He’s Baaaack!

And I am so glad he is.  He did it just the way I hoped he would, with his mythological, fantastic power.  He only landed three punches.  OMG that’s amazing.  He is back.  He is all the way back.

Yes, I believe that like me, everyone on the Wilder team figured this to be a easy night, and like Fury’s fighting Schwartz this was a little seedy, a little cheap.  The difference was Wilder coming off back-to-back knockout losses, Fury was coming off an extended bender.  We wanted, no needed to see if the monster inside Fury had survived  (See That Terrible Miniaturization below).

Here is my sincerest hope for the heavyweight division:  That someone beats Fury, and with no stinking rematch clause in their contract.   Let the Big Tosser wait in the wings, floating in cloudless climes and starry skies, ever hoping to get his hands on a title shot that remains just out of reach…  That would be some poetic justice right there.  It also might allow some real compelling fights to take place.

I just wrote about the long list of ‘mandatory challengers’ (see Bottleneck, below)  Add Wilder to that list.  What remains is for the Wanker to sign to fight one of them.  Seriously, if he follows through with his plan to fight Mahmoud Charr, he needs to have his belt taken away.  That way it could go to a man willing to fight for it.

But back to Wilder: The punch that leveled Helenius was very reminiscent of the ‘Phantom Punch’ that felled Liston in 1965. Wilder, like Ali was moving backward, then planted his right foot and delivered a short, chopping blow that removed his man from his senses. 

This is making me reconsider my opinion on Ali / Liston.

At first, many years ago, I saw the film clip at normal speed and without zooming in and I didn’t see the punch either.  This was a great mystery to me. I did not want to think of Ali cheating somehow, so I let it be a mystery.

Then later I saw a slowed down and zoomed-in version in the film When We were Kings.   They also had Ali describing the punch as his “anchor punch” and he quipped that no one saw the punch because they all blinked at the same time.  But that time I could see the punch, and the impact on Liston’s head and how his left foot came off the canvas.  All these things made an actual knockout seem more plausible.

It was the fish-flop that Liston did that looked phony to me.  I eventually heard some wag (it may have been Bert Sugar, I don’t remember) point out the two hard shots that Ali landed at the opening bell.  They happen so fast that I, as did the man calling the TV play-by-play didn’t notice them.  But Liston noticed.  The theory is that he got whacked right out of the gate, followed by two minutes of fruitless lunging and missing, just like the first fight.  The thought is that he got so discouraged that he was looking for a way out when *Bam!* A flash knockdown!  Here was his chance to escape further humiliation, and thus, the fish-flop.  This was Liston’s clumsy and improvised escape.

Now I wonder…  I don’t think Helenius was faking. 

I read that he was paid roughly a million dollars to get his nose flattened.

Which is somewhat gratifying.  I found it very sad indeed that he was only paid $30,000 to fight Kownacki, and $75,000 for the rematch, where he got clocked in the nuts, several times. At least he got a bigger paycheck for this nighty-night performance.  For I expect we’ll not see much of the “Nordic Nightmare” from now on.  After all, Wilder knocked Breazeale into obscurity in just the same way.

Earlier in his career (2010 and 2011) Helenius beat Lamon Brewster, Samuel Peter and Derek Chisora.  In more recent times, he lost to Gerald Washington and Dillion Whyte, and some fellow named Johann Duhaupas.  All in all a pretty impressive record.  I hope he can take pride in it and find something else to do now. And I hope the million bucks helps him get it started.

There is a Bottleneck

And no one is complaining except me, it seems.

There have been three recent ‘title eliminators’ but no movement toward an actual title fight.  It seems that the sobriquet “Mandatory Challenger” has as much meaning as their boxing names, like “Towering Inferno” or “Touch of Sleep.”

A long time ago I made a spreadsheet that created boxing names.  The main joke was that bad nick names, like “Dim Bulb”, “Gelding” or “Nicely Coiffed” were included.  Another joke aspect was that all the names were either Latin sounding, or eastern European, like “Igor “the Switch-Hitter” Mayorga” or “Manuel “Two-Sheds” Solzhenitsyn.  I looked but couldn’t find that one.  I did find a generator that I wrote with all Jewish names, to wit:

Your Son’s Birth MonthYour Daughter’s Birth MonthYour Birth Month
1Lester the Hammering Hebrew Schwartz
2Morey you want I should stop hitting you? Lieberman
3Saul The Dybbuk Finkelstein
4Bernie You call that a Jab? Rothschild
5Malcolm the Smiter Abelman
6Abraham the Horn of Joshua Lipschitz
7Hiram the Pillar of Fire Rosenthal
8Cyrus The Desert Wanderer Cohen
9Ruben the Mensch Feinberg
10Chaim Matzeltov Liebowitz
11Benjamin the Plague of Fists Abramowitz
12Rorey Aaron’s Rod Morgenstern

(I got “Ruben “the Smiter” Abramowitz”.)

Then I found one that I created that riffed off of the stereotype of Italian organized crime figures, but imagining that they were both boxers, and also office workers:

Your birth monthYour Wife’s Birth MonthYour Son’s Birth Month
1Jimmy The Copier Rutigliano
2Tommy The Kuerig Giordano
3Joey The Shredder Esposito
4Pauly The Dumpster Romano
5Rocco The Stapler Bianchi
6Sally the Copier Mancini
7Tony “Three-Hole-Punch” De Luca
8Bruno the Rolodex Napolitano
9Sammy I.T. Moretti
10Guido The Server Marchesi
11Pete The Gopher Lucchese
12Alfredo The Remote Connection Angelini

(I got “Pete “the Dumpster” Moretti”.)

You see there was a time when the boxing world was full of Irish men.  Angelo Dundee wasn’t Irish, and his name wasn’t really Dundee, but he wanted his name to sound like an Irish name.  He wanted his name to make it look like he belonged in the sport.  The later Italian men seemed to dominate the sport, men like Marciano, Graziano or LaMotta.   Then black men had a dynasty.  More recently the Latin men and eastern Europeans.  Burt Sugar wrote about this phenomenon and linked it to immigration, etc.  Don’t know if he touched all the bases, but it was interesting.

There was Jewish heavyweight champ once.  Max Baer was Jewish.

Then things got really weird.  This last one was for architects that also were somehow prizefighters:

The month of your AnniversaryYour daughter’s Birth MonthYour Son’s Birth Month
1Michael Notes of Earth Johnson-Smythe
2Criss Whisper of Toffee Wallingford
3Thad Peat Smoke Patterson
4Douglas the Vision Moody
5Rory Dark Sweetness Evans-Childers
6Alexander Learning Pathways Witherspoon
7Troy Innovation Propeller Samuelson
8Bruce Limitless Potential Montigue
9Lemuel Delicious Accent Buttifoucco
10Samson Postmodern Renaissance Simpson-Prague
11Aldo Juicy Peach Whistler
12Chad Noble Purpose Dorchester

(I got “Michael “the Vision” Buttifoucco”)

Architects… really weird people.  Where was I?  Oh, yes.

I refer to Filip Hrgovic, who won a title eliminator against Zhang Zhilie, and is next in line to challenge Usyk for one of his belts, or so they say.  Andy Ruiz also won an eliminator against Luis Ortiz, and he is also next in line to fight Usyk for a belt, and Joe Joyce knocked out Joseph “No Name” Parker and he too, is next in line.  I understand that Daniel Dubois is somebody’s ‘Mandatory’ for some reason too.

Wait, is one of these guys supposed to fight Fury, (who is retired)?  Because if you haven’t heard he’s planning to fight Mahmoud “Diamond Boy” Charr (No, I’m not making fun of him, that’s his name.)  If you don’t know, Charr, whose career has not earned him a title shot, has been shot 4 times in the abdomen, has had both hips replaced, and is 37 years old.

Here’s a picture of him in training.

Inspiring, Tyson.  Real nice.

Being a “Mandatory Challenger” seems to be analogous to being in the “friend zone” with a member of the opposite sex.  There doesn’t seem to be any way out, and you never get the ‘closure’ you desire.

So we have a phalanx of men, qualified men, men who have been tested and have passed, men pounding at the door, and the sanctioning bodies act like referees in  a wrestling match. (“What chair? I didn’t see a chair!”).  Heavyweight boxing is constipated and the only way to get things moving is for the sanctioning bodies (AKA the Tapeworm) to start actually stripping titles from their “champions” that refuse to fight.

Fury should have his title taken away and be forced to wear a tutu for his next match.

I shall retire to Bedlam.

Fury’s Biscuit

Tyson Fury has made it official, he’s a horse’s ass.

As I predicted, he has withdrawn his offer to fight Joshua, and is looking to fight Manuel Charr instead.  This is as cynical a move as his fight against Tom Schwartz was a couple years ago.  Blech.

It’s cruelty masquerading as sport.

When we were in school whenever a fight broke out, the kids would circle round and watch, shouting “Fight! Fight! Fight!” with enthusiasm.  What were hoping to see?  Pain? Injury? Humiliation?

Maybe we were hungry to establish a pecking order, who was boss of the playground?  Who will be our king?

I really don’t know, if you have any ideas, leave them in the comments section. 

But there might be something to that pecking order theory.  I was challenged to a fight on two separate occasions too see who was the toughest.  I was the biggest, that’s why I was selected for the honor of fighting for the Russel Erwine Elementary School Championship.  The fellow I was supposed to fight was a friend of mine.  I remember his first name was Don, and he was athletic.  He wore his hair in a flat top. That’s all I remember.  Here is the house he lived in.  Still looks the same.

Don’s house on East 250th

It wasn’t him that wanted the fight, it was other kids instigating this, setting a time and place, etc.  I talked to Don and said that I didn’t want to fight him, that we were friends, and it would be stupid to fight just because these other kids wanted us to.  He agreed, and we walked home.  Some time later, my neighbor Joe (who was also in the same grade) said he heard I had “chickened out” of the fight.  “Who told you that?” I demanded.

“Don did”, he said.

I ran the 200 yards to Don’s house, knocked hard on that side door you can see above and Don answered.  “Come on out”, I said.  “Why?” He wanted to know, and while I can’t quote what I said then exactly, I figure you can guess the gist.  I was angry and probably loud because before I could get my pound of flesh, his mom came to the door and acted like a parent.  I pointed and accused, she made him apologize.  We shook hands.

We continued being friends after that too.

Our house was painted white back then.

In that case the “King of the Playground” was really the prize and other kids wanted us to fight for it.  Not sure if this explains kids general fascination with all things pugilistic, but it’s something.

My point is that they didn’t ask me to fight this other Don, who was hydrocephalic, Or Dino, who was chubby and six inches shorter. No they wanted me to fight a kid who was strong and athletic (and between you and me, could well have won), someone they figure was a match for me.

But fighting the weaker and less able is what Fury, the Tosser King, is doing.  He’s going to beat up a smaller man for money. 

It’s one thing to do that when you are starting out, or if you are a side-show attraction like Hanford Willis (see ‘the Twister”, below). But when you are the Champ…

Ali fought Alfredo Evangelista.   I remember.  But the press, or at least Howard Cosell didn’t give him a pass for it.  They skewered him, called him out.  Called him lazy, a coward.

And of course we know Ali did take on better competition and paid the price for it too.  I don’t want that for the big Wanker, but he could be providing the public a thrilling spectacle, earing millions doing so, and maybe establishing himself as a great one.

But no, to paraphrase Darryl Philbin, he’s: “Sitting on his biscuit, doesn’t want to risk it.”

Juggernaut Indeed

To no one’s surprise, Joe Joyce pummeled Joseph “no nickname” Parker to the canvas.  Well, I guess maybe Parker and his crew were surprised, they said they were supremely confident going into this fight.  I don’t know why.  I’ve watched all of Joyce’s fights and have detected a pattern:  Joyce hits his opponents enough times that they quit.

It’s like Buster Douglas said “You just keep chopping, and eventually they’re gonna go”.

Joyce’s style is pressure and aggression.  He never lets up, he’s always moving forward and always swinging.  Not wild swinging, not so he punches himself out. It took him ten rounds to knock out Dubois, and eleven to flatten Parker.  No, he is disciplined in his assault.

My guess is that it’s hard to mount any offense against him because he never lets you pause in defending yourself.

What was a surprise was how durable he is.  We’ve seen hints of it before.  Takam hit him with three good rights in their fight to no effect.  Dubois got in a couple good ones too.  But I lost count of the clean shots that Parker hit him with.  That has to be demoralizing in the extreme when you hit a man with your best shot and he just keeps coming  – without pause, without reaction except to punch you back – hard.

Joyce once compared himself to George Foreman, and at first I scoffed at the notion.  But now I see what he meant. Aggression, power, granite chin.  Check, check and check.

They say he’s next in line for a shot at Usyk, and he wants that one too, having an amateur score to settle with him.  Usyk has said he only wants to fight the Tosser King (Fury) and if he can’t get that fight he’ll retire.  Fury agreed in principal to fighting Usyk, but then started inventing ways to weasel out “Oh you need surgery?  Too bad, I wanted to fight yet this year.  Oh, and I want half a billion pounds too.  You have one week”.  Like Jerrell Miller, he hit the trifecta in excuses not to fight.

Now Fury is doing his little pantywaist two-step teasing us (the flirt!) with the idea of fighting Joshua instead.   

Anyway, my point is I doubt that any of the tall ones want anything to do with Joyce.  It remains to be seen if Usyk can be talked into the rematch.  (I looked and that amateur bout was ten years ago.)

We have Wilder / Helenius coming up:

Sorry – I dozed off there for a moment.  (I expect a decisive win for Wilder.)

I sure hope my drowsiness is warranted.  I am not ready to say goodbye to the Bronze Bomber. I hope he stops the bearded Fin in his inimitable fashion: Stalking, stalking, stalking and *BOOM!* Goodnight sweet prince.  I’d like to see him fight Ruiz too, or Zhang, or Hrgovic, or Joshua or Whyte.  If Helenius pulls off the upset… well I’ll be upset.

Speaking of Zhang, remember how I said his “loss” to Hrgovic would not hurt his placement in the ratings? Indeed I was right. He actually moved up to number ten in Ring magazine’s poll (Hrgovic is number eight.)

And in their wisdom (I may have to take back the unflattering things I’ve said about them.  Well, some of them.) they do not have the big Wanker on their list. The man said he was retired, and until he signs a contract to fight, he’s still retired in my estimation.  I wish the WCB would take his belt too.

They currently show:

  1.  Usyk
  2.  Joshua
  3.  Wilder
  4.  Parker
  5.  Ruiz
  6.  Whyte
  7.  Joyce
  8.  Ortiz
  9.  Hrgovic
  10. Sanchez
  11. Zhang

Of course the Parker and Joyce positions will change shortly, but other than that I think this list is solid.

The IBO “computerized” (supposedly objective) list has:

  1. Usyk
  2. Fury
  3. Joshua
  4. Joyce
  5. Parker
  6. Ruiz
  7. Whyte
  8. Sanchez
  9. Chisora
  10. Pulev
  11. Ortiz

I question Pulev being on there.  He has newer impressed me.

Lastly, the Transnational (Teddy Atlas’ baby) has:

  1. Usyk
  2. Joshua
  3. Wilder
  4. Ruiz
  5. Parker
  6. Joyce
  7. Whyte
  8. Wallin
  9.  Ortiz
  10. Michael Hunter
  11. Martin Bakole

I know, right?  I’ve heard Michael Hunter but not Bakole.  I looked and he beat Maruisz Wach and Tony Yoka and lost to Michael Hunter.  The rest of his resume is no-names.  Hunter, on his part, lost to Usyk, and had a draw with Povetkin.  His most recent fight was a draw against Jerry Forrest.  Not very inspiring. He needs to get those bums out of there (and Otto Wallin too) and put Zhang, Hrgovic and Sanchez on the list.

So many good fighters, and it takes so long to make a good match. I continue to hope that Joyce and Zhang get their chance before they age out.

The Return of Ruiz

Andy Ruiz is back.  The destroyer put on a boxing clinic against Luis Ortiz and showed some power too.  His fast hands had some pop on them, earning him three knockdowns enroute to a unanimous decision win.

They called this a WBC title eliminator which I suppose means he’s Tyson Fury’s next mandatory defense.  He won’t do that, and I don’t think he really wants to fight Usyk either.  His “half a billon pounds” act is just his way of avoiding the  fight.  Now I understand he’s called out Joshua for a fight in December.  I actually would rather see that match than Fury /Usyk  (It’s been a long time coming) but I  won’t believe it until I see it.  And until he signs to fight Usyk I’m back to calling the Great Tosser, the Wanker.

Unfortunately, Luis Ortiz may be all done.  Ortiz is still a competent  boxer and a dangerous puncher, but at 43 I have to believe his skills will be diminished each time he steps into the ring.  I know, George Foreman lost to Holyfield at the age of 42 and won the title back three years later.  So if Ortiz wants to keep fighting, I’ll watch.  He got beat, but he didn’t get embarrassed.  But I’d rather he stepped down before he gets embarrassed, or hurt.

I’d like to see him fight Chisora, or Zhang.  They are a little long in the tooth too, but still very entertaining. 

Wilder is fixing to fight Helenius. I guess this bout is an attempt to demonstrate that Wilder is still a top fighter, or to build his confidence back up or something.  He looked pretty cool, happy and relaxed last night.

Joe Joyce is fighting Joseph Parker because none of the men ahead of him in the rankings are willing to take that risk.  Wankers.

If Usyk and Fury actually retire the title picture becomes a lot more interesting.  There are a lot of talented fighters just waiting for a shot. Ruiz at the top of the list.

Meanwhile, at the Red Sea…

Mixed feelings. That’s what I have, mixed feelings.  I wanted to root Joshua on to victory, wanted to see him strengthen his resume, wanted to see him fight Wilder, or Joyce, or Zhang er, I mean Hrgovic.

It was a captivating spectacle, a see-saw battle between two very skilled and powerful men. It’s kind of a miracle either of them is standing.  My hat’s off to Joshua to once again learning some new dance steps and almost pulling off the three-peat.

It’s too bad and more than a little embarrassing that he did the Kanye-West-emotional-outburst after the fight.  He did gives props to the winner, but jeez, Josh, just stand there and clap.  Put a sock in it.

As  for the prospect of a Hrgovic / Usyk fight:

I may be wrong, but I don’t think he’d do well against Usyk.

But the good news on that score is that Usyk called out Fury, and said that’s the only fight he wants.  I certainly would like to see that one myself.  But sadly, Fury has reboarded the choo-choo to coo-coo land and is demanding $850 million American dollars.  And, he gave the tapeworm a deadline of September first to come up with the money.

Maybe it’s just a negotiating ploy, maybe he’s cagey like that.  Maybe he really didn’t wear a batman costume to that press conference…

As for Zhang / Hrgovic:  My man got ripped off.

I watched it a second time to be sure, and I asked a second devoted fan to look on with me and score the fight round-by-round and we both (as did the fellow working the bout for DAZN) saw Zhang winning. 

On my own scorecard, I had Zhang winning three rounds by ten-eight.  The first round via the knockdown and rounds six and nine, Zhang gave a Hrgovic such a beating that he appeared to be out on his feet.  If the ref had stepped in to stop it in either round, I don’t think it would have been controversial.  He also hurt Hrgovic in rounds 5 and 11, but I had those as ten-nine rounds. Hrgovic, on the other hand, never seemed to really hurt Zhang.

And even if made rounds six and nine ten-nine rounds, we still had Zhang winning by a narrow margin, which is what the DAZN guy thought.

Oh well, he didn’t get the title shot he wanted, but I can’t see that “defeat” lowering his stock much.  I  hope he gets to fight another contender soon. 

Chisora said he’d like to fight him.  I’d watch.

The Twister

(The following is entirely a work of fiction):

They called me “the Twister” because when I’d hit a man with a right cross or a left hand he’d kind of spin as he fell.  That’s because of the fat thing. 

I suppose if I was to train hard and eat the right diet and all that I’d weigh something like 260. I’m a big man, so there is muscle under all the flab, but I am fat.  Right now I’m about 330 pounds, and I’m six foot five.  I tell you all that not because it’s interesting (it ain’t) but because it is part and parcel to this story.

See I’m tall enough that I can try to keep a fellow off of me with a jab (if you don’t know what a jab is, I think maybe you’re reading the wrong story). While I’m doing that I’m watching for a chance to hit him on the head with an overhand right, or an uppercut or sometimes just a straight one. That generally will make him wobble, then I can throw “the Twister”.

The fat thing comes in at this time.  I have only fought guys that are shorter than me, so they need get close to me to hit me.  Or if I hit them first, they try to hug me.  When they get inside and their head is right about where you’d be holding a basketball before making a free throw, right there is where I got my power. 

Other fighters throw long looping punches and can put some Chinese mustard on them too.  I ain’t that fast or athletic.  But put that head on a tee right in front of me and I can turn, sort of pivot, and put my weight into it.  This is why they would sometimes spin as they fall.  People enjoyed watching me do this and I made an embarrassing amount of money doing it.

I had a crisis of conscience early on, felt bad about it.  I’ve been a boxing fan my whole life, but understand that I was not a sportsman engaged in competition on a level playing field.  No, I was hurting men for money, and that seemed a little sordid.  That is, until I realized that the guy cheering for me in April was standing in the ring with me in May, and the guy I knocked out in April was now in the crowd hollering for me to lower the boom, to apply “the twister” to his buddy.

“C’mon let’s twist again, like we did last summer

Let’s twist again, like we did last year

Do you remember when things were really humming?

Yeah let’s twist again, twisting time is here…”

It all started as a dare.  It was Louie the bartender. I know that sounds like a cliché, like a made-up name; “Louie the bartender at the Boxing club” but that’s his name.  If it wasn’t I would tell you different. They got other bartenders there, but it was Louie that night.

They generally had a fight night once a month or so, maybe six weeks.  Once a year they would have an amateur night, a “tough man contest”.  This is a chance for a bunch of regular guys to blow off steam. They get drunk, they issue a challenge, they pay an entry fee and they fight. The club hires referees, and a doctor, a ring announcer and they even bring in some ring-card girls. To keep it safe, these fights are real short, like three one minute rounds.  Even at that distance, maybe half don’t go the full three minutes.  Everybody drinks a lot of beer and shouts a lot.

There is no round-robin, no prize money.  The winner of each bout just gets bragging rights.  Most fights are two buddies that want to fight each other.

It was an off-night (no fights) and the place was near empty so Louie and me are just having a conversation.  The annual tough-man contest was coming up in a couple weeks, and he starts in suggesting, at first, but eventually ramping up to full-on nagging that I sign up to fight.  He said there was a heavyweight that had signed up but didn’t have an opponent.

Basically I said yes to shut him up.  It made me nervous though. I started doing sit-ups and running in place every day so I wouldn’t be quite so soft as I had become.  My only experience boxing was a class I had taken at the Y when I was 12.  I was 38 years old when I entered the tough man contest.

The fellow I fought was about my age and about my shape (pudgy).  He was both shorter and smaller than me, at six foot two and 280 pounds.  I dropped him twice in the first minute.  The first time was a right to the head, the second time an uppercut to the breadbox.

That earned me an invitation to fight at the next event as a “professional”. Stan Martel was the fellow’s name.  He was the promoter, the guy that arranged and managed the actual boxing at this club.  Somebody else ran the foodservice and booze, Stan ran the boxing.  He offered me $200 to fight “another stiff”. That’s how he put it.

I told him I was no boxer, I just did the tough man contest as a lark. He said I had some natural talent and he thought we could have fun and maybe make some money. I laughed and thanked him but said no.

You see, back in those days the heavyweight fighters were smaller, the champ was just six foot nothing and two twenty.  I was a freak of nature.  I think Stan wanted me as a side-show attraction: “Come see King Kong squash some dude” or “David vs. Goliath” or some-such.

The typical fight card back then would feature mostly local guys, young kids just starting out, and a half-dozen real fighters, from out of town; men hoping to make a living at it.  The main event would be two of these guys, both with a winning, if not spotless record, hoping to win and move up one notch to something less skeevy. Stan, I believed, wanted to present me as a novelty on the undercard in an effort to sell more tickets.

Of course I was right.

I changed my mind.

A couple days go by and I can’t get it out of my mind.  Winning that fight, I don’t know, just felt good.  I was like a kid again having just won a little league game.  I had a smile in me that started at my spine and kind of radiated from there all over. I wanted to see if I could do that again.  Maybe a couple of times.

So I went to the gym that Stan runs and told him if the offer was still good I was in.

I started training a little then too.  That was tough.  The other boxers there looked down on me, like I was a joke.  They called me “Pops” and other, worse things at first.  That went away in time when they saw that I was going to stick with it.

I sparred a little bit and hit the heavy bag, but mostly I wanted to work so I could have more stamina.  I didn’t want to get beat because I got winded.

My first pro fight was a lot like the tough man fight.  This fellow was about the same size as the guy I fought that night, but where the first guy had a long hair and a beard this one was bald-headed.

And I knocked him out in the first round.  Just like I told you above.

Sure enough, a month later Stan put a picture of me on his poster, down in a corner under the names and photos of the real fighters as an “Added Attraction: King Kong Willis vs. TBD”

And that’s how it was for my first five fights. One or two rounds, and a KO.  And Stan’s hunch was right.  I had fans.  People came to see me wallop somebody.

On one of those occasions, somebody (who had come to watch somebody else) saw me and approached Stan (I didn’t have a manager or nothing) and Stan came to me and said “They want to put you on TV”.

I was immediately nervous “Look I told you I’m not looking to “advance my career” here.  I mean, I don’t mind getting hit, but I don’t want to be embarrassed, especially on TV!”

Stan went on to explain that they wanted me to fight four rounds, just as I had been doing, and they wanted me to “knock some guy through the ropes” just like I had been doing. 

I paused.

“There’s money in it.  They’ll pay you $5,000.”

I paused.

“I can help you.  I’d like to help you if you want to do this.”

I had to get new elaborate and shiny trunks, ka-ching! And new shoes, ka-ching! And I had to hire a cut man, and now I had to pay Stan as well, as I agreed to let him be my manager / trainer. Ching! Ching!

The $5,000 melted down to less than $1,000 by the time I added up my expenses, but man, it was fun.  And less skeevy.

The locker room didn’t smell.  That in itself was a miracle.  I liked that too.  It made what I was doing seem more legitimate.

I hit my man in the first round with a right cross counter (more on that later) right after my opponent threw a left hook.  He missed and I connected and he was off balance and he did a pirouette with both arms out helicopter-style and flopped to the canvas.

Everyone called it a counter punch, but I don’t really think it was.  I think we both swung at the same time, but mine just took longer to get there.  It did make me look like I knew what I was doing though.

The clip of that punch was shown on TV again and again.  It even made it to ESPN’s top ten.  And this is when things really got rolling.

A few months later they invited me back, and I had to go to three rounds, but I knocked that fellow out too.  This one got some attention, but not as much as that first one.  I hit him with a straight right and he started to fall backwards, but turned and tried to get his feet under him and he kind of ran across the ring and fell down face first with his head poking out through the ropes.

For both of those fights I was introduced as Hanford “King Kong” Willis.

The third time I was on TV I had to fly to Vegas.  That was fun, too.  I had never flown before and I got a kick out of just looking out the window.  Stan sprung for dinner that night at a nice restaurant. I liked that too.

When fight time approached, I got dressed and wrapped and gloved and when the ring announcer called my name I started out the tunnel into the auditorium and the PA started playing “Twist Again” by Fats Domino.

Come on, everybody, clap your hands!

Aw, you’re looking good!

Gonna sing my song, and it won’t take long

We’re gonna do the twist, and it goes like this:

I don’t dance, but I smiled and kind of bounced as I walked to the ring.  I walked a little slower too, enjoying the moment

A minute later, the ring announcer introduced me as “the Twister”

My purse for that fight was $15,000 which, like before, largely melted away after expenses.  But I didn’t care.

I put on a show that night.  I was riding high on the excitement. I liked the new nick-name.  I liked the crowd cheering for me.  I like the flight and the steak dinner and I wanted more of all of it.

I feel bad for the guy I faced that night. I was extra motivated.  I had my heart set on getting back to the highlight reel.

I didn’t get the helicopter or knock him out of the ring, but what I did do was knock him out in less than a minute.  It was the first punch I threw.  He had to move toward me to hit me, and I just caught him coming in.  Boom! One and done.

After that we negotiated a contract for five more fights at $25,000 each.  Not exactly screw-you money, but it was an improvement to my lifestyle, even after expenses.  I was fighting for them two and three times a year, and in between times I’d still fight at Stan’s club.  He paid me more than $200 too. I had some notoriety, I put butts in the seats.

I was 40 years old, getting close to 41.

Round and round and

up and down we go again

oh baby make me know

You love me so…

One night at Stan’s club I fought some guy with an iron chin.  Couldn’t put him down.  The fight went the full four rounds. I won the decision, and he was swollen and bleeding.  I gave him the customary brief hug after the fight and thought we were OK.

In the parking lot, as I was headed to my car, I got cold-cocked by his brother.  I fell on my ass, hard.  Before I could get my hands up to block, this guy whacked me two more times, knocking out a tooth.  Then he spit on my leather jacket. Then he turned around and shouted “I just knocked out the Twister! He ain’t so tough, he ain’t nothing!”

I had to spend a fortune getting that tooth replaced with an implant, but the spit…that really pissed me off.  When I found out that he was a fighter too, I asked Stan to get me a match with him.  No. I insisted that he get me match with him.  No police,  I just wanted to take care of this myself. 

He wasn’t as tough as his brother, and I knocked him out in two rounds.  Afterward I gave him the little hug and said, “That’s how it’s done, asshole.”

So I was 41 years old, 14-0 with 13 knockouts.

Who’s that, flyin’ up there?

Is it a bird?

No!!

Is it a plane?

No!!

Is it the twister?

Yeah!!!

I started to believe my own hype, that was my problem.  My weight had dropped to 300 – 305 but then bounced back up after I started making money.  I started asking Stan to get me better fights – harder competition. I had no designs on a title – I was not delusional.  I just wanted to reexperience the emotional peak that I had that night the first time they called me “Twister”.  I still enjoyed the crowd, and my new car and so forth, but the buzz was wearing off.

At first he would remind me of what we set out to do, that is, put on a show. We were successful in that.  Why take chance at losing our audience by getting whupped? I would argue with him, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t make a lot of sense, because his was a good point.  I just came back with “because I wanna!”

Then he stopped arguing with me, saying “If that’s what you want, okay!”  I talked with the TV guys and they said they were on board too.  I only had two more fights under my contract, I wanted, no I needed them to be special, to be highlights of my career.

What Stan did was lie to me.  He’d tell me “this guy has wicked power” or “fantastic footwork” (my footwork was crap) but I’d nose around and look up their record and in reality they were just more turkeys.

I realized that Stan didn’t believe my hype.  He thought I would lose to a better fighter, even a slightly better fighter, and the money would dry up.  He was using me, stringing me along, just so he could continue to take his percentage.

Then the TV guys called with an offer.  They had a fellow, they said was “a significant step up” that was willing to fight me. It would be a co-featured event and they offered $50,000. The catch was I had to agree to fight eight rounds.

I had long thought that would come up. When you say you’ll only fight four-rounders you are basically saying “I’m not a real fighter!” “Don’t take me seriously!” “I’m a side-show!”  This is what I thought back at the beginning, back when they called me “King Kong”.  I knew I was freak then and nothing had changed in the years that followed but my appetite for it.

I had time to prepare, some ninety days, but not enough time to get fit.  Besides at almost 42 I could never get into the same shape a 30-year-old could. So, I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it.  It was damn frustrating, the very thing that I wanted was right there, but I was not sure I could pick it up.

Of course, I decided to do it.  I fired Stan for his lack of confidence in me, and hired Mauricio, another fellow from the gym to be my trainer and manager.  We continued to work in Stan’s gym and he pretty much gave us the silent treatment.

That was okay – an understandable reaction.  And I didn’t have time to worry about that – I had work to do! I had get ready to go 8 rounds.

I focused like before on strength and endurance.  I did lots of running, lots of calisthenics.  After a couple weeks I could see improvement and that built up my confidence, thinking that I was going to be in the best shape of my life.

And I was. After eight weeks my weight was down to 306 and I had to order new trunks. 

At ten weeks, for the first time in my life I attended a press conference.  Sure, the main event guys were everyone’s focus but we got five or ten minutes on the platform as the co-featured fighters.  We exchanged some polite trash-talk and posed for photos with our fists raised.  It was pretty stupid, but I loved every minute of it.

My opponent was 24 years old, he was 6’-3” and fought around 220 pounds. His record was 12-2. (I was now 17-0 with 16 KO’s).  I was very pleased that they didn’t try to bullshit me like Stan had done before, this really was a step-up fight, and if I win this one, the next one will pay even more.

At fight time I weighed 304 and my opponent 224.  This was the lightest I had been in my career. So I felt good, confident.

When the fight started my opponent met me at the center of the ring, then started backing up.  He backed up till he reached the ropes then he ducked right and continued backing up.  This forced me to chase him.  And as I told you back at the beginning, I am not athletic enough to leap forward with big wide swings.  I could not hit him. He would pause for a moment, me lumbering toward him, and sting my eyes with a jab.

This was pretty much how it went.  Round after round, me pursuing, occasionally catching him on the ropes with a couple shots, many of which he blocked, and him retreating and jabbing and sometimes counter punching.

By the eighth round I felt like I had sandbags tied to each limb.  He was fresh as a daisy and that spelled the end for me.  He stopped retreating and started pot-shotting me, rapidly getting more and more comfortable in range, and by the middle of the round he was on flat feet, hammering away at my head.

Next thing I know I’m in bed, curled up and comfy with my pillows and quilt and dreaming of a ride in a colorful spaceship the size of a sports car.  I was zooming along, miles above the earth, having a great time, when “Five!” What was that? I looked to my left, and blinked and “Six!” I blinked two more times and “Seven!” I opened my eyes and “Where was I?” and “Eight!” And I heard a roar, a crowd cheering, and I saw a very happy man waving to the crowd across…

A boxing ring! I was fighting! Why can’t I stand up?

About that time the doctor showed up and started looking me over and saying things I couldn’t hear over all the noise.  Eventually he got me to my stool where I continued to spin for a time.  At length I slowly got up and walked toward my opponent who saw me coming and he raced over and lifted my right hand in the air.  The crowd roared at this gesture.  I looked at him and said “You done good.” He smiled.  “Did I do good?” I asked. “Fuck yeah, that was a great fight”. I later looked it up and if I could have made it to the end of the fight on my feet, even losing the eighth, I would have won by decision.  The judges gave me all the early rounds because I was more aggressive.

The sportswriters and talking heads all said the same thing, that I had exceeded expectations. That they had watched, as some described it “through their fingers” fearing that I was in over my head and going to get hurt.

They said I rocked him several times but was not quick enough to get in the second or third shot I needed to close the deal.

The powers that be (I heard someone call them “the tapeworm” once) decided that since they had paid me double for that last fight, that my contract with them had been fulfilled. I doubted that, but I sure wasn’t going to hire a lawyer to take on those guys.  They could hire five attorneys that could run circles around anybody I could afford.

So, I had some time to reflect, you know, and drink.  I know, when you’re a prizefighter and you get depressed, you’re supposed get hooked on cocaine, but I couldn’t afford that either.

Richard Brautigan once wrote “I feel like a sewing machine that just sewed a turd to a trash can lid”.  And if you don’t think it proper for a prize fighter to quote a hippie poet, well fuck you too.  I think that quote about described my mental state perfectly.

I got knocked out.  At age 42. They said I fought the fight of my life, but nobody wanted to take chance on me.  I get it.  I was too old to try to climb the hill.  Had I won, then yeah, maybe I get a shot at a gate-keeper fighter. But I didn’t and no-one wants to be the one responsible for hurting an old man.

It was like a death in the family.  This thing, this all-engrossing avocation, this fantasy, this enchantment that supported the weight of my ego…just disappeared… 

I already told you what happened to my ego – you know, the sewing machine.

And I did not know where to go, or how to get it back.

So in time I went back to the gym to apologize to Stan, to tell him he was right but I had to see it to believe it.

I told him I was available to knockout a stiff or two if he had a mind to it.  He said “Why don’t you try training a younger fighter?  You get the same rush from winning, you don’t have to watch your weight, and it hurts a lot less.”  So I started doing that.  It’s like drinking white wine when you really want a whiskey, but at least it scratches the right itch.

What’s that?  You want to know what did before I started fighting?  I did your mother, OK?  That ain’t the subject of this interview.  The thing I did before I fought I did while I fought too.  Up until that last fight, then I quit in order to train.  I’m still doing it, but I ain’t talking about it.  Same goes for my family. I ain’t talking about them either.  Just forget it.

My message?  I would say the point of my story is this: getting old sucks, but you adjust, you go on.

Peace out. That’s what the kids say.  Used to say. I don’t know.

Gypsy Legend

David Adeleye has a record of 9-0.  Big Whoop.  When I saw him on this card I thought maybe I’d get to see him fight somebody, but no.  He fought some dude that looked like me, fat and balding that is.  His record an uninspiring 9-8. He had lost four of his last five fights.

In July of ’21 I saw him fight another chubby dude (with a 3-9 record) and I berated him here, on this blog  for engaging in fake boxing.  I looked it up and the nine opponents that make up his 9-0 record have a combined record of 50 – 131.

For him it must be like a hobby, beating up old fat men.  I don’t want to see that.  They really need to stop putting this clown on TV until he steps up to fight a real fighter.

Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed the featherweight fight, with the underdog Ball beating up and stopping Isaac Lowe.

And while the main event provided no surprises, (I thought Fury would win by stoppage and he did), it was still entertaining.  That knockout was a thing of beauty, like the Klitschko left that flattened Pulev, one punch, right on the button.

*Boom*

(How many remember that it was the another single uppercut that Povetkin knocked Whyte out with?  Raise your hands.)

Those of you who have read this blog for a while will remember that I have had a problem with Tyson Fury on more than one occasion.  The first time was when people would call him the lineal champ after his big flake-out, while he was “dealing with his issues” and simultaneously denying Klitschko his rematch, twice.

In my mind, Klitschko and Joshua fought for the lineal title, and Joshua earned it, lost it to Ruiz, got it back, then gave it to Usyk.

That’s my alternate universe.

In this tilted world Fury made his comeback by fighting…Tom Schwartz. And was lauded by the media for his ‘bravery’ and such. Blech.

He eventually got around to fighting Wilder and in those fights he did impress.  His remarkable skill set was there for all to see, not to mention an iron chin.  I had to change my mind about him, and even took back some of the crappy things I said about him. 

Then, after the last Wilder fight, some sports-talker brought up that “it was time to think about Fury’s place in the pantheon of greats.”

Bitch, please.

I wrote on this before (See Good, not Great below).  This fight was only his second title defense, and now he is taking about retiring.  His record just is not that impressive.

Last night he was saying “I’m a legend, one of the best boxers in the world, maybe even ever” (paraphrased).  I started to rankle at this, but I realized that this was just a toned-down version of what Ali said about himself and I never minded that. 

Later I thought “maybe he’s right about the ‘legend’ thing.” 

That’s what we all said about Tyson (the original Tyson) – a legendary  boxer, but not an all-time great.  I think we wanted collectively to punish him for his many un-gentlemanly antics.  (Like how we have not put Pete Rose into the hall of fame.) We didn’t want to be seen as putting a stamp of approval on his behavior.  That ice has been melting for Iron Mike, though. People have been forgiving him, and if you do that, you have to compare him to others on the basis of his record, who he fought and how he fared.  And on that basis, he was great indeed.

I’ll concede “legend” for Tyson Fury.  He is devilishly hard to beat.  No-one has done it yet.  His last three fights were impressive, but that’s just it, it’s only three fights.  There are plenty of talented heavyweights out there that he could fight if he wanted to remembered as ‘great’.

I’d like to see him fight Usyk or Joe Joyce for instance.

But now we have to consider this:  Who is to fight for the lineal championship?  I suppose Usyk has to be #1.  Who will be #2? 

Turns out there is no controversy here. Box Rec, Transnational, (Teddy Atlas), the IBO, Ring Magazine all agree, Usyk is #1, Joshua is #2.  So the upcoming rematch will give us the new lineal champ.

If it were up to me Wilder would get to fight Ruiz or Joyce for the WBC belt. That would be fun.

I hope the big lad can make it stick, that he not return, a la Ali, ad nauseum, to the point of embarrassment or worse, personal injury. It would be a very happy ending (and one no doubt destined for a cinematic portrayal) to his hill-and-valley story.

Give ’em Hell, Vovel*

If life were a comic book or an action movie you’d know that one of these two is soon to put a right cross on Vladimir Putin’s lips that would knock him clean through a brick wall, or into the waiting mouth of a dinosaur or something.  Olexander Usyk would be their side-kick.  All three would then go home to a buxom wife and drink vodka straight out of the bottle while the closing credits rolled.  I can even hear the theme music, you can too.

But if you don’t know, those aren’t actors.  This is no movie. That’s Vladimir and Vitaly Klitschko, former heavyweight world champions.  Yes, they are on the front lines along with  Olexander Usyk (current heavyweight world champion), in real life, fighting the Russians.

All these men, and (Vasiliy Lomachenko too,) are proud Ukrainians.

God, “real life”, how I hate it at times.

I have seen these men in combat over 100 times, and I have never seen them look as grim as they do in that photo above.

I recently wrote about how I didn’t like to think of boxing as “entertainment”, that the sacrifices of these men (ironically, we call them “warriors”) deserve a more dignified characterization.  I felt that a black eye or a broken nose was as real as life needs to be.  I believe that war should have looking over it a supreme authority, someone to penalize a low blow, or a head butt, and to ring the bell to signal an end to hostilities.  

I have no place for rockets and madness.  That crazy son of a bitch fired on a nuclear power plant!   When you get to him, Vladimir, lean into it.  Don’t hold anything back.

But of course real life exists.  Of course these men are fighting for their homeland, their people.  There is an order to things, and real life far outweighs entertainment.

And in real life there is the “out there’ aspect, things beyond my control and even my comprehension.  Things like international politics.  I can’t begin to make sense of it and it worries me that other people claim that they can.  I think all I can do is pray, then wait and see what happens.

So then, the Joshua / Usyk rematch is indefinitely postponed.  We were supposed to get this one out of the way so we could resume hoping for a unification bout, one to name an undisputed champion.  But the four belts that Usyk owns will be unavailable for challenge till this madness stops. 

Of course, the tapeworm could start ‘stripping’ him of one title or another in what would be a singularly tasteless and callous act. They could then put those belts up for grabs for lesser men to fight for. 

I read where, since Usyk is unavailable, that Joshua is going to fight Otto Wallin.

Fury is fighting Dillian Whyte.

Wake me up when it’s over.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll watch both of those fights, but I am not inspired by either of them.  I grieve that we seem to be letting so many potentially great matchups fade to nothingness as all these men continue to age into the sunset.

Usyk is 35 years old already.  Fury is 33.  Joshua 32, Wilder 36.  Joe Joyce is 36 too, and even Andy Ruiz is 32.

Derek Chisora and Chris Arreola refuse to go away (38 and 41 respectively).

At least we haven’t heard from Shannon Briggs for a while (50).

Eddie Hearn is only 42.  Let’s put him in the ring with Luis Ortiz, who is also 42.  I’d definitely pay to see that one.

Don King and Bob Arum are both 90 years old.  They say only the good die young so I guess the fartheaded live forever.   Makes sense.

There is a good one coming up that is supposed to be a done deal: Hrgovic vs. Zhang.  Two undefeated prospects in a title eliminator.  The winner is supposed to be the IBF mandatory challenger for Usyk.  I hope they don’t scrub this because Usyk may be unavailable for a time.  But this one too may disappear like a mist.

Zhang is 38 by the way.

Anyway, it seems all the best matchups, (like Fury / Joshua) exist only in the mind of boxing fans; the loyal but beleaguered boxing fans.

*Vitaly’s nickname for Vladimir. You can hear him shouting this from the corner during his first fight against Samuel Peter.

The Ballad of Jonnie Rice

Back in July Jonnie Rice stepped in to replace Gerald Washington (who had covid) to fight undefeated prospect Michael Coffie.  This was supposed to be Coffie’s ‘gatekeeper’ fight, the win that would propel him into the upper echelon.

We remember Washington.  He defeated such men as Robert Helenius, Eddie Chambers and Ray Austin on his way up.  He made it that far, but then stalled out, being stopped by Wilder, Kownacki and “Big Baby” Miller.  Now he mans the door – if you want to break into the top ten, you have to go through him (or others like him).

But Jonnie Rice is not a gatekeeper.  He is a journeyman, a professional opponent, a sparring partner. His record the night of the Coffie fight was 13-6-1.  Coffie was his third undefeated opponent in a row, and he had lost the last two. 

The luster of the evening must have been somewhat tarnished in Coffie’s eyes.  He was going to fight a man who had been in with the very best, and thus raise his own stock.  But instead he found himself relegated to knocking out yet another chump, a journeyman, a tomato can.  Maybe he started at a psychological disadvantage, thinking he had very little to gain.

Meanwhile Rice recognized that this was an opportunity. While he had gone the distance with Ajagba, and was competitive, he later criticized his own performance. “I didn’t take the risk” of opening up offensively was how he characterized it.  In other words (mine) he was fighting like a sparring partner. Before the Coffie fight he vowed not to do that again, saying “It’s time for me to beat one of these guys.”

As you know, he did just that, stopping Coffie in the fifth round.

He earned $55,000 for that fight. He said that wasn’t enough for him to quit his job (bouncer).  But after he won the rematch, he got a three-fight deal.  He has quit his job, and for the first time, at the age of 34 he is a full-time boxer.

How many guys, in their thirties, after losing two in a row, just pack it in?  How many knuckle-down, saying “this is my last chance” and train harder?  Maybe that’s a fifty/fifty split.  The boxing world is full of tough guys, and not a lot of quitters.  But even tough guys have to look at the facts and weigh the pros and cons.  Everyone eventually gets to that place.

Many carry on when we wish they wouldn’t.  Tyson kept fighting past his prime. He said he needed the money.  Muhammad Ali never said why he couldn’t stop, he just couldn’t stop. 

How rare it is, when a 34 year old with a mediocre record and back-to-back losses knuckles down and makes for himself a whole new career.  If he keeps winning the competition will get tougher and the purses will get larger.

Jonnie Rice will fight on.  “But for how long?” you ask. 

Three fights long. That’s how long.

And God bless him.  He has given us all a thrill.  We love to see a fighter get up off the canvas and turn things around.  How much more when the man’s career seems to be over and yet he rises to new heights?

I remember, as we were taking our seats one night, hearing the ring announcer open his remarks by saying “Ladies and Gentlemen, for your entertainment, a night of professional boxing…” That phrase kind of startled me.  It was a little jarring to hear it described that way. I don’t like to think of boxing as entertainment, but in truth, it is.  I want it to be something more, the way that a symphony is more than a pop song, a sonnet more than a limerick.

It made me feel a little sordid, like an ersatz Nero watching the gladiators. 

I admire the skill, agility, craftiness, toughness and artistry of boxers, and their strength of will, their “heart”.  I’m a straight guy, but I am not unaware that many of these men (like Rice) are fine-looking individuals.  I admire this quality too. 

I am also aware of the enormous sacrifices they make, and the huge risks they take to present this spectacle to me.  To call it “entertainment” feels like a discount, an insult.

For every fighter we see on TV there are hundreds we don’t see, men that never make it that far. Blue collar men, and some drunks and ne’re-do-wells too.

They too contribute to the spectacle.  They are the rubble, the ballast that televised boxing is built on.  Without losers there could be no winners.  For every 10 – 0 prosect, there are ten men with a black eye and a concussion. Rice surely looked to be one of those before the events of last year.

And all these men too deserve our respect and our gratitude.

Rice is not yet a star, or even really a prospect.  All he has done thus far is earn for himself a chance at a better life.

Foreman and Ali were stars. I count them among my heroes.  The fame they achieved in the ring put the spotlight on otherwise exemplary lives.  They showed us how it is done.  Life that is.  They had their faults, surely.  But they both lived out their convictions.  In that they were examples to follow. 

We don’t all get to be examples.  We don’t all get Dragons to slay or mountains to climb.  I wrote about this before.  If you scroll way the hell down you can find a post entitled “The Big One” that talks about that.

Rice’s achievement, of course is much smaller, and so far is really only a potential achievement. Maybe a dragon with a small “d” has been given him. 

His story seems more like an endorsement of that cherished canard: “Never give up and you can make your dreams come true”.  We all like to cling to the belief that we are somehow in control of our destiny.  We look at Rice and say “See?” He did it! I can do it too!”

That’s still a fairy-tale, but when the Ballad of Jonnie Rice is written, I hope it ends on a high note.

Good, Not Great

I like what Wilder said after he declined to show Fury respect in the ring:  “…Last but not least I would like to congratulate Fury for his victory and thank you for the great historical memories that will last forever…”

Yeah, he’s right.  We won’t forget that one.  It was another classic, like their first fight. That Fury has a concrete block on his shoulders.  I mean that as a compliment.  Best chin since Foreman.  Too bad he doesn’t have more power.  That would make him great.

I heard a couple sports news guys suggesting its time to start talking about Fury’s place in the pantheon of greats.  I disagree.  He defeated Wilder twice, and he out-pointed a frustrated Klitschko by adopting the ‘Drunken Debutante” fighting style.

Other than those wins, I find his record lackluster, crummy, execrable.

He went the distance with the likes of Pianetta and Otto Wallin.  And while he was doing that, Wilder was fighting Luis Ortiz and Dominique Breazeale. 

And he stopped them both.

No, the Gypsy King has got a way to go before I’ll consider him a ‘great’.

Wilder, on the other hand…

“Hopefully, I proved that I am a true Warrior and a true King in this sport.”.

Yeah, he already had.

Back in the day, he fought a ‘bum-of-the-month’ assortment, taking it slow.

We all saw a big bully cracking drunks on the skull, not taking chances, not advancing.

Then in 2013 he knocked out Liakovich, then in 2014 Malik Scott. This earned him the right to fight Bermane Stiverne for the WBC title.

That fight went the distance. Deontay Wilder won the fight, against an accomplished boxer too, by boxing, and not merely by dropping bombs.  He won the WBC belt and defended it 10 times, ending all of those fights within the distance.

Fury didn’t defend the belts after defeating Klitschko. Not once. He went on a three-year hiatus, battling his demons and drinking and tooting and going crazy and bravely fighting back and blah blah blah.  I mean I’m sincerely glad the lad got his issues sorted out and he’s enjoying life.  Good on him. But that does not make him a great fighter.  That designation requires victories against top competition, defending his title against the best.

His only title defense so far was this last one, against Wilder.

Lets see what he does in the coming years. 

He may quit. Go out undefeated.

By the way,  Joe Louis won 27 title fights.  Klitschko, 25.  Muhammed Ali won 22 title fights.  Tyson Fury, 3.

He has a way to go.

A Surprise, But more of an Embarrassment

I can forgive the loss.  The possibility of greatness is not an obligation.  He doesn’t owe us a spectacular career.  It was fun watching him up till now.  But that last one was frankly an embarrassment.

Finland’s Robert “The Nordic Nightmare” Helenius (R) and Poland’s Adam “Babyface” Kownacki (L) fight during a 12-round featured rematch at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 9, 2021. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

I did not expect him to slow down, to fight off the backfoot. That was the surprise. I thought he would double-down on his four-alarm-fire, both-arms-swinging assault technique.  It worked for him the last time.  Don’t forget, before Hellenius knocked him down, Kownacki was peppering him with both hands.  But he chose incomprehensibly to fight from long range with a man who had longer arms.

Hell, the fight became target practice for Hellenius, and he had Kownacki’s eye closing in the first round.

So, he was frustrated, he was scared, he felt sure that Hellenius was going to knock him out again, that he had no chance at winning.  So he was immature, and he was an embarrassment.  He punched Hellenius in the balls.

On purpose, repeatedly. 

The talking heads correctly said he was looking for a way out.

It reminded me of a film I saw (and I have seen so many) I couldn’t tell who it was that made film, regarding Ali / Liston, the rematch.  This fellow pointed out something I hadn’t noticed before.  Right at the opening bell, Ali meets Liston at the center of the ring, and *Boom!* *Boom*! A left and a right, both hard, flush shots.  They happen so quickly that I had (as did the guy calling the fight) overlooked them.  Go see – watch for yourself.

Then he proceeded to dance, moving around the ring flicking out his punches like lightning, and ducking, shucking and jiving, slipping everything Liston threw.  Liston could not find him with anything.

He had to be thinking “This is going to be just like the last time. How can I get out of this?”

Just then, a flash knockdown!  A right to the temple knocked him down.  “I might as well let this be it” thought the already beaten man.  He stayed down, and despite Jersey Joe Walcott’s comedy routine, was ruled loser by first round KO.  He avoided the pain of continued humiliation.  He could take a punch, he couldn’t take being made to look ineffectual, insipid, inert.

There have been lots of guys that impressed, amassed an undefeated record, that accumulated a following only to end up too close to the sun and like Icarus fall to the sea.  We all thrill to watch the meteoric rise (and how does that phrase make any sense?) but the meteoric thud is distasteful affair, and we look away as soon as we can.

Kownacki’s record had a blemish,  he had a single “L”.  Lots of guys have one loss.  Even champions have a loss or even two, or more.  It happens. But now his record bears the freight of a used diaper.  The stink of that “DQ” is going to limit his choices of opponents, and will hamper his negotiating leverage in his second attempt at the comeback trail. And he lost more than just the fight,  I think he lost a lot of fans, this one included.

Excited for Usyk…Sort of

Well that makes a mess of things. Didn’t expect Usyk to win. 

But hats off to the lad, he did good.  He climbed the mountain.

He looks to me like a man that loves to fight.  He wants to punch you in the head.  Joshua looks like he punches you in the head because he’s been taught to.  Usyk dances like Lomachenko.  Joshua plods.  Usyk’s boxing: A+,  Joshua’s, A-.

But now comes the stretch of interminable months for the damned rematch (I mentioned somewhere before, they ought to outlaw the ‘immediate rematch’ clause from these fighter’s contracts.)  We just saw Joshua / Usyk.  We don’t want to see it again, at least not immediately.

We want to see Joshua / Ortiz or Joyce / Usyk or Ajagba / Wilder. 

I know, my imaginary match ups are so attractive as to be almost lurid.  Your pulse rate went up, I saw it.  Just imagining such an event makes one feel naughty like a porn-surfer.

But no, the puritanical tapeworm will not us let have the thrill of such fights.  It will keep on delaying and rematching and waiting for the best fighters to get too old…

Well lets hope Fury hangs around long enough to fight Usyk, assuming Usyk wins the rematch and Fury bags the trilogy.  That would still result in (perhaps by the end of 2022) an undisputed champion.

This makes the formerly gray-with-disdain third installment of Fury / Wilder start to sparkle like a Christmas present.  I’m genuinely looking forward to it.  Let’s see who gets the chance to stand in line for umpteen years waiting for the chance to be called “undisputed.”

Sorry, I’m a little more grumbly today than usual.  If Joshua had won, it would be like this fight never took place.  Bing bang boom, Fury beats Wilder and we’re back on for the big showdown.

Having said that, if I were a gambler I would pick Fury to win this upcoming three-pete, but the old-school American boxing fan in me wants to see Wilder pull off the upset.  I know, just a couple months ago I was calling Wilder “the Pooper” and expressed my hope that Fury would knock him out again.  I changed my mind.  I’m just wacky like that.

Here’s a puzzle for you.  I just looked it up, and Boxrec, the IBO, WBA, WBO and IBF do not have Deontay Wilder in their top ten.   Oy.  Go figure.  Here’s a guy that’s not even in the top ten that may well be the lineal champion in a couple weeks.

Joyce vs. Takam

First, let me point out that I correctly predicted the outcome of this fight.  I correctly said that Takam’s age would be a factor, and that Joyce would knock him out.  It seemed I was right on both counts.  Takam spent a lot of energy in the opening rounds (I gave him rounds 1, 2, & 4).  But then it appeared that he slowed down in round 5 and Joyce started taking him apart.

Takam was staggered by a left hook in the opening second of round 6, and then was on the receiving end of a shoe-shine to the head.

I understand that Takam disagreed with the stoppage, but watching it live I thought the ref was a little late stepping in.  Takam took an awful lot of punches to the head.  Remarkable chin on that one. Most heavyweights would have been on the canvas.

The talking heads pointed out that Joyce started slow, and got hit a number of times.  They seemed to insinuate that this was an  exposure of a weakness, a liability.  What I noticed was that he never panicked or discarded his game plan. He was pretty much emotionless in his corner, wearing a face of concentration and determination.  There was a moment when he disagreed with his corner and apparently spoke sharply to them, but I couldn’t hear it.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it here:  I’m a big Joyce fan.  I love his approach to the game – that is his “fast track” to the title.  From day one he has sought and fought the best opposition.  Most fighter pad their resume with wins over inferior opponents, like David Adeleye who (on the undercard) fought one Mladen Manev, whose record before the fight was 3 – 9.  Not exactly an inspiring matchup.  (Adeleye is a Brit, so maybe he’s emulating Fury and his fights with Schwartz and Wallin.)

So, now we wait.

We wait for Joshua / Usyk, we wait for Kownacki / Helenius, we wait for Ajagba / Sanchez, we wait for Fury / Wilder.

We wait for Joyce vs. ???

Which one of the tall ones has the cojones to face this man? 

It would be kismet if Usyk beat Joshua then had to face Joyce.  There’s bad blood there, you know.  Usyk decisioned him as an amateur, and I’ve heard him say it a number of times “I want Usyk”. Today he called out the winner of Joshua / Usyk.  I  hope they make that happen.

OK, I Guess I’m Over it

Since Wilder’s and Fury’s people moved to make the fight actually happen, and didn’t wrangle endlessly about the split, the ring size or whatever, and what must be in record time for a title fight, I’ll retract the “Pooper” moniker.

But damn.

When it rains it pours.

Four fights in one day.  Eight heavyweights,  three of the top guys are fighting, two of them facing each other,  (Fury vs Wilder)  we could see the coronation of a new heavyweight king on July 24.

The other is fighting a shameful sham of a farce of a travesty.   Joe Joyce is fighting George Takei.  I mean sure, I remember when he took his shirt off in Star Trek and fought with a sword – he had some pretty good moves back then.  But come on, that was 54 years ago.  The guy is ancient, and no way is he a heavyw… wait – what’s that?

It’s George Takam, not Takei.

Correction, it’s Carlos Takam.  This guy is a heavyweight boxer.  A real one.  He’s 39 – 5.  He’s been KO’d by Joshua, Chisora and Povetkin; which is not exactly an embarrassment.  He lost a decision to Joseph Parker too, and that’s not embarrassing either.  But if the pundits are right in putting Joyce in the top ten, he should beat this fellow easily.  It’s seems that Takam just can’t seem to bust into that top echelon.  When he gets a fight with an elite fighter, down he goes.  But what really makes this fight a sham of a farce of a flim-flam is this:  Takam is forty years old.  That’s four to the “O” to the “or-tee”.  Grandpa don’t stand a chance,

Joyce by KO.

Then we got Kownacki / Hellenius: the rematch.  I was surprised at the outcome the last time but I still expect Kownacki to come out firing from both barrels.  I just can’t picture him fighting defensively.  Even though he got peppered in the last fight, I think he’s going to go even harder and try to knock Hellenius out in the first round.

Hellenius knows what’s coming, he just has to keep from getting overwhelmed.  He had the right answer last time, fighting fire with fire, and while it looked to me like maybe Kownacki was ahead, Hellenius put one right on the button.  The shot that put Kownacki down the first time, (that wasn’t called a knockdown,) that was the decisive blow.  Kownacki got up, but he was not all there, and he never got his feet under him.  The end came shortly after.

I’m still going with Kownacki by KO.    

Efe Ajagba is fighting Frank Sanchez.  Both men are undefeated.  This is astonishing.  This is the second bout of its kind this year.  A few months ago, Joe Joyce fought Daniel Dubois while they were both undefeated.  It seems the lethargic pace the tapeworm  and the tall ones take is not endemic to the sport, but is perhaps limited to those who have a claim to the highest purses.  Some of those who are fighting to get to the highest purses are still willing to take a chance it seems.

Sanchez is 19-0. His opponents have a cumulative record of 207 – 164, or 55.8%.  Meanwhile, Ajagba is 15 – 0, having fought men with a combined record of 170 / 42.  That’s 80.2%.  Sanchez therefore is the untested one, in uncharted territory, is in over his head, and is going down.

Ajagba by KO.

Lastly we have the Wanker and the Whiner, and the Whiner is pissed.  Let’s see if he shows up all business, that is minus the theatrical costumes and such.  Let’s see if he’s wound tight as a clock again, or if he’s got some of his confidence back. He was outsmarted and outboxed the last time, and got beat but good.  But I guarantee you he has thought of nothing else since.  Maybe he’s got a surprise for Fury.

Or maybe the Wanker will undo and dismantle his man again.  That feels kind of likely.  I just hope it’s not like the Wilder / Stiverne rematch.  I like Wilder and I don’t want to see him retired yet.

Either outcome is okay by me.  It would be fun if Wilder won, because there would be a great exchange of hardware.  The lineal title (screw the Ring Magazine title) would change hands as well.  Our man from Alabama would get to scribe his name in the pantheon of legends, names like Mike Tyson, Muhammed Ali, Joe Louis.  No matter what happened after that the world will forever recognize that he climbed that mountain. 

Then the clamor would them be for a Joshua / Wilder fight, and I would happily spend money for that PPV.

If Fury wins, then Joshua / Fury is back on, and we are looking at an undisputed champion.  And that’s pretty cool too. I think Fury wins against Joshua.  It’s the Fury / Wilder bout that intrigues me now.

(No prediction this time.)

The conventional wisdom is that both Joyce and Ajagba can put themselves in the championship mix with wins on the 24th.  If Kownacki can beat Hellenius convincingly, then I think he does too.  It’s time to get these guys some bouts with the likes of Ruiz, Usyk, and Whyte.  Are you listening, tapeworm?

Wilder the Pooper

Bah!

A pox on them!  A pox on them all!  Damn the ‘sanctioning bodies’ and damn the tapeworm and damn the tall ones three! They’re all a bunch of Marie Antoinette’s the lot of them! 

First, at long last, after months of bickering, we finally had a fight date!  Wonder of wonders and miracle of miracles, an actual fight for the undisputed championship.  This was slated for ‘epic’ status in my own personal history.  I’d have to check, but I bet you can count on your fingers the number of “undisputed” fights have taken place in my lifetime.  This was going to be historic.

Then, a mere three days later, here comes tall one number 3 with his court ruling and poops over the whole thing. 

(I’m referring to the legal action by Deontay “Sashay” Wilder that put the kibosh on the August 14th fight between Anthony “the Little Prince” Joshua and Tyson “the Tosser King” Fury.)

Does this clown realize how pissed off the entire boxing world is at him right now?

“Hey, you! This is prize fighting, not brief filing  Get your ass out of court and back in the gym and get ready to fight someone.  Anyone, I don’t care. Going to court is what Don King does and we don’t need any more Don Kings”.

If he gets his third fight against Fury the entire planet will be rooting for Fury to break him in half.

They have rules in place, if you don’t defend your belt in over a year (or however long) they take it away from you and let real fighters fight for it.  It’s time they started enforcing those rules. 

Let them all rot, those prima donnas, those talkers, those pretend fighters.  Let them argue and fuss and call each other names and never fight again, if this truly is what they want.  Eventually people will stop paying attention.  Their money will run out (the tapeworm will see to that) and they will eventually be reduced to sending pissy text messages (“I h8 U, bitch” – “LOL UR stupid”) to each other. 

(“Oh! Fury sent the poop emoticon, that’s a foul.  He should have a point taken away for that.”)

Fury and Wilder each had four fights in a span of 15 months between  December 2018 and February 2020. Joshua had three fights in a slightly longer span.  But since then, neither Fury or Wilder has fought for over 15 months and Joshua has only fought one in the last 17.

Joe Joyce has fought 7 times in that same in the time it took one of the “big three” to fight three or four.  Ajagba fought nine times.

 I’m a Joyce man.  I’m an Ajagba man.  

I’m even a Zhang man.

Did you hear about Zhang Zhilei? Seems he had some illness at his last fight, not poor training. He looked damn good in the first three rounds but ran out of gas through no fault of his own.  He had kidney failure, liver damage and anemia.  Don’t know what all that spells out but I hope that they can get the big fellow back on his feet and at full strength soon.  If he can get his health issues sorted out he’ll be back in the in the mix.

Ruiz vs. Arreola

April 30, 2021

Chris Arreola put up a good account of himself in his last fight. Against Adam Kownacki he went the distance and in so doing set a record for most blows thrown by a heavyweight. The fight wasn’t particularly competitive in that he lost most of the rounds, maybe all, but in each one he was engaged and competing. His performance inspired a blog post too (see ‘Props to the Nightmare’).

In that post I mentioned that he had said before the fight that if he didn’t win, he would retire. I defended that decision, saying it was great to see a warrior go out in one piece, his dignity intact.

“I’m too old to start over, and that’s where I’ll be if I lose, back to square one.”

So I cringed when I first heard of the matchup. But then I thought about it: Why would Arreola change his mind about this?

No doubt if he pulls off the upset, there will be a big payday yet in his future. Maybe even another good showing in a losing effort will yield for him another lucrative fight. And even if he gets stopped, he is still getting $500,000 plus a share of the pay-per-view receipts for this one (maybe as much as $1,500,000).

He is forty years old, but in a sense he is still in his prime, if he can make that kind of money. It’s his profession, what else is he going to do?

As for Ruiz, everybody wants to see him trimmed down. I’ve read that he is down to 255. I’ve seen some photo-shopped pictures, too. We’ll all see the real Andy tomorrow night. I can tell you, 255 on a 6’-2” frame is not trim. If that number is accurate, he’ll still have some upholstery on him.

And this won’t matter against Arreola. He has always fought with a spare tire too. What will make a difference is Ruiz’s speed and superior boxing skills.

Ruiz by stoppage.


May 2, 2021

Arreola continues to be the story. He continues to surprise me. First, he weighed in at 228 – the lowest of his professional career. Second, he’s an Angelino. I was under the mistaken impression that he was Mexican by birth and not an English speaker. During the pre-fight hype he said that this fight was not about the paycheck, that he wanted to best Ruiz since Ruiz had done what Arreola felt he should have done (win the world title). Given the amount of work he put into training, I believe Him.

He has changed his mind about competing at the top. He plans to continue.

And he fought a good fight. Good enough that he got all pissy at the judges scorercards, thinking he had won more rounds than the one or two they gave him. He was wrong, but I believe he was sincere in that belief. (I was a little surprised that he went all potty-mouth in front of his six year old son.) In his mind, it was a close fight.

He had a great fight strategy that had him winning until Ruiz figured it out. Too bad he didn’t seem to have a plan B. Ruiz racked up round after round with hand speed, counter punching and boxing finesse.

As for Ruiz, I was a little disappointed. Sure, he won, and won convincingly. But we all knew he would do that. He was a 20 – 1 favorite. I wanted him to mow Arreola down in 1 or 2 rounds. Had he done that the tapeworm

would likely put him at the front of the line to face one of the tall-and-lazy ones. You know, the ones that won’t fight each other.

I suppose now he’ll have to face Ortiz or Wilder or Whyte. Or, God help us all, a rematch with Arreola. Can’t we make that illegal? You can have a return bout, just not back-to-back.

And they should start stripping titles from these wankers that would rather dicker over money than actually fight. I mean suppose you were looking at a fifteen million dollar payday. Would you put the whole thing in jeopardy by insisting on sixteen?

Me either.

Wankers.

Dubois not a Quitter

I enjoyed the Joseph Parker / Junior Fa fight.  I tuned in for the Povetkin / Whyte turnabout and I am tantalized by the prospect of a Joe Joyce / Olexsander Usyk bout.   I’ve even heard a distant murmur about Fury and Joshua (or the buttheads that surround them) coming to terms,  but it’s probably best not to get our hopes up.  Don’t want to jinx it.  Counting chickens you know.

Setting aside those things for the moment though, I’m afraid I have to go all Karen on your ass.  Some of you.  Many of you.  Those of you that criticized Dubois as a quitter, that is.

Bitch, please.

First question, the obvious one: “Have you ever had your eye socket fractured?”

That’s what I thought.

For you liars that raised your hand: “After it was broken, was it then struck a hard blow by a 6’-6”, 260 pound man?”  Did you then knuckle down, draw on your inner reserves, curl into a fetal position and cry like schoolgirl?  Because that’s what I would have done.

My wife will occasionally walk through the room when I’m watching a fight.  She’ll pause, and say something like “It’s just so …violent!”  or something equally enlightening. She is expressing her revulsion at the sight two men hitting each other hard enough to draw blood, or knock each other down.  This is an understandable reaction and evidence that my wife and I live in a civilized society.  We don’t throw Christians to the lions for entertainment or execute criminals in a public square.  And it is not for cruelty’s sake that we watch boxing.

I have explained to her that while it looks brutal, what may not be apparent is that the fighters have the ability to stop the violence at any time.  Any time he feels he’s taking a beating and he doesn’t want to any more, he simply has to take a knee, and the beating stops.  Period.  The End.  Or, he can take a knee, clear his head for a moment, then stand back up and re-engage in the fight. The choice is always his. 

Without that option we’re all just cheering for torture.

Roberto Duran said “No mas”.  Joe Frazier quit on his stool after the 14th round in Manilla.  Liston remained seated after six. Dwight Muhammad Qawi turned his back on George Foreman. 

Bert Cooper refused to answer the bell for round three against Foreman.  Both he and Qawi cited concern for their health “I thought I was going to die” (or words to that effect) as their reason for quitting.  Qawi received the raspberries of derision, Cooper didn’t get paid.  (Of course it later came to light that he had been out partying and was probably hung over for the fight). 

That’s harsh.  That’s cold. That’s what Jack Johnson called ”the stern business of pugilism.”  You sign a contract to fight, you gotta fight.  Cooper’s purse was withheld because he “suffered no apparent injury”.  George put the fear of the Lord in him with several thudding body shots, but he may not yet have broken any ribs.

Cooper needed to come out for more and at least gotten knocked down or something so that everybody knew what he knew – that he was a beaten man. The crowd just saw a man not fighting.

Not so Dubois.  He fought nine rounds.  I don’t know which round the fracture occurred in, but his eye was swollen early on, and got progressively worse.  It could have been that last jab that did it.  Regardless, the socket was broken and Dubois felt a tremendous jolt of pain when he got tagged in the tenth, and he took a knee.

His brain correctly interpreted the signals being sent to it from the eyeball region, saying “Ow!  Something is wrong!”  He didn’t know that his eye socket was broken, but he believed that he had been injured, and he was correct.

In Cooper’s defense, watch his fight against Michael Moorer. They both showed tremendous heart, trading multiple knockdowns.  He lost that fight, but he was no quitter.  I suspect he was telling the truth when he said he feared for his life after getting whacked by Big George.  I’m sure his poor choices the night before contributed to that outcome, and maybe it was just that his purse was withheld, but I bet he wasn’t lying about the pain or the fear.

Of course we prefer that a fighter get off the floor and stage a comeback. It’s thrilling.  It’s the best outcome for a spectator.  Think of Rubio vs. Lemieux or Algieri vs Provodnikov.  I’m sure Cooper and Dubois would have preferred that too, but ‘no apparent injury’ isn’t the same as ‘no injury’.

I broke my leg in 2012 – fell down some steps and ended up with my left foot pointed 180 degrees in the wrong direction.  I immediately turned it back around.

We called for an ambulance, telling them I had broken my leg.  A couple minutes later, as the EMT’s were loading me onto that surf-board looking thing, I heard one of them radioing the nearby hospital, giving them my age and other particulars, including the comment “No obvious deformation”.  He was expressing some skepticism as to the nature of my injury. 

The point is that I knew my leg was broken, even though no one else could see it.

We have cut men, referees, even a ring physician, all there to protect the fighters from injury.  Sometimes they intervene and the fighter objects.  More often than not the fighter objects. So when a fighter says “I better quit” maybe we should extend to him the benefit of the doubt.

Joshua vs. Pulev

December 11, 2020

I’ve been waiting for this one for quite some time, like Dubois / Joyce it seemed like the day would never come. But here we are.

I’ve thrown some shade Joshua’s way in the past mainly because I’m pretty juvenile and I’m a huge Klitschko fan.  After the frustration of Fury’s becoming a boxing champ by not boxing, followed by the frustration of him flaking out on the rematches, I would rather have seen Joshua get knocked out.  Then Klitschko could have retired as champion, with one more enormous plume in his well-feathered cap.

C’est la vie.

Pulev is to me, a puzzlement.  He is 28-1 with only 14 knockouts.   He  He’s 6’-4” and fights around 250 – a big man.  How come he can’t knock anybody out?  He’s fought some real fighters recently. He beat Derek Chisora, Samuel Peter, Kevin Johnson, Hughie Fury – I guess I’ll have to look these up on youtube and see how that happened.  I just can’t picture it.  I’ve only seen the Klitschko fight.  In that, he was embarrassed.  Not only did he get knocked down 4 times, but like so many other Klitschko opponents, his offence was stymied to the degree that he looked like an imposter.  Like Leapai or Pianneta you had to wonder “is this guy a real boxer?  He looks like he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do.” 

That’s what I expect to see tomorrow.  Joshua will stymy and embarrass Pulev.

December 12, 2020

Well I wasn’t wrong.   I didn’t see the CompuBox numbers but it had to be very lopsided. And Pulev looked so small!  I mean they were supposed to be nearly the same weight and only two inches apart in height but it looked more like there was six inches and twenty pounds of lean muscle between them.

I was charmed to see him smiling, blood on his face, giving Joshua a high-five in what looked to be a hearty congratulation after the fight.  I’ve seen fighters do that before, but not Pulev.  When Klitschko decapitated him, he said “He got lucky” and “I want a rematch”.  Maybe he was just glad to get one more big payday at 39 years old. 

Or maybe he’s nuts.  It was pretty creepy how he grinned while getting his ass kicked in round three. He made it a point to show the crowd and the cameras that he was grinning, lifting his mug up into the light for all to see, almost getting nailed with a right cross as a consequence.  He mugged for Klitschko too after the first knockdown.  I guess maybe he’s just not used to getting hit that hard and it brings out the Pee-Wee in him “I meant to do that.”

I hope he retires with some dignity left, and doesn’t wear himself out trying to get a third crack at the title.

Eddie Hearn indicated that he might possibly consider a unification bout with Tyson Fury in the next year. Joshua said he wanted that fight sooner. Let’s start a pool – how many months before this fight takes place? Or maybe just go over/under on 24 months.

As a fan one can only hope.  Sigh wistfully and hope.

Meanwhile lets see these other fellows mix it up.  It’s time for Ruiz to make an appearance. Kownacki needs to get back in the saddle too.  Dominique Breazeale needs a match, as does Junior Fa. Joyce has called out Usyk – let’s see that fight.

As for Joshua, it was good to see him engaging again, you know, actually throwing punches with evil intent, not playing patti-cake  like he did in the Ruiz rematch.  He looked to be back in top form, his confidence restored. 

My buddy (that I was watching with) was rooting for Pulev, having become exasperated with Joshua’s “I’m God’s gift to boxing” comments.  They irritated me too, but I think that’s just a necessary attitude for a champion to have.  Like Iron Mike said you have to believe “I’m the greatest fighter God ever blew air into” to succeed.  Certainly his namesake likes to boast. And if those two ever get together (and please God, let it happen) I will not be making a prediction, just watching eagerly.

Dubois v. Joyce

Two boxers in the ring

The boxing world owes both Dubois and Joyce a big old debt of gratitude.  That was refreshing.  That was bracing.  That was no fake boxing – that was a bout of real import.  I am sure those that inhabit the tapeworm (see “And the New…“) hated it because, with any luck, the fans will start to demand fights of real import and will turn their back on the foregone conclusion bout and, with a flip of a mental foot, brush the virtual kitty litter of disdain over the whole sordid thing.

Probably not. While it was fake boxing and it was frustrating to watch Tyson Fury beat up Tom Schwarz, the fact is I did watch, because there is always that chance…. Remember Andy Ruiz?

But what these guys (Joyce and Dubois) did was marvelous. They risked their undefeated records for a chance to break into the top ten, get that much closer to a title shot. And the possibilities are tantalizing.

And give the greater measure of credit to Joyce. At his age, he was taking the greater risk. The comeback trail is likely too long for one 35 years old. He has said he would do this publicly from the outset – he calls it the “fast track” to the title. He has from the beginning sought tougher competition, eschewing the normal introductory years, beating up on inferior or washed-up talent, stacking his record with ill-gotten, farcical “Ws” like everyone else.

He is 12-0, and his 12 opponents have a combined winning percentage of .866. Compare that to Fury’s first 12 opponents at .622 or Joshua’s at .677. Wilder was the most cautious of this group – his first 12 opponents won only 53% of the time. (Dubois’ first 12, by the way, a very respectable .803).

It’s amazing that the tapeworm ( ) let this happen.

“Jerry, you ignorant slut! Wilder fought Fury twice now. Those were fights of real import! When Joshua had the rematch with Ruiz, that was a fight of real import too. What are you talking about?”

True – those were real fights, not fakes. But they came at the price of seemingly endless negotiations, offers and counter offers, maneuvering, misleading, ducking, and dodging.

“He doesn’t want to fight me!”

“I made the offer!”

“I never received a contract!”

You don’t know what to believe, and you sure don’t know when to tune in to see a fight. (“Maybe in 2022.”)

And don’t forget, Ruiz / Joshua was supposed to be as fake as an eleventy-seven dollar bill. The fact that Ruiz won is what made the return bout real.

And how long have we been clamoring for a Wilder / Joshua matchup? Years. The answer is measured in years.

Prior to that, how long did it take Mayweather / Pacquiao to come together?

Look – I understand there has to be some level of ring-engineering. I defend it here (see The Rhyme and Reason of Matchmaking). but too often the over-zealousness for the bottom line () leads to the farce, fake boxing, wanking (see Hail to the Tosser King and The Tosser King Redux).

Nobody wants to see that.

Well, at least I reserve the right to complain about it.

The sad fact is that there is an audience for fake boxing. On the same day Dubois fought Joyce, Mike Tyson fought Roy Jones Junior in a spurious pay-per-view event that also featured a retired basketball player (Nate Robinson) getting knocked unconscious by some “youtuber” – whatever that is.

But there have always been bastardizations of the fight game. Manute Bol fighting Refrigerator Perry comes to mind or for that matter Mayweather v. Conor McGregor.

A more extreme example was what they once called a “battle royale” – a ring full of (black) men, blindfolded. The “winner” was the last man standing. That spectacle had nothing to do with the sweet science, it was just cruelty. That Nate Robinson fight was cruelty too. So was Fury v. Schwarz. Violence as entertainment: tough man contests, bare-knuckle boxing (there’s folks out there doing that now too), underground fight clubs….

The UFC started as just another bastardization of boxing. In its infancy it was unchecked violence. Head butts, kicking a downed man, even punches to the groin were allowed at first. Sadly, there is an audience for that, and there is an audience for boxing. They are different. Tyson’s tom-foolery will not ruin boxing. Let him have his sideshow. He’s certainly earned the celebrity status that allows him to draw a crowd.

Back to Joyce / Dubois. Dubois was favored – I don’t know why. The thing turned out pretty much as I expected. Joyce beaned him throughout the bout with a potent jab, giving him a big owie early in the fight that continued to worsen and eventually ended the contest. Dubois twice had a rally that looked like big trouble for Joyce. Especially the first one (I think in round 2). I thought the big fellow was going down.

The difference (what I didn’t expect) was Joyce’s chin. He made it through the Dubois rallies unhurt, it seemed. A marvel, and I’m sure the opposite of what the odds makers expected.

So lets get this Pulev farce behind us, (yes, I predict a Joshua win), yawn through Fury’s next fight (I think it’s Woody Allen) [now postponed until 2021], and let’s get Zhang and Ajagba and Joyce in the mix.

And enough with the rematches already! If you get beat, just say, “He was the better man tonight,” or “My fight plan didn’t work,” or “I got my ass beat.” Go back to the drawing board, sure, but fight somebody else. Looking at you, Dillian.

I can’t wait for this covid crap to be over…

Of course I watched Povetkin vs. Whyte.  It was the first heavyweight fight of note in God knows how long.  And I enjoyed he crap out of it too.  There was a fair amount of drama, and a surprise ending.  Who doesn’t love an underdog win?  The lack of fans still bugs me, though.  It’s confusing – when someone gets knocked down, there should be an accompanying roar.  I mean there always has been.  Without the roar I find myself asking “What happened? Was that a slip?”

But worse than that is the number of masked men.  All the cornermen had them, the cameramen, and even the ref was wearing one. Of what possible use are they?  Are they suggesting that they could not check these men’s temperatures, or swab their noses before the fight to determine if they were carrying the bug?  Are they suggesting that even with the numbers reduced to, what, a dozen, that it was simply too many to test?

Welcome. To. Florida.

I think they refused to allow that measure of common sense to win the day because they wanted to present an optic. They wanted to show the world a group of hard, virile, and “toxic”. males kowtowing to PC nonsense.  It’s exactly the same reason they coerce football players into wearing pink on Sundays.

They don’t like football, and they don’t like boxing.  In their minds violent sports are a key part of the socialization that molds young innocent boys into overly-aggressive toxic males, soldiers of the patriarchy.  They do launch frontal assaults too.  If you look for them you can find Op-ed pieces decrying the number of injuries that occur, dain bramage, etc. calling for a complete ban on contact sports. But they also work these more subtle angles, suggesting rule changes, shortening durations, adding padding, and so on. It’s the little-by-little strategy. 

It’s like the guy that left the construction site every day with his tool belt and lunch box in a wheelbarrow, and every day the security guard checked his lunch box and tool belt and never found a thing.  Finally he asked “I know you’re stealing something, but I can’t figure out what it is. Please tell me.”  And the guys says “Wheelbarrows.”

They are thinking “First we will make them wear the mask, then we will take away their sports and then their guns and automobiles!”

Actually it’s probably more like “If we can make these tough guys do this dumb thing, It will be that much easier to get the next wheelbarrow past the hoi polloi.”

“Let them have their transgender restrooms.  The Cleveland Browns are wearing pink, I guess anything goes!”

In the preceding paragraphs I used the word “they” over a dozen times.  “Aha!” You say.  “Who then is this “they” that you revile?  Do “they” even exist? Or is your tinfoil hat screwed on too tight?”

Shut up. 

They are the ones that oppose boxing, that want to abolish football, guns and cars that burn fossil fuels.  These are the ones that are sure that they know better than you do what is good and right. They believe that you are ignorant, and that if you were only better informed (Speak Out Against Violence!) you would join them.  

You call them what you will.  I will stick with “they”.

But they and their monkeyshines didn’t ruin the event. It was an interesting matchup, a top contender versus an old wizened warrior.  And I don’t mean old in the sense of creaky or derelict.  Povetkin seems to be as solid as ever.  And Whyte is the boogeyman that nobody wants to fight, it seems.

And they looked pretty even, and to me, well matched, Despite Whyte’s lead on the scorecards. Each round was competitive.  Then the two knockdowns happened, but Povetkin didn’t really seem hurt by either.  It did seem though that Whyte had sorted him out and was soon to lower the boom.

The combination that ended with a left uppercut to the point of the chin was thrown by Povetkin, not Whyte, and “boom” indeed.  Sheer brilliance.  Fast, too.  The old warrior still has a good chin and some spring in his step.

It was not that big of a surprise.  Klitschko beat him, but felt he had to cheat to do so.  I was more impressed with Povetkin’s restraint, not bitching about the holding, than I was with Wladimir’s knockdowns.  His only other loss was to Anthony Joshua, and to my way of thinking was ahead in that fight when he got caught in the 7th.

I was initially pumped, thinking we would get to see Povetkin in another marquee matchup.  Maybe against Ortiz, or Ruiz, or even Fury.  But no, it seems they had one of those damnable rematch clauses in their contract and Whyte wants the rematch, is vowing to knock him out.

I don’t really want to see a rematch.  I don’t really want to see Fury / Wilder III either.  Miocic and Cormier just fought their “rubber match” in the UFC, and I didn’t want to see that, either. I wish they would just move on, fight other guys, give someone else a shot.

There have been numerous worthy trilogies over the years – Ali / Frazier leaps to mind.  Ali / Norton too.  Pacquiao fought Marquez four times (a “quadrogy”?) but these series did not occur consecutively.  They happened over a number of years with fights against other opponents intervening.  I mean I love (LOVE) watching Ohio State butcher the Wolverines every year, but I don’t want to see them do that every week.  It would just get a little stale.

There’s lots of good heavyweights out there, waiting for their chance.  Ajagba, Zhang, Joyce, Usyk, Fa.  Let’s stop the never ending rematches, clear our schedules and book some new fights (not Tom Schwartz, Tyson) against new and exciting talent.  Or old and cagey talent, like Alexander here.

Post-Apocalyptic Boxing

Once upon a time, a lifetime ago it seems, I watched a night of boxing held in an empty ballroom.  We were innocents then, virgins as it were to quarantines and masks and watching sports reruns on YouTube.  Back then it was supposed that the thing to be avoided was a large crowd, so they held the fights with just the principals, their corner men, and their immediate families.  Some officials and cameramen rounded out the number. 

We briefly thought that was the new normal. I had no inkling that we were about to enter a dystopian world devoid of sport.

Then they canceled the NCAA tournament, then NBA, and NHL, and MLB and on and on.

Joyce vs. Dubois has been moved to July, as has Whyte vs. Povetkin.  All the news is about who wants who – Breazeale wants Ruiz, Usyk wants Fury, Whyte wants Miocic.  Miller just wants to fight. 

Fast forward to Easter Sunday and I went to Ying’s.  Ying’s is the neighborhood Chinese greasy-chopstick.  Every neighborhood has one, and if they don’t, they wish they did.  The food is good and inexpensive, the service unreliable but that’s okay when you can get soup, appetizers and entrees for two for $36.00. 

They have their menus printed on what look like placemats, laminated plastic affairs printed on both sides. One menu is westernized food, with your egg-foo this and moo-goo that, the other menu has authentic Chinese dishes.  

Looking online for the fish soup that Lisa likes (It’s one of the Chinese dishes), I  could I not find it.  I didn’t see any authentic dishes at all, except for a short list of “Chef Specials” on the last page. Wondering what was up, I drove down there to find out (It’s just two miles) and was surprised to see ten cars (I counted) parked in front.

Because of the virus and the governor’s edicts, they had tables lined up blocking entrance to the dining room, creating a small waiting area.  There were no chairs there, to discourage loitering I suppose. Three Uber or Grub Hub drivers were  waiting for their food, but there was no one at the cash register.  After a minute a masked and harried woman emerged from the kitchen and got rid of two of the drivers, then spoke briefly to the other, then turned to me “And you? What you want?”

“I wanted to order for carryout” I said, “do you have the Chinese menu?”

“No Chinese! American only!”

“Oh.  Can I see a menu then?” I swear she practically threw one at me. “You call!” She seemed genuinely irked that I had showed up in person to make an order.  I said something about the menu changing, and she gestured to the one in my hand.  I nodded and said “Yes, I know, and I’ll keep this one.”

Then I ordered and paid and she again raised her voice, “Twenty to thirty five minutes!” I said okay and drove back home.

It wasn’t always this way.  The original Ying herself moved back to China years ago.  But when she ran the place, there were many original dishes, I mean her own inventions, including several salads, which are unheard of in China. Then her husband took over for a time, and it became a more mainstream western menu. Then some young Chinese men bought it and they introduced the little hunks of meat on a skewer and cooked over a flame thing- chicken hearts, whole little fish, even sheep testicles. That didn’t last long.

The current owner is the somewhat grumpy lady above, the author of the two-part menu and it’s demise.

Through all these changes, one thing stayed constant. The staff never seemed happy to be there.  It’s as if a curse of gloom enveloped the building.  They may have tried, but they never pierced that darkness.  I suppose a poor location is to blame – they just never get enough business to really make it worthwhile.  Also contributing is their miscomprehension of ‘service’- or at least the way we Americans comprehend it.  They could be slow, they’d forget something that was ordered, bring the entrée before the appetizer, etc.  Plus, wearing a long face while waiting tables is not the way to win big tips and enthusiastic return customers.

I’m a return customer and the grumpy lady knows me.  She knows what I order too. She has met my wife and all my children, as I go there to eat pretty often. I have decided long ago to look past the service stumbling for the sake of the good food. Instead of complaining I try to bring a smile to their face; to be, as much as possible in this context, a friend.

I came back in a half hour and there were ten different cars parked in front. My food was ready, I could see it on a table beyond the barrier.  I could hear her and a man yelling at each other in Chinese back in the kitchen.  That brought back painful memories.  I spent ten years cooking in various restaurants, so I’ve been in those stressed-out, blaming each other shouting matches. Not fun. 

In a minute or two she appeared, saw me standing there (with a new crop of Uber drivers) and walked briskly to the front and handed me my bag.

I held out my left hand, with a $5.00 bill in it.  She either didn’t see it or just ignored it, walking past me to answer the phone that was next to the cash register. I laid the bill next to the phone and walked out. It was just a token, a gesture.  Like a card when you’re sick “Hey I saw you. I’ve been there.” I heard her say something that might have been “thanks”, or she could have been talking on the phone, I wasn’t sure.

On the drive home, I thought about Forrest Gump and his shrimp boat. How he struggled to catch any shrimp at all until his luck changed, and then suddenly he was hip-deep in shrimp.  He and Lieutenant Dan didn’t curse the shrimp.  No, they reacted to the new circumstances with eagerness and gratitude.

They became wealthy.  May my Chinese friend do the same.

There is an opportunity for the same thing to happen in boxing too. (See? It is too about boxing!) Not long ago we had 2 or three fight cards on prime-time TV every week. So much boxing that I honestly didn’t watch it all.  I would DVR them and then look at the names to decide which ones to watch.  We had a wealth of televised boxing and then: *Urk?*  No boxing. 

The spigot has been turned off.  Now we wait and hope for a Forrest Gump, to bring boxing back to TV.  

I’ll have the number seven and some crab Rangoon. 

Not Quiet on the Eastern Front

There is a rumbling of distant thunder in the east. A dark cloud roiling and billowing, cracking with lightning here and there like a Tyson hook. No, it’s not because I had the rueben sandwich and a cup of white chili, it’s because Zhang Zhilei is coming.
Six foot six, 250 pounds of left-handed destroyer, 21-0 with 16 knockouts. He’s coming, folks, and he wants to break into the elite circle and crack one of the champs on the chin.
I say let’s get him a fight with the likes of Joe Joyce, or Junior Fa. Let’s see what he can do with some top 20 competition. (Zhang is currently number 33 in the IBO.)
And wouldn’t it be fun if he got past that level and beat maybe Ortiz or Breazeale and mixed up the top echelon even more than it already is?
He’s a big boy with a big punch (I saw him knock one fellow out with a left to the bread-basket.) And they call him “Big Bang”.
You just know that they were thinking that the Americans will switch the order of his names to a westernized “Zhilei Zhang” and mispronounce “Zhang” (rhymes with “dong”) so he’s “Big Bang Zang” because that sounds pretty cool. They tried that with Otto Wallin, calling him “All In” figuring the drooling seat-warmers that do the broadcast talking would call him “wall-in” and not “valleen” which is how his name really goes. As you heard, that didn’t work out.
So, lets think of some better names for the lad:

  1. The Beast from the East (of course)
  2. The Emperor
  3. Tiger Fist
  4. The Black Dragon
  5. Number 2 with Eggroll (OK, not really)
    Unfortunately, Zhang was scheduled to fly to the United States to make his international splash, was actually on his way to the airport, as I understand it, when the Chinese government put the kibosh on international travel because of the coronavirus.
    Now he’s waiting, along with the rest of us, for the world to right itself. Let’s hope the world is in as much a hurry as the rest of us, because Zhang is 36 years old. There may not be too many more fights in the boy. True, he has not taken a lot of punishment, but 36 is still 36.
    Buy the way, if you were wondering, his 21-0 record was accomplished against opposition that has a combined record of 197 – 171. Kind of like Tom Schwartz numbers. Not especially inspiring.
    But there is more: and I’m not making this up, there is a Zhang Junlong.
    This Zhang is only six foot four, but is also a left hander, and also fights around 250 or so. He is, like the other Zhang also undefeated at 19-0 with 19 knockouts. In his 19 fights he has fought a total of 40 rounds. Let that sink in. Who does that sound like? Yep, them are Iron Mike numbers.
    His opponents have a combined record of 321 – 148.
    Why is this fellow not making headlines, you ask?
    Because he retired. He only started fighting when he was 31, and he quit when he was 36, and now he’s 38.
    But holy crap, people – he’s only fought 40 rounds. Mike Tyson took 37 rounds to knock out his first 19 opponents. (Who were a respectable 180 – 105).
    Of course there was some issue with the WBA, and how Zhang refused to pay their “ranking fee” and how they tried to get his boxing record expunged (is that cold or what? “Pay up, or we’re gonna make it like you never even existed.”) So, I’m sure his attitude has soured – but that could be fixed with a seven-figure contract, couldn’t it?
    C’mon you geniuses, you men-behind-the-curtain, let’s get this fellow over here, have him take care of Hellenius, then maybe Pulev, then let’s see him fight Ruiz, or Wilder or Fury.
    Oh, his nick name is “Dragon King” and on his shorts it says “Dargon King” which is both charming and funny. Let’s get him a better name too. My vote is for “rueben sandwich with a cup of chili.”

That Terrible Miniaturization

“The beaten fighter shrinks, becomes small” (paraphrased).

George Plimpton said this in the documentary When We Were Kings, about George Foreman, reminiscing about the Rumble in the jungle.

I suppose it was true then, as it was Saturday night, but I never saw the Rumble in the Jungle until long after the event. By the time I found a copy on VHS tape, George had already won the title a second time. Sure, that morning in Zaire he was the beaten man, but he was not reduced in my sight, knowing as I did his future history.

Not so Saturday night. I have often remarked that Kownacki looks like Dr. Evil, but after this fight he looked like a comedian in a bald wig. He looked tiny.

And it was so sudden. (I just went and looked at it again to make sure I was right) Kownacki rocked Hellenius with two good shots just before the first knock down (the one that wasn’t ruled a knock down). In a moment, in a split second he went from being this monstrous punching machine to being a squeaky toy, a rubber chicken, a Pikachu.

Yo quiero knock you out.

We don’t know what is to become of him. The rising star, the brute, the tireless hurt-maker, self-propelled as he was toward championship heights has, by one punch (really, it’s always just one), been toppled, knocked down, rolled down a rocky hillside to land, *plop* on the comeback trail.

And we don’t know how he will handle it. It can’t be easy.

Same thing with Deontay Wilder too. He looked very small after his last fight.

I imagine it’s something like this: In boxing, will is everything. I mean, all other things being more or less equal, that is. A fight between two experienced fighters in their prime will go to the one who wants it more. Watch Ali and Frazier for an example of two men of matching wills – the irresistible force vs. the immovable object. Two stubborn SOB’s they were. But I digress.

Will is necessary for success, and success builds confidence. So if you’ve got the iron will, and you keep winning, I think the confidence and will kind of combine to build a monster inside you. Joey Bosa has a monster inside him, Mike Tyson had one back in the day. You can see Wilder’s when he roars. It’s like Godzilla wearing a man-suit.

Getting knocked out removes the monster, deflates it like puncturing an inflatable dinosaur. All that’s left is the empty man-suit and the fighter is left wondering “what happened?” and “where do I go from here?”

Losing by decision does not remove the monster. Joshua was miniaturized by Ruiz, but Ruiz did not lose his monster in the re-match, because Joshua was wearing a skirt. You can’t make a fighter small if you’re wearing a skirt. Similarly, Klitschko did not shrink before Fury.

Ali and Frazier fought 41 rounds, monsters intact until finally Ali blinded Frazier and the air leaked out.

So now we wait.

There will be (and I wish there wasn’t, but I’ll still watch) a third Wilder / Fury fight. Joshua will fight Pulev, Ruiz is talking about fighting Arreola, Whyte is looking to fight Povetkin or Miller or Usyk.

Who is there to fight Kownacki on the comeback trail? Let’s just hope it’s not Tom Schwartz.

In the Spring a Young Man’s Fancy Turns Lightly to Thoughts of Love…

But I fancy a bit of pugilism, what do you say?

It’s shaping up to be an exciting Spring. As long as the money-grubbing – behind the scenes – sanctioning body weasels don’t ruin it. And that’s more than semi-likely, truth be told. But for now, lets bask in the possibility of these things coming to fruition and enjoy what Carly Simon and ketchup producers alike have extolled as one of life’s keenest pleasures: anticipation.

First is the tantalizing potential for a Dillian Whyte / Andy Ruiz April or May showdown. Word is that a seven figure offer has already been made and Ruiz is already training. (I know, he said he was training for Joshua 2 too but come on, stay focused! We’re being positive here!) If Ruiz can get past Whyte (and my guess is that he can) then he’ll get a shot at the winner of Fury / Wilder! (So they say). That would be awesome. Let’s see these guys mix it up while they are all still in their prime. Fury and Wilder have mutual rematch clauses, meaning whoever loses can opt for the trilogy, and that can stretch things out a bit, but even having the possibility of a Ruiz / Wilder or Fury match this close to reality is exciting. I thought it would take much, MUCH longer.

Kownacki meanwhile is apparently going the wanker route, fighting Robert Helenius in March. This has frustrated Dominick Breazeale, who was trying to get a match with him in order to reinsert himself at the top echelon of the division. The picture I saw of Breazeale accompanying that story was the angriest face I’ve seen on him. That was the face he should have had on when he fought Wilder. Maybe he can get a bout with Jarrell Miller. I’d watch that.

Usyk is involuntarily wanking, taking on Derek Chisora this Spring because well, a man’s gotta make a living I suppose… but then (assuming he gets past Pulev) he is next up to fight Anthony Joshua. That could be very interesting if my hunch about Usyk is right (that he’s fast enough and talented enough to compete with the big boys.

Conner McGregor is seeking a fight with Manny Pacquiao. Talking yesterday with a friend I mentioned this and and after noting that they will make a buttload of money said something like “This is stupid, he’ll just get knocked out again.” My friend replied “Well then everybody gets what they want.” Frankly I kind of doubt Manny would sign on to a farce like that.

But first up is the rematch between Fury and Wilder and I can’t wait for this one.

I was recently challenged to publish a prediction, so he goes: understanding that I already reported the fight as even money, my gun-to-my-head I have to pick a winner prediction is…Wilder by K.O.

the Tosser King Part 3

Well it’s official. February 22, in Vegas, Tyson Fury will put on his big boy shorts and fight Deontay Wilder again. The official announcement was made on the 27th, but I didn’t hear of it till yesterday. Earlier today I watched some talking heads (one of them Timothy Bradley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilfXVDfTTvQ ) on Youtube talking about it and they were hyping this fight as the biggest of the decade – bigger than Pacquiao / Mayweather, bigger than Joshua / Ruiz 2.

They said a lot of nice things about both fighters, that Fury was a clever boxer, and that Wilder was the hardest puncher of this generation, that both men were courageous for agreeing to fight each other, etc.

However, they got some things wrong, and it pissed me off: (For the record, Bradley did not utter any of these hereseys.)

  1. Tyson Fury is not the Lineal Champion. We’ve been over this before. You can’t claim that you’ve “never been beaten in the ring” when you twice failed to show up for a fight that you were under contract for. Chickening out is not the same as winning the fight, and I can’t believe that I have to point this out again.
  2. It’s time to quit dissing Andy Ruiz for losing to Joshua in the rematch. The “little fat kid” is currently the number 6 heavyweight in both the IBO and Ring Magazine rankings. He wasn’t the recipient of a gift from crooked or incompetent judges, he kicked Joshua’s ass. That he lost a decision to the same man is no cause for derision. Grow up.
  3. Tyson Fury has not become a ‘world wide mega-star’ by fighting Tom Schwartz and Otto Wallin. In fact, he lost a lot of credibility by doing so, and at tremendous risk to his career. What if he had lost to one those stiffs? Game over, or at least a return to square one. And Wallin presented a problem for him, cutting his eye badly enough that he could have lost by TKO.
  4. It will not be bigger that Pacqiauo / Mayweather, or Mayweather / MacGregor for that matter. I hate to break it to you , but out there in the real world, people generally don’t know who these men are. Manny Pacquiauo was hyped enough, (like Oscar De la Hoya before him) that he became a household word. Mayweather slowly got close to that kind of celebrity status, but he never got all the way there. The Pacquiauo / Mayweather fight got hyped so much that it became almost a national holiday, with people gathering in homes all over the country to watch the “two world’s best” duke it out. This could have been a huge boon to the boxing world, with huge numbers of the uninitiated watching, had they put on a show. But what they saw was an aging and injured Pacquiao chasing around a reluctant Mayweather for 12 rounds; an epic snooze-fest. The Fury / Wilder fight promises to be much, much better than that, but I don’t believe they will pull in near the audience that Pacquiao / Mayweather did. Despite their accomplishments, people just don’t know who these men are. When Wilder knocked out Ortiz some weeks back, my local newspaper had this to say about the event: Nothing. Zip, zero, squat.

Despite these malodorous mis-statements I do share the excitement of this talking head crew. This is a heavyweight fight of real import, not because Fury is the lineal champ, but because he has the skill set that can possibly beat Wilder. He beat Klitschko, after all,and there are some key similiarities between Wilder and Klitschko. (Long and strong jab, devastating right hand, etc.)

This is so much better than seeing Fury take on yet another stiff, this is not a farce, this is championship boxing.

For the moment I will take back the blog-imposed title of ‘the Tosser King’ (meaning he was a great wanker for fighting Wallin and Schwartz) and will give a thumbs-up to him for fighting the most dangerous man on the planet.

Who Can Beat Wilder?

Deontay Wilder cleaned another clock last night. Did a whiz-bang job of it too. Seriously, I was impressed.

I was originally impressed after his first match against Stiverne. Up till then, I bought into the rap against him, that he hadn’t fought anyone, that he was just a clubber, etc. Seeing him go twelve rounds, and against a champion, well that pretty much settled that issue, huh?

Well no. As you could see from his comments last night if you sat through the pre-fight hype show, that he still hears the same critique. He can’t box, has got no footwork, blah blah blah. Funny thing is, I get to thinking it too. Even after seeing him defeat Ortiz the first time, Even after he knocked out King Tosser Fury.

He was patient, looking, feinting, jabbing, studying his man, waiting for the opportunity to drop his payload, the “bomb” that he talks about. Boom! One shot, and the bogeyman was down.

And we’ve seen it before! He beat Szpilka and Washington in precisely the same way.

He may be the very best. I’m starting to think so. I want it to be Ruiz, cause he’s just so damn likable, but I think it’s probably Wilder. I hope most of all that we get to find out. Not five years from now, but now. 2020. Let’s get the big fights moving forward.

Now Ruiz / Joshua 2 is coming up fast. I can’t wait.

The Tosser King Redux

The great wanker, he of churlish wit and girlish charm, the hairy coquette, Tyson Fury, the Tosser King defended his imaginary crown once again, this time against one Otto Wallin, who, as I’ve previously pointed out, has accumulated a record of 20-0 by fighting an assortment of corpses with a collective record of 271-259.

Otto made it semi-interesting in that he opened a cut on Fury’s noggin in round three that could have stopped the fight, but didn’t. (Maybe should have stopped the fight – one has to wonder about the legitimacy of the ref and ring doctor when Fury got rocked in round 12 and they let it go on without the doctor looking again at the eye.)

He won ten rounds to two.

What I want to see is the rematch with Wilder. This has been is set for February but now the big Tosser may have to put the kibosh on that, or at least delay it, since getting his melon sliced open by Wallin. If he misses that date with destiny, who knows where he’ll end up? A lot can happen in the next months.

Primarily the Ruiz / Joshua rematch, the fight for the real lineal championship. Pulev already has himself in position to be the mandatory challenger for the winner of that fight. What if Pulev wins that one? (I jest) How long will it take then for Fury to get himself a shot at the real title? First he has to beat Wilder, whenever that fight takes place, then he has to hope the boxing stars align to allow him a shot at Pulev, Joshua or Ruiz, as the case may be. That’s assuming that Kownacki or Joyce or Whyte or Povetkin aren’t next in line by that time.

Hell, what if Wilder loses to Ortiz? Will anyone care to watch Fury / Wilder 2 then?

At the very least, the myth of him being “the one true champion” has been exposed for what it is; a masturbatory fantasy. He should have been fighting real fighters instead of tomato cans, working his way to the place where the boxing fans and governing bodies alike would be demanding that he get a shot at the crown.

Now he’s lost a lot of momentum on that upward trek, and he’s got a rather severly damaged eye. As my mom used to say: “If you don’t stop it, you’ll go blind.”

The big Tosser.

The Terrible Tiff on the Edge of Town

Yes, that’s a landscape from the Teletubbies show.  And no, I’m not making a fat joke.  And yes, my artwork is pathetic. 

I put that picture there because it most adequately expresses my reaction to the news that Ruiz and Joshua are going to fight in Saudi Arabia.  I think it’s the first time there’s been a heavyweight title fight there. (Checks memory banks) Yep, the first time.

I’m giddy. I’m thrilled. I’m beside myself.

The exotic location makes it that much more intriguing, like an epic fight of old:

This is going to be historic, Like the Thrilla in Manilla, the Caracas Caper, the Rumble in the Jungle,  This will be legendary, epic.  All that remains is for Andy and Anthony to make a good fight of it.

 I’m so glad they didn’t muck it up by letting it go to Cardiff.

(Mostly I’m just happy to have a real fight to look forward to, after the announcement of the latest Tyson Fury wank-fest.)

So an epic battle of historical significance needs a good title, but they’ve given us “The Clash in the Dunes”?

Really?  Pee-yoo!

That’s the best we could do?  I mean these Saudi guys put up $100 million, we should do better. We owe it to them.  

So let’s put on our thinking caps.

The fight is taking place in Diriyah, a town on the outskirts of Riyadh, and which looks too much like “diarrhea” to be of any use.  So we could use Riyadh, the desert, the sand, or the sun as the location.

So, right off the top of my head, we could use “Struggle in the Sand”, or “Duel in the Desert”, or “Scuffle in the Sun” or “Ruckus in Riyadh”.  

Or, getting away from alliteration, it could be “Melee in the Desert” or “Fracas in the Sun” or, if they had all four belts on the line, the “Brawl for them All”.

Or, my favorite, (with apologies to Gabriel Iglesias) “the Fat and the Furious.”

And that took me all of three minutes. 

Hail to the Tosser King

Tyson Fury keeps calling Deontay Wilder a dosser. At first I thought he was saying tosser, but no, dosser. So I looked it up, and it means “homeless person” or “a city person who does not have a permanent home and sleeps in the streets or in very cheap hotels.” In other words, what we used to call a hobo, a bum.

And that makes sense. As long as I can remember, “bum” was an accepted boxing pejorative, along with palooka and mook.

But I like tosser. It means the same thing as wanker, one who plays with himself. And that will be Fury’s new title on this blog, the Tosser King. He wants to be recognized as the Lineal Champion, and calls himself “the Gypsy King” but for now around here it will be “Tosser King”, for him, the wanker.

“What”, you are asking, “has turned you against the big Brit?”

I wanted to be a Fury fan, really I did. After the Wilder fight I had to change my opinion of his boxing abilities. He is quick and slick and hard to hit. And I loved his demeanor after the fight. You could see that he was disappointed with the draw, but he kept smiling and being gracious. He did a similar thing after the Klitschko fight, where to settle a bet, he sang a song acapella into the mike, not afraid to make an ass of himself. He looked to be (in both cases) like a man on an adrenaline high who just loves his sport.

And he dropped all pretense of hostility toward his opponents, he hugged them, complimented them, thanked them, told them he loved them.

It kind freaked Wilder out. He went with it, but you could see him thinking “WTF?”.

And I LOVED it when he called out Joshua, flapping his arms and clucking like a chicken. That was both funny and charming.

At that time, I was a converted Fury fan, looking forward to watching him fight again.

But then, as I have theorized elsewhere, Slugworth got to him and convinced him to abandon reaching for the lofty goals of title belts, unification, etc., and sink down into the fetid swamp of maximum moolah.

So we got Fury / Schwartz. Not Fury / Ortiz or Kownacki or Rivas or Whyte. Schwartz. And we were treated the spectacle of a grown man being treated like a kitten treats a ball of yarn. It was sad. It was shameful.

And he went right back to the trash talk. I even heard him go back in time and throw shade at Klitschko, which makes no sense. The man is retired, he’s not going to come back and fight you again, let him be.

And now he’s chosen to fight Otto Wallin. Another “not-ready-for-prime-time player.”

Oy.

“Butt Otto Wallin is professional boxer, and he’s undefeated.”

Yeah, and Francesco Pianetta was a professional boxer and undefeated when Klitschko fought him, (I know, because being incredulous, I looked it up). He was 29-0 and his opponents up to that point in his career had a combined record of 448-273. He had victories over Oliver McCall and Frans Botha on his resume. Yet Klitschko made him look like some couch potato that fell asleep and just dream-wandered through the wrong door and found himself in a boxing match.

Otto Wallin is 20-0 and his opponents have a combined record of 271-259.

I expect he’ll get a rude awakening too.

As for his claim to the lineal championship:

Bitch, please.

He gave it up when he failed to show up for the rematch with Klitschko. Not getting into the ring isn’t the same as not being beaten in the ring. He gave it up, relinquished it, let it go. He refused to defend it. Sure, he had good reason, but that doesn’t change the fact that he didn’t show up. You don’t win championships on the kindness of others and you sure as hell don’t keep them that way either.

Then Joshua and Klitschko duked it out for all his hardware, and in reality the lineal championship as well. In the case of a gap in succession (like when the champ retires), the protocol is to award the title to the winner of a confrontation between the number one and number two fighters in their weight class. No, I don’t know where Klitschko and Joshua were ranked when they fought, but if they weren’t one and two I’d like to know who was.

So Joshua wins the fight, reels in all those belts and the moniker “Lineal Champ.” Subsequently he lost it to Andy Ruiz, so to my way of thinking, Andy Ruiz is now the lineal champ. Prove me wrong.

Sadly, I think Tyson Fury is a very talented fighter who has been shanghaied – placed under a spell by some money-grubbing dream-weaving bastard of a promoter. He’s stuck now in a rut fighting tomato cans and wee girls, waving his paws like a trained bear in a cage so the kids will throw peanuts at him.

And he roars “I’m the best! The one true champ!” And like the Emperor showing off his new clothes, he swats at Tom Schwartz and the kids shout “Yes! You’re the best!” and he swings at Otto Wallin and they all swoon “You’re our champion!”.

He doesn’t’ know that the kids work for the promoter. And none of them will tell him that he’s disengaged, disconnected from the rest of the boxing world, that he’s living a fiction, in a fantasy world.

These fights don’t mean anything. He’s not working toward a title shot, he’s saying “I’ve already got one!” like the French guard in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Maybe he should try to fight Shrek next. It would mean as much.

He can’t see that he’s lost in a magical land* called Irrelevancy. And no one has the guts to say that really he’s just playing with himself.

The big Tosser.

*I didn’t say it was good magic.

Props to the Nightmare

They say that styles make fights, and that explains why Frazier and Ali were so bad for each other, and why Foreman was KO’d by Ali and beat Frazier like drum. It’s not a linear equation. You can’t just look at the records and the tale of the tape and predict the outcome with any authority.

As my Dad would say, “That’s why they fight.”

If it were that logical and predictable I guess we wouldn’t watch it. And I’m glad I was watching last night.

I predicted a Kownacki victory (got that part right). But I also said he would win by knockout and within five rounds.

Oops.

I’ve seen Arreola fight before – several times, including all three of his title fights. I knew what he looked like, and how he fights and I thought Kownacki would get inside of his looping punches and pummel him with uppercuts and straight shots and take him out.

Surpise number one: Arreola didn’t look like Arreola. He weighed in at 244. That’s about as trim as I can ever remember seeing him.

Surprise number two: While he normally throws about 40 punches a round – right near the heavyweight average, last night he threw twice that many – like Kownacki. Kownacki is known for his high-volume assault, relentlessly punching, punching, punching, throwing at twice the rate of the typical heavyweight. In this way, he overwhelms his opponents, chipping away at their defense till he finds his way to their chin. But instead of just covering up and hoping Kownacki would slow down, Arreola decided to fight fire with fire. He amped up his own offense, matching him punch for punch. (He actually set a record for number of punches thrown.) (!)

Surprise number three: While he did get pummeled, he never went down. They say you can’t buy a chin, or get one in the gym, so he must have worked a deal with the Devil to put that steel in his chin. It was never weak before, but last night it looked ready to take a sledge hammer. Remarkable.

Surprise number four: He wasn’t an ass. In the past I always thought of him as a bully. A cantakerous biker-looking beer-drinking bully. I’ll never forget him beating the slobber out of one Joey Abell. When it was clear that Abell was unconscious yet still standing, Arreola stopped throwing and went in for a smirking kiss instead. The Chris Arreola that we saw this week was a gentleman. For the first time I thought I could enjoy having a beer with him.

Surprise number five: The old boy ain’t done yet. I thought he was done three years ago, when he fought Wilder. He looked tired. I never saw anything like the confidence he would need to win. It even looked to me that Wilder carried him for few rounds. If I remember right, Wilder said something about giving the old man one last big payday as a send-off, a farewell. I believed it, thought that was his swan-song. When I read that he was going to fight Kownacki I bitched about it being a mis-match along the lines of Fury / Schwartz. Indeed the betting odds were severe, with Kownacki a -3,500 and Arreola +1,100. But the old guy made it a real fight, with smarts and guts and the hell with the odds.

But right the oddsmakers ultimately were, Kownacki won convincingly. After the fight that lady interviewer gushed “You said you would retire if you lost tonight, but surely after that performance you can’t be thinking of retirement now?” It was a vacuous question, but I think that she was just expressing the admiration and appreciation we all felt. He gave us a hell of a show, and we would like to see more.

But his point is well taken, and better it would be if more boxers were to adopt his point of view: He said “I’m too old to start over, and that’s where I’ll be if I lose, back to square one.” Too many, addicted to the adrenaline, can’t seem to find the brakes.

And by the way, what the hell was up with Kownacki playing the Polish national anthem? The man’s been living in Brooklyn since he was seven years old. I mean Arreola makes a big deal about his Mexican heritage, but he at least he knew what country he’s from. Props for that too.

So, I hope he does retire. And I hope he makes it stick, that he doesn’t attempt a ‘comeback’ in a couple years, saying “age is just a number” (I think George Foreman may someday regret saying that inasmuch as it has added fuel to the fire that still burns in old fighter’s bellies) and doing harm to himself. This was so much better a farewell than the Wilder fight.

Adios valiente guerrero. Via con Dios, Pesadilla.

Buster

Did the internet exist in 1990? I don’t recall. I know that I didn’t have access to it, and if I did it would have been slow as hell and would have had what Dave Barry called “a duck playing a kazoo”. But I didn’t have it, so I turned on the TV.

It seemed like years since it started. Understand that I live in Columbus, and while I’ve never met the man, I did meet his father once, and John Johnson too. There had been hype aplenty, or at least more than usual, because Buster was from Columbus, was one of ours.

During his ‘comeback’ (after the loss to Tucker) there would be an article in the paper every couple weeks and invariably they would mention the tantalizing possibility that Buster would get to fight Tyson.

When he did get the fight, it was announced months in advance. And of course (you know) no one gave him a chance. I remember one local sportswriter opined that Buster did have a chance, and that because Buster was a talented fighter with a stiff jab and a huge reach advantage. I filed that information away in my mind, cherished it, pulled it out every so often to look at it and say, “I believe in you!” And I did this in private. I didn’t want to hear the raspberries of derision that showing faith in Buster would prompt.

Plus, I just didn’t like Tyson. I mean I enjoyed watching him work, who didn’t? The man was an amazing talent. But at that time I was convinced that he was evil, and was bad for boxing. I’m struggling to remember now the things that I knew about or thought I knew about him that lead me to think that way. Had he been accused of the sexual assault yet? I don’t recall. I think maybe there had been a story about him getting rough with Robin Givens. Some hard quotes, I don’t know. But in my mind he had taken heavyweight boxing to the Dark Side. I wanted to see him unseated in the worst way.

It must have been a wedding that kept me from seeing it. I don’t remember that either. So when I got home, I turned on the TV to catch the 11:00 news, to see how Buster had done.

The newscast started with the usual teasers and such, but within the first couple minutes the anchor said “We can’t show you footage from the Douglas / Tyson fight, so we sent Jim to a bar where they are showing the fight. Let’s go to Jim now and see how Buster is doing.”

And they switched to a shot of a reporter standing in front of a blank wall; you could see some people to his right, all looking to his right.

“Well Buster is doing surprisingly well. The fifth round just ended, and the commentators are saying that he has likely won all five rounds so far”

They chatted back a forth for a couple moments then went back to the studio. The news cast went on for several minutes, local news, national news, before they switched back over to Jim at the bar.

“It doesn’t look good for Buster. He was knocked down at the end of the eighth round. He was saved by the bell, but he looked pretty wobbly. He gave it good try, and did remarkably well, but it looks like Mike Tyson is now going to close the show.”

And some more banter: “Aw darn” and “too bad”.

Then after sports they went back to the bar and Jim “one last time” and: Chaos! – People shouting! Jumping! Jostling! Spraying beer! “Unbelievable! Buster Douglas has won the fight, and by a knockout!” (More jostling and spraying) “What?”

“He knocked out Mike Tyson in the tenth round, and is the new heavyweight champ!”

And that’s the way I experienced it. A week later I located a VHS tape of the fight a friend had recorded.

Of course Buster put on some weight and lost to Holyfield in three rounds in his first defense, and the raspberries of derision started anew. Of course you can blame much of that on Don “the Weasel-Heart” King. I think Buster only got out of court with him like two weeks left before the fight.

And I was briefly saddened that he lost the title so quickly. I was hoping for a long reign, to be able to brag about our local boy for a few years. But in the end it didn’t matter. His place in history is fixed. He was the undisputed champ, if only for a few months. Everybody knows it.

Klitschko said winning the belt was easy compared to hanging on to it. And he kept it for a long time. It is difficult, he said, to convince yourself to train hard year after year, for your fourth, fifth, or tenth title defense. He did 14 in a row. Dr. Steelhammer had an iron will to stay at the top.

Buster? Maybe not so much. He climbed the mountain, why climb it again? It doesn’t take away from his achievement.

So sure, when we get around to arguing who is the best of all time (you know we eventually will) I probably won’t put Buster in my top ten, but if we’re talking favorites, yeah, he’s right near the top for me.

And the New…

You felt it, didn’t you? Sunday morning when you woke up? The world was somehow . . . righter. It was as if the whole planet was spinning on its axis tilted one click closer to good and justice. The sun shone a little brighter, the birds sang a little merrier. Even my old frame seemed a little lighter.

Andy Ruiz was the heavyweight champ.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/general/boxing/anthony-joshua-vs-andy-ruiz-rematch-date-dereck-chisora-david-haye-a8980016.html

He did it by beating the “invincible” Anthony Joshua, and not by a controversial decision, bestowed by rogue, glue-sniffing judges, but by knockout, and not once, but twice.

That’s right. He knocked Joshua out the first time in the third round. He floored Joshua toward the end of the round, and while he got to his feet, he was not steady. The ref asked him to walk forward and he didn’t. It looked like didn’t understand the ref’s instructions.

The ref cut him some slack, you know, because he was the champ. He let him continue, having heard the ten-second knock, and the round ended without Joshua absorbing any more blows. If the positions were reversed, and it was Ruiz hanging onto the ropes with noodle-knees, the fight would have been halted, no doubt.

But that was okay. I understand. You don’t want to turn over the title in a potentially controversial manner. The commentators said that the ref “gave him a mulligan” in that round. Seems fair.

Then in the seventh round, Ruiz floored Joshua two more times, and this time the ref had no choice but to wave it off. The talking heads tried to stir up trouble, saying that Joshua was ready and willing to continue, that the ref stopped the fight too soon, but that was malarkey. After the count (and true, Joshua was standing), he asked “Are you okay?” but Joshua had spit out his mouthpiece and turned his back on Ruiz, walking to his corner. There, he leaned on the ropes, as if taking a break (not allowed in this sport). The ref asked him again if he wanted to box, to which he said “yes” while still leaning on the ropes.

Let’s be clear. Joshua was not cheating or expecting preferential treatment. He was addled, after the noggin knockin’ he got from Ruiz. The ref then gave him a couple more mulligans, letting him turn his back, ignoring the mouthpiece, etc., and Joshua didn’t even recognize it. He didn’t know where he was, or thought the round had ended. Like I said, the ref had no choice but to end it there.

So Andy Ruiz, who by fight time was an 11-1 underdog, won the title. Not as surprising perhaps as Tyson / Douglas, but still one for the ages. I’ll never forget it. Those of you who opted to go to Aunty Petunia’s quilting bee missed out. Big time. The bee will be there next week. These fights only happen once.

“So why is the sun shining brighter?” you ask. “I mean, Joshua’s a good guy, why celebrate his defeat?”

You misunderstand. There were no villains in the ring. But what Andy Ruiz did was to upset the whole corrupted apple cart. He was supposed to be the opponent, the lamb. He was supposed to get knocked out like Breazeale, to raise Joshua’s stock among American fans. That was the plan. I wrote about this recently, bemoaning the lack of a real title fight, like Wilder / Joshua or Fury / Joshua, and how Fury and Joshua were taking time off it seemed, fighting lesser men to boost their record and fatten their wallets.

But that’s not on the fighters. I believe if left to their own devices the top fighters would readily face each other. But there is this cadre of promoters and sanctioning bodies and venues and TV networks, etc. steering the whole thing. They’ve got a big pie to slice up, and they aim to make it bigger, not necessarily better. They rule without scrutiny, turning screws and pushing buttons, moving men like game tokens, running a lucrative business in the name of sport. And their shadowy presence in the world of boxing is as parasitic and intractable as a tapeworm.

It was this body that made Pacquiao / Mayweather five years late, when it was no longer relevant or even very credible. It was this same body that decided that Fury would fight Tom Schwarz and Joshua Jarell Miller. When Miller crapped out, they picked Ruiz.

Remember when Don King tried to get the result of Tyson / Douglas reversed?

No, sportsmanship and fairness are merely sizzle to these guys. They sell the sizzle and keep the steak.

Well, Ruiz didn’t read the script they gave him, and substituted his own. He turned the boxing world on its head like others have done before him. Men like Braddock, Clay, and Douglas. Rarefied air, and the fact that he is breathing it makes me smile.

And I readily admit that I had little hope for him. I too made jokes about his paunch, his “dad-bod.” But there have always been heavyweights that were overweight. Buster Mathis fought both Frazier and Ali with boobs. Buster Mathis, Jr., and the aptly named Tony Tubbs fought Mike Tyson. Hell, Eric “Butterbean” Esch fought and won weighing as much as 400 lbs. You saw the layer of insulation on Dominic Breazeale two weeks ago. George Foreman in his comeback had a spare tire. Even Buster Douglas had a little upholstery on him. But not like Ruiz. They talk about him being the first Mexican heavyweight titleist; well he’s also the first fat one.

Ruiz has a ritual – he eats a Snickers bar right before he enters the ring. “It gives me energy,” he says. He’s not trying to lose weight and failing, he’s just trying to knock your head off and have fun while he’s doing it. If you watch the slow-motion replays of the highlights from Saturday, you’ll see a real athlete working. Between those rapid-fire punches, he’s shifting and stepping and leaning and all to make each blow land as hard as possible. You can miss it in real time because it’s so fast.

The beast, meanwhile, is squirming and turning and will (of course) make for itself a bigger payday, whether that means making a rematch, or having Ruiz fight a succession of dead men. Time will tell.

In two weeks is the Fury / Schwarz fight, which I’ve already referred to as a “debacle.”

Now I wonder . . . .

Do you smell that?

ESPN+ stinks, that’s for sure. I ended up watching the fight in my study, on this very same computer upon which now I record my thoughts. I signed up for ESPN+ on my TV, clicked my way through the process, logged in, but nothing. I called a friend (it doesn’t matter which one, they’re all smarter than me) and he tried to find a way out, or rather into the live broadcast, but no. Like Sisyphus we just went back and forth from the ESPN front page and back to the sign up / log in page. Two of my buddies that were there to watch the fight got up and left after a half hour of this.

We called in the big gun. One of our group is a Ph.D.-Level programmer dude. Good mind. Very logical, this one. A half hour later, while we had managed to see a couple different screens, we still saw no action. It was he who suggested that I try to access the broadcast on my computer (in the next room). So I did, and it worked, and we three that remained watched the fight in my study.

ESPN stinks for another reason too. The entire night (we were able to see the undercard on regular ESPN), once we got the thing working, they were building up Tyson Fury‘s claim to the lineal championship with an almost religious fervor. They called him the “one true champion,” and said “there is only one champion.” They explained over and over what the lineal title meant, explaining the “man who beat the man” thing again and again, “starting with John L. Sullivan,” leaving out the gaps or making it sound like there were no gaps.

They also mentioned Fury’s “miraculous comeback” from a three-year hiatus, but failed to mention that during that time, he reneged on contracts to re-fight Klitschko twice. They failed to mention that in so doing, he allowed all his titles to be taken away, one by one. Basically, he quit. He gave up boxing. He relinquished his titles.

They glossed over the fact that his greatest fight in his comeback to date ended up a draw. They played a clip of Fury saying he believed he won that fight as if that settled the question.

Hey, ESPN: I thought you guys were into sports – you know, paid attention and stuff. You don’t obtain a #1 status by fighting to a draw. And you can say the judges ripped him off, but I saw that fight, and in the 12th round, he was lying on his back, unconscious. He should kiss that ref’s rosy-cheeked arse for letting him continue.

And that was a brilliant fight; exciting. Everyone wanted to see a rematch. I thought it was an obvious no-brainer. Tons of money could have been made. But ESPN got to Fury, spun some story about how he could make more money by going a different path, by fighting an undeserving opponent. I imagine some ESPN weasel sidling up to Fury on his way out of the arena, like Slugworth in the Willy Wonka movie. (“Psst spss spss spss spss….”)

It’s farcical. It’s cynical. It’s cruel. It’s the opposite of sporting. What they are trying to do is build a bigger fan base for Fury here in the US, by having us watch him dismantle some poor chap, just like they were trying to do with Andy Ruiz two weeks ago. So that when they do decide to put their man in the ring with a true champion, the cash will spill forth like words from Malignaggi. But this is not making me fonder of the big lad, rather the opposite. I wanted to see a sporting event. What I got was a public execution. Not to mention the headache I got trying to hook my TV into ESPN+.

“But Jerry,” you say, “he was struggling with mental health issues.”

“He couldn’t help failing to make those fights.”

“His struggle against depression and substance abuse is a portrait of bravery.”

I don’t mean to sound cold, but that’s irrelevant.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m glad he took the time off to tend to his health, and I’m glad he’s back and fighting again. He’s very talented and he’s damned fun to watch.

But you can’t make the case that your man is the champ because he’s never lost in the ring, when he twice declined to even get in the ring. If you look at cyberboxing.com, they record the status of the lineal championship as last belonging to Tyson Fury, who vacated / retired. He vacated the title. Cyberboxing still says the title is vacant. If you ask me, it belongs to Ruiz. But that’s me and my silly belief that you become champion by beating a champion, you know, in the ring.

All Fury has done since his three-year layoff is beat up three tomato cans and fight Deontay Wilder to a draw. To call him the “one true champion” . . . well, it stinks.

Sorry to be all pissy on a Monday, but P.U.

Wilder v Breazeale: Postmortem

Well, if you waited up for the Wilder / Breazeale fight, you saw something like this:

Wile E. Coyote getting outsmarted by that upstart Road Runner again.

In the days leading up to the fight, in an attempt to hype the event, they were showing old Breazeale fights. Now, I remember when Breazeale was an up-and-comer. I was a fan right away. I thought even way back then that he would be a contender and maybe sometime a champion of some sort. I was right. He was big and powerful. Still is as far as that goes. When he hits someone you can hear it, “Whap!” He’s knocked out a bunch of other big strong men. I wouldn’t get in his way. But watching those old fights, I couldn’t help but think, “He’s not mobile enough,” and “He’s too slow,” and, “Wilder is going knock him out.” 

*Sigh.* Right again.

In the last week I also learned that he is a likeable guy. I saw a couple interviews with him and he seemed like a fellow I wouldn’t mind having over to the house. I felt bad for him, getting flattened like that. 

He made $1,200,000 for getting socked in the jaw last night. I hope he’s put some away over the last few years, where I assume he’s made some pretty good money.  I think you only get so many chances to fight for the title, and I don’t know if he’ll ever get another. He’s a smart guy; he could do something else. Hell, he could replace that bald-headed, big-word-using, boring guy they got hosting all the boxing on Showtime:

This boring guy (Brian Custer).

And while they’re at it they can replace Paulie Malagnaggi with Roger Rabbit:

Shoot.  I’m disappointed.  Guess I thought a smart guy like Breazeale would have been a little more ready for what Wilder brings.

They started talking about Wilder in terms of a legacy last night – putting up a graphic showing the all-time leaders in successful (and consecutive) title defenses. He’s got nine, which puts him on the board in like eighth place or something.  Seems like only yesterday they were talking about him being untested and unproven and “he hasn’t fought anybody” and now they’re ready to put him the hall of fame.

He is damn good and I hope we get to see him fight Joshua soon.

Speaking of the Brit, he’s up next, on June 1.  Fighting some American fellow named Andy Ruiz. Don’t know much about him other than he’s short, (compared to Joshua) a little chubby, and has a fair amount of power (21 KO’s in 32 fights).  He is reputed to have fast hands. I’m a little pessimistic about this one, but I’ll watch it just the same. Come on over.

Jessica, give the baby to your mother-in-law for the night and come over for a cocktail. You’ll have earned a night out, I promise you.

Wilder v Breazeale

If you are one of those people that enjoys watching a thunderstorm . . . you’re weird.  I mean seriously.  All I can think about is, “I hope the sump pump is keeping up with this.”  And God forbid the wind shear off a limb from that big oak out back. Not to mention that for the next 48 hours I’ll have to bend over and wipe the dogs’ feet every time they come back in from their constitutionals. 

Weird. 

My mom used to enjoy watching a thunderstorm, and I loved her, so you’re in pretty good company, but weird.

cid:image001.jpg@01D5042A.A604D610

I, on the other hand enjoy the sight of two men trying cave each other’s faces in with their fists. Especially the big men; two towering behemoths, so muscular they look like comic book superheroes

Circling and jabbing, feinting and ducking and BOOM! Down he goes!  There is nothing better, unless you count adding, like, wings and beer. That’s better. Don’t have to worry about whether you got your gutters cleaned or not.

Anyhow, if it ain’t raining, and even if it is, Dominic Breazeale is challenging Deontay Wilder for the WBC Heavyweight title—the big one, the one that matters most. I know, there’s some foppish Brit over there in limey-land waving his little IBO belt and hollering, “Yoo-hoo, boys! Come and get it!” but he’s just a wannabe till he beats Fury or Wilder.  He did beat Klitschko, and full credit for that, even though he had to reach deep into his panties to take out the 41 year old.

Wilder and Breazeale are big men, no mistake. They are both 6’7”.  Breazeale fights at around 250 and Wilder around 220, but 150 of that is all upper body. 

Take a look:

cid:image006.jpg@01D5042B.55E14870

He don’t look skinny to me.

Here’s Breazeale:

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So if you wanna see tree limbs whipping around, let me tell you, when these boys get going they look like the Whomping Willow from Harry Potter

Wilder’s knockout percentage is 95%. Breazeale’s is 90%.  So there is guaranteed to be some thunder and lightning. Somebody is going down.

So this takes place on May 18th, and you are invited to come watch a real spectacle, a battle for the ages, an irresistible force meeting an immovable object—you know, all that crap—at my house. There will be food and booze.

Sometime around 8:00.

Weirdo.

Women Boxing

The other day my wife asked me if the Buckeyes had won the spring game.  I assured her that they had.

Then yesterday she asked why one of my friends had left early Friday before the fight started, and I said because he didn’t want to watch women fighting.

“Women”?  (Look of puzzlement).  “Women fighting? They were punching each other?” 

And I explained about women’s boxing, that while it is not super popular, it is gaining. And that this was the second time a women’s fight was the main attraction on a televised event.

I explained about Claressa Shields and her Olympic victories, and her dominant wins early in her career, and how Christina Hammer was undefeated and a champion for many years.  I told her about Christy Martin and Laila Ali and how twice before women’s boxing started to become a thing, but then faded once again into obscurity.

I stopped short of trying to explain this:

“But don’t their hands hurt? Do they stop and say, “Ow”?  And I said no, that they box, just like the guys. I may have mentioned that the rounds are only two minutes instead of three, and this, a title fight, was only ten rounds – so it’s not exactly like the men fighting.

And I told her that I understand my friend’s reluctance to watch – that I used to feel the same way.  It was Shields that changed my mind – back when she was seventeen and women’s boxing was in the Olympics for the first time. I watched – with trepidation – and liked it.  Liked her more like.

Don explained it best – he said that when he sees a guy get hit hard enough to knock him down, his mind says “Ooh, that was a good one!”  But when he sees a lady get hit like that he thinks “Oh no! Not so hard! Is she okay?”

I get it.

There has been a lot of talk (and some folks have put a lot of money into it) about how Shields is going to make (a lot of money) women’s boxing more popular – maybe even pay-per-view popular.  We’ll see. I kinda feel like they already had the big one in Hammer. Who are they going to get to fight Shields that’s going to draw a crowd now? There is talk of her going down a weight class to fight the unified welterweight champ, but we’ll see.

Those that tuned in for the undercard saw two heavyweight bouts of great dullness.  The first one got stopped and declared a “no decision” in the first round. The second featured a pair of pachyderms, lumbering and leaning and occasionally just stopping to chat with some of the fans and then lumbering some more.  It put me in mind of this:

Meanwhile the Jackets continue to amaze.  I won’t lie; I’m not a Bluejackets fan. I’m totally a fair weather fan, having caught the bug once the playoffs started and they started beating the pants off those Nancy boys from Florida. So I have no insightful or comical things to say about them, but  I’ll be watching for that sweep that tomorrow.

Then Tiger won the Masters

I thought he was done.  I thought Jack’s record was safe.  Now if he can stay healthy, who knows?

Anyhow the next big fight is a month away.  Deontay Wilder and Dominic Breazeale.

May 18th.  Come on down.