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Articles of 2010

Klitschko's Talent Will Not Be Denied



Had you swum the length and breadth of the ocean

And seen the boundlessness out there

Still youd have seen the waves come on and on,

Even in the dread that you might disappear
——-Faust/Goethe (b 1749 Frankfurt)

FRANKFURT AM MAIN – Believe it or not, Samuel Peter was ready on Saturday night.

He just wasnt ready for Wladimir Klitschko, who looked extremely formidable inchipping away at the sturdy, repeat challenger until pulverization time arrivedfor a TKO at1:22 of the 10th round.

Peter may not have been completely rock solid, but he did hang tough a while and he showed up ready to make the Commerzbank Arena ring a very hard place.For a handful of minutes at least, Peter was a very dangerous fighter.

Maybe VKO is a better way to list the victory.

In Klitschkos case, maybe the T should stand for typical, althoughthe champion has also consistently demonstrated an excellent technical foundation for years now.Tonight once again, the conclusion came after the apparently still improving Klitschko ground Peter down,fried him up, then slapped on the finishing mustard.

Klitschko showed again that he can finish fights with plenty of explosive drama and left brave Peter flat on the floor to prove it. In this rematch Klitschko looked much stronger, slicker and maybe most important, he looked more confident than in their 2005 encounter.

I felt really great andshowed all my great fans that the Klitschkos arebestheavyweight boxersin the world, said the basically unmarked Klitschko with brotherly lovewhile a jovial Vitali was already at the victory party. Stopping Samuel required me to land a lot of good punches, and still he fought back. I delivered so many rights, which is what we worked on. And pushing andpunching in clinches. I dedicate this fight tomy fans, who always make me feel like trying to get stronger and to learn more.

Peter came out winging, and while it wasnt the most artful attack, he connected with hard thumpsall overKlitschkos arms and torso. Peter ducked low and leapt in with a pounding purpose, and a good left put some bright pink inKlitschkos slightly swollen lip. Klitschko landed cleaner shots, but only a couple. Peter was muchbusier, and probably earned the round.

Klitschko was a bit rattled, andlooked chagrined as he started round two.You could clearly hear each mans thudding connections over the noise of the crowd, and for a few fine moments it looked like we might have a real two-way battle. Then Klitschko made Peter stumble with a telephone pole straight right and the challenger looked more and more gassed from the end of the second session on.

Klitschko waited at mid-ring for the third to begin, like a coyote at dinner time. Peters right eye looked tenderized, and he reached in withmuch less behind his punches. By the fourth the fans were restless asthe big men waltzed. Peter kept trying but the only damage he caused came from lunging his head and shoulders.

In the sixth, Klitschko found the range with an uppercut hed been trying all night. It almost did the knockdown trick, but so didplenty of other blasts. Peter bobbed, weaved, heaved for the heavens and missed by a meter. The puffy-faced Peter hung on. Then he hung on some more.

Peter managed to maul his way inside the danger zone of Klitschkos most damaging crosses, until a point in the ninth round when Klitschkos left had Peter ready to go, not gently.

In round ten, Klitschko scored with short, sweeping hooks from each side. WhenPeter was sent reeling backward Klitschko came over the top with rare ferocity. Various grazing leather initiateda highlight reel series offive pitch-perfect Klitschkorights. By now Peter couldnt defy the imposed gravity and was sprawled flat on his back as referee Robert Byrd started a count, considered the damage, thenwaved it off instead.

Klitschko had his arms raisedby the time Peter slammed into the canvas.

I didnt want to back up like in the first fight, said Klitschko. This fight went exactly as Itrained for, except Samuel was even stronger than I thought. I want to thank everyone on my team, who have all helped me get better year after year.

I dont know what comes next, but I hope to have another fight this year in early December. Im tired of talk about David Haye because he offended my family, then wouldnt fight. Now hes fighting for the title of London or something like that. If a Haye fight actually happens I couldmake it short, but I will make it last and I will enjoy it, then I will knock him out in the 12th round. I hope a fight with either he or (Alexander) Povetkin happens this year, otherwise, whatever. Im not worried about it.

Theres the Klitschkos and then theres everybody else, added trainer Emanuel Steward, who seems to be enjoying the European tour,retirement padding ride.

Im not even going to say the names of people who wont fight. This will never happen in boxing again, where there are brothers who no top contender wants to fight even for championships and big paydays. It doesnt matter whos next, theyre all the same asfar as Im concerned. The most logical fight next would be Tomasz Adamek, if possible, so we might aim for him.Hed be a good opponent for (a fight in) the US because he can fill arenas on the east coast. He beat Chris Arreola, which I didnt think hed do, and at least he really wants to fight.

Klitschko closed the show early enough for the crowd tomake the final trains for Frankfurts vibrant riverfrontpubs and clubs. The arena, which had been evacuated earlier for some sort of undisclosed emergency, seeminglyemptied like a fast forward time lapse immediately after post fight fireworks and Klitschkos brief speech to the swarm.

That may have been helped by the security team, as soon the only people left in the place were technicians and afew hundred partiersin the sweet,makeshift VIP section on the arena floor. Time for Klitschko Promotions version of the walk out bout. Re-que the buffets, refill the glass. Try a little Peach Melba with that Sherry-basted slab.Stadium lightsbecame part of the DJ set. At first, Vitalis wife and son were the only ones on the dance floor.

With various high-end liquor stations staffed by formally festive troops happy hosts and hostesses, folks got loose quicker than Peter lost two-armedammo. It was Ukranian vodka hangover prep time for some who aimed to drink their euros worth, but still a family type scene with no visible fools.

For now,it seems like the Klitschkos privateparty in the heavyweight division could go on indefinitely. There are a lot of football stadiums in Germany, and the K2 fight night road show is a proven success. The biggest question could be how long even minimally qualified opponents will be available.

Cuff time critics will minimalize the victory and those critics will be wrong.

Sometimes the energy from a heavyweight fight seems so strong you get a tangible sense ofawesome power, like watching early morning stars abovea deserted Hoover Dam outside Vegasand listening to the crackling buzz of electric lines.

There was that kind of juice for some of the Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, or Evander Holyfield fights I saw in the 80s-90s. And yes, for a couple rounds there was that kind ofaura emitting from the ring in Frankfurt.

For historical perspective, think HolmesTKO 10David Bey in 1985. Holmes arguably reached a performance peak that was the highest offistianas modern era, if not in the history of the sport. Bey took on a near primeHolmes with approximatelythe success Peter had. Peter would probably beat David Bey 10 times out of ten, and thats no insult to Bey.

Suchchronological comparisonswill always beunproven, but at timesKlitschko looked incomparable to all but the very best in history.

Just because Klitschko made beating Peter look easy doesnt mean it would have been for anyone else. Peter was in much better shape here than against Vitali in 08.

Peter looked dejected in his corner after the contest, but he had nothing to be ashamed of. He had fought hard, if ineffectively, against the best big boxer on the planet in what might have been Klitschkos best overallshowing.

Tonights pre-entrance video extravaganza featured a series of clips in which Klitschko was seamlessly inserted into old frames with Muhammad Ali in iconicfootage that presented them as contemporary equals. Though Ali was given proper prestige, it was still a bit of a presumptive stretch. Conscientiously classy Klitschko should continue to let his actions speak louder than his words.

Wellgive Klitschko, whoacted more cockythan usual during the promotion, a pass for getting a little footloose on some holy boxing ground.

Frankfurts favorite son is probably Johann Wolfgang VonGoethe, whos two-part take on the Faust saga covered many of the same philosophical issues of truth, love and perception that come up when discussing the heavyweight landscape and Klitschkos all-time place in it.

During Klitschkos early run through contention he showed flaws and paid for them.

Now hes improving on excellenceala the great Manny Pacquiao.

Klitschko isnt Ali, but inwhat probably amounts to this secondstage of Klitschkos championshipstatus, it looks like someone will have to deal with quite a devil if anybodys going to beat the worthy champ.

Go on, say it.If only for Saturday in Frankfurt witharound 40,000 witnesses.



Articles of 2010

Judah To Fight Mbuza March 5 In NJ




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



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




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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