I wrote a Gym Notes column on almost watching an Antonio Margarito sparring session last week. LOL.
The not-so-unexpected breakdown of my 16-year-old Toyota on the way to Robert Garcia’s gym in Oxnard, Calif., prevented me from providing an eye-witness account of Margarito’s sparring session, but word from a couple unattached insiders (Max and Sam Garcia — no relation to Robert) was that the former welterweight titleholder looked solid in his second week of sparring.
I mentioned his sparring partners in that article but I’ll list their names again: Austin Trout (a junior middleweight prospect from New Mexico), Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis (a quick and talented junior welterweight spoiler from L.A.), and Ricardo Williams (a 2000 Olympic silver medalist from Ohio who was once a ring savvy 140-pound standout).
I sat in on an eight-round mitt session on Saturday and from that workout I can tell you that Margarito’s very close to fighting weight, his mood is good and he definitely has his legs under him.
I plan to watch him spar this week (God willing) for another Gym Notes column.
DIRRELL PULLOUT BENEFITS JOHNSON
Anyhoo, let me put it like this: I'm disappointed in not getting to see a Ward-Dirrell fight as it delivered a dramatic story line, maybe (big maybe) a decent fight (although my gut tells me Ward mentally dominates Dirrell, wins a decision, and then we are left having to hear bitch ass Dirrell and troll-ass Gary Shaw whine and harumph about it) and an opportunity for Ward (who I am becoming a big fan of) to cement himself as top 1 or 2 in the division.
So that fight is lost for now but what I find an interesting wrinkle is now the Johnson vs. Green fight is about 100 times more meaningful because the winner (hopefully Glen) most likely moves on and we are left with a four-man tourney of Abraham, Froch, Ward and Johnson. That's not too shabby and would be awesome for Gentleman Glen.
Maybe I'm jumping the gun slightly on Glen being the guy… but still, to see this turn into that kind of opportunity for Glen really makes me happy.
So I'm not gonna hang my head very much at all if this turn of events leaves me with Dirrell (who annoyed the f___ out of me anyway) out, Glen Johnson in, and those four (none of whom I think have any whiny ass bitch in them) left to duke it out.
I'm still on board with the Super Six and excited.
If there are others looking to focus on the negative then they are morons and can all go F themselves. — Todd
You’re starting to sound like your daddy, Todd. This is Todd duBoef, isn’t it?
Whoever you may be, I agree that a four-man single-elimination semifinal with Ward, Abraham, Froch and Johnson is worth watching.
However, given Johnson’s age, ring wear, and the fact that he will be fighting at his lightest weight in TEN years, I can’t count Allan Green completely out the way most fans and media have.
And I disagree that a victory over his buddy Dirrell would have “cemented” Ward’s status as the “top 1 or 2” super middleweight. For starters, Ward already has that status (ESPN.com ranks him No. 1; THE RING rates him No. 2) depending on who you talk to. If the Bay Area Badass wants to be the division’s undisputed numero uno he must not only best Abraham, Froch or Johnson, but he’s got to beat Lucian Bute (provided the Quebec-based Romanian remains undefeated through the conclusion of the Super Six).
Lastly, for her own safety, I sincerely hope your therapist never administers to you a Rorschach test with inkblots that resemble Andre Dirrell or Gary Shaw. You might go all Edwin Valero on the poor lady.
Two quick, late questions. What's up with Brandon Rios calling out Victor Ortiz at a catchweight of 138 pounds when he weighed in as a welterweight on the day of his DQ win vs Anthony Peterson?
And what ever happened to Ricardo Torres? In his only two defeats he lost a great slugfest with Miguel Cotto, got headbutted and hooked vs Kendall Holt. Two acceptable losses vs world champions. Why hasn't he fought since ‘09? — Jabre
I have no idea what happened to Torres. Last time I wrote about him was during the build up to his rubber match with Holt that was scheduled for December of 2008. Torres pulled out of that fight with a week or two to go, claiming an injury but the rumor was that he was way overweight in his camp in Colombia. Bob Arum, who promoted both fighters at the time, said “he can stay in Colombia as far as I’m concerned” during the conference call for Holt vs. Demetrius Hopkins (who served as a late sub for Torres in the Showtime-televised bout).
I respectfully disagree with Obi-Bob Kenobi. I’d like Torres to venture out of Colombia if he can get down to 140 pounds and regain his form. I think the gutsy hard-punching former beltholder would make for some fun fights in the deep and talented junior welterweight division. Imagine Torres vs. Bradley, Alexander, Khan, Maidana and Ortiz. Imagine the seasoned slugger testing young up-and-comers like Danny Garcia (who looked good whacking out Mike Arnaoutis on Friday) and in the not-too-distant future prospects such as Jessie Vargas and Frankie Gomez. Torres is a welcome
What’s up with Rios and his catchweight challenge to Ortiz? Nothing really. It's just a good old-fashioned grudge. He doesn’t like Victor and he wants to try to beat up on his former stablemate. Rios, who weighed over the welterweight limit the day of the Peterson fight, can make 135 pounds easy and he knows that Ortiz has to work hard to make 140, so he’d love to set a 138-pound catchweight for a future fight in the hopes that Vic drains himself making that weight (Bam Bam’s not as dumb as he looks or sounds — not quite, anyway). Ortiz isn’t as spacey as he looks (not quite, anyway) and would never agree to weigh under 140 pounds for a fight. He has way too many options at 140 pounds to mess around with Rios at the present time, but I think those two Kansas kids will make for a hell of grudge match in about a year or two if they continue to win and impress. And don’t forget that Rios said he’d be willing to fight at 140 pounds if Ortiz didn’t take the catch-weight bait.
DOES BRIGGS HAVE A PUNCHER'S CHANCE?
hell no. he has the same chance as all of vitali’s other opponents do – a 2% chance that vitali twists a knee or ruptures a disk in his back or some weird sh__ like that and loses by injury tko. i was worried about briggs and thought people were underrating him when the fight was signed because he is a huge puncher.
however i watched a training video and realized he is the slowest thing going and can’t move his feet at all around the ring. especially if vitali has a big ring (and im sure he will) there is no chance in hell briggs and his juiced up body (ya i'm accusing him of taking steroids a few years ago when he came back much heavier and ko'd 10 bums and ray mercer in a row) can keep up with vitali who will circle for two rounds and then beat the piss out of briggs. — Matt in Canada
Matt, I’m shocked that it took a video of Briggs training for you realize that he has about a 2-percent chance of winning Saturday’s fight with Vitali.
I figured the only people who were “worried” about Briggs were those who were concerned for his health (and no, I’m not talking about fears that the Brooklyn native suffers an asthma attack, I mean being fretting that Klitschko knocks him clear out of the damn ring).
WHAT ABOUT THESE TOP FIVES?
good day mr. fischer!
top 5 worst match-ups you've ever seen/covered/watched on tv (and why).
top 5 boring boxing fights you've witnessed (and why)
top 5 boxing events you wish never happened (and why)
top 5 upsets you've watched/covered/watched on tv and you can't believe it (and why)
Good job. God bless. — Jarvis, Philippines
The five worst match-ups that immediately come to my mind are high-profile bouts where one guy obviously shouldn’t have been in the ring with the opponent he was matched with:
Lewis-Tyson (I know this event did record box-office and PPV numbers, but Tyson had nothing left and no business challenging a heavyweight champ as good as Lewis… the only people who thought Tyson had a shot were clueless casual fans, Tyson nut-huggers and Lewis haters… I thought Mike took an unnecessary beating in that fight)
Tyson-McNeely (it was Tyson’s first fight after spending almost 4 years in prison but McNeely, who had only faced old journeymen and rank ham-n-eggers, still had no prayer of even making it out of the first round… the “fight,” which resembled a gang member beating up on a mentally challenged kid from the “special” class, did huge PPV numbers)
Corrales-Clottey (the not-long-for-this-world Corrales, who was clearly a spent bullet going into this fight, shouldn’t have been fighting anyone at 147 pounds much less a hard-nosed contender like Clottey)
Lewis-Grant (poor Grant, who had been exposed in winning a tough fight with Andrew Golota in his previous fight, was practically hyperventilating on his way to the ring)
Gatti-Gamache (Gamache beat a bunch of third-tier guys going into this fight, the HBO-televised co-feature to De La Hoya-Coley, but he was worn down by an aging Julio Cesar Chavez in his last loss… the Mexican legend put on a lot of weight after the weigh-in for that fight, which I attended in Anaheim, Calif., as a fan… if an old guy who put on a lot of weight after the weighin beat up on Gamache, what was going to happen to poor Joey when he fought a young guy who was notorious for putting on a ridiculous amount of weight after weighing in?)
Top five boring boxing fight I've witnessed (and why):
Why would anyone be interested a list of boring fights and want reasons why certain bouts made the list? You’re not going to try to find these bouts and watch them are you? If so, you’re a very strange individual. LOL.
Ruiz-Oquendo immediately comes to mind. I watched most of it in fast forward and it still sucked. Lots of heavyweight bouts come to mind: Byrd-Williamson, Moorer-Bean, Klitschko-Ibragimov. Chavez Jr.-Rowland, which was sadly the main undercard support for Cotto-Pacquiao, was crap. It got so monotonous I left press row for a bathroom break and took my sweet time. My heart sank when I returned to the arena and saw that they were only in the sixth round. Is that five? Yeah, that’s a enough; this is a pointless Top Five.
Top five boxing events I wish never happened (and why):
I wish any bout that resulted in a fatality or a serious head injury never happened. I’ll just stick to those tragic bouts that occurred during my tenure as a boxing writer and on my beat (the U.S.).
Levander Johnson-Jesus Chavez sticks in my mind and conscience. I had a horrible feeling about the matchup prior to the fight, which I didn’t cover, but I didn’t speak out enough against it apart from saying some stuff on The Next Round with Steve Kim. There’s a Levander Johnson T-shirt in my dresser that members of MaxBoxing’s message board created and sold to raise money for Johnson’s family. I’ve never worn it and I have a hard time looking at it but I won’t throw it out. Obviously the subject still bothers me.
Montiel-Alcazar (fatality). Jones-Scottland (fatality). Viloria-Contreras (serious brain injury). Darchinyan-Burgos (serious brain injury).
This has been a very depressing topic, Jarvis.
Top five upsets I couldn’t believe (and why):
Brewster over Klitschko. (I believed in Brewster going into the fight — and yes, he was my official pick by a fourth-round KO — but after taking a frightful beating and going down late in the fourth round, I thought it was over for my man Lamon. Then he teed off on a bone-tired Wladdy in that surreal fifth round and forced a stoppage. I nearly lost my mind watching at home.)
Douglas-Tyson. (I was rooting for Douglas because he was from Columbus, Ohio where I grew up. His TKO of Tyson was so shocking it probably saved me from being jumped on the train ride back to where I was staying in Boston during a college internship at the Boston Globe. A bunch a hoods surrounded me not long after I got on the “T” from my friend’s house in Roxbury where I watched the fight. But they froze when I told them Tyson got knocked out and demanded the blow-by-blow account, which I delivered along with pretty darn good imitation of Iron Mike getting decked by my Ohio homeboy.)
Honeyghan-Curry (I thought Curry was the pound-for-pound best in the sport and unbeatable at 147 pounds. I didn’t think anyone but middleweight champ Marvin Hagler could beat the talented Texas technician — and that showdown was supposedly in the works — so you can imagine my shock when some unknown British dude with a what I thought was a quirky style served his ass. Honeyghan didn’t just force Curry to stay on his stool after six, he hurt the American star in the fifth round and made him look ordinary.)
Barkley-Hearns. (The disparity in talent was almost sickening. Barkley was a legit contender but I thought the Hitman would make him look like a club fighter and peel the Bronx bomber’s head like an overripe orange with his jab and accurate power punches… that’s just what the Detroit legend did — as well as land numerous debilitating body shots — for 2½ rounds until BOOM! That monster right hand crashed upside Tommy‘s head. I don’t know how Hearns peeled himself off the canvas but there was no way the fight should have continued — it did, of course — and the Blade chopped the Hitman down with a follow-up barrage.)
Nunn over Kalambay. (It wasn’t shocking that Nunn, an awesome talent, beat Kalambay but I couldn’t conceive of the manner in which he won — a one-punch KO in the first round… I liked Kalambay in that fight. I was just starting to become a hardcore fan around the time of this bout, so I didn’t know that much about the finer points of boxing and how styles match up but from what I’d seen and read about the Italy-based Congo native I thought he had the ability to off-set and out-maneuver the 6-foot-2 southpaw. I thought Kalambay had the footwork of a 160-pound Muhammad Ali. Too bad he didn’t possess Ali’s iron chin.)
TOP 5 AUSTRALIAN FIGHTERS
Thanks for your thoughts. — G., Australia
Thanks for your Top Five list. I’ll have to research Patrick and Sands as I’m not familiar with either fighter. Anyway, here’s my list:
Young Griffo (won world featherweight title when there was only one to win and fought hall of famers Kid Lavine, George Dixon and Joe Gans to draws in a series of bouts from 1894 to 1897),
Les Darcy (won Australia’s welterweight, middleweight and heavyweight titles on way to compiling excellent 45-4 record before tragic, premature death),
Lionel Rose (traveled to Japan and beat that nation’s greatest fighter Fighting Harada to win world bantamweight title, which he defended against undefeated Japanese challenger Takao Sakurai in Japan before traveling to the U.S. to beat underrated Mexican badass Chucho Castillo at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., which might as well have been Mexico… no shame in losing to the unbeaten prime version of Ruben Olivares that KO‘d him),
Johnny Famechon (beat underrated Jose Legra for the WBC featherweight title and defended it twice against Harada — the first win by controversial decision but the rematch by 14-round TKO in Tokyo — and there‘s no shame in losing the title to underrated Mexican southpaw Vicente Saldivar), and
Jeff Fenech (won titles at bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight in first 20 bouts and defeated aging future hall of famer Carlos Zarate, young future hall of famer Daniel Zaragoza, 1984 Olympic gold medalist Steve McCrory, as well as solid titleholders Samart Payakaroon, Greg Richardson, and Marcos Villasana… held the great Azumah Nelson to a draw that most observers thought he deserved to win.)
FIVE BEST PERFORMANCES OF ALL TIME
Keep up the great work. – Ben, UK
My man, I’m 40! I can’t tell you about the best performances of all-freaking- time. I haven’t seen or studied enough to begin to even have an inkling of who’s deserving of mention and why.
This is a question for Bert Sugar or a bona fide boxing historian like Mike Silver. Or you can break out your Ouija board and try to reach the spirit of Hank Kaplan.
Given your criteria, “on the biggest occasions produced their best and executed a perfect gameplan,” I think the examples you gave are on-point.
Clay over Liston featured a not yet mature 7-to-1 underdog, who had been dropped hard in his previous bout, outclassing a truly feared heavyweight champ that most of the media of the time rated as the most formidable since Joe Louis.
Frazier over Ali in their first bout, Sanchez over Gomez, Leonard over Hearns in first bout, Leonard over Hagler, Duran over Leonard, and Duran over Barkley are some examples that occurred in my lifetime.
Whitaker’s “draw” with Chavez resonates with me because it occurred shortly after I’d become an official “boxing nutcase.”
I don’t know if Whitaker was an underdog but Chavez held an 87-0 record at the time and Sweet Pea was willing to face the Mexican icon on his terms. It was a Don King-promoted event (that was carried by Chavez’s network, Showtime) in San Antonio in front of 60,000 Mexican and Mexican-American fans. Like most observers, I thought he took Chavez to school.
I’ll give you my Top Five “best performances” since the Whitaker-Chavez fight:
Jones over Toney, Barrera over Hamed, Hopkins over Trinidad, Mayweather over Corrales, and Mosley over De La Hoya (first fight).