Boxing


The Weigh in from London: Their Crazy Lives

By Michael Klimes: The past couple of weeks have been both triumphant and tragic for a number of figures in boxing. Britain’s best fighter of the moment, Carl “The Cobra” Froch, needed to prove himself after losing a one sided fight to the exceptional Andre Ward last December. Froch, not one to duck opponents or take easy bouts, came back to his hometown of Nottingham where he had not fought in three years. His challenger was the slick but slightly overrated IBF Champion Lucien Bute, who is based in Montreal, Canada. The Romanian fought away from home for the first time and stumbled at the toughest hurdle of his career.

In what was an energetic atmosphere and blistering fight. Both fighters committed themselves to a five round brawl. Froch acquitted himself brilliantly, demonstrating an electrifying blend of poise and sheer physical savagery as he bulldozed any experience and confidence that Bute possessed into the ground. Bute’s corner wisely read the situation and surrendered their man’s championship to Froch.

“The Cobra” was ecstatic after such an emphatic win and was correct to recognise that everything he had achieved during his career could now be put in perspective. His fans also deserved to see their men win in such a style after he was away for so long. Unlike Joe Calzaghe, Froch managed to get himself to the United States at a far earlier point in his career and establish a reputation there through a series of hard campaigns against the sublime Andre Ward, talented Jermain Taylor and rugged veteran Glenn Johnson.

It was also heartening to see that Froch remains an outstanding warrior with a fearless mentality, who wants to maximise his remaining years in the sport. He immediately offered Mikkel the “Viking Warrior” Kessler a rematch after the Dane made his own statement with an exquisite knockout of Allan Green in the fourth round with the best left hook I have seen for some time. Green did not see the punch which felled him so forcefully and was unconscious while a delighted Kessler celebrated his successful debut at light-heavyweight. A rematch between him and Froch could be fight of the year as both are formidable forces.

However, I worry a little about Kessler as he has had 47 fights and is now 33-years-old. His losses to Ward and Calzaghe were arduous 12 round affairs, which saw him accumulate a considerable amount of damage. That eye injury also caused many commentators to question when he would fight again. Any encounter with Froch will be a hellacious affair and remember: Froch is out for revenge and won’t settle for anything less than absolute victory. Kessler, being the professional that he is, knows this and will do everything in his power to defang “The Cobra” yet the dosage of venom Froch may give him could end his career, even if he wins the fight. The “Viking Warrior” is enjoying an Indian summer but who knows how long it will last?

Meanwhile, Floyd Mayweather’s storied career and chequered personal life continues to envelope him in the spotlight. He has just started a ninety day prison sentence in Las Vegas. He is charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Jose Harris, who is also the mother of three of his children. He will stay in solitary confinement and is far away from the luxuries he earned through lucrative pay per view prize fights.

The picture, which showed Mayweather handcuffed in the courtroom, are different from any of the ones I have seen of him in the past. For the first time, he appears to be silent and pensive rather than assertive and brash. The mug-shot picture of him taken just before he started to serve his sentence was not worn with his memorable smile which some of his critics would like to see punched off his face.

Whatever one thinks of Mayweather, he remains the boxing standard of his era and is the best defensive fighter since Pernell Whitaker. Boxing needs Mayweather as he is one of its biggest stars and he probably needs boxing. He showed that he still has a lot to offer with his pulsating 12-round bout with Miguel Cotto. He took his fair share of punishment but came through Cotto’s determined onslaughts with commendable vim and gusto.

Mayweather may find he cannot leave the game behind once he gets out even though there is only one name for him out there: Manny Pacquiao, Both the sport and its most prominent members become ensnared in a parasitic relationship which carries on and on despite it being bad for the health of the industry and its leading protagonists. Muhammad Ali couldn’t retire from boxing and boxing couldn’t retire from him as gradually slipped into Parkinson’s. Although he was a devastated wreck by the late 1970s, he continued to be a huge draw and money machine, so he laboured on. The same was true of Mike Tyson.

The sport welcomed back its most controversial star in the mid-1990s. It hugged and kissed him with open, greasy arms after his time in prison as those in power saw the dollar signs. The eight round defeat to Lennox Lewis in 2002 should have derailed Tyson’s career completely but, in the twisted world of boxing, he found a way to carry on for three more years. He remained one of sport’s most fascinating celebrities.

Speaking of the famous, Manny Pacquiao, when he is not dabbling in politics or being the Philippine’s most iconic countryman, has a tough assignment in Timothy Bradley on the 9 June. Logic dictates that Pacquiao should win as he has the aura on his side. Nonetheless, Bradley has the toughness, speed and enough belief that could give Pacquaio more problems than fans realise. If Pacquaio is reckless, unprepared and arrogant, he could be in for a long night as Bradley has risen to every occasion when he has been the underdog. It is a role he plays well. I expect an intriguing contest.

Meanwhile, in Carson City, California, Antonio Tarver continued to show he has some fighting prowess left with a draw with the promising Nigerian cruiserweight, Lateef Kayod. However, it is his pipedream to fight one of the Klitschko’s and become a heavyweight champion. If Tarver does ever fight one of the gigantic Europeans, I am certain he will enter a coma. He just does not have the tools to spar competitively let alone beat the Klitschkos. Tarver looked his 43-years-of-age with a midriff which is not as chiselled as it used to be but he demonstrated he can still run his mouth. It is not nearly as eloquent as he thinks it is and it voices his delusional heavyweight ambitions to the world. Also on the co-main event was another diminished boxer, Ronald Wright.

The former middleweight champion showed ring rust during his first fight in 38 months. He took on the young and ambitious Peter Quillin in one of his most entertaining fights in years. Quillin's speed and power caused problems for Wright, knocking him down in the fifth round and leading to a prolonged battering in the eighth. Wright engaged with Quillin for all 10 rounds but did not have enough power trouble to trouble the younger man. Fortunately, Wright announced his retirement soon afterwards. Sugar Shane Mosley, another incredible fighter in his prime, also had the grace to hang up his gloves and focus on promoting boxers. With his experience and calm demeanour, he could be successful at it.

The imposing Sakia Bika out of Sydney, Australia, appeared on the undercard in Carson City and defeated Dyah Davis. He utilised an effective jab and his impressive physique to bully Davis into a tenth round stoppage. The young and promising Austin Trout also defended his WBA super welterweight in an uneventful unanimous decision over Delvin Rodriguez. Where the slick southpaw Trout goes on from here is anyone’s guess. He was effective but not special.

Local bantamweight Leo Santa Cruz won the vacant IBF title with a one-sided decision over South Africa's Vusi Malinga.

In other news, Paul Williams and Johnny Tapia suffered grotesque tragedies. Williams, a well-spoken and hard-working fighter, was involved in a horrific motorcycle accident. He was a gladiator that took on Antonio Margarito, Sergio Martinez and Ronald Wright that many others avoided. He was fighting his way back to the elite level after being knocked out brutally by Martinez in just two rounds in 2010. His career appeared to be heading in the correct direction. He will probably never fight again.

Also, Johnny Tapia, one of the most exhilarating fighters of his generation died at just 45-years-of-age. He had a terrific career, winning titles at three different weights and was a five time world champion in the process. He was in the mould of Diego Corrales or Arturo Gatti, adored by the fans, dedicated to them and always fun to watch. The difficulties of his personal life seemed to make him fight with a rare passion that was intense and relentless. He had numerous encounters with drugs and the law. The phrase tattooed across his belly in Spanish: “Mi Vida Loca”, or in in English “My Crazy Life”, was a suitable phrase which encapsulated his life and was captivating title for his autobiography. It also a saying which could be adapted to the compelling world of boxing, which never ceases to astound those obsessed with its craziness.

Michael Klimes is a journalist and writer based in the United Kingdom. He works for Japan’s leading news agency, JIJI Press, at the London bureau. He writes about a variety of topics. You can visit his website at: www.michaelklimes.com to see his interests. His twitter page is here: http://twitter.com/#!/misaklimes

Article posted on 04.06.2012



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