Saturday, April 30, 2005

Mark Your Calendar: On July 16 It's Hopkins v. Taylor

It was announced last night on ESPN's Friday Night Fights that the much anticipated Bernard Hopkins/Jermaine Taylor bout will happen on July 16. I'll post more details as I get them.

Martinez Suffers From A Nigerian Nightmare

Sam "the Nigerian Nightmare" Peter continued his unbeaten heavyweight rampage, easily dispatching Gilbert Martinez with a flurry of brutal power punches that sent Martinez to the canvas about halfway into round three. Martinez, who looked more like a flabby street brawler with love handles than cagey veteran boxer, continually launched himself at Peter, following up wild swings with grabbing and holding. Referee Richard Steele could have stopped the fight after that first knockdown, but as Martinez tried to get up and finish the round, Peter was all over him, dropping him again after just a few seconds.

Now that Peter has gotten past the heavyweight division's self-proclaimed gatekeeper, is he ready for some real competition? According to Peter, "I'm ready I'm ready I'm ready." I can only take from that emphatic statement that Sam Peter is ready to take on a serious heavyweight. Personally, I vote for Andrew Golota.

The Undercards

I don't really have much to say about heavyweight Javier Diaz, or his opponent Josh Cobb, son of Randall "Tex" Cobb. The 19 year-old Cobb broke into boxing nine months ago when a blown knee sidelined his football career. The useful thing about televising this fight was that anyone who previously thought boxing was just about mindless brawn could clearly see that the sport requires training, instinct, smarts, and most of all, talent. When you lace up two men who have just about none of those things and throw them into a ring, it shows. (Josh, have you thought about trying baseball?)

Junior Welterweight and Duva prospect Oscar Diaz, still recovering from his loss against Ebo Elder, took on the finesse-impaired local boy Jesse Feliciano in a scheduled ten round fight that went the distance. The obviously more skilled Diaz won the fight in a unanimous decision, though I wondered at times why he didn't stick to the formula that easily won him the first three rounds. Had he stayed on the outside, and stuck to the jab/straight right hand combos that scored him so many points early on, the fight might not have been as close as it was. Feliciano proved he was a tough guy, but Duva's boy left a lot of doubts in my mind as to whether he's a smart enough fighter to take on the big boys in such a talent-packed division.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Toney/Ruiz: Boxing Match or Insomnia Cure?

Here I go again, spouting off over at This time, I have a somewhat brief article on the upcoming Toney/Ruiz fight on Saturday night. I'll probably have a lot more to say about it when it's over but for now, click here to read the article on that site, complete with a lot of ESB reader's comments (last time I checked, it was close to 150). Or just scroll down and read it here.

I am definitely more excited about watching Sam Peter fight Gilbert Martinez tomorrow night on ESPN. Is Peter the real deal? I hope so!

This article was posted first on

James Toney has been doing a lot of talking lately, mostly about how he intends to destroy John Ruiz in their heavyweightbout coming up this Saturday evening at Madison Square Garden.What is also apparent is that Toney's been doing a lot of eating too, ballooning up to 233 pounds as of Tuesday's weigh-in. If his size is any concern, then it's only to fans and commentators. He's too busy jawing to be fazed by it. Says Toney: "If the bitch wants to fight me the way he fought the last three guys he'll have a bad case of whiplash. Uppercuts, baby."

As for John Ruiz, he's mostly been living up to his moniker as"The Quiet Man." The sixty-four thousand dollar question to many fans is, are we going to see a boxing match Saturday night, or another Greco-Romanstyle jab and grabfest? That remains largely up to Toney. We know that Quiet Man will do what he always does to win. Whether or not that creates an exciting slugfest or a twelve round snoozer is of no concern to Ruiz. He's found a formula for winning, and win he does.

While Ruiz seems like a decent enough guy outside the ring, NormanStone's thuggish antics and Ruiz's whining after the Jones fight didn't exactly endear him to any fans willing to look past his ugly fighting style. That, coupled with Toney's checkered past, make thisless about picking a guy you like to win, and more about hoping theguy you dislike more will lose. Since I'm not exactly a huge fan of either of these fighters, all I really care about is seeing a good clean fight. Unfortunately, the odds of Toney winning by a KO in the first round are probably better.

Though it pains me to say it, I think Ruiz will win by decision afteran extremely boring twelve rounds. I would be very happy to be wrongabout that.

Ring Magazine: Please Get a Web Site!

Dear Ring Magazine:

Ring Magazine, I love you. Been reading you for years. You are the Bible Of Boxing. When my issue arrives in the mail, I'm like a kid with a new toy. I read it cover to cover. The latest issue came today. I flipped to ratings page, which is usually what I do first, only to be disappointed again. You went to print before the McCline/Brock fight, didn't you? It must be so, because you still have McCline ranked number eight. That just can't be right.

You know, if you had a web site, you could provide more up to date content. I'm just saying. I'd be happy to work on that for you, too. Email me at and we'll talk.

Gail -

This Isn't Just About Joe Mesi

I wrote an article about Joe Mesi for Click here to go to that site to read it, complete with a whole lot of ESB reader's comments. Or just scroll down to read it here.

So far, I haven't received any death threats, so I'll call this a pretty decent day.

This article was posted first on

If you're reading this article, then you probably already know that the Nevada State Boxing Commission revoked Joe Mesi's license after his fight with Vassily Jirov. Mesi won the fight, but at a high cost: he suffered from at least two subdural hematomas. Defined in simple terms, a subdural hematoma is bleeding in the brain caused by severe blunt force trauma to the head. It is quite often fatal, and is the leading cause of ring fatalities. [see the Journal of Combat Sport, online at]. What is confounding is that even though it was reported that a month after the fight, one of the bleeds reopened and increased in size when Mesi was moving furniture, doctors who support Mesi still say there's no proof that he's more likely than any other fighter to suffer the same injuries if he gets back into the ring. So what we're left with is that neither side of the debate can prove that he is or isn't at a higher risk.

Still, the Commission's doctors decided unanimously to recommend upholding his suspension. The Commission almost never goes against the recommendations of the medical board, so the next step will likely entail Joe and his lawyers filing a lawsuit that he has a good chance of winning. If he does win the right to fight again, the Commission can and very likely will wash their hands of the matter, and lay the blame on the courts if (heaven forbid) anything bad happens. But the damage to the sport will be done.

Professional sports are how many people make a living. To say it's "just a game" or "just a sport" isn't fair to the men and women who earn their livelihood at it. Take, for example, the difference between a boxer and an Alaskan crab fisherman. Crab fishermen have the highest occupational death rate in the world, period. That's not even taking into account the serious injuries that occur to nearly 100% of crab fisherman. But we let them go out there year after year and risk their lives so we can eat crab. Do we really need to eat crab? Probably about as much as we need to watch boxing. Both boxer and fisherman alike are trying to earn a living. That they've chosen a ridiculously dangerous way to do it is their choice. As long as we keep shelling out money to watch boxing on pay-per-view, and paying upwards of $25 a pound for Alaskan King Crab legs, they will keep risking their lives to give us what we want and, if their luck holds out, live to get paid handsomely for it.

Everyone knows that boxing can be a dangerous sport. But it's not the only one. Football happens to be very dangerous too. Steve Young, the legendary San Francisco 49er QB, was warned by doctors time and time again to quit. Countless times every week, at least half a dozen Mack-truck sized men tried their best to cream him. He suffered countless concussions, but played on. NASCAR drivers risk death and serious injury every time they get behind the wheel. When Dale Earnhart crashed his car and died, NASCAR fans cheered all the more for Dale Junior. Still, despite the risks, injuries, and deaths, no one ever called for an end to pro football, or to racecar driving.

Boxing is different. Boxing is already criticized as being a barbaric and unworthy sport. Most people outside of the boxing world probably have no idea how often ring deaths occur. But now, with all the media attention focused on Mesi, a lot of people will be watching. The last time the world witnessed a fighter dying in the ring it almost killed the sport. When Benny Paret died after his bout with Emile Griffith, the public outcry nearly got boxing abolished. Advertisers pulled their sponsorships, and boxing wasn't seen on television for almost a decade.

The Commission knows it has an obligation to protect the sport as much as they do the boxers. Not only that, they're on notice. It doesn't matter if doctors can't assess Mesi's risk in the ring based on past injuries. In the court of public opinion, if anything bad happens to him, people will point an accusing finger at the Commission and all of boxing and declare, "you should have known."

While sports writers and fans debate the issue, boxing professionals remain largely quiet. So far, Vassily Jirov is the only other boxing professional outside of Team Mesi who has weighed in on the issue. For the record, Jirov has stated that he doesn't think Mesi should fight again. No one asked him if he'd take a rematch with Mesi if he could.

On his web site, Mesi makes mention of Dominick Guinn, Hasim Rahman, Vitali Klitschko and Mike Tyson and their "support and kind thoughts." What about those thoughts? There are a lot of people involved when two men lace up the gloves and go at it. First, there's Mesi's opponent. Will any of these guys who've been so supportive of Mesi actually be willing to get in the ring with him? What about the sport's referees? Tony Weeks, Joe Cortez, Jay Nady, Kenny Bayless - would any of them want to be put in a position of possibly being another Ruby Goldstein? What about ringside judges? The doctors?

Joe is under a lot of pressure to fight again. His family, friends, members of "Team Mesi," the Italian-American community desperate for another Rocky Marciano, and pretty much the entire city of Buffalo, is counting on him. The questionable range of talent in the Heavyweight division coupled with the prospect of a championship belt must sing quite a siren song.

When all is said and done, the lawyer and the libertarian in me supports Mesi's right to earn a living. But the boxing fan in me has to beg him not to fight again. Not only for his own good, but for the good of the sport.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Duddy to fight on June 11th MSG ticket

I just read over at that Irish John Duddy, the exciting middleweight prospect from Derry, will be fighting an as yet unnamed opponent as part of the undercard at Madison Square Garden on June 11th. The fight will be televised by HBO, and will include Jr. Welterweights Miguel Cotto (23-0) vs. Muhammad Abdullaev, and Lightweights Joel Casamayor (31-3) vs. Almazbek Raiymkulov (20-0).

Matchups I'd really like to see

These are my top fights I really want to see (I'm not including fights that are already scheduled to happen. Of course I want to see Ruiz/Toney!)

Kostya Tszyu vs. Arturo Gatti: Are you kidding me? A PPV spectacular! This one would be one helluva slug fest! Mickey who?

Zab Judah vs. Antonio Margarito: Another great fight, and Antonio has earned his shot. Zab might not want to put his title on the line quite so fast, but I think a PPV event might make it worth his while.

John Duddy vs. Anyone: I don't care who. Seriously, I just want to see this guy fight again.

Calvin Brock vs. Wladimir Klitschko: You could argue that Wlad doesn't deserve a shot at Brock. But given his past success, I think he does. And I think a guy like Brock is going to give Wlad the kind of tough fight his fans want to see. Klitschko's victory over Castillo meant nothing. A victory over Brock means he's ready to face Byrd or Ruiz or or Toney - whoever the top guys are when that time comes (other than his own brother, who we know he won't ever fight). A victory for Brock puts him in the same position.

Vitaly Klitschko vs. Chris Byrd: Once and for all, let's just settle it. Of course, if James Toney hands John Ruiz the ass-whooping I think he will, then I'd like to see him take on Byrd instead. And the winner of that fight should get Klitschko. And maybe by then, Vitaly will be healed from his back surgery and actually ready to fight again. Why am I skipping over a John Ruiz/Vitaly Klitschko matchup? Because I don't like Ruiz. His fight with Roy Jones left a bad taste in my mouth for the guy. I don't like his style, or his attitude, and I don't think he deserves a number 2 ranking. But to be fair, if he beats Toney decisively, I'll take it back.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A thought-provoking article on boxing

I just read an article in The Washington Post, written by Benjamin Wallace-Wells, entitled "Battered Women and subtitled "Female boxing is brutal and hopeless." It really made me think. Wallace-Wells would piss me off in one sentence, but then have me nodding to myself in agreement the next. As far as his disgust with women's boxing, I couldn't help but agree:

The worst male fighters know how to play defense, but these girls looked like they'd never been trained. They didn't even try to protect themselves. There was no effort to dodge, no shifting of weight, no clever, calculated movement of feet. Both girls just kept charging, swinging both fists at the same time. It was like watching six-year-olds fight before they're old enough to realize that they might be hurt: All you want to do is make it stop. The action in the middle of the ring was an inchoate tangle of limbs and fists.

Honestly, Leila Ali is the only woman I've ever seen fight who actually looked like she'd been properly trained. She's not just a fighter, she's a boxer.

I'm including a link to the article here: because it's a good read whether you agree with it in whole or in part, or not at all.

Wallace-Wells' bizarre love-hate relationship with the sport goes beyond his indictment of women's boxing. He paints an entirely oppressive and disgusting picture of the sport on both sides of the gender line, but remains a fan nonetheless. And I can't figure out why. I may email him and ask.

Yeah, Klitschko def Castillo (yawn)

Wlad won. Hooray. This is how it went:

jab jab jab left
jab jab jab left
jab jab jab right

And so on, until Castillo went down in the fourth on a weak right that wouldn't have knocked down most lightweights, much less end a fight. But what that punch ended wasn't a fight, and was about as exciting and instructive as watching a group of four-year-olds play tee-ball.

The highlight of the fight? The normally insufferable Larry Merchant, who quipped during the third round "I think Castillo used his arms more when he was paddling away from Cuba." Score one for Larry, because that was freakin funny, especially if you were trying to stay awake to watch.

Frankly, that and the ridiculously over the top laser show introducing the younger Klitschko were both more entertaining than the fight itself. Castillo clearly didn't want to be there. I'm not sure if anyone else needed to be either. Klitschko could have won that fight with his right hand tied behind his back. Literally.

The upshot - Wlad still has a lot to prove. Maybe next time he'll get a real opponent.

A Fight That Hurt To Watch

I know I should feel happy for Antonio Margarito. Maybe now he'll get the attention he deserves. And the shot at Zab Judah he deserves. But I can't help but feel bad for Kermit Cintron. The guy came in so confident, but was so clearly and totally outclassed. This one is going to be tough to recover from for him.

Margarito was in control of that fight from the first bell. Yeah, the first two rounds could have gone either way due to very little action, but Margarito knew what he was doing. He was sizing Cintron up, waiting for a chance to get inside and do some damage. Which is exactly what he did in round three. Some nasty uppercuts and a wicked left opened up a cut over Cintron's right eye. That was the first sign of trouble. Then, early in round four, Margarito took out the whoopin stick. Margarito just beat the bigger, stronger Cintron like a bitch. Cintron went down twice. It was almost uncomfortable to watch, especially in round five, when Cintron all but gave up, taking a knee and forcing the ref and his corner to end the fight. He collapsed into his trainer's arms in tears.

This is the kind of fight that can break a man. But I think Kermit has the talent, the strength, and the skill to come back a better fighter. He's only 25. He has some time to rebuild. But right now, it's Margarito's time. You listenin', Zab?

Sugar Shane Is Back

I had no doubt that Sugar Shane Mosely wasn't done fighting. And I for one am glad to see him back at Welterweight, where he should make it back into Ring's rankings after this fight.

Mosely was clearly the better, more experienced fighter in this bout. He didn't really get going until the third round, where he started using the jab more, and moved back less. In round four, Estrada really was saved the bell after two searing lefts by Mosely to the body. I thought for sure that Shane would finish him in round five, but oddly enough he backed off the body, and didn't go back to working it until round six.

By the time round nine rolled around, I was shouting at ref Robert Byrd for interjecting himself into the fight. I think he pissed off Mosely too. Instead of letting the guys punch out of holds, every five seconds he was jumping in there, pulling them apart. I hate that. Let the guys fight! In any case, when Byrd wasn't interfering, Mosely was clearly in control. I had it scored 8 rounds to 2, 98-92, Mosely.

Nice job, Shane. But I think you'll have to get in line behind Antonio Margarito and Cory Spinks before you get your shot at Zab Judah.

How the Mighty Have Fattened

When I heard that Jameel McCline had slimmed down for his bout with Calvin Brock, I was psyched for him. But what I saw when he entered the round was just another tubby, slow heavyweight. Big Time came in with a 47 lb. weight "advantage" over Brock, and 4 1/2 inch height advantage which he gave up through most of the fight.

One of the reasons I like McCline is that he stays active, unlike most of the other heavyweights at the top of the pile today. "Fighters are supposed to fight," he says, which is ironic because that's exactly what he didn't do last night. Instead, he spent most of his time grappling with the smaller man, rather than throwing punches. It was infuriating to watch, and seemed to tire him more than his opponent.

All in all, I think Brock steps forward as a legitimate contender, and should make an appearance in Ring's heavyweight rankings. He did some nice work getting inside, using the jab, and taking back rounds late. In the third round, McCline had it won with a nice early spurt of connects, but Brock stole it with a sweet right hand that McCline never saw coming. In round seven, easily the best round of the fight, Brock hit the canvas after a left hook he never saw coming, but got up and won a point back, turning a 10-8 round into a 10-9 round. In the end, I scored it 96-94, 6 rounds to 4, Brock.

If McCline is thinking about staying in boxing, he needs to slim down a bit more (maybe to 250 or 255) and get a new trainer. He's not using his size to his advantage, and he needs to learn to let his hands go.

Raul Martinez - Bantamweight Prospect to Watch

Raul Martinez scored a decisive victory over veteran Jose Tirado in an exciting six round bout last night. The first fight on ESPN's first PPV event showcased the new prospect, who on my scorecard won handily, 5 rounds to 1, 59-55. The only reason I gave round three to Tirado was because he actually connected at 23% - considerably higher than his miserable 7% connect percentage in round two. Tirado's "comeback" in round three was shortlived though, as Martinez put together some nice combinations and effective counterpunches, while Tirado mostly swung wildly and missed his target much more often than not.

Pretty Freakin Wrong, Apparently

So my predictions weren't so great. But they weren't really that bad. I had Klitschko by KO in the third; he did it in the fourth. I had McCline on the scorecards, but Brock came out the clear winner. I picked Cintron to go the distance and edge Margarito on the scorecards; Margarito put a hurt on Cintron and the Ref ended up stopping the fight in the fifth. I picked Mosely to win in a middle round TKO; the fight ended up going the distance with Mosely winning easily on the scorecards. So, I was two for four. If this were baseball, I'd be in pretty good shape.

In any case, it's way past my bedtime so I'm just going to have to post more tomorrow. Or, later today. In about eight hours or so.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Predictions for tonight's fights

I've going to save my detailed analysis for after the fights, but I'll throw in my two cents worth of predictions now.

First off, the ESPN PPV event is now only three fights, not four. The Juan Diaz – Ebo Elder lightweight championship bout was cancelled due to injury. But I was really tuning in for the other three anyway.

First, the HBO fight:

Wlad: If you don't get punched in the jaw or rubbed down with petroleum jelly prior to the fight, you should be just fine. Take him out by the third round though, or you may run out of gas. I'm a Klitschko fan, so I'm picking Wlad, KO in the third. But I'm not putting any money on it.

ESPN fights:

Margarito/Cintron: This is going to be a great matchup. These two are both offensively minded, and will likely have some memorable exchanges. After all is said and done, I like Cintron in this fight. Yeah, I know Ring has Margarito ranked a lot higher (the number one contenter, as a matter of fact) but I like Cintron's heart. I think this fight will probably go the distance, with Cintron squeaking out a victory on the scorecards.

McCline/Brock: Both of these guys have a hell of a lot to gain with a victory, but Big Time McCline has a hell of a lot more to lose. Since neither of these guys has tremendous knockout power (yeah, Brock KO'd Clifford Etienne, but so did my grandmother), I think McCline will shock everyone by going the distance and coming out on top on the scorecards.

Mosely/Estrada: Sugar Shane is far from over. This is a must win for him, and he's going to pull it off with a middle round TKO.

My next post, tentatively titled "How Freakin Wrong Can One Person Be?" will be posted either tonight after the fights, or tomorrow after the hangover wears off.

Saturday Night's Alright for Fightin'

Oh, am I psyched for tonight! While I'm watching ESPN's PPV extravaganza, I'll be TIVOing comeback fight (is it#3?) for Wladimir Klitschko, when the young Ukrainian takes on the unbeaten Cuban Eliseo Castillo. Castillo's claim to fame was a decisive victory against Michael Moorer last spring.

Five great fights, one night, two channels. Schwing!

I'm going to try to get my pre-fight analysis & predictions posted asap.

Friday Night Fell Asleep

Well, I have to admit that the Litzau/Martinez fight wasn't so bad. After the first few rounds, I began to question the value of proving one's toughness at the expense of early onset brain damage. Litzau basically used Martinez's head like a speed bag. I kept wondering when the young American featherweight might actually start going to the body, but it never happened. I thought Ref Toby Gibson could have stopped the fight a round earlier, but it was a good stoppage nonetheless. I'll be keeping my eye on Litzau.

As for the main event, I have to confess that I fell asleep. So, I can't write about a fight I didn't see, because then I'd just be ripping off someone else's analysis. What I can say about the fight was that, from the few rounds I saw, I was completely at a loss as to how to score it, or how the hell I could possibly stay awake for such a snoozer. Hey, it's not like I'm a professional analyst getting paid for my opinion! Bottom line, I remain unimpressed with Dominick Guinn.