Predictions: Vazquez vs. Marquez III, "The Tiebreaker"

Uatu says:

After watching the first two Vazquez Marquez fights again today, it is tough to know what to think. Uatu thinks Marquez is the better fighter, but even if that is true, it is not by a large margin. Marquez appears to have the hand speed advantage, but it is not an overwhelming one.

Can Marquez win by controlling the action with a jab and right and maintaining distance and not making the fight a war?

Would Marquez elect to go that route if he could?

Can Vazquez fight through the incoming fire of Marquez and physically wear down Marquez, a fighter who has been stopped before on more than one occasion?

Either way, there is going to be a lot of drama and suspense headed into the fight. The first two fights were as good as it gets. They were right up there with the Barrera-Morales fights and the Corrales-Castillo fights. They were a combination of high skill level, excellent conditioning, heart and guts.

A pick still has to be made. It's Marquez.

The Franchise says:

Boxing fans should be absolutely ecstatic these guys are meeting for the third time. I think the fight's tagline - The Tiebreaker - is absolutely fitting because these are two fighters who are unusually evenly matched.

Both men have hand speed and power in both hands. Both can take a punch and rally back after getting hurt. And while they both have excellent technique, neither is a defensive wizard, leading to lots of landed punches during their first two meetings.

There are differences, too. Marquez seems to have more options at his disposal on the outside and is a bit sharper with his combinations. Vazquez has a slight edge in raw power and has the edge when the fight is in close.

I almost hate to make a pick because this fight could play out any number of ways. Either man could hit the canvas, and it would not be surprising in the least if they both end up on the mat. It should be a fitting end to the trilogy, and though my head agrees with Uatu that Marquez us the better overall boxer by the slimmest of margins, my heart says Vazquez has the best chance of connecting with the one bomb that changes the fight. I'm going with Vazquez by KO.


BoxingWatchers.com Boxing Power Rankings - February 2008

Back after a month off - because there were no big name fights to speak of at the very end of 2007 or the very beginning of 2008 - it's the February edition of our very own boxing power rankings. If you haven't read the post about "How Our Rankings Work," go ahead and do so. I'll wait...

And if you don't want to do that, here's a disclaimer: this is not a pound-for-pound list of which boxers are "the best." Since lots of other sites do that, this is more of a measure of who's had the most success over the past three years against the toughest competition in their weight class, regardless of what that might be. Fighting often against other good boxers helps, and knocking out your foes is better than winning by split decision.

Now that we've got that out of the way, here's the list for the end of February:

1. Miguel Cotto - 22.40 - He stays in the top spot with eight victories over the last three years, including six knockouts. Expect him to add another one when he faces Alfonso Gomez in April.

2. Wladimir Klitschko - 21.00 - I may have to modify the formula to account for boredom after a stinker decision victory over Sultan Ibragimov. Steelhammer is fighting his division's best, it's just that they aren't very good.

3. Kelly Pavlik - 19.03 - The Ghost may have rocketed all the way to the top of the heap had he KO'ed Jermain Taylor again. But there was nothing wrong with his unanimous decision, and he probably displayed more all-around skill than in any previous outing.

4. Floyd Mayweather - 15.60 - The top boxer in the world may not fight again until September. And no, he won't get any points here if he beats Paul Wight at WrestleMania.

5. Joe Calzaghe - 15.50 - He got his wish: a bout with Bernard Hopkins in April. And boxing fans got their wish, as it won't be pay-per-view.

6. Chris John - 14.91 - Is this the best boxer I've never seen fight? Could be.

7. Manny Pacquiao - 14.78 - Pac Man's life is like a soap opera, creating numerous possible distractions. When he hits the ring, though, it's all business.

8. Israel Vazquez - 14.33 - Shame on you if you missed his fights with Rafael Marquez last year. Fortunately, you get another chance to watch the two of them collide this Saturday.

9. Juan Diaz - 13.87 - Think Nate Campbell will prove much of a challenge for the Baby Bull? Me neither.

10. Ricky Hatton - 13.19 - Tough to say what the future holds for Hatton, but the safe money says his fans won't stop all those chants just because he lost a fight.

The next 7: Arthur Abraham, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, Clinton Woods, Juan Manuel Marquez, Kermit Cintron, Junior Witter


De La Hoya Says He's Retiring This Year

Retirement announcements don't always hold much weight in the world of boxing, but here's one that may hold up: the AP is reporting that Oscar De La Hoya will fight three times this year, then retire.

The Golden Boy says he wants to "go out with a big bang," beginning his retirement tour by facing former Contender runner-up Steve Forbes on May 3. Assuming he gets by Forbes, a rematch with Floyd Mayweather would be on tap for September, and the third fight would be determined later... though that time frame doesn't leave him much time to bounce back from facing Money again.

De La Hoya is clearly on the downside of his career, though he can still turn in some nice performances. The boxing game will miss his drawing power, because his name sells more fights than anyone else out there.

Franchise Thoughts: Money Mayweather to Make $20 Mil for WWE Appearance, Calzaghe-Hopkins is Free

Last time Floyd "Money" Mayweather made $20 million in one night, he had to go the distance with Oscar De La Hoya. Next month he'll get a similar payday doing something a little less strenuous.

As reported by the AP and picked up by various outlets, Mayweather is set to cash an eight-figure check for appearing at the WWE's WrestleMania 24, where he'll take part in a match against someone a little out of his normal weight class: wrestler Paul "Big Show" Wight. No word yet on what the exact format of the match will be, but the WrestleMania press conference had at least one comedic moment when Floyd had to stand on something to see eye-to-eye with Big Show.

It's big money for minimal risk to Mayweather, so you can hardly knock it. And while it will certainly drum up some interest from boxing fans who wouldn't normally watch the WWE, it still seems like a bit of a financial gamble for them. Last year's pay-per-view, sans Floyd, drew over a million buys and made $5 million more at the gate. I'm no accountant, but even with a bigger gate this year at Orlando's Citrus Bowl (a fairly safe assumption), Mayweather's presence will have to be worth several hundred thousand extra buys to pay off.

We'll see if it does. Meanwhile, props to those news stories taking the match a little too seriously by talking about how much weight Floyd is giving away to his giant (pun intended) opponent and that he's been training with Rey Mysterio. This just in off the BoxingWatchers.com newswire: wrestling is scripted! He'll be in no more danger than when he fought Arturo Gatti.

Staying on the subject of PPV broadcasts, it's great to hear about one that won't be taking place: Joe Calzaghe versus Bernard Hopkins. No, the fight's not off, but it will be free - at least if you subscribe to HBO. That's because sponsorship from the Planet Hollywood casino has allowed the fight to be shown without charging viewers extra, which is good news indeed.

Add that to the fact that De La Hoya's May tune-up fight with Steve Forbes will also be on regular HBO (surprising considering where we are in Oscar's career) and it's looking like boxing fans won't have to shell out much extra dough over the next few months. Only the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez card on March 15 looms as a PPV, and quite honestly, Pac Man gets my money every time.

Disclaimer: All members of the BoxingWatchers.com staff are part Filipino!

Shane Mosley and Zab Judah Set to Square Off

According to ESPN, Mosley vs. Judah is a go for May. Not sure this is a great fight for Shane. Seems that if he wins, he will have beaten a fighter that many others have already beaten. And if he loses, which he very well might, then that might be it for him. Zab is always dangerous for anyone at any time. He is never an easy fight.


Twenty-Twenty Hindsight: Cautious Klitschko, Why I <3 Lennox Lewis, Props to HBO and More

Every now and then you watch a fight and end up thinking, "What was that?" I felt that way late Saturday night after watching Wladimir Klitschko jab his way to victory over a foe who looked hopelessly overmatched.

Yes, Klitschko fought a skillful fight. I gave him all but two rounds, and the only reason Sultan Ibragimov got the nod in those two was because Wlad threw virtually no punches. His jab snapped Ibragimov's head back with authority and his laser-like right hand - when he threw it, which was sparingly - was usually on target. He also was effective on defense, swatting away his foe's jabs and quickly smothering Sultan any time the smaller man tried to jump inside.

And yes, I'm fully aware that Klitschko's chin is, to put it nicely, not the greatest. He's also focused on the bigger picture, which is unifying the four heavyweight title belts.

I also know it's easy for me to ask someone to risk his health from the safety of my keyboard. That aside, the question is, if Wlad's quest for unification involves more stinkers like last night, will anyone care? The Madison Square Garden crowd was solidly behind Dr. Steelhammer and was ready for him to blast Ibragimov out of there. Instead, the fans voiced their displeasure with Klitschko's tactics on numerous occasions.

When you're comfortably ahead on points and your trainer is in the corner before the 12th round imploring you to go for the knockout, you know something's not quite right. Emanuel Steward can see the big picture too, and he knows the boxing public is going to demand more of its undisputed heavyweight champion than a stiff jab and healthy margins on the socrecards. Even Klitschko admitted in the post-fight interview that he needs to knock everyone else, so let's hope we don't see any repeats of Saturday's fight from here on out.

While I muddled through the round by round report of Klitschko-Ibragimov, one of the few bright spots was the commentary of Lennox Lewis, hands down one of the kings of unintentional comedy. Several times he made comments that had me and the people watching the fight with me laughing out loud.

For example, when one of the other HBO commentators compared the fans' displeasure with the fight to similar sentiment of Lewis' 1998 decision victory over Zeljko Mavrovic, Lennox deadpanned, "At least I was trying to knock him out." You have to wonder at times if Lewis listens to the broadcasts later and chuckles at himself, but it's all good. You kept me entertained big guy, and I'm grateful for that.

Finally, here's a quick plug for HBO's Joe Louis special that aired before the fight - and will be replayed numerous times. It was informative and touching, and a great look back at a time when boxing held a lot more power over the general public than it does today.


Round By Round: Klitschko-Ibragimov

We're still waiting for tonight's main event between Wladimir Klitschko and Sultan Ibragimov from Madison Square Garden. First up on the broadcast is a replay of last week's rematch between Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor. It was interesting to see the fight with the judge's scores displayed, as I disagreed with several rounds but agreed with the decision.

Now we've got a little debate about the heavyweight division with Lennox Lewis. The former champ gives props to Ibragimov for his caginess, but thinks Dr. Steelhammer will catch up with him sooner or later.

I give Ibragimov the edge in gear, simply because my taste in clothing runs more toward Affliction than Hugo Boss. This has been Klitschko's longest period of inactivity; we'll see if that means anything. Ibragimov enters tonight's fight at 219 pounds, Klitschko at 238.

Rd. 1

Klitschko using his left hand to smack away Ibragimov's numerous quick jab attempts. That was about 90 seconds of boredom as both guys are being extra cautious. First punch that lands is a left to the body by Ibragimov. Maybe another left or two and some wild swings at the bell that miss. Not much action in that round, to say the least.

Franchise scores it: 10-9 Ibragimov

Rd. 2

More of the same to start the second, though Wlad does land a jab or two. Another jab and Ibragimov has to jump in to get anything off. Quick left to the body by Ibragimov but it just doesn't look like he can do anything to hurt Wlad. The crowd boos, understandably in my opinion.

Franchise scores it: 10-9 Klitschko

Rd. 3

Klitschko looks like he could wade in there if he wants, but he's not doing it yet. Sultan backed up into the corner but escapes without harm. Double up on the jab by Wladimir and they snap Sultan's head back. We haven't seen the right hand behind the jab yet though. Ibragimov chases Klitschko across the ring but to no avail. More boos and the announcers think Ibragimov may be tiring already.

Franchise scores it: 10-9 Klitschko

Rd. 4

First semi-exchange in the center of the ring and Wladimir gets the best of it. Sultan gets in with some shots to the body. Nice powerful jab by Wlad. Left to the body by Ibragimov. He comes forward for a second behind another left. Crappy round but Ibragimov may have won it with activity.

Franchise scores it: 10-9 Ibragimov

Rd. 5

Double jabs by Klitschko and Ibragimov fires back with a left. The crowd boos again in displeasure. Finally a right hand by Klitschko and it scores. Ibragimov tries to come forward again but it ends up in some wrestling. Sultan goes for the body. No connections of note in the round's final ten seconds.

Franchise scores it: 10-9 Klitschko

Rd. 6

Jim Lampley makes a good point that Klitschko ran out of gas against Lamon Brewster, which may be something he's keeping in mind here. The fans may not be happy with that explanation. Sultan rushes inside but ends up in a clinch once again. Klitschko dances back away from a combo, looking effortless. More wrestling inside, then a one-two combo that sort of lands by Ibragimov.

Franchise scores it: 10-9 Klitschko

Rd. 7

A right lands from Klitschko, but Ibragimov doesn't appear hurt. Left from Wlad and Sultan retreats. Sneaky right gets in there from Klitschko. More jabs landing from Wladimir. Sniping lefts and rights as Ibragimov looking a little more hesitant. Lennox Lewis imploring Klitschko to throw more combos against the ropes. It doesn't happen, as the boos prove.

Franchise scores it: 10-9 Klitschko

Rd. 8

Wladimir starts coming forward a little more to start the eighth. A big right finds the mark, then Ibragimov goes down but it's ruled a throw or slip. Straight right finally starting to land for Klitschko. Left to the body by Ibragimov. Right and left by Klitschko and Ibragimov is brave facing them down. It took eight rounds, but Dr. Steelhammer connected with a few big shots.

Franchise scores it: 10-9 Klitschko

Rd. 9

Looping shots from Ibragimov answered by straight shots from Klitschko. Ibragimov uses the ropes to save himself and the ref does not score it a knockdown. Three unanswered jabs by Klitschko. Sultan's combo answered by a Klitschko right hand. A little more wrestling late in the round, which was an easy Steelhammer round.

Franchise scores it: 10-9 Klitschko

Rd. 10

Sultan still showing some spark but doesn't seem to have even a puncher's chance right now. Both guys go down in a move straight out of WWE. Headlock action is the dominant theme of this round. Partial score with a right by Klitschko and more tie-ups. Left hook finds the mark but Ibragimov still making an effort. The announcers are praising Klitschko's defense though the crowd still sounds unimpressed.

Franchise scores it: 10-9 Klitschko

Rd. 11

It's kind of hard to believe this fight is still going, and Emanuel Steward just told Klitschko he should never be going 12 rounds with Ibragimov. Jabs still landing for Steelhammer, but where is that right hand? This fight may end with a whimper instead of a bang. A brief flurry breaks out right before the bell, though nothing lands of consequence.

Franchise scores it: 10-9 Klitschko

Rd. 12

Steward just told Klitschko he should get the knockout or "it's going to be bad." Let's see if that lights a fire under him. He does look a little more aggressive. Lewis is dropping all kinds of vrbal gems, which have been the most entertaining parts of this fight. He and Max Kellerman are debating the merits of Steward's instructions. Lots of swinging and missing from Ibragimov. Wladimir looks like he will jab his way to victory, and we'll have to be content with that. A late right hand from Klitschko but not the performance many fans expected, or hoped for, quite frankly.

Franchise scores it: 10-9 Klitschko

Franchise scores it 118-110 for Klitschko. The judges score it 119-110, 117-111 and 118-110, all for Klitschko.

No surprise that Steelhammer got the easy decision, but it will be interesting to see what kind of criticism comes his way. I know his chin isn't the best, but it really didn't look like he was in much danger, so his caution seemed to be a bit excessive.

Klitschko-Ibragimov Round By Round Coverage Tonight

If you don't know, now you know. BoxingWatchers.com will be bringing you live round by round coverage of Wladimir Klitschko's heavyweight title defense against Sultan Ibragimov tonight.

So if you can't get to a TV, don't have HBO or have to work (second shift represent!), bookmark us right here and hit reload to your heart's content.


Prediction: Wladimir Klitschko Vs. Sultan Ibragimov

The Franchise says...

There's a reason we didn't put a poll up for tomorrow night's fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Sultan Ibragimov: we honestly didn't think anyone would vote for the challenger.

I'm not saying Ibragimov is a total stiff, though his body of work has been, to be kind, unimpressive. For example, if you have ideas about becoming the recognized heavyweight champion of the world, you should be blowing a faded Evander Holyfield out of the ring, not taking a decision win as Ibragimov did last October.

This is boxing, of course, so anything could happen. But Klitschko has every advantage - size, strength, skill, more high-level experience... he's even a year younger - so there's really no compelling reason to pick against him.

With that in mind, I like Dr. Steelhammer by mid to late-round KO.


Twenty-Twenty Hindsight: Pavlik and Taylor Both Prove Something and Floyd Mayweather in WWE

I've got to hand it to my brother Uatu: he called Saturday's rematch between Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor correctly. I figured that Pavlik winning by decision would be the least likely possible outcome, yet that's exactly how it went down.

Boxing is the rare sport in the sense that a win doesn't necessarily leave you looking good and a loss isn't always the end of the world. On some occasions both the winner and loser come out of a fight in good shape, and that seems to be the case here.

Pavlik showed he was more than just a knockout artist, earning positive reviews for his improved defensive skills and outpointing a guy who was able to hang with the likes of Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright. He's already expressed his desire to unify the middleweight titles, and unless Arthur Abraham is a lot better than I suspect, he shouldn't have much trouble doing it.

On the other side, silencing some of your critics is always fun, and Taylor should have accomplished that even in defeat. Many people acted like a second knockout loss was a foregone conclusion, but he gave more than a fair account of himself. Most importantly, he showed heart, which was a question he had never really answered to this point. Rising in weight class makes sense for him, though we'll see if a lack of power becomes an issue as he does it.

From the sublime to the surreal, one of my other writing interests intersected with this site over the past 36 hours as Floyd Mayweather popped out at the WWE pay-per-view No Way Out. Money apparently legitimately broke Big Show's nose, leading to another confrontation tonight on Raw.

Rumors were flying that Mayweather would be in the corner of a wrestler at WrestleMania, but it now looks like Floyd will take on Big Show himself. Of course it immediately calls to mind Mike Tyson's role at WrestleMania XIV, though if Mayweather really is going to be involved in some kind of match, that promises to be a whole different kind of spectacle.

Ten years ago, the WWE was still on the way up toward its peak popularity, while Tyson was the most famous boxer in the world. It was a bigger deal for Iron Mike to be on the show than vice versa. Things aren't the same today, with the WWE much less visible to the general public and Mayweather - though he's coming off a huge year financially and did his Dancing With the Stars stint to reach some different demographics - is not as big a name as Tyson was then. Floyd and the WWE both stand to gain a little bit if they pull off something interesting.

One thing's for sure: you never can tell what Money's next career move is going to be. That fact alone keeps him high on the entertainment value scale.


Round By Round: Pavlik-Taylor 2

The lightweight undercards are finished and it's time for the main event. Both fighters have a lot on the line so it should be a high intensity fight at 166 pounds. If Taylor loses this fight it will be difficult for him to get another big money fight. On Pavlik's side, he must fight for the glory of his hometown of Youngstown, OH.

Both fighters look fresh and ready in their dressing rooms before their entrances. Jermain Taylor comes to the ring to Apologize by One Republic and Timbaland. An interesting but fitting choice in my opinion. Pavlik chooses a harder, metal song. The fighters are introduced and it's time for the second chapter of one of last year's best fights.

Rd 1:

Both fighters eye each other up in the first few seconds. Taylor throws the first punch and Pavlik throws straights back. The first round is he energy, both fighters are punching hard straights. Taylor swings for the fences and misses with a right hook. Pavlik lands a very hard right hook, Taylor does not look phases. Taylor answers back with another hard left. Both fighters slow down in the last 10 seconds.

Spartan117: 10-9 Pavlik
Uatu: 10-9 Pavlik

Rd 2:

Offense is clearly the number one priority for both fighters in these first 2 rounds. Taylor goes back to the jab and lands cleanly. Pavlik comes back with hard combinations to the head. Neither fighter is throwing much to the body. Pavlik's defense looks solid as he blocks a hard combo by Taylor. The crowd starts to chant "Kelly". Taylor lands a hard right hand, but Pavlik doesn't look hurt.

Spartan117: 10-9 Taylor
Uatu: 10-9 Taylor

Rd 3:

Pavlik comes out as the busier fighter in the 3rd. A bruise starting to swell over Taylor's left eye. Pavlik backs Taylor up with straight right hands, but Taylor remains on the offensive. Taylor begins to throw more, but Pavlik's defense absorbs much of the punishment. Taylor lands another hard right hand. Taylor catches Pavlik off balance and lands a right hook to the body. Taylor landing more punches in the end of the round.

Spartan117: 10-9 Taylor
Uatu: 10-9 Taylor

Rd 4:

Pavlik tries to set up the hard right hand with his jab. Taylor starts using solid upper body movement to evade Pavlik's punches. Taylor is attempting to stay in the middle of the ring and succeeds. Both fighters slow the punches down. Pavlik starts on the offensive and lands a jab and a right. Taylor catches Pavlik coming in with hard right straight. Pavlik comes right back and lands two shots to Taylor against the ropes.

Spartan117- 10-9 Pavlik
Uatu: 10-9 Pavlik

Rd 5:

Taylor throws a jab to the body and then to the head. Pavlik starts to back Taylor up and wants to get Taylor into the ropes. Taylor starts moving around the ring. Pavlik gets hit with with a right hook. Pavlik punches more when he has Taylor against the ropes. Pavlik knocks him back with a straight right. Blood starts pouring from Taylor's nose. Taylor goes back to the jab and connects.

Spartan117- 10-9 Taylor
Uatu: 10-9 Pavlik

Rd 6:

Neither fighter is wasting punches. Bother are choosing wisely. Taylor starts throwing hooks to the body. Taylor slows the punches down, but lands a hard right hand out of nowhere. Both fighters have solid defense. If they didn't this fight would already be over. Both Pavlik and Taylor continue to throw very hard punches.

Spartan117- 10-9 Taylor
Uatu: 10-9 Taylor

Rd 7:

Both fighters now landing solid jabs, but not landing the follow up blow. Taylor's punch output has dropped significantly is the fight progresses. Taylor works the body with hooks. Pavlik now the busier fighter tries to set up the right hand with jabs.

Spartan117: 10-9 Pavlik
Uatu: 10-9 Pavlik

Rd 8:

Pavlik continues to throw more punches than Taylor. Pavlik backs Taylor up with jabs but Taylor gets out of the ropes. Pavlik now looking for an opening. Taylor lands and left and right hook upstairs. Taylor starts throwing more but most are blocked. Taylor lands a big left to end the round.

Spartan117: 10-9 Taylor
Uatu: 10-9 Taylor

Rd 9:

Taylor landing his jab well. Pavlik comes back with his own. Pavlik continues to try to set up his power shot with his jab. Taylor is using more foot movement. Taylor lands a hard right. Both fighters are head hunting. Pavlik slips a right straight through the gloves of Taylor. Tavlik starts connecting with more straights. Many jabs land for both fighters in the last 30 seconds.

Spartan117: 10-9 Pavlik
Uatu: 10-9 Pavlik

Rd 10:

This is now the farthest that Pavlik has ever gone in a professional fight. Pavlik throws more rights now. Taylor starts throwing more total punches and connects. Pavlik clinches. Both fighters chins are clearly being tested. Pavlik throws a hook the puts him off balance. Taylor capitalizes with a hard right.

Spartan117: 10-9 Taylor
Uatu: 10-9 Taylor

Rd 11:

Pavlik's corner tells him that he needs the last two rounds and Pavlik comes out swinging. Taylor goes back to the body and lands two left hooks. Pavlik answers back with with a left and a right to the head. Taylor throws a rare uppercut that lands. Taylor comes out of a clinch and throws a hard hook upstairs. Taylor gets warned for a low blow. Taylor backed against the ropes but fights out.

Spartan117: 10-9 Taylor
Uatu: 10-9 Taylor

Rd 12:

Last round very difficult to score. Both fighters come out for the last round swinging for the fences. Both fighters land 2 vicious punches upstairs, but they both look good on their feet. Both fighters throwing very hard punches, now going for the knockout. Pavlik looks less tired. This round is very close. Pavlik lands a stiff jab. Taylor goes hard for the body and head. Pavlik blocks most. The fight ends and both fighters touch gloves as the bell rings.

Spartan117: 10-9 Pavlik
Uatu: 10-9 Pavlik

Spartan117: 115-113 Taylor
Uatu: 114-114 Draw

Judge 1: 117-111 Pavlik
Judge 2: 115-113 Pavlik
Judge 3: 116-112 Pavlik

Pavlik wins by unanimous decision

An incredible super middleweight fight with very high intensity and extremely hard punches.

Pavlik says in the post-fight interview that Taylor is very smart and thats why this fight was different from their first bout. Pavlik says that he will fight anybody he can.

Taylor thought he won the fight but admitted that it was close. Taylor says that he got tired in later rounds due to a hard body shot.

Pavlik vs. Taylor - Undercard Liveblog

The first fight of the undercard is an 8 round fight at 154 pounds between Ronald Hearns and Juan Astorga. Ronald Hearns is the son of legendary boxer Tommy Hearns. Hearns, at 29 years old, is fighting tonight with a perfect record of 17-0 with 13 K.O.'s while Astorga, also 29, is 11-1 with 6 K.O.'s

Hearns, who shares his father's lanky build, starts off the fight as the aggressor, using his jab often to try to set up his overhand right. Astorga spends the first round attempting to block Hearn's jabs. Astorga throws minimal punches.

Both fighters save their power punches and stick with the jab. Astorga lots of lateral movement, but Hearns keeps on him by landing jabs and big rights. Early in the 3rd round Hearns lands a big right that wobbles Astorga. Astorga spends most of the round running away, but continues to get tagged by crosses.

Astorga's defense gets penetrated as the fight continues. Hearns throws combinations to the head and body to keep him in control of the fight. Astorga throws many jabs but most are blocked by Hearns.

Late in the 5th round Hearns lands a perfect right hand to the chin of Astorga. Astorga goes down hard but gets up before the 10 count and makes it out of the round.

In the later rounds Hearns dominates Astorga landing the majority of his jabs and power rights. Astorga does not give up but continues to take a beating. The commentators recommend that the Astorga's corner should throw in the towel.

Hearns clearly takes the 7th round off, throwing much less than previous rounds. This is undoubtedly Astorga's best round but still nothing impressive. Hearns picks it back up in the 8th, knocking down Astorga again with a hard right while Astroga gets stuck in the corner. Astorga gets up but referee Jay Nady stops the fight.

Ronald Hearns receives his 18th victory.


The second fight on the undercard is between the 29 year olds Jose Navarro and Cristian Mijares. Mijares is defending his title in this super flyweight fight.

Both fighters come out swinging. Navarro is the busier fighter throwing and landing many hooks to Mijares' head. Mijares spends almost the entire first round with a confident grin. Both fighters' punches are fast and accurate.

Mijares does not use much upper body movement and concentrates most of his energy on his jab and counter punches. Mijares defense looks poor as Navarro lands jabs and hooks to his head early in the fight. Mijares steps it back up and lands lightning fast flurries to the head of Navarro. Navarro's nose begins to gush in the second round.

Mijares is winning the early rounds but not as easily as many anticipated. Towards the middle rounds, Mijares starts using fast upper body movements and dodges most of Navarro's punches.

Mijares throws many combinations of hooks that land. He mixes it up throwing them to the head and body. Navarro has trouble landing his punches due to Mijares crisp body movement. Mijares corner encourages him to throw more punches.

As the fight continues Mijares shows off his impressive defense, blocking and dodging Navarro's punches. Mijares continues to set up combinations with his stiff jab. Navarro does not appear to be discouraged and continues to throw and landing more in the later rounds.

Navarro appears to realize that he is losing the fight and turns up the intensity in the 9th. He begins throwing more combinations and landing a lot of them. Mijares matches the activity and doubles up on the jab and scoring with his own combinations. Although behind on my scorecard, Navarro's activity is high as he averages over 100 punches a round through the 10th.

In the 11th, a nasty cut opens up above Navarro's eye. The ref takes 2 time outs for his cut man to take a look at it. The cut is bad enough for a stoppage but going into the 12th it does not look like that's going to happen. Mijares seizes the opportunity and loads up the left.

2 judges give the fight to Mijares
Strangely, 1 judge scores the fight 120-108 to Navarro

Mijares wins a split decision and keeps his title.


The last fight of the undercard is another super flyweight bout between Martin Castillo and Fernando Montiel. Montiel defends his title for a 3rd time.

Montiel and Castillo start off with a lot of movement and a lot of jabs. Montiel lands a hard leftand puts Castillo on the canvas in the middle of the 1st round. Castillo gets up slowly. Montiel tries to capitalize and gets Castillo in trouble. Early in the 2nd, Montiel continues to abuse Castillo with hard hooks. Castillo gets backed into the ropes and does his best to block the shots.

Montiel keeps up the pressure and throws hard combinations and lands at will. In the 4th round Montiel lands a nasty combination in the corner and crushes Castillo with a body shot. Castillo can't get up before the 10 count.

K.O. Victory for Montiel

Pavlik-Taylor Round By Round Coverage Tonight

Not fortunate enough to be in Las Vegas for the big rematch between Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor? Not going to be by a television or (like me) going to be stuck working at 9 pm eastern? Come back and visit us here at BoxingWatchers.com for live coverage of the undercard and round by round updates and scoring of the main event by our own Spartan117 and Uatu.


Prediction: Kelly Pavlik Vs. Jermain Taylor

The Franchise says...

It's funny that most analysis of this fight is approaching it from the viewpoint that all the pressure is on Taylor, that he's the one with everything to prove. Since he lost the first fight, I guess that's only natural. But as someone who was present in the crowd at Boardwalk Hall the first time these two men went at it, allow me to present the opposing school of thought.

I think Pavlik has as much, if not more, pressure on him this time around. He's the champ now, even though his title is not on the line. He carries a whole city on his shoulders, and it's possible - though not likely, given his blue collar approach to the sport - that he's not quite as hungry as he was going into the first fight. He's also the favorite this time, no longer the plucky underdog.

Pavlik's got power on his side, obviously, a ton of heart and a relentless attacking style. He was also in better shape for the first fight, though Taylor has vowed that won't be an issue this time. One thing I know for sure: Pavlik is not a better boxer.

Taylor was ahead on all cards when he was knocked out, and rightfully so. Though he had some initial problems with Pavlik's offense - and who wouldn't? - he made some very subtle adjustments to his timing that were serving him well. In the middle rounds, he was allowing Pavlik to back him toward the ropes, then coming forward at the very last minute and beating his opponent to the punch. It was winning him rounds until he ran out of gas and got caught.

If he gets caught again, he'll get knocked out again. And that's very possible, but I don't think it will happen. My guess is that if no one gets knocked out early, the rounds will start to pile up in Taylor's favor. Late in the fight, Pavlik will have to look for the knockout, and it will open him up to be the one who gets caught this time.

Uatu told me that going back to an old trainer never works, and it does seem slightly crazy to me that a boxer's fortunes could actually improve after leaving the services of Emanuel Steward. Despite all that, and despite the fact that Ohio will be in full force to cheer on its champ, I'm picking Taylor by late KO.

Uatu says...
First, Cory Spinks was on FNF last night, sorry there's no write up. Uatu loves his ring entrances. Cory talked a little about Pavlik Taylor II, he picked Pavlik, and a little about his father Leon's fight with Ali. Spinks looked a little heavy in the face, but not too bloated, and his voice was much deeper than expected and that we've heard in the ring. He was very laid back.

On to the big fight. As soon as the fight was announced, Pavlik by KO again seemed like the obvious call. As the fight grows closer, Taylor seems more and more confident. Is it false bluster? Will he be cautious and stay away and just try to pile up the points? Or will he take it straight to Pavlik and eat the right hands? What to make of the extra pounds?

Uatu does not believe the extra weight is going to make any difference, and Uatu does not think that Taylor going back to his old trainer will matter at all either. The call is Pavlik by the points. He takes it to Taylor again, Taylor survives, but gets the worst of it.
Pavlik UD 12

Taylor - Pavlik Weigh-in

Both fighters are 164.

Uatu just isn't feeling the electricity for this fight for some reason. Unlike the Franchise and Spartan, Uatu wasn't at Pavlik-Taylor I, so maybe he can't appreciate the rabid Ohioans presence like they might be able to.


Twenty-Twenty Hindsight: Punisher Needs New Plan, Berto Needs Tougher Foes

Hats off to Carlos Quintana. He fought a heck of a fight Saturday night against Paul Williams, and even though I scored it a draw, I certainly have no problem with the judges scoring seven or eight of the rounds for the new champ. Certainly, Quintana won several rounds decisively, while a couple of rounds I gave to Williams could have gone either way.

It's funny that in the pre-fight show, Williams scoffed at the notion that it was his style that gave his opponents fits. Turns out that assessment may have more astute than The Punisher would like to admit, because Quintana had the answer for his style, and there really didn't seem to be anything Williams could do about it. Like The Punisher of comic book fame, Williams' instinct is to come out guns blazing. The difference is that Frank Castle has a whole wealth of other tricks at his disposal, while Williams doesn't seem to have a back-up plan if his overwhelming firepower falls flat.

Except for some rounds where he showed increased head movement, Williams looked lost on defense, as Quintana was able to find the mark with numerous left hands. He's also in trouble if he falls behind on points, because as the HBO announce team correctly pointed out, he doesn't have the power to turn a fight around with a single punch.

While The Punisher goes back to the drawing board, no such retooling is needed for Andre Berto, who made overmatched Michel Trabant quit after six rounds. The funniest comment on the night, made by HBO ringside scorer Harold Lederman, was also quite true: Berto hit Trabant with every punch known to man.

Berto is blessed with both skill and natural athleticism, but until he fights some tougher opposition, we won't know exactly where he stands. My brother Uatu text-messaged me after the fight to ask if I thought Berto would beat Quintana. My answer: not yet. But one more fight against a more talented boxer and I might change my mind.

Or even better, why don't Quintana and Berto just fight each other and then we'll know for sure?


Thoughts on Countdown to Taylor-Pavlik

Every Countdown show is can't-miss entertainment. Each one is welcome and certainly better than the alternative of no show. However, the last few have been a little flat. Sure, styles make fights, and styles make a Countdown show. Pavlik and Taylor are both on the calm, quiet side, and both are family men. Also, we have now seen some of the same fighters in more than one show, and for some of those guys not much interesting has taken place between times on the show.

The show is still great, is still to be loved, but perhaps they need to re-energize it a bit somehow.


Round By Round: Williams Vs. Quintana

We're wasting no time tonight with the main event fight featuring Paul "The Punisher" Williams and Carlos Quintana. Williams comes in unofficially at 164; Quintana at 158. That gives Williams a weight advantage to go with his height and work rate advantages.

Williams going with the mohawk tonight!

Round 1

Quintana landing to the body but he has to hop in to do it. He's pushing the fight and lands a left inside. Nice combo in return by Williams. Another good left upstairs by Quintana. Lots of tie-ups by Quintana which is smart strategy. Right inside by Quintana in the middle of a nice exchange.

Franchise: Quintana 10-9
Spartan117: Williams 10-9
Uatu: Quintana 10-9

Round 2

Williams comes out jabbing. He's showing more head movement on defense as well. Quintana moving well and picking his spots to come inside behind the left. Combo to the body by Quintana before they tie up. Straight right by Quintana. Big left to the head and follow-up to the body and Williams has no clue at this point. Quintana fighting such a smart fight right now.

Franchise: Quintana 10-9
Spartan117: Quintana 10-9
Uatu: Quintana 10-9

Round 3

Williams lands a right hand. He's coming forward more now but has not solved his foe. Both guys showing some grit along the ropes. Williams starting to push the pace, which he needs to do. Ref really letting them go in clinches which benefits Quintana. First good combo by Williams but Quintana comes right back. Williams backs Quintana into the corner at the bell and that was a close round.

Franchise: Williams 10-9
Spartan117: Williams 10-9
Uatu: Quintana 10-9

Round 4

Quintana just avoids some big shots; both guys are scoring with jabs. Good left upstairs by Quintana but he eats return fire. Some swelling on Williams' face now. Right hand lands for Quintana. Two-punch combo lands for Williams. He gets tagged coming in and Quintana avoids the counter-punches. Brief flurry at the bell by Williams. Close again but Quintana landed the harder shots.

Franchise: Quintana 10-9
Spartan117: Williams 10-9
Uatu: Williams 10-9

Round 5

Quintana rushes in with a big right. Good left may be Williams' best punch so far. Quintana able to tie up at all the right times. He goes to the body now. Uppercuts inside by Williams. Looping left still landing occasionally by Quintana, but he does seem to be slowing. Not much of consequence either way but Williams may have won it on pure work rate.

Franchise: Williams 10-9
Spartan117: Williams 10-9
Uatu: Williams 10-9

Round 6

Quick tie up and they pound on each other in the clinch. Stick and move by Quintana but Williams finds the range with a left to the head. He comes in and Quintana has to run away. Quintana hits with a left and ties up repeatedly. Another nice left upstairs. Williams responds to the body. Kellerman says Williams may have an inside advantage, strangely enough. Left hand and a right to the body by The Punisher. Close round with Williams rallying late.

Franchise: Quintana 10-9
Spartan117: Quintana 10-9
Uatu: Williams 10-9

Round 7

Lederman has it even after six rounds. Quick left bu Quintana but it is losing some snap. Definite swelling under Williams' right hand. Quintana eats punches from both hands. Both guys score with left hands upstairs. A lot of wrestling now. Quick right makes Quintana wince. They trade in the middle of the ring and Williams scoring with more punches. Right uppercut right before the bell and with the pace quickened it's bad news for Quintana.

Franchise: Williams 10-9
Spartan117: Quintana 10-9
Uatu: Williams 10-9

Round 8

Light punches land by Williams. He hits Quintana coming out of the clinch. Quintana still gamely throwing lefts but more of them are missing their mark. Three-punch combo lands from Williams but no real damage done. Announcers discuss the cuts on William's face; he still looks okay though. Jabs and right hooks finding the target for Williams.

Franchise: Williams 10-9
Spartan117: Williams 10-9
Uatu: Williams 10-9

Round 9

Left by Quintana but he's stung in return. Continuous left uppercuts by Williams in the clinch. Both men land combos; Quintana is forced back. Strong left by Quintana, the question us whether he can put anything with it. Williams landing frequently with the jab and now both guys trade shots. Blood flowing from both of Williams' eyes now. Nice right hand bu Quintana and he moves well to end the round.

Franchise: Quintana 10-9
Spartan117: Quintana 10-9
Uatu: Quintana 10-9

Round 10

Three rounds to go and it would not surprise me if this fight is up in the air with the judges. Tentative start to this round. Quintana picking his spots though he is getting hit in return almost every time. Now he scores again with a left upstairs. Williams backs him up with repeated jabs. There's a left by Quintana and a combo in return by Williams. Inside shots by Quintana and he gets hit by a combo again. Slappy punches at the end of the tenth, that's another close round.

Franchise: Quintana 10-9
Spartan117: Williams 10-9
Uatu: Quintana 10-9

Round 11

Williams starts out strong as Lederman has it tied up right now. Both guys trade and Quintana has rediscovered some of his earlier power. A boatload of wrestling in the corner. Williams out-working Quintana in this round with only a minute to go. They stand and trade with Quintana landing harder shots but Williams landing more. That round could have gone either way.

Franchise: Williams 10-9
Spartan117: Quintana 10-9
Uatu: Quintana 10-9

Round 12

Quintana looked confident on his stool between rounds. Both men look like they will go for broke here. Nice right hand by Quintana. Strafing right hand by Williams and low left by Quintana. Ref checks cuts on both men. A lot of wrestling breaking up the flow. Body shots both ways. Williams definitely trying to go after his foe but Quintana is too cagey to get trapped. Nice exchange with Quintana smothering the champ when necessary. Williams lands right before the bell and he may have done enough to win that last round.

Franchise: Williams 10-9
Spartan117: 10-10
Uatu: Williams 10-9

A very nice effort by Quintana and a difficult decision for the judges, I would think.

Franchise and Uatu score it a draw 114-114; Spartan117 scores it 115-114 for Williams; The judges score it 115-113, 116-112 and 116-112, all for the new WBO welterweight champion Carlos Quintana.

Round By Round: Berto Vs. Trabant

We're almost ready to go on HBO's Boxing After Dark. The announcers are hyping Berto as someone who can be marketed as a star if he continues to win.

Berto enters the ring tonight at 158, Trabant at 150. Kind of surprising to see Michael Buffer on hand, though since Paul Williams has a title this could easily have been a World Championship Boxing telecast.

It's Trabant's first fight in the U.S., and though he has 43 wins he has only 19 knockouts. Berto is 20-0 with 17 KO's. Kellerman calls Berto the welterweight division's top prospect - no argument there.

Round 1

Tentative start but Berto immediately looks to have the hand speed advantage. Nice 1-2 combos off the jab by Berto. Trabant tries some jabs to the head and body. Trabant's head already showing some redness. A definite feeling out round if there ever was one.

Franchise: 10-9 Berto
Spartan117: 10-9 Berto

Round 2

Trabant more jabs but nothing with them. Good right and left to the head by Berto and he pushes the tempo. Now Trabant does a little work along the ropes. Right and left coming in by Berto and they tie up. Left to the body by Berto. Double lefts by Berto. He looks to have many options at his disposal. Announcers discussing Berto's resemblance to Reggie Bush.

Franchise: 10-9 Berto
Spartan117: 10-9 Berto

Round 3:

Berto looks to the body to start the round. Trabant has to lunge on a lot of his punches. Berto doing a little more stalking and scores with rights to the head and body. Double lefts and an uppercut. Berto waving his opponent in now too. Trabant blocking some shots but a few are sneaking through. Vicious right uppercut lands and left hooks are following from Berto. Quite the clinic of power punching in that round and Trabant looks overmatched.

Franchise: 10-9 Berto
Spartan117: 10-9 Berto

Round 4:

Triple jabs by Berto and Trabant is in full retreat. Trabant comes forward a bit but nothing serious lands. Hooks from both hands by Berto. Even Berto's jabs snap his foe's head back. Now Berto is backed into a corner but he's in no real danger. Big right over the top but Trabant blocks the uppercut that follows. Best round for Trabant though that's not saying much and Berto still took it.

Franchise: 10-9 Berto
Spartan117: 10-9 Berto

Round 5

Tempo picks up at the start of this round but it quickly settles again. Plenty of jabs by Berto but Trabant is blocking most of the second shots. Possibly the first 1-2 combo by Trabant - he doesn't show much power though. Right hook to body and left uppercut by Berto. Nice right cross by Berto lands right before the bell.

Franchise: 10-9 Berto
Spartan117: 10-9 Berto

Round 6

Berto comes out firing with both hands. Right uppercut and straight right; those look painful. Berto digs to the body with the left hand. Again, Trabant can't do much but jab back in return. Left to the body and head and Trabant swelling a little more. I agree with Max Kellerman - Trabant looks like no threat and Berto needs to step up in competition. Hooks and an uppercut by Berto bring a reaction from the crowd.

Franchise: 10-9 Berto
Spartan117: 10-8 Berto

It's over, as Trabant won't come out to start the seventh round. Nice showing by Berto - he definitely has the complete arsenal of punches, plus speed and power.

The winner by sixth round TKO, Andre Berto. At the time of the stoppage, Franchise had the score 60-54 Berto, Spartan117 had it 60-53 Berto.

Williams-Quintana and Berto-Trabant Round By Round Coverage Tonight

Make sure you visit BoxingWatchers.com later tonight for live round by round coverage of Paul "The Punisher" Williams versus Carlos Quintana. We'll also bring you the main undercard fight featuring rising star Andre Berto.


Predictions: Williams-Quintana and Berto-Trabant

Uatu does not see it necessary to wait for the weigh-ins as is his usual practice. Williams TKO late. Berto KO early.

The Franchise says...

Paul Williams feels like he should be in a position to fight some of the sport's biggest names, but instead he's stuck with a less well-known opponent who happens to be no pushover. In this situation, boxers can either use the perceived slight as motivation or sulk and get beaten by overlooking the man they're actually fighting. I'm guessing we'll see the former from The Punisher.

Quintana is a rugged customer who gave Miguel Cotto a pretty decent scrap for five rounds back in late 2006. But Williams has big advantages in height and reach, has a relentless punch output and youth is on his side. He may have a little trouble getting Quintana out of there, so I'm going with Williams UD 12.

As for Berto, this is the kind of fight he simply must win, and win convincingly, if he's going to continue his rise to stardom. Judging by the lack of recognizable names his opponent Michel Trabant has fought, there's no reason to think Berto won't take care of business. Berto by KO.


Ducked Versus Feared: The Paul Williams Dilemma

Who is the most ducked boxer in the sport today? I think it may be Miguel Cotto, who seems to have done everything necessary to prove himself a worthy foil for the Mayweathers and De La Hoyas of the boxing world. But Steve Kim of Maxboxing.com nominated another top candidate in his column today: WBO welterweight champion Paul "The Punisher" Williams.

He'd love to fight Cotto, Floyd or Oscar. Unfortunately for boxing fans, none of those matches look like they will take place any time soon. That's evidence in and of itself that he's being ducked, but as promoter Dan Goosen tells Kim, it may be more than that: the big names in the sport may be afraid to fight him.

Not just because they'd lose to Williams, though since he's 33-0 with 24 knockouts, there's always that possibility. Today's most famous boxers are hesitant to fight guys like Williams because they see it as a lose-lose proposition.

Take Floyd Mayweather, for example. Williams' trainer mentions in the column that Paul and Floyd fight at or near the same weight, and though PBF calls himself the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, he won't fight The Punisher. I agree with his reasoning, but it's also not hard for me to see what Floyd sees.

Aside from the fact that a Mayweather-Williams fight wouldn't make the kind of money PBF looks for every time out at this point of his career - because Williams isn't well-known among the general public - Mayweather has too little to gain by taking him on. If he would win, he'd be expected to so. If he would lose, it would be seen as a huge upset by casual fans - again, because they don't know his opponent too well.

But there's an additional element here too, because Floyd could win the fight and still look bad in the process. With Williams' height and high punch output, it would be extremely difficult to beat him and look good doing it. Fighters known to be defensive masters get avoided for a similar reason, but when you add in the added danger of Williams knocking you out, the risk to reward ratio just gets too high.

Toward the end of the column, Kim mentions that the only real option for Williams is to keep winning until other fighters can't help including him in their plans. As fans, all we can do is keep the faith and hope that the various motivations of boxers at different status levels in the sport align down the road and give us the fights we want to see.