Fightful Boxing Newsletter (6/6) Table of Contents:
- Andy Ruiz Jr. Beats Anthony Joshua To Win Unified Heavyweight Titles (Page 1)
- Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. Full Results (Page 2)
- Deontay Wilder Announces Fights Against Luis Ortiz, Potential Rematch Against Tyson Fury (Page 3)
- News And Notes From The World Of Boxing (Page 4)
- "I Am Duran" Review (Page 5)
- Gennadiy Golovkin vs. Steve Rolls Preview (Page 6)
Andy Ruiz Jr. Beats Anthony Joshua To Win Unified Heavyweight Titles
This past week was perhaps the biggest and most impactful week in boxing's heavyweight division in years, highlighted by what can only be described as this generation's Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas moment.
Andy Ruiz Jr., a former title challenger who came in as a replacement for Jarrell Miller who tested positive for multiple banned substances, rocked the boxing world to its core and defeated Anthony Joshua to win the WBA "Super, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles. Ruiz, who came in as much as a +1100 underdog against Joshua, stopped the British star in his U.S. debut on June 1 at Madison Square Garden.
But it wasn't the fact that Ruiz beat Joshua, the real surprise came in the way Ruiz beat Joshua. Ruiz completely dominated Joshua from the second half of the third round all the way to the stoppage in the seventh round, dropping Joshua four times in the fight. This was perhaps the most dominant world heavyweight title win by the challenger since Deontay Wilder cruised to a 12-round decision against Bermane Stiverne to win the WBC heavyweight title in 2015.
This was a fascinating fight to analyze from almost every way imaginable as it was Joshua who scored the first knockdown of the fight when he dropped Ruiz in the third round before Ruiz came back up and dominated Joshua.
The moment Joshua dropped Ruiz, Joshua was a completely different fighter it seemed. He made amateurish mistakes one after another, trying to force a knockout when one wasn't available. Joshua forgot how to utilize his jab and distinct size and reach advantage to outbox Ruiz and decided to trade punches on the inside with a guy who is faster than him at short range. It was a recipe for disaster and even on the first knockdown, you can tell something was wrong with Joshua.
Of course, that's not to take away credit from Ruiz, who boxed about as brilliantly as anyone could coming back from a knockdown against a unified champion so heavily favored against you. Ruiz took his time, picked his spots to attack and took advantage of any opening Joshua gave him. By the time the second Ruiz knockdown came in the third round, we were all thinking that Ruiz is probably going to pull off the monumental upset.
What was certainly surprising was the behavior of both Joshua and promoter Eddie Hearn after the fight. Joshua looked very happy despite being on the wrong side of a historical fight result and both men had no problem doing as much media as they could (Joshua didn’t appear in the post-fight press conference as he was getting checked out for a concussion).
One thing that is abundantly clear is that Joshua performed way below average compared to some of his past fights, a fact that not even his own promoter is willing to hide.
“AJ got sloppy. It was a beautiful combination in the third round. He was in total control of the fight but he got sloppy and never recovered. Listen, [last night] was his night but AJ will come back 100 percent and we will make the rematch in the U.K. in November or December. But this night now belongs to Andy Ruiz, he made history in the heavyweight division tonight. It will go down in history as a very big one. AJ has the heart of a lion and will come back stronger. Now at least we know the opponent for the end of the year in the U.K. Absolutely we will enact the immediate rematch. He will be devastated when it sinks in. It makes the fall fight a must win," Hearn said in a post-fight interview with DAZN.
When the fight was finished, everybody immediately went to say that this was the modern incarnation of the Tyson-Douglas fight at the Tokyo Dome in 1990 when Douglas knocked Tyson out in the 10th round and pulled off one of the greatest upsets in sports history.
While everyone is calling it this generation's Tyson-Douglas moment, Joshua-Ruiz isn't as monumental or culturally impacting, but for what it is worth, Ruiz winning might have been the shot in the arm boxing has been craving for years now, something that has people outside of the sport talking in at least a somewhat-positive manner.
From a historical standpoint, this might end up being one of the most improbable upsets in boxing history given how many things had to have happened that led to Ruiz winning the the unified titles. Ruiz got the opportunity to fight Joshua after Jarrell Miller, Joshua's original opponent, failed multiple drug tests back in March and was denied a license to fight the heavyweight titles. Not only did it take Miller failing those tests, but also talks with the likes of Manuel Charr, Adam Kownacki, Michael Hunter and Luis Ortiz all falling through one way or another before Ruiz even got consideration from Hearn.
Ruiz has turned into an overnight sensation and perhaps the sport’s newest fan favorite from a casual standpoint. Ruiz is someone that the everyday man can relate to and him being the first male fighter of Mexican descent to become a world heavyweight champion will make him into possibly the one of the biggest Mexican stars in boxing today.
If Joshua had won the fight, the impact on mainstream news in the United States would be nowhere near as strong as Ruiz winning. By now, everybody would have likely forgotten about the fight and would simply chalk it all up to Joshua facing someone that was not on his level.
Now, the sport is getting massive amounts of coverage from this upset along and one can even look at this result and make a case that DAZN may end up benefiting from the fight. With the rematch more than likely landing on DAZN, there will be a lot more interest and potential new subscribers, far more than what DAZN would get had Joshua won the fight and his next fight would have been against anyone not named Wilder or Tyson Fury.
As for the rematch itself, Hearn announced on Twitter that he has triggered a rematch clause and is planning to have the rematch for the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles either in November and December. The venue has not been decided and is set "to be confirmed shortly."
Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. Full Results
Shifting the focus away from the main event to the full card itself, the June 1 Matchroom Boxing card proved to have one of the deepest cards from top to bottom in the United States this year. A total of six fights, three of which were for world titles, were streamed on DAZN with plenty to talk about.
Perhaps the most noteworthy result was the conclusion to the Katie Taylor vs. Delfine Persoon fight to crown the first-ever undisputed women’s lightweight champion. As expected, the fight ended up being arguably the best fight of the night and arguably one of the best women’s boxing fights of 2019 thus far. But even that couldn’t save it from the controversy that was the scorecards.
Taylor ended up winning the fight by majority decision when most thought Persoon won. The fight was gritty and physically-demanding for both women, but the two ended up having what resembled more of a street fight than an actual boxing match. The two women’s faces were very bruised and each had multiple cuts across their faces, but Persoon’s face was the one that looked worse for wear.
In the end, Taylor ended up winning the fight, but to say that the rivalry between the two is over would be premature. If anything, an immediate rematch should be done later this year when both are fully healthy and recovered from the fight. It would at the very least give Taylor and Persoon one more chance to prove who is undoubtedly the best lightweight in the world and give boxing fans another excellent fight.
However, should that rematch not happen immediately next, the fight to make for Taylor’s first outing as the undisputed champion is against seven-division champion Amanda Serrano. Serrano did sign a three-fight deal with DAZN several months ago and has only fought once since then. Aside from the three women who are undisputed champions in their respective divisions (Taylor, Claressa Shields and Cecilia Breakhus), Serrano is not only the best pound-for-pound boxer in women’s boxing, but also the biggest star in the United States and a fight between the Taylor and Serrano could end up becoming a barnburner and make a legitimate case of not just being one of the best women’s boxing fights of 2019, but one of the best boxing fights overall of the year when it is all said and done.
The co-main event of the card featured WBA “Super” super middleweight champion Callum Smith steamrolling Hassan N’Dam in what was easily the biggest mismatch of the entire card. Smith dropped N’Dam three times in the fight before ultimately stopping him with a straight right in the third round.
More than anything, this fight served as a way for Smith to shake off the ring rust (Smith hasn’t fought since September 2018 in Saudi Arabia), but also serve as a bit of an audition for a potential fight against Canelo Alvarez down the road.
It’s abundantly clear that the plan for DAZN is to have Alvarez face Gennadiy Golovkin on September 14 in a trilogy fight, but if for whatever reason that fight isn’t made, Alvarez could simply move up in weight to 168 pounds for a fight against Smith. A matchup against Smith would be an intriguing matchup giving Smith’s size and ability to use his length to his advantage. Smith is arguably the best super middleweight in the world (sans Alvarez), but the fight might end up being a little too risky for DAZN to make before Canelo-Golovkin 3. After all, we’ve seen what happens when one of DAZN’s biggest stars loses in anticipation for a bigger fight down the road, so putting Smith up against Alvarez might not be in the cards for 2019 at the very least, especially since the WBA is showing no signs of ordering Smith to fight Alvarez, who also holds the WBA “Regular” super middleweight title to go along with the unified WBA “Super,” WBC and IBF middleweight titles.
The rest of the undercard also featured the likes of Chris Algieri, who managed to stop Tommy Coyle to move one step closer to a potential WBO junior welterweight title fight down the road, and Josh Kelly, who fought Ray Robinson to a draw, and light heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi. Algieri, Kelly and Buatsi provided some solid depth on the undercard, but even in the best of scenarios, neither man is really going to sniff a world title opportunity within the next 12 months.
June 1 Matchroom Boxing on DAZN Full Results from Madison Square Garden, New York:
- Andy Ruiz Jr. defeated Anthony Joshua by TKO, round 7 to win the unified WBA “Super,” WBO and IBF Heavyweight Titles: The first two rounds saw Joshua pace himself throughout the fight, landing the left jab and move back to avoid Ruiz's fast punches. The third round, now a candidate for "Round of the Year," saw Joshua start by dropping Ruiz first with a left uppercut. Ruiz got back up and returned the favor by dropping Joshua twice in the same round. Joshua was slow to get up after each knockdown but survived the round. As the fight progressed, Joshua showed little signs of recovery as he was still reeling from the two knockdowns. Ruiz found a lot of success connecting with the hooks and body shots and Joshua did not do much to get back in the fight. The seventh round saw Joshua get dropped twice more and after getting back up the final time, the referee decided to stop the fight.
- Callum Smith defeated Hassan N'Dam by TKO, round 3 to retain the WBA "Super" and Ring Magazine Super Middleweight Titles: The fight was one-sided from the start as Smith dropped N’Dam with a check left hook in the first round and N’Dam struggled to get back up. The second round was almost a mirror image of the first round with N’Dam getting knocked down by Smith from a hook and N’Dam having trouble in getting up. N’Dam recovered in the third round by fighting better than in the first two rounds and having some success landing punches on the inside. But with just seconds remaining in the round, Smith connected with a straight right hand to the side of N’Dam’s head and the challenger dropped to the canvas and his head bouncing off the mat. Although N’Dam managed to will himself back up, the referee decided to step in and stop the fight, awarding Smith the win.
- Katie Taylor defeated Delfine Persoon by majority decision to become the Undisputed WBA, WBO, WBC, IBF and Ring Magazine Female Lightweight champion: The action was ugly and bloody as both women bruised each other's faces throughout the 10 rounds. Taylor started off well by landing better jabs and cleaner punches in the first round, but Persoon quickly turned the tide in her favor. Persoon's aggressive and scrappy fighting made the fight awkward for Taylor, who struggled to land many clean shots. Persoon's left eye was swollen shut as the fight progressed, but still pressed the action forward. The two champions landed several big shots and had moments where both fighters stood in the middle of the ring and traded hooks and jabs. In the last few rounds, Taylor kept moving back and forcing Persoon to give chase and make her run out of stamina. By the end of the fight, Persoon believed she was the winner of the fight, but after the scorecards were read, Persoon was in utter disgust and immediately left the ring in frustration. A rematch should be ordered given how great the action was at times and how controversial the result ended up being.
- Josh Kelly and Ray Robinson fight to a majority draw, Kelly retains the WBA International Welterweight Title
- Joshua Buatsi defeated Marco Antonio by TKO, round 4 to retain the WBA International Light Heavyweight Title
- Chris Algieri defeated Tommy Coyle by TKO, round 8 to retain the WBO International Junior Welterweight Title
Deontay Wilder Announces Fights Against Luis Ortiz, Potential Rematch Against Tyson Fury
Before the chaos that was Anthony Joshua losing his three heavyweight titles to Andy Ruiz Jr., Deontay Wilder, holder of the fourth and final world title needed to crown the next undisputed champion, dropped a couple of bombshell announcements in the span of a couple of days.
The first one was the announcement that he would face Luis Ortiz next later this year, but the second piece of news, by far the bigger of the two, is that contracts have been signed for Wilder and Tyson Fury to have their highly-anticipated rematch, assuming that Wilder defeats Ortiz first.
According to Lance Pugmire, the fight between Wilder and Ortiz could potentially land in Los Angeles at the Staples Center on September 7, though nothing is set in stone. The possible date and venue comes from Pugmire's conversations with unnamed boxers who are also reportedly planned to fight on that card and from Staples Center officials who confirmed to Pugmire that PBC does have a hold for September 7 at the venue.
The first fight between Wilder and Ortiz, which took place in March 2018 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, was short of it being a heavyweight classic, but it still ended up being one of the better fights of the year. Ortiz was arguably the closest to ever stopping Wilder center in the ring, but Wilder managed to recover and stop the Cuban heavyweight in the 10th round.
In a tweet announcing the fight, Wilder said he wanted to get all of the controversial fights corrected, starting with Ortiz. It may seem a bit confusing to call the fight against Ortiz a controversial one given how Wilder recovered from Ortiz’s punches to score the TKO victory. If one were to look back on the fight, the only moment where it may be deemed controversial is the start of the seventh round where Wilder was inexplicably given around 20 more seconds of rest while a ringside physician checked on him for no apparent reason. Wilder was hurt in the previously round, but not concussed or even cut, which made the check-up all the more confusing.
Still, when the fight was over, no one was really talking about the extended rest Wilder had at the start of the seventh round. Wilder himself may feel like the vocal minority (if there even is one in this instance), was enough to justify fighting Ortiz once more.
However decisive that first fight was, there’s no doubt that Ortiz is one of the three best heavyweight contenders that do not hold a title prior to the announcement. There’s no doubt that fans are at least somewhat excited about the rematch against Ortiz, but the reasons for why it’s happening may seem a little perplexing on the surface.
Their first encounter, which took place at Staples Center last December, ended in a split draw despite Wilder dropping Fury twice in the fight. The draw snapped Wilder's 40-fight win streak while Fury failed to capture the lone major alphabet world title he has yet to win in his career.
The two sides were negotiating a rematch, potentially for May 2019, but the fight fell through when Fury blindsided the sport by announcing a multi-fight deal with Top Rank Boxing to fight on ESPN platforms. The announcement meant that a Wilder-Fury rematch would more than likely not happen in 2019 after Wilder and his team rejected a multi-fight offer from Top Rank that would have Wilder fight Dominic Breazeale on an ESPN platform in an effort to build up to the rematch against Fury.
Before we can even think about a potential rematch between Wilder and Fury, both men have to win their next fights. While Wilder is focused on Ortiz next, Fury does have to face for his next fight against unbeaten German contender Tom Schwarz on June 15. The fight will take place in Las Vegas and serve as Fury’s debut as a member of the Top Rank roster.
Even if Fury defeats Schwarz, Fury is still penciled in for another fight in September before focusing on Wilder. The announcement made by Wilder is certainly interesting as far as the timing is concerned.
What’s going to be something to be watched out for is how Top Rank books Fury moving forward. Top Rank and ESPN are probably more likely now to put Fury up against an easier opponent in September to minimize the amount of risk before the rematch against Wilder. As it stands, the likeliest plan for Wilder-Fury 2 in terms of broadcasting is for the event to be a rare joint pay-per-view event between PBC and Top Rank (with ESPN and FOX or Showtime serving as the two networks involved) and there’s no doubt that a rematch, if marketed well, can do a very solid buyrate, somewhere in the ballpark of 500,000 buys.
News And Notes From The World Of Boxing:
- Those that have been around boxing social media in the past few months may or may not have known about the sudden existence of a new title being created called the WBO Global title. With no real explanation of what exactly it is and whether or not it is a second minor world title (mainly because the word Global would give off vibes of it being a world title), people started to question whether or not the WBO was going down the same road as the WBA has been in recent years with multiple “world” titles per weight class. Well, I had a brief conversation with Gustavo Olivieri, who serves as the In-house Counsel for the WBO, and he elaborated on what the title actually is. Olivieri explained that the WBO Global title was originally intended to be the WBO Trans-Oceanic title, but after some further talks within the organization, the name was changed to what we see today. The title serves as a way for the WBO to have a presence in countries the WBO has no real presence and is just a regional title and not a second world title. Olivieri said the WBO would only do interim titles if the situation warrants it and he shares the same opinion many have in saying the WBA’s problem in having multiple world titles is a big problem in the sport.
- MTK Global has announced a massive show taking place in Kazakhstan this summer featuring a world title fight. The card will take place on July 6 at the Barys Arena in Nur-Sultan and will feature a number of contenders in action as well as WBC bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali defending his title against Arthur Villanueva. The card will be streamed on ESPN+ in the United States. A second title fight will see David Oliver Joyce defending his WBO European featherweight title for the first time since winning it on April 5 when he stopped Stephen Tiffney. Also announced for the show is the return of unbeaten welterweight Zhankosh Turarov taking on an opponent to be named at a later date. Turarov, a former WBA Fedecentro junior welterweight titleholder, last fought in September 2017 when he won a 10-round decision against Bruno Leonardo Romay. The official announcement from MTK Global also stated that unbeaten prospects Sultan Zaurbek, Viktor Kotochigov, Ali Baloyev, Abilkhaiyr Shegaliyev, Nurtas Azhbenov and Abay Tolesh will be fighting on the card in separate bouts. Opponents for all of those fighters will be announced at a later date.
- PBC took a hit to its summer schedule when a rematch between Tony Harrison and Jermell Charlo, set for June 23 in Las Vegas, was called off after Harrison injured his ankle last week. Harrison's injuries, an inner and outer ankle sprain with torn ligaments in his right ankle, will prevent him from training for the next 10 weeks. The fight was supposed to headline a Fox-televised card from the Mandalay Bay, but even with the news of Harrison getting injured, PBC did everything to make sure the card stayed intact and able to be televised on Fox. On June 3, PBC announced that middleweight veteran Jorge Cota will face Charlo in the main event. The rest of the main card stayed the same with Guillermo Rigondeaux facing Julio Ceja in a WBC super bantamweight title eliminator and Joey Spencer facing Akeem Black in the opening bout.
- The annual IBF convention recently took place in Macau, China and although there are no public news regarding the organization moving forward, it did hold a special card at the Wynn Palace Cotai on June 1. A total of three regional title bouts took place on the card, but the most notable one was the main event. Not only did Meng Fanlong and Adam Deines fight for the IBF International light heavyweight title, but they also fought for the right to be mandatory challenger to Artur Beterbiev’s world title. Fanlong ultimately won by unanimous decision and could potentially be Beterbiev’s next opponent unless Beterbiev is allowed to make a voluntary title defense in the coming months. The other two fights saw Steve Gago defeat Adam Diu Abdulhamid to win the IBF Pan Pacific welterweight title and Richie Mepranum win a majority decision against Sen Chen to win the IBF Pan Pacific super bantamweight title. The lone non-title fight was a four-round bout that had Xinlong Bai win his pro debut against Hon Lek Ao by split decision.
- Top Rank Boxing announced that Teofimo Lopez will face Masayoshi Nakatani in an IBF lightweight title eliminator on July 19 at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland. The fight will headline a Top Rank card that will be streamed on ESPN+ in the United States. Lopez, one of the fastest-rising stars in the lightweight division, is coming off a fifth-round knockout win over European champion Edis Tatli in the co-main event of the April 20 Top Rank on ESPN pay-per-view card from Madison Square Garden. The 21-year-old Lopez is currently ranked in the top five on all four major governing bodies and has beaten his last five opponents from inside the distance. Nakatani, ranked No. 3 by the IBF at lightweight, is also unbeaten in the pro ranks enjoying a four-fight knockout streak of his own. The winner of Lopez vs. Nakatani will be the mandatory challenger to the IBF title being held by Richard Commey. Commey is set to defend his title against former lightweight champion Raymundo Beltran on a Top Rank on ESPN card on June 28. It’s clear that the Top Rank plan is to have Lopez be properly built as a true star in the division and the goal is to have him fight the Commey-Beltran winner by the end of the year. With WBA and WBO champion Vasiliy Lomachenko fighting for the vacant WBC title later this year, Top Rank is hoping to have Lomachenko and Lopez face each other in 2020 for the undisputed lightweight titles, potentially as a pay-per-view main event.
- WBO champion Maurice Hooker and WBC champion Jose Ramirez will clash in a title unification on July 27. The fight will take place at College Center Park in Arlington, Texas, Hooker's home state, and will be streamed on DAZN in the United States. The fight would culminate a near year-long rivalry between the two titleholders as both men had publicly stated their interest in fighting each other. Hooker had been interested in fighting Ramirez even before Hooker's first title defense which took place last November in Oklahoma. Hooker defeated Alex Saucedo last year on ESPN in his first defense and proceeded to call out Ramirez in the middle of the ring, inviting the WBC champion to fight him on DAZN. Hooker's last fight saw him dominate Mikkel LesPierre in March in Verona, New York on DAZN. Prior to the fight against LesPierre, Hooker told Fightful in an exclusive interview that he hoped to defend his title in Texas this summer, but wasn't entirely sure if he was facing Ramirez next, believing fights against the top names at 140 pounds would come in 2020. Ramirez has held the WBC title since March 2018 when he won a 12-round decision against Amir Imam at Madison Square Garden. Since then, Ramirez has successfully defended the title twice: once against Antonio Orozco in September 2018 and once against Jose Zepeda this past February, both fights taking place in Fresno, California. The two sides have been negotiating a fight deal between the two after Hooker's fight against LesPierre, with Ramirez confirming such talks were taking place several weeks back. This would be the first of two potential title unification fights at 140 pounds taking place this year. Aside from Hooker vs. Ramirez for the unified WBO and WBC titles, there will be a unification bout for the WBA and IBF titles between Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor. That fight, which is also the finals of the World Boxing Super Series junior welterweight tournament, currently does not have a date or venue announced, but it is expected to take place later this year. One can definitely look at this fight as the start of Eddie Hearn wanting to have all four 140-pound titles on DAZN. Making an educated guess on what Hearn is thinking, he believes that Hooker can beat Ramirez and that Taylor beats Prograis later this year. Given that Hearn has publicly stated he is interested in bringing Taylor on board with Matchroom Boxing in some capacity, a hypothetical Hooker vs. Taylor for the undisputed junior welterweight titles will see a winner be affiliated with Matchroom Boxing in some form and by extension, on DAZN.
- Oleksandr Usyk lost his WBO and WBC cruiserweight titles as his heavyweight debut looms closer and prospects of him going back to cruiserweight are essentially nonexistent. On June 4, the WBC announced that Usyk would be named “Champion in Recess,” leaving the title in position to eventually be in the World Boxing Super Series. On June 5, the WBO made Usyk’s end as its cruiserweight champion official. As a result, Krzysztof Glowacki has been elevated from interim titleholder to world champion. With the announcement of Glowacki being ascended to WBO champion came the news of Glowacki's first title defense. Glowacki will defend his title against Mairis Briedis, ranked No. 2 by the WBO, on June 15 in Riga, Latvia in the World Boxing Super Series semifinals. That fight will be streamed on DAZN in the United States. What’s left of Usyk’s reign as a cruiserweight champion is his IBF title still being active. That’s expected to end soon with the IBF title potentially also being on the line in the World Boxing Super Series at some point.
“I Am Duran” Review:
Author’s Note: I was given an advance copy of the film prior to its official release on June 4. The opinions expressed in this review are solely mine.
Sports and politics has always been intertwined in some way, shape or form for centuries, but the topic isn’t so openly explored when it comes to documentaries, especially in boxing.
In comes "I Am Duran," a film directed by Mat Hodgson, that focuses on legendary boxer Roberto Duran's boxing career and its impact on his native country of Panama during a time of extreme political turmoil that included a period of heavy tension with the United States. The film has Duran talk about his time growing up in Panama and how the country changed in the 80s alongside Duran's career with interviews featuring the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard and key political figures in Panama.
The film opens up with a view of modern day Panama City and pans over to Duran, now in his 60s, talking about being born a fighter and dying a fighter.
That ends up being a major theme throughout the film as it shows not only Duran fighting inside the ring throughout the 1980s but also Panama fighting through political turmoil. The film tried to intertwine Duran’s success and failures inside the ring with Panama’s social and political status during that era.
Certainly one aspect of the film that it performs well are the number of people interviewed for this project. Aside from the aforementioned names, the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Ricky Hatton, Larry Merchant, Bob Arum, Don King, Robert De Niro and many more were also interviewed for the film. One name that definitely stands out, though the amount of screen time is far less than one would assume given how big of a focus he was in certain parts of the documentary, is former Panama ruler Manuel Noriega, whom the film depicts in a negative light based on the opinions of the Panamanian people who were alive during his reign. The key points in Noriega’s interview was his personal relationship with Duran. The film certainly does its job in getting virtually every single point of view on Duran.
Duran’s legendary rivalry with Leonard is touched upon heavily in the film, especially the infamous “No Mas” fight in 1981 that saw Duran quit in the middle of a rematch against Leonard. From that point in the film onward is where the film truly starts to shine as this imperfect hero for the Panamanian people. The film tracks Duran professional and personal downward spiral in the aftermath of the “No Mas” fight and subsequent rise back to prominence.
Through archived film of Duran’s career and the multiple testimonies and anecdotes from dozens of different key figures interviewed throughout the film, you get a sense of how much Duran was an icon in Panama. Duran was not just a voice for his people, but the film portrays him as a living personification of everything that was happening in the country. Whenever Panama was in a rut, Duran’s in-ring success would elevate the country and boost its morale, signifying his importance to its fellow countryman.
As for the overall message that Hodgson wants to get across to viewers through the film is how one person can have such a profound impact on so many people through sport alone.
"For me, sport and heroes are important. That's what we're getting at with this film. He might be a reluctant hero. He might be an active hero, it doesn't matter. People need heroes. Sport is very important in culture and society to permeate beyond the obvious. I would like to think that when the people see the connection between Roberto and his country, for me it's very obvious. He's more interesting because he's sort of a flawed hero, but we need these characters in life. We need these heroes. Kids needs them and adults need them and that's what I hope comes out of this story: hope and inspiration," Hodgson said in an exclusive interview with Fightful.
Also in that interview, Hodgson revealed how the project came together. According to Hodgson, it all started when Hodgson first met Duran while he was making another documentary, this one on Hatton. After hearing more about Duran and Panama during the 80s from his wife, Hodgson got inspired with telling a story that went beyond Duran as a boxer and wanted to tell the story of the Panamanian people from the start.
"Well, what's this random Englishman doing a documentary on Roberto Duran of Panama right? Well, I met Roberto when I was doing a documentary on Ricky Hatton a few years ago and Roberto came into the room and he lit up the room. Obviously, everybody knows who he is, but there was something next level about his charisma and presence that got me thinking, 'This person is a character.' Fast forward a few years and I met my wife, who grew up in Panama and she was talking about Roberto Duran and Panama history and I started putting together the two storylines together in my head. I found the politics really interesting and important to the story and I wanted to do something that wasn't just some sports story and have some other layers to it. I went to Panama, did some research and everybody kept telling me the same thing. They said they went through some terrible things in the 80s and whenever the country was down, Duran would come and pick them up and was their beacon of hope and thar's where it came from," Hodgson said.
The documentary isn’t without its faults, however. It’s main problem, for me, stems from the fact that this is only a 90-minute film. For someone like Duran, 90 minutes is nowhere near enough for a documentary on his career, especially when it comes to his relationship with the Panamanian people. The film tries to cram as much as it can to encompass the entire story, but what we get at times is more of a cliff notes version of the full subject. Though it does manage to touch upon virtually every subplot imaginable in this type of documentary, tt doesn’t give certain topics the due amount of time as it needed.
Ultimately, the film does about as well as one could expect from a documentary on this topic. Cinematically, Hodgson was able to create some outstanding moments, especially one moment in which Duran and Leonard were speechless while they were interviewed during a key moment in their rivalry. The film is a solid entry that is the saga of Roberto Duran and anybody that is interested in sports stories that go past the playing field will certainly enjoy this film.
Gennadiy Golovkin vs. Steve Rolls Full Preview:
Gennadiy Golovkin’s first fight since losing a rematch to Canelo Alvarez isn’t exactly one to inspire a ton of excitement, but there is plenty to be paying attention for. The intrigue in this fight is not in the combatants themselves, but in the multiple storylines involving the A-side.
Golovkin will face unbeaten rising middleweight contender Steve Rolls on June 8 at Madison Square Garden in the main event of a boxing card to be streamed on DAZN. The fight will be Golovkin’s first in a three-year, six-fight deal with the streaming service that opens up a potential trilogy fight against Alvarez.
Of course, that all depends on if Golovkin beats Rolls, but there is no doubt that he is not only a heavy favorite to win, but also could be facing Alvarez this September if DAZN had its way. There is one big difference from Golovkin’s last fight to this upcoming fight against Rolls that does not have to do with the broadcast platform.
Gone from Golovkin's team is long-time trainer Abel Sanchez and in his place is Johnathon Banks, a pupil of the late Emanuel Steward and former trainer to Wladimir Klitschko. Looking at pre-fight workout videos, there seems to be more pep in Golovkin's step and now the former middleweight champion isn't the top fighter in the division.
That honor belongs to Alvarez, who now owns three of the four middleweight titles after beating Golovkin in the fall of 2018. But with the absence of the titles came a little less pressure on Golovkin’s world titles, he seems much more lively this time around and we could potentially see the beginning of a slightly improved Golovkin, which, in the best case scenario, would see him remain the most dangerous 160-pound boxer in the world outside of Alvarez.
We might not be able to see the fruits of Banks’ labor given that Rolls isn’t an opponent that will provide much of a challenge to Golovkin on paper. More than anything, it is entirely possible (and to some people, probable) that this fight will end in the same way Golovkin’s fight against Vanes Martirosyan in May 2018 ended with the Kazakh fighter winning by second-round knockout. If the June 8 bout ends up being anything close to what we see in May 2018, then we won’t really know how much better (or worse) Golovkin is with Banks as his new trainer.
“I think it’s going to be a very interesting matchup, because with Steve Rolls, he’s fighting for his chance to a new life. And that never should be overlooked. It’s the same thing I said two weeks ago about Andy Ruiz, when I was asked about that. I said, I just hope Joshua is focused and ready to go because Andy Ruiz is fighting for his life. When you have a guy who has nothing to lose and everything to gain, that becomes the most dangerous man you’ve ever faced. And that’s Steve Rolls. There’s nothing about Rolls that’s being overlooked, there’s nothing about him that’s being underestimated. GGG and I do plan on being successful on Saturday night. The fact that we’re not overlooking him, that’s not going to change our plan to be successful on Saturday night. I hope the crowd is satisfied with the victory. This man is already a complete package. My goal, my vision is to get the knockout. The goal is always the knockout. Only difference now is it’s a different way of going about it. We’re doing multiple things, and hoping to still get it. And if we don’t, still get that decision. We had such a short period of time. I think we jived together right away. For me and GGG, it was like ice cream and cake. I think certain things just fit well together, there’s no explaining,” Banks said in the final press conference during fight week.
Below is the full card:
- Gennadiy Golovkin vs. Steve Rolls: 164-pound catchweight
- Ali Akhmedov vs. Marcus McDaniel: WBC International super middleweight title
- Charles Conwell vs. Courtney Pennington: USBA junior middleweight title
- Israil Madrimov vs. Norberto Gonzalez
- Brian Ceballo vs. Bakhitar Eyubov
- Johnathan Arroyo vs. Jordan Morales
- Nikita Ababiy vs. Juan Francisco Lopez Barajas
Tale of the Tape:
Record: 38-1-1 (34 KO)
Titles Won: WBA “Super” Middleweight, WBC Middleweight, IBF Middleweight, IBO Middleweight World Titles
Notable Opponents: Canelo Alvarez, Daniel Jacobs, Kell Brook, David Lemieux, Martin Murray, Marco Antonio Rubio, Matthew Macklin
Record: 19-0 (10 KO)
Titles Won: USBA Middleweight Title
Notable Opponents: Demond Nicholson