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Articles of 2010

THE TSS TAKEAWAY: Readers' Cleanest, Hardest Shots Post Toney-Coture

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Well, we got that out of our system. Hopefully.

Anyone with a more than rudimentary knowledge of mixed martial arts, and James Toneys recent history in the hype-trashtalk: performance ratio department had a pretty good idea what would go down in Boston at UFC 118. Randy Couture would take Toney to the mat, Toney would be unable to fight off his back, and Couture would close the show, by strikes or submission, in round one. Editor Mike doesnt regard himself as any sort of master prognosticator for calling that one beforehand…

But public opinion, at least as sampled here in TSS U, indicates that many folks are less than pleased with James Toneys foray into MMA. They sense this was a cash grab uinitiated by the fighter, nothing more, and cite as evidence his horrible physique. Wed been told that Toney would be in the best shape hed been in in some time. But the weigh-in proved otherwise. His shape was the same shape fight fans had seen from him in this decade: round. Bulging. Message boards tittered when they saw his plumbers crack as he went to step on the scale at the weigh in. Hypers still said that Toney was in supreme condition, even though our eyes told us differently. Shame on us for not believing our lying eyes…I do believe there was enough info out there for an aware consumer to have real good idea of what was going to happen. But as always, it is buyer beware when assessing when you should plunk down money on a PPV. Promoters have a job to do–separate you from your dough. Know this, keep it in your wallet like an emergency condom, and you should be OK.

Word is Toney made something close to a million bucks for the opportunity to get blitzed by Couture. Hopefully he will use a portion of that to get the most sophisticated brain imaging testing available, and gauge what sort of brain damage he has suffered. Because his speech at this point is truly frightening. I for one resolve to put the pressure on any commission which sanctions a Toney fight, and will push for stringent testing and proof of acceptable results if Toney tries to get back in the ring or the cage.

Heres the best and brightest from TSS Universe following Toneys sad showing in Boston.

9) B-Real I dont think anyone expected James Toney to win ….BUT we did expect a bit more action for all the @!%* he was talkin. Time to bow out Toney. You made not only yourself, but boxing, to a degree, look even worse.

8) The Fight Dr James Toney was outpointed in the match but was already the winner going in. In just his first MMA match he was the highest paid MMA fighter ever, he made more than Randy Couture, the bottom line is that this is a business and Toney had enough clout as an athlete in another sport to command the top wage in his debut. Couture was smart but showed no b—s. It was not a fight, it was a wrestler wrestling a boxer. No commission in the USA would sanction a Toney vs. Couture boxing match, but MMA allowed Toney to fight its Hall of Famer and make more money than him in his debut..Nuff Said!

7) VJoe Toney has ripped off the fans (and himself) for years by never getting even close to in shape for his fights. His off-the-chart boxing abilities have been negated by his lack of discipline and his trash talking, disrespectful, self-aggrandizing personality. One I am the greatest of all time was more than enough for this strange and beautiful sport.

6) Howard Cosell The sport of MMA will fade as quickly as it came in to being! There is no foundation, it shot up too fast. The UFC is a tight fisted organizaton that pays the fighters next to nothing on the grand scale. It is still minor league in its internal operation, the outside may grand and functional but it will soon die down and become a ghost of what it is today. Mark my words, I always tell lit like it is. Toney had no business being in the Octagon. Can you imagine a novice making his debut against Wladimir Klitschko in a 12 round PPV bout? This is like a minor league baseball game a gimmick to sell tickets…A hot dog eating contest would have been more appropriate….MMA showed its a bush league operation by allowing Toney to fight one of its UFC elite.

5) MMA by KO This thing made Tua-Ruiz look like a Balboa-Creed 2! I had no idea that these MMA guys were this tough. Couture never even broke a sweat and kicked the ever-loving crap out of Toney. Bottom line, in a street fight, or in a primitive/caveman sense, MMA guys are tougher. Theyll brutalize boxers with no mercy. MMA is a superior craft. MMA is the iPhone to boxings old street corner pay-phone. If Pacquiao were to step in with even an average 140 pound MMA guy, Pacquiao would think that Torrecampo was an easy night. Radam G had me convinced that Toney would win this thing so convincingly that hed potentially be prosecuted for assault. He mentioned how Camacho knocked 300 lb guys out in the ring routinely, how Toney has off the charts punching power, and that when an MMA tattooed knucklehead races in recklessly against an elite boxer, hed get flattened. All of this was wrong. Oh well, boxing got knocked out last night. I watched this thing at an establishment and the laughter at Toney nearly took the roof down. Sure, he made money, but he lost any morsel of respect he had left doing it.

4) DAVE B This was just a step above the Average Joe vs. A Pro. You cant go into another mans turf and win. It would be extremely hard to do against a good amateur and almost impossible to do against an elite professional. Toney cant even win against the dinner table. Im not saying he isnt tough because he is. It is just that being tough sometimes isnt enough. Sometimes tough will get you killed when you have no idea of what you are doing. Toney thought full on that he was just going to catch him with a good punch and it would be lights out, instead Couture caught him and it was tap out.

3) In Touch I said this well before the match: James Toney isnt even a heavyweight. Hes a guy who cant eat and train with discipline to stay at the weight he should be — 180 lbs at most. So, what he has done is make boxing look bad by being fat and slow and challenging an MMA fighter and pretending to be a rep for boxers. Thats shameful. Even great ex-fighters can bring shame to the sport. Toney certainly didnt do boxing proud. And the sad thing is, hes so selfish he doesnt care. Then, if you dont care, try not to represent the sport you no longer care for.

2) The Saint
I think all the talk about Toney training for the last nine months is a bunch of crap. Toney showed ZERO understanding of the ground game. Well, except for the slow mo sprawl and he at least tried to keep his head glued to Coutures torso when he got mounted, to prevent getting pounded. But it was as though whatever training Toney had flew out the window when Couture got a hold of him. Toney was so concerned about protecting his face that he couldnt even do so much as to trap Coutures leg to prevent him from going over to the side to get full leverage on the side choke. And Toney gained ridiculous weight during this training period. I swear I saw footage of him training for this fight in which he looked at least 20lbs lighter.

1) Mortcola A) There was never any reason to think Toney could win this fight without nailing Couture with a solid punch; B) Tony is both one of the slickest and most knowledgeable boxers of our era, and a fat, old heavyweight-only-by-eating-disorder who has not looked more than semi-competitive against ranked competition in HIS OWN SPORT in a decade. C) He never came close to earning a Klitschko fight, nor to being enough of a draw to warrant it from a business perspective; D) He is a lot like the older Archie Moore, fight-wise anyway, who could be both far smarter and slicker than the other guy but barely competitive from an athletic or size standpoint; E) The idea that a Klitschko would have been afraid of him is really, really silly; F) He deserves respect for his boxing slickness, and disrespect for seldom ever backing up the rough talk with a commensurate performance; G) Yeah, he made money, but it was for a sidesho, one that got people talking about a lot of nothing. Fat guy gets tripped, falls down, gets choked out, in a sport in which hes a novice. Gimme more, baby!

Articles of 2010

Judah To Fight Mbuza March 5 In NJ

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Totowa, NJ – Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO, announced their promotional firm won the purse bid held at IBF headquarters in East Orange, NJ, Thursday. The bid was for the right to hold the IBF's junior welterweight title fight between Zab Judah of Brooklyn, NY and Las Vegas, and South Africa's Kaizer Mabuza.

IBF Championships Chairman, Lindsay Tucker explained, “It is a 50-50 split of the earnings between the two fighters. Kaizer is ranked No. 1 by the IBF, and Judah is No. 2. Where the fight will be held is up to the winning bidder.”

Judah (39-6, 26 KOs) is promoted by Main Events and his own firm Super Judah Promotions, and Branco Milenkovic, of South Africa, promotes Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KOs).

Kathy Duva confirmed the fight will take place at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, late February or early March this year as part of Main Events' Brick City Boxing Series.  (Saturday Update: the fight is March 5th, in NJ at the Pru Center. The bout will be part of a PPV card.)

“We are very happy that Zab has the opportunity to fight for the IBF Junior Welterweight title right here in New Jersey.  Winning this fight will put Zab right in the mix with the winner of Bradley-Alexander and Amir Khan.” Duva elaborated, ” Zab will work very hard to win this fight so that he will be one step closer to his ultimate goal of unifying all of the Junior Welterweight titles by the end of 2011!”

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Articles of 2010

UFC 125 Preview: Frankie Edgar Vs. Gray Maynard

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UFC_Edgar_and_Maynard_Dec._2010
Few predicted Frankie Edgar would grab the UFC lightweight championship last year but he did. Most felt he would eventually win it but Edgar not only took the title, he beat one of the best mixed martial artists in history to do it.

Edgar (13-1) has emerged from the milieu of nondescript MMA fighters to become one of the more brilliant performers for Ultimate Fighting Championship. Next comes a rematch with Gray “The Bully” Maynard (11-0) tomorrow at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. UFC 125 will be televised on pay-per-view.

All it took was not one, but two victories over BJ Penn.

If you’re not familiar with Penn, he’s one of the most versatile fighters in MMA history and had been nearly unbeatable in the 155-pound lightweight division. That is until he clashed with Edgar. Until he met New Jersey’s Edgar, the Hawaiian fighter chopped down lightweight opponents with ease. It was only the heavier welterweights he had problems against. Namely: Canada’s Georges St. Pierre.

Edgar showed poise, speed and grit in defeating Penn in back-to-back fights. The world took notice.

“You know, if I keep winning fights, the respect will come eventually,” said Edgar during a conference call.

Now Edgar will find out if he can avenge the only loss on his record.

“I just think I grew as a fighter. You know, mentally, you know, physically I, you know, possess differently skills, increased – you know, I think I boxed and got better, my Jiu-Jitsu got better and, you know, just have much more experience now,” Edgar says.

Maynard seeks to find out if Edgar has added any more fighting tools to his repertoire. Back in April 2008, the artillery shelled out was not enough to beat the Las Vegas fighter.

“It’s a perfect time. He had the chance and, you know, he took it and the time is now for me and I’m prepared,” said Maynard (11-0). “Any time you’re going up against the top in the world, you evolve and change and so I’m prepared for a new fight, so it will be good. I’m pumped for it.”

Though Maynard’s record indicates he is unbeaten that’s not entirely true. He did suffer a defeat to Nate Diaz during The Ultimate Fighter series and subsequently avenged that loss last January.

The UFC lightweight title is in Maynard’s bull’s eye.

“Looking to take the belt for sure,” said Maynard. “We’ll see on January 1.”

Edgar versus Maynard should be a good one.

Other bouts:

Nate Diaz (13-5) faces Dong Hyun Kim (13-0-1) in another welterweight tussle. Diaz is the only fighter with a win over Maynard. Anyone watching TUF remembers Maynard tapping out from a Diaz guillotine choke. The Modesto fighter has a tough fight against South Korea’s Kim.

Chris Leben (21-6) fights Brian Stann (9-3) in a middleweight fight. Leben is a veteran of MMA and if an opponent is not ready for a rough and tumble fight, well, that fighter is not going to win. Stann dropped down from light heavyweight and we’ll see if the cut in weight benefits the Marine.

Brandon Vera (11-5) meets Thiago Silva (14-2) in a light heavyweight match up. Vera is trying to rally back to the promising fighter he was tabbed several years back. Silva is a very tough customer and eager to crash the elite. A victory by either fighter could mean a ticket to the big time.

Clay Guida (27-8) versus Takanori Gomi (32-6) in a lightweight bout. Guida has become one of the most feared fighters without a title. No one has an easy time with the long-haired fighter. Gomi lost to Kenny Florian but knocked out Tyson Griffin. Can he survive Guida?

Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (22-8) clashes with Jeremy Stephens (18-6) in another lightweight fight. Davis is a go-for-broke kind of fighter and is looking to get back in the win column after a tumultuous battle with Nate Diaz last August. Stephens needs a win too. In his last bout he lost to Melvin Guillard.

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Articles of 2010

Borges Looks Back, And Forward With Hope

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As the end of another year approaches, there’s no need to invoke Charles Dickens to describe what went on in boxing. It was neither the best of times nor the worst of times. It was just too much time spent on The Fight That Never Took Place.

For the second straight year the sport could not deliver The Fight, the only one fans universally wanted and even casual fans craved – the mix between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao.  No one has to be singled out for blame for that failure because this time there’s plenty to go around on both sides. The larger issue is what does it say about a sport when it cannot deliver its top event?

What would the NFL be without the Super Bowl? Where would major league baseball be without the World Series? Golf without the Masters? College basketball without March Madness?

They would all be less than they could be and so it was with boxing this year. Having said that, the sport was not without its signature moments. It was not bereft of nights that left those of us with an abiding (and often unrequited) love for prize fighting with good reason to hope for the future.

Three times promoter Bob Arum took the sport into massive stadium venues just like the good (very) old days and each time boxing drew a far larger crowd than its many critics expected. Twice those fights involved the sport’s leading ambassador, Pacquiao, who brought in crowds of 40,000 to 50,000 fans into Cowboys Stadium against inferior opponents Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito. Imagine what he might have done had Mayweather been in the opposite corner?

While both fights were, as expected, lopsided affairs, they showcased the one boxer who has transcended his sport’s confining walls to become a cultural icon and world celebrity. Pacquiao alone put boxing (or at least one boxer) on the cover of TIME and into the pages of such varied publications as Esquire, GQ, The Wall Street Journal, the American Airlines in-flight magazine and even Atlantic Monthly.

As history has proven time and again, that is what happens when boxing has a compelling personality to sell it and Pacquiao is that. Mayweather is such a person as well,  but for different reasons.

The one night he appeared in a boxing ring, he set the year’s pay-per-view standard against Shane Mosley while also leaving a first hint of dark mystery when he was staggered by two stinging right hands in the second round.

Mayweather was momentarily in trouble for the first time in his career but the moment passed quickly and Mosley never had another. By the end he had been made to look old and futile, a faded athlete who’d had his chance and was unable to do anything with it. So it goes in this harsh sport when the sands are running out of the hour glass.

As always there were some surprising upsets, most notably Jason Litzau’s domination of an uninterested and out of shape Celestino Caballero and Sergio Martinez’s one-punch demolishment of Paul Williams. The latter was not so much an upset as it was a stunning reminder that when someone makes a mistake against a highly skilled opponent in this sport they don’t end up embarrassed. They end up unconscious.

SHOWTIME did all it could to further the future of the sport, offering up a continuation of its interminably long but still bold Super Six super middleweight tournament as well as the launching of a short form bantamweight tournament which already gave fans to two stirring and surprising finishes with Joseph Agbeko decisioning Jhonny Perez and Abner Mares upsetting Victor Darchinyan in a battle of contusions.

While the Super Six has had its problems – including several of the original six pulling out – it also lifted the profile of former Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward from nearly unknown to the cusp of universal recognized as the best super middleweight in the world this side of Lucian Bute. If Ward continues winning he’ll get to Bute soon enough because that’s why SHOWTIME signed a TV deal with the Canadian and America may get its next boxing star if Ward proves to be what I think he is – which is still underrated and underappreciated.

HBO and HBO pay-per-view put on 23 shows, few of them compelling and many of them paying big money to the wrong people while doing little or nothing to grow the sport that has helped make their network rich. But they did have the knockout of the year – Martinez’s second round destruction of Williams – and some fights in the lower weight classes that were left you wanting more.

Two new names popped up who are causing the kind of fan reaction that also gives us hope for 2011 – American Brandon Rios and Mexican Saul Alvarez. They are two of the sport’s brightest young prospects because each comes to the arena the old-fashioned way – carrying nothing but bad intentions.
Aggression and knockouts still sell boxing faster than anything else and each exhibited plenty of both this year and left fans wanting to see more. Alvarez is already a star in Mexico without having yet won a world title and Rios is the definition of “promise.’’ Whether the star will continue to shine and promise will be fulfilled may be answered next year and so we wait anxiously to find out.

Backed by Golden Boy Promotions, there is no reason 2011 shouldn’t be Alvarez’s year and if it is people will notice and remember him because he has a crowd-pleasing style that is all about what sells most.

That is what boxing needs more of – fresh faces and new stars… so as fans we should root for guys like Alvarez, Ward, Rios and young Brit Amir Khan, who is a star in England but still a question mark with a questionable chin but a fighter’s heart here in the U.S.

Those guys and others not yet as well known are the future of boxing, a sport that for too long has been recycling the likes of Mosley (as it will again in May for one last beating against Pacquiao in a fight that's a joke), Bernard Hopkins (who can still fight although it is unclear why he bothers or where it’s all headed), Roy Jones and, sadly, even 48-year-old Evander Holyfield, who continues to delude himself but not many other people into believing he will soon unify the heavyweight title again.
If fighters like Ward, Alvarez, Rios, Khan, WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto and middleweight king Sergio Martinez continue their rise they could be the antidote for the art of the retread that Arum and Golden Boy have been forcing fans to buy the past few years at the expense of what boxing needs most – fresh faces.

The heavyweight division, which many believe determines the relevancy of boxing to the larger world, remains a vast desert of disinterest here in the US. The Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, hold 75 per cent of the title belts but few peoples’ imaginations in the US, although to be fair they are European superstars and don’t really need U.S. cable TV money to thrive economically.

Each defended their titles twice this year, Vitali against lame competition (Albert Sosnowski and Shannon Briggs) and Wladimir against better fighters (Sam Peter and Eddie Chambers) but not competitive ones. Sadly, there is no American on the horizon to challenge them, a comment on the division and on our country, where the athletes who used to be Joe Louis or Muhammad Ali now opt for the easier and frankly safer road of the NFL or the NBA. Who can blame them considering all the nonsense a fighter has to go through to just make a living these days?

The one heavyweight match that would be compelling and might lift the sport up for at least a night would be either of the Klitschkos facing lippy WBA champion David Haye. The fast-talking Brit claims to not be ducking them but he’s had more maladies befall him after shouting from the rooftops how much he wants to challenge them that you have to wonder if Haye is simply a case of big hat no cattle syndrome.

For the sake of the sport, we should all be lighting candles each night in hopes our prayers will be answered and Haye will finally agree to meet one of them. It may not prove to be much of a fight but at least it will give us something to talk about for a few months.

Whatever Haye and the Klitschkos decide the fighter with the most upside at the moment however seems to be Sergio Martinez.  He has matinee idol looks, a big enough punch to put Paul Williams to sleep with one shot and a work ethic second to none. The Argentine fighter had a year for himself, starting with a drubbing of Kelly Pavlik followed by his demolishment of Williams. Those kinds of victories, coupled with his Oscar De La Hoya-like looks, are the type of things that if HBO or SHOWTIME would get behind him could allow Martinez to capture the attention of both fight fans and more casual ones.

In general, Hispanics fighters continued to dominate much of the sport’s front pages with Juan Manuel Marquez’s two victories in lightweight title fights leading that storyline. His war with Michael Katsidis is a strong candidate for Fight of the Year and his technical skill and calm demeanor make him the uncrowned challenger to Pacquiao. The two have unfinished business that should be settled this year if Arum stops standing in the way.

Two other fighters who gave us moments to remember in 2010 were Juan Manuel Lopez, who knocked out three solid opponents including highly respected Mexican warrior Rafael Marquez, and Giovani Segura, who won four times (that’s three years work for Mayweather) in 2010, all by knockout. Along the way, Segura defeated one of the great minimum weight fighters in history, slick Ivan Calderon, to win the belt on Aug. 28.

Lastly, boxing gave us another magical cinematic moment as well with the release of “The Fighter,’’ a film based on the life and hard times of junior welterweight scrapper Micky Ward. The film has won rave reviews and many awards and seems likely to have several of its actors nominated for Academy Awards, most notable Christian Bale for his sadly humorous portrayal of Ward’s troubled half brother, former fighter Dickie Ecklund.

Boxing has a long history of providing the framework for memorable movies and it did it again with “The Fighter,’’ a film that did more for boxing than any promoter did all year.

All in all, it wasn’t the best of years for boxing but it was a good year that picked up speed in the final months and, like that great golf shot you finally hit out of the rough on the 18th, left us with reasons to hope for a better year in 2011. If somehow it gives us Mayweather-Pacquiao, the emergence of Alvarez and Rios, the ascension of Martinez and Haye vs. the best available Klitschko in addition to the kind of solid performances that always come along, it could be a year to remember.

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