Azn Badger's Blog

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

Donaire vs. Montiel: Vengeance By Proxy

A funny thing happened way back in 2005.

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

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

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

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

Pictured: How we say "hello."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For about 2 minutes.

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

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

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

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

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