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Tim-Robin Lihaug Celebrates His New WBO Standing

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Arturo Santos: I’m Positive Abner Mares Will Lose Again!

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Thurman: Pacquiao has a great chance against Mayweather

In an interview with On The Ropes Boxing Radio, Keith Thurman gives his thoughts on a May-Pac fight.

Keith Thurman was asked about his assessment of a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, and "One Time" gave some refreshingly honest responses.

"Mayweather's running out of options. Not only is he really running out of options, he almost can take his pick but at the end of the day, Mayweather is ‘Money May.' For a certain duration, for the past several years of his career, his focus has really been on money, "How can I make the most money?"

"When I say he's out of options, he's really out of big money options, and Manny Pacquiao is that. Amir Khan won't bring in the revenue, I wouldn't bring in the revenue, Kell Brook wouldn't bring in the revenue, which Manny Pacquiao can bring in. At the end of the day, what can you say? It's a long awaited fight, I know the fans are gonna love it, I'll be there. It's great for the sport, to finally see two of the worlds most entertaining welterweights go toe-to-toe."

I at least applaud Thurman for readily admitting that he wouldn't add much revenue for a fight he's been interested in for some time now. More often than not, fighters are so conscious of trying to promote themselves that they'll grossly overestimate the kind of drawing power they have just because they want a particular fight. Thurman, however, appears to be firmly grounded in reality as far as a Mayweather fight goes so -- credit given where credit's due. Keith was then asked about Pac-Man's chances in a fight with Mayweather.

"I still pick Mayweather, especially if the fight is happening at the MGM. Outside of that, Pacquiao needs to be the Pacquiao that made him famous. He needs to throw the punches, the combinations.

We know that Pacquiao is better than Cotto and Cotto gave Mayweather one hell of a fight. Maidana was able to land several good punches on Mayweather. I do see Pacquiao having a great chance of winning the fight, but I do believe that to truly win the fight he's gonna have to at least create one to two knockdowns - A minimum of one knockdown to get that 10-8 round.

Manny is gonna have to be worried about the right hand, but he shouldn't be too worried because it's not Marquez' right hand. Mayweather has suffered a lot of hand injuries throughout his career and we haven't seen him get a knockout since his freebie with Victor Ortiz.

I almost see the fight fifty-fifty, but I still see the fight more leaning in Mayweather's favor. He's real technical, he knows what the judges are looking for, he's really accurate with that right hand, he knows how to snap your head back when he lands it and it's clear power punches that win fights.

It's one thing that a lot of people don't know, it's the clean, power punches and Mayweather always finds a way to lands those punches, just cleanly, clearly and highly accurate. I'm gonna favor Mayweather until someone shows me a reason not to - and maybe it will be Manny Pacquiao on May 2nd. I'll be cheering for both fighters, at the end of the day, I just want to see a great fight going down in the world of boxing."

You know, Thurman really gives some astute observations in this interview. Firstly, Thurman pretty much acknowledges that it's unlikely that Pac will be able to outbox Floyd, thus why he says Manny will need to score a knockdown or two to win on the cards. The only place I would slightly disagree with Thurman is when he say's Pac shouldn't be too worried because Floyd's right hand isn't a "Marquez right hand." Marquez obviously put on some bulk in recent years and increased his power, but I'm of the belief that Floyd has a better educated right hand than Marquez, and that's speaks for itself. Everyone who Floyd spars and fights always say that his right cross is a problem. Everyone knows it's coming but no one can ever stop it because he's so fast and sneaky with it. I mean, really think about it, what other fighter do you know that can use a lead cross as effectively as a jab?

Aside from that, I think Thurman is more or less right on the money (no pun intended) with his assessment on how Floyd is able to win fights with his clean and accurate punching, always landing the telling blows. And I can't deny that I got a bit of a chuckle out of his comment on Floyd's "freebie" knockout of Ortiz.

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Golovkin vs Murray: Fight breakdown and analysis

On February 21st, Gennady Golovkin (31-0, 28 KO’s) puts his WBA and IBO Middleweight belts on the line as he takes on WBC Silver Middleweight titleholder Martin Murray (29-1-1, 12KO’s). The Kazakh wrecking machine looks to make the British challenger his 19th stoppage in a row.

A Bit of Backstory

Last year, there were two major fighters that made waves in the Middleweight division. One was the resurgent Miguel Cotto, moving up in weight to roughly seize the WBC Middleweight title from the declining Sergio Martinez. The other was a dark force of nature by the name of Gennady Golovkin.

A silver medalist in the 2004 Olympic Games with a stellar 345-5 amateur record, the ever-smiling Golovkin has left a trail of unconscious bodies in the ring since his pro debut in 2006. Drawing comparisons to Mike Tyson in his heyday, Golovkin's legendary knockout power has garnered him legions of new fans in 2014 after he separated both Daniel Geale and Marco Antonio Rubio from their senses within 3 rounds. The Kazakh holds the highest knockout percentage (90%) in Middleweight titleholder history, and looks to extend that against his next challenger.

Martin Murray, the current top ranked UK Middleweight, is a fighter perhaps best known for his lone loss to Sergio Martinez and draw to Felix Strum, both of whom were close contests that many believe that he should have won. Though Martinez was in the twilight of his career, Murray's performance that night was better than anyone could have predicted. He outboxed the then-champion in the middle rounds and even scored a knockdown in the 8th. However, fighting in Argentina, on the defending champ's home turf, Murray walked away with a decision loss. Since then, the scrappy Brit has won four in a row, captured the WBC Silver Middleweight belt, and looks hungry to stake his claim at the top of the division.

Styles: Strengths and Weaknesses

Gennady Golovkin

By now, Gennady Golovkin's name is synonymous with brutal knockouts, but the Kazakh's offense leading up to those exciting finishes is actually craftily built around a pressuring counterpunching game. Whereas counterpunching often involves the boxer waiting for the opponent to make the first move, Golovkin forces the opponent to act with his smothering ring cutting and jab to create opportunities for his vicious hooks.

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Golovkin's (white trunks) pressure forces Gabe Rosado (blue trunks) to constantly maneuver with his back to ropes.
Gennady has some of the best ring cutting in boxing today. In this sequence, Golovkin, rather than simply following Rosado around the ring, constantly keeps his back foot ahead of Rosado's lead foot. This allows Gennady to constantly remain within trading distance of where Rosado will be, rather than following where his opponent was. Rosado constantly tries to move laterally to create angles of opportunity, but always finds Golovkin's body physically blocking off his escape routes. From here, Rosado is forced to jab to maintain distance, and eats a counter jab for his efforts.

The lynchpin of Golovkin's offense is his heavy jab, most noticeably used to set up Gennady's fight-ending hooks. Typical hook setup combinations, like the 1-2-3, the 1-3, or 2-3 use the jab (1) and the straight right (2) up the center to cause the opponent to narrow their defense, allowing the subsequent hook (3) to travel around the guard. Most recently against the tough Marco Antonio Rubio, Golovkin utilized the jab setup to great effect.

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In this sequence, Golovkin twice uses a jab to get Rubio to raise his guard, and then hammers down a looping overhand right over and around Rubio's gloves, his power clearly troubling the challenger. When Rubio recovers, Gennady throws two jab-hook combinations off of his lead hand for the same purpose-to get the challenger to cover up and create openings for his curved punches.

The Kazakh's jab alone is not particularly special. He throws it with more of a pushing motion than a snap, but his jab ridiculously versatile, allowing Golovkin to gauge distance, counter his opponent's jab from the inside angle, engage, start combinations, disengage, and disrupt his opponent. The sheer volume with which Golovkin throws the jab, along with the power he possesses, allows Gennady to bully his opponents and force the fight to remain in his preferred distance.

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Here, Golovkin wades in behind his jab to set up brutal overhand rights that drive Rubio back into the ropes. Realizing that he's a too close to effectively get the maximum extension of his punches, Gennady disengages with more two solid jabs, reestablishes his distance, and then dives back in with a blistering 1-2 punctuated by three brutal left hooks targeting both the head and body.

Golovkin's variety in his combination punching is pleasure to watch. When the Kazakh sees a hint of vulnerability in his opponent, he unloads with some of the most creative hook combinations I've ever seen.

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Once Gennady forces Rubio on the ropes, it's touch-hook, touch-touch-hook, touch-touch-hook. Lovely stuff.

Gennady rocks Rubio with a slick hook-uppercut combination through his guard, and while the challenger stumbles back, hammers left hooks to the body until Rubio backs into the ropes. Golovkin then goes to work, alternating hooks to both sides and targeting multiple levels of Rubio's body and head. Repeatedly within the combination, Gennady touched with the jab to force Rubio to maintain turtled behind a high guard, allowing Golovkin to continue to load up on his long hooks, eventually breaking down the challenger.

As calculated and creative as his offense is, many critics gripe about Gennady's defense, stating that he lacks head movement. While Golovkin does, on occasion, demonstrate some slick head slips, he typically favors a defensive system centered on using his shoulders and gloves to catch and turn aside blows.

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In this match, Gennady (white trunks) faced a very game Daniel Geale (black trunks). From the onset, Geale's game plan was obvious. He pushed a high pace, utilizing quick footwork and volume punching to try to counter Gennady's pressuring, jab-reliant offense. Golovkin preferred to dig his chin behind his upraised shoulders, often flaring out his elbows to catch and slide off the incoming punches.

The most effective offense that's been mounted against Golovkin is when opponents either draw out the jab and counter it, or catch Gennady in the middle of a combination (a very risky gamble). Gennady's bout with the stocky and durable Curtis Stevens was perhaps one of the best examples of an opponent implementing both methods.

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Stevens used a tight guard to inch closer to Golovkin, firing his jab as Golovkin probed with his own jab.

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Stevens weathered a Golovkin combination and then countered over his hands while Gennady began to load up


When Golovkin is pressured by a puncher with legitimate power (like Stevens), he has a bad tendency to retreat backwards in a straight line, taking more punches than necessary in the process(as seen in the second gif). The instances in which Gennady finds himself pressured are few and far between however, as Golovkin seems to have gotten even more confident with his own power. Several times against Geale and Rubio, Golovkin was tagged during his combinations, but powered through to overwhelm his opponent with his own offense. This reckless mindset may cause Golovkin issues in the future should he ever face a heavy-handed, counterpunching-savvy opponent.

Martin Murray

As one of the top middleweights in the world, Martin Murray is remarkably average. A tall boxer that prefers to fight on the outside, Murray is solid in all aspects of the sweet science. He's fast and lanky, with textbook technique, but doesn't seem to possess anything that makes him offensively or defensively extraordinary. Most of the time, Murray's offense looks like this:

murray gif 5

Murray (white and blue trunks) has a very active lead hand. He prefers a wide stance and does not throw with much variety; almost exclusively using a busy left jab, straight right, and an occasional left hook. He has a penchant to circle towards the left while firing 3-4 jabs to set up a single right hand, always leaps out directly afterwards, and forces the clinch if his opponent tries to fight at close distance.

Martin Murray's most distinctive feature is perhaps his tight high guard that he constantly maintains and throws punches from no matter the round or situation.

murray gif 4

Upon engaging, Murray (white trunks) will paw with his left to gauge distance before rattling off multiple snapping jabs. If Golovkin's jab was a breaching shotgun, Murray's jab would be a .22 hunting rifle. It's fast and accurate, but lacks the same level of power because the Brit does not load up much on these jabs. The purpose of these jabs are to test his opponent's defense and set up his straight right, all the while maintaining the "earmuffs" high guard. It's this calculated offense that frustrated Sergio Martinez in their bout in 2013. Martinez, which his typical hands down style, had a difficult time finding chinks in Murray's tight shell while the Brit peppered him with straight jabs up the middle.

Murray only throws combinations with both hands when he has his opponent covering up or completely on the defensive.

murray gif 3

In this sequence, Murray starts of with a clean, straight 1-2 combination, followed by another 1-1-2. His opponent (Domenico Spada) begins to react whenever he sees Murray throw the jab; he expects a straight right to follow soon after and raises a tight guard. However, Murray throws another straight jab, but follows up this time with a long right hook and two shovel hooks to the body. Typically an out fighter, Martin Murray is more than capable of throwing varied combinations and fighting close, as seen in his bout against Sergio Martinez.

murray gif 2

Here Murray, holding his distinctive high guard, spears Martinez (red trunks) with a straight right to the body, and as Martinez's body bends forward from the rebound of the ropes, Murray tags him with a lovely double hook combination to the head and body. Martinez waves him forward, to which Murray obliges and lands a powerful 1-2, followed by more hooks to the head and body, and even finishes with a slick uppercut-left hook as Martinez comes forward. If anything, Martin is a very patient fighter. Even when Martinez opened up on the ropes, Murray kept his technique defensively tight and picked his shots well, intelligently targeting different levels and always ready with a counter should Martinez try to retaliate.

Murray has decent footwork when on the offensive, but, like Gennady, he also has the issue of retreating backwards in a straight line if his opponent rushes him.

murray gif 1

When Domenico Spada leaps forward winging left hooks, Murray moves straight back into the ropes. He recovers, and resumes peppering Spada with some quick combinations, but gets cut off when circling out, and is pushed to the ropes again. The ease with which Spada was able to bully Murray on the ropes was alarming, and Murray's preference to cover up until he opponent was close enough to force a clinch is potentially dangerous against opponents who don't overcommit on their offense.

Many also criticize Murray for his general lack of power. In his Martinez fight, the ringside announcers, before his knockdown in round 8, repeatedly stated that Murray's punches lack the force to get Martinez to respect him. With only 12 finishes 29 victories, Murray's finishing rate pales in comparison to many of the top boxers in the division, especially to the likes of Gennady Golovkin.

The Matchup and What to Look For

On paper, Martin Murray's jab-reliant, high guard style would make him food for Golovkin. Gennady's entire offense is designed to get his opponent to cover up and loop around their defense with hooks. With Murray's habit of constantly turtling up, Golovkin will have a field day pounding away at the Brit's defense. Murray does have the savvy and the timing to try to catch Golovkin on the way in like Stevens did, but while Stevens is a stocky, powerful puncher, Murray's quick jabs and straight rights do not really seem to have the power to garner respect from the Kazakh. Murray's susceptibility to getting pressured onto the ropes also serves him no favors against someone as good at cutting off the ring as Golovkin. If Murray tries to retreat to the ropes, clinch, and wait out a referee separation, he'll find himself hard pressed to get past Golovkin's versatile jab.

Murray, however, likely holds a slight speed and reach advantage. Look for Murray to maintain distance with his footwork and straight punches, and potshot from the outside. If Murray is to find success on Saturday, he can't afford to let Gennady outmaneuver him and impose his rhythm. Gennady will likely continue to do what's made him so successful-patiently cut off the ring, pressure behind a jab, and create opportunities to unload with his vicious combination punching. In a sport like boxing, anything can happen, but this is Golovkin's fight to lose.

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Mayweather vs Pacquiao: Manny asks for $5MM fine for potential failed drug test

Manny Pacquiao says he and Floyd Mayweather are "ironing out the kinks" in negotiations for a May showdown.

The negotiations between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are continuing, and though nothing is yet official, there continue to be reports that the talks are in final stages, and that the fight could be announced soon.

That said, there are also consistent counter reports that nothing is done, nobody has signed, and the fight has not been ironed out just yet. But Pacquiao says that they're waiting on Mayweather's side to announce the fight, and also added that it was his idea to include a $5 million penalty in the event of a failed drug test:

"I've no problem with drug testing. In fact, in the contract, I was the one who suggested the $5 million fine if one is tested positive for drugs. I was the one who inserted that because that's needed," Pacquiao said.

When Pacquiao spoke with reporters at the House of Representatives in Filipino he added that the deal for the fight is "almost done."

"The negotiations are almost done. Let's wait for them to announce the fight. We've agreed with the terms and conditions," he said.

Pacquiao added that he and Mayweather are both still 100% for the fight happening:

"We agreed that this fight has to happen. We are ironing out the kinks. He (Mayweather) said he wants the fight to push through."

So that's your current Mayweather-Pacquiao update. Nothing big or anything you haven't heard in the previous month or so, but at least nothing's been called off yet.

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GGG Genesis: The History of Kazakh Boxing Part 6

We are coming towards the end of our look at the history of boxing in Kazakhstan. In this installment we look at the Soviet Union's return to Olympic competition, and a burly heavyweight body puncher who came within a hair of beating a legend.

After the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Olympic Games--held in the land of their ideological enemy the United States--many Soviet boxers became disillusioned. One example would be Ayslbek Kilimov--arguably the most dangerous middleweight in the Soviet team at this stage--whose interested petered out after the disappointment on not being able to compete.

By the time the next Olympics came around in 1988--to be held in Seoul, South Korea--there were a gang of hungry amateurs striving to make their mark internationally.

One of them was a rugged Kazakh super heavyweight who had already established himself as one of the best unpaid fighters in the world.

Aleksandr Miroshnichenko

By the time of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Aleksandr Miroshnichenko had been one of the elite super heavyweights in Europe for many years, winning a bronze medal as a teenager in the European Championships of 1983 as well as three Soviet championships.

As he grew into his frame and gained his man strength the burly Kazakh proved his worth not just as a boxer but as a body snatcher, which isn't too common with the giants. Banging to the body is common--making it the primary focus of attack is not, yet Miroschnichenko thrived in close where his opponents wilted.

He continued to thrive on the international stage--beating no less a fighter than Lennox Lewis via points at the 1988 'Intercup' tournament. Whilst not a particularly prestigious tournament, this acted as a pre-Olympic tournament, meaning the Kazakh--also a gold medallist at the 1986 Goodwill Games--was an early frontrunner for Olympic gold.

Also in the running were two future all-time great heavyweight champions.

Bowe

Miroschnichenko received a relatively easy path into the semi-finals, dominating his opponents from countries that don't tend to produce inspiring heavyweights--Kuwait and South Korea--but in the semi-finals he was matched against a very formidable fighter.

A three-time Golden Gloves champion and one-time Pan-Am bronze medallist, Riddick Bowe was the brightest star of the U.S super heavyweight roster. Six-foot-five, with a ramrod jab and exceptional in-fighting skills for such a big man, Bowe was a fighter seemingly after Miroschnichenko's heart.

In the first round, Bowe nearly had his heart ripped out of his side.

Miroschnichenko came in close to Bowe, touching him with body shots. As Bowe tried to stave him off with a right cross--which the Soviet boxer avoided--he saw a left hook coming up high.

Bowe braced himself, and before he knew it he was on one knee--caught by a left hook to the body that had been masked by the head shot.

Bowe didn't seem badly affected, and bounced up immediately, but Miroschnichenko was on him, throwing hammers with the speed of a sickle, cornering the American and forcing him to drop below waist level for respite. A standing eight-count was administered, but this didn't count for any more points to the Kazakh than a clean punch would.

Now Bowe looked weary. Commentating on the fight was Dr. Ferdie Pacheco--who had seen many of the top heavyweights over the years in his capacity as Muhammad Ali's physician--commented on the idea that Bowe was trying to find a way out of the fight.

"It sure looks that way," he said, "He's got twenty-two seconds to make it."

In the coming years Bowe would prove himself one of the most resolute fighters of his era. His gut would be checked more than perhaps any other heavyweight of his time--the only other that could be given the nod in that debate would be his closest rival Evander Holyfield.

But with Miroschnichenko bearing down on him and punching his ribs into his internal organs, Bowe could have been forgiven for opting out.

He didn't. He had gold in his mind and he wasn't going to let his Soviet rival get the better of him. In a performance indicative of the fighter he would become in the pro ranks, Bowe gutted out the disastrous first round and punched out a decision win,punching his ticket to the gold medal match.

After the decision he was frank about the trouble he had been in,

"It's quite an embarrassment to be on the canvas. I had to get up and do what I predicted. We should go get Lennox Lewis now. I'm warmed up. He can get his silver. I got to get the gold. Anything less would be uncivilised."--The New York Times, November 25th, 1989

Bowe was stopped on his feet against Lennox Lewis, who added Olympic gold to his world amateur championship and solidified his position as the best super heavyweight amateur of his time.

Miroschnichenko had to settle for bronze, but would go one better at the following years World Amateur Championships--with Bowe and Lewis out of the picture--taking silver, only the incredible Cuban Roberto Balado besting him. In the same year, Miroschnichenko added to his trophy cabinet with bronze at the European Championships.

He had not been able to knock down the brick wall that was Riddick Bowe, but back home the Soviet Union was crumbling and the fighters that had been held back from the riches of the pro game would finally get their chance to wear gold around their waist rather than round their necks.

The Six Samurai

It didn't take long for promoters to come calling. The class of the Soviet school of boxing was well known, and there would be hundreds of top class prospects chomping at the bit to prove their worth--and make some real money--in the pro ranks.

It seemed a deal was quickly put in place to move six quality Soviets to the United States,

As many as six Soviet boxers will begin their professional careers in the US this year, following an agreement here on Monday between a US promotion firm and the Soviet Boxing Federation. Lou Falcigno, president of Momentum Enterprises, announced the exclusive contract in company with Victor Galaev, director-general of Sovintersport, which is responsible for the commercialization of Soviet Sports."There is a confidentiality clause in the contract, but I can say it is for ten years, worldwide, exclusive and a joint venture," Falcigno said, adding that six Soviet boxers will arrive here in October, although two may be sent over as early as June.--Associated Press, April 18th, 1989

Although the full roster was not announced, Falcigno did had one fighter in mind,

Falcigno said one of the boxers he was interested in was Alexander Miroshnichenko, who lost on points to American Riddick Bowe in last year's Olympics.

Heavyweights were still big business, and Miroshnichenko had probably endeared himself to the American top brass with his gutsy performance over the highly-touted Riddick Bowe.

But they never showed up. While the allure of the West may have been tempting, the Soviet six instead went a different route--Further East.

Led by 1988 Seoul Olympic gold medalist Vyacheslav Yanovskii, six amateur boxers from the Soviet Union will train in Japan to turn professional.

Yanovskii, the light-welterweight champion in Seoul, and five others signed a contract with Japan's Kyoei World Co. They are the first Soviet boxers to sign a contract with a foreign firm. Kyoei President Masaki Kanehira said the six had signed three-year contracts but declined to disclose the amount involved.

Kanehira said the five others are Yurii Arbachakov, the 1989 flyweight world champion; Alexander Miroshnichenko, the 1989 super heavyweight European champion; Vyacheslav Yakovlev, heavyweight bronze medalist in the 1986 world championships; Orzubek Nazarov, 1987 lightweight European champion, and Ramzan Sebiev, the heavyweight bronze medalist in the 1987 world championships.--Los Angeles Times, November 15th, 1989

This was a classy bunch indeed, although many of these fighters were feeling the effects of long, hard amateur careers.Not that the possibility that they might have already been past their best was any consolation to Lou Falcigno, who elaborated on the issues he had when trying to finalise the deal he thought was in place for them to fight in the United States,

Falcigno said that deal never became operative. ''Right away, I had problems,'' he explained recently. ''In May, I sent a trainer, Tommy Gallagher, to Athens for the European championships, and a look at some of the Russian boxers there. The Russians told him, 'Get away; leave here.' Gallagher phoned to tell me, 'I can't get tickets. I can't get names of the fighters. I can't talk to the coaches.'

''Not only did they give Gallagher the cold shoulder, but the fighters that were promised for the U.S., none of them showed up for the European championships.

''Other things happened,'' he went on. ''I was supposed to get a list of fighters with their weights and ages; I never got it. In August, I heard that a Finnish promoter, Kalevi Takala, was going to put on a card in Russia using Soviet fighters. I kept calling to ask about it. The Russians told me, 'No, there's no fight here.' Then I got an I.B.F. release saying the fights had been held,'' he said, referring to the International Boxing Federation.

''I called again. The Sovintersport people ducked the calls. So I flew over there and asked why the Russian heavyweights on Takala's card hadn't been offered to me first, as our deal called for. They told me, 'Oh, it was just a little fight,' and I said, 'I had an exclusive.' They said,'We didn't know it was like that.' ''

The Soviet representatives were clearly not the easiest to deal with, but the Japanese had managed to pull off a major coup.

Among those fighters, Yuri Arbachakov and Orzubek Nazarov were standouts in the professional game. Arbachakov won the WBC flyweight (lineal) championship and lost but one contest in his career. Nazarov--an Kyrgyz fighter who had trained under fantastic Kazakh boxer Abradshit Abdrahmanov as an amateur--won the WBA lightweight title and made six successful defences before suffering a career-ending eye injury in his only professional loss.

The tough super heavyweight Alexandr Miroshnichenko did not stay in Japan long. His former amateur rival Vyacheslav Yakovlev lost a decision in one of his early bouts in Japan and promptly retired. Miroshnichenko left the land of the rising sun unblemished, but spent the rest of his career in Europe and Kazakhstan.

Not that he didn't pick up a moderately impressive scalp whilst in Japan. He forced a stoppage over Ross Puritty--then a young fighter with just four pro bouts--who would go on to become somewhat of a high-level journeyman, spoiling the parties of lauded amateurs such as Jorge Luis Gonzalez and Wladimir Klitschko. Miroshnichenko forced Purrity to retire between the sixth and seventh rounds.

The End

For much of his professional career the fearsome Kazakh broke journeymen in half with his patented body blows. He didn't take any major leaps in competition and seemed happy to use his reputation to fight wherever he could, taking in the sights of Belgium, Holland and even Curaçao.

He fought most of his bouts in his homeland of Kazakhstan. Boxrec is a valuable tool, but often doesn't tell us the whole story, so while it's possible that the seemingly inexperienced fighters Miroshnichenko was smashing on his native soil are simply suffering from a lack of recorded bouts, it may have been that these were showcase fights for the popular amateur star.

Less than three years into his career after knocking out fifteen of his twenty one opponents and yet to suffer defeat Miroshnichenko--perhaps unwittingly--faced off with another debutante being sent to the slaughter.

He ended up stepping into the ring against the most dangerous puncher he'd ever faced.

Twenty-four year old Oleg Maskaev was born in Kazakhstan, but considered himself a Russian. A champion amateur boxer in the military, as with other Miroshnichenko opponents in this part of the world there is the possibility that Maskaev was not making his pro debut in the true sense. It's also a possibility that the Kazakh body puncher was aware of Maskaev's prowess, but is it hard to get a firm source on just what went down that day.

Maskaev later told the story in his own words,

I was very young back then, a fight offer was totally unexpected and to be honest, I wasn't very keen on facing him. I was serving in the army in Tashkent (Uzbekistan), training (boxing) but there were no heavyweights around to really spar with. Our training camp was in the mountains, we were training really hard, were in a great physical condition, and then this fight offer comes out--An offer I couldn't refuse.
I was being told, "Oleg, it's a commercial money fight. You'll just box a little, earn some money".

It seems that Maskaev was being sent in as an opponent to pad the record of the lauded amateur. However, Miroshnichenko was ambushed by his less experienced opponent,

"I was young and reckless but I came to the fight fully focused and ready to give my opponent a real fight, which he wasn't expecting at all. I put pressure on him early in the first round and by the end of the third round Miroshnichenko's face was red - he took many punches. I knocked him out, it was a really nasty stuff.
Miroshnichenko got up but he was very wobbly and the fight was stopped."

Whether this was Maskaev's pro debut or not is neither here not there. It was Maskaev who went on to win a world title, renowned for being a devastating--albeit vulnerable--puncher and top ten mainstay over the next decade.

Alexandr Miroshnichenko never fought again after his embarrassing defeat to Maskaev. Instead, he focused his energy on training fighters, a staple occupation of boxers from the former Soviet Union.

He died aged thirty-nine after falling down nine flights of stairs in his hometown. The death was ruled accidental.

Miroshnichenko never came close to becoming a true contender in the heavyweight division, and should be thought of as a case of wasted potential. He should be remembered for his debilitating body blows--and twice putting 'Big Daddy' down.

In part 7, we will look at another decorated Kazakh amateur. This time, he makes it to the top--Becoming the first fighter born in Kazakhstan to win a world title. Along the way we experience some of the most bizarre and barbaric training methods ever subjected to a fighter, and meet two brash Americans. One them was viewed by many as the best amateur in the world. The other is one of the greatest to ever lace up the gloves.

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