Over the last few years, particularly in the United States, the heavyweight division has been the trembling neurotic of prizefighting. Who knows how best to treat it: Primal scream therapy or psychotropic drugs? Nothing seems to work. Even so, HBO takes another chance with the dreadnoughts when Mike "The Rebel" Perez and Bryant "By-By" Jennings face off as the chief support to Golovkin-Geale tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden. Although Perez has been on HBO twice, Jennings, an American, likely has the network brass crossing their fingers on his behalf. CLICK LINK FOR MORE
Erislandy Lara has been agitating to fight Saul "Canelo" Alvarez for the better part of two years. He’ll finally get his wish on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, but it may be too late for him to capitalize on it. Click link for more!
After two fallow years under the promotional guidance of 50 Cent, a slumping Gamboa tried to recoup the momentum he had lost since 2012 with a risky gambit: he took on a young, talented boxer-puncher on the road after a significant layoff. In addition, Crawford, who has fought as a junior welterweight in the past, had a significant size advantage over Gamboa. When the two men met at ring center before the opening bell, the disparity between them was striking. Gamboa looked like a pygmy beside Crawford, who entered the bout, unofficially, at 152 pounds. Before the switch-hitting Crawford could assert his physical advantages, however, Gamboa opened fast and swept the first four rounds by jumping in—with little regard for defense—behind looping rights and left hooks. Eventually, as the rounds went by, Crawford would time many of his ragtag rushes perfectly. Little by little, Gamboa began to slow down and Crawford, 26, revved his offense into high gear, raking Gamboa with jabs, hooks, and straight lefts. When Crawford committed himself to fighting in a southpaw stance—and digging to the body—Gamboa was looking at a two-lane blacktop to nowhere. CLICK LINK FOR MORE
A little over two hundred years ago, Nebraska was considered part of "The Great American Desert," which, as far as boxing goes, at least, is a fitting description. Except for a handful of notable fighters—Max Baer and Ace Hudkins, for example—Nebraska has never been known for prizefighting, and over the last few decades it has become a haven for circuit-grinders and professional floppers. This is only the fifth professional boxing card in Omaha since Y2K, and Crawford, 26, is hoping that beating Gamboa will lead to future overflow crowds at the CenturyLink. Up to 10,000 spectators are expected to witness an intriguing matchup involving two undefeated pros who seem to be heading in opposite directions. CLICK LINK FOR MORE
Gary Russell, Jr., faces Vasyl Lomachenko in the opener of a Showtime triple-header from the StubHub Center in Carson, California, on Saturday night—and fittingly so. Not because Russell’s uninspired career is as gawk-worthy as a garage sale, or because Lomachenko has as many wins as fingers needed to flip someone off—although both are acceptable reasons for low billing. No, this matchup of unknown variables is an appropriate opener because it is a fight between two men who have jumped the line to Clipart title shots. Where better to slot it then, than first?
The Cruelest Sport staff and a few special guest panelists offer their thoughts and picks on the Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto fight.
Since winning his first title at junior lightweight in 1998, Mayweather has proven himself to be one of the best fighters of his era. But how would he have fared against some of the welterweight legends of the past?
For years, Mayweather events have been little more than grand exhibitions of sly matchmaking and wearisome promotion. Because "The Moment" involves Maidana, however, this card will appeal to anyone who appreciates an injection of meritocracy into a world that regards connections as tantamount to worth. Since losing a lopsided decision in his February 2012 welterweight debut, where the clutch-and-grab tactics of Devon Alexander not only stymied Maidana but also, incredibly, managed to make him boring, Maidana has reeled off four consecutive wins. In those wins, among them stoppages over fellow roughnecks Jesus Soto-Karass and Josesito Lopez, Maidana exhibited his power and vulnerability, while revealing technical improvements that, in all fairness, are usually ingrained by the amateurs. Better late than never, of course, whether it is a fighter learning to jab or earning a payday that changes his tax bracket. READ MORE FROM THE CRUELEST SPORT BY CLICKING LINK ABOVE
Yoked with consecutive defeats, Ortiz, 29-4-2 (22), exhibited little of the behavior we expect of serious men in a serious profession. He did not hole up like Goodhue Coldfield and he did not repeat the usual boxing platitudes. Instead, Ortiz spent his hiatus—one necessitated by the severity of his fractured jaw—like a resurrected child star. He cut rugs on Dancing with the Stars, launched a line of skincare products enticingly titled "VO by Facelube," shot a commercial that belongs in a time capsule, released VO cologne, and filmed scenes for the upcoming action flick, The Expendables 3. In short, Ortiz, the loser, the quitter, the laughing stock, managed to parlay his cultural currency into a level of crossover success most boxers rarely achieve. CLICK LINK FOR MORE FROM THE CRUELEST SPORT.
After toying with Donaire—and drawing the ire of many who believe an action sport should have a little action in it—Rigondeaux seemed to find himself right back where he was in 2010 when he stunk out the joint so badly against Ricardo Cordoba that his next fight was broadcast in the U.S. from Ireland via the internet. Neither Bob Arum nor HBO seemed much interested in Rigondeaux after he pulled the plug on "The Filipino Flash," and like Orson Welles after the arty one-two combo of Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, Rigondeaux was persona non grata in the boxing equivalent of Hollywood—Premium Cable Land. It was exile redux for Rigondeaux.
Among the most feared KO punchers of the 1960s, Fernández, billed as The Ox because of his physical strength and KO power, could turn cinder blocks into dust with his left hook, and a kill-or-be-killed attack that saw 53 out of his 67 professional fights end via stoppage ensured that he was a coast-to-coast regular during the waning days of the television Golden Age. A converted southpaw, Fernández hit so hard that he broke bones when he fought. Indeed, his freakish power left Gene Fullmer with, of all things, a shattered elbow. CLICK LINK FOR MORE FROM THE CRUELEST SPORT
There is still a constituency that crushes on Hopkins; those who slurp up the bombastic rhetoric, and act like misty-eyed Holy Rollers at the mention of the renegade who fought the system until he could profit from it. For such acolytes, Saturday night must have been a veritable Bacchanal. Hopkins dusted off the Tickle Trunk for the hapless Murat, supposedly because he fancies himself an entertainer. It might be more genuine to say the Murat was dusted off for that purpose.
With a chip on his shoulder the size of a tombstone, Hopkins is a perpetual sourpuss whose crude threats of bodily harm are rarely dramatized in the ring. But nothing is going to keep Hopkins from his trademark Vile Style. According to some armchair Freudians, poor sportsmanship, dirty tactics, and boorishness are part of his greatness. Yes, B-Hop, who refers to himself as a "living legend," just like Larry Zybyzko used to, has succeeded over the years because, well, because he is one hell of a jerk. Admiring Hopkins is sort of like admiring Leni Riefenstahl: oh sure, Leni was morally repugnant, but what an eye for mise-en-scene! CLICK ON LINK ABOVE FOR MORE
Everyone has a breaking point. When elite competitors reach theirs, it becomes a spectacle. Timothy Bradley reached his some time after a disputed victory over Manny Pacquiao last year, and the resulting carnage was on full display March 16th against Ruslan Provodnikov. His meltdown simultaneously animated diminished buzz and threw the remainder of his career into question. Bradley will try to piece together the scattered puzzle on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, against Juan Manuel Marquez. CLICK LINK ABOVE TO READ MORE
Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Saul Alvarez look to set a new profit paradigm in boxing when they meet on September 14th at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, at a catchweight of 152 pounds. This is a fight that may gross up to $200 million, an astonishing figure for any event, much less one that will involve two men engaging in fisticuffs, a barbaric practice whose doom has been predicted for decades. In addition, Mayweather-Alvarez is one of the rare instances of logic taking precedence in boxing, a pursuit so irrational it often resembles a Marx Brothers production. Not even a bout between Manny Pacqiuao and Mayweather—possibly the biggest grossing event in boxing history—could be made in the madhouse atmosphere of prizefighting. Like a sinister matryoshka doll, boxing reveals a new grotesquerie every time common sense threatens to make even a cameo appearance. Click on link for more from The Cruelest Sport.
Morrison came from a broken home. He was a secondhand son, passed from here to there, from nowhere to nowhere bound, wherever he would stick. Although he was born in Arkansas, Morrison, distantly related to John Wayne, spent most of his teenage years in Jay, Oklahoma, with a population of roughly 2,500. His father was abusive. His mother once beat a murder charge. Tim, his brother, spent 15 years in prison for rape. And Tommy? His mother first made him use his fists when he was five years old against a bully at a drive-in movie theater. It was a showing of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. CLICK ON LINK ABOVE FOR MORE FROM THE CRUELEST SPORT.
There was perhaps no harder period to make it big in boxing than in the early 1930s. There was no shortage of men who could fight, partly because of the Great Depression, and partly because of the boxing boom of the 1920s, when youngsters, looking to become the next Jack Dempsey, took up fighting in record numbers. The weak were culled from the ranks, and only the hardest of men prospered—and to succeed in those days meant going from town to town, traveling by rail, fighting all-too frequently, and often burning out while chasing the dream. And so it is that the following line is a significant accomplishment: 1933 Feb. 20 Battling Shaw (M) w.pts.10 Johnny Jadick, New Orleans, U.S.A. Clink link above for more from The Cruelest Sport.
There is very little afterlife for a fighter who has failed to succeed. Not only do most boxers—who remain independent contractors without pensions, unions, or comprehensive health insurance—wind up dispossessed, but, unlike other sports, where minor league organizations, local television markets, and large coaching staffs offer opportunities for ex-players, boxing offers only a few iffy prospects to its bantered alumni in the same grimy environments where fighters first took their steps to glory or failure. CLICK LINK ABOVE FOR MORE FROM THE CRUELEST SPORT
Few fights have lived up to the hype as spectacularly as the first meeting between Tony Zale and Rocky Graziano. A Yankee Stadium crowd of 39,827, paying a gate of $342,497 – a then record for the middleweight class – witnessed Zale withstand a tumultuous assault from Graziano to hold onto his crown in a thrilling give-and-take affair. CLICK LINK ABOVE FOR MORE FROM THE CRUELEST SPORT.
After playing first the pampered prospect, then HBO World Champion, Berto, 29, has developed a new identity over the last few years. Since consecutive opponents went on to fight Floyd Mayweather, Jr., after smacking him around, Berto seemed intent on reviving the old policeman role in boxing. Years ago, a policeman was, usually, a stablemate who softened up potential threats to the marquee name in the stable, as Artie Towne allegedly did for Sugar Ray Robinson and Cleveland Williams once confessed to doing for Sonny Liston. Policemen are a long-forgotten remnant of boxing—like writers who know what they are talking about or fighters who actually earn top slots. But Berto, alas, failed miserably as a policeman, notwithstanding the fact that he beat an actual full-time cop for the first of two UNICEF welterweight titles. READ MORE FROM THE CRUELEST SPORT BY CLICKING LINK ABOVE.
The story of Duk Koo Kim, in particular, is striking in its melancholy. His was a short life lived almost perpetually in extremis. Raised under dire circumstances, Kim was determined to use his limited fighting skills as a means to self-actualization. Excerpts from his diary, reproduced in the book, reveal the mindset of one of the many fighters whose involvement in a blood sport seems less utilitarian than pathological. In the end, the man who commissioned a carpenter to build a miniature coffin for Mancini (and who wrote "Kill or be Killed" on his lampshade before he made the ringwalk to his own death) was the very heart of the boxing heart of darkness. READ MORE FROM THE CRUELEST SPORT BY CLICKING LINK ABOVE.
To begin with, he does not resemble a prizefighter. There is the receding hairline, unusual for such a young man, but you can almost imagine a puckish little cowlick plastered on his forehead whenever he is away from the gym. Then there is a hint of mischief in his look; his pursed lips almost seem to be restraining a smile. Even the bruise visible under his right eye cannot take away from a certain impishness. Finally, there is that name, of course, Georgie. Hardly fitting, it seems, for a man who makes his living hurting and being hurt. But for two or three years, before hard luck sticks out its foot and trips him up at every turn, he is one of the top middleweights in the world. In fact, they call him the "Uncrowned Champion." Years later, when his fractured, luckless fighting days are over, they forget him, and, through a haze of confusion, he rides his bicycle up and down scorched Las Vegas streets, hoping to be recognized by someone, anyone, formerly the Number One ranked middleweight in the world, the man they called Georgie. READ MORE FROM THE CRUELEST SPORT.
Some time after Gennady Golovkin scored a third-round knockout of Matthew Macklin, giving those in attendance at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut, the awful conclusion they paid for, Macklin remained in Child’s Pose on the canvas. Gasping, his face contorted in agony, Macklin went through a ritual of pain. It is a strange thing, pain; stranger still is the body’s responses. The reflexive writhing and clawing for distraction in movement—like a prisoner throwing himself against the bars of his cell—all that squirming in a futile bid to escape. Read more from The Cruelest Sport.
December 12, 1986: He was only 27 years old, frazzled young the way only prizefighters and rock stars are frazzled young, and already he was facing Skid Row—a place he had known well after arriving in New York City as a child in the mid-1960s from Guayama, Puerto Rico. Three long years after last being called campeón, Juan Laporte was considered nothing more than a rusted hulk ready to be set on cinderblocks and stripped for parts. But Laporte entered his fight against undefeated Julio Cesar Chavez at Madison Square Garden ready to hum like a brand new Camero. Read more from The Living Daylights by clicking the link above.
Long before Roger Mayweather became famous for twelve-letter expletives and for discovering A-side Meth, he was a bold case study in hot-and-cold, up-and-down, and what-goes-around-comes-around. With a skull-and-crossbones stitched on his trunks and a right hand that could have doubled as a maul, Mayweather alternated upsides and downsides for the better part of the 1980s because of one simple detail: He owned a chin as fragile as a sparkleball. What made him even more compelling was the fact that he knew it. "Live by the sword, die by the sword," he told KO Magazine in 1988. "It’s the same with Tommy Hearns or anybody else who’s a good puncher. Come to see me fight and something will happen." Read more from The Living Daylights by clicking link above.
And you? What would you do? If you stuffed your battered shoes with newspapers as a child? If you wore the same shirt to school week after week? If your parents picked up and lit out in a covered wagon from one bleak hinterland to another? If you knocked on doors looking for handouts? If you ate rotting banana skins from trash barrels? If you slept nights in hobo jungles and spent your days in the depths of a gloomy copper mine? If you had Doc Kearns as your right hand man, lopsided grin, hat brim askew, diamond stickpin glittering even on sunless days? What would you have done?
With a hands-down approach and a style that relies on speed and timing–attributes more suited to a younger man’s game–there was always going to be a fight when Martinez, now 38 years old, would no longer have the goods. Time appeared to be creeping up on the Argentinean star in less than spectacular outings against Murray’s countrymen, Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin, but power proved decisive on those occasions. Last night, perhaps due to the inevitable decline that comes with approaching middle age, Martinez was never able to find that dynamic next gear: the flashy southpaw looked flat and vulnerable through much of the contest.
You can roll your eyes at the redemptive narrative of Zab Judah, but the fact that he has clung to relevance over seventeen years is no meager accomplishment. Despite the worst intentions of men like Kostya Tszyu, Miguel Cotto, and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and a history of self-sabotage that runs the length of the comedo-tragic spectrum, Judah, 42-7 (29), has staved off inconsequence time and again. And while his speed and power—relatively undiminished in his 35th year of life—will continue to award Judah the proverbial puncher’s chance, those physical attributes alone do not explain his materializing against Danny Garcia at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday night. CLICK LINK ABOVE FOR MORE.
Las Vegas, Nevada, 1970. His life was a firetrap; his days were dry tinder. A small spark here or there—some ash from a cigarette, perhaps—and the whole ramshackle hovel would go up in roaring flames. You could shovel all the sand in the world on it, hose it down with the entire Atlantic Ocean—nothing was going to stop that conflagration. Click link for more.
You can see them in the dim corners of dingy gyms from one end of the country to the other. They play dominoes at rickety card tables. They wander back and forth, unsteadily, across the room, the heat—almost never offset by whirring ceiling fans—and the permanent stench of sweat, grit, and cracked or creaking leather a backdrop to nearly all they say or do. Now and then one of them will come up to you and offer advice when he sees you struggling with the heavybag or making a fool of yourself in front of a mirror. They teach arcane, archaic methods. Their eyes, unfocused, wander here or there; you can catch a glimpse of pain in them from time to time. Their hands are as gnarled as tree roots breaking through the earth. They stand in front of begrimed windows looking down on the faraway streets below. Who can tell you what their daydreams are? (read more)
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