Archive for the ‘Boxing’ Category

Another boxing story from the Donkey published through Bleacher Report.

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Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Welterweight boxers Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez face off on December 8th in Las Vegas to contest their fourth bout against one another. Speculation of steroid abuse has once again hit the table ahead of the fight, only this time it’s not being thrown in Pacman’s direction.

In an interview with USA TODAY this week, Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, leveled the accusation against his fighters opponent. In the interview Roach said “If his body is natural, I will kiss his ass”, and later went on to discuss the changes in Marquez’s body.

In that same article, Marquez shrugged off the allegations and discussed the strength and conditioning training he is undergoing with Angel Hernandez. He states that his workouts have changed and become more focused on enhancing both speed and strength at the same time.

Given this, I find it interesting to read that Roach feels there are artificial means to the weight gain and sculpting of Marquez while the same changes his own fighter went through during his meteoric rise through the weight classes was carefully planned diets and workouts.

Is either man doping? I doubt it, but cannot categorically say no. However, we can look at their records through the years to examine the changes both men have gone through.

Pac-marq1_original Marquez – Pacquiao I

Since his debut as a professional in 1993, Marquez fought around the Featherweight (126 lb) and Super-Featherweight (130) weight classes for the next 15 years.

Looking at his fight weights on boxerrec.com, you can see that there were some occasions in which his weight was a little over the 130 limit, but they were few and far between. You could point to those occasional higher weights and say he was a man struggling to stay within the weight limits.

Marquez made the step up in weight in 2008, weighing 134½against Juan Diaz then a career high 146 in his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. Since then he has stayed above 135 pounds.

Now, looking at Pacquiao and using boxerrec.com again to examine his weights we can see that he had a steady rise through the weight classes throughout his career.

Starting out in the Light-Flyweight (108) division and gradually progressing every couple of years before settling in around the Featherweight (126) and Super-Featherweight (130) division, thus beginning the rivalry with Marquez.

Who is doping?

  • JMM

    21.4%
  • Pacman

    14.3%
  • Both

    42.9%
  • Neither

    21.4%

Total votes: 14

Pacman’s final rise through the weight classes also began in 2008 with a fight at 135 against David Diaz prior to his breakthrough bout to world stardom when he destroyed Oscar De La Hoya at 145 pounds.

The only difference between the two since that jump in weight class is that Pacquiao stayed at or above the 140 lb mark while Marquez dropped back to slightly below.

Even the manner of their victories has been similar, with both fighters enjoying a mixture of stoppages and decision victories in the higher weight classes.

Given the similar nature of their recent ascents to the higher weight class, and the manner of their fights, nothing jumps out at me to scream cheater. While some will point to the sculpting of their bodies in their 30’s being an indication of juicing, new diet plans with legal supplements, new training methods and renewed dedication to getting the most out of aging bodies could also lead to re-sculpting of the torso.

Pac-marq3_original Marquez-Pacman III

So, to believe Roach’s claim that Marquez has been cheating, I would also have to believe speculation that Pacquiao was also a cheat.

The speculation has been there. Touted future opponent Mayweather Jr spoke quite candidly on the matter in the build up to his bout earlier in 2012 with Miguel Cotto. He commented on changes he sees in Pacman’s head size as an indication of doping and also of the manner in which Pacquiao blitzed his way through opponents.

Words such as these from other members of Team Mayweather had already landed them in court on defamation charges, charges that ultimately led to them having to issue a public statement that they did not intend to claim Pacquiao had, or was, using performance enhancing drugs.

Pacquiao himself has also addressed the PED rumours numerous times, most recently in this interview with USA TODAY in which Manny discusses the Lance Armstrong situation, stating “this is why I never have used drugs like steroids for my career…Why use illegal drugs–steroids–and ruin your name?”

Now, I understand that nobody is going to admit willingly to having used PED’s to further their career, but also believe in that people are innocent until proven guilty.

Is it possible that one or either man has used PED’s to change their body, maintain power through the weight classes or prolong their career? Yes, it is highly possible. However, until somebody can show that either man has cheated we have to go by their word.

This is why I find it incredible for Roach to be leveling accusations at Marquez given the flack he has seen his man take first hand. Roach, however, understands that mind games can play a huge role in boxing and how better to get under the opponents’ skin than by accusing him of cheating less than two weeks before the fight?

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Another original piece from the Donkey’s mouth through bleacherreport.com.

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Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

According to a report from boxingscene.com over the weekend the newly crowned IBF Welterweight Champion, Devon Alexander, has been signed to fight Britain’s Kell Brook on January 19th.

News of the bout was given to former WBA and IBF Light-Welterweight champion Amir Khan, who in this boxingscene.com report expressed surprise that Brook took the challenge this soon and also signaled his desire to set up a fight with Brook if he is victorious in his first world title challenge.

Brook became the number one challenger for the IBF Welterweight crown on the same day Alexander himself won the title by stopping Hector Saldivia in the third-round of their October 20th IBF Title Eliminator bout in Brook’s home city of Sheffield, England.

That same evening on the other side of the Atlantic, former Light-Welterweight title holder Alexander defeated veteran fighter Randall Baily via unanimous decision to claim the Welterweight crown, and setting up a future showdown with Brook.

Khan’s surprise that Brook took the challenge is understandable. Brook has yet to face a top level opponent. Without disrespecting any fighters he has defeated so far in his 29-0 career, Brook’s top opponents have been an aged Lovemore N’Dou and Matthew Hatton.

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By comparison, Alexander has been in the ring with high caliber fighters, including Timothy Bradley, Lucas Matthysse, Marcos Maidana and also Randall. The difference in the quality of opponent between Alexander and Brook is large, especially when you consider how deep Brook had to dig to hang on for a victory over Carson Jones earlier this year.

The fight with Alexander is not only Brook’s first experience with a world title fight, but also a massive jump in the level of competition he will be facing. With an undefeated record, and a recent victory scored mostly on guts and determination, Brook surely feels this is the type of fight his skills should have him in for the foreseeable future.

As for Khan discussing a possible showdown with Brook if the Sheffield fighter can defeat Alexander, can you blame him? Prior to losing his championship belts, Khan had Brook bringing him up as a future opponent after defeating Matthew Hatton in March of this year.

You could say that Brook was being smart to mention Khan in interviews before he was really deserving of a shot at a champion. In today’s Internet driven world, if Brook can have his name associated with a better known fighter it increases the number of people looking at him.

Now, the coin could be flipped. Successive defeats have left Khan once again rebuilding his career while Brook is about to try his hand at moving his to the next level. If Brook becomes a champion, a fight with Khan is one that will definitely sell, so Khan used the opportunity wisely to throw his name into the mix for a possible title shot.

Smart marketing by both guys, now they need to back it up in the ring.

The story below is my original work published through bleacherreport.com

Wladimir Klitschko fought his first professional boxing match in over eight years without his hall of fame trainer, the late Emanuel Steward, when he defeated Poland’s Mariusz Wach on Saturday. While the outcome of the fight was almost a foregone conclusion to many, how Klitschko would perform without Steward interested me. Enter Johnathon Banks.

Banks himself is a professional boxer, fighting in the heavyweight division, who was trained by Steward. Following Steward’s passing, Banks stepped into his old mentor’s shoes on Klitshcko’s behalf in taking on the role of trainer, all this while preparing for his own fight on November 17th against undefeated heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell.

I was interested to see if Banks was merely “filling a role” for Klitschko’s fight with Wach, or if he was actually going to be a hands on trainer during the bout.

When a Klitschko brother fights, the other brother is usually close at hand and often performing a job in the corner. Knowing this, I wondered if Vitali would take the role of the main communicator between rounds while Banks was just an additional pair of eyes.

I watched the bout live through EpixHD, through which the lack of commercials between rounds allowed me to see the dynamics in the corner. I was happy to see that the man who had stepped up and assumed the trainer role for the fight was allowed to do just that–train.

Vitali stayed mostly as a background figure, assisting where needed and holding the bucket. Banks broke down the round as he saw it, and gave a great breakdown of how the fight was going and what he wanted to see moving forward. Vitali occasionally echoed Banks’ instructions, always in English, and both brothers appeared to respect what Banks was saying.

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Wladimir followed the rookie trainer’s instructions well. If Banks said to jab more, Wladimir jabbed more. When Banks wanted him to bring the right hand into play more frequently to follow the jab, there were more right hands.

Banks had obviously spent his time under Steward paying attention to more than just the instruction he was being given for his own fights. He astutely instructed Wladimir on the best approach round-to-round and when it was time to start mixing things up in order to keep Wach on his toes.

Even more impressive was the manner in which Banks was able to keep the corner calm at the end of Round 5, a round that ended with Wach catching Klitschko with a strong right hand and then pushing forward and looking to do more damage.

In the corner, Banks kept things calm, talking to Wladimir about staying on task, keeping the jab going and keeping the pace under his control. For a novice trainer to keep everyone—including himself—grounded and level headed after seeing his fighter eat a big right hand was a good thing to see.

To all appearances, it seems as though Klitschko intends to keep Banks on full-time and after working well together in the build up to Saturday’s bout—and again during the fight—it seems to me like a wise choice.

Another boxing story. Again an original piece by me and once again published through bleacherreport.com

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Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Let’s face facts first, I don’t think there is a single boxing fan who didn’t predict a dominant victory tonight from Wladimir Klitschko over the previously undefeated Mariusz Wach.

However, there were a couple of unexpected events in this bout. First, there was the chin displayed by Wach, who weathered a 12-round beating at the hands of Klitschko and didn’t even look close to landing on the seat of his pants.

Second, there was the fight Klitschko fought. We’ve all gotten used to the safely-does-it approach we’ve seen from Klitschko over the last few years, but tonight, he attacked throughout and entertained.

Did the level of opponent allow Klitschko to deliver a different type of fight as normal? Probably. However, I enjoyed the display and was surprised that Wach stayed on his feet.

From the opening bell, Klitschko came forward. His jab, as usual, was dominant throughout the bout as he landed it seemingly at will. What was different was the come-forward manner Klitscko displayed, the fact that he started letting his right hand go earlier than usual and the three- and four-punch combinations he threw throughout the bout.

Klitschko peppered his opponent with his usually jab-straight combination throughout the first four rounds while adding frequent left hooks, some as leadoff hooks and some at the end of the one-two that were landing so well.

Wach, to his credit, weathered everything Klitschko had to throw, and until the very end of the fifth round, didn’t seemed phased. At the end of Round 5, Klitschko caught Wach with a big right hand that visibly shook his opponent, who seemed relieved when the bell sounded.

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The big round of the bout came in Round 8 as Klitschko obviously upped the pace in search of a knockout. Leading in with flurries of punches we are not accustomed to seeing Klitschko throw, he took the fight to Wach to the glee of the fans.

Still, Wach stayed on his feet. There were moments in the eighth in which some refs would have stopped the fight, but it was allowed to continue—and rightly so. Wach ate a lot of punches but rarely looked stunned or in serious trouble, managingd to fire back with occasional shots.

Wach did have his moment in an otherwise one-sided fight. At the end of Round 6, Wach connected with a good right hand that backed Klitschko onto the ropes. For the final 30 seconds of the round, Wach attacked. It was a sight the crowd had not seen before in the bout and one they would not see again.

As Wach unloaded, Klitschko ducked, bobbed and kept his gloves in front of his face. The first right hand aside, nothing in Wach’s attack landed cleanly, and the door was closed on his chance in the fight as quickly as it opened.

The remainder of the bout continued with Klitschko attacking, landing jabs, crosses and hooks, and Wach, somehow, managing to stay on his feet. The judges’ decision was just a formality as Klitschko, once again, dominated his opponent to successfully defend his heavyweight titles.

I am sure we will here the usual complaints about the level of competition Wladimir is facing, and we will read articles about how overrated he is. I, however, enjoy watching Klitschko fight and was thrilled to see an aggressive, come-forward Klitschko provide an entertaining fight in honor of his late trainer Emanuel Steward.

Here’s one some of you may not have heard of. Published by me through bleacherreport.com a look at Frankie Gavin’s recent victory over Junior Witter.

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Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Frankie who?

British welterweight prospect Frankie Gavin defeated former World Boxing Council Light Welterweight champion Junior Witter last night to claim the British Welterweight Title and get his career back on track.

Gavin was an excellent amateur boxer who won a bronze medal in the 2005 EU Amateur Championships and then followed with successive gold medals in the 2006 Commonwealth Games, 2007 World Amateur Championships and 2008 EU Amateur Championships.

He was viewed by many as the favourite for the 2008 Olympic gold medal, but failed to make weight and was unable to compete, ultimately leading to him choosing to embark on a professional career.

Starting life well as a professional boxer, Gavin raced off to an 11-0 record, capped off with obtaining the World Boxing Organization Intercontinental Welterweight Title by outpointing fellow Brit, and former professional soccer player, Curtis Woodhouse in July 2011.

That’s when the wheels fell off.

Gavin went through personal problems outside boxing, including bereavement, illness and relationship troubles, that affected his focus on his career.

Gavin pulled out of a 2011 WBO Intercontinental Welterweight clash after reportedly walking out on training with no explanation, leaving promoter Frank Warren scrambling to rescue the ticket.

Those problems, according to Gavin, are now behind him and he is ready to make up for lost time.

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The fight with Witter was Gavin’s third of 2012, and saw him step up the level of competition he was facing.

Witter, a former world title holder, was a great test for Gavin. A fast-handed switch-hitter with experience in world title fights, and who still holds a Top 20 ranking in the stacked welterweight division according to iboboxing.com, Witter would let us see how Gavin’s progression has come along.

In a fight that lacked the type of explosive action fans crave, Gavin showed he can handle a difficult, experienced fighter, as he raced to a dominant decision victory.

If Gavin can continue his recovery from the personal problems that plagued his 2011, and if he can secure more fights that can challenge his abilities, he could continue his rise through the welterweight division and become yet another highly regarded prospect within a division loaded with talent

Originally published by me through bleacherreport.com

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Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Former WBA and IBF light welterweight champion Amir Khan will take on American Carlos Molina in Los Angeles, California on December 15th. It will be Khan’s first bout since his knockout loss to Danny Garcia in July, and also his first fight under new trainer Virgil Hunter.

In this press conference video from BoxingScene.com, a different Amir Khan stood at the podium. This Amir Khan was humble, there was no bravado, he spoke about the difficulties being a comeback fighter and spoke about new training regimes he is learning under Hunter.

Could it be that Hunter’s methods are already paying off for Khan, who stated in the video that Hunter is teaching him to slow things down and think things through while he is fighting?

Khan’s mellow, humble approach reminds me somewhat of another Hunter-trained fighter, Andre Ward, who while confident in his abilities is not over the top, in your face or brash with his comments.If this attitude is truly rubbing off on Khan, we could see a completely different fighter step into the ring against Molina.

The Khan of the past was always looking to put on a show. Supremely confident in his abilities as a boxer, he wanted to entertain the crowd and it ultimately came back to bite him.

Khan’s willingness to entertain led to him eating huge punches from Marcos Maidana that came close to ending the fight and also brought about his most recent defeat at the hands of Garcia.

A calm, calculated approach to fighting could bring huge rewards to a boxer like Khan who has all the tools at his disposal but is often too headstrong for his own good.

Molina isn’t a power puncher, but likes to pressure his opponents, throw punches and make them back up. Lamont Peterson caused Khan problems with that style in their recent bout, so it will be interesting to see if this level headed approach from Khan follows him to the ring

Review of opponents on Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s wish list to Golden Boy Promotions, published by me through bleacherreport.com

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Josh Hedges/Getty Images

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the 22 year old Mexican boxer, WBC light middleweight title holder and veteran of 42 professional fights, is looking for a fight. He informed RingTV.com in September of his wish list following his domination of Josesito Lopez. The list is three names long and is a signal of intent from Alvarez and a long-needed step in the right direction.

For such a young fighter, Alvarez has been in a lot of fights.

However, when you consider the limited amateur background he has—just 20 amateur bouts—he is actually behind many fighters in terms of in-ring experience. Floyd Mayweather Jr. had 90 amateur bouts before turning pro.

Alvarez has been touted as the next big thing in boxing and has been labelled overrated and protected to equal degrees. In truth, he seems to currently lie somewhere between the two.

Alvarez is a talented young boxer whose rise to prominence was a carefully crafted piece of maneuvering by his management team that took place before he had faced a level of opposition to justify it.

One thing that Alvarez’s intentions appear to signal is that he is ready to show the world that he is what he has been hyped to be. The three names on the list are definitely a sign that he is not happy to sit back and count his cash while facing lesser opposition; he wants to face the best.

 

 

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The three he has apparently requested in his meeting with Golden Boy Promotion executives are Floyd Mayweather Jr., Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez. He has also signaled he would like to fight one of these opponents on May 5th. If granted the opportunity against one of these fighters, who should Canelo face?

 

Floyd Mayweather

Lets start with the biggest of the three, Floyd Mayweather.

Love him or hate him there is no denying the greatness of Floyd Mayweather Jr. He is undefeated as a professional boxer, a title holder over five divisions and a defensive boxing master. Mayweather has long been considered one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the world.

Mayweather combines blistering hand speed with a superb defensive technique, lightning-quick reflexes and pinpoint-accurate counterpunching. OK, in case you couldn’t tell, I think Mayweather is the best active boxer around. However, at some point age may begin to creep in and dull one or more of these senses and make the playing field a little more even.

It’s not the first time Alvarez has spoken about wanting to face Mayweather.

 

He stated as much before his bout with Shane Mosley. The fight against Mayweather never happened, but the desire to test himself against the best hasn’t gone away.

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Mayweather will not have fought in a year come May 2013.

While that is not unusual for Mayweather, a portion of that year was spent in a small cell during his incarceration from June to August of this year. I expected Mayweather to fight in November or December of this year to shake off the rust before taking on a big opponent in May. Maybe he feels he is in great shape and is just planning a May date for a blockbuster fight.

It is hard to tell with Mayweather.

 

Miguel Cotto

Cotto appears to have vanquished the demons he carried following his controversial loss to Antonio Margarito, a loss made controversial by Margarito being caught with loaded gloves prior to his defeat at the hands of Shane Mosley.

Looking back at the way Margarito brutally wore down Cotto in their first bout has me questioning whether his gloves were loaded going into the fight, a fight in which Cotto didn’t send a member of his team to monitor the wrapping of Margarito’s hands.

 

Following a blue patch that included the Margarito loss, a bloody battle with Joshua Clottey and a brutal beating by Manny Pacquiao, Cotto has returned to the top of the game. Moving up a weight class, winning a world title (again), successfully defending the title twice, avenging the Margarito loss and earning a fight with Mayweather has brought Cotto back to the top.

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The loss to Mayweather hasn’t hurt Cotto’s reputation. After all, there’s no harm in losing to the best when you drag them through a 12-round battle with you.

 

Sergio Martinez

Coming into his own later in his career, Martinez has shown himself to be a tremendous fighter in the last few years. His hand speed, movement, accuracy and power have allowed him to defeat bigger men than him in the Middleweight division and achieve several titles in the process.

In his most recent bout against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Martinez dominated the first 11 rounds against his much bigger opponent. He also showed great heart late in the fight to not only get up from a late knockdown but continue to take the fight to Chavez after the knockout. Many would have back peddled to ensure they win on points and not be knocked out.

 

Martinez, like Alvarez, has also stated his desire to face Mayweather. Will either one get that fight, or will they face each other?

 

Conclusion

Who Should Alvarez Fight

MayweatherCottoMartinezSomeone else, it’s too soon for that jumpSubmit Votevote to see results

Who Should Alvarez Fight

  • Mayweather

    24.9%
  • Cotto

    32.7%
  • Martinez

    32.7%
  • Someone else, it’s too soon for that jump

    9.6%

Total votes: 1,399

Any one of these fights would be considered a test to Alvarez, who, in spite of holding a title and being an undefeated fighter with over 40 bouts, has yet to face competition of this level. Kintron and Mosley were shadows of their former selves. Rhodes, N’Dou and Baldomir are not even close to the level of competition of the three names on his wish list.

 

 

Each fighter brings a different threat to Alvarez.

While both Mayweather and Martinez would bring great hand speed to negotiate, Mayweather also has a defense that many have tried to get through and few have succeeded. With Alvarez’s action-packed style, Mayweather could simply sit back and deflect blows before landing perfectly placed counters that will slow Canelo round by round.

Mayweather would also take advantage of the stiff upper body Alvarez often fights with.

With his constant pressure, Alvarez is a pretty static fighter with little lateral movement and almost no body movement. He provides a constant target to a fighter like Mayweather. Mayweather doesn’t even have to be half as accurate as normal to hit what’s always going to be right in front of him.

 

For me, a matchup with Mayweather right now is just a bad idea all around for Alvarez.

Mayweather will handle him with ease and Alvarez will be slated as overrated by everybody when the praise should really go to Mayweather’s excellence, but that’s another story all together.

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Like Mayweather, Martinez will exploit the lack of movement Alvarez presents.

Unlike Mayweather, Martinez will also be there to hit. Martinez’s defense is simply nowhere close to Mayweather’s, and he gets caught by a lot of punches a man with his speed and athleticism should be able to avoid.

 

If Canelo can avoid Martinez’s blows, or even keep so much pressure on Martinez that he cannot get any offense going, Canelo has a chance to knock Martinez out. Chavez almost managed it. Canelo has dedication to the craft and could follow through to the finish.

Cotto is not the fighter he once was, and I mean that in a good way.

The Cotto of old was predictable. He was going to lower his head and bull through you. He swung to the body with fury and then worked the head. Today, Cotto still pressures when the timing is right but has learned to sit behind his boxing and wait for the openings to present themselves.

 

This calmness and calculated attack that Cotto has added into his game makes him a dangerous opponent for Canelo, who reminds me at times of the young Cotto. Canelo can get ragged at times as he looks to apply more pressure, and this could be his undoing against somebody like Cotto, who is now content to sit and wait.

I think the most sensible fight for Canelo at this point in his career is Sergio Martinez.

Martinez will be coming back from a knee and hand injury, which could take the edge off his speed and a little snap from his punches. He is also fairly easy to hit and has been decked several times in his career, although he recovers quickly from knockdowns and takes the fight to his opponent as he recovers.

Against the other two, I see defeats for Canelo that would be damaging to his reputation.

Against Martinez, however, I think he has a better than even chance of winning. Even if he loses, it will be passed off as Martinez once again being underrated rather than Canelo being overrated.

My choice is Martinez vs. Alvarez.

My prediction is a ninth-round knockout victory for Alvarez.