Monday, January 18, 2010

Boxing’s success

AS our nation’s boxing hero and the world’s pound-for-pound king boarded a Philippine Airlines flight bound for Los Angeles on Sunday evening, he could rest easy knowing that no less than a testing agency accredited by the World Anti Doping Agency discovered what we all knew right along—that Pacquiao and his predecessor as the world’s no.1 Floyd Mayweather Jr. were clean of any performance-enhancing drugs or illegal substances.

Pacquiao could even probably smile at reports that Golden Boy Promotions had signed up World Boxing Association light welterweight Amir Khan, who has at times sparred with Manny and often praised him for his confidence-boosting advice, relentless training methods and sharp focus that have clearly been imbued by the 22-year-old Briton.

The cause for a smile is the fact that Khan and Vanes Martirosyan, all trained by the incomparable Freddie Roach, have the equally diligent and hardworking conditioning expert to help them get into the kind of shape they need to be in, to reign in a sometimes unforgiving sport.

As Ariza told us many times before, he gives Khan and Martirosyan the same supplements and vitamins that he gives Pacquiao, which means that if Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer and the criminally inclined Mayweather family slandered Pacquiao by claiming he was on some performance-enhancing drug, then Khan should be on the same thing.

It should be interesting to find out whether Schaefer et al would demand that the young British world champion undergo the random drug testing they demanded of Pacquiao, otherwise, their malice in trying to get under Pacquiao’s skin and harass him with allegations of using performance-enhancing drugs without a shred of evidence, would be clearly established.

But what should have pleased Pacquiao more than anything else is the fact that he will, when he hangs up his gloves, leave behind a legacy of incredible achievement and in the process provided inspiration to scores of young Filipinos from poor families, who seek to emulate his rags-to-riches story. Most if not all of them may not succeed to the same extent that Manny has, but at least Pacquiao will know that he blazed a trail and opened the doors of the big boxing market in the US to talented countrymen blessed with skill and a courageous Filipino heart.

One such young fighter, Eden Sonsona, who is now managed by the son of Pacquiao’s late manager, mentor and father-figure Rod Nazario – Rommel Nazario – was on the same flight with Pacquiao, who may get him a fight on the undercard of the Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey World Boxing Organization welterweight title at the state-of-the-art, $1.3 billion Dallas Cowboys stadium of Jerry Jones.

In his US debut, which was the last request that Rod Nazario made to Pacquiao, the Hero of Asia kept his word and Sonsona made an impressive debut with a second-round TKO over Eilon Kedem in the Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto “Fire Power” fight card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The kind of inspiration Pacquiao provides and his ability to attract attention to the sport, which he, more than any fighter today, has kept alive especially in the United States, was evident last Jan. 14 at the Pacific Grand Ballroom of the Waterfront Hotel when Smart Sports, a consistent, major sponsor and supporter of Pacquiao made its first thrust into pro boxing with a superb card before a standing-room-only crowd, which included many foreigners, who enjoyed some cracking ring action.

World-rated Filipinos Milan Melindo and AJ”Bazooka” Banal scored contrasting victories over truly worthy opponents, with Melindo earning a unanimous decision to capture the World Boxing Council Youth Intercontinental flyweight title against talented American Anthony Villareal and Banal stopping four-time world title challenger Cecilio Santos of Mexico in the fourth round.

As usual, ALA Promotions put on a class act that kept faith with the inherent style of PLDT-Smart’s esteemed businessman-sportsman Manny Pangilinan and Ricky Vargas and the gentleman, who fleshes out the projects Pato Gregorio.

Cebu fans bordered on the ecstatic, knowing that with Pangalinan getting involved in boxing and teaming up with the respected boxing patron Tony Aldeguer and his son Michael, the sport is certain to see many more top class promotions and is bound to take the high road to success just like the various business enterprises of the gentleman they fondly call “Boss MVP.”

by Ronnie Nathanielsz

Mosley-Mayweather adds spice to unflattering fight sked for 2010

Over the past few weeks, boxing has taken a metaphorical shotgun to its foot.

First, a highly anticipated superfight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather is called off because the two sides could not bridge a 10-day gap on drug testing.

Not money, which would have been at least fathomable. Not the selection of judges, which would have been believable.

Drug testing. Incredible.

Then Top Rank, Pacquiao's promoter, insults the boxing public by matching Pacquiao against Joshua Clottey, a once-upon-a-time welterweight contender who is coming off a loss to Miguel Cotto. The same Cotto who Pacquiao, quite literally, wiped the canvas with in November.

That was followed by Golden Boy Promotions, in a completely unrelated but equally stomach-churning move, announcing that Bernard Hopkins would go ahead with a planned fight against Roy Jones Jr. This after the fight was initially -- and rightfully -- scuttled when Jones was beaten post-to-post by Danny Green (I know, look him up) in a 1st-round knockout in December.

(Memo to HBO and Showtime -- don't offer up a penny for that one.)

In less than a month, two fighters and two promotion companies had wiped out improbable momentum boxing had built at the end of 2009.

But just as suddenly, the sport has a chance to grab it back.

Sometime in the next few days Golden Boy will announce a May fight between Mayweather and Shane Mosley. It's a matchup that became possible when Andre Berto, his personal life rocked by the recent earthquake in his native Haiti, withdrew from his scheduled Jan. 30 bout with Mosley. On Monday, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told that he planned to work around the clock to hammer out a deal, one that will likely include blood testing (Mosley says he will agree to it, and Schaefer believes it's good for the sport) and a split that will guarantee Mayweather the bigger payday. Mosley won't bicker over the details (he's been positioning himself for this fight for more than a year) and Mayweather will jump at the chance to give a look-at-me-I'm-fighting-a-top-welterweight speech in front of a bank of cameras.

And boxing will suddenly be shocked back to life.

The boxing-is-dying column is one that has become a mainstay in the archives of most national scribes. Oftentimes, they are filled with hyperbole. However in recent weeks, they have been laced with more facts. The collapse of Paquiao-Mayweather, which was getting as much or more mainstream coverage than any NBA or MLB playoff game, cast a spotlight on the sports recent failures.

Kelly Pavlik, once the darling of the middleweight division, had become an afterthought following a string of injuries.

Antonio Margarito loaded his gloves.

The heavyweight division had a potential big fight. Unfortunately, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko's mom has forbidden them from fighting each other.

The 2010 schedule was littered with mismatches and yawners. Now, it has a date that will have everyone circling their calendars.

Mosley-Mayweather doesn't have the same cache as Paquiao-Mayweather. It won't determine the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and it won't break any Pay Per View records. But it's a legitimate showdown between two elite fighters who fight at the same weight and have contrasting styles. Mosley will press the action and take the fight to Mayweather. And Mayweather will counterpunch and look to score big with flurries.

The result will be entertaining.

Certainly one fight cannot restore the momentum that was lost. And the sport still needs Pacquiao-Mayweather to happen. But for the first time in weeks, boxing has some excitement.

Its foot can start to heal.

Writer: Chris Mannix

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