Monthly Archives: June 2016

Hercules Cleaning Out Al Haymon Stables~Anthony Joshua vs Dominic Breazeale

IBF Heavy Champ Anthony Joshua, 16-0, 16 KO,  ever more looking to be a modern day Hercules cleaning out Al Haymon‘s stable of heavyweights, defends against Dominic Breazeale, 17-0, 15 KO, at the O2 Arena (Millenium Dome), Greenwich, London, Saturday, June 25.

Joshua looking American & Breazeale looking British, go figure...

Joshua looking American & Breazeale looking British, go figure…

The USurper Breazeale wants us to know that he’s no Charles Martin, the soft Haymon heavyweight that Joshua blew out in two rounds two months ago. Well, bully good for Breazeale to step up for this title shot, however in his last fight where he did indeed step up for the first time against a 43 year old southpaw fringe contender, Amir Mansour, it is exceedingly rare to see a fighter so greatly outclassed as was Breazeale. Mansour swept the first five rounds on the judges’ scorecards by 50-44, 50-44, 50-44, even knocking down Breazeale in the third round for a 10-8 round.

Mansour, however, was so sick with the flu before the fight that he could barely breathe, so his trainers gave him a mouthpiece fitted for his upper teeth only. That contributed to what proved to be a disastrous injury when he almost bit tongue in half during the 2nd round when Breazeale caught him. It remains a mystery how the partial mouthpiece was even allowed by the California State Athletic Commision other than to note these are the same knucklenoggins who approved Antonio Margarito handwraps that turned out to be loaded with a few plaster crumbles in an insert. Nobody in these commissions is ever publicly reprimanded for these rules violations that they are supposed to be screening for, which begs the question, why are they even there if all they are is empty suits?

As the fight finally played out, Mansour had to retire on his stool after gulping a quart of his blood. He was rushed off to the hospital to undergo five hours of surgery requiring 36 stitches to sew everything together. Amazing the amount of heart he showed under such painfully debilitating conditions to dominate for as long as he did.

So while we have to credit the 30 year old Breazeale for enduring such a terrible beatdown, and he did come up with some big punches that hastened the end over his wounded prey, as far as demonstrable skill levels goes as to what normally constitutes a contender, he miserably FAILED his first real test. Thus the prime aged, rampaging Joshua will be the big favorite with Breazeale in desperate need of a Hail Mary punch.  If the flabby Breazeale makes it halfway through round four, the “over” wagers would triple their money, so the oddsmakers are anticipating a huge flux of wagers on the KO of Breazeale before 3.5 rds is up.

That’s just the way it is for this one. If the 26 year old Joshua’s ego doesn’t swell up up beyond containment from the ease of his victories, and he stays in training and progressing, he could finish out as one of the best ever and maybe even undefeated to boot. Gonna be a platoon of big boys out there in his future just waiting for that one shot to obliterate him, so this one more step at a time, easy as she goes sailor.

The Mesomorph vs The Endomorph

The Mesomorph vs The Endomorph

Keith Thurman Unfettered vs Shawn Porter

Al Haymon has ostensibly freed Keith Thurman from his fetters for his first ever serious fight against Shawn Porter, Saturday, June 25th at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York. The weak WBA welter title will be on the line as Thurman, 26-0, 22 KO, also defends his perfect record against that of Porter, 26-1-1, 16 KO.

The talented Thurman has certainly faced decent opposition of sorts, but they’ve all been in the class “B” type fighters he was expected to beat, not a prime top contender and former champion like Porter. Of course this being an Al Haymon fight, the very well spoken but somewhat bland personality Porter will be the underdog as Haymon looks to replace the undefeated TUE, 49-0, with the telegenic, Thurman who could certainly use a publicity boost after being on the shelf all these years.

Tale of the Tape

Tale of the Tape

In Porter’s last fight against another Haymon darling, Adrien Broner, the catchweight drained Porter heavily pressured Broner who unaccountably changed his style from his standard face first defense to a flapping, running chicken that resulted in a terribly dreary fight. Broner suddenly turned the tables in the opening seconds of the last round for a flash knockdown over a surprised Porter, but the decision turned out to be a rare gem in boxing these days by going to the infinitely more deserving Porter. I expect Thurman to also utilize an excessively cautious style as he looks to set up a far bigger punch than Broner could ever dream of, but can he land it when he needs it?

Big Problem for Thurman: He suffered injuries from an unusual single vehicle accident in whatever the latest blingmobile he was driving that set back this fight 3 months. The forces involved in the collision set off his air bags that TKOed him by whiplashing his neck and spine. After a couple of months of therapy, he resumed sparring and reportedly progressed well, so we shall see how well he’s recovered soon enough.

Both are in their primes with Thurman being faster, Porter being stronger. Hard to know how such a competitive matchup might turn out other than as previously mentioned, Thurman is the undeniable choice of the Haymon who runs his end of boxing somewhat like the UFC, each existing as their own league though Haymon has yet to create his own belts as the UFC has done. Such is how it currently goes in his little fiefdom of boxing, so good luck to Porter who will need a whole lot of it coupled to a good game plan if he plans on winning this fight.

Zombie vs Human

Zombie vs Human

 

Vasyl Lomachenko vs Roman “Rocky” Martinez

This Saturday, June 11th, All World Olympic boxing legend Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko, 5-1, 3 KO, moves up a division to challenge Roman “Rocky” Martinez, 29-2-3, 17 KO for his WBO superfeatherweight belt at Madison Square Garden.

Rocky Martinez vs Vasyl Lomachenko

Rocky Martinez vs Vasyl Lomachenko

On paper this sounds like an excellent fight since both are highly ranked in their divisions and tend to be in exciting, action type contests that please fans. Lomachenko, the boxer in this battle, is going to be the favorite due to his prodigious talents with the heavy slugging Martinez perhaps being a little shopworn after a few wars, now age 33. Lomachenko, 28 years old, is usually regarded as the most decorated amateur in history, having captured a King’s ransom of gold medals, and more importantly, at the start of his professional prime. If he wins, it means he will be the fastest, least experienced fighter to win a title in his 2nd division. Yeah, I know, it’s a pretty silly stat these days because of all the belts and divisions available, but Lomachenko has proven to be quite impressive, belt or no belt, and he can only fight who they put in front of him, outstanding competition thus far.

Problem for Lomachenko being that this will also be the same day as Puerto Rico Day in New York City, so with Martinez being Puerto Rican, he and his fans will be extra pumped for this, making him more a dangerous fighter. He certainly has the pro experience advantage and has been operating at his own very high level.

This should be one of the better competitive matches that can be made this year, the only tragedy being that so many more competitive matches could have be made over the years, yet are not because of current boxing operations and politics which has been poisoning the sport. Well, we beggers can’t be choosy, so any fans of the sweet and not so sweet science should tune in for this rock’em, sock’em fight fest.

 

 

When Boxing Goes Rogue~Amateur vs Professional

Now, this starts off somewhat confusing as befits the way pro and amateur boxing organizes itself. The “International Boxing Association” was formerly organized as “Internationale de Boxe Amateur” before changing their name, yet still colloquially referred to as the AIBA. Such are responsible for developing and sanctioning international amateur “Olympic style” boxing that funnels like clockwork every 4 years into the Olympic games.

In an horrendously bad hair day at their office, the AIBA recently decided in their collective idiocy to allow pro boxers to compete in the Olympics with amateurs. Fortunately the decision won’t much impact the 2016 Olympics being held in Rio de Janeiro this year because of the tardiness of the announcement. Boxers need to go through qualifiers, most of which have pretty much been completed by now. Of course the International community invading Rio will still have to deal with the mosquito borne Zika virus that has become the latest tabloid epidemic scare of the year, not to mention that many aquatic events are being held in natural waters that are barely fit to flush these days. Oh, and conveniently the gangs that the Brazilians displaced to scrub up the area so as to look civilized, well, they’re no dummies. The gangs have been laying low just waiting for new opportunities to pounce on the hordes of besotted and unaware travelers, so thus the murder rate has been slowly amping up in what is likely paybacks for the recent population displacements or turf wars over who gets the choicest area to terrorize and loot.

Oh the irony of the American ABC and the British BBB of C pro boxing overseers speaking out against the inherent unfairness of turning highly experienced pros lose on amateurs, many of whom are just teens. Pro boxing has it’s own poor history in providing safe, fairly officiated boxing for the combatants as we shall see later.

However, in this case they happen to be correct, but since the issue is not within their jurisdiction, perhaps they can get to work on their own horribly run messes. They talk a good game, but to often don’t deliver. If they were boxers, they’d be the proverbial “looks like Tarzan and punches like Jane” types.

Gonna say it like many of us have known for many years now, The Olympics have outlived their usefulness. Few of the athletes can be considered amateurs anyway except by a maddening maze of various technical regulations written up by lawyers for lawyers like most laws. The International Olympic Committee that founded the “modern” games in 1894 may have had all the best intentions, but these positions soon became political appointees of the rich and powerful nations with all their associated ills. It’s a huge, dirty construction industry empowered by eminent domain that creates population and infrastructural upheavals followed by a gargantuan tourist spike to further paralyze the hosting community. International Cities “compete” against each other for what boils down to promotional “Look at me” bragging rights. By modern press reports, the overseers are constantly involved in bribery and kickback schemes that sweeten whatever decision they make, which sure ain’t amateur, but rather pro crookery at it’s finest.

When the games end, the community often find themselves considerably poorer and filled with many specialized structures needing maintenance that serve few community needs, yet take up space that they used to be able to use. Terrible upheavals can follow as in Yugoslavia and Greece, countries not stable enough to withstand all the gargantuan pressure and backlash these games bring.  Enough big shots make plenty of money setting up these Olympic games that keeps their operation going, so take a deep breath and hold your nose, here we go again. Too few really care to actually clean up boxing, enough that might return it to a brief golden period as the most noble sport.

We already saw what happened when legendary amateur, Vasyl Lomachenko, unranked at the time with a 1-0 pro record, fought a longtime contender and champ under pro sanctioning, Orlando Salido, 41-12-2, ranked #2 by Ring at the time. The bauble was the WBO featherweight title, and one of the sorriest referees operating today, Laurence Cole, with a dirty assist by Salido, they surely did a bangup job of turning pro boxing into a farcical disgrace.  Pro boxing is utterly shameless in how it stages their little charades anytime they have a mind to. Salido kicked every thing off by not bothering to come close to the 126 lb limit weight, all the better to set him up for his massive rehydration weight gain, reportedly over 140 lbs If those weren’t enough advantages for him, he fought one of the dirtiest fights I’ve ever seen with every other punch being either a low blow, rabbit punch, hitting on the break, head butting, all allowed by Cole with scarcely a warning, and all designed not to allow this “rank amateur” to embarrass pro boxing by winning to set new boxing records for the earliest fighter to win a title. Most every pro fighter today would have either collapsed in a heap taking that kind of punishment, or responded in kind to create an anarchy in the ring that even dirty refs like Cole hate to see. Lomachenko didn’t seem to have a corner willing to object, so he quietly soaked the fouls up as he continued to blast Salido with crisp, straight shots that resembled paint strokes of a great artist they were so masterfully delivered, and guess who was holding on by the end for dear life? The cheat Orlando had finally met his match, but wait, we ain’t done tromping through the sewage of this fight yet. Incredibly Salido was given the split decision win thanks to more skulduggery by two of the three judges.

All expressly staged to protect pro boxing from being humiliated by a rank amateur, just pitiful, but oh so typical of pro boxing.

Salido jumping in with a nifty headbutt and low blow combo…only in boxing…

 

Lomachenko ended up tying the fastest record to win the WBO featherweight title in his 3rd bout with a win over Gary Russell, Jr.. He defended it thrice before moving up to challenge current WBO junior lightweight champ Román Martínez this Saturday, June 11th at Madison Square Garden on Puerto Rico Day festivities. The Puerto Rican native Martinez, 29-2-3, 17 KOs, is a very experienced and rugged type of fighter, not to mention a lot cleaner than Salido. Gonna be a tough battle to wrest the title, but if Lomachenko pulls it off, he’ll set the record for the fastest to a 2nd title, this being his 7th pro bout.

In that modern vein of a natural animosity that Amateur and Pro boxing have for each, the amateurs will surely get their revenge in the Olympics. Most of the lesser pros will be sent packing in Rio de Janeiro thanks to dirty amateur officiating, but still, what can be next, women fighting men? The transgendered fighting men and women, or worse, little kids? There is no limit in how much lower boxing could further sink until some greater moral and organizing oversight emerges from the ranks, probably an outsider because the gene pool inside the boxing community is closer to den of thieves than that of great leaders…only in boxing.

 

The Greatest in Repose~~Muhammad Ali~~R.I.P.

Ali checked out beautifully

Just a little dash of muss

And a whole lotta fuss

As The People, they cried, The Greatest has died

Yet Valhalla awaits him still

Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis are a chompin’

Let’s give him a good ol’ fashion stompin’

Gonna be some all time fights for the ages

To wag them tart tongues of all knowing sages

who always gather ’round for yet another round

Bottoms Up~~~R.I.P. Ali

The Original, The One & The Onliest, Cassius Clay

The Original, The One & The Onliest, Cassius Clay

Dateline: The end of January, 1967. I was 15 years old when the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself. I borrowed my mom’s Buick Skywagon to cart two of my buddies down to the Astrodome/Astro Hall complex to see Muhammad Ali and Ernie Terrell train the week before their unification fight.

Terrell was prime aged and quite impressive looking, and of course the training was light, just a show for us rubes to see two heavyweight champs in action to promote the fight. OK, Terrell’s hour up, so he puts on his robe to walk back to his dressing room, a temporary 10’x10’x10′ cube adjoining Ali’s cube.

Ali emerged just after Terrell climbed through the ropes and started screaming as they confronted. As the whole gym rushed over, Ali jumped in with a big wild swing on Terrell who returned the favor with the explosion of action jostling all of us as the training camps struggled to contain their fighters.

“Wow,” I was thinking, “so this is what a heavyweight fight feels like.”

Terrell finally made it to his cube, so Ali jumped into the ring with his robe on to dance around, shuffle and shout out some doggerel verse, and shadow box for a few minutes.  Everything was serene now, so the crowd dispersed back to the ring fringes hoping Ali would dance around closer, but quick as a flash, Ali popped through the ropes to sprint to Terrell’s cube, slamming the door shut as all hell broke loose.

Oh, man, I was right on Ali’s tail the whole time with my buds trailing, but the door was locked! I ran to a corner and asked my buds for a boost so I could grab the top wall and pull myself up for a look. The cube was really rocking now with the sound of the furious fight punctuating the score, so imagine my shock to see Ali with a folding metal chair screaming while running round the room pounding on the walls with Terrell’s trainer on the opposite side keeping pace with his chair. Ernie was buck naked sitting up on the table with a towel covering him as he pounded his street shoe on the table while shouting.

Before I could jump in to grab a chair and join in the fun, a security guard grabbed my ankles to rudely yank me down as another guard unlocked the door to lead Ali out, still shouting. He promptly resumed his workout that consisted primarily lying on the ropes to let his sparmates pound on him, a preview of Rumble in the Jungle Rope A Dope he’d use on George Foreman 7 amazing years later.

The net impact of this most memorable training session on me was the beginning of a suspicion of boxing experts and the media in general who reported the event in high feudal drama, that Terrell had called Ali Clay to anger him and started a fight, when in fact they were best buds from way back, former sparmates, and brilliantly complicit in their staging of this little fuss for prefight publicity.

Alas, I was too poor then to afford the pricey tickets to the fight, but had I managed to jump in on the action, Ali would have loved it and surely given me a couple of tickets, only a split second of poor timing that the Fates cursed me with that kept me from meeting he and Ernie in the most personal way possible.

In Days of Yore, Ali Settles a Score

In Days of Yore, Ali Settles a Score

 

***Excellent compilation of most if not all of Ali’s fights here:

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2KVzFsoMYTulvyABSJfrnQ?feature=watch

January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016