Saturday, May 21, 2005

Lamon Was Relentless

Surprisingly, for a fight that lasted only fifty-three seconds, I actually have a lot to say about it. First, who was that guy that came out swinging like a wrecking ball at Andrew Golota? Lamon Brewster? Really? That was not a Lamon Brewster I've ever seen before. But I can say without a doubt, that is a Lamon Brewster I absolutely want to see again! That's the Brewster I'd love to see knock the hell out of John Ruiz, or take on Vitali Klitschko. Those left hooks were simply stunning.

On the other hand, I'm a bit disappointed for Andrew Golota. Win or lose, I wanted to see Golota overcome his doubts and fears, and let go of all that psychological baggage he's been lugging around for the better part of his career. In a way he did - you have to give him credit for getting up and getting back in there twice. Especially after the second knockdown, which just about knocked him clear out of the ring. He even looked ready to get up a third time before referee Geno Rodriguez called a halt to the bout. But fifty three seconds is hardly time enough for the kind of test that Golota, his fans, and boxing writers were hoping for.

Before that fight I felt like I was ready to write a book about Andrew Golota. But now I feel like Lamon Brewster just snatched the pen out of my hand and ate it. In fifty-three seconds, Brewster's Heavyweight division stock soared, while Golota's final shot at redemption in the shape of an arguably worthless WBO title belt hit the canvas harder than his 248 pound frame. A part of me desperately wants to see him try again, but he is 37 years old after all. Old for any athlete; ancient for a boxer. Either way, I will not be surprised if he retires, or if he needs to stick around for one more fight. That tends to happen with boxers who have something left to prove. There's always one more fight.

Friday, May 20, 2005

A Travesty in Hollywood, Florida

Sometimes you have a fight where the guys are so closely matched, that it's almost impossible to score. Kind of like Castillo and Corrales, at least until the tenth round. Other times, you have a fight where the fighters might be closely matched, but if you are really educated about the science of boxing, and you're really paying attention to the fight and not blind or intoxicated, you can see where one guy really is outboxing the other. Landing more clean punches. Controlling the action (ie: ring generalship). That was the case tonight, yet unfortunately for Dale Brown, the sport of boxing, and its fans, none of the judges seemed to be educated, sober, or actually watching the same fight as the rest of us.

The fact is, Dale Brown won that fight. On my scorecard, it wasn't even close. I had it 117-112 Brown. Kevin Kelly and Shane Mosely had it 116-112 Brown. Joe Tessitore had it 9 rounds to 3, Brown. Brian Kenny also had Brown as the winner, but didn't tell us what he had on his scorecard. When interviewed after the fight, Bell even said, and I quote, "He outboxed me." Yes, O'Neil, he did. In almost every round. Which means you didn't win. (Bell seemed genuinely puzzled when both Tessitore and Kelly told him pretty much everyone at ESPN thought he lost).

Brown was gracious, as was Bell, considering the outcome. Bell is game for a rematch, but is really looking to take on Jean-Marc Mormec. If there is a Bell/Brown rematch, which I sincerely hope there is, perhaps a different set of judges will return the IBF Cruiserweight Champion belt to the man who deserves it. And if that fight goes anything like this one did, that man will be Dale Brown.

Brewster vs Golota

Lamon Brewster defends his WBO heavyweight belt against Andrew Golota this Saturday night in Chicago. Brewster is 31-2-0, with 27 KO's; Golota is 38-5-1 with 31 KO's. It's worth mentioning that two of Golota's five losses were due to disqualifications for low blows, both times against Riddick Bowe. There was also that loss against Michael Grant in 1999, where Golota just up and quit in the tenth round. Unfortunately for Golota, these losses seem to continue to haunt him and color his reputation in a very bad way. In the world of boxing, he's still seen as a wild card, a potential head case who is more likely to sabotage himself rather than allow someone else to bring him down. Still, I'm going to put my money (theoretically, not actual money money) on the proposition that he's put these self-destructive tendencies behind him, and will emerge victorious Saturday night.

Despite Brewster's impressive record, at least by the numbers, his most noteworthy win was against Wladimir Klitschko. Klitschko's rep has declined like a lead balloon over the last few years, so I'm not putting much stock in that win. On the other hand, Golota's ring experience against talented heavyweights far exceeds Brewster's. Most recently, Golota lost a somewhat controversial decision against John Ruiz. Before that, he fought Chris Byrd to a draw. He's beaten Corey Sanders, and faced Lennox Lewis, and Riddick Bowe (twice). Although he lost to Lewis and Bowe, those are still examples of the quality of opponent Golota is used to facing. You just can't say the same for Lamon Brewster, whose losses were to Cliff Etienne and Charles Shufford.

I don't see this fight going the distance. This is Andrew Golota's last chance for a belt, and I think he'll make the most of it by knocking Brewster out at some point during the middle rounds.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Nandrolone Strikes Again

Greg Skidmore over at Sports Law Blog has an interesting article about a competitive swimmer who won a lawsuit against supplement maker Ultimate Nutrition. Apparently, the swimmer took a multi-vitamin produced by this company, and later failed a drug test. It was subsequently discovered that the vitamin was contaminated with 19-norandrosterone (basically, the metabolized product of Nandrolone). Read the article here:

Monday, May 16, 2005

Is California Boxing in Jeopardy?

It certainly looks that way, if Senate Bill 247 gets through the California legislature. ESB has a very good article discussing the ramifications of this proposed bill. If you live in California and are a boxing fan, you really should read up on this, and take action while you still have a chance. Read the article on ESB's site by clicking this link:

Sunday, May 15, 2005

New Poll - Vote Now!

Just posted a new poll over on the right. Who should Winky fight next? Leave a comment here or email me if there's anyone you think I should add to the list.

Winky Dominates

I have to include myself among boxing fans who were afraid to make a prediction about the Wright/Trinidad fight. I figured, if it went 12 rounds, Winky had a good chance of winning, but if it went less, it would probably be a result of Tito knocking Winky out. I never would have guessed that Winky would utterly and completely dominate every round of that fight, but that's exactly what he did.

I had it scored 120-107, giving every single round to Winky. Two of the three judges gave round 12 to Tito. I don't know if that was a courtesy round to Tito, but in the end it really doesn't matter.

When I heard that the only fear Winky had was that he'd beat Tito so badly a rematch would be out of the question, I laughed at his seemingly boundless confidence. But as it turns out, Winky's worst fears may have come to pass. When he mentioned a rematch after the fight, HBO commentators almost laughed at him. I have to admit, I did too. No way anyone is going to pay to see that fight again. I know I'm not alone in wondering what Tito will do next. Was he really that bad, or was Winky really that good?

I think I believe the latter, and the very plausible idea that Winky might have knocked Tito back into retirement. What are Tito's options otherwise? If he decides to go back down to Welterweight, he's got another crafty southpaw in Zab Judah who has a good chance of making him look almost as bad as Winky did. A shot at the winner of Hopkins/Taylor seems unlikely, too. I don't think I'm the only person who'd rather see Winky Wright get that fight before Tito Trinidad. Throw into that mix the fact that everybody seems to want a piece of Oscar De La Hoya, if for no other reason than the enormous PPV draw.

I sincerely hope that after this fight, Winky will have earned the respect he deserves. I'd pay to see him fight a top contender - Hopkins, Taylor, De La Hoya, Ouma, Mosely - he's a good enough and smart enough fighter to beat any of those guys. Yes, even Bernard Hopkins.

Finally, I think the fact that this fight occured on the heels of the Corrales/Castillo fight illustrates a unique juxtaposition of boxing as a sweet science vs. boxing as a blood and guts test of manhood and endurance. It's akin to those who prefer a pitcher's duel of a baseball game, as opposed to a high scoring home run derby. Watching Winky completely dismantle one of the great fighters of our time was watching pure artistry - the sweet science at its best. As I wrote in my essay about the Corrales Castillo fight, it was everything beautiful and ugly and breathtaking about the sport of boxing. While I might say the same thing about Wright/Trinidad, I'd also add the word pure. Winky Wright is a pure boxer, and a pleasure to watch for a pure boxing fan.


As a postscript, all I have to say about the Judah/Rivera fight is this: This fight illustrates exactly why the alphabet organizations really get on my nerves. In order to keep his belt, Zab is forced to fight a guy so far beneath him, it's a joke. I want to see Zab fight Antonio Margarito, period. Or at least someone who deserves to be in the same ring with him. Hopefully, Zab soundly kicked Cosme Rivera and his idiot grin permanently out of everyone's top ten rankings, just so we never have to see him fight again.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Retired Boxers Foundation

I just spent a little over an hour on the phone with Jacquie Richardson and Alex "The Bronx Bomber" Ramos of the Retired Boxers Foundation. These are two of the coolest boxing people on the planet. I called them to get some more information regarding a press release they sent out on the California State Athletic Commission. We ended up talking about that, and boxing in general, James Toney, the Corrales/Castillo fight, the fact that I'm from Jersey and Alex lived there for awhile, and RBF's Mike Indri lives there too. Everything. And I think I could have easily talked another couple of hours. Anyway, it was a great conversation with fascinating and friendly people. I want to give them both a shout out, to let them know that I'll do anything I can to help out the Foundation, because they are doing incredible work.

So, to all of you boxing fans out there, the RBF could really use our support. Just go to their website to find out what they're doing and how you can help. As a fan of the sport, I wish with all my heart that boxers had better futures waiting for them once they leave the ring. The sad fact is, most fighters are not raking in huge sums of money. Many suffer from boxing-related medical problems, and have a tough time making the transition to life outside the ring. The RBF helps with housing, financial assistance, rehabilitation, literacy programs, and more.

As for the California State Athletic Commission: In a nutshell, it looks like the Commission is being run by incompetents, and is a real mess. California legislators in their infinite wisdom are looking to just scrap it entirely rather than fix it properly. I'll have more to write about this in the very near future.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Still Rushing To Judgment? - Hell Yeah!

Wow. I thought the Joe Mesi article would spark a debate. It did, but compared to the Toney steroid article, that was nothing. Over at ESB, the debate is raging. Now, there are some tempers flaring a bit out of control (it is ESB after all), but in general I think it's great that boxing fans are debating this. So, I'm pointing readers to the article on the ESB site so you can check out all the comments. When I checked last, it was somewhere around 225. As a writer, besides seeing a really good fight, I live for this!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Are We Rushing To Judgment About James Toney?

I just heard a little while ago that James Toney was stripped of his heavyweight belt by the NY State Athletic Commission. Apparently, Toney failed a drug test, and Commission rules mandate that the challenger who wins a title fight and subsequently fails a drug test is immediately stripped of his title. Which means, the belt goes back to John Ruiz. But before everybody goes nuts about this, let's slow down a minute and really take a close look at what happened. That means you too, Norman Stone.

The substance James Toney tested positive for is an anabolic steroid called Nandrolone. As it happens, Nandrolone is found in many legal, over the counter supplements. It is also possible that Nandrolone can be naturally produced by the body. See the article Nandrolone Explained on the BBC Health web site. Further, it is also possible to test positive for the steroid if you've recently eaten a large quantity of meat contaminated with it. Somehow, the thought of James Toney eating large quantities of meat does not strike me as being at all unusual. Nor does the idea that the meat we regularly buy and eat has been shot up full of hormones, antibiotics, and steroids.

Consider this article by University of Bristol Senior Lecturer Paul May, who writes:

The findings are that dietary supplements themselves are harmless and produce no increased levels of nandrolone. Exercise alone, too, doesn't cause any problems. But a combination of both dietary supplements (none of which contain a banned substance) and exercise, can result in a positive nandrolone test. The reason for this is still unclear, but one theory is that there is a link between heavy training, the dehydration that goes with it, and their effects upon the components of high protein diets. Until more work is done, however, the 'nandrolone mystery' goes on...

The fact is, Nandrolone the substance is nothing new. Atheletes testing positive for Nandrolone is nothing new. And athletes who have later been cleared of wrongdoing after testing positive for Nandrolone? You guessed it. Nothing new. I would suggest that, given Nandrolone's track record for erroneously fouling up athelete's careers and reputations, maybe we should give James Toney the benefit of the doubt, and a chance to prove he is innocent of wrongdoing. Doesn't a Champion deserve at least that much?

Monday, May 09, 2005

SI Article On McCain's Boxing Bill

I like SI, for the most part. But their coverage of boxing is just pitiful. Except for when Senator McCain and the proposed Federal Boxing Commission are in the news. Check out the article just posted on tonight, under the heading "More Sports," the SI dumping ground they should subtitle "Sports We Barely Cover Because We Really Don't Give A Crap." For whatever it's worth, that boxing bill sittin' there on Capitol Hill is now halfway home to Law.

Castillo/Corrales I - An Instant Classic

It's only May, and we might have already seen the fight of the year. I don't think I yelled and generally carried on so much during a fight since the legendary Ward/Gatti trilogy. Diego Corrales now owns the WBO and WBC Lightweight Championship belts, and he'll very likely own Ring Magazine's ranking as their undisputed Lightweight Champ, too. Corrales proved he was not only the better fighter on May 7th, but that he had a will that would simply not be denied. What I want to know now is, when's the rematch?

I had this fight scored dead even going into the 10th round. When Chico went down twice, I had it 10-7, and briefly thought that the only way he could possibly win the fight was if he knocked Castillo out. Which he did about ten seconds later. Tony Weeks probably saved Castillo from getting very seriously injured. He was up against the ropes looking like a rag doll. It was a good stoppage.

Even though Corrales came out the victor in the end, this fight speaks volumes as to what both of these men are made of. They are a rare breed; true warriors who just don't know the word quit. Both were bruised and bloodied, but never gave up. I created my own scorecard that I use when I watch and score a fight. I take notes on each round for later reference. For round 8, the only thing I had written was "Jeez!" Round 9: "Crap!" Round 10 was completely blank because my clipboard ended up across the room.

From now on, when people ask me why I love boxing, I am just going to say "just watch Castillo/Corrales I" - that fight embodies everything that is beautiful and ugly and simply breathtaking about this sport.

Hats off to both Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo. They are both Champions in my book.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Castillo/Corrales - Marquez/Polo Predictions

I'm approaching this fight by the stats, because my gut isn't telling me much of anything. This is not an easy fight to call. About the only thing I can say for sure, which wouldn't be a news flash to anyone, is that it's going to be a close one. Jose Luis Castillo is ranked the world's number one Lightweight. Diego "Chico" Corrales is number two. The only real advantage Corrales has over Castillo is that he's three inches taller. Other than that, they're similar enough in age, weight, and reach to be as close to evenly matched as they come. Both fighters have losses to Floyd Mayweather in common, but Floyd knocked Diego down five times before Diego's corner threw in the towel in the tenth round. Castillo fought Mayweather twice and went the distance both times, only to lose close and somewhat controversial decisions.

It's probably also worth mentioning that both of these men fought Joel Casamayor twice. Castillo beat him both times, and Corrales lost the first fight but won the second. Corrales has a little bit of ring rust, his last fight being back in August of last year when he defeated Acelino Freitas. Castillo is coming off of a decisive victory over Julio Diaz just this past March.

Using Mayweather as a yardstick, and coupled with Castillo's recent performances against Diaz and Casamayor, I guess I'm not really sure why Diego Corrales is favored slightly in this fight. I get it that he's hungry for another shot at Mayweather. I understand the appeal of rooting for the guy - he's had a rough couple of years. It's good to see him getting his life and career back together, and if he takes Castillo's lightweight title, then good for him. I just don't see it happening. Jose Luis Castillo is a warrior with a lot of heart, and an underrated fighter at that. I'm picking Castillo on the cards after twelve great rounds.

As for Marquez/Polo: Polo's southpaw style and reach advantage would make a difference against a less talented fighter, but Juan Manuel Marquez has talent to spare. Marquez will find Polo's weak jaw by the fourth round and Polo will find himself on the canvas.

New Poll

I just added a new poll to the site: Who Do You Want To See James Toney Fight Next? Cast your vote now! For most IE users, just look over to the right for "BOXINGFAN Poll" under Quick Polls. Yeah, right there. Now vote!

Tarver Gets Rematch With Johnson

Is it me, or is 2005 shaping up to be one hell of a year for boxing? I can't believe the number of great fights we've had already, and it's only May! This coming weekend we have Corrales/Castillo. Then next weekend, Trinidad/Wright. Hopkins/Taylor has been scheduled for July 16. And now, the rematch we've all been waiting for between light heavyweights Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver has been scheduled for June 18 in Memphis.

These two guys are arguably the two best light heavyweights in boxing. After his victory over Tarver in their first bout, Glen Johnson was named Ring Magazine's Fighter of the Year. I like Johnson, but I'm sticking with Tarver. I picked him in the first fight, and I'm picking him again in this one. He's an incredibly talented boxer, and I don't think he'll let this second chance get away from him. Since the fight is a month away, I'm going to leave it at that and post more in a few weeks.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

It's "Lights Out" For John Ruiz

Insomnia cure? No way. This fight was more than "very good."

It was what many boxing fans wanted. We railed on about his "ugly style." We hated how he clenched and held and bullied opponents against the ropes. But however ugly John Ruiz's style was, it worked for him... until tonight. In a telling statement during his ringside commentary, Jim Lampley mentioned meeting with Ruiz a few weeks prior to the fight at Ruiz's request. He wanted to discuss how he could be a "more entertaining" fighter. Bowing to fan pressure may have been his undoing.

It was apparent from the start that Ruiz had abandoned the formula for winning fights that had served him so well for so long. Ironically, his stylistic departure, while serving as his downfall, also produced his most exciting fight. He tried to box Toney on the outside, but it just never worked for him. He never could stick the jab because even a bloated James Toney was too slick for him. By the end of the fight, Ruiz was bruised, reddened, and bloody from taking body shots and hard rights from a relaxed, confident, and strong James Toney.

Norman Stone has nothing to complain about. Referee Steve "Very Good" Smoger did an excellent job. Even if you disagreed with his 7th round knockdown call (Ruiz went down on a questionable punch/trip combination), and scored it 10-9 Toney instead of 10-8, Toney still won the fight by a handy margin. The judges gave it to him unanimously, two of them scoring it 116-111, and one 115-112 (I don't know what fight he was watching; I had it 117-110).

Unfortunately, Ruiz's abrupt and classless departure after the fight did little to endear him to this fan. He didn't bother to congratulate Toney, or grant HBO a post-fight interview. I'm probably like many other fans in saying good riddance, John. Let's just hope Don King lives up to his promise to let the top men with their respective alphabet titles actually fight so we can finally have one undisputed champ. It remains to be seen if John Ruiz will ever figure into that mix again. You can bet James Toney will.