Monday, December 20, 2010

Pascal Escapes With a Draw As Hopkins Shines

Leave it to Hopkins to surprise us once again.

What most thought would be either a one-sided ode to youth or an ugly tussle wound up an intriguing and at times entertaining bout at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City last night.

The immortal Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins appeared to win more rounds than he lost in the fight, but visited the canvas twice early, only managing to salvage a majority draw in a fight many felt he won. The lack of enthusiasm in crying "robbery" perhaps speaks to the old man's inability to entertain and win decisively in recent fights.

But the Philadelphia native supplied most of the entertainment in front of an obviously pro-Pascal crowd last night. Even in tying with Pascal and failing to grab his title (as he did during a recent press conference), Hopkins still put forth maybe his best performance since dominating Antonio Tarver to become the lineal 175 lb. champion.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hopkins, Pascal and the Game of Mind

Significant mind games have entered the equation for this weekend's matchup between light heavyweights Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins.

Mind games are nothing new for the old mummy from Philly. This is the same guy who twice snatched a miniature Puerto Rican flag out of the hand of Felix Trinidad, once in San Juan. The same cranky fella who made a "cash in a duffel bag" side bet with William Joppy that he'd stop the former middlweight belt-holder, or pay him out 2-to-1. And the mischief took a turn for the comical when Hopkins blew up during the promotion for his bout with Joe Calzaghe, accusing British press of racism. We've come to expect the pre-fight antics from the old man.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Bantamweight Success - Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares Through to Showtime Final

Photo: Marty Rosengarten/

There sure was hurlyburly, but we're not done.
The opening round of Showtime's Bantamweight Tournament last night appeared to reinforce what many pundits and fans have been saying for more than 2 years: bantamweight may be the best division in the sport right now.
While most would agree that Vic Darchinyan, Yonnhy Perez, Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares are top level fighters and among the best of the division, the fact that the winner of this tournament likely won't be considered the absolute best at 118 lbs. speaks to the depth and quality of bantamweight.
The excellent card also taught us a number of new things.
In Mares' split decision win over Darchinyan, we learned that Vic did indeed bring stinging power up to bantamweight with him, and that Mares' chin was good enough to take it. Unfortunately, we also learned that referee Robert Howard has no business refereeing a world title fight, and that Darchinyan can apparently sell a non-foul with the best of 'em.
Agbeko's clear decision over Perez in a rematch of their terrific October, 2009 meeting reminded us that we can never underestimate anyone at this level. No matter how we pigeonhole guys into certain style categories, world class guys will surprise us with a new trick or two every so often.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Amir Khan Survives Maidana, Lamont Peterson and Victor Ortiz Battle to a Draw

Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

Expectations were high, and eight of the best and/or most promising fighters in two of the deepest divisions in boxing didn't disappoint Saturday night.

What a great night of fights.

Overall, one title was lost in surprising fashion, another title was defended in an expectedly rough tumble, a pair of former title challengers nullified each other to a majority draw, and a former 2-division champ and young star battled to a split decision. We had boxers, sluggers, movers, in-fighting, defensive displays, point deductions, post-fight scuffles. For one night at least, we had it all.

HBO in particular went out with a bang, even though the network ended the year quite early in the month of December and isn't scheduled to air another boxing card for more than a month and a half.

As boxing network rival Showtime staged a divisional tournament between four name fighters, HBO again counter-programmed and put together their own tournament of sorts, matching up junior welterweights Victor Ortiz and Lamont Peterson, and Amir Khan and Marcos Maidana.

In the co-main, Victor Ortiz sleepwalked his way through a number of rounds after seemingly having Lamont Peterson in trouble early, earning a draw. And in the main event, Marcos Maidana survived his own early knockdown in the 1st to crack open a bottle of hell and pour it all over Amir Khan en route to losing a close decision.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Showtime Bantamweight Tournament - Yonnhy Perez vs. Joseph Agbeko Preview

November opened a potential can of worms in terms of action, whetting the appetite of boxing fans that have been long looking forward to the excitement that December may bring.

In a division filled with solid, name fighters, three separate promoters found a way to join forces and stage a tournament between four of the best guys at bantamweight. Not exactly a common occurrence these days, fans have been salivating at the idea of this single-elimination event since it was officially announced mid-September.

Though the Showtime Bantamweight Tournament hasn't been without its own hitches and venue switches, Gary Shaw and Golden Boy Promotions teamed up to headline the telecast with a collision featuring unbeaten rising star Abner Mares and former flyweight and super flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan.

The boxing gods will kindly afford fans a second helping of bantamweight goodness in the form of a support bout, in which Yonnhy Perez will defend his IBF title against Joseph Agbeko.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Showtime Bantamweight Tournament - Abner Mares vs. Vic Darchinyan Preview

"Remember, remember, the eleventh of December..."

Alright, the old rhyme doesn't exactly go that way. But for boxing fans, it should.

Just under a week away, December 11th may see the awakening of this year's snoozing beast. And Yonnhy Perez, Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares are carrying the stick with which to poke it.

Early 2010 was admittedly a less-than-stellar period for boxing in terms of bigger matchups between name fighters. Many bouts fell apart before being finalized, and some anticipated fights fell short of high expectations.

But as with a few other recent calendar years for the sport, the little guys may just make all suffering worthwhile.