Friday, February 5, 2016

Can Khan Win?

Al eyes are now on Khan

Watching last year's surprisingly fulfilling fight between Amir Khan and Chris Algieri, I was reminded yet again how skillful Amir Khan is in the ring. Yet I was also reminded of how vulnerable he is in the ring, as well. For Khan's blistering speed and smoothness were on full display in the bout. Yet Algieri landed. Hard. In the first round, no less. What will happen if and when Canelo lands on him?

That leads us to the two big questions leading up to this May's interesting yet ridiculous mega fight between Khan and Canelo.

  1. Can Khan avoid being hit effectively?
  2. If Khan does get hit with anything close to regularity, can he deal with it - and if so, how? 
Let's tackle the first question. The only way I see Khan avoiding getting hit is by employing the kind of movement we've yet to see from him. I'm talking Ray Leonard versus Marvin Hagler movement. It may not be satisfying to the fans, but it might - just might - carry the night for Khan. For while I've maintained over the years that Hagler did in fact beat Leonard, there's little doubt Ray looked better than expected that long ago 80s evening. Let's also keep in mind - and never forget - that Canelo has never proven himself to be on Hagler's level.

As to the second question regarding what Khan can do if he's hit with anything close to regularity. That's a tough one. I'm no conditioning expert, but a focus on leg conditioning may be in order. Tommy Hearn's worked on those weak legs of his in the leadup to his second go round with Leonard and it may have kept Ray from finishing him off in the final round of that controversial affair. 

Khan will have to couple that stamina, however, with an amazing game plan. For surviving a fight isn't the same as winning one. Let's keep in mind that team Canelo may well have taken this fight because it seems to winnable. Khan and his team may have to be full of surprises if they want to pull this one off and rattle the fight world to it's core.  

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Amir Khan Finally Gets His Big Chance Against Canelo

Is the sky the limit for Khan?

He's been waiting and waiting and now Amir Khan finally has his crack at the truly big time. To the shock of pretty much everyone, it was announced this morning that the British welterweight will now be fighting for the lineal middleweight title against none other than bonafide superstar Canelo Alvarez.

Although Khan may at first blush appear to be the perfect foil for the bigger Canelo, he can at least luxuriate in the fact that he has now - finally - found himself in a legitimate mega-bout. For while it's true Canelo's size will most likely give him a clear advantage in the ring against the Englishman no matter which way you slice it, Khan at least now has an opportunity to prove he's ready for prime time.

To be sure, Khan has been in top fights before - Zab Judah and Danny Garcia come immediately to mind - but he has never entered a stage as big as this one. The fact that the recently announced bout quickly became one of the top Twitter trends in the U.S. soon after its announcement should tell people all they need to know here.

Now will come the speculation, the questions of whether or not this is all a bit of sleight of hand to deflect criticism Canelo has received recently for not facing true middleweight monster Gennady Golovkin. Indeed, it's kind of infuriating that a man who is essentially a welterweight may well win the middleweight championship of the world in a bout where the middleweight limit of 160lbs isn't even in play.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Can Mike Alvarado Successfully Come Back?

Will Alvarado now look out to new horizons? 

Word is that Mile High Mike Alvarado is indeed returning to the ring in March in what Dan Rafael of ESPN claims will be an eight round bout. Although no opponent has been named yet, it's clear the man is not going to dive right into the deep end of the pool. For troubles with law enforcement, coupled with a drinking problem, will have kept him out of the ring for over a year by the time he makes his comeback.

Still, boxing has showed the world time and time again that no one can really ever be written off - even Alvarado, who looked terrible when he was dominated by arch foe Brandon Rios early in 2015. For if the 35 year old Denver native has indeed sobered up and regained his focus, he might possibly surprise some people. Can he reach the pinnacle of success once more? That remains to be seen. Still, it will be interesting to see how this story progresses.

Indeed, Alvarado at his best is a fascinating fighter. The way he out-chessed Rios in their second fight was impressive stuff. What's more, he's got extensive experience under his belt. Sometimes a loss to the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez is more valuable than a handful of easy wins. Gene Tunney, for instance, is said to have owed a lot regarding his growth as a fighter to the great Harry Greb, the only man to ever defeat him.

Whether Alvarado will harness his extensive experience and turn it into a positive remains to be seen. It's telling that Alvarado is starting on a smaller scale here than he's been used to. Again, the fight will only be eight rounds and will also appear on UniMas rather than on HBO. That, however, may prove to be a good thing. Sometimes the longer path is better than the shorter and seemingly easier one.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Face It - Sergey Kovalev is Scary

Kovalev ain't your average man on the street

I've been a fight fan for - gulp! - closing in on forty years now. And during that time I can think of only a handful of fighters who were truly frightening individuals. Tyson was one. Duran was arguably another. And Sergey Kovalev is clearly now in the mix.

These frightening few may be the best human beings in the world outside of the ring but inside they display a ruthlessness and  a lack of empathy which is enough to make you shift in your seat. These people just aren't like you and me, They're different. Most of us - let's face it - don't like to have to scream at people.

These guys enjoy dishing out physical punishment. Or at the very least are indifferent to having to inflict it. And while it's true dishing out punishment is part of a boxer's job, most fighters - even great ones - focus on the victorious nature of the act (doing what it takes to best a another who wants to do the same to you). That just ain't the case with the scary ones, though.

Again, these dudes either enjoy making people suffer or they simply don't care that they're doing it. Deontay Wilder, on the contrary, recently claimed that he says a prayer before each fight that neither he nor his opponent gets seriously hurt. That's a far, far cry from Roberto Duran, who was once asked if he felt bad for putting an opponent in the hospital. Duran simply quipped that next time he'd put the guy in the morgue.

Kovalev showcased the same kind of ruthlessness on Saturday. After beating Jean Pascal mercilessly for what seemed like an eternity, Kovalev was asked if he could have ended the fight sooner. Kovalev openly - and on live television - said of course he could have ended the bout earlier.

Mind you, this wasn't a wrestling match. This was a prolonged, slow, continuous physical beating, replete with perpetual blows to the head of a man whose face was turning to mush. Kovalev dug it. Then again, before the bout, Pascal had aggressively accused Kovalev of racism - a serious charge in any age, but a dangerous one in a thoughtless, witch hunting society such as ours, where mere accusations essentially equal guilt.

Still, there's limits to even the most well warranted of ass kickings. Many people may imagine punching the lights out of someone who seriously offends them. I doubt many imagine doing it for twenty-one straight minutes, though. That requires a certain type of personality trait.

For the record, I've spoken with both Tyson and Kovalev and have found them to be pretty cool guys. Then again, I've never stepped in the ring with either man. And that, quite frankly, is something I'm happy for.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Rise Of The Showcase Fighter

Sometimes you should have to face a real challenge to remain king of the hill

Adonis Stevenson is now a showcase fighter. So, it seems, is Danny Garcia...and Leo Santa Cruz...and most definitely Billy Joe Saunders. What's more Canelo Alvarez may be well on his way to becoming a showcase fighter in his own right.

What, you may well ask, is a showcase fighter? A showcase fighter (I should really copyright this term) is a professional boxer who consistently takes on nothing more than moderate challenges while only occasionally facing significant ones in the ring.

For instance, Stevenson has yet to meet a huge challenge on paper since defeating Chad Dawson years ago. Garcia has met exactly one significant challenge in the past few years. Same for Santa Cruz.

Now that Saunders has won a piece of the middleweight pie, he's actually been open about his unwillingness to meet a significant challenge in the near future. Give the man points for honesty - or not.

While the UFC has it's underpaid stars climb one mountain after another, name boxers are given the luxury of essentially going a softer route. It's understandable to argue it's their right to. After all, they're the ones getting hit in the head - but what about the opponents of these people?

Ask yourself this - are Stevenson's slim chance opponents getting extremely well paid to have their lights punched out by the guy? Sadly, we all know what the answer is, and it's not a comforting one.

The good news in all this is that showcase fighters are always one fight away from altering their reputations. All Stevenson, Garcia, Salka and Saunders need to do is face the fighters we all know will present them with huge challenges. We know who these opponent's names are and so do they.

The bad news, of course, is that a lot of money can be made showcase fighting. And so formidable opposition may continue to be avoided in the future.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

How Important Is It For A Boxer To Be Exciting?

There's been a lot of criticism out there against Floyd Mayweather which is perfectly legitimate. One thing I've always had a problem with, however, is the criticism that Floyd is/was boring in the ring. I have the same problem when the criticism is lobbed against Guillermo Rigondeaux - and even the legendary Willie Pep.

Look, I get it. Exciting fighters and exciting fights are more fun to watch. There's simply no two ways about it.  In fact, right now you're reading the words of a guy whose all time favorite fight is Hagler-Hearns. If that doesn't make me an action fan, I don't know what does.

Yet I can't deny the fact that boxing is a sport, first and foremost. And when it comes to sports, fighters must do what they have to in order to win. That's a Herculean task in and of itself. Therefore, I'm slow to point fingers and shake my head when a pro boxer does what works best over what's most exciting.  Would I prefer Pacquiao-Marquez IV to Pacquiao-Mayweather? Of course, Yet the bottom line remains that skills ultimately beat styles.

That's why it bothers me a bit to see all the excitement over the upcoming Frampton-Quigg bout. Sure, it will be fun, but these guys are cashing in by avoiding Rigo. Frankly, he seems better than both - yet I don't see either one jumping up and down to fight him. In fact, many would be happy if Rigo were simply ignored by more popular fighters for the rest of the career.

Fair enough - but the same people then look like hypocrites when they criticize fighters like Canelo for appearing gun shy with GGG.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Is It Really Garcia-Khan II?

Do I look impressed? 

So, the WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has said that Danny Garcia, it's new welterweight champ, must face Amir Khan next. Some are unquestionably excited about this. I'll hold my applause until I learn the contracts have been signed. Let's face it - team Garcia doesn't seem to be  into the rough challenge business and Khan, who is eager to avenge a brutal loss to Garcia, will prove to be a rough challenge indeed.

What's more, the WBC has proven itself to be so unreliable in my book that it's part of the reason why I basically don't care about titles anymore. In my opinion, titles worn out their usefulness and should be ignored. Sure, their presence helps certain fighters, but the damage the current title scene is inflicting on the sport as a whole makes it too much to support.

Still, if things start shaping up then maybe, just maybe, I'll recognize titles as genuine marks of achievement again. The WBA is presumably trying to streamline it's own ridiculous number of titles and this move by the WBC, if it's legitimate, is nothing but good news.

The only question now is whether or not the WBC will stick to its word or if this is simply just more nonsense. Sorry, but I'm not biting - at least not yet. It's not cynical on my part not to trust the WBC, it's simply the reality of recent history forming my opinion. Let's hope change is truly in the air this time.