. More Boxing News-------------------------- Boxing Interviews---------------------------- UFC/MMA NEWS
Boxing Fans Win Big, By Draw
By Martin Wade (May 11, 2004) 
Photo © Chris Farina
First of all I’d like to qualify this piece by saying I watched this epic night of boxing at a party, so you can only imagine the combined impact of great fights and several margaritas. While piling my plate high with guamoley and spicy chicken enchiladas I have to say I wholeheartedly disagree with Chris Rock, I love married people. Married people have food and being the proverbial “single friend” there’s nothing like being invited to one of these shindigs on an empty stomach (and fridge). From the moment I stole away to the TV room and tuned in to HBO’s twin bill, I was buzzing, grinning that stupid grin I usually wear when I say to myself “Life is way too good.”

The first bout was the 140 lb. battle between Boriqua idol in waiting Miguel Cotto and the rugged South African veteran Lovemore N’dou. This bout told the always-compelling story of the highly touted prospect facing his first real “test”. The result of this bout (although non title) could reverberate through the division causing many in the media to view Cotto, Mitchell and Hatton in a different light.

Round one was kind of nip and tuck; N’dou realized late in the round that it would be imprudent to give any ground to the younger Cotto. Round two began with each man attacking the body. So far each man is following my prediction of N’dou being much busier with Cotto landing the harder shots. By this time the HBO crew is already starting to establish whom they have an interest in. Can’t blame them; remember they “build” legends one round at a time and the current crop of HBO fighters are getting long in the tooth.

Round three is the round that Cotto became a man, engaging the veteran in blistering exchanges. Cotto definitely got the better of N’ dou in this round, but the veteran provided him with the kind of experience he was sorely in need of. Round four was a blur to me, I kept focusing on Cotto’s tendency to start a left hook, think differently and then hold it half extension. Maybe it’s appropriate that I noticed it for the first time because round five presented the wunderkind with his first “look”. Lovemore N’dou adopted an exaggerated angle ala “Jersey Joe” Walcott in round five, lead hand low, ball of shoulder high and facing opponent.

Cotto seemed to have trouble with the angle allowing N ‘dou to dictate the pace and keep him off balance. Round five was also marked by discussion about Top Ranks efforts to build Cotto up as a possible rival for Floyd Mayweather, JR. Poor Floyd, now he has to wait around to have a pay per view dance partner manufactured. Floyd must see Erik Morales in the Top Rank offices and think, “I hate that guy!”

Round six saw Cotto present a southpaw style, buckling N’dou with his classic left hook. Cotto’s poker face is rare for a youngster, I especially like the bouricas occasional smirk when absorbing a good shot from N’ dou. In round seven Cotto stayed southpaw, wiping the smirk from my drunken face (at the prospect of him matching up well with Floyd) with a surprising display of footwork. By round eight I was really into the awesome Filipino/Mexican heavy crowd. After Cotto delivered a left hook to the body, right cross to the head combination it was clear to see the smiles of acknowledgement from Pacquiao fans.

Round nine featured Cotto “Floyding” around the ring, moving fast only stopping long enough to unleash pitty pat combinations. N’dou took strangle hold of the pace; sensing that maybe the kid was starting to feel some anxiety in “deep waters”. N’dou won this round by coming forward and landing the harder (although single) shots. If Cotto was trying to rest, moving like that was not the best tactic to employ. By this time the crowd was starting to boo. I understand being restless to see the headliner, but this was a damn good scrap.

Round ten was marked by Cotto’s return to his thick base, sitting down on his punches and landing the harder shots. In round eleven Cotto returned to movement, N’ dou responded to his corners assessment that he needed a knockout and stalked the youngster with abbreviated success. By this time I’d taken out the report card, Cotto passed all of my expectations by showing movement and busier hands against a game veteran. Round twelve was time capsule stuff (or so I thought at the time) with both men leaving it in the ring. Cotto showed a Sugar Ray Leonard like sense of when to close the show by unloading on N’dou in the far corner in the waning seconds of the fight.

I thought Cotto earned the decision, I also thought N’dou maintained a very vital role as gatekeeper in the 140 pound division. The gatekeeper will always be in good fights, allowing him to earn well and possibly catch one of the upper tier guys propelling him into even bigger purses.

Now it’s time for the big one between Pacquiao and Marquez. But first, I have to freshen up my margarita.

My pre fight thoughts were not about changing my prediction, I fully expected a late stoppage in favor of Marquez. My biggest fear was the gnawing feeling that maybe we the fans were in for a let down. For me a let down would be a fight void of the fireworks so many of us are expecting. I mean can any of us truthfully predict a “Fight of the Year” candidate? Watching Pacquiao enter the ring I couldn’t help, but to laugh at how amiable and accessible he was to fans. I almost got the feeling the Pacman would hug a fellow Filipinos and take a sip of his drink. Or maybe this observation spoke of how much I had to drink.

Round one started out cautious, with Marquez countering and looking so much bigger than Pacquiao. Pacquiao seemed kind of awkward; I thought, “Will he be able to get by the jab and right hand counters?” And then at 1:22 of the round BAM! Pacquiao landed a straight left that looked way too fast for JMM to avoid. As the classy Mexican rose from the canvas BANG! Pacquiao caught him again with another left.

By this time several party guests have entered the room and we all seemed to be yelling, “move your head” in unison. My mind started racing for the name of this piece, I’d decided on the line from my previous article “what the hell, the guys a freaking animal.” Just as I started to consider some of boxing’s most shocking one round demolitions Pacquiao landed another left hand depositing JMM on his trunks with one hand helplessly hanging on the bottom rope. How the hell did Juan Manual Marquez make it out of round one? Mexican legends are not only forged by wins, they are endeared to their countrymen by way of their ability to get up and fight on.

Fernando Vargas wouldn’t be quite the star he is in the barrio had he not survived the early onslaught of Trinidad to make it a fight. Juan Manual Marquez entered round two badly hurt, but with an opportunity to take his place among the greats of his homeland. Round two represented an opportunity lost or the ferocious Pacman, sporting a Frazier like (some say Tyson) bob and weave Pacquiao failed to hammer the left hand home granting the Mexican new life. By 1:27 of round two JMM presented as alert and therefore in the fight. Round three was much slower paced with Marquez becoming dangerous again landing hard body shots. The exchange at rounds end was dominated by Paquiao’s speed and power.

The fourth round featured Marquez’s razor sharp jab and counterpunching. Pacquiao seemed to be reaching a lot, which played right into JMM’s hand. Pacquiao seemed off focused unable to deal with JMM’s creative combination punching, at one point the Filipino appealed to referee Joe Cortez regarding what he felt was a low blow. The Mexican warrior began the fifth by landing body shots and absorbing several Pacquiao bombs. The fifth round closed with fireworks as both men engaged in a blistering exchange.

In round six I noticed JMM’s defensive adjustment to Pacman’s vaunted left, he simply stepped to the side of the laser shot. Marquez really dictated the pace, keeping the shorter fighter at distance with sharp combination punching. OK, there goes the “animal” piece, this fight is living up to it’s billing with both warriors exhibiting the best that boxing has to offer. In round seven Marquez “opened the book” on combination punching while taking Pacquiao’s power shots.

Between rounds Freddie Roach tells his charge “he’s tired, you can go all night”. In round eight Pacquiao looked confused by Marquez’s diverse attack, Marquez (in my eyes) established his control of the round by moving the smaller man with a short shot to the midsection. It was only after this effective round did great trainer Nacho Beristain tell JMM “we’re in the fight”. Pacquiao returned to mark in round nine by landing several hard left hands and uppercuts. Not to be outdone Marquez roared back at rounds end with the Pacman responding with giddy animation.

Round ten was premised by Pacquiao’s aggression, he landed the harder shots prompting Harold Lederman to utter the classic line “sometimes judges score in blood”. In between rounds Beristain told his great fighter, “in 6 more minutes you win”, he should have said, “You got six minutes to knock him out”. Round eleven was classic man-to-man stuff, Marquez’s right against the Pacman’s left. Each man returned fire within a millisecond of absorbing a shot; this is proof that fighters deserve to get paid incentives based on performance.

The final round began by resembling the rounds in which Marquez was on his gamelan. Marquez and Pacquiao seemed to merge by midpoint, joining the ranks of boxers who are synonymous with rivals who pushed them to the limit. At the final bell both men embraced, basking in the glow of what can easily be called 2004 “Fight of the Year”. The decision was an afterthought, when I see a fight like that I could care less what the judges think. Though both fighters have to deal with the discontent of a draw my prediction rings true, Boxing Fans did win big on this night…

Until the next “Jones”
The Boxing Junkie.

Questions or comments,
Martin Wade:
© Copyrights / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing 1998-2004