Episode 2: Unfinished Business

The best time of the week! Time for the rematch…

In this episode, Jarrett and Rudy break down “Unfinished Business,” the March 15th, 2008 rematch between Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao. We revisit the time and place of that night, analyzing the sonic choices of each fighter and the deeper cultural meaning surrounding that night. We break down the rounds of the fight, the result, and judges’ scorecards. We debate the true subjectivity of scoring that is ever so present in the (bitter) sweet science.

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Published by Anchor, we are also available as “The Split Draw” on Breaker, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic, Pocketcasts, and iTunes.

Episode 1: “Hearts and Fists on Fire”

In this episode, Jarrett and Rudy break down the May 8th, 2004 fight, which promoters named “Hearts and Fists on Fire.” In this first meeting of Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao, we revisit the time and place of that night, the moments leading up to that fight, and how we remembered it. We break down the rounds of the fight, the result, and the controversial judges’ scorecards. We share our personal scorecards and how we called it, setting you up for the next episode where we discuss the rematch.

Now available by Anchor, we are also available as “The Split Draw” on Breaker, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic, Pocketcasts, and iTunes.

Allow us to Re-introduce Ourselves

It’s been a while…

But we’re back, surviving a pandemic with a new concept for the bloodmoneyboxing fans, re-imagining our content in a new medium – Podcasts.

In this limited series, your hosts Rudy Mondragón and Jarrett Bato relive each fight of the infamous Pacquiao and Marquez rivalry. We launch on Tuesdays each week, with our first episode now live introducing this new limited series.

Published by Anchor, we are also available as “The Split Draw” on Breaker, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic, Pocketcasts, and iTunes.

Thoughts at end of the 2017 year… and BJS wins over Lemieux

I decided to write today because I was able to catch the replay of Billy Joe Saunders’ impressive win over David Lemieux. This was a fight that I am really grateful came the way it it did to close out an impressive year of fights (sorry Naoye, it’s not like your Dec 30 fight was put there for you to lose 😏) but also highlights some of the repeating sins of boxing. Really makes me reflect on the rebounding health of the sport despite the way boxing industry and audiences wants to ruin things sometimes.

This time of year always makes me want to reflect on boxing’s highlights and this was a big one, a very welcome reflection given a very tough year for America in particular. Boxing’s global platform really helped distract me this year and there’s so much to look back and remember about boxing’s great moments of the year.

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This past April was arguably the best moment to talk about Boxing 2017, when Anthony Joshua took over the throne from Wladmir Klitschko. Bravery, grit, determination was not only on the pay-per-view screen, but bubbling in my soul as the 11th round started and ended with Joshua’s fist raised. The UK’s cup poureth over, and it wasn’t hard for me to bandwagon and look over the pond to enjoy the new heavyweight champ’s coronation. The respect between the two fighters afterward is what the sport is all about, and to me the undisputed fight of the year as we’re still reeling over the greatness of this fight.

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After that in May, Andre Ward put away Kovalev again in a rematch that made me really believe in the spirit of old school boxing. Ward doesn’t fight with anger but with grace. He doesn’t respond in spite, but with determination. He doesn’t doubt his preparation, and fears no man. This is old-school boxing, and the fact that Kovalev, a boxer that at the first fight I was definitely backing, did not recognize or respect these truths really disappointed me. Andre retired after this fight which inflamed Kovalev even more. The actions and words of Andre’s opponent really put a blemish on this fight but can’t deny that the rematch really made a mark on my 2017.

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The last fight that I think made a mark on my 2017 was September 16th’s Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez. A true gift to the fans and it didn’t disappoint. Gennady’s trademark focus and grit went to another impossibly high level and Canelo also prepared for us a new level of slickness and art, but could not move the Kazakh Mountain. Bored commentators wanted to see signs of GGG’s aging or tried to unnecessarily elevate Canelo’s slickness, but all they did was ruin the fight. What this fight did to me was firstly, welcome Canelo into the stacked middleweight class, and cement GGG’s growing legacy.

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I want to offer some consolation too for a fight that also left a mark on my 2017 but for a different, more somber reason. Nobody died, but the media certainly made it feel like it was so, because on the same date above, the darling of the super flyweights, Roman Gonzales was stopped by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The distance Roman fell because of this fight seemed insurmountable, and I was confused. Why were we ignoring the massive amount of wins this man had given us in previous years? Why can’t we just watch him bounce back in his next fight? He lost one fight, and yet to boxing media, his career is post mortum.

This is what I meant about the repeating sins of boxing industry and the boxing audiences. The boxing sport has two sides, two very different sides that must co-exist peacefully for an audience to truly appreciate the sacrifices our heroes, our fighters must go through to fight in the world stage. Boxing is a sport that is primal and can be rudimentary, sure, but that’s only an easily interpretable gateway to a sport that is rich with history and emotion. It really is like dancing to me, an art that you can just appreciate on the surface and deep in its soul simultaneously. We really shouldn’t turn our back to fighters that have lost, we should celebrate their fights and encourage their return or celebrate whatever else they would want to do.

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Billy Joe Saunders vaulted into the elite of the middleweights last night with 12 rounds of old-school, UK-boxing that sets the end of the year and gives Canelo something to think about. Another sin of Boxing being that the darlings of the sport today treat fight announcements like album releases (Co-founder Rudy Mondragon and I call it the Fuckboi-effect) and consequently their careers like rap-labels. That’s why it was refreshing for BJS to come in the ring with confidence overflowing, disregarding Lemieux’s now tired intimidation tactics to embarrass him for 12 rounds and what could’ve been 15, if they would let Saunders fight it. This fight might be a footnote for a stacked 2017 year but its a fight that really preps me for 2018.

Canelo is taking his sweet time as De La Hoya’s darling after the embarrassment of announcing his fight with GGG right after skipping rope with Chavez Jr. who just showed up for a paycheck. He had already called out the winner of BJS and Lemieux unnecessarily so he can wait for GGG’s senility to give him a win late 2018. The way BJS fought last night? I really hope De La Hoya and Canelo’s plans get severely ruined in 2018. As for BJS, I hope his evolution continues as he’s going to need it for his rise in 2018.

This year I want to thank my 2017 Boxing tastemakers who will undoubtedly continue to be the visionaries of boxing for 2018: co-founder Rudolfo Mondragon, BBC Boxing, SundayPuncher, LeeWylie, Reznick, OfficeHanchoBoxing, Sweetfights, Lalosboxing, Boxingego, and the rest of the awesome “You-don’t-know-shit-about-boxing” community. It’s going to be hard to top 2017 but man, you know I can’t wait for it.

Very Superstitious

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Boxing is underrated as a superstition sport. At the limit, all sports can elicit a sense of religion when it comes to game time, with the players and the audience having rituals to ensure a fortunate outcome, if at least peace of mind.

Boxing is 99% preparation, with that last 1% being the Gods of Chaos. Consistency, albeit not being overtly rewarded, is actually the sign of a great boxer, trainer, or boxing team, implementing a game plan repeatedly despite a varied opposition. Nacho Beristein trained Ricardo “Finito” Lopez to 51-0-1 and retired undefeated. As he was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2006, he wouldn’t name his prospects not of secrecy but of superstition of his luck finally running out with his fighters. Fierce consistency is the name of the game, fighting against the Gods of Chaos is what these fighters do day in and day out, despite a fight date and the drama that can unfold.

The media however, has other plans. The Mayweather and McGregor fight this weekend is a mismatch by all accounts, but it does in the end find its way to worm in the superstition factor. 50-0 is a lot of fights to go undefeated…McGregor is a self-proclaimed God of Chaos if any boxer could try to pin a moniker on an opponent like Conor. Mayweather has seen a lot, but has he seen everything? Does McGregor have any secrets to his advantage?

Mayweather has too many advantages. He’s arguably old school as old school comes, with a clean bill of health backing his religious and intensive training regimen that perhaps never took a break despite his retirement. But he’s grown up under the lights that shined for 3 more championship rounds. He’s grown up seeing the Iron Mike do the impossible, and what more, Holyfield having the mettle to stay a professional and keep going despite the ear-bite.

Maybe McGregor has to venture into ear-bite territory to try to fluster the master. Maybe something else will happen completely. But to overcome a mountain of miles, rounds, within the rules of boxing? Near impossible in my view.

But of course BMB family is going to be the contrarian for this weekend’s fight night. We’re just here to help folks enjoy boxing. Here’s hoping that Mayweather could show us the way, and honestly the BEST case scenario is that we have a new welterweight to shake shit up. It would be awesome if McGregor could move to boxing full time, he certainly has the talent, and with a boxing stamina, he could be the God of Chaos we need in boxing.

The Case for Chavez Jr.

Special thanks to Hip Hop Artist Speak! AKA Speaky Maidana, an avid boxing fan, for his contribution to this article.

We’re only a few days away from the “Cinco de Mayo Weekend” bout between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and the media machine that is Golden Boy Boxing promotions has been pumping out sound bites and statements to give it a more enticing element to what some consider to be a one-sided fight. Golden Boy’s Canelo Alvarez has been keeping busy calling Jr. a ‘little kid’, playing mind games that he isn’t usually known for.  He’s the favored boxer, in many aspects, and is boasting about being the ‘A’ side of the fight.  He holds the Vegas odds in his favor, has a larger fan base, and is arguably the reigning ‘Mexican People’s Champion’.  This bout seems to be a pit stop for Canelo, a warm up, before he takes on Gennady Golovkin, the man no one seems to want to box.

In the timeline of Mexican boxing, anything that occurred before Julio Cesar Chavez can be thought of as exactly that, BC. Since then, there have been many Mexican boxers that have raised their glove, and said, “I’m next”.  Marco Antonio Barrera.  Erik “Terrible” Morales.  Juan Manuel Marquez.  Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.  Another of those who raised their glove was the Mexican superstar’s namesake, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.   Along with his brother Omar, both young men decided to follow in their father’s footsteps.  As Paul Navarro breaks down in his article Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and the Burden of Legacy, “Growing up in the shadow of greatness is a burden known to very few.  Growing up in the shadow of the greatest Mexican fighter to ever live is a burden known to even fewer, and a burden that none can realistically hope to live up to.” This has been the story of Julio Cezar Chavez Jr. throughout his career.

Much like the Jordan brothers did in basketball, the Chavez brothers had very big shoes to fill. It’s not uncommon to find father and son professional athlete legacies, but it’s quite another to see an heir be able to live up to a father that is arguably the very best in their respective sports.  On that note, I don’t envy soccer star Lionel Messi’s sons, Mateo and Thiago, as they will undoubtedly be scrutinized from the very first time they kick a ball in any competitive match.  Chavez Jr. is no exception to this rule.  He and his father have always had a tumultuous relationship.  In an interview with Showtime, Chavez Jr. would recall how his father, at that time battling substance abuse, would pay street kids to fight/box his sons in a makeshift ring.  Chavez Sr. was near the tail end of his career, his biggest fight being that of substance abuse and past demons, one that he was losing.  Initially, he said he did not want his son’s to follow his footsteps.  They had everything they ever needed, living a lifestyle that their father never had growing up in a working class family in Sinaloa.  Most people didn’t take Chavez Jr. serious about wanting to follow his father’s footsteps.

“Chavez has always been perceived as an entitled brat with a famous last name…” – Speak!

And yet, Chavez went at it. He has had a respectable career by most standards, but has been a complete washout in comparison to his father, the standard bearer in Mexican boxing.  He has stated that, at different points in his career, people didn’t believe in him, even members of his immediate family.  That has been part of his motivation to box, to win, and to prove the doubters wrong.  But, as his father did before him, he also fell for many of life’s temptations and vices.  He has had various incidents with alcohol and marijuana, as well as constant accusations from various trainers for his lack of discipline.  His inability to make weight for bouts has cost him in the past, and the times he’s made weight, he has looked drained and lost power.  It seems like everything is stacked against Chavez.

“You can’t fake power or having a sturdy chin, and Chavez has a world-class beard.” – Speak!

On the opposite side of the ring is the current WBO light middleweight champion, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Canelo is the youngest of the Alvarez brothers, all professional boxers.  His background is more in tune with what most working class Mexican’s can relate to.  He grew up in a farm to a humble family, moving to the city in his youth.  While he didn’t live in poverty, he didn’t have it as easy as the Chavez family.  He was bullied as a child for his red hair and has stated that was one big motivator for him joining his brothers in the ring.  Another thing that can’t be disputed is his popularity.  For context, Mexico’s most followed sport is soccer.  During the 2012 Olympic Soccer final of Mexico v Brazil, Televisa reported 19 million viewers.  Canelo Alvarez pulled 26 million viewers in his bout against Shane Mosley.

 “Canelo’s best wins are over an old Cotto and a much smaller Khan.” – Speak!

As Golden Boy’s “Golden Boy”, Canelo has had his bouts selected to maximize profit and limit risk. He famously vacated the WBC belt only a year ago because he did not want to fight GGG as promised.  It would seem that De la Hoya’s team learned a lot from his defeat to Money Mayweather in 2013 and have since taken an ever cautious, and irritating, approach to setting Canelo up for fights he can clearly win.

It looks like a tall order for Chavez Jr. to compete, let alone defeat Canelo. But, he has a special game plan for victory, crafted by the legendary trainer Nacho Beristain. Nacho has stated that he wants Chavez Jr. to stick to his game plan and not get into a slugging match.  He’s convinced that, with his guidance, Chavez can rock Canelo and get an upset.  His main concern is that Chavez Jr. will come at Canelo face-on and get into a slugging match.  The common belief is that, other than by way of knock-out, the heavily favored Canelo Alvarez would likely win if it goes to the cards.

An overconfident champion. An underdog with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Who else has seen this story before? Sports are built for upsets, and this is the perfect situation to get the most out of Chavez Jr., with his father recently saying, “It’s going to be a tough fight.  Both of them are going to go neck and neck… however I know how Junior prepares – his discipline and his mentality – will decide how he wins the fight.”

Chavez Jr. will never match his father. He’s had some good fight against stiff competition, but he never dominated the sport the way his father has.  Given that he’s already expected to lose, there’s nowhere to go but up.  It’s his day, his time, and only he knows if he’s going to take his shot and show the world he’s worthy of the Chavez name.  I’ll leave you with one last thought, which best summarizes what a Chavez win would symbolize:

“IF Chavez can focus and get his weight under control, he can pull off an upset. It’s a huge chance to change the public’s opinion of him and wave the flag as Mexico’s top fighter, which means more than any world title.” – Speak!

 

Essence Historic: Practice vs. Talent

It always pains me to think about boxing. To practice in boxing’s ways, which is plainly a good healthy practice of life, is about pain. It’s about constant, free movement. It’s about intentionality in all movement from head to toe. It’s about combining your eyes and instinct like calm water in one instant, and then like a strike of lightning in the next. It’s about feeling worldly, human, truth-telling pain, while another voice ignores it to reach for deeper power.  It’s about feeling every source of strength and sending a blow concentrated in human’s most underrated tool, the fist of hand. It’s exhilarating to practice, and it’s even more exciting seeing the best in the world succeed, innovate, and compete at the world level.

But not only in practice, but also in theory it pains me to think about boxing. To me, the health of competition of the sport is how much the greats of the sport regard its competition today. And when you see some of the American greats look to the past instead of towards the future, they lament on how the rules, the players, the organizations, the game… they don’t regard Boxing as the same as it once was. Why hasn’t it caught on? Where are the undisputed world champions of our day?

Some confirmation bias however, as you can expect from the BMB historian. History is always shinier. However, let me introduce to you one of the greatest Lightweight World Champions, US Virgin Islands very first world champion Livingstone Bramble. Fighting at a time of competition where he had beat Ray Mancini twice, he also went on to fight the likes of Tyrone Crawley, Roger Mayweather, and Kostya Tszyu. He was a talented, purposeful, graceful but gritty fighter. He has a very pragmatic reason to why he hasn’t paid attention to recent champions other than the retired champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. He simply says the talent is not there.

We’re not putting amateurs out there. We’re not winning gold medals. And it’s not even just the United States, the whole world. Years ago, when a guy won the gold medal you know he was going to win the world championship.

That’s not happening. We’re not getting that no more…We still searching for that.

As for me, it’s nice to play around and practice my jab, straight right, hooks, and my foot placement. I end up looking at old youtube videos on repeat in hopes of getting a glimpse of understanding of the excellence of Boxing as a martial art from the greats like Livingstone Bramble. Will we continue looking in the past for true talent in boxing? Or is the best yet to come? Whatever happens, I thank Dr. Doo for Livingstone Bramble, and the YouTube boxing community for documenting the greats of the past. Here’s hoping we find them all in the future.

My thanks to Hustle Boss and SweetFights for the great videos.

HANDS OF STONE REVIEW: Watch on Netflix

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Hands of Stone: The Humanity of Roberto Duran & Panamanian Anti-Imperial Politics
Film Review*

By Rudy Mondragon
Twitter: @boxingintellect

Hands of Stone is a movie that should have been made a long time ago. It is an important biographical film about Panamanian professional boxer, Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez), directed and written by Jonathan Jakubowicz. What is significant about the film is that it situates Duran as the protagonist. It is rooted within Panama’s political climate and United States manifest destiny imperialism of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, which allows for the unveiling of Duran’s complex humanity.

The last film that shed light on the life of Duran was ESPN’s No Más documentary, which actually focused on Sugar Ray Leonard. The film explored Duran and Leonard’s heated rivalry, seeking the truth behind Duran’s infamous “quitting” in the 8th round of their 1980 rematch. In the end, the documentary more so served as a healing process for Leonard, who felt he never got his due credit for beating Duran in their rematch.

Hands of Stone is all about Duran, starting in 1971 when he defeated Benny Huertas at the Madison Square Garden. This was a turning point in Duran’s career as he first met Hall of Fame boxing trainer, Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro). The film ends with Duran beating Davey Moore for the World Boxing Association Super Welterweight title in 1983. Although the film does not mention it, Duran would eventually go on to be regarded as one of the best lightweights of all time.

The flashbacks in the film are important because they take us back to Duran’s formative childhood. Through them we are able to better understand Duran’s upbringing and political development. The January 9, 1964 Martyrs’ Day Riot for example, is shown as having a direct impact on Duran. At the time of the conflict, Duran was 12 years old. United States soldiers killed 21 Panamanians, mostly students, who resisted US occupation and protested over sovereignty of the Panama Canal. Not only did Duran grow up poor, but he also had a first hand account of the harsh realities of US manifest destiny and geopolitical imperialism in Panama.

The film also captures heartfelt scenes that illuminate Panamanian moral victories over US power. This is what makes Hands of Stone a politically charged sports film rather than just a watered down movie about a sport. In one scene, Duran yells at a US officer, “You in jail!” With this, Duran was expressing his awareness of the affects of the mental and physical colonization that was taking place in his homeland. In calling out their false sense of power, the future world champion was signaling the need for US military officers to liberate themselves from being used as imperial tools for a greedy, money hungry US government.

The rivalry between Duran and Leonard is more than just sport. It symbolized an opportunity for Panamanian’s to resist US power and colonialism. Duran’s hate for Leonard stemmed from his political disgust with US foreign policy, occupation, and control of the Panama Canal. In order to achieve a victory over the US, Duran would need to beat their idol: The Golden Boy, Sugar Ray Leonard. This is the fascinating part of boxing. Boxing rivalries are not just about two fighters who are pinned against each other in the ring. Boxing rivalries embody nations, political ideologies, power, and enacted identities that are used to spark the emotions and alliances of fans.

Hands of Stone is victorious in providing the necessary context to see beyond the popular narrative that Duran was simply a savage beast that hated Leonard. Their rivalry was deeper than that. Duran, who once said “The poor are born happy,” was not at all thrilled to make acquaintances with the corporate friendly fighter that Leonard once was and represented. For Duran, Leonard was implicated in US power and domination. For a short moment, Duran’s victory over Leonard united the people of Panama because it symbolized a moral victory over the Yankees.

The cinematography beautifully captured and retold the story of what took place in their 1980 matches. At times I was not sure if I was watching a movie or actual fight footage from Duran and Leonard’s fights. From Duran shoving Leonard at the end of the 15th round, to Leonard unleashing two body shots at Duran as he walked away, the ring action truly showed why boxing is a like a sacred choreographed dance. The film showed the intimacy and personal relationship prizefighters share inside the squared circle. Fighters give each other their best efforts and as a result, they develop unique bonds inside and outside the ring.

Beyond the taunts, shoves, insults, and animosity, Hands of Stone demonstrates the unique and intimate relationship that Leonard and Duran will always share, a relationship that people outside of boxing can never fully understand.

*Originally posted September 19, 2016

Angel Garcia: Boxing in the Era of Trump

By Rudy Mondragón
Twitter: @boxingintellect

The January 18 press conference for the highly anticipated March 4 showdown between Keith “One Time” Thurman and Danny “Swift” Garcia showed how Trumpism is seeping into the bloodstream of the sweet science. Politics is indeed not separate from the sporting world.

At the press conference, Angel Garica, father and trainer of Danny Garcia, took over by engaging in trash talking and mental warfare against Thurman. This is part of the game. Danny Garcia is not the trash talking type, he does his talking in the ring and often presents himself as a professional in front of the media. This might be why his father does so much of the trash talking, knowing well that it creates a drama that helps promote the spectacle of boxing.

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What took place at the press conference was Trumpism rearing its disgusting faces of anti-immigration, jingoism (hyper-patriotism), and sexism. Notice I did not use racism, although that is an additional facet of Trumpism. Many media figures are quick to say that Angel’s use of the N-word (See video below) was a disgusting example of racism. I disagree as the media has not substantially explained why it is an example of racism. For them, it is simply a headline.

Angel’s use of the N-word is more so an example of a light skinned Puerto Rican man from North Philly who has more than likely used the N-word within a cultural context of understanding. For many people I have spoken to over the years, the use of the N-word by Latino peoples is used with an understanding that the word holds a great deal of historical weight. The use of that word is directed at people where mutual love exists. Some have even told me that the word is only used towards people they would be willing to die for and kill for. In other words, the N-word, used within a cultural context of mutual love, understanding, and respect, has a totally different meaning than Angel’s use of it at the press conference.

This is not to say that I excuse Angel’s use of it. Using the word outside its cultural context opens up the meaning of the word for many interpretations, racism being one of them. But its more complex than that. The tone and intention of the way Angel used it was not racist. But his use of it in public promotes a misunderstanding and disregard of the historical use of a word that has been used by white men with racial and economic power during slavery for example. A word that has been historically used as a tool to stigmatize and negatively label black people in relation to white people and white supremacy. It also signals to people that the N-word can be used irresponsibly, ignoring the dark legacy of the word.

Angel’s use of the word in public also impacts and offends black people who do not have a personal connection to the user of the word. Though Angel’s use of the word was not intended to hurt anyone, the impact of that word, outside its cultural context, can have offensive affects on people. That is how powerful that word remains today. I would bet money that Angel would not use that word in a completely new setting with black folks he did not know. The reason for this is it is outside of his cultural context, involving new people that he does not know. The use of the N-word in that new context would be a form of disrespect because there is no mutual bond or connection to the people of that cultural space.

Although I say his use of the N-word was not intended to disrespect Keith Thurman (I would argue “Bitch ass” and “My son gonna fuck you up” intended to disrespect and challenge Keith), a question still remains to be answered. As a bi-racial man who is read as black, what impact did Angel’s use of the N-word have on Keith Thurman? This is an important dynamic that has not been explored.

Trumpism reared its nasty faces in the form of anti-immigration, jingoism (hyper-patriotism), and sexism. When I first met Angel back in 2014, he shared his thoughts on immigrants and boxing. This is something that Angel has been passionate about, the idea that Americans should fight Americans only. This echoes Trump’s philosophy that he recently shared in his inauguration speech: “Buy American and hire American.” Angel Garcia embodied this idea when he said that the only respect he has for his son’s opponent is that he is an American fighter. Ironically, Angel Garcia is of Puerto Rican descent, which has a long colonial history with the US as Puerto Rico remains a colony and unincorporated territory of the US. Despite that imperial legacy, Angel presents himself as a staunch supporter of Trump.

Towards the end of the presser, Angel had this to say:“God bless America. Where Donald Trump at? Come get him. I want to see Trump. Trump, where are you? Make America great again.”Need I say more? To my knowledge, this is the first clear example in 2017 that demonstrates Trump politics entering the sphere of boxing. It is ugly and contradictory of boxing as this sport has historically recruited poor black and brown fighters from all over the world. It is a sport that exploits people and denies them of basic employee benefits. Boxing heads who stand for Trump makes little sense to me. It seems more fitting that boxers would stand United Against Trump.

After Angel’s Donald Trump rant, he finished off by directing some harsh words towards boxing publicist, Kelly Swanson. I’m sure Swanson told Angel to knock it off, that is her job after all. I think it would have been better if Angel had simply ignored her plea, but rather than let it go, Angel directed harsh words towards this woman by saying, “I’ll jack you up!” Actions like this should not be normal and accepted. This is not what it means to be a man. Yet, under the new presidential regime, it does not seem like sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny will be challenged or dismantled (the people will continue these efforts despite Trump’s lack of care and conviction on these serious matters). As recently as this morning, Trump disregarded the powerful Women’s Marches that took place across the nation yesterday. Not to mention Trumps history with male entitlement over women’s bodies and their right to choice. Given these disturbing times, the question of what it means to practice healthy forms of masculinity is critical!

As mentioned earlier, the ideas that Angel Garcia has about immigration and his hyper-patriotism is nothing new. The question I leave readers with is to what extent do the beliefs and words of Donald Trump provide a green light for conservative and hate filled ideas to emerge? In response to his dad’s theatrics, Danny Garcia stated “I’ve heard Trump say Worse!” This may be true, but Angel Garcia nonetheless echoes many of the toxic ideas that we see in Trump.

As a boxing expert, fan, and critic, I also question the art of trash talking. Can trash talking manifest within reason, innovation, and creativity? Riding the curtails of hate speech to inform one’s engagement in mental warfare against one’s opponent is a misuse of a high status platform. The boxing world can do better. I believe it can.

Essence Historic: 15 rounds for brutal magic


My essence historic series kicks off from being reminded of long discussion about rounds with my uncle and about the fights he looks forward to in 2017. Last weekend’s rematch of LSC and Frampton was one of them. And like a light switch I was violently pulled from staring at the burning dumpster fire that is our American life under Trump, and was reminded of what was cool about boxing. The laser focus of Leo to pull off such a disciplined fight from the veteran instinct Frampton used to sweep the first fight was inspiring. Leo was fast, crisp, purposeful and always in motion. It watching fights like these that makes the rounds fly by, suddenly looking up and realizing that there’s only two more rounds left. You could see Carl finding gaps and Leo momentarily getting caught in the same traps set in the first fight. The rematch ends, a third is instantly paid for, and I’m reminded of my uncle’s parting words of why he’d rather be pleasantly surprised than look forward to any fight in 2017.

https://twitter.com/bloodmoneyboxin/status/825568062900359168

“There isn’t a culture competitive heavyweights, and belts mean less since the change from 15 to 12 rounds”

To my uncle and many folks, the competitive landscape in the 70s and early 80s brought a sense of real urgency when the undisputed champion put his belt on the line for 15 rounds. Not only were matchups tantalizing in unpredictable ways, the flow of the fight has the potential to drastically change when months of preparation is culminated in the first round, the 12th round and the 15th round. A fella can change strategy, emotion, or simply get knocked in the mouth with heavyweight power. Since the time Ali roamed the land we’ve never seen a crop of legends sprout so high, and all on American soil. I guess if you got to enjoy that boxing period you would have to be crazy to compare that to today’s boxing. But was it because of 15 rounds or the period? I’m here to break down the context of the change.

It was November 1982, and the headline above, “Tragedy,” set off a series of events that gave Jose Sulaiman no choice but to buckle against a jerk reaction from mainstream calls to end “barbaric” boxing. Rather risk further mainstream persecution Sulaiman took out his large brush and swept 15 rounds to twelve. Sulaiman actually also proposed 90 seconds between rounds but I presume critics were pleased with his sacrifice.

However, Mancini, from Washington, called the round reduction ”a farce” and said he preferred the 15-round title bouts. ”The W.B.C. has given in to the public and critics who have called boxing barbaric,” he said. ”I hope the W.B.A. does not give in.” – Dec 9, 1982. NY Times

“My reaction is one of happiness that a world organization is moving toward boxing safety by taking a first step,” said Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, the Miami physician who supervises many boxing matches and is a commentator for NBC. “But this (12-round limit) is no cure-all or panacea,” he said. “It will not stop boxing fatalities.” Dec 10, 1982. Washington Post

Fighters like Scott Quigg agree. Fighters like Carl Frampton disagree. – Reddit

After looking back and looking forward, I feel torn. In that moment, boxing sport was being threatened. For leaders in the sport they love, I can understand why taking drastic action seemed so necessary for survival. Not only action, they needed symbolism. It needed a vote of confidence for the safety of boxers. Decreasing the total time boxers are at risk to get hurt was logical. (Of course people will say, “Of course!”) But will simple but sweeping changes address real problems with boxing injuries? Will it bring more attention to needs of the sport? Will it change the hearts of mainstream audiences that already thought boxing was barbaric?

In that sense I say no. The change arguably steals rounds from fighters like Scott Quigg, or Provodnikov (remember him?) which is unfortunate but probably for the better lest they want to be remembered as the one who got brain damage/broken jaw/black piss. What was good to revisit and remember is the context of the extreme mental toughness of fighters that prepared for all 15. That was a glorious time and it will and should be even more revered as so. But let’s not forget that our current amateur boxing’s finest brothers and sisters lace them up and prepare for each and every round as if it’s their last, and we have to recognize the risk and art of of doing it for 8 rounds as much as 4. (Protect yourself at ALL times.) There will be no shortage of golden moments in boxing so long as there is hope in great champions like Leo Santa Cruz and Roman Gonzales (though like our phones, I guess our champions are miniaturizing). Plus, as for boxing reform there are arguably bigger fish to fry (ahem, matchmaking, ahem). What I’ve learned in this segment of Essence Historic is the art of nuance in history. Seems like as we progress graceful nuance always trumps severe, irreversible, thoughtless, ignorant, reactions. Lessons learned from history.

So here’s to the future. I’m at peace with 12 rounds but we need more fights like Leo Santa Cruz V. Carl Frampton. Shit give Scott Quig a swing at it.