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.

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.

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 ) 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.

No Fake Boxing

November 23rd is a big fight. Can I get an amen?

Deontay Wilder is fighting Luis Ortiz. This is the real thing, a genuine heavyweight title fight. These are two big strong men who have earned the right to fight for the title by taking their lumps and whooping ass, fighting real fighters, contenders with championship aspirations of their own and not mugging and posing and beating up stiffs, not mincing around in a tutu like that great wanker, what’s-his-name.

The last time these two fought it was glorious. Can I get a hallelujah?

The opening rounds were tense, as both men had (rightly so) great respect for the other’s power. Ortiz got leveled in the fifth round, yet survived the ensuing helicopter assault, and came back. In the seventh he rocked Wilder (I still don’t know how he stayed on his feet) like no one else has ever done, and it was Wilder’s turn to survive. In the seventh, Wilder put Ortiz down two more times and the fight was stopped. This was a compelling fight.

There was a time that I was not a real fan of Wilder. I wasn’t really aware of him until 2014 when he beat Liakhovich and then Malik Scott shortly after. He was 29-0 with 29 knockouts, but the rap I heard was “he hasn’t fought anybody”. I looked it up, and to that point in his career, his opponents had a combined record of 434 – 210, so the charge was fair.

But I thought Scott and Liakhovic were real fighters, so I started to pay attention. And then he got a title shot against Bermane Stiverne, a fighter who had already earned my respect by besting Chris Arreola twice. He beat Stiverne, going the distance for the first time in his career, out-boxing the champ for twelve rounds. Critics still said he had bad technique, that he was just a no-talent clubber. To them I say “Let’s see you get in a ring with Bermane Stiverne. Show me how it’s done”.

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Since then, the level of his competition has risen dramatically. His last nine opponents have a combined record of 253 – 13. He isn’t ducking anybody. He fought Szpilka, Arreola, Breazeale. Gerald Washington was ahead in the fight when Wilder knocked him out. He even fought that great chub-hugger Fury. Knocked his ass out, too, (though all the fans of fake boxing say Fury was robbed.)

I know, there was shade thrown his way for not fighting Joshua when he apparently had a chance. But Joshua, instead of continuing to negotiate with Wilder, (as we all wanted to see those two fight), went a different route, the wanker’s route, and got knocked out. Now he is in real danger of becoming irrelevant.

It’s still possible for them to make a mega-fight. Supposing that Joshua wins the rematch against Ruiz, (in my mind a 50/50 proposition) and Wilder gets past Ortiz and his rematch with Fury, then Wilder / Joshua would be a pay-per-view.

But if Ruiz wins the rematch, the road to another title fight becomes long and treacherous for Joshua, winding it’s way past Pulev, Kownacki, Miller, hell – even Usyk.

As for Ortiz, the man is a wrecking ball, like David Tua or Samuel Peter. Danger in both fists.

I can’t wait.

My prediction? The odds makers favor Wilder, and I agree. Wilder will probably win. All it takes is one good punch though. If Ortiz catches him…

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.


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, 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.