Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez

By contrast, the long-running rivalry between Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Márquez, a crafty Mexican veteran, was compelling precisely because it wasn’t definitive. They fought to a draw in 2004, and then had two rematches, in 2008 and 2011; Pacquiao earned narrow victories in both, although many believed that Márquez deserved to win one, two, or all three of the fights. This past Saturday night, Pacquiao returned to the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas, to fight Marquez for the fourth time. And though most casual fans still thought of Pacquiao as the best boxer in the world, most experts considered him the underdog, and some even predicted that the ambiguous rivalry might finally see a definitive conclusion.
In the years since he knocked out Hatton, Pacquiao, who is thirty-three, seems to have slowed down, and become noticeably easier to hit. Meanwhile, Márquez, who is thirty-nine, looks brawnier than ever, a fact that did not escape the attention of Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach. In an interview with USA Today, Roach suggested that Márquez’s new body wasn’t “natural,” adding that the physical changes “throw up a red flag”; the implication was that Márquez might be using performing-enhancing drugs. Márquez credited the physical changes to his strength-and-conditioning coach, Angel Hernandez, which hardly quieted Roach’s suspicions: Hernandez used to be known as Angel Heredia, the man who reportedly admitted to supplying banned drugs to Marion Jones and other athletes. Boxing, which exists in a state of perpetual crisis, is currently trying to figure out how, and how much, to crack down on doping. (Thomas Hauser, a respected boxing reporter, recently wrote a two-part article that suggested that doping is widespread.) In the meantime, given the absence of reliable testing, it seems naïve to accept any boxer’s assurance of innocence—and unfair, too, to single out any one boxer for suspicious behavior.
But despite the cloud of allegations, and despite the fact that these fighters had met three times already, Pacquiao-Márquez IV generated a huge amount of excitement. It was broadcast on pay-per-view by HBO, with promotional help from ESPN—the two networks recently signed a programming agreement that has helped give boxing a higher profile on “SportsCenter,” making a niche sport seem, on nights like Saturday, almost mainstream again. The usual celebrities (Magic Johnson, Steven Seagal, 50 Cent) were ringside, along with two very unusual celebrities: Mitt and Ann Romney. Backstage, before the fight, Romney had an awkward exchange with Pacquiao. “Hello, Manny,” Romney said. “I ran for President. I lost. I wish you good luck tonight. Congratulations on your race.” Pacquiao is a congressman in the Philippines, representing the district of Sarangani, although the election he won was two and a half years ago. But Romney pressed on: “And your fight. Congratulations. Way to go. Have a great night.”
Pacquiao did not have a great night, although perhaps Romney did: he got to see a fight that was exciting, important, and possibly even definitive. Pacquiao and Márquez traded knockdowns, and seemed to be settling in for a long and violent night when, in the closing seconds of the sixth round, Márquez connected with a brutal right hand, so short and compact that many viewers probably missed it. But they certainly would have seen the result: Pacquiao falling forward, facedown, onto the mat, and staying there. Roy Jones, Jr., one of the HBO commentators, said, “He’s not getting up!” Romney’s face, as captured by the HBO cameras, betrayed more or less the same reaction. Kenny Bayless, the referee, kneeled down, peered at Pacquiao’s face, and waved his hands above his head: the Pacquiao-Márquez saga finally had its satisfying conclusion.
After the fight, Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, said, “Possible retirement, possible rematch—I’m not sure which way we’re going to go, right now.” It seems unlikely that Pacquiao would retire, but few people who watched him get knocked out on Saturday night would pick him to win a fifth fight against Márquez—once you have seen a fighter get knocked out, it’s hard to unsee it, and to imagine that the fight could have gone otherwise. In the span of one eventful night, lots of spectators went from seeing Pacquiao as a formidable adversary to seeing him as fatally flawed. At least one person who was there knows exactly how that feels.
In the aftermath of Pacquiao’s knockout loss, which was shocking even though it wasn’t entirely unexpected, there was an undercurrent of mourning, as some of boxing’s most astute observers considered the prospects of the great unmade fight: a match between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., widely considered the best boxer alive. Dan Rafael, reporting for ESPN.com, called the knockout “the final nail in the coffin” for Mayweather-Pacquiao. Tim Starks, who runs Queensberry-Rules.com, argued that Pacquiao’s loss “certainly kills the viability” of a fight with Mayweather.
These are rational analyses, but they seem to ignore the fundamental irrationality of boxing, in which top fighters choose their opponents based on complicated considerations of risk and reward. It seems possible that Pacquiao’s loss—which will hurt his reputation and his bargaining power but probably not his popularity—will only make him more appealing to Mayweather, who tends to be reckless outside the ring and cautious inside it. In 2006, after Zab Judah lost to Carlos Baldomir, Mayweather picked Judah as his next opponent, and beat him easily. And earlier this year, Mayweather fought and beat Miguel Cotto, who had already been knocked out by Pacquiao. For a top-rated boxer, there are few opponents more appealing than big stars with evident flaws. Pacquiao is aware of this, too. In 2009, when he chose to fight Hatton, Pacquiao knew that his opponent would bring lots of fans to the arena. He also knew that Hatton could be knocked out—after all, Mayweather had done it two years earlier. Sometimes in boxing, a definitive loss is less definitive than it seems.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lucian Bute (No. 3) vs. Glen Johnson (No. 7) Predictions

Lucian Bute vs Glen Johnson Odds: Saturday November, 5thfrom Quebec City, Quebec, I.B.F. Super-middleweight champ Lucian Bute will defend his title against the “Road Warrior” Glen Johnson. The 42-year old Johnson, 51-15-2, 35 KO’s, is being given little respect by the oddsmakers where he is a 10-1 underdog on the Lucian Bute vs Glen Johnson Odds. The 31-year old southpaw Bute, 29-0, 24 KO’s, is on most fight picks experts pound-4-pound list and this bout is in Lucian’s backyard. Our fight picks crew can’t help but remember how the flashy Bute almost submitted to a relentless Librado Andrade late in 2008 with Johnson’s style cut from the same cloth as Andrade’s, only better. The 7th ranked Johnson is durable and always brings heat but I think the younger Lucian Bute will take this by unanimous decision.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Manchester United Vs. Everton, 2011 Oct 29

Manchester United edged out a 1-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park, temporarily closing the gap on league leaders Manchester City thanks to a first-half goal by Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez (hint to defenders: Don't leave Chicharito unmarked! You're welcome!). With the hosts on the back foot, United could have done far more to secure a win, but inexplicably took their foot off the gas and let the Toffees get back into the match.

David de Gea was pretty good (a save against Jack Rodwell stood out), but had a free kick from Leighton Baines been a little bit lower Everton would have come away with a draw. Instead, the left back's effort rattled the crossbar, and Everton's best chance had gone. They still had the entire second half with which to get a point, and ended up outshooting United 17-8. But they couldn't break through even with six minutes of stoppage time, thanks mostly to the heroics of de Gea. As far as United are concerned, unimpressive wins are still wins, and they're keeping pressure on City.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bernard Hopkins gets title back from Dawson

The WBC did not wait for the California State Athletic Commission to have a hearing on the bizarre outcome of last Saturday night's Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson light heavyweight championship fight at the Staples Center.
Instead, the Mexico City-based sanctioning organization reinstated Hopkins as its 175-pound world champion and declared the fight a technical draw on Thursday.
"I feel very happy. I feel that justice was done," Hopkins told ESPN.com.
The fight ended in a storm of controversy with Dawson being declared a second-round winner by technical knockout. It happened after Hopkins, who missed a right hand, wound up draped over Dawson's back during his follow through. Dawson then grabbed Hopkins by the leg, lifted him and shoved him down to the canvas. Hopkins landed awkwardly on the edge of the ring, suffered a dislocation of the joint connecting his left shoulder to his collar bone and was unable to continue.

Referee Pat Russell did not rule that Dawson had committed a foul -- be it on purpose or accidentally -- and awarded Dawson a TKO victory despite no punch landing. Had a foul been ruled, Hopkins would have retained the title on a no contest.
"I'm disappointed that the WBC saw fit to call it a technical draw," Gary Shaw, Dawson's promoter, told ESPN.com. "I'm sure, as sure as I can be, is that the WBC will put Chad as the No. 1 mandatory again. I don't think it was the right decision. We believe Hopkins committed the first foul by going on Chad's back. Chad did what anyone would do and tried to get him off his back. I accept their ruling but I don't agree with it."
Although Hopkins has been given back the WBC belt, the organization's ruling of a technical draw is more symbolic than anything else. While the WBC controls the belt, it does not have any jurisdiction over official fight results. That is up to the commission overseeing the bout. The commission then forwards the official results to Fight Fax, which is the official record keeper of boxing results.
"I said all along that Bernard Hopkins did not lose that fight, there is no question about it," said Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer, Hopkins' promoter. "I am happy that Bernard continues to be the light heavyweight champion of the world."
For now, the knockout loss remains on Hopkins' record and the knockout victory stays on Dawson's until the California commission overturns the result, which it may or may not do when it meets on Dec. 13, its next regularly scheduled meeting.
Hopkins, who is due to get the results on Friday of the MRI he had Tuesday on his injured shoulder, filed a formal protest of the fight result to the California commission on Tuesday and is seeking to have the result changed to a disqualification victory in his favor. Hopkins' camp wants the commission to have a special hearing so they don't have to wait two more months for a ruling.
The WBC moved quickly.

"The head offices of the WBC sent videos, medical reports and the WBC corresponding rules to the Board of Governors, that unanimously declared a technical draw on the fight. Therefore, Bernard Hopkins is still the WBC light heavyweight champion of the world," WBC president Jose Sulaiman wrote in the ruling.
Hopkins, who, at age 46, became the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a world championship in May by outpointing Jean Pascal, reveled in the WBC's decision.
"I'd like to thank Mr. Sulaiman and the board for looking at the tape and just for taking the time to look at the tape," Hopkins said. "They came up with what I think is the right decision. Like me or hate me, I think most people will think it's the right decision that they made.
"I'm a little surprised it was this soon and now I am hoping the commission in California can (have a hearing) sooner than Dec. 13. But if not, I can wait. I'm normally on the end of bad decisions, like in the Joe Calzaghe fight or the Jermain Taylor fights. It feels good to be on the right end of a decision."
According to Sulaiman's ruling the WBC board:
• Reviewed the fight video and "unanimously declared that the action reflects a clear intentional lifting the body followed with a push by Dawson to Hopkins that made him fall on his left side with part of his body out of the ropes."
• Considered Hopkins' medical report on the night of the fight that said he "has been released from the California Medical Center in Los Angeles after being X-rayed and examined by Dr. Sam Thurber, MD, who diagnosed Hopkins with a separation of the acromioclavicular joint, which connects the collar bone and shoulder blade."
• Considered its rules governing fouls and found Dawson's shove to have been a foul because it views them as "any rough tactics other than clean punches."
Sulaiman also cited several other rules governing fouls and injuries and how to handle them. One of the rules he cited states that if a fight cannot continue because of "injuries from head butts, elbows or other accidental or illegal actions" there will be a point deduction or a technical draw will be declared before the start of the fifth round (or it would be a technical decision after the fifth round begins).
"The WBC respects and cannot intervene in the decisions of the boxing commissions where the fights happen, but it does intervene in regards of the recognition of a WBC title," Sulaiman wrote. "We hope that the California commission will review our ruling on their next meeting in December."

Pornsawan Porpramook (No. 10) vs. Akira Yaegashi

Japan's Akira Yaegashi dethroned Pornsawan Porpramook of Thailand as World Boxing Association minimumweight champion by technical knockout in a fiercely fought title match in Tokyo on Monday.Finnish referee Erkki Meronen stopped the fight in the tenth round of a scheduled 12-rounder after Yaegashi, the fourth-ranked WBA contender, pinned the champion on the ropes with a barrage of blows from both hands.It was 28-year-old Yaegashi's second crack at a world title and his victory improved his professional record to 15 wins, eight of them inside the distance, and two losses.For Pornsawan, 33, it was the fourth defeat against 23 wins, 16 of them by knockout, and one draw. It was his first defence of the title he wrested from Indonesian Muhammad Rachman by a narrow points decision in Jakarta in July.There were no knockdowns until the referee's decision. But the two right-handers slugged it out all the way for the title -- the WBA's lightest division with a weight limit of 47.6kg (105 lbs)."The champion was really tough and I was quite scared until the fight was over," said Yaegashi, his face as bruised and swollen as Pornsawan's."I got hit by a huge counter when I was attacking in the second half and I almost fell down. I thought for a moment that it was over but it was good that I didn't give up," the Japanese said.Pornsawan, a former Muay Thai (Thai boxing) fighter, said the referee was probably "too hasty" in stopping the fight."I feel sad as a matter of course," he said. "I could still go on. But my opponent was strong, too. I thought he would stay away from me but he came out fighting."The two boxers went head-to-head from the opening gong at the Korakuen Hall.All three judges -- Ruben Garcia (USA), Silvestre Abainza (Philippines) and Pierluigi Poppi (Italy) -- gave a one-point advantage to the challenger in each of the first four rounds.But in the fifth and sixth rounds, Yaegashi slowed down while Pornsawan went on the offensive, pummelling the Japanese with vicious blows from both fists.Early in the eighth round, Yaegashi surprised the Thai champion with an uppercut to the face. But Pornsawan sprang back with a clean hit that had Yaegashi buckling at the knees.Although the 10th round started evenly, Yaegashi soon tried to finish Pornsawan with a one-two combination to the head followed by a flurry of punches. The fight was stopped at 2:38 in the round.

Manchester United vs Aldershot

Red Devils would win this 3-0
Perhaps not a surprising result, or scoreline, but Aldershot gave it a good effort and should have no shame whatsoever in how well they played, having good bouts of possession at times and if it weren’t for tight defending by United they may have had some more clear-cut chances. The visitors meanwhile will be happy with the result and have taken a positive step in their recovery from their terrible performance on Sunday. The likes of Berbatov and Valencia have given Sir Alex good reasons to choose them in Premier League outings, as opposed to the odd appearances in competitions such as this and might just get their chance