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Khan vs. Peterson: Great Fight, Poor Officiating

Pictured: Lamont Peterson rips Amir Khan to the body.

Last Saturday night, Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson gave the boxing community a gift it will seldom forget.

Sadly, that gift, much like an Indiana Jones marathon, was possessed of a conclusion that well and truly shat all over the greatness that preceded it.

In this age of protected champions and risk-reward matchmaking, it’s rare to see 2 young fighters square off in their physical prime, particularly when one of them essentially holds all the cards at the negotiating table I.E. Khan.

Regardless of whether it was due to arrogance on the part of Golden Boy, or simply due to the dearth of headline worthy talent at Jr. Welterweight willing to step into ring with “King” Khan, at the end of the day Khan-Peterson turned out to be tremendous fight in spite of the controversy that would surround it’s questionable officiating.

In particular, the fight served to rekindle my appreciation for Peterson, as despite being impressed by his early bouts, by this point I’d just about written him off as a credible world champion caliber fighter.

Indeed, sometimes it feels good to be wrong.

The fight started out at a fast clip, with Khan circling and shooting out flashy combinations at distance while Peterson struggled to close the distance.

Despite both fighters being possessed of natural quickness of both feet and hands, it was clear from the start that Khan’s lengthy strides and wild punching was going give him a clear edge in a straight up boxing match.

Ducking awkwardly at times, and rarely going on the offensive in the first several minutes of the fight, Peterson looked to be stymied by Khan’s physical advantages, advantages that typically belong to Peterson himself in most of his fights.

Despite this however, Peterson did well to avoid or block most of Khan’s flurries, pressuring him all the while.

Fortunately, despite suffering a slip and a balance related knockdown in the first round, Peterson proceeded undaunted into the fight, adopting a brawling fight plan that has heretofore been unseen in career up until now.

Pictured: Amir Khan standing over the toppling, but still game Lamont Peterson.

Typically thought of as a boxer-puncher with an emphasis on “boxer,” Lamont Peterson entered into the 3rd and 4th rounds of his fight Khan a full-on rough and tumble brawler.

Employing his own formidable footwork and speed as a launchpad for his offense, Peterson chased Khan about the ring as few others have done before.

In the past, Khan’s one glaring weakness was always his questionable chin.

Floored by Breidis Prescott in embarrassing fashion, and hurt by several other fighters earlier in his career, Khan’s chin has always cast a shadow over his potential worth as a elite level fighter, however in recent years, after having moved up in weight to Jr. Welterweight and begun training under Freddie Roach, his chin has become less of an issue.

Last year however, against the brick-fisted plodder Marcos Maidana, Khan found himself wobbled and nearly out on his feet in the 10th as a result of late comeback rally from the Argentinean.

My account of the fight can be read HERE.

While Maidana succeeded in making Khan look bad in the last few rounds of their fight, he was able to do so mainly because of Khan’s fatigue, defensive failings, and inability to finish him in the 1st round in spite of putting him down with a crippling body shot.

I wouldn’t call it a lucky shot per se, however I’d argue Maidana’s success in that fight had as much to do with his immeasurable intestinal fortitude as it did Khan’s own failings and lack of focus.

That being said, when Lamont Peterson came out for the 3rd round, and showed Amir Khan what can happen when a guy with good head movement and footwork comes out to brawl, pushed Khan to the edge from that point forward.

Khan may have stumbled into a bad situation with Maidana, but last Saturday night, Lamont Peterson brought the trouble straight to his front door.

While pressure fighters, and guys with iron-chins are a dime a dozen, it’s truly a rare sight to see a guy with technical pedigree put their skills towards hounding and clubbing away at another, equally technical fighter.

For me, it was like watching a carefully choreographed, bloodsoaked ballet.

Khan would skip about in his uppity way, trying to create distance, and, as if tethered to him with an invisible fishing line; Peterson would step right along with him, pounding away at the body all the way.

Watching expert infighters work their magic is one of the greatest spectacles in all of boxing, however watching Peterson, an innate boxer, lay into Khan with such agility and elegance, was a impressive and almost artful display of the craft I’ve rarely seen.

Throughout rounds 3 and 4, Peterson managed to breach Khan’s comfort zone and rip him with thudding body blows.

For whatever reason however, likely due to fear of overextending himself in his relentless, but physically taxing body attack, Peterson slowed down in the 5th and 6th round, doing extraordinarily well to avoid punches through careful shoulder points and rolls, but essentially gave the rounds away due to inactivity.

Pictured: Amir Khan swats Lamont Peterson across the chest with a hook.

The rest of the fight proceeded at a entertaining and feverish pace, with the lead changing virtually every 2 rounds.

By the end of it all, in spite of Peterson’s eye-opening performance, I expected a draw, or a 1 point victory for Khan.

As has been the case in virtually every fight in the past several months though, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Amir Khan, despite sounding like a whiny and decidedly broken-ass record in his post fight interview, claimed he felt he was fighting 2 men in the ring last Saturday night.

While I hate the idea of hometown favoritism in boxing, (the fight was held in Washington D.C., Peterson’s hometown) in all honesty, I feel there’s some truth to Khan’s claim.

Most of the judges for the Khan-Peterson fight were seasoned vets, and their scoring, based on the referees’ rulings, seemed entirely legit for the most part.

The real problem with the fight, despite the crowd-pleasing and competitive nature of the actual contest, was in the officiating of it.

In short, referee Joe Cooper did not strike me as a world class in-ring official.

Pictured: Joe "Coop Man" Cooper.

From the moment the 2 fighters touched gloves, and Cooper yelled the equivalent of “Look at me, I’m on TV!” you could tell he wasn’t quite up to snuff.

While an odd observation to make, given that he’s just a ref, Cooper struck me as particularly ungraceful and uncoordinated in the ring.

Often in poor viewing position of the action, and worse yet, often physically obstructing the fighter’s paths to one another, Cooper himself was actually the direct cause of Lamont Peterson’s slip in the first round.

Pictured: Referee Joe Cooper sweeping the leg.

That’s right, Lamont Peterson actually fell to the canvas due to having gotten his legs tangled with those of a slow and clumsy-as-fuck ref named Joe Cooper.

Another observation I made during the fight, was the fact that Cooper spent nearly the entire fight, or at the least the second half of it, yelling almost exclusively at Amir Khan.

There wasn’t a whole lot of clinching in the fight, as is typical of “good” fights, but there was a lot of leaning, mostly due to Peterson’s rough and physical infighting; however instead of telling the fighters to “punch/work out,” I noticed Cooper would always yell:

“Fight out Khan!”

Peterson was the one initiating the tie-ups, so if anyone, he should’ve have been the one being yelled at.

It probably doesn’t mean anything, but personally I started to get irritated by the one-sided nature of the referee’s chastisements.

All of this however, is merely a prelude to the true wrongdoings of Joe Cooper’s inept/corrupt officiating.

Throughout the first half of the fight, Cooper occasionally scolded Khan for pushing.

By scolded, I mean he wagged his finger at him, and told him to knock it off.

At the very end of the 7th however, Cooper actually stopped Khan from returning to his corner, and deducted a point for pushing.

Pictured: Joe Cooper deducting a point for pushing.

He deducted a point, for pushing.

I know pushing is technically illegal in the official rules of boxing, but to this day I’ve never seen it enforced.

It’s like clinching.

Clinching is technically illegal, but I never saw Ricky Hatton or B-Hop get points deducted for it.

Hell, when you get right down to it, some guys made their whole careers out of strong arming and pushing their opponents.

How do you think Jake LaMotta fought his way into the hall of fame?

How do you think Joe Frazier gave Muhammad Ali hell every time they stepped into the ring together?

How do you think Wladimir Klitschko is still the premier heavyweight in the world?

Oh wait, because when he feels like it, he can do this to people:

Pushing, or otherwise forcibly manipulating one’s opponent to create an advantageous position in the ring, is an expected consequence of a sport in which 2 people people punch each other in the brain all night.

Boxing isn’t always a give and take affair ala Rock and Sock ‘Em Robots.

That’s part of what makes it among the most inherently dramatic, visceral and human of all sports.

If a guy was tearing my gut to shreds with body blows all night, obscure 150 year old regulations aside, I could definitely see myself trying to push him away to catch a breather.

That being said, despite his horrible conduct in the fight through the 7th round, Joe Cooper went on to top himself by deducting another point from Khan for pushing in the 12th and final round.

Joe Cooper: "I AM, THE LAW!"

He deducted 2 points.

For pushing.

Who the fuck does that!?

Joe FUCKING Cooper that’s who.

So, on top of announcing himself to the cameras like a bro-hemian douche-rocket, on top of spending the whole night yelling at the foreign guy, on top of deducting 2 points for fucking pushing; Joe Cooper also single-handedly reversed the outcome of the fight.

That’s right, 2 judges awarded Peterson the victory via scores of 113-112, meaning Joe Cooper’s point deductions made all the difference.

Truly, it does indeed suck to be wrong sometimes.

As awesome as the fight was, it truly saddens me to know that boxing is, and forever will be, corrupt as a Chicago political official.

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The In-Ring History Of Smokin’ Joe Frazier

Joe Frazier: January 12, 1944 – November 7, 2011

32-4-1, 27 KO’s

It saddens me to know that this article started out as a tribute to, rather than a memorial of Joe Frazier.

That being said, as you might have heard by now, earlier today Philadelphia’s own Smokin’ Joe Frazier succumbed to liver cancer while in hospice.

Despite a prosperous, and nearly 3 year reign as the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, at the time perhaps the single most universally regarded of all sports championships; the story of Joe Frazier’s career is one that is often times obscured by the achievements of his contemporaries.

It is also one that is tragically wrought with bitterness and frustration.

As a lifelong fan of boxing, it’s hard to deny that, while undeniably well known and acknowledged by the boxing community; Frazier has never really received the same level of publicity and cultural relevance that he likely deserved.

True, he never had the same transcendent charisma of his nemesis, Muhammad Ali, but the fact remains, even among hardcore fans of boxing, his name was never dropped with the frequency and enthusiasm that one would expect for a fighter of his legendary ability.

Well, outside of Philly anyway.

That being said, as a big fan of boxing, particularly in regards to it’s colorful history; I figure today is as good as any to pick my own brain and share with you all a detailed look at the career of Joe Frazier as I remember it.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we:

If I remember correctly, despite Frazier’s association with the city of Philadelphia as it’s “favorite son,” he was actually born in the town of Beaufort, South Carolina.

Just so you know, adoptive hometowns are not at all a rare occurrence in the sport of boxing, as the New Jersey based Arturo Gatti was originally from Montreal, and on that same note, I believe Marvelous Marvin Hagler of Brockton, Massachusetts was actually from Newark.

That being said, unlike many other fighters, Frazier took to boxing relatively late in life, at the age of 15.

From what I can recall, much like was the case with Mike Tyson, he entered into the sport somewhat overweight.

As an amateur, Joe Frazier only lost once, to future contender and rival, Buster Mathis.

From what I understand, Frazier’s feelings for Mathis were often contentious, not only due to the loss, but because their stylistic differences and training habits were like night and day.

Coincidentally, due to an injury Buster Mathis would later end up abdicating his slot on the 1964 Olympic team to Frazier, resulting in Smokin’ Joe’s first major step to fame and glory in the form of earning a gold medal at the games.

Turning professional in 1965, Frazier cut a swath through the heavyweight division under trainer Eddie Futch, knocking out his first 11 opponents, and defeating notables such as Oscar Bonavena and George Chuvalo, among others.

In 1968, Frazier once again fought former amateur rival Buster Mathis, this time as world class professionals in contention of the New York regional title, a partial championship designed to eventually produce a legitimate champion in light of Muhammad Ali having recently been stripped of his world title.

Fighting in Madison Square Garden, the Frazier and Mathis reached equilibrium early on, trading rounds throughout the first 6 rounds.

Eventually though, as tended to happen in Joe Frazier fights, the tide began to turn, and Smokin’ Joe quickly began to outpace and outpunch Mathis from the 7th round on.

Sure enough, by the 11th round, Frazier punished Mathis down to the canvas, and earned the KO victory.

Frazier would go on to defend his regional title a total of 4 times, besting fan favorite Jerry Quarry during this time.

In 1970, Frazier would challenge for the unified world championship (the real title) against Kentuckian Jimmy Ellis.

Both fighters claimed victories over several common opponents, as well as were possessed of terrific punching power, however after only 5 rounds, Frazier managed to lay waste to Ellis, in a decisive TKO victory that forced trainer Angelo Dundee to throw in the towel for his man, Ellis.

In his first defense of his title, Frazier laid waste to hall of fame light heavyweight Bob Foster inside of 2 rounds.

Following this, in the year 1971, Frazier was set in place to defend his title against the freshly re-licensed Muhammad Ali.

Though it likely wasn’t as well known as it is today, Joe Frazier was instrumental in bringing Ali back to the sport.

Frazier was so opposed to the idea of Ali being stripped of his title, that his initial reaction to the idea of the regional title bouts to crown a champion for the vacant title, was one of disgust and dismissal.

Frazier’s momentum was red hot at the time Ali announced his “retirement,” and it’s well known that he would’ve liked to have fought for the title prior to Ali’s “lost years.”

That being said, Frazier devoted a great deal of time and money towards appealing Ali’s case to commission, going so far as to appeal the case directly to president Richard Nixon; only to ultimately feel betrayed as Ali would go on to publicly berate and deface him once the fight contracts had been signed.

It’s debatable whether Ali’s poor treatment of Frazier was a result of showmanship, or genuine malice, but regardless; his actions would result in Frazier’s lifelong enmity for the Louisville Lip.

Taking his feelings of bitterness and betrayal into the ring with him, Frazier laid into Ali with a fervor befitting of a bout billed as “The Fight of the Century.”

Ali took some of the early rounds with stiff jabs and crackling combinations, however Joe pressed on, landing to the body and building momentum as the rounds wore on.

Both men were hurt numerous times in the fight, with neither man ever seeming to gain a significant lead, that is; until the very last round.

In the 15th round, Frazier uncorked one of the single most famous punches in all of boxing history, a booming left hook to Ali’s jaw that sent him the canvas, literally turning the fight in Frazier’s favor with seconds to spare.

It was a momentous occasion in Frazier’s career, and one that was further sweetened by the judges awarding him the victory just a few short minutes afterwards.

Following the Ali fight, Frazier would go on to defend his title twice more, knocking out a pair of solid contenders.

In 1973 however, Joe Frazier would record his first loss as a professional, against gold medalist and undefeated power puncher, George Foreman.

Using a highly physical and upright style, Foreman walloped Frazier at distance with crushing blows, managing to put the traditionally iron-chinned Frazier to the canvas 6 times within 2 rounds.

Though it was one of the darker moments of his in-ring exploits, it was this fight that ultimately produced Howard Cosell’s famous cries of “Down goes Frazier!  Down goes Frazier!  Down Goes Frazier!”

Truly, it was one of the more decisive and one-sided occasions on which the heavyweight title changed hands, right up there with Tyson vs. Spinks.

No longer champion, Frazier immediately set to work rebuilding his momentum, winning a tough bout against Joe Bugner in London, and ultimately signing for a second bout with Muhammad Ali.

As a champion, Frazier had fought on a fairly limited basis, and following his catastrophic loss to George Foreman, many felt he was already showing clear signs of decline in his boxing ability at only 30 years of age.

Ali on the other hand, had remained surprisingly active since 1971, accumulating numerous victories, and losses, against notable competition such as a shopworn Bob Foster and Floyd Patterson, as well as a prime Ken Norton.

Despite both men being legitimate, hungry contenders, much like virtually every pay-per-view bout in the current age of boxing, Ali/Frazier II was viewed by boxing insiders as a pointless money play.

Despite this, during promotional events, Frazier remained deathly serious about the contest, evening going so far as become physical with Ali on Wide World of Sports.

While undeniably a less exciting bout when compared to the first and the third in the series of bouts these 2 legends produced, Ali/Frazier II was still a fight that both men should be proud to place on their resumes.

Ultimately, Ali boxed his way to a somewhat disputed decision victory, holding behind the head without penalty on an ungodly number of occasions, and generally doing more to nullify Frazier’s assault rather than directly combat it.

Discouraged but still burning for a second bout with Foreman, Smokin’ Joe Frazier pressed on, once again KO’ing past opponents, Jerry Quarry and Jimmy Ellis.

Then, as fate would have it, Frazier once again found himself in a position to step into the ring with Muhammad Ali, this time for the heavyweight championship.

Since defeating Frazier in 1974, Ali had gone on to achieve what is regarded as one of the finer accomplishments in his illustrious career, that of dethroning the seemingly invincible George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire via 8th round KO.

As was the case in their previous 2 bouts, Frazier and Ali remained at each other’s throats during the pre-fight promotional events.

While many, most of all Ali, viewed Frazier as being well on his way towards being “washed-up,” Frazier sought to prove them wrong as he engaged in what has been well documented as one of the most intense training camps of his career.

In 1975, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier stepped into the ring together for the third and final time in Quezon City of the Philippines.

Fought early in the morning due to international time-zone differences, and at a blistering temperature somewhere between 90 and 100 degrees, the “Thrilla in Manila” has since gone on to be regarded as one of the finest bouts in all of boxing history.

The contest got off to a furious start, and continued at a remarkably expedient clip throughout it’s entirety, particularly by heavyweight standards.

Both men fought their hearts out, laying into one another with reckless abandon.

From round to round, it truly seemed as if both fighters were dead set on leaving everything they left in the ring that day, career longevity be damned.

Ali overextended himself in the early rounds, underestimating Frazier’s tenacity, leaving Smokin’ Joe to take control and batter his body in the middle rounds.

Past the 10th round though, Joe began to tire, and Ali relied more on pure boxing, landing shots at range, and eventually closing Frazier’s left eye in the process.

During the 13th round, Frazier’s mouthpiece came out, causing him to be battered for nearly 2 minutes without a mouthpiece, resulting in numerous cuts opening inside his mouth.

Virtually blind, Frazier was eventually forced to retire on his stool at the conclusion of the 14th round by his trainer Eddie Futch, resulting in TKO victory for Ali.

While few could argue that Frazier was likely the worse for wear, it’s interesting to note that both Muhammad Ali and Angelo Dundee were seriously considering bowing out of the fight at this point as well.

In fact, Ali was quoted as having said that the “Thrilla in Manila” was the “closest he ever felt to dying.”

Despite this, Frazier remained furious at the result, maintaining that he was more than capable of continuing the fight.

Such was the case when it came to Joe Frazier.

Following his second loss to Ali, Frazier would go on to finally get his second shot at a now title-less George Foreman in 1976.

With a shaved head, Frazier stepped into the bout resolute and determined to avenge the most grave of his losses, though ultimately, it was not to be.

Fighting smarter, and more defensively, Frazier evaded more of Foreman’s shots than in their brief first contest, though a single thunderous left hook managed to put him down in the 5th round, with a second down and ultimately a referee stoppage following soon after.

Following this, the 4th and final defeat of his career; Joe Frazier retired, only to resurface some 5 years later in an unexpected comeback against fringe contender Floyd Cummings.

The bout was a rough and tumble affair, earning neither fighter any sort of praise for their efforts, and ultimately resulting in a disappointing draw, the first and only of Joe Frazier’s career.

Following this, Frazier would retire for good, becoming an entrepreneur and trainer among other things.

Regardless of the circumstances, active or retired, one could always count on Joe Frazier to knuckle down and keep on truckin’.

Throughout his career, Joe Frazier was regarded as a fairly slow starter, but one that would press on and eventually get the better of almost anyone you put in front of him.

Relatively small for a heavyweight, Joe Frazier was a swarming pressure fighter possessed of crushing punching power and some of the most ingenious and brilliantly executed head movement in the history of the sport.

Indeed, it was likely his physical deficiencies, in the form a short reach and height, which resulted in him adopting the bulldog-like infighting style he was famous for.

On that same note, it was likely this face-first style that resulted in his prime arriving and fading with the expedience that it did.

Fighting his entire career in what is perhaps the greatest era of heavyweight boxing, Frazier’s long but largely insignificant title reign likely could’ve been a historic reign had he not faced the legendary competition he did.

It’s easy to forget, but in 37 contests, Joe Frazier only lost to 2 men, namely Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

While both of those men undoubtedly achieved feats equal to, and in some cases, greater than Joe Frazier; it’s hard to deny that any fighter would be envious of suffering defeats exclusively to 2 of the best heavyweights of all time.

Not even Ali or Foreman themselves were fortunate to claim such an achievement, with both sustaining needless losses to middling competition over the course of their lengthy careers.

Indeed, in many ways it’s to Smokin’ Joe’s credit that he saw the writing on the wall and decided to retire when he did.

That being said, Joe Frazier was one of the best, in a time when to be the best, very well may have meant being the best of all time.

For that, among many other events and accolades not mentioned in this article, I will forever remember Philadelphia’s favorite son, Smokin’ Joe Frazier.


R.I.P Smokin’ Joe Frazier

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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!

 

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Top 5 Boxers I Wish We’d Seen More Of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#5. “Baby” Joe Mesi

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

He was relatively small for a heavyweight.

He was more than little pudgy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#4. Edwin Valero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#3. Salvador Sanchez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#2. Rocky Marciano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#1. Arturo Gatti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s just the way he was.

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

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

It just doesn’t happen.

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

We wanted to see him, win or lose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Because I’m a nice guy!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s bullshit and they know it.

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

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

That’s how much boxing misses Gatti.

That’s how much we all miss Gatti.

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

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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