The “Magic Men” Tricked Me

13.06.06 - By Troy Ondrizek: Now I know that the reviews of Saturday night’s fights have been done to death. Several competent writers have more than adequately portrayed every round that transpired. However, I stated in a previous article that both Paul “Magic Man” Malignaggi and Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver were going to be victorious in their perspective bouts. Well, I was off by a tad. I feel that the duty of a boxing writer is to help guide fans by accurately and objectively cover the fights, fighters, business side, the perspective future and to reflect on the past of our great sport. So with that being said, I would like to admit my faults; at least my last faulty endeavor in predicting the outcomes of bouts.

I said that Paul Malignaggi would run from Miguel Cotto and pot shot Miguel to a victory. I felt that if Paulie would have just boxed and held, then he could’ve pulled off the upset and gone home a trinket champion. I not only felt that this was Malignaggi’s only way of achieving victory, but I also felt that Malignaggi knew this as well, and would not try to stand and trade with Cotto, because Malignaggi doesn’t stand and trade with anybody.

Problem is Malignaggi grew a pair. For some reason Paulie thought that standing and trading with Cotto was a good idea, that’s why Paul was on the canvas and looked like he was jumped by the Gotti brothers for stealing their look. Granted Malignaggi has garnered more respect for losing the way he did then what he would’ve received had he won by the method I had suggested. Nevertheless Malignaggi proved me a poor soothsayer, and for that I admit that I have lost my faith in pansies. Maybe just maybe, it takes guts to get in the ring period, and we shouldn’t assume that some guys are afraid of fighting, no matter how metro-sexual they appear to be.

Now for Antonio Tarver making me look as blind as an Audley Harrison fan. I thought that Tarver would keep the fight close throughout and force Hopkins to assure a victory by pressuring Tarver late; and then Tarver in my mind would’ve had a great opportunity to put Hopkins away via a late round t(ko). Yeah, that was my bad as well, for Tarver and us the fans; were treated to a virtuoso performance by one of the greatest fighters of our era. Hopkins gained and carried the extra weight well, and showed no signs of fatigue.

I thought Tarver would use his size to win some rounds, but I expected for Hopkins to lead early, and then Tarver to finish it late. Thing is, it seemed that Tarver felt he could wear down Hopkins by using his own head as a shield against Hopkins’ right hand. After blocking all of Bernard’s punches with an array of head and body maneuvers, Tarver employed his other master tactic of only punching air and Hopkins’ gloves. I’m guessing that Tarver was trying to hurt Hopkins’ hands and thus making the former undisputed middleweight king give up on a Joe Calzaghe type of injury.

My jest is not meant to take away from Bernard Hopkins’ great performance, it is just my way of rationalizing what Tarver did or didn’t do. It was obvious that Tarver’s plan failed much to the chagrin of the both of us. What Tarver did do was shatter his own myth of being a legend killer, at least anyone else’s legend other than his own, and Tarver legitimized Jermain Taylor as a possible great fighter; for Jermain might not have actually beaten Hopkins, but Taylor looked a hell of a lot better against Hopkins than the supposed great Antonio Tarver did.

When it’s all said and done, the fights were better than I thought, and a new perspective has been drawn of all four fighters involved. I would much rather be wrong about a prediction and have a night like we did, than to be right, and have it all be boring. As always, I will see you at the fights.

Article posted on 13.06.2006

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