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‘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.

Canelo Alvarez inks 11-bout deal, $365 million deal with streaming service DAZN

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NEW YORK – Canelo Alvarez has signed an 11-fight deal to have his fights shown on the sports-streaming service DAZN, beginning with his next bout.

Alvarez will move up in weight to challenge WBA super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding on Dec. 15 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Golden Boy Promotions said Wednesday that Alvarez’s deal will be the richest athlete contract in sports history. Terms weren’t announced.

Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) is coming off s victory over Gennady Golovkin in a middleweight showdown in September. That fight, like most of boxing’s biggest, was shown on pay-per-view. It cost $84.95 to be seen in high definition.

Now fans can pay significantly less – $9.99 subscription cost per month in the U.S. – to see his fights on DAZN (pronounced Da-Zone). Under the five-year partnership, Golden Boy also will put on up to 10 fight nights per year that will stream live on DAZN beginning in early 2019.

Alvarez wins narrow decision over Golovkin for middleweight title

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin fought 24 rounds in the space of a year, with little to pick between them.

When the scorecards were totaled Saturday night, though, there was a new middleweight champion of the world — but not by much.

Alvarez won the 160-pound titles held by Golovkin by the narrowest of margins, taking a majority decision to hand the longtime champion his first loss as a pro.

Two judges gave Alvarez the final round, allowing him to pull out the win.

A year after the two fought to a draw, the second fight was almost as close. There were no knockdowns, but the action was spirited throughout as the two battled to the final bell before a frenzied crowd at the T-Mobile Arena.

Two judges favored Alvarez 115-113, while a third had it 114-114. The AP scored it 114-114.

“He’s a great fighter but I’m a great fighter and I showed it tonight,” Alvarez said.

The two fighters switched roles from their first fight, with Triple G trying to counter Alvarez and the Mexican fighter coming forward much of the fight. Both landed well to the head and Golovkin (38-1-1) controlled some rounds with his jab though neither were ever in any trouble of going down.

The fight was a rematch of a draw last September that left neither fighter satisfied. This time it was Golovkin who was upset, and he stormed out of the ring without talking.

“I can’t complain, that’s what we have the judges for,” said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer.

Ringside punch stats showed a close fight, though they favored Golovkin by a small margin. Golovkin was credited with landing 234 of 879 punches while Alvarez (50-1-2) landed 203 of 622.

Almost immediately there was talk of a third fight between two middleweights who now know each other well.

“If the people want us to do it again let’s do it again,” Alvarez said. “For now I’m going to enjoy it with my family.”

Alvarez seemed to take control of the fight in the middle rounds, but Triple G came on strong in the final few rounds to make it as close as it could be. Golovkin landed several big punches to start the 12th round but still lost it on the two scorecards that ended up favoring Alvarez.

Both fighters were cut with Alvarez having one over his left eye and Golovkin cut over the right eye.

It was the first loss in 40 fights for Golovkin, the fearsome puncher from Kazakhstan who held portions of the middleweight title for seven years. And it came at the hands of the red-headed Alvarez, a Mexican star whose positive test for clenbuterol forced the rematch to be postponed from May.

They put on another show before a roaring crowd of 21,965, who crowded into the arena on the Las Vegas Strip with high anticipation in the biggest fight of the year.

Most of the crowd on Mexican Independence Day weekend favored Alvarez, who seemed to control much of the pace of the fight even while taking some sharp shots to the head. Though Golovkin has a reputation as a knockout artist, he never seemed to hurt Alvarez, who credited his fight plan with the win.

“I showed my victory with facts,” Alvarez said. “He was the one who was backing up. It was a clear victory.”

Alvarez was guaranteed $5 million to $4 million for Golovkin, though both fighters were expected to make many millions more from the biggest pay-per-view in boxing so far this year.