Grant Rants

Archive for the ‘boxing’ Category

Boxing round up: fights and predicitions

- July 26th, 2013

Greetings fight fans!

It’s a busy week in the newsroom, so lets just dive right in and look at some up and coming big fights.

1) Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. (Sept 14)

Regarded as perhaps the biggest fight that can be made right now, Mayweather vs. Alvarez  pits two undefeated champions against each other. There is a lot of hype surrounding this one and Alvarez is regarded by many as the first legitimate threat the pound-for-pound king has faced in a long time. Plus he is young, powerful and aggressive.

While there is no denying Alvarez is a fantastic fighter, Mayweather is an elite boxer nearly in a class by himself.  A defensive genius who has a knack for making the most talented fighter look ordinary, Mayweather is simply too skilled for the likes of Alvarez, who for all his ability is there to be hit. If plucky Alfonso Gomez of Contender fame can get to Alvarez (a fight that Alvarez won, the result of what I thought was a premature stoppage), you can bet Mayweather will. He will be able to pick Alvarez apart. Perhaps not as easy as he did the hapless Robert Guerrero, who seemed to want to use his fight with Mayweather as a soap box for his brand of evangelical Christianity, but I think he can do it.

Alvarez will need a steady, effective jab – the one punch that seems to fluster and annoy Mayweather – and take every advantage and attack intelligently when Mayweather retreats to the ropes (rather than fail away at him like just about every other fighter does when Mayweather puts his back on the ropes.) He has the punching power to hurt Mayweather, but he seems too predictable and easy for Floyd to figure out.

Given Mayweather’s ability to shut down most of his opponents ‘ offense, don’t expect an action packed fight.

Prediction: Mayweather by 12 round decision.

2) Manny Pacquiao vs Brando Rios. November 23

This is likely to be one hell of a slug fest. Both men are aggressive, offensive minded fighters, like the throw punches and get a thrill of being involved in ripping exchanges in the middle of the ring. They love fighting. However this plays out, someone is likely to go to sleep.

Rios is coming off a decision loss to Mike Alvarado, who outboxed him to win a close 12 round decision. It exposed, in my mind, the rather one dimensional nature of Rios. He comes forward, throws lots of punches and works to blast his opponent out of there. But against a moving target that can punch back he doesn’t do all that well.

Pacquaio is a puncher, but he isn’t just a come forward puncher like Rios (or even Alvarez for that matter). He attacks from weird angles using incredible footwork, turning his opponent and putting him out of position. He gets around even the tightest defenses and can knock you out, or at least badly hurt you with either hand. Fighters who stand in front of Pacquiao get hurt, often badly. He has the most trouble good movers and counter punchers al la Marquez.  Even Marquez, who knows the Pacman’s fighting style inside out after four fights, absorbs some awful punishment each time out.

Rios is a come forward, flat footed brawler. Do the math.

Both guys are coming off of losses. Rios to Alvarado and Pacquiao to Marquez, who knocked Pacman out dramatically after nearly losing complete control of the fight. All eyes are on Pacquiao, with many writers wondering how much of the Pacman survived that knockout. Rios is the ideal comeback fight for Pacquiao. Rios is a legitimate and dangerous fighter, but one who (on paper at least) is tailor-made for Pacquiao. A loss to Rios would likely mean the end of Pacquiao’s career.

Prediction: Pacquiao wins by stoppage in the middle rounds.

3) Tim Bradley vs. Juan Marquez. October 12

On paper this should be a super fight, the kind of bout boxing fans drool over. After all, it is a showdown between the two men who dethroned Manny Pacquiao.

In the case of Marquez, it’s absolutely true. In his last fight, despite being subject to a barrage of Pacman power punches that was starting to reconfigure in his face, he wily enough and calm enough to weather the storm, capitalize on a Pacquiao mistake and put his opponent to sleep. It was as terrifying and epic as any knockout I have ever seen.

Marquez is perhaps the smartest boxer in the sport. Mayweather might be the most physically gifted, but Marquez is the sport’s professor. And he is tough as nails. If he can stand up under the unholy pressure Pacquiao brings to the ring, it is hard to see Bradley as much of a threat.

As for Bradley…like many boxing fans my reaction is one of “ugh.” He is a sloppy puncher who flings his arms forward like a windmill, often slaps instead of punching clean, plunges forward with his boney head and generally produces ugly fights. He was taken to school by Pacquaio when they met to such a degree that even Ray Charles would have known who won the fight. Yet, in one of the worst decisions in boxing history, the judges ignore what actually happened in the ring and gave the fight to Bradley. So yes, on paper, Bradley has a win over Pacquaio. But everyone knows who really won that fight.

That said, Bradley did earn his championship stripes in his last fight against power puncher Ruslan Provodnkiov (who is scheduled to fight Alvarado on Oct. 19). Provodnkiov appeared to hurt Bradley in nearly every round and, much to the surprise of many, Bradley hung in and out boxed his opponent to grab a decision win. He showed he had mettle and the heart of a champion during that fight.

Nevertheless, unless the 40-year-old Marquez finally turns into Dorian Grey before our eyes, it is hard to see how Bradley wins.

Prediction: Marquez by decision.

Sometimes a boxing glove is just a boxing glove

- June 14th, 2013

Greetings web denizens, heathens, zealots and the rest of you!

Sometimes a cigar, as the famous German once said, is just a cigar. But that doesn’t stop some people seeing a pumpkin dressed as Johnny Depp instead.

Confused? Now you know how I felt when I read a recent piece about last year’s charity boxing match between now Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and then Conservative senator Patrick Brazeau in the StarPhoenix newspaer .

By way of background, the pair squared off for an amateur boxing gala event to raise money for a cancer charity. Although neither is what you could call a polished fighter, it was a scrappy, entertaining event in which Brazeau was was stopped in the 3rd round.AG2_7996cr

According to the StarPhenix story, which turns on interpretation of the fight by Kim Anderson, an indigenous studies professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, the fight wasn’t about charity, fighting cancer, or two politicians using their national profile for a good cause. It was about racial subjugation. In this case the white “gentlemen” beating the “savage” first nations man. It was little more, in Anderson’s view, than a reflection of deeply ingrained white Canadian fear and hatred of aboriginal people.

To which I call shenanigans. I have no idea what Anderson’s credentials are, but I am going to assume she is a smart and capable woman. But based on the article, I am also going to assume she knows next to nothing about boxing, less about politicians and has a very narrow view of race relations in Canada.

Anderson starts off her “critique” by telling us that politicians shouldn’t box:

Anderson became interested in last year’s Trudeau-Brazeau charity boxing bout as it became popular in the news. She was intrigued by the consensus that it was a great event for a good cause.

“It just seemed ridiculous to me,” she said.”Since when is this a model for governance? Since when is this a model for what we want to see in leadership?”

Yah, because a charity boxing match to raise money for cancer research is all about governance. The fact is that some politicians have broad appeal and a national profile that is not used nearly enough for good causes. Both men used their names to put butts into seats to watch the match and by doing so, raised money to help those suffering from cancer. Whether someone bought a ticket to see Trudeau get beaten or to see the Tory senator kiss canvas didn’t matter. They bought their tickets to help their fellow citizens. That is a good thing.

If anyone looked at the charity about as a “model for governance” they have completely missed the point. Anderson’s dislike of boxing is evident and, I think, coloured her view of the entire event.

Anderson then goes on to tell us that, although no one was demeaning Brazeau because of his ethnic heritage or holding up Trudeau as a great white hope, the event was dripping with racism, even if no one in the news media expressed a racist thought, or no one in the audience was thinking about race at all:

…there were racial implications nobody was talking about, Anderson said.

“In the mainstream news, you’re not going to see people coming up with their critical race theory. But I was surprised there was none of that.”

The Canadian colonist narrative shows the indigenous person as “uncivilized … just this kind of brute, and that the gentleman defines himself by going to that frontier, taking on the brute, subjugating him,” she said.

That means either civilizing him or coming to blows- as happened in this case.

“He defines his own masculinity and also right to dominate by doing it, because the guy on the other side is this physical presence that also poses a threat to the civilized world,” Anderson said.

Even if people didn’t think to make that literal connection, Anderson sees a problem.

So apparently we thought of Brazeau as a savage brute to be beaten back to protect civilization even if we didn’t think that at all. Way to go Canadians, you racist bunch of back-bacon eating, imperialist jerks.

Anderson has missed the point ENTIRELY. It is very and sadly true to say we still have racism in Canada. We still have not resolved centuries old issues with our First Nations brothers and sisters. As I have written about before, the relationship between the First Nations and the rest of Canada remains a national black eye that we time and again fail to properly and honourably address.

But that doesn’t mean every interaction between white Canadians and native Canadians is defined by our sometimes ugly history. In fact, that race simply was not even a consideration for the boxing charity is a good thing and the absence of racism shows we saw the two fighters as men, not as proxies for racial conflict.AG2_8045cr

In fact, there was a media narrative about the fight, but it had nothing to do with race. Brazeau was the heavy favoured by most Canadian news reporters because they knew less than nothing about boxing and because they though the political allegiance of the fighters would tell us how they would box. So Brazeau was favoured to win because he was a Tory. The Conservative are the tough party, the party of the blue collar workers and friends of the police and military. This meant, according to some dullstone newspaper reports, that the senator would beat the Liberal MP because the Liberals were  portrayed as soft and weak and afraid to fight.

It was all ridiculous. Just as their ethnic heritage had nothing to do with their boxing skills, their politics said nothing about their pugilistic abilities. In fact, anyone who knew even a little about boxing would not have favoured Brazeau to win. The senator had done some martial arts, but hadn’t any ring experience. Trudeau on the other hand had been in many a boxing gym, having been introduced to the sport as a boy by his father. Trudeau knew how to box. Brazeau did not. That was pretty much all you needed to know.

As I had expected, Trudeau handily won, and the media reacted with shock. The wimpy underdog Liberal had beaten the tough Tory!

Anderson either was unaware of all this very public talk about the boxing match, or simply refused to acknowledge it when passing judgement on the fight and the country as a whole.  She failed to see two men trying to do a good thing for their country and that the pre and post fight narrative was not about race but about politics.

We actually need academics in this country to research and point out where we, as a society, can do things better. But evidence matters, facts matter, and imposing a racist overlay on an event that manifestly had nothing to do with race is not just inaccurate it’s irresponsible and divisive.

Sometimes a boxing glove is just a boxing glove.

Lennox Lewis on Mayweather vs. Guerrero

- May 2nd, 2013

Greetings fight fans!

One of the amazing things about being a reporter is that, on occasion, one gets to interview people you admire. Such was the for me last week when I did a telephone interview with former heavyweight champion (in my view, the last great heavyweight champ) Lennox Lewis.

The primary reason for talking to Lewis is because he, along with a St. Catharines surgeon, is receiving an award next week for charity work they do in the southern hemisphere. (That story will appear in the Standard next week.)

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Lennox Lewis

But it would be impossible not to interview about the former Canadian Olympic gold medalist without talking some boxing.

Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. is returning to the ring this Saturday against Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero in Vegas.  I asked Lewis who he thinks is the favorite to win.

“Oh Mayweather, definitely Floyd,” Lewis said in an interview from Jamaica. “He is just too skilled for Guerrero.”

The expectation in the boxing press is that Guerrero won’t be ghostly at all, but will try to stay in Mayweather’s face all night, rough him up, and turn the bout into an ugly war of attrition like he did against Andre Berto.  Lewis, however, believes that Guerrero won’t be able to keep pace with with the slick Mayweather, a defensive genius who has not lost in more than 40 professional fights.

“It’s like a dance,” Lewis says. “If you are going to dance with someone, you have to keep up with them. You have to dance with them. That is what Guerrero has to do, but I don’t know if he can do it.”

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Robert Guerrero

I will be at Shoesless Joe’s at the Fairview Mall Saturday night to watch the Mayweather vs. Geurrero fight, which is being broadcast by

Showtime. Come on to talk boxing with other fight fans and see a great fight.

 

Local boxing coach going to sports hall of fame

- April 30th, 2013

Greetings fight fans!

Of all the sports I have ever been involved in, nothing approaches the visceral power of boxing. It is unique. What it demands of the will, what personal resources it calls upon, what it feels like, is unlike any other sport.

Unlike more popular sports like hockey and football, as it is often pointed out, the fighter is alone in the ring. Victory or defeat is up to you and you alone. No teammates can rescue you, there is no one else to blame if things go wrong other than you.

However, that doesn’t mean the fighter is isolated completely. In the 60 seconds between rounds, he gets to confer with his chief second, his corner man, who acts as medic,  strategist, counselor and life preserver.  In the few moments you have to catch your breath, your corner man will seal your cuts, straighten your broken nose, clean the blood from your face and advise you for the next round. The best corner men know exactly what to say and how to say it, grab any panic or doubt in your mind and cast it out.

During the first two fights  for the St. Catharines boxing club, my chief second was Keith Murphy. He was also my trainer for those fights. In our first outing, he was the calm voice in the corner that kept me focused on the task at hand and we did really well. In the second fight, I did not do nearly as well. My nose was broken during the second round in a fight I was losing badly. Keith keep me going so I could go out on my shield, finishing the fight stronger than I started it.

For years Murphy, who once had a small part as a corner man in the movie Cinderella Man, has been a fixture in local boxing. Training fighters young and old with a perfect mixture of patience and stridency. He, along with club manager Joe Corrigan, have raised a generation of St. Catharines boxers, often giving young boy and girls who would otherwise find themselves in trouble and outlet, a home and a haven in their gym. Writing about them in 2004, I described the pair as “Corrigan, a mountainous man with a ringmaster’s voice, and the slender, fast-talking Murphy have spent their lives immersed in boxing. The job of training their stable of fighters is unpaid and often thankless, but to walk away from the sport would be like slicing away a limb. ”

Keith will always been a integral part of the make up of any fighter that Keith ever worked with and trained. The lessons he taught us will never been forgotten.

Keith is being induced into the St. Catharines sports hall of fame for his life time of dedication to local sports. Although still a fixture at the gym, Keith cannot coach any longer as he battles multiple sclerosis. But he is ever present, always keeping an eye on the fighters from ring side.

On behalf of everyone who ever laced up gloves at the St. Catharines Boxing Club: Thank you Keith.

Bernard Hopkins does it again

- March 11th, 2013

Greetings fight fans!

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Hopkins takes it to Cloud.

Just a quick bit of boxing news here. Light heavy weight legend Bernard Hopkins defied Father Time and became the oldest boxing champion in history….again.

On Saturday night, Hopkins, at 48, easily defeated IBF champion Tavoris Cloud, a man 17 years his junior.

In beating Cloud, Hopkins broke his own record. Two years ago, I covered his sensational victory over Montreal’s Jean’s Pascal to become, for the first time, the oldest legit boxing champion. You can read my coverage of that fight here.

Just goes to show you that age can be little more than a number.

 

The risks of boxing too long

- January 4th, 2013

Greetings fight freaks!

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Marquez celebrates after knocking out Pacquiao

So the ripples from the fourth Manny Pacquiao  vs. Juan Marquez fight – a dramatic, high octane rumble that saw one great champ, Marquez, knock out the other great champ, Pacquiao, in dramatic fashion – haven’t stopped.

The latest news is that two doctors — physicians who have not actually examined Pacquiao — are worried that Pacman is showing the early signs of brain damage and possibly Parkinson’s syndrome. This is based on a supposed tremor in Pacquaio’s hands that on doctor saw on TV and another claiming that Pacquiao has a minor seizure as a result of the knockout.

Pacquiao released a statement saying he is fine and the doctors’ claims without having tested him are irresponsible, which they certainly are. Doctors should know better than to offer medical advice of this sort without having actually examined a patient.

Nevertheless, it does again raise the issue of what happens when a fighter, even a great fighter, stays in the game too long.

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Muhammad Ali, once the greatest heavyweight of his era, now suffers from brain damage caused during his career.

Take the great Muhammad Ali. It’s often said in the press that he has Parkinson’s Disease. He doesn’t. He has Parkinson’s syndrome, which has many causes. In Ali’s case, it was from repeated trauma to his brain stem. No one in boxing could ever take a punch like Ali, but there is a heavy price to pay for that.

Pacquiao, 34, turned professional as a teenager has more than 60 professional fights.  His knockout defeat to Marquez last month might have been the most dramatic of his few losses, but kind of damage sustained to a fighter’s brain is not usually the result of one punch. It’s the accumulated damage over time. Pacman has fought and defeated legendary boxers, including Marquez twice, in all out wars. And that says nothing about the countless blows taken in countless rounds of sparring over his career.

No one can take that much punishment over that kind of extend period and not suffer the effects. It’s the reason why boxing is usually a young person’s sport. Modern training, medicine and luck allow some great fighters to have long careers — George Foreman became heavy weight champ at 45, Bernard Hopkins one the light heavyweight title at 47, Marquez knocked out Pacquaio at 39 and the current middle weight champ, Sergio Martinez, is 37 and regularly whups men more than a decade younger than he is. But they are the rare ones. Most boxers, even great champs, don’t last much beyond their early 30s. The years of punishment make decline inevitable at an age when athletes in other sports are still doing fine.

So what about Pacquiao? It is hard to argue based only on what we saw on television that he is in some serious decline. While his three fights he had prior  — against Tim Bradley, Shane Mosley and the 3rd match up against Marquez — were not his best performances he looked amazing in his last fight.

He was actually beating Marquez. Claims that Marquez “dominated the fight”, which you will find on some boxing blogs, are simply out of touch. Pacman threw more punches, landed more punches including crushing power shots, and his feinting and foot speed was effectively neutralizing Marquez’s vaunted counter punch combos. But his over aggressiveness against one of the best counter punchers in the sport cost him, and Marquez landed a bomb to put Pacquiao to sleep. Boxing is like that. One punch can dramatically turn the tide in a way that simply doesn’t happen in other sports. Both men knew what it would take to defeat the other and it was Marquez who managed to pull it off that night.

So on that score, if Pacquiao fights on, and shows no deterioration from the knockout, both physically and mentally, there isn’t an issue. At least not in the short term. But one does wonder given the length of his career and the volume of punches he has taken, has serious damage already been done? Should he walk away while he can?

But if we can put money issues aside — which in reality is not possible — why would Pacquiao fight on? What is left to prove? Avenge his loss? Ok, but Marquez is the one guy who seems to know how to fight Pacman the best. Pacquiao can certainly defeat Marquez, if most of the last fight is any indication. But so can Marquez defeat him, maybe once again in dramatic fashion. Or do they go another full 12, further diminishing each other physically?

How much punishment should any man take for a sport?

The punch that shocked me into silence

- December 10th, 2012

Greetings fight freaks!

I was speechless. Totally, utterly, speechless.

Watching the dramatic end of the fourth showdown between two great champions – Manny Pacquiao from the Philippines and Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico was like having the air knocking out of my lungs.

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Manny Pacquiao lands a hard right against rival Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday night.

The pair had already fought three times, each ending in a razor close decision: A draw and two wins for Pacquiao. Who was the better man has long been a source of debate, with each fighter claiming they were the rightful victor of all three fights.

The fourth bout had an air of urgency. Marquez wanted to validate his career and finally earn a win he feels the judges always cheated him of. Pacquaio, who looked less than his usual typhoon of terror in his last three fights, wanted to show he was still the Pacman of old and end his rivalry with Marquez once and for all.

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Marquez’s face shows the results of Pacquiao’s assault.

Frankly, Pacquiao looked incredible. His past fights with Marquez all followed the same pattern. Pacquiao attacks aggressively, Marquez steps back and counter punches. Neither man really able to solve the other well enough to capture a clear win.  But on Saturday, Pacquiao’s head movement and footspeed seemed to finally make it hard for the great Mexican counter puncher to time his blows. Time and again, Pacquiao was able to launch attacks and Marquez had no effective response. By the sixth round, Marquez had a broken nose, his eyes were swelling shut and he started to look like just another victim of a Pacman onslaught. Frankly by the middle of the sixth round, I thought Marquez would maybe last another two before Pacman put him away.

But Marquez is Marquez. A smart, durable fighter and a brilliant counter puncher. He had bulked up in order to punch harder and withstand the crushing force of Pacquiao’s shots. While his usual counter punch combos were not getting off, he was able to throw a powerful counter right hand in a way he had not done in the previous fights. The first one came in the 3rd when he shockingly dropped Pacquiao for the first time in their rivalry. A older Filipino woman sitting near me at Shoeless Joe’s bar at the Fairview Mall started to weep.

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Battered but not backing down, Marquez goes on the attack.

But Pacquiao got up and continued his beat down of his nemesis, even knocking Marquez down in the fifth, and seemingly taking command of the fight. But if you watched closely, there was something else happening. Every so often, Marquez would fire that counter right. Most missed, but a few landed, clearly hurting Pacquiao.

The thing about fighting a counter puncher like Marquez is that the last thing you should do if give him space to work. When Pacquiao closed in tight, feinted and attacked, Marquez was a sitting duck and ate way too many power shots. But when Pacquiao attacked from a distance, hopping in to punch, Marquez could see it coming, step back and fire off the right hand counter punch.

These shots landed infrequently, but every one was thrown with malicious intent. Surely by the start of the sixth round — with Pacquiao ahead on the score cards and having thrown and landed far more punches – a man as smart as Marquez had to know he as in deep trouble.  He was hurt. He was bleeding. He was weakening. He had to know he needed to do something dramatic or face being put to sleep.

That something came right as the bell for the end of the sixth round rang. Pacquiao, no doubt sensing how much trouble he had his rival in, launching one of those hopping attacks, throwing a stiff right hand lead. Although backed up against corner, Marquez had just enough room to step back and fire his own right.

And then all the air left my lungs. The great champion was out.

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Marquez celebrates after Pacman goes to sleep.

Pacquiao never saw the punch coming. And the ones you don’t see are always the ones that do the most damage. He was unconscious before he hit the mat. It was as devastating a knockout as I have ever seen. By being a little too aggressive, a little too impatient, a little too confident, Pacquiao opened himself up to the only weapon Marquez really had left. And it cost him.

What happens now? Given how dominate Pacquiao was up to the knockout, there is already talk of a 5th fight. The fourth sold very well and was more dramatic than the previous three fights. A 5th might do very well – could Pacman correct his mistake without sacrificing his aggressive assault that did so much damage to Marquez? Could Marquez adjust to Pacquiao’s renewed aggressiveness and improved style?

Of course, if you are Marquez, knowing the kind of pounding you took prior to landing that incredible shot, would you be willing, at age 39, to get back in the ring with Pacquiao? From a common sense point of view, he has nothing to prove. He won. He carved out a victory from what looked like an inevitable defeat. He has nothing left to prove. But from the point of view of money, he might sign for a 5th fight — provided Pacman wants to fight again after suffering such a loss. Marquez has never commanded the purses he really deserves and a 5th fight might earn him more money than he has ever be able to make in a single fight.

Either way, it was an amazing six rounds. I’m only now able to catch my breath.

The unforgiving minute and sixty seconds’ worth of distance run

- October 26th, 2012

Greetings web denizens, heathens, zealots and the rest of you!

Came across this the other day, a video featuring Rudyard Kipling poem “If” which is one of my favorites of all time. Not much to say other than the poem, and the video, and all it represents gives me chills. Soak it in and tell me it doesn’t give you chills.

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

It was a chilla and a killa and a thrilla

- October 1st, 2012

Greetings web denizens, heathens, zealots and the rest of you!

Just for a change of pace, jump onto Youtube and check this film out. This weekend was the 37th anniversary of the Thriller in Manila, the last and most brutal shown down between Muhammad Ali and the late, great Joe Frazier. Few sporting events even approach this fight.

Follow the links on Youtube for the rest of the film. And if you have the time, check out this tribute to Joe, who recently passed away:

 

Bute vs Froch II? Ooookay….

- July 9th, 2012

Greetings fight freaks!

So Quebec resident and former IBF super middle weight champ Lucien Bute has come out of hibernation after the catastrophic, title loosing defeat to Britain’s Carl Froch in May, to talk about his plans for the future — and to the surprise of many, he wants a rematch.

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Carl Froch raises his hand after defeating Canada's Lucian Bute in May. Bute says he wants his contract rematch with Froch next year.

See, in the fight game, when a bout is as one sided as Bute vs. Froch was, calls for a rematch are usually muted. The fight wasn’t close. Bute wasn’t really in it from the second round to the fifth when the bout was stopped. Bute, who fought Froch with his hands slung low and without much of an offense, got smashed. By the final round, he was blocking Froch’s power shots with his face, and his head was bouncing around like a speed bag.

It was one of Froch’s most ferocious and dominating performances that perhaps exposed Bute for being what his harshest critics said he was – a paper champion.

Until recently, the top super middle weights in the world were tied up in a very long, drawn out Showtime sponsored winner-take-all tournament to determine the top champion. Froch was among the elite group fighting in the tournament, eventually won by American Andre Ward (who beat Froch in the final.) But while the best of the best were fighting it out, Bute was on the outside looking in. Although one of the major title holders in the division, he was oddly left out of the tournament.

So while Froch, Ward and others were in the pressure cooker, Bute was boxing his way through the B-list, unable to really fight top flight competition until he faced Glen Johnson, who at the time was recently eliminated by Froch from the tournament.  Bute handled Johnson, who gave Froch a hard 12 rounds, with relative ease, suggesting that despite the critics, the Romanian-born champion was the real deal. When the tournament ended, it was inevitable that Bute would begin to face the rest of the world’s best super middle weights.

Then came the fight with Froch. The undefeated Bute, who normally fights before frothing crowds in Quebec, went across the pond to Froch’s home town of Nottingham, and was beaten in as a decisive manner as he could have been. The fight was so lopsided, it was hard to imagine Bute pressing for the rematch option in the fight contract. Although Froch is contractually obligated to fight the rematch if Bute wants it, he appears to have little interest in it. There are simply bigger money fights for him out there. The interest, from a fan and money point of view, in a rematch is low.

For Bute though, the desire is obvious. He was an undefeated champion who was humiliated in his only loss, a loss that stripped him of his title. So he wants another chance a chance to redeem himself in a way that few other sports ever provide. If he wins, it would be epic. If he looses, his career will have suffered a crippling body blow.

In his press conference last week, Bute talked about this defeat and why he wants another crack at Carl Froch. They’ll each fight other bouts this year, and dance together again in May 2013 in Montreal.

“That was not the real Lucian Bute in that Nottingham ring last May le 26th.  I spent the last few weeks reflecting about what went wrong, what happened, and the only thing that is crystal clear in my mind is that I want my rematch with Carl Froch as soon as possible,” Bute said. “I am convinced the loss was due to critical errors on my part and that I will beat him.”

I don’t want to rule anything out, but at the same time, it’s hard to know what Bute could change without radically reinventing his fighting style. While he was able to slip some of Froch’s punches he was unable to fire back counter punches when he did. Nor he could slip enough of the incoming fire. Froch attacked in combinations, so if he missed punches one or two, he landed shots three, four and five. Also absent was Bute’s jab, and the hand speed that usually paralyses most other fighters.

Still, Bute seems to think he knows where to start rethinking his approach.

“I did not use my primary weapons of speed and my jab at all during the fight.  I fought Carl Froch`s fight instead of dictating the pace and forcing him to fight my fight,” he said. “It was a bad night for me in Nottingham.  A nightmare, really.  I lost my IBF belt, my perfect record and I suffered a hard loss.”

Even so, Bute is a class act and wasn’t sugar coating his defeat. Froch, he said, deserved the victory.

” I do not want to take anything away from Carl Froch`s accomplishment.  He was the better man that night.  He was hungrier and more motivated and he won.  But now I have to look ahead.  My promoter Jean Bedard, my coach Stephan Larouche and I have had numerous serious discussions and we have established a plan that I am very comfortable with.  In the next two fights I will erase the bad memory of May 26th from my mind and from the minds of my fans.”