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RASKIN’S RANTS: Big-Name Bonanza, From Pacquiao To Ward To Hopkins To Haye

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PacquiaoMosley_Hogan_30Another week, another interesting email about Manny Pacquiao, another excuse for me to put Pac-Man’s name in my headline and earn my article hyperlinks throughout the Philippines. Now, just to spite Rick Reilly: Enjoy!

Hi Eric,

Did you hear Teddy Atlas’ comments on Friday Night Fights about Pacquiao? It was a little like what you wrote in your “Raskin’s Rants” last week, poking a hole in every opponent Pac-Man has fought in the last few years, but Teddy took it a step beyond and said Manny has to fight Sergio Martinez to prove himself. What? If there’s one guy in boxing who has already proven himself, it’s Pacquiao. What does Atlas have against this guy? He takes every opportunity to insinuate that he thinks Mayweather’s steroid accusations are accurate (even though nobody has any proof at all), and he won’t give the best fighter in the world any credit, even though he constantly takes on quality fighters (if not the very best every time) at higher weights. What the heck, did Pacquiao make a pass at Atlas’ wife once or something? Is Atlas on the Team Mayweather payroll? There are things you can criticize about Pacquiao, but it really gets me riled up that Atlas takes it as far as he does. Maybe Pacquiao needs to die, so Atlas can give him a loving on-air eulogy calling him the greatest person who ever lived.

Keep up the great writing,

Greg

Hi Greg,

I agree with your underlying point, that Teddy doesn’t seem to be an impartial observer when it comes to Pacquiao. I don’t know if he actually has some personal distaste for Pac-Man (perhaps he’s jealous, as a trainer, of Freddie Roach?) or if he just loves being a contrarian and all the pro-Pacquiao vibes emanating from most corners of the boxing media universe have driven him to be openly dubious of everything Pacquiao does. I lean toward the latter. After all, Atlas predicts upsets more than anyone else in boxing, so we know he has some of that contrarian blood pumping through his veins. Whatever the case, he has indeed gone a little too far. Passing along unsubstantiated information last year about drug-test-related emails supposedly sent by Team Pacquiao was a dangerous journalistic slip-up. Atlas hasn’t done anything on that level since, but all the little things keep adding up and make Teddy a questionable authority when it comes to Pacquiao-related observations.

But here’s the thing: A boxer has to expect criticism when he fights three absolute no-hopers in a row. I recognize that Pacquiao has done more to help boxing over the last five years than anyone (I wrote a cover story for World Boxing all the way back in ’06, when he beat Erik Morales in their rematch, declaring that Pacquiao was carrying the sport), so I think it’s fair to treat him with the proverbial kid gloves up to a point. But three straight mismatches that everybody knew were mismatches? That’s excessive, and that warrants blowback.

Two additional notes on comments in your email: First, nobody wants to see Pacquiao face Martinez more than I do. The size gap is so absurd (especially when combined with Martinez’s elite skill) that I can’t blame Pacquiao for not making the fight; it’s wrong to say he has an obligation to fight “Maravilla” or needs to prove himself against the middleweight champ. But I still would kill to see it happen. (I wouldn’t out-and-out murder someone, but I’d at least perform euthanasia.) Unfortunately, as long as Pacquiao can pull in 1.3-million or so pay-per-view buys against the Shane Mosleys of the world, it’s a pipe dream.

And second, great line about Teddy’s eulogies. Given 10 more seconds of air time, he probably would have explained that, in his prime, Bill Gallo could have knocked Pacquiao out.

Enough about Pacquiao; let’s turn our attention to this past Saturday’s big fight, next Saturday’s big fight, and other assorted topics in the weekly Rants:

• How ’bout I start by tying last Saturday’s and this Saturday’s fights together: Many have been critical of Andre Ward’s less-than-thrilling style, and you know who he kind of reminds me of? Bernard Hopkins. Highly skilled, exceptionally clever, great at neutralizing opponents’ offenses, not particularly capable of the highlight-reel knockout—but moderately enjoyable to watch if you appreciate the little things. And if there’s any twentysomething fighter right now who has the style to last into his 40s, it’s Ward.

• I think the notion that Arthur Abraham made a mistake leaving the middleweight division is overblown. It’s not that he’s ineffective at 168 pounds. It’s that Ward, Carl Froch, and Andre Dirrell are all significantly better than anyone he fought at 160. Look again at his record. Edison Miranda was the best he fought at middleweight, by a pretty comfortable margin.

• Fun exercise if you want to get frustrated and throw things at your television: Watch Ward-Abraham again, focusing on referee Luis Pabon as he starts moving in 10 times per round to break up clinches before the fighters have even clinched. Apparently infighting is illegal on Pabon’s watch. Step aside, Joe Cortez, someone’s taking aim at your “most officious” title.

• As a fan of old-school “loser leaves town” matches in wrestling, I’d definitely throw some support behind Abraham vs. Kelly Pavlik as an HBO or Showtime co-feature, loser is done on the premium networks. Three years ago in a different division, it would have been one of the biggest fights in boxing. I liked Pavlik in a war then, and I like him in a war now.

• As disappointing as most of the Pacquiao-Mosley Fight Camp 360 was, the Super Six version of the show continues to be top notch. Obviously, the Super Six offers more fights and fighters to focus on, and that’s a major reason for the disparity in entertainment value. But I suspect it also has something to do with the fact that, while the S6 version of FC360 is a promotional vehicle, the product isn’t on pay-per-view so the show isn’t straight-up selling. Both shows are advertorial, but one leans more closely toward editorial, while the other leans more toward advertisement.

• To clarify, since I saw it wrong in a few places: Against Jean Pascal this Saturday, Bernard Hopkins is trying to become the oldest fighter ever to win a major title, not the oldest to hold a major title. That record will still belong to Archie Moore, regardless. (And the pursuit of that record should give Hopkins all the motivation he needs to keep going until at least age 49.)

• Wow, four neutral officials for Jean Pascal-Hopkins II, what a novel concept! Can someone please explain to me why anyone would ever assign a ref or judge who couldn’t be described with the word “neutral”?

• Hey, B-Hop, Donovan McNabb got traded a year ago. He doesn’t play for the Eagles anymore. Let it go.

• And the Overreaction of the Year award goes to … all those who pronounced right after Jorge Arce’s win over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. that Arce had “punched his ticket to the Hall of Fame.” Certainly, Arce helped his chances with the unexpected victory. The win might have guaranteed him a slot on the ballot, which was no certainty beforehand. But that’s about it. Arce’s had a very good career, but was he ever clearly the best in his division? Was he ever on the pound-for-pound list? It’s hard to get into the Hall if you can’t answer yes to those questions; only rare cases like Arturo Gatti (who might or might not make the Hall) and some heavyweights can fight at that sub-elite level and get in. Arce has had his share of quality wins, but he never beat a Hall of Famer (the closest to one, Rosendo Alvarez, was shot by the time they fought). And he lost decisively to plenty of guys who won’t be in the Hall, like Vic Darchinyan, Cristian Mijares, Simphiwe Nongqayi, and Victor Burgos. Hey, maybe Arce can score a couple more good wins and/or be recognized by voters for his popularity. But before you compare him to Gatti, remember that Gatti was in the Fight of the Year four times, and Arce never was. If you think Arce “punched his ticket” against Vazquez, then it might be time to refill all of your prescriptions.

• I have to give a shout-out to Raymundo Beltran: You just don’t see enough fighters get spun around behind their opponents and take the opportunity to simulate sodomy.

• Could there possibly be anything better for building interest in the Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye heavyweight title fight than if we could somehow get Haye to start dating the newly single Hayden Panettierre? At the very least, I expect Haye to show up at the next press conference with a T-shirt featuring a Photoshopped image of himself doing something pornographic with her. Anything less, and he’s not putting his heart into this promotion.

 • Look for a new episode of Ring Theory (http://ringtheory.podbean.com) this week, with a special guest to be determined. Is $29.95 for a year’s subscription too much for you? Here’s an inside tip to make your Ring Theory sub pay for itself: Listen to Bill Dettloff’s fight predictions, then place money on the other guy. It’s the surest formula for sports betting success this side of having your own hot tub time machine.

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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