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RASKIN’S RANTS: Rumors, Exaggerations & Twitter Recommendations

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BoxRec.com doesn't agree with Marquez' shirt. But Raskin and many others at TSS think Marquez has Manny's number, to a degree, and think even at 147, he'll give Pacquiao problems. (Hogan)

Since Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley was billed as a major “event,” I’m going to take the glass-half-full approach and call the past week or so in boxing “eventful.” There is indeed a lot to comment on besides just the material covered in my PPV running diary (http://tinyurl.com/42h2rv7), and let’s start with an email about the headliner of last Saturday’s big event:

Hi Eric,

Do you think it’s a myth or it’s exaggerated that Manny Pacquiao has improved so much since his second fight with Juan Manuel Marquez? For me he looks exactly the same, slightly heavier and slower (I think he has lost a gear since the Cotto fight), and his opponents have been good style matchups for him—fighters who are not difficult to hit and can’t fight off the back foot and are not as complete boxers has Marquez, Erik Morales, and Marco Antonio Barrera were, which has in
effect made him look much improved.

Cheers,
Nicholas

Hi Nicholas,

I tend to agree with you for the most part. I think Pacquiao continued to improve after the Marquez rematch, but only incrementally, and the improvement largely came via Pac-Man feeling better physically from 135-145 pounds than he did at 130. I suspect the Marquez rematch was the last time Pacquiao had to deplete himself at all to make weight. He’s been more comfortable in every fight since, and it’s shown in his energy and explosiveness in the ring. Yes, he made some technical
improvements in 2008 and 2009, continuing to work with Freddie Roach on his footwork, his upper body movement, his right hook, etc. But did he make dramatic improvements? No. Most of the dramatic improvements were made between 2005 and 2007.

The styles and sizes of his opponents have indeed played an enormous role in what we’ve witnessed. David Diaz was the ultimate alphabet-belt cherry pick. Oscar De La Hoya looked like a dangerous opponent coming in, but we know now that his age and the 147-pound weight limit rendered him impotent against someone with Pacquiao’s magnificent speed and skills. I believed from the moment the fight was signed that Ricky Hatton would make Pac-Man look better than ever.

Miguel Cotto was a true challenge and a championship-level fighter who was more or less in his prime, but he was also a little too slow-fisted and nobody’s idea of a defensive wizard. And the three opponents since—Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, and Shane Mosley—each possessed some combination of big/slow/old that turned their fights with Pacquiao into target practice.

I’m not trying to put a revisionist-history spin on any of this. Pacquiao is the best fighter in the world, clearly. He’s an all-time great. I don’t rule out the possibility that, when his career is over and we have some distance and can look back on it objectively, we’ll be able to place him in the top 10 or 20 boxers ever. What he’s done is remarkable. But I do think he’s slowing down just a little (we’ll probably remember 2009 as Pac-Man at the absolute peak of his powers), and I do think he’s benefited from not facing a clever boxer since Marquez. That’s why I want to see a third fight with Marquez in the fall, even if it has to be at a disadvantageous weight for JMM. Marquez can outbox Pacquiao. He knows how to counter Pacquiao’s offense. I don’t think he’ll win, and I think there’s an excellent chance Pacquiao knocks him out this time. But at least Marquez’s style is not made to order. That’s the fight I wanted to see in May, but Bob Arum insisted on feeding Pacquiao what was left of Mosley, entertainment and intrigue be damned.

It’s time for Pacquiao to face someone who can really box. All things considered, if Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather and Pacquiao-Sergio Martinez aren’t realistic (and they aren’t), then Pacquiao-Marquez III is the best option for the fans, and Marquez’s ring intellect alone guarantees Pac-Man will have to work harder than he did in his last three fights. Pacquiao’s one-man show is getting a little tiresome; Pacquiao-Marquez would at least look like a two-man show at times.

Good email, Nicholas. A fine setup for a lowercase-“r” rant. Now let’s get to the capital-“R” Rants:

• Norm MacDonald’s comedy sketch with Pacquiao? Outstanding. Norm MacDonald’s decision to bet $25,000 on Manny? Intelligent. Norm MacDonald’s live tweeting of Saturday’s fight? I’ll sum it up in terms Norm can appreciate: “Note to self: No more live tweeting.”

• Actual internet headline from last week: “Pacquiao Using Yellow Gloves.” Yeah. I think maybe we’ve surpassed the amount of web space that should be devoted to boxing reporting.

• I loved the idea of the “red carpet show” on Showtime Extreme, showing undercard bouts from the MGM Grand for free as both a bonus for hardcore fight fans and an 11th hour PPV sales technique. Not everything Bob Arum/Showtime/CBS tried in the last couple of months worked, but there were a lot of promising experiments to build on for future events.

• This just in: Yuriorkis Gamboa has been found guilty of excessive holding against his wife. The judge will dock him a point and release him on his own recognizance.

• I understand why some ESPN2 Friday Night Fights broadcasts begin after their scheduled start times. But what’s the excuse for when FNF starts BEFORE its scheduled start time? Unless you’re opening the show with Yuri Foreman hurrying to get his bout in before sundown, there’s no acceptable explanation.

• Aaron Pryor Jr. gets a little bit better every time I see him fight, and certainly his upset of Librado Andrade on Friday was the crowning achievement of his career so far. It’s really quite incredible, to see the son of a Hall of Famer begin his boxing career with no hype at all and gradually earn acclaim and opportunity. Good for Pryor. Even though he’s three feet taller than his old man, I’m beginning to think they really might be blood-related.

• Since “sources close to the situation” are generally about as trustworthy as “sources close to The Situation,” I’m not putting much stock in the rumors that the Quebec boxing commission is considering forcing Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal to submit to a special drug test. But if this is somehow true, it had better be a test all fighters competing in Quebec must take from now on. The commission can’t change the rules just for one fight, based on the local fighter’s unfounded accusations.

• Last week, Twitter recommended I follow Jeremy Piven. Now I know how women feel when their boyfriends buy them the wrong birthday presents. I thought we were connecting, Twitter! But you apparently don’t know me at all!

• We won’t know for sure until CBS makes a decision on whether to match FOX’s offer, but it’s possible that Gus Johnson will be switching networks, meaning he’ll no longer be the voice of Showtime Championship Boxing. On the one hand: Thank you to the universe for the course correction. On the other hand: Who the heck am I going to make fun of? I feel a little like Jon Stewart when George W. Bush left office—happy on a personal level, but losing valuable material professionally.

• Not only do I recommend listening to last week’s episode of Ring Theory (in large part because I make money if you decide to listen), but I also recommend reading the intelligent and thought-provoking comments posted by our listeners in response to the show (http://ringtheory.podbean.com/2011/05/04/ring-theory-may-3-2011/#comments). I’m proud to see that Ring Theory subscribers as a group seem to have a high IQ, even if Bill Dettloff and I spent an inordinate amount of
time on the last episode making poop jokes.

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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