September 2, 2011

Ring Posts II

Welcome to the second installment of my monthly boxing column, Ring Posts! Here is where you will find my latest rants on a variety of fight related subjects that got my attention in the past month.

People often ask where Manny Pacquiao ranks alongside the all time greats? Could he have beaten Henry Armstrong? Was his punching power greater than that of Roberto Duran? I always say the same thing when I hear questions like that: Manny Pacquiao is currently too polarizing a figure in the boxing landscape and I refuse to discuss him and his place in history until after he retires, and some proper perspective can be gained.

There was a lot of talk after the Abner Mares-King Kong Agbeko low-blow fiasco about some of the worst referees throughout the history of boxing. Doug Fischer of Ring Magazine came up with a great list covering the worst offenders of the past decade but you have to go all the way back to 1995 and the brutal Nigel Benn-Gerald McClellan fight to point the finger at Alfred Asaro for "worst referee" in recent memory. His negligence and his incompetence did not cost a fighter a title, or the fans a good fight. It cost Gerald McClellan his career and very nearly his life. If you don't believe me, go watch the tape. It's sickening.

Young boxing fans who were born too late sometimes ask why Muhammad Ali ended up the way he did. They see a man who can barely speak, and wonder how could this be the greatest of all time? The answer is simple really. It's because in the ring, Ali was willing to sacrifice his body and his mind for the HONOR & GLORY of being remembered as the greatest heavyweight champion of all time, and one of the greatest fighters who ever lived. Because he was the exact opposite of Victor Ortiz in the Marcos Maidana fight, and because Ali was willing to die inside the ring. Ali knew that his body was only a temporary vessel and he was more than willing to run that race car into the red, and beyond. Because Muhammad Ali was willing to pay the high price for true greatness. That's why.

Having a great chin is not always about not going down, but rather how you respond when you do go down. Because of this, Larry Holmes deserves special consideration for all the monster shots he sponged up without going down, and more importantly for the monster shots that did drop him but failed to keep him down. Ernie Shavers and Renaldo Snipes both dropped Holmes with HARD shots and Larry got up like nothing happened and went on to win those fights by KO. Shots like the ones that decked Holmes would knock out inferior chins. Larry had a rock solid jaw. It took all of a prime Mike Tyson to finally cut him down, and keep him there.

Speaking of great chins, Marvelous Marvin Hagler really was a one of a kind Champion. His approach to defending the Middleweight Championship of the World was something you simply DO NOT see today, at any weight. Hagler considered anyone challenging him to be trespassing, and trespassers were prosecuted to the fullest extent of his fists. He came to destroy you, not just beat you. Hagler was perhaps the last of that kind. Greatness mattered to him and he fought like he always had something to prove. Marvin also had the right temperament for a Boxing Champion. He was not there to outpoint you, or just merely beat you. He was there to punish you for having the nerve to step into a boxing ring with him and for daring to think you could take his title away from him. That attitude translated into power and greatness. Hagler was said by some to fight with the advantage of "three hands" in the ring. His left, his right and that shiny bald hard head, which Hagler once aptly said if cracked open would reveal a boxing glove.

What's the deal with Carl "The Cobra" Froch? The Super 6 finalist has fought the toughest schedule in boxing the past couple years and when his opponents do hit him, he responds with an overwhelming number of volume punches to the point where no matter what you do against him, Froch can do more and better to you. He's one of the best in the world, and on the brink of winning the Super 6 tournament. All he has to do is beat Andre Ward. No easy task. Can he? I'm leaning towards a Froch upset win in this fight, but I'm not ready to make my final prediction just yet. Still, Froch is not to be trifled with, the guy is a beast in the ring. It should be a great fight, a good blend of styles, and the stakes could not be any higher. Winner takes the Super 6, and wins recognition as Ring Magazine Super Middleweight Champion. Also, there are Pound for Pound implications for the winner, and loser.

Long time fans of boxing sometimes talk about the good old days. For me, those good old days were 1985 thtough 1990, that was my Golden Era of Boxing. In that short six year period, boxing saw the rise and fall of Mike Tyson, the sport was full of superstars, and boxing fans saw some of the best and most important fights in boxing history. Just to name a few: Hagler KO3 Hearns, Douglas KO10 Tyson, Chavez KO12 Taylor, Leonard W12 Hagler, Hagler KO11 Mugabi, Cruz W15 McGuigan, Duran W12 Barkley, Leonard D12 Hearns II, Holyfield W15 Qawi, and Holyfield KO10 Dokes. It was an amazing time to be a young fan, and from that perspective, it seemed like it would never end.