The Harder They Fall: Anthony Joshua KO11 Wladimir Klitschko

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The first thing you notice is that the size difference is fairly breathtaking. That, by the way, is just the two combatants as compared to the mere mortals surrounding them, who, it is impossible to ignore or discount, are in particularly conspicuous supply for this, the biggest Heavyweight boxing match in recent memory. But the size disparity is striking. These are two behemoths – 6’6” tall and 250 pounds apiece – not Joe Frazier heavyweights or Mike Tyson heavyweights. The calling card of those two long-ago all-time greats was savage ferocity. For Anthony Joshua, current alphabet titlist and the sport’s latest anointed savior, and Wladimir Klitschko, the long-time division kingpin turned 41-year-old comeback kid, it is sheer size, or at least that is the primary draw among many. Continue reading “The Harder They Fall: Anthony Joshua KO11 Wladimir Klitschko”

Beauty before age: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez UD12 Miguel Cotto

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Once imagined as an answered prayer, the long-awaited showdown between the two greatest fighters of this generation, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, was instead a fairly epic failure, widely purchased and even more widely reviled, and, months later, lingers as a topic of uncomfortable conversation and a general pox on the house of boxing. Gun-shy consumers still smarting in the aftermath of May’s grand non-event voted with their shuttered wallets when offered the opportunity earlier this fall to anoint a new pay-per-view star, Kazakh destroyer Gennady Golovkin. Even from the perspective of someone who did not buy that fight card live, or particularly feel it PPV-worthy, it was still a disappointing result, despite solid in ring efforts at the top from Golovkin and direct support Roman Gonzalez, the post-Floyd world’s current #1 pound for pound entrant. Continue reading “Beauty before age: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez UD12 Miguel Cotto”

Drop the hammer, Hammer the nail: Gennady Golovkin TKO8 David Lemieux

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For a taste of the degree to which boxing was both predominant within and invaluable to the twentieth century sporting landscape, one needs look no further than its numerous, enduring idiomatic contributions to the greater sports lexicon. Most are so subtle and ingrained that we don’t even realize the origin as we say them. “On the ropes,” “down for the count,” “below the belt,” “roll with the punches,” “cornered,” “laying the leather,” “going the distance,” “delivering the knockout blow,” “sucker punch,” “ringside seat,” “throw in the towel,” and so on, to infinity and beyond. It will take generations yet of studied, institutional indifference to effectively work boxing metaphor and terminology completely out of the play-by-play calls of all your other favorite sporting events, particularly on Saturdays and Sundays, and even then only if boxing cooperates by finally succumbing to the all-encompassing “death” that so many observers, whether casual or, more often, anything but, have prescribed and pronounced for it over the past 25 years or so. Continue reading “Drop the hammer, Hammer the nail: Gennady Golovkin TKO8 David Lemieux”

Baptism by Fire: Lucas Matthysse MD12 Ruslan Provodnikov

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Of all the televised sports, boxing is arguably the most visceral, the most capable of transmitting the action on screen directly into the brain and gut of its viewer with straight line speed and deadly accuracy. Most everyone, after all, can appreciate and wonder at the artistry of a transcendent basketball player like LeBron James soaring some four feet off the ground and covering an eight-foot distance on his way to a ferocious slam dunk, though very few could imagine ourselves in the same position, except maybe as comic relief. Every American kid dreams growing up of throwing the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, or catching it, but the event itself, and the giant men who take the field for it, still seem otherworldly to us as adults. But almost every weekend, a cross-section of American sports fans sit on their couches, attentions fixed on in-ring competition between skilled and supremely willful combatants, men who are paid to punch each other until the other can take no more, and, once immersed, it takes a certain amount of will in itself to not react to particularly hard, clean, or thudding connects with a wince, an involuntary, spasm-like affirmation, or an audible indication of appreciation for the aggressor, or sympathy for the assaulted, or both. Continue reading “Baptism by Fire: Lucas Matthysse MD12 Ruslan Provodnikov”

The Fly-Swatter Swatter: Manny Pacquiao UD12 Timothy Bradley, Jr. II

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As the bell rang for the twelfth and final round of the anticipated rematch between WBO Welterweight Titlist Timothy Bradley, Jr. and Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao, HBO’s blow-by-blow announcer Jim Lampley set the scene succinctly. “Their first fight was very good,” he said. “This one…has been even better.” And the view from my table in a raucous, surprisingly standing room only Columbus, OH bar and grill bore that thinking out, though an unsettling caveat stuck in my mind: Yes, Pacquiao-Bradley II had been a good fight, to my eyes, a good deal better than the original – which you may remember Bradley won via a stunning, many would say dumbfounding, majority decision that redefined boxing controversy for the latter half of 2012 (and bled into what was an, ahem, eventful new year for both combatants). Continue reading “The Fly-Swatter Swatter: Manny Pacquiao UD12 Timothy Bradley, Jr. II”

Power Surge, Overload, Short Circuit: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez TKO10 Alfredo Angulo

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Alfredo Angulo, crestfallen, wore the pain of the decision on his badly misshapen face, and almost every boxing fan watching at that moment – whether in the ring, or ringside, in the “cheap” seats or the lower bowl, at a bar or at home, in Las Vegas, Mexico, Middle America, or at a movie theater like I was – carried its considerable, uneasy weight in his or her gut. In a well-anticipated pay-per-view main event pitting the relentless but relatable, self-styled underdog Angulo – nicknamed “El Perro” in case that identity wasn’t obvious enough – against slightly tarnished, by no less than Floyd Mayweather, Mexican matinee idol Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Continue reading “Power Surge, Overload, Short Circuit: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez TKO10 Alfredo Angulo”

“Knockout Kings II” produces probable FOTY and more…

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Judged solely on its ability to make yours truly mutter aloud in repeated, involuntary, expletive-filled disbelief, tonight’s meeting between Texan dive bomber Omar Figueroa, Jr. and the frankly indestructible Nihito Arakawa is clearly the fight of 2013, and one of a handful I’ve ever seen deliver such sustained action at such an exhausting, harrowing pace. I’ve watched a lot of boxing in the last five years. Perhaps too much. I’ve seen far higher skilled combatants achieve their slices of rare air for an immortal moment. I’ve seen displays of will and perseverance so incredible or improbable that they practically shame me. That’s the nature of boxing. Continue reading ““Knockout Kings II” produces probable FOTY and more…”