Boxing

Boxing In A Nutshell -- Round 2

07.09.05 - By Lee Hayes: A couple of weeks ago, I decided to try a new experiment, by bringing over some of my favorite fights to a friend of mines place. I observed and documented their responses to each fight, and asked their opinions throughout the evening. I rarely gave my personal opinion, unless I was asked. I posted the results in an article titled "Boxing In A Nutshell" (a link to the original article can be found here ) and I was overwhelmed by the positive response it received. It turns out that nearly every boxing fan is very interested in the concept of attracting new viewers to our sport.

Plenty of regulars to East Side boxing provided me with suggestions of their personal favorite fights to show newcomers and also just recommendations as to what they thought might attract somebody new. Names such as Corrales, Chavez, Holyfield, Tyson, Benn, came rolling in.

Nearly every suggestion sounded like it would be perfect. I also received some requests to continue the concept with follow up releases, and so...here it is, Boxing In A Nutshell, Round two. My second visit with a varied fight collection in hand.

I decided for Round Two, to bring the following DVDís with me:

Manny Pacquio vs Juan Manuel Marquez (because of the scoring controversy and to get their response to seeing a man knocked down three times and devastated in the first round, only to launch a come back)

Larry Holmes vs Ray Mercer (I chose this one, because during my first visit, I had brought Foreman vs Moorer, and Iíve always felt that Holmes vs Mercer was a better fight, because Foreman vs Moorer was fairly one sided throughout, where as Holmes vs Mercer was a much more competitive bout.)

Diego Corrales vs Jose Luis Castillo (I think this one is obvious, because itís probably one of the top three fights I have ever seen in my life, but Iíd be lying if I didnít tell you that I was dying inside to see their reaction to the final round, because I do not think anybody could have seen it coming. It demonstrated the sport at itís most brutal, beautiful self, and it showed once again that anything can happen in the ring at any given time.)

Itís sort of funny, because originally, I had planned on only using my friend Jason as my guinea pig, but his roommate Greg happened to be around the last time and he enjoyed watching the DVDís I brought over previously so much that he changed his plans to sit with us for another evening. I didnít mind, because they are both very different types of people and it helps to get a different perspective on the introduction of the game to these pugilistic virgins.

We watched Manny Pacquio vs Juan Manuel Marquez first. I gave them no forewarning of what was to come in the first round, and after the end of the first round, my friend Jason stated, "this reminds me of that fight you brought last time, Corrie Sanders vs the younger Klitschko, only, itís like in fast forward, and with really tiny guys instead". I laughed. I guess in some ways, the first rounds were similar. Greg was about to leave to head to the store, his reasoning being "Iím not missing much, because this is a total mismatch". I broke one of my rules -not to give away any events in the fights- because I didnít want him to leave, so I told him that the fight wasnít about to end soon. He sat back down.

I remembered when I first saw this fight on Pay Per View and I had Pacquio ahead by a massive lead after only half of the fight (who didnít?) And I remember thinking he probably won the fight by a point or two. It was interesting listening to Jasonís comments as the fight went on, because here was a relative ring novice that was pointing out to me how Marquez had "solved Pacquioís style, by moving to his right for the remainder of the fight". I nodded and pointed out that indeed, the text book says you move to your right when you want to avoid a southpaws straight left hands, which is usually his power punch. He also pointed out that Marquez couldnít miss with his right hands for the second half of the fight, and Greg even went as far as to say "if he closed his eyes and threw a right hand, it would land". We all laughed, because sure enough, time and time against Manuel landed that punch, and Manny had no defense for it.

So the fight came to an end, and just before the decision, I asked my friends who they won, and there was no doubt in their minds, they both felt that Juan Manuel Marquez had done enough to win the fight by a round or two. I wasnít really all that shocked, because after watching the fight for the second time, I felt that he probably should have won by a point, even though I originally had scored Pacquio ahead by one.

The decision came through and they were both shocked. They wanted to know how one judge could possibly have a fight five points in one fighters direction and another score it 5 points in his opponents favor. I explained to them that this was one of the frustrating things about the sport. They both mentioned that they liked the anticipation of a score card.

Finally, before we moved on to the second fight, a very pertinent question jumped up in my mind, and I think itís one that says more about boxing than possibly any other, I simply asked them, "who would you pay to see fight again? I know you scored the fight for Marquez, but if you were going to spend say $20 on a boxing match, which guy would you rather see?" Again, no hesitation, they both said simultaneously, "Pacquio". I nodded, but inside I was laughing because, well...that is boxing in a nutshell.

The second fight we played was Larry Holmes vs Ray Mercer. This was a fight I hadnít watched in probably seven or eight years. I had just recently acquired a DVD copy of the fight, and I had been anxious to watch it again, particularly since I have been watching a lot of Ray Mercer fights on tape recently. I explained to them that Larry had been attempting a come back somewhat similar to George Foreman. They had both been awestruck -see the original article for write-up- by what Foreman did to Michael Moorer, and I wanted to show them what Larry had to endure against a prime Ray Mercer, because in all honesty, considering Michael Moorerís chin, Foreman should have been able to KO him. On the other hand, at his age, Holmes had no business beating Ray Mercer.

We began the fight and the first thing to come out of Gregís mouth was a comment on the shape that Holmes appeared in. I informed him that Larry had never been body beautiful, but that he had always trained adamantly, and that he was in shape for the fight, despite the appearance. Mercer was quite devastating in many parts of the fight, and to the point where Jason stated "no way Holmes can win this, Mercer is going to knock him out. Look at those hooks!"

On top of that, they were both a little outraged with the way Mercer was allowed to foul Holmes through out the fight. I let them know that Holmes himself was no stranger to bending the rules, and that the way he put his hand on his opponents head and then quickly slammed them with a follow up right hand was quite against them. Still, Mercer did seem a little rough in there, but his nick name is "merciless".

As the fight went on, just like the crowd, my friends starting cheering more and more for Larry. They could see he was taking in a lot of hard shots, and both remarked that his chin was "like stone", or something to that effect. After the fight ended and we saw the results, they both had a great deal of respect for boxing resident Rodney "I get no respect" Dangerfield, in Holmes. I told them that I would be bringing over some footage of when Larry was in his prime for them to see just how special of a fighter he truly was. I let them know that if it had been a 22 year old Holmes in that ring, that Mercer on his best day probably couldnít have touched him, because he could dance on his toes like a prime Ali.

Then Jason asked me a question, he wanted to know that since I felt a prime Holmes could have embarrassed a prime Mercer, just how both of them in their primes would fare against the heavyweights of today. I suddenly got an inexplicable feeling of shame about me. I slowly stated something to the effect of, "Holmes wouldnít lose to even one of them. In fact, I donít think a prime Larry Holmes would lose more than maybe a couple of rounds if he fought all of the top 40 heavyweights currently on the planet." then I had to think a little harder regarding Mercer. I had seen him come close but always fall short. I knew he had one of the best chins of his generation, and that he also had some pedigree, but that he started late, and that he had a penchant for coming in out of shape.

I decided it would only be fair to rank Ray in the best shape of his career, and that would probably have been against Tommy Morrison or Lennox Lewis, hell, maybe even against Larry Holmes, because he did some nice things no that night. I told them, "if Ray Mercer were in his prime today, and kept himself in top shape at all times, he would definitely have a title belt, and that he would stand a chance to unify." I had a hard time imagining Ray losing to John Ruiz or Lamon Brewster, and I think in his prime he would have to be given a good chance to beat Chris Byrd, and possibly, if all things went his way, Vitali Klitschko.

On to the next one.

The final fight we watched on this night was one of the most amazing battles I have ever witnessed. I donít mean just live, Iím talking about ever, including grainy fight films, VHS tapes, DVDís anywhere ever. When Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo fought each other, it was like watching Arturo Gatti vs Mickey Ward, had they both had A level skills, instead of C+. Both Gatti and Ward have so much heart and balls, that I would never dare challenge them on that, however, they both also happened to match up well because of their willingness to trade. Corrales and Castillo chose to give us the war they did. Both men could have boxed circles around each other had they wanted to. Both men have world class skills. They also both happened to like to bang a lot, and both men have hearts like Ward and Gatti. I broke my rule again for this fight, when I told them that the fight was one of my personal all-time favorites. It only seemed to add to the intrigue and anticipation.

As we watched round after round, Jason would go on to say "I canít believe Iíve never heard of either of these guys. Who cares about Roy Jones Jr or those guys!" and "both of these guys are hitting each other to the head and body I canít believe that either of them are still standing!" I let them know that Iíd seen both of them fight many times and that I knew pretty much for a fact that either would die in the ring if they had to, because they put that much in to their fights. Again...this only built more anticipation. Around half way through what I knew would be the end of the fight, I asked them, "who do you think is ahead in the fight?" They both felt it was dead even, but mentioned that it was really hard to tell because both men had landed so often and with nice combinations that it would be a really hard fight to judge. I had to agree.

Greg piped in, "no way it goes the distance fighting they way they are!" I mentioned to both of them that unlike some of the heavyweight fights they might see, particularly current heavyweights, that the best fighters in the lighter weights, the Moralesís, Pacquioís, Marquezís, Barreraís and Corrales/Castilloís were almost all extremely talented, high volume punchers. That with a heavyweight fight, youíd be lucky to see 40 or 50 punches thrown, let alone landed per round, but with lightweight and featherweight bouts, you could see that many landed if you catch the right fight.

Since Jason and Greg are both rather novice to the game, I was pleased to hear from both of them that they would chose a Pay Per View with guys like Corrales and Castillo over one with a Klitschko, Ruiz or Rahman. It seems that the stigma that lighter weights get because they donít pull in as big of Pay Per View numbers may be a catch 22 in a way, because itís hard to tell, the majority of the exposure to new fight fans is heavyweight. What should they base a comparison on when all they see on sports highlights are Mike Tyson highlights? I asked both of them if they had even seen a single play back on any of the local sports channels of Corrales vs Castillo. They said neither of them had.

I asked comparatively if either of them had seen Tysonís image before he fought Kevin McBride. They both had, and on several occasions. Certainly they didnít have a craving for Tyson vs McBride, even though they were force fed a media frenzy by the networks, so I had to ask them, if they were shown clips of the fight we were viewing of Corrales vs Castillo over the next few weeks, promoting their rematch, would they pay say $30 to see the rematch? They both said not only would they, but that they could think of probably ten or so other guys that would as well. I was forced to observe the obvious, that Boxing seems to be its own worst enemies sometimes.

Back to the fight. As the bout continued, they both mentioned that it was a pretty dirty fight, but that it seemed both fighters didnít even care, as there was little complaint from either man. I asked them what they thought about the ref letting the minor infractions go, reminding them that if he wanted to give them warnings, heíd have to separate them and break up the action. Neither of them said they would forsake the non-stop action for warnings, and that neither seemed to be doing anything intentionally. When the knock downs began in the final round the fight lasted, I had to bring up Diegoís mouth piece and how it mysteriously kept popping out of his mouth. They both felt that he probably wasnít even totally conscious when he did it, and were just shocked that he even got back up. I interjected and asked Jason to pause the fight after the final time Corrales went down. "If either of you were the ref for this fight, would you consider stopping it because of the condition Diego is in here?" They both said they might.

I asked them if they thought the point deduction was fair. Neither did. They both felt that even though it could look suspicious, that Corrales really seemed confused and unaware of what he was doing for those few seconds. We began playing the fight again, what followed was a minute of near silence because they couldnít believe what they saw. We rewound that final round six times in total. They said it was easily the best round of boxing either of them had ever seen.

A final thing I wanted to ask them about is what role, if any, they felt Corralesís trainer Joe Goosen had in revitalizing Diego. He was very animated between rounds of the fight, and Iím sure everyone can remember him saying something along the lines of, "You better really get on his ass now Diego!" right after the final knock down Corrales suffered. Corrales appeared to listen to his coach and went out and got it done. They both had laughed when they heard a lot of Goosenís comments through out the fight, but, in the end, they both said that having a different trainer could have changed the out come of the fight. They both mentioned that while Joe seemed to be animated and vocal, he physically remained calm through everything, including the knock downs. I agreed whole heartedly, I mean how many trainers would give their fighter that type of advice after getting a one sided beating for two solid minutes after such a grueling bout?

Well, that was the finale of Round Two. Please feel free to continue to offer your selections for future episodes, as I plan to continue the project and see where it takes me. If a particular fight or fighter gets enough votes, I will bring it along with me on a future date.

This author welcomes your comments here or at lee.hayes@eastsideboxing.com

Article posted on 07.09.2005



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