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Golovkin makes short work of Martirosyan with 2nd round KO

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CARSON, Calif. (AP) Gennady Golovkin won his 20th consecutive middleweight title defense with a second-round knockout of Vanes Martirosyan on Saturday night.

Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) tied Bernard Hopkins’ record for middleweight title defenses by sending Martirosyan down at 1:53 of the second round.

After being tagged with a strong three-punch combination from Martirosyan (36-4-1) late in the first round, Golovkin responded with a devastating charge in the second. He started the onslaught with a short left and pounced on the damaged Martirosyan, finally dropping him with two powerful lefts.

The fight was arranged at the last minute after Golovkin’s rematch with Canelo Alavarez fell apart. Golovkin and Alvarez fought to a draw last September and were set to meet again in Las Vegas on Cinco de Mayo before Alvarez was suspended for six months by the Nevada Athletic Commission in April after failing a March drug test.

With the lucrative fight against Alvarez scuttled until this fall at the earliest, Golovkin was eventually able to put together a replacement bout in Southern California, where he built up a strong following with a series of title defenses at StubHub Center and the Forum. Despite short notice and a modest card, promotors expected Golovkin to draw a record-crowd for boxing at StubHub Center of more than 9,000.

Golovkin said he would take on all comers, including Alvarez.

“I want everyone,” Golovkin said. “I have a lot of belts. I challenge anyone to come and take my belts. I don’t care who. Let’s clean out the division.”

In the first women’s fight on HBO in the cable network’s 45-year history of broadcasting boxing, undisputed welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus (33-0) remained undefeated with a unanimous decision win over Kali Reis (13-7-1).

Braekhus won 97-92, 96-93 and 96-93 on the three scorecards despite being knocked down to one knee by a hard right from Reis in the seventh round. Reis nearly dropped Braekhus again in the eighth with another hard right, and the crowd booed when the result was announced after Reis’ late charge.

UFC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg attended the fight and confirmed her interest in boxing against Braekhus.

Pacquiao wins 60th career fight with seventh-round knockout

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) Manny Pacquiao clinched his 60th victory with a seventh-round knockout Sunday of Argentinian Lucas Matthysse, his first stoppage in nine years.

Pacquiao said he worked hard but was surprised by the swift win in the World Boxing Association welterweight title fight.

Pacquiao rebounded from his disappointing loss last year to Australian Jeff Horn and his victory could extend his boxing career that had taken a backseat to his political life as a Filipino senator.

“This is part of boxing. You win some, you lose some,” Matthysse said. He hailed Pacquiao as a “great legend” and said he will take a break after his loss.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also attended the fight, the biggest boxing match in the country since the 1975 heavyweight clash between Muhammad Ali and Australian Joe Bugner.

Duterte said: “I would like to congratulate Senator Manny Pacquiao for giving us pride and bringing the Filipino nation together once more.”

‘It’s about time’: Trump pardons late boxer Jack Johnson

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WASHINGTON (AP) President Donald Trump on Thursday granted a rare posthumous pardon to boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, clearing Jack Johnson’s name more than 100 years after what many see as his racially-charged conviction.

“It’s my honor to do it. It’s about time,” Trump said during an Oval Office ceremony, where he was joined by boxer Lennox Lewis and actor Sylvester Stallone, who has drawn awareness to Johnson’s cause.

Trump said Johnson had served 10 months in prison for what many view as a racially-motivated injustice and described his decision as an effort “to correct a wrong in our history.”

“He represented something that was both very beautiful and very terrible at the same time,” Trump said.

Johnson was convicted in 1913 by an all-white jury for violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for “immoral” purposes, for traveling with his white girlfriend.

Trump had said previously that Stallone had brought Johnson’s story to his attention in a phone call.

“His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial,” Trump tweeted in April. “Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon!”

Johnson is a legendary figure in boxing and crossed over into popular culture decades ago with biographies, dramas and documentaries following the civil rights era.

He died in 1946. His great-great niece has pressed Trump for a posthumous pardon, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have been pushing Johnson’s case for years.

The son of former slaves, Johnson defeated Tommy Burns for the heavyweight title in 1908 at a time when blacks and whites rarely entered the same ring. He then mowed down a series of “great white hopes,” culminating in 1910 with the undefeated former champion, James J. Jeffries.

McCain previously told The Associated Press that Johnson “was a boxing legend and pioneer whose career and reputation were ruined by a racially charged conviction more than a century ago.”

“Johnson’s imprisonment forced him into the shadows of bigotry and prejudice, and continues to stand as a stain on our national honor,” McCain has said.

Posthumous pardons are rare, but not unprecedented. President Bill Clinton pardoned Henry O. Flipper, the first African-American officer to lead the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War, and Bush pardoned Charles Winters, an American volunteer in the Arab-Israeli War convicted of violating the U.S. Neutrality Acts in 1949.

Linda E. Haywood, the great-great niece, wanted Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, to pardon Johnson, but Justice Department policy says “processing posthumous pardon petitions is grounded in the belief that the time of the officials involved in the clemency process is better spent on the pardon and commutation requests of living persons.”

The Justice Department makes decisions on potential pardons through an application process and typically makes recommendations to the president. The general DOJ policy is to not accept applications for posthumous pardons for federal convictions, according to the department’s website. But Trump has shown a willingness to work around the DOJ process in the past.

Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.