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Fight Prediction: Pacquiao vs Mosley (7 May 2011) May 6, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Boxing, Sport.
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We’re only a couple of days out from the much (not) anticipated welterweight fight between pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao and ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley on the 7th of June. Given that most boxing purists wanted to see Pacquiao take on Juan Manuel Marquez (as Floyd Mayweather Jr is, um, unavailable), the buzz for this fight has been surprisingly muted. Nevertheless, I’m going to do the usual and throw in my 2 cents on how I predict the fight will turn out.

Conventional wisdom suggests that a 32 year-old, in the prime of his life boxer that hasn’t lost since 2005 and has been demolishing everyone in his path like Team 6 on Osama’s compound, will walk through an almost 40, seemingly over the hill legend who has a one sided loss and an unwatchable draw in his last two fights. That’s basically what the Pacquiao-Mosley fight looks like — at least on paper.

But I’m slightly more intrigued by this fight than most others. I usually have my doubts before every Pacquiao fight, but this one more so than the others. It’s almost an irrational al doubt, considering Pacquiao is on top of his game and Mosley is clearly on the decline, but you can never count out a future Hall of Fame legend.

That said, Pacquiao appears to have an overwhelming edge in this match up when you break it down.

First of all, Pacquiao is 32, and has shown no signs of slowing down in his last few fights, knocking out David Diaz, Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto before coasting to easy unanimous victories against Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito. Some say he would have knocked out Clottey had defensive fighter threw some punches instead of covering up all night, and Magarito if Manny didn’t take his foot off the pedal out of apparent sympathy for his opponent.

Mosley, on the other hand, has not done much after his unexpected brutal beat down of Margarito back in January 2009 (which some consider overrated since Margarito didn’t have loaded gloves and probably had other things on his mind after being caught out in the dressing room). Then, apart from a big second round, Mosley was thoroughly dismantled by Floyd Mayweather Jr (and it’s sad to think that fight might be Mayweather’s last fight EVER), before stinking out the joint in a pathetic draw against Sergio Mora. So in terms of current form, Pacquiao looks to have a major advantage. It’s not even close.

Secondly, Pacquiao has a tremendous advantage in speed, like he does against most opponents. Offensively, he is in and out, lightning quick, throws dazzling multiple-punch combinations and power shots from unorthodox angles, and gets the hell out of there before his opponent even knows what hit him. Pacquiao’s opponents can’t see his punches, which is what makes him so lethal. Speed kills, and Pacquiao has possibly the fastest hands and feet in the business.

Turning 40 in September, Mosley has clearly slowed down a lot. Back in his prime, he was considered a speedy fighter in his own right, but even at his fastest he isn’t as quick as Pacquiao is now. Now, Mosley still has some speed, but the question is whether he is still able to pull the trigger when he needs to. It’s one thing to be able to see the openings, but it’s another to have the reflexes to do something about it in time. Nothing from his recent performances suggest Mosley has that ability anymore.

Thirdly, and probably the key factor here, is that Pacquiao appears to have unlimited stamina, whereas Mosley has a tendency to run out of gas and fade in the second half of his fights. This means that Mosley’s chances of winning a decision are minimal. The longer this fight goes on, the more it will favour Pacquiao and the more hopeless it will get for Mosley.

Fourthly, Pacquiao is reportedly 100% focused for this fight. Despite all the distractions in his life, the politics, the acting, the singing and the philanthropy, Pacquiao has, according to his trainer Freddie Roach, had one of his best training camps ever. I thought Mosley might have had an opportunity if Pacquiao had a bad camp or if he was overlooking or underestimating Mosley, but it looks like Pacquiao will be ready. Pacquiao has had interrupted and disjointed camps before and still came out firing, so having had a great camp spells trouble for Mosley.

Fifth, the perennial trainer of the year, Freddie Roach. The two are like brothers (or father and son) and trust each other with their lives. That kind of bond is what makes Pacquiao so hard to beat. Roach always devises a perfect game plan for each Pacquiao opponent, and Pacquiao always follows it to perfection (except that one time when he wanted to test Cotto’s power). Now, Mosley’s trainer Nazim Richardson is definitely no slouch, but most would agree that Pacquiao has the edge when it comes to their respective corners.

When you put all these factors together, it’s hard to see Mosley giving Pacquiao any real trouble, but Mosley may have a couple of advantages. Mosley has never been knocked out before, and he recovers quickly from damage. The guy is rock solid and is not afraid to take punishment. It is very possible that Mosley has the better chin and ability to absorb punches.

However, I don’t think Pacquiao is necessarily much further behind in the endurance department. He may have been vulnerable at the lower weight classes, but at welterweight he has shown that he can take a punch or two. Guys like Margarito and Cotto are powerful punchers and Pacquiao took their best shots (sometimes intentionally).

Another area where Mosley might have the edge is punching power. In his prime, Mosley was a knockout artist, and even now still possesses a nasty right hook that can crack jaws. We saw against Margarito and in that second round against Mayweather that Mosley still has the power to hurt and KO opponents if he lands the big punch, the chopping overhand right.

Pacquiao showed against Hatton and Cotto that he too has knockout power in both hands, especially the left, but his power is generated from his blinding speed rather than brute force. Interestingly, I recall David Diaz (who was knocked out by Pacquiao) saying that he wasn’t troubled by Pacquiao’s power but by his speed. Similarly, Margarito said to his corner during the fight that Pacquiao can’t hurt him, thug his bloodied and battered face suggested otherwise. So I don’t think Mosley has a clear advantage here, but I will day one thing: I do believe Mosley has a bigger chance of hurting or knocking out Pacquiao with one big punch than the other way around.

What about defense? Fundamentally speaking, Mosley has the better defense. Pacquiao is a willing punch trader because he can usually and twice as many punches in the same span of time, and that leaves him open to be tagged, even if it might be a lucky punch. But we have also seen Pacquiao’s defense improve significantly over the last few years. His footwork is what saves him most of the time, turning his opponents before they can set up their punches. The good thing for Pacquiao is that Mosley is not much of a combination puncher, as least no where near what he used to be. And because of their respective offensive capabilities, I have a feeling that it will be easier for Pacquiao to find the gaps in Mosley’s defense than it will be for Mosley to find gaps in Pacquiao’s defense.

Accordingly, the only indisputable advantage Mosley has over Pacquiao is size. Mosley is a legit 5’9″ with a true welterweight body and reach, while Pacquiao is 5’6.5″ and with an evidently smaller frame. So it is possible that size could be a factor but let’s face it, Pacquiao always fights bigger guys these days, and none of them have had success.

So where does that leave us? How will the fight pan out on Saturday night?

Prediction

I think Pacquiao will be the first to stop Mosley, most likely in the later rounds. Most people think Pacquiao will probably coast to an easy points decision but I just can’t see Mosley survive for that long before the fight is stopped, either by the referee or his corner or the doctor. Mosley is not a guy that backs down easily, so I can see him continue to take punishment until someone stops the fight on his behalf. His face could be a puffy, bloody mess before the night is over. The only way he survives is if Pacquiao goes easy on him once the fight is well in hand.

Does Mosley have a chance? Yes, this is boxing, there’s always a chance. And I would even go as far to say that Mosley has a better chance than Clottey or Margarito. It’s that looping overhand right that gives Mosley a glimmer of hope, a puncher’s chance. I’ve seen that hook penetrate defenses. I’ve seen it do major damage. I know it can hurt Pacquiao. The question is whether Mosley will have the opportunity to land it.

Both guys like to give fans a show (if we discount Mosley’s horrendous Mora fight, though the majority of the blame should go to Mora), so as long as Pacquiao keeps coming forward, Mosley will have a shot, but given Mosley’s tendency to run out of steam, each passing round will diminish the odds. Therefore, Mosley’s best chance is an early round KO, and/or a miracle. Once he tires after the fifth or six round, it could become a slaughter.

Anyway, as they always say, styles make fights, so I am confident we’ll see a great show no matter what happens.

How I would have judged the 2011 NBA Dunk Contest February 21, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, NBA, Sport.
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Source: theprovince.com

By now everyone knows that Blake Griffin won the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.  But did he deserve to win it over the likes of JaVale McGee, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka, each of whom threw down some excellent dunks of their own?

Here’s how I would have judged each dunk from the the dunk comp yesterday.

(to read on and see each dunk, click on ‘more…’)

(more…)

Thoughts on Bieber winning Celeb MVP, Griffin Dunk Comp February 20, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, NBA, Sport.
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2011 Getty Images

I was pretty excited for this year’s NBA All Star Weekend, even though not a single player from my Indiana Pacers made any of the events (I thought at least one of Paul George, Darren Collison or Tyler Hansbrough would have made the Rookie/Sophomore game).  The reason?  Blake Griffin.

For those who don’t follow the NBA, Griffin is this year’s lock for Rookie of the Year — a 6’10”, 251 pound freak of nature that jumps and dunks over everything in sight.  He was actually drafted last year but missed the entire season with a broken kneecap.  Now he’s back and wrecking havoc on the league.  Here’s a video of some of his dunks.  Remember that he has only played in 56 games in his entire NBA career so far.

The other reason is because I wanted to see teen hearthrob Justin Bieber (generously listed at 5’5″) play in the celeb game — not because I’m a fan of the kid, but because I was genuinely fascinated by whether he’ll embarrass himself in front of his millions of adoring fans.

Here’s a video of Bieber tearing up the court in a Proactiv commercial.  I’m not kidding.

Well, I can honestly say I did not come away disappointed.  Bieber’s boxscore was uninspiring (8 points on 3-11 shooting, with 4 assists and 2 rebounds) and his team lost 54-49, but he still managed to win the Celeb game MVP because it’s an award voted by the fans.  The highlight of the night was when the Biebs was rejected by Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen while going up for a jumpshot.  Bieber elevated and tried to shoot but Scottie swung his arm out at about chest level and smacked the crap out of the shot.  Hilarious.  Scottie was even congratulated by former Pacer Jalen Rose for the fantastic rejection.

On the other hand, Griffin participated in the Slam Dunk Contest today as part of All-Star Saturday.  He already played in the Rookie/Sophomore game the day before and will be a reserve in the proper All-Star Game tomorrow.  Given that they were win LA given his popularity, Griffin was a heavy favourite to win the comp, where the final round is voted by the fans.  His opponents were relatively unheralded — JaVale McGee (Washington), DeMar DeRozan (Toronto) and Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City) — but Griffin’s presence alone was enough to make this the most anticipated Dunk Comp since Vince Carter brought the house down with some of his classic dunks (since then it’s been a bit of a farce as the comps have focused more on style than substance).

As expected, Griffin won the comp (against McGee in the final), and while he may have deserved it overall, he probably didn’t even have one of the best 3 dunks of the night.  Each of McGee, DeRozan and Ibaka had some sick jams that didn’t get the respect or scores they deserved, while Griffin had a bit of hometown judging to help him out.

That’s not to say Griffin didn’t have some amazing dunks.  His first one of the night was an example of how freakishly athletic he is — a twisting 360 degree two-handed slam with the ball brought back behind his head.  His second dunk of the first round saw a teammate toss the ball off the backboard support — he caught it in mid-air and windmilled it through.

In the second round, he threw the ball off the backboard and went up so high that he dunked his entire forearm through the hoop ala Vince Carter — but this was more impressive because it was off the backboard, he went up higher, and there was a lot more power (so much so that he had a welt on his arm from it).

His final dunk brought everyone to his feet even before he attempted it — they drove a car out onto the court and had a gospel choir singing at halfcourt.  Griffin took a run up and leaped over the hood of the car, just as Baron Davis passed him the ball through the car’s sun roof.  Griffin caught the ball in mid-air and slammed it down two-handed.  To be honest, that description made the dunk sound better than it really was.  It was, after all, a jump over the hood of the car (as opposed to the top of it), though the presentation deserved props as did the fact that it was a potentially dangerous attempt by someone who just recovered from a broken kneecap.

Griffin got scores of 49 and 46 for his first two dunks, which I believe were about right — only if they scored the dunks of his opponents with as much generosity. If they did, I don’t think Griffin would have made the second round (more on this in my next post) — actually, you could even make an argument that Griffin was the fourth-best dunker in that first round.

Griffin’s two dunks in the secound round were not scored as the result was decided by fan voting (he got 68% of the vote to edge out McGee), though I believe he deserved the nod — only because McGee’s second dunk was a run-of-the-mill (if you can call it that) off the backboard, one-handed slam.  If he left one of his spectacular first round dunks for the second round, I believe he should have won it.

Anyway, here are the highlights.

More to come.

Anything to avoid writing February 16, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Blogging, Misc, NBA, Novel, On Writing.
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Only recently have I come to appreciate just how hard it is to be a ‘writer’.

Sure, it’s fun to ramble on and write on this blog with no regard for what is ‘good writing’, but when it comes to the serious stuff (such as my dorment novels or proper articles), I have a real talent for avoiding it.  Make no mistake — I want to write.  That’s why I quit my old profession and began this path.  I have absolutely no doubt about that.  But somehow, I just keep finding new ways to stop myself from getting down to business (as I like to call it).

Perhaps it’s the fear of failure.  Or maybe it’s the fear of getting started (after all, it is extremely daunting).  Or maybe I’m just a lazy bum.

Lately I’ve been coming up with all sorts of excuses for not working on my ‘serious’ writing.  It’s the holidays.  My folks are in town.  I have video games I haven’t played yet.  I need to finish reading books X, Y and Z.  There are movies I need to see, preferably before the Oscars.  I should watch more live basketball on NBA League Pass.  I should learn about the stock market.  The foreign exchange market.  Enter competitions.  The house needs new furniture (which is true).  I should write a blog post about not writing.

One of my many New Year’s resolutions was to read (books) and write (books) an hour a day.  Two-plus months in, and still nothing.  I have been reading more than an hour a day the last few days, but only because it’s Anne Frank’s diary and it’s bloody brilliant.  But writing?  No. Not as such.  Almost makes me wish I could be locked away somewhere like Anne where it’s so boring that there’s nothing to do but write.

Over this break, I’ve sunk to a new low — exercise (the only thing worse is cleaning up the house).  I tell myself it’s to keep fit, but it’s really just another excuse.  And as a result, I’ve been exercising a lot.  More than I ever did than when I had (or could afford) a gym membership.  Maybe it will get me physically prepared for all the gruelling writing sessions ahead…

Bieber to take on Costanza at 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend! February 2, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, NBA.
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The NBA All-Star Celebrity Game which will take place in LA this year is going to be a cracker.

Forget about Hall-of-Famers Scottie Pippen and Bill Walton playing — they have just announced that teen heart throb Justin Bieber (who may or may not have hit puberty recently) is attending, along with my favourite TV star Jason Alexander (aka George Costanza from Seinfeld).

Bieber, despite his diminutive size, actually appears to be a pretty good little baller.  Check out the videos below.  The first one is him playing one-on-one against Usher, who looks like he absolutely tanked it against his protege.  The second is more believable and shows a young(er) Bieber playing in a tournament.

As for Costanza, from what I remember from Seinfeld he was a bit of a ‘chucker’.  I wonder if he trained with shoes from the clip below.

The thought of a Bieber vs Costanza duel makes this year’s All-Star Weekend a must watch.

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