As I’ve noted in recent columns, I started a new job last month, and the workload is staggering. I don’t have time to shave more than once a week, I barely have time to wipe my hindquarters properly (if the workload gets any heavier, I’m going to have to sacrifice that one), and sadly, I don’t have time for my usual 3,500-word pay-per-view running diaries. So we’re going with a modified version—same vibe, less comprehensive, fewer words. It’s a top-10 list, focusing on topics of conversation between me, future Hall of Famer Nigel Collins, and semi-retired boxing writer Bill Dettloff at my Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito II pay-per-view party this past Saturday night. In approximately chronological order, here we go:
1. “Mediocre Mike”
Back in 2009, when Mike Jones couldn’t land a date on HBO or its pay-per-view arm, a legend was spreading about one of boxing’s brightest prospects, a young fighter the major networks were crazy to ignore. Saturday’s fight against Sebastian Lujan provided the latest bit of evidence that the reality doesn’t live up to the legend. As Jones worked his way to a credible but forgettable decision win over Lujan, Nigel dubbed him “Mediocre Mike,” which sounds about right to me. Just because a guy looks the part, that doesn’t mean he can play it. Jones is a solid boxer, a worthy top-10 contender, but he’s not showing me anything to suggest he’ll ever be a star. If the PPV watchers are spending more time marveling over how much your opponent looks like a tattoo-less Cotto than talking about you, that’s not a good sign.
2. Mrs. Cotto’s cleavage
When you see excessive cleavage in person, as Jerry and George taught us, you glance quickly and then you look away. A poke means a peek. But when you’re watching it on TV, you can go ahead and stare at the sun as long as you want. And you can definitely feel free to make crass remarks with your buddies. Melissa Cotto chose to display her assets very prominently, so we chose to ogle, insult, and eventually throw her into a game of “[Expletive], Marry, Kill” with Margarito’s wife and Jinkee Pacquiao. Sorry, Mrs. Cotto, that’s what you get when you show up for the fights dressed like you’re on call to feed newborn quadruplets.
3. Commentators wrapped up
I’m not going to disparage the broadcast crew of Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman, and Emanuel Steward; they were just doing their jobs by reporting throughout the night on the various New York State Athletic Commission-induced stupidities going on behind the scenes. The HBO cameras got great footage of what felt like a terrible pre-match pro wrestling skit, with some commission yutz hilariously referencing “Naazim whatever his name is.” And Steward made a very astute point a short while later about how closely Margarito was watching Robert Garcia wrap his hands, implying that if Javier Capetillo ever put anything in his wraps, Margarito would damned sure know about it. Unfortunately, while all of this was going on, there was an entertaining, hard-fought battle going on in the ring between Delvin Rodriguez and Pawel Wolak, and the commentators were missing key moments as they talked endlessly about hand-wrap-related topics. I’m not sure exactly how they were supposed to balance everything. I don’t have all the answers. I just know that in my living room, there were three frustrated fight fans trying to, you know, watch a fight.
4. Dettloff’s Duds
Bill strolled into my house determined to redefine 21st century fight-watching fashion, strutting down the interior hallway/catwalk sporting the look known as “Freddie Roach On The Top / Gary Shaw On The Bottom.” (Please, no jokes about preferred bedroom positions, okay?) Bill was sporting his self-styled “nerd glasses,” and with his hair having pretty much completed the transformation from reddish-blond to whitish-blond, he was a dead ringer for Coach Roach from the neck up. But from the neck down, he was comfortable as can be in a Sweatsedo. Bill doesn’t have Shaw’s physique, mind you. But with hard work behind the fork and knife, he can get there.
5. “Power Warlock”
Credit to regular reader and podcast listener (and occasional live-fight press-row stalker) Corey Lambert for tweeting this Atlas-ism to us during the Rodriguez-Wolak fight, reminding us of Teddy’s unintentional nickname for the Polish-American slugger. Probably the most enjoyable part of watching this solid action fight was during the final three minutes, when my Ring Theory “Quick Picks” competition with Bill sparked impassioned rooting. Bill wanted Wolak to last the distance and lose a decision; I could have been helped by Rodriguez getting the stoppage. It looked like it might come, but alas, Wolak held on and heard the final bell. I am now one point behind after 11-plus months of picking fights. It’s going to be a thrilling December. And I say that with both extreme seriousness (for me, Bill, and our devoted listeners) and extreme sarcasm (for the rest of the boxing world that wishes I would shut up about Quick Picks already).
6. Buffer loves him some Buffer
I’d never noticed this before (someone on Twitter claimed he’d done it at last month’s Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight too), but Michael Buffer is now reading off of index cards with a picture on the back of, you guessed it, Michael Buffer. Thank goodness the International Boxing Hall of Fame threw Buffer that bone this week and announced his impending induction. He desperately needed the boost to his flagging self-esteem.
7. A fine time for a photo op or phone call
I don’t know about you, but when I’m 45 minutes away from one of the most important—and physically perilous—moments of my career, and I’m trying to warm up and get in the zone for it, that’s probably not the best time for random photo ops and phone chats. Come see me three hours before the fight. Or after it’s over. But not when I’m finishing my final preparations. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Carmelo Anthony. And you, Swizz Beatz, you apparently famous hip-hop industry person whom I’d never heard of prior to Saturday night. And you, first lady of Mexico, whatever your name is. That Cotto and Margarito had to take breaks in the final hour before the fight for public-relations opportunities says sad things about the respect boxers are afforded and/or the lack of consideration for others from our celebrities.
8. Darchinyan defeats Rios
That little headline probably makes no sense whatsoever to you, so allow me to explain: While the rehydrated and revived corpse of Brandon Rios was putting the finishing touches on a bloody John Murray live on the big screen in front of us, Nigel, Bill, and I allowed ourselves to be distracted by the images on the computer screen on my lap, which showed Vic Darchinyan on a French game show, dressed as a mouse, running for his life in some sort of a showdown with a live bull. Nothing against the Rios-Murray fight, but this wasn’t even a contest. Vic nearly getting gored and hiding inside a giant fake wedge of cheese wins the battle for our attention every time.
9. A very braid-y Margarito
Dettloff isn’t the only one whose stylistic choices went under the microscope on Saturday night. Much discussion was also devoted to Margarito’s decision to take his long, douchey hair and put it in little, douchey braids. The verdict: No matter what he does, Margarito looks like a douche. But at least his hair didn’t get in his eyes during the fight.
10. “Just to look at him and taste my victory on him”
The Cotto-Margarito fight was fairly entertaining (if not nearly as thrilling and dramatic as their first fight) and, on the whole, satisfying. But what really stood out was Cotto’s postfight interview with Max Kellerman, where the Puerto Rican hero took advantage of the right, which he had fully earned, to be somewhat smug. When asked why he walked over to Margarito’s corner afterward, Cotto responded with the quote above. Unfortunately, the victory was mildly tainted, from my perspective. In the third round, Margarito’s surgically “repaired” right eye swelled shut, and that affected his ability to fight with Cotto on even terms. I’m not saying Cotto wouldn’t have won the fight regardless, but I’m just saying his victory was aided by his opponent’s compromised state entering the fight. And on top of that, the stoppage was somewhat debatable; certainly, Margarito was willing to fight on. Then again, if not for the controversy over the stoppage, we wouldn’t have had the pleasure of a postfight interview with a ringside doctor who seemed like a Christopher Guest character in a mockumentary, complete with turtleneck and tweed blazer. (Hey, Dettloff, I think we’ve found your look for the next pay-per-view party.)
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?