Michael Montero’s Boxing Notebook
20.07.06 - By Michael Montero: It’s that time again everybody. Whether you agree with me or disagree, love me or hate me, you gotta respect me because I tell it like it is…
Article posted on 21.07.2006
Fernando Vargas – what have we learned?
With his second loss to Shane Mosley this past Saturday in Las Vegas, many boxing experts are claiming that Fernando Vargas is a “shot” fighter and needs to retire. While I do indeed agree that Vargas needs to hang up his gloves, I argue that he isn’t quite as “shot” as people think. The fact of the matter is that “El Ferroz” looked bad against Mosley for a reason – because he was a good fighter, facing an elite fighter.
Although his professional career has been short (only 30 pro fights), there is a clear pattern throughout – Vargas has never faired well against elite competition. He has faced five world-class fighters: Winky Wright, Ike Quartey, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Mosley (twice).
His record against those five? Two wins (including a highly contested mixed decision over Wright) and four losses (all by knock out). One can argue that his only clear victory over a top fighter was against Quartey, who was: A) coming off a loss, and B) fighting at 154 pounds for the first time in his career.
The truth is Vargas was always a good fighter, but every time he’s been on the big stage, he’s fallen short. Fernando has had a very successful career as he’s made millions while carrying the allegiance of a loving and dedicated fan base. He’s never been afraid to fight the best; he just fell a bit short against them – and there’s nothing wrong with that. I wish him all the best in whatever he does from here on out (including his upcoming marriage with his long-time fiancé).
James Toney and Dan Goossen – who are they trying to fool?
Earlier this month, the Staples Center of Los Angeles hosted the preliminary press conference for the upcoming September 2nd bout between James Toney and Samuel Peter. As expected, Toney turned the press conference into a spectacle , running off the usual loud comments that spills out of his mouth the second he’s in front of a camera – but in between the trash talk and obscenities, he spat a few phrases that made me raise an eyebrow:
“I thought Peter won his fight against (Wladimir) Klitschko and, even though it was a draw, I thought I won against (Hasim) Rahman. (So) this is the heavyweight championship right here. The Eastern European fighters were put there by the boxing organizations.”
There are literally so many things wrong with these three sentences, that I don’t know where to start. Who in their right mind actually thinks Peter beat Klitschko? He won two of twelve rounds, only because he scored knock downs of his opponent in said rounds. In fact, many have gone as far as to say that Peter was “exposed” in that fight as a plodding banger that’s just as likely to hit you behind the head as he is to land something on your chin. The Rahman fight was close (even though I thought “The Rock” did enough to win) so I won’t go into that. But what’s up with his comments (once again) about the Eastern Europeans? How can you say that Wladimir Klitschko didn’t earn (and take full advantage of) his title shot against Chris Byrd? How can you say that Sergei Liakhovich didn’t beat Lamon Brewster and prove himself as a top heavyweight? In fact, how can you NOT say that these European fighters are slowly beginning to dominate the heavies? The Eastern Euros are not being handed or given anything that many of their American counterparts are not. Besides a few exceptions, they are slowly earning their place, and changing the face, of the heavyweight division today.
“Being the best fighter in the world, I have to stay busy. I am no joke. I am not someone to mess with. I take the sport of boxing very seriously.”
Very seriously huh? Really? Is that why you showed up to the biggest heavyweight fight of your career (against Rahman) looking like the Michelin Tire Man? Something doesn’t add up here.
“He is talking like he is going to go through me like Swiss cheese. I am a natural born fighter. I am going to go right through Peter.”
I know that a fighter is always supposed to sound confident, but should he really be saying that he’s going to “go right through” Samuel Peter? Does Toney carry the power to back that statement up? Remember, this is a guy (Peter) who took bombs from Klitschko (who hits much, much harder than Toney) for twelve rounds, only to be seriously hurt once in the final frame. This statement starts off exuding confidence (Toney is indeed a natural born fighter, and a great one at that), but quickly switches tones and resonates a hint of serious denial (Toney can not, and will not, go right through Peter).
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that this is all part of the hype machine that helps sell a fight – but how gullible do they think us boxing fans are? I happen to believe that this is a GREAT fight, one that I will certainly be watching come September; but I don’t need to see a bunch of posing and hear a bunch of fluff to get me excited. Just give us the fights - put the best guys in the ring and we will watch. For Toney to publicly proclaim that this is THE heavyweight championship, and then turn the press conference into a ghetto-fabulous charade of trash talking and flying water glasses, does a disservice to the hard-core fans who just want to see the best fights available. Stop trying to talk to us like we’re stupid guys. Stop trying to sell us - just bring us the fights.
Floyd (the fraud) Mayweather vs. Cory (the running-grabber) Spinks?
When I watched Cory Spinks win his 154-pound title fight (that should have been scored a draw) against then-champ Roman Karmazin earlier this month, I knew it would only be a matter of time before we heard rumors that he’d soon be facing “Pretty Boy” Mayweather. Gulp… I may have been right. The latest scuttlebutt is that we may have to suffer through a Mayweather-Spinks bout on November 4th. Now if this fight does indeed come off, the reasons will be obvious for Fraud: A) this match will be for his 5th title in five different weight classes, and B) Cory Spinks couldn’t buzz a fly with his hardest punch (11 KO’s in 38 pro fights). This is a win-win for Spinks as well: A) it would probably be his biggest payday as a pro, and B) if he loses, he will have lost to the so-called “world’s best” – so there’s no harm to his marketability (in fact, it may ultimately help it).
The losers in all of this? The fans of the sport. If you saw the Karmazin-Spinks bout, you know what I mean when I call the St. Louis native the “running-grabber”. Against Mayweather, expect him to do twice the holding, and thrice the running, until eventually catching a clean shot late and falling to the canvass. This fight would be a good cure for insomnia though, so I guess it would serve a purpose for some folks out there…
Please, please, please – don’t let this fight happen. I can almost hear Mayweather at the post fight press conference calling himself a “five-division champion” and “the best of all-time” right now – ugghhh… I just got he shivers. Seriously, does anybody other than the “Pretty Boys” (Mayweather’s die-hard supporters who think he could probably knock out Ali in his prime with only one arm and one leg) want to see this fight? Is it worth the $49.95 it will undoubtedly cost us? Here’s an idea – how about Floyd beats the best in his current division before he thinks about moving up in weight to challenge for another “title”? Here’s another crazy idea – how about unifying titles before moving up to another division? Hell, even Roy Jones (a guy who was often criticized for taking too many “easy” fights) did that.
Great week of boxing ahead
Tonight (Friday the 21st) we have Allen Green (20-0) taking on Anthony Bonsante (26-7-3) of “The Contender” fame on ESPN2. For those fans who love to watch rising prospects, this should be an interesting fight.
Montero’s Prediction: Green by late KO
Tomorrow night (Saturday the 22nd) we have Carlos Baldomir (42-9-6) defending his linear Welterweight Championship against fan favorite, Arturo Gatti (40-7) on HBO. How could you NOT love this match-up?
Montero’s Prediction: Gatti by UD
Next Friday (the 28th) Sultan Ibragimov (19-0) takes on Ray Austin (24-3-3) on ESPN2. The winner becomes Wladimir Klitschko’s (IBF) mandatory. This could be the coming out party for better of the Ibragimov cousins.
Montero’s Prediction: Ibragimov by mid-rounds KO
We also have fights featuring Jameel McCline, Giovani Lorenzo, Martin Castillo, David Tua, Kelly Pavlik, Anthony Thompson and Kid Diamond all happening over the next week. Plenty of familiar names and prospects to watch – with NO pay-per-views – not a bad week at all for boxing fans!
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