We've reached the point where unless Wlad announces that he is fighting Vitali, the boxing world responds with a yawn.
For those readers who are tired of me referencing the Philadelphia sports scene in my boxing column, good news: Youâ€™ll be getting a reprieve until April. The Philliesâ€™ season ended in disaster on Friday, the Eaglesâ€™ season effectively ended on Sunday (although you could argue that it was killed, just like the previous 12 seasons, back when Andy Reid was first hired in 1999), and I lost the patience to follow regular-season hockey about 10 years ago. So I have no emotional investment in any professional sports for the next six months.
Boxingâ€™s detractors can detract all they want, but itâ€™s a sport that gives its fans something to look forward to almost every single week of the year, and you donâ€™t have to worry about â€śyour teamâ€ť being in the playoff hunt to keep you interested. Even in a slow week like the one that just concluded, thereâ€™s still enough going on to warrant some Rants. But before we get to those, Iâ€™ll answer two quick emails following up on a couple of topics left over from last week.
The Marquez-Pacquiao Face Off was just horrible, but considering how the fights of some of the good ones they did turned outâ€”Hopkins-Pascal, Klitschko-Haye, Mayweather-Ortizâ€”this might actually be a good omen.
â€”Steve The Greek
You know I love you (to the extent that a boxing writer can love a mailbag contributor), but I disagree with you on a couple of fronts here. First, I wouldnâ€™t say the Pacquiao-Marquez Face Off was â€śhorribleâ€ť; it was the worst in the series so far, but it was by no means an unwatchable 12 minutes of television.
Second, I thought Hopkins-Pascal II and Mayweather-Ortiz were both entertaining fights. Neither one was a Fight of the Year candidate, of course. But Hopkins-Pascal featured pockets of excellent action, the stirring intrigue of Hopkins chasing history, and, of course, The Push-Ups. And Mayweather-Ortiz was the most memorable fight Mayweather has been in since rising above lightweight, it ended with a contender for Knockout of the Year, and it gave us Larry Merchantâ€™s â€śI wish I was 50 years youngerâ€ť moment.
Iâ€™ll grant you Klitschko vs. Haye. That was a very good Face Off and a fairly abysmal fight. But otherwise, I donâ€™t see anything to suggest the quality of the fight is inversely proportional to the quality of the Face Off.
Hi Ya Eric,
Whatâ€™s the deal with the boxing press jumping all over Sergio Martinez for not blasting out Darren Barker in a couple of rounds and instead of saying what a good fight it was and how well Barker fought, they have jumped all over Martinez? What gives? He fought through a broken nose and a tough, skilled opponent to kayo him in the championship rounds, whatâ€™s wrong with that? Some people are just never satisfied, I guess. And a perfect example of whatâ€™s wrong with boxing, Tony Thompson-Eddie Chambers gets a Showtime date while Marquez-Concepcion II doesnâ€™t. Thatâ€™s just wrong on so many levels.
Good to hear from another one of my regular mailbag pals. And unlike my buddy Steve The Greek, I think your observations are pretty well on point. Martinez wasnâ€™t at his best, but that was partially because Barker turned out not to be Gary Lockett 2.0. Barker proved himself worthy of a top-10 middleweight ranking. And Martinez showed that even on an off-night, he can still get the job done inside the distance. He took heat anyway, and thatâ€™s precisely the problem with a star fighter facing a relative unknown: You take heat if you struggle against him, whereas if you blow him out like youâ€™re expected to, you take heat for facing a bum. In my opinion, Martinez deserves no heat right now.
As for your point about which fight gets a Showtime date, I feel your frustration, but you canâ€™t blame Showtime at all. Marquez-Concepcion II is in Mexico and is scheduled for the same date on which the Super Six finals were supposed to occur. It wouldnâ€™t have made any sense for the network to make a play for that fight, as spectacular as the first Marquez-Concepcion bout was. And Chambers-Thompson doesnâ€™t excite anyone, but at least itâ€™s an even fight on paper. I donâ€™t have a problem with them spending a few ShoBox shekels on that one. I just reserve the right to watch it the following morning on DVR and get my fast-forwarding finger ready, then be prepared to fire up Marquez-Concepcion on YouTube the next morning.
Okay, letâ€™s shift the focus from last weekâ€™s news to this weekâ€™s with some Rants:
--So, which just-announced heavyweight fight has you less excited: Kimbo Slice vs. Tay Bledsoe or Wladimir Klitschko vs. Jean-Marc Mormeck? In announcing the latter fight on his website, Klitschko said, â€śMormeck is one of the most experienced fighters I have ever faced.â€ť If thatâ€™s the best you can do to hype a fight, itâ€™s probably a fight that can not be hyped. (For what itâ€™s worth, Bledsoe is the most experienced opponent Slice has ever faced in the boxing ring. Weâ€™ll see if Kimbo uses that fact to try to sell the fight.)
--I understand that boxers are instructed to always raise their hands as the scorecards are being read, so that they donâ€™t appear surprised if they get a close decision and so that they can claim robbery if they donâ€™t get it. Still, Raul Martinez needs to work a little common sense into the equation. When his fight on Saturday against Rodrigo Guerrero went to a technical decision after six rounds, and the fight featured Martinez suffering a hard knockdown in the third round, once a 59-54 scorecard was read, it was time to stop pretending he thought the decision was going his way. And, no, Iâ€™m not accepting six rounds of getting hit in the head as an excuse for Martinezâ€™s mind not be perfectly attuned to the mathematics of the situation.
--Hey, Sharif Bogere, whatâ€™s with all the postfight crying? Even Acelino Freitas was calling you a bitch as he watched that.
--No matter how busy you are, this video of all of the Ring magazine Knockout of the Year winners from 1989-2010 is well worth 15 minutes of your time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4DiqpQ2HxE. (Credit to Tim Starks on the Queensberry Rules blog for bringing this gem to my attention.)
--I wasnâ€™t affected one way or the other by the news of Al Davisâ€™ death over the weekend. I was, however, deeply traumatized by ESPN replaying Ice Cubeâ€™s horrible Raiders/rap documentary as a result.
--ESPN The Magazineâ€™s â€śBody Issueâ€ť defines Sergio Martinez not as â€śmiddleweight champion of the worldâ€ť or â€ślineal middleweight champ,â€ť but as â€śWBC Diamond middleweight champ.â€ť Here I was thinking Martinez was the one true middleweight king, but I guess I shouldnâ€™t recognize him as such until heâ€™s unified with the sapphire champ and the aquamarine titleholder.
--I have an entire column later this week devoted to my opinion on a particular fighterâ€™s International Boxing Hall of Fame candidacy, but hereâ€™s my quick take on some of the non-participants on the ballot for the first time: I think Al Bernstein deserves to go into the Hall immediately (and not just because heâ€™s made two fantastic guest appearances on Ring Theory, although that doesnâ€™t hurt); Freddie Roach will definitely go in eventually but this feels a couple of years too soon to me, as heâ€™s still somewhat of an ascendant star; and though I mock him with regularity, Michael Buffer certainly belongs in there if any ring announcer does.
--The good news about Kell Brook taking care of business against Rafal Jackiewicz so spectacularly: Thereâ€™s a new player in the welterweight division. The bad news about it: Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather each just added a name to the list of opponents they can face instead of facing each other.
--If youâ€™ve ever said to yourself, â€śWhy donâ€™t more interviewers ask Bernard Hopkins about his wifeâ€™s marital-aid collection?â€ť then youâ€™ll want to check out the latest episode of Ring Theory (http://ringtheory.podbean.com), on which B-Hop joined me and Bill Dettloff to discuss Chad Dawson, Jean Pascal, and, apparently, some less conventional topics. Also, keep an eye out later this week for a special Grantland Network edition of Ring Theory, on which Bill and I will provide our own in-depth analysis of Mrs. Hopkinsâ€™ marital-aid collection and speculate on how it would fare in a matchup with Chad Dawsonâ€™s wifeâ€™s battery-operated friends.
Eric Raskin can be contacted at RaskinBoxing@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin and listen to new episodes of his podcast, Ring Theory, at http://ringtheory.podbean.com.