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RASKIN’S RANTS: B-Hop, Money May, J-Geezy & Triple-M (Mystery Meat McCloskey)

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Hopkins-v-Pascal-2 6064dDid we really just get through a weekend without a Fight of the Year candidate? And did I also make it through a week without receiving any emails worth printing? Yes and yes. But I did receive a short-and-sweet Twitter question worth answering (it was intended for the “Tough Questions” segment on Ring Theory, but we didn’t use it there), so let’s kick off the column with that:

Who is greater: Bernard Hopkins or Floyd Mayweather?

—@fishandchips111

This is an interesting twist on the more typical questions either measuring Mayweather against Manny Pacquiao or Hopkins against Roy Jones. And it forces me to define the term “greater.” Some people don’t understand the distinction between “better” and “greater,” but it’s very important here.

In their primes, if you could make them the exact same size, I think I would say Mayweather was better. Not by a lot, mind you, but if you’re forcing me to pick a winner in that fight, with his amazing reflexes and near flawless technique, I like Floyd on points. That does not, however, make Mayweather greater. This too is a close call, but if their respective careers ended today, I’d rank Hopkins above Mayweather among the all-time greats.

I had the pleasure of spending some quality time with Hopkins at the Joe Hand Boxing Gym in Philadelphia this weekend, and somehow, at age 46, the man is still motivated primarily by the pursuit of greatness. Let’s say, hypothetically, that he’s the 37th greatest boxer of all-time right now; the notion that defeating Jean Pascal for the lineal light heavyweight championship to become the oldest ever to win a real title could move him up to, say, 35th, is something that actually drives him. I don’t know if I’ve ever met an athlete as obsessed with his legacy as Hopkins is. Some people would point to Michael Jordan, but I submit that MJ’s unparalleled obsession was with winning, not with his legacy. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have retired in his absolute prime in ’93 and again at the tail end of his prime in ’98.

And while continuing to make history and add to his legacy is Hopkins’ main motivation, Mayweather’s motivations are making money, being famous, and keeping his undefeated record. I wonder how differently Mayweather’s career might have turned out if he’d dropped a random four-round split decision early in his career and didn’t have that zero at the end of his record to protect. But he does have the zero, and I’m not the first writer to opine that it’s steered him away from a few potentially compelling fights over the years.

Mayweather’s abilities may leave us in awe more often than Hopkins’ do. But Hopkins has more accomplishments that we’ll tell our grandkids about, more one-of-a-kind achievements. That’s a huge part of greatness, doing things that have never (or almost never) been done before. If Mayweather retires undefeated, that’s a rare accomplishment that will appear in the first paragraph of his obituary. But it’s pretty much the only one. How many first-paragraph accomplishments has he not even tried for because of his pursuit of that singular achievement?

I have a feeling the email inbox will be more loaded next week, now that I’ve given the Mayweather lovers some ammo. In the meantime, let’s get to the weekly Rants:

• Well, HBO, you can take perverse pleasure in knowing that the “24/7” series fully jumped the shark when Showtime started producing it. I don’t want to call Saturday’s episode of “Fight Camp 360” boring, but let’s just say the Kardashians expressed disappointment about what’s become of the reality-TV genre. I believe Khloe’s exact quote was, “What does Shane Mosley do that makes him famous?”

• Just how bad was Episode Two of FC360? I’d rather sit through a 24-hour “Show Me Da Manny” marathon than re-watch those 20 minutes.

• If you’re looking for my commentary on the Vic Darchinyan-Yonnhy Perez result, I can’t top what my Ring Theory partner Bill Dettloff wrote on Twitter: “If Vic Darchinyan were any better at making me look like a moron, he’d be my wife.”

• Maybe this isn’t fair, but I’m a little less impressed with Joseph Agbeko’s boxing display against Perez than I was a week ago.

• Just when I thought my distaste for Gus Johnson was maxed out, he goes and calls Jim Gray “J-Geezy.” If Dick Vitale and Stephen A. Smith had a baby … that baby would find Johnson spectacularly annoying.

• Did Teddy Atlas really lump George Foreman’s loss to Muhammad Ali in with famous pugilistic quit-jobs?

• Speaking of Big George, when Yuri Foreman starts having kids, do you think he’ll name them all Yuri?

• I have a tendency to complain sometimes about being overworked. Remind me never to complain to Kevin Rooney Jr. about it.

• Yeah, I admit it. I cried like a baby during the Paco Rodriguez E:60 feature.

• My only beef with the Rodriguez piece was the repeated references to Rodriguez vs. Teon Kennedy being a “title fight” or a “championship fight.” I know it was for a regional belt, but honestly, did it add anything to the drama to deceive people about what the fight meant? And on a related note, the blurb on the ESPN.com home page opened with, “Paco Rodriguez was on his way to greatness.” Can we please just tell a good story with a little journalistic integrity and stop making crap up? Maybe 99 percent of your audience doesn’t know any better; show a little respect for the one percent that does.

• How outstanding was Breidis Prescott’s quote referring to Paul McCloskey as “mystery meat”? Whatever kind of meat he is, it’s definitely not dark meat. When McCloskey had his shirt off and started bleeding against Amir Khan, I was sure he was auditioning for a role in one of the Twilight movies.

• So Jhonny Gonzalez would like to fight Rafael Marquez? Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes.

• Well, we had to postpone Jim Bagg’s appearance, unfortunately, but last week’s episode of Ring Theory (http://ringtheory.podbean.com) was a winner nevertheless, loaded with references to our second favorite bagg: the Joe Cortez teabag. We also mixed in talk of certain physical favors in prison, and when all was said and done, it went down as “The Genitalia Episode.” So even though he wasn’t there, it’s safe to say the Baggmeister’s presence was felt.

Eric Raskin can be contacted at RaskinBoxing@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin and listen to new episodes of his podcast, Ring Theory, at http://ringtheory.podbean.com.

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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