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Kirkland/Angulo: One Of The Best Opening Rounds I’ve Ever Seen


I’ve always found it interesting that the first round of a boxing contest is commonly known as the “feeling out” round.

During the first 3 minutes of a typical boxing match, it’s usually expected that the fighters will be tentative, cautious, and in the case of a southpaw/conventional matchup; just plain awkward.

The first round is when fighters begin to gauge one another’s reach and distance, begin to jockey for good positioning, begin to time one another’s movements, and begin to lay the groundwork for slowing or speeding up the pace of the fight in their favor.

In a sport filled with metaphors to it, the first round in boxing truly is one of the most profound examples of liminality in the ring.

While many would look upon the a boxing match as a barbaric and savage affair, established elements of the game like the “feeling out” round serve as crystal clear reminders that, boxing may not be an inherently gentlemanly sport, but when everything comes together; there really an artful science to it.

That being said, as flowery and poetic as I’ve done my best to make it sound, the sport of boxing is at it’s core, a sport that deals in little more than 2 men standing before one another and pounding the shit out of another.

Though it undoubtedly helps a great deal, particularly in regards to extending the longevity of one’s career, one does not need to be a technical genius to succeed in the sport of professional boxing.

In the right quantity, sometimes guts, raw physicality, and unerring tenacity can be enough to carry the day.

Such was the case when James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo clashed last night in their highly anticipated bout at 154 lbs.

Pictured: Kirkland and Angulo. Jesus fuck, Angulo is ugly...

On the one hand we had James Kirkland, a stout and atypically muscular whirlwind of a fighter coming off a first loss in the form of a sudden and bizarre first round knockout to Nobuhiro Ishida, as well as a recent stint in prison for illegal firearms possession.

On the other, we have Alfredo Angulo, a bestial Bionic Mexican of the highest order with only one prior loss to the intensely bipolar Kermit Cintron.

Curiously enough, Angulo came into last night’s fight following a fairly recent Visa debacle, resulting in his deportation from the United States for the past 2 years.

In a nutshell, both fighters came into the ring last night highly regarded prospects with explosive punching power, aggressive head-first fighting styles, and less than exemplary records in regards to U.S. laws and regulations.

On paper, the matchup between these sounded like fireworks all the way.

While the fireworks didn’t last all the way through the fight, I’ll be damned if I’ve seen a first round as dramatic and visceral this side of Hagler/Hearns.

Pictured: One of the best damn fights you'll ever see.

From the opening bell, both guys stepped to center ring with bad intentions.

Kirkland came out swinging, asserting his dominance through swarming Angulo with volleys of clubbing punches at close range.

Possessed of a naturally aggressive and stalking style, Angulo took some shots in the opening 30 seconds, though his amateur pedigree occasionally shined through as he evaded shots calmly and efficiently.

Even so, the first 30-40 seconds were all Kirkland, as his attack proved so constant and smothering, that the typically offensive-minded Angulo barely managed to get off a shot.

That all changed around the 1 minute mark, on the strength of a single, heatseeking missile of a straight right hand delivered by Angulo smack dab onto the point of Kirkland’s chin.

Time seemed to freeze as Kirkland backed Angulo into corner, swinging with wild abandon, only for the courageous Mexican to suddenly step forward during a millisecond break in the action, and knock Kirkland onto his backside with one of his first cleanly landed punches in the fight.

Earlier, I mentioned James Kirkland was knocked out by Nobuhiro Ishida in the first round.

While I neglected to mention that Ishida managed to knock him down 3 times in said round, I feel it’s perhaps much more important to make mention of the fact that, despite the increasingly senile and ignorant Joe Cortez’ decision to stop the fight, Kirkland made an earnest and capable attempt to stand up every time.

Hurt, and downed 3 times, James Kirkland need to be held down by the referee in order for the contest to be brought to a halt.

If ever there were a man who defined the word “tough,” for my money it’d have to be James Kirkland.

That being said, as you might have expected, Kirkland did in fact get up from the bunker busting right hand to his jaw courtesy of Alfredo Angulo.

Not only that, while most trainers likely would have chastised him for doing so, Kirkland stood up almost immediately following the knockdown, taking nearly all of the standing 8 count on his feet.

Fortunately for James Kirkland, he trains under Ann Wolfe, who as I hope we all know, enjoys watching her fighters dole out beatings as much as she does watching them take them.

Said philosophy may not work on all occasions, but as I said before, sometimes guts count for more than anything else, and last night; you can sure as hell bet that rang true.

Storming out of the neutral corner, Angulo’s previously dormant offense erupted with an explosive torrent of punches.

On shaky legs, Kirkland foolishly stood his ground and attempted to stand and trade with rubbery arms, eating thunderous barrages of punches to the head in the process.

Eventually chasing the Gumby-legged Kirkland into the ropes and all around the ring, Angulo continued to pour on the punishment, landing blows at arms length while the referee continued to watch Kirkland like a hawk in anticipation of what appeared to be an inevitable stoppage.

After 20-30 seconds or so though, it became apparent that Kirkland was not nearly as enfeebled as he seemed.

Sure he was off-balance, and still very much in trouble, as well as largely unable to put the mustard on his punches in the way that made him famous; but amidst the beating he was taking, he was also doing well to deflect blows with his forearms, as well as occasionally tie-up Angulo.

Make no mistake, Kirkland was still very much a hurt man at this point, but he was a hurt man that with a plan and bad intentions.

For nearly a minute and a half, Angulo rained down blows on Kirkland unopposed, however as tends to be the case when a fighter fires on all cylinders against a man that just won’t quit; Angulo eventually began to slow.

Though under great duress, and eating hard punches every step of the way, slowly but surely, James Kirkland began to work his way back into the fight.

Pictured: Kirkland strikes back.

It didn’t happen all at once, but in the last minute of the round, Angulo’s fatigue got the better of him, and his once crackling punches began to come out at almost comically slow speeds.

Looking like a weary fighter caught in a time warp, Angulo found himself in the most unfavorable of positions:

Out of gas, and faced with a man who had not only already taken his best shots, but had almost fully recovered from them.

Slipping and deflecting Angulo’s sluggish punches, Kirkland quickly jumped back on the offensive and miraculously pushed Angulo back on his heels with an accurate head and body attack.

No longer swinging for the fences, nor fighting with pure aggression, Kirkland laid into Angulo with a varied and intelligent assault that one wouldn’t expect given his usual wild demeanor.

That being said, following an intensely dramatic, back-and-forth first round, with the lead changes hands literally from minute to minute, James Kirkland gave the boxing world an astonishing gift by handing Alfredo Angulo his first knockdown in professional boxing with seconds to spare.

It wasn’t a flashy down, nor did it seem to be the result of any one punch, but it was legit, and it firmly secured Kirkland’s lead for the remainder of the evening.

Given the state of Angulo, having just been knocked down for the first time after having completely drained his stamina over 3 minutes, it was hard to see him lasting much longer in the fight.

For 5 more rounds, a startlingly fresh Kirkland clubbed away at a groggy and active, but largely ineffectual Angulo before the mighty Mexican would eventually succumb to the rising tide and be saved from himself via an early, but entirely justified TKO stoppage in the 6th round.

Pictured: The fight reaches it's conclusion.

In watching this amazing display of intestinal fortitude, one couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for Angulo, but at the same time awed by his capacity to push forward despite his damage and fatigue.

Even so, my personal opinion was that, had James Kirkland had more accurate and sharper punches, chances are Angulo would’ve been laid out no later than the 3rd round.

It’s a strange criticism for what easily amounted to a career defining, Round of the Year shoo-in performance, but one that I feel is entirely valid nonetheless.

Kirkland/Angulo may not be the best opening round of boxing I’ve ever seen, but it’s the best I’ve seen in a long time, most likely the best ever fought in my lifetime, and in my eyes; not far from second best to the magic of Hagler/Hearns.

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Mayweather Defeats Ortiz By Hilariously Stupid KO

Pictured: Floyd Mayweather decking an apologetic and entirely off-guard Victor Ortiz for the 10 count.

As you’ve likely heard by now, Floyd Mayweather earned his 42nd consecutive victory by defeating Victor Ortiz last night in controversial fashion.

In a move that will likely go down in history as one of the more snarky and underhanded in-ring moments of his career, Mayweather sucker punched the young Ortiz during an awkward moment of miscommunication between the fighters and referee Joe Cortez.

It’s funny too, ’cause for all of the 4 rounds it lasted, the contest was actually shaping up to be an entertaining bout.

Ortiz didn’t look all that comfortable with Floyd, as he ate right hands all night and never really managed to create any angles or cut off the ring; but to be honest, he was a lot more competitive than I initially expected.

On several occasions, Ortiz was able to bully Mayweather to the ropes and get some punches off, however most of it was just for show, not really dealing any significant damage.

Even so, instances in which a fighter is able to bully Floyd, or put him in a position where he isn’t 100% in control of the flow of the fight are very much a rarity in boxing, so I’d consider that an achievement in and of itself.

In all fairness to Ortiz’ pluck and tenacity though, Mayweather looked to be in charge throughout.

Oddly enough, I’d go so far as to say this was one of Floyd’s best performances in years.

He threw combinations.

He threw an inordinate number of punches per round.

Hell, he even pressed the attack and went on the offensive early in the 3rd round!

Despite all this, Floyd’s accuracy with his lead right was easily the star of the show.

I don’t know if it was Mayweather speed or Ortiz porous defense, but watching Floyd slip straight right through his opponent’s guard was a thing of beauty.

In all honesty, despite the eventual outcome of the fight, the puffiness of Ortiz’ face in the 4th coupled with his inability to seemingly get comfortable with Floyd’s movement and speed suggested that he’d likely be hurt or felled by a right hand at some point in the fight.

We’ll never know of course, but I’m just saying is all.

After 4 rounds of an occasional flurry on the ropes from Ortiz in a Mayweather dominated fight, few could have predicted the end to the fight.

From what I saw, Ortiz caught Mayweather on the ropes towards the very end of the 4th round, whereupon he began to throw combinations.

As is typical of employing such tactics against Mayweather, most of the punches bounded off of the undefeated fighter’s elbows and shoulders, though in this case 1 or 2 actually did make their mark pretty solidly.

During all of this, Mayweather found an opening in Ortiz’ flurry, and attempted to sling his arms over the younger fighter’s shoulders, likely in an attempt to tie-up.

At this moment, Ortiz lowered his gloves and proceeded to hike himself up onto his toes, lurch forward, and slam his cranium into Floyd’s chin.

Pictured: The "butt" in question.

Fouling in boxing is an art, one that some fighters have built their entire style off of.

Fighters like Evander Holyfield were routinely accused of using their head as a third glove, while trickier fighters like Bernard Hopkins managed to get away with using every dirty trick in the book.

Fouling can be useful to offset an opponent’s mental state, open up a cut, or to buy a moment to breath.

The thing is, fighters that make use of fouls as a tactic, usually know how to do so subtly and in manner that doesn’t call attention to their wrongdoings.

Hell, I’ve seen instances where ‘ole B-Hop managed to trick the ref so bad he actually managed to get away with a foul and cost the other guy a point!

What I’m driving at here, is that Ortiz has never shown himself to be a “dirty” fighter, but his amateurish and blatant use of an intentional headbutt was in very poor taste nonetheless.

The guy claimed it was unintentional, that Mayweather “leaned into” the butt; but if you watch the replay, the footage paints a picture that plainly supports the contrary.

Besides, since when does Floyd “lean into” anything?

Anyway, following the headbutt, Ortiz approached Floyd and gave him a friendly hug and apologetic kiss on the cheek.

To be honest, I really wouldn’t think a fighter, least of all Floyd Mayweather, would really be down with the idea of his opponent kissing him during the fight.

Maybe it’s just me, but Floyd doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that would respond well to a gesture like that, even in jest.

Following this, Joe Cortez jumped in and hastily deducted a point from Ortiz, separating the 2 fighters in the process.

Upon returning to the center of the ring, Ortiz appeared to continue his apology, to Floyd as the 2 touched gloves.

During this exchange, Ortiz’ gloves remained no higher than chest level, often dwindling as low as his thighs.

Mayweather on the other hand, approached the center of the ring with his gloves held to his temples and at the ready, even during the ceremonial touching of gloves.

If anything was to be deduced from this image, it was that the 2 men were in very different states of mind at this moment in time.

Ortiz was working on perhaps a 3rd gesture of apology, while Mayweather was good and ready to continue the fight.

What followed was of course Mayweather clean clocking Ortiz with a left hook, followed by a straight right hand that ended the night.

Pictured: Joe Cortez finishes out the 10 count as a listless Victor Ortiz rides the bus past Queer St. and on the way to Queer Manor.

During this entire process, Joe Cortez made no indication for the 2 fighters to continue.

Truth be told, he was probably the least informed individual at the time of the knockout considering he seemed to be eye-fucking the judges/officials during the seconds preceding the sucker punches.

While many view this event as disgraceful to the sport of the boxing, and a stain on Mayweather’s reputation, I look at it as just another silly moment in boxing.

Sure, I was looking forward to the fight, and I was a little upset that both fighters didn’t get to show everything they had, but I’m not gonna’ lose sleep over it.

After all, the guy I was backing won, and he looked phenomenal leading up to the KO.

“Protect yourself at all times” is the golden rule in boxing, and Ortiz simply got too cute for his own good.

The funny part is, while Floyd will likely take most of the flack for knocking out a virtually defenseless opponent, personally I think Ortiz deserves some shame for the headbutting.

Seriously man, butting is fine, but not when you do it in blatant and malicious fashion.

Ultimately, it was a fight that could potentially do harm to both fighter’s reputations for the forseeable, however business is business, and boxing marches on.

You’ll see, a few months will pass and, surprise!:

Mayweather will still be bankable, and Ortiz will still be on his way to becoming Oscar De La Hoya Mk. II.

Oh well, boxing fans will moan and howl over this silly “sucker punch” ending until either something dumber/more controversial happens, or there’s a rematch and Floyd wins it the way most of us figured he would in the first place.

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Amir Khan vs. Marcos Maidana Analysis

Wow.

What a night of drama.

Stylistically, this fight was one that I’ve been eagerly anticipating ever since I caught word of it.

One on end we have Englishman Amir Khan, the ultra-slick, hard-hitting and quick-fisted boxer/puncher who just happens to have a suspect chin.

On the other, we have the Argentinean Marcos Maidana, a Junior Welterweight that punches like a mule kicks, and has a resiliency and tenacity that can only be described as being vaguely Terminator like.

Put the 2 fighters together, and you either have a one-sided drubbing of Maidana via Khan’s slipperiness and quick hands, or a one-punch blowout of Khan via the wrecking balls that some like to call Marcos Maidana’s fists.

Instead, we got a little bit of both.

The fight began with fireworks, with Maidana, in a decidedly asshole-ish showing of his ring demeanor; forgoing the traditional touching of gloves in favor of winging away with hooks and crosses that barely missed the mark.

Predictably, the remainder of the round belonged to Khan, as his handspeed and flurrying served to cripple Maidana’s punch output and demeanor.

Even so, Maidana managed to land 2 overhand rights to the temple/eyebrow/eyeball that caught my impression.

Towards the end of the round, Khan landed a pair of 2 picture perfect shots to the body; with the left landing directly on the liver.

Maidana’s baby face contorted into a mess of wrinkles and open mouthed agony that had me biting my lip just watching it.

With flashbacks of Oscar De La Hoya and Leonard Dorin creeping into my consciousness, I honestly thought that that was going to be the end of the fight.

Body shot knockouts are something that take an insane degree of testicular fortitude to recover from.

Despite the pain, asphyxiation, and wet noodle-fication of his legs, Maidana manages to haul himself up off the canvas and finish out the round, albeit looking like shit for several rounds thereafter.

It should be noted that I was pulling for Maidana in this fight, as I have serious issues with English boxers; plus Maidana’s a beast.

Let it be known, I respect any fighter with perseverance in their blood, and bricks in their fists.

Anyway, the next several rounds were all Khan.

With Maidana’s legs slowly getting back under him, there was little he could to do deter the punch output and blinding speed of the Pakistani Brit.

To his credit, despite being severely crippled for the first 3rd of the fight, Maidana did well to maneuver around Khan’s potent combinations.

Well, kind of anyway.

You see, often times Khan would wow with 4-5 punch combinations, (all to the head, despite the body shot knockdown) however often times Maidana would manage to duck out of the way, effectively taking the first and last, but none of the intermediary blows.

In either case, scoring the rounds for at least the first half of the fight was a non-issue.

Maidana would stuff Khan on the way in with single jabs every now and again, as well as land some pretty nasty low-blows and rib shots during clinches; but other than that he was just plodding around the ring waiting to be hit for the most part.

I’ve gotta’ hand it to the Brit, his punches were sharp as daggers, and his footwork, while hardly elusive, was quick as any 140 pounder I’ve seen.

It’s become clear that, despite his hilarious up-ending at the hands of Breidis Prescott (look it up, it’s gold!) unnder the tutelage of Freddy Roach Mr. Khan has show remarkable improvement.

His punch repertoire has become more varied, as opposed to his repetitive 1-2’s from back in the day, and his size as a Junior Welter seems more appropriate than his days as a Lightweight.

Most notably though, he seems to be getting the “Roach Treatment” in the form of adopting several stylistic quirks that most would consider Pacquiao-like in nature.

Like Pacquiao, he now holds his hands atop his brow at all times, creating an effective defensive shield that minimizes the amount of visible openings available to his opponents.

Not only that, in tonight’s fight he demonstrated a potentially detrimental quirk that Pacquiao has only recently adopted as he’s ascended in weight, and that is the tendency to lean against the ropes, box his gloves and forearms over his face and flanks, while tucking his chin to his chest whenever he gets crowded.

This tactic works for keeping fighters on their feet, as it only allows to superficial blows to land on them cleanly; however it also results in the fighter sacrificing the ability to throw punches inside, as well as hampers their ability to execute upper body movements.

Call it the Rope-A-Dope for a new era.

The only reason I bring this up, is because it became a major factor in the momentum of the fight once we got past the halfway point.

You see, with Maidana’s legs still being a little rubbery, not to mention his normal footwork being busted to shit in the first place; a big part of his game in this fight consisting of bulling his way inside and falling into clinches with Khan, wherein he would bang away with body shots and uppercuts… As well as low blows and elbows.

Despite the ugliness of the tactic, it began to pay out dividends as Khan’s habit of inviting punishment upon himself, instead of using his legs to get away; resulted in him slowing just enough to be vulnerable.

Sure enough, those overhand rights that Maidana, and in fact Khan’s former conqueror, Breidis Prescott, had landed in the earlier portions of the fight; began to rear their ugly head once again.

During the, I think it was the 6th round, Maidana caught Khan with several damaging combinations in the latter half of the round, shaking up the Brit and putting a smile on my face in the process.

Though the punches honestly weren’t that damaging, and were delivered much too late in the round to count for too much in the long run; when you’re dealing with a man that is known to have a fragile chin, both as an amateur and a pro; every punch landed on him has you thinking “knockout.”

Like any good story, the halfway point proved to be the turning point in the fight.

Remember how I said Maidana was “plodding around the ring?”

Well, that’s what he does normally, even when he hasn’t just been knocked on his back by a shot to the liver.

The thing you need to understand about granite chinned plodders, is that just because they’re slow, and predictable, and easy to hit; doesn’t mean they can’t find you and put the hurt on you.

Maidana was slow, and he ate a lot of shots, but he was consistent in this fight, (unlike some of his previous affairs…) and that counts for a lot in a sport where one instance of overextending one’s self can ruin the entire night.

Just ask Mike Jones.

Anyway, Maidana’s persistence paid off in a big way, as his smothering of Khan’s offense allowed him to finally start opening up with some serious shots to the ribs and nose of his opponent.

As mentioned previously, most of these shots were indeed superficial in nature, but when you have cinder blocks for fists like Maidana does; the term “superficial” takes on an different meaning.

While Khan’s offense and footwork remained sharp, they gradually became less intentional, and more instinctive and sporadic than anything else.

Make no mistake, Khan’s punch output and ring generalship for the majority of each round was most certainly sufficient to grant him the advantage in most any round, however he would do so while absorbing a great deal of punishment.

Despite Maidana beating on him pretty badly for the next several rounds, to his credit; Khan remained resolute and very much in the fight, even when it seemed like minutes at a time would go by without him throwing a punch.

Everything came to a head in the 10th round.

After stalking his man and eating a shit ton of punches to the brain, (no body shots for Mr. Khan) Marcos Maidana finally managed to land the blessed right hand on the button that we all hoped and prayed for since the day the fight was announced.

Well, at least I was hoping for it…

Khan was rocked as few fighters before him have been rocked.

While Maidana would go on to land a great deal of nice shots throughout the remainder of the round, (which was in fact, most of it) Khan, remarkably; kept his wits about him and tied up his man, used what little was left of his legs, and managed to survive the round, albeit while barely throwing a punch.

It’s a rarity in boxing without a down, but I believe most would’ve scored the 10th a 10-8 round for Maidana.

While it would’ve been something if Maidana had in fact pulled off the upset and flattened Khan as I had hoped, sadly this was not the case.

Khan would go on to change up his punches and angles in the last 2 rounds, most notable of which via taking advantage of Maidana’s frequent ducking and lunging by incorporating a savage lead uppercut that would stand up the beastly Argentinean and briefly deter his neverending march forward.

To his credit, Khan survived the 10th round as well as any fighter could hope to.

His legs back within the next round, and went on to thoroughly dominate the remainder of the fight, securing his already fairly certain advantage on the scorecards and granting a victory over the interim world title holder.

While that’s all I really have left to say about the fight, it needs to be said that I was thoroughly disappointed in referee Joe Cortez’ officiating in this bout.

While I used to love Cortez as a ref, in recent years I’ve begun to doubt his judgment.

At first I thought it was maybe his age, or some sort of mental debilitation; however nowadays I think he might be “dirty.”

No, I don’t think ‘ole Joe is into Sonic the Hedgehog porn; what I mean to say is that I think he might be corrupt.

In the Mayweather and Ricky Hatton fight, he seemed far too quick to break the fighters from clinches, as if he was primed to prevent it.

In this fight, he seemed very pro-Khan.

Maidana is known to be a dirty fighter, and indeed did make frequent use of low blows in this fight, as well as one elbow that cost him a point that may have given him a draw on some scorecards, but he did so while Khan himself implemented dirty tactics.

Khan would hold behind the head and push Maidana down during just about every clinch, and yet I never recall him receiving a warning from Cortez about it, much less an instant point deduction.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just because the trainers in these 2 fights made it a point to drill the point home to Cortez that “these guys are dirty, be on the look out for this, and this…” but something just didn’t smell right in these 2 bouts.

Oh well, I suppose fair and firm is better and safer than say, Frank Cappuccino, who would would allow a fight to go on even if one guy had a Glock and the other was asleep… and in a wheelchair, or Arthur Mercante Jr., who demonstrated in the Miguel Cotto and Yuri Foreman fight that he doesn’t give a shit if one guy can’t stand, he paid to see blood and goddamnit, he’s gonna’ see it!

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