Gennady Golovkin hits out at Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor 'circus'

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Gennady Golovkin (r) has hit out at the Mayweather-McGregor contest.

Gennady Golovkin dismissed the threat of his superfight with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez being overshadowed by Floyd Mayweather’s with Connor McGregor because there is an awareness the latter is a “circus”.

Mayweather-McGregor was last week confirmed for Las Vegas on August 26, in the same city and just three weeks before the WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight unification fight between Golovkin and Alvarez.

The match-up made for September 16 at the T-Mobile Arena has long perhaps been the world’s most enticing, while the reality remains that Mayweather-McGregor is likely to be little more than a cynical one driven by greed.

There is a risk that what is expected to be both such a one-sided and expensive affair will undermine boxing’s appeal so close to another equally likely to be so exciting, but Kazakhstan’s Golovkin said: “People understand, a true fight, a boxing fight – mine and Canelo’s – or a big show.

“Maybe a funny show, or circus show: everybody knows. Connor, he’s not a boxer, just a show. If you want a show please watch (that). If you want to watch a true fight, a boxing fight, watch my fight.

“This is business. Connor with Floyd is not a boxing fight: everybody’s saying Connor’s not a boxer. Money fight? Okay. Show fight? Okay.”

Speculation persists that the August 26 fight between Miguel Cotto and Yoshihiro Kamegai in California could be rescheduled to avoid a clash with Mayweather-McGregor. Oscar De La Hoya is both Cotto’s promoter and the co-promoter of Alvarez-Golovkin, and he said: “September 16 has always been the best date for a boxing event.

“We’d have to go back to the Julio Cesar Chavez days when September 16 has been important to the fight community. On September 16 we will see the real fight.

“We will have a sold-out arena, we will do tremendous business on pay-per-view, and most importantly we will get a tremendous fight, which is very important for me personally, because I love this sport dearly.”

Mexico’s Alvarez, at 26 nine years younger than Golovkin, refused to comment on the fight between Mayweather and McGregor, before revealing he did not recognise overweight WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders.

The 27-year-old Saunders is scheduled to defend his title earlier on September 16 at London’s Copper Box Arena; Canadian mandatory challenger David Lemieux could this week be confirmed as his challenger if passed fit.

He interrupted the London leg of the Alvarez-Golovkin press tour to declare his interest in fighting the winner of September’s match-up, but Alvarez said: “To tell you the truth, I didn’t even recognise him.

“He’s got to come down in weight first before fighting one of us. I never really studied him: when we were talking earlier and discussing possibly fighting him, I saw maybe one or two rounds but I’ve never really studied him or seen him.

“I can promise you this: with one hand tied behind my back and my eyes closed, I’ll be able to beat him.”

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Early stoppage doesn't take away from Andre Ward's genius after he stops Sergey Kovalev

Andy Lewis 18/06/2017
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Andre Ward may never be universally popular but he earned ultimate respect with a stunning eighth round stoppage of Sergey Kovalev in their rematch in Las Vegas.

Just seven months after receiving a gift-wrapped decision in their first fight, Ward shocked everybody by knocking out the knockout artist as he staggered the Russian with a perfect right cross before finishing him to the body.

It wasn’t that nobody expected Ward to prevail, but he simply isn’t known for his firepower, and prior to Saturday had enjoyed only two early nights since 2009 – against Chad Dawson and Paul Smith Jr – and both were mercy stoppages.

Kovalev, who had started well and was up on one of the three cards at the time of the finish, complained that referee Tony Weeks had jumped in prematurely and that the decisive assault was riddled with low blows.

He was right on both counts. Ward’s final flurry included several borderline shots and Weeks should have given Kovalev a standing count rather than waved it off.

That said, the Russian was bedraggled, gassed out and offering little resistance. It was hard to envisage him clawing his way back into the contest and the early stoppage shouldn’t detract from the quality of Ward’s victory.

“He was reacting to my body shots, and I knew I had him, he was hurt,” said Ward (32-0), who retained the WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight titles he took from Kovalev last November.

“It felt like I was up [on the scorecards], but a championship fight starts after the sixth round. I knew I had him. He was trying to cover up his body. He was dazed so I just had to try to find the right shot. He just didn’t react, and the referee stopped it.”

The defeat again raises questions about Kovalev’s engine, with him looking spent after a big effort in the sixth round and his legs betraying him under a heavy attack in the eighth.

But the Russian said: “It didn’t hurt like I could go down on the floor, but it was a low blow. Right now, I could have continued. I didn’t feel that hurt. Why stop the fight? It is crazy. I want another fight with him.”

That seems highly unlikely with there being zero incentive for Ward to take a third fight and particularly given the well-documented hostility between the two camps.

This was an event dripping in bad blood. From the promoters, through the trainers and all the way down to the boxers, the enmity was both authentic and palpable leading up to fight night at the Mandalay Bay.

Kovalev’s bitterness over the outcome of their first meeting was amplified as Ward leveraged his success to the maximum at the negotiating table. He earned a fixed $6.5 million (Dh23.8m), while Kovalev had no guaranteed purse and was forced to settle for a minority share of the TV revenue and the gate.

That raw deal ensured a spiky prelude and most expected Kovalev to come out with bad intentions.

And while he failed to land anything truly telling, he was the early aggressor and HBO analyst Harold Lederman had him winning the opening three rounds before Ward rallied in the fourth.

Andre Ward (L) hits Sergey Kovalev with a left in the sixth round

The sessions were tense, hard to score and at times ugly. Kovalev had success with his jab and the occasional right hand, while Ward looked to slip underneath his lead and attack the body at every opportunity.

In the sixth it was the Russian who looked downstairs as he upped the pace, but Ward rode it out and the warning signs were there in the seventh as Kovalev started blowing hard.

The turning point arrived in the next as Ward pivoted at the waist and put his full weight into a right hand, catching Kovalev on the point of the chin and rocking him to his core.

Another barrage to the body was enough for Weeks, whose early intervention deprived Ward of the opportunity to add an exclamation mark to his performance.

Andre Ward (L) reacts as reacts as referee Tony Weeks stops his light heavyweight championship bout against Sergey Kovalev at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on June 17, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ward retained his WBA/IBF/WBO titles with a TKO in the eighth round. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Andre Ward (L) reacts as reacts as referee Tony Weeks stops his light heavyweight championship bout against Sergey Kovalev

The reality is that it didn’t need one. This was a signature victory for a man whose aloof persona, long periods of inactivity and cerebral fighting style mean that he will never win any popularity contests.

But Ward’s achievements speak for themselves: an Olympic gold medallist, unbeaten as a professional and a two-weight world champion who has faced and beaten the toughest possible opposition.

“Can I ask a question? Am I number one now?” Ward added. “Of course, I hope so, but I don’t get a vote, and hopefully we top that pound-for-pound list now.”

It’s hard to argue with him.

GOOD WEEK

Dmitry Bivol

The light heavyweight division is stacked with Eastern European talent and Bivol thrust himself right into the mix with a dominant fourth round stoppage of Cedric Agnew on Saturday night.

Bivol’s heavy hands went to work early and he dropped Agnew in the opener and it looked like it might all be over then.

Agnew, who had only previously lost to Sergey Kovalev and Samuel Clarkson, went into survival mode and somehow made it through the next two sessions only for the referee to spare him more punishment midway through the fourth.

Bivol is now 11-0 with nine knockouts and is already ranked No1 by the WBA. It’s hard to see Andre Ward giving him a shot, but he’ll have options for exciting fights.

Dmitry Bivol has his arm raised after defeating Cedric Agnew with a fourth-round TKO

BAD WEEK

Oscar De La Hoya

De La Hoya despises Floyd Mayweather. He didn’t like him before he lost a split decision to him in 2007, and their relationship has soured ever since.

Yet the Golden Boy’s distaste for his former opponent must have peaked this week with confirmation of the latter’s nonsensical bout with UFC fighter Conor McGregor.

The fight, slated for August 26, means precious few will watch promoter De La Hoya’s event featuring Miguel Cotto and Yoshihero Kamegai on the same night.

And with the Mayweather fiasco likely to come with a hefty pay per view price tag, it’s sure to eat into sales for the Canelo Alvarez versus Gennady Golovkin showdown just three weeks later on September 16.

FLASHBACK

Barrera settles a score

Marco Antonio Barrera was welcomed into the International Boxing Hall of Fame last week with a hug and a handshake from his greatest rival, Erik Morales.

That show of affection is almost unthinkable when you the recall the sheer hatred emanating from their fabled in-ring battles.

Indeed, it was 15 years ago this week that Barrera beat his nemesis at the MGM Grand to make it 1-1 after Morales’ triumph in their opener some two years earlier.

Barrera went on to win a rubber match in 2004 to settle one of boxing’s greatest rivalries and a trilogy which did much to ensure both went down as all-time Mexican greats.

Marco Antonio Barrera celebrates his victory over Erik Morales during their World Featherweight Championship fight on June 22, 2002

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Andre Ward stops Sergey Kovalev in round eight but controversy over reigns over low blows

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Andre Ward (L) and Sergey Kovalev battle it out during their light heavyweight championship bout.

American champion boxer Andre Ward kept his IBF, WBA and WBO titles by stopping Russian brawler Sergey Kovalev in the eighth round of their light heavyweight rematch on Saturday.

The unbeaten Ward hurt Kovalev with a right hand that buckled his knees and then finished him off on the ropes 30 seconds later with a series of body shots around the mid-section at the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino.

“He’s a great fighter, not a lot of people are going to beat him,” Ward said. “But when you are facing a great fighter you have to raise your game to the next level.

“I hurt him with a head shot and I just had to get the right shot in to finish him.” Referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight with 31 seconds left in the eighth with Kovalev kneeling down from what he said was a low blow.

Ward improved to 32-0 with 16 knockouts as he held onto three of the four major boxing belts that he snatched from Kovalev by winning the first fight in November by a slim unanimous decision.

The 33-year-old Ward needed this victory to validate his first win as many felt the Russian won that fight and that Ward had been given a gift decision by the three judges.

“I have never been the most talented, I have never been the biggest, I just keep knocking down giants one by one,” said Ward.

Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 knockouts) sent Ward to the canvas in the first fight, and while he landed several big shots in the rematch, once again he failed to close the deal and appeared to tire after the sixth round. “I cannot explain,” Kovalev said.

Kovalev added he wants an “immediate” rematch because he felt he got hit with a series of low blows in the eighth.

‘LOW BLOWS’

 Guillermo Rigondeaux (L) and Moises Flores battle it out during their super bantamweight championship bout.

Guillermo Rigondeaux (L) and Moises Flores battle it out during their super bantamweight championship bout.

“It was a low blow, again another one,” he said as he watched a replay of the stoppage with an HBO interviewer.

“We are boxers. I could still continue. Why stop the fight?” Kovalev was the much busier of the two from the opening bell of the entertaining fight. He was the aggressor backing up Ward who seemed content to wait for his opportunity to land a punch.

Both fighters landed solid blows in the fourth round, Kovalev with his stinging jab and Ward scoring with well-timed counter punches.

But by the sixth, Ward said he could sense Kovalev was fading.  “Championship fights start in second half, in the sixth round. When I saw him reacting to the body shots that were borderline I knew I had him,” Ward said.

On the undercard, two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux defeated Moises Flores with a controversial fight-ending punch at the close of the first round to retain his WBA junior featherweight title.

The victory was disputed as television replays showed Rigondeaux landed a left hand after the round-ending bell had rang. He also landed three punches while holding Flores’ head from behind just before the knockout.

Rigondeaux improved to 18-0 with 12 knockouts, while Flores, of Mexico, dropped to 25-1, with 17 KOs.

Flores stayed down for several minutes and had to be helped back to his corner where he sat during a lengthy review that eventually resulted in Rigondeaux being crowned the winner.

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