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TSS Has The Best Morning QBs! Reaction To Pacquiao-Rios

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Reactions were mixed on Manny Pacquiao’s performance on Saturday (US) in Macao, in that the vast majority decided that either the old Pacman is back, or, if not quite at the level of “vintage” Manny, that he’s close enough to restart the salivating at the prospect of a Pacquiao-Mayweather clash.

I am not going into that rabbit hole, believing that the impediments which prevented that fight from being made in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 are still present, and I don’t detect even a hint of change in that realm. So, I figure, speculating about fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao (seen celebrating in Chris Farina-Top Rank photo) is pretty much a masturbatory exercise, and best left to others so inclined.

Two days later, if asked to offer a single element of Manny’s effort that stands out for me, I have to choose from a few, not being able to cordon off just one. His stamina was marvelous, and continual. There weren’t but a few parts of several rounds when it looked like he was conserving energy. I attribute that to some extra oomph in training, derived from his wounded pride; Manny said he wanted to come back and show the world that the KO at the hands of Marquez was truly an aberration, and not the new normal for him.

His battle plan was exemplary. The left to the gut the great work with the right hand, which allowed him to slither and slide out to his right, and keep Rios from winging left hooks and/or cutting off his path of escape, the discipline in sticking with it, the resistance of temptation to start loading up more, seeking a KO, and therefore leaving himself open to a counter which could spur a flashback to that Marquez moment…Manny gets an A for tactics and strategy.

Trainer Freddie Roach has to get an A, as well, for superior game-planning. He tried to tell us that Rios was a mere “tough guy” and doesn’t possess enough grounding in the arts and the scientific elements of pugilism to hang on the same playing field as Manny…and he was right. Public opinion has swung from Roach as the ‘It Trainer,’ to Robert Garcia, and now its swung back again, with the anti-Garcia crew now noting they didn’t hear or see what they’d hope to hear in the corner in between rounds to attempt to goad Rios into a re-set of tactics to switch the momentum in the Macao clash.

As always, the superlative Forum crew at TheSweetScience.com exhibited the keen eye and knack for communicating their insights post-fight. Let me share some of the feedback from our Forum faithful now:

Pacman fan Amayseng dug Manny’s effort as much as I did, it seems, maybe more.

“Manny peppered Rios and boxed his ears off in a boxing lesson. Manny fought smart and controlled,” he wrote. “Rios is a walking punching bag when fighting an elite athlete and boxer like Pacman. I hope Rios didn’t take so much punishment that he STUTTERS the rest of his life like he was doing in that video making fun of another individual who is disabled and handicapped to certain extents due to a disease…or DONT I??”

Clearly, that gym meltdown featuring embrassing behavior by ex Team Pacquiao member Alex Ariza and Roach won’t soon be forgotten by Amayseng…

The inimitable Radam weighed in, in his patented fashion:

“Bam Bam was full of fright, instead of fear. From the first time that he got clocked, his noggin he couldn’t clear. He couldn’t handle the big-fight atmosphere. He definitely didn’t have “The Eye of the Tiger,” but the eye of a-struck-in-the-path-of-a-headlight deer. To himself, he and Team Rios, told a lot of lies. Just before the start of the bout, he had dragonflies, instead of butterflies. With condition coach Alex Ariza, he ought to cut ties. Or to elite boxing, say his goodbyes. Holla!”

Reader Jzzy also came down hard on Rios and company:

“Manny exposed Rios for what he is, a loser with limited intelligence, class and zero boxing ability. Garcia provided no help whatsoever from the corner, where was their plan B? This was reminiscent of the Pac/Clottey fight, another lopsided paint job by Manny. Rios absorbed a frightful amount of punishment and yes he is a punching bag well on the way to Palookaville.”

Mortcola too had a stinging assessment of Rios:

“No sign of decline in Pacquiao,” he said. “Pac was destroying Marquez before he walked into that punch. And Saturday night he showed more speed and stamina than in years. Maybe the new god-fearing version really doesn’t like to hurt people. But more likely is that he hits hard enough to bust the big welters’ faces and bodies up, and KO some of them, but the size difference shows in whether he gets the KO. But still, that was a prime, quick, focused fighter in there. And Rios is already slurring.”

A sweet review came from our guy Brown Sugar:

“Even though the uncompromising non-stop aggressive style of Paq’s youth is gone, he still fought a masterful fight against an opponent who was as made to order as a pepperoni pizza.? Manny floats like a dragonfly and stings like a hornet. Rios was being out-classed in every department and had no chance to win while suffering the most lopsided loss of his career. ?I was surprised he sounded offended when Max asked him if felt like a punching bag.? Manny looked sharp last night, putting on a performance that would have made Mayweather proud. Speaking of Mayweather ….it’s time to make that fight.”

Sug also offered up a roster of possibilities for Manny’s next:

“Provnikov is a friend and won’t fight. Broner is unproven at the weight. Thurman is an Al Haymon fighter. Cotto is too big. Garcia is on Showtime. Marquez is chasing a rematch with Bradley. Bradley can’t sell tickets but Paq can…so we’ll see. Matthysse has been eliminated. I wouldn’t mind seeing Alexander getting the call…but it’s unlikely. Khan needs to prove he can compete at the top level again. That leaves Mayweather.”

By the way, I have no problem with fight fans and consumers calling for That Fight to be made. They need to speak up and demand the fights they want to see, be it Mayweather-Manny, or fights that “can’t” be made because of The Cold War.

Ultimo Shogun brought up a nice point, that of Manny’s class. Rios could absorb some of that, as it says something about a person in how they react in both good times and bad. Manny acts the same after winning and losing: with class and dignity. He’s a role model, after all.

“Manny’s a class act…the way he hugged Rios and then his corner (including Ariza) after the fight was surprising to me,” US said. “Always good to see great sportsmanship like that despite all the ugly things that were said between the two camps.”

Feel free, friends, to continue the high-level of discourse in the Forum, and riffing off some of the points made here!

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Anderson Cruises by Vapid Merhy and Ajagba edges Vianello in Texas

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Jared Anderson returned to the ring tonight on a Top Rank card in Corpus Christi, Texas. Touted as the next big thing in the heavyweight division, Anderson (17-0, 15 KOs) hardly broke a sweat while cruising past Ryad Merhy in a bout with very little action, much to the disgruntlement of the crowd which started booing as early as the second round. The fault was all Merhy as he was reluctant to let his hands go. Somehow, he won a round on the scorecard of judge David Sutherland who likely fell asleep for a round for which he could be forgiven.

Merhy, born in the Ivory Coast but a resident of Brussels, Belgium, was 32-2 (26 KOs) heading in after fighting most of his career as a cruiserweight. He gave up six inches in height to Anderson who was content to peck away when it became obvious to him that little would be coming back his way.

Anderson may face a more daunting adversary on Monday when he has a court date in Romulus, Michigan, to answer charges related to an incident in February where he drove his Dodge Challenger at a high rate speed, baiting the police into a merry chase. (Weirdly, Anderson entered the ring tonight wearing the sort of helmet that one associates with a race car driver.)

Co-Feature

In the co-feature, a battle between six-foot-six former Olympians, Italy’s Guido Vianello started and finished strong, but Efe Ajagba had the best of it in the middle rounds and prevailed on a split decision. Two of the judges favored Ajagba by 96-94 scores with the dissenter favoring the Italian from Rome by the same margin.

Vianello had the best round of the fight. He staggered Ajagba with a combination in round two. At the end of the round, a befuddled Ajagba returned to the wrong corner and it appeared that an upset was brewing. But the Nigerian, who trains in Las Vegas under Kay Koroma, got back into the fight with a more varied offensive attack and better head movement. In winning, he improved his ledger to 20-1 (14). Vianello, who sparred extensively with Daniel Dubois in London in preparation for this fight, declined to 12-2-1 in what was likely his final outing under the Top Rank banner.

Other Bouts of Note

In the opening bout on the main ESPN platform, 35-year-old super featherweight Robson Conceicao, a gold medalist for Brazil in the 2016 Rio Olympics, stepped down in class after fighting Emanuel Navarrete tooth-and-nail to a draw in his previous bout and scored a seventh-round stoppage of Jose Ivan Guardado who was a cooked goose after slumping to the canvas after taking a wicked shot to the liver. Guardado made it to his feet, but the end was imminent and the referee waived it off at the 2:27 mark.

Conceicao improved to 18-1 (9 KOs). It was the U.S. debut for Guardado (15-2-1), a boxer from Ensenada, Mexico who had done most of his fighting up the road in Tijuana.

Ruben Villa, the pride of Salinas, California, improved to 22-1 (7) and moved one step closer to a match with WBC featherweight champion Rey Vargas with a unanimous 10-round decision over Tijuana’s Cristian Cruz (22-7-1). The judges had it 97-93 and 98-92 twice.

Cruz, the son of former IBF world featherweight title-holder Cristobal Cruz, was better than his record. He entered the bout on a 21-1-1 run after losing five of his first seven pro fights.

Cleveland southpaw Abdullah Mason, who turned 20 earlier this month, continued his fast ascent up the lightweight ladder with a fourth-round stoppage of Ronal Ron.

Mason (13-0, 11 KOs) put Ron on the canvas in the opening round with a short left hook. He scored a second knockdown with a shot to the liver. A flurry of punches, a diverse array, forced the stoppage at the 1:02 mark of round four. A 25-year-old SoCal-based Venezuelan, the spunky but out-gunned Ron declined to 14-6.

Charly Suarez, a 35-year-old former Olympian from the Philippines, ranked #5 at junior lightweight by the IBF, advanced to 17-0 (9) with a unanimous 8-round decision over SoCal’s Louie Coria (5-7).

This was a tactical fight. In the final round, Coria, subbing for 19-0 Henry Lebron, caught the Filipino off-balance and knocked him into the ropes which held him up. It was scored a knockdown, but came too little, too late for Coria who lost by scores of 76-75 and 77-74 twice.

Suarez, whose signature win was a 12th-round stoppage of the previously undefeated Aussie Paul Fleming in Sydney, may be headed to a rematch with Robson Conceicao. They fought as amateurs in 2016 in Kazakhstan and Suarez lost a narrow 6-round decision.

Photo credit: Mikey Willams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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Ellie Scotney and Rhiannon Dixon Win World Title Fights in Manchester

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England’s Ellie Scotney started slowly against the long reach of France’s Segolene Lefebvre but used rough tactics and a full-steam ahead approach to unify the super bantamweight division by unanimous decision on Saturday.

“There’s a lot more I didn’t show,” said an excited Scotney (pictured on the left).

IBF titlist Scotney (9-0) added the WBO title by nullifying Lefebvre’s (18-1) reach and dominating the inside with a two-fisted attack in front of an excited crowd in Manchester, England.

For the first two rounds Lefebvre used her long reach and smooth fluid attack to keep Scotney at the end of her punches. Then the fight turned when the British fighter bulled her way inside with body shots and forced the French fighter into the ropes.

Aggressiveness by Scotney turned the fight in her favor. But Lefebvre remained active and countered with overhand rights throughout the match.

Body shots by Scotney continued to pummel the French champion’s abdomen but she remained steadfast in her counter-attacks. Combinations landed for Lefebvre and a counter overhand right scored to keep her in the contest in the fifth round.

Scotney increased the intensity of her attack in the sixth and seventh rounds. In perhaps her best round Scotney was almost perfect in scoring while not getting hit with anything from the French fighter.

Maybe the success of the previous round caused Scotney to pause. It allowed Lefebvre to rally behind some solid shots in a slow round and gave the French fighter an opening. Maybe.

The British fighter opened up more savagely after taking two Lefevbre rights to open the ninth. Scotney attacked with bruising more emphatic blows despite getting hit. Though both fired blows Scotney’s were more powerful.

Both champions opened-up the 10th and final round with punches flying. Once again Scotney’s blows had more power behind them though the French fighter scored too, and though her face looked less bruised than Scotney’s the pure force of Scotney’s attacks was more impressive.

All three judges saw Scotney the winner 97-93, 96-94 and a ridiculous 99-91. The London-based fighter now has the IBF and WBO super bantamweight titles.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said a possible showdown with WBC titlist Erika Cruz looms large possibly in the summer.

“Great performance. Great punch output,” said Hearn of Scotney’s performance.

Dixon Wins WBO Title

British southpaw Rhiannon Dixon (10-0) out-fought Argentina’s Karen Carabajal (22-2) over 10 rounds and won a very competitive unanimous decision to win the vacant WBO lightweight title. It was one of the titles vacated by Katie Taylor who is now the undisputed super lightweight world champion.

An aggressive Dixon dominated the first three rounds including a knockdown in the third round with a perfect left-hand counter that dropped Carabajal. The Argentine got up and rallied in the round.

Carabajal, whose only loss was against Katie Taylor, slowly began figuring out Dixon’s attacks and each round got more competitive. The Argentine fighter used counter rights to find a hole in Dixon’s defense to probably win the round in the sixth.

The final three rounds saw both fighters engage evenly with Carabajal scoring on counters and Dixon attacking the body successfully.

After 10 rounds all three judges saw it in Dixon’s favor 98-91, 97-92, 96-93 who now wields the WBO lightweight world title.

“It’s difficult to find words,” said Dixon after winning the title.

Hometown Fighter Wins

Manchester’s Zelfa Barrett (31-2, 17 KOs) battled back and forth with Jordan Gill (28-3-1, 9 KO-s) and finally ended the super featherweight fight with two knockdowns via lefts to the body in the 10th round of a scheduled 12-round match for a regional title.

The smooth moving Barrett found the busier Gill more complex than expected and for the first nine rounds was fighting a 50/50 fight against the fellow British fighter from the small town of Chatteris north of London.

In the 10th round after multiple shots on the body of Gill, a left hook to the ribs collapsed the Chatteris fighter to the floor. He willed himself up and soon after was floored again but this time by a left to the solar plexus. Again he continued but was belted around until the referee stopped the onslaught by Barrett at 2:44 of the 10th.

“A tough, tough fighter,” said Barrett about Gill. “I had to work hard.”

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O.J. Simpson the Boxer: A Heartwarming Tale for the Whole Family

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O.J. Simpson passed away on Wednesday, April 10, at age 76 in Las Vegas where he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. For millions of Americans, news of his passing unloosed a flood of memories.

The O.J. Simpson double murder trial lasted 37 weeks. CNN and two other fledgling cable networks provided gavel-to-gavel coverage. On Oct. 3, 1995, the day that the jury rendered its verdict, CBS, NBC, ABC, and ESPN suspended regular programming to cover the trial. Worldwide, more than 100 million people were reportedly glued to their TV or radio.

O.J.’s life can be neatly compartmentalized into two halves. The dividing line is June 12, 1994. On that date, Simpson’s estranged wife, the former Nicole Brown, and her friend Ronald Goldman were found stabbed to death in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood at the home that Nicole shared with their two children.

Before then, O.J. was famous. After then, he was infamous.

Simpson first came to the fore on the gridiron. In 1968, his final season at the University of Southern California, he was so dynamic that he won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide, out-distancing Purdue’s Leroy Keyes by 1,750 votes. This was the widest margin to that point between a Heisman winner and runner-up and a milestone that stood for 51 years until surpassed by LSU quarterback Joe Burrows in 2019.

In the NFL, among his many achievements, he became the first and only NFL running back to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards in a 14-game season, a record that will never be broken.

But one can’t appreciate the depth of O.J.s celebrityhood by citing statistics. He transcended his sport like few athletes before or since. Owing in large part to his commercials for the Hertz rental car chain, he became one of America’s most recognizable people.

O.J. Simpson was raised by a single mother in a government housing project in the gritty Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. Unlike many of his boyhood peers, he was never quick to raise his fists. Weirdly, he once said that running away from fights proved useful to him when he took up football. It helped his stamina.

Although he never boxed in real life, O.J. portrayed a boxer in a made-for-TV movie. Titled “Goldie and the Boxer,” it aired on NBC on Sunday, Dec. 29, 1979, two weeks after O.J. played in his last NFL game. Co-produced by Simpson’s own production company, it starred O.J. opposite precocious Melissa Michaelson who played the 10-year-old Goldie.

In promos, the movie was tagged as a heartwarming tale for kids and their parents. Associated Press writer John Egan described it as “a cross between the Shirley Temple classic ‘Little Miss Marker’ and a low-budget ‘Rocky.’”

Here’s a synopsis, compliments of New York Times TV critic John J. O’Connor:

“The year is 1946, and Joe Gallagher is returning to Louisiana as an army veteran. He is quickly ripped off by a succession of thugs and finds himself broke and battered in Pennsylvania where he is befriended by a young Goldie. Her father is a boxer and Joe joins the training camp as a sparring partner. When the father dies, Joe takes his place on the fight circuit and Goldie becomes his manager…”

The consensus of the pundits was that O.J. the actor was very much a work in progress, but that he had great potential. And the movie, despite its hokey plot, attracted so many viewers that NBC wanted to turn it into a series.

O.J. had too much on his plate to commit to doing a regular series. Among other things, he had signed on to become part of NBC’s main stable of reporters at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, a gig that evaporated when the U.S. under President Jimmy Carter joined 64 other nations in boycotting the Games as a protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. However, the movie did spawn a sequel, “Goldie and the Boxer Go To Hollywood,” with Simpson and Michaelson reprising their roles.

I never met O.J. Simpson, but have a vivid memory of finding myself walking behind him into the outdoor boxing arena at Caesars Palace. If memory serves, this was the Hagler-Hearns fight of 1985, in which case the lady on his arm would have been Nicole as they were married earlier that year. She was quite a dish in that tight-fitting pantsuit and I remember thinking to myself, “of all the trophies this dude has won, here is the best trophy of them all.” (Forgive me.)

Simpson had cameo roles in several movies before leaving USC. When he finally turned his back on football, the world was his oyster. O.J., wrote Barry Lorge in the Washington Post, was “bright, affable, charming, articulate and credible, a public relation man’s dream-come true.”

No one would have foreseen the swerve his life would take.

When the jury, after only four hours of deliberation, returned a verdict of “not guilty,” there was cheering in some corners of America. The overwhelming consensus of the white population, however, was that the verdict was an abomination, a gross miscarriage of justice.

We’ll leave it at that.

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