Grant Rants

Posts Tagged ‘boxing

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.

Boxing round up: Mayweather romp, Pac-man is back and Bute’s hand

- May 8th, 2013

Greetings fight fans;

It’s been a busy few days in the world of boxing, so I’m here to catch you up.

Easy night for Mayweather

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Mayweather had an easy night beating the “Ghost” Guerrero.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., regarded by most as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world had an easy night Saturday against his highly religious opponent, aggressive southpaw Robert Guerrero. He walked to a 12 round decision without ever being in danger. I scored the bout 199-109 for Money May. I could have given him all 12 rounds, but I scored the 12th for Guerrero, mostly because he did not look as horrible as he did in the preceding 11. Some analysts scored the first couple of rounds for Guerrero, but to my eye while they were closer than most of the others, they were clearly Mayweather rounds.

Where Miguel Cotto was able to pressure Mayweather, keep a good jab in Mayweather’s face (which seems a critical factor in making a fight of it with Money) and was able to make the most of it when Mayweather retreated to the ropes, Guerrero really had nothing. No jab. No pressure. No game plan. He was hit by so many right hand leads (normally a dangerous punch because a fighter can see a right hand coming much easier than a jab, which is typically faster and nearer to the opponent) that Mayweather actually hurt his hand on Guerrero’s hard head.

At this point, short of resurgence Manny Pacquiao actually getting into the ring with Mayweather, it’s hard to see anyone having a shot at defeating Mayweather. All eyes are focused on Saul “Canelo” Alvarez as Mayweather’s next real test, but as good as Canelo is (and he is) he seems tailor made for the  defensive genius of Mayweather.

Bute’s out

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Lucian Bute

In what would have been perhaps the biggest fight in Canadian history and very likely the biggest sporting event in Canada of 2013 (short of a Canadian team making it to the Stanley Cup finals) former super-middle weight champion Lucian Bute was to face former light-heavy weight champ Jean Pascal in Montreal. Both men were once among the best in the world until recently losses cost them their titles and neither man has challenged for a title since. The Canadian super fight, which was to be broadcast by HBO, would likely put the winner back into title contention while the other would probably fade to black. The stakes were as high as they get for professional fighters.

But Bute announced this week he hurt his hand in training and will need surgery. The fight will be rescheduled, although a new date has yet to be set.

The return of Pacman

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Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao’s first fight since his stunning KO loss to long time rival Juan Manuel Marquez is scheduled for November in China against American Brandon Rios, also a left handed slugger.

On the one hand it’s a risky fight for Pacman. Rios is a power hitter with no quit in him who likes to pressure fighters into submission. He’s young and hungry  and eager to come back after a recent loss to Mike Alvarado. On the other hand, come forward pressure fighters almost always get chewed up in the Pacquiao buzzsaw. Think Ricky Hatton, a skilled powerful brawler who was dispatched in brutal fashion in two short rounds.

A lot is being said about Pacman’s state of mind. Will he be gun-shy after JMM knocked him out? If Pacman is in top form (and lets not forget he was winning his fight against JMM and pretty well beating him up until he walked into a perfectly timed right hand counter from Marquez, arguably the best counter puncher in boxing) I don’t see the slower, less mobile Rios making it past 7 rounds. Rios is good but he is no Mayweather or Marquez.  Rios could not adapt to Alvarado’s more mobile style. It is hard to imagine how he will cope with the lightning feet and hands of Pacman.

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.”

 

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