Monday, November 5, 2007

Put Down The Hater Tots

Two entertaining, meaningful fights this past weekend in one night to kick off a November chock full of them...

JOE CALZAGHE-MIKKEL KESSLER


Enough is enough. Anyone who doubts Joe Calzaghe after his super middleweight (168 lbs.) unification win Saturday over Mikkel Kessler is drinking Haterade while soaking in Hateration Bath Salts and reading Hater Monthly magazine. And he did it in a barn burner, too.

I gave four or five rounds to Kessler, more than any of the judges, based on his harder punches in many of the rounds. But Calzaghe clearly won a string of the middle rounds that put him over the top. It surely was discouraging to Kessler when Calzaghe hurt him with a body shot, and it surely distressed him when Calzaghe took all of his best shots with ease, but I think Kessler became most discouraged in the round after Calzaghe's pop/trainer told him to "shine" -- meaning, I think, to "shoe shine." Those annoying flurries cemented that Calzaghe wasn't going away.

greatness. On that point I agreed with Kessler fought well; this loss wasn't about his flaws, so much as it was about Calzaghe'sHBO's commentators. And HBO's commentators made the same point I did about how impossible it is to prepare for Calzaghe. There's no one like him, with those awkward-looking punches from strange angles. But to me, the biggest revelation was that Calzaghe can take a serious, serious punch. Kessler hit him with some amazing uppercuts that would've put an elephant in a coma, but Calzaghe acted like he didn't even notice them. He even took a hailstorm of blows from Kessler in the 12th round that looked utterly intolerable. By the way, that Kessler came out swinging for the fences in the 12th round, knowing he needed a knockout to win, showed his mettle. As obvious as it is when fighters in a hole with the judges need to try for the knockout, it just doesn't happen as often as it should. Champions, though, real fighters, do it more often than not.

This was two excellent fighters fighting excellently. I think it lived up to the expectations, if it didn't surpass them, but lacked some of the drama of this year's other major unification fight, the Kelly Pavlik-Jermain Taylor showdown at middleweight (160 lbs). But it made up for it with some fascinating stuff strategy-wise, and the determination both men showed to win.

Next for the winner: If Calzaghe defeated Kessler this soundly, there is only one man left who is even within shouting distance of being able to beat him, and that man is light heavyweight (175 lbs.) king Bernard Hopkins. No one solves a puzzle as meticulously as Hopkins, and Calzaghe's certainly a puzzle. There's a chance this fight could get derailed on logistics, such as whether it's in America or Great Britain. I personally say it's time for Calzaghe to fight outside Wales, but both men clearly want to fight each other, so let's make it happen.
Next for the loser: Again, as the HBO commentators said, Kessler could win back all the belts he lost if Calzaghe moves up to light heavyweight. I'd like to see him in a fight with Lucian Bute, especially. I think this is the kind of loss that makes a fighter better, not worse -- Kessler had never experienced serious adversity in his career. He should be back, and he should be good and improved when he comes back.

JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ-ROCKY JUAREZ

I don't think the cut opened up on Rocky Juarez' eyelid in the first round of his junior lightweight (130 lbs.) fight Saturday against Juan Manuel Marquez had any impact on the eventual outcome. I think, head butt or no, Marquez would have won; the only difference might have been how simply the win came. I gave every single round to Marquez, but if I was the referee, it wouldn't have lasted 12 of them. That cut was icky, and dangerous. At any moment, I expected Juarez' eyelid to fly off into the middle rows.

Say what you will about Juarez, but he's a good fighter who seriously tested Marco Antonio Barrera, one of Marquez' peers among the great Mexican fighters of the last decade or so. Barrera was younger then in 2005 than Marquez is now, and Marquez routed Juarez. I totally buy Marquez' claim that he's in his prime, even though he's 34, because the old version who emphasized defense preserved things for the new version of Marquez, the one who emphasizes offense while retaining his defensive skill. Certainly he's in his prime from the standpoint of his entertainment value.

Next for the winner: Boxing fans should take up a collection to hire anyone who might ever come into contact with Marquez or Manny Pacquiao and pay them to repeatedly say each other's names, like in the scene from "Being John Malkovich" where everyone only says the word "Malkovich." "Pacquaio Pacquiao? Pacquiao," the waiter should say to Marquez. "Marquez Marquez Marquez! Marquez, Marquez," the drug store clerk should say to Pacquaio. We must, must, must have a rematch of the amazing 2004 draw between the two of them. I'm hard-pressed to think of a more important fight.
Next for the loser: I wish I knew what to make of Juarez. He's clearly got talent. Maybe he needs to stay away from hall of fame-bound Mexicans for a while. Maybe he needs to go back to 126 lbs., which is a more natural weight for him, and take on Robert Guerrero, the fighter he was originally scheduled to take on before the Marquez bout opened up for him. I'm not going to write Juarez just yet, though, since he's only lost to all-time greats in Marquez and Barrera, plus an A-level fighter in Humberto Soto.

5 comments:

Tim -- tstarks2@gmail.com said...

Ed. note: This is an abridged, recreated version of a blog I wrote, then, due to a computer error, lost Sunday morning between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. after watching a videotape ofCalzaghe-Kessler and catching a replay of Marquez-Juarez. Seriously infuriating...

One thing I left out in rewriting my previous entry is that I don't think Kelly Pavlik would have much luck against Calzaghe....

JimPanzee said...

I'm not reading about the marquez juarez fight yet but man that calzaghe/kessler fight was great. My prediction failed to materialize but not for want of trying. Kessler simply seemed unaware that somebody would withstand what he could dish out and keep coming at him. He acted demoralized after the first round he decisively won when Calzaghe came back from his corner and didn't immediately open up to him. He barely fought again until the 12th. Calzaghe meanwhile looked poised throughout and confident enough to showboat a bit too...it was proof positive that he is a grade A great fighter and I never should have doubted him. I'd be concerned about him moving up to light-heavy though, especially against the master of defense that is BH.

Tim -- tstarks2@gmail.com said...

Neat! You said you never should've doubted him but doubted him in the very next sentence. :) I tease, I recognize the different circumstances; I just don't think B-Hop can hurt hardly anyone, especially not an iron chinned chap like Calzaghe, at 175 -- so the defensive mastery, more than the weight issue, would put Calzaghe in jeopardy.

TheMCP said...

I like my Hater Tots with Hater Sauce, please.

Tim -- tstarks2@gmail.com said...

thempc: Coming right up.