Stamps, statues, mermen, skippers, job opportunities and more all await “below the fold.”
De La Hoya = Magic Johnson, Wayne Gretzy; Pacquiao = Presidents, Yoda
Two of the handful of boxing’s biggest stars are getting immortalized, comes the news this week. First is Oscar De La Hoya, who is getting a statue outside LA’s Staples Center, meaning he’ll share exclusive statue space with Magic Johnson and Wayne Gretzky. That’s elite company. Let that soak in for a second. He said, according to ESPN.com’s blog for De La Hoya’s 150-pound clash with Steve Forbes, that he’d be driving past it every day to “make sure it doesn’t get egged. I’ll be wiping it down with a towel every morning.”
Manny Pacquiao, meanwhile, is getting commemorated with a stamp in the Philippines. That, too, is totally rad. He’s the only individual athlete there to ever get a stamp in his honor, according to this article. It’s fantastic that a boxer in any country is on a stamp, and both this and the De La Hoya statue are markers that boxing is still a vital force in the world. The Pacman looks regal as all get out in the stamp — check out the aforementioned article for an image. Pacquiao was pleased, too, saying, “to be featured in a stamp alongside other great heroes in Philippine history is indeed a great honor to me.” (How he managed to say that, I don’t know — I thought he was scuba diving in preparation for his jump to lightweight [135 lbs]. Maybe he’s a merman?):
Speaking of heavily-worshiped boxers, I confess I’m charmed by this gesture from Ricky Hatton, the 140-pound champ with a cult-like following in Manchester. Boxers fight for money, and I don’t begrudge them that, but it’s a great thing, if you ask me, when they take slightly less cash for the benefit of fans. Which De La Hoya is doing this weekend, too, by the way.
Preconditions For Vazquez-Marquez IV, Please
Per the above L.A. Times article, Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez are in talks for a fourth fight. The two 122-pounders have attained legendary status by fighting each other, so it’s no surprise that they’re talking about doing it again, because that’s where the money is. Not that it’s the only consideration. I don’t think you fight like those two fought each other for money alone.
But I’m very, very worried about both of them. They are, clearly, two exceptionally sturdy humans. But you just can’t keep doing this to yourself over and over again without putting your health at risk. So I have two preconditions that would ease my mind about seeing Vazquez-Marquez IV. The first, and more preferable, is for them to have interim, tune-up style fights first. I really think we should get a look at these two to see if they have anything left. If both look good, let ‘er rip. The second — and this still gives me pause — is for them to favor Vazquez’ schedule, which means they would fight in early 2009, not late 2008, as Marquez wants. They both need as much recovery time as can be spared, I think. Then, that would give them the chance at a rare trifecta: Fight of the Year in 2007; the almost-certain Fight of the Year in 2008, barring something amazing happening the rest of the year; and a real shot at Fight of the Year in 2009.
Showtime’s rebroadcasting the entire trilogy Saturday night, by the way, if De La Hoya-Forbes ends quickly, is boring, or if you just want to watch three really amazing fights for no good reason.
Fights This Week
I enjoyed ESPN2’s Wednesday night broadcast of Joel Julio’s win over Ishe Smith. The two 154-pound contenders — Julio, the next-most recent ESPN.com Prospect of the Year, and Smith, a grad of “The Contender” TV show and someone who’s fared pretty well against top fighters in losses — put on a pretty good show, I thought. Sure, Smith wasn’t busy enough, which commentator Teddy Atlas rightly pointed out. It’s got to be the curse of his career. But Julio pressed the action, forcing Smith to fight a little more. Julio quite impressed me. His only loss is to Carlos Quintana, a pretty pure technician. Smith has excellent boxing skills as well. But Julio outboxed him. He picked his shots well, was patient, and, most importantly, showed excellent defense. When Smith turned it up, he gave Julio some trouble, to be sure. But the youngster is advancing. I only gave Smith two rounds, the eighth and the 10th, which put me in pretty close company with Atlas, although the judges saw it closer than that. I couldn’t disagree with the scores, because some of the rounds were a little close — Julio being busier, Smith landing cleaner shots. I disagree with scoring it a draw, as the able Cliff Rold did. I just don’t get that one. That said: Can someone get Julio a title shot, or at least in the ring with some of the other talented young 154-pounders?
Also tonight, on Showtime, for some reason, super middleweight (168 lbs.) Andre Dirrell is fighting again. Yes, that Andre Dirrell, whose fight with Curtis Stevens last year should be put in a time capsule as an entry for “worst performance pretty much ever by a boxer who won,” running and skipping and throwing nary a punch as Dirrell did. Honestly, all the fighters in the world, a great many of them wonderful and exciting, and this guy gets back on TV somehow? All during the fight, he and his team were acting like he put on some kind of amazing show. It sounds like he’s learned his lesson, so maybe he’ll get a chance to redeem himself, who knows. He’s taking on Anthony Hanshaw, who put up a decent struggle for Roy Jones, Jr. and comes to fight, but nothing against Hanshaw, I don’t intend to DVR this one. If I flip through the channels and catch it on accident, I’ll likely shield my eyes.
The Heavy Bag
From the inbox comes an e-mail offer that I pass along — sounds fun, but I confess to knowing nothing beyond what a Google search turned up about this organization:
“Knock-out Fight Network looking for sports commentators.
– Age 25-45
– local to the Los Angeles area with knowledge of the MMA/UFC/WWE/BOXING sports
– Familiarity of specific State events encourage or willing to learn at a fast pace
– Must have strong knowledge and color skills.
– Each commentator must reflect the look and feel in personality to the State event they will represent.
– Be comfortable in studio setting. Teleprompter experience a plus.
– Male and Female both welcome to apply
Here is the info for the show, Sports Commentator: http://www.gotcast.com/casting-calls/Knock-out-Fight-Network-Sports-Commentator/50535“