Fight Preview: Pacquiao vs Bradley

June 9, 2012 in Boxing, Sport

Wow, is it the weekend of June 9 already? Pound-for-pound king (or the no. 2 behind Floyd Mayweather Jr, depending on your perspective) Manny Pacquiao is about to face off against undefeated but relatively unknown junior welter champion Timothy Bradley, who is coming up to 147 for the biggest challenge and payday of his career.

This is a weird fight. Bradley is virtually unknown but a lot of people are predicting an upset, including ESPN’s Dan Rafael. Many believe a boxer is only as good as his last fight, and Pacquaio has looked frighteningly human in this last couple of bouts. About a year ago, Pacquiao dominated an over-the-hill Shane Mosley but couldn’t chase him down to knock him out. It was a horrible fight. Then at the end of 2011, he eked out a majority draw in his third encounter with Juan Manuel Marquez, and probably more than half felt Pacquiao not only lost but he lost convincingly.

And there’s been a lot of weird news popping up before this fight. First of all, Pacquiao has apparently had this “calf problem” for a very long time now (read here), even though we didn’t hear about it until after his bouts with Mosley and Marquez. Excuse, perhaps? Secondly, Pacquiao’s long-time conditioning coach, Alex Ariza (the guy credited with  his amazing rise through the weight classes), made himself look like a complete douche by causing a major rift through the Pacquiao camp. He apparently left the Pacquiao camp during training to assist a fighter in another country after obtaining Pacquiao’s consent, but he “forgot” to tell Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach or his other client, Amir Khan. Khan has since fired Ariza and Roach apparently said Ariza will not be in Manny’s corner on fight night. Thirdly, Pacquiao caused a mini storm when he was accused of making homophobic remarks during an interview, but as it turned out, he was misleadingly misquoted.

Lastly, and most bizarrely, Pacquiao has apparently re-devoted himself to Catholicism. Hang on, wasn’t he a devout Catholic before? Well, if the articles are to be believed, not really. He was never really that dedicated to his training either, so they say. According to the new stories, Pacquiao was a gambling, drinking, smoking, womanising dick that spent a lot of late nights out during training and frequently came in tired. He was also on the verge of a divorce because his wife Jinkee was sick of his philandering. Now, he has sold all of his bars and nightclubs and has re-dedicated himself to God, and no longer goes out at night. Instead, he studies the Bible whenever he can. This means a happy Pacquiao, a happy Jinkee and a fitter, healthier Manny.

What I find strange is how none of this stuff ever came out earlier. Was there a gag team working overtime to avoid negative press for Pacquiao, or did journalists stop themselves from articles that made Manny appear in a bad light? For years, at least internationally, Pacquiao has had the image of a clean cut saint, but as it turned out, he’s a bit of a hypocrite. Not that it was a surprise. And not that it has anything to do with his ability as a boxer and the other positive things he has done for his country and people. I just find it bewildering that this stuff is coming out now — after Pacquiao has rectified the problem, so to speak.

Bradley, on the other hand, has been called a ‘live underdog.’ He’s young (28 to Pacquiao’s 33), fast (some say just as fast as Pacquiao), super fit, ambitious, hard working and motivated — after all, this is by far the biggest fight of his career, and a magnificent chance to put his name on the world map. A lot of people say he’s never fought anyone on Pacquiao’s level, but his resume is not all that bad. He beat Junior Witter when Witter was still good. He virtually shut out previously unbeaten Lamont Peterson, who went on to beat Amir Khan, a guy who gives Pacquiao fits in sparring. He also handed Devon Alexander his first and only loss. Come to think of it, he’s arguably the first in-prime opponent Pacquiao has faced in a very long time. Could he potentially ‘expose’ Pacquiao as an overrated fighter who looked good because of carefully selected match ups?

That’s why this is such a weird fight. We are supposed to be believe that Pacquiao’s life was in disarray before and that everything is rosy now. But how much of that is marketing and how of it is genuine? And is Bradley a sheltered pretender or the real deal?

Oh, and the weigh-in, which took place earlier today. Bradley, who is coming up from 140, weighed-in at 146 and looked absolutely shredded, whereas Pacquiao came in at the welterweight limit of 147 and to be honest didn’t look as ripped as he did at his peak. This is the heaviest Pacqiuao has ever fought at; remember, when he fought Margarito at a catch weight of 150, he came in at 144. Is this yet another sign that Pacquiao might not be 100% or could be taking Bradley lightly?

The weigh in

I think anything is possible in this fight. Bradley is regarded as a feather-fisted boxer (only 12 KOs from 28 wins and a no contest) so it is unlikely that he can knock Pacquiao out. But a clinical decision in Bradley’s favour is certainly not out of the question. Pacquiao, who is fighting the 6oth bout of his career (54-3-2, with 38KOs), also has the ability to make quick work of Bradley. He is the favourite but only a 3-1 favourite (he was a 6-1 favourite against Mexican great Marquez, and look how that turned out).

Stranger things have happened in boxing, and for some reason I feel uneasy about this fight for Pacquiao. However, after going out on a limb last time and predicting that Miguel Cotto would beat Floyd Mayweather Jr, I’m going to bet on the favourite this time. While it would not blow my mind to see an upset, I think Pacquiao could surprise everyone by putting in a dominant performance against Bradley. I’ve seen some clips of Bradley and he seems a little wild and his defense is suspect (funnily that’s what everyone has said about Pacquiao throughout his career). I think it’s likely Pacquiao will overwhelm him with precision flurries and knock him out by the 10th round.

Fight Preview: Mayweather vs Cotto

May 5, 2012 in Boxing, Sport

Love him or loathe him, you have to respect Floyd Mayweather’s boxing skills and ability to make tens of millions of dollars every fight. Apparently for his upcoming fight (May 5 in Las Vegas) against Miguel Cotto at the junior middleweight/super welterweight limit 154 pounds, Mayweather is being guaranteed a record US$32 million, which will probably swell up to US$50 million or more because he gets a chunk of the PPV profits.

I have to say, the numbers have surprised me. I felt like Floyd’s star was fading a bit because he’s going to jail after this fight (for beating and threatening the mother of his children) and because the megafight with Manny Pacquiao fell through again for the gazillionth time. Miguel Cotto, while still a dangerous fighter, just didn’t seem like an opponent that would generate this kind of buzz. After all, few would argue that he isn’t quite the same fighter after having suffered brutal beatdowns at the hands of Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao.

However, Cotto avenged his questionable loss to Mr Plaster Hands and has allegedly put those confidence issues of the past behind him. Plus he is fighting at a comfortable 154 pounds, where he has fought his last three fights, whereas Mayweather is coming up to this weight for just the second time in his career (the other being a “split” win against Oscar de la Hoya that was really a unanimous victory). Does Cotto (37-2, 30KOs) have what it takes to hand Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs) his first loss?

Cotto’s advantages

Let’s be honest. On paper, at least, Cotto doesn’t look like he stands much of a chance against the defensive maestro Mayweather. But unlike Mayweather’s last fight against the untested Victor Ortiz, I think Cotto stands slightly more than a puncher’s chance.

First of all, as mentioned above, 154 is a better weight for Cotto than it is for Mayweather. This was proven when Cotto weighed in at the limit while Mayweather came in 3 pounds light at 151. Even though he won, the last time Mayweather fought at 154 he wasn’t as impressive as he had been at 147, which makes one wonder whether the added weight will make a difference.

Secondly, Cotto is four years younger than Mayweather at 31 years of age. Granted, Cotto has a lot more mileage on his boxing pedometer than the rarely marked Floyd, but as they say, age can catch ip to boxers in a hurry. I doubt it will happen to Mayweather in this fight, but if he loses, I’m sure it will be one of the first excuses brought up.

Thirdly, Cotto has the tools, as least theoretically, to bother Mayweather. No one has been able to execute the plan, by the way, but the supposed blueprint to beat Mayweather involves a nice, stiff jab and a lot of powerful body shots. Cotto has both of those things and the mental discipline to carry out the game plan. And he should be stronger than Mayweather at this weight. I wouldn’t say he is a devastating puncher but he definitely has the requisite power to hurt the Pretty Boy.

Fourthly, Mayweather could be distracted by his upcoming jail sentence. He hasn’t shown it so far, but it’s hard to believe that it isn’t lingering in the back of his mind. Interestingly, some commentators have pointed out that Mayweather relentlessly taunted the late Diego Corrales before their bout because Corrales was heading to prison for domestic violence against his pregnant girlfriend. Oops.

Lastly, Cotto said he has renewed his passion for boxing after his revenge victory against Margarito last year. I don’t know if he’s just saying this to mess with Mayweather (remember, Cotto was named as one of the guys that Floyd was “ducking” years ago), but if that’s true then we might see the Cotto of old that was considered one of the most dangerous fighters on the planet.

Mayweather’s advantages

Okay, Mayweather pretty much has an advantage in everything else. Mayweather is taller (5’8″ to 5’7″), has a significantly longer reach (72″ to 67″), has taken much less damage over the years, has better defense, is quicker, more durable and more skilled in just about every way. And to top things off, they are fighting in his hometown of Las Vegas. It’s hardly even fair.

Prediction

Common sense dictates that Mayweather should dominate. So many of his opponents have said the same thing: the dude is simply in a different class. You might not be able to see it on the screen but when you face him you find out the hard way.

But there’s something about this fight that just feels a little different to me. I’m no clairvoyant but when every expert predicts that a fight will turn out a certain way (in this case, Cotto being competitive early on but Mayweather turns it up and peppers him into a beehive for a late stoppage or unanimous decision) — the outcome usually ends up being entirely different.

You’d be crazy to pick against Mayweather here, and arguably, in any fight (I’ve never picked against him before), but you know what? I’m feeling kinda crazy. All the analysis in the world isn’t going to be able to foresee how the fight will pan out. My head says Mayweather with ease, but my heart says Cotto in a stunning upset (and putting an end to those Pacquiao-Mayweather dreams). And I have to go with my heart.

Tomorrow I’ll either be eating crow or saying I told you so.

 

Fight Prediction: Mayweather vs Ortiz

September 14, 2011 in Boxing, Sport

On September 17 in Las Vegas, undefeated 34-year-old Floyd Mayweather Jr (41-0,  25KOs) will return from a 16-month lay off take on 24-year-old southpaw brawler Victor Ortiz (29-2-2, 22KOs) for Ortiz’s WBC Welterweight belt.

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Floyd Mayweather Jr is entertaining.  Some would say more out of the ring than in it, though true fans of the sport can’t help but be in awe of his phenomenal ability.  And sure, Mayweather is not fighting the man everyone wants him to fight, Manny Pacquiao, but Victor Ortiz does make a very interesting ‘tune up’ for the Pacman — if the megafight is to finally take place next year as recent reports would suggest.

In the meantime, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Ortiz is a dangerous young opponent coming off a career reviving win against previously undefeated Andre Berto in April 2011 — his most satisfying win since being stopped by Marcos Maidana in 2009 where many believed a badly cut Ortiz had quit against his heavy-hitting opponent.  But does he stand a chance against someone in the class of Floyd Mayweather Jr?

Personally, I’m kind of torn here.  I’d love to see someone knock Mayweather off his pedestal, but at the same time that could spell the end of Mayweather-Pacquiao — and after all these years of waiting, that would be a monumental disappointment.

That said, the probability of Ortiz pulling off the upset is incredibly slim.  On paper, at least, or if you’ve ever watched the two men in action, Mayweather should punish Ortiz and give him a boxing lesson all night long.  Mayweather is simply too skilled, too slick, too fast, too experienced, and too defensively sound for someone as raw as Ortiz.  On top of that, Mayweather seldom gets hit flush, and when he does, he has survived and come back stronger.  His ability to adjust mid-fight is second to none.

But as the saying goes, anything can happen in boxing, and Ortiz at least appears to have the weapons and temperament to trouble Mayweather, whose form after 16 months off could potentially be a little off.

First of all, Ortiz is 10 years younger than Mayweather and, judging from his last fight, is in the form and shape of his life.  He’s like a caged animal that has been released after years in captivity and has this fearless attitude about him, like he just wants to tear through everyone in front of him.  His motivation and determination is through the roof right now.

Secondly, Ortiz is physically stronger than Mayweather and visibly bigger.  At 5’9″ he is an inch taller and has arms like tree trunks.  His thick body is also built like a brick house.  His punches can do serious damage and it looks like he’ll be able to take a punch much better than he used to.

Thirdly, Ortiz may not be as fast as Mayweather but he does have decent speed.  I’m not sure if it’s enough to bother Mayweather but it could be a significant factor in the fight if Mayweather underestimates it.

Fourthly, Ortiz is a southpaw, and we’ve all heard about Floyd’s troubles with southpaws throughout the years (Corley, Judah, etc).  The conventional response to that assertion is that Floyd has beaten every southpaw he has faced, but it must give Ortiz encouragement that Floyd has more difficulty with southpaws than orthodox fighters, primarily because his celebrated shoulder roll technique doesn’t work as well against southpaws.  It has to count for something, right?

Another thing Floyd is said to have problems with is a strong, stiff jab, which Ortiz also has.  He just has to learn to utilise it consistently throughout the fight.

On the flip side, Mayweather has not fought for 16 months, not since his May 2010 fight against Sugar Shane Mosley which he dominated after a major scare in round 2 where Mosley rocked him with a couple of big right hands.  Before that, Mayweather dominated Pacquiao’s next opponent, Juan Manuel Marquez, in September 2009.  And before that, a KO against Ricky Hatton in December 2007.  That’s three opponents in 45 months!  Yes, Mayweather won all those fights, but the inactivity, combined with his age (34) could come back to bite him in a hurry.

Mayweather also has brittle hands and hasn’t shown genuine KO power for quite some time, which could allow Ortiz to walk through some punches in order to land his own.  And if he does, will Mayweather be able to withstand the onslaught?  As the fight against Mosley suggested, if a big power shot lands in the right place, Mayweather can be hurt.

Lastly, there’s the distractions.  We all know about the Mayweather family’s legal troubles, and now the first episode of the Mayweather-Ortiz 24/7 series (one of the best yet, by the way) has revealed another rift between father and son.  Junior insists it doesn’t bother him at all, but his face suggests a different story.

Do all of these things add up to an upset in the cards?  Possible, but unlikely.  I’d put Ortiz’s chances of pulling off the improbable win at around 10-15%, and he’ll most probably have to do it via a stunning knockout.  He’ll have to be aggressive but patient, use that stiff jab of his to control the pace and pounce on Mayweather and not give him a chance to dictate.  If Ortiz goes in looking to brawl his way to a win he’ll become the perfect target for Mayweather’s counters.  If he remains disciplined and uses controlled aggression he could shock the world.

The more likely scenario is one where Ortiz comes out with guns blazing, takes it to Mayweather in the first couple of rounds, maybe even win them…before Mayweather figures out Ortiz’s style and schools him the rest of the way en route to a clear unanimous victory or even a late round KO.  I am still suspicious of Mayweather’s power at this stage of his career so I am going to predict a comfortable Mayweather UD.

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“Boy” or “The Girl Who Played with Fire?”

August 17, 2010 in Entertainment

I’ve got a bit of a dilemma.

I’ve got two separate advanced screenings tonight.  The first, booked in weeks ago, is a screening to Boy, the highest grossing New Zealand film of all-time (but wait, the film it had beaten was…The World’s Fastest Indian…).  Critics are audiences are simply raving about this coming-of-age comedy-drama, written and directed by Taika Waititi (the guy who made the acclaimed short, Two Cars, One Night, which I thought was not bad).

The second, which just popped up last night, is a screening to The Girl Who Played with Fire, the highly anticipated sequel to the wonderful The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (you know, the movies based on those Stieg Larsson novels).  I had originally booked myself in for an early September screening, but the opportunity to see it two weeks earlier makes it a difficult choice.

A third choice, I suppose, given the amount of work that I have on, is to stay home and skip both.

I’ll end up seeing both films eventually anyway, so it’s just a matter of which one to see first.  What do you reckon?  Which one would you go to if you were in my shoes?

Sneak Peek of New Tinker Bell Movie!

July 6, 2010 in Entertainment

Here’s a plug for the brand new Disney movie Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, set for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 15 September 2010 (and I believe in cinemas during August)!

I’ve always been a bit of a closet Peter Pan fan, and this looks like a great one for the family.  The story is set years before Tinker Bell meets Wendy and the Lost Boys and is a prequel of sorts about Tink’s bond with a little girl called Lizzy. Check out the sneak peek video below.

It features an excellent voice cast including Michael Sheen and Lucy Liu.  But the best part about the movie?  Tinker Bell is voiced by none other than Mae Whitman from Arrested Development!  Who?  I hear you ask.  That’s exactly right.  Mae Whitman played George Michael’s on-off Christian girlfriend Anne.  Her?  Yep.