Saturday, July 30, 2011

WBC Gets Handsy Again, Strips Bradley

Photo: AP/Carlos Osorio

The idiocy and self-serving shadiness of alphabet organizations in boxing isn't only nothing new, but it's been beaten into our routine so steadfastly that their weekly press releases describing ratings maneuvering don't garner much more than shrugs.

When we forget to dole out the kudos and pats on the back to presidents, ambassadors and notary boys of alphabet sanctioning orgs, they remind us with updates from conventions and celebrations at resorts in places like Cancun, Manila and Panama City. 

Journalists and boxing heads jot down their lists of issues in boxing that demand attention quite frequently. And when they do, the blood-sucking sanctioning organizations are somewhere near or at the top much more often than not. 

They're like a monarchy ruling over an ocean of serfs who occasionally stage the odd uprising - sometimes the peasants are able to sting the ruling class with small rebellions, but by and large, their will be done.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Random Classics - Matthew Saad Muhammad vs. 'Yaqui' Lopez I & II

"War is thus an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will."     - On War, Carl von Clausewitz

One of the more notable warriors in the sport of boxing, Matthew Saad Muhammad, had but one will when stepping through the ropes: lay waste to the guy standing across from him at the opening bell. 

Not exactly a shrinking violet himself, Alvaro "Yaqui" Lopez wasn't the same type of destroyer that Saad Muhammad savored being. What he lacked in any department, he made up for with a grinding tenacity, will, and surreal toughness. 

And in a sport where hyperbole and bluster often give way to the reminder that getting punched doesn't feel good, true, unwavering warriors are deservedly celebrated. 

Rarer still, is managing to bang a sizable dent into the fabric of a truly great era of fighters in a given division, by way of unforgettable smash-up. 

These men did it twice, making a fraction of what guys these days haul in for tip-toeing around the ring and faking low blows. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reality Trumps Hype as Amir Khan Waxes Zab Judah

Photo: AP/Julie Jacobson

Zab went out, and it was with more whimper than bang.

Thankfully the drama was kept to a relative minimum, though still a main facet of post-fight discussion at this point. 

During a promotion and build up that was more interesting than the fight itself, Zab claimed to be a changed man. 

Amir Khan became the latest fighter to demonstrate that Zab Judah, once again, was the exact same fighter he's always been. 

Khan, now 26-1 (18 KO), marched forward behind a stiff jab, using a height and reach advantage to keep Judah on his heels and wary of moving his hands. A bloodied, bruised and swollen Zab Judah hit the deck from a body shot in round 5 that was, at worst, a slightly low punch, tried to play it off as a legit low blow, and laid in a motionless heap as referee Vic Drakulich slowly and clearly counted to ten. 

In fairness to Judah, who falls to 41-7 (28 KO) with 2 No Contests, the orthodox vs. southpaw matchup produced a handful of headbutts and collisions between the two, and much of Zab's swelling seemed to be a result of head clashes. 

Throwing more than twenty-something punches per round, however, might have helped stave off the controlled rushes of Amir Khan and prevented the Brit from nabbing Zab's IBF belt. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Razing the Kingdom of Judah - Amir Khan vs. Zab Judah Preview

Though it may seem like eons ago that amateur boxing was considered relevant to contemporary professional pugilism, the non-paid ranks still continue to churn out fighters with star potential. 

Most of the top names in the sport - guys like Mayweather Jr, Cotto, both Klitschko brothers, even Manny Pacquiao - had unusually successful amateur stints.

Additionally, and not surprisingly, Cuban amateurs continue to defect and become at least short-term success stories of the sweet science. 

Junior welterweight belt-holders Amir Khan and Zab Judah are no exception to this phenomena. 

Khan, now on a breakaway towards stardom with a record of 25-1 (17 KO), was an amateur standout in the U.K., stuffing a number of amateur championships under his belt, before winning Silver in the 2004 Olympics. 

Judah claims a final amateur record of 110-5, and took home a National Golden Gloves title in 1995, a PAL National Championship in 1996, and three NY Golden Gloves titles. Zab failed to qualify for the 1996 U.S. Olympic team, however, losing to future titlist David Diaz in the box-off. 

The link between amateur and professional success, though now more blurry, is still quite strong. 

But on top of amateur success, a fighter must prove himself watchable. That is, offer some style point, quirk or gimmick that draws the attention of potential ticket buyers and television viewers. Whether they're for or against you, the numbers trump all.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Here's to Karma - A Look at Upcoming Fights

Getty Images

Weary from a pestilence of inept and/or corrupt judges, moron promoters, depraved sanctioning organizations and countless short-sighted "state commissioner"-like suits wielding much more power over boxing than they deserve, naively persistent fans are owed a reprieve. 

Or at least a reminder of how things were unfolding before the latest string of frustrating stroke-inducers. 

Aside from recent snafus and outright calamities, the action over the last year or so has usually been enjoyable. Divisions like bantamweight, super middleweight and featherweight are the gifts that look to keep giving for a little while longer, with some surprises at light heavyweight. Meanwhile junior welterweight is poised to reclaim the popularity it held in the early 2000's. 

Fine-tuning or even revamping the system that at times appears broken may be an impossible task. Many have claimed viable solutions, few have had the clout or desire to implement them. Not with so much money invested in television fighters based on who they call "advisers" or "promoters" - guys who usually do very little advising or promoting, but rather act as middle men, pimping out TV dates. 

Make no mistake. The dynamic is unlikely to be altered easily.  

In the meantime, a couple of high profile fights approach that can help lift the fans' spirits clear out of their rut. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Reflections After the Seething

Photo: AP/Rich Schultz

There exist many idioms, sayings and clich├ęs in boxing that are gobbled up by mainstream press and loathed by fans and proponents of the sweet science. 

"Black eye for boxing" is probably towards the top of the list - perhaps above "This is why boxing isn't popular anymore." 

This last weekend in Atlantic City, the terribly putrid decision to name Paul Williams the winner over Erislandy Lara gave the naysayers proper justification to shout the ills of boxing from the rooftops; it was bad enough that the last line of defense die-hard fans would be up there shouting alongside them. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Random Classics - Acelino Freitas vs. Jorge Barrios

PhotoL Hector Gabino/AFP/Getty Images

To observant fans and media, Freitas vs. Barrios wasn't one of those matchups whose promotion and build-up flew under the radar, only for the fight to become a seemingly unanticipated success. Those who paid attention were well aware of its potential to draw a large live crowd as well, regardless of the outcome. 

Many fans probably tuned in to the Showtime triple-header for a glance at then-rising future star "Panchito" Bojado, and the Freitas-Barrios main event looked to be an undefeated headliner who could bang, against an eccentric character with a boisterous posse and decent knockout percentage.

A nice cherry on top to South American fight fans, matching a Brazilian against an Argentinian in Miami - one of the few U.S. cities with a respectable concentration of both Brazilians and Argentinians - would surely serve as a mere extension of the famed Brazil-Argentina football rivalry. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Random Classics - George Foreman vs. Ron Lyle

During the week of January 24, 1976, it's more likely that sports fans were debating missed field goals from Superbowl X the weekend before to the tune of their brand new "Frampton Comes Alive" records, than worrying about the comeback of a hulking figure once considered the most feared guy around. 

George Foreman would give them a little under 15 minutes worth of a jarring wake up though, as he went on to deliver one of the more classic performances of his career, with a little help from fifth-ranked heavyweight contender Ron Lyle. 

The tumultuous battle was more natural disaster than prizefight - like two sizable structures taking turns battering one another to see which falls first. 

The two-way walloping is still a fan favorite over 30 years later. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Wladimir Klitschko Embarrasses David Haye in Frustrating Affair

Photo: AP/Frank Augstein

Embarrassment has been plentiful among the big men of boxing for quite a while now. But whether the shame should stem from being 30 lbs. heavier than necessary and sadly out of shape, or undeservedly maneuvered into a favorable ranking or position far outside the proper pay grade, varied from one miserable pug to another. 

Many have been both undeserving and out of shape.

More importantly, the dearth of quality fighters and worthy challengers isn't any one person's fault, but it's an issue that's plagued the division for far too long.

Unfortunately Wladimir Klitschko's unanimous decision victory over former unified cruiserweight champion David Haye on HBO Saturday provided no deviation from the usual recipe of letdown with a side order of disappointment.

At this stage heavyweight fights should automatically come with antacid tablets upon being signed.