Friday, March 27, 2009

Antonio Margarito and his future in boxing

Wow, it's been over a year since I last posted something here. I got lazy (though you can't blame me, it's a part of the Castro gene). However, today's news headline that the hand wraps taken from Antonio Margarito contained the elements of Plaster of Paris has awoken me from my doze.

Please follow this link to the LATimes website where the news was first reported.

What would I like to see come down as punishment? Well, if history is to be repeated by those who fail to study it, I suggest that both Margarito and his trainer, Javier Capetillo, face a lifetime ban from boxing. This is, of course, the same fate Panama Lewis and Luis Resto faced when they were caught using Plaster of Paris in 1983. That Margarito never inflicted any damage with this plaster is the only valid argument to not ban him for life. However, I believe that he was both ready and willing to use the foreign substance against Shane Mosley the night it was discovered in his hand wraps. As such, I see no excuse on his or Capetillo's part as to not knowing it was there. An example needs to be made of this situation so that boxers and trainers will never want to do this again. The life of another boxer might well be in jeopardy if loaded gloves are used in a professional fight.

The public may never know if Team Margarito had used this in past fights, either. I think that boxing commissions (beginning with the Nevada State Athletic Comission) should pass regulations requiring that a fighters gloves and hand wraps be removed by or in front of State officials and then kept for one year in case there are allegations of impropriety. This would definitely make fighters and trainers think twice about cheating with their gloves or wraps and can all be done in the name of safety. Will they step up?

Monday, February 11, 2008


The words every challenger yearns to hear after a tough fight were uttered on Saturday night after the Williams - Quintana fight. Carlos "El Indio" Quintana really impressed me in his victory over the much-touted (but maybe a bit overrated) Paul "The Punisher" Williams. Quintana completely ignored his four-inch height, 10-inch reach, and five-year age disadvantage and gave the performance of his career. The secret: never stop moving! I heard his corner yell at him in the second round: "do not stop moving!" I knew at that moment that the blueprint set by Sugar Ray Leonard in his fight against Tommy Hearns was the best one to follow.

Williams has been criticized for not throwing his jab enough (or not throwing enough, period!). He had averaged 101 punches per round in his last three fights, yet only averaged 67 in this fight. This wasn't due to Williams not wanting to throw more punches (or, as his corner was telling him, give them numbers), but because it's hard to throw punches, even lazy jabs, when your opponent is never stationary. So long as Quintana kept moving, Williams remained off balance and couldn't throw as much as he'd liked. Quintana was just never there, as attested by Williams throwing half as many jabs as he did in his last fight against Antonio Margarito and only at a 16% connect rate.

Some Williams' apologists are claiming that the weight loss affected him (he did gain 16 pounds overnight). I find this argument flawed. A fighter who is drained by the act of making weight doesn't have the stamina to chase a fighter around the ring for 12 rounds and throw 799 punches over that period. Paul never slowed down and looked fresh in the later rounds when Quintana looked tired. No, Williams has no problem making the welterweight limit.

That being said, I believe he should consider moving up to 154. The division is not as deep and the prospect of a championship is much better. While I would still give Williams a good chance against more stationary fighters like Clottey, Cintron, and Cotto, I don't think he'll be able to get those fights as easily now. Why would I give him a chance against Cotto when he was able to KO Quintana is five? Because Cotto is not as tall, has a shorter reach, and doesn't move around as much as Quintana. Cotto would have a terrible time trying to get thru the 100 punches a round by Williams to get in on his torso. I've never seen Cotto lunge at an opponent like Quintana was forced to do againt Williams, either. That was a key to Quintana's victory that Cotto will probably not carry into the ring with him. However, Cotto might be able to withstand enough punishment to effectively get to the body enough over the course of the fight and "chop down the tree." That's why I'd favor Williams by the slightest of margins in what I would call a "pick-em" fight.

On the undercard, we saw Andre Berto take on a made-to-order Michel Trabant, who's record of 43-2 was a deceitful one. Don't get me wrong, I believe Berto to be a great prospect who will have plenty of success in his career, but I'd like to see him take on something of a challenge in the near future. He drops his hands too much when he throws and, as soon as he fights a boxer who likes to punch when the other guy is punching, he'll realize that things are not really as easy as they've been so far. His chin is still untested, even if he's gifted with power and speed. Talent and ability can only take you so far in life and that's why boxers have trainers. He needs to learn some fundamentals before he steps it up. Three or four more fights with increasingly better competition should give him enough experience to take on a top 10 fighter. There was talk of him facing Quintana a while back; I bet he's happy he didn't take that fight.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

From the "Are You Fucking Kidding Me?" Department

Yessur, you've read the title correct. I've just learned that Oscar De La Hoya has chosen his next opponent. In a tune-up fight, to be featured for "free" on HBO, he will be fighting a natural lightweight (who's fought more than a few times at super featherweight): Steve "2 pounds" Forbes. While Stevie has fought a few pounds over the welterweight limit of 147 lbs a few times, he looked sluggish against lesser competition. Maybe this is payback for being robbed in his fight against Demetrius Hopkins (Bernard's nephew) almost a year ago? No matter, Forbes has no business fighting a world-class (if old) fighter at a catch weight of 150 lbs.

The one fight that comes to mind when I think of this match up is Arturo Gatti's fight against Joey Gamache in February of 2000. Gatti came in weighing 15 pounds more than Gamache (according to the HBO unofficial scales used in each fighter's dressing room) and knocked Gamache out in two rounds. The size disparity is probably what lead to such a brutal KO and caused Gamache to retire and never fight again (on the advise of doctors).

If I were Steve Forbes' manager (or friend for that matter), I'd advise him not to take this fight, on health concerns alone. The money just isn't worth it.

Oh, and in my humble opinion, Oscar should be ashamed of himself for even considering this fight. He's been known throughout his career for picking on smaller or older fighters and there are plenty of welterweights out there that he could fight with not much risk. Here's a short list:

Luis Collazo 28(13)-3
Frederic Klose 41(8)-6
Chris "The Mechanic" Smith 21(13)-4
Joel Julio 32(30)-1

So, Oscar, please fight a real welterweight and leave the smaller fighters alone, for once!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Need for a Welterweight Tourney

I've been mulling over the need for a welterweight tournament for some time now and finally got around to putting pen to paper (or, more accurately, bits on disk). Without including Oscar de la Hoya, who claims to be fighting at 147-lbs his next time out, and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., who is on "vacation," the welterweight division is chock full of talent and names that should face each other.

In order to simplify matters, I've only included eight names in my tournament. Some names have been left out, such as Shane Mosley and Luis Collazo, but they can get in line to fight the winner. I've also matched up fighters with their mandatories, in order to satisfy those fights and allow for unifications down the line. Here are the names I've included:

Miguel Angel Cotto (31-0, 25KOs) WBA Champion
Kermit "The Killer" Cintron (29-1, 27KOs) IBF Champion
Paul "The Punisher" Williams (33-0, 24KOs) WBO Champion
Joshua "The Hitter" Clottey (33-2, 19KOs) IBF #1 Contender
Antonio Margarito (35-5, 25KOs) WBO #1 Contender
Yuriy Nuzhnenko (27-0, 13KOs) WBA "Interim" Champion
Carlos "El Indio" Quintana (24-1, 19KOs)
Zab "Super" Judah (36-5, 25KOs)

I've included Zab Judah and Carlos Quintana because their fights have already been signed. Here is the tournament as I see it:

The winner would be the clear-cut leader to face Floyd Mayweather, Jr., once his vacation is over. He said he will not fight in 2008, which gives us plenty of time to complete this tournament and emerge with a unified champion whom Mayweather would have no excuses for not fighting.

The tournament should also prevent bad fights from being made and good fights from not being made. I'm speaking, of course of Cotto-Gomez, Cotto-Cintron, and Cintron-Clottey. The first shouldn't be made, and the second two should, with the second coming after the first (Clottey and Cotto are promoted by Bob Arum and he needs to look out for both fighter's economic interests).

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Close Call for Malignaggi

It seems like the fight on Saturday night was a little too close for comfort, as far as Paul Malignaggi is concerned anyway. With misleading scores of 115-113, 116-113, and 117-111, Paulie retained his title via unanimous decision against a more-than-game Herman Ngoudjo.

The fight was closer than what the judges' scorecards might indicate. While I did score it 115-113 for Paulie (having given him rounds 1,2,5,8,9,10, and 11), most rounds were extremely close and very hard to score. Malignaggi seemed to edge out the rounds he won while Ngoudjo dominated those in his column. There was also a scary moment for Paulie in round seven where I thought he was going to get knocked out, or at least suffer a knock down. His legs were spaghetti and he looked to be disoriented after a hard right hand. Instead of grabbing on (like a veteran would do), Paulie decided to come at Herman and keep throwing (he would later say he wanted Ngoudjo do believe he wasn't hurt). I hope Buddy McGirt teaches him to hold on next time or he might end up buying the farm.

Ironically, this less-than-stellar performance probably helps his odds of getting in the ring with Ricky Hatton, the recognized champion at 140 pounds and Malignaggi's biggest pay day waiting to happen. Of course, this all would fall apart if Paulie isn't able to win the rematch against Lovemore N'Dou (something I doubt given that I thought Paulie won all 12 rounds in the first fight).

Friday, January 4, 2008

Malignaggi - Ngoudjo Tomorrow Night

Paulie "The Magic Man" Malignaggi will be defending his IBF World Title for the first time against the #1 ranked Herman "Black Panther" Ngoudjo in Atlantic City tomorrow night. Call me crazy, but I believe he's the best Junior Welterweight right now. In a division that houses Hatton, Witter, Castillo, D. Hopkins, Torres, Holt, Harris, Lazcano, Urango, and Rees, that's saying something. This is probably not a fight many have been waiting to see, but true boxing fans should recognize the skills Malignaggi possesses and respect him for them.

Paulie hasn't been in the game that long (which is what impresses me), having started boxing in his late teens, but he is one of the best pure boxers I've had a chance to see fight. This short list includes Willy Pep, Pernell Whitaker, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Benny Leonard, and Ivan Calderon. A pure boxer needs to have superior hand speed, great footwork, an outstanding jab, combination and/or counter-punching skills, be highly accurate, and have a better-than-average defense. Paulie has all these skills. And, while he isn't known for his power, he was able to drop
Lovemore N'Dou in his last match.

Now that Paulie's hands don't bother him as much, he's been sitting down on his punches more than he'd done in the past. He's able to put more leverage into his punches and, thus, connect with more power. I believe that Ngoudjo won't go the distance with Paulie, and the difference won't be the power, it will be the speed (speed kills, as we all know). Ngoudjo was able to take what Jose Luis Castillo and Randall Bailey threw his way so it seems illogical to think that Paulie has a chance to (T)KO him, but those two do not have the speed and footwork of The Magic Man.

It will be an entertaining fight as Paulie doesn't run away, he stands and boxes. Ngoudjo will be there to be hit all night long and I expect Paulie to find his target quite frequently. Ngoudjo is tough but he isn't the best at cutting off a ring and his skills just don't match up to Paulie's.

My prediction is a stoppage in the 10th round, but a wide UD win isn't out of the question.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Looking to FIFA as a Role Model

What, you might ask, does FIFA have to do with boxing? Well, it would be the inspiration for an International Boxing Commission (IBC) to supervise all aspects of the sport. Many people talk about boxing and how it needs a National Boxing Commission to standardize the many governing bodies and the many state athletic commissions’ rules. The problem is, boxing is practiced all over the world. What good would it do to have a national commission where international fighters were left out? That’s where FIFA comes in.

If an IBC were to be implemented, boxers would have to join their local chapter (there could be one per country) and pay dues (to be fair, these should be a percentage of your winnings).

Here are some of the benefits of an IBC:

  1. Medical and Pension Benefits: as it stands right now, boxers must pay for their own medical expenses and there is no pension fund. Dues would be used to pay for the welfare and retirement of professional fighters all over the world.
  2. Fair World Rankings: the IBC would rank fighters based on merit, activity level, strength of opponents (i.e. their ranks), etc. There would be one list, rather than the slew of lists now available from all the alphabet organizations. Speaking of alphabet organizations, there would also be…
  3. One Champion per Division: there is no need for multiple belts that do nothing but confuse the public. Boxing needs one true, recognized champion per division. Also, there should be a requirement to defend a championship a minimum of twice a year (no exceptions, even for injuries), against the highest available challenger. Any additional fights would be optional defenses. Any fighter who loses his belt due to inactivity (for whatever reason) would be allowed to fight for his championship upon return.
  4. Better Matchmaking: some of the best fights out there aren’t being made because promoters don’t get along, fighters not wanting to fight another promoter’s fighter, or fighters that just don’t like each other. In the IBC, you fight the person you are matched up against or you lose your ranking.
  5. Fair money distribution: all earnings would be fairly distributed by percentage. Every party involved in the process would receive a percentage, based on their jobs. As an example, the distribution table could go something like this (for each party involved):
    • Boxer: 55%
    • Promoter: 25%
    • Boxer’s staff (trainer, manager, etc): 15%
    • IBC: 5%

Obviously, this is a very high-level view of the benefits of an IBC. I’m sure there are many other benefits, as well as some cons, especially for the promoters. In the end, I think this would be in the best interest of the fighters. Commissions work in other sports, why not boxing?

My First Blog

Let's Get Ready To Rumble!

I've finished setting up the blog the way that I want it and I hope it's enjoyable to all. Please keep checking periodically as there might be days when I post 5 times and others where I might not post at all.

Oh, and just to keep to the theme, I just read about
Bernard Hopkins' prediction. He seems to think that Jermain Taylor, the man who beat him twice, will win his rematch against Kelly Pavlik. Gutsy prediction, if you ask me, considering Pavlik KO'd Taylor in their last fight. Yes, the fight will take place at a 166-pound catch weight, but I doubt the weight will make Taylor's chin that much better. If anything, I believe it will help Kelly Pavlik, who's been struggling to make the weight recently (not that Taylor hasn't). I can't see anything less than the same result: Pavlik KO7 Taylor.