Monday, 26th August 2019

Top 11 Non-Actor Performances in the Rocky Franchise

Posted on 06. Jul, 2018 by FSM Staff in Boxing, General Sports

Top 11 Non-Actor Performances in the Rocky Franchise

To celebrate the much anticipated release of Creed II this Thanksgiving, the following Top 11 list ranks the best on-screen performances of professional athletes and sports personalities appearing in the ROCKY and CREED movies. Spoiler alert coming…most people on this list are professional fighters. The rest are sports personalities who have had heavy involvement in professional sports in some way. No one on this list is a working actor, so don’t send in complaints about Mr. T being excluded. Furthermore, each person on this list had more than 10 seconds of screen time so the same goes for any complaints about Smokin’ Joe Frazier being left off. It’s not that serious people. Just sit back and enjoy these rankings and make sure to catch CREED II this Thanksgiving!

#11 Gabriel Rosado as Leo “The Lion” Sporino (CREED)
In a case of art imitating real life, Gabriel Rosado was given the task of playing the gatekeeper to bigger and better fights for main character Adonis Creed in the seventh installment of the franchise titled CREED. In simple terms, gatekeepers in boxing are generally B+ level fighters that the up and comers need to get through before moving to fight more established superstars. In real life, Rosado played stepping stone to the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Peter Quillin, and David Lemieux. In the movie world, Leo Sporino posed a tough test for Adonis Creed who was fighting professionally for the first time on American soil. Rosado played his small part well, took some cool looking punches (that shovel hook!), and most importantly, made Adonis Creed’s character look good in the ring. Click here to watch Sporino versus Creed.

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#10 Michael Williams as Union Cane (ROCKY V)
Rocky V was released so long ago, most people have long forgotten about Michael Williams by now. Heck, most people didn’t know who he was in the first place when the movie debuted in theaters in 1990. Williams, a real life professional heavyweight at the time, played the paper champion Union Cane who was quickly vanquished by the film’s antagonist, Tommy Gunn. As a professional, Williams was a rising prospect who could never quite get over the hump, losing bouts to fighters such as Buster Douglas and Corrie Sanders. As an actor, he played the paper champion to perfection which included expressing a delusional overconfidence that he could beat Gunn then turning into a human punching bag when the actual fight took place. The fight itself was crucial to the plot of the movie as Gunn becomes the new heavyweight champion while a betrayed and slightly brain damaged Rocky watches it all from the basement of his home. Bonus points to the wardrobe people for having Cane’s everyday look consist of a turtle neck/blazer combo, gold chain, and flat top hair style. Click here to watch Cane versus Gunn.

#9 Andre Ward as Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler (CREED)
The recently retired Andre Ward was a pound-for-pound superstar who flew under the radar during his career due to his good manners and lack of flare. Ward isn’t too different from his Wheeler character in CREED who calmly and coolly walks into the gym and gives Adonis Creed a harsh reality check in the form of a sparring session KO. Ward played his small part well, including his scenes with fellow professional Tony Bellew, and effectively garnered interest in a possible Wheeler-Creed showdown in the future. Click here to watch Andre Ward KO Michael B. Jordan.

#8 Lou DiBella as himself (ROCKY BALBOA)
In the sixth installment of the franchise, an aging Rocky needs a little extra convincing to get back into the ring with the reigning heavyweight in the film, played by Antonio Tarver. Can you think of anyone better to give Rocky this extra push than Lou DiBella? DiBella is a real life boxing promoter (DiBella Entertainment) who is generally loved and respected by everyone in the fight game. Some of the more notable pugilists associated with his stable include Sergio Martinez, Andy Lee, and Deontay Wilder. DiBella’s acting skills are certainly not as good as his promoting skills but his performance was solid enough to add value and a touch of realism to this film. Click here to watch DiBella do this thing.

#7 Larry Merchant as himself (ROCKY BALBOA)
Most people love themselves some Larry Merchant. You ask why? Maybe it’s because he is in the crazy old man phase of his life (a phase going on 25 years) and he does things like tell Floyd Mayweather Jr. live on HBO that he would kick his butt if he were just a few years younger. Though Larry Merchant only appeared in Rocky Balboa as a color commentator for the final fight, his short performance was memorable for the many scripted zingers it produced. It doesn’t matter that Merchant sounded like he was reading straight from a cue card. His memorable lines include referring to the bout as an execution instead of an exhibition, questioning if Balboa took his arthritis medication before the bout, and of course welcoming everyone to “Rocky-Land”. Honorable mention goes out to HBO boxing commentators Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman as well for making the final bout between Rocky Balboa and Mason Dixon one of the most memorable of all 7 films. Click here to listen to Jim, Max, and Larry provide flawless commentary during the final round of Balboa-Dixon.

#6 Hulk Hogan as Thunderlips (ROCKY III)
The story goes that the folks running the World Wrestling Foundation (currently the WWE) were so upset with Hogan’s decision to appear in Rocky III that he was blacklisted from the WWF for a short period of time. It was only when the owner’s son, Vince McMahon Jr., took control of the wrestling promotion that Hogan was invited back with open arms. Perhaps McMahon saw something in Hogan’s bigger-than-life performance as Thunderlips, the hulk of a man who beat Rocky mercilessly as part of a charity event in the film. Hogan was even good on the microphone, dubbing the match “the ultimate man versus the ultimate meatball”. Though the scenes were ultimately a bit over-the-top (Stallone movie reference), they were quite enjoyable nonetheless. Click here to watch Rocky turn the tables on Thunderlips.

#5 Leroy Neiman as Ring Announcer/Himself (ROCKY III, IV, V, ROCKY BALBOA)
Much like his contributions to the Rocky franchise, famous sports artist and painter Leroy Neiman super glues this list together at #5. Neiman (and his moustache) made appearances as a ring announcer in a few of the films announcing bouts like Balboa versus Thunderlips and Creed versus Drago. However, it’s his artwork that has been far more influential on the franchise as a whole than his on-screen performances. Hardcore fans will recognize Neiman’s colorful mural displayed at the end of Rocky III, the same one that makes its way on to the wall of Adrian’s restaurant in the sixth and seventh installments of the franchise. One doesn’t have to look too closely during Donny and Rocky’s first encounter in Creed to see Neiman’s classic painting looming in the background. Click here to watch Leroy Neiman’s mic drop moment (at the 1:19 mark).

#4 Tony Bellew as “Pretty” Ricky Conlon (CREED)
Tony Bellew plays himself in the movie CREED. But for some reason they kept referring to him as “Pretty” Ricky Conlon the entire time. All kidding aside, Bellew does an excellent job of playing a very likeable villain that Adonis Creed can’t quite vanquish in the film. Bellew’s acting during the press conference scene was hilarious as he roasted the young Creed the entire time. His performance in the ring during the film’s finale was even more impressive as he was able to work with Michael B. Jordan to create a very realistic and exciting fight. Bellew’s presence was definitely a factor in the moments building up to the climax of the film. If you enjoyed the Conlon character you will likely also enjoy the real thing. Bellew has experienced a bit of a career resurgence in the last few years, including knock outs of fellow countryman David Haye in a pair of bouts at heavyweight. Click here to watch Pretty Ricky got to war with Adonis Creed.

#3 Stu Nahan as himself (Rocky I, II, III, IV, V, ROCKY BALBOA)
Perhaps the biggest underdog on this list, California sportscaster Stu Nahan cracks the top three thanks to his history of providing blow-by-blow analysis for some of the franchise’s most significant fights. In fact, Stu Nahan is one of only a select few who appeared in every one of the first six films. He was there when Rocky took on Apollo in the first two films, Clubber Lang in the rematch for the third one, and was the commentator during the unfortunate Ivan Drago murder incident in Rocky IV. He even made his way into Rocky Balboa as the voice heard commentating the computer generated “cartoon” fight between Mason Dixon and Rocky. Nahan does his job so well that he largely goes unnoticed in the films. He serves as a great narrator during the fights, offering insights into what each fighter is thinking while keeping the dramatic pace going. He pulls it all off without sounding overly frenetic or cliché. Click here to listen to Stu Nahan provide commentary for the “cartoon fight” (Uncle Paulie’s words).

#2 Antonio Tarver as Mason “The Line” Dixon (ROCKY BALBOA)
Most known for his stunning upset knockout of Roy Jones Jr., Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver had to put on a few pounds to look like a heavyweight for the film Rocky Balboa. Unfortunately, he was never quite able to regain his form after the film and his boxing career began a steady decline. That buzzkill aside, Tarver delivered above expectations as Rocky’s final foe in what many thought would be the end of the franchise. As Mason “The Line” Dixon, he is prominently featured from the outset of the movie. He plays the role of a slightly bitter, underappreciated champion well and the final bout with Rocky is possibly the best fight of all seven films. The action in the ring is as impressive as Tarver’s ability to stand side-by-side with Stallone during the pre-fight press conference and the scene right after the weigh in. We’re not making a case for a golden globe, but Tarver definitely didn’t seem like just another athlete trying to act. Click here to see Mason “The Line” Dixon try to psyche out Rocky.

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#1 Tommy Morrison as Tommy “The Machine” Gunn (ROCKY V)
When making the argument for Tommy Morrison being #1 on this list, context matters – a lot. ROCKY V is easily the weakest installment in the franchise, as the masses had a hard time stomaching a severely compromised Rocky Balboa. Why Sylvester Stallone decided to meddle with his formula is anyone’s guess. One would think even a street fight deserves its own training montage. Yet, Tommy Morrison was a bright spot in this film, deserving to make #1 on this list based on screen time alone. The year was 1990 and bad acting was a thing. Morrison’s performance hovers around B movie territory which is forgivable during this era of film when the late 80’s and early 90’s collided. For having to help carry the movie (he is the only Rocky opponent to spend significant time with Rocky’s family), the 21-year-old delivered in his big screen debut. His physical appearance lived up to his Machine Gunn nickname and his mullet, well, it was mesmerizing. His bad acting was bearable considering it was 1990 and was not the reason why this movie ended up being a stinker in the eyes of the mainstream. At the end of the day, fans were treated to a satisfying montage of video game style KOs during Gunn’s ascension and some great scenes between Rocky, Tommy, and Uncle Paulie. A few years after Rocky V, Tommy Morrison the real boxer would go on to win the world heavyweight championship by beating the legendary George Foreman. Sadly, his career was derailed 3 years later when he was diagnosed with HIV in 1996. His tragic final years are documented in the superb 30 FOR 30 documentary Tommy. Click here to see Uncle Paulie call Tommy Gunn a piece of garbage.

Retro Reviews: The Fighter

Posted on 05. Jul, 2018 by FSM Staff in Boxing, General Sports

Retro Reviews: The Fighter

Based on the life of boxing favorite “Irish” Mickey Ward, The Fighter fails to deliver the knockout blow which could have made it an instant classic with moviegoers this holiday season. Much like Ward’s professional career, The Fighter flirts with greatness but falls just a hair short when all is said and done.

The timeline and some of the events presented in this tale are inaccurate but nothing that is too atypical for a movie “based on a true story.” Overall, The Fighter gets the point across and the viewer leaves the theater with a good Cliff’s Notes version of the Mickey Ward story.

For a movie about a fast paced sport like boxing, this film trudges along at a snail’s pace. The fighting scenes are spectacularly exhilarating though they are few and far between and when they do pop up, they are short lived. The bulk of this film is a series of surreal interactions between Mickey Ward, his family, and of course the obligatory love interest.

This is definitely not the first boxing movie that is not about boxing. The original Rocky film did an excellent job of telling a love story using the darker side of the sport as a backdrop. The Fighter attempts to employ the same strategy but there is simply too much going on in the movie. Is this film about a dysfunctional family? A drug addict brother? A man who has lost the belief in himself? By trying to go in so many different directions, the movie spreads itself thin and ends up lacking in substance.

In terms of acting, there are a few strong performances, most notably Christian Bale as Dickie Ekland, the half-brother of Mickey Ward who is battling crack addiction. Melissa Leo (of Homicide: Life on the Street fame) also delivers as Ward’s mother who is both loveable and annoying to the viewer, often times simultaneously. And Mark Wahlberg is his typical, average, muscular self. He does well during the tough guy scenes and fails miserably when trying to invoke that sense of drama which really would have made this flick reach the next level.

Despite all the hype and Golden Globe nominations (it seems like the only prerequisite these days to get nominated is that a film is released in December), The Fighter is a movie you can wait to see in the comfort of your own home for a fraction of the price.

FreeSportsMagazine gives The Fighter a grade of B-

Conor McGregor knocks down Paulie Malignaggi

Posted on 11. Aug, 2017 by FSM Staff in Boxing, UFC

Conor McGregor knocks down Paulie Malignaggi

The internet is buzzing with the recent news of Conor McGregor’s knockdown of seasoned professional boxer Paulie Malignaggi during a sparring sessions. As everyone knows, Connor McGregor will be the first MMA fighter ever to fight Floyd Money Mayweather in a few weeks in Las Vegas.

Could this all be an elaborate WWE-style hoax to drum up interest in an uncompetitive fight with lagging ticket sales? Is Paulie coming back at Conor with fake beef for releasing pictures of him getting whooped? We’ve seen Paulie complain like this after the fact before, during the Adrian Broner post fight interview when AB revealed he was hooking up with one of Paulie’s girls.

Check out evidence of the knockdown for yourself.

The Final 1: Executioner’s Last Stand

Posted on 28. Oct, 2016 by FSM Staff in Boxing, General Sports

The Final 1: Executioner’s Last Stand

It’s official – Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins will return at age 51 to claim his final victim.

The victim is a young lion named Joe Smith Jr., and despite the generic name, he is no pushover. In fact this Joe Smith (22-1, 18 KOs) recently knocked out light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara in a single round.

The fight, being dubbed the “Final 1″ by promoter Golden Boy will take place on December 17 at the Forum in Inglewood, California. The week leading up to the bout will be full of fan festivities celebrating the career of Hopkins. Below is a statement exclusively from none other than the Golden Boy himself, Oscar De La Hoya:

“As you know, we are calling this the “Final 1,” and Bernard has expressed this is the final one. We are really excited to be putting together this card. We want to thank HBO for putting this card together.

“December 17th will be historical. I want to say coming out party, but it will be the last hoorah, as a champion goes out in his terms, in his way. Only legends can do that and superstars who transcend the sport.

“What excited me about this fight is that Bernard is not fighting someone who is a walk in the park, he is fighting a difficult fight, and this gentleman has every opportunity in the book to win and win a world title. This is Hopkins, this is who Hopkins chose. Joe Smith Jr. has an amazing record and an outstanding knockout percentage that is unheard of in his division.

photo credit: Tom Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

“Hopkins will be an athlete that will transcend the sport, not just for what he has accomplished in the ring, but for outside of it, and that is huge. I am very excited and happy that this fight will be taking place in an arena where I began my professional career. It is an honor for me and thank you for giving Los Angeles and Angelenos an opportunity to watch this fight.

“Leading up to the event, we have some great events coming up. The annual Oscar De La Hoya Foundation Toy Giveaway will be taking place the day of the fight. We want to get the community involved, not only because yours truly is from here and I began my career here-but because we are celebrating a legend, such as Bernard in a way he should be honored.

“Part of the festivities leading up to the December 17th fight will be a card on December 16th on HBO Latino at one of the best casinos in California, Fantasy Springs Resort Casino,

“At Golden Boy, we are very proud to grow our young fighters. Rios vs. Tapia wasn’t an easy fight to make, because we have developed these fighters, but you have to make great fights for the fans and this will be an exciting fight to watch

“On December 16th, I think it is best to promote one of the best divisions in boxing today, the middleweight division. I acknowledge Jason Quigley, who is here today as an undefeated middleweight fighter.

“The main event fight on December 16th has a potential to be a Fight of the Year candidate, in a very hot division-light heavyweight division. Ever since I saw Shabranskyy, who I nicknamed ‘Chingonskyy’ I have seen something in him, with his finesse in the ring. He is a very special fighter and he is facing an experienced, durable fighter in Sullivan Barrera.

“Thank you to our sponsor, Tecate. I am proud to announce that Tecate will be sponsoring boxing in a whole new way in 2017, everyone will be blown away by how they will bring boxing to the next level.

“What makes Bernard Hopkins is that he doesn’t stop, he keeps going and surprises people. He would continue until he was 60 if he could, that’s what a legend is, he takes care of himself and keeps going.”

Golden Boy Exclusive: Amir “King” Khan Transcript

Posted on 21. Apr, 2016 by FSM Staff in Boxing, Highlight

Golden Boy Exclusive: Amir “King” Khan Transcript

The fight that seemingly came out of nowhere is almost upon us. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will take on Amir “King” Khan at the new T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas in what is easily the most anticipated fight of the spring. Since the good folks at FreeSportsMag know a guy who knows a guy, audio of King Khan’s recent conference call promoting the fight was sent to us exclusively from Golden Boy Promotions.

The fast punching Khan is predicting an upset over everyone’s darling, Canelo Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KO) when they meet next month for their middleweight bout. The entire transcript of Khan’s call is presented below. If you’ve taken too many punches to the head and would rather just listen to it on your iPod, you can click here for the mp3 version.

OSCAR DE LA HOYA, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions:   Thank you for joining us today on this international media conference call for 2004 Olympic silver medal winner and former two-time world champion Amir “King” Khan.  As you know, Amir Khan will battle Canelo Alvarez for the WBC and Ring Magazine Lineal Middleweight Championship which will be on Cinco de Mayo weekend on May 7th, live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and if you can’t make it to Las Vegas, you can watch it on HBO Pay-Per-View.
We’re really excited once again to be working with Amir Khan, and as you know, Golden Boy Promotions is the exclusive promoter to Canelo-Khan, and we are thrilled that Amir Khan is once again working with us.
This fight is all about speed and power, and history has shown us that these types of fights make for an exciting one, action-packed fight.  I’ve said it before:  This fight takes me back to Maidana, who had Amir in a really, really tough fight, and Khan with his amazing footwork and speed and strength, you know, he was able to be victorious.
We are extremely thrilled and excited, and we certainly can’t wait for May 7th. I do want to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors, Cerveza Tecate, “Born Bold,” O’Reilly Auto Parts, Casa Mexico Tequila, and DOOM, “Fight Like Hell,” on May 13th.  All of the marketing, if you haven’t seen it yet, will start kicking in in these next couple of days.  They are doing a tremendous, tremendous job on a global scale to make sure that everyone knows about this tremendous, tremendous fight.
Tickets are still available, and they are moving fast.  We expect a sellout, a sellout crowd.  We expect a lot of Brits.  We expect a lot of wonderful fans from all over the world supporting these two great fighters.  If you haven’t gotten your tickets, they are moving fast.
The person I will introduce to you now I’m happy to call a friend, a man that I’ve always admired.  He’s brought up Amir Khan in such a way that a lot of people should be envious about.  He is Amir’s father and manager, and that is Shah Khan.  Shah?
SHAH KHAN, Father and Manager of Amir Khan:  Hi, everybody, and thank you for coming online for this media conference call.
Yeah this is a tough challenge for him, and Amir is up for the challenge.  The interest in the UK is incredible.  Massive interest, just alone, just from the office, we’ve sold like 1,000 tickets, you know, not talking about the ticket — or the ticket outlets, and it’s a massive interest in the UK, and I’m looking forward to it.  It’s going to be a great night for boxing.
The preparations are going really, really well, and Amir is really up for this fight, and it’s going to be a great fight, two great fighters.  You’ve got power and you’ve got speed, and I think it’s going to be easily a contenders’ fight in boxing.  Thank you.
OSCAR DE LA HOYA:  Thank you very much, Shah.  Next up to say a few words, he really needs no introduction.  He’s trained some of the top fighters in the world today, and my hat’s off to him for doing a wonderful job a couple of weeks ago with probably one of the top fighters on the planet today, so let me introduce to you Amir’s trainer, Virgil Hunter.
VIRGIL HUNTER, Trainer to Amir Khan:   Thanks, Oscar.  Hello, everyone.  Once again, glad to be part of such a big, big event in boxing, a sport that I love.
Amir is having a great training camp in preparation for a fight that we know is a very dangerous fight, and I commend him and his courage and his insight on taking the fight and thanking everybody who is involved, and looking forward to seeing everyone May 7th.
OSCAR DE LA HOYA:  Thank you very much, Virgil.  And now the man of the hour.  He’s Britain’s top fighter, Amir “King” Khan.  He was catapulted into the media spotlight after winning the silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and he went on to turn pro the following year in July of 2005 with a first-round technical knockout victory over Phil Edwards, which obviously has taken him to the top of the sport.  Amir Khan is a fighter who is a technical challenge, is a fighter who wants to fight the best, is a fighter who has been a multiple world champion, and yes, he continues to work hard and can push himself to new heights and push himself to the limit.  He’s the kind of fighter who I personally have admired ever since he turned pro, ever since I saw him in the Olympic Games, and so I want to introduce to you a man who, like I said, shies away from no challenge and is willing to fight the very best, to be the best, and let me introduce to you Amir “King” Khan.
AMIR KHAN, Former Two Time World Champion:  Hi, everyone.  Thanks for joining the conference call. Training camp is going really well.  It’s going really well.  We’re still continuing all the camp.
It’s been tough, obviously, working on these strategies with my trainer Virgil, being more focused, because I know that one little mistake in a fight like this could get me in trouble, so I’m making sure that I’m not making any mistakes from being in the ring, scoring, or being in the gym training, doing work, or even outside the ring when I’m recovering and how long I’m going to be keeping the weight on, keep my — because I want to walk into this ring strong.  I don’t want to be too light because by being too light, it could only — it won’t make me real strong.
I’m up against a very big middleweight fighter, which Canelo, he’s a middleweight world champion. We’re doing everything right.  I mean, look, my skills are what’s going to win me this fight.  I know I’m not going to be stronger than Canelo in any way.  I’m not going to be thinking I’m stronger than Canelo, but I’m going to stand with him and fight with him.  I think my skills in this fight will win me the fight, and I don’t know if the speed I have is something that – I don’t think that Canelo’s experienced speed with combinations and speed with power.  I think there will be a lot of people who will be – I would say I will definitely shock the world come May 7th, otherwise I wouldn’t take the fight.
I’ve been watching video of Canelo, and day after day it’s getting more and more confident that I can beat this guy.  So I’m really looking forward to it, and we still have another three to four weeks left of training where I’m going to be focusing, and I’m still going to be giving 100 percent so when I do walk into that ring, I’m not only going to do myself proud, but I’m going to do my family proud, I’m going to do my country proud, and I’m going to bring back home the belt.  Thanks.
OSCAR DE LA HOYA:  Thank you, Amir.  Before we go to questions, just a quick reminder, we’re going to host the media on Monday, April 18th, in Oakland, so if you don’t get a chance to ask a question, then hopefully you can make some time to go out there and see Amir train live in person.  Thank you.
Q. Amir, you’ve been training a while now at this weight.  How have you felt?  Is this possibly the best you’ve ever felt not having to take weight off?
AMIR KHAN:  I think I do feel stronger.  I feel strong.  I’m sparring with some very tough guys in the gym, and I do see that by holding on to the weight, it’s given me a lot of ability and a lot of strength and a lot of power, as well.  That’s something that I know I’m not going to be naturally stronger than Canelo.  Canelo is going to be stronger, obviously.  He’s one of the bigger guys, but I think what’s going to happen to me is just happier at this weight and not killing myself.
Q. And having not to lose weight, meaning have you had more time to work on tactics and technique and improving that side of your game?
AMIR KHAN:  Correct, yeah.  That’s what we’re working on because obviously normally we have to be losing a lot of weight, and going down in weight and stuff like that weakens me, so this time I won’t be doing that.  I’ll just be focusing on my game plan for the fight and improving my boxing skills.
Q. Could I ask Virgil a question, please.  What did you think, Virgil, when Amir came to you with this fight?  What was your first reaction?
VIRGIL HUNTER:  Well, it was Shah who came to me with the fight, and initially I wasn’t for the fight, but I hadn’t seen Amir yet.  Well, I take that back.  He was here in the States.  I wasn’t for the fight.
I think what changed my outlook on it was Amir’s response to me when I asked him why do you want this fight, and his response to me was quite assuring that he understood what he was going up against and what he was getting into.
Off of that, I felt much more confident in his ability to be competitive and win the fight.
Q. And how do you think he is looking at this weight in training?
VIRGIL HUNTER:  Well, I’ve seen him come past through this weight before, and I’ve always been impressed when he was at this particular weight on his way down to making weight.  It’s good, like he said, to be able to train and to be able to just focus on boxing and not have the worry and the grind of taking off pounds and doing it right and making sure you’re going to peak right and all these things.  It’s been a plus.  It’s been a plus.
Q. My first question is for Virgil.  My question for you, I heard what you were just saying about when you asked Amir why he wanted to fight.  When you heard that he wanted to fight, besides your opinion and as far as how Amir could match up against Canelo, what was your thought about what it said about Amir’s sort of mentality and desire to fight the best fighters?  What did you think about that when he asked you about this match-up?
VIRGIL HUNTER:  Well, again, maybe I said it wrong; he didn’t ask me initially.  I was conversing with Shah, and once Shah let me know that the fight was on the table, I asked Amir why he wanted to fight.
Q. I heard that part.  I heard that part.  I meant your thought about that, when he told you.
VIRGIL HUNTER:  When he asked?  Well, what he told me as I was thinking also when he went into the fight, and usually it takes maybe two to three weeks sometimes for a fighter to buy into any strategy or plans you might have, maybe sometimes even longer, but to go into a camp already on the same page, that’s really a plus.  You can get right to work.
So it was quite convincing, but it let me know that he understood what he was going up against, and he understood what he could and could not do.
Q. So how impressed are you by the desire to fight a bigger guy who’s got as much – a lot of experience against top fighters where your fighter is certainly the underdog?  Do you like the idea that he wants to be great like that?  What is your thought about that?
VIRGIL HUNTER:  Well, you have to be impressed.  I mean, it’s a step that not many fighters would take under those circumstances, so you have to be impressed.
I always said one thing about Amir, even in some of his setbacks, I’ve never really seen it affect him to the point where he got gun shy or not competitive.  He has a personality and characteristics about him that he believes in himself, and he understands why he lost when he lost, and he just moves forward.  That’s a plus in itself.
Yeah, I give him all the credit in the world.  He’s got more than guts and balls; he’s got audacity.  So it means a lot.
Q. Is it going to be difficult do you think for Amir and for you to sort of get it through his mind that he’s going to have to stay very disciplined with the way he boxes against a fighter that’s as big and strong as Canelo Alvarez because obviously that would appear to be part of the plan where you’re — nobody is going to expect Amir to stand there and slug it out with this guy.  As he said in his statement, it’s going to be his skills that win this fight, not necessarily because he’s a bigger, stronger fighter.  Can you keep him disciplined for 12 rounds?
VIRGIL HUNTER:  Well, first of all, if he’s disciplined, I can keep him disciplined.  If he doesn’t have the discipline and focus now, he’ll never have it, but I believe it’s there, and I think it’s very intact, and he understands what he needs to do, when he needs to do it.  He understands the danger, and he also understands how to win the fight.
So it’s just going to be a great fight, I believe, and I believe that he has a fight in him that hasn’t come out yet, like all fighters when they get around 29 to 30 if they’re winners.  They can just bring a fight out, bring it up, and I believe that that fight is in him somewhere, and I expect to see the fight come up that night because of all the elements.  It should, and it will.  If it’s ever going to come up, it’ll come up May 7th.
Q. Amir, I know that you were very disappointed that you did not get a fight with Mayweather, you did not get a fight with Manny Pacquiao, but now you’ve got probably the best guy other than them, and those other two guys now claim to be retired.  What was your thought process to constantly strive to have the biggest fight possible, and not only have the biggest fight possible with Canelo, but then to go up in weight against a guy that’s going to be bigger and stronger than you?  What is it that drives you to take that type of risk?
AMIR KHAN:  I’m thinking about making history in boxing and leaving a great legacy behind and fighting the best out there.  I wanted the big fights against Mayweather, Pacquiao, and both fights didn’t happen.  I wanted the next big thing, and the next big thing was Canelo, and I remembered a long time ago being asked to speak about that fight, and you know, it seems to be more realistic now.  I’m in a position where I’m growing up now and getting stronger, and I’m knowing and getting to understand boxing a lot better now, and having a good team around me with Virgil and the team, I think that helps, also, so I just needed that big fight now because that was something that was only going to give me more confidence and kind of give me that more drive.
Q.  It kind of strikes me, Amir, I get the feeling from hearing some of your comments, from seeing some of your interviews and seeing some of the stories that you kind of like the fact that you’re the underdog because it will give you even more satisfaction should you be victorious?  Can you speak about that and that mentality?
AMIR KHAN:  I think it’s great, yeah.  I think it’s great to be the underdog.  This is the first fight I’m walking into as the underdog because normally I’m walking in as the favorite, and possibly a bit of pressure on you, where this time I’m going to be walking in as the underdog, and that way it’s a time where I can prove people this is where I belong.  I belong as one of the best fighters in the world, and it’s going to be a great test for me.
Q.  Oscar, when you boxed, there’s nobody that would doubt that you always strived to fight the very best fighters out there.  You fought everybody in your career.  When you look at Amir Khan and you see the desire for him to take on these types of challenges, does it in some ways remind you of the attitude that you had, and can you speak about that and the mentality of that as far as desiring to fight the best out there because you always did it?
OSCAR DE LA HOYA:  Yeah, that’s who Amir Khan is.  He’s a fighter, a human being that believes in himself, believes in his abilities.  He’s a hard worker.  I strongly feel that every fight should look at Amir Khan and dare to be great.  That’s exactly what takes it to the top, whether they’re tough fights or whether they’re winnable fights.  As long as you take the challenge, that’s the only way you’re going to know if you’re going to be great or not.
Q. Does it remind you of yourself a little bit?
OSCAR DE LA HOYA:  You know, it actually does.  It actually does.  I won some, I lost some, but one thing about my career today is that nobody can take that away from me.  I dared to be great and fought everybody that was in front of me, and that’s who Amir Khan is.
Q. I have a question for Virgil.  Virgil, you were saying that your initial reaction to the match-up is that you were against it.  Can you explain what your thinking was there just when you first heard the idea of Amir facing Canelo?
VIRGIL HUNTER:  Well, just being logical.  Size difference being first and foremost, and the fact that Amir had been off for a while.  Those are the first two things that came to my mind.  Canelo has been fighting quite regularly, and you can get into a groove fighting as frequent as he’s been fighting and Amir having some time off.
But also on the other end, I believe that fighters who have started out as young as Amir has at nine and eight years old, that they need periods of time off.  I think that it refreshes them, and I think that that’s been proven, Pacquiao the other night, Mayweather fighting Marquez, even Andre coming back and fighting No. 1.  When you’ve been fighting since you were a kid, those muscle memories, they stay intact, and you don’t really get ring rust unless you’re doing things in your lifestyle, staying up, staying out drinking, whatever you’re doing that’s detrimental to your physical well-being, that can throw you off, of course, and it would exhibit to the viewers some sort of rust and things that are missing.
But the size and his frequency of fighting, that was the first concern.
Q. Virgil, when you spoke to Amir you mentioned that his excitement kind of changed your thinking and changed your mind on that.  Was there anything else that changed your opinion about the fight, or was it just Amir’s – just his confidence?
VIRGIL HUNTER:  No, his response.  That pretty much did it.  I didn’t entertain any other thoughts.  Just his response.
Q. And lastly, about the size issue, heading into the fight, how do you think Amir – obviously Amir is going to be bigger.  How do you think he’s going to respond to being a bigger fighter?  Will that affect his speed do you think at all?
VIRGIL HUNTER:  His speed has not been compromised at all, and I know it’s a lot of photos out there, outlets or public, make your own determination, weigh-in or during the fight, but he has not lost an iota of speed.  When you’re gifted with it like he is, you’ll grow with it.  It’s no different than LeBron James being in high school touching the white square at 190, and he still can do it at 230.  It’s really not that much different than a sprinter, Bo Jackson running a 9.1 in the 200 and still doing it at 225.  No, his speed hasn’t been compromised at all.
Q. Amir, just wondering, did you have to convince Virgil that this was the right match-up, and what was that conversation like when Virgil, I guess, expressed that maybe he had some second thoughts on the match-up?  Just take us through that conversation that you had with him.
AMIR KHAN:  We had to think about it, because there’s always a bit of — we don’t want to walk into a fight and get hurt.  There’s a life after boxing, and I think that my thinking about this fight, and I think by me taking this fight, I think even Virgil probably understood and knew that I’m going to be more focused, and I know that I can’t make any mistakes against a guy like this.  I’ve made mistakes in the past against guys my own weight because I know naturally I’m more gifted than them and I’m more skilled than them and I’m a better fighter than them, but these are ones that probably could be my worst opponents because I don’t really have that fear element, whereas when you’re fighting someone who’s tough and who’s dangerous and it’s going to be a tough fight, then that’s what brings out the A game in me.
I think Virgil understood that, as well, and I definitely understand that myself, that I’m going to train more, I’m going to be more focused for a fight like this than I would be for a fight against someone my own weight and someone I know who I’m better than.
Q. Virgil, we heard Amir say maybe 10 minutes ago that he intends on shocking the world.  It sounds like he recognizes he’s the underdog of this fight.  Given the way that the odds seem to be stacked against him, the size difference, et cetera, how does this compare to your greatest challenges as a trainer?
VIRGIL HUNTER:  I’m sorry, I didn’t get the last part.  How does it compare to what now?
Q. Your greatest challenges as a trainer.
VIRGIL HUNTER:  Well, every fight is a challenge.  You know, that’s how I feel about it, from an amateur to a prospect to the level that Amir is on.
Of course I understand the whole content of the fight.  I understand what comes off a victory, and I understand that by him saying that he intends to shock the world that quite possibly it could be a shock.  It’ll be a shock to a lot, but I it won’t be a shock to some.  So he falls somewhere right in that 60 percent shocked, 40 percent I’m not shocked.
But it means a lot to be able to participate in the sport that you love at this level and in an event of this magnitude.  It’s very humbling.  I feel fortunate.  I feel blessed to have been here, not just one time but a few times.
To me, to be able to maybe one day be retired and hopefully have enough health to reflect back, it means quite a bit.
Q. When was the last time you felt or you had a fight where you felt like the underdog?
VIRGIL HUNTER:  Probably Andre going into the Super Six.  I know everybody viewed him as an underdog, but I didn’t.  I don’t view Amir as an underdog in this fight.  I’m very confident in his abilities.  I think I would be doing him a disservice if I viewed him as an underdog.  I view him as the top dog, and that’s how we’re approaching the fight.  We’re not approaching the fight hoping to get the victory.  We’re not approaching the fight hoping that it goes our way.  We’re approaching the fight determined to get the victory and to make it go our way.  That’s the approach.
Q. Amir, this is the biggest fight of the year.  You can’t sit on the fence.  Those that love you support you, those that go for Canelo go for Canelo.  What do you tell your supporters, and what do you tell the people that are doubting you?
AMIR KHAN:  Well, I know it’s the biggest fight this year that’s going to happen, and I just want to tell them to tune in and watch this fight because this is going to be a fighting style a lot of people are going to love.  You’ve got a boxer versus a fighter, and you’ve got speed versus power, and it’s going to be exciting from round 1 until the end.
It’s a fight for me that I want to prove to people that I really do belong up against the best fighters in the world, and I want to be the best one there.  This is a great fight for the fans to watch, as well, and I’m going to give it to the fans of the UK because they’ve always been waiting and expecting a big fight from me, especially with Floyd Mayweather not happening and then Manny Pacquiao not happening.  I want to do this for the UK crowd and hopefully bring back home the belt, and definitely it’s going to be a big, big Mexican holiday.  I believe that the UK fans are going to turn out for me and they’re going to come and support this big fight.
Q.  Virgil, if you could compare in the history of boxing, who does Canelo remind you of and who does Amir Khan remind you of?
VIRGIL HUNTER:  Boy, you’re putting me in a position where I’d be doing somebody a service and a disservice.
Look, I’d like to give each one their own identity.  They’re one of a kind.  I would probably have to search high and low to get a close comparison, so to speak.  But there is a time in an athlete’s career if they’re gifted that they should be able to stand alone in their own aura, and I give both of these gladiators that respect.
Q.  Oscar, with Manny retiring, Mayweather retiring, what are the implications of this fight?  Where does it put the winner?
OSCAR DE LA HOYA:  Well, I mean, it puts the winner as being the man.  You know, now that Pacquiao retired, Mayweather is retired, the winner of this fight becomes the man.  You know, it doesn’t happen often, including other sports, where just because you beat the man doesn’t make you the man, but in this case here, you have two elite fighters, elite athletes, who are at the peak of their career, who are at the top of their game, and whether Amir wins or whether Canelo wins, the winner is going to be the man in boxing for a very long time.
Q.  Amir, my first question is when you opted to take the fight with Canelo, why didn’t you tell Virgil that this was a discussion you were having?
VIRGIL HUNTER:  I did know.  I did know there were discussions with his dad, so I did know.  He didn’t keep me uninformed.
Q. Okay, because it seemed like when we spoke to you in Los Angeles that you didn’t know the discussions were going on, so then Virgil, I’ll ask you, since Amir has joined your stable, what do you think is the biggest change in him from that time until now?
VIRGIL HUNTER:  Well, you know, change is always subtle.  I’ve seen him tremendously focused, and I’ve seen him slightly distracted.  So I think in Amir’s case, it’s where his focus is.  If his focus is locked in, he becomes a very formidable opponent.  If he’s slightly distracted, then he can make his way a little tougher.  But even in those situations, I’ve seen his competitiveness, his will to win, even when he’s distracted and he’s come up against a tougher situation than is expected.  I’ve seen his competitiveness take over and still pull out the victory.  I mean, he’s a silver medalist at 17, so he’s a winner.  But when he’s focused, he can do some things that you really can’t prepare for, and for this fight he is focused, as he very well knows he has to be.
Q. I’ve just got a couple for Amir.  Obviously you know that Canelo is going to wear you down, therefore your speed is going to be major in this fight.  Are you worried that putting on the extra weight you’re going to run out of gas in the championship rounds at the end?
AMIR KHAN:  No, look, we’ve been conditioning well.  We’ve been training very hard, so we know — we’re going to expect that Canelo is going to come forward and try to grind me down, and we know what to expect.  I’ve got some great sparring partners who are going to get me conditioned and get me ready for that kind of pressure.  So I’m looking forward to whatever Canelo brings, really.  I’m just going to be working towards a very strong, hard-hitting, come-forward fight with Canelo, and we’re going to be ready for that, and if he wants to do that, we’re going to have answers for it.  If he wants to do – whatever Canelo does in the fight, we’re going to have answers, also.  We’ve basically worked on two different strategies for this fight.
Q. How are you feeling about the weight long-term because if you pull this off and your hand is lifted at the end of this fight, there will be pressure for you to stay at that weight and not drop back down to 147 or 154.
AMIR KHAN:  Yeah, it just depends on – we’re going to wait and see how everything – how the outcome becomes and what naturally feels good for me.
I mean, look, this weight could be amazing for me where I feel strong and it suits me better, so it just depends on – we’ll see after the fight.  Me and Virgil will sit down afterwards, but naturally I think I am a middleweight, naturally, but who knows.  By putting this extra bit of muscle and strength on, I think it’s only going to maybe make me stronger, and time will tell.  It’s hard to tell at the moment, but while I’ve been sparring and while I’ve been in the gym training, I do feel really strong and really good, and I feel really happy, as well.  It gives me enough time to spend on skill and to work on my defense and work on my boxing skills.
Q. Away from this actual fight, this is an Olympic year.  Obviously you showed success in our country with your fantastic escapades in the Olympics.  We’ve heard from Oscar earlier on about the start of his career in the Olympics, as well.  What’s your attitude about professional boxers going into the Olympics?
AMIR KHAN:  I think it’s hit and miss, really, because a lot of the world-class professionals might not enter.  It’s something that I’d love to maybe enter because me winning a silver medal and I want to turn it into a gold medal by going to the Olympic Games, it would be a little different because obviously you’re only fighting three rounds, but the minutes of the rounds are going to be the same.  It could work and it could not work.  It’s just a matter of it would be too much of a big risk for these world champions as professionals to go into.
I think it just all boils down to what I think – it’s hard to say, really, but I think if it was me and I had the opportunity to go back to the Olympic Games and change out a silver medal to a gold medal, because when I was in Doha certainly I was invited by AIBA and they invited me to be there, and I watched the guys who were fighting at my weight category, and I was watching them and thinking, I can still beat these guys, even having the same work rate and everything, and even not fighting 12 rounds but fighting three rounds.
Yeah, it’s something I would probably maybe consider.  Like I said, time will tell, but before that I have a big fight to focus on, and we’ll get past this fight and then we’ll see what goes on.
Q. Amir, do you think boxing is a logical sport, or do you think the boxing logic –
AMIR KHAN:  What do you mean, sorry?
Q. Do you think that boxing is a logical sport?
AMIR KHAN:  I mean, boxing really is a sport, but at the end of the day you’ve got – it’s a sport that you need skill, I think, and you need to have a big heart.  There’s a lot of fights out there that don’t happen because a lot of fighters don’t basically have the balls to take the fights on, but I think with this fight, me taking this fight, I hope it inspires other fighters out there and other professionals to take big fights in their boxing career, and if you want to be remembered as a great fighter, you need to take big fights like this.
So yeah, that’s what boxing is all about, really, and that’s one of the reasons I’m in boxing, because I want to be remembered as a great fighter and I want to achieve everything and fight the biggest fights in my boxing career because one day when I leave, I don’t want to ever be like, oh, I regret not having this fight and I should have taken this fight and I should have had this fight.  So that’s something different, yeah.  Everyone is different.
Q. The last time that a Mexican opened a big arena like this time, like Canelo will open the T-Mobile, was Chávez vs. Randall ‘94, so do you believe that you are the Randall of Canelo?
AMIR KHAN:  Canelo is a great fighter.  He’s a great fighter, and this is going to be a big event.  Whoever comes to this fight is going to be really happy because you’ve got a style there, and it could be bigger than the Chávez-Randall fight because you have the whole of Mexico, you have the whole of – you have the whole world watching that fight, and I think in this fight, especially two big superstars from two different parts of the world fighting each other, I think this could be a massive fight really because not only you’ve got Great Britain, you’ve got like – you’ve got the whole of Asia, India, you’ve got Pakistan, you’ve got the Middle East, you’ve got America, you’ve got so many nations who are going to be choosing and watching this fight, this is a very big fight, and it’s just great for boxing.  It’s only promoting our sport of boxing, and it’s going to, like I said, promote big fights in the future.
Q. Last week I talked with Mayweather Sr., and he said that you are wrong about gaining weight and losing your velocity.  Do you believe that you are gaining weight and you don’t lose the velocity?
AMIR KHAN:  I don’t think it’s going to really make a difference on the speed or anything, because I’ve been training, and this is more natural for me.  Normally what I do, I have to go down in weight and I have to lose weight normally, but this time I’m not going to be losing the weight, this time I’m going to be at my natural weight.  I’ll be happy making the weight.  I’ll be keeping the strength, I’ll be keeping the speed, so this is all natural for me.
Q. Can you tell me something about your Mexican trainer, Luis García, how he’s doing in Oakland?
AMIR KHAN:  Yeah, we love Mexican people.  I mean, a lot of people said my fighting style is like a Mexican.  A lot of people say my style is like a Mexican fighter.  I’ve been watching a lot of Mexican boxers for a long, long time, you know, and I like the fighting style they have.  So this is going to be a great show.  I mean, you’ve got two warriors in the ring come May 7 that both want to be the best in the world and both want to win, so it’s what makes this fight even more better and classic.
Q. How close do you think that you are for Mayweather blueprint with Canelo?
AMIR KHAN:  Mayweather is his own fighter, and everyone is their own fighter, everyone is different in that way, so I’m not going to say that I’m going to do what Mayweather did.  I think since Mayweather beat Canelo, Canelo is a better fighter.  I’ve been watching his fights, and I think he’s improved a lot as a fighter.
So really I’m just going to have to beat the Canelo who is going to be in front of me.  I know he’s going to be changing his style a lot, but whatever Canelo brings we can have answers for.  Canelo is a strong guy.  There’s not much of a blueprint there.  There’s only one guy who beat him, which is Mayweather, and like I said, he’s changing as a fighter.  He’s getting better.
Once we get in that ring, we have a game plan.  We have a game plan.  We have a strategy to win this fight, and it’s all about sticking to that, and I know I can win this fight that way.
Q. Do you think that the winner of this fight after Mayweather and Pacquiao leave boxing should be the next star of boxing, Canelo or Amir Khan?
OSCAR DE LA HOYA:  Look, I was asked that question before, and what I said was the winner of this fight is going to be the man, yeah, and when you take everything into consideration, you look at the regimens, you look at the fight, the number that it’s going to generate, this is going to be a mega, mega, mega event, and whoever wins this fight is going to call themselves the Pay-Per-View King.  This is part of the stakes that goes along with a fight of this magnitude, you know, and so that’s why this fight is so important for both guys, for many reasons.
CECILIA ZUNIG, Golden Boy Promotions:  Amir, do you have any final comments to the press on this call?
AMIR KHAN:  I just want to say a big thank you very much for being on this conference and supporting me.  The UK press has been great.  I mean, the press around the world have been great.  They’ve been very supportive in this fight, and they have given me a chance – a lot of people at first didn’t give me a chance, and now I think as time is getting closer, they’ve really seen that I can go into this fight and win this fight, so I hope to see you all at the fight.  It’s going to be a big fight, and just a big thanks to you guys again, and hopefully we’ll see you soon.  Thank you.
CECILIA ZUNIGA:  Oscar, we’re ready for your final comments and any reminders.
OSCAR DE LA HOYA:  Thank you very much.  I gave you the reminder.  Amir Khan will be working out, whoever didn’t have a chance to ask a question.  He is opening up his training camp which will be Monday, April 18, in Oakland, so we will see you there.  Thank you very much.

Boxing’s New Boogeyman?

Posted on 02. Apr, 2016 by FSM Staff in Boxing, General Sports, Highlight

Boxing’s New Boogeyman?

There was a time when people really did hide their children when Mike Tyson was around. There was even a time when one of Mike Tyson’s opponents was so scared he started crying real tears in the ring. During the height of his prime in the late 80’s (and some could argue a bit of his career post imprisonment), Iron Mike was the closet thing to a boxing boogeyman since Sonny Liston. But since Tyson’s demise in Japan when he got knocked out by 42-1 long shot James Douglas, there has not been another fighter who commanded that same fear.

Wladimir Klitschko came close to becoming that feared monster but then Corrie Sanders happened. Alfredo Angulo knocked on the door for a split second but his boogeyman powers eventually faded away starting immediately after the James Kirkland fight. A few others have flirted with boogeyman status as well, but in the end, there has not been a legitimate boogeyman in boxing since Mike Tyson.

Enter Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin.

Golovkin has destroyed everyone that has been placed in front of him en route to a 34-0 record and the highest knockout percentage (91.2%) in middleweight history. He is the most avoided in fighter in boxing today and that does not look like it is going to change anytime soon. He has an upcoming fight at the Forum in Los Angeles against quasi-contender Dominic Wade (which FSM will be covering for our readers) in which another quick KO is expected. Who is Wade and why are they fighting? The quick and easy answer is that Wade was on the short list of people willing to take a beating from GGG.

So is Gennady Glolovkin boxing’s next boogeyman to be feared by both fan and fighter? Unfortunately not – for two reasons. The first is that GGG is a notoriously friendly and accessible fighter to the fans and media. He can be seen strutting around with his crooked smile and cute English as a second language speak. He is polite and gracious in the ring after his vicious knockouts. When you look at GGG, you do not think that he wants to eat your children but rather that he wants to help you with your groceries.

The second reason Triple G is not the boogeyman (yet) is that he is a victim of his own success. He is so good at dispatching his opponents that none of the big names in boxing want to step in the ring with him. As a result, Glolovkin is a household name only to those households where die hard boxing fans live. In short, the public does not even know he exists so there is no reason to fear him.

Accordingly, Golovkin finds himself in a sort of boxing boogeyman purgatory. The average fan wouldn’t be scared to bump into him in a dark alley while the average professional would be scared to death.

FSM PODCAST: Cotto-Martinez Talking Points

Posted on 08. Jun, 2014 by FSM Staff in Boxing, Highlight

FSM PODCAST: Cotto-Martinez Talking Points

Listen to the first ever FREE podcast from the team at Free Sports Magazine!

Results of the huge middleweight title fight between Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez are discussed. Miss the fight? We got you covered in this 10 minute podcast that will give you a few talking points to use with the folks at the water cooler.

To listen to the 100% FREE podcast, simply click the play button in the box below:

The FreeSportsMag podcast can also be downloaded directly by CLICKING HERE.

B-Hop Stumps Father Time, Makes History

Posted on 13. Mar, 2013 by FSM Staff in Boxing, Highlight

B-Hop Stumps Father Time, Makes History

Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins made history on Saturday night by becoming the oldest person to win a major professional boxing title at age 48, breaking his own record that he set two years ago. Hopkins (53-6-2) defeated Tavoris Cloud (19-1) via unanimous decision, taking the 31 year-old’s light heavyweight title and handing him his first defeat at the recently constructed Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

There was no controversy with the scorecards and it was pretty clear where things were heading starting halfway through the fight. Hopkins delivered a veteran whooping, opening cuts over both of Cloud’s eyes. Cloud gave a solid effort but the young lion was not ready to deal with the old trickster this time.

The Executioner deserves credit. He abstains from drugs, alcohol, red meat and he trains hard. He hasn’t exactly been fighting tomato cans these last eight years either. It will be interesting to see who he decides to fight next. A third fight with Jean Pascal (27-2-1) has been mentioned by some as has a fight with undefeated Nathan Cleverly (25-0) that would most likely take place somewhere in the United Kingdom.

There is a well-known saying in sports that people usually bring up when talking about aging superstars. “Father Time is undefeated”, Charles Barkley is often heard saying on the set of TNT’s Inside the NBA. This is true especially for the athletes who were great in their early years and then decided to stick around – way too long. Perhaps Michael Jordan’s stint on the Wizards is Father Time’s crown jewel in terms of victories. Other victims include Oscar De la Hoya, Shaquille O’Neal, Roy Jones Jr., and well, you should be able to get the gist of the phrase by now.

Every time I watch Bernard Hopkins fight, I can’t help thinking that he might be the one who finally gives Father Time that first defeat. It would take a meaningful victory in his early 50’s and a subsequent retirement on Hopkins’ part, but nothing I’ve seen from the Executioner in the last decade suggests it can’t be done. How many professional athletes can claim they were significant in their sport past age 40? How many can say that Father Time couldn’t even prevent them from winning a championship at age 48? A few more wins and Hopkins can ride off in the sunset without giving Father Time any more chances to put him down. Sure, the victory may be just a moral one. It would be kind of like playing games when you’re a kid. Get your butt kicked ten times in a row then win once and stop playing.

Orlando Cruz Announces He Is Gay

Posted on 06. Oct, 2012 by FSM Staff in Boxing, General Sports

Orlando Cruz Announces He Is Gay

In a sport where people are trying to punch you in the face, you must give credit to Orlando Cruz for coming out as the first openly gay active professional boxer.

Cruz is not some tomato can journeyman or a guy who is about to retire. He is a fringe contender in the featherweight division. At age 31 and with a record of 18-2-1, he definitely has a few good years left ahead of him. He is headlining a card that will be televised on Telemundo later this month for example. That is what makes his announcement that much more remarkable.

“I want people to look at me for the human being that I am. I am a professional sportsman that always brings his best to the ring. I want for people to continue to see me for my boxing skills, my character, my sportsmanship. But I also want kids who suffer from bullying to know that you can be whoever you want to be in life, including a professional boxer, that anything is possible and that who you are or whom you love should not be impediment to achieving anything in life.”

In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be news. Orlando Cruz is gay. So what. But we are talking about boxing here and it’s not the most progressive sport at times, and neither are many of its fans. Reaction to the announcement by those in the boxing world has been positive in the media but who knows how people really feel behind the scenes?

Boxing is not in the spotlight like the MLB, NFL, or NBA. Though Orlando Cruz is a fringe contender, you’ve probably never heard of him before reading this article. The fact that a featherweight from Puerto Rico had the guts to become the first openly gay active professional in these four sports is a surprise and a shame on the MLB, NFL, and NBA. The fact that this story still matters is a shame on the rest of us.

The Klitschko VS Klitschko Debate

Posted on 11. Sep, 2012 by FSM Staff in Boxing, General Sports

The Klitschko VS Klitschko Debate

The first decade of this century will be remembered as one of the weakest of all time for the heavyweight division. The decline officially started in 2003 when Lennox Lewis announced his retirement from the sport, leaving the division wide open for the Klitschko brothers to feast.

After a few bumps in the road named Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster, the real Waldimir Klitschko emerged. He started collecting KOs like they were going out of style and he recently reached the 50 KO club. Think about that. This man has knocked out fifty other human beings.

Vitali never had as much hype as his baby brother when HBO was introducing the Klitschko’s to their American viewers. Vitali always seemed to be that supportive older guy in the corner that just looked like he could box. His knockouts were less sensational but far more brutal as they usually built up over time. His lack of mainstream appeal was directly due to his lack of vulnerability. When Vitali’s younger brother Wladimir would fight, he was always a puncher’s chance away from losing a fight.

Vitali however has had no Corrie Sanders moments. Instead, he played his role as big brother and whipped Sanders’ arse to get revenge for the Klitschko name. Not only has he never been knocked out but he hasn’t even been knocked down. His only two losses were due to injury and he was ahead on the scorecards in both fights before the stoppages occurred.

The Klitschko brothers have vowed never to fight each other but Vitali would be the overwhelming favorite if they ever did.

The weak heavyweight division is obviously no fault of the Klitschkos. Unfortunately it will be considered in discussions everywhere when fans debate amongst themselves. It will be hard to place the pair amongst the greats of all time but they do belong in there somewhere.

But let’s stimulate the mind for a second. Suppose you could only choose one of them for the boxing hall of fame. Who would it be? Could Vitali ever reach 50 KOs? Could Wladimir hang with Lennox Lewis?