Manfredo vs Pemberton: Everything Is Relative

15.02.06 - By Wray Edwards: Photo © by Wray Edwards…On October fifteenth last year Peter Manfredo joined the likes of Felix Sturm and Cowboy Brown in having to stand in a boxing ring and hear the ring announcer reveal disturbing news. In contradiction to the commentators, press row, this writer, Judge Marty Denkin and a majority of the fans, Judges Chuck Hassett and Julie Lederman awarded a split decision win to Sergio Mora over Peter Manfredo in their second meeting which took place at The Staples Center in L.A.

There is always an awkward moment when that happens as the commentators usually try to put a good face on the moment by backing and filling about how it could have gone either way. That’s why it is so much better when a fight ends (not too quickly) with a KO. Last night in a snowstorm delayed event Peter Manfredo probably pushed Scotty Pemberton into the pit..

Back in the twenties and thirties an old country veterinarian would occasionally get a call to come out to a farm and put an old horse down. He would ask for a large pit to be dug, and the horse would be led up to the edge. The vet would tell his young son and the farmer to stand on the opposite side of the horse from the pit and place their hands on his side. The Doc would say, “Now when I say push, you two give it all you got.” Then he would raise a ten gage shotgun to the horse’s forehead (right between the eyes), give him a soft look, yell, “Push!” and pull the trigger.

Old Dobbins would tumble into the pit, his service complete.

Scotty Pemberton came to Peter Manfredo’s home town of Providence, Rhode Island, to face the young, Contender series runner-up in a ten round Super Middleweight bout. Pemberton took a lot of baggage with him as he traveled. There was his age (39), his recent costly victories over Omar Sheika, his devastating loss to Jeff Lacy in Lake Tahoe and possibly some unknown negative.

Recently taken under Freddy Roache’s wing, Manfredo has shown some improvement. Better footwork, less holding and a decent left jab. His first fight with Mora was fought mostly on Mora’s terms: close street brawling. His second fight with Sergio revealed an ability to stay outside and, in the eyes of many, should have been a victory for Peter. Not to dwell on the past or become discouraged, Manfredo sucked it up and worked to improve his skills.

There was a lot of talk before the fight about the advisability of mixing a reality show boxer with a seasoned pro. It was even stated that Scotty was amazed that Peter was calling him out. Manfredo may have been drawing on his extensive experience as a sparring partner for Pemberton as he considered the options for his next opponent. For openers Scotty is a rangy, outside fighter unlike the messy scrapper style of Mora. Sergio’s bothersome infighting presented difficulties which Peter would not have to face opposite Pemberton.

ROUND ONE was a perfect example of that as Peter was able to use his jab to set up the right. Both fighters entered the ring around one hundred and eighty pounds. Manfredo immediately demonstrated the quicker hands and did not telegraph his strikes as Pemberton often does. Peter’s slightly shorter reach had the effect that when he was in range, Scotty was a bit too close to deliver hits at the end of his punch. In a way, Manfredo was to Pemberton as Mora was to Manfredo.

ROUND TWO continued in the same manner with Peter calling the shots. Even though Manfredo moved to his left directly into Scotty’s right (against Teddy Atlas’ advice before the match), Pemberton didn’t seem to be able to get off first very often. Manfredo’s legwork was better and he increased his combinations staggering Pemberton a couple of times. Scotty did connect with a few double lefts and a right or two, but they had little effect.

ROUND THREE proved to be the third time charm for Peter. At 2:40 Pemberton misses with a pawing right over Peter’s right shoulder pulling Manfredo’s head down and to the left. 2:36 Manfredo throws a half-hearted right into Peter’s upper chest and neck as Manfredo rotates his left to cock it, and just as Pemberton withdraws his right, too wide, Peter throws a left hook. Pemberton’s knees buckle and he falls back to the ropes.

2:33 Scotty backs into the corner, squares on Manfredo and ducks and dodges with his gloves at full guard while Peter throws left and right misses for the next three seconds. Finally, being unable to strike through Scotty’s gloves, Manfredo leans to his right and drives a right uppercut squarely under Pemberton’s chin. 2:28 Pemberton drops like a wounded duck. By 2:21 Pemberton has clawed his way up the ropes to lean against the turnbuckle with his arms resting on the top strand as Referee Dick Flaherty counts out an eight.

2:12 Dick has checked Pemberton’s gloves and waves him back into Peter’s war zone. Until 1:52 Manfredo and Pemberton are throwing desperate haymakers and missing wildly. Peter is winning the air-punching contest by throwing the most lost leather as Scotty has a look of panicked expectation should one of Manfredo’s whiffers connect. It was only a matter of time (1:51 to be exact) as Manfredo throws a huge, connecting right as Scotty’s own right whistles over Peter’s right shoulder.

Then more whiffing by Peter with an occasional body hit or glancing head shot until at 1:37 he gets in a pretty good left and 1:36 a right as Pemberton covers up in desperation. 1:34 a nice left to Scotty’s mouth…1:23 Peter hauls off and blasts Pemberton with a right cross which knocks Scotty clear off camera. Pemberton stagger-falls into the corner right on his keester. Just as before, Pemberton does the rope climb and leans on the buckle to take his eight.

The “three knockdown” is in effect and Dick (1:06) leads Pemberton to the edge of the pit. 1:02 Manfredo sets his right foot and drives a straight right up from the floor to Pemberton’s left cheek. Peter whiffs a right and a left, sets his right leg again and blasts (0:59) Scotty against the ropes. The strike is so freely made that the Ref decides Pemberton is unable to defend himself and grabs Peters right shoulder to pull him off and wave the fight over (0:57).

One of Pemberton’s first remarks in the post fight interview was, “I guess I got old tonight.” Mr. Tessitore thanked Pemberton for a great career which was at least a veiled suggestion if not an outright order.

What does this say about Manfredo? Perhaps it’s just that Pemberton is a less challenging match for him than Mora. If Peter was able to take out Pemberton just about as fast as Jeff Lacy, what does that say about Jeff’s victory over Scotty? For Manfredo, who was given a second, wild-card chance during the Contender series, it seems to indicate that he has made the most of it. Peter might be well advised to work his way up the Super Middleweight ranks with deliberate caution. He has serious issues with infighters, and is certainly not anywhere near ready for the likes of Jeff Lacy or Joe Calzaghe.

The kid can put butts in chairs and sometimes that’s enough to make a pretty nice nest-egg. This fight was not important in the big picture of the super-middle division. It was, however, a very important event for the health and safety of Scotty Pemberton who told East Side Boxing in Lake Tahoe, “It doesn’t matter if you have big ones if you can’t back them up with power and skill.” Knowing one’s limitations is the first step towards making the right choice of challenges.

As the event was a bit of a hybrid (Contender/ProBoxing) presented as a home town hero-fest, it represented a regional appeal. Manfredo has a long way to go to reach world-class status…if ever. We wish him luck as he and Scotty are both honorable credits to the sport. See you at the fights.

Article posted on 15.02.2006

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