Friday, November 27, 2015

Why The Words "No Mas" Still Ring Loud

After winning the welterweight title from Roberto Duran during Thanksgiving week 1980, Sugar Ray Leonard, flush with victory, indicated that his win was not just for him, but for the United States, as well. Today the same PC hypocrites who would gush at Canelo Alvarez' Mexican nationalism would scoff in disgust at Leonard's words. Yup, a lot has changed in the thirty-five years since Ray won back his title.

One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the impact the words "no mas" left on the fight world, and the sports world at large, that evening in New Orleans. I remember being in fourth grade and listening to kids on the bus talk about Duran quitting the next day. Being too young to have seen the fight myself, I was disgusted by this news. How in the world could a champion - one as iconic as Duran, no less - quit?

It's a question people are still asking. And while it's true quitting in the ring isn't considered as disgraceful as it once was (and for good reason, I might add), Duran's unique form of quitting remains a legitimate turn off. For while the guy was clearly losing the fight, he still had a good chance of pulling out a win. It was, in reality, a very close bout.

What's more, Duran didn't seem to be hurt and he clearly hadn't taken a whole lot of damage when he abruptly walked away from the proceedings. He simply quit. And we're still not sure why exactly. Various excuses have been given, yet the boxing world has yet to be thoroughly convinced of any of them. Indeed, Duran - a world class bully - wasn't in Leonard's head as he had been in their first fight (which he had won). And that seemed to frustrate Duran.

Could that have been all there was to it in the end? Was it simply a case of a very talented fighter sticking up to a bully? Maybe, Maybe not. In the end, it's the supposed uttering of the words "no mas," however, which has stuck with boxing, and the popular culture in general.

For "no mas" no longer just means "no more" in Spanish. It means a person has stepped away from a challenge, quite possible when he or she didn't really have to.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tyson Fury - Master Of The Art Of Bullying

Say what you will about Tyson Fury, that he's not the most talented heavyweight in history or that most expect Wladimir Klitshcko to make at least relatively easy work of him on Saturday, but you can't take away from the fact that the guy is a world class bully. Klitschko stated as much himself in a recent episode of the British Show "The Gloves Are Off" and he was dead on.

For during the program, which is set up much like HBO's Max Kellerman hosted "Face Off" here in the states, Fury used pure bullying tactics on Klitschko - and they seemed to work. That's right, the king of the heavyweight division appeared uncomfortable with the fact that Fury was able to needle him endlessly in unexpected spots - like the fact that aging athlete's skills decline (Klitschko is nearing forty) or the fact that Kltischko is basically a one-two puncher.

Anyone who has ever dealt with a bully knows what it's like - it's all about mind games. You know a bully is going to come at you - yet even when you prepare for it, the bully hits you in an unexpected weak area. It's flustering and intimidating and must particularly be so when the bully is nearly seven feet tall and making it seem like you don't know how to do your job. Yup, that's what Tyson acted like during "The Gloves Are Off" episode in question - a stern critic who wasn't at all impressed with the reigning heavyweight champion of the world.

Fury clearly knows how to scold as only a bully can. And Klitschko appears impacted by that fact. Fury also knows how to act insane in order to rattle people. Dressing like Batman at a public gathering one minute, then seriously critiquing a man's perceived flaws the next is confusing stuff. And that's how Fury likes it. He even boasted during the program of his unpredictability. Simply put, he's a bully and proud of it.

The thing with bullies, however, is that they have a tendency to, well, eventually get their asses kicked. Every schoolyard is rife with such stories, and every school kid knows those stories tend to be true. So, will the bully get his ass kicked on Saturday in Germany - or has he made one of the most esteemed fighters on the planet his frightened victim?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Rodriguez Stops Aquino

Undefeated bantamweight Emmanuel Rodriguez looked sharp early against Eliecer Aquino in a rain drenched Miami on Wednesday night. The fight, which went down in front of a nearly empty Hialeah Park Race Track, started off fast paced and high on action, but Rodriguez looked to be the stronger man. Indeed, he dropped Aquino to the mat in the third.

While Aquino was able to get to his feet and sometimes land effectively, his punches didn't have the power to harm his foe. Make no mistake about it - Aquino was brave and game, but at the end of four it was clear Rodriguez was giving the guy a beat down. It appeared to be only a matter of time before the night would end early for Aquino.

After five it was worth noting that Aquino was still fighting bravely, but that was roughly all that was notable - save the fact that the fighter seemed to be tiring a bit. As the middle part of the fight began to wear on, however, Rodriguez appeared to tire a bit himself. He was still in charge, granted, but he was beginning to look less energetic than he had earlier on in the fight.

By the seventh, Aquino got his mouth piece knocked out for the third time in the bout, causing Aquino to lose a point. Not that it mattered. The referee was kind enough to Aquino to stop the thrashing in the seventh.

Rodriguez moved on to a record of 14-0.

Lara Crushes An Out-Of-His-League Zaveck

No one gave Jan Zaveck much of a chance of beating Erislandy Lara Wednesday night as the two men had a pre-Thanksgiving throwdown on EPSN primetime. Still, Lara completely mopped the figurative floor with his severely overmatched foe. While people who don't care for Lara - and they are legion - will complain the fight was a farce (they certainly could have found a better opponent), there is little doubt that Lara looked excellent.

For the man hit hard and crisp, maneuvered well and looked about as sharp as a 154 lb fighter could. Truth be told, Lara looked a lot different than his former countryman, Guillermo Rigondeaux has recently. For Lara was out for blood straight from the opening bell. Some will argue Lara picks and chooses who to be aggressive against, but so did Leonard - and Hearns, for that matter.

Word is out that Lara will now move up to middleweight. Since I think he already bested Canelo, it's pretty obvious I think he could be the biggest threat to that division this side of Gennady Golovkin. Will the two men ever meet, however? It's hard to say, since Lara is a Haymon man and Haymon doesn't seem overly comfortable letting his fighters leave his stable (GGG is not with Al).

Time, however, will tell. Now it's time for Lara to start facing top competition again...if, of course, top competition is willing to face him.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Why It Matters That "The Ring" Has Stripped Adonis Stevenson Of His Title

As you may know already, "The Ring" has stripped Adonis Stevenson of his light heavyweight title. Why? Because he hasn't fought a top five contender in over two years. Mr. Stevenson now finds himself ranked number two on "The Ring's" light heavyweight list...behind, you guessed it, Sergey Kovalev.

There are those who find the stripping of Stevenson to be no big deal, including the highly regarded and excellent ESPN fight journalist Dan Rafael. Yet, with all due respect to Rafael and others, "The Ring's" decision is a relevant one indeed. While the publication is neither a major sanctioning body nor an arbitrator of who is and isn't a "lineal" champion, it remains a much read and highly regarded outlet.

That means Stevenson has been publicly put down here in a massive and official way by an institution of note for his choice of opponents. That's not good for any fighter, much less one who has been under blistering criticism for the foes he's recently fought, as well as the foes he hasn't (Sergey Kovalev, Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins), as Stevenson has.

While Stevenson still holds the lineal and WBC world light heavyweight championships, he might well be on the road to becoming a nonentity in the bigger scheme of things. This in and of itself is startling. "The man who beat the man" in a major boxing division used to be, as a rule, held in high regard. Those days are over, however, and Stevenson now finds himself close to becoming a nominal monarch and nothing more.

The question is, does the well paid, Al Haymon backed Stevenson actually care?

What's The Deal With Danny Garcia?

Sorry, but I have to ask this:

What the hell is the deal with Danny Garcia?

In case you haven't heard, the onetime fan favorite is once again being set to face less than stellar competition. Had Garcia been scheduled to face Robert Guerrero, say, last year, there may not have been much room for criticism. Now that Guerrero has spent a full year looking less than stellar, however, it may be time to let the eye rolling commence (yet again).

Aside from Lamont Peterson - who, by the way, I felt handily won their fight - Garcia hasn't faced an opponent fans have found menacing since 2013 when he bested Lucas Matthysse - who, it seems, may have been a bit overhyped to begin with, And even still, Garcia hasn't proven himself to be all that impressive. Sure, he battered a washed up Paulie Malignaggi and an unknown Rod Salka, but a game Mauricio Herrera pretty much beat the guy fair and square (sadly, the judges - surprise, surprise - disagreed).

Look, Garcia's a good fighter; just how good we sadly don't know, but he's a good fighter. Thing is, we may all have to accept the fact that the guy's not into challenging himself and that's all there is to it. We're in an era where fighters don't really have to prove themselves and Garcia appears to fit into that era quite snugly, thank you very much.

That doesn't mean we have to like it, though. If you want your name in spotlights, then you'd better be willing to take the heat, and Garcia deserves all the heat he's going to take for this fight (except, of course, for the psychotic and cruel stuff you see online). Don't get me wrong, Garcia comes across like an all around nice guy. He's respectful, goes out of his way to work with those in need and avoids the nastiness that lots of people seem to love in this era of Ronda Rousey.

All of which makes me even more put off when the guy doesn't challenge himself. Garcia is a guy we all should be pulling for. Unfortunately, he's making it so that we can't.  

Monday, November 23, 2015

Is Miguel Cotto A Sore Loser?

Let me be clear on one thing - I thought Saturday's superfight between Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez was way, WAY closer than the judges did. I also thought the HBO ringside team was biased in favor in Canelo throughout the fight. Indeed, I felt the majority of analysts were misguided in their assessment of the whole affair as well.

Now, admittedly, I could be wrong here. I've been wrong one or two thousand times before, after all. Perhaps the shots Canelo was landing really were that much more thudding up close and in person. Perhaps most professionals were completely objective in their opinions on the bout. Perhaps I saw it all wrong (I thought it was quite close, with Canelo most likely edging Cotto out ). A second viewing should clear it all up for me.

In the meantime, there's the little matter of Miguel Cotto's post fight behavior to discuss. Miguel, in case you haven't seen, heard or read, took off after the decision was read and didn't even bother going to the post fight press conference. At first, I admittedly sympathized with the guy. I felt, after all, that he was up against boxing's NEXT BIG STAR and therefore wasn't going to get a fair break no matter what he did.

Now that I think about it, though, I'm not so sure. Boxing is boxing, after all, and sometimes the fight game can be unfair. Although the outrageously wide scorecards revealed that Cotto might not have been able to do anything to win aside from stop his opponent outright or engage in a one sided schooling, there's something to be said about being a good sport about the whole thing no matter what, about that letting those who should be shamed act shamefully rather than engaging in such behavior yourself.

I'm still cutting Cotto a bit of slack here, but I'm beginning to feel like he really should have shown up at the post fight press conference, and given Canelo his props for putting on a terrific show before firmly (yet politely) stating his case. Right now, those who didn't give the guy a fair shot can be remorse-free for not doing so. After all, a lack of sportsmanship generally doesn't strengthen anyone's argument. And unless Cotto had to go to a hospital after the fight, he may have been better served facing the press.

Easy for me to say, I know.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Why De La Hoya Isn't Eager To See Canelo Fight GGG

It's the fight everyone wants to see. No, I'm not talking Canelo-Mayweather II. Oh, there's no doubt a rematch between Floyd and Saul would prove interesting to a whole ton of people, but that one smacks of old news. The fight fans want, really want - almost universally - is Canelo-GGG. Now that Canelo is the middleweight champ, after all, it only stands to reason that he would wish to face the biggest threat out there: Mr. Gennady Golovkin. And indeed, Canelo seems rather eager for such a fight to occur, especially after his impressive performance this past weekend against Miguel Cotto on Saturday night in Vegas.

Canelo's promoter, however, doesn't seem so eager to make the match everyone wants, despite his declarations of being a fan friendly fight maker. No, Oscar De La Hoya doesn't seem to be chomping at the bit for Canelo-GGG, that's for sure. While admitting the fight is essentially a possibility to the media, De La Hoya added on Saturday that other options were in play for Canelo to take. In other words - not so fast, everyone. No need to rush here.

Well, why not? Canelo is the champ and GGG is clearly the biggest threat to his reign. What's the big deal? Well, the big deal is that Oscar is a businessman and Canelo is big business for his Golden Boy Promotions. And, as a businessman, Oscar sees what a dangerous opponent Golovkin is. The last thing a promoter wants, after all, is to see his top moneymaker get beat down in front of millions...and there's a good chance that may happen if Cotto meets GGG any time soon.

Let's be honest here, GGG may be a unique talent. That's something that isn't lost on De La Hoya, who wants to get as much oomph out of his red headed protege as possible. It'seasys to comprehend, then, why Oscar would want to delay a fight with GGG. That doesn't mean fans can't call "BS" on Oscar, though.

Boxing may be a business, but it's primarily a sport. And it should be treated like one.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Canelo Bests Cotto In High Octane Clash

Pure excitement ran through the Mandalay Bay in Vegas as Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez entered the ring to fight on Saturday night. People were clearly expecting big things. Now it was up to the combatants to make it happen.

The first round of the lineal middleweight title fight was a chess match and quite close - but the edge went to Cotto. Connecting early in the second, Cotto proceeded to remain on the balls of his feet while moving about. By the third, Canelo began to assert his punching power.

In the fourth, however, Cotto worked the body hard and started flashing punches right into Canelo's face. That was his round, but Canelo landed hard again in the fifth. It was interesting, that fifth round. Canelo landed harder, while Cotto showed better skill, at least at times.

The sixth was also close, but that too seemed to be Cotto's, albeit by very little. The HBO broadcast team, along with many on Twitter, had it for Canelo. And while Canelo certainly looked to be in a good place at the end of the seventh. the eight turned into an out and out brawl, with the edge going to Cotto.

The ninth was close enough to go either way, I thought, while the tenth clearly belonged to Canelo. The eleventh was anyone's, but the twelfth - which was an all out war - was Canelo's.

In the end, the judges gave it to Canelo by a wide, unfair margin. It's one of the rotten things about boxing - such unfair judging. Still, it was an entertaining affair that more than lived up to the hype. It wasn't the victory for Canelo that made it annoying - but the scoring.

At any rate, the Meixcan star looked excellent and deserves a lot of credit - especially for appear eager to fight GGG in the post fight interview.

Takashi Miura Stopped By Francisco Vargas In Thriller

Francisco Vargas got a hard hello from Taskashi Miura on the undercard of Cotto-Canelo on Saturday night in Vegas. For, before the fourth round was over, Vargas was on the mat and noticeably bleeding. The undefeated super featherweight got back to his feet, however, and resumed fighting in the fifth. Still, it was an exciting throwdown that involved two fighters giving it their all, which made for a refreshing change after the boring Guillermo Rigondeaux bout which preceded it.

Vargas proceeded to keep himself very much alive afterward -but Miura rallied hard at the end of the eight. Yet then in the ninth, Vargas came back viciously - sending Miura to the mat with such force that it looked like the fight was over.

And indeed it was. Miura was indeed a brave and formidable foe who got to his feet gamely...but he ended up simply taking too much punishment.The fight was stopped in the 9th.

Rigondeuax Dominates In Return

Guillermo Rigondeaux returned to the ring tonight after almost a year away, appearing on the undercard of the Canelo-Cotto superfight. Dominant as always, the Cuban slickster clearly hadn't missed a beat, dominating a severely overmatched Drian Francisco over the course of ten rounds, and earning himself an easy unanimous decision in the process.

The crowd booed, Twitter griped and the HBO broadcast team which covered the event let it disapproval be known. If you've ever seen a Rigo fight before, you know what this one was all about: defense, pot shots and little more. Some fans, okay, MOST fans probably hate it, but it's hard to deny Rigo is good at what he does.

He could be more exciting, of course. He could start putting his punches together and getting his opponents out of there more often than he does. Rigo won't do those things, however, because it's just not him. Remember, this is a guy who was weaned in Castro's Cuba. That meant he did as he was told. As. He. Was. Told.

Clearly, he was not told to be exciting. And that's a bit too bad. This man is good, after all. Very good indeed.