Have Guts Will Battle: Staring Into A Bucket And Finding The Real Robbie Peden
By Coyote Duran (September 16, 2005)
As much as I hate to admit it, The Ring Magazine got it wrong again.
And although I loathe having to attribute a mistake or two (or a few) to any one occurrence within the editorial ranks, I'd have to say that things have been a bit less accurate since the very dependable Eric Raskin left his post to join the crew at Maxboxing.com (Raskin still serves The Ring as a contributing editor).
Amid the myriad of flubs I've noticed over the last 3 issues or so (and I have; I read the magazine cover to cover), I couldn't help but be a little bothered by an article assessing the most recent double issue's (Volume 5, 2005) Pound-for-Pound ratings participants.
The article, written by senior writer William Dettloff, was an in-depth analysis of The Ring's mythical top 10 fighters complete with factual tidbits, complete records and each fighter's own top 10 greatest fights.
So what does this have to do with mistakes, flubs and whatnot? In reading the analysis of the issue's #6 entrant, WBA ‘Super’ and former IBF (the IBF stripped him asses) featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Marquez, I couldn't help but pay particular attention to Dettloff's choice as Marquez' #1 greatest fight.
It was on March 9, 2002 and the opponent was Brisbane, Australia's Robbie Peden. Peden's corner stopped the fight at the end of the tenth due to Peden swallowing copious amounts of blood from a cut in his mouth. As a result of ingesting so much blood (as well as suffering from a flu bug! Damn!), the Australian featherweight would wrack with heaves, vomiting into his spit bucket.
The way Dettloff portrayed the end of the fight, one would think Peden was suffering from a bender from the previous eve.
"Starting quickly for once, Marquez landed straight rights from the opening bell and didn't stop until after the 10th round, when Peden vomited all over his cornermen, prompting them to stop it," the entry read.
"Earnest but without the firepower to make Marquez respect him, Peden was methodically dissected and broken down until his digestive tract forced his corner's hand," capped off the curious assessment.
Although it might not seem the big deal (and maybe it's not), the chosen wording could very well make those who didn't experience the fight firsthand feel that Robbie Peden was just overcome by the run-of-the-mill icky tummy.
Now, it can be, and often is, argued that today's fighters are much softer than the pugs of yesteryear. Why, didn't triple-crown world champion Henry Armstrong once battle Lou Ambers to a 15-round decision win while quietly swallowing huge amounts of blood?
Sure. But who's to say that if Peden had his druthers, he wouldn't have gone on as well? Granted, he chorked a little early but the guts he had left? Unmatched, baby.
After the TKO loss, Peden took a year off to recharge his batteries and took out no-hoper Rudolfo Lunsford in 4 rounds of an 8 round tune-up.
A year to the day that Peden deep-sixed Lunsford, he would face then-fiery hot junior lightweight contender Nate Campbell and surprise the fight world by capitalizing on one of the biggest faux pas ever committed in a ring.
A sneering Campbell, in a position of dominance, much like Lex Luthor standing over Superman while toting a mesh bag full of Kryptonite, would suffer the ultimate indignity while hovering over the seemingly weakened and prone Peden. With both gloves down and a smile crossing his face, Campbell would eat a left hand literally from Down Under in the 5th heat that would spell an end to his arrogance.
Long story short: opportunity knocked and Peden not only answered the door, but invited it in, offered it a beverage, threw on some soft music and wound up fixing it breakfast.
As if to make certain the toppling of ‘The Galaxxy Warrior’ (yes, two X’s) was no fluke, a rematch was scheduled for the following February on Peden's home turf (well, Melbourne Park, at least) with the vacant IBF 130 pound strap at stake. (Titlist Erik Morales was stripped by the IBF for taking on Marco Antonio Barrera. Asses.)
The result was different, but still the same. Cut over each eye and overwhelmed by Peden, referee John Wright would halt the punishment and Peden would emerge with his very first major alphabet strap.
So what to do when you're riding high and a major player in a division that's attracting talent in droves? Well, you could take on a soft touch and end 2005 uninjured with a couple of fights on your ledger and a little extra cash in your pockets.
You could pass up a potentially easy mandatory and challenge the #1 guy in the division, who also happens to be the #3 guy in the pound-for-pound ratings, in a title unification bout since that #1/#3 guy just happens to have a belt too.
A belt he won from Erik Morales.
Peden took the second option.
On September 17, Robbie Peden, 25-2 (14), will step into the ring with WBC super featherweight titlist Marco Antonio Barrera, 60-4 (42) with 1 no-contest, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, thus taking the biggest risk ever in his career in hopes of coming away with a career-defining victory and becoming a legend in the process.
Peden takes it all in stride. Go ahead and ask him how he feels about seeing ‘The Baby-Faced Assassin’ across the ring come fight time.
"Aw, no pressure at all, mate," Peden would proclaim with a ‘drinking buddy bounce’ to his voice. You'd think Barrera was a low-rent sparring partner. "This fight doesn't really worry me. Barrera should be the one who's worried."
Yikes, man. How's that for laidback?
So laidback that Peden might already have his post-Barrera future mapped out. Whether or not that translates into a lack of respect for Mexico City's finest or an overflowing well of confidence for Peden remains to be seen, but one way or another, ‘The Bomber’ lays it all out with good cheer while knowing his limitations.
"It's sometimes trouble to make this weight, actually. A move to 135? Yeah, definitely, when I find that I can't make 130 any longer. But I'm gonna do 130 as long as I can."
OK. But can Peden carry 135 pounds and still be successful?
"135 and 140!" Peden confidently trumpets.
However, with as much as Peden looks forward to life at 130, 135 or even 140 pounds, he hasn't dismissed how important this opportunity is for him in the here and now.
"I'm so appreciative that I've got this opportunity from Barrera. I'm going to bring everything I've got and I'm going to make everyone proud of me because I'm bringing all the pride I have into the ring."
A pride that’s been cultivated from virtually nothing when nothing was left in Peden after being literally drained of everything he had against Juan Manuel Marquez over three years ago.
I guess that’s probably where my beef really came from regarding William Dettloff’s analysis of the Pound-for-Pound greats of the modern day. Don’t get me wrong. Dettloff’s a wonderful scribe and a model that I look up to but I certainly don’t want the editorial importance of abbreviating particular passages in some article to take away the spirit and heart of one man who lost it all only to gain it all back and then some. That just wouldn’t be fair and Robbie Peden deserves way more than that.
And win or lose, come September 17, we’ll see what cloth ‘The Bomber’ is made of. Who knows? Instead of that cloth wiping the blood-laced spittle from the mouth of a crestfallen Australian warrior, we could very well see that cloth wipe the sweat from the brow of the victorious and proud.
And there ain’t a spit bucket on Earth that can hold that much pride.
Doghouse Boxing thanks Robbie Peden and the mega-hot Rachel Charles of Goossen-Tutor Promotions for their wonderful assistance!
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