Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Giving The Devil His Due And Two Other Thoughts

  • Wrap-up. I'll comment more once I (reluctantly) view the fight on replay, but all accounts suggest Bernard Hopkins-Winky Wright was slightly better than the worst big fight of all time, as I feared it might be. Some are discounting Hopkins' win, arguing that Hopkins essentially defeated a smaller guy, and not very convincingly, who was moving from the middleweight limit of 160 lbs. to fight Hopkins at 170 lbs, thereby proving nothing. True, true, in part. But let's not forget who this little guy is: One of the most flummoxing, avoided defensive fighters of the last couple decades. Humiliator of all-time greats Shane Mosley and Tito Trinidad, and on some scorecards, conqueror of fan favorite Fernando Vargas and Jermain Taylor, the latter being the one who dethroned Hopkins' long middleweight reign. A man who hasn't been beaten in more than seven years. Pound for pound, no worse than the third best active fighter around on most unofficial lists. And a hall-of-famer. Yes, I'd rather endure waterboarding than watch Hopkins in action. But I don't know how this doesn't rise to the level of a significant accomplishment by a 42-year-old man. That he did this in part with a -- perhaps -- intentional headbutt is not surprising; the essence of Hopkins is that he finds a way. It doesn't make me like him any more, but how he did it matters less than that he did.
  • Preview. In its beneficence, HBO has deigned to broadcast the Wright-Hopkins replay with another event that no one asked for, Carlos Baldomir versus Vernon Forrest, live. There's a lot to like about Baldomir, no relation to anyone from Middle Earth. He used to sell mops in the streets of Argentina to get by, and as a massive underdog, he upset Zab Judah, along the way nearly knocking him out and making him do that hilarious little dance he does when he gets staggered by a good punch... the one that resembles a puppet getting its strings entangled. And Forrest is praised for his devotion to charity work. But Baldomir is not the world's most exciting fighter -- he's an all-out plodder with little knockout power. And Forrest looks like he has never recovered from the shoulder problems that sidelined him for so long. I'm going to pick Baldomir to out-hustle Forrest on the way to a decision, although I could see Forrest keeping his distance and out-boxing him from the perimeter.
  • Update. My pick accuracy is abysmal so far, such that readers might not know of my amazing precognitive powers in predicting things like, for example, Ricky Hatton easily defeating a shot Jose Luis Castillo recently in anything but a candidate for fight of the year, as it was hyped. However, I've synced nicely at times with far more experienced boxing writers. Just today, MaxBoxing's Doug Fischer wrote, in response to a reader's description of Hopkins that was a near-carbon copy of mine, "Regarding Hopkins, I think this line sums it up best: "Now, all Bernard can do is make just enough contact to win rounds, and enough rounds to win a fight." Last week, the New York Post's George Willis, hot now off his NBA referee scandal scoop, noted that Paul Williams would have a rougher time with Miguel Cotto than he did Antonio Margarito, for the same reasons I cited -- although many writers believe everyone will avoid Williams now. Unless Margarito gets a rematch with Williams or the Cotto fight he would have earned by beating Williams, it looks like I'll be in good company with Yahoo's Kevin Iole, formerly of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and one of the better-regarded boxing writers around, who wrote, "He couldn't get the big names in the ring when he had a world title, and he's certainly not going to get them now." Williams' championship heart, one of my central points in the post-fight wrap-up, got headline status the Orange County Register: "Williams shows plenty of heart." ESPN's Dan Rafael remarked, as I did, that Alfonso Gomez scrapping with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. would make some decent dough. Most every expert would like to see Williams rumble with Kermit Cintron, if neither can get a bigger fight. And while I was off in my predictions, I've proven astute in explaining the reasons why I might end up wrong. Williams' fresher legs against Margarito, Arturo Gatti's size deficit against Gomez and Wright moving up in weight too swiftly to take on Hopkins all were major factors in the outcome of their respective bouts.

Carlos Baldomir has an, um, remarkable get-up that he wears into the ring... Oh, wait. that's Boromir from Lord of the Rings. (From canmag.com)

If you look closely, you can see Vernon Forrest hiding in the... Ahh, I now see the mistake I made here with this one. (From desktopscenes.com)


BOB said...

I think Forrest wins by UD.

JimPanzee said...

Forrest by decision.

B.O.B. is probably right that it will be unanimous but I'm not so confident. Baldomir is just such a...well...I can't think of a better word than "plodder" right now. He looks slow and clumsy, he has no KO power, but he's built like a tree trunk, he's wide from his eyes on down. He's just hard to topple and VF is damaged goods, both physically and psychically. If VF can take the punches he's likely to outscore CB the same way that Zab stole so many rounds, by simply looking better throwing the punches.