Today’s “Logic” is all over the map with emphasis on boxing tomes YOU need to read! Also, takes on the Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito fight and thoughts on the aftermath as well as a little bit o’ “Karate Kid”-hating. Yeah, I said it and it ain’t going away. Read on, my excellent Howlers!
Leader of the Pac…
Well, I feel like a fool. Much like almost any other time I’ve called a win (I believe I’ve only gotten it right once and that was against Erik Morales in their first fight) for any fighter against Manny Pacquiao, he once again proves me wrong in his torturous drubbing of Antonio Margarito last Saturday night. What can I say? I went with tangible variables, watched both men’s previous fights and considered training camps and Margarito’s lingering hand wrap stigma that I reckoned he was willing to die for to erase. Well, I was certainly correct on that last variable. Margarito, refusing to quit, took such a fierce beating that sent him to the hospital, in need of surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone. And I know I was in a minority but in my prediction loss comes an equal satisfaction that Pacquiao cemented his pound-for-pound status as the best active fighter in Our Sport today. And before you get all “‘Pound-for-pound’ means nothing, Coyote,” just know that I know that and know that the mythical list has meant little to me in a long time. But I can’t deny Pacquiao deserving the “best fighter in the world” status. I know some of you will continue to disagree, stamp your feet and refuse to budge when it comes to the standing of Floyd Mayweather Jr. stating, “Who has Pacquiao beaten near his weight and in his prime to be called number one?” Well, I’d have to ask the same of Mayweather. I know this is a tired argument but to get to my actual point of “Wake up. We’re never going to see Pacquiao-Mayweather,” if you’re going to isolate Pacquiao and Mayweather as your top two fighters in the world, you have to look at the facts and the recent fights that have brought both fighters to where they are today, from a time when they first could’ve viably faced each other. You’re probably not gonna like it but I’m just gonna spell it out for you:
Manny Pacquiao: Has fought twice this year against Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito, a welterweight and a former welterweight, respectively, winning both by decision. In 2009, Pacquiao faced Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto, winning Hatton’s World Junior Welterweight Championship and two alphabet welterweight straps, respectively. In 2008, Pacquiao fought three times, defeating Marquez (via decision for the World Junior Lightweight Championship), David Diaz (via ninth-round TKO for an alphabet strap) and Oscar De La Hoya (via eighth-round TKO at welterweight). In 2007, Pacquiao beat Jorge Solis and Marco Antonio Barrera at junior lightweight, via eighth-round KO and decision, respectively.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.: Has fought once this year against Shane Mosley at welterweight, winning by decision. In 2009, Mayweather defeated reigning World Lightweight Champion Juan Manuel Marquez by decision in a contest at welterweight. Mayweather took off 2008 but fought twice in 2007, beating De La Hoya via decision for an alphabet strap at 154 and retained his World Welterweight Championship with a tenth-round TKO over then-140-pound World Champion Hatton.
So, what do we have here but a mental graph that Pacquiao was either beating fighters in his lighter weight classes in the earliest examples and strived to test his limits against obviously bigger fighters. Mayweather has either kicked back, made smaller fighters look bad or faced men (on-par or bigger) he knew he could beat. Their only common foe who they really had no business facing was “The Golden Boy,” who was clearly past his best in either situation. Yeah, you might argue that Pacquiao hasn’t cleaned out any one division and I get that. But you also have a guy who’s testing his limits, staying active AND holding down political office in his homeland, while not allegedly engaging in less-than-savory extracurricular activities. With Mayweather, you have a supremely talented fighter whose talent, as of late, is supremely un-gauged. If Mayweather retired tomorrow (and actually stayed retired), we’d be left with nothing but questions and speculation…with no answers. And that’s sad. We deserve more to brag about and Mayweather deserves validity. And it’s no one else’s fault but his own. If Mayweather used half the energy he uses to get himself on TMZ and make goofy, racially comedic videos, he might have a loss or two, a little less pressure and a lot more respect saved in his bank.
Yeah, I’m preaching to the choir or those who deny my opinion. I get that too. But reiterative as it is, the refresher course must be taught. With that laid out, I refuse to believe Pacquiao-Mayweather will ever come off. Not gonna happen. Because doing so will mean Floyd Mayweather will have to extract his head from his ass, stop dicking around on the fringes of the law, live up to his manufactured, ring-related villainy and face a true, true counterpart. Ain’t gonna happen, man.
I’m right. Deal with it…
For reasons not understood by this editor, people love “The Karate Kid.” I don’t get it, never will. I’ve only seen it once and almost walked out, had it not been for my childhood pal, Jeff. Still, it burned itself into my psyche and stoked a fire of hate so bright and hot that I haven’t seen any of the sequels or the remake. Pacquiao-Margarito didn’t make the movie any easier for me to take as Pacquiao used the vapid theme, “You’re the Best Around,” by Joe Esposito. Ack. I’ve gotta wonder; is this a payback for my not-so-sparkling review of RagRag’s “Fighting Pride (Pacquiao’s Theme)”? Figures. To top it off, in Steve Kim’s article, Post-Script to Pacquiao-Margarito, “K9” even enjoyed a trip down Memory Lane and posed the question, “So did that make Margarito and his crew the Cobra Kai?” No. No, it doesn’t. As I told my wife yesterday, girls could beat the Cobra Kai. Then I had to make an apologetic amendment. 12-year-old girls could beat the Cobra Kais. Their erstwhile pawn, Johnny, got beaten by a glorified ballet move. ‘Nuff said. So, my wife asked me, “Have you ever considered that maybe you’re wrong?” I said, “No, I’m not wrong. I have my wrong moments and, yes, I admit them. I’ve often considered myself ‘the Native American Fonzie’ but I can say ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I was wrong’ without hesitation or a minor seizure but I’m not wrong now.” Debbie says, “Yeah, but not everyone who’s a fan of it is trained like you.” I replied with, “That’s the problem; I know many martial artists who LOVE that movie and they know what’s real and what’s not!”
Bottom line is I hate that movie (along with “House of the Dead”) and I’d rather cut off my testicles with a spork before I watch it again.
Damn you, Manny Pacquiao.
Book ‘em, Danno…I mean, Lee…
Now, we at Maxboxing have done a review on the following book (specifically by the outstanding Marty Mulcahey) but I felt the praise bears repeating. Former Max-scribe Lee Groves has been working hard to promote an incredible piece of boxing history in Tales from the Vault: A Celebration of 100 Boxing Closet Classics. If you’ve watched Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” you’ll know what I’m talking about when I tell you that Tales is one of the best boxing books I’ve ever read, period. Sure, if you’re a fight fan, you know most of the names immortalized in the book but do you really know about the deep-down-and-dirty battles these men have taken part in? Groves divides the book into ten specific chapters detailing ten pivotal fights each: Brawls, Shootouts, Big Man Drama, Wars of Attrition, Undercard Treasures, Vengeance is Mine- Great Grudge Fights, Little Big Men, Sudden and Violent Endings, Upsets and Unpredictability- A Walk on the Wild Side, and Back from the Brink: Great Comebacks. With chapters titled as such, the reader needs no guess as to what said chapters contain. In Brawls, you can almost feel the crunch of bone and the taste the iron in the blood as Groves, a member of CompuBox and the owner of one of the most extensive private fight collections known to man, vividly describes the rematch between Victor Callejas and Loris Stecca, in which Stecca was stopped in the sixth. Vengeance is aptly and beautifully titled with gems like Fernando Vargas vs. Ross Thompson and Aaron Davis vs. Mark Breland. If you’ve never seen it, the Mike McCallum vs. Milton McCrory (which was contested on my 16th birthday) entry is etched into your mind to the point where you might not even need to watch an old video of the battle to enjoy the carnage. Even the details of the McCallum-Emanuel Steward split were laid out (McCallum dissolved his relationship with his trainer when Steward encouraged a match between Thomas Hearns and then-154-pound titlist Roberto Duran, whose belt McCallum was next in line to vie for), enhancing the build-up of “The Bodysnatcher’s” eventual meeting with the “Ice Man.” You can almost hear McCallum’s co-trainer George Benton encourage his charge to pressure McCrory between the first and second rounds as well as feel the oppressive heat in the near-100-degree, closed-quarter environment. And in round ten, the clarity of the barrage that felled McCrory is as crystal-clear as the day it happened.
What makes Tales so awe-inspiring is not the fights alone but the manner in which Groves describes them, as well as the circumstances which inspired them and the aftermaths that followed. Anyone can write about a fight, let alone 100 of them, but Groves almost makes you forget that Our Sport is a savage struggle by reminding us how gorgeous it truly is. Top that with a brilliant and honest foreword by Showtime’s own Steve Farhood and punch-stats following EVERY fight detailed in the book (even those which preceded CompuBox and its predecessor, FightStat…that shows you how far the depths of Groves’ effort goes) and you have 721 pages (yes, I said 721. Take it everywhere and enjoy it) for just $29.95 that’ll make you glad you don’t take punches for pay…but sure as hell love watching those who do.
If you’ve never heard of Rick Folstad, shame on you. After retirement, the twice Upper Midwest Golden Gloves Lightweight Champion and one-time USA Minnesota junior welterweight titlist (who retired with a very respectable record of 20-2 with 8 KOs, suffering his two losses by decision) has since served his sport outside the ropes in many capacities, including winning awards as a writer. In 2008, Folstad penned Cornered (299 pages, World Publications), a novel centered on fictional middleweight contender Boone Connors, who is mired in a corrupt early-‘70s Miami boxing quagmire manipulated by seedy manager Callahan. More than just a manager, Callahan is as despicable as they come and will stop at nothing to get what he wants from any fighter he chooses.
As a work of fiction, several variables make Cornered so riveting. First, the delivery is in the first-person, giving the reader the feel he or she is in Connors’ head so the tension is palpable, especially when Connors faces Copper Daniels. Folstad’s professional experience brings those of us who have never stepped into a ring a sense of what a fighter actually feels during a fight. Connors tells us, “You don’t really see a guy’s face when you fight him. You just watch for anything that moves, that flickers or flashes in front of your eyes,” and “You notice how he slips in and out and feints and moves his head and how he holds his hands, whether he’s got them cocked in front of his chin or they’re dangling down around his waist like he thinks he’s some kind of Muhammad Ali.” It’s not just being there; it’s feeling it, almost like a food critic or celebrity chef dissecting a dish and describing the vibrant flavors within. The description of coming back from a dreadful beating to dispatch Daniels in the eighth is as pure as it gets, from the feeling of disincorporation (after absorbing Daniels’ offense) to the surge he felt en route to his stoppage win.
Next is the use of Folstad’s youth as a foundation for Connor’s backstory, from a Great Lakes upbringing to winning a Golden Gloves title. It provides a view into the psyche of a fighter who didn’t exactly come from the mean streets but from an idyllically serene environment. No bastard of a father or desperate housewife of a mother (though their fates will make you care so much more for the young Connors) but loving supportive parents any kid could ever hope for. Still, Connors’ youth hardly prepared him for the devilish world of the sociopathic Callahan, who is aptly described as a bad-breathed, yellow-toothed crook.
Finally, in the spirit of any good period piece, Cornered is flavored, not just with free foul language (which is very necessary in this unsanitized world. Come on, you can’t PG-13 this business, Howlers), but with the pop culture references of the day, such as when a Jackson Five song plays. It’s this same era that might not catch the very young fight fans who have little understanding of the unsavory underbelly of the fight game but could stand to read up on Our Sport’s history in order to further understand this particular book. The payoff is there as well, when Connors and Callahan finally meet for one last clash. Cornered is a terrific work of fiction any fight fan can enjoy. There’s never a lag and the depth of characterization permeates a novel that’s not too long or short. If you’d like to purchase Cornered via Amazon.com, it’s currently out of stock but can be shipped when available at http://www.amazon.com/Cornered-Rick-Folstad/dp/091197752X or you can contact Rick directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cornered retails for $12.95.
“The Greatest” vs. “The First”?...
In 1978, I was just seven years old and desperately wanted my own copy of DC Comics’ Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. Never got one, man. Fortunately, the kind folks at DC Comics (Austin Trunick, Publicity Manager, in specific. Thank you, kind sir!) sent me a complimentary copy of their brand-spankin’-new hardcover re-release of their monumental one-shot, which featured “The Greatest of All-Time” vs. the world’s first superhero (at the time, prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths). Featuring gorgeous art (which depicted a spot-on Ali) by Neal Adams (who illustrated the ultimate Batman and Green Arrow in the ‘70s), inks by Dick Giordano and Terry Austin (who became the inking strength behind John Byrne’s pencils during some of his greatest runs) and a script by Denny O’ Neil (who collaborated with Adams on Batman and Green Arrow), Superman vs. Muhammad Ali focuses on a battle between our two titular characters, to decide who faces a cosmic warrior. The stakes? Saving Earth from absolute destruction. The action is thick with humor and a respectful adherence to what makes technique so important, as the “Louisville Lip” teaches the “Man of Steel” the fundamentals of the “Sweet Science” in the Fortress of Solitude, to prepare Kal-El to battle him. And although it’s a comic book, Ali’s pre-fight poem (which escalates to a rant of anger), prior to facing the warrior Hun’Ya, sounds like it was written by “The Greatest” himself. Not so ginchy? Jimmy Olsen as ring announcer/color commentator…but what can ya do? It IS a comic book, after all. And no, I’m not going to tell you who won between Supes and Ali (I will say this; my prediction- for once- was right) but I will say that Ali discovered that Superman and Clark Kent were one and the same with a twist that would’ve made Encyclopedia Brown’s jaw drop (Yes, I read Encyclopedia Brown stories and am damn proud of it). The neatest little Easter egg is on the front cover (which, with the back, features stars galore in attendance, identified with a great numbered key following the story) is promoter Don King sitting next to Lex Luthor. I wonder what they were talking about?