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The Star Wars [Vol.II]: Underworld

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Canelo V GGG. Two fighters who could karaoke Drake’s “Started from the bottom now we here!” with the same conviction they fight with. But to be clear, they are descendants from Hell, with dystopian tendency in the ring because of the underworld.

It is the place where myth is born and gives birth to legend. A perfect place for opinion on a superfight. In the case of underground king, Jeremy “Jay Flash” Nichols, it allowed for the chance to morph into Manny Pacquiao and confront a legend in Floyd Mayweather. It’s turning to dusk as I head down what’s about to be a legendary dark alley.

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Johnny Tocco’s Ringside Gym in Las Vegas can churn out a welterweight brick like Nichols (7-0-1, 2KOs), like Tony Soprano’s Jersey deli and butcher shop chops up rats. You see the iconic art images of ring immortals on the walls as you drive in and throw it in a bowl with the mobster history you’ve read. All of a sudden, it feels like you’re walking into John Gotti’s Ravenite Social Club with Everlast equipment.

You almost are.

An unframed moment between Johnny Tocco himself and Sonny Liston hovers over the office door as you enter. It’s not exactly a mistletoe, but it feels like you’ve been kissed by the ghost of pugilistic “Good Fellas”.

Old photos of a young Mike Tyson, and particularly epic capturing of sparring between George Foreman and Liston. They spawned Tyson. Tocco fathered all of them and so many others.

“See that over there?” asks Luis Monda, Tocco’svery wise lead trainer, pointing in the direction of aspiring pro David Green, who’s seated on a huge truck tire near the back. “That was Sonny’s tire– and so is that hole in it. This place was a bar with no windows. So your problems were never heard. Just dealt with.”

Brooklyn’s own budding star, 2017 Golden Gloves champion Za-Quan Peterkin, digs in on Chavez Jr and declares GGG his favorite fighter. “He had no business in the ring [with Canelo]… Chavez Jr couldn’t fight here,” said Peterkin, who pressed Timothy Bradley and Jesse Vargas as they prepped for Pacquiao. “Golovkin will show Jr how its done against Canelo.”

Monda slightly disagreed, leaning toward a close UD over Triple G. “I like what I’m seeing from Canelo,” said Monda through squinted eyes. “He’s improved a lot in technique; his movement and youth… He can get a decision.”

I look around the small gym with so much history, and a Jay-Z line blasts through my head: “Windows no tint/ cars no rims/ that’s cuz we handle ours like grown men”. It’s designed for teaching the art of boxing. Fuckin’ bottom-line.

In walks a shirtless ‘Jay Flash’ Nichols in elite condition and red ring kicks. His dreads hang casually as he saunters likes he’s in his living room. In two minutes, I feel like I’ve known him for 10 years.

He 50/50 on Canelo V GGG, because of what he’s seen from Canelo against Floyd Mayweather in 2013; to the one who ‘heavy-bagged’ Chavez Jr. He should know. Nichols gave Mayweather all he could want during several 6-minute rounds in preparation for Pacquiao.

“GGG is almost as old as Floyd was when a younger Canelo fought him, and he’s a better fighter then,” said Nichols, who for head-scratching reasons hasn’t fought in 2017.

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I leave Tocco’s ┬áliterally wanting a taco and needing to talk to my boy Colin Morrison, who writes for NY Fights from Scotland. I get his take on GGG/Canelo.

“I’m thinking Canelo has a real chance to win now,” said Morrie, in a cool-ass Scottish voice signature. “GGG may be slipping a notch and Canelo looks to be peaking. I see a great fight with Canelo getting the nod on the cards.”

I noticed he said “Now.” As if anytime before seeing Golovkin’s last two outings, Canelo had no chance. Here’s what I think as of now…

GGG is the heavier puncher and Canelo is the faster puncher. Still, he’s a dynamic combination puncher who couldn’t really hurt a Miguel Cotto who’d been hurt by welterweights.

Golden Boy has taken every precaution with Golovkin; from getting data on him from Curtis Stevens, to putting powerful David Lemieux in the line of fire with him. With what I’ve seen from Golovkin against Kell Brook and Daniel Jacobs– very strong black fighters, is a better body of work than against an overrated and undersized Khan, and now, an overrated and oversized Chavez Jr.

In the middle of that is Golovkin. Both of them have the confidence of world leaders, and if they fought in Johnny Tocco’s Gym today, I think GGG loses all of his prime whacking Canelo late.

Then again, that’s with the thought that Liston would bet on Golovkin. Who says that’s a safe bet in the underworld?

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