DSH's Weekly Boxing Notebook: Pacquiao on weight already for Algieri, Bernard Hopkins amazes

October 24, 2014

For anyone who thought eight-division champion and WBO welterweight belt holder Manny Pacquiao might be overlooking his next opponent, WBO junior welterweight champ Chris Algieri, those thoughts should be quickly to put to rest after seeing his media workout today in his General Santos City gym.  Pacquiao surprised many by already making weight several weeks before fight night.

“Weight has never been an issue for Manny.  But to have him make weight four weeks in advance of a fight is incredible – even for him,” exclaimed trainer Freddie Roach as Manny showed off his washboard abs to everyone with a camera.  “He is so motivated for his fight with Algieri.  The way Manny is training he could fight for his own and Algieri’s title on November 22!"

Roach went on to discuss the matchup, focusing particularly on his fighter's height disadvantage.

“Being in the ring with someone as tall as Algieri may be unusual for Manny but it is far from intimidating.  Sparring partners Viktor Postal, the undefeated WBC No. 1 super lightweight contender, Stan Martyniouk and Mike Jones are more than preparing Manny for his upcoming title defense.  If Algieri’s camp was seeing what I’m seeing here they would be adding worry beads to the collection of power stones they wear."

Perhaps in subtle jab at Floyd Mayweather, Roach dropped this final nugget.

“One thing about Manny, he loves turning undefeated fighters into once-defeated fighters.  I expect this fight with Algieri to be one of Manny’s finest hours.”

A Little Perspective on Boxing Legend Bernard Hopkins' Longevity

Virtually every professional athlete born in 1965 has one thing in common - retirement from professional sports. The only exception is current IBF and WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Bernard Hopkins. On November 8, just two months shy of his 50th birthday, Hopkins will defend his titles against WBO Light Heavyweight World Champion Sergey Kovalev at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

At a time when most athletes his age have seen their skills fade and have long since walked away from their respective sports, Hopkins continues to flourish at the top of his profession.  After nearly 25 years, in arguably the most physically demanding of all sports, Hopkins defies retirement by continuing to defeat and outbox fighters that are many years his junior.

Born on January 15, 1965, Hopkins will be stepping into the ring next month for his 64th professional bout. On that night Hopkins will attempt to break his own astonishing record, again, becoming the oldest champion in the history of major sports to win a world title.

To appreciate Hopkins' unbelievable, age-defying accomplishments, one should consider where other notable athletes born in 1965 are today.

Former undisputed World Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis was born on September 2, 1965. Lewis last fought professionally in 2003 when he stopped Vitali Klitschko. In 2004, he retired.  More than a decade after Lewis' last professional bout, Hopkins is still fighting.

Pro Football Hall of Fame member and former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Rod Woodson, was born on March 10, 1965. Woodson, who made an impressive 11 Pro Bowls over his 16-year NFL career, elected to hang up the cleats in 2003.

Another NFL Hall of Famer, Cris Carter, was born on November 25, 1965. Carter, who was elected to the NFL 1990's All-Decade Team, was an eight-time Pro Bowl player.  After 15 seasons in the NFL, Carter played his last professional game in 2002.

Former MLB standout Craig Biggio was born on December 14, 1965. The seven-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner, played an astounding 19 seasons in the majors, all of them with the Houston Astros. Biggio played his last professional game in 2007.

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member David Robinson, one of the NBA's most dominating forces over the last half-century, was born on August 6, 1965. The 10-time NBA All-Star, two-time NBA Champion, two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner, and 1995 NBA MVP was a prolific force in the paint with the San Antonio Spurs.  He too has retired, playing his last professional game in 2003.

Another NBA Hall of Fame inductee, Scottie Pippen, was born on September 25, 1965. During his 16 seasons in the NBA, Pippen amassed six NBA Championships, two Olympic Gold Medals, and an NBA All-Star Game MVP. Pippen was selected as an NBA All-Star seven times, and during the 1996-1997 season he was dubbed one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. He played his last professional game in 2008.

Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Mario Lemieux is widely considered one of the greatest NHL players of all time. Lemieux was born on October 5, 1965. He earned three NHL MVP awards, two Stanley Cup titles, and six Art Ross Trophies as the league's leading scorer. Lemieux laced up his skates professionally for the last time in 2006.

Despite the greatness and longevity these star athletes have exhibited throughout their playing careers, and all of the titles and awards they have won, they all have retired.  None continue to compete professionally today, especially not at a championship level.

Bernard Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev Bout Has Intriguing Undercard

On November 8, all eyes will be ringside when the ageless wonder Bernard Hopkins attempts to unify the light heavyweight world title against Sergey Kovalev, but before the main event an array of contenders and prospects will showcase their skills on the undercard.

France's Nadjib Mohammedi (35-3, 21 KOs), 29, turned professional in 2005 and will be having his second consecutive fight on U.S. shores. The WBA Continental and French champion at 175 pounds, Mohammedi is ranked number one in the world by the IBF, fourth by the WBA, and eighth by the WBO, giving him every reason to watch the November 8 main event should he get by Kansas City southpaw Demetrius Walker (7-7-1, 4 KOs) in their 10-round matchup.

Another top contender attempting to make his case for a world title shot, Ukrainian heavyweight Vyacheslav "Czar" Glazkov (18-0-1, 11 KOs) is a 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist in search of world championship gold in the coming year. Currently ranked number two in the world by the IBF and number eight by the WBC, the 30-year-old owns wins over Tomasz Adamek, Derric Rossy, and Tor Hamer, and on November 8, he will face off with Miami's Darnell "Ding-A-Ling-Man" Wilson (25-17-3, 21 KOs).

Unbeaten light heavyweight Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (10-0, 8 KOs) is a former world champion in kickboxing who is now climbing up the 175-pound division in boxing after a lengthy amateur career. The 27-year-old power puncher will have his first 10-round bout when he faces San Juan, Puerto Rico's Emil Gonzalez (11-8-1, 8 KOs).

In addition, southpaw William Gonzalez (27-5, 23 KOs) returns to the ring next month to take on Philadelphia's Eric "The Outlaw" Hunter (18-3, 9 KOs) in a 10-round featherweight bout.  Also, Cuba native Sullivan Barrera (13-0, 8 KOs), 32, is looking to make up for lost time after a late start in pro boxing, and he will look to move a step closer to title contention in his eight-round light heavyweight bout against Altamonte Springs, Florida's Rowland Bryant (18-3, 12 KOs).  He has amateur wins over the likes of former world champions Chad Dawson and Beibut Shumenov.

Andy Lee-Matt Korobov bout added to undercard of Tim Bradley-Diego Chavez Main Event

The upcoming Timothy Bradley-Diego Chaves 12-round welterweight rumble taking place Saturday, December 13, inside The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has added another world title fight to its stellar card.  Already on the card was an intriguing WBA Interim Super Lightweight World Championship bout between Mauricio Herrera and Jose Benavidez Jr.

Now top-rated contenders Matt Korobov and Andy Lee will battle for the vacant WBO World Championship.  The tripleheader will be televised live on HBO.

"Andy Lee is legitimately one of the best middleweights in the world and he will prove that when he defeats Matt Korobov,” said promoter Lou DiBella.  “Korobov-Lee is an evenly matched fight that is sure to bring fireworks.  December 13 will be a great night for boxing fans."

Lee (33-2, 23 KOs), who at 6’2, is three inches taller than Korobov, was born in London but is Irish of heritage.  Ireland’s sole boxing representative in the 2004 Olympics, Lee made his professional debut in 2006, winning a six-round decision over Anthony Cannon.  Trained at the famed Kronk Gym in Detroit by the late Hall of Fame inductee Emanuel Steward, who referred to Lee as “my left-handed Tommy Hearns,” Lee possesses good skills, speed, and movement, complemented by good punching power and experience against quality opposition.

Lee enters this fight riding a two-year, five-bout winning streak since losing to Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. in 2012.  In his last fight, on June 7, Lee knocked out once-beaten John Jackson (18-1, 15 KOs) in the fifth round.  Lee is world-rated No. 4 by the WBO.

Korobov (24-0, 13 KOs), a 2008 Russian Olympian and stellar amateur, made his long-awaited HBO debut in his last fight which took place on June 28.  In a battle of undefeated contenders, Korobov won a unanimous decision over Jose Uzcategui (22-0, 18 KOs), to capture the WBO Inter-Continental Middleweight title. Uzcategui had stopped 10 of his 11 previous opponents before that.

Now based in St, Petersburg, Fla., Korobov, a six-year veteran of the pro ranks, enters this fight having won three of his last five fights by knockout, including a sixth-round stoppage of Emil Gonzalez on April 16.  Korobov is currently world-rated No. 1 by the WBO.

This Week's Quotes

Bernard Hopkins: I must prove, and I will prove that this is not some promotional hype job. This is something that's been said about Bernard Hopkins for years and years. He can take care of himself, he can box as long as he wants, and he ruined careers. So, I'm up to bat in a couple of weeks, I'm going to be up to bat again, and just enjoy it. Enjoy it. Enjoy it because you might never see it in our lifetime.

Pacquiao Trainer FREDDIE ROACH:  We have had a great training camp so far with the workouts with Manny.  Last time we began with four rounds and this time my first day in camp we went 12 rounds and Manny wasn’t even breathing.  We have had a great start, probably the best start we have ever had and sparring has been going very well – we have over 35 rounds of sparring in so far and we have some great sparring partners (Viktor) Postol the number one contender in the world, Mike Jones who is a big 147-pounder, and Stan Martyniouk, from San Francisco.  All the guys are tall and I think some guys are better than our opponent, but we will see very soon.

FREDDIE ROACH on Algieri:  He is a pretty good mover.  He moves pretty well and he is very defensive.  He has a good jab – one of the best in h business -- and he has a good left hand.  His jab is his best weapon and it is something that we have to really take care of.

MANNY PACQUIAO on playing basketball:  It does not affect my training because basketball is on Sunday and we do not train on Sunday.  Basketball is also good for footwork and balancing.  It helps a lot and that is why I am always in shape when I don’t have a fight because I am always playing basketball.  Basketball provides me with great cross-training

Promoter BOB ARUM on Pacquiao playing a pro basketball game:  Well, I found out that he was playing before he played and I was not a very happy camper.  Professional basketball, no matter the country where it is played, is a rugged sport and a player can turn an ankle very, very easily.  These players in the NBA are fantastic physical specimens and yet they get injured all the time.  An injury would have really wreaked havoc on the fight so I was not very pleased, but everyone has assured us – Manny has assured Freddie and Freddie has assured me that that’s it.  After he does the fight on November 22nd, if he wants to try out for the New York Knicks, that’s OK with me.

FREDDIE ROACH on Manny's sparring partners:  We brought in some big sparring partners – Mike Jones is a really big puncher and so forth and Manny is doing really well with him and he’s hurt him a couple times in camp and he’s shown good power so far and he has shown the intensity that I want.  When he hurts somebody he opens up on them and finished him.  I told him if we hurt a sparring partner we just get another one.  Training camp has been going really well and we have great sparring partners for this fight.

FREDDIE ROACH on Manny's improvement:  His conditioning and training is going very good and training here in General Santos makes things real comfortable and we have a really nice gym here and his family is here and his home is here so I think he is really at ease with it because he doesn’t have to worry about his family.  We have great sparring partners.  This is the best group of sparring partners we have EVER had and they are going to be getting him on top of his game.

Bernard Hopkins on Kovalev's statement that he has no particular strategy:
Well, that is the strategy. He gave it to you already. The strategy, he just gave it to you. Having no strategy is a strategy. Kovalev feeds off of what you do and how you react to him. If you're scared he's going to get brave. If you're not he's got to sharpen up and get his stuff together. Some fighters are like that. I'm not. So, I can understand that comment. I've been around so long I can read these guys without even them speaking their mind, I understand just by their fighting style or how they fight how they think and what they're thinking about. Your reaction is how he reacts.

My thing is, I don't want to take away from what's going to happen, but he actually told you the truth, because I understand what he means when he said that to you. He feeds off the energy of the fighters he has fought, in the amateurs, and also in the pros. I've been watching this guy, I dug up amateur fights of this guy, and I know how he breathes, I know how he sits down, I know where he sits down, what he thinks, I know everything about him.

FREDDIE ROACH on sparring partner Postol:  Postol’s got a great jab and he’s tall, taller than Algieri and he’s rated No. 1 – a legitimate No. 1.  He’s very smart.  I see Manny having a little trouble with him and it’s more of a thinking match out there – he’s the right guy at the right time.  He really makes Manny think which is what Algieri will do also and that’s what we’re getting ready for.

Bernard Hopkins, on whether he is in the "Best Fighter Ever" discussion:
The best fighter ever is Sugar Ray Robinson. To me the best fighter after that is Muhammad Ali, and then the debate starts from on and on from there. My job is to go out and set a profound legacy that will be debated amongst generations where Bernard Hopkins sits in history. Maybe it needed to be a different title, or will be a different title started because of what I'm doing. Maybe I will be the first, and anybody else that accomplished that as years go and I'm dead in my grave will be after that.

But right now I'm going to stack that deck so high that every reporter, every historian, everybody that studies boxing and analyzes boxing from the past to now is going to have a difficult time, and that's the fun part about it, because I want them to have a difficult time because I didn't have a boring career and I was blessed to have a long one. I don't know. I'm not a fool. Like some fighters would say, well, I'm greater than this man, I'm greater than that man, because there's no 15 rounds, I wish there still was.

I would not take myself out of the conversation as one of the best that has ever done it, but I definitely would never say I'm the best. That's up for debate amongst history.

By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services

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