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The Modern Day Hercules, Anthony Joshua, Tumbled by Fatboy Andy Ruiz, The Postmortem

Anthony Joshua was The Colossus of the modern heavyweight division. Like Hercules when The Son of Zeus cleaned out the stables of King Augean and then killed him when he welched on their agreement, Joshua in this case cleaned out the nefarious Al Haymon stables of undefeated heavies, easily knocking them out of his unified title picture and otherwise exposing them badly, yet somehow, in some inexplicably perplexing way, he became terribly unraveled by Fatboy Andy Ruiz Jr this last Saturday in Joshua’s American Debut at Madison Square Garden. 

And it was more than just blunt force trauma as is typical in these situations although there was plenty of blunt force trauma on display between the combatants, the 3rd round being perhaps Ring Round of the Year.

After that third round in which Andy got dropped first followed by two knockdowns of Joshua, the stage was set in later rounds with perhaps this shot instructive as Joshua is awfully low like his legs can barely support him, and indeed it seemed like he never gained full use of his legs and was often left punching flat footed out of position where he had little leverage on his formidable power.

Anthony Joshua was 22-0, 21 KO  that included a unified title record of 7-0, 6 KO going into the Ruiz fight at age 29. Simply put, there is no heavyweight with a better record before winning the title since the turn of the 19th Century when in 1892 James J. Corbett with an 8-0-2 record knocked out John L. Sullivan. James J. Jeffries set the 20th Century record, 10-0-2, when he knocked out Bob Fitzsimmons in 1901. Corbett made 2 successful title defenses before succumbing to Fitz, and Jeffries made 6 defenses before retiring undefeated.

The modern day record Joshua holds: He has set the 21st Century heavyweight record, 15-0 when he won his title that he carefully unified along with 6 title defenses, so what could go so wrong for this modern day wunderkind seemingly sculpted out of bronze striding atop his Mount Olympus of solid gold?

Being naturally possessed of a predatory mind that fortunately I was able to get a handle on early in life thanks to my mom’s heroic efforts at civilizing me, I saw some alarming things in the lead up. The first being this amiable, happy go lucky lad has been making outsized riches and accolades beyond the pale of mortality as any proper Greek God might, so much so that his very creation was the impetus of the DAZN combine that put together the #1 subscription streaming boxing network in the world in short order.

Disclaimer: I subscribe to DAZN and have enjoyed it immensely and witnessed THE FIGHT.

Any investor(s) worth their salt want to maximize their investments with that being of going global by starting in America. They have completely wrecked the traditional broadcasting and PPV format by signing big stars like Canelo Alvarez for HUGE $$$. Thus they pushed for Joshua to make his American debut so they could further expand their foothold on the American market they started, Coming to America as it were

Now Joshua has probably cleared at least $100 Mil in his 22 fights previous and has set records by selling out Wembley Stadium with over 90,000 fans screaming like banshees at his every concussive blow. Only one fighter had ever gone the distance with him. Specifically, why make his US debut at Madison Square Garden, home of probably worst boxing commish in the US, that being New York? Most American champions stayed home within their own culture and made any foreign heavy contenders come to them.

Joshua is more than a record setting boxer, he’s a highly intelligent guy in love with boxing and it’s history, and at one time MSG was the place to go until Vegas cleaned their clock decades back. Joshua went to a lot of trouble to fly into the dangerous environs of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil just to support UK boxing during the 2016 Olympics. He supports all the local boxing programs and does his fair share of charity work that has made him into such a native boxing icon that has never been seen on British shores before.

Getting back to the fight, I felt something Rotten in Denmark during the opening two rounds as Josh looked puzzled at Ruiz slowly pressing him without throwing much. Just stick a jab with a lateral step and slowly work out your timing as you set up your traps, easy for Josh, but not on this Saturday. In his ring walk the golden boy was slapping all extended hands in a glow of accolades. Nobody extended hands or Ruiz to slap, so already Ruiz is majorly focused on that ring instead of lollygagging around. I also spotted Sam Watson, Haymon’s main man with Team Ruiz when Bob Arum has been his promoter, like forever. Now, that ain’t right!

Here he is in the prefight with the Ruiz team listening to the Mexican anthem with Sam:

This is just seconds after the fight was stopped. Ruiz team in the ring on top of him in celebration with Sam collaring the ref who hasn’t even had time to consult with officials yet, now that ain’t right!

Two officials have crawled through the ropes in Josh’s corner where he was stopped still in the same position. The officials haven’t even time to straighten up. Josh team outside the ropes, so what are they doing? Where’s his trainer, Robert McCracken. Had I a fighter I poured my blood and sweat into I’d be in the ring so fast someone might get knocked over if they were in the way.

In the post fight presser with Josh absent in the hospital for evaluation, Ruiz thanks his team and Al Haymon for this opportunity, so when did the changeover from Arum to Haymon happen and where was an announcement of a new contract? Was it buried in the media blitz? Three days after the fight, Boxrec updated their promoter/manager info showing Arum seemingly ending his contract with Ruiz in 2018 and Haymon his manager. McCracken absent at the presser and no mention of him. Was he at the hospital with Joshua? Will he even be with him for the rematch this November or December, probably at Wembley. Might be too late for a new trainer with the rematch coming in November, but like I say, the Josh was just off the whole night like he was fighting on Mike Tyson’s psych meds underwater. 

Both mentally and physically Josh finally looked dialed into his timing during that 3rd round when he caught Ruiz with that left hook that put him down for the first time in his career. Then upon a return to action he caught Ruiz with a full on flush straight right that would’ve finished any of Haymon’s heavies, save Ruiz. Normally Josh would return to careful boxing to look for the next big shot. He’s already near guaranteed a decision in a distance fight, but instead got greedy for a quick KO and got clocked and then clocked again. He sorta skeeters around for round 4 and 5 until the 6th starts as Ruiz is starting to bully him before the ill fated 7th.

In short, there is just too much monkey biz with this fight as I laid out. He has to take the loss and move on because these suits these days or a lot more clever than in the past.

Also hearing how Josh’s father had to be pulled off Fast Eddie in the dressing room after the fight and various rumors that Josh had been knocked out during a sparring session.

It wasn’t until many years later that all the monkeyshines surrounding that upset in Zaire by Muhammad Ali over George Foreman came out that cast a pall over that epic fight. Controversial calls are part and parcel of every sport, but no sport comes close to the weekly controversies and poor officiating than boxing. For now the fight is not controversial, but many if most felt from the first round something wasn’t quite right as the highly lucrative rematch looms. 

Tommy’s Son Trey Lippe Steps Up vs Ed Latimore

Trey Lippe, AKA son of Tommy Morrison, turned pro to the tune of 11-0, 11 KO, goes against fellow prospect Ed Black Magic Latimore, 13-0, 7 KO on a big ShoBox card from Buffalo Run Casino, Miami, Oklahoma this Friday, September 23.

Good prospect step up fight for both where perhaps the slightly more accomplished 31 year old Latimore, ranked 91st on Boxrec and fighting out of West Virginia, ventures into the 26 year old Lippe’s home turf at the Buffalo Run. Can’t say I know much about either other than I’ve seen a few clips of Lippe, ranked 111st on Boxrec, and know he’s trained by Freddie Roach. Thus far he shows great power, natural ability, and instincts against the usual suspects, but now crunch time comes. Latimore runs about 6-1, 230 lbs to Lippe’s 6-2, 230 lbs, so size wise they’re evenly matched though judging by his record, Latimore is more boxer than slugger.

The winner makes a big splash in the boxing headlines thanks to the late, sometimes great Tommy Morrison connection, so I’m thinking both will be all in for this little doohickey.

Big George vs Tommy

Big George vs Tommy

 

 

 

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 

 

 

The Heavyweight Dilemma, Vitali Klitschko vs Shannon Briggs

The longtime hue and cry over the current state of the heavyweight division has only intensified these past few months as top contenders, David Haye, Alexander Povetkin, and Thomsz Adamek have refused to fight Vitali Klitschko or his brother Wladimir.

Shannon the Cannon

Shannon the Cannon

Instead, Vitali will defend his WBC belt against a very hungry and now very lean and mean Shannon The Cannon Briggs. Briggs has managed to maneuver into a #9 WBC ranking, but is otherwise not highly ranked by the various orgs and websites. Basically, the complaint is that he has done nothing to warrant a title shot, the same complaint leveled at Vitali’s last opponent, Albert Sosnowski.

Read my previous musings on those claims here, inserting the formidably muscled up Briggs for the muscled up Sosnowski.

https://roberto00.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/the-battle-of-the-weakest-links/

Typically,  overemoting critics fail to understand the dynamics of leveraging a big heavyweight promotion, nor do they have any sense of the rankings or depth of the heavyweight division, preferring the easier job of bigging up the one or two names of their favored fighters as if that was all that was needed to make a prizefight, much less a title fight, the mere suggestion of personal desire.

Here are some recent Boxrec rankings as of September 5th while Vitali, Wlad, and David Haye were all putting together their fights. Keep in mind that Boxrec is the largest of the few ranking orgs that rank more than 10 or 15 fighters in a division.

The (notes) are mine of course:

1. Wlad

2. Vitali

3. Haye (already backed out of one signed and sealed contract and refused recent 50/50 offer by the Klitschkos, signing to defend against Audley Harrison in spite of repeated denials that he was even in negotiations)
4. Adamek (pending to allow cuts to heal, but apparently fighting Maddalone in Dec)
5. Chagaev (beat badly by Wlad and currently Haye’s mandatory)
6. Povetkin (refused to sign negotiated agreement to challenge in Wlad’s last defense, thus losing his 2 yr long mandatory ranking, not to mention his trainer, Teddy Atlas, says Povetkin is not yet ready to challenge for the title.)
7. Valuev (interesting deal was almost put together against Vitali, but out into next year with left shoulder/wrist surgery)
8. Peter (beat badly by Wlad 2x/Vitali 1x)
9. Thompson (beat badly by Wlad with no following)
10. Chambers (beat badly by Wlad and still rebuilding)
11. Arreola (beat badly by Vitali and still rebuilding)
12. Dimitrenko (new EBU champ, but turned down Klitschko offers, maybe building into a much bigger promotion in the next year of two)
13. Gomez (beat badly by Vitali and a last ditch opponent for now)
14. Sexton (busy being knocked out by Chisora)
15. Boytsov (maybe in the future, but only 24 and shaking off the rust after coming back from hand surgery, now is not his time, maybe a year or two in a bigger promotion)
16. Austin (beat badly by Wlad with no following)
17. Helenius (very promising prospect recently breaking into fringe contender. Maybe a year or two away in a much bigger promotion)
18. Solis (chubby growing into a blimp with promoter problems looking like he’s moving to challenge for the WBA cheese belt, not the Klitschkos)
19. Pianeta (who dat?)
20. T Ibragimov (The lesser talented of the Russian Iggys, his cousin already lost a shutout against Wlad)
21. Sosnowski (beat badly by Vitali and rebuilding against Dimitrenko)
22. Ustinov (undefeated Russian Bigfoot monster promoted by Ks and wants a Kbro. I’m guessing Vitali’s retirement fight if he makes it past Briggs and can’t sign Haye or Valuev)
23. Holyfield (Oh, brother, where art thou buried? Jeez…..)
24. Platov (who? See Pianeta!)
25. Johnson (beat worse than badly by Vitali……..please, watching Vitali try to stuff a giant squash into a blender would be better stuffing for a Saturday night turkey……..nevermore…….nevermore…….)

So, thusly informed, now say HELLO to one Shannon The Cannon Briggs, lifelong asthmaholic, part time wastrel, yet all while breaking the all time first round KO record first officially recorded by Jack Dempsey in his all time tear through the heavy division. Briggs has 31 first round KOs, unofficially 32 but for failing a post fight drug test, probably a positive test result for ganja. Briggs is unabashedly Jamaican after all.

Briggs is a strange one alright. He was a dynamic, charismatic young personality who won the ‘Dream’ “Lineal” heavyweight title with a dubious decision over the nearing 50 yr old Big George Foreman, then was knocked out in a ferocious slugfest against WBC champ Lennox Lewis in his very next bout. Instead of rebuilding, he partied hardy and let his training and weight go, thus was written off as a wasted talent.

In spite of all the above shortcomings, many years later he managed to renew “The Dream” when Briggs lifted the WBO title from the then highly regarded Siarhei Liakhovich with a Hail Mary last second knockout in the 12th round, a title that Briggs promptly dropped in his first defense. He then retired to hit the all you can eat buffets for 2 yrs before coming back hard with 4 straight 1st rd Kos.

Now Briggs finds himself square in the middle in his 3rd opportune “Dream ” when Haye, Adamek, and Povetkin all shut down and beat strategic retreats rather than to fight the brothers in a losing cause. As the “2x” champ with an established name, Briggs should bring in the business once the promotion starts touting his KO record.

Der Knock-outers

Der Knock-outers

Brigg’s may be much older and slower of hand and foot than Sosnowski, but hugely larger and stronger, remaining a danger from rds 1-12. He’s already been making the right noises about knocking Vitali out, and while his overall boxing skills may be lacking for a top contender, he has the top experience, hunger, guile, and the natural talent and power to pull off the kind of spectacular upset that nobody else in the division would be capable of.

Bigger upsets have happened in the one punch Big Boy division, that’s for sure.

Der Braumeistrisses

Der Braumeistrisses

Vitali is self promoted and has chosen a juicy date in Germany after all the Oktoberfest lederhosen has been put away, Saturday, October 16th, at the O2 arena in Hamburg. Apparently he will be throwing a rock concert before and after since the bout appears to be the sole fight on the card.

It was quite the slap in the face of Haye that Vitali chose a weekend of WBC boxing festivities in London to do the initial promotion of the bout, but Haye appears to be quite shameless in avoiding any true challenge to his WBA belt he acquired under dubious circumstances. He instead kept himself squirreled away in a secret bunker in London, all while exchanging bitter twitter tweets with The A-Force, Audley Harrison in the Great ’10 Tweet Street War of Sweet Nothings & Handbags.

Yet there is also much reputation and respect to be lost for Vitali if he were to lose to Briggs who is widely derided as previously mentioned in spite of his obvious danger, but Vitali had little choice given the limitations of his division that has seen the Klitschkos dominate their opposition in a fashion never before seen in the history of the division.

Dr. Ironfist

Dr. Ironfist

Both are aging fighters born only months apart for whom the wheels may go flying off without warning. Briggs has many more fights, but owing to his impressive 1st round KO record, they have logged near identical pro rounds, 196 for Vitali and 194 for Briggs.

Vitali has a very long amateur record compared to Briggs and was also a championship kick boxer for several years, so his odometer has significantly more miles on the clock, making him more vulnerable in theory.

The promotion should be a success overall with the European, ie, German public for whom this fight is being targeted.

Briggs 262 - Klitschko 251

Briggs 262 – Klitschko 251

This was supposed to be Vitali’s last year before retirement, after all, he will be 40 yrs old next year, but like Manny Pacquiao’s last year, it may prove to be impossible to walk away from all the money on the table for his fights.

We shall see what The Fates deal out in a couple of weeks. It could be a prototypical methodical Vitali beatdown, or an upset for the new age, so tune in if you want to see knockout record setting heavyweights still in full command their game.

 

A Message From the Boss

A Message From the Boss