So continues our marathon coverage of one of the biggest fights of 2013, Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios on HBO pay-per-view on Nov. 23. Previously: a special edition of TQBR Radio; what's at stake. Next: keys to the fight.
As you read this, I’m on my way to China to cover Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios (and hopefully do a bit of accidental Chinese hipster spotting). As always, we have a ridiculous amount of content for one of the year’s biggest fights, which I fully recommend you check out as the week progresses. Today I’m taking a look at the undercard (such as it is) as well as the week’s other boxing events (in case too much boxing is never enough).no comments
Boxing isn't just a sport of punching; it's also a sport of kicking, sometimes, or mocking people's diseases, or calling someone a "fucking Mexican." The camp scuffle Tuesday between Manny Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach, Brandon Rios trainer Robert Garcia, Rios strength and conditioning coach (and ex-Pacquiao strength and conditioning coach) Alex Ariza, as well as various other camp members, is the kind of soap opera that gets fight fans all in a tizzy. As such, there's about a 35 percent chance the whole thing was staged to sell Pacquiao-Rios Saturday on HBO pay-per-view, available now for the low, low price of...
Freddie Roach: Roach kinda initiates the whole thing with his ultra-angry demands that the Rios camp exit the hotel gym. I don't care whose time it was or wasn't, although the story seems to be that Roach wanted to get started at 11 as he expected to and the Rios camp was asked to do a few interviews in exchange for a few extra minutes beyond their alloted time. All I see is Roach calling Garcia a "piece of shit" with almost no provocation. Then, when someone (apparently Ariza) shouts at him to leave, Roach takes another escalating step with his "Make me!" talk. Everyone from the 1st grade to grown-ups in hick bars knows that's an invitation to fisticuffs. Then, when a voice that sounds like Ariza mocks Roach's Parkinson's, Roach takes some confrontational steps toward Ariza. After the two sides are separated, Roach exchanges words with some random Mexican-looking fellow I don't know, and refers to him as a "Mexican motherfucker." It is alleged that he referred to videographer Elie Seckbach as a "fucking Jew," but there is no video evidence that has yet surfaced. [UPDATE: Actually, yes some has. Approximately 2:50, h/t @smmhussain, and Edwin in the comments section.] All in all, Roach is most to blame for putting people in a position for things to get physical. SCORE:
8/10 [UPDATED SCORE 9/10, FOR USING "FUCK" IN REFERENCE TO MORE THAN ONE ETHNIC GROUP]
Alex Ariza: You might know Ariza from such classics as "chasing writer Gabe Montoya around the parking lot of the Wild Card Gym but nobody punching each other" (allegedly), but here Ariza is the party that made the most solid physical contact. Ariza struck first and last, kicking Roach, apparently in his chest. CompuKick determined Ariza had a a perfect 1/1 connect ratio. His taunting of Roach both triggered Roach's "Why don't you make me" quotes and, once Ariza mocked Roach's disease, triggered Roach's confrontational steps. But Ariza didn't end there! He's got that ambition, baby, look in his eyes. Besides taunting a guy for having Parkinson's, and kicking a guy who has Parkinson's, he called Roach a "faggot" and wouldn't stop with the faux-stuttering. [UPDATED: Ariza has reportedly told writers that he was calling someone else a faggot, not Roach. h/t @realspitts @axmcc] Roach might have been the one most to blame for the escalation, but Ariza was the one who most rolled around in the ugliness of it all. SCORE: 10/10 [NO UPDATE TO SCORE; CALLING ANYONE A FAGGOT IS PRETTY AGGRESSIVE, ESPECIALLY SOMEONE YOU JUST KICKED, BUT IF HE WAS TARGETING SOMEONE ELSE WITH THE REMARK THAT MEANS HE WAS KIND OF MACHINE-GUNNING WITH HIS AGGRESSION, WHICH IS JUST AS AGGRESSIVE IN A DIFFERENT WAY]
Garcia: Who's this guy think he is, Gandhi? Or just someone with class? I scoff. Garcia apparently did nothing wrong other than stand his ground. Maybe he shouldn't have. It is also alleged by Roach that Garcia told him to "go fuck yourself," although there is no video evidence of this to date. Then, as Roach was backed away by security and his team, Garcia protested Roach's disrespect and continued to inform Roach that he had always respected him. What a piece of shit, amirite? SCORE: 1/10
"Mexican Motherfucker": I don't know the guy's name. I do know he didn't like to be called a "Mexican motherfucker" by Roach, so I just want to apologize to him for using that nom de guerre. It's in quotes! Upon being called a "Mexican motherfucker," "Mexican motherfucker" was very eager to inflict physical harm on Roach, but was capably held back by security. SCORE: 6/10
Elie Seckbach: Perhaps motivated by his allegiance to Team Garcia, or perhaps because he really was called a "fucking Jew," Seckbach took up his mighty camera and dropped some heavy verbal fire on Roach as he left the room, destroying him with such gems as "don't let the door hit you on the way out!" Somewhere in America, little Jimmy McClain, age 6, is using his underarm to make farting noises in applause. SCORE: 4/10
TQBR reserves the right to change these scores based on additional videgraphical evidence (and already has once). Perhaps some will surface in Thursday's finale of 24/7 Pacquiao/Rios, debuting at 10 p.m. ET, with re-airings at...no comments
So continues our marathon coverage of one of the biggest fights of 2013, Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios on HBO pay-per-view on Nov. 23. Previously: a special edition of TQBR Radio. Next: the undercard, previewed.
A creeping sense that Manny Pacquiao's time as one of the world's best prizefighters was coming to an end slowly began invading boxing enthusiasts' perceptions in 2010 -- but the moment when any number of people fully believed it arrived hit like the misbegotten child of a thunderclap and an atom bomb. There have been few more shocking boxing scenes in the new century, maybe none more shocking, than the one that played out the last time we saw Pacquiao in the ring on Dec. 8, 2012 at MGM Grand. In the moments following his defeat, the foremost thought in the minds of Pacquiao's family and many others wasn't whether his career was over; it was whether his life was over. Knockout punches like the one longtime Pacquiao rival Juan Manuel Marquez delivered -- so definitive, so unexpected, so shattering of the sport's landscape -- are equally awe-inspiring and frightening. Fighters have recovered from knockouts like that before. Others never do.
Pacquiao's return to the ring this Saturday would have been greeted with trepidation under any circumstances, but it also comes mere weeks after Frankie Leal died from his ring injuries and Magomed Abdusalamov was placed into a medically-induced coma. Throw in Pacquiao's choice of opponent -- hard-hitting, rugged Brandon Rios, whose in-ring style has inspired its own set of worries about how long he can last in boxing and what will come of his brain once he retires -- and we end up with a fight where If Pacquiao is done on the elite level, Rios is exactly the worst kind of opponent for him to face, and Pacquiao-Rios has a grim spectre hanging over it because of that.
If, however, Pacquiao is right physically, and Rios can adjust to the welterweight division in his 147-pound debut, we could end up with exactly the best kind of opponent for Pacquiao to rebound in spectacular fashion. Rios has only been in one even so-so fight, and that took his opponent, Richard Abril, going out of his way to make it ugly. The man they call "Bam Bam" lives up to his nickname: Hit, and then hit again. He is all offense, no defense, the kind of boxer who thrills the crowd every time out -- and that type is the type that has made Pacquiao look his best, because he struggles with clever counterpunchers like Marquez who don't initiate. And when Pacquiao hits someone who's available for the displeasure with any frequency, he is sensational. Even a diminished Pacquiao could resemble his old self against a man like Rios.
So that's all that's at stake: the career of one of the sport's biggest attractions and best fighters of this era. One route reestablishes him, at least somewhat; another route leaves him in a lackluster limbo; and another route passes the torch, although perhaps with some surrounding darkness.no comments
(Manny Pacquiao, left, and Brandon Rios, probably mere moments from playing a game of Rochambeau to see who has to hold the antenna in order to listen to TQBR Radio in remote regions of China; photo credit: Chris Farina/Top Rank)
From this weekend’s Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios bout forward -- or at least to the end of the calendar year, almost -- us boxing fans will be like helpless hoopties being conveyor-belted through carwash after carwash of pugilistic goodness, slowly purified by the thousands of punches. By 2014, we may all even reach Prius status.
This week on Queensberry Rules Radio, TQBR and Transnational Boxing Rankings Board founder, debutante and all around dapper fellow Tim Starks once again joins Bad Left Hook’s James Foley and TQBR’s beardstard son Patrick Connor in previewing Pacquiao-Rios and undercard, Carl Froch vs. George Groves, and recapping Andre Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez.no comments
One year and one month ago, the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board sprang into existence as an alternative to the belt-sanctioning organizations that have polluted the sport and made it more difficult to recognize the true champions of each weight class. Upon its creation, some fans and writers had some questions and criticisms, and I took the occasion as a chair of the Board to answer them here.
Now, one year in, the Board has built up significant support and recognition. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. But some people still have questions. Some have criticisms, most of which fall into two categories about A. the need for or value of the Board's work and B. its processes. Here are answers to the most common of those questions and criticisms during year one.no comments
"That’s where he needs to go! To the BODY!”
Of Manny Steward’s many great moments in the corner and on the HBO announce team, that is the one that stands out the most to me. Throughout round 9, he implored Micky Ward to return the punch that had gotten him there, the punch that had crumpled Arturo Gatti at the beginning of one of the most iconic rounds in modern boxing.
The left hook to the liver.
In June 2004, I was four months into my deployment in the Al Anbar province of Iraq. I was also two months into a brief, if very instructive, career as a boxer. Our Company First Sergeant had somehow procured a regulation size boxing ring after finding a bunch of us sparring without any protective gear except gloves on the pavement outside the buildings we lived in when on base.
We had relocated the ring, and quite a bit of donated/purchased training gear to an airplane hangar about a half mile from our compound. I had the good fortune of being on a stand down after a four-day trip providing security for supply convoys from the Jordanian border into Fallujah and back to Al Asad. I spent the bulk of my free time boxing, reading and watching movies.
On this particular evening, I was in the ring, ducking, slipping, and otherwise reveling in my new found defensive abilities as First Sgt. Perry put me through a series of defensive drills in which he kicked my ass while I attempted to avoid said ass kicking whilst not punching back. I had four inches of height and at least eight inches of reach on him. Though I knew he was vastly skilled, the man had the appearance of a steroidal badger with male pattern baldness. He was short and incredibly powerful, but there was no way he could catch me.
“Keep your fucking elbows in tight!” First Sgt. Perry barked.
I didn’t. I was confident enough in my legs that I knew I could slide away at the last moment. It worked well the first few times. Then he feinted a jab and I bit. I attempted to slide back and out of range, but I was on the ropes.
I don’t remember the punch exactly, but I remember the pain. He dug a left hook just under my ribs. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have a hot soldering iron stabbed into your diaphragm, it’s like that.
I collapsed helplessly into the fetal position. I’m sure I would have yelled in pain, but my lungs were completely devoid of air, and I was too busy writhing in agony to do anything else. For what seemed like three hours (it was 20 seconds), I laid on the mat squirming. I had just been introduced to the liver shot.
It was the first time that I had ever tasted the canvas, and it began a long term love of and appreciation for body punches.
Body punches are not without risk. They’re expensive to throw and they’re hard to score. By expensive, I mean that they leave you open for counters. However, a determined and accurate body attack can slow down even the most fleet-footed opponent, and break a seemingly iron will.
It takes a brass set to commit to the body.
Some of the greatest fighters of all time have had brutal body attacks, my personal favorites including Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, and the name sake of this article Mike McCallum.
What I originally conceived as a ranking of the five best body punchers in the sport has now become an unranked list of five of the best body punchers in the sport, with honorable mentions included, because quite frankly, it’s totally subjective.
With all of that said and with no more ‘ado. Here they are, in no particular order:no comments
Hoping to make a noise Saturday night, and in doing so, gain ground on domestic front runners Carl Froch and George Groves, James DeGale, once the biggest din in England, boxed in a vacuum instead -- despite the fight going out on national TV. While the American Andre Ward put further daylight between himself and the rest of the super middleweight field in an HBO-televised rout over the Dominican Republic’s Edwin Rodriguez, and as Froch and Groves prepare to embark upon a pay-per-view bonanza in Manchester next weekend, DeGale, 17-1, 11 KOs, was forced to settle for a muted points decision over unheralded Floridian Dyah Davis, 22-4-1, 10 KOs, that unfolded at an out-of-town shopping centre in Greenhithe, Kent.
Davis, bearing only a flickering resemblance to father Howard -- who British fans may recall failed in his tilt at Jim Watt’s lightweight world title in Glasgow a third of a century ago -- was left hitting fresh air for most of his visit -- save for a straight right hand in round eight that bloodied the home fighter’s nose. After a quick gear change and a couple of deftly inserted cotton buds, however, DeGale quickly restored order and ran out an easy winner across the board via scores of 118-110 (10 rounds to two).
In the main, the Harlesden southpaw managed to slip, slide, pepper and outland Davis in a functional exhibition that might have been permissible had he been in Ward’s position at the top of the heap. For as long as “Chunky’s” situation remains to the contrary, though, he badly needs to create a spark in contests such as this one in order to avoid being maginalised as a tricky but unrewarding option for those in a position to offer him a leg up.
After blaming a clutch of lacklustre showings on a knee injury that had stymied his ability to move -- and DeGale can really motor around a ring when he’s on song -- he was hampered this time around by a miserable mishmash of styles. The abiding sound of the evening was not one of a home crowd roaring their man on to greater deeds but rather the fighters’ feet creeping across the ring boards -- which is the boxing equivalent of a pin dropping.
Impatient when probed about a prospective world title shot, the Londoner will usually defer to promoter Mick Hennessy with a shrug of his shoulders and a brusque: “Ask Mick.” Pointedly, his response last night had descended into a weary: “Mick…please?”
While Hennessy could only seek to bide time with a politician’s rhetoric, DeGale was left to muster: “It was alright,” in relation to his performance. "Alright" has rarely been enough in the entertainment industry, which boxing has ever more in common with these days than it does a sport. DeGale is going to have to rocket up the back straight in 2014 or risk being confined to the chasing pack indefinitely -- nothing more than a gold-tinged fleck in the rear view mirror of champion Ward.no comments
(Jack Reiss separates Andre Ward, right, and Edwin Rodriguez; photo credit: Brittni Moten, Goossen Tutor Promotions)
Super middleweight champion Andre Ward is still better than anyone he's ever faced. He's still ruffling feathers in some quarters. Whatever variation there is in the opinion about his feather-ruffling qualities, his excellence is undeniable after a near-shutout win on HBO over top-10 contender Edwin Rodriguez Saturday.
Credit referee Jack Reiss with dialing down some of the ugliness Ward bouts are accused of featuring, because in the 4th, he deducted both fighters of two points for unsportsmanlike conduct and made a big show of wanting both fighters to be fined or disqualified for their roughhousing, which included Reiss getting socked himself. From the 5th until about the 10th, the bout became significantly cleaner. And let's be clear: Ward is pretty good at disguising when he initiates and maintains clinches, but Rodriguez was doing his share of both prior to the 4th. Meanwhile, the man landing the cleaner and more frequent shots was always Ward -- in the 5th, for instance, Ward was counted as having landed 27 shots to Rodriguez's four. In the 9th, it was 25-5. In other words, Ward's reputation as a nullifying smotherer who disdains offense was at odds with his performance, because his offense was far more voluminous and of higher quality than Rodriguez's. And it wasn't all boooo-inducing jabs. It was power punches, too.
In the 10th, Ward had Rodriguez hurt with a left hook, even. Was this something to do with Rodriguez struggling and failing to make weight by two pounds? Possibly. Perhaps even probably. Sometimes, fighters simply can't make it down to the weight limit no matter how hard they try; their bodies won't let them. But the responsibility for making weight still falls on the fighter, and it's hard to be sympathetic toward Rodriguez for not doing his job and therefore suffering for it. After the 10th, the Ward-Rodriguez clinch count began to tick back up, but nothing changed the fundamental dynamic: Ward was better, faster, smarter, and Rodriguez was wider, more tentative. And let's not forget that Ward was coming off a 14-month layoff due to shoulder surgery, so it wasn't like Rodriguez was the only fighter coming in with a handicap. In the end, he won it 118-106, 117-107 and 116-108.
Attendance-wise, this was the lowest reported figure for a Ward bout in some time -- 4,158 announced, reportedly. The other false narrative on Ward is that he's not a draw, when he does better figures in Oakland than most fighters do in other parts of the country. But this fight being out of Oakland, or perhaps the match-up, or perhaps the festering hostility toward Ward over his personality or fighting style, or perhaps all of it, took a toll on Ward as a gate draw. Maybe that's a good thing. A sense of entitlement appears to have settled in with Ward, where he expects big money disproportionate to risk. If he has less leverage -- and he'll always have leverage as an HBO favorite with an Olympic gold medal and a rightful designation as the second-best fighter in the world, behind Floyd Mayweather -- maybe he'll be less of a bear to deal with in negotiations, so that we stand a better chance of getting a Carl Froch rematch on Froch's native U.K. soil or an attractive meeting of HBO darlings, in Ward-Gennady Golovkin.
Ward didn't live down to the worst of the public's estimation of his entertainment value Saturday night, at least by my eye. He was offensive-minded and with a little help from Reiss, he was less rough and ugly than he sometimes is. But I think the worst of Ward's qualities become more tolerable to even his biggest detractors if he's doing it against Froch or Golovkin than if he's doing it against Rodriguez.no comments
(Vyacheslav Glazkov connects on Garrett Wilson; photo credit: Mike Gladysz, via Main Events)
Heavyweights Vyacheslav Glazkov and Garrett Wilson started roughly on NBC but finished one step away from a Rocky film, with the wild, hard-chinned underdog from Philadelphia going down swinging to the stoic eastern European. It wasn’t a complete copy; Wilson’s not Italian and Glazkov controlled the fight for the duration and got a unanimous decision victory in Verona, N.Y. There was no robot or Mr. T. But you can’t have everything.
Normally a cruiserweight, Wilson (13-7-1, 7 KO) stepped up to replace an ill Tomasz Adamek, who had been scheduled to face Glazkov (16-0-1, 11 KO). For a pumped-up 205 pound cruiserweight with a severe height deficit who took the fight on fours days’ notice, Wilson did his damndest to keep up.
He swarmed out of his corner at the bell and launched haymakers at Glazkov, trying to make up for his reach disadvantage with aggressive head movement and ferocity. Some of his hooks nearly spun him around like Babe Ruth missing a ball. The Ukrainian stayed cool, stuck a hard jab in Wilson’s face, and paced the fight at will.no comments