LAS VEGAS – Uruguay boxing guru Sampson Lewkowicz, the man called Picasso for his artful matchmaking, knew it all along. He predicted Juan Manuel Marquez would knock out Manny Pacquiao in their fourth meeting at the MGM Grand Garden Arena here Saturday night and that’s exactly what happened.
Lewkowicz, who promotes IBF lightflyweight champion Johnriel Casimero, said he saw danger signs with Pacquiao more and more immersed in politics, religion and activities unrelated to the fight game. “Boxing is a very jealous sport,” he said. “You’ve got to be totally devoted to it. If you’re not, it’s like cheating on your wife. Boxing demands that you’re 100 percent devoted to the sport. You can’t be a fighter and a politician or a preacher. If Manny wants to continue fighting, he has to rededicate himself to boxing. I don’t know if at this stage in his life, he’d like to do that.”
Lewkowicz’ protégé Javier Fortuna of the Dominican Republic outpointed previously unbeaten Patrick Hyland to capture the vacant interim WBA featherweight title in the undercard. Fortuna, 23, raised his record to 21-0-1, with 15 KOs. Lewkowicz said he is now negotiating for Casimero’s next title defense against No. 1 contender Luis Alberto Rios of Panama. “It could go to a purse bid,” said Lewkowicz. “If only Casimero had TV support from the Philippines, it would be easy to bring his next fight home.”
Boxing trainer Robert Garcia, whose wards include Nonito Donaire and Brandon (Bam Bam) Rios, said Pacquiao should seriously consider retiring. Garcia spoke from experience. The former IBF superfeatherweight champion hung up his gloves at the age of 26 in 2001 after losing three of five fights, all by knockout to Joel Casamayor, Ben Tackie and Diego Corrales. Now, Garcia, 37, operates his own gym in Oxnard, California.
“I couldn’t believe Manny lost that way,” he said. “It was completely unexpected, especially since we were talking of Bam Bam fighting Manny next. I predicted Manny to win by a close decision. I think Manny could come back to fight if he wants to. He’s still capable of doing great things as a boxer. But what for? Nobody can ever do what he has achieved, winning world championships in eight different divisions. He has nothing left to prove. He should enjoy his wealth and his family. It’s really up to him what he wants to do.”
Rios was disappointed that with Pacquiao’s defeat, he’ll look for another opponent. Before Saturday night, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum hinted of a Pacquiao-Rios fight next year. “It’s my time,” said Rios, the unbeaten former WBA lightweight champion. “I’m young (26) and strong. I wanted Manny to beat Marquez so I could fight him next but now, I’ve got to talk to my manager Cameron (Dunkin) to find out what to do. Manny losing to Marquez by a knockout was unbelievable.”
Garcia said a Pacquiao-Rios bout would have been an easy Fight of the Year candidate. “It’s a fight fans would’ve loved to watch,” said Garcia. “Nobody would’ve backed down. Now, I don’t know if that’ll ever happen.”
Garcia said he’s flying to Argentina for the Marcos Maidana-Angel Martinez bout for the WBA International welterweight title on Wednesday then the next day, join Donaire in Houston for the Jorge Arce battle on Dec. 15. “If Nonito wants to end it early, he can do it in two or three rounds,” said Garcia. “But you can’t take Arce lightly, he’s a warrior. Maybe, it’ll go five or six before Nonito stops him. While Nonito trained in San Carlos City (near San Francisco), I called him up every day to check on his progress. I sent over sparring partners. I’ll work his corner for the Arce fight.”
Garcia was in Hernan (Tyson) Marquez’ corner when the Mexican was knocked out by Brian Viloria in a WBO/WBA flyweight unification duel in Los Angeles last Nov. 17. Ironically, Garcia used to train Viloria but after four fights, they split ways in a bitter separation. “I’m happy for Brian,” said Garcia. “There’s no bad blood between us, we’re fine. He surprised me with his power in knocking our Marquez. I congratulated him after the fight, I’m really glad that things are working out with Brian.”