Monday, December 28, 2009

Getting Testy - Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs Manny Pacquiao

The very latest scandal in the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs Manny Pacquiao super-fight is the demand by the Mayweather camp for Manny Pacquiao to undergo Olympic-style drug testing leading up to the fight March 13, 2010.

Perhaps the smartest thing Mayweather has done so far is to partner up with Golden Boy Promotions, allowing them to negotiate on his behalf and utilizing their substantial muscle and network. Mayweather's demand that the Olympic U.S. Anti Dopers Association (USADA) be the organization that conduct the tests is most likely because of Oscar De La Hoya's personal relationship with the head of this group. Considering that "Olympic-style drug testing" means the testing would be at random and as often as the USADA would like, the relationship with De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions is a huge advantage. Especially now that everyone knows Pacquiao is superstitious about getting blood drawn in general, much less right before a fight. (This superstition was born when Pacquiao was blood-tested before his first bout against Erik Morales, which he lost.)

Team Pacquiao has refused such random tests and instead, have offered to give blood directly after the fight. The USADA claims that a scheduled blood test would give Pacquiao's team the opportunity to shoot him up with a masking agent and thus render the test meaningless.

So it seems they are at an impasse and the fate of the super-bout hangs in the balance.

Is this a pressure tactic designed by Floyd Mayweather Jr. to ultimately avoid fighting Manny Pacquiao? There are many inconsistencies within Golden Boy Promotions' protocol that would make it seem so. While negotiating the PPV bout between Shane Mosley and Zab Judah in 2008 (the fight never got made,) Golden Boy CEO, Richard Schaeffer refused the Olympic-style drug testing requested by the Judah camp, stating "Whatever tests they [the Nevada State Athletic Commission] want them to take, Shane will submit to that. We are not going to do other tests than the Nevada commission requires. The fact is Shane is not a cheater and he does not need to be treated like one."

Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach has stated that they will adhere to the rules and tests enforced by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), which includes extensive drug tests through urine analysis, a method that NSAC Executive Director, Keith Kizer considers less invasive than blood testing. "Urine tests are not only cheaper, they are more effective and there are no risks of nicking a blood vein or causing an infection," Kizer explains. "If blood tests are administered in the locker room, something like nicking a vein or excessive bruising would force us to cancel the fight, not to mention the risks of infection, administering a test in that kind of environment." Kizer states "Our goal is to deter the use of drugs [by athletes] in the first place." It is Kizer's belief that if drug tests aren't strictly enforced, the athletes who don't normally use performance-enhancing substances may feel compelled to do so in order to even the playing field. "Blood tests are not as effective as urine tests in most cases," Kizer says. "As far as I know, the only test that shows up better in blood is EPO (blood-doping), which is a long-term test that should be administered over the course of months and months in order to be accurate." When asked whether he thought Manny Pacquiao uses steroids, Kizer immediately answers "No. We've tested Manny Pacquiao several times, including the fights during his climb through the weight classes and he has always tested clean."

Roach has even proffered a letter from the NFL, arguably the strictest professional league when it comes to drug-testing, which would state that blood testing is unnecessary and less effective than urine or saliva tests. Though a blood test has been developed for human growth hormone (HGH,) the test has not been proven effective or reliable, as it has never detected HGH in any of the athletes tested, including all of the athletes at the Olympic Games of 2008.

A Brief History

Mayweather was accused of ducking the mega-fight in May, 2009, when he announced his first fight out of retirement would be against Juan Manuel Marquez. The announcement came on the day of Pacquiao's fight against Ricky Hatton. Fight fans and media outlets started calling Mayweather out for his apparent avoidance of fighting Manny Pacquiao, though claiming himself to be the true pound-for-pound king of boxing. Brian Kenny of ESPN went head-to-head against Mayweather in an on-air interview (click to see video clip,) being the first public figure to officially accuse the former pound-for-pound champion of dodging Pacquiao. Mayweather may have suffered his first comeuppance at the hand of Brian Kenny, but the real blow came when ticket sales to his comeback fight against Marquez were dismal. The fight got moved from July 18, 2009 to September 19, 2009 due to an alleged rib injury suffered by Mayweather, but many people have speculated that the real reason for the postponement was to build the fight and increase ticket and projected PPV sales. Mayweather dominated his fight against Marquez, who was forced to gain over 10 pounds for the bout. Mayweather even came in two pounds overweight, tipping the scales further in his favor. Instead of regaining the respect of fans for beating the pound-for-pound second best in Marquez, Mayweather suffered further criticism through the media and fans. Hip Hop icon, Eminem's Sirius radio station, Shade 45, had a phone interview with the tarnished former pound-for-pound champion on October 29th, 2009, attacking Mayweather for protecting his record and not fighting anyone who would test him. Hip Hop star "RA the Rugged Man", a guest on the show and a veritable boxing encyclopedia, did most of the talking in the no-holds-barred conversation (click to hear audio clip zSHARE - mayweather vs ra the rugged man.mp3)

Conversely, Pacquiao went on to fight one of the the welterweight division's most feared fighters, Miguel Cotto and in a stunning TKO victory in the 12th round, affirmed his position as boxing's pound-for-pound king. During Pacquiao's post-fight interview, fans chanted "we want Floyd!" repeatedly, begging Larry Merchant to ask who Pacquiao would like to fight next. Pacquiao gave the usual answer, stating he would fight whomever his promoter put in front of him. Mayweather immediately went on record, harping to anyone who would listen that Manny was avoiding the fight by not specifically calling Mayweather out when asked who he'd want to fight next. Mayweather stated "Tell Manny Pacquiao to be his own man and stop letting everyone including his loudmouth trainer, talk for him. If Manny Pacquiao wants to fight me, all he has to do is step up to the plate and say it himself." During coverage of Manny Pacquiao's LA victory party, days after the Cotto fight, a KTLA Los Angeles reporter asked Pacquiao "For the record, do you want to fight Mayweather?" to which Pacquiao simply replied, "for the record, yeah."

This may have forced Mayweather's hand as far as starting negotiations for the fight of the decade, but since then, fight fans are left wondering whether he will actually go through with it. The latest blood-testing hoopla only confirms the fans' worst fears that this much-anticipated fight may not get made as it seems Mayweather's camp is trying to find any feasible way to back out of the fight while saving face.

Freddie Roach states "I'm not going to let my fighter endure any kind of blood test so close to the fight. We don't work for Mayweather. I'm perfectly happy complying with whatever the Nevada State Commission asks of us." As it is, Mayweather insisted on having the fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas instead of in Dallas, Texas, which would have been much more lucrative. Though Pacquiao didn't express a preference of where the fight should be located, Roach believes that having the fight at the MGM, or "Floyd's backyard" as he put it, was enough of a compromise.

Inside Scoop

Insiders say Golden Boy has tentatively agreed to use the tests enforced by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, but only if the NSAC standards are also adhered to in the weight clause, reducing the $10 million penalty per pound over from the contracts to $600 thousand per pound over. Roach has no problem with this, stating "I don't care how much the penalty is. If Floyd shows up overweight - we won't fight him."

Roach goes on to say that negotiations are already underway with WBO NABO Light Welterweight champion, Paulie Malignaggi as well as WBA World Light Middleweight champion, Yuri Foreman. A win over Foreman would make Pacquiao a world champion in a record-breaking eight different weight classes, to which he already holds the record at seven titles, beating Oscar De La Hoya's six and besting Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s five.

Talk has also surfaced that Pacquaio plans to sue Mayweather for defamation of character.

In My Opinion

Will this fight get made? Many arguments can be made for either side, but I believe it will get made in the end. Mayweather has already succumbed once to holding negotiations after countless accusations that he is ducking Pacquiao and for the most part, the media and fans are still not backing him up even after this latest attempt to scandalize the fight. He is left with no leverage and no way out other than admitting cowardice, or sustaining (read: faking) an injury / infection that would prevent him from fighting for the next several months - which might happen. And if it does, you heard it here first.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I hope I asked a lot of the same questions you all would have asked. I think he dishes a lot here about Manny vs Floyd, Amir Khan's future and what he thinks about the best of 2009 for Boxing...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Manny vs Amir

For all of you who are excited about Amir Khan being Manny Pacquiao's chief sparring partner in training camp for Manny's (tentative) fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

This sparring session took place during Manny's training camp for Oscar De La Hoya.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Yes, we Khan

Amir Khan sizzles as he retains his WBA light-welterweight title against Dmitry Salita.

It took Khan only 10 seconds to introduce Salita to the canvas for the first time in the fight and 76 seconds to dispatch of him completely. In a show of pure brilliance on the part of Khan, he took charge of the bout after the first bell, not affording Salita a chance to get settled. After Khan landed a crisp jab that set up a short, right hook to the jaw, Salita went down like a ton of bricks, never to fully recover.

You could see Khan getting excited and wanting to s
eal the deal, but he intelligently settled himself down and threw hard, clean punches while moving forward and trapping Salita in the corner, where he suffered his second knockdown. Tasting victory, Khan went for the kill after Salita dragged himself to his feet and in a flurry of punches, Salita went down for the third and final time. Puerto Rican ref, Luis Pabon wisely called the fight off while Salita lay helpless on the ropes.

Salita was heard complaining after the fight, stating that the ref called the fight too soon and that he could have continued. Most of those who watched the fight would wholeheartedly disagree, but he may have had a point, considering that in the past, he came back to win (UD) against Robert Frankel after getting knocked down in the first round as well as fighting back to a draw against Ramon Montano after being knocked down twice in the first round.

Although Amir Khan was a heavy favorite to win against the WBA #1 contender, few could have predicted such a quick victory. It indeed took him longer to leave the ring with all of the congratulations than it took him to defend his world title.

Much credit is attributed to Freddie Roach, who has trained Khan for his last four fights and has seemingly transformed Khan from a great up-and-comer to a veritable to
ur-de-force in the world of Boxing.

With plans to conquer America next, Khan looks to 2010 as an exciting year for him and for boxing, as he will once again join Pound for Pound king, Manny Pacquiao's training camp as a key sparring partner for Pacquiao's almost-finalized fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Roach emphatically stated that Khan was ready to take on the world and to expect great thin
gs from him.

As he stated in an interview after the fight, this victory was an early birthday present for the (almost) 23-year old sensation, Amir Khan. Happy Birthday, Amir and Congratulations. You were brilliant tonight.

In other boxing news, interim cruiserweight champion, Ola Afolabi lost in his title match against Marco Huck in Huck's home country of Germany. Afolabi, known for his showboating, entertained the crowd for 12 rounds, losing in a unanimous decision.

Chris Arreola won in his first fight back since suffering a brutal TKO loss to Vitali Klitschko at the end of September earlier this year. Arreola (6'4 - 2,630,000 lbs) dwarfed Brian Minto (5'10 - 218 lbs) and knocked him out in the fourth round. What was surprising about this fight certainly wasn't the outcome, as most boxing experts would have predicted an early round KO victory for Arreola. The surprise was the incredible show of heart and determination by Brian Minto. After getting rocked by a straight right hand, Minto hit the ground, but came back up f
ighting. While he could barely stand, he was still throwing punches, still trying to win, until his body finally wouldn't let him continue and he hit the canvas yet again. Though he wobbled to his feet again, referee Eddie Cotton would not allow the fight to continue.

Paul Williams and Sergio Martinez BATTLED. This was certainly one of the hardest bouts to score ever as they traded punches furiously and were toe to toe for the majority of the fight. Martinez, recently robbed of victory in his fight against Kermit Cintron, seemingly got robbed once more, at least by judge Pierre Benoist, who scored the fight 119-110 in Williams' advantage. Perhaps the only judge to truly get it right was Julie Lederman (Harold Lederman's daughter) who saw the fight 114-114, a draw.

Great night of boxing!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Man, oh, Manny

Pound for Pound King, Manny Pacquiao victorious over heavy-hitter, Miguel Cotto.

And what a fight it was.

Although fight fans had Pacquiao favored 3 to 1 come fight time, most Boxing experts had it pretty even. Cotto's larger size, strength and comparable hand-speed made him a formidable opponent.

There was a lot of underlying drama leading up to this fight. Manny Pacquiao's training camp took place in Baguio City, Philippines for the first time ever, since new tax laws in California prevented him from training at his usual spot, the Wildcard Boxing Club. Known for being superstitious, Pacquiao didn't like straying from routine and choosing his home country, be it familiar, seemed like a bad choice considering his god-like status there and all of the distractions that his fame would entail. What they didn't know was that the fan adulation would offer little distraction compared to the 3 typhoons that would blow threw the islands during the few weeks they would be there. Concerned for their safety, Freddie Roach forced training camp to move to the capital city of Manila when the final storm was headed directly over Baguio City. Ironically, Vancouver, Canada was overlooked as a potential training spot due to its perennial rain.

Miguel Cotto also held his training camp in a new location. Instead of his home country of Puerto Rico, Cotto opted to hold this training camp in Tampa, Florida and though his camp didn't have to contend with typhoons (or a rainy day, for that matter), Cotto was adjusting to the absence of his seasoned, though contentious uncle and trainer, Evangelista Cotto. Joe Santiago, team Cotto's fitness and nutrition expert for only a short time, was surprisingly named the new head trainer in April of this year. Santiago, for his part meant well, but was highly criticized by fans, experts and certainly not in the least by Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach for being too "green" and inexperienced.

The drama continued at the weigh-in before the fight, where Joe Santiago and Freddie Roach got into a verbal confrontation while Cotto was on the scale. Apparently, reacting to the skepticism by the press and fans that Cotto may not be able to make the 145 lb weight limit, Joe Santiago viciously turned to Freddie Roach and stated "145, ASSHOLE". Roach took offense to this and went after Santiago. Cotto got involved for a second until Roach threatened him as well. Things cooled down quickly, but the tension continued between camps until the fight the following night.

As both fighters entered the ring, the energy of the crowd became palpable. During the first round, Miguel Cotto came out with fists blazing against the pound for pound king, Manny Pacquiao. Surprisingly aggressive, Cotto executed a near-perfect round and when the bell rang, Cotto fans raised their hands in victory. In the second round, Pacquiao seemed to be timing Cotto and landed some game counter-punches. The third and fourth round saw Cotto being knocked down and the course of the fight had then been set. Cotto put up a good fight, flurrying with some strong combinations, but Pacquiao had taken control of the fight and dominated the remaining rounds, until referee Kenny Bayless stopped the fight in the 12th round. What the television audience didn't see was that Cotto's father had tried to stop the fight at the end of the 11th round. The stoppage was an inevitable end, as Cotto had taken to the bike for the last few rounds, backing away from Pacquiao and trying to survive rather than win the fight.

I had the opportunity to to have a quick chat with Freddie Roach after the fight - right when he was about to leave for England, where he is training Amir Khan for his first title defense against Dmitry Salita. It's short and sweet, but you're going to enjoy this...

Congratulations, Manny on an unbelievable fight. You are truly a pound for pound champion to be proud of.

Floyd - admit it; You just don't want to lose your zero. You will continue to duck this fight by asking for too high of a percentage or you will silence your detractors by being reasonable in your negotiations. Until you take this fight at a reasonable weight and percentage, you will be thought of as a wuss by your peers, the media and boxing fans at large. Fact.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mike Koncz is a total idiot

Any doubts as to whether Mike Koncz is an idiot have been erased as of the airing of HBO's third installment of 24/7, a television series following the training camps for Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto. This is a universal statement, I realize. And it's meant to be.

Mike Koncz's analysis of the relationship between Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao couldn't be more ignorant. ( ig.ner.uhnt: Lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact). Having been in Manny's camp for five years, this ignorance must be chosen, for anyone who has been around Roach and Pacquiao for five minutes can recognize the symbiosis between the two. It is almost palpable. It is telling that Koncz chose the word "famous" to describe what Freddie Roach would NOT be if not for Manny Pacquiao. Perhaps his own need for attention and fame are at the crux of this blind antagonism for the venerable coach.

Ironically, it was Roach who introduced Koncz to Manny Pacquiao. Koncz had spent his life savings trying to get undefeated Nigerian heavyweight Ike Ibeabuchi out of jail and back into the ring. Ibeabuchi had beaten Chris Byrd in 1999 and was on the path for a world championship when his career was abruptly halted. Ibeabuchi apparently tried to pay a Las Vegas prostitute with a check for her services. When she refused to accept this payment method, things got ugly. Ibeabuchi ended up pleading guilty to charges of battery with intent to commit a crime and attempted sexual assault in 2001. Koncz believed Ibeauchi would be paroled in August, 2004 and approached Freddie Roach to be Ibeabuchi's trainer, telling Roach that Ibeabuchi needed the best, and that Roach was the best. When parole for Ibeabuchi was denied, Koncz was left with nothing. His life savings were gone and his family had left him. It was in this state and at that this time that Freddie Roach introduced him to Manny Pacquiao. Manny took pity on him and hired him on as a consultant. Roach regrets the introduction as was intimated in his interview with HBO.

Koncz has positioned himself within Manny's camp strategically. He filters Manny's phone calls and correspondence, leaving promoter Bob Arum and Freddie Roach to wonder if Manny receives any of their messages. During the negotiations for Pacquiao's most recent fight against Cotto, Roach resorted to making statements in the press, hoping his most prized fighter would get his messages and contact him.

Team Pacquiao insiders reveal that Manny was very unhappy with Koncz after watching the controversial interview on television. Whether or not there will be consequences remains to be seen. For now, "Koncz" has become a name people avoid saying at the Wildcard Boxing club. Kinda like somebody else we know.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Super Six - Regal victory and Snakey win

What a night of Boxing. "King" Arthur Abraham was in a battle against Jermain "Bad Intentions" Taylor until the last 15 seconds of the fight when he knocked Taylor out with a quick, but decisive right hand.

perhaps Jermain Taylor should change his nickname to something a little less passive-aggressive than "Bad Intentions". After all, t's one thing to have a bad intention, it's another thing to follow through with it.

Eerily similiar to Taylor's last fight against Carl Froch, his body bounced off the canvas with 15 seconds left on the clock. UNlike his fight with Froch, Taylor was losing this fight against the incredibly resilient and strong Arthur Abraham. I like Jermain Taylor and wish his career hadn't veered south like this. My prediction is that he will now be considered a high paid opponent for the rest of his career, IF he has one left. I'm not entirely sure he should finish the Super Six. It seems like his long-term health is in question. If he were to bow out, who should take his place? I'd love to see Allan Green get that spot. As a largely underrated fighter, I think Allan Green would gain recognition and get the respect that he deserves as a fighter were he to be in the Super Six Tournament. Showtime take note.

How disappointing was Dirrell's fight? I was cringing as he clinched his way through the early rounds and although I felt he got the timing right in the middle and late rounds, it was just too late. The judges saw Froch as the aggressor and, rightfully so, let him retain his belt. Other than the horrible clinching, Dirrell was beautiful to watch. He moved his feet well and landed clean, hard punches, but was backing up most of the fight and failed to "close it down". Comparatively, Froch was a throwback to the Jake Lamotta days in Boxing and brawled his way through every round. I didn't like that he kept punching Dirrell in the back of the head a number of times without much warning from the ref, even after Dirrell was penalized a point for clinching with very little to no warning from the same ref. Though I love old-school fighters, I find Froch's style to be a little annoying - with the hands down constantly and the wild punches without rhythm...Ultimately, if fighting styles were the only consideration, I'd rather watch Dirrell lose a fight than watch Froch win one. I also didn't like Froch's post-fight interview. He certainly didn't earn his boast.

Looking very forward to Mikkel Kessler vs Andre Ward on November 21st. I wonder if Ward's hometown advantage will be enough for him to beat the seasoned "Viking Warrior"...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Super Six

The Super Six World Boxing Classic. How amazing. Boxing fans from around the world get to watch their favorite Super Middleweights duke it out in a round-robin style tournament. Genius! Thanks Showtime.

The tournament's first bout begins on Oct. 17, when Germany's Arthur Abraham (30-0, 24 knockouts) takes on Arkansas' Jermain Taylor (28-3-1, 17 KOs) from Berlin. On the same night, England's Carl Froch (25-0, 20 KOs) puts his WBC title on the line against Michigan's Andre Dirrell (18-0, 13 KOs) in Froch's hometown of Nottingham.

On Nov. 21, WBA champ Mikkel Kessler (42-1, 32 KOs), of Copenhagen, Denmark, meets former Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward (20-0, 13 KOs) at Oracle Arena in Ward's hometown of Oakland, Calif.

And to make it even more salacious, fans can tune in to FIGHT CAMP 360 to watch all of the behind the scenes action on the fighters preparing for battle.

I've got to be honest. This is exciting. Things have been a little hum-drum in the Boxing world lately - with Mayweather blowing Marquez out of the water and Klitschko equally dominating Arreola, it's about time we had something to get excited about.

Jermain Taylor may have gotten the toughest draw, having to fight Arthur Abraham right out of the gate (not that there would be an easy draw in these six fighters). I mean, anyone who can still win a fight with a broken jaw hanging from his face from round 4 is the one to beat, in my book. Abraham is a brawler, with a semblance of defense, but he definitely throws some wild punches. WATCH TAPE JERMAIN!

I'm liking Andre Dirrell against Carl Froch, although I'd love to see Froch fight Taylor again. Dirrell has amazing footwork and will easily be able to out-point Froch, even with Froch's hometown advantage. Dirrell shouldn't go for the KO, because Froch's chin could withstand a freight train.

Mikkel Kessler is another elite athlete that is going to be tough for the comparatively inexperienced Andre Ward. Although Ward has a respectable 20-0 record, Kessler has fought over twice as many fights (43 fights 42-1), twice as many rounds (Ward 104 vs Kessler 222) and has almost three times as many KO victories (Ward 13 vs Kessler 32). That's a tough fight. Ward has the hometown advantage and a clean fighting style that may challenge Kessler's in-your-face forward style, although Ward will only be able to win on points as Kessler's head is rumored to be made of cement.

For Boxing purists, the SUPER SIX tournament is a dream come true. And to start off with the Super Middleweight division was a fantastic idea. I love this weight class. The fighters are big enough to pack a punch, yet small enough to be quick on their feet. I for one, am all-in. I will be watching the FIGHT CAMP 360 series as well as the actual fights. With Manny Pacquiao vs Miguel Cotto coming up on November 14th, this fall is shaping up to be amazing for the Sweet Science!

For those of you who will be joining me in watching all things SUPER SIX, please make note of the schedule below:

Air dates for FIGHT CAMP 360:

Saturday, Oct. 10 - 10:30 PM, Showtime
Monday, Oct. 12 - 11:30 PM, Showtime 2
Tuesday, Oct. 13 – 10 PM, Showtime 2
Wednesday, Oct. 14 – 11 PM, Showtime 2
Thursday, Oct. 15 – 10 PM, Showtime 2
Thursday, Oct. 15 – 10:40 PM, Showtime
Friday, Oct. 16 – Midnight, Showtime
Saturday, Oct. 17 – 6:40 PM, Showtime

Note: All times are ET/PT

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A tearful Lucia Rijker comments on a historical moment in Women's Boxing

Famed female boxer, Lucia Rijker talks about Women's Boxing being included in the 2012 Olympics and what it means to her and to countless young girls who aspire for Gold...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thunder only happens when it rains

Arturo "Thunder" Gatti, age 37, has been found dead in his rented apartment in Brazil. Apparently on a honeymoon with second wife, former exotic dancer, Amanda Gatti and their 10 month-old son.

Police reports indicate foul play, though there were no bullet wounds or stab wounds. Speculative reports indicate Gatti was bludgeoned to the back of the head, which caused his death. His wife and child were unharmed.

Arturo Gatti was never known for his 'clean-living'. Issues with drugs and women have always embattled this Boxing sensation. In April of this year, he was arrested at a Montreal strip-club after failing to appear in court for charges of assault against an ex-girlfriend (possibly Amanda). Several drunk-driving charges, assault charges (one against a police officer in Miami), have spelled a troubled life for a beloved Boxer. It comes as no surprise to some that Arturo Gatti has met an early demise. Unfortunately, it just comes with the territory when you're a total bad-ass.

Perhaps best known for his trilogy of fights against Irish Micky Ward, whom I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing earlier this year, Gatti was all heart when he was in the ring. He was most certainly in his best light when he was under stage lights. Though he will never be thought of as one of Boxing's most skilled or talented fighters by most, it may be universally agreed to that his importance to the Sweet Science surpasses a lot of more technically-skilled and celebrated fighers. He exemplified what we all wanted to see in our Pugilist heroes - he had heart. And he would do anything to win. He even won his third bout against Micky Ward one-handed after breaking the other in an early round. This is what we pay to see. We want to see bravery, courage and self-sacrifice. A far cry from many of the fighters who whine about toothaches or fall in the shower or cry for larger percentages, Arturo Gatti was a fan's fighter and in a different league than his coddled counter-parts. He will be missed.

R.I.P. Thunder.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

You may now lean on the counters at Wildcard

Michael Moorer, former Heavyweight Champion and trainer at Freddie Roach's Wildcard Boxing Club was relieved of his position recently.

Roach cited irreconcilable differences between some of the fighters and Moorer as the reason behind the dissolution.

Michael Moorer called Freddie Roach many times over the last year, telling him he would come to Los Angeles and asked to be Roach's Chief Assistant. Moorer showed up one day, shortly before Manny Pacquiao's training camp for Ricky Hatton, which took place May 2, 2009. HBO's series, 24/7 perhaps captured the regression of the relationship in the four episodes leading up to the fight; with the first episode showing a guarded, but enthusiastic Freddie Roach talking about Moorer's help in the ring with his number one fighter. By the fourth episode, it is revealed that Moorer bullies gym-goers by charging them money for merely leaning on the counter (which is exactly what a counter is for, in this writer's opinion) and has 'inter-personal issues' with some of the other trainers. And though Moorer claims during the series that he would send Roach home early on occasion because of Roach's exhaustion due to his continuous battle with Parkinson's disease, it is reported that this never happened once during camp. Wildcard insiders would concur that Moorer's role in training camp was widely exaggerated in the popular HBO series, to the detriment of Roach's reputation, leading viewers to believe that the veteran trainer could no longer handle an intense training camp. This couldn't be further from the truth. Roach continues to maintain a grueling 6 day per week, 12 hour per day schedule and has not shown any signs of slowing down.

Moorer brought a unique edge to the Wildcard, with his enviable boxing knowledge and experience (he beat Holyfield by Majority Decision after being knocked down in the second round!). It was an interesting dynamic to watch, between Former Champ and (perhaps) Future Champs working together. Seemingly, who would be a better candidate to serve as Chief Assistant to one of the best trainers in the world than a former World Champion?

If inter-personal issues are truly to blame for the demise of this relationship, one hopes Moorer will use this as an opportunity to reflect and recover. But for now, the Wildcard counters will be open for leaning - free of charge.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Post-fight interview with Freddie Roach

Who should Manny fight next?  Is his camp ducking Cotto?  Should Ricky Hatton retire?  What was Floyd Mayweather Sr's reaction after the fight?  These are some of the questions I asked Freddie Roach...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Down, Down, DOWN

Manny Pacquiao stuns millions of Boxing fans on May 2, 2009. It wasn't his win that was so stunning, but the ease of his win over British brawler, Ricky Hatton.

What was inconceivable to the majority Hatton fans in the arena was the inevitable outcome according to Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach.  Hatton got knocked out within three rounds.  At the sound of the bell in the first round, both fighters came out of their respective corners meaning business, both trying to land the first and hardest punch.  It seemed Hatton was giving Pacquiao some trouble, getting him up on the ropes early and overwhelming him with punches, but the tables turned quickly.  Manny seemed to be pacing himself and gauging his opponent for the first minute of the fight, but then quickly made the correct adjustments and started landing harder and more accurate punches, resulting in knocking Hatton down twice in the first round.

The crowd was on their feet for the entire match (all 5:50 of it) as it looked like Hatton had regained his poise and was going for the knockout himself.  When the final knockout came, it was as definitive a win as any Boxing fan has ever seen.  Pacquiao landed a light jab with his right (being a southpaw) and came upward with a left hook that could also be considered an overhand left.  It was brilliant.  And it did the job.  He connected with the tip of the chin, or the "sweet spot" as it is called and Hatton's lights went out immediately.  Sitting up in the stands, it almost felt like everything happened in slow motion.  I saw Hatton's head swivel to the left, then I watched him get spun around as his legs stayed straight and his body fell backward onto the canvas.  This to me, is a clear KO victory for Manny Pacquiao.  I don't understand why it's being considered a TKO?  Maybe you can answer that for me...

I don't know why I wasn't surprised, but I was truly shocked and appalled that Floyd Mayweather Sr didn't tend to his fighter after such a brutal knockout.  He didn't go over to him once.  Shameful.  Also shameful is the fact that he showed up to the fight an hour late.  (Perhaps there was a traffic jam in the Taco Bell drive-through).  Apparently, Hatton wouldn't even speak to him in the dressing room.  Not a great prelude to one of the biggest fights of your career.  It is equally lame that neither Sr nor Oscar de la Hoya participated in the post-fight press conference.  Oscar claimed that he wanted to go to the hospital with his fighter and Floyd Sr just sat in a corner with a few journalists and continued to trash talk Freddie Roach.  What a heel.  And a complete idiot.  I'm sure he didn't participate in the press conference because of what the journalists would have asked him.  I would have loved to ask him if he still thought Manny was "amateur" or a "mule"  (although mules kick a lot harder than 'Italian stallions'...)  Peesh.

However, Freddie told me that after the fight, he watched Floyd Sr. in the opposite corner and waited to make eye contact.  It took a little while, but when Floyd Sr. turned around and looked him in the eye, Freddie simply smiled and thrust both hands above his head in victory.  ha ha ha

Big props to the Ricky Hatton fans.  They were fun, they were boisterous and they were all class.  The brass band that was playing various songs and cheers for Hatton throughout the night gave Manny a proper champion's cheer song afterward.  I thought that was unbelievably gracious.  

It will be interesting to see if Floyd Mayweather Jr. will fight Manny after his 'tune up' fight against Juan Manuel Marquez.  I don't think Freddie Roach would let the weight be above 143, so we'll have to see about that...

Good job, Manny!  You did us proud!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ricky Hatton...Royalty?

Ricky Hatton has stated that this upcoming bout with Manny Pacquiao is his chance to gain the coveted title of Pound for Pound King, but I don't know how that could be possible.

The title of Pound for Pound King is reserved for those very few fighters who consistently beat the best and are universally considered the best all-around fighters. It's not like a belt, where you put it up for grabs and an opponent can take it from you. Rather, it's a recognition by fans, critics and peers and most certainly cannot be won from one fight.

I don't mean to disrespect Ricky Hatton - I actually really enjoy watching him fight, but it seems a bit arrogant and dare I say, hopeful-bordering-upon-desperate that he would hinge the Pound for Pound title on this fight. Beating the Pound for Pound King is certainly an achievement, but it doesn't mean anything other than a boost in bragging rights. I mean, would Oscar de la Hoya have been considered the Pound for Pound best had he beaten Pacquiao last December as almost everyone had predicted? Truthfully, it had never been discussed because it would have been a ridiculous conversation. (Although it may have been more likely in his case, since he owns 'The Ring' magazine...)

Ricky Hatton does not deserve to be recognized as the Pound for Pound King if he beats Manny Pacquiao on May 2, 2009.

There. I said it.

But that's just my opinion.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Golden Era

Oscar announced his retirement yesterday at a press conference in Los Angeles. Some speculated that he may fight one more time in order to exit with a Win, but the majority was correct in predicting his retirement announcement. Though he "promises" his family and supporters that he is indeed, done, I can't help but wonder if he'll come out of retirement to fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. It would certainly be a poetic end to an illustrious career, no matter what the outcome.

Oscar De La Hoya can most certainly be credited with bringing the popularity of Boxing to new heights in America. Aptly named "The Golden Boy", his good looks and charm seemed in stark contrast to the barbarity of the sport he claims he was born to do, which was compelling to us. It made us want to see if this guy could fight. And it made us cheer him on.

Personally, I would have preferred he stayed more elusive and mysterious rather than constantly being in the public eye. His media training and business persona made him less human somehow when watching him on series' like HBO's 24/7. Just one aspect of how being a top promoter and top fighter can be confusing and contradictory, I suppose.

As tough as it must have been for Oscar to utter the words "retirement", I am very happy for him and optimistic about it. Unlike most fighters in the twilight of their careers, Oscar has built an empire for himself in Golden Boy Promotions and certainly will never need to struggle through his retirement. He will not need to face the impossible decision of needing to feed his family versus risking his health and life by fighting past his prime like most fighters do.

Congratulations on a stellar career, Oscar. And thank you for the memories.

P.S. Oscar's heartfelt retirement announcement reminded me of other iconic sports heroes who have retired and one stood out as my all-time favorite retirement speech --> Click here to watch Andre Agassi say goodbye like a true champion (to skip the preamble, FF to 6:25).  The crowd gave him a 3 minute standing ovation and the words he chose to leave the court officially will be remembered always.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Interview with the one and only IRISH MICKY WARD!

THE Irish Micky Ward is in town and training someone at Wildcard this week. He has kept himself in amazing condition. He's really fit. I was also struck by how shy and humble he is. He was really just there to do some work and go - so unassuming.

I've heard that Mark Wahlberg has (finally) got it all together to make the movie about Micky's life that he has been wanting to make for years now, which is why Micky is in town to begin with. Apparently Christian Bale is slated to play the coveted role of Dick Ecklund, Micky's brother, with Mark Wahlberg playing Micky Ward. Congratulations for getting that off the ground, Mark. Your perserverance and tenacity is what is making it happen.

I was honored to be able to chat with Micky Ward for a few minutes and watch him train. It got me to thinking...really, what other trilogy touches the Gatti vs Ward fights? Some might say Marquez vs Vazquez, which were amazing, but the crowd really did it for me in the Gatti/Ward trilogy. It was just different. Knowing they were good friends also added a unique element for me. There was so much heart from each fighter...they really make the Sweet Science proud.

I got to ask the Irish Thunder questions I've always wanted to ask...and I hope I got him to answer questions that you've always wanted to ask as well...enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Coaching Margarito?

Rumors have been abound about whether Freddie Roach will indeed be Antonio Margarito's new trainer.  With the likelihood that Capetillo will be banned for life from training any fighters in the U.S. and most other countries, Margarito looks to redeem himself and what better way to do that than to hire one of the most credible Boxing trainers around?  

Monday, March 16, 2009

Don't call it a comeback

Amir Khan's battle with Barrera this weekend was quite surprising.  From the fans booing Khan at the intro to the final outcome of the fight, the evening itself seemed to be cloaked in a bit of the surreal.  Boxing fans have since been debating whether Barrera would have performed better had he not been caught on the unlucky end of an accidental head-butt in the first round, however it seems pretty clear that Khan came to win and was setting the pace for victory from the sound of the bell.

What was most surprising was Khan's defense.  (He actually had one).  Seems his training with legendary coach, Freddie Roach has been paying off in that department, though Barrera got through it and caught the young Khan with a nasty left hook towards the end of the second round.  But other than a few flurries here and there from the veteran pugilist, it was pretty much the Amir Khan show until the fight was stopped after the 5th round by the doctor at ringside.

Although the fight was one-sided from the gate, criticisms still loom about Amir Khan's "comeback" from his devastating first-round knockout loss to Breidis Prescott six months ago.  Perhaps a rematch is in order for fans to finally believe Khan has moved on and grown as a fighter, or maybe bouts with a higher level of opponent will prove to nay-sayers that Khan is on the path to greatness.  Freddie Roach seems to think so, saying in an interview post-fight that Khan would be his next world champion, without a doubt.

What it comes down to is to what level Barrera's performance was hindered by the cut.  Some say he couldn't get it going because he couldn't see, but in my opinion, he wasn't doing so well before the cut and it is without a doubt that Khan was going to win that fight regardless.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Just OK in San Jose

Perhaps it was in comparison to last week's incredible fight between Marquez and Diaz, but this week's fights certainly fell short of expectations.

The fight card listed three of Boxing's most promising athletes fighting game opponents - a rarity nowadays - and it's hard to believe just how mediocre the night really was.

Robert Guerrero (23-1-1) seemingly had the night's easiest fight in Daud Yordan from Indonesia.  Yordan (23-0-0) is a relatively unknown Boxer with a spotless, but arguably 'built' record.  Guerrero was in front of his home town crowd and was expected to dominate Yordan.  Though Guerrero seemed effective in attacking Yordan's body in the first round, it became very apparent early on that Yordan came to fight.  Speed was on the side of the young Indonesian, who found his target often, although his clinching defense left much to be desired for any fight fan.  Guerrero seemed to get frustrated through round one, with his punches becoming wider and sloppier missing a lot of punches, though landing a number of ineffective punches.  His game plan all but disappeared when Yordan landed a brutal right-left combo, ending the first round.  Though the fight was ruled a no-contest in the second round due to an accidental head-butt that resulted in a cut above Guerrero's eye which he claimed was impairing his vision, I would be curious to see the judges' scorecards after round one.  Some fans booed, no doubt thinking Guerrero had lost the fight, but some fans were probably booing because of a disappointing end to a disappointing fight from their hometown hopeful.

Victor Ortiz (24-1-1) fought a good, but short fight against Mike Arnaoutis (21-3-2), a Greek-born southpaw fighting out of New Jersey.  Arnaoutis was considered by many to be a game opponent for Ortiz, who has been carving his way through the light welterweight division with a string of early KOs.  Arnaoutis, whose most notable opponents include Kendall Holt and Ricardo Torres, was on the defense most of the time, shielding himself from a storm of punches and landing very few.  Ortiz caught him with a stiff left hook and then landed a brutal right uppercut after trapping Arnaoutis in the corner.  It seemed like an early stoppage at first, but after watching the replay and seeing how flush that right uppercut landed, it certainly ended up being the correct call by referee Ray Balewicz.

The main event was brawl between James Kirkland (25-0-0) and Joel Julio (34-3-0).  Kirkland came out punching and had Julio backing up the entire fight.  Kirkland landed a barrage of crisp, clean punches early on and kept up a decent defense at first, though as the fight went on, Kirkland's defense waned and he was caught with some nice shots from the Colombian-born, Julio.  Though the hits Julio landed looked like they would have hurt, Kirkland didn't seem fazed and continued his assault on Julio with great combos to the body and head.  The ref called off the fight immediately after the 6th round.  The low point in this fight was when Kirkland seemingly sucker-punched Julio after the ref had asked the fighters to touch 'em up and go.  Although it wasn't technically a sucker-punch, it was certainly not sportsmanlike nor charming.  Another good win for Kirkland though.

Raised Eyebrow Moment:  
Did anyone else find watching the footage of Ann Wolfe catching mitts with Kirkland to be a little awkward?  They didn't seem to have any rhythm or familiarity whatsoever.  They are portrayed as being in a very close professional relationship, but it didn't look that way to me, watching them hit mitts.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Happy Birthday, Freddie Roach

It was just another day at the gym when Freddie Roach celebrated his 49th birthday on March 5th.  Sure, there were cakes, candles and cards, but it took former Heavyweight Champion, Michael Moorer to stop Freddie from catching mitts long enough to allow us to ceremoniously sing Happy Birthday and bestow our best wishes and gifts.

Fittingly, Freddie remained in the ring.  

Though generally a shy guy, Freddie lit up when he opened his first gift, a group effort resulting in a display case showcasing Manny Pacquiao's gloves from his bout with Oscar de la Hoya, a program and two photos that captured the magic that was that fight.  (Zoom in to see the caption under right photo)

The crowd was also pleased and took photos with the Trainer of the Year and his 'trophy' of perhaps was one of his favorite and most memorable achievements.  I started to remember the weeks leading up to that fight and how the media and Boxing fans seemed to bash Freddie and Manny for taking the fight, much less supposing they could actually win it.  Interview after interview, Freddie was on the defensive about Manny's talents and abilities and lambasted for predicting a 9th round KO.  Teddy Atlas also received a raised eyebrow or two from co-host, Brian Kenny on Friday Night Fights for predicting a Pacquiao win (search YouTube for "Teddy Atlas on Manny vs DLH").  Everyone at the Wildcard Boxing Club never lost hope and never doubted victory (or at least never admitted to it).  We became a closer-knit family, feeling like it was "us" against "them".  "Them", being pretty much everyone else.  It ended up being a one-sided fight as many predicted.  However, the man left holding up his hands was not the Golden Boy, but Manny Pacquiao.  It was more than a victory for all of us at the Wildcard - I don't know quite how to describe it.  It was almost a tangible joy that became the sanctification of our little Boxing family.

Perhaps that's why we all took turns taking pictures with the display case - it captured the spirit of that fight and of the weeks leading up to it.  It reminded us of the exhilaration and bliss we all felt for weeks afterward.  And to see "the man with the plan", Freddie Roach with a big smile on his face, remembering the same things we were, but more intimately, made it even more amazing.

Happy Birthday, Freddie

Monday, February 16, 2009


How the mighty have fallen.

Antonio Margarito has been caught loading his gloves with a 'foreign substance' that has yet to be determined, but is widely speculated as being plaster of paris.  Plaster of paris is a form of mortar or cement that hardens when mixed with water (or sweat).  How disgusting.  This leads to much doubt as to whether he legitimately won any of his major fights against Cotto, Cintron or even Clottey.  It certainly puts Paul Williams on a whole different level for beating him.  And Shane Mosley's incredible performance against him only casts more doubt on Margarito's career wins.

For those who believe that this was a one-off and Nazim Richardson was just lucky to have found the 'error'...I am envious of your child-like innocence, but will have to tell you - THERE IS NO TOOTH FAIRY, EASTER BUNNY or SANTA CLAUS and ANTONIO MARGARITO DEFINITELY HAS DONE THIS BEFORE!

Watching the Cotto fight, I was in disbelief that any of Margarito's punches could actually hurt Cotto.  He is an 'arm puncher' and doesn't pivot to increase power.  Although his arms are long and would therefore produce more snap power, I still couldn't fathom why they were hurting Cotto so badly, especially in the later rounds.  Well, now I'm pretty sure I know why.  

Without the help of his loaded gloves, he was completely ineffective against Mosley, although in all fairness, his punch power could not be determined because he didn't really land any.  I certainly don't want to take away from Sugar Shane's amazing performance - he truly looked like the champion he is on that night - but for Margarito to have such a bad night certainly causes me to mentally put an asterisk next to each of his career wins in the last several years.

The California State Athletic Commission has suspended Margarito and his trainer, Capetillo for one year and so the cheating duo will not be able to fight in a number of other countries that uphold U.S. suspensions.  Though promoter, Bob Arum vies to stage fights in Mexico (which is one of the countries that doesn't give a rat's ass about U.S. suspensions), Margarito may have a tough time finding an opponent.  Or a fan, for that matter.  Although Tijuana mayor, Jorge Ramos has publicly invited the 'Tijuana Tornado' to come back to his home town to fight, it is widely speculated that other Mexican fighters won't be so quick to support their countryman.  Margarito fans, at first supportive and compassionate towards Margarito, have started to sway with highlights from Resto vs. Collins being brought out from the archives and shown pretty much every time Margarito-gate has been covered on sports broadcasts.

Some Boxing fans are comparing this scandal to the scandals of a number of Pro-Fighters who have been caught using Steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.  

Not the same thing.

Performance-enhancers are just that.  They enhance YOUR performance.  Is it wrong?  Absolutely.  But in the way that U.S. laws are written, there are different degrees of wrong.  Using the example of murder, there is manslaughter - which covers anyone who negligently, if not mistakenly causes the death of another human being.  2nd degree murder covers those who take the life of someone knowingly, but just didn't plan for it all to go down that way.  1st degree murderers are obviously those who plotted and followed through with their ill-will.  Steroid-use to me, is like manslaughter.  It's shady and a punishment is deserved, but loading one's gloves with plaster is like 1st degree shady to me.  If the substance is in fact, found to be plaster of paris, I believe Margarito and Capetillo should both be banned for life from fighting / training in the U.S. at the very least.  An argument can be made for the fact that this kind of act could be considered attempted murder ,  although I personally think that would be taking this a little far down the drama road, but those who believe that certainly have a point.

Cotto's loss could have been a career-ender.  He also sustained serious injuries that night that may have caused permanent damage.  Isn't he pissed?!  If he is, he is not vocalizing it.  

Margarito claims that this is "happening to him" only because he is from Tijuana.  Right.  Mexican fighters are some of the most celebrated and revered in the entire sport of Boxing - to discriminate against a fighter from Mexico would be like hating all African-American hip-hop artists.  Nice try, CHEATER.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Please allow me to introduce myself...

...I'm a Boxing fan, and a dame.

I work out at the Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, where I meet all kinds of interesting and relevant characters in the Boxing world.  I'm going to pull a Tarantino here though and start from the beginning and work my way back to that...

My interest in Boxing started when as a child, trying to curry favor with  my Stepfather, I would watch the fights with him on Saturday nights.  He with the beer, me with the popcorn.  My favorite Boxer at that time was Sugar Ray Leonard.  Because I liked sugar.  I am much more astute with my choices nowadays, but I was definitely on to something even way back then.

Mike Tyson is solely responsible for re-igniting my interest in Boxing in the late 80's and early 90's.  I think it is a crime and a shame what happened to Iron Mike.  He is such an iconic fighter and I am absolutely fascinated by him.  I had the opportunity to meet him once, but chickened out because I was too shy (and if you know me for two minutes, you know that I'm not shy.  AT ALL).  He also knows more about Boxing than probably anyone else on the planet, which only further fascinates me.

I will admit that I became a fairweather fan after the glorious Tyson days, recognizing only a few names of the sport's fighters du jour.  Oscar de la Hoya and Lennox Lewis are two names that come to mind from that time.  

Then a friend of mine suggested I take Boxing as a way of getting some exercise.  I've always been drawn to the 'macho sports',  so naturally I was game to give it a shot.  I had gotten a little 'jolly' after getting married, so I definitely needed an effective work out anyway.  I was extremely intimidated by the Wildcard at first.  There's a lot of testosterone there and I found it very difficult to blend in.  Plus, the fact that I was an absolute beginner and looked like a Clydesdale running through deep snow while learning to jump rope didn't help much either.  I must have fractured each hand in two or three different places in the first few weeks, but somewhere during that time, I got hooked.

Boxing is now my religion.  I eat, sleep and breathe my beloved Sweet Science.  I have come to love the Wildcard gym and all of it's characters, now counting Freddie Roach as one of my very good friends.  I'm not as 'jolly' as I once was - turns out Boxing is as great of a work out as I could have imagined.  I lost 38 pounds over the course of 10 months going from a welterweight to a light / junior flyweight.  

I have a very active Boxing group on Facebook - join us if you'd like.  It's called Boxing: The Sweet Science.  (There are two groups by this name, but look for the one where I am the creator).