THRU HOCH'S EYES: On Manny-Bradley, Rigo, Bailey-Jones

Bradley Pacquiao 120609 005aThe hurt feet are a solid mitigator, but Hoch still didn't think Bradley did CLOSE enough to even eke out a draw. (Chris Farina-Top Rank photo)

Caveat: I watched this card at a bar so I didn’t have the liberty to see any of these fights a second time or truly break down any of the fights. These are all relatively real-time opinions.

Caveat Two: I won’t even discuss the ridiculous decision of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight in this column as it deserves its own write-up and I’d rather talk boxing than conspiracy theories. Needless to say, it’s not good for boxing. We frequently hear that putrid decisions like this are ‘black eyes’ for the sport. While this is true, the sport goes on. Very little (other than the poor guys on the wrong end of bad decisions like a Carlos Molina) is actually affected. This is a unique case. This decision was so egregious and it literally sets the sport back years. While the UFC is gaining momentum and boxing is struggling to remain mainstream, we need fights like Pacquiao-Floyd or Pacquiao-Marquez 4 to retain the average fan’s attention. This fight literally sets the sport back as Bradley and Pacquiao will likely have a rematch to settle this. Manny doesn’t have an infinite amount of fights left, and this could really be a tragic waste of energy (see: brain cells) at the very end of Manny’s prime. I guess I did discuss it, but I’ll leave it at that.

Guillermo Rigondeaux-Teon Kennedy notes:

* For my sanity’s sake, let’s just call him Rigo. Rigo is incredible. For lack of a better term, Rigo was perfect in dissecting and destroying Teon Kennedy (who is not exactly a pushover). Rigo saw every punch that Kennedy threw coming and tactfully moved out of harm’s way in what was truly a defensive masterpiece. It was a lesson for young fighters in the art of hitting without getting hit. Not exaggerating, I can’t confirm that Rigo took a single clean punch.This fight was over before it started, and it looked so one-sided and displayed such a talent discrepancy that it looked like an amateur against a professional in a sparring session. This fight was not just lopsided, it was a total mismatch. Even in such a dominant KO victory, Rigo did not look as much electrifying as he did wildly effective. His machine-like efficiency is a terrifying prospect for the division.

* Rigo looks like Floyd the way he fights. His accuracy, efficiency, and ability to technically dominate his opponent with such ease are simply not seen elsewhere.

* Bring on Broner. Let’s not wait for a build-up like Arum tried with Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamoba… let’s just make the fight.The longer fights are left to marinate, the more they have the opportunity to lose their respective luster like the aforementioned Lopez-Gamboa fight. For that matter, I’d love to see Gamboa-Rigo, too. Maybe it’s a chance for Orlando Salido to pull another upset? Either way, if Rigo can fight at 130, there’s no shortage of great fights for him. Filipino flash? Count me in for that matchup! Rigo has a big future, and at 31, the time is now to make these fights.

* This display of skills really makes you wonder- where would his career be if he wasn’t an amateur in Cuba so long? PPV King? Doubtful due to his style/size, but I don’t think it’s that far off.

Randall Bailey-Mike Jones notes:

* This fight went just as I expected… Mike Jones looked fairly dominant against an older, slower fighter in Randall Bailey (despite not looking all that great in general), but Bailey’s right hand would eventually have its say in the fight. They say power is the last thing to go in a fighter, and Randall Bailey’s right hand has long been one of the hardest punches in the entire sport. Story checks out on that.

* Mike Jones’ prospect label has fizzled the last few years and even if he won this fight that he was clearly leading thru 10, he wouldn’t have done much to up his stock. He backs up too much, doesn’t really let his hands go, and doesn’t have the natural flow between defense and offense that is integral to beating great opponents. He’s either covering up playing defense or firing off pre-conceived combinations that lack creativity. The flow between the two is simply not there. Jones is mildly explosive, but he doesn’t ever make me feel that a great trainer could make him a killer. I mean really, what title holder would you expect/pick him to beat? Still thinking…?

* As the 11thround was starting, I had written in my notes that Mike Jones has proved he’s better than Randall Bailey, but so what? What does proving to be better than a 37-year old gate keeper do to your career if you don’t look exceptional? I had also written that Bailey wasted an opportunity or two when he had Jones hurt by not throwing more punches. And then Bailey dropped the hammer! Boom went the dynamite.

* Bailey’s KO was vicious. Jones was not just knocked down, but literally knocked backwards by the thunderous right hand. It’s extremely rare that you see a fighter actually knocked down and backwards by a punch’s power alone. This comeback KO is what makes boxing the most exciting sport in the world (won’t even get into the suspense of judges’ scorecards). There are no 5-run HR’s in baseball, and there are no 5-point plays in basketball. However, when being blown out for every second of a fight, the omnipresent plausibility of a knockout that can come at any time keeps fight fans engaged until the final bell. Props to Bailey for staying composed and continuing to swing for the fences while losing a fight handily. None of this makes up for Bailey’s pre-fight attire.

Jorge Arce notes

* For all that Jorge Arce is and is not, I just love watching him fight. You know you’re in for a fun fight when he’s involved, so the awkward end to his match was really unfortunate. You could tell just a few minutes into the fight that we were in for a hell of a scrap as both fighters were fighting in tight and landing with authority. I didn’t hear the post-fight interview, but I hope Arce is okay and that both fighters want a rematch. Sign me up as interested in watching it.

Main Event: Pacquiao v. Bradley notes:

* As previously stated, I will not be diving into the absurdity that was this fight’s official decision since the entire boxing world saw that Manny won the fight. For the record, I scored the fight 11-1 for Manny with 2 rounds that could have conceivably been scored for Bradley. Anything more than 4 rounds for Bradley is laughable.

* It was interesting to see that neither guy really cut weight for this 147-lb contest. Neither fighter put on more than 3 lbs after the weigh-in. I’ve always said that weigh-ins should be the day of the fight because a fighter shouldn’t have a competitive advantage in a prize fight because they’re better at cutting weight (I also think cutting weight is dangerous).

* One thing I found interesting watching this fight in a bar by my home in Chicago was that the same bar is usually 10x more packed for UFC PPV events which happen far more frequently. Given the Heat-Celtics game 7 was right before, I expected the bar to be very crowded. It could have been a one-time thing, and it could be a regional thing (maybe Chicago is a big UFC town), but I just found it noteworthy. I digress.

* As far as the actual fight, I thought it went as most expected. What stood out to me was that Manny was faster. His left hand was getting through and Bradley’s right hands were simply not as fast.Manny looked to be in fine form and I still think he beats Floyd Mayweather due to the way their styles match up. While I think Manny definitely missed some punches he usually lands, he still looked a class above an undefeated fighter in Timothy Bradley. Take nothing away from Bradley as he fought through a rolled ankle (and apparently a broken foot) and withstood some very heavy shots from Pacquiao. He continued to try to win the fight until the final bell, but he was simply outgunned as he could not quite match the accuracy, sublime movement, speed and power to keep up with Manny.

* The exchanges were the determining factor of the fight as Bradley instinctually obliged Manny in power-punching exchanges even though he did not once get the better end of them. I figured this would be why Manny would win since Bradley tends to throw loopy punches when firing combinations, but I was impressed with Bradley’s determination.

* The fight did not have too many ebbs and flows as Bradley couldn’t really cut off the ring (broken foot is a fair excuse, I suppose) or take away Manny’s left hand. It was clear to me thru just two rounds that Manny would be controlling the fight if Bradley didn’t drastically alter his approach. He did not. The fight carried on with consistency as Manny out-landed Bradley and also landed the harder punches throughout.

* Jim Lampley, as he always does (because he’s by far the best in the business), said it best: Manny’s punches were moving Timothy Bradley. Whenever Manny landed big shots, Bradley was literally moved backwards or sideways from the punches’ impact. Lampley really doesn’t get enough credit for all of the incredibly astute observations he makes in real-time. He often doesn’t have the liberty to let his thoughts marinate before spitting out incredibly poignant insights with historical context.

* By the time the seventh round ended, the fight was all but over. Bradley was losing wherever the fight was going and he couldn’t mount any significant offense. Manny was simply on cruise control. Bradley’s only hope (it appeared) would be a knockout, or at least a knockdown, but the one knock on Timothy Bradley is that he doesn’t have much power. Bradley is no Randall Bailey in the power department. Factor in Manny’s historically strong chin, and Bradley was just about out of options.

* As the 12thround ended, I closed my tab at the bar and was stumbling to bathroom when I heard the first scorecard read as 115-113 Pacquiao. I stopped dead in my tracks. For one, I couldn’t believe an OFFICIAL judge has the ineptitude to score the fight so close, but I also knew that they only announce cards with a winner’s name in a split decision. I was stunned. Hearing that Bradley won the fight left me (and the entire bar) in genuine shock.I still can’t believe it.

* Not to sound like a broken record, but the fight between Manny and Floyd has to happen now. Like right now. The Bradley rematch should be put on ice, and (God willing) Manny should do whatever needs to be done at the negotiation table to make the fight while he can still win it. Neither guy is truly in their prime anymore, but they’re both close enough to their respective primes that we’d still be seeing who the better man is. We’d see an exciting, fan-friendly fight. Lastly, we’d see it while it still matters.

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