You would think that it would be enough for one Thanksgiving weekend to have two Fight of the Year candidates and two bouts related to Showtime's Super Six tournament, but you would be wrong. There are some other pound-for-poundish fighters in action over the next few days, and at least one of them is in a competitiveish bout:
It used to be Michael Katsidis was loved by everyone for his pure, undistilled violence. He still is, but he's taken that excitement and sophisticated it up a little. The brawls with Graham Earl, Czar Amonsot and Joel Casamayor have been replaced with... well, they're still brawls because Katsidis is involved, but his last fight with Kevin Mitchell was something subtler, featuring Katsidis counterpunching and even defending himself on occasion. His eloquent remarks about the death of his brother last month only added to the sophistication of the Aussie.
Now, Saturday on HBO, these two are meeting in the middle literally as well as stylistically, when they walk to the center of the ring for the second of two Saturday bouts that could be the Fight of the Year. These are the two best lightweights in the world, as Katsidis is ranked #1 by Ring magazine. Marquez also boasts pound-for-pound top-5 credentials. And they're two of the best action stars over the past five years or so. (We'll preview the HBO undercard later.)
(Arthur Abraham, left, and Carl Froch, right, stare at each other; credit: Tom Casino, Showtime)
This was the one you circled on your calendar when you got a glimpse of the Super Six tournament schedule: Carl Froch vs. Arthur Abraham. With the re-schedulings and relocations -- it's now in Helsinki on Saturday -- maybe you had to scratch it out a couple times, but no matter where and when it landed, you knew it would be something you had to see. These are two super middleweights who make for exciting fights, and there's no reason to believe they won't make another one, together. It's one of two Fight of the Year candidates on the Saturday slate, with the other, the lightweight clash between Juan Manuel Marquez and Michael Katsidis, the subject for another day in this space.
The supporting bout, pitting super middleweight Andre Ward against Sakio Bika, is more of a puzzler. It's a legitimate bout between two hard-nosed, top-10 super middleweights, one of whom -- Ward -- is on some pound-for-pound top 10 lists, so he represents the best of the Super Six in another fashion. But for some reason, even though Ward is the current Super Six points leader, this one isn't part of the Super Six. Showtime has never explained why; I've asked, but not gotten a satisfactory answer, and if anyone else has asked and gotten one, they haven't shared it. But as I said, it's a legit bout. Given both men's reputations for rough tactics, it offers a real chance to see a rare double-head butt knockout, so it's worth watching for that alone.
Recognition eludes them. Physical ailments destroy their former godlike physiques. Some experience slurred speech, which could be a harbinger of further ramifications of brain damage down the road. And sadly, most end up broke with no skills, no friends, nobody willing to support them.
For a few years, a potential welterweight megafight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao has been talked about incessantly by not only boxing fans, but the public too, something that is increasingly rare in the sport. Mayweather has taken a lot of criticism for seemingly avoiding Pacquiao, but Mayweather supporters and even "haters" should be more concerned with something far more serious than a sporting event: The man is throwing his life away.no comments
One point one five million is also a lot fewer pay-per-views than Top Rank was expecting for its show. In that regard, as has been the case with both Pacquiao fights this year, the number, while huge, is also a mild disappointment. And painful though it might be for some to hear, I suspect it is another data point that suggests although Pacquiao is the people's champ, Floyd Mayweather, his nearest rival in both stardom and pound-for-pond rankings, is still the bigger attraction in the United States.
There's no good science to any of this, and there are more variables at stake than you can shake a stick at, so examining pay-per-view numbers is more art than anything else, more speculation than reality.
We begin, as is sometimes the case for Update #1, with a tie for first place, this one between Team Skullduggery aka PJ, Pretty Toney, Not Sure aka Jay Ari Yin and Bundy Bears aka ALEXMAC. But there's a virtual tie that goes 10 more deep, because 14 people picked the correct winner of both Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito and Sergio Martinez-Paul Williams II.
Picking the winner of Pacquiao-Margarito -- that was a snap. Eight, though, saw a unanimous decision for Pacquiao, good for a 100 point accuracy bonus. Only four people picked Margarito at all. Martinez-Williams II wasn't so easy. Fourteen people went with Martinez, 15 with Williams. Of those people who went with Martinez, four correctly called a knockout, and two -- Bundy Bears and Not Sure -- got the closest to the precise round of said KO, albeit six rounds later than the actual 2nd round flattening.
For that reason, Bundy Bears and Not Sure get the "most impressive call of the weekend" award. (Nobody got any upset points because the odds were precisely even at the time I wrote the entry.) Least impressive call of the weekend? Baron, partly out of loyalty to Margarito and partly because Martinez-Williams II was a coin flip, ended up the only person to predict both fights incorrectly. We still love you, Baron.
Strict enforcement of the rules robbed people of some points (I'm practically a dominatrix on late entries), as did some folk predicting for one fight and not another (some of whom were clearly one-time predictors, but I leave them up because it'll make us all feel better later when we're morose over not being in 1st place). But never fear, scofflaws! The finishing stretch is loaded up with any number of pick 'em fights with upset potential. You can recover.
Next up in 5.0 eligibility, for instance, are three fights this weekend that we'll preview throughout the week: Juan Manuel Marquez-Michael Katsidis, Arthur Abraham-Carl Froch and Andre Ward-Sakio Bika. Have your predictions ready by 11:59 p.m. Friday to insert in the appropriate preview and prediction blog posts; the last thing I'd want to do is disqualify your picks because you caught a tryptophan coma and failed to predict in time.
For no good reason other than that it's nearing the season, here's an advertisement of Santa Claus smoking a cigarette (h/t EB).
Now, to your standings. As always, please notify me of any tabulation errors and we can adjudicate:
Why hasn't HBO posted its video highlights of Sergio Martinez-Paul Williams II yet on YouTube? After all, it's not like the thing hasn't gotten incredible exposure already. It was on SportsCenter Saturday night. Today, it made #6 on SportsCenter's list of top 10 plays of the weekend. They showed it on Around the Horn and debated it on PTI. So until HBO wises up and gets digital on this one -- knockout videos can go "viral," you know, HBO -- I post the above pirated footage. Anyway, it's tremendous exposure for the sport, this knockout. You don't see non pay-per-view fights get this kind of attention. There's the magic formula, boxers dying for mainstream exposure: Land one of the best punches that anyone can land. No problem. Get to it.
Understandably, Martinez-Williams II is the focus of this edition of Weekend Afterthoughts. It was a momentous fight, to say the least, with events shocking, controversial (I apparently overestimated the capacity of boxing fans/writers to just enjoy a damn good fight), and pregnant with implications.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- For someone who just got knocked out as frighteningly as one can get knocked out, Paul Williams didn't sound like his spirit was broken. "We 1-1. Let's do it again," he said of his conqueror, middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, at the news conference after the fight Saturday.
Meanwhile, Martinez' team celebrated their victory -- promoter Lou DiBella called it one of the best two nights of his boxing life and said he was going to "go out and get messed up" -- and broke down how they believed, no kidding, that Martinez would score a 2nd round knockout no one saw coming that way.
That, and other choice observations, from the news conference:
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- One perfect left hand. It's the kind you recognize when you see it, if you've seen anything like it before -- the kind of punch from which the man on the other end of it won't get up, not this time. It's the kind that middleweight champion Sergio Martinez connected on against Paul Williams in the second round of their rematch of what some saw as the 2009 Fight of the Year.
And with that one godlike blow, Sergio Martinez sealed the almost-certain Knockout of the Year and cemented his place as Fighter of the Year.
Martinez just knocked out a consensus top-5 pound-for-pound fighter spectacularly, and earlier this year, took the middleweight championship from Kelly Pavlik with a thorough beat down. Martinez was hanging around the neighborhood that night; Saturday night in Atlantic City, he arrived.
The 1st round looked to be Williams'. He landed the more plentiful shots, and handled the left hand counters coming back. But in the 2nd round, early, he leaned in and there was no way he'd get up from that counter left. It would take a while before he was revived.
What can you say? If ever there was an "oh sh*t" moment in boxing, this was it. This was an even-money fight where one guy made a statement, and with lots of exclamation points afterward: Martinez looks like the man who could be the pound-for-pound king the moment Manny Pacquiao retires or stumbles.