Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

PED's Accusations & The Leonard/Hearns II Lead-up: BGB Throwback Article Spotlight



Click here to read: Hearns Angers Leonard, Steroid Accusations No Laughing Matter

During the lead-up coverage of Sugar Ray Leonard's rematch with Tommy Hearns, in June of 1989, in an article by Bernard Fernandez, quotes like these remind us of the now lengthy history of PED's working its way into publicity for big boxing contests:

"Monday night's scheduled 12-rounder between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns, which is likely to become the highest- grossing prizefight of all time, is now a running gag about the possible use of anabolic steroids by Leonard."
 ~Bernard Fernandez

"I take it personal. . . It's so ludicrous. It's a slap in the face to me and to boxing. We have enough criticism of this sport."
~Sugar Ray Leonard

"We would like for (Leonard) to take a physical before and after the fight. We've been hearing too much that Ray's been taking steroids. I can't give you the source, but we've heard it before we got out here."
~Emanuel Steward

"I was on the promotional tour with Ray and he wasn't all pumped up. It seemed like it happened overnight."
~Tommy Hearns

"Without a basis (for conducting such a test), it is disrespect to such a great champion as Sugar Ray Leonard,"
 ~Jose Sulaiman (then WBC president)



It seems so recent in boxing that PED accusation is part of "trash talking" and pre-fight negotiation gamesmanship, if not for truly genuine concern. In recent years, I've heard Floyd Mayweather Junior repeat "Take the test." to Manny Pacquiao (through media), as well as Jean Pascal, rather directly, at his ancient tormentor, Bernard Hopkins. I've also heard Alexander Povetkin and Kubrat Pulev both goading Wladimir Klitschko about it, all casting doubt on the validity of their propspective opponents, and in each mentioned case of the fight happening (all but Mayweather VS Pacquiao), what happened to be their conquerors. Of course, these are cases where tests do get taken, just not the tests the opponent has desired, and/or the way they desire them, and/or from who they desire to administer them. It's a giant, and exasperating trap for boxing fans. In a way, no one is ever above reproach on this topic, simply because there are no requirements for any form of suspicion and there is no way to eliminate all forms of suspicion with something like this, no matter what tests you take. It doesn't mean you shouldn't try, but it does mean if you want to cast doubt on someone, anyone, it's always an available option. It doesn't matter if you have proof. It doesn't matter if you have evidence. It doesn't matter if you're doing it because you believe it or because you are preparing an excuse for a future loss, or are already a sore loser.

All testing may be insufficient. All testing may be wrong. All testing may fail where a cheater succeeds or, hey, where an innocent athlete is found guilty. Hey, maybe the person doing the testing is wrong! All the testing has experts trying to figure out how to cheat them. No testing is a guarantee you've got any kind of level playing field. All of the world of true sport (i.e., not poker) seems to have some degree of PED paranoia or frustration about testing inadequacy, and boxing, being influenced by many different outlooks from its fighters, athletic commissions and sanctioning bodies has been developing quite a high degree of PED paranoia and testing dissatisfaction for some time now. It did not start with Money and Pac Man, of course. Nor will it end with Doctor Zerokiller and The Bulgarian Cobra. Not to mention, this complex and broad-ranging of a subject is far beyond the average layperson's fundamental knowledge, just as it was in 1989, if not much more so, as it stands now. I see that worsening as time goes by, not that your average fan wants to admit ignorance to something they'd love to understand, which plays such a large part in their sport. It's like having someone living in your house and you don't really know who they are or where they come from or what they're doing. It might even be easier to pretend they aren't there, if you can. 

Boxing fans seem to have three main groups that make up the overwhelming majority of this issue, from my observation. There are the vehement deniers or the rabid accusers that certain fighters are on what is vaguely under the PED's umbrella, or banned substances list, less vaguely, most seemingly arguing out of false certainty, and then, thirdly, those that realistically admit they have little idea what is going on either way. The deniers and accusers seem well in the lead, ahead of group number three, to my reckoning. Maybe the admitted ignorance group is larger than I think, and their silence has fooled me. I commend their restraint, whether they're much fewer or greater in number than I've noted. In any case, it's a strange feeling to look back on 1989, with two legends going into a giant fight, bickering over PED's accusations. All these years later and it seemed to be a major enough sticking point between our pound-for-pound icons that they went to court over it and still didn't fight. Also, noting that Wladimir Klitschko's camp, much like Pacquiao's, decided to take Kubrat Pulev to court, I'm seeing in the headlines today. Ah, 1989. My, how you've grown.


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Basement Gym Boxing


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Monday, November 24, 2014

Styles Still Make Fights: Quote Spotlight



"Understand, boxing isn't a straight line. It's not better versus worse. It's really rock-paper-scissors."


Richard Dwyer, on his Youtube channel, which I regularly check, in discussing the way Algieri's style was poorly matched with Manny Pacquiao's, on Saturday night. Fans grow tired of hearing the phrase "Styles make fights." but this is a nice alternative phrasing for something that will always be true, whether its reminders get tiresome or not.

I'm reading through fans slating Algieri as an irrelevant fighter before and an irrelevant fighter now. But, he held a major world title before, and he still holds one in that weight class. Irrelevant, he is apparently not. His 2014 may have been full of busy jumps up in quality of opposition, in bigger and bigger stages, starting great on ESPN, moving to difficult but still great on regular HBO with an upset, and ending harshly, but on a large PPV event.  Either way, regardless of the ending of the year for him, it's all made him quite relevant. One fight does not make or break a whole career. Styles do make fights as much as levels, people. Keep it in mind when discussing Algieri's future.

Source video direct link: Dwyer 11-23-14 Post Fight Manny Pacquiao v. Chris Algieri


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Basement Gym Boxing

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shannon Briggs: Making You Racist Since 2006 - BGB Throwback Article Spotlight



From a particularly ironic paragraph of an article by Carlo Rotella, in The New York Times, leading up to Shannon  Briggs' 2007 clash with Sultan Ibragimov, about Briggs' hyping his 2006 fight with Sergei/Siarhei Liakhovich:

"Briggs said, “I don’t get caught up in the race thing,” but he told me more than once that promoters and cable networks favor the Russian heavies because they’re white. He also enjoyed retelling the story of how he’d spread the false rumor that Liakhovich, known as the White Wolf, had used a racial slur. Briggs had been playing a prefight head game, trying to put his opponent on the defensive. At their postfight press conference, Liakhovich, plainly upset and still dazed, earnestly assured Briggs that he had never called him any such thing. “I smiled,” Briggs said, “and I said: ‘I know. I made it up.’ He was, like, ‘Whuuuh?’ ”


(Click here to read the full throwback article: Shannon Briggs Says Nyet)


This article is something beyond an article about Shannon Briggs with some ironic humour. It expands into the territory of an American philosophical breakdown, with Shannon Briggs, perhaps among the most unfit fighters to carry such a burden at such a time, becoming the focal point. The article illustrates a major cultural shift in the global sport of boxing and an odd kind of analysis of why the shift was taking place. I may write an article of my own about this piece, actually, because I find it so interesting. Either way, it's important to remember and beware that Shannon Briggs will make you racist if you're not careful. He's clever like that. Watch out, folks!


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Basement Gym Boxing

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tommy Hearns & Jay Snyder Double Down: GIF Spotlight




You don't see it very often, a double knockdown, but it happened to Tommy Hearns, well into the twilight of his career, all the way up at Cruiserweight, and at the age of forty, against South Carolina journeyman Jay Snyder. Only one stayed down a bit.



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Basement Gym Boxing



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Friday, November 14, 2014

Longevity Corner Spotlight: An Odd Fact Regarding Klitschko, Pulev Careers (& Other Contenders)

                      (Trainer Johnathon Banks with Wladimir Klitschko)


In June of 2009, Wladimir Klitschko had his 56th professional boxing contest and defended his universally regarded major world title (IBF) for a seventh time, against undefeated Ruslan Chagaev.

Kubrat Pulev turned professional as a boxer only a few months later, in September of that same year.

Wladimir still holds that title and will be attempting a seventeenth defense of it against Pulev this week. That is an illustration of Wladimir's longevity as the number one heavyweight in the world.  He's now defending his title against a man that turned pro after he had already won it and defended it for years. Wladimir has been on top so long that many of his prospective opponents have turned pro after he had fifty pro fights in the books and after his last loss, in 2004. He may be no Alien, but you don't see this very often, folks.

A brief timeline of the current crop of contenders yet to face Wladimir, against Wlad's last decade or so of activity:

2004: Wladimir Klitschko's last loss, to Lamon Brewster, and first win in his current winning streak, against DaVarryl Williamson, in this year.

2005: Bermane Stiverne, current WBC heavyweight champion, Ring's current #3 contender, debuts as a pro, in this year.

Klitschko wins an eliminator to challenge IBF Champion and Ring's #1 rated heavyweight, Chris Byrd, by defeating undefeated Sam Peter, in this year.

2006: Wladimir Klitschko becomes the general consensus number one heavyweight by defeating #1 Chris Byrd, winning his IBF title, 1 of the four major sanctioning body titles in this era, and defeating Calvin Brock in his fiftieth professional fight and first defense, in this year.
 
2007: Dereck Chisora, current European Heavyweight Champion, debuts as a pro in this year.

2008: Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder & Mike Perez, Ring's current #4, #6 & #8 contenders, in order, all debut as a pro in this year. (Klitschko turned pro in 1996, when Tyson Fury was a nine-year-old boy)

Wladimir also unifies two of the four major sanctioning body titles (his IBF and Sultan Ibragimov's WBO) in this year. 

2009: Kubrat Pulev, Ring's current #1 contender, and Vyacheslav Glazkov, Ring's current #7 contender, debut as a pro in this year.

Klitschko unifies his two major sanctioning body titles (IBF & WBO) with the Ring title against Ruslan Chagaev, in this year.

2010: Bryant Jennings, Ring's current #5 contender, debuts as a pro in, in this year.

2011: Klitschko unifies the Ring title, his 2/4 major sanctioning body titles (IBF & WBO) with a third, the WBA title, against David Haye.

2014: Bermane Stiverne wins the only major world title not held by Wladimir Klitschko, the vacant WBC title, against Chris Arreola, in this year.



I've included Dereck Chisora by virtue of having the European title and regularly being mentioned as a prospective Klitschko opponent, having been signed to fight him previously already. All other mentioned contenders are in Ring's top ten, as noted. The only other fighters currently on Ring's list of top ten contenders are Alexander Povetkin (#2), Chris Arreola (#9) and Ruslan Chagaev (#10). Each is at least a little younger than Klitschko, each having turned pro at least a little bit after Klitschko, and two of the three having already lost lopsidedly to Klitschko. The fact of the matter is that Klitschko is not only the elder statesman of the division, but the new era Klitschko took control of after his brother relinquished the Ring title is now the old era, having been almost completely replaced with yet another new era of men that don't know what it's like to be contenders without Klitschko on the throne. The odd facts of Klitschko's longevity have arrived and Pulev is a "next generation" heavyweight contender for Wladimir. 

*The aforementioned rankings from Ring are not from the monthly magazine but from the weekly updated Ring rankings to be found here: http://ringtv.craveonline.com/ratings/heavyweight


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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ray Leonard On His Punching Power: Quote Spotlight



"I'm not known to be a big puncher. I'm known to be a consistent puncher, and if the first one doesn't get you, I'll get you with the next one."

~Sugar Ray Leonard, in interview featured during HBO's build-up documentary program for his match with Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

The mind of Ray Leonard is probably a perfect study for an example of a winner's mentality. I always thought despite getting so much focus on his methods in the Hagler and second Duran fight, whenever possible, Ray had his mind on knockouts as the ultimate goal. He may not be remembered as a puncher, but I think he had a champion boxer's vicious streak that made him as dangerous as some of history's greater punchers, and more than enough power to support it. Maybe this quote reminds us that SRL had a mind to end his opponents before the final bell, and almost always believed he would, whether he had the highest level of power on each single punch or not. Ray is often called a "Boxer-Puncher" to describe him as a fighter. I say, you can't forget the "puncher" anymore than you can forget the "boxer" when describing him and it's too often downplayed when talking about him. He had the power and he had the will to let it be the decider of outcomes when he stepped into the ring.

If the first one doesn't get you, I'll get you with the next one = I want my knockouts and I'm going to get them.


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Basement Gym Boxing



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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sugar Ray Leonard Celebrates Kalule Victory: Celebration GIF Spotlight







Sugar Ray Leonard celebrates his victory over 36-0 Ayub Kalule, to win a major world title at Light Middleweight while being the lineal welterweight champion, TKO9, 25th of June, 1981. It is one of the sport's great somersault moments.


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Basement Gym Boxing



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