The Setup and the Punchline

A lot of emotion had been backed up in my life because of the US election, the Vargas-Pacquiao fight, and the Kovalev-Ward fight. But, as Bruce Lee said, “Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.” Therefore I’m pushing through.

Pours one out for the nation

After the election, I fell deep into an inner hole. I might still be in that hole but I’m learning to deal with myself and my faith slowly through the sport of boxing. I read more about the heroes of the sport with a perspective of the times they fought, and revered their courage even more as I imagined their lives outside their actions inside the ring. I have to move on, as they did, but now more than ever will inner courage matter. Boxing heroes like Jack Johnson, Roberto Duran, and yes, Floyd Mayweather Jr. are more than inspiring when courage is concerned. I felt resolved. My eyes furrowed, and my posture steeled, we must stay vigilant.

Vargas vs. Pacquiao

My uncle and I had a spirited discussion of this fight the Monday after, where he persuaded me that religion was negatively affecting Manny’s career as a fighter. As a witness of Manny’s rise since Barrera-Pacquiao, I would agree that his raw instincts in this bloodsport were dulled as his attentions were increasingly directed towards religion, the service to his country, and I would add, money. I would probably change the order of that. Manny is and forever will be one in a million. What we’ve seen in his career is how he was really born to box, and I was satisfied with what I saw as Manny simply having fun in there after finding no threat in what seemed to me was a star-struck Vargas looking forward to the padding of his resume.

Manny seemed to have carried over some defensive techniques learned from Freddie Roach in the Mayweather fight, but blended with that an increased focus to hit Jessie Vargas hard with the best tool he has, the straight left. It’s something new, which basically makes him a more one dimensional fighter if it weren’t for his classic footwork that his opponents can never really train for.

What I’m sad about though is where Manny goes from here. Him taking Jessie’s fight was an OK comeback, but basically has the rest of the welterweight or lightweight class to look forward to. At this point, Manny doesn’t even look forward to anything. He’s probably taking a call from Bob Arum at 8AM Philippines time, “Hey Bob. Oh yea? How much? Ok I’ll take the fight.” This just makes his real retirement in the future all the more bleak if he’s just a puppet to take fights and reap whatever rewards are left for him. I for one will try to keep his legacy intact in my mind.

Kovalev vs. Ward

I’m still shook from this fight, I can’t think of anything else. Full disclosure, I put $60 down on a -160 line for Kovalev this past September in Vegas as simply a vote of confidence in my favorite active fighter in the sport right now. I really believed that we were yet to see the full potential of “Krusher” Kovalev and I could not be happier about the fight Saturday night.

As we might all know by now Ward scored a close but unanimous decision in a brave performance for the S.O.G. As shook as he was from the hard jabs from the twitchy Kovalev (I saw a little of the Tyson Fury in this match, as the nerves and anticipation elevated Sergey’s game when it came to timing and using his length and an awesome gameplan against Andre) Ward came back valiantly by staying 1000% percent disciplined on his style and finishing the fight.

The Virgil Hunter and Andre Ward team was inspiring. From the knockdown in the second round, I genuinely had an internal panic about my pre-fight allegiance, but couldn’t help but cheer on Andre as I saw him steel himself before my eyes. It’s like he was saying “His punches don’t hurt, I can hurt him too.” And he did. Andre’s veteran moves on the inside that had benefited him all his life were in genius display as he painted Sergey crimson with savage combinations to the Russian’s breadbasket. It was really a sight to see, and I wasn’t mad at the decision because I, too was enthralled by the change in flow of the fight.

Although Kovalev lost, I believe Sergey learned a lot about himself and the sport that night. The Krusher’s team was extremely studious in their preparation for Andre Ward, and it really showed. Sergey showed Andre early that his head-leading techniques weren’t going to work on him, but unfortunately Sergey let Andre get tangled up when he could’ve stole back rounds by showing more activity. Maybe he was tired, but I saw it as allowing himself to slowly get entangled with Ward’s web. Kovalev awoke on the 10th, but by then he let Ward get away with half of the fight, and a palpable shift in energy. He can do well in learning how he can similarly stay disciplined and focused in every round. He should watch Pacquio tapes with his team, lol.

Andre and Team Ward deserves all the credit in winning this fight, as it really does cement his legacy and his talent. He embodied the phrase “boxing pedigree” when he stood right in front of Sergey and educated all fans about the style, the fundamentals, and faith in courage. He put Oakland on the map, and if he fights like this again, the rematch might be the same story. Unfortunately for my favorite fighter, it’s all on Sergey to show us what else he’s got. But he’s surprised me already. Did you guys see him speak so easily in English after feeling so exasperated after the fight? For me that’s a good sign. Whenever fighters make that transition to communicate in English, it’s all but certain for that championship lifestyle. Onwards.

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