Saturday, December 10, 2005
Afterwards, there will be a purse bid held if Rahman and the WBC's chosen challenger for him, James Toney, have not reached a deal by that date.
Toney, you will recall, originally defeated John Ruiz on April 30 at Madison Square Garden by unanimous decision to capture the WBA heavyweight title, but then tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone after the fight. Shortly thereafter the New York State Athletic Commission suspended Toney for 90 days for this violation, fined him $10,000, and changed the outcome of the bout to a "no decision".
Subsequently the WBA, by its own rules, stripped Toney of the title, banned him from fighting for a WBA title for two years, and reinstated Ruiz as its champion.
Ruiz also is suing Toney. He claimed in a press release "that Toney's use of Nandrolone, one of the most powerful performance-enhancing substances available, dramatically enhanced Toney's ability to fight by artificially augmenting his strength, speed and power. As a direct result of Toney's doping, Ruiz lost a fight that he otherwise would not have lost and sustained physical injuries that he otherwise would not have sustained."
It is, of course, unknown to what degree if any Toney's drug cheating actually enhanced his performance. The steroids may have been primarily used to make him heal faster from his numerous injuries, and since boxing is a hurt business, the banned substance or substances may have illicitly aided him in this regard.
Still, it is going too far to state definitively that the only reason Toney defeated Ruiz in the ring on April 30 was because of the effects of his doping. Ruiz fought Toney's fight, a similar mistake he had made against another middleweight-turned-heavyweight, Roy Jones Jr. How much extra power the dope gave Toney, as well as the ability to withstand Ruiz's power shots and jabs, is unknown, but steroids also take away in endurance what they add in other departments, and it was Ruiz and not Toney who faded as the fight progressed.
In any case, Toney was caught as a drug cheat, and, whether or not the dope turned the tide for him, was rightly punished. If anything, the measures taken against Toney were basically useless.
On an international conference call, in response to a question I asked about the measures taken against Toney, Richard Pound, the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), commented, "You can imagine that with the World Anti-Doping Code in place where a serious infraction of that nature calls for a suspension of up to two years, that 90 days in that particular sport, given the frequency of competition, really amounts to nothing." He added, "And a $10,000 fine is pocket change to people in that kind of sport. So I do not personally regard that as a particularly meaningful sanction."
Also, Toney has persisted in refusing to make the full drug test report public, and also declined to have a hearing with the New York commission to state his case, as was his right, because this would have likely led to a public examination of that full report. Ruiz rightly contends, "We've challenged him over and over to make his test results public and he still hasn't because everybody will know he's a liar and a cheat."
Everybody may know that Toney is "a liar and a cheat," but it is Toney who is winning the aftermath of this disgraceful series of events.
While Toney is banned until mid-2007 at the earliest from fighting for any WBA title, that ban does not extend to and, more importantly, is not recognized by the other alphabets such as the WBC. So now Toney is in negotiations for a WBC title fight with Rahman, which will likely be a lucrative show put on U.S. pay-per-view.
And Ruiz? He is defending his WBA title next Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Max Schmeling Halle in Berlin, Germany, against seven-foot, undefeated Russian Nicolay Valuev. Many American fighters have previously gone to Deutschland only to get robbed in their fights there. If Ruiz cannot cleanly knock out his freakish but slow foe, pay close attention to how the judges score the fight.
Oh, you may have some difficulty knowing exactly what happens in Germany next Saturday. While Toney will likely reap the rewards of pay-per-view money, Ruiz's fight is not even being telecast on American TV.
Some American boxing writers who have probably never been in a fight in their lives and can't tell the difference between an uppercut and a cold cut continue to bash Ruiz. Next time you see one of these screeds, make sure to check out how often these same writers have bashed Toney for being a dope cheat.
Ex-Boxingranks.com Writers Still Active Online: Roberto Duran Interview on SI.com and Wright-Soliman Analysis on HBO.com
My favorite questions:
7. What is your favorite movie?
Duran: I like all movies. Maybe Casablanca. Anything with Humphrey Bogart. And Steve McQueen -- The Magnificent Seven. Also Mickey Rooney -- Rooney, not Rourke [laughs].
8. What about Cinderella Man or Million Dollar Baby?
Duran: [Shrugs] They were not so real.
Rich, by the way, was one of the many great writers I was privileged to edit in our brief but glorious run at Boxingranks.com where I served as editor-in-chief.
Speaking of old Boxingranks.com writers, two of them are writing away at HBO.com. Ron Borges has been there for some time, while Nat Gottlieb is a new addition. They especially have a lot to say about tonight's Winky Wright-Sam Soliman fight and the middleweight division.
With all these former Boxingranks.com wordsmiths floating around, you would think that more web sites would gobble up the rest of its former staff -- that is, if they want to pay for intelligent, well-written, hard-hitting, fiercely independent, and uniquely insightful analysis. I guess that disqualifies the bulk of them.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Also, politicians basically suck, also of all factions, ideologies, and lands. Summing up that view, probably unintentionally, is a headline on the Tennessean.com site about a recent vote by the Metropolitan Council, the legislative body of Nashville and Davidson County: Council unanimously approves weakened ethics bill .
There may be exceptions to this rule, as there are to almost all rules (except those of the IBF, WBC, and WBA, of course). And one exception to my rule of leaving the yammering about politics to those who are not good enough to write or talk about sports, culture, technology, media, and beer, is the campaign by humorist, mystery novelist, and country singer Kinky Friedman for governor of Texas.
On Thursday, Dec. 8, Kinky Friedman filed his official papers with the office of the Texas Secretary of State in Austin to run for governor in 2006 as an independent. So far his campaign has been played mainly for laughs, with slogans like, "I'm Jewish, I'll hire good people," and "How hard could it be?" and "Why the hell not?"
But Kinky has recently shown signs that he is in this race for keeps, and to win it if he can. He has brought in a team of advisors from the Jesse Ventura campaign and administration, and polls show him getting anywhere between 13 and 18 percent in a three-way race with a Republican and Democrat opponent, although that would still place him last.
A lot more information can be found on Kinky Friedman's web site .
You can even order a Kinky Friedman Talking Action Figure there for just $29.95.
Getting online coverage of Kinky's filing these papers again shows how completely inept the web sites of most newspapers are. Since the signing was in Austin, I went to the site of the Austin American-Statesman .
To access it, though, you have to fill out a registration form. The newspaper web sites have not even been able to make one common registration form yet, so if you are an inquisitive person -- as most people reading about Kinky Friedman online are -- you have to sign up separately for all these web sites.
Then you are asked a series of absurd questions for anyone outside their region, like how often you read their newspaper (there is no box for "I don't, this is a web site and not a local newspaper"), enter your zip code, and answer questions about whether you want to receive classifieds for the Austin area (which you could also likely find for free online).
This is one of these sites of these dying forms of media that will never get it, and will die a noisy, painful, and costly death.
Anyway, I signed up, even though I know I had signed up before to read this site. So after all that fuss, I finally found the article on Kinky on this site, and it was an Associated Press report which was reproduced all over the web! Now you really know these people will never get it.
Go to Google News and search for "Kinky Friedman" and you will have half a day's worth of reading about the Kinkster.
On one of those sites with this AP story, that of KWTX channel 10 in Waco, Texas, there is another headline near the Kinky story which explains the root cause of why he actually has a shot at winning. The story is called "Most Believe Political Corruption Widespread, Poll Finds" .
It begins, "According to a new Associated-Press-Ipsos poll, 88 percent of Americans believe political corruption is a deeply rooted problem." A longer version of this story is also widely available, including on the web site of Newsday .
Maybe if politics were as honest as boxing, we'd all be better off.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Sports Illustrated Names Patriots' Brady 2005 Sportsman of the Year; Who Should Be Boxer of the Year?
This may seem like an odd choice at this particular time because the Patriots, after winning the Super Bowl in February for the second straight and third of four years, are struggling this season. Their record is now just 7-5, although that is enough to stand atop a weak AFC East ahead of three teams with losing records: Miami (5-7), Buffalo (4-8), and the New York/New Jersey Jets (2-10).
SI editor Terry McDonell, however, explained that this choice of the Patriots' QB is "because Tom Brady is leading them with both his arm and his heart." This article, "Quality of Effort," was not, by the way, posted on their web site, again showing how the mainstream sports print media has little clue how to proceed now that the Internet has handed them a death sentence.
Since its inception in 1954, the winner of this award has always reflected the prejudices of the SI and Time Inc./AOL Time Warner/Time Warner suits. Remember, as explained in the invaluable book "The Franchise: A History of Sports Illustrated Magazine" by Michael MacCambridge, this was an outfit which used to count the number of African-American faces in its pages so they didn't exceed their informal quota. Thus, legendary Black athletes like Jim Brown, Henry Aaron, and Willie Mays never won this award, and there appears to be many more white sports figures winning each year than there are who are outstanding in their respective disciplines.
Also, regional prejudice abounds. In 2004, the Boston Red Sox, with their first World Series victory in 86 years, won. Yet in the 52 awards given out, no member of the most successful team franchise in pro sports history, the New York Yankees, has ever won -- not Mantle, Maris, Reggie, or the team as a whole.
My choice this year was actually named by SI writer Kostya Kennedy: Jose Canseco .
Canseco may have been the only honest current or former baseball player who testified before the US Congress about widespread steroid usage in a sport which, along with boxing, used to have a mythical presence in America. That alone should have earned him this honor. SI also could have used this to make up for giving the 1998 award to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, now seen as almost on the same level as Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior, and really worse since they are not in show biz but in what bills itself as a legitimate sport and the national pastime.
Three boxers have won this award: Ingemar Johansson in 1959 (hard for SI to pass up a white heavyweight champion), Muhammad Ali in 1974 (even SI couldn't ignore Ali), and Sugar Ray Leonard in 1981. Boxing's decline and marginalization is reflected in the absence of many boxers as being serious candidates for the subsequent 25 awards.
So Who Should Win Boxer of the Year?
All this brings up the question of who deserves to be Fighter of the Year for 2005. At least a boxer can win that one.
Antonio Tarver is a candidate, with unanimous decisions over 2004 Fighter of the Year Glen Johnson and Roy Jones, although not in spectacular fashion and after knocking out Jones with one punch in their previous fight. Jeff Lacy had three stoppages this year, although not against the highest level opponents: Scott Pemberton, Robin Reid, and Rubin Williams. Jermain Taylor's two wins over Bernard Hopkins were too close, controversial, and otherwise boring, at least as entertainment in their own right. Winky Wright beat a faded and immobile Felix Trinidad decisively and faces Sam Soliman this Saturday, a decent and awkward foe but not exactly of Hall of Fame caliber.
Zab Judah looked impressive in unifying the three top welterweight belts in February with a ninth-round TKO over Cory Spinks in St. Louis, Spinks's hometown. Judah also won by third-round TKO over a lesser opponent, Cosme Rivera, in May, and faces Carlos Baldomir at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 7 and then possibly Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the spring.
Another welterweight, WBO champ Antonio Margarito, is a long shot. He had two impressive TKO's on his ledger in 2005, over previously-unbeaten Kermit Cintron and once-beaten Sebastian Lujan.
Unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. had three TKO's to his credit this year, but over lesser-ranked Henry Bruseles in January, popular but overrated Arturo Gatti in June, and another fading foe, Sharmba Mitchell, now at welterweight in November.
Ricky Hatton is a serious candidate, dethroning 140-pound king Kostya Tszyu by 11th-round TKO when a battered Tszyu quit, and also scoring a ninth-round KO over Carlos Maussa two weeks ago to unify two of the alphabet titles.
The lighter weights rarely get the respect they deserve, but they are chock full of potential candidates this year.
Zahir Raheem stands out with his upset decision win over Erik Morales in September in what was really a one-sided fight. Raheem also had a sixth-round TKO win over little-known Jose Quintana in February.
Although not a favorite to win, Jesus Chavez cannot be overlooked. His 11th-round TKO victory on Sept. 17 over Leavander Johnson to capture Johnson's IBF lightweight belt led to his battered foe passing away from brain injuries five days after the fight. Chavez attended Johnson's funeral, met with members of his family, and has since fought for tougher health and safety measures for fighters. Chavez also won a split decision in May over Carlos "Famoso" Hernandez which many felt should have been a unanimous decision.
How about new super bantamweight (or is it junior featherweight?) king Israel Vazquez? His third-round TKO over Oscar Larios last Saturday to unify two of the 122-pound belts was impressive. He also got a unanimous decision over the decent Armando Guerrero in May.
Rafael Marquez had a good year in the ring, earning a fourth-round TKO over previously-unbeaten Silence Mabuza in November and getting a unanimous decision over veteran Ricardo Vargas in May. And Jorge Arce successfully moved up to flyweight, where WBC titlist Pongsaklek Wonjongkam avoided him, allowing Arce to get two TKO wins over Hussein Hussein and one over Angel Priolo this year. Wonjongkam, by the way, fought after his fight with Arce fell through but has somehow not rescheduled that bout.
But I am leaning, perhaps sentimentally, to a real darkhorse: WBC light flyweight champ Brian Viloria. The 2000 Olympian, 18-0 with 12 KOs as a pro, actually moved down in weight this year, from 112 to 108. He captured this title from champ Eric Ortiz with a first-round knockout on Sept. 10 in Los Angeles. (The HBO geniuses, by the way, passed on televising this fight, but did show the knockout since it was so quick.)
But my case for Viloria also rests in what he did in, and after, his previous fight. That was a sixth-round TKO on May 28 over club fighter Ruben Contreras, also in Los Angeles. Afterwards, Contreras had a seizure and had to be rushed to a hospital for brain surgery. The victorious Viloria tried to visit him in the hospital, although Contreras's condition did not allow for that. Contreras survived, but stayed in a coma and remained hospitalized.
Fortunately, Contreras later emerged from that coma and was well enough to attend Viloria's fight with Ortiz. Brian acknowledged him from the ring, and afterwards presented Contreras with a check.
Debate the Tom Brady award by Sports Illustrated if you will, but if the concepts of quality of effort and using both one's body and heart in competition are fair yardsticks for annual awards, then Brian Viloria deserves serious consideration as boxer of the year this year.
If we get any more info we will report it.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
For the world of boxing, that is considered candor.
When Arum speaks, it is sometimes hard to decipher whether he thinks it is yesterday or today. But even Arum can come up with some truthful remarks once in a while, especially when it comes to critiquing his rivals.
In a piece by Kevin Iole on Dec. 4 on the online edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Arum stated why he did not want to let executives at HBO choose opponents for undefeated junior welterweight Miguel Cotto and why he will have Top Rank do the matchmaking and then try to sell the fights to a TV network:
"If you take their money, then they have the right to make the fights, and they have morons making the fights," Arum said.
Now, what sport could even hope to provide better quotes than boxing?
The Perfect Gift: TEDDY BLACKBURN’S BOOK “IN THE OTHER CORNER” WILL ASSIST AILING BOXER GERALD McCLELLAN
Here is a little of both.
When champion boxer Gerald McClellan was left crippled after a 1995 fight with Nigel Benn, few in the business he helped enrich came to his aid. One of those few outside his family who came to his assistance was veteran photographer Teddy Blackburn. Now Teddy, with the financial backing of promoter Lou DiBella, has recently published a book entitled “In the Other Corner: A Tribute to Gerald McClellan”.
All of the proceeds from sales of this book will go to aid Gerald McClellan. Here is a press release about this book, and why and how YOU should order it:
For Immediate Release
The Perfect Gift for the boxing-lover in your life…GIVE THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING; GOOD GUY PHOTOGRAPHER TEDDY BLACKBURN’S BOOK “IN THE OTHER CORNER” WILL ASSIST AILING BOXER GERALD McCLELLAN
***Photo Book priced at $50 with all proceeds to aid former champion; Blackburn assisted by Lou DiBella, Steve Farhood in charitable effort***
New York, December 6—Looking for the perfect holiday gift for the champion in your life? Boxing Writers Association of America 2002 Good Guy of the Year Teddy Blackburn has published “In the Other Corner: A Tribute to Gerald McClellan” with the financial backing of promoter Lou DiBella. The ace boxing photographer is always ready for a good fight, whether it is a world championship to photograph or a world championship cause. The nifty volume, which was nine years in the making, is sure to knock out any true boxing fan. The book chronicles the most famous stories and photographs from the last decade in boxing. "In the Other Corner" includes a bevy of wonderful action and candid photographs - from McClellan knocking out Julian Jackson to win the middleweight title to Oscar De La Hoya shooting pool to James Toney enjoying a cigar in the bathtub to great champions like Leon Spinks and Roberto Duran posing for the camera that are sure to delight fight fans.
All proceeds from the sales of the book will benefit the Gerald McClellan Trust and will be donated directly to the injured fighter and his family. The book is priced at $50, and may be purchased via mail by sending a check or money order to Teddy Blackburn at 2985 Botanical Square Suite 6E, Bronx, N.Y. 10458. Checks should be payable to Fighters Need a Hand.
Contributions will also be accepted by sending a check made payable to the Gerald McClellan Trust Fund at the McClellan Trust Fund, c/o Fifth Third Bank, P.O. Box 120, Freeport, IL 61032.
Author and photographer Teddy Blackburn has been a well respected member of the Boxing Writers Association of America since 1990. In 2002, the association honored Teddy by presenting him with the Good Guy of the Year Award, but his benevolence and generosity didn’t stop there. Teddy continues to emphasize the importance of the boxing community’s responsibility to take care of its own. “Many fighters have suffered injustices and injuries both inside and outside of the ring,” stated Blackburn. “This book is a tribute to a true champion. The G-Man gave the fight fans exactly what they wanted for seven straight years. Now is our opportunity to give back to a fighter who gave us his all and suffered life altering injuries in the ring. If you’re looking to help anyone this holiday season, this is definitely a worthy cause.”
Blackburn first met McClellan at the world famous Kronk Gym in Blackburn's hometown of Detroit, Michigan. The two became fast friends forever, and part of the Motor City boxing lore with the likes of Thomas Hearns and Emanuel Steward.
The story behind the rise and fall of Gerald McClellan’s career is an emotional one. It began in August 1988 as McClellan would make his pro debut against Roy Hundley, who had boxed in over 10 professional fights. McClellan was victorious with a first round knock out within seconds of the bell. He went on to knock out his next 9 opponents, none of which would make it passed the second round. In his 11th and 12th professional fights, McClellan lost in controversial decisions to well-respected middleweight prospects Dennis Milton and Ralph Ward despite knocking Ward down in the second round.
At the end of his first year as a professional boxer, McClellan’s record was (10-2, 10 KO’s), but he had suffered two losses in a row and the people around him began questioning his true ability. With his back against the wall, McClellan continued training, fueled by his determination to be a champion. He went on to accomplish what no one thought possible. He reeled off 21 consecutive victories, shockingly 19 of which came by way of knock out. He became the WBO & WBC Middleweight champion of the world before suffering the biggest loss of his life on February 25, 1995.
Gerald McClellan decided it was time to take a step up in competition and weight class by challenging super middleweight champion Nigel Benn on his home turf in England. To the surprise of the hometown crowd, McClellan came out swinging, sending Benn sprawling through the ropes and out of the ring in just the first round. Benn wasn’t discouraged by the first round knockdown. He went on to dominate the fight keeping McClellan at bay with a precise jab. He threw two and three punch combinations that landed flush. The audience could begin to see that McClellan was being affected by the power punches Benn had been landing throughout the bout. Surprisingly, McClellan—tired and weary—came out in the eighth round and once again sent Benn to the canvas. The heroic efforts of McClellan would be short lived. In the 10th round he was knocked out and would soon learn his career was over.
After his battle with Nigel Benn, Gerald McClellan was left crippled. He had suffered too many power punches to the head, leaving him 100% blind, 80% deaf and confined to his home in Freeport, ILL under the supervision of his sisters. His struggle continues daily. With your help during this holiday season, some of his family’s problems and concerns can be alleviated.
Blackburn thanks DiBella, who funded the project, and Showtime commentator Steve Farhood, who provided editorial assistance for their help in making the idea a reality.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
HBO has been extremely vulnerable to competition for quite a while. Unfortunately, Showtime hasn't completely taken advantage of the situation. It's as though the elephant has been shot, but the hunter refuses to move in or doesn't have the resources necessary to procure the carcass. -- Greg Smith
Yes, Showtime has far fewer resources than HBO . But they also use them far more wisely than HBO. Look at the early schedule for 2006.
Showtime opens its 2006 season on January 7 with WBA, WBC, and IBF welterweight champ Zab Judah vs. Carlos Baldomir and, in what should be a far more interesting fight, WBA and WBC cruiserweight champ Jean Marc Mormeck vs. IBF cruiserweight champ O’Neil Bell.
HBO? Why, another pay$per$view on January 21 with two rematches of one-sided fights: Erik Morales vs. Manny Pacquiao and Martin Castillo vs. Alexander Munoz. The following week HBO has another fight which was not exactly the result of fans camping out in front of their Sixth Avenue offices: Arturo Gatti vs. Thomas Damgaard. And, of course, they will likely have the replay of Morales-Pacquiao.
January: Advantage Showtime.
Showtime opens the next month on February 4 with Jose Luis Castillo vs. Diego Corrales III. Nuff said.
On February 25, HBO pay$per$view has Fernando Vargas vs. Shane Mosley. The year for this fight is 2006, not 2000 or 2001, so this will be seen more as a battle of two guys whose best days are in the past.
February: Advantage Showtime.
And Showtime opens March with Joe Calzaghe vs. Jeff Lacy, another title unification fight of two undefeated champion, on March 4.
HBO's schedule is not officially out yet for March, but it will be hard for them to have a fight that matches this one in terms of both importance and skill. So we might have Showtime beating out HBO in providing quality telecasts for the entire first quarter of 2006.
Plus, "The L Word" returns on January 8, so Showtime earns a big Yee Haw!
Then, down went Blogger.
During the day I received some e-mails from friends and colleagues saying that they couldn't access the blog. I tried, and it did go back up, but only for a while.
In the evening EST, it only got worse. This apparently was part of a widespread outage at Blogger, a Google company, that even affected many of their own help pages, such as status.blogger.com. This outage also has been discussed on the Blogger Google group in a thread called "Blogger down?" as well as on the techie board digg.com .
The blog went back up several hours later, and hopefully will stay up for a nice long spell. But it is hard to assess the damage that was done to this particular blog, since Monday was supposed to be a sort of coming out party for it, and ended in this near-disaster.
This has been a bad couple of months for me because of repeated outages by various major communications companies. For eight days in October, the entire Verizon phone and Internet services were out in my neighborhood. This prompted calls to the New York Public Service Commission, and, of course, to Verizon billing when they did not give me the full refund due without another complaint.
I have always had trouble with Time Warner Cable and its incompetent predecessors, so switching to Roadrunner would be like trying to heal a wound by pouring drain cleaner into it. I mentioned their latest outage, however brief, in my report of the Taylor-Hopkins 2 fight Saturday night.
Since I have been mainly working online for the past decade, these outages caused by these major corporations have made doing my work that much more difficult. We rely more and more on these communications giants to do our jobs, obtain health care information, stay in touch with friends and family, get all sorts of other information, etc. Yet the level of service needed to make this online life comfortable just is not there. Nor would it be better just relying on the phone, since the recent Verizon outage was part of a series of major outages all over New York City that left many thousands of customers unhooked.
So I called from my landline to my long-time friend and editor, Todd Hester, on his cell to talk about this and some other things we needed to discuss. After a couple of minutes, the call was dropped.
If it wasn't snowing here, I probably would have already been in the barroom where I belonged anyway.
Monday, December 05, 2005
But I am still not exactly sure where all this is headed, and would welcome some comments or suggestions. Meanwhile, check out our media quote of the week, from Jeff Jarvis's blog Buzz Machine:
The biggest challenge is to train advertisers that online is more valuable than print because more people are there and they are more engaged in getting what they want, and so advertising there is more efficient and should be worth more.
And even though Jeff has written that "I hate sports," he still offers an enormous amount of insight about the new world of the media to those of us who love sports and work in the sports media. So check out his entire article and learn.
Dan Rafael of ESPN.com was ringside and scored it 116-112 for Taylor. He also added, "But there was no controversy like last time."
Maybe the controversy was not as intense as in their first fight, in large part because people may be sick of this whole affair by now, but it certainly is mistaken to say that there was "no controversy."
Phil Woolever on Thesweetscience.com , who also was at the fight, was one of the few writers to report what the crowd thought of this verdict. "An informal exit poll showed equal support for each side," he wrote.
Ron Borges of the Boston Globe , who polled the ringside writers last time, said of his take, "The Globe card scored the bout a draw."
Ben Cohen of Secondsout.com wrote, "Taylor was deemed the winner by the judges (115-113 on all score cards), but it appeared that Hopkins had in fact landed more punches and probably deserved at least a draw against the less experienced fighter."
Chris Robinson on Bragging Rights Corner wrote, "If I had to be hard pressed to pick a winner I would give a slight edge to Hopkins."
Among a circle of writers with whom I correspond, Frank Lotierzo and Carlo Rotella had it for Hopkins, while Rich O'Brien and Brian Moore had it for Taylor, all by close scores. And I, of course, had it for Hopkins.
Even among the HBO announcers, there was a divergence of opinion. While Harold Lederman so predictably had it for Taylor, Max Kellerman had it for Hopkins. More surprisingly, the cranky company man Larry Merchant had it a draw, five rounds apiece with two even.
There were, of course, many writers who had Taylor winning. George Willis of the New York Post had it 115-114 for Taylor. Norm Frauenheim of the Arizona Republic scored it for Taylor by an even wider margin, 116-112.
That, by the way, is a whole lot of members of the Boxing Writers Association of America on both sides of the fence, and even on the fence, too.
Because this fight was hardly a classic, because it was likely Hopkins's final title fight, because it was a close fight almost any way you look at it and nowhere near a robbery, and because people just want to move on, the verdict will not become too much of a topic for endless debate. But the fight will remain in the same category as the two Larry Holmes-Michael Spinks fights, and likewise be seen as a transitional step in the changing of the guard in a major weight division, however clumsily and however much to meet a corporate agenda that was accomplished.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Veteran boxing writer, historian, and former fighter Frank Lotierzo has sent us in two commentaries on Saturday's Taylor-Hopkins rematch, and a possible Taylor-Winky Wright fight. Here is his no-holds-barred assessment:
Just got home from watching the fight.
I scored it 7-5 Hopkins. Not winning the 11th round hurt him. I won money because of:
1 - I knew Hopkins didn't miscalculate the first time. His body dictated. His offense has eroded dramatically since his fight with Joppy. He tried to go out stronger and earlier this time. And it was almost exactly the same as last time. He's limited by his body due to his age. I felt then as I do now that Hopkins fighting the wrong style was a fallacy in the first fight. He fought the only fight he could, just like tonight. I knew he didn't get stupid overnight.
2 - I thought he couldn't put enough between him and Taylor to get the decision. IF he lost his title in a fight that he clearly hurt Taylor, how can he get it back in a fight without either being hurt?
I was lucky. Yesterday I got Taylor when he was a 7-5 dog, today he was 6-5 favorite. Again, I think Hopkins did a little more and earned the decision, but it's not like he got fucked. He's screwed because he's a month shy of 41. The fight was lousy and Hopkins should retire. IF he fights Jones, he won't win a round.
PS: Lampley sickens me.
Can't resist guys.
I love how Winky Wright has become the most feared and unbeatable fighter in boxing. The guy who until beating an overfed lightweight twice, and a Trinidad that Hopkins ruined, came up short in the big spot every time.
IF Wright fights Taylor next, who is the mandatory, and HBO makes the fight, I wouldn't bet against Taylor. Might not bet the fight, but IF forced, I'd bet Taylor.
1-Business and politics -- A Wright win sets the middleweight division back further than it is.
2-After 24 rounds with Hopkins, he'll be OK with Wright. Winky nullified a small guy and a dead guy, which Taylor is not. Wright can't hurt Taylor, and yes, to decision him, he has to. He has nothing to keep Taylor from being deterred from punching. Taylor doesn't get discouraged when he misses. Pat Burns is not incompetent. IF he has any clue, he'll have Taylor jabbing up and down and to the chest along with coming around to the body in order to open Wright up.
Again - IF HBO allows the fight to be made, save yourself the vig and call me. After escaping Hopkins twice (although I felt Hopkins pulled both fights out), they're not losing what they gained unless they know Taylor handles him or Duane Ford scores every round.
As expected, neither fighter hurt the other significantly. But once again according to the official CompuBox punchstats, Hopkins had outlanded Taylor in the rematch. This time Hopkins landed 130 of 371 total punches for a connect rate of 35%. Taylor landed 124 of 391 for 32%. In power punches, Hopkins had a wider edge, landing 101 of 240 for 42%, while Taylor landed just 60 of 182 for 33%. That meant that Taylor landed more jabs, but did less damage.
Hopkins controlled the pace of the fight for more rounds than did Taylor, and made Taylor swing wildly and inaccurately numerous times. Meanwhile, Hopkins mauled him on the inside, and forced Taylor to tie him up so much that referee Jay Nady actually warned Taylor, and not Hopkins, several times about holding.
I had Hopkins winning rounds 1, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12, with 2, 3, 4, 6, and 11 for Taylor. (I gave the third to Taylor even though my Time Warner Cable digital box went out for the first two minutes of this round. The consensus seemed to be for Taylor, and from what I saw of the last minute this was probably right.)
Of note is that not once did the Time Warner-HBO announcers mention the name of the alphabet organizations whose belts were at stake in this fight. They were just as silent in the co-feature between WBC 122-pound champ Oscar Larios and IBF champ Israel Vazquez, a brief but entertaining brawl won by third-round TKO by Vazquez because of a huge gash over Larios's left eye caused by punches. Vazquez unified these two titles, but our corporate mainstream media "reporters" left out the "what" of the 5 W's of journalism. This is reminiscent of those bought-and-paid-for embedded sheep repeating government propaganda about WMD, etc.
Also interestingly, not listed in the credits as one of HBO's corporate sponsors was The Ring, another bunch who hands out belts and who used to work with HBO. The HBO announcers also all trashed this fight as not entertaining. In other words, even if Hopkins really won, it didn't matter much, so let's shut up and move on.
Thus what Taylor really retained tonight was the HBO championship of the world. Now that the bill to establish a national boxing commission has been killed in the House, they will face no regulation for being the unregulated promoters that they really are. They sign fighters and do everything else an old-fashioned promoter does but sell tickets at the arena box office; instead they sell them at their Home Box Office.
This was not a hideous decision as it was a close fight and far from a blowout. There usually are far worse verdicts a few times each week. But it was bad enough to turn off at least some fans.
"I'm done with boxing for a while," stated Mo. While he did say he would again watch "a good fight in a neutral place," he made his preference clear: "I lean to ultimate fighting."
REPLAY NOTE: For those who missed it because they didn't want to spend 50 bucks (or who don't like to steal the signal), HBO will rebroadcast this fight next Saturday, Dec. 10, along with the live telecast of the Winky Wright-Sam Soliman middleweight fight, at 10:00 PM ET/ 7:00 PM PT and 9:00 PM CT. This two-fight telecast will also air on HBO2 on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 11:00 AM and 5:30 PM, and Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 11:45 PM. All those times are ET/PT.