It's exactly what it sounds like.
It's not Gus Johnson calling a boxing match, but the above video (NSFW?) does ring familiar for those of us accustomed to listening to him on Showtime.
In these Quick Jabs, we take the subjects in the headline and mix it up with some other tidbits and some fights in the works (Peterson brothers! Showtime and ESPN2 coups! Some suckiness!) and out comes a hearty stew of... um... fists? That metaphor got away from me. I'll be more discplined going forward, promise.
Alfred A. Knopf, December 2009
The time is right for a new look at the life of Sugar Ray Robinson, the signature fighter of boxing's golden era. Robinson, born Walker Smith, Jr. in Detroit in 1921, was by consensus the greatest boxer that ever lived. He was also a man conscious of his place in the world and determined to expand the idea of what a black athlete could be in postwar America. Wil Haygood, the author of acclaimed biographies of Sammy Davis, Jr. and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., knows the shades and tones of Robinson's world, and with Sweet Thunder he seeks to give us the man in full: athlete, entertainer, hip Negro, clothes horse, and political conscience. Unfortunately, while Haygood artfully situates Robinson within his place and time, the man himself ultimately remains something of an enigma. The result is a book that succeeds in many ways but feels oddly hollow at its center.
It's right about the anniversary of the Open Thread, since we missed a month or two when Open Thread love dipped to nearly none. Lately, the love has been back. So: Happy birthday, Open Thread.
We'll do this year what we did in the first, because a lot has changed in the world since then.
Tell me: Who are you? If you wanna keep your name all private, that's cool -- I just want to know more about who's out there and what they do when they're not coming around here. Job? Age? Town? Favorite boxer? Other interests besides watching people punch each other? Whatever else you think we need to know?
After this month's [censored] music pick -- GO. Go go go! And then, when you're done making acquaintance, start talking about whatever the heck is on your mind. (Although maybe for comity's sake, we should avoid Andre Dirrell-Arthur Abraham.)
(David Haye, via The Daily Mail)
It's hard to believe we're coming into David Haye-John Ruiz Saturday and the ultra-aggressive Haye is the one who drew criticism after his last fight for being too ugly and passive, while the famously huggy Ruiz in his last fight bucked his reputation as a grind-it-out mauler. But both heavyweights may benefit against one another by developing those dimensions outside the usual.
The British Haye has been the heavyweight most Americans dream of, a charismatic, attractive power-puncher with speed and a go-for-broke style. Ruiz has been the American heavyweight most boxing fans prefer to forget. Reputations are funny things. A little change in style for Haye against Nicolay Valuev and for Ruiz against Adnan Serin has changed perceptions of both men in some quarters. It might be circumstantial, though. Haye hurt his right hand badly early against Valuev, and even before then it looked like he was trying on a more stick-and-move style for size, so this may have been more about adding a wrinkle while enduring an injury than it was a lackluster outing. Ruiz got himself a new trainer, Miguel Diaz, that Ruiz said has brought a friendlier boxer-puncher style, but Serin was a stay-busy opponent who didn't pose a risk.
Whatever the reason, that contrast -- along with the usual cliffhanger routine of whether Haye's power or his shaky chin will carry the day -- gives spice to a fight that hardly anyone wanted, other than the sanctioning organization that mandated Haye defend his belt against Ruiz.
Over the weekend, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam beat Koki Kameda to claim the lineal Ring magazine championship of the world. It put him in rare company. In boxing's 17 divisions, there are currently but five lineal champs -- that is, the man in each division who beat the man who beat the man all the way back to the dawn of the division when one man was considered the champion. Beltholders -- via the IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO and countless others -- are so numerous that at times it feels like boxers are sent title straps mail order diploma mill-style, all for the cost of some sanctioning fees and subjecting themselves to the whims of those organizations. It's harder to be the lineal champion, since there's only one per division, which, after all, is what champion means... first place.
But should it be so hard? If boxing fans, promoters, writers and even boxers themselves put less value on winning an alphabet gang belt, and put more instead on winning the true lineal championship of the division, I bet you'd see fewer vacancies. If a boxer wanted to be recognized as the champion in a division where there's a vacancy by Ring's rules, he'd have to climb the rankings to #1 or #2 (or, in special circumstances, #3) and fight the other person ranked #1 or #2. And it's in boxing fans' interest to want to see that happen.
That brings me to the point of this exercise: What's the lineal championship picture right now; what kind of quality fights would boxing fans get if more boxers put an emphasis on filling championship vacancies; and what are the prospects for change?
This is what it looked like last year. This is what it looks like now.
Man, last fall when the talks got serious, I was this close to thinking Roy Jones Jr.-Bernard Hopkins II this Saturday on pay-per-view stood a chance of being worthwhile, even if it was a decade late and Jones was well past his best days. Jones wasn't as vital a force as Hopkins remained, but this faded version of Jones still presented the qualities that have given Hopkins serious trouble in recent years, namely speed and athleticism. And while the first fight was a boring pose-fest between two cautious boxers, there was a chance the sequel could be more action-packed because of the slower legs of two 40-somethings, the accumulated years of sincere hatred and the monetary bonus written into the contract for the man who scores a knockout. Plus, there was all that pent-up public demand for a do-over between two of the best fighters of their generation.
Then came December, when Jones shockingly got knocked out in one round by Danny Green, a good boxer who's nonetheless not on Hopkins' level. That should have been the end of Jones-Hopkins II, but realizing it might still be worth some good cash, all the sides went into spin mode. Jones bizarrely alleged cheating by Green; Hopkins complained that the ref stopped the fight too early; etc. I suppose all of it could be true, and I suppose the dynamic that originally half-enticed me still exists. But it all seems so unlikely.
We'll be doing full previews of both Roy Jones-Bernard Hopkins II and David Haye-John Ruiz, but because the boxing schedule gets started early this week with a fight featuring David Tua (pictured above in a pimped-out mini; h/t to friend of the site PJ), we'll hit everything but Jones-Hopkins II and Haye-Ruiz now.
The conclusion to Andre Dirrell-Arthur Abraham this weekend has been picked apart like the Zapruder film here and elsewhere, but I think there's yet more to say on the subject. I engaged in a little mental argument ad hominem in not engaging deeply before, since a lot of the chatter was coming from people who either clearly were Abraham fans, or Dirrell detractors, or the type of people who say nasty things about everyone in boxing forums. But subsequently, people who are smart and whose views I respect have argued seriously that Dirrell must have been acting, so I think it warrants a more in-depth response. That, and other thoughts from the big weekend that was: