Archive for the ‘boxing’ Category

The photo below was taken by a gentleman named Neil Leifer. In my opinion, it might be the best sports photo ever taken. famous.Ali.photo

Leifer snapped this photo at ringside when photographers had to go develop the film to see if they nailed the shot. As you can see, he captured Muhammad Ali in full powerful glory with a first-round knockout of Sonny Liston in 1965.

The photo displays Ali at perhaps the top level of his boxing career — and a much different version of the man that the young people of today envision.

Muhammad Ali died on Friday night at the age of 74 and it is one of those deaths that hits everyone.

He transcended the sports world and is truly one of the legends of our time.

Ali battled Parkinson’s disease for the last 32 years of his life and I can tell you firsthand what a despicable, horrible disease it is. I know this because my father died from it.

While my dad’s health was deteriorating, I began praying with a request that nobody I knew ever get diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I later upgraded it to ask that even people I don’t know not receive the diagnosis.

So part of me thinks of the sad way Ali lived the latter part of his life. Nobody of his stature deserves that.

But think of the way the younger Ali lived.

Wow, did he live.

I have no firsthand knowledge of how big Ali was in the 1960s but I can attest to his status in the 1970s. Every one of his fights was a major deal and the hype was incredible. This was before the ESPN era, mind you.

He would go on some crazy rants and would ridicule opponents and you never knew what was coming next.

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” was one of his famous lines that you would hear repeated on the playground over and over.

Yeah, it is hard to believe Muhammad Ali no longer lives on planet Earth.

Here is a quick synopsis of his boxing career for the youngsters frequenting this website.

He was born as Cassius Clay and first earned boxing fame by winning the 1960 gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Rome.

He later changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1967 when he joined the Nation of Islam. He refused to serve in the military during the Vietnam War, was found guilty of draft evasion and was stripped of the title he won in 1964 with the first of his two victories over Liston.

Ali eventually returned to boxing and suffered a loss to Joe Frazier in 1971 in one of three memorable fights between the two. Ali won the other two bouts, including the “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975.

In 1973, Ali suffered a stunning defeat when then little-known Ken Norton broke Ali’s jaw at the San Diego Sports Arena and won a 12-round split decision.

Ali regained the heavyweight title for the second time in 1974 when he defeated George Foreman in the famous rope-a-dope fight in Zaire.

Ali’s career record was 56-5 with 37 wins by knockouts. His last fight was in 1981 and he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984.

And now, on June 3, 2016, a true legend has died.

He often referred to himself as “The Greatest.”

He just may have been right.

What a crazy Saturday full of sports and if you left your house even once today, you kind of fail at life.

If you missed all the sporting events, you are likely one of the following: Incarcerated, marching the streets of Baltimore or wasting your day on a used-car lot.

Suddenly, playing for the Cleveland Browns doesn’t sound so bad. Well, if you can figure out how not to live in Cleveland while cashing their checks.

Before the big fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao even hit the pay-per-view airwaves at $99.95 plus tax per purchase – you mean people don’t understand you can find FREE online streams for these fights? – we got to view an outstanding Game 7 between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers. And it was on FREE TV and it was outright amazing.

Clippers point guard Chris Paul was hobbling on a sore hamstring he injured earlier in the game and sidestepped Danny Green’s defense and avoided Tim Duncan’s attempt to swat it aside to bank in the decisive shot with one second left to give Los Angeles a 111-109 victory. Good bye defending champions. See you next year.

The unexpected thing was that the basketball game was much more exciting than the big boxing bout. Mayweather improved to 48-0 in his career with a unanimous 12-round decision but it was hardly an entertaining tussle and nothing like its billing as “Fight of the Century.”

There was no knockout for Mayweather. He apparently saves those for the women he hits.

Who can forget that American Pharoah became the luckiest horse of the year by winning the Kentucky Derby. Since horses don’t spend money, American Pharoah gets all the bales of hay he wants forever and will never have to worry about sitting hungry in a barn again.

Good food if you can get it. Well, for a horse. Just ask Secretariat.

“He eats bales of hay, Sec-re-tar-i-at.” (Use tune of Toto’s “Rosanna” for full effect).

The NFL Draft finished up but nobody was even chatting about that by dark. Not with all the other good stuff going on.

Oh yeah, the New York Yankees tried to spoil our day of fun by saying they won’t pay Alex Rodriguez his $6 million bonus for catching Willie Mays on the all-time homer list with his 660th blast. It’s hard to ever be on Rodriguez’s side on anything but you know, it is in the contract and it wasn’t written in that it is voided if you cheat.

Wow, so weird to commiserate for A-Rod the fraud.

OK, on to the top 10 list:

10. The Kansas City Royals played a baseball game without getting in a fight. They must have missed the word that Saturday was “Fight Night.” In fact, the Royals were so punchless that they scored just one run while losing to the Detroit Tigers

9. The New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals 3-2 to even their playoff series at one game apiece. I have no idea if this was a big accomplishment or not because it is the NHL but I also know I need to mention it or else my inbox will be filled with hockey fans calling me names over the omission.

8. The NFL Draft is lucky to crack the list as the once-anticipated Saturday has been rendered a complete waste of time due to the league’s switch to a three-day event. When the best thing you have to talk about is whether Blake Petty or Brett Hundley will go first in the fourth round, you know there is no further reason to watch.

7. The big Twitter outburst that CNN’s Rachel Nichols and ESPN’s Michelle Beadle had credentials pulled for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight because they said mean things about Mayweather’s history of domestic abuse. I understand why Mayweather and his handlers don’t like Nichols (see interview here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a21U_fXjGTA) but Beadle is one of those harmless fools who hosts some kind of lowly fluff show on ESPN. She’s just happy to get some pub. Oh yeah, Mayweather’s camp denies there were any games played with the credentials. Um, OK.

6. Shortly after American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby, @NBCNews tweeted BREAKING: American Pharoah wins 141st Kentucky Derby. Good thing I wasn’t drinking a mint julep as I would have dropped it upon seeing the response from a Bo Pelini parody account: “That has to be a record.”

5. The bugle at the Kentucky Derby. As soon as that familiar race-day jingle is played, I know my yearly output of two minutes of horse racing is near. Love that bugle.

4. Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros are the talk of baseball. Wait, the HOUSTON ASTROS are the talk of baseball? This is indeed a Saturday Sports Day for the ages. Altuve hit a three-run homer – he came up short in his bid for his 10th consecutive multihit game – and the formerly woeful Astros have won nine straight games and 13 of their last 14. Call them the first-place Astros. Wow.

3. Quite a performance at the Kentucky Derby for American Pharoah and, gosh, do we wish the horse could talk so we wouldn’t have to hear owner Bob Baffert drone on and on about nothing of substance. Jockey Victor Espinoza rode the horse way wide as they hit the stretch and the finishing kick was stellar to win the Run for the Roses.

2. Special thanks to the Website known as vipleague for the free boxing stream as there was no way the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight was worth $100. I knew that before the fight – duh – and it became even more obvious during it. So much hype means so much dollars for all involved. But the actual action didn’t live up to the hype and I can’t believe how upset people must be for forking over that much cash.

1. NBA playoff basketball is about 100 times more exciting and intense than the regular season and the epic contest between the Clippers and Spurs once again proved it. And how badly does San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich want to beat up – Mayweather style – the shot-clock operator at the Staples Center for messing up the team’s last-second play?

I remember watching an unknown German boxer named Axel Schulz whip George Foreman on a Saturday night in 1995 and was appalled at what I heard announced after the fight.

The judges ruled that the 46-year-old Foreman was the winner of the bout by a split-decision and those words ring in my ears to this day. The then tubby, wobbly Foreman didn’t come close to winning the fight and it was a travesty that he retained his championship belt.

A few months later, Foreman refused to fight Schulz in a rematch. Gee, I guess George didn’t want to lose a second time.

Another ridiculous boxing moment occurred Saturday night that reminds us that the sport is dirty and scandalous. Manny Pacquiao got the better of a boxer named Timothy Bradley and there was never a moment during the 12-round bout where I felt I was watching an upset in the making.

Apparently I need to visit the eye doctor soon because the judging decision in the welterweight title bout doesn’t jive with the fight I watched.

Despite Pacquiao carrying the action and winning nearly every round, the decision was split in favor of Bradley.

Making the decision even nuttier is Bradley twice said in the post-fight interview that he needed to watch the tape to see if he had won.

Oh yeah, and he already knew the rematch would be held on Nov. 10.

Why would a rematch date already be set before anybody knows who won a first fight between two boxers? If Pacquiao wins, there obviously isn’t any need for a rematch.

Also of concern is that promoter Bob Arum was quoted as saying the following shortly after the match ended:

“I’m going to make a lot of money on the rematch, but this was outrageous,” Arum said.

So the promoter is already boasting about the money he will make? You’d like to think the person in charge of overseeing an honest event would be more concerned about the travesty involved and the integrity of the sport.

But if integrity is lacking at the promoter level, you can see why the judges would be shady too.

As long as everybody can make money through a rematch, who cares that a man was wronged? Who cares about another black eye for the sport of boxing?

In fact, through 12 rounds of the actual fight, there was no reason for anyone to want to see these two guys in the ring a second time. Now it will be marketed as the opportunity for Pacquiao to regain the crown he lost via controversy.

What a fraud. What a scandal. What a corrupt sport.

The decision reminds us all why boxing is such a little-respected sport in this era. There certainly isn’t any reason to have any confidence in any of the people who run the sport.

The Nevada Athletic Commission has lost its final shred of credibility and there will be drastic repercussions on my part.

I simply will not watch the rematch under any conditions. Don’t care if it is easy to watch boxing for free online in this era (disclaimer: I may or may not have watched the Pacquiao-Bradley bout at no cost).

Another horrible boxing decision that comes to mind is the 1989 bout between Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard. The fight should have gone into a history as a classic but is instead best known for being a controversial draw.

Hearns knocked down the popular Leonard in both the third and 11th rounds and Leonard staged a magnificent 12th-round rally when everybody felt he needed a knockout to win.

He didn’t get the knockout but retained his title when the bout was stunningly ruled a draw. One judge said Hearns won, one said Leonard won and the other scored it evenly.

Another scandalous decision was when Lennox Lewis thoroughly whipped aging Evander Holyfield in 1999. Lewis landed about 2 1/2 times the number of punches and battered Holyfield’s face but the fight was ruled a draw.

That a paid boxing judge actually felt Holyfield won that fight defies all human logic.

So it’s not a surprise when there is a controversial ruling at the end of the boxing match. But the sport – term being used loosely here – loses what little shreds of credibility it has when millions of people at home pay to watch an event and the ruling announced doesn’t jive with what they witnessed during the course of the fight.

Pacquiao landed nearly twice as many power punches (190-108) as Bradley. He connected on 38.5 percent of his punches to Bradley’s 27.7 percent. He dominated the action throughout the fight.

As I stated previously, there was never one single time during the fight where I felt I was watching a possible huge upset.

Can you imagine watching the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Texas Rangers in Game 7 of the World Series and then seeing three judges decide a few minutes after the game ended that the Rangers actually won the contest?

I never like to use the word “fixed” to describe a sporting event with competitive athletes doing battle but it certainly applies when there are actually two judges who think Bradley defeated Pacquiao.

With Floyd Mayweather in jail and there appearing to be little or no chance of a big-money fight with Pacquiao, perhaps the Nevada Athletic Commission took it upon their own hands to ensure there would be a buzz-worthy fight later this year by coming up with this controversial decision.

Instead, they may have even topped the ruling in favor of Foreman as the worst boxing decision ever.

So perhaps it is time for me to make the best decision ever – I am placing boxing on restriction for the rest of the year.

I have no interest in watching Pacquiao and Bradley fight again – particularly with the new “champion” immediately saying he’ll be giving Pacquiao a rematch on Nov. 10.

If Pacquiao has any personal scruples, he’ll say no thanks to Bradley’s offer and he’ll tell Arum to go fly a kite (or words much naughtier).

But Pacquiao won’t do that because this ridiculous decision puts him in position to line his pockets with more money.

So these two guys can fight whenever they want. Arum can promote the heck out of the fight all he wants.

I won’t be tuning in. No chance.

This is a decision I should have made one night back in 1995.