Friday, October 26, 2007

Predetermined Tournaments, On The Rebound, Bad Omens And Unsolicited Advice

There are a few boxing-related topics I want to get to soon -- particularly, a topic that keeps coming up about whether some kinds of violence are more morally acceptable to derive enjoyment from -- but it's been another busy week for me and another slow week for the sport. So once again, I'll just throw out some more random musings.

(Incidentally, I said it over at The 8 Count, but I couldn't be more jealous about the fact that everyone but me has come up with some kind of catchy title for their random musings. Every writer has one -- I've seen "Final Flurries," "Speedbag," all kinds of stuff, but it's like I've got a mental block. All nominations welcome.)
  • I've got next to no interest in the heavyweight tournament that begins this weekend. It's not that I don't like the idea of four top fighters going at it single-elimination style for the chance to fight Vladimir Klitschko, one of the division's belt-holders. And it's not that I don't like the more veteran pair of the foursome. I think Calvin Brock's a decent fighter and nice guy; sure, he's a little cautious, but he also has a modicum of skill and has demonstrated serious KO power, as he did here for 2006's knockout of the year. And Chris Byrd, while boring, has tons of heart for being as small as he is when he really should move down to cruiserweight (200 lbs), plus he's sharp as a whip and should be a ringside analyst sooner rather than later. And finally, it's not that I don't like the chance to see the two promising younger heavyweights, Alexander Povetkin and Eddie Chambers, try to prove themselves. What I don't like is that I know how it's going to end: Klitschko knocking out whoever wins the tournament. He's already KO'd Brock once and Byrd twice, and no matter how good the two younger heavyweights are -- and I should caution I've only read about them, not seen either in action -- they are way, way, way too green to beat the best heavyweight in the world. Still: Good idea, bad place for it.
  • Two fighters I really like, Jose Luis Castillo and Edison Miranda, will be trying to rebound from tough losses in the next few days. Look, no matter how Ricky Hatton tries to talk up his defeat of Castillo in a junior welterweight (140 lbs.) showdown earlier this year, the facts are clear to me that Castillo is a shot fighter. Usually, this is where I make my plea that some fighter I like who's a shadow of his former self hang up the gloves. But Castillo poses no obvious risk to his own health. It's not like his reflexes have completely abandoned him, as they have for so many other shot fighters. So maybe he's only half-shot. Plus, the financial penalties he suffered for not making weight for the third fight between himself and Diego Corrales are so severe he has to work them off somehow. And it's not as if he's fighting some titan this weekend, unless somebody knows something about this Adan Casillas I don't. I feel a little guilty for wanting to see Castillo punished severely for his crimes against Castillo-Corrales III. At the time I thought it was justice for Castillo robbing us of a proper sequel to the greatest fight of all time, Castillo-Corrales I, since Castillo-Corrales II was a little bit of a sham because Castillo was trying to get away with coming in over weight. In retrospect, both men have shown since they were never going to be the same after that first battle. And yes, Castillo is to blame for us not getting the sequel, but he's now having to fight beyond when he should just to make enough money to deal with those enormous financial penalties. For a guy who came just within a whisker of winning the biggest fight of his life, and who performed heroically during it, and who gave us such a thrilling example of what humans can do with their bodies, I don't like that I ever rooted against him. Miranda, meanwhile, may never be the superstar HBO clearly wanted him to be, but I think he's still got good days ahead of him despite getting absolutely clobbered by Kelly Pavlik. He's rudimentary, but he's a power-puncher with an entertaining mouth, so I'd like to see him get back into position for another big fight. Like Castillo, he came out on the wrong end of an amazing bout -- against Pavlik -- and he's been unlucky, losing to Arthur Abraham in 2006 because of some of the shoddiest refereeing you'll ever see. But I'll always like fighters who make fireworks happen. That's Miranda.
  • Speaking of shot fighters, there is nothing encouraging at all about the fact that they're moving up the weight limit for the Fernando Vargas-Ricardo Mayorga fight, this time to 166 lbs. It had already been delayed when Vargas, who probably was about 100 lbs. heavier than the original 162 lbs. limit a few months before the scheduled date, was unsurprisingly diagnosed with anemia. One more problem with this fight and I won't be looking forward to it at all. As it was, I was only looking forward to it in a kind of "it might be a fun freak show, watching two loudmouth, over-the-hill sluggers swing until someone drops" way.
  • On the good news tip, Pavlik and Taylor are good to go for their rematch early next year, at the middleweight-ish limit of 166 lbs. Plenty's been said about this rematch in general, but I just want to add my two cents' worth on a subplot of the upcoming fight: Taylor needs to ditch Emmanuel Steward and bring back Pat Burns, his trainer before the more accomplished Steward swooped in to take over the helm. There's clearly some awful chemistry there, and Taylor, coming off a pretty nasty knockout loss, needs to have his head right. Steward, for all his accomplishments, just isn't the one to help him do it, based on the fact that for most of their relationship, Taylor has gotten worse, not better.

If this creature crosses Fernando Vargas' path, there's a good chance I won't even be remotely interested in his fight, which I don't plan to watch on pay-per-view.


JimPanzee said...

Stars and Birds (after the little cartoon doodads that flit about your head after a KO). Seems to fit with "punchy punchy" if not with 7 punch combo.

Jabs in the Dark--because it sounds like "stabs in the dark" since this section is sort of a quick list of predictions and thoughts

In a Clinch--up maneuverability

Fancy Footwork--good show and necessary but not much meat

Phonebooth Punches--in a clinch but with more motion...and not a little excitement

Weavings--cuz it sounds like a patchwork of stuff but in boxing is the primary way to avoid being hit.

BOB said...

I disagree that Taylor needs to get rid of Stewart...he needs to start listening to Stewart.

Tim -- said...

That's kind of the problem, though, isn't it, Bob? He just seems to tune out Steward. I'm not blaming either man for the chemistry problems, but there are chemistry problems there that are apparently unsolvable.

Jimpanzee, I like Phonebooth Punches best. Let me meditate on it.

Sean A. Malone said...

I too am not overly impressed with the IBF's heavyweight tournament. As you mentioned both Byrd and Brock have already been knocked out by Klitschko and I feel that Chambers and the Russian kid have not done enough to warrant a title shot yet. What Klitschko should do is begin to unify the titles. Any thing less is just a waste of time and money.

How about "Starks Salvos"? Just a thought. Hahah. Keep up the great work Tim!