You know those ubiquitous “Average xxxxx IQ=106. Are You Smarter Than xxxxx? Take a Free IQ Test!” ads that seem to be placed on so many websites these days? Notice how they inexplicably list celebrities with the apparent wit of shoe leather as having preposterously high numbers (“Simon Cowell=122!!!!!1”) which are always above average? Notice also how the numbers vary even when the supposed personage in question doesn’t, as in Cowell might be 122 today, 117 last week, 103 on a different site? The ESPN NBA page I’m looking at right now has a bunch of those ads giving a supposed number of 83 for NBA players. Think about why they chose that number, for that group.
– Turns out Peter vs. Chambers, while being largely the fight I expected, was also perhaps a lot worse than I had hoped. Memory’s a funny thing; I had last seen Chambers in a losing effort against Alexander Povetkin and came away impressed with his boxing, if less so with his conditioning- he won many early rounds of that fight, then gassed and gave in mentally to Povetkin’s pressure. Tonight his conditioning looked better (if not his physique), but that may have been down to his fighting at half-speed against a paralyzed opponent almost from the opening bell. His jab looked good and his footwork was alright, but he seemed terrified of throwing his right hand and was content to do just enough to win- and still barely did, getting only a majority decision. He may not be a banger, but Peter was all but useless and Chambers demonstrated no killer instinct at all in a fight he probably could have won by KO if he had been willing or physically able to push the pace and fight to finish. Hard to know where he goes from here, exactly; the Klitschkos are beyond him and while he seems like a nice kid, is American and can talk, his look’s all wrong with the flab he carries and he’s not the most exciting fighter out there. Chambers-Chagaev might be fun, but is probably politically impossible.
Peter, meanwhile- ye Gods. He showed up the heaviest of his career, 265 pounds, and could barely move; Chambers almost orbited him for most of the fight while Peter threw half-ass jabs and pawing rights, doing very little damage. Chambers is vulnerable to pressure fighters who bull him into the ropes as Povetkin did and which would seem the obvious strategy for Peter to have employed, but Peter could barely stand up on his own or walk by the middle of the fight and seemed almost uninterested in the contest. Towards the end of the fight, at the close of the 7th I believe, he threw a late punch on Chambers as the round ended; Chambers responded by smiling and patting Peter on the ass with a sarcastic “attaboy!” gesture, which drove Peter to…slowly, awkwardly stumble back to his corner. What can you say about a man who showed up so unable to perform that slightly more than halfway through the contracted length of the fight, he was so gassed that he couldn’t even respond to his opponent deliberately humiliating him? At this point, with two straight losses in embarrassing fashion and an obvious lack of effort, Peter needs a new trainer. His current corner clearly is proficient and was able to help him win many fights but it’s apparent that Peter’s stopped listening to them and needs some kind of change to get his ass in gear. He’s only 28 years old, has solid skills, fantastic athletic gifts, and at his best fighting weight is probably 240-250 pounds of devastating, quick fighter with one of the biggest punches in the division. He should never, ever lose to Eddie Chambers; in condition, he should walk him down, corner him, and pound him out. Hopefully that fighter reemerges soon because this division can’t afford to lose a man who by all rights should be one of its best fighters and biggest stars. This was almost a Dominick Guinn performance.
– Also, while this was a really good card with some fun prospect showcases on the undercard, the people who promote this sport really have to be careful with how they showcase heavyweights these days given the dearth of talent and will in the division. One of the undercard fights which ESPN showed was John Molina against Carlos Vinan, Molina the prospect and Vinan the jobber brought in to be crushed. Vinan, bless him, was not interested in the usual Kabuki drama of these kinds of fights and went out there in the first to get in Molina’s kitchen, throw hard shots and try to knock the young star out in the first. Molina to his credit was never shaken or worried by this, never intimidated or surprised, and ended up demonstrating some strong inside fighting ability, accuracy and willpower on the way to a second round KO win. It was a great little fight and a lot of fun to watch; but it also had more action in 5 minutes than the main event had in a half hour, and was a vastly more HONEST fight.
What do I mean by that? Compare and contrast: Vinan, knowing he was brought in to lose and was outmatched in size (height, frame) and age and fighting in the house fighter’s home country, went out there and threw everything he had at the younger man in an effort to win. He threw hard body shots, hard hooks, a few elbows; he bulled Molina into the ropes, shoulder-shoving him back, stepping on his toes and doing everything in his power to win. Some of that is gray-area stuff, but it’s an attempt to win all the same- it must be respected given Vinan’s status. Molina, as noted, responded to all of it without protest and in kind, and found a way to win impressively- there was no expectation on his part of a guy brought in to lose “taking it easy” on him or going down quickly. He came to fight and win, and that also must be respected. Meanwhile in Peter vs. Chambers, there were a few instances in the fight in which Chambers would retreat to the ropes or a corner and languish there, exactly where Peter wanted him; Peter would lumber in, throw a few weak jabs and half-hearted rights; Chambers would then respond with a single counter jab and Peter would back off and let Chambers out. Why? Fatigue, yes, but also the silent bargain. This happens in many fights and takes many forms, and between these two tonight it was an agreement to give 75%, to back off when the other man demonstrated a show of resistance, to not push for a finish. To have a safety-first jab contest. Many heavyweights do this, probably a larger proportion of this division than any other, and a lot of the time it can be gotten away with. But when you have an undercard bout which features two fighters fighting with the exact opposite presumptions- really going out there to hammer each other with all they had and score a KO- then the illusion is dispelled and heavyweight boxing ends up looking like the sham it all too often is. Two top fighters in the division stop looking like dangerous men, and start looking like a couple of fat guys half-assing it. Trouble.
– So the tests are back on Margarito’s hand wraps, and yes, they were loaded with plaster of Paris. It should be understood that this is a very rare form of cheating, and a very, very bad one. Perhaps the worst a fighter can engage in. Baseline rules infractions- low blows, headbutts, holding, rabbit punches, even biting- are so common that they’re anticipated within the rules and provided with more or less set penalties, none of which cause an immediate end even to the current fight. Steroid abuse is worse, considered usually enough to invalidate the results of a fight and good for a year long suspension, but still is essentially still just a form of cheating which aims at winning a fight: it gives the cheater an edge in all kinds of small ways which adds up to a big advantage in determining a winner, but all of those effects are essentially just changes in a fighter’s chances of victory under agreed upon rules. It’s unsportsmanlike, but not exceptionally dangerous.
Loaded gloves are different. They aim not just at winning a fight, but at doing lasting life-long damage to an opponent. They raise the risk of death or permanent injury, and they’re effectively like using a weapon. Where other forms of cheating may raise a given fighter’s chances of success at boxing, loaded gloves aren’t even boxing anymore- they’re armed assault, and have been legally prosecuted as such in the past. You might as well use a baseball bat. Loading gloves shows not just a willingness to break rules to win but an utterly depraved indifference to the damage that could be caused- a total lack of respect for an opponent and for the sport itself. No one who reveals themselves as that sort of person should have anything further to do with the sport. They can’t be trusted, no opponent of theirs should run the risk of repeat violations (here let it be noted, even the commission inspector missed this infraction from Margarito at first- Nazim Richardson caught it), and frankly their crimes are so extreme that in my view they’ve forfeited all right to make a living by boxing in their disrespect for the sport and fellow participants. Margarito and his trainer should be banned for life. I don’t say that lightly, but if not for this, what for? See this Kevin Blackistone article for some more good perspective, especially about the last time someone was caught doing this in a high profile fight, and their fate.
As far as I’m concerned, nothing Margarito did in his career matters anymore. His word means nothing; he’s denied doing what’s now been proven to have occurred by independent testing. He’s a liar. Every win is suspect, Miguel Cotto is unbeaten and I intend to refer to him as such, and Margarito should never put on a pair of gloves again or even be allowed to train fighters in the future. No promoter should promote him, no commission sanction him, no opponent face him. If he fights again I won’t watch and will ask you reading this to please not do so as well.
I had somehow totally missed this one, but ESPN2 has a very good heavyweight boxing contest on tonight between Eddie Chambers and Sam Peter. Both guys are probably as good as anyone below the Klitschko level, and represent a severe clash of styles as Chambers has little pop, decent speed and very good technique, while Peter is almost a prototypical slugger. Both guys have some conditioning issues in their past and Peter is apparently quite heavy for this one, so I think I like Chambers to outbox Peter over 12, something like 9 rounds to 3. Should be a good one.
Also, I have been VERY remiss in my basketblogging. I’m looking to catch up on that this weekend….
Tragically, inevitably perfect: Isiah Thomas interviews for Clippers job.
I absolutely hope this happens. There’s a tenth of a percent’s chance that Zeke redeems himself, in which case god bless him; if the other 99.9% comes up, the comedy of the situation will be off the charts. Who WOULDN’T pay to watch Sterling, Zeke and Mike Dunleavy try to coexist? Them having a 2 hour working lunch would be better than most PPVs these days.
Here’s one I hadn’t heard before- according to the current issue of the Wrestling Observer, there were serious negotiations in 2003 involving WWE to pit Lennox Lewis in a shoot against…Brock Lesnar. It was apparently serious enough that Marc Ratner (NSAC head at the time) was called about sanctioning requirements, and a location had been reserved. Can you imagine what a circus that would have been, and how different the career paths of everyone involved (including UFC) might have been based on the results? Very intriguing.
Now here’s a fight I can get behind: Anthony Johnson vs. Matt Brown, TUF Finale. Jesus, can you imagine? If that’s not fight of the night, either one of them has been felled by a sniper during introductions or that’s the best card of the year. I think I favor Johnson, he’s huge and can often use his size intelligently to control distance and throw kicks from the outside, and I’d be willing to bet that he’s physically stronger than Brown; but at the same time, Brown can take a God-awful beating before he goes down, he’ll never stop trying, and will make Johnson fight 5 minutes of every round. If AJ’s conditioning slackens, or he gets lazy and fights at close quarters….
I’ll say Johnson KO R2, high kick, but almost regardless of winner or method this should be awesome. One of the great advantages UFC has these days is the ability to consistently put fights like this together and begin to hype them this far out; a boxing equivalent would be hard to arrange as prospects like Johnson are often kept away from bruisers like Brown, there’s less of a scope for interesting clashes of style or technique, and to be honest a disproportionate number of boxers who would fit the bill are mostly absolutely unknown Mexican fighters who are viewed as unmarketable (and thus never marketed, a self-fulfilling prophecy) inside the US. One notable exception: Andre Berto, to his immense credit, has agreed in his next fight to face Juan Urango, a physically imposing (albeit at 140 lbs.) Colombian with little public profile in this country. Arguably it’s not the smartest business move, but it’s a hell of a fight, a brave matchup, and the sort of thing you like to see from a fighter who walks around calling himself a champion.
Perhaps it would be a cheap shot here to note that both Berto’s father and brother are MMA competitors.
About 50 minutes into today’s Stuttgart-Berlin game, Stuttgart passed the ball back to the keeper under very little pressure. It had been a mediocre game to that point with few chances, and so in frustration I thought “sure, great, pass it back to the keeper. Surely that will unlock the defense. Ugh.” And so of course 20 seconds later a long goal kick is flicked on and improbably slotted home by Cacau. Oof. I’m not sure if I should yell at the TV more or less now.
ESPN tries to broadcast “Heavyweight” “Title” “fight…?” on the uno, gets told to spack off by German media who just can’t fit it into the window before college wrestling comes on by contract; fight ends up on ESPN classic with no HD coverage, there to be seen by 5 English speakers of which I will be one- and we’ll be treated to a preposterous fight between a 37 year old active retiree and a 35 year old challenger whose wikipedia yields this quote:
“”I didn’t choose boxing,” said Cuban defector Juan Carlos Gómez in a recent interview. “They chose it for me in Cuba. I wanted to become a baseball player. That was always my dream. But, you know, in Cuba you are not allowed to make your own decisions.””
The first fight I can recall making me a major boxing fan was Foreman vs. Moorer, still one of my top 5 favorite sports moments of all time (No special order: Matteau, “Now I can die in peace”, Foreman, Starks dunk, Shawn Michaels’ comeback. Hopkins over Trinidad and Couture over Sylvia are close, also USA 0-0 Argentina), a legitimate world title fight and a damn good scrap. 15 years later the Klitschko vs. Gomez fight isn’t even the most interesting sporting event of the day in the city of Stuttgart to me, as Hertha vs. Stuttgart has serious title implications for the Bundesliga while Vitali isn’t even the most important heavyweight with his last name. It’s astonishing, really, and more than a little sad.
The fantastic thing is, they’re both sort of right. Ferguson does develop players, then uses them as water-carriers and spare parts for his 30 million pound strikers; Benitez doesn’t develop players, and thus you can date his run at Liverpool by his failed mid-price winger purchases the way you can date a tree by its rings. Both are very successful and utterly insufferable, playing the same press games that have been played since the league was founded. They’re certainly not fooling each other, and they’re not fooling you and me, so who…?