Saturday, February 16, 2008


Yesterday, Thursday, was Valentine's Day, which is supposed to be the day of passion, at least according to the chocolate and greeting card merchants. Friday night is supposed to be a night of fights on American television, so perhaps all the passion was spent the previous day, as the main events on both Telefutura and ESPN2 hardly made anybody fall in love.

On Telefutura, Mike Alvarado won a decision over Jesus Rodriguez, while over on ESPN2's declining Friday Night Fights series, Delvin Rodriguez (presumably no relation to Jesus -- Rodriguez, that is) won a decision over 41-year-old Troy Browning. ESPN2's announcer Joe Tessitore called Delvin's performance "workmanlike," a term regurgitated on Fightnews. That’s p.r. speak for mundane, uneventful, and ordinary. Nobody would ever call the measured performances of the victors tonight passionate.

I kept the TV on ESPN2 after FNF finished, mainly because I was staying home for the evening (sorry, my darlin’ bartenders), and planned to watch some other shows later, including perhaps the Pavlik-Taylor 2 preview show and their first fight, which I had taped from HBO 1 and 2 while I was out hunting for salads. But Bowe-Holyfield 1, from 1992, came on next on ESPN2, so I kept watching.

This fight, of course, was Ring’s fight of the year, with the tenth round being named the round of the year. It pitted two then-undefeated heavyweights, both Americans and both former Olympians, against one another for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world.

Not only does stating the backgrounds and credentials of these heavyweight fighters sound so dated today, but the fight itself, although held just 15 years and two months ago, seems like it took place in a forgotten, distant era. Constant toe-to-toe action, jabs and body shots and uppercuts, with a few low blows and head butts thrown in, all made this a memorable affair.

Heavyweights? Americans? World champions? Passion, technique, and power? On what planet?

Saturday is Valuev-Liakhovich in Germany. There is a free, legal live stream of this fight, courtesy of the German network ARD, at: For us Yanks, it starts at 4:10 pm EST/1:10 PM PST. For everyone, don’t expect the passion to start at all.

Pavlik-Taylor 2 will likely have passion, as did their first encounter. But these Americans are middleweights, or, for this fight, middleweights plus four pounds. The creeping decline of American boxing has not yet hit all the weight classes, yet.

Next week is Klitschko-Ibragimov, two heavyweight titleholders from the former Soviet Union, and also two former Olympians. I expect a tactical battle where hopefully the expected lack of passion is compensated for, at least partially, by a steady, disciplined attack by one or both combatants.

If not, at least all these great old fights are pretty accessible. Then every day can be some sort of holiday, even if you can’t have chocolate and think greeting cards are part of a contrived commercial ritual.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Boxing Writing

One of the things we’ve all been bitching about for the last few years is the ghastly lack of depth in boxing writing. Boxing isn’t just two guys punching each other in the head. And it’s not, “Cotto is calling Mayweather out.” It’s a business, it’s a reflection of elements of culture, it’s a complex and often contradictory network, and it’s an elaborate, mostly unfair hierarchy. If all boxing writing is reduced to a bunch of macho hearts and flowers weeping and tough talk, it’s worthless.

You know, it’s about time for something worthwhile. “Cut Time” was published in 2003. I hate waiting five years between meaningful boxing books. “Owning Cassius Clay: The Commercial and Cultural Appeal of Muhammad Ali” by our own Mike Ezra is more of what we need. It constructs an elaborate timeline that ties together Ali’s boxing career, the various financial machinations that both propelled him forward and fucked him up, and the shifting culture that valorized, condemned, forgave, and ultimately deified him. What emerges from the book is the clearest literary picture we’ve ever been given of Ali. Viewing Ali largely through the prism of events that have surrounded him actually clears away a lot of mythological deadwood. Maybe not surprisingly, Ali comes out of things pretty well.

I like the bar set this high. In order to maintain it, we’ve got to write like adults.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Our Return

After a hiatus which had nothing to do with injury, incarceration, or suspension by any state athletic commission, we are back. We are resuming our commentary and discussion on boxing, and will be explaining a little about who will be doing what, including how everyone else can comment on our posts. So get ready, keep checking back, and prepare for something special.

Your humble editors,

Charles Farrell and Eddie Goldman

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