As befits the latest installment of ESPN’s acclaimed 30 For 30 series, or any boxing documentary if you’re really feeling facetious, "No Mas," (debuting Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET) is anachronistic from the get go. From the opening shots of Ray Leonard’s ageless torso as he pounds the heavy bag in his home gym, to the eventual face off between the two protagonists at the Arena Roberto Duran, all flaking paint and drooping signage as it looms over Panama City, the show reeks of a sterile, festering hostility.
Inside the opening three minutes, Leonard, with that same angelic face that still defiantly belies his years, announces his plan to visit the homeland of his one-time nemesis, Roberto Duran, the man with the hands of stone. The purpose of the trip is simple: to determine what took place when the pair met in the ring 33 years ago, in a fight that has gone down in history due to the immortal words uttered by Duran as he turned his back on the contest in the eighth round. “No mas.” Literally, “no more.”
Focusing on the first two meetings between the pair, the show begins with The Brawl in Montreal, the June 1980 bout that marked Duran’s move up to welterweight and the sternest test of Leonard’s career to date. Duran beat Leonard over 15 bombastic rounds that night, hurting his opponent in a way no one else had come close to doing, and earning the decision at the sight of the American’s gold medal winning Olympic effort some four years earlier. This was truly the best of both men, and despite all the subsequent controversy of the rematch it still serves largely to define them in the eyes of the fighting world.no comments
In a high-level game of chess Saturday night on HBO pay-per-view, what could have been a stalemate ended up a closely-earned checkmate for Timothy Bradley against Juan Manuel Marquez. Measured purely by official outcomes, Bradley's win over Manny Pacquiao was to this point the best of his career, enveloped though it was in disbelief from those who scored it to the contrary. But as close as this fight was, there was nothing dubious about Bradley getting his hand raised. This is the best win of his career, in reality. That hunger for greatness that rumbles in his belly unlike few other fighters? It just got sated with a pretty big meal of steak and potatoes.
Bradley was sharp and disciplined for most of the fight, exactly what he needed after a grueling battle against Ruslan Provodnikov and with Marquez coming off a nasty knockout of Pacquiao. Marquez, at 40, didn't resemble the same beast who had physically transformed into a power-packed welterweight -- his work rate wasn't up to snuff and Bradley withstood his shots. Bradley's discipline played a role in that. After Marquez won the 1st, Bradley took over a great many of the ensuing rounds with his lateral movement, defense, jab and the occasional flurry, with his body shots placed especially well. Marquez couldn't hit him cleanly but once or twice a round until the 8th.
That's when I saw momentum shift. Marquez turned up the heat a bit more, even though his trainer Nacho Beristain was, as usual, leading him astray by telling him he was winning the fight, and Marquez began to land more as a result. From the 8th to nearly the end of the 12th, Marquez had Bradley on the run, timing him and finding the range with hard shots, usually his long right. Bradley never seemed shook -- in the 10th, if anyone was shook, it was Marquez during an exchange -- but Marquez was back in the game. Fatefully on my scorecard, Marquez's control of the 12th transferred over to Bradley in the final seconds with a counter left that sent him stumbling backward and nearly down. I scored it a draw.
The wobble didn't end up deciding the fight with the judges: they had it 115-113 Marquez, 115-113 Bradley and 116-112 Bradley, with the 12th round going in various directions or the other on each card but none in a way that tipped it.
These were two intelligent, brave prizefighters in the ring Saturday, both emphasizing intelligence over bravery for the evening in a fight that could've gone either way but that more scored for Bradley. His athleticism made a big difference against the aged Marquez, whose physique didn't match his birthday. There will of course be questions about whether the advanced Nevada State Athletic Commission drug testing forced Marquez off whatever pharmaceuticals he'd taken to swell into a monstrous welterweight. They are not bad questions. But there also are some other factors at play here. Marquez never caught Bradley with the kind of perfect shot he caught Pacquiao with. And Marquez Saturday faced a younger fighter who, for all the damage he took against Provodnikov, appeared closer to the middle of his career than a Pacquiao who appeared closer to the end prior to his fourth and decisive meeting with Marquez. I don't think we can say Marquez is very badly faded, either, but maybe his age is catching up to him. It's too hard to answer definitively with just one explanation or another.
What we do know is that Bradley doesn't do to Marquez what he did if he isn't one of the best in the world. In a post-fight interview, Bradley told HBO's Max Kellerman that there's Floyd Mayweather, there's Andre Ward and there's Timothy Bradley. I'm inclined to agree. Next, it might be "Fighter of the Year" laurels or at least an honorable mention (big win over a top-3 pound-for-pound fighter, a frontrunner for Fight of the Year against Provodnikov) and a chance to rematch Pacquiao and turn that tarnished trophy into a bright, shiny one.no comments
(Vasyl Lomachenko, above, Jose Ramirez, below; credit: Chris Farina, Top Rank)
These are the results for the three main undercard fights to support the main event of Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley on HBO pay-per-view:no comments
In June 2012, at the conclusion of Timothy Bradley-Manny Pacquiao, I paced swiftly up and down press row asking anyone in view how they had scored the fight. At the time, I could find only one person who had scored the fight for Bradley. As I walked through the doors of the MGM Grand’s media center, and into the post-fight press conference, Top Rank chief Bob Arum was already at the podium. “Where’s the commission?” he screamed in frenzy.
Sixteen months later, Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Bradley on HBO pay-per-view is being sold as, "The two men that beat Manny Pacquiao." I asked Arum Friday about the wrath he showed minutes after the Bradley-Pacquiao decision, and why he may feel different now.
“Well, the truth is they both have official decisions over Pacquiao, that is true," he said. "Do I think that the judge’s decision, which is the official decision in the Pacquaio fight, was correct? Obviously not. That woman [C.J. Ross], who called the [Floyd] Mayweather-Canelo [Alvarez fight] a draw, she proved her incompetence.”
The most intriguing facet of Saturday’s main event at the Thomas and Mack Center is most boxing enthusiasts cannot give you a definitive answer on who will come out victorious. Arum provided his opinion about what he'd do if he had to put his own money on Saturday night’s fight.
“I don’t know who’s going to win, but if I had to bet the fight, I would bet Marquez," Arum said. "He has one advantage over Bradley, and virtually any other fighter that he fights: He can switch styles in the middle of a round. So if he goes out and he tries something with Bradley and it’s not working and he gets hit, he knows how to switch right away.
"With other fighters it takes time, so his ability to switch on the fly, and with his great corner Nacho Beristain, it gives him the advantage," Arum continued. "Forget the age, forget that Bradley has better hand speed, that to me, and people haven’t talked about it, is the defining difference between them. That carried him through the Pacquaio fights.”
Right now, the Top Rank/HBO and Golden Boy/Showtime feud is somewhat in the backdrop. Both promotional companies have provided high profile, high quality fights in 2013, but that cannot go on infinitely. I asked Arum what he has in mind next for the winner of tomorrow night’s fight.
“You have to look at the road, [Brandon] Rios-[Manny] Pacquaio, who knows who wins that," Arum said. "You have [Ruslan] Provodnikov-[Mike] Alvarado, a very interesting fight. Marquez-[Miguel] Cotto, how about that? A Mexican and a Puerto Rican fight at 150 pounds. I have a lot of options.”no comments
Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Timothy Bradley Saturday on HBO pay-per-view is a match-up spilling over with danger beyond recompense, and danger of the drool-worthy and bitter variety alike. If only we could mandate by law that boxers have chips on their shoulders of the boulder size Marquez and Bradley do, where more money is on the table for other match-ups -- named Manny Pacquiao, mainly -- but each of them want to move on to new conquests instead. This is the rare kind of fight where the lower reward comes with non-commisurate risk, and both men said, "Sign me up for that." Because of the lack of commercial name appeal outside of Marquez's Mexican fan base, we get a bout that ends up being underrated, somehow, as if two of the 10 best boxers alive have any business being in a battle that could be less than the sum of its parts. (Even the undercard, so-so in terms of the match-ups, has at times overshadowed the main event, since the first openly gay [male] boxer, Orlando Cruz, is fighting in one of the supporting bouts.)
But there is a difference of the kind of danger offered by ending up in bed with a woman with a few skull tattoos and the kind posed by playing poker with the Russian mafia. Perhaps it's the unsavory elements that help undersell this clash of top welterweights and top overall fighters. Bradley, thanks to his bravado in his last fight against Ruslan Provodnikov, said he spent some months afterward slurring his words. His honesty on this count is commendable in a Kantian way, peculiar in a marketing way. Doesn't Bradley's vulnerability make this fight less desirable for those who have any moral compunctions about the health effects of the sport? And doesn't it diminish his chances of winning to advertise it? Likewise, the secondary element of Marquez's ingestion habits factors into the potential for the wrong kind of danger. That the Nevada State Athletic Commission is doing more advanced drug testing helps on that count, but we also don't know the full extent of that testing by design, and won't until after the bout. It's a miscalculation by the NSAC, by my estimation, given the cloud hanging over Marquez due to his association with admitted past performance-enhancing drug dealer Memo Heredia and due to his physical transformation since acquiring Heredia's services. Maybe we learn after that the testing regime was as thorough as promised, but for now it's a lingering question that doesn't help with the buying public.
This fight is crazy, basically. Bradley aches so much for glory that he traded punches like an idiot with Provodnikov just to prove a point. Marquez is so maniacally focused on winning that he used to drink his own urine when he believed it could help him obtain victory. But as little sense as it makes for it to be happening on so many levels -- a pay-per-view sandwiched between two bigger pay-per-views is far from a sure thing for HBO and Top Rank -- it feels so right. At least, when it's not feeling so wrong.no comments
You seen that one before? Maybe even in this space? Memory does not serve. It's from "Dancers Among Us," a series of photographs by Jordan Matter, recently the subject of a sequel, "Athletes Among Us." Both are beautiful. No word on whether there's a boxer in the "Athletes Among Us," but I'm guessing not, because it would require a boxer socking some 6-year-old in a laundromat, and that just wouldn't fly.
Boxers are, as always, lined up to get into the boxing ring with one another. Besides the fights in the works or not in the works for the men in the headline, this round-up includes what's happening for Canelo Alvarez, Tyson Fury, Devon Alexander, Sergey Kovalev and others.no comments
What happens when you get six boxing writers together to talk about Tim Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday on HBO pay-per-view? An outpouring of man love for “Dinamita,” pretty much pretty much (though not from Andrew Harrison, who has some questions about the source of the 40-year-old Mexican’s youthful vitality). We’ve convened our metaphorical roundtable to discuss one of the best fights on the calendar, and none of us fancy poor old Tim Bradley’s chances (not even Andrew). Agree? Disagree? You’re invited to pull up a chair and join in in the comments.no comments
"Boxing doesn't owe us; we owe it."
“Boxing is tainted,” said Floyd Mayweather a few weeks ago. “There are too many belts, too many champions.”
Anyone at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on September 14th would have noticed an Elvis-worthy display case featuring Mayweather’s robes, gloves, and boots from past bouts. Several acronym-emblazoned “championship” belts were also featured. In a moment of clarity, the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet waved them off— “I think we should have one belt and that’s it.”
“It’s so crazy how I beat Miguel Cotto for the WBA Junior middleweight championship, right?” Mayweather said. “So how did Austin Trout beat Cotto for the WBA Championship and how is Canelo the WBA Champ?”
The WBA is the same cockeyed governing body that stripped Muhammad Ali when he gave Sonny Liston a rematch in 1965, prompting a laugh from sports writer Jimmy Cannon: “One word from them and the fight mob does as it pleases.” In 1970, they ranked Joe Frazier #7 after he refused to participate in a tournament they were sponsoring. He was at his peak. In the eighties, bribes and pay-offs for higher rankings came to light. Today, despite the fact that there are only seventeen weight divisions, they identify thirty-five champions with an assortment of belts and vivid imaginations.
The WBA is one among many sanctioning bodies flourishing in an unregulated era where anyone and everything is up for grabs. Their trick titles are unwittingly propped up by fighters and puffed up by network executives operating under misguided assumptions about what fans really want.
What do fans really want? It begins with the truth.
The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board was formed one year ago October 11th on behalf of every fan, fighter, writer, and media figure fed up with fifty years of confusion and corruption. Our mandate springs from the best efforts of the past to “provide boxing with authoritative top-ten rankings, identify the singular world champion of every division based on strict reasoning and common sense, and to insist on the sport’s reform.”
What began with twenty-five boxing writers and record keepers representing twelve countries between the Americas and Australia has since increased to thirty-five representing fifteen countries now including Japan, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
What began as monthly rankings was soon switched to weekly rankings published online every Tuesday (www.tbrb.org). Boxing historians in the membership pointed out that the tradition of “official monthly rankings” stretches back to 1928 and is worth preserving; these now appear in the “archives” section of the “Rankings” tab. We have also added a “Pound-for-Pound List” and a “Successions” tab presenting an abbreviated history behind each divisional throne. A Spanish-language version of the charter recently appeared on the home page of the website and there are plans to establish multi-lingual versions of the website.no comments
Some fighters are made to work harder for belts than others -- both in the gym and in terms of political maneuvering. And actual records simply didn't mean as much in eras past, though the term "undefeated" has always shined a bit brighter than anything else in that regard. Still, two once-defeated men fighting for a strap wouldn't lead to any over-batted eyelashes even in today's sport. On April 23, 1988, Simon Brown sported a record of 24-1 (18 KO), while Tyrone Trice was 28-1 (23 KO). And this may come as a shock, but there was funky stuff going on in boxing all the way back in 1988, too.
In October of 1987, Lloyd Honeyghan lost control of the IBF welterweight belt when he lost his WBC belt to Jorge Vaca in eight rounds on a cut, despite being only the second ever IBF welterweight titlist. Per WBC rules, Honeyghan was deducted a point for the accidental headbutt that caused the cut, which swung the close decision Vaca's way. The situation with the IBF wasn't immediately clear, however, as numerous publications stated that Vaca had also won the IBF belt, while others remained mum, only mentioning the WBC transfer. But a few days later, it was confirmed that the IBF strap had been declared vacant, as Vaca vs. Honeyghan was a 12 round title bout, and the fight was in London, where the British Boxing Board of Control didn't allow 15 round championship fights, and the IBF didn't allow 12 round championship fights. Chicken vs. egg vs. chicken vs. egg...no comments