Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Via Sports Illustrated

Lucas Matthysse became the brightest star in the Jr. welterweight (140 pound) division on Saturday night, knocking out the talented Lamont Peterson (31-2-1, 16 KOs) in just three rounds.

After a honeymoon first round, Matthysse stepped on the gas to score a knockdown with a fierce left hook in the second round. While Peterson was up and fighting in the third, the Argentine landed a compact, devastating left hook to Peterson’s chin, flattening him out on the canvas. Peterson tumbled on the floor and propped himself back up to beat the ten count—clearly dazed—only to be sent to the canvas within seconds from yet another left hook.

Matthysse is now 34-2, with 32 victories coming by way of knockout. His KO percentage alone makes him the most fearsome 140-pounder in boxing right now, and potentially the most marketable. While no belt was on the line, it was a closely watched fight, with current The Ring Magazine 140 pound champ Danny Garcia in attendance.

The victory has earned him comparisons to Manny Pacquiao, who also savagely fought his way to stardom in wars with Erik Morrales and Juan Manuel Lopez, eventually winning lopsided victories over stars Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya. While the initial comparison came from Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer, a professional hype man, many writers can’t help but see the resemblance, including ESPN’s Dan Rafael and Bleacher Report’s Matt Fitzgerald. Both fighters have power in each hand, are offensive minded, and can even look a bit sloppy or undisciplined when they fight. And like a younger Pacquiao, Matthysse seems to function at an elite athletic level that makes up for his vulnerabilities.

While a string of dominant victories are certainly in his future, it’s also possible for Matthysse to rise to a similar level of commercial success, as Pacquiao broke cultural and language barriers to become the most popular boxer around.

Accordng to Chris Mannix, Matthysse would rather fight Pac-Man than hear the comparisons:

Pacquiao (54-5-2) may be on the decline after being knocked out by longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth match, but he’s still in Matthysse’s weight range, scheduled to fight Junior Welterweight Brandon Rios. Should Pacquiao beat the young slugger (coming off a loss in his exciting rematch with Mike Alvarado) he’ll have his choice of opponents in the 140- to 154-pound range.

Lucas Matthysse will be watching Pacquiao’s career, and his spotlight, closely.


Marquez countered Pacquiao with great timing all night.

I started the night thinking Juan Manuel Marquez didn’t have a chance. I finished the night believing he was robbed.

Marquez was absolutely brilliant in last night’s fight against Manny Pacquiao. He avoided and countered Pacquiao’s punches to the point the champ was completely frustrated by the eighth round. He even seemed to be the more powerful of the two and certainly had the better timing.

Marquez proved why he’s still one of the best boxers at age 38, while Pacquiao turned in a performance that was less-than-worthy of the pound for pound champ. Pacman kept the fight competitive, a charging bull throughout the fight, but Marquez played the role of matador perfectly, his counter punches giving him an edge every round.

When the fight ended, most believed Marquez had finally beaten Pacquiao. Then the judges’ scores were announced.

One judge somehow had it 16-112 for Pacquiao, another  115-113 for Pacman, and the third had it an even 114-114.

Compare this to the crowd’s cheers for Marquez, overwhelming boos at the decision and, according to The Ring’s website, the fact many “ringside observers saw Marquez winning 116-112 and as much as 117-112.”

It wasn’t necessarily a corrupt decision – in fact, that’s a very inflammatory and reactionary statement to make. But it could be a sign that Pacquiao’s celebrity, once the sport’s greatest asset, has become something negative, a force that blinds judges, making them side with the star and not the winner.

Marquez, understandably frustrated, is now considering retirement after what should have been the highlight of his career. Unless a fourth fight is made, he will never have officially beaten his rival. But at least he gave fight fans one of the greatest trilogies in recent history.

Manny Pacquiao will win tonight.

Yes, Juan Manuel Marquez may be the more skilled of the two, and certainly the more experienced, but Pacman’s grown a  lot since their last fight – in terms of size and skill. This is important.

Pacquiao’s managed to move up in weight and keep his athleticism, speed and power. Furthermore, he’s a much better fighter since he last saw Marquez. It was close fight that many (myself included) thought JMM won, and fans wanted a rematch immediately.

It didn’t happen. Over three years have passed and since then Pacquiao’s become the current pound for pound champ (rating may change after midnight). Marquez has stayed within the top five for the most part, with two great victories over Juan Diaz and one over Michael Katsidis, both much younger than Dinamita, but his loss to Floyd Mayweather at welterweight was telling.

Marquez didn’t carry the weight well, and while he’ll be fighting above 140 again, he promises things will be different this fight.

If that’s true, this fight may turn out to be competitive. Marquez certainly knows how to fight Pacquiao after two extremely close fights and his age hasn’t shown as much as one would expect.

But like Mayweather , Pacquiao will be the bigger and faster man in the ring, and that’s a bad combination for Marquez.

Knockout predictions are bold statements, but I’m making a very safe one here: Pacquaio by KO in round 10.

I’ll know if I’m wrong soon enough.

Paul “The Punisher” Williams wants to prove he’s still a top fighter this weekend. Many wonder if he is the same boxer he used to be, a common question asked of pugilists who suffer brutal knockouts.

Williams (39 – 2, 27 KOs) was once included in the Ring’s top ten pound-for-pound list, but has fallen in rank following a knockout loss to Sergio Martinez. The highlight reel-worthy KO avenged Martinez’s loss in their first fight and placed the Argentine at number three on the Ring’s pound-for-pound list (Behind only Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather).

Williams’ only fight since that loss was a bizarre, four round-fight against Kermit Cintron that ended with the Puerto Rican accidentally flying out of the ring and injuring himself. Williams was curiously awarded the decision, though some felt it should have been a no contest.

The four round performance wasn’t enough to truly determine if Williams was affected by the knockout, but he didn’t look particularly impressive or sharp.

This weekend he’ll take on Erislandy Lara (15-0-1, 10 KOs) in a fight most fans and experts expect him to win, it probably won’t be easy.

Williams will be focused and determined to win, but Lara will be eager to take down a big name and boost his career. If the knockout didn’t take much or anything at all out of Williams, this could turn out to be a fairly easy fight; otherwise it’ll be a long night for him.

Klitschko lands a right on Haye

The most hyped heavyweight fight in recent memory proved to be another boring victory for Wladimir Klitschko, who finally shut up the belligerent David Haye to win a unanimous decision.

The bad blood between the Brit and the Klitschko brothers helped promote the fight, more than two years in the making. However, the fight lacked any of the passion or drama of the pre-fight antics and insults. It was a slow, tactical fight with few exchanges.

Klitschko’s jabs, occasional leading left hooks and rare straight rights held Haye’s wild haymakers at bay. Haye showed good movement while avoiding jabs but never used it to get inside. “The Hayemaker” expected to end the fight with one punch and often missed, ending up off-blance and occasionally getting pushed to the floor.

Eventually, Haye began intentionally flopping to the ground. It was obvious to everyone but the ref, who docked a point from Klitschko in seventh. He made up for this by ruling Haye’s flop in the eleventh a knockdown, creatively disciplining Haye.

While Haye landed a big right in the twelfth and final round to stun Klitschko, the Ukranian managed to compose himself and keep Haye away with his jabs, avoiding any real danger of being knocked out.

Klitschko won a unanimous decision with scores of 117-109, 118-108, and 116-110. I had it 118-108. His record is now 56 (49 KOs)-3-0 while Haye’s is 23 (23 KOs)-2.

The outcome wasn’t too surprising. Haye couldn’t deal with Klitschko’s jab and didn’t have the heart to get inside and trade. Despite showing a decent jab against Klitschko in the second and sixth, he didn’t use it to get in and instead swung wildly for his opponents chin. The man some believed could revitalize the heavyweight division embarrassed himself by flopping and not fighting.

It’s clear the Klitschko’s reign won’t end anytime soon.

Alexander had a tough fight against Matthysse

Devon Alexander won a split decision over Lucas Matthysse in his attempt to reestablish himself as one of the top fighters in the sport.

When he boxed his opponent, Alexander looked like the potential-filled prospect he did before fighting Timothy Bradley and Andreas Kotelnik. A flash knockdown in the fourth didn’t seem to hurt him too badly.

However, Matthysse’s power and pressure clearly bothered and fatigued Alexander. Alexander’s worst moments came when he decided to show off to his hometown of St. Louis and brawl with the Argentine in the seventh and eight rounds.

He came back and boxed well to win the ninth, but Matthysse managed to overwhelm him and take the tenth and final round.

The final scores were 96-93 and 95-94 Alexander and 96-93 Matthysse. Not everyone agrees, like commentator Larry Merchant and writer Kevin Iole (who tweeted “No way no how no sir: Alexander DID NOT win that fight”).

Scoring it 96-93 for Alexander is plain wrong. The fight was likely a draw, but the knockdown in the fourth puts Matthysse up a point. Really, Alexander would’ve had a clear victory if he had boxed the seventh and eighth instead of going toe-to-toe.

There was definitely some home-cooking, but that isn’t to say Alexander didn’t fight well. It’s just that Matthysse fought the better fight and deserved the win.

Left, Alvarez, the young Mexican superstar, stands next to Rhodes, back when his face was still recognizable. From Bleacher Report.

Mexican phenom Saul “Canelo” Alvarez dominated Ryan Rhodes, winning every round before scoring a technical knockout in the twelfth round. Alvares (now 37-0-1, 27 KOs) set up devastating combinations and body blows throughout the night, leaving Rhodes’ (45-5, 31 KOs) face a battered, bruised mess.

The talented twenty year old turned in a more technically impressive fight than his match against Matthew Hatton, showing better defense and ring generalship against Rhodes. Alvares slipped punches and countered Rhodes’ sloppy straights. Rhodes tried to switch to southpaw at times but this backfired, opening him up to more damage. Alvarez scored a knockdown in the fourth and dominated each round after.

Before the twelfth round, Rhodes’ coach yelled at him “You’ve lost every round! You may as well get knocked out!” and told him to go for the knockout. Instead, Alvarez was the one looking to floor his opponent while Rhodes barely mounted an offense. After another brutal combination the ref stepped in and called the fight 48 seconds into the round.

I have to admit, after the Hatton fight, I was convinced Alvarez was all hype. I’m a bit less cynical now, but while he showed technical improvement, he still threw a few wild punches and it’ll take a more impressive and spirited opponent than Rhodes to get me on the bandwagon. Anyone can look like a textbook fighter or hard-hitting slugger against the right opponent, after all. It’ll take more than the HBO hype machine to change my mind.

I don’t know how good he’ll get, but he’ll definitely be an exciting fighter to watch if he gets opponents who’ll fight back.