The Final Four of 2014

2014 Fox Sports Boxing: Rico Ramos vs Jesus Cuellar - May 2, 2014

FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

When you’re my age, the holiday season presents an opportunity to look back at yet another year in the books.

I now ignore what the calendar is telling me because time is definitely speeding up.

But fighters aren’t writers. They’re young men, and time doesn’t move fast enough for them.

Those appearing on Saturday night’s card on SHOWTIME EXTREME, which will be the last televised fight night of 2014, are looking ahead. Their resolutions? Win fights. Make money. Make a name. Win world titles.

Make the future now.

Here’s a look at the four fights we’ll be airing from the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, Wash.

Jesus Cuellar vs. Ruben Tamayo, featherweights: I was ringside in Vegas when Cuellar retired Juanma Lopez by hammering the Puerto Rican legend inside of two merciless rounds. I winced with every punch. Cuellar is that kind of fighter, a wrecking machine whose intent is maximum damage.

The southpaw Cuellar is 25-1, and with wins over a previously unbeaten Claudio Marrero and former world titlists Rico Ramos and Lopez, the Argentinian has established himself as a legitimate top-10 contender.

He’s fun to watch–but not to fight.

Cuellar’s opponent, Mexican left-hander Tamayo, is a respectable veteran who’s coming off an upset win over Efrain Esquivias. Tamayo, 25-4-4, is a rangy one-two puncher, but he’s been stopped in three of his four losses. Add the fact that Cuellar is the naturally bigger man and there’s only one conclusion to be drawn: Both Cuellar’s winning streak and his highlight reel will be extended.

Gary Russell Jr. vs. Chris Martin, featherweights: This is the first fight of the second stage of former U.S. Olympian Russell’s career.

Last time out, Russell, 24-1, lost on points to Vasyl Lomachenko in a bout for the vacant WBO 126-pound title. Russell had been an excellent amateur. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko, on the other hand, had been arguably one of the five greatest amateurs in history. The difference showed, with Russell punching often, but with little oomph, and Lomachenko ripping shots to the body.

Now Russell, who was widely criticized for the undemanding opposition he faced before meeting Lomachenko, starts over. His opponent, the tricky Martin, 28-4-3, has lost two of his last three. At his best, Martin is a tricky boxer who was good enough to upset Chris Avalos on ShoBox: The New Generation four years ago. But that was at 122 pounds, which is better suited for the featherfisted Martin than 126.

As has been the case in several of his bouts, look for the southpaw Russell to overwhelm Martin with speed and a sizzling right hook.

Russell is only 26. The Lomachenko fight was a painful lesson. It’s time to prove he’s a better fighter for it.

Julian Williams vs. Jamar Freeman, super welterweights: We’ve televised a handful of Williams’ fights on SHOWTIME, and I consider him as blue-chip a prospect as I’ve seen. In fact, it’s not a stretch to already label him a top-15 contender.

Williams, 17-0-1, is a well-schooled boxer-puncher. He’s patient, technically sound, and Philadelphia-tough. That’s a lot for Freeman to overcome.

Freeman, 13-3-2, has been busy this year (this will be his fifth fight), but when moved up in class, he’s failed. He’s a late sub in this one, and it seems a tough spot for him.

Look for a clinical performance from Williams–and a likely stoppage victory.

Julius Jackson vs. Jonathan Nelson, super middleweights: If you’re too young to recall former two-division world titlist Julian Jackson, visit YouTube without passing Go. Jackson was among the biggest hitters of any era, and his one-punch kayos never get old.

Julius Jackson is Julian’s son. The 27-year-old puncher is 18-0 with 14 kayos, but neither he nor Nelson has scored any wins of note. The difference: While Nelson’s been building his record (19-1) against sub-.500 opposition in Texas towns like Texarkana and Nacogdoches, Jackson’s been winning in Panama, Uruguay, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and his native Virgin Islands.

Jackson’s passport may be impressive, but this’ll be his first fight in the USA.

Jackson is rangy, physical, and heavy-handed. His balance, however, needs work. Nelson’s more of a boxer, so look for Jackson to march forward with a seek-and-destroy mentality.

Julius will never be the fighter his father was. For that matter, he can’t match the skills of his brother John, a fringe contender at junior middleweight.

Regardless, this is his chance to begin to make a name for himself.

See you Saturday—and happy holidays to all!

Five, Five, & Five: Boxing In Canada

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FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

THE FIVE GREATEST CANADA-BORN FIGHTERS EVER

1. Sam Langford: Arguably best fighter to never have secured a title shot. Stood only 5-foot-8, but rumbled with bigger men such as legends Jack Johnson and Harry Wills. Born in Nova Scotia, and moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts as child.

2. George Dixon: First black world champion (crowned in 1890) and one of greatest featherweights in history. He’s reported to have invented shadowboxing.

3. George Chuvalo: Might’ve been toughest heavyweight ever; was never floored in 93 bouts. Fought Ali (twice), as well as Foreman, Frazier, Patterson (1965’s Fight of Year), Quarry, Bonavena and Ellis, among others.

4. Lou Brouillard: Southpaw powerpuncher from Quebec reigned as world welter and middle champion in ’30s. Faced all-time greats Mickey Walker and Jimmy McLarnin, among others.

5. Jack Delaney: Was world light heavy champ during first golden era of 175-pound class. Beat all-time great Paul Berlenbach three of four. Never defended title, instead moved up to heavyweight.

FIVE MEMORABLE FIGHTS IN QUEBEC

Roberto Duran W 15 Sugar Ray Leonard, June 20, 1980, Olympic Stadium, Montreal: Both one of most anticipated and best fights in history. Crowd of 46,317 braves rain to watch Duran win welterweight title.

Archie Moore KO 11 Yvon Durelle, December 10, 1956, The Forum, Montreal: Universally listed as one of five best fights in history. Defending light heavyweight champ Moore goes down three times in first round and again in fifth; Durelle, fisherman from New Brunswick, is dropped four times total.

Bernard Hopkins W 12 Jean Pascal, May 21, 2011, Bell Centre, Montreal: Amazing BHop, age 46, becomes oldest fighter ever to win world title (light heavyweight). He had fought to a draw with Pascal five months earlier.

Matthew Hilton W 15 Buster Drayton, June 27, 1987, The Forum, Montreal: Big-punching Hilton becomes first world titlist from Montreal in 44 years. Sellout crowd reacts as if Canadiens had won Stanley Cup.

Lucien Bute W 12 Librado Andrade, October 24, 2008, Bell Centre, Montreal: Controversy in Canada: Bute retains super middle title, but only after suffering devastating knockdown in final five seconds of last round and benefiting from extended count.

FIVE THINGS ABOUT BOXING IN CANADA

I GUESS BUCHAREST WAS UNAVAILABLE: Just curious, but why, in 1983, did light heavyweight titlist Michael Spinks of St. Louis defend against Peruvian contender Oscar Rivadeneyra in Vancouver? Anyway, 5,000 fans attended at Pacific Coliseum, and after knocking out the challenger, Spinks called out middleweight king Marvin Hagler. That fight, of course, never happened.

WHERE DID YOU SAY YOU WERE FROM AGAIN?: England-born Lennox Lewis won an Olympic gold medal for Canada in 1988, but fought Up North only twice as a pro. Arturo Gatti, born in Italy and raised in Montreal, fought in Canada only once as a pro.

Among other fighters associated with Canada who were born elsewhere: Razor Ruddock (Jamaica), Jimmy McLarnin (Ireland), Lucien Bute and Leo Dorin (Romania), and Adonis Stevenson and Jean Pascal (Haiti).

THE MOST CANADIAN OF THEM ALL: George Chuvalo always came home. Although he fought majority of big bouts in the USA, Chuvalo faced Ernie Terrell, Jimmy Ellis and Muhammad Ali in Toronto, and also fought Ali in Vancouver.

HIGH HOPES, BIG BUSTS: The disappointment began at 1984 Olympics, where heavyweight Willie deWit and light middleweight Shawn O’Sullivan, both of whom had been world amateur champions for Canada, came home with “only” silver medals.

As pros, they were major busts. deWit lost only once, by crushing kayo to Bert Cooper in 1987, but never contended. His record: 21-1-1.

He became a criminal attorney.

Nicknamed “The Cabbagetown Kid,” O’Sullivan was stopped by Simon Brown in 1986, and also never contended. He finished at 23-5.

LEGAL RIGHTS AND LEFTS: In 1913, Ontario’s Arthur Pelkey won the White Heavyweight Championship (yes, during Jack Johnson’s reign, there really was such a title) in Calgary by knocking out Luther McCarty in the first round. McCarty died in the ring and Pelkey was arrested and charged with murder by the Northwest Mounted Police. He was released a few days later.

Pelkey fought 15 more times and lost 12 of those bouts by kayo.

KHAN DOMINATES ALEXANDER IN WELTERWEIGHT SHOWDOWN

Amir Khan vs Devon Alexander
Amir Khan won a convincing 12-round unanimous decision victory over Devon Alexander in a matchup of two of the fastest welterweights in the world on Saturday in the main event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

The impressive victory was nearly a shutout, with Khan winning 119-109, 118-110 and 120-108 to remain undefeated at 147 pounds and extend his winning streak against southpaws to seven.

In just his second fight at welterweight pounds, Khan was the supremely accurate boxer. The former unified super lightweight world champion landed 54 percent of his power punches to Alexander’s 32 percent and 43 percent of his total shots versus Alexander’s 20 percent. But it was Khan’s hand speed and combinations that were too much for Alexander, who couldn’t get inside against and take any chances against the Brit.

“We knew we had to make a statement at 147 pounds,” Khan said. “I was up against a very skilled fighter and I knew we couldn’t make any mistakes. I’m the best boxer with the quickest hands in the world and I think this was one of my best performances.

“I’m getting better as I’m getting older. I have the best jab in the business and my speed causes a lot of problems for guys.”

Khan, who has been campaigning for a chance to fight pound-for-pound champion Floyd Mayweather, stated his case for a mega-fight in 2015.

“I really believe I earned my shot against the best fighter in the world, which is Floyd Mayweather,” Khan said. “I believe he’ll have problems with my speed, movement and accuracy. I’m going to leave it to my team and let’s hope we get that fight.”

Former two-division world champion Alexander didn’t make any excuses after the fight.

“He was the better man tonight,” Alexander said. “My coach told me to get off and I wasn’t getting off. I could have caught him I just didn’t do it tonight. I was supposed to follow the game plan, I was moving good but I just couldn’t move forward and get off.”

Keith Thurman vs Leonard Bundu

In the co-feature, Keith Thurman proved he can box as well as bang, showcasing his skills and footwork in a shutout unanimous decision victory over previously undefeated Leonard Bundo, scored 120-107 by all three judges.

Thurman (24-0, 21 KOs), who made the third defense of his interim WBA Welterweight World Title, scored a knockdown in the first round, but was unable to find his rhythm and went the distance for just the third time in his career. Regardless, he was the younger, faster fighter. Thurman kept his range and picked his punches, preventing the 40-year-old Bundu (31-1-2, 11 KOs) from consistently landing meaningful shots.

“Bundu was a smart fighter,” Thurman said. “He was tricky and he switched. He came to not get knocked out and he was able to do that, but he was unable to win rounds. It was hard to time him because he was always switching it up, but we boxed smart. It was a great learning experience.

“I want Marcos Maidana. I see you, let’s go. Mano y mano.”

Bundu, who was making his U.S. debut after campaigning mostly in Italy, found it hard to hit the elusive Thurman.

“He was moving too much,” Bundu said. “I don’t want to say he was running, but he was running. I got surprised in the first round when he dropped me, but I was fine after that.”

Former three-division world champion Abner Mares scored three knockdowns en route to technical knockout over Jose Ramirez in an entertaining scrap that was halted by Ramirez’s corner after the fifth round.

Mares and Ramirez traded blows and landed quality punches, but it was the former champion who consistently got the better of the exchanges and landed the more damaging shots. Mares (28-1-1, 15 KOs), who landed 57 percent of his power shots, scored knockdowns in the first, third and fifth round, with the final knockout coming as a result of a vicious three punch combo. Ramirez (24-4-2, 15 KOs) spit out his mouthpiece while on the canvas – resulting in another point deduction – and shook his head, but beat the count and finished the round. But his corner had seen enough and wisely stopped the bout following the fifth.

“Ramirez was a tough guy,” Mares said. “He took a lot of shots and he gave me a few, too. My corner was like, ‘Abner what are you doing? Use your distance.’ But I wanted to knock him out.”

“All I know is I’m going to be a four-time world champion. I’m going to conquer the featherweight division. Abner Mares is back. I want my rematch against Johnny Gonzalez. It’s going to happen.”

Ramirez was a game opponent but couldn’t handle the relentless pressure from Mares.

“I’m happy with my effort, but not with the result,” Ramirez said. “This is not where it ends for me. I’m going to continue. Mares is a great fighter. He is No. 3 in the world and I was honored to fight him.”

In the opening bout of the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast, Jermall Charlo spoiled the U.S. debut of Lenny Bottai, defeating the Italian via technical knockout at :38 of the third round in an IBF Junior Middleweight Title Eliminator.

Charlo (20-0, 16 KOs) was pressing the action from the opening bell and landed a left hook to the head in the third that sent the previously twice-beaten Bottai to the canvas. Bottai’s corner threw in the towel at the same time as referee Jay Nady waved off the bout.

“K9, I want you. I want that IBF,” Charlo said, calling out current IBF Junior Middleweight World Champion Cornelius Bundrage. “I knew all week this was going to be easy work. I shot that short hook and he ate it. I have to take advantage of this one. It’s been a long time coming for Team Charlo. Everyone believed in me and now I’m here.”

Bottai, who fell to 22-2 with nine knockouts, complained that an earlier low blow from Charlo played a factor in the loss.

“I thought the low blow took a little steam out of me,” Bottai said. “I caught a luck punch but I’m OK.”

Jermell Charlo (25-0, 11 KOs) didn’t lose a round in a unanimous decision victory over Mario Lozano (27-6, 20 KOs), scored 100-90 by all three judges.

In the opening bout of the SHOWTIME EXTREME telecast, Errol Spence Jr. (15-0, 12 KOs) landed at will and scored a fifth-round TKO (2:45) of Javier Castro (27-8, 22 KOs) in a dominating performance against an outmatched opponent.

SHOWTIME Sports will offer the latest installment of the award-winning original documentary series ALL ACCESS with two mini-Epilogues next week. “ALL ACCESS EPILOGUE: Khan” premieres on Friday, Dec. 19, immediately following SHOWTIME BOXING SPECIAL EDITION and “ALL ACCESS EPILOGUE: Thurman” premieres Saturday, Dec. 20, immediately following SHOWTIME BOXING on SHOWTIME EXTREME.

Saturday’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast will air on Monday, Dec. 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME ad will be available On Demand

Don’t Punch Until You See The Whites Of Their Eyes

Amir Khan and Devon Alexander

FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

On Saturday, Dec. 13 welterweight contenders and former world titlists Amir Khan and Devon Alexander will clash in a critical contest in Las Vegas on SHOWTIME.

Khan is from Bolton, England, which doesn’t have much in common with Alexander’s hometown of St. Louis.

The American Revolution aside, there have been dozens of fascinating England-USA matchups over the years. A distinctive baker’s dozen that I remember:

Danny Garcia KO 4 Amir Khan (2012): Remember how comprehensively Khan was outboxing Garcia? Three knockdowns later, Khan was comprehensively stopped.

Lennox Lewis KO 8 Mike Tyson (2002): A brawl at the introductory press conference … two ring announcers … and a line of security guards separating the fighters upon their ring entrances. I watched it all at 5 a.m. in Glasgow after working a ShoBox: The New Generation show.

Matthew Saad Muhammad W 15 John Conteh I (1979): Former titlist Conteh fights with one hand and extends light heavy champ Saad in one of the first big fights in casino-era Atlantic City.

Naseem Hamed KO 4 Kevin Kelley (1997): I lost count of the knockdowns by round three, probably because I was still numb from Hamed’s legendary ring walk. One of the greatest fights in Madison Square Garden’s incredible history.

Sugar Ray Leonard KO 4 Dave Boy Green (1980): Thirty-four years later, still one of the most brutal kayos I’ve seen live. Check out Ray’s frightening left hook on YouTube.

Carl Froch KO 12 Jermain Taylor (2009): High drama in the Connecticut woods: Fourteen seconds left at the time of the kayo. Fourteen seconds–with Taylor ahead on two of the three cards!

Floyd Mayweather KO 10 Ricky Hatton (2007): Hatton, 43-0 going in, is dropped by a memorable Money hook. Best of the best: In four consecutive fights, Mayweather defeated Oscar De La Hoya, Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Shane Mosley.

Lloyd Honeyghan KO 6 Donald Curry (1986): How big an upset? At the time, the unbeaten Curry was ranked first in the pound-for-pound listings. This fight is second only to Randy Turpin-Sugar Ray Robinson in terms of biggest England-USA upset.

Marvin Hagler KO 3 Alan Minter (1980): Hagler celebrates winning the world middleweight title the way he always dreamed–by dodging flying glass bottles and fleeing the ring during a nasty post-fight riot in London.

Muhammad Ali KO 6 Henry Cooper (1966): Forty-six thousand fans at Arsenal Football Stadium watch chronic bleeder Cooper shed enough red for Ali to say, “Blood scares me. I was more desperate than anyone else when I saw Cooper bleeding so badly.”

Nigel Benn KO 1 Iran Barkley (1990): Three knockdowns buy Benn a lot of legitimacy on this side of the pond. Back in those days, nobody did that to “The Blade.”

Kell Brook W 12 Shawn Porter (2014): Stranger than truth: British judge Dave Parris scored the bout even, while the two American judges saw Brook winning fairly comfortably.

Timothy Bradley W 12 Junior Witter (2008): Bradley wins a version of the 140-pound title on ShoBox, with a right-hand knockdown in round six proving the difference on the cards.

Ishe Smith: One More Time

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FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

When breaking down boxers, we analyze jabs and powerpunches, chins and conditioning, activity and ring experience, sizes and styles.

But we don’t usually consider life skills.

Maybe we should reconsider.

The arc of a championship-level fighter’s career invariably includes astronaut-in-orbit highs and spirit-sapping lows. There’s no amount of roadwork, no furious combination on the pads, that provides adequate preparation.

So how does Ishe Smith summarize his 15-year professional career?

“It’s been mind-blowing and heart-breaking,” he said. “It’s been a helluva ride.”

On Dec. 12, Smith will attempt to regain a portion of the world junior middleweight title when he challenges Cuban southpaw Erislandy Lara. The showdown will be the main event of a SHOWTIME BOXING: Special Edition from San Antonio.

Even by boxing’s standards, Smith’s journey has been extraordinary and extreme. Check out this timeline–but first a warning: You may want to pop a Dramamine to handle all the ups and downs.

1988, Age 11: Smith spars with Floyd Mayweather Jr., who is a few months older. It’s the beginning of a lifelong association.

April 1996, Age 17: In the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Trials, Smith loses by four points to Zab Judah. Discouraged by the loss, Smith doesn’t fight again for 2 1/2 years.

July 29, 2000, Age 22: Smith turns pro at the Grand Casino in Tunica, Mississippi, stopping Jose Meraz in three rounds.

While his win doesn’t exactly make headlines, insiders take notice because Smith had been an excellent amateur. The native Las Vegan had won the Nevada State Golden Gloves for 10 consecutive years.

April 24, 2003, Age 24: Smith makes his SHOWTIME debut on ShoBox: The New Generation, virtually shutting out the veteran Sam Garr. “There’s a lot to like,” I say after the decision is announced.

Smith would fight on the series four more times and come to view ShoBox as his boxing anchor.

2004, Age 25: Having made a career-high purse of only $11,000, and struggling to support his wife and children, Smith files for bankruptcy.

“When I made $11,000 to fight Randall Bailey, after deductions, taxes, and expenses,” he said, “I took home about $3,000.”

2004, Age 26: Smith is cast in the premier season of the NBC boxing-reality show “The Contender.” From the start, he assumes the role of villain.

“I went in with a chip on my shoulder,” he recalled. “I was just an angry person.”

A welterweight facing bigger fighters, Smith wins once before being eliminated by eventual champion Sergio Mora.

Smith earns six figures on the show.

2007, Age 29: Smith goes through a divorce. Depression follows, and a few months later, he considers suicide. “My wife, my kids were gone,” he said.

2009, 2010, Age 31: Smith loses consecutive fights to unbeaten and heavily hyped prospects Danny Jacobs and Fernando Guerrero. It seems he’s been reduced to fodder for rising stars.

“I was discouraged because I thought I won the Guerrero fight,” he said. “But I still thought opportunities would come.”

2012, Age 33: After an 18-month layoff, Smith returns to the ring with a new promoter–Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“I was in camp, helping Floyd get ready for the Miguel Cotto fight, and I was a free agent [promotionally],” Smith said. “And they showed interest.

“I told Leonard [Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe] I wanted a fight with Erislandy Lara, but after a couple of wins, he and Floyd got me a title shot with Cornelius Bundrage.”

Asked why he hadn’t secured a title fight opportunity earlier in his career, Smith said, “I was a young asshole.”

2013, Age 34: Fighting in Detroit, Smith outpoints K-9 Bundrage and wins the IBF light middleweight title by majority decision.

Sobbing during his postfight interview on SHOWTIME, Smith says, “Thirteen years, man. Thirteen years. That’s all I can say.”

2013, Age 35: In his first defense, Smith loses the belt to Carlos Molina by split decision. At an age when most fighters are in precipitous decline, Smith finds himself rebooting.

“Floyd called and said to keep my head up,” recalled Smith, whose middle name, Kamau, is of Kenyan origin and translates to “Silent Warrior.”

“I’ve been through a lot worse. I’ve learned to deal with things as they come.

Dec. 12, 2014, Age 36: Smith will challenge Lara for the WBA 154-pound title.

“You gotta think pressure,” Smith says. “Lara’s shown chinks in his armor. I’m 36; I know I have to produce a great fight.

“This train is just getting started.”

Breaking Down the Pay-Per-View Rebound

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FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

On Friday, December 12, WBA Super Welterweight titlist Erislandy Lara will fight for the first time since his controversial split decision loss to Canelo Alvarez in July.

Lara will defend his title against former champion Ishe Smith.

In most cases, a pay-per-view main event is the biggest bout of a fighter’s career. A loss in such a bout can be devastating … or not.

Here’s a look at recent pay-per-view losers and how they fared in their very next fight.

Marcos Maidana surprised almost everyone by pushing Floyd Mayweather in May. The Argentine powerpuncher was about a 10-1 underdog, but he roughed Mayweather up and halfway through seemed a legitimate threat to win. Mayweather rallied, of course, and remained unbeaten by securing a majority decision.

In the September rematch, Mayweather dictated the terms and won again on points, but this time far more convincingly.

It was only the second rematch of Mayweather’s career.

Two other Money victims fared much better than Maidana, probably because they didn’t face Mayweather again. In May 2013, Robert Guerrero, a former world titlist in two divisions, challenged Mayweather and lost by one-sided decision. “The Ghost” took more than a year off, then in June engaged in one of the year’s best fights, decisioning Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai.

Guerrero remains a top contender at 147 pounds.

When you’re as young and popular as Canelo Alvarez, there’s plenty of life after Floyd. In September 2013, Canelo lost for the first time when he was thoroughly outboxed by Mayweather. The Mexican has gone 2-0 since, destroying Alfredo Angulo in March and edging Lara in July.

Alvarez is the No. 1 ranked junior middleweight in the world–assuming you list Mayweather only among the welterweights.

When Brandon Rios fought Manny Pacquiao in November 2013, he was coming off a loss to Mike Alvarado. It didn’t shock anyone when, in November 2013, he finished second-best to Pac-Man as well. But all-action Rios rebounded in August with a disqualification win over tough Argentinean Diego Chaves.

Rios was behind by a single point on two cards at the time of the DQ.

It’s been tough to figure future hall of famer Miguel Cotto. The Puerto Rican fought well in losing a decision to Mayweather in May 2012, then lost again on points seven months later to difficult southpaw Austin Trout. At that point, most observers decided Cotto was near-finished.

But after a blowout of fringe contender Delvin Rodriguez, Cotto was reborn with a crushing stoppage of middleweight titleholder Sergio Martinez in June.

He is the only Puerto Rican to have won titles in four different weight classes.

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Finally, there’s the curious case of Victor Ortiz, who is among boxing’s most unpredictable performers. A title-winning effort against welterweight king Andre Berto landed Ortiz a shot at Mayweather in September 2011. After suffering a knockout loss, Ortiz lost twice more, both times by stoppage, to Josesito Lopez (Ortiz was ahead on points when he suffered a broken jaw) and Luis Collazo.

Ortiz, who has always made for good fights, is scheduled to return to the ring on Dec. 13 against an opponent to be announced.

Amir Khan Takes On Devon Alexander As Part Of A Hard-Hitting Tripleheader December 13th

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On Saturday, Dec. 13, we present a SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING tripleheader featuring a pivotal welterweight showdown and two world championship fights, live on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

In a pair of must-see, high-stakes welterweight matchups, British superstar and former unified super lightweight world champion Amir “King” Khan of Bolton, England will take on former two-division world champion Devon Alexander “The Great” of St. Louis, Mo., while undefeated interim WBA Welterweight World Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman of Clearwater, Fla., will defend against Leonard “The Lion” Bundu of Lazio, Italy.

Rounding out an action-packed night on the three-fight SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast will be WBO Junior Middleweight World Champion and 2008 U.S. Olympian Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade of Providence, R.I., who risks his 154-pound belt against tough undefeated young star Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo of Houston, Texas. Charlo will make his first attempt at world title glory in a battle of unbeaten junior middleweights.

“Getting back in the ring is all I’ve been looking towards these last few months,” said Khan. “I want to show everybody that I’m a major force at 147 pounds and I’m ready to take on the best. This fight with Alexander has been on the table for a while, but it is finally happening and I plan on winning impressively to show that I am truly one of the best welterweights in the world.”

“I’ve wanted this fight for a long time and I’m ready to show that I’m worthy of this opportunity and the opportunities ahead after I win on Dec. 13,” said Alexander. “I’ve worked hard my entire life and now the pressure is on to really show what I can do.”

Keith

“I can’t wait to get back in the ring and defend my title,” said Thurman. “I’m going to give all my fans the performance of a lifetime and prove why my name should be at the top of the welterweight conversation.”

December 13 is going to be the biggest night of my professional career thus far,” said Bundu. “To be fighting in the United States, in the fight capital of the world — Las Vegas on SHOWTIME against one of the most promising American prospects is a dream come true. But Keith Thurman doesn’t scare me. I know that I have what it takes to win and truly make a name for myself throughout the boxing world.”

“There is no way I’m letting go of my belt,” said Andrade. “Jermell Charlo is a good fighter, but nothing is going to stop me from defending my belt and raising my hand in victory on Dec. 13. I am confident that this will be a fight fans won’t want to miss.”

“I am beyond excited to finally get a shot at a world title,” said Charlo. “This is what I’ve been waiting for. I’m ready to be a world champion. Nothing is going to stand in my way. Andrade is the champion and I’m not looking past him at all, but this is my time. I know it. The title will lead to bigger and better things and that is what I’m all about.”

“A huge main event with two former champions looking to take a major step back towards a title shot; undefeated fighters going head-to-head on the undercard; our last big show of the year – Dec. 13 at MGM Grand will have it all,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Founder and President of Golden Boy Promotions. “Golden Boy Promotions is finishing 2014 strong and will move into 2015 continuing to make good on our promise to make the most exciting fights for boxing fans.”

“The Dec. 13 edition of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING delivers on our promise to televise stacked fight cards featuring big name fighters in meaningful fights,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports. “The main event, Amir Khan versus Devon Alexander, is a matchup between two renowned former world champions, each at a critical juncture in his career. In the co-feature, Keith Thurman, one of the brightest young stars in boxing, faces perhaps his toughest test to date in the highly regarded and undefeated Leonard Bundu, as each boxer battles for position in the ultra-competitive welterweight division. The opening bout on the telecast features two very talented undefeated rising stars, champion Demetrius Andrade and No. 2-ranked challenger Jermell Charlo. Each fight on the telecast will have a significant impact on the top-10 divisional rankings.”

Khan (29-3, 19 KOs), a 2004 Olympic Silver medalist who turns 28 on Dec. 8, has won his last three contests, all against former world champions. In his most recent outing, he scored three knockdowns en route to a lopsided 12-round decision victory over Luis Collazo in the co-main event on May 3. Before that, the popular, lightning-quick Brit defeated Julio Diaz via unanimous decision in April of 2013 and Carlos Molina in Dec. of 2012. A victory against Alexander would put Khan in a position to become a two-division world champion in 2015.

The 27-year-old southpaw Alexander (26-2, 14 KOs), is a former welterweight and junior welterweight world champion and is coming off of a 10-round unanimous decision over the tough Jesus Soto Karass last June. Fighting with a newfound passion and aggressiveness, Alexander was victorious by the scores of 99-91 twice and 97-93. A winner of five of his last six bouts, a stretch that has seen him defeat the likes of Lucas Matthysse and Marcos Maidana, Alexander believes that his technical artistry will put him back in the world title hunt soon.

Thurman (23-0, 21 KOs) has always been feared for his knockout power, but when he won the WBA Interim Welterweight World Title with a 10th round knockout over Diego Chaves in July of 2013, he was put in a position where the elite of the fight game would have to square off with him eventually. The 25-year-old Thurman has since made two successful title defenses with knockouts over Jesus Soto Karass and Julio Diaz, and he will attempt to achieve the same result against Bundu.

Bundu (31-0-2, 11 KOs), who represented Italy in the 2000 Olympic Games, is making his United States and SHOWTIME debut. The European and Commonwealth Champion, is coming off a hard-earned 12-round decision over previously undefeated contender Frankie Gavin on Aug. 1. Bundu was born in Sierra Leone before moving to Italy, where he has fought the majority of his fights since turning pro in 2005. He is ranked No. 3 in the WBC and No, 4 in the WBA and IBF.

A decorated amateur, Providence, Rhode Island’s Andrade (21-0, 14 KOs) turned professional in 2008 after representing the U.S. in the Olympic Games in Beijing. In November of 2013, the talented southpaw won the vacant WBO Junior Middleweight World Title with a 12-round decision over Vanes Martirosyan and this past June, the 26-year-old successfully defended his title for the first time with a seventh-round technical knockout over Brian Rose.

Charlo (24-0, 11 KOs), 24, is the younger-by-one-minute brother of identical twin, Jermall, who is also a world-ranked undefeated contender at 154 pounds. A tall fighter for his division, Charlo has stepped up in class in some recent fights and is coming off two consecutive terrific points’ victories against Charlie Ota in a 12-round fight on May 24 and against Gabriel Rosado in a 10-round battle on Jan. 25. Charlo, also a top-notch amateur, won the bronze medal at the 2005 Junior Olympics. December 13 marks a milestone in Charlo’s career as he will do everything he can to capture his first world title.