There aren't that many jobs that I can point to and say, boxing is a safer and preferable way to make a living.
But mining for gold, miles underneath the earth, hour upon hour, with the constant threat of a cave-in, that's no picnic.
Thomas Mashaba, a gold miner in South Africa, is looking to get out of the mines, and into the minds of fight fans looking for another solid featherweight to make some noise. Mashaba came to a place where some hopeful souls look for gold, Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, and headlined ESPN's Friday Night Fights against Cristobal Cruz. At the end of the night, after some hard digging, though, it was Cruz who shined brightest, and took home the spoils.
The judges spoke after 12 gritty rounds and saw it 114-114 even, 115-113, 115-113, both for Cruz while Teddy Atlas, the ESPN analyst, saw it 117-112, for Mashaba.
No one could quibble with the call, really, as Cruz set a record for punches thrown in a 12 round bout, as he unleashed 1,580 throws, and landed 549 of them. Mashaba threw 960 and landed 392.
Cruz took away Mashaba's IBO crown, which he had secured with a win over Vuyani Bungu in June 2005.
Mashaba came in 20-1-2, while Cruz came in 39-11-1. Cruz, by the way, is 30 and turned pro at age 14. Think of that the next time you see those aimless teens lounging at the mall. Tell 'em to make something of themselves.
Mashaba, age 30, weighed 125 pounds. He's from South Africa, as Ron Borges told you on Thursday, and he works a day job in gold mines. This was his first fight in the US.
Both men deserve credit, as they were both tossing furiously as the bell rang to finish the twelfth round.
In the eleventh, Cruz landed a smart right that sent Mashaba back a step. Both his eyes were swelled up some, and you wouldn't have fallen off your stool if you saw Cruz land a humdinger and pull off a nice little upset.
Blood was coming from Cruz' mouth by the eighth, but he was still flinging shots. In the ninth, there he was placing left hooks and right hooks on Mashaba.
Cruz didn't come to pick up a paycheck without exerting true effort. He was winging shots at a rapid pace, though his tosses were more arm punches, without much body English in them.
Through the fourth the only real movement came when one man or another drove his foe backwards.
Mashaba showed a sharp right in the first round. He's a little crude, not a real smooth looking operator, but he likes to bang.
Cruz came in having lost two of his last three bouts.
FYI Joe Tessitore mentioned Borges' fine piece, but didn't choose to tell viewers where they could read the fine piece, strangely enough. TSS, Joe T, TSS. C'mon, you can't spare a free website a plug, my man?
Jason LeHouillier met Jose Gonzalez in a junior middleweight tiff. LeHouillier has been away from the ring for a year and showed some rust. Gonzalez is a busy bee, sometimes throwing over 100 punches a round. The fight went the distance, and after 10 rounds, Gonzalez got the nod from the judges. I mean, he had to, didn't he, as he threw 1,045 punches, and landed 358 to 219 of 578 for LeHoullier . Not so fast--LeHoullier is from Maine and lives in new Hampshire, while Gonzalez is from Mexico and lives in Kansas. You know where this is going, right?
George Smith saw it 97-93 Gonzalez, Don Trella saw it 96-94 LeHoullier and Clark Sammartino saw it 95-95, a draw. "Put handcuffs on those judges," Atlas said after. The crowd booed the hometown decision. Put Don Trella on your list of suspect judges, people. If Don wants to contact TSS and state his case, I'll print it, by the way.
Atlas had it 99-91 for the rightful victor, Gonzalez (11-2-1). The giftee is 21-0-1. He should contact the Ct. commission and tell them he deserved a loss.
Atlas weighed in and said that he does not want to see Vazquez/Marquez for the fourth time. They gave and took too much punishment. Thing is, chances are good that both guys are going to take similar levels of punishment in at least one other fight in their career--why not make the most money for the fighter in that case?
Atlas went out on a limb and predicted that Samuel Peter would KO Oleg Maskaev in the first round in Cancun. He is trying to work off his last errant call--he liked Sultan going in to the Klitschko fight.