New standard of player protection at gaming venues

A team of Australian experts has set a new global standard to protect gaming organisations and venues, their customers, and their communities against gambling-related harm and money laundering.

Known as Senet Assure and Senet Assure Premium, the compliance accreditation launched today has been developed by Australia’s leading specialist gambling law, regulatory, and compliance advisory, Senet.

The announcement follows a warning this month by the NSW Crime Commission that the Australian economy could become a greater target for financial crime due to its successful management of Covid 19, and concerns that poker machines would be exploited as a money laundering option for criminals.

Senet regulatory and gambling specialist Paul Newson said the certification addresses the distinct challenges facing the industry in 2021.

“The certification will only be awarded to operators who can demonstrate the highest level of vigilance” Mr Newson said.

“Our team has developed this accreditation based on our deep knowledge of the complexities and challenges in 2021 facing gambling operators committed to responsible gambling outcomes and staying a step ahead of criminal activity.”

“The accreditation is a way for industry leaders to demonstrate they are meeting the highest standards of accountability and exceeding best practice in protecting their customers and their staff in cultivating a workplace culture of compliance and social responsibility.”

Mr Newson said that as well as safeguarding corporate reputation and minimising the risks of gambling harm and financial crime, achieving accreditation via the program developed by his team would demonstrate an organisation’s commitment to responsible gambling culture.

The Senet team has unmatched regulatory and legal expertise across the gambling sector including in respect of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulation.


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Posted on 11:45 pm

Post-inquiry terminations and resignations hit Crown Resorts Limited

In Australia and the Consolidated Press Holdings Proprietary Limited (CPHPL) vehicle of billionaire businessman James Packer has reportedly severed its boardroom ties with prominent casino operator Crown Resorts Limited.
According to a Tuesday report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the investments enterprise holds a preeminent 36% stake in the casino firm although it has now nevertheless terminated the consultancy contract it held with Crown Resorts Limited non-executive director John Poynton.
Voluminous vacuum:
The broadcaster reported that Poynton was the last remaining CPHPL appointee left on the board of Crown Resorts Limited following the Tuesday resignations of fellow non-executive directors Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston. Although the experienced businessman is to remain on the Sydney-listed casino firm’s board, the move purportedly means that its largest shareholder now effectively has no direct representation.
Rapid response:
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that CPHPL’s blow came only hours after a special inquiry being conducted by former New South Wales Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin had determined that the Melbourne-headquartered casino firm was currently unfit to hold a gambling license for its Crown Sydney development. This decision is purportedly now headed to the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority with its release having immediately sent the value of individual shares in Crown Resorts Limited down by some 9%.
Suitable step:
Philip Crawford (pictured) leads the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority and he reportedly told the broadcaster in advance of yesterday’s Johnston and Jalland resignations that Crown Resorts Limited would have to ‘blow itself up to save itself.’ When subsequently informed about the departures, he purportedly proclaimed that ‘somebody is listening to us and that’s really positive’ as the moves are destined to send ‘a big message to me and the media.’
Pertinent patience:
The Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, reportedly pronounced that the findings of the Bergin inquiry had been direct, thorough and clear and that she was now prepared to wait for specific recommendations and advice from the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority before proceeding further.
Berejiklian reportedly told the broadcaster…
“It’s all there in black and white and I’m sure both Crown Resorts Limited and any other organization will read that report carefully and accept what action has to occur before anybody is able to have a licence in New South Wales. Anybody who wants to operate a casino in New South Wales has to stick to the rules, has to stick to the law. The government doesn’t apologize for upholding those high standards.”

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Posted on 11:36 pm

Features on betting sites : gambling

If a betting site gave you a specific info through some pop up banner or something, would you ever take that into consideration while making your ticket? Information like: “LeBron James scored more than 20 points in his last 10 games” and then they give you the opportunity to make a bet that he will score more than 20.5 points in the next game. Would you ever consider those if that was a thing?

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Posted on 11:21 pm

Gryder Appointed 1/ST RACING VP of Industry Relations

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 5:55 pm |
Back to: Top News Updated: February 10, 2021 at 5:57 pm
Aaron Gryder and Mike Smith at Santa Anita | Nate Newby

Retired jockey Aaron Gryder has been appointed to the postion of Vice President, Industry Relations for 1/ST RACING. Gryder will serve as a liaison between 1/ST RACING and industry stakeholders to help advance health, safety and rider reforms with a focus on jockey outreach. He will act as an ambassador for 1/ST RACING in California, Florida and Maryland.
Gryder will be based in Florida and will report directly to Aidan Butler, 1/ST’s chief operating officer and will be a media spokesperson for the company. He will also be a primary point of contact for horsemen stabled at 1/ST RACING venues.
“We are excited to welcome Aaron to the 1/ST RACING team in this vital new role,” said Butler. “Aaron’s depth of experience as a professional jockey and work with industry stakeholders is a perfect connection to ensure our communications and relations between tracks, stakeholders and the public is transparent, detailed and consistent. His extensive knowledge of the racetrack is incredibly valuable as we continue to elevate our safety protocols and promote 1/ST RACING.”

Added Gryder: “I am thrilled for the opportunity to work with the forward-thinking team at 1/ST RACING to bring our sport into the future. As a jockey I conducted myself in a manner that displayed my love for the horses and respect for the great sport of horse racing. I will bring the same enthusiasm and work ethic that helped me to be successful throughout my career as a jockey to my new role.”

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.

This story was posted in Top News and tagged 1/ST Racing, Aaron Gryder, Aidan Butler, Horse Racing, management.

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Posted on 11:03 pm

The Mavericks stopped doing the National Anthem a while ago and nobody noticed

Mark Cuban, who decided to stop playing the national anthem before Mavs games, has now been directed to do otherwise by the league.Image: Getty ImagesThe NBA is doing the most right now.The league is currently willing to die on a hill that might be as unnecessary as a winter coat in Miami.After Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban decided to stop playing the National Anthem before Dallas home games this season, the NBA responded today by releasing a statement that said all teams will have to play the national anthem per league policy.The craziest part of the story is that Cuban and the Mavericks had not played the Anthem at any of their 13 of their home games so far this season, and no one even noticed until a few days ago. The team allowed fans to attend games for the first time all season on Monday. The Mavericks will play the Anthem moving forward, starting with their game against Atlanta on Wednesday. Cuban released a statement following the decision.G/O Media may get a commissionCuban also joined The Jump today to address the controversy surrounding his decisions on the anthem.ESPN reported that Cuban originally decided to cut the anthem in November after consulting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver. The National Anthem has been controversial in the sports landscape for years now. Colin Kaepernick and a plethora of other athletes have demonstrated during the song to bring attention to racial injustice in this country. The NBA relaxed its policy on forcing players to stand for the national anthem during the Orlando bubble after months of increased racial tensions following the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.For many Americans especially people of color, the anthem invoked many emotions that aren’t positive. A lot of Black and brown people have a complex relationship with America that isn’t represented through the Star-Spangled Banner. The song itself was written by a slave owner and has racist lyrics.Aside from all of the problematic issues that swirl around this song, what makes this conversation even more aggravating is the fact that many people can’t even justify the need for playing the anthem before a sporting event outside of the fact that it is a common practice. We’ve been unnecessarily playing this song before sporting events for decades with little benefit from it just for the heck of it.Do they play the national anthem before you go to work every day? Do they play it before Congress tries to make a law? Do they play it before the Grammys?NoSo what makes the anthem so important that it deserves to be played before every sporting event?Absolutely nothing, it’s honestly just a big waste of everyone’s time and energy. And that’s no disrespect to the women and men of the military who risk their lives for our safety. If we are keeping it real, playing the anthem doesn’t benefit them anyway. What would benefit them would be supporting causes that help make veterans’ lives better once they leave the service or getting Congress to pass legislation to help veterans adjust to regular life once they are off the battlefield.The NBA’s position on keeping the anthem is ridiculous and unnecessary. Cuban tried to free us and the league from the pointless gesture but the NBA couldn’t see the bigger picture. .

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Posted on 10:50 pm

Indiana, Maryland struggles in loaded Big Ten ignite debate over inclusion of .500 team in NCAA field

In March 1991, I was courtside at Madison Square Garden when the Villanova Wildcats lost by just two points in the Big East Tournament semifinals to eventual champion Seton Hall, falling to 16-14 on the regular season. It did not seem so much like an extraordinary moment then, just a very entertaining basketball game.
And yet, three decades later, those Wildcats carry a significant distinction in the long history of March Madness. They became the first team ever selected to the NCAA Tournament with a record just two games over the .500 mark. A decade later, after losing to LSU in a one-point game at the SEC Tournament, Georgia also finished 16-14 in the regular season and likewise was selected to the NCAAs as an at-large entrant.

Those Wildcats and those Bulldogs are the only ones, though. There have been 1,215 at-large selections since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, but no one else has made it as an at-large selection with such an unattractive record.MORE: Sporting News’ midseason 2020-21 All-American teamAre we ready, then, in a college basketball season when everything else has been impacted by the pandemic, for a .500 team to be installed on the NCAA bracket? Maybe one game over? This has been a college basketball season without precedent, so will the selection committee be interested in breaking most or all the precedents that governed its choices over the past four decades?“I don’t want to see a huge change in that thought process,” college basketball analyst Mike O’Donnell, who calls games for ESPN and CBS Sports, told Sporting News. “If you’re .500 on the season, or you’re below, to me you should have no business being in the conversation. Because winning ultimately matters.”Teams were permitted to play 27 games in 2020-21 and encouraged to play at least four outside their conferences. That was not universally easy to achieve because of COVID-19 issues. St. Bonaventure only got in two such games. Colorado State played three. Penn State and Rutgers each played four. These are among the many teams fighting for at-large berths with a relatively uncertain outcome.Some of those that are members of highly competitive conferences, most obviously the Big Ten, have struggled — in part because of these truncated non-league schedules — to compile the sort of won/loss records that ordinarily would have made them attractive at-large candidates.A year ago, when nine of the Big Ten’s teams ranked among the top 40 in the final NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings, they were projected to have 10 teams in the NCAA field by the final composite, with the poorest overall record among them belonging to 19-12 Michigan.This year’s Big Ten has four teams in the NET top 10 and 10 in the top 50. Among those top-30 teams, though, are 10-8 Indiana and 7-9 Penn State. Maryland is ranked 42nd in the NET and has a 9-10 record against Division I opponents. It is not just Big Ten teams facing this conundrum. In the Big East, Seton Hall is the NET’s 45th team and is only 11-8. Connecticut is 51st and stands at 8-4, having struggled with multiple interruptions because of COVID protocols.It might be easy to look at those records and dismiss their candidacies for NCAA bids. After all, there are teams such as the Loyola Ramblers, who rank 12th in the NET and have a 15-3 record against Division I teams. They certainly could be chosen for the tournament ahead of a team from a more prominent conference. And they might be. As of now, though, whereas Indiana owns two victories over NET No. 10 Iowa, Loyola hasn’t beaten anyone ranked higher than 111th. Nearly two-thirds of the Ramblers’ wins are against teams ranked lower than 190th.In this particular year, this is less Loyola’s fault than it ordinarily might be. The opportunity to play high-level non-conference opponents — whether they be major-conference teams or elite mid-majors — was restrained by the abbreviated schedule. The Ramblers did, however, get opportunities against both Wisconsin and Richmond and were unable to win.“In my opinion, if you’re trying to get in the 68 ‘best’ teams, then there’s probably a .500 team that belongs in the field,” one longtime mid-major coach told Sporting News. “But if you’re trying to identify the 68 most ‘deserving,’ then the one that should be included, unquestionably, is that mid-major that has been successful. And the standard has always been, to some degree, the most deserving teams. The pandemic didn’t allow so many non-conference games to take place.”MORE: How college bench players work to hype up teammates in empty arenasFor those in the business of projecting which teams will be selected to the NCAA Tournament, Maryland has been a team that fits squarely into the argument regarding whether the standard might be different for the 2021 edition of March Madness.Although they own a losing record against Division I opponents, the Terps achieved road victories against No. 4 Illinois, No. 18 Wisconsin and No. 52 Minnesota, as well as a home win over No. 23 Purdue. The problem: Those are the Terps’ only Big Ten wins. They are 4-9 in the conference, and that has dragged them under the .500 mark overall.The Terps’ schedule has been absurdly difficult. Of their 19 D-I games, 14 were played against Quad-1 opponents. The six remaining games on their current schedule are not a breeze, but the challenge could be considered a bit more manageable. The average NET ranking of those opponents is 69th, compared with 18th over their first 13 Big Ten games. If they were to go 4-2 in that stretch and finish 13-12, would they be deserving of an at-large bid?“That’s a great question that I’ve thought a lot about,” Tim Krueger, bracket analyst for The Athletic, told Sporting News.
“Every time you write Maryland off, they come up with another win. And then every time you think this one will put them over, they lose. I guess that’s what bubble teams do, right? Their resume is pretty good. It’s not bad.“There’s a handful of 9-8 teams, and I just didn’t feel comfortable putting them in until they got another win. My thinking has been that there’s enough other choices that have quality wins. My bracket is scattered with them.“If there’s not enough choices, then yeah, they may look at something like that.”

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Posted on 10:46 pm

Australian Open sees some shocks as Djokovic scrapes through

It took some time to arrive, but now that it’s here, the 2021 Australian Open is the first tennis Grand Slam of the year and the action has begun Down Under.  With Serbian sledger Novak Djokovic the favourite in the Men’s Singles, we’ve taken a look at the routes to the final and how the opening matches can guide us towards making the right bets.  Big Names Survive Scares in Early Rounds  Rafael Nadal may have made light work of the opening round match he had against Serbian player Laslo Djere, but the ease with which the Majorcan made the 2nd round wasn’t shared by some others.  Nadal won 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 to advance in style, and he was joined in Round 2 by Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, both Russians advancing without worry, but elsewhere, big names either clung onto their next round berth or were eliminated.  David Goffin was beaten in five sets by homegrown Aussie wildcard Alexei Popyrin, while 12th seed Roberto Bautista Agut couldn’t put a Spanish flag in sight of the win as he went down in four sets despite leading to Moldovan outsider Radu Albot.  Swiss star Stan Wawrinka lost in five sets too, shot down 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (11-9) by gutsy opponent from Hungary Marton Fucsovics. The same fate nearly befell Novak Djokovic, whose match against the American Frances Tiafoe went this way and that before seeing the world number one progress in four sets.  Kyrgios the Star of the Show  There was no doubt who the crowds who were allowed into the Melbourne Arena were there to see, with Nick Kyrgios, ranked 47th in the world, took on French 29th seed Ugo Humbert.  In a rollercoaster tie, Kyrgios lost the first set, smashed his racquet to receive a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, moaned about net cords and grumbled his way through five sets.  He also saved four match points during the fourth set, rallied with some amazing winners and eventually, stunningly, outlasted Humbert to triumph 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 in a shade under four hours.  Kyrgios was great to watch in the post-match interview instead:  Impossible to fully dislike, the crowd (and likely Kyrgios) really will go wild in the next round as the brattish Aussie will take on reigning U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem, who Kyrgios compared to ‘watching paint dry’ when sharing some time inspired by red wine with Andy Murray in a live Q&A during the original pandemic lockdown.  Thiem taking on home-boy Kyrgios? Like oh-so-many sewing enthusiasts, we’re here for that kind of needle.  Current Australian Open Odds (via Oddschecker):  Novak Djokovic – 6/5  Daniil Medvedev – 4/1  Rafael Nadal – 8/1  Dominic Thiem – 9/1  Stefanos Tsitsipas – 14/1  Alexander Zverev – 20/1  Andrey Rublev – 27/1  Alex De Minaur – 50/1  Nick Kyrgios – 50/1  

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Posted on 10:41 pm

Kirk Cousins Should Want Out of Minnesota, by Russell Wilson’s Logic

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has been under persistent duress since he arrived the franchise in 2018. The team is 25-22-1 (.531) during Cousins’ tenure with one playoff victory and two underwhelming campaigns.
In the face of a shaky pass-protecting offensive line, Cousins has delivered 91 touchdown passes – the fifth-most in the NFL during the last three years. There is no way to determine how many more the 32-year-old would toss with an average or good offensive line, but it would undeniably be more.
Cousins isn’t the league’s only passer that is frequently besieged by defenders. Other oft-sacked quarterbacks include Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan. Yet, none of those men are thrown to the ground as often as Russell Wilson. The Seattle Seahawks signal-caller has been sacked 394 times during his career – more than any player in the NFL since 2012.
Wilson sounded off this week with resentments about the tendency.

Russell Wilson to reporters today: “I love playing for Seattle. Loved it for years. You just never want to get hit. I’ve been sacked almost 400 times. We’ve got to get better. I’ve got to get better. … I’m frustrated with getting hit too much.”
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) February 9, 2021

In reality, this is probably a diplomacy tactic to force Seattle’s hand in obtaining better offensive line personnel. The franchise notoriously skimps with offensive-line spending. But Wilson went on to leave questions about trading him unanswered and vague. He parked the matter back at the doorstep of Seattle’s management.
If Wilson is frustrated and open to a change of scenery, Kirk Cousins could hop right on this bandwagon with ease. Although, it is unlikely that Cousins would cause a fuss.

The Sacks
In his three years with Minnesota, Cousins has been sacked 107 times – the fifth-most leaguewide. The aforementioned Watson (155), Wilson (146), Ryan (131), and Wentz (118) are the only players to encounter more sacks than Cousins.
So, there’s a paradox. Cousins provides the fifth-most touchdown passes while getting sacked the fifth-most often. It’s rather odd.
Indeed, some accountability for sacks can be sent in the direction of quarterbacks, as holding onto the football too long is problematic. But on the whole, the culprit with this sacks stat-metric is the quarterback’s offensive line. The Texans are infamous for a shoddy offensive line. So are the Seahawks. The Vikings obviously eternally live in this category. Remember the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles – trashy offensive line.
There is a theme here. Quarterbacks that get sacked ad nauseam all seem to be discontented with their current situation — or they are the topic of trade rumors. Scroll up and re-read those names.

The Bottom-Tier Pass Protection
This tweet became a VikingsTerritory staple because it is so damning.

Vikings team pass block grade and rank since 2014:
2014: 72.4 (23rd)2015: 67.9 (28th)2016: 64.7 (30th)2017: 71.9 (17th)2018: 63.6 (27th)2019: 63.0 (27th)2020: 55.5 (29th)
😬 #Skol

— PFF MIN Vikings (@PFF_Vikings) January 14, 2021

In a nutshell of indictment, this stat defines the Vikings longstanding woes in the offensive trenches. The team run-blocks quite well, but the pass protection is nauseating. And it’s been that way from the day Mike Zimmer was hired. It popped up and gave a halfway decent performance in 2017 – and the team only reach the NFC Championship as a result. Actions have consequences. In this case, the consequence was delightful.
Cousins should not want to play for a team that showcases a bad pass-protecting offensive line every damn year. If Wilson or Watson miraculously played in Minnesota, they would voice similar frustration – just as they are doing in Seattle and Houston.
Watson has never vocally finger-pointed at his offensive line, but he made it crystal-clear in the last month that he wants the hell of Houston. And now he’s on the trade block. Perhaps a brawny offensive line could have changed Watson’s mood. It seems too late for that now, though.
No Such Musings from Cousins
Cousins is not a prima donna. Hence, he has not forced his way out of Minnesota. Instead, the team has members of its fanbase that outlandishly disregard the offensive line woes when evaluating Cousins’ production – and point to Cousins personally as the problem. Bizarre.
He is producing 30 touchdowns per season with the NFL’s fourth-worst offensive line via pass protection. Wilson and Watson don’t stand for it – each man is effectuating change albeit with different methods.
Cousins is content. He said last week that he wants to finish his career with the Vikings. Yet, if he emulated the attitude of Wilson and Watson based on like-minded offensive line situations, he’d want out.
Don’t necessarily “count your blessings” because maybe it is Wilson and Watson that are too critical. Maybe not. Is every good quarterback deserving of an at-least-average offensive line? If so, not Wilson, Watson, nor Cousins are not experiencing it.

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Posted on 10:16 pm

Vincent Kompany hails tough as iron Cullen 

Vincent Kompany hails tough as iron Cullen: The Man City legend has been full of praise for the Irishman since his arrival at Anderlecht.
Former Hammer Josh Cullen has come on leaps and bounds since his arrival at Anderlecht. The former Belgian giants both domestically and in Europe have benefited from the midfielder’s energetic enthusiasm.
Anderlecht is currently in 4th place in the Belgian Pro League chasing a Europa League spot. Manager Vincent Kompany has built a young team in the Belgian capital with an average age of 23.
He has hailed Cullen as being a central figure in the team’s greater pursuits this season. 
“He never wins the man-of-the-match award, but he’s one of the most popular guys in the squad,”

Cullen spent nearly 15 years at West Ham before a loan spell to Charlton in league one garnered widespread attention. The Irishman was one of the central figures at the Addicts, leading them to the Championship via the playoffs.
Upon returning to West Ham after two years at Charlton, he was determined to make it in the Premier League. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be as he moved to Belgium to work under one of Man City’s greatest ever defenders. 
“To come and learn from him every day, you just need to be like a sponge and soak it all up. It’s something I’m really enjoying.”

Pursuing World Cup qualifiers 
Cullen’s performances at Anderlecht have led to 4 international caps and regular call ups with Ireland. Since being bought by Anderlecht in October of last year, he has made over 15 appearances, performing brilliantly. In Cullen’s last appearance before a minor ankle injury, Kompany was full of praise for his toughness.
“Against Genk, for example, he hit his head, and they put a bandage on him. Because I know he is of Irish descent and tough as iron, I slapped him on his bandage and said with a laugh, ‘Are you okay? Come on, run then, and stop making excuses.”
After a fortnight out injured, he returned to the starting eleven in Anderlecht’s 2-1 win over champions Genk on Sunday. The Irishman is aiming to make the squad now for Irelands World Cup qualifiers in March. Stephen Kenny’s side will take on Serbia and Luxemburg in their opening games.

Read our other articles on everything sport, keeping you up to date at Sports News Ireland.
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Posted on 9:36 pm

When Kelly Pavlik became king

Thirteen years ago, Pavlik climbed off
the canvas to dethrone Jermain Taylor in one of the most exciting middleweight title fights ever. By
ON September 29, 2007, Kelly Pavlik challenged Jermain Taylor at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City for the middleweight championship of the world.

Pavlik was born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1982. His father, Mike, was a steelworker who left the mills to take a job as an insurance agent. His mother, Debbie, was a cook at Hardee’s, an American fast-food restaurant chain.

Kelly compiled an amateur record of 89 wins against 9 losses. He worked odd jobs to get the money to go to tournaments. More often than he cares to remember, he was removing dirty dishes from tables in a Youngstown restaurant when his high school classmates came in for something to eat after a school dance.

Pavlik turned pro in 2000. He had a thin muscular body and knew one way to fight: a crowd-pleasing style of go forward, punching. But a fighter’s career moves slowly and Kelly was hampered by problems with a tendon in his right hand. To supplement his income, he washed dishes and took other jobs. Until early 2007, he did occasional landscape work for ten dollars an hour to help make ends meet.

On May 19, 2007, Pavlik’s life changed. He knocked out highly-touted Edison Miranda in seven rounds. That performance silenced a lot of doubters. Suddenly, Kelly was no longer a protected white kid. He was a 31-and-0 fighter with 28 knockouts and the mandatory challenger for middleweight champion Jermain Taylor.

Taylor had won a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics and turned pro under the aegis of promoter Lou DiBella. Pat Burns, a former Miami cop with an extensive amateur coaching background, was brought in to train him. Under Burns’s tutelage, Jermain won his first 23 pro fights. Then, on July 16, 2005, he eked out a narrow split decision over Bernard Hopkins to claim the undisputed middleweight championship of the world.

There was a parade in Taylor’s hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas, to celebrate his triumph. Thousands of fans attended a rally at the end of the route. “That was the best feeling I ever had,” Jermain said afterward. “It was amazing that all those people came out just for me.” Then came a trip to New York for a meeting with fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton. “Anywhere I go,” Jermain said, “restaurants, clubs, wherever; they don’t charge me. Of course, when I was broke and needed it, no one gave me anything for free.”

On December 3, 2005, Taylor decisioned Hopkins in a rematch. He seemed poised for superstardom. But a corrosive factor was at work. Taylor had grown up without a father. And a Little Rock resident named Ozell Nelson had filled the void, playing a pivotal role in Jermain’s early life. He’d even taught him the rudiments of boxing. Now Nelson and Pat Burns weren’t getting along.

After Taylor won his rematch against Hopkins, there was sniping that Burns had a “white slave-master mentality” and wasn’t a top-notch trainer despite his having overseen Jermain’s transformation from a raw amateur to middleweight champion of the world. There was a lot of money to be made off Taylor now that he was a champion, particularly if Burns’ salary were to become available for redistribution. Taylor owed much of his success as a fighter to Burns. But in his mind, Nelson had saved his life. After the second Taylor-Hopkins fight, Burns was replaced by Emanuel Steward.

Chris Farina/Top Rank

Steward was a legendary trainer and deservedly so. One doesn’t have to debate the issue of whether he was a better trainer than Burns. It’s enough to say that Burns was a better trainer for Taylor.

Steward brought Taylor to the Kronk Gym in Detroit to train and introduced him to a lifestyle that wasn’t a good fit. Nelson was given an expanded role in training camp. Jermain’s next three performances reflected Burns’ absence. He fought without his usual fire against Winky Wright and salvaged a draw. Lackluster victories over Kassim Ouma and Cory Spinks followed. As he readied to face Pavlik, his record stood at 27-0-1 with 17 knockouts. But he was a vulnerable champion.

A logical case could be made for victory by either fighter. Taylor was undefeated in seven fights against present or former world champions. He would have an edge in hand-speed over Pavlik. Also, Kelly didn’t move his head enough and had a tendency to bring his left hand back low after throwing his jab. Against Miranda, Kelly had showed he could take a punch. But could he take jab after jab and combinations?

Moreover, Jermain had fought through adversity. He’d suffered a bad scalp wound in his first fight against Hopkins. His left eye had been shut by Winky Wright. Each time, he’d emerged with the crown. His will was strong. He’d gone twelve rounds seven times. By contrast, Pavlik had gone nine rounds once. Kelly had never heard the ring announcer say “round ten . . . round eleven . . . round twelve.”

But the case for a Pavlik victory was equally strong. Kelly had a solid chin and power in both hands. He was expected to hit Taylor harder than Jermain had ever been hit.

Meanwhile, Pavlik’s hometown of Youngstown was squarely behind him. Once, Youngstown had been at the center of steel production in the United States. But the local economy had soured in the 1970s. Steel mills closed; factories shut down. The city had never recovered.

Now Youngstown had a hero to root for, a reason to feel good about itself. And the entire state of Ohio embraced Kelly. One day before Taylor-Pavlik, the boardwalk in Atlantic City was a sea of scarlet, grey, and white (the uniform colors for Ohio State, one of the nation’s top college football teams). Interest in the fight was so intense that General Motors planned to shut down the late shift at its plant in Lordstown (near Youngstown) on Saturday night because so many of its workers planned to stay home and watch the fight.

Pavlik entered his dressing room in Boardwalk Hall on fight night at 8:34 PM. He was wearing a gray warm-up suit with a scarlet stripe down each leg and white piping. Mike Pavlik, trainer Jack Loew, manager Cameron Duncan, Michael Cox (a Youngstown policeman), Jack’s son (John), and Kelly’s oldest brother (Mike Jnr) were with him. Cutman Miguel Diaz, who had worked Kelly’s corner since his first pro fight, was already there.

Loew was the only trainer that Pavlik had ever had. When Kelly was nine, he began learning the rudiments of boxing under Jack’s tutelage at the Southside Boxing Club – a converted pizza joint in Youngstown. Loew was also the owner and sole employee of a company called The Driveway Kings. He sealed asphalt driveways for a living. One week before Taylor-Pavlik, he was sealing driveways in the morning before going to the gym.As Pavlik settled in the dressing room, the preliminary fights were underway. In the first bout of the evening, Ray Smith (one of Taylor’s sparring partners from Little Rock) had been knocked out by Richard Pierson (a Pavlik sparring partner). Then heavyweight Terry Smith (also from Little Rock) lost a six-round decision to Robert Hawkins.

“I got good news for you,” Diaz told Kelly. “Both of Jermain’s Taylor’s guys lost.”

The dressing room had seen better days. The industrial carpet was worn and the vinyl-topped rubdown table was scarred with discolored tape covering multiple gashes.

Referee Steve Smoger entered and gave Pavlik his final pre-fight instructions. Dr. Sherry Wulkan of the New Jersey Board of Athletic Control administered a final pre-fight physical. When they were done, Kelly yawned. Then he began text-messaging friends.

“Oklahoma [one of the top college football teams in the nation] got beat pretty good today,” Jack Loew said.

“Texas too,” Mike Pavlik added.

Mike pointed toward a television monitor by the door. “Too bad we can’t get Ohio State on that thing.”

Kelly stopped text-messaging long enough to pull up some college football scores. “Ohio State is losing to Minnesota,” he said.

“What?” his father uttered in disbelief.

Kelly smiled. “Just kidding. The Buckeyes are up 14-0; 7:22 left in the second quarter.”

He put down his cell phone and stretched out his legs on a folding chair in front of him.

Larry Merchant of HBO came in for a brief pre-fight interview. “I’ve waited for this for seven years,” Pavlik told him. “I just want to get in there and let my hands go. He’ll have to keep up with me.”

At 9:41, Kelly lay down on the carpet and began a series of stretching exercises. Ten minutes later, he stood up. “Time to put my soldier gear on,” he said. Shoes first. Then his trunks; grey with red, white, and blue trim.

When a fighter gets to the championship level, his dressing room reflects his preferences. Pavlik preferred low-key and quiet. The conversation around the room was casual, what one might expect to hear in the gym before a sparring session.

Loew began wrapping Kelly’s hands. Throughout training, the muscles in the fighter’s back had been tighter than he would have liked. Now, as Loew wrapped, Mike Pavlik massaged his son’s back and shoulders.

Mike had been a constant presence in Atlantic City. Broad-shouldered with a shaved head, he looked as though he could bench-press the Rock of Gibralter. He was enjoying the journey and, at the same time, looking after his son.

The odds had been virtually even in the days leading up to the fight with the “smart” money on Taylor and the Youngstown money on Pavlik. In the past twenty-four hours, the professional money had come in, making Jermain an 8-to-5 favorite.

At 10:17, the taping was done. “How are we doing?” Mike Pavlik asked.

“I’m very very confident,” Loew told him. “Nothing to do for this boy anymore but let him fight.”

Kelly gloved up and began hitting the pads with his trainer. “Stay behind the jab,” Loew instructed. “Jab, right, jab, right.”Each time, the follow right was a bit off target.

“Stay behind the jab and relax . . . There. That’s it. Double jab. Now let it go.”

The punches began landing with explosive power. When the pad-work was done, Kelly alternated between pacing back and forth and shadow-boxing.

Miguel Diaz put Vaseline on Kelly’s face.

The fighter hit the pads with Loew one last time.

“That’s it . . . Wow . . . Nice and easy . . . Push him back with that big long jab. Double it up . . . There you go. Back him up and you win.”

An HBO production coordinator came into the room. “Two minutes and you walk.”

Kelly stood up and moved toward the door. There had been no music, no one shouting “You da man!” Just quiet confidence and calm. Michael Cox checked his cell phone one last time. “The [Ohio State] Buckeyes won 30 to 7,” he announced. Mike Pavlik put an arm on Kelly’s shoulder. “All that work, all those years; it comes together now,” he told his son. “You were born to be here tonight.”

Youngstown was in the house. That was clear as the fighters made their way to the ring. The crowd made it sound as though the bout was being fought in Ohio. There was a thunderous roar for Pavlik and loud boos for Taylor.

Taylor came out aggressively in round one, going right after Pavlik. He was quicker than the challenger and his hands were faster. All three judges gave him the round. When the stanza was over, Jack Loew told Kelly, “Control the pace. Be patient. Stay behind the jab. It’s a basic fight.”

Round two began with more of the same. “I was surprised,” Pavlik said later. “I thought he’d try to box me more, but he came to fight. He has hand-speed and he can punch.”

Definitely, he can punch. Midway through round two, Taylor timed a right hand over a sloppy Pavlik jab. The blow landed high on the challenger’s head. Pavlik staggered backward, and the champion followed with a 15-punch barrage that put Kelly down.

“I was scared to death,” Mike Pavlik admitted later. “That’s the worst feeling I’ve ever had in my life. I wouldn’t have cared if the referee had stopped it. To be honest; I was hoping it was over.”

“The first thing that went through my mind,” Kelly said in his dressing room after the fight, “was, ‘Oh, shit.’ But I heard the count. I was aware at all times. I told myself, ‘Get up; get through this.’”

Pavlik rose at the count of two, but there were 88 seconds left in the round. “I was shaky,” he admitted. “That right hand hurt. I’ve been knocked down before but there was never a buzz. It had always been a balance thing. This time, there was a tingle and my legs weren’t so good. I did what I could to survive. He hit me with some more hard shots, but I got through the round. Some guys quit when they get knocked down, and some get back up.”

There comes a time when a fighter has to dig deep within himself by himself. In the corner after round two, Kelly managed a weak smile. “I’m okay,” he told Loew. But he was bleeding from the nose and mouth.

“Stay on that double f***ing jab,” Loew ordered. “There’s a lot of time left. You have 10 more rounds to do your job.” Then, incredibly, Pavlik won round three. The punches that Taylor had thrown in the second round seemed to have taken more out of the champion than the challenger. Jermain paced himself in the stanza rather than following up on his advantage. Pavlik threw 99 punches over the three-minute period, earning the nod on each judge’s scorecard.

The die was cast. Taylor was faster. He was ahead on points throughout the bout. But inexorably, Pavlik was walking him down with non-stop aggression behind a strong double jab. More and more often, the champion found himself having to punch his way out of a corner. When the fight moved inside and one of the challenger’s hands was tied up, Kelly fought with the other rather than clinch. He made Jermain fight every second of every round.

“Jermain has a chin,” Pavlik acknowledged afterward. “I hit him with some punches, flush, right on the button early, and he didn’t budge. But then he started to wear down. In the fifth round, I thought I hurt him a bit against the ropes. But he came back with a right hand that came close to putting me in trouble again, so I reminded myself to be careful. In the seventh round, I hit him with another good right hand and his reaction was different. I saw his shoulders sag. There was that little buckle in his knees and I knew I had him.”

When the right hand that Pavlik was referring to landed, Taylor backed into a corner again. Kelly followed with a barrage of punches. “Jermain went limp,” referee Steve Smoger said later. “He was totally gone, helpless.”

Al Bello/Getty Images

Smoger stepped between the fighters. Two minutes and fourteen seconds into round seven, Kelly Pavlik was the new middleweight champion of the world. Taylor was ahead at the time of the stoppage 59-54, 58-55, 58-55 on the judges’ scorecards.

When Pavlik returned to Youngstown after the victory, a caravan of police cars and fire trucks met his SUV at the Ohio border to escort him home. And the perks kept coming. He was even the subject of a resolution passed by the United States House of Representatives praising him for his commitment and continuing loyalty to the Youngstown community.

But all good things come to an end. And in boxing, they tend to end sooner rather than later. Pavlik won a clear-cut decision in a rematch against Taylor. Then, after a successful title defense against Gary Lockett, he went up in weight and was outpointed by Bernard Hopkins. He returned to 160 pounds with knockout victories over Marco Antonio Rubio and Miguel Angel Espino. But on April 17, 2010, he lost his crown by decision to Sergio Martinez. Problems with alcohol and several stints in rehab followed. He retired from the ring in 2012 with a 40-2 (34 KOs) ledger.

“The main thing,” Kelly said later, looking back on it all, “is I won the world title. That’s something nobody can ever take from me.”

Thomas Hauser’s latest book – Staredown: Another Year Inside Boxing – is published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honoured Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. He will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame with the Class of 2020.

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