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

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

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

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

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

Agbeko: "My boys!" ~ Direct quote.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Agbeko, SD 12.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still get chills just lookin' at it...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margarito is naturally the bigger man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margarito KO 8.

Check Back Tomorrow For The Next Round Of Predictions!

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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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Fingers Crossed For B-Hop

Back in December I predicted Bernard Hopkins would edge a decision win over Light Heavyweight champion, Jean Pascal.

I predicted Pascal would tire in the later rounds, and most of the fight would be ugly, boring, and devoid of drama.

In other words, I predicted the fight was going to be a textbook B-Hop fight.

While Pascal did in fact tire, as his stout and bulging body type would suggest is common for him; I was genuinely surprised by how exciting the fight turned out to be.

Hopkins was downed twice in the early rounds, (though only 1 was legit, and neither was all that damaging) and much like his spellbinding performance in the Pavlik fight, the old man’s work rate was uncharacteristically high.

In all, last December we got a decent fight between a proud new champion and a wily old veteran, that ended in a disappointing draw.

Draws aren’t always bad things, not to me at least; but on this particular occasion, I genuinely felt Hopkins won the fight.

Then again, I’m extremely biased when it comes to all things B-Hop.

That being said, in wake of the aforementioned controversial draw, the rematch between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal is going to be fought later tonight.

Hopkins is 46 years old, and is fighting for the right to call himself the oldest man to win a major world boxing title in history.

Jean Pascal is… Canadian, and is likely looking to legitimize his reputation as champion by simultaneously redeeming last fight’s draw, and putting Hopkins name in the “win” column of his record.

Despite whatever the purse for the fight is, both guys have legit reasons to give it their all; and something tells me we can expect a fight as good as, or better, than the one back in December.

That being, my prediction remains unchanged, and I’ll be watching this one with my fingers and toes crossed for B-Hop.

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Bernard Hopkins vs. Jean Pascal Prediction

Tonight, Bernard Hopkins will attempt to make history in being the oldest man ever to claim a major world title.

If successful, the 45 year, 11 month, and 3 day old B-Hop will claim The Ring’s Light Heavyweight title, (an unofficial title, but honestly the only one that counts) and surpass George Foreman’s Heavyweight achievement by 38 days.

All of this depends on a major “if” in the form of Hopkin’s opponent: Canadian dynamo, Jean Pascal.

The trouble with this fight, for me anyway; is the fact that in making a prediction for it, I have to find a happy medium between my feelings of what I honestly think will happen, and what I want to happen.

Unlike the Pacquiao and Margarito fight, wherein I was largely unbiased, and simply wanted to see a good fight, this time around I honestly want B-Hop to win.

I have nothing against Pascal, in fact I feel he’s a fairly exciting fighter that is a healthy element to an otherwise dead-in-the-water weight class; however as a long time fan of Hopkins, nothing would make me happier than to see Pascal lose his title to an “old man” that will likely retire without defending it, leaving the division even more fractured than before.

Despite my admittedly steep bias, here is my best attempt at a legitimate prediction:

Hopkins by split-decision.

Bernard Hopkins is a ring technician, through and through.

While he’s been an “old man” in the sport for almost a decade now, his sly and dirty tactics of butting and hitting and holding, combined with a wily and superb sense of ring generalship, have kept him well preserved.

That being said, ‘ole B-Hop’s past few fights have shown a few chinks in the armor, namely a lack of desire to win, and of course; the requisite loss of foot coordination and stamina that comes with age.

He’s still shown a capacity for putting punches together, and indeed manages to lash out with his trademark ducking right straight+headbutt+clinch combo from time to time.

Even so, he won both of those fights, and while that may not mean much given the lack of competition, when you’re 45 on the world stage every victory is a godsend.

Jean Pascal on the other hand, is a tremendously physical fighter on top of his game, with hunger in his heart after only just recently dethroning the overhyped Chad Dawson for the Light Heavyweight title.

An admitted imitator and admirer of Roy Jones, (a fight who in his prime defeated Hopkins) Pascal is an aggressive fighter that relies on his natural attributes more so than fundamental boxing skills, making him an unorthodox, if not somewhat wild fighter.

While he does in fact show shades of the Jones of old, he’s nowhere near as quick, accurate, or elusive as ‘ole Roy, making him essentially a powerful, but less economical and much easier to hit version of his idol.

With a minor history of injuries in his career, it should be noted that Pascal is also quite tenacious, and often willing to take a few to dish out some of his own.

Despite this, Pascal shows a tendency to overextend himself in some of his bouts, particularly the recent Dawson fight where he would dominate much of the contest, only to end up gassed for minutes at a time.

If you ask me, Dawson’s lack of conviction and willingness to assert his will in the ring were just as responsible for his loss that night as Pascal’s boxing skills.

So, if you put the 2 fighters together, you have an old man that’s still kind of slippery, versus an energetic young buck that tends to burn himself out.

In my book, that adds up to either an early round bludgeoning of B-Hop at the hands of Pascal ala Danny Green vs. Roy Jones, or a more boring and tactile fight where the stamina’s of both fighters even out as the fight progresses.

My money is on the latter happening.

Hopkins has done well to stay out of trouble and on his feet throughout his entire career, in fact I believe that’s a large reason as to why he’s still fighting.

B-Hop finds a way to protest the judging of all of his losses, and I honestly feel that an emphatic KO defeat is the only thing that will ever convince him he’s ever legitimately lost a bout in the sport of boxing.

That being said, when it comes to “boring and tactile,” Hopkins wrote the book on the matter, which leads me to believe that Pascal will fall into the trap of fighting B-Hop’s fight.

Every fighter that has fought Hopkins has said that they were going to come out and flatten him, and basically show him no respect, yet to date none have done so.

Joe Calzaghe out-quicked and, goddamnit; legitimately outboxed him, (don’t you ever tell anyone I said that!) however he did so at a fairly tentative pace, and never thoroughly got his game going.

Being as Calzaghe was one of the great fighters of our time, (again, don’t let anyone know I said this!) and a much quicker and elusive fighter than Pascal to boot, I don’t see the big Canadian being able to get the upper hand on B-Hop any better than he did.

Then again, if he does come rushing out the gate, and try to flatten Hopkins early on, there’s a good chance the “old man” won’t be able to weather the storm as well the B-Hop of old.

Make no mistake, this result is entirely possible, as the last great performance Hopkins had was against Kelly Pavlik, who was a far slower and more linear fighter.

All it takes is one bad angle and one nasty punch…

Like I said though, B-Hop’s way too manly to take a trip down Queer Street, and Pascal’s too much of a fighter and not enough of a boxer to send him there.

In either case, expect much clinching and seemingly inane circling on the part of Hopkins, resulting in a split decision for somebody that will be heavily disputed.

That being said, I don’t see this anywhere near an exciting fight, but as with every B-Hop fight since the glory days of Don King’s Middleweight tournament in the 2000’s, I’ll find a way to watch it, and enjoy it.

 

 

 

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Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Michael Katsidis Analysis

Word to the wise:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s right.

I went to school.

I know numbers n’shit…

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

Katsidis came out swinging in the early rounds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, everything except the goofy ending.

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

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

I like Kenny Bayless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My roommate used to say:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In any case, see yah’ tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

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The Azn Badger Has A Nickname

"WELL LET ME TELL YAH' SOMETHIN' MEAN GENE!..."

Last week, the Azn Badger was fortunate to discover that he has a nickname at work.

As a result of my repeated references to old-school WWF wrestlers, as well as my frequent impressions of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, I’ve henceforth been given the nickname of “Bonesaw” among certain social circles in the Amazon.com warehouse.

Who, or what is Bonesaw, you ask?

Well, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, (or don’t about movies half as much as I do) Bonesaw McGraw was the name of the wrestler that Randy Savage played in the first Spider-Man film.

"HEY FREAKSHOW! I GOT'CHA' FOR 3 MINUTES! 3 MINUTES OF, PLAYTIIIIIME!!!"

While he only had a few lines of dialogue, make no mistake; every last one of them was unbelievably epic, such that I’ve memorized, and am able to imitate each and every one of them with stunning proficiency.

In other words, it’s not uncommon for me to start the work day by shouting retarded shit like:

BONESAW IS REEEAADYYY!!!!”

Well, that went on a helluva’ lot longer than I was expecting…

Anyway, let it be known, the Azn Badger’s charms are something that appeals to a very select group of individuals

Mostly retards, nerds, gamers, and in very rare cases, people that are actually more socially inept than the Azn Badger himself.

 

Pictured: An example of the type of person that legitimately finds the Azn Badger's behavior "endearing." The Azn Badger rarely feels the same in regards to them...

Mostly just retards though…

Anyway, I figured I would share this little tidbit of information being as I am dead tired and have absolutely no inspiration to write anything of significance following yesterday’s mega-prediction post regarding the Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito fight.

Seriously, that took a lot out of me…

Anyway, until tomorrow!

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Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito Prediction

This is going to be what I like to call a “political” prediction.

That is to say, I’ll post my genuine, honest to God feelings as to what’s going to happen in the fight; but I’ll do so while mentioning some of the other potential outcomes.

In other words:

I’m hoping to make my prediction while covering my ass.

Anyway, here’s what I think:

Manny Pacquiao has demonstrated in his previous fights in the 140 lbs+ weight range, that his speed, tenacity, and chin have survived the climb in weight.

In Antonio Margarito, Pacquiao will be facing a naturally larger opponent, creating perhaps the largest size disparity he’ll have faced up to this point.

Despite the size issue, here are some of my thoughts Pacquiao as a fighter in general:

 

Manny Pacquiao, being awesome.

Manny’s greatest assets in my book, are his impeccable footwork; wherein he keeps his feet set and primed for leverage and power regardless of his positioning, his calculated exploitation of the obscure punching angles granted to him by his Southpaw stance, and his tendency to breach his opponent’s comfort zone for slightly longer stretches than most fighters are capable.

What I mean by that last statement, is that Pacquiao uses in-and-out tactics with his power punching; but with greater emphasis on the “in” than the “out.”

Most fighters dart in for a few shots, reset; and start from scratch.

Manny darts in for A SHIT TON of shots, changes angles, and comes in for some more; all while generally remaining (or at least feigning that he is) within his opponent’s perceivable punching range.

This results in many opponents chasing Manny in instances when he’s really not far enough away for such actions to be a viable option I.E. Ricky Hatton.

 

A little to the left Mr. Hatton. Jus' sayin'...

Lunging/charging fighter + Filipino with superior handspeed = Filipino with another KO notch on his belt.

In terms of punching angles, to my knowledge Manny’s best shots come straight down the pipe ala a Southpaw Kostya Tszyu, or swatting down from above with a right hook to the point of the chin.

In general, like any good middle range fighter, he aims to connect at the height of extension, though in his case he tends to aim for the chin with his hooks instead a broader target like the the temple or sinus.

 

Sorry to spam the Hatton pics, but you have no idea how happy I was to see his clinching ass flattened...

And you wonder why he’s been knockin’ fools out all these years?

Enough about Pacman, it’s time to show Antonio Margarito some respect:

 

Antonio Margarito, being awesome while pointing.

Antonio Margarito’s best assests are his granite chin, the tremendous volume of his punch output, and his capacity to continually build momentum throughout the fight.

The Tijuana Tornado has a chin, I don’t think anyone would argue that.

To date, Shane Mosley is the first and only fighter to knockout Antonio Margarito, in what was an incredibly one-sided affair.

Despite this, one has to take into consideration the fact that ‘ole Sugar Shane had to club the mighty Mexican across the jaw with overhand rights for nearly 8 rounds straight before his legs began to wobble.

 

9 rounds of THIS. Even Tony Zale would've gone down once or twice...

Make no mistake, water droplets can crack any rock given enough time, and in the case of Antonio Margarito, it took around 24 minutes of torrential downpour for it to finally happen.

The man was knocked out, yes; but in no way should that make anyone discount his ability to take punishment.

Moving on, Margarito is a very large Welterweight with average handspeed, but with a round-to-round punch output and well-varied repertoire of punches to make up for it.

He’s a classic example of the “Bionic Mexican (TM)”:

"I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle..."

A momentum and pressure based fighter with an incredible chin that loves to go to the body, but will gladly throw at whatever you show him in the meantime.

That being said, Margarito is an especially large example of the Bionic Mexican, particularly at his weight.

No doubt aware of this, Margarito stalks his opponents and keeps his gloves in their face all night until they mentally break down.

While said strategy often results in him eating a lot more shots than most trainers would like to see their fighters deal with, it also has the added benefit of causing fighters to fight on the move, forcing opponents with foowork issues to throw the majority of their punches from weak stances, thusly diminishing the power of their shots I.E. Miguel Cotto.

This was hard for me to watch. *Sniff* Cotto was my boy...

In terms of best punches, I have to say that I’ve always felt Antonio Margarito had a particularly nasty uppercut with both hands.

Given the length of his arms, I’d imagine it comes from below many fighters periphery, as well as reaches farther than most would expect; thusly resulting in a elusive and powerful punch that is hard to see coming.

"Hello, Golden Johnson." (2 minutes and 28 seconds later) "Goodbye, Golden Johnson."

Not only that, it should also be mentioned that said punch is usually backed up by about 20 other punches from several different angles.

Add it all up, and you have a whirlwind of solid shots from all angles, with one particularly nasty one hiding out somewhere just below.

Now then, let’s get to the prediction, shall we?:

Manny Pacquiao, UD or TKO round 6-8.

As with all of Manny Pacquiao’s fights since he started his journey North of 135 lbs, the only way I see him losing if the other guy gets to do “his thing.”

In the case of Ricky Hatton, I felt that if Ricky could only win if he could get his annoying ass “clinch and hit” game going.

He didn’t, and the result was one of the grandest blow-outs I can recall seeing on live TV.

 

Yay! No more clinching!

In the case of Miguel Cotto, I felt that if the stout Puerto Rican could stymie Pacman with his jab, and then play him into his left hook to the body, he might have a chance at taking the fight.

While Cotto managed to do both of these things, for about 10 seconds; he was ultimately unable to cope with the footwork and angles of Pacquiao, and was thusly hurt too early in the fight to build any sort of momentum.

 

... Not exactly the best way to win a fight there Mr. Cotto.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s all about the comfort zone with Pacquiao.

In short, he denies his opponents of ever acquiring one for themselves over the course of the fight.

Fighters like Juan Manuel Marquez, that have the benefit of a sturdy chin and the capacity and to adjust mid-fight, as well as the willingness to stand and trade in order to weather the storm, are exactly the types of fighters that have what it takes to handle Pacquiao.

The boxing equivalent to yelling, "Get the fuck out my face, son!"

Bear in mind I said “handle,” not “beat.”

In Margarito I see a fighter that has all of the traits I just mentioned, except for the ability to adjust.

While I would never go so far as to say that Antonio Margarito is a one-dimensional fighter, (he’s not) I don’t see him as having the sufficient level of science in his fighting to take a step back and say:

“This isn’t working.  Let’s start over next round.”

As such, I have a feeling that this fight could end up being another case of Pacquiao doing his thing, while the other never gets a chance to show what he’s got… While eating an ungodly amount of punches.

While that is my gut feeling and my official prediction for the Pacquiao\Margarito fight, there are a few alternate scenarios I feel are worth mentioning:

First off, Margarito’s chin, coupled with his punch output; could in fact put Pacquiao in his place.

Unlike Ricky Hatton, whose rigid head and neck posture caused his damage to pile up prematurely, Margarito, much like his fellow contemporary Bionic Mexican brother Librado Andrade, is amazingly skilled at rolling with the punches.

Uh... Good job?

While Pacquiao’s hardest shots come straight down the middle, thusly negating this maneuver; said technique could allow the Tijuana Tornado to power through some of Pacman’s more superficial punches, thereby allowing Margarito to land some shots of his own, thusly turning quick potshots into full-blown exchanges.

Make no mistake, if Margarito can exchange with Pacquiao as he’s attempting to step in or out of range, the momentum factor could make for some interesting later rounds.

Another aspect of the fight to take into consideration, is the fact that neither fighter is known to clinch very often, if at all; and yet both display a vulnerability to the technique.

In the case of Margarito, the clinch was instrumental in Shane Mosley’s victory over him, as it allowed him to smother his punches, as well as land heavy shots on the way in without the danger of follow-up shots to contend with.

While I have yet to witness anyone able to successfully clinch with Pacquiao with any sort of regularity, my gut tells me he too would have issues contending with it.

He’s a middle-range fighter with impeccable and commanding footwork, meaning if you take those factors away from him, he’s left with a crippled offense and the fatigue brought on by the constant grappling.

While I honestly don’t see it happening, if Margarito really wants to win, (and lose the respect of his fans in the process) it would be interesting seeing him stoop to the level of using the methods of his previous conqueror to take on Pacman.

Truth be told, while clinching is supposedly a form of cheating according to the official rules of the sport, for this fight it would make a lot of sense for Margarito to try.

He’s got the height and wingspan to take full advantage of it, and the disparity in size would most certainly wear on Pacquiao, regardless of how deep his stamina reserves may be.

Anyway, after a long day of work this is just about everything I can think of to say on the subject of Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito.

I probably won’t be seeing this one live, so make sure to check it out for me!

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