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Articles of 2009

A JuanMARVELOUS Win; Lopez Beats Courageous Penalosa In PR



Juan Manuel Lopez was the winner in the main event of a card at the Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum in Bayamon, Puerto Rico on Saturday night but equal, or perhaps more congratulations has to be showered upon the man who cannot by any means be called a loser, Gerry Penalosa. JuanMa, as he’s been tagged by fight fans who see him on the short list of next gen superstars, threw power shots like he was getting a bonus for every one hurled, but the Filipino refused to buckle under. For nine rounds, the 36-year-old former super flyweight and bantamweight titlist swallowed JuanMa bombs, 444 in total, and he didn’t hit the floor, or look for a soft place to land. Lord knows, he had every right to, as the Puerto Rican crusher unleashed 1,020 punches enroute to a TKO win after nine round had elapsed.

Penalosa was told by trainer Freddie Roach that he needed to knock out JuanMa in the ninth, or Freddie would stop the scrap. The Filipino had a decent eighth, but Roach stayed true to his word. He asked Penalosa his permission to pull the plug, but his eyes pleaded with the vet to give in. Penalosa didn’t want to accept the humane gesture on his trainer’s part, but thankfully, his pride receded long enough for his logical self to take a stand. He nodded his head, almost imperceptibly, and Roach told the ref that his man was done for the night.

But let us reiterate, Gerry Penalosa cannot be labeled the loser on this night. “After  a magnificent effort, Gerry Penalosa unable to continue, the bout comes to an end…,” said emcee Michael Buffer after the ultra-gutty outing. But in case you joined the show at that juncture, we must correct Buffer. Penalosa was ready, willing and able, who knows how, to continue to test himself against a younger, stronger, harder-punching, but by no means tougher or more courageous foe.

The WBO featherweight crown, taken from Daniel Ponce DeLeon in June 2008 by JuanMa,  was up for grabs. Lopez (from Caguas, Puerto Rico; age 25, 121 ½; 25-0, with 23 KOs; coming in with three straight round one KOs) was accompanied by Tito Trinidad to the ring. Penalosa (from the Phillipines; 121 ¾; 54-7-2, 34 KOs), trained by a now shaved-headed Freddie Roach, had never even been off his feet as a pro.

In the first, the two lefties sized each other up, and JuanMa looked a little wetter, and more ready. His right hook to the body is a rib-crusher, but Gerry took it well. He has some of the Willie Pep in him defensively. The Filipino also dispatched a few right hooks of his own. In the second, a right hook buzzed Gerry early, but it was a momentary sensation. A one-two had him tasting some more of that. Would Gerry start to separate himself some more, get some distance from JuanMa? In the third, Gerry didn’t move more; his guard high, he stayed in the pocket, a vet confident in his radar, confident he’d see and sense the youngsters’ salvos. Bless him, he slugged it out at the end of the round, and the crowd roared at his courage and probably gasped at his temerity. Perhaps he was desperate, and knew that his time would be limited if he allowed himself to be ground down.

Viewers saw a graphic, labeled Punch Zone, which broke down how many landed punches landed on what portion of Gerry’s body. His chin area was tagged thirteen times through three, the most of any section.

In the fourth, JuanMa landed 34 punches, 30 of them power shots, and Gerry’s odds of going the distance got slimmer. In the fifth, Gerry did move more, as Roach told him to use angles more. Then he reverted to form, and hung inside. His sneaky right hook landed, and he earned points for ample testes, if not for winning rounds, on the TSS card. “You got to get off the ropes,” Roach reminded Gerry afterwards. Good advice, but no matter where Gerry was, JuanMa was throwing grenades at him.

In the sixth, Gerry was in trouble at the 1:20 mark. Yes, he was on the ropes. Was Roach cringing at the sight of a brave man eating those grenades, as he had done decades before? Yet Gerry kept hurling his own returns when he got a chance, and after the round, he bounced on his feet, telling JuanMa that he was still there, and still peppy. Did I compliment Gerry’s guts supply yet? In the seventh, JuanMa landed short shots, and some longer javelins as well. He is Mr Inside, Mr Outside, maybe the busiest bomber in the sport today. “I need more head movement, I need more angles. How do you feel? Talk to me,” Roach said after. “Are we winning?” JuanMa asked after the round. Often, a fighter just can’t properly divine the momentum during the battle.

In the eighth, analyst Max Kellerman said, “Gerry Penalosa is not human.” Au contraire, Maxie, he’s a fine example of a most willful, superbly stubborn pugilist; you had to admire his determination, but also wince at his refusal to shrink back in the face of such relentless artillery. “You go and knock this guy out, otherwise I’m gonna stop the fight. I’m gonna give you one round,” said Roach after. “The last round, if you don’t knock him out, it’s over.”

In the ninth, Gerry kept chopping, with hooks mostly, but he is a man in a weight class a bridge too far. JuanMa was slower, though, and the sliver of a possibility that Gerry could pull off the comeback of the year (decade?) grew a morsel. He didn’t win the round, maybe, but Freddie would let him continue, right? Nope. Freddie asked his permission to stop it, and Penalosa hesitated, but gave his assent. God bless Freddie for sticking to his word, and Gerry for his immense heart. TSS tosses Penalosa props galore for his ultimate professionalism.

Lamont Peterson (26-0) took on Willy Blain (20-1) in the TV opener, a scrap between junior welters. In the first round, the lefty Blain was cut over his left eye from an accidental clash of heads. He looked to counter, as Peterson pumped a long jab, stalked him, and got warm. In the second, Peterson worked the torso, and you had to like his left hooks to the body. In the fifth, Peterson blasted to the body, and we knew that Blain wouldn’t be able to summon enough power to put Lamont off. In the sixth, there was a pause as Blain hurt his right hand, the ref stopped the fight, because he stopped fighting….and then he allowed Blain to confer with the doctor, and the doc looked at him. “He’s alright?” the ref asked the doc. And Blain continued. The rulebook does not allow for a pause in the action in a case such as this for the doctor to assess the fighter, after a fighter hurts himself, and no foul has occurred, but I really have no problem with it. The fans have paid money, the promoter has paid money to the fighter, no harm, no foul. It was all immaterial, anyway, as Peterson stepped on the gas in the next round. He went at Blain, and hit with a left hook, maybe on that pained right hand. Blain backed off, turned away, and this time the ref waved the fight off, and meant it. The loser was clearly irked, as he cursed his fortune, and his right thumb, which he stated was the dented digit. The time of the stop was 1:11. Lamont went 126-406, Blain was 53-394. Some organizations interim belt was up for grabs, but I think interim belts are stupid inventions, and won't publicize them unless there is a compelling reason for a title being an interim title.

SPEEDBAG The ten second warning before a round was to end was a really loud whistle, which confused the fighters a few times, as they are mostly used to a more subtle thumping sound.

—What's next? Vazquez? Marquez? 126? JuanMa said he'd likely go to 126 in December, or January 2010, but he'd like Vazquez or Marquez first.

—Roach said JuanMa was too strong. “Gerry was taking too much punshment,” he said after the bout. He said he thought Gerry might be able to swing the momentum if JuanMa got tired, but Lopez never slowed down too much.

Articles of 2009

UFC 108 Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva



Former champion Rashad Evans meets Brazil’s venerable Thiago Silva in a non-title belt that can lead to a return match with the current champ, but first things first.

Evans (15-1-1) and Silva (14-1) meet in Ultimate Fighting Championship 108 in a light heavyweight bout on Saturday Jan. 2, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A win by either fighter could result in a world title bid. The fight card is being shown on pay-per-view television.

Events can change quickly in the Octagon and anybody can beat anybody in the 205-pound weight division. Just ask Silva or Evans.

Silva and Evans are both experienced and can vouch firsthand about the capriciousness of fighting in MMA and especially as a light heavyweight. On one day this man can beat that man and on another day, that man can beat this man. It can make you absolutely daffy.

Evans, 30, is the former UFC light heavyweight world champion who only defended his title on one occasion and lost by vicious knockout to current champion Lyoto Machida of Brazil. It’s the only defeat on his record.

Silva, 27, is a well-rounded MMA fighter from Sao Paolo, Brazil who is versed in jujitsu, Muy Thai and boxing. He can end a fight quickly in a choke hold just as easily as with a kick or a punch. His only loss came to who else: Machida.

Evans and Silva know a win can push open the door to a rematch with current UFC light heavyweight champion Machida.

“A win against Rashad would put me in the track against Lyoto,” said Silva, in a telephone conference call. “That's what – what I want to do.”

When Silva fought Machida the two Brazilians were both undefeated and feared in the MMA world. The fight took place in Las Vegas and with one second remaining in the first round a perfectly timed punch knocked Silva unconscious.

“I was humbled big time, man,” says Silva who fought Machida in January 2009. “I learned a lot from that fight.  I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight, not overlooking anything else right now, but just I want to get the chance to fight him again.”

For Evans it was a different circumstance. The upstate New Yorker held the UFC title and was defending it after stopping then champion Forrest Griffin by knockout. Still, many felt Machida was far too technically versed. Evans was stopped brutally in the second round.

“I've made it a point to not – to not get distracted on what I want to do, because you know Thiago (Silva) is a very hungry fighter,” said Evans who has not fought since losing the title to Machida last May. “My focus is just on Thiago so much.  You know I don't want to overlook him, you know, not even a little bit.”

Dana White, president of UFC, says the winner of this fight could conceivably fight Machida in the near future. Evans and especially Silva are motivated by the open window.

“I learned a lot from that fight. I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight,” says Silva. “Not overlooking anything else right now, but I just want to get the chance to fight him again.”

What a prize. The winner gets to face the man who beat him: Machida.

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Articles of 2009

Paul Malignaggi Explains Why He Thinks Manny Has Used PEDs



In theory and in practice I am vehemently opposed to people tossing out unfounded allegations against someone. Supply evidence, then we can talk. But saying someone is using steroids, or EPO, or HGH, based on a theory, or your gut instinct….I have to consider, what if the allegation were thrown at me, and I was 100% innocent. I'd be mightily irked. And so too would you be.

Manny Pacquaio has been hammered from all sides with folks insinuating and coming right out with the contention that they think he's been cheating, that he's been using illegal performance enhancers to give him an edge in competition. Floyd Mayweather Sr, Paulie Malignaggi, Miguel Cotto and Kermit Cintron have either accused Manny, or insinuated that he's been using PEDs. One has to wonder, where's all this smoke coming from? Is it possible that there's fire lurking? That these folks aren't just lobbing unfounded barbs at Manny, that their allegations and hints aren't just sour grapes, or posturing, or a ploy to lure Manny into a fight?

By and large, there hasn't been much in the way of coverage from the standpoint of: what if Manny is using PEDs, or was using PEDs? I think that is rightly so; I'd be more comfortable if none of us trafficked in the innuendo and speculation, and worked within the realm of evidence, and facts. But it's out there, and a topic of conversation and speculation. Perhaps it's a symptom and sign of the times we live in…

TSS reached out to Malignaggi, just off a solid win in his Dec. 12 rematch with Juan Diaz. The Brooklyn-based pugilist has never been shy about speaking his peace (I picture him exiting his mom's womb and barking at the labor and delivery crew to get the room cleaned up, stat!), and he shared with TSS what he bases his allegations, which he's careful to label opinion, upon.

First off, Malignaggi is of the belief that if the Pacquiao-Mayweather negotiations are at a fatal impasse, Yuri Foreman, and not he, will get the coveted date with Pacquiao. Malignaggi has been mentioned as stand-in for Mayweather.

He started off by insisting that ” I have nothing against Pacquiao” but then went from mellow to madman in a 30 second span.

First off, the boxer wonders why Team Pacquiao isn't going after big-time newspapers, with deep pocketed owners, for libel, for insinuating that Pacquiao is drug cheat.

“If Pacquiao's so sue happy, why not sue the New York Daily News?” he asked. “Maybe they know the steroid allegations are true.”

By and large, Malignaggi thinks it is impossible, utterly impossible, for a boxer to put on 15 or more pounds between March 15, 2008, when he fought Juan Manuel Marquez and weighed 129 pounds at the weigh in, and Nov. 14, 2009 when he fought Miguel Cotto and was 144 pounds at the weigh in, and more on fight night.

“It's not natural looking,” Malignaggi said. But, I countered, what if Manny's supremely blessed, that unlike some other fighters who go up in weight, and look a bit bloated, and lack definition, he's just a special creature?

“He's not supremely blessed,” Maliganngi said. “I know body builders. They can't put on 17 or whatever pounds of muscle in a year. It's not doable, in my opinion. These are my speculations, my opinions based on certain factual evidence. Does his weight gain look normal to you? And his head looks like it has blown up in size, too.”

I offered to Malignaggi that perhaps we should be attacking the system, if we believe it to be lacking, rather than the individual.

“We can blame the system a little bit, but if you were Manny, wouldn't you want to leave no doubt? Or speculation?” said Maliganngi, who believes that by not agreeing to the terms set forth by Team Mayweather, and opposing a blood test within 30 days of the bout, Pacquaio appears guilty.

Pacquiao has agreed to take 3 blood tests: the first during the week of the kickoff news conference in early January, the second random test to be conducted no later than 30 days before the fight, and a final test after the bout. A video making the rounds from the HBO 24/7 series shows Pacquiao submitting to a blood test two or three weeks before he was due to fight Ricky Hatton, and that has cast doubt on Team Pacquiao's stance that Manny is disinclined to get a blood test too close to a bout, for fear he may be weakened. Originally, it was reported in error that that test was taken 14 days before the Hatton bout, but subsequent reports pegged the test as being taken 24 days before the scrap. Malignaggi feels Pacquiao has been caught lying, that the report from Team Pacquiao that he “has difficulty taking blood” is a cover story. “Why is he effing lying?” Malignaggi said, heatedly.

The New Yorker doesn't believe too many fighters in the lighter weight classes are using PEDs, but thinks usage isn't uncommon in the heavyweight division. “That's hard to do and make weight,” he said.

The question is asked of Malignaggi: why does the issue make him so steamed?

“I don't like cheaters,” he said. “This is not baseball. You're not just hitting home runs. You have to worry about peoples' lives. Miguel Cotto in my opinion has been beaten by two cheaters. Manny if he's cheating is taking away from guys who are doing things the right way. His team is reneging on their words.”

And what if you're wrong, Malignaggi? What if Manny is clean, and you are hurting his rep with these allegations?

“I bet everything I own that I'm not,” he said. “But we'll never find out. Hey, I would take the test in a heartbeat. I would want people to know I'm clean. He wants to leave doubts!?? His entire legacy is being questioned, he's willing to hurt his legacy and leave $40 million on the table?”

Maliganngi, after reminding TSS that he was correct in predicting he'd be gamed by judges in the first fight with Diaz, insisted that he isn't singling out Pacquiao for a personal vendetta. “”I've never had anything against him. But that's enough now. I call it like I see it.”

What about those who'd say he's just trying to anger Pacquiao, to lure him into a fight?

“No. I expected he'd take the random tests to get this fight. No way I thought he'd throw away everything. That blew me away. It was cool to have my name mentioned.”

Malignaggi thinks the boxing media has dropped the ball, and not exercised due diligence in examining the possibility that Manny has used PEDs.

“I understand most people like Manny, and not Floyd. Just cause that's the case doesn't mean Manny might not be cheating. It's nothing to do with him personally. But I call a spade a spade. Too many people avoid the possibilities because Manny's a likable person. He's got that front, his country loves him. That front works like crazy. Floyd plays the bad guy, but he's natural. Just don't downplay the fact that Manny might be cheating. You have to open your eyes and at least be willing to look at it. This is bigger than me. The fact that the fight is not being made, you have to question the integrity of Pacquiao.”

Malignaggi then offered an analogy to the Manny-refusing-to-be-subjected-to multiple-random-drug-tests prior-to-a-fight-with-Mayweather deal. “It reminds me of the drunk guy who's pulled over at 3 AM. He has a field sobriety test, the cop knows he's drunk, he looks and acts drunk. But he refuses a breathalyzer test. That don't mean the cop don't haul him to the police station.”

I reiterate…I don't think anyone should be casting aspersions based on circumstantial evidence. But with so many people ganging up on Manny, I think fight fans are owed some details on why people are accusing Pacman of using PEDs.

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Articles of 2009

Ten Boxing Wishes For 2010



As 2009 comes to a close, one reflects on what went well and what went wrong during the year in boxing. There were many highlights. Pacquiao vs. Cotto and Showtime’s Super Six tournament were part of the best that boxing had to offer. But there were some low points too therefore the industry has some work to do in order to keep generating fans. Here are some suggestions for 2010:

10. Better pay per view cards

Paying 40 to 50 bucks to watch the main event gets old real quick. Why do we have to sit through a horrible under-card to get to the main course? It’s like being fed spam appetizers before the Thanksgiving turkey. It seems that the pay per view promoters just don’t get it. Are they watching what they put on or do they only watch the “big fight” as everyone else is slowly being conditioned to do so?

9. Time to make Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight

Okay, I understand he’s the son of one of the greatest fighters that ever lived. But he’s had 42 fights against low to mid level competition and has never managed to look spectacular. It’s time to throw the 23 year old out of the nest to see if he can fly. My suggestion is a fight against Sergio Mora or maybe even Yuri Foreman. Neither of these guys can punch. They may outbox Junior but they won’t totally humiliate him.

8. No more ridiculous Pay Per View mismatches

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez should’ve never been made. It was a ridiculous fight when it was announced and it was more ridiculous when it took place. Unable to bring Manny Pacquiao to the bargaining table for a third match against Juan Manuel Marquez, someone figured that pairing up the 135 pound champion against a natural 147 pounder like Mayweather would be a great idea. The pay per view generated over a million buys but the fact that millions of people were treated to an incredibly boring mismatch is what’s truly worrisome. I can guarantee you one thing about this card. The sport of boxing lost fans once the show was over and done with. Talk about short term thinking.

7. Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola shows up for a fight in amazing shape

It was painful to see Chris Arreola take a beating from the Ukrainian giant, Vitali Klitscho. The champion certainly earned his “Dr. Ironfist” moniker as he plowed his powerful shots into the former #1 WBC heavyweight contender’s face. He reddened and bloodied the young Mexican American with an assortment of weapons and foot movement seldom seen on a six foot seven inch heavyweight. Arreola was brave and unrelenting in battle. He never stopped coming forward and took chances when he could. His work in the ring at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles wasn’t the problem. Where Arreola let himself down was outside the ring. His unwillingness to condition himself into a finely tuned athlete cost him certain immortality as the first ever heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. Arreola has the heart and skills but it was his mental fortitude that broke down. Anyone who’s followed the Riverside fighter knows that his best weight is somewhere in the 230 pound range. It certainly isn’t at the 252 pounds he registered on the scale at the Staples Center.  Those fifteen to twenty extra pounds might have made all the difference in the world. Maybe he would’ve been a little quicker, maybe he could’ve sustained a faster pace in order to tire out the champion. In his most recent fight against Brian Minto, Arreola weighed in at a career high 263. It looks like “The Nightmare” isn’t willing to change for anyone. At this pace, the only nightmares he’ll be providing will be to the management of Hometown Buffets all across Riverside.  Just kidding “Nightmare”!

6. More respect for the lighter weights

Real boxing fans know that the most exciting fighters in the sport are usually found toiling in weight divisions south of 154 pounds. Pacquiao, Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Edwin Valero, Israel Vazquez, Juan Ma Lopez, Vic Darchinyan, Rafael Marquez and countless others have been the real driving force behind this sport. It’s those great fighters that have made boxing fanatics out of casual fans. The heavyweights may get all the money and glory but it’s the little guys who make the sport shine and it’s time they received greater compensation. It’s dismaying to think that a mediocre heavyweight can make three or four times as much as the great Rafael Marquez.

5. An American Heavyweight champion

Speaking of heavyweights, two Americans tried and failed at dethroning Vitali Klitschko this year. Both Kevin Johnson and Chris Arreola did their best to wrestle the belt away from “Dr. Klitschko” but came up short since they were easily outclassed. What happened to the great American Heavyweight? Where’s our new Joe Frazier or Ali? Even a new Gerry Cooney or a Ken Norton would do at this point. I’ve got a feeling that the only way we’re going to see an American champion is if Klitschko retires. My money is on Arreola. Although undisciplined and rough outside the ring, he’s got tons (no pun intended) of natural talent. He’s without a doubt the most talented American heavyweight on the scene.

4. More ShoBox

The Showtime Cable network gave us the best boxing on TV for the price of a cable television subscription. Their ShoBox series has been a proven hit for Senior VP of Sports Programming Ken Hershman. The concept is simple yet brilliant. Match up two up and comers with great records and let’s see what happens. Sometimes the results are surprising. Many have passed the ShoBox test and went on to bigger and better things. Others have been exposed as having padded records and eventually their careers stall and take a dive.

3. More safety in Mexico so I can attend a show without a gun battle breaking out

Having lived near the Tijuana border all my life I’m dismayed at the war zone that the city has evolved into. Every day there are reports of shootings fueled by the drug war trade. Believe it or not, there was a time when Tijuana was safe and most wouldn’t have thought twice about crossing the border for some seafood and nightlife. No more. Having covered several boxing cards on Revolucion Avenue many years ago, I got a taste of just how important the sport is to Mexican fans. It’s also important to me but not that important. For now I’ll stick to covering shows at the Pechanga Casino and in the less dangerous city of L.A. I never thought I’d say that.

2. Pac Man vs. Mayweather

This is the fight everyone wants to see. Seeing how Mayweather dominated Pac Man’s arch enemy, Juan Manuel Marquez, you have to wonder if the Filipino can handle Lil’ Floyd’s speed and size. One thing is for sure, betting against Pacquiao doesn’t usually work out for me. It never has. There’s no future in it. So if the fight gets done it’s Pacquiao by TKO in ten.

1. And finally

One final wish is reserved for all the readers of I wish you all a healthy and happy 2010. Thank you for your continued loyalty to the site. It’s very much appreciated.

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