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Articles of 2010

There's No Sudden Infusion Of Power Or Punch Resistance In Pacquiao

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With former Oakland Athletics/St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire recently admitting he used PEDs during the 1998 MLB season in which he hit a record setting 70 home-runs, steroids and HGH have dominated sports pages and the Internet. Three years after McGwire hit 70 home-runs San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds broke his record and hit 73 home-runs, a record that still stands in 2010. Bonds has never admitted to taking PED's – but due to his body seemingly transforming from Matthew Saad Muhammad to Mike Weaver overnight, Bond's has been under the suspicion that he like McGwire was aided by HGH/PEDs.

The year before Bonds hit 73 home-runs he hit 49, then hit 46, 45 and 45 in the three subsequent years after hitting 73. Obviously something good happened to Bonds in 2001. Which is sort of what Floyd Mayweather Jr. has insinuated with his accusations that Manny Pacquiao is boxings' version of Barry Bonds. However, if you believe Pacquiao has been aided by PEDs,  his performances circa 2004-09 don't bear that out.

The Mayweather faction insinuates that Pacquiao's durability/punch-resistance and punching power have been magnified due to his use of some form of steroids or PEDs. The problem is the evidence pointing to him taking an illegal substance is devoid when placing his record under the microscope.

The thought that any form of HGH/PED gives a fighter more punch resistance is only believed by those who've never been exposed to fighters in the gym and associated with them during their day to day lives. Some reading this will know exactly what I'm talking about and others will make their determination based moreso on what they want to believe or what fits their agenda. I know it's a touchy subject and the so-called experts and sports medicine scholars differ on PEDs depending on who you talk to. I'm coming from an actuality vantage-point.

Maybe steroids help athletes in other sports but there's not one known case where a professional fighter benefited by taking them, especially a non-heavyweight. I know fighters who I will never name that experimented with many different types of supplements and steroids looking to gain an edge in the ring. In most cases they were hoping to gain some power. And every one of them regressed as a fighter. If they gained anything it was mental – but even at that they lost something else as a result of it.

Pacquiao's chin and ability to take a punch:

Pacquiao was stopped early in his career by Rustico Torrecampo in the third round in 1996, when he was 17 years old and still not even a young man. Three years after that he was stopped for the second and last time in the third round by Medgoen Singsurat and lost his flyweight title. Five months later in his next fight he weighed in at 122, ten pounds more than he did for Singsurat. So it's not a reach to believe that he was weakened by making the flyweight limit as a 20 year old. Forget about Pacquiao's chin being suspect and aided by some type of PED/HGH. He's filled out and matured over the last 10 years since Singsurat and his chin has never betrayed him or been an issue of concern.

In March of 1963 Henry Cooper would've knocked out the just turned 21 year old Cassius Clay  had his left-hook landed early in the fourth round instead of right at the bell ending it. What would've happened if Joe Frazier's massive left hook from his first fight with Ali in 1971 hit the young Clay of 1963? Clay would've gone to sleep and had been counted out! Only Clay filled out and matured physically in between 1963-71. And no one has ever questioned Ali's chin or accused him of injecting steroids at any point during his 20 plus year career.

Bottom line is Pacquiao's chin and punch resistance get the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

Pacquiao's Power:

In regards to Manny Pacquiao's punching power, if it's been aided by any type of supplements or HGH, perhaps he may want to find a new supplier and get his money back. Sure Pacquiao can really hit, but it's not like he's on the level of a Thomas Hearns, Julian Jackson, Alexis Arguello or even Michael Spinks, who not only scored more one-punch knockouts than Manny, but did so with both hands. Pacman's finishing punch is his left-cross exclusively.

In 2004 fighting as a featherweight he had Juan Manuel Marquez down three times in under two minutes and couldn't keep him down. Ten months later fighting as a super-featherweight/junior lightweight he hit Erik Morales for 12-rounds and didn't stop him and lost the fight. When they fought a rematch 10 months later at the same weight he had to work him over for 10-rounds before the fight was stopped. They met in a rubber match again ten months later and Pacquiao stopped a washed up Morales in three rounds, but it wasn't a one punch blitz and it still required him to hit Morales countless times before the fight was halted.

In April of 2007 Jorge Solis made it to the eighth round before he was stopped. Six months later a glove shy Marco Antonio Barrera went the distance with Pacquiao after making it to the 11th round with him the first time they met. In Pacquiao's next fight Marquez went the distance with Pacquiao again – and despite being down once went on to lose a controversial decision.

In his next bout Pacquiao fought lightweight David Diaz and stopped him in the ninth round, which is one more round than it took Kendall Holt to do it. Six months later Pacquiao met a drained 145 pound corpse named Oscar De La Hoya. Finally after giving Oscar a ceaseless pummeling for eight rounds and hitting him at will but never staggering or putting him down, De La Hoya didn't come out for the ninth round.

Pacquio's upset of De La Hoya set up his next fight against Ricky Hatton who was viewed as perhaps the top junior welterweight in boxing at the time. Pacquiao's speed and unorthodox angles made Hatton a sitting duck for Manny's right hook. Pacquiao dropped Hatton twice in the first round and in the second round Pacquiao put Hatton away for good with one massive hybrid left to the chin.

Six months later Pacquiao had target practice on 145 pound welterweight Miguel Cotto for the better part of 12-rounds. Despite having Cotto down twice early in the fight, Miguel took the Pacman's Sunday best but never went down again. Finally in the 12th-round, in which the determined Cotto probably would've finished the fight on his feet, the fight was stopped.

Hatton and Cotto both suffered devastating knockouts before fighting Pacquiao at the hands of Mayweather and Margarito. So it's not a reach to assume both Ricky and Miguel had a little taken out of them before facing Manny. And the reality is Hatton is Pacquiao's only one punch knockout victim in a big fight.

Like Pacquiao, everyone talks about Rocky Marciano's one-punch knockout power. But the reality is Jersey Joe Walcott was the only big time heavyweight Rocky iced with one punch. The other stoppage wins he scored as champ came from an accumulation of punches. Maybe it's a fair question to ask whether or not Pacquiao and Marciano were truly one punch life-takers like a Thomas Hearns or Max Baer?

After viewing Pacquiao's record against elite opposition, Ricky Hatton is the only upper-tier fighter that he's stretched with one punch. Not to mention Hatton is a face first attacker who was coming in and got caught as flush and clean on the chin as you'll ever see one fighter catch another.

It also can be said that Floyd Mayweather–certainly not known for being a big puncher, and it may have taken him longer but– Floyd did knock Hatton loopy with a single left-hook. An overwhelming majority of Pacquiao's knockouts have come as a result of his fast hands that land from undetectable angles coupled with his accuracy. Pacquiao is now an excellent two handed puncher – but not a life-taker who ices his opponents with a single blow.

A lot of fighters try to shrink themselves down to the lowest weight they can in order to maintain their strength and power. They fear they'll leave their punch down in the lower division and often times that's been the case when they move up. But sometimes getting down so low weakens their body and they'd be better off moving up to the next division to where their body isn't drained. In the case of Pacquiao – it's looks as if his body has benefited due to him not cutting so much weight along with him becoming a more well rounded fighter and two handed puncher.

I'd also suggest going back and looking at what Pacquiao weighed in at for his fights with Barrera and Morales, and then see how much heavier he was on the night of the fight. He entered the ring as a welterweight a day after making the junior lightweight limit. It's very plausible he was draining himself to make weight moreso than it is that he's on HGH or any type of steroid or PED.

Pacquiao's Stamina:

Pacquiao has always been a high volume puncher who fought at an extremely fast pace. He's never looked tired or as if he was hanging on because he was tiring down the stretch of his title fights going back to his tenure as a featherweight. And no one questioned his stamina or suggested he was being aided by any form of HGH/PED back then. At this time it's quite a reach to suggest his terrific stamina and energy are the result of anything other than his incredible work in the gym during his preparation for his bouts. His stamina has always key asset and weapon for him.

If Manny Pacquiao is injecting or swallowing anything illegal, I don't see the evidence where its aided his power and/or chin in an unnatural way nor his stamina. It's just not there!

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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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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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