HANDS OF STONE REVIEW: Watch on Netflix

hands-of-stone

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

Pugilistic Defeat & Struggle: Jonathan Walley’s Fight Experience Part II

By Rudy Mondragón
Twitter: @boxingintellect 

Fight Night 

The night of the fight was finally here. July 30th marked the day that Jonathan Walley would raise his arms in victory. This was the plan. What transpired, however, was the beginning of Walley’s biggest pugilistic struggle.

I drove to Van Nuys early in the afternoon to pick up my tickets for the KO Boxing With The Stars event from Jonathan. Instead of receiving tickets from him, I was greeted at the door by his older brother. From the doorstep, I could hear Walley’s voice and the shower head running. I looked over to the bathroom window and saw an excessive amount of steam exiting. Jonathan was still trying to cut weight.

Unlike professionals, amateurs are expected to make weight the day of the fight. Rather than resting, focusing, and relaxing before his fight, Walley was forcing his body to make weight to remain eligible for his evening contest. Jonathan’s day started with a 6am run in the gym while wearing his sauna suit. After his run, he went into the jacuzzi and steam room to force himself to sweat some more. He then went home for a nap and when he woke up, he went straight to the bathroom to create a steam room like environment in his home (this is when I came to pick up the tickets). Next, Walley showered to freshen up, put his sauna suit back on, and went back to the gym for another run. From the gym, he walked home (3 mile walk) in his sauna suit under the summer sun to sweat off more weight. On top of all this work, Jonathan still had to fight.

I arrived to Los Angeles Valley College and found a seat in the old school wooden bleachers of this community college’s basketball gym. It definitely was a night of stars, as notable figures were in attendance. Obba Babatunde (The Notebook, John Q, and Philadelphia), Laila Ali, and Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav to name a few. Amongst the stars were parents, family members, and friends supporting the many amateurs who were scheduled to fight that night.

After a couple of exciting matches, it was time for Jonathan to fight. Originally scheduled as the co-main event attraction, there were some last minute schedule changes that moved up Walley’s fight sooner than expected. Obba Babatunde, the emcee for the night, announced Jonathan, prompting his entrance to the ring. Nothing happened. The crowd looked towards the locker room entrance, but Jonathan was not walking out. After a second announcement by Babatunde, Walley finally appeared. He seemed to be in a rush, still trying to put on his head gear for the fight. From my perspective, it seemed like something was off. Walley looked physically ready to fight, but looked flustered and mentally  uncomfortable.

Jonathan fought three hard rounds. At times it seemed like his mind was working faster than his body, not being able to execute his game plan, falling short of his abilities and skills as a counter-puncher with power. Maybe the hard work to make weight over-fatigued him, or the schedule change threw him off mentally. Whatever it was, Walley was not performing like his usual athletic, skilled, and intellectual self. Something definitely wasn’t right.

The final bell rang and it was time to hear the judge’s decision. It was a close fight. Judge’s scorecards called for a split decision, in favor of his opponent, Ivan Beltran. This wasn’t what Jonathan envisioned. He came to win, yet the reality, on this night, was Jonathan experiencing his first career defeat.

Post-Fight Rollercoaster 

Boxing is not like any team sport. Boxers don’t compete in three-game series or on a weekly basis. On a sports team, you have a collective community you compete with and a shorter amount of time to think of defeat as you are expected to get back on the court/field to perform. For Jonathan, athletes in team sports have “shorter memories of defeat.” He states that in boxing, you are alone and therefore, “you hold on to that shit.” This is what I call the arc of redemption* in boxing, which is the traumatic time a boxer experiences between defeat and their next match. For boxers, the arc of redemption can last months, even years, before they are able to step back in the ring to correct their career paths.

I sat down with Jonathan five months after his first career defeat. For the most part, he was in high spirits and energized every room we walked into. As we began our conversation, the first thing Jonathan shared with me about his defeat was that going into the fight, he felt he was better than his opponent and that he did not expect to lose. He went from being a confident fighter to all of a sudden feeling emotionally drained and alone.

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He originally had plans to hang out with friends after his fight. He felt that things changed as a result of losing. “I lost and then there was no party… there was no party… everyone went out to eat and my phone was dry as fuck.” At one point, Walley questioned whether his friends would have given him love had he won. Maybe his friends just didn’t know how to support him at this crucial moment in his life. Either way, Jonathan’s mind, the mind of a fighter, went towards a dark space where loneliness sank in, and feelings of abandonment felt real. Jonathan occupied a mental space at the extremes of sadness and anger.

The days that followed were extremely difficult on his overall wellbeing. He had a hard time sleeping, didn’t want to talk to anyone, and despite draining himself to make weight for his fight, Walley did not have an appetite. Jonathan explained to me that, being the food lover that he is, it was especially difficult feeling hungry and not having a desire for a meal.

In an effort to turn his struggles into a positive, Jonathan decided to leave the state of California to get away. At this stage, Walley was avoiding people and wanted to process defeat in isolation. When people asked where he was, he would tell them he was in Las Vegas, including me. The reality however, was that he was in Arizona reflecting on his defeat and life.

Even though he wanted to be alone to process, Jonathan realized that he needed words of affirmation and validation from his loved ones to help him overcome this vulnerable period of his life. Although he did receive some, he also recalls the negative energy he felt from his critics and the silent voices around him. “It wasn’t about the things they could’ve told me,” Jonathan said, “it was more the things that was said not to me, and then, the things that wasn’t said at all.” In other words, Jonathan found out people turned on him and spoke negatively about him behind his back. He also wished people would have been more vocal and attentive about his struggle instead of remaining silent.

Although Walley feels like he has learned from his first defeat, he doesn’t feel like he will ever fully recover from it. When it comes to experiencing his first defeat, Jonathan feels that “you can’t play it off and say you don’t care.” Defeat in a boxing context is still a new thing for him and a day doesn’t go by that he doesn’t think about it. He had a tentative match scheduled for the end of January, but with the unstable nature of amateur boxing, that fight was called off, further prolonging Walley’s opportunity at redemption.

In the mean time, Walley has to sit with the thought of his first defeat for six months, maybe more, before he can step back in the ring for his chance at redemption. What does a boxer do during that long time frame to physically, mentally, and spiritually heal? Talking about it with people is a good start. Talking about defeat and the emotional rollercoaster one goes through is not a sign of weakness. If anything, it is a sign of strength. Strength because Jonathan displayed vulnerability in sharing this experience of struggle with me. Opening up to one person about hardship is a brave act, but a willingness to share one’s story of defeat with the rest of the world is a manifestation of courage.

Jonathan’s road to recovery is embodied in stic.man’s hip hop track titled, Joe Louis from The Workout album. This track is about the famous black boxer, Joe Louis, who is considered one of the best heavyweights of all-time. One of the bars in this song states, “If you stay ready, you ain’t got to get ready,” which is what I see Walley doing as he waits for his next scheduled match. That is what he knows best. Staying in the gym keeps him feeling alive, ready, and prepared in case he is asked to fight on short notice. At this point, to overcome this difficult phase in his career, Jonathan manifests stic.man’s lyrical hook in Joe Louis: “I train to live, I live to train. It’s go hard or go home, no pain, no gain.” There is no quit in this young man. Healing through boxing and training is a one day at a time process.

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As difficult as it was for Walley to open up, what I admired the most was that he made no excuses of his defeat nor belittled his opponent. He respects the decision. He respects Ivan Beltran. He accepts defeat and welcomes the ups and downs that come with it. One things for sure, Walley is eager and ready to rise up again.

*Special thanks to Dr. Samantha Sheppard for helping me think through this idea of temporal struggle in boxing to construct the concept of boxing’s arc of redemption.

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The photos below are of Jonathan Walley training at the Roy Jones Jr. Fight Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada the morning before our conversation 

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.

Canelo vs Cotto: Prediction Edition

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Jarrett Bato 

It’s refreshing to have a fight like this come at a time of the year when nostalgia hits the hardest. As the year comes to a close, we humans naturally contemplate of the days that have gone by and why our current reality doesn’t quite match it. That’s why Cotto taking the challenge of Canelo is very important for the sport, and will cement Cotto’s legacy as one of the greatest that ever stepped in the ring.

There’s almost no advantage given to any of the boxers on the signing of this fight. Cotto could have easily given himself an advantage in the weight limit, but the fight is set at 155, which is still easily made for Canelo, though probably still more difficult for Canelo compared to Cotto. The A-side/B-side mental game that Cotto sometimes wallows in has no effect to Canelo, who is of the new generation of boxers that doesn’t accept that the house poses any underlying advantage to any fighter. On paper, it seems that the fight is at an even keel, given the richer experience of Cotto versus the raw and still-blooming talent of Canelo.

I think the key to this fight will be preparation, where here Cotto has the advantage. Cotto has never been shy to make big changes that are needed, and that’s truly the mark of experience and ring generalship, and I believe there couldn’t be any better team behind him than Team Freddie Roach. I think Freddie will bring an excellent game plan to the fight that will expose some of Canelo’s tendencies ala Ronda Rousey, because Canelo has honestly been exploiting his natural talents with little evolution fight to fight.

However, Canelo has demonstrated the ability to evolve as the fight goes on with the one thing he has improved, which is his endurance. With his newfound endurance, he’s able to focus longer, improvise longer, and pull out majestic combinations exploiting new holes in his opponent that weren’t obvious in his earlier fights that went longer than 5 rounds because he’s been too gassed to see them. If Canelo indeed puts 100% focus on Cotto he might just pull off the upset.

But that’s what it will be, an upset compared to the potential perfect game plan. #warcotto, UD

Prediction: Cotto by unanimous decision 

Rudy Mondragon (Twitter: @boxingintellect)

I have dedicated a great deal of time thinking about the outcome of this fight. My heart says Miguel Cotto, but my studies tell me Saul Canelo Alvarez will emerge as the victor.

Since hooking up with Freddie Roach, many have said that Cotto is a new and improved boxer. I agree, to an extent. Cotto has had his ups and downs. Many thought he was done after his loss to Austin Trout in December 2012.

Since then, Cotto has been under the watchful eye of Roach and has won three straight. Two of his three wins have come off worthy opponents. Cotto beat Sergio Martinez in June 2014 and Daniel Geale a year later. A closer look at those two opponents however, reveal serious discrepancies. Martinez had 2 bad knees and was inches away from retirement. Geale was drained at the weigh-in and looked similar to the many zombies that appear on the Walking Dead.

Based on those two victories, I can’t confidently say that Miguel Cotto is a new and improved fighter. After all, how much can a fighter learn from a new trainer this late into their career? However, I do believe that Cotto is inspired by Roach and has a great deal of faith in him. This makes Cotto’s corner a dangerous one when it comes to strategy and game plan.

At age 25, Canelo is younger and hungry for what Cotto has. Although Canelo is the favorite to win this fight, it is Cotto who has the A-Side power. Miguel Cotto will earn $15 million for this fight, while Canelo will take $5 million. Not a bad pay day by any means, but Canelo wants to continue building his legacy. In order to establish himself as an all-time great however, he needs to take down the experienced Miguel Cotto, who serves as Canelo’s gatekeeper.

Canelo is not the best boxer and in this fight, he will emerge as the combination puncher that will chase Cotto down. Canelo will cut the ring and take some of Miguel’s punches in order to land power shots of his own. At age 35, Cotto will not be able to put together a complete fight. A complete fight requires Cotto to land 1-2 punch combinations and quickly circle left and right. Cotto will not land power punches. This is too dangerous for Cotto because it means sitting down on his punches, leaving him vulnerable to Canelo power combinations. Eventually, Cotto will tire and Canelo will be able to catch him more frequently. Cotto bruises and bleeds easily. By the 8th or 9th round, expect to see Cotto’s face visibly marked. My prediction is that Canelo will trap Cotto in a corner or on the ropes and stop him in the 11th round.

My heart is with Cotto and I hope I am wrong with my prediction. I just don’t see the younger and hungry Canelo losing this fight. There is too much on the line for him. Canelo has graduated from the defeat he had against Mayweather. This will be reflective tomorrow night as Canelo will pull the trigger and take successful risks in his quest to take down the future hall of famer.

Prediction: Canelo by 11th round stoppage 

Check out the video collaborations between Blood Money Boxing’s Rudy Mondragon and In My Humble’s Pierre Banks:

 

Garcia vs Peterson & Lee vs Quillin RECAP

By Rudy Mondragon 

Live from Brooklyn, NBC brought forth two unique fights. In the Peter Quillin and Andy Lee fight, we saw an early start from the one they call Kid Chocolate. Andy Lee weathered the storm after being dropped convincingly in the first round. Although Lee smiled as he got up, his spaghetti legs told another story. He survived, but Quillin kept coming and accurately catching Lee, making his opponent and the many people watching feel the power of a strong middleweight. Lee went down again in the third, but a closer look reveals a smart Quillin stepping on Andy Lee’s foot, which helped him scored the knockdown with another accurate punch.

LEE Choco

The tide began to turn as we entered the middle rounds. Lee appeared to be warm and awaken. He started to box consistently, beating Quillin to the punch and eventually scoring a knockdown in the seventh round. Lee began moving with ease and looked comfortable while Quillin looked confused and regretful to the fact that he did not try to end the fight earlier.

The judges ended up scoring this fight a draw:

Guido Cavalleri 112-113 | judge: Glenn Feldman 113-113 | judge: Eric Marlinski 113-112

Can’t disagree with the call. Quillin, being the A-Side fighter, did not do enough in the second half to control the fight. Lee’s longer reach proved to be the difference as he controlled the range and kept Kid Chocolate at a safe distance. Had Lee not been dropped in the third round, this fight could have easily been his.

Let’s not forget that Kid Chocolate did not make weight. Shame on him for not taking advantage of the extra pounds as well as failing to make an argument that he deserved a high profile main event fight. A draw does not cut it in the sport. Although these two fought to a draw, can’t deny that these two put on a great show. The fans who tuned in were the real winners tonight.

The main event had to follow up an exciting match. Realistically speaking, the first half of the Danny Garcia vs Lamont Peterson fight appeared to be uneventful. Garcia missed constantly and Peterson moved too much. Although Garcia barely connected, the mere fact that he was the busier of the two won Danny most of the early rounds.

DG LP

As the fight went on however, I noticed something. Lamont Peterson did not study the Mauricio Herrera vs. Danny Garcia fight. He studied the Zab Judah vs. Danny Garcia fight. The only difference was that Lamont played it real safe in the early rounds, protecting himself from an early knockdown or knockout.

After the first half of the fight, Peterson took his game to another level. He was beating Garcia to the punch. He was making Garcia look silly with wide haymaker misses. Garcia also looked tired, his punches did not have enough gusto as they would have earlier in the fight. Peterson’s plan was working. It was a smart plan since Peterson lacks power. With his saved up energy, Peterson was collecting points and taking more risks knowing that Garcia’s punches did not have much steam left. Peterson was able to reduce the Garcia threat and make a run for the win.

Unfortunately for Peterson, he turned it up two rounds too late. The judges gave the fight to Danny:

judge: Don Ackerman 114-114 | judge: Kevin Morgan 115-113 | judge: Steve Weisfeld 115-113

To beat the champion, you got to take it from the champion. Lamont didn’t do that. He did however, execute a game plan that was risky and he followed through with it till the end. That is respectable because it shows how much intellectual work Peterson and his team did prior to this fight.

It is tough when you are the B-Side fighter. Peterson was hand picked because the powers that be thought he was a beatable fighter that Danny Garcia could look good against and annihilate. Peterson disrupted those plans. What he lacked in the power department, he made up for it with his ring generalship, good defense, mentally outworking Danny, and drawing blood.

When you look at this fight from start to finish, you can appreciate Peterson’s effort. Danny has been exposed again. Boxer’s are taking note. Danny is a fighter who sits down on his punches and telegraphs them. If you time Danny, outwork Danny, neutralize his power, and get him in the later rounds, he is yours for the taking.

Bronze Bomber vs B.WARE Predictions

Stiverne-Wilder

Bermane “B.WARE” Stiverne (24-1, 21 KOs) will be defending his WBC heavyweight title against Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (32-0, 32 KOs) on Saturday, January 17 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Many believe this could be the fight where a U.S. born heavyweight fighter is crowned with the title. This is of great significance as there has not been a U.S born heavyweight champion since 2006 when Shannon Briggs held the WBO title. The match up we have for tomorrow is an experienced champion versus an inexperienced athletic knockout artist. This is how the BMB sees it:

Miguel Marino

32 KOs > 21 KOs. 6ft 7in > 6ft 2in. 84in > 80in. You don’t need to be a math wiz to know that the person in the left hand side of the equation has an advantage than the person on the right. So whom do these numbers belong to? The first set of numbers are the total fights won by knockout over each boxer’s career, which favor Wilder over Stiverne. The second set are each boxer’s height. Again, advantage Wilder. The last set of numbers are each boxer’s reach. No surprise, advantage Wilder. It is striking the physical advantage that Wilder has over Stiverne. The only number where Stiverne has the advantage over Wilder is this: 36 > 29. Well, maybe advantage isn’t the right word since this set of numbers denote age of the boxers. Though here at BMB we try to avoid seeing boxing as simply numbers and statistics, the number differentials between these fighters should not be ignored. Even if you ignore these numbers, looking at previous fights, you get the sense that this will be a one-sided fight as long as Wilder uses his reach advantage and pounds all night. The only chance Stiverne has is to get into Wilder’s space just once and deliver an authoritative punch. Unfortunately, at 36, it might be too late for Stiverne. Stiverne had struggled against previous foes bigger than him but has survived because none of those fighters had sufficient the power to take him down. Wilder doesn’t have a power problem and he should be the one to dethrone Stiverne.

Prediction: Wilder, KO 9th round.

Jarrett Bato

Bronze Bomber? More like Baby Bomber. There’s no debate that 32 KO’s is impressive, but I wonder about the mental maturity of the same Deontay Wilder picking on fights on the internet. In my mind Stiverne is more of the professional boxer, with methodical combinations and movement to pick off stronger opponents. Although Mexican-American Arreola is a much more clumsier fighter, I believe in Stiverne’s mind, Wilder is of the same template “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” I think I would have to see a true demonstration of maturity and ring generalship on Wilder’s end before I believe he’s the Vanguard of the new American Heavyweight. Until then, I pick Stiverne for a late 9th round KO for his ever-compact style and fundamentals to frustrate Wilder who’s looking for an early KO. If Wilder tries to go out of his KO style, he’s still in for a long night as Stiverne will get inside and score points if all Wilder wants is to prove he can last. Wilder need to demonstrate explosive quickness and a mix of body and head work that I just don’t see, and is more of Stiverne’s style albeit with less power.

Prediction: Stiverne, KO 9th round

Luke Givens

My Prediction?

PAIN!

Prediction: Wilder

Rudy Mondragon

There is a reason why they call Deontay “The Bronze Bomber,” he is far from being a gold. Deontay started his career at age 19 and has relied on his athletic ability. One who relies on their athletic ability in boxing sacrifices the technical and mental aspect of their game. All of Deontay’s fights have ended by the 4th round, meaning two things: 1) He has only fought scrubs and 2) He doesn’t have the experience to enter the second half of a regular fight, let alone a title fight. Stiverne has more experience and as of recently, has proven he can go the distance against an aggressive, hard hitting fighter. Not only did he go the distance against Cris Arreola, he was also able to knock him out in the 6th round of their 2014 rematch. Stiverene is a patient counter puncher with power in both hands. Wilder again has fought no body! How is Wilder making a million for this fight and Stiverne only $910k? This is why: Although Stiverne is the champion, Wilder enters this fight as the A-Side because his promoters (currently Golden Boy Promotions, but will more than likely leave them as he is managed by Al Haymon) are marketing him as the next U.S heavyweight champion of the world. All the pressure is on Deontay to win tomorrow night. But how does one expect Deontay to win if he has not fought anybody who could have given him the necessary experience to be competitive for this title match? According to Robert Ecksel’s prediction on boxing.com however, Wilder will hurt Stiverne and get him on the ropes, prompting the ref to stop the contest prematurely in favor of Deontay. This is definitely a possibility as Don King promotes Stiverne and Al Haymon manages Wilder and according to Ecksel, behind the scene deals can be made if it means making more money with Deontay as champion. Valid prediction, but I do not see this happening because Tony Weeks is the referee and he has proven high levels of integrity in his work.  I don’t see Wilder having success past the 5th round. Stiverne will weather the storm with his brain and patience, take Wilder into the later rounds and win via TKO stoppage in the 11th round.

Prediction: Stiverne, TKO 11th round

Orlando Salido: Winner of Wars [Video]

By Rudy Mondragon

What else is new? Orlando Salido (42-12-2, 29 KOs) steps into the ring and wins in exciting fashion. The man with the short end of the stick last night was worthy contender, Terdsak Kokietgym (53-5-1, 33 KOs) from Thailand. Both came out swinging in the first round and Terdsak was able to earn the first knockdown. Orland was also awarded with a knockdown, but he earned it via a low blow on Terdsak.

The two fighters combined for a total of 6 knockdowns. Orlando was able to land the knockout in the 11th round after many rounds of brawling from both fighters. The pace of the fight and punishment was too much for Terdsak. Orlando was able to land a hard right and left combination on Terdsak and he was down and out for the count.

The fight could have ended earlier. Referee, Eddie Claudio, made a huge mistake in the sixth round. Orlando was pressing and hurting his man and the referee stepped in to stop the round as he confused the 10 second warning for the end of the round bell. This helped Terdsak recover and last through 10 complete rounds, eventually being stopped in the 11th.

Is Salido back? Can he land a big fight now? Well, Orlando has been in many wars. He is, in my opinion, responsible for taking out all of the fight in JuanMa. Although Salido won both of those fights, he absorbed so much punishment. Not to mention the one sided fight he lost to Mikey Garcia. He lost the fight on a technicality, but nonetheless Salido took home too many punches. All this ring wear makes Salido a risky fighter. It is a given that he is dangerous, but what I am talking about is Salido getting old in his next fight. At age 33, he has made his career out of his brawling, move forward style. In boxing however, that style makes you pay in the long run.

In conclusion, this was a great match up. These two fighters gave each other hell and in the end, it was a battle of who could stay on their feet. These are the fights that happen when you forget about the Reebook and Under Armor sponsorships or who is the A Side and B Side here. Fight fans are provided with an all out exciting fight where pride and the hunt of winning and moving up is at stake. Sure these two are fighting for money, but the winnings are much more than just the CREAM (Cash Rules Everything Around Me).

Danny ‘Swift’ Garcia: A Visit to North Philly [Photos]

By Rudy Mondragon 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has a rich boxing history. It is home to some of the rawest fighters the boxing scene has ever seen. From the hard punching Bennie Briscoe to hall of famers like Joey Giardello and Philly’s forever Heavyweight Champion, Joe Frazier. The list of old timers and modern day fighters from Philly can make for hours of bar conversations. One can’t forget Julio Cesar Chavez’s toughest fight during his undefeated hot streak was against North Philly’s  Meldrick “The Kid” Taylor. And as all boxing heads know, the current fighter and future hall of famer who put Oscar De La Hoya down with that nasty body punch is North Philly’s own, Bernard “The Executioner and Alien” Hopkins.

In a recent trip to Philadelphia, my vision was to take in this rich history. With stops to the  Blue Horizon, the Rocky Statue and Steps, the Joey Giardello Statue, Italian Market, and Pat’s Cheesestakes, I was on a mission to experience Philly boxing culture. A necessary step in doing this was visiting Danny “Swift” Garcia’s gym. With the help of John Disanto, founder of phillyboxinghistory.com and my new friend, I was given the needed information to make my way north.

The area was industrial and had the vibe of a blue collar, hard working-class neighborhood. The gym was located in a decent sized lot with a few humble signs, making it difficult for me to spot at first. I parked and worked my way towards the gym, in hopes that the Champ and his father, Angel Garcia, would be at the gym.
DSG EntranceAt first glance, the building did not appear to house a gym. There was a body shop, a car wash station, and a barbershop. My initial instinct was to head into the barbershop and talk boxing with the community. I was reminded of the scene from “Coming to America” and that reflection confirmed that I go in there to get an idea as to whether Danny and his team would be making an appearance.

I walked into the barbershop and it felt like home. It reminded me of the neighborhood barbershops I would visit when I was growing up in South Gate, California. The major difference here was the connection to Danny Garcia and the boxing world. I sat down with Steve, a young brother who has close ties to Danny. He hooked me up with a clean tapper and shared how Danny Garcia opened up the barbershop as a side hustle to create jobs for his immediate community. Rather than having a passive entourage as most boxing celebrities do, Danny’s barbershop provides the barbers a way to sustain themselves and maintain close relationships with the champion.

I shared with Steve that I made the trip all the way from Seattle, Washington and was excited to meet Angel and Danny. Steve’s response to that was, “there goes Angel right there!” I looked up and there was Angel, the high energy and hardcore trash talking father and trainer to his son, Danny Garcia. Respectfully and humbly, I greeted the man and he walked over. He asked me if I was being taken care of and if I was having a good experience. To that I said “absolutely, Steve is hooking me up and I am looking forward to checking your son if at all possible.” Angel said it most definitely was and told me to enjoy the rest of my cut. The best way to remember that moment was with a picture, which Steve and Angel agreed to.

DSG Barber

The next stop was the gym itself, which was located all the way in the back of the building. Close to the entrance was Danny’s personal parking spot. It was car less at the moment of arrival, signaling to me that Danny had not yet arrived.  This bought me some time to check the inside of the gym and gain an appreciation for the aesthetic nature of the place.

DSG Parking Spot

Entering the backside of the building was transformational. After having checked the barbershop, the body shop, and car wash, the back of the building took on a new life. The gym communicated love, respect, and appreciation for Philly boxing history as well as Puerto Rican boxing legends. The first art piece as I walked in was a juxtaposed frame of Danny Garcia and the late Hector “Macho” Camacho. For boxing heads, knowing about Macho is important. He is the man who stepped into the ring against some of the biggest names in boxing: Felix Trinidad, Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Vinny Paz and others. Hanging over head were old boxing gloves, similar to the neighborhood where you would see old sneakers hanging by the laces. Those gloves, I am sure, have a story and symbolize something deep. Most striking about the gym however was Danny’s WBC Jr Welterweight championship belt on display for all to see. It communicates to the people that Danny won that belt with his team and the support of his fans. Those lucky enough to come visit the gym can see this symbol of greatness first hand and up close.

DSG with Legend

DSG Glove

DSG Gym Mural

DSG Gym BW

DSG WBC Belt

By the time I had finished taking it all in, Danny had arrived and was warming up and wrapping up for a five round sparring session. He was scheduled to get into the ring with young and hungry super featherweight contender, Omar Douglas (12-0, 9 KOs). Prior to the start of the sparring session, Angel Garcia approached me and asked if I wanted to meet his son. My response was most definitely, but only if it was cool with the champ. After all, this is his work place, his office, the place where he sharpens his blade and works on his craft. Angel said it was no problem and I was allowed beyond the “DO NOT PASS” gate. DSG Gate

Danny was in work mode. Quiet, focused, serious, reserved, composed, and ready to enter the ring to spar against Omar Douglas, a man who was being paid to fight Danny in preparation for his August 9, 2014 showdown against Rod Salka. Danny’s vibe was appreciative that I came to visit and he showed love for a fan. I appreciated Danny as he appeared to do a great job balancing the many roles he was playing at that moment. At that moment, Danny was a family man as he was training with his father and in the presence of his sisters. He was a fighter, about to step in the ring and spar. He was a public figure, greeting his fans and posing for pictures. He was a mentor, as many youth were working out in the gym looking up to the champion. A balancing act that not many can do, let alone do it well. That is why Danny is the professional in this game.

DSG and Me

Omar Douglas and Me

Danny Garcia is in a good place. The property he and his father own is alive and well with potential growth. The size of the gym and the resources in there have been enough to prepare the young champion to defend his title five times now. The beauty of the situation Danny is in, much like the physical property, is that there is much room for growth. Danny is still hungry and working his way up to a new weight division. This could bring him a future showdown with boxing’s king, Floyd Mayweather. Danny has great mentorship as Bernard Hopkins chooses to train at Danny’s gym. This means Bernard is available and accessible to talk with, providing Danny with an opportunity to absorb all the boxing wisdom Bernard has to offer.

Before I close this out, it is worth mentioning that Danny and his father are also trying to build a record label. Boxing gym, barbershop, car wash, body shop, and recording studio all in one building!  Angel said that the music industry has been a challenge for the two of them as they are trying to figure out the politics and nature of the music game. Nonetheless Angel said that they will figure it out and find a way to be successful. Like boxing, there is no easy hustle. One always has to work at it and if you get knocked down, know that it is part of the game, the true test is if one can get up and keep fighting.

DSG Recording Studio