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RASKIN’S RANTS: The Mini Mailbag, The Montiel Massacre & Multiple Moras

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As I noted in last week’s TSS debut of Raskin’s Rants, I’ll be combining a one- or two-email mailbag with the traditional bullet-pointed nuggets of deep-fried ranting goodness. So here’s the best email I received last week (a long one, but a good one), followed by my response, and then it’s on to the Rants:

Hey Eric,

I’ve spoken to you before via twitter (@stonemclean). With recently subscribing to RT and now this email, I am borderline stalking you. Unfortunately for you it’s quite tricky to get a handgun in Canada, so don’t expect any John Lennon-esque love bullets. It’s too bad because it was your best shot at trending on Twitter. (Has this joke gone too dark?)??Why is Tavoris Cloud no longer knocking people out? He must share his strength and conditioning coach with Tim Bradley and Steve Cunningham. Three jacked fellas that might have trouble ringing your door bell.??Golden Boy is talking about bringing Pascal-Hopkins to the U.S. BHop himself has been tweeting about the Staples Center. Is that not the worst market possible for a Philly fighter vs. a French Canadian???Speaking of conditioning coaches, now that Amir Khan has fired Alex Ariza maybe Jean Pascal can recruit him. Who let this guy out of four-round fights? He’s like a black Butterbean.??It’s sad that the Jones vs. Soto-Karass / Donaire vs. Montiel card is being totally overshadowed by Pacquiao-Mosley, which will likely suck in comparison.??Speaking of Pac-Mosley and John Lennon, there are some similarities there. Manny has his hair and Mosley has his reflexes …??Was that last one a stretch? Did I just pull a Teddy Atlas quality metaphor? Actually, if I read it back and insert an inappropriate volume swell, it’s uncanny.??Kudos to Tomasz Adamek for pulling the one move that legitimizes fighting Michael Grant, Vinny Maddalone, and Kevin McBride in direct succession.??I was really happy to see Brian Vera upset Sergio Mora, like really happy. Was that wrong? Also, what are the chances that Bob goes through with the Pavlik-Vera fight now???I’d like to continue this but my eyes are burning due to too much scalp exposure. It’s a rare disorder, only me and one other guy suffer from it.??—Jordan Stone-McLean

Jordan,

Lots of good stuff in there. As you know from listening to Ring Theory, I have a high opinion of Canadians in general and have long been impressed by the nation’s per-capita production of quality comedic minds. You’ve done nothing to detract from that reputation. Some of your comments speak for themselves so I won’t respond to everything you wrote, but here’s a smattering of my thoughts on your thoughts:

The fact that Cloud has gone the distance his last three fights after starting his career with 18 knockouts in 19 bouts is not unusual; that often happens when a guy steps up from journeymen and fringe contenders to real world-class opponents. Failing to stop the trio of Clinton Woods, Glen Johnson, and Fulgencio Zuniga, who have four total kayo losses between them, is no disgrace. And as you correctly point out, punching power has little to do with the size of your pecs or biceps. It’s mostly about leverage and technique. Cloud is a good puncher, but he’s clearly not the second coming of Bob Foster.

Hopkins-Pascal belongs in your home country, but there’s one American city I believe it would draw nicely in: Philadelphia. Not Atlantic City or Newark or Dover Downs, but actual downtown Philly, at the Wells Fargo Center. If they pick a date after the Flyers’ and Sixers’ postseasons will be over and a date that doesn’t conflict with a home Phillies game, I believe Hopkins’ pursuit of history could draw in Philly. Just a hunch, but I feel like BHop’s hometown (and mine) is hungry for a meaningful fight.

You’re quite correct that stamina is a major issue for Pascal (everyone conveniently forgets the degree to which Chad Dawson was coming on late in their fight before it got stopped on cuts), but I think you may have overreached using his name in conjunction with that of Butterbean. I prefer to think of Pascal as the black Dana Rosenblatt.

I don’t think Pavlik has much to worry about in a fight against Vera; don’t sleep on how good Pavlik can be if he’s mentally and physically prepared and isn’t fighting a supreme craftsman like Hopkins or Sergio Martinez (against whom Pavlik was competitive, by the way). Vera is a bit rough and tumble for Pavlik’s first fight back, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arum go with Vera for his second opponent.

I assume your last line is a reference to the one-of-a-kind scalp of Glen Johnson? As my Ring Theory partner Bill Dettloff likes to point out, that scalp seems to offer a peek inside his brain. Now here’s a peek inside mine … cue the Rants!

• Stat of the week: Fernando Montiel is 44-0-2 when he doesn’t fight on HBO. He’s 44-3-2 overall. You do the math.

• Before any morons go trotting out the “lucky punch” nonsense for Nonito Donaire’s knockout of Montiel, they should watch the last three seconds before the kayo punch landed. Montiel threw a right cross, and Donaire avoided it but didn’t counter; rather, he just studied the opening his opponent gave him. When the next right cross came a moment later, Donaire ended the fight with a counter left hook.

• Something tells me we’ll be seeing a few more fighters working with Victor Conte now.

• Well, I have my first ever case of tweeter’s remorse. Immediately after the Donaire-Montiel fight, I wrote, “What do those who criticized Donaire’s P4P ranking in The Ring over the last couple of years have to say now? It’s called an eye for talent.” This was a case where 140 characters just weren’t enough to say what I meant, and even in a friendly Twitter debate afterward, I didn’t state my case effectively. So, to clarify: First, I wasn’t crediting myself with recognizing talent; that was a compliment aimed at The Ring Editor-in-Chief Nigel Collins, who gets the final word on the magazine’s rankings. And second, after further consideration, it was perfectly reasonable to criticize The Ring ranking Donaire in the top five prior to now, based on his quality of opposition. But the pound-for-pound list, unlike divisional rankings, is supposed to be heavily opinion-based, a subjective “who would beat whom if they were all the same size” debate. And in that regard, I guess what I meant to express (but failed to do so effectively on Twitter) is that Donaire’s back-to-back blowouts of Wladimir Sidorenko and Montiel have justified Collins’ ranking decision, that Donaire is every bit as magnificently talented as The Ring thought he was.

• Ref Russell Mora gets a mixed review for the way he handled the conclusion of the fight. On the one hand, I love that Mora finished his count and gave Montiel a chance to get up. A fighter is supposed to have until the count of 10 to show that he can continue, and sometimes a guy’s legs are screwy after five seconds but stable after another five. On the other hand, once Mora reached the count of nine and took a look into Montiel’s eyes, I can’t imagine what made him determine that “Cochulito” was fit to continue.

• Speaking of guys named Mora, I loved Sergio Mora’s use of the word “diminished” to describe Shane Mosley in Michael Woods’ article on TSS last week. Some people go overboard and play the “shot” card before it’s appropriate, but “diminished” is truly the perfect word to describe Mosley. (Just don’t be surprised if “shot” applies after Pacquiao is done with him.)

• I’m still on the fence about how far Mike Jones can go, but you have to admit, he throws the most textbook-perfect headbutt to the gonads in the sport.

• Has Joe Goossen started mailing it in? I wouldn’t have thought so, but what other excuse can there be for him not dropping F-bombs on Kenny Bayless after Bayless ruled that Jesus Soto-Karass’ cut came from a punch?

• Bob Arum’s attacks on HBO for televising Andre Berto vs. Victor Ortiz, instead of waiting so Berto could face the Jones-Soto-Karass winner, are completely unfair. Ortiz is a much bigger name than Jones, and physically, Berto-Ortiz is a competitive fight. (I do worry that it will be a mismatch in the mental-strength department, however.)

• Question I’d love to address in next week’s mailbag: Did anyone out there watch this past Friday’s ESPN2 broadcast on a 3D television? I have yet to find a review of the experience anywhere, so if you watched in 3D and have an opinion, please pipe up.

• Recommended reading: Chris Mannix’s piece on Kelly Pavlik on SI.com, http://bit.ly/goFIX9

• And that’s enough plugging other writers; time to plug myself. Make sure to check out a new episode of my podcast, Ring Theory, this week. Dettloff and I will break down Donaire-Montiel in detail, I’ll launch a non-personal, strictly-business attack on a web site that once employed me, and we’ll preview Miguel Acosta vs. Brandon Rios, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Matthew Hatton, Daniel Ponce DeLeon vs. Adrien Broner, and Zab Judah vs. Kaizer Mabuza. You can find the show at http://ringtheory.podbean.com/, and as always, you can scroll down just below the full episode if you’d like to first take it for a two-minute test drive.

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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