Standing Eight Count, May 22

May 22, 2006

I went to the Marco Antonio Barrera-Rocky Juarez fight with some friends and had a great time.  It's always great to go to a fight live and not only see the event, but the people it brings.  When I was in line for a beverage between under card fights, Diego Corrales walked by with a baby strapped to his chest.  Go figure.

* * * * *

Speaking of that night, a fight that I did not mention in the fight review was between super bantamweights Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista and Roberto Bonilla.  I usually don't watch much boxing under 130 pounds, but I was flat-out impressed by Bautista, who knocked out Bonilla with a great uppercut in the third round.  Bautista is only 19 years old and displays serious power — with both hands, too — rarely seen in that division.  The Filipino boxer is trained by the great Freddie Roach and moved his record to 20-0 (15 KOs) with the impressive win.  I'll definitely keep my eye on Bautista as he rises through the division ranks in the next few years.

* * * * *

Fellow Filipino Manny Pacquiao was in attendance for the Bautista fight but he was also in Los Angeles for another reason.  At a press conference on Thursday, it was announced that Pacquiao will face Oscar Larios in a title match in July.  The featherweight championship fight will take place at the historic Araneta Coliseum in the Philippines, the same venue that hosted "The Thrilla in Manila."  Pacquiao will be defending his WBC International super featherweight belt.  Pacquiao is also scheduled to face Erik Morales for a third time in October in Las Vegas.

* * * * *

As part of a "legends" card, former middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. will return to the ring for the first time in ten months when he faces "Prince" Badi Ajamu in Boise, Idaho on July 29.  The NABO's light heavyweight title will be on the line.

Originally Evander Holyfield was going to appear in a fight on the card, but negotiaions fell through.  Former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champ Virgil Hill will also be on the "legends" card.

Jones fell from boxing grace quickly, going from the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world to a boxer who lost his last three fights, two by way of knockout.  I doubt this is a serious comeback for the 37-year old, but instead a chance to return to the spotlight one last time and finish his career with a win.

* * * * *

In another recently announced fight, former undisputed welterweight champion Cory Spink will fight in his hometown of St. Louis when he faces IBF junior middleweight champion Roman Karmazin on Showtime.  The fight is scheduled on July 8 at the Savvis Center.  Neither fighter has been active, with Karmazin's last fight coming in July 2005 when he beat champion Kassim Ouma for the IBF junior middleweight title in a 12-round decision.  Spinks hasn't fought since February 2005, a knockout loss to Zab Judah that cost Spinks the undisputed title.

* * * * *

For those of you waiting to hear the results of the Scott Harrison fight against Gairy St. Clair on Saturday, you'll be waiting for a while.  Last Tuesday Harrison withdrew from his WBO featherweight title defense due to legal matters.

Last month Harrison was arrested and charged with breach of the peace and police assault stemming from a fight he was involved in at a pub in Glasgow.  Then on last Sunday, Harrison was arrested after an incident at a bar in Balloch, Scotland.  No charges were filed but British news believe he was questioned about an alleged drug possession.

* * * * *

For those of you that caught the Hatton-Collazo fight, what were your thoughts on Hatton?  Overmatched by moving up in class?  Nervous with a new HBO contract and fighting on U.S. soil?  All I know is the Hatton who fought two weeks ago was not the same Hatton that practically destroyed Kostya Tszyu last summer.  East Side Boxing's James Anthony takes a quick look at whether Hatton is overrated or just had a bad night against Collazo.

* * * * *

Did anyone catch Ray Mancini on Friday Night Fights?  If so, please tell me what he was wearing because I have no idea.  He looked more like "Bum Bum" than "Boom Boom."

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Barrera, Juarez fight to a draw…Wait, say what?!

May 22, 2006

In an unfortunate turn of events for challenger Rocky Juarez, Miguel Antonio Barrera won by split decision over Juarez (25-2, 18 KOs) at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. The fight, first announced as a draw, brings Barrera's record to 62-4 (42 KOs) as he retains his WBC super featherweight title.

* * * * *

It was a great night of boxing at STAPLES Center for everyone in attendance but Rocky Juarez.  Juarez took on future Hall of Famer Marco Antonio Barrera in front of a pro-Barrera crowd and boxed one heck of a fight.  After the bell rang to end the 12th and final round, the crowd was on their feet, cheering both fighters for putting on a great show.  Juarez felt he won the fight but Michael Buffer read the results ultimately as a draw — judge Duane Ford scoring the fight 115-113 for Juarez, judge Anek Hongtogkham giving it to Barrera at 115-113 and judge Ken Morita scoring it an even 114-114.

Normally when a fight is a draw, neither the boxers or the crowd is happy but in a fight so closely contested, it only seemed fitting.  Even Juarez was okay with the initial decision.  Unfortunately, it wasn't the final decision.

Several minutes after the fight, when both boxers were in their dressing rooms and a majority of the crowd gone, it was learned that one judge's scorecard had been added wrong, favoring Barrera and giving the defending WBC super featherweight champion the win.

It was certainly a tough fight to score, if not add.  While Barrera controlled the first half of the bout, he did lose a few early rounds and was victim to several telling punches that left him with a constantly bloody nose and a swollen left eye.  Juarez turned the fight in his favor in the later rounds, but the last two rounds were very even.  Blog and Weave scored the fight 115-113 in favor of Barrera.

There were no knockdowns, but Juarez rocked Barrera a few times and earned the respect of not only the Mexican legend, but everyone in attendance.

Barrera's strategy was to box Juarez, but at times he did move inside and trade power punches.  Barrera used his jab to great advantage, keeping Juarez outside and frustrated, although Juarez did not show it.  Juarez didn't throw hardly the same amount of punches, but when he did connect, they seemed to do much more damage.

As if the main event wasn't entertaining enough, fans were briefly allowed to enjoy WBO junior lightweight champion Jorge Barrios.  Barrios only needed 49 seconds to knock out previously-undefeated Janos Nagy in the title fight. Barrios landed a solid left hook to Nagy's right side, stunning Nagy and sending him to his knees for the ten-count.  Along with the crowd, Barrios seemed surprised by the one-punch KO, saying "I hit him once and I didn't think it did anything."  Nagy felt different (literally), claiming the shot knocked the wind out of him.  "I wanted to go on, but I wasn't able to," a disappointed Nagy said.  Barrios retained his title and improved to 46-2-1 (33 KOs) while the Hungarian Nagy fell to 23-1 (14 KOs.)

* * * * *

Round-by-Round Review

ROUND ONE

Barrera circles around Juarez, using his jab and striking with great accuracy.  A nice right hand by Juarez is the first big punch of the fight.  Barrera closes out the round with a few combinations. SCORE: 10-9, Barrera

ROUND TWO

Both fighters exchange jabs, then work inside going to each other's body.  Juarez backs Barrera into the ropes and throws a few, but Barrera spins Juarez around against the ropes and pops off a right hand.  Barrera goes back to using the jab.  Juarez takes the round by a great left hook that connects with Barrera's nose, which starts to bleed immediately. SCORE: 10-9, Juarez (19-19, even)

ROUND THREE

Barrera and Juarez trade jabs as both fighters use up the entire ring.  Barrera attacks the body, landing a big left on Juarez's waistband.  Later in the round, Barrera is warned for hitting the back of Juarez's head.  A left hook by Juarez sends Barrera stumbling with five seconds left. SCORE: 10-9, Juarez (29-28, Juarez)

ROUND FOUR

Barrera begins the round attacking Juarez's body, then goes back to fighting outside and using his jab.  After a punch hits Juarez's hip, Barrera is warned for a low blow.  The rest of the round lacks a huge punch, but Barrera seems to have a game plan and sticking with it, while Juarez looks unsure how to beat Barrera. SCORE: 10-9, Barrera (38-38, even)

ROUND FIVE

Jab combinations from Barrera slows Juarez down.  Juarez lunges and lands a left hook, followed by another left hook on the other side of the ring.  Barrera rips off two body shots then closes out the round landing combinations inside. SCORE: 10-9, Barrera (48-47, Barrera)

ROUND SIX

Juarez strikes first with a left jab, followed by an inside attack by Barrera.  Juarez takes a big swing and misses a ducking Barrera, who then lands an uppercut to Juarez's chin.  Juarez throws an uppercut of his own, the first one he's connect on all night.  Barrera continues to score with combinations.  Barrera gets Juarez against the ropes and throws a left hook. SCORE: 10-9, Barrera (58-56, Barrera)

ROUND SEVEN

Juarez walks into two jabs and decides to take the fight inside.  Barrera obliges and the two boxers lean on each other trying to land punches.  Juarez fires three hooks to Barrera's body.  The entire round is up to this point has been spent on the inside.  Barrera lands a nice left hook to the body and a few seconds later, his mouthpiece comes out.  After a quick timeout, Barrera goes back to staying outside and jabbing.  SCORE: 10-9, Barrera (68-65, Barrera)

ROUND EIGHT

The first minute is uneventful then a hard right hand by Juarez lands.  Again, Barrera's mouthpiece comes out and it is replaced with a different one.  It's unsure whether or not Barrera is doing this on purpose, but based on the blood constantly flowing from his nose, he may very well have a broken nose and is breathing heavily from his mouth, causing the protector to slip out. SCORE: 10-9, Juarez (77-75, Barrera)

ROUND NINE

Juarez is now the more active fighter and is constantly applying pressure.  Juarez scores with a right hand.  Both fighters trade left hooks at the bell. SCORE: 10-9, Juarez (86-85, Barrera)

ROUND TEN

A left hook to Barrera's chin starts the round.  Juarez and Barrera go toe to toe, Juarez landing a right hand followed by an uppercut while Barrera attacks Juarez's body.  Barrera throws a nice combination.  A right hand by Juarez draws more blood from Barrera's nose.  As the bell rings, both fighters land glancing blows. SCORE: 10-9, Juarez (95-95, even)

ROUND ELEVEN

The pace really picks up as both fighters sense the last two rounds are very valuable.  Juarez starts it off with a big left hook.  Later, combination lands flush against Barrera's head.  More body work for Barrera, but Juarez backs off and feeds Barrera a right followed by a left hand.  Another left hand by Juarez and more body shots by Barrera.  With seconds remaining, Juarez lands a right hook but Barrera trumps him with several combinations in attempt to steal the round. SCORE: 10-9, Barrera (105-104, Barrera)

ROUND TWELVE

With Juarez looking to attack Barrera on the ropes, the referee calls timeout to have the center of the ring toweled off.  When the round resumes, Juarez fires two solid right hands, the second of which Barrera counters with a big left.  Juarez starts throwing wild punches and coming up empty.  As the bell sounds to end the fight, both fighters are ripping off shots to take the round. SCORE: 10-9, Barrera (115-113, Barrera)

The fight is initially declared a draw (115-113, 113-115, 114-114.)  Several minutes after the fighters leave the ring, it is announced that the scores were incorrectly tallied. 

Barrera by split decision.

Fight Preview: Barrera-Juarez

May 20, 2006

May 20, 2006: WBC super featherweight champion Marco Antonio Barrera (61-4, 42 KOs) vs. Rocky Juarez (25-1, 18 KOs), 12 rounds, super featherweights. At the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. (HBO)

* * * * * 

Mexican boxing legend Marco Antonio Barrera lost a chance to fight lightweight champion Jesus Chavez in March due to an injury suffered by Chavez. Instead, he will put his WBC super featherweight title on the line against an American hopeful. That American is 2000 Olympic silver medalist Rocky Juarez who is entering the fight of his life. Juarez is hungry and looking for his first major professional championship, so the fight against Barrera should be an instant classic.

Barrera, #5 on Blog and Weave's Pound-for-Pound rankings, has won his last four fights — including his second win in three fights over Erik Morales — but the memory of his last loss still leaves a bad taste in his mouth. In November 2003, Barrera suffered an 11th-round TKO to Manny Pacquiao. Barrera had trouble with the lefty Filipino and lost the WBC featherweight title he originally won when he beat Morales in 2002. Saturday night's fight will be his third title defense of his WBC belt.

Barrera, while only 32 years old, is an old 32 years old and nearing the twilight of his Hall of Fame career but he claims he didn't pick Juarez because he thought he'd be an easy opponent. That said, Barrera has already reserved a date at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for November 11 against an unnamed opponent, so it'll remain to be seen if Barrera is over looking Juarez.

While Barrera can be called the best feather and super featherweight fighter of his generation, it's Juarez who hopes to do the same for the next few years. Beating Barrera will get Juarez back on track after a somewhat disappointing start to his professional career.

Juarez had a great amateur career, capped by a silver medal in the 2000 Athens Summer Games. After turning profession in January 2001, the Texas native won his first twenty-three fights, including a victory in a IBF Featherweight title eliminator bout against then-undefeated Zahir Raheem, also an American Olympian. Juarez won by unanimous decision and earned the minor WBC Continental Americas featherweight belt. With his stock rising, Juarez won three more fights and was set to face the dangerous South Korean Injin Chi. However, less than three weeks before the fight, Chi was injured and Juarez accepted an interim title bout against the relatively unknown Humberto Soto of Mexico. Soto pounded out an impressive 12-round unanimous decision over Juarez, and it was Soto who went on to win the WBC featherweight championship.

With no belt and his first professional lost, Juarez went on to win two small fights in December 2005 and January 2006, both by way of knockout but against lesser opponents. But as luck has it, Juarez caught a break when Barrera's original opponent, lightweight titlist Jesus Chavez, severely injured his arm and had to pull out of a fight originally scheduled in March. Now Juarez is looking to cash in on the break the same way Soto did against him, but it won't be easy.

Barrera is an outstanding fighter, one who can slug it out or tactically out-box his opponents. Early in his career, Barrera relied on his heavy hands and his signature left hook but after a few losses, Barrera's become more of a technically boxer, using jabs to keep opponents at bay and set up for his power punches. Barrera can still end fights early, as evident by his second-round knockout against Mzonke Fana in April 2005. When Barrera gets in trouble, it's against quicker boxers (i.e. Pacquiao) who can attack and get out before Barrera can land a shot.

Rocky Juarez can do just that, which makes this fight all the more interesting. Like Barrera, Juarez's knockout punch is his left hook, but don't forget to look for the short, compact right. Juarez thrives on throwing combinations and moving inside and trading punches, mostly his left hand, either by way of hooks or uppercuts.

Both fighters not only have great skill, but have great heart and desire which can carry them through this fight. Juarez is hungry for his first major title, but he's also moving up from featherweight to super featherweight for the first time, so he may be outclassed against Barrera. Juarez is a hard worker in the gym, so he should be in great shape, but all the hard work before the fight could cause him to lose steam in the later rounds. In his loss to Soto, it seemed Juarez struggled against the stronger fighter, so Barrera, being the natural 130-pound fighter, should use his size and strength to his advantage and take this fight inside.

Barrera will be a boxer, not a fighter, on Saturday night, winning the rounds by landing the clearer shots. Juarez will have his moments and will land a few left hooks that will have the crowd on its feet — and yes, I will be in attendance — but in the end, Barrera will indeed outclass Juarez and take the fight by a close decision. Even if he loses, I suspect Juarez will look good in doing so and gain a lot of respect.

Prediction: Barrera by unanimous decision.

Fight Preview: Barrios-Nagy

May 20, 2006

May 20, 2006: WBO junior lightweight champion Jorge Barrios (45-2-1, 32 KOs) vs. Janos Nagy (23-0, 14 KOs), 12 rounds, junior lightweights. At the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. (HBO)

* * * * *

While all the attention is toward the Marco Antonio Barrera-Rocky Juarez fight, this undercard event promises to be just as exciting. Barrios brings his brawling style to a title defense against relatively unknown Hungarian boxer Janos Nagy.

Barrios' last lost was a tough one to take, when he lost to Acelino Freitas by way of 12th-round TKO in August 2003. Barrios knocked Freitas down in Round 8 and Round 11, but Freitas came back and sent Barrios to the canvas in the 11th and 12th rounds. When Barrios was sent down in the last round, he slipped trying to stand on his wobbly feet, causing the referee to stop the fight. At the point of stoppage, Barrios was leading on one scorecard while another judge had the fight even.

Since the loss, Barrios has run off six straight wins, three by way of knockout, including an impressive 4th-round TKO over Mike Anchondo in April 2005, giving Barrios the WBO title. Barrios is an exciting fighter, but has many flaws, including poor defense and a sloppy approach offensively. He does possess KO power and will knock back down to anyone, even to an undefeated fighter like Nagy.

Nagy, known as "Bonecrusher" in his home of Budapest, Hungary, has become a national hero, winning minor featherweight belts (WBO Inter-Continental title and IBC super featherweight title) while racking up 23 wins to 0 losses. This will mark the first fight in Nagy's career in the United States and on major television. Nady is a southpaw and uses it to his advantage, often mixing up his punches to throw off his opponents. In order to beat a slugger like Barrios, Nady needs to counter and fight outside, which absolutely contradicts what Nady, the smaller fighter, will be able to do.

No only is the match up tough for Nady to win, Barrios is plain and simply the bigger and better boxer. He also thrives in the spotlight and can knockout an opponent at any time. Nady brings lots of intrigue into the ring, but Barrios will exit retaining his belt.

Prediction: Barrios by KO in Round 5.

Contender or Pretender?: Calvin Brock

May 18, 2006


Calvin Brock
28-0 (22 KOs)

Age: 31
Division: Heavyweight
Blog and Weave's Division Ranking: #8
Key wins: Clifford Etienne (3rd-round technical knockout, 1/21/05), Jameel McCline (10 round unanimous decision, 4/23/05)
Key loses: None
Last fight: 6th-round knockout over Zuri Lawrence (20-11-4) on February 25, 2006
Next fight: Timor Ibragimov (21-0-1) on June 24, 2006

Strengths: Surprising power, as evident by his knockout percentage of 78%; very good technically; able to throw combinations and jabs, which is rare in the current heavyweight division; solid chin; good amateur record (U.S. amateur champion in '99 at 201 pounds, 2000 U.S. Olympian)

Weaknesses: Has not faced good boxers during their prime (mostly young fighters and has-been veterans); lacks a signature punch, so he often has to work at landing a knockout blow; has yet been put to the test, so how he handles pressure is unknown

Bio:  Calvin Brock is as much a story inside the squared circle as he is outside.  Brock is known as "The Boxing Banker," given to him when he was working for Bank of America as an analyst.  When watching Brock, he doesn't box like a heavyweight, slugging it out and lumbering around the ring.  Instead, he fights like an oversized middleweight, staying active, landing good jabs and combinations before throwing precision power punches and displaying decent defense.  Brock is well-educated and soft-spoken, so he's a breath of fresh air to boxing.
 
Contender or Pretender?: CONTENDER.  In any other era, Brock might have a tough time rising through the ranks of the heavyweight division, but in this day and age, Brock has the skills and hunger to one day become a champion.  The next step is to move up in class and face fellow undefeated Timor Ibragimov.  The winner will most likely be regarded as the top heavyweight without a belt.

Standing Eight Count, May 15

May 15, 2006

Last week's pay-per-view fight of Oscar De La Hoya and Ricardo Mayorga was not only another win by De La Hoya, but one more hugely subscribed fight involving "the Golden Boy."

The fight was the fifth best-selling of the 17 HBO Pay-Per-View fights De La Hoya has been featured in. The top five events for De La Hoya — which are also the the top five non-heavyweight pay-per-view in boxing history — are:

vs. Felix Trinidad (1999) – 1.4 million buys, $71.4 million in revenue
vs. Bernard Hopkins (2004) – 1 million buys, $56 million in revenue
vs. Shane Mosley (2003) – 950,000 buys, $48.4 million in revenue
vs. Fernando Vargas (2002) – 935,000 buys, $47.8 million in revenue
vs. Ricardo Mayorga (2006) – 875,000 buys, $43.8 million in revenue

With the Mayorga fight, De La Hoya's all-time pay-per-view totals are an amazing 10.3 million buys and $488.1 million in revenue.

* * * * *

Speaking of the fight, according to the Nevada Athletic Commission, Ricardo Mayorga tested positive for a banned diuretic known as Lasix on Wednesday. Diuretics are known to not only help quickly lose weight, but also are affective in masking steriods.

Mayorga has twenty days to respond before the Commission holds a hearing to decide the boxer's fate. Past cases involving diuretics have resulted in fines and suspended licenses.

* * * * *

While the current hot topic of Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Jr. continue to make headlines, another father and son boxing duo recently made news.

After firing his father as trainer after his 2004 loss to Winky Wright, Shane Mosely reunited with Jack Mosely, who will be in Shane's corner as trainer for the July 15 rematch with Fernando Vargas.

Jack Mosely was Shane's trainer since the age of 8, helping him become a champion in the lightweight, welterweight and light middleweight divisions. In 1998, Jack was named Trainer of the Year while his son was named Fighter of the Year.

But after a loss to Wright for the undisputed junior middleweight title, Shane not only dropped his father from his corner and brought in Joe Goossen to train him. Later, John David Jackson became Mosley's trainer but currently Jackson is training Bernard Hopkins in preparation for his June 10 fight against Antonio Tarver, leaving Mosley with no trainer for the Vargas rematch.

The Mosleys had tremendous success working with each other, so the reuniting is not only a great personal move, but should prove to be a good won professionally.

* * * * *

The extremely popular and flashy Naseem Hamed was sentenced to 15 months in jail on Friday stemming from a driving accident in April 2005.

Hamed, the former world featherweight champion, crashed his car into two other vehicles in England last year, leaving a man with a broken leg and two broken arms. It was found that Hamed was driving over 90 MPH when the crash occured.

The boxer known as "Prince Naseem" has not announced his retirement, but Hamed (36-1, 31 KOs) will be 33 when he leaves jail and will have not fought since 2002, when he beat Manuel Calvo by unanimous decision.

* * * * *

In his home country, Clinton Woods retained his IBF light heavyweight belt Saturday night in Sheffield, England, beating Jason DeLisle with a sixth-round TKO.

DeLisle (18-5-2, 9 KOs) was aggressive, going inside all night, but he paid for it. Woods used his uppercut to defend his title and move his record to 39-3-1, with 24 KOs.

Woods must next face Glen Johnson in a mandatory defense, the third fight between the two. After a draw in November 2003, Johnson won by unanimous decision in February 2004.

* * * * *

Also on Saturday was Arthur Abraham's victory of Kofi Jantuah in an IBF middleweight title bout in Germany.

Abraham took the championship with a unanimous decision and kept his record a perfect 21-0 (17 KOs) while Jantuah fell to 30-3 (19 KOs.)

On the undercard, Markus Beyer (34-2-1, 13 KOs) retained his WBC super middleweight title against Sakio Bika when a head butt stopped the fight. The fight was a technical draw after Bika's head butt in the fourth round opened a cut under Beyer's right eye and swelled it shut. Bika is entitled to a rematch after the head butt was ruled accidental.

* * * * *

One of the world's best pound-for-pound boxers — and certainly the best super middleweight — is Joe Calzaghe. Calzaghe, #10 on Blog and Weave's Top Ten Pound-for-Pound rankings, is 41-0 with 31 knockouts and is making his HBO debut on July 8.

The only problem is, with two months to go, an opponent has yet to be determined.

ESPN.com's Dan Rafael has the low-down on who may face Calzaghe and who he should face.

* * * * *

I really loved the Rocky franchise (except for the disaster that was Tommy Morrison and Rocky V), but when rumors started a year or so ago that another film starring Sly Stallone was in the works, I was not looking forward to it. What was Rocky Balboa going to fight, Parkinson's disease?

However, when I checked out the film's page at IMDB.com, I was actually quite pleased. In the list of credits, some of boxing's biggest names are mentioned. First off, Antonio Tarver makes his movie debut when he plays Mason "The Line" Dixon, which is one of the worst names I've ever heard but he brings some credible boxing skills to the big screen, something most boxing movies lack.

Also appearing are commentators Max Kellerman, Brian Kenny, Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant. Both Dan Rafael and Bert Sugar also appear, each credited as "Reporter." Check out a few production stills that have come out.

“Hitman” shows heart, wins title in close fight

May 15, 2006

In his first major American fight and first in the welterweight division, Manchester's own Ricky Hatton won by unanimous decision over Luis Collazo (26-2, 12 KOs) in front of many of his fellow British fans at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. With the victory, Hatton remains undefeated (41-0, 30 KOs) and claims the WBA welterweight title.

* * * * *

The end decision was unanimous but the fight itself was anything but. Ricky Hatton, in his first welterweight fight, was put to the test by Luis Collazo in a twelve-round rock 'em, sock 'em title fight. Hatton, who is a huge star back at home in England, is trying to bring his aggressive, hard-hitting style to American soil and he showed just that on Saturday night. The only problem was his opponent didn't back down and fought just as tough. Collazo actually was the winner on the Blog and Weave scorecard (114-113) and ESPN.com scored it 115-113 for Collazo. But the only decision that mattered is that of the official judges, two of whom scored the fight 115-112 for Hatton and the third had it 114-113 for Hatton. It was a back and forth fight, with neither boxer taking huge control of any rounds, aside from the opening round when Hatton caught an off-balance Collazo on the chin and sent him to the canvas and the final round, when Collazo clearly had Hatton hurt but couldn't return the favor in knocking him down.

Collazo, for the most part, stuck to his game plan of staying outside and using his reach and size to his advantage, keeping Hatton at bay with his jab. The rounds in which Collazo most often struggled was when he fought Hatton's fight, inside and exchanging close power punches. Hatton showed relentless attack all night and was clearly not afraid of Collazo's size. It was Hatton's first fight at 147 pounds and he showed decent conditioning, still being aggressive and active all the way up to the final bell. However, Hatton did take a beating from Collazo, who isn't known for having heavy punches. Hatton's face was black and blue after the fight and his right eye almost swollen shut and he admitted Collazo had hurt him a few times during the fight, which raises the question: Can Hatton handle the welterweight division against the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya? Hatton hardly looked like the same fighter who destroyed junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu last year. I think Hatton is a natural junior welterweight and ought to return to 140 pounds, even though it lacks the stars of the other divisions.

As for Collazo, even with the loss, his stock went up. He fought an almost perfect fight and just missed beating 2005's Fighter of the Year. Collazo is well deserving of a title shot soon, if not a rematch with Hatton.

* * * * *

Round-by-Round Review

ROUND ONE

Within seconds, Collazo is caught off balance by a Hatton left hook, causing him to fall. I wasn't the cleanest of knockdown, but it's a knockdown nonetheless. Hatton is relentless but not wild, constantly getting inside and willing to trade punches with Collazo. SCORE: 10-8, Hatton

ROUND TWO

Again, Collazo loses his balance and falls, but this time it's ruled a slip. While Hatton retreats, Collazo complains to the referee. Hatton is a pest, albeit a very strong pest, constantly attacking, mostly landing to Collazo's body. During the middle of the round, Collazo finds his groove and begins throwing (and landing) a lot of combinations. SCORE: 10-9, Collazo (19-18, Hatton)

ROUND THREE

Between rounds, Hatton's trainer tells him to "mix it up." At this point, it's been mostly power punches for Hatton. Hatton starts off the round with a few jabs, but soon reverts to inside fighting, landing lots of body shots. Hatton misses a hook and the two boxers butt heads accidentally after the exchange. Hatton is fine, but Collazo has a cut on the top of his head. SCORE: 10-9, Hatton (29-27, Hatton)

ROUND FOUR

Collazo looks confident, as he starting to measure Hatton up with his jab. A big left by Collazo snaps Hatton's head back but Hatton comes right back and goes to the body. The clinching has picked up due to both boxers willing to fight inside. A nice short right hand by Collazo again connects with Hatton's chin. SCORE: 10-9, Collazo (38-37, Hatton)

ROUND FIVE

Hatton looks slow, either from the move up in weight or from chasing Collazo around the ring, who's doing a good job fighting his fight on the outside. Collazo keeps his distance then goes in for a combo. He does this again. Hatton looks frustrated by Collazo's slick style. The referee calls timeout and has Collazo's cut looked at. The ring doctor says it's fine. In the closing minute, Collazo throws a good left hook. As the bell rings to end the round, Collazo pounds his chest. SCORE: 10-9, Collazo (47-47, even)

ROUND SIX

Again, Hatton looks confused on how to beat Collazo. Collazo throws a few good combinations, scoring on all of them. A nice right by Hatton is followed by a good right jab by Collazo. The momentum of the fight has started to swing in favor of Collazo. SCORE: 10-9, Collazo (57-56, Collazo)

ROUND SEVEN

The two trade punches in the middle of the ring. Hatton looks sluggish, not throwing many punches as Collazo now begins to attack the body, per instructions from his corner between rounds. Both are warned by the referee for holding inside. Hatton picks up the pace and starts mixing up hooks and uppercuts. Chants of "Louie, Louie" start. SCORE: 10-9, Hatton (66-66, even)

ROUND EIGHT

Hatton continues his intensity from the last round by attacking inside, landing some pounding body shots. Collazo counters with good combos but can't score a big punch as Hatton continues to tie him up. Collazo pleads to the referee but to no avail. A right hand by Collazo to Hatton's chin lands. Again, Hatton gets in close and alternates right and left hooks. SCORE: 10-9, Hatton (76-75, Hatton)

ROUND NINE

For the second time in the fight, Collazo is sent to his corner to retape his gloves. Collazo comes back and gives Hatton a taste of his own medicine, connecting combinations to Hatton's body. Hatton answers with a series of shots to Collazo's stomach and side. Collazo still seems more active this round, and lands a right hand that rocks Hatton. SCORE: 10-9, Collazo (85-85, even)

ROUND TEN

Collazo and Hatton tangle up, causing Collazo to slip and fall. With Hatton's right eye quickly closing, Collazo returns to the jab. The two exchange solid right hooks. Hatton follows up with a really big right hook. Collazo ends the round with a body-body-head combination. SCORE: 10-9, Collazo (95-94, Collazo)

ROUND ELEVEN

Between rounds, both corners tell their fighters "You got to win these last two rounds big." Hatton starts throwing wild punches, looking for a knockout. Collazo, on the other hand, looks calm and steady, mixing body and head shots. The round turns to Hatton's favor when he lands a good body-body combination. Hatton keeps moving forward, keeping Collazo at bay. SCORE: 10-9, Hatton (104-104, even)

ROUND TWELVE

Hatton scores with an uppercut, only to be greeted with a Collazo hook which causes Hatton to slip. Hatton throws a series of body shots and hooks to the head, scoring well. After the flurry though, he looks tired and Collazo attacks, throwing several punches in close, clearly hurting Hatton. Two huge hooks in a row causes Hatton to stumble and it looks like one more punch could send him to the canvas, but he leans in and holds onto Collazo. Hatton walks into another right hand, but comes back and fights hard in the closing minute. SCORE: 10-9, Collazo (114-113, Collazo)

Hatton by unanimous decision.

Fight Preview: Collazo-Hatton

May 12, 2006

May 13, 2006: WBA welterweight champion Luis Collazo (26-1, 12 KOs) vs. Ricky Hatton (40-0, 30 KOs), 12 rounds, welterweights. At the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (HBO)

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Last week the boxing world was treated to a dazzling performance by Oscar De La Hoya and now, American fans will get to see England's own Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton up close. Hatton, the IBF and WBA junior welterweight champion, moves up in weight to challenge WBA welterweight champion Luis Collazo for the first fight of Hatton's mega-contract with HBO.

Hatton, who takes his perfect record into the bout, was named by Ring Magazine the 2005 Fighter of the Year. It's his first fight away from England since his last trip to the United States, a June 2000 victory over Gilbert Quiros. Although Hatton is the challenger, he's not only the favored fighter, but also the more popular and hyped.

The tough Brit made a name for himself when he upset world champion Kostya Tszyu in June 2005. Hatton showed his relentless attacking style and his rock-hard fists when he beat Tszyu's face into a pulp, forcing Tszyu's corner to throw in the towel after the eleventh round, giving Hatton the IBF junior welterweight belt. Hatton followed up with a ninth-round knockout of Carlos Maussa in November to add the WBA super lightweight and vault himself into almost every pound-for-pound top ten list. Hatton currently ranks 4th on Blog and Weave's Pound-for-Pound Top Ten.

Hatton puts it all on the line when he moves up to 147-pounds for the first time in his nine-year career. The man standing in the opposite corner is no slouch and will be an immediate test for Hatton.

The Brooklyn-born Luis Collazo is trying to forge his own legacy, so he was eager to take on Hatton when the opportunity rang. Collazo, a southpaw, has an impressive record in his own right, but he lacks the quality opponents Hatton has taken on. That said, Collazo's last two fight have been against his toughest competition. In April 2005, Collazo pulled off a huge upset when he won by a controversial split decision over Jose Antonio Rivera, capturing the WBA welterweight title. Collazo, in his first title defense, won by technical knockout in the eighth round over former champion Miguel Angel Gonzalez in August. Collazo rocked Gonzalez several times with combinations to the head and heavy attacks to the body, causing Gonzalez's corner to end the fight between the seventh and eighth round.

Hatton is the more heralded fighter and easily the stronger puncher, but Collazo has an advantage being a southpaw. Hatton was knocked down — the first time in his professional career — by Eamonn Magee, another southpaw, in 2002. In addition to being lefty, Collazo is accurate, athletic, two inches taller and has an edge in reach, and has fought as high as 155 pounds — all factors that could help him score the upset. Collazo will need to stay active and present match-up problems to Hatton in order to win the fight. Hatton has a very good chin, but he's been tagged with the label of "bleeder," so a big cut or an incidental head butt — which could very well happen when it's orthodox vs. southpaw — to Hatton ought to favor Collazo.

For Hatton, he's the harder puncher, but he's never been one to end a fight early, instead he tends to wear out his opponents before putting them away late. Hatton is more of a slugger than a boxer, but he has the skills to hang with the technically sound Collazo. In facing a bigger opponent, Hatton needs to use his left hook and favorite it to Collazo's body, along with mixing some combinations to the chin of Collazo.

I'm a huge fan of Hatton because of not only his skill, but his heart and courage he constantly displays in the ring. That said, too many factors (Collazo's size, Collazo being southpaw, Hatton moving up in class) have me worried. I hope Hatton wins, because I believe a future fight against Oscar De La Hoya or even Floyd Mayweather Jr. is down the round. Unfortunately, I like Collazo's chances at an upset. Collazo's will be able to withstand Hatton's heavy body attack and stay outside, using his speed and size to his advantage.

Prediction: Collazo by split decision.

Boxing legend Floyd Patterson dies at 71

May 11, 2006

Floyd Patterson, the former heavyweight-boxing champion of the world, died Thursday at his New York home. He was 71. Patterson, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease and prostate cancer, had been hospitalized a week earlier.

Born in Waco, N.C., Patterson became a phenom while competing in the New York Golden Gloves tournament. He later won gold as a middleweight in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.

In 1956, the undersized Patterson knocked out legendary boxer Archie Moore and became the youngest world heavyweight champion in history at age 21. Three years later, Patterson was knocked down seven times in the third round and lost the title to Ingemar Johansson at the Polo Grounds in New York City.

In 1960, Patterson came back and knocked Johannson out in the fifth round of their rematch, with what many boxing historians have called the best punch ever in boxing, to become the first man ever to recover the world's undisputed heavyweight title. Ring Magazine called it "The Fight of the Year." A third fight between the two was held in 1961, with Patterson retaining his title by a knockout in the sixth round. Patterson would go on to lose his next title defense against Sonny Liston, an embarrassing first-round knockout. A rematch in 1963 would be no different, with Liston again knocking out Patterson in the opening minutes.

Patterson continued to have a good career, beating Oscar Bonavena and George Chuvalo, two extremely tough contenders. Patterson would lose to Muhammad Ali by 12th round knockout in 1965. But Patterson came back again, this time losing controversial decisions to Jerry Quarry and WBA champ Jimmy Ellis. Patterson's last fight was a 7th round knockout loss to Ali on September 20, 1972.

In retirement, Patterson became chairman of the New York state Athletic commission while living in New Paltz, New York.

Patterson always prided himself by saying "I got knocked down more than any champion and I got up more than every champion." Patterson had a great career and was considered the fastest heavyweight ever until Muhammad Ali burst onto the scene. He had a record of 55-8-1, with 40 wins by knockout.

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Floyd Patterson
1935-2006

From Russia with Gloves

May 9, 2006

Stop me if this sounds familiar: America's heavyweight hopes rest on the shoulders of a boxer nicknamed "the Rock" while the contenders are Russians.

No, this isn't the plot of Rocky VI. It's simply the current state of affairs in the heavyweight division.

With Hasim Rahman's WBC belt, there is currently only one American heavyweight champion. Eastern Europe/Russia is home to the other three major heavyweight championships: Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine (IBF), Sergei Liakhovich of Belarus (WBO) and Russian Nicolay Valuev (WBA). There are also a few Eastern European prospects that could eventually make some noise in the heavyweight division. Here's a look at the current champs and the up-and-comers:


Wladimir Klitschko (Ukraine)
**Current IBF heavyweight champion**
46-3 (41 KOs)
30 years old

The younger brother of former world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir himself was one of boxing's biggest draws before being knocked out by to Corrie Sanders (2nd round in March 2003) and Lamon Brewster (5th round in April 2004). Recent wins over Samuel Peter and Chris Byrd (for a second time) not only gave him a championship, but has vaulted him back to the top of the heavyweight division.

For a big man, Klitschko possesses good speed and mobility, as well as an improved technique since bringing Emanuel Steward into his corner. Klitschko is also well-spoken, so he's fairly easy to market. As an entire package, he's not only one of the most appreciated heavyweights, but also one of the most respected. He wants to unify the division and has as good of a chance as any current heavyweight.

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Sergei Liakhovich (Belarus)
**Current WBO heavyweight champion**
23-1 (14 KOs)
29 years old

Liakhovich scored a huge upset in April when he defeated then WBO champion Lamon Brewster by unanimous decision. In doing so, his name was instantly thrust into the debate of "Who is the top heavyweight today?"

Liakhovich first came onto the scene when he beat then-undefeated Friday Ahunanya for the minor NABA heavyweight title on the undercard for the Lennox Lewis-Hasim Rahman fight at Mandalay Bay in November 2001.

His record — albeit it against weak opponents until recently (Brewster and a ten-round unanimous decision over Dominick Guinn in 2004) — and current heavyweight belt shows "The White Wolf" can be a serious threat in the division, especially how wide open it has become.

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Nikolay Valuev (Russia)
**Current WBA heavyweight champion**
43-0 (31 KOs)
32 years old

Don't let the title and the gaudy record fool you: Valuev is nothing more than a traveling sideshow act. At 7'0" and 320 pounds, he towers over opponents and with his hirsute body and B-movie bad guy looks, Valuev seems terribly imposing and like a legitimate boxer. Look no further than his next fight to see otherwise.

In his first title defense since beating a quickly-declining John Ruiz in December 2005 for the WBA title, Valuev will face Jamaican-born Owen "What the Heck" Beck, a fluff opponent at best, in June. Beck has never defeated anyone decent and his two loses come from his two toughest competitors, Ray Austin and Monte Barrett. Almost all of Valuev's fights have also taken place in Germany or Russia, fighting in the United States only twice in his career. When "the Beast from the East" meets a worthy opponent and/or trainer — I firmly believe even an average contender with the right game plan could defeat Valuev — he will soon lose and become another come-and-gone prize fighter.

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Denis Boytsov (Russia)
13-0 (13 KOs)
20 years old

Boytsov is very young, but looking at his record and knockouts (nine first-round KOs!), he shows some serious promise. Uzbekistan boxer Ruslan Chagaev (see next entry) is known as "White Tyson," but that nickname might be better suited for Boystov. Boytsov almost never jabs and like Tyson, he does all his damage inside and has a championship-caliber hook. Boystov is one to watch as he faces tougher competition in the next few years.

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Ruslan Chagaev (Uzbekistan)
20-0-1 (16 KOs)
27 years old

For a boxer, having a good nickname is half the battle. Chagaev earned his — White Tyson — for his aggressive, crowd-pleasing style. Chagaev likes to work the body and has serious knockout power and most importantly, he has a very good chin.

Chagaev is on way to a legit heavyweight title shot. The 6'1", 230-pound southpaw recently won two Inter-Continental championships (WBO and WBA) when he beat then-undefeated Vladimir Virchis in March. The draw on his record is from a fight against Rob Calloway in 2002. The fight was stopped after three rounds due to a cut on Calloway caused by a head butt. Chagaev had a rematch in five months ago and knocked out Calloway in the second round.

Chagaev had an impressive resume as an amateur — two-time world champion and 2000 Olympian — but I'm still weary of his prospects, as he's only had 21 professional fights at age 27. Chagaev's next fight could be one step away from a major heavyweight title opportunity.

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Alexander Dimitrenko (Ukraine)
21-0 (12 KOs)
23 years old

Dimitrenko is my favorite current Eastern European boxer and has all the makings of a serious heavyweight contender. Nicknamed "Baby Face," Dimitrenko, who stands at a chiseled 6'7", reminds me of the famous Rocky villain Ivan Drago. Most of the boxing world sees comparisons to the Klitschkos.

In 2004, Dimitrenko faced Ross Puritty, the fighter who handed Wladimir Klitschko his first professional defeat. Dimitrenko won the bout over Puritty by decision. Dimitrenko trains with Fritz Zdunek, who used to train the Klitschkos.

There are questions about his chin (again, similar to the Klitschkos) but in the fight he was knocked down, he got up and ended up winning the fight. Dimitrenko is still rather raw, but he's well on his way to stardom.

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Sultan Ibragimov (Russia)
19-0 (16 KOs)
31 years old

One of two Ibragimovs (cousin Timur graces the list below), Sultan is a decent boxer who's flawless record and minor belt (WBO Asia Pacific heavyweight title) tend to over-inflate his potential. Sultan has faced very weak competition — last five opponents brought a total of 38 losses into the ring — and has less than twenty professional fights to his credit. What Sultan, as a hard-hitting southpaw, does have working for him is an aggressive style who poses match-up problems. Both Ibragimovs are trained by the legendary Panama Lewis. He also proved his worth when he took home silver in the 2000 Olympics.

Unfortunately for Sultan, it appears Timur is on the clearer track to reaching a title shot. Sultan needs to string together several impressive wins over legit opponents before earning the same respect. The recently-announced bout against Samuel Peter is a good start.

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Timur Ibragimov (Uzbekistan)
21-0-1 (13 KOs)
31 years old

Timur is hard hitting and Shannon Briggs can attest to that. In 2005, Timur was brought in to spar with Briggs and in the fourth round Briggs was knocked out by a big right hand, wearing headgear and all.

Timur could find himself atop the heavyweight division with the other Eastern European boxers, considering his next opponent, Calvin Brock, is often referred to as the next great American heavyweight. Both bring their perfect records into the ring and the winner will most likely be considered the best current heavyweight without a belt.

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Oleg Maskaev (Kazakhstan)
32-5 (25 KOs)
37 years old

Maskaev is old and has five losses to his record, but he makes this list because he's facing Hasim Rahman in August with the WBC heavyweight title on the line. He's fought against Rahman before and won (8th-round KO in 1999) and he was impressive when he knocked out former heavyweight champ Alex Stewart in 1997, but the rest of his career has been pretty shoddy, at best. All of his loses have come way of knockout, by Oliver McCall, David Tua, Kirk Johnson, Lance Whitaker, and most recently, Corey Sanders in 2002. It's been a long road back to respect for Maskaev and it's finally paid off with the title shot.

A win would give him a world championship and a few more days in the sun, along with some good sized paydays. That said, a loss to Rahman and an impending retirement are more likely.

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Alexander Povetkin (Russia)
7-0 (5 KOs)
26 years old

Meet the kid who knocked out Muhammed Ali in the second round. Okay, maybe it wasn't the Muhammed Ali but rather the German boxer with with the losing record who shares his name with "the Greatest."

All joking aside, Povetkin is the least experienced professional fighter on this list, but he's well worthy of consideration as he won the gold medal in the 2000 Athens Olympics in the super heavyweight division. His amateur record also speaks volumes: a national title, European title, Asian title, and finally a world title in 2003.Povetkin has been fighting professionally less than a year, but he's already 7-0 and showing his combination of speed and power that he used in the Olympics. Povetkin is very green but has a bright future in the heavyweight division.

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Vladimir Virchis (Ukraine)
20-1 (17 KOs)
32 years old

Virchis is a big (6'5", 250 pounds), slow target but has the incredible knack for knocking out his opponents, which earned him a spot on this list. "The Hunter" is a big time puncher, so he could be a spoiler against a better opponent. The problem is, not many boxers would want to take that chance, leaving Virchis out in the cold, which is probably where he belongs anyway. Virchis' lone lose came to Ruslan Chagaev in March. A victory would have increased future chances, but alas, Virchis remains just another boxer behind a long, long list of greater talents, Eastern European and otherwise.

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For more on the top heavyweights, check out JE Boxing's rundown of the divison, from top to bottom.