20/20 Hindsight: How Lucian Bute Would Do in the Super Six, and Final Thoughts on the Guzman-Funeka Robbery

What a difference a year makes, eh?

I'm talking about the difference in Lucian Bute, who was fortunate to escape with a victory after getting knocked down late in the final round when he took on Librado Andrade last fall. He had no such drama this past Saturday, disposing of Andrade - a guy who says he actually enjoys taking punches - with a vicious body shot in the fourth round of their rematch.

There's much to like about Bute. He's got boxing skills, power and charisma, as evidenced by the fact that it reportedly took only an hour for folks in Quebec to gobble up all of the tickets to his most recent fight.

His performance also made me re-evaluate what a loss it is that he's not taking part in the Super Six World Boxing Classic against the rest of the world's top super middleweights. He supposedly was never asked, and though I didn't think it was a big deal a few months ago, perhaps it was a more glaring oversight than it first appeared.

Right now I'd like Bute to beat Jermain Taylor, Carl Froch and Andre Dirrell. Mikkel Kessler would be a stiffer test, but based on the form each man displayed this month, I'd lean toward Bute there too.

Would he beat Arthur Abraham or Andre Ward, each of whom looked sensational in his own way in the first stage of the Super Six? I don't know, but those would both be dynamite fights I'd gladly pay money to watch.

You could make a case that Bute is the top guy fighting at 168 pounds. BoxRec.com and Tim Starks at The Queensberry Rules already have.

I'm not sure I'd go that far just yet, but he's certainly in the discussion. Bute is definitely among the top six boxers in his weight class, so upon further review, it actually is a shame that he's not in the Super Six. Maybe he can take Taylor's place if/when he drops out...

My Final (And I Mean Final) Thoughts on Guzman-Funeka

I've already written extensively elsewhere on the decision handed down for the Guzman-Funeka fight. To sum up, I thought it was a horrible call to score only six rounds for the fighter that was coming forward, throwing and landing more punches, boxing at his preferred distance most of the time and, at least in the later rounds, displaying the more effective defense as well.

I don't often use the term robbery since scoring fights is so subjective (see: Froch-Dirrell), but it's fitting in this case. Several people hit me up on Twitter to point out that it was one Canadian and one American who turned in the 114-114 cards, while the second Canadian scored it 116-112 for Funeka.

Thanks for pointing that out, but it doesn't change the fact that even one 114-114 score was simply unacceptable. Nor does it change the perception that weird things seem to happen when championship fights are held in Canada. That might not be fair, but perception sometimes trumps reality, like it or not.

One additional observation: Funeka was very nearly the beneficiary of a bad call that would have won him the fight. Replays showed that the nasty cut near Guzman's right eye was opened by a clash of heads, not from a punch as the referee ruled. Had the cut stopped the fight, Funeka would have won because of that ruling.

Still, that was a judgment call that was easy to second-guess thanks to slow-motion replays. The judging was a lot harder to explain, and that's coming from someone who considers himself a Guzman fan and was rooting for him to return to top form.

He didn't deserve a draw. You have to feel bad for Funeka, who ventured to North America for the first time this year and fought his heart out twice, once making an argument that he should have won (against Nate Campbell) and once leaving no doubt he should have won.

Instead, he'll head back to South Africa with a 0-1-1 record in those fights and a bad taste in his mouth. I wouldn't blame him if he doesn't want to come back.

Posted by The Franchise


Lucian Bute vs. Librado Andrade II: Round By Round

After a questionable decision in the co-feature, we're almost ready for the main event from Quebec City. Lucian Bute and Librado Andrade will do battle for a second time, with Bute's IBF super middleweight title on the line. The first fight ended in controversial fashion, as Bute got what appeared to be more than 10 seconds to get up from a late knockdown, then got the victory on the scorecards.

The fighters are in the ring. It's almost time.

Here we go...

Round 1:

Jabs both ways. Nothing landing. No surprise, Andrade coming forward. Bute looking fleet of foot. A right from Andrade with not too much steam. Andrade picking off jabs. One-two from Bute is quick and efficient. Left from Bute. In and out from Bute. Looks like rounds 1 through 10 from the first fight, although Bute isn't landing anything too great. Nice left lead from Bute there. Not too much excitement, but it goes Bute's way.

Uatu: Bute 10-9

Round 2:

Andrade aggressive early. Bute is countering but Andrade is blocking them, although it gets a rise out of HBO for no reason. Nice jab from Andrade. Bute is firing here and there, but right into the gloves. One-two from Bute and he escapes. Decent work there. Tie up in the middle. Four punches from Bute, probably two solid lands. Andrade is pressing the action again. Somewhat ineffective aggression. I suppose this is another Bute round.

Uatu: Bute 10-9

Round 3:

Is Andrade laying ground work for the late rounds again? His fans would have to hope so. HBO thinks Bute looks tense. He is very squirrely out there. Lots of movement and jerking around. I still believe he is landing more cleanly than Andrade, even if they aren't thudding shots. Awesome combo from Bute and a rocking left there that stumbled Andrade a bit. Nice, nice shot. Bute bombs him again two or three times. This is a more than solid round for Bute. He is hitting hard now. Andrade is unfazed though. Bute pot-shotting now with lead lefts and than escapes Calzaghe style. Very very good round for Bute.

Uatu: Bute 10-9

Round 4:

Nice uppercut from Andrade. Harold has it 3-0 Bute. He loves the up jab from Bute. Max thinks it's 3-0 but Andrade is better than last fight. Nice two-way action. Andrade landing more for sure now. Bute rips another combo. Now here comes Andrade. Bute rocks Andrade with the left! Down he goes! Bute throwing but playing it somewhat safe. Not going for the kill. Probably the right move. Andrade still pressing. Bute rips him to the body. Down goes Andrade to the stomach! Andrade can't get up! It's over with the body shot!

Great performance from Bute. He is due loads of credit. Andrade upped his game and it just did not matter. Bute didn't run and hide like most thought he would.

Your winner by KO at 2:57 of Round 4... and still IBF super middleweight titleholder... Lucian Bute!

Bute thanks everyone and HBO, and then makes some French comments, I assume. He says everything went as planned.

Did he think he could stop Andrade?
Yes he did. That's what he prepared for.

What didn't the corner like after Round 1?
The trainer said he had to use the jab effectively, and if he did, Andrade would go down.

Did he think Andrade would get up after knockdown No. 1?
That's the surprise we worked on. Lennox Lewis did it against Rahman, and so could we.

Some long-winded question from Max comparing Lennox to Bute. Not worth much as a question. Bute says he felt exactly like Lennox did at the time. This is the real Bute. He hasn't felt this good in two years. The last fight with Andrade was a mistake.

Bute thanks the people in Florida that helped him prepare.

And I' m out. Paul Williams, Sergio Martinez, Chris Arreola and Brian Minto next week.

Posted by uatu

Joan Guzman vs. Ali Funeka: Round By Round

HBO is on hand live from Canada for the first time in decades for Boxing After Dark. Bob Papa, Max Kellerman and Lennox Lewis are on hand to handle the commentary.

The big draw for this card from Quebec City is Lucian Bute, who takes on Librado Andrade for the second time in the main event. First up, though, is an intriguing lightweight bout between Joan Guzman and Ali Funeka.

The tale of the tape shows that Funeka is four inches taller but has just a slight reach advantage. He's also three pounds heavier after both fighters rehydrated overnight.

Guzman is 29-0 with 17 KOs, while Funeka is 30-2-2 with 25 KOs. This one is scheduled for 12 rounds for the vacant IBF lightweight title.

Michael Buffer handles the formal introductions and we're all set for action.

Round One

Funeka reaches with some jabs but Guzman backs him up. Ali covers up as Joan throws hooks and uppercuts. Jab by Funeka is answered by a Guzman hook. Guzman goes to the body and steps away from the counter. Funeka covers up to ride out another flurry and does land the counter this time. Guzman's movement has Funeka off balance and he lands a short left. He tries some clubbing shots in close as his foe tries more jabs.

Franchise: 10-9 Guzman
Uatu: 10-9 Guzman

Round Two

Guzman is dodging most of Funeka's jabs, and he answers with a body-head combo. Big swing with a right hook by Guzman, and it just misses. Funeka eats a left hook and both men try some feints. Ali can't get anything to land behind his jabs. Guzman crouches very low to avoid punches and connects with his own body shots. He lands two more to the body in the closing seconds.

Franchise: 10-9 Guzman
Uatu: 10-9 Guzman

Round Three

Lewis wants Funeka to throw multiple jabs, but I'm not sure that will work. More body work and a right hand upstairs from Guzman. Funeka is missing a very high percentage of his shots right now. Ali tries about four jabs in a row. Blood is coming from Guzman's nose as both men get their feet tangled and they tumble down. Right hand by Funeka and a double jab. Funeka reaches for a right hand late.

Franchise: 10-9 Funeka
Uatu: 10-9 Guzman

Round Four

Harold Lederman gave the last round to Funeka. Guzman tries to charge in behind his own jab. Guzman lands a right to the body and Funeka goes down, but it looked like and is ruled a slip. Guzman scores with a right and tries to get in close again. They trade and Guzman lands the harder punch. Quick one-two by Guzman and Funeka responds with a counter right. Blood is really streaming from near Guzman's right eye. Nice action in the corner right before the bell.

Franchise: 10-9 Guzman
Uatu: 10-9 Funeka

Round Five

Replays sure made it look like the cut was caused by a clash of heads, but the ref told the HBO crew it was caused by a punch. Guzman charges out of his corner quite aggressively, perhaps realizing the cut will be a factor. Funeka uses his jab to keep his man at a distance. Left hook by Funeka. Two big rights knock Guzman back a step. Funeka tries to close in and eats a pretty sharp right. Guzman steps into another right hand as the action heats up. Funeka jabs and they tie up. Left-right combo by Ali snaps his foe's head around.

Franchise: 10-9 Funeka
Uatu: 10-9 Funeka

Round Six

Funeka's accuracy is much better than it was at the start of the fight. Short left by Guzman but Funeka drives him back. Joan absorbs a left and tries to force a slugfest. Guzman throws body shots and gets tied up quickly. Nice right hand counter by Guzman. Double jab by Funeka. Four punches in a row come in with no answer from Guzman. They stand and trade and the fans enjoy it.

Franchise: 10-9 Funeka
Uatu: 10-9 Funeka

Round Seven

Guzman's trunks have turned very red thanks to all of his bleeding. Funeka keeps popping him with the jab. He's also more active than Guzman at this point. Funeka's footwork has improved as well. Guzman tries the body along the ropes and Funeka has to pivot his way out. Funeka lands a right hand and tries two left uppercuts. Guzman lands his own uppercut and Funeka responds with a hook.

Franchise: 10-9 Funeka
Uatu: 10-9 Funeka

Round Eight

Guzman bulls his way in and goes right to the body. Funeka steadies himself and goes back to his jab. The crowd responds as they exchange in the middle of the ring. Both men score with right hands as they lean on each other. The ref finally pulls them apart but they go right back to work. Funeka uses a right and some left uppercuts. Guzman is staggered by a rught with 20 seconds left in the round.

Franchise: 10-9 Funeka
Uatu: 10-9 Funeka

Round Nine

Guzman backs right to the ropes as Funeka comes forward. Multiple jabs from Funeka and a right to the body. Guzman dodges a bunch of shots as he tries to get off body shots. They bang away from super close range. The ref finally pulls them apart. Guzman does a lot of retreating without much punching. A final combination from Funeka should seal up the round.

Franchise: 10-9 Funeka
Uatu: 10-9 Funeka

Round 10

The blood looks like it may be a problem again for Joan. He barely avoids a big right as he backs away. A series of hooks crash into Guzman again. Funeka jabs and swipes with a left hook. Body and head work and not much coming back from Guzman. Funeka pops him a few more times as they rotate around the ring. Guzman looks like he may be out of answers.

Franchise: 10-9 Funeka
Uatu: 10-9 Funeka

Round 11

I'm thinking Guzman will need a knockout to win. He covers up as Funeka keeps up a steady output. Shoe shining by Funeka sets up a nice left. Guzman deserves credit for trying to swing for the fences. Funeka shoves him back with his left arm and goes back to work. Guzman eats a sharp right but throws his own power punches along the ropes. Funeka keeps tattooing him, giving him no room to breathe.

Franchise: 10-9 Funeka
Uatu: 10-9 Funeka

Round 12

The fighters touch gloves before the final round. Guzman tries rushing Funeka but to no avail. Funeka gets the better of an exchange, but Guzman comes back with a wide right hand. The ref is busy here. Good one-two combo upstairs by Joan. Funeka is getting hit but not flush. The fans respond as both men swing, and we'll go to the scorecards.

Franchise: 10-9 Guzman
Uatu: 10-9 Funeka

Franchise scores it 116-112 Funeka. Uatu scores it 117-111 Funeka. The judges score it 114-114 twice and 116-112 Funeka. The fight is a draw and the IBF lightweight title remains vacant.

Max Kellerman and Lennox Lewis are quite surprised, and Lederman says there is "no doubt this is a bad decision." Funeka's pormoter Gary Shaw is giving multiple people an earful as he's pretty upset. Papa questions the competency of the Canadian judges.

Max congratulates Funeka, who not surprisingly thinks he won the fight. The fans cheer in approval. Funeka says he doesn't even know what to say about the decision.

Posted by The Franchise

Live Bute-Andrade II and Guzman-Funeka Round By Round Updates Tonight

It's tough to squeeze in blogging about boxing during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. There are family obligations aplenty and much leftover turkey to be eaten.

Nevertheless, some combination of the BoxingWatchers will be doing our thing for HBO's Boxing After Dark broadcast tonight. If you can't watch Lucian Bute in his rematch with Librado Andrade or see Joan Guzman return to the ring to take on tough Ali Funeka, join us here for our take on the action as it happens.

Out on the home page we'll have separate posts for each fight. The televised portion of the card from Quebec City should get underway shortly after 10 pm Eastern, so bookmark us for later on tonight.

Posted by The Franchise


Lucian Bute-Librado Andrade II and Joan Guzman-Ali Funeka: Predictions

The Franchise says...

Last time Lucian Bute and Librado Andrade met, things were going Bute's way for almost the entire fight. And by that I mean until the last few seconds of the 12th and final round.

After outboxing the more aggressive but less effective Andrade in almost every round, Bute got either a bit tired or a bit brave and ended up trading with his challenger. He came out on the wrong end of the exchange and needed what seemed like a lot more than ten seconds to "beat" the count and hold onto his super middleweight title.

Andrade's team must not have been too upset over the perception that Bute (who's originally from Romania but resides in Montreal) was bailed out by home cooking, because he's headed back to Quebec for Saturday's rematch. Quebec City will be the site this time, but the fans should still be solidly behind Bute.

There's really nothing to suggest this fight will go too much differently than the first one. Andrade needs to find a way to land more punches while he's pressuring Bute, but while the IBF titleholder is sometimes around to be hit, he's much faster and just slick enough not to lose too many rounds.

Expect the tough and persistent Andrade, who's never been knocked out, to be around until the end. But unless Bute experiences another late-fight case of fatigue or bravado (take your pick), he should retain his title by unanimous decision.

The co-feature on HBO's Boxing After Dark broadcast has the potential to outshine the main event. Joan Guzman and Ali Funeka will do battle for the vacant IBF lightweight title in a bout where both boxers likely feel they have something to prove.

Aside from Kelly Pavlik, there's probably no more star-crossed top contender in any weight class than Guzman. He was all set to take on Nate Campbell in August of 2008, but failed to make weight and ended up not fighting at all after doctors decided his efforts to cut would have endangered him.

Earlier this year Guzman's name was thrown around as a possible opponent for 140-pound champ Timothy Bradley, but that fight never materialized. Whether he's at fault or not, the former super bantamweight and super featherweight titleholder has fought just twice in the last 35 months.

Funeka, meanwhile, was pretty much an unknown quantity outside his native South Africa until this past February, when he gave Campbell all he could handle before dropping a majority decision. He's tall, strong and very active, and he's certainly capable of bringing it to Guzman for 12 rounds.

This is a tough call to make because of the uncertainty over what version of Guzman will enter the ring on Saturday. He's always had quick hands and slippery defense, but ring rust and stamina are concerns. It's also fair to wonder if he'll have enough pop to keep Funeka honest, as he's never been a huge puncher (his last eight wins all came on the scorecards) even in lower weight classes.

If Guzman looks anything like he has in his best form, his speed, accuracy and defense should be a package that is too much for Funeka. Anything less and the man known as Rush Hour wins. This pick is made without a ton of conviction, but this writer likes Guzman to take a narrow decision by rediscovering some of his old magic, leaving Funeka to once again agonize over how close he came to a big win.

Posted by The Franchise


Boxer Clothing and Gear: Andrade Timely Additon to Red Corner Lineup

From the "timing is everything, maybe" file comes the announcement by Red Corner Apparel that they have added super middleweight Librado Andrade to their roster of boxers.

Right now they have an Andrade hoodie and two colors of his new t-shirt for sale, just in time for his rematch with Lucian Bute this weekend. If he wins, it's a very savvy move, and if he loses... you can always mark those shirts down, right?

Red Corner also has Carl Froch and Israel Vazquez shirts currently on their site, and the company has announced on the Twitter that we can expect more fighters to be in the fold in the near future. I hope that's true - I don't have any Red Corner shirts yet, but I'm strongly behind anybody trying to get more boxing-related clothing out on the market.

Posted by The Franchise


20/20 Hindsight: Re-Handicapping the Super Six Field

The boxing world wasn't exactly turned upside-down when Andre Ward upset Mikkel Kessler this past Saturday, but a big portion of it certainly sat up and took notice. Kessler was considered by many as the tournament favorite, and while Ward was highly regarded, fans just didn't know if he was ready for the level of competition he'd face in the Super Six World Boxing Classic.

Now they do. Ward boxed exactly the fight he needed to against a stronger and more experienced opponent, frustrating Kessler with his hand speed and movement. He tied up often and did a lot of jumping in and out, which didn't make for an aesthetically pleasing fight all the time - Kessler and his team went a step further by suggesting it was a dirty fight - but his tactics led to a surprisingly easy night.

With the first stage of the tournament's round robin portion complete, Ward's victory announces him as a real contender to win the whole thing. The beauty of the Super Six format is that anyone could still win it, but we learned enough from the first round of fights to have a better guess at who's going to be around at the end.

That makes this a perfect time to evaluate each boxer's chances of taking the silver cup. I won't pretend to be an expert on setting odds, but here's one writer's attempt to size up the field going forward:

Arthur Abraham - 2 to 1

King Arthur was my personal pre-tournament favorite, and he did nothing to change that opinion with his spectacular knockout of Jermain Taylor. The extra point he earned for the KO was important, because even if the wheels come off in his next two round robin bouts, it very well be enough to get him into the semifinals anyway.

I don't expect that to happen, though. No one has been able to figure out Abraham's style yet, and even though Andre Dirrell and Carl Froch will give him two very different looks, neither fighter was impressive enough when they fought each other to make one think they'll be able to pull it off.

Abraham may very well run the table. I'd be surprised if he doesn't make the final and stunned if he isn't at least in the semis.

Andre Ward - 4 to 1

Ward has the physical tools and charisma to be a star, and now he is in great position to take the next steps down that path. Regardless of what you thought of the uglier parts of his fight with Kessler, he proved a lot and has to be taken seriously.

Ward's path to the elimination round should only get easier from here. He should be a huge favorite against Jermain Taylor (or a substitute) in his next match, and even though Dirrell's speed will be a test, it's one that S.O.G. should be able to pass.

My one qualm about Andre's chances to win the whole thing is that he often left openings for counters on Saturday. That would play right into Abraham's hands, but Ward has plenty of time to work on closing that hole in his game before he'd run into King Arthur.

Mikkel Kessler - 8 to 1

Assuming he's able to heal from the cuts he suffered against Ward and get his mind right, the Viking Warrior should be far from finished. Kessler's lateral movement is an Achilles heel, but his next fight is against Froch, who should be much easier to find.

A victory over The Cobra should fix any remaining confidence issues he'd have, leaving him with a date against Taylor, who looks like the weak link in the field. It's not hard to see Kessler with two wins and the No. 2 or 3 seed once the semifinals begin.

Once he's there, his biggest problem would be facing Ward again, or perhaps Dirrell. Don't count Kessler out yet.

Carl Froch - 15 to 1

Yes, Froch has two points under his belt, but they didn't come easy. I'm still not convinced he deserved the decision against Dirrell, and he just doesn't appear to have enough weapons in his arsenal to emerge as the overall winner.

Even if Froch advances out of the round robin, it's fair to wonder what he'll have left in the tank. His fights against Kessler and Abraham stand great chances of turning into slugfests, with the kind of action that takes something out of both combatants.

The Cobra has a way of finding a way to come through when the chips are down, so he can't be completely dismissed. He just looks too limited to bet the house on him ending up as the last man standing.

Andre Dirrell - 40 to 1

I truly believed Dirrell's athletic ability would make him the wild card in the tournament. That may yet prove to be the case, but man, he really needed those two points against Froch.

The Matrix looks to have the toughest road to the semis thanks to upcoming fights against Abraham and Ward. If he beats one of them, it will be the kind of upset that will shake up the whole Super Six.

Dirrell said during the Kessler-Ward broadcast that he still feels confident. He'll need that belief in himself and a lot more than that if he's going to make a run.

Jermain Taylor - 500 to 1

Surprisingly, Taylor recently revealed on Twitter that he's planning on staying in the World Boxing Classic. Many observers assumed he'd look to drop out after that vicious knockout at the hands of Abraham last month.

This analysis is easy: Taylor has now lost four of his last five, with three coming by KO. If he wins four bouts in a row against top competition, which is probably what it would take for him to win the tournament, it will go down as one of the most amazing turnarounds in the history of any sport.

Never say never in boxing, but that's about as close to never as you can get.

Posted by The Franchise


Mikkel Kessler vs. Andre Ward: Round By Round

It's time for the final fight in the first stage of the Super Six World Boxing Classic. Oakland is the site for hometown boy Andre Ward to try to salvage a win for the Americans as he faces off against WBA super middleweight titleholder Mikkel Kessler.

Gus Johnson is at the Oracle Arena, joined by Al Bernstein and Antonio Tarver. They talk over the first two fights in the tournament, with Bernstein saying the key to the whole thing may be who figures out Arthur Abraham's style.

They also talk about whether or not Jermain Taylor will continue on, and they confirm what the boxer himself said on Twitter recently, that he is still planning on staying in the tournament.

Jim Gray talks with Andre Direll, who says he definitely thinks he won his fight with Carl Froch. He says his confidence is still high, and that he learned he can hang with the champions. Dirrell compares Ward's situation today to the time they were Olympic teammates, when Ward came through as the last American standing and won a gold medal.

Showtime takes a minute to plug an upcoming MMA broadcast by talking to Scott Smith. He'll fight Cung Le in Strikeforce on December 19.

A video package gives us some background on Kessler and his upbringing in Denmark. We see Ward as well, who calls himself a "thinking man's fighter."

Tarver says Ward's key to victory will be his versatility. He likes Kessler's experience and his fundamentals.

Finally we go to Jimmy Lennon Jr. in the ring for the introductions. Oakland's own Ward comes out first, waving an American flag and getting a warm reception from the partisan crowd. Ward is 20-0 with 13 KOs, but this is his first world title fight.

Kessler hears some jeers as he walks to the ring. The Viking Warrior is 42-1 with 32 KOs, with his lone loss coming to Joe Calzaghe in November of 2007. Tarver does not think the crowd will bother him at all.

The tale of the tape shows both men are virtually identical in all physical categories. The main difference is that Ward is five years younger, and Bernstein says it's a fair question to wonder if Kessler is an "old" 30 since he has logged plenty of rounds and had some injury problems.

Lennon does the introductions, and we are all set to go, scheduled for 12 rounds for Kessler's WBA belt.

Round 1

Quick left hook by Ward. A jab hits Kessler, then two more. Now a left hook by Kessler connects. Ward gets inside and escapes without taking any damage. Straight left by Ward. Both men pawing with jabs, and Ward goes to the body. Kessler is trying to cut off the ring. He tries to unload in the corner, but Ward ties up. One-two by Ward followed by some jabs. Fans get a "USA" chant going as Kessler lands a jab. Thumping left glances off Kessler's guard. No big damage done, but that was a good round for Ward.

Franchise: 10-9 Ward

Round 2

Kessler looking to get more aggressive, but Ward catches him with a left hook coming in. Kessler has Ward off balance for a second but doesn't connect with any big shots. Ward bulls his way in and ties up. Both men trying jabs. Kessler closes the distance and gets tied up several times. Ward misses with a wild left and they clinch again. Ward is doing a lot of dancing and lateral movement. He ends a combo with a body shot. The ref warns Mikkel for holding, and Ward connects with a right before the bell.

Franchise: 10-9 Ward

Round 3

Ward starts off with nice left but Kessler stands his ground and fires right back. Ward jukes and pops Kessler with a left in the corner. The announcers think Ward's speed is bothering Kessler right now. Mikkel chases and tries to corner his foe. Right to the head and left to the body by Ward. Kessler eats two shots right off a break. Ward smacks his man with a right and takes a jab in return.

Franchise: 10-9 Ward

Round 4

The one negative thing about Ward's fight thus far is that he's retreating a lot, and we saw what happened to Andre Dirrell. Ward is cautioned for two shots right on the belt line. Press row has it a shutout for Ward so far. Ward just misses a big left. They fight in close and Ward gets the better of it. Kessler lands a big left hook but gets stunned a bit by a right hand. That was the best punch of the night thus far. Kessler laughs but he gets popped by another right.

Franchise: 10-9 Ward

Round 5

Kessler has some blood coming from the right side of his face. He stumbles a bit as they exchange in the center of the ring. Straight right by Ward finds the mark. More grabbing, mostly by Ward. Left hook by Ward, and jabs fly both ways. Kessler lands a left hook to the body before they clinch. Kessler scores with a few shots along the ropes which are answered by Ward. Kessler jabs and takes two left hooks back. Ward has been switching stances a lot. Closer round but still hard to give to the Viking Warrior.

Franchise: 10-9 Ward

Round 6

Ward opens with a two-punch combo. Kessler is fighting with more urgency and firing a bunch more jabs. Kessler uses a left hook counter that scores. Mikkel lands a few more shots as Andre loses his discipline for a moment. Nice uppercut by Ward in close. Right-left combo to the head as Ward rushes forward. Bernstein says Kessler needs to take advantage of the openings he's getting. Kessler eats a left but avoids the right. Ward's movement is confusing Kessler more often than not.

Franchise: 10-9 Ward

Round 7

Ward goes to the body off his jab. Kessler is getting closer with his power shots. Tarver wonders if Kessler took Ward too lightly. Nice right by Kessler before they tie up. He lands more jabs and Ward fires his own followed by a hook. Wild swing and a miss by Kessler. Ward uses a right to the body and they clinch. Repeated jabs hit Mikkel as he backs up.

Franchise: 10-9 Ward

Round 8

Kessler apparently told his trainer he is having trouble seeing. Short right by Mikkel and a jab. Ward uses a right and a left hook to get some space. Right hand by Ward with no answer. Kessler lands a jab but misses the right hand. Both men having some trouble finding the range. Ward lands a short uppercut before the ref steps in. Right-left combo knocks Kessler back, but he gathers himself and tries to return fire.

Franchise: 10-9 Ward

Round 9

Kessler is cut over the left eye and below the right eye. His corner tells him he can only win by knockout now. Ward opens the round with two shots to the head. Body shot and a left hand by Andre. Lots more clinching, but Kessler is doing most of it now. Kessler tries short lefts from very close range. Ward uses a right hand upstairs and a left hand downstairs. Another huge swing and a miss by Mikkel. Now Kessler shows some determination for digging in for a flurry.

Franchise: 10-9 Ward

Round 10

Replays make it look as if the cut over Kessler's eye came from a clash of heads. Both men settle behind their jabs. Quick right hand by Ward, then a stiff left jab. Kessler complains about a clash of heads and the fans boo him. Left-right combination by Ward opens up an exchange. Nice left hands both ways. Right hand and a left hook by Kessler on the inside. Ward backs up Kessler though nothing huge landed. Kessler measures a right hand. Give Kessler credit for guts.

Franchise: 10-9 Kessler

Round 11

Bernstein calls Ward out for leading with his head in the last round. Two frames to go, and Kessler likely needs something dramatic to save his belt. Left-right combo by Ward as Kessler tries a straight right. Clubbing shots by Kessler force Ward to stand and trade. Andre jabs his way in and ties up. A lead right gets Kessler's attention. The ref stops the fight, as the doctor says it's over due to a cut on Kessler's eyelid.

We have to go to the scorecards because the cut that stopped the fight was caused by a headbutt. The judges score it 97-93 and 98-92 twice, all for the winner... and new WBA super middleweight titleholder... Andre "S.O.G." Ward.

Gray congratulates Ward, who thanks God first. They talk a bit about the thought that Kessler was unable to make mid-fight adjustments and how that proved to be the case. Ward does say Kessler is a tough fighter and he's not surprised Mikkel was a champ for so long.

Kessler complains to Gray about the holding and hitting and Ward using his head. The ref apparently said there were five unintentional butts, but the Viking Warrior says he thinks they were blatant. Kessler says the cuts may be a problem going forward but he'll see if he can use more lateral movement in future fights.

Asked about Taylor, Ward mentions Jermain's tweets saying he will continue on. Andre says he'll be ready for the next fight regardless of who it is.

Ward scoffs at the idea that he was using his head on purpose and gives Kessler and Gray some props before checking out.

Mikkel Kessler-Andre Ward Live Round By Round Updates Tonight

Greetings fight fans. Now that the hysteria of the Pacquiao-Cotto fight has died down, it's time to get back to business. And the business at hand is the final fight of the first stage of the Super Six World Boxing Classic, pitting Andre Ward against Mikkel Kessler.

Assuming you won't be at the fight tonight in Oakland, you can catch it on Showtime starting at 10 pm Eastern, 7 pm Pacific. If you can't watch it, I've got an alternative: bookmark our home page and watch for our post with live round by round updates.

Can Ward save some face for the Americans? Or will Kessler make it a clean sweep for the Europeans? Find out tonight!

Posted by The Franchise


Mikkel Kessler vs. Andre Ward: Predictions

The Franchise says...

When the initial pairings for the first stage of the Super Six World Boxing Classic were released, this is the fight that jumped out at me right away. Mikkel Kessler impressed me a lot by giving Joe Calzaghe a good fight a few years ago, and Andre Ward seems like a star in the making. Putting them in the ring together can't help but lead to good things, right?

In some ways this match-up is similar to the Carl Froch-Andre Dirrell fight with a faster American going up against a more powerful European. But that's about where it ends, because Kessler has more boxing skills than Froch, while Ward is a more polished product than the other Andre.

There's certainly a chance that this is too big a step up for Ward, both in terms of competition and the big stage. There are some slight questions about his power and his chin, too, and Kessler will expose them if they are legitimate flaws.

I think Ward is ready to shine. Kessler is too tough and too smart to get knocked out, but I believe he'll come up short on the scorecards and Ward will win a tight but unanimous decision.

Uatu says...

Kessler to win. I foresee a knockdown, and possibly a TKO, and the towel being thrown in.

Posted by The Franchise

Pacquiao-Cotto Shows Its Firepower With 1.25 Million PPV Buys

Admit it: you were waiting to see how many people bought the Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto fight on pay-per-view. And you certainly weren't alone.

According to ESPN's Dan Rafael, the numbers are in, and they are pretty darn good. Rafael says the fight did 1.25 million PPV buys, the most buys for 2009 and pretty much dead even for what Pacquiao did when he fought Oscar De La Hoya last December, when it was (probably correctly) assumed that the Golden Boy was the bigger draw.

The "boxing is back" crowd can take heart that it's the first time in ten years that two boxing cards have garnered 1 million-plus buys in the same year. The other one in 2009, of course, was the Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez bout in September. And that's what makes what's about to happen next so intriguing.

As anyone not emerging from suspended animation knows, negotiations for a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight for next year are likely to start in earnest very soon. Both men are probably going to make a case that they should get a slightly higher percentage of the purse, and now they both have some ammo.

Pacquiao's position is obvious, as he just outdid Mayweather's numbers a few months apart (Floyd came in at 1.05 million buys, give or take) without the help of De La Hoya. Money's camp can counter that Cotto actually brought plenty of fans to the table, certainly more than Marquez did - and since Rafael says Pacquiao-Cotto did more buys on Puerto Rico than any fight in history, there's probably some truth to that.

Would a 50-50 split be unreasonable, considering both fighters have proven their popularity and the total amount of money to be split is going to be enormous? Probably. Will it easy to make two proud boxers at the height of their powers admit that? Not on your life, especially when you throw other strong personalities (Bob Arum, Richard Schaefer, Freddie Roach, etc.) into the mix.

Hold on from here, because the ride is about to get interesting.

Posted by The Franchise


Oscar De La Hoya on George Lopez

Oscar looked to be in decent shape. No blow up in weight. He looked young and healthy.

Lopez started with some jokes about Oscar making the fights female friendly.

Oscar told an anecdote about him fighting in Texas and the crazy women. It was a sloppy segue. Obviously a fed set up from Lopez. The story said that Oscar took a path around an arena he wasn't supposed to and bras were flying everywhere. The punch line involved was that one of the bras was the size of a parachute.

Lopez complemented Oscar for remaining humble "and not throwing money at the camera." A dig at our friend Money Mayweather I imagine.

Oscar told the story about how he carries a food stamp in his wallet. Oscar said "shit," which I guess is a surprise on TBS even after 11 pm, at least to me.

Oscar was loose going into the commercial break. He was actually much more natural and in the flow than usual. He tends to sound extremely over-rehearsed when he does his promoter's spiel at the dais. Here he wasn't as robotic.

And we're back.

They showed some of Oscar's knockout highlights leading back to the show.

Lopez told a joke about Oscar fighting and complimenting him for making so much money.

Oscar announced he is coming back to fight again. He said both the place and date have been picked out. And he's fighting....Erik Estrada! Oscar isn't the world's greatest actor but it was all in fun.

Oscar did his Shaq impersonation. He told the story of "Shaq Versus." He said Shaq is a great athlete, strong, and Shaq tried hard against him, and Oscar was very sore afterward.

They moved onto Manny Pacquiao and Mayweather. Oscar said it has to happen, but it's up to Mayweather and he's his own boss.

Next up was a segment at Justin Timberlake's golf tourney, and Justin was on as well as Alfonso Riberio. I know who he is, do you? There were some sight gags; Anthony Kim was involved.

They made some weigh-in jokes and some other stuff. It wasn't horrible. Lopez is a funny guy, but this material was pretty light and not too edgy. And that was it.

I give Oscar a solid B.

Posted by uatu


Mikkel Kessler vs. Andre Ward: Super Six In-Depth Preview

"The Viking Warrior" Mikkel Kessler

Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Resides: Monaco
Height: 6' 1"
Reach: 73"
Current World Titles Held: WBA Super Middleweight (168 lbs.)
Former World Titles Held: WBC Super Middleweight
Professional Record: 42-1, 32 KOs
Record in World Title Fights: 8-1, 6 KOs
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 4-1
Record at 168 lbs.: 26-1, 22 KOs

Notable Wins: UD12 Librado Andrade, KO3 Markus Beyer, UD12 Anthony Mundine
Notable Loss: UD12 Joe Calzaghe

Andre "S.O.G." Ward

Birthplace: San Francisco, California
Resides: Oakland, California
Height: 6' 1"
Reach: 73"
Current World Titles Held: None
Former World Titles Held: None
Professional Record: 20-0, 13 KOs
Record in World Title Fights: First world title fight
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 2-0
Record at 168 lbs.: 11-0, 7 KOs

Notable Wins: UD12 Edison Miranda, TKO7 Rubin Williams


It may not seem like it right now, but the boxing world isn't on hold while it waits for Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather to decide if and when they are going to fight each other. Hardcore enthusiasts know there are a number of intriguing fights in the next few months - and the final first stage fight in the Super Six World Boxing Classic definitely qualifies.

Though Mikkel Kessler has fought most of his career in his native Denmark, he isn't viewed with as much suspicion by American fans as some of his European contemporaries. That's because the hard-punching yet technically solid Viking Warrior has taken on some solid competition and come out on top. His lone loss came while giving a prime Joe Calzaghe a good battle, and that's no easy task.

Andre Ward isn't at the same virtuoso level of the sport as Mayweather, but he does possess a similar ability to make aspects of the game look smooth and effortless. He's got very fast hands and is comfortable fighting in either an orthodox or southpaw stance. Ward's undefeated record includes just one bout that seemed like a true test, when he easily outpointed slugger Edison Miranda earlier this year.

Both men are well-rounded, but that doesn't mean the shape of the fight won't favor one more than the other. If Kessler can use his experience to turn it into a slugfest, he looks to have the upper hand, as Ward has questions about his power and a sometimes unreliable chin. S.O.G. probably wouldn't mind 12 rounds of boxing, because his youth and athleticism would be bigger factors.

Ward can take some solace in the fact that the first two fights in the World Boxing Classic were won by the men fighting in front of their home fans, and he'll be right in his backyard in Oakland. This will be Kessler's first appearance in the U.S., but he did face Calzaghe in Wales and has enough rounds under his belt that it's unlikely that he'll be rattled.

Kessler's Winning Strategy: Get Inside

Usually it's a size differential that makes it imperative for one fighter to close the range, but in this case Kessler and his opponent are almost identical in all areas of the tale of the tape. The Viking Warrior has a good jab and enough skill to box from the outside, yet staying in Ward's face still seems like the sounder plan.

Kessler throws great uppercuts and body shots, both of which are best utilized in tight. As mentioned above, Ward may not have enough pop to keep Kessler honest, and if that's the case, Mikkel should look to back his man up against the ropes and attack with impunity.

Logic suggests that if this fight ends in a knockout, it's going to be Kessler who has his hand raised. The chances of that happening are that much greater if Mikkel can keep the average distance closer than Andre would like.

Ward's Winning Strategy: Let Your Hands Go

Stylistically, Ward doesn't bear that much resemblance to Calzaghe. But the only man to beat Kessler did lay out a game plan that he can use to earn a victory, providing he has the heart to pull it off.

JoeCal flummoxed Kessler at times with combination punching when he didn't expect it, capitalizing on his ability to get off first. Ward should be able to do that comfortably from the outside, using his jab and firing immediate follow-up punches. He'll want to do the same on the inside even though there is some risk involved due to Kessler's heavy hands.

What he should try to avoid is holding as often as he did against Miranda, because that won't cut it against the Viking Warrior. Outworking the other man seems like the way to go here, and Ward has to have the conviction that a high activity level will pile up the points and have him ahead on the cards at the end of 12 rounds.

Posted by The Franchise

20/20 Hindsight: Surprise! It was Manny Pacquiao's Power That Made the Difference Against Miguel Cotto

Even with a few days for it to sink in, I'm still doing a bit of mental digestion of Manny Pacquiao's 12th-round TKO of Miguel Cotto. It isn't the result (which I correctly predicted, if I may toot my own horn a bit), or the seven titles in weight classes, or even the hype already building as fans salivate over a possible meeting between Pac Man and Floyd Mayweather (the early line is already set!).

Instead, what stands out to me as something to ponder is that in what many people billed as a contest between speed and power, it was Pacquiao's power that was really the deciding factor. The telling quote in the aftermath of the fight came from Cotto trainer Joe Santiago:

"He hit harder than we expected and he was a lot stronger than we expected."

Think about that for a moment. It's a much different song than the ones sung by David Diaz or Oscar De La Hoya pointing to Pacquiao's quickness as the main cause of their defeats. Oscar even went as far as to suggest he didn't think Manny hit that hard.

For the first few rounds, though, Cotto was able to handle, if not completely neutralize, Pac Man's speed. He did so mostly by staying busy with his jab and capitalizing on his reach, plus throwing in the occasional counter shot.

Pacquiao had already started stepping it up toward the end of the second round, perhaps proving Freddie Roach's assertion that Manny wasn't following their preferred strategy. Still, it was only after Cotto tasted some flush shots - especially the left to the chin that dropped him in the latter stages of the fourth round - that he looked like he was lost, essentially fighting while going backward for the remainder of the bout.

Manny's high KO percentage and reputation as an action fighter somewhat obscure the fact that he didn't really have fearsome one-shot power at featherweight or super featherweight. He couldn't keep Juan Manuel Marquez down despite dropping him three times in their first meeting and lost to Erik Morales in their first fight. At 130, Oscar Larios, Marco Antonio Barrera and Marquez (again) all escaped with decision losses.

Since moving up to lightweight and beyond, though, Pacquiao has stopped everyone he's faced, suggesting his pure punching power is peaking. The punch that turned Ricky Hatton's lights out was just about the perfect evidence, and the knockdown shot from this past Saturday was a great Exhibit B.

That's not to say that Pacquiao's speed and knack for throwing punches from unorthodox angles didn't bother Cotto, because they clearly did. But for a guy that had already been in with Shane Mosley and Antonio Margarito, no slouches in the power department themselves (though Tony may have had some, um, help), to be so affected by shots landed by a man who had campaigned two weight classes lower the previous year is truly remarkable.

Should the megafight with Mayweather ever becomes a reality, it's that power that very well could prove to be the x-factor. Both men are exceptionally fast, meaning any edge in speed either way will be a tiny one. Floyd gets the nod in lateral movement and ring generalship, though Pacquiao has made vast improvements in both areas over a relatively short period of time.

If Pac Man can land clean shots against Mayweather - and yes, that's a big if due to Floyd's defensive wizardry - Money may very well find that he's up against the hardest hitting welterweight he's ever faced. A week ago, I wouldn't have believed it, but it's hard to discount that line of thinking now.

Posted by The Franchise


Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto: Round By Round

The undercard is over and the big fight is about to get underway. Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto will go head to head for Cotto's WBO welterweight belt.

Magic Johnson, Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Derek Jeter, Roberto Duran and Sean "Diddy" Combs are among the big names on hand. There are three national anthems to get through before we start. La Diva handles the Filipino anthem, Ednita Nazario sings the anthem for Puerto Rico and Ramiele sings "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The tale of the tape shows Cotto with an inch and a half advantage in height and a slight reach advantage as well. Pac Man weighed in at 144 pounds, Cotto at 145.

Cotto is 34-1 with 27 KOs. He's won twice since his lone defeat at the hands of Antonio Margarito in July of 2008. Pacquiao is 49-3-2 with 37 KOs. A win tonight would be his 11th in a row.

There's an awfully long wait for the fighters to head for the ring. Pacquiao walks in first to AC/DC's "Thunderstruck," which then changes over to "Eye of the Tiger." He smiles and bounces on his feet as he acknowledges the crowd.

Cotto has the hood on his robe up as he comes out to Kanye West's "Stronger." His face is a sharp contrast to his opponent's; very businesslike.

Michael Buffer does the introductions and we're ready to go!

Round 1

Cotto flicks out the first jab. Now a double jab that lands. Manny gets smacked by another jab. Pac Man is reaching a bit. Cotto is really on with the jab. Manny tries his own jabs and gets caught jumping in. Nice counter left by Miguel. Pacquiao has to scramble to avoid getting cornered. Good feinting both ways. Manny is giving Miguel plenty of respect. One-two by Pacquiao and a nice counter after Cotto tries to answer. Cotto lands one right at the bell.

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

Round 2

Manny tries to counter off Miguel's jab. Pacquiao tries to settle down behind the jab. Two-punch combo is blocked by Cotto. Manny gets in a few straight rights, but Cotto answers with a right of his own. Hard jab by Cotto again. Two nice lefts score for Pac Man. Big left hook by Cotto gets a crowd reaction. The ref tells Miguel to keep his punches up. Short left hands by Pacquiao as he dances around. Body shot by Manny as Cotto digs in. Miguel goes body and head but eats two lefts. Great action in the corner at the end of the round.

Franchise: 10-9 Cotto
Spartan117: 10-9 Pacquiao

Round 3

Manny waves Miguel in and he obliges with jabs. Pacquiao gets caught a bit coming in but Manny answers with a right hook that sends Cotto down. He's up quickly and doesn't look too hurt. Cotto turns southpaw and backs Pac Man up. Left to the body by Cotto; right hook to the head by Pacquiao. Manny holds and hits a bit in close. Cotto lets the jab flow but Pacquiao forces him to cover up. Nice left hook by Cotto that connects. Left uppercut connects and snaps Manny's head back. They wrestle to kill off the final five seconds.

Franchise: 10-8 Pacquiao
Spartan117: 9-9

Round 4

Cotto opens up with the jabs again. Manny misses a wild right hook. Miguel peppers Manny with lefts along the ropes. Counter left to the body by Pac Man. Both men score with short shots from their off hands. Combo punching by Pacquiao that Cotto tries to answer. Manny fires off lefts as he circles. Cotto ties up to catch a breather. Pacquiao gets backed up against the ropes and eats a right hand. He ducks away to get space. With 20 seconds to go, Pac Man lands a left that scores another knockdown. Cotto beats the count but looks a little more dazed this time.

Franchise: 10-8 Pacquiao
Spartan117: 10-8 Pacquiao

Round 5

We'll see where they stand pretty early here. Cotto is still coming forward. Manny fires short lefts and dodges to his right. Pacquiao's speed is bothering Cotto a bit right now. Right hook by Manny and he darts away. Cotto tries the body as he shoves Pac Man back. Manny continues to look fluid as he mixes up his punches. Cotto lunges to throw a three-punch combo, then uses an uppercut along the ropes. Left hook by Cotto. He has to scramble to avoid a final Pacquiao flurry.

Franchise: 10-9 Pacquiao
Spartan117: 10-9 Pacquiao

Round 6

Harold Lederman gave that last round to Cotto. The HBO team doesn't think he got any tactical advice in-between rounds. Sharp left lands for Manny in tight. Left-right by Pacquiao gets the crowd to react; Cotto scores with a left hook. A left catches Cotto square in the face. Another left gets Cotto to wince. They stand and trade in the center of the ring. Cotto does a lot of ducking and has to grab Pac Man to avoid going down after a left hand late.

Franchise: 10-9 Pacquiao
Spartan117: 10-9 Pacquiao

Round 7

CompuBox really liked that last round for Pacquiao. Mean right hook after an exchange and Cotto is stunned again. Left-right by Manny before they tie up. Cotto backs Manny up but mostly fires jabs. Miguel ducks and covers and tries some body shots. Cotto still has a bit of bounce but Manny is picking off a lot of shots with his gloves held high. Pacquiao is answering jabs with power shots and that has him looking good.

Franchise: 10-9 Pacquiao
Spartan117: 10-9 Pacquiao

Round 8

Pac Man lands a left to the body and Cotto is doing a lot of retreating. Jabs are still Cotto's main weapon. Manny's timing is giving Cotto fits. Miguel does some dodging but can't escape a series of left hands. Cotto looks like he's trying to time Pac Man for one big shot. Pacquiao gets Cotto backed into the ropes and both men swing away.

Franchise: 10-9 Pacquiao
Spartan117: 10-9 Pacquiao

Round 9

Emanuel Steward thinks Cotto's corner should think about stopping things. He's still out there fighting, but unless he scores a KO he has basically no chance. He lands part of a combo and still has jump in his legs. Manny rips a three-punch combo and turns up the heat. Left hand shots smash Cotto and he looks to be in trouble. Manny walks through a left and Miguel is bleeding from somewhere on his face.

Franchise: 10-9 Pacquiao
Spartan117: 10-9 Pacquiao

Round 10

Cotto's corner says they will give him one more round. His family left after that last frame. Cotto goes for his last stand. Lederman thinks they should stop the fight, but Larry Merchant disagrees. Miguel is actually having a decent round, but Pac Man seems to have eased up on the gas a bit too. Now Manny fires some shots and makes his foe cover his right eye. Left by Cotto and more jabs. Two hard lefts by Pacquiao as they juke along the ropes.

Franchise: 10-9 Pacquiao
Spartan117: 10-9 Pacquiao

Round 11

Cotto is doing everything he can to see this through to the end. Body-head combo by Pac Man in the corner, and the ref takes a hard look. Cotto fires jabs back between the gloves. No questioning his heart today. Pacquiao just misses a huge left. Pac Man momentarily stops chasing Cotto and the crowd boos.

Franchise: 10-9 Pacquiao
Spartan117: 10-9 Pacquiao

Round 12

They touch gloves to start the 12th. Kenny Bayless is up close to make sure he shouldn't stop this. A "Manny" chant goes up from the fans. A big left scores for Pacquiao, and Bayless waves it off. It's all over.

The winner by TKO at :55 of Round 12... and new WBO welterweight titleholder... Manny "Pac Man" Pacquiao.

Merchant asks Pacquiao if the fight turned on the two knockdowns. Pac Man says the strategy was to be patient.

He was wary of Cotto's power, but he was trying to time Miguel looking for knockout shots in the early rounds. Pacquiao also talks about the dangers of Cotto looking for a one-punch KO once he got behind on the cards.

Manny laughs a bit and admits he expected the fight to be stopped in the 11th round. Here comes the Floyd Mayweather question... and he deflects it as best he can.

Pacquiao doesn't think he can go up past welterwight, saying 154 is too heavy. In a severe understatement Manny thinks Filipinos will be happy.

Merchant turns to Freddie Roach, who says he always thought Pacquiao would be able to break Cotto down eventually. Roach isn't shy about saying he wants Mayweather next.

Merchant thanks Cotto for staying around to talk. Miguel's pride really comes through as he answers the tough questions.

Cotto says he thinks Pacquiao is an all-time great. He does say he originally asked for the fight to be stopped after the 11th but changed his mind. Miguel has no plans to retire.

Lampley and Steward discuss Manny's future, and Emanuel believes it needs to be Mayweather next even though it will be tough to get the details nailed down. Merchant gets the last word in as always, stating that Pac Man deserves to be thought of very highly in terms of boxing history.

Posted by The Franchise

Pacquiao-Cotto: Firepower Undercard Live Blog

We're live on pay-per-view from Las Vegas for the big Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto fight. We've got a way to go before we get to the main event, with two 10-rounders and a 12-round bout on the televised portion of the undercard.

Jim Lampley talks a bit about the big fight before introducing the first televised fight, a welterweight contest between Alfonso Gomez and Jesus Soto-Karass. Gomez is 20-4-2, while Soto-Karass sports a record of 24-3-3. As you may expect, Michael Buffer is on hand to do the introductions.

These guys get right down to business, though both men are warned early for low punches. The first round is fairly even, but Gomez lands a few harder punches that probably give him the edge. Leaderman has Foreman up by 3 points.

Soto-Karass is having success with his jab but not getting a ton of follow-up shots to land with it. Gomez gets cut near his right eye about halfway through Round 3 that looks pretty bad. Jesus gets docked a point for a low blow.

The cut was ruled to have been caused by a headbutt. Harold Lederman has Gomez winning all three rounds, and Soto-Karass gets another point deducted in Round 4. Gomez is still fighting hard but the blood seems to be bothering him a lot.

It's possible Gomez could be up by six points after four rounds because of the deductions. Soto-Karass starts to step on it a bit with combination punching in Round 5.

Between rounds, we see Cotto enter the arena. Jim Lampley remarks that Cotto's team is always quiet when they first arrive, and he's actually sitting in the crowd watching the undercard fights.

The cut remains the big issue in this fight, and Lampley and Emanuel Steward discuss whether or not the fight should be stopped. The ref calls a halt to things with less than a minute left in Round 6, and we'll go to the scorecards.

The scores come back 58-54, 57-55 and 57-55, and Gomez wins a unanimous decision.

The second fight of the undercard is between Daniel Santos and Yuri Foreman.

It's off to a relatively slow start. Both fighters are feeling each other out in round 1. There's a lot of Yuri Foreman butt-kissing from the commentators. Foreman got caught with a huge counter in round two that buckled the legs of Foreman. Foreman was in trouble and clinched to stay up, then landed a huge left hook that dropped Santos. Santos complained that it was a punch to the back of the head. It looked clean to me.

Foreman is fighting a smart fight but he's not taking many risks. He's very hesitant to throw his power right hand. Foreman landed a huge right hand and Santos was in big trouble with about 20 seconds left in the 4th round. Santos clinched to make it out. Foreman is in total control of this fight. He's landing more right hands now and taking more risks.

A cut opened in the middle of round six over the eye of Foreman. It was caused by an accidental headbutt. It doesn't look that serious.

The cut continues to get worse. Ref, Jay Nady, had the doctor look at it. The doc says it's OK to continue. Leaderman still has Foreman up by 4 points going into the 8th.

They cut in the action to show the Cotto corner in Manny's dressing room to observe the hand wrapping. On an interesting note, Manny wraps his own hands, which is very strange.

Foreman continue to fight a good fight. Santos is getting gassed down the stretch and Foreman is landing fast accurate punches. The HBO cast has their pom pom's out in full force. They are talking about all things Yuri Foreman and how great he is.

They are both swinging for the fences in the 12th. Santos is going for the KO. No Foreman starts to get on his bike. Foreman lands a quick left hand and drops Santos again with a minute left. Santos makes it up and waves in Foreman to come forward at the end of the round.

Foreman should win by unanimous decision. The judges score the bout 116-110, 117-109, and 117-109 all for the winner by unanimous decision Yuri Foreman.

The last undercard is in the middleweight division and is between Troy Rowland who is 25-2 with 7 KOs and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. who is 40-0-1 with 30 KOs. Chavez looks a lot like his father.

No feeling out round here. They are swinging away from the beginning of round 1. Both fighters are landing some good shots. Chavez is looking to land a big left hook. Rowland looks like he was put in there just to be a target for Chavez but he is giving Chavez a run for his money.

On an unrelated note, Will Ferrell is ringside to see the fight. As is Mark Wahlberg, Toby Maguire, Magic Johnson, and Derek Jeter.

Not much going on in the fight. Neither fighter is landing much of value. The crowd is getting a little bored and restless in anticipation for the main event. Chavez is landing some good body shots now. They crowd is quite hushed during the last round. Now they start to boo. This has been one stinker of an undercard for one of the years biggest pay-per-views.

The judges score the bout 99-101, 98-92, and 97-93 all for the winner by unanimous decision Julio Cezar Chavez Jr.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto Live Round By Round Updates Tonight

Firepower is finally here!

Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto both made weight and looked healthy and ready to go, so we're all set for the biggest fight of the year. With two popular, action-oriented fighters and a number of intriguing storylines, it's hard to imagine there are any boxing fans anywhere who aren't interested in this one.

There are several great ways to watch the fight, including in person or on closed circuit TV in Las Vegas and, of course, on pay-per-view in many other places. If none of those options are available to you, we're here to be your last resort for keeping up with the action.

We'll have a live blog out on our home page for the (somewhat underwhelming) undercard, then we'll start a brand new post with live round by round updates of the Pacquiao-Cotto bout. Bookmark us and refresh often for the latest.

The televised undercard gets underway at 9 pm Eastern (even earlier fights can be seen at Yahoo! Sports) and my educated guess is that the main event may start around midnight. See you later tonight!

More on Pacquiao-Cotto:

In-Depth Preview
Weigh-In Recap
What Happens If Pacquiao Loses?

Posted by The Franchise


Pacquiao-Cotto Weigh-In Recap

We had some technical difficulties getting linked up for the weigh-in festivities but we're ready to go now courtesy of HBO.com. We're still a few minutes away from seeing Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto step on the scales.

The MGM Grand looks to be pretty full for the weigh-in with fans supporting both boxers. Michael Buffer calls out to the Filipinos and Puerto Ricans in attendance. Buffer introduces New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, who gets a mixed reaction from the crowd.

Jacobs says it's going to be a great fight and shills a bit for Top Rank. His role seems to be simply to hype up the fans even more.

Buffer gets in one final plug for the pay-per-view broadcast and segues into a video package that's basically a commercial for the fight. But Bert Sugar is in it, so it's all good.

More stalling from the stage. Buffer calls out Jeremy Piven for a little HBO-centric promotion. He makes a few lame weight jokes but at least seems to know a bit about boxing, and his excitement comes off as genuine.

Now it's time to get down to business as Buffer brings out Pacquiao. Freddie Roach leads Pac Man onto the stage to raucous cheers from his fans. Cotto gets tons of love too as he climbs the stairs on the opposite side.

Buffer points out that Pacquiao is the challenger tomorrow night, so he strips down to his shorts and climbs on the scale. He's looking in great shape as always and weighs in at 144 pounds.

Cotto is up next and he looks ripped as well. He weighs in right on the button at 145 pounds.

The fighters do the usual side-by-side posing as Piven grabs a microphone. Asked about cutting weight, Cotto says he ate well for training and doesn't think it will affect his power. He handles Piven's other lame questions well and addresses his fans in Spanish.

Some soccer chants start rolling through the crowd for some reason. ESPN has been talking to Pacquiao, but Piven manages to wrangle him over. Asked how long he abstains from sex before fights, Manny busts Jeremy's chops a bit. Pac Man plugs a post-fight party at Mandalay Bay where he'll sing eight songs with his band. He gives a brief bilingual shout out to his fans as well.

Buffer urges folks to call their pay-per-view providers again, and the Top Rank team speaks with Jacobs again. The big back jokes that he got Bob Arum to arrange the fight during the Giants' bye week. Jacobs talks a little bit about his background in the sport and picks Cotto to win, saying he thinks Miguel will end it early.

We get a brief replay of the fighters on the scales with a brief discussion about Cotto and the contracted weight of 145 pounds. This blogger concurs that Cotto looked healthy enough cutting to that weight. Weigh-ins for Daniel Santos and Yuri Foreman are still going on in the background but the announcer talked through the actual weights.

Posted by The Franchise


Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto: Predictions

The Franchise says...

As it always does for a huge fight, it seemed like time was moving in slow motion over the last few weeks leading up to Pacquiao-Cotto. But it's finally here, and we'll soon see if it lives up to the hype.

Popular opinion seems to be suggesting that it won't. Pacquiao is a fairly large betting favorite, numerous observers are stating that Cotto isn't the same fighter he was before getting pummeled by Antonio Margarito, and there are questions about the skill of Cotto's corner. Pac Man trainer Freddie Roach (who, of course, may just be playing mind games) has changed his prediction to a first-round KO.

Yes, Manny will be faster than Miguel. It's possible he'll hit almost as hard too. But in boxing, everything is relative, and that's why I think this will be a closer, tougher fight than some believe.

Since Pacquiao has ventured above lightweight, he's fought two big names who in retrospect had no shot to beat him. Oscar De La Hoya was too old and too drained, while Ricky Hatton was way too slow and (surprisingly) too small as well.

Cotto is none of those things, so that alone makes me think he'll fare better than the Golden Boy or The Hitman. Inexperienced trainer or not, he's also capable of making mid-fight adjustments, though I am well aware that Manny's speed may render changes in strategy useless.

I think all outcomes are possible, though I think a Pacquiao KO is most likely and a Cotto decision least likely. I just see Cotto making Manny work really hard to earn this one, meaning I expect Pacquiao to win by late TKO.

Uatu says...

Nothing would shock me in this fight, but I would be surprised if there was a KO either way. I think Cotto is an excellent boxer and a tough guy, so I don't see Manny getting a KO, and for sure not in the first round.

I feel like Roach has gotten very cocky over the last few years, but then again, Manny has been backing it up, so you could argue he's just telling it like it is. Does he truly believe Manny is getting a first round ko? I am not sure. What I am sure of is, Roach is going to be the better of the two trainers.

So, with the Roach advantage, and the weight limit being the lower 145 amount, I see Manny by unanimous decision. I believe he wins fairly easily, too.

Spartan117 says....

The buzz I'm hearing from the analysts that are siding with Cotto sounds strangely similar to what they said about Manny's fights with De La Hoya and Hatton. They're saying that Cotto is too big and too strong for Manny. I really don't see the size being an issue. Manny is just too fast and accurate for Cotto. I see Manny coming out hard early which will prove to be too much for Cotto towards the middle of the fight....Manny by mid round TKO


Silver Star Unveils New Manny Pacquiao Destroyer T-Shirt

You had to figure it was just a matter of time before a U.S. clothing company decided it would be good business to link up with Manny Pacquiao, right?

Apparently Silver Star thinks so. The So Cal apparel maker (and personal favorite of this blogger) has made signature shirts for a bunch of MMA stars, but they've proven they know good boxing when they see it by introducing the Manny Pacquiao Destroyer t-shirt. You can pre-order it now and it will start shipping on Nov. 11... oh wait, that's today!

Much as I'd love to support Manny, I'm not sure the wife will be too crazy about the crossed pistols on the front of the shirt around our two small children. The company newsletter did say that Silver Star is rolling out the Destroyer Collection, though, so perhaps more designs are in the works.

Stay tuned...

Posted by The Franchise

Franchise Thoughts: What If Manny Pacquiao Loses to Miguel Cotto?

The hearts of boxing fans everywhere are rightfully aflutter with anticipation for this weekend's collision between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto. It's not hard to see why, because the fight features two popular champions from different countries who almost always bring crowd-pleasing action to their fights.

Pacquiao is the betting favorite (-300 at BetUS.com as of this morning) and seems like he can do no wrong right now. He's defeated some big names in his last few fights in impressive fashion, rapidly and successfully switching weight classes along the way.

With his speed, power and ever-improving boxing skills, Pac Man is the popular pick to win the bout as well. In some corners, it's almost a foregone conclusion that he'll beat Cotto, with fans already breathlessly discussing a possible showdown with Floyd Mayweather for pound-for-pound supremacy.

In other words, a lot of people appear to be looking past Cotto. That's a mistake, because even though this writer also thinks Pacquiao will win, it won't be a complete shock if he doesn't. At the very least, Cotto should prove the stiffest test Pac Man has had in quite some time.

So let's say that Cotto surprises the pundits and pulls off the victory. How would the fallout rearrange the boxing landscape for 2010?

For starters, you could forget about Mayweather-Pacquiao, at least for the time being. It wouldn't make sense for Floyd to fight Manny coming off a loss - or dollars either, and that's always a consideration.

That would make Cotto as likely as anyone to be Mayweather's next opponent. He'd be an even bigger name coming off an upset over Pacquiao, but not so big that he'd demand too much of the revenue. Big money, a favorable split and a credible foe would make a tempting proposition for Mayweather, and though Cotto has said he didn't think he was ready to face Floyd earlier in his career, he'd likely feel differently after defeating Manny.

If Mayweather went a different direction, Cotto would still have plenty of options. He could wait out the winner of January's Shane Mosley-Andre Berto fight or plan for revenge against Antonio Margarito, secure that he'd have some extra leverage in the negotiations.

As for Pacquiao, a loss wouldn't be the end of the world. He'd have his acting and singing pursuits to keep him occupied while he licked his wounds, and he's said to be contemplating another run at public office.

He'd still be a huge draw when he made his return to the ring, and that return could very well come against arch enemy Juan Manuel Marquez, who's been spoiling for another shot at Pacquiao for some time. JMM has a higher profile among the general public after he tangled with Mayweather earlier this year, and the fact that both men would be trying to rebound from losses would only add to the intrigue.

So if Miguel Cotto has his hand raised in victory early Sunday morning, it will raise some eyebrows and throw a monkey wrench in plans for the sport's next megafight. But a couple other big matches would undoubtedly still be the end result, and for boxing fans, that's never a bad thing.

Posted by The Franchise


Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto: In-Depth Preview

Manny "Pac Man" Pacquiao

Born: Bukidnon, Philippines
Resides: General Santos City, Philippines
Height: 5' 6 1/2"
Reach: 67"
Current World Titles Held: Ring Magazine Junior Welterweight (140 lbs.)
Former World Titles Held: WBC Lightweight (135 lbs.), Ring Magazine, WBC Super Featherweight (130 lbs.), Ring Magazine Featherweight (126 lbs.), IBF Super Bantamweight (122 lbs.), WBC Flyweight (112 lbs.)
Professional Record: 49-3-2, 37 KOs
Record in World Title Fights: 9-1-2, 8 KOs
Record at Welterweight: 1-0, 1 KO
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 3-1-1

Notable Wins: TKO2 Ricky Hatton, TKO8 Oscar De La Hoya, SD12 Juan Manuel Marquez II
Notable Losses: UD12 Erik Morales I, KO3 Medgoen Singsurat

Miguel Cotto

Born: Caguas, Puerto Rico
Resides: Caguas, Puerto Rico
Height: 5' 7"
Reach: 67"
Current World Titles Held: WBO Welterweight (147 lbs.)
Former World Titles Held: WBA Welterweight (147 lbs.), WBO Light Welterweight (140 lbs.)
Professional Record: 34-1, 27 KOs
Record in World Title Fights: 14-1, 11 KOs
Record at Welterweight: 8-1, 6 KOs
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 4-0

Notable Wins: SD12 Joshua Clottey, UD12 Shane Mosley, TKO11 Zab Judah
Notable Loss: TKO11 Antonio Margarito


Promoter Bob Arum couldn't have planned for things to work out more perfectly than this: two of his Top Rank fighters facing off against each other in one of the biggest boxing matches of 2009.

Always appreciated by serious boxing fans and beloved by his Filipino people, Pacquiao blossomed into a mainstream star over the last two years with high profile knockouts of Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya. He's come a long way since his days as an exciting yet one-dimensional slugger, and his continued development has him justifiably earning consideration as the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world.

His opponent will be stepping into the brightest spotlight of his career as he attempts to etch his name onto the list of Puerto Rican legends. Cotto's career was sidetracked a bit when he was stopped in July of 2008 by Antonio Margarito, but he got himself back on track earlier this year by knocking out overmatched Michael Jennings and gutting out a tough split decision over Joshua Clottey.

Though both men have world class boxing skills, their offense-first mentalities and high KO percentages suggest an entertaining affair for as long as it lasts. Pacquiao has nearly unparalleled hand speed to go with nimble feet, but Cotto is a legitimate welterweight - in contrast to the smaller Hatton and weight-drained De La Hoya that Pac Man faced - who isn't exactly a slouch in the quickness department and will almost certainly hit Pacquiao as hard as he's ever been hit.

The road to this bout hasn't been 100 percent smooth, with Pacquiao dealing with an eventful camp and Cotto continuing to adjust to having relatively inexperienced Joe Santiago as lead trainer role after uncle Evangelista Cotto filled that role for most of his career. But each man has dealt with distractions successfully in the past, and smart money says both will draw enough extra energy from their vocal ethnic contingents to be in top form come fight night.

One interesting footnote is that even though the contracted fight weight is 145 pounds, Cotto's WBO welterweight belt will be on the line. That gives Pacquiao a chance to join De La Hoya as the only boxers ever to hold major world titles in six different divisions.

Pacquiao's Winning Strategy: Keep the Action in the Center of the Ring

Perhaps only Floyd Mayweather has quicker hands than Pacquiao, something a shell-shocked De La Hoya found out the hard way. Manny also has knockout power in both hands thanks to the development of a dangerous right hook to go with his cannon left, and so far it's translated to higher weights.

The problem with relying on just those traits this time is that Cotto is a naturally bigger man with a high boxing IQ, and he's not going to stand around and be Pac Man's punching bag. If Pacquiao gets lured into exchanges in tight spaces, Cotto has more than enough pop to make him pay.

Manny will need to use his lateral movement and increasingly impressive ring awareness to avoid getting trapped in the corners or along the ropes. Out in space, Pacquiao's fast hands and feet can be used to their greatest effect, and no one has found the answer for them in years.

Cotto's Winning Strategy: Cut Off the Ring and Attack the Body

Finding and catching Pacquiao seems to be a lot harder than it used to be, but Cotto is better equipped for the challenge than most. He's likely to have livelier legs than either of Pac Man's last two big name foes, and he's excellent at applying effective pressure.

Cotto is also an accomplished body puncher, something that can sap the quickness out of anyone. Concentrating on the body is never a bad idea, but against Pacquiao it could turn out to be especially vital for neutralizing his speed.

With Pacquiao likely to be able to get off first any time he wants, Cotto needs to get in tight so he can bring his size and power to bear. The best way to do that is to cut off Manny's escape routes so he can't stick and move. If Cotto can make Pacquiao fight with his back against the ropes, he'll be able to find out if Pac Man can take shots from a true welterweight – and he just may like the answer.

Posted by The Franchise


20/20 Hindsight: Chad Wins But It's Still Not All Good, Plus David Makes Haye

I think somewhere around the ninth round of the Chad Dawson-Glen Johnson rematch was the first time I heard some scattered boos coming from fans at Hartford's XL Center. That happens sometimes when a fight isn't competitive - and don't be fooled by the close official scores, because this was not a close fight - and there doesn't seem like there's much hope of a late round knockout.

The troublesome part of Saturday's booing is that it was coming from Dawson's home fans. And that's on top of the fact that he wasn't enough of a draw to manage 50 percent capacity in an arena in his home state.

Dawson put on a boxing clinic, making Johnson look old, slow and generally ineffective. His speed and timing left Glen with few answers, and his defense was good enough to keep him out of the trouble he ran into in the 10th round of their previous fight.

But Bad Chad didn't put Johnson in any trouble either, and even though that's a difficult task, it's something he really needed to do to capture fans' imaginations. I can't imagine he got the HBO brass too fired up about his next outing, especially considering the lack of under-40 names in Dawson's weight class.

Don't get me wrong. I think Dawson is an excellent boxer, and though he's not quite at the level of a Floyd Mayweather, he's similarly impressive in the way he operates and makes a difficult sport look effortless.

Floyd can get away with putting on virtuoso performances that don't excite casual fans because of his larger than life persona. Chad can't, and for that reason he seems destined to continue to win in relative obscurity. It's a shame, but unless he gets a brashness transplant or starts spontaneously knocking people out, I'm not sure how that's going to change.

And now for something completely different...

Color me surprised that David Haye was able to lift one of the heavyweight title belts from Nikolai Valuev. Not because I find the Russian Giant particularly impressive (just really big), but because I figured the size differential would be too much for Haye to handle if he decided to slug it out.

Give Haye and his team credit for deducing that hit-and-run was the way to go. Well played.

I'm not sure what's wrong with me, because I usually can't stand athletes of any type who talk trash without backing it up. That means I should dislike Haye, especially after he badmouthed the Klitschko brothers and then mysteriously ended up not fighting either of them.

But for some reason I find Haye compelling, and it probably doesn't hurt that (until this weekend, according to observers) he's fun to watch when he fights. There's really no logical reason Wladimir and Vitali should give him the time of day after what went down over the past year, but he does have a belt, and they seem to be pretty important to the Klitschko brothers, so you never know.

Love him or hate him, you have to say this about Haye: it's hard to see him ever getting booed by his home fans.

Posted by The Franchise


Chad Dawson v. Glen Johnson II: Round by Round

HBO is killing time since the first fight only went 3 rounds. They show a montage of the first fight and both of their careers.

Now Johnson makes his way to the ring. He has a big smile on his face and looks loose and ready.

Dawson follows now. He's coming to the ring to Run This Town by Jay-Z. The crowd is giving him a great hometown response.

The intos are finished. Here we go.

Round 1
They meet in the center. Dawson starts with the jab and Johnson lands a hard counter straight early to get Dawson's attention. Johnson is looking to counter punch and he's getting some good shots in. Dawson goes into the defensive shell and Johnson throws away. The first round has been a good round for both fighters.

Spartan117: 10-9 Dawson
Uatu: 10-9 Dawson
Franchise: 10-9 Dawson

Round 2
Dawson is establishing the jab. Johnson is bobbing and weaving. He throws a couple of hooks. Dawson gets a straight left through Johnson's gloves. Dawson lands a counter left uppercut. Johnson throws to the body and Dawson counters again. Dawson is loosing his trunks and waist protector is rising way up. He gets caught in the corner but gets out in time.

Spartan117: 10-9 Dawson
Uatu: 10-9 Dawson
Franchise: 10-9 Dawson

Round 3
Dawson starts by throwing 9 jabs. Johnson is trying to get on the inside but Dawson is using movement well to get out of his way. Dawson backs away and dodges a straight right from Johnson. Dawson unleashes a combo to the body that scores. Another great combo by Dawson. Johnson misses by a lot and Dawson makes him pay. The crowd gets into it. Dawson lands 2 more punches and gets off of the ropes. Johnson is having a tough time landing punches due to Dawson's crafty D.

Spartan117: 10-9 Dawson
Uatu: 10-9 Dawson
Franchise: 10-9 Dawson

Round 4
Dawson is countering beautifully. Johnson is coming forward and eating left and right hand repeatedly. Dawson is choosing his punches wisely too. Johnson seems to be changing his gameplan a bit and isn't throwing as much. Maybe he's getting tired. Dawson lands a big left. He backs away and dodges some more Johnson punches. Dawson showboats a bit before the end of the round.

Spartan117: 10-9 Dawson
Uatu: 10-9 Dawson
Franchise: 10-9 Dawson

Round 5
Dawson comes out jabbing again. Johnson is trying to land but is still struggling. Johnson is keeping his gloves really high to to try to block. Dawson counters some more punches while against the ropes. Johnson can't get in to any rhythm. Dawson throws another fast combo and Johnson covers up. Johnson continues to come forward. Another good round for Bad Chad.

Spartan117: 10-9 Dawson
Uatu: 10-9 Dawson
Franchise: 10-9 Dawson

Round 6
Johnson comes forward again but he's not throwing much. Dawson counters again. Dawson is fighting a great fight thus far. Now Johnson starts getting some punches in that are landing. A couple hooks twist Dawson's neck. Dawson lands a hard left hand. Dawson gets caught against the ropes and gets out of danger. Dawson lands some more great punches. Dawson lands a good power shot before the bell.

Spartan117: 10-9 Dawson
Uatu: 10-9 Dawson
Franchise: 10-9 Dawson

Round 7
Johnson comes forward once again. Dawson continues to counter him well. Dawson throws 2 hooks to the body and scores. Johnson is still in no rhythm to win any of these rounds, especially against some home town judges. Johnson grazes with a left hook. That's the best he's done this round. Another round on the cards for Dawson.

Spartan117: 10-9 Dawson
Uatu: 10-9 Dawson
Franchise: 10-9 Dawson

Round 8
Every fight Dawson is in he says he wants to wow the crowd and win over some skeptics. He's winning rounds but most of these rounds have been quite boring. Johnson keeps coming forward and Dawson keeps countering him. Johnson throws some more futile punches and Dawson counters him beautifully. Neither fighter is in trouble of being knocked out because neither fighter is throwing any power punches.

Spartan117: 10-9 Dawson
Uatu: 10-9 Dawson
Franchise: 10-9 Dawson

Round 9
Dawson lands 2 great body hooks. He gets caught in the corner but sneaks out once again. Johnson tries to land a punch to the body. Now Dawson turns up the heat. Johnson wiffs hard with a hook and Dawson lands a big combo. The crowd gets on their feet. Johnson is doing nothing to win these rounds.

Spartan117: 10-9 Dawson
Uatu: 10-9 Dawson
Franchise: 10-9 Dawson

Round 10
Johnson gets countered hard early in the round the crowd goes crazy. Johnson still isn't in any real physical danger besides the danger of losing this fight. The commentators have stopped talking about the fight at hand completely and are focusing on the undercard. After about a minute they get back on topic. I hear some lone "boo's" from the hometown crowd. Dawson is taking another round with counter punches. Johnson is still struggling and hasn't come up with any solutions for Chad Dawson.

Spartan117: 10-9 Dawson
Uatu: 10-9 Dawson
Franchise: 10-9 Dawson

Round 11
Johnson comes forward once again. Dawson is circling him and still picking his punches well. Now there are a lot of boos from the crowd. Johnson lands a few good body shots. The crowd continues to boo. Dawson lands a quick left hook and pushes Johnson back. He misses with an uppercut.

Spartan117: 10-9 Dawson
Uatu: 10-9 Dawson
Franchise: 10-9 Dawson

Round 12
Johnson is using a last ditch effort to try to win this fight by swinging wildly for a KO. Dawson isn't doing much to win this round but who can blame him. He should have this fight in the bag. He lands 2 hooks. Johnson misses with a big left hook. Dawson lands a straight left. Both fighters coast down the stretch.

Spartan117: 10-9 Johnson
Uatu: 10-9 Dawson
Franchise: 10-9 Johnson

Spartan117: 119-109 Dawson
Uatu: 120-110 Dawson
Franchise: 119-109 Dawson

The judges score the bout 115-113, 115-113, and 117-111 all for the winner by unanimous decision "Bad" Chad Dawson

Posted by spartan117

Alfredo Angulo vs. Harry Joe Yorgey: Round By Round

HBO's World Championship Boxing is live from the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut. The headliner is the rematch between Chad Dawson and Glen Johnson at 175 pounds, but first there's business at 154 pounds, with Alfredo Angulo facing undefeated Harry Joe Yorgey.

Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman take a look at the landscape of the 154-pound decision, including guys like Angulo, Paul Williams, Kermit Cintron and James Kirkland. The tale of the tape for tonight's bout shows that the 27-year old Angulo has very slim edges in height and reach. Yorgey, 31, is two pounds heavier tonight.

Yorgey is 22-0-1 with 10 KOs and hails from Bridgeport, PA. Angulo is 16-1 with 13 KOs, and yes, he's sporting his trademark dog collar for the introductions.

We're set for a scheduled 12 rounds for the interim WBO junior middleweight title.

Round 1

Neither man looks like he wants to sit back, with Angulo stalking and Yorgey hopping around. Nice counter right by Yorgey and he works some jabs. He tries the body and Angulo keeps coming. Left hook by Yorgey but not much steam on it. Angulo cuts off the ring and lands a combo. Stiff jab by Harry Joe as he weaves side to side. Angulo scores with two straight rights. Angulo throws a right over the top and backs Yorgey into the ropes. Perro clubs with a few more short punches in the closing seconds.

Franchise: 10-9 Angulo
Spartan117: 10-9 Angulo

Round 2

Yorgey flicks out the jab multiple times. Angulo tries to duck and fire and Harry Joe scores with a right while backing off. Nice left hook counter by Yorgey but Angulo makes him eat two right hands. Angulo stuns Yorgey with a right in the corner and ends up going down after some follow-up punches. Yorgey beats the count with about 70 seconds left in the round. Here comes Angulo, strafing Harry Joe with rights and lefts and Harry Joe staggers back to the corner. A body shot crashes home and Angulo comes forward again. Yorgey somehow stays on his feet until the end of the round.

Franchise: 10-8 Angulo
Spartan117: 10-8 Angulo

Round 3

Yorgey gets full credit for guts but he's staggered again early in this frame. He goes down again but the ref still won't call it off. A left-right combo catches him in the corner and he goes down hard. This fight is over now, and we'll just have to hope Yorgey is okay.

The HBO crew debates whether or not the fight should have been stopped earlier. The consensus was that it was a tough call because Yorgey was throwing back all the way until the end, though another ref may have found a reason to stop it. Yorgey is back on his feet and walking around, which is good to see.

The winner by TKO in Round 3... and interim WBO junior middleweight titleholder... Alfredo "Perro" Angulo.

In the post-fight interview, Angulo says he was not surprised that Yorgey tried to box him, but he was ready to showcase himself and take his first world title. He gives a shout out to Mexico and all of his fans.

Posted by The Franchise