(Welcome to another edition of Sound & Fury, the boxing column that blackens eyes and skips clichés. This week, TCS takes a jaded look at things that cannot be looked at with anything but a jaded eye or a bottle of 100 proof nearby: Golden Boy Promotions, overhyped prospects, the dreaded boxing press, and any time Oscar De La Hoya opens his mouth. In addition, notes on undercards, compliant boxing fans, Dimitry Pirog, HBO, and Juan Manuel Marquez and his obsession with Manny Pacquiao.)
Another marzipan prospect crumbled when unknown Dimitry Pirog leveled Danny Jacobs in five rounds on the only undercard bout worth removing a blindfold for last Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Pirog, who nearly dropped Jacobs in the second round and seemed to be in control of the fight early, flattened Jacobs with a strange variant of the Fitzsimmons Shift. When Pirog saw Jacobs retreating in a straight line on the wrong foot, he pursued as a righty, slipped into southpaw, and shifted to orthodox for the final crushing blow. This was purely by design and Jacobs, whose ring I.Q. appears to be maybe half of that of Andre Ward or Juan Manuel Marquez, fell for it with an ease one might have expected of his own list of past tomato cans, say, Juan Astorga or Jose Miguel Rodriguez Berrio. Then he pulled an Anthony Bonsante and decided to play possum with the referee, Robert Byrd, crashing to the canvas like a corpse that had fallen out of a casket carried by drunken pallbearers. A frightened Byrd immediately stopped the count and a doctor stormed the ring with dust clouds trailing his feet. “I’m good!” Jacobs yelled. No, Danny, no, you are not good, Danny.
The worst part of these prospects getting obliterated is having to see them built up on even poorer competition than got excitable folks excited in the first place. Like Victor Ortiz, we will have to see Jacobs in the ring against washed-up fighters from lighter divisions for probably another five years or so. Oh, if only some of them could lose a decision once in a while instead of always crashing in flames!
The “comeback” began the second Jacobs gathered his scattered neurons together again. Disgracefully, HBO producers allowed Jim Lampley to interview the loser, Jacobs (because he is the star, after all) and ignored the winner, Pirog. Lampley did his best Dr. Phil routine and Jacobs got to mumble his excuses about focus, etc. Funny, but on the way to the ring, Jacobs, mugging and shouting at the cameras, looked awfully calm and self-confident. That happens sometimes when guys collapse at your feet with the vapors as soon as you twitch a nostril.
Still, the question, as always, it seems, remains: How do you wipe out nobodies, look mediocre against a couple of journeymen, and still get more headlines than President Obama? Unlike Jorge Linares, or even Ortiz, Jacobs has no obvious skill set, and he looked positively amateurish against Pirog, as he did in his only other fight of note, an unimpressive decision over gatekeeper Ishe Smith.
As for Pirog, he will now likely be overrated on the basis of whipping a man not ready for the annual Wife Carrying championship in Finland. Already some folks have started to make Pirog sound like a cross between Dizzy Gillespie and Tony Canzoneri. That said, he has panache, imagination, and a tricky style. We should wait until he beats someone more accomplished than Jacobs before conceding his greatness.
Things are improving on HBO lately. Instead of a fight with 10-1 odds (like they had headlining their last broadcast), they have one with 6-1 odds when Devon Alexander takes on Andreas Kotelnik, who has not fought in over a year. Look for a big, 1,000-word preview overrun by exclamation points on The Cruelest Sport tomorrow night. Check in at about 3 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
No sooner did Oscar De La Hoya wipe the spittle from his chin after promising fantastic undercards for all future Golden Boy shows in perpetuity than the supporting cast for Mosley-Mora was announced to the world. Obviously, he was just making things up again.
Lawdy, lawdy, the trash lined up for September 18 would make a landfill smell good. Better to watch a footrace between organ grinders than suffer through that agony. No matter, the so-called hardcore boxing fan, the one who sits around watching “Fight Night Club” with half-lidded eyes, will still buy it. Only in boxing does “hardcore” equate to a lack of taste and discrimination. Usually an aficionado has high standards and deplores the dilution of his pursuit. A wine connoisseur, for example, is not interested in a bottle of Bartles & Jaymes; cigar enthusiasts presumably want nothing to do with White Owls; and art lovers never wax lyrical over crude doodles on restroom stalls. But boxing buffs seem almost hypnotized and will buy almost anything a press release commands them to.
Speaking of making things up, whenever I get in the mood for some fabulism, I log onto boxingscene.com. Anybody notice the strange headlines over there, some of them directly contradicting each other within hours? Boxingscene.com is 50 percent fiction, 50 percent spy ware, 10 percent Lyle Fitzsimmons, and 10 percent Mr. Press Release. (Those numbers do not compute, of course, but neither does BS.) With “reliable sources” about as reliable as Fredo Corleone (or those–maybe Fuzzy Dunlop–who inform for ringsidereport.com), Boxingscene has a stranglehold on the dreamlike and the illusory. Whether you think risking identity theft is worth it or not is a personal choice, but always use Firefox when diving into fantasyland.
Someone should see if “Bark Off” works on humans and use it whenever Richard Schaefer starts his inane yapping. Not long after saying Golden Boy does not do “in-house” shows, he announces a pay-per-view, bafflingly backed by HBO, where 5 of 6 fighters are Golden Boy fighters. That comes on the crooked heels of the “loaded” show last week, where 7 out of 8 fighters were Golden Boy fighters.
The Marquez-Diaz show, by the way, resembled a pawn shop owned by Golden Boy Promotions, stocked with dusty, brittle knickknacks whose tickets will never be redeemed. The Cruelest Sport did not sell anyone a bill of goods when this extravaganza was announced, something that cannot be said about many other outlets. See this edition of “Ten & Counting” for particulars. Just scroll down to the picture of Clifford The Big Red Dog.
Juan Manuel Marquez, a consummate professional, took apart Juan Diaz as if Diaz were made of LEGO pieces and still looks like he can dismantle the current lightweight division in a single Día De Los Muertos. But Marquez is that rare fighter–one that hardly exists anymore–with ambitions geared to creating some kind of super-luminous legacy based on exalted notions of pure competition. He wanted the fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. despite the incredible odds against succeeding and still burns to wage war with Manny Pacquiao. His is a special kind of madness, one more fighters ought to suffer from these days.
It was nice to see Vic Zeigel receive a ceremonial 10-count on the Marquez-Diaz pay-per-view broadcast on Saturday night. But it was also distressing–although perhaps not surprising–to see major boxing outlets (like RingTV.com, for example) ignore his death entirely, despite the fact that Ziegel once received the Nat Fleischer Award for boxing journalism and was a lifetime member of the BWAA. (Ziegel, if memory serves correct, even contributed to Ring Magazine during the Bert Sugar era.) This goes beyond what contemporary boxing writers are typically guilty of–shilling, purple prose, unearthly pomposity, cretinism, nepotism, and cliché-mongering. No, this is just plain old shameful.
The Cruelest Sport really is warm and fuzzy. Friend TCS on Facebook. Or not.