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It was a tough week for boxing for a wide variety of reasons: first and foremost, the deaths of Maxim Dadashev and Hugo Santillan.
Dadashev was the higher-profile fighter of the two, having been trained by Buddy McGirt and promoted by Top Rank. While the Maryland State Athletic Commission is investigating the death, nobody has been able to point out an obvious mistake that was made, and while there is talk of a lack of a stretcher, that seems like a minor infraction. Everyone in the ring seems to have done the right thing, as well. This was a compelling matchup between two undefeated fighters and a fight that McGirt stopped at what seemed like a good time. Dadashev just died, because in boxing, sometimes people die. Opponent Subriel Matias reacted to news of the death with a reported declaration: “I don’t want this check.” He is currently 14-0 and has stopped every opponent he has faced. After he killed Jimmy Doyle in the ring in 1947, Sugar Ray Robinson supposedly stopped caring about boxing and never had the same finishing instincts. We have seen fighters like Sergey Kovalev remain good finishers after causing an in-ring death. Time will tell how Matias handles such a tragic event.
Hugo Santillan was the second death to occur this week. He fought to a draw against Eduardo Abreu but collapsed while the scorecards were being read. The Argentinian later died in the hospital after undergoing surgery for a blood clot in his brain.
Whyte Alleged to Have Fought After Failing Drug Test
With the media’s spotlight focused on the dangers of boxing, it was not the best time to find out that a 260-pound knockout artist failed a test for steroids and was allowed to fight with no repercussions. That is what is being alleged in the Dillian Whyte-Oscar Rivas matchup, as Whyte reportedly tested positive for anabolic steroid metabolites in a pre-fight drug test and was allowed to fight anyway. If true, this is a disaster for boxing and a disgrace for everyone involved. For those keeping keeping count, this failure would mean that Whyte, Jarrell Miller, Tyson Fury, Luis Ortiz and Alexander Povetkin have all failed PED tests. That’s 40 percent of ESPN’s Top 10 heavyweights in the world.
Zab Judah also believes he fought a steroid abuser. Judah was stopped in the 11th round of his fight against Cletus Seldin and suffered bleeding of the brain afterward. Seldin tested positive for high testosterone levels in 2017, so it would not be shocking if he was using PEDs to prepare for his fight against Judah. However, there is no indication he tested positive for anything prior to their fight, so it remains unclear if Judah knows something everybody else does not. Judah has hired a law firm to investigate the issue and is demanding to see the results of Seldin’s urine tests. Hopefully, everything checks out.
Canelo-Kovalev Likely Happening in October
It appears as though Saul “Canelo” Alvarez really does not want to face Gennady Golovkin again. The story was that Canelo was going keep his IBF belt and face mandatory opponent Sergey Derevyanchenko. Supposedly, Dazn hated this idea -- Derevyanchenko is not well known and has already lost to Daniel Jacobs, a man Alvarez defeated in May -- and said that if Canelo wanted to make it happen, the company needed assurance that a third “GGG” fight would come after.
When that idea hit Golden Boy, all of a sudden, the Sergey Kovalev fight rose from the dead. Now it is being reported by The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger that Kovalev-Canelo is almost a done deal for October. That would mean Canelo would bail on the IBF belt and GGG probably faces Derevyanchenko to scoop it up. Kovalev is an absurdly risky matchup for Canelo, so all credit to Alvarez. Whether he is nervous about how GGG would perform with his new trainer in a third matchup or just does not want to give him the star power/money a fight with him affords, Canelo seems to want to avoid a third fight with GGG, no matter how much Dazn wants it.
Mayweather, Pacquiao Feud on Social Media
Floyd Mayweather was at the Manny Pacquiao-Keith Thurman fight on June 20, so it was probably inevitable that the two would trade barbs on social media. That happened when the two all-time greats went back and forth, with Pacquiao claiming Mayweather was using him to remain relevant and Mayweather reminding Pacquiao about who won their fight in 2015. The Grand Rapids, Michigan, native also claimed that Pacquiao’s entire legacy has been built upon his connection to him, in one way or another.
Who would win the rematch? Interestingly enough, according to Westgate, Mayweather would be a 9-to-5 favorite. Yes, despite not having fought in two years -- his exhibition against Tenshin Nasukawa does not count -- and not having fought a legitimate professional boxer since 2015, a 42-year-old “Money Mayweather” would be the favorite over the guy who just beat ESPN’s fourth-best welterweight in the world.
One of the fascinating things about Pacquiao’s resurgence is how good it makes Mayweather look. With the Filipino superstar still taking down elite welterweights four years after he fought Mayweather, it’s hard to make the argument that Mayweather waited for Pacquiao to become old and washed-up before making the fight happen or that the result of their encounter would have been any different had they met earlier in their careers.
Holyfield’s Son to Turn Professional, Fight at 154
Evander Holyfield’s son, Evan, announced that he would turn professional, fight at 154 pounds and sign with Main Events. Holyfield is 21 years old, will be trained by Maurice “Termite” Watkins and will work with his father’s strength and conditioning coach, Tim Hallmark.
Watkins has a crazy story. After a professional boxing career that saw him lose his only title shot to Saoul Mamby and a fight against Olympian Howard Davis Jr., Watkins (completely unrelated to his nickname) became an exterminator. When the United States invaded Iraq, he was asked to help fumigate some of the Iraqi houses that had been destroyed by insects. Later, Iraq wanted to establish an Olympic boxing team. Watkins had a unique mix of Iraq/boxing knowledge, so he coached the Iraqi Olympic boxing team and coined the apparently now ubiquitous phrase in Iraqi sports: “Iraq is back!” Because of his name, Holyfield will draw all the attention, but Watkins has the more interesting story.