Last month Floyd Mayweather Sr. told Sports Illustrated that after seeing Pacquiao take Miguel Cotto's Sunday left hook unflinchingly during their fight, he believes Manny was aided by some illegal substances and worried about his son Floyd Jr. fighting him while he was under the influence of them. Which is laughable. Even more laughable than Mayweather Sr's accusations is the fact that he doesn't even believe what he's put out there.
Actually, Floyd Sr. would love for Pacquiao to be on some type of steroid or HGH when he meets his son in three months. And the reason for that is he's fully aware that there's no drug or supplement available to anyone which helps a fighter take a better punch than he would if his system were free of them. Such a drug or steroid that transforms a fighter into a puncher via a bottle or needle doesn't exist, at least not in 2009. And if you've ever been around fighters who have experimented with them looking for an edge, you'd know they did nothing for them but mess up their body chemistry.
Some fans and writers even believe to this day that Aaron Pryor had something in the little black bottle that Panama Lewis concocted for his first fight with Alexis Arguello, and that enabled "The Hawk" to take a massive right to the chin from Arguello in the 13th round that must have been heard around the world when it landed. Then after drinking whatever was in the black bottle Pryor was able to come roaring back to stop Arguello in the 14th round. Maybe in a Rocky movie but not in the real world.
I hate to ruin the myth for those who believe Pryor won the fight with a little help, but Pryor had nothing aiding him during his first fight with Alexis Arguello that helped him come out on top. And if he did he brought it with him for the rematch which turned out to be a repeat of the first fight - only it lasted four less rounds 10 months later.
Oh, and Lewis decided to only use it for that fight and the magic energy potion is locked away forever along with the horse-hair that was removed from Luis Resto's gloves right before he fought Billy Collins Jr. at Madison Square Garden in 1983. What's more is if Manny Pacquiao is really ingesting some form of performance enhancing drugs or supplements (which I don't believe he is) and it really has improved his chin and durability along with increasing his punching power, shame on the Mayweather camp for not knowing about it and getting it for Floyd Mayweather Jr. to take before fighting Pacquiao so the fight can be contested on more even terms.
Here's the deal---pay no attention to what Floyd Mayweather Sr. has been spewing about Manny Pacquiao taking performance enhancing supplements and drugs. It's nothing more than subterfuge and a way for Floyd Sr. to inject himself into the biggest fight of the last 10 years. Remember, if such a supplement existed that helped fighters raise their pain resistance and increase their power every trainer in boxing would know about it, not just Panama Lewis and perhaps Freddie Roach.
Manny Pacquiao takes a great punch because he is a phenomenal athlete and physical specimen. Manny can really punch with both hands and take it to the head and body because he was blessed with those physical and mental gifts at birth. If he beats Floyd Mayweather when they meet next year, it'll be for no other reason than he's a greater fighter. And if he loses to him it won't be because he couldn't get over on the Nevada Commission this time and couldn't take supplements or other performance enhancing drugs. It'll be because Floyd Mayweather was the greater fighter.
For the record, Pacquiao has already tested clean 10 times without any trace of PED's found in his system by the Nevada Athletic Commission. But everyone knows that hasn't kept Mayweather Sr. from continuing to insist that he's using them. The unfortunate part of the accusations that he's tossed at Pacquiao is some fans and writers will begin to buy into them if they haven't already.
If Mayweather Sr. even had a clue as to what a steroid user looked like, he'd see Pacquiao doesn't even look like he uses steroids or HGH. He's still a small guy with huge legs (as opposed to the huge guy/tiny legs model of juice usage.) Pacquiao is now 30 years old and has filled out and matured physically later in life than most fighters in the lower weight divisions. The weight and size he's put on has come as a result of that and via a natural process.
Lastly, if there was some magic drug or supplement available that really worked and gave a fighter more punch resistance and/or added power I wouldn't put it past Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather along with any other world class fighter taking them, because all fighters are always looking for an edge to get one up on their peers.
The trouble is it can't be gained through a bottle, needle or HGH regardless of what Floyd Mayweather Sr. implies.
What's going on with today's heavyweights? On a night when WBC heavyweight title holder Vitali Klitschko looked older, slower and more vulnerable than he's looked in a long time, Kevin Johnson fought with the passion and intensity of a complacent church mouse.
It's easy to say that a fighter is awful and shouldn't even be in the ring challenging for a piece of the fractured heavyweight title, but that's a shallow thought. However, watching Johnson's futile effort trying to relieve Klitschko of his WBC title makes you wonder if he really had any interest in the outcome of the fight. But when you think and realize that Johnson probably prepared for close to two months for the fight realizing that it was an opportunity of a lifetime; there's no way you can accept the thought that he flew to Switzerland with the sole purpose of just trying to go the distance with Vitali and losing the fight. And if you don't accept that thought, what could it be that caused Johnson to put forth such an inept effort?
At one time I was of the belief that both Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko are stronger and punch much harder than they appear to from ringside or watching them on television. Remember how much bravado David Tua had before he fought Lennox Lewis? Yet ended up fighting at a measured pace after being touched a few times and feeling Lewis's power. After finding out how dangerous it was and how much it hurt to go after Lewis, Tua fought with reservation for the duration of the fight and not the reckless abandon he promised. So it's easy to fathom how both Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko are the reason as to why often times their opponents don't put up much of a fight after being inside the ring with them for a few rounds and look to survive because it hurts a lot less than fighting and trying to win.
The problem with that is, why fight if you're worried about getting hurt or embarrassed? Fighters know when they step into the ring exactly what's at risk. If you've gone as far as to make the commitment to get inside the ring and fight your way up to the highest level in the sport; why not give yourself the best possible shot you have to win the bout and maintain some respect for yourself, the fans and your opponent?
It's unfathomable how some fighters do themselves a bigger dis-service and stunt their careers more so by just showing up and fighting not to get knocked out or to survive. In the end don't you respect Trevor Berbick and his effort against Mike Tyson more than you do Kevin Johnson and his undertaking versus Vitali Klitschko? Sure - Berbick looked bad falling down a couple times via one Tyson left-hook, but at least he tried to take it to Mike before he was caught by Tyson's left hook on the temple. Trevor knew when he stepped into the ring with Tyson that he had no chance of out-boxing him. So he said to himself, "If I'm gonna lose my title in this fight, at the least I'm going to go down fighting to hold on to it instead of running and just handing it away to my opponent." Only clowns wouldn't see Berbick's effort against Tyson as a genuine attempt to do the one thing that would have given him a chance. So he winds up looking 100 times better than Johnson did last night.
Compare that to Kevin Johnson who never made a serious run at Klitschko during the bout until the last round was winding down. And in spite of Johnson not presenting Vitali with any serious resistance, he showed Kevin more respect than he earned. Klitschko seldom threw more than three punches at a time while he had Johnson against the ropes. And Johnson proved he was a durable opponent and was never hurt by Klitschko, but offered nothing offensively other than his straight left hand counters with nothing coming behind them in succession. Even more amazingly is the fact that Klitschko's clubbing over hand rights aimed mostly to the head were enough to keep Johnson on the retreat and fighting off his back foot.
The only punch that Johnson threw with any regularity was his left-jab, but Klitschko leans back after he punches and Johnson wasn't willing enough to step towards him with the thought of trying to land something of consequence. It's no secret for any heavyweight fighting either Klitschko circa 2009-2010, that they must step out of their comfort zone to have any legitimate chance to beat either one of them.
Vitali Klitschko is more than just a big man who fights professionally. He knows exactly how to use his size/strength and how to force his opponent to fight from their weakness and in a defensive posture. But every fighter regardless of how big or great they are, is vulnerable or somewhat neutralized by something. You would think after having years of watching Vitali fight and him never deviating from what he does when he's in the ring, Kevin Johnson and his brain-trust would've had a clue as to how to somewhat nullify him. It's not like Johnson was getting beat up or worked over as the fight progressed - and he was facing Vitali on a night in which he didn't bring his A-game.
One thing is for sure; professional boxing is not a defensive sport. A fighter needs defense to win, but he can't win fighting defensively. It bothers me that no one seems to want the title anymore. Even Vitali could have been talked into giving it up last night, if only Johnson knew how to do it.
He also shared in the heartbreak of junior welterweight Paulie Malignaggi, after the fighter boxed the ears off of Juan Diaz in Diaz’s hometown of Houston, only to lose a decision that was hard to fathom even by boxing’s often unfathomable standards.
Malignaggi received much-deserved redemption this past weekend in Chicago, when he once again boxed the ears off of Diaz and rightfully came away with the decision.
On Wednesday, December 16, DiBella will close out the year with a small but stellar installment of his extremely popular Broadway Boxing series at B.B. Kings Blues Club & Grill in the heart of Times Square in New York.
Headlining the show will be super bantamweight Guillermo Rigondeaux, 3-0 (3 KOS), a two-time Olympic gold medalist for his native Cuba who fights out of Miami. Although he has only been a pro for seven months, Rigondeaux, a veteran of over 400 amateur fights who is now working with the esteemed trainer Freddie Roach, scored a sensational third round stoppage of 71 fight veteran Giovanni Andrade in his last bout.
He will square off against the much more experienced Rafael Tirado, 24-7-3 (16 KOS), of Ecuador in an eight-round bout.
“A case could be made that Guillermo is the most impressive amateur of all time,” said DiBella. “Even after three pro fights, he has the type of talent that demands being showcased. New York City is the perfect place to get him out in front of the best boxing fans in the world.”
Also being showcased is heavyweight sensation Tor Hamer, 9-0 (7 KOS), who in just 14 months as a pro has created quite a national buzz. The search is on for the next great American heavyweight and a compelling argument could be made that Hamer will be the one to fill that void.
Besides creating a name for himself at several New York venues, the 6’2”, 235-pound powerhouse has laced the gloves up in Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida and Oklahoma. Only three of his nine opponents have had losing records, and nearly all hit the canvas with a frightening thud.
The 26-year-old Hamer will look to make short work of the normally resilient Domonic Jenkins, 13-11-1 (6 KOS), of Dallas, who has only been stopped four times.
Hamer, a native New Yorker who the Village Voice, the city’s pre-eminent alternative weekly newspaper, dubbed the “Gentleman Boxer” because of his unique background, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Penn State. He is also a certified personal trainer whose wide range of interests includes acting and modeling.
His manager, marketing guru Adam Cohen, has entered into a relationship with the No Mas clothing line, which in addition to licensing a Muhammad Ali brand has established a Team Tor brand. Among the items branded are T-shirts and hats emblazoned with the mantra “Fight Tor Fight.”
Cohen, a graduate of Wheaton College whose interest in boxing was culled by his father Philip, an old-time ticket broker who was dear friends with Rocky Graziano, insisted on one T-shirt having a vintage look that “young adults would feel comfortable wearing to a party.”
Cohen expects the Hamer brand, as both a hard-punching heavyweight and a marketing commodity, to explode in the very near future. His efforts have already resulted in the boxer being the subject of a cover story in the Village Voice, as well as a guest on the late-night Carson Daly television show.
As long as Hamer keeps fighting – and winning in the explosive fashion that his fans have become accustomed to – he is sure to become the brand that Cohen has long envisioned. Besides having such a compelling personal story, he is a New Yorker by birth and an old-school knockout artist by nature.
That has always been a winning combination, especially at times like these where there is such a dearth of exciting heavyweights.
Among other things, Cohen will use the power of the Internet to launch a full-scale media blitz on the man he considers to be the next great American heavyweight.
“I want Tor’s career to have a viral aspect to it,” said Cohen. “Most boxing stories are rags to riches. His story is different, but besides being a very exciting fighter he is very smart and intellectual. He has a different kind of story that is easy for the fans to embrace.”
In other bouts:
Joel Torres, 11-0-1 (7 KOS) vs. Georgie Estrellas, 10-2-1 (7 KOS), lightweights. Orlando Del Valle, 7-0 (5 KOS) vs. Noe Lopez Jr., 5-4 (4 KOS), super featherweights. Gabriel Bracero, 7-0 (0 KOS) vs. Carl McNickols, 6-2 (6 KOS), junior welterweights. Joe Smith Jr., 2-0 (2 KOS) vs. Gevonte Davis, 4-5-1 (2 KOS), light heavyweights. Christian Martinez, 1-0 (1 KO) vs. Gabriel Morris, 1-4-1 (0 KOS), junior welterweights.
Tickets range from $55 to $125 and can be purchased by calling DiBella Entertainment at 212-947-2577 or by logging onto the DiBella Entertainment web site at: www.dbe1.com
"The selection of Ray Robinson as the Greatest Ever Boxer shows that fans of all ages understand the legend he created. In the individual weight categories the winners represented several eras. Robinson carried the banner of the 40's and 50's with his wins at middleweight and welterweight, and then the fans went up through the years with Roberto Duran, Muhammad Ali, Wilfredo Gomez, Ricardo Lopez, Roy Jones Jr and Manny Pacquiao as their selections," said Al Bernstein, a member of the nominations jury.
Fellow jury member Ron Borges said: "Well, now that the votes have been counted boxing fans have something new to argue about. Manny Pacquiao greater than Muhammad Ali? There's a generational battle for the ages. Yet one constant remains. For 60 years now one name has been listed above the rest - Sugar Ray Robinson - and so it remains today, after the finally tally of The Greatest Ever's worldwide balloting. Glad to see you can count on something is this world.''
Fans worldwide have been voting for their Greatest Ever fighters in the eight traditional weight categories of Flyweight, Bantamweight, Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight, Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight. The nominated fighters were selected by a jury of boxing analysts - Al Bernstein, Tom Hauser, Ron Borges, Jean-Philippe Lustyk and Colin Hart. Over 500,000 votes have been cast since June at www.greatestever.com.
Sugar Ray Robinson was the only fighter nominated in two categories - welterweight and middleweight - and he won them both. In terms of total votes cast, Manny Pacquaio came second with Muhammed Ali coming third. Listed below are the top three fighters in the global vote.
World's Greatest Ever Boxer - overall
1.Sugar Ray Robinson 2. Manny Pacquiao 3. Muhammad Ali
World's Greatest Ever Heavyweight
1. Muhammad Ali 48% 2. Mike Tyson 16% 3. Rocky Marciano 11%
World's Greatest Ever Light heavyweight
1. Roy Jones Jnr 37% 2. Archie Moore 17% 3. Joe Calzaghe 14%
World's Greatest Ever Middleweight
1. Sugar Ray Robinson 47% 2.Marvin Hagler 24% 3. Bernard Hopkins 12%
World's Greatest Ever Welterweight
1. Sugar Ray Robinson 39% 2. Sugar Ray Leonard 36% 3. Oscar de la Hoya 10%
World's Greatest Ever Lightweight
1. Roberto Duran 33% 2. Henry Armstrong 22% 3. Floyd Mayweather 14%
World's Greatest Ever Featherweight
1. Manny Pacquaio 56% 2. Willie Pep 15% 3. Salvador Sanchez 8%
The Nightmare Nightmare has apparently woken up from a slumber, if we can use a telling tipoff: his weight... he was 253 1/2 against Klitschko, an even more corpulent 265 in a March loss to Eddie Chambers, but has dipped to 243 and 239 for his July and September wins over crash test dummies Marcus McGee and Ronald Bellamy.
TSS chatted with Gotzev in NY recently, and the Bulgarian born advisor promises that Peter, now under the Top Rank banner, is refocused on the sweet science.
Peter is being trained by Abel Sanchez in Big Bear, as he counts down to a Dec. 19 clash with Gabe Brown in Youngstown on the Pavlik-Espino undercard. Gotzev isn't looking past Brown...oh, let's dispense with the BS, Gotzev is pretty darned certain Peter won't get Aguilera-d like Oleg Maskaev did last week, and will move into 2010 with some momentum. Gotzev has his eye on the IBF's No. 1 ranked heavyweight, Alex Povetkin, who has seemingly held that top slot for eons, but has been fighting sub 10 top-10 foes as he waits for a crack against IBF champ Wladimir Klitschko. Peter (32-3, 25 KOs) has some more waiting to do, as Wlad will get it on with the IBF's third ranked heavy, Eddie Chambers, in March.
Gotzev has a plan that could engender a bit of interest in the IBF strap, a good thing since Wlad fought just once in 2009 (a stoppage win over Ruslan Chagaev in June) and has been nursing his left shoulder since he had surgery to repair a tendon this summer. Why not, he says, have Peter fight Povetkin, for an interim title, with the winner to meet up with the Klitschko/Chambers victor?
Sounds good to us. Can he make it happen?
Gotzev said he's tried, and thinks Povetkin's promoter, Sauerland Events of Germany, might be open to it. But he thinks Povetkin trainer Teddy Atlas might be gumming up the wheels of progress.
"I think Atlas is unsure about Povetkin, about his potential," Gotzev says. "Povetkin has been stagnant for two years."
If not screamingly stagnant, then Povetkin has certainly been selective in his fighting frequency. He beat Chambers, and was granted the No. slot, and then journeyman Taurus Sykes in 2008, and top 25er Jason Estrada in April. Povetkin took out 27-1 Leon Nolan ten days ago, a solid scalping on surface, until you peruse Nolan's record and see that his won-loss record is built on spongy turf. TSS called Atlas and left a message asking for his side of the story, but hasn't heard back as of yet.
"If I was Povetkin's management, I'd take a fight with Sam, after all Sam lost to both Klitschkos," Gotzev said.
The 30-year-old Povetkin was supposed to fight Wlad in Dec. 2008, but had to beg off two months, with an injured ankle ligament. Gotzev thinks it's time for the 2004 super heavyweight gold medallist to prove he owns that No. ranking, and urges Sauerland and/or Atlas to call him.
"I want to see what Povetkin is made of," Gotzev says. "I think Teddy has cold feet with Povetkin. He knows his guy isn't ready. I would ask Teddy to put up or shut up. I'm tired of looking at his honeymoon photos taken with Povetkin. Just make an effin fight!"
And if Povetkin can't be lured into a scrum, what then?
"We'd like to take a shot at Arreola," Gotzev says. "His promoter Dan Goossen is probably shaking in his boots. HBO please make it happen. It would be bombs away."
SPEEDBAG Gotzev is looking to land Peter a slot on the Jan. 8 Friday Night Fights card.
---Gotzev signed Shannon Briggs three months ago. He's angling for a Briggs versus One Klitschko Or Another fight. The manager says he's not too concerned that Shannon was 272 for his Dec. 3 comeback fight against Marcus McGee in NYC. "He holds 270 well, and you have to know, he has lost a lot of weight to get there."
---Gotzev manages another heavyweight, 28-1 Ukrainian Oleg Platov. "He's a crowd pleaser with a killer instinct," Gotzev says of Platov, age 26. Ivaylo ain't lyin'. Check out the vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzmQV2btTtk...His best win is a SD over Henry Akinwande in 2006.
---Gotzev says we should keep an eye out for another one of his crew, 24-year-old Ukrainian Ismayl Sillakh (9-0, 8 KOs), a light heavyweight from the Ukraine. "He's a future superstar," Gotzev says.
“Chad Dawson won’t be able to run 12 rounds against me,” Cloud said. “My pressure will be unbelievable and I hit hard with both hands. He’ll have to stand and fight and that will be his ultimate demise. We’re totally different. If I went around saying I could beat the No. 1 contender, like Chad did when I was the No. 1, I’d fight him to prove it.
“I’m baffled, I guess, more than frustrated. All my life watching boxing, I thought the champion had to fight the next available, most deserving challenger, or unify the title. I was the No. 1 contender and he was the champ, but that’s when all the politics of boxing came in – extensions and exceptions – and his promoter lobbied to duck this hungry fighter. I understand the promoter building a fighter and arranging puff fights for more money. At some point, though, a real fighter has to fight the best. You can’t be great just fighting hand-picked, over-the-hill guys.”
Cloud, fighting out of Tallahassee (FL), has beaten everybody put in the ring against him during his perfect 4 1/2–years pro career. He’s fresh, entertaining and throws nearly 100 punches a round, something practically unheard of from a light heavyweight. The Ring magazine has him rated No. 6 but he still hasn’t been able to get Dawson into a fight because, reportedly, Tavoris isn’t well enough known by fans to justify a fight against Dawson on HBO.
What’s Cloud have to do?
His last four opponents – Clinton Woods (DEC12), Julio Cesar Gonzalez (TKO10), Mike Wood (KO1) and Jacob Rodriguez (RTD3) – have either officially retired or simply haven’t fought since being ‘rained on’ by Cloud.
After stopping Wood in the first round of their March 28, 2008 fight in Chicago for the USBA and NABA titles, Cloud became the No. 1 IBF contender and he then took out former WBO titlist Gonzalez in the 11th round of their Aug. 8, 2008 IBF Title Eliminator to become the mandatory challenger for the then reigning Dawson.
Dawson was first supposed to defend his IBF strap against Cloud by January 8, 2009, but Dawson was granted an exception to fight Antonio Tarver in a rematch last March. Dawson won and the IBF mandated that he fight Cloud by May 1, 2009 or be stripped of his title. Rather than take on Cloud, Dawson relinquished his IBF title belt after Tavoris refused to fight a non-title bout against another opponent, not Dawson, on an HBO show. Cloud’s promoter, Richie Boy Promotions, declined the offer and promoted a fight for the then vacant IBF crown between Cloud and former IBF champion, Clinton Woods, who Tavoris impressively defeated by unanimous 12-round decision (116-112 scoring by all three judges).
After defeating Woods, HBO offered Cloud a spot on its network against Dawson or in the co-feature on a show headlined by Dawson, whose promoter, Gary Shaw, once again, refused to fight Tavoris or even allow Chad to fight on the same HBO card.
Team Cloud believes there’s another reason why Dawson won’t fight Cloud and it doesn’t have anything to do with purse structures or name recognition. “Back in 2001,” Cloud’s head trainer Al Bonanni explained, “Dawson and Cloud were both outstanding amateurs. They sparred in 2001 at the U.S. Olympic training camp. Tavoris floored Dawson and hurt his eye. After that, Dawson was moved down to 168 pounds, instead of competing with Cloud at 175. Dawson still fears Tavoris Cloud and that’s why he won’t get in the ring with him. We’re willing to fight Dawson or any of the top light heavyweights in the world.”
Cloud hopes to defend his IBF title in the first-quarter of 2010 against WBC champion Jean Pascal in a unification bout, or, there’s always the possibility of fighting one of the over 40 greats such as Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones, Jr., Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver.
If Dawson ever mans-up, that deal can still be made but, like Dangerfield, right now Cloud ‘can’t get no respect!’
“I think Dawson will fight me in the not too distant future,” Cloud added. “As long as I keep winning impressively in exciting fights, fans will call for it. I don’t understand his logic (for not fighting Tavoris) because I’m not that type of fighter. I want to fight the best and it doesn’t matter if they’re boxers, punchers or southpaws. That’s the way to be great. One world title belt isn’t enough for me; I want more.”
In many respects rematches can be fairly predictable. It is rarer still that you'll see an underdog who has come up short the first time raise his game yet again and, essentially, come up with the fight of his life twice in a row. But Malignaggi is clearly cut from a different cloth than most boxers, and while he was still performing before an audience of (mostly) Juan Diaz fans Saturday night at the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion, he staged a virtuoso performance that three neutral judges weren't about to deny him.
On paper, Malignaggi's only natural edge over Diaz would be in hand speed, but this time around he not only out-quicked the Baby Bull, but repeatedly frustrated him with a crafty game plan and an improved defense, and on those occasions when he deigned to stop and slug with the slugger, more than held his own in that department as well. Although it wasn't much of one, Malignaggi was credited with the only knockdown of the night, and didn't come close to going down himself. And if he got wobbled once or twice, he wobbled Diaz on at least half a dozen occasions.
Malignaggi set the tone as he out-boxed Diaz early, and by taking the first two rounds staked himself to a lead he would never relinquish. By the midpoint of the 12-round fray he had Diaz cut along the right eyebrow, and while that wound never really became a factor, neither was Diaz exactly encouraged by the sight of his own blood.
Mainly, though, the bout turned on Malignaggi's ability to establish a distance from which he could torment Diaz with his jab -- and from which Diaz found it extremely difficult to connect with his own.
If Malignaggi's punches are usually more annoying than genuinely troublesome, but on at least one occasion a jab from Paulie seemed to stagger Diaz, and while the Baby Bull did his level best to turn it into a slugfest, he didn't always like what happened when he did.
Malignaggi seemed so in command, in fact, that the only real danger was that his mugging and woofing -- at one point late in the fight he turned to engage the HBO broadcast table in conversation even as he dodged Diaz' furious charge -- might infuriate a couple of judges enough to turn them into Van Hoys.
The two were at close quarters in the tenth when Malignaggi lashed out with a chopping right hand that sends Diaz spinning ass over teakettle. He never did hit the deck, but his effort to stay upright either his glove hit the canvas, or came close enough to doing so that referee Geno Rodriguez thought that it had, and when the Illinois referee administered a count, it put the fight pretty much out of reach.
Rather than protect what seemed to be a rock-solid lead, Malignaggi even accommodated Diaz by engaging him toe-to-toe down the stretch. The principal result of that was that the blood was pouring from Diaz' cut at the bell.
In the end Mauro DiFiore (Illinois), Tom Miller (Ohio) and Mike Pernick (Florida) returned identical 116-111 scorecards. (TSS' scorecard had it 115-112; how Gale Van Hoy scored it from his living room back in Texas remains unlearned.)
"All I needed," said Malignaggi after the verdict was returned, "was a fair shake."
Diaz, followed by his corner men, barged straight out of the ring and into the locker room afterward, while Malignaggi, who just four months earlier had acknowledged what seemed the most likely result of the Houston fight when he said "I'm an opponent now," was talking about fighting Juan Manuel Marquez and Ricky Hatton.
He may not get either -- it would seem far more likely that they might fight each other, and that's if Hatton fights again at all -- but what he will earn by this performance is a few more high-profile HBO fights, and possibly even a crack at another world title.
"The key to this fight was staying committed to my game plan," said the former junior welterweight champion, now 27-3. "The idea was to utilize my strengths, and by keeping Diaz on the defensive so he couldn't set up to use his power."
Although he allowed himself to be drawn into more close-quarters exchanges than would have seemed prudent, Malignaggi noted that "I took his punches pretty well, even when he hit me flush."
Diaz, 26-3 after the loss, was described by Malignaggi as "a class act and a great fighter."
Less than six months after his surprise KO at the hands of Argentina's Marcos Maidana, former prospect of the year Victor Ortiz bounced back with an impressive performance that went into the books as a 7th-round TKO when his fellow Mexican Antonio Diaz (45-6-1) failed to answer the bell for that stanza.
Ortiz (25-2-1) had patiently opened up in a counterpunching mode, but was plainly annoyed when, in the second round, Diaz grabbed him in a clinch but then decided to keep punching anyway. When Ortiz wound up on the deck, although referee Gerald Scott ruled no knockdown, he got up mean, and before the round was over Diaz was sporting a gash to the bridge of his nose.
The third round brought the fight's only knockdown. As Diaz waded in to throw a one-two combination, Ortiz waved a pawing right and then drilled him with a counter straight left up the middle.
Ortiz, who for the first couple of rounds had shown his jab mainly as a decoy, began to throw it in earnest at this stage of the fight, establishing a tone of dominance that would endure through the balance of the night. In he fifth Diaz was cut above the left eye from what Scott ruled a butt, but even had the issue gone to the scorecards, Ortiz was comfortably in front.
In the sixth the blood was flowing copiously that Scott called time and invited the ringside physician up for a look-see. The doctor allowed it to continue, but over in Diaz' corner they seemed to wish he hadn't. When the bell rang for the seventh, trainer Romulo Quirarte signaled that his man wasn't coming out.
"I respect my corner's decision," said Diaz, who certainly didn't argue with it. Ortiz, who had out-landed him 97-37 while it lasted, had a whopping 23-6 connect edge over the last three minutes they fought.
It was another nice scalp for Ortiz. Diaz hasn't a lot of tread left on the tire, but this is a guy who nine and a half years ago scored back-to-back wins over Omar Weis and Mickey Ward to earn himself a title shot against Shane Mosley, and while he didn't do so well in that one, Diaz has been in with the big boys.
"I actually felt pretty rusty at first," said Ortiz. "But as the fight went on I started feeling a little more comfortable, and was able to use my jab more."
And he has, from all indications, managed to put the Maidana loss behind him.
"These things happen for a reason," said Ortiz. "It's time to move on."
The co-feature had been preceded by a ceremonial 10-count as part of a tribute to the late Francisco Rodriguez, a popular local favorite and 5-time Chicago Golden Gloves champion who died as the result of injuries incurred against Teon Kennedy in a bout at Philadelphia's Blue Horizon three weeks ago.
Former WBO 140-pound champ Randall Bailey knocked down Germaine Sanders in the first, second, and fifth rounds but was unable to put the elderly Chicagoan away and had to settle for a unanimous decision (Mike Fitzgerald 78-71, Jerry Jakubco 79-70, Patrick Morley 77-72) in their eight-round prelim. All three knockdowns came with right hands, but Bailey explained later "I hurt my [right] hand on his head" in administering the last one and had difficulty pulling the trigger thereafter. Bailey is now 40-7, Sanders 27-8.
Fighting for just the second time since his March upset at the hands of Harry Joe Yorgey and with his illustrious father watching from a ringside seat, 30-year old junior middle Ronald Hearns scored a 6th-round TKO of Kenyan Shadrack Kipruto (10-12) to advance his own pro record to 23-1.
Hearns appeared to wobble Kipruto several times in the second, and just before the conclusion of the round, stiffened him with a left and then dropped him with a short, cuffing right thrown over the top. Hearns dominated the intervening action, but it wasn't until the sixth that he put the Kenyan down again. When he did -- with a hard left hook -- Kipruto hit the canvas with such force that referee Pete Podgorski didn't even think about counting but waved it off at 2:33 of the round..
Highly touted Texas junior welter Omar Figueroa celebrated his final hours as a teenager (he would turn 20 the next day) when referee Celistino Cruz rescued outclassed Bahamian opponent Anthony Woods at 1:46 of the second. It was the 8th KO in as many pro fights for Figueroa, who still has yet to see a fourth round. Woods slips to 6-13.
Two other Texas 19 year-olds posted wins on the Chicago under card. One of them, Houstonian Jermell Charlo, interrupted a spirited battle of unbeaten welterweights with stunning (literally) second-round knockout of Abdon Lozano. Lozano, who had gone down in the opening seconds, battled his way back and was confidently swarming ahead, winging punches with both hands, when Charlo, purely in self-defense, threw a short left uppercut as he tried to keep him off him. The punch caught Lozano off balance and flipped him over backward, but he landed hard, the back of his head smashing off the canvas, and was unable to respond before Cruz had reached the count of 10 at 2:11 of the round. Charlo is now 10-0, Lozano 6-1.
The other Houston junior welter Hylon Williams Jr., posted 80-72 tallies on the scores of all three judges (Ted Gimza, William Lerch, Bulmarow Camuzano Jr,) for a unanimous decision over Mexican journeyman Humberto Tapia (14-12-1) to make his record 12-0.
Welterweight Jimmy Herrera had a memorable, if brief, pro debut, requiring just 28 seconds to stop fellow Chicagoan Gustavo Palacios (2-7), Herrera put his more experienced foe down with a furious flurry that brought the crowd to its feet, and although Palacios made it to his feet, referee John O'Brien had seen enough.
Brooklyn-based former Dominican Olympian Argenis Mendez improved to 15-1 with a unanimous, if not exactly overwhelming, decision (80-72 Fitzgerald and Morley; 78-72 Jakubco) over Kenya's Morris Chule (7-8-1).
In a 10-tounder just before the televised portion of the card, Cuban middleweight Erislandy Lara stayed perfect at 9-0 with a one-sided decision over Chicago-based Mexican Luciano Perez (17-01-1). Perez was tough as nails and very willing, but simply out of his depth; his face looked like it had been through a meat grinder by the end. Robert Heckel scored it 100-90, John McCarthy and Gary Kruse 99-91.
A pair of heavyweight bouts had opened the show. Dominick Guinn (32-6-1) won an uninspired but unanimous decision over Arizonan Charles Davis (19-18-2). McCarthy scored in a shutout at 60-54, while Heckel and Kruse had it 58-56. Earlier, Guinn's Sugar Land (Tex.) neighbor Darlington Agha (2-0) was awarded a second-round TKO when his opponent Terry Adams quit, only a second after the bell had rung to begin round two.
* * *
At IUC Pavilion
December 12, 2009
JUNIOR WELTERS: Paulie Malignaggi, 138 1/2, Brooklyn, NY dec. Juan Diaz, 138 1/2, Houston, Texas (12)
As for the fight that transpired in the ring; Malignaggi was the same fighter we saw back in August and Diaz was less than he was then. This time the fight was even easier on Malignaggi and that's not because of any adjustments or changes that he made. No, it was more due to the fact that Diaz was less aggressive and seemed almost willing to submit that he couldn't match Malignaggi's hand speed and therefore fought more measured. What a mistake that turned out to be.
It was abundantly clear from the mid point of the first round on that Malignaggi came away from their first fight certain that he could handle Diaz, where as Juan definitely harbored some doubt and trepidation in his mind as to whether or not he could handle Malignaggi and his style. On top of that he was hindered during the fight because he isn't a big enough puncher to force Malignaggi to break off the exchanges. Which is a terrible position to be in if you fight as the attacker. Imagine Joe Frazier pressing Muhammad Ali or Larry Holmes, but lacking the power to force them to run or hold once he landed his big left-hook, as Diaz couldn't when he did manage to get through and land on Paulie cleanly.
When they last met - at least Diaz pressed Malignaggi and forced him to fight and sometimes hold his ground. The problem was due to him not being able to hurt or slow Malignaggi, a lot of the exchanges were even or won by Malignaggi. However, Diaz by not really going after Malignaggi made the fight easier and less taxing on both fighter which ultimately became a monumental determent for Diaz.
Whoever instructed Diaz to stay outside and try to out-jab Malignaggi did him a huge dis-service strategically. There's no way Juan can win the fight fighting that style evidenced by the outcome and ease in which Malignaggi had winning the fight. Instead of imploring Diaz to jab, he should've been instructed to jab and then hook to the body off of his jab to get closer and in position to land his right hand. In the fourth and fifth rounds that's exactly what Diaz did by accident and what do you know; he won both rounds. Yet not once did his trainer, Ronnie Shields instruct him to hook off his jab to the body to set up his right hand?
It's barely beyond boxing 101 that when you're an attacker and you are facing an opponent who can get off better and faster with his jab than you can; you must close the distance and get inside. And one of the most fundamental ways to do that is to hook off of the jab to the opponents body. Because the fighter throwing the hook must step to the opponent. And when he does that, the fighter who's facing the incoming left-hook must address it by trying to block it, move or fire back. And all three options aide the attacker and force the "boxer" out of his comfort zone. Sadly, Juan Diaz only used his left-hook to set up his right hand and close the distance between he and Malignaggi a few times during their rematch; and even then it seemed as though it was more by accident than it was a thought-out and planned strategy.
Another flub by the Diaz corner was instructing Juan to just move his head and take the seventh round off after Malignaggi shook him late in the sixth round. Once Malignaggi sensed, and he did, that Diaz had reservation about trading and initiating the exchanges, he fed off of that and mocked Diaz during the later rounds because he felt so completely in control.
When all was said and done, Malignaggi fought the only fight he could in order for him to win. And that's by moving and boxing while getting off with his quicker hands and combination's. Only this time he didn't have to move as much laterally because Diaz was trying to win a jabbing contest instead of putting any real heat on him. So if you didn't care for the fight and weren't as entertained by it as much as you were their first fight, that's Diaz's fault. His job was to go out and not let Malignaggi pick his spots and force him to fight out of urgency instead of complacency and he didn't.
After two fights between Paulie Malignaggi and Juan Diaz, they're officially 1-1. But inside the ring Malignaggi is 2-0 and has won 14 or 15 of the 24 rounds they've fought. And Juan Diaz looks to be a fighter on the decline who's lost confidence and no longer fights with the same zeal applying bell-to-bell pressure as he once did.
Diaz's people made a mistake the minute they let him be shamed into taking a rematch he was unlikely to win. He got a gift win the first time around; it was dumb to tempt fate by trying it again. And look what he's done to himself now: he's no longer in the mix for anything significant. Bad training, bad strategizing, bad management.
The card was a major event in the intellectually partying, medieval magicland where Albert Einstein formulated his theories on relativity which involved energy, time and movement. Too bad Johnson's lack of effort was in no way equal to Klitschko's offensive energy, misdirected as it often was.
"This was the most difficult boxing match I've had since I came back," reflected a scuffed up WBC titlist Klitschko, now 39-2 (37). "I wanted to knock him out, and I always tried to, but I couldn't hit him correctly because he was moving away too fast. It is difficult to fight someone who doesn't want to trade punches."
A sold out PostFinance Arena of around 17,000 vocal boxing fans, including a huge standing room area, stayed rowdy almost all night. It says something about the quality of the main event's action that just about the only down time all night came during those middle frames.
Ticket prices were listed from around 60 to 2,000 Swiss Francs, which exchanges to approximately 43 to 1,500 US bucks. People in each price range deserved a bit more bang for whatever the dollar from Johnson, 22-1-1 (9), who did an excellent job cranking up the wonderfully well-heeled town but couldn't seem to find the energy once the bell rang.
Einstein's research on the "electrodynamics of moving bodies" also lead to his Light Quantum Hypothesis, which subsequently earned him the Nobel Prize. Unfortunately Johnson was nothing like the sweet scientist he claimed to be. There was much movement, but little of it was dynamic and Johnson, 242 1/2, may have let a real opportunity against a sub-par Klitschko, 247, slip into the chilly dawn.
Basically, some of Dr. Albert's proofs provided evidence about perceptual experience. The equation Johnson offered at the postfight press conference showed how abstract miscalculations can stray as he attempted to make the best of a dismal showing.
Actually, hearing Johnson talk as if he had scored his predicted KO was laughable.
"If he's still here we're going to fight again after I polish some things up," said the generally unmarked Johnson with a straight face. "In the first two rounds I knew I could break him down. But I had a technical injury to my elbow that stopped me from being able to throw my best punches. My biggest thing is I didn't want to quit. You're not a champion unless you alter your game plan. I didn't tell my trainers about my injuries because I didn't want them to get panicked. That was that."
Mauling math wise it seemed absurd to award Johnson even one round, based on his survival mode tactics, on the 119-109 card by judge Guido Cavalleri. Fabian Guggenheim and Omar Mintum agreed at 120 -108.
That said, Johnson did often succeed at making Klitschko look pretty sloppy. Referee Kenny Bayless had to pry them apart or redirect from many awkward angles.
As the fight began, both well-conditioned men leaned back at the hip and tried to adjust to ranges of negative space. It was many minutes before any serious thumps connected. Klitschko's arms looked much longer than his listed 2-inch reach advantage.
Eventually, Klitschko stepped down on his punches and threw some decent body-head combinations. Johnson remained in a very defensive posture, sometimes leaning back over the ropes as if he were attempting a limbo dance.
Finally, in the 4th frame, Johnson started to jump off the strands with counterpunches. Klitschko kept following but never really cut the ring completely off. Klitschko was marked around both eyes by the fifth from far less than a fierce firefight.
By the sixth session, Johnson was countering effectively but not consistently enough to earn extra points.
In the 7th, Johnson started to show the effects of Klitschko's powerful pressure as the crowd urged Klitschko on. Klitschko kept Johnson off-balance with straight-armed heavy leather, but the champion also missed a lot and Johnson never failed to wriggle out of danger.
The US visitor did a good job with evasive head movement, and if they gave rounds for rolling with the punches he coulda hadda shot. Johnson shook his head with mock disgust after what clean punches Klitschko did land and gave Klitschko more verbal abuse than stinging shots.
Klitschko continued to gain leverage if not complete accuracy. By the stretch it looked like Johnson was just in there to go the distance.
Klitschko trapped him against the ropes better than tonight's usual in the 10th and the restless swarm revived, but the truth is Johnson probably could have lasted 20 rounds or more.
Klitschko continued to widen his lead and the open scoring announcements just about sucked any anticipation from the hall. Not that the near shutout was any surprise at any point.
Klitschko trapped Johnson in a corner in the 11th and landed dozens of grazing gloves to close the show that made the customers satisfied. Johnson staggered just before the final bell, but never looked hurt very much. Translate that to he should have fought harder after such a long trip and so many promises.
TSS gave Klitschko every round, but took a point from each man for failing to deliver on knockout promises, which resulted in a score of 119-107 for the suddenly more vulnerable looking Klitschko.
"I really wanted to hurt him," said Klitschko, without visible emotion but obviously contemplative. "If the fight was a little bit longer I would have destroyed him. I came to fight but Johnson came to run away."
"It's all right," insisted Johnson. "I did what no other fighter has been able to do for a long time, and go the distance. I'm not a quitter."
"I would have preferred a busier fight," said Klitschko trainer Fritz Sudnek, "But it was good that Vitali was so aggressive at the end. I was happy with the last of the fight."
In Switzerland, the locals have always shown me they possess a very positive spirit whatever the circumstances. A large crowd remained outside the arena despite temperatures in the low 20s fahrenheit, and there were no sings of disappointment over the dukes or lack of.
Klitschko did look ripe for the taking tonight. If he was in there with Eddie Chambers, set to meet brother Wladimir this spring, there might have been a whole different experiment.
For now, Klitschko heads into the hearty holiday season here with another notch on his rumbling resume. The most probable scenario down the line at this point is a September meeting with Ray Austin according to team Klitschko. Gravity did not shift with that discussion.
On the way home on a bulging bus at 3am, the last of tonight's Klitschko faithful had turned massive, connected coaches into the guts of a giant snake that was wrapped in swill soaked Ukrainian flags and sang along the light-snow-touched streets.
One chap had a bit too much of the party juice and threw up as the pack groaned and jumped away from the splatter. Then the bus pulled over and waited to let the guy vomit up whatever was left in his belly. Very civilized.
That's about what Johnson did. He puked on the Klitschko express.
The ride goes on.
Ultimately, Klitschko remained successful and content, and maintained his open, engaging demeanor as always. He acknowledged that a fight against David Haye was the biggest future step to be taken.
"I already said it would be very interesting to fight Haye in 2010," said Klitschko. "Actually, after he fights John Ruiz, and if he beats him, let's see. I wish Haye good luck. We all know it's very difficult to make negotiations with him. As I have repeated, (I'm ready) anytime."
Advice to Johnson is pull off the curb and get back in the fast lane, or quit honking your horn.
As for Vitali, he is a much more worldly citizen and better educated than most of us, but it doesn't take a genius to see that tonight's battle plan and execution add up to a weak formula for legacy or longevity.
The New Yorker showed as much confidence in a Chicago ring on Saturday night as he did promising he'd erase the doubts lingering after he got the short of it from the judges the first time he and Diaz clashed, in Texas in August. His ring generalship made up for his lack of punching power, as he darted and scooted away from Diaz after popping him with everything from his speedy arsenal. But still, the judges held the fate of the fighters in their hands after twelve hard rounds.
This time, there was no need for a post-fight diatribe from Paulie, no after fight meltdown, because the scores came back his way, 116-111 times three.
DiFiore, Miller, and Pernick liked his brand of the sweet science. "I gotta say I told you so," Paulie said after, and then blasted all the "haters" for writing him off last year.
Harold Lederman gave it to Paulie, 115-112. Paulie was the busier, 169-802 to 146-516, making it that much easier for the arbiters viewing the junior welter clash.
Paulie told Max Kellerman he'd like Juan Manuel Marquez, with the winner to meet Ricky Hatton. "I'll beat Ricky easy," he said.
Diaz came in 35-2, and pretty sure he'd be more aggressive, and more accurate and would make his power pay off this time around. Paulie came in 26-3, even more sure that he had the style edge, that Diaz' aggressiveness would be of the ineffective sort, because his movement would make the Texan look comparatively plodding.
Paulie scored a knockdown with a cuffing right, behind the head, in the tenth. Diaz' glove scraped the mat.
Victor Ortiz answered some questions, from himself and from fans. He said no mas to Marcos Maidana in his last fight, and we wondered if he was cut out for this. He showed vet Antonio Diaz he is, stopping him in the sixth, from a bad cut. He sent Diaz down in the third as well.