Made it back in one piece from the Appalachian Mountains in North Georgia where I was doing a bit of R&R but more importantly working on a screenplay. Yes it does have something to do with Pugilism, but a whole lot more to do about life and its vicissitudes. No more details now. I made it back from the back woods, also known as Deliverance Land, (no squealing like a pig please), in time to be ringside Saturday Night at Mandalay Bay to watch Manny Pacquiao win a clear cut but entertaining decision over one of boxing’s best ever Marco Antonio Barrera.
This rematch was so much better for Barrera than his whitewashing by Pac-Man four years ago, when Barrera suffered what has been his only knockout loss as he was stopped by Manny in round 11. Most everyone, including yours truly, felt the result would be the same but quicker this time out as Barrera has gotten four years older and Pacquiao has gotten four years better.
Well the latter of that equation is why the fight was able to go the distance, and be competitive at times. Because Manny is now a better fighter and does not just come in wild and crazy all the time, (he still does sometimes, thanks Manny!), he is more calculated and there is actually some strategy that he employs in his arsenal these days. His trainer Freddy Roach has done a very good job improving on all of Pacquiao’s fistic skills. Because of this and because Barrera with all his ring guile fought a good fight to try and win and not get killed at the same time, this made for a distance fight.
Barrera, although now 33, still has great footwork, and that along with his jab and toughness helped him make it through the 36 minutes with Mr. Whirlwind, who has now settled down a bit. Here’s hoping that Barrera, 63-6 (42 KO’s), retires and goes straight into the Boxing Hall of Fame and then I would love to see him training fighters. Man if I had a kid who wanted to be a fighter, could he get a better teacher than the Baby Faced Assassin Marco Antonio Barrera.
Now at 28, Pacquiao, 45-3-2 (35 KO’s), has many options, for one he can simply go up to the Lightweight limit and campaign there. That would make sense but what would make the most sense would be to fight a rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez who battled Manny to a draw back in May of 2004. Marquez also comes off a decision win over Barrera here in Vegas earlier this year. Marquez, at 34 years old, need that rematch sooner than later.
Samuel Peter continues to win but continues to look like an underachiever. Although he showed tremendous heart by getting up three times and coming back to win a decision over Jameel McCline, one would have thought that this guy would be right at the top of his game now. You know what, maybe he is. Maybe I, and others, over estimated the hard punching Nigerian. He certainly is not the disappointment that another big strong Nigerian Heavyweight Ike Ibeabuchi turned out to be as Sam is a really nice guy outside the squared circle, but inside the ring it doesn’t look like he will measure up to what Ibeabuchi was before he mentally imploded. The jury is really out on Sam.
Speaking of Heavyweights, this weekend just a few days shy of 45, Evander Holyfield, 42-8-2 (27 KO’s), attempts an almost George Foreman like feat when he goes to Russia to battle unbeaten Sultan Ibragimov 21-0-1 (17 KO’s) for Ibragimov’s WBO Title. When Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer in round 10 in November of 1994, we all at least knew who the heck Moorer was. Do we know anything about Ibragimov? Okay, maybe just a tad more than we know about Ruslan Chagaev of Uzbekistan who beat the Giant Nicolay Valuev for the WBA Title earlier this year. Actually I know very little about either. I do know that Ibragimov, like Moorer, is a southpaw. It worked for Big George, will it work for Evander. No, Ibragimov by decision.
Oh, by the way, Evander Holyfield has proved me wrong more than any other fighter in boxing history. I’ll make a deal with the real deal Holyfield. Evander I will root for you to win this fight and make me look bad one more time, if you promise that this will be your last fight win, lose, or draw. What are the odds Holyfield would retire if he won this fight? Take the over.
It’s really sad that between Sam Peter’s performance and the fact that here in late 2007 we are still talking about the possibility of Holyfield winning a what, 5th Heavyweight Championship! Wow, sorry Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Marciano and to all the really great Heavyweight Champions. Well, at least Evander has been like those others, a great fighter in his time, which has come and gone. In fact didn’t Evander win his first belt over Dempsey on the 4th of July 1919 in Toledo, Ohio? Oh sorry, that is when and where the Manassa Mauler won the title destroying Jess Willard in 3 rounds.
One final word on our New Middleweight Champion of the World, his name is Kelly Pavlik, the unbeaten 25-year-old power puncher from Youngstown, Ohio. We all knew Kelly could really punch, but he showed against Jermain Taylor a few weeks ago that along with sledgehammer punching power in both hands he has a steel mill chin. Pavlik got careless for just a few seconds in round 2 and Taylor put him down, and had him in real trouble. But Kelly, because of his tremendous conditioning and heart, rose up survived the round and would come back, take over and eventually do as I predicted he would, knock out Jermain Taylor. The end came in round number 7, the same round he did in Edison Miranda as I also predicted he would.
Kelly, who is now 32-0 with 29 knockouts, has stopped his last 9 opponents. In his last three fights Kelly has looked stronger and stronger each round, as he kind of systematically breaks down his opponents with his size, strength and, yes, his boxing skills. Sure this kid can punch, but he also knows how to fight. One of the reasons for his strength and stamina is some of his old school training tactics like pushing trucks up a hill and hitting a huge tractor tire with a sledge hammer and he also does a lot natural strength training. I really love this kid and wish him the best. Plus he is making me look good, and I always love that!
Youngstown, which already has Ray Boom Boom Mancini and Harry Arroyo to be proud of, now has Kelly Pavlik the new Middleweight Champion of the World to be very proud of. In fact all of boxing and boxing fans should be proud of this young man. By the way, very good job by the third guy in the ring Steve Smoger for once again using good judgment and not panicking and stopping the fight in round 2 like many referees of today would have. One of the greatest strengths any great champion posseses is the ability to come back from adversity, they should not be deprived of the opportunity and Kelly was not, thanks to Smoger.
This was Taylor’s, 27-1-1 (17 KO’s), first real loss on paper, although his two wins with Bernard Hopkins and his draw with Winky Wright were all razor close. Jermain is only 29, and they do have a rematch clause, which I’m certain they will opt for and get with Kelly. If he gets the rematch expect the same results, as I believe Kelly is still on his way up and I believe we have already seen the best of Jermain and what he can do.
Look for Kelly to fight the winner of next months Joe Calzaghe and Mikkel Kessler mega-fight at 168 pounds. Kelly, at nearly 6’ 3”, would love to be able to gain a few more pounds and take on the winner of that fight. He would make enough money to get a few some steel mills going again in Youngstown. Calzaghe vs Kessler, Mosley vs Cotto and then Mayweather vs Hatton are all coming up over the new few months. Wow good pugilistic stuff, and we will cover it all up close and personal right here on INTHISCORNERTV.COM.
Speaking of Floyd--This just in---One Las Vegan Wayne Newton is headed back home, but Boxing’s Pound For Pound Best, Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather, has survived another round and week of “Dancing with the Stars”. I don’t agree with those who think this could be a distraction for Mayweather as he is less than 2 months away from the Hatton fight. First off putting himself out of his comfort zone and having to concentrate on dancing each week in a competitive form demands a lot of focus. Couple that with the physical stuff involved and being around a lot of positive people, well it’s all good for Floyd. In fact, if he embraces this with a positive attitude this could really be a good thing for Mayweather. You know it’s hard to dance for some of us. Did I ever tell you that I actually won a dance contest? Yes when working TV for a fight for Directv in Ponce, Puerto Rico a few years back, I actually won an event at a big night club. Unfortunately, I was dressed up as a burlesque dancer, but I did come out victorious over guess who? Unbeaten Puerto Rican light Flyweight Champion Ivan Calderon, who was dressed as a rapper. I had serious wardrobe disadvantages as I had to wear a plastic behind and breasts and a wig. Calderon received hometown cooking as he only had to wear a big afro wig and some phony bling. It came down to a dance off, and Calderon went first and opted for some hip hop stuff, but I scored a knockout as I danced, not the tango but a new dance I created on the spot, called the “way too much Pinot Noir”