The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

The Good, The Bad, The Historically Illiterate

And with that fuckry out of the way, a more specific post. Three instances of writing about fighting, and let’s take them in reverse order and end on a high note, won’t we?

– The Ugly goes to one of the more bafflingly inappropriate fighter comparisons I’ve seen of late, Kevin Iole discussing Amir Khan and…Ray Robinson. Wat:

Khan looked good against Barrera, though the cut Barrera sustained in the first round undoubtedly played a role. I think Khan will fight for a title; whether he wins one is entirely another story, but I think he’s a skilled guy. He’s also charming and, as you point out, a ticket seller. Those are the kinds of guys you want to see fight for titles. Yes, he lost to Prescott, but it was one fight. I’m not suggesting Prescott isn’t a good fighter, because I told people before that fight that Prescott was a live underdog. But let’s not make too much of one loss, either. The greatest fighter of them all, Sugar Ray Robinson, lost 19 times and drew six times.

Obviously, he’s not saying Khan is Robinson, thank god. But Ray Robinson’s 19 losses took place over a 25 year career (Khan, by contrast, has exactly 21 fights); he never lost and left the division as champion at Welterweight, considered his best weight; his first loss came to a hall of fame middleweight to whom he gave up 16 pounds, and whom he later beat on 5 occasions; his next loss came a full 8 1/2 years later against another hall of famer, who he beat in a rematch; the subsequent loss came at light heavyweight where he gave up 15 1/2 pounds and retired due to heat exhaustion in the 14th while ahead on the cards; and every subsequent loss came in comebacks after a 3 year absence from the ring, when he was 34 or older. “Prime” Robinson arguably only lost three times: to Turpin, LaMotta, and Maxim. In two of those fights he was giving up the equivalent of one or two modern weight classes to his opponent, and in two he avenged the loss. Even after he came back in his mid 30’s, some of his losses were to the likes of Gene Fullmer and Carmen Basilio- also hall of famers- who he also beat. He retired with a record of 173-19-6, winning his last world title 18 years after his debut, at age 37. “19 losses” just might be a bit glib. As well as, y’know, a far cry from being starched in 30 seconds by Breidis Prescott. Mmmm, delicious context.

– The bad is this odd blag about women’s MMA and having Kim Couture on the next Strikeforce show. The major issue is that it implies, but says little; what it does say, it self-contradicts: if Kim Couture is the issue, why blame her last opponent for running and making a bad fight? If the opponent was the issue, get a better one and let Couture fight. The blog also misunderstands where women’s MMA is at right now, from a marketing standpoint: there’s essentially only two stars with any name value, Gina Carano and Cyborg Santos, and that’s not nearly enough to sustain a division, let alone multiple weight classes. More stars will have to be created, and while it may be tempting (and probably true) to say Couture is getting an extra push because of her name, it’s not a convincing argument for going another direction. Couture, who fought three rounds of her debut with a shattered jaw, healed and came back for more fights, is unquestionably a real fighter; she’s not just trailing her husband any more than Cyborg is, and who at this point thinks of Cyborg only as her husband’s wife? Cyborg’s family connections helped get her in the door, as Couture’s will, but once they’re stars they’ll be stars on their own account and able to help make new stars who don’t have the names they have. If there’s anything we know about promoting boxing and MMA, it’s that random people with no personalities or stories fighting each other is no buys. It would be great if that weren’t the case, but so long as it is, making stars is at a premium; and if the first generation of women’s MMA stars have to use their last names and looks to become stars, at least they’ll help make it possible for the next generation to be stars as The Woman Who Beat. Ultimately, putting Couture on that show will benefit all of women’s MMA.

– The good is this fantastic article in The Ring looking at the Klitschkos in context, historically and in reference to the tragic era which they currently dominate. It’s a wonderful article, well-written and thoughtful, and captures the ambivalence most boxing fans seem to feel about the big guys. Personally I have trouble thinking of the Klitschkos positively, not because they’re bad in and of themselves (though they can be excruciating to watch, time to time), but because the gulf between them and everyone else is one of the two great measures of just how bad the current heavyweight era is; the other is the gulf between the best in so many previous eras and the Klitschkos today. I’m still fairly young, and even I can recall a heavyweight era in which the brothers would be no better than top 10 contenders, interesting challenges for the best but no real threat to take the title. Everyone suggested in the article as likely to beat them- Holmes, Lewis, Holyfield, Bowe- I would agree with, and the comparison of them to Rocky Marciano is polite at best; the Rock beat a lot of mediocre opposition, but he also beat Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles and Archie Moore. To some degree the Klitschkos do suffer from a lack of similar defining opposition, but as the article points out it’s also hard for a lot of boxing people to see them beating that sort of opposition either. I believe I’ve said this before, but I honestly believe the only division in boxing in which MMA fighters could compete successfully with boxers under boxing rules would be heavyweight; no MMA guy would be a favorite, but if Brock Lesnar could get just one good right hand in on Wladimir….

That you end up wondering about those sorts of possibilities says it all about this era, I suppose.

March 20, 2009 - Posted by | Boxing, MMA

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