Last We Saw Mayweather and Cotto ...

By Eric Raskin

Most of the time when a boxer is launching his fists at another man’s head, it’s strictly business, nothing personal. But there are some occasions when it’s very, very personal. Sometimes we witness the release of personal emotion built up over the course of years. Other times it’s an intense feeling that’s only been brewing for a few seconds.

In their most recent fights, Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather each rode this emotion into a moment of personal revenge, albeit under dramatically different circumstances.

 


 

Cotto’s December 3, 2011, victory over Antonio Margarito was the conclusion of a three-year, four-month odyssey for the Puerto Rican warrior. Back in 2008, he’d suffered his first defeat, via 11th-round stoppage, at the hands of Margarito. But from the moment Margarito’s hand-wraps scandal began unraveling a few months later, Cotto suspected he’d been defeated unfairly. The rematch was about redemption. It was about Cotto proving he could take Margarito’s punch if he knew for sure there were no foreign objects behind it. It was a chance for Cotto to add a win and, to a certain extent, erase a loss.

Over 10 fiercely competitive rounds at Madison Square Garden, Cotto did precisely that. Like their first fight, the action was furious and every punch carried drama. In front of 21,239 screaming fans, Cotto and Margarito added a fitting second—and presumably final—chapter to their rivalry.

 

On September 17, 2011, Mayweather secured a measure of justice of his own. But his revenge was for an act perpetrated only 30 seconds earlier. In the heat of battle, Victor Ortiz lost his composure and launched his head at Mayweather’s, a flagrant foul that cost Ortiz a point. Ortiz apologized. Then he apologized again. Then referee Joe Cortez ordered the fighters to box, Ortiz insisted upon apologizing a third time, and Mayweather, his lip bloodied by the foul, made the emotional (but 100-percent legal) decision to throw punches at a man who had dropped his guard. A left hook buzzed Ortiz. A straight right hand flattened him. Fourth-round knockout.

It was an ending that got the sports world buzzing. For some, it was further evidence of Mayweather’s greatness. For others, it was further reason to hate him. Either way, the explosive conclusion solidified this as one of the most memorable rumbles that Mayweather has ever been in.

 

Three Witnesses to Marcos Maidana’s Punching Power

By Kieran Mulvaney

Marcos Maidana vs Erik Morales - Photo Credit: Will HartMarcos Maidana does not, at first sight, appear to match his reputation. A boxer’s muscles are generally lean rather than bulky, built for speed and reflexes rather than weight-lifting strength, but even by the standards of his weight division, Maidana seems slight. He is not obviously a man possessed of frightening punching power. But if Devon Alexander, who faces Maidana in the year’s first Boxing After Dark broadcast on February 25, needs any convincing of just how real that punching power in fact is, we offer three fighters who experienced it firsthand:

Marcos Maidana vs Victor Ortiz - Photo Credit: Will HartVictor Ortiz. When Ortiz stepped into the ring with Maidana in June 2009, he was the rising star who had been bowling over one foe after another. The little-known Maidana was expected to be another notch in the belt as Ortiz continued his path to glory, and when the Argentine went down in the first round after an Ortiz assault, the script seemed to be unfolding as planned. But then Ortiz, overeager, ran headlong into a Maidana right hand that flattened him. He recovered, and knocked his opponent down twice more in the second. But Maidana would not be denied, constantly powering forward and landing brutal blows that took the fight out of the young American, knocking him down and causing him to retreat from battle in the eighth round.

Marcos Maidana vs Amir Khan - Photo Credit: Will HartAmir Khan. Unlike Ortiz, the Briton emerged victorious from his encounter with Maidana, but like Ortiz, he doubtless expected on the basis of a first-round knockdown that his night would be easier than it turned out. That knockdown, which came at the end of the opening frame of their December 2010 clash, was the result of a Khan body shot that had Maidana grimacing in pain. Once again, however, Maidana proved resilient and relentless. He hauled Khan in down the stretch – including a furious tenth-round assault that all but sent his head flying into the crowd – only to fall agonizingly short on the scorecards.

Marcos Maidana vs Erik Morales - Photo Credit: Will HartErik Morales. The veteran exposed the weaknesses in Maidana’s style, showing just enough defensive movement to blunt his opponent’s occasionally crude assault, and enough offensive variety to pierce his guard. But even the wiles Morales had acquired over almost two decades of professional pugilism were not enough to prevent Maidana from inflicting an injury so grotesque, a right eye so horrendously swollen, that outside of a boxing ring it would have been photographed as evidence that a violent assailant was at large.

Alexander, who possesses the kind of boxing skills that could leave Maidana swinging and missing, is confident. “I've got my legs strong and fast, and I'm ready to rock and roll,” he says. But many a thoroughbred has become bogged down in the rough terrain that is a Maidana fight. Will Alexander prove the exception?

HBO Boxing 2011 By the Numbers

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credits: Will Hart With 2012 underway, and a new season of HBO Boxing close to kicking off, here are a few facts and figures by which to remember the boxing year that has just passed.

1
The number of rounds it took for the long-anticipated meeting between junior middleweights James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo to explode into the war we all thought and hoped it would be.

177
The total number of punches thrown by both men in that dramatic first round.

2
Photo Credits: Ed Mulholland Bantamweight champ Fernando Montiel was supposed to provide, at the very least, a stiff challenge to Nonito Donaire, who was moving up from the junior bantamweight division. But two rounds was all it took for Donaire to flatten Montiel with a monstrous left hook that launched the Filipino Flash on the road to potential stardom.

5
The number of times Sergio Martinez knocked down Sergiy Dzinziruk during his middleweight title defense in March.

0
The number of times Dzinziruk had been floored previously in his professional career.

6
The sixth round was the highlight of the fast-paced clash between Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto. Each man had already officially been down once when Berto dropped Ortiz and seemed to be closing in for the kill. But then a powerful left hand sent Berto to the canvas – and prompted HBO commentator Emanuel Steward to erupt in enthusiasm.

4
The number of rounds it took for Ortiz’s star, which had risen in the wake of his Berto win, to come crashing down to Earth: An intentional headbutt of Floyd Mayweather was followed by a point deduction and then, while Ortiz was attempting to apologize to Mayweather for the headbutt (for what appeared to be the third time), Floyd’s left hook and a right hand dropped Ortiz for the count.

36
Photo Credit: Will Hart The total rounds that Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez have fought, without a clear winner emerging from their rivalry.

114-113
The average score, in favor of Pacquiao, of the nine scorecards that have been handed in over the course of the three fights he has fought with Marquez.

86
The sum of punches Miguel Cotto landed on the surgically repaired right eye of Antonio Margarito, en route to a tenth-round stoppage that avenged his controversial defeat three years earlier.

2
The points deducted by referee Joe Cooper from Amir Khan during Khan’s junior welterweight title defense against Lamont Peterson. The deductions would prove decisive in handing Khan a narrow loss, the second defeat of his career.

26
The number of cards televised in 2011 on World Championship Boxing, Boxing After Dark, and HBO PPV.

HBO Boxing 2012 Wishlist. You Asked; We (Sorta) Listened

By Kieran Mulvaney

With 2011 drawing rapidly to a close, we took to Twitter and Facebook to ask HBO Boxing fans what was on their boxing wish list for 2012. And you responded en masse – so much so, in fact, that #Boxingwishlist was trending on Twitter earlier this week.

Some folks apparently didn’t quite get the question, and started listing the gifts they wanted to receive on Boxing Day; there’s not much we can do in the way of providing game consoles or tablet PCs, but maybe by this time next year, HBO Boxing will have been able to make some of those other dreams come true.

Let’s take a look at what you asked for:

Money, money, money

There’s no question who was the number one most requested fighter for 2012, legal issues be damned. And while, understandably, plenty want to see the long-anticipated clash between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquaio, there were also other requests for possible Money Matchups:

*Sergio Martinez vs. Floyd Mayweather or Pacman vs. Mayweather @AnttheSportsGuy
*Pacquiao v Mayweather...obvious @WorldBoxingNews
*Mayweather vs Sugar Ray Leonard #Fantasy - @DKyle24 (Don’t think there’s anything we can do to make that happen)
*U KNOW WHAT IT IS MAYWEATHER VS PACQUIAO!!!!!!!! - Richard W.

Bam Bam

Also right at the top of the request pile was a fighter who, with his action style and outsize personality, has realy become “must see TV” over the past 12 months or so: Brandon Rios.

*Marcos Maidana vs. Brandon Rios... @jgzm13 (There were quite a few requests for this particular matchup, and understandably so, given the no-nonsense action styles of both men.)
*Brandon Rios against any of the big names at 140! - Davide G.

Canelo, Chavez, Cotto and Martinez

Plenty of suggestions, too, for the big four names in and around the middleweight division: Sergio Martinez, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, and Miguel Cotto:

*Martinez vs Chavez Jr. or Cotto vs Chavez Jr Canelo vs Martinez Canelo vs Chavez Jr - @soberon15
*Canelo vs [Victor] Ortiz would be a really good fight- Carlos G.
*Canelo vs Chavez Jr @rickthereckless

Heck, bring ‘em all on

For some, the option of just picking one or two possible fights was too restricting, given the sheer amount of matchmaking that could be done. From the lower weights to an emerging heavyweight, there are a lot of names that boxing fans want to see face each other in the ring in 2012:

*Kirkland-Alvarez, Bradley-Khan, Margarito-Maidana, Peterson-Alexander, Cotto-Mayweather, Gamboa-Chavez jr, Pacquiao-Martinez.... - Bigga S.
*Chavez Jr. vs. Martinez, Canelo Alvarez vs. Cotto, Rios vs. Maidana, J.M. Lopez vs. Gamboa, Angulo vs. Kirkland 2, Ortiz vs. Bradley, and end it all with Pacquaio vs. Mayweather - Gil O
*marquez vs morales cotto vs margarito pacquiao vs mayweather ortiz vs amir khan - Jack H.
*Seth Mitchell vs any Klitschko, Time for some action in the heavyweight division - Raynor R.

Twelve months from now, will we still be licking our lips at some of these matchups? Looking back on how they all worked out? Or salivating over other possible contests we haven’t yet considered?

In the meantime, be sure to tune into HBO Boxing early in the New Year, as several of your requested fighters will be in action: On January 28, Erik Morales and James Kirkland will be in separate bouts in Houston, Texas; the following week in San Antonio, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr will take on Marco Antonio Rubio, while Nonito Donaire will swap punches with Wilfredo Vazquez Jr; and on February 25 in St. Louis, we’ll see a fascinating style clash between Devon Alexander and Marcos Maidana, with emerging star Adrien Broner in the co-main event.

Thanks for watching and reading. Happy holidays, and we’ll see you in 2012.

The Best Modern Fights at 140 Pounds

Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credit: Will HartLamont Peterson’s win over Amir Khan last Saturday was an exciting fight tinged with controversy, making it the latest big bout in the 140-pound division to provide plenty of thrills and plenty to chew over in the aftermath.  Here’s a short list of some of the division’s other modern classics:

Aaron Pryor TKO14 Alexis Arguello

Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida. November 12, 1982

In a fight so good that it was later dubbed the Fight of the Decade, unbeaten Pryor defended his WBA 140-pound belt against lightweight champ Arguello. The two men threw a combined 238 punches in the first round alone, and each took turns to be on top. Arguello was behind on two of the three scorecards after 13, but appeared to have momentum; in between rounds, Pryor trainer Panama Lewis told his cutman to “Give me the bottle, the one I mixed.” What was in that bottle has never been determined conclusively, but the next round Pryor launched a furious attack that stopped Arguello for the win. Ten months later, Pryor stopped Arguello again, this time in 10.

Julio Cesar Chavez TKO12 Meldrick Taylor

Las Vegas Hilton, Las Vegas, Nevada. March 17, 1990

Both men were undefeated and each held a 140-pound belt when they clashed in Sin City. Taylor took the early points lead, tattooing Chavez with punches and outlanding him with his blinding hand speed. But Chavez was landing with more authority; if Taylor was winning the battle, Chavez was winning the war. In the waning moments of the final round, Chavez, trailing on the scorecards, knocked Taylor down heavily. The American made it his feet, but was unresponsive to referee Richard Steele’s commands, and Steele waved it off with two seconds remaining.

Kostya Tszyu TKO2 Zab Judah

MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada. November 3 2001

This marks another meeting between rival beltholders, and another one that ended in drama. In the first round, Judah’s superior hand speed threatened to overwhelm Tszyu, but in the second, the Russian’s firepower started to catch up to the flashy American. Near the end of the round, Tszyu landed a right hand that knocked Judah down. Judah stood up, looked at referee Jay Nady, then staggered forward and sideways and hit the canvas again, prompting Nady to call a halt. A furious Judah attacked Nady and threw a corner stool across the ring, earning him a fine and a license revocation from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Marcos Maidana TKO6 Victor Ortiz

Staples Center, Los Angeles, California. June 27 2009

This was intended as a showcase for the hard-hitting, fast-rising Ortiz, and it appeared that would be the case when the American knocked down Argentina’s Maidana with a flurry of powerful punches midway through the first. But Maidana rose to his feet and promptly flattened the onrushing Ortiz with a powerful right hand. Ortiz survived and, in round 2, knocked down Maidana twice more. But Maidana kept coming, closing Ortiz’s left eye and overwhelming him with pressure. Ortiz stumbled to the canvas in the sixth in the face of a Maidana onslaught, prompting the referee to step in – a decision to which Ortiz acquiesced too easily for the taste of some fans.

Are there any fights would you add to this list? What fights in the 140-pound division would you like to see come together in 2012? Answer in the comments below.

A Potential Fighter of the Year Has One Last Battle

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credit: Delane Rouse - Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsOne year ago, Amir Khan celebrated his 24th birthday a couple of days before facing Marcos Maidana at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. That battle, in which Khan dropped Maidana in the opening round but had to withstand a furious late-rounds charge from his hard-hitting opponent, was voted as the Fight of the Year.

One year on, Khan celebrates (naturally) his 25th birthday, two days before taking on Lamont Peterson in Peterson’s home town of Washington, D.C. And should he deal with the threat posed by his once-beaten opponent in sufficiently impressive fashion, he may find himself recognized as the Fighter of the Year.

Other contenders have fallen by the wayside: Although Floyd Mayweather demolished Victor Ortiz in September, it was his only outing of 2011, which won’t be enough to garner the laurels. Manny Pacquiao fought twice, but did not look convincing on either occasion. Sergio Martinez and Nonito Donaire each had one spectacular win early in the year, but both followed that with uninspiring, hard-grafted victories over lesser opposition. Khan, in contrast, beat previously undefeated Paul McCloskey, then demolished Zab Judah, and now faces the highly-ranked Peterson.

Peterson, however, is not planning on lying down. He proved his resilience on the undercard of Khan-Maidana, when he rebounded from two knockdowns to secure a draw with Ortiz. He is not flashy, but he is technically sound. Khan will need to be careful not to overreach and leave himself off-balance, as he sometimes does after throwing flurries, as Peterson will look to punish him with counters.

Conversely, Khan will have seen the one time Peterson looked out of his depth, when he lost a lopsided decision to Tim Bradley in December 2009. Peterson was simply unable to match Bradley’s speed and angles. Those will be Khan’s big advantages on Saturday night.

For Peterson, it will be an uphill task. Although he is skilled, he is likely not as much so as Khan. Nor is he as fast or as powerful. Even so, the challenge he poses to the visitor are considerable, and the roar of the hometown crowd will only strengthen his undoubted spirit.

Amir Khan may be a few weeks away from being Fighter of the Year. But first, on Saturday he must make sure he is Fighter of the Night.

Boxing Fans Have Much to Be Thankful For

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credit: Will HartIt seems reasonable to assume that there a lot of people involved in boxing in Mexico, Las Vegas, New York and elsewhere feeling extremely thankful this holiday weekend. At the front of the line: Antonio Margarito, who received a belated go-ahead from the New York State Athletic Commission to fight Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden on December 3rd; Bob Arum of Top Rank, who is promoting the bout and who was prepared to move it elsewhere at the last minute until being confronted with a Cotto ultimatum that it had to be in New York or nowhere; officials at the Garden, who assuredly did not want what promises to be a huge event snatched away from under their noses; and the thousands who had bought tickets to the fight and made travel plans to the Big Apple.

This has been a year of highs and lows in boxing – at times, seemingly more of the latter than the former – but even so, there has been plenty for which the rest of us can be thankful, as well. For example:

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao: Each may be loathed by the other's fans, but for neutrals it's a rare treat to have two such outstanding and contrasting practitioners at the top of the game. Here's hoping in 2012, they give us something to make us truly thankful.

Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz: For what is still probably the leading contender for Fight of the Year.

Pawel Wolak and Delvin Rodriguez: For giving us another Fight of the Year candidate - one so good, in fact, that they're going to do it again, on the Cotto-Margarito undercard.

Freddie Roach and Ann Wolfe: Freddie Roach is the number one trainer in the sport, an always-accessible and engaging interview, and the subject of his own upcoming reality show on HBO. But if Freddie's is the most interesting story among active trainers, Ann Wolfe's is right there with him. Plus she gave me the best quote ever.

James Kirkland: For three minutes of boxing action that still has me breathless.

Joe Frazier: Because although he may be gone, he will never be forgotten.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. May your beagle make you a memorable holiday dinner of buttered toast and popcorn. 

Oscar hops on the phone, Martinez gets his man, and the Cotto-Margarito war begins early

By Kieran Mulvaney

Kieran Mulvaney reads between the lines of a few of the latest stories in the boxing…

Photo: Will HartThey Said: Nine days after his controversial knockout by Floyd Mayweather, Victor Ortiz held a conference call with reporters on Monday. Ortiz insisted that the knockout blow, which came while Ortiz was evidently trying to apologize (for the third time, it should be emphasized) for a headbutt that had just earned him a point deduction, was “a cheap shot.” Mayweather, he insisted, “is not respected by me and never will be in my eyes as a pound-for-pound fighter.”

I Say: That call, which also included Ortiz’s manager and his promoter Oscar De La Hoya, all three insisting that Ortiz was winning the fight until the knockout and demanding a rematch, was ill-advised. Ortiz lost virtually every moment of that fight; he needs simply to accept he was taught a painful but valuable lesson by a masterful veteran, pick up his career and fight his way back to the top. He’s done it before. He can do it again.

 

They Said: Speaking in advance of his middleweight title defense on HBO on Saturday, Sergio Martinez complimented Darren Barker for rising to the challenge. “The fact that Barker is willing to step up and put his undefeated record on the line shows you that he has a lot of heart and that he is a true warrior, which isn't the case for all fighters,” he said.

I Say: It’s a strange state of affairs when the middleweight champion has to express gratitude for having a willing challenger, but such is the curious case of Martinez. Several other potential opponents appeared to have other pressing appointments that prevented them from fighting for the middleweight crown, which is a sign of just how good Martinez is. Credit to Barker and his promoter, who threw down the gauntlet over Twitter, where it was rapidly picked up by Martinez and promoter Lou DiBella. (You can read more about the fight in Eric Raskin’s overview on HBO.com.)

 

They Said: “Just finished Cotto-Margarito II Face Off. Oh. My. God.” @Max_Kellerman, September 22.

I Say: The back story for the December 3 rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito writes itself: Margarito’s brutal beatdown victory was his finest hour but it was tarnished six months later by the discovery, prior to the Mexican’s fight against Shane Mosley, of tampered hand wraps. Cotto has long made it clear that he believes Margarito cheated against him that night in July 2008, and for years was unwilling to fight him again. As Kellerman’s tweet underlines, the hate between the two burns fiercely, increasing anticipation for the rematch two months from now.

CompuBox PunchStat Report: Mayweather KO 4 Ortiz

By CompuBox

Photo: Will HartMayweather landed 24 power punches in round four, the last two dropped the unsuspecting Ortiz for the count.

Mayweather KO 4 Ortiz: There’s A Sucker (Punch) Born Every Minute

By Eric Raskin

Photo: Will Hart

You can't let your guard down in the boxing ring. Especially if the guy across the ring from you is Floyd Mayweather.

Victor Ortiz learned this lesson in the hardest way possible on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, paying the price for dropping his hands when Mayweather landed a perfectly legal, if not entirely gentlemanly, two-punch combination to produce a sensational, controversial fourth-round knockout. READ MORE ON HBO.COM...