August 31, 2011

Victor Ortiz takes on the media, then Mayweather!‏

WBC Welterweight Champion Victor Ortiz addressed the media today via international conference call along with his manager Rolando Arellano, and President of Golden Boy Promotions, Oscar De La Hoya.

Curiously, Ortiz came out gunning for the media very early on in the call saying, "I've learned how to not care about the media. They sit around all day long feeling sorry for themselves, and they are always so negative. That's not my fault you don't have a life."

When asked if he watched the now infamous first episode of HBO's 24/7: Mayweather vs Ortiz series, Ortiz said, "I didn't watch it, I didn't really feel like listening to some kid running his mouth."

Of course, Ortiz is likely referring to Floyd Mayweather and the ugly tirade that took place on 24/7 between he and father Floyd Sr. What's ironic is that Floyd is 34 and Victor is the "kid" at 24. Age aside, they both seem to enjoy running their respective mouths.

Regarding Mayweather Jr himself and the upcoming fight, Ortiz said he wants to fight the best Floyd Mayweather possible come fight night but sounded confident no matter which version shows up, "He's overdue to lose. He's not great to me, and I'm not impressed. I don't care how good he thinks he is or how good the boxing media thinks he is. Floyd fights the same in every fight. Analysts are just too blind to see it. I'm not gonna hold any kinda respect. He's done, and he can't adjust to me."

Asked to make a prediction on the fight, Victor Ortiz reminded everyone on the conference call of one undeniable truth.

"I'm not Muhammad Ali."

Hear more of what Victor Ortiz had to say about his upcoming September 17th HBO PPV fight against Floyd Mayweather by hitting play below to hear the call in it's entirety.

August 27, 2011

Andre Berto's Biloxi Blues‏‏

By Jeffrey Freeman - They say a boxer is only as good as his last fight, and in the case of Andre Berto that last fight was a valiant, but losing effort to Victor Ortiz in a 'Fight of the Year' candidate that cost Berto his WBC welterweight title, his undefeated record, and perhaps even a mega-fight with boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather.

So just how good is Andre Berto based on his last fight and what if anything did he gain by losing like he did? That depends on how you look at it, because another oft-cited boxing axiom is that when two fighters engage in a 'Fight of the Year' type fight like Berto and Ortiz did earlier this year, both fighters are generally elevated on the strength of that collective performance.

But has that really been the case with Andre Berto? Has Berto really been elevated and if not, why has he been unable to capitalize on that performance in the way that Victor Ortiz has?

Obviously by winning, Ortiz gets the glory and the next big fight with Money Mayweather but let's also look at how both fighters have conducted themselves since their fight last April. To his credit, Victor Ortiz has been nothing but gracious and respectful in the media toward Andre Berto while during this same time, Andre Berto has made veiled allegations on Twitter that Victor Ortiz was on steroids for their fight. Andre Berto has also made many inexplicable excuses for his own performance, essentially saying that he was not at his best and that it wasn't the real Andre Berto in the ring that night. Berto seems unwilling to act like a true champion and simply say he lost to the better man, with no excuses. While Victor Ortiz has done his best to win over his many critics, Berto has seemingly done everything possible to give them ammunition against him.

By his own hand, Andre Berto is in danger of becoming a forgotten fighter and although he and his promoter Lou DiBella deny this, they both seem to know it's true.

During a media conference call to promote the fight against Zaveck, Andre Berto seemed genuinely annoyed at the suggestion that he risks becoming a forgotten fighter, and shot back at this journalist by saying, "Is that what it is? You lose one fight and you're forgotten about already? Fighters like Mosley and Hopkins have shown, they lose one fight, they come back bigger than they were before. That's what blows my mind about boxing writers and just boxing in general. You lose one close fight and people act like they'll write you off. In boxing, you can turn into a superstar overnight. I had a bad night and after that fight, I had to really sit back and realize a lot of things. But I don't care what people think, or what they are gonna write, I'm just doing this for me, my family and the real Berto fans and that's it."

Said promoter Lou DiBella, "In a fight of the year candidate like the one Andre fought against Ortiz, your status is supposed to go up, not down."

That is generally true for action fighters like Gatti & Ward, but in the case of Andre Berto, his status appears to have diminished. That may have more to do with how Berto has conducted himself since the loss than with how he fights. Berto did himself no favors on Twitter with his steroid comments aimed at Ortiz, and he has done himself no favors by making excuses for the loss, and by not giving Ortiz the unconditional respect that Ortiz has so clearly given to him since their memorable fight last April. A loss to the unknown Jan Zaveck could easily put Berto in career limbo, and there is a strong likelihood that any remaining loyalty in Berto at HBO and among boxing fans would wither away as attention shifts to other fighters with more appealing styles.

IBF welterweight titlist Jan Zaveck, fighting for the first time in the United States against Berto, would like nothing more than get his name on the map at the expense of Andre Berto, "I didn't come here to America to buy or sell something. I came here to defend my title. It doesn't matter if you know me or not, after this fight many more people will know who I am and many more people will want to know who I am." 

Whatever goodwill and additional interest that he might have generated as a fighter for his gutsy loss to Ortiz has been squandered by Berto himself, and his unwillingness to accept the loss and give the proper credit to the man who beat him. Fans don't want to hear excuses after a loss, even though they might be used to them. Fans especially don't want to hear a fighter cry "steroids" after a loss. That's just bad form, and it's very disrespectful, particularly coming from a fighter who is now working with Victor Conte, founder and president of the infamous BALCO, a sports nutrition company with ties to steroid use in professional sports. For the record, Conte served prison time in 2005 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute steroids.

Victor Conte is now a nutritionist and conditioning coach with Team Berto.

So as Victor Ortiz prepares to face Floyd Mayweather in September in Las Vegas on Pay-Per-View, Andre Berto prepares to face the relatively unknown welterweight belt holder Jan Zavek in Biloxi, Mississippi on HBO Boxing After Dark. For Ortiz, it's a win-win situation. Ortiz will be paid millions, he will fight on the biggest stage a fighter can ever hope to compete on, and he is within striking distance of becoming an elite fighter in the sport of boxing. Ortiz is living up to the saying that a fighter is only as good as last fight, and that performance against Berto has undeniably elevated his status as a fighter. Andre Berto on the other hand, is in an almost no-win situation now. If he loses to Zaveck, that will be two upset losses in a row and the people who might have been on the fence about Berto will now have a legitimate reason to move on and forget about him as a top level fighter. If he wins, he picks up the IBF welterweight title, but what comes after that? More mandatory defenses against unknown fighters? More less than scintillating fights on HBO, as is his norm?

Or can Andre Berto fully re-invent himself and become the elite fighter he dreams of becoming? Only time will tell. But by losing to Victor Ortiz, Andre Berto has given the boxing world an opportunity to pass him by and if he loses to Jan Zaveck in Biloxi, it's doubtful he could ever catch up.

Zaveck battles Berto in Biloxi on September 3rd on HBO.

"You're a witness. You're always standing around watching what's happening, scribbling in your book what other people do. You have to get in the middle of it. You have to take sides. Make a contribution to the fight. Any fight. The one you believe in. Once you start compromising your thoughts, you're a candidate for mediocrity." ~ Arnold Esptein, Biloxi Blues 1988 

August 25, 2011

Zavek vs Berto media conference call gets heated!

On an international media conference call today to promote the upcoming Jan Zavek vs Andre Berto IBF Welterweight Title fight, promoter Lou DiBella and Andre Berto both took exception to KO Digest's questions as to whether or not Andre Berto is concerned about becoming a forgotten fighter in the sport of boxing after losing earlier this year to Victor Ortiz. Since that fight, Ortiz of course has gone on to secure a Superfight against megastar Floyd Mayweather while Berto now faces the prospect of fighting a relatively unknown belt holder in Jan Zavek; in Mississippi of all places! DiBella called this line of questioning "disrespectful" and seemed to go into full spin mode for his fighters. Berto also refused to answer KO Digest's questions about his recent Twitter allegations that Victor Ortiz was on steroids for their fight. Dan Rafael from ESPN tried to follow up along those lines but seemed to get equally as unsatisfactory an answer from Berto, who probably wished he had never made those Tweets in the first place.

As conference calls go, this one was a heated one, and fun to be a part of.

Hit play below to hear the whole call.   

Title Bout: Alexis Arguello vs Julio Cesar Chavez

In this "Title Bout" DREAM fight between all time great junior welterweights from the past, a strange tempo for the fight was set  early in the first round when Alexis Arguello hit Chavez very low below the belt, and despite his insistence that it was unintentional, Chavez was incensed by this and from that point on fought like a man possessed. Despite losing the first two rounds and being cut slightly under the left eye, Chavez came on very strong in the third and dropped Arguello with a combination of punches for a 5 count.

Seconds later, a right cross from Chavez had Arguello down again, and in a heap of trouble. Arguello made it up by 9 and was fortunate the bell rang to end the round. With Arguello's left eye now swelling rapidly, Chavez found it easier to land punches on Arguello in the 4th and he opened a nasty gash over the right eye of Arguello who was now starting to look a terrible mess. In the 5th, Chavez quickly reopened the cut over Arguello's eye and suddenly Arguello looked like Chavez did against De La Hoya in their bloody first battle.

The referee stopped the action to have the ringside physician have a look at the cut and it was ruled that Arguello could not continue, awarding a TKO victory to Julio Cesar Chavez.

Result: 1991 Chavez TKO5 1982 Arguello
Time of the stoppage: 2:14 of round 5.
Score at the time of stoppage: 39-35, 38-36, and 38-36, all in favor of Chavez.

August 24, 2011

Title Bout: Joe Gans vs Roberto Duran

In this "Title Bout" DREAM fight between all time great Lightweight Champions, both fighters had their moments but it was Joe Gans who used his superior boxing skills to outpoint, and even outfight the game and determined Roberto Duran.

Gans took the first two rounds with his boxing skills but it was Duran who nearly ended the fight in the 3rd round as he finally caught up to Gans and staggered him with an uppercut before dropping him for an 8 count with a powerful right cross that also caused the left eye of Gans to start swelling up. Gans barely survived the round when Duran could not land that one final shot that surely would have ended it.

The 4th was fought on even terms but in the 5th, a sweet left hook from Gans staggered Duran and Gans appeared to take back control. In the 6th, Duran began to get rough with Gans and he opened a bad gash over his left eye with a punch. Between the swelling and the cut, Duran was finding it easier to connect with his power punches and control the fight. The referee took a look at Gans' eye between the 6th and 7th round, ruling that Gans was fit to continue. In the 9th round, a stinging left jab from Gans started a trickle of blood from the nose of Duran. In the 10th, a small cut under the right eye of Gans began to develop. Going into the 11th, Gans was behind on two of the three official cards and so he really turned on the gas in the 11th, outboxing and outpunching Duran with precision shots. Towards the end of the 12th, a round that Duran had controlled despite beginning to show signs of fatigue, a monster left hook from Gans put Duran on the seat of his pants for a 7 count.

Gans then swept the championship rounds to win a competitive majority decision, despite the fact that Duran reopened the bad gash over Gans' left eye in the 14th round.

Result: Joe Gans W15 Roberto Duran
Official Scores: 145-139 & 144-140 Gans, and 141-141 Even.

August 22, 2011

Title Bout: Jack Dempsey vs Joe Frazier

In this "Title Bout" DREAM fight between these two hard hitting Heavyweight Champions, Dempsey got things going early as he staggered Frazier with a powerful uppercut in the very first round. Dempsey continued his early success by cutting Frazier on the bridge of the nose and then again staggered Frazier in the 4th, this time with a powerful right cross. A frenzied Dempsey tried to finish off the hurt Frazier, but missed more than he landed and may have punched himself out a bit as in the very next round Smokin Joe came roaring back into the fight dropping Dempsey with a huge left hook for a 5 count at the end of the 5th round. The bell rang as Dempsey got up, saving him from any follow up punches.

The 6th was action packed as Dempsey was all over Frazier with vicious combinations and uppercuts, until Frazier came back by staggering Dempsey with a whistling left hook at the bell to close the round. In the 9th round, Frazier struck again late in the round with a right uppercut and Dempsey was down for the second time in the fight, this time rising at 8, but again, fortunately for him, he heard the bell to save him from further punishment. Dempsey was relentless however and he staggered Joe with a left uppercut of his own in the 10th. Dempsey started showing signs of fatigue in the 11th round and was also warned in this round for rabbit punching.

With Dempsey tiring, Joe Frazier closed the championship rounds strong, cutting Dempsey under the left eye in the 12th, and stunning him with a left hook in the 15th and final round. Frazier won a hard fought, tough majority decision over Jack Dempsey.

Result: Joe Frazier W15 Jack Dempsey
Scores: 144-139 & 144-139 Frazier, and 141-141 Even. 

As for the stats:

Dempsey and Frazier both rate highly in punching power, Dempsey gets a 9, and Frazier gets a 10, the highest HP (hitting power) possible. As for chins, Demsey's is rated a little better, his KDR1 is rated as a 2, and Frazier's rating is a 3. KDR1 is knock down resistance, the lower your score the better your chin, the less likely you are to be knocked down. Hagler for example gets a 1 for his KDR1. Dempsey has a 2, Frazier a 3. KDR2 is similar to KDR1 but is a rating that is added to the KDR1 when a fighter has been knocked down, so it reflects how much more vulnerable a fighter is after being knocked down, and for the remained of that round. Dempsey gets a 0, the best possible and Frazier gets a 1. KOR is Knockout resistance and both score a 2, with 1 being the best possible. They both have excellent endurance, but the reason Dempsey grew tired in the 11th was due to the fact that he had been knocked down twice in the fight and had another round where enough punches were landed against him to warrant a reduction in his stamina. By the 11th, he began to show signs of fatigue which included reduced hitting effectiveness and accuracy as well as a few other variables. As for defense, the range on that is -6 to +6, with -6 being the best. Dempsey's defense is Even, meaning that nothing is taken away from or added to his opponent's range of landing punches, and Frazier rated a +2 on defense, which means +2 is added to his opponent's range for punches landed.

August 19, 2011

Vera & Lee Prepare for Rematch‏
During an international media conference call to promote their upcoming 10 round middlweight fight, contenders Andy Lee and Brian Vera discussed their rematch which is scheduled for October 1st at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ on the undercard of the Sergio Martinez-Darren Barker Middleweight Championship fight. Both Vera and Lee are action fighters at heart and many expect their rematch to be the most entertaining match-up on the card. Vera won their first fight in 2008 by a somewhat controversial TKO in the 7th round in an entertaining upset that saw Lee drop Vera in the first.

A good winning performance in this fight could potentially put either fighter in a position to fight for the Middleweight Championship of the World against Sergio Martinez, who headlines the card.

KO Digest asked Brian Vera (19-5 w/ 12 KOs) if he felt in any way disappointed that he didn't get more mileage out his first big name win, a decision over "Contender" winner Sergio Mora earlier this year.

Vera responded by saying, "You know, a little bit, yes. A lot more things should come out of that. At the time, my management was a little weak, I had somebody that was very inexperienced, and I kinda left everything in his hands. But now I have a new team. I am back to loving what I do and here we are now so I don't worry about it."

KO Digest asked Andy Lee (26-1 w/ 19 KOs) what he will do differently this time against Vera and what it was like to be involved in such a war as the one he was involved in against Craig McEwan earlier this year.

Andy Lee responded by saying, "This time, I see myself boxing and moving more against Vera. But if I have to go to war, I'm coming prepared and I'll go to war. I have shown in the past that I have what it takes to do both. But I plan on boxing Vera and putting on a boxing show."

And your memories of the McEwan fight?

"The McEwan fight was a tough fight. Craig boxed really well, I've never seen him box so well. I started off well and then got kinda involved in trying to bang too much. And he picked up his boxing and eventually took over, the momentum changed, but I showed that I have what it takes to to come back and dig in at the end. That gave me great belief in myself that if I have to do that, no matter how desperate the situation, I have it inside myself, there is no quit in me. I'll keep fighting until the end."

The card, billed as “Noche de Maravilla" will air live from Atlantic City on HBO Championship Boxing.

August 18, 2011

Title Bout: Mike Tyson vs George Foreman in 1991

A fight that could have happened but never did. Until now! Mike Tyson was coming back from his upset KO loss to Buster Douglas in February of 1990 and was back on a tear through the division, stopping inferior opposition through the rest of 1990 and then stepping up with a pair of wins over Razor Ruddock in the first half of 1991. During this same time period, Big George was coming off his unexpectedly competitive fight with Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield so the fight everyone wanted to see was a natural at this point in time.

Tyson vs Foreman!

Both fighters were paid millions and knew a win would put them right back in the title picture.

Tyson won this "Title Bout" DREAM fight by TKO from an accumulation of punishment in the 4th round after dropping Big George with a vicious combination of punches early in the round. Foreman quickly got to his feet by the count of 3 but was relentlessly pounded by an onrushing Mike Tyson who showed his trademark killer instinct. With Foreman no longer defending himself and Tyson teeing off on him, the referee stepped in to stop the fight. Foreman landed a few hard punches in the 2nd and kept it close in a slow opening round but for the most part, it was all Tyson.

Result: Tyson KO4 Foreman
Time of the stoppage: 1:48 of the 4th round.
Scores at the time of stoppage: Judge 1: 29-28 Tyson, Judges 2 & 3 30-27 Tyson.

August 17, 2011

Erik Morales still loves boxing!

During an international media conference call today to promote his upcoming junior welterweight fight against top contender Lucas Matthysse, the always classy Erik Morales spoke about his love for the sport of boxing, and answered the question as to why he is still fighting at the age of 34 despite having achieved an already Hall of Fame worthy career.

Asked why he still fights on despite having lost 6 of his last 10 fights and what his motivation is for still fighting, Morales got a little feisty and responded by saying, "Tell me one fighter that's just rolled over me. With me being in my moment, with no issues and no problems, tell me, mention one name that you would say, 'OK, he's done.' One name that you can indicate that I'm done."

For the record, Manny Pacquiao "rolled over" Eric Morales in 2006 but there is certainly no shame in losing to the best fighter in the world.

So what motivates you Erik?

"The first part is because I know I can do it. The second part is because I love to do it. It's just something I love doing now, at this point in my career. It's the love of the sport, I just love boxing."

There appear to many options available for the winner in the wide open junior welterweight division.

If Morales wins, a rematch with Marcos Maidana might be in order, but if Robert Guerrero beats Marcos Maidana on August 27th, a fight against "The Ghost" could be in "El Terrible's" future.

For Matthysse, a possible rematch with Devon Alexander looms, or perhaps a fight against the winner of Guerrero-Maidana.

Or who knows, perhaps this fight will be so good and so close that a rematch against eachother is an option.

Erik Morales (51-7 w/ 35 KOs) and Lucas Matthysse (28-2 w/ 26 KOs) will do battle for the vacant WBC junior welterweight title on September 17th in Las Vegas, on the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz undercard.

The card, billed "Star Power", will air live on HBO PPV.

Hit play below to hear what "El Terrible" had to say!

August 16, 2011

Q&A with Al Bernstein on Agbeko-Mares

Through the fine folks at Ring Magazine & Ring TV, I was able to ask boxing announcer Al Bernstein about his scoring of the controversial Abner Mares-Joseph Agbeko fight when Mr. Bernstein was a guest on the Ring Radio show today. Bernstein played a key role in the controversy when, as an announcer for Showtime, he began to get very vocal during the fight about the repeated low blows from Abner Mares as well as the sub-par officiating of referee Russell Mora. Just hit play to hear what Al Bernstein had to say when asked about it. 

August 15, 2011

Thoughts on Agbeko vs Mares & Mora‏
A good fight was ruined by a bad referee. That's the best way to describe what happened this weekend in the final round of the Showtime bantamweight tournament. King Kong Agbeko and Abner Mares fought hard to get to the tournament finals and when they finally fought eachother, they fought hard against eachother. The problem was the "fishy play" of referee Russell Mora. He made at least two critical bad calls and injected himself into the fight not so much by what he did, but by what he didn't do. And what he didn't do was control the repeated low blows of Abner Mares.

Challenger Mares went low early and often but Russell Mora seemed disinterested in the fouls. He did not seriously warn Mares and he certainly did not penalize him. The whole mess became even more exaggerated when Showtime announcer Al Bernstein began to make repeated note of it during the fight, and the situation reached a head when Jim Grey interviewed the referee in the ring after the fight and called him out for his bad performance point blank.

For the record, Mares won a majority decision over Agbeko, as well as the IBF Bantamweight title, but he did so on the strength of two falsely called knockdowns, and on his ability to foul all night without being penalized.

Let's be clear: Referee Russell Mora was terrible in this fight and I'm still not sure which was more of a shame to see: Abner Mares defending the referee's bad calls after the fight to Jim Grey or to hear the referee actually defending himself to Jim Grey! When Jim Grey was interviewing Mares in the ring after the fight, the new IBF Champion thanked several people, and I was seriously wondering if Jim Grey would ask Mares if he wanted to send a special thanks to referee Russell Mora! He should have because Mora was more directly responsible for his victory than anyone else, including himself.  "I never hit him low", Mares told a bewildered Jim Grey after the fight. The whole situation was a total Twilight Zone moment for everyone involved.

An otherwise close competitive fight was marred by bad and missed calls. In the first round, Agbeko slipped and it was ruled a knockdown by Russell Mora. Bad call. Through the rest of the fight Mora simply refused to enforce the rules and he allowed Mares to go low with impunity. Missed calls. In the 11th, after repeated low blows throughout the fight, Mares punched Agbeko right in the groin and Agbeko fell to the canvas fully expecting, like everyone else, that Mares would finally be penalized for a flagrant low blow. Imagine the surprise of Agbeko when Mora ruled it a knockdown and began a ten count. Bad call + missed call = worst call! At this point, Agbeko stood no chance on the scorecards, and it's a wonder he was even willing to continue fighting at all given that he truly did have to fight Mares and Mora at the same time!

By making two bad knockdown calls against King Kong Agbeko and not taking a single point from Abner Mares for repeated low blows, Mora literally took the fight from the rightful winner Agbeko and gave it to Mares. The fight should be declared a No Contest, the belt returned to Agbeko, and an immediate rematch ordered. If it had been properly officiated, Agbeko should have won by a close decision or at worst escaped with a draw. Corrupt or incompetent, or just a referee having a terrible night, I really have no idea.

Being a boxing referee is a tough thankless job. Just ask Richard Steele. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they get it wrong and Russell Mora certainly did himself no favors in the Mares-Agbeko fight. Here's hoping that in the inevitable much needed rematch, the Ghanaian native Agbeko truly channels the spirit of Azumah Nelson-Jeff Fenech II like he said he was going to do in this fight. Agbeko, like his countryman Nelson before him now has something to be fired up about, the proper motivation for a dominating performance like that, and he now knows for sure that he can't leave his destiny in the hands of judges or the referee.
Said Mares immediately after the fight, "Don't ruin my moment!"

Sorry Abner, I really couldn't help it.

I never hit you low.

Title Bout: Marvin Hagler vs Les Darcy

Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs Les Darcy
Scheduled for 15 Rounds

This "Title Bout" DREAM fight featured a pair of firsts as Les Darcy was the first fighter to ever legitimately knock down Marvin Hagler, but Marvin Hagler was the first fighter to ever knockout Les Darcy! What a great fight this was while it lasted! Hagler began the fight as a southpaw and found success as a boxer. The early chess match was won by Hagler as he controlled the first two rounds, landing the better and more effective shots in each round, including a combination that staggered Darcy in the 2nd. Midway through the 3rd round though, Darcy surprised everyone by dropping Hagler with a short left hook inside. The punch legitimately hurt Hagler, who rose at 8.

Hagler held on though and even stunned Darcy to close out the round. With the knockdown seeming to only make him upset, Hagler switched from boxer to slugger and won the 4th round with effective aggression and then early in the 5th round, Hagler landed a perfect right cross that dropped Darcy to the canvas where the referee counted him out.

Result: Marvin Hagler KO5 Les Darcy
Time of the knockout: 0:36 of the 5th round.
Scores at the time of KO: 38-37, 38-37, 38-37

As for their stats: Hagler's resistance to being knocked down is as strong as the game can make it (KDR 1), as is Darcy's resistance to being knocked out as strong as the game can make it (KOR 1). It was quite surprising to see Hagler knocked down, and maybe just as surprising to see Darcy stopped. Keep in mind, it's just a simulation based on statistics and in both cases, long odds were overcome to achieve those unique results. Darcy dropping Hagler might have been the more surprising of the two however because Darcy's power, though respectable (HP7) did not cause an increase in the likelihood of Hagler being knocked down, though Hagler's power (HP9) DID cause an increase in the likelihood that Darcy would be knocked down AND also out.

And for those who might be unfamiliar with Les Darcy, the back of his fighter card reads: One of the best of the middleweights, never held the crown. The Australian welterweight champ held his own against all the fighters of his day, including Americans. He, like so many others of this time period, laid claim to the middlweight crown, but never held it officially. Darcy came to America to fight during WWI, was hounded and prevented from fighting, being called a slacker because he wasn't in the service. He died of mental breakdown and fever in 1917. He was never stopped in his career in the ring.

Next on Title Bout: Jack Dempsey vs Joe Frazier

August 14, 2011

Title Bout: The Game of Professional Boxing

Avalon Hill's classic boxing board game
By Jeffrey Freeman -- By popular demand I have dug out my old "Title Bout" boxing simulation game and will be blogging on the fights and the results. For those who may not be familiar with the game, Title Bout was introduced by the gaming company Avalon Hill in 1979. They also offered a line of other sports simulation games and their products were very well respected by gamers. There was really nothing else that even compared to what Avalon Hill was doing in terms of statistical realism, and overall fun. Title Bout is not a game of chance, there are no dice. For what it is, it's a pretty realistic simulation of professional boxing. The game was also a blast to play and I spent my youth playing it. It's been many years since I've played but I have been really wanting to rediscover it and so with my discovery of the fine folks on the Boxing History section of the forums, I have a good enough excuse now to dust it off and have a go at it. Seems at least a few others share a similar interest in it.

What I will be doing is having classic and dream fights on the game and then blogging on the action of the fight, and the results. Not sure yet what exactly that will look like as a post/blog, but hopefully it will be as entertaining for the readers as it is for me, the player/blogger.

In terms of what fighters I have access to it breaks down like this:

I have just about every fighter you can imagine from 1991 going back to the early days of the sport. All the ATGs (all time greats) are included as are a host of other top rated boxers from the past. You name the fighter, he's probably in the game. Every edition of Title Bout came with these classic fighters and they have not changed. They are considered to be "in their prime." The initial (1979) edition also came out with modern cards for all top level fighters who were active in 1979, when the game was first issued. I'm pretty sure there is a 1979 Muhammad Ali fighter card whose skills reflected on his card are nothing compared to his prime issue. I also have updated modern fighter cards that were issued in 1982, as well as updated modern fighter cards issued in 1986/87 and then again in 1990/91. What this means is that some fighters (Tommy Hearns for instance) have multiple cards from different time periods and also reflecting the different weight classes they fought in. The 1979 welterweight Hearns card is very different than the 1990/91 card featuring Tommy as a Super Middleweight on his way to Light Heavyweight.

I have resorted all the fighter cards into their appropriate weight classes and by year issued, and I am currently relearning how to play, most of it is coming right back to me like riding a bike but there are some details of game play that I will have to work out with a few "amateur" fights before I kick off the "real fights" and start blogging on them.

Title Bout lets you recreate all the great ring matchups of the past and present, with over 400 boxers individually rated for their abilities in over 20 key areas! Rewrite Boxing History. What would have happened if Rocky Marciano had fought the legendary John L Sullivan? Or if the great Joe Louis had met Muhammad Ali when both were in their prime? You can find out with Title Bout, as all the old time greats appear along with the current rated fighters in every weight class. 

August 9, 2011

Q & A with Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero.
Had a very interesting opportunity today to address Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero though Ring magazine editors Doug Fischer and Michael Rosenthal as "The Ghost" prepares for his upcoming fight against the tough Marcos Maidana. Let me explain. Fischer & Rosenthal were doing a podcast for Ring Radio and they solicited through Facebook for questions to be asked of Guerrero. Naturally, I jumped at this and was quick to submit a question, which was asked by Doug Fischer of Ring Magazine directly on my behalf. How cool is that? Below is the audio file of my question and The Ghost's reply. Enjoy!

August 2, 2011

Ring Posts

Welcome to a new monthly feature here on KO Digest called Ring Posts!

Kelly Pavlik has now officially pulled out of his upcoming fight against Darryl Cunningham and everyone is rushing to judgement and many are quick to condemn Kelly for this decision. There is much speculation that Pavlik may be drinking again, particularly after an ugly incident involving Kelly and his brother last month. Whatever the case, I think pulling out of this fight might have been the best and most appropriate thing for Kelly to do at this time, especially if he felt that the fight itself was a threat to his sobriety, or a threat to his health in any way. Perhaps this is just what he needs to put his focus where it needs to be. Honestly, I think Kelly Pavlik needs to focus on his RECOVERY, not boxing. He is still young enough and has made enough money that he can focus totally on getting well and then when he is well, focus again on boxing. I believe his comeback after rehab was actually too quick, and not enough time was spent creating and getting accustomed to a new sober lifestyle for himself and for his health. Boxing is a VERY stressful, painful endeavor; and let's face it, stress and pain is not really what anyone in early recovery needs to be successful in the long term. Good luck Kelly, I think you will find that recovery will be your hardest fight, and also your greatest accomplishment.

Speaking of fighters battling the bottle, I've met Kevin McBride several times and he really is a super nice guy, no attitude, no BS at all; so seeing him getting brutally KO'd by Mariusz Wach and then taken out on a stretcher last week at Mohegan Sun in CT, well it's just really sad to see. This was much worse than the beating he took in his last fight against Tomasz Adamek. Of course McBride needs to retire, and of course he needs to focus on his sobriety and on finding life after boxing. But can he? I sure hope he can find a way to live healthy, without becoming a hopeless alcoholic, or just another stepping stone who gets beat up for chump change. McBride's legacy, such that it is, will always be that of the man who retired Mike Tyson, and made Brockton boxing proud, again. Good luck Kevin. It's true what you always said that you came to the ring from Ireland with a lot of heart. Please get well my friend. 

I was recently thinking about the classic 1990 fight between Meldrick Taylor and Julio Cesar Chavez, and the so-called controversial stoppage. The HBO crew would have had you believe Taylor was easily winning the fight when in fact he was losing, at least in my opinion, especially with the knockdown in the 12th. Richard Steele's call, whether right or wrong, prevented (what would would have been) a bad decision on the score cards and it secured a win for the rightful winner, Julio Cesar Chavez. Even with the knockdown factored in to the final scoring (10-8 across the board in the 12th for Chavez), Taylor STILL would have won that fight had Steele not stopped it, and that would have been a terrible decision on the cards, so I have always been glad that Steele did what he did because it really was the only way for the right fighter to win that fight at that point, though I am sure Steele did not know that when he did what he did, he just saw a hurt fighter not responding to direct questions. It should also be said that HBO did a terrible job of describing the action and putting it all into proper context. They wanted a "superstar on the threshold of greatness" and that's how they were determined to describe Taylor no matter what was happening in there. If Steele had let Taylor finish the fight after the knockdown and the final bell rang 2 ticks later with Meldrick still standing, I don't see how anyone could possibly still have Taylor winning that fight, particularly with a 10-8 in the 12th round. That controversial stoppage gave the fight to the rightful winner. Meldrick Taylor was brave and he fought with incredible heart but in the end that was his undoing, not the decision by Richard Steele to stop the fight.

Regarding young new fans to the sport of boxing and how they relate with more experienced & knowledgeable fans, it's like an anything else. It takes years of watching boxing and reading about boxing history to really have a strong knowledge of the sport, and people tend to want to discuss things with people who know what the heck they're talking about. But there is room for all in the ring and there always should be. I'm a 30 year boxing fan/historian of the sport and for all intents and purposes I feel like I went to Boxing College in my teen years , and then Pugilistic Graduate school in my adulthood. All of that has made me the knowledgeable, experienced boxing fan and writer that I am today. As long as new fans show respect to the sport, to the fighters, and to the people who know more about it than they do, they should be welcomed and treated well by more seasoned fans who can teach them something and introduce new fans to the Sweet Science. That's how it's supposed to work, but the internet and discussion forums in particular complicate that and give disrespect, ignorance, and intolerance a place to thrive. Boxing is still a gentleman's sport, just not so much online. Every serious young boxing fan should make a trip to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY. What you will learn and experience there can never be picked up on the internet.

Boxing vs Mixed Martial Arts? Everyone has an opinion and that debate rages on, but one thing I hear a lot is that in MMA there are too many premature stoppages to the fights. Why is that? One reason is that there are no ten counts administered to downed fighters as there are in boxing. I propose a rule change: An MMA fighter who has been knocked down from a strike (a punch) while both fighters are in the standing position shall receive ONE traditional boxing ten count in order to regain his senses and keep fighting. If he beats the count, the fight continues, if he does not beat the count it's over, just like boxing. But if he does beat it and the fight goes on, the fighter who received that ONE single ten count is no longer entitled to any more counts and if he is knocked down again from strikes while standing, his opponent is free to pounce on him. Both fighters are entitled to one count if knocked down. That would reduce early, premature stoppages DRAMATICALLY and would be no problem to enforce. MMA also needs to modify and or abolish their current scoring system which mimics boxing but does not fit the sport it's applied to because there are not enough rounds in their fights and the criteria for a 10-8 round (or 10-7 for that matter) is far from clearly defined. Maybe incremental scoring (10/9.5, 10/8.5 etc) would help, or if they are going to keep boxing's relatively archaic scoring system, add more rounds and reduce the time in a round, say five 3 minute rounds for a non title fight, and eight 3 minute rounds for a title fight? Hear that Dana?

Andre Ward should drop the nickname he has now and go with...

"The Giant Micky"...let that sink in, then have a good laugh!

See you next month with all new Ring Posts!