November Fights & Pacquiao’s Return

Pacquiao1With November just around the corner, we have a lot to look forward to, thanks to Andre Ward’s imminent return to the ring. Ward will face off with undefeated challenger Edwin Rodriguez on November 16 in California (with the fight being shown on HBO), and he seems eager to get back into a fight. As quoted in an ESPN article by Dan Rafael, Ward said “I want to show the fans on Nov. 16 that I’m better than I am before I left.” Tantalizing words from a fighter who’s never lost, and about whom many have questions following the shoulder injury that sidelined him for a year.

But in anticipating this fight, it’s also important for boxing fans not to overlook the event that will truly headline the November schedule, which is Manny Pacquiao’s Nov. 23 bout with Brandon Rios in Macao. Pacquiao has not returned to the ring since being knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez, and going back further, to the Timothy Bradley loss (via a decision no one agreed with), Pacquiao is still riding a 2-match losing streak. No matter who the opponent is, this makes the fight on Nov. 23 arguably the biggest boxing event of the year, aside from Floyd Mayweather’s recent victory over Canelo Alvarez. So, let’s take a look at the match.

The Odds
Pacquiao may be on a downturn, and is likely nearing the end of his career, but the odds are still resoundingly in his favor. Specifically, we checked in with the BetFair Exchange, an online sports betting platform with a section devoted solely to boxing. In listing the November 23rd fights, the site provides fixed odds for both Pacquiao and Rios (allowing users to place back or lay bets on either fighter), ant it’s safe to say Pacquiao has a decisive edge. Backing odds for Pacquiao are at 1/6, and for Rios are 4/1.

The Meaning
Naturally, Pacquiao’s legacy is on the line in this fight. We all know that boxing is an unforgiving sport when it comes to legacy – a single loss can make the difference between “all-time great” and “strong contender.” In a sense, Pacquiao’s legacy is already damaged – he could have escaped the Bradley fight with his reputation as the world’s best fighter intact, given the controversy over the decision, but the Marquez knockout was shocking and crippling. An upset loss to Brandon Rios would be the end for Pacquiao; a resounding victory, and we may yet hear one more surge of calls for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.

The Expectation
Pacquiao is probably being a little underrated at this point. The Bradley fight can be scratched from memory, and Marquez landed one thunderous punch that altered Pacquiao’s reputation irreparably. But he’s probably still the 2nd best fighter in the world, and should dispatch Rios with relative ease.

Andre Ward Set to Begin Rehab after Successful Surgery

Sherman Oaks, CA (Jan. 12) – Deferring to the recommendation of a noted Bay Area orthopedic specialist after receiving a second opinion on his injured right shoulder, reigning WBA, WBC and Ring Super Middleweight World Champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward underwent successful surgery, which will keep him out of action for an indefinite period and has forced the postponement of his highly-anticipated title bout against Kelly Pavlik for a second time.

Originally scheduled as an HBO “World Championship Boxing” main event from the Galen Center on the campus of USC on January 26, the bout was rescheduled to March 2nd after the 2004 U.S. Olympic gold medalist, “Super Six” World Boxing Classic tournament winner and 2011 “Fighter of the Year” felt pain in his right shoulder after throwing a punch at sparring partner Tony Hirsch during training in Andre’s hometown of Oakland. The original MRI revealed a significant amount of swelling and inflammation, but no injury to the rotator cuff.

However, after a period of rest and rehab resulted in little improvement, Andre sought a second opinion from Dr. Michael Dillingham, for 25 years the team orthopedic surgeon for the San Francisco 49ers and currently for the San Francisco Giants. A subsequent MRI revealed a small tear in Andre’s right shoulder capsule and, this past Friday, surgery was performed by Dr. Dillingham at the SOAR Surgicenter in nearby Burlingame. Assisting the doctor on the surgical team were his partners Ken Akizuki (team orthopedist for the Giants) and Joe Donahue (former 49ers assistant team orthopedist and current team physician for Santa Clara University)

“Technically, things went very well and all involved are very hopeful about the eventual outcome,” stated Dr. Dillingham. “Within a week, Andre will begin his rehab.”

Lisa Giannone, of Activecare Physical Therapy in San Francisco, will head up Andre’s rehabilitation team.

“The doctor said Andre will initially have his arm in a sling where he will be better prepared to give a timeline for Andre’s recovery process once the sling is removed,” said promoter Dan Goossen.

“Andre has always surpassed everyone’s expectations and I told Dr. Dillingham he can expect the same fire from Andre with his rehabilitation as the fans see when he’s in the ring.

The timing is unfortunate for Andre (26-0, 14 KOs), whose fast-track rise to elite status since winning his first world title in 2009 against reigning WBA super middleweight champ Mikkel Kessler — then capturing the WBC version in late 2011 against brash Briton Carl Froch and, in his most recent domination of current WBC light heavyweight king Chad Dawson — has vaulted him near the top of the “Pound for Pound” ratings and cemented him as a recognized superstar worldwide.

“My surgery went very well and I am definitely pleased with the outcome. I had a fantastic team of surgeons overseeing everything on Friday morning and they did a great job of repairing the injury. I am confident that I will return to the ring even better than I was prior to the injury,” stated Ward.

“I really want to thank everyone for all of the prayers and support that my family and I have received. We truly appreciate it and it has helped throughout this process. I can’t wait to get back out there and perform for all my fans and plan to keep everyone updated on my progress. The best is yet to come so stay tuned.”

Note: All photos provided below are courtesy of Squint Photography

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Middleweight World Championship – Ward vs Pavlik

UPDATE: Ward-Pavlik fight canceled due to Ward’s shoulder injury – Ward having surgery on his shoulder. We wish him all the best. Stay posted for more updates.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 26, 2013

GALEN CENTER AT USC – LOS ANGELES, CA

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 27) – On Saturday, January 26, World Champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (26-0, 14 KO’s) of Oakland, CA takes on Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik (40-2, 34 KOs) of Youngstown, Ohio in what promises to be a thrilling WBA and WBC Super Middleweight World Championship Bout.

This event will be the first boxing event at the Galen Center at USC in Los Angeles, CA, home to the USC Trojans Basketball and Volleyball teams. “The layout of the Galen Center couldn’t be better for the presentation of a boxing event and we are excited to host these world class bouts,” said USC Senior Associate Athletic Director J.K. McKay.

When Ward captured his first world championship in 2009, defeating WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler, he went on to challenge three other world and former world champions in his next five bouts. World titleholders Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham and Chad Dawson all tasted defeat at the hands of Andre Ward. Next in line is the very powerful, former world champion Kelly Pavlik, who promises to take both title belts from Ward.

The co-featured bout has Riverside’s Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola (35-2, 30 KOs) challenging heavy-hitting knockout puncher Bermane “B. Ware” Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs) from Las Vegas, NV by way of Haiti. Both Arreola and Stiverne will put their power on display with the winner guaranteed to fight for the heavyweight world championship in his next bout.

This exciting HBO® World Championship Boxing doubleheader is being presented by Goossen Tutor Promotions in association with Antonio Leonard Promotions and SOG.

The Ward-Pavlik bout will be promoted in association with Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Inc.

“Televising Andre Ward in an intriguing showdown against Kelly Pavlik is a great way to start the new year,” said Kery Davis, Senior Vice President of Programming, HBO Sports. “Combined with the heavyweight showdown between Cristobal Arreola and Bermane Stiverne, boxing fans can look forward to an exciting night of action on HBO.”

An injury earlier this year limited 28-year-old Ward’s activity in 2012 to one fight — a thorough destruction of Chad Dawson in September. Pavlik, 30, has fought three times this year and posted wins (two via TKO and one unanimous decision) against opposition with combined records of 53-6.

“Kelly Pavlik has been determined to get back onto the top of the heap in boxing,” his promoter, Top Rank’s Arum said. “I know he’s ready to give it his all against one of the best champions today. I really believe this will be an exciting, competitive fight.”

“I’ve heard all the talk about Kelly Pavlik, but I know better than that. He’s beaten plenty of the big names,” Ward said. “Bob Arum has done a great job of keeping Kelly busy until an opportunity like this came along. You can bet that a former world champion like Kelly Pavlik, being afforded another title shot…he’s going to be primed and ready. We are going to be ready too and it’s going to be a tremendous show.”

“Andre Ward’s a hell of a world champ,” said Pavlik, who’s trained by California-based Robert Garcia. “He’s the super middleweight king right now. He went through a tough tournament and proved where he’s at. He beat everybody that he was supposed to fight and he’s top dog. When I was champ, I was the one being pursued. Now he’s champ and I’m in hot pursuit.”

“Andre Ward has conquered every challenge he’s faced as a pro and has improved each and every time,” said Promoter Dan Goossen. “He captured Olympic Gold in 2004; emerged from the tournament as a long shot to claim the Super Six World Boxing Classic and won both the WBC and WBA super middleweight titles in the process.”

The Arreola-Stiverne fight shapes up as a bout unlikely to go the distance given the knockout rates of both combatants. Arreola, 31, has stopped all but five of his 35 victims, while the 34-year old Stiverne – whose only loss on his impressive record came more than five years and 11 fights ago — has allowed only two of his 22 conquests to hear the final bell.

The always-entertaining Arreola was thrilled to learn the fight will be in front of his hometown fans, “I’m going to make 2013 my year.” I’m excited to be back on HBO and fighting someone worthy and good in Stiverne. He’s a tough fighter but my will and strength will break him down. I’m not going to let anyone stand in my way!”

An irritated Stiverne, who is trained by Don House, said about the fight with Arreola “It should have been done a long time ago.” “I don’t know what he’s been doing besides running from me. I’m looking forward to the fight. He is a tough customer, but nothing that I can’t deal with. I’ll get the job done. I’m not concerned about a knockout. We have a plan that we want to execute. If the knockout comes, it comes.”

“It’ll be a great fight between Arreola and Stiverne,” Stiverne’s promoter, Don King, predicted. “It’s the next step in bringing the world championship back to America. The fight is a must see.”

“Boxing fans love the heavyweights and we have two of the best and biggest knockout artists in the business going toe-to-toe,” Goossen stated. “Chris is back to full health and in great shape already. He is determined to become the first world heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. But he will not overlook Stiverne who has run over his heavyweight opposition — including former world title challenger Ray Austin — in impressive fashion. It will be a great night of fights at the Galen Center.”

Tickets priced at $300, $200, $100 and $50 (plus fees) will go on sale shortly.

Doors open at the Galen Center at USC at 3:30 pm. The first non-televised bout starts at 4 pm. The two HBO® World Championship Boxing bouts will begin at 6:45 pm.

The event is sponsored by Corona.