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It’s war! Ola Afolabi tells Marco Huck he’ll need a wheelchair after their trilogy

9 May
As featured on NewsNow: Boxing news

Darren Lewis – London

The third installment of fights between cruiserweight rivals Ola Afolabi and WBO 200lb titlist Marco Huck promises to be the most thrilling as the Briton and German fighters have both declared war. The normally mild-mannered Afolabi, known for his affable personality and technical grace in the ring, advised Huck he’ll need a wheelchair after their June 8 battle at the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin while Marco implied that Ola had just given him that extra motivation to put curtain-calling exclamation point to their trilogy.

Credit: Photo Wende

Battle for the belt. Credit: Photo Wende

“Huck shouldn’t be able to call himself world champion anymore,” said Afolabi during a recent press conference. “In my opinion, he lost on three previous occasions. He lost against Lebedev, he lost against me and also against Arslan. He should only be able to call himself German champion or champion of Berlin.”

Speaking directly to Huck, Afolabi added: “Everybody knows that I have always been a good technician, but now my fitness level is also excellent. I will seriously hurt you come June 8. You will need a wheelchair after the fight.”

Huck brushed off the unpleasantness: “Afolabi is starting to get on my nerves. I beat him in December 2009. After I fought Alexander Povetkin for the WBA heavyweight belt, it was difficult for me to find the right motivation for my rematch with Afolabi in May last year. However, I believe that I actually won that bout, even though it was scored as a majority draw.

“That won’t happen again. I will win in my own backyard. We won’t be playing cat and mouse anymore. This will be a war –

“I won’t be holding back.”

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Defensive wizards Floyd Mayweather and Wladimir Klitschko continue to rule their respective weight classes

7 May
As featured on NewsNow: Boxing news

Sam Janes – Leicester

Last weekend we saw OnTheBeak’s top two Pound for Pound fighters enter the ring for the first time in 2013, with Floyd Mayweather Jr outclassing Robert Guerrero over 12 after Wladimir Klitschko overpowered and eventually knocked Francesco Pianeta out in the sixth. Both men retained their Ring Magazine titles and further more cemented their status as untouchable in their own weight class.

Credit: Tom Casino/Showtime

Credit: Tom Casino/Showtime

There are plenty of similarities between Mayweather and Klitschko, despite the huge gulf in weight. Firstly, they are both masters of defence. Mayweather’s head movement, speed and shoulder roll have resulted in him only being knocked down once (versus Carlos Hernandez at super featherweight) in 2001. Since then no man has knocked Floyd to the canvas or defeated him. Shane Mosley, Oscar de la Hoya and Miguel Cotto have had limited success, but as Max Kellerman noted on ESPN.com after Mayweather’s controversial first fight with Jose Luis Castillo in 2004: “Mayweather is so seldom hit cleanly in his face”, which shows how hard it is to score against ‘Pretty Boy Floyd’.

Wladimir has tightened up his defence since his surprise defeat to Lamon Brewster by TKO in 2004; Emmanuel Steward turned him into a clinical, safe fighter who has won 18 on the bounce since that loss. ‘Dr Steelhammer’ keeps his distance as a fighter, sticking to his rock hard jab which no fighter has been able to get around, as David Haye found out in 2011.

Both fighters are now unquestionably the number one fighter in their division, despite both facing accusations of being boring fighters. Mayweather was booed frequently on Saturday night for failing to knock Guerrero out or share exchanges, and Klitschko has been accused of widely outpointing opponents or picking them off late, but failing to provide any genuine excitement.

Getting involved in wars is not a part of Mayweather or Klitschko’s DNA and this is one of the main reasons the two of them have amassed so many victories and belts. Both have also been accused of picking safe fights over recent years, preferring to protect their records rather than truly challenge themselves. Critics point to Pianeta’s lack of contender credentials and Guerrero’s win over ex welterweight belt-holder Andre Berto being the sole reason for getting a chance at Mayweather as being poor mismatches for fights, and these critics are right.

But this is not the fault of either fighter.

Floyd and Wladimir have beaten the majority of quality fighters available to them. Klitschko has beaten (and is planning to beat Povetkin in September) every genuine heavyweight challenge who doesn’t share his surname. David Haye, the last genuinely deserving challenger, was outmatched by the dominant Ukrainian in comfortab fashion. Floyd has beaten legend after legend in De La Hoya, Gatti and Mosely but people argue his inability to fight Manny Pacquiao or move up to face Alverez or Martinez signals Mayweather’s reluctance to risk his record.

If Klitschko beats Povetkin in September, there is very little out there for him to fight in an even contest. Deontey Wilder and Tyson Fury are developing well but by the time the two of them have truly peaked in ability, Wladimir should be well retired. Until retirement, Klitschko has very little option but to keep beating undeserving challengers.

Fortunately for Wladimir, his fights are so popular on German TV he is paid exceptionally well whoever he fights, so he has very little incentive to go looking for riskier fights with Fury and Wilder.

Credit: Tom Casino/Showtime

Credit: Tom Casino/Showtime

Mayweather, however, has a host of potential opponents from Pacquiao, Martinez and Alverez to up-and-comers like Danny Garcia and Amir Khan. All these fighters are desperate for a chance to take on  “Money” and the PPV revenue he brings.

Again, Floyd offers such a dedicated fan-base that means whoever he fights he can expect well over $10,000,000 in PPV revenue*, so Floyd can decide to take the lower risk fights as it is equally as lucrative.

Despite both essentially clearing out their divisions based on solid fundamentals and defence, the pair will continue to be criticised for taking an easy road. This is unlikely to change unless one gets beaten, but this looks very unlikely over the next couple of years. Mayweather and Klitschko are so big in the sport that they can fight anyone they like and make millions in revenue. They have achieved everything that has been asked of them and so, if they do take a few more comfortable fights and ride off into retirement with their money, I’d argue they’ve earned every right.

*The six-fight Showtime deal Mayweather signed earlier in the year was reported to fetch the athlete a guaranteed $200m over 30 months, with potentially an extra $10m per fight in PPV revenue.

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Jean Pascal wants to fight on May 25 despite Lucian Bute withdrawal

7 May
As featured on NewsNow: Boxing news

Tommy Barber – London

The highly-anticipated duel between Canadian prizefighters Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal, dubbed the greatest fight in Canada’s storied history, has been postponed. Following on from the official announcement by InterBox earlier, co-promoter Yvon Michel accepted the decision, claiming it is an unfortunate part of the sport of boxing.

Pascal v Bute

“Obviously, when we first heard the news a few hours ago, we were all in shock,” said Michel. “This is part of boxing and we are aware that we have to live and deal with these contingencies. Our perception is that this only a postponement. We ask Quebec to show understanding and patience. We wish a speedy recovery to Lucian.”

Jean Pascal added: “I was so excited when I met with the media last week. I thought that I was in the best shape of my life and very optimistic about my fight with Bute. We now need to start over but I am a professional. I know that these things happen and I think that sooner or later, we will both be in the ring to settle our differences.  And I would like to add that I would still fight on May 25; I am ready to face anyone.”

GYM and InterBox are currently in a research and analysis solution mode. Full details will be announced as soon as there are new developments.

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Photos: Saul Canelo Alvarez drops and decisions Austin Trout: I want Floyd Mayweather next!

21 Apr
As featured on NewsNow: Boxing news

Words: Alan Dawson – London

Photo Credit: Tom Casino/Showtime (unless otherwise stated)

Popular junior middleweight prizefighter Saul Alvarez enjoyed a convincing points victory over 154lb rival Austin Trout on Saturday, April 20 at the Alamodome in San Antonio Texas, however, the fight was far more competitive than the scores submitted by the judges at ringside. Trout capitalised on Alvarez’s slow start yet could not cope with the Mexican’s famed tenacity and power and was eventually felled in round seven. Having become the first to defeat Trout, Canelo Alvarez reaffirmed his desire to take on pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr and take his zero also.

Credit: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime

Alvarez put 38,000 bums in seats. Credit: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime

“Canelo shocked us,” said Trout after succumbing to a career first defeat as a professional. “He boxed better than I thought. He moved a lot better than I thought. I did not underestimate him – we just prepared for a totally different fighter. He was the better man,” added the American with no excuses. “He was quicker. He was stronger. He was… better.”

Credit: Tom Casino

Saul clobbered Austin’s noggin’

Credit: Tom Casino

Punching the sweat off Trout’s neck

Credit: Tom Casino

Scoring the seventh round knockdown

Alvarez extended his ledger to 42-0-1, 30ko and added the WBA and The Ring Magazine title to his WBC belt. Having fortified his claim as the junior middleweight’s number one, Saul declared his eagerness to pit his pugilistic wits against Floyd: “Obviously I want Mayweather next.”

On Trout, he added: “Austin was a difficult fighter but I figured out how to fight him. I was connecting with my right and with my jab. My jab was perfect… the key.”

Credit: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime

Alvarez salutes his huge fanbase whilst sporting his loot

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Maidana v Lopez, Angulo v Lara and Bika v Periban confirmed for June 8

18 Apr
As featured on NewsNow: Boxing news

The Home Depot Center in Carson, California will be the site of one of the most intriguing clashes of boxing’s summer season, as Argentinean knockout artist Marcos Maidana faces off against Josesito Lopez in a 12 round fight for Maidana’s WBA intercontinental welterweight belt in the main event of a Showtime tripleheader set for Saturday, June 8.

The card will also feature a 12-round junior middleweight showdown between all-action warrior Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo and number one rated WBC super welterweight contender Erislandy Lara. There is also a clash for the vacant WBC super middleweight world title between number one contender Sakio “The Scorpion” Bika and Mexico’s Marco Antonio Periban, the number four rated 168 pounder.

“If you’re a fan of action fights, there is no better card to see than this one on June 8th,” said President of Golden Boy Promotions, Oscar De La Hoya. “All three high-stakes bouts have the potential to be the main event and the winners who walk out of the Home Depot Center with their hands raised will know they’ve been in a fight.”

Stephen Espinoza, General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports added: “Like all of our recent fights, the fight between Marcos Maidana and Josesito Lopez is a matchup in which there is no clear-cut favorite. You can make a legitimate argument for either fighter. Maidana is one of the most exciting fighters in any division, and he’s facing an opponent, Josesito Lopez, who scored the biggest upset of 2012 and is now back in his most natural weight class.

“Top to bottom, this card is filled with fan-friendly, all-action fights. There is no question that Maidana versus Lopez will be one of the most entertaining, hard-fought matchups of the year, and the Angulo-Lara and Bika-Periban are sure to be hotly contested and action-packed as well.”

On his opponent, Maidana said: “Josesito Lopez is a tough challenge, but I’m ready for everything he will bring to the ring on June 8th. Beating him is the next step to getting a world title shot and I know I’ll get the victory.”

Lopez said: “I fight my best at home, and with the fans in my corner on June 8th, Maidana doesn’t have a chance. He’s going to push me hard from start to finish, but that’s when I truly shine. I promise this will be a great fight for the fans.”

On Lara, Angulo stated: “[He] is one of Cuba’s greatest talents, but I’ll have the California fans on my side and I’m determined to do whatever it takes to win. This is the most important fight of my career and I will perform like it when the bell rings.”

Lara added: “Angulo hits hard and is a tough fighter making this a classic boxer vs. puncher match up. I’m really excited for this fight. Come June 8th, I’m going to put on a boxing display and finally get the ‘W’ over a top fighter that has been taken from me in my past fights.”

Bika thanked Golden Boy: “I’m thankful to Golden Boy Promotions and the WBC for giving me this opportunity and I will make the most of it. Ever since I turned pro, my only goal was to win a world championship and on June 8th, Marco Antonio Periban won’t be able to stop me from getting that belt.”

“I’ve trained hard, I’ve made many sacrifices and I feel that my time is now to become Mexico’s next world champion. Sakio Bika will be my toughest challenge, but I have the skills, determination and heart to beat him. I’ll beat him and become the first Mexican super middleweight world champion and make history for all of Mexico.”

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Compubox numbers and the three photos that define Guillermo Rigondeaux’s victory over Nonito Donaire

15 Apr
As featured on NewsNow: Boxing news

Words: Tommy Barber – London

Photos: Chris Farina – Top Rank

It may not have satisfied the blood-thirst of fight fans still enjoying highlights of the two frontrunning candidates for fight of the year – Mike Alvarado vs Brandon Rios II and Timothy Bradley vs Ruslan Provodnikov – but Guillermo Rigondeaux‘s ability to outpoint Nonito Donaire last Saturday, April 13 provided a fine demonstration of the sweet science in action. Below, are the three photos that sum up the night’s work for the finely-skilled Cuban wizard.

Credit: Chris Farina

Rigo: ‘why you punching yourself in the face Nonito?’

Donaire had the fanbase, the punching power, the stature in the game to attract accolades naming him the heir to the throne vacated by countryman Manny Pacquiao but all that mattered not against Rigondeaux who used a combination of timing, maneuverability, ring smarts and defensive nous to frustrate and perplex one of the most heavily-promoted Top Rank-backed boxers.

According to punch stats released by HBO during their broadcast, Rigondeaux threw 396 shots and found success 33 percent of the time to land 129 times. All these statistics are greater than Nonito’s numbers who threw 352, landed 82 times to create a 23 percent success rate.

Compubox stats reveal a similar pattern and point to Rigondeaux being the far more effective fighter. Guillermo outlanded Donaire in an astonishing 11 rounds, with only the 10th round – where Rigondeaux suffered a knockdown – being the one Donaire was most successful in.

Credit: Chris Farina

Guillermo jumped for joy the moment the final bell sounded

Donaire refused to accept defeat post-fight and between himself and promoter Bob Arum, a move north, to the 126lb division, looks likely. The excuses, though, perhaps discredit what is and should always be, a tactically astute victory for an athlete who made just his 12th appearance in the professional circuit. Rigondeaux linked up with his former amateur coach Pedro Diaz for his night in New York and the two, pictured below, stuck to a winning game-plan throughout the contest.

Credit: Chris Farina

The 122lb division’s newest king

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Braekhus KOs St John, Skoglund outpoints Blackledge, Masternak stops Corbin

15 Apr
As featured on NewsNow: Boxing news

WBA, WBC and WBO female welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus (22-0-0, 6ko) continued her domination of women’s boxing on Saturday night, stopping American legend Mia St. John (47-13-2, 18ko) in the third round of their clash at the Nordic Fight Night in Frederikshavn, Denmark.

Much to the delight of the many Norwegian fans in attendance, the First Lady stamped her authority on the battle early. She had St. John in trouble in the second, and when the former world champion was on the receiving end of another punishing combination, the referee waved the bout off in the third: “It was an honour to fight Mia,” Braekhus said. “She is a living legend and I am happy that I defeated her.”

Said promoter Nisse Sauerland: “Cecilia is the best female fighter in the world and she once again proved that tonight. We will try to make the Holm fight happen now, but we’re not going to wait for it forever, there are other options. Nobody can beat Cecilia, she is just too good.”

On the undercard, Swedish sensation Erik Skoglund (16-0, 9ko) clinched the WBC youth world and WBO youth Intercontinental light heavyweight title with a points victory over Luke Blackledge (13-1-1, 5ko). The two unbeaten youngsters went at it from the first bell, and after ten rounds, Skoglund was ahead 97-93, 96-94 and 96-95 on the judges’ cards.

European Cruiserweight champion Mateusz Masternak improved to 30-0 (22ko) with a ninth-round TKO win over Sean Corbin (15-4, 10ko) to add the silver version of WBC International title to his collection. Corbin was down in the eighth and the ninth.

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Guillermo Rigondeaux stuns Nonito Donaire with UD win in NYC: I’ve proved I’m the best!

14 Apr

Alan Dawson – London

Nonito Donaire suffered a second career defeat at the hands of Guillermo Rigondeaux at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Saturday, April 13. In an unexciting yet tactical bout, Rigondeaux continually confounded Donaire with a technical potshot-and-move strategy that was upset in the tenth when the Cuban was knocked down. With victory, WBA super bantamweight belt holder Rigondeaux annexed the WBO world title.

Dawson’s scorecard

Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Donaire
9 9 9 10 9 9 10 9 9 10
9 9
Rigondeaux
10 10 10
9 10 10 9 10 10 8 10 10

Official verdict: Rigondeaux by way of UD (114-113, 115-112 and 116-111).

Both southpaw Rigondeaux and orthodox fighter Donaire maneuvered their feet into position to launch straight shots with their power mitt within the first minute of the opening round. Whilst their respective body languages lived up to their pre-fight promise that there would be bad intentions behind their respective strategies, there was little to separate the pugilists after three minutes of tentative, cerebral combat aside from one straight left shot from Guillermo that forced Nonito onto the back-foot.

In the second session, Rigondeaux strived to goad Donaire into action using a combination of feints and inviting footwork. Midway through the round, Rigo punched to the body, landed a combination upstairs and had one power punch blocked by a Donaire who was yet to find his rhythm despite scoring some distinctive marking over the eye/brow region of Rigondeaux.

Renowned trainer Robert Garcia barked Johnny Cash instructions during the third round, imploring his charge Donaire to “get rhythm!” to “get rhythm in front!” and “always on the jab!” While Donaire had managed to punch and box his way into the fight in the third, that rhythm that Garcia pined after proved hard for Donaire to find largely because of Rigondeaux’s evasive and intuitive movement.

Any success Donaire aimed to capitalise on in the fourth round was shut down by Rigondeaux with a counter-punching method. Donaire, the aggressor, continually attempted to find a way in with a crowd-pleasing attack while Rigondeaux was content boxing from mid-range and waiting to land one big shot – his straight left hand. Moments before the bell, a millisecond street fight broke out that began because of an accurate crack dispatched by Donaire.

In the fifth, ring general Donaire dictated the pace of the fight. While Nonito owned the central space of the ring, Rigondeaux danced… even sprinted, around the periphery. Even though Donaire possessed a pound-for-pound ranking and a 2012 trainer of the year winning coach in Robert Garcia, he did not target Guillermo’s body enough in order to slow the Cuban’s running. This allowed Rigo to box his fight, not Nonito’s.

In the sixth, Rigondeaux secured the round’s most meaningful punches with a body-bound then upstairs combination. The competitive and strategic encounter between the super bantamweight division’s two most well-known names was underlined by that two-punch move arguably winning Rigondeaux the round alone. Otherwise, there was little action.

Yes, the first half of the contest was epitomised by one-pace but that was something that threatened to change in the seventh round as Donaire, with his fast hands, cannoned a three-punch combo into Rigondeaux’s frame. However, that intention proved exclusive to the beginning of the stanza as, for the rest of the round, Rigondeaux swatted and parried punches away with his gloves in what had become a frustrating, chess-like affair for the spectator.

In the eight and ninth rounds, the pace of the fight continued to be dictated by the Cuban, whose refusal to engage with the Filipino Flash annoyed the sell-out New York crowd. While Guillermo allowed his fists to fly, most of his shots were blocked harmlessly by Donaire’s gloves.

“You gotta think about your family, about your baby,” said Garcia to Donaire moments before the tenth round. Robert, the sport’s fastest-rising elite-level trainer, used family as a source of motivation and it proved to be inspired as Donaire floored Rigondeaux by utilising a short-range left hand mere minutes after the speech. Rigo struggled to regain his composure, showed un-sturdy legs but had enough wherewithal to use the full space of the ring to his advantage.

Rigondeaux had settled down in the championship rounds and even hurt Donaire at the beginning of the final round. Donaire was largely forced to box one-handed for the last three minutes as he kept his right hand tight to his right eye… something that had been swelling profusely, perhaps due to a rogue thumbing early in the round.

When the bell signified the end of competition, Donaire received treatment for an eye appearing more grotesque by the second. Rigondeaux, conversely, mounted a neutral turnbuckle and saluted the East Coast fight fans convinced he had just secured himself the most momentous victory of his professional career to date.

“I prepared myself well. Everyone has their opinion, about my amateur background, but I proved myself [as a professional] today,” said Rigo to Top Rank TV after receiving a unanimous nod by the three judges. “Everybody talked about how Rigondeaux was going to lose today but I proved that I am the best 122lb fighter in the world. I’m here, ready to fight anybody. I don’t hide, I don’t duck!”

Rigondeaux moves to 12-0-0, 8ko with the win, while Donaire dropped to 31-2-0, 20ko.

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Bernard Hopkins vs Karo Murat could land in New York on July 27

13 Apr
As featured on NewsNow: Boxing news

Karo Murat (25-1-1, 15ko) has the chance to crown himself as the light heavyweight champion of the world. The IBF mandatory challenger takes on the living legend Bernard Hopkins (53-6-2, 32ko and pictured below) this summer. Only a few more details will have to be sorted out, before this match-up will go ahead.

Credit: Gene Blevins – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Credit: Gene Blevins – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

“I was so excited when I first found out about this,” said the 29-year-old Team Sauerland boxer. “We have been testing my punching power on Thursday and the good news gave me some extra motivation, which showed in the results afterwards.”

However, Murat is aware that his next test will be much more difficult. His opponent from Philadelphia wrote boxing history on March 9 when he became the oldest ever world champion at the age of 48 by beating then-titlist Tavoris Cloud. “Hopkins proved that he doesn’t belong to the old guard. I will do everything I can to be in the best shape possible.”

The fight against Hopkins will also be Murat’s first outing on American shores, a prospect he is relishing. “I am really looking forward to it. Fighting in the States will be a very special occasion in my career.” Murat also has a message for the IBF Champion: “I will hurt Hopkins. I have the same attitude as he does. I just don’t train hard, but I train the right way. He is going to feel that.”

Currently, July 27 is a possibility for the clash between the two light heavyweights with New York being the likely destination. Golden Boy Promotions and Sauerland Event will soon announce any new developments.

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Guillermo Rigondeaux on Nonito Donaire’s aggression: I will be coming for him

13 Apr
As featured on NewsNow: Boxing news

Alan Dawson – London

On Saturday, April 13 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, two-time Olympic gold medal winner Guillermo Rigondeaux intends on fighting fire with fire against the typically aggressive and knockout hungry Nonito Donaire. Regarded to be two of the three finest fighters the super bantamweight division has to offer, both boxers bring an alphabet title to duel, whilst the prestigious The Ring magazine belt will also be on the line.

xxx. Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

Pedro Diaz tapes Rigo’s gloves. Credit: Chris Farina – Top Rank

“Nonito is a great tactician and has enormous power so I think it’s going to be an exciting fight,” said Guillermo (11-0-0, 8ko), ahead of fight night.

Donaire (31-1-0, 20ko) represents one of the few boxers analysts agree to be a consensus top five pound-for-pound professional. His victories over Vic Darchinyan, Wladimir Sidorenko, Fernando Montiel, Toshiaki Nishioka and, his most recent opponent, Jorge Arce, demonstrate his ability to retain his power despite traversing through the flyweight, bantamweight and super bantamweight divisions.

Against Rigondeaux, he also has a height and reach advantage but the Cuban – who linked up with his amateur mentor Pedro Diaz for this marquee showdown – believes the best strategy to combat Donaire’s thumping nature is to respond in kind.

“[Donaire] is a great boxer and a great technician. He is a boxer that acts on reaction. Action / reaction – he takes it from there. In the moment of the fight he reacts. He really has no strategy with the length of his arms. He reacts in the ring.

“I will try to engage more than I have in the past,” noted Guillermo. “I want to give the fans what they want to see. Nonito is an aggressive boxer and I will be coming for him. I expect the same from Nonito. I think there are going to be a lot of fireworks.”

xxx. Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

Guillermo and Pedro work the pads. Credit: Chris Farina – Top Rank

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