Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Miguel Cotto Defeats Antonio Margarito By 10th Round TKO

Pictured: Miguel Cotto drives a long left hook into Antonio Margarito's face.

For once I’m glad my prediction for a fight didn’t come true.

I’ll type up an analysis for this one as soon as I get a chance to sit down and watch it.

In the meantime though, congrats Cotto, you’ll always be my boy!

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Filed under: Boxing, , , , , , ,

Predictions For Boxing’s “Night Of Rematches” Part 2

Left: Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. Right: Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko.

Alright, yesterday I gave my prediction for the other major boxing contest being staged this evening, Margarito-Cotto II; so I feel it’s only fitting I take the time to do the same for Mares-Agbeko II as well.

Intended to serve as the finale of Showtime’s 4-man Bantamweight Tournament, Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko’s initial clash this past August was a hard fought and thrilling match-up that was unfortunately mired by some of the poorest officiating in recent memory.

Throughout the entirety of the fight, Mares, with his “shotgun” style of flurrying and body punching, landed and ungodly number of flagrant low blows on Agbeko.

Agbeko: "My boys!" ~ Direct quote.

It should be noted, that Mares was repeatedly warned, and eventually penalized for low blows in his previous bout, against Vic Darchinyan, a fight in which he was also “gifted” a knockdown.

Despite the number of these fouls accumulating quite comfortably into the double digits, referee Russell Mora saw fit to warn Mares for hitting low only a few times in the fight, never once threatening to take a point away, let alone actually doing it.

Worse yet, Mora repeatedly scolded Agbeko for pushing Mares’ head down, which is something he was in fact doing, but nowhere near as critical offense as what Mares was doing.

Mora also saw fit to award Mares 2 knockdowns of debatable legitimacy.

The first down easily could’ve gone either way, as Agbeko tripped and was hit with a punch on his way down, but the second was a flagrant low blow ruled as a knockdown via a bodyshot:

It’s impossible to say whether boxing’s long history of corruption reared it’s ugly head that night in Las Vegas, but despite all the controversy, the fight still managed to impress.

Mares took the lead early, throwing in volume and using his speed and pressure (and low blows) to smother Agbeko.

Despite the torrent of punches coming his way, Agbeko’s stellar head movement and defense allowed him avoid a great deal of Mares’ punches, however the sheer number of them being thrown led to Mares taking most of the rounds on sheer volume.

Even so, Agbeko’s accurate punching, in particular his piercing jab and overhand right, allowed him to capitalize on Mares somewhat porous defense, leading to him hurting Mares on at least one occasion while staying competitive throughout.

While the low-blows made it difficult to judge the fight fairly, or even look upon it as a legitimate contest, at the end of the night I felt Mares won on points, though the rounds Agbeko took were won far more decisively due to his cleaner and more effective punching.

Coming into the rematch this evening, I feel Mares likely has the advantage due the point earning nature of his high volume style, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Agbeko, the superior boxer; is able to pick him apart due to lessons learned from their previous fight.

Agbeko only has one other rematch on his record, a back to back series of fights with Yonnhy Perez, and despite losing the first match fairly decisively, in the return bout he came back and won by nearly as wide a margin as he lost previously.

I have no idea what Perez and Agbeko are doing in this photo, but it's fuckin' hilarious.

While I don’t discount Mares’ abilities as a fighter, his style heavily favors guts and volume, resulting in him taking a lot of punishment, but otherwise winning rounds on sheer busyness.

Agbeko on the other hand, strikes me as much more multi-dimensional fighter, one that can box, brawl, and assume a defensive posture with pretty much the same level of comfort.

Don’t get me wrong, putting aside the fouling and the false knockdown or 2, in my mind Mares still did enough to win the first fight, or at least earn a draw, however he did so while eating a lot of heavy punches and gassing out in the last several rounds.

Taking into consideration the fact that Agbeko was being socked in the sack all night, and yet still managed to give Mares a run for his money, I’d say Agbeko’s chances of victory in the rematch are pretty good.

Then again, Agbeko entered into the first fight somewhat overweight, which at Bantamweight and 31 years of age, is usually a sign he had trouble making weight.

It really sucks to have to bring facts like this into consideration, but any time you have a fighter failing to make weight at this level of the game, it’s hard not to think it’s going to effect his performance.

I’ve heard that both fighters made weight quite comfortably this time around, so hopefully that’s the case, but if the fight goes down and Agbeko looks like shit, I know what I’m probably going to blame it on…

That being said, in case you couldn’t tell by know, I’ll be rooting for Agbeko!

My official prediction is that of Agbeko winning by a split decision, though I won’t at all be surprised if Mares ekes out of a unanimous decision due to his judge friendly style.

Besides, if his previous fights in this tournament are any indication, it would appear “someone” of considerable import wants him to win…

Agbeko, SD 12.

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Predictions For Boxing’s “Night Of Rematches” Part 1

Left: Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. Right: Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko.

They’ve been a long time coming, but tomorrow night we’ll finally get to see the (hopefully) legitimate rematches for 2 of the most controversial boxing contests of recent history.

Said rematches are of the course the re-pairing of Jr. Middleweights Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto, and Bantamweights Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko.

While Margarito-Cotto II is easily the more dramatic of the 2 conflicts, and will likely contain the most fireworks, rest assured, both contests are almost guaranteed to produce entertaining results for as long as they last.

That being said, given the controversial nature of the original bouts that gave way to tomorrow rematches, let’s take a minute to examine the nature of said controversies, starting today with Margarito-Cotto.

Pictured: Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito mix it up on the inside.

Back in 2008, Margarito-Cotto I (it’s traditional to place the winner’s name first, even if it’s harder on the tongue) represented a fantasy pairing between 2 fighters on the precipice of fame and glory, as well as at the top of the Welterweight division.

That the 2 of them hailed from Mexico and Puerto Rico respectively, 2 countries/territories that have been engaged in an ongoing boxing rivalry pretty much since the beginning of time; was merely icing on the cake.

The ensuing “Battle” (the promotional name of the fight) did not disappoint.

Both fighters, possessed of pressuring styles, laid into one another from the early goings, with Cotto’s scoring potent combinations throughout most of the early rounds.

Unfortunately however, Cotto failed to take into account Margarito’s Bionic Mexican chin, resulting in him overextending his offense and exposing him to his opponent’s swarming, nearly 100 punch per round assault.

Despite winning virtually every round beforehand, Cotto was stunned by an overhand right in the 6th, and following the tumultuous final seconds in the round, it was clear Cotto was hurt and essentially locked in survival mode.

From then on in the fight, Cotto was battered and bashed from corner to corner, struggling to stay on his feet, while only occasionally displaying even the slightest glimmer of spirit or offensive instincts.

In round 11, the fight was waved off as Cotto went down twice, both times apparently of his own volition.

Still get chills just lookin' at it...

That final image, of Cotto going down on one knee as Margarito charged in at him, is both a haunting and telling image that will likely stick with me forever.

Margarito had broken Cotto as no other fighter before him had done, quite literally by beating him into submission.

Just 6 short months after this potentially career-defining victory, Antonio Margarito would find himself knocked out for the first time in his career by Shane Mosley, and stripped of his boxing license due to the discovery of an illegal plaster-like material tucked in his handwrap.

Pictured: The actual evidence recovered from the dressing room that night.

To this day, his trainer, Javier Capetillo remains disallowed from serving as a second in professional boxing, while Margarito has since been re-licensed to fight in several states as of mid-2010, most likely due to the influence of Bob Arum.

Truly, it is hard to picture any other fighter, under any other promoter, that would be capable of regaining their license, let alone in the state of New York, following such a scandal.

Both Margarito and Capetillo have denied using the “loaded” wraps in any of their previous fights, though speculation on this matter has effectively cast a shadow over the entirety of his career.

Since fighting one another, both Cotto and Margarito have put a dangerous amount of miles on their respective odometers, with tough losses to Manny Pacquiao being perhaps the most noteworthy contribution to their mutual wear and tear.

While Cotto has indeed showed signs of slowing, as well as increased tendency to cut and swell since the Margarito fight, oddly enough it’s the iron-chinned Margarito who may been the more shopworn of the 2 entering into their rematch.

During his bout with Pacquiao, Margarito ate nearly 500 punches over 12 absolutely brutal rounds, resulting in a broken orbital bone beneath his right eye.

Supposedly the bone has since healed and/or been repaired, however it’s also worth noting that Margarito underwent cataract surgery on his eye as well, making this the first time he’ll be fighting since having the artificial lens installed.

Note the glassiness of the right eye (left on the screen). If you ask me his entire goddamn facial structure got rearranged after what Pacquiao did to him.

Common sense dictates that Margarito’s performance will be effected by the damage to and surgery of his eye, however he has been medically cleared to fight, so I wouldn’t expect it to factor in too much.

Even so, an odd detail such as this is not worth overlooking, so until the bell rings tomorrow night, it’ll remain a major question mark as to the outcome of the fight.

Neither man is likely to ever be as good as they were back in 2008, however both men obviously bear genuine animosity towards one another given the bloody and controversial nature of their first encounter.

It’s more than likely that this bout was put together, not just because of the grudge match appeal of the affair, but also because both fighters are likely faded to the point of only being competitive to each other.

Win or lose, I’d expect to see both fighters emerge from this rematch as gatekeepers of the Jr. Middleweight division due to the relative youth and ability of most of the talent at that weight.

In that sense, it’s fair to assume that both men will be entering the ring tomorrow night, whether it be in the name of redemption or revenge, just a little bit more focused, and a little bit more intent on caving their opponent’s face in than they seemed in their most recent fights.

The key in this fight, at least from my perspective, is the weight.

Their original 2008 bout was staged at 147, however tomorrow night’s rematch will be fought at a catchweight of 153.

The Cotto camp fought tooth and nail to secure that -1 pound catchweight, and it’s pretty obvious as to why:

Margarito is naturally the bigger man.

Pictured: The weigh-in for the first fight. Hard to believe they're in the same weight class...

At 5’11”, Margarito was huge for a Welterweight, while the stout 5’7″ Cotto was borderline below-average.

Cotto has long seemed like a man without a weight class in my eyes.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s my boy and he always will be, but his height and body type have made him unsuited for virtually every weight class he’s visited.

At 140 he was weight drained and would get knocked down too often.

At 147 he seemed comfortable, but when placed next to the Margaritos, Paul Williams, and Kermit Cintrons of the division, he seemed massively outsized.

At 154 he’s functional, however given the difficulty he showed in dispatching Yuri Foreman and Ricardo Mayorga, it’s doubtful his punches have the same mustard they had on them at 147.

Margarito on the otherhand, given his lanky frame and height, was likely weight drained at 147, meaning he’ll likely be stronger and even less likely to fatigue at 154.

If I’ve fought a guy that’s able to take 500 punches a night, and throw over 1,000 in the process, “stronger” is not a word I want the man to describe himself with the second time I step into the ring with him.

As much as I hate to admit it, 3 years ago a plodding, one-dimensional, weight drained Bionic Mexican pounded my boy Miguel Cotto into submission.

Putting aside the possibility of loaded wraps, as well as the potential of the artificial lens newly installed in his right eye fucking with his performance, I’m willing to bet that same plodding, one-dimensional Bionic Mexican has it in him to do it again.

Both guys are pressure fighters, however Margarito’s superior chin, stamina, and punch output saw him get the better of Cotto their first time out.

As has recently been confirmed yet again by Pacquiao-Marquez III, once a guy gets your number, he very rarely loses it.

In that sense, while I ultimately will be rooting for Cotto, I honestly think that Margarito; once again, provided his eye doesn’t play into things, will eke out another hard fought win over the Puerto Rican, likely through a late round KO or UD.

Margarito KO 8.

Check Back Tomorrow For The Next Round Of Predictions!

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Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez III Prediction


Well, it’s finally here.

After over 6 years and 2 hotly contested contests, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are finally going to step into the ring for their long awaited rubber match.

Their first match, contested at Featherweight, ended in a draw; with Marquez being floored 3 times in the first stanza, only to dominate the remainder of the fight via brilliant offense and mid-fight adjustments.

The result of the fight is debated to this day, with many believing Marquez deserved the nod, myself included.

The second fight resulted in an extraordinarily narrow split decision victory for Pacquiao, with a 3rd round knockdown of Marquez creating the 1 point advantage needed to prevent a second draw.

Much the like their first clash, the result of Pacquiao-Marquez II is heavily disputed.

In the intervening years since their last battle, back in 2008, both Pacquiao and Marquez have been among the most productive fighters of their era.

As I’m sure you’re already aware, Pacquiao has gone on to ascend in weight with unprecedented success, snagging titles in every class from Lightweight to Jr. Middleweight.

Along the way he utterly dominated a wide range of “name” fighters including the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, and most recently, Shane Mosley.

I mentioned I hate Ricky Hatton, right?

It’s worth noting however, that despite the fact that all of Pacquiao’s opponents post-2008 were of world class ability, one has to take into account that “were” is most certainly the operative word in that statement.

Without exception, all of the above fighters were either coming off of physically taxing, disastrous losses, or were altogether well past their prime.

A Shane Mosley that calls it quits and runs for 12 rounds is a Mosley that would likely get it’s ass beaten by it’s former iteration for ruining their collective “warrior” image.

That’s not a knock on Pacquiao’s esteemed legacy, as at 33 he has already achieved a number of feats that likely will never be repeated in the sport, but it is a knock on Bob Arum and the business of boxing.

In short, it’s readily apparent that as Pacquiao’s status as an international celebrity has grown, so has his management’s desire to direct his career with a safety first/money grabbing agenda.

Superman never would’ve been made without Marlon Brando.

Batman never would’ve been made without Jack Nicholson.

Similarly, Bob Arum has paired Pacquiao with known fighters that put asses in the seats rather than the hungry young bucks that as destined to play second fiddle to the current crop of elite fighters until they grow old or retire.

Such is the case with virtually every mega-champ in boxing history, however that fact alone does not absolve Arum and his boys from their blatant exploitation of the sport and it’s fan base alike.

That being said, Marquez’ post-2008 career may not have been as flashy or as groundbreaking as Pacquiao’s, but it’s been thrilling nonetheless.

Just 6 short months after his loss to Pacquiao in their second match, Marquez moved up in weight to Lightweight.

Beginning with an unprecedented knockout of Joel Casamayor, Marquez quickly installed himself as a force to be reckoned with in the division.

While back to back victories over Juan Diaz would be soon to follow, as well as over the tough but mercurial Michael Katsidis and unheralded Likar Ramos, in late 2009 Marquez would jump 2 weight classes, to Welterweight, for a horribly one-sided decision loss to Floyd Mayweather.

The fight was kind of like this, but ALL NIGHT LONG.

Many, myself included, felt that Marquez was largely outsized in the Mayweather bout, however given the prodigious nature of Floyd’s boxing skills, personally I don’t think the weight would’ve mattered.

Oddly enough, the controversy of the Mayweather weight issue has arisen once again, as tomorrow night’s rubber match is also to be contested at Welterweight.

While the issue of weight is no doubt an issue many cite as one (of many) factor(s) that will likely lead to Marquez’ defeat tomorrow night, in all honesty I think of it as very much a minor issue cast alongside a host of more important ones.

True, Marquez’ only other performance at Welterweight saw him lose every round and even get dropped once in the process, however one has to bring into consideration the fact that Marquez took that fight on only a few months notice, not to mention he was fighting a pure boxer with a penchant for making people look bad.

In other words, he took it upon himself to not only fight a stylistic mismatch, he also had to craft himself a Welterweight body within a single training camp.

This time however, Marquez was given the opportunity to take part in a tune-up match with Likar Ramos this past July, contested at Jr. Welterweight.

...Which only lasted 1 round and seemed a little fishy at that.

What I’m trying to say here, is that, while he likely isn’t nearly as comfortable at 140+ as Pacquiao is, he’s had much more time to work his way up to the weight the right way.

At least, one would assume that’s how a professional athlete would go about doing things.

That being said, as much as I love Marquez as a fighter, in all honesty I don’t think he’s going to be able to pull off a victory tomorrow night.

At 38 years of age, Marquez is noticeably slowing, and while his ability to adjust and trade punches in the pocket is legendarily formidable, I think Pacquiao’s slippery footwork is going to get the better of him.

To me, Pacquiao’s lucid footwork and ability to create angles are his greatest gifts as a fighter.

At the same time though, both Pacquiao and Marquez have a remarkable willingness to stand and trade punches just a little bit longer than most.

In their previosu fights, whenever the 2 of them decided to exchange combinations, Marquez was highly competitive due to his clever punch placement and overall ruggedness.

The Pacquiao of old was far too willing to play into Marquez’ game, resulting in the rough and tumble fights we’re all fortunate to have tucked away in the annals of boxing history.

In their second fight though, Pacquiao’s finest moments saw him clocking Marquez on his way in, and gracefully slipping behind him.

Given Pacquiao’s steady evolution into an undeniably better and more technically sound fighter in the years since he and Marquez’ second bout, it’s hard for me to see Freddie Roach allowing his fighter to make the same mistakes that even a blog writer like me noticed before.

I expect Pacquiao to work his angles and either box his way to landslide 12 round decision, or failing that, an 8th round TKO.

Though I wholly expect him to take some severe punishment, I don’t see Marquez getting a 10 count on the canvas.

Much like how you could count on Arturo Gatti’s face starting to swell up and/or bleed during his walk from the dressing room, Juan Manuel Marquez is one of those fighters that isn’t really in the fight until you knock him down.

Despite Pacquiao alone putting him to the canvas 4 times over 2 fights, the guy’s never been knocked out, and I honestly don’t think it’ll ever happen via a 10 count.

Congratulations, you've succeeding in pissing him off.

Going down for Marquez seems almost like a wake up call, like a signal to him that he’s gotta’ change his tactics or pick up the pace.

I sincerely hope Marquez wins tomorrow night, as most boxing trilogies/series arise due to a need to establish a clear victor due to both men trading victories.

Given that neither man won their first fight, it’d make for a good story if Marquez got a win in there somewhere.

Anyway, there’s my prediction.

Pacquiao by UD, or failing that, an 8th TKO stoppage.

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“Bionic Mexican” Is Now Officially In The Urban Dictionary!

Pictured: Antonio Margarito, one of the more noteworthy examples of a Bionic Mexican.

A friend of mine sent me an Urban Dictionary link the other day to the phrase “he had a tremendous singing voice,” which, me being me; I instantly recognized as a Joker quote from the Tim Burton Batman film.

My friend and I… We have a special kind of affinity for Batman, such that random quote-fragments such as this rarely go unnoticed, if ever.

That being said, seeing that quote on Urban Dictionary put the idea in my head that maybe I should start plugging some of my random isms and in-jokes into their database.

Being as I used the phrase just 2 days ago, I figured I should start things off by throwing “Bionic Mexican” up over there.

Here’s the official link.

And if you’re genuinely too lazy to click the link, (it happens) here’s the definition:

“Bionic Mexican”:

A Mexican fighter capable of absorbing an inordinate amount of punishment, much like The Terminator.

Example:

John: “Hey Brian, are you rooting for Cotto or Margarito?”
Brian: “I want to root for Cotto, but Margarito’s got that whole Bionic Mexican thing going, so I don’t know…”
Anyway, just wanted to toot my own horn, (for once) have a nice evening!

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Shane Mosley Can Beat Pacquiao… NOT.

I really don’t know how to feel about this match-up.

On paper Pacquiao vs. Mosley is basically supposed to be the big-budget event movie of boxing’s 2011.

What they don’t tell you though, is that this particular movie happens to be directed by Michael Bay, and thusly contains no substance whatsoever… and stars Shia LeButtFuck.

What I mean to say is, while the (manufactured) hype surrounding this fight is genuinely admirable; I find it difficult to view it as anything but yet another case of a damaged or declining fighter being tossed to the prime lion that is Manny Pacquiao.

It’s sad to say, but as much as I like/liked Sugar Shane, based on his performances in his recent bouts I.E. the one’s that have most of us viewing him as a CRIPPLED OLD MAN, it’s hard to picture him succeeding where others have failed.

Then again, it’s hard to argue that Mosley’s decent chin, caginess, and sneaky overhand right make him any less likely to beat Pacquiao than the chinless wonder that is Miguel Cotto, and the “I move my head… Sometimes” duo of Ricky Hatton and Antonio Margarito.

That being said, let’s take a minute to think on some factors that could potentially (but not likely) win the day for Sugar Shane:

1. Shane Makes It A Rough Fight

This one’s a long-shot, given that virtually no one has been able to put it into practice against Pacquiao; but Shane’s recent implementation of clinch heavy tactics under Brother Naazim’s watchful eyes, (which has NOTHING to do with his age…) is one that could do well to offset Pacquiao’s angles and smother his punch output.

Little Known Fact: Pacquiao Is Not "A Hugger." No Siree...

In theory, this would slow the pace of the fight in Shane’s favor, and potentially allow him to steal the bout by landing the more emphatic blows while initiating and breaking from clinches.

The problem with this strategy, is that Shane doesn’t exactly have the best skill-set to get in position to tie up Pacquiao with any sort of regularity.

He doesn’t have a jab and his legs aren’t what the used to be, so jabbing his way inside or turning Pacquiao are things I just don’t see him being able to do.

What Shane does have in this equation though, are decent counter-punching skills, decent timing, and a great, but potentially declining chin.

He’s not gonna’ win on punch output, and he’s not likely gonna’ win on ring generalship, but if he can make himself out to be the only man to land punches of any sort of note, or better yet; put the Filipino on the mat, there’s a slim chance he can pull off the upset.

In other words, regardless of whether he wins or not, Mr. Mosley is gonna’ have to walk through fire to reach the final bell.

2. Pacquiao Gets Greedy/Has An Off Night

If you thought the last one was unlikely, prepare to readjust your standards.

Manny Pacquiao is not the same fighter he was 7-8 years ago.

He’s cleaned up most of his quirks, and these days he’s one of the best finishers on planet.

In short, he’s become a very complete fighter that, while human; seldom makes the kind of careless mistakes that get fighters hurt.

Well, except in the Cotto fight… That was just plain dumb.  Dumb and AWESOME.

*Ahem!* ANYWAY, the point is, Shane Mosley has proven himself to be an extremely tough fighter that rarely gets rocked/put on queer street.

As old as he may be, he also happens to be a somewhat slipperier fighter than Antonio Margarito, who as we all know; is pretty much as easy to hit as… well, Antonio Margarito.

The point is, Shane is cagey enough to do things like take 3 minor shots to give 1 decent one, or even play opossum.

He's playing opossum, I swear.

Once again, this is pretty much as unlikely as one can imagine, but should Pacquiao bite for a clever feint, or get greedy and stay in the pocket just a moment too long, I believe the old adage says: “Anything can happen in boxing.”

3. Shane Fought The Wrong People

Floyd Mayweather and Sergio Mora.

While both of those guys are just about as far from each other on the skill range as humanly possible, the fact of the matter is; is that both guys make their living by making other fighters look bad.

Both are safety first counter-punchers that are hard to hit and offer little in the way offering counter opportunities to their opponents.

While it’s hard to say how true it is these days, in his prime Sugar Shane was a middle range boxer-puncher.

He excelled in tight exchanges, and indeed won most of his fights by being one step ahead in said exchanges.

While it’s hard to see him pulling ahead of Pacquiao in terms of tempo, the fact remains that in Shane’s most recent fights, the one’s that have most, including me; writing him off as an aging and declining fighter, he’s been fighting the kinds of guys that make not just him, but everyone look bad.

Pacquiao’s handspeed, punch output, and plethora of clever angles will very likely prove too much for Mosley, however in his heart I think this is exactly the kind of fight Shane wants.

He’s a puncher moreso than a boxer, and at this point in his career, I think even Shane knows his abilities as a fighter are more dependent on his opponent standing in front of him, making mistakes, and taking the wrong punches *cough!* MARGARITO! *cough!* than him genuinely outboxing them.

Very few fighters choose to retire at what one could call the “appropriate” time, both in terms of their physical health and financial situtations; and I don’t think Sugar Shane is any different.

I’ve written several articles in the past regarding my disdain for this particular matchup, largely due to my objection to Shane Mosley as being a relevant element of the welterweight division.

My only hope is that the fight ends up being more competitive than we all expect it to be, and that both men retain their faculties for the foreseeable future.

Seriously man, the last thing I wanna’ see is Sugar Shane knocked stupid by Congressman Pacquiao… That’d just be sad.

Like THIS sad...

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Hozumi Hasegawa Got Flattened… Again.

Jesus fuck man… I sure know how to pick ’em, right?

Less than 2 months ago, I pounded out a heartfelt article about Hozumi Hasegawa, a Kobe based Japanese boxer; and my unusual attachment to him.

Totally not gay, I swear.

Anyway, I’d never make it my business to say Hasegawa is an atypically skillful fighter, or even the best Japanese boxer; but fate led to me “choosing” him as a guy I’d keep my eye on, for better or for worse.

That being said, the past year or so has definitely been the worst year Hasegawa’s had in… well, his entire career.

Put it this way, up until April of last year; the guy hadn’t lost since 2001, had set a new Japanese record for consecutive title defenses, and was on a decent KO streak despite not having much of a punch.

He was on top of the world, only to have his reputation and legacy thrown in the shitter via a humiliating TKO loss to Fernando Montiel inside of 4 rounds.

Protip: Blocking with your face is not a sound tactic.

Given that I’ve already talked at great length about that whole fiasco, I think it’s best we move on; lest I lose my temper and start breakin’ shit.

Anyway, following the loss to Montiel, Hasegawa stepped up 2 weight classes to campaign at Featherweight against Juan Carlos Burgos.

Despite the added weight, Hasegawa looked good at 126; retaining most of his quickness and punch accuracy while pounding out a unanimous decision over a very game Burgos.

Which brings us to last night’s fight against Jhonny Gonzalez.

Jhonny Gonzalez is a very good, and more importantly; very tough fighter.

I suppose it’s also worth mentioning that Mr. Gonzalez is also quite heavy handed.

"Bubba beats, Bubba beats, Bubba beats, PEOPLE UP."

That being said, in a big night for Japanese champions, Hasegawa was the only one (Takahiro Ao and Toshiaki Nishioka also fought that night) that was unable to score a win.

While I have yet to sit down to watch the actual fights, from what I’ve read; it sounds like Hasegawa got put on queer street much in the same fashion that he did during his fight with Fernando Montiel.

That is to say, he did well in the opening rounds/minutes of the fight, only to guess wrong on a counter opportunity; and take exactly the wrong punch on the wrong part of his skull.

As I mentioned earlier, Hasegawa’s my boy; I’ll watch and read about his fights for as long as he has them, but even so, it’s no fun seeing your hero get flattened in such humiliating fashion.

Probably the worst part of Hasegawa’s 2 losses over the past year, is the fact that both came as a result of very sudden and highly variable circumstances.

Like I said, to my knowledge the guy was very much in the fight up until the moment he got KO’d, making it a case where it’s hard to say whether he lost as a result of being the lesser or fighter, or just ’cause he got caught by one good punch.

What really grinds my gears about this most recent loss though, is that I remember watching Toshiaki Nishioka beat the ever-loving fuck outta’ Jhonny Gonzalez just 2 years ago.

Does that mean Nishioka is just that much better than Hasegawa, that Gonzalez improved that much since then, or that Hasegawa might be on the downward spiral?

I don’t know, but it’s questions like that always make it hard to have heroes in the sport of boxing.

Trust me, I “chose” Miguel Cotto back when he first appeared on HBO; and look at all the drama he’s spawned over the past few years alone…

Ugh, hopefully I'll never have to see this again...

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Thoughts On Fight Night Champion Demo

So, I tried the new demo for Fight Night Champion on my PS3 yesterday.

For those that are unaware, I’ve written quite a few posts in anticipation of this game’s release.

Most of those posts were fairly critical of the new elements being introduced to the franchise, and sadly; today’s post will continue that trend.

The Fight Night Champion demo consists of a local and online head-to-head mode and several video featurettes detailing the new gameplay elements and graphical improvements.

For anyone whose been following any of the pre-release videos and articles regarding this game, the videos contained in the demo are exactly the same that have been used to promote the game thus far, so you may as well skip ’em.

Anyway, let’s get to the important stuff, namely the actual gameplay of the demo.

The local version of the demo (I haven’t tried online) comes with 4 fighters at 2 different weight classes, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson at heavyweight, and Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao at welterweight.

 

Not what I'd call the most even of matches for a demo...

If I may diverge for a moment, I feel a need to rant about stats in boxing games.

I think it’s kind of funny that they listed Manny Pacquiao’s stats as being 93 overall, making him on par with Muhammad Ali.

While I don’t doubt that Pacquiao will find his way into Canastota (the boxing hall of fame, dumbass) in the near future, and will likely be regarded as a top 100 of all time fighter, the very notion of stats in a boxing game kind of irks me, largely because a few nasty experiences I had in fighting opponents with vastly superior stats (read: BROKEN) in online matches in Fight Night 3 and 4.

 

Then again, I was playing as this guy most of the time...

If attributes were guaranteed to carry fighters to great success, as they typically do in videogames; then guys like Edison Miranda, John “The Beast” Mugabi, or Zab Judah would be all-time greats.

Just so we’re clear, those guys aren’t not ever will be anything more than “good” in the sport of boxing.

Muhammad Ali was solid in every category of physical capability that a fighter should be, with his durability, speed, and stamina serving as the foundation for his game; however the factors that put him over the edge, were intangibles like his unfaltering tenacity, ring intelligence, and heart.

Now watch, EA will go ahead and introduce a “ring intelligence” stat in the next Fight Night just to shut up dumbfucks like me.

Bullshit ramblings aside, while I took the time to play as all 4 fighters, I spent the majority of my time playing as Miguel Cotto against Manny Pacquiao, largely because I felt playing with a stat advantage would cloud my perception of the game.

I suppose it also helps that I like Miguel Cotto.

Anyway, from a presentation standpoint; the game is pretty impressive.

The fighters bear a closer likeness to their real-life counterparts, and the entrance animations are far more organic than in previous entries in the series, which had the fighters looking and moving in a very bland an generic fashion.

*Whew!* At leas it was never that bad…

In all, the most striking graphical change in the somewhat fuzzy, washed-out filtered look that the game sports.

Fight Night 4, and indeed many of EA’s recent sports games like MMA or Madden, have sported kind of a sterile/Walmart-y, plastic-y look to them that had all the human characters looking like Ken dolls.

Doesn't it look weird?

The texture work in Fight Night Champion seems more realistic, with pores, imperfections, and muscle definition appearing more realistic overall.

In-game, the default camera angle is a little annoying, with the fighter’s heads being too close to the top of the screen, and the ring ropes often obscuring some of the action; however this is an option that is changeable, so I can’t complain too much.

Despite the graphics looking nice, from a gameplay standpoint; the framerate seems a little out of whack.

Maybe it’s just the demo, but Fight Night Champion felt a little choppy to me.

It’s not that it felt slow, on the contrary it felt faster in some ways; it’s just that the game didn’t seem as “crisp.”

The delay time from controller input to on-screen action is a little more pronounced than in previous Fight Nights, and the motion blur effect is taken to near ridiculous heights, with Manny Pacquiao’s white gloves turning into white smudges any time any sort of action occurs.

Speaking of “action,” Fight Night Champion makes use of a brand new control scheme dubbed the “Full Spectrum Punch Control” system.

The new system consists of flicking the right analog stick to execute all of the punches in your repertoire as opposed to miming them with the analog stick.

Truth be told, I don’t like the new system.

Flicking the analog stick is probably more efficient, however the end result is a gameplay mechanic that is simply too sensitive for it’s own good.

Think about it, if you move the stick just a little bit off, you’ll end up doing something completely different from what you intended.

Not only that, but when you factor in the delay between action to implementation in-game; you end up with a game with an overly sensitive control scheme that queues your fuck-ups and plays them out well after you made them.

Seriously, if you have this demo, try spinning the analog stick for a second so you can watch the game play itself.

Moving on, guarding is now mapped to a shoulder button, resulting in all blocking being executed automatically, with no additional inputs required to guard high or low.

As with the punch control, this system reeks of someone thinking it would be a good idea to “streamline” the gameplay mechanics.

As with the punches, I feel that this was a big mistake.

Maybe I like being able to block high or low.

Maybe I like the idea of being able to lay traps for my opponents by aiming high with weak shots, and then going low with heavy ones.

 

Gatti vs. Dorin: Kick-Ass Bodyshot For The Ages

Honestly, why would EA think it would be a good idea to remove this?

For the time being, my overall impression of Fight Night Champion is mostly a negative one.

While Fight Night 4 was a little bit too hyperactive to be considered an accurate boxing simulation, the gameplay mechanics were solid and responsive, but moreover; it was  fun.

Fight Night Champion looks great, but the choppy framerate coupled with simultaneously overly and inadequately responsive gameplay; results in a product that if you ask me, could probably use a little bit more development time.

Either that, or less Canadians at the helm of the game’s development team:

Seriously, that guy was hella’ Canuck…

Anyway, those are my thoughts.

If you disagree with me, please leave a comment, I’d love to hear other’s thoughts on this.

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Shane Mosley’s Road to Pacquiao

“On May 7th, 2011, pound-for-pound superstar Manny Pacquiao will face future hall of famer, Sugar Shane Mosley.”

I read this about a week ago, and immediately found myself shaking my head in disapproval.

Despite being an amazing fighter, with a superb track record at that; the thought of Mosley facing Pacquiao now just makes my stomach turn.

Almost 2 years ago, Shane Mosley was on top of the world.

Fighting as a 4-1 underdog, Mosley utterly trounced Antonio Margarito, making use of a cagey and highly tactile gameplan imparted to him by his new trainer, Bernard Hopkins’ old friend Naazim Richardson.

While he looked absolutely brilliant in that performance, effectively turning back the clock on what at that time was a very uncertain era in his career, (loss to Cotto, tough fight with Mayorga) the truth remains that he clinched, rough housed with and clubbed his way to victory against a momentum based slugger with a habit for blocking punches with his face.

With his FACE.

In other words, while I would never take anything away from Mosley for his incredible victory over Margarito, as the timing of the win couldn’t have been more epic; (Cotto had edged a victory over Mosley earlier, and Margarito had just torn Cotto to shreds) but I think it needs to be said that people shouldn’t have been nearly surprised by it as they were.

Now, if Mosley had gotten a shot at Pacquiao then, when everyone was singing his praises and ballyhooing for him to challenge the world’s best; I probably wouldn’t have had a problem with him challenging Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao.

I would never have believed he could beat either of them, but I could have seen myself entertaining the prospect of him putting up a decent fight.

Instead though, Mosley would miss out on an opportunity to battle the (still) rising prospect Andre Berto due to the Haitian earthquake, and would remain inactive for nearly a year and a half.

A year and a half can make a world of difference when you’re nearly 40 in a young man’s sport.

As fate would have it, Mosley would finally get his shot at Floyd Mayweather, being thoroughly outboxed and, dare I say; brutalized for 12 rounds, despite landing an exciting overhand right that had Mayweather on queer street for a good while.

Outside of that one punch though, deprived of opportunities to clinch with and smother the offense of his fleet-footed opponent, Mosley looked like an old man in that fight.

First and only time I've ever seen him beat up like this.

Even so, it’s easy to look bad when you’re fighting one of the best (semi-active) fighters on the planet.

Following that horrendous loss, Mosley apparently went back to the drawing board and decided to rebuild his career.

How moving up to a weight that brought him nothing but shitty performances and ugly losses, as well as choosing Sergio Mora of Contender fame, an opponent with little to no marquee value or talent, figured into this plan is beyond me; but then again what do I know, I’m just a blog writer.

Anyway, as you can probably tell by now, Mosley’s next and most current fight was fought against Sergio Mora at Jr. Middleweight, in what was one of the sloppiest, boring, and utterly pointless contests in boxing that I can recall in recent memory.

Pictured: Mosley vs. Mora in a nutshell.

Mosley looked tired, bearing an impotent offense with none of the twitchy speed and sharp punching that made us all love him back in the day.

Mora on the other hand, was exactly the same as we all (regretfully) remember him.

Quick of fist and foot, and slippery to boot; Mora was his same boring self, making no use of his speed advantage by throwing too few (pillow fisted) punches.

With neither man able to do much of anything right in the fight, the contest ended in a draw, and rightfully so.

Neither man deserved to walk out of the arena that night feeling like a winner.

I'd have slapped them in the face instead of raising their hands. That's just me though...

And that, my friends; is Shane Mosley’s road to facing the pound-for-pound king of boxing.

A big win against a walking target, a punishing and brutal loss to the “other” best fighter on the planet, and a draw with a slippery tomato can.

That’s what gets you a big-time fight with the best in the world?

Sadly, this match seems to have been constructed, by Bob Arum no less; with the potential of pay-per-view buys in mind more so than it’s significance in regards to the competitive value of the bout.

Mosley’s was and is a great fighter, but it’s clear he’s entered the twilight of his career and should be considering his health more so than his checkbook.

I’ve seen his recent interviews.

I’ve noticed that his speech and mannerisms have begun to slow.

In a young man’s sport, where landing and dodging blows to people’s craniums is the name of the game, one should be wary of how “little things” like this could translate into their in-ring performance.

In other words:

If you’re noticeably slowing down and getting “goofy” in a fucking interview, maybe, just maybe; you’re also slowing down in the ring, probably more than you think.

This fight scares me, as I can’t help but feel that this time, against a far more aggressive and active opponent than his previous conqueror; Mosley will get hurt.

And I don’t mean “hurt” in the “I cut my finger on an envelope” sort of way.

I mean the guy might get knocked stupid.

Truth be told though, for a boxer like Shane Mosley, a pugilist that many proudly refer to as more of a “fighter” than a “boxer,” such an experience might be the only way he’ll ever find it within himself to call it quits.

I just hope the day Sugar Shane finally throws in the towel isn’t the day he finds himself unable to remember his kid’s names.

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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!

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

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