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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!

Back to Work

Although his last fight was back in December of ‘09 it almost feels like Kelly Pavlik hasn’t stepped into the ring in years. Maybe it’s because his last big time opponent was Bernard Hopkins at the end of 2008. And if you just woke up from a long induced comma for almost two years then you should know that the “Executioner” completely dismantled an otherwise untouched and unmolested Pavlik before this fight was nationally broadcasted. You have to understand that Pavlik had racked up 10 KOs in 11 prior fights and was a perfect 34-0-0 before entering the ring in Atlantic City with Hopkins. He was on top of the world in his profession. His highlights as the up-and-coming star in the ring included a convincing TKO win over hard hitting Edison Miranda which looked to be a slugfest from the beginning followed by back-to-back victories over Jermain Taylor (ok, so Jermain was already beginning to tumble but that’s not the point).

But just as Pavlik’s stardom began to take flight it abruptly crashed and burned. It wasn’t the loss to Hopkins, as all great fighters must experience the ‘L’ on their records eventually, but a hand injury which ultimately cancelled a much anticipated meeting against the most avoided fighter in boxing today, Paul Williams. That unfortunate injury coupled with negative press attention about his personal life and his fellow ruff neck Youngstown, Ohio fan base jumping off the bandwagon seemed to have derailed Pavlik’s image as one of boxing’s shinning stars.

Personally, I have always rooted for the blue collar fighter that Pavlik is and the city of Youngstown he represent. It just makes me feel American all over. He’s a brawler and he can take a punch with the best of them. Has he been exposed? Absolutely! But that doesn’t mean we've seen the last, or even the best, from "The Ghost".

Stay tuned for a fight preview including insight into this Saturday’s match against No. 4 middleweight ranked Sergio Martinez. Until then…


So I figured since I've been out of the sports writing business for a few months now (at least writing as a daily diet) why not hop on the train, albeit a little late in the game, and begin posting some of my own blogs. Now the plan is to stick with my bread and butter which happens to be the coverage, prediction, betting aspects and any other word I can think of on the sport of boxing. Sure, there's a million and one sites out there dedicated to the sport, but my belief is the more the merrier (especially at a time when boxing has fallen by the waist side in terms of U.S. popularity). As many others have said before, "do what makes you happy" and there's not a doubt in my mind that boxing fits into that catagory. So without further ado, let's see what controversy I can stir up, what facts and figures I can bring to the table and finally, what formula I can figure out in text that will bring questions and comments to the table.

I hope you will enjoy the banter.