HBO Boxing and It’s Problem With Boxers

Saturday night Terrence Crawford the undefeated lightweight prospect from Omaha, NE put on another absolute boxing clinic. Instead of appreaciating his performance HBO announcers catered to the base desires of inebriated illiterate boxing fans in Orlando who were booing.

This does not come as a surprise. HBO announcers, most notably Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant in the past, have often shit on fine performances of boxers. Meanwhile, if an unskilled brawler fights like he is in a ten-dollar tough-man contest at a bowling alley HBO goes crazy for them.

HBO of course becomes it’s own worst enemy. They build up punchers with limited defense and then the first time they meet an elite, well-rounded, skilled-boxer they get schooled. James Kirkland, Brandon Rios, Tavoris Cloud, Nonito Donaire, etc. . In Donaire’s case he gets absolutely taken to school by Guillermo Rigondeaux and instead of hyping up Rigo as a Cuban Pernell Whittaker they don’t give him a date while adding Donaire to a fall card.

Many will say ” how else can HBO play it?” Given the fact fans like punchers and many of these fighters who are lacking in defense and have problems with boxers are Mexicans whose fanbase is critical to the boxing economy.

Those are fair questions. I will counter with two arguments. First, the hardcore boxing base is small. This is a niche sport. Most of the people who tune in may be casual fans or just flipping the remote. Imagine if the first thing they hear is announcers shitting on the fight, the boxers, and the event itself. How is that good for boxing or ratings?

Secondly, instead of shitting on and disrespecting why don’t these announcers educate fans. Explain footwork, counter-punching and defense? Raise the level of knowledge amongst the masses so they can appreaciate what they are watching?  That’s what baseball announcers do during pitching-duels and football announcers do during defensive battles.

I see great potential in Terrence Crawford. I would favor him to beat anyone at Top Rank ( Marquez, Pacquiao, Alvarado, Bradley and to 120-108 Rios). Been watching Crawford since the amateurs. Yet, will he get his chance to shine? Will HBO in Vince McMahon WWE-like fashion freeze out Crawford like they did Rigo? Will Bob Arum punish him for success like he did Zahir Raheem after he beat Erik Morales? Or will Arum promote him like he did Timothy Bradley? Time will tell and I will be watching. But remember: if HBO did baseball in the eighties they would have fired Ozzie Smith because his defense was too good and shit on “Whiteyball”.

Other boxing notes: the agressive Miguel Cotto looked great: but with all due respect to Delvin Rodriguez was picked to make Cotto look good. I am intrigued by a Cotto-Sergio Martinez matchup….I really like the Klitschko Brothers. Had lunch with them years ago and found them to be smart caring individuals. Just find there fights to almost always be boring as hell. Last saturday definitely no exception.

Hair, Thoughts, and Cards

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Growing my hair back after all these years. this for the motherfuckers that said I was bald.

Thoughts….
Wasn’t thinking about the government shutdown till the guy I asked to borrow money told me he’d been furloughed…..dealing with addicts takes patience….small town lawyers in small town junior-circuit for a reason….Sam Bradford a bust now you believe me….Chuck Liddell is an old skinhead with a glass jaw…I respect MMA and love wrestling but hate the right-wing skinhead culture of the UFC Plantation…Not interested in Chavez-Vera II in the corrupt state of Texas….why do ugly girls wear niqaab? Saw a group of niqaabis looked a herd of retired NFL lineman crossing the street the other day….speaking of niqaab been told to beware of the con-artist Umm Niqaab out of Orange, NJ who has ripped a lot of Muslims off….Lena Headey Queen Cersei the baddest woman on Game of Thrones she single-handefly got me liking whitegirls again..  Whiteboy yuppie rapper tries to lecture Brand Nubian on hip-hop man go ride your bike to the kickball game and shut the fuck up…don’t hate procreate if the bed break use some duct tape. Go Cards!

Gennady Golovkin: Baddest Kazakh Since Borat Destroys Macklin

I have been following Gennady Golovkin since the 2004 Olympics and have been impressed every step of the way. It is hard for foreign fighters to get a big fan base in America. Especially when you are from a nation like Kazakhstan that has a minuscule amount of emigres in the United States ( keep in mind with Manny Pacquiao there are a number of American cities with sizable Filipino-American residents and the same goes without saying of fighters from Latin America) . However, when you have the kind of devastating punching power GGG has you can sell tickets and get the TV ratings that makes network executives happy. This guy is sparring with light-heavyweights and heavyweights  in training and hurting them and against a very game Matthew Macklin GGG seemed to hurt him with virtually every punch ( including scoring what should have been a knockdown in round one before the brutal end came in round three). Along with Argentinean Junior Welterweight Lucas Matthysse we are living in an era of two devastating imported punchers wowing  hardcore American boxing fans. I rate GGG ahead of Matthysse though. Yes the Argentinean scored knockdowns against Zab Judah and Devon Alexander but I had both bouts being scored correctly ( 114-113 for Judah and 95-94 for Alexander). I think Matthysse has grown as a boxer since that point: but I still think he can be outboxed. A well-schooled amateur I think GGG would be a more difficult task.

Where does Golovkin go from here? HBO is clearly trying to groom him for a bout with Sergio Martinez and then Andre Ward and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.. Against Martinez and Chavez I favor Golovkin by brutal stoppage. Golovkin-Ward I can’t call it right now and I see it as being a classic fight and boxer v. puncher match-up. Matchups with Golden Boy fighters not fighting on Showtime such as Peter Quillin  is not going to happen for business reasons and a waste of time to think about.

I had Brandon Gonzales beating Thomas Oosthuizen 96-94. If Oosthuizen is being groomed for Andre Ward I’m not sure who is going to be excited by this matchup. Didn’t catch Willie Nelson’s win. For the sake of his promoter, local St. Louis guy Steve Smith, I hope he does well.

Bernard Hopkins: American Hero and Champion

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I am a huge fan of the sport of boxing. Yet seldom do I root for any one fighter. When I am asked “who do you want to win” my answer is always the same: “I don’t care who wins I just want to see a good competitive fight”. Bernard Hopkins is the exception.

At 48 years old Hopkins became the oldest man to ever hold a major title by defeating light-heavyweight beltholder Tavoris Cloud at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. He broke his own record. The story of Hopkins is a man who has defied father time, doesn’t seem to age, and outsmarts younger and quicker opponents. There is more to the story though.

Hopkins grew up on the mean streets of Germantown North Philadelphia. At an early age, like many of his peers, Hopkins got caught up in a life on the streets. Strong-armed robbery was Hopkins game. It is easy to judge and say he should have stayed in school and in his amateur boxing gym: but you are talking about a young man from a highly dysfunctional home growing up in poverty and some of the meanest streets in America.  This does not excuse his behavior it only gives it context.

Like most who turn to a life of crime, and many from his neighborhood, Hopkins ended up in prison. At age seventeen he began serving a five-year sentence at the notorious Grateford Prison in Pennsylvania. Hopkins witnessed rapes, murders, and countless acts of violence. It was only through his conversion to Islam and taking up the boxing program that Hopkins was able to stay clean and begin turning his life around from behind bars. Notice what I said: Islam and boxing. A religion that has turned so many lives around from behind the walls and boxing a sport that has turned lives around. It is ironic that prisons in the post-911 era have often developed a hostile attitude toward their Muslim prisoners and almost all prisons have cut their boxing programs. Hopkins left prison never to return. Never to go back to his old life and forever leaving behind him his old ways. This is an inspiration to the millions of prisoners and ex-offenders in America.  Wardens should be inviting Hopkins to speak at such juvenile detention centers, county jails and prisons.

In his first professional fight Hopkins lost. He could have gave up: but he found the legendary trainer Bouie Fischer who taught him boxing and guided him to a middleweight championship. While Hopkins went on to defend the middleweight crown a record twenty times he was overshadowed in the 90’s and even much of the 00’s by Roy Jones, Jr., and James Toney. It was only in 2001 when Hopkins destroyed the heavily-favored Felix Trinidad at Madison Square Garden in front of a Puerto Rican crowd did Hopkins finally get his just due. By that time Hopkins was already getting old. Little did the public know the party was just getting started.

Hopkins has went on to have big wins into his 40’s. This time under the guidance of Brother Naazim Richardson a fellow Muslim brother from Philly who himself has inspired many by overcoming a serious medical-condition to train at the elite-level. How is he able to do this? Let’s start with the facts he doesn’t, drink, smoke, get high, eat sweets, eat junk foods, hang out in the streets, stay out late in night clubs and approaches boxing as a 24-7 lifestyle. He doesn’t get out of shape after fights and then have to cut weight in training. Hopkins is always in fighting shape. Wear and tear is not wasting in the gym with meaningless “Philly gym wars” he saves his energy. Most importantly Hopkins has a “boxing IQ” that is off the charts. Quite simply, like many other elite-fighters, he outthinks his opponents. While they are playing Asteroids he is playing Call of Duty. This is the model for all young boxers. If you want a long and successful career, and you have the goods, emulate this. If you want a short career make it rain at the strip clubs, buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need, get multiple child-support cases, drink and get high between fights, and surround yourself with violence and criminals.

Finally, not only is Hopkins a role-model for troubled urban youth, ex-offenders and young boxers, B-Hop is also a role-model for fitness in America. At 48 B-Hop is in elite condition and as we are all getting older, including myself, we can take inspiration from his discipline and physical condition.

Hasim Rahman: Thanks for the Memories Brother, Now Go in Peace

I can remember back to the year 2001 when Muslims in America were overwhelmed with joy when Hasim Rahman scored a stunning knockout victory over the then heavyweight champion of the world Lennox Lewis in South Africa.

I did not see the fight live because I was on a Greyhound bus traveling from St. Louis to New York. I found out Hasim pulled off the upset at a rest strop in Pennsylvania where a group of Muslim brothers were talking about it.

The next day in Brooklyn and New Jersey I heard a lot of Muslim brothers excitedly talking about Hasim and a lot of brothers were trying to get a tape of the fight. These were all African-American brothers; but a few weeks later I was in the DC area at the home of a Bangladeshi brother and he and his friends were equally excited.

It was not just the fact that Hasim was a Muslim, because there have been numerous Muslim titleholders in boxing from Muhammad Ali to Eddie Mustafa Muhammad to Naseem Ahmed, it was the fact that Hasim was such a vocal and enthusiastic Muslim.

After he defeated Lewis he attributed his victory to the fact that his salat had been right and he used a number of Muslim phrases in his interview with HBO commentator Larry Merchant. Most Muslims did not know at the time of the fight but learned shortly after that his father, Yahya Cason, is an imam in Baltimore and a prominent figure in the Muslim community. We also did not know that Hasim was married young and had a Muslim family. So, the more Muslims learned about our brother the more we learned to like him.

After the first Lewis fight Hasim was given a lucrative contract by Don King and I have it on good authority every Muslim within shouting distance came running to get a piece of the money for their community projects. I am told he donated a nice sum but after a time grew a little leery (which is understandable).

In the buildup to the rematch with Lewis in a televised joint interview on ESPN Hasim further impressed Muslims by physically attacking Lewis after his sister was disrespected. Watching the program I could almost read the mind of Hasim and it said “I cannot let this man disrespect a Muslim sister”.

So, while most Muslims were not in the camp of Hasim leading up to the first Lewis fight, Muslims in America were fully on board for the rematch and there were PPV watching parties for Muslims all over the country. American-Muslims were prepared this time around to support our man; but there was a little problem, Lewis was also prepared.

Rumor had it that Lewis did not train hard for the first fight and had been too busy on the set of the Hollywood film Oceans 11. He looked sluggish and out of shape going into the fight; but for the rematch he had trained well with Emanuel Steward and was in prime condition and ready to avenge his loss. Muslims watched the tables be turned that night as Lewis scored a viscous knockout victory over Hasim after landing a classic right hand.

For the moment, the Muslim hero had been vanquished, and American-Muslims were left with only a few fringe contenders like Zahir Raheem and rumors about Bernard Hopkins being a Muslim (his camp is almost entirely Muslim and I have been told he is a Muslim).

Hasim would have a few other good moments and some good wins; but his career would never again gain the kind of notability he had after the Lewis win thanks to losses to guys like John Ruiz and getting knocked out by Oleg Maskaev.

However, like a lot of Muslims I know, I was still pulling for Hasim when he fought the Ukrainian Heavyweight and universally recognized best in the world Wladimir Klitshcko last Saturday. And, like a lot of Muslims, I cringed as Hasim took a straight up beating at the hands of Klitschko.

Now is the time, and all fighters get to this point, for Hasim to look in the mirror and say ” I have made good money, given good memories, and left my mark, now it is time to retire”. That would be the best course of action for Brother Hasim. Go out while he still has his health and work on his deen.

There will be other Muslim boxers to come up like Saddam Ali a young Yemeni kid from Brooklyn, Amir Khan out of England, and Rock Allen out of Philly; but no matter what they do they will have a hard time topping the excitement Hasim created on that night in South Africa.

Odlanier Solis: An Example of Immigration Policy Gone Wrong

Since 9-11 many in American politics and the public have turned to the old “Fortress America” mentality (a term that was coined for Pat Buchanan due to his anti-immigration positions).

The typical arguments against America letting fewer into this nation are three; a massive amount of low-wage earning immigrants drives the wages down for working-class Americans, overcrowding has a negative effect on the environment and immigration from the Muslim World can lead to terrorism. Some of these arguments are stronger than others. It is obvious that America needs to balance our labor needs with the needs of workers already here and that while we should be accommodating we are charged with being stewards of the environment. With regards to terrorism being a result of immigration from the Muslim World this is a charge without merit given the fact that of the millions of immigrants to come to America from the Muslim World only a handful have ever been involved in any activity that can even be remotely connected to terrorism.

While America has been tightening her borders it has also kept people out who could have been beneficial to this society and while America has closed the borders other nations are opening them. If America is limiting the number of IT professionals and financers from South Asia; Great Britain, Australia and Canada are opening their doors. College students from the Muslim World on government scholarships who are no longer finding a hospitable climate in America are opting for other nation’s with top universities.

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