No, if you’re looking for Manny to break out of his nice guy shell, and stir up the pot going into his faceoff with De La Hoya, you’ll have better luck waiting for government “bailout” checks to appear in your mailbox: it ain’t gonna happen.
Boxing’s reigning pound for pound titlist somehow doesn’t let that oversized heart prevent him from looking to do damage when he’s in a scrap, thankfully, and Pacquaio says that he’s on target to make like David, and take down Goliath De La Hoya in two weeks in Las Vegas.
“The pressure is there, but I’ve had a great, great camp,” he told the press on a Monday conference call. “It will be the biggest fight of my career.”
A win would launch Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 KOs; 6-1-1 record in Las Vegas;) head and shoulders ahead of anybody else in the P4P sweepstakes; right now, Joe Calzaghe breathes down Manny’s neck, and in some quarters, edges out Pacman on P4P polls. But Pacquiao says that he hasn’t departed from his routine all that much while preparing to fight at 147 pounds, at a class 17 pounds higher than where he was campaigning a year ago.
His prep has gone according to plan, he says, and he wouldn’t allow himself the possibility of focusing on a showdown with Ricky Hatton if he does the unlikely, and beats the beefier boxer on Dec. 6. “I watched Hatton/Malignaggi,” he said. “(Pacquiao/Hatton) is a good fight, but I don’t want to do something to affect my concentration for this fight.”
Freddie Roach has played provocateur for this promotion, providing the drama and trash talking needed to lure in those customers who need some fiery banter to lure them into purchasing the PPV. He’s accused Oscar of being shot, basically, and ridiculed him for playing the blame game, and using Roach as a scapegoat for his loss to Money Mayweather. Pacquiao is quite content to let Freddie be Freddie, and handle this end of the promotion. “I don’t have a comment about that,” he said. “That’s between my trainer and Oscar. I’m just focused on training.” There’s that decent soul on display, once again…
Pacman did allow that “I never blame my trainer if I lose, I blame myself. In training you can suggest to the trainer, ‘Do this, do that.” For Manny, that’s some James Toney style trashtalking…
He wouldn’t even take the bait when someone asked him if he or Oscar is the better singer. Or when another writer mentioned that Oscar has busted on him for what he deemed unethical methods used during contract negotiations between him, Top Rank, and Golden Boy last year…
In camp, Pacquiao said an inordinate amount of attention is being paid to defense, as he realizes that Oscar’s power will be his greatest asset in Las Vegas. “I think I can handle his power,” said the Filipino, who turns 30 on Dec. 17.
“His” power seems to be what most pundits are focused on heading in to the smashup. But what about “his” ability to stay strong at 147 pounds? The difference in severity of caloric deprivation for a 5-10 ½ man versus one 5-6 ½ is pronounced. Perhaps Oscar will find himself flatter than the economy come fight night, a listless shell of his himself who cannot summon the energy to fend off the rat a tat rushes from the hyper Filipino. Pacquiao did react when told that Oscar has stated that he will be extremely disappointed if he doesn’t win a stoppage. Did he finally fire back, use some salty language, let fly with an impatient reply? Nope. In typical serene fashion, Pacquiao made his point, without raising his blood pressure even half a tick.
“It is easy to say the words, to do that is not easy,” Pacquiao said.
A healthy segment of TSS Universe seems to think this bout is an egregious mismatch, an oddity pairing, nothing more than a cynical exercise in revenue building. I disagree. This fight will have enough drama to justify its purchase (if you share the expense with some pals, especially). Pacquiao’s hands will get to Oscar’s face, enough to make it interesting. Will that happen often enough, and with enough power, over enough rounds, to enable Manny to have his hand raised at the end of the night? I’m dubious. But as someone who roots for the nice guy to finish first, for the good-hearted souls to get theirs, I will not bet against Manny. This nice guy fights like his foe has just called his mom a bad name.
Hatton’s enhanced defense can probably be attributed to his new trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr., the father of Mayweather Jr. In the six weeks Mayweather Sr. worked with Hatton, the 56 year old promised the media that Hatton would stop getting hit as a result of his aggression. This pledge largely came true on Saturday, as Hatton used career-best feints and angles to get inside and inflict damage upon Malignaggi.
Hatton dumped long-time trainer Billy Graham after struggling to a win against Juan Lazcano in May. Mayweather Sr., Hatton said, was a great replacement because of the direction he provided in Hatton’s camp. This collaboration ironically came after Mayweather Sr. called Hatton a “human punching bag” before Hatton’s fight with Mayweather Jr.
But with the impressiveness of his most recent outing, Hatton's life could be filled with even more irony. There remains the outside chance that Hatton face Mayweather Jr. again, only this time with Mayweather Sr. in the Manchester native's corner. The Mayweather vs. Mayweather matchup, which was cancelled when Mayweather Jr. pulled out of a rematch against the Mayweather Sr.-traind Oscar De La Hoya, would finally take place with Hatton in the middle.
How would that be for a turn of events?
Many will question if Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) would stand a chance against Mayweather if the two were to meet again. Their first fight was a one-sided affair that Mayweather pick apart his aggressive foe with crisp, telling blows en route to a tenth-round stoppage. And although Hatton’s defensive skills have improved, the 30 year old would have a difficult time making Mayweather, one of the game’s most accurate punchers, miss with his shots.
But Mayweather-Hatton II makes sense for both fighters – and for fans. Mayweather, whose addiction to money is about as strong as R. Kelly’s alleged lust for teen girls, would make another multi-million dollar payday in a rematch that most would pick him to win. Hatton would in turn get the chance to avenge his only career loss. Fans would get to see Mayweather end his retirement in a highly-dangerous comeback fight.
Hatton has been talked about as a potential opponent for the winner of the December 6th clash between superstars Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao. But banking on landing the victor, especially if it were to be the inactive De La Hoya, would be unwise for Hatton, whose prime days are numbered. Hatton would be better-served to pursue a rematch with Mayweather while he still has the goods to win the fight. A win over Mayweather would be the only way Hatton could secure his legacy as the all-time great he hopes to be.
Mayweather-Hatton II would likely play out similar to the first fight, but several discrepancies could take place. In the first few rounds of Mayweather-Hatton I, Hatton’s aggression forced Mayweather into a low-volume work rate. Not until Hatton began to come in recklessly did Mayweather up his punch output. If Hatton could get inside against Mayweather like he did versus Malignaggi, he would continue to thwart Mayweather’s punch volume, thus allowing his own work-rate, one of his best qualities as a fighter, to be more effective. Further, Hatton, who has now boxed twenty-one rounds in the past eleven months with ultra-slick fighters, would not make the same careless mistakes that allowed Mayweather to win the first fight so handily.
Mayweather, who announced his retirement after his win over Hatton, has yet to indicate that he’d like to return to boxing. But “Pretty Boy’s” greed for green is powerful. He’s already beaten one Ricky Hatton. To get another payday, he’ll just have to fight another.
Golden Boy Promotion’s last show at Morongo Casino featured former bantamweight titleholder Gonzalez back in the ring against Lopez (30-6-2, 21 KOs) who was coming off two victories including a surprise first round stoppage of Mike Oliver several months back.
Both guys can hit.
Lopez, a southpaw, doesn’t lose very often and the guys that can beat him are usually world championship quality. Mexico City’s Gonzalez fits that bill.
After a tentative probing round a clash of heads sparked Gonzalez to go into another gear. When he returned to his corner a fiery look in his eye showed he was not going to be absorbing any more head butts.
Gonzalez attacked Lopez as if a crime had been committed against his family-many were in attendance. The tall lanky bantamweight pinned the Colombian on the ropes and fired a barrage of punches with a left hook to the jaw dropping him to the floor. He beat the count. But Lopez survived and actually caught Gonzalez with a left before the end of the round.
“I felt a little tight because he’s a southpaw,” said Gonzalez (40-6, 34 KOs). “ He gave me some problems after I dropped him. He connected with a good shot. He moved me. But that helped me.”
The next round Gonzalez emerged with a knockout on his mind and the knockout came with a three-punch combination that dropped Lopez for the count at 2:17 of the fourth round.
“He’s a very strong kid,” said Lopez who has three losses to former world champions. “I thought it would be easier. That’s why he’s a world champion.”
Gonzalez said he’s targeting a world title fight and hopes it comes early next year. Talks with representatives of Israel Vazquez have not been good, but interest in Japan’s world champion are underway.
“Honestly this fight helped me a lot,” Gonzalez said.
Last minute replacement Oscar “Pajarito” Andrade (36-35, 18 KOs) tried his best but Montebello’s Nestor Rocha (21-1, 7 KOs) powered through without mercy in a bantamweight contest.
From the first round Rocha used stifling body blows and power shots against Durango, Mexico’s Andrade. A triple uppercut landed on Andrade’s chin in the first round to let him know what he was facing. It didn’t get any easier the rest of the fight.
Rocha used the same method of attack for all 10 rounds as Andrade used his experience to survive the relentless body attack. All three judges scored it 100-90 for Rocha.
Mexico’s Luis “Vampiro” Arceo (21-8-2, 14 KOs) finally captured his first win in California and handed Carson’s Demetrio Soto (5-1, 4 KOs) his first pro defeat in a bruising welterweight bout. Both fighters had the same pressure style and refused to back up.
Arceo, a former Mexican Olympian, had ventured twice to California to meet outstanding lightweight prospects Josesito Lopez of Riverside and Dominic Salcido of Rialto, but both proved too fast, too elusive and basically had the style to beat him. Because his fight was scrapped last week, when the promoters called him to see if he was interested in fighting an undefeated junior welterweight prospect. He eagerly accepted because he was ready. And one more thing, Soto likes to stand right and front and trade.
For six rounds both never moved more than two feet away from each other and wailed away like windmills. Soto proved he could take as good as he could punch, but Arceo was better at evading punches and countering with precision.
By the fourth round Soto’s face was swollen and red with blood streaming down his face. But he continued to load up on the Tijuana fighter until the final bell. Neither fighter took a rest.
In the end it was Arceo’s experience that proved the difference to the judges. Fritz Werner scored it 57-57, but judges Marty Denkin 59-55 and Alex Rochin 58-56 favored Arceo for a majority decision.
In a heavyweight bout, Ashanti Jordan (7-0, 6 KOs) of San Francisco scored a second round technical knockout over San Diego’s Lawson Baker (5-5-1). A cut over the eye of Lawson forced referee David Mendoza to halt the fight at 2:13 of the round.
Huerta KOs Mendoza
Rising prospect Charles Huerta (8-0, 5 KOs) needed eight rounds to finally stop Mexico’s veteran boxer Trinidad Mendoza (22-17-2, 17 KOs) in a featherweight match.
“I wanted to take my time. He was very good,” said Huerta who has only fought professionally for one year while Mendoza has more than 50 pro fights including against some of the best featherweights in the world such as Jhonny Gonzalez, Danny Romero and Daniel Ponce De Leon. “In the third round he caught me good.”
After six calculating rounds, Huerta unloaded a flurry that dropped Mendoza. The veteran beat the count and survived the round.
But in the last round, a counter right hand caught Mendoza for a knockdown. He survived that but was pummeled with a nonstop barrage and dropped again. Referee David Mendoza stopped the fight at 2:46 of the round.
Now, two years later, Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola remains undefeated top contender and Damian “Bolo” Wills remains a contender looking for someone to slip in front of him. In 2006 they hated each other, now, they’re friendly rivals.
Oh yeah, one more thing, Wills is helping Arreola (25-0, 22 KOs) everyday with mind boggling sparring in the Big Bear Mountains as the Riverside heavyweight prepares to face Florida’s Travis “Freight Train” Walker (28-1-1, 22 KOs) on Saturday Nov. 29, at the new Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California.
HBO will televise the event that also features feared WBO welterweight Paul “The Punisher” Williams (35-1, 26 KOs) move up in weight again to test IBF junior middleweight titleholder Verno Phillips (42-10-1, 21 KOs).
Let’s get back to Arreola and Wills.
Both of these guys were fighting for several years in small club shows in Nevada and Southern California with one eye on the other. Sometimes they even fought the same guy and would attempt to knock the guy out a round or two earlier than the other.
Arreola and Wills were bitter, bitter rivals. And their teams were just as acidic toward each other as the fighters.
When Wills lost by TKO to Arreola you could feel the disappointment from the Hollywood-based fighter and his team, including motion picture super star Denzel Washington who sat ringside for the fight.
Before the fight words had been exchanged and promises of destruction were made, but after the fight, somebody had to win and somebody had to lose.
“I learned from that fight,” said Wills, who was stopped that night in the seventh round but never hit the deck. “That fight and the loss to Kevin Johnson made me work even harder. I should never lose to a guy like Johnson who slaps and doesn’t punch.”
In the Big Bear mountains Arreola has been training for weeks in the high altitude with a number of high level heavyweights, including Wills.
Normally, fighters of this quality do not spar with each other, especially after clashing in one of the best heavyweight fights of 2006. But they have their reasons.
Like the motion picture Rocky III, when Apollo Creed offered to train and spar Rocky Balboa before his match with Clubber Lang, in the real life scenario Wills has offered his services to Arreola in the desolate section of Big Bear where only a few spectators are able to see the two rivals clash as if their life depended on it.
“The first time we sparred it was like round eight,” said Arreola who won by seventh round technical knockout against Wills in a competitive bout on November 2006 in Las Vegas. “It seems like that fight is still continuing. It seems like we hate each other in the ring, but outside the ring we’re real cool. We’re like friends.”
Wills was undefeated when he fought Arreola and like the Riverside fighter, he has an ultra competitive spirit in and out of the ring. He also has his reasons for helping Arreola prepare for his next fight with Walker.
“I think it’s good for Chris because I bring a lot more to the table than he’ll see with Travis Walker,” said Wills, who fights out of Los Angeles. “I want him to win because I have a dream of fighting Chris (Arreola) again.”
So they bang each other with a vengeance every day.
“We don’t take it easy. Why should I”? Wills said. “We go at it. That’s what I like about Chris, he’s very competitive also.”
Wills foresees in the near future that Arreola will win a world title and when that happens it will be the Riverside fighter’s obligation to return the favor.
“He’ll get there before me cause he’s in a better position. But I’m hoping he is successful on that journey,” says Wills who plans to make a big strides in 2009. “Then, I want that fight with Chris.”
Arreola likes the idea of fighting Wills again.
“It was my night when we fought the first time. It would be a great fight with two California fighters going at it again,” said Arreola of a second match with Wills. “It’s funny the way it is now. We talk, we play video games against each other, we’re friends, but there is still that competitiveness between each other.”
So every day around noon Wills and Arreola bang the heck out of each other with no more than six people watching. But in two weeks Arreola expects to fight Walker in front of more than 10,000 fight fans at the Citizen Business Bank Arena.
Indeed, Hatton showed that his heart, and stamina, and strength and speed are present in enough abundance for him to compete at an elite level, as he smacked Malignaggi around for 10-plus rounds, and propelled Maligaggi’s trainer Buddy McGirt to enter the ring at the start of the 11th to prevent more damage to his man. Malignaggi, to his massive dismay evidenced by his angry shove at McGirt after the step-in, was never in the fight, as his tactics played right into Hatton’s strengths. A stick and move style was needed, but the New Yorker could not or would not move often enough to keep Hatton off him.
The end came at 28 seconds elapsed in the 11th, and the anguish and embrassment on Paulie’s face spoke volumes. The cocky kid had talked a helluva game coming in, but Hatton was on a different plane than he on this evening, and there wasn’t even room for debate. Hatton landed 124-516, and Paulie just 91-342 punches in a fight that wasn't a thriller, but had its moments, and will resonate for the emphatic stamp Hatton put on it: I am still here, still strong, and still have some big fights left to take on.
Hatton (44-1 with 31 KOs coming in; age 30) weighed 140 pounds on the dot Friday, and Malignaggi (25-1 with 5 KOs entering; age 28) scaled in at 139 pounds. Hatton’s IBO junior welterweight title, and the TSS 140 pound strap, were up for grabs. Hatton was 152 on fight night and Paulie was 149. The New Yorker enjoyed about five inches of reach advantage. Kenny Bayless was entrusted with overseeing the action. He rightly noted in the staredown that Hatton’s trunks were yanked up high, and a belt shot would be legal.
Malignaggi, in the crowd’s eyes, was the black hat in this one, though the scarcity of boos when his name was announced was surprising. I think Ricky’s fans generally got a kick out of the New Yorker’s brash babbling. His hair, a tight shave, was on the opposite end of the spectrum from his last outing, when he sported weaved in dreds.
In the first, Ricky came forward, banging, and then latched on with a headlock. Paulie got cooking with the jab in the last third of the round. Floyd Mayweather Sr. told Hatton to move his head, and pick off his jab. Buddy McGirt told Paulie he liked his feints and head movement.
In the second, the Yanks started a “USA, USA” chant. They liked Paulie’s jab, and energy. Ricky then slammed Paulie with a right, delivered to the chin after a jab. His legs buckled and he held on, preventing a knockdown. Then Paulie caught Ricky with an uppercut answer. There was blood under Paulie’s left eye. McGirt told Paulie to double up on the jab to disrupt Hatton’s rhythm. I’m guessing that Hatton’s handspeed surprised Paulie in a big way.
In the third, both men landed stiff jabs. The Brit did some nice work inside, around clinches initiated more so by him, and some by Paulie.
In the fourth, Hatton landed a showy jab. Paulie’s feet aren’t as swift as his hands, and he wasn’t able, or inclined, to try and take baby steps to get angles on Hatton. He prefers to stand straight in front of a foe, get in first with jabs, and then slip, and then counter. He’s prone to clinching himself, we saw through four.
In the fifth, Ricky came out mauling. Paulie popped some jabs, but we wondered if maybe his filet mignon-tender right had been compromised.
In the sixth, Paulie listened to his corner. He fired jabs, and then moved his feet, forbidding Hatton from stifling him, and getting into a rasslin match with him. Hatton slipped punches nicely here; we did see a bit of Senior’s influence at work.
In the seventh, Paulie couldn’t force himself to change his strategy; he stood in front of Hatton and got mauled. Hatton nailed him with four lefts, half hook, half jab, and the crowd roared. Hatton’s energy was great at this point, and this sent a positive message to the judges. ‘I am psyched to be here, I want to win, reward me.’ He landed another left in the chops with five seconds left. It was a demoralizing round for Paulie. His body language was mopey.
In the eighth, a Paulie right knocked Hatton back two steps. But too often he found himself tangled up in Manchester blue, and he’s no inside specialist. Hatton whacked Paulie with a jab/right uppercut combo that might’ve taken the round for him. He kept coming forward, sending that message to the judges: I am the aggressor, I’m trying to make this a fight, I deserve to win. Paulie, throwing only 35 punches a round, was not busy enough to convince them otherwise.
In the ninth, Hatton bashed Paulie with left. Paulie clowned, but he’d been hurt. Both men got a break as Hatton’s gloves needed re-taping. Upon resumption, it was more of the same. The stronger man imposed his muscles and will on the American, and we wondered if he’d score a stoppage.
In the 10th, Hatton’s legs still had bounce. He kept on smacking away. In the 11th, Hatton hammered away with both hands, and then McGirt saw enough. He threw in the towel, and Paulie was clearly angry, and he yelled at the trainer, who showed brains galore.
Hatton said after that "Paulie is a lot tougher than he looks." He also said he reverted to being "the old Ricky Hatton" but that Floyd Sr would remove vestiges of that moving forward. He said he showed more patience than he had before. And what's next? "Bring it on, I'd like to fight the Oscar/Manny winner," he said. "Nobody will ever beat me at junior welterweight but what sort of champion would I be if I just stayed at my normal weight and didn't accept the big challenges? Bring them on, that's what Ricky Hatton's all about." Malignaggi after said that he couldn't get into a rhythm with his jab, and said that he wanted to continue the scrap. "I'm better than being stopped," he said. "It's a knockout on my record and it shouldn't be."
He's a proud kid, and considering he fights with no pop, and one and half good hands, he's got really nothing to be embarassed about. Have a good birthday Sunday Paulie; there's no shame in being stopped.
In the TV opener, 24-year-old James Kirkland (156, 165 on fight night) took out 26-year-old Contender alum Brian Vera (157, 171 on fight night) in the eighth round of a scheduled ten rounder. The fight was contested at the catch-weight of 157 ½ pounds. The Texan Vera was 16-1 entering. Fellow Texan Kirkland was 23-0, with 20 stops. He is rated No. 2 in the WBA, behind champ Daniel Santos and No. 2 Shane Mosley. Kirlkland pressed from the opening bell. He closes the distance quickly, and looked to land a straight left early and often. The lefty Kirkland mixed in a right hook, and left uppercuts as well. Vera ate a couple heavy shots, but hung tough. Vera’s hands looked very slow in comparison to the undefeated hitter in the first. Vera went down on a left uppercut at the start of the second, after a right hook softened him. He arose, and a cut on the right side of his head dripped blood. His eyes looked clear, and he grinned. Vera’s hands dropped and he got real sloppy after that. He got dropped again at the end of the round, and again Vera smiled. This time a right hook did the damage. “You’re in this thing, there’s no problem,” Vera’s corner told him after the second. If, by “in” he meant in line to get stopped for good, soon, then he was spot on, it looked like.
In the third, Vera ate more bombs, and the crowd ahhhhed in appreciation at Vera’s fortified whiskers. Still, he hung in and landed a couple slow but straight tosses. Kirlkland’s jab is nothing special, though sometimes he pays more attention to aiming it with speed and precision.
Vera still grinned in the fourth, and he landed some sharp rights. Could Vera take Kirkland into deep waters, and yank away his life jacket, as he did to Andy Lee earlier this year? Through five Kirkland landed almost four times as many punches as Vera, but he was still coming out to start rounds, and thus was still in the game. Kirkland dug some to the body in the sixth, a fine idea for Vera, who puffed up so much between weigh-in and fight night. Things slowed some in 6 and 7, as Kirkland’s stamina was tested. He probably threw more than he intended early. In the eighth, a short right hook on the top of the head put Vera down for the third time, midway through the round. Vera ate more shots, including a nasty left, and ref Vic Drakulich saw enough. Vera was good to go, but this was a mercy mission. Drak halted it at 1:45. Kirkland was 283-532, while Vera went 64-470 on the night.
The humanitarian might suggest that Vera look into another line of full-time business. He eats too many punches, goes down too much, gets up too much, and has too much pride; his later years could end up sad at this rate.
Heriberto Ruiz (39-7-2) scored an upset UD8 over Filipino prospect/contender Rey Bautista (26-2).
SPEEDBAG Pet peeve rant time. Why do makers of ring robes nearly always make the hood too big, so it falls into the fighters’ eyes? Paulie had to yank his hood up a half dozen times as he did his ring walk. There should be no preventable distractions before a big fight and this is a preventable distraction, seamstresses!
---Hatton came in wearing his “Fatton” fat suit. Watchers wondered if maybe the joke would be on him, and his in between bout poundage blowups would finally blow up in his face.
---Wondering. You think sometimes Hatton and Senior both have NO IDEA what the other man is saying, what with accents and all?
At the San Manuel Casino, a crowd of more than 1,000 saw Molina of Covina, California stop Tijuana’s Fernando Lizarraga (16-6-1, 12 KOs) on cuts in the main event promoted by Roy Englebrecht Events.
“I know I started slow,” said Molina, who captured the San Manuel lightweight title belt. “I saw that he had 12 knockouts so I took my time.”
Lizarraga fired awkward looking punches from weird angles, especially a loopy overhand right. The Tijuana fighter was smaller in height than Molina but seemed to have extreme self-confidence in his ability to trade.
“He caught me with a few,” said Molina. “After that, I knew I could take his shots.”
A few times Molina landed some laser right hands but Lizarraga also showed a good chin and instead of moving away, planted his feet and fired off a few menacing looking punches that did not connect.
The fourth round proved pivotal in the fight as Molina shortened his punches and fought inside. As both fighters exchanged liberally it was apparent that Molina’s tight uppercuts and counter rights were catching Lizarraga. A cut over the Mexican’s right eye developed as the round ended. A perfect right counter wobbled Lizarraga but Molina’s attempt to load up on punches left openings for the Mexican to counter.
“The guy was cagey,” said Ben Lira, who trains Molina. “He could take a good punch. He (Molina) was going to beat him through wear and tear.”
In the fifth round, short and precise uppercuts opened up another cut on Lizarraga who had no answer for the powerful blows that snapped his head back and nearly toppled him a few times. When the bell ended the round, another cut had formed on the other eye.
Referee Pat Russell stopped the fight due to the severity of the cuts over Lizarraga’s two eyes for a technical knockout victory at the end of the fifth round.
“He (Lizarraga) was probably the best opponent I’ve faced,” said Molina. “He was wilting at the end.”
Rhonda Luna (13-1) returned to the ring after nearly two years and needed a last round knockdown of Peru’s Kina Malpartida (8-3) to win a split decision in a six round lightweight tussle. Judges Tony Crebs scored it 59-55 for Malpartida but judges Alex Rochin and Fritz Werner scored it 57-56 for Luna.
“You take that much time off of course it’s going to affect any fighter,” said Luna.
Luna and Malpartida started slowly as both fighter’s styles were not agreeable. Several right hands by Luna probably won her the first round as the extremely tall Peruvian fighter needed to gauze her jab.
For the next three rounds Malpartida began to find a mark for her long jab and began peppering Luna consistently. At times a right hand to the body or head would land for Luna, but Malpartida began scoring heavily with the jabs and occasional right hands.
Suddenly, Luna seemed to find her footwork and distance in the fifth round. Though neither fighter landed much, it was body work by the Rowland Heights fighter that could have squeezed a point from the judges.
The last round seemed to spark both fighters but it was Luna who landed an overhand right hand to drop Malpartida in the corner. She beat the count but the damage was done. Luna forged ahead with punches from all angles but the tall Peruvian managed to evade too many big blows. It was the sixth round that proved the difference in the fight.
“I knew she was that kind of fighter,” said Luna about Malpartida’s ability to stick and move. “I give her all the respect.”
Riverside’s Jose Reynoso (10-2) used accuracy to win a split decision over Barstow’s Brian Gordon (4-2) in a six round welterweight contest 57-56 twice 55-58.
San Bernardino’s Artemio Reyes Jr. (2-1, 2 KOs) was deducted a point for a low blow in the second round and wasted no time in getting it back. A counter right hand dropped Palmdale’s David Luna (2-5) who was ruled unable to continue by referee Jose Cobian at 2:36 of the second round of the junior welterweight but.
Carson’s Richard Ellis (2-1) knocked down Highland’s Luis Cervantes (0-1) twice in the first three rounds of a junior lightweight bout. Then, an overhand right hand dropped Cervantes for good at 31 seconds of the fourth round for a knockout. Referee Pat Russell stopped the fight.
Las Vegas super middleweight Herman Scott (2-0) knocked down Cathedral City’s Chris Perez (0-1) three times but the fight went the four round distance. All three judges scored it 40-33 for Scott.
Can the old lion, Ricky Hatton, keep the young lion, Paulie Malignaggi, at bay on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas? Does Hatton still have enough left, physically, to keep up with the rat a tat style of the New Yorker, who will pop the jab, peck with a combo, and then slip out of range? After in-ring wars, and out-of-the-ring excess, is the Brit Hatton still capable of getting into prime condition for a bout against a slick stylist who’ll make him work for 12? Can Paulie take Hatton’s best launches? Can Paulie put enough on his punches to dissuade Hatton’s charges? Can Hatton fend off a man who may well still be capable of pulling off his mauling brawling one more time? Is Hatton checked out already? Will his contemplation of retirement show in the ring, when the fight goes into the deep waters? Hatton said he had a chest infection in his last bout, against Juan Lazcano, in which he didn’t look tremendous. Legit explanation, or an excuse used to cover up a slip in skills? Will Hatton be the same old, same old, or will his two months of work with Floyd Senior give him a shot of adrenaline, and spur a rebirth in his career?
Those are the questions, TSS Universe, time to provide some answers. Or, more accurately, some guesses. Well informed guesses, yes, but we won’t know if Hatton can take down Paulie and thus be the frontrunner for the Oscar/Manny winner, or if Paulie can snag the biggest win of his career, and have the best birthday of all time on Sunday, when he turns 28. WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING: RICKY HATTON VS. PAUL MALIGNAGGI AND JAMES KIRKLAND VS. BRIAN VERA kicks off at 10:00 p.m. ET.
Fire away, TSS Universe.
NOTE: The art above was painted by Lee Jones. Prints signed by Hatton are for sale on www.2050Sports.com with a percentage of proceeds going to Ricky Hatton's charities.
Caballero scored a knockdown early in the fourth with a right uppercut, and went back to work, backing Molitor into the ropes. He ripped off four solid smacks, and Larouche saw enough, as did the ref, who stepped in at 52 seconds elapsed. This showing kicks Caballero up two notches, and gives him major bargaining power moving forward. He’s an aggressive banger, who looks to close, and TSS will be watching him more closely moving forward.
The fight was scheduled for 12 rounds to consolidate the WBA and IBF 22 pound titles. Ontario’s Molitor (28-0 entering; 121.6 pounds) came in with the IBF junior featherweight crown, while the 32-year-old Caballero (30-2 entering; 121.6 pounds), coming in with a 6-0 record in title bouts, had the WBA’s version. The winner would find himself a step closer to a bigger money matchup, as the celebrated Israel Vazquez holds the WBC’s 122 pound belt, and young stud Juan Manuel Lopez has the WBO version.
The 28-year-old Molitor was in backward mode early. Cab is muuuch more of a seek and destroy type. 21 of his wins had been stoppages, and he’d curtailed his last three foes before the final bell. The Canuck lefty had a hard time with the freakishly tall (5-11) Panamanian, who bounces, and jukes as he looks for an opening for his whacks. Molitor got in the odd left, but it looked early like his Rama win streak would be halted. “This is not Steve Molitor here tonight, this is not you,” his corner told him after the third.
Cab yapped at Molitor, urging him to trade. The Panamanian scored that knockdown early in the fourth, off a right uppercut. He was up, on unsteady legs. Caught on the ropes, Cab started to finish, but it was Molitor trainer Stephan LaRouche who ended it, as he came up on the apron to wave the white flag. “He was the better man tonight,” the loser said. He admitted he felt tight going in to the bout, and was bothered by the winner’s reach. “He was slow like we expected,” Molitor said, but Caballero didn’t look that way to TSS.
Cab said that "Molitor is not a warrior," but is a "fine champion." There is a difference in his world. We think we know what he means...
Cab called out out Vazquez and Lopez after the bout.Cab and Vazquez are both, incidentally, promoted by Sycuan Promotions.
History has a way of repeating itself, for better or worse, and “The Hayemaker’s” move from cruiserweight to heavyweight looks and sounds very much like the one the finest cruiserweight of all time, Evander Holyfield, took in 1988 in pursuit of greater fame and considerably fatter purses.
Now, if Haye can come close to replicating the heavyweight success that Holyfield achieved, his leap of faith will be more than justified. And if he doesn’t … well, Al “Ice” Cole and other cruiserweight champions who crashed and burned attempting the same step up can welcome another member of a club where the only entrance requirement is the shattered belief that getting bigger means getting better.
“I’m the No. 1 cruiserweight in the world,” Haye (22-1, 21 KOs) said after he emphatically disposed of Barrett (34-7, 20 KOs), but not without surviving a few anxious moments of his own. “Now I want to clean up the heavyweight division. To do that I need to beat one of the Klitschko brothers and then the other. Beat the Klitschko brothers next year, that’s my plan.”
Vitali Klitschko, the WBC heavyweight champion, was at ringside for Haye’s wipeout of Barrett, a onetime contender who has devolved into a sort of gatekeeper of boxing’s flagship division. The older of the Klitschko brothers (Wladimir holds the IBF, WBO and IBO titles) admitted to being impressed by what he’d seen of the 6’3” Haye, who weighed in at a thickly muscled 215 pounds.
“Next year, it will be a great fight in Britain or Germany, in a big stadium,” Vitali said of the prospect of swapping punches with Haye.
Looking up at the 6’7” Vitali, Haye said, “I know he’s a giant. I think I can slay the giant.”
In 1988, the “giant” was maybe 5’11”, but seemed much taller to a lengthening list of victims that had been laid out at his feet. Mike Tyson. The snarling bully from the Brownsville section of Brooklyn was in the process of cleaning out the heavyweight division, and the boxing world wondered if there was someone, anyone, capable of providing him with a worthy challenge.
Enter Holyfield, who had just unified the cruiserweight division with an eighth-round stoppage of Carlos “Sugar” DeLeon, adding the Puerto Rican’s WBC 190-pound title to the WBA and IBF belts he already owned.
For his night’s work in becoming undisputed king of the cruisers on April 9, 1988, Holyfield was paid $300,000. And no, it hadn’t escaped his attention that Michael Spinks had already signed for a June 27, 1988, bout with Tyson, for which Spinks would be paid $13.2 million and Tyson $17 million.
“Money plays a big part in boxing,” Holyfield admitted after he dominated DeLeon, a 9-1 underdog, at Caesars Palace. “Your career is only so long, and I want to make as much as I can while I’m in it. Besides, the heavyweight champion is king of the hill. That’s a motivating factor for me because I want to be king of the hill.”
Haye, probably the best cruiserweight since Holyfield, might have repeated those words verbatim after he scored a second-round TKO of fellow Briton Enzo Maccarinelli on March 8, also in the O2 Arena. In doing so, Haye, the WBC and WBA cruiser champ, added Maccarinelli’s WBO belt to his collection.
“I’m ready to go up and start taking on the heavyweights now,” Haye said after he turned Maccarinelli’s legs to cooked spaghetti with two thunderous right hands. “I’ve achieved all I can in the cruiserweight division, and it’s time to go up and fight the best possible opponents and to knock them out.”
If there is a difference between Holyfield and Haye, it’s that Holyfield made his move to heavyweight with no unfinished business at cruiser; by beating DeLeon, he held all three of the recognized titles at the time. IBF cruiserweight champ Steve “USS” Cunningham requested that Haye stick around long enough for a winner-take-all meeting at 200 pounds before Haye went after boxing’s really big boys, but that request went ungranted, as he suspected it would.
“I understood,” said Cunningham, who will defend his title against Poland’s Tomasz Adamek on Dec. 11 in Newark, N.J. “You can’t really blame Haye for going for the money.”
Holyfield, an inveterate tinkerer who at various times employed a ballet teacher and a bodybuilder at part of his retinue, spent the first couple of months bulking up under the strict supervision of R. David Calvo, an orthopedic surgeon who ran a sports medicine clinic in Sugar Land, Texas, and Houston-based conditioning guru Tim Hallmark. Their joint efforts were called the “Omega Project,” which suggested atomic scientists working on a top-secret plan to build a better bomb.
A little more than three months after he had blown through DeLeon, Holyfield pronounced himself fit and ready for his heavyweight debut against longtime fringe contender James “Quick” Tillis. That scheduled 10-rounder was to take place on July 16, 1988, at Caesars Tahoe.
As was the case with the 37-year-old Barrett, who had been in and out of the heavyweight ratings for a long time without ever making it all the way to the top, Tillis, then 31, had a nice resume, if not an especially imposing one. He’d shared the ring with six fighters – Pinklon Thomas, Greg Page, Tim Witherspoon, Gerrie Coetzee, Frank Bruno, Mike Weaver and Tyson -- who at one point held some version of the heavyweight championship, but by the time he signed to meet Holyfield he was regarded as little more than a steppingstone. His primary claim to fame then was that he’d gone the 10-round distance with Tyson on May 3, 1986, before Tyson had won his first title.
“James has been the policeman of the heavyweight division for a long time,” said Tillis’ manager, Beau Williford. “If you wanted to move up, to enter the top echelon, he’s the guy you had to get by.”
Tillis, a regular Chatty Cathy who talked a better game than he fought, not unexpectedly dismissed Holyfield as a fraud who would be exposed when he found himself in the ring against a legitimate heavyweight.
“All my life I’ve beaten guys only to get stiffed on decisions,” Tillis told me after he’d finished a sparring session a few days before he was to tangle with Holyfield. “The whole world knows I beat Tyson. I sent Coetzee to the hospital and they gave him the decision. And (Joe) Bugner? Man, I won every round and they still gave it to him.
“At this stage of my career, I got to knock these guys out instead of just beating them. And that’s what I’m going to do against Holyfield. I’m going to kick his ass. I’m going to mess him up so bad he’s going to wish he never left (the cruiserweights).
“The boy is a good fighter, but I don’t see where he’s all that special. Anyway, his legs are too skinny. He’s got little bird’s legs.”
Tillis was rolling now, jabbing a finger at my tape recorder as if that would somehow further emphasize his point.
“You think some puffed-up cruiserweight is gonna scare me?” he declared. “Man, I been in there with the best. I fought a baldheaded guy named Earnie Shavers who was the baddest dude in the world. He hit so hard, he could turn goat milk into gasoline. But I beat him (on a 10-round decision in 1982), and I’m gonna beat Holyfield.”
I could have sworn Barrett was channeling Tillis when the British media kept peppering him with inquiries about Haye.
“I have a heavyweight dream of my own. Do you want to hear it?” he said in response to still another question about his more celebrated opponent. “I want to fight Vitali Klitschko after I knock out David Haye. Haye is an ordinary fighter. Just like I said before I fought Dominick Guinn – even though Emanuel Steward said Guinn was the next great heavyweight. I said he was ordinary. David Haye’s ordinary, too. He’s an impostor.”
Holyfield, as it turned out, was no impostor. He tuned up the not-so-Quick Tillis so convincingly that Williford had to come to his man’s rescue, not allowing him to come out for the sixth round of the one-sided beatdown.
At the postfight press conference, Tillis professed to have newfound respect for the former cruiserweight he had verbally denigrated right up to the moment the opening bell rang.
“If (Holyfield) moves like that, uses his legs and don’t stand in front of him, he’ll give `The Gorilla’ all he wants,” said Tillis, comparing Tyson to a jungle primate. “Holyfield is a great fighter, stronger than I thought, and faster than Tyson.”
Lou Duva, who worked Holyfield’s corner along with George Benton, also had his say at that postfight press conference, and what he said turned out to be chillingly prophetic. He spoke of getting another one of his heavyweights, Tyrell Biggs, primed to upset Tyson, only to have Biggs submit to his own fears on fight night.
“George and I had Tyrell perfect,” Duva said. “He just didn’t bring it with him into the ring. For some reason he let himself be intimidated.
“Now, I’ve got to say that Evander can’t be intimidated. Not even by Mike Tyson. When Tyson looks into Evander’s eye, he isn’t going to see one trace of fear.”
Maybe Holyfield would have stared down Tyson at some earlier date, like, say, in 1992 when his big showdown with the human wrecking machine was first scheduled. But Tyson went to Indianapolis to judge the Miss Black America beauty pageant, putting him further down the road to ruin than Buster Douglas ever had. When Holyfield finally got around to going eyeball-to-eyeball with Tyson, that withering glare from Tyson no longer had strong men quaking in their shoes as it once had.
Vitali Klitschko doesn’t really play the intimidation game the same way that Tyson did, but, despite his history of injuries, he might be a better fighter at this juncture of his professional life. Whether Haye is able to chop him down is a question that should be answered soon enough, provided the Ukrainian slugger stays out of hotel rooms with teenaged beauty queens at 3 a.m.
Until he gets his shot at a more prestigious, better-paying title, Haye’s heavyweight experiment is off to a, um, quick start. And it seems like déjà vu for a lot of us who have been down this path before with another fighter whose surname begins with the letter H.
So it was more than a bit surprising to hear the mouthy one tell TSS how his confidence today, going into Saturday’s showdown with Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas, can’t compare to his confidence going into his 2006 bout with Miguel Cotto.
This is a calmer confidence,” he tells TSS in a Thursday afternoon phoner. “This is a more real confidence. That was my first big event. Now, I know what to expect.”
Basically, Malignaggi of June 2006 was certain he’d perform well against Cotto, but there was a tiny sliver of uncertainty dancing in his head. Not doubt, but a tiny morsel of reservation.
Today, he’s 27. He’s tasted loss, absorbed it, dealt with it, made amends with it.
Loss is a most useful thing, when dealt with correctly. It can tell you what you need to do to step it up, reach that next level.
If you listen carefully, and don’t BS yourself, and blame others when in fact your own deficiencies caused the less than optimal result. TSS thinks Malignaggi has in fact learned from the loss, allowed himself to ackowledge his limitations, and that will only help him as he tries to prove that Hatton’s reputation hasn’t been earned the hard way.
Of course, Malignaggi hasn’t lost his healthy level of optimism going into the Saturday showdown, which will leave the winner as the acknowledged No. 1 in the 140 pound class. “My confidence level is probably a ten,” he says. “I’ve had proper training, and that can only lead to good things.”
This is the biggest event in his career, he tells TSS, bigger than the Cotto scrap. Why? “If I beat Cotto, I wasn’t the number one junior welter. If I win this, I’m number one in most peoples’ minds.”
Malignaggi (25-1) says that it isn’t that he’s trained harder for the Hatton (44-1) fight than the Cotto fight. More like, he’s trained smarter. Going into the Cotto fight, he listened to this one, and that one, and didn’t trust himself, trust his skills, his style of fighting. Now, he knows what he is, and what he isn’t. He turns 28 on Sunday, and is more settled in who he is as a man and as a fighter. He will fight Hatton on his terms, at his pace, using his style. He will not waste energy on showmanship, and hairstyles, and such.
His stint in Vegas as opposed to training in NY or at Buddy McGirt’s gym in Florida should be a net plus for Malignaggi. He explains that the sparring he was getting in NY and New Jersey was solid, but with New York becoming a town for the super rich, a lot of gyms are now filled with white collar boxers. Not many boxers in there could push him, make him reach deep down, maybe show him a wrinkle that he hadn’t seen. Plus, staying in Henderson, there isn’t as much of a tug of friends, and hangers on, so he’s been able to stay focused on the business at hand, Hatton.
The New Yorker thinks he’ll be able to tame the Hitman, not because the Brit has slipped, but because he was never all that to begin with.
“His best wins are against dinosaurs,” Malignaggi says. “Tszyu, Castillo, they were old men. I’m a hungry, elite athlete in my prime. I’m not so apt to take a shot and say, ‘Hey, I made my money.’ No, I don’t think Hatton has slipped. I don’t think he was ever that good to begin with.”
Malignaggi hasn’t wowed critics in his last two wins, against Herman Ngoudjo on Jan. 5th, and Lovey Ndou on May 24. He won the IBF junior welter crown conclusively against Ndou in June 2007, but he’s ripe for a stellar showing, exhibiting his ring generalship, his pluck, his pesky flurries.
He is asked why he hasn’t been at the top of his game lately, and again, some humility and some self awareness that comes from maturity emerge. “I tried too hard in those fights,” he says. Expectations were high, and Paulie admits he tightened up some. “Since I won the title, people expected so much, there was almost a letdown. I’m a fluid boxer, and if I’m trying too hard, get too tight, it doesn’t help me. I wasn’t used to that weird burden. This fight, I’ll be back to where I was.”
Now, people are again focusing on that lack of pop, the so-so showings in his last two outings, Hatton’s showier resume. Malignaggi couldn’t be happier. “Now people are doubting me again,” he says. “I prefer this position. Not too many people thought I’d get too far. I’ve always been doubted, my whole career, except those last two fights. It’s back to normal for me, being doubted again.”