|Tyler's 'Real Bite' w/ Damian Calhoun - On Fighter & Fight of Year, Bradley, Mayweather, Pacquiao, Broner, Golovkin and more
By David Tyler, Doghouse Boxing (Dec 31, 2013)
From L-R: Damian Calhoun, 'Sugar' Ray Leonard, Tommy 'Hitman' Hearns.
(Photo Courtesy of © @DamianCalhoun
The Orange County Register is a California Newspaper founded in 1905. From its birth, the Orange County Register has always had a sportswriter devoted to the sport of boxing. Damian Calhoun is the newspaper's current sportswriter handling boxing, please welcome him into the doghouse.
David Tyler: Damian, how did you become the boxing writer at the Register.
Damian Calhoun: I had been working at the Register covering various sporting events. As the popularity of MMA began to grow, the sports editor decided to have a writer handling the MMA events and another handling the boxing. He asked me to cover boxing and of course I said sure!
DT: Did you have a background in boxing?
DC: Growing up I was always watching boxing with my Father. I remember watching the Leonard/ Hearns fight and thinking that one day I would like to be associated with boxing. I am 37 so I had to catch up on the history of boxing but I feel the era of Leonard/ Hearns/ Hagler/ Duran/ Chavez was very special.
DT: Damian, was 2013 a good year for boxing?
DC: I think it was a good year for the sport. Starting with the Timothy Bradley fight against the Ruslan Provodnikov. That was probably the first big fight of the year...
DT: You picked this as the fight of the year?
DC: Yes, I think it surprised a lot of fans who were not familiar with Provodnikov. From the first round this fight was a very tough one for Bradley to survive. How Bradley survived the first two rounds is beyond me but he did go find his rhythm and was rewarded with a unanimous decision victory.
DT: That was a great fight but I also loved the Adrien Broner/ Marcos Madiana fight. Was it tough to pick between these two fights as the best of the year?
DC: The Bradley/ Provodnikov fight took place in March, so after every good fight I ask myself, was it better than Bradley/ Provodnikov? I was in Vegas for the Rios/ Alvarado fight and that was good. As the year progressed we had Madiana/ Lopez and Figueroa/ Arakawa, Matthysse/ Gracia and then the Madiana/ Broner bout. All of these were great fights and I did view each one many times on video, yet I couldn't say that any fight was better than Bradley/ Provodnikov.
DT: Is this why you named Tim Bradley your pick as fighter of the year?
DC: Yes, Provodnikov won the first two rounds by 10-8 decisions and for Tim to come back and win the fight, was very impressive. In October he squared off against Juan Manuel Marquez and managed to win that fight. Based on those two fights, Tim Bradley is my pick as fighter of the year.
DT: Let's talk a little about the Madiana/ Broner fight. Did this fight surprise you?
DC: I went into the fight thinking that Broner would be able to capitalize on his speed and outwork Madiana. I really didn't take into account how smart Madiana has become as a fighter and he stuck with the game plan. Many boxing fans have commented that it's a different Madiana that we have seen lately. I attribute a lot of this improvement to his trainer Robert Garcia who was my pick as the Trainer of the Year.
DT: Before we leave Tim Bradley, there is a lot of talk about a rematch with Manny Pacquiao. Your thoughts about this potential fight?
DC: That's a fight that Bradley should take. It's a chance to prove he is the better fighter. We all saw the first fight and the controversy surrounding the bout. How about all the backlash that Bradley received from the fight? In a rematch he can tell the world that the first fight should have gone his way but in this fight he will leave no doubts that he is the better fighter and a top fighter at 147 lbs.
DT: One of the greatest boxers in the history of this sport is Floyd Mayweather Jr. He fought twice in 2013. Your thoughts on those two fights?
DC: The Guerrero fight went pretty much as I expected. I thought that Canelo Alvarez would present a bigger challenge to Mayweather. I went to that fight thinking that he was younger and could cause some trouble with his skills especially the power aspect of his style. I was expecting him to move around and jab more but I think that he just really wasn't ready for the big stage and all the hype that surrounds such an event.
DT: Would you agree that the most probable opponent for Floyd in May, 2014 is probably Marcos Madiana?
DC: Of all the opponents that are available, I think Madiana is the best fight he could make. I don't think Amir Khan has done enough to get a shot at Mayweather. Danny Garcia is not ready to fight him at 147, maybe down the road in 2014.
DT: Floyd Mayweather Jr. appears to have no weakness in the ring. That's my opinion but many would agree with this assessment. Which one of his skills impresses you the most?
DC: His ring IQ.
DT: I got to ask if Manny Pacquiao will fight Floyd but does he deserve a shot after being Kayoed by Marquez?
DC: I am constantly ask about a Pacquiao/ Mayweather fight and I do think it will happen, the timing must be right but I do think that at some point that fight will happen. The answer to the second part of your question about whether he deserves a shot at the champion, I would say yes if he beats Tim Bradley in his next fight.
DT: Did it surprise you when you learned of Pacquiao's recent money problems? He owes over 70 million dollars in back taxes to the Philippines and the United States, and God only knows what he owes Bob Arum.
DC: That is very confusing and hard to understand. He has so many people working with him, managers, trainers, lawyers, assistants, and you would think his promoter along with the rest of his team would be looking out for his best interest. You just got to wonder how he could owe so much in taxes, he is a big time athlete, big time Congressman, just who was he trusting to handle his finances?
DT: All boxing fans are aware of the cold war between the top two promotion companies, Top Rank and Golden Boy, which has carried over into the two top television networks with HBO showing only Top Rank fights and Showtime focusing on Golden Boy Promotions. Can this be good for boxing?
DC: I just don't know how those two can work together, certainly not in the immediate future. They are deeply entrenched in their own ways that it will be some time before they will have to cross the borders and let the best fighters fight each other regardless of the promotion company. This is sad for fight fans but both HBO and Showtime did give us very good shows in 2013.
DT: What fights would you like to see happen in 2014?
DC: I would like to see Gennady Golovkin move up in competition after his fight in February. It's time for him to fight Sergio Martinez or Peter Quillin. Tim Bradley and Manny Pacquiao is another potential great fight. 2014 will be a very good year for boxing.
DT: So you are not one of those boxing fans who believe the sport is dying?
DC: Not at all. I see a bright future for boxing. Mayweather and Pacquaio along with the other aging stars of this sport will not be around forever. 2013 saw an impressive group of rising prospects burst on the scene. Felix Verdejo, Oscar Molina, Jose Ramirez, Vasyl Lomachenko, Errol Spence, and Joseph Diaz Jr. all appear to have the makings of future world champions.
DT: That's the positive side of things and I agree with your assessment. Give me one obstacle that boxing must overcome to retain a solid fan base?
DC: One of the big impediments of the future of boxing is the war between promotion companies that we spoke about earlier in the interview. The sport must overcome the bad blood and cross the line so we as fans get to see the best take on the best regardless of the promotion company. I said earlier that the winner of the Tim Bradley/ Manny Pacquiao fight, deserves a shot at Mayweather. Under the current conditions, where they don't belong to the same promotion company, it makes that fight nearly impossible to negotitate. The fans will support the sport when the best fight the best but I am not sure that can happen when boxers are only fighting other fighters within their promotion companies.
DT: Great point and I am sure the fans agree with your assessment. Damian, thank you for taking time to discuss boxing. Your insights into the present condition of boxing are on the money and I certainly appreciate you mentioning some of the great young fighters to watch in future events.
DC: You're welcome and best wishes for 2014!
Readers: Thank you for visiting doghouseboxing.com. This is the first of a series of 'REAL BITE' interviews with sportswriters who focus on boxing. I welcome your feedback.
Best wishes to everyone in 2014!
***David Tyler replies to all his e-mails and loves to hear from the readers. Comments, Questions, Suggestions, E-mail David now at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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