Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Psyched For Klitschko vs. Haye

The heavyweight division has been boring as fuck for the better part of a decade.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a lifelong fan of boxing, but in all honesty; I kind of got the shaft when it came to the talent pool of my generation’s heavyweight division.

Truth be told, I think watching Joe Mesi awkwardly stumble upwards to the upper eschelons of the division was probably my biggest heavyweight thrill of the 2000’s.

Anyway, for those who are unaware, since the days of Lennox Lewis; heavyweight boxing has been completely and utterly dominated by the Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir.

Pictured: 2 guys that are more successful than you.

Many find their safety first, and consumately European style of boxing to be boring, and therefore a liability to the sport; however personally, I respect their abilities.

In my eyes, Vitali proved his worth by giving Lennox Lewis one of the toughest fights of his career, as well as through his somewhat miraculous comeback after a 5 year lay-off.

Wladimir doesn’t really have any tooth and nail, career defining fights on his resume like his brother, however I feel that’s to his credit.

As boring as Wladimir can be, his consistency is to be commended.

In a sport in which so much of the proceedings are determined by mental toughness and sharpness of reflexes, “consistency” is an adjective that is reserved for only the very best.

That being said, Wladimir’s biggest liability has always been the supposition that he has a shoddy chin, largely due to the fact that his only losses (3 in total) have been the result of being laid out cold from a single punch.

Not THE punch, but still pretty bad...

That doesn’t change the fact that he has a phenomenal reach, an incredible jab, and one of the most devastating right hands in the business.

Oh yeah, and he’s got Emmanuel Steward in his corner.  That counts for A LOT.

Well, when Klitschko decides to listen to him anyway…

Tomorrow night, Wladimir Klitschko will fight David Haye in what many are calling “the only fight that matters in the heavyweight division.”

Let me just say, the lead-up to this fight has been unbelievable.

For those who are unaware, after claiming the Cruiserweight championship from Jean-Marc Mormeck in 2007, David Haye immediately moved up to the heavyweight division (at 6′ 3″, one could argue this was his natural weight) and claimed the WBA title from Russian giant Nikolai Valuev in 2009.

BWAHAHA! This was hilarious...

Having secured his place in the division by gaining the WBA strap, Haye issued a challenge to both of the Klitschko brothers, ultimately gaining a date with Wladimir.

During the promotion of the fight, Haye showed up to a press conference wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a graphic depicting him standing over the 2 brother’s decapitated corpses:

Pictured: The Shirt of Infamy.

Typically a very calm individual, Wladimir reacted to this with noticeable anger.

Despite the juicy promotion, Haye eventually pulled out of the fight, citing a back injury.

It’s been 2 years since that promotional fiasco, and now we’re finally getting the fight we’ve all been waiting for.

While I know Klitschko stands as a symbol of stagnation for the heavyweight division, in all honesty I think I’m going to be rooting for him.

Call me old-fashioned, but if you ask me; David Haye talks too much for his own good.

He’s a very talented fighter, good enough to have become the guy at cruiserweight; but his arrogance doesn’t hold up to the quality of his resume.

In all honesty though, this fight is a hard one to call.

Both have clear weaknesses and strengths, it’s just a matter of who can exploit their opponent better.

Klitschko has a suspect chin and might be too robotic to contend with a lot of lateral movement.

At the same time however, he has excellent fundamentals, a reach advantage, as well as an overall size and strength advantage.

"Everything he hits, he destroys!"

Haye is known to have stamina issues and hasn’t faced the same level of competition as Klitschko.

At the same time however, he is incredibly fleet of foot and hand and is excellent at punching from dangerous angles.

If Klitschko’s chin comes into play, I could definitely see Haye putting him down with a right over-the-top.

Kind of like this.

If Haye’s stamina or focus lapse at any time, then I could definitely see Klitschko sweeping the whole 12 rounds.

It’s an either or kind of fight, but for my money; I’m going with the big Ukranian.

In any case, here’s hoping the fight doesn’t suck, as like I said; it’s kind of a big deal….

 

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Top 5 Boxers I Wish We’d Seen More Of

I’d like to kick things off this evening by saying that every fighter included in the following list had very long and fruitful careers.

This is not a list of fighters that never lived up to their potential, or guys who retired too early.

Many of the guys on this list were unfortunate to have died as young men, or worse yet; via unnatural causes, however the point I’m trying to make here is this:

Boxing is a violent sport that has the potential to permanently damage or injure it’s participants.

Regardless of how many fights a boxer engages in, whether it’s 1 or 100; serious injury or loss of faculties are a risk one always faces in stepping into the ring.

For what it’s worth, this is me saying that I understand it’s silly to ask more, even in jest; from men who already gave so much.

That being said, the following is a list of 5 fighters who I could watch forever; and thusly wish I could’ve seen in action just a few more times.

#5. “Baby” Joe Mesi

Despite retiring undefeated, Joe Mesi was never the best fighter around.

He was relatively small for a heavyweight.

He was more than little pudgy.

More importantly though, he never really got around to fighting anyone of note.

On paper, he sounds like kind of loser, doesn’t he?

Well, despite the fact that “Baby” Joe made his livings chewing up guys from the bum of the month club; he was in fact at one point the #1 contender in the heavyweight division.

He never won a legitimate world championship, but he made it all the way to Wladimir Klitschko’s doorstep; and gooddamnit, that counts for something.

“Baby” Joe was the Rocky Marciano of his day.

Sure, he didn’t have power, grit, or tenacity of The Brockton Blockbuster; but he was a short white guy in a division packed with… well, really tall white guys from Europe.

As it continues to slip out of the mainstream, boxing is always in need of a people’s champion, and for the American public (or at least Buffalo, New York); “Baby” Joe fit the bill.

I’d never claim him to be a great fighter, but I’ll never deny how much fun I had watching him climb the ranks and come away with inexplicable win after win.

Half of the fun of watching “Baby” Joe, was having to come into every fight knowing it completely possible that he’d get flattened.

Every time he’d get in trouble, my brother and I would scream with mock passion: “BABY JOE! NOOOO!!!!!”

“Baby” Joe effectively made his exit from the sport in 2004 when he suffered a subdural hematoma at the hands of former cruiserweight champion Vassiliy Jirov.

Many speculate that the current state of the heavyweight division would be considerably more colorful had “Baby” Joe not been forced into retirement prematurely, and I’m inclined to agree.

While I’d never wish for him to fight on after his injury, (note: he did anyway, though only in small venues due to difficulty finding licensing) however after watching his climb through the ranks, I wish I could’ve seen him challenge for a title.

#4. Edwin Valero

At first glance, one could call Edwin Valero the Kimbo Slice of professional boxing.

Underneath the surface though, it becomes evident that Valero was far more talented than the events of his career might have suggested.

Forced to fight out of Japan due to licensing issues associated with spotty brain scans, the vast majority of the buzz in U.S. surrounding Valero’s career was generated via internet streams of his fights.

Originally from Venezuela, Edwin Valero was a Southpaw fighter possessed of an uncanny punching power that would ultimately cement his place in boxing history.

In 27 fights, Valero managed a 100% KO ratio, with his first 19 bouts all ending inside the first round.

While it could be argued that the vast majority of his opposition was indeed severely over-matched, none can deny that Valero legitimately achieved this world record feat.

Coming across as a brick-fisted brawler utterly devoid of any sort of technical skills, it’s interesting to note that Valero was in fact a supremely talented boxer.

The truth of the matter is, that Valero was so in love with his incredible power; that throughout the majority of his career he simply chose to swing for the fences all the time because he knew he could get away with it.

Though in his later fights, against more solid opposition; inklings of Valero’s brilliant footwork and jabbing skills would begin to shine through, for the most part, the guy was perfectly content to leave his bag of tricks in the gym.

Sadly, Valero committed suicide just last year shortly after going to prison for murdering his wife.

Clearly possessed of some serious personal issues, it nonetheless makes me sad that Valero would never get a chance to test his mettle against top flight talent, particularly Manny Pacquiao; who he shared weight classes with for much of his career.

#3. Salvador Sanchez

Salvador Sanchez is one of my favorite boxers of all time.

His entire career took place years before I was born, but everything I’ve seen and read about him has me convinced that he was a truly special fighter.

Hell, when I was a kid I used to think he was cool purely because of his poofy hair.

A technical fighter if ever there was one, Sanchez nevertheless showed all of the grit and toughness that Mexican fighters are known for around the world.

Not exactly that big of a puncher, his expert footwork and extraordinarily fast-paced rhythm allowed him to befuddle his opponents; often luring them into KO traps by way of the disparity in their technical competence.

To this day, Sanchez’ battles with Danny “Little Red” Lopez and Wilfredo Gomez rank among some of my favorite bouts of all time.

Despite having a very fruitful career, Sanchez ended up dieing in a car crash while still in possession of the featherweight title.

He was only 23 years old, and a had one of the brightest futures in boxing that one could imagine.

#2. Rocky Marciano

Oh give me a break, you knew this was coming; right?

Rocky Marciano represents one of the greatest stories in boxing history.

I love him to death, but it’d be foolish of me to claim that he was the best of the best.

It feels weird saying it, but I’m one of those guys that, in the Muhammad Ali vs. Rocky Marciano simulation; would definitely be rooting for Marciano, but ultimately expecting Ali to win.

He was a tough son of a bitch, he trained twice as hard most of the people he fought, and he could punch like a mule kicks; but in the end Marciano was just a tiny heavyweight with a lot of guts.

Nevertheless, he was a tiny heavyweight that never lost, and rarely failed in knocking the fuck out of his opponents.

In the current age of sports science and giant heavyweights, I don’t think Marciano would do to well; but in his time, he was the king of the castle.

When Marciano retired, and abdicated his title; there were a handful of guys that likely would’ve wanted a crack at him.

Archie Moore, who was Marciano’s last opponent; still had a few good fights left in him.

Tommy Jackson was a solid competitor who held Floyd Patterson to a split decision.

And of course, Floyd Patterson himself would ultimately be the one to claim Marciano’s vacant title; which of course would be the biggest (and most plausible) “what if” match I wish we’d seen in Marciano’s career.

Of course, Marciano would retire, and stay retired in 1956; only to tragically die in a plane crash in 1959.

I’m pretty sure The Rock made the wise decision in retiring when he did, however I don’t think I’m alone in wishing that he turned that 49-0 record into a 50-0 one.

Records are always easier to remember when they’re in multiples of 10…

#1. Arturo Gatti

I didn’t even need to think about this one.

Arturo Gatti was singlehandedly responsible for converting boxing from a sport I used to watch to spend quality time with my dad, to something I obsessed about and became emotionally invested in.

Boxing writers and commentators like to throw around the term “blood and guts” warrior when talking about fighters that lay it all the line every time they step into the ring.

Everyone who was fortunate to have seen Gatti in action during his prime knows that he is the man these people are thinking of when they use this term.

In the ring, Gatti was the definition of toughness and heart.

Originally from Montreal, but adopted by Jersey City, New Jersey, he’d take 1,000 to give you 1, and more often than not; he’d ending up beating you in the process.

My brother and I used to joke that Gatti’s face would start swelling on the ramp, before ever stepping into the ring.

That’s just the way he was.

While his epicly poor weight management was likely the culprit responsible, if Gatti wasn’t cut or swollen by the end of the night; then it wasn’t a Gatti fight.

That’s like a Steven Seagal movie without an instance where he doesn’t flip some poor son of a bitch by the wrist.

It just doesn’t happen.

While I know it sounds like I’m some immature fuck who’s into boxing for the blood and violence, when it came to Gatti; the real reason we all watched was just that:

We wanted to see him, win or lose.

He was the real life Rocky Balboa or Little Engine That Could.

He was that guy that always seemed to have the cards stacked against him, yet somehow he’d always come behind a surprise us all with something magical.

Even when he didn’t win, there was just something about him that made us love him.

When he lost, there were no feelings of disappointment or anger.

We were just happy to have seen the (no doubt, spectacular) show that he put on.

I’ll never forget what he said when asked why he was going to win his ill-fated match with Floyd Mayweather:

“Because I’m a nice guy!”

Even though I’ve read plenty of reports to the contrary of that statement, it was stuff like this that made Gatti one of the most endearing fighters of his time.

The last few years of his career were less than stellar, in fact it was kind of sad; but you better believe I tuned in regardless.

Such was the power of Gatti, that he could continue to show up, a complete shadow of his former self; but still draw hopeful crowds regardless.

When Gatti was utterly broken by Alfonso Gomez in his last fight, everyone knew that was how it had to end.

He was starting to look pretty bad by then, but short of dieing in the ring; I don’t think anything could’ve stopped Gatti from slipping on the gloves one last time for his fans.

As I’m sure everyone is aware, Arturo Gatti was murdered in Brazil, allegedly by his wife; in 2009.

In leaving boxing, Gatti left a void that I scarcely believe will be filled in my lifetime.

HBO likes to call every tough fighter with heart the “second coming” of Gatti.

That’s bullshit and they know it.

4 Fights of the Year and countless classic battles are not something achieved by just any bum with a chin.

The sad part is that you can tell that they want a Gatti for their network so badly; that they callously throw his name around any time a decent fight starts to brew.

That’s how much boxing misses Gatti.

That’s how much we all miss Gatti.

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Thoughts On The Fight Night Champion Roster

Last night I visited the wikipedia entry for EA’s upcoming Fight Night Champion boxing videogame.

As an avid follower (and critic) of the series since it’s inception, I found myself looking through the page taking in all the little tidbits of anticipated gameplay features.

While the “darker” (translations from gamerspeak: bloodier, more profane, and possible T&A) tone of the game does little to peak my interest, in fact if they push it too far I might view it as a detriment to the sport and my enjoyment of the game; my greatest hope is that EA takes the time to improve their character creation system, as it was truly ass in Fight Night 4.

Unfortunately, most of the gameplay and features of Champion are still very hush hush at the moment; so there’s not a whole lot to be said about it.

One thing that I noticed though, was that most of, if not the entire roster of real life fighters included in the game has already been released.

Boxing enthusiast/fan/walking encyclopedia that I am, I feel it is my duty to go through this list, fighter by fighter; and scrutinize the fuck out of it.

Below are my thoughts on some of the fighters that stuck out to me as being weak additions:

Tommy Morrison:

"YOU AND ME TOMMY, WE WAS LIKE THIS! AND YOU BLEW IT TOMMY! YOU BLEW IT!!!"

Though he was featured in the previous Fight Night, I’m still puzzled as to why he was selected to be in the game.

Honestly, as far as accomplishments go, the coolest thing Tommy Morrison ever did in my book was almost get decapitated by Ray Mercer in one of the nastiest knockouts I can recall.

Other than that, he was white heavyweight with a good punch and poor stamina, he came a few rounds away from getting steamrolled by George Foreman, he was in Rocky V, and oh yeah, he was a white heavyweight.

If we’re gonna’ play the race card, personally I’d have rather seen Baby Joe Mesi get thrown in there…

At least that would’ve made me laugh.

Seriously, Tommy Gunn or not, Morrison just doesn’t cut it for me.

Cristobal Arreola and Eddie Chambers:

Man, heavyweights are fat these days...

I list both of these guys together, because they’re on my naughty list for the same reason.

That reason being the Klitschko brothers.

Not long ago, both of these guys were quickly climbing the ranks and looking good doing it.

Then they each met a Klitschko, and each had a big fat Ukranian dump squatted out on their reputation.

Of the 2, I feel that Chambers has fared better since then, largely because he hasn’t lost since then, (truth be told he hasn’t fought, but it’s better than going on to mangled by Tomasz Adamek like Arreola was) and because he conditioning has actually showed improvement over the years, unlike Arreola who just seems to keep getting fatter.

 

Aw... I made the fattie cry.

While both guys are decent fighters, this is just a case of bad timing for EA.

Butterbean:

On the strength of this photo alone, Butterbean is now officially "awesome."

Outside of the novelty, name recognition, and an opportunity to show off realistic fat jiggle physics, why the fuck does Butterbean deserve to be in this game?

Oh well, chances are I’ll end up beating his ass to relieve stress, kind of like I used to do with Ricky Hatton in the previous Fight Nights…

Joe Calzaghe and Chad Dawson:

Let’s get one thing straight, both of these guys deserve to be in this game.

As much as I hate Calzaghe as a person, and as a home-turf fighter; the man has a laundry list of accomplishments in the sport, and I tip my hat to him.

The only problem is, all of those accomplishments were achieved in the Super Middleweight class, not Light Heavyweight.

It may not be that big a deal to the people over at EA, but I feel that including the intermediary weight classes (the supers and juniors) is necessary both to pay the proper respect to the various real-life fighters in the game, as well as to balance out the roster.

That being said, having just 2 guys that never even came close to fighting each other listed for a weight class is just plain stupid.

Not only that, as with the case of Arreola and Chambers, Dawson recently went from being regarded as the guy at 175 lbs., to becoming somewhat of enigma overnight.

Truth be told, I’d rather see a legend like Matthew Saad Muhammad, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, or hell, Michael fucking Spinks featured at Light Heavy, but if EA wanted to “please” us with a contemporary fighter (nobody gives a shit about Light Heavy since the glory days of Roy Jones) then I guess they got their wish.

Carlos Monzon:


Another fighter featured in the previous game, Carlos Monzon is somewhat of an oddity in the cast.

Most likely unknown to most casual boxing fans, especially younger ones, Carlos Monzon was one of the greatest, and longest reigning Middleweight champs of all time, however there’s a catch to that accomplishment.

Monzon was a champion that really didn’t fight that many truly great fighters.

Sure, he bested Nino Benvenuti, Emile Griffith, and Jose Napoles; but who the fuck other than myself and the old guys down at the barbershop knows 2 out of 3 of those guys?

Other than the opportunity to put Monzon head to head with his successor, Marvelous Marvin Hagler; I don’t really see why Monzon is in the game.

I’d have put Tony Zale and Rocky Graziano in instead, but that’s just me…

Jermain Taylor and Danny Jacobs:


Let’s just call this bad timing and call it a day, shall we?

Seriously, Jermain = Damaged Goods.  Danny Jacobs = Overrated.  ‘Nuff said.

Anthony Mundine:

"And next week I'm gonna' fight a paraplegic cancer patient! That'll put the naysayers to rest!"

Anthony Mundine was in the previous Fight Night, and my reaction to his presence hasn’t changed since.

Mundine is a decent fighter, but he’s been fighting tomato cans for too long now, and he’s barely relevant outside of his native Australia anymore.

“Wow, Fight Night must sell well in Australia, ’cause other than that, I absolutely cannot justify why anyone would ever want to put Anthony Mundine in a videogame.”

That’s what I feel on the matter, and I’m sticking to my guns.

The problem with that, is the fact there are so many great Australian fighters out there to choose from.

While I’m aware of the inherent licensing difficulties that come with dealing with real-life sports figures, I would’ve loved to have seen Jeff Fenech, or Lionel Rose, or hell, if they wanted another fairly contemporary fighter, I would’ve been happy to have seen Paul Briggs or Kostya Tszyu in there.

But no, instead we get Anthony fucking Mundine…

Peter Manfredo Jr. and Sergio Mora:


Okay, I am officially getting tired of seeing Contender alum in the sport of boxing.

Jesse Brinkley had a decent run, until being dismantled by Lucian Bute recently that is, Cornelius Bundrage recently snagged himself a world title strap from an aging Cory Spinks , and, uh, Alfonso Gomez bleeds a lot… And, fuck it, y’know what?

I’m done trying to talk up the Contender guys!

Bottom line:

Sergio Mora was a poor addition to the previous game, and Peter Manfredo is an even worse one to this one.

Put ’em together, and you get 2 piles of ass occupying 2 slots in historically one of the most prestigious weight classes in the sport.

Good job EA, way to take the money and run…

Diego Corrales:


Let me just start off by saying, Diego; rest in peace.

Corrales was always amazing to watch, but his ever-present status in the Fight Night roster has always felt odd to me.

While the man was indeed talented, it was the fights in his career, not his skills; that carved his place in history.

The man will forever be remembered as the man that made Floyd Mayweather’s reputation, the man that gave Joel Casamayor fits, and the man that ultimately gave everything he had to defeat Juan Luis Castillo in one of history’s greatest bouts.

That being said, while I would never say that including Corrales is a bad thing, I feel it’s foolish if none of the aforementioned fighters are included in the roster as well.

Seriously man, it should be a rule of thumb to include at least 1 real-life former opponent for every fighter in the roster.

Maybe it’s just me, but I get a lot of enjoyment out of playing out real-life matchups in my boxing games.

Vinnie Pazienza:


First things first, I refuse to call him “Vinnie Paz.”

His name is Vinnie Pazienza in my book, and that it shall remain.

Moving on, I know he’s got one hell of a devoted fan club, but what the fuck man?

Sure, he beat a bloated and washed up Roberto Duran, and he got flattened by Roy Jones, but other than the appeal of getting a chance to reverse/replay those matchups, who the fuck gives a shit about Vinnie Paz anymore.

EA could’ve at least included Greg Haugen or Ray Mancini, y’know; good fighters that fought Vinnie Pazienza at a point in his career when it mattered, but oh well, he was in the previous one, and now he’s back again.

Whoop-dee-fuckin’-doo…

Closing Thoughts:

I’ve got other complaints with the roster, but I’m tired so I’m gonna’ call it quits here.

The only other thing I feel I need to say, is that I object to the inclusion of the Junior Welterweight and Flyweight classes.

The former because it’s a random weight class to include, being as there’s so much real-life talent in it at the moment, but only 2 fighters in the game for it, and the latter because there’s only 1 fighter to represent the weight.

Why is Junior Welter the only intermediary weight class included besides Light Heavy?

It just doesn’t make sense to include those 2, but none of the others.

Not only that, but of all the fighters to include at that weight, why Emmanuel Augustus and Victor Ortiz?

Sure, both guys are fairly popular, but they’re not at all connected to one another, nor are they all that good compared to some of the other talents floating around out there.

On the same note, Timothy Bradley should be moved down to Junior Welter, as that’s definitely his proper weight.

As I mentioned earlier, no fighter should ever be listed without at least 1 other fighter that has fought/will fight them, and to have only 1 guy for a weight is just plain ludicrous, especially when Fernando Montiel and Nonito Donaire are so close to having their superfight… At Bantamweight.

Good job placing Nonito in the right weight class EA, really shows you’re paying attention.

Oh yeah, it’s dumb, but I feel it needs to be said that now that Fernando Vargas is in the roster, we really need to get Felix Trinidad in there.

Jus’ sayin’ is all…


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