Friday, July 13, 2007

A Guy Named Kermit; A Freak; An Ear-Ripper; And A Human Highlight Reel

Coming up Saturday is a triple-header in boxing's most talent-rich division, the welterweights.
Anywhere from one to three of them are going to be good.

--The one with the most potential features the man billed as the most avoided in boxing: Antonio Margarito. He's often compared to Marvin Hagler -- a fighter who is as tough as they come, who puts relentless pressure on you and will make your life a living hell as long as you are still standing, but hasn't gotten a chance to make it to the big stage because people are scared half to death of him. My personal belief is that he's not as big a badass as everyone makes him out to be -- he's a bit slow, has questionable technique, seems to have an occasionally vulnerable chin, is getting old and nearly lost his last fight -- but I can tell you why I wouldn't want to fight him in an anecdote that is not for the faint of heart... In a bout a few years ago that I recently saw on ESPN Classic, he was doing what he does best. That is, indulge in competitive fights where for the first few rounds he looks like he may lose, then start destroying his opponent with pressure, volume, strength and reach. Ever heard the phrase "he boxed his ears off?" Well, Margarito did that. Literally. In as gross a thing as you will ever see in the ring, he hit his opponent with such vicious, ripping punches that his ear began to tear off. The fight was stopped and the opponent was taken to the emergency room, where, I'm happy to say, his ear was sewn back on and he's in fine health today.
His opponent on the 14th is a guy who has all the tools to become a star, albeit a freakish one: Paul Williams. When I say "freakish," I mean freakish. He fights at welterweight, 147 lbs, but stands 6'1" and has -- get this -- an 82-inch reach. That, my friends, is longer than Muhammad Ali, who fought around 50 lbs. heavier. Since Williams looks like a beanpole, you'd never think he'd hit hard, but oh, he does. He is, in many ways, very much like Margarito -- a powerful, tall welterweight who punches non-stop and would rather brawl than keep his opponent at a distance. Williams is faster, younger and seems to have a lot of advantages, but Margarito has a huge experience edge and his toughness is a proven commodity. Williams has fought some good fighters, but nobody like what Margarito is going to bring him. This fight could be excellent and the winner likely gets to take on Miguel Cotto, who recently defeated Zab Judah in the consensus fight of the year so far. A number of experts think the Margarito-Williams match up has a chance to surpass it.

MY PREDICTION: Margarito by TKO, late rounds. He's just too tough and just too experienced for the very green, sometimes-awkward Williams, and I'm guessing Margarito grinds down the beanpole the same way he has just about everyone.
CONFIDENCE: 70%. Margarito looked all-too-beatable against Josh Clottey before Clottey broke his hand. Williams punches harder than Clottey, plus he's younger and faster. This would not be a big upset at all.
MY ALLEGIANCE: Williams. Margarito's crude, wide-punching style, plus the misplaced near-worship of him over at, makes me want to see him get knocked down a notch.

Margarito crushes Cintron. Thank me for not showing you that ear-rip picture.

Guess which one is Williams.

--In another fight, Kermit Cintron takes on Walter Matthysse. Kermit, despite having a silly name, is one of the hardest punchers in boxing. A few years ago, in his big step up toward a belt and superstardom, none other than Margarito totally wrecked him. In fact, Cintron broke down in tears. Since, Cintron has righted his ship in part by hiring Emmanuel Steward, boxing's most accomplished active trainer, and has gone on to win a couple sizzling action bouts that were quite competitive. Matthysse, meanwhile, not that long ago met Paul Williams in a fight that was a huge step up for both, who were considered good, undefeated prospects but not contenders yet. Although Williams won, Matthysse gave him everything he could handle, and the unpolished, gritty Matthysse's status didn't drop much in esteem. This is Matthysse's chance to put himself in the welterweight rankings, and Cintron's biggest stage since the ruinous Margarito loss.

MY PREDICTION: Kermit by mid-round KO. I think Kermit's a better overall fighter than Williams, who KOed Matthysse in the 10th.
CONFIDENCE: 90%. Matthysse's KO percentage is impressive, and Kermit got wobbled a few times in the amazing Estrada fight. Matthysse is not some no-hope underdog, I just don't see anyone this unskilled beating Kermit.
MY ALLEGIANCE: Isn't it obvious? I'm rooting for the guy named Kermit. It helps that he's an exciting fighter.

Front of face, Cintron: See above, distorted by Margarito. I wish he'd go back to this "nationalistic flavored sno-cone" look.

Guess which one's Matthysse. (Hint: He's not Williams.)

--Also, Arturo Gatti battles Alfonso Gomez. I really wish Gatti would hang up the gloves. He's been in more ring wars than anyone, and his skills seem in decline. That aside, Gatti (aka "the human highlight reel") has never, ever, ever been in anything but the best fights. He's one of boxing's biggest attractions, and Atlantic City, where he's an adopted son, will be electric when it sees him again. If you've never seen Gatti-Ward I, do yourself a favor and check it out. It is certifiably one of the greatest fights of all time, and Gatti-Ward II and III round it out as one of the greatest fight trilogies of all time, maybe ever. I don't pretend to know much about Gomez; he was on "The Contender" TV show, and he was apparently liked, and he looked OK in the clips I saw, but this is a fight that gives Gatti a chance to show if he has anything left. He's lost a couple bouts lately where he got the tar beat out of him. If there's anyone who deserves a chance to keep fighting when it looks like he ought to quit, it's Gatti, since Arturo has fought entire fights with broken hands; come back from being knocked down and nearly out to win by KO in the same round; and so on.

MY PREDICTION: Gatti by decision. Gomez is stepping up big-time. My guess is Gatti's still got enough in the tank to pull this off in a potentially entertaining slugfest.
CONFIDENCE: 80%. Gatti's a small welterweight, and Gomez has been fighting in higher weight divisions. Says here that the guy who beat Gatti last was a big welterweight who couldn't punch very hard but still destroyed Arturo. What'll he do with an even bigger guy who doesn't punch very hard? I've not seen this remarked upon anywhere.
MY ALLEGIANCE: I can't possibly oppose Gatti, so I'll be cheering him. But in a way, I hope he loses albeit without suffering much. If he can't beat Gomez, surely even he has to know his amazing career is over.

sweeping the right hook here in a fight against Ward which looked more like those crazy simultaneous punchfests from Rocky than anything that's ever happened in real life. If you zoom in, you can see all the scar tissue around his eyes.

Gomez, straight from "The Contender" website. Probably taken during some heart-warming moment or the other, plus they likely put a microphone on the camera so you could hear an extra-loud "click."


Winston said...

Incredible analysis. I'll be watching these fights very closely. I'd like to see Williams step up (while I don't think he has *that* good a chance) and I'm hoping for one last hurrah form Gatti. With any luck, everyone will think he's beat and he'll throw the magic uppercut that sends Gomez flying straight backwards through the air with a cinematic knockout.

And I know you like my man because he's named Kermit, but you know I like him because he's Puerto Rican. I gotta stick with my brothers on this one. But I have to disagree re: the hair. We all love the Puerto Rican flag, but show your pride through your punches, not your 'do.

BOB Renock said...

I like the site alot!!! I so wish you lived closer so I would actually have someone to watch fights with.

I too hope Gatti hangs it up soon.

JimPanzee said...

1) Great analysis, great read.
2) B.O.B.: get your ass to Indy and watch the fights with me.

JimPanzee said...

I am thisclose to having cable access again...mebbe I'll get me one of them channels what has the fights on it.

merjoem32 said...

Gatti should retire after getting KO'd by Gomez. he has contributed a lot to the fame of boxing and he has been in too many wars. He should now walk away before he becomes permanently injured. It's time for him to hang up his gloves for good.