Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Donaire vs. Montiel: Vengeance By Proxy

A funny thing happened way back in 2005.

You see, I’ve been a fan of boxing ever since the first time I watched Rocky with my old man; but up until 2005, there were no active Asian, or more specifically; Japanese fighters that caught my interest as being noteworthy in the sport.

Sure, Toshiaki Nishioka and Daisuke Naito were, and are pretty good fighters; but nothing about them ever seemed competitive on the world stage I.E. the elite level of the sport.

The simple fact of the matter is that boxing simply isn’t all that popular in Japan, nor do I believe the Japanese physiology is all that well-suited for the sport in the first place.

We’re short, we’ve got stubby limbs, we’ve got a reputation for being pillow-fisted, and we have a tendency to grope/fondle others in public.

Pictured: How we say "hello."

Bullshit aside, a major factor in the stunted progress of Japanese boxing, is the simple fact that the country is an island nation.

Combine the insane travel arrangements required to put fights together on Japanese soil between a foreigner and a national, with the public’s general lack of interest in the sport; and you have an equation that results in Japanese fighters rarely having the opportunity to test their mettle against the world’s best, nor having the in-house competition available to them to prepare them for said contests.

Needless to say, most of what I read (I never got to see an Asian boxer on TV until Manny Pacquiao’s HBO debut) about Japanese fighters consisted of Ring Magazine articles about them getting flattened by Mexicans, or worse yet, beaten by their countrymen in boring 12 round jab-fests.

For most of my life, hall of famers like Khaosai Galaxy, Gabriel Elorde, Pancho Villa, and Masahiko “Fighting” Harada would serve as my only “Azn Boxing Heroes.”

That all changed for me when I discovered the Kobe based bantamweight, Hozumi Hasegawa.

Not a handsome man by any standard, but a good fighter nonetheless...

Hasegawa first caught my attention when he dethroned long-reigning bantamweight champion, Veeraphol Sahaprom.

To put things in perspective, Sahaprom had held the bantamweight title since 1998, not to mention had fought Toshiaki Nishioka 4 times prior to this, drawing and decisioning Nishioka on every occasion.

While the man had the kind of bloated record that only Thai fighters can produce in this day and age, few could argue that Sahaprom was a stiff challenge to any bantamweight of the time.

Seriously though, only a Thai could be so audacious as to defend his world title against debuting fighters, or worse yet, 0-1 fighters; on multiple occasions no less.

Hasegawa’s victory over Sahaprom would serve as the first of many happy moments I would be proud to witness as a half-Japanese boxing fan.

Pictured: The face of a half-Japanese boxing fan. That's right, we do exist!

For the first time in my life, I had found a contemporary Japanese fighter that was not only winning consistently, but seemingly growing and improving with every bout.

The funny part was, aside from being left-handed, Hasegawa never really seemed all that different or special compared to other Japanese fighters.

For most of his career he was a defensive minded out-boxer with with quick yet economical hands, sharp straight punches, and a good eye for counter-punching.

He wasn’t a powerhouse, he wasn’t a physical specimen, he was just a good Japanese fighter that, for whatever reason; was on a helluva’ winning streak.

Following his victory over Sahaprom, Hasegawa would go on to win their rematch by TKO, as well as defend the bantamweight title more than any other Japanese fighter in history, all while amassing 7 KO’s, more than he had accrued in his entire career up until 2005.

Despite all of my apparent dick-sucking of Hasegawa, I feel it’s worth mentioning that there’s another little element to my hero worship of the man.

You see, way back when, my brother actually went to live in Kobe for a year.

While he was there, he joined a boxing gym headed by trainer Senrima Keitoku, the man who would one day go on to train Hozumi Hasegawa.

While it’s a loose connection at best, for whatever reason, it means something to me to know that the same goofy old Korean-Japanese that my brother told me used to cane fat kids in his gym, just happens to be same one that trained one of my personal sports heroes to world champion status.

Pictured: A pennant my brother back with him from Kobe.

Like I said, it’s hardly a connection, but to me it means something special.

Anyway, before I let things totally veer off into weird touchy/feely bullshit, I think it’s time we actually got down to addressing the subject heading of this post:

This evening, Filipino bantamweight superstar Nonito Donaire challenged stalwart Mexican champion Fernando Montiel.

This is called a "filler" image. It bears no purpose other than breaking up the text in an eye-pleasing fashion.

Coming into the bout, the 2 men represented the top-tier of the division.

While a bantamweight tournament is currently being hosted by Showtime, a tournament which both Donaire and Montiel were invited to participate in; both opted out in favor of fighting each other due to the general belief being that they were “above” the majority of the other participants in the first place.

It was one helluva’ big deal, and a bout that I was very much anticipating.

On paper, both fighters were quick-fisted and fleet of foot, with Donaire having a slight edge in both categories, while Montiel held the more intangible advantages of caginess, fundamentals, and; arguably, tenacity.

Perhaps the most attractive aspect of the bout however, was the fact that both fighters were known to possess extraordinarily heavy hands for their weights.

Maybe not Carlos Zarate “heavy,” but heavy nonetheless.

Goofy 'stache or not, this man wrecked so many people's shit it wasn't even funny...

Despite all this, my interest in this bout came not as a result of their skill sets or attributes, but rather as a consequence of their previous in-ring achievements.

While Donaire had indeed caught my eye with with his revenge KO of his brother Glenn over Vic Darchinyan back in 2007, Montiel was the one that really got me invested in this match-up.

You see, Fernando Montiel actually fought Hozumi Hasegawa this past April.

While Hasegawa looked to be on the way to a comfortable points victory in the early goings, Montiel caught him on the point of the chin with a savage left hook.

Thoroughly knocked onto Queer Street, or rather; 2 blocks down the road onto the even queerer street that is “Queer Manor,” Hasegawa got hung up on the ropes and was brutalized for several seconds longer before the match was stopped, his titles were stripped from him, and his winning streak and reputation were sent down the shitter.

Despite how much I hate to watch it, here’s a clip:

Regardless of what Hasegawa’s gone on to accomplish, coming back to win a bout 2 weight classes North at featherweight and generally staying out of trouble; my heart sunk the day I saw the man utterly destroyed at the hands of Montiel.

While I would go on record saying I bore nothing but respect for Montiel, after all not that many Mexicans are willing to fly all the way out to Japan just to claim an alphabet title, I would be lying if I said I came into the Donaire/Montiel bout not hoping to see the man knocked silly.

Seriously, I wanted to see Montiel knocked the fuck out almost as much as I wanted to see Ricky Hatton get Pacquiao-ed in every fight he ever had.

Fortunately, tonight I had Nonito Donaire AKA “The Other Filipino” to sub in for tonight’s Pacquiao-ing of Montiel.

From the opening moments of the fight, it was quite clear that there was a palpable disparity in overall speed between Donaire and Montiel.

Both guys looked a little pensive, an expected consequence given both fighter’s punching power; however Montiel seemed almost too relaxed, holding his arms outstretched as if expecting to deflect the majority of the incoming punches.

Not exactly a sound tactic when the other guy is clearly the faster fighter.

Despite this, only about 2 punches of note were landed in the first round, a counter left hook to the chin, and a heavy body shot, both of which were landed, quite authoritatively I might add; by Donaire.

In 2nd (and final) round of the contest, Montiel rushed out the gate, landing a few decent shots here and there, and generally looking to set the pace of the fight.

Then, as if answering my prayers; Donaire flattened Montiel as I have seldom seem a fighter flattened.

Charging in and pressing the action, Montiel let loose with quick straight right hand, unaware of the monster left hook that Donaire had begun the process of uncorking just a millisecond earlier.

In short, Montiel landed his shot, and fairly cleanly at that; however in the process of doing so he overextended himself and quite literally ran chin-first into the sock full of quarters that is Nonito Donaire’s left fist.

Splayed out on the mat, eyes unseeing, and brain thoroughly checked at the front desk, Montiel rolled about like a turtle on it’s back, a very drunk and/or “special” turtle; for half of the referee’s count.

Like this, but on his back. And y'know, almost half-conscious.

Why the ref even bothered to count, or allowed Montiel to continue, even if it was only for a few seconds; is beyond me.

Despite my feelings leading up to the bout consisting of wanting to see Montiel punished, and my hero avenged; I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Fernando Montiel…

For about 2 minutes.

Seriously though, he’s a terrific fighter, that sadly doesn’t (and probably won’t) receive the press or fanfare that he likely deserves, but tonight, Nonito “The Master of the Revenge KO” Donaire was by far the better man.

Anyway, thus was the tale of the Azn Badger’s boxing hero, Hozumi Hasegawa; and his vengeance by proxy via the fists of Nonito Donaire.

Thanks for reading, I know it was long; but hopefully it was worth the trouble!

Advertisements

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

Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Michael Katsidis Analysis

Word to the wise:

Never stay up past midnight to watch boxing when you’ve gotta’ be up for work at 5:30 in the morning.

Unfortunately for me, that’s just what I did last night; in fact I was so committed to seeing the action that I ended up watching the Spanish version of the telecast.

Oh well, at least the fight was good; commentary was fun too, even if I didn’t understand it.

Getting to the point, Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Michael Katsidis was an intriguing, if not somewhat predictable matchup.

Marquez, despite his fairly recent climb in weight, has built up an incredible reputation for being a supremely talented boxer-puncher, with quite possibly the greatest capacity for making mid-fight adjustments of any fighter on the planet.

Despite an almost guaranteed tendency to get dropped at some point in most of his fights against A-level opposition, the man has a solid chin and has recently begun to favor mixing it up rather than stepping out of range as he used to in his youth.

Katsidis, coming off a brutal steamrolling of British prospect Kevin Mitchell, is the prototypical brawling infighter, complete with the requisite lack of head movement and elusiveness.

He telegraphs his shots like fuckin’ Samuel Morse, but just ’cause you can see the punches coming, doesn’t necessarily mean you can always avoid them.

Possessed of a solid punch, he has the power and physicality to overwhelm lesser fighters in the earlier rounds with his sometimes overly aggressive/energetic style, regardless of the significant drain on his stamina in the later rounds.

Though he’s been humbled by fighters with superior boxing skills in the past, his tenacity and rough fighting style are usually enough to give his opponents fits, particularly if their footwork isn’t sharp enough to keep him at distance.

You put all those factors I just listed for both fighters together, and the result of the fight is as elementary as 2+2 = 4.

That’s right.

I went to school.

I know numbers n’shit…

Anyway, as you may have guessed by now, the fight went a little something like this:

Katsidis came out swinging in the early rounds.

Marquez got dropped pretty solidly in the 3rd, moreso than probably either of the Pacquiao fights, only to battle back and survive the round.

Katsidis bullied Marquez for several rounds thereafter, controlling the flow of the fight, but absorbing a lot of shots for his troubles.

Eventually Katsidis began to slow sometime after the 6th round, putting the momentum of the fight firmly in Marquez’s hands.

In the 9th round, (the same round that Marquez previously stopped Juan Diaz in their first encounter) Marquez opened up with some savage combinations, staggering Katsidis and rendering his legs into wet fettuccine.

After a full minute of awkwardly stumbling about the ring, not throwing punches, nor really taking any, referee Kenny Bayless called an awkward end to the contest, citing Katsidis’ inability to continue as his reasoning for doing so.

Just about every point I listed above could’ve been determined about this matchup without ever having seen the fight.

Well, everything except the goofy ending.

Honestly, I found myself feeling that Katsidis, upon first being hobbled, was ready to go.

He was out on his feet for a minute or so, and the stoppage was indeed warranted given his inherent helplessness, however the timing of the stoppage was just plain awkward.

I like Kenny Bayless.

I’ve always joked that he’s the most passionate ref on the planet, screaming the count and seemingly brought to tears every time a fighter goes down in his ring; but in this case he waited far too long to call the fight.

A minute is a long time to be on queer street, but it’s also a long time for a professional brawler like Katsidis to recover.

In fact, if memory serves, I seem to recall Katsidis being in the process of throwing his first punch in over a minute at the time of the stoppage.

Like I said, perfectly legitimate stoppage, but horribly timed nonetheless.

*Ahem!* Anyway, let’s discuss some the technical elements of the fight, shall we?

Katsidis, while one-dimensional in many regards, demonstrated some truly effective infighting skills in this fight.

That’s saying a lot when faced with one of the craftier and more intelligent ring technicians of our generation.

His short hooks were fine tuned and razor sharp, perfectly befitting of his phonebooth fighting style.

Hell, if he hadn’t gone all in with his bullying tactics, and ate twice as many punches as he gave, I felt he could’ve eked out a slim decision from the judges.

Despite this, the Australian remains too predictable and open to counters to prove a significant threat to any of the elite fighters at Lightweight.

Like Arturo Gatti before him, he’s an entertaining TV fighter that will never be starved for opponents on HBO given his balls-out approach to fighting, however he’s barely a step above gatekeeper in terms of overall ability.

He’ll probably, quite literally, be bled dry by the sport and it’s unscrupulous promoters inside of 5 years.

Moving on to Marquez, the Mexican technician still remains at the top of his game despite being 37 years of age.

While Marquez put on a terrific performance in this outing, like the previous Pacquiao fight, he did so while absorbing a great deal of punishment, however intelligently.

While I wouldn’t call the nasty down that Marquez took in the 3rd to be a sign of a chink in his armor, I did find it alarming how shaken he was by it.

My roommate used to say:

“It’s a Marquez fight.  He isn’t even awake until he gets knocked down once or twice.”

While I find that to be true in most cases, (and hilarious) usually when the mighty Mexican gets floored, he comes back and trades with his opponent like he’s trying to make score a 9-10 for the round.

This time though, despite what others may say; I think Marquez got rocked pretty good.

The shot he took was a counter left hook on the point of the chin, and despite whatever degree of machismo he may have flowing through his veins, his legs couldn’t hide how frazzled he really was.

In either case, at 37 he’s still not looking old, even if he kisses canvas in most of his fights.

Enough about the down, let’s get back to the technical stuff:

As is always the case with Marquez, the finest elements of his game were his most subtle.

For instance, while fighters with better footwork most likely would’ve circled to avoid Katsidis’ infighting, Marquez stood toe to toe with him and traded, albeit in an intelligent manner.

Bowing at the waist, and placing his head out in front of himself, Marquez effectively crowded Katsidis’ punches, forcing him to reach around Marquez and taking a little something off of the impact.

Though Marquez would eat solid shots on his temples all night, his courage and toughness allowed him to remain focus amid the whirlwind of blows coming at him.

Another neat little element of Marquez’s performance, was his constant use of the jab.

In the early rounds, the jab was largely ineffectual; something that most of us could’ve predicted given Katsidis’ inherent toughness and propensity for rushing out the gate.

As the fight wore on though, Marquez’s jab started landing more often, and with more authority.

Much like what I said of Katsidis earlier, just because something is predictable, doesn’t mean the other guy is going to be able to avoid it every time.

More importantly though, the jab was serving the dual purpose of causing Katsidis to “reset,” and even stand him up when it landed particularly cleanly.

What I mean by “reset,” is that Katsidis displayed a habit of mechanically switching from offense to defense whenever Marquez would circle or step out of range.

Boxing is a combative sport wherein the main objective is to hit without getting hit.

The finest of boxers are the one’s that display a capacity to do both at the same time, seamlessly.

Katsidis is a fighter that shifts gears from offense to defense in a very visible manner, such that intelligent fighters like Marquez are able to capitalize on the transition period with well timed offensive flurries.

Needless to say, during the instances when Katsidis was clearly not in “fighting mode,” Marquez’s constant, and seemingly half-hearted jab, would suddenly spring to life and turn into a piston-like combination starter.

Anyway, I’m writing all of this from cloudy memories of last night, so I think I’ve just about run out of stuff to say.

For those that didn’t catch this one, I’d suggest finding a way to sit down and watch it, ’cause it really was a competitive and exciting bout, despite whatever I may have said about it.

In any case, see yah’ tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

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

Donate