Category Archives: Boxing

Matt Remillard’s Bat Fight

Professional boxer Matt Remillard is a quality gatekeeper in the featherweight division. Earlier this year, Remillard (23-1, 13 KOs) was knocked out by blue chip prospect Mikey Garcia. According to the AP, now this is happening:

HARTFORD, Conn. — Pro boxer Matt Remillard is facing a five-year prison sentence after pleading no contest to beating a man with a baseball bat in Connecticut last year.

The 25-year-old featherweight from Manchester entered the plea to first-degree assault Tuesday in Hartford Superior Court. He is set to be sentenced Nov. 29.

State police say Remillard pummeled Jordan Evans with a baseball bat in July 2010 in Marlborough in a fight over a woman both men had dated. Three other people were arrested.

The Hartford Courant reports that Evans suffered a fractured skull, eye socket and hand.

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Pacquiao Does Not Use Steroids: An Argument from Logic

If you ask people who accuse Manny Pacquiao of using steroids, or some other performance-enhancing agent, to explain their why it is that they think so, you’ll notice a couple of commonalities in the content of the responses.

(1) No one can cite any actual evidence of his using steroids — no seedy connections, no failed tests, etc.

(2) They will tend to make general insights like: “Just look at his body,” or “He started at 106 pounds; there’s no way he could maintain speed and power at such a high weight [some specifically will mention the newly-minted 154 “title”]” or “Teddy Atlas said so,” and so on.

First of all, regarding (1), there is absolutely nothing connecting Pacquiao to performance-enhancing drugs. In fact, until the Mayweathers first made the baseless accusation, no one had any reason to think Pacquiao was using steroids. Indeed, no one did think he was using the juice before then. Next thing you know, Paulie Malignaggi is on board, saying he doesn’t respect Pacquiao and that something was “fishy” about the Cotto fight. Then, Teddy Atlas dropped the infamous anonymous email bombshell on an episode of Friday Night Fights during the negotiations with Mayweather. Of course, no one has since come forward with anymore information about these emails.

Atlas since has implicitly hinted that anyone with an “intellect” ought to be suspicious about Pacquiao due to his “balking at taking a blood test.” He continues to say this, as recently as after Pacquiao’s win over Antonio Margarito, despite the fact that Pacquiao and his team have agreed to testing on Mayweather’s terms. What Atlas and others using this line of thinking ignore is the possibility (even probability) that Team Pacquiao was not going to let Mayweather push them around in negotiations, getting whatever he wants as he is accustomed to doing. As the fight has come to more precarious ground, Pacquiao is gradually giving in to Mayweather’s demands and is now just trying to make the fight.

On to the empirical evidence, which most people cite most often, most vociferously, and find most convincing. It is the basis for the accusations by the Mayweathers, Atlas, Malignaggi, and the rest. Here’s the argument, roughly: Pacquiao started at 106 pounds, has been moving up in weight, fighting and beating better and better opponents, and hasn’t seemed to lose any power or speed. Something isn’t right about that. (Malignaggi also points out that he seems equally as capable of taking punches from the bigger guys. This is spurious for two reasons: [1] steroids don’t help your chin, Fernando Vargas proved that, and [2] Pacquiao has been more affected by punches of the bigger guys, admittedly so.)

Pacquiao, malnourished, 106 pounds at 16 -- Gerhard Joren/OnAsia

This “evidence” does not hold up to scrutiny, not even the least bit. Let’s take it apart, piece by piece.

Manny Pacquiao did start his career in January 1995 at 106 pounds, yes. But he was a malnourished boy, one month removed from his 16th birthday. When Floyd Mayweather Jr. was 16, in 1993, he won a National Golden Gloves championship. His weight-class: 106 pounds. Does anyone find it curious that Mayweather has been able to win world titles all the way up to 154 pounds? Pacquiao was barely eating and living in the streets since the age of 14. If Pacquiao had been a normal, healthy American amateur, he likely would have been bigger than Mayweather Jr. at that point in his career.

Secondly, Pacquaio was never anything close to a natural flyweight, where he was first crowned champion. After killing himself to make the weight cost him his title, he jumped up 10 pounds to 122. He settled there for three years, fought three or four fights at 126 (including his destruction of Marco Antonio Barrera), then settled in for the bulk of his peak years at 130 pounds. His starting weight probably should have been 122 pounds (super bantamweight), but even that didn’t work for long, as he basically skipped through featherweight to get to 130. Compare this to Mayweather Jr., who was 125 pounds at the 1996 Olympic Games, then spent the first five years of his career at 130. Huge difference, I think not.

Third, his move up in weight has not been as dramatic as some think. Pacquiao decided late in camp for the Margarito fight to stop pumping protein shakes into his stomach every few hours, and accordingly, weighed only 144 pounds for a “junior middleweight” title fight. He could make 140 without really trying. Is there any doubt that could still make 135 pounds if he wanted? On the other hand, it is unimaginable to think Mayweather Jr. could make 135 pounds. He can’t even make 145. Pacquiao is still the smaller man, and in reality, is a blown-up lightweight.

A related point, his body shape, including head size, has not changed in any significant way. With his large legs, broad shoulders, and robust chest and midsection, Pacquiao was better capable to grow into higher weight classes than Barrera, Marquez, or Morales, for example. Take a look at these pictures: against Jorge Solis, 130 pounds; David Diaz, 135; Hatton, 140; Clottey, “147;” and Margarito, “154.” You’ll notice that he’s filled his naturally pretty-big frame, but his body doesn’t look transformed as some claim. (Again, for the sake of comparison, here is Mayweather at the Jesus Chavez weigh-in, 130 pounds and against Mosley at 147. Bottom line: the body grows.)

Lastly, and most importantly for the accusers, the issue of his speed and power is poorly understood. To reiterate the above points, given that his weight increase has not been as dramatic as it seems, his retention of speed shouldn’t be surprising, especially when coupled with the fact that he and his trainers have focused specifically on preserving his speed. With regard to his power, it should be remembered that as Pacquiao has moved up in weight his technique and accuracy have improved — this change, in contrast to his body size, has been dramatic. Power in boxing comes from timing, speed, and technique. Pacquiao has learned to throw punches at the right times (e.g. catching guys coming in, off-balance) and has developed a knack for staying balanced no matter from where he throws a punch. Additionally, with the exception of the Hatton fight, Pacquiao isn’t obliterating guys within four rounds, with single punches, the way he occasionally did at lower weights. He’s doing it with unrelenting activity, overwhelming punch output, chopping foes up. When a guy with fast hands, good natural power, a strong and balanced base, great punching technique, sound timing, and the ability to throw punches by the dozen enters the ring, you’re looking at a frightening offensive fighting machine.

Once one wades through the rhetoric and just looks at the facts, especially that he started his pro career at 16 weighing the same as Mayweather Jr. did at 16, it’s obvious that the case for Pacquiao’s alleged steroid-use falls apart. Unfortunately, the (very) little work it takes to figure all this out just won’t be done by people like the Mayweathers, Malignaggi, or most damaging, Atlas, who could really do a lot to bring sanity to this debate. Sanity, however, is and will remain in short supply in this “debate.”

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The Angulo-Margarito Paradox

Alfredo Angulo

Alfredo Angulo

It seems that emerging junior middleweight star Alfredo Angulo (19-1, 16 KOs) is facing deportation to Mexico. It’s been suspected in boxing circles for some time that he’s had legal issues regarding his immigration status, but BoxingScene.com released a report this morning that verifies this hunch.

First off, the article, quite sensationally entitled “Alfredo Angulo’s U.S. Career Crumbles, HBO Walks,” is written by Michael Marley. Anyone familiar with Mr. Marley’s work will immediately recognize his penchant for histrionics. His assertion that he will never again fight in the U.S., or on a major television outlet, is questionable, if not laughable. Angulo and his team are going to seek a visa for re-entry after the legal issues are settled (and, to the best of my knowledge, are allowed to do so), and are otherwise cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). And anyway, if Antonio Margarito can get back on television — in a headline, PPV fight, no less — then I would suspect Angulo will be able to do the same.

If HBO indeed refuses to work with Angulo, their rationale can be considered little better than a joke. The political climate around undocumented immigration is too polarized and “heated,” but it’s not too much to invite back a man who at least once, likely more often, entered the ring wearing loaded wraps? At least in terms of boxing legality, one of these offenses far outweighs the other. Since when did America’s political throes effect the viewing tendencies of boxing fans? If the experience of Mike Tyson is any indication, the boxing public will gladly welcome Angulo back into the limelight — if not on HBO, then certainly on Showtime or ESPN.

What’s more worrisome is Bob Arum’s reaction. His incredibly hostile reaction to the news, as reported in Marley’s article, indicates another ludicrous element of this story vis-a-vis Margarito. Arum is willing to stand behind a known cheater of the most nefarious ilk, but believes no one will touch an “illegal” immigrant. Granted, it’s apples and oranges — Top Rank doesn’t promote Angulo. This may still go south (no pun intended) promotionally for Angulo, given that Gary Shaw is already unhappy with him for his refusal to accept a $750,000 deal to fight middleweight champ Sergio Martinez. If it’s true that Shaw was left in the dark as to Angulo’s movements, and if the legal battle turns out to be unexpectedly difficult, this episode may provide an opportunity to dump him from his promotional lineup. I would bet against such a development.

I’m not naive. I know promoters lie and cheat and are hypocritical, but Arum’s unfailing commitment to a universally reprehensible character like Margarito and his conversely expressed concern for public sentiment in the case of a universally appreciated all-action fighter like Angulo is still unsettling, if not all-together sickening. Let’s hope Shaw doesn’t see things that way.

Considering the legal tussle Top Rank is now in with Golden Boy Promotions, maybe other promoters (such as Shaw) are wary about partaking in any protracted legal proceedings, and more so, about further undermining boxing’s suffering credibility. But regardless of Marley’s strong assertions, “El Perro” will be back, with or without HBO.

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The Most Resurgent Old Man

Mosley Destroys Margarito

1/24/09: Shane Mosley TKO9 Antonio Margarito

Watching Shane Mosley, 37, tear down the formidable (and formerly indestructible) façade of Antonio Margarito brought the greatest joy to me, as it should have for all boxing fans who weren’t invested, monetarily or otherwise, in a Margarito win. With each Mosley overhand right, another brick was knocked loose until, in the ninth round, the wall collapsed.

And what a sweet collapse it was. Even more so than Bernard Hopkins’ upset of Kelly Pavlik, Mosley’s triumph was a shock. Like Hopkins, Mosley was older and coming off a relatively unsavory performance. Unlike Hopkins, Mosley was the smaller man and much of the discussion focused on the round in which “Sugar” might fall. Just like Hopkins, Mosley annihilated the younger, favored champion.

But most significantly, Mosley’s win differs from Hopkins’ in that it has utterly changed the landscape of boxing. Or at least the welterweight division.

There was no chance in hell that Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao (i.e. the two most important active pugilists) was going to challenge Margarito for the title. But Mosley’s win pulls them back into the fray, competing for a legitimate championship within a division again instead of operating in the De La Hoya megafight-to-megafight paradigm.

Being tossed around now is a sort of four man tournament. The Ricky Hatton-Pacquiao showdown is set for May 2 (after some hassle). The other half of the equation would be a fight between Mosley and Mayweather, which may be more a fancy of boxing logic than a genuine possibility. For now, as is often the case regarding the “Pretty” one, such talk consists only of hopeful speculation.

Regardless of what the ever-reluctant Mayweather decides, Mosley’s right hands burst open and already wide-open welterweight division that has more parity than Big East basketball. Just look at the recent action:

Paul Williams beats Margarito. Carlos Quintana, who was knocked out by Miguel Cotto, beats Williams, who knocks out Quintana in the rematch. Cotto beats Mosley, who twice beat De La Hoya, who gave Mayweather a life-and-death struggle. Margarito takes apart Cotto with surprising ease. Mosley struggled before knocking out Ricardo Mayorga, who was obliterated by De La Hoya, who himself was embarrassed by Pacquiao. Mosley then comes back to knock out Margarito, who has a rematch with Cotto, which could coincide with the initiation of the aforementioned four-man tournament.

I haven’t even mentioned Andre Berto or Joshua Clottey, who likely would’ve beaten Margarito if not for injuring his hands early in their December 2006 match up. Berto, Clottey and Williams are the odd-men-out, the wild cards in a wild division. These are glory days, and we have old man Mosley to thank for not allowing the division to rest.

Meanwhile, Pavlik has moved back to middleweight where he is still the boss, and Hopkins has no logical opponent at 175.

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