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Fri Apr 27, 2012, 09:24 AM

Boxing: 4-27 thru 5-5

April 27

At Austin, Texas (ESPN2/ESPN3): Ismayl Sillakh vs. Denis Grachev, 10 rounds, light heavyweights; Javier Fortuna vs. Yuandale Evans, 10 rounds, junior lightweights; Nick Gonzalez vs. Cory Yett, 4 rounds, welterweights; Daniel Henry vs. Jawnta Manson, 4 rounds, super middleweights; Mitch Williams vs. Rayford Johnson, 4 rounds, cruiserweights; John Montes vs. Randy Fuentes, 4 rounds, junior welterweights; Clay Herzing vs. Brice Ritani, 4 rounds, heavyweights

At Miami, Okla. (Showtime): Thomas Oosthuizen vs. Marcus Johnson, 10 rounds, super middleweights; Orlando Del Valle vs. Christopher Martin, 10 rounds, junior featherweights; Jose Pedraza vs. Gil Garcia, 8 rounds, junior lightweights; Tor Hamer vs. Galen Brown, 6 rounds, heavyweights; Ivan Redkach vs. Rynell Griffin, 8 rounds, lightweights; Allan Benitez vs. Terrence Harris, 4 rounds, lightweights; Joe Hanks vs. Marcus Rhode, 6 rounds, heavyweights

April 28

At Atlantic City, N.J. (HBO): Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson, rematch, 12 rounds, for Hopkins' Ring/WBC light heavyweight title; Seth Mitchell vs. Chazz Witherspoon, 12 rounds, heavyweights; Shawn Porter vs. Patrick Thompson, 8 rounds, welterweights

May 5

At Las Vegas (HBO PPV): Miguel Cotto vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr., 12 rounds, for Cotto's WBA junior middleweight title; Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Shane Mosley, 12 rounds, for Alvarez's WBC junior middleweight title.

(I will post more about these later.)

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Reply Boxing: 4-27 thru 5-5 (Original post)
H2O Man Apr 2012 OP
H2O Man Apr 2012 #1
H2O Man Apr 2012 #2
JonLP24 May 2012 #7
H2O Man May 2012 #3
H2O Man May 2012 #4
H2O Man May 2012 #5
JonLP24 May 2012 #6
JonLP24 May 2012 #8

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Apr 27, 2012, 11:49 AM

1. Hopkins vs Dawson 2

While both ESPN and ShowTime have solid cards on tonight, the boxing community is more focused on tomorrow night's return match between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson. Last October, after a lackluster first round, B-Hop began to increase the pressure on his young challenger in the second round. This era's "Old Mongoose" threw a wide overhand punch, and then attempted to place his upper body over Dawson -- an old tactic to wear the opposition out -- when Chad used his strength to remove Bernard. Hopkins fell through the ropes onto the ring apron, and hurt his shoulder in the process.

The referee initially ruled the fight as a second-round TKO victory for Dawson. I thought then, and still believe, that this was the correct outcome. However, under pressure from promoters, the state commission reviewed the incident, and the referee agreed to change the outcome to a "no contest." This served to return the light heavyweight title to Hopkins, and lead to the return match.

One big difference is that while the first fight was Pay-Per-View, the return bout will be on HBO. This is an improvement: while Bernard is highly respected as one of boxing's truly legendary greats, his style rarely produces excitement. More, despite Dawson's natural talents and solid skills, he is not an exciting fighter, either. His last knockout victory, for example, came in September of 2007.

Hopkins is 47 years old, while Dawson is 29. Despite Bernard's uncanny ability to defy the laws of aging in boxing, this age difference is a significant factor. First, like most aging fighters, Hopkins tends to have "up fights" followed by "down fights"; for example, he was decked twice in his draw against Jean Pascal, but came back to easily outpoint Pascal in their return bout. Also, Hopkins -- who was not a tremendously powerful puncher in his prime as a middleweight -- has to outbox naturally larger opponents. This fight is being fought two full weight classes above where Hopkins was best.

Dawson, on the other hand, is coming into what should be a light heavyweight's prime years. Although both are 6' 1" tall, and Chad only has a 1.5-inch reach advantage, Dawson is the bigger man, and will likely -- in the 24 hours after the weigh-in -- put back on several pounds. (Bernard carries no extra weight -- not inside or out of the ring.)

This is going to be a grudge match. Neither man likes the other. Nor do they respect one another, as fighters or men. Thus, Hopkins will pull out every trick in his bag: his thumbs, forearms, elbows, and the top of his head will suppliment his fists as weapons in the ring. And he will land as many low-blows as he can get away with. The prospect of losing a point in an early round will not stop Hopkins from trying to insure that Chad doesn't have his strength late in the fight.

Hopkins will try to dictate the geography inside the ring. That means he will move with Dawson, either forward or back, and trying to catch Chad with quick aggressive flurries, followed by clinching and wrestling. Dawson needs to control the distance between them with his jab -- which must include frequent double-jabs. This is his best option for frustrating Hopkin's strategy.

If Chad can land the jab (and it can be to Bernard's chest, which will be easier to find than his head in those early rounds), he can begin to put rapid combinations together. It is hard to land consecutive clean punches on Bernard, for he is a master of defense. But if Dawson can connect with the jab, and keep B-Hop busy avoidingthe follow-up, Dawson will be in a position to move Hopkins around the ring to his advantage. By increasing this type of pressure, round by round, Dawson increases his chances of taking the fight away from Hopiks; more, in doing so, Chad will increase the chances of Bernard forcing offensive opportunities.

If that happens, this could quickly become an exciting fight.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Apr 27, 2012, 07:20 PM

2. Alvarez vs Mosley

I didn't like this fight, from the moment that I heard it had been scheduled for the Mayweather undercard. And I haven't changed my mind since.

Shane Mosley made his pro debut in 1993. He won the lightweight title in 1997, and defended it with ten straight knockout victories. That was his prime. He capped it off by moving up two weight classes, and defeating Oscar de la Hoya for the welterweight crown in 2000. When he beat Oscar in their second fight, three years later, it was evident that Shane's physical skills were beginning to decline. From that time on, Mosley would rely on his intelligence and great physical strength more and more.

Mosley would drop two fights to both Vernon Forest and Winky Wright; Vernon had beat him in the amateur ranks, too, making it an example of how certain styles own others (Mosley could beat fighters who beat Vernon, though; with Winky, it was really a matter of size: Wright was a super middleweight/ light heavyweight who could drop down to junion middleweight for a weigh-in, and was just too big for Shane.

Let's look at Shane's fights since late 2007, when he lost a decision to Miguel Cotto. In September of 2008, he struggled with Ricardo Mayorga -- actually being physically man-handled -- before pulling off a 12th round kayo. Four months later, he won a spectacular TKO in 9 over heavily-favored champion Antonio Margarito (in the dressing room before the fight, Mosley's trainer discovered that Margarito's wraps were being "loaded".

But it's been down-hill since then. Shane took a beating in May of 2010, at the hands of Floyd Mayweather. While Mosley did land two hard punches early in the bout, Floyd would showcase his new tactic of standing mid-ring or moving forward; his punching accuracy was much higher than anyone Mosley had ever fought. It was apparent that Mayweather could have stopped Mosley in the late rounds, had he wanted to. But the curious prefernce of Floyd was to spank Shane, grinning at his total superiority in that ring.

For months later,osley drew with Sergio Mora. With no disrespect to Mora, who is a good journeyman fighter, it was clear that Mosley -- then undergoing an expensive divorce -- was fighting for the money. In his prime, Mora would have had problems surviving as one of Mosley's sparring partners.

Then, a year ago, Mosley lost a one-sided decision to Manny Pacquiao, being decked along the way. While there is certainly no shame in losing to PacMan, there is a price to absorbing 12 rounds of punishment from him. Manny, too, could have TKOed Shane -- but he didn't want to humiliate him (unlike Floyd, who enjoyed humiliating Shane while torturing him as a cat does a mouse).

Old former champions, looking for a pay-day, rarely do well by coming off inactivity to meet a larger, young lion. Alvarez, 21, is a big, very strong kid. While he obviously doesn't have the experience of Mosley, his promoter has brought him along well. Unlike fellow countryman Julio Cesear Chavez, Jr., who has a record bloated by stiffs and much smaller opposition, "Canelo" has been impressive in coming up the ranks. For example, in September of 2010, he knocked tough, durable ex-champion Carlos Baldamir out cold -- Baldamir fell face-forward to the canvas, always a sign of extreme punching power.

My son believes that Shane probably has enough left in the tank to win a decision over his younger foe. While that is a possibility (probably a slight possibility), it is still evidence of the ugly side, or brutal nature of this sport. Boxing is a "hurt" sport .... and even if he does somehow win, Mosley will take serious physical punishment in the ring. And while he is still faster on his feet than Alvarez, I do not think he will have faster hand speed: this kid has a vicious left hook, and he can land it to the body (re: liver) or the head.

All old fighters have a common experience: they can see an opening, but not have the reflexes to pull the trigger; and they can see a punch coming, but lack the ability to get out of its way. Those punches Shane sees coming will hurt more and more, as the fight progresses. One he doesn't see could very well result in Mosley being counted out for the first time in his career.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #2)

Sat May 5, 2012, 10:30 PM

7. You pretty much called it

Alvarez with a convincing 12-round decision. I gotta respect Mosley for taking a beating without getting knocked down. Announcers made not that Alvarez had no respect for his punching power, not even bothering to defend so he can set up his counter shots.

You weren't lying about that left hook.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue May 1, 2012, 05:30 PM

3. Cotto vs Mayweather

This is the first of a series of posts that I'll be doing on the upcoming "super fight."

Last Friday evening, during the ESPN FNFs, Teddy Atalas was asked if Cotto, being the naturally bigger man, enjoyed an advantage? Teddy pointed out that being bigger did not translate into Cotto's being faster, or harder to hit. This is, of course, Teddy hitting the nail on the head. More, Floyd is both taller, and has a longer reach, than Cotto.

(Speaking of Teddy Atlas, my son is bringing me to the May 18 card in Albany, NY, which will be carried by ESPN. The last time that D and I hung out with Teddy before a card, the ESPN crew invited us to sit with them at ringside. We had a group of relatives & friends waiting for us inside, so we felt obligated to decline the invitation. We aren't bringing anyone else this time.)

What Cotto does have in his favor -- compared to other Mayweather opponents, but not Floyd -- is his new trainer. He has the ex-Cuban amateur boxing coach, who worked with Miguel for his last fight, the return bout with Margarito. This guy combines the best of "old school" and modern training techniques; also, he has a solid grasp of what Cotto does best.

When Miguel Cotto was a contender, he was primarily a boxer, who had punching power -- most significantly, the left hook to the body. But promoters and the media began selling him as a deadly knockout artist. Even before the brutal loss to Margarito, Cotto had been hurt in a couple fights where he had no need to .... but by trying to be that deadly knockout artist, he made himself vulnerable. And even in his loss to Pacquiao, Cotto fought wrong -- he pursued the faster PacMan, and took a beating in doing so -- staggered, decked, and cut up badly. By the time he adjusted, and attempted to box, it was too late.

Both of Cotto's loses involved his taking terrible physical punishment. Margarito had the loaded hand wraps; Manny forced Cotto to fight at a "catch-weight," a new concept that PacMan's team has introduced to the sport. That difference in weight-loss almost certainly wasn't the main "cause" of Cotto's loss -- Manny was -- but it definitely made a big difference.

Also (as again pointed out by Teddy Atlas numerous times in recent years), the loss to Margarito did severe psychological damage to Miguel Cotto. It created a level of self-doubt that cast a shadow over all of his fights ....up until his avenging the "loss" when he faced Margarito the second time.

Hence, with the exception of some brittle scar-tissue (especially at the corner of his right eye brow), the Cotto that enters the ring this weekend should actually be Miguel at the very peak of his career. Obviously, I am going by the film I see on HBO's 24/7 series, and what I read on the internet. (Both the ESPN and Yahoo boxing sites have one or more intelligent, insightful writers. And a few other sites are valuable, too, although I will humbly submit that DU's boxing expert is the best in the business.) In my opinion, Cotto poses more of a threat to Mayweather than anyone else active today, and I absolutely include Manny Pacquiao in that assessment.

Cotto & his trainer know that Floyd is not planning to either dance around, as he did years ago, or hang back to the ropes, like a spider in its web, as he did against Hatton and Oscar de la Hoya. Rather, he will approach this fight in much the manner he did with Ortiz, in his last fight. This includes stepping side-to-side, to find openings, and then firing hard one-two combinations with his feet firmly planted. Team Cotto knows that Floyd is far stronger, and hits harder, than most critics and previous foes believed. So look for Cotto to "box" -- not to make wide circles inside the ring, or to be straight-forward-aggressive. No, he'll move with Floyd.

In moving with Mayweather, Cotto increases his ability to avoid getting hit as solidly. Also, because Floyd tends to throw one-two combinations -- try to think of the last time Floyd threw a four (or more) punch combination -- Miguel get set to return fire. Look for him to go primarily to the belly and chest (and, of course, that left hook to the liver), because no one can hit Floyd with head shots early in a fight. The only reason to start up top with punches would be to get Floyd to bend to his right side to avoid getting hit: this tends to expose the left side.

Cotto knows he cannot match Floyd in hand-speed. So what he has to do is anticipate, and time Mayweather. If he can do this in the first five or six rounds, he has a chance to be able to crowd Floyd into the ropes; there, he'll go from the body to the head with combinations. If you watch him training on 24/7, you'll see him preparing to do just this: note how he "lifts" his punches, both in shadow-boxing, and on the bag. That's extremely important.

Finally, Paul Malignaggi has said -- accurately -- that Cotto is the "dirtiest" fighter he's ever faced. When Zab Judah stunned Cotto in the first round of their fight, Miguel didn't clinch -- he threw a series of nut-punches that seriously hurt Zab, and sapped his strength. While he is not as cagey as B-Hop in illegal tactics, Cotto will not hesitate to foul any opponent. This, of course, brings to mind what happened to Victor Ortiz when he purposely fouled Floyd last year. It could get really ugly -- and fast -- come Saturday night.

Next, I'll focus on what to expect fromn Floyd on Saturday. I think it makes for easier reading when I make a series of posts, rather than a single, long one. I'd appreciate if you would let me know what you think .... is what I'm piosting here of interest, does it make sense, and do you find yourself thinking, "okay, I've seen Cotto do that," etc.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu May 3, 2012, 04:08 PM

4. Floyd Mayweather, Jr.,

made his pro debut in October of 1996; eight months later, he was competing against ranked contenders; and in October of 1998, he won his first world title. Now, at the age of 35, he has an impressive 42-0 record, which includes 26 knockout victories.

Known as both "Money" Mayweather and "Pretty Boy" Floyd, he has reached an age where most fighters -- especially in the lower weight classes -- begin to slow down inside the ring. Yet, in part because he earns such large purses (holding all the PPV sales records) that he has only fought four times since defeating Oscar de la Hoya in 2007, and partly because he has won almost every one of the 303 rounds he has fought -- because he is so difficult for even great fighters to hit -- Floyd Mayweather has remarkably little of the "wear-and-tear" that is associated with the sport.

His hands are the only part of his body that has been injured in boxing, besides a cut lip from an intentional butt in his last fight. And Mayweather has taken full advantage of his ability to pay for the best possible medical treatment for those hands.

Although he was trained by his uncle, Roger, who was a knockout artist, I assumed that he would be more in the mold of his father: a flashy, talented boxer, who would inhabit the "top ten" rankings in whatever division he competed in. By winning a title in the manner he did, it became apparent that this young fellow was superior in skills to the Old Man. Still, when he faced the 33-0 Diego Corrales in January of 2001, I expected him to take a thrashing.

Instead, he demonstrated that he was superior to anyone his size. Then, he moved up in weight, and began collecting world titles. And making it look easy.

In June of 2005, Mayweather displayed his immense talents while butchering Arturo Gatti in six rounds. It was a fight in which Floyd landed almost every punch he threw. Those fans who hoped that Gatti would be enough stronger that he could bull Mayweather about the ring, and press him into the ropes, were surprised to see that Floyd was, in fact, the stronger man.

For the past couple of years, the sports world has wanted the bout most believe would be the "Super Fight" of this era: Mayweather vs Pacquiao. There have been a few road-blocks preventing that from happening yet -- including issues of performane-enhancing, illegal substance use, and pre-fight blood and urine testing. Those issues have been largely resolved, at least in the sense that PacMan has agreed to Olympic-style testing. (Floyd and everyone he fights has to agree to this.)

At this point, the only real hold-up is promoter Bob Arum. As Teddy Atlas has noted several times on ESPN's FNFs, Arum is not willing to allow that fight to happen. Thus, Floyd is fighting Miguel Cotto, and next month, Pacquiao faces Timothy Bradley. Both of these are solid fights.

Win or lose, Mayweather has a county jail term to start shortly after this fight. In the pre-fight interviews, Mayweather has said the thought of jail doesn't bother him, and that he has nothing but respect for Cotto. Both statements are largely true .... yet the fighter always has to build up resentment for his opponent, and I expect we'll see Floyd taking out the frustrations of an upcoming incarceration on Cotto.

Next, we will look at how I anticipate that Floyd will fight on Saturday -- both how and why.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #4)

Fri May 4, 2012, 06:52 PM

5. FM: 151 lbs; MC: 154 ibs.

There were over 5,000 people attending today's weigh-in ceremonies. Over the years, there was only one card that I fought on with a larger crowd -- and I was in the third "undercard" bout, on a night that a Binghamton, NY native was fighting an undefeated contender who would win the world light heavyweight title within a year. Decades later, it seems that good fight cards -- such as the ESPN FNF -- don't get audiences that large.

Both Cotto and Mayweather look to be at their best. I believe that Cotto can do much better than most of the experts are predicting. Many are focused on "speed" -- and in that context, Mayweather has every advantage. And, of course, undefeated fighters don't know how to lose. So it is more likely that Cotto will make a good showing than win; yet he has, in my opinion, a real chance of winning, for timing can beat speed.

How will Mayweather approach the fight in the ring? Though I can only speculate, there has been a pattern since he was inactive, to allow his hands to heal. He isn't stationary, but he doesn't use his feet to go around the ring as he did as a young man. He picks his spots. Against Oscar de la Hoya and Ricky Hatton, he stayed against the ropes a lot. Against Marquez and Ortiz, he used the center of the ring. I suspect that he will be looking to keep this towards the middle of the ring; Cotto is probably more dangerous is he backs Floyd to the ropes.

I doubt that Cotto will be 100% aggressive. He should box much of the time. Both Floyd and Miguel like to counter-punch, but here, Cotto has to throw first frequently, and throw last in almost every exchange. For that reason, I'm confident that Floyd will be putting together more combinations than usual -- because he wants to prevent Cotto from punching last in those exchanges.

Cotto has scar-tissue. Floyd's crisp punches will cause the blood to flow. When injured (cut or stunned), Cotto habitually fouls. As nice a guy as he is outside of the ring, we've seen Cotto resort to butts, low-blows, elbows, and even physically throwing an opponent down (hard), when he believes it can help him. We've also seen that Mayweather will not initiate dirty tactics, but will not hesitate to respond harshly. This has been true throughout his career, except against an out-of-control Zab Judah when a mini-riot broke out in the ring.

We will see Floyd pressing his left forearm against Cotto's should & neck inside. His reach advantage suggests that we will also see numerous right-leads, especially if they hit the mark. Cotto is no doubt prepared for these rights; this should lead to an adjustment on Mayweather's part. Remember this: Floyd can lead with a very fast, very hard left hook. He wore Diego Corrales out with hard lead-rights, but the knockdowns came from lead left hooks.

Both guys will also be concentrating on body-shots. That should be a big factor. In order to get in range, Cotto has to come in under his jab -- and he'll need to jab a lot to try to reduce the lead-right opportunities for Floyd. And that's where, if I were to predict what I think will be the biggest factor, that I think we'll see Floyd's left hook.

Enjoy the fight!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #5)

Sat May 5, 2012, 01:14 PM

6. Who do you think will win

and what result(such as KO, TKO, etc)?

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat May 5, 2012, 11:48 PM

8. Excellent fight

Mayweather won but Cotto made him work for it.

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