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!