Ted Sares fought as an amateur boxer in the Chicago area in the 50's. He has since become a boxing historian and member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He specializes in articles that capture the pathos of the sport. His works have been featured on a number of boxing sites and magazines including East Side Boxing, Fightkings, WAIL Magazine, IBRO Journal, Saddoboxing.com, and many others

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Calzaghe vs. Kessler: Someone's "O" must go! The Prediction

18.07.07 - By Ted Sares:

Back in October 2006, I called for a super fight between Joe Calzaghe, W 43 (32 KOs)-0 vs. Mikkel Kessler, 39 (29 KOs)-0. Well, the fight has now been made for November 3 and someone's O must go (unless of course it ends in a draw which is certainly not out of the question.) Together, these two fine boxers have a combined professional record of 82-0 (61 KOs) and a combined 75% KO percentage. Their fight is already being called the biggest non-heavyweight title unification fight since Leonard-Hearns in 1981.

Off their respective fights with Peter Manfredo Jr (and earlier with Sakio Bika) and Librado Andrade (and Markus Beyer), Kessler must be given a solid chance to slow down the Welshman's express train. Joe had to battle his way to the final bell after a hard night’s work with the game Bika (who recently lost to Lucien Bute). On the other Hand, Kessler brutally destroyed WBC super middleweight champion Markus Beyer in three rounds and then pounded Andrade in a brilliant offensive display.

Though I am more impressed with the Pride of Wales' overall level of opposition, Kessler has never suffered anything less than a UD win. If you did a won-lost analysis of Joe's opponents (coming in) the result would be astoundingly impressive. Fighters like Jeff Lacey, Mario Veit, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Evans Ashira, Byron Mitchell, Richie Woodhall, Omar Sheika, Chris Eubank, Robin Reid and Mark Delaney came in with either unblemished records or just one or two defeats. But the fact he may have fought better opposition, combined with his age, might just have taken something out of him. Maybe.

The "Viking Warrior" is seven years younger than Calzaghe and that disparity seemed to show a bit against Bika. Against Manfredo, in a fight that clearly was stopped too soon, The Welshman showed super-fast hand speed, but many of his “blows” were more slap than punch. Moreover, the confused Manfredo simply stood there and covered up offering nothing in return. The unbeaten Dane knows full well that Calzaghe's high output of punches includes an inordinate amount of slaps. Kessler is no Manfredo.

Kessler's KO percentage is a handsome 74%, while Calzaghe's is just as impressive at 74%. Yet I keep coming back to age vs. youth and the possibility that Kessler may be peaking while Joe has already reached and perhaps passed his. If so, this could spell trouble for the "Italian Dragon." Still, he is a very difficult fighter to beat. He's got a great chin, great stamina, and, of course, that handspeed. He also has a high boxers’s IQ.

Whenever I see one elevator going down and one going up, I always go with the guy who is on the upward ride. That’s not the case here. Calzaghe is not yet on a downward ride; in fact, he just might be at the top of his game, albeit at an unusually ripe age.

The Outcome

Calzaghe does not have the one-punch power of Kessler and this could prove pivotal for Mikkel. On balance, however, I see Calzaghe getting into his rhythm early and avoiding Kessler bombs with great ring movement and acumen. I see him peppering the Dane with enough punches, many in lightening combinations, to gain a close decision. That said, the fight has the potential to be overly strategic and cerebral and this could translate to something other than the exciting engagement most are expecting or at least hoping for. Heck, the odds on this fight going the distance have to be pretty darn good.

The bookmakers have made Calzaghe a 1/2 favorite coming in, likely influenced by the fact the bout's location is in Cardiff where some 70, 000 fans will be screaming their support at the Millennium Stadium. Reportedly, about 5,000 Danish fans will be making the journey, and I may be joining them as well (coming by way of Geneva).

My heart says Kessler; my brain says Calzaghe by close decision, though, as I said, a draw is a distinct possibility. Let’s get it on.

"I've been waiting all my life for this, a big fight on US television against a great champion…they've been talking about this fight in Denmark for years. I don't want to reveal my tactics, but I'll keep my distance as usual. I'm a more intelligent fighter than Calzaghe. Lacy was too slow to take him on, but I know that I'm number one in the division and I'm going to kick his ass." Kessler

"I can't knock Kessler, he is a very solid all round fighter, but he has not fought me yet….he has never been in with a southpaw with my handspeed….believe me, there is no way I am losing that fight. I'm going to be in the best shape of my life, I'm going to have the best training camp I've ever done. This will be fight of the year. I've been in boxing for 25 years now and it takes a lot to get me excited, but this fight has done that. Before the Jeff Lacy fight there was a lot of pressure on me, but I'm more relaxed about things now…I don't think that any super-middleweight or light-heavyweight in the world can beat me. Beating Kessler would go some way to cementing my legacy." Calzaghe

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ten Most Exciting Fighters Today - Revised version

Ten Most Exciting Fighters Today - Revised version

By Ted Sares

Back in March, I listed the following fighters alphabetically. In so doing, I asked myself whether I would pay money to see each guy fight. A lot has happened since then so let's see how it has impacted this list. And remember, boxing fans are fickle and I am no exception. I'll revisit the new list in December and I'm sure it will change again.

1. Jorge "La Hiena" Barrios, 47-3-1-1 (33 KOs). He definitely stays. Barrios always comes to fight and his opponents better be ready to rumble. Are you hearing me, Juan Manuel Marquez?

2. Middleweight Alejandro "Naco" Berrio, My favorite when it comes to excitement. Chill or be chilled is what happens when this Columbian bomber is in the ring. He is now a world champion and actually has a "kiss and punch" combination in his skill-set.

3. Miguel Cotto. “Junito” has a 30-0 slate with 25 stoppages. Like Pipino Cuevas and Julio César Chávez, he not only beats his opponents, he breaks them down and injures them. He is a brutal old school type who tracks and executes like Jake LaMotta did and that, in and of itself, entitles him to a prominent place on this list. Heck, he brings out the excitement factor in his opponents.

4. Vic Darchinyan, 28-1 with 22Kos. Everything about the “Raging Bull” is exciting. From his cock demeanor to his newly found vulnerability. The fact we now know he can be sent “down under” adds to the mix. This haevy handed guy has now joined the ranks of the “chill or be chilled.”

5. Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz, 31 (16 ko's)-0. With tremendous hand speed and punching volume, complimenting his aggressiveness and great body punching, he creates continual excitement in the ring. However, he has been criticized for his inability to starch his opponents. Nevertheless, he has been somewhat under the radar screen and now that he was showcased in his exciting dismantling of Acelino "Popo" Freitas, I believe more fans will concur that he brings special and newly found excitement into the ring.

6. Arturo "Thunder" Gatti: Forget won-loss records. This is Gatti. The following Gatti quote speaks for itself: “I felt very excited to know that here I am training, knowing that I'm healthy. And I was feeling healthy, but you never know what's going on inside your body. I just didn't know what was going on. I was feeling good, but sometimes, because I have a big heart, my attitude is I always feel good. I don't want to go to the hospital for nothing.”

7. Ricky "Hit Man" Hatton. Crunching win over Castillo atones for Urango snore fest. He stays.

8. Manny "PacMan" Pacquiao. 44 -3-2 with, 36 KOs). He is the most exciting fighter in boxing today. This crowd pleasing warrior is rarely in a boring fight, and has knocked out Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera, both future hall of Famers. If he stays focused and continues to train hard, his chances for induction into the Hall will translate to a slam dunk. A rematch with Barrera has been scheduled and the excitement meter is already at 100, as the PacMan prepares to retire the valiant Mexican warrior once and for all

9. Edwin "Dinamita" Valero, 22 -0 with 22 KOs says it all. In fact, 19 of this Venezuelan's 22 stoppages have come in the first round! Now that's excitement. The problem is his fights don't last long enough to really enjoy, but it's really not his fault.

10. Darnell "The-Ding-A-Ling-Man" Wilson, 22-5-3 with 19 Kos. Wilson is on a chilling roll and always promises something special. Welcome aboard, "Ding-A-Ling."

Honerable mention: Nonito “The Filipino Flash’’ Donaire, 18-1, 11 KO’s. He chilled out heavy favorite Vic with a perfectly timed left hook. All of a sudden, non-aficionados were asking “who is this guy?” When one exciting guy beats another, he deserves props and that's why “The Flash” has earned a mention. I can't wait to see him fight again and that’s another reason.

I’m sure you can name some. Have a go

Oh yes, Arce, Brewster, Margarito, Mayweather and Morales have been given the hook.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Record behind the Record

The Record behind the Record

By Ted Sares

Some fighters finish their career with great records that no one ever knows about. Others, like Salvador "Chava" Sanchez's 44-1-1 record, Ricardo "Finito" Lopez's slate of 51-0-1 (38 KOs), Khaosai Galaxy's 49-1 (43 ko's) and Rocky Marciano's perfect 49-0 are well documented. The great Gene Tunney only dropped only one fight finishing with a remarkable 82-1-3-and 2 no contests. Of coures, Terry Marsh won every domestic amature boxing title and went on to retire as the undefeated British, European and World Champion

However, a few others you might not know about include:

"Dangerous" Dana Rosenblatt: 37-1-2 with (23 KOs). His slate includes wins over Vinnie Paz, Terry Norris, Glenwood "The Real Beast" Brown, Howard Davis and Brett Lally. He also beat Chad Parker and Sean Fitzgerald, both of whom retired with great records as well. Dana was a world champion who quit on his own terms.

Chad Parker, out of Biloxi, MS, never fought anyone of note until he stepped up to fight Dangerous" Dana and was knocked out in spectacular fashion in the first round. He immediately retired with a record of 31-1-1 with (25 KOs). Parker was a relative unknown who won his first fifteen all by stoppage—but his first nineteen opponents had losing records. Included among them were Jake Torrance (22-79-2) and Anthony Travis (5-50). He drew with Tim Rabon (14-12-2) and then fought Keheven Johnson (24-70-5), Anthony Ivory (33-77-5), and David McCluskey (20-72-6). A year before his Las Vegas fight with Rosenblatt, he fought Tim Dendy (17-44-2) and won by DQ in nine, which indicated at the time that Parker might be more hype than fight. All told, his opponents had an eye-popping combined won-lost record of 252-753!

Richie "The Bull" Melito, 27-1 with (25KOs), also lost when he stepped up for the first time. He was exposed and iced in 1997 by Bert Cooper in the first round.

Right out of the professional gate, he had won eighteen in a row, eleven coming by way of first-round KO. Only one of his fights went the distance, and that was a four-rounder against the immortal Edgar Turpin (0-6). In all, he had fought twenty-nine rounds in eighteen fights or 1.6 rounds per fight. But like many such records, there was a story behind the story.

None of his first eleven opponents had even won a fight. Finally, he fought unknown Chris Gingrow, who sported a 1-7 record and dispatched him in one round. He then stepped up and fought tough journeyman Mike Dixon in Memphis and did manage a TKO in four, his longest fight to date. Dixon, 16-30, had been in with may top-level fighters, so maybe the Bull had a little something after all.

When he fought John Carlo in his seventeenth fight, it marked the first time he fought an opponent with a winning record. This fight was for the vacant New York State Heavyweight Title. Carlo’s record was 14-2, with his only distinguishing accomplishment being a first-round KO over a completely shot Leon Spinks in 1994. It was one of Spink’s last fights. Other than that, he had fought no-names with losing records.

In fact, Carlo’s most recent fight leading up to July 29, 1997, had been against Eddie Curry (13-27-2) out of South Carolina, whom he beat by a TKO in the third round. Tellingly, Curry had lost seventeen fights inside of three. Completing the circle, he had even lost to Leon Spinks by DQ in 1994. Prior to” the Bull,” Carlo had been defeated by one Derek Amos (14-22) and Crawford Grimsley, both by first-round knockout. Grimsley’s claim to immortality would be a thirteen-second knockout at the hands of Jimmy “From Down Under” Thunder! At any rate, “the Bull” beat Carlo by KO in the second round and “captured” the crown.

Richie “the Bull” Melito’s 18-0 record had been overhyped by fighting seventeen opponents with losing records—and most had never even won a professional fight. Their combined won-lost record was 60-138. To Richie's credit, he finished his career with a string of wins against much better competition.

Alonzo Highsmith, 27-1-2 (23 ko's) was a running back out of Miami who was drafted in the first round, and played football for Houston, Dallas, and Tampa Bay from 1987 to 1992, but Highsmith never finished in the top ten in any major category, nor is he in the all-time top fifty in any major category. Moreover, his boxing opponents were on the dreadful side, with few wins coming against decent fighters with even halfway decent records. For example, he managed to beat the immortal Ed Strickland (0-30), legendary Jim Wisniewski (3-30) twice, and Terry Verners (8-26-2).

Highsmith is now working on getting his PGA Tour card. At thirty-six as a college scout for the Green Bay Packers, Highsmith spends a lot of time mentoring and coaching young football players. And he’s still a big name to many. Highsmith enthusiastically works football camps and assists seriously ill children at hospitals.

Leroy Jones, this 6'5 heavyweight out of Denver won the vacant NABF Heavyweight Title in 1978 before losing to Larry Holmes in his bid for the heavyweight title. Two years later, he retired with a record of 25-1-1 and likely became the subject of boxing trivia questions. Still, he had very good technical skills and an even better final record.

Henry "The Gentleman" Maske, 31-1, was a former Light Heavyweight champion who fought and won after taking a 10-year layoff. His level of opposition was impressive from the very start of his career, but the rap against Maske was that he fought too many fights in Germany.

Marshall Simpson was as Boston area light middleweight who retired with a fine 25-1 record. However, this boxer originally from Jamaica only fought three fighters with winning records. His lone loss came by TKO at the hands of Nate Woods who had lost eight in a row before dispatching Simpson.

So what's the point? Well, for one thing, when analyzing the worth of a fighter, it’s more important to do it on a qualitative basis than on a quantitative one. A guy who's undefeated at 10-0, for example, might not be that much better than a more seasoned boxer with a lousy record. For me, the quality of a fighter's opponents and his experience level are the key and should be closely analyzed to prevent dangerous mismatches. Think not? When Melito fought Cooper in 1997, the “Bull” was 18-0 and had a ko percentage of 94%. Smokin' Bert was 33-17 but his level of competition was light years better then Richie's.