DSH Boxing Notebook: Manny Pacquiao discusses his future plans, Bob Arum's 50th year in boxing

April 3, 2016

This week's version of The Daily Sports Herald's Boxing Notebook catches up with Manny Pacquiao prior to his fight with Tim Bradley, and also takes a look at promoter Bob Arum's fifty years in the sport. Check out the latest news in the sweet science:

Manny Pacquiao discusses Bradley, his shoulder, and the future

With his Hall of Fame career perhaps coming to a close this weekend, Manny Pacquiao recently spoke of his upcoming trilogy bout with Tim Bradley, and about his future as well.  Take a look:

Q:  Do you think Bradley will be different for this fight?  What has Freddie been telling you and what do you think it will it be?

PACQUIAO:  Bradley has a new trainer for this fight and a new game plan and I am very excited for that because we will see more action in the ring in this fight.

Q: In the first two fights he was avoiding your left hook.  Will you use it more this fight or less?

PACQUIAO:  Right now I have been working on my right hand and my right hook which is very good.  My left hand is still good, but my right shoulder is healed and that is good, because I can use it with real power.

Q: Freddie [Roach] said it took you longer to get in shape for this fight.  Is that because of the layoff or the shoulder?

PACQUIAO:  We had a lot of time to exercise for this fight.  We had a lot of time to train and all I can say is training camp was great and I am ready for the fight and everything is great.

Q: Do you feel like the layoff has helped you?

PACQUIAO:  That is one thing, it is good to have a long layoff in boxing – I feel fresh and new and I feel good now when I train every day.  I really enjoyed this training camp.

Q: Manny, in the two fights against Tim, which did you think you did better?  The one you lost or the one you won?

PACQUIAO:  I think the same.  I believe the same, because I won both.

Q: Which one were you happier with?

PACQUIAO:  The one that I won.

Q: Why was that one different or better?

PACQUIAO:  The difference was throwing a lot more punches.  To make sure I won every round to win the fight.

Q: You haven’t had a KO since 2009.  Is that something that weighs on your mind or frustrates you?  Or do you even think about it?

PACQUIAO:  Yes, I am thinking about that.  I have thinking about the last knockout that I had was in the Cotto fight and I believe the Margarito fight should have been stopped.  It was a long time ago.  I am thinking about it (the knockout) and that’s why I work hard.   Right now it is a good thing that I had a layoff – I feel excited and fresh in my body and I will try hard for it in this fight.

Q: Bob [Arum] mentioned you’ve had a torn rotator cuff since the De La Hoya fight.  Had you ever given consideration to having the surgery before since it has lingered for so long?

PACQUIAO:  That fight was in 2008, so it was long ago.  I still felt good and every time I rested the pain was gone.

Q: Was it the worst in the Mayweather fight and post-Mayweather?

PACQUIAO:  Yes, in the fourth round.  In the fourth round when I was throwing a lot of combinations.  I hurt it coming off of one of the combinations.

Q: Manny, do you think if you had the surgery earlier you would still be in the middle of this non-KO string?

PACQUIAO:  I am not sure.

With the long layoff, did it make you realize that you don’t need boxing anymore in your life?

PACQUIAO:  With the long layoff in boxing - I feel better right now – I feel fresh.  A long layoff is a good thing because I was able to spend more time with my family and concentrate on helping the Philippine people.

Q: Do you believe it is important for you to win this fight to carry momentum into your election back home?

PACQUIAO:  It is very important to get the win for my country and the people in the Philippines, but the most important thing is a win for my country and a win for my legacy in boxing.

Q: Do you think a win will help you in the election?


Q: It seems like you have been going back and forth regarding retirement.  We know you have said you want to pursue your political career full time to assist your countrymen.  Where do you stand on that right now?

PACQUIAO:  After this fight I have already said that my mind is to focus on my job.  If I win a Senate seat I have a big responsibility and I need to focus on that.  I cannot say right now that I am going to retire.  I don’t want to say that because I don’t know what the feeling is when you leave boxing.  I will give it great thought when I return home.

Q: So, you are going to have this fight, go back home and do your work and see what happens – and leave the door open?

PACQUIAO:  My mind right now says to retire, but we don’t know.

Q: Would you consider fighting in the Olympics?

PACQUIAO:  Yes, after this fight I am going back to the Philippines to do my job and if they allow me to fight in the Olympics – I am not going to say that I am going to fight or saying that I am not.  I am not closing the door and I am not committing to it – I am thinking about it.

Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, also put in his two cents about his prized pupil . . .

Q: Freddie, have you spoken about retirement with Manny following this fight?  What is your position?

ROACH:  We have talked about it a little bit.  He told me he’s going to retire and I told him I think he still has some more fights left in him if he wants and he did ask me about training if he goes into the Olympics, if they let the pros in the Olympics and I said of course I will.  That’s as far as we got.  We didn’t talk about any fights after this.  We are just concentrating on this fight right now.

Q: Freddie, have you given any thought about not having Manny around any longer as a fighter?

ROACH:  Of course, I will miss him.  We have been together for a long time and I will go to all of his birthday parties in the Philippines and we will be friends for life.

Q: Freddie, do you think if [Pacquiao] had the surgery earlier [he] would still be in the middle of this non-KO string?

ROACH:  I am not sure.  He was young enough to get through the injury.  We didn’t know it was a severe injury and we worked through it.  The thing is when he moved to 147 and fighting against guys that when they went into the ring weighed 160, the thing is, it’s tougher against the bigger guys.  He had a lot more knockouts at 140 and 135 of course but those guys were much smaller.  I think that had more of an effect than the injury.

Q: Do you expect Bradley to bang the shoulder early to see how healthy it really is?

ROACH:  No because I think he would be wasting his time.  He doesn’t have the injury right now.  We were working on it and it has been 100% great for this training camp.  The surgery went well and the rehab went well and Manny is 100% at this point.

Q: Freddie, Teddy Atlas trains fighters to be more aggressive, how does that play to you?

ROACH:  Well, if he will be more aggressive I will be happy for that.  If his fighter fights a little harder we will fight back.  Manny is ready for whatever he brings to the table.  We see the adjustments he is trying to make but once Manny hits him, he will revert back to what he does best.  I am not worried about Teddy Atlas, believe me.

Charles Martin and Anthony Joshua to clash for heavyweight belt

The IBF Heavyweight World Championship between undefeated American titlist Charles Martin and fellow unbeaten British Olympic Gold Medalist Anthony Joshua will air live on Showtime at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 9 from The O2 in London.

The scheduled 12-round matchup is the toughest test to date for both Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs) and Joshua (15-0, 15 KOs), two bombers who boast a combined 94 percent knockout ratio.

“I'm the Heavyweight Champion of the World, and that's why I have no problem traveling to England for my first title defense,” Martin said.  “I only want to fight the best, and I plan on knocking Anthony Joshua out and taking his fans and the belt back with me.”

The 6-foot-5 Martin won the IBF championship on Jan. 16 when Vyacheslav Glazkov suffered a knee injury in the third round of their vacant world title fight.  In capturing the IBF belt, Martin, of St. Louis, Mo., became just the sixth southpaw heavyweight champion in boxing history and the second current American heavyweight titlist.

While Martin has stopped his last 13 opponents and was the aggressor against Glazkov, the undefeated champ remains virtually untested. His first title defense and initial start outside the U.S., will take place at what is expected to be a pro-Joshua arena in London that sold out in just 90 seconds.  The 29-year-old Martin, who is trained by U.S. Olympian Henry Tillman in Big Bear, Calif., will be Joshua’s first professional southpaw opponent.

Joshua is looking forward to the challenge of fighting for the title on his home soil.

“The O2 is going to be rocking on April 9 and the U.S. fans are in for a treat when they see Charles and I clash,” Joshua said.  “Credit to him for coming over after calling me out, but he doesn’t know what he’s getting himself in for.  I am going to show all my power, all my speed and all my accuracy to put on the best display of my life and become the Heavyweight Champion of the World by knocking him out.  I’m delighted that fans in the U.S. will be able to witness it.”

Joshua had a standout amateur career that culminated with an Olympic Gold Medal at super heavyweight in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  Since turning professional in July 2013, the 6-foot-6 Joshua has steadily climbed through the ranks.

One of boxing’s most promising prospects, Joshua is coming off consecutive victories over previously undefeated opponents.  In his last bout, the 26-year-old was pushed past the third round for the first time in his career.  Joshua defeated Dillian Whyte via seventh-round knockout on Dec. 12.  Now, Joshua returns to The O2, the site of his professional debut and five of his 15 professional bouts, in a bid to join Tyson Fury as the second current reigning British heavyweight champion.

Joshua is also looking to become the sixth super heavyweight Olympic Gold Medalist to win a heavyweight world title.  If successful, he will join an impressive group that includes George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko.

The telecast also will include extensive highlights and analysis of the IBF Featherweight World Championship between defending titlist Lee Selby and American challenger Eric Hunter.  The Selby-Hunter bout will not be shown live.

“After a great experience in my first defense in Arizona against Fernando Montiel, it's nice to be back in front of my home fans at The O2 in London,” Selby said.  “It's going to be a crazy atmosphere with a 20,000 person sold-out arena.  Hunter has talked a lot of trash and I'm looking forward to showing him what it's like at the world championship level.  He's in for a shock.”

Born in Barry, Wales, Selby won his world title with a dominant technical decision over previously undefeated Evgeny Gradovich in May 2015.  The slick boxer made his first title defense in his U.S. debut last October, capturing a unanimous decision over former three-division champ Fernando Montiel.

The 29-year-old owns a slew of victories over previously unblemished fighters including Joel Brunker, Ryan Walsh, Viorel Simon, Corey McConnell and Stephen Smith.  He has won 18 straight since the lone blemish of his career, and six of his last eight victories came over previously undefeated opponents.

Hunter, who will take a four-fight win streak into his initial start outside the U.S., has always possessed an abundance of talent. Before turning pro, the Philadelphia native was an outstanding amateur and an alternate on the U.S. Olympic team.

The fast-handed 29-year-old has scored some solid victories as a pro, and his biggest enemy in a nine-year career has been himself – the switch-hitter doesn’t always keep his composure in check and allows his emotions get the best of him.  Two of Hunter’s three losses came by disqualification, the last coming via DQ in 2013 against Mike Oliver for hitting at the break.  The other came against Luis Franco in 2010, when he had a point deducted in the second and was DQ’d in the eighth after repeated low blows.

If Hunter can keep his hot head from getting him in trouble, he’s confident he can upset Selby and join Leo Santa Cruz and Gary Russell Jr. as U.S.-born world champion at 126 pounds.

“He’s got a belt I want, and that’s all I know about him,” Hunter said.  “My team knows more about him than I do.  It’s their job to come up with a game plan.  My job is train and get ready to perform my best.  I can adjust to anything in the ring.  I’m just here at the gym working my butt off to get the job done. I’m going to be more focused than I ever have been for this fight.”

James DeGale takes on Rogelio Medina on April 30

A three-fight series to crown a unified divisional champion will begin on Saturday, April 30, when WBC 168-pound champion Badou Jack defends his title against former longtime titlist Lucian Bute, and IBF Champion James DeGale risks his belt against mandated challenger Rogelio Medina in a Showtime doubleheader live (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) from the DC Armory in Washington D.C.

The winners will meet in a super middleweight world-title unification fight later this year.

Jack (20-1-1, 12 KOs) will make his second title defense after a breakthrough 2015 campaign in which he won the WBC belt from Anthony Dirrell and successfully defended against George Groves.  The 6-foot-1, 32-year-old has won four in a row since a shocking first-round knockout loss to Derek Edwards in February 2014.

“I’ve been training really hard for this fight and I’m excited to get in the ring,” said Jack. “I can’t wait to defend my title once again on April 30. The fans can expect to see an explosive and skillful performance from me come fight night. I believe I’m the best super middleweight in the world and that I have the skills to beat anyone I get in the ring with. I’m fully focused on Lucian Bute, but I know that a win can set up a massive fight against James DeGale and I’m going to deliver.”

The southpaw Bute (32-3, 25 KOs), a former IBF champion with nine defenses between 2007 and 2012, revived his career last November with a gutsy performance in a decision loss to DeGale.

“I’m thrilled to have this tremendous opportunity,” said Bute. “I was ringside for Badou Jack’s last two fights -- well deserved world title wins. He is a great champion. I plan to train hard and be in the best shape of my career on April 30. It’s my chance to win the WBC belt and become two-time world champion. I will win and give boxing fans a spectacular fight.”

DeGale (22-1, 14 KOs), 30, will make his second title defense after an impressive 2015 in which he defeated Andre Dirrell to win the vacant IBF belt and topped Bute in a Fight of the Year candidate.  The 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist's only blemish came in a majority decision in his 11th bout against then-unbeaten George Groves.  He will fight his third consecutive bout outside his native England as he looks to become a global power at 168 pounds.

“I am delighted to be defending my world title on another great show in the United States,” said DeGale. “I won my belt in style in Boston and I’m looking forward to moving down the East Coast to the great city of Washington, D.C. It’s going to be a defining night in the super middleweight division as Badou Jack and myself look to set up a huge fight later in the year. I’m fully focused on Rogelio Medina. He’s a tough Mexican who earned his title shot. But trust me, no one is getting my world title.”

The hard-hitting Medina (35-6, 29 KOs), the IBF’s mandatory challenger, has knocked out three consecutive opponents.

“This is such a great opportunity for me and I can’t wait to get in the ring,” said Medina. “I’ve worked so hard for this and I am going to make the most of it. Everyone who has seen me fight knows I leave it all in the ring and you can expect to see an all-out battle on April 30. I will be the new world champion.”

IBF Super Middleweight World Champion James DeGale recently held an open media workout in London as he prepares to make the second defense of his title against mandatory challenger Rogelio Medina.  Here is what he had to say:

  • “I’m too good for him, too fast, too strong, too quick.  I’ll beat him and it is just a question of how. I don’t care how it comes as long as I look good and I give the fans what they want, another winning performance and a reminder that I am the best super middleweight out there operating today."

  • “I respect Medina, but I belong in a different level and I will show that on April 30."

  • “I think Jack will win [against Bute], but I’ve been in the ring with Bute and I know how strong he is.  He is a proper fighter and I would always give him a chance against anyone.  I think Jack will be too good for him, but who knows?  I hope it is Jack as I’ve already taken care of business against Bute, but I want to unify the titles and that means I will fight whoever is put in front of me."

Promoter Bob Arum Celebrates 50 years in the business

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum's first promotion, which also happened to be the first fight he ever saw live.

March 29, 1966, was the date.  Maple Leafs Garden in Toronto, Canada, was the site.  Muhammad Ali versus George Chuvalo for the heavyweight championship of the world was the fight.  An Arumesque beginning, if ever there was one, for one of boxing’s most iconic promoter.

In a career that has spanned six decades, Arum has presented world championship events on every continent other than Antarctica.  And to paraphrase the slogan from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bob has promoted “more stars than there are in heaven.”

The media recently caught up to Arum, who had plenty to say about his latest event, Pacquiao-Bradley III:

ARUM:  This is a very interesting promotion as far as I’m concerned.  A lot of people are concentrating on the new and improved Tim Bradley.  Manny Pacquiao with his right arm now totally repaired – he has had that torn rotator cuff since before the De La Hoya fight.  A lot of athletes are able to perform well with a torn rotator cuff – a lot of pitchers in the major leagues are able to perform well with it.  Obviously now that it’s repaired, it is at full strength.  Freddie will tell you that Manny is hitting harder with the right hand – even harder than with the left hand, so he is now going to be a real two-handed fighter which is very interesting.

I think Tim Bradley’s big advantage is that he is going in with a game plan.  I don’t think he had much of a game plan in the first two fights but certainly Teddy has given him one.  I am very excited for my “NoTrump Undercard” with the young Hispanics contenders and I think it is resonating tremendously, particularly with the Hispanic community.  I’ve done dozens of radio interviews and television programs with the Hispanic media and there is a lot of excitement.

Q: How are tickets selling?

ARUM:  The Ticket situation is good.  It is about what it was last time that Manny fought Bradley.  There are approximately 2,00 tickets left and a lot of those will go in the last week.  They are selling at a very good clip so if we don’t sell out we will have at least 14,000 people in the arena on April 9.  I am still optimistic that they will all be gone by fight night.

Q: What is your aiming point for the pay-per-view?

ARUM:  I really think that we have a shot to go over 700,000.  I really think that Manny and Bradley will do most of the numbers, but let me tell you that my Hispanic army is marching out there and we are going to do a tremendous number from people, aside from the Pacquiao-Bradley numbers, that want to see these Hispanic stars in very, very important fights.  I am pretty confident that we will do over 700,000 with a little break here and there.  Maybe if Trump opens his mouth a little bit more we can go over 800,000.

Q: Bob, have you spoken about [retirement] with Manny?  What is your position?

ARUM:  Manny told me that he was going to retire after this fight, but I have been around this business for 50 years and a lot of fighters can’t walk away, so I am not advertising that this is going to be Manny’s last fight.  It could be but then it may not be.  He said he’s going back to run for Senate and if he becomes a Senator, he’ll have to decide whether to devote full time to the senate or he can work in a continuous boxing career.  But again, that is going to have to be something that’s he’s going to have to decide.  But one thing, for everyone on this line, I am not selling this fight as Manny’s last fight, so if he does come back after this fight – don’t say I deceived anyone.

Well, I look back on it, working with Manny, but I have been at this for a long time.  Fighters retire, but the life of boxing continues.  If Manny does retire, I’ll concentrate on Terence Crawford, Jessie Vargas and Gilberto Ramirez and Oscar Valdez and Jose Ramirez, Jesse Hart and a whole host of other guys, and Nonito Donaire.  So again, I will look back at it like when I promoted Muhammad Ali and George Foreman – that it has been a tremendous experience and I’m grateful for it but life goes on.  One thing is for sure – I ain’t retiring.  You are going to have me around for another 50 years.

Q: Bob, have you heard from anyone in the Trump organization regarding the undercard?

ARUM:  I don’t take their calls.

Q: What do you think about professionals fighting in the Olympics?

ARUM:  The idea that you will allow professional boxers into the Olympics, at this short notice, is absolutely insane.  The idea that Manny Pacquiao would face off with some 17 or 18 year old kid, who has no professional experience, is not only stupid, it’s dangerous.  These people ought to have their heads examined.  People say that professionals play basketball.  That’s true, but in basketball you can dunk over somebody, but it’s not a hurt game.  In boxing, if you put experienced pros in with rank amateurs there will be serious health consequences.  I don’t understand why they are now raising this issue.  It makes no sense to me.

Arum's final thoughts on the upcoming card . . .

ARUM:  I would like to make some observations.  I really believe that this third fight between Manny and Timothy will be by far the best of the three fights.  It will be very exciting and I believe that one way or another it is going to end in a knockout.

Also pay attention to the Arthur Abraham – Ramirez super middleweight world title fight.  If Ramirez wins that fight, he will be the first Mexican to win a world title in a weight class as heavy as super middleweight and he will be one of the future stars not only in Mexico, but all over the world in boxing.  Keep your eye on this kid, he’s 24, handsome, well spoken and fights well.  If he wins this fight and becomes a champion, he will be a big star.

As will Oscar Valdez if he can get by Gradovich.  Gradovich is a non-stop fighter and Valdez is a two-time Mexican Olympian and a real up and coming fighter.

Then there is my favorite, the farm worker.  His parents came to this country to work in the fields.  Jose Ramirez as a kid picked peppers in the fields at thirteen or fourteen years of age – he put himself through college, was a member of the U.S. Olympic boxing team – he fights his first ten round fight against Manny Perez, a very tough fighter from Denver.  Jose is a kid to really focus on.  He is a social activist.  He is a spokesperson for the Latino Water Coalition, for immigration rights – he is a kid that’s going to make a difference.

I am very excited about this entire card on April 9.  People are going to be tremendously entertained.  I am really putting myself out on the line to say that it will be a complete night of boxing of the best that boxing has to offer.

Still promoting as strongly as ever, fifty years later.

Orlando Salido-Francisco Vargas bout draws near 

WBC Super Featherweight World Champion Francisco Vargas (23-0-1, 17 KOs) and fellow Mexican warrior and former three-time world champion Orlando Salido (43-13-3, 30 KOs, 1 NC) hosted a Los Angeles press conference earlier this week to discuss their 12-round battle on June 4 for Vargas's title at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California.

The bout will be televised live on HBO.

Below is what the fighters had to say at the press conference:


"I'm going to be in the best shape in order to give you a war."

"Everybody knows when two great Mexican warriors get in the ring, not one of them will take a step back."


"I need to prepare myself for 'Fight of the Year.'"

Manuel Avila defeats Rene Alvarado by decision at LA Fight Club

Manuel Avila (20-0, 8 KOs) defeated Nicaraguan warrior Rene Alvarado (23-7, 16 KOs) via decision in an exciting 10-round featherweight bout at LA Fight Club from the Downtown Belasco Theater.

"I felt that the fight went in different stages in which he would win or I would win," said Avila of his victory. "I know I needed to work on my inside game and stick to the game plan. I'm excited to get back in the gym and hopefully 2016 will bring more action inside the ring for me."

Avila, a featherweight, was put to the test facing the seasoned Alvarado.  Avila initiated the action in the first few rounds as he aggressively came at Alvarado delivering quick combinations.  However, by the fifth round, Avila changed tactics, boxed Alvarado, kept his distance, and landed effective counter-punches.  The bout went all 10-rounds with scores of 97-93, 100-90, and 97-93, giving Avila the victory via unanimous decision.

"I felt that this decision was fair," said Rene Alvarado. "We are obviously in his house, but I felt that throughout the fight it was a very close match. I'm excited to go back to Nicaragua, and work on my technique. Hopefully, if given the opportunity I will come back and fight in Los Angeles."

In another bout, prospect Pablo "The Shark" Rubio Jr. (5-0, 3 KOs), who is represented by Los Angeles Laker's player, Metta World Peace, took on Juan Carlos Benavides (5-8-1, 2 KOs) in a scheduled four-round super bantamweight match-up. The match proved to be a bloody one, and by the last round, both fighters were looking to finish each other.  However, "The Shark" was at an advantage as his body punches began to physically hurt Benavides.

Judges scored the fight 39-37, 39-37, and 40-36 awarding Rubio a victory via split decision.

"Benavides was a tough guy, but I always train harder for these kinds of fights," said Pablo Rubio. "I need to step in and make sure to use my distance and be braver to land them. I am excited to be partners with Metta World Peace and we are looking forward to growing together in the business of boxing."

Glen Tapia believes added weight will help against David Lemieux

Glen Tapia recently spoke to the media about his upcoming fight with David Lemieux.  Here is what he had to say:

Tapia on his recent struggles:

"I've been in the gym since, like, I didn't fight in 10 months.  I've been in the gym for, like, nine months working, working, working, understanding it was a mistake.  It was a diet issue.  It was something that really happened during that fight.  So people look at me like I was weak or whatever.  It was because I really had to lose like 13 pounds, 14 pounds in two days.

Boxers understand, the whole camp, I was in camp for five weeks after the Dawson fight.  I was training to lose weight.  I wasn't even training for boxing.  If you're a boxer, you understand those are two different training sessions, you know?  It was just to kill myself.  It was all wrong."

Tapia, on Top Rank releasing him from his contract:

"It was actually just a great opportunity they saw.  We can't give you something like that, something so big like this, so why not take it.  They just released me.  It wasn't nothing.  No bad blood. See, this is a business, man.  I understand the business side of it.  I'm not going to sit here and start talking bad about the promotion."

"I put myself in that position and I take full blame to be in that position.  That's why I was training every day, like I was saying before.  I was training, training, training, and staying motivated because I knew something was going to come.  Even though it was so hard to keep training and stay motivated, I just knew I had to stay focused and train hard because something was going to come."

Tapia, on his confidence:

"I just understand my skill.  I understand what I can bring to the table.  I feel like I haven't showed it to you guys.  I haven't showed it to anybody because I was killing myself going down to 154.

Freddie Roach was telling me before, when I first came with him, after the first fight, I knocked out the first kid.  He's like, You should move up to 160.  I think you should move to 160.  He kept telling me that through the years.  I never understood what he meant.  I used to think in my mind, I'm knocking these guys out.  Why is he tell me to move up to 160?  I'm beating these guys easy.

After this fight he told me why, the reason why he was telling me that.  He said because I wasn't looking like I'm looking in the gym.  Like he says, like these fighters like Pacquiao, all these guys, they see how I look in the gym.  They think I'm an amazing fighter.

Then when I fight, I'm losing in the gym going down in weight, just killing myself to go down there.  People don't understand how big I am.  I am a really tall guy.  So going down the weight was just killing me.

I feel so happy now after eating.  This is a whole different thing, you know.  People don't understand weight, how losing that weight, what it can do to you, how it can affect you.  It was affecting me a lot, from my skills, from everything, in my last fight."

Tapia, on training for this new division:

"No, see, what happened in my last bout, I came in like 176 in the beginning of the camp.  I only had six weeks, five weeks to lose weight.  It was stupid.  I should never have done it.

But now I'm walking around like 168, 169.  I'm not really killing myself.  Even me walking around 171, 172 is not really too much. But I'm getting down there real easy.  I'm thinking about probably in a couple weeks I'll be 164, just walking around 164 the whole time, not really worrying about the weight.  That's not even an issue.

I'm eating good.  I'm healthy.  I'm just feeling good.  My body feels good.  I'm running longer.  I'm training longer.  It just feels good, man, you know."

Patrick Hyland prepares for Gary Russell

Tough Patrick Hyland (31-1, 15 KOs) will be fighting for Irish boxing history Saturday, April 16, as he challenges WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. (26-1, 15 KOs) in the 12-round main event, airing live on Showtime from Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT.

Hyland is on the verge of joining a pair of exclusive Irish boxing clubs. The 32-year-old from Dublin is attempting to become the first Irishman to be world featherweight champion in 30 years, since Hall-of-Famer Barry McGuigan, in addition to being only the second Irishman – Wayne McCullough stands alone right now -- to ever wear the coveted green WBC world title belt.

McGuigan (32-3, 28 KOs) captured the WBA Featherweight Title in 1985, taking a 12-round decision from Eusebio Pedroza, and he successfully defended his crown twice against Bernard Taylor and Danilo Cabrera before losing by decision to Steve Cruz in 1986.

The only other Ireland-born world featherweight titlist was Dave Sullivan (27-12-7, 18 KOs), who was born in Knocknanaff, County Cork, Ireland, but fought professionally out of Boston. In 1898, Sullivan stopped Solly Smith in the fifth round to become world featherweight champion.

Belfast, Northern Ireland-product McCullough (27-7, 18 KOs), who was the WBC Bantamweight Champion in 1995-97, is the lone Irishman to ever be WBC World Champion in any weight class.

“Just to be fighting for this title is an honor for me and to challenge a great champion in Gary Russell, Jr. is also an honor,” Hyland said from his training camp at Celtic Warrior Gym in Dublin. “To join great Irish boxing names is a dream come true for me. It will also mean the world to me to win this belt for my and family and, most importantly, for my (late) dad, for all the hard work he put into me and my two brothers since I was eight years old.  To look up and say, ‘Dad, we did it,’ will be the best feeling in the world.”

Hyland has fought 10 times in the United States, including a 12-round loss to interim WBA featherweight champion Javier Fortuna in 2012.  Hyland lived in Marlboro, New York for a few years when he was promoted by a company headed by then reality television star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi.

“I love fighting in the United States,” Hyland added. “There’s always a great atmosphere at fights there and the US is the real home of boxing.  Snooki Boxing didn’t work out as planned, but they did a great job getting me the WBA title shot which was a great achievement in their first year in boxing. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out after that fight, but I do have great respect for them. I met friends for life from Marlboro who I consider family and they’ll be at my fight as always.”

Shabranskyy to fight at LA Fight Club on April 15

Before Jesus Soto Karass (28-10-3, 18 KOs) and Yoshihiro Kamegai (26-3-1, 23 KOs) step into the ring for what is expected to be a sure-fire Fight of the Year candidate at LA Fight Club on April 15, Golden Boy Promotions will present an exciting cruiserweight warm-up to the main event action at downtown Los Angeles' Belasco Theater.

Los Angles transplant Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (15-0, 12 KOs) will face seasoned fighter Derrick Findley (23-18-1, 15 KOs) of Chicago in an eight-round co-main event match-up sure to heat up the night.

One of the most exciting fighters to emerge from the west coast scene in recent years, Ukrainian-born Shabranskyy is thrilling fans in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles. He went 4-0 against good opposition in 2015, as his last three opponents had a combined record of 34-1-1. The 28-year-old most recently defeated 16-1 Yunieski Gonzalez last December earning himself a spot on the pound-for-pound list in the light heavyweight division.

Findley has been in the boxing game since turning professional in 2004. The 31-year-old fighter is a well-known name in his weight class as a boxer who doesn't go down easily. Former NABF middleweight title holder, Findley trains with some of the biggest names in boxing such as Gennady "GGG" Golovkin.

Dusty Hernandez-Harrison to face Mike Dallas Jr. on May 13 

Undefeated Dusty Hernandez-Harrison (29-0, 16 KOs) of Washington, D.C., will return to the ring on Friday, May 13, when he takes on Bakersfield's Mike Dallas Jr. (21-3-1, 10 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight bout at the DC Armory in Washington, D.C. The fight will be televised live on BET beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.

“I am really excited that my 30th fight will take place in Southeast D.C., where I was born and raised,” said Hernandez-Harrison. “It will be great to be back in D.C. where I haven’t fought since 2014, and I can’t wait to put on a show for all the fans in attendance and watching across the nation on BET. Dallas presents an interesting challenge that I am ready to face. I will be getting world class sparring for this bout and will be more than ready for anything he brings to the table on May 13.”

Hailing from Washington, D.C., Hernandez-Harrison has been touted as the city’s “best boxing prospect since Sugar Ray Leonard” by the Washingtonian Magazine. He began fighting at the age of six at the boxing exhibition at the Ritz Nightclub in Northwest D.C. and became a sanctioned amateur at the age of 8. At the time of his first pro bout at the age of 17, Hernandez-Harrison compiled an amateur record of 167-30. On May 18, he knocked out Eddie Soto with a right hand in the fifth round.  Hernandez-Harrison proceeded to earn the “2013 Knockout of the Year” for the Soto fight and the “2013 Fighter of the Year” from Go Fight Live (GFL.TV).

“I’ve heard Dusty is pretty good, but I will be the biggest step up for him by far,” said Dallas Jr. “At 147 pounds, I feel very strong. I’m more mature and more focused. I’m back.”

Mike Dallas Jr., 29, is in the midst of a comeback that lands him in Washington, D.C. against local unbeaten favorite Dusty Hernandez-Harrison that may be the most important fight of his life. After losing to Lucas Matthysse via a first round knockout, Dallas Jr. took a two-year break from the sport.

When Dallas felt the urge to fight again, he contacted his trainer Ben Bautista, and the pair ventured to Tijuana, Mexico, where Dallas picked up two quick wins against Alejandro Alonso on November 20, 2015, and most recently on December 19 against Odillon Rivera. He now returns to fight in the spotlight again on May 13 in a true crossroads fight against Hernandez-Harrison.

May 13 will also feature the professional debut of highly-touted Philadelphia heavyweight prospect Darmani Rock against an opponent to be determined.

“I’m thrilled to be making my pro debut on May 13 at the DC Armory,” said Rock. “My team and I have worked hard and it has all been building up to this moment. I’m looking forward to my rise to the top of the heavyweight division which begins on May 13.”

At the age of nineteen, Darmani Rock is already drawing comparisons to former heavyweight greats of the past. Rock has received high praise for his powerful jab and ambidexterity. Standing at 6’4”, he moves with good speed for a fighter his size.  He ended his amateur career as the number one rated super heavyweight in the United States (and the number five rated super heavyweight in the world) going 19-5 in national tournaments.

In February 2016, Rock signed an exclusive promotional agreement with Roc Nation Sports.

Talkin' Smack

  • Eric "Drummer Boy" Molina, prior to his win over Tomasz Adamek: "For the first time in my career I got 70 days to prepare; unprecedented in the heavyweight division. What do I know about Adamek? He's a warrior and people in Poland expect great things from him because he's a Polish boxing legend. In me, he will have a chance to fight one of the best heavyweights in the division and we all will know where we stand. I'm very confident, not only that I will win this war on Saturday, but also of being the first Mexican-American heavyweight in the future."

  • Randy Gordon, on being voted into the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame:  "What a journey this has been from boxing fan to boxing writer...to boxing announcer...to boxing commissioner...to boxing promoter...to boxing talk show host....to the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame.  If I'm dreaming, I don't want to wake up!"

  • HBO analyst Harold Lederman, who was seated ringside at Jesse Hart's homecoming fight in Philadelphia against Dashon Johnson: "Great card, sensational main event, a tenth round for the books. It was just like the old days in Philly, for sure. Need more."

By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services

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