Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Week In Boxing, 12/30/07: Beware The Left Hook, Magic Man On Deck And More

Rushing out like James Kirkland, no defense and no nonsense...
  • All the end-of-the-year award roundups are floating out. There's The Ring, there's ESPN, and then there's everyone else. So what have we learned? Welterweight (147 lbs.) Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is a popular choice for Fighter of the Year. I can dig it on one level, because beating Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya in the two biggest fights of the year is a good argument for him. But I liked the years of Miguel Cotto, a fellow welterweight, and Kelly Pavlik, a middleweight (160 lbs.), better for the extra win each collected and the fact that they were both in fight of the year candidates. What else? Judging by the list of knockout of the year candidates over at ESPN, beware the left: 13 of the 21 candidates came on left hooks or straight lefts, a skewed statistic given the deficit of southpaws in boxing. Also, judging by the readers' pick for worst decision of the year (middleweight win for Jermain Taylor over Cory Spinks), they're as blind as the judges who gave lightweight (135 lbs.) Joel Casamayor his win over Jose Armando Santa Cruz.
  • I updated some of my links along the side rail -- boxing and non-boxing. Check out the book/music reviews of Corduroy Books, the boxing musings of No Mas, and the aforementioned Seconds Out for the simple fact that Thomas Hauser writes for them. And more. P.S.: I felt crazy for leaving Ricky Hatton in my top 10 "pound for pound" list after everyone else dropped him, but The Ring has him even higher than I do. I'm assuming it's on the merits.
  • I've already recapped some of the busy week for the cruiserweights (200 lbs.) over at -- first Steve Cunningham forced the corner of Marco Huck to throw in the towel, then we get a big, big March match-up in David Haye versus Enzo Maccarinelli... and then, last night, Tomasz Adamek beat a nobody in a tune-up. I don't know if Adamek's big enough to make noise in the division, but he's worthy keeping an eye on.
  • Likewise, I've already addressed the Mayweather-MMA chatter, but I'm now thoroughly convinced that it's mere bluster.
  • And last on my list of retreaded turf: Roy Jones Jr. visited the Knicks for a practice in the week prior, and somehow, few made the connection between two former greats falling on hard times.
  • The first meaningful fight of 2008 is upon us Saturday -- the inaugural title defense for 140-pound belt-holder Pauli Malignaggi, against Herman Ngoudjo on Showtime. I really, really like Paulie, who's got a warrior's heart and excellent skills but the punch of Peach Schnapps. On the other end of the scale is Allan Green, the opposite of Malignaggi in charisma but a mean puncher, who'll be in a super middleweight (168 lbs.) battle with a significant opponent in Rubin Williams Friday night on ESPN2. And the vaunted Peterson brothers are in against decent competition Friday night, too, on Showtime.

Go, Paulie, go!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Broken Promises, But Just By A Little

Already, my vow to post once a week is broken, by a day.

I'd intended to put up a little "No post this week, happy holidays!" thing Sunday, but it will have to come today....

No post this week, happy holidays!

Enjoy this footage of people getting punched just before eating.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Last Week In Boxing, 12/15/07: More Mayweather-Hatton Aftermath, And Too Much Jumping The Gun?

For no apparent reason, the beautiful photo above of a kangaroo punching a strange creature as someone in a basketball jersey looks on has been horribly disfigured by You know, you try to give the people want they want, and the people are unanimous: That picture is the only thing I really have going for me. So I'm upset about that.

Boxing's hit the end-of-the-year doldrums, so it doesn't have much going for it right now, either, but there still are a few things to talk about, so let's get to it.

  • Over at, we've handed out our year-end awards already. Maybe we're jumping the gun, but as I said, we reserve the right to alter them. We gave out awards for Fighter of the Year; Knockout of the Year; Round of the Year; and Fight of the Year. Then I gave out a roundup of awards, some serious and some not. Although I stick by my pick for "Best Fight Between A Man And A Bear." Where possible, we included clips of our picks, so you can get caught up on plenty of good boxing in 2007.
  • Dear Bernard Hopkins: All of us want you to knock off the racism. Everyone just wants you to fight "white boy" Joe Calzaghe. If it was promotional bluster, it still isn't cool. If the fight happens (at light heavyweight, 175 lbs.), you may very well find yourself unable to "go back to the projects" because if Jermain Taylor outpointed you simply by being busier, wait until you get a load of Calzaghe's perpetual motion.
  • More Floyd Mayweather, Jr.-Ricky Hatton aftermath: Mayweather encouraged Hatton to retire in light of his loss in their welterweight (147 lbs.) showdown, fearing Hatton could end up like, say, a Fernando Vargas who fought in too many wars. I say: Nah. Hatton's nowhere near that yet, and could still have some nice fights at 140 lbs. Maybe without his trainer, Billy Graham. If he looks bad in his next fight, I might jump on the "Hatton retire" bandwagon. As it is, there are few good 140-pound bouts Hatton could/might make. I like the idea of a bout with Paulie Malignaggi, since it would sell out Madison Square Garden with both British Hatton fans and NYC Malignaggi fans, plus the contrast of styles would likely deliver fireworks. I'd like to see Hatton versus fellow countryman Junior Witter eventually, but Witter's style could give Hatton headaches, and there's personal animosity there, so I doubt that'll happen; if Hatton takes it, I'll be very impressed. Hatton might want a rematch with Mayweather, but that's pride talking. It'd be exactly the same. Manny Pacquiao seems intent on constantly moving up in weight, and there's been some talk of a Hatton fight. I'd prefer Manny stay at 130 lbs., but I can't deny the money-making appeal of this one. And the previously discussed fight with Oscar De La Hoya just shouldn't happen, given the size differential. Mayweather-De La Hoya II is more feasible, but I'm simply not interested. I want Mayweather in against the following, in this order: Miguel Cotto; Shane Mosley; and if he truly wants to do this middleweight (160 lbs.) experiment, Winky Wright. If he does all that, and wants to keep fighting, I'd be OK with a De La Hoya rematch, or a fight with Vernon Forrest, or young welterweight gun Paul Williams, or welterweight vet Antonio Margarito.
  • Larry Holmes finally made it into the Hall of Fame. What took so freaking long?
  • There's going to be a Rocky Marciano biopic. I don't see much in producer Morris S. Levy's credits to ensure it'll be as good as "Ray," his ambition, but maybe Yahoo! Movies is sucky.
  • A few bouts of moderate importance over the weekend. Hot young fighters Jorge Linares (featherweight, 126 lbs.) and Edwin Valero (junior lightweight, 130 lbs.) won rather easily, according to the news accounts, with Valero demolishing his no-name opponent to continue his gaudy KO streak and Linares scoring what Bad Left Hook called a candidate for "knockout of the year." Meanwhile, Alex Arthur (junior lightweight) had an unexpectedly tough night in what Eastsideboxing called a candidate for "fight of the year." Maybe we did give out those awards too soon.
  • I could hardly be madder about Don King standing in the way of a sure-fire 2008 "fight of the year" candidate. That relic needs to get out of the way of a February lightweight (135 lbs.) showdown between Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis. I don't care about the contract he has with Diaz; King lost the purse bid to promote the fight to Golden Boy fair and square.
  • Boxing historian Hank Kaplan died.
  • Evander Holyfield and long-time trainer Ronnie Shields have parted ways. Maybe this'll go one step further toward convincing the thick-headed former heavyweight great that it just isn't going to happen for him, but I doubt it.
  • What's with Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor already looking for what's next after their February rematch? This fight (at a catchweight of 166 lbs.) is too important and dangerous to both. Sure, Pavlik would ruin John Duddy in a big-money meeting. And sure, Jermain could make a lot of dough against Calzaghe. But, I mean, come on. Focus, boys.
  • Boxing's week ahead: Joshua Clottey and Shamone Alvarez in a welterweight fight is about the only thing on the ledger, for Dec. 20, on Vs. Network. I don't know Alvarez, but I like Clottey -- he's a tough, skilled, hard-hitting guy who was a hand injury away from upsetting Margarito this year. If he wins, he's in line for a title fight with Kermit Cintron or maybe even Cotto in March, so it's a not-insignificant bout.

Nothing says "class" like a man in a tuxedo and gold chain, and there's nothing more I want in a landlord than someone who shows up to my door in boxing gloves, but "The Easton Assassin" is extremely Hall of Fame-worthy.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Last Week In Boxing, 12/9/07: The Big Fight Delivers, Some Up And Comers Come Up, Another Ill-Considered Comeback Possibility And More

Let's do this one old school gossip column-style. The news is in the first sentence of each item, and my commentary comes after.

Item!: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. knocks out Ricky Hatton in a superfight at welterweight (147 lbs.). And it was actually good. And Mayweather was exciting, too. Here's hoping Mayweather doesn't retire as threatened; we need to see him in against Miguel Cotto. Oscar De La Hoya looms for Hatton, but De La Hoya's too big for Hatton, if Mayweather was. My complete coverage of Saturday night is at Ring Report.

Item!: Jeff Lacy (super middleweight, 168 lbs.) beats Peter Manfredo by unanimous decision, Daniel Ponce De Leon (junior featherweight, 122 lbs.) does the same to Eduardo Escobedo and Edner Cherry (lightweight, 135 lbs.) KOs Wes Ferguson in the boringest undercard ever. Lacy looked rusty. I'll give him one more chance at it before abandoning all hope, even if it's against old, rusty Antonio Tarver. De Leon looked awful, too. He lacks skill to accompany his power, and while Escobedo looks like a talent, he lacked the seasoning to take advantage. Cherry, a favorite of mine, crushed Ferguson, a talented Mayweather protege who didn't deserve a rematch of his loss to "The Cherry Bomb."

Item!: Amir Khan (lightweight) and John Duddy (middleweight, 160 lbs.) get career-best wins over Graham Earl and Howard Eastman. I'm a Khan fan, but I'm worried he's moving too fast at just 21. Duddy's 28, so stepping up makes sense. Still, nice wins for both sensations.

Item!: Marco Antonio Barrera may have a farewell fight, he revealed on ESPN's Mayweather/Hatton blog. It got overshadowed by Hatton/Mayweather, but Barrera talked about wanting to get his hand raised one more time. Don't do it, Marco. Go into the Hall of Fame the same time as rival Erik Morales, who also retired in 2007, when everyone will talk about how you were better than him. Wouldn't that be the ultimate win?

Item!: I update my pound-for-pound list, and explain it. See it along the right side rail, and read the "whys" here.

Item!: Impressive youngsters Edwin Valero and Jorge Linares will go pay-per-view this week against nobodies. Valero (junior lightweight, 130 lbs.) and Linares (featherweight, 126 lbs.) are both entertaining -- Valero for his shocking power and Linares for his well-rounded skills -- but how's this a pay-per-view?

Item!: Tickets for the 170-pound clash in January between Roy Jones, Jr. and Felix Trinidad go on sale Monday. People will talk about this one, but... ugh.

Item!: Sechew Powell (154 lbs.) takes out Terrance Cauthen. Powell wants to fight Cory Spinks. Wow, I didn't think anyone wanted to scrap with the most boring boxer there is. But that would be a good win if Powell could pull it off, since Spinks is a good fighter, and he's got a title belt, so maybe that's the motive.

Item!: Nonito Donaire (flyweight 112 lbs.) is feuding with promoter Gary Shaw. It's ugly stuff. I wish it wasn't happening, because I think Donaire is a rising star, and a promotional feud is not something he needs.

Item!: Seven Punch Combo nitpicks at The Ring again. Every time I buy "The Bible of Boxing," I argue with it. I love it, don't get me wrong. But I've stayed silent too long on this -- who the hell is Jackson Bonsu, and why is he a top-10 welterweight according to Ring Magazine? I can't recognize a single soul Bonsu's fought. Why couldn't Andre Berto take his slot at #10? Or Carlos Quintana? Or Alfonso Gomez? Or even Shamone Alvarez, Richard Guttierez, David Estrada, Jesse Feliciano, Mark Suarez or...

Item!: 2K is going to put out a boxing video game. Good! There needs to be some competition for Fight Night, because as amazing as it is, EA has a tendency to get lazy; the Wii boxing game is fun, but I don't have a Wii. Only downside? Don King's name is on the game under development. Expect lawsuits against the game designers.

Best Fighters In The World: Update

I contributed a ballot to Bad Left Hook's "P4P" or "pound for pound" list, and I've updated my own along the right side rail. My standard in determining the best fighters in the world regardless of weight takes into consideration the general ability of each boxer (skill, natural talent, determination) quality of wins (what other good fighters they've beaten), strength of schedule (win or lose, whether they're fighting great competition), recent activity (whether the fighter is performing like an elite fighter now as opposed to two years ago) and a rough estimate of how beatable they'd be if weight wasn't a factor (would a heavyweight version of Floyd Mayweather beat a heavyweight version of Manny Pacquiao?).

1. Floyd Mayweather (welterweight, 147 lbs.): What's not to like? That win over Ricky Hatton was meaningful, and and Floyd looked better than he has in a long time. He's the total package.
2. Manny Pacquiao (junior lightweight, 130 lbs.): I'm tempted to drop him because he looked a little underwhelming vs. Marco Antonio Barrera -- not like his usual action hero self -- but his past accomplishments and agreement to fight Juan Manuel Marquez again wins him a hold on second place.
3. Bernard Hopkins (light heavyweight, 175 lbs.): Beating Winky Wright and Antonio Tarver back to back, plus his well-earned former #1 P4P status and all-around craftiness, equals third place, at least until we see what happens against Calzaghe.
4. Joe Calzaghe (super middleweight, 168 lbs.): He's erased all doubts in my mind, and presumably in the mind of everyone, by toppling Mikkel Kessler and Jeff Lacy, and doing it impressively with his awkward, busy style. It's time for Hopkins and Calzaghe to stop yappin' and get it on already.
5. Juan Manuel Marquez (junior lightweight): Off a career best win over Barrera and a dominant dismantling of legit contender Juarez, he'd be ranked higher if Calzaghe hadn't just beaten a prime Kessler. The consummate-boxer puncher could be primed to avenge a 2004 draw vs. the Pac-Man.
6. Miguel Cotto (welterweight): What a great year this guy had. He's a potential fighter of the year candidate after stopping Judah and defeating Shane Mosley in a real eye opener. We now know he can box and steamroll.
7. Winky Wright (middleweight, 160 lbs.): Losing to Hopkins doesn't knock him out of the top 10. Wright was stepping far up in weight and losing to B-Hop in a competitive fight under those circumstances can't erase what he's done, and is an accomplishment in and of itself. His jab-and-defend strategy has given way to some more offense, but he's still got a tough style.
8. Rafael Marquez (junior featherweight, 122 lbs.): I'm probably the only person who has Marquez ranked higher than Israel Vasquez, but my they're 1-1 against each other, I think Marquez has a better record of achievement and my eyes tell me Marquez is better than Vasquez. He's got the punch and the skills.
9. Israel Vasquez (junior featherweight): Until he beat Marquez, nobody much thought of Vasquez as a P4P type, foolishly; perhaps because he's lost a few, too. But wins over Oscar Larios, Jhonny Gonzalez, etc. helped propel him here. He's proven vs. Marquez that he's not just a brawler.
10. Ricky Hatton (junior welterweight, 140 lbs.): Like Wright to Hopkins, Hatton's loss to Mayweather in a step up in weight doesn't knock Hatton down far. It's remarkable that so many people in my top 20 have recently lost, but it's because everyone's fighting the best. I'm not going to punish them too much for losing in close fights against their fellow best fighters, and I still think Hatton's overall record and ability make him one of the top 10.
11. Kelly Pavlik (middleweight): It's tempting to move Kelly into the top 10 because he's so dangerous, but his number of wins over fellow P4Ps totals exactly 1 -- over Jermain Taylor. Beating Edison Miranda, Jose Luis Zertuche and a few other borderline contenders makes him worthy, and certainly puts him in strong contention for fighter of the year, but I still give Hatton a slight edge. But I expect Kelly to move up again soon, because he looks like he's gonna hurt a lot of people in his career with that devastating power.
12. Juan Diaz (lightweight, 135 lbs.): Ah, the lovable, energetic Diaz. Topping fellow Diaz Julio was a big deal, and so was beating Acelino Freitas. Diaz looks like he's gonna be tough to beat as long as he's fighting.
13. Shane Mosley (welterweight): I had the slick, sturdy Mosley and Cotto in a draw, so, again, he can't get knocked down too far. Pavlik and Diaz's years just happen to have Mosley eclipsed; I had Mosley at about #10 before the Cotto fight.
14. Ivan Calderon (junior flyweight, 108 lbs.): After knocking off top 108-pounder Hugo Cazares and another young gun at 108, Calderon has moved past his days of dominating the 105-pound division. He still can't punch a lick, but his pure boxing skills give him an edge.
15. Oscar De La Hoya (welterweight): No. Shame. In. Losing. To. Mayweather.
16. Jermain Taylor (middlweight): I'd drop him farther after getting KO'd by Pavlik if not for the fact that Jermain's previous wins were impressive. I don't know how much longer he'll stay in the top 20 after the rematch because it looks like his skill will never catch up to his athleticism; we'll see. Brave move, though.
17. Cory Spinks (junior middleweight, 154 lbs.): Lucky thing that "good" and "watchable" aren't mutually exclusive propositions, or Spinks wouldn't be on my map at all. Jab and circle specialists aren't the most thrilling.
18. Chris John (featherweight, 126 lbs.): His best win, over Marquez, was probably a gift, but the guy can fight and if he ever bothered to leave home, he probably would have had less dubious career wins. He's clearly talented enough.
19. Vladimir Klitschko (heavyweight, unlimited): It's not Klitschko's fault that the heavyweights suck. He beats everyone put in front of him, from former conquerors (Lamon Brewster) to undefeated contenders (Brock). He gets points for recovering from a rough period and fighting better and smarter and with more confidence, and for unifying with Sultan Ibragimov. He's got the height, jab and power to be the top heavyweight for a while.
20. Mikkel Kessler (super middleweight): I think the super middleweight division is his to own for a good long while with Calzaghe leaving. With his power and basic-but-solid skill set, I bet that loss makes Kessler an even better fighter.
21. Joan Guzman (junior lightweight): Yes, the second half of his win over Humberto Soto was frustrating, but it's an excellent win and he's undefeated + talented, what with all that speed.
22. Paul Williams (welterweight): We're getting into borderline territory here; Willaims has beaten some borderline contenders and has a close win over Antonio Margarito. But how many people would want to fight the 6'2" freak?
23. Antonio Margarito (welterweight): Still looking for that career-defining win, but he's beaten up a lot of well-regarded guys, and a close loss to Williams isn't so bad. If he gets his mitts on Cotto, I think Margarito could wear him down with big shots.
24. Glen Johnson (light heavyweight): Forgotten since losing to Tarver in a rematch and a debatable loss to Clinton Woods, the rugged Johnson got a nice win over Virgil Hill in 2007 and is primed to meet borderline P4Per Chad Dawson.
25. Nonito Donaire (flyweight, 112 lbs.): He has one big win, one good win and a few other decent wins on his ledger, but this speedy power-puncher has the raw ability and skill to be special. Everyone I thought of putting at 25 was in about the same position -- a better skill level than resume.

Monday, December 3, 2007

What I Meant Was

The once-a-week post starts this coming Sunday. But I posted my top 25 pound-for-pound list anyway. It's along the right side rail there below my list of favorite fighters. I expect it'll change after Saturday night's Floyd Mayweather/Ricky Hatton matchup, regardless of who wins. Please volunteer your suggestions for how bad my list is now, to give me something to think about. (Also updated the favorite fighters list.)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Seven Punch Combo Author Moving On, Sort Of

I know I said I'd give you Part II of my Mayweather/Hatton preview Monday, and I still will: Just elsewhere.

I've accepted a blogging gig over at Here's my inaugural, introductory post. (An ambitious young lad started it, and it's already had some serious success. Here's a link to some articles about mvn.)

I'll do the vast majority of my boxing blogging over at mvn. But I still plan to keep Seven Punch Combo around in a limited form. I'll post once a week -- Sundays, I expect -- on the week in boxing. I'll also probably add a couple more features along the side, like a pound for pound list.

To everyone who's stopped by, I thank you, and a special thanks to those I've had such fun dialog with. I hope you'll follow me over to mvn, and still visit this space once a week.

I'll be seeing where this all goes.