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The Boxing Tribune

The Best and Latest Boxing News and Opinion

Manny Pacquiao’s Biggest Comeback Opponent is Relevance

By Tony Deebs

Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao may be coming back November 5 to take on WBO welterweight paper champ, Jessie Vargas, but his greatest opponent in this final leg of his career is not Vargas or anyone else he’s likely to meet in the ring. Pacquiao’s biggest battle will be with relevance. More precisely, the one-time “Mr. Everything” will be battling to stay relevant in a boxing world that is passing him by.

To say that nobody cares about Pacquiao would be an exaggeration-- The world just doesn’t care THAT much anymore, at least not on the weight of Manny being Manny. What Pacquiao does in the ring doesn’t really matter all that much anymore, unless he’s going to take a dive into the deep end of the swirling waters of the welterweight talent pool, which he clearly isn’t planning on doing.

Errol Spence Jr. just delivered six million viewers on NBC. Kell Brook is temporarily moving up to middleweight to take on Gennady Golovkin. Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter recently put on one of the shows of the year. Terence Crawford, just one division below welter, dominated Viktor Postol in the biggest fight of his career thus far. Danny Garcia is also out and about, light on in-ring action, but heavy on marketable main stage potential.

Meanwhile, Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum still hasn’t found a pay-per-view home for Pacquiao-Vargas after long-time business partner and one-time Pacquiao cheerleader, HBO, passed on airing the event.

Fight fans are buzzing about the jam-packed welterweight division and salivating at the potential match-ups, but few are talking about Pacquiao anymore (and NOBODY is talking about Pacquiao-Vargas).

Lack of relevance is the price to be paid when three of your last four bouts have been irrelevant, one-sided farces and the one legitimate challenge taken in that time frame was a huge loss accompanied by a barrage of unseemly excuses.

Pacquiao has made himself irrelevant by the career decisions he has made over the last four years and the only remedy for that is to once again begin to take some career challenges. But at 37 years of age and with pure financial reasons motivating his return to active duty, why would he take the risks involved in truly challenging himself?

Pacquiao arch-rival Floyd Mayweather was smart. He got out before people started openly discussing why he was still bothering to fight.

Pacquiao, however, has not only overstayed his welcome, but by taking fights with guys like Algieri and Vargas, he gives the appearance of flat-out taking advantage of his fans to the point of them not even caring about him anymore.

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James Kirkland Screws Up Again, Arrested for Child Support Non-Payment

According to online gossip site TMZ, former junior middleweight contender James Kirkland is back in legal trouble, this time over reported non-payment of child support.

Kirkland was taken into custody August 8 by the Travis County Sheriff's department in Kirkland’s hometown of Austin, Texas for owing an undisclosed amount of back child support. He then was released on $15,160.25 bond.

Kirkland is no stranger to legal issues and utter personal chaos as evidenced by a prison stint for probation violation in 2009 followed by several years of up and down ring performances, inactivity, management/trainer turmoil, and a stubborn reluctance to come to terms for any proposed fights.

Although rumored to be in negotiations for an upcoming bout with Miguel Cotto, Kirkland’s only ring action in the last eighteen months was a third round knockout loss to Saul Alvarez, for which he was reported to have received more than $1 million dollars.

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Luis Ortiz is Free, Again

Photo Credit: Tom Hogan-HoganPhotos/Golden Boy Promotions

by Eddie Goldman

So who do you think is the best heavyweight in the world today? The missing-in-action Tyson Fury? The aging former king Wladimir Klitschko? The newer stars and belt-holders like Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua?


Most of those who know shit about boxing will quickly answer that it is Luis "King Kong" Ortiz. The 37-year-old Cuban defector, who only started fighting professionally in 2010 after leaving his home country, has a stellar record of 25-0 with 22 KOs. In his three most recent fights, which were against the highest-profile competition who dared to face him, he stopped Tony Thompson in six rounds, Bryant Jennings in seven, and Matias Ariel Vidondo in three. He also holds, and catch your breath, something called the WBA interim heavyweight world championship.

Despite his accomplishments in the ring and the accolades he has received from those in the know, those not particularly in the know would not know him from most other big heavyweights. In other words, unfortunately, almost nobody fucking knows him. If we ran a photo of Ortiz beside, say, unnamed photos of fellow heavyweights Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller and Berman Stiverne, how many boxing fans could correctly identify him?

The reason is that he had been promoted by the crumbling Golden Boy Promotions and had his fights buried on a third-rate TV network, HBO -- until Tuesday, August 23, that is, when it was officially announced that Ortiz and Golden Boy had parted ways. Ortiz's people buying out their contract ended this particular mess. And Golden Boy only has Canelo left as a star, a guy who fights just twice a year.

Ortiz is now a free agent, although he still will likely have to face mandatory challenger Alexander Ustinov (yes, a mandatory challenger for an interim belt), probably in November or so. A purse bid for that fight was recently won by Russian promoter Andrey Ryabinsky of the World of Boxing. The 39-year-old Ustinov (33-1, 24 KOs), who was knocked out by current European champion Kubrat Pulev in 2012, should not pose much of a threat to Ortiz. Of course, there could be some funny business if, for example, this fight takes place in Ustinov's hometown of Minsk, Belarus, and ends in the type of "controversy" so well-rehearsed in that part of the world. Barring that, it should be smooth sailing in 2017 for the dangerous Ortiz.

Now that he is free of being shackled in the Golden Boy/HBO league, he can sign with another promoter and get in line to face the the world's heavyweight stars. All the attention -- and money -- are going to Fury, Klitschko, Joshua, and Wilder, and maybe Povetkin, too, if he fights and beats Wilder. Now a fight with Ortiz could be made.

There is not a single one of these heavyweights who should be favored to beat Ortiz, unless these fights are delayed so long that Ortiz becomes the victim of age. But a smart promoter, a management team, and the TV networks now have the option of adding him to a very intriguing heavyweight mix.

(Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of No Holds Barred, at http://eddiegoldman,com.)

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