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NOTES ON A SCORECARD

As a rabid boxing fan, it’s exciting to see big fights return to stadium settings. Back in the glory days of the sport, Yankee Stadium hosted some of the biggest fights in history and it was great to see the sport return to the South Bronx last Saturday night….

Sure, it wasn’t Louis-Baer, Louis-Schmeling, Marciano-Moore or Ali-Norton; but Yuri Foreman and Miguel Cotto drew a big crowd and put on an entertaining show….

Going in, I predicted Cotto would win by knockout, because Foreman hasn’t fought anybody and been protected throughout his career….

But a Puerto Rican vs. a white jewish fighter in New York was sure to sell tickets and Bob Arum should be commended for taking a risk and bringing the sport back to stadiums….

A few months ago, Arum promoted Manny Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey in massive Cowboys Stadium and the night was a success. Sure, Pacman won easily, but the fight drew a big crowd and showed Las Vegas isn’t the only venue for championship fights….

Arum and Jerry Jones want to stage Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather in Dallas and hopefully things work out. It’s will be the biggest fight in years and will sell out Cowboys Stadium if the tickets are priced right….

The good seats will go for an outrageous prices, but if Arum offers upper deck tickets for $25, the place will sell out. And how great would that be for boxing?….

The two best fighters in the sport duking it out in an outdoor stadium in front of 100,000? I love it….

Unfortunately, events like this will never happen in here in Los Angeles, because our socialist politicians in Sacramento tax promoters through the nose….

Governor Schwarzenneger and the state assembly should get together and waive state taxes for big events, because it would boost the state’s economy, put people to work and set the stage for more title fights….

Alas, our commies in Sacramento are too stupid to realize this and continue to drive business out of the state….

Back to Cotto-Foreman….

In the early rounds the fight went as I expected, with Foreman running, slapping and trying to survive. Meanwhile, Cotto was building up points by going to the body, coming forward and landing the cleaner, harder shots….

In Round Seven, Foreman’s knee buckled and he went down in a heap. After rising, referee Arthur Mercante told him he had five minutes to recover, but Foreman said he was ready to go and fought on….

But it was obvious Yuri was badly injured and couldn’t move, which played right into Cotto’s hands….

Give Foreman credit for heart and toughness, though, because he stood in there and survived the round….

In Round Eight, with Foreman limping badly, his corner threw a towel into the ring and the fight was over. As bodies swarmed through the ropes and the fighters embraced, Mercante took control and began yelling for everyone to get out of the ring….

Even though Foreman’s corner threw in the towel, Mercante felt Yuri was still competitive and asked Foreman if he wanted to fight…

After Yuri answered with an emphatic “Yes,” Mercante cleared the ring….

Arthur then sent the fighters to opposite corners and told them the fight would continue….

It was one of the best and authoritative decisions I’ve ever seen and Mercante should be commended. What most fans don’t know is that a referee has the final call whether a fight is stopped and can overrule a towel thrown into the ring….

Other than his knee, Foreman wasn’t hurt, wanted to fight and the fans who shelled out their hard-earned money deserved to see more boxing….

Miraculously, Yuri survived the eighth round and even landed some nice shots. He was losing the fight and had no chance to win, but his courage won him legions of new fans….

In the ninth, Cotto landed his patented left hook to the body, Foreman went down and Mercante stopped the fight….

It was a great stoppage, because Foreman was badly hurt and would have been pummeled had the fight continued….

Again, kudos to Mercante for ignoring the initial request to stop the fight and then halting the action at just the right time….

His father, Arthur Mercante, Sr, was one of the best referees in boxing history and was the third man in the ring for the historic Ali-Frazier showdown on March 8, 1971….

Mercante Sr. died recently, but would have been proud of his son….

My good friend Jim Lampley was praising Cotto’s new trainer, Manny Steward, and stating that Cotto’s “footwork was 100% improved and he looks to be back and as good as ever.”….

I couldn’t disagree more and feel that Cotto being an HBO house fighter influenced the broadcast somewhat….

Cotto’s hands were slow and he had trouble getting off, the result of two brutal knockout losses to Antonio Margarito and Pacquiao….

Miguel is a shot fighter and no longer in the elite class. When you take a horrible beating, you’re never the same; but when you take two it’s devastating….

Cotto’s winning performance had a lot more to do with Foreman’s inability to fight and being overrated….

Let’s not get carried away….

WEEKEND NOTES

As a hardcore boxing fan, I’ve seen a lot of bad decisions over the years. In April of 1987, I watched Marvelous Marvin Hagler dominate Sugar Leonard over the final six rounds and felt he won easily; except two corrupt judges were influenced by the pro-Leonard crowd and robbed Hagler of his Middleweight Championship….

In 1985, Larry Holmes was embarrassed by losing his Heavyweight Championship to Light Heavyweight champ Michael Spinks. So for the rematch he got into top shape, dominated the fight and in my opinion won 10 of the 15 rounds. But the decision went to Spinks, prompting this reaction from Holmes in the post-fight interview: “The judges can kiss me where the sun don’t shine, and that’s my big, black behind.”….

How about Ali-Norton III, held in Yankee Stadium in 1976? At worst, Norton won 10 rounds and dominated from start to finish, but it was a unanimous decision for Ali; which led to Norton breaking down and crying in his corner….

I thought Bernard Hopkins clearly won both of his fights against Jermain Taylor, but the HBO house fighter got a couple of gift decisions; courtesy of the network, a biased broadcast team and some incompetent judges….

I could go on and on, but now there’s another injustice to add to the list; Saturday night’s “win” by Juan Diaz over Paulie Malignaggi….

Paulie controlled the action with his jab, moved beautifully, turned Diaz consistently, landed more punches and clearly won the fight. I had it 116-112 for Malignaggi, but smelled something rotten….

After all, Diaz was the HBO house fighter, the fight was held in Juan’s hometown of Houston and all of the pre-fight agreements were rigged in Diaz’s favor….

Here’s a list of what Paulie was up against:

-Team Diaz demanded on an 18-foot ring, which is really small and gave the brawling Diaz an advantage over the slick-boxing Malignaggi.

-Team Diaz also insisted a catch weight of 138.5 lbs, which was also a big advantage for their fighter. Paulie kills himself to get down to 140, his best weight, and the extra pound and a half worked in Diaz’ favor.

-Team Malignaggi told HBO and the Texas commission they did not want Raul Caiz and Gale Van Hoy as judges, because of their history of favoring home-town Texas fighters. Paulie was told it would be taken care of, but when he arrived in Texas learned both of them would be judging.

Despite all this, Malignaggi went on with the fight, because it was a good payday and nothing else this big was on his radar….

Before the fight, however, he told anyone who would listen that the fix was in and he was going to get robbed….

So why did Team Diaz insist on rigging the outcome? “For the same reason a dog licks himself,” said Malignaggi promoter Lou Duva. “Because he can.”

I’ve heard lots of fighters complain about bad decisions after the fact, but I think this was the first time a fighter mapped out exactly was going to happen BEFORE a fight….

Paulie described exactly what was going to happen and predicted he would outbox Diaz and get robbed by the judges…

So give Malignaggi a turban and book him for Vegas, because he was right on the money….

Just call him “The Italian Kreskin.”….

The judge Team Malignaggi was most concerned about, Van Hoy, should be sitting in a jail cell this morning for his absurd scorecard. He actually scored the fight 118-110 for Diaz, 10 rounds to two….

If the Texas commission does not ban him for life, then the state should never be allowed to hold another major boxing event….

Caiz, whom Malignaggi referred to after the fight as “Oscar De La Hoya’s go-fer,” at least had it close, 115-113 for Diaz….

HBO’s Harold Lederman, who usually scores fights in favor of the HBO house fighter, had Malignaggi winning 115-113, which tells you the whole story. Lennox Lewis also had Paulie winning. Annoncer Greg Papa, after hearing Van Hoy’s scorecard, yelled, “What fight was he watching?….”

In the end, this was an embarrassment for Golden Boy Promotions; who had both Diaz and HBO in their hip pocket. I know Oscar is now a power player as a promoter and good for the sport, but if fights under his banner are going to be rigged, then they might as well call Vince McMahon and form a partnership….

De La Hoya himself should have stood up before the fight and demanded the playing field be level. If Malignaggi gave in on the ring size, then Golden Boy should have insisted Caiz and Van Hoy be removed as judges….

He also should have insisted the fight take place at a legitimate weight of 140 lbs; not that bogus 138.5 Diaz insisted on….

But Oscar sat back and became an accomplice to Paulie getting screwed. If this were to be criminally prosecuted, De La Hoya would be headed off to the big house along with Van Hoy….

If De La Hoya wants to “save the sport,” as he claims, then he cannot preside over rigged fights like Saturday night….

Kind of makes me miss Don King….

After the fight, Malignaggi went off and ripped everyone involved during his interview with Max Kellerman. Betweeen F-bombs, s-bombs and “bulls****s,” Paulie went over the list of ways the deck was stacked against him; with boos cascading down from the Diaz crowd….

He was right on the money and it was refreshing to hear a fighter speak the truth and call out boxing’s big boys like HBO, DeLaHoya and the Texas state commission….

It probably won’t do much good for his future, but still needed to be said….

So good luck to Malignaggi and hopefully he gets a rematch; this time on his home turf, Madison Square Garden….

In other boxing action, Roy Jones, Jr. actually looked sharp; stopping former rising star Jeff Lacy in 10 rounds….

Roy dominated the action throughout, showed fast hands and won easily; but I’m not going to get carried away by the performace. Lacy was exposed as overrated in his brutal loss to Joe Calzaghe and never been the same….

So now what’s next for Roy? There’s talk of a rematch with Bernard Hopkins, a fight Roy won back in 1993….

I’d actually like to see that one, because these guys don’t like each other and Roy has been ducking The Executioner for years….

Looking forward to September 26, when East L.A’s Chris Arreola gets a shot at the Heavyweight Championship against Vitali Klitschko at Staples Center….

Chris and his trainer, Henry Ramirez, have become good friends after appearing on my radio show over the years and “The Nightmare” can win the fight if he comes into the ring in top shape and focused….

The problem is Chris leads an undisciplined lifestyle outside the ring and is going to get knocked out if he’s around 250 lbs….

In his last couple of fights, Arreola has been over 250 and still won, but against against B-level competition….

He cannot come into this fight over 235 and have a chance….

Henry tells me Chris is training hard and will be in great shape, but I’ve heard that before….

The interesting thing is Arreola has the style to beat the Klitschkos. While everyone else stays on the end of their jab and absorbes one-sided beatings, Chris has a brawling, agressive style which could make Vitali uncomfortable….

Both Klitschkos fight mechanically and don’t like to back up, and Chris is just the guy to get to Vitali’s body, back him up and make him fight. I’d love to see what happens if Vitali is forced into a brawl, because I don’t think either Klitschko has great heart….

Both of them have quit on their stools in the past and don’t like the rough stuff, which is Arreola’s strength….

So can Chris win? Sure, if he comes in between 230-235, trains hard, quits drinking, stays away from his friends and dedicates himself 100% to winning this fight….

Do I want Chris to win? Yes, because he’s a good guy and so is his trainer….

Prediction? I like Vitali Klitschko to stop Chris in the mid-to-late rounds, because The Nightmare will come in too heavy and run out of gas….

I’ll believe he’s in great shape when I finally see it….

Weekend Notes

Last week, I stated I would not watch one second of the British Open without Tiger Woods; but when I read that 53-year-old Greg Norman held the lead after three rounds, I decided to tune in for the final day….
 
Despite playing in awful conditions and bogeying the first three holes, the Great White Shark still held a share of the lead after 11 holes and we were were getting close to history….
 
Unfortunately, someone named Padraig Harrington pulled away and won the championship and denied Norman of becoming the oldest player ever to win a major….
 
Even though I’ve never heard of him, I’m told Harrington won the title last year….
 
Since the title was won with a score over par, I have to assume Tiger would have won this tournament had he been healthy. So in my mind, Harrington is the asterisk champion….
 
On the telecast they mentioned Harrington is Irish, so at least he has that going for him. So it’s safe to say he’ll go on a three-day bender to celebrate….
 
Can’t wait to get to Las Vegas this week for the Antonio Margarito-Miguel Cotto fight, which will take place at the MGM Grand on Saturday night. If I could pick two fighters in any weight class to meet, it would be these two….
 
Both of them come forward, both throw combinations, both are tough and both have huge hearts. On top of that, both are great fighters and arguabky the two best Welterweights in the world….
 
With all due respect to Floyd Mayweather, Cotto and Margarito are the best in the 147 lb. division….
 
Check that, Paul Williams is also in their class and has already defeated Margarito on a controversial split decision last year at the Home Depot Center….
 
Question: If Williams, Cotto and Margarito are all better Welterweights than the Pretty Boy, why do so many people have the Pretty Boy on top of their Pound-for-Pound lists?….
 
Answer: Because HBO has been spewing this line of bulls*** for years and people believe it….
 
For Floyd to earn the title of boxing’s best, he needs to quit ducking the best fighters in his division….
 
I haven’t been to Las Vegas for a big fight in a long time, so getting to sit ringside for the best fight in years is a treat….
 
Prediction? Tough, tough call, but I think Margarito is a little tougher and will wear Cotto down with his relentless attack….
 
Antonio is a wrecking machine who methodically beats you down; which, by the way, is the same description you could apply to Cotto….
 
Also, Cotto is the HBO house fighter; which always seems to make a difference on the judges’ scorecards….
 
HBO and the powers-that-be desperately want to make a Cotto-Oscar DeLaHoya fight for December, but a Margarito win would ruin everything….
 
Over the years, Oscar has wanted no part of the Tijuana Tornado and certainly will not take a Margarito fight if Antonio wins….
 
But Oscar has interest in a Cotto fight and HBO is drooling at the thought of a Mexico vs. Puerto Rico matchup on pay-per-view….
 
Give the Golden Boy a couple of tune-up fights and this could be the biggest pay-per-view of all time….
 
Problem. Cotto has an enormous mountain to climb in Margarito….
 
I like Antonio to win and upset the HBO applecart….
 
Watch the judges, though, because of the shameful history of HBO house fighters winning scandalously bad decisions….
 
If it’s a close fight, Margarito will probably get screwed….
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