For direct questions and/or comments e-mail me at ak7447@hotmail.com

Friday, May 21, 2010

World War IV

If there’s a trilogy in boxing history that can be looked upon in epic proportion then the Vazquez-Marquez pairing ranks right at the top. You can vote in the current pole on what you think was one of the best boxing trilogies or you may leave a comment at the bottom of this post to any that you would like to add.

There was Ali-Frazier, Barrera-Morales, Griffith-Paret and Patterson-Johansson that role off the tip of my tong, but come Saturday night Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez will meet for a rare fourth time inside the ring. From what I can remember it was just recently that flyweight fighters Daisuke Naito and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam reached a draw in 2008 in their fourth meeting while Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta drew gloves a total of six times.

Who has the edge in this one? I don’t really think that’s the underlying story.

What is important is how these two special Mexican fighters have continued to remain in the sport after such brutal beat downs. As either fighter or fan of the sport, we all know the punishment that these athletes takes inside the ring. If there was anyone out there who could argue this point just sit them in front of the past three matches between these two warriors and opinions would change swiftly. That’s to say not only has all three WARS been some of the most exhilarating displays of exchanges all time but they also stand testimont to the brutality and danger that these fighters must face every time they step onto the canvas.

So as not to bore anyone with my own analysis of such a monumental meeting, my main goal is to just give respect, warm wishes and hope for a safe bout for both Vazquez and Marquez. While all three fights were close (even after Vazquez scored the TKO in the sixth round in fight two because the score cards were damn near close), it has taken both warriors many months of time to heal from such devastating exchanges dating back to 2007.

If you want to view two greats at the tail end of their careers largely impart to their intertwined fate to face each other throughout their histories then please tune into Showtime on Saturday night. There is no doubt in my mind that you will be witnessing not only another piece of boxing history but you will be watching two fighters who have helped weave their way into the memories of so many fans across the globe.

Godspeed to both of these iconic gentleman in the sport we so dearly love!

Note: For anyone interested Vegas books think this fight will play out like the rest have, installing Marquez as a $1.40 favorite (bet $140 to make $100), while Vazquez is catching +110 on the board (bet $100 to make $110). Personally I’ll take Marquez in this one because how fitting would that be if Marquez could even this series up at two apiece?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fresh Talent

He’s got a long way to go and a lot to prove but nobody can deny the fact that Daniel Jacobs is on his way to the top. At the tender age of 23, Jacobs is only 19 fights deep into his professional career. He’s toppled the competition thus far, recording 16 total KOs. But there’s a lot of young, ultra talented fighters like Jacobs in the sport and to gather enough momentum the Brooklyn native must claim victory over many more opponents in a crowded and competitive middleweight division.

But a giant step will be taken on Saturday night as part of an undercard attraction featuring a main event between Amir Khan and Paulie Malignaggi. Before the two aforementioned fighters take center stage, Daniel Jacobs will get to finally display his goods at historic Madison Square Garden.

A quick background on why this is the highlight of Jacobs’ career to this point; for one Jacobs has been paraded around the country from Chicago to California. He’s only once fought in MSG and before that in Atlantic City. Why such an importance to fight in the Big Apple? Maybe because as a Brooklyn born New Yorker, Jacobs has the opportunity to build up a tremendous fan base in his own home city and state. The question I ask is, why so long to market this pure bred boxer in New York City? The facts speak for themselves: in 19 career fights Jacobs has hit the West Coast 11 times. Not necessarily marketing genius for an East Coast kid.

And so “the Golden Child” (as they call him) will once again square off against a journeyman who’s main profession during the day doesn’t probably include work inside of a boxing gymnasium. That opponent is Juan Astorga whose record of 14-4-1 with nine KOs isn’t the best evidence of an accomplished boxer at 31 years old.

Daniel Jacobs has plenty to prove if he wants to become a well known name in the sport. He’s far from that distinguished plateau but surely on his way. Just remember the name. Jacobs comes packed with a super right-hand and loves the left hook to the body. He said in interviews before his favorite shot is to the body.

This kid is special and it’s not because he shares my last name or is from the same neighborhood as my pops. It’s his God given talent, his respectful demeanor and the excitement he brings to an already action packed middleweight division that I've taken a fancy to.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Feel Like Money

It’s a little overdue, but my day job has had me in the Cobra Clutch just like Sgt. Slaughter had The Iron Sheik back in the day. But I make time for boxing and this Saturday it will all be worth the effort when Floyd Mayweather Jr. (aka “Pretty Boy” aka “Money Mayweather) and “Sugar” Shane Mosley collide in a much anticipated 12 rounds of boxing.

Now if there’s a fighter that I’ve covered exclusively in my years as a sports writer there’s no doubt that Mayweather Jr. (40-0-0, 25 KOs) ranks right at the top. Maybe it’s his smooth and calculated demeanor or the complete and utter disregard he has for his opponents, but let’s get one thing straight, Floyd Mayweather Jr. can make the sport of boxing look so effortless.

Or maybe he’s just that easy to hate. Maybe that’s why you just want to watch for the next thing that comes out of his mouth, whether you like it or not. I’ll compare this phenomenon of intrigue of that running parallels to Howard Stern in yesteryears.

For the rest of us judging Mayweather exclusively by his ring talent, opinions can become exhausting to discern. Is he a master craftsmen at his art, firing combinations faster then his opponents can duck and dodge? Does his fights feel like they’re being dragged through the mud in slow motion? Is it true that when Mayweather has a chance to end it, he would rather the show go to the scorecards? And more importantly, can “Money May” really be considered one of the elite boxers in history, maybe right at the top?

All of these questions are valid to ask, but let’s stick to the story at hand. Who really has the best chance at victory this weekend?

Mayweather may be a whole lot easier to dissect in regards to being the better boxer in Saturday’s squabble. So let’s shift attention to Shane Mosley (46-5-0, 39 KOs). Best put, Mosley has the slimmest of chances and I believe that slim just got rolled over by the fat dude.

What I’m saying is the 38-year-old Mosley has stepped out of his league. Don’t get me wrong, Sugar Shane has had a great run in his professional career but there’s several events that diminish his odds of actually claiming victory.

First, it was back in 2004 that a younger Mosley lost back-to-back contests against an arguable, lower grade fighter in Ronald “Winky” Wright (no diss to Winky but common’, Mosley was better throughout his career). More recently trouble with Ricardo Mayorga (not necessarily the cream of the crop but a fight which went down to the wire in favor of Shane), and a win against a demoralized, Antonio Margarito (thanks to his stunt with padded gloves) kind of skews where Mosley is at or heading towards the tail end of his career.

And then there’s just the gifted talent that Mayweather holds over Mosley. Sharp and lightning quick jabs, defense with the old school shoulder roll and that brimming confidence are all elements not to be overlooked.

Vegas books have installed Mayweather as a $4.00 favorite (and some spots rising to $4.50) for a good reason. He is, hands down, the more dominant and skilled fighter.

While I don’t predict a knockout I will say that this bout ends in heavy favor on the scorecards for the undefeated Mayweather.

Whether you hate him, love him or just could care less about Floyd it's undeniable that he brings intrigue to a sport stagnated in popularity (U.S. fan base speaking). He sells out arenas and puts PPV programming into homes across the globe better then any other fighter out there today.

As Mayweather said in HBO's special, 24/7, "I'm in the check cashing business." Simply put, he looks like money and who doesn’t like money?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

European Union

A promise is a promise and so I’ve rolled out a preview of this weekend’s clash between Karl "The Cobra" Froch and Mikkel "Viking Warrior" Kessler. There should be plenty of information here to prepare you for the action coming out of Denmark.

To put it simply, Karl Froch (or spelled Carl) is an undefeated super middleweight champion. His 6’1” frame provides Froch with a lengthy, 74 ½” reach making him a rangy fighter. In this round-robin tournament dubbed the Super Six World Boxing Classic, Froch seems like a solid candidate to take the bout based on Kessler’s disappointing loss to Andre Ward at the end of last year in this tourney.

But not so fast. Many might think that Kessler would be reeling from his last lost. On the contrary here are some reasons why Kessler might actually hold the edge:

- Kessler is fighting in his home country of Denmark where he’s a perfect 39-0.
- What I take away from Kessler is that he’s the more technically sound fighter. He’s polished in comparison to Froch’s sometimes erratic style of boxing.
- I agree that Froch is the harder puncher, but Kessler didn’t win 16 of his first 22 fights by KO, totaling 32 KOs over his career because he looks pretty.
- Carl Froch (excuse my bouncing around spelling Karl-Carl, habit) has sounded extremely concerned about this fight in the past few weeks in countless interviews. Call it a fear of flying and the recent volcano in Iceland but there’s a sense of insecurity (I’ll touch on this more in a few).
- Froch has also said that he’s entering this fight with an injury. Check out the BBC interview here:

I’m not saying that Froch is a guaranteed loser in this match. Quite the contrary he is the fighter that has more momentum on his side. His last win against Andre Dirrell to open up the tournament was impressive enough to earn him praise, and seven KOs in his last 10 fights isn’t something to scoff at. But there’s just that inner feeling that smells bounce back for Kessler.

Oh, and to rehash about the fear of traveling by air, Froch said, “The flight was OK but the landing was the roughest ever and me and [trainer] Rob [McCracken] have been arguing over who was the most worried (provided by Dan Rafael over at ESPN).” The volcano that erupted in Iceland last week effected large portions of airspace throughout Europe. This cut directly into Froch’s plan of showing up in Denmark last Saturday. Call me crazy but the air travel problem, insecurity in his interviews and the injury situation just don’t seem to favor Carl’s quest for another ‘W’.

Then there’s Froch’s unconventional fighting style. When he unleashes a powerful right-hand hook, Carl likes to drop the opposite hand. This is what we call an indicator, not good in boxing. This has ended up causing Froch to take more pot shots then what he should otherwise be avoiding. There’s also his slow hand speed, suspect defense and at times, uncoordinated punching style. It sounds like a lot of negatives for an undefeated fighter but they are obvious blemishes.

But Froch does have an iron chin, dangerous power and in his last few fights, more of a desire to pull out victories. Yet, Las Vegas is favoring the hometown fighting Kessler at $1.50 (bet $150 to make $100). Froch is being listed as a $1.20 underdog. The round prop is currently at 11 1/2 rounds with the 'over' at -130 (bet $130 to make $100) and the 'under' at even odds.

You can tell that I’m leaning toward Kessler to pull out the home victory. However, that’s not without some concern. For me, there’s just too much evidence working against Froch. Only towards the end of Saturday will we know what the outcome will be. Until then let the opinions flow around the water cooler.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Six Pack

There are several things to cover in boxing as the week hits mid-mark. But the primary focus must shift to our neighbors across the pond. In what can be described by boxing fans as a must see event, England’s own, Karl Froch (26-0-0, 20 KOs) will look to keep his unscathed record intact when he travels to Denmark to face hometown hero, Mikkel Kessler (42-2-0, 32 KOs).

Many are predicting a real battle to ensue in the otherwise quiet town of Herning, Denmark. And to add more fuel to what is already expected to become a raging fire, both fighters understand what a win will mean for the tournament they’ve both signed up for.

For those readers who don’t know what I’m talking about the cable conglomerate, Showtime and its parent company, CBS, took a big gamble and began the boxing tournament known as the Super Six World Boxing Classic. Here’s a link to what good ‘ol Wikipedia defines the Super Six as.

To briefly brake down exactly how this tournament works, six fighters square off three times in what can be best described as a preliminary round or in this case groups. Receiving three points for a knockout or technical knockout, two points for a win by points (decision), one point in case of a draw and finally zero points for a loss, the top four boxers with the highest points will then move onto the semi finals where then the last two remaining fighters finish off the “Classic” to determine a winner.

An audacious format of boxing to say the least, and so far Showtime has taken some chin shots thanks to several injuries (including Jermain Taylor leaving the tournament because of a brutal knockdown in the preliminary round by undefeated boxer, Arthur Abraham).

But that’s not to detract from the intrigue that this special format of boxing brings to the table. It’s not every day that the sport gets a high level of media attention and the hope is that by bringing some originality to the market more fans will eventually take to the idea. Has this happened yet? Personally I sure don’t think so, but I’m not faulting Showtime. It’s a tough subject to tackle and one that could take plenty of time and effort arguing over, but for the record, at least our European friends across the Atlantic are taking notice.

This tournament has been underway since October of 2009 and the top four fighters based on points include, Arthur Abraham, Andre Dirrell, Carl Froch and Andre Ward. As noted before, Jermain Taylor has been replaced by fellow American fighter, Allan Green. Green will face off for the first time in the tourney against Ward on June 19th followed by a mandatory match against Kessler at a date to be determined.

At the end of the day you might ask, what is the final prize or reward? Well not counting the purses and revenue brought in by fighting on such a guaranteed schedule, how’s about the WBC, WBA and ultimately the unified championship of the super middleweight division. How’s that sound for going all in?

I expect those diehard boxing fans to laugh at this breakdown, but remember what the tournament is all about. Not only is it to entertain those eagerly awaiting the action and story line that it brings with it but to also entice people that might not otherwise show much attention to the sport. Again, I’m sure we won’t see a dramatic shift in boxing followers statistically speaking, but it should at least keep us going in the news as the tourney continues to roll through 2011.

And that’s the jist of what the Super Six World Boxing Classic is about. For the American audience, tune in to Showtime at 9:00 p.m. ET (same-day tape delay) for the Froch-Kessler throw down while Primetime Channel 480 will supply the action for UK households and pubs.

Don’t forget to comeback to www.kidsfrontrowseats.blogspot.com later in the week for the highly anticipated preview of this weekend’s 12 rounds of boxing between Froch and Kessler.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hands Down

Sitting at the bar minutes before Kelly Pavlik would enter the ring in what could only be described as a one sided ass beating, the feeling of upset was no where apparent. Then came Sergio Martinez.

Now, as I’ve expressed earlier on this blog, I am a Kelly Pavlik fan. But that doesn’t provide any sort of comfort knowing that the once WBC and WBO middleweight champion and lineal champion has hit, what can only be described as rock bottom in his profession.

This is not to take any credit away from Martinez. The Argentinean who’s been able to fly under the radar of what I would call “mainstream” boxing fans’ list of top fighters completely picked apart a taller, more powerful puncher (even looking like Roy Jones of earlier days, hands down by the waist side with no defense in sight) on the Boardwalk in AC. But as the old adage goes, speed kills in this sport.

What irks me as a Pavlik fan is the continued abuse Pavlik takes as a direct result of the inability to hit a moving target. Streaming blood from multiple lacerations isn’t a good thing. I’m not the first to notice this type of trend from the Ohio native, it’s been well documented before and Bernard Hopkins was really the first opponent of Pavlik to bring the weakness to light.

Instead of recapping what unfolded on Saturday night the real topic of interest is where does Pavlik go from here, and does Sergio Martinez finally gain the recognition that seems to have alluded him on the big stage?

The easier question to answer is Martinez’s next opponent.

With Paul Williams showing face at Saturday night’s match evidence shows us that this could very well be part of Sergio’s future agenda. But Williams will square off against always dangerous, Kermit Cintron on May 8. So I’m figuring the winner of that May match will end up meeting Martinez somewhere down the road. It seems logical enough. But in boxing logic usually takes a back seat so we’ll have to wait for the results on May 8th to start talking about Martinez’s next opponent.

And remember that Paul Williams took the close win in an exhilarating contest against Martinez back in December of '09. I'm just saying... it seems like a rematch would be in order. Then again, it was a draw that resulted in Martinez's February 2009 WBC light middleweight title fight against Cintron. In retrospect it's actually quite amusing that both Williams and Cintron are likely to dance with Martinez once again.

And now we come full circle, back to Pavlik. At 28, this guy still has a fighting chance at getting back into gear. He’s got plenty of talent left in the tank. But if Kelly wants to claim championships and belts again he’s going to have to work on glaring weaknesses. Flat footed fighting, waiting for that one knockout punch just isn’t going to cut the mustard. Remember, Pavlik lost to Martinez in what can best be described as Kelly’s target weight (160 pounds). This was his territory, his weight class and ultimately his fight to lose.

Yes, Pavlik will be back again. It’s just going to take time, possibly another set of tune-up fights (or in this case damage control scheduling) and a lot of hard work to get back on top.

On Saturday night Kelly Pavlik took another few steps backwards while the flashy, 35-year-old Martinez stepped up to the plate in a lopsided win. While Sergio is on his way to bigger paydays, Pavlik must look in the mirror for answers.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Damage Control

And let the games begin.

So I posted a little introduction piece on Kelly Pavlik and his trials and tribulations, briefly. But before I begin to throw out some analysis let me first say that I really don’t have much of a format worked out for how I’ll brake down fights on a “blogging” basis so there’s really no template in place. The reason I mention it is because in prior coverage of fights I worked out of a mold using tables listing weight, height, (all the vitals), records, past opponents and on and on and on…. But this is a tad different so excuse me if it feels like I’m kind of winging it on my first go-around. Ok, enough of that. Let’s get right down to business.

A lot of attention has been given to Kelly Pavlik (36-1-0, 32 KOs) in the past few months. From a nasty staph infection on his right hand (which washed a highly anticipated fight against Paul Williams away) to repairing his image after dropping a lopsided bout against veteran Bernard Hopkins back in 2008, it hasn’t been easy being Kelly. But this guy is a gifted fighter, one that has the innate ability to climb right back into the ring.

But there’s another side to this coin. His name is Sergio Gabriel Martinez (44-2-2, 24 KOs), and don’t expect the younger Pavlik (Pavlik is 28 and Martinez is 35) to just walk right through his opponent en route to the WBO middleweight title.

Martinez might just be the fastest light middleweight (or junior middleweight – however you want to refer to it as) in boxing today. He fights out of the southpaw stance, which I love, and if anyone wants to question his heart then just rewind back to the wildness that ensued on the Boardwalk of Atlantic City last year against the crafty left-hander, Paul Williams. Even though Martinez lost one heck of a close majority decision it reminded us expect the unexpected, especially inside the ring involving two warriors.

The obvious is that Pavlik is around 3 ½-inches taller then Martinez, packs a whole lot of power for a guy that looks pretty lanky from afar and can not only handout punishment but also takes it pretty well. Kelly is fighting in his comfort zone, at just around 160 pounds, which should also weigh in his favor. If there’s one fact worth mentioning it’s that Martinez is no stranger to the middleweight division as that razor thin loss against Williams proved.

For Martinez to continue climbing the ranks as one of boxing’s elite in the 21st century he’s going to make it a must to stick and move. Speed will be his friend and against Pavlik there’s no other way to victory lane. If there’s one thing we can turn to as evidence supporting Martinez and the skill of speed it’s that Pavlik was dismantled by Bernard Hopkins. How? By moving. Pavlik was so frustrated by the moving target that Hopkins presented that evening he literally exposed himself to short left hooks which helped the “Executioner” open up on power combinations. In short, speed killed Kelly and that’s what Martinez will look to do.

And now I’ll leave it up to the fans to debate and the fight on Saturday to prove. If you’re heading to your local betting parlor know that Pavlik is currently on the board as $1.80 ‘chalk’ (bet $180 to make $100) at most books while Martinez is sitting in the dog house at +150 (bet $100 to make $150). If you want to get a bit more fancy in your wagering tactics then a round prop (picking whether the fight ends before or surpasses the round supplied by Vegas books) of 11 ½ has been published. Basically everyone and their mother is looking for this fight to go the distance. The payout is -135 (bet $135 to make $100) if you think the fight will end before the middle of the 11th round (before one minute and thirty second in that 11th round) and the ‘over’ is looking to payout -105 (or bet $105 to make $100).

Final Prediction: Kelly Pavlik’s height advantage, snapping jabs and eventually a salvo of power shots to be released will put Sergio Martinez’s ass on the mat (maybe more then once). The height advantage is just too significant for the Argentinean fighter to make up for. Martinez should see a bit more opportunity come his way if he makes this a fight (but at 35 time is surely not on his side), but this will be Pavlik’s night. I feel that Pavlik has a lot to prove on the road to recovering his image so I’m also looking for a knockout here before 11 ½-rounds. What do you guys and girls think? Let me know!