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10 & Counting: Linares, Pavlik, Kirkland-Molina Afterthoughts, Harry Crews & The Knockout Artist, Bell-Ringing Blues


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Unheralded Sergio Thompson threw a rubber chicken into a bowl of Golden Boy Wagyu soup on Saturday night when he stopped Jorge Linares via TKO in two at the Oasis Hotel Complex in Cancun. Linares was floored after a barrage of spastic blows in the second, but it was a ragged cut above his left eye that halted the bout. After administering the mandatory eight, referee Bill Clancy escorted a bloody Linares, 31-3, to the ringside physician. When Dr. Manuel Jesús Paredes Zugy showed Clancy his nifty red card, the referee seemed flummoxed. Seeing his gesture lost in translation, Dr. Paredes dramatically waved off the fight himself and immediately descended the ring steps without bothering to tend to the wound that so concerned him.

Thompson, who built his 22-2 record mostly as a featherweight and a junior lightweight, is primitive, but Linares did not look like he expected much resistance in Cancun. Who does? Linares, who has now been stopped three times in his career, is just too brittle to be a topnotch fighter. Incredibly, after years of hype and media mooning, his only solid win remains a lopsided decision over faded Oscar Larios in 2007. This is what budding legends are made of these days.

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Backwoods Gothicist Harry Crews, author of seventeen bizarre novels, is dead. Crews, who was 76, tried his hand at just about anything from the late 1950s to the 1960s—including boxing. In fact, he once wrote an outrageous novel about the sickly science. Published in 1987, The Knockout Artist is outlandish, offbeat, perverse–and as close as you can possibly get to the grotesque bottom dogs world of prizefighting. When Eugene Talmadge Biggs realizes his only gift is knocking himself out—a metaphor for the self-destructive nature of man—he performs his pathetic novelty act on the underground circuit of the Big Easy, which Dante might have included as an extra circle of hell for his Inferno. Along the way, Biggs gets caught up in a sleazy underworld of drugs, sex, and madness. The Knockout Artist almost never makes it onto one of those ubiquitous boxing book lists compiled by folks whose limited reading—of any kind, apparently—manifests itself repeatedly in sidewalk chalk prose and Repetitive Cliché Syndrome (RCS). That should be enough of a recommendation for The Knockout Artist.

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Kelly Pavlik gets to bask in the glow of “REDEMPTION” headlines—at least for a little while—after annihilating hapless Aaron Jaco in San Antonio on Saturday night in two farcical rounds. With only one start in five years going into this fight, Jaco was well-unprepared for his role as a crash test dummy. In fact, “Jedi” looked like he was ready to break open a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon before the first bell. Not even a lightsaber was going to help him against Pavlik. A knockdown in the first, a knockdown in the second—both produced by left hooks—and a shambolic demeanor in general forced referee Jon Schorle to stop the fight before something tragic happened. No matter what anyone says, bowling over an inactive circuit fighter proves nothing about Pavlik (and his slew of new tattoos), Oxnard, or Robert Garcia. Pavlik improves to 38-2. Jaco, with 18 fights in a decade, is now 15-3.

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Now that the entire James Kirkland-Carlos Molina brouhaha has settled down—we will all just have to wait until the next episode of mass indignation comes around—it may pay to look back on it from a bit of a distance. One of the most interesting aspects of the “Houston Horrorshow” was how confused people were about the whole situation and how confusing some of the outraged reports about it were. You have to wonder if the people who “write” fight reports actually watch what they hunt-and-peck about. Boxing.com stated that the bell rang at the count of six. Kevin Iole said the count started after Molina hit the canvas. Others consulted the ABC regulations without knowing what they were watching on television. Some conflated the Texas rules with those of the ABC despite the fact that the fight took place under the auspices of the ABC, as WBC supervisor Craig Hubble told Steve Kim last week. One blogger even wrote that the timekeeper rang the bell prematurely. Then a press release from Team Molina—remember, a crew not smart enough to stay out of the ring while the referee was administering a count—got some traction, the way grainy videos of Sasquatch sometimes do. You may as well have consulted a grimoire to make sense of the whole mess—it would have been more accurate than what was reported in the immediate aftermath of the fight.

As is evident to anyone who actually watched the bout, the bell ending the 10th round rang a split-second before Molina hit the canvas. Now, a timekeeper is not going to wait to see what happens after an exchange between two fighters, and if the round is as close to an end as it was in Kirkland-Molina, then the timekeeper will be looking at the clock, not the fight. But why get in the way of excoriating Texas and heaping scorn on a referee?

Until March 24, Jon Schorle was a middle-of-the road official, not Kenny Bayless, of course, but not Joe Cortez or Randy Phillips either. He did a poor job throughout officiating Kirkland-Molina, but usually his biggest flaws are a tendency to let fights go on too long and a permissive attitude. His only mistake during the entire “Houston Horrorshow” sequence was sending Kirkland to the wrong corner. His hesitancy in making the disqualification call might be construed as wishy-washiness or it might have been the action of an official who was deliberating over a tough choice. Schorle did not have to disqualify Molina—although you would be hard pressed to find a referee other than (retired) Richard Steele willing to overlook cornermen entering the ring during the action—but he did. Joe Cooper was derided for enforcing the rules when Amir Khan tried to shove his way past Lamont Peterson last December; Schorle, by contrast, was castigated for not enforcing the rules until, well, until he decided to do so–and then he was castigated all over again.

In the end, Texas had nothing to do with what happened during the final seconds of the fight. After all, Lou Askenette precipitated the entire mess by entering the ring while the referee way laying a count on a fighter. But nothing, it seems, can stop a valuable meme from perpetuating. No doubt the irony of bungling writers pointing out the incompetence of referees, judges, commissions, fighters, promoters, managers, and trainers is lost on watchdogs all over cyberspace. Now that is a travesty.

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As for the fight itself, it was a fairly dull affair, with Molina getting the best of Kirkland any and every way possible. Portrayed as some poor boxing pariah by the blognoscenti, Molina proved that he had earned his anonymity with a nettlesome style calculated to put all but the most “knowing” to sleep. Even Schorle seemed mesmerized by the array of armbars, headlocks, and bear hugs Molina produced, like some mad contortionist on amphetamines.

At times, Molina would actually duck his head and charge just to wrap his arms around Kirkland. Watching Molina fight is like paying for an opera and seeing the curtains open on a bunch of Swiss Yodelers. Head butts, elbows, and shoulder butts were also part of the show. Give him credit for getting away with whatever he could get away with—the First Commandment of boxing—but Molina is the latest in a line of seemingly endless junk artists taking up plumb spots on HBO and Showtime. If Molina had any power at all—and he cannot generate much oomph when all of his limbs are moving in opposite directions simultaneously—Kirkland would have been stopped. But Molina not only has the style of a spoiler, he has the temperament of one as well. Several times he halted his own momentum just to do something, err, crafty, or savvy, or creative. When Molina felt like opening up, however, he landed flush shots repeatedly. A rematch is unlikely considering how bad Kirkland looked and how dreary the fight was until the final moments. What Golden Boy Promotions needs to do is get Kirkland the biggest fight possible as soon as possible, before he gets knocked off by another B opponent.

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Over the years, there have been several notable incidents involving the bell in boxing. 1930s heavyweight contender Nathan Mann, for example, was once saved by the bell when his manager, Dutch Schultz associate Marty Krompier, rushed the ringside table and rang it himself to save Mann from being knocked out.

Less than two weeks ago, Enzo Maccarinelli—dropped and in trouble during the opening round against Shane McPhilbin—found his deus ex machina in the form of a bell that rang 47 seconds early. Maccarinelli went on to recover and win a decision. The British Boxing Board of Control subsequently suspended timekeeper Martin Fallon and ordered a rematch.

In 1984, Gerrie Coetzee was knocked out well after the three-minute mark in a title defense against Greg Page when a confused timekeeper (maybe a future media member?) simply forgot to attend to his business. Nearly four minutes elapsed in the 8th before a weary Coetzee was finally pole-axed by a left hook.

One of the strangest stories, however, has to be the time “Caveman” Bob Moha faced off against Billy Papke in 1911 in a dreadful bout. “After about two minutes of the final round elapsed,” wrote Pete Ehrmann in The Ring, “members of the audience climbed on their chairs and perversely started chanting, “Don’t ring the bell! Don’t ring the bell!” Siding with them, timekeeper Billy LeClair deserted his ringside post, and over seven minutes passed before somebody gonged the sorry mess to a close.” Maybe Schorle had the right idea after all.

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A few days ago The New York Times had an interesting article concerning grunting in tennis and how the WTA plans to combat it in the future. And with Monica Seles long retired! From The Times: “The effort “stemmed from an increase in negative fan reaction to excessive grunting and an increase in media coverage, and we made a determination that the landscape had changed, and we owed it to the fans to take a look at it,” said Andrew Walker, a spokesman for the tour.” With Antoine Smith, Anthony Peterson, and Devon Alexander shrieking, grunting, and barking their way through fights, maybe the WTA can forward their recommendations to the Association of Boxing Commissions. Certainly an anti-yelping statute would be a welcome improvement for boxing. Of course, it would have to be enforced just as rigorously as other rules in boxing are–like excessive holding and shoving, for example.

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Tags: Carlos Molina Dutch Schultz Enzo Maccarenelli JAMES KIRKLAND Jon Schorle Jorge Linares KELLY PAVLIK Nathan Mann Sergio Thompson

  • JohnPaulFutbol

    CA,
     
    Kirkland v Molina was an ugly fight, and I won’t bother to go back and re-watch, but that whole sequence with him getting tied up in the ropes, the knockdown, the bell ringing, his corner entering the ring and the finally the DQ…..added up to a big WTF for me. But, I’m no expert. I just know it was a dull affair.
     
    Molina fought the fight he had to, and was certainly winning. Yes, he was holding excessively and it was ugly. He should’ve been warned, deducted and so forth. But, it was really surprising, to me,  how he managed to push and move Kirkland around so easily at times. Are those beach muscles on Kirkland?  And also befuddle him by simply not allowing his head to stay in the same place for more than a half-minut at a time. That might a be a little unfair, but just a little, Molina is a tough out, in relative terms. Being allowed to use submission holds makes him that much tougher.
     
    Part of me likes Kirkland the fighter, as I enjoy a brawl as much as the next atavist, but part of me doesn’t care much for him. He’s a violent guy in the ring and I don’t deny the appeal. But he’s got a some goofy footwork, doesn’t seem very fluid, and starts mouthbreathing without much coercion. You can see his gears turning “wait ’til I get my hands on you!,” although at times with Molina it was more “which way did he go George?” Basically a top heavy oaf. He’s not the sharpest tool, everything beyond brawling needs to be figured out.  He ain’t Marvin Johnson.
     
    I’m in the minority, apparently, in that I don’t buy into the “charms” of Ann Wolfe. That’s not meant as a knock, she’s not without merits I’d imagine…..I just don’t “get it.”  Then again, I don’t listen to boxing “radio” shows. Literally spellbinding stuff, it seems.  If you’re adding 2 + 2 and manage to work a couple “fucks” into the equation the answer is not merely 4, but refreshing honesty!
     
     Hopefully Kirkland will be matched with guys that aren’t beyond his scope stylewise, but aren’t cans. Let’s also not hear anymore bullshit about him being more than he actually is. Next time he struggles with weight, let’s also have some Chavez Jr. level polemics. And hats off to Molina, anybody that gets in the squared circle twice with Chavez Jr. has balls of brass! He could also end up being the 2nd best thing that’s happened to Kirkland.
     
    Not sure what to make of Linares. I got a kick out of him getting KO’d in Japan. But, I can’t tell you how impressed I was with his skills etc in defeat to DeMarco. But being in the arena is a whole different angle. I’d imagine it was a little more impressive in person? It’s funny to see these hype jobs fall, but I have to admit he turned me into a fan. Maybe he needs one them face transplants I was reading about today? Life in the space age.

  • Andrew Fruman

    Hi Carlos,
     
    I personally thought the DQ was rather outrageous as there were mitigating circumstances for Askenette stepping between the ropes – and it all stems from the bell ringing. 
     
    When that bell rang, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t have believed the round was over, and it was safe for him to enter the ring.  Because 99.9% of the time, that’s the case.  Bell rings.  Round over.  He’s got a tired fighter in need of attention, and he’s got to climb the steps, slip between the ropes and get the stool down before Molina gets to the corner.
     
    The fact that Molina had been looking a little weary in the round was all the more reason why Askenette should have been rushing to get into that ring.  And if he’s rushing, can we really expect him to be paying attention to anything else besides getting in that ring so he can make use of the 60 seconds.  In his haste, I doubt he saw or heard anything, other than the noise of the crowd and was probably startled to see a count being given.
     
    Furthermore, the rules state that a DQ can be administered if the corner enters the ring AND interferes.  It certainly didn’t look like there was any interference.  Molina was up, and listening to the count with a clear head.  The trainer immediately ducked back between the ropes.  No harm occurred.
     
    So when ones consider the confusion (Schorle himself was confused enough not to send Kirkland to a neutral corner) that the bell ringing caused and that there was no interference, I thought a DQ was an extremely drastic action.
     
    That all said, the fight was kind of rubbish, but it looked like we were heading towards a potentially satisfying ending.  I just felt like it was a time when common sense should have prevailed, and the spirit of sport take precedence over some silly technicality.
     
    Anyway, that’s my take.

  • thenonpareil

     @Mark Ortega Hi Mark,
    Welcome to my nightmare…
    I vaguely remember that Danny Williams fiasco, but my memory is not what it used to be.  But that sounds absolutely insane…I’ll have to youtube it.  It’s amazing the crazy things that happen in boxing…one thing about the Nathan Mann example I cited, though, is that no one was going to challenge what a mobster like Krompier did…bad for your health. 

  • thenonpareil

     @JohnPaulFutbol 
    Hi JPF,
    I hear you.  It’s easier, in retrospect, for me to break down the confusion, since I watched the tape something like 20 times.  I also have the advantage of not chasing penny-clicks and not looking to be the spontaneous be-all-end all uber-boxing genius blogger/super journo whose got all the answers within five minutes of something crazy happening. 
    By the way, behind the scenes, AF has told me that my take on this whole snafu is TOTAL RUBBISH!
    That befuddlement was crazy, eh?  Molina didn’t really have to hold so much, it seems to me, he was clowning Kirkland with head/waist movement.   My own feeling is that a certain amount of holding, clinching, etc., is part of the game, but at a certain point the ref has got to get involved.  Molina was out of control and the fight was wretched. 
    I love the gears turning schtick.  I’m with you here: Kirkland is one of the guys you want to see fight (unless it’s against a clutcher like Molina), but that doesn’t make him Hagler.  If people are puffing him up–beyond the usual suspects–I must be ignoring it.  I think anyone who can actually fight well (proactively) and has a little pop will put out his lights. 
    I agree with you about Wolfe, but I wouldn’t say it to her face.  She is funny in the corner, though.  Oh, boy!  “You the fucking gorilla!”  It seems like that pickup truck is turning Kirkland into an old man before his time.  Maybe more attention to his footwork/defense and less sparring with the pick-up truck may help him out a bit.  Especially considering the price of gas.  If matched well, Kirkland is fun, and that’s what we all want, I should hope…But it’s also true, as you say, that maybe Molina helped him out a bit. 
    Not sure about boxing radio shows, but I say “fuck,” too, whenever I want to sound authoritative….I live in Brooklyn, after all. I also say “stugots,” “up yours,” and “take it deep.”
    This thing you have with Linares is interesting.  Of all the guys we rag on here about being P-4-P fugazis, Linares is the least accomplished of them all.  Williams, Martinez, Dawson, etc., have all fought and beaten much better fighters than Linares has.  Maybe it is that you saw him live in a great fight.  That could be it.  I saw Martinez live against Pavlik, so I see where you’re coming from.  Also, the fact that his style is so much more graceful to watch than these guys who fight like modern-day strike breakers or members of  the Devil’s Disciples.
     
     
     

  • dennis wise

    Count me among those who thought Linares was going to be a tremendous fighter.  Trying to predict future greats is foolish. lesson learned!  I still think hes fun to watch but it clearly isn’t going to happen for him.
     
     
     
     

  • Andrew Fruman

    I just wanted to clarify one of my comments.  “When that bell rang, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t have believed the round was over, and it was safe for him to enter the ring.”  Saying there was *no reason* is probably going too far in absolving Askenette of any responsibility.  But what took place – a knockdown happening a split-second after the bell rang – was so rare, that it’s not something he could have been expected to account for.
     
    Anyway, my basic point is still the same.  There were unusual circumstances that lead to Askenette making an innocent mistake.

  • Michael Nelson

    Hey Carlos,
     
    Well thought out piece, as always.  As you know, I’m a bit more of a Molina fan than you, but he did far more clutching here than usual (or at least from what I’ve seen).  Obviously, he got clinchy because Kirkland’s a dangerous in-fighter and it was largely a bore to watch.
     
    A certain amount of criticism is expected, but I do take issue with those who kill Molina for this one performance, yet heap(ed) praise on the likes of Wladimir, Ward, Hatton, ect. 
     
    As for the DQ, I didn’t like it.  I think the rule leaves room for interpretation, and Molina’s cornerman in no way altered the proceedings.
     
     

  • thenonpareil

     @Andrew Fruman Hi Andrew,
     
    You make good points and I don’t necessarily disagree with anything you’ve written.  And I don’t even want to say that anyone was entirely at fault, including Askenette, who was obviously unaware that what he was doing was going to lead to a DQ.  However, if you remove the question of the bell–you still have the count.  Schorle visibly demonstrated that Molina was down and began to count. Molina rose, backed up, and Schorle was still counting.  Askenette had to see that, or at least hear it.  Rudy Hernandez, in Kirkland’s corner, saw right away that what Askenette did was cause for DQ, which is why he went insane.   
    As for interpretation of interference, Askenette did, in a sense, interfere–Schorle had to stop the count to shove Askenette out of the ring.  I’m not saying Schorle was right, but I think he had a right to do what he did.  Maybe the common sense angle is true, and I understand people who say that, but nothing would have happened had Askenette–and Victor Mateo–been a little more careful. And reading all the usual nonsense about corruption, Texas cabals, conspiracies, protecting Kirkland, etc.–not to mention completely fabricated stories and fake facts–was just too much for me.  Schorle is not Beelzebub!

  • thenonpareil

     @dennis wise Hi Dennis,
    I’d watch Linares fight again.  He has talent, definitely, and maybe if boxing fans could get over the Fantasy League thing, they can just watch an athlete’s career unfold naturally and not try playing expert all the time.  I remember Dan Rafael saying GBP signing Linares was the greatest signing in the history of GBP. 
    Linares never beat anybody, really, there’s not a single A- or even solid-B name on his resume.  For some reason, this never showed up in all the glowing assessments of his future greatness.  I like to say that even a tomato can sometimes beats another tomato can.  But, you’re right, predicting that stuff is silly.  Until a fighter proves a couple of things–chin and stamina and heart, principally–against decent opposition, then he’s just another fighter looking to get ahead. 

  • thenonpareil

     @Michael Nelson Hi Michael,
    I’m not going to hold you being a Molina fan against you!  I agree he introduced more spoiling as a tactical measure, but a ref has to step in there once in a while.  And, ultimately, Molina’s tactics made for a boring fight. 
    Thankfully, I’ve also been nothing but disgusted at Ward, Klitschko, Alexander, and other clutchmasters out there.
    As for the DQ, I discussed it with AF below, and I can definitely see your point of view here.  As fans, we want to see a fight and not be bothered with picayune things.  Schorle disagreed, however, and felt that the rules were more important (at least that rule!).  In the end, I don’t really know if he’s right or wrong…

  • Andrew Fruman

    Hi Carlos,
     
    Fair points.  I certainly don’t think it was a conspiracy or anything like that, but just a case of a referee overreacting to a minor incident.  Just my guess, but I think if Schorle could get a do-over, he’d let the fight continue.
     
    You mentioned Kirkland’s corner, and honestly, their reaction kind of annoyed me.  I know I’m not living in the real world when I say this, but I wish there would be a better sense of fair play in sport.  I wouldn’t want to win in such a manner.  Kirkland said as much after the fight, though I don’t know if he really meant it, or was just trying to please the angry crowd.