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Fighter Has The Name And Opportunity

New York: Go back to the illustrious names of boxing history and fighters of Latino descent. What they delivered gave them Hall of Fame status. The few names that come to mind: Alexis Arguello, Oscar De La Hoya, Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, Ruben Olivarez, Felix Trinidad, Miguel Cotto, Hector Camacho.

Ray Robinson, though not Latino, has the name and when the 35-year old junior middleweight from Philadelphia gets in the ring he is known as “The New” Ray Robinson which puts him in good company.

“Same spelling and before I got in the ring I knew nothing about him,” Robinson says about the Hall of Fame champion that used a dazzling technique to score 173 wins and 108 knockouts.

And though there are few similarities to Sugar Ray Robinson, considered by many as the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in boxing history, the one that stands is being a technician in the ring.

Robinson, (24-3-2, 12 K0’s) has been inactive since his last fight two years ago on a Matchroom Boxing promotion in New York at Madison Square Garden, a 10 -round majority draw to Josh Kelly on an undercard of the Anthony Joshua heavyweight title loss to Andy Ruiz.

Any number of reasons can be attributed to inactivity that also saw a truncated fight schedule last year due to COVID, and the opponents were not knocking on his door. Robinson is not signed and sealed with any of the major boxing promotions.

In turn, after that fight in New York, not helped with a decision that did not go his way, Robinson stayed sharp in the gym and waited for an opportunity as some in the business may have turned their back on a fighter who always had the ability.

In stepped Trilller Fight Club. Robinson is part of a stacked undercard a week from Saturday at Miami’s LoanDepotPark and prior to the pay-per-view telecast when Teofimo Lopez defends his lightweight titles vs. George Kambosos Jr.

It will be a battle of southpaws over eight rounds when Robinson opposes Ramal Amanov, (16-3, 5 KO’s) of Ganja, Azerbaijan and will look to break a streak of two consecutive fights of majority draws.

Though this is not considered a comeback fight, but important with a new promotion, and trying to get another crack at making an impact in a division that is stacked with talent. By all means,this is not Sugar Ray Robinson.

It’s the 2021 “New Ray” Robinson, and more importantly fighting on a Triller platform that has graviated to a new wave of boxing fans with that mix of entertainment in between the fights. That will be the situation again next Saturday with Farruko, a leading Latin artist, Meek Mill, Myke Towers, Lunnay, and Snoop Dogg the rap legend and Triller promoter.

“Excited to be back in the ring, I just want to rumble,” Robinson said to me Thursday. At end of the day this is the new thing for boxing. Triller is smart to do it. Draw fans and get fighters on the cards.”

Indeed the promotion is providing opportunity and exposure to fighters that have been sitting on the sidelines and waiting. There are also the lucrative purses that enabled Lopez, a Top Rank fighter, to obtain a title defense against a mandatory challenger during a competitive game with other promoters.

But the lone concern for Robinson is getting back in the ring and showing his dominance . He can jab, punch, and defensively knows how to avoid the knockout. He is ready and prepared to depart for Miami with attempts to dispose his opponent without going to the scorecards

In this case, Robinson wants to make a statement and become a player again with anticipation Triller or another promotion will provide the opportunity to eventually fight for a title.

“I want to stay busy,” Robinson said. I know Triller has a bunch of fights even if I can get a three fight deal with them and rank up some wins and get a title shot, that’s my goal. “

So look again at the name. This Ray Robinson learned “Sugar Ray” is Walker Smith Jr. who won championships and competed in four weight classes at lightweight, welter, middle, and light heavyweight. The “New” was added to his name when the ring announcer in New York made the introduction.

“I just stuck with it and I have never changed it,” Robinson said. “I will be blessed to do 100 percent of what that man had done in the boxing game.”
He said that was a goal to strive for.

And there is that history of great fighters who come from Philadelphia including former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier and a guy named Bernard Hopkins, cemented with legacies and their names in the Hall of Fame.

Robinson is also in good and current company with contenders from Philadelphia, including Jaron “Boots” Ennis the rising welterweight and Top Rank promoted super middleweight Jesse Hart who also is a knockout artist.

“I want to represent Philly,” he said. “Always want to make a statement when I fight. Always look to be good and victorious.”

Again, this is not a comeback but it could be a new beginning with Triller. And the name of “New” Ray Robinson won’t hurt his cause.

THROWING THE PUNCHES: I have an issue with Shakur Stevenson the Top Rank former WBO featherweight champion and young superstar who highlights a ESPN card Saturday night opposing Jeremiah Nakathila the Namibian puncher for the WBO interim junior lightweight title at the New Theater Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas.

The issue is his comments about Nakathila, a police officer in his native country who is looking for the upset. Stevenson, though, out of line saying at the final presser “I’m not losing to a cop.” Not the proper way to be a role model that Stevenson portrays to young people in his hometown of Newark NJ, and very inappropriate.

Regardless, Stevenson wins he gets his wish and a Top Rank fight will be scheduled with Stevenson for the WBO title that belongs to Jamel Herring. Don’t ask me the difference between the interim title and what Herring holds. All that matters is a showdown with Stevenson and Herring could come soon and in New York at Madison Square Garden.

A Top Rank executive tells me that fighters are coming to their office in Las Vegas and often asking when fights will take place in New York and if so they want to be a part of those cards.

The co feature on ESPN is a 10-rounder, former two-weight world champion Jose Pedraza opposes Julian “Hammer” Rodriguez, a young veteran in the Top Rank stable who was waiting for this opportunity in a junior welterweight contest.

It will be a tough fight for both, more importantly, Rodriguez, a contrast from Stevenson, has never berated an opponent and needs this win to be viable.

“Thanks to Bob Arum and Top Rank it’s just another fight for me,” said Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KO’s). “It’s a big step up. I had a tremendous camp.” Rodriguez referred to sparring with Yordenis Ugas, the current WBA 147-pound champion…

I don’t know about you but next weekend 10 shows are on the calendar with Triller, ESPN, DAZN, and Showtime highlighted with Jermall Charlo WBC middleweight title defense ….

So Floyd Mayweather and YouTuber Logan Paul went the distance. And the
preliminary PPV numbers did not break or surpass a record with conflicting reports of under a million buys and probably a ton of illegal streamers cut into their revenue. Then again a fight of no significance and pure drama…

And will be official Tuesday when WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder have their turn at drama when their trilogy fight is officially announced at a press conference in Los Angeles. And the drama will unfold Saturday July 24, ESPN and FOX PPV from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas…

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@ Ring786 Mancuso

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