Sunday, 6 October 2013

Miguel Cotto v Delvin Rodriguez - There are levels

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship. Miguel Cotto added another 1 to his W column last night, as his new partnership with future hall of fame trainer Freddie Roach got off to an impressive start, stopping Delvin Rodriguez after 3 one sided rounds.

Cotto handled his comeback opponent with ease, much to the delight of the fellow Puerto ricans in the 11,000 strong crowd that had come out to support him in Orlando for the first time.

Stopping a guy who has only been stopped once is impressive, especially when taking into account Miguel Cotto's size disadvantage. Cotto pounded away at the body with his trademark left hook, and slowly but surely Rodriguez began to sag in the middle and was nearly taken out in the final seconds of the 2nd stanza, and the bell merely allowed him 1 minute sat on his stool to delay the inevitable.

Let's be clear; Delvin Rodriguez is not a world class fighter, but he's not a bum. Contrary to many fight fans beliefs, there are some fighters who operate somewhere between those two levels. Rodriguez is solid, he lasts. He had an absolute war with Pavel Wolak and then handled him with ease in the rematch of their fight of the year. Like Cotto, he lost a decision to Austin Trout at 154lbs.

In a win or go home type of fight, Cotto won and won big. Instead of retirement, he now has a great deal of choice where to go next, and can feasibly plan out a spectacular fight or two to cap off a career that has seen him take on most of the great fighters of his generation. Malignaggi, Judah, Mosley, Margarito (twice), Pacquiao and Mayweather. And under closer examination, he faced most of those fighters when they were firing on all cylinders and close to their peaks.

So in his last couple of fights who will Miguel face? Will he continue facing peak level opposition, or fight a fighter with a name and a diminishing reputation?

Monday, 30 September 2013

Chavez Jr. Vs Vera - Another Weekend, Another Robbery.

The coldly anticipated farce between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Brian Vera delivered us yet another fraudulent decision this weekend.

Anyone who does not think the sport of boxing is crooked, then well, I mean does anyone actually not think it's bent? Anybody?

Chavez Jr were scheduled to fight at 160lbs when the fight was announced. The fight was eventually moved up a full weight class to Super Middleweight at 168lbs, as fight drew closer. By the time the fight started on Saturday night in Carson, California, both men had 'agreed' to a 173lb weight limit.

There were swathes of empty seats, which was pointed out by the commentators on the telecast. The reasons are obvious. When you have a fighter who began campaigning at super featherweight, who is now a full 40 lbs or more heavier, you question the validity of the event your seeing. Can it be elite level sport with such indiscipline?

The answer is no. Boxing is not elite, it's a niche sport that manages to throw up a couple of monstrous events a year from the fighters at the pinnacle. Below that, its a weird mixture of tough guys willingly surrendering their long term health for a few grand, and a hyped up chosen few who get to trouser 6 figure pay checks and win fights without winning them.

Vera was meant to lose, so he lost. That is the story of this fight. There's little point in analyzing it any deeper than that. Chavez was unconditioned and fought like it, throwing hard single shots every minute or so, while Vera jabbed and puffed up his already oversized face.

I dont understand. If they're going to rig a fight, then why not use a little bit of brain power and arrange the cards to be at least close. One of the fraudulent, corrupt judges managed to award Chavez 8 out of the 10 rounds. And this was a majority decision, with all 3 judges giving the nod to boxing's most famous and favoured son.

The excellent Bobby Hunter collated the media scorecards from this bout. There were 56 cards. 53 people picked Vera. 3 picked the draw. Nobody picked Chavez, he was 0 for 56. As opposed to 3 out of 3 from the professionally employed boxing judges.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Stevenson v Cloud

Another weekend, another robbery. I'll write on the Chavez Jr farce later, let's start with a proper fight from the previous weekend.

Adonis Stevenson continued his fine form, handily beating down Tavoris Cloud over 7 one sided rounds.

It was an impressively simple display of one-two punching, as Stevenson maintained his sideways stance ingrained in him from his days under the late Manny Steward at the Kronk Gym. He was disciplined, patient and chose his shots, but was equally quick to jump on Cloud when he was hurt; Stevenson damaged Cloud's eye early and unleashed an impressive barage as soon as he smelled blood, whether following up a thudding shot up top or taking advantage of a crumbling Cloud who was hurt to the body at several points.

Stevenson is never going to be a hugely popular, crossover star. Firstly he is 36, and though he looks in fine shape and has taken little punishment over the years, his only loss coming via quick KO from the mythical gatekeeper Darnell Boone, he is enjoying potentially a few years of relevance in the Light heavyweight division.

Secondly, his more than chequered past is not going to do him any favors either; but after watching the fight take place at the Bell Center in Montreal, and seeing how vociferously eager the crowd were to chant out 'Superman! Superman!' it reminds me that literally any sin can be forgiven, as long as you are good at throwing a ball, singing a tune, or punching a guy in the face.

Since the Golden Boy - Top rank feud split into the Showtime - HBO battle we are currently reaping the rewards of, HBO Boxing has taken a hit and it has invested a lot of time and money in someone like Andre Ward, who is currently endearing the fans with his arrogant, paint drying turns as a color commentator as opposed to any kind of fistic genius. Once Mayweather, Broner et al jumped across to Showtime, HBO has been left looking for stars. They've found some from outside North America, like Golovkin and Kovalev, but Adonis Stevenson is as exciting as any other world champion on their roster right now.

He fights with the right balance of patience and risk, and hopefully will continue dispatching opponents to set-up a unification fight with Sergei Kovalev in front of the fans in Montreal again. That would be one of the bigger events of late 2014 if it's promoted correctly.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Mayweather v Canelo - Prediction

Don't have time to write extensively on this unfortunately as I would have loved to, but I'll stick my neck out for what it's worth.

Prediction - Mayweather is just too far above Canelo's level of competition. Trout was good, but he is the true standout name on a deceptively thin resume. That's not to say Canelo is not a legitimate talent. It's a case of far too soon, and at the wrong weight

After seeing how dried out Canelo appeared at the weigh-in, I'm increasingly tempted to suggest Mayweather could force a late stoppage, probably due to an accumulation of shots and Canelo just being too damn tired due to weight drain, and the mental and physical fatigue of his straight right hand not landing all night. But Canelo is younger, and will go out on his shield before quitting and his corner does not seem like the kind to throw in the towel, so Mayweather by a clear UD, pulling away after a few tense opening rounds.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Garcia v Matthysse - Prediction

"Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson

While 'The One' is the fight most sports fans are looking forward to this weekend, the B-side of this PPV card is probably the one that has hardcore boxing fans salivating.

We have that rare fight, where the two best guys in a weight division are actually fighting each other. I know, I can't believe it either.

Whoever has their hand raised after that Garcia Matthysse fight will be undoubtedly the best fighter currently operating at 140 lbs, and will also be in prime position for a career high payday as one of Floyd Mayweather's next opponents.

Garcia is making the right noises. He says he's going to take away Matthysse's power. This is exactly how Matthysse will be beaten in the future. Think of Bernard Hopkins fighting Kelly Pavlik, or Antonio Tarver, or anybody. He works out a way to win, taking away his opponents strength with movement and footwork and spoiling and fouling.

As previously noted, in the first round of Matthysse's last fight, Lamont Peterson was doing a very good job of making Lucas miss by wide margins with his power shots, and making it look rather easy. If he could've kept up such a performance for more than 3 minutes, Matthysse would've undoubtedly begun to tire from wasting energy on thin air.

Danny Garcia has a dynamite counter left hook, that waxed Amir Khan and finished off Erik Morales in their rematch. Other than that, nothing about Garcia is flashy.

He is slow. So slow that in their first fight, a frankly fat and old Erik Morales took some time out at the start of the 9th round to make fun of him.

He gets hit. Amir Khan tagged Garcia repeatedly near the start of their fight and was pitching a shut out until Danny changed things with the left hook counter he had been committing to all night.

Such a strategy would be far too risky against the hard punching Argentine. Garcia cannot absorb these punches, and I don't think Garcia can even risk trading punches with Matthysse. There is just too big a differential in their power. Matthysse's medium range, lunging and looping hooks are Tyson-esque in their power, if not their accuracy.

Prediction: Having written on this subject a few weeks ago, it should be of no surprise that I'm going for Lucas Matthysse by KO. I just don't see Garcia being disciplined or slick enough to stay away from the big shots for 12 rounds, and if he decides to go to war early, expect an early finish. Garcia is smarter than that, so I would expect a finish somewhere in the middle rounds, 4-6.

Bet: The over-under total rounds to be Under 8.5 at odds of 4/5 with some bookmakers. Both fighters can bang, with Matthysse having a 86% KO percentage, and all but one of his 32 KO victims having been taken out inside 9 rounds. Similarly, all but 1 of Garcia's 16 KOs have occurred inside 9 rounds.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

De La Hoya Back in Rehab, Won't Be Ringside for Mayweather v Canelo

A paradoxical story broke today, with the shockingly unpredictable news that Oscar De La Hoya, Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez' promoter and chief hype man has been checked into rehab today, meaning he will miss being present at the fight that will probably break his own PPV record from many years ago.

Oscar has an unfortunate history of substance abuse problems that he talked about frankly the first time they were revealed, that were present in his later career and during the years since Manny Pacquiao sliced and diced him into retirement in 2008.

This is a boxing blog, so I have no wish to go into great detail on the issues of addiction and substance abuse. But, the timing of this, so close to the fight, would suggest to me that Oscar is having some very real and very serious problems; the cracks and fissures of his addiction couldn't be papered over for 4 or 5 more days and so the Golden Boy goes back into treatment once again.

This is a massive fight to miss. In a sport where promotion will always err on the side of outrageous hyperbole, the fight's moniker of 'The One' is fairly deserved right now. It's undoubtedly the biggest fight of this young decade, and it hasn't even happened yet. As my blog struggles along with 1 or 2 views a day in its infancy, I can tell you the pages that receive actual views invariably have Mayweather v Canelo in the title.

This is not a decision that could've been taken lightly, or perhaps even willingly.

It's an ongoing battle that blights the lives of many of the sports most illustrious fighters after they have finished their careers.

If boxing is heroin, then the methadone substitute for fighting usually involves becoming a promoter, or trainer, or pundit, or all three. If these morsels of reflected glory do not surfice, then take lots and lots of drugs.

In the UK, Ricky Hatton had a cocaine expose. Joe Calzaghe also. Frank Bruno was sectioned at one point, and was sleeping in his back garden in the ring that he had retained from one of his previous title fights. Only last week, Mike Tyson claimed to be on the brink of death and declared his recent 6 days of sobriety a miracle.

It raises questions to which I have no answer. Are these men risk takers for life? Searching for another high? Damaged by the sport? Or always damaged, and looking for more? Numbing the pain? I don't know.

These men were superstars, and once they have stepped (or have been carried) out of the ring for one last time, they don't suddenly become nobodies overnight. Iron Mike must have people talking boxing with him every hour of every day he is out in public. There's only so many photos you can take with a clinched fist raised robotically beneath your chin.

Which makes you wonder how the journeymen get on once they have hung up the gloves. If you are a tomato can, an opponent hired to be knocked unconscious on a monthly basis , how do you feel when it's all over? Relieved? Probably not.

Tooposhtopunch wishes Oscar a speedy recovery, and hope he will be back at ringside with his unique blend of off-the-wall pre-fight hype as soon as possible.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Sergio Martinez to return in April or May 2014, in Argentina once more.

With the announcement that he plans to return with another fight in his homeland, don't read this any other way; the writing is on the wall for Sergio's career. We are entering the end days,

How does Sergio want to check out of the sport? He led a nomadic career from Argentina, to the UK, to Spain before finally seeing his star rise in the US

Sergio will be 39 years old the next time he laces up his gloves. He's coming off of surgery, after coming off of surgery. His body is betraying him, and with a unique style that is based upon awesome reflexes,  a dodgy knee is a death knell for Martinez' ability to compete at the top level.

The speculation has been that Sergio could end with one last megafight. He is contracted to neither Top Rank or Golden Boy, so has leeway in picking hiss opponent. Although he has built a career on HBO, if he were to jump ship to Showtime for a final farewell that would not be a massive surprise, nor one that many could begrudge him. Fighters primetime, moneymaking years can usually be counted on one hand.

A rematch with Chavez Jr? I don't think so. Martinez remains a small middleweight, whereas Chavez looks set to move up to 160lbs and be fed to Andre Ward at some point in the not too distinct future.

Floyd Mayweather? Martinez has claimed in the past he would drop weight for that fight, but at 39 years old, with all he's been through in the ring, will he be willing to drain himself for one last admittedly huge payday, on top of the surgeries he is trying to overcome? I doubt it, though I'm sure would like that fight more and more these days.

The most realistic option is Gennady Golovkin, who has hardcore boxing fans drooling with his shuddering power; even his jab looks like it hurts his opponents. Does 39 year old Sergio Martinez want to end his career being KO'd by the new top dog in the division? As merely a stepping stone in piling a few more passengers onto the Golovkin hype train? Probably not.

If he fights in Argentina again, don't expect much in terms of an opponent. Last time out, Martin Murray was chosen as the lamb to the slaughter, but he forgot to read the script and knocked down Martinez and arguably won the fight. Expect a much safe pick this time.

Presuming comes through that unscathed, I would see his career ending with a title fight, with the weakest challenger available. Darren Barker just won his first world title against Daniel Geale, and would be a tempting pick for Martinez and his promoter Lou DiBella if he can defend his belt.

Enjoy it while you can, as 2014 will be the last in Sergio's career.