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Articles of 2010

Manny-iacs Slam Editor Mike, Woods Returns Fire, With Help From Cintron



There may well be no band of rooters-for-athletes who protect their favored son like Pacmaniacs do Manny.

After I wrote yesterday that Id like to see Pacquiao pick up the slingshot again, and head up another couple of pounds, to meet the middleweight titlist Sergio Martinez, who cemented himself in the pound for pound top five mix with his one shot sniping of Paul Williams on Saturday, a bunch of Manny fans gave me the business.

The flurries came fast, and hard. Id say I felt something like Antonio Margarito did on Nov. 13, but that isnt really true. Because many of the comments from the Manny protectors came from folks who seemingly didnt read much more than the headline, and for sure havent bothered to perform due diligence, and read a couple columns Id written about Manny previously. For if they had, they would know that I have nothing but respect, bordering on excessive for a journalist who needs to temper unrestrained admiration, lest it color his perceptions.

You are incredibly senseless my editor, read one of the attempted takedowns. Pacquiao is not stupid. He pays a lot of money to his advisers to work for him.

I went from senseless, to homicidal.

This writer wants to destroy Pacman, so when Pacman win over Sergio but suffered a lot of punishment from the big guy then this writer will be more than happy to bet on Mayweather vs Pacman coz Floyd will come out once he sees the opportunity.

Someone else accused me of having murderous urges: This circus needs to stop!!! Pacquaio is only human. All these writers and promoters are trying to kill Manny.

Another person, maybe unclear on the separation of our vocations, wrote:

You must try it yourself Mr Woods, fight with no catchweights if you know that your opponent is soooo much bigger than you are…what do you think? go…..try it. As of this time, the license to become a boxing writer doesnt call for spending time in the ring…though maybe it should. And I dabbled long enough to know it wasnt for me, and to increase my level of respect for practitioners tenfold…

And another dude must be someone I know! This writer is f—ing moron!


Heres another comment from a fan! This is terrible attempt at reverse psychology. This article is a double handed attempt (a feeble one at that). What is obviously missing in this article, and it is by design, is the fact that Manny Pacquiao is a natural 140 lbs while Martinez is a full blown 160 lbs. This writer wants to see Manny lose at all costs.

And was this his cousin? INSTIGATOR. This article sounds like it is urging somebody to do something destructive. Martines punch can be destructive on Pacquiao. I find this article instigating. Lacks sincerity. We call them in our lungage sulsol.

Heres one from somebody with a career in mind-reading. Youre not looking for Pac to slay another goliath, you just want to see him laid out by anyone so you can publish the article youve been hanging on to for years on how Pacquiao got exposed and how he doesnt belong among the greats.

And the kicker…The author of this article just showed his true colors…Woods is a pac-hater.

Glad yall got it out of your systems. We all need to vent, process the frustration. Better me than your pooch, I always say. But please allow me to clarify a bit, and maybe sway a couple of you so you dont finish reading, and still think I am a Manny hater.

First, heres some stuff Ive written before.

On Nov. 13: The worlds most marvelous multitasker showed he is a master of controlled violence but also that he has a heart as big as Baguio, when he backed off in the 12th, and let Margarito finish the fight.

On Nov. 4: I was fortunate enough to get 20 minutes on the phone with Manny Pacquiao before he left the Philippines to finish training camp in the States. I fired some Earnie Shaveresque queries at the Congressman, culled from message boards, and in typical fashion, he answered them with grace, humility and agility.

On Nov. 2: The worlds best fighter, a Congressman..AND blessed with vocal chords of gold. Can Manny Pacquiao be any more blessed? (NOTE: Tongue was a lil pressed into cheek regarding the voice, LOL.)

On March 14: It became apparent from minute one that Clottey owned no edge on the Filipino Fury. Pacquiaos movement, and hand speed, and stamina are simply on another level, and no one other than Floyd Mayweather, at this juncture, can test him seriously.

So, can we agree that I am not a Manny hater, never have been, hard to picture ever being able to be one.

OK, I dont mean to poke a stick into the hive, after an attempt at pacification, but is it possible that I believe in your idol more than you do? Because the guy Ive seen in the last couple of years gives problems to anyone from 135 pounds to 160. You read that right. I like Mannys skill set, and his agility and his confidence level so much that I think he is a favorite to beat most of the top ten at middleweight. Even if he comes in weighing 144 pounds. Now, am I saying he wouldnt suffer damage? No…Im not blinded by the mans powers. I do realize that he is mortal. But the protectors keep bringing up how he could get hurt if he keeps going up in weight. Well, Im not being flippant here, but this is the hurt game. And Manny has done quite well to stay off the injured reserve in recent years. He took some lumps from Margarito, for sure. But he dished out so much more than he ate. And I expect hed do the same against Martinez.

But maybe you protectors are still looking at me askance, still think maybe I took a payoff from a Mayweather backer, who wants Manny to take a beating, so hes softened up for Mayweather. If thats the case, maybe youll accept the take from someone who is better served to weigh in on the subject than any of us, Kermit Cintron. The ex welterweight champion fought Margarito in 2005 and 2008, and also fought Martinez, in February 2009.

I asked Cintron on Tuesday afternoon if he thinks Martinez would be too much for Pacman, if hes the sort of fighter who might put a hellacious, career changing beating on Pacquiao.

Manny can hang with Martinez, definitely, Cintron said. Sergio is the way better fighter than Margarito. I think Martinez would give Pacquiao a hell of a fight.

You get that? He doesnt think Pacman is in imminent danger of getting steamrolled by Martinez…especially if the Argentine is forced to make 155.

So, you think Martinez would NOT be too strong for Pacman? I dont think hed be too strong, Cintron continued. Hes a 154 pounder. I didnt find him that strong. Margarito was stronger, with his pressure. In power, I think Martinez and Margarito are equal.

So you think Martinez and Margarito are comparable physically?

Yes, I think so, he repeated.

Cintron pointed out that fresh in peoples minds is the devastating KO of Williams. But please note that in Martinez 50 fights, only 25 have come by stoppage. He has stopped 50% of his foes. This is not Julian Jackson, folks. This is a man whose best asset may well be his sterling ring generalship, not hands of stone.

Now, I havent heard from a Pacmaniac yet who doesnt want to see Manny fight Money. Dont any of you think just maybe Floyd could do some damage to Manny? Or do you see him, really, as a much lighter hitter than Martinez? Floyd has weighed 150 pounds in a fight, against Oscar in May 2007. Hes thickened up since then. Martinez weighed just 153 pounds in February 2009, against Cintron. Thats just a three pound separation. Now, I think Money often fights scared, like hes afraid to get hit, to lose, so Martinez in fact might be more likely to punish Manny if they fought. But ask yourselves this–wouldnt the man you want Manny to fight, Mayweather, be favored against Martinez? Of course he would be…

OK, the prosecution (or is it the defense?) rests.

Summing it up, Im not demanding Manny do anything. Im stating my preference, and offering my endorsement of a Pacquiao-Martinez fight. Thats all. I think this Goliath has the stones, and the skills, to beat Martinez.

SPEEDBAG Ive said this before and it bears repeating. We get quite a lot of comments from Pacman fans in which they refer to Gayweather. I dont care for it at all, and erase these comments when I see them. Michael Wood your such an idiot, why dont you ask to your people Gayweather to fight Martinez, Their almost the same size, such an idiot… one guy wrote me. Enough with the GAYweather slur, people. That doesnt play here…Do I need to explain why?

–Cintron told me hes staying in shape, and wont overdue the turkey and stuffing. His wife wont let him, he said. His promoter Lou Dibellas told him hed like to schedule a bout against Miguel Cotto, or perhaps Sergiy Dzinziruk.

—Cintron thinks Mayweather would hit Pacquiao much more than hes used being hit, and likes Money to get the win, by a pretty close margin.

–Cintron is with Manny, and doesnt want to watch a third fight between Manny and JMM. Hes seen Marquez drop off, and believes Manny would dominate Marquez at this point in time.

–For the record: I love fan feedback. Its what make this site, largely, what it is. It forces me to think harder, and write better. Thanks for reading, all of you, and taking the time to comment. —So, Manny-Marg did 1.15 million PPV buys, preliminarily, and Pacman matched Mike Tyson as the only fighter in pay-per-view history to generate at least 1 million buys for a fight in three years straight. Whaddya make of it? Did you think the fight would do more, and surpass Mayweather-Mosley (1.4 million)? Hey, it did much better than Manny-Clottey (700,000)…

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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