The Gift Media

 

Rahat Haque - The Gift Media

** Rahat goes by the name TheGiftedMedia in the Talkin Boxing With Billy C Show’s chatroom. He is a self -proclaimed boxing scoring addict and scores every fight on his blackberry with the utmost attention.
 

 

 

 

 

 

The State of Boxing Business and What it means for Golovkin
By: Rahat "The Gift Media" Haque - October 30, 2016


The business of boxing is still heavily dependent on the (Pay per view) PPV model to generate money. It remains the biggest cash cow of a promoter. Fighters are always innovating the business side of the sport; many are founding their own gyms, creating their own promotional companies, and personalizing the role between the manager and the fighters. Basically, attempting to have more control over the different stages of the boxing vertical to benefit from good deals at each of those stages. This is all good, but it doesn’t increase the total revenue generated from the sport, but only ensure that the profitability of the fighter is maximized. But to break through the ceiling and generate unprecedented amounts of income, you need to sell. And doing good numbers in the PPV market is the best way to do that. At least for now. Even BoxNation who has a subscription based model, is now getting ready to introduce a PPV model for certain fights which non-subscribers have to pay a certain amount to watch. The other big UK channel for boxing, Sky Sports, and two American boxing premium boxing carriers HBO and ShowTime are all already PPV distributors. Besides PPV however, there is a case to be made for ratings. For non PPV events, if you are bringing in a significant amount of people in front of their TV screens, you may make the case that people are interested in the event, but are not in accordance with the pricing strategy. Such was the case when the NBC televised bout between Errol Spence Jr and Leonard Bundu got a 4.6 rating, which translated to 6 million viewers. It is not uncommon for HBO to get a million viewers at peak time, a statistic they are not happy with by the way, because they feel they can do better. So getting good ratings is much easier than generating PPV numbers. Yet it seems fighters and promoters don’t value getting seen by as many people as much as they do about people paying per view. And the reason for this is precisely what I highlighted in the beginning of this article: that is, nothing generates more money than PPV if sold in high enough numbers. And doing well in the PPV box office matters because of one gentleman, Floyd Mayweather, who has perhaps altered the boxing scene forever with his incessant boasting of being the best PPV draw. Now if a fighter doesn’t do sell well, he isn’t deemed a big enough star to carry significant leverage. Even if he is an excellent fighter who keeps upping the level of competition, the green boxing fan (which there are a lot of, as the sport gains popularity) sees him as a loser who is making demands without having any sort of leverage. This is a real problem, and it is perhaps best exhibited in one Gennady Golovkin, aka, GGG.


His last pay per view reportedly did not meet expectations. But if you take money out of the equation, he has almost cleaned out his division which many fighters don’t do in this era of boxing. To get a more favorable match up, they tend to hover around their weight class. But I really admire a boxer who stays long enough in one division to make it his own. How else are we supposed to know who the man at a certain weight class is, if he does not stay in it long enough to take on all newcomers? I understand the concept of moving up in weight as some legends have done so in the past to cement their legacy. But in this era, how do we even progress to that stage when fighters are not even clearing out their division first before moving up or going down? GGG is a rarity in that he has totally dominated his weight class. Only two guys remain whom he can fight, i.e., Danny Jacobs and Peter Quillin. There are no other legit fights for him at 160, and perhaps if he beats the two aforementioned fighters, he will move up. But the point is GGG has done everything right up to this point. He fought everybody, and he fought regularly. He is undefeated at 36 fights with a 22 KO streak. But there are shortcomings in GGG’s camp that has held him back from being a PPV star yet. I have identified at least three of them, which I hope his team addresses, because if it is anyone more worthy of being a commercial success, it is GGG.


1)    Be more instigative: Controversy sells, but GGG and his team always take the high road. Gennady’s manager Abel Sanchez, sometimes speaks his mind on radio interviews, but even that is done in a very gentlemanly manner. GGG’s KO streak is longer than Mike Tyson’s. But he isn’t as crazy and instigative as Tyson to have as many eyeballs on him at all times. I kind of wish he did. Because if boxing is a business, I think you owe it to your stakeholders to generate as much attention as you can, however you can, without doing anything illegal.

2)    Explore fighting on non premium channels: As highlighted in this article before, channels such as CBS, NBC and Spike have admirable ratings, which sometimes outright beat HBO and Showtime. The ability and willingness to pay for PPV or higher subscription fees for HBO and Showtime does not equal to a greater crowd. It may equal to a more qualified crowd, but in order to be a mainstream star you need to crossover to as many segments of the population as you can, and the best indicator of that will be just pure ratings with no strings attached. So it might make sense for K2 promotions (GGG’s promoter) to strike some deals with cable TV.

3)    Get a translator: It’s great GGG is learning English. But it takes a lot of skill and practice to learn a new language and communicate effectively in it. Just drop the whole act and speak your native tongue which you are most comfortable in. Get a good translator who will translate your every word. The fans will appreciate you for it. Right now, even after so many fights, GGG remains a mystery. Beyond a few corny, albeit funny, catchphrases, the crowd knows absolutely nothing what GGG is thinking of. Abel does most of the talking for him. But the fans would much rather hear the words straight from Gennady’s mouth. Getting a translator will allow him to communicate much more clearly.

 

 

 

 

Safe Fight for Pacquiao’s Second Coming
By: Rahat "The Gift Media" Haque - September 16, 2016


It will be treat to see Manny Pacquiao return to the boxing ring. There is only one Pacman, and in the boxing game, where there are levels to skills, few men compare to the Filipino slugger. Which is precisely why Jesse Vargas vs Manny Pacquiao will not be close. The fight is still two months out, and videos had already started to surface early last month showing Manny training for this fight. There were doubts in people’s mind if Manny’s heart and mind was still on boxing, provided his increasing responsibilities as a senator. But if he is back in the ring for the second time already this year, that is no different than his regular fight schedule, which usually consists of two fights a year. So it’s almost as if he never followed through his retirement announcement after the fight. Which is great news for us boxing fans, because we hate to see talent like Manny leave the sport.


But I haven’t been this disappointed in his team’s matchmaking since the Rios right, which was also predicted to be a one sided affair, and it was. While, this fight won’t be as one sided as the Rios fight, I don’t seriously envision any threat to Manny that Vargas poses. Vargas is a very good fighter who has been managed very well throughout his career. He has got some excellent wins against known and unknown fighters who I rate quite well. But in the dynamic world of boxing, the relevance of those wins are always on the decline as the competition increases. The welterweight division particularly, where certain fighters are looking unbeatable at the moment. To be fair to him, he took a risk and his best test in his career so far by fighting Tim Bradley. But it was a test he failed. Pacquiao already beat Bradley twice in his career, thrice according to many. So by analyzing opponents alone, this fight seems to be heavily inclined in Manny’s favor. But we know styles makes fights. Problem for Vargas is, that his style is not suited to beat Manny. He is too aggressive. He has some slickness in him, which shows itself from time to time, and he also possesses a much overlooked jab that can frustrate his opponents. But Jesse Vargas is someone who will never stay behind his jab for the whole duration of each round. And that is going to be his downfall. If he believes he can mix it up with Manny for a second, he is in for a nasty surprise. He had a very rough time with Wale “Lucky Boy” Omatoso who uses many angles in his punches, albeit he is painfully slow in shots and combinations. If Wale had better punch speed, Vargas couldn’t have pulled out the W in that fight. Now here is Pacquiao, who probably has more angles and more speed to his game than Omatoso. He also has better footwork, which will make it hard for Vargas to counter him.


When it comes to fighting the elite in boxing, it really isn’t fair to the challengers. Guys like Chocolatito, Crawford, Mayweather, Pacquiao, GGG, Ward, Kovalev have certain variables to their game that are just scaled up to an unreachable level for the rest for now. I collectively refer to them as the magnificent 7. And so it is daunting task to come up against any of their arsenals. But boxing has been heralded as the theater of the unknown and so things happen. Also there are stars who are just waiting to crossover to superstar status who seem to be blessed with those certain variables. Think Errol Spence. But Vargas is not one such guy. So on Nov. 5th, it will be an absolute treat to watch  Pacquiao back in the ring, and it will be very interesting to see Jesse Vargas’s strategy in facing the new senator from Philippines. Because it has to an amazing game plan to get the upset win. But even if it is, it is more than likely that Vargas won’t be able to execute. I give Jesse so much credit for doing what he does, and also for being one of the genuinely nice guys in the sport (as one can tell from the interviews he gives). But he bit off a bit too much. I would have preferred to see him against Brook, had that fight not fallen out.
 

 

 

How Long Before Mikey Steps It Up Again?
By Rahat "The Gift Media" Haque - August 13, 2016

 

Mikey Garcia was sensational on his return vs Elios Rojas.  He was expected to be sensational, as it was regarded as a tune up fight by almost all boxing pundits unanimously. It was clearly a step down from the likes of Roman Martinez , Juan Burgos, Juanma Lopez and Orlando Salido. Stellar names he had previously conquered. After an absence of almost two years, it wasn’t too much to ask of his fans to grant him one tune up. But what he is saying now comes as a shock to many. He is at least very clear about his intentions which is very refreshing to hear in a sport where many boxers and promoters alike like to give vague answers. But as refreshing as it is, the reality is that 35-0 Mikey Garcia has stated his intentions to move down to 135 and fight Terry Flanagan for the WBO belt. As good as Terry might be, he is not on Mikey’s level, with a resume that consists of mostly English names. The belt means zilch, fact is Terry Flanagan would be tune up fight number 2 for Mikey, and the Oxnard pugilist’s stock will take a hit. It will be sad to see a fighter as dangerous and polished as Mikey Garcia to go down the Danny Garcia route, where you basically long tail your career by fighting a string of B level competition, and only have the occasional competitive match as perceived by the public.


Terry Flanagan was set to fight Top Rank rising star Felix Verdejo, before the latter was involved in motor crash. Prayers go out to him for a speedy recovery. I reckon Verdejo’s Olympic pedigree and faster development would have proved too much for Flanagan whose development was much slower than Felix’s on his way to his 31-0 record, which definitely stinks of being padded. And then Mikey would have to face Verdejo, which actually would be a very appealing fight as they would at least be equal in technical prowess. That is a fight I would be psyched for. But now Juan Diaz being Felix’s replacement, I don’t want to see neither Juan nor Terry as Mikey’s next opponent. And I think most fans would share my opinion.


There are so many great fights to be made at 140, which is why most fans gave him a pass when he chose to return at this highly competitive division, albeit with a tune up fight. But now he wants to go back to 135, reason being he feels more comfortable there and saw that he could make 135 easily in his process to make 140. That is acceptable to me. If he feels he has more leverage in a certain weight class, he should be allowed to make that division his home and rule the roost. But the choice of fight matters greatly, no matter what the division is. Terry Flanagan will pose zero threat to Mikey.  Neither will any of other champs at lightweight except Rances Barthelemy, going on to show how meaningless the belts are these days.


IBF champ at 135, Rances Barthelemy, will make things tricky for Mikey with the former’s Cuban style of boxing. Other than him, both Mickey Bey and Robert Easter Jr. would pose interesting challenges to Mikey. Both are very in form fighters with excellent boxing knowledge and slickness. Mickey Bey lost a very close decision to Rances Barthelemy, while Robert Easter had a giant step up with the former 135 threat Argenis Mendez whom he demolished with style. I would be happy with Mikey fighting any of these three guys, Rances, Mickey Bey or Robert Easter Jr. as those make interesting fights where people cannot pick the winner conclusively, or at least have to rub some brain cells together before calling the fight.  This won’t be the case with Terry Flanagan with all due respect to the WBO champ. If it is really a belt that you are after Mikey, just fight Rances Barthelemy. Your fans and detractors alike will respect you for it.
 

 

 

 

Know All Before you Speak

By: Rahat "The Gift Media" Haque - July 17, 2016


This piece is a crossover between politics and boxing. And it pains me to write it because when Ali passed I thought there would be solidarity amongst all to celebrate him. But this hasn’t been the case as certain fringe groups have come out to tarnish the image of the man.  However negligible this other group’s size is, I want to address the charges head on because either I feel that they are deliberately misleading, or that they are just ignorant. In both cases, I can only write what I know to set them straight. 

   
Recently there has been a growing neo atheism movement that is against all organized religions, perhaps rightly so as religion has directly or indirectly caused a lot of evil in this world. But because it’s a movement, like all other movements it attempts to provide commentary on every current news clip out there. I am not singling neo atheism out, but it is in fact a popular trait of such groups to put their own spin on every story in the spotlight in an attempt to seize the zeitgeist. And so when the former three time heavyweight champ of the world Ali had left us, it was absolutely heart wrenching for me to see many of these self-proclaimed “anti-regressive” groups highlight certain things the pugilist had said in his earlier years when he was chummy with the Nation of Islam (NOI). I really thought the greatness of Ali would make anybody think twice about portraying him in a certain capacity without researching his life in its entirety. But that is precisely what has happened, as a very small section of neo atheists are using old quotes of his to paint him as a racist. Sad indeed.


I know exactly what quotes those commentaries are referring to. I saw the videos many years ago, as soon as they were available on the internet. This is not a revelation to me or any other serious Ali enthusiasts who are always on the lookout for new footage of the boxing legend. Yes, he does say that the white man is the devil, and that race intermixing is to be frowned upon. And many more inflammatory remarks. But that was Ali at that point of his life. As all wise men do, he too would change his stances as he accumulated more wisdom through his years. It really hurt him to see his friend Malcolm X killed by the NOI, especially as he was instructed to shun him by the orders of the group as soon as Malcolm was excommunicated. His amicability towards segregation began to decline over the years. And after he performed the Hajj ritual, he stopped completely with any leftover anti-white sentiments.  And from there on, over the years if you listened to him, his love was all inclusive. It had always been, just that sometimes to fight the oppression he had to take an extreme pro black position which may be said to be black supremacy by some. I don’t have an issue with recognizing it such. Because it too was a part of his live at one point. But to just stop there, and not analyze the rest of his life and how he evolved is just disrespectful and very much agenda driven. If he was really anti-white, why would he negotiate on the behalf of all those mostly Caucasian American prisoners from Saddam’s Iraq?  Why would he visit all those countries that he did, that were teeming with people of all different colors under various nationalities? Why would he befriend all those famous reporters most of who had white complexion?  No, indeed if Ali was a bigot he would not have taken the time out of his day to do all those things. People loved him, as he loved the people. White, brown, black, red and yellow. People change, the NOI had poisoned his mind on certain aspects, but he came out of it eventually. To quote the man “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”


To summarize, at one point in his life, he was influenced by NOI rhetoric. I supposed he got some of his charisma too from the same group, e.g., getting the courage to be so outspoken. But at the same light, he inadvertently had adopted some pretty ugly views. But as with his trash talk, I believe that it was always tongue in cheek, and that he didn’t mean it. Indeed he had too many white friends in order for him to be racist. And his personality was such that he loved all. And such love and camaraderie amongst fellow human beings eventually would engulf any iota of hate injected into him by NOI. And at one point, he would leave NOI, and convert to orthodox Sunni Islam. Not that the latter is a basket of roses either. And there are rumors that he had in the end even left Sunni Islam to join Sufi Islam, which is perceived to be a more spiritual and less stringent form of Islam. Though this to my knowledge is not substantiated yet. But one thing for sure is that Ali repented ever uttering those old statements that he did about the false virtues of segregation and race homogeneity. Indeed, the rest of his life is a testament to it. Rest in peace.

 

 

 

 

The Power Shot
By: Rahat "The Gift Media" Haque - June 10, 2016

There seems to be a dissociation between technicality and power in the minds of some. It need not be. How else are you supposed to generate the most power without paying attention to the proper technique? There are many things that drew me into boxing. Its rich history, personal heroes who I followed even before I started watching the sport, the stars, the finality of the outcome, the lack of excuses in a non-team sport, etc. But one of the most awe inspiring things about the boxing is when you get someone in trouble with one punch. Because it becomes the game changer. Everything that had happened before to that point becomes meaningless, and you are left wondering how many more seconds or minutes will the guy who just got rocked will survive. And that is if they standing up. If they go down and don’t get back up in time, that match will be over. And even if they get back on their feet, their legs are momentarily jelly leaving them once again susceptible to more KOs. Hence when you get clipped with a perfectly timed power punch, it is very likely that you are done for the night.


When your plant your feet firmly into the canvas, rotate your whole body off your pivot foot, and land a power shot to the chin, that is “lights out” for many an opponent. It’s not that it requires more skill than other aspects of boxing. It’s just that it needs to be done. And when you go for power shots, there is an element of loading up, which leaves you open to counter shots, and also gives your opponent the opportunity to make you miss and rack up points on defense. But when it lands, it is a thing of beauty. And so it is a strategy that is definitely worth exploring, because it enables you to take fate in your own hands. And there are boxers out there who do this. That is not to say they can’t be fleet footed, or cannot outbox you, because I am sure they can if they choose to. But they just choose to emphasize and focus on what will get them quicker and more definite results, i.e., landing power shots. Chocolatito Gonzalez has a beautiful and gifted technique where he will unload power shots in combinations! Yes, there is pause between his punches, but the way he carries over the momentum of one punch to load up for the next one is a magnificent thing to watch. Then there is Errol Spence Jr, who is the most shining example of an inside fighter. When you watch him fight, you are just waiting for the other guy to get maimed. He is so supremely confident of his power, that he just lets them rip! And then there is Golovkin at 160, who just keeps cleaning out his division one fighter at a time. He techniques are so subtle when you analyze his fights, but he always shifts from pivot to pivot while maintain balance, which in turn gives him excellent leverage to exert tremendous power on any punch thrown.


These are some of the most talked about fighters today that utilize many power punches in their arsenal. And so with so many funky decisions by the judges in boxing, is it too far-fetched to say that getting your opponent out of there may be one of the smartest strategies in sport right now? Why risk being victimized by incompetence, or worse still, sheer corruption? Another advantage of going for the KO is that it surest way to build up a buzz, ala Iron Mike Tyson and Prince Naseem Hamed. And indeed, there is no fighter I would rather watch more than Chocolatito, Spence and GGG provided they are put into meaningful fights of course.


However I should end on disclaimer that one dimensional power is pretty futile. When you start being one dimensional on any one thing, it is a recipe for failure. Take David Lemieux for example, he gets low and powers up on those hooks, but that is basically all he does. And so in such a case, it will be rather easy for a more elite fighter to dismantle Lemieux by taking his hooks away from him if he continues to be so reliant on just one aspect of boxing. He may get past the likes of Glenn Tapia, but the Charlo brothers would relish the opportunity to embarrass him if they moved up to middleweight because they are such well-rounded fighters.

 

 

 

 

Canelo Alvarez vs Amir Khan. My Thoughts on The Fight, The Outcome, The Scorecard and The Future of The Two Fighters
By: Rahat "The Gift Media" Haque - May 8th, 2016

Give Canelo some credit. Lots of people were treating this as lose-lose situation for Canelo. If he won, they would call it a predictable victory. If he lost, they would deem it embarrassing. So the scenario coming in could have been easy to digest for Canelo. He had to be true professional, understand that this was the best money making fight for both fighters, and go out there and do the expected. And that was to take Khan out of there. And he did just that in round 6. I was impressed with how calm he was in the first 3 rounds where Khan got off to a fast start. It was as if knew that no man could keep that level of fleet footedness up for 12 rounds.  Yes, he beat a smaller man, but only marginally smaller. From interviews, Khan walks around at above 160, and Canelo never walks around at more than 170. Meaning their natural weight difference is less than 10 rounds. And the size issue aside, who else could have brought Khan’s skill set into the middleweight division? Nobody is the correct answer. And ultimately styles make fights, and there is something to be said about not just moving up to be the considered one of the all-time great status, but also fighting as many diverse styles as possible to arrive at that same level. So all credit to Canelo for KOing out Khan in the 6. I for one, do not think his future is that bright from here on. To me, his decisions against Trout, Lara and Cotto were all disputable. And from the top of my mind, I can rattle out several names at 160 and 154 who would beat Canelo provided we get fair judges. But for this very moment, and just for this very fight, I give Canelo props for going out there and dealing with Amir Khan.


I thought it was a good fight while it lasted. We got to see the best attributes of both fighters. The first three rounds, we got to see the amazing speed of Khan, albeit with some caution which limited his previous three and four punch combos to one and twos, and a more defense oriented style that relied upon constant movement. The 4th and 5th round, we saw Canelo figuring Khan out. He cut the ring off, moved his head beautifully to inch closer while avoiding the jab, and started landing body shots both to the body and to the head. The body head work was seamless. And he was doing a Joe Frazier number on Khan, where he would follow up to the head every time he would touch the body. Perhaps this is what slowed Khan down at the onset of the 4th round. But it could have easily been that he gassed out.  Because there are so few fighters out there with enough stamina to base their whole defense on fleet footedness for all 12 rounds. Rest rounds are very much part of the equation.


The KO itself was very brutal. One punch Kos always are. It took us all back to the Danny Garcia fight, looking at how Khan swiveled right before he fell to the canvas, the manner how his head bounced of the ring and where his hands ended up after the fall. The only difference was that he stayed down. And that could just be a testament of power at the middleweight division.


One thing I am super disappointed about is the judge’s score cards.  I had it 49-46 to Khan going into the 6th round. I thought the 5th was the only round he had conceded. The 4th was a very interesting, though it was clearly the round where Canelo showed signs of figuring Khan out, the former did not make his case adequately, while the latter was the braver fighter who did. There were more exchanges, which was the first danger sign of Khan, that he should not have continued that route. But if you looked at the exchanges themselves Khan was getting the better of them, often landing the last punch as they would pull out. It really was not a difficult fight to score. The 5th round was clearly Canelo’s, and the only other round where you could possibly make a case for him was the 1st, where almost everything was neutralized, especially the two boxer’s aggression and ring generalship, where they would take turns playing the cat and the mouse. Khan barely edged ahead with higher connect rate. I can also see how one could be tempted to give Canelo the third round, because it was actually a close round till Khan stole it convincingly in the end with the more telling blows. And that’s an aspect of scoring people must deal with it, i.e. a round maybe close up to a certain point but a few seconds is all that it takes to change it.  But make no mistake, I did not think it was a close round it my humble opinion and to treat it as such would be incompetence. So along with the 4th round, the 1st round is the only the one that I would be willing to give to Canelo. And so a good judge, should have had it 4 to 1 going into the 6th, or 3 to 2 would be acceptable also. By that standard, only judge Adalaide Byrd was accurate, as she had it 3 to 2 for Khan, the other two judges, Glen Feldman and Glenn Trowbridge had it 3-2 and 4-1 for Canelo respectively. It was yet another disgrace in the sport of boxing. But not something I did not expect given the favorable nod Canelo has gotten in the past. I want to pontificate no further in this matter, it just leaves bad taste in the mouth. But let me just say that Trowbridge who had Canelo up by 4 rounds to 1, also had scored a Rios win vs Abril, which is still one of the greatest robberies I have witnessed in the modern era.


Where do the fighters go from here? As I have said before, Canelo is running out of easy options. I am not taking an ounce of credit away from the man, I am just saying that it will only get harder for him from here on. Killers are waiting at 160, the likes of GGG and the heavily improves Daniel Jacobs. Both guys who can punch and box better than Canelo. If I were to just go by power alone, than even Lemieux looks like a stern test for Canelo presently, who had a very impressive victory last night. As did Curtis Stevens who I always thought didn’t get the credit that he deserved. Truth be told, GGG makes a lot of great fighters look ordinary. Looking down at 154, the Charlo brothers are on the prowl, and either of them have the finesse the power to handle Canelo with ease in my view. So the whole world anticipates who Canelo will fight next.


As for Khan, it is sure climb back down to 147, or 154 if he feels like it. When you really think about it, Khan has what few boxers in the world have. That is, a name. He has good marketing value, and will draw attention to whomever he fights. Oh, and not to mention, he is an elite fighter at 147 and 140 as well. So to me, Khan can do whatever he wants. He is not cornered at this point of his career like Canelo is. We saw at the post fight interview, that he can accept his losses quite easily, if it means he will be compensated adequately. I am not saying he is isn’t competitive, I am just saying he will go where the money is. And there is a fight out there which will give him a purse as good as Canelo’s, while also an opportunity to redeem himself from this brutal KO loss. And that fight is against Kell Brook. Brook beat Porter. And Porter is fighting Thurman, which is being perceived by the crowd as a very even fight, though I think Thurman clearly has the edge as I wrote about it in the past. So by beating Kell Brook, Khan can quickly establish his dominance at 147. And then go on to fight Garcia, which is a fight we all should admit we have always wanted to see again. It will be the ultimate litmus test if Khan is really an improved product under Virgil Hunter, or it was merely more caution and zero skills added all this time. He can’t and shouldn’t hand around in the middle weight division, or even anything slightly above 154 as proven in this fight.
 

 

 

 

How the Experienced and Undefeated Guys are Progressing
By: Rahat "The Gift Media" Haque - April 11, 2016


Last October, I had written an article for my column titled “No Fighter Should have on O”. I mention 5 boxers who have had 30 fights or more, and still have an “O” to their name. I also put forward a set of other fighters who can the former set their first losses if the opportunity presents itself. 6 Months later, I think the time is apt to revisit the article, and see how each of those fighters’ careers are shaping up.  All of the fighters still have their “O”. And of course none of them have fought the fighters I had suggested to make things interesting. That would be too good to be true. Sadly, most of the fighters haven’t even taken on fighters anywhere near the caliber of those that I had suggested to prove themselves. However, all but one did stay busy in the ring, and one out of the 5 have another fight already set in stone. So let’s revisit the five fighters and comment on their activity inside the ring and their future legacy prospect.

Leo Santa Cruz- Since last October, he has fought Kiko Martinez. It was a meaningless fight which provided a meaningless result. No one held their breath over an upset.  The competition gap could have been larger, which was perhaps the only positive takeaway for Team Cruz. But fighting the vastly experienced but clearly over the hill big name guy was something they could have done 3 or 4 fights ago, as opposed to picking out a random guys with any type of meaningful record, which is what they did, and whom Leo easily blew out the water.


Next fight or proposed names: No fight has been announced. Santa Cruz has stated that he wants Carl Frampton. If his intentions are pure than we have to credit him for getting his career rolling back to the right direction after the Mares victory.

Mikey Garcia- Still has not returned to the ring. And now the question seriously has to be asked, how much time from his prime is this contractual dispute taking away from him? And how serious is he about getting back in the ring? Every half a year gone without boxing is a loss to him, both financially and legacy wise, unless he knows something that we don’t. In all the videos I see of him, he is exceptionally calm for man that was one of the best fighters in the world that suddenly had his career come to a screeching halt.


Next fight or proposed names: Bob Arum says the Crawford fight was offered to Mikey. Mikey denies this. What else is new in the boxing world of promotions? Two sides telling a different story is something we fans are very much accustomed to. Perhaps more damning to Garcia is that Bob says the needle has not moved on the legal dispute between Garcia and Top Rank.  Breaking news:  According to ESPN, as of April 8th, Mikey and Top Rank have reached a settlement. This could mean we will soon see Mikey back in the squared circle.
   
Danny Garcia-Since Has fought Robert Guerrero since last October. Good fight! I actually was satisfied by the choice of competition in that one. Robert Guerrero brings a lot of toughness, experience as well as skills from a certain level that you absolutely have to face before you can speak on it. But Danny’s problem is not just stepping it up at a rate that is too slow, but also getting the benefit of doubt in judge’s scorecards every time. And yet again, it was a heavily disputed decision vs Guerrero. Even if Danny still has his “O”, it is quite clear that it’s very lucky or very favored “O”.


Next fight or proposed names: Nothing is on the cards yet. ShowTime’s Steven Ezpinoza has talked about matching Garcia up with the winner of the Portman-Thurman bout. But I don’t think that is a risk he will ever take especially when Garcia can go as low as fighting guys like Rod Salka to keep his win streak going. He probably won’t even bat an eyelid in taking another one of those filler fights pretty soon. However, if he is interested in making the mega fights happen, there is someone down this list he could match his skills against pretty soon.

Deontay Wilder- Has fought Arthur Szpilka. I didn’t mind this one. Szpilka has quite the niche in the division, and I think it was a good tactical decision by Wilder to fight a relatively experienced campaigner in Szpilka who  has worked hard himself to get to this level. However in the heavy weight division, Deontay is considered a  part of the big 3 in the current frame of things,  and it’s always a problem when he is so far removed from fighting Fury and Klitschko because  of the other two vying hard for their rematch.  Klitschko for legacy reasons, and Fury for financial reasons. So in that context, it was a good build up fight to the journey of facing one of these two men.


Next fight or proposed names:  He is scheduled to fight Alexander Povetkin which I think is great. Outside Fury, Klitschko, Jennings and Ortiz, I think this was the 5th best fight Wilder could have done, which is a way more than what I can say for most of these big names today, where I can name 10 plus names of people they should rather fight than their next opponent. After Artur Szpilka, and now with the selection of this Povetkin fight, it shows that Wilder is serious about facing the best man in the division pretty soon. Even if that man is someone else besides Klitschko by the time he reaches there.

Kell Brook- Fought Kevin Bizier last month. How much more English in-housing can Kell’s promoter do? I did not agree with this fight. It was a total joke at this point of Kell’s career to be taking on someone that inexperienced, unless the guy was a total killer, which Bizier was never heralded as. He was a mandatory, but out of all the fighters in this list, it is Kell who needs a big name fight the most currently. And this is only because he was brought up in the British system, and hence many Americans still have their doubts on him and want him to cross the Atlantic again to fight as soon as he can. The Shawn Porter glory has faded away fast for him.


Next fight or proposed names:  Kell has been pretty silent so far on who he wants to fight. His promoter Eddy Hearn says that he has got to be a part of super fight pretty soon. But he had said the same thing before. But with Danny Garcia moving up to 147, there are talks about building up a super fight between Garcia and Brook. Other than that, Brook’s camps has been pretty silent. But they have to start calling out other stars in the sport besides Khan if they want to land a mega fight.

 

 

 


Boxing has taken a hit! Could last night’s undercard wake it up?
By: Rahat Haque - March 6, 2016


We are early into March 2016, and boxing hasn’t yet woken up this year. At least not for me. I don’t know what it is that has taken the joy out of following the sport, but I can attempt to work out my thoughts in this piece. Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton just fought and I didn’t even get hyped for the occasion like I normally would when a super fight occurs. The fight was boring, and it was too made too late. After Floyd Mayweather retired from the sport, pundits said that it would be good for boxing and that the big fights would be made sooner because the value of the “O” would drop. It hasn’t happened yet. I am not seeing any major star step it up, except for Thurman and Sadam Ali. The former is set to risk his “O” in what is expected to be his toughest fight so far. The latter just risked his “O” tonight, and he lost! That just shows you how important it is for the top fighters to fight while they still are still relevant. If they take one too many substandard fights, their stock will drop and any anticipated matchups will get stale.


Leo Santa Cruz had no business taking an easy fight just after he got finished with Mares. He was supposed to stay at that level. Instead he fights Kiko Martinez, who is now making the rounds as a big but over the hill name on fighter’s resumes who should not be considered prospects anymore. Think: Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton. Kell Brook’s manager Eddie Hearn talks a long game, but has not stepped it up since he fought Porter. And Fury are Klitshcko are interested in fighting no one else but each other for the second time. Why can they not mix it up with other big name heavyweights before doing the rematch? Pacquiao himself is doing a rematch, once again, with Tim Bradley. So the opportunity to see Pacman versus a different elite name is squandered. Rematches, and overdue big matches are ruining the sport!


The other point is that boxing has competition from other sports. You cannot hold down a job, a social life, and seriously follow multiple sports at the same time. Especially if their seasons overlap. You have to pick and choose. And I use my example in this case: I have been a 76ers fan since 2000, that’s basketball. I’ve been a Man Utd fan since 2001, that’s soccer. And I always watch cricket when my native Bangladesh plays. On top of these three, I have to devote the mental energy and keep my Saturday nights open for just boxing. I will do it happily if the sport keeps me sufficiently entertained. But if I notice the usual shenanigans of long overdue fights, or pointless rematches, it is naturally going to make me think twice about following the sport.


I understand this article is somewhat of a rant, but it is a purposeful rant. These are not just my opinion or the opinion of a few, but I am picking up similar sentiments from millenials. Boxing is a sport older than most professional sports, and it is here to say. Question is, will the fans stay to watch it?  We need the big fights to happen sooner. And we need better promotion for these fights. Take last night’s co feature for example. The Vargas vs Ali was a stellar fight that surpassed its hype because it had so little hype to begin with. And that right there is the disappointment. You have that one case of brilliant matchmaking done at the right time, and it does not get promoted properly. Why are we still at that stage where these fights get only one presser? How much more can it cost logistically to add one or two more cities to have pressers in, and make it a press tour? And why didn’t Jessie Vargas and Sadam Ali make any appearances on any of the major radio or talk shows? They should hire better PR teams, or their promotion company’s in house PR team should have assisted them. For as good as last night’s co feature was, it was easily equaled by the show UFC put on the other coast. And they managed with fighters who barely have a record to their name. And yet I was bombarded by reminders from so many angles to check out the Holm vs Tate and McGregor vs Diaz fights, but with boxing it’s almost like I had to remind myself that this juicy bout between Sadam Ali and Jessie Vargas was about to take place.


However, the Ali-Vargas showdown was so full of strategy and action, and had such a spectacular ending, that I think it has the potential to wake boxing up, and the sport can feed of the momentum and carry on for the rest of the year. Plea to the boxing promoters: Please do not wait on making the big fights, and please market those fights when they do happen with the investment and commitment that they deserve. Bring on Thurman Vs Porter, Broner vs Theopane and Gradovich vs Valdez! Please shame Ward, Golovkin, and Brook to not take any more regressive fights after the ones they are already scheduled to take part in this year. And thank you Oscar for Canelo vs Khan! Whatever the outcome is, people will be tuned in.

 

 

 

 

What Went Wrong with Karim Mayfield?
By: Rahat "The Gift Media" Haque - February 10, 2016


At one time, I had Mayfield on my radar as a great up and coming fringe fighter, who had all the talent in the world to develop into something more concrete as he rose through ranks. He had taken a very good first test against the experienced Steve Forbes, passed it with flying colors with a 10th round stoppage, and then further stepped it up in completion with equally skilled prospects in his three next fights. His streak culminated to a peak with a victory over the very tricky Mauricio Herrera. Indeed he was riding the prospect wave and possessed the confidence to call out the bigger names like Danny Garcia and Adrien Broner at the time.


But it all fell apart when he faced Thomas Dulorme, who had him beat on strategy so resoundingly that it was embarrassing. And he has not looked the same fighter since. Emmanuel Taylor outclassed him as well. The Michael Balasi fight was made just to rebuild some confidence in him, and he beat the Hawaii native who had 4 losses on the trot before facing Karim. And last week Saturday night, he was brought back to earth again by Dmitry Mikhaylenko. His bout against the Mikhaylenko will go down as the zenith in his career thus far, or a turning point for those fans of his that remain optimistic.


It was a horrible fight to watch, mostly because of the strategy Mayfield had stepped into the ring with, which was to come out swinging in short spurts, and hope to catch the Russian cold. The plan faded away as quickly as Mayfields’ career.  Mikaylenko took the first round to figure out his opponent, before proceeding to back him up with ease. He had the more telling shots all throughout the fight, and Karim did not even attempt to make it into a fight after he realized the difference in power between the two at 147. Rather it seemed as though he let Dmitry work on him, going into sparring partner mode. Only momentarily would he become frantic and try to connect wild shots, which was already proven to be a failed strategy.  All throughout the night, he had no answers for the jab. Much like how he had no answers for Dulorme’s jab either, in what had to be some very good scouting on behalf of Dulorme’s trainer, Robert Garcia.


Grave inefficiency against the jab seems to be a trend for the Bay Area boxer.  He needs better strategy, and he most certainly needs more patience to execute his strategies. I know there will be a notion thrown out there that he has reached his level, and there is nothing he can do to beat these next level fighters. Mikhaylenko, Dulorme and Taylor all look to be a class apart. While that may be true, I think Karim Mayfield just has too much talent in him to give up just yet. He is a resourceful sparring partner, we all know that from his sparring chronicles with Manny Pacquiao. He also has videos circulating in the web where he says that he whopped such and such names in boxing. Names such as: Amir Khan, Andre Berto and Kell Brook. Perhaps he should refrain on making comments like these, and focus more on why he has come up so short in recent times against high caliber opposition. He should perhaps part ways with trainer Ben Bautista, who has not improved him since the Dulorme loss. He has to analyze what he did wrong in 2013, his layoff year, after which he hasn’t looked the least bit stellar. I still think Karim “Hard Hitta” Mayfield has a decent career ahead of him, if he goes back to the drawing board with an open mind.
 

 

 

 

2016’s First Possible Major Fight “Show Time” vs “One Time”

By: Rahat "The Gift Media" Haque - January 18, 2016


Word is going around that Keith “One Time” Thurman versus Shawn “Showtime” Porter has been made for March 12 on PBC at CBS, at the Mohegan Sun Casino at Uncasville, Connecticut. For the many mediocre or downright abject cards PBC puts out, there is a good one once in a while. This would be one of those, if the rest of the card lives up to the main attraction.


Keith Thurman is considered one of the brightest stars of boxing today. The prospect tag has long worn off, he has arrived in the big leagues already and is waiting for other similar big names. Names such as Shawn Porter who himself has done exceedingly well in recent times minus his loss against Kell Brook, which was a very soft loss to say the least. If the reports are true and the two are set to square off this March 8th, I am going to give a very early prediction. Thurman by KO.


While both fighters have been creating a buzz in the boxing world, Keith’s resume is just that much better. His last 6 fights, starting with Jan Zaveck and concluding with Luis Collazo, have been of a certain standard. Porter has also fought a certain level of competition, but along the way the dubious Erik Bone fight was made, which was clearly just a tune up fight to regain his confidence after his loss to Brook. Also, he took two tries to really figure our Julio Diaz. The first match was a draw. On the other hand, Thurman made short work out of Diaz, forcing him to retire just after three rounds, and dropping him in round 2. It is comparisons like these that make me favor Thurman.


Getting down to the styles of the respective fighters, it seems as if Thurman has many gears to offer, while Porter has just two, namely: fast and relentless. Porter actually had come into my radar earlier than most people, and back then he was a fighter who beat his competition by merely using speed. And he still does that these days, by fully utilizing his athleticism to jump on people. But beginning with what is still his most impressive victory to date where he totally outclasses Devon Alexander, he has shown to have another gear in him, where he steps it up in terms of tenacity and close combat. With extremely short recovery periods, he gets back into action in no time for the next exchange. And these two gears of speed and stamina backed aggressiveness just about sum up the intricacy of Porter’s fighting style, which has worked fantastically well for him thus far. Yes, he came up short against Kell Brook, but as said before, that was a very frustrating fight where no one fighter clearly outclasses or dominates the other.


Keith Thurman has more than two gears, and is a much more intricate fighter than Shawn Porter. He has gone in full boxer mode in fights such as Jan Zavek and Leonard Bundu, and in full banger mode in certain rounds versus Soto- Karass and Diego Chaves. And he has displayed very smart boxing where there isn’t too much wastage of punches. In short, he has always adapted to the situation and thus remains unbeaten. He can be said to be one of those guys who you just can’t imagine losing, unless it’s against an elite top ranked fighter in 147, ala Pacquiao and Bradley. Interestingly enough, he is ranked currently at no. 2 by IBO, right after Pacquiao, while Bradley as a belt holder isn’t given a ranking. An outstanding talent coming up the ranks would upset him of course, ala Errol Spence Jr, but that’s for another discussion.


I don’t think Shawn Porter has any quit in him, nor has he any back down mentality. He will believe he can land the better shots and at a higher volume, and hence will be pressing the action for the most of the fight. I think he will be surprised at how easily Thurman plays the role of the passive fighter, fighting on his back foot, and maintaining a good exchange ratio with Porter. In the end he will be frustrated, and succumb to one of Thurman’s power shots, after which the balance of the fight will totally sway in favor of Thurman. Keith will be encouraged to see Porter somewhat retract for the first time in the fight, and will go for the kill and succeed. Porter will never quit, nor will be TKOed, because he has enough athleticism in him to push the action into the middle of the ring even when he is hurt. However, he will fail to beat the count when he is down, hence giving the Thurman the KO win. He might be down a couple of times before that happens though. There’s a lot in stake at 147, and there shall be some feeling out process in the earlier rounds and it will take a few more rounds after that for the fight to properly brew. But somewhere between the 8th and 12th round, I expect Keith to get Shawn out of there. I want to say the 9th round.
 

 

 



Why Holly Left Boxing and the Possibility of a Further Exodus
By: Rahat "The Gift Media" Haque - December 10, 2015


Holly Holm gave Ronda Rousey the beating of her life on Nov. 15th. The difference in class between the two was eye opening. But then again, no expected Ronda to be that foolish as to try trading with Holm. But she did, and badly paid for it not by just getting outclassed but by suffering a brutal KO. Now I’m not going to pretend to be an MMA expert, but what is wrong with boxing today when fighters have to switch to another sport to get the fame and money they deserve? And yes, it was Holly’s biggest payday. It felt great to see Holly shine. She was one of the few female boxers that in people’s radar, and that is no easy feat in women’s boxing which has always traditionally been suppressed and under promoted. So the point is that much more palpable when even someone as greatly venerated in boxing circles as Holly Holm could never get the type of mass market reach she wished for in the sport, and had to seek elsewhere for greater widespread admiration. I’m going to break down 3 reasons why MMA is gaining popularity in mass culture, and boxing continues to fade away. Both combat sports have picked up steam in recent years, but if we were to compare the speed at which they are producing household names, boxing lags far behind. A lot of it comes down to people’s thinking. And when boxing sorts out its though process, I think it will get over this hump, and we will begin to see fighters stay in boxing to acquire greater money and fame.

1)    Looks almost positively have nothing to do with promotion.  The statement that Ronda Rousey had looks on her side on her way to stardom is so wrong that it is laughable. And yet, unbelievably people who watch sports at a surface level will make such superficial and unjustified comments. When you begin to go through the circuit in women’s boxing, you will find there are many beauties. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course. But certainly names like Hollie Dunaway, Heather hardy, Lauryn Eagle, Mariana Juarez are no less eye candy than Rousey. The problem is that the aforementioned women are not marketing themselves like Rousey, or are not being pushed by their promoters. The question of who takes the initiative is a valid one. The argument can definitely be made for Ronda Rousey that she has always put on a great air of showmanship ever since she began to arm bar her opponents within 30 seconds. She routinely generated controversy by making off the cuff remarks about people, and quickly elevated herself to the level where the people would fill seats or buy the fight to either validate the bandwagon they just got on, or to see her fall apart. But such marketing strategies require the right advisors. I don’t know what the boxing promoters are whispering into the ears of female boxers, but they certainly are not spending enough on pull marketing in terms of billboards, commercials, appearances, so they might as well push marketing a try in crafting media savvy boxing characters.

2)    There is a lack of high energy promoters in boxing today. Watching Billy C’s podcasts over the years, he always belabors how promoters don’t promote in today’s boxing business. To dive into the specifics of this, let’s firstly acknowledge that Dana White is a high energy promoter. Not to lampoon Donald Trump, but we don’t need promoters with “low energy” who care about “tone”.  And yet these are the types of promoters we have in boxing today. Bob Arum, Lou Dibella, Oscar De La Hoya seem all too upper bourgeois. They expect you to know how the business works and do not attempt at all to relate to the common folks. They don’t have any intentions of keeping up with the times as well. This somehow makes sense for a classy sport like boxing, which has a tradition older than most major league sports you see on the TV. But clearly MMA is appealing more to generation Y, and it is largely due to high energy quirky promoters like Dana White who are doing what they can to push their fighters. Like him or hate him, he is clicking more with the young crowd. Ronda has benefitted tremendously from this attitude of promoting. The only quirky promoter who is a character himself in boxing, could be Don King. But while he has the right energy, I don’t believe he is quite there in his head. His displays of promotional hubris comes in short spurts, and it is never put together cohesively whereby it makes some sort of sense. Boxing could do with a new generation of promoters. The barriers of entry to the sport are what that keeps this from happening in my opinion.

3)    MMA is safer. Because MMA is more open combat where there are many more moves on the table, some people have the idea that it is wild. And it is, but where people make the mistake is when they equate wild to danger. Because submissions, takedowns, and strikes to all other parts of the body is much less mortal than head shots. Also, the matches are shorter in length than those of boxing. 25 minutes in championship MMA vs 36 minutes in championship boxing. Fighters get less concussions, and they can relatively go unscathed from a match if the match ends with a submission. Whereas with even the most mildest boxing match, there will be enough blows to the head to render the condition of the fighters worse off than when they first started. And enough of these head shots have an accumulative effect on one’s career, which is why you hear some boxers slur towards the latter end of their careers. Also consider this: people always complain about referees stopping fights too early in boxing, this is never the case with MMA, at least the few UFC matches that I have seen. Referees there have a greater proclivity to stop the fight the minute they see that a fighter is out of it. And no one complains about it either. Because MMA is safer than boxing, it is more marketable. Research has shown that millennials are less prone to violence than the generation before them, i.e., baby boomers. Of course combat sports will steal appeal to its market segment in every generation, but given the choice, people will draw to the sport where there is less bloodshed and better chance of avoiding brain damage.

I don’t know if Ronda could have done what she did in MMA if she was training to be a boxer all her life.  Her looks wouldn’t have made a difference, as there are other beauties in the sport to recap point 1. She would be held back by more passive promoters to recap point 2. But while the issue of promoters can be fixed, point 3 cannot. Which is, boxing will always be inherently more violent than MMA. Perhaps when things get too safe and cozy, there will be a new trend where people’s evolutionary instinct for warfare will kick in and they would prefer maximum violence and mortality. Until then, I think boxing should stop making excuses such as lack of looks or any other external factors, and the promoters themselves should bear more responsibility in increasing the mass appeal of their pugilists.

 

 

 

 

My Scoring Enigma with Canelo Alvarez (Round by Round Scorecard Included for Cotto-Canelo)

By: Rahat "Gift Media" Haque - November 23, 2015


This is the third time I had Canelo’s opponent beating him in a fight which didn’t turn out to be the reality. The first two fighters I had winning against him were Trout and Lara. Now Miguel Cotto is added to the list in what I thought was a 115-113 card in the Puerto Rican’s favor, but the judges disagree vehemently. And it isn’t the first instance where my scorecard wasn’t even close to what the judges had. For the Trout fight, I had Trout winning 115-112. Two of the judges had a wide margin victory for Canelo, Ray Danseco had the closest card, and even that was a 115-112 score in Canelo’s favor. I had Lara beating Canelo 115-113. Only Jerry Roth agreed with me. The other two judges had it for Canelo, and one of the scorecards reflected a wide margin victory for Canelo. Fast forward to this Cotto fight, and the closest card any judge had was a whopping117-111 score for Canelo! For the life of me, I just cannot seem to get Canelo’s fights right. I understand judging can be a subjective matter, but it occurs to me that these judges might be taught something in commissioned schools that I’m unaware of. Everything I have learned were through open public resources. And could it be that there are large gaps in my knowledge that I’m doing Canelo a disservice?


I am going to give my scorecard breakdown. And then I’m going to explain as to what it could be that the judges are looking for. Is there pressure on them to favor Canelo, being that the latter is a Golden Boy contracted fighter, and Golden Boy does a bulk of the promoting and possibly contributes more to the judges’ fees budget? It very well could be. But even if that’s the case, it doesn’t absolve me of being more educated on what the judges look for, and why I get it wrong every time in what I perceive to be a close fight with Canelo, which the judges dismiss as a clear victory for him.

Final Score: 115-113 Miguel Cotto
1.    Canelo just edges ahead while both fighters judge each other’s distances, his single shots have more assertion at this stage, and make Cotto’s combinations look like pitter patter punches. Winner: Canelo.

2.    Great all around boxing from both sides. Both are taking turns on being the aggressor and being the defender, and are looking good while doing it. But Cotto starts to connect more clearly in this round and disciplines Canelo. Winner: Cotto.

3.    Cotto establishes dominance in this round with his jab. Canelo’s shots are getting weaker, and most of the time, he falls short of connecting them. That is good defense on Cotto’s part. Winner: Cotto.

4.    This is a similar round to 3, but a bit closer  because Canelo comes at Cotto harder upping the ante, but Cotto’s jab acts as the great neutralizer, as he continues to box Canelo and stop any real momentum from the latter. Winner: Cotto.

5.    Cotto outworks Canelo. Canelo lands the more telling blows, but is extremely happy in just sitting back and thinking he won the round. Cotto looks much better as the aggressor and also the ring general. He touches up Canelo pretty badly as the Guadalajara man isn’t spontaneous and only relies on predetermined attacks. Winner: Cotto.

6.    Canelo has the lead for the two thirds of the fight, but then loses it. It’s clear that Canelo has stamina issues as predicted by many fans and experts alike, and Cotto capitalizes on this by string together many effective punches at the end and pulling ahead. Winner: Cotto.

7.    This time Cotto is the one possibly having miscalculated his effectiveness and not forcing the action as much, while Canelo sneaks in one too many quality shots that slows Miguel down.. Winner: Canelo.

8.    Most action packed round of the fight so far. Very hard and fast exchanges of punches, and as predicted, the situation favors Canelo. Cotto however almost comes back at the end due to Canelo’s periods of inactivity, but there isn’t enough time. Winner: Canelo.

9.    Very similar round to 8. But this time, Cotto does come back in the end to steal the round. Canelo has serious stamina issues. Or he is too content too early. Winner: Cotto.

10.    A very even round, as the fight has slowed down a lot, and Canelo has to be given credit for his ring generalship that to happen. The situation favors him as punch output goes down, so his harder blows make him stand out as the winner easily in this round. Winner: Canelo.

11.    This the clearest round for Canelo. The difference in power of both their shots is very palpable. Even through the TV. Winner: Canelo.

12.    This goes down to the wire, the last 10 seconds in fact. There are great lulls in the round as fighters wonders who might have the lead, but Cotto’s spurts of dominance are sharper. Winner: Cotto.

So there you have it. I have it 7 rounds to 5 for Cotto. If I were to give three semi close rounds to Canelo,i.e., the 6th, the 9th and the 12th., then the score becomes 116 to 112 for Canelo Alvarez, or 8 rounds to 4 for the Mexican. But mind you the close rounds in this fight have already been very evenly distributed. Not that I proactively decided to do this during the fight. It’s just the fact that they are. For example, one could make a case for giving rounds 1 and 10 to Cotto, but I have them for Canelo. So even if Canelo would have gotten extremely lucky on my cards, it still would be a 116-112 victory for him. All three judges had him winning by even more.

So as promised, let’s get down to why Canelo might be so convincing on some judges:


1)    They clearly favor the aggressor. Or these assortment of judges do. You have to keep in mind that coming forward bears absolutely no real connection as to who the better performer. Earlier on in the night you saw Drian Francisco come at Rigondeaux’s for the whole duration of the fight, but did the Filipino not manage a single round in two of the judges’ scorecard. Do Golden Boy employ hire to consultants to figure out which judges favor are most biased towards the aggressor? In any case, it’s less of a conspiracy and more about the influence of the promoter. And I don’t know how strong boxing’s laws are when it comes to curbing the promoter’s influence. It seems that boxing is carved up mafia style between the promoters and sanctioning bodies.

2)    They buy into the showmanship. Again, I believe this is wrong. Showmanship is not ring generalship as some would have you believe. Showmanship is consists of mostly gimmicks, posturing for an extra second after you dodge a punch, doing the shuffle, suddenly stopping in your tracks and gesturing your opponent to come at you, these are all things Canelo does very well. And it had to have impressed the judges, but it should not be a swaying factor in any round in my humble opinion.

3)    They over rely on visible cues. I think this is the wrong way to go about it. Max Kellerman sometimes says something to this effect, “who would you rather be in the round”? I do not agree with him at all on the legitimacy of that question as a judging tenet. It is extremely misleading. Some fighters have more scar tissues which will open up easily with fewer blows, giving you an exaggerated impression of the damage being caused. Some fighters like to huff and puff a lot after throwing all their energy into one sustained combination, it’s probably that they get too psyched up and forget proper breathing techniques. Again, this can falsely lead you to believe that they are suffering too greatly. One needs to actually keep track of punches above all else, noticing too many of these cues can build a different narrative over 12 rounds of a fight.

 

 

 

 

Rios’s Abrupt Curtain Call

By: Rahat Haque - November 9, 2015

It is common knowledge by now that 147 brawler Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios called announced his retirement this Saturday night after his brutal loss against Tim Bradley. His iron chin held up, as it was expected to by almost everybody, however his body could not sustain the series of lethal body blows that Bradley was throwing at his direction. It felt at the time as one of the most devastating defeats that did not involve any bloodshed in very recent memory. Or that feeling could have resulted from the very depressing post-match interview that Rios gave.  In any case, I think hanging them up was the best thing Rios could have done after the fight. Have a steel jaw also unfortunately means taking punishment for long periods of time. Earlier this year, Chavez Jr, another boxer known for having an iron chin was knocked down by Fonfara in a spectacular fashion, soon after which he quit on the stool. Perhaps that too also came mercifully to him.

It is clear that the ability to take punches gives fighters like Rios and Chavez Jr and edge in their careers. But it is not a healthy or difference making edge in the long run, as evidenced by the sudden spectacular collapses both fighters have had to endure. Both were very slowly and carefully matched in their careers, before suddenly throwing them in with the big killers.  Both had numerous victories at a one level below, where they were getting out boxed but could close the gap between them and their opponents due to their punch resistance, and inflict necessary damage.

But that strategy only propels you so far, and at a certain stage it ceases to make a difference. If I was Rios’s matchmaker, I would have never accepted the Bradley or Pacquiao fight, I would not have accepted the 2nd Alvarado fight either, because nothing for was ever going to top the experience of the first one. I highlight three fights to conclude this article that would provide good value for entertainment and be more even contests. More importantly it would mean that Brandon would still be in the game. If his news of retirement is true, then it’s indeed sad that we won’t get to see him fight again. But I think it’s a noble way to go out, i.e., finally getting a taste of the elite guys out there. (And Pacquiao and Bradley are definitely that), realizing you can’t hang with them, understanding that you will never be the best, losing motivation already having sacrificed a lot for the sport, and then deciding to hang them up. It is fair. But if you are still reeling from Rios’s to be absence from the sport, these three fights would have definitely prolonged his career.

Brandon Rios vs Victor Oritz- Great match due to all the history and drama that exists between the two fighters. Victor is the better boxer and ring general, but he has a proclivity towards quitting.  Brandon has no quit in him, and prior to this Bradley fight had never been knocked down. Would Victor have the courage to keep boxing and keep Rios at bay for the duration of the fight? Or would he falter in the face of immense pressure from Brandon?  I think that latter is a safer bet.

Brandon Rios vs Randall Bailey- Bailey by nature does not throw much, while Brandon loves to maintain a healthy punch output on the inside. The X factor is of course Bailey’s huge KO power, and so it would be interesting to see Rios closing in and winning the punch volume contest, but also see how his might chin fares when Bailey decides to plant his feet and let one rip. But Brandon does have one hell of a chin. Bailey knowing what he knows now, would go more to the body, but not too many fighters are as fit and agile as Tim Bradley to be so relentless with body attack. I think Rios with Garcia in his corner would have comfortable devised a strategy to deal with Bailey.

Brando Rios vs Selcuk Aydin- Both are out and out brawlers, so Brandon would not have to worry about landing, as he would get plenty of opportunities to hit the target right after absorbing a punch himself from Aydin. This would be a war of attrition, much like the first Alverado fight, and Brandon usually wins these type of battles. Added to that fact is Aydin really enjoys winding up his punches, whereas Brandon employs more short thudding shots on the inside.  I think the match would favors Rios.

 

 

 



No fighter should have a “O”

By: Rahat "The Gift Media" Haque - October 25, 2015

Floyd is out of the sport. Amongst many other things, he is infamous for heightening the importance of the “O” during his career. Even with him gone now, the damage maybe irreparable. We have new fans coming into the sport that exaggerate the value associated with being undefeated. I’m from that school of thought that says that you should never have a “O” for too long, if you are fighting the best in your division, or are challenging those from divisions in close proximity.

That also happens to be the best methodology in making great fights. You want a super fight, take a big name that has never lost, and match him against his biggest threat. You are guaranteed to get a hyped fight, if not a great fight. And pre match hype is important because at least it ensures me turning on my TV to see what’s taking place. Which is not what has been happening with some of these fights that are announced.

I wish to go over 5 highly ranked pugilists, who have a name in boxing to go along with their skills. For each one, I shall name the opponent they should fight next, who would have a chance at taking away their precious “0”. If all of these matches are made sooner than later, us boxing fans will get what we want.

Criteria: Has to have at least 30 fights in record.

Leo Santa Cruz. Record: 31 W 0 L 1 D
Due credit should be attributed to him for recently taking on his stiffest challenge so far, i.e., Abner Mares. But it was a fight that absolutely had to be made for Santa Cruz’s own credibility after taking on a string of much lesser caliber fighters. To maintain his name in the world of boxing, he needs to keep taking on these mega fights. He could start with this boxer below.

Fighter that can take away his “O”:  Gary Russel Jr. Only because Vasyl Lomachenko and Nicholas Walters are both with Top Rank. And out of Top Rank and Golden boy, I think the latter has a better chance of resuming full-fledged relations with Haymon fighters. Russel can beat anyone if he sticks to boxing. If he starts putting on a clinic early, the damage may accumulate and frustrate the opponent leaving him open to bigger blows. That’s what happened in his with Johnny Gonzales. He could replicate this game plan with Leo.

Danny Garcia. Record: 31 W 0 L 0 D
Now here is a very contested undefeated record because many argue he should have two Ls in his record by now. I for my part definitely think that Mauricio Herrera victory was a gift for Danny. And besides the disputed decisions, his other fights have also been under spotlight as he is seen to mix it up with some easy pickings. He desperately needs a big fight at 140 to maintain any semblance of respect as the champ, and he needs it pretty soon. For this very reason he may opt out of 140 and try 147. Or he could challenge this fighter mentioned below.

Fighter that can take away his “O”:  Adrien Broner. Haymon fighters currently have the most limited choices to make super fights, due to cold relations with other major promoters. But that is a moot point in this case, with both Adrien and Danny being in Haymon’s stable of fighters. Adrien looked very sharp in his fight with Khabib Allakhverdiev, and I give him more credit than people are giving him for that fight. Khabib was a very tough test, and anyone who has seen Khabib rise will attest to it.  In fact, I think Danny might be an easier test. Adrien has fought the better competition over the past few years, even his lesser known fights were against more live opponents as opposed to Danny. And I believe Broner can come with the right gameplan to give Danny his first “L”.

Kell Brook. Record: 35 W 0 L 0 D
Kell is the only fighter on this list who has been proactively seeking out the bigger names, so we have to somewhat tone down the skepticism regarding his will to take on bigger challenges. He has called out Khan many times, and Khan has gone on record to say that he won’t fight Brook now and is only interested in fighting Pacquiao and Floyd at this time. But that still does not exonerate Kell as the 147 division is ripe with great fighters. And he simply is not trying hard enough to put his neck on the line. But he can with this next fight.

Fighter that can take away his “O”:  Keith Thurman. To be fair, Keith can take away a lot of fighters’ Os, the way he has been developing his talent and temperament. Scary thing about Keith is that he just as good as boxer as he is a puncher. We’ve seen glimpses of that in sections of his prior fights, and we are going to see more of it if Keith and Kell get inside the squared circle. I don’t reckon Brook can hang in there.

Deontay Wilder. Record: 35 W 0 L 0 D
Quite honestly, the heavyweight division is one of the weakest in boxing right now. And so, unbelievably, it may be one of the few divisions where an undefeated record would not raise too many eyebrows. But looking at Deontay’s resume, it is quite pale bar a couple of marquee names. And as with many others in this list, he seems to be quite comfortable going back to fighting much weaker boxers by accepting layup matches. But when you have reached a certain ceiling, and your record has over 30 fights, this should never be the case. I can always find a skilled enough name, if not big enough name, to pose threat to your undefeated record. Such as this next name.

Fighter that can take away his “O”:  Luis Ortiz. Ortiz is already set to take on Bryant Jennings, which should be an interesting fight in itself. Jennings himself is a candidate to take away Wilder’s “O”. But what he gains in speed, he lacks in power. Ortiz on the other hand is a more technical fighter who may not run circles around Wilder, but will unleash combinations on the inside. And good feet versus wilder may not be very necessary to begin with, because it is usually Wilder who does the circling around. You need someone very methodical to chase him down or lure him in. Both which I think Luis Ortiz is capable of doing.

Mikey Garcia. Record: 34 W 0 L 0 D
A great cloud shrouds over the career of Mikey at this point. It has been over a year and a half since his last fight. His trainer and brother, Robert Garcia,has other fighters who are with Top Rank, so the problem seems to exist only between Mikey and Top Rank. It’s difficult to point any fingers in this situation. I’m positive Mikey wants to get back in the ring. But I’m quite sure Top Rank won’t allow this unless he does so under their banner. So what that results in is a quagmire, which only makes Mikey look bad as he was supposed to be at a point in his career by now where every fight would be super fight. That is not the case, and he would probably take a tune up fight on his return. But his record dictates he should not and jump into the ring with an elite fighter. Someone like this next fighter who has already established himself as just that in his mini career.

Fighter that can take away his “O”:  Vasyl Lomachenko. Since Mikey’s last fight was at 130, I am going to assume he comes back at 130. But I have to be honest, I don’t see a fighter that would threaten Mikey’s O at the Super Featherweight division. Oscar Valdez maybe, but Top Rank will not risk such a great prospect in Valdez in this stage of his career. Featherweight division at 126 is however a different story. I believe Vasyl Lomachenko has a very real chance against Mikey. And with Vasly’s discipline, I think he can put on a few pounds, and adjust to his newfound weight at the Super Featherweight division as he moves up seamlessly. I am least convinced about Mikey losing his “O” than any other fighters with undefeated records in this article. This is because Mikey’s resume was very impressive up to the point of his lengthy lay off, and he had fought almost all of the top fighters in his division. And if isn’t clear from my tone already, I rate him very highly. And so I can’t sincerely say that Vasyl would usurp him. But I would not discount Lomachenko in any fight.

 

 

 

 

A look at Viktor Postol’s future-Crawford or not? If not Crawford, then who?

By: Rahat Haque - October 12, 2015

 

With the Klitschko brother’s dominance in the heavy weight division, it always leads to questions as to what is it they do that make them so effective. I have asked myself this question many times. While it is true that the current heavyweight division pales in comparison to that of the old, every story has to be looked at from both sides for better analysis. While we all unanimously concede that the heavy weight division today maybe one of the poorest out there in boxing, you also need need to put your analyst hat on, and determine what it is about the Klitschko brothers that make them so successful. The formula can be simplified to this: A strong jab+ height.

If you are powerfully built, stand tall, and have mastered the technicalities of the jab, you shall be a force to be reckoned with. The jab is the quickest punch any fighter possesses, if you land first every time with enough force to deter the opponent from throwing his own shots or minimize the effect, who is to stop you? While this idea was always in my mind, it resurfaced very strongly once again in the Matthyse-Postol fight. Postol decimated Mattyhse with the jab, and it was clear that Mattyhse was not ready for it. Viktor Postol, just like his Ukrainian heavyweight counterparts, is tall for his division. He is known for being a technical fighter. And he has a fierce jab. Has he then got the formula down packed?

His resume is decent. He has had victories over Demarcus Corley, Hank Lundy, Selcuk Aydin and now Lucas Mattyhse in his 28 bout career. How much of the Mattyhse victory was due to due to his opponent’s accumulated attrition over so many fights is yet to be seen. But based on his talent scout report, will his height and jab take him a long way in the division?I don’t think it will, if he is at all serious in his proclamation about wanting to fight Crawford next.  And I don’t think he should take what should be toughest test at 140 right after just acquiring a top notch victory in the division. I would like to see it as a fan, but not if I’m his manager. And that is only because I think there are other great fights to be made which would equally be as epic as a showdown with Crawford. He made a very practical comment in his post-fight conference that a fight with Adrien Broner was out of the question because the latter was a Al Haymon fighter. By the same light, other potential bouts at 140 such as Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson will also have to be ruled out.

That leaves Postol with Ruslan Provodnikov,Ray Beltran, Jose Benavidez, Thomas Dulorme and Amir Imam. Any other guys currently active in 140 don’t have quite the name or skills to be significant for Postol. And interesting enough, all of the aforementioned guys are contracted by Top Rank. So the likelihood of any of these fights happening is high. Right away, I canpositively say that the Jose Benavidez fight is out of the question even though he would pose the stiffest challenge to  Postol after Crawford. Standing at the same height as Postol at 5’11, and arguably being more skilled and agile, it would be a great fight and potentially a tough one for both parties. Top Rank will not risk their recently uncovered star at Postol, and they certainly won’t risk their future box office star in Benavidez. Jose’s fight against Herrera was a major step up, but it is a fight that’s result is still disputed.

The Beltran and Provodnikov fights could get made. It would certainly be a clash of styles, with those guys shorter and stockier than Postol, and better close up fighters. But considering Postol’s recent victory against an outstanding banger in Mattyhse, I think Postol has the tools to win those match ups. But I am not convinced as both Beltran and Provodnikov can apply pressure in a way that Mattyhse can’t. So don’t be surprised if Postol fights one of these guys next. Top Rank have sold us lesser appetizing fights before, and while something tells me it could be a breeze for Postol, there should be still enough interest in the fight.

But the fights I would really would like to see are Viktor Postol vs Amir Imam and Thomas Dulormee, both stand just half an inch shorter than Postol at 5’101/2 . Both have similar styles to Postol. And both seem like they are on the same caliber as Postol in terms of skill and mindset, though Amir Imam carries the type of power to set him apart from both Dulorme and Postol. He is also a bit green in not having step up in a way that Postol and Dulorme both have in their careers, win or lose. Top Rank won’t give Postol as a first step up fight for Imam. Too risky.

That only leaves Dulorme, and this is the fight I want to see happen. Before his loss to Crawford he was on a very mean streak. He lost to Abregu as well, but that only tells me that he is not afraid to let it go and takes chances. This is especially true with his new coach Robert Garcia, who is known for advocating aggressive strategies. For the future of the division, I think it’s safe to assume that Postol and Dulorme would see themselves as direct competitors. 9/10 times the technical fighter usually has one up over the banger. Well these are both technical fighters, and both can up the ante when it needed be. If Viktor gets past Dulorme, then he can take on Crawford. But I sincerely believe he needs preparatory match before he can face Crawford. Benavidez,Imam and Dulorme can give him the best preparation, in that order. But Top Rank will only offer Dulorme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Experience at the Barclays Center and my scorecards for the televised card


04-13-2015 - I've been a hardcore boxing fan for some 5 years now. It is the scoring aspect that fascinates me the most about the sweet science. But I always have to rely on the TV to score fights, so I thought the time was ripe for me to go down to a live event, and last Saturday night was the perfect opportunity. I didn't get a floor seat, but got a seat in the next tier right after the floor seats that is most closest to the ring. To be perfectly honest, it still seemed too far. With boxing, it seems to be either ringside seats or nothing in terms of viewing enjoyment. But those who are more regular fight goers may correct me on that.

    

Much has been said about the lackluster matchmaking so far in PBC's short lifespan. But if we are to go by the action last night at the Barclays Center, it was PBC's best boxing card by a long shot. I was always under the impression that the main event and co main event were very evenly matched, the split decision and majority decision that came out of those fights respectively proves it. I being the scorer that I am of course did my own scoring to hold the judges accountable, and it checks out. Both were extremely close fights, and I shall delve into my score cards later.  But more importantly, as I was heading back to Bronx from Brooklyn on the 4 train, I began to ponder on a few things.


Did I mostly agree with the judges and thought they did a good job because in I was there at the event?


Mind you, there are many advantages TV scoring has over live scoring.


1) You can seclude yourself from all others while at your home. Especially for a serious scorer such as me, I prefer to watch all the matches by myself. In an arena, you are left at the mercy of people left and right cheering or heckling to disrupt your concentration.

 

Was this the case with my experience? Yes.


2) You are always guaranteed unobstructed views on TV. This might not always be the case when viewing it the arena, as someone in a row in front of you may rise unexpectedly.

 

Was this the case with my experience? Not really, because as I said before I had a pretty good seat, just two rows in front of me before the floor seating started.


3) You have way better audio quality from a TV. Yes, that's right. As said before, unless you get a ringside seat, any noise that comes from the ring gets drowned pretty quickly by the noise of the crowd. And the crowd  was loud. What you cannot distinguish in TV as far as home support, you certainly can identify it when you are there live. Quillin having spent a part of his life in Brooklyn got immense support. ( Though it must be said Lee got a fair bit of support as well, that should be credit to his legion of loyal Irish fans some of who were strategically located in the floor seats to voice their support. But in the Garcia vs Peterson, all the support overwhelmingly to Garcia. 20 % of New Yorkers are of Puerto Rican descent. That means one out of 5 people have Rican blood. Anyway, because of all the cheering and jeering, the sound of many punches cannot be heard at all, this is never the case when watching a fight on TV.

 

Was this the case with my experience? Absolutely yes.

 

So anyway, time for the reveal, these were the score cards I had for each fight.Below are my scorecards for Quillin- Lee and Garcia-Peterson respectively.


Peter Quillin

ROUND

Andy Lee

10

1

8

10

2

9

10

3

10

9

4

10

10

5

9

9

6

10

8

7

10

10

8

9

10

9

9

9

10

10

9

11

10

10

12

9



Final Score: 114- 113 Peter Quillin




Garcia

ROUND

Peterson

10

1

9

10

2

9

9

3

10

9

4

10

9

5

10

10

6

9

10

7

9

9

8

10

10

9

9

9

10

10

9

11

10

10

12

9


Final Score: 114- 114 Draw


The general consensus on the Quillin-Lee fight was that it was very close, and perhaps Quillin had the slight edge. But on Garcia-Peterson, many are seem to be saying that Danny has received yet another gift. Though I don’t see how as I thought it was nail bitingly close. So close that I had it a draw. But back to my question about live event judging vs TV judging. I personally don’t think the judges have any excuse, they are ones closest to the ring. But were my cards so close to the ones the judges had because I was in there in the live event? Would it have differed significantly had I scored it from the privacy of my home? That is the question.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Day I Met Superman

By: Rahat Haque - October 7, 2014

 

Boxing history is often so interesting because of its vastness. There will always be new fighters you discover, either spanning through the generations or from the current crop . But it is more the past boxers I'm focusing on rather than active ones, because you often shake your head in disbelief as to how  you could have overlooked their careers, and thus missed a slice of boxing history.  And we aren't even talking about just any Joe Schmoe from down the street. We aren't even talking about semi decent fighters. We are talking about very accomplished pugilists, who have left behind some sort of legacy. What are the signs of accomplishment you say? Well, there are a few. Who have you fought? What is your record? Were you ever a title holder? Well, the last criterion doesn’t hold much water anymore because the game is inundated with belts these days. But not to digress from the issue, the fact is, a combination of those three factors will be sure to garner awe and admiration.  

I met such a name this Sunday at my local boxing gym. I have followed the sport for many years now, but it was only my 3rd time inside a boxing gym for training purposes, as I recently decided to try the sport out for myself after closely following it on TVfor so many years.  And I consider myself lucky to have met Aaron "Super Man" Davis. Former WBA champion of the world, with a fearsome record of 49-6. He fought the likes of Meldrick Taylor, just to give you a sense of the level of competition he was accustomed to. But I knew nothing of this as he walked in through the gym door, very casually. I was wrapping my hands, and I had muddled the steps which follow one another. So I asked the man who just sat down behind the main desk, ''hey man, I went over my wrists 3 times, should I put it through my fingers before going over my knuckles?'' He grabbed my hands and started wrapping them for me. '' “Wow'', that's nice of him, I thought to myself. He said “you never go through your fingers with hand wraps''. I tried to explain how the other trainer the other day told me it that it was a step in the hand wrapping process, but Aaron would hear none of it. He was very adamant in his system, ''you only go between the fingers with the gauze, not wraps'', he said. He further said “that’s how fighters break their hands”.

When I returned home from training that day, I was reminiscing all the memories that day with the Superman. He had expressed his discontentment at my work at the heavy bags, and had told me “I don’t like the way you are punching, your hands drop every time you throw a punch”.  He was nice enough to assign me a temporary trainer for a few minutes, even though I wasn’t paying for the trainer and was only a regular member. So all these things began to swirl at my mind because as you would imagine, it didn't take much time for me at all to study Aaron's career. As a longtime fan of the sport, I'm always looking for fighters to discover and analyze, and I was still psyched knowing who I had met earlier that day. And it felt so good to be residing in a borough which had given us boxers like Jake LaMota, Iran Barkley, and now to my knowledge, also Aaron Superman Davis! When we think of Superman in boxing today, we think of Adonis Stevenson, but you should know that there was a welterweight superman running wild in 80s and 90s. You should also know that today he runs a boxing club in the Bronx called Morris Park Boxing Club and seems to be doing fine, full of energy and advice. You should also know that he is very humble, because I don’t know for how long I could have kept my mouth shut if I had once got into the ring with the great Meldrick Taylor.

Now back to the question of hand wrapping, I actually found that it was more painful to not go through the fingers. I preferred going through the fingers a lot more. Or perhaps the pain was more psychological, because I had wrapped my hands differently the previous two times I had been in the gym and felt quite comfortable. But either ways, despite my pain I wasn't going to say anything about it to the Superman. I couldn't hurt the feelings of the former champ of the world. I just couldn't bear to do it. Perhaps that is a testament to the reverence I have for the sport's greats. But the next time I see him at his gym, you can bet I will greet him with the words '' Superman is in the building!''.

 

 

 

 

 

Shawn Porter vs Kell Brook Scorecard and Round by Round Breakdown
By: Rahat Haque - August 17, 2014

Sometimes we score the fight not merely to keep the judges honest, but to keep ourselves honest. My scorecard blatantly disagrees with the scorecards t all  three judges turned in on Saturday night's Shawn Porter vs Kell Brook. I had Porter winning comfortably, as evident from my scorecard. But I haven't seen a massive outcry from anyone just yet, and the tension is driving me crazy as to what people really made out of the fight, and whether they are scared to open their mouths as to being ridiculed for not having it  close, or for not having it for Porter? But that is precisely why scorers like me will score all major fights, so  we always have our own set of opinions and subjectivity to measure against. Whether it be against the judges, TV stations or the fans. Because unless you score the fights diligently, how can you argue for your case? And so I did, and in a future article I shall pontificate on some things as to why Porter could NOT have lost last night. Or alternatively, I may learn something new. For now, here is my usual round by round breakdown.

Final score: 117-111 Shawn Porter

1- Porter absolutely jumps Brook, and keeps the pace up throughout the entire round, never letting it go. He throws and lands more punches as Special K can’t conjure a reply just yet, and whatever he throws is only reactionary to what Porter does. Winner: Porter

2- Much closer round, Brook makes impact with his left jabs and straight rights, but Porter continues to keeps his pace up, and touches Kell all over the body.  He is also the more aggressive one with out there and Kell’s constant retreat and clinching in this case cannot be taken as a sign of god ring generalship when he doesn't have the lead. Porter sneaks  in way too many  punches to Brook’s sides and takes the round. Winner: Porter

3- Porter is still relentless, his work output alone will make things close every time, with every hard shot landing from him a bonus. And so Shawn takes this one as well, with his straight rights and hooks matching up to Brook’s shots. Kell needs to try to stifle Shawn’s output or at least match it in order to start winning some rounds. Winner: Porter

4- Some semblance of defense showed by Porter as he slips a lot of punches, in a fight where defense hasn't played  a major role yet and hasn't been a strong suit from either fighter. So together with this round’s defensive impact and the continuation of his terrific pace, Porter continues to be the alpha dog in there.  Winner: Porter

5- An almost identical round to the last, Brook still not punching enough to win any rounds, he has virtually no combinations. Porter on the other hand, continues to sneak in punches to the sides of the body, even when it seems that the two are inactive. Winner: Porter

6- Brook jabs more frequently, but it isn't enough because Porter hasn't slowed down one bit. He gets startled a few times, but continues to touch Brook all over, in the body and in the side of the head. Winner: Porter

7- Closest round of the fight, in the fact the only close one so far. Brook finally matches up with Porter’s effectiveness, turns him in a couple of instances and gets him in trouble with his right crosses and hooks. Porter replies to those blows by backing Brook along the ropes and hammering him all over. Shawn  is way more aggressive to counter whatever ring generalship Kell is showing, and he also has the better defense. Bobbing and weaving way more now as Brook is more trigger friendly. Brook’s defense is in his seldom spurts of offense which is already take into account when scoring the points, and hence not considered. So still a Porter round. Winner: Porter

8- Another extremely close round, 2nd one in a row, this one Brook just takes the edge, as Porter seems to have run out of pace. With the round slowing down, Brook doesn’t have Porter’s massive punch output to worry about and makes more of an impact with his left jabs and straight rights to get the nod. Winner: Brook

9- Yet another close round, Porter’s great engine is finally out of gas it seems, meaning Brook’s cleaner shots now make all the difference as Porter doesn’t have much coming back. An even when he does, it isn't with the same energy, so Brook’s counters shine there as well. Easily a Brook round. Winner: Brook

10-Yet another close round, and perhaps the closest one of the fight so far. The punch output and effectiveness of the two fighters seems non distinguishable. With Porter not backing up Brook all throughout the round anymore, these are much more open rounds, with more shots traded in the middle of the ring. Porter wins it with the last shot of the round. Winner: Porter

11- For the first time, Brook’s ring generalship blows Porter’s aggression out of the water, as the former turns the latter many times during the fight and lands almost all of the crispier shots. Even on punch output, Brook is ahead, and so this one was a pretty straightforward round for Kell. Winner: Brook

12- There is resurgence to Porter’s pace, but Brook has found form with his flow. A pretty close round considering everything, but Porter thumps it home with his better defense which as mentioned before wasn't seen much in this fight. Porter’s head movement is terrific and Brook certainly misses on more than one occasion, while Porter is able to counter Brook’s clinches by punching to the ribs repeatedly using his free arm. Winner: Porter

 

 

 

 

 

My Scorecard And Round by Round Breakdown For Provodnikov vs Algieri

By: Rahat Haque - June 17, 2014

1. Algieri doesn’t see Provodnikov’s left hook coming as it drops him. The rest of the round isn't really the same, as Algieri seems to be in survival mode and goes down one more time on a Ruslan left right combination. Winner: Ruslan Provodnikov.

2. Whereas previously Algieri might have had one or two thoughts about exchanging with Ruslan to land a well-placed shot of his own, that game plan is terminated, which tuns out to be  blessing in disguise for the Long Islander. Instead Algieri outboxes his opponent, circling and outpointing him effectively. Brilliant recovery from the first round hiccups, and Chris is in control now. Winner: Chris Algieri.

3. A closer round than the last one, Provodnikov shows some good defense blocking a lot of Algieri’s long range shots on the gloves, but he himself waits far too long to land. Whenever he gets set, Aligeri changes his position, frustrating him, and hits him clean with his own shots. Ruslan needs to do much more if he wants to win. Winner: Chris Algieri.

4. Algieri's pace setting is lovely in the way he sets the tone for the round. When Chris isn’t touching him with the jab, he is clinching effectively. Provodnikov's timing is thrown off completely, Algieri outboxes him. Provodnikov trusts his power too much, and needs to pick up the work rate if he wants to grab these rounds. Winner: Chris Algieri.

5. Ruslan comes back to win this round, with everything else being the same as before, he lands couple of very hard shots throughout the round, especially in the end. Aligieri’s motor can only take him so far before he is forced to exchange with Provodnikov momentarily. And those moments are telling   enough to give Provodnikov the edge. Winner: Ruslan Provodnikov.

6. Provodnikov shows more urgency, but he isn't effective.  Algieri  makes him miss wildly a few times, while continuing to simply outworks him with that terrific long jab of his. It is not the strongest, but is is the most pestering. Ruslan doesn’t have the answers to gain any sort of control it seems. Winner: Chris Algieri.

7. Provodnikov's distance is much better in this round, Aligieri can't reach him as easily with his jabs as he has done for the most of the fight. On top of that Ruslan tweaks his strategy slightly and is more determined to go to Chris’ body. Chris’s motor has once again slowed down, this time due to some very hard body shots landed by the Siberian. Winner: Ruslan Provodnikov.

8. Very similar to round 5, a strong surge by Ruslan towards the end enables him to win this round. Algieri’s ring generalship is matched to the dot by Provodnikov aggression, so those things are neutralized. And there isn't much defense shown by either fighter either. So all that being said, Ruslan pulls ahead by just landing the more meaningful punches. Winner: Ruslan Provodnikov.

9. Very clear round for Algieri. Provodnikov’s own engine comes to a stuttering halt, he drags his feet to get closer to Algieri which means Aligieri can take his own foot of the gas while continuing to implement his stick and move gameplan. Chris’s jabs are better than Ruslan's hooks in this round, as simple as that. Winner: Chris Algieri.

10. Closest round of the fight so far, but Provodnkov has virtually no defense, it shouldn't be this easy for Algieri to constantly touch Provodnikov. And his sluggish feet movement is carries over to this round from the last as he just doesn't seem to pose any real danger for Algieri. They both exchange shots, but it is Algieri who seems to ascending, making quicker decisions in the middle of the ring. Winner: Chris Algieri.

11. In  this round, Chris’s work rate declines severely, which is good news for Ruslan as he automatically looks like the better man in the squared circle, landing the more thudding shots against a guy who isn't punching as regularly as before. Also, there seems to be more urgency from Ruslan he goes back to the body. Chris is found retreating linearly instead of circularly a couple of times which works to his disadvantage. Winner: Ruslan Provodnikov.

12. Provodnikov  very smartly builds a lead earlier on in this round by closing in like he is known to do and trapping Algieri a few of times on the ropes. As the round goes on, things even up in terms of punch output, but for once Ruslan’s aggression seems to superimpose  the ring generalship of the man from Huntington. Whenever they both land simultaneous punches, Ruslan seems to come off better and his strong surge earlier on helps to him to seal the round. Winner: Ruslan Provodnikov.

Final Score: 114-112 Ruslan Provodnikov.

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Quillin vs Lukas Konecny Fight Breakdown
By: Rahat Haque - April 21, 2014


Quillin was expected to win and he did, however I was shocked to hear some Boxnation's comments about how one could give Konency any rounds at all. The matter of fact is, one could definitely give him one or more rounds depending on how they saw the fight. Such dismissive arrogance by any analyst is not appreciated, be it from Teddy on this side of the pond, or Bunce on the other side.

Anyway, here is how I saw it.

My final score: 119-109 Peter Quillin

1 and 2 - Too easy for Quillin. Nowhere near enough punches thrown by  Konecny to even begin considering any other factors that goes into determining a winner for the rounds. Winner: Quillin.

3- Finally Konecny shows up, more of a back and forth round, but Quillin’s punches have more authority.  Konency’s punches are mere pitter patter punches and have absolutely no effect on Quillin. Winner: Quillin.

4-Identical to round 4, except that Pete is even more convincing in this round. He brings in the shoulder roll defense and is successful with it. Konecny is just walking in straight lines and can’t get any leverage on his punches. Winner: Quillin.

5- Strongest surge by Konency so far into the fight, but it is too little in volume and it comes too late. Quillin, for his part is successful  at consistently keeping Konency at bay with his constant jabbing, and even his jabs seem to carry more power than Konecny’s hooks. Also Konency is too selective as to when to begin punching. Winner: Quillin.

6- With everything being more or less the same as the previous five rounds, Quillin steps it up further by unloading more heavy body shots, thus making his case more convincing than ever before and bags  this round as well. Winner: Quillin.

7- Pretty close round, Konency for the first time in the match makes any real sustained effort in winning the round. But Quillin is ever ready, returning every surge of Konency with his own more effective surges. No matter what Konecny does, Quillin remains calm, maneuvering Konency around the ring like a dog on a leash, displaying remarkable ring generalship.  Winner: Quillin.

8- A very similar round to the last round, but Qullin’s shots are much harder than his opponent’s.  It is as simple as that. One can see the full advantage Quillin has in the difference in weight. Winner: Quillin.

9- Finally, Konency makes some inroads in at least outworking Quillin, as Quillin takes a bit of a breather it seems. Still, Quillin’s shots are way more stinging, but he doesn’t display his usual smooth ring generalship in this one, and Konency gives the impression of cornering Pete more easily. Pete gets edged out, but barely. Winner: Konency.

10- A very stylish round for Quillin, his work rate remains low as in the previous round, but his great defense minimizes what Lukas is able to accomplish. Flashes of the shoulder roll is in display, and he is successful in dodging all of Lukas’s loaded shots with fantastic reflexes. His superior ring generalship again surfaces its head, and completely neutralizes whatever aggression Lukas has. This is a good summary round for the entire fight. Winner: Quillin

11-Konecny throws the kitchen sink at Quillin by his own meager standards. It is clear that he is battling a losing a cause. Quillin is ready for everything Konency throws at him, and again the power disparity between his own punches and Konency’s punches are shocking, and Quillin does enough to prevail. Winner: Quillin.

12- Konency keeps the high tempo, and is finally successful in making some dents in Quillin, his aggression being utilized smartly. There is a low blow in this round on Konency. And after this incident, Quillin seems to come back strong with his own shots, and makes up for Konency’s earlier domination. His superior defense once again resurfaces as many of Konency’s punches are absorbed on the sides of Quillin’s gloves. Winner: Quillin.

 

 

 

Pacquiao- Bradley II Fight Analysis
By: Rahat Haque - April 13, 2014

My score: 115-113 Manny Pacquiao
Bradley’s rounds: 1, 3,4,5,8.
Pacquiao’s rounds: 2,6,7,9,10,11,12.

The Breakdown

1- The first round is usually the hardest to score because of the lack of action, and it was the case in this match as well. There wasn't much separating the two, punches landed on each was almost equal yet Bradley seemed more assertive with his punches. Pacquiao got pushed back a couple of times with shots to the chest. Winner: Bradley.

2- Everything was the same as it was in round 1. There were more punches thrown, but there were an equal no. of misses from both sides thus balancing the prospects of each fighter. However, some of Pac's misses were half effective, in that some part of it hit Bradley's gloves, and the rest of the punch touched Bradley's face. Some of Bradley's misses however came nowhere close to Pac's face. Pac's triangle defense was excellent as he took a lot of shots on his wrists holding his forearms up in a triangular gesture. Winner: Pacquiao.

3,4,5- Bradley began to outwork Pacquiao with everything else being the same is in the first two rounds. Also Bradley himself showed a bit of defense, a la Pernell Whitaker style, sometimes being successful with it, and at other times not. But he certainly buttressed his performance with this defensive aspect.  Bradley also dazed Pacquiao more than once in the 4th round. It was the one round where his Bradley's strategy of catching Pac with an overhead hook worked. Pac's motion slowed down immediately after the shots, and he seemed to basically concede round 4 knowingly. Bradley started to regress a bit in the 5th round, relying too much on his defense on his backfoot and not mixing up his angles, but it was still enough to pull ahead.  Winner: Bradley

6,7- Pac simply outworked Bradley in these two rounds. Bradley also had a strategic faux pas it seemed, letting Pac do more of the chasing whereas before they had taken turns in being the aggressor. And Bradley’s defense wasn’t par on handling a Pacquiao offense which wasn’t exactly supreme to be honest, with a lot of ineffective blows, but in a case of which was worse, Bradley’s defense tactics had become at times laughable. He could have tried to square off against Pac, which would present a better case for the judges. Winner: Pacquiao.

8- Pac’s sense of urgency waned in this round. Even urged on by Bradley to attack, he seemed very reluctant. This was probably a premeditated breather round. Bradley capitalized by making this a close one, the punch output from both sides were identical, but Bradley had more time to think and thus picked his spots in the round, and left with the more memorable punches. Winner: Bradley.

9,10,11,12-This was the complete opposite of the Manny we saw in the last fight. Instead of taking his foot of the gas, he pressed hard on it. But Tim was equally as relentless, and was connecting some effective punches just as Pacquiao was. They had gone back to taking turns of being the aggressor as it was the case in the earlier rounds. Pacquiao’ triangle defense and Tim’s bobbing and weaving head defense both had their shining moments. But what separated the two was Pacquiao’s markedly better ring generalship which had actually began to take effect way earlier on the in the second half of the fight. Tim was retreating and avoiding certain punches like his life depended on it, losing his balance awkwardly on more than one occasion. Pacquiao’s balance on the other hand was steady. It was clear that Pacquiao was making Tim exert too much energy. Tim rediscovered that he could use his jab to supplement his overhead hooks, but it was too little too late. Pacquiao pulled ahead.

 

Winner: Pacquiao
 

 

 

 

 

Eddie’s Biggest Stage Yet

By: Rahat Haque - January 29, 2014

There are so many reasons why one loves the sport of boxing. One of those reasons is nationalism. It gives rising stars the platform to represent their nations. Be it sporting gear with their country’s flag emblazoned on it, attracting international media and holding parts of press conferences in their native language or walking into the ring with thier country’s flag behind them. Just like products in the business world, boxers also have to strive to create differentiating points about themselves through which they will be remembered in the eyes of the fans. So it is quite interesting when a boxer shows off their national pride as much as Eddie Gomez does for his parent’s birthplace, Honduras.

With a record of 15-0 in the light middleweight division, Eddie Gomez, who goes by the moniker “E Boy” is a rising prospect signed to Golden Boy. The 154 division is rich with All-Stars; names such as Miguel Cotto, Austin Trout, Canelo Alvarez, Vanes Martirosayan, Erislandy Lara rule the roost. More recently, the Charlo twins, and Brian rose from across the pond have thrown their names into the mix of the 154 elite. E boy Eddie Gomez hasn’t reached those heights yet and is carefully handled by his management team, who are moving him along at a slow but steady pace. But from scouting him, one can say that he carries himself with the poise to face his first major test whenever that maybe in the future. Notable names in his resume include Luis Hernandez and Steve Upshers chambers. But both these fighters have lost to higher skilled opposition themselves when asked to step up. But a fighter can only fight opposition put in front of him to build his name before calling anyone out, and so far E Boy has done an excellent job, not being phased at the slightest to fight in big time locations such as MSG in New York or the MGM in Las Vegas. There is a video out there in the internet where he and his entourage is walking to MSG, all sporting navy blue gear, the Honduran Flag embossed in one arm and the American flag in the other. From speaking in an urban Bronx accent, Eddie seamlessly switches to Spanish, and back to English again. In the middle of his walk, he breaks into a traditional Garifuna dance. The Garifuna people is an African tribe in the Caribbean with large diaspora in central America, notably Honduras where Eddie’s parents come from. Growing up in Bronx, Eddie still seems to fully relish his roots.

This Thursday Eddie fights at the Barclays Center, a place where he has fought three times already in his short career. His opponent is Daquan Arnett, undefeated at 11-0. It won’t be the first time Eddie’s faced a fellow undefeated fighter as he cruised past an unbeaten Luis Hernandez in MSG back in 2012. But as stated before, that can hardly be considered a test as Hernandez hasn’t even fought since then! So serious doubts rise as to how good he really was. The same can be said of Arnett, because his current tally of 11 fights hardly makes him a test for anyone, especially as all the fighters he faced with winning records have been on losing streaks lately, again posing the question, how good were they really?

But that being said, Arnett is rated highly and Gomez is showing him respect saying he is a good slick boxer, but not before reminding us that he has already beaten him in the amateurs. Paulie Malignaggi who is more of media man than a boxer these days, has gone on record saying that he didn’t expect Gomez and Arnett to face each other so early in their careers. But that’s what boxing is all about, the best fighting the best, even if it is in this context of two rising prospects duking it out. Expect a lot of things from Eddie E Boy Gomez; but most of all, expect him to represent the blue and white of Honduras.

 

 

 

 

The Cuban State of Mind
By: Rahat Haque - January 6, 2014

Rances Barthelemy  threw his name into the hat of top Cuban boxers after his controversial victory over Argenis Mendez last Friday. But despite the controversial end in the 2nd round, one must be reminded that he won the 1st round pretty convincingly and thus was more than up to the task of matching Mendez.

What is it about Cuban boxers that make them so good? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they are hard to beat. When not cruising to victory themselves, they will at least make the fight competitive enough for you to wait for the judge’s decision. It really is a scorer’s paradise, because you know the fight will go down to the wire when these Cubans are matched evenly. And you want to be the one to check the judges by scoring the fight yourself, just to see how well the judges performed. To demonstrate this crafty style of boxing, where you always give yourself a shot to win rounds and thus win the match, I talk about 3 Cuban boxers who will always be in close fights and win most of them.

Luis Franco
If you have ever seen this guy fight, he is as cagey as they come. Always on the move, never compromising his position without being absolutely sure, when not winning convincingly he has the ability to make any fight close. This is reflected in his resume.  In his last 5 fights, 3 of them were split decisions. One win, one draw and one loss respectively. His last fight against featherweight top prospect Javier Fortuna ended up being called a draw. He had stepped up his level of competition previously, and did more than enough to hang with them, but his fight against ring magazine ranked Javier Fortuna was as stern a test as any out there. And again he did more than enough to hang with him, he got a draw. Considering Javier Fortuna is deemed to be a future champion, I say Franco passed his test with flying colors. And this is what makes Cuban boxers so special, they have the skills to survive. You can never count them out. Unless you beat them convincingly, how can you dismiss their talent? They have as much a right as anyone to hover around the elite zone without actually being elite.

On to my next case.

Richard Abril
Here is a guy who has been fighting good competition for some time now, despite having only 22 fights under his belt. This is again a common feature in Cuban fighters, they come into the pro game late, and thus are pushed faster in their careers to make up for the lost time. But anyway, back to Abril, here is another example of a guy supremely confident in his skill set and an obstinate reluctance to not step outside his comfort zone. And why blame him when is risking split decisions because of his fighting style? Indeed, Abril’s all 3 losses came as a result of SDs, one of which was a total robbery against Brandon Rios. But I think I made my point, if you model yourself as a fighter who when can never be beat convincingly, can you hold that against him?

And then there is Lara, the epitome of close comfort.

Erislandy Lara
His skill level is off the charts, and yet he can’t always put the match to rest like he did against Austin Trout in his last fight. His fight prior to that was going down to the wire, before Angulo was retired hurt. And he has 2 majority decisions, a loss and a draw against Paul Williams and Carlos Molina respectively. While many label his loss against Williams a gross robbery, it was still pretty close in my cards. And again it is that Cuban circumspect style of fighting. Not wasting any punches, and relying on the quality of work.  Another example of this is his fight against Martirosyan was also declared a draw as a result of the TD after 9 rounds of action. Again, the margin was close but  had him ahead, but his style did no favors with the judges as they split their scorecards with one for Lara,one for Martirosyan and one draw.

And so Rances  Barthelemy is another great Cuban fighter, but made of the same mold. Before his victory against Mendez, he won a controversial decision against Arash Usmanee according to many fans. I had that one a draw, 114-114. But the question remains, how many close decisions are to come in Barthelemy’s career when matched against top level competition? Last Friday’s fight was an aberration more than anything. And how many more close decisions are to come in the careers of Luis Franco, Richar Abril and Erislandy Lara? They are all great, but maybe it’s a case of their ego getting the better of them, as they think they have the 7 rounds bagged to win the 12 rounder.

 

 

 

My Top 10 Fights of 2013

By: Rahat Haque - December 21, 2013

I don’t believe in ranking fights purely based on how much blood was shed, or how much of a war it was. Rather, I have provided an assortment of categories by which you can allocate points to a fight. The tally of the points will reveal how great the fight was. The factors I consider are :

Excitement:                    Anticipation:                   Competitiveness:                 Skills in demonstration:    

The total points allocated for each factor is 25. Without further ado, here are my top 10 fights of 2013.

10) Luis Franco vs. Javier “El Abejon" Fortuna
Great fight for the avid scorer like me. The official scores are all over the place so it is one you have to see yourself as the great prospect Fortuna finds out how hard it can be to beat a well-schooled Cuban. Oh, by the way, the power went out in the middle of this fight. You really had to keep your concentration when returning to that particular round while scoring. Overall, it was great fight, extremely cagey at times with sudden bursts of wild action. I would like to believe it had something for everybody.

Excitement:13/25    Anticipation:5/25     Competitiveness:25/25    Skills in demonstration: 20/25   

Total score: 63/100

9)Floyd "Money" Mayweather vs. Robert " The Ghost" Guerrero
The return of a vastly improved Mayweather, which many thought wasn't possible given his age and layoff in jail, i.e., for him  to up his skill level and gamesmanship any more. But he did it. It is the type of fight which will make you believe Guerrero is the biggest bum in boxing, which he obviously isn't. So just consider the many levels of skill in boxing as you watch this one. Wonder how the difference between good and great can be so vast.

Excitement:15/25    Anticipation:20/25     Competitiveness:5/25    Skills in demonstration: 25/25   

Total score: 65/100

8)"Bad" Chad Dawson vs. Adonis Stevenson
I like this fight because of the spectacular quick finish but also the underdog factor going into the fight. Chad Dawson was supposed to return. And Stevenson was to be put in his place. Not what happened at all. A complete spoilage of plans. The buildup to this was great as well, although it might have gone unnoticed as the scene was set in Quebec City for a light heavyweight showdown. This is the shortest fight featured in this list.

Excitement:21/25    Anticipation:20/25     Competitiveness:8/25    Skills in demonstration: 20/25   

Total score: 69/100

7) Lucas "Da machine" Mattyhse vs. Lamont "Havoc" Peterson
An excellent fight between two high quality boxers. At this level, some of the swashbuckling shots you see at this fight was rare, for as it long as it lasted. People wanted to know if Mattyhse was for real, and they got their answer. Yet another fight which will make you think deeply about the difference of perceived skill level, as the margin between two fighters might be small, but in the ring that small difference can translate into something epic.

Excitement:23/25    Anticipation:23/25     Competitiveness:10/25    Skills in demonstration: 22/25   

Total score: 78/100

6) Andre “The Beast" Berto vs. "El Renuente" Jesus Soto Karass
Another fight made so sweet by the underdog angle going into the ring. A total transformation of Karass was seen in this event. Berto did the best he could and was succeeding according to the  judges as they had it pretty close going into the 12th round. But the the new Karass took matters into his own hands and finished Berto off with style.  

Excitement:25/25    Anticipation:19/25     Competitiveness:18/25    Skills in demonstration: 21/25   

 

Total score: 83/100

5) Tim "Desert Storm" Bradley vs. Ruslan “Siberian Rocky" Provodnikov
This is one fight many would have expected to see in the top 10 fights of 2013.. At the time of the fight you might’ve only heard about Provodnikov as a fringe fighter, and Bradley has been a boxing mainstay for some time now. But after this fight, both fighters would share equal time in the minds of the fans. It is a fight which proves the case once in for all that styles make fights. And one Bradley adopts one style against Provodnikov, the results are totally different as to when he adopts a different style against him. Just how different? You have to see this fight to believe it, if you haven’t done so already. An all-round exhibition of skills, heart and devotion.

Excitement:25/25    Anticipation:20/25     Competitiveness:22/25    Skills in demonstration: 18/25   

Total score: 85/100

4) Erislandy "El Oro de Guantanamo" Lara vs. Alfredo "Perro" Angulo
How good is Lara? At times he looks invincible and it can be argued that he is undefeated till now. But this is another good example of why style makes fights. Angulo does something to Lara which he never encountered before, but there are many ways to finish a fight. And Lara shows you one way.

Excitement:23/25    Anticipation:20/25     Competitiveness:20/25    Skills in demonstration: 23/25   

Total score: 86/100

3) "Saint" George Groves vs. Carl "The Cobra" Froch
This one is an example of when the anticipation of the fight wins you over even before the first bell rings. The English media does a tremendous job in building rivalries, and watching all the pre fight manufactured tension was just as much exciting as what transpired inside the ring. Georgie puts up a performance which shows that he is here to stay for good, and Froch pulls one out of the bag. A classic showcase of why winning rounds are not as important as finishing the fight.

Excitement:22/25    Anticipation:23/25     Competitiveness:22/25    Skills in demonstration: 20/25   

Total score: 87/100

2) Evgeny "Da Mexican Russian" Gradovich vs. Billy "Da kid" Dib (first fight)
This fight is great for so many reasons, but its reason for being so high up in this list is totally subjective, because I like scoring fights. And I like nothing more than scoring a close fight, just so I can compare my scorecard with the judges to see if the verdict was right or not. There are so many close and exciting rounds in this one, it is just unbelievable. The rounds are grueling as well, as you find yourself having to keep up with the many small intricate things going on inside the ring.

Excitement:25/25    Anticipation:18/25     Competitiveness:25/25    Skills in demonstration: 20/25   

Total score: 88/100

1) Nonito "Filipino Flash" Donaire vs. Guillermo “El Chacal" Rigondeaux
The mere fact this fight was even made was a blessing. The best fighting the best in their weight class? When does that ever happen? So just the anticipation of the fight meant more than anything else as you wanted to see who would win. The fans were split, and even those who were going for one fighter clearly made reservations saying they wouldn’t be surprised if the other side won. I had butterflies in my stomach before the 1st round, I felt oddly nervous even though I wasn’t someone who had a stake in this.  What took place inside the ring was just pure boxing lesson, as Nonito didn’t have the answers. He tried giving it everything later on only for it to backfire, and be on the run in the 12th round. But this is Nonito Donaire we’re talking about, and the fact that such a high level boxer could be brought back to earth so convincily is what makes this fight no. 1 in 2013. It was also every bit exciting because unlike the Mayweather Guerrero fight, you knew these fighters were more closely matched in terms of their skills, and that anything could still happen. It almost did for Donaire with a flash knockdown of Rigo.

Excitement:25/25    Anticipation:25/25     Competitiveness:15/25    Skills in demonstration: 25/25   

Total score: 90/100


 

 

 

Is the ridicule getting bittersweet?

By: Rahat Haque - December 17, 2013

Adrien Broner stepped into the ring against an always dangerous Marcos Maidana in Saturday night’s main event. I had predicted an easy win for AB and was made to eat humble pie by El Chino. I saw what Alexander did to Maidana in a fight I had scored a total shutout in the former’s favor. And  keeping that bout in the back of my mind, I had no doubts that a chameleon like Adrien Broner could easily replicate Alexander’s style and shut out Maidana in a similar fashion. He already does a pretty good shoulder roll, a la Floyd Mayweather, so tying up Maidana on the inside every time and using his wide stance to change angles on El Chino wasn’t out of the question. But as we all saw, that’s not how the fight went, and as a result, I have egg on my face as I write this article.   

But there is something to be said about Broner’s presumed fall from grace just after one fight. What is disconcerting about all this is how quickly people jump on Broner’s case on being a fraud, someone who supposedly had two prior losses against Ponce De Leon and Malignaggi before this Saturday night. Not true.  Such historical revisionism hardly fools anyone. When discussing those fights, 99% of fans on the forum boards and chat rooms quickly avoid a breakdown of the actual fights and quickly attack Broner’s character as a form of diversion.

 

The fight with Ponce De Leon was close 10 rounder, I had it 96-94 to Broner. But there were some swing rounds in between and so it is entirely conceivable why some fans might have thought PDL won, but it isn't enough to suggest robbery. From what I saw, AB landed the more crisp shots and had better defense all throughout the night, something which has become a trademark of his game. And it helps tremendously in scoring obviously, defense being one of the four major criteria in judging. 

 

The Malignaggi fight is what gets me riled up, because unlike the PDL fight, this wasn’t close at all in my opinion. I believe where many fans went wrong is allocating points in punches to the arm by Paulie, something you shouldn’t do as a judge. Shots to the biceps and triceps should automatically be discarded from the mind of a judge as the round progresses. On top of that, the better quality of work came from Broner coupled with his stellar defense as usual. Yes, Paulie might be credited for his ring generalship in some of those rounds, but Broner’s aggression mustn’t go unnoticed as well, as he brought the fight to Paulie for most of those rounds. But enough back tracking; let’s get back to this past Saturday night at the Alamodome.  I would argue the Broner you saw going in there had the right to be cocky from purely a human rights point of view. If that’s what gets people talking, then so be it. It’s his decision how he wants to present himself. And yes, it is all a presentation, nothing more. It’s  even goofy at times, not pure arrogance as associated with the great Naseem Hamed. Now the stuff that man said  made you really wonder about his belief in his own invincibility. With Broner, it was never the case. If you do enough video mining in YouTube you might even find one or two videos where Broner is being humble. He even praises Pacquiao in one of them, saying he still belongs in top 5 pound for pound list. Surprised? So it goes beyond the fact that Broner has one of boxing’s highest connect percentages. A lot of people were counting him out when he fought De Marco, saying the time had arrived for his comeuppance. Instead, he destroyed De Marco and did it effortlessly too.

So my argument merely is this, don’t hold this past Saturday’s performance or there lack of by Broner as some sort of proof to discredit the man’s skills. Give credit to Maidana instead, give credit to Robert Garcia’s game plan which was quite a beautiful one, the overhand right is indeed the hardest shot to protect with the Philly shell.

 

Give credit to Maidana’s chin, out of all the opposition AB faced, he seemed to be the least worn out by his power, his motor going strong into the last seconds of the last round.  It was one of the reasons he was continually able to stand square to him and dish out his own arsenal.

 

Give credit to the welterweight division, as when you move up, not only are you facing the possibility of your power not carrying through, but your oppositions’ punch resistance getting better. These are all factors you can bestow credit upon. But don’t use one defeat to tarnish and look down upon one man’s brief legacy, the little cove he has created for himself in the sport of boxing. Had he been not this cocky, would Maidana’s victory seem as sweet as it was? Look at the bright gleaming faces of the each person in  Maidana’s camp. They rejoiced the victory more than Broner’s camp would had they won, because they knew they were the underdogs. Gamblers are smart people who calculate risks for a living. They don’t get sold on hype, and odds in the match was  for a Broner victory as well. So he slipped, and if he is as egoistic as you all say, then the bruising his ego took should be punishment enough.  All said and done, Maidana  was clearly the better man last Saturday.

 

I had it 116-109 for El Chino. I gave Broner only three rounds, 3,7 and 12. And those two knock downs from Maidana were as legit as they come, no trips or push whatsoever. But I’m sure Broner will bounce back. People love to hate him. And it is the same reason thousands of boxing fans will be eagerly waiting for his first interview on his reflections on the Maidana fight. By the way, Broner did receive one gift in his career in my opinion. It was his win against Fernando Quintero in his 7th professional fight . So as you can see, I always call it as I see it. But as we look into the future, I think Broner’s skills can’t be overlooked and tossed aside, and only time will tell whether it was just one bad night for The Problem in San Antonio, or one very good night for El Chino.

** Rahat goes by the name TheGiftedMedia in Talkin Boxing With Billy C’s chatroom. He is a self -proclaimed boxing scoring addict, and scores every fight on his blackberry with the utmost attention.

 

 

 

 

 

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