Monthly Archives: August 2010

Antonio Margarito Finally Licensed to Box in Texas

After serving his one year suspension for illegal handwraps and being denied a new boxing license in California, and after the Association of Boxing Commission’s letter indicating Antonio Margarito met all the requirements of his suspension and could be considered for licensing, Margarito was granted a boxing license in Texas last week.

You can read my previous commentaries on the handwrap issue as it played out here:

https://roberto00.wordpress.com/2010/02/16/open-letter-to-the-association-of-boxing-commissionsabc-and-dick-cole/

https://roberto00.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/breaking-antonio-margarito-denied-a-california-boxing-license/

Ilegal Inserts

Ilegal Inserts

Many wished for him to be banned for life, or worse, so the disappointment from those quarters has been palpable. Regardless, the net result is Margarito is cleared to fight Manny Pacquiao in a mega-fight at Cowboy Stadium for the vacant WBC junior middleweight title.

Antonio Margarito

Antonio Margarito

Some say Margarito is undeserving of a big fight and has done nothing in boxing to warrant being granted a title shot. Boxing has a long history of granting title shots to undeserving contenders regardless of what one thinks of Margarito’s considerable ring achievements.

Not only, but the criticism extends to Texas, the WBC, Bob Arum who promotes both fighters, and Manny Pacquiao for whom everyone has a favored fighter they want to see him fight.

There’s never been a case of pleasing everyone in the history of this world, but this fight will have a huge gate and even bigger potential as a mega fight given the contrast in histories of the fighters.

The fight is scheduled for November 13, eleven weeks away, so it’s hard to project exactly what will transpire in that period regarding public mood and how the fight will be promoted. One or the other might be injured in training, or any other number of events may cause the fight to fall out or rescheduled.

Pacquiao vs Clottey at Cowboy Stadium

Pacquiao vs Clottey at Cowboy Stadium

The main story is now the fight appears to have a venue after being projected for 3 different locations now that Margarito is licensed. Jerry Jones is quoted as saying he’s positive the final details can be worked out this week and seems primed for a big fight.

So there it is. Read it and weep, celebrate, or schedule your weekend how you see fit.

‘Tis what ‘tis……

Cowboys Forever

Cowboys Forever

Battle of Mixed Martial Arts vs Boxing, Couture vs Toney

Or we could call this the Battle of the UFC vs IBF since those are the two primary professional titles the combatants have held, Randy “The Natural” Couture being the 5x UFC titlist in 2 weight divisions and James “Lights Out” Toney being the 3x IBF titlist in 3 weight divisions.

Couture vs Toney

Couture vs Toney

Or we could call this the battle of grizzled old veterans with Couture being 47 years of age and Toney being 42. Neither is willing to ride off into the sunset without a fight, so, like my old friend Lyndon used to throw out in the slowest, thickest Texas accent imaginable as he drew himself up to his full 6-3 stature……””Well, C’mon!””

That being said, I must confess that I am not the mixed martial arts go to guy, boxing is my thing. Ground and pound and rolling around in the most unseemly positions imaginable does not strike that higher sense of nobility and honor that boxing represents. I preferred the original mma format when the contestants were specialists in one background, like a kick boxer vs a judo black belt or a wrestler against a jui jitsu blackbelt.

I remember one down home feller from San Antone way that made it to the semi finals against Royce Gracie with no better background than behind the bar scraps in Nuevo Laredo.

But he could fight, which was quite enough. That was interesting.

Now the fighters may come out of one background, but they cross train in all the backgrounds, so there are no “purists” left in the sport unless we want to count Toney.

Couture is a former collegiate wrestling champ having grown into the sport in stages, adding on disciplines as he became a fan favorite and legend. Toney comes from a highschool football background and been a boxer all his adult life. He briefly became boxing’s top pound for pound fighter before moving to infamous after literally eating his way out of the 5 divisions he has fought in not to mention being busted twice for steroid use.

So, here we are, UFC 118, that’s 118 UFC promotions as of the conclusion of tonight’s festivities, Couture vs Toney, so how did we get here?

Dana White and his partners deserve a mention here. They have literally created UFC from dust after seeing the success of early mma events staged in Japan. The US of course had a good but limited background in kickboxing and mma prior, but to promote the UFC into the popular successful cult sport it has become speaks to being in the right place at the right time and making the most of opportunity.

All the while, White has weighed in on boxing, alternately offering his views on various fighters or having a pop at the sport. The demographics suggest that there is little overlap in the types of viewers with UFC being very young and boxing’s viewers being closer to Couture’s age than Toney’s age on average.

James Toney, 237 lbs

James Toney, 237 lbs

Couture and Toney deserve some mention for staying somewhat relevant in their aging years, Couture by his deeds and Toney by his mouth. Last I saw Toney in a fight he was literally dropped like a rock by a Fres Oquendo shoulder and rolled out of the ring like a barrel, one of the funniest ring moments ever.

So the UFC fight has something of a farcical quality to it since Toney has no experience in mma save what he has been adding on in training for this fight. It’s widely assumed Couture will avoid a standup fight, taking Toney to the ground at first chance and quickly submit him. Toney doesn’t have a knockout punch, but he has the puncher’s chance in this fight since he has superior punching technique to anyone in UFC history, but can he land a few to turn the fight to his favor?

Like most of the planet who will bother with this, I strongly favor Couture.

Randy Couture, 220 lbs

Randy Couture, 220 lbs

White has set up a win/win for UFC regardless of who wins. Most likely he will rub it in when Couture wins, but if Toney wins, he will only have beaten a much older man well past his best, no big deal. Toney will be moved up the UFC food chain into a bigger promotion where he might be the headliner instead of being cast in a supporting bout. All to ultimately be exposed as a boxing legend not good enough for UFC.

Toney hasn’t been a ranked boxing contender in years, but his rabid fans don’t see it that way, and his mouth don’t see it that way, so the average UFC fan won’t see it that way. He’s legend to all of them which is all that counts to Dana White.

Never say never, so when the smoke clears, we’ll have our answer.

Some may want to stick around for the main event, Frankie Edgar defending against another UFC legend, BJ Penn for the UFC welter belt. That’s gonna be some real action with more fire than smoke.

Easy Work

Easy Work

Little Big Men, Calderon vs Segura

This Saturday we have a special treat when long time champ and modern day legend Ivan “Ironboy” Calderon attempts to unify his WBO jr flyweight title with the WBA title held by Giovanni “The Aztec Warrior” Segura.

The Pose

The Pose

This is a premium time immemorial battle for the ages of two little big men, a Pure Boxer vs Pure Puncher. It is also a battle of many more categories, the best of Puerto Rico against the best of Mexico, the aging sheriff against the prime young gun, Iron Boy against The Aztec Warrior.

Calderon is also holds the Ring belt and Segura is the Ring #1 ranked contender, so who could ask for more?

Ivan Calderon is 35 years old, 100 years old in flyweight years, and a perfect 34-0-1 looking for his matching 35th win in what could well be a Hall of Fame career if he ever decides to hang em up. He’s held a WBO title since he first captured the strawweight title some 7 years ago, 18-0-1 in title fights, more than half his career.

Impressive.

Ivan Calderon

Ivan Calderon

Scraping 5’ tall on a generous day with only 6 knockouts to his credit, it’s safe to say his footwork, angles and counterpunching have proven to be near impeccable to thrive at the top for so long. He has struggled somewhat since moving up a division against hugely bigger, stronger fighters and seems to have lost those youthful sharp edged reflexes that now see him hanging out in the pocket longer for incoming, but he’s still the quickest fighter around and keeps himself well conditioned.

Standing only 5’4”, Giovanni Segura will find himself towering over Calderon come fight night, yet wondering where he is since Calderon will be making himself as scarce as possible to avoid the incoming cannon fire Segura lobs his way while maneuvering for position for his frustrating counter flurries.

Segura at age 28 has impressive credentials with his 24-1-1, 20 KO record and fight ending one punch power that few fighters have survived beyond a few rounds. He’s not the best boxer, but adequate enough to protect himself to set up his big punches.

No way does Segura match the hand and foot speed of Iron Boy, but Segura’s game has always been about timing his big punches, an innate ability that can trump speed when it’s switched on.

Calderon’s unorthodox freewheeling southpaw style is all about disrupting timing and precision, so these fighters’ strengths and weaknesses play into each other’s hands perfectly. The site is Calderon’s favored Puerto Rico hometown style setting, so with his rabid fans at full volume, it seems unlikely Segura could win a decision in a close fight. He will need some knockdowns if not a knockout against a fighter with a perfect record, but Segura may be a special fighter.

Stripped Photo Op

Stripped Photo Op

He quickly avenged his only two blemishes, a draw and loss by big knockouts in the rematches, and he’s won 5 of his last 5 title fights by KO.

I think Segura can do it and history is on his side as the old lion eventually succumbs to the young lion and Calderon has had a look of being on borrowed time of late compared to his prime fine form.

We shall see since you can never count out an undefeated fighter  of Iron Boy’s proven heart and credentials, even on the slide.

Regardless, both fighters and teams deserve full props for putting together a fight of this caliber, so it’s win/win for both from my point of view.

Don’t miss! 

Bare Knucks

Bare Knucks

The Remaking of Tomasz Adamek Into a P4P Fighter.

 For the record which can be confusing, Polish heavyweight Tomasz “Goral” Adamek is the champion being referenced as opposed to his namesake who lost his “z,” Tomas “Jumbo” Adamek who fights in Goral’s old lightheavy division.

Tomasz "Goral" Adamek

Tomasz "Goral" Adamek

Goral is becoming something of a modern day boxing legend as a former fight of the year type lightheavy and cruiserweight champion who is being groomed for a major heavyweight title challenge. As a relocated Polish national living and fighting in the US in a waning era of boxing, he may not tick all the ideal celebrity boxes to be marketed to the larger American general public yet, but he has become a celebrity to Poles across the globe and has serious respect from the boxing community.

Since moving up to heavyweight, he’s picked up a new trainer, Ronnie Shields, to complement Roger Bloodworth, both widely respected in the boxing community, and they are adding even more nuance to Goral’s underrated boxing skills as they transform his body into the ideal targeted heavyweight form they have selected, currently 217lbs.

With all the moaning about the heavyweight division that has gone on for well over century now, the handwringers now have a heavy to soothe their tortured souls if they can only dry their eyes as to watch. Adamek really shows up to fight and he is the most decorated prime fighter in the division not named Klitschko, which is good news for next year when it looks like he will want to challenge one or the other.

Goral vs Grant

Goral vs Grant

First he has to get through the intimidating size, strength and power of Michael Grant, a former highly ranked contender who’s career started to sputter after Lennox Lewis demolished him so many years ago. Standing 6-7, 261 lbs of solidly packed muscle, Grant cannot be so easily dismissed as his critics are want to do with careless language.

Even more impressive is the astounding 86” reach of Grant, somewhere approaching off the scale in heavyweight history. Michael Grant was chosen because of that size that is similar to the Klitschko brothers, with a chin dismissed as glass as is a common Wlad descriptor. The assumption is Grant will fight cautiously to protect that fragile chin, looking for his experience to pick a spot for his big shots which are his only chance in this fight.

Which is pretty much the way the Klitschko brothers fight at a higher level of precision and acclaim, thus the need of Adamek to promote his title challenge to them as a genuine threat with a stellar performance ending in a knockout.

Now, Adamek took a little stick when he announced this fight, and maybe a little more when the when even his own team has confessed to turning down title offers from the brothers, but they feel that they are on a fast enough track by being ready next year, so it’s up to them to take care of business to make it so.

As it is, both the brothers are having to defend against inferior opponents, having previously knocked out all the available highly ranked contenders, leaving them bereft of ranked contenders for the big fights they desire.

So everyone has to take care of business since between the three of them, Wlad, Vitali, and Tomaz. They will be facing big punchers weighing in the 240-270 lb range, and surely everyone knows the biggest danger in the BigBoy division is the Big Punch which has derailed many aspirations.

This is the opportunity for Grant to make one last splash in the heavy division and he has Eddie Mustfa Muhammad in his corner, the former lightheavy champ who trains Chad Dawson among other to counter Ronnie Shields. They have their own dreams and have girded their preparations accordingly.

Adamek won’t win many accolades by winning this fight because he is a wide favorite to do it. However, if he fights one of the brothers and does manage the near impossible, to derail their near impregnable defense and near unmatched offensive capabilities, I would imagine putting him near the top of any p4p list as a 3 division record setting champ knocking off one of the all time champs near his best and giving up considerable size to do it.

That is the definition of what an elite pound for pounder is supposed to stand for. Or Adamek could take an easier route to a mega Klitschko bout by picking up the weak WBA belt.

We shall see soon enough where the dreams and Big Money sweeps the fate of Tomasz Adamek to, but he’s already exceeded many expectations and given inspiration to many, not the least being that he has a pronounceable and easily spelled name, a rarity for a Pole, so there ain’t nothing not to like.

Adamek and Grant are two of the nicer gentlemen of boxing, so we wish them well with a good showing by both in their fight tonight.

Goral

Goral

Breaking: Antonio Margarito Denied a California Boxing License

Today, Antonio Margarito was denied a California boxing license by a 5-1 vote by the California State Athletic Commission.

Antonio Margarito

Antonio Margarito

The hearing was long, approximately 5 hours with several breaks. The CSAC attorney, Karen Chappelle acted as the commish prosecutor, hammering Margarito and his new trainer, Roberto Garcia,  repeatedly questioning their honesty, integrity, and knowledge of the CSAC regulations. She accused both of breaking California’s rule requiring sparring permits that at least one commish member admitted he was unfamiliar with.

Daniel Petrocelli, Margarito’s attorney, did an admirable of job of countering every character assassination to no avail in the end. Everyone was caught off guard by the sudden revelation of the sparring permit rule which apparently has never been enforced. Margarito was very publically promoted in full transparency at some of these sparring sessions.

Every fighter who sparred with him and every trainer who allowed his fighter to spar with Margarito was in violation of California rules as well as 99% of the fighters sparring without a permit in California.

Perhaps everyone on those fighters’  teams including the manager, health care specialists, promoters, hair dresser, you name it and they might be held in violation of the sparring permit rule.

Readers know I previously wrote an open letter to boxing’s ruling bodies questioning the overriding call to block Margarito from obtaining his boxing license after complying with his one year suspension.

https://roberto00.wordpress.com/2010/02/16/open-letter-to-the-association-of-boxing-commissionsabc-and-dick-cole/

It was easy to see how the vote was going to go during the last break with commish members joking and cutting up with each other. Margarito never had a chance on the cards with this set of judges, losing a wide unananimous decision.

Honoring his one year suspension, turning down offers to fight in Mexico and living without means to earn his living turned out to be all for naught.

Apparently, Margarito had best get used to being bounced off the various commission canvases as they knock him about from one jurisdiction to another. His currently scheduled fight with Manny Pacquiao is likely to be fought in Las Vegas or Dallas, so it looks like it’s back to the Nevada State Athletic Commission or the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation  Combative Sports Program run by Dick Cole.

Or Bob Arum can chuck the USA whole thing and have the fight in a Mexico City bullring and set the gate record, but I defer to the actual complexities currently being negotiated rivaling the Cold War Detente to make this fight happen.

Manny Pacquiao has already had Floyd Mayweather pull out of 2 mega fights and may be on his last fight, so he can ill afford his replacement fights having problems now.

Or Pacquiao can chuck the whole fight business since he really has no business fighting now that he’s a newly elected congressman in the Philippines. However, money shouts equally loud in boxing and politics though, so Manny doubtless will find someone eager at a crack for a career payday.

In the meantime, Antonio Margarito will have to find solace in having his day in open court and getting the sole commissioner with boxing experience to vote for his license. The other commission members were as hostile as the “prosecuting attorney” Karen Chappelle was with their questioning.

One commish member bragged about being an “ethics” trainer for CEOs and lauded the integrity of the recently disgraced British Petroleum’s CEO, Tony Hayward, who resigned after a legacy of BP regulatory transgressions, finally concluding with the largest oil spill in world history which has collapsed the storied Gulf Coast fishing and tourist industries for 4 months now, perhaps for a lifetime.

Really!

I don’t make this stuff up folks. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Apparently they want Margarito to do the Tony honour thingy and resign his boxing career, bailing out of all of his problems in a corporate golden parachute, never to surface again, living the life of a gentleman miscreant in Tijuana.

Unbelievable, but sadly too, TOO, all too true.

A Passing of the Torch, Dawson vs Pascal

A rare fight between Ring’s divisional #1 and #2 takes place this Saturday which has all the markings of the traditional passing of the torch of one generation to the next generation on several different levels, not the least being the venue in Montreal, Canada.

The Torch

The Torch

Bad Chad Dawson squares off against local favorite, Jean Pascal for a chance to pick up his old WBC belt.

Dawson won his first title with an excellent performance in lifting Tomasz Adamek’s WBC crown off him 3 years ago, withstanding the highly regarded Adamek’s trademark knockdown and late surge in Dawson’s signature fight. He has since swept the longtime grizzled veterans of the division, Glencoffe Johnson and Antonio Tarver in a classic series of fights where he also picked up the IBF and IBO titles for those who keep a bauble count.

Bad Chad Dawson

Bad Chad Dawson

Dawson has done everything that has been asked of him within reason, yet remains flying under mainstream America’s radar, thus needing to go into Montreal’s lion’s den to lift his old WBC belt off Pascal in a sign of the times for American boxers.

The winner will also pick up Ring Magazine’s lightheavy belt, vacant since Joe Calzaghe retired a few years back.

Jean Pascal picked up Dawson’s old WBC belt last year in a rough tough fight against Adrian Diaconu and has since defended it twice, hanging on with a separated shoulder in the even tougher rematch against Diaconu in his last outing. The Dawson fight represents a comeback from shoulder surgery and rehabilitation, 8 months of ring rust which could perhaps be crucial to the outcome of the fight.

They are otherwise fairly equally matched in ages, Dawson 28 yrs to Pascal’s 27 yrs, and bouts with Dawson being a perfect 29-0, 17 KO, 182 rounds to Pascal’s 25-1, 15 KO and 171 rounds.

Dawson, however, has been at the top longer with more quality rounds against ranked contenders and champs than has Pascal. Dawson is a fundamentally solid boxer/puncher out of the southpaw stance with good height and speed, and if that weren’t enough advantage, former lightheavy champ and now trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad has been directing his training.

Jean Pascal

Jean Pascal

Pascal has to overcome his shoulder surgery and ring rust, but his advantages will be some speed of hand and foot, his hometown, and an unorthodox somewhat freewheeling style that makes fighting him difficult. Dawson will be the best boxer and best fighter he will have faced by a long shot, so Pascal will have to show more discipline and and a better gameplan than he has shown in past efforts.

Should be an interesting clash of styles with the flashy, emotional Haitian transplant Pascal picking up plenty of energy from the Montreal crowd who really get behind their fighters which may well draw out the safety conscious Dawson into some dramatic exchanges with some unseemly brawling that fight crowds love to see in their warriors.

Finally, the new Ring champ will be a young tiger for the first time in ages.

I predict a wide Dawson unanimous decision, but if Pascal has something in reserve he has yet to show in his career, he could sneak in with a dramatic hometown decision with a best effort.

Should be a good’un and could be the start of a much needed series, so there you have it.

Who wants it?

Who wants it?

 

Emerging Talent, Devon Alexander vs Andriy Kotelnik

A low intensity under the wire Don King promotion is coming up this weekend in St Louis, Missouri at the Scottrade Center headlining an emerging, engaging new WBC/IBF 140 lb champion, Devon Alexander defending against former WBA champion, Andriy Kotelnik.

Alexander vs Kotelnik

Alexander vs Kotelnik

The 140 lb junior welterweight division has transformed into boxing’s hottest with the emergence of the 23 yr old Alexander, Gary Bradley, Marcos Maidana, and Amir Khan, all youthful and full of talent, but the perpetual question forever remains in boxing as to whether they will ever fight each other because of promoter rivalries?

Perhaps, but for now young Alexander has a major hurdle in defending against a very tough, very technically sound Ukrainian, Kotelnik, who is used to traveling for big fights, yet just now making his American debut at age 32.

On paper, it seems the most important advantages point to Alexander being younger, faster, and more powerful, a combination that has been traditionally difficult to beat, but not impossible. Kotelnik has been an under promoted, under appreciated  block of what Americans call faceless East European fighters who have emerged enmasse since the end of The Cold War and the break up of the Soviet Empire.

Andriy Kotelnik, however, is the more experienced fighter with 35 fights and 256 rounds in the bank compared to Alexander’s 20 fights and 106 rounds and at age 32 coming off a tough loss of his WBA crown to Amir Khan in England, Kotelnik remains a hungry, viable contender. He is also the 2000 Olympic lightweight silver medalist, so with a record of 31-3-1 and never having been stopped, he has a long record of excellence that cannot be sneered away for being unknown in America.

From the few bouts I’ve seen of Kotelnik, his style is that of being ring center and counter punching primarily from a sound defensive stance. Khan took his belt by taking flight while peppering him with a fusillade of popcorn, but I doubt Alexander would employ this style since Kotelnik’s biggest weakness is his lack of power, only a 37% knockout percentage with only 1 KO win out of his last 6 fights.

Alexander has the opposite “problem” after having won the last 5 of 6 by stoppage, he may be falling in love with his power and underestimate what a tough fight that Kotelnik really is. Kotelnik stood up against wincing, crunching shots by one of the most powerful p4p punchers in boxing, Marcos Maidana, and slowly worked his way back into that fight by sheer will and technical excellence.

No sir, this is no cupcake homecoming defense for Alexander, however it must also be noted that Alexander is the only fighter to have ever stopped Junior Witter and Juan Urango, and these in his last two fights when he first burst upon the champion’s podium, thus the dilemma.

The Irresistible Force is going straight up against The Immovable Object.  

Which may also describe the supporting bout where another young emerging champion, Tavoris Cloud with his 90% knockout percentage puts his undefeated record and Lightheavy IBF title on the line against always tough veteran, The Road Warrior, Glencoffe Johnson who’s stood up to heavy fire against his era’s best. They are the two large bookends in the above photo.

The televised card could scarcely ask for two more action oriented fights than this, so you might want to tune in.