Saturday, December 4, 2010

Lodo Grdzak's Sportin' Life (Boxing Edition): Pacquiao, The State of the Sport, and The Greatest Of All Time:

"...a real clinic in elegant savagery as he detached Margarito's face from his skull in high definition."

Sergio Martinez lands a left hook for the ages on Paul Williams (about 2 weeks ago):

Paul Williams takes a long intermission during his fight w/ Sergio Martinez (about 2 weeks ago):

Juan Manuel Marquez lands an upper-cut on Michael Katsidis (last weekend):

Floyd Mayweather completely dominated Juan Manuel Marquez (about one year ago)

Floyd Mayweather (right) stood toe-to-toe with Shane Mosely (left) in what proved to be another boring, lopsided fight this year:

Manny Pacquiao (left) and Juan Manuel Marquez (right) have proven to be a great match-up. I'd pay $49.99 to watch them next week.

I’m not a huge sports fan; but I do like NBA basketball and especially professional boxing.

Two weeks ago Sergio Martinez knocked-out Paul Williams down in Atlantic City. That’s the kind of event I’d normally have gone to see, but I’ve been on intermission from boxing these last few months.

For more than a year boxing’s seen too many one-sided fights (such as Mayweather/Marquez); and a lot of bad match-ups (like Pacquiao/Clottey). That latter fight in particular made me feel like I’d been played; but even Mayweather/Marquez disapointed me. Mayweather obviously made no attempt to come-in at weight; and once Marquez got that $600,000.00 dollar bonus it seemed to sap a lot of his urgency and spirit.

But I was prepared to forgive everyone involved since I assumed (as we all did) the result would be Mayweather/Pacquiao. I’d already scheduled plane reservations down to Texas where I was gonna stay with my man Jaco. That fight was supposed to be a done deal. They even had the date--November 13, 2010.

When that fight didn’t happen I got sour on boxing. No offense guys, but we fans played our part. We got you rich and became emotionally invested. Now you gotta fight. That’s the rule, from Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries to Leonard vs. Hearns. You can’t just take the money and run. No pair of legends has ever allowed that to happen. Even if one dragged his feet or held out for money the other always called him out. Til pride forced a fight.

So after the Mayweather/Pacquiao debacle I’ve been on intermission. I didn’t take the trip to Atlantic City for Martinez/Williams and just scoffed at the $49.99 Pay-Per-View for Pacquiao/Margarito.

But I am a boxing fan, so eventually I broke-down and saw it at Jack Dempsey’s. $20 dollars to watch Pacquiao slap Margarito silly on about 30 big, flat-screens. There was a crowd of about 500 people, mostly Europeans and Asians, and everyone got on well. Of course Pacquiao has a rabid, international fan base and his performance that night was flawless. A real clinic in elegant savagery as he detached Margarito’s face from his skull in high-definition. By the 7th round we were taking bets on when they’d stop the fight. By the 10th we’d pretty-much stopped looking. But it was a fun night and even the undercard was good.

The Martinez/Williams re-match came the following week, and that was a knockout for the ages. I can only imagine Paul Williams’ clouded thoughts as his corner lifted him off the canvass.

"What happened? Did I do good?"

"Kid, people will be watching that for years."

Last weekend may have been the best boxing display of ‘em all. The third in a progression of good fights: the great Juan Manuel Marquez’s victory over Michael Katsidis. One of those fights where you liked the loser as much as the winner. The inspired Katsidis technically knocked out by the 9th round, victim of Marquez’s refined skill and experience. Too exhausted to mount an offense yet refusing to quit. I was glad to see the referee intervene and stop the fight. Katsidis seems like a really cool guy and was probably on the verge of being seriously hurt.

And as for Marquez? I thought he looked a lot like Pacquiao. Hell, I'd pay $49.99 to watch those two fight next week.

Which I guess brings me back full-circle. Pacquiao. Mayweather. Mayweather. Pacquiao. Oh man! By now even if the fight does happen, it won’t be the same. They had that great story-arc that built-up with the Hatton fights; and then Pacquiao’s great win over Cotto; followed by Mayweather’s utter mastery of Marquez and Shane Mosely. That was their time, right then. Their window; and any fight that happens now is gonna have a Soundgarden reunion feel to it.

When the fight first busted I’d initially put the blame on Mayweather, but I have to say I’ve grown slightly irritated with Pacquiao as he simply mops-up on a bunch of B-listers provided by his promoter Bob Arum. He’s better than Muhammad Ali I tells ya. Uh,...okay. If you say so.

I’m not in a position to argue with Bob Arum about boxing--he knows a lot more than me. And my respect for Pacquiao’s off the chart. But to me, Ali’s the most unique boxer of all time. He didn’t just have his own style, he had his own look in the ring. No man his size has ever had his complete skill-set of hand-speed, balance, footwork, power, and mental toughness. If so, we haven’t seen it.

And when people compare Pacquiao’s star power to Ali’s? Come on, man. Unless you’ve got Michael somewhere in your name, there's only one athlete who holds the title of The Greatest.

6' 3"; 220 lb. Muhammad Ali displays his talents on the unfortunate Cleveland Williams: