January 7, 2010
by Oliver Suarez… The cloud of steroids is now hanging over the Pound for Pound King. Now he is basically being mandated by the opposite side, some fans and boxing analysts to furnish proof that he is not a cheater. This is a fighter who has never tested positive for using any illegal substance or been involved closely with anybody that has been associated with the issue of steroids.
The issue now is not Pacquiao refusing to take the blood test but the terms and who will conduct the tests. Remember, the blood test is not part of the Nevada Athletic Commission testing, yet Pacquiao is being pressured to take a “non-mandatory” type testing. He’s already willing to go above and beyond what is required even though he’s passed all the tests necessary, including blood tests that are required whenever he needed to renew his boxing license in Nevada.
What is it really all about?
First it’s about Pacquiao’s skills constantly being undermined. His critics recognize him as an exciting fighter with limited skills and potential. So, many of them have already formed a preconceived idea of what he can or can’t accomplish. So, they can’t fathom the fact that he’s been able to achieve so much. Why do you think new excuses pop up when Pacquiao achieves something?
What’s next? He needs to shave his porn mustache because it bothers his opponent.
It’s also about the Mayweathers’ camp attempting to sway the public sentiments towards them.
Floyd Mayweather for the longest time has been trying to do his Ali impersonation in trying to be the biggest star in the sport; the problem is it’s not working. Meanwhile, Pacquiao just went on about his business and became arguably the biggest superstar in the sport by doing it the old fashioned way of fighting the best.
Now Mayweather can’t accept that a fighter who he sees as inferior has achieved what he always aspired for himself. As a result, he had to associate Pacquiao’s name to steroids to get the support of the American public.
But let’s be honest and stop tiptoeing the main reason why many accuse of Pacquiao of steroids. Many have mentioned the names of Mosley, Bonds, Vargas and Bonds in relation to Pacquiao. The difference is there was no real public outcry about them using steroids until evidence was found linking them to it. So far, no evidence whatsoever about the use of steroids has ever been associated to Pacquiao.
Tiger Wood’s doctor has just been arrested for allegedly using and importing performance-enhancing drugs. How come there’s not a public outcry for Woods to be tested or discussions about whether his accomplishments were tainted. Sure, the issue has been overshadowed by his extra-marital scandals, but that’s not the only reason.
The real reason is because of ignorance and how people put groups in certain categories. The athletes mentioned above were given the benefit of the doubt before possible evidence of steroids use came out, because most of us subconsciously thought that they were genetically capable of achieving what they had done.
Now, a Filipino in a sport historically dominated by Latinos, Americans and Europeans has become its most popular and accomplished star. Suddenly, doubts are cast about how Pacquiao has been able to attain such a level of success. I’ve even heard statements that if past boxing legends such as Hagler, Hearns, and Leonard couldn’t do what Pacquiao did, then there must be something. Well, I say why can’t a Filipino like Pacquiao do it? Pacquiao controls his own destiny and his greatness is not dependent on other’s accomplishments.
It’s also been proven in history that just as records are made to be broken, another athlete is bound to arise to set new standards in his/her respective sport. Who’s considered by most as the best basketball player of all time? It is Michael Jordan and not Chamberlain or Robertson.
Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, Filipinos along with other Asian or Pacific Islander groups come in all sizes and are involved in most if not all of the major sports.
There is Eugene Amano, a guard for the Tennessee Titans and Eugene Espineli pitches for the San Francisco Giants. Both of them are full-blooded Filipinos. As a group, Filipinos are as capable of reaching the same level of greatness as any other group. Would Pacquiao’s accomplishments be questioned as much if he was African American, Hispanic or of European descent?
Pacquiao has been in the sport for 15 years and it’s inevitable that his body would develop as he grew older. Have you seen pictures of Kobe or Jordan when they first came to the league? Do they look the same as in the latter parts of their careers?
Mayweather himself is a five divisional champion and fought all the way up to the junior middleweight division. How come no one is questioning him about steroids and Pacquiao is being singled out? Let’s remember Pacquiao started at the 106-pound division when he was 16 years old and Floyd Jr. was a 106-pound Golden Gloves champion at the same age. It’s all rooted from the same ignorance that led many before to believe that blacks didn’t have the intelligence to become quarterbacks.
Let us also remember the fact that Pacquiao grew up dirt poor, and came from a Third World country and thus was not receiving the proper nutrition. You think the ghetto here is bad; it is heaven compared to its counterpart in Third World countries such as Somalia and the Philippines. Now, Pacquiao’s got the resources to have the best possible training and nutrition at his disposal.
Now let’s analyze the reasons his detractors believe that Pacquiao is taking illegal substances. They’ve said that Pacquiao has gained about 20-pounds of muscles mass. Is Pacquiao now a super middleweight? If that’s the case then he might as well take Jermaine Taylor’s place in the Super Middleweight Tournament. The fact is that he has not even made the maximum weight in most of his fights above the lightweight division.
It’s just an exaggerated statement made by envious people who know that most fans will take it at face value without looking at the facts. It was the same case when Mayweather detractors said that the latter had a 20-pound advantage over Marquez during their fight. You can’t always believe what you hear.
If you are a hardcore boxing fan then you should know that Pacquiao had been draining himself to make the weight in the lower divisions and thus was forced to move up in weight. In addition, his weight has not dramatically risen as Floyd Sr. and others try to make you believe. His weight during fight time has been constantly around 144 to 148 since his junior lightweight days. The truth is that he has outgrown the lower weight divisions and is just forced to lose less weight.
Also Mayweather had released statements that it’s for the sake of sportsmanship and fairness. I guess showing up two pounds over the weight limit shows professionalism and fairness. We also have Schaefer stating that Pacquiao should have no problem undergoing the Olympic-style drug testing. This is from a guy who was previously quoted in an Associated Press article as saying that the Nevada Athletic Commission testing is sufficient enough when Zab Judah wanted Shane Mosley to take a blood test during negotiations for a possible fight.
Others have also criticized Pacquiao for using superstition as an excuse for refusing to take a blood test. Is this coming from real sports fans and analysts? If it is, they should know that superstitions have been part of sports since day one and many athletes follow certain rituals very seriously before or while playing their respective sports. Michael Jordan always wore his blue Carolina shorts before each game for good luck. Baseball pitcher Turk Wendell brushed his teeth and chewed licorice between innings.
The criticisms about Pacquiao’s fear of needles and how it might affect him are also ignorant. Did they mention that Pacquiao felt weakened when blood was drawn before the first Morales fight? Who is to say that it won’t affect him? I know someone that feels dizzy for a week when he takes a blood test. It might be all psychological but it affects your performance nonetheless. Each person’s body is different; some people can go to work with a hangover and some can’t.
I wonder what the reaction would have been if Michael Jordan was required by the opposing team to take a unnecessary blood test before Game 7 of an NBA championship?
We’ve also heard a few people bring up the fact that if Pacquiao can have tattoos, then he should not have a problem with taking a blood test. The difference is that Pacquiao can go home and rest after he has his tattoos done. He’s not waking up the next day to face one of the best boxers in history. Boxing is a violent sport and a fighter must be ready both mentally and physically.
This issue shouldn’t even be taken seriously and the timing of it is suspicious. It’s funny how Oscar said that Pacquiao didn’t hit hard, yet now feels that Pacquiao should succumb to a ‘non-mandatory ‘ drug testing.
It’s even more laughable when it’s coming from Mayweather Jr., whose credibility is questionable and has a history of hypocrisy. Mayweather needs to step up and sign the contract if he truly wants to fight Pacquiao before it’s too late. Pacquiao’s legacy is already secured as an all-time great and doesn’t need Mayweather to validate his greatness.
Check out Sportzhype Boxing where this article was originally posted.
January 4, 2010
by Oliver Suarez… It’s about time that other aspects of the potential bout between Pacquiao and Mayweather Jr. are discussed, so I asked some notable personalities in the boxing world their opinions on what matchup they would like to see on the undercard. The megabout is “supposedly” off for now, but considering the trend in negotiations, it won’t be shocking for it to be on again.
The Pacquiao vs. Mayweather Jr. bout is one of the most anticipated fights in recent years. It can be argued that a fight of this magnitude has not happened since the days of the four horsemen (Hagler, Duran, Hearns, and Leonard) when bouts between elite fighters were more common.
As a result, it is fitting that this fight should include excellent undercards. This is the perfect fight for boxing to go back to its roots; the days when undercards often included title fights and featured other great boxers.
Boxing has experienced a renaissance in the last two years and the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather Jr. bout has a chance to put boxing back where it used to be; in the front pages of the sport sections and main topics of discussion in sports shows.
A great fight between two of the best fighters in our generation combined with an excellent collection of undercards will do that.
Who do you think should be on the undercards?
Read what boxing insiders have to say below.
Omar Lazu Henry, Junior Middleweight prospect: “Omar Henry vs Shawn Porter lol.”
Michael Marley of Boxingconfidential.com : Sometimes we as fight fans demand too much. I don’t expect a lot except for a main event which is a fistic feast. When you get served filet mignon, lobster and caviar, I don’t think you should be picky about the appetizers.
Only a glutton would do that. Let’s be thankful for the boxing bounty that Floyd and Manny should be. It’s like the Super Bowl of boxing and, for me, that is enough.
Anything else might be a distraction. Let me put it another way. If you had a date with Miss Universe would you be eyeballing other women? I don’t think so.
Alan Alster, British Boxing Board of Control official: “How about USA vs UK contests. Amir Khan, David Haye, and others for the U.K…let’s have a boxing Ryder Cup.”
Granville Ampong of Maharlikan Times : I want to see Nonito Donaire, Jr. vs. either Israel Vasquez or Rafael Marquez for the WBC Super Bamtamweight title. I know Vasquez and Marquez are scheduled to fight on May 5 at the Staples Center.
But, this would be a good co-main event. Such would also boost the total package’s target marketing for Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, specifically for the Latino populace as with the Black American and Asian communities, notwithstanding the command these both fighters must cultivate in the mainstream America.
This should help as well Donaire’s image as he will be exposed to a much higher level, as a matter of “foreshadowing the place” of Pacquiao’s prominence especially if the latter retires from boxing.
Ronnie Nathanielz of Insidesports.ph : Rodel Mayol vs Giovanni Segura should be a good one because Brian Viloria has a fight in January and to pit him against Ivan Calderon in March may be too soon but that is also a fight I’d love to see.
If Eden Sonsona doesn’t fight on Top Rank’s ‘Pinoy Power III’ in February he’d be a great addition to the Pacquiao-Mayweather card because he is from GenSan and fights much like Manny when he was young. Sonsona’s 45 second KO of Monico Laurente last Saturday reminded me so much of Pacquiao vs Lelohonolo Ledwaba, style-wise.
Tim Harrison of Fighthype.com : I’d like to see Victor Ortiz test himself against a more game competitor. Lamont Peterson, coming off a UD loss to Timothy Bradley, fights under the Top Rank banner, and would be a good opponent for Ortiz. Ideally I’d like to see Ortiz rematch Marcos Maidana, but that likely won’t happen.
Rashad Holloway, Welterweight prospect: There aren’t any particular fights I’d like to see off hand. I just think its highly disrespectful to fans to have the biggest fight in decades be supported by prospects and contenders fighting guys way over there heads.
When boxing was at its best in the ’80s a fight of this magnitude would be supported by other title fights that had some of the best taking on each other or the Nos. 2 and 3 contenders duking it out for that No. 1 spot.
No disrespect to the Shane and Berto fight but that fight should’ve been a co main event on the card. It would never happen cuz of fighters’ egos but that how it used to be. Shane is great and Berto is good but there fight is nothing remotely close to the mega fight so why shouldn’t a fight like that be the main event and it would add more build up for the winners.
This is what boxing needs again and this is why UFC has been successful. We gotta give the fans what they want and deserve and put our egos to the side cuz it’s them putting the money in our pockets.
Brian Wilbur of Ringside Report : I would love to see Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Celestino Caballero. These are two exceptional fighters in the same weight class who are head and shoulders better than everyone else in their division.
Caballero is more seasoned and, to me, is a little better, but Juanma’s potential is off the charts. Let’s hope that Lopez grows a pair and agrees to fight Caballero, his only true challenge at 122 pounds.
Chris Strait, of CStrait : I miss the days of the megacards: Chavez, Norris, and Mcclellan on the same card. Multi-championship nights. Nowadays, we have only one title fight at a time, and we wonder why fighters only fight twice a year. There are only so many weekends in a year. I say this is their chance to bring boxing back to the mainstream.
Stack it full of great fights, with all promoters working together. the world will be watching Pacquiao vs. Mayweather. Let’s grab em! Vasquez vs. Marquez 4, Donaire vs. Darchinyan 2, Adamek vs. Cunningham 2, all on the undercard. that would be intelligent. That’s why it’ll never happen.
This is also featured in SportzHype Boxing. Check out my site for more boxing related articles.
December 20, 2009
December 17, 2009
by Oliver Suarez… Those who had the privilege to watch Roy Jones Jr. during his prime will tell you what a fighting specimen he was. In between Sugar Ray Leonard and Floyd Mayweather Jr. there was Roy Jones, holding the mantle as the most complete fighter during his prime.
He had the intimidation factor, speed, quickness, and tremendous power with both hands. His only weakness may have been his defense and fundamentals, and only because we never knew how good they were.
He was never easy to hit, but too often relied on his quickness, and his opponents’ hesitancy to pull the trigger in fear of being countered, as his main defensive strategies.
But as with many other athletes with superior physical gifts, they often find themselves relying on them, instead of honing their skills. As a result, when his speed and skills eroded, so did his success. While his rival Bernard Hopkins, who relies on guile and ring smart, continues to be considered one of the top pound-for-pound boxers today.
What Roy Jones Jr. failed to realize is that physical gifts often fade away, but ring smarts and guile stays forever.
Now that he’s lost a step or two, Roy Jones Jr. learned the hard way that bad habits, such as keeping his hands down and relying on quickness to avoid punches, no longer work, as he’s been the victim of brutal knockouts in recent years.
Sadly, he’s becoming more known for his loses than his past accomplishments. Some people have even put Hopkins higher than Jones in their list of the greatest boxers in history. I don’t, because Roy Jones accomplished more and was significantly the greater fighter when both were at their prime.
I compare Jones to a baseball player who might have only played 10 years, but was a member of the 3000 hits club, a multiple MVP award winner, and was considered the best player during his prime. While Hopkins is a hitter who also had 3000 hits, it took him 20 years to get there.
Yet, the main reason for Roy’s downfall may have been his greatest triumph as well. When Roy defeated John Ruiz for the WBA Heavyweight title on March 1, 2003, he became the first former Middleweight title holder in 106 years to become a heavyweight champion.
But the historical win did not come without a price, as he had to gain about 20 pounds of muscles to move up and fight John Ruiz. What further compounded the issue was his decision to lose the excess weight and come back to the light heavyweight division.
He lost the weight but never regained his incredible quickness and reflexes; thus began his journey from the best pound for pound boxer to irrelevancy.
This article is also featured in SportzHypeBoxing.Com
December 8, 2009
Still, Mayweather Jr. should be given full credit if he comes out victorious on March 13, 2010 since his opponent Manny Pacquiao, has proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the Welterweight Division.
This article is also featured in SportzHype Boxing.
December 6, 2009
There have been a number of great fights throughout the years, but few come close to the drama and storylines that this fight provides.
I can’t remember a fight of this magnitude, involving two fighters who are so different from each other in so many aspects. You have arguably the most arrogant and talkative fighter facing the most humble fighter in the sport.
Also, has there ever been a bout between the best defensive fighter and most feared offensive fighter who are both also considered as the best pound for pound fighter? The only matchup that might come close is the first bout between Ali and Frazier.
But was Joe Frazier considered the most feared and best pound for pound fighter at the time? George Foreman was probably feared more than Frazier as he was knocking guys out left and right during that time.
What makes the fight more fascinating is that this is not your typical fight between a pure boxer and a slugger. Both possess extraordinary athleticism and are complete fighters in their own way. It’s not a light hitting Pernell Whitaker against a slow Julio Cesar Chavez.
There is also a sense of irony when you analyze their career. Pacquiao keeps on surpassing all the expectations bestowed upon him and has arguably reached the greatness many expected from Mayweather. Mayweather’s career and greatness, on the other hand, seems to have reached a plateau because of the decisions he has made.
Just imagine the story lines preceding the fight. The 24/7 episodes might attract more viewers than most pay per view fights in recent years.
This matchup reminds me of a Rocky movie. You have an arrogant, flashy, and talented fighter going against a fighter who came from nowhere to achieve greatness that many did not expect from him. There’s no doubt that this fight will be talked about for years to come, even if it doesn’t live up to the hype.
Now let us analyze the popular opinions from both fighters’ loyal and boisterous fans.
Mayweather can only win via a decision.
Mayweather may not be a puncher of the caliber of Cotto or Mosley, but he does have some pop to go along with unbelievable hand speed. The main reason he hasn’t knocked out more people is because of his safety first style. If Pacquiao discounts Floyd’s power and becomes too reckless, then he might be a victim of his own medicine via a punch he didn’t see coming courtesy of Floyd’s lightning fast hands.
Mayweather can easily outbox Pacquiao all 12 rounds en route to a convincing decision victory.
It’s often stated that Morales’ win and Marquez’s competitive fights against Pacquiao provided the blueprint to defeat Pacquiao. But why has nobody beaten Pacquiao since the first Morales fight? Marquez and Cotto found success when they boxed from a distance and used their counter punching ability to control Pacquiao. Why couldn’t they sustain it for the whole fight?
It’s because Pacquiao’s improved his boxing skills and ring generalship tremendously since the first Morales fight. Pacquiao also forces his will on his opponents with his constant motion and fluid combinations from all angles.
Furthermore, he’s an unorthodox fighter whose offense is probably his best defense. He can punch on his toes and throw combinations while moving side to side or in and out. His fast twitch muscles in his legs also allow him to close the gap between him and his opponents quickly.
You think you’re at a safe distance, but then he hits you with his naturally loaded gloves and follows it up with a flurry. Mayweather may have faced fast fighters before, such as Judah, but none of them posses the quickness of Pacquiao.
All of this, combined with his incredible stamina, forces his opponents to become hesitant to pull the trigger and throw counter punches consistently. Even with his defensive skills and patented shoulder roll, Mayweather will definitely be forced to fight at some point.
Mayweather can cruise to a victory by fighting the same way as he did against Marquez.
If Mayweather thinks he can continue to throw only a few punches a round and potshot his way to a victory against Pacquiao, then he’s bound to be disappointed at the end as Pacquiao will win via a decision by outworking him. For Mayweather to defeat Pacquiao, he needs a multifaceted game plan, which might include being more aggressive and attacking Pacquiao at times to change the pace.
If he doesn’t, then Pacquiao can adjust and find his rhythm, which could spell disaster for Mayweather. He can’t rely on his defense alone, especially if he’s on the ropes, as Pacquiao will keep throwing punches and punish him unless he wants his shoulder roll to be called the separated shoulder roll at the end.
Pacquiao’s straight left will be as successful against Mayweather as it was against his past opponents.
Mayweather’s 5” advantage in reach, along with his defensive skills, will make it difficult for Pacquiao to land his patented straight left. De La Hoya enjoyed a reach advantage too, but he didn’t fight tall by not using his jabs enough and often fought looking like the hunchback of Notre Dame.
Mayweather has a great jab, and what cannot be overlooked is his ability to throw a punch while keeping his head back at a safe distance, which makes it hard for his opponents to counter him upstairs. Manny Pacquiao will need to use angles and throw more combinations to the body and then maybe follow it up with another flurry upstairs ala Aaron Pryor.
Prediction: I will hold my prediction until the contract for the fight is finalized and the specific date is set. Unbeknownst to some, Manny didn’t leave unscathed in his last fight. He suffered a few injuries such as a swollen hand and broken eardrum.
The tentative date of Mar. 13, 2010 for the fight may be too soon for Pacquiao’s injuries to fully heal. We also have to take into account that he is running for Congressman and will surely be busy campaigning.
Check out Oliver on his blog Sportz Hype Boxing
November 15, 2009
And now unfortunatley—even though the sky is still filled with hungry cage-fighting-buzzards—those who have awaited the death of the sport, may just have to wait a bit longer.
Yes, boxing is still undoubtedly surrounded by desert and unquestionably stunted by bad weeds; however, it has—thanks to a 130-pound Filipino superstar named Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and his pay-per-view-/seat-filling potential—recently experienced a much-needed healthy growth spurt.
This weekend the man who has single-handedly performed life-saving hand-to-hand resuscitation on the sport entered the squared circle once again.
This time however, “Pacman” had his hands full in a hard fought war, on route to a 12th rd. stoppage against the pride of Puerto Rico, Miguel Angel Cotto.
A great fight, yet it was anything but pretty, and did little to secure Pacquiao a place among the greats, he is now merely the second best in boxing.
Pacquaio, along with elite pugilist, “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather Jr., are in contention for the top prize in boxing, which surprisingly has little to do with title belts.
It has more to do with the bragging rights of professional boxing, which is the right to be called the No. 1 fighter pound-for-pound on the planet.
Last time out—against Manchester England’s Ricky Hatton—Pacquiao had his arm raised in victorious celebration while the legions of British fans looked on from their stadium-filled seats in utter disbelief.
“The Hitman,” who was considered more of a British god than a fighter, lay motionless on the canvas, knocked out cold in the second round by a lightning-fast, perfectly timed, brain-numbing left hook.
It was a punch that the tough former world and British champion didn’t see coming, and it erased any doubts regarding Pacquiao’s greatness in the minds of many.
Many, that is, except Mayweather.
At an undefeated and unbelievable 40-0, Mayweather truly believes he is the man, the greatest ever, and he very well could be.
Pretty Boy literally put on a boxing clinic last month against a fighter many including this writer felt was the true holder of the pound-for-pound title, Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez.
I had Marquez beating Pacquiao in both their fights, not just the second one.
So the win over Marquez in my eyes was a career-defining performance which demonstrated Mayweather’s supreme dominance in the sport, and it should be solid proof to us all that he is undoubtedly at the top of the food chain when regarding the world’s pound-for-pound boxers.
Pacquiao, however, has achieved his own level of greatness, mostly in his home country of the the Philippines, where little Pacman Pacquiao was transformed from a mere ambassador for the sport of boxing to a great ambassador for the entire country, and he is now nearing sainthood.
In the words of his promoter, Bob Arum, “he could, one day, become President.”
After all but ending the brilliant careers of boxing legends like Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Oscar De La Hoya, and now Hatton, Pacquiao has likely surpassed the legendary Pancho Villa as the greatest Filipino boxer ever to emerge from the great island nation.
A few months ago I wrote an article asking the question that I felt was in the minds of many fans at the time, which was: Will Pacquiao bring Mayweather out of retirement?
Whether it was actually Pacquiao who brought him back or not—who knows?—the fact remains, Mayweather has returned, and now he wants to reclaim what he feels is rightfully his: boxing’s No. 1 pound-for-pound throne.
Although public popularity has eluded him, it’s a well-known fact that Mayweather has enjoyed many career-defining wins against great names such as Zab Judah, De La Hoya, and Hatton; thus, the recent win over Marquez leaves no doubt in the mind of this writer that Mayweather is still the true King.
With the absence of greats like Joe Calzaghe and Oscar De La Hoya, some doors have been closed forever, but, thankfully, others have been re-opened.
With tonight’s win over a very game Cotto, Pacquiao will undoubtedly take the next step along the road toward a super fight with Mayweather, and I’m predicting that he will do just that.
If he does, boxing fans who were ecstatic before at the potential of a Pacquiao vs. Mayweather super fight will then be even more eager to witness the history-making boxing event which could potentially take place next spring.
Like those popular and well-hidden wild flowers—the ones that only bloom once a year, during May—I’m sure much more will be revealed in the early quarter of 2010.
I wish them both luck.
“When ‘Pac’ beat the ol’ legend Oscar De La Hoya, He was over the hill, Now it’s time for you to swallow the same damn pill, So get your tickets now people and let’s make it clear, That the Pacman ass woopin is almost here.”
—Poem by Floyd Mayweather Jr.
October 19, 2009
This is an emerging debacle that Robert Arum (more on him later) really is not enjoying at the moment. JML about a year ago was an albatross in the 122-pound division. No comers or takers anywhere in site. The future looked so bright, so fruitful, and so limitless. Then Arum shot himself in the foot and he has no one to blame but himself. For reasons that escape me Arum began promoting JML the way he promotes JCC jr. Headlining him on a Latin fury PPV cards against any mandatory that we can find and count the Puerto Rican money that comes in. He has taken a true primed pound for pound fighter and turned him into a house fighter. As the public began to grow restless with Arum’s in house machinations a hot tall young champion of Cuban descent emerged with two 122 pound alphabet titles and mouth that Clay could admire. CC in all his glory began to speak the boxing publics mind
1. “When he going to fight a real fighter?”
2. “How many Latin fury PPV can this dude headline before he steps up in class”
The list goes on and on and as CC accusations and rants grew the light began to shine more and more on the handpicked nature of JML campaign as a top-level fighter. As if this was not enough to upset the Top Rank apple tide, recently inked Gamboa was elevated to a full titleholder even though he had not defeated Chris John (more on that later). No matter my feelings on how his title came to be the bottom line speaks loudest. He is an official world titleholder without the interim tag. He is also undefeated and would be relatively cheap to compensate at this point in his career. Conventional wisdom would push arum to protect his assets for another couple of months and try and make the fight with CC therefore not assuming in house risk. If Gamboa and JML tangle it is written in stone that one of his undefeated fighters will lose that undefeated marketability. It’s all about the market place ladies so lets just plan on a nice crisp 122-pound unification in the first quarter of 2010
What do you make of Thomas Hauser’s assertions about HBO budget problems and that Boxing after dark will be discontinued at the current rate we are traveling?
I read the work. Brilliant piece of writing and its amazing that we don’t have to pay some type of fee to have access to the cutting edge reporting of Mr. Hauser. I consider Thomas a friend. He has always been supportive of me and my ambitions as a writer and he was even kind enough to let me interview him about a year ago. This latest effort was bone chilling to say the least. Russ Greenburg is guilty of a lot of things. Personal decisions, giving Golden boy nod after nod when the situation seems to dictate otherwise. I believe where HBO is running into trouble is quite simple: Match making and distribution of license fees. I believe that 7 million for DLH/Forbes is the dumbest f##king thing I have ever heard in my life. I believe paying just fewer than 3 million for a Johnson/Dawson re-match is suicidal when it comes to maintaining an expectation of good service from your registered viewers (me among them). I am of the school of thought that no real boxing fan wants to see Paula Mal/JD rematch. They are going to sell the entire promotion off of the integrity of Texas’s judges. Well Russ the Judges that gave the fight to JD are not actually going to be combatants, they wont even be in the building. So what are we really watching? Then if that is not enough Victor Ortiz who re defines the word soft is going to be the co headliner. Where HBO loses me if the fact that they are going to throw Sergio Martinez on the UNTELEVISED undercard. The only solid current world champion, who will easily be the best fighter on the card, is relegated to no TV. Now what do JD and Victor Ortiz have in common? You guessed it GOLDEN BOY. Look at the scenario that I just painted. Russ and his band of merry men are making tactical business follies that are dilapidating the HBO brand and hurting us as consumers. So I guess I agree with Thomas haha. Tell me this fans…instead of the awful proposed situation that seems to be upon us why not pay 2 million for Tua/Cristobal A? Or even a JMM/JD rematch. In those particular fights neither side can command more then half of the proposed license fee AND it would be an exciting fight with exciting fighters with a history of being exciting. Not the craptastic (had to use that word (= ) product that will be coming our way
Could you address the MMA situation and the repeated comments about boxing by Dana White?
Where do I begin (=………I will admit that MMA as a business entity is on the upswing and has a model in terms of its basic infrastructure that has it poised to succeed in this capitalistic society. I would also say that having the backing of one of the world’s billionaires (Lorenzo Fertitta) is not a bad annual subsidy to have. By the way Dana White is not the man with a billion bucks. In fact he is not the head of the UFC. Yes he is the acting president but Forbes reports that he only holds ten percent of the shares….that number is synomous with minority not majority which is the way he carries himself. False bravado. This issue is Multi layered much like an onion so I will try to move about the situation with delicacy. I hear all over the place that boxing is dead; MMA is taking over blah blah blah blah. In reality MMA is its own worst enemy. I liken them to china. China has a standing army of 200 million, vast wealth and space. They seem like the new America. With all that power respected economist say that internal problems such as population control and health will be their un doing, not any one war or bomb. I see the same happening with UFC. UFC does about 6 of the top ten PPV every year which is fantastic. However they pay there fighters such a minute percentage of the total take that the math suggested by all the figures in the equation could be compared to a sweat shop. The UFC does not care about their fighters; they don’t take fiscal responsibilities for mental injury such as concussions or pain killer addictions (which are rampant when you do Cock fights for a living), no 401 K, no percentage of the TV money. Forget boxing, forget trying to be us or outlast us, its not going to happen. When Jack Dempsey was attracting 120,00 people to his fights where was the UFC organization at that point in time? Oh that’s right it was not even a thought so lets dispense with all Boxing/UFC debate because there isn’t one. I believe that if this LLC UFC does not do more for the fistic civil rights of their stars then eventually they are going to be put out of business by a more liberal promoter or by a lawsuit. Either way the pay scale of nothing short of communist. The UFC peaked in 2006 in terms of buys and revenue but by the numbers has come back down to earth a little. Maybe buying 10 PPV’s a year is starting to wear on the consumer in light of this depression)not recession). The slide could be a number of things. I have a message for that minion (because in reality that’s what he is) Dana white…. Boxing may be struggling but I do remember VK/CA attracting more viewers for there title fight then the PPV did the weekend before. What makes that so impressive is that only 30 million people have access to HB0 while about 280 million people could have bought UFC whatever it was. Case closed. Get your weight up and halla at me in about 100 years with this stupid debate
What do you make of Bob Arum, and Roaches overall approach to the reemergence of FMJ?
It disappoints me to say the least. Since FMJ reaffirmed his status as a financial commodity, fistic artist, and a man with a chip on shoulder the reaction from top rank has been frantic. Every day I read something else about why they don’t need FMJ, why his contract demands are not worth there time, what options Manny has in 2010, and then today I read that the fight is unlikely in 2010?! I knew this was a possibility as I stated in the fistic top ten, however, this has nothing to do with money, or revenue split, or business acumen. This is fear, pure fear; fear of the beating, fear of buys that FMJ generated, and ovb a fear of a cash cow losing his ability to squeeze out tons of money at a time. I would be fearful too. SRL and his camp were so afraid of the motor city cobra that they simply tried to minimize the situation completely. They demeaned his belt, his record, his pedigree, everything. This is much the same thing that is going on here. They cannot take anything away from FMJ in the ring or in terms of his buy rate so they instead are going to focus on his documented character flaws and handsome demands for Revenue dowry. If you are unfamiliar with FMJ’s rights to the lion share of the loot simply refer to my last work located in my archive because I hate to be redundant given the limited time I have to communicate with you fans. Warning fans, everything you see and hear from the Manny camp concerning FMJ is fear and minimization tactics, stay true to common sense boxing fans and you will be just fine
Well fans it was my honor to come back to you once again and to those who questions I did not answer I promise that I will get to them next time. A while ago I saw that big fat Dan Of ESPN weekly prints a random thoughts piece. This discovery led to the death of my very own random thoughts. I will now attempt some random ramblings…been while (=
-Pauline Mal is a disgrace to boxing. He is a poor mans John Ruiz if you will except John actually lands power shots and is not a f&&king wuss. To make his unwatchable style even worse is his big mouth. He gets on the microphone before and after fights like he goes for broke, like he really goes out there to take it to someone, that’s the exact opposite of what he does and I can wait until the next time I see him fight
- Now I remember SSM being present for Paul Will/winky because Ronald is promoted by Golden Boy. Now why didn’t Shane BUM rush Paul? He did not have a fight at that time, yet, when he did have a fight then all of a sudden he wants to play self promoter…. very soft sequence of events displayed by Shane Mosley
- I am a little disappointed that HBO did not release an official statement on the Max/$ fiasco. When DLH fought sweet Pea in the 90’s Larry merchant made a very ill timed comment about mariachi music and the particular timing of it in that particular situation. When Oscar went nuts and demanded that Larry be fired HBO simply made Larry apologize on the air. I think it would go a long way towards smoothing over the situation with fans and critics if Max did the same
Hold up, so cotto is sending sparring partners home. Much smaller sparring partners with no Pop? And now all he is left with are two club fighters who are not in the same universe as Manny. Anyone laying money on Cotto is going to have to re examine this situation and I think it is very red flag that Cotto is firing dudes because they are whuppin his ass
When I first heard about the show 360 with out hesitation I made an inquiry about the show, its presentation the Premise etc. My friend told me that is was not any better then 24/7 per say But it was different so that made it cool. Boy was she right. 24/7 is the greatest show ever. EVER. What made 360 so cool though was how it depicted the Genesis of the event. By the time 24/7 picks up the contracts have been inked, the press tour is over, and the fighters are going through final prep for the contest. By contrast 360 shows the origin of the event, the arguing and negotiating and all the things that go into making the event. It does not show the fighters getting ready for the event, instead, it shows how the event came to be in the first place complete with dibella wise cracks and fat Gary Shaw
Let me get this straight. Chris John is 42-0, has been the WBA featherweight champion since 2003, and yet somehow, some way, the shameless, spineless jelly fish of an Organization the WBA found a way to elevate Gamboa to Full champion and then they give the title of “Super” champion to John. What is going on here? Is this a ploy for fees? is it a power move to force unification if that’s what you would call it? It has to be about the money because no sane boxing person can come up with a legit boxing reason for this bulls##t. I hate the WBA
September 30, 2009
by Christian… Guess who’s back boxing fans. As we move about the time changes and fantastic football Sundays I am back to keep everyone on track mentally as it pertains to the most amazing sport on earth. About a year ago I made some bold predictions. I made some bold statements. I was refuted. Attacked,Lamblasted. BAMBOZZLED haha ok I am getting carried away but you must smell my drift. It has been so awesome to watch so many people eat crow. I am reveling in it. Boxing is on a tear right now and my dream of a return to the mainstream is taking shape. Don’t look now but it is looking like the early eighties.When small man ruled the ring and the box office. Forget Cusp. This is a new golden age of pugilism. An era with truly great fighters and explosive yet sometimes urine laced storylines. As always fans. Please bring knowledge. Educate me. I am all for it but the people who don’t know boxing and get there news from ESPN will stand out in a negative way. And here we………. GO
5.”Sugar” Shane mosley WBA/Lineal Welterweight champion
I am sure that based on whats to follow that should say that I am a huge fan of shane mosley. This not just because I had the pleasure of interviewing him. Its more admiration for how he has preserved through what most would call an under appreciated campaign as a top level fighter. He is a true professional, A gentleman, Class act you get the point. However his behavior on September 19th was nothing but a fat deuce on his glittering resume. Who the F$&k is Shane Mosley? What gives him the right to make another mans shining moment his own. What gives him the right to go on national TV and attempt to sell a fight when he it is well known that Berto and Dibella (Berto actually used his promoter as oppose to meeting with HBO behind Lou’s back) accepted Golden Boy and HBO’S counter offer? The Berto/Mosley fight is just a matter of the US postal service so I can not BELIEVE this dudes behavior on the PPV. Berto is someone that shane can sneeze at a little bit. But to THAT degree? HBO as every boxing fan knows [email protected]@ked up BIG time when handling SSM and B-hops respective pugilistic schedules. They promised shane Dec 5th and the reneged on that offer due to the staph infection that was eating away at Britney Pavlik’s hand. So then they wanted to give SSM the day after Christmas which is Taboo going back 20 years at HBO but due to the mounting pressure of BHOP wanting a fight in first quarter (and getting it the other day) HBO was at a true impasse with shane. This impasse has put shane under the gun. Not only can he not secure a fight against any of the big box office attractions. But he is even having trouble getting a FIGHT on the network that cultivated his career. Mabye these factors contributed to his outlandish behavior in the ring . Mabye Shane should smack his home boy Bhop in the back of the head. Why? Because in large measure Bhop is to blame for this. Bhop only fights once a year right? So if the Old poop had upped his offer to TA in July Then this Impasse would not exist . Say what you want about BHOP now having a fight. His behavior is causing problems all over boxing most notably in front of a million people the 19th. Shane has a tough little fight in Berto on the 30th. The WBC and their frugal scumbag of leader Jose Salimin will no doubt strip Berto of his WBC title robbing us all of a real welterweight unification. I believe that Shane better get his behind to Big Bear and prepare for Berto. This is a potential water shed moment for the younger man. And the older man. Shane. Is not even focused on him. Could be a disaster….or it could be an infomercial for why SSM is a bad son of a bi55th. We will see but Shane….fight someone already!!
4. Manny “Pacman” Pacquaio Ring/IBO Jr welterweight Champion
Manny sliding down my rankings despite being inactive since the last time out will be sure to draw some ire. Manny sliding is not something this writer came to lightly. It has more to do with the performances of some of the men on this list. Manny has the world at his feet right now. If Forbes were ranking the most powerful men in boxing. Not the wealthiest. But men with the most influence on us the fans and the networks and so on. Manny would have to be number one based on the fact that FMJ has already stepped out and in reality the fate of the boxing world rest on Manny’s fist. Manny has the chance to become something we have not seen before. In sports that’s the most impressive feat an athlete can accomplish. To do something that no other man before you in 120 years has done. 7 titles is simply profound. Now yes there is some window dressing on that statement. He really has won 4 lineal titles and 3 alphabet titles. Either way though no one else has done it. And I don’t think anyone else will do it for awhile. FMJ has already won a title at 154 pounds and it is doubtful given his reach and height that he will take on 160 pounds SO FMJ wont be reaching that milestone and FMJ is the only person that comes to mind with the resume to hit that mark. Now for the misses. Manny. I love you dude. Like real man love. You are awesome for our sport. So if I happen to meet you remember that I am just stating facts. Manny as a lot will disagree is not even in the top three. FMJ brutal decimation of JMM put a lot of things in perspective. The first thing that is that it is Disney movie unrealistic to with a straight face say Manny is the top fighter in boxing. It is also safe to say that manny is headed for an L. That could be on the 14th. Or in the second Quarter of 2010 god willing. Manny does not have JMM toughness. He does not have that mental 5th gear that allows a fighter to with stand punishment. He has given up twice and been stopped once. It is hard to believe with how soft Manny is to the body that he could last 6 rounds with a FMJ or a Paul Will (should he move to welterweight which is a sure fire possibility if the money is right). I am so sick and tired of people getting ripped for who they fight. Can anyone out there call Manny’s last three fights truly DANGEROUS in retrospect? No way dude. If you are sitting there disagreeing with me then you have a personal bias and have disqualified yourself from this discussion. Manny has beyond a litmus test in Cotto. I can’t stop thinking of the Judah/Cotto fight. A speedy left handed fireball with some pop who gave Cotto early trouble but finally wilted in the face of straight body torture. One could argue that since Manny is moving so far up that Judah(who has pop because of his speed) has power that is comparable. I wonder how manny will react to that left hook to the body. However there are something’s working in favor of the HBO best fighter in the world
1. The catch weight
No matter what Cotto says he is going to drain himself more then usual for this fight while Manny is going to simply eat a little more and run a little less. The strain, the burden of hard work, is on Cotto
2. Glass Joe
Cotto has a grand reputation for having a weak chin. If you hit him on the button it is almost a forgone conclusion that he will do the chicken dance. Torres, Corley, these names are so pedestrian yet they had Cotto doing the moonwalk after punches that came from strange angles, now take next level speed and maintain the concept of punches from funny angles you have Manny
3. South paws r us
Manny seems to surprise his men with speed and fluidity. But I think what makes him so hard to fight is the tricky and slicky angles his punches ride in on. The men just can’t see or get out of the way of his punches. He also has begun using that right hook with reckless abandon so Cotto at least for a little while is going to have huge problems. The question is can he adjust?
Manny should win. I believe his power will shock Cotto who is a smurf mentally. I am hoping as anyone with sense that Manny blows Cotto away and puts some pressure on Robert Arum to at least give Al Haymon a phone call and break the very explosive ice. Here is Hoping
3.Vitali Klitschko WBC Heavyweight Champion
I have been super reluctant to rank the Big man because of his inactivity and the fact that ranking him and his brother on the same list seems redundant and I simply refuse to do it. When ranking the brothers the sensible thing to do is to rank the better brother. Just because Boring Wald is not in these particular projections any boxing fan with a TV knows that while bland he remains a formidable world class professional prize fighter. V. does not have as much pure boxing talent as brother. He does not have his youth, or looks, or hair, none of the attributes that beget glamour. Even with all of that V is the BETTER fighter. He handles adversity with an almost arrogant aggression. He takes a punch and often returns fire unless he truly gets caught( Corrie sanders). He fights so tall. He does not hunch in the least and uses every inch or centimeter of his seemingly infinite reach. He has the full offensive kitchen throwing so many kinds of punches and throwing them with brute force and dastardly accuracy. He is a built fighter. I would argue that physically he is the most intimidating man in the sport. Like Andre the Giant, I will smack everybody, Debo type of dude. He tried to fight Sasha B. Cohen because of things depicted in Borat at a restraunt in La. I have heard it was a chaotic scene as body Guards and staff panicked in the face of this monsterous man who also is a skilled prize fighter.Really skilled. Both hands flow depending on the needed angle. He dances around the ring shockingly elegant given his physical disposition. He laid waste to a very tough and determined man and there was never a moment in the fight, never a part of the ring, in which he was not comfortable and at ease. Super duper performance. One thing sets this man apart. There is no one in the world that can beat him. No one. Think about that. No boxer in the world could beat him because he is the biggest by far(valuev does not count in that particular comment because he is not a threat to anyone period), and very skilled, and very smart, and at the top of game. Wow what a f%%kin Monster. The question is what now. I believe he should retire. You know I wonder about his finances. I know he makes big money but 4 fights inside of a year at 38 years old? Three of those fights as a title holder. He is so very active when he has every right to chill. I bet in retirement he feel behind the monetary curve(by his families standards certainly not by ours (= ) a little bit. Since he is Ovb fighting for money I just hope that someone comes along that can challenge him because right now there is no answer this man.
2. Paul Williams WBO 154 pound interim Champion
It draws enough ire when I de rank an in active combatant once. But to do it twice is unheard of in my feeble typing career. However in light of the boxing earth quake that shook the boxing worlds last week we as sensible and knowledgeable boxing fans must adjust. Did you hear that Jermain Taylor?adjust!!! In adjusting I had to move Pretty Paul to Number 2 and I hope that is not misconstrued as some type of indictment on the southerner. He is so good. So nasty. So dominant. That Kelly is doing everything to delay the fight short of deporting himself from the country. I am happy however with Paul’s(and his teams) decision to wait out the Pavlik situation. It’s the no brainer. The slam dunk what have you. Very exciting fight. I think that Pavlik could really hurt Paul Willams. But the smart money, the big money, will point to Pavliks basic technical disposition compared to Paul’s Skill and swamping style of fighting. Paul could blow Pavlik away because Kelly does not have world class defense. He does not move his head, he does not move his feet, He does not improvise. He is not a robot but he is close to it. Pavlik, not being a man of letters when it comes to boxing skill set will run into massive trouble in the early rounds. Paul if he fights his fight stands little danger of NOT winning the middle weight title. And lets put on our be-real pants for a second. Kelly’s reign has not come close to what was expected. You pay 200 million to produce water world then it tanks at the box office. We invested so much into the potential this guy had to sweep the sport, and he fell flat. Paul could take a title, that is a glamour title, and inject some energy into that dead [email protected]@ divison. 160 pounds is a boxng grave yard,witness protection, an undisclosed location. It needs life, youth,talent, Paul is that and if everything stays true to form then the division will get just that. Kelly has a rematch clause if I am not mistaken so we will see the same fight twice and that’s ok. Its good for boxing. What will be better for boxing is a versatile, hot as fire champion that wants the big names and the big fights. Not the mandatory, feel good about your self again peach cans. Good luck to both men cant wait
1. FMJ Pound for pound the best fighter in the world
I told you so. I was attacked with out interruption on all my rankings for ranking fmj NUMBER 1. For pointing out that while he was not fighting on HBO he was still in the gym honing his craft. I was killed for telling everyone that there is no one with his skill set, defense, grace, and accuracy in the sport. I also said that Manny would not stand a chance if they were to fight. I also caught heat from fans that pointed to his lack of drawing power despite his extraordinary gifts. I heard for a year that it was Manny not FMJ who is the best fighter in the world. I sat back and watched. I watched the media go into a little bit of a frenzy in the lead up to the fight. I don’t mean the boxing scribes either. I mean CNN, telemundo, ESPN. The mainstream. The source we have to tap. It was happening. I watched the amazing physical demonstration of pure once in a lifetime boxing talent. My dad has been watching this sport since the 50’s and he told me that we were watching an all time great. A guy that comes along once a generation. Sometimes my dad says guys like this SKIP a generation. I ranked him in my all time top ten much to the dismay of many of you. Let me ask you a question. Who at 140 in the history of boxing would you bet a million dollars to beat Floyd? No one, no way, not unless you’re a billionare and can. afford to be stupid with your money. Radar like senses, I mean defensive telepathy. He is simply on the same wave length as the man in front of him non stop. I never get tired of watching it. The sharpness of his punches are like nothing in the sport. It is the cleanest right hand that I have ever seen. And yes FMJ does have a better right hand lead the RJJ. No doubt about it dude. According to my degenerent gambler buddy FMJ would open up as a 4 to 1 favorite in vegas over MP if the fight was inked tom. He has that information from someone who is deep in Vegas. DEEP. Those odds should give you an idea for how the people who really know the deal are viewing this recent progression. After a comprehensive display of his skill set the ovb question is whats next. Its not a question. For the first time in a long time FMJ’s next fight is something that will appeal to everyone while appeasing all the critics and negative thinking people out there. It’s a no brainer. Let is tap the micro. Bob Arum absolutely sh##t himself when the news was announced that Mayweather/Marquez had surpassed a million buys. He had preached for months that “FMJ can not sell, Manny is the attraction, he will have to take at least a 60/40” Well Robert what thinks you now bro? For top rank this unexpected development is a disaster. Manny is now on the wrong side of the table. He will be facing a fighter who is undefeated, a proven mega star, and a fighter that has sold just under 4 million buys in his last three fights. Someone tell me..in what position is Manny to ask for anything more then 45 percent? Manny has NEVER with out Oscar cracked million buys.. Before Oscar he didn’t even crack 500,000. You have got to be kidding me dude. Manny with the very same fighter JMM did not even bring in 75 percent of Sat’s viewership in a combined TWO fights. Its not even close. So F##k that. Don’t bullsh8t yourselves fans. No doubt about it dude. FMJ is the king. IN the ring, on the screen, and definitely at the settlement table. Stay tuned
I will first say that Max a million at some point, maybe when HBO anointed him the “future” that somehow a pulpit materialized around his feet and in appearing around his feet gave him the right, the credentials, and the longevity to hop into a ring with hall of famers and run his yap when fans are actually tuning in after the fight to do the exact opposite. I noticed over the last year he was getting more and more egotistical with his pre-fight demeanor, post fight comments, and outlandish notions over the course of a particular contest. I believe Russ Greenburg f$$ked up when he did not assign Larry merchant to the fight. I know Larry is old but he is a trooper. I mean how long is the flight from Vegas to LAX. Not a strech by any means. Its like a 3 day turnaround to the next fight AND I have read Larry has a home in the area(LA) so why risk giving an enormous stage(by the numbers (= ) to a man that is clearly personally invested in the situation. I am going to just go with what I saw. Max would ask FMJ a question. A very subdued FMJ would try and answer as humble as he knows how and before he could even complete his thought he would be interrupted. Instead of going through the fight with FMJ, asking about marquez, asking about the adjustments, the gameplan( FMJ claims he does not go in with a game plan that is def bullsh##t) None of that. He acted like he was on his couch at home and happened to have a victorious FMJ on the love seat. It was all about what Max wanted to know and what Max wanted to see. Then he bellows SSM’s name as loud as he possibly can. SSM who was doing everything but piggy backing max Jumps in. Max then made the interview about the fight he thinks should be taking place. He completely by passed us the fans and instead pursed his own agenda. When SSM realized that he was losing street credit he went off camera. Right then MAX could have taken control and given FMJ his moment and what not. Max did not care about that. He did not care about all the people that made the event possible that FMJ attempted to thank, he did not care about the biggest fight in the sport which finally came within seeing distance in wake of the fight, he did not care about HBO, the platform he represents, the amazing programming that stands behind that name. He did not care about any of those things. He wanted FMJ to know that he was in control of the MiC. Was that interview any better then Rose/grey? No it was not. Then when Jim tried to change the subject 5 min later ( Who knows what was going on in that ear piece) Max REVISITED the gosh darn interview. Jim clearly and smartly asked max to expand on what this fight means for boxing, Manny and what that fight will mean, no Instead with breaking us off with an informational monologue Max Instead chose to continue his personal mourning talk show. I cannot believe that HBO would give such an important position to an unprofessional want to be shock Jock that did Boxing a huge disservice by injecting his personal politics into a moment that belonged to FMJ and us the fans, what a jerk
Boxing fans I tried to keep it shorter this time. It was fun while it lasted. You guys were great. I hope my piece sparks some nice debate and I will have you guys know that I am going to add a comment that will feature the names of all the people that hopped on my message board in the last year and made comments that were in direct contravention with reality. If you take it personally that’s your choice but I need to illustrate how many people need a boxing knowledge tune up, best (=
September 14, 2009
Driving down Carlaw Avenue in a blue-collar part of Toronto’s downtown core, the building is easy to miss. Once you have made your way inside its rustic walls, you start to feel a bit like a lab rat in a maze. More mystifying, the concrete walls prevent any sound from emanating until you have almost reached your destination.
Approaching the double doors, you finally begin to hear the activity going on inside. Big thuds, contact undoubtedly being made. Wind whipping, followed by heavy breathing, cardiac at its peak.
“Minute to go!” yells a voice following the piercing sound of some sort of timing device. “Circle right, overhand right!” Another thud, more huffing and puffing, and then finally the same voice declares, “Break! Nice.”
The sounds would appear to be telling enough of the hard work and energy being put forth to the ear, but the eye has not met its match yet. It isn’t until you have crossed the threshold of the room you fully begin to understand what you are witnessing.
It appears to be nothing more than an ordinary gym. The setting is unimpressive. Worn down. Hollow. Equipped with the bare necessities and little more.
As is true with any gymnasium, there is a place of business. Instead of an office with glass windows and leather swivel chairs, there’s a cubicle, complete with an old wooden desk, an equally bland chair and just barely enough space to stretch your legs.
There is a changing area with showers, but it is not a locker room. It is another cubicle-walled area adjacent to the office, leaving its members little privacy.
The gym lays claim to a space out back, but one step onto the battered concrete and you’ll find it is even less endearing than the interior. It is not a back yard, nor is it a even a miniature courtyard. The best terminology to associate it with is back alley, perhaps fitting given the fighting that goes on indoors.
Crane your neck all the way upwards past more concrete to street level to locate the source of the loud rumbling overhead. Cars driving by and freight trains passing through, along with local streetcars and the usual hustle-and-bustle from pedestrians. At least some grass on the ground, even if it is scarce.
There is something that makes this place unique, and it undoubtedly has nothing to do with the unit itself. Start looking at the people that breathe life into this place. To your left, black hair down to their shoulders. Straight ahead, a soft yet shrill voice resonates. Something is indeed a little unusual about this sweaty home to boxers and trainers.
They are all women.
The ringleader, so to speak, is Savoy Howe. This is her baby. And it’s not a million-dollar baby, either. Called Newsgirls, it represents more than just women boxing. As you quickly learn from its patrons, it’s not the jabs and cross-hooks that matter so much as the camaraderie.
Once an afterthought, the club is now getting more recognition with the recent announcement that women’s boxing will become an Olympic sport in 2012.
It is no small feat, either. Women have not been allowed to box in the Olympics since a demonstration event at the St. Louis Games over 100 years ago. Considering the challenge of just opening a women-only gym, the historic event is not lost on Howe.
“Now that [achieving Olympic status] has been accomplished, we’ve definitely got a clear goal, and three years to pull it off,” she says, adding that she has presently has about 20 registered fighters with dreams of participating in the 2012 games, though some of those will miss the cutoff age.
Howe, 43, is a native of a small New Brunswick town, one she left because her lifestyle had her feeling vulnerable to the harsh realities of prejudice. She made the move to Canada’s biggest city to come out of the closet and live her life the way she felt it was meant to be lived.
“In 1991, I moved to Toronto from a small town and I basically left New Brunswick to come to the big city to come out, because it wasn’t safe where I was,” Howe recalls. “While I was here, I realized it’s a big scary world for a female all on your own. Especially as a young queer, always feeling like you’re going to get a brick in the back of the head.”
Needing to find a place to call home fast, Howe walked into the famous Toronto Newsboys boxing club. She loved it from the start, and when things on the business side of Newsboys went south back in 2006, Howe seized the opportunity to turn the club into something more than just a regular gym, and in November of that year Newsgirls moved into its current location.
Because of the variety of reasons women frequent the club, Howe’s role isn’t simply confined to that of boxing instructor.
Noting her primary post as the owner and head coach of Newsgirls, Howe believes that “sometimes you’re a bit of a social worker. A lot of gals need to talk to you sometimes and I make myself very available for that.”
She also alludes to the strong community pull that the club holds.
“If they need help with housing, or they’re looking for work, Newsgirls is such a huge network now that I can usually fire off one email and say, ‘Listen, we’ve got a gal, she needs to move out of her house on Saturday to get away from her abusive partner. There’s only a two-hour time slot. I need 10 women to show up and move her out like that. And within two hours I’ve got 10 women.”
The ages of the women who frequent the gym tend to vary. Younger members likely won’t be there to do anything other than to work out and socialize, but there are a large number of them that aspire to fight on a more serious level.
Brassa Purdy is a high-school senior who is relatively new to the club. For her, Newsgirls simply serves as a recreational activity.
“[I go] just to improve myself, get more fit, have a good time. Meet new people and stuff,” says Purdy, who is well aware of the positive influence that Howe has on those around her.
“She’s very enthusiastic,” Purdy says of Howe. “She always pushes you for the highest goal possible.”
Given the diversity of the club, those goals depend on the individual.
Like Purdy, Jen Plyler’s early introduction to Newsgirls was a more casual one. Once or twice a week at first. However, Plyler, 29, soon developed a goal to have at least one amateur fight. She has fought in nine, and has set a new goal of trying to fight provincially.
She and Howe have joined forces in the Shape Your Life program, a non-profit boxing venture for women and trans survivors of violence. It is affiliated with the Newsgirls and aims to help violence survivors box in a recreational setting to alleviate the pain they are dealing with and get them to express their anger in a more healthy way.
As for her own relationship with Howe, Plyler says the coach’s tireless work ethic and uncanny sense of humor are her two most notable traits.
“I actually spend more time with Savoy than anyone else in my life,” Plyler says with a laugh. “She’s so committed to what she does and wants to be here every day. There’s been times I’ve tried to talk her into taking a weekend off, but she just loves it here too much, can’t do it.”
Plyler also lauds Howe’s coaching style.
“I think what’s really unique about [it] over any other coach that I’ve seen is she’s never punitive. She doesn’t motivate her boxers by telling them they’re slow or lazy or you’re not going to make it if you don’t work out. She always frames everything in the positive, which really works for me, and I think works for a lot of the other boxers in that we seek that praise and like when she notices that we’ve been working hard.”
Rennelle Minott, more affectionately known around the ring as “Trigger,” says for her, it’s the sense of community Howe has built that sets the Newsgirls club apart.
“I think Savoy’s an awesome person,” Minott says. “The first thing I’d say about her is she’s really good at building community. If you come in here you’re going to see black, white, blue, green, straight, gay, bi, whatever.”
But alas, as Plyler (who, for the record, is nicknamed “Scrapper” by her peers at Newsgirls) notes, the real treat is Howe’s ability to bring laughter to those around her.
“Probably it’s her humor more than anything that really hooks people in because she’s just funny all the time regardless of what’s she describing or explaining to us. She always has the classes cracking up. She used to be a stand-up comedian before she was a boxing coach.”
One thing that Howe and the Newsgirls can’t run from, however, is the stereotyping that can come from being a female boxer – especially when you are, in fact, openly gay. There is often an association of lesbianism, and women’s boxing is no different. But the sport’s lack of recognition up until the IOC’s recent decision has been problematic and in the minds of some, more so than the labels that may be put on those who engage in it.
Howe has a blunt viewpoint of the tags that women in athletics get.
“I imagine in a lot of sports, if you’re not the kind of gal to dress up for the boys, the boys will label you a ‘dyke’ pretty quickly,” Howe says.
“In my opinion when a woman walks into a gym, the guys label you either ‘f—able’ or ‘not f—able’. If you’re not f—able chances are they’re thinking you’re a dyke. And if you are f—able, then God help you, they won’t leave you alone. Usually the ones that are not are the ones that have the short hair, that don’t dress to please the boys.”
Others feel that in the broader picture, the sport of boxing is affected by other issues. Sue “Tiger Lilly” Fox, who fought professionally from 1976 to 1979, believes that the while stereotyping is prominent, it isn’t necessarily at the forefront of boxing’s problems.
“There is stereotyping in women’s boxing,” she concedes. “[But] what impacts the sport are much greater problems like poor matchmaking and bogus title bouts.”
Consider this little tidbit of information in the age of technology. Go on Google and type in “the best women’s boxers” as a search, and the search engine responds with, “Did you mean: the best men’s boxers?”
To be fair, the names on the men’s side are almost endless. Ali, Joe Frazier, Jack Dempsey – those of past generations can recall watching those fighters on tiny black-and-white television screens on Friday nights. The women of the sport have no such notoriety.
Most would agree that Laila Ali, daughter of the great Muhammad Ali, is the only name that comes to mind when you mention women’s boxing. Ali is undefeated in 24 career fights, with 21 of those coming by knockout. Impressive numbers, to say the least. But ask the more casual sports fan and they’ll tell you they are more aware of her husband’s achievements than hers. (Ali, for the record, is married to former NFL wide receiver Curtis Conway).
Nevertheless, she is a household name, even if it is simply because of her surname. Ali has had a sponsorship deal with Subway, been featured on the front of Kellogg’s cereal boxes, and participated in the ever-popular “Dancing With the Stars” program on ABC.
Count Howe among those that believe a big-name female boxer’s marketability would be virtually non-existent were she gay.
“Say [a well-known female fighter] were gay,” Howe says. “She would be convinced to hide it well and look like a girl with long hair and ponytails. I bet you she gets more sponsorships. Especially in the States. There are a lot of homophobic states down there, and they would pull the funding.”
Names like Fox’s, Theresa “Princess Red Star” Kibby, and Gwen Gemini get lost in the shuffle despite their importance in the sport’s history. Kibby ranked second in the World Welterweight in the Women’s Boxing Federation in 1977, while Gemini is also thought of as a pioneer of women’s boxing and defeated Kibby in a unanimous decision as one of her career highlights.
More recently, Ann Wolfe, who was rumored to be fighting Ali in a 2006 bout that never materialized, also owns 24 career wins against just one defeat. Wolfe also holds eight world titles, including four different weight classes simultaneously.
Historians often value statistics, but they are very scarce in women’s boxing. Internet research returns very little pertinent numerical information. However, one website, www.boxrec.com, is an online encyclopedia of sorts for male and female boxing stats. Users can search for boxers by name, as well as upcoming fights by weight class, location, and even television network. But most other statistical information is generally just available by a boxer’s website or perhaps Wikipedia.
Also, Fox created WBAN, the Women Boxing Archive Network, found at www.womenboxing.com, chronicling not only her career and life but some of the important events in women’s boxing and biographies of significant names.
Fox mentions in her biography that her reasons for leaving the sport of boxing were due to the fact that it was “starting to die out”. She was hired to work as a police officer in 1990, a position she held until 2008.
Ed Brophy, the executive director of the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, believes that the popularity of women’s boxing has escalated greatly since the early-to-mid 90’s, but the fact of the matter remains that the Hall is almost entirely one-sided when it comes to gender.
“Presently, 100 per cent of the displays and exhibits are on professional boxing and male boxing, although we do have one female who was elected into the Hall of Fame who was a boxing promoter,” Brophy says.
Still, Aileen Eaton, a Los Angeles promoter from 1942-1980, is categorized on the Hall’s inductee list as a “non-participant”, meaning no female fighters have been inducted.
But Brophy says that one name that has sparked a rise in popularity from the female side is Christy Martin, a fighter who was promoted by the legendary Don King. Martin is nicknamed “The Coal Miner’s Daughter” and fought many cards with Mike Tyson, which Brophy says helped her gain recognition.
“[Martin] was a fine fighter and put on some really good matches on those Pay-Per-Views that Mike Tyson was fighting on. It generated a lot of media attention. The media attention [got] even more females to box and even more managers to focus on the females in the gym,” Brophy says.
“Female boxing has become more popular in the last 15 years because of the awareness of TV networks such as Showtime and promoters such as Don King that brought the attention to Christy Martin.”
There are those that follow the sport who believe that the sport still suffers from a lack of exposure. Chris Iorfida, a senior writer for CBC Sports who covers boxing, says that in addition to the female side having very few recognizable names and a general lack of numbers, the lack of quality matchups makes it very difficult for the sport to thrive.
“It was one of those instances where the best women didn’t really face other at their peaks, Iorfida says.
“Ali did end up fighting Christy Martin eventually, but Martin was quite old and there was a big weight difference. If you’ve got two dynamic women but it’s only a pretty small group overall, you’re going to want to see those women fight each other, but they might not be able to. Whereas with [male] boxing, you have enough people doing it that there are enough divisions and matchups to be made to keep people interested in the sport.”
Iorfida adds that from his own personal experience, there is a sense of despair locally for women hoping to make something of their passion for boxing. He recalls talking to some women locally several years back and learning of the scarcity of opportunities for women in boxing.
“There’s just a certain feeling they had that there’s not much else they can do with it,” Iorfida says.
In Canada, Iorfida concedes that boxing does not thrive as much because of its socioeconomic nature.
“We’re a pretty well-off country,” he says. “We don’t have as many of those sort of core areas, those ghettos, where boxing typically thrives. That pertains to women as well as men, in addition to the stereotype of women shouldn’t hit each other.
While alluding to the popularity of sports like UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), Iorfida notes that the status of women’s boxing is nearly at the opposite end of the spectrum.
“I’m sure that women are still enjoying this on sort of a grass roots level,” Iorfida says.
With the announcement of women’s boxing becoming an Olympic sport in 2012, the stage will be set in London, England. For the Newsgirls, getting to London, Ontario has proven enough of a challenge.
“Money is one of the things that keeps us from getting to Windsor or Sudbury. But maybe now that the Olympics has been announced, it will be easier to get corporate sponsorship,” Howe says, adding that she plans to get her advisory board together to try and figure out a plan along those lines.
What once seemed like a pipe dream is now reality for Howe. Yet for all the satisfaction the Olympics will bring, the journey to get there has been a taxing one.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” Howe says. “Someone asked me, ‘Savoy, you’ve been boxing for 17 years, how do you feel?’ And I said, ‘Tired.’”