Grant Rants

Archive for the ‘boxing’ Category

A look back at Pacquiao vs. Bradley

- July 4th, 2012

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

First, apologies for so few updates lately. I had intended to post this a week ago, but was away doing family stuff, but better late than never, right?

As my fellow fight freaks will probably know, the recent decision awarding a title bout to Tim Bradley over Manny Pacquiao had my going all Grant Ranty. It was one of the worst boxing decisions I’ve ever witnessed, and certainly one of the worst in recent memory. But sometimes when I get all Ranty, I don’t see things as clearly as I should. So I turn to others who might have a clearer view of things.

In this case, I contacted the prolific UK based youtube boxing analyst known as “Wingy.” He presents thoughtful, detailed analysis of most major fights week-in, week-out, which are well worth watching.

I recently asked him about the Pacquiao/Bradley fight, and how boxing is scored. If you are unfamiliar with how professional boxing judges score fights, his breakdown of what to look for when you watch a fight is particularly interesting. So here is the complete text of our chat about the biggest boxing story of the year so far:

Grant: I know this question has been asked a billion times in the boxing press since the Pacquiao/Bradley fight, but it seems like the place to start. You’ve watched the fight a few times and scored it a few times. What was your initial reaction to the fight results, and how did you score that night and in your subsequent viewings? (I scored it 118-110 on fight night for Pacman and then 117-111 on a second view, myself.)WEN_bradley_and_pacquiao_fight_14_wenn3936299

Wingy: First of all thanks for the questions! My initial reaction to the fight was total and utter disbelief.  I remember casually finishing off my beers for the night, thinking Pac did good. Maybe not prime Pac but he done it with relative ease except for taking his feet off the gas for two rounds. Good win…

Then when i heard how close the scores were i thought “damn what fight were they watching?!” but I of course obviously knew (or thought i knew) that Pacquiao had won. It was late in the morning for me (UK time) I’m clearing up, thinking to go to sleep. Then when they said…”and the new” i literally thought “ain’t that some b*lls**t”

My initial score was 118-110. Then the few who had it for Bradley begged me to watch it again in extreme detail. I even turned the sound off like they asked me to. To me sound on or off it’s the same when scoring. I’m not scoring crowd cheers, I’m scoring punches that land! So, second time viewing. 118-110 same as before lol.

The 12th was very close though so i could have gave Bradley a share of it on second view 118-111 but no matter how you try and chop and twist it. Stretch it, beat it etc Pacquiao won. Even Andre Ward his friend said Bradley lost the fight clearly. I think he had the same score as me by a round or two maybe.

Even the video doing the rounds on Youtube lately that asks “was Pacquiao really robbed” because the HBO commentators were calling some Pac punches that didn’t land, still doesn’t change the fact that Pacquiao still landed a whole world more shots than Bradley. You just can’t twist and distort what actually happened, but people are trying to. It’s not even about being a fan of either fighter, it’s about being a fan of Boxing.

Grant: What’s your assessment of the performance of both fighters that night?

Wingy: Let’s be fair Bradley did good; took some bangers and stayed on his feet but was never going to have the required skills to beat Pac, he was never going to be able to really trouble Pacquiao. Bradley isn’t a crisp boxer, he shows glimpses of intelligent footwork etc but is also sometimes raw and scrappy. It’s his athleticism; heart and drive which wins him a lot of his fights. When he puts his mind to it and works off the jab he can look very good. But more often than not he leans forward, falls in (hence his head issues) and makes things messy, unclean. He was never going to beat Pac punch for punch, and we saw this, he barely landed throughout the whole fight and no one will tell you Bradley hurt him clean with a punch, not even Bradley fans!

Bradley had pretty good defence in places, awkward and slipping some of Pacquiao’s shots, and here’s where the problem is. So many people wanted Bradley to win they were scoring his defence, instead of his punches landed. I think a lot of people were actually scoring him slipping shots and totally discounting the fact that Pacquiao was out landing him! Scoring his defence as opposed to WHICH OF HIS ACTUAL PUNCHES WERE LANDING.

Pacquiao? He looked good but his foot speed and explosive DeLa Hoya era Pacman intensity and fire seems to be fading with age; it’s going, which is only natural. However he beat Timothy Bradley with relative ease and I’m on record as saying I wanted Timothy to win the fight as I liked his story. I said this on video before his fight. But I can lie to myself to be honest. Pacquiao won, man. lol.  It couldn’t be any freakin clearer.  Just ignore everyone, including me and watch the fight. That’s all the evidence you need.

Grant: Those who defend the decision say it was a close fight (I’ve heard some say “Just like Pacquiao/Marquez 3.”) Is there anyway you can see this fight being that close? Why do you think that comparison to Marquez is being made and is it fair?

Wingy: Pacquiao Marquez III was slightly closer I’ll concede but only by a few rounds going by my cards for both fights. I still really saw that fight as a robbery, I don’t like using the term that much because soon it will start to cheapen its meaning. For example recently the Chambers vs Adamek fight. A very close difficult to score fight but no where near a robbery (115-114 to chambers on my card) Yet people screaming robbery saying Chambers clearly won! Come on the fight was close. I had him winning as i said but it was close.

However Rios vs Abril, Chisora vs Helenius, Lara vs Williams these are clear robberies, and they should be called as such. Pacquiao vs Bradley now has the dubious honour of joining these other fights.

The comparison between the Bradley and Marquez fight is being made because people see it as being a “fair” robbery because Marquez got ripped off in the third fight. He did, i agree. It is a kind of Justice in a way but the more this keeps happening, the worse it is for the credibility of our sport. Tit for tat regarding robberies makes a mockery of everything both fighters in the fight go through to get there, plus in the ring.

Grant: Alright, lets move to the judging itself. The judges all scored 115-113, two of them Bradley. No one that I know in the boxing press who knows boxing or anyone who has been around boxing scored it that way. What’s your view on how the judges can score the fight that close?

Wingy: There are many conspiracy theories and what not and even though lets be honest we have no proof, I still suspect Bob Arum (promoter for both Pacquiao and Bradley: Grant) knows more than he’s letting on about the whole thing. That guy is arguably the most money hungry guy in boxing next to Floyd (Mayweather Jr.)  lol. However Arum has ruled out a Bradley rematch, this is something many thought he would jump at. So it’s hard to point the finger at him as time goes on and more details are revealed but i still don’t think he was 100% innocent regarding the scoring. Just a spidey sense feeling.

The WBO’s resolution seemed at least to bring some kind of justice for fight fans. They found five respected officials from around the world to watch the fight again. They did so and they all re-scored it for Pacquiao, by a landslide. 115-111, 116-112, 117-111, 118-110, 117-111. So eight or more rounds from each judge to Pacquiao.

Even then 117-111 is the most generous score I could give to Bradley without beginning to start making up things that are happening in the fight, but are really not. Like Bradley winning it.

Grant: When you score a fight, explain what you are looking for. What should a judge, in your view, be watching for and can you explain what you mean for the benefit of readers who might not be familiar with boxing, what “clean, effective punching” in particular means?

Wingy: Well I’m just a fan i have to make that clear! Nothing more. I just happen to do Youtube videos. However I’ve been watching the sport since the Eubank vs Benn (in 1990) days. The sport is my passion my deep love but I’m not a boxing expert so my view has no more credibilty than a very passionate fans in my eyes. However I will argue my point till my grave if i think I’m right. haha

I’ve laced up gloves and I’ve Boxed but only as part of Marital arts training and sparring. Nothing more. I’ve just happened to watch a HELL of a lot of fights. Plus i score fights in detail for my Youtube channel; all the fights every week, for the past two and a bit years. I’ve learned to become pinpoint sharp with my scoring because this is online. People will call you out if you can’t score.

So when i score It’s not done on a casual level. It’s done on a pen and paper every punch, every connected shot jotted down geek style level. I sit with a pen and pad and a Boxing app @boxscorecard for every fight i do a video on.

I look for punches that land clearly. Not on gloves or miss etc. I don’t score just aggression alone either. Rios was the most aggressive in the Abril fight but did he win it? Of course not. Ring Generalship people say they use to score fights and i believe judges are told to incorporate this into fights? However the actual reality is and this goes un noticed, every person has their own individual definition of what Ring Generalship is! People are to scared to admit they don’t really know what it is because they don’t want to appear to look ignorant of Boxing amongst the snobby Boxing elite. I did a video on this topic asking “What is your definition of ring Generalship”.

So me personally? I score good quality clean punches on legal areas of the body. Not shots hitting gloves elbows or not getting through. Or wild flurries that miss, or jabs that are hitting air. Just score mentally as you watch a fight the clean punches you see. That’s all and it’s the fairest way.  Start to bring other aspects into scoring and you start to confuse the issue, as we’re seeing with Pacquiao vs Bradley.

Grant: Commentators like HBO’s Jim Lampley are making a big deal out of the difference in the judges scores and the Compubox stats. In round seven for instance, Pacman out punched Bradley more than that 2 to 1, but all the judges gave Bradley that round. What’s your view on Compubox, and do the stats tell us anything useful about how that fight should have been scored?

Wingy: Man, I never refer to or use Compubox in my vids, even when it supports my argument. People refer to Compubox as an all knowing sentient Matrix-like intelligent computer that is pin point accurately correct. It’s a couple of guys scoring the fight. Simple, except they score not with points but by recording shots landed pressing a few buttons. They are still humans, it’s still their opinions on what punches land, and what don’t.

It just so happens Compubox (two fellas scoring) actually agree with me regards Pacquiao and Bradley. I agree it probably has it’s uses but my eyes are good enough for me. So Compubox are cool but ! don’t need or use them at all when scoring or analysing fights. They are given a bit too much respect when they are really just two more judges.

Grant: If the judging in this fight and a few others recently (The Rios decision and say, Williams vs. Lara) have been so poor, is it time to not only change judges, but change how fights are scored? Is there anything you would like to see changed in the way professional boxing is judged?

Wingy: I would say sit down and draft out a simple clear document world wide for every judge regarding what to take into account when scoring a fight, make it legally binding for ALL judges that they HAVE to take the suggested aspects into account when fighting. I’ll draft it. It’s really simple. Score punches that land cleanly on any legal area, nothing else.

Of course no one will agree so it’ll never happen, if they did though we’d see Zero dodgy decisions because judges would know that we would all now know exactly what they should be scoring. Clean punches! Anything outside of that Ring Generalship, aggression etc etc blah blah is too flimsy and confuses people, even experts and judges them selves again, as we saw with Pacquiao vs Bradley!

Grant: Finally, as a fight fan and fight analyst, do you think this decision will have any long term repercussions on the sport?

Wingy: Well Jose Sulaimans jumped on this controversy to get a little shine for himself, introducing his new computer system for the WBC scoring a fight going on the level of dominance they feel another fighter has within a fight. Only issue with this new system is that it still doesn’t look at the only thing which should be focused on. Clean Punches landed. Here’s what he suggests with his new system:

“We will let the judges click the buttons for: 1- very slight difference; 2- somewhat clear difference; 3- clear difference; 4- overwhelming difference; and 5- a beating. In addition to that, we will have: 6- one button for knockdowns; and 7- one other button for fouls.”

He also ends with this:

“and I apologize and feel very sorry for the ring card girls not to take the scorecards from the judges to show their beautiful bodies to the cheers of the crowd, but we can still have them show the number of the round”

Classy! Lol

Sulaiman however I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw so I’d find it hard to accept any new scoring system he’s all of a sudden given birth to. On initial reading this whole clicking a button for dominance sounds over complicated. One judges opinion of dominance is different to an others. Especially if they are scoring Ring Generalship and other ambiguous aspects. Maybe it’s a start, I don’t know. Just don’t trust that Sulaiman bredda lol

With regards to the whole Pacquiao vs Bradley repercussions on the sport, we have to remember these are only two fighters in a world of fighters. We will move on, judges who are confused about what they are actually scoring or even worse being handed dodgy brown envelopes will remain in the sport. Things will more than likely just remain the same. WBC look to be trying but as I said, I can’t trust them with Sulaiman at the head. We need a world wide governing body. Real reform. People have been literally taking the (life) with our sport for so long now. Makes me want to cry sometimes. lol

Bute loses, Canadian boxing takes a punch

- May 28th, 2012

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

Lucian Bute, Canada’s last standing major boxing champion is a champ no longer. The 32-year-old formerly undefeated IBF super middle weight title holder was thrashed by British boxer and former champ Carl Froch Saturday night.

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Carl Froch (left) hammers away at Canadian Lucian Bute

It was a big gamble for Bute, who has primarily fought in his home province of Quebec or his native country of Romania. First, he was in Froch’s home town of Nottingham, and fighting in front of a home town crowd is a boost for any fighter. Second, he was fighting Carl Froch. The only knock against Bute’s run as an undefeated champ, including nine title defenses, was that he had been working hi way through the division’s B-list.  (He first “real” test as a champ came last year when he defended his belt against aging former champ and ring legend Glenn Johnson in Quebec City.)

It wasn’t entirely Bute’s fault. The network Showtime hosted the “super six” series, taking the top super middle weights in the world and putting them in a tournament to determine the king of the ring. Bute was oddly excluded and was unable to fight any of the men in the series, including Froch.

Nonetheless, Froch – who handily eliminated Johnson during the tournament, setting up the fight with Bute – was a step up in class. Froch has competed with the best super middle weights in the world and the pressure cooker of the series upped his already impressive game.

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Lucian Bute in his corner during his bout with Carl Froch

So really the fight with Froch was Bute’s most serious test to date. One he failed in spectacular fashion, with Froch battering Bute into submission. The fight was stopped in the fifth round.

It was an odd fight. Froch pressed, coming forward with a steady attack. Bute, a southpaw with a wrecking ball upper cut, slipped and dogged a lot of Froch’s punches. I haven’t seen the  punch count stats yet, but I would wager Froch actually missed more shots than he landed. Didn’t much matter though. Because while Bute was getting out of the way of most of Froch’s shots, he wasn’t firing back much himself. When he did it was a single straight left counter. Never effective combos. Afterward’s Froch said the few shots he was hit with confirmed what he had already suspected: Bute was a big puncher and under no circumstances did Froch want to get caught with a flurry.

Bute’s apparent strategy of slip, slip again and slip some more before throwing one punch did little to blunt Froch’s attack. Froch is a beast, and no one is going to blast him out of the ring with one punch. Without having to worry about incoming fire, Froch continued to press and throw heavy punches. And while, as I say, Bute slipped or blocked most of the shots coming at him, he didn’t stop them all. When Froch connected, it looked like Bute had just been smashed in the face with a wrecking ball. His head was snapping back with so much force I thought it might actually come off. He was staggered in round three, baddy hurt in round four where he barely made to the closing bell on his feet, and still on rubber pins, was overwhelmed in round five when the contest was stopped.

It was one of Froch’s best performances to date and easily one of Bute’s worst. Bute just seemed at a loss as to what to do.  And he was crushed as  result.

Bute was Canada’s only significant boxing champion. The only other big name in pro boxing in Canada was former light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal, who has not fought since being defeated in his historic match up with Bernard Hopkins in Montreal last May.

Jean Pascal

Jean Pascal during his reign as world light heavy weight champ

Pascal is fighting in August for the IBF title against Tavoris Cloud, a boxer who while good isn’t in Pascal’s class, at least on paper.

Nonetheless, it was not that long ago that Quebec seemed like Vegas North when it came to boxing. Pascal and Bute were packing stadiums in Montreal and Quebec City, some of the best fights on the year were being fought in Canada. Now, both champs are dethroned and how big boxing will stay in Quebec, and so Canada, is a bit of a question mark.

Pascal may well become a champ again in August, but his real test will be in title defenses. His main rival will be “Bad” Chad Dawson, someone who he beat during his previous title reign. However, Dawson has since walked through Hopkins and looks better than ever. A rematch between the two champs would be a huge fight, but it is unlikely to happen in Quebec. Chances are Dawson will insist on an American venue and given that Pascal has been so inactive, it’s hard to see how he could force the bout to Montreal or Quebec City.

As for Bute, the question mark is even larger. The overwhelming nature of Froch’s win does make you wonder if the knock against Bute, that he only fought against lower-tier boxers, is true. When finally faced with someone of his own caliber, he was blown out. This is not to say that Bute is finished. He is 30 and 1 for a reason. It seems unlikely that he will retire. But whether he can come back to the top of the sport is unclear. He’ll have to be able to beat Froch, or the man who skillfully defeated the Brit to win the Super Six, American champion Andre Ward. No easy task. And above all, Bute cannot follow Pascal’s lead and stay out of the ring for more than a year. He needs to get back in there, probably overseas or in the US, and start carving out some victories and keep interest in him, and in boxing, alive.

Bute and Pascal could put Canada back on the boxing map, but for now, Canuck boxing has taken a body blow.

Trudeau vs. Brazeau, or why politics has nothing to do with boxing

- April 2nd, 2012

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

I honestly cannot tell what is more hilarious to me: that the national press placed so much importance on a charity boxing match, or that most of said press thought that Trudeau was going to lose and were shocked, oh how they were shocked, that he didn’t.

By way of quick background, Liberal MP Justin Trudeau and Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau fought three rounds for a cancer charity in Ottawa Saturday night. And good for them. It takes guts that most people do not have to get into the ring in the first place and they used their profile to raise money for a good cause.  Trudeau won by TKO late in the 3rd round after basically using Brazeau’s head as a heavy bag.

Now, what is amusing here is how reporters from Sun News to the National Post, who clearly haven’t ever seen a Rocky movie, let alone actual boxing, picked Brazeau to basically do to Trudeau what Foreman did to Frazier. (And if you don’t get that reference, you probably shouldn’t have been making predictions about boxing. Just sayin’.)

They will tell you that Brazeau looked bigger (he was only a few pounds heavier than his Liberal opponent) that he has a black belt in karate  and was in the army. (uh yah, so what?) . That Trudeau was taller, with a longer reach and had been hanging around boxing gyms his whole life was no never mind to the political pundits who made him a 3 to 1 underdog.1297249171361_ORIGINAL

The truth was Brazeau was  picked because he is a Conservative and Conservatives are big and tough and rah rah rah. Liberals are meek and wimpy and probably made from tofu instead of muscle. So Trudeau had to lose because, you know, Liberals can’t box.

The punditry  about the fight was, to be frank, embarrassingly and hilariously bad. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the sport would not have favoured Brazeau. He has a black belt? Big deal. Last time I checked, breaking boards and kicking was not allowed in boxing and, the fact of the matter is, most karate schools do not employ full contact sparring. The bit about the army? That would be relevant, I guess, if he boxed in the armed forces. He didn’t, so really, one might as well have said he was also played golf or something.

Trudeau, on the other hand, has been boxing since he was a kid. Never actually fought in the ring, but was in the gym, which gives him a massive edge over someone who wasn’t. Boxing is a balletic craft that takes time to learn. So there is a basic rule when predicting a bout: if one guy has lots of experience and the other guy doesn’t, you don’t pick the noob to win…unless the noob happens to be from Philadelphia. You ALWAYS bet on the fighter from Philadelphia.

The fight itself was sloppy – neither man would last long in a typical club show in St. Catharines – but Trudeau knew enough to open up the can of whup ass on Brazeau, who learned that painful truism about boxing: you play golf, you play tennis. Boxing is the hurt business. You never “play” at boxing at any level of the sport.

Near as I can tell, Brazeau figured that ducking and blocking were against his religion.

It was OBVIOUS this was going to happen, despite some of my Sun media peers gleeful predicting the doom of Trudeau based on his politics. Even the National Post couldn’t admit its silliness afterward, still insisting the non-boxer should have been favoured over the guy who knows boxing because, you know, he looks mean. *sigh*

This is what happens when political commentators decide to talk about the sweet science. You don’t know what you’re doing, boys and girls. Leave it to the pros, ok?

RIP Bert Sugar

- March 27th, 2012

“Boxing is like animals that turn on their young and eat them.” – Bert Sugar

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One of the great pleasures of working in this business for me has me the occasional contact with people whom I’ve admired, particularly in boxing.

Sometimes, like when I met Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, it was a cold splash of reality. The man was nothing like what I expected and I found whatever admiration his public image had created in my mind evaporated like a cup of water on a hot prairie summer day.

Other times, however, the icon is every bit the man you expect. This was the case of boxing writer and commentator, one of the real, original “Mad Men” of marketing and advertising, Bert Sugar. Bert passed away this weekend from cancer.

I interviewed Bert three or four times since I started writing about boxing, and while I cannot claim to know him well, as a professional he was gracious and funny as hell. He was the master of the one liner, being able to draw as much on classical literature as he was his knowledge of boxing history which appeared to stretch back to the original Olympics in ancient Greece – which I think he may well have attended and written about.  He had a singular wit that was both disarmingly charming and still got straight to the point.

When I first interviewed him about the now defunct boxing TV show “The Contender” he mused about how the fight game suffered in the public eye because the heavy weight division, the only one that seems to matter, had faded into obscurity: “You know, if you took the four heavyweight champions, put them in a police lineup in their robes, gloves and trunks, not only would people not know who they were, they wouldn’t know what these guys do for a living.”

I laughed and then he did too, in that infamous strained, wheeze of a cackle no doubt brought on by the constant consumption of cigars.

“You like that, kid?” he said, still laughing. “Make sure you use that. It was a good one, huh? I’ll have to remember it.”

Later, when I talked to him about the Bernard Hopkins vs. Jean Pascal title fight in Montreal, he summed up the seemingly timeless career of Hopkins (who later won the fight to become the oldest legit boxing champion in history) he said: “You never know when Hopkins will turn into Dorian Gray and just age right before our eyes. But keep in mind he has been written off more times than the national debt.”

The era of boxing writers – hell, of newspaper writers in general – who even know who Dorian Grey is has long since passed. I cannot name a single writer or commentator out there who had Bert’s grasp of metaphor. As writers, we all appear as pygmies by comparison. I’ve learned more about the history of boxing, and how to write about it, from Bert than from anyone else.

What was more striking and often more memorable to me, though, were the things he said that never made it to print in my copy. We talked once for more than an hour after an interview about his previous career in marketing and advertising, including business he did with the company that presently employees me. We weren’t buddies – Bert honestly didn’t know me from a stranger who passed him in the street. But he spoke to me as though we’d known each other for years. He regaled me with stories he probably told others a dozen times over, but always with a mischievous lilt that suggested what I was hearing was for my ears only.

“Good talking to you, kid. Call me anytime. I’m always here for you if you need me,” he’d say after every conversation.

In May, some of my boxing work is up for an Ontario Newspaper Award – it is not to much to say anything about the sport I’ve writing that is worthy of note is due, in part, from lessons learned from Bert Sugar. So I’ll be sure to wear my fedora and smoke a cigar for him at the awards dinner.

Thursday hodgepodge: new website and big boxing bouts that just aren’t.

- February 23rd, 2012

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

Ok so first things first, my pretties: the Standard FINALLY has a revamped webpage.  The  face life and redesign that should make it easier and more fun to read the stories of your favorite local reporters – like devilishly handsome writers  with Quebecois names who hail from Alberta perhaps? Anyway, since you are here you know the link, but just in case, check out www.stcatharinesstandard.ca and let us know what you think.

Now, onto other stuff bouncing around in my head. I don’t watch a lot of sports. Honestly, most of it bores me. Not as much as Glee, but close. Something like the Superbowl, to me, is like having some kind of anesthetizing agent injected directly into my brain. The one exception to the rule is boxing, the best sport here is. You could argue with me on this point, and you would be wrong. (Golf fans: don’t even bother making a case for your game. Walking about a manicured lawn knocking a wee ball into a hole with clubs someone else carries for you lacks not only drama, but a pulse. Twain was right. Golf is a pleasant walk spoiled. Go hang out with the guys who like lawn darts and televised poker.)

However, I have to despair a little about the big fights coming up soon, because they just aren’t. Big I mean. They are approximations of big. Yes, Manny Pacquiao will make a gazillion dollars fighting Tim Bradley in June and Floyd Mayweather will make probably more fighting the always game Miguel Cotto in May. But THE fight is Pacquaio vs. Mayweather. We all know it. And it just never seems to come together for reasons what would be the subject for another day.

So, what will the upcoming fights look like? Prediction time:

Mayweather vs. Cotto: Mayweather by clear decision.

Look, yes Cotto has looked great since Pacquiao beat the unholy hell of him a few years ago. And his demolition of the hated Antonio Margarito was impressive. And yes, he is bigger and stronger than Mayweather. But don’t buy into the hype. Cotto’s only chance to blast Mayweather with something huge to hurt or knock him out QED. A puncher’s chance.

Watch Cotto’s fights. He will stand and brawl if he has to, but his style is to step back, let you come forward and catch you coming in. He is not a counter puncher, al la Mayweather or Marquez – the two best counter punchers in the game today – but he uses his step back and fire style to set his opponent up. And it’s worked very well for him. But Mayweather isn’t going to chase Cotto. He isn’t going to hunt him down. He is going to step back himself, force Cotto to come forward and counter punch him to death – like he does everyone else. Look at Cotto’s fight against Pacquiao. Pacman didn’t need to bull rush him. He made Cotto come forward, and Cotto got caught up in the Pacman buzzsaw.

Mayweather will not likely knock Cotto out, he doesn’t have the power or sustained attack to put down a guy like like that, but he will out point him easily over 12 rounds.

Manny Pacquaio vs. Tim Bradley: TKO by round 9

Forget how Pacquaio looked against Marquez. Marquez is a counter puncher – the one style Manny simply cannot cope well with. (which is why should he ever fight Mayweather, Pacman has to be the underdog by a wide margin). Any fighter who stands with Pacquiao, or come forward, gets mulched. They walked into a blizzard of punches that come from weird angles and – provided Pacman has figured out his leg cramping problem which plagued him and slowed him down in his last two fights – he isn’t there to be hit much.

Bradley is a very very good fighter. Would ruin me inside a few rounds. But he is a straight ahead, come forward puncher. Tailor made for Manny Pacquiao. So unless Bradley suddenly developed new skills, or Pacquiao really is a force in serious decline as his critics say, it’s going to be an easy night for the Pacman. Bradley will learn a painful lesson about allowing himself to be used as cannon fodder.

The man who took the hurt: R.I.P “Smokin” Joe Frazier.

- November 8th, 2011

“He was man, take him for all in all. I shall not look upon his like again.” – Hamlet”, Act 1 scene 2.

It’s a strange thing when one of your childhood heroes dies. It’s a reminder, ultimately, of your own mortality, of the shortness and unfairness of life which necessitates us to live in the now, with the people who make our lives a little better. Because sooner or later, it will all be gone.

I am not old enough to have seen Joe Frazier fight, either in person or live on television. By the time I was old enough to put on my first pair of boxing gloves, Frazier had retired and his career was the stuff of legend. I watched his fights as a kid unable to really comprehend what it was I was seeing. But there was something compelling about the man, about the way he carried himself, never quit, and was always forever moving forward. I would not understand until much later the significant lesson in all of that.

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Muhammad Ali, left and, Smokin Joe Frazier. Forever linked.

Frazier died of liver cancer yesterday at the age of 67.  The tributes, many written by reporters who never saw a film of the man box, will talk about his tenure as heavyweight champion when boxing really mattered in American life. They will all talk about how his three fights with Muhammad Ali will forever link the pair together.

A few will mention what is often forgotten – that Ali’s cruel treatment of Frazier murdered their friendship before their first fight, and while Ali rose to the status of an international icon and still reaps the financial rewards of that, Frazier faded to black, broke, living in a hovel above the Philadelphia ghetto gym where he trained young boxers and gave the occasional interview about his glory days.

“Smokin’” Joe, also know to his friends as “Boot”, was Rocky Baloba before Stallone wrote his screenplay. He came up from nothing, worked in a slaughter house and ran the streets of Philadelphia every morning. He didn’t like the hand life dealt him, so he worked hard to change what could be changed.

What mattered to me, though, was not the titles, but how the man carried himself. Frazier understood, perhaps better than anyone else who ever stepped alone into the ring, that sometimes the only way to move forward in life was to take the hurt. Take the pain, live with it, absorb it deep in a place you never talk about, and move forward to do what you need to do. You may not like it, you may wish things were different, you may want to run from it or crawl up into a ball and hide, but you can’t. You take the hurt, fight through it to change what needs changing if you really want a life for yourself. You take it so that, if nothing else, you can still stand up and say “I am.”

He was not blessed with Ali’s physical gifts, or his mouth (Although Frazier could play the guitar and sing fairly well – and I always have to respect the combination of a musician and fighter.) But he made up for it by sheer force of will and effort.

Fraizer’s legacy will always be measures against his fights with Ali, but to me, the man’s fighting spirit matters most. His life was not a fairy-tale, but it was a life worth something.

Remember, remember the 5th of November: Bute vs. Johnson!!

- November 1st, 2011

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

So I am taking my boxing coverage back on the highway this week for the Lucian Bute vs. Glen Johnson IBF Super middle weight title fight at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City this Saturday.

Quebec-based champion Bute, originally from Romania, faces Johnson, AKA The Road Warrior, who recently lost a hotly contested fight with WBC Super Middle champ Carol Froch. Bute, 31, is largely considered to be a favorite against the 42-year-old veteran who fights with a nimbus of the magic of Light Heavy Weight champ, 47-year-old Bernard Hopkins. Nonetheless, Johnson may well be the toughest opponent yet faced by Bute. It’s also another fight establishing Quebec as a major centre for professional boxing in North America.

I’ll be covering the weigh-in Friday and then be at ringside for the fight itself on Saturday night. As I did for the Hopkins-Pascal light heavy weight championship fight in May in Montreal, I will be tweeting round by round from the undercards to the final round. So stay tuned to my twitter account where I will also post links to stories as they go online this week.

See you ringside.

And we’re back! Walking in heels and boxing for MS

- August 30th, 2011

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

The blog’s been quiet lately because I was away on vacation enjoy life away from the newsroom. There is lots going on and an election coming up, so expect lots of ranty fun from the Grant Rant blog.

heels

Terry Fowler and I before last year's "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes."

In the meantime, here are a couple of quick notes for you. First, I’ll be boxing again for the first time in two years on Oct. 14 at the Merritton Community Centre for the “Fight for Murphy” event. It’s a charity event to support Keith Murphy, a long time boxing trainer and mentor to generations of local kids who is struggling with MS. So please, come on out and support a good cause. There is a silent and Chinese auction and “white collar” boxing – regular people from the community who are stepping into the ring for the first time to support the cause. Should be a great night.

The other note is a reminder that “Walk a Mile in her shoes is coming up on Oct. 1 to raise funds for Gillian’s Place, the local shelter for abused women. I took part as a member of team Fight Fight last year and will be slipping on high heels to do it again. Gillian’s place put out a calender to promote the event over the weekend and this week have launched the “Are you man enough” campaign of video vignettes on Youtube. The first one is already up so be sure to check them out here.( Leader of team Fight Fit – Terry Fowler – is featured on both the calender and the videos.)

In the meantime, and in between time, check out a short clip of me training with Chris Chui Pineda for the upcoming fight.

Awesome and freaky: baby boxer

- June 16th, 2011

So this is a video of a three year old doing boxing drills with what is probably his dad. It’s not a cute video of a little kid with over sized gloves swinging away. The boy moves like a fighter. It’s….odd. For those of you who know boxing, you’ll notice he gets his elbows up on the hooks, pivots his right leg when he throws the cross and turns his hand over when he lands his punches. He also manages to slip and counter…there are adults who box in gyms regularly that don’t this good.

Food Bank Diet: “I did this on hash, Joe. Imagine what I could do on steak.”

- June 1st, 2011

There’s a scene in the wonderful film Cinderella Man when down-on-his-luck Depression era heavy weight James Braddock is in his hovel of a home with his wife and kids. He has a fight coming up and needs to eat something to stay strong. The only thing the family has is some baloney. The kids eat their share and are still hungry, so Braddock, over the protests of his wife, gives his food to the children.

It’s not just a scene from Hollywood. It’s reality for more people than you think. For people right here in St. Catharines.

I’ve been doing the Food Bank Diet with a few other members of the community to try and raise awareness of the issue of hunger in Niagara, to give readers a sense of what its like to live on food bank rations and hopefully, drum up some support for our own local food bank Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold.

I’ll be addressing some of the more, shall we say, vitriolic feedback from some readers  (which consists mostly of attacks on poor people and those who try to help their fellow residents) later this week. For now, I just want to draw your attention to one particular woman who wrote to2005_cinderella_man_wallpaper_010 me today.

I got an email from a single mom who does what Jim Braddock did ever day of the week. She said she only eats one meal a day in order to make sure there is enough food in the house for her kids to eat three squares.

She had a good paying job,  but fell upon hard times because of some medical issues and was eventually laid off. She now faces the grim reality of trying to make ends meet, including going to the food bank. She’s even had to make choices like choosing between toothpaste and soap because she could not afford to get both.

She continues to look for work, but in the meantime has to support her kids. And for now at least, that means going hungry so they can eat.

So maybe before some of you spout off about how awful and lazy poor people are, you might want to consider a bigger picture.

Of course, living as she does means the woman’s own physical resources are taxed. She used to run and cycle all the time, something she cannot do on a single meal a day. In the long run, that will take a toll and impact everything she does.

In Cinderella Man, Braddock eventually gets a meal before a fight that turns his life around – a handful of hash. He wins, telling his trainer. “I did this on hash, Joe. Imagine what I could do on steak.” Diet is not a joke. It’s not a laughing matter and for those on the low end of the economic scale, it’s a hard thing to manage. Bad enough they need to turn to a food bank and live on a shoe string, but the food they do get is not enough in terms of quantity and quality.

Which is the real tragedy of it. Because sometimes all a person needs is some hash to turn their lives around.