20-20 Hindsight: The Tornado Rumbles, Toney Doesn't Win After All and More

All hail the Tijuana Tornado!

Really, that's the best way I can sum up Antonio Margarito's impressive performance during his much-anticipated fight last Saturday against Miguel Cotto. It wasn't the things he showed us - the stifling pressure, the granite chin and the power - as much as the way he put them together. It was easy to believe his post-fight assertion that he could feel the fight turning his way in the middle rounds, and that if he stuck with his plan, he'd come away with the win.

As a fan, it's also easy to feel good about Margarito winning on such a big stage. His crowd-pleasing style is great for boxing, he carries himself well and genuinely seems to enjoy all aspects of his chosen profession. The sport could do a lot worse than to have more champions like him.

That's taking nothing away from Cotto, who fought the most skillful bout I've ever seen from him. Realizing fairly early on that he would be the worse for wear if he just stood and traded with Margarito, he showed excellent lateral movement and was able to use his jab and quick combos to stay out of trouble for quite a while. I've always agreed with those who felt Cotto's boxing skills didn't get enough credit, and nothing that happened Saturday changed my mind.

Still, it was a jarring sight to see the undefeated champ bloodied and reduced to taking a knee from Margarito's onslaught. Cotto simply ran out of gas and answers, and I'm sure his pride hurt even more than his body when his corner threw in the towel.

As for the fight itself, it was very enjoyable and worth paying to see, unlike some other pay-per-view offerings coming this fall (cough, Casamayor-Marquez, cough). It had plenty of action and suspense, though maybe not exactly the kind that was expected. I'd stop short of calling it an all-time classic however, as it didn't have the kind of ebb and flow that the very best matches tend to have.

Margarito certainly seems to have numerous options coming off his big win. Could one be Oscar De La Hoya? Dan Rafael of ESPN says it's possible. Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports says the Golden Boy will be looking to fight anyone but Margarito for his supposed final bout, and I can't see Oscar risking permanent damage to his omnipresent smile by stepping in against the Tijuana Tornado.

Steve Kim reports for MaxBoxing that there are obstacles to a Margarito-Paul Williams rematch (subscription needed to read), so the most likely immediate opponents are either the Shane Mosley-Ricardo Mayorga winner or the Zab Judah-Josh Clottey victor. Jake Donovan agrees that the stakes are higher for Judah-Clottey now that Margarito is on top and looking for his next dance partner.

Meanwhile, the AP is reporting that the California State Athletic Commission has changed the James Toney-Hasim Rahman decision from a TKO to a no decision. It's probably the "right" call since Rahman's cut was ruled to have been caused by a head butt, but it still sucks to see The Rock win his appeal when he pretty obviously was hoping to escape from what was looking more and more like an eventual loss at Toney's hands. Lights Out is bound to be extremely motivated if they face each other again.


Round by Round: Cotto vs. Margarito

The most highly anticipated fight of 2008 is almost ready to begin. We're just a few minutes away from seeing Miguel Cotto take on Antonio Margarito, but we've got three national anthems to get through first. Leading off is the Mexican anthem by Rocky, followed by the Puerto Rican anthem. Jasmine Villegas handles the "Star-Spangled Banner." 

The tale of the tape shows both fighters weighing in at 147 pounds with equal arm lengths. Margarito, of course, has a height advantage of several inches.

Margarito comes to the ring first, sporting a red headband and representing Mexico with his country's colors on the hood of his robe. Cotto's robe has angel wings on it. The crowd sounds like it's split pretty evenly between the two fighters.

Kenny Bayless is the referee for tonight's fight. Michael Buffer handles the introductions with his usual flair. Both men look like they are in fantastic shape, though Cotto looks maybe a tad thin. And we're ready to go.

Round 1

Cotto working the jab early and Margarito not rushing in as fast as you may think. Nice left uppercut to the body by Tony. Two nice 1-2 combos by Cotto. He's been backing up a lot but he's boxing well. Left hands both ways and a brief flurry by Cotto. Left uppercut by Margarito and he eats some straight shots back. Cotto looking very sharp with counters. Miguel warned for some shots right on the beltline.

Franchise: 10-9 Cotto
Uatu: 10-9 Cotto
Spartan117: 10-9 Cotto

Round 2

Cotto lands a right as Tony tries to work the jab. Nice flurry by Cotto and he ducks away from return fire. Margarito tries to pressure along the ropes but Cotto works off the ropes well. Nice right by Tony. Now Margarito pressures and Cotto has to cover up. Nice left by Cotto. They trade in the corner as the crowd gets into it. Left hooks crash home by Cotto; Tony fires back with a right. Another good exchange along the ropes. Cotto works a nice combo, jumps away then right back in with a left before the bell.

Franchise: 10-9 Cotto
Uatu: 10-9 Cotto
Spartan117: 10-9 Cotto

Round 3

Big swing and a miss by Tony as Cotto backs. Counter shot by Cotto and he ducks away again. More good work both ways from close range. Body shots by Tony and a right upstairs. Stiff jab by Margarito. Cotto picks his spots; Margarito is warned for low shots. Cotto gets a little space with a left and Tony is warned for a second time. Both men land lefts at the same time. Good exchanges along the ropes and in the center in the waning seconds.

Franchise: 10-9 Cotto
Uatu: 10-9 Cotto
Spartan117: 10-9 Cotto

Round 4

Harold Lederman gave the second round to Margarito. The action in the third starts in the center of the ring. Tony is jabbing in a little more now. The first minute is fairly uneventful. Body shot by Miguel answered by a stiff uppercut. It looks like a headbutt as both men get in close. Straight right by Margarito. Stiff left in the corner by Cotto. Tony has the edge briefly in the corner and Cotto works his way out again.

Franchise: 10-9 Margarito
Uatu: 10-9 Margarito
Spartan117: 10-9 Margarito

Round 5

Cotto still sticking and circling to start the fifth. The announcers think Tony could be cutting off the ring more effectively. Good right along the ropes by Margarito, and another. Jabs both ways. Uppercut from Cotto. Two quick left hands from Cotto find the mark. Now a good flurry as Margarito can't get off. Cotto is moving well but he's using a lot of energy staying mobile. With 10 seconds left, Margarito finally scores with a few rights, but it may have been too little, too late.

Franchise: 10-9 Cotto
Uatu: 10-9 Cotto
Spartan117: 10-9 Cotto

Round 6

Margarito was very inaccurate in that last round, but we know he will just keep coming. His corner wants him to actually pick up the quantity, if that's possible. Low shot by Tony and Cotto lands a pair of uppercuts. Now they stand and try to trade along the ropes, but both men cover up well. Tony is trying to throw, he's just having trouble finding openings. A quick flurry and an uppercut by Cotto. Now a right hand scores for Tony, though Cotto comes right back. Triple right hands by Margarito but they may not have landed clean.

Franchise: 10-9 Cotto
Uatu: 10-9 Cotto
Spartan117: 10-9 Cotto

Round 7

The drama in this fight is a bit different than what was expected, but it's still compelling. Tony starts strong along the ropes with body and head punches. They fight into the opposite corner and Cotto finally looks like he may be stunned a bit. Cotto looks wobbly as he gets hit with lefts and rights. Several shots look like they may be low both ways. Cotto scores with a few of his own punches. More body shots by Tony along the ropes and Miguel is forced to clinch twice. Uppercuts crash home for Tony and Cotto is bloody.

Franchise: 10-9 Margarito
Uatu: 10-9 Margarito
Spartan117: 10-9 Margarito

Round 8

We'll see if the momentum is starting to swing. Cotto returns to his lateral movement, which he almost has to do. A little more clinching now than before. The crowd starts a Mexico chant. Left hands by Cotto and he dances to the side. Less action in this round and it favors the champ. Tony comes in behind multiple uppercuts. Great combo by Cotto with ten seconds to go.

Franchise: 10-9 Cotto
Uatu: 10-9 Cotto
Spartan117: 10-9 Margarito

Round 9

Cotto strikes with quick shots and moves back. Lederman has the fight even through eight. Good flurry by Cotto and Margarito goes back to work. Tony briefly gets the upper hand and Cotto clinches to escape. Cotto switches southpaw for a minute. Very nice boxing display by the champ rights now as he unleashes another flurry while backed against the ropes. Constant pressure by Margarito as always, but he just didn't land as many punches.

Franchise: 10-9 Cotto
Uatu: 10-9 Cotto
Spartan117: 10-9 Cotto

Round 10

Jab by Cotto and he still has some bounce in his legs. More jabs as he circles left. Combo work by Miguel and he ducks back. Tony doing a little holding as he tries to track down his foe. Nice left hand upstairs by Cotto. Another good left though Tony scores with a right in response. Good right hand snaps Margarito's head back. Tony finally tracks him down but most of his punches are picked off. Now Margarito lands a big flurry and may have Cotto hurt. Tough round to score thanks to that last exchange.

Franchise: 10-9 Cotto
Uatu: 10-9 Cotto
Spartan117: 10-9 Cotto

Round 11

Margarito clearly feeling confident after the end of the tenth. He wades in and Cotto is still game, landing a two-punch combo. Overhand right by Tony coming in. Left to the head by Tony. Left-right combo forces Cotto to take a knee and he is bloody! Cotto is holding on for dear life and he's knocked to a knee again in the corner. Relentless pressure by Margarito has forced the champ to wilt and the ref has called it.

Replays showed that the first knockdown came thanks to a left-right combo, both of which were uppercuts. Margarito just kept throwing, and Cotto took the second knee completely of his own will. Cotto's corner threw in the towel because he clearly had nothing left.

The winner by TKO at 2:05 of the 11th round... and new WBA welterweight champion... Antonio Margarito.

Not surprisingly, Margarito threw and landed more punches, but Cotto landed at a higher percentage. Tony gives credit to Cotto for being a strong fighter, but he told his corner he would get the knockout, and it did come. He says he was never hurt, and felt he could press the action even more beginning with the sixth round. 

Steward says you can beat Margarito over the course of one or two rounds, but it's too difficult to hang in with him for 12 rounds because of the volume and variety of punches he throws. Lampley doesn't think Cotto's reputation will take too much of a hit because he performed well. Replays of the last round confirm that Cotto did indeed take the second knee with no punches landing, though he got hit with several hard body shots after the first knockdown.

Kellerman tries to get an interview with Cotto, but the former champ is apparently too emotional to grant him one. Max thinks Miguel will have to do some soul-searching after this loss, as he's used to breaking down his opponents and he had his own will broken tonight.

Live Blog: Cotto-Margarito Undercard

The Cotto-Margarito pay-per-view is underway. We're wasting no time getting to the first undercard fight, which features Filipino boxer Bernabe Concepcion taking on Adam Carrera.

Jim Lampley mentions that Carrera has already had four medical suspensions in a relatively young career. He sticks the jab often in the first round and stays busier in general. Freddie Roach is in Concepcion's corner.

Concepcion looks bigger in the upper body and hits harder when he lands. But he's getting beaten to the punch more often than not in the early rounds. A right hand sends Carrera to the canvas about halfway through the third round, then a sharp uppercut knocks him down again about 30 seconds later. Carrera looks out of it and referee Joe Cortez calls a stop to it.

Concepcion wins by TKO at 2:14 of Round 3.

The announce team mentions that Cotto has already been in the arena for about an hour and a half, while Margarito is just arriving. The next fight is a super lightweight bout between undefeated prospect Mike Alvarado and Cesar Bazan.

Alvarado shows some serious pop right out of the box, and Max Kellerman thinks Bazan is pretty shopworn, though he's able to land a few uppercuts in response. The first round is a close one, with both men landing power shots. The second and third rounds bring more of the same, with the crowd really getting into it at the end of the third as the fighters stand and trade along the ropes.

With about 30 seconds left in the fourth round, Alvarado unloads a barrage along the ropes and Bazan crumples to the ground. He can't get up, and Alvarado gets the win.

Alvarado wins by KO at 2:46 of the fourth round.

Alvarado give himself a strong B or B+ for his effort. He feels like he's a top-10 fighter in his division, and he'd like a chance to fight anyone ranked above him.

With the first two undercard fights ending so quickly, it's time for the PPV team to fill. Lampley, Kellerman and Manny Steward take a look back at Cotto's last three fights.

That doesn't last too long, and we're on to a 108-pound fight between Giovanni Segura and Cesar Canchila. Segura makes a quick switch from conventional to southpaw and back, which is something the announcers said to watch for in the early going.

Segura starts strong and seems to wobble Canchila twice in the first 90 seconds. He escapes the first round without going down though, and he's lively enough to be throwing plenty of return punches of his own. Canchila's corner is telling him to jab, but neither man showed much inclination to do that in the first three minutes.

A minute into the second, Canchila gets dropped by a right hand. He's back up and swinging but Segura is looking good so far. Replays show that Segura knockdown came on a counter shot that wasn't quite as hard as it first looked.

Canchila appears none the worse for wear in the third round, and may have actually done enough work to win the round. Lampley makes a good point that Cesar may have a better chance of winning if he does more boxing, but the temptation to stand in and swing away seems too strong.

The fourth round is also good for Canchila. Segura is still coming forward but looks like he may be tiring. He rallies a bit at the end of the fifth when he lands a couple of shots that stun Canchila again, but he's losing a lot of the middle rounds.

Round eight is a bit more even with Segura getting in more offense with both hands. Meanwhile, Kellerman talks to Cotto about the main event. He says he prepared for this fight the same way he always does, and he feels no extra pressure because of the Puerto Rico-Mexico rivalry. He also says he's looking forward to capitalizing on Margarito's mistakes.

Canchila knocks Segura into one corner in the opening minute of the tenth round. He continues a two-fisted body attack and looks like he's winning this round as well. We head backstage again for Kellerman's discussion with Margarito, who (not surprisingly) vows to jump on Cotto right from the opening bell.

 It didn't seem like this one was going to go the distance, but it makes it all 12 rounds. We go to the scorecards: 1117-110, 115-112, 117-110, all for Canchila.

Canchila wins by unanimous decision.

Plenty of time for hyping the main event. Lampley runs down a list of memorable sporting events so far in 2008 and thinks Cotto-Margarito could fit right in. Kellerman says there is a possibility of a Hagler-Hearns type of fight, which would be great for boxing.

Live Round By Round Updates Tonight: Cotto-Margarito

We couldn't really continue to call ourselves the BoxingWatchers if we missed this one. Miguel Cotto takes on Antonio Margarito tonight in one of the best fights that could be made at any weight, and if you're like us, you're doing everything in your power to make sure you see it.

But sometimes life gets in the way, right? If you can't catch the fight on TV tonight, bookmark BoxingWatchers.com and get some of the fastest live round by round updates anywhere. The whole staff will be assembled for The Battle!


Predictions: Cotto vs. Margarito

The Franchise says...

It's Christmas in July for fight fans. The present that's about to be unwrapped is the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito clash, and it doesn't even need to completely live up to the hype to be worth watching.

Neither fighter should be lacking for motivation. Margarito sees this as the huge fight he's long been denied - though as Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports recently pointed out, it's actually his 13th career title fight. Cotto feels slighted because the Tijuana Tornado chose to face Paul Williams when they had a real chance to meet last summer. Both men are warriors who will lay it all on the line, and the always hot Puerto Rico-Mexico rivalry adds even more spice to the mix.

Confidence also shouldn't be an issue. Cotto has never tasted defeat, and Margarito bounced back from losing to Williams last July by blowing out Golden Johnson in one round and dropping Kermit Cintron with a brutal body shot three months ago. The boxing skills of both fighters are probably underrated, though they clearly think offense first and are often there to be hit - a fact that actually adds to the excitement of their fights.

Margarito gets the nod in terms of raw, explosive power, while Cotto's attack tends to use consistent punishment to wear opponents down over time. The champ actually has a higher career KO percentage, and he's been in with generally tougher foes that include Shane Mosley, Zab Judah and Paul Malignaggi.

Tony is known as a volume puncher, though the Williams fight showed that he can be slowed down by a boxer who's willing to apply the pressure himself, and Cotto certainly feels comfortable in that role. As he often does, Miguel will be facing a disadvantage in reach, but it's Tony's height that may cause the champ problems. Cotto hasn't faced a foe this tall in years.

I wouldn't be surprised by any outcome in this one, and either man could end up on the wrong side of a first career knockout loss. Still, I see Margarito storming out of the gate early and Cotto weathering the storm. With so many other factors appearing to be roughly equal, I think Cotto has just enough of an edge in boxing ability to win more rounds if it goes the distance. It's probably the toughest fight of the year to call, but I like Cotto to win a narrow, action-packed decision. And the fans, of course, will turn out to be the real winners.

Uatu says...
Uatu loves everything about Margarito.  He loves his attitude, his heart, his chin, his aggressive style, the way he handles his career, and above all the  way he fights.  But, Cotto has been very impressive over the last few years.  This is no knock on Margarito but giving credit to Cotto.  Until someone beats Cotto, or Cotto moves up further in weight, then Uatu cannot pick against him.  Look for Cotto to fight multi-dimensionally and do a little bit of everything like he did against Mosley.  Margarito will probably at least start more aggressively, but Cotto will out speed and skill him to a decision victory.

Spartan117 says...

Judging for Magarito's previous fights, most notably Magarito v. Paul Willams, he does have great attitude and heart just as Uatu stated above.  This will make for a great fight because I predict that Cotto will bring it hard tonight.  He's going to work his trademark body shots but Margarito will be able to fight through them.  Althought, in later rounds Cotto's shots will be too much for Margarito and he'll go down.  Spartan117 predicts a late round KO leading to a Cotto victory.


Round By Round: Jeff Lacy vs. Epifanio Mendoza

The main event of the July 23 edition of Wednesday Night Fights sees Jeff Lacy continuing on his comeback trail against Epi Mendoza, a dangerous opponent who has pulled off some surprises in the past. Lacy is 23-1, though he's won two straight after getting taken apart by Joe Calzaghe in March of 2006. He promises fireworks tonight.

Teddy Atlas says Lacy's key is his famed left hook, while Mendoza needs to land straight right hands when he sees openings. The fighters get their final instructions and we're ready to go.

Round 1

Mendoza flicks the jab. Lacy lands his first left of the fight. Not a lot of lateral movement by either man. Lacy drives Mendoza back with a pair of right hands, then scores with another. Right to the body and Mendoza tries to fire back with uppercuts. Lacy misses a big right and they tie up. Mendoza finding some success with uppercuts from close range. He's warned by the ref for hitting behind the head.

Franchise: 10-9 Lacy
Spartan117: 10-9 Lacy

Round 2

Atlas says Mendoza is standing too wide when the fight is in close so he can't move to get away. Big right lands from Lacy. Now Mendoza fires back with one of his own. Both men try to get something done inside before they clinch a couple of times. Lacy jumps in with a body shot. Two punch combo comes and then Jeff dances back out of the way. Big right stumbles Lacy and he's in trouble! With 40 seconds left in the round, Lacy stuns Mendoza with his own shot. Clubbing right by Lacy and a big left hook. Fantastic action in that round.

Franchise: 10-9 Mendoza
Spartan117: 10-9 Mendoza

Round 3

We'll see who has more left after a crazy second round. Both men winging big shots in close but nothing huge connects. Lacy is leaving himself open as he jumps in. Right uppercut by Mendoza. he's warned for a low shot as they lean on each other. Lacy with two short shots in the corner. Left hook finds the range for Mendoza. Nice two-shot combo by Lacy. Right catches Mendoza leaning back. Mean left right before the bell by Lacy.

Franchise: 10-9 Lacy
Spartan117: 10-9 Lacy

Round 4

Lacy tries some body work but the fight immediately gets to close range. Mendoza is hit low and Lacy receives a warning. Lacy punches his way in and it's back to the proverbial fight in a phone booth. Mendoza fires an uppercut and backs up. Now it's Epi jumping in and missing. Left hooks landing for Lacy and Mendoza fires some lefts back. Lacy is bleeding from the nose. Right from Mendoza and Lacy is quick to fire back. Left-right combo has Mendoza in trouble on the ropes. Big swing and a miss by Jeff as the round ends.

Franchise: 10-9 Lacy
Spartan117: 10-9 Lacy

Round 5

Jabs flowing from Mendoza until he's hit with a right hand. Another right hurts Mendoza and he stumbles forward and almost falls out of the ring. It's not a knockdown though, and Lacy goes back to work. Big right hand by Lacy after he almost got caught with one coming in. Double left hook by Lacy and Mendoza is warned again for a low shot. Good exchange along the ropes closes things out.

Franchise: 10-9 Lacy
Spartan117: 10-9 Lacy

Round 6

Mendoza sends Lacy's mouthpiece flying with a right hand. He looked a little hurt as the fight stops to get it back in. Another right by Mendoza. Now Lacy firing back as they head for the corner. Uppercut by Mendoza in tight. Lacy flurries but nothing significant lands. Stiff left backs Mendoza up a step. More wrestling along the ropes and Lacy lands a left at the bell. Close round but Mendoza probably took it with his work early on.

Franchise: 10-9 Mendoza
Spartan117: 10-9 Mendoza

Round 7

Lacy jumps in with a right hand and they lean on each other once more. Mendoza trying body shots and short punches upstairs. Both men jab out in the middle. Perhaps fatigue is starting to set in on both sides. Nice exchange in the center and Mendoza may have scored the harder shot. Even with the longer arms, Mendoza seems to be more comfortable shortening up his shots inside. Not a spectacular round but it seemed to go Mendoza's way again.

Franchise: 10-9 Mendoza
Spartan117: 10-9 Mendoza

Round 8

Lacy jumping around but both men look tentative. He charges in and picks Mendoza up off the ground. Jabs landing from Mendoza. Two right hooks in a row back Lacy up. He tackles Mendoza and lands hard on top of him by the ropes. Mendoza looks a little shaken and the crowd doesn't like it. The ref gives him a minute to recover because he hit his head on the bottom rope. Mendoza goes back to stalking and lands a left hook. Lacy is wobbled again by a left hand and left hooks follow up. Lacy hangs on until the end of the round but he was definitely in trouble again.

Franchise: 10-9 Mendoza
Spartan117: Mendoza

Round 9

Looping right crashes home from Mendoza though he's backed up by return fire. Both men land left hands. Straight jab hits Lacy square. Mendoza timing Lacy well now but he eats a left hook coming back. Lacy bleeding again, this time from the left eye. Mendoza backs him up with a right hand. Uppercut inside by Mendoza. Now another and a straight right too. Lacy is game as he stands and swings away. Closer round but Epi looked good again.

Franchise: 10-9 Mendoza
Spartan117: 10-9 Mendoza

Round 10

I would not be surprised if this fight is there to be won by either man. Atlas has Mendoza up by one point. Pretty calm opening to the final round. Several tie-ups force the ref to stay active. Mendoza uppercut lands; Lacy trying to hit his signature punch. Left hook by Mendoza. Body shot by Lacy and they tie up again. Both fighters look tired and the crowd is disappointed by the lack of action. Flurry by Lacy as he tries to steal the final round. One-two combo by Lacy. He throws right until the end and may have saved himself from losing the fight.

Franchise: 10-9 Lacy
Spartan117: 10-9 Mendoza

Franchise scores it 95-95, a draw. Spartan 117 scores it 96-94 for Mendoza. The judges score it 95-95, and 96-94 and 97-93 for Lacy.

The winner by majority decision... Jeff Lacy.

Lacy feels like he did a marvelous job for ten rounds; not sure that reflects what actually happened. Atlas asks Lacy if he tackled Mendoza on purpose. He evades the question somewhat but finally claims it was good tactics and experience in the ring. Interesting take.

Wednesday Night Fights Recap - Jose Armando Santa Cruz vs. Miguel Munguia and More

Tonight's Wednesday Night Fights telecast from California features two fighters who are looking to get back in the world title picture: Jose Armando Santa Cruz and Jeff Lacy. The announce team begins with a recap on the health of Oscar Diaz, who is in critical but stable condition following emergency brain surgery after his brutal knockout at the hands of Delvin Rodriguez last Wednesday.

Munguia gives away quite a bit of height and reach and took the fight on shirt notice, so we'll see if he has anything for Santa Cruz. He certainly looks game for a guy who's lost 12 of his last 14, coming forward steadily. Munguia goes crazy with volume and Santa Cruz covers up and rides out the storm.

Joel Casamayor is ringside checking out the action. Munguia threw over 100 punches in the first round but the computer stats say he landed only ten. Santa Cruz is clearly throwing the harder punches and he's starting to find the range in the second round. Some vicious combos start to land late in the second round, but Munguia makes it out in one piece.

Teddy Atlas already thinks we may be seeing the beginning of the end, though you have to give Munguia credit for continuing to hang tough and wing body shots at Santa Cruz. Unless something surprising happens and JASC gets caught, it feels like only a matter of time until he gets the KO.

No big developments in the fourth round as Santa Cruz lands some nice counters over his opponent's jab and dominates in number of punches landed. Munguia is starting to bleed as well.

The fifth round sees the end for Munguia as Santa Cruz jumps in and lands a vicious video game-style left to the body that crumples his foe. It's a knockout, coming at 0:42 of the fifth round.

Next up is undefeated prospect Danny Jacobs taking on Sergio Rios. Jacobs is a 21-year old from Brooklyn who came up just short of making the U.S. Olympic team. He is 7-0 with every win coming by KO. Atlas says he has been in soft so far and is again tonight.

Jacobs starts cautiously but shows great hand speed and a variety of punches that he throws in combinations. Rios goes down after a flurry and makes no effort to get back to his feet. Looks like a right that softened him up and a left-right combo that finished him. Jacobs wins by KO at 2:46 of the first round.

Yet another undefeated prospect is in action in the next undercard fight. Carlos Velasquez - whose twin brother is also an unbeaten up-and-comer - is 7-0 with six knockouts. He's in against David Vasquez, who took the fight on three days notice. Vasquez hasn't won since February of 2000.

Vasquez is bleeding early, but the ref says it's from an accidental clash of heads. Velasquez looks comfortable in the first round, but he really cranks it up in the second. A left hook to the head has Vasquez wobbly, and Velasquez just continues to land undefended shots to the head and body until the ref says enough. A looping right was the icing on the cake. Velasquez takes it by KO at 1:12 of the second round.

This week's edition of Ringside Remembers focuses on Liston-Patterson II. Unfortunately, technical difficulties knock out the video twice and we don't get to see it. Atlas fills by talking about famous first round knockouts in the heavyweight division, including Tyson-Spinks, Marciano-Walcott II, Flynn-Dempsey, Clay-Liston II and Louis-Schmeling II.


Franchise Thoughts: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Quite the mixed bag for us boxing fans this week. First came yet another "WTF?" moment when it was announced that Nikolai Valuev and John Ruiz would fight August 30 for the vacant WBA heavyweight title. I do believe in a higher power, and I also feel He has one tremendous sense of humor to give us a world where these two men would fight twice - and for a title both times!

My favorite part of the story is that Don King submitted a purse bid just $10 over the minimum despite having a vested interest in both men. Folks, when Don King doesn't think he can sell your fight, you know you've got a stinker on your hands.

Then my brother Uatu text messaged me a few days later to point me to the least surprising injury news ever. Namely, that Joe Calzaghe had hurt himself training and his September fight with Roy Jones was postponed.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. JoeCal's fight with Bernard Hopkins was pretty boring, and depending on which Jones shows up, this one could be too. Call me a hopeless optimist, but maybe Calzaghe will get tired of being called a slapper and RJJ will realize he's at the end of the road and they'll both lay it all on the line.

It appears the fight may be rescheduled for November, which if nothing else will give HBO more time to put together episodes of 24/7. They might even have cameras rolling the next time Joe hurts his hand!

Fortunately, we the fight fans have the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito fight coming up to wash the bad taste of all this other stuff out of our mouths. Good stuff by ESPN's Kieran Mulvaney as he discusses how this fight could be the one that turns Cotto into a real star. I think the same could also be said for Margarito, whose crowd-pleasing style seems to need only the right high profile win to catapult him to superstardom.

And speaking of pleasing crowds, Eric Raskin isn't exactly going out on a limb when he calls Cotto-Margarito the one fight to watch to attempt to get your non-boxing-fan friends hooked on the sport. Much more interesting is Raskin's lead, where he talks about the need many of us feel to try to recruit others into the fold.

I have to admit I've felt that way on more than one occasion, and I'm not sure why. Part of it, I'm sure, is that I hear the constant refrains of "boxing is in decline, boxing is dead, blah, blah blah," and I want to show people that it's not true. Some of it is also knowing how exciting boxing can be at it's best, and truly feeling that my friends who are fans of other sports would agree if they would only give it a chance.

In any case, I've certainly done my share of trumpeting the merits of Cotto-Margarito to anyone who would listen. They don't have to watch if they don't want to, but if the fight turns out to be even half as good as experts and fans alike think it might be, it will be their loss.


Franchise Thoughts: Could Help for the Heavyweight Division Come From MMA?

As the world of televised boxing takes a bit of a breather this weekend to prepare us for the stellar Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito clash next Saturday, MMA gets the spotlight all to itself. By the sound of it though, some of the bigger (literally) names on tonight's Affliction card are thinking about giving boxing a try.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski already has his foot in the door. He'll have Freddie Roach in his corner tonight, and the boxing trainer extraordinaire thinks The Pitbull has what it takes to become a legit heavyweight boxer. Arlovski was rumored to be fighting on the undercard of the September 13 Joel Casamayor-Juan Manuel Marquez PPV telecast, and while that plan appears to have fallen through, I wouldn't be shocked to see him in a boxing ring in the near future.

The man facing Fedor Emelianenko tonight, Tim Sylvia, also has boxing on his mind. As reported by Dave Meltzer of Yahoo! Sports, Sylvia - also a former UFC heavyweight titlist - hinted that he'd like to take a stab at the sweet science:

“Absolutely, if the money was there, I believe I could beat any heavyweight boxer out there at his own game,” he said. “I’m that confident in my stand-up. I’d love for some boxing promotion to approach me with one of the top heavyweights because I’d probably beat them."

You don't even have to dig very far into Sylvia's quote to find out what's got both men considering a slight change of profession. Even with the skyrocketing popularity of MMA, the current business model doesn't allow most of the fighters to make the kind of money the top boxers make. And with a heavyweight division that everyone agrees is in disarray (okay, not everyone), it's not hard to see the same opportunity Arlovski and Sylvia see.

Both men have size on their side, especially Sylvia, who would look down at Wladimir Klitschko and outweigh him by a good 20 pounds. Sylvia claims to have had some boxing training and Arlovski is already working with Roach. Both are obviously good athletes (Sylvia haters may disagree!) who know how to throw and take a punch.

But could they really make a switch at this point in their careers and make it to world-class level in boxing? I'm skeptical. Arlovski is 29 and Sylvia is a few years older. They'd have to adjust extremely quickly to the differences in timing and spacing between the two sports and acclimate themselves to using bigger, heavier gloves.

Still, as a boxing fan, I say the more the merrier, especially at heavyweight. I'm not so sure it would be as easy as Sylvia thinks, but it might be fun to watch them try. And as anyone who sat through Klitschko-Ibragimov a few months ago would surely agree, the current crop of boxing heavyweights could use an injection of fun.


Franchise Thoughts: Pavlik-Hopkins? WTF?

Sorry about the vulgar connotation of the post title, but that was exactly the reaction I had when reading ESPN's Dan Rafael reporting that Kelly Pavlik will take on Bernard Hopkins on October 18. I enjoy watching The Ghost fight and I respect The Executioner for his longevity and his undeniable skills. Together? Not quite the same feeling.

I understand that Pavlik was having trouble putting together a meaningful fight. Rafael mentions Sergio Mora, Paul Williams and Winky Wright among the list of possibilities that didn't pan out. There's no question that on the basis of name recognition alone, the fight will sell. Even better for those of us here at BoxingWatchers, it's apparently headed for Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, meaning a road trip to see it in person is not out of the question.

A bigger question is whether or not that's a trip we want to make. We already saw Hopkins take on Joe Calzaghe and that wasn't exactly a barn-burner. Now we've got Pavlik in the Calzaghe role, with perhaps a tad less boxing skill but more power - or maybe not, since the fight will be contested at 170 pounds.

Though Pavlik is there to be hit more than Joe-Cal was, I give B-Hop roughly the same chance of knocking him out: that is, not much. Unless Hopkins gets sloppy (which is unlikely), the fight just seems destined to head for the same ugly decision as Calzaghe-Hopkins, quite possibly with Bernard telling everyone again how he really won the fight, the whole world knows it, etc.

I certainly don't begrudge Team Pavlik for trying to make money. The same goes even more for Hopkins, as every fight may be his last. I just can't shake the feeling that there was some other fight the middleweight champ could have made that would have served him better. If he wins, he beat an old fighter (albeit a great one) who's near the end of the road - and he probably won't look good doing it. If he loses, well... that's going to erase a lot of the gains he's made over the last few years.

It's telling that Bob Arum is quoted in Rafael's piece saying, "Kelly isn't thrilled with the fight." That's okay, Kelly. Not all of us boxing fans are thrilled either.

Update: Speaking of Rafael, he's also not digging this match-up.


Round by Round: Toney v. Rahman

Tonight's fight between two heavyweights that have their career on the line. James Toney and Hasim Rahman are not only fighting for the NABO Championship, but they are also fighting to stay in the heavyweight limelight which means they are going to bring it all to the ring. Toney is 70-6-3 and Rahman is 45-6-2.

Toney says that he's put himself through an "NFL-style" training process and he's actually incorporated a diet. If you have seen any of Toney's fights in the past 5 years you'll know that this is certainly something new. Toney says he was too out of shape when he faced Rahman 2 years ago, but he says he's ready now.

Rahman is standing behind his vicious right hand that downed Lennox Lewis. He says that Toney's days are behind him and that he knows he can beat Toney because he beat Toney.

The commentators for tonight are Chris Rose, John Sally, and Chris Byrd.

Rd 1: The fighters meet in the center. Rahman goes to work with his jab. They are feeling each other out. Toney starts to get his jab working. Only jabs thrown by both fighters in the first minute. Toney is using his trademark upper body movement. Rahman backs Toney against the ropes but Toney blocks the jabs. Rahman lands a straight to the body. Rahman lands another jab followed by a straight right. Toney looks to be taking his time and working on counter punches.

Spartan117: 10-9 Rahman
Uatu: 10-9 Rahman
Franchise: 10-9 Rahman

Rd 2: Toney comes forward first and tries out a combo. Rahman blocks it. Not much activity from either fighter. Rahman throws a haymaker but Toney ducks away. Rahman lands 2 jabs cleanly. Rahman lands a straight right. Toney's punches don't have much on them but it looks like he's still being patient. Rahman throws a shot to the body then upstairs. Toney lands a sharp right counter hook that lands flush. Rahman lands a left at the bell.

Spartan117: 10-9 Rahman
Uatu: 10-9 Toney
Franchise: 10-9 Toney

Rd 3: Toney meets in the center and moves the upper-body. Rahman lands a solid right hook and Toney stumbles. Now Rahman complains about a headbutt and the ref ignores him. Rahman and Toney now start throwing the bombs. Toney lands a straight right then a right hook set up by a nice jab. A cut has opened over Rahman's left eye. It looks like it was caused by a headbutt. Toney now turns up the intensity and lands two strong rights after jabs that stagger Rahman. Rahman shakes out the cobwebs and fights back. The bell stops the action.

Spartan117: 10-9 Toney
Uatu: 10-9 Toney
Franchise: 10-9 Toney

The Ref stops the fight between rounds because of the cut over his eye! Rahman tells the doctor that he can't see. Since the fight did not go past the 4th round it is a no contest.

After the official ruling is read it appears that James Toney is actually the winner since Rahman said that he could not see and there was not proof that it was caused by a headbutt, Rahman retired on his stool and James Toney wins by TKO.
The ref also says that the cut was not big enough for the fight to be called a no contest.

Toney says after the fight that he's the best heavyweight in the world period. He says he'll fight anyone at any time.

Rahman says that this fight was against him from the beginning. "This is the worst damn decision, period", he says. Rahman's manager states that this ruling will "undoubtedly be overturned". He also states that they will be filing an appeal immediately.

This gives us fight fans another boxing match surrounded by controversy.

Live Round By Round Updates Tonight: Toney-Rahman

Plenty of bouts are billed as the last chance for the fighters involved, but tonight's match between James "Lights Out" Toney and Hasim Rahman really does have that feel. If you don't have a convenient way to watch the action, bookmark us here for some of the fastest live round by round updates anywhere and round scores from the whole staff.

Update: Just wanted to add that the fight does not start until 11 pm Eactern, 8 pm Pacific. So if you're checking in wondering if you missed it, don't worry - it's just a late-starting fight.


Predictions: James Toney vs. Hasim Rahman

On March 18, 2006, Uatu crawled "out of mother's basement" and took in the Rahman - Toney fight live in Atlantic City. The fight would end up a draw, with one judge scoring the fight 117-111 for Rahman. Uatu did not score the fight round-by-round, but going on the overall-impression standard, he thought that Rahman won. Of course, that is not how fights are actually judged and in person the fight looked close.

For big fights where weight is an issue, Uatu will wait until the weigh-in to make a prediction. With these two particular fighters who have fluctuated in weight, it seems like the prudent thing to do again. Boxrec.com had Toney's weight for the first fight at 237 and Rahman at 238.

Over on the Scale Watch on fightnews.com, the listed weights for tomorrow's fight are Toney 226 and Rahman 244. Wow. Many fighters have said ,"I'm in the best shape of my life" etc, but Toney looks to really be living it.

James is now 39 years of age, which could be a factor. One wonders if there is a thing as losing too much weight for an older fighter, looking at what happened with Chris Byrd not too long ago. Rahman is 35 years old himself, which isn't as old for a heavyweight as it is for the smaller fighters.

Toney hasn't fought since May of '07, and Rahman November of '07. That's a long layoff for Toney, but at his age, that might very well be a plus.

Well, over the last five to ten years, Uatu has held Toney's skills to be among the very best with Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins, and Juan Manuel Marquez out of the big names. Watching Toney slip and roll and counter is super-impressive. Knocking Rahman out is not likely, so Uatu will take Toney by decision, based on the combination of Toney's weight and skills and the close draw in the first fight. Hopefully the fight will be exciting as either fighter with a big win tomorrow will most likely get another big fight.


A Blogging Tradition: Not Covering the News, But Covering the Coverage of the (Boxing) News

Uatu may be all-seeing, and sometimes all-knowing as evidenced but his prediction record, but even he gets bored waiting for and riding trains. So his daily routine involves loading his iPod with various ESPN podcasts to pass the time. And to his pleasant surprise, he stumbled upon the "ESPN: Heavy Hitting Boxing Podcast." So Uatu decided to download 7/10 -" Kieran Mulvaney previews Wladimir Klitschko's heavyweight title defense against Tony "The Tiger" Thompson" and 7/7 = "Sixty-one seconds is all it took for Kendall Holt to beat Ricardo Torres on Saturday, but he didn't have it all his own way. Kieran Mulvaney reports." to listen to while doing some exercising and train riding. Here are some thoughts:

The good news:

1. The podcast exists at all! Any piece of boxing coverage, especially from the mainstream heavy hitters, is a welcome addition. It's very exciting for ESPN to regularly cover boxing and to see it embrace new media outlets.

2. It looks to be a very regular podcast. There are listings for 7/10, 7/7, and 7/2 already just for July.

3. ESPN picked a badass insider like Kieran Mulvaney to do the podcast. Uatu appreciates greatly the fact that they didn't use one of their know-nothing talking heads from ESPNews to just recite the results of the week. It's not entirely their fault, since ESPN puts them into the position of weakness, but it is downright embarrassing to listen to some of those guys and gals interview fighters and reporters on ESPNews. Please, do at least the minimum amount of homework. Mulvaney is one of the stars of ESPN "Fight Credential" and shines there regularly. So kudos to ESPN on selecting him. It is not clear if only Mulvaney does this podcast, but looking down the list available on iTunes, his name appears on every one. Dan Rafael would be awesome too.

4. It's free!

The bad news:

1. The podcast is ridiculously short! It is pathetically short. We are talking sometimes under two and a half minutes! Uatu does not know all the costs and distribution channels involved, but ESPN regularly has daily podcasts of 20+ minutes, and Bill Simmons has them for over an hour sometimes. Mulvaney can't even get ten minutes! A disgrace.

2. This is surely a product of point 1, but the coverage is shallow. Mulvaney does not have the time to go in-depth about anything. He has no chance to cover any new ground, because he barely has the chance to cover any ground. His coverage is good, but if you follow the fights themselves, MaxBoxing, ESPN.com, Boxingtalk, FightNews, hell, even BoxingWatchers, you will already know everything that Mulvaney talks about and then some. The coverage will be great for those who aren't diehards, but for people who follow closely, maybe not so much. But will anyone who is not a diehard even find this podcast and listen to it to begin with? Mulvaney goes to a lot of fights, has ESPN behind him, and has the types of contacts that people like the BoxingWatchers lack. So it makes the most sense for ESPN to leverage that and get some interviews or features on this podcast.

Some two-cent advice:

1. Longer podcasts.
2. Mulvaney interviews some personalities and does some features. Rafael joins.

Bottom line:

It's a welcome addition to the podcast world and Mulvaney is great. It pales in comparison to the vastly superior "The Next Round" on MaxBoxing, which is the greatest boxing coverage of any kind including the web, podcasts, tv, radio, whatever. So check that out, but check out the ESPN Heavy Hitting Boxing Podcast too and hopefully it gets even better.


Round By Round: W. Klitschko v. Thompson

HBO World Championship Boxing comes to us several hours earlier than usual in order to bring us the heavyweight title fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Tony Thompson live from Hamburg. The place looks packed, which is not surprising considering Klitschko's popularity in Germany.

Jim Lampley asks Lennox Lewis what Klitschko can do to improve upon his stinker of a performance last time out, and the former champ says the best thing Steelhammer can do is to forget about his previous fight and concentrate on doing what he wants to do tonight. Larry Merchant compares the chances of Thompson winning tonight to a person learning to spell for the first time in mid-life and then going on to write the "Great American Novel."

Next up is a video package that details how the unlikely pairing of Klitschko and trainer Emanuel Steward came to be. Interesting stuff, but it also underlines how uninteresting this match-up appears to be when the broadcast doesn't spend much time on the fight at hand. One interesting fact about Thompson: he'll earn more for this bout (roughly half a million dollars) than he's earned in all of his previous pro fights combined.

Now they do show a few highlights from Thompson's career, including wins over Dominick Guinn and Tigor Ibragimov. Merchant interviewed Thompson earlier in the evening and he comes off as a thoughtful, well-spoken guy, for what it's worth.

The tale of the tape shows Klitschko with advantages in height and youth, though Thompson actually has a small edge in reach. It takes a while, but Thompson finally comes to the ring accompanied by his entourage and the sounds of DJ Khaled's "I'm So Hood."

Klitschko has a dramatic, back-lit entrance as he strides to the ring. He has an intense, focused look but does raise a hand to acknowledge his fans when he steps between the ropes. Michael Buffer introduces the U.S. and Ukranian national anthems and handles the fighter introductions so we're finally ready to go.

Round 1

Klitschko lands the first significant punch, a straight right. Both men trying to jab but not hacing much success. Wlad tries to let the right hand go again and Thompson covers up. Nice left-right combo by Thompson coming in. Tony gets hit with a left to the body and a right upstairs. He comes forward but isn't landing much unless he is in real close. Not a super exciting first round but already more interesting that Klitschko's last fight.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round 2

Right out of the gate, Thompson goes down - looks like it could have been a glancing right but it is ruled a slip. A right hand backs Thompson up for a moment. Now another big right by Klitschko and he batters Tony back into the corner. Thompson is staying aggressive but doesn't have much working at the moment. Klitschko has a small cut above his right eye; Thompson is bleeding as well. Wlad tries to measure another right as Tony thuds away with small body shots.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round 3

Klitschko staying very cautious as Thompson is the early aggressor. Now Wlad settles for a left-right combo upstairs. Thompson looks light on his feet and is jabbing more. Big right just misses for Klitschko. More combos to the head but Thompson picks off some of the shots with his gloves. Lennox Lewis thinks Wlad needs to mix up his attack a bit more. Thompson handled himself well there but just didn't land much.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round 4

Thompson coming forward again, sometimes leading with his head. The announcers discuss how big this ring is tonight. Again, Thompson seems to be frustrating Klitschko but isn't getting off any shots. Nice left hook by Wlad. Thompson responds to the body with multiple shots. Those could add up over time. Now Klitschko goes to the body as well. Closer round but still likely to go in Klitschko's favor.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round 5

Larry Merchant wonders if stamina will become a problem for Klitschko as this goes on. They wrestle to the ropes. Thompson just misses rushing in and they need to be broken up again. Body shot and left to the head by Tony. He takes a few rights well and goes back to Wlad's body. Klitschko partially lands a pair of right hands. Right and left to the body in response by Thompson.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round 6

Left to the body by Thompson - that's been working well. Jab to Klitschko's head. Wlad scores with a right. Thompson backs Klitschko up and scores with some glancing blows; Klitschko retaliates with a body-head combo. Nice left by Thompson but a better right coming back from the champ. Again, Thompson was close but probably didn't do enough to take the round.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round 7

Klitschko backs Thompson up but he escapes any real danger. Wald jabs his way in and tries a right to the body. A left staggers Wlad a bit but he looked like he was just off-balance. Both men score to the body and Klitschko lands a right to the head. Ineffective jabs both ways. Short left by Thompson. Right and a left by Klitschko just before the bell.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round 8

Manny Steward told Klitschko his experience is showing now. A little bit of a brawl breaks out and the champ gets the better of it. He works the body with two shots. Straight right down the pike from Klitschko. Short-range exchange turns a bit scrappy. Several clinches in a row. Thompson lands a left and Klitschko responds with two nice rights. Tony has a good chin, that's for sure. Quick right by Thompson and he eats a bigger one at the end of the round.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round 9

Referee Joe Cortez calls time early on as the tape on Thompson's right hand comes unraveled. Tony coming forward but not landing much of note. Wlad not really putting the pedal down in this round. Klitschko just misses with a big right before they clinch. Right to the body by the champ. Thompson delivers a left upstairs and a right downstairs for his best offense in some time.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round 10

Both men trying to throw hard straight shots but Klitschko still looking light on his feet. Body shots come from Thompson; right hands in response make Tony cover up. There's a right from Wlad. More follow and Thompson tries to dig to the body in return. Klitschko jabbing and circling. He looks very comfortable. All of a sudden both men go down out of a clinch and Thompson looks like he hurt his leg. Weird moment as the fighters got their feet tangled and fell on each other.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round 11

Thompson's corner was imploring him to do more down the stretch and the fight does turn a little more intense to start this round. Klitschko tossing his foe around and trying to go for the KO shot. A right hand comes streaming in and catches Thompson square and he's down. He looks like he wants to get up, but he can't, and Klitschko has the KO. Replays show the right hand connected right after Thompson had missed with a left.

The winner by KO at 1:38 of round 11... and still WBO and IBF heavyweight champion... Wladimir Klitschko.

Lennox Lewis thinks this fight had to have been good for Klitschko's confidence. They discuss a possible fight with Nikolay Valuev, and Lewis feels Dr. Steelhammer would break down the big Russian because he can just do too many different things.

In the ring, Klitschko says Thompson fought perfectly and frustrated him in the middle rounds. Wlad admits that boxers are judged on their most recent performances, so he is happy he was able to close the show tonight. He also feels he was never hurt despite getting cut.

Live Round By Round Updates Today: Klitschko v. Thompson

It's a rare afternoon (at least here in the Eastern U.S.) title fight today as Wladimir Klitschko attempts to both defend his title and put on a better show than last time out against Tony Thompson. If you can't see the fight, forget what time it's on or just plain don't want to risk watching Steelhammer dance around for 12 rounds, make sure to bookmark BoxingWatchers.com for some of the quickest and fairest round by round updates anywhere on the internet.


Predictions: W. Klitschko v. Thompson

The Franchise says...

I'll admit it: I haven't been too great with predictions recently. Carlos Quintana over Paul Williams in their rematch? Not so much. Vernon Forrest too much for Sergio Mora? Um, no. Kermit Cintron to get revenge against Antonio Margarito? Not quite.

So even though Saturday's heavyweight title fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Tony Thompson seems like a fairly easy one to call, I'm enlisting some help. As a matter of fact, I've consulted three well-known mystics to get some extra insight.

Doc says...

My magicks have allowed me to walk myriad plains of existence unknown to most mortals. I have seen unimaginable sights and encountered countless beings. And still, I've met none who think Tony Thompson will win this fight!

The Dead Guy says...

I've been talking to a lot of deceased boxers and fight fans floating around in the afterlife. No one seems real happy about the way Klitschko handled himself in his last fight, but they all agree that he should take care of Thompson fairly easily.

The Vengeful Spirit says...

If Klitschko does not knock Thompson out, he will face the full wrath of a higher power!

Because, well, I have a lot of money on this fight...

It's hard to argue with expertise like that. On the advice of my panel of experts, I'm going with Klitschko to win by mid- or late-round KO.


Franchise Thoughts: Would Boxing Be Better With Less Weight Classes?

Over the past few days, there has been much hand-wringing in boxing's sister sport (or maybe cousin) of mixed martial arts over the Association of Boxing Commissioners' recommendation to create a total of 14 weight classes in MMA. Setting aside the rather humorous idea that the ABC even has any say in MMA - and the fact that Dana White has already stated the UFC has no intentions of following the recommendation - it got me thinking about boxing's weight classes.

Not more divisions, mind you, but less.

One of the beautiful things about the structure of the UFC is its simplicity. It has five weight classes: heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight and lightweight, with bantamweight and featherweight contested in its subsidiary, WEC. That's just five (or seven) champions to remember, making it easier for fans to keep track and giving every title fight a little more meaning.

The weight ranges in each class are 15 pounds between the lighter classes, 20 between middle and light heavy. Heavyweights can weigh anywhere from 206 to 265. Simple. No junior-this or super-that.

Boxing, of course, has the "in-between" weight classes, which allow a lot more guys to run around calling themselves world champions (especially with the multiple governing bodies) and the networks that show boxing show a lot more title fights. In a perfect world for the sweet science, though, we'd lose all the half-steps and be a lot better off.

Losing all the super/junior classes would cut us down from 17 to ten divisions. The ranges would step up gradually, from a seven-pound jump from strawweight to flyweight to a 25-pound jump from light heavy to cruiser - which, by the way, we already have.

Less divisions would undoubtedly be a match-making boon, especially for those champs (ahem, Kelly Pavlik) who now need to move up to seek more competition. For example, losing 154 would throw Oscar De La Hoya, Cory Spinks, Sergio Mora and others into the mix at 160 without requiring them to change divisions.

Manny Pacquiao wouldn't have needed to move up to lightweight because he would have been in that division for years. That goes for Juan Manuel Marquez, Joan Guzman, Edwin Valero and Alex Arthur too. How would having them in the mix with Nate Campbell, Juan Diaz and Joel Casmayor all along not have been a good thing?

I'm not sure this plan would reduce the amount of weight-cutting that goes on in boxing, because guys are always going to do whatever it takes to get to a division that looks enticing to them. But having larger weight ranges may allow some fighters to box a little closer to their natural weights, and though I'm no doctor, I can't see anything but positives in that.

Yes, guys on the smaller end of each division might find themselves a little bit more out-gunned than they do now. Still, we often see guys giving away 20 or more pounds now in the heavyweight division, and the smaller men sometimes win. It wouldn't be the end of the world.

It's all admittedly a pipe dream, as there's just too much money tied up in the status quo to think it's going to change any time soon. But with the MMA world doing everything it can to avoid getting closer to the number of divisions boxing has, it's definitely something to think about.


Round by Round: Torres v. Holt II

Tonight's fight is a rematch with bad blood between Ricardo Torres and Kendall Holt. The first time they fought - in Torres' home country of Colombia - the crowd got rowdy, throwing trash and beer cans in the ring. Torres won by TKO. Holt complained that the fight was stopped early.

Tonight they are meeting in Las Vegas, so there will not be any hometown bias for either fighter.
Rd 1: Torres starts swinging first. Torres lands a bomb early and Holt goes down. He jumps up and says he's fine. Holt get clocked again with a left hook and falls again. Again he jumps up and says he's fine. The two fighters are swinging extremely hard. Holt lands a ridiculous straight right and Torres falls motionless, slumped on the ropes. He's completely out. The fight is over after less than a minute and a half.

The winner by KO at 1:01 of the first round... and new WBO junior welterweight champion... Kendall Holt.

Holt says "I don't back down, I lay backs down". He says he was fine after he was knocked down both times. He says he worked hard on his punches that knocked out Torres. He said he trained hard for this fight and he's glad it paid off.


BoxingWatchers.com Boxer Power Rankings: June 2008

Yes, it's actually July now. But since June had fights all the way until the end of the month, we had to wait until the month was completely over to see how everything shook out.

Remember that this is not a pound-for-pound list (in which case Manny Pacquiao would be number one), but a reflection of how well each boxer has done over the past three years, taking into account how active he's been, how decisively he's won and the winning percentage of the opponents he's faced. Granted, that doesn't always mean the opposition is good (ahem, European boxers!), but sometimes it's the best objective measure we've got.

In any case, on with the show:

1. David Haye - 24.15 - He's got a date picked out for his heavyweight debut but no opponent as of yet. We're definitely anxious to see if he can get it done against bigger foes.

2. Kelly Pavlik - 23.03 - Put on a clinic against Gary Lockett, for what it's worth. The Ghost is well on his way to becoming one of the sport's biggest stars.

3. Miguel Cotto - 22.07 - It seems like it's taking forever, but his showdown with Antonio Margarito is almost here. Gather your friends for that one and show them what boxing is all about.

4. Arthur Abraham - 20.96 - Answered some questions in his rematch with Edison Miranda. Unless Pavlik moves up in weight, their paths should cross some time in 2009.

5. Manny Pacquiao - 20.61 - Pacman easily handled his first fight at 135. If he faces Edwin Valero later this year, it could redefine the term "explosive."

6. Wladimir Klitschko - 19.00 - Wlad's fight with Tony Thompson comes on in the afternoon here in the Eastern U.S. So I guess I should thank him for giving me something to do on a Saturday afternoon.

7. Israel Vazquez - 15.13 - Still no word on the next fight for Magnifico.

8. Chris John - 15.05 - Every month that goes by adds to my streak of not seeing John fight.

9. Nate Campbell - 13.67 - I'll be kind of conflicted in September. The Galaxxy Warrior has become a BoxingWatchers favorite, but I'm a fan of Joan Guzman too.

10. Juan Diaz - 12.87 - The Baby Bull also returns to action in September. His fight with Michael Katsidis should be entertaining.

The next 7: Antonio Margarito, Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton, Samuel Peter, Cristian Mijares, Nonito Donaire, Paul Williams


Minto vs. Poore - ESPN2 Wednesday Night Fights

Here We Go

Round 1
Teddy thinks this fight might not be competitive. Minto more active. Decent Minto jab. Big right from Minto. Poore goes down! Minto attacks. Minto lands a big left hook. Poore in trouble in the corner. Poore down a second time. Poore down a third time. The fight is over. Ref waves it off. Poore took some big shots, but he appears ok post-fight as the doc checks him over. BoxingWatchers of course hope all is ok with Poore.

Minto as the hometown hero gets major applause. He had said before the fight that out of the crop of the young heavyweights like Thompson, Arreola, Johnson and others, that he was the best. He hopes to get a better shot before they do, and had hoped to use this fight as a springboard.

Post-fight Minto says that he just tried to stay relaxed. He feels he fits right in with the young heavyweights. He's looking for a big fight. Minto says his skills are improving and his conditioning is paying off.

Teddy asks him about his smaller size. Minto says he has to use his short height to his advantage.

Uatu still supports John Poore and wishes him the best.

Saunders wins over Karpency.

James Lubash beat David Cook by unanimous decision.

Wednesday Night Fights - Brian Minto vs. John Poore - Uatu gets personal


Despite the constant criticisms of bloggers being nothing but armchair quarterbacks who criticize from afar and never leave their mothers' basements, Uatu has actually been out of the house on rare occasions. Many years ago, Uatu made his first endeavor to learn how to box. He looked up random boxing gyms on the internet in his area and found one close to his place of employment. He was quite nervous about the whole experience. Once he started to go somewhat regularly, he started to know the other regulars a little bit, but not much more than to say hello. One of the professionals there training and sparring would end up being a fighter in tonight's main event, none other than Big John Poore.

To say that Mr. Poore was nice to Uatu would be a gross understatement. Uatu would jump rope and hit the bags and watch the sparring, but was not much more than a gawker and a complete novice. Even with that being said, Poore would always not only acknowledge Uatu, but would always make sure to greet him and say hello using Uatu's name every time. John was clearly the best and most important fighter at the gym, and he could have brushed Uatu off every day if he had wanted to, but he did not.

Uatu would also go out to the nightclubs to watch fights, and there Poore was well known and a bit of a celeb. Even out in a public setting, Poore would still say hello to Uatu.

Eventually, Poore would have a major fight in Philadelphia, and after that fight he took some time off to recover. Uatu's job would switch locations, and he could no longer make the business hours and had to leave the gym.

So today, it is doubtful that Poore would even remember or know who Uatu is any more. But Uatu will always remember him. So, in the odd chance that Poore would happen upon this site, a hello, thanks, and good luck goes out from BoxingWatchers to him. And in his honor, Uatu will be covering tonight's fight.