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 . . . .

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. 


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


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:


He don’t look skinny to me.

Here’s Breazeale:


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.


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.