Saturday, January 31, 2009

Urango Too Strong For Ngoudjo

By Michael Nelson

Juan Urango reaffirmed himself as a serious threat to anyone in the 140 pound division by winning the vacant IBF junior welterweight title with an impressive unanimous 12 round decision over Herman Ngoudjo in front of Ngoudjo's home crowd in Montreal. The scores were 118-108, 120-106, and 116-110 in Urango's favor.

In a closely contested opening stanza, Ngoudjo came out with clear intentions of taking advantage of Urango's slow feet by constantly moving while maintaining distance with a busy jab. He was successful for the first half of the round, before Urango started getting inside his jab and landing powerful blows to the body and clubbing shots to the head.

The second round began like the first round ended, with Urango pinning Herman to the ropes and tearing into his midsection. Ngoudjo tried to respond by throwing straight punches in between Urango's wider shots, but it was obvious who the much stronger man was. The meatier shots landed by Juan were making Ngoudjo visibly uncomfortable.

A long uppercut thrown by Urango in the opening minute of the third caught Ngoudjo as he was pulling back and put him on the canvas. Ngoudjo got up on shaky legs and Urango tore after him for the finish, delivering punches with nasty intentions but mostly missing. Ngoudjo, trying to clear the cobwebs, slid around the ring before finally getting caught with a combination that deposited him on his pants again. Showing tremendous resolve, Herman got back up and managed to make it out of the round.

Ngoudjo came out for the fourth with his balance still unsteady from the previous round's onslaught. But by the middle of the round, he had his feet under him and his head cleared, and started rallying with quick shots up the middle. He continued his progress in the fifth round, and found Urango fairly easily with jabs and straight right hands. But whenever he got pinned on the ropes and pounded with thudding body shots, it became evident that Ngoudjo was going to have to have to do more to deter the bull rush of Urango.

Rounds six through nine saw Urango increasingly exerting his superior strength on Ngoudjo, who only occasionally got nailed with a sweeping right hook or a straight left hand to the head, but was tormented with a consistent beating to his rib cage. Gamely, he fought back with his best punch being the uppercut. It was clear that the body work was taking effect though.

Round ten was one of the most bizarre rounds in recent memory. Herman Ngoudjo showed his true grit through three minutes by staying within close range of a tiring Urango and outworking him. For reasons that remain unexplained, however, the timekeeper did not ring the bell at the end of three minutes. Amazingly, the round went on for another two minutes and ten seconds, much of which Urango dominated after gaining a second wind. To the chagrin of Ngoudjo, the incompetent timekeeping may have very well cost him the round.

At the end, it was academic, as Urango had built an insurmountable lead. Both of the tired warriors had moments in the final two rounds, but again, it was Juan Urango's more powerful blows that ruled the day. Herman Ngoudjo showed plenty of heart and durability by lasting twelve (really, nearly thirteen) rounds after being dropped twice early. He simply didn't have enough force behind his blows to keep Urango off of him.

With the win, Urango improved to 21-1-1 with 16 KOs while Ngoudjo fell to 17-3 with 9 KOs. Put Juan Urango in the same ring with Richard Torres, Junior Witter, Tim Bradley, Kendall Holt, Andrily Kotelnik, Victor Ortiz, or Carlos Maidana and you're in for a fascinating fight. The junior welterweight division just got a bit more interesting.

e-mail Michael Nelson
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Friday, January 30, 2009

The Contender: Episode 8 Review

Felix Cora Jr. 19-2-2 vs Troy Ross 18-1

The second round of The Contender cruiserweight tournament began this past Wednesday night, with two of the most impressive fighters from the first round pitted against each other.

Both Felix Cora Jr. (pictured) and Troy Ross won their opening bouts in style – Felix with a convincing decision win over the previously unbeaten Joell Godfrey and Troy with a stunning 2nd round TKO victory over the tough skilled veteran Lawrence Tauasa.

On paper, it looked like we had the potential for a great fight.

These were two polished fighters. Both had good jabs. Both kept their hands up. Both respected the other’s power, but weren’t afraid to stand in and let their hands go.

The only regret going in was that these two had to fight this early in the tournament.

Blame Troy for that.

Having taken part in the season’s first fight, Felix didn’t have a say in his second round opponent. He had slotted his name into the first bout of the empty second round bracket and waited to see who would choose to fight him. Eventually, after the next four winners chose to take alternative routes forward, Troy decided he was up for the challenge.

Tony Danza asked him to explain his choice.

“I figure I might as well go with the best of the best right now and just keep the ball rolling.” Fair enough. Little injuries can happen at any time, and if Troy felt healthy and ready, taking on the man considered his biggest threat as soon as possible made sense.

Tommy Brooks was certainly looking forward to it. “This fight between Troy and Felix… put your hard hat on, put your safety belt on, and don’t go get a coke, because you might miss something. These two guys come to fight and the first one to make a mistake - good night sweet prince.”

After a cautious few moments to start the fight, Troy was the first to test the waters with a little aggression, following up his jab by mixing in some power shots. He had some success, but didn’t fully commit to attacking, and settled back to probing with his jab.

Tommy had told him in the dressing room to score points and not force anything. “If you’re looking for the knock-out, it ain’t going to happen. Just box, he’ll run into it.”

In the other corner, John Bray could be heard saying, “Jab, jab, you got to work. You got to work Felix.”

In a short fight, there’s really no alternative to staying busy. There’s just no time for much of a feeling out process, even when up against a strong opponent that might take a little figuring out.

Perhaps feeling the pressure to get something done, Felix got a little careless and leaned in to throw a lead left to the body, and as he started to follow up with a right, Troy countered with a chopping left hand.

The punch landed right behind the ear, and sent Felix toppling backwards.

It was clear right away he was hurt. He lay on his back and lifted his head, while the rest of his body lay flat. He used his elbows to slowly push himself up to a sitting position before struggling to his feet an instant before the ref’s count reached 7.

As the ref said 8, he motioned for Felix to step towards him and said, “Come here.”

It’s customary for fighters to raise their gloves to let the ref know they are fine, but with his gloves down Felix took an unsteady step forward. That was enough for the man in charge. He quickly grabbed a hold of Felix and waived it off.

That was it. At 2:38 of Round 1, it was over.

In his pre-fight interview, Felix had said “I just have to take what’s given to me and adjust to what’s in front of me. If I’m not careful how I go about doing things, it could be a short night for me. So I have to be perfect this fight.”

Perfect is always a tall order, but on this occasion, one mistake did indeed mean the end. Felix tried to come inside without jabbing his way in. It’s the type of thing that can often go unpunished, but against a good counter puncher, it’s a very risky move.

In every previous fight on the show, the climactic moments have been met with boisterous cheers from the fighters watching. Not this time. With the quarter-finals underway, and the team format that governed the match-making of the first round over, none of the other fighters had much of a rooting interest in the outcome.

They had all liked Felix. He was quiet, humble and respected. Everyone also knew about the situation going on back in his hometown of Galveston, Texas which had been devastated during the show’s taping by Hurricane Ike.

To add to his troubles, his participation on the show had meant his employer back home would be letting him go.

Troy Ross was fairly subdued as he came back to the corner. “You did what you were supposed to do.” Tommy Brooks told him. “Don’t worry about it.”

Easier said than done.

The fighters on the show, train in the same gym, live in the same house and eat at the same table. They are all there to knock each other off, but living in such close proximity, they can’t help but develop empathy for each other’s struggles.

They know only one man can win, but they wish each other the best. They understand the sacrifice involved to try and get ahead in a sport where only the elite of the elite earn extravagant wages. For the rest, even very good fighters like themselves; it’s a grind just to make a living.

For Troy Ross, a spot in the semi-finals is next.

For Felix Cora Jr., some bigger challenges await.

Good luck to both of them.

- Andrew Fruman e-mail

More on Felix Cora...

Cora Looks Back on Contender Experience: Galveston Daily News
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Betting on Boxing: Andriy Kotelnik vs. Marcos Rene Maidana

By Michael Nelson

In a potential great fight that's flying under the radar in the boxing community outside of Europe, defending WBA Jr. Welterweight titlist Andriy Kotelnik faces a relatively unknown Argentinian banger named Marcos Rene Maidana on February 7th.

Maidana is 25-0 with 24 knockouts, but take a cursory look into this glossy record and you'll see he's fought weak, non-descript competition. Immediately, a stereotype might pop into your head. We've seen this before: seemingly 2-3 times a year, an undefeated South American boxer with a big knockout record travels to the US and gets flattened by a more experienced foe on Friday Night Fights. To be fair, there are some, like Edison Miranda, that end up being good fighters. But the majority of these men lack the seasoning to compete on a world class level.

Trying not to judge a book by its cover though, I got a hold of a few fights of Maidana. What I saw was pretty impressive. He has a wide array of punches, thrown in quick, compact fashion. He cuts off the ring very well. He invests heavily into body work. And he appears to have a pretty high ring IQ.

In his most telling fight, he fought a journeyman named Juan Carlos Rodriguez with a 56-21 record. Rodriguez was the only opponent of Maidana who had been in with recognizable names, losing to all of them. But he at least served as a gauge as far as comparing how Maidana did with how Cosme Rivera, Danny Perez, Antonio Diaz, Daniel Santos, Herman Ngoudjo, and other Rodriguez opponents did. Marcos passed the mini-test in that regard, winning virtually every minute of the fight, adapting and transitioning from relentless pressure to a more patient boxer-puncher style when he couldn't blow Rodriguez out in the first few rounds. Eventually, he placed a perfectly timed uppercut to Rodriguez' chin and knocked him cold in the 7th.

Because of the limited hand speed and offensive ability of Rodriguez, it is hard to discern exactly how good Carlos is defensively. He does roll his shoulders well, allowing him to get off crisp counter punches.

Andriy Kotelnik is the type of technical boxer we've become accustomed to seeing out of Germany. Similar to Felix Sturm and Arthur Abraham, his defense comprises of keeping earmuffs on; that is, walking to or circling around his opponent while deflecting punches off his forearms and gloves. While his opponent is busy figuring out how to penetrate his defense, he stings them with sharp jabs and straight right hands. Junior Witter caught his fair share of flack for struggling with this man, but the fact is his style is a difficult one to overcome.

Will it be too difficult for the inexperienced Marcos Maidana to overcome? It could be, but it certainly appears that Maidana has the right tools for the job. Kotelnik's earmuffs leaves his body open, and Maidana is a very busy, emphatic body puncher. He's also a dynamic one, mixing in with straight shots to the gut and uppercuts to the sternum to go with wider punches to the sides. That, and the multiple layers he has shown to have in his attack, leads me to believe he will win the title in a hotly contested battle. Fears of a homecooked decision may be somewhat of a concern, but Maidana has fought five times in Germany himself, and has developed a nice following there.

Betting Line - Andrily Kotelnik: -165 Marcos Rene Maidana: +140
My adjusted line - Andrily Kotelnik: +120 Marcos Rene Maidana: -150

Recommendation: Put some cash on the Argentinian prospect.

e-mail Michael Nelson
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New Boxing Bulletin P4P List

As expected, Shane Mosley's victory over Antonio Margarito this past Saturday night has caused a slight shake-up on The Boxing Bulletin's P4P list. Sugar Shane is in and the Tijuana Tornado is out.

1. Manny Pacquiao
2. Juan Manuel Marquez
3. Joe Calzaghe
4. Bernard Hopkins
5. Israel Vazquez
6. Rafael Marquez
7. Shane Mosley
8. Paul Williams
9. Ivan Calderon
10. Chad Dawson
11. Miguel Cotto
12. Vic Darchinyan

Also receiving votes: Ricky Hatton, Nonito Donaire, Mikkel Kessler, Glen Johnson, Fernando Montiel, Arthur Abraham

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Naazim Richardson: Words of Wisdom

By Michael Nelson

Within the course of a little over three months, Naazim Richardson's training has culminated into two dominating, all-time performances. And while his pupils, Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley, are first ballot hall-of-famers with a deep depository of championship experience and knowledge, they were also both 4-1 underdogs against men who were supposed to effectively end their careers. My guess is you'll have to reach deep into the archives to find another trainer who achieved a similar feat in such a short period of time.

Although Naazim Richardson is a relatively new face to most boxing fans, those who have followed Bernard Hopkins' career closely should be familiar with him. He has been the booming voice heard throughout nearly every fight of Hopkins' career since the late 90s (working as a 2nd assist to lead trainer Bouie Fisher).

"Pop that chain, X! He don't know what to do with the jab!", he constantly screamed during Hopkins' fight with Felix Trinidad. Listen closely during that legendary performance and you can hear Naazim call for a right uppercut in the 10th round, prompting Hopkins to blast Trinidad with several of them, including the one that staggered him at the end of the round.

Similarly, you can hear him Naazim call for a body shot during the 9th round of Bernard's fight with Oscar De La Hoya, shortly before Oscar fell for the count from a left hook to the liver. There are countless other examples of wisdom being splayed from the sharp eye and tongue of Naazim during a Hopkins fight.

But it wasn't until he became the main trainer for Hopkins, and then Shane Mosley, did the splendor of this virtuoso strategist fall under spotlight. Let's take a look at some of his most poignant moments in the corner.

"You can't let him steal the play from you… everytime he swings, they score it for him, whether (the punches) hit or not."

"You're doing enough to beat the man, now you need to do enough to beat the politics."

"Stay up in the pocket like a quarterback, and fire. Step up in the pocket, I need you ten yards down… X, they're gonna give him this fight!" – Naazim during Hopkins vs. Taylor II

In a fight where his man lost, Naazim provided not only astute insight, but stole the words from Hopkins fans viewing the event around the world. Sure, I and perhaps the majority of observers, thought Bernard was doing enough to beat Taylor in their rematch fought in December of 2005. But we knew that the judges gave Jermaine every close round in the first fight, and that was likely going to be the case here. We knew that Jermaine threw the showier, more eye- catching punches, whether they connected solidly or not. And we understood that Jermaine was annoited the leader of the new school, and thus likely to be given close decisions against men who were
thought to be near retirement.

So when Richardson implored Bernard to step up in the pocket and fire off combinations from mid-range, we nodded our head in agreement. Jumping in with single right hands immediately preceding a clinch wasn't going to do it. The judges were giving more credence to the hitched right crosses bouncing loudly off of Hopkins' shoulders; largely ineffective shots, but shots that nevertheless left an impression on the only ones scoring the fight that mattered. When he demanded that Hopkins to 'stop being cute, and whoop that ass', he knew that more had to be done to beat the politics.

Hopkins was unable or unwilling to do what was necessary to take apart Jermaine Taylor in decisive fashion. But in his first real exposure as a lead trainer, Naazim Richardson showed perceptivity seldom seen between rounds.

"You see the upshot is there, he don't know about this!"

"Ain't nobody ever jab with this joker, and they made this joker a superstar. He ain't never faced nobody with a jab yet, and they already made him a star!" – Naazim during Hopkins vs. Pavlik

This isn't entirely accurate, as Jermaine Taylor, who Pavlik fought twice, has a strong jab. But Hopkins' most dominant weapon throughout his career has been his counter jab. He's a master at pulling back just enough to make an opponent's jab fall an inch or two short, then immediately sticking his own jab hard before his foe regains position. Along with his footwork and feints, it handcuffs his opponent's punch output, and goes a long way in explaining why everyone Bernard faces throws half the punches they are accustomed to throwing. Naazim was right, Pavlik was encountering something he's never seen before. Taylor's jab was there, but Pavlik still outjabbed him throughout their two bouts. Pavlik's jab against Hopkins was hitting nothing but air and glove, and he was getting repeatedly stung in the nose with sharp jabs in return for his trouble.

The 'upshot' was a wrinkle that took Kelly by surpise as well. Bernard consistently and accurately shot a half hook, half uppercut up through the middle of Pavlik's gloves. He buckled Pavlik's knees with it in the second round and damaged his right eye. Naazim and Bernard no doubt studied tape, took note of where Pavlik kept his gloves while defending himself, and saw that the upshot was an exemplary tool to
take apart Pavlik's defense.

"This guy ain't used to getting it back to the body. Take that jab, keeping popping them up, stab him in the heart, rip around them sides. We're gonna show him how a guy slows down. When he hits the pedal, ain't gonna be no gas in the car at the end of this… run your combinations, knock the grease off this dude. Then swim without getting wet. Slide to your stick, slide to your angle." – Naazim during Mosley vs. Margarito

Within the first 30 seconds of his fight with Antonio Margarito, Mosley stuck a hard counter right hand to Margarito's sternum that stopped Margarito dead in his racks. Margarito got Mosley's message loud and clear: you may have earned the designation as boxing's premier body puncher with what you've done against lesser men than me,
but tonight, I 'm taking my crown back.

Mosley's dazzling work downstairs Saturday night reminded longtime fans of how he knocked out more opponents with body punches than he did with head punches back in his lightweight days. Time and time again he jolted Antonio with a hard hook to the liver or right hand to the gut, which allowed him to slam a continuous string of right hands and hooks into Antonio's presumably indestructible chin. And as Naazim noted, with each withering body punch, more gas leaked out of Margarito's tank. Entering the second half of the fight, Marg pressed the pedal to little effect.

That wasn't the only genius part of Mosley and Naazim's gameplan. HBO commentators Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant, and Emanuel Steward postulated on what exactly 'swim without getting wet' meant. Merchant was most likely right when he said it meant to engage without getting hit in return, but Naazim Richardson explained it best himself in an interview with Dougie Fisher weeks before the fight:

"Boxing Margarito is a difficult task… he carouls you, he fights you enough just to put you where he wants to put you, and then tries to exploit you from that position. What you have to do is never give up your position. You can slide, but not try to bounce around and move and run. You're just going to wear yourself out."

Miguel Cotto was getting very wet in his move-move-stop-exchange-move strategy against Margarito in last year's fight of the year candidate. Eventually, the current became too strong to avoid getting pulled underneath for good. Mosley evaded the waves by using his superior strength to grapple with Margarito on the inside, bully him to the ropes, and go to work on his midsection. He slid from side to side, gave angles, and avoided the brunt of Margarito's onslaught without expending unnecessary energy.

I look forward to seeing Naazim Richardson in the corner of more boxers in the future, and seeing what his son, 140 pound prospect Rock Allen, can do as well. Win or lose, you can expect him to bring the best out of his fighters. And if nothing else, you can expect to be both educated and entertained by his corner talk.

e-mail Michael Nelson
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Monday, January 26, 2009

The Sport's Greatest Rivalry Going...

by Jeff Pryor

Perhaps the greatest rivalry in boxing right now has created explosive action in the ring, and their battles have spilled from the squared circle, to boardrooms, to websites and courtrooms. Natural rivals, Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, have partnered up to pit many of their big names against one another over the last year or two. When these two promotional powerhouses square off it seems like more than the fighters whose reputations are on the line. As of late Golden Boy has delivered a few crushing blows to the crown jewels of Bob Arum's promotional stable and perhaps solidified themselves as the power broker promotional firm in the sport.

ink about this, what if the CEO's of fortune 500 companies literally fought each other to decide who was going to control the industries they were in and who would be making the most money. For instance, Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates throw down for 12 rounds to decide whether Microsoft or Apple will ultimately snatch up your dollar? Although Bob Arum isn't across the ring from them, this is essentially what Hopkins, Delahoya, and Mosley are doing when they sign up for a mega-fight against other promotional entities fighters; taking the business side of the sport and blurring the lines. Golden Boy promotions and it's fighting partners of the organization are blazing new territory in all of sports and dare I say it... the world, or the world of commerce at least.

In the wake of De La Hoya's purported final year as a boxer, the new face of the sport was to be Youngstown native, Kelly Pavlik, who last October looked to add an all timer's name to his KO list when he met up with Bernard Hopkins in Atlantic City as a heavy favorite. With "The Executioner's" unexpected domination of the promising champ, one of Arum's marquee pugilists, not only delivered Pavlik his first loss, but did so in such a devastatingly lopsided fashion that questions have surfaced over whether or not Pavlik is even the premiere middleweight in the world, let alone a possible torchbearer for sport.

The coverage that Pavlik enjoyed in such a hallowed ground as Sports Illustrated's pages will likely be much more difficult to come by in the foreseeable future as "The Ghost" will need to establish that rumors of his death were much exaggerated.

This past Saturday another Golden Boy geriatric partner was seen by Top Rank as fodder for one of their meal ticket fighters, burgeoning Mexican superstar Antonio Margarito, flying high off his demolition of Miguel Cotto. Once again, a seemingly past his prime Golden Boy underdog emerged to dominate and in this case dispatch his Top Rank opponent in a performance of the year exhibition. Arum must have sat with utter horror and despair as he witnessed, with the other 20,000 plus fight fans, the majority of which had latched onto the Margarito steamroller, the brutal drubbing and experienced deja vu hearkening back to October. The brutal knockout delivered, was both sportingly dynamic and economically devastating, in the sense that not only did it elevate Mosley within the sports rankings, but hit Arum in the pockets, as he saw the prospect of a bona fide Mexican draw crumble almost as quickly as it had been built just the previous July.

Ordinarily, a fight fan could be expected to forgive such a loss, when the man who got beaten went down in true warrior style as did Margarito. However the issue of illegal hand wraps, in which it must be said all the facts have yet to come to the fore on, may just sour the good will that "The Tijuana Tornado" built up over his long toiling career to superstardom and his explosion into the big time against Cotto.

So in the span of a little more than half a year, Arum's premium talent, Miguel Cotto, fell by way of brutal beating to Margarito, while a rematch between the two seemed unlikely to provide a different outcome. Now a rematch for Margarito against Mosley seems even more unlikely of acquiring a different finish, and Arum is left to pit his two damaged commodities against each other, devaluing one even further at the expense of another. There is the possibility that Cotto seeks redemption not through Margarito, but through Margarito's conquerer, a more winnable rematch against Mosley, who he out pointed a little more than a year ago, though that may be too close to admitting defeat for the proud Puerto Rican. Margarito, pending the outcome of this hand wrap fiasco, may find himself once again tossed to the side while others speed past him on the way to bigger and better fights.

Outside the ring, prized prospect Victor Ortiz recently finagled his way out of his contract with Top Rank to sign with Golden Boy. The final line in this story appears yet to be written and some sort of settlement may be nigh, but the direction appears to have Ortiz staying with Golden Boy while Top Rank gets a monetary settlement. Not a total loss for Top Rank, but depending on what the pay out is, it may pale in the face of what Golden Boy ultimately hopes Ortiz will infuse into their company in the future; a young superstar and box office behemoth to carry on the Golden Boy throne.

Arum's lone victory over Golden Boy Promotions of late, was ironically over the Golden Boy himself when Manny Pacquiao unexpectedly blew out Oscar De La Hoya in December. Paquiao is undoubtedly not only Arum's current superstar de jour, but perhaps the true heir to the sports "most valuable" throne. A similar situation to Ortiz, Golden Boy once tried to snatch Pacquiao from Top Rank, but ultimately only succeeded in gaining a small portion of his promotional rights. Where would Top Rank now find themselves if not for that court victory?

To see the impact of these recent events one need look no further then February 21st, on which Arum has planned a show with Cotto and Pavlik fighting not on the big HBO main stage, against marquee opposition, with huge paydays as the two fighters had grown accustomed to, but against Michael Jennings and Marco Antonio Rubio, respectively, two virtual unknowns, on a split site independent pay per view show. With the retirement of Erik Morales, the exodus of Jose Luis Castillo, and the fall of Pavlik, Margarito and Cotto, in the next few years, as Pacquiao goes so goes Top Rank.

On the opposite side of the scale, Golden Boy Promotions has taken the business of boxing by force, with smart, if unpopular, business savvy outside the ring and tactical brutality between the ropes, ironically leaving Bob Arum and Co. to complain about HBO's favoritism to Golden Boy these days, a favoritism Top Rank had enjoyed for years, and which at that time Arum had no problem with.

In fairness, one must ask why boxers are clamoring to tie themselves to Golden Boy. It would seem all these prizefighters are following the infamous advice once given in a dimly lit parking ramp, "Follow the money..."

For better or worse, it appears that boxing is going to be the guinea pig for a radical idea; athletes controlling their own sporting destinies. Imagine Kobe as owner of the Lakers, or Tom Brady as owner of the Patriots. Like a Director given total control of his film, the results may vary wildly, but that control is what everyone, in any endeavor craves.

In business suits by day, and gladiator garb by night, Golden Boy promotions gives new meaning to the term high stakes corporate warfare. There is something ironic in old fighters, banning together to take out old promoters, and bring something new to boxing... the oldest sport there is.

- e-mail Jeff Pryor

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sugar Shane Is Back!

by Lee Payton

Sugar Shane Mosley assured himself a place in the Hall Of Fame last night at Staples Center with a shockingly brutal thrashing of the consensus top welterweight in the world, Antonio Margarito. It was the kind of complete beating that left many wondering if the now former champ would ever be able to fight on this level again. Even with everything Mosley has accomplished during a glorious career, his 9th round TKO of the game Mexican may go down as his greatest achievement.

Margarito was supposed to be too young, too strong, too active and too tough for the old man, who was coming off an uneven performance against Ricardo Mayorga, in which he saved the evening by scoring a last second (literally) knockout. At 37 yeard old, it seemed to most like the end was near for the fearless pro from Pomona. He was up against some heavy odds and there were many that were actually fearing for his health going into the fight. Mosley showed that not only is he the better athlete, but also the more powerful man.

He did things to Margarito that most thought would be impossible. Part of the fight plan was obviously to use his edge in strength to bully Tony around in the clinch and force him back to break up the forward momentum that Margarito depends on. It also messed up his rhythm, and was the main reason why he could never get close to throwing the amount of punches he needed in order to win the fight. In my opinion, Shane had already won half the battle by implementing this strategy. The rest was up to Shane's fists.

The vast gap in overall speed and power decided the winner on this night. Mosley consistently beat Margarito to the punch with quick jabs and powerful overhand rights that bounced off his head. Whenever The Tijuana Tornado was able to get inside, his work was erased by bombs that got a reaction from the crowd.

Shane was so dominant that you could make a case for him winning the first 7 rounds. Margarito bravely came forward, but ate something huge everytime he got something going. By the 6th, the lethal shots to the body that Shane had been whacking him with, were starting to show. He had been softened up enough that his thick legs were starting to sag and his spirit began to dwindle. He was clearly getting more than he expected from the old timer.

To his credit, the scrappy Margarito came out for the 7th and may have taken it, but he was still being punished with powerful blows that snapped his head back violently. Something had to give eventually.

It was more of the same in the 8th round until Margarito started to grind his way inside, with just over a minute to go. Shane seemed annoyed at the little spurt and responded with a vicious right to the ribs that doubled Margarito over. Sensing that he had a wounded man in front of him, Mosley's killer instinct kicked in and he went for the finish.

At this point, the Mexican fighter could no longer defend himself, as he was blasted with a series of overhand rights. With 10 seconds left in the round, Mosley pounced on his prey again, landing a couple of perfect left hooks to go with three hard rights that put Margarito down. He rose on rubber legs and walked drunkenly back to his corner.

In these desperate moments, Antonio Margarito showed what kind of mans he is. He begged his corner not to stop the fight with him on his stool. They reluctantly honoured his request and one terrifying assault later, his night was finished. Sugar Shane had done the impossible.

With this monumental win, Mosley grabs another title belt, guarantees himself a place in Canastota, moves up on the pound-for-pound lists, and sets himself up for some lucrative opportunities in the future. Big money fights with Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao and maybe even Floyd Mayweather, are now serious possibilities.

37 year old welterweights are not supposed to be able to do what Shane Mosley just did. Margarito earned his reputation as one of the toughest guys in the sport, and Shane made him look rather ordinary. What you have to remember about Shane is that he is a gym rate. He lives a healthy lifestyle and is extremely competitive. 37 for him is 32 for most fighters because of his professional approach to boxing. He's a true throwback who would be right at home in any era.

On a personal level, January 24, 2009 will go down as the most satisfying night of my boxing life. Holyfield's taming of Tyson was special in it's own way, but I was too young to have witnessed The Real Deal's entire career. I first saw Shane in 1997 and he has been "my guy" ever since.

It hasn't always been easy. There was a period of time where his magic seemed lost, and I've had my fill of people trying to convince me that he was over the hill for the last few years, but Sugar Shane never stopped working so I never stopped believing.

When all is said and done, Shane Mosley will be remembered as a very special fighter. It's his rare combination of determination, grit, discipline, fighting spirit and athletic firepower that makes him one of the most accomplished and respected warriors of his time. And he's on top of the world, once again.

- Lee Payton e-mail
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Predictions For Margarito vs Mosley

You can expect fireworks when current champ, Antonio Margarito takes on former 3 division champ, Sugar Shane Mosley at a sold out Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Tijuana Tornado is a solid favourite to come out on top, but the older man should not be counted out. He's got his own set of advantages over the hard-charging Mexican, and will be looking to make them count in what should be a real battle of wills.

A few of The Boxing Bulletin's writers chose to weigh-in with their thoughts on this significant welterweight showdown, and the result was an interesting mixture of opinions.

Mosley brings a lot of things to the table that will trouble Margarito. He can match Tony in toughness and strength while having a significant advantage in speed. It really comes down to how much Shane has left in his legs for 36 minutes of warfare.

I expect Shane to come out blazing and take the early rounds. Margarito will work his way back into the fight and I see it even after eight.From there both men will dig deep into their unlimited reserves. I really want to pick Mosley as i can see him winning this, but I think age will leave him just short in the championship rounds. Margarito by UD. 7-5 or 8-4 in another excellent welterweight fight.

-Mark Lyons

Margarito will win this fight by UD. I see a score of 9-3. This is really a battle between a grinder and a fast handed slugger. Neither guy has one punch power and both guys have anvils for chins. But it seems obvious that Margarito will win due to his volume punching and his ability to move forward continually. Shane can only fight in spurts these days and when he does he can be effective, but it won't be enough to win many rounds even if the fight is quite exciting. If we're really lucky this might turn into a body punching extravangza. Unless fame has softened Margarito up, I don't see how Shane wins this fight. And I will say Margarito has the kind of style that requires absolute dedication for it be successful, but I don't think he'd risk losing the fame he worked so hard to build up.

-John Vaci

I've always been a Mosley fan. I've cheered for him in all of his fights and will cheer for him again on Saturday night. Only this will be the first time I'll go in thinking he's got almost no chance. He just doesn't have enough left to keep the fight where he needs it to be. He's still got hand speed, but it's one at a time speed, and his legs won't carry him the way they'll need to. He's in with an opponent that brings the kind of relentless intensity that can make an older fighter show his age. As the rounds go by, he'll start getting bullied to the ropes, and he'll slowly get worked. It won't happen immediately, but as the grind of the fight moves into the later rounds, we'll see the battle become gradually more one-sided. I think Shane is tough enough to see the final bell, but he's not winning.

-Andrew Fruman.

I'm going with Sugar Shane, and not just because he's been my guy for over 10 years now. I think he can win this fight. Fights are not fought on paper, but I think some are minimizing Shane's advantages while blowing up Margarito's. The fact is, he's fighting a guy who matches him in many of the key ares Tony can usually count on having the edge, like chin, strength, determination and size. That leaves him as the guy who throws more punches, but I think Shane will stand his ground, which has always messed with Margarito's output.

Tony is a come forward fighter, and if you can disrupt that with the threat of speed and power, as well as clinching here and there, you've have won half the battle. I see Shane's athletic advantage as the decider. He has a pretty potent, offense himself. I see this fight as offense vs offense between to hard men. In this case I'll take the sharper, faster, harder hitter, who can mix it up a bit with some defense.

Mosley guts out a tough fight. His speed and more memorable power shots are the difference to the judges who award him the close decision win. Shane goes 2-0 at Staples.

-Lee Payton
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The Contender: Episode 7 Review

Rico Hoye (Gold) 20-2 vs Mike Alexander (Blue) 12-2

Tim Flamos (Gold) 20-4-1 vs Ryan Coyne (Blue) 9-0

This past Wednesday was double header night on The Contender, as the four remaining fighters went at it.

Last week’s victory by Troy Ross was the fifth consecutive win for the Gold Team and meant they were still in charge of doing the matchmaking. With only four boxers still to fight, that gave them the final say in both fights.

Former world title contender Rico Hoye stepped up to take the first bout and selected Mike Alexander as his opponent. That left Tim Flamos and Ryan Coyne to do battle in the final match-up of the first round.

When prompted by Tony Danza to explain his choice, Rico said that Mike was the only real challenge left. While that was probably true, I would guess that the Gold Team got together and decided these two match-ups gave them the best chance of seeing both Rico and Tim through to the next round.

As the naturally bigger man, but less experienced fighter, Mike’s strategy was to stay busy, keep the pressure on and not let Rico get into a rhythm. Not being a brawler, this meant moving forward while working the jab. For Rico, the plan was also to use the jab, but to use it as a way of setting up his other punches.

For the first couple of rounds, Mike was able execute his plan and keep things close. He moved forward, used his jab nicely, and mixed in some nice straight lefts

“Keep touching him up!” Blue Team trainer John Bray yelled in approval to his fighter. “Keep the jab working, Mike!”

Tommy Brooks wasn’t quite as enthused with Rico. “You got to let your hands go and quit waiting,” he told his fighter during the break before the third round began. I think Mike’s southpaw style had Rico slightly uneasy, but with only five rounds to get it done, he had no choice but to step it up.

He did just that, and came out for round three with a lot more purpose, and his aggression changed the tone of the bout.

While Mike’s defensive ability wasn’t bad, he just didn’t know how play off Rico’s offense to mount his own and Rico effectively took the fight away from him.

Mike also started looking a little tired, and I’m going to guess that this was likely caused by being too tense in there. To his credit, despite his depleted energy reserves, he came out hard for the final round. He pressed forward, and tried to use his size to brawl it out in close. It was his only chance, and he went for it in what was a real gutsy display. It just wasn’t enough to earn him the victory.

The final scores were unanimous, 49-46, 48-47 and 49-46

The second fight of the night featured the youngest fighter on the show, 26 year old Ryan Coyne and at age 41, by far the oldest in Tim Flamos (pictured).

Fought often at close quarters, it turned out to be a bloody encounter when a nasty gash opened up above Ryan’s right eye after a clash of heads in the second round. With Tim constantly moving forward, and Ryan fighting out of a southpaw stance and having the habit of covering up and falling into a clinch when pressured, this was always a danger.

Despite having a clear edge in hand and foot speed, Ryan wasn’t able to keep the fight at a safe distance. He had John exasperatedly screaming from the corner, “What are you doing!? Move! What are you doing!? Move to your RIGHT!”

John kept trying to tell Ryan that he could make the fight easy, but Ryan either wouldn’t or couldn’t follow his instructions. Meanwhile in the other corner, Tommy calmly told an increasingly tired looking Tim to put his punches together and work the body.

The action was sloppy, but exciting, as Tim kept plowing forward and forcing Ryan to exchange. While this type of fight gave Tim a chance, he never really had the upper hand. Ryan still had the speed edge, and when he let his hands go, Tim was a very east target. There were a few occasions, when he caught Tim leaning in with huge uppercuts.

All in all, it was a closely contested battle and for the first time this season, there was some doubt about who would get the decision.

The final scores were…

49-46 Ryan

48-47 Tim

48-47 Ryan

Ryan moves on, where he’ll face Rico in the final fight of the second round. That’s if his cut heals in time. As mentioned earlier, it looked bad.

The other second round matches are…Felix Cora Jr. vs Troy Ross (next week), Alfredo Escalera Jr. vs Akinyemi Laleye and Deon Elam vs Hino Ehikhanemor

- Andrew Fruman e-mail
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Friday, January 23, 2009

Betting On Boxing - Ngoudjo vs Urango

By Michael Nelson

In a meeting of battle-tested jr. welterweight contenders, Canadian, Herman Ngoudjo and Colombian, Juan Urango will slug it out for a vacant title belt. The bout takes place in Ngoudjo's hometown of Montreal, and will be the main event for ESPN2's Friday Night Fights.

Both men have had their shots at the big time in the past, but have come up just short so far. Winning the strap could mean another chance on the big stage, so this is an important fight for the pair of willing combatants.

Our handicapping expert, Michael Nelson, gives his thoughts on what the smart play is for what could be a hotly contested bout.

Juan Urango vs. Herman Ngoudjo

Betting Line - Juan Urango: +120 Herman Ngoudjo: -150

My adjusted line - Juan Urango: +125 Herman Ngoudjo: -160

I'm with the odds makers here, this is one of the more evenly matched fights on paper of the new year. Juan Urango is a bull with punishing power but slow feet. Herman Ngoudjo is a well-schooled fighter who doesn't do anything extraordinarily well, but is solid all around. I have gone back and forth on who the likely victor is, a quagmire born out of the fact that while Urango can certainly be outboxed, the fighters who gave him most problems have used spoiling tactics to do so. Herman isn't a man who will stink out an arena. The question then becomes, can Herman withstand the power of the bull?

After all, Ricky Hatton, #12 on our Pound-For-Pound list, almost saw his glamor bout with the Pretty Boy slip away after Juan gorged him in the fifth round of their fight. Ricky was putting on a show, wowing the crowd with beautiful footwork and head movement, until he was nearly broken in half with a body shot. From that point on, he showed off his talent for grappling more than his footwork, punching and then grabbing Urango before he could return fire. Though he won a lopsided decision, fans were largely unimpressed. Similarly, Naoufel Ben Rabah wanted no part of an exchange with the bull. In perhaps the worst fight of 2006, he took advantage of the cinder blocks on the end of Juan's legs to scamper around the ring and potshot. Juan escaped with a win most observers thought he didn't deserve.

Herman Ngoudjo doesn't run or hold often. To the surprise of many, he handled himself well in the trenches against Jose Luis Castillo back when Castillo was still considered a threat.
He badly staggered Paulie Malignaggi in a controversial loss in his first title shot, after a tit-for-tat eliminator battle against Randall Bailey resulted in a controversial win. In his last fight, he overcame a grotesquely swollen eye to gut out a decision against Souleymane M'baye. No longer the inexperienced pugilist who was knocked down by light hitting Emmanuel Augustus because of pure exhaustion, we have seen Herman Ngoudjo develop into a gritty, seasoned boxer.

That seasoning along with the strong right hand he possesses is why I give Ngoudjo the edge. His long right is a perfect weapon against Urango - a short, squat southpaw with leaky defense. His propensity to mix it up and get nailed in the process will always be a point of concern against a powerful opponent, especially one with a right hook as lethal as Juan's. But Herman has shown to have a sturdy chin. And when you have two durable fighters in the ring, the better schooled man wins more times than not.

Recommendation: Put a fair amount on Ngoudjo. I see him winning a competitive decision.

Michael Nelson

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Score it!... Leonard-Hagler (Part 2)

It's been more than twenty years since Ray Leonard's controversial twelve round split decision over Marvin Hagler, and fans are still arguing about who really won. Some say Leonard stole the title that night. Others maintain he was the worthy winner.

Today, our panel of Boxing Bulletin writers picks up where we left off yesterday, and offers up out scorecards for the final six rounds of that memorable fight.


"Leonard’s legs just can’t carry him the way they did earlier in the fight, and he’s forced to stand and fight at close range and just can’t do much to keep Hagler off him. Some nice body work from Hagler. He also mixed in some nice little hooks and uppercuts on the inside. Definitely the most effective round of the fight so far by either fighter. " - AF

"Hagler touched Leonard up; his right jab is landing repeatedly as Leonard tires. Ray has become increasingly more flat-footed, making the bout far more intriguing than it was in the early going." - MN

"Hagler finally starts getting his jab going and it leads to his best round of the night. Gets in several hooks and left hands along with solid body work." - ML


"Marvelous landed some brutal body punches." - MN

"Hagler fights his fight the majority of the round. Ray seems to need
to a breather at this point." - JV

"Easy round to score for Hagler." - LP


"Hagler has a full head of steam now and he hurt Leonard with a short left hand. Most of the round has Hagler drilling Ray with hard body and head shots on the ropes and Ray firing back with flashy flurries. Very exciting round. But I wouldn't call it a close one." - ML

"Marvin is really smacking Ray around now. 3 minutes of steady punishment interrupted by a few seconds of trickery." - LP

"Ray has a few shoeshines but nearly enough to overcome the beating he took." - JV


"Hagler's round due to rough inside work. Inside work that I'm not sure the judges took note of." - MN

"Marvin closed strong to take it." - ML

"I thought Hagler took it with some short shots at the end when Ray did nothing but hold on." - LP


"Leonard showed some true grit and gutted out this round, letting his hands go more than any other in the fight. Ray's round based on activity." - MN

"One of Leonard’s best rounds." - JV

"Leonard landed the harder punches. Amidst all the showboating that I didn't care for, he planted his feet and scored with hard shots, while Hagler pitter patted away." - ML

"If you give extra points for showboating, Ray takes it. But in terms of actual fighting, I thought they were dead even." - AF


"Not a whole lot happened in the final stanza. Hagler stalked and Leonard ran. Despite the courage SRL showed in the few rounds prior to this, boxing fans may have had a far more endearing image of how he performed in the fight if he finished strong. Then again, if he engaged he might have gotten dropped. Nevertheless, he decided to skip along the ropes showboating and gave Hagler the round." - MN

"All the effective stuff was done by Hagler. You can't win a round without fighting, and Leonard didn't do much of it." - AF

"Hagler's the only one who landed anything this round." - LP

"Ugh. Leonard just embarrasses Hagler. And Hagler embarrasses himself trying to out showboat Ray. Ray punctuates the whole night with the famous highlight reel shoeshine that wouldn’t have budged a 1st grader. But hey, Hagler let it happen." - JV

"Leonard didn't land everything in those flurries, but he landed more than Hagler. Marvin just followed him around the ring and let him out punch him off the ropes." - ML

To wrap it up...

Lee Payton and Andrew Fruman both scored the bout, 116-113 Hagler. Michael Nelson also had it for Hagler by a 115-113 tally, while Mark Lyons and Jon Vaci had Leonard as the winner by scores of 115-113 and 115-114.

Here are some of the ringside press scores:

As for the official cards, Leonard won by a 2-1 split verdict. Judge Dave Moretti called it 115-113 Leonard, while Lou Fillipo scored it for Hagler 115-113. Then of course there's Jose Guerra and his 118-110 card for Leonard.

Guerra scored rounds 7, 8 and 9 for Leonard. Both Moretti and Fillipo scored those for Hagler, as did the entire Boxing Bulletin panel. Our panel was in at least 80% agreement on 9 of the 12 rounds, 5 of which we had for Hagler.

How did you have it?

Did you agree with Moretti or Fillipo... or Guerra?

Part 1
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Score it!... Leonard-Hagler (Part 1)

Welcome to the first edition of Score It!

For the first installment of this series, we’ll look back to April 6, 1987. On that night, Marvelous Marvin Hagler put his middleweight title on the line against former welterweight champion, Sugar Ray Leonard. Debates have raged for over 20 years about who really won that evening, with both sides steadfastly believing they are right.

We've assembled a panel of Boxing Bulletin writers to judge the fight and explain their scores. Today, we'll break down rounds 1-6.

The Judges: Lee Payton, Mark Lyons, Michael Nelson, John Vaci and Andrew Fruman.


“Leonard's round fairly handily. He stuck some nice jabs in the early going, and threw a few combinations before tying Hagler up. The only definitive Hagler blows were a couple of body punches.” – MN

“Leonard didn’t sit still, while Hagler followed, never managing to close the distance enough to get off. Leonard meanwhile picked his spots nicely to stop and fire off scoring blows.” – AF


“As commentator Gil Clancy pointed out, it's puzzling why Hagler would come out in the conventional stance again. Did Hagler ever explain his rationale? He clearly did better in the first round when he switched to southpaw. One of the great mysteries in boxing. This is one of the rounds Leonard "stole"; it was about even going into the final 30 seconds, before Leonard landed 4-5 good blows.” – MN

“Hagler is still just following him around. Ray continues to land with right hands and gets in a nice hook. Leonard is clinching big time but Marvin just isn't doing any work.” - ML

“Leonard did nothing but run, hold and hit on the break, while Hagler chased and tapped the body while being held. Not enough really happened to warrant giving this to anyone, I’m calling it even” - LP


“Marvin really banged Leonard in the clinches and was the only one throwing anything real this round. The challenger's plan is obvious- run, hold, hit on the break, throw a couple decent shots and run some more. Good for show, but not enough to earn the round.” – LP

“I thought Hagler had a slight lead with a minute to go, thanks to his steady pressure and decent bodywork, but some clean right hands and a couple nice combos by Leonard over the final minute pushed him ahead.” – AF

“Finally Hagler started using his southpaw stance and landed several lead straight lefts. Leonard as usual came on in the second half, but not enough to steal the round.” – JV


“Another close one. Hagler landed some good body shots and poked Ray with a few left hands. Leonard potshotted, held, landed a very low bolo punch, and edged it with a combination at the end.” – MN

“Hagler didn’t land often, but he consistently pressed and unlike the two previous rounds, Leonard wasn’t able to flurry late and steal it. I wouldn’t argue with anyone who gave the last round to Hagler, and I wouldn’t argue with anyone who gave this one to Leonard. Both were razor close.” - AF


“This is the round Marvelous started putting some hurt on his elusive foe. Leonard did good for a minute, then Hagler worked him over.” - MN

I would have given an otherwise close round to Leonard, but Hagler buckled his knees with a right uppercut.” - JV

“Ray's best round, so far. He actually threw some meaningful shots
in there and was very accurate with right hands underneath and down the middle. It was all Ray until the champ got through on an exchange with 45 seconds to go that seemed to fire him up. He started working Leonard over and making him very uncomfortable, but was fought back the whole way. Hagler shook him a little at the end, but he was outworked, so I gave it to Leonard.” – LP


“Leonard bounces back with a strong round. Marvin presses forward but doesn't get much accomplished. Ray is visibly tiring but he paint brushes Hagler with several solid combinations the best of which was a right to the body and a hard hook to the head at the end of the round.” - ML

“Hagler managed to consistently get within punching range, but a spirited effort from an increasingly tired looking Leonard carried the round.” – AF

“Hagler did some good work on the inside with short punches, but Leonard landed the flashier punches and more of them.” - JV

We'll take a look at the second half of the fight tomorrow. Part 2

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sugar Shane Can Win, And Here's How... Part 2

by Lee Payton

Shane Mosley will attempt to make history this Saturday night, when he enters the ring with relentless Mexican fighting machine, Antonio Margarito, who is seen as the #1 welterweight in the world. The Tijuana Tornado is in the middle of a scary prime, and he is a prohibitive favourite to prevail, but Sugar Shane has never backed down from anyone.

In part 1, we examined the last time these two men were between the ropes. We also touched on their fighting reputations, and came to the conclusion that this fight will be something new and could be something special. In part 2 we'll take a closer look at how they stack up against each other and discuss some of the intangibles that Shane might be able to take advantage of on fight night.

© 2008 Ray Kasprowicz

Now for the physical ingredients. Here is a list of some important categories, and who I think holds the edge in each.

Age- Advantage Margarito. He's 30 to Shane's 37. Not much can be argued there. I'll just say that Shane is a dedicated prize fighter, who is always in shape. Tony is a similar kind of gym rat, but he has taken more than his share pf punches over a hard career, and you never know when that can show up.

Size- Even. Some would say that Antonio is bigger, but I disagree. Sure, Mosley boiled his body down to lightweight, but he was really a welterweight during his reign. Both are 147 lbers who have dabbled in the jr middleweight division. They are also basically eye to eye.

Power- Mosley has the bigger single shot. Margarito can also punch, but not quite as hard.

Hand Speed- Mosley, without a doubt.

Foot Speed- Mosley again, though he plants his feet most of the time these days.

Body Punching- Margarito goes there more often these days. His commitment to the ribs may bring out some of Mosley's best work downstairs.

Chin and Durability- Even. There is titanium in the jaws of both men.

Output- Margarito. Though I don't think he'll be allowed to get to the number he prefers as often as he has in the past.. I trust that he'll throw more punches than Shane in every round, or close to it.

Stamina- Margarito throws more punches so I'll give it to him. Both have done great work late in fights.

Defence- Mosley. Fitting that this category is listed last, as both warriors are offensive-minded fighters, but Shane can slip slower shots when he wants to so the edge goes to him. It's quick fighters that have hit him most in the past.

The score is 4-4-2. The fight looks a lot closer than Shane getting beat up and stopped late now, doesn't it?

Sometimes you can correctly pick a winner by recognizing what the fighters typically depend on to win, Then you can decide whether they are likely to find what they are looking for this time around.

Margarito depends on being bigger, stronger, tougher and not only outworking his opponent, but being the much busier fighter. It also helps if the guy can't take his punch over the short or long haul.

In this case, he's not bigger, stronger or tougher. Those are a wash. He will be the busier fighter, but as we covered earlier, Shane can do some things to keep him from achieving his desired activity level, like taking advantage of clinches, getting off first, and moving here and there to set up pot shots. In order to negate the flashier fighter's best work, I think Tony probably wants to be throwing about 90 punches a round, and I just don't think he'll get there in 6 or more of the 12 rounds this time. His opponent is a very tough customer, so erasing a solid lead with a stoppage will probably not be an option. He's going to have to start and finish fast this time.

Mosley depends on being faster than his opponent. These days, he needs their cooperation in there as well, because his mature legs don't like chasing movers. He prefers to bite down and fight it out, so quick cuties also annoy him. He's at his best against slower guys who will either stand in front or come to him all night. The tricky part is that Antonio Margarito comes as hard as anyone in the sport and too much pressure can bring out age in a hurry.

It looks like Shane's speed might be the telling advantage, so far.

Some would insist that Margarito is a better fighter in close and Mosley would be playing into his hands by standing his ground, but I think he can take advantage of some of the openings Tony leaves when he goes on the offensive. When he lets go, he typically does it with both hands and because of this, his face out there to be hit. If Shane stays in there, he can line up bombs that should wow the judges and those in attendance. There really is a lot of time and space to launch between those punches and the older man should still have the speed to get there.

The fact that Shane actually has a real boxing guy heading up his corner for this one could also boost his chances of pulling off the upset. Naazim Richardson knows his boxing and was the lead man for Bernard Hopkins when he undressed both Antonio Tarver and Kelly Pavlik. I'm sure that they studied enough tape and have come up with a realistic fight plan that the two believe in.

Mosley may also be the hungrier fighter that night. He wanted to make this fight more than Margarito did and it's been awhile since he was on top. He's intensely competitive, so I expect him to lay it all on the line. I expect both men to be at their best.

With all that said, I'm going on record as picking Shane Mosley by very close decision, though I do think a draw is a very real possibility. It might even be worth throwing a few bucks on. I don’t believe that he is as far gone as many others, nor do I think Margarito is just going to overwhelm him. Suggesting that there might be a knock out or a stoppage seems almost preposterous, in my opinion. This is a 12 round fight if ever there was one.

When all is said and done, Sugar Shane Mosley will have earned a decision over the top welterweight in the world by fighting his fight. He's not going to stick and move or stink out the joint by holding excessively. It's not in him. He's going to make his weapons matter most on this one important night. It will be close and hard-fought, but Shane will have put just enough sugar in Margarito's gas tank to beat him to the finish line.

Lee Payton
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Sugar Shane Can Win, And Here's How... Part 1

by Lee Payton

Sugar Shane Mosley has won world titles at 135, 147 and 154 lbs, he’s a future hall of famer, and was once regarded as the best fighter in the world, but when he takes on Antonio Margarito, he'll be facing the number 1 welterweight as a heavy underdog. Bookies have set the line as high as 4-1 against Shane, based mostly on his age (37) and the fact that he lost a close decision to Miguel Cotto, who was just stopped in 11 rounds by the Tijuana Tornado.

I have a few problems with the conventional wisdom surrounding this particular fight and so I am going to try to present a strong case for a Mosley victory on Jan. 24.

Photo © Ray Kasprowicz

Boxing fans often make the mistake of looking at the fighters' most recent battle and picking a winner based on who looked better. It's not a terrible general rule, but there are many things to consider before one can really determine how significant that factor will be.

For instance, was it a case of a bad style match-up? Was it a case of the challenger being better than he was on any other night? I also think that it's quite important to remember that these guys are human beings and therefore it is impossible for them to be 100% all the time or look like gold every time out. Fighters have off nights.

Let's look back on the last time these two were in a ring and see if we can find anything that directly relates to this fight.

Margarito was in the fight of his life with Cotto and was obviously inspired for the long-awaited occasion. He used his advantages in size and durability to walk down the Puerto Rican star until his man had nothing left. It was a massive win and he deserves all the acclaim he has received for fighting his heart out like that. Still, that style might suit him better than Shane's considering Miguel was moving back all night, only stopping to defend himself. Cotto allowed Tony to get into his rhythm by doing his work and then going off to the races again. It must have done wonders for Margarito's confidence to have taken his opponent's best and then be chasing him again a second later.

Shane will almost certainly stand his ground more and try to use his speed to get off first in order to mess with that rhythm. Another way Shane can break up the forward momentum is by clinching after he gets off, or whenever he is feeling uncomfortable. The two bodies will be coming together naturally quite a bit because of the styles anyway. It's up to the old man to take advantage of them, like his partner, the even older Bernard Hopkins, has done in his later years.

One more advantage Mosley has over Cotto is durability. He is a much more difficult guy to hurt, and has proven his granite chin throughout his career, only being in real danger one time in 50 fights. Tony will not be able to stun the iron man from Pomona with the same type of stuff, which makes a stoppage extremely unlikely.

Now let's have a gander at Shane's last fight. He engaged in a sloppy little slugfest with Nicaraguan former welterweight champion, Ricardo Mayorga. The two swung big between periods of inactivity and it was surprisingly even through 11 rounds. Then, in the last minute of the 12th, Mosley broke through with some slamming shots to the jaw of his wild adversary that finally put him down. After taking an 8 count and rising, Mayorga was knocked flat by a single left hook, one second before the final bell.

It was a memorable finish to a forgettable fight. Most fans expected the classier fighter to toy with the flawed brawler before blasting him out, and when it didn't happen, Shane had to be finished. No consideration given to the awkward style match-up, or to the idea that El Matador had actually got himself into decent shape.

I think assuming Mosley will lose based on those two fights is a mistake because none of the 4 fighters mentioned are anything alike.

Mayorga is unconventional, deceptively quick and swings for the homerun with every shot.

Margarito is conventional, relatively slow, and usually throws in combination.

Cotto is quick of hand and foot, can fight attacking or countering and keeps his hands high on defence. He got the decision over Mosley using tools that the Tijuana Ticker-Tester doesn't have.

Shane has fast hands and usually wins fights with power punching and athleticism.

So can we all agree that their most recent fights have nothing to do with this one, other than to state that Margarito is indeed closer to his prime? Great!

Tomorrow I'll analyze the physical tools each fighter brings to the dance, determine who holds what specific advantages and what it all means. I'll also be going on record with a prediction.

Read Part 2

Lee Payton
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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Welcome To The Hurt Business, Andre Berto

By Lee Payton

Luis Collazo let Andre Berto know what being a professional prizefighter is all about last night. For 12 rounds the two welterweight contenders exchanged painful blows in front of a lively crowd at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino, in Biloxi, Miss. The action was fast and fierce from the opening bell, to a finish that saw the best of both men emerge. One fighter confirmed what most of us already knew about him, while the other was forced into answering his toughest set of questions yet. Luis Collazo is back and Andre Berto has some tiger in him.

Entering the ring as a significant underdog did not seem to fluster the gutsy southpaw from Brooklyn, as he took his time in the opening stanza before pitching a sword-like straight left down the middle that sent his opponent falling backward into the ropes. He jumped on the youngster, but couldn't finish the job. After holding on to catch his legs and clear his head, Berto was able to stay out of trouble until he could get his own speedy licks in to close the round.

He seemed a little lost after 3 rounds. For the first time he wasn't able to overwhelm the man in front of him with his own impressive bursts of offense and athleticism, so he found himself getting roughed up on the inside whenever he stopped working. When the referee took a point away from Berto in the 4th round for excessive holding, it looked like the wheels were coming loose on the little hot rod, given that he also lost the round while searching for answers.

Despite all these new problems, the young man gutted out some of the middle rounds on work and desire, but couldn't put together anything consistent and had yet to hurt his man. Luis was feeling a bit gassed, so he took the opportunity to catch his breath and show off some cute defensive moves. Feeling like he may be leaving the door open, Colazo's corner urged him to let it all hang out down the stretch.

The 10th round was the worst 3 minutes of Andre Berto's career. He was outworked from start to finish and was the recipient of a lesson on in-fighting, given by his more experienced challenger. The Florida native was pressured steadily and battered around the ring. To his credit, he never stopped swinging, but was just trying to keep Collazo off him at that point.

Even when he did land something big during one of the numerous exchanges, he would just get swatted with something right back. In taking his licks and fighting back, Berto showed that he is no softy, but it wasn't looking great for his undefeated record. At this point I had it 96-93 in favour of Collazo.

Though the title belt that was on the line doesn't mean Berto is the welterweight champion, he certainly fought like one in trying to keep it. He took advantage of a winded opponent by letting his hands go enough for him to take the 11th and set the stage for what felt like a winner-take-all final round.

It had been a spirited contest that left both men weary and busted up. This kind of combat was something entirely new to the expertly guided young pug, but he passed the ultimate test when he put together a scintillating assault that showed how bad he wanted the fight. He slashed Collazo with power shots from everywhere and never stopped. Amazingly, his punches still had a lot of zip on them, even after the fantastic pace of the previous 11 rounds.

All of Berto's work finally paid off when a body shot folded Collazo with about 30 seconds left in the fight. Only his heart and and courage kept Luis from going down as he was clearly hurt and exhausted.

Both sides had good reason to believe their man took the fight and they let the two warriors know how much they appreciated what they just saw. When all was said and done, the only thing you could complain about was the hideous card of judge Bill Clancy, who somehow saw it 116-111 for Berto. It was made meaningless by two reasonable scores of 114-113 for Berto, who was awarded a unanimous decision.

With the loss, collazo falls to 29-4-0, but he proved his worth as a top fighter at 147 lbs, and showed that he won't lay down for anyone. Both fighters agreed to a rematch in the post-fight interviews and I'm sure boxing fans would tune in for a second go. Either way, I'm sure we'll see him again soon.

For Berto, he remains undefeated and surely learned more in this one fight than he had during his previous 23 combined. The bad news for him and his management is that fans will expect him to fight at this level from now on. He was just pushed to a new limit by a guy who everyone wants to see him fight again, and it's not going to get any easier for him at 147 lbs. While he definitely showed his massive fighting heart, he's got to tie up some loose ends on defense if he wants to give himself the best chance to be successful against top competition. It will be interesting to see how much he takes from this painful introduction to the hurt business.

There is extra pressure on Andre Berto to perform because he has been in the public eye more than most young fighters, and that's fair to an extent, but it would be a shame if TV dates, management, title belts, and defensive flaws made us lose sight of what makes this kid someone to keep an eye on. None of that other stuff matters when the fighter gives it everything he has in the ring.

Lee Payton
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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Berto vs Collazo Predictions

When top welterweights Andre Berto (145.8 lbs.) and Luis Collazo (145.6 lbs.) step into the ring on Saturday night much more than Berto's title belt will be on the line for the two fighters. The winner likely gets another fight on HBO, while the loser gets back in line and waits for another opportunity. However, it may not be that simple when all is said and done, as the veteran southpaw Collazo brings more to the table than the betting odds reflect.

Read on for predictions from the Boxing Bulletin staff.

If boxing followed a script, Berto would win this fight in impressive fashion to fulfill his potential as a star and set up big events with the likes of Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito or Shane Mosley, but chaos reigns supreme in this game. 43 year old greats aren't supposed to humiliate 26 year old undefeated champions. 7 foot, 320 lb monsters should be performing in professional wrestling rings, not wearing pro boxing gold. Old, erratic veterans have no business pounding on promising, young pugs...but it happens.

Despite Berto's world championship and all the big time exposure, he is still unproven against high level opposition. Collazo, on the other hand, has shared the ring with former world champions, Mosley and Ricky Hatton. Even though he lost both fights, he showed no fear in going head to head with a pair of elites, and that has to give him an edge over his somewhat green opponent. You get the sense that there is nothing Berto can do in there that the New York lefty hasn't seen before. The reverse may not be true.

That said, the current title holder has a few things working in his favour going into this fight, as well. The heavily tattooed Collazo hasn't been in a meaningful fight since he lost to Mosley in early 2007. He's been in the ring twice since then, but not against anyone who was there to give him anything more than a chance to work off some rust. It's unclear what kind of fighting condition the challenger will be in based on recent opposition, but he has had ample time to prepare for this fight, so he should be ready to go.

Another of Berto's supposed advantages is a wide-spread perception that Collazo is just good enough to beat the guys he is supposed to beat, but can't get over the hump against the best fighters around. That may be the case, but to be completely fair, Berto hasn't shown that he is on the level of Mosley or Hatton, who both held significant edges in experience over him at the time. This time around, he is the grizzled one.

All things considered, this may be a closer fight than many are forecasting. I'm not convinced that Berto should be considered on the elite level, nor do I think he is going to be comfortable against a strong southpaw who should still have some good work left in him. I think Berto's style is more suited to conventional fighters that will trade with him on the inside, where he can let go with his flashy bursts as leads or counters. For the first time in his career he may have to step outside of his usual style and just fight, if he wants to stay undefeated.

The Boxing Bulletin Staff Predictions:

I think Luis Collazo is going to push the youngster to places he's never been in his professional career, and show that he still has work to do, while raising his own profile. However, I also believe that there is substance to go with the hype surrounding young Berto and I suspect he's got enough fight in him to do the things necessary to convince the judges that he did just enough after 12 rounds.

In a fight that could go either way, I'm predicting that Berto scrapes by with a razor-thin decision. Some fans will turn on him, and calls of "overrated hypejob" will be plentiful, but the kid will have learned plenty by the time it's all over and the veteran will be invited back, so neither loses too much

-Lee Payton

I favor Berto to win a close decision.

-Michael Nelson

A lot of people are counting Collazo out, because of his showing in the Mosley fight, but he's better than that, and I wouldn't be too surprised if he pulled the upset. That said, I think the most likely outcome is Berto by a hard fought decision (7-5, 8-4 type scores).

-Andrew Fruman

This will be a very close fight. I feel that Collazo is the better fighter but he hasn't faced a live body in quite sometime. While Berto's competition isn't much for a champion, it has still been better recently.

Collazo will land the cleaner punches and Berto will throw more. In the end I think Berto's flash will get him a controversial SD over Collazo's substance. Andre pulls it out by the skin of his teeth.

-Mark Lyons
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Contender: Episode 6 Review

Troy Ross (Gold) 17-1-0 vs Lawrence Tauasa (Blue) 30-5-1

“You got caught, baby. You got caught. That’s it.”

Of the six bouts on the show so far, the one I would have least expected to end in a stoppage was this one. These were two experienced veteran fighters, each with a very realistic chance of going to the final.

If you watch this sport long enough though, you realize to expect the unexpected. A fight might look one way on paper, but in the ring, where it’s decided, anything can happen. The right punch in the right spot can stop anyone. It doesn’t matter who the fighter is, he may have never been down in his life, but he’s still vulnerable.

Hino’s win (and by the way, much to my surprise, he chose to fight his teammate Deon Elam in round two) last week meant the ball was still in the Gold Team’s court. With Rico Hoye’s elbow a little sore, and Tim Flamos also nursing an injury, two-time Canadian Olympian Troy Ross (pictured) stepped up to take the fight. Troy had been feeling good and ready to go since the show started. Now he’d get his chance.

Troy’s choice of opponent came as a bit of surprise. He selected the battle tested Samoan, now fighting out of Sydney Australia, Lawrence Tauasa.

As he does each week, host Tony Danza (in my opinion, the best host the show’s had so far) asked the matchmaker to explain his choice.

“Both Lawrence and I have a lot of experience,” said Troy. “And we wanted to make it fair across the board.” His response seemed to indicate that with two teammates still to go, it wouldn’t have been right to leave one of them with the toughest fight.

Lawrence looked delighted when his name was called and said he was just looking forward to the challenge. A sense of mutual respect was evident as the two fighters, who had become good friends since the start of the show, warmly shook hands.

Blue Team trainer John Bray summed up the match by saying fans could look forward to seeing two very polished, very educated fighters. “It’s going to be very technical, and for boxing enthusiasts, you’re in for a treat.”

Meanwhile Gold Team trainer Tommy Brooks had plenty of praise for the two fighters when he found them sitting together chatting at the kitchen table. “See, this is what I never see. This is true professionalism. This is true professionalism right here!”

There was no talk of making weight, or any other struggles this week. Both fighters appeared ready and confident.

The game plan for Troy was to use his jab, and if something opens up, take advantage of it. Plus, with a height and reach advantage over his shorter more compact opponent, Tommy advised Troy to stay off the ropes, “Not like the rest of these knuckleheads.”

For Lawrence, the strategy was to close the distance, not let Troy get comfortable, slip the jab and look to counter with power. John said simply, “When you make him miss, make him pay.”

Both fighters came out cautiously early in what was very much a feeling out type of round. Troy, fighting out of a southpaw stance, circled from the outside while probing from distance with his right jab, while Lawrence effectively slipped and looked to counter. Aware of the threat Lawrence posed, Troy made sure to keep himself at a safe range, although by doing so, he was really too far outside to be landing his jab.

With John yelling, “You got to get busy!” Lawrence slowly managed to get a little closer, and when Troy stuck out the jab, he found a few spots to score with counters which likely grabbed him the round on the scorecards.

After Troy’s tentative first round showing, Tommy had a little advice waiting in the corner. “This guy is walking in on you with his hands down. Straight 1-2. Right down the pipe. You can’t miss him, because he’s squared up. You can’t miss him.” Troy nodded calmly.

In the other corner, John told Lawrence that Troy had felt his power and would be a little more cautious about jumping in. “That means what you got to do is not wait for the counter.”

Following his corner’s advice, Lawrence came out a little more aggressively, looking to initiate the action. With Lawrence coming to him, Troy looked a little more comfortable than he had in the first round, and he found chances to snap home the 1-2 combos that Tommy had asked for.

Then came the shocker.

As Lawrence pressed forward with his hands a little too low, he was caught with a lead right hook.

It landed high on the temple. With his equilibrium suddenly askew, Lawrence stumbled forward, falling face first into the ropes.

It looked for a moment like he might not beat the count, but he managed to get up at 7. The ref yelled for him to put his gloves up, and while Lawrence responded to the order, he did so in such a manner that indicated the cobwebs hadn’t cleared. The ref decided to give him a chance anyway.

Troy pounced, and ripped hard combos to the head and body. Lawrence, with his back to the ropes, covered up without throwing back. As he helplessly drifted into a corner, the ref jumped in to save him. Just like that, it was over.

“You got caught, baby. You got caught." John said as he tried to console his fighter in the locker room.

"I got caught with a good shot."

"That's it."

Before leaving the arena, Lawrence said in his post fight interview, “This is the very first time this has ever happened to me. Being stopped. Being dropped. Being knocked down. It’s hard to take in… that after a sixteen year career, this has happened.”

Lawrence goes home, and Troy moves on, and of the six winners so far, he appears to be the most polished well rounded fighter. I think I might make him the favourite right now.

With only four fighters not to see action yet, next week will be a double header to close out the first round. I’ll be back then to recap all the action.

By Andrew Fruman e-mail
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