Drugs in Boxing

Friday, 29 January 2010

'Victor Conte Slams Professional Boxing's Drug Testing' http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/boxing/8485892.stm

Isn't it incredible that the most widespread sport where it is the object to inflict injury on another human being has such easily circumvented doping rules? Pro-boxing needs to clean-up or lose support. It is in no-one's interest to have fighters damaged by cheating meatheads 'roiding it up through training. Boxing isn't pro-wrestling - I don't tune in to watch something I don't believe in - honour among fighters should run thicker than thieves, but when you have specimens like RJJ and James Toney being caught with needles in their butts and still allow them to bludgeon men regardless you are turning people off - off boxing, off becoming boxers, off the PPV and out of the town hall.


Klitschko: The Stinkening

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

I have always thought that the Klitchko's get bad press, in the main, because they're intelligent, educated, good-looking Ukrainians who carry around Phd.s and world championship belts, winning a lot of fights simply by being better than the other guy.

This is, I feel, certainly a valid point.

They are, however, the first fighters I saw to use the tactic of hitting their opponent's lead arm so as to nullify the jab. Sure; they look for the right through the middle to follow, but this makes for a lot of pawing and a spectacle not unlike two 6 year old girls having a mild tiff. They aren't the most exciting fighters you've ever seen, though I rate Vitali's loss to Lewis as the best fight of last decade (sure it was ended on cuts, and Lewis was flagrantly out of condition, but what a fight! And, if you look at it in a historical context, it's clearly the most important heavyweight contest - though no-one knew that at the time - of the last three decades. I will argue about this some other time - maybe write a book on it).

The Klitschko related news is: Wladimir will be facing 'Fast' Eddie Chambers in Duesseldorf on the 20th of March. Now, as you can imagine, my first thought was 'I have to be there - I'll save up all my money, book a hotel for the week, soak up all the Klitschko magic before the fight, and join the wild celebrations afterwards. I want to have BEEN THERE when Wladimir Klitschko outpointed 'Fast' (only a moniker - he's actually pretty sluggish) Eddie over twelve dull rounds of pawing, colliding, passionless heavyweight boxing'.

I rushed to youtube to look-up 'Payday' (suggested new moniker - more apt) Eddie to find some inspiring knock-out fare - some sign that David Haye is not the only fighter in the heavyweight division who you wouldn't have to pay me to watch. What did I find? A numb-skulled outpointing of a fat Samuel Peter - who any contender should be licking their lips to face. Think of the press they'd get for convincingly knocking out a former world champ! A fat Samuel Peter is like a fattened calf or a Larry Holmes to the Tyson slaughter.

I put up with that for two disappointing, lethargic, unambitious rounds before flicking fights to his latest against Alexander Dimitrenko. Here, Chambers showed that peculiar recent American disease of expecting the decision after twelve without putting in the work to earn it. They just seem to expect the win for making it to the end. Carl Froch has benefited handsomely from this tendency, as Calzaghe did before him.

Dimitrenko is one of those upright, gangly, ridiculous fighters (see Mario Veit, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35KqYUKUazg) who always looks like they're about to fall stiffly to the canvass. The sort of fighter you feel shouldn't be allowed to box until he learns to roll with the punches because it's too painful to watch. It's like you can see his brain bouncing around his skull like some kind of extraordinarily badly conceived shock absorber, while his rigid head carries a pained expression on its face... its just a horrible, worrying sight... Yet this walking knock-out managed to score a draw on one judge's scorecard against our man 'Payday'. I couldn't possibly comment - I could only stand it for two distressing, clutching rounds - but any mixed-decision could just as easily be a loss.

Then there's his loss to Povetkin - by now I was desperate to watch something exciting, so a Povetkin display should do the trick... errr... no... a dull, if dominant, decision to the Russian Knight, who is still a rookie with only 18 fights under his undefeated belt, so he gets a pass. However; I feel deflated.

What am I saying? I'm saying what has been said a million times, but I'm saying it again - these heavyweights are a bunch of dull, safety first, pawing, boring, snoring drones who couldn't knock down a mannequin if given eight weeks training, the most cunning strategy and a cricket bat. This article charts the final stages of the journey of one mediocre fighter to what could be the summit of his sport and it's terribly uninspiring. The only bright spark is that he hasn't got a prayer against Wladimir - the fact that he will never win the fight at least keeps the long-reigning champ in place so when Haye's done with Ruiz there will be an interesting fight on the cards.

But, for now, why would anyone want to watch this fight?

Beware: The Stinkening is here.
Wladimir Klitschko Phd. versus 'Payday' Eddie Chambers, 20th March 2010
Utterly meaningless jostling you'd best avoid.


Hatton/Tszyu Revisited

Sunday, 17 January 2010

With the news that Ricky Hatton will probably face Juan Manuel Marquez in April/May, I'm re-watching the Hitman's finest hour in the hope that I'll regain some confidence in him. Here's how I score Hatton/Tszyu

Round 1: Hatton 10/9 - untidy, but bossed the ring
Round 2: Hatton 10/9 - close call, but three vicious uppercuts from Ricky make the difference.
Round 3: Hatton again 10/9 - close, but Hatton shows multi-level attack, whilst Tszyu let a few better punches go and put Ricky under more pressure.
Round 4: Tszyu 10/9 - Ricky takes a beating from accurate and fierce hitting from Tszyu. Lots of effort from Ricky, but how can he take this?
Round 5: Tszyu 10/9 - suggestions that Ricky's getting tired. Tszyu nails him twice off the stool, another frantic round follows, messy, frantic stuff from Hatton - Tszyu has started to stand off and measure his man.
Round 6: Tszyu 10/9 - Tszyu nails Ricky with at the starting bell, but Ricky comes back. Better work on the outside gives it to Tszyu
Round 7: Tszyu 10/9 - Hatton stumbling at the bell gives the round the champ. Tszyu, however, stares in disbelief at Hatton's iron chin and relentless work ethic. Signs of desperation from both.
Round 8: Hatton 10/9 - Tszyu's mouth is hanging open. It's an arm-wrestle and the manc connects more often than the aussie
Round 9: 9/9 there was no point deducted from Hatton in the fight, but Dave Paris shouldn't have let a sickening low-blow go without it and, since I'm re-scoring the fight, I say he did. Tszyu is tired and Hatton tastes blood in the water.
Round 10: Hatton 10/9 - Tszyu did everything but run up the white flag. Hatton's 9 years younger and it shows. Hatton has more desire
Round 11: hatton 10/9 - Hatton will win, though Tszyu hasn't given up. Oh, actually, he has. He's retired on his stool.

What made the difference?
Hatton was 26; Tszyu 35.

Hatton's now 31 and gone, as a fighter. He's finished. Go on strictly Ricky - you were great at being young.


Mayweather tells it like it is

Friday, 8 January 2010

Floyd Mayweather on the collapse of his agreement to face Manny Pacquiao:

"I am still proposing the 14-day window but he is still unwilling to agree to it, even though this is obviously a fair compromise on my part as I wanted the testing to be up until the fight and he wanted a 30-day cut-off.

"I am ready to fight and sign the contract. Manny needs to stop making his excuses, step up and fight." (BBC Sport Website)

Amen. 30 day cut off? Just why, exactly? There's no godly reason. Either Pacquiao's ducking him, or Pacquiao's a cheat. Blood letting can affect you for a couple of days, I suppose a finely tuned athlete may feel slightly off the pace for maximum a week afterwards - but two weeks? No rational, no science will back him up.

Now then: what's he on? Some kind of EPO? That would explain his reluctance to be blood tested. It would also have been undetectable in his home country ten years ago, when he may/may not have started use. EPO only came to the fore in '98, and boxing is well behind the curve when it comes to testing. There have been no doping scandals of note in boxing; this is not because boxers are cleaner than other athletes (are you kidding? Most fighters have bullet wounds and REALY bad habits, let alone slightly questionable morals).

I wouldn't want to accuse Pacquiao of anything: I think he's a great fighter and I loved his fights with Morales and Marquez, but the facts remain that the whole situation is utterly perplexing, and the use of EPO and the subsequent cover-up would explain it. For the good of his name, for the good of boxing as a sport, I hope he pulls himself together and fights Mayweather with all the controls in place.



Wednesday, 6 January 2010

On the fourth day of the Cape town test there was 350 left for England to get in 90 overs with all 10 wickets in hand. Being as you can get 250 fairly gently in an ODI 50 over game, it shouldn't be too tricky. But the Test Match isn't about runs and wickets, as much as about the state of mind you carry through it, and the draw Bell and Collingwood won for England in Cape Town was down to the correct application of thought to situation.

Collingwood, in particular, stopped playing shots for runs and cut out every conceivable avenue to his dismissal in a display of parsimony St. Francis of Assisi would brag about to Mother Teresa. It sounds so simple, but so many batsmen say 'I'll play my own way' and get out driving after getting 60 in 80 balls. That's not good enough. Collingwood's 40 was better and, in the context of the series, was worth more than the century Ian Bell got at Durban. Bell's innings in Cape Town truly proves once and for all that his mind can be as strong as his cover drive is fluent. I hope he kicks on and finishes the series with a flourish.

The most striking contrast one can draw from this game is between England's second innings in Cape town and South Africa's second innings at Durban; Where England played the situation itself on its merits, South Africa got caught trying to play naturally in a highly pressurised situation. One cannot try to play naturally; it's a contradiction in terms. One cannot be both aware of the score and play as though one isn't - that is the Orwellian 'Doublethink', the Freudian Denial - it is a myth of sport's psychology brought on by the wishful thinking of men who would be miracle workers. It is also one of the definitive areas of Test Match cricket - the 'Test' itself.

England have the stuff to stand the pressure and South Africa, for whatever reason, do not.

The contrast is both striking and conclusive.


Graeme Smith

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Graeme Smith is going to make another hundred. I'm listening to TMS now, just after he got away with murder by referring a plum LBW that Hawkeye has going a whisker over the stumps. I met a guy who went to school with Graeme Smith at a wedding some years ago - we were there in a professional capacity (well, we were waiters) and were talking outside over a cigarette and some coffee. Smith played no. 8 in the rugby team, which is a position that seems to attract his type. My friend (whose name I forget) had nothing good to say about him. In fact, as I remember, when I asked what Graeme Smith was like, his reply was "He's a wanker".

Smith can get as many runs as he likes, I guess I'll always view him in a dim light. Is that sour grapes?


odds and ends

Monday, 4 January 2010

Jenson Button is making noises about "keeping the no.1 for as long as possible but...". I find it deflating. If he wins a race next year I'll be surprised.

Liverpool haven't played well recently, but they are showing the old knack of getting out of bad performances with favourable results. 1-1 at Reading isn't great, but it's not losing to Leeds at home, is it? That is rather tragic for United. I'm heartbroken. Ha ha ha heartbroken.

Ricky Hatton keeps not announcing his retirement. Two crushing knock-outs in his last two big fights. Paulie Malignaggi was nothing more than padding in the middle - a pitter-patter-puncher with amateur skills and even he regularly found Hatton's chin. Everyone knows he should retire, but that's not the equation: if he fights again it'll sell tickets, who will buy the PPV?

Pacquiao refuses to be blood tested for a month before a fight with Floyd Mayweather jr.. How can a sport maintain integrity when it's participants can pick and choose when and how they are tested? It's not as though a long-distance runner's preparation is impaired by the withdrawal of blood for testing before the marathon; why is it different for Pacquiao? Will his performance be so compromised? Everyone is beginning to re-examine his achievements and a pall will settle over them if he fails to submit to unrestricted testing. Mayweather? I love him. He's the man. I hope he gets beat.

England Cricket Team: Not the best team in the world. But they'll beat the best if given a chance.

Clijsters and Henin returning to the WTA tour? The Belgian re-invasion is upon us! The end times are near!


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