Tuesday, May 29, 2012

From Beyond the Grave - Classics in Print

Photo: Cottrell-Ashley Studio

"In two rounds other than the deciding one the crowd was lifted to its feet by knockdowns. In the sixteenth Ketchel landed a right and left swing to the body and the jaw that stretched Thomas flat on his back, near the center of the ring and it looked as though everything was over. But the Californian was on his feet at the count of 'four,' and succeeded in keeping away until the gong gave him a vital respite. He came up groggy for the seventeenth, and had the Butte boy pressed his advantage, instead of pecking away and clinching, the fight might have ended then and there. In the twenty-seventh a right cross to the jaw as they came out of a clinch took Ketchel off his feet and sat him down with a bump. Here he displayed his wonderful coolness. With thousands of people splitting their throats for Thomas, Ketchel deliberately drew his knees up to his chin, clasped his hands around his shins and looked the referee squarely in the eye, while that official, Timekeeper Harting being unable to make himself heard, stooped over him and went through the pantomime of counting. At the count of 'nine' he was up and backing away from a rush. He was doing his dizzy best to cover up at the ropes when the gong saved him."

     - San Diego Union, Stanley Ketchel vs. Joe Thomas II, 1907

Monday, May 28, 2012

Violent Meditation - Carl Froch Steamrolls Lucian Bute, Ji-Hoon Kim Edges Alisher Rahimov & More

Photo: Getty Images

The super middleweight division is apparently alive and well, based on the last few weeks of action from overseas. It's difficult to say how exactly Lamont Peterson vs. Amir Khan II would've unfolded, but if it were anything like the first bout, it might have at least hinted at taking a little focus off the 168 lb. entertainment we've gotten. 

Mikkel Kessler's annihilation of Allan Green (video) in Denmark last weekend was a little more competitive and interesting than this week's extra-middleweight match, but both have been the talk of the town since they've happened. 

There was other stuff that happened this weekend though, and some of it was worth spending time on. 

Past Carl Froch's eye-opening mincemeatery of Lucian Bute (video) in Nottingham, there were a handful of different styles and classes to choose from over the weekend, like former contender turned former B-side Pablo Cesar Cano pounding out a stoppage over Fidel Monterrosa on the undercard of Sergio Thompson's mop-up of Juan Solis, Ji-Hoon Kim's extremely busy decision over Alisher Rahimov, and then some. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Carl Froch Topples Lucian Bute, Seizes IBF Belt

Photo: Getty Images

The last two weeks have shown that although super middleweight isn't usually a glitzy division, it can still entertain and has been worth the second look. Despite Showtime's apparent sudden disinterest in the weight class, life has gone on as usual for most at 168 lbs. without big network support. 

Super middleweight may not be the deepest or house the best talent in the sport top to bottom, but for a couple of years now, top guys have been facing top guys, and there's not a whole lot more one could ask of a particular set of fighters at or around the same weight. 

Last weekend in Denmark, Mikkel Kessler rose from a knockdown in the 1st and rendered Allan Green a useless heap in the 4th, fighting for only the second time in two years, but creating plenty of buzz in the process. 

This week, two of the best guys in the division met up to iron out details in terms of who deserves clear recognition as second best behind the divisional kingpin Andre Ward. 

In attempting to make his 10th defense as the IBF super middleweight belt's caretaker, Lucian Bute was mauled into submission in 5 rounds (video) at Nottingham Arena by Showtime Super Six World Boxing Classic finalist Carl Froch, and in the latter's home town of Nottingham, no less. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ji-Hoon Kim Toughs Out Decision Over Alisher Rahimov, Vince Thompson Out-Points Joell Godfrey

When pickings are slim on the U.S. fight scene due to cancellations, dramas and whatever other nonsense, fight fans need something a bit more rock solid to cling to when on the brink of starvation. 

It's nice having a program to depend on, and Friday Night Fights came through with a little bit of Ji-Hoon Kim action, which by now should probably be designated an official boxing idiom whether he's fighting or not. Kim is the type of fighter that's able to elevate the overall entertainment value of a boxing broadcast, and even when the co-feature is mostly snooze-worthy. 

He and fellow lightweight Alisher Rahimov traded shots and took turns executing their respective game plans over 10 rounds in St. Louis, and a difficult to score bout ended with Kim winning by unanimous decision. In said dreary co-feature, undefeated heavyweight prospect Vince Thompson took a wide unanimous verdict over bland should-be cruiserweight Joell Godfrey in 8. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Soothsaying - Lucian Bute vs. Carl Froch, Ji-Hoon Kim vs. Alisher Rahimov & More

For the second week in a row, the most notable fight on our schedule happens overseas and comes to us at a wonky early/late afternoon hour (depending on your time zone) that we're not very used to on weekends these days. 

The most significant difference between this week and last, though, is that the biggest fight this weekend likely has a bit more potential in terms of action over a number of rounds, and hopefully it provides some cancellation-weary American fans with as much or more entertainment as last weekend's Mikkel Kessler vs. Allan Green clash

Lucian Bute and Carl Froch face off in Froch's hometown of Nottingham this Saturday, while Friday Night Fights is in danger of falling into some sort of solid action match up groove in featuring South Korean pressure cooker Ji-Hoon Kim against Alisher Rahimov, an unbeaten Russia-based Uzbek looking to make something of himself. 

And there's more, with a few prospects and a couple of guys riding the fame earned from facing bigger names.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Violent Meditation - Mikkel Kessler One Shots Allan Green, Karim Mayfield Dumps Raymond Serrano & More

Photo: Wende

Lamont Peterson testing positive for a banned substance a few weeks ago and its subsequent fallout left a gaping hole in this past weekend's boxing schedule, and needless to say there didn't seem to be much to look forward to. But we survived, and maybe had a few laughs too. 

The only even remotely Earth-shattering thing that went down was Mikkel Kessler's borderline frightening demolition of Allan Green, but some other good stuff too, and mostly concerning fighters defending undefeated records. 

For instance, veritable skyscraper who just happens to double as a British heavyweight David Price stayed unbeaten with a noteworthy stoppage of his own, and prospect Karim Mayfield may have graduated from prospect to contender with a booming right hand and some bad calls from his opponent's corner and the ref. 

Despite nothing big on U.S. television, there was actually entertaining boxing on, and it's not far out of reach of you're willing to dig a bit.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Random Classics - Aaron Davis vs. Mark Breland

There existed a time, not so long ago, when amateur boxing amounted to much more than an unsatisfying hors d'oeuvre to the main course of the professional ranks. 

It's not that amateur pugilism cannot be entertaining and fun to watch, but the current system almost seems to actually discourage action fights with quick stoppages and point per punch regulations. 

This current period of general disinterest in the American amateur game in particular may not last long though, as reports say the U.S. will be sending representatives for nine of 10 weight classes to the London Olympics this summer. Even so, the attention will likely pale in comparison to the 1976 or 1984 U.S. Olympic Boxing Teams. 

In itself, that's not an insult -- those teams were legitimately great, and boxing was still a household sport at the time. But past that, amateur boxing back then was arguably better preparation for the professional ranks than it is now. Quick stoppages and emphasis on landing pecking blows that simply score points wouldn't seem to do fighters any favors when quality is king in the pros. 

Nonetheless, one amateur boxing institution that over the years has conveyor belted out very good and truly great fighters is the New York Daily News Golden Gloves. Jose Torres, Emile Griffith, Johnny Saxton, Riddick Bowe, "Sugar" Ray Robinson -- all New York Golden Gloves champions. And they were all known for participating in solid action fights before turning professional. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Karim Mayfield Bombards Raymond Serrano, Escalera and Brinson Draw

Photo: Star Boxing

Friday Night Fights continued its much appreciated upswing this week, and bouts once again lived up to expectations for the most part. Having hit a nice little stride with a few weeks in a row of solid bang ups, fight makers at ESPN seem to have either gotten in tune with the desires of fight fans, or they just got sick of what had to have been some not-quite-excellent ratings of the earlier shows in the season. 

Overall three fighters kept their unbeaten records intact as Karim Mayfield suckered Raymond Serrano into a bruising TKO loss, and Jason Escalera and Nick Brinson skirmished to a stalemate at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York. 

And we even got our weekly share of Mike Tyson references, and then some, from commentator Teddy Atlas, as the son of his old pal and fellow Tyson trainer Kevin Rooney happened to also fight on the televised portion of the card. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Soothsaying - Mikkel Kessler vs. Allan Green, Karim Mayfield vs. Raymond Serrano & More

Photo: AP/Polfoto/Thomas Sjorup

Bare schedules sometimes don't keep boxing from maintaining its buzz from weekends past, but they're the price we pay for staying in an abusive relationship with a sport that has no official "season." 

Sure, summer and autumn have become popular times to host big events, but the trade off of having a year-round sport is that we have to endure some breaks here and there. 

It's not difficult to find enjoyment away from the heavily covered fight cards though. Bouts needn't have a huge promotion to host worthwhile action, and that's the potential scenario this weekend. 

Borderline-great Dane Mikkel Kessler faces off against fizzled out kinda contender Allan Green in Copenhagen, Denmark; 31-year-old undefeated prospect Karim Mayfield will see fellow unbeaten up-and-comer Raymond Serrano across from him in Albany, New York; another potential talent in Mauricio Pintor fights Ivan Cano in Mexico City; plus some other stuff that could entertain. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Gift Us Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Erik Morales

"Sugar" Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns round out what is affectionately referred to as "The Fab Four" -- a group of 1980's era fighters (for the most part) that were all great in their own right, but brought out the best in one another when sharing a ring. Poll a group of hardcore boxing followers as to who their favorite fighters are, and there's a very good chance at least one of the four lands on their list somewhere, and for good reason. 

Leonard vs. Hearns I, Duran vs. Leonard I, Hagler vs. Hearns? Between only four fighters, that's a boatload of quality leather trading right there, and there were a handful more match ups involving two of the four, few of which were dull. 

Since their respective retirements, and not counting Ray's first dozen before actually retiring, the boxing community has been scouring canvases for the next Fab Four. And they've been right under our noses for a solid decade. 

Manny Pacquiao, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez present the next best thing to the above quartet, and perhaps even better. 

But only if the boxing gods can find a way to anoint us with the greatness that would be a Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Erik Morales meeting in July. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Willie Nelson Plays Yudel Jhonson An Upset Tune, Badou Jack Wins Split Decision

Photo: Tom Casino/Showtime

As critical as fans have absolutely had a right to be about 2012's ShoBox failure-a-thon, credit must be given for two very good action cards in a row. 

A few weeks ago, Thomas Oosthuizen and Luis Del Valle came out on top over Marcus Johnson and Christopher Martin respectively, and entertained thoroughly in the process. It was a break from the road ShoBox had been going down, which had been more along the lines of stuff worthy of non-televised cards in Idaho high school gyms. 

Tonight junior middleweight Willie Nelson peeled his lanky self up off the canvas to seize a meaningful decision win from former undefeated Cuban prospect Yudel Jhonson, and super middleweight up-and-comer Badou Jack barely outdid Colombian poor man's Sergio Martinez impersonator Alexander Brand to win a split verdict. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

From Beyond the Grave - The Critic

"There was no occasion for surprise in the announcement from the police department that a prize fight had been fought just outside the city limits a few nights ago. The scarcity of events of this character is the only feature that should excite wonder. When the reforming busy-bodies killed legitimate boxing in this city several months ago the 'Advertiser' expressed the belief that brutal private encounters would succeed the more scientific form of the sport."

     - Trenton Evening Times, 1902