Saturday, April 28, 2012

Denis Grachev Stuns Ismayl Sillakh On A Fun Friday Night Fights Card

Five fighters walked onto this week's Friday Night Fights broadcast undefeated -- a lineup more like the ideal ShoBox card than any of the cards we've gotten from ESPN of late. Actually, it seemed more like an ideal ShoBox card than we've gotten from a ShoBox program itself so far this season. 

Even better, it was fun. 

We don't necessarily need title fights, big names, comebacking former stars or any other fistic gimmick if the match ups are fair and the action is sweet. 

Following a highlight reel-caliber knockout and a solid swing bout, a number of fans delightfully cringed with a sense of strange karma in pocket as Denis Grachev bounced back from likely being shutout, to catch Ismayl Sillakh and pummel him into submission in eight rounds. 

To be fair to the aforementioned ShoBox, their triple-header following Friday Night Fights was a very good one. But the point is our expectations have been lowered and our guard raised when it comes to early weekend cards this year. 

So thank you, ESPN. Boxing - you're doing it right. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

From Beyond the Grave - The Paycheck

"John L. Sullivan, the Boston pugilist, had a benefit at Harry Hill's Theater yesterday afternoon, the feature of which was an offer of $50 for any man to box with him four rounds according to the rules of the Marquis of Queensbury, which are rounds of three minutes each, with one minute between each round. During the afternoon, while the sparring was going on between the volunteers, Dick Holliwood appeared on the stage with Steve Taylor and stated to the audience that Taylor was there to accept the challenge of Sullivan. It was then announced by Mr. [Richard] Fox that Sullivan would fight any man in the world in the ring for $1,000 a side, according to the rules of the English prize ring. This, however, was not taken up..." 

     - New York Herald, 1881

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Victoria aut Mors - Kid Chocolate

Referring to Cuba's boxing history as "rich" would be a weak cliché that doesn't quite do the concept justice. 

Cuba's boxing history is wealthy

Even in outlawing professional boxing in 1961, men like Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon became absolute legends without ever stepping foot in a ring for money. And thanks to Stevenson and Savon, Cuba is the only country with two three-time Olympic gold medalists. 

That's without mentioning the numerous prolific amateurs and post-ban defectors that have played significant roles in world class boxing over the years, notably "Sugar" Ramos, Joel Casamayor and Jose Napoles, though there are many others.

The birth of professional boxing in Cuba, perhaps unsurprisingly, was just about as political as its end immediately following the Revolution. But in the beginning, Cuba needed a world champion to be legitimized on an elite level. 

That's where Kid Chocolate came in. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Adonis Stevenson Swarms Noe Gonzalez for the Early Stop, Eleider Alvarez Jabs Rayco Saunders' Head Around

Photo: Dario Ayala

Albert Mensah vs. Mick Katsidis was an intravenous injection to keep us from slipping into some kind of hopelessly catatonic state last week on Friday Night Fights, and this week's match up was like a booster shot to make sure last week's treatment took. 

The aftermath of weeks of crappy ESPN matchmaking made us feel like nobody who'd graced our television sets before chucked like a Katsidis. But who does? 

The guy's a tough act to follow, win or lose. Even a week later. 

But if mismatches is what we get, then the favorites should deliver with results that thrill. 

They missed the mark a bit this week, and even managed to deliver a helping of controversy in two of the three televised fights broadcast from the Bell Centre in Montreal. 

The main even this week lasted slightly longer than it takes for LeBron James to score about 20 points (five minutes), but fueled some banter among boxing fans as Adonis Stevenson, 18-1 (15 KO), wedged Noe Gonzalez against the ropes and scored a technical knockout win in the 2nd. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lullaby League - The 12 Hardest Swatters in the Last Dozen Years

It's as though we can't get a solid chunk of good fights lately, and the up and down fluctuation plays hell with a fan's patience and emotions. A more consistent fight schedule would be nice. 

It's part of loving this game though, and sometimes a hiatus from constant action makes the heart grow fonder. Indeed, there have been times when the the thirst for blood long since sated nudges us into viewing a bout in a more positive light than perhaps it really calls for. 

For instance, the one-sided (but solid) Hank Lundy vs. Dannie Williams bout from a few weeks back on Friday Night Fights wasn't bad at all. In fact, a few times the men traded and made for a very fun watch, and there was a knockdown. But it was a mostly one-sided fight, yet it still got a fair amount of attention, and still wound up making for good discussion. 

There will always be jubilant, adrenaline-driven peaks, and heavily depressing valleys. Just like there will always be clinching, as we're painfully and annoyingly aware of after last weekend, there will always be counterpunching. Or guys afraid of getting hit. Or low blows. 

There will always be knockouts, too.

Monday, April 16, 2012

From Beyond the Grave - The Clinch

"In the clinch fighting, again Ketchel discovered that Johnson knows more in one round than the average fighter learns in a career. Ketchel as a rule is always above the average at clinch fighting, but to-day he was powerless.
There were other things about these clinches. They gave an idea of Johnson's immense strength as well. Several times he lifted Ketchel playfully off his feet and strung him around. Once, when Ketchel's legs became tangled, when the men were grappling, Johnson picked up Ketchel with one arm and placed him squarely on his feet."

     - W. W. Naughton, in describing Jack Johnson vs. Stanley Ketchel, 1909

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Resurrection Game - 5 Impressive Climbs Off the Canvas To Win

So. It's Easter Sunday -- a day millions of Christians the world over celebrate the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth some 2,000 years ago. 

Rather than rejoice with a church trip, an egg hunt or huge slab of ham, we'll take a look back at a few ghastly knockdowns that looked as if they may have maimed the guys on the receiving end. Except these men harnessed otherworldly will and not only peeled themselves off the canvas, but went on to seize a win from the snarling, rabid jaws of defeat. 

There were certainly many to choose from, but these are some of the more memorable, though not in any particular order.