The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Vamanos Puertoricenos!

I’m not even a little Puerto Rican myself (German-Scotch-English-French-Welsh-Polish, for the record), but when it’s 8:45 on Puerto Rican parade day in NYC, 1:45 to fight time for the biggest Puerto Rican boxing star of the age, I get excited. No disrespect to the Pride of Ghana and a Bronx resident, Joshua Clottey, but there’s fireworks going off every minute around my house, and NYC is alive with Island Pride. Maybe I’m more susceptible to it since I’m a big fan of Caribbean music, but whatever the reason- I’m hyped for the fight tonight. There’s a great feel of the movement of people, feet rushing and voices breaking, never-heard sounds arcing over the city, making the night their own. Whatever happens in a few hours, nights like this are one of the reasons I love my city. I may yet have to move out of town for school in a year; but New York is in my heart, always.

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June 13, 2009 Posted by | Boxing | Leave a comment

Wow

It’s a post-LSAT Saturday so I’m far too drunk to be coherent until after Cotto-Clottey, but that was a hell of a UFC show. I could go 10 years before I’m 6 for 6 on picking winners for one of these things again, especially so when I thought on watching it that I could have been a lot worse off- if you had Wanderlei winning the main event I wouldn’t argue, I honestly thought Caol Uno edged Spencer Fisher, Marcus Davis over Dan Hardy would have been defensible and the Cro Cop match might not end the same way without his eye poke on Al-Turk. What can you do? That’s MMA. I’m 9-2 since UFC 98 and called Brett Rogers over Andrei Arlovski, which just about makes up for picking Rashad…..

More later when I sober up and the boxing is done.

June 13, 2009 Posted by | MMA | Leave a comment

Farewell to a Legend

Obviously I realize pro wrestling is not a sport, and thus 99% of the time it makes no sense to acknowledge it on a sports blog. Today is the exception. Today Mitsuharu Misawa, arguably the best of his generation and one of the very greatest of all time, was killed in the ring in Hiroshima, Japan at the age of 46, performing the craft to which he’d devoted his life. For anyone who dismisses pro wrestling out of hand, nothing will suffice to establish the value of a performer in that genre; for the rest, here is a link to a youtube of part 1 of one of his greatest matches, often considered by many to be the greatest match of all time. The whole thing is roughly 35 minutes long, and worth every second of your time to see. Pro wrestling may not be a sport, but Misawa was an athlete of the very highest caliber.

RIP Misawa. We’ll miss you.

June 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Oh, And

Lest I forget, Cotto-Clottey: Both guys are heavy-handed, both punch well to the head and body, both will be in excellent shape. Clottey is more durable and has the better chin; but Cotto is by far the better boxer. I suspect if they held this one in a phonebooth Clottey would KO Cotto, but they won’t, and that’s where his problems begin. He’s a strong puncher but not a volume puncher and he likes to set up in front of his opponent and pick his shots, counterpunching and looking to do the most damage he can with each blow. My hunch is that Cotto will indulge him in that at times in the early going, but once he gets up on his toes, gives angles and works behind a jab Clottey won’t be able to touch him much. He’s not great at cutting the ring off, and if he has to pick up his feet, trudge over and try to hit a moving target he can look lumbering and very ordinary. Official prediction here is Cotto by UD likely in the 117-111 range.

Teddy Atlas had largely the same pick however, so expect Cotto to get KO’d during his ring walk.

June 13, 2009 Posted by | Boxing | Leave a comment

Morality & Sports

I do make a habit here of criticizing others for reading, in my view inappropriately, moral dimensions into non-moral areas of the sports world; and that being the case, it behooves me to make some effort to describe what I do consider to be moral issues in that world. So an example:

Tonight is apparently the 20th anniversary of Thomas Hearns vs. Ray Leonard II, the rematch of their 1981 bout won by Sugar Ray via KO. The rivalry between the two men was strong, with similar geographic roots, similar age, similar track records of success across weight divisions and against top-shelf competition. What separated them was Leonard’s win in the first fight, and Hearns’ belief that he was better than he had showed himself to be that night. By all accounts the lack of a rematch ate at Hearns, and if it didn’t consume him, it did occupy a part of his mind for 8 long years between the two bouts. When the rematch came, Hearns appeared to dominate the fight, scoring two knockdowns and in the minds of most winning a clear decision. When the scores came they declared the bout a draw, a decision booed in the ring.

This is the point, I would say, when there was a moral issue at stake. If Ray Leonard were a lesser man than he is, he might have used the decision against Tommy Hearns, needling him over it, making sure people knew Tommy never officially beat him. He might have done it to secure his historical legacy, or might have done it simply for the sake of rivalry; might have truly made Hearns the Frazier to his Ali. But he didn’t. When asked in interviews, he said Hearns won. When discussing the fight for documentaries, he said Hearns won. When asked directly face-to-face by Tommy Hearns, he simply said “you beat me, Tommy.” THAT is sportsmanship of the highest caliber: a man so self-possessed that he’s capable of admitting when he’s fairly beaten, even face to face, even when he doesn’t have to, even when the people paid to judge the fight disagree, even to arguably his greatest rival. We love to look for villains in the sports world even where there aren’t any, and when we take the time to find heroes, too often it’s merely for the sake of their ability or for the sake of what they do away from the field- which matters, but if we only look to off-field actions we lose the capacity to see when a person shows their moral quality through their behavior on the field. In deciding whether and how to admit to his loss or not, in my view Ray Leonard faced a moral decision inextricably bound up with the conduct of his sport itself, a decision which he made correctly and impressively. Those of us who opine on sports, in my view would do better to celebrate choices like this one by Leonard than to try and make cartoon villains out of men we’ll never meet.

June 13, 2009 Posted by | Boxing, Other Soccer | Leave a comment