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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Another Wrestler Will Lose Olympic Medal In Doping Re-Test 


Davit Modzmanashvili of Georgia, who won a silver medal in freestyle wrestling at 120 kg at the 2012 London Olympics, will be stripped of his medal. New analysis shows he tested positive for the banned substance oral turinabol.

Interestingly, in London, he lost his gold medal match to Artur Taymazov of Uzbekistan, who himself was later stripped of his 2008 Olympic gold medal for doping after re-testing. Taymazov is now a member of Russia's Duma representing Putin's United Russia party. Taymazov the doper is also still in the "United World Wrestling (sic)" Hall of Fame.

The full decision on Modzmanashvili's re-testing can be read here.

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Sunday, January 06, 2019

No Holds Barred: Raul Ramirez Introduces the Catch Wrestling Alliance Academy 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with Raul Ramirez of the Catch Wrestling Alliance.

It was just announced that they are starting a new interactive, online venture, the Catch Wrestling Alliance Academy.

We spoke with him by phone Friday.

"For the longest time now, people comment on our videos. They send emails. They're asking for DVDs or places that they can learn. I'm sure that's the most common thing, where someone in some remote part of the planet, they're saying, of course there's hardly any kind of martial arts instruction nearby, and they definitely love catch wrestling. So they just need the training to be more accessible," he said.

"So I thought that maybe to serve the majority of people, regardless of your location, we should probably go online, but also not just put out DVDs.

"We have to make this a little bit more interactive, where the students that can be learning online from videos and from PDFs that we make, but we have to put it in a format where they can also ask questions, if they have any misunderstandings, so that they can actually just get the best level of instruction without having to be present in a class. That is probably the best we really can do."

So while, obviously, training in person in catch wrestling is invaluable, where that is not possible, this is "the next best thing."

The first of these online interactive course is called "Catch Wrestling Fundamentals: Stand Up." Upcoming courses will include mat wrestling, controlling and restraining opponents both in sport and self-defense situations, integrating striking into wrestling and grappling, and psychological and mental aspects of sports performance.

We discussed more of the details on how to access this training, who some of the instructors will be, plans for catch wrestling competition in the Los Angeles area, the growth of interest in catch wrestling in China, and much more.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is sponsored by:

The Catch Wrestling Alliance, resurrecting and promoting the sport of authentic catch-as-catch-can wrestling. The Catch Wrestling Alliance provides tournaments, seminars, and training as well as education about catch wrestling. Join the movement and keep real wrestling alive. For more information, go to CatchWrestlingAlliance.com.

Skullz Double-End Bags, the perfect bag for your combat sports training. Skullz Double-End Bags provide a realistic striking target, and help improve timing, distance, and hand and eye coordination. Hang it and hit it right out of the box! No pump required. For more information, go to SkullzDeBags.com.

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

No Holds Barred: Joshua. Wilder. Fury. 2019. 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman discussed the prospects in 2019 for a heavyweight title unification fight between WBA-IBF-WBO champ Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) and WBC champ Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs), as well as a rematch between Wilder and Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs), who fought December 1 to a highly criticized split draw decision. That fight is analyzed, options and obstacles facing all three fighters' next fights are discussed, and much more.

(Photo of Wilder vs. Fury by Esther Lin/Showtime.)

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is sponsored by:

The Catch Wrestling Alliance, resurrecting and promoting the sport of authentic catch-as-catch-can wrestling. The Catch Wrestling Alliance provides tournaments, seminars, and training as well as education about catch wrestling. Join the movement and keep real wrestling alive. For more information, go to CatchWrestlingAlliance.com.

Skullz Double-End Bags, the perfect bag for your combat sports training. Skullz Double-End Bags provide a realistic striking target, and help improve timing, distance, and hand and eye coordination. Hang it and hit it right out of the box! No pump required. For more information, go to SkullzDeBags.com.

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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Statement on Russia’s Refusal to Allow World Anti-Doping Agency to Access Moscow Lab Evidence 

Statement on Russia’s Refusal to Allow World Anti-Doping Agency to Access Moscow Lab Evidence
Jim Walden, lawyer for Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov

“Craig Reedie is Nero, playing his fiddle while Russia burns clean sports to the ground. The time for half measures and appeasement must finally come to an end. If RUSADA is not now banned, the last measure of WADA’s integrity will vanish. The time has come for meaningful criminal enforcement, as the current structure is broken beyond repair, so I applaud the U.S. Congress for introducing the Rodchenkov Anti-doping Act and look forward to its passage in 2019.”

— Jim Walden
December 22, 2018

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Friday, December 21, 2018

You Say You Want a Revolution is available 


The book in which I have a chapter is now available. It is called You Say You Want a Revolution. It was written by former members and supporters of the once-Maoist Progressive Labor Party, most of whom left in the 1960s and 70s. I left in 1970.

My chapter is about what happened at Columbia, and also somewhat about what happened in New York City and Harlem. There is no one analysis of what happened, just our own views and experiences.

Book events are being organized around the U.S. for early 2019. You can get it, among other places, on Amazon.

For those still using it, the book has its own Facebook page.

Here is the table of contents:

Introduction 4
1. Ellen S. Israel (CUNY)
Cuba Trips 1963-64 We Danced Everywhere 17
2 Dick J. Reavis (University of Texas at Austin)
A Revolutionary Journey 34
3 Paula Campbell Munro (University of Texas Austin)
My Sister, Lynn 47
4 Becky Brenner (University of Texas, Austin, Columbia University)
I was more Baptist Than John the Baptist 60
5 Eric A. Gordon (Tulane)My SDS Activist Years in New Orleans 80
6 John F. Levin (San Francisco State, Columbia)
“On Strike! Shut It Down!” 109
7 Margaret Leahy (San Francisco State University)
A New World Opens 128
8 Ernie Brill (San Francisco State University)
Memories 135
9 Anatole Anton (Stanford, San Francisco State University)
The Stakes Were Higher Than We Knew 152
10 Michael Balter (UCLA & U.S Army)
I Might Have To Kill Vietnamese People 168
11 Ed Morman (City University of New York, University of Washington)
PL and Me 182
12 Eddie Goldman (Columbia University)
PLP, the Struggle at Columbia, and the Road to Irrelevance 194
13 Susan Tarr (City University of New York, San Francisco)
The East Was Red 208
14 Steven Hiatt (University of Iowa)
The (Broken) Promise of the Worker/Student Alliance: Building a Base in Iowa 212
15 Joe Berry (University of Iowa-San Francisco State University)
Movement Learning: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 232
16 Joan Kramer (1947-2017) (UC Berkeley, WSA/SDS)
A Life on the Left 246
17 Barbara Selfridge (UC Berkeley)
The Spread of Maoism 256
18 Henri Picciotto (Princeton, UC Berkeley)
“Princeton’ll Straighten You Out!” 281
19 Frank Kashner (University of Wisconsin, Cambridge MA)
Growing up in the ‘60s: from Introvert to Organizer 287
20 Emily Berg (Harvard University)
PL Reconsidered 302
21 Debbie Levenson (University of Massachusetts in Boston)
Global Boston 308
22 Mary Summers (Harvard University)
The Harvard Strike of ’69 and What Happened Next 319
23 John Mitchell
(Harvard PL/SDS)
A Texas Republican's Path to SDS-WSA and PL 336

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Athlete Ally and the Crisis in World Sport  


by Eddie Goldman

In a sports world infested with corruption, exploitation, bigotry, chicanery, fraud, and swindling of every type, there are still a few people remaining trying to do something positive, ethical, progressive, and liberatory. Athlete Ally is one of those groups, even though it still believes the mainstream sports organizations are not beyond repair.

Founded in 2011 by Hudson Taylor, who was a three-time All-American wrestler at the University of Maryland, Athlete Ally is a non-profit organization which says its "mission is to educate and activate athletic communities to eliminate homophobia and transphobia in sports and to exercise their leadership to champion LGBTQ equality." Some staff and supporters are from the LGBTQ community, while others, including Hudson Taylor, who is described as its "founder, executive director & board member," are not. Hence, all "stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community" whether they are part of it or an ally.

On Monday, December 17, Athlete Ally held a public event, a panel discussion entitled the Annual State of Sports Conversation, at The Phluid Project, a gender-free retail clothing store in lower Manhattan.

Moderating the panel was Anne Lieberman, the director of policy and programs at Athlete Ally, and a Muay Thai fighter and coach, again showing how the combat sports, seen by some as the backwater of world sports, are well-represented at Athlete Ally.

The two panelists were Casey Legler, a former Olympic swimmer, model, activist, author, and Toni Smith-Thompson, an organizer with the New York Civil Liberties Union. After their presentations, a few questions from the audience were answered.

The event was live-streamed on Facebook, and can be seen (although the audio is not great) at https://www.facebook.com/AthleteAlly/videos/2290369794570411.

While Athlete Ally has made some gains in the fight against anti-LGBTQ bigotry, discrimination, and repression in mainstream sports, there is still a long way to go. For example, in a video interview just posted December 14 on the web site of the U.K. tabloid The Sun, boxer Amir Khan, a former unified light-welterweight champion, who is trying to get a lucrative fight with former IBF welterweight champ Kell Brook, called Brook "gay" and challenged him to "come out".

This is in a sport, boxing, and a country, the U.K., where there is far more acceptance of LGBTQ people than most places. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Nicola Adams, now 5-0 as a pro, is openly bisexual, highly popular in the U.K., and the recipient of many honors and endorsements. Boxing manager and promoter Kellie Maloney, once known as Frank Maloney, and who had managed then-heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, announced in 2014 that she was transgender and would be undergoing gender reassignment surgery, which was completed the following year.

More recently, the first openly male trans boxer, Patricio "Pat" Manuel, won his first pro fight December 8 on the undercard of a Golden Boy Promotions card in Indio, California. This received widespread positive media coverage, especially for a fight involving a boxer making his pro debut and an opponent with a 0-5 record. On my Facebook and Twitter accounts I linked to articles about this, with approving reaction through many "likes". One person noted how this reaction was far different from the ones I received from my numerous interviews with Fallon Fox, the first openly female trans MMA fighter who is now retired, a few years back. The MMA world, in the main, is still a sewer of bigotry, ignorance, and hate.

As noted above, Athlete Ally also faces the obstacles of the virulent and sometimes deadly anti-LGBTQ practices and laws in many countries whose prominence in world sport is growing, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, plus other countries in the Middle East. Even in countries where LGBTQ equality is more accepted and more political and legal rights exist, there is a seemingly endless and growing list of scandals and horrors from Olympic, professional, college, and so-called amateur sports organizations. More and more upholders of justice, fairness, and decency in world sport believe the major existing sports organizations cannot be fundamentally reformed, and instead a new, grassroots-based sports movement must be developed.

As the crisis in world sport deepens, how will Athlete Ally respond? Already many LGBTQ athletes and supporters and many women have been playing a critical role in fighting injustice in sport on many fronts. The old sports world is in great disorder, with a new one yearning to be born, so the challenges ahead must be faced head on.

Below are some photos I took at this Athlete Ally event.

Anne Lieberman introducing the panel.

Casey Legler speaking.

Toni Smith-Thompson speaking.

Anne Lieberman and Eddie.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

No Holds Barred: Wilder. Fury. Nah. 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman discussed the heavyweight title fight coming up this Saturday, December 1, between WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder, with a record of 40-0 and 39 KOs, and former unified champion Tyson Fury, with a record of 27-0 and 19 KOs. This takes place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be shown on Showtime pay-per-view in the U.S. and BT Sport Box Office in the U.K. and Ireland.

In reality, this fight is overhyped, overrated, and overpriced. Many of these issues were explained in "The Sporting News" piece called Fury-Wilder And The Road To Undisputed Heavyweight Championship Of The World. This show will add to and update that discussion about the lack of interest in this fight.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is sponsored by:

The Catch Wrestling Alliance, resurrecting and promoting the sport of authentic catch-as-catch-can wrestling. The Catch Wrestling Alliance provides tournaments, seminars, and training as well as education about catch wrestling. Join the movement and keep real wrestling alive. For more information, go to CatchWrestlingAlliance.com.

Skullz Double-End Bags, the perfect bag for your combat sports training. Skullz Double-End Bags provide a realistic striking target, and help improve timing, distance, and hand and eye coordination. Hang it and hit it right out of the box! No pump required. For more information, go to SkullzDeBags.com.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Fury-Wilder And The Road To Undisputed Heavyweight Championship Of The World 



My prefight piece on the Fury-Wilder fight has been posted on "The Sporting News".

Fury-Wilder And The Road To Undisputed Heavyweight Championship Of The World
http://www.sportingnews.com/us/boxing/news/fury-wilder-and-the-road-to-undisputed-heavyweight-championship-of-the-world/1t4jljurw0y0i1gnp04owmb9gf

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

No Holds Barred: Lavell Marshall On The Growth Of Shuai Jiao And His Upcoming Journey to Chin 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke Lavell Marshall.

While proficient in many types of martial arts, he mainly focuses as a trainer and competitor in Shuai Jiao, the Chinese traditional style of wrestling.

We spoke with him Sunday, right after a seminar he conducted in New York.

There are several different styles and rulesets of Shuai Jiao, although in general it is all standup wrestling with no groundwork or par terre. Although some styles include striking and joint locks, they are all done from the from standing position.

Though not well-known in the U.S., interest in Shuai Jiao is slowly starting to grow around the world.

"Shuai Jiao is something that in China, it's gaining a lot of popularity, in places like Mongolia and Europe, especially in Russia," he said. "But in the West in general, especially in the USA, it's still kind of low-key. It's unknown. It's kind of behind sambo when it comes to just recognition. But it's growing in popularity and it's something I think is going to blow up in the next ten years."

While Shuai Jiao is "my main style that I study and compete in," when he does compete in other competitions such as jiu-jitsu, he said he represents Shuai Jiao to show its effectiveness.

We discussed the differences between combat and sport Shuai Jiao; why he decided to focus on Shuai Jiao; some of its history and development in China; how schools there are now training students in Shuai Jiao; governance and organization of the sport, including the recent establishment of one governing body in China; the need to amp up the level of competition and attract more athletes; and how the small U.S. community is divided by "politics" and the need to work together.

In about two months, Lavell Marshall will be moving to China. His goals there are to train to become "one of the best there is in Shuai Jiao." That would also facilitate him helping him spread it widely in Europe and America. Getting Shuai Jiao out to the West is essential because he said that in China, many in the Shuai Jiao community don't care about showing it to the West.

"if we don't spread it, it dies," he insisted.

We also discussed Shuai Jiao as self-defense, especially combat Shuai Jiao; how in the U.S., Shuai Jiao needs more money, more competitions, and may require changing the existing rulesets; how already in China, some competitions are allowing the wrestlers to go to the ground; the importance of getting more exposure for Shuai Jiao by competing in multi-style events like the World Nomad Games; and much more.

"Stay tuned for Shuai Jiao, because I promise you, great things are coming and it is worth it," he said.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is sponsored by:

The Catch Wrestling Alliance, resurrecting and promoting the sport of authentic catch-as-catch-can wrestling. The Catch Wrestling Alliance provides tournaments, seminars, and training as well as education about catch wrestling. Join the movement and keep real wrestling alive. For more information, go to CatchWrestlingAlliance.com.

Skullz Double-End Bags, the perfect bag for your combat sports training. Skullz Double-End Bags provide a realistic striking target, and help improve timing, distance, and hand and eye coordination. Hang it and hit it right out of the box! No pump required. For more information, go to SkullzDeBags.com.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Oleksandr Usyk, Leading Candidate For Fighter Of The Year 


by Eddie Goldman

It is pointless to be obsessed with year-end awards in boxing and assume that they all represent major historical feats. Some fighter of the year awards are more notable than others, since they are restricted to whatever 12-month period is being considered, an arbitrary time span which may or may not coincide with great performances by great fighters. The last few years have seen split decisions over who has been designated fighter of the year by the so-called media pundits of boxing, as they often are just paying homage to those fighters' promoters, whose bidding they are really doing. And of course this year still has several major fights to go, and we can always expect the unexpected in boxing, so no final verdict can be made yet anyway.

But we have seen enough of 2018 boxing to establish that some fighters have made their historical mark this year, and are leading candidates to win that award, and perhaps be the undisputed fighter of the year, to mix some of boxing's mythical categories.

One such fighters is the 25-year-old Japanese phenom Naoya Inoue, known simply as the "Monster". Now with a record of 17-0 and 15 KOs, his two fights in 2018 lasted a grand total of three minutes and two seconds. In May, in his first fight at bantamweight since moving up from super flyweight, Inoue scored a knockout at just 1:52 of the first round over then-WBA champion Jamie McDonnell, a fighter who never previously had been knocked out and who had only lost two close decisions, both early in his career. Inoue returned in October, in the opening round of the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament, to face Juan Carlos Payano, a former WBA champion whose only loss coming into this fight was a debatable majority decision to Rau'shee Warren. Payano lasted just 70 seconds before losing by a devastating knockout by the "Monster". Inoue's next likely victim is the 19-0 IBF bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez, who faces him sometime next year in the tournament's semifinals.

As devastating and impressive as Inoue has been this year, he is still new fighting at this new weight and, while the tournament favorite, has yet to prove that he can clean out the division. He may yet do so, and all eyes should be on him in 2019, but this one important detail may work to place him just behind a fighter who has already achieved such an historical accomplishment. This of course is but a subjective evaluation, but so is this whole fighter of the year thing.

The most impressive fighter this year is unbeaten and undisputed cruiserweight champ Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine, now 16-0 with 12 KOs. Usyk was a 2012 Olympic gold medalist at heavyweight, where that Olympic weight class is actually almost the same as cruiserweight in the pros. He turned pro the next year, and won the WBO cruiserweight belt in 2016 in just his tenth pro fight. In Sept. 2017 he had his first fight in the cruiserweight tournament of the newly-founded World Boxing Super Series, where he was seeded number one. Fighting as he often does on the road, this time in Germany, Usyk stopped the veteran Marco Huck, who is based in Germany, in the tenth round to advance to the semifinals. Usyk ended 2017 with a record of 13-0 with 11 KOs.

Those semifinals pitted him on Jan. 27, 2018, against then-unbeaten WBC champ Mairis Briedis of Latvia, in Riga, the capital of Latvia. It was a close, action-packed battle, which afterward Usyk said included "the most difficult rounds I've had in my career". The fight went the distance, with Usyk taking a majority decision over the hometown hero with scores of 115-113 twice, and 114-114 even, scores which were arguably a shade too close. It also was an early candidate for 2018 fight of the year, perhaps equaled or surpassed by the World Boxing Super Series' other cruiserweight semifinal the next week between two more unbeaten fighters, Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos, a thrilling fight won by Gassiev with a 12th-round, last-minute TKO.

Gassiev's victory gave him both the IBF and WBA belts, with Usyk holding the WBO and WBC belts, so their World Boxing Super Series tournament final was also a fight to determine the undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world. After their fight was originally scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia, Usyk and Gassiev finally met on July 21 of this year, again in the home country of Usyk's opponent, in Moscow, Russia.

There were fears before this fight that if it went to the judges, that the Russian Gassiev would get the nod, deserved or not, over the Ukrainian Usyk, especially given the continuing tensions between the two governments following Russia's annexation of Crimea and backing of separatists in Eastern Ukraine. But those fears proved unfounded, at least in this fight.

The fight opened with the southpaw Usyk jabbing, moving, controlling the action, and stymieing most of Gassiev's attempts at offense. This was thought to be a 50-50 fight coming in, but Usyk continued to put on a virtual boxing clinic throughout, being elusive, more active than Gassiev, and just about getting a shutout. The final scores were 120-108 and 119-109 twice, all for Usyk, in what was perhaps the best performance of his career. In doing so, Usyk had now won all four major cruiserweight belts along with the World Boxing Super Series' Muhammad Ali Trophy as the cruiserweight tournament victor.

Just about the only piece of the puzzle left for Usyk to clean out completely the cruiserweight division was the former WBC champ Tony Bellew of the U.K. Bellew won that belt in 2016 and defended it once, before moving up to heavyweight for a pair of highly charged fights with David Haye, who was favored in both of them. As you likely know, Bellew stopped the oft-injured Haye both times. The popular 35-year-old Bellew, looking to end his career on a high note, agreed to return to cruiserweight to face the undisputed champ Usyk, who had called him out, whether on his own or not, after his tournament win.

The build-up to this fight, which took place on November 10 in Manchester before an energetically pro-Bellew crowd, was marked by Bellew's emotional promises that he had the will to overcome the admittedly better-skilled Usyk. There were none of the shenanigans, trash talk, and WWE-like theatrics which have degraded so many other fights, as it was high respect all around for each other. But Usyk, although fighting once more on the road, was expected to win easily.

Usyk sometimes starts slowly in his fights, gauging distance, power, positioning, and speed of his opponents in the opening rounds. This was the case here, as during the feeling out rounds Bellew was more active than Usyk and succeeded in landing some rights on him, although little damage was done. By round three, however, Usyk closed the distance better on Bellew, let his hands go a little more, and was now in irreversible control of the fight. Usyk ratcheted it up a bit more each round, while using angles and timing to stifle Bellew, But he had yet to dominate the game Bellew, who still was getting through with some right hand shots. In the fifth, Usyk continued to pick Bellew apart. By the sixth, Bellew's output had visibly dropped even to his dearest admirers. The assault by attrition continued, and in the eighth round, Usyk saw it was time for this pugilistic drama's denouement. The end came at exactly two minutes into round eight, as a series of punches highlighted by a picture perfect left hand ended Bellew's night and almost sent him through the ropes and into the arms of his promoter, Eddie Hearn. Bellew had had his moments, but it was Usyk who prevailed and showed why he should be the leading candidate for 2018 fighter of the year.

If you haven't yet seen this fight, the judges' scores at the end of seven rounds were the product of pure home cooking. Yes, there were some close rounds which a casual observer of boxing, who did not understand the nuances of what Usyk was doing, might have thought were closer than they actually were. But that these official judges had Bellew ahead after seven was, as we hear more often in the U.K., rubbish. Two judges had Bellew ahead by scores of an egregious 68-65 and 67-66, while one had it 67 apiece, meaning he had scored an even round somewhere. Taking nothing away from the disciplined and gutsy performance of Tony Bellew, he won two and, being generous, perhaps three rounds out of the first seven before being stopped in the eighth. This was actually better than many had predicted for Bellew beforehand, especially in light of Usyk's near-shutout win over Gassiev in his previous fight. All these scores show is that trickeration is alive and well in boxing all around the world and after the Halloween candy has been eaten, gone rotten, or thrown out.

As for boxing's mythical pound-for-pound lists, just about everyone has Usyk near the top of these. It could be argued that there are a couple of fighters who deserve to be ahead of him there, but Usyk's 2018 feats reflect an important advantage he has over them: he had the chance in the World Boxing Super Series tournament to face the best of the best, regardless of promoter, sanctioning body, or network. Top level fighters like Terence Crawford and Vasiliy Lomachenko are hamstrung in displaying their talents by their promoter, Bob Arum's Top Rank, which protects their fighters by keeping them out of the World Boxing Super Series. They can only face other Top Rank fighters or those contracted to smaller or cooperative promoters, and not on networks which are rivals to those with whom Top Rank currently works, in today's instance ESPN. Thus Crawford cannot face top welterweights like Errol Spence Jr. because he is part of a rival quasi-league, Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions, which has exclusive U.S. TV deals with Fox and Showtime. Likewise the lightweight fight all boxing aficionados would love to see between Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia, also tied to the PBC, is in effect blocked until there is enough pressure and/or money involved to force such a fight. Until then, it means that the best won't fight the best at most weights outside the World Boxing Super Series. This gives fighters like Usyk in 2018 and the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight and super lightweight tournament winners in 2019 a better stage on which to shine than most other top fighters. And for fighters like Crawford and Lomachenko, their best bet for becoming monumental superstars would entail untangling and ending their contractual commitments to Top Rank, which, as Mikey Garcia found out, at best would rob them of some of their best years while stuck in a legal purgatory.

So the World Boxing Super Series, shunned by the mismanaged and now almost shuttered HBO boxing program, as well as Showtime and ESPN in the U.S., is the best thing in boxing today. It generally has many of the best fights, and is becoming one of the best ways for a boxer to become the fighter of the year.

With his business more or less finished at cruiserweight, the logical next step for Usyk appears to be a move to heavyweight. The Bellew fight was on Sky Sports Box Office in the U.K. as well as streamed on DAZN in several countries, both of course tied to Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Boxing, so an eventual fight with their heavyweight star Anthony Joshua would seem to be a likelihood in the future. The undefeated, undisputed cruiserweight world champion and 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist vs. the undefeated, unified heavyweight world champion and 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, both of whom won their gold in London, would sell out instantly and possibly crash all sorts of TV and streaming viewership records.

At the postfight press conference after the Bellew fight, Usyk was asked when he wants to fight Joshua, and he cracked, in English, "Tomorrow." More realistically, after he takes time off to visit, as he said, Santa Claus's home, his move up to heavyweight will begin more modestly, as he adjusts to the size, pacing, and power of that division. Usyk, who turns 32 in January, still seems to have peak years remaining in his career, especially if he stays at heavyweight where many fighters do well in their thirties.

There are many excellent boxers active today who excel at their craft and art, far beyond the big punchers who too often get the most attention. Few of them, however, can be categorized as masters, similar to the great masters of other, non-sporting arts. This is entirely separate from the feudal and anachronistic title of "master" given to instructors and coaches in the martial arts, and often to themselves.

The boxing masters belong side-by-side with the great masters in art, literature, and music, lists which must include those from all cultures and lands and not just the ones taught in most Western schools and universities. Likewise, the boxing masters come from all parts of this Earth. It should have already been known that their ranks include that cruiserweight southpaw from Ukraine, Oleksandr Usyk. If he indeed gets recognized as 2018 fighter of the year, it is hoped that his mastery of his art will be celebrated as well.

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