Ahoy there! This is my personal blog which I use as my memory extension and a medium to share stuff that could be useful to others.

Another weekend, another exciting boxing match – Ricky Hatton Vs Manny Pacquiao. I thought I would be watching the fight right now instead of blogging, but Manny blew away the “Hitman” in just 2 rounds and here I am. I stayed awake all night to watch this fight LIVE and although I predicted a Manny victory prior to the fight, I am surprised at the clinical and emphatic manner in which Manny finished off Hatton.

 

Hatton (L) Vs Manny (R)

As with the Hatton-Mayweather Jr., fight, a lot of hype was built up around the “new” Hatton for his fight with Manny. And as usual, Hatton spoke a lot prior to the fight – about how Manny will be facing a fiery Hatton, how Manny will be fighting his biggest opponent, how Manny will be punished by body blows, blah, blah…. On the other hand, Manny didn’t talk much and was just focussed on the fight. 

If at all this indicated anything, looking at the kin of the 2 fighters as they made their ring entrances, you could see such a stark contrast. Hatton’s fiancée looked very nervous, whereas Manny’s wife seemed relaxed. Manny himself resembled a smiling assassin when he entered the ring. When the first round began, it seemed to me that Manny was backing off a bit and I thought he was trying to avoid “heavy” punches from the Hitman. However, Manny soon showed us that his quick feet and hands (southpaw) were going to pose Hatton a problem and soon there was a swing and a miss from Hatton which allowed Manny to land a clean punch, thereby knocking down Hatton for the first time in the match. Hatton was then knocked down a second time in round 1 and the bell ensured that the fight would stretch to two rounds. In the second round, Manny was able to easily jab Hatton. Then, came the big one from Manny – a brutal left hook to Hatton’s chin. Hatton fell to the floor as if he were poleaxed and he was unconscious. Hatton was sprawled across the canvas for a while, causing some concern. Fortunately, he was back on his feet later and fully conscious. So, the fight was over within 2 rounds and Manny left no doubt in anybody’s mind as to who is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

In my opinion, I never considered Hatton to be even among the top 5 candidates for the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. My opinion is bashatton-manny2ed on the fact that Hatton has one and only one way of fighting – walk right into the opponent punching with brute force, no quick feet and poor defence. This boxing style actually bears closer resemblance to pub brawls and will easily be outclassed by technically superior boxing styles. Hatton himself said “The Mayweather fight changed my career. I had too many fights where there was no real thought in the way I was fighting”. Unfortunately, there’s still no thought and no improvement as seen in his fight with Manny. The brilliant Freddie Roach (Manny’s coach) found flaws in Hatton’s style, worked with Manny in the gym on exploiting those flaws and predicted a 3rd round knockout. Manny made Freddie’s prediction turn out wrong by knocking out Hatton in the 2nd round, but Freddie will gladly accept that.

Ever since Ricky Hatton won the IBF Junior Welterweight World Championship belt by defeating a 35-year old Kostya Tszyu, he was hailed as a boxing legend in Britain and the marketing and money-spinning machines worked overtime to build a fairy-tale bubble around Hatton. What actually seemed annoying to me was that Hatton simply did not respect his profession enough. He did not follow a boxer’s regime and keep in shape. Instead, it was fast foods and sort of a pub lifestyle. It seemed to me that Hatton thought he was the best light-welterweight fighter in the world without even being tested by world class fighters who were in their prime. And this bloated ego was very evident in all the bragging crap he dished out in the pre-match build-ups for his fights against Floyd and Manny – both truly great champions. Well, if there’s anything I can give Hatton credit for, it’s his ability to put bums in seats. He simply never failed to attract huge crowds even when fighting away from home. He’s got a huge fan base who’ve travelled with him for his fights. To me, Hatton is a people’s champ, but not a boxing legend.

What next for Hatton?: He should hang up his gloves and enjoy his time with his family. He’s fought hard, held the light-welterweight championship belts for around 4 years and made a lot of money. Now, it seems he’s hit a brick wall with regards to where his boxing ability can take him. He’s had a shot at 2 great champs and has been knocked out by both. Unless, he can radically transform himself into a new Hatton bearing all the qualities of a great fighter (new style, strict training regime, etc.), will it be worth him trying another shot to get back his title, but there is a very, very small possibility, if not zero, that this can happen.

What next for Manny?: Floyd Mayweather Jr. fights Juan Manuel Marquez in July 2009. Manny has already had 2 gruelling fights with Juan (1 draw and 1 controversial win for Manny) and all boxing fans would love to see Manny take on Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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I was disappointed when I came to know that no UK TV broadcaster agreed a deal to telecast the Froch-Taylor match LIVE. Well, ITV stepped in at the last moment to telecast the matcvh “as LIVE” around 18 hours after the fight. Fortunately, Omnisport streamed the fight LIVE for £9.95 and I booked the fight just minutes before punch-off! And man, I’m thrilled I didn’t miss the LIVE telecast!

Carl Froch (L) Vs Jermain Taylor (R)

Since watching Carl Froch take the vacant WBC Super-middleweight title with a classic match against Jean Pascal, I knew that Froch will be an exciting prospect and I admired his tough chin and stamina.

So, this was Froch’s first big fight (against the former world champion Jermain Taylor who’s no pushover) and his first fight on American soil. Also, it was hist first defence of his WBC super-middleweight title.

Jermain started strongly and dominated the first couple of rounds. He looked more stylish and solid in defence than Carl Froch. And then in the 3rd round, he handed Froch his first knockdown in his career (Carl Froch was undefeated and was never knocked down to the canvas prior to this fight). It seemed that the skilful, former champ Jermain Taylor was ready to teach Carl Froch a boxing lesson and Jermain went on to dominate the first half of the fight. From the 7th round onwards, Carl Froch became more active, using his jab more frequently and taking the fight to Taylor, who by now was backing off a bit (Taylor has publicly acknowledged his issues with stamina and going the distance). However, Taylor was still doing enough to lead Froch on the judges scorecards. Going into the final round, Taylor was leading 106-102 on two of the three judges’ scorecards. Just before getting off his stool for the final round, Froch’s trainer told him “You’ve got to get a big round. Don’t blow it!”  and that’s exactly what Froch did. He threw several combinations at Taylor and moved him towards the ropes. In the last minute of the final round, Froch avaenged his 3rd round knockdown by knocking down Taylor. Taylor looked stunned and Froch knew that if he didn’t finish off Taylor, Taylor could still win on points. So, Froch continued dishing out the punches while Taylor just had his arms up  trying to defend while leaning against the ropes. It was obvious Taylor could not defend himself and Froch could punch him at will and so the referee made the correct decision of stopping the fight, just 14 seconds before the final bell! Froch had won his first defence, retained his WBC super-middleweight title and had arrived in the USA! Shame on the bloody disgraceful UK TV broadcasters who telecast LIVE boring Commonwealth/British title fights and Amir Khan’s over-hyped matches, but refused to do so for the Froch-Taylor fight. Now, perhaps,  they’ll line up to strike a deal for Froch’s next fight.

Well, it should not be down and out for  Taylor as he fought well and did not allow Froch to dominate the fight. The fight was actually going Taylor’s way until the last few seconds of the final round. In the end, it was Froch’s tough chin and stamina which helped him stage a wonderful comeback and nail down the victory. There may be a rematch on the cards, but it seems that Froch’s most keen to get Joe Calzaghe out of retirement and called out loud and clear for him. Joe avoided Carl before retirement, dismissing Carl as a nobody. Well, I’m interested in watching Carl Froch take on one of these fighters soon – Lucian Bute, Mikkel Kessler, Sakio Bika (featured on “The Contender” show).

Will Carl Froch be a great champion? Well, his tough chin, stamina and some powerful punching have impressed me, but his poor defence could prove to be his downfall. He simply does not keep his gloves up to defend and can prove to be easy to hit by skilful boxers. So, it  seems that his chin will determine how far he goes in boxing if he doesn’t improve his defence. He’s not afraid to sign up for the big fights. If he develops a solid defence and starts strongly (use his jab more often in early rounds), then he’ll be very difficult to beat. Perhaps, his first big fight in America made him a bit nervous and that’s why he didn’t start very well against Taylor, but in the end, two excellent boxers gave us fans a cracking nail-biter! Thanks guys!

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I purchased the Khan Vs Barrera fight on Sky Box Office and looked forward to a good night’s fight with a glass of Ballantine’s and some fried swordfish.

 

enzo_ola

Among the undercard fights, I quite enjoyed the Enzo Maccarinelli Vs Ola Afolabi (left photo)  for the interim WBO cruiserweight title.

Ola was slithery and dodged most of Enzo’s punches, thereby systematically tiring Enzo. Also, Ola was poking fun at Enzo and keeping the crowd entertained. Finally in the ninth round, he delivered a lethal right-hand to the head of Enzo, knocking him down and winning the match.

 

With both my glass and plate empty, the big moment finally arrived. I decided to hold back on the scotch as I was paying a good amount to see some boxers, rather than myself, getting starry-eyed. I watched Barrera dismantle Naseem Hamed and I’ve been following Amir Khan’s career since he turned professional. The questions which were unanswered for me, before the fight were:

(1) Has Amir improved his defence and technique to protect his chin?

(2) Can Amir knock out a tough Mexican like Marco Antonio Barrera? Does he have the punching power to do so?

(3) Can Barrera, at the age of 35, keep up with the speed of the 22-year old Amir?

(4) Will Amir collapse (like he did against Breidis Prescott) should he get punched on the chin?

 

khan_barrera

Well, after the glitz and glamour of the boxers’ entrances, the match finally got underway. Amir Khan was out of his blocks quickly, moving around with lightning combinations. Unfortunately, in the very first round, there was an accidental clash of heads which caused a deep cut on Barrera’s head with blood literally oozing out. Barrera’s cuts man could not stem the flow of blood from Barrera’s head and he went on to fight almost 5 rounds continually wiping blood off his face. Finally, in the 5th round, after the referee’s second consultation with the ringside doctor, the fight was handed over to Amir Khan via a Technical Decision. For a fight to be ruled a no contest due to a head-butt, the fight must be called off within the first 4 rounds. I do not know if this was the reason the referee waited for the 5th round, but that’s just conjecture.

Trying to answer the questions above after the fight, here’s what I came up with:

(1) Amir has definitely improved his defence and technique after being taken under the wings of Freddie Roach. He had a different approach – hit and move, rather than hit, hit, hit and risk getting the odd punch back.

(2) Still unanswered. Amir could not knock out a wounded Barrera despite working some very good combinations on him for almost 5 rounds. We don’t know if Amir can eventually blow away tough opponents like he did with Michael Gomez and Oisin Fagan,  should the fight go the distance.

(3) No. Amir Khan was simply too fast for Barrera. Well, Barrera is a legend, but he’s well past his prime and would have found Amir’s speed tough to handle. Anyway, I have no idea what pride a young Amir can take by beating an old, pretty washed up Barrera. If Amir has a rematch with Breidis and defeats him, then I will be impressed (and I’m sure that’s what a lot of serious boxing fans will want – for Amir to prove himself against the best).

(4) Still unanswered. Amir’s speed and quick movement around the ring against a wounded Barrera, did not give Barrera a chance to test Amir’s chin. If Amir’s speed can help him protect his chin, then fair enough, but given what happened in his fight with Breidis, we all know that’s his single point of failure, until proven otherwise.

So, despite the improved boxing technique exhibited by Amir and the promise he showed, his win over Barrera was not comprehensive, not a spectacle for the boxing fan and although he said after the fight that he’s answered his critics, I’m afraid that some questions still remain unanswered.

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