Manny Shaquiao?

The Rumble ↵is SportingNews.com's new fight blog covering the worlds of boxing and ↵MMA. Head over there and welcome Dave and his crew to the site.
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↵For those of you who missed last night's episode of Shaq Vs., I've embedded it below. I hate to tell you this, but it's some must-see TV for fight fans, merely for bringing the sweet science back onto ABC in prime time, as Shaq takes on Oscar De La Hoya in an exhibition boxing match.
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↵If, however, you're disinclined to watch the whole thing, or even just the fight (which starts at around 24 minutes of the video), feel free just to scan my top 10 below as to the highlights and lowlights of this made-for-TV extravaganza:
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↵1. Manny Shaquiao! Shaq billed himself as "Manny Shaquiao" and in keeping with his nickname, was trained by Freddie Roach. Obviously, in a show like this on a major network, when boxing is involved you expect that De La Hoya is going to be front and center. But the fighting pride of the Philippines got some heavy representation in this show, quite a statement on how quickly Pac Man's Q rating has skyrocketed into the ether. Can you imagine Manny's name being invoked on a prime time fluff show even a year ago at this time?
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↵2. 159 pounds. Oscar was listed as weighing 159 for the fight. I almost believed that. He was pudgy, and a little soft, but I've seen him looking bigger and more bloated. Maybe he dropped a few pounds for this thing. Certainly a far cry from his last trip to the ring, where he looked like about half an Oscar and change.
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↵3. Oliver McCall?!??! You think it's crazy hearing Manny Pacquiao's name in prime time, how about Oliver McCall showing up for a cameo? Big O's on the show and you know it ain't Family Ties. Freddie brings McCall in to spar with Shaq, and honestly, their session looked more heated and real to me than the Oscar/Shaq fight. McCall was billed as the current IBA heavyweight champion of the world. I looked it up and found that he does indeed hold the IBA's Continental heavyweight belt, which he won by stopping the great John Hopoate back in May of this year. Fancy that. Whatever, though - the segment was good TV and McCall made it through the whole thing without having a nervous breakdown.
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↵4. Bernard still loves himself. I hesitate to say this, but… well, Bernard Hopkins is also good TV. He serves as Oscar's trainer in the show and grabs himself as much face time as he can. At the end of the fight, he runs in the ring and jumps on Shaq WWE-style, just to make sure he's in the final cut. He also yells a lot of useless advice to Oscar during rounds, along the lines, "Stay away from him!" and "Get off the ropes!"
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↵5. Thunderlips. Speaking of the WWE, the fight itself immediately calls to mind Thunderlips and Rocky going at it in Rocky III, a movie that Shaq invokes early in the show to describe how he feels about this fight. He compares it to the final scene of Rocky III, when Rocky and Apollo square off in a friendly gym match (heavily oiled and rippled with roid-fueled muscles and on the whole looking like they''re about to make sweet love to each other).
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↵6. Shaq has some skills. Not a lot, but some. I get the feeling he's had the gloves on before. He was stringing together some pretty respectable combinations when he was working the pads with Freddie, and if you've ever done any pad-work yourself, you know that's nowhere near as easy as it looks.
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↵7. Oscar has a LOT of skills. There's nothing like a show like this to illustrate how completely sick pro boxers really are. Oscar probably hadn't been in the gym since pre-Pac, and yo, when he works the pads? We all have our caveats with The Golden Boy, but man he can move them hands.
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↵8. The fight itself… is not that great. It's okay. I give Shaq some credit for taking some of the head shots that he did, because even wearing headgear, taking real punches to the head will scramble your eggs up pretty good, especially when you're not used to them. I'm pretty sure Diesel had himself a nice, foggy headache the morning after this thing. Otherwise, it's pretty dull, and Oscar clearly goes easy on him. My gut sense is that if they'd really been fighting, Oscar would have knocked Shaq out in about a minute. Even given the size differential, it looked like he could hit him at will, and you know what Ali said about possibly fighting Wilt Chamberlain - "TIMBER!!!!" 
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↵9. Freddie is a trainer to the end. At the start of the fight, Freddie seems like he's going through the motions, but in the corner between the last couple rounds, he's down in Shaq's face, calling him "son," analyzing what Oscar's doing and giving Shaq advice with this urgency in his voice that… well, he might as well have been talking to Manny in a tight spot. I just think when the bell rings, that guy goes into his battle mode, ABC farce or not.
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↵10. The announcers blow. This show really suffers from bad talent, which is… whatever. I don't care about this show at all. But for the fight, couldn't they at least have brought in Lampley (get him back in the Wide World of Sports blazer maybe?) and Manny Steward? The budget they got for this series seems like it's off the hizz. And Lamps and Steward would have been hilariously entertaining calling this fight.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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