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Monday, March 29, 2010

The Sweet Science 03.29.10: Klitschko, Mayweather-Mosley

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Posted by Igor Frank

Vincent Van Gogh, a painter whose influence on modern art world is hard to measure, died largely unknown at the age of thirty seven on July 27, 1890; his brilliance acknowledged and appreciated years after passing.

Sometimes the world does not recognize genius until it is too late.

With his situation not as dire as the one of a Dutch painter in the 19th century, the top heavyweight on the planet Wladimir Klitschko is not a household name among American boxing fans. In fact, his heavyweight title defense against number one American contender Fast Eddie Chambers that took place at a sold out ESPRIT Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany was not even televised in United Sates. One of the HBO executives cited the reason for not televising the event was that since the older brother Vitali came out of retirement, the American public could not differentiate between the two. After talking with a fair share of boxing fans I have to admit; it is a fair assessment. But wouldn't that be the exact reason to televise the event?

Viewing live action via internet, I was able to observe shaped like an Adonis, supremely confident champion, Wladimir Klitschko systematically dismantle his opponent Fast Eddie Chambers over twelve one sided rounds and finally knock him out with seconds left in the fight. Fast Eddie had absolutely no answer against a weapon of choice of his adversary, a steel hammer like jab that was coming his way and penetrating the guard on regular basis. A giant of a man at six foot seven inches Klitschko moved around the ring with a grace of a welterweight, consistently throwing hard left jab befuddling Eddie with it; Wladimir could have won the fight with just a jab, because not much was coming back in return, but he was mixing it up with right hands, one of which staggered Chambers badly in the second stanza. To his credit Eddie did try a few things; he lifted the champion after clinch and slammed him to the ground in the second round to show the world that he would not be intimidated and he did try to get inside from time to time and land some body shots, but those attempts were too few to matter. Mostly Eddie was on the defense covering up, eerily reminding Joshua Clottey taking a beating a week ago from Manny Pacquiao. For all practical purposes, the fight was over after the seventh round as Eddie had no chance of hurting the champion and was just getting beat up round after round. I thought the fight could have been stopped after nine to allow Chambers to fight another day, but his team kept sending him out and urging him to fight without actually giving him any practical advice.

What really disturbed me was that team Chambers allowed Eddie to come out for the final round, thus putting him in harm's way for no reason at all; Chambers was pretty bruised up by then and lost all eleven rounds and possessing no power to speak of , he had no chance of winning the fight. The only person really animated was Emanuel Stewart, Wladimir's chief trainer who kept asking Klitschko to finish the job and to not let this fight go to another crappy decision. Even though it is very hard to stop a boxer who doesn't want to be knocked out and just covers up, Klitschko did listen to his trainer and desperately wanting to make fifty one thousand in attendance happy, he came out for the final round with a pernicious look in his eyes. Wladimir intensified his attack and kept driving depleted Chambers back with crisp combinations. Finally with an American fighter against the ropes and only few seconds left in the contest, Klitschko landed a short left hook that Eddie did not see because he was covering up. The punch that hurts the most is the one you do not see. And that is exactly what happened to Chambers who went down through the ropes face first at which point every one observing instantly knew that he was not getting up any time soon. After spending a few anxious minutes on the canvas Eddie did get up, but he could not remember the knock down.

Always a consummate sportsman Klitschko had high praise for his opponent: "Chambers is an extraordinary boxer. He is very, very quick and preemptive. In the last rounds I gave everything and I am very happy about the result. To me Chambers gave up mentally after round six. It's hard to hit somebody who is very passive and tries not to be knocked out."

Despite a brilliant performance and a dramatic stoppage Wladimir did not get a lot of love from American media. Most called the fight boring until the final round.

Klitschko's complete dominance over his opponents has become his curse. All fights involving Wladimir lately are predictable one sided beatings that lack drama or excitement. The only opponent for Klitschko at this point in time that would interest the American TV networks and fans would be David Hay. However , should Wladimir destroy him in a similar fashion to the way he did all of his previous opponents, he will get no credit at all as Hay is an over blown cruiserweight.

May be just like Van Gogh, the only way Klitschko will get recognized as a greatest heavyweight of our era, will be postmortem. Or may be an opponent will appear that would be able to bring out the best out of the current champion and cause the heavyweight division to return to its days of glory.

Is Floyd Trying To Clean Up The Sport Of Boxing?

Ever since earlier this year when the mega fight between two best boxers on the planet, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. fell apart, questions and debates about the cause of the melt down rage on.

Just when it looked like that the only question about the most anticipated match up in years would be where to have it, Las Vegas or Dallas, Floyd Mayweather Jr. requested to implement an Olympic style drug testing prior to the fight. Pacquiao camp balked. Highly superstitious Pacquiao feels that drawing blood too close the fight time will take away from his strength. Mayweather Sr. publicly accused Pacquiao of being on the juice. Pacman and his people filed a defamation of character law suit. A Los Angeles judge was called in to mediate the negotiations between Pacquiao and Mayweather and to try to save the fight which would guarantee each boxer $25 million dollars, but it was too late; by this point in time only God could save the event and he decided not to meddle.

Pacquiao went on to destroy a very strong welterweight Joshua Clottey last Saturday in Dallas in front of record crowd of 51 thousand fans, in what turned out to be a one sided beating. As soon as the beating was over, everyone wanted to talk about Mayweather." Let commissions do their job," exclaimed Pacquiao's coach, Freddie Roach:" Just get in the ring and fight!"

Mayweather is going to face a welterweight champion Sugar Shane Mosley in Las Vegas on May first in a huge event. But what everybody is talking about is not the event itself, but the fact that Floyd forced Mosley to agree to Olympic style drug testing. Desperately needing a big money fight at the twilight of his career, Mosley would probably agree to tie one of his hands behind his back to fight Mayweather, but that is the subject for another story.

"Floyd Mayweather is trying to clean up the sport of boxing," said Leonard Ellerbe, Floyd's chief advisor, last Thursday during a first of its kind media telephone conference that discussed anti- doping drug testing program for Mayweather vs. Mosley:"Everybody who steps in the ring with him is going to be subjected to this."

Even though Mayweather Mosley is a thrilling match up with a final outcome far from being certain, all casual fans want to talk about is the possibility of Pacquiao Mayweather happening later on this year. Just yesterday my banker pulled me aside and said: Say, Igor, why doesn't Manny just take the darn drug test and fight Mayweather already?"

On the other hand, a famous boxing personality and one of the best cut men in the business, Tony Rivera had this to say about the subject: "Floyd never wanted to fight Pacquiao and he found a reason to get out of it."
To simplify, here is the issue at hand. Does Pacquiao really have something to hide? Is Mayweather really trying to clean up the sport or is he simply trying to gain an advantage with psychological warfare?

I first called Keith Keizer of Nevada State Athletic Commission who informed me that urine anti doping tests are administered before and after the fight. No blood tests are in protocol. Similar procedures are employed in California and New York. The only blood test required in California is when a boxer is applying for a license, but that test is mostly concerned with aids and hepatitis and does not check for steroids.

Last Thursday, during a media telephone conference, Travis Tygart, CEO of United States Anti Doping Agency explained the protocol of Olympic Style drug testing that was adopted for Mayweather Mosley Fight.

According to Mr. Tygart, after the orientation, beginning from March 22nd, both athletes will be subjected to random unannounced blood and urine tests leading all the way up to and after the fight. The number of tests will not be disclosed till after the event to insure maximum credibility. Any positive result will be published following legal procedures. So why is urine test not enough? Why not do a DNA test that will only involve a hair sample?

"The chemicals that cannot be detected in urine samples are HGH (human growth hormone), HBT, HBOC, and PATH" said Tygart.

According to Wikipedia HGH stimulates growth and cell reproduction and regeneration in humans and other animals. And HBT does not mean holistic body training.

"We cannot afford not to do it," said Tygart when asked about financial feasibility of the program:" Today, this is about clean athletes and their right to compete on a level playing field. If you are clean, you have no reason not to be a part of this program. In fact, you demand it."

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