Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

And Now, A Message From Brock Lesnar

In case you’re wondering, the clip above comes from an advertisement for the upcoming videogame, WWE ’12.

For whatever reason, they hired Brock Lesnar to show up in the last 3 seconds of the video so he could scream at the audience.

Apparently that qualifies as good sales technique these days.

Anyway, I apologize if you fail to derive any sort of humor from this clip, though you should probably know that I cut it together just for you.

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

B-Hop Loses Title Via 2nd Round Bodyslam

Pictured: Bernard Hopkins getting tapped on the chin by a jab from Chad Dawson.

I know the phrase gets tossed around by ignorant fans all too often these days, but I’ve gotta’ say it:

Jesus-fuck man, boxing’s in trouble.

As of last night, we now have 2 consecutive pay-per-view events ending via bizarre, and wholly dissatisfying circumstances.

Last time it was Floyd Mayweather sucker punching an thoroughly unprepared and unnervingly bipolar Victor Ortiz.

Every time I see this, I hear Manny Steward in my head going "Aw..........."

This time, it’s Bernard Hopkins sustaining a shoulder injury via an accidental throw at the hands of Chad Dawson, resulting a questionable TKO that will likely be overturned within the next few weeks.

While Manny Pacquiao will always draw a huge audience, particularly among the Filipino demographic, with so many boxing main events degenerating into disappointing circus-like tomfoolery, it’s hard to say whether his rubber match with Juan Manuel Marquez will be able to generate significant interest with the UFC heavyweight title match being aired on public television during the same time slot.

For a life long boxing fan like me, this is a no-brainer, but for many other typical fans of “combat sports,” it’s hard for me to see people turning down a free event over a pay one, especially given the high-profile nature of the UFC bout.

....As well as the "bro-ey" nature of most UFC fans.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited as the next guy for Pacquiao Marquez III, in fact probably more so; but it’s hard for me to picture Marquez getting his sea legs at Welterweight overnight.

That’s a topic for a different day though.

Getting back to the matter at hand, the B-Hop and Dawson fight lasted around 5 minutes, and from the looks of it, Dawson was likely going to coast to a decision victory.

B-Hop’s one of my favorite fighters, and I’d watch him fight even if he was in a wheelchair, but from the looks of things with Dawson, I didn’t see the same spark that I did in his fights with Jean Pascal.

His feet were flat, there was little spring in his step, and oddly enough; he looked stiff to me.

B-Hop doesn’t get stiff.

The old adage in boxing, is that when it comes to old age, your legs are the first thing to go.

I hate to say it, as we only got to see him for less than 2 rounds last night, neither of which he seemed to lose by more than a slim margin; but I feel like this sadly might be the last time we see B-Hop in the ring.

From what I could tell from the footage, the “bodyslam” that occurred in the 2nd round was the fault of neither man.

B-Hop charged in to clinch, Dawson ducked, and while B-Hop leaned on his back, Dawson stood up, or at most, shrugged; resulting in the old man getting lifted off his feet.

Pictured: B-Hop goin' for a ride.

Slipping off of Dawson’s back, B-Hop fell to the canvas and jammed his elbow, sending force up his arm; resulting in what doctors reports are now confirming as a dislocated shoulder.

Given B-Hop’s advanced age, it’s hard to see him recovering from an injury like that in time for another go in the ring to be feasible, hence my concern over the fact that this garbage-ass fight/debacle might be the last time we see The Executioner in action.

For whatever reason, referee Pat Russell declared “no foul” on Hopkins’ spill to the canvas, thereby ruling his inability to continue a TKO for boxing.

Now, I don’t mean to question the merits of a professional referee, but frankly; my understanding of the rules of boxing had me picturing the fight as either a technical draw on the grounds of no “boxing maneuver” being utilized to acquire the victory, or a no contest on account of the bout having ended before 4-5 rounds could be scored on the cards.

Pictured: B-Hop seen in a rare light: On the canvas.

That’s just me though.

In any case, the fight looked like it was well on it’s way to becoming the chessmatch it was foreseen as.

No significant punches were landed, but Dawson’s quickness and reach seemed to be the sort that could give B-Hop fits.

Despite everything I said about B-Hop’s legs looking kind of sluggish, the man is very much a late round fighter; so it’s entirely believable that he could’ve pushed Dawson to mentally check out the same way he did against Jean Pascal.

Unfortunately, the boxing Gods were not smiling last night, so we’re left instead with yet another oddity for the hall of disappointments and weird-ass decisions.

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

For Once, I’m Backing Mayweather


It’s funny, despite largely despising his public persona, over the years I’ve begun to appreciate Floyd Mayweather a lot more as a fighter.

I’m not saying I never acknowledged his skills, as that’s pretty much impossible to do without willfully deluding yourself to the truth; rather I failed to recognize how valuable he was to the sport of boxing.

In short, outside of Congressman Pacquiao, no other currently active fighter possesses the name recognition and marquee value that Mayweather does.

In an era where boxing is rapidly becoming less and less relevant in the eyes of the masses, fighters like Floyd Mayweather, however publicly distasteful their image may be; are crucial to the success and survival of the sport.

That’s not to say boxing will every truly be phased out as a sport, (it won’t) but without big name fighters to generate money and interest; the chances of the sport floundering or losing ground to MMA become much more feasible.

That being said, the reason I used to hate Floyd Mayweather, was not because he acted liked a buffoon outside the ring, or because I found him boring, but because he was just so damn good.

Growing up, I remember watching the young Floyd cut a swath through the competition, gradually moving up in weight and creating matchmaking chaos all the way.

Every time he’d move up in weight, everyone in the division would either swarm to make a date with him, or hastily move up themselves so as to preserve their reputation and continue with their careers.

Most of all though, I just hated him because he beat my boy Gatti so badly.

I still have trouble watching this.

Nowadays, despite the repeated instances of Ray Leonard-esque layoffs, I’ve begun appreciate Floyd’s place in the sport.

In many ways, he’s like this generation’s Muhammad Ali or Jack Johnson, not in terms of skills or style; but in terms of the way he markets himself.

He’s a loud, brash, defiant, and arrogant black man, and what results is people coming out, en masse, to see if he’ll back up his words or end up eating them.

If anything is true about Floyd Mayweather, it’s that, of all the pay-per-view buys and ticket sales he generates, half of it can likely be attributed to people that want to see him lose.

I don’t know if it’s intentional on his part or not, but Floyd has very skillfully positioned himself as the quintessential heel of boxing.

Like in wrestling, everyone knows that it’s easier to sell a feud between a face and a heel as opposed to 2 faces, and as such; Floyd has basically streamlined the marketing and matchmaking process for his fights by (seemingly) willfully embodying the role of the heel.

Ted DiBiase: The Mayweather of wrestling, minus the in-ring ability.

Floyd is far from one of my favorite fighters in the sport, but I do enjoy watching him work nonetheless.

Of this generation, I can think of a better technical boxer than Mayweather.

He doesn’t use his legs to dance as much anymore, but in terms his positioning and quickness, few can match him.

His economical style is far from the most thrilling to watch, however his ability to remain elusive and utterly dominate the pace of the fight are second to none.

Similarly, his hand speed and tricky defense put him the rare position of being dangerous at all times, while being a steadfast 12 round fighter.

On top of it all though, in my mind Floyd’s mind is his greatest asset in the ring.

While he certainly is far from a mental giant outside the sport of boxing, Mayweather is, like Bernard Hopkins; a genius in the ring.

B-Hop: Master of demoralization, deception, and straight up dirty tactics. I love it.

More than that though, he’s possessed of a confidence and focus that seem virtually indomitable.

In a sport where mental strength accounts for about 80% of a fighter’s success at the top level, having unwavering confidence in one’s self is key.

While one-punch knockouts can and do happen, more often than not, knockouts are crafted through a combination of serendipity and careful coordination.

The point I’m trying to get across, is that often times, when you see a fighter defeated in emphatic fashion; it comes as a result of several visible factors throughout the fight.

In short, many fighters are defeated in the ring mentally, long before they are physically.

Case in point Zab Judah, who has a tendency to suddenly become retarded after the fourth round.

While he’s not a knockout artist in the least, Floyd is a fighter that frustrates, humiliates, and makes guys quit through sheer boxing skill.

And through a few cheap, borderline fouls, but that’s besides the point.

Today Floyd Mayweather will be fighting Victor Ortiz, a young Southpaw that’s dropped every man he’s faced at one time or another.

Many people look at Ortiz’ recent hard fought victory over Andre Berto as a Fight of the Year candidate, but personally, I do not.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a very good fight, with no less than 5 knockdowns throughout, however personally I found it to be somewhat frustrating.

To his credit, Ortiz dominated the fight through bullying and crowding Berto, resulting in a fight that was a whole lot more one-sided than the knockdowns would suggest.

Essentially, the outcome of the fight was decided solely in the first half of the bout, with Berto mentally checking out sometime after the sixth round.

Berto has never been possessed of one-punch knockout power, and given that he was pressured into relying solely on counters and potshots; he never really got his stuff going in the fight.

While I wholeheartedly commend Ortiz for his dominating performance, his lack of offensive tact (I.E. jabs) resulted in him getting floored twice but a guy that was fighting both hurt, and on the run.

He overextended himself, as young guys tend to do in energetic brawls; and it cost him what very likely could’ve been an easy victory.

Eat enough of these, and you go down. It's simple physics.

In case you couldn’t see where I’m coming from with all this, I’m picking Floyd to win over Ortiz.

While Ortiz can in fact box, his bet would likely to be to brawl with Floyd, though if he brings the same free swinging style as he did in the fight with Berto, he’s likely to walk into something big, more than likely a right hand.

Homerun punches are a double-edged sword.

Sure the have the capacity to deck guys in one shot, but should the be slipped or countered, the resulting fatigue and damage generated by such an outcome is far greater than punches of a more economical nature.

I wouldn’t go so far as to predict a knockout on Floyd’s part, but I do see him getting to Ortiz and maybe hurting him at some point.

For what it’s worth, and I’m likely to piss somebody off with this, I honestly don’t like Ortiz.

He can be fun to watch, as any guy that knocks people down can be; but I really don’t like the image he projects.

He has that trademark Golden Boy-tailored, people friendly image, but underneath it all he clearly has a chip on his shoulder, not to mention a massive helping of machismo.

With the haircut, the tribal tattoos, and the talk of “destroying” his opponent, Ortiz comes across as a fighter for the UFC crowd moreso than boxing.

Guys like this = Ortiz' crowd.

Oh well it’s not important, I just felt I should get that off my chest while I was on the subject.

That being said, tonight will be only the second time I’ll have rooted for Mayweather, with the first being when he fought Ricky Hatton.

Man I hate Ricky Hatton…

Anyway, here’s hoping my support for him doesn’t jinx, but above all; here’s hoping the fight turns out to be a good time!

 

Filed under: Boxing, Wrestling, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Remember That One Time Brock Lesnar Botched A Shooting Star?

It’s funny, in reading some of the comments on this video; it became apparent to me that a lot of people really like Brock Lesnar, both as a former WWF wrestler, and current UFC fighter.

I don’t know what it is about the guy, but for whatever reason; I just don’t like him.

He was kind of fun as a wrestler, back when he was doing squash matches for Paul Heyman and, y’know; not talking, but in his MMA career, I’ve seen little to like.

In the UFC, the man is a symbol of meatheaded-ness and muscular hypertrophy… And gaudy/hideous phallic tattoos:

Yes it is, Brock. Yes it is...

More than all that though, it may just be my inner conspiracy theorist talking; but I see Brock Lesnar as UFC’s mascot.

I think Dana White saw the image Lesnar projected, and adopted it as the ideal of the UFC demographic.

I think Lesnar was positioned, from the start, to be their Heavyweight champion (after only 4 fights) and become the highest paid fighter in their roster, regardless of whether he deserves it or not.

Not every guy gets to make the cover of their sport’s official videogame after 5 fights and barely 3 years of activity in the league.

Such is the kind of sleazy shit one can pull when they own the promotional rights to every athlete in an organization.

He’s their John Cena, a t-shirt and supplement seller.

I hate him, but I gotta' give him credit: The kids love him.

Maybe it’s just my undying allegiance to boxing talking, but I’ve never been able to see the beauty of Brock Lesnar’s fighting soul.

From what I’ve been told, the man has a legit background in wrestling, however his approach to MMA rarely shows it.

He’s quick on the shoot and intimidating as fuck, but his lateral movement is non-existent, and his bulk utterly unwieldy when it comes to anything other than lifting heavy objects, or failing that; laying on top of them.

"BROCK STRONGEST ONE THERE IS!!!!!! Brock take nap now...."

I may not be speaking from experience on this one, but I think it’s safe to assume 60 lbs. arms don’t exactly make for the best handspeed or coordination.

Ever since he debuted, Brock Lesnar has been my go-to guy for taking jabs at the UFC.

I’d be lying if I said watching Cain Velasquez beat the ever loving fuck out of him wasn’t one of the happiest moments of my sports viewing lifetime.

Well, there's goes Brock's sponsorship with Jimmy John's...

Anyway, I don’t know why I decided to use an afternoon of my Memorial Day Weekend to write about this; but oh well, at least the video was funny.

I don’t hate MMA, I just hate the image the UFC projects.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Oh Brock, we keep finding ways to slip you in...

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

Van-Damme In Expendables 2

Well fuck my nuggets, Van Damme finally checked his ego at the door and signed on for Expendables 2.

To those who are unaware, Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally approached for a role in Sylvester Stallone’s 2010 ode to modern meathead culture and 80’s action cinema, The Expendables.

While many have bashed The Expendables as being little more than a sub-par action film populated with a Towering Inferno style cast of notables, I actually kind of enjoyed it.

Sure, it was hardly one of the best films any of the actors had been in, and yeah the action was not quite as awesome as most of us were expecting; (digital squibs = sad panda) but at the end of the day I found it to be a big dumb action movie that succeeded in being just that: a big dumb action movie.

Pictured: A movie that FAILED at being big and dumb.

Despite how crummy the movie may have been in some areas, it gave us Dolph Lundgren vs. Jet Li, and Stallone vs. Stone Cold.

Any movie that does that, no matter how utterly average the fights within which may actually have been, deserves at least some credit, if only for the sake of film history.

ANYWAY, based on what I can recall, Van Damme’s role in The Expendables was likely to have been either that of Randy Couture’s character, or that of Gary Daniel’s villain role.

I’ve read rumors that suggest Van Damme’s ego got in the way,in the form of making him reject the Gary Daniel’s role due to the fact that his character would lose a fight on-screen, most likely to Jet Li.

At the same time, I’ve also heard rumors that the Muscles From Brussels turned down the roles offered to him due to him being in the process of trying to “legitimize” his acting career based on the success of movies like JCVD.

In either case, and for better or worse, Van-Damme didn’t appear in The Expendables, and I for one was kind of disappointed.

As decent a guy as Randy Couture is, the man simply cannot act; and in that sense I would’ve loved to have seen Van-Damme stand in for him.

Do I really need an excuse to use this pic?

Similarly, as fuckin’ awesome and hilarious as Terry Crews can be, he was criminally under-utilized in The Expendables; and came across as the big black dude that was there just to be a big black dude.

If they really needed a big black dude that badly, they probably should’ve asked Carl Weathers, or Jim Brown, or Mr. T, or hell, even Michael Jai White.

Regardless, next time around they need to let the big black guy be more than just scenery with a gun.

‘Cause y’know, racism and n’shit.

Anyway, it makes me happy to know Van-Damme is gonna’ be in the sequel, which for the love of all that is holy; better be a decent step-up in terms of overall quality.

The basic premise does, and always will have potential, and I have confidence in Stallone in delivering the goods the second time around.

I would appreciate it if he’d reduce the meathead quotient just a little bit, and in turn dial up the nostaligia factor; but that’s just me.

Now all he needs to do is find a way to shoehorn Scott Adkins, Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa in there…

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Top 10 Manliest Man Moments #10: Beard-Shiro

Alrighty boys ‘n girls, it’s been a long time coming, but today we’re finally kickin’ off a new Top 10 list.

This time around we’re gonna’ be venturing into the depths of MANLY cinema to dig up the Top 10 Manliest Man Moments in movie history.

Better buckle your ass down, ’cause for the next 10 days, testosterone levels are gonna’ shoot through the roof, energy drinks will be consumed en masse, fake boobies will be squeezed, Tapout gear’ll be worn 24/7, and no opportunity to apply the principles of infighting will be missed out on.

Okay, maybe things won’t get that meatheaded around here; at least I hope not…

Pictured: The poster boy for a generation...

In any case, expect much violence, feats of strength, and epic acts of selfless heroism to be the core subjects explored over the next 10 days.

That being said, while things may in fact get a little meat head-y in the immediate future, bear with me, ’cause believe me; this shit’s gonna’ be awesome.

Anyway, let’s get the ball rollin’ with the first entry in our list, the 10th Manliest Man Moment as seen in Hokuto No Ken: The Movie:

Hokuto No Ken AKA Fist of the North Star is perhaps the MANLIEST anime or manga in existence.

Except maybe Golgo 13…  Golgo 13’s the shit.

THAT FUCKING PIMP.

To the sad few that might not be aware of it, Hokuto No Ken takes the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max, re-casts a Japanese Bruce Lee as the main character; and features (numerous) instances of him blowing people the fuck up by TOUCHING THEM as it’s core plot point.

If that’s not fuckin’ MANLY, then I don’t know what is.

Oh wait, THIS:

Anyway, the main character of Hokuto No Ken is an insanely powerful martial artist named Kenshiro.

Kenshiro is essentially your basic Yojimbo-esque silent do-gooder, albeit one that dispenses justice with the body exploding martial art of Hokuto Shinken as opposed to say, a six-shooter or katana.

Throughout the series, Ken kills an ungodly number of people; almost always in horribly gruesome fashion.

While any one of said kills could easily be ranked as one of the Manliest Man Moments in movies, or at least the goriest; such instances of bone-crunching blood fuck-ery occur in Hokuto No Ken with such alarming regularity; that it kind of loses it’s luster after awhile.

I hate to say it, but you can only see a guy’s intestines fall out, or his head explode so many times before it starts to seem routine.

Dude, Neutrogena. Look into it.

Well okay, maybe not routine; but you know what I mean.

Anyway, as weird as it may sound, perhaps the most badass thing Kenshiro ever did in Hokuto No Ken actually involved no maiming or butchering.

Well, “very little” maiming or butchering anyway…

You see, perhaps the most awesome thing Ken ever did in all of Hokuto No Ken and it’s spin-offs, was get his ass whupped and grow a pimp-ass fuckin’ beard:

Pictured: The beard equivalent to Sam Elliot's mustache.

While that is indeed perhaps the pimpest beard in all of existence, I have to admit; simply bearing it isn’t enough to constitute a slot on this list.

Thankfully, Kenshiro manages to one-up the awesomeness of his newly bearded visage almost immediately by, you guessed it; turning some grossly outmatched thugs into salsa waterballoons.

Not only that, he does so after essentially RETURNING FROM THE FUCKING DEAD.

At the beginning of the movie, we’re treated to a sequence wherein Ken gets his ass handed to him by a blond douchebag named Shin.

And of course by "ass handed to him" I mean he got 7 holes poked into his torso by Shin's fingers.

Flash forward sometime later, and we find a couple of kids named Bat/Bart and Lin/Rin (sorry, Japanese is weird like that…) being attacked by some Road Warrior thugs.

Literally seconds away from being mudhole stomped to death by a biker dude, Lin/Rin throws on a PURPLE FUCKING AURA and summon her random fuckin’ psychic powers to call out to Kenshiro, who just happens to be nearby.

From there, Ken’s second appearance in Hokuto No Ken: The Movie sees him literally RISE FROM HIS GRAVE to save the kids looking like Swamp Thing or some shit.

Now, while that may not sound that awesome, bear in mind that Mr. Kenshiro then proceeds to absent mindedly knock a couple of skyscrapers down WITH HIS FISTS.

Not only that, one of said buildings actually falls on Mud Man Kenshiro’s head, and he justs keeps right on walking like nothing happened.

Hell, the building even waits for him to walk out from under it to finish falling over!

Immediately following this, Ken struts his way up to the thugs; shedding his Mud Man getup along the way to reveal:

An awesomely pimptastic hood and beard combo!

BAM! Stylish!

As awesome as the “Deployment of the Beard” was, the real icing on the cake is the fact that this magnificently MANLY entrance sequence is wasted on a handful of some of the lowliest and most puny thugs in the entire Hokuto No Ken universe.

Despite having just seen the man-mountain before them RISE FROM THE GRAVE and KNOCK FUCKING BUILDINGS DOWN WITH HIS BARE HANDS, in classic kung fu movie fashion; the thugs proceed to pull knives and crossbows on ‘ole Ken.

10 bucks says Ken's dick is sharper than that knife...

Not only that, during all of this the motherfucker that was stompin’ a mudhole on little Lin/Rin doesn’t even think to take his boot off of her.

The girl put up a PURPLE FUCKIN’ AURA while you were stomping her and then a muddy fuckin’ Juggernaut came back to life, started wreckin’ buildings n’shit, and then proceeded to march straight towards your ass with GLOWING RED FUCKING EYES.

Even if the dude failed to make the connection between the Mud Man and the girl, you’d think he’d at least, y’know; stop doing what he was doing, or better yet, RUN THE FUCK AWAY.

Regardless, rest assured the dude that made with the stompage is the first to get it… BAAAAAAAAAADDDD….

Yeah, pretty sure your eye's not supposed to do that...

From there, Ken proceeds make goopy cherry Jell-O out of the rest of the gang, caving in faces and the like.

This isn’t the most creative of Ken’s beatdowns in Hokuto No Ken, given that it favors speed and efficiency over brutality and rage; however for what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure none of the bad guys make it out of the fight able to wear hats anymore.

Oh yeah, and none of them lived either, which is a plus.

You see they ain't got heads no more, so hats would be... Yeah, dumb joke; I know...

As mentioned above, this sequence was far from the most brutal moments in Hokuto No Ken history, however the awesomeness of the entrance; coupled with the ultra-rare appearance of Beard-Shiro put this one high on my list in terms of badass moments in movies.

Well, #10 anyway…

That being said, this was just the beginning of the Azn Badger’s Top 10 Manliest Man Moments in movies.

Check back tomorrow for more MANLINESS as we move on to Manly Moment #9!

Filed under: Comics, Kung Fu, Movies, Top 10 Manliest Man Moments, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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 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.

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

Azn Badger = Hypocrite

The Azn Badger has been feeling a little hypocritical as of late.

Despite my general disdain for the UFC/MMA culture, I’ve found myself playing the demo for UFC: Undisputed 2010 pretty much every day this week.

I know, I know:

“How can a hardcore boxing fan that talks shit about the UFC all the time allow himself to support the organization by playing it’s official videogame!?”

Well, A): I’ve never had anything bad to say about the actual sport of MMA, only the culture and obnoxious fanbase that seems to have sprung up as a result of it’s ascension into the mainstream.

Sorry to beat a dead horse, but...

And B): Chill out, dick wad.  It’s just a videogame, and a fairly good one at that.

To be fair, I used to play the previous iteration of the game with my roommates for shits and giggles.

Only 1 out of the 3 of us (the one with legitimate interest in the UFC) actually took the time to learn how to play, so for the most part the matches boiled down to little more than button mashing sessions not unlike a round of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.

"AND IT'S ALLLLLLLLLLLL OVERRRRR!!!!!!!"

At the time, I used to watch a fair amount of UFC, usually in support B.J. Benn, (he’s a Hawaiian pro athlete, therefore he’s worth my time) as well as for the social value it presented in me in hanging out with my roommate.

Though I no longer have roommates to play games or watch cagefighting with, for some reason I feel like I’m mentally in just about the same place that I was back then.

That is to say:

I’m not exactly the most cerebral of people these days.

I would probably shit myself with glee if I had one of those bubble thingies right now...

As with most things these days, I blame work; as it has retarded my brain functions to the point of making games like Undisputed 2010 seem like the coolest ever made, and dare I say; potentially worth buying.

Did you hear that?

That was the sound of Hell freezing over.

While I still don’t have a clue how to play the demo properly, (the command list in the options screen is like 50 pages long) the pick up and play factor has been a godsend in terms of keeping me sane this week.

I don’t know if it’s just the 60 hour work weeks or what, but I just can’t seem to find time for more involved games like Batman: Arkham Asylum.

I want to finish Batman, but for whatever reason I just feel “too busy” to play it.

Batman: Great for Azn Badger on 3 day weekends, too "smart" for him during 60 hour work weeks.

UFC gives me an experience that can be over and done with inside of 5 minutes.

While I’ve never been one to seek out instant gratification in my games, (if it’s any indication, Demon’s Souls was my 2nd PS3 game) at this point in time, I think it’s the only kind of gaming entertainment I can handle.

Though I’m legitimately excited to try games like Valkyria Chronicles, games that require a high-degree of time investment and involvement from the player; the more hours I put in at work, the less I see myself being able to fully enjoy a game like that.

In my current mental state, I'd probably just try and bumrush my way through every mission...

Anyway, I’m beat to shit, (anus still recovering…) so that’s all I’ve got for tonight.

Chances are I’ll pick up UFC at some point, though I assure I’ll do so grudgingly, and while mumbling under my breath that boxing is the superior and more gentlemanly sport.

Unfortunately the new Fight Night Champion doesn’t come out until next year, so for now I’m going with UFC.

Either that or Splatterhouse, ’cause Splatterhouse was the shit back in the day, and from what I’ve read; the new one ain’t so bad.

Plus it’s bloody as fuck and probably as cerebral as your average UFC fan.

Haha!  BURN.

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

Batman: Arkham Asylum Is Good. Like, Really Good.

So, Arkham Asylum is a good game.

Like, really good.

Last night I parked my butt in front of the TV for a good solid 4 hours straight playing it, and by golly, I enjoyed every minute of it.

4 hours might not sound like a helluva’ long time to some of the more hardcore gamers out there, so allow me to elaborate.

These days I’m what is commonly referred to as a “casual gamer.”

Pictured: The Exact Opposite of A "Casual Gamer."

Not only that, I have this weird personal issue where after about an hour or so of playing videogames, I start to feel anxious; like I need to get up and do something else RIGHT NOW.

More often than not, I tend to prioritize activities like working out, going to bed early, or writing this fucking blog, over playing videogames.

In the case of my maiden voyage on Batman: Arkham Asylum last night though, this was not the case.

Near as I can tell, the game’s greatest success, is the constant feeling of progress and accomplishment that the game imparts to it’s player.

Last night I mentioned how I really don’t care much for Metroid-style games.

Like many non-Metroid fans, my biggest objection to the structure of those games, is not the fault of the designers, but rather my own stupidity.

Thought I’ve always said that Zelda games made me feel dumb as a kid, Metroid games made me feel downright “special.”

Like, helmet “special.”

Stone Cold demonstrating the image crippling power of The Retard Helmet.

Something about the layout of the map, and how the player was expected to wade their way through shit storms of enemies and hazards without knowing where to go, just never did it for me.

Though I’ve heard Arkham Asylum referred to as a Metroid-Vania style game, (a description which is fairly accurate) the experience is nowhere near as lonesome, nor the map layout as cryptic as either of those games.

Trust me, having Oracle on staff to order you around via radio every now and again is a godsend for exploration newbs such as myself.

Well hello there madam. Feel free to call me on my Bat Phone anytime you like...

In short, it’s similar to a Metroid-Vania game, but with a more structured and objective based progression.

Which is a good thing, seeing as I can think of no dumber element to a Batman game than having the player get lost.

Think about it, would the fuckin’ Batman ever get lost, much less at Arkham?

Pictured: Batman upon realizing he is in fact, a retard.

Batman is a man on top of shit in any situation, so I feel it is a wise decision on the part of the developers to have made the game’s structure reflect this.

Aside from the strength of the layout of the game, I feel that the games 240 or so collectibles really add a lot to making the player feel like their making some headway into the game, even in it’s early stages.

While part of me wants to say that, like Mega Man X3, there are in fact too many hidden items in the game, to the point in which you literally can’t turn a corner without accidentally bumping into something useful, thus far I think I actually like this element of Arkham Asylum.

It is kind of silly, walking into a room and finding Riddler trophies n’shit strewn about; but in a game with a map as large as this, any form of progress, no matter how minute, goes a long way towards making neurotic players like myself feel like they know what their doing.

Near as I can tell, this is Batman’s greatest success:

Spoon-feeding the player little rewards throughout the entire game so as to effectively stamp out the possibility of frustration.

It’s an incredibly elementary approach to game design, but it’s working for me so far.

As of writing this, I have had firsthand encounters with 2 major supervillains of Batman’s rogue’s gallery:

The Scarecrow, and Bane.

The developers take on Scarecrow was mighty impressive.

Both the level design and his costume for his sequence reflect a definite Freddy Krueger-esque sensibility, but given the seedier nature of Arkham Asylum’s art design, I feel it works very well.

Ninja + Freddy Krueger + Batman Begins Scarecrow + Psycho Mantis = Arkham Asylum Scarecrow.

From a gameplay standpoint, I found this “boss fight” (wasn’t really a fight…) to be quite entertaining.

Shifting the game into 2-D sidescrolling mode so as to allow for more streamlined movement and coordination really worked, and I applaud the efforts of the developers.

Bane, on the other hand, was a fun battle on a visceral level, however the comic fan inside me was kind of miffed by his brutish persona.

Bane as envisioned by the marketing department of the UFC...

As a kid that grew up reading Knightfall, Bane has a special place in my heart as one of my favorite Batman villains, and yet every time he’s used in media other than the comics, his character is grossly misinterpreted.

Um... No. Just, no...

Bane isn’t a massive brute or meathead, he’s a cunning and wily villain that could be called Batman’s equal on almost every level.

Oh well, my inner-comic dork’s objections aside, I’m happy that Arkham Asylum took a few seconds to at least explain why Bane suddenly went retard, not to mention Hulk-ed out beyond the realm of believability.

Essentially, Bane serves as key element to the game’s plot, not as a mastermind, or even hired hand; but as an instrument forcibly implemented by the combined will’s of The Joker and a mysterious Dr. Young.

From what I know at the 4 hour mark, the plot involves Joker using Dr. Young to extract and deconstruct the Venom Derivative from Bane, which they then mutate and enhance to create a more powerful Titan Formula which causes people to Hulk Out.

Basically, Joker plans to use the Titan Formula to create an army of Hulk-ed Out thugs to let loose on Gotham.

It’s kind of stupid, in a Silver Age comic-y sort of way, but the real experience of a game is playing it, and the minute to minute experience of Arkham Asylum thus far goes a long way towards making up for a slightly retarded plot.

Anyway, I’ve said about as much as I feel I can about Arkham Asylum for now.

I will say this though:

The combat system is a little simplistic for my Devil May Cry trained thumbs, but it’s rewarding in a “look what I just did with 2 buttons!” sort of way.

Now excuse me, I’m gonna’ go beat the shit out of some more Bat-Villains…

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