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.