by David P. Greisman
Yes, this was a weekend with more controversial decisions.
Yes, this was a weekend with more fighters getting highly questionable opportunities to earn title shots.
Yes, Ray Austin was somehow back on HBO.
All of that is ridiculous. But in a week like last, that ridiculousness somehow seems run-of-the-mill.
Those stories played out under the spotlight of national broadcasts. They have been dissected and debated in the days since.
Those stories deserve attention. But we shouldn’t allow the larger controversies to distract us so that the lesser stories escape scrutiny.
Let us ridicule the latest ridiculousness, then, starting with James Toney’s latest fight, shifting into Beibut Shumenov’s latest opponent, and then finishing off with an athletic commission’s latest aggravation.
James Toney to Face Another 47-Year-Old UFC Legend…
…except this time, the legend is the shell that was once Ken Shamrock, whose past decade in mixed martial arts has been on the absolute opposite end of the spectrum from the final run put forth by Randy Couture.
And the fight won’t be an MMA bout under the UFC umbrella, but rather, according to various reports, it will be a “mixed rules” bout that promises to be a freak show of a promotion.
It’s sad, like watching an episode of “Intervention” in which nobody actually gets any help for his or her addictions.
Toney will have turned 43 in the weeks before the October fight. Aside from an ugly split decision win over Fres Oquendo in 2008, you’d have to go all the way back to a 2005 fight with Dominick Guinn to find a Toney victory of consequence. He sporadically jaws that he deserves a title shot but hasn’t shown himself to be a viable contender anymore.
He’s a pure fighter at heart, and in his prime he was a great one. His ill-fated challenge of Couture last year was merely motivated by hubris and curiosity. Facing Shamrock, however, won’t prove anything except for how many suckers are out there willing to pay for such a thing.
Shamrock, in the past decade, has won four fights and lost nine. He’s gone from losing to notable UFC names such as Rich Franklin and Tito Ortiz to getting knocked out by a guy named Mike Bourke who was 9-16-1 going into that bout.
Toney has gone from fighting an old mixed martial artist whose ring age (cage age?) is younger than his actual age to fighting an old mixed martial artist whose ring age is much, much older than his actual age. And Shamrock might just be foolish and faded enough to try to stand and trade with Toney.
The fight is supposed to take place in El Paso, Texas. Perhaps the only way that athletic commission might end up approving either of these guys to fight is because they are fighting each other…
175-Pound Beltholder’s Opponents Not Even the Best of the Worst
So, if you’re Beibut Shumenov, and you have a world title, these are the two defenses you make in the first seven months of 2011: William Joppy (in January) and Danny Santiago (this July)
We’re long used to mis-mandatories and hopeless opponents and questionable rankings. Still, Shumenov is in a division with Bernard Hopkins, Chad Dawson, Jean Pascal, Tavoris Cloud and Zsolt Erdei. And yet his opponents so far this year have consisted of what road-kill he could scrape off the street and get in the ring.
Consider this: William Joppy was 40 and hadn’t won a fight since 2007, never mind not beating a notable opponent since, oh, 2001 at middleweight against Howard Eastman. He was coming off a majority draw in November 2010 with a 17-4 super middleweight named Cory Cummings.
That draw against that opponent somehow allowed Joppy to enter the WBA’s light heavyweight rankings at No. 13 the very next month.
This would prove to be a good thing, as Shumenov only faced Joppy because he needed a last-minute replacement. After all, Shumenov was supposed to have a unification bout with Juergen Braehmer, but Braehmer pulled out just days before the fight.
Still, if your first fight of 2011 was against a William Joppy, wouldn’t you want your second fight to be against someone more notable than a Danny Santiago?
Santiago is 38 and hasn’t fought since May 2010 (beating a 10-6 guy named Billy Bailey). Before that, he hadn’t fought since May 2009 (beating a 10-1 guy named Paul Jennette). Before that, he’d lost to Antonio Tarver and Zsolt Erdei in 2007 and hadn’t beaten a notable opponent since Elvir Muriqi in 2004.
Nevertheless, the WBA somehow found fit to install Santiago at No. 15 in its rankings in March. No idea why.
Shumenov was a fast-rising prospect when, in his sixth and eighth fights, he defeated Montell Griffin and Byron Mitchell. His opponents for his 12th and 13th pro fights might even be steps backward.
Boxing Commission Ponders Regulating Speech
British newspaper The Telegraph reported last week that the British Boxing Board of Control was looking into disciplining David Haye because of something he wrote on Twitter.
Haye made a misogynist joke on Twitter. What’s that old axiom about how you can’t regulate bad taste? Apparently you can.
Here’s Haye’s joke: “Wife walk into bedroom & says to husband, ‘Shall I slip into something that will make you smile?’ Hubby replies, ‘Yes. A coma u [c-word]!’ ”
Robert Smith, the board’s secretary, told reporter Gareth Davies that the tweet “is a crazy thing to be putting up. Distasteful and unnecessary.”
Oh, come on.
What’s with the high horse regarding whether a boxer says something offensive? You work for an organization that governs a sport in which one man can pummel another man to a pulp.
It’s a good thing Ricardo Mayorga isn’t British…
The 10 Count
1. R.I.P. Nick Charles, 1946-2011. May we all strive for the character you showed throughout your life and for the courage you displayed during your final years.
2. BoxingScene.com, June 21: “Arum: Pavlik To Fight in The Summer, Then Likely Bute.”
There are only three possibilities here:
(1) Top Rank officials think Kelly Pavlik can actually beat Lucian Bute, and they are crazy.
(2) Top Rank doesn’t think Kelly Pavlik can actually beat Lucian Bute and is cashing out on him.
(3) I’m wrong and Kelly Pavlik actually still has the ability to contend with some very, very good fighters at super middleweight.
In a way, I hope I’m wrong, if only because I don’t want to see Pavlik take a beating against Bute…
3. I never would’ve expected it, but apparently Manny Pacquiao’s duet with Dan Hill of Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch” is catching on – and not just in the Philippines.
And this isn’t David Hasselhoff being a rock star in Germany. This is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the sport growing an audience – albeit a limited one compared to the stars of other music genres – in the United States.
The song keeps on rising on longtime industry publication Friday Morning Quarterback’s adult contemporary chart. It’s now at No. 25, nestled between Bon Jovi and Stone Sour.
As someone whose previous career was managing music stores, I must admit to being wrong about the Pacquiao-Hill duet. I thought it’d be a novelty that would only sell in Pacquiao’s country and to those with both Filipino heritage and a Pacquiao obsession.
Staying power, though? And wider acceptance? I never expected that.
Hill’s radio promotion guy, Tom Mazzetta, gave his thoughts as to why the song continues to rise:
“I believe there are several legitimate reasons,” Mazzetta told this scribe via email. “One, This was a HUGE Hit for Dan Hill and one that decades later still gets a considerable amount of airplay. Consequently, there is a familiarity factor that radio loves.
“Two, I think, and radio seems to agree, that this is a tremendous rendition of ‘Sometimes When We Touch’ that sounds terrific on the radio. Last but certainly not least, there is undeniably a ‘novelty’ factor at play here. Manny Pacquiao, I mean come on!! I want to know what this guy CANNOT do!!!!”
4. So, what does Dan Hill think about his song getting attention more than 30 years after he wrote it largely because of the fact Manny Pacquiao is singing it with him?
“I’m thrilled, honored that Manny, who’s a truly heroic figure, would embrace this song,” Hill told this scribe via email. “And [that he’d] allow me to help him with his vocals on this rather challenging song – from a singer’s point of view, [with] big vocal range and tricky phrasing [and] the ability to sing with passion without over-emoting – and, best of all, invite me to sing part of the song with him.
“Our vocal blend – something that is either there or not – is wonderful, as though we’re long lost brothers from different generations and cultures, yet connected through the magical thread of music.”
5. This was actually a really good monologue from Teddy Atlas on last week’s episode of “Friday Night Fights” about the repercussions of losing a controversial decision:
“Unlike a bad decision in other arenas where you can come back a week later [and] you can make up for it, in boxing you get pushed back the line, you get pushed back where maybe you have to fight another four fights, another three fights, to get back to that position.
“But you know what that means. It’s not another three fights [or] it’s another four fights – what it is, is another 200 punches. It’s another 500 punches. It’s another thousand punches that a fighter has to go through now because the judges got it wrong to get back to the same place they already were at. And that is damaging.”
It was a really good monologue that should’ve concluded there. I disagreed with Atlas’ final line:
“And that is something that judges sometimes should understand and think about before they just put their pencil to the paper.”
No, no, no. A judge shouldn’t think about anything other than what happened during those three minutes of a round and how the four scoring criteria apply to the action.
6. “Again,” a compilation of Teddy Atlas quotes from last week’s episode of “Friday Night Fights”:
From Mike Dallas Jr vs. Mauricio Herrera…
“But again (1), Herrera can go get ya, and Dallas really can’t do that. … And again (2), both those judges did see the right hand, but both those judges didn’t have a good view to see something on the left side. … Again (3) the outside has to belong to the longer-armed, quicker-handed Dallas. …
“Joe, you would really think, again (4), short rounds, my experience, would help a guy like Dallas. … Again (5), you’re seeing the fast hands, we know that, you don’t need me to tell you that, and decent skills from Dallas. … And again (6), Herrera has been here two times. …. Again (7), I think Dallas is inside more than he should be, but again (8), I think this is more than just a regular fight for Dallas.”
From John Molina Jr. vs Robert Frankel…
“And again (9), I think he has a pretty good fight plan: don’t stand right in front of the better punching Molina, move a little bit, try to keep him from getting set, attack in waves. … Again (10), he’s moving and keeping Molina off balance. …. Again (11), he knows Molina has the power, that power in his right hand. …
“Again (12), Molina’s the kind of fighter in this fight where he can fall behind and he can pull it out of the fire with one big right hand. … Again (13), Molina doing nothing to keep him on the outside, but again (14), Frankel, no amateur fights, but fighting a guy who did not have a tremendous amateur background. … And again (15), a lot of pressure on Frankel, we said this early, he’s got to fight a really close to perfect fight.
“Molina can make mistakes, again (16), because of the power in that right hand. … Again (17), he doesn’t have the firepower, and Molina does. … And again (18), I think there’s a lot of fans out there that will connect with me a little bit about the Chavez-Meldrick Taylor.”
From Vahe Saruhanyan vs. Oscar Santana…
“Again (19), he knows he has a tall guy there, so instead of just chasing him, every once in a while he steps out and makes Santana give up his physical assets of height and length. … Again (20), he’s benefited by those 135 amateur fights that have made him very calm in the ring. … Again (21), he has very good radar, Saruhanyan, he sees everything coming.”
From a recap of the night’s action…
“Again (22), Molina, you figured he was going to be the stronger guy, the better puncher in close.”
And that’s not even including all the times Atlas repeated an earlier point without using that saying “again,” well… again.
7. Boxers Behaving Badly update: Prosecutors in Florida’s Miami-Dade County have decided to take no action in a misdemeanor battery case against top featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa, according to online court records.
Gamboa had been arrested in May and accused of trying to physically keep his wife from leaving their home during an argument in which she’d accused him of cheating on her, NBC Miami reported at the time. The 29-year-old had been accused of grabbing her arm and the back of her neck, causing scratches and redness on her in the process, police said.
Gamboa is 20-0 with 16 knockouts. His last appearance was a March technical knockout of Jorge Solis.
8. Boxers Behaving Badly: Undefeated female fighter Kathryn “Katy” Klinefelter has been charged with assault causing bodily injury after allegedly punching a man in the face during what was described as a “political argument” at an Iowa bar between Klinefelter, her fiancé and the victim, according to Iowa City Patch.
Can you imagine if all political disagreements were settled this way?
Klinefelter, 23, is 7-0 with 4 knockouts.
9. How times have changed:
May 6, 2005: Sechew Powell and Cornelius Bundrage go down at the same time in the opening seconds of their bout. They rise. Powell lands a shot and Bundrage falls to the canvas three times form that single punch. The fight ends just 22 seconds after it began, with Powell the winner by technical knockout.
June 25, 2011: Bundrage, now 38 years old and a 154-pound beltholder, defeats the 32-year-old Powell by 12-round unanimous decision. According to reports, there were zero knockdowns in 36 minutes of action.
10. In recent months we’ve killed Osama bin Laden and caught Whitey Bulger but still not gotten any closer to Pacquiao-Mayweather…
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His weekly column, “Fighting Words,” appears every Monday on BoxingScene.com.
Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to [email protected]