Tag Archives: andre ward

Say It Ain’t So~Just Another Joe Smith vs Sullivan Barrera

Last time he was in action, New York Local 66 Laborers Union member, Joe Smith Jr, 23-1, 19 KO, spectacularly knocked Bernard Hopkins completely out of the ring and out of boxing. Now, mysteriously, he’s assigned the formidable task of prevailing against Sullivan Barrera19-1, 14 KO,  this Saturday, July 15th in a return to the scene of his last spectacle, the Forum, Inglewood, California.

                                                         WHOOPS…….

                               >>>>>Going>>>>> Going >>>>>

\/**********GONE!**********\/

While I expect this to be a good fight between quality contenders, it’s very interesting in how Smith is being shunted aside after two of the hottest knockouts of 2016 as the away limited “away” fighter against the touted hometown heroes. Andre “Maternity” Ward was busy delivering the Kiss of Death to Boxing in his two matches with Sergey Kovalev, as Adonis Stevenson was busy fighting fringe contenders to pad out his bank account and title record that is looking smarter and smarter every day given how Kovalev and his promoter Main Events treatment by the boxing suits. They were near run out of town by horrific officiating in those two Ward bouts in spite of Kovalev’s fan friendly knockout fights that spiked interest in the moribund Lightheavy division.

“Just Another” Joe Smith leap frogged over his opposition to net a #4 Boxrec rating to Barrera’s #12 rating, so on paper this promises to be be a competitive bout, all dependant however by Barrera’s using his traditional come forward boxing style. The WBC International light heavyweight title bauble is the minor bauble being fought for.

I’m picking Joe, but Barrera could prove to be a banana peel and the officiating? These days you’d be better counting on a roll of the dice in a craps game than count on boxing officials. Sad indictment of the noble sport empowered with fair and equitable rules they seldom enforce except in favor of their orchestrated result…only in boxing! 

January 28th~Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz~Boxing Shoots Itself Again?

You’d think the dramatic drop of fan interest in boxing after boxing’s epic 2016 bunglings might signal a shot across the bow of boxing overseers, but noooooo way Jose. These crooks make their money on the wagering and kickbacks, so why should they care about their inferior oversight of their product when it supports them so lavishly?

Here we have two of the finest, most honorable and well trained fighters in the world, the two best in their superfeatherweight division, Carl Frampton, 23-0 defending the Super WBA belt he won off Leo Santa Cruz, 31-1-1. They rematch this Saturday, January 28th @ MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, so what’s wrong with that you might ask?

Top O The World

Top O The World

Well, after the monumental fraud of 2015 that generated near a half billion dollars of lawsuits followed by a miserable 2016 scoring fights, boxing kicked off 2017 with another FAIL when they scored the James DeGale supermiddleweight unification against Badou Jack a draw. Jack not only knocked some of Degale’s teeth out that sent his gumshield flying through the air several times, but also burst his ear drum and had him looking like he’d just been run over by a Mack Truck. That New York transgression near replicated the 2015 Vegas fight and subsequent robbery of what  Sergey Kovalev did to Andre Ward in the biggest fight of 2016. That PPV bout could only command 160,000 PPVs, a pittance compared to the last 20 years of boxing PPVs thanks to sadistic matchmaking and officiating that continues to lose fans all while the UFC has grown into a 4 billion dollar business.

These are two game, highly competitive warriors with most in agreement of the scoring and results of their first highly contested fight. Frampton was a clear winner in a most excellent fight, and likely these two may provide another classic, yet it is never a given on the night if boxing can come up with a decent performance by the ref and judges who in this case tend to be the same 3 blind mice Vegas has been recycling for decades now.

OK, I’m done skewering the suits who run boxing and will let this fight play out. Last time I picked Frampton with no great conviction in my predictor league, but this time I’m picking Santa Cruz to make some adjustments to better leverage his physical imposition on the fight. Thankfully I never wager on such shady officiating, so let’s see what happens next.

Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba To Take Sergey Kovalev “Krusher” Test

Isaac Chilemba is poised to take the Sergey Kovalev Krusher test this Monday, July 11th, far and away buried deep in the exotic locale of DIVS, Ekaterinburg, Mother Russia in the wee, wee, early morning Western hours. Why such a distant place and why on a Monday you ask?

Golden Boy

Golden Boy

Beats me other than to note this is a Kovalev homecoming of sorts staged in a much different culture than the standard American boxing culture, so maybe Monday is hot stuff there. At any rate, Chilemba, 24-3-2, 10 KO, is a classic light swatting, rangy, spoiler/boxer type with a Ring rating and tougher than his record might appear since he has yet to be knocked out. He was born into the impoverished Malawi region of Africa, turned pro in South Africa, and embarked on a world wide quest as the true definition of the ultimate International road warrior. He was served a steep learning curve in the early going, yet his last two losses were close decisions against top fighters, so he knows his way around the ring pretty well these days.

Such attributes are perfect for giving Kovalev, 29-0-1, 26 KO, a preview of the touted yet somewhat tainted light swatter swatting boxer Andre Ward, 29-0, 15 KO, projected to be his next bout at the T-Mobile Arena in Vegas. Chilemba is expected to provide competitive rounds and is good enough to cause an upset if Krusher has an off night even if the odds makers have made him a 100-1 underdog. In turn, The Ward of the State of California will be fighting a near 40 year old supermiddle, Alexander Brand, in Oakland of course, always Oakland as befits this Son of Gob. Not exactly the sort of prep to prepare for a beast like Kovalev, but perfect for the new lite in his loafers era he has entered into the past few years, basically acquiring an Imelda Marcos quality shoe collector fetish supported by a dreary series of TBA short notice fights.

Oh, my, be still our beating hearts.

It’s a shame that myself and others are actually looking forward to the Chilemba fight while cringing at the thought of the sheer ugliness that constitutes most every Ward fight. If the poor wunderkind  wonders why he doesn’t have any fans outside of Oakland and can’t make any big money, it’s because the wonder of the last US 2004 Olympic boxing gold medalist has got a tarnish to him these days that can’t be wiped away with his present faint hearted efforts.

Ekateringburg also notably happens to be the site where in 2011 Kovalev brutalized a highly regarded Russian prospect, Roman Simakov, knocking him out in the 7th round. Unfortunately Simakov never recovered and passed 3 days later, requiring Kovalev to take time off from boxing when he was charged with the death and sued by the fighter’s family. We cannot know how that affects this fight to go back to that night. Reportedly the lawsuit and maybe even the charges are still pending.

Putting Hopkins on his can

Putting Hopkins on his can

Issac Chilemba first though. Taking care of necessary business at hand first always works, so lets see who’s got it on the night.

 

 

The Ward of Oakland, Andre vs Sullivan Barrera Tonite

The Ward of Oakland and self proclaimed Son of God managed make it to the weigh in of his scheduled bout against Sullivan Barrera without injury, but can he make it to the scratch line and beat a legit lightheavyweight tonite at the Oracle on Oakland? 

Nobody really knows since Andre Ward tried his damnedest to wriggle out of this fight, denying the match repeatedly over twitter in spite of Barrera and his manager possessing the contract for the fight signed, sealed, and delivered. Ward may look like he lost his way in boxing, but that didn’t prevent the bookies from making him a huge favorite, so what are they seeing?

Ward: We ain't fighting buddy. Sullivan: It's on. Beware, I'll be there.

Ward: Ain’t fighting you Buddy….Sullivan: Beware. I’ll be there.

The venue, Oakland, always Oakland these days, of course. Ward has all the advantages of hand picked refs and judges ready to mug Barrera who is a relatively unproven fighter thus far, so nobody wants to go against such a blatant canned hunt setup for Ward. My guess is his promoter, Roc Nation, will have to dynamite him out of Oakland into a big venue and big fight to recoup losses since Ward’s signing, this representing the first step towards that goal.

Barrera does look overmatched on paper and he’s Cuban, so two strikes against him before the first bell sounds, but make no mistake, this guy has excellent amateur credentials and has been making a solid transition into the pro style unlike most Cubans with 6 straight knockouts. In short, he ain’t a runner, so cutting to the chase, he’s a whole lot hungrier fighter than the fainthearted Ward who noted he’s become a shoe collector in the manner of the infamous Imelda Marcos. Barrera is much more dangerous than that. He happens to hold ama wins over Chad Dawson, Beibut Shumenov, and wants to knock Ward out of his shoes. His problem being that he’ll have to defend against a blizzard of head butts, getting hit on the break, low blows, elbows, all delivered without penalty as the ref pulls him off Ward anytime he gets on top of him.

I get the feeling Barrera knows it’s an uphill battle and will be ready for the dirty stuff that most Cubans already know about. This is a non title fight. Bet on the outcome at your own risk.

Ward of Oakland vs Son of Cuba

Ward of Oakland vs Son of Cuba

 

The Day Boxing Died~~Where Have All The Sluggers Gone…”long time passing…”

IE: The Day Boxing Died~~Where have all the “American” sluggers gone to the tune of the alltime top classics below with the substitution in the lyrics.

The Day The Music Died by Don McLean

I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music(boxing) died

Where have all the flowers gone by Pete Seeger

Where have all the flowers(sluggers) gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers(sluggers) gone, long time ago?
Where have all the flowers(sluggers) gone?
Young girls(boxing poohbahs) have picked(neutered) them everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Mrs Robinson by Paul Simon

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio(Joe Louis)
A nation turns it’s lonely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo)
What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson(Sugar Ray Robinson)
Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away
(Hey, hey, hey…hey, hey, hey)

There are still plenty of Latino sluggers and sluggers from the former Soviet states, but there is a critically endangered species watch for American sluggers as the most optimistic designation, or an extinct designation for the pessimist and realist. The top American fighters in their divisions are Floyd Mayweather Jr, Andre Ward, Timothy Bradley, and Bernard Hopkins, and none of them could pop a bubble gum bubble with a sledgehammer. They couldn’t break an egg with a piledriver. They couldn’t dent a stick of butter or bust a bag of popcorn with brass knuckles. Flies giggle when they pull out their flyswatters. The light in loafer crowd blow kisses at them.

Look, there is no shame in being a top boxing featherduster, but a quick look at the IBRO top 20 P4P greats indicates that traditionally big sluggers who could also box some were highly prized above all other fighters with some 15 out of their 20 being some great sluggers. Featherduster types like Willie Pep or Harry Greb were anomalies to the greater preference for boxer/punchers like Gene Tunney or Ezzard Charles or sluggers who were also good boxers like Jack Dempsey or Sam Langford. Not that we can ignore the fighter Hopkins pretends to be like, Archie Moore, the all time knockout king with 131 knockouts. Hopkins pretends like Olive Oyl pretends to being like Miss Italy or a garden slug pretending to be a tiger.

Pep and Greb each have tons more fights than these modern toothless wonders all combined if you want to talk about the light relevancy of modern fighters to the core history of boxing. Fighting canned, hometown fights once a year is what today’s boxing illiterati prize as their top two P4Pers in Mayweather and Ward.

Unbelievable that boxing has dwindled down to this.

Then to see the cloying, clinging cognoscenti rattle on about superior athleticism of today’s boxers is like watching a cat cough up a rat hairball as if they even knew the definition of athleticism much less how it might apply to the essentials of what makes a fighter an all time great. Archie Moore, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Sam Langford, Jimmy Wilde, they weren’t competing in the decathlon, the timeless gold standard that track and field uses to define athleticism from whence the idea originated.

The decathlete needs both strength and speed allayed with rare superior coordination, endurance, and mental toughness to compete in 10 separate events in the heat of summer over a 2 day period. Jim Thorpe was the first modern athlete widely regarded as the greatest ever when he accepted gold medals in the 1912 Summer Olympics in both the pentathlon and decathlon, the only Olympian to ever win both. Not only, but he played Major League Baseball for a number of years before being a founder and first star of the fledgling National Football League, so his achievements greatly surpass modern athletes who seldom show multi-sport talent much less abilities to Thorpe’s gold standard. He was a pretty fair boxer and wrestler on top of all that. Today’s American boxing P4Pers have no strength or power, so we have to ask, how fast are these modern wunderkinds over 100 meters or 1500 meters and what are their pole vault and javelin numbers?

Not good enough to bother to count or who TF cares, take your pick. IBRO link here for an actual boxing comparison:

http://www.ibroresearch.com/?p=463

As often happens in boxing, the politics have shifted much like a storied slugging  pro baseball team falling on hard times, reacting as any politician might by changing the debate and altering their message to stay relevant. Baseball does this by expanding or contracting their field dimensions to complement their pitchers and hitters on the team. Visiting team sluggers can’t easily crack newly spacious outfield fences that reflect the type of left and right handed pitchers the hometown team has. If the home team is stocked with left and right handed sluggers, bring the fences in and blast out the visiting teams in a blizzard of homeruns.

;-

;-

Boxing can also alter ring dimensions and surfaces and shorten the rounds, but additionally has altered the debate and message on the fly as needed by altering the scoring rules on a fight to fight basis, wink-wink.

There was a noteworthy slip up in the “Boxing Poohbah World” recently when a well known and well impugned long time boxing rag mentioned in an article that good defense usually beats good offense. Oh brother, more drinkin’ instead of thinkin’ as happens too often in boxing publications, otherwise they would recall the order in the original Marquis of Queensbury rules. In order of importance, 1.) Offense, 2.) Defense, 3.) Ring Generalship.

Simply put, without offense there is no fight nor any purpose to boxing. It’s been proven that a fleet footed fighter in good condition can run around the ring forever avoiding most blows, but is that boxing or some catch me at the track type of sport? Yet highly hyped fighters will usually be given those types of decisions today, turning off boxing fans who don’t care for track meets which is why they wanted boxing, especially when boxing is allayed with slugging, not track…….DUH!

Not that the self appointed “boxing authorities” throughout history have paid any more attention to rules any more than democracies pay more than lip service to their constitutions. Rules are made to be broken as the saying goes in any state of governance including the anarchy of boxing as it grew out of illegal bare knuckle roots. Nonetheless, boxing remains the only sport where the loser of 100% of every second of every minute of the contest can be the resounding winner and newest big hero by delivering a thunderous knockout in the waning seconds of a fight as recently happened to longtime undefeated fringe heavyweight contender David Rodriguez, delivered by former fringe contender Darnell “Ding-a-ling” Wilson who didn’t get his name by pushing out marshmallows. Record here:

Darnell Wilson

There are various levels of offense starting with marginal round by round point accumulations as Mayweather totals his fights during his most acclaimed period, but slugging offense rules over all as the ultimate end statement. Moreover, a fighter loses at least a point every time they’re knocked down, negating an otherwise good boxing round in their favor.

Longtime curmudgeon Bernard Hopkins continues to charge that “slick black boxers” are being “underrated,” clearly clueless of the high Boxrec and Ring ratings of Floyd Mayweather Jr, Andre Ward, Timothy Bradley, plus the grizzled baldeth one hisself. I’m here to tell you that on the elemental boxing level in the ring, the Hopkin’s slick rhymes with “it” and starts with “sh” since all but Bradley are among the dirtiest of the top fighters, not that the sometimes butting Bradley is a saint.

Incidental fouls, however, are part of the sport which are supposed to be one of many reasons for an impartial referee if such a beast ever existed. Smart fighters like a Miguel Cotto will invariably fight a clean fight as he reserves the right to a well timed low blast to the protective cup anytime he gets hit hard enough to need some time to recover. He’ll gladly take that first warning and the time it takes for the opposing fighter to recover his ardor for fighting, usually not for the rest of the fight. That’s staying within the fair boundary of the rules.

Marshmallows anyone?

Marshmallows anyone?

Nonetheless, “unwritten” changes to rules emphasizing defense might explain the general malaise and ennui among the few remaining occasional public viewers. They might like to watch boxing, but are turned off by incomprehensible weekly scoring controversies, bogus referee stoppages, and idiotic referee interference on top of suffering the off putting powder puffery posing at the top of the boxing food chain. He’d really rather watch the girls volleyball tourney where he can at least honestly admire the form if he can’t see a good fight.

You could almost make the claim these top guys are illegally loading their gloves and protectors in helium the way they punch like junior strawweights. Willy Pep and Harry Greb made up for light punching by with a blizzard of offense delivered with either hand from every angle and position imaginable, some of the most exciting fighters ever. Top Americans today don’t actually want a fight, they want to box and foul in equal measure with a pro ‘rasslin’ type of ref ignoring their fouls that everyone else can plainly see as they dumb down a fight to a level they can a win at.

Timothy Bradley used to have a very dynamic unorthodox style of offense but lost a lot of hard earned respect  after his Pacquiao debacle and now fights in an upright safety first defensive style that he has struggled with. He flirts with the dark side of dirty, but thus far hasn’t crossed over because he wants to become a star and he still has a sense of honor in combat. Compare to Ward and Hopkins who have substituted grotesquely illegal tactics for much of their offensive output. Hopkins seemingly tutored Mayweather who debuted the Hopkin’s  patented upperbutt against Saul Alvarez before lacing his eyes a few rounds later. Then the ref had the audacity to warn Alvarez, not Mayweather. 

Folks, it ain’t just slugging that’s missing in action among today’s developing talent. There are a few still developing American sluggers in James Kirkland and Keith Thurman, but genuine boxing skills are lacking as Mayweather had when he was developing or as Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns and Marvin Hagler developed coming up. There are no Oscar de la Hoyas, Shane Mosleys,  or Vernon Forests type quality coming up. I’m not some ol’ git who always thinks the new generation is inferior to the old generation either. That’s another debate entirely. I respect developing fighters willing to fight top competition no matter what their talent level is, but the canary in the boxing mine has sounded the alarm. 

Bottom line, from heavyweight down to welterweight, there are no extraordinary American fighters coming up. It took only one screwed up generation to leave American boxing effectively dead in the water after more than 120 years of dominance. I’ll close with some comments on a modern application of scoring as judges might be instructed………R.I.P.

This is a 4 part modern interpretation of Queensbury Rules. Note the double emphasis on OFFENSE, not fouls. Offense rules with defense counting dead last in this criteria, but let’s take a closer look:

  • Clean punching: “Clean” punches are punches that land on the face/side of the head and the front/side of the torso. (Modern pro judges have moved to Olympic type tap-tap scoring where body punches are almost never counted)
  • Effective aggressiveness: A boxer demonstrates this trait when he consistently and successfully moves forward in a controlled manner. (We’ve seen too many dominant offensive onslaughts ignored by judges, the most blatant examples are Ponce de Leon and Paulie Malignaggi dominating Adrian Broner with punches and ring generalship yet losing the fight.)
  • Ring generalship: The judges favor the fighter who controls the pace and style of the bout. (Judges in the criminal justice system and boxing actually favor wealthy defendants with high powered attorneys and big money fighters with big promoters. Always have and forever it shall be notable exceptions not withstanding)
  • Defense: Boxers that skillfully incorporate defensive maneuvers receive credit in this area.(Simply running is not is not the traditional defense of staying in the combat range as the fighter slipped, ducked, blocked and countered effectively, skillfully being another key word ignored. Twisting into a pretzel below the beltline is not skillful defense, it’s cowering much like flopping to the ground to buy time in the old bare knuckle days that London Prize Ring Rules corrected) 

Mikkel Kessler Rematches Carl Froch @ O2, London

Dateline: May 25, Saturday, the O2 Arena in London. Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch look to reprise their first classic encounter 3 years back that featured paralyzing exchanges and dramatic shifts in momentum as they battled ferociously to the final bell.

Last Time Out

Last Time Out

Kessler pulled away in the championship rounds to edge a unanimous decision,  winning the battle as it were, yet losing the war when he was forced to withdraw from the Showtime tourney, citing double vision. Froch went on to fight in the finale against Andre Ward in Madison Square Garden, losing a tough decision where he finished as the stronger fighter.

After taking a year off for rest and recovery, Kessler has staged a comeback against lesser competition to win back his WBA title. Meanwhile, Froch continues to fight the best opposition in boxing today, dethroning undefeated P4P phenom Lucian Bute who had scarcely dropped a round in his dominant multiple IBF defenses.

As such, Froch is expected to be the favorite, but there is no counting out Mikkel Kessler yet. With a record of 46-2, 35 KO, he knows a win here will further cement his already stellar career when he retires. Carl Froch is up there in credentials as well, even while sporting the lessor record on paper of 30-2, 22 and the slightly older age, 35 to Kessler’s younger 34 years.

The title fight numbers favor Kessler at 10-2 to Froch’s 7-2 record, but numbers won’t tell the story of this fight. I expect Kessler to box smarter this time as the more “damaged” fighter. It remains to be seen if he can in fact win a fair decision in England, but he took the fight knowing that Carl Froch has never been knocked out nor even buzzed much while on his run at the top levels of boxing, so the money available for such a prestigious fight was just too tempting to pass up.

Froch for his part knows that he could have boxed a bit smarter going down the stretch last time. He’s grown as a fighter, using previously untapped ring smarts since the Kessler battle and knows he’s the stronger fighter on the upswing. Whether he has the skills to tap into that strength to beat Kessler is his unknown in this fight. While doing a textbook job on taking Lucian Bute out of his comfort zone with unbelievable pressure, Froch arguably cracked as well when he and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, engaged in terribly unseemly celebrations in the ring as the beleaguered out of his league referee , Earl Brown, administered a count to Bute after a knockdown. Such transgressions in properly officiated fights almost always result in a disqualification for the fighter who’s training team entered into the ring while the fight was still in process.

Could be a great fight with proper officiating that does justice to the high level these fighters will be operating at, so the BBB of C has a chance to correct their sloppy oversight of the Bute fight. The fighters have relatively clean styles, usually foul and controversy free, so their fights are usually fan friendly  throwbacks to textbook boxing and slugging in context to the past history of great fighters.

VADA/Conte/Donaire vs USADA/Rigondeaux for the Cleaner Than Thou Crown

Nonito Donaire will be fighting Cuban Olympic Gold Medal legend Guillermo Rigondeaux at Radio City Music Hall in New York City this Saturday, April 13th. On paper, Rigondeaux has no chance but a puncher’s chance, and he’s not a big puncher though he is a skilled and shifty boxer. The bottom line is that he’s too small and still on a professional learning curve, a baby as it were.

Filipino vs Cuban

Filipino vs Cuban

Nonetheless, the boxing world has been agaga over Cuban Olympic boxers even though most of them simply never got further than where Rigondeaux is, a WBA strap holder for a short while with few wins of any significance on his ledger, currently a mere 11-0, 8 KO, with 59 pro rounds in the bank. His achievements are certainly admirable at a certain level, but nowhere near the top mark that  Cubans typically seem to think they rank. The best of the modern Cuban pro boxers has to be Juan Carlos Gomez, the well credentialed cruiserweight champ and heavyweight contender, yet he had numerous personal issues that set him back, including disputes with managers and promoters, drug use, suspensions, lack of training.

Most noteworthy is that Cuban fighters didn’t get rich like they were promised when they were lured into the pro game. Few want to see them box save some few other Cubans and the ever diminishing remnants of boxing aficionados due to their boring, light punching amateur styles, often showing no heart or guts in the ring and needing plenty of referee intervention and dubious points decisions to keep them going.

It’s always a nice promotional PR stunt with a lot of political push when they get signed, Fidel Castro giving up ever more of his tired, his poor, and his hungry, capitalism starved fighters to come to America to set the world afire, but then? Into the virtual void of “Who Cares” they go.

The reasoning behind making this specific bout is that of convenience, both fighters being promoted by Top Rank, both highly rated, and both in need of a “big” fight, particularly Rigondeaux who has somewhat languished in spite of his heralded amateur success and obvious talents. Donaire  is wanting to silence the unceasing hordes of moaning critics littering the antisocial internet who insist he has been ducking the Cuban, the Mexican, the (insert nationality of your choice here).

In spite of  the positives for making the fight within Top Rank, it almost didn’t come off after stalling too many times to keep up with. Frankly, Rigondeaux  hasn’t looked pleased that he finally landed his signature big bout, perhaps upset with his manager and promoter and his purse, but that has been a longstanding problem with too many Cuban stars. Pro boxing is a cutthroat business and few pro fighters are pampered like the Cubans were used to in Cuba. Fighters in America have to be a star attraction to achieve the pamper level that Cubans were massaged with under the Castro regime.

Rigondeaux can last the 12 round distance if he shows up to spoil and run, but he won’t improve his future earnings with that strategy, see Timothy Bradley for how that works. He’s has to risk going out on his shield and really taking to Donaire in a controlled, clever way, fighting at a level much higher than he ever had to before.

Does Rigondeaux have the desire and the will to endure the big hurt Donaire is guaranteed to hit him with? Does he have the creativity and natural attributes to come up with a strategy that can really take it to Donaire offensively while protecting himself defensively?

Nobody knows what Rigondeaux has in him yet, not even Rigo, but wait, there’s the hope of a new development coming into this fight for him.

Donaire may somehow be weakened after the divorce from his ex-con BALCO trainer, Victor Conte. His tap of the majic swill elixirs that turn run of the mill store clerks into supermen able to leap over multiple divisions and rated fighters with a single bound has been turned off. Donaire may be in his Clark Kent mode for this fight.

Yes, folks, the sad truth is the boxing business has welcomed discredited trainers from the BALCO illicit performance drug operations that netted multiple felony convictions into their sordid, unseemly fold, a perfect fit if you study up on the history of boxing. Indeed, these n’er do well PED pushers have wormed their slimy hooks into top ranked fighter training camps everywhere. New supermen have been resurrected in the form of Nonito Donaire, Andre Ward, Andre Berto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Jorge Arce, Zab Judah, Brandon Rios, and too many others to keep up with. Give Conte and his hunched assistant Angel “Memo” Heredia your sickly, anemic, low testosterone count weaklings and voila, Showtime and HBO will come calling with big money in hand just to see their newly hulked out frames do a cartoon style seek and destroy on their opponent.

Currently we have WADA, VADA, NADA, and USADA all vying for a piece of the drug testing pie as slimy illicit drug testing cartel business operations merge with the sleaze of boxing. Do a web search on the dirty drug testing business after the recent upset by Sam Soliman over long time WBA middleweight champ Felix Sturm to see dozens of sordid press releases and updates all these many weeks later as both parties sling back and forth the kind of stuff you see slung by apes in zoos, and this just one fight!

One thing is for sure, these little banties are gonna be blood dripped bone dry in a head to head fight between VADA and USADA to see which operation is the sleaziest in the land. Nonito Donaire was extracted minutes before an early morning sparring session for example.

What kind of idiotic program is that?

Regardless, the new news is the same as the old news of hundreds of years prior with new fighters taking the most risks being ill advised or otherwise set up by neferious boxing “advisors.” The human condition never changes.

Ahem….is the time ripe for old school Panama Lewis glove tampering cheats to make a return to even up the balance on the PED ledger, ya think?

The French Connection Goes to Sherwood Forest–Bute vs Froch

The lightly traveled Le Tombeur, Lucian Bute, makes his way to Merry Olde England through Sherwood Forest to the boxing ring of the Nottingham Arena to accept the honourable challenge by the infinitely game and dangerous Carl Froch.

That would be Saturday, May 26th British time. No word on whether the Nottingham sheriff will provide security, but fair to say some of Robin Hood’s Merry Men may swing down from the rafters for voracious support as typical of British fight fans.

Bute’s IBF supermiddleweight title will be up for grabs as well as his unblemished record, currently 12-0, 8 KO as the title holder, and 30-0, 24 KO for his career. I daresay that Lucian Bute sees respect as being up for grabs as well after being repeatedly tarred as a hometown Montreal fighter ducking out on the big fights of the Showtime Super Six tourney.

Lefty in Charge

Lefty in Charge

For the record, Bute was not invited, a serendipitous luck of fate since the tourney was poorly officiated and ended in a fizzle of fan support as  Andre Ward was hoisted as their new King.

The Showtime King’s first proclamation was that he wanted no part of Lucian Bute, so it was onward to the always ready to scrap Carl Froch who had Ward on unsteady legs in the final rounds of the tourney.

The First French Connection

The First French Connection

Carl Froch is an accomplished slugger who can match most any fighter today with the strongest competition over the past 4 years. Only Glen Johnson might have a shout on him. Normally Froch travels to his bouts, so this a welcome homecoming.

Bute is blessed with the fastest overall combination of hand and footspeed and steadiest balance anywhere near his division, and at age 32 seems to be just hitting his stride as a sharp hitting, sharp boxing lefty who is seldom contested in the ring. Froch will be the best fighter by a long shot Bute has ever faced, but it’s probable that conversely Bute is the best Froch has ever faced.

Froch has shown some very underrated boxing ability in the past, but at his heart he’s a fighter and slugger with good power and stamina, not an easy nut to crack. I look for Bute to fire up the turbines for a smooth flight about the ring as he softens up Froch with his blistering right jab during the tenderizing process.

As likable, credentialed, and game as Carl Froch is, he’ll be only a few weeks shy of his 35th birthday come fight night, so a lot of traditional strikes are against him, but one good shot changes everything in boxing, so therein is his hope. The first French Connection for Froch was his successful splash on the world stage, a hard fought Pascal win where he came on late to seize control of the fight, so he has that positive history.

Bute’s hope is another dominant performance and a superfight against whomever brings the money, but the economics are that Froch is currently the biggest attraction in the division. Bute will have to move up to lightheavy and travel to Denmark to face Mikkel Kessler or go home to face the fast starting, always fading Jean Pascal to match the purse and interest of this fight.

Should be interesting at a technical level at the very least and could be primal at it’s best if Froch surprises Bute with his best ever form.

Showtime Supermiddle Final Showdown– Andre Ward vs Carl Froch

The action is supposed to occur December 17th at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, but this Showtime Supermiddle Tourney has been plagued by so many cancellations, reschedules and bad hometown officiating it’s hard to know how much the average fan cares about the final.

The Showtime tourney was announced with great fanfare and accolades, but only a few fights have lived up to the promise of the best fighting the best. Now the tourney limps home on the final leg.

The best officiated and by far most competitive fight was overseas in Mikkel Kessler‘s backyard of Denmark where he and Carl Froch went toe to toe with great overall boxing skills. Excellent ebb and flow and a very clean fight where both fighters had to dig deeper than ever before just to stay in the bout. Kessler won the bout but had to withdraw from the tourney because of a eye injury first suffered in the Ward fight where he was without vision. 

One thing is certain about this bout, Andre Ward and Carl Froch are two really tough fighters with a lot of strength at the weight. Ward holds the traditional prime age advantage at 27 years to Froch’s 34 years, but Froch is fighting as well as he ever has, so I don’t see age playing a factor though Froch has 5 more fights and 48 more rounds on his ledger.

Andre Ward is the last American Olympic Gold Medalist and was supposed to be boxing’s new star, but he has almost disappeared in the boxing landscape since his 2004 debut to become a small venue hometown California fighter well removed from the bright lights of Las Vegas and Madison Square Garden. Ward compiled a 24-0, 13 KO record in boxing’s hinterlands and will be making his 4th defense of the WBA belt he won off of Mikkel Kessler, the blueprint of his butting, elbow and grappling style offense he has employed during the tourney.

Froch vs Pascal

Froch vs Pascal

Meanwhile, Englishman Carl Froch turned pro to no acclaim in 2002 and stayed that way in England as he steadily fought his way up the chain until his spectacular “international” debut in Froch’s hometown of Nottingham, England. He dethroned undefeated Canadian Jean Pascal to snatch away his WBC belt in a very well fought bout with plenty of back and forth action. Since then he has done a foxtrot around the world against the best supermiddleweights in the business and has slowly built up a healthy following in the UK. He is a fan friendly action fighter with only one very competitive loss to Mikkel Kessler to sully his record, 28-1, 20 KO.

So Froch is better prepared to fight away from home than Ward and may have more fans in attendance than Ward since British fans love to hop The Pond to vociferiously support their fighters. However better prepared Froch is to fight away from home, Ward is clearly the Showtime “house” fighter, the only fighter to fight all his Showtime fights on his hometurf until this fight was scheduled.

Ward is more than the last Olympic Gold Medalist, he is also undefeated, so there’s much more upside to keeping him undefeated for Showtime than if the British fighter wins. This means Froch has to beat him substantially to secure a draw, and knock him out cleanly to secure the win, but Froch is the slugger in this match even if his power seems on the wane of late.

Up Close Dark Arts

Up Close Dark Arts

The biggest problem for Froch being that Ward is also the dirtiest fighter in boxing, well experienced in spoiling tactics and various “Dark Arts.” More to the point, Ward is strong enough and willing to use them as his primary offensive weapons in naked view for all to see. So far only the brawling Sakio Biko could match his dirty tactics, and poor Bika had the ref interfering anytime he looked to be up against Ward, and of course the hometown judges awarded Ward almost every round of the ugly fight only Ward’s family might like to judge.

There is no easy way to prepare for the strength and skill Ward uses to employ his Dark Arts any more than there is to counter the interference from the referee. If Froch is to win he has to fight in a defensive grappling  style any time Ward gets in on him for a butt while aggressively setting up his knockout punches on the outside.

Grappling inside with dirty fighters is not Froch’s forte.

Ward is easy to find in ring center usually, but harder to hit cleanly with his octopus arms and elbows sucking up a fighter’s offense and spirit. He did employ cleaner tactics against Arthur Abraham and Allan Green, but Abraham is a pure upright slugger that a good boxer with footwork in a hometown setting can secure a win against and Green barely showed up, meaning that Ward does have some legitimate boxing skills to employ when he chooses and knows how to stay away from sluggers.

Nonetheless, Ward makes a very awkward fight to score because even when he chooses to box outside, he’s still got a quick low shoulder rush inside that knocks other fighters off balance and disrupt continuity.

Adding it all up, Ward has to be considered a favorite. I’ve no doubt Froch could outbox and outslug him in a cleanly officiated and scored bout, but such rules of fair play are regrettably not likely to be in force. I don’t envision a knockout, but a headbutt could stop the fight. The fight was originally delayed when Ward got a truly nasty cut in sparring, possibly working on a headbutt that went awry.

Should be interesting to see what tactics each employs, and if Froch is smart, he’ll stay clean and use his considerable skills to work as hard as he can and let the chips fly where they may. Two high profile Brits, Dereck Chisora and Amir Khan have lost against hometown fighters recently. Chisora employed headbutts and clowning strategies that clearly didn’t win over the judges. Khan was warned repeatedly for pushing before being deducted points. Both were winnable fights with a smarter, cleaner strategy.

Wonder what the over and under odds are for a clean fight vs a dirty fight?

Shame it has to come down to a question like that, but the Showtime folks and New York Commish have a chance to correct what has been largely a disappointing tourney with some genuine sporting rules of fair play enforced to finish the tourney and the year with a great fight.

Here’s a Shout for Carl Froch vs Glen Johnson

Another leg of the forgotten Super Six Supermiddleweight tourney takes place on June 4th this Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City when the Old Road Warrior, Glen Johnson challenges Carl Froch for his WBC belt and the right to advance to the finals of the tourney.

This should be a cracker of a fight as the Brits are fond of saying, but alas, is anyone else interested outside the usual boxing fanatics? Hopefully there’s enough boxing fans still left on the East Coast to fill the venue in order to honor the fighting credentials of these gentlemen who are loathe to take a step backwards in the ring and willing to take on all comers, a rarity in boxing these days among the plethora of spoiled belt holders. 

In his last outing Froch put on his finest boxing demonstration ever in handling the frustrating style and power of Arthur Abraham. Johnson proved there’s still thunder in those ancient mitts as he knocked out Alan Green who had never been stopped before.

The Fatal Blow

The Fatal Blow

Incredibly, this is 42 yr old Johnson’s 18th year in boxing, and while he has slowed up some physically as to be expected, he is still one of the all time toughest fighters in history and nobody fancies a walk in the park with him unless they are forced to. No surprise that Johnson has logged well over double the fights and rounds of Froch who has become quite experienced in the last few years at the elite level of his division.

Since both are coming off previous performances that were out of character for each fighter, that makes this fight something of a wildcard where anything might happen. Johnson is a pure pressure fighter and Froch thrives at ring center against come forward fighters so there is sure to be plenty of give and take in this donnybrook.

Carl Froch

Carl Froch

Does Froch have the power to keep Johnson off of him in order to pick him off? Can Johnson get inside to outwork and outbrawl Froch?

I must confess to loving the career of the old Road Warrior, but probably he needs a big knockout to win this fight, and of course Froch has proven to be very durable, so my fear is that Froch’s power may trump Johnson by the fight’s end.

Froch will enter a substantial favorite, but he best be running on all cylinders as this will take a huge effort to derail Johnson who is probably as hungry a fighter today as he was 15 yrs ago.

Time for a Big Shout to rattle the cages of fight fans down Jersey way. Everyone always moans about returning to some golden era of old school fighters, and now two of the best modern throwbacks to any golden era in history are gonna duke it out in your backyards, so, gentlemen, “Let‘s git it on!”