The Clock Strikes Thirteen: The Best Of TCS, 2012

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On The Grind: Tavoris Cloud-Gabriel Campillo Preview

When Cloud meets a durable opponent, it’s a competitive and entertaining clash. Saturday night likely won’t be any different. But because Cloud’s punches have the zip that Campillo’s arsenal lacks, any debatable round will be a Cloud round, regardless if Campillo is the more accurate of the two. Campillo, Madrid, Spain, dropped close – sometimes dubious – decisions against Beibut Shumenov and Karo Murat, and Cloud is a far more violent puncher than either of those two. He’ll need to conclusively outwork his younger adversary to have a realistic chance of winning the title. READ MORE

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The Lighthouse Invites The Storm: Orlando Salido-Juan Manuel Lopez Preview

No sooner is Lopez, Caguas, Puerto Rico, clipped than he bangs his gloves together, asks for more, and begins to mix it up in anger. “Machismo” still exists in boxing, of course, you just have to look somewhere other than P-4-P lists, where headliners somehow earn accolades for elbows, butts, two-steps, and a vast array of Greco-Roman maneuvers. Fighting spirit is no longer a requirement to be a star these days, it seems, but Lopez, to his detriment, has enough of it to keep any real aficionado short of breath for as long as he remains in the ring. Indeed, Lopez is one of a handful of fighters who understand that boxing is an action sport and that the audience does not pay for tickets in order to flip through back issues of Cat Fancy at ringside. It is always hurricane season whenever Lopez enters the ring in Puerto Rico and tonight will be no different. READ MORE

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LOVING MONSTERS: Orlando Salido TKO10 Juan Manuel Lopez

With his strength ebbing, Lopez seemed to make a conscious decision just before the start of the eighth round, one that, strange as it sounds, could have been plucked from Sartre: “I hate victims who respect their executioners.” For Lopez, it was a leap of faith, an act of sheer will in the face of grim reality. These are the choices real prizefighters make, existential choices, ones that seem to have little to do with sport as we know it. After being outfought over the first half of the bout, Lopez chose to try to alter his waiting destiny by redoubling his fury. Predestination, in a boxing ring, is for losers. READ MORE

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NIGHTSIDE: Zab Judah-Vernon Paris Preview

You can almost see the grainy film still–fedoras atilt at shadowy angles; a single, naked bulb, emitting sickly light, dangling from the ceiling; and plumes of cigarette smoke swirling in the night–when you think about Paris and the Michigan boxing scene in general. This is the soft white underbelly of modern boxing, and you would not want to scratch it with a 21-ounce pool stick. READ MORE

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Terrors Of The Lightweight Brigade: Ad Wolgast And Battling Nelson

In one of the most savage fights of the 20th century, mortal enemies Ad Wolgast and Battling Nelson tore at each other before 18,000 fans in Richmond, California, for the right to be called lightweight champion of the world. On February 22, 1910, these two ironmen, in the days when drawing first blood was still a betting proposition, nearly murdered each other between the ropes. Finally, after nearly two hours of combat, Wolgast won via TKO in the 40th round when referee Edward W. Smith saved a defenseless Nelson from permanent injury. In the end, neither man could escape the frightful punishment accumulated in the ring. Nelson and Wolgast both wound up in sanitariums, with Wolgast, to his last sad and distant days, still “training” for a rematch with Nelson. READ MORE

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Why Not Lucy The Elephant Instead? Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson Preview

How a bomb as big as Hopkins-Dawson I can produce a sequel is something only the boys in the backroom can answer. Contractual obligations, Public Enemy #1 for television networks—and, by extension, consumers—may have forced HBO to broadcast this fight, but must it be aired at such a reasonable hour? Like a midnight marquee film (think Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! or The Gore Gore Girls) Hopkins-Dawson II ought to take place in front of an audience sweating Cutty Sark or stoned out of its mind. READ MORE

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Run Silent, Run Deep: Lucian Bute-Carl Froch Preview

Viewed through the lens of the World Boxing Classic’s legacy, Saturday’s contest appears somewhat of a mixed verdict. After twenty-six months of stops-and-starts, injuries and replacements, and the odd quality boxing match, the event’s failure to bring proceedings to a natural and climactic conclusion in the form of a winner-take-all contest between its freshly crowned champion, Andre Ward, and its most conspicuous holdout, Bute, leaves the tournament falling well short of one its stated mandates: to bring clarity to a crowded division. READ MORE

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THE GOODBYE LOOK: Miguel Cotto-Floyd Mayweather Jr. Preview

After months of hoopla and multi-part HTML sagas written in the worst blogese imaginable, the master of negative appeal finally gets into the ring to do what, after all, he ought to be most famous for in the first place: fist-fighting. Coast-to-coast “Ring Kings” junkets—complete with prop thrones not fit for a treehouse production of Macbeth—kicked off overkill coverage the likes of which is usually reserved for Lindsay Lohan. For the E! Online, Gawker, OMG! crowd tired of blinking at blinkering posts about Octomom, Drag Race Superstars, and Kourtney, hot Kim, and Khloë (with an umlaut), there is Floyd Mayweather Jr. to give the sporting crowd its ADD fix. These days who needs the antiquated ballyhoo of P.T. Barnum, Doc Kearns, or even Bob Arum circa 1974, when he let Evel Knievel shoot himself across Snake River Canyon in a haywire rocket ship far less stylish than Space Capsule X? READ MORE

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DIRTY POOL: On David Haye, Dereck Chisora, & Frank Warren

With Warren running a dummy-pass on the BBBoC, it opens the possibility of other managers and promoters doing the same thing. Unfortunately, the BBBoC chose the wrong fellow to knuckle up against. To his competitors, Warren, raised in a council block in Islington during the Kray era, is a deadly combination of Don King and Bob Arum. Although Warren is never seen in public without an elegant suit and a recession-proof wristwatch, there was a time when he could be spotted wearing a t-shirt at a pub full of topless waitresses. The son of a bookmaker, Warren learned early what it took to make money in twilight, and when he reinforced what he gathered from racetracks with a short-lived position as a clerk to a solicitor, he set the foundation for a tumultuously successful 30-year career in boxing. READ MORE

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UNDER SATURN: Johnny Tapia 1967-2012

Johnny Tapia had been killing himself—off and on, now and then, here and there—for years. Addicted to drugs, to prizefighting, to adrenalin rushes, and, finally, addicted to near-death experiences, Tapia was a junkie in a way that most junkies are not. Like a phoenix he rose from the ashes more often than anyone has a right to. Finally, he got it right. Or Death did. Between his battles with a beckoning grave, Tapia lived inside the ring. Call his sordid life a waste if you want; but for some of us, maybe, it was a gift. READ MORE

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Imagine A Day At The End Of Your Life: Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney Revisited

They met thirty years ago under the stars in that neon desert of illusion, Las Vegas, drawn together by hate, cynicism, greed. Mere sports seemed like an afterthought that night. On June 11, 1982, hardscrabble Larry Holmes, whose magnificent bitterness had fueled his rise to the heavyweight championship, met affable Gerry Cooney, young, powerful, Irish, unproven, and feverishly mooned over. With racism looming over the promotion from the day it first kicked off, Holmes-Cooney became a national Rorschach test with ugly interpretations. More than 30,000 spectators gathered to see Holmes and Cooney wage war, with millions more tuning in on closed-circuit, radio, and pay-per-view. It was the biggest fight of its time and, perhaps, a brief glimpse into the dark heart of America. For Cooney, who suggested something out of Clifford Odets—“Like a bullet! All future and no past”— during the Studio 54 heyday, there would be precious few tomorrows in boxing after what happened at Caesars Palace. For Holmes, whose nasty edge never dulled as the years went gray, there were more riches and glories to come…along with enough bleak memories to last a wakeful life. READ MORE

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Caminos Sin Ley: Antonio Margarito

Y Tijuana, también, en cuyas calles su hermano Manuel sería asesinado con un tiro en la nuca. Apenas había dejado la báscula para su pelea número 27 en Forth Worth, Texas, cuando la noticia del asesinato alcanzó su habitación de hotel. Apenas había dado el peso. Sólo él -y otros pocos- pueden decir lo que significa subir al ring con la muerte a cuestas. Mancini creyó haber matado a un hombre y peleaba con la certeza de que cualquier cosa que lograra en el ring era una ganancia, para él y para el hombre que había matado. Al enterarse que el hombre vivía entonces el ring comenzó a darle miedo. READ MORE

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STORMBRINGER: Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley Preview

While it’s clear that Bradley doesn’t have Pacquiao’s firepower, a combination of attributes makes him tough to deal with. He scarcely gets caught with a flush punch, accompanying a low center of gravity with copious head movement. He has a spirited and varied jab to go along with a dedicated body attack. And he’s quick to make sharp deviations from a strategy that begins to flounder. That you rarely see him get handled for a full three minutes of a stanza, or clearly lose two consecutive rounds, is a sign that he’s an intelligent, well-rounded fighter. READ MORE

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One Long Season In Hell: Michael Dokes 1958-2012

From 1984 to late 1987, Dokes spent more time in prison, rehab centers, and on police blotters than in the ring. Dokes swapped abbreviations like NABF and WBA for SWAT and AA. Cocaine was his lodestar. Alcohol, women, parties, and marijuana also guided Dokes through a permanent American midnight. He used so much dope that he was once charged with trafficking. In 1987, a SWAT team crashed his Las Vegas home expecting to find a kingpin like Frank Lucas or Nicky Barnes inside and an arsenal to match. Instead, they found Dokes, a one-man-gang of personal use. “I just poured it out until I thought it was enough,” Dokes told Wallace Matthews. “If you could picture buying a bag of flour, putting a piece of paper on the floor, and just pouring it out until you had what you thought was enough, that’s what I did. I didn’t scale it out, I didn’t measure it out or nothing. I just started pouring.” READ MORE

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The Beauty Of Gesture: Andre Ward-Chad Dawson Preview

Wire walking is similar to bullfighting in its illusory properties: it is a risky act imbued with the seemingly oblivious grace of the performer, whose prime objective is to denude his feat of its danger, to strip it of its one dire possibility: death. The matador retains his poise despite the onrushing bull; his performance is also predicated on his—perversely—heightening risk: the closer his passes are to the bull, the purer his performance. His apparent artlessness is no clearer to the lay spectator than it is when the bull is kept at a safer distance; in this way he achieves his desired effect: to blur, through stylization, the tangible peril he is in. READ MORE

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Only The Lonely: Tim Bradley Without Manny Pacquiao

Merit in boxing is multifarious: there is merit in professionalism, merit in ability, in resilience, aesthetic, even in atavism. There is also financial merit, and while Bradley is an exemplary prizefighter, he sorely lacks the crucial financial element. Rather inexplicably, Bradley doesn’t resonate among the African-American community; aesthetically, his name has become almost taboo. While Marquez can sweeten the pot with money generated through Mexican television rights and a raucous caravan of traveling fans, Bradley brings little more than an honest effort and the dubious distinction of being “the man who beat the man” to the bargaining table. READ MORE

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Hell By Baby Steps: Sergio Martinez-Julio César Chávez Jr. Preview

Of course, 24/7 is an infomercial designed to lure HBO subscribers (who already pay a monthly fee) into shelling out more lettuce for extracurricular programming, but seeing Chávez skip workouts, jog with a knee brace, and wake up at mid-day like the layabout he is often accused of being is disconcerting. Closed or secret training sessions—which marked his initial camp—are often the byproduct of injuries, and Chávez reportedly suffers from fallen arches, which may or may not have forced him to miss workout sessions early. Chávez, who had been moving from one place to another like a government witness going from safe house to safe house, has been at loose ends in Mexico and ensconced in a mansion in Hollywood Hills—like a Barrymore on a bender. He finally wound up in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, where he sometimes popped in for a workout at the Top Rank gym, and where he sometimes hit the mitts in swank digs completely at odds with the atmosphere of a professional prizefighter. Indeed, perhaps no boxer in history has moved so much furniture around in preparation for a big fight. READ MORE

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Orcas Tossing Baby Seals: Saul Alvarez TKO5 Josesito Lopez

Martin Amis once described a particularly squalid, violent London suburb as “a land of italics and exclamation marks.” Boxing, squalid and violent, was deserving of a similar description on this night. Lopez should never have been approved as an opponent. Breaking Ortiz’ jaw and resolve did not magically transform Lopez into a threat to a junior middleweight already his fistic superior. But Lopez could hardly turn down the payday, and he came relatively cheap, so Golden Boy knew they had their mark. To add insult to injury Alvarez was awarded Showtime’s $100,000 “Best Knockout” bonus for pulverizing his hopeless opponent—not by the network mind you, but by the fans, who apparently got the predictably one-sided drubbing they wanted to see. READ MORE

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WHITE KNUCKLES: Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios Preview

Both men put drama into what is, after all, a blood sport (ritualized violence staged for the atavist in all of us), and without that sense of stylized action, you have a Chad Dawson bout. Boxing can be compared to what director Sam Fuller once said about his own profession: “Film is like a battleground. Love. Hate. Action. Violence. Death. In one word . . . emotion.” Remove “death” (except for its symbolic counterpart, the 10-count) and you have a working definition of prizefighting. READ MORE

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DAMAGE, INC. : Brandon Rios TKO7 Mike Alvarado

There was a time when the only way to make good living as a prizefighter was to stir the passions of the crowd. If you failed to do that often enough, promoters (who, for the most part, did not have long-term contracts with fighters prior to the late 1970s) would avoid your phone calls or dash across the street if they saw you sauntering down the block. Fighters were legitimate independent contractors back then, freelancers, whose pay was based on tangible results: delirious crowds, worn out turnstiles, ticket stubs stamped “SRO.” Neither Rios nor Alvarado has any problem causing mass hysteria. And on Saturday night they proved it to a feverish audience of over 7,000. They whipsawed punches in close, lashed out with uppercuts, scored with crosses, hooks, and haymakers, and bared the dark allure behind all legitimate blood sports: the revelation of character and style in the face of adversity. READ MORE

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Legendary Hearts: Robert Guerrero-Andre Berto Preview

As it is, Berto, more mystifying than ever, might as well be managed by Littlefinger, or, perhaps more appropriately, Max Bialystock. After millions of dollars, more appearances on HBO than John from Cincinnati, and hundreds of incomprehensible Tweets, the most you can say about Berto is that he squeaked out a decision against Luis Collazo, beat a weathered Carlos Quintana, and was gobsmacked by Victor Ortiz. You can also add “steroid cheat” to his impressive dossier. But, in the end, none of this matters. READ MORE

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The Last Detail: Can Juan Manuel Marquez Defeat An Aging Manny Pacquiao?

To be sure, Pacquiao is still an outstanding offensive fighter. He still has abnormal hand speed accentuating an unorthodox delivery of blows that can fool even the most savvy of fighters. He still has unique footwork that can keep an opponent who may think he’s well-adjusted unsuspecting of what’s coming next. His toughness is still impenetrable, and the excellent opposition he’s faced over the last year must be factored into any perceived slippage. But looking at the larger trend—including an oddly reticent performance against Shane Mosley—and we can safely conclude that signs of aging are there. READ MORE

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The Chilling: Juan Manuel Marquez KO6 Manny Pacquiao

A knockout this chilling, one that had his wife in hysterics and his promoter wearing the look of a pall bearer, is liable to haunt Pacquiao for some time. Of course, no fighter is better equipped for consolation than Pacquiao, now 54-5-2 (38). Without taking into account the fame, the millions of dollars, and the professionalism and comportment that typified his career, the violence itself promises some relief. Having wreaked similar destruction on a number of men over the course of his career, Pacquiao was certainly aware that such an outcome was always mere inches from reality. Better that Pacquiao be shown the black lights by a fighter worthy of the task and distinction that accompanies it, a man who had fought him on even terms over 42 unforgettable rounds, than by a fighter whose only merit is youth. READ MORE

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