting event in Manhattan after the towers fell. In the shadow of 9/11, sanctioned savagery shared the spotlight with recovery from America’s darkest hour, and the result was one of the most dazzling individual performances the sport of boxing has ever seen."  

Read the full story here.

 Listen to the podcast here.

HBO Boxing Podcast: Ep. 137 - Canelo vs. Smith Postfight

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney discuss Canelo Alvarez's knockout victory over Liam Smith on Sept. 17 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Canelo Chops Down Challenge from Brave Smith

Photos: Will Hart

By Kieran Mulvaney

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Liam Smith staggered backward, dropped to his knees and rolled to his back, his face contorted in agony. He lifted his knees as if to squeeze out the pain, but to no avail. His effort had been resolute and determined, but guts and desire proved no match for the strength and skill of Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez, who broke Smith down over the best part of nine rounds with an impressively varied arsenal of punches before ending the contest with a picture-perfect left hook below the ribcage that sent Smith to the canvas for a third and final time in an absorbing junior middleweight battle.

Smith (23-1-1, 13 KOs), from Liverpool, England, arrived in Texas as the defending champion, but this was the Canelo Alvarez show from beginning to end. The great majority of the 51,240 fans who filled AT&T Stadium – surpassing the attendance for either of Manny Pacquiao’s bouts here in 2010 – were cheering for the Mexican; and for virtually the entirety of the fight, the Mexican gave them plenty to cheer about.

From the outset, Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs), not normally known as a fast-starting, high-output or especially fleet-fisted fighter, began brightly, throwing combinations that sought to both pierce and bring down Smith’s high guard. His left hook and uppercut in particular found a home in an opening round in which Smith did little except take stock of the situation and settle in.

The Englishman showed some more verve in the second, working behind a stiff jab and right hand and backing Canelo to the ropes. But Alvarez showed a smart defense – parrying and slipping the bulk of what Smith threw at him – as well as a succession of hooks and uppercuts that kept Smith on the back foot. Alvarez later claimed to have hurt his right hand in that second round, and certainly he loaded up on left hands for much of the rest of the fight.

A series of lefts thudded against Smith’s ribcage and head to start the third, and then a rare right snuck behind Smith’s guard to wobble the champion, before Alvarez launched a titanic left uppercut that whistled past Smith’s face.

Slowly but surely, however, Smith was working his way into the contest, standing up to Canelo’s blows and walking forward behind a stiff jab. In the fifth and sixth rounds, Canelo’s punch output dipped and the Mexican began to show signs of fatigue. Smith, bullying Alvarez to the ropes, threw short left hooks of his own and glancing rights that Alvarez mostly slipped but that were starting to land with greater frequency. Alvarez sought to counter off the ropes, but the fight was now being fought on the Briton’s turf, at close range and with a premium on strength over skill. Still, Smith was paying the price for his effort and when he returned to his corner after the sixth, blood was streaming from a cut over his right eye.

It would get worse in the seventh for Smith. Canelo was beginning to time Smith’s mauling attack with greater precision, and as the champion pressed forward, the Mexican landed a pair of body shots and then a right hand that dropped Smith on to his back. He comfortably beat the count and was fighting back hard by the bell, but a corner had been turned.

Smith was down again in the eighth, and this time his visit to the canvas presaged the ultimate conclusion. A close-quarters Smith assault on the ropes was met with a sequence of fast right uppercuts and then a wicked left hook that caused Smith to back up, briefly take stock of the situation, grimace and then drop to one knee. Somehow, he gathered himself to walk forward again, but Alvarez was perfectly comfortable now and merely biding his time, waiting for the right opportunity. It came in the ninth with as good a left hook to the body as a fighter could possibly hope to throw, and with 2:28 gone in the round, referee Luis Pabon looked at the fallen Liverpudlian and, realizing he would not beat the count, waved the contest to a halt.

“Liam Smith was a resilient fighter, he was tough, has a lot of heart,” said Alvarez afterward. “He thinks before he attacks, I could tell in the way he blocked in the way he approached me. The body shot was what I focused on, making sure I worked his body down, and that is what secured the victory today.”

Smith, despite being cast as the underdog, had never accepted the role, and was crestfallen in defeat.

“Canelo was too good today,” he admitted. “I needed better timing, my timing was off tonight. If I would have waited a little longer and gotten more experience I would have been able to fight a guy like that better. I am very disappointed.”


Monroe Jr., Diaz, De La Hoya Win on Canelo-Smith Undercard

Photos: Will Hart

By Kieran Mulvaney

ARLINGTON, Texas - For all the sound and fury that had accompanied its build-up, Saturday’s co-main event between middleweights Willie Monroe Jr. and Gabriel Rosado turned out to be something of a damp squib. For reasons not entirely clear to anyone other than himself, Rosado had taken personal exception to Monroe, to the extent that he was unable to restrain himself from shoving his rival at Friday’s weigh-in. But when it came time to put his gloved fists where his mouth was, he was unable to do so, and Rosado (23-10, 13 KOs) dropped a unanimous decision win after huffing and puffing his way ineffectually through 12 rounds.

The big difference in the contest was that one man fought – or, more accurately, boxed – the way he chose to do, while the other was unable to fight the way he wanted to. Monroe, who styles himself “The Mongoose,” crouched and watched and waited for Rosado to make his move, before popping him with southpaw jabs and straight lefts. After a relatively close and uneventful opening few rounds, the bout devolved into nine fairly clear-cut and uneventful rounds, as Rosado displayed endless herky-jerky action to little effect while Monroe (21-2, 6 KOs) took the concept of economy of motion to an extreme. The crowd hated it, and didn’t seem enthralled with the scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 118-110 in Monroe’s favor. But while it was far from entertaining, Monroe’s approach was certainly effective and worthy of the win. Whether it will secure him the bout with Canelo Alvarez that was theoretically on the cards is, however, another matter.

Undefeated featherweight Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. didn’t exactly set the crowd alight at AT&T Stadium – most of them were far more interested in continuing a sustained version of the wave while he was in the ring – and chances are he didn’t make too much of an impression on the audience watching at home, either. But he certainly made an impression on the face of Andrew Cancio, which was bloodied and battered throughout the match until referee Gregorio Alvarez stepped in to call a halt to the contest at 2:27 of the ninth of 10 scheduled rounds. Cancio (17-4-2, 13 KOs) barreled forward for much of the first half of the bout; however, Diaz, a 2012 Olympian, was always in control, even when his back was to the ropes and Cancio was attempting to bludgeon him up close. Even relatively early in his career, Diaz (22-0, 12 KOs) is a masterful boxer, if not an especially explosive one, and he was able to slip and parry much of Cancio’s incoming while countering with sharp shots of his own. As the bout wore on, Cancio wore down, and Diaz stepped forward and began unleashing more punches in succession. Piece by piece, Diaz was taking Cancio apart with surgical precision, and Cancio had no complaints with the stoppage.

Junior featherweight prospect Diego De La Hoya – cousin of Hall-of-Fame boxer Oscar De La Hoya – took a step up in class against Puerto Rico’s Luis Orlando del Valle and passed his test with flying colors, scoring a wide unanimous decision victory to remain undefeated. De La Hoya (16-0, 9 KOs) was consistently quicker with his punches, particularly an effective jab and left hook, and knocked del Valle back into the ropes at the end of the fifth and the beginning of the sixth with short, sharp counters. He eased up over the final few rounds, contenting himself with circling and potshotting as del Valle (22-3, 16 KOs) sought to up the tempo, before finishing with a furious closing flurry at the end of the 10th. The scores of 100-90 and 99-91 (twice) accurately reflected an impressively dominant performance for De La Hoya.