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RASKIN’S RANTS: Oscar Deals With Reality, Floyd Deals With “Reality”

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hbo-mayweather-ortiz-247-headerDid everyone catch HBO’s Bob Papa not even attempting to pronounce “Hlatshwayo” during the lead-up to the Andre Berto-Jan Zaveck fight on Saturday night? Papa quickly said something to the effect of “Hasho,” mumbling his way through the second syllable like he was Chevy Chase doing a comedy bit, and moved on.

But I’m not going to criticize Papa for mailing one in. If anything, I envy him for being so blasé. One of these days, I’m going to send Editor Mike a completely half-assed column that took 45 minutes to write, and I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

But that day is not today. I put actual effort into answering a reader email and compiling the weekly Rants. I even used Google a couple of times to make sure my information was correct. So enjoy it while you can, because a man can only care about the quality of his work for so long before he takes the “Hasho” route:

Hi Eric,

I know the fight between the Mayweather father and son on 24/7 looked real, but I’m not buying it. It seems I’m in the great minority on that. But did you notice how often both guys turned toward the camera when they were hurling their insults? And more to the point, why should we believe anything Floyd Jr. does or says? This is a guy who acts like a d-head to every opponent in the build-up to the fight, then suddenly is Mr. Magnanimous after the fight ends. He even claimed his partying lifestyle is purely for image enhancement, to sell fights. If you’re going to make that kind of a claim, everything you do has to be questioned. So I’m questioning this spat with his dad. It looked like scripted “reality” TV to me, like The Hills or Laguna Beach.

One more thing about Mayweather: I can’t believe how little flak he’s taken for using the word “f-ggot.” Any guesses as to why he’s getting a free pass on that one?

By the way, great call on Helenius looking like Karl Hungus from The Big Lebowski. I’d been trying to place that Scandinavian-meathead look he has, and you nailed it.

Great stuff, keep on rantin’,
J-Dog

J-Dog,

I hope someone else came up with the nickname “J-Dog” for you, because there are few things in this world lamer than calling yourself “Dog.”

For the reasons you give, I can’t 100 percent rule out the possibility that the Mayweathers were acting. But I’m at about 99.8 percent. Yes, they were turning their bodies toward the cameras at the outset of the argument, but as it went on, they seemed to stop being conscious of the camera crew. It’s hard to explain exactly why I don’t think the verbal war between Big Floyd and Little Floyd was staged, but I’ll invoke Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous line about pornography and say, “I know it when I see it.” It just FELT real to me.

As for “Money” slipping in that sexual-orientation slur, you’re right that it’s barely been mentioned in the press, especially compared to the way Kobe Bryant became the lead topic on PTI for a week when he did the same thing. I have two theories as to why Mayweather isn’t taking extreme heat: (1) A lot of people didn’t hear it. I know I missed it the first time and only caught it on my second viewing. You didn’t SEE him say the word—you only heard him from off-camera, and barely. (2) Mayweather has lowered the bar for the level of class people expect from him to the point that something like this gets shrugged off. If Manny Pacquiao had said that word, there would be a firestorm. Same with Derek Jeter or Tom Brady or Kevin Durant or anyone else who is perceived as a nice guy. But Mayweather has a history of behavior like this (if not a history of using that particular word), and to a certain extent, people tend to tune it out.

Thankfully, nobody tunes out the Rants, so let’s get to ’em:

• Well, Episode Two of 24/7 Mayweather-Ortiz wasn’t as memorable as the first, but there were two moments worth commenting on. First, in the long and storied history of people misusing the word “literally,” Ortiz butchered it perhaps more spectacularly than anyone ever has when he explained, “If you’re talking to me, you’re literally talking to a tree, bro.” And second, how eye-opening was it to learn that Mayweather bets on preseason NFL football? That, my friends, is what you call a gambling problem.

• On another Mayweather-Ortiz note, I’m curious to see, come fight night, who’ll enter the ring first/last and be introduced first/last. Mayweather is the superstar, but Ortiz has the alphabet belt. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s in the contract that Mayweather at least gets to enter the ring second.

• If I ever become a referee, it will be my goal to get work in Mississippi. I’m a big fan of their business-casual dress code.

• Apparently Andre Berto took to heart all that talk about him having no beard. I like the Bill Russell look on him. He’s no better of a fighter than he was before, but at least he looks more bad-ass now.

• I guess there’s no Slovenian version of the F-bomb, hence Jan Zaveck’s use of the English version. What a bummer; I really want to learn at least one Slovenian curse word to have in my back pocket. I guess I’ll have to look up “asinine” in a Slovenian-English dictionary.

• I have about eight or nine toes on the Gary Russell bandwagon now, and I must admit, I’m even entertained watching him duck punches. I normally don’t pay too much attention to the CompuBox numbers, but landing 60 percent of your powerpunches is ridiculous, and holding your opponent to 16 percent landed on powerpunches is equally absurd. Could Russell be that next American-born superstar that so many skeptics believe doesn’t exist? Possibly, although featherweight tends to lurk a little below the mainstream radar. One thing Russell needs if he’s going to make it big is a real nickname. “Mr. Gary Russell Jr.” ain’t cutting it. Whoever came up with that creative brainstorm was definitely having a “Hasho” moment.

• As you’ve probably heard, HBO has ordered a pilot episode of Da Brick, a drama series loosely based on Mike Tyson’s youth. Co-producer Doug Ellin described the series as “Entourage meets The Wire.” So that either means I’ll watch every episode and regret it, or want to watch every episode and never find time for it.

• How many people who don’t follow boxing would have picked Marco Antonio Rubio to win his fight this past weekend after seeing this picture? http://fightnews.com/Boxing/rubio1.jpg

• Oscar De La Hoya was in the news just a little bit last week, wasn’t he? A few thoughts on some of the things he said, did, and is rumored to have done: First, I really hate the phrasing of his claim, “I don’t have the courage to take my own life.” I get what he was trying to express, but “courage” was the wrong word. Second, I found his admission that the lingerie pictures were legit to be curiously timed. Doesn’t he understand that juicy revelations are supposed to be saved for future autobiographies so you can at least profit off of them? And third, the New York Post reported that De La Hoya paid the woman who took those photos $20-million to keep quiet. What a shame. For that kind of money, he could have hired a real editorial staff for The Ring’s website. (Zing!)

• As the world’s leading critic of Omar Narvaez’s protective matchmaking (I harp on it every year in my “State Of The Game” section in The Ring mag), I’m intrigued to see him stepping all the way up to face Nonito Donaire in October. This is the bantamweight equivalent of Sven Ottke coming to America to fight Roy Jones in 2002. It will not end well for Narvaez, but that’s okay. Better to take a shot and fail than to be Sven Ottke.

• Look for a new episode of Ring Theory (http://ringtheory.podbean.com) this week, with previews and analysis of Vitali Klitschko-Tomasz Adamek, Yuriorkis Gamboa-Daniel Ponce De Leon, and of course, the whole Mayweather-Ortiz pay-per-view card. And Bill Dettloff and I both promise to keep the homophobic slurs to a minimum.

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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Denny and Crocker Win in Birmingham: Catterall vs Prograis a Go for Aug. 24

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Matchroom was at Resorts World in Birmingham, England today with a card topped by an EBU European middleweight title fight between Tyler Denny and Felix Cash. Denny was the defending champion and had home field advantage, but Cash, undefeated heading in (16-0, 10 KOs) went to post a consensus 9/4 favorite.

A member of the Irish Traveler community, Cash was making his first start in 18 months. As noted by Tris Dixon, he had a number of distractions during his hiatus, including a bitter divorce. Tonight, he looked rusty and he never did get the chance to establish a rhythm.  In the second round, he suffered a cut on his right eyelid from what was ruled an accidental clash of heads. The cut deepened, and in round five the referee stopped the action and had the ringside physician inspect the wound. On his advice, the bout was stopped.

Owing to the derivation of the cut, the bout went to the scorecards. Tyler Denny was ahead on all three cards: 49-46 and 49-47 twice.

Denny, who improved to 19-2-3, won his second straight inside the distance, an oddity as every one of his first 17 wins went to the scorecards.

Co-Feature

In the co-feature, Belfast welterweight Lewis Crocker advanced to 21-0 (11) with a unanimous but unpopular 10-round decision over Wolverhampton’s Conah Walker (13-3-1). The judges had it 95-94 and 96-93 twice. There were no knockdowns, but Walker had a point deducted in round nine for low blows.

The crowd’s dissatisfaction with the decision (Walker was clearly the busier fighter) was tempered by the fact they got to see a doozy of a fight. At times, notably in the last two rounds, the action was furious.

A rematch is in order, but all indications are that Crocker’s next fight will come against Paddy Donovan who was in attendance. A Top Rank signee from Limerick, Ireland, Donovan is 14-0 as a pro after a decorated amateur career.

Before the main event, Matchroom honcho Eddie Hearn announced that he had come to terms with Jack Catterall and Regis Prograis who will lock horns on Aug. 24 at the new Co-Op Live arena in Manchester, England. In his last assignment, Catterall comprehensively out-pointed former unified 140-pound world champion Josh Taylor while avenging the lone “L” on his record, a highly controversial setback to Taylor two years earlier in Glasgow. Regis Prograis, a two-time world title-holder at 140, has had only bad showing, but that came in his last start when he was thoroughly outclassed by Devin Haney.

Photo credit: Mark Robinson / Matchroom

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Results from Las Vegas where Rafael Espinoza Retained his WBO Title in Grand Style

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Top Rank made its first foray to the newest Las Vegas Strip resort, the Fontainebleu, tonight. Topping the bill was an all-Mexican featherweight title fight between Guadalajara’s Rafael Espinoza and Oaxaca’s Sergio Chirino. The lanky Espinoza, at six-foot-one the tallest featherweight world title-holder in history, was making the first defense of the title he won with a shocking upset of Robeisy Ramirez and tonight he looked sensational.

Espinoza, who advanced his record to 25-0 with his 21st KO, had his countryman on the canvas in the very first round, the result of a counter left uppercut. Chirino wasn’t badly hurt, but it quickly became apparent that he was out-gunned. In round three, Espinoza sent him to the canvas again with a four-punch combo climaxed by a short left to the liver, and Chirino would be down once again in the following round, hunched down from a series of punches that caught only air. At this juncture, referee Raul Caiz Jr wisely stepped in and stopped the fight. The official time was 2:45 of round four. Chirino, who came in riding a 13-fight winning streak, declined to 22-2.

Espinoza is expected to have a rematch with Ramirez, provided that Robeisy gets past his Mexican opponent later this month in a match that, on paper, looks like an easy win for the Cuban southpaw. In their first meeting, the unheralded Espinoza was a massive underdog. Based on his showing tonight, he looks no worse than “pick-‘em” in the sequel.

Co-Feature

In a 10-round junior lightweight fight, North Las Vegas native Andres Cortes scored a unanimous decision over former world title challenger Abraham Nova. The scores favored the local fighter by scores of 96-94 and 97-93 twice.

Cortes had the crowd in his corner, but the reaction when the verdict was announced was one of surprise. Nova, who was credited with throwing and landing more punches, was in better condition and seemingly had the best of it in the late rounds. It was the twenty-second win without a loss for Cortes. Nova (23-3), a class act,  was diplomatic in defeat.

Also

In a true crossroads fight (a “pink slip” fight in the words of ESPN commentator Mark Kriegel),Troy Isley, a former Olympian and stablemate of Terence Crawford, out-worked Javier Martinez to win a unanimous 10-round decision. The judges had it 96-92-and 97-91 twice.

The middleweights were well-acquainted, having split four fights at the amateur level. Isley, from Alexandria, VA, improved to 13-0 (5) Martinez, born in Milwaukee to immigrants from Mexico, was 10-0-1 heading in. Both fighters lost a point for low blows after repeated warnings from referee Tony Weeks.

Other Bouts of Note

In an 8-round bantamweight fight that turned zesty after a slow start, Floyd Mayweather Jr protégé Floyd “Cashflow” Diaz improved to 12-0 (3) with a unanimous decision over Tijuana’s Francisco Pedroza (18-12-2). The judges had it 78-73 across the board. Diaz was making his second start under the tutelage of Brian “Bomac” McIntyre. Pedroza lost a point in round six for hitting on the break.

Steven Navarro, a hot prospect from a prominent SoCal boxing family, won his second pro fight with a 6-round shutout over rugged but outclassed Juan Pablo Meza (7-4), a 33-year-old Chilean.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

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Will Eumir Marcial be the First Filipino Boxer to Win an Olympic Gold Medal?

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Will Eumir Marcial be the First Filipino Boxer to Win an Olympic Gold Medal?

Over the years, some of the world’s best boxers have been Filipino. Long before Manny Pacquiao there was Pancho Villa (Francisco Villaruel Guilledo) who became a national hero at the age of twenty-one when he captured the world flyweight title with a one-sided beat-down of Jimmy Wilde in 1923, knocking the legendary Welshman into retirement. But one thing is missing from the Pinoy boxing catalog, an Olympic gold medal. There have been eight medalists in all, four silver and four bronze, but the coveted gold has proved elusive.

Eumir Marcial came close in Tokyo. He advanced to the semi-finals in the middleweight competition where he lost a razor-thin decision to his Ukrainian opponent. Two of the judges favored him, but that was one short of what was needed.

“It took a long time for me to get over it, but I came to accept that God had a different plan for me,” says Marcial who gets another crack at it next month. He survived the qualifying tournaments and is headed to Paris where he will carry the flag of the Philippines into the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad.

Eumir (you-meer) Marcial grew up in Zamboanga City in the southern region of the archipelago, a two-day trip to Manila by ferry. He was introduced to boxing by his father Eulalio Marcial who besides being a farmer and a jitney driver is also the head coach of the Zamboanga City (amateur) boxing team.

Eulalio’s son is a big wheel in his native habitat, one of the more urbanized areas of the Philippines. This past October, when Eumir returned to Zamboanga City with his silver medal from the Asian Games in China, a motorcade awaited him at the airport and he was whisked to City Hall where he was feted in a ceremony organized by civic leaders.

In Las Vegas, where he was been training for the Olympics, he’s anonymous. No one genuflects when he walks into the DLX Gym in the company of his attractive wife Princess. He’s just another face in the crowd and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Marcial had one pro fight under his belt before the Tokyo Games. In December of 2020, he won a 4-round decision over a 3-1 opponent from Idaho on a card in Los Angeles. Not quite two months before that fight, while training at Freddie Roach’s gym, Marcial, who has two sisters, received the devastating news that his only brother Eliver had died in the Philippines of a sudden heart attack at age 39. Despite the age difference, the two were extremely close.

Marcial has had four more pro fights since then, advancing his record to 5-0 (3 KOs). In two of those fights, he had anxious moments.

In his second pro fight, he was knocked down three times in the first two frames, but gathered his wits about him and stopped his opponent in round four. In his next outing, a 6-rounder on the undercard of a Showtime PPV, he fought through a bad gash over his right eye, the result of an accidental head butt.

“I learned a lot from those fights,” says Marcial, “and they will make me a better Olympian than I was in 2021.”

Marcial spent nearly 10 years in the Philippines Air Force, but as somewhat of a civilian employee, spending little time around aircraft. He attracted a lot of attention after winning the AIBA world junior championship as a 15-year-old bantamweight in Kazakhstan in 2011. The Air Force seized on his growing fame to make him a recruiting specialist.

The word icon is over-used, but not when applied to Manny Pacquiao who overcame abject poverty to become an international superstar. “He was an inspiration to me,” says Marcial who references “PacMan” as Sir Manny or Senator Manny when he speaks about him.

The two would become well-acquainted. Pacquiao co-promoted Marcial’s last pro fight in Manila which was nationally televised in the Philippines and billed as a homecoming for Eumir who hadn’t fought in a Manila ring in five years. (He knocked out his Thai opponent in the fourth round.)

Marcial recalls some advice that Pacquiao gave him: “He said to me, ‘the higher you get, the more humble you should be.’”

Humbleness comes natural to the affable Marcial who is unstinting in his praise of those who have helped him along on his journey. “I would not have gotten through the qualifying tournament for the Paris games if not for my coach Kay Koroma,” he says.

Nowadays, whenever a Filipino boxer appears for a photo-op, Sean Gibbons is certain to be standing close by. Gibbons, who has homes in Las Vegas and the Philippines, has had an amazing ride since the days when he plied the Oklahoma and Midwest circuits, driving hundreds of miles each month to small shows in the sticks, transporting carloads of journeymen boxers with him. “[Sean Gibbons] helps us with accommodations, rental cars, whatever we need, and I am so grateful to him,” says Marcial of the man (pictured above on the left) who wears many hats but is perhaps best described as a facilitator.

Making matters more daunting for Marcial going forward, his weight class was eliminated when the governing body of the Olympics added a new weight category for women, subtracting one from the men. A middleweight (165-pound ceiling) in Tokyo, he will perform as a light heavyweight (176-pound ceiling) in Paris.

Eumir Marcial will return to the pro ranks regardless of what happens in France, but lassoing that elusive Olympic gold medal would likely bring him more joy than anything he may accomplish at the next level.

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