Tag Archives: Manny Pacquiao

The Promoter: Everything Is So Right In Boxing Land

Yes, Manny Pacquiao won a clear decision over Tim Bradley last Saturday, whether you believe the experts or the vox populi. No, it’s never good when a sport’s Result Generation System is broke. That’s how I feel about the latest megafight, if you care.

 Yet blest be we, the unpaid sporting pundit class, for we have no obligation to inveigh against unpopular outcomes before the sun next rises, nor must we trod the same old ground on Friday that pattering feet turned to stone by Monday morn. Since the ostensible mandate here at The Promoter is a celebration of boxing and all its foibles, let us talk of who emerged from Saturday’s mess smelling of fresh baked goods and dandelion wine.

 Boxing did pretty well for itself on Saturday: Pacquiao-Bradley was no classic, but it was a well-contested fight of high quality. Everlasting arguments have been generated from more dramatic fights (Chavez-Taylor comes to mind), and again, judges are often bad at their jobs, and yet no one was booing when I left my watching spot before the scores were announced.

 That watching-spot was a suburban Philly Hooters, and the crowd was “mixed,” to use a demographic euphemism. The kids across the table shoveled down a 50-wing pile (no more than 20 they were, with that sort of digestion sans beer) and talked about how they’d not missed “any fights” except for the last Mayweather fight, and their banter made me think that they’d probably watch the next Mayweather and(ha-ha)/or Pacquiao fight from a similar spot, possessed of similar analytical background. These are the casual fans that diehards so often talk about gaining or alienating, and really, if the big fighters are there, they’re there. The storylines, the press: they don’t follow. Boxing just needs to turn up one or two new fighters to beat the two stars of the moment, and it can roll along at its current mainstream level in America of 2-4 Big Fights for another five years. Stasis isn’t great, but it’s not death; a new Mexican-American star (remember that dude De La Hoya?) could break some non-heavyweight PPV records easy.

 So the scores sucked; if you’re a dialectician with a Marxist bent this can only mean that the sport’s structural issues are that much closer to resolving themselves through collapse. The contradictions are brought before the public at-large; the clamor for change gets louder; the oldheads who somehow still maintain a grip on power (i.e. one Bob Arum) make behind-scenes strides towards real reform even as they continue to amuse us with talk out of all available 78 sides-of-mouth. Or so the long delusioned can hope.

 That Manny Pacquiao is not shot and Tim Bradley is a game fighter (how could he ever go down, with that head of marble?) speaks well for the both of them, and whatever happens in the unknown Future, they have not covered themselves in shame this time out. Whether Bradley is able to handle the irrational scorn heaped on a fighter who gets an undeserving victory remains to be seen. He’ll always have respect from the Serious fight crowd, though, for what that’s worth.

 So there you are: the two main event fighters and the sport won on Saturday. Why do we even have judges?

Photo credit AFP

The Promoter: The Boss Hogg Gang

The Promoter could tell you that the long layoff this column ends was due to prioritizing, distractions, the monetarily uncompensated nature of this gig, and maybe just a wee touch of sloth, or if you want to minimize the moral judgment inherent in that word, a case of the old postmodern malaise.

As a window into the boxing world, however, we feel obligated to offer an excuse worthy of the modern Sweet Science: Let’s call it a “strained left middle knuckle” on top of some “serious dehydration resulting from a long Tuesday night.”

Alas, it’s been a slow start to the 2012 boxing year, and inspiration to write my way through these  serious physical obstacles has been lacking. The premiere early-year matchup, February’s rematch of welterweights Andre Berto and certified crazy-talker Victor Ortiz, was postponed to June.  Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao still aren’t getting together, and there’s been what feels like a good deal more controversy over scores than heated fights.

Even in dirty dealings, though, we must find some charms.  A studied, screw-it, too-cool cynicism is useful as one waits for something good to happen, but use it every day and you become a graying Jon Stewart: flinging your hands in every direction in response to all stimuli, and maintaining a following because there continue to be people who don’t remember that the time when you were allowed to merely point out a headline for a laugh passed after the late Clinton administration.  And if you just get angry every time something bad happens, well, we need your indignation for Change to occur, but good luck keeping the fire going anywhere other than Facebook after baby number two comes along.

Your average sort of scandal was on display this past weekend, as Action Star Brandon Rios missed the lightweight limit and then did approximately zero to earn a win against the lesser-known and not very exciting Richard Abril. The favored fighter wins, the commission (Nevada, in this case) says “Oh, it wasn’t that bad,” the losing team protests, and presumably, nothing happens.

Appreciating boxing’s foibles as a higher and darker level of comedy requires cartoon villains and more surreal situations than a simple scoring screw-job, though.  (Also, it helps to have a willingness to put aside the fact that these men (and sometimes women) are putting their bodies and lives on the line and getting screwed).  One “Jackass” type example of such absurdity is last August’s fight in which Joseph Agbeko suffered about 700 balltaps–in that case incompetent referee Russell Mora did take a demotion to the 4-rounders for a while, but he was back on TV this winter.

Most of the Big Screw-Jobs lately have come from Texas.  Texas is a pretty great place to hold a fight for promoters, who like making money.  There’s plenty of big markets there, with lots of nice venues, and lots of rich folks, and it’s really close to Mexico, a country that still likes boxing enough to tune into big fights like they’re Super Bowl commercials.  Texas also boasts the best (worst) characters in the sport of late, and the most Pythonesque endings.

Take the James Kirkland-Carlos Molina fight from March 25.

Through most of 10 rounds, Molina negated Kirkland’s power with lots of wrestling, which was boring, but referee Jon Schorle did nothing about it.  Right before the bell sounded in round 10, Kirkland dropped Molina on a left to the chin.  Molina stood up; Schorle gave the count; the bell had rung.  Then Schorle decided he had to stop the fight, since according to the rules Molina’s cornerman coming through the ropes for a second when the count was still going, after the bell had rung, was grounds for disqualification.  Schorle was forced to stop the fight, or so said the announcement.

Here’s the from-the-rules doubletalk:

‘As special and unique circumstances arise in the sport of boxing, not all of which can be anticipated and addressed explicitly in these Rules and Regulations, the President of the WBC, in consultation with the WBC Board of Governors, has full power and authority to interpret these Rules and Regulations, and to issue and apply such rulings as he shall in his
sole discretion deem to be in the best interests of boxing.’

Q.E.D., indeed.

In a just universe, the fans would get to see that fight finish. Can Kirkland finish him?  Can Molina hang on?  Instead, there was a stoppage on a technicality that wasn’t even properly enforced.

So we can complain (and you should), but that’s not a coping mechanism.  My method for dealing with the clowns in the smoke-free backrooms is imagining them as something like Boss Hogg in “The Dukes of Hazzard:” hatching all sorts of plans to rob widows of their property and extending credit to carnies while mixing drinks out of beer mugs and smacking around Sheriff Rosco.

Someday (I do hope) boxing will find its Good Ole Boys who’ll do some serious harm to the way it works.

Not all was gloom in this first quarter of 2012.  Juan Manuel Lopez and Orlando Salido put on a great fight in early March, with Salido earning another win with a 10th round stoppage.

The 9th round is the current frontrunner for Round of the Year:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pm8KocyaAA0

And there’s good stuff a-coming!  Floyd Mayweather took about the best fight sans Pacquiao he could, taking on Miguel Cotto on May 5th, which will again be a crazy sporting day what with the debauched Kentucky Derby and all manner of NBA and NHL playoff action.  Some rich guy sometime needs to take the May First Saturday challenge and hit as much sporting action as he can, dropping out of helicopters to sit courtside and trackside and ringside like drivers who do the Indy 500-Coca Cola 600 double on Memorial Day weekend.

Until next week (maybe!), keep your dukes up.

Photo credit: CBS

The Promoter: A Brave New 2012

There’s nothing death-and-taxes about the boxing game. It doesn’t even afford us the courtesy of a simple, encapsulable season that scribes can break down with a list of winners and losers to be; there’s no divisions and conferences and championships, no best bargains or silliest signings.

There is no offseason; there’s always a fight to watch, no matter how obscure.

Yet January’s a slow month for the sweet science, we need something to talk about, and there’s nothing I can add to the Muhammad Ali birthday tributes.

So, by default, it’s time for some irresponsible prognostication. We’ll do a few near-certainties, and mostly talk about the best case scenarios, the coming Good-if man is still alive.

For those needing social media attention, retweet this column with an “@” aimed at one of the boxing rumor sites and it’ll probably get reported as a “deal in the works” item within a half hour. The Internet’s so much fun.

Beginning with the big fishies…

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will meet in November

The Twittersphere is alight these days with Mayweather calling out the Filipino. Floyd’s jail stint, originally scheduled to start this month, has been pushed back to accommodate his May 5th reservation at the MGM Grand. If only landlords let us commoners delay rent payments for dates with the Golden Corral Chocolate Fountain. Other possible opponents for both men come with far less intrigue. Yet the long-desired #1 vs. #2 fight won’t happen this spring.

The night before the contracts are to be signed, Evil Promoter Bob Arum will release an old video of Manny singing John Lennon in English, with Tagalog subtitles that say, in effect, Sarangani, my homeland, YOU SUCK I HATE YOU DIE, PLEASE.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlmCHrNFRkE

The resulting need for political damage control scraps the spring encounter, and Pacquiao ends up beating Miguel Cotto in a close June bout, while Floyd uses nothing but open-handed slaps to beat Mexican wunderkind Canelo Alvarez on points, on Cinco de Mayo.

After the protests in always volatile Mindanao die down and Mayweather gets free, there will be no excuses: The fight will take place November 3. Ron Paul’s independent presidential campaign will outbid all Vegas casinos, and hold the fight equidistant between Las Vegas and Manila on the recently purchased U.S.S. End The Fed, a former naval aircraft carrier serving as the pirate radio headquarters and party boat for 20,000 of the Texas congressman’s most righteously bearded 20something antiwar weed-smoking dudes.

The “Mission Accomplished” banner unfurled at fight’s end, no matter who wins, will be delicious in its irony.

The Klitschko brothers will fight for all the Commie marbles

It’s been a long, long, (indeterminable without Wikipedia’s help) time since the two Ukrainian “brothers” didn’t knock around halfassed contenders to defend their variety of heavyweight belts. Not one, but two Dragos have been beating the hell out of American heavyweights for years. I hope that you’re appropriately ashamed (fellow U.S. citizen and probable Eighties child who thought the Cold War happened in Canada).

Like any good product of Marxist dialectics, though, the Klitschko contradiction will resolve itself this year.

After Mrs. Heroes & Wladimir split this spring, citing “continental issues” i.e. philosophical differences w/r/t Wladimir being a FREAK, the often underaggressive champion decided to get his DNA analyzed. Results resulted, and it was found that there are in actuality 307 Klitschko “brothers,” the last great gasp of the Soviet labs, and any memory the heavyweights have of a shared childhood is merely the product of hallucinatory imprinting that would’ve been just awesome, man, if Solidarity hadn’t got all up in the way, you know.

Vitali will beat his little “brother’s” ass.

Madness in the middling weights

The Klitschkos will be a big story, but the big talent and money in boxing is in the 140 through 160-pounders. There’s a slew of guys who can fight, because for some reason even the most heavily muscled or quickest of that approximate size don’t have a whole lot of other athletic options in sport.

New HBO Sports headman Ken Hershman will recognize this market opportunity and get together the biggest bracket ever to happen in the sweet science, seeding a slew of average-heighted action stars into a 32-fighter tournament, including pound-for-pounders Juan Manuel Marquez and Sergio Martinez; the brutal Brandon Rios, Marcos Maidana, and James Kirkland; Mexican stars Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.; and some British guys. Or so a boy can dream.

The General Public will demand the winner faces the Mayweather-Pacquiao victor. It will never happen.

The Promoter: Hey, Do You Remember 2011?

I do.

There are few rules for writing on the Internet.  In my understanding, these include:

1) Write far more than you have to say.

2) Make lists of whatever, the more nonsensical the category the better.

2a) Lists should include attractive women in scarce clothing.

3) Make everything a joke, even if you’re serious about it and lack any sort of comedic talent.

At calendar-flipping time, it’s best to stick with the rules to get on the year-end lists of lists.  So here we go, with The Promoter’s first and last Summing-Up of Boxing Significance & Happenings in Our Last & Final Roundabout of the Sun.

Contests Of Mostest Violence

The fun thing about following boxing in these Internetting times is those blessed hardcore fans who dredge up obscure bouts held across stormy seas, which are often bloodier and more drama-filled  than the slickly produced big-name fights on our declining American shores.  Really, the Internet is one big VHS highlight tape, except you don’t have to subscribe to Sports Illustrated anymore and wait on your mailperson’s late afternoon arrival.

For all the fights available in the States, on HBO and Showtime and ESPN and the Mexican and British networks, since YouTube became an Institution there always seems to be a Little Man fight somewhere in Asia or France that produces more gore than anything we see over here.  The names are unpronounceable, but the action is real.  In 2006, Mahyar Monshipour and Somsak Sithsatchawal kicked off this trend with a fight that stoked enough Internet flames to win The Ring’s Fight of the Year.

This year’s contenders include Akira Yaegashi and PORNsawan PORPramook, from Tokyo. Watching this fight tired me out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uv6PgYTM_I

Throw 60 uppercuts into the air in 3 minutes, repeat 10 times, and see how you’re feeling in the morning.  I guarantee it wouldn’t feel better if someone was hitting you, even a guy who weighs the same as your eighth-grade girlfriend.

Porpramook must be a common Thai surname, because Kompayak also put on a Tiny Man barnburner with Adrian Hernandez.  I start watching this fight, but then the  Geocities-quality flames burn my eyeballs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhvYdiGHnw0

2011’s Great White Hope

Sorry. There’s a few, maybe, but they’re all from Soviet nations.  They abhor capitalism, and thus do not count.

Best Terminator Impression

Brandon Rios walks men down:

Marcos Maidana is a close second, but he only had one fight of note in 2011:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Am3o0uxIH3E

The Crazy In Love Award, for In-Ring Romantic Turmoil

Victor Ortiz is a crazy sumuvasomething:

You want to get dirty, I got dirty…I let the best of me get away. For that, I started feeling bad. That’s why I was like, ‘Floyd, man, my bad, yo. I apologize, man.’ So I gave him a hug. That got me to feel human once again in the ring,..”And when I felt human, I paid for it.
Although, you know what? I take it as a learning lesson and a learning experience. And the next time, it ain’t going to be that. If I’m going to head butt you I’m going to break your nose the next head butt.

This is what happens when you headbutt and then kiss Floyd Mayweather:

Old Guys Getting Feisty

Crotchety old HBO commentator Larry Merchant getting nasty with Mayweather in the aftermath of the above shitshow only added to the hilarity:

Breakout Girlfriend of the Year

Carl Froch lost a wide decision to Andre Ward in the finals of Showtime’s Super Six super middleweight tournament on December 17, but his girlfriend Rachel Cordingley was the promotion’s breakout star:

She’s a real working-class charmer, too; a chav in the truest Burberry and Stella sense-check the lungs on this one:

And ladies, I don’t want to hear anything about sexism; there are shirtless men everywhere in this column.

Moving on…

Most Boring Backstory

We haven’t talked since Lamont Peterson beat Amir Khan in a close, action-packed fight on December 10th, but it was boxing’s upset of the year.  Peterson grew up on the DC streets (and we’re not talking Dupont Circle) with his brother Anthony, a fine fighter in his own right, and now is in the mix to face Manny Pacquiao.  You will never hear anything about this storyline ever again.

Hey, Some Knockouts!

Nonito Donaire is a Filipino DYNAMO in SLO-MO. Ever hear of anyone like that? Didn’t think so:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBYD_q2g9C0

A worthy minute of distilled welterweight action from a damn good fight on the Marquez-Pacquiao III undercard; Mike Alvarado comes back to beat former Amir Khan knocker-outer Breidis Prescott:

Proof that even Soviets can knock guys out, albeit in empty German ballrooms (the End comes around 4 minutes in):

And 23 minutes of Finality from this year’s Friday Night Fights; there were a bunch of good ones on the WorldWideLeader this year:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJzQaKEEY-0&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PLD4F7211AF6151071

Next week we’ll do some highly irresponsible prognostication for the Year in Which the World Will Be Knocked Out. Until then, keep your coupon clippings, folks.

The Promoter: Won, Lost, Who Knows? You Do.

Juan Manuel Marquez won his fight with Manny Pacquiao last weekend, and it wasn’t close.

The fight itself was close. But the big winner was Marquez, and it might have been better for Manny if he had lost rather than won.

Do you follow?

The short of it, the Bottom Line style takeaway, was this: Manny Pacquiao defeated Juan Manuel Marquez on a majority decision, with scores of 116-112, 115-113, 114-114; CompuBox had Pacquiao landing 117 power punches to 100 for Marquez.

Those numbers don’t mean jack in the overall picture, which is a source of frustration for the casual fan and provides plenty of conversational fodder for the initiated.  They aren’t points scored or goals allowed.  The judges’ decision is legally binding and goes on a boxer’s record, but doesn’t determine the next fight he takes.  Despite the futuristic name, CompuBox “statistics” are nothing more than the judgment calls of a ringside punch tracker.

Someday electrodes implanted under fighters’ skin will register punches and declare winners on cell damage differential.  For now, boxing is one of the few sports left where your opinion counts.

It’s my humbleish opinion, after three viewings, that Marquez won a close decision. I scored it twice for him and once for Pacquiao, while admittedly trying to give Manny rounds.  This opinion puts me in a  majority among the fans who felt that the Mexican won a close decision, and that the judge giving Pacman eight rounds (116) to Marquez’s four (112) was way off base.

Why did I see it this way?  I’m looking for clean, hard punches.  Marquez landed a few more; a number of those scored by CompuBox for Pacquiao were from his sometimes slappy right hand.  I’m also looking for not getting hit (ie “defense”), and Marquez did plenty of that too.  Finally, if it’s close on those factors (and it was), I do consider what is broadly termed “ring generalship,” or who controlled the action.  Although Pacquiao moved forward a lot more, it wasn’t moving with purpose; Marquez kept stepping out and to his left just enough to keep Manny off-balance and uncertain about when he should attack.

Why are people screaming robbery?  Besides the fact that Marquez was guaranteed $10 million in a rematch clause should he have won, I think it’s mostly because Marquez made it his fight, scoring with counterpunches all night.  He never let Manny come forward in the rushing demonry that made the Filipino a star, making him look frustrated and confused.  In addition, Juan Manuel was such a massive underdog going in that he vastly exceeded expectations, so even a fight that could arguably be scored a draw seems like a big win.  All the talk leading up to the fight from the Pacquiao camp was “we’re going to put this guy out for good.”  He didn’t.

Also, it’s fun to yell.  We can argue over the merits of quarterbacks or point guards, but eventually someone will go to “Scoreboard!” or “Count the Rings!”  Percentages and counting stats are endlessly cited.  In an age of high-definition instant replay, the results of individual games in the team sports are open to little interpretation.  Outrage has been mostly eliminated at the rules and officiating; venom for poor outcomes must be turned on players and coaches.  Boxing fandom allows one to access that fount of scorn for misguided authority that otherwise must be directed into the political sphere, and who wants to talk about that.

If you only know these three fights from the record books Marquez has lost twice and drawn once, in a fight he was knocked down thrice in the first round. That these two might very well go at it a fourth time might seem strange, but it means that Juan Manuel Marquez has again shown himself to be one of the best in the world. At 38.  That’s winning.

Moving forward

Not only did Marquez win in the Court of Public Opinion, but promoter Bob Arum announced within 24 hours that he was planning on making Marquez-Pacquiao IV, rather than aiming for a Mayweather fight.  Not only did this confirm the bias of many after Saturday’s fight that Manny would get picked apart by Floyd Jr. (like Marquez, a counterpuncher, except bigger), it gave Juan Manuel all sorts of leverage in negotiations.   Not that he needed more: 37 million households tuned in from Mexico.  Percentage-wise, those are Super Bowl-type numbers.  Say boxing struggles in the States, even call it dead, but it has plenty of homelands worldwide where it’s doing just fine.

It might not be fair to Pacquiao, but his close win, perceived to be a bit of Vegas favoritism by many,  and the fact that he didn’t explicitly admit defeat in post-fight interviews turned him into something of a villain, in the course of an hour.  Redemption cycles happen quickly in the fight game, though, and a vintage performance in his next outing can put him right back in the public’s good graces.

Marquez put a cherry on his his good night early Sunday morning, when he left the ring immediately and only deigned to give the HBO interview in his locker room, naked, with a sombrero covering his nether regions.  Super cool.

This week’s celebrity sightings

Brad Pitt took a break from his adoptive menagerie to knock out Victor Oganov in Australia, in a cruiserweight bout.

I’ve never actually heard of Tony Conquest, but it’s a pretty great name for a boxer, as well as a Roman emperor or a porn star.  He needs a writer, though: his given nickname is “Conqueror.”

Quick Hit Destruct-o Fun

Featherweight Luis Zarazua fights as a pro for the second time on the undercard of this weekend’s Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Peter Manfredo fight.  Zarazua’s first pro fight didn’t last too long.  You don’t need to watch anything past a minute in this video.

Till next week-ish, keep those feet moving.

 

 

The Promoter: After the One-Two Comes Pacquiao-Marquez III

Let me introduce myself.  The name’s  Josh and/or Brokaw.  The  game?  Words, on a good day.  We’ll not discuss the bad.  My purpose in these pages is celebrating and promoting the Sweet Science; exhorting the beautiful, ignorant masses into a passing awareness of the sport that serves as metaphor for all others.

Like all promoters, I might fall into the trap of getting a bit too excited about my subject. If your municipality hasn’t already banned the deadly substance, keep your salt ready.

This coming weekend’s biggest and best fight boasts something most bouts cannot: One Manny Pacquiao, a guy you’ve probably heard about even if your news comes exclusively from ESPN and Time magazine, you poor, uncultured sap.  Manny is mainstream enough that he participated in an advertising campaign that also featured a girl from that Glee show.  He smiles big, he speaks adorable Tagalog-accented English, and he’s going to be the president of the Philippines someday. There are many people who believe this marketer’s dream will win on Saturday in impressive knockout fashion.  The books right now have a wager of $100 on Manny returning $10 in profit.  He’s favored.

Why watch? you say.  It’ll be a stomping or a runaway.

A fair point.  Most recent ‘megafights’ have fed Pacman or ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather a name opponent who no one thought going in had any real shot at a win.

Yet in the underdog’s corner this Saturday there is a future Hall of Famer, who has in two previous fights drawn and lost a close split decision with the Philippine hero.  If you haven’t seen Juan Manuel Marquez, at 38 he’s still arguably the second-best technical boxer in the world; he might not have the most pop, but he can counterpunch you to death.  In recent years he’s come out of the shadows of countrymen Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera to become a quintessential Mexican action star in his own right, knocking out Juan Diaz, Joel Casamayor and Michael Katsidis

Wait, what? you say.  Wasn’t that one of the dudes Mayweather stonewalled a while back? And didn’t you feel dumb for inviting friends over to watch a Money May fight, because you should have known better than to count on him for action?

Well, yes, but Marquez was outreached and outweighed in that fight…

And isn’t Pacquiao-Mayweather supposed to be THE fight that we all want to see? Fight of the (Young) Century level?  So isn’t Manny just going to run through this old guy?

Well, yes, Manny and Floyd going at it is the Ideal.  But no, I don’t think those $10 to win $1 odds on Pacquiao are quite right.

This rivalry wouldn’t exist if Nevada ever used the old three knockdown rule; Marquez came back from getting flattened thrice in their first round of ring acquaintance to win the fight on a whole slew of observers’ cards.  Listen to the intro talk from that 2004 fight, and you can hear storylines that’ll be coming at you on Saturday: Is Marquez too old?  Too slow?  Pacquiao too fast and strong?

Round One of Fight One starts around 7:00

The second fight was a similar story: Pacquiao scored one knockdown, and Marquez took more rounds.  How many more, I don’t know. It’s a back-and-forth every time you watch it sort of fight.

Fight Two

The bloxosphere’s communal wisdom, like the books, has Pacquiao winning this fight, but no one’s sure how it’s going to happen.  Some say in quick knockout fashion (like he did to Ricky Hatton), some say in the later rounds after beating Marquez down (see Miguel Cotto), some think he’ll take a tough decision, perhaps busting Marquez up in the process (reference the remnants of Antonio Margarito’s face).  No one thinks the fight will be boring, like Manny’s outings against the Shell of Shane Mosley and honorary Ninja Turtle Josh Clottey.  Like any honorable Mexican fighter, Marquez is coming to win or go home flat.

It is fair to say that Manny is bigger, quicker, better, and younger…

Those might not be the right words to spark your interest. Let’s break down those advantages, with a little in-my-head summary of the arguments for the inevitable Pacquiao victory, followed by my counterattack.

Manny has superior size: He has shown comfort fighting at welterweight (147 lbs.).  Marquez, in his only foray into the class, looked crappy against Mayweather and hasn’t proved he can hang at the weight.  He’s like, way stronger.

Yeah, But: Their weights at fight time in March 2008 were both about 145 lbs. Manny has gotten stronger, but Marquez has seen him at this weight before. More importantly, Mayweather outreached Marquez by five inches. Manny has him by an inch.  I doubt this difference has changed in the last three and a half years.

Manny is too quick:  Marquez is slowing down, and straight-ahead fighters like Diaz and Katsidis got to him in the past two years, whereas they wouldn’t have got close back in ’06 or ’07.

Yeah, But: Manny might be a tad slower too, these days.  Furthermore, he was quicker in both of their previous fights, and it didn’t earn him decisive wins.

Manny is way better : He has improved tremendously since their last fight, becoming a two-handed fighter with real boxing skills.

Yeah, But: Manny’s definitely got more of a right now and throws in a shoulder roll here and there.  How much improvement he’s made, though, is hard to tell. While Pacquiao’s skills certainly have had plenty to do with his wins, there’s an argument that since he last fought Marquez, he’s seen nothing but guys who were already well past their best days.  His ring intelligence has increased, but it still pales in comparison to Juan Manuel’s.

Manny will win because: He’s younger.

Yeah, But: Sometimes fighters get old.  Don’t blame me if it happens here. Could happen to Manny, too, but I doubt it.  At the very least, that Marquez drinks his own piss in training has to come with some sort of record-setting placebo effect, even if the beverage doesn’t have an actual salutary effect.

What 2 Watch 4

Please note that I’m not begging you to buy this fight; it’s expensive, and the undercard isn’t nearly as good as next month’s Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito rematch.  Google is your friend if your Saturday night plans go awry; YouTube is helpful in the first 24 hours afterward.  HBO will replay it a few times in the next week or two.

What I’m watching for in the early going is both fighters’ front hands. If Manny’s getting jabs through early, some combination of his improvement and Marquez’s slowing has happened, and it will be an easy night for the Filipino. Conversely, if Juan Manuel gets through his hook-uppercut hybrid left to the body early, he’s in it.

If Marquez gets through round 3 without his trunks touching canvas (and if he does go down, it will be on a short, sharp left while he’s throwing a too-wide right) and he’s not otherwise overwhelmed, it will be the Mexican’s fight to lose. The early knockdowns were the difference in the scoring outcome of the first two fights, and weathering the early storm got Marquez to middle rounds where he controlled the action and racked up points.  If you can find a prop bet after 4 or so on the winner, even odds on Juan Manuel is plenty fair in my view.

Promotional Whimsy
Manny and Juan Manuel show their singing chops on Mexico’s Big Brother/American Idol mash-up La Academica. Someone with better Spanish skills can tell me what Marquez’s song is, but Pacquiao does “Imagine.”

The Week That Was
James Kirkland obliterated Alfredo Angulo in 6 last weekend, in a light middleweight fight that was a long time in coming. Kirkland, one of boxing’s hottest properties before going away on a firearm charge in Texas in September ’09, was knocked down by the heavy-handed Angulo in the first and looked finished after one. HBO has destroyed all extant online versions of the video, but when it comes up again you gotta see it. If Manny and Juan Manuel beat that fight for excitement on their huge stage, they put themselves in the all-time trilogies discussion.

Required Reading
Former Heavyweight Champion of the World and inspiration for the Rocky series Joe Frazier passed away Monday night at 67.
SBNation’s Bad Left Hook has about all the boxing coverage you need, and it is all over the Frazier tributes, interviews and fights. If you really want to despair over the current state of sports letters, though, put on your polyester and read Mark Kram’s 1975 Sports Illustrated story on Ali-Frazier III, the Thrilla (in Manila).

Till next week, keep your hands up.