The Clock Strikes Thirteen: The Best of TCS, 2011

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Boxing Needs You, Baby! On Arum, Pacquiao, & Mosley

Professional logicians would go mad, like blindfolded chess players, trying to make sense of boxing, its followers, and that strange hydra-headed beast, the fight media. When Bob Arum recently confirmed that Shane Mosley would be facing Manny Pacquiao in the spring, all of fistic cyberspace seemed to spontaneously combust at the announcement. Nobody, it was howled, wants to see this fight. It is an outrage! Like the Antonio Margarito-Manny Pacquiao affair, this declaration lead first to spluttering Twitter indignation and then to calls for a boycott. To his many accomplishments Manny Pacquiao, named “Boxer of the Decade” by the BWAA, can now add the unique distinction of having consecutive fights threatened with a boycott.

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WIZARDS OF GORE: TV Boxing That Drips Blood!

Set-ups–dangerous and grotesquely obvious mismatches–used to be the dark secret of boxing, relegated to hinterlands and high school gymnasiums in the Deep South, or buried on undercards in non-commission states. Now, however, you can watch these blood money extravaganzas–the boxing equivalent of grindcore flicks–regularly on television networks from coast to coast.

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Sound & Fury: Donaire Departs Top Rank, Sergio Martinez & Co., Cotto-Margarito, Klitschko-Solis

A rematch between Margarito and Cotto is like Viagra to a promoter like Bob Arum, who can barely keep from drooling when discussing this fight. With enough sub-plots to supply a television series with one dramatic arc after another—think of The Wire or The Sopranos—Margarito-Cotto II is a guaranteed box office smash. After all, this is what a promoter does: underwrite/produce an event he believes has widespread public appeal and turn a profit off of its staging. One day, some self-esteeming bloggers and writers, between navel-gazing sessions, will realize this. Then again, maybe not.

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Lost in the Funhouse: Victor Ortiz W12 Andre Berto

Against Ortiz, who was moving up from junior welterweight, Berto saw his pre-fight confidence and disdain evaporate almost immediately. Not long after the opening bell rang, in fact, Berto, 145 1/2, was on the canvas complaining of a rabbit punch that looked like a legitimate knockdown. Moments later, he was beaten to his knees in his own corner by Ortiz, who unleashed a torrent of blows, including a wicked right uppercut that split the guard, against a backpedaling Berto. Berto rose with a look on his face that seemed to say, “Is that supposed to be in the script?” Ortiz, a 3-1 shortender, pursued him recklessly and he was lucky to survive the round. Berto slumped on his stool after the bell rang and was greeted by a strange charivari of panicked voices—his corner, who offered sage advice throughout the fight, such as: “You are a beast!” and “Be an assassin!”

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Sound & Fury: Andre Ward & Stardom, Mosley-Pacquiao Aftermath, The Berto Business (As Usual), Horrid Hopkins

Despite all the criticism he has taken over the last two weeks, Shane Mosley ought to be given credit for accomplishing three extraordinary feats against Manny Pacquiao in their 12-round snoozer. First, he drew rare boos and catcalls to a Pacquiao bout; then he got cyber-idiots who picked him to win to start talking about a “fix,” thereby revealing that hell is something Dante could never have imagined; and, finally, his performance was so weak that two judges at ringside apparently discounted the faux knock down he scored in the 10th round and gave Pacquiao the clean shutout. (Of course, nothing is funnier than the mouth breathers who picked Mosley by KO and then cried “Fix!” when the longshot lost. This is a higher form of stupidity and is doubly disturbing when you realize that these same cretins are always talking about how much “insight” they have and lambasting other writers regularly. Having missed their chance to hitch a ride on the Hale-Bopp Comet, these deep thinkers instead turned to HTML and boxing to get their gibberish on.)

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Idle Hands, Raised: On the Return of Floyd Mayweather Jr.

As for this bout somehow leading to a possible showdown with Manny Pacquiao, the odds seem just as long as ever against the “Stuporfight” happening. Both men are conductors on money trains operating on parallel tracks, but the real reason Pacquiao and Mayweather may never meet is hatred. Golden Boy Promotions may have apologized for hinting that Manny Pacquiao is using performance enhancing drugs, and Oscar De La Hoya may have sent a slew of remorseful Tweets from some unnamed but apparently permissible detox center, but the fact remains that the odium among all involved in both camps suggests a gothic family tree, each bracket leading, almost inevitably, to insanity, disease, and incest.

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With Squalor, Mostly: Ross Greenburg Departs HBO

Over the years, Greenburg also fostered odd relationships with neophyte promotional firms and shadowy advisers, handing out dates like a capo de tutti capi handed out favors—or worse. Not long after assuming his role as head of boxing, Greenburg made his first misstep, one that was a harbinger of things to come. Incredibly, Greenburg handed Lou DiBella 15 blank dates over a three-year period as part of a severance package when DiBella left HBO in 2001. How any network can give blank dates to a man who had never promoted a fight in his life and who did not have a single fighter under contract is beyond comprehension.

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With A Little Help From My Friends: Abner Mares W12 Joseph Agbeko

By the 11th, Mares appeared to be wilting and he wound up with a hard shot that ricocheted with a thud off the cup of Agbeko. It was a blatant foul from Mares, whose goody-goody image may have suffered irreparable damage after this fight. Agbeko collapsed, Mora sent Mares to a neutral corner, the crowd groaned, Al Bernstein nearly went haywire at ringside, and then…then the real madness began. Mora approached an agonized Agbeko and, incredibly, began to count. At that moment, the idea that this bout was being held in the spirit of competition—admittedly a shaky premise for the preceding 10 rounds—simply vanished, and the sad truth was revealed: that Agbeko, on his knees and in pain and whose living is based on hurting and being hurt—according to ritualized notions of fair play—never had a chance. He dragged his battered body from the canvas and finished out the fight, perhaps aware that talent, dedication, and hard work—the cornerstones of successful fighters and many unsuccessful fighters as well—were no match for the shadowy forces of boxing.

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“Jerk-offs, Wannabes, Haters, and Nobodies!” Gary Shaw as Twitter Beast, At Least

Great literature has been made out of having idiots narrate tales, but Oscar De La Hoya is no Benjy Compson, and his timeline will remind no one of William Faulkner. Lou DiBella frequently Tweets hypocritically about one boxing “outrage” after another—except, of course, the ones he profits from. But the biggest dunderhead on Twitter has to be Gary Shaw, who never fails to call someone who disagrees with him or criticizes his cards a “jerk off,” a “wannabe,” a “hater,” and, best of all, a “nobody.” Most people who interact on Twitter are boxing fans, and, of course, Shaw has been treating boxing fans like nobodies for years.

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Sweet Victory: The Night Sugar Ray Robinson Won His First World Title

Bell was known for his right hand – and perhaps Robinson was looking for that. But a perfect left hook did it. It was quick, and delivered with force. If Robinson saw it all, it was too late to do anything about it. The punch landed flush on the jaw. Robinson went down hard. His head seemed to hit the canvas before the rest his body. When he rose, just before referee Joseph could reach eight, his legs were unsteady and it was apparent his head wasn’t quite clear. Joseph gave Robinson’s gloves a quick wipe on his shirt and backed off. There were a full two minutes left in the round – an eternity for a shaken fighter.

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Into the Mystic: Jan Zaveck-Andre Berto Preview

Many boxing fans were giddy as they watched Berto, 27-1 with 21 knockouts, get thrashed along the ropes by Victor Ortiz four and a half months ago. It was viewed as comeuppance for a fighter undeserving of the years of subsidy received from HBO, treatment that would ideally be reserved for special talents or ticket-sellers. To call Berto a special talent would require unconditional enough infatuation with speed and flash to ignore ‘nuances’ such as defense, in-fighting, and durability. To call him a ticket-seller is concretely false. To call him a potential special talent is a reach.

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Human Alarm Clock: Victor Ortiz-Floyd Mayweather Jr. Preview

Another wildcard factor in this fight concerns the appointment of Joe Cortez as referee. Cortez, whose incompetence has been steadily growing—like a treasury bond yield—year after year, is now one of the perpetual black clouds of boxing. Among his peculiar habits is an inability to break fighters at the appropriate moment. No sooner are two boxers within a foot of each other than Cortez races, like a volunteer firefighter who has seen a dog in the smoky haze of a window, to the rescue.

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Nightmare Alley: Floyd Mayweather Jr. KO4 Victor Ortiz

Retaliation in boxing is nothing new, and if Ortiz was bushwacked by a cheap shot, it was one he should have seen coming. Of course, saying he deserved it goes far beyond good taste and sportsmanship. But to paraphrase William Munny in Unforgiven, “Deserve has got nothing to do with it.” Being a world-class prizefighter means more than just skipping rope, knocking out Vivian Harris, and blaming the media for all your troubles. Ring I.Q. is an edge Mayweather will have over 95% of his opponents, but against Ortiz, it was a no-brainer going in. If you make your own luck in boxing—a sport where participants actively forge their own destinies from moment to moment—then you can do the same for misfortune, and Ortiz worked hard to wind up staring at the ring lights.

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Tags: ANDRE BERTO Andre Ward Floyd Mayweather Jr. Manny Pacquiao Sugar Ray Robinson VICTOR ORTIZ

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