Azn Badger's Blog

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Khan vs. Peterson: Great Fight, Poor Officiating

Pictured: Lamont Peterson rips Amir Khan to the body.

Last Saturday night, Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson gave the boxing community a gift it will seldom forget.

Sadly, that gift, much like an Indiana Jones marathon, was possessed of a conclusion that well and truly shat all over the greatness that preceded it.

In this age of protected champions and risk-reward matchmaking, it’s rare to see 2 young fighters square off in their physical prime, particularly when one of them essentially holds all the cards at the negotiating table I.E. Khan.

Regardless of whether it was due to arrogance on the part of Golden Boy, or simply due to the dearth of headline worthy talent at Jr. Welterweight willing to step into ring with “King” Khan, at the end of the day Khan-Peterson turned out to be tremendous fight in spite of the controversy that would surround it’s questionable officiating.

In particular, the fight served to rekindle my appreciation for Peterson, as despite being impressed by his early bouts, by this point I’d just about written him off as a credible world champion caliber fighter.

Indeed, sometimes it feels good to be wrong.

The fight started out at a fast clip, with Khan circling and shooting out flashy combinations at distance while Peterson struggled to close the distance.

Despite both fighters being possessed of natural quickness of both feet and hands, it was clear from the start that Khan’s lengthy strides and wild punching was going give him a clear edge in a straight up boxing match.

Ducking awkwardly at times, and rarely going on the offensive in the first several minutes of the fight, Peterson looked to be stymied by Khan’s physical advantages, advantages that typically belong to Peterson himself in most of his fights.

Despite this however, Peterson did well to avoid or block most of Khan’s flurries, pressuring him all the while.

Fortunately, despite suffering a slip and a balance related knockdown in the first round, Peterson proceeded undaunted into the fight, adopting a brawling fight plan that has heretofore been unseen in career up until now.

Pictured: Amir Khan standing over the toppling, but still game Lamont Peterson.

Typically thought of as a boxer-puncher with an emphasis on “boxer,” Lamont Peterson entered into the 3rd and 4th rounds of his fight Khan a full-on rough and tumble brawler.

Employing his own formidable footwork and speed as a launchpad for his offense, Peterson chased Khan about the ring as few others have done before.

In the past, Khan’s one glaring weakness was always his questionable chin.

Floored by Breidis Prescott in embarrassing fashion, and hurt by several other fighters earlier in his career, Khan’s chin has always cast a shadow over his potential worth as a elite level fighter, however in recent years, after having moved up in weight to Jr. Welterweight and begun training under Freddie Roach, his chin has become less of an issue.

Last year however, against the brick-fisted plodder Marcos Maidana, Khan found himself wobbled and nearly out on his feet in the 10th as a result of late comeback rally from the Argentinean.

My account of the fight can be read HERE.

While Maidana succeeded in making Khan look bad in the last few rounds of their fight, he was able to do so mainly because of Khan’s fatigue, defensive failings, and inability to finish him in the 1st round in spite of putting him down with a crippling body shot.

I wouldn’t call it a lucky shot per se, however I’d argue Maidana’s success in that fight had as much to do with his immeasurable intestinal fortitude as it did Khan’s own failings and lack of focus.

That being said, when Lamont Peterson came out for the 3rd round, and showed Amir Khan what can happen when a guy with good head movement and footwork comes out to brawl, pushed Khan to the edge from that point forward.

Khan may have stumbled into a bad situation with Maidana, but last Saturday night, Lamont Peterson brought the trouble straight to his front door.

While pressure fighters, and guys with iron-chins are a dime a dozen, it’s truly a rare sight to see a guy with technical pedigree put their skills towards hounding and clubbing away at another, equally technical fighter.

For me, it was like watching a carefully choreographed, bloodsoaked ballet.

Khan would skip about in his uppity way, trying to create distance, and, as if tethered to him with an invisible fishing line; Peterson would step right along with him, pounding away at the body all the way.

Watching expert infighters work their magic is one of the greatest spectacles in all of boxing, however watching Peterson, an innate boxer, lay into Khan with such agility and elegance, was a impressive and almost artful display of the craft I’ve rarely seen.

Throughout rounds 3 and 4, Peterson managed to breach Khan’s comfort zone and rip him with thudding body blows.

For whatever reason however, likely due to fear of overextending himself in his relentless, but physically taxing body attack, Peterson slowed down in the 5th and 6th round, doing extraordinarily well to avoid punches through careful shoulder points and rolls, but essentially gave the rounds away due to inactivity.

Pictured: Amir Khan swats Lamont Peterson across the chest with a hook.

The rest of the fight proceeded at a entertaining and feverish pace, with the lead changing virtually every 2 rounds.

By the end of it all, in spite of Peterson’s eye-opening performance, I expected a draw, or a 1 point victory for Khan.

As has been the case in virtually every fight in the past several months though, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Amir Khan, despite sounding like a whiny and decidedly broken-ass record in his post fight interview, claimed he felt he was fighting 2 men in the ring last Saturday night.

While I hate the idea of hometown favoritism in boxing, (the fight was held in Washington D.C., Peterson’s hometown) in all honesty, I feel there’s some truth to Khan’s claim.

Most of the judges for the Khan-Peterson fight were seasoned vets, and their scoring, based on the referees’ rulings, seemed entirely legit for the most part.

The real problem with the fight, despite the crowd-pleasing and competitive nature of the actual contest, was in the officiating of it.

In short, referee Joe Cooper did not strike me as a world class in-ring official.

Pictured: Joe "Coop Man" Cooper.

From the moment the 2 fighters touched gloves, and Cooper yelled the equivalent of “Look at me, I’m on TV!” you could tell he wasn’t quite up to snuff.

While an odd observation to make, given that he’s just a ref, Cooper struck me as particularly ungraceful and uncoordinated in the ring.

Often in poor viewing position of the action, and worse yet, often physically obstructing the fighter’s paths to one another, Cooper himself was actually the direct cause of Lamont Peterson’s slip in the first round.

Pictured: Referee Joe Cooper sweeping the leg.

That’s right, Lamont Peterson actually fell to the canvas due to having gotten his legs tangled with those of a slow and clumsy-as-fuck ref named Joe Cooper.

Another observation I made during the fight, was the fact that Cooper spent nearly the entire fight, or at the least the second half of it, yelling almost exclusively at Amir Khan.

There wasn’t a whole lot of clinching in the fight, as is typical of “good” fights, but there was a lot of leaning, mostly due to Peterson’s rough and physical infighting; however instead of telling the fighters to “punch/work out,” I noticed Cooper would always yell:

“Fight out Khan!”

Peterson was the one initiating the tie-ups, so if anyone, he should’ve have been the one being yelled at.

It probably doesn’t mean anything, but personally I started to get irritated by the one-sided nature of the referee’s chastisements.

All of this however, is merely a prelude to the true wrongdoings of Joe Cooper’s inept/corrupt officiating.

Throughout the first half of the fight, Cooper occasionally scolded Khan for pushing.

By scolded, I mean he wagged his finger at him, and told him to knock it off.

At the very end of the 7th however, Cooper actually stopped Khan from returning to his corner, and deducted a point for pushing.

Pictured: Joe Cooper deducting a point for pushing.

He deducted a point, for pushing.

I know pushing is technically illegal in the official rules of boxing, but to this day I’ve never seen it enforced.

It’s like clinching.

Clinching is technically illegal, but I never saw Ricky Hatton or B-Hop get points deducted for it.

Hell, when you get right down to it, some guys made their whole careers out of strong arming and pushing their opponents.

How do you think Jake LaMotta fought his way into the hall of fame?

How do you think Joe Frazier gave Muhammad Ali hell every time they stepped into the ring together?

How do you think Wladimir Klitschko is still the premier heavyweight in the world?

Oh wait, because when he feels like it, he can do this to people:

Pushing, or otherwise forcibly manipulating one’s opponent to create an advantageous position in the ring, is an expected consequence of a sport in which 2 people people punch each other in the brain all night.

Boxing isn’t always a give and take affair ala Rock and Sock ‘Em Robots.

That’s part of what makes it among the most inherently dramatic, visceral and human of all sports.

If a guy was tearing my gut to shreds with body blows all night, obscure 150 year old regulations aside, I could definitely see myself trying to push him away to catch a breather.

That being said, despite his horrible conduct in the fight through the 7th round, Joe Cooper went on to top himself by deducting another point from Khan for pushing in the 12th and final round.

Joe Cooper: "I AM, THE LAW!"

He deducted 2 points.

For pushing.

Who the fuck does that!?

Joe FUCKING Cooper that’s who.

So, on top of announcing himself to the cameras like a bro-hemian douche-rocket, on top of spending the whole night yelling at the foreign guy, on top of deducting 2 points for fucking pushing; Joe Cooper also single-handedly reversed the outcome of the fight.

That’s right, 2 judges awarded Peterson the victory via scores of 113-112, meaning Joe Cooper’s point deductions made all the difference.

Truly, it does indeed suck to be wrong sometimes.

As awesome as the fight was, it truly saddens me to know that boxing is, and forever will be, corrupt as a Chicago political official.

Filed under: Boxing, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Miguel Cotto: I Worry Some Times…

I worry about Miguel Cotto.

Ever since the first time I saw him fight, back in ’05 against Muhammad Abdullaev, he was supposed to be my guy in boxing.

He was supposed to be the fighter whose career I would fervently follow and admire, win or lose.

He wasn’t supposed to be the fighter I was always worrying about.

Miguel Cotto is, in many ways; the quintessential Puerto Rican fighter.

While his style consists of a combination of pressure-based infighting and skillful counter-punching, (backed by an impressive jab) everything he does has a “swagger” to it, a sense of theatricality and flash.

Unfortunately, it is this “swagger” that has always made me worry about Miguel Cotto.

Boxing is a sport that is, above all; won through skillful observation and analysis.

Occasionally, a fighter will come around that can overcome their opponents with pure athleticism and raw physicality I.E. Roy Jones Jr., but in most cases it is a fighter’s mind, timing and reflexes that win the day.

It is a sport wherein predictability and tendencies are a fighter’s worst enemy.

Miguel Cotto has quirks, and they aren’t the good kind.

Most of these quirks are fairly minor, and aren’t really an issue, such as his tendency to cross his legs or readjust his footing prior to stepping in.

The most visible of these quirks however, is one that seems to surface in-between exchanges, particularly when Cotto parries, or is caught by a right hand.

For whatever reason, Cotto has a tendency to tuck his chin against his left shoulder, drop his left arm to his waist, and cup his right glove against his temple.

Don't even try to tell me that's a shell defense...

My theory as to it’s existence, is that Cotto has a habit of “hanging on to” his perceptions and visualizations of the fight.

That is to say, the image in his head of what he should have done tends to linger and cause him to physically carry out the appropriate action just a moment later.

I swear I’m not a psyche student.  Scout’s honor.

In my eyes, it’s an immensely visible, and more importantly; exploitable tendency that I’ve always feared would lead to Cotto getting steamrolled by aggressive fighters with accurate punches and/or high workrates.

Oh wait, that happened already.

Twice.

Now don’t get me wrong, I started out this post being pro-Cotto, and I intend to end it that way too, but it goes without saying that Miguel Cotto is a fighter that, at this stage in his career; is all too vulnerable.

Just to remind everyone, he’s only lost twice.

The first time, against the bionic Mexican, Antonio Margarito; he may have been facing a man with loaded gloves.

The second time, against Filipino phenom Manny Pacquiao; he was facing one of the best (active) fighters alive.

Neither loss should stand as a condemnation of Cotto’s standing as a fighter, however both losses were very hard to watch.

Not because he was pummeled so horribly, (he was) but because of the way he handled it.

Early in Miguel Cotto’s career, as a Junior Welterweight, he made his mark in the sport by being a “comeback kid” of sorts.

He was a dynamic and explosive fighter that had a reputation of being floored in his fights, only to get up and mount punishing offensives that would send his opponents packing.

After Cotto moved up in weight to Welterweight, a weight he claimed was healthier for him, his somewhat questionable chin seemed become less of an issue.

Personally, I feel that Cotto will never find an ideal weight class in boxing, (he’s too short for Junior Middleweight, and not all that big for a Welter) his chin will always be an iffy subject,  it just wasn’t until years later that we saw it tested again.

In his fight against the talented, but RETARDED, Zab Judah; Cotto took a monster left uppercut to the jaw during the first round that had him reeling.

He never went down, and he went on to win the fight by KO, (though Judah’s ADHD may have had more to do with that than anything else) but the point was, he was seriously hurt in that fight, and it showed.

Hell, he only punched Zab in the balls like, 30 times that night, sounds like the behavior of a hurt and/or pissed off fighter to me.

The next time we saw him seriously hurt, he was being swept away by the human tidal wave known as Antonio Margarito.

Pictured: The Bionic Mexican, Antonio Margarito

I remember the Cotto/Margarito fight vividly.

I was watching it with my parents, and my dad was rooting for Margarito, while I was backing the Puerto Rican.

My dad and I both knew Cotto was probably going to lose, but unlike my dad; I had a personal stake in the fight.

I wanted Cotto to win.

That’s what made it so hard when my guy looked the slickest he ever had in the first 5-6 rounds, only to slowly, and decisively; get clubbed to death against the corner post.

I remember my heart sinking the moment I saw Cotto take a knee without taking a punch.

It was like my generation’s “No Mas” moment.

Well, maybe not that dramatic, but it was important to me.

I wasn’t mad at Cotto for giving up, I was just blown away by the fact that actually got up and tried to fight.

It was stupid.

Pictured: An Idiot. It's Ricky Hatton, look him up.

When Arturo Gatti, or Jake LaMotta, or Tony Zale did their thing, nobody could stop them because they couldn’t stop themselves.

In their prime, you could beat any one of those guys over the head with a shovel, and somehow their mind, their body, no matter how fragmented and crippled; would find a way to stand in front of you and just keep swinging.

Hell, they used to say that Gatti was no good unless he was bleeding, God rest his soul.

Good thing he was usually swollen and/or bleeding on his way down the ramp.

Pictured: Arturo Gatti BEFORE the fight.

Seeing Miguel Cotto stand up and expect to turn the tide, after 4-5 rounds of awkwardly circling and half-heartedly jabbing at Antonio Margarito, was just plain sick.

When Miguel Cotto gets hurt, he makes mistakes.

When fighters make mistakes, they get hurt even worse.

Dissecting Miguel Cotto’s behavior while in “survival mode,” is painfully simple, even for a armchair quarterback like me.

Keep in mind, we’ve only really seen Cotto in this way on two occasions, though in this case, two times is twice too many.

Everything about his fighting reverts back to his quirks.

In short, his boxer’s mind sort of fizzles out, and all he’s left with are the comforts of his muscle memories.

Only problem is, most of his muscle memories are wrong.

He crosses his legs, he crouches too low, he retreats straight back, and he does that weird thing where he drops his hands, all while staying on his feet, but doing very little to keep himself in the fight.

Well, short of this anyway.

There are situations when the trainer should step in and stop the fight, and both of Miguel Cotto’s losses were those sort of situations.

Against the genetic freak, Manny Pacquiao, Cotto was in serious trouble for most of the fight.

In the early rounds, he did alright, landing the first real decisive blow of the fight, (a jab) and maintaining a degree of composure for the most part.

I was non-partisan for the Cotto/Pacquiao fight.

I remember watching the fight in a bar with some friends and saying to myself in the third round:

“Aw fuck, his feet are all over the place.  Pac-Man’s runnin’ circles around him.”

And it was true, Cotto was caught on far too many occasions, clumsily trying to reset his feet as he tends to do, while Pacquiao would dart in from the clever angles that have always made him dangerous.

This, is not one of those angles.

Let it be said also, that Cotto’s forehead centric guard is tailor made to make him eat straight left hands to the jaw.

Not a good thing when that’s your opponent’s money punch.

After Cotto went down, he was out of the fight.

Perhaps if he had better powers of recovery, or hadn’t been fighting as aggressive and accurate a puncher as Pacquaio, he may have been able to regain his senses and get back in the fight.

This was not the case however, and, while Cotto managed to keep Pac-Man at bay with the occasional stiff jab off the ropes every now and again, his legs spent the whole night fighting a losing battle against Pacquiao’s constant pressure.

It was truly unfortunate, for me anyway, to have had to watch Cotto stumble around, making all the same mistakes as he had in the latter rounds of the Margarito fight, for almost the whole of 12 rounds.

On a side note, I got a similar feeling of disgust watching Yuri Foreman hobble around on one leg for 3 rounds during Cotto’s most recent fight.

Mercante: "C'mon kid, suck it up." Kind of hard to do when YOU HAVE ONE LEG. Dumbass...

The Cotto/Pacquiao fight should have been stopped in the 9th round, or perhaps even sooner; end of story.

Maybe Cotto’s “survival mode” is just too good for his own safety.

Maybe he does just enough to keep the ref happy, and his opponent at bay in the hopes of hearing the final bell.

Maybe it’s his own damn fault he doesn’t just get knocked the fuck out and call it an early night.

I don’t know what to think of Miguel Cotto when he’s hurt, and all of the familiar quirks and bad habits boil to the surface.

I would never go so far as to say that Cotto’s days are numbered, and that his career is on the downward spiral, however that doesn’t keep me from worrying.

I’ll never stop watching all of Miguel Cotto’s fights, and he’ll never stop being my guy in boxing.

I am a Miguel Cotto fan, and by golly, I worry some times…

Filed under: Boxing, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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