Saturday, December 23, 2006

Some Shitty Rhymes About A Not-So-Shitty Fighter

Suppose I were to try to convince you that a fighter was great.
You might first ask: "What was his record?" I'd reply 55-8.

You then might ask: "Well, who did he beat?"
I'd say that he brought Archie Moore, Eddie Machen, Ingemar Johansson, George Chuvalo, Oscar Bonavena, and Henry Cooper to defeat.

Now intrigued, you'd inquire: "What were his losses?"
I'd say that seven of the eight were to world champion bosses.

Not only that, I'd tell you this guy was a gamer.
Because five of those losses were to hall of famers.

And his only loss to a non-titleholder, to finish the story,
was to that tough motherfucker named Jerry Quarry.

Why he gets no respect, to me is a mystery.
He had the fastest hands in his division's history.

How can you not call a guy great
when he beat all of these guys
while fighting 25 pounds above his normal weight?

OK, enough bullshit rhymes.


For a long time, I thought Floyd Patterson sucked. I read about
how he struggled with weak opposition. I read about how he
got knocked down by jerkoffs like Pete Radamacher. I read about
how he ducked Cleveland Williams and Zora Folley during his title reign.

It was easy to tell me that Floyd Patterson was, as was called
in his day, "a cheese champ."

Hold the gorgonzola, my friends, because I no longer subscribe
to that perspective.

You look at Floyd Patterson's eight losses, and what do you see?

1) Four losses to two of the greatest heavyweights ever:
Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali.
2) Bullshit decision losses to Joey Maxim and Jimmy Ellis.
3) A questionable decision loss to Jerry Quarry.
4) A lucky, one-punch (essentially) KO loss to Ingemar Johansson, twice avenged.

The problem with Patterson's historical legacy is that people pay
far more attention to his losses than his wins, perhaps with good
reason, since some of his losses were in some of the most highly-
anticipated fights of the era.

But if more people were to see some of Patterson's phenomenal
wins, particularly against Chuvalo and Cooper, I think they would
give Patterson more respect.

He was the second fastest heavyweight champion ever, competed
with much larger men, way above his natural fighting weight, and
came out on top against some great fighters.

With the exception of his losses to Ali and Liston, he held his own
against almost everyone the division had to offer, during the division's
greatest era.

It's enough to convince me that he is worthy of praise, not derision.

The more I watch Floyd Patterson, the more I respect him as a fighter.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The American Boy

I’m often irritated by much of what I see or hear on HBO’s boxing programs. But last night my level of displeasure went way beyond simple annoyance. They pulled something so fucked up that I actually got angry.

In the co-feature to Edison Miranda’s unveiling, HBO introduced a nice looking American white-boy named Jason Litzau—known as “The American Boy.” Litzau has a back story that HBO and others have already been quick to jump on. Apparently, throughout Jason’s adolescence, his father took him on sprees of petty thievery. Litzau’s turning to boxing is being pitched as a transformative event. You can imagine the storyline—angry young man finds himself through boxing, learns to curb his antisocial behavior, but he still has a tremendous rage that he unleashes on his opponents.

Twenty seconds into the first round, it was clear that Jason Litzau couldn’t fight even a little bit, and that his opponent Jose Hernandez had been furnished because he could fight even less; he was glacially slow, had a weak chin, and skin that would break apart at the first sign of trouble.

It didn’t matter. Litzau fought with his chin perched so high in the air that it would have been impossible to miss. Not surprisingly, it turned out to be a weak chin. So he got knocked out with one punch.

Anybody who knew anything about boxing could see that this kid was a stiff. Yet here he was, perched to enter the Big Time.

Max Kellerman spent the entire fight shamelessly shilling for this hopeless imitation of a fighter. Lennox Lewis seemed vaguely nonplussed, but held the party line. Jim Lampley can’t tell a good fighter from a bad one, so he chimed in occasionally to second whatever nonsense either Kellerman or Lewis had offered.

It drives me crazy that, in a division teeming with killers, HBO chose to promote this sad imposter. If he’d been black, Hispanic, non-American, ugly, or with no easily spun yarn attached, they’d have never given him a glance. And predicated on boxing ability, he wouldn’t have deserved one.

Jason Litzau didn't deserve on either. No one should ever have had to watch Jason Litzau on HBO. Or on any other televised boxing, for that matter.

I’m glad the motherfucker got knocked out. But it bothers me that HBO isn’t called to task for promoting (and pandering to) this kind of ham-handed racism.