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.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-jmYG-N3RmiA/YH4eO-zZhdI/AAAAAAABQt4/3tBMCpmbGbIr5-bstWrMo6jfF6nxyl3iwCK8BGAsYHg/s0/2021-04-19.png?authuser=0

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.

674917916-0

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.

960x0

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.

sanneh-gggvscanelo

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.

7ed21666c8bd42cf893d99fe23a871ac

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.

mqdefault

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

ch7ynn4xiae99s-0

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 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.

GGG vs. Brook: Prediction

GGG Brook.jpg

By Rudy Mondragón
Twitter: @boxingintellect 

Gennady Golovkin versus Kell Brook is another match up where one man jumps two weight classes to challenge the other. First, we had Amir Khan jump up to 155lbs to take on Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. That fight ended with Canelo knocking out Khan in the 6th round. Will Golovkin, also known as GGG, knock out Brook, to grow his KO streak to 23?

Kell Brook shared with The Guardian that he was killing himself, mentally and physically, to make 147lbs. Moving up to 154lbs would make the most sense for Kell, yet he decided to take on the most feared man at 160lbs. For Brook, this is an opportunity to claim the biggest win in his career. There is more to lose for GGG and everything to gain for Brook.

Brook has a cosmetically impressive record of 36-0 (25 KOs). His biggest win (majority decision) was over Shawn Porter back in 2014. This was his biggest test, but at the welterweight limit. He has not been tested at 154 or 160. What makes GGG versus Brook different from Canelo versus Khan, is that Brook is undefeated and his chin has never been questioned. Tomorrow night’s fight will reveal many truths about Brook.

GGG should win this fight. It is a stepping stone to setting up his fight with Canelo Alvarez. GGG is stronger and has proven that his chin is made of concrete. However, a close examination of their weigh-in revealed that GGG might be drained for tomorrow’s contest. His spirit at the weigh in can be described as low, exhausted, and mentally fatigued. This depends on who you speak to however, as some will say his demeanor at the weigh-in was calm and collected, ready for tomorrow night’s match.

Brook is the faster man. His media workout showed that he has not lost any speed despite putting on the extra 11 or so pounds. His speed, elusiveness, boxing skills, and mental strategy can prove to be the difference maker tomorrow if in fact GGG is not close to 100 percent (Let’s be real, no fighter is ever in tip top shape come fight night).

Brook will go 10 rounds and have early success. The extra weight will take some time to adjust to, so Brook will fade in the later rounds, giving GGG the opportunity he will need to score his 23rd straight (T)KO victory.

When you take a step back and look at GGG versus Brook, you will realize that this is part of the promotional tour for the eventual GGG versus Canelo mega-fight. Of course, GGG needs to beat Brook first, but when he does, it will place Gennady and Alvarez one step closer to giving the fans what they want: a true middleweight mega-fight spectacle.

All that said, being a fan of the underdog, I do hope that Brook upsets GGG and disrupts the master script of boxing. I love it when promoter’s behind the scenes plans are made void by the boxers they have positioned to be pawns in their chess match. Rise up Brook, don’t be their pawn.

 

Canelo vs. Khan: Street Fighters & Trump

By Rudy Mondragon
Twitter: @boxingintellect

It was recently announced that Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) will be challenging the WBC middleweight champion, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) on May 7, 2016 at the brand new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. This will be the first time in recent years that Floyd Mayweather Jr. will not headline a Cinco De Mayo fight weekend.

The announcement of this fight has brought on great debate from all corners. Canelo is the middleweight champion, yet some question that title because he has not fought anyone at the 160 lbs limit. Rather, he has engaged in contracted bouts at a max weight of 155lbs. Not a true middleweight champion in the eyes of some boxing fans and experts.

Another critique is that Canelo is taking on a smaller opponent rather than fighting someone his own size. Khan has not fought north of 147 lbs and only has 3 fights at the welterweight division. Although he possesses great skill and speed, one powerful punch can take the challenger out as we have seen in the past (see Prescott and Garcia).

One thing is for sure, Khan and Canelo are big names in mainstream boxing with strong followings from Mexico and the UK. The styles these two possess will make this fight exciting. The possibilities of Khan being knocked out as well as Khan outboxing Canelo make this fight worth tuning in for.

What I found interesting however, were some of the tweets that made their rounds through Twitter immediately following the announcement of this fight.

@BoxingLegal came across a tweet that featured a cartoon image of Blanka versus Dhalsim from the classic video game Street Fighter. The photo was an attempt to poke fun of the racial and ethnic dimensions of this fight. Blanka, representing the Brazilian beast and savage and Dhalsim representing the stereotypical dark skinned Indian yogi. The photo has since been removed from twitter and the twitter user seems to have canceled their account.

Ironically, Canelo’s light skin and good looks distance him from being read as a savage beast (which many Mexicans, especially darker skin Mexicans, are labeled and read as such) and draws him closer to whiteness. In Khan’s case, the stereotypical representation is completely inaccurate given his Pakistani roots and Islamic background. I’m sure @BoxingLegal’s handbook found this and more in regards to the image being a racist representations of the two boxers.

Blanka vs

I also found it necessary to discuss one of Dan Rafael’s (@danrafaelespn) tweets regarding #CaneloKhan. Rafael was clearly excited about the match up. In an effort to show his excitement in a humorous way, he tweeted “Channeling my inner @realDonaldTrump: #CaneloKhan is going to be yuuuuuuuuuge!”

I understand that tweets are limited to 140 characters. It is no excuse however, to tweet something without recognizing the implications of the references made in one’s tweet. Rafael’s tweet leaves out the politics of a hyper-conservative and xenophobic billionaire politician. The reality is, based on numerous Trump interviews and speeches, Donald would actually not think this is “yuuuuuuuge!”

Wait, let me take a step back. Trump would only think this is a big deal if it meant money in his pockets or was comped front row seats to watch a violent spectacle between a Mexican and Muslim. In all honesty, Trumps views construct Canelo as a criminal immigrant threat to this country and Khan as an Islamic enemy that is a hazard to this world.

Let me just say, Dan Rafael does great work and I love following his coverage of boxing. However, I do think it is necessary to unpack tweets and images that ascribe to racial stereotypes as well as linking a boxing match to a problematic figure like Donald Trump. After all, the boxing world is a microcosm of the larger society. The connections are endless and through writings and conversations, we can connect the dots to see how the sport cannot escape the social, cultural, and political realities of the times.

Swift vs The Ghost: Reflections on Latino Politics

By Rudy Mondragon
Twitter: @boxingintellect

On Saturday, January 23rd, 2016 Danny “Swift” Garcia defeated Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero via a 12 round unanimous decision (all three judges had it 116-112). Garcia’s victory earned him the vacant WBC Welterweight title that once belonged to The Best Ever, Floyd Mayweather Jr.

IMG_5964

This was a unique match up as these two boxers were both trained by their fathers for this fight. Both fathers have a reputation for being charismatic trash talkers who have contributed to the build up of their son’s previous matches. What was also unique about this match up was that both Danny and Robert are US born fighters who redefine the famous Puerto Rico vs. Mexico boxing rivalry. Danny was born in North Philadelphia and Robert was born in Gilroy, California.

Things got heated at the final press conference and weigh in. Leading up to the final presser, interviews with Ruben Guerrero surfaced in which he was commenting on the silence of Angel Garcia as well as questioning Danny Garcia’s Puerto Rican identity. When asked by Martin Gallegos who he thought the Puerto Rican fans would be cheering for come fight night, Ruben responded by saying:

“Well I think they are going for Robert, because this guy don’t even speak a licking word in Puerto Rico bro, like he said he’s not real Puerto Rican. He just says he is, but he’s not! I don’t know what he is. He hasn’t figured that out yet.”

The question of “who will the Puerto Rican fans cheer for?” is a question that stems from building up the Puerto Rico vs. Mexico drama. Ruben’s response contributes to the build up of the spectacle that the media desperately tries to craft by asking questions like this. One interpretation of what Ruben is saying is that he feels Puerto Rican fans will side with his son because Danny Garcia is whitewashed and not Latino enough for Puerto Rican boxing enthusiasts.

Ruben’s response is an unfortunate example of Latina/os policing other Latina/os for their lack of “authenticity.” His response brings up three complex questions to my mind: What makes someone Latina/o? What constitutes “authenticity” when discussing ethnic/cultural/racial identity? and Why is it that Latina/os continue to use the ability to speak the Spanish language as an argument to say you are more/less Latina/o?

At the final press conference this week, Ruben Guerrero also made a comment that dealt with language as being a marker of authentic Latina/oness. As he was delivering his speech at the final presser, Guerrero announced in Spanish that “shit talkers go down” in reference to Angel Garcia. He followed that up by saying that he had to translate that to English because “you (Angel) don’t talk Spanish, Puerto Ricans don’t talk Spanish!”

For Ruben, “authentic” Puerto Rican identity comes down to one’s ability to speak Spanish. I guess for Ruben, it doesn’t matter that Angel is well aware that that Puerto Rico is still a US colony or that Danny identifies as Philly-Rican. Interestingly enough, Ruben Guerrero identifies as Chicano and practices a form of Chicana/o Spanglish. Spanglish, being a constructed language that takes both English and Spanish as a tool to communicate Chicana/o culture, experience, and struggle in a world that privileges colonial languages over indigenous tongues. Language is a way to communicate culture and not an absolute marker of cultural, racial, and ethnic identity.

As a boxing fan and writer, I am well aware that trash talking is used as a strategy to get in the mind of your opponent. Some of the greatest mental game strategist consist of Jack Johnson, Muhammad Ali, Fernando Vargas, Ricardo Mayorga, Mike Tyson, Paulie Malignaggi, Bernard Hopkins, amongst many others. Paying attention to the content of the trash talking however, is important as it communicates messages that are reflective of the broader society and social problems that go beyond the boxing realm.

When it comes to Ruben Guerrero, his trash talking game takes on a hyper-masculine approach perpetuating the idea that this world is run by men. His emasculation of Angel Garcia reeks of misogyny. And his policing of Angel and Danny Garcia’s Puerto Rican identity based on one’s ability to speak Spanish is unfortunately a common factor that breaks up the possibilities of Latina/o solidarity. The media plays a huge part in this, but it also takes two to tango.

In closing, I want to again say that I understand that trash talking is part of the boxing game. It is a tool used to mentally throw off your opponent. Trash talking takes creativity and thoughtfulness. Can boxers today be more creative and innovative with their trash talking and find ways to not perpetuate isms (racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, etc.)? It is a challenge that I would like to discuss with anyone in the boxing game, even Ruben Guerrero. As long as he doesn’t say I have “baby nuts” or challenges me to a fight, I am all in for an honest conversation.