Monthly Archives: November 2015

Wladimir Klitschko Psychoanalyzing Tyson’s Fury~Finally, It’s On!

Wladimir Klitschko defends his plethora of belts against Tyson Fury, Saturday, Oct. 24 in ESPRIT arena, Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany. Finally, the big lunk Fury gets his chance after being a mandatory for a few years to no avail. He’s in his 4th year of the rankings in Ring, yet by circumstances beyond his control, some showy, big money fights fell out on him, so he ended up shunted aside as all his preparations and financial expectations fell upon barren, rocky grounds.

Yet another one of those odd circumstances took a bite out of Fury again after an injured tendon in the tender Wlad calf muscle set the fight back a month. That recalls for me an interesting parallel to George Foreman’s sparring gash by an elbow while training for the Ali fight in Zaire that set that fight back about 5 weeks. In honor of the potential of this fight, I filed a rehash of that fight where boxing routines normally followed in America got turned on their heads in Zaire. Link:

https://roberto00.wordpress.com/2015/11/24/rumble-in-the-jungle-aliforeman-vs-tysonfurywladimir-klitschko/

There is no doubt this will be one of the biggest Wlad fights, perhaps his biggest ever if the fight really takes off in the ring. The 27 year old Fury attracts a highly virulent crowd of both his detractors, and his fans, drawn by his high action fights allayed with his big, brash, Irish Traveler braggadocio, but he’s got a huge task in dethroning a juggernaut like a Klitschko much like Ali had against Foreman. Wlad has beaten 7 undefeated heavies in title bouts and going for his Henry the 8th against the undefeated Fury, currently at 24-0, 18 KO. Additionally, if the switch hitting Fury decides to go all lefty or switch stances repeatedly as he sometimes does, Wlad could notch his 9th title fight against lefties, way more than any previous heavyweight champ and likely more than any champion in any weight class. Wlad has been literally fighting at the emergence of a new era of heavyweight boxing where lefties in all divisions have been making incredible history. The really big men of today have also been able to better leverage their size and strength advantages thanks to 12 round title limits and new scoring rules that give extra credit to knockdowns. Very few “200-215” lb heavies exist anymore at the higher end of the spectrum because so few are able to survive the career fight to fight to fight gauntlet of big men to get to the top.

Warning: The as yet unwritten drama for this final script is currently being conjured up by the capricious Fates just as worldwide boxing respect is being reached for Wlad. He has started breaking heavyweight records held by legendary Joe Louis, yet he has not looked so stellar his last two fights. Sure, he brutally knocked out Kubrat Pulev, but took at least a couple dozen or more rabbit shots in the clinches, a poor defensive effort that could have telling repercussions down the road, like maybe against Fury. Moreover a torn left bicep postponed that fight, so when he finally did enter the ring, his bicep looked strangely sick, twisted, and contorted compared to his previous healthy state, so maybe Father Time has started to extract his cut from the 39 year old Wlad now. It also took him a while to get untracked against the speedy defensive style that Bryant Jennings unveiled, in short, surprise, surprise, the old man bones may be taking longer to warm into a fight.

Vs Bryant Jennings

Vs Bryant Jennings

Then there is the dilemma of his wife’s postpartum depression after giving birth to their child. Married family life sometimes becomes highly distracting at critical times in life. Is this one of those times?

Though Tyson Fury is much derided by the public, perhaps justly given his brazen,  inflammatory diatribes and his physical tendency towards flabbiness, make no mistake, this is one of the purest fighters today, and he can box as good as he wants when needed. He can fight inside or outside, lefty or righty or switch as he sees fit, punch in dynamic combinations or brawl and maul. At 6-9, you can bet he has underrated power and strength that seemingly flows without any noticeable effort. Even as a youngster he had good stamina, fast hands, and quick feet for such a towering fighter, a very relaxed fighter in the ring. He’s in his element and it shows since only John McDermot when he was barely a 21 year old novice has ever been able to extend him. He’s biggest mistakes have been defensively since he loves to put on a show, so very aggressively comes forward without a care as to the consequences. Anti-social media monkeys love to ride him about his glass jaw after being knocked down a couple of times, but Joe Louis used to get dropped a fair amount also. Ali was dropped hard early in his career by 190 lb fellow prospect Sonny Banks, and then really hard by the 175 lb much beloved Brit, Henry Cooper, a fight so controversial that it’s still being contested to this very day some 52 years later, so at least Fury’s in good company in being defensively lax at times, but only for now as his prime career is starting into full swing. His critics are near in a frenzy as they pray for a major slip up for them to savage.

Dr. Steelhammer’s take on Fury: 

“I think he’s bipolar and not really knowing what he’s doing next. He doesn’t’ really have a plan. I’ve been observing him the past few weeks, and I’ve seen him with his behavior and how he acts. There are some major issues.”

“I can change him and make a better person when he faces me,” Klitschko said. “I have made David Haye a better person from fighting me and he confirmed it.”

Cassius Kugan interview with Tyson’s pop, the notorious John Fury at his caravan, a real cracker of Irish Traveler culture and promotion this one.

Big John Fury

Big John Fury

As to how this fight plays out, Fury’s trainer, his uncle Peter is very savvy and likely also noticed Wlad’s slow starts, so why not drop a blizzard on him from the opening bell and see how he handles it. Obviously Fury has to be more disciplined than in his previous fun and games outings, and if it doesn’t work, Fury can just back off the pace and box at range to keep the old man running through his paces. Pulev was too macho for his own good, and Jennings too small and too light hitting to really make any inroads on Wlad, but Fury has the natural attributes to put it to Wlad like nobody has been able to do in ages, especially after heaping plenty of Irish blarney to get under Wlad’s skin in the prefight buildup.

One exceedingly notable exception to this fight would be very exceptional indeed when Cecilia Braekhus defends her titles against Ramona Kuehne on the undercard. I won’t watch women’s boxing, never have and never will, but these two would be worth going out on a long run with for the testosterone boost alone not to mention the titillation factor…WOW!

Lady Cecilia

Lady Cecilia

Ms. Ramona

Ms. Ramona

Alas, it appears the rescheduling has knocked Ms Ramona off the card, instead being replaced by a certain Ornella Domini. Sounds like The Fates got a mite jealous over that beauty contest.

Naturally I still strongly favor Wlad since Fury’s mental discipline has yet to be tested at this, the highest level he’ll likely ever fight at. Be interesting to see how they adapt to each other as I don’t think Wlad will be able to tie up Fury so much as he does other fighters. Be cool also if this turned into fight of the year. True, boxing’s biggest fights this year have turned out to be actionless duds, but, hey, we can dream can’t we?

Sizing Each Other Up

Sizing Each Other Up

 

 

Rumble In The Jungle: Ali/Foreman vs TysonFury/Wladimir Klitschko

In honor of the impending heavyweight fight of the millennium between Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury, or at least what we the people do hope to see out of this injury delayed fall dustup, let us recall the memories of one of the most poorly organized, yet all time heroic heavyweight fall classics of the modern era that had a similar injury delay. That would be The Rumble In The Jungle, George Foreman vs Muhammad Ali back in 1974, 41 amazing years ago.

What a horrible place to hold a fight, a 3rd world, backwater African state, Zaire, run by a brutally unrepentant kleptocrat, Mobutu. Out of the billions he stole from his impoverished, terrorized people, his $5 million guaranteed purse each for George and Ali was but mere miscellaneous loose change rattling round his pockets, yet the publicity turned out to be priceless for Mobutu.

We know now that the conditions were even worse than we suspected back then. To put it bluntly in modern hindsight, Big George was never going to beat Ali in Zaire. All the cards were stacked against him from the gitgo when all The Fates and half the Zaire locals conspired to shove pins into his voodoo mockup doll likenesses to weaken his spirit. As soon as he arrives, the locals were already riled up against him after having Ali whip up their animosity over the many weeks before. “Ali boma ye,” screamed out at him, translated as “Ali kill him,” and those shouts tormented the Big Guy wherever he went from his first to last day in Zaire. During the wrap up of the acclimation and training process, a light sparring session typically consisting of generally going through the moves with the fight so close, he was suddently caught a strategically placed elbow speared across his brow, a really nasty gash that delayed the fight some 5 weeks. He’s now stuck in a country ruled by the brutal Motubu who has invited the challenger, Ali, to live and be feted in the presidential palace while George, the champ, is put up in a local army barrack so as to properly know his place in this fight.

A Good Buddy

A Good Buddy

Thousands of AK47 packing soldiers are milling about everywhere, feasting their eyes on him, waiting for any untoward move that their president might not like. He’s not allowed to leave the country to seek treatment in France, in effect being held a hostage in a dangerous, hostile environment. Obviously he cannot spar and risk reopening the cut, so his training is reduced to the heavy bag and runs. At least he eventually managed to upgrade his living quarters to the local hotel, a big step forward for civilization in this backwater.

Then Angelo Dundee loosens the ropes before the fight as he tried to do against Frazier in the Fight of the Century three years earlier. The ring is built over the prison and his dressing room is in a dungeon where untold thousands were tortured to death. How many echos of the dead and dying rang out for the sensitive Big Man, billed by era tabloid boxing media as some kind of monstrous, primeval beast in spite of having a philosophical, religious sort of  fun loving sensitivity that he was never credited with until he later returned from his self imposed decade of exile. The bout is held in the dead of the early morning hours, 4 AM local time so as to be broadcast primetime hours on closed circuit TV in America. Some 60,000 screaming African meemmies in the stands add to his uneasiness.

Jeez, he’s been held hostage in Africa for ages now and the fight has yet to start.

Now George is desperate to fight so he can vacate this hellhole. His trainer, Dick Saddler, had been using a neat trick guaranteed to make Foreman especially brutal in quicktime when the bell rang by dehydrating and starving him before the weighin, rendering him crazy mad before launching him on hapless opponents. Only this time just before fight time, Saddler gives him a small bottle of water that George greedily inhales before spitting the remnants out it was so foul tasting.

When I saw the opening minutes of the fight, George looked like some kind of dead zombie, so much so that my first thoughts were screaming out inside of me that he was drugged. George Plimpton had a similar reaction as noted by his friend Norman Mailer when he screamed out at ringside that the fight was fixed after seeing George lurch around like a clumsy mummy, ironically Ali’s nickname for him, as Ali peppered him with rapidfire nothing shots that scored points. After a few rounds, George seemed to shake off his stupor and get into the fight to really lay it on Ali, some really vicious body shots that Ali later admitted to his biographer had him out on his feet a couple times, yet a few rounds later Big George tired almost to a standstill. Just as announcers were certain that George had punched himself out and was done, he got his second wind and returned to pound on Ali in the 8th. As Foreman trapped Ali on the ropes, he threw a left hand that Ali slipped. The missed momentum of the punch left George awkwardly facing down over the ring apron with his neck stretched over the rope, about the most vulnerable position a tired fighter could ever wish to never be in.

Now, Ali had been looking really hard at this shot the whole fight every time George missed, yet always held back, holding back, and keep on holding back until now, the perfect moment in time during a really brutal fight. Ali jumped on it. He delivered a beautifully timed right handed rabbit punch to the back of George’s noggin that violently compressed his throat, neck arteries, and veins against the top rope resulting in a momentary loss of blood flow to the brain with a localized spike of blood pressure as George rebounded off the ropes in a crazy, hazy, daze of confusion. Quick as a flash Ali finished with a highlight combination for the ages that has been shown a billion times no doubt, culminating in a perfect right hand to George’s temple as he did a lurching pirouette on the way to the canvas.

No dramatist could ever dream up such a scenario as the great monster lay wounded, the first time he had ever touched the canvas as amateur or pro. George was cognizant though, watching his corner for instructions as he was trained to do, so when they signaled to rise, he rose after 9 secs on the clock had lapsed, however the ref,  Zach Clayton, waved him off, leaving him in effect as it turned out, permanently frozen out of the title picture by Ali. It was never supposed to end like that for such powerful 25 year old fighter, and it shouldn’t have ended like that, but it did.

As an unrated 19 year old 1968 Mexico Olympic hopeful, Big George competed at the grueling altitude of some 7200 foot altitude tainted with some really bad smog with no problems, winning the gold medal in spectacular knockout style, the ultimate natural fighting man. After this fight, his critics forever stereotyped him as the big slugger with stamina problems who couldn’t go the distance and quit boxing.

The newly reincarnated Ali had defied all the odds for the 2nd time in his career, but almost immediately collapsed in the aftermath for a 30 count that gave great cause for concern by his team. Ali’s personal physician, Ferdie Pacheco, flatly stated that Ali took far too much punishment in that bout, that it was too risky for him to fight George ever again.

Ali in his Playboy interview after the fight says he was offered $7.5 million for the Foreman rematch in Djakarta, Indonesia, by a black oilman who wanted to promote his country, yet five months later for $1.6 million he’s going against a liquor salesman, Chuck Wepner, in Richfield, Ohio of all places, pretty much proving Ferdie’s point. George was out of the picture and Ali was willing to fight much easier fights in Podunkville, except that he never made them look easy because he could no longer train so exquisitely as he had been able in his prime, generally a tubby shadow of his best.

On ABC Duty in Yeller Suit...

On ABC Duty in Yeller Suit…

After moping around in a depressive funk over being unable to secure the Ali rematch, something George had already stated he wanted the immediate rematch in the post fight interview, Ali remained as uncommitted as he was in his post fight interview when he put the questioner off. So finally George starts to regroup from scratch. On April, 26th, 1975, he waged a remarkable exhibition against Alonzo JohnsonJerry JudgeTerry Daniels, Charley Polite, and Boone Kirkman at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Canada, broadcast on ABC Wide World of Sports. Foreman knocked out Johnson, Judge, and Daniels, but Polite and Kirkman were able to survive all three rounds. Ringside commentator Howard Cosell, repeatedly deplored the event as an embarrassment, a circus sideshow act, yet there he was in Toronto in his official capacity complete with yeller ABC sport jacket droning endlessly in melodramatic maliciousness as George took on the five.  Muhammad Ali, who was working the ringside next to Cosell, repeatedly heckled Foreman as the crowd of about 5,500 alternately booed and cheered Foreman throughout. Occasionally they even stirred up for some chants that Ali led. At least they had a wonderful time, but not Big George with Ali and the press demeaning him.

Ali finally got so worked up as he often did during the “theatrical” portions of his career, that he turned outright nasty, jumping up to call George horribly vile things, screaming over and over that he was never going to get a rematch as security restrained him from entering the ring. Thought Howie was sure to lose his toupee in the ruckus. Would’ve been hilarious and offset Howie’s suffocatingly, overbearing officiousness as well as add contrast to Ali’s vicious outbursts.

So he publicly refused to rematch Big George, yet there he was in Tokyo at the start of the very next year in the most pitiful boxing “exhibition” by a world champ ever seen against renown Japanese martial artist, Antonio Inoki, who had to be repeatedly pulled off Ali all night in this 15 rounder by American judo legend Gene Labelle. Because of the stifling rules limitations on him, Inoki was mostly reduced to a crab like scurrying around the ring on his back as he repeatedly kicked out Ali’s left leg, taking him down twice and hurting him so badly that he ended up in the hospital on a death watch. Ali never landed the few punches he attempted, his best offensive effort being an extension of his Toronto screaming mimmies, ie, “Inoki girl, Inoki girl” epitaphs. Docs ended up debating on whether to amputate his legs to prevent leg clots from breaking loose that could hurtle fatally into his brain. Ali managed to dodge the biggest bullet of his career in the end to return somewhat shakily to boxing. That fight did him no favors at all as far as his overall health and declining abilities in the ring showed.

Tyson Fury of course has a long ways to go to match up to the legends of Ali and Big George, but folks have an unfortunate way of forgetting that they also started off without legendary status in the beginning. Wlad has certainly earned legendary status as he enters the Joe Louis legendary heavyweight title record domain. His longstanding problem in the US/UK market was of being the wrong color, the wrong nationality, the wrong intelligence, and beating up Americans so badly in his reign they finally relinquished over 100 years of heavyweight superiority for something akin to Grade C inferior status.

Now Wlad may have an opportunity of an exciting career signature fight against Fury, who despite his woeful critics, is one of the most genuine “true fighters” in this dying era filled with posers and other pussyfooted, featherdusters. Fury is equipped with plenty of physical attributes, swag, size, and reach, that of being 6-9 in height with a 85″ reach backed a general weight range of 245-260 lbs.

Fury laying on a touch of Irish blarney

Fury laying on a touch of Irish blarney

He’s not limited to size either in that his stamina has never failed him, nor his chin, nor his punches. He has a high work rate for big men, and thus far, his ring IQ has pulled him out of the few mistakes he has made that give rabid succor to his sworn critics. He’s young, he’s cocksure, he’s breezy about the chance. Plenty of fans are sleeping on this fight, convinced he’ll be easy work for Wlad. Possibly, but if he steps out of his own considerable shadow with his personal best ever fight, could be a long era of history ended and a new history begun. It’s a long stretch to think this fight could ever match the Rumble in the Jungle, but boxing has a strange history of the biggest upsets that nobody expects.

Lookee here, Ma, it's Batman Fury to the rescue!

Lookee here, Ma, it’s Batman Fury to the rescue!

 

 

 

 

CC Your Buds~Canelo vs Cotto Is ON!

Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas will be exploding come Saturday, November 21st when Saul Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Angel Cotto renew the historical Mexican vs Puerto Rican family feud with a real fight, can you believe it, a real fight in America? Who’d have ever thunk it in this faint hearted day and age of posers, duckers, and bawling punch monkey darlings? Could even be a fight for the ages, but at very least we know from their pedigrees it’ll be good as long as it lasts.

The new promotional kid on the block, Roc Nation, and Golden Boy will share promotional honors after a heart stopping, grueling set of negotiations with Cotto who has lately become something  diva, one of the concessions needed being the 155-pound catchweight. Up for grabs will be Cotto’s Ring Belt and the WBC middleweight belt that he is reported as earning $30 million to defend compared to Canelo’s $10 million. I would have thought the purses would be roughly even after their similar recent PPV numbers, but such is another huge concession that Canelo takes for the opportunity of a lifetime.

Canelo Pounds Kirkland

Canelo Pounds Kirkland

Luckily Canelo has been well priming himself for this big bout at 155 with his last three outings at the weight where he did quite well for himself, knocking the doggie biscuits out of Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland and forcing Erislandy Lara into a shameless run, shuck, and jive for survival.

Meanwhile, Cotto hasn’t been doing too shabby himself with conclusive knockouts of Sergio Martinez and Daniel Geale. Why he insisted on a silly 159lb catchweight against Martinez? Because he can call more shots at this stage of his career. In making the Geale fight at 157lb, now I could understand as that’s a sweet three pounds under the middleweight limit, but I don’t think those catchweights affected the results anymore than this one at 155lbs will. However, if the winner tries to make Gennady Golovkin make 155, that could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Cotto might try for that kind of fight, but I think Canelo is ready to move up permanently to the full 160 where he obviously belongs if he wins this, but their futures are not ours to see. First things first.

Cotto Pounds Money

Cotto Pounds Money

In a bad sign of the declining times for Andre Ward, amazingly only 31 years of age and wasting his career away, he is supposed to be fighting another light heavyweight type opponent. Ahh, ha you say, another TBA sacrificial lamb for the needy Ward is it again? Yup, dragged him all the way kicking and screaming out of Oakland they did for this. He can’t even make the cut for the main supporting bout of the night anymore, just pitiful. His heart must be buried in that big load sagging his shorts for this farce, but it’s his career to fritter away, so be it.

Oh, yes and oh, no, so now he can’t even glove it up for his TBA after having a knee problem, so looks like Mr. TBA will just have to wait until 2016 to find Ward in a ring…maybe. What a loss to TBA boxing!

So enter yet another faint hearted P4P poser added to the undercard, Guillermo Rigondeaux , reportedly fighting a last minute TBA, Drian Francisco. World P4P rated by Haymon/Golden Boy News of the Ring Word and still fighting TBAs is it? Such is the fainthearted nature of boxing these days.

As to the otherworldly compelling main event, I strongly favor Canelo. Cotto’s older brother, also named Miguel, managed to rock the teenaged Canelo, slumping him for maybe a second before he recovered quickly to blast the senior Cotto to smithereens shortly thereafter, so could be Cotto has some younger brother payback working here his motivation. Even in his losses, nobody ever had an easy time against Cotto who has added significant caginess to his game to compensate for his fall from the absolute top of his prime. Problem being that Canelo is immensely stronger and even more experienced than Cotto by now, yet still very young and fresh. Simply put, he’s never been beat up. However, trying to walk through Cotto from the gitgo may well be the equivalent of trying to walk through a truck, so I expect Canelo to take his time warming into the fight as a boxer as does Cotto. Then all Hell gets unleashed for the finale.

Yes Sir, Freddie Roach has got Cotto boxing smarter than ever, and Canelo is a high level boxer, so this should be a traditional, high level stakes, aggressive, ring centered boxing display with plenty of applied hurt and heart. Neither comes out completely unscathed in this one, yet the fans may count themselves lucky to remember where they were on this monumental night if the fight is as good as is hoped.

 

First Boxer To Win MMA Title, The Preacher’s Daughter, Holly Holm, KOs Ronda Rousey

The photo that follows this commentary demonstrates the reason I don’t watch women’s combat sports, never have and never will. That said, the incredible spunk, will, and determination to master yet another sport shown by former Kickboxer, Boxing Champion, and now UFC bantamweight belt holder, Holly Holm, deserves some serious plaudits. Her spectacular knockout of media darling Ronda Rousey is everywhere, the first champion boxer to win an MMA title, and she’s a grrl!

I’d also note that after all the media attention given to the unprecedented rise of Rousey in the UFC ranks with the lack of given to Holms in the boxing ranks, both have shown more cajones in the ring and octagon in promoting their sport than the recently retired TUE, 49-0 ever did for men’s boxing, man being the inoperative word here.

Rousey even made the rounds at combat sports averse NPR in advance of this fight here:

http://www.npr.org/2015/08/26/434939026/from-quiet-kid-to-trash-talking-titan-ronda-rouseys-year-speaks-for-itself

Much derision now comes Rousey’s way by the usual low browed, anti-social media misanthropes ganging up on the brave loser as they jump on the bandwagon to bleat out their poison for the winner, a sad statement of the human condition. A fantastic outcome for Ms. Holm nonetheless. Ms. Rousey certainly has no shortage of Hollywood projects and corporate promotions to complete before her next venture into the Octagon. I figure she could retire tomorrow and never lose a beat as to all the opportunities that have opened up to her.

As to Ms. Holm, well, down goes the Queen and say hello to the new Queen. Pretty good work if you can get it, congrats.

 

Top of the Food Chain, Joe Louis or Muhammad Ali?

 

These kind of discussions over the internet tend to favor moderns who are want to express opinions without context or factual basis as to why their hero is is #1.

Bert Sugar perhaps infamously chose Cleveland fullback Jim Brown for his all time greatest athlete. Never mind that teammate Marion Motley has a higher career rushing average and did it basketball hightops because no football cleats could be found then to fit his monstrous feet. Motley could also clear out the defense in support of his running back and quarterback, hard, gritty work that was beneath Brown, and Motley also pulled fulltime duty as linebacker, a two way, 60 minute player, something the coddled Brown was never good for. But of course Brown was also such a great lacrosse player, never mind that Wilt Chamberlain proved in two footraces that he was significantly faster than Brown and could turn him upside down to shake all his change loose at will not to mention being a collegiate, multi-event track and field star during his down time from basketball. Wilt a world class volleyball player in his retirement, the best in his day. Wilt didn’t even like basketball because of it’s stupid rules and the stupid media always pestering him, but it was the most lucrative option for him, so he made the best of it as a record setter both on offense and defense. Even did a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters before his NBA career, damned hard to top that.

Now modern media “experts” claim Michel Jordan is the best athlete ever, never mind he wasn’t even a mediocre division B minor league baseball player and only a modestly endowed golfer. Jim Thorpe, fresh off an Indian reservation, won both Pentathlon and Decathlon Olympic gold medals in Sweden, then played major league baseball for several years before co-founding and becoming the first ever star of the National Football League. It don’t get any better than that as an athlete, but moderns just shrug and say, Jim Who?

So, here we go, Bobby Mac’s Facts Update, just the facts ma’am, so:

What are the career records of Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali?

Joe 66-3, 52 KO vs Ali 56-5, 37 KO

OK, clearly Joe is vastly superior, but there are records and then there are RECORDS, so let’s delve deeper.

ProDebut:

Joe, age 20 yrs, 1 month, 22 days, coming off winning the United States National AAU tournament with a final record of 50-4, 43 KO, debuted @ 181 lbs against Jack Kracken, 27-7-3, in the “city of the big shoulders,” Chicago, July 4th, 1934, US Independence Day. Drops Kracken in the opening seconds and then blasts him through the ropes into the lap of the shocked Illinois commish to formally announce to the world the transformation from Joe Barrow to Joe Louis. Has there ever been a better boxing debut than that? Prior he was no more than a po’ sharecropper’s boy from Podunk, Alabama. The $59 depression purse went a long ways in those days, the most money he had ever earned in his life.

Ali, age 18 yrs, 9 months and 12 days, coming off Olympic Lightheavy Gold glory with a multitude of final ama record claims, debuts @ 192 lbs, October 29th, 1960, in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky against Tunney Hunsaker, 16-9-1, a Sunday School teacher and police chief of Fayetteville, West Virginia. Ali touched up Hunsaker some with a bloody nose and cut eye for a 6 round unanimous decision and a healthy $2000 purse for the day. Solid hometown pro debut for such a young kid, but no comparison to the spectacular 4th of July fireworks set off by Joe.

Da Preem vs Joe Louis

Da Preem vs Joe Louis

Longest Title reign and record:

Joe 11 years, 252 days, 26-0, 23 KOs vs Ali three combined title runs of 3 years, 63 days + 3 years, 108 days + 284 days = 7 years, 90 days, 22-2. OK, but Joe had three more title fights, 1 competitive decision loss to Charles in his comeback and a knockout of Lee Savold who held the BBBC version of the split title + the last white heavy belt, and a competitive KO loss to Marciano for a final title record of 27-2 vs Ali’s humiliation KO loss to Holmes for a final title record of 22-3.

Now, if we extend out the Ali years up to the first Frazier fight, they’d be just short of Joe, but, remember, Ali also relinquished his Ring belt early so his good buddy Jimmy Ellis could fight for it. Ring never awarded the belt to Ellis yet kept Ali as Champion through 1969. Joe is still superior.

First and last Ring Top 10 ratings:

Joe #1 in his first year of eligibility, age 20 vs Ali #9 in his first year of eligibility, age 19.

Joe #1 when he challenged Champion Charles in 1950, age 36, and #6 against #2 Marciano in 1951, age 37. Ali was last ranked as Champion in 1978, age 36.

Joe clearly superior though Ali managed to slide into Ring ratings a year earlier than Joe because of his earlier debut.

HOF fights:

Joe 13 such fights, 10-3 9 KO vs Ali 14 such fights, 11-3, 8 KO. Joe with 2 KO losses vs Ali with 1 KO loss.

Joe earliest HOFer and win @ age 21 yr, 4 month, 11 days over Baer vs Ali earliest HOFer and win @ age 20 yr, 9 months, 28 days over Moore.

Joe last HOF win @ age 37 yr, 3 month and a day over Blivins vs Ali last HOF win @ age 34 yr, 8 months, 11 days over Ken Norton, a hotly disputed decision.

Ali with tiny edge in total HOF fight, Joe with KOs, and Ali with one less KO loss. Joe a few months older for first HOF fight vs Ali a bit younger, but Joe considerably older for last HOF win than Ali. They both lost their last HOF fights by KO, but Joe in his 8th fight over 10 months in his 37th year gave Marciano all he could handle for 8 rounds vs Ali out of retirement carried mercifully by Holmes trying to get the fight stopped with no damage to Ali. Joe definitely finished the stronger fighter overall.

Controversial fights:

Joe only had two, the first Buddy Baer and JJWalcott fights which he quickly avenged with savage KOs in the rematches vs far too many controversial fights for Ali, really too embarrassing to mention that he always benefited from every controversy. Big advantage Joe who consistently took care of business in a more professional way than did Ali who needed a lot of help from the suits.

Unified America behind him:

Joe

Split up America over him:

Ali

Won a Supreme Court Decision:

Ali, of course, major props and maybe the highlight of his life.

Young Cassius

Young Cassius “The Greatest” Clay

Summoned to the White House by the President for consultation on impending military desegregation policy:

Joe, the one and only.

Inspiration for the two most prominent black civil rights spokesmen in history:

Both Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela count Joe Louis as providing the inspiration for a higher dignity and purpose of what their people people might achieve if allowed their civil rights.

Who loses to Leon?

Ali, of course. Joe on his worst day in shackles and blindfolded could never lose to Leon.

Now, lest this take on a wholly one sided analysis, in general most fans would agree that Joe Frazier and George Foreman are better than the best Joe took on, but Ali never really showed he was better than Frazier. Most can finally admit Joe whooped the holy jinn out of him the first fight, and did it in spite of referee Mercante near poking out his only good eye midway through the fight. The second fight was competitive and close, and the third a happenstance of incredible good fortune when Frazier’s scout couldn’t make it from Ali’s corner to Frazier’s corner to tell them Ali was quitting. Joe was on his feet bouncing around like a rubber ball waiting to be unleashed when Eddie Futch pulled the plug as Ali stood up and collapsed. Nor could the terribly grievous conditions in Zaire that all favored Ali ever be replicated, thus no rematch with George who only spent 9 seconds on the canvas in his first career knockdown, yet was counted out. Compare to Ali who collapsed seconds later for a 30 count that took his legions to elevate him over to his corner.

Yeah, and maybe Sonny Liston was better than Joe’s best too, but Joe could easily beat a fighter who quit on his stool and take a dive as well as the next guy, so let’s keep it real…over and out.

 

 

Timothy Bradley vs Brandon Rios @ Crossroads

Current WBO welter champ Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley, 32-1-1, 12 KO, and former titlist Brandon Rios, 33-2-1, 23 KO, will tee it up Saturday, November 7, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas in what is being marketed as something of a war.

Desert Storm vs Bam Bam

Desert Storm vs Bam Bam

Unfortunately, this may well turn out to be a track meet by Bradley who continues to suffer from serious blows to his noggin that seem to have diminished his former capacity to fight at the highest level. In his last outing, the light hitting prospect Jessie Vargas had enough in him to knockout Bradley had they been officiated in a fair fight. Unfortunately, California has it’s own pitiful referees to match Vegas, so after a big punch slumped Bradley badly to the ropes with just enough time to finish him off as Vargas flurried furiously in the waning seconds of the fight, referee Pat Russell waived off the fight to stop the punishment, a clear TKO victory for Vargas.

But wait, wait, this is boxing we’re talkin’ about. Boxing reserves the right to reverse any decision in a moments notice regardless of merit with no deference to the existing rules or to the resulting controversy.

The ridiculous Russell seemingly heard ding-dongs chiming in his noggin, claiming to have heard the final bell, which is quite loud and distinctive so as to be heard over the din of sound created by the crowd suddenly lurched to their feet by the impending upset after what had been a sure lopsided decision for Bradley. Russell’s TKO verdict was promptly overruled by, ahem, himself, and, whew, close call that one. The easily bruised, sacrificial lamb in waiting, Bradley, was successfully delivered up somewhat lopsided to this date for yet another banana skin slip’em up.

Sadly, Top Rank has been propping up Bradley past his sell date after Manny beat his legs and confidence out of him in their first fight only to lose the Robbery of the Century in Vegas. Bradley wasn’t a draw back then, but the controversy made him more marketable to other fighters and fans who saw the damaged goods as I saw him. It didn’t help Bradley that the public turned on him like rabid dogs complete with death threats and a dearth of hate mail that put him in a depressive funk as anyone would suffer, he has my sympathies in that regard, after all, the decision was rendered by the typical suspect boxing judges, not by him in an otherwise courageous fight just to survive on two injured legs.

Ruslan Provodnikov was next in line after Pacquiao to get robbed, yupsir, by the same goof Pat Russell who can’t ever seem to figure what the hell is ever going on the ring. Ruslan caught Bradley in the opening round with a shotgun blast that sent Bradley to his knees clutching at Ruslan in a futile effort to stay up. Incredibly, Russell ruled a slip, and no sooner had Bradley gotten up from his “slip” than he fell into the best drunken chicken break dance since Zab Judah got one punched by Kostya Tzyzu a several years back and went down again. That’d be two knockdowns by Ruslan with one punch if boxing ever kept score that way, but he never got credit for even the single knockdown for thanks to Russell’s boner that would’ve made Ruslan the victor, not Bradley.

Most reputable refs would have stopped the bout for a Ruslan KO win right then and there, but sadly reputable and referees and boxing seldom meet in this current boxing climate.

No siree, no commie Ruskie is gonna take down an American in Russell’s court of law, so then equally blind judges awarded the “close” bout to Bradley who mostly ran around to avoid getting creamed further until his legs finally gave out and he was caught again in the last round. In his next bout Bradley got the best of a very close exchange early on with the 40 year Juan Manuel Marquez, yet then chose to run for the rest of the incredibly boring, non-participatory bout by Bradley who used to relish the good fight, but no more. Marquez was disgusted at the tactics and the decision, but then again, why should Bradley take any unnecessary chances against this new BALCO trained monstrous version of Marquez?

I can sort of see his point of view for that, but then he lost the rematch to Pacquiao where he looked utterly clueless again, almost club fighter like, and then on to a draw against an awkwardly strong club fighter, Diego Gabriel Chaves. In spite of his stellar record on paper, he lost his Ring P4P ranking in their recent staff shakeup and has further dropped down to 15th in Boxrec. Bradley used to be the alpha dog in the ring, dictating the pace and the style, but no more. His destiny now seems hellbent to cultivating the beta side of him as his physical advantages over opponents slowly decline.

So here he is against Rios who is a big, strong, powerful, pressure fighter with reasonably quick feet when on pursuit. Bradley has to run to maybe survive since he can no longer handle this kind of punching power or pressure, but now he has to worry if his legs can carry him for all 12 rounds. I’d sure like to see a fair decision out of boxing once in a blue moon, but we might as well be baying at a lunar eclipse while praying for the winning lotto ticket. Rios has had some training issues of missing weight during his lower weight classes in the past that have made him a big target of critics, but since Robert Garcia has trained him, Rios has successfully moved up in weight and been drilled into better shape with better discipline and game plan.

Rios still has to make weight at 147, so can he do it first try? That may well prove to be the key in this matchup. Can Bradley survive the guaranteed onslaught? His new trainer, the loonytunes buffo Uncle Teddy, can he even make it out of training camp without blowing everyone’s head gasket? Bradley’s damaged legs aren’t saying much yet, but we’ll be finding out soon enough.

 

Russian Rampage~Povetkin vs Wach & Lebedev vs Kayode

An odd, outlier Wednesday fight come November 4th promises some serious action as the consensus 2nd best heavyweight in the world, Alexander Povetkin, defends his WBC Silver against Polish giant Mariusz Wach at Basket Hall Arena in Kazan, Russia, wherever the dickens that is. 

The 6-8, 35 year old Wach, 31-1, 17 KO, is as about tough as they come, but also about as disgraced as they come when he was caught by brother Vitali in the Wladimir Klitschko fight with tampered gloves that had the padding removed. If that wasn’t bad enough, he also failed the post fight drug test showing high levels of steroids and was suspended from boxing. Then the mess in Poland where he was involved in some kind of drug smuggling network and maybe served some time in jail. He was in good position to go to the top of the heap once Wlad retired, but instead took to running with a bunch of thugs who have helped to ruin his career, a real shame that.

Now he has a chance to prove something against the vastly improved Povetkin who seems to have had a mysterious heart transplant after floundering during his lost years while boxing’s maniacal Uncle Teddy was training him into the dirt. The 35 year old Povetkin also sports a similar record to Wach, 29-1, 21 KO, also suffering being shutout by Wladimir, yet somehow he managed to rebound with 3 of the most venomous knockouts in a row over top opposition that we just don’t see in this current light in the loafers generation of American heavyweights. I can’t think of another modern fighter who made such a strong comeback so soon after such utter humiliation, but Wach is a huge tree to chop down, so he’s got his work cut out for sure.

Povetkin vs Wach

Povetkin vs Wach

Undercard features current WBA cruiserweight champ Denis Lebedev against Lateef Kayode. Both recently suffered knockouts against huge heavyweight types, Guillermo Jones and Luis Ortiz, except that afterwards both monsters were caught by the post fight drug tests. In another odd twist, though Jones was stripped of his WBA title, the KO against Lebedev still stands under Russian federation rules whereas Kayode got his result changed to an N/C, only in a sport so disorganized as boxing can such diametrically opposed results stand without any question.

I see the heavyweight bout as evenly fought in the early rounds with plenty action as Povetkin slowly pulls away from Wach for a decision. The southpaw Lebedev put up one of the most impressive fights I’ve ever seen against Jones, fight of the year quality by both, but he also took an unholy beating that may have taken something out of him. Kayode is fresher from fighting lesser comp, but not as proven as Lebedev, so this ends up being one of those crossroads types of fights that tend to be some of the best fights as both have extra incentive.

Classic Blonde Bombshell Double Loaded

Classic Blonde Bombshell Double Loaded

And if the stakes alone aren’t extra incentive enough, a certain Russian blonde bombshell, Ms. Svetlana Kulakova  will be contesting Ms. Ana Laura Esteche in a rematch of their recent draw for the WBA superlightweight title. Now I don’t watch women boxing, never have and never will, but it’s undeniable that there are some capable of giving any healthy guy a major league shot of testosterone upon first, 2nd, and 3rd glances, so hopefully not so much that the guys can’t pass their post fight drug tests!

Anyway, I’m guessing this Russian Rampage can be viewed by Americans in the wee early morning hours, so set your clock. Russian based fights really rock.