Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why Postol Might Beat Matthysse

Note that I state in the title of this piece that Viktor Postol "might" beat Lucas Matthysse. There's no guarantee with this one, but people are right to give Postol a real chance here. Matthysse is one of my favorite fighters out there to watch simply because I love his hard hitting - and, yeah, skilled - style of fighting. Postol, however, is no joke. Danny Garcia moved on to greener pastures rather than face Postol for good reason.

For Postol is active in the ring. Really active. And strong. And, at times, dirty. He's also faster than Matthysse. All these things may ultimately help tip the scales in favor of Postol when he faces Matthysse on Saturday night at the StubHub Center. Truth be told, though, the match might come down to one thing and one thing only:


If Matthysse proves to be the stronger fighter, the fight may well become a one sided affair, for he'll possibly be able to go right through Postol's rapidfire straight punches. If, however, Postol is able to bull Matthysse around, he just might carry the night. For if Matthysse can't break Postol's style, he's cannon fodder for the man's very active fists.

In a sense, Postol reminds me of a slightly more talented and powerful Chris Algieri. He's tall, hyper-energetic and has endurance. What's more, he has an excellent, movement-oriented defense that can frustrate an opponent. He also has knockout power, something Matthysse may want to keep in mind.

This may well end up being quite the high end affair.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

PBC Does Right By Klitschko

I've been critical of Al Haymon's Premiere Boxing Champions series. Indeed, a lot of people have - and for good reason. Mismatches aren't good for the sport and that's all there is to it. Still, I feel compelled to give credit where it's due and Haymon and company deserve credit for their treatment of Wladimir Klitshcko on Saturday.

As I've griped about before, Deontay Wilder has been presented as THE heavyweight champion of the world on American television. How surprised I was, then, when the PBC credited Klitschko as being a true heavyweight force during the broadcast of Wilder's fight against Frenchman Johann Duhaupas. Indeed, it was made clear that Klitshcko is the man to beat if Wilder wants to accomplish his heavyweight dream.

For a series which we're told has no interest in anything outside of it's own insulated universe, the mention of another, larger aspect to boxing on a PBC broadcast is nothing if not refreshing. No, I'm not becoming a Haymon cheerleader, I'm just calling it like I see it - which, frankly, is what I'm supposed to do.

As for Wilder, he had his hands full with Duhaupas, who he managed to stop late. Wilder is talented, but needs some work. He's a powerful, likeable guy, though, and if he keeps growing as a fighter, his future is boundless.

Look, we fight fans and writers like to complain - not because we're complete pessimists, but because we generally have good reason to. On Saturday, however, PBC gave us reason to nod in approval, so it's time to do what's right. Now, if only Haymon could just give us more solid matchups.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Yeah, it's Wilder, But...

Let's get one thing out of the way here. It's good - real good - to have boxing back on prime time television. A great sport is always a good watch on network tv, after all. So, yes, I and others are undoubtedly happy that Deontay Wilder will be showing the world what he's made of on Saturday evening against Johann Duhaupas. What I and others are undoubtedly not so happy about, of course, is that it's Duhaupas Wilder is fighting.

Who is this European slugger from the shadows? The fact the question has to be asked actually speaks volumes. Look, there's nothing wrong with the heavyweight champion of the world taking a tuneup on national television. The problem with Wilder is that he's NOT the heavyweight champion of the world in the eyes of many fans (he holds the belt of a single entity - the WBC). What's more, fight fans have had it with Wilder engaging in tuneups.

Sorry, but people can only be grateful for getting free fights to a point. After a while people want good matches. We're all happy for the boxing, true, but we also have a right to complain here. The truth, however, may be that boxing's true fans are irrelevant to those who manage Wilder and the Premeire Boxing Champions' banner he fights under.

Judging by the commercials where Wilder is described as the heavyweight champion of  the world (as if there were only one), people might arguably assume that the PBC and Wilder's supporters (namely Al Haymon) are looking to snow those unfamiliar with boxing into believing what is at best a half truth. In other words, it's the folks who don't "know boxing" who are being targeted here.

This is good for business, of course. Everyone knows we long suffering fans of the sweet science have been beaten down for so long that we'll watch pretty much anything we're given. Why wouldn't any smart businessman focus on luring in the uninitiated instead? Wilder doesn't have to be great in the ring to get new viewers, he just has to be presented as great.

And perhaps be given guys to knock out.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Like Lennox Lewis Before Him, Canelo Alvarez Proves A Loss Is Just A Loss

Heavyweight great Lennox Lewis did something so shockingly classy, so thoroughly mature and sportsmanlike on Thursday that it was enough to make you wonder if anyone in boxing at the moment can hold a candle to the guy. For Lewis posted a picture of himself being defeated twenty-one years to the day by Oliver McCall. Never mind Mayweather and Broner, could anyone picture Pacquiao and Klitschko, two of boxing's reputed nice guys, doing such a thing?

"If I can highlight the wins, then I can highlight the loses, too," Lewis wrote.

Lewis, you see, understands something that many fighters and fans today don't seem to be able to grasp - the fact that a loss is just that, a loss. Lewis could have mentioned the fact that he went on to avenge the only two defeats of his entire career in rematches, but he chose not to. Why? Because it would have been pointless to do so. Again, the loss to McCall was something Lewis simply grew from before moving on.

The point here is that no one with a bit of knowledge about boxing would deny Lewis his place as an all time great. Just like no one with any sense of fairness would have denied Mayweather his place as an all time great had he somehow lost to Pacquiao last May. Losses can make a fighter, sure. But they rarely define that fighter. Even Roberto Duran, he of "no mas" fame, found away to fight through the shame of that second Leonard bout.

Canelo Alvarez is the rare current fighter who is proving that a check in the loss column doesn't define him. Sure, he was easily handled by Mayweather two years back, but after a relatively easy go with the past-his-prime Alfredo Angulo, the man set his sights on challenging himself once again. Erislandy Lara. James Kirkland. Miguel Cotto. People who say such opponents are or were soft touches for Canelo are clearly delusional or will simply never cut the guy a break.

Even if Cotto somehow beats Canelo in their November superfight, it would be foolish to write the Mexican star off. The guy's in this for the long haul. His talent and guts won't allow him to fall apart. Only superior competition and a deterioration of his skill set can do that. Again, a loss is just a loss. Always has been, Always will be, There's rare and tragic exceptions to that rule, of course, but they're just that -exceptions.

While it's true Mayweather and Marciano (two legitimate greats) retired undefeated, it's also true that far more legendary fighters got beat and were lauded for greatness, regardless. I'll close with a list of just a few of their names. There's simply not enough space to jot down them all. The list goes on and on.

James J Corbett, Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Willie Pep, Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, Jake LaMotta, Henry Armstrong, George Foreman, Ray Leonard, Larry Holmes, Thomas Hearns, Julio Caesar Chavez, Marvin Hagler, Pernell Whitaker, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, Bernard Hopkins, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Felix Trinidad, Wladimir Klitschko.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Boxing's Top Eleven Pound For Pound Fighters

Many sites offer you a top ten pound for pound list. I'd like to offer you a top eleven list - just cuz. It's something I do periodically, and now that Floyd has supposedly retired, I figure now is as good a time as any. You may disagree with some or all of the guys on this list. Cool. Feel free to disagree in the comment's section. Dissent is welcome here.

So, with no further ado, here they are - boxing's top eleven:

  1. Sergey Kovalev - Surprised? Here's the truth. Now that Floyd is gone, someone who has shown an enormous amount of skill and accomplishment needs to sit atop the heap. And we know Kovalev has shown both. You don't beat the masterful Bernard Hopkins and the gutsy Jean Pascal without being an A-level fighter. 
  2. Manny Pacquiao - I know, I know, he's a washed up has-been who would be better off just retiring at this point. Only he's hasn't proven to be any of those things. The way things look from here, he's still a ring wizard who had a bad night against Mayweather. Two bad nights may lead to a significant drop in the rankings. But one? To the likes of Mayweather, no less? Ain't happening.
  3.  Roman Gonzalez - I don't have him as highly ranked as some do at the moment, but - believe me - that's no knock on the guy. This is a small fighter who gives the smaller weights some well deserved attention. Unquestionably, the guy is one of the best out there. And yeah, he certainly may well find himself on top of this list before all is said and done.
  4. Wladimir Klitschko - The man has ruled over the heavyweight division forever. And he's taken on all comers. Oh, and he's proven that enormous guys can be true ring tacticians. Why wouldn't the man rank this high up?
  5. Guillermo Rigondeaux - No one wants to fight him and tons of people say he's boring. Why? Because he's so good. If that's not a sign of a great fighter, I truly don't know what is.
  6. Gennady Golovkin - Sheer destruction. More than just a hitting machine (and man, the guy can hit), Golovkin has made himself the terror of the middleweight division by having skill to match his power. Watch the way the man cuts off the ring before accusing him of being nothing more than a hard puncher. The guy is the complete package.
  7. Timothy Bradley - Worked his way to the top the hard way. One of the best tacticians in the business. If only he can keep himself from brawling so much.
  8. Terrence Crawford -Here's a guy who has shown a willingness to meet top opposition, and an ability to take down top opposition. Fighters like Danny Garcia and Adonis Stevenson should take note. A close a bet as one can find for the future of boxing. There's big things down the road for the man if things keep going well.
  9. Miguel Cotto - Like Manny, he's seen has being past his prime. Unlike Manny, he's being picked by many to lose his next bout. That may end up being the case, but for now the supremely skilled Puerto Rican icon fits comfortably on this list for his energy, heart and, yup victories.
  10. Erislandy Lara- Many don't like the guy. But that simply doesn't matter. He's good. Really good. So good I felt he beat the very good Canelo Alvarez. He may not be on the masterful level of a Mayweather, but man, this slickster is awfully impressive.
  11. Keith Thurman - If anyone on this list warrants a question mark, it's the guy they call One Time. Still, the man hasn't lost yet against solid competition and his ability in the ring has been undeniable. In fact, I rank him higher than most of his peers, like Kell Brook, Danny Garcia and many others. Shawn Porter may present a problem, but we'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why It’s Impossible To Decide Who's “TBE”

Spike TV used to run a show called "Deadliest Warrior” where famous warriors from various times and places would be pitted against each other in a hypothetical matchup. I have to be honest here – I really enjoyed that program. It was fun and relatively accurate in its assessments of its subjects (at least that’s true of the ones I was familiar with). One particular episode, however, still stands out for me above all others.

For on that particular broadcast, Joan of Arc did battle with William the Conqueror. I remember discussing the impending episode with a coworker beforehand. On the surface of things, the fight was William’s to lose. He was a big, aggressive guy, after all, one who took what he wanted and who somehow always seemed to find a way to win (just ask the hapless Harold Godwinson).

Yet, being familiar with both William and Joan’s stories (I did some extensive writing on both subjects, particularly on Joan), I knew full well the teenage girl from Lorraine was going to mop the medieval floor with William. She wasn’t going to be gifted a win because she was a woman, either. Nope.  Contemporary social niceties would have nothing to do with it.

Joan, I knew, would win for one simple reason – she had operated about a full half millennium AFTER William did. That meant she had employed artillery (for the record, Joan was a far more gifted tactician than she’s been given credit for). William had no idea what artillery was and, if he saw it, wouldn’t know what to do with it. Needless to say, Joan won the battle that episode. How could she not have? The whole thing was apples and oranges. 

Which, of course, leads me to a larger point. There is no way anyone can tell who the “The Best Ever” in the sport of boxing is or was. That’s obvious, of course, since some of the obvious runners up are long dead, but even if there was a time machine to transport people to and from various ages, the truth would still be impossible to discern. Modern fighters, simply put, employ gunpowder.

Pondering will get one nowhere.

I’m not referring exclusively to PEDs here, either (though they’re obviously and unfortunately a part of the contemporary boxing scene). Nutrition, training methods, scheduling, lessons from the past, all those things would give modern fighters an edge. Yet advanced technology could act as a double edged sword in this case, too.

Sugar Ray Robinson, for instance, had fought as much as Floyd currently has when he was still only in his twenties. Seriously. The guy ended up battling on two hundred occasions. That’s three digits. With a 2 in the first slot. How well, one may ask, would Mayweather hold up if he fought about seven times a year? What if he fought Manny Pacquiao around, say, five times – would he still have a perfect record? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Some perspective, however is in order.

Or not. Hype always rules supreme in boxing, after all. That’s not always a bad thing, as it can keep the sport alive. Yet it has its obvious limitations, as well. Still and all, it’s fun asking ourselves who the best really is or was. It’s generally harmless and keeps the sport alive, via discussion. With that in mind, though, it’s good to note that the answer will never be truly known. Pointless pursuits can indeed be fun, but they will always remain essentially pointless. Even if you’re William the Conqueror.

Or a guy who calls himself “Money.”  

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Why No One Wants To See The Mayweather-Berto Fight

Let's face it, tonight's Mayweather-Berto fight is getting zero buzz outside of the world of hardcore boxing fans - and even those of us who write about boxing are pretty much only writing about the fact that it's guaranteed to be a pop culture dud. When you think about, though, the general lack of interest is rather jarring.

Just a few short months ago, for instance, even those who knew nothing about boxing were coughing up cash and tuning in to see this same Floyd Mayweather best beloved human lawnmower Manny Pacquiao in a fight that probably earned enough to put a dent in the national debt.

Now, though, people have pretty much had it with all things Floyd. Why is that? While few approved of the man's lifestyle and no one approved of the guy's treatment of women, people were fascinated by the individual who calls himself "Money" nonetheless.

What changed? Why don't even fight fans seem to be into Mayweather's fight with Andre Berto this evening?

For starters, no one is giving Berto a snowballs' chance in the tropics of winning...and with good reason. While Berto is certainly a good fighter, he clearly doesn't look to be on Mayweather's level. Berto could pull it off tonight, of course, but the chances of that happening, frankly, are slim.

What's more, people feel the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was a dud. I'm a professional fight writer and even I did too at first. In hindsight, I feel the fight was better than we all initially thought it was, but no matter.

Whatever way you look at it, Mayweather-Pacquiao didn't live up to the ridiculous amount of hype that accompanied it - and people still feel burned.  That fight cost a lot to see, after all.

Why indeed? 
Which brings us to another point. The people behind Mayweather-Berto are expecting around seventy-five bucks from viewers who want to see the bout in HiDef. Why, one may wonder, would anyone pay for a fight that no one thinks the underdog can win?

Why indeed.

When all is said and done, skipping out on Mayweather-Berto may be a huge mistake, especially for true fans. No one who saw the Douglas-Tyson fight live, for instance, regrets it. Still, Mayweather and those in his inner circle can only blame themselves for this fizzled firework.

For a guy who is rightly known for his ring genius, Floyd miscalculated wildly this time.

If, that is, he still cares about public opinion at this point.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Adonis Stevenson Calls Out Kovalev

So Adonis Stevenson bested Tommy Karpency via a vicious third round stoppage on Friday night - a fact which surprised absolutely no one. What he did afterwards, however, is worth mentioning. For Stevenson, who I remember being vague years ago when asked about facing Sergey Kovalev, actually called the man out in front of PBC cameras. Was Stevenson serious? Did he honestly, truly want a fight with Kovalev...or was he just posing?

Honestly, I'm going to take Stevenson at his word. If he makes this fight with Kovalev, then all is forgiven with Superman as far as I'm concerned. Yeah, these past several opponents of Stevenson leave a bad taste in the mouth, but that taste will go away if Adonis and Sergey finally find a way to get it on. As for Stevenson's criminal past, he did the time and is reportedly remorseful for his truly heinous crimes.

Besides, as bad Stevenson's sins were, we have to remember there are no scarlet letters in western society anymore. What he did was evil - but people can change. And if Stevenson says he's a new man, it's only fair to take him at his word if the evidence backs up the claim.

Now, provided both Adonis and Sergey truly want to fight, exactly how difficult will it be for the bout to come together? Not very difficult at all, I think, if a certain Mr. Al Haymon decides it's a fight worth making. If GGG-Lemieux can be on pay per view, so can Kovalev-Stevenson. Slap on a sensible price tag, put it on up in Canada, New York or even Connecticut and watch the fan base salivate.

What people really want to know, however, is who is the better fighter of the two. Right now I have to give the edge to Kovalev, but Stevenson is no joke. He looked lean and mean on Friday night. His competition may not have been the best, but Stevenson still showed that incredible power. Let's just admit it's a fight we'd all love to see...and let's hope it actually happens this time around.