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Mayweather to take on Ortiz; Pacquiao tune-up? June 8, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Boxing, Sport.
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Just when I thought we’d never see him in the boxing ring again, Floyd Mayweather Jr has suddenly announced that he will take on WBC Welterweight title holder Victor Ortiz on 17 September 2011.

Bogged down by various legal dramas, the last thing I expected was for Mayweather to declare that he was ready to step back in the ring.  He hasn’t fought since defeating Shane Mosley in May 2010, meaning it will be a 16 month lay off for him.

Two ways to look at this.  The first is that Mayweather is needs money but doesn’t want to take on the man everyone wants to see him fight: Manny Pacquiao.

(I won’t go into the history of it all, but essentially negotiations between the two fighters have broken down twice already over additional drug testing procedures, and may or may not have broken down a third or fourth time according to Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum when Mayweather allegedly tried to price himself out by asking for $100 million.  Mayweather’s camp denied further negotiations ever took place, though third parties contradict this denial.  There is also the additional issue of Pacquiao suing Mayweather and his family for defamation for suggesting that Pacquiao is on performance enhancing drugs.)

Mayweather’s decision to take on Ortiz is a curious one because Arum has stated all along that if Mayweather comes to the table, he will be Pacquiao’s number one choice.  No one else matters.  This means that if Mayweather really wanted to fight Pacquiao all he had to do was pick up the phone after Pacquiao’s win over Mosley last month, and the fight would have been made already.

Instead, Mayweather waited until Pacquiao signed to fight Juan Manuel Marquez for a third time on 12 November 2011 before announcing a fight of his own.

More interestingly, Mayweather has refused to fight Pacquiao allegedly because of completely unsubstantiated PED accusations, and yet the man he has chosen to fight, Victor Ortiz, was recently implicated in PEDs by the man he had just beaten, Andre Berto.  Of course, Berto’s assertions were also completely unsubstantiated, but if his suspicions of Pacquiao were sufficient to destroy the megafight, then why not Ortiz too?

The second and more optimistic view is that Mayweather is taking on Ortiz as a tune up for Manny Pacquiao in 2012.  Mayweather undoubtedly will want to shake off some rust after the long lay off, and Ortiz just happens to be a young, strong stud AND a southpaw, something which Pacquiao is also.

I sure hope the second view is the right one and the potentially biggest fight of all time will happen next year!

The Matchup

Apart from Pacquiao, everyone just assumes that Mayweather will win no matter who he fights.  But Ortiz is a dangerous opponent, coming off a solid but close decision win against previously undefeated Andre Berto in April.  He has a strong 29-2-2 (22KOs) record and as mentioned above, is a southpaw, and Mayweather has tended to struggle more against southpaws.

Furthermore, Mayweather is now 34 years old and might be slowing down.  We won’t really know for sure until we see him in the ring, given how long it’s been, but it is possible.  On the other hand, Ortiz is just 24 and appears to have hit his prime after the brutal battle against Berto.

I’d still say the risks are low because of the experience and skill factors, but just like Marquez has a chance of unseating Pacquiao, Ortiz could also shock the world against Mayweather.  For the sake of Mayweather-Pacquiao happening next year, I hope both men can win.

PS: I mentioned in an earlier post the Marquez was to take on David Diaz as a tune up before Pacquiao, but this fight has fallen through because of financial considerations.

Game Review: Fight Night Champion (PS3) May 11, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Game Reviews, Reviews.
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Let me be upfront. You’re going to be reading a lot of complaining in this review.

Fight Night Champion, EA’s follow-up to the popular Fight Night Round 4 (my multi-part review of that game starts here), is a game that can be viewed in two ways. For those who have not played FNR4, the game will probably be the best boxing game you have ever played, whether it’s in terms of graphics, sound, gameplay, game modes or online play. On the other hand, if you already own FNR4, you’ll likely be sorely disappointed. The truth is, while FNC is an undoubted upgrade over FNR4, the improvements are so uninspiring and minor that it makes you wonder why they bothered with it in the first place. Well, apart from the obvious — make more money out of a successful franchise.

FNC Overview

FNC is basically a suped up version of FNR4. The ‘supposed’ improvements included:

  • blood, bruising and swearing;
  • improved gameplay and controls;
  • a new ‘Champion Mode’; and
  • an improved Legacy Mode.

There are still apparently over 50 licensed boxers (I didn’t count, but most of the ones from FNR4 are there, including add-on boxers from puchased updates, plus a couple more, including Tim Bradley and David Haye). Still no Floyd Mayweather Jr, no Juan Manuel Marquez, no Sergio Martinez. Heck, not even Naseem Hamed or Kostya Tszyu. At least you can still create your own or upload ones others have made.

The graphics and sound are, I suppose, also improved. So is the presentation. But they are, by and large, so similar to FNR4 that you won’t really notice them unless you care about minor aesthetic changes or study the game closely.

Let’s take a look at the supposed changes and improvements.

(to read on, click on ‘more…’)

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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.

Pacquiao punishes Margarito over 12 rounds November 14, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Boxing.
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13/11/2010

I’ll expand on this when I get a chance to rewatch the fight, but Manny Pacquiao just shredded Antonio Margarito’s face for 12 rounds, winning a clear cut unanimous decision, 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110.

At times, Margarito seemed as though he might impose his formidable size on Pacquiao, but the smaller man continued to pepper him with rapid combinations and getting out of the way in time.  Pacquiao looked a little gassed in the latter stages of the fight (remember, Pacquiao had a 17 pound disadvantage), but Margarito just kept coming forward no matter how hopeless things had become.

By the end, Margarito’s face was a complete mess, his right eye gruesomely swollen and bruised, and his left eye not that much better.  Pacquiao looked relatively unmarked in comparison, but I’m sure the swelling and bruises will emerge over the next couple of hours.  Margarito did land some big body shots and upper cuts, but the punch numbers were staggeringly one sided.  I don’t have the exact numbers at hand at the moment, but I’m sure Pacquiao landed more than 400 punches, and probably more than 400 power shots.  Pacquiao probably could have killed a bear with those punches, but to Margarito’s credit, he lasted until the end.

Pacquaio was no doubt impressive against a much bigger opponent, but he wasn’t as insanely dominant as he was against his last few opponents.  Though they said Margarito was slow, Pacquiao did get tagged several times, and even admitted in the post-fight interview that he was hurt to the head and body when Margarito pinned him against the ropes.

Does this mean Pacquiao is slowing down?  Or should Margarito be given more credit?  And will Mayweather now have the balls to fight Pacquiao if he stays out of jail?

Update: 14/11/2010

Having watched the fight for the second time, I must say Pacquiao was even more dominant than I initially thought.  Even with a 17 pound weight and 4.5 inch height disadvantage, Pacquiao’s blinding hand speed, accurate combinations and tremendous footwork was more than enough to overcome the game but outclassed Margarito.

I think the way Pacquiao has beaten the likes of De la Hoya, Hatton, Cotto and Clottey make people forget that Pacquiao is still human and has his vulnerabilities — this is what makes him such an exciting boxer to watch because he’s not afraid to take risks to, as he says, give fans an exciting fight.  People forget that Pacquiao had a bit of trouble with Cotto in the first few rounds, and that Clottey hit him with a few good ones as well.  The same can be said for Margarito, a world class fighter in his own right.  Margarito landed some bombs on Pacquiao in the fifth and eighth rounds, for me the only rounds you could say he could have won, but it’s just that he came up short against a much better opponent.

For those who don’t know, Pacquiao’s camp vehemently protested Margarito’s use of a supposed weight-loss supplement before the fight, but the fight went ahead anyway.  If Margarito did use something banned we will find out after the post fight drug test.

Also, after the fight Margarito went straight to the hospital for a check-up.  Turns out Pacquiao fractured Margarito’s eye socket and he had to undergo surgery immediately.  Not surprising considering Pacquiao landed a whopping 474 punches (compared to 229 for Margarito), including an insane 411 power shots.

Fight recap

I think you could make a good argument that Pacquiao won every single round of the 12 round fight.  The first round pretty much went according to plan, with Margarito using a stiff jab and Pacquiao going in and out with solid combinations.  The punch numbers were pretty close, but since most of Margarito’s punches were jabs while Pacquiao’s were power shots, the round easily went to Pacquiao.

The second round, Pacquiao went toe-to-toe a little more, and Margarito landed a few decent shots.  However, while the punch stats were close again for the round, but for a short period when Margarito had Pacquiao on the ropes, Pacquiao had the better command of the round and landed the more telling punches.

Freddie Roach told Pacquiao that it was too early to exchange, so Pacquiao went back to what he does best in the third round, which is using his phenomenal footwork to pepper Margarito all over the ring.  More of the same in the fourth, except Pacquiao really started unloading some bombs that rocked and hurt Margarito, causing him to bend over with body shots and opening up a cut and a nasty welt under the bigger man’s eye.  A furious rally in the fifth by Margarito might have been enough to steal the round for people watching ringside, but on the replay it was clear that it was Pacquiao again that landed the bigger, better shots.

In the middle part of the fight, from about rounds 6 to 8, Pacquiao took his foot off the gas pedal a bit.  I’m not sure if he was really gassed or he was just taking a breather because he knew he didn’t have to take any big risks to win the fight.  Round Eight saw Margarito land his best shots, a few sold hooks and uppercuts when Pacquiao was against the ropes, but even then Pacquiao landed the better punches.

Round Nine onwards, the fight was pretty much meaningless because Pacquiao was just torturing Margarito, who just kept coming forward despite taking the beating of his life.  The doctor was called out a few times to make sure Margarito could continue, and even his corner kept asking him if he wanted to go on.  Of course, the Mexican warrior would never give up.  The fight probably should have been stopped but Margarito kept throwing, so it was hard to deny him the chance of finishing on his feet.

Pacquiao, for his part, looked to the referee a few times to see if the fight could be stopped because Margarito’s face was such a mess.  He admitted after the fight that he was taking it easy in the last round because there was no need to inflict permanent injury on his opponent.  “I told the referee, ‘Look at his eyes, look at his cuts,'” Pacquiao said. “I did not want to damage him permanently. That’s not what boxing is about.”

And rewatching that final round, I believe him — I think Pacquiao could have taken Margarito out if he really wanted to, but instead he danced aroud a lot and didn’t go for the kill.

A masterful performance by Pacquiao.  If Mayweather watched this fight, he might start thinking it’s a better option to go to prison than to face Pacquiao in the ring.

PS: the crowd attendance was poor — only 41,734 people attended the fight, much lower than the expected 60,000 that Bob Arum boldly proclaimed was possible.

Prediction: Pacquiao vs Margarito November 11, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Boxing.
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I know a lot of people are disappointed that the much anticipated Pacquiao-Mayweather fight did not come to fruition, but fortunately on 13 November 2010, we still have an intriguing boxing match to watch between Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito.

As with all of Pacquiao’s recent fights, I’ll be throwing in my two cents worth, though this will be a straight up analysis of the two fighters and what they bring to the table. Margarito might not be a deserving opponent because of the hand wrap scandal, but it is what it is, and I’d like to leave it at that.

The fight will take place at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, where Pacquiao last dominated a timid Joshua Clottey in front of 50000+ people. This will be a catch weight bout at 150 pounds, even though Margarito’s junior middleweight title (which usually has a limit of 154 pounds) will be on the line.

Margarito (38-6, 27 KOs) is coming off a unanimous victory over Roberto Garcia in May, whereas Pacquiao’s (51-3-2, 38 KOs) unanimous decision over Clottey was in March. Margarito is going into his second fight with new trainer Roberto Garcia [Cortez] (yes, almost the same name as the guy he cast beat!), while Pacquaio has been with Freddie Roach for what seems like forever.

Both fighters had solid training camps, though Pacquiao’s camp supposedly had a few distractions because of his congressional duties in the Philippines and the usual craziness that surrounds the man wherever he goes. Roach went as far as calling it the worst training camp Pacquiao’s ever had, but both trainer and fighter claim that things are back on track and that they are 100% prepared.

On fight night, it is likely that the nearly six foot Margarito will enter the ring at between 160-162 pounds, whereas the under five foot seven Pacquiao will likely be around 148 pounds.

With these factors in mind, I’m still going to predict that Pacquiao will defeat Margarito by TKO within the first eight rounds. I don’t necessarily see Pacquiao knocking him down, but I do see the referee stopping the fight because of the relentless pounding that Pacquiao is known to dish to his opponents.

Despite this bold prediction, I must admit I am not entirely comfortable with it. As with almost every Pacquiao bout since David Diaz, I always feel as though something might go wrong — as in Pacquiao may have finally bitten off more than he can chew — but to date he has continued to prove me wrong.  Perhaps this could be the time?

Source: sportales.com

I don’t really buy into the distracted training camp business for Pacquiao, but what I am concerned about is the massive height and weight disparity. Yes, Pacquiao has fought the equally tall Oscar de la Hoya before, but that was at just 145 pounds, whereas Margarito will not be weight drained and have a good 10-15 pound weight advantage on fight night. Accordingly, with Margarito’s ‘come forward’, attacking style and his reputable chin, I can certainly see a scenario where he might be troubled by Pacquiao’s movement and speed, but he will also end up landing his fair share of punches. And if just one of those punches hurts Pacquiao, the much smaller man, the fight could be over in a hurry.

Speaking of speed, Pacquiao clearly has a massive foot and hand advantage over his opponent, but Margarito is not as slow as some people paint him out to be. He throws a lot of punches in relentless combinations, and it will be foolish to think he doesn’t at least stand a puncher’s chance.

The main reason people have written Margarito off is because he was mauled by a 37 year old Shane Mosley, who was made to look pretty quick, and Pacquiao is even faster, perhaps by a fair margin. Further, his most notable victory against Miguel Cotto is now questionable because of the hand wrap scandal.

However, people tend to forget that the Mosley loss was at welterweight, meaning Margarito was likely weight drained, and more importantly, his mind must have been all over the place after what happened in the dressing room. It’s certainly not an excuse for the brutal loss, but it does leave a question mark over whether Margarito was operating at full capacity. On the other hand, Margarito’s return bout against Garcia was not exactly dominating, so perhaps I’m not giving Mosley or Margarito’s hand wraps enough credit!

Don’t forget, after the De la Hoya fight, when Freddie Roach was asked about a potential fight with Margarito he dismissed it outright, saying the Mexican was too big for Manny and that they knew their limits.  Could this come back to haunt him?

Ultimately, I think if Pacquiao can stick to Roach’s meticulous gameplan (as he usually does), he should be able to win easily.  I presume we will see a slightly more cautious Margarito in the earlier rounds because he’ll be gauging Manny’s speed and try to wear him down so that he can take him out in the later rounds.  As long as Pacquiao uses his trademark speed, stay off the ropes, keeping turning his man and go in and out all night, he should be able to pepper Margarito into a beehive with his rapid-fire combinations.  But if he thinks he can trade blows with Margarito or lay against the ropes like he did at times against Cotto, I think it could prove to be a fatal mistake.

Both boxers are relentless offensively, so it should be a very entertaining fight.  The question is, win or lose, will this be Pacquiao’s last (especially if Mayweather goes to prison for a few years?)?

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