Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Treat Williams Decides To KILL Sugar Ray Leonard DEAD! GIF Spotlight

"None But the Lonely Heart" was the 1992 episode of HBO's Tales from the Crypt in which Sugar Ray Leonard played a gravedigger. He showed up for a few seconds at the beginning and about a minute at the end, so that he could innocently provoke Emmy winner Treat Williams into murdering him with a shovel. Legend has it that Treat scored it for Hagler and never let it go.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wladimir Klitschko's Pointed Sarcasm With Danny Segura: Quote Spotlight & General Heavyweight Coverage Analysis

In yesterday's Fight Hub TV interview, Danny Segura seemingly interpreted no humour in the deadpan delivery of Wladimir Klitschko.

Danny Segura, referencing Bryant Jennings: 
"Now, recently, in a media scrum, he said your chin was questionable. What are your thoughts on that?"

Klitschko, as viciously straight as his right hand: 

"Oh, it's very questionable. It's actually made out of, uh, glass. And, you know, that's why I've been very careful in past fights-so it's not going to get broken. And the best way to take care of it is just to knock your opponent out."

In the exchange, Wlad seemingly threw a wet blanket on the interviewer's question without him knowing it. No smiles or chuckles were given, that day. But some of us viewing got a laugh out of it. Especially those who have watched around ten consecutive years and twenty consecutive opponents in a row point to Wlad's chin in the lead-up to their match with him before losing, and countless English-speaking interviewers mention it to him directly as though there was much to go over.

Fight Hub interview link

Video embed:

Considering the nine years of not even being knocked down, I am almost reminded of Robert Downey Junior being interviewed by Krishnan Guru-Murthy, recently. Now, I am not putting that all on Danny Segura, because I just find this a casual interview with a funny exchange that I laughed at, and am glad was published by Fight Hub. However, as a fan of boxing, I'm about to go into a rant, because we're on the subject of the broader problem with boxing coverage and it isn't a Fight Hub problem, or a Danny Segura problem. This interview is just a segue into a rant on the problem, which is typified by the coverage of the heavyweight champion of the world. We're talking about Klitschko coverage in America. Belittling the big man and the top division in the sport is largely an American problem. I know it's certainly not a German one. But it does hurt boxing.

CNN recently did one of the few good non-dufus American spots on Wladimir of recent memory. The fact that they can cover Klitschko well, in pieces like that, sticks out like a sore thumb. Because, in mostly American media outlets, especially on television, it's basically been Wladimir politely dismantling interviewers' negative jibes about his chin, his losses, his entertainment value, his opponent quality, his weight division's quality, and bothering to speak of little else that isn't directly tied to a negative, even when there's something positive, noteworthy and obvious to mention.

It's almost as if no one at these outlets knows what's going on in the division or about Klitschko, or even boxing in general. Yet a group like ESPN will still throw an apparently uninformed interviewer in there for a bland 3-minute spot leaving you certain they don't even know one Klitschko from another, as well as squandering any chance at getting anything interesting out of a historical fighter for the inescapably impactful American audiences. All while being completely dismissive of both him and his opponents. Why a guy like Povetkin or Jennings should be written off as uninteresting or one of the world's most dominant athletes should be treated like an anomalous footnote in progress by those who are proponents of sport, one can only wonder. I won't name names when it comes to the interviewers. But I'm sure you've seen them if you're reading this.

You virtually never hear one of them interviewing Klitschko and alluding to a good recent heavyweight match when one has happened, for instance. A match with a cracking atmosphere and great action and an exclamation mark kayo between two good contenders like Alexander Povetkin VS Carlos Takam can happen and be immediately followed by Klitschko being interviewed and the dufus interviewing him leads with a remark about how slow and uninteresting the division is before he gets to his first question. It's poor form and it's stupid marketing, and it doesn't have to be that way at all. Instead of a question that would take an interviewer any kind of familiarity like "Your recent opponent Alexander Povetkin had a terrific match with Carlos Takam. What do you think of his victory and the chances of him facing Deontay Wilder before you can get a shot at full unification?" we have been through a decade of interviews akin to:

Interviewer: "Wlad, you've been winning but remember those times you were knocked out? Because your opponent says he's going to do that to you again."

Wlad: "Yes, I have a glass chin, thank you for your interest in boxing and its subtle nuances You're very knowledgeable, discerning and thank you for that."

Interviewer: "Great answer. I'm glad you haven't forgotten being knocked out. You're a really nice guy, for a Russian. Remember those times you clinched to keep from being knocked out like last time or the time you were knocked out before that when you didn't clinch?"

Wlad: "Thank you, yes, I hope you enjoy this fight too. I am Ukrainian."

Interviewer: "Yeah, like Rocky IV, I know, Vitali. I work for ESPN, after all."

Wlad just rolls through it, sometimes aloof with positivity, sometimes playing sarcastic to blank stares and monotone, uninterested, unengaged voices. If I were Klitschko, I doubt I could do the same interviews without getting salty, and salty with no subtly whatsoever. So, I think I'm complimenting him on his choice of handling the interviews. Some have suggested this is because Wladimir isn't American, or a native English-speaker. Which is probably one factor of many. Because it's true his era isn't great. But also true that it's rarely a great heavyweight era. It's true he doesn't currently have any other big stars to interest people. It's true that like virtually every champion, he's been involved in some major stinkers.

But, if we're extending the honesty even further, although he reacts very differently, I believe Floyd Mayweather Junior gets the same thing from his coverage. Two or three stale media narratives they like to sell, like the myth of him ducking fighters throughout his career, nonsense about his celebrity excesses, then some antagonism to get him to react in an inflammatory way where he usually gives them what they want, whereas Wlad doesn't. All while usually not coaxing one interesting question about boxing on a technical level or anything else that hasn't been rehashed thousands of times.

The difference is essentially that Floyd DOES share a weight division with other stars and he DOES give in to antagonism and has a tabloid lifestyle that media eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But this kind of coverage is why even though boxing still boasts some of the highest-paid athletes in the world, which includes Mayweather and Klitschko, it isn't watercooler talk in America beyond the one fight where by pure happenstance the two biggest stars happen to share a weight class. Overall, it is covered in the most ditzy way possible and the Klitschko coverage is a perfect example of it. Undersold positives, oversold negatives and zero appeal to force casual fans to understand anything more substantial than "ducking" or trash talk.

Boxing isn't dead. Boxing isn't dying. But with coverage like this, of the sport's king division, it's not a wonder America isn't tuned into it nearly as much as it once was. You can put it all on a couple of Wlad's stinkers with excessive holding or you could maybe ask yourself if coverage plays a very large role, with the cloudy lens through which it is all viewed.

PS: I rarely go off on a long essay of a post, and more rarely choose to take a personal negative stance on anyone doing their jobs, which is why I am not pointing the finger at one person from my very small corner of the Internet, but I am pointing out something that I think is a huge problem to the detriment of boxing. One which I maintain is structural, and not solely dependent on any particular person with a microphone, let alone one athlete and their one division.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Damage Report, With Keith Thurman

During NBC Sports' Premier Boxing Champions Post-Fight broadcast on the eleventh of April, 2015, Keith Thurman was interviewed. He had this to say about the headbutt damage he received against Robert Guerrero on the seventh of March, 2015:

"I suffered a hemotoma-a lump on my head-and, um, all the blood drained down into this eye. Over the next few days it went over into the next eye. Actually, I still have some stagnant blood underneath my eyes, even now."

Thurman still had visible marks under both eyes left over from what was this the day after his fight:

(Click for image posted by Keith to his fans to show the damage)

He said he started training a little bit the week before the interview. I happily await his return to the ring to see his campaign progress. Get well, Keith.

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Damage Report, With Ruslan Provodnikov: Quote Spotlight

Last night, in a grueling, brutal, bloody affair, Lucas Matthysse used his superior diversity to win a war with Ruslan Provodnikov on HBO's terrific card, which included standout talent Terence Crawford coming up in weight to fight 140-pound prospect Thomas Dulorme. Provodnikov marched forward, all night, refusing to go out, refusing to go down, refusing to be pushed back. The price he paid for this war? According to Provodnikov, yet another instance of the same horrifying side effect he'd received for his troubles against fellow blood-and-guts warrior Timothy Bradley. He posted this, on his official Instagram account (if squeamish, please don't focus on the first picture and scroll down to the comments image):


Source/Image Credit:

Plain text of quote: "I want to say I'm sorry to all my fans! I lost tonight, and I felt like I could've won this fight. I almost had him, but the fight happened the way it happened. A lot of respect for Lucas, he was the better fighter tonight. One more fight in my career when I did my doping test I had black urine, the first one was against Tim Bradley..I hope everybody saw what they expected from this fight."

There you have it. If the gaping cut above his left eye weren't reminder enough of what these brave athletes give to the fights, this is the second time Provodnikov has confessed to having black urine after a boxing match. This is the reality of the physical tolls that the most determined fighters can not just receive, but endure to the end of the contest without giving up hope of victory. These are the unnerving symptoms of going through hell in the ring. Best wishes to both men and their health and congratulations to both on the amount of determination they put on display. It was a memorable night. Unfortunately, it's also a memorable picture of Ruslan's black urine sample. But from what I regularly read on the Internet forums, some fans need a reminder like this of the bravery and demands of being a boxer to fix their perspective. Respect and appreciation, my friends.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Floyd Mayweather Junior's Straight Right To The Body: GIF Spotlight

In Floyd Mayweather Junior's first welterweight campaign match, he deconstructed one of his several talented southpaw opponents in former major world titlist Sharmba Mitchell. Sharmba was nailed multiple times by one major orthodox-VS-southpaw weapon: The straight right to the body. It ended the fight.

During this HBO broadcast, Roger Mayweather, to Floyd, in the corner before the fifth round: "Keep walking him down. When you get close to him, then you let your hands go. . .And keep trying to throw the right hand to the body."

HBO commentator Roy Jones Junior, during the post-fight replays:
"Straight right hand to the body-the best punch against a southpaw."

HBO commentator Larry Merchant in the final round: "That was a hard right hand to the body. You don't often see that. Mayweather has great discipline and great *intuition* in the ring. That's where that right hand to the body comes from."

All night long, with this punch:

Floyd Mayweather Junior TKO6 Sharma Mitchell, 19th of November, 2005. Notice, he even threw it twice in a row to end the contest.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Bob Foster's Slick But Frightening KO of Mike Quarry: GIF Spotlight

Legendary light heavyweight knockout artist Bob Foster defended the light heavyweight title of the world against undefeated Mike Quarry, brother of heavyweight contender Jerry Quarry, with a ruthless knockout left hook. It was the 27th of June, 1972, and Mike Quarry was 35-0. Foster coolly annihilated Quarry, cocking his head as he walked away as if to say "Tough break, kid. These are the big leagues." but then comes over out of concern for his unconscious foe when it became clear he wasn't getting up. Notice Mike's cornerman lifting his head and dropping it. Mike is still gone. Bob would keep the light heavyweight title until retiring in 1974 and go down as one of the most dangerous punchers the division has ever seen. 

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

David Tua KO's John Ruiz After Larry Merchant Quote Of The Day: GIF Spotlight/Quote Spotlight

15th of March, 1996:

David Tua's reputation as one of the most dangerous contenders of the 1990's and early 2000's was largely built upon this spot on HBO, viciously blowing out fellow prospect and future major world titlist John Ruiz, and doing so immediately after the first bell. Larry Merchant had just summed up the assessment of these two fighters at the time. 

Larry Merchant, During the HBO broadcast of David Tua VS John Ruiz:

"There's a lot of interest in Tua, because he comes out of that fabulous school of Marciano, and Frazier, and Tyson- that type of fighter. But he's going up against the best schooled of the young heavyweights out there-Ruiz, who is a stablemate, incidentally, of Lennox Lewis."

This was all before Ruiz's now notorious reputation for developing a mauling, spoiling style to frustrate, baffle and even defeat top names, including Evander Holyfield. Ruiz would be the first of four former or future world titlists that David Tua would defeat in his career. All would be by knockout. Ruiz wouldn't be stopped again until meeting David Haye at the age of 38, nearly fourteen years later, in his 55th and final match to date, and by a late-round corner retirement. Ruiz proved both very durable and very good at surviving when hurt throughout his overall career. So, the Tua KO1 Ruiz performance was one of many potent statements of raw power by the Samoan slugger. To sum up, John Ruiz faced two Davids in his career and only lost by knockout to the two Davids he faced. Coincidence? Sure. If you believe what "they" want you to believe!

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Muhammad Ali's Battle Rub For Earnie Shavers: GIF Spotlight

On the twenty-ninth of September, 1977, Muhammad Ali came to defend the heavyweight title of the world against The Acorn, Earnie Shavers. Shavers was a notorious puncher and Ali showed up clowning and with talk that his camp wasn't particularly disciplined. Here he takes time out to rub the head of one of the greatest punchers of all time (and I think either Referee Johnny LoBianco or someone in Earnie's corner). First before the fight, and then during the fight, The Acorn gets shined up. Ali, the kind of man that would play kick the can in the lion's den, just to annoy the lions before hunting them. Some people have a battle cry, some people have a battle rub. To each their own.

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Referee Harry Papacaralambolous Wishes You A Happy Easter With This 6-Punch Combination: GIF Spotlight

Referee Harry Papacaralambolous watches what must have been invisible rabbit punches fired from Tex Cobb on a nearly helpless Earnie Shavers toward the end of their bout. I like to call it an Easter Bunny Combination. It's enough to make even a rabbit lay an egg. Kenny Norton, commentating with Don Dunphy and Gerry Cooney, actually had to point out that they were rabbit punches. But if the ref didn't notice, why should they? The second of August, 1980, on ABC, I believe, and full of The Easter Bunny's favourite hits. Happy Easter to all celebrating from Basement Gym Boxing.

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Basement Gym Boxing

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