Sports Outside the Beltway

Bernard Hopkins, 48, wins IBF Light Heavyweight title

He broke an age record he set himself back in 2011.

Hopkins became the oldest boxer to win a major title on Saturday night, scoring a 12-round unanimous decision over Tavoris Cloud to claim the IBF light heavyweight championship.

“It feels good. It feels real good,” Hopkins said. “I’m going to Junior’s (Restaurant and) I’m going to have cheesecake.”

The 48-year-old Hopkins broke the record he set by beating Jean Pascal for the WBC light heavyweight title on May 21, 2011. When asked which fight meant more, Hopkins said “tonight was better. Because I’m older. (It’s) more gratifying.

“Tonight was one of the bigger fights (in my career).”

And while he reveled in what he accomplished, he was looking toward the future. Hopkins, who was adamant that he will not fight past 50, laid a challenge at the feet of the 175-pound and 168-pound divisions.

“I’m motivated to do it,” Hopkins said. “I don’t believe anybody in the 175(-pound) weight class and possibly the 168(-pound) class can beat me.”

Hopkins, fighting his 19th title bout, improved to 53-6-2 in the main event of an eight-fight card at the Barclays Center. The 30-year-old Cloud fell to 19-1.

“It was great to break (in) the Barclays Center with a (legendary) performance,” Hopkins said.

With Hopkins forcing a patient, technical match, Cloud was unable to press the issue and Hopkins circled him, landing jabs to his face, eventually opening a cut above his left eye.

“I have to throw a lot of substance (into fights). I’m fighting old school in a new world. (I) have to learn to adapt to what (the judges) are looking for,” Hopkins said. “We knew a 30-year-old guy was not going to run from a 48-year-old guy.”

Hopkins connected on 169 of 417 punches. Cloud landed 139 of 650.- ESPN

A 48-year-old can win a boxing title. Is it because of a lack of good fighters in his weight class or that there are too many boxing titles.

Keith Thurman won the WBO intercontinental welterweight title with a 12-round, unanimous decision over Jan Zaveck. Thurman improved to 20-0 and Zaveck fell to 32-3.

Intercontinental and WBO. Not to mention the IBF plus WBA and WBC. Sounds like too much alphabetical soup to me.


Wladimir Klitschko retains WBO and IBF heavyweight belts

The Ukranian won for the 53rd time in 56 career fights. From AP-

Wladimir Klitschko knocked out Eddie Chambers in the 12th and final round to retain his WBO and IBF heavyweight belts Saturday night.

The taller, heavier Klitschko dominated the fight and ended it with a left hook 5 seconds before the final bell. The American went down heavily and needed a couple of minutes to recover. The referee never bothered to count.

The 33-year-old Ukrainian improved to 53-3 and scored his 48th KO. Chambers lost for the second time in 37 fights.

Klitschko caught Chambers with a big right that nearly floored him late in the second round. Chambers staggered but survived the round by clinging onto Klitschko.

Otherwise, Klitschko jabbed his way through a largely dull fight, with Chambers mainly trying to limit the damage.

A dull fight. How many people in the United States viewed it? Most big title bouts are on Pay per view today and honestly while it is profitable for the sport, it also marginalizes boxing. Other than Manny Pacquiao, I can’t name a champion fighter in any weight division.(Another problem the sport has is- Too many champions. WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF etc) As a kid I watched plenty of title fights either in Network prime-time or the Wide World of Sports but those just aren’t done today. I’d follow the sport more if I didn’t have to pay $50 plus for 36 minutes of action.


Manny Pacquiao wins unanimous decision over Joshua Clottey

Pac Man does it again. From AP-

Fighting on the star, Manny Pacquiao showed once again why he is such a star.Pacquiao Clottey Boxing

With the biggest fight crowd in the U.S. in 17 years cheering him on at Cowboys Stadium, Pacquiao dominated a strangely passive Joshua Clottey from the opening bell Saturday night to retain his welterweight title and cement his status as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

The fight wasn’t close, and it was never in doubt. It was so one-sided that even those in the cheap seats among the crowd of 50,994 could tell without looking at the giant video screens over the ring that Pacquiao was in total command.

Rafael: Show And Prove

Round after round, Manny Pacquiao, the greatest fighter in the world, proved he’s truly one of the best, Dan Rafael writes. Story

One ringside judge gave Pacquiao every round, while the two others gave him all but one. The Associated Press scored it a shutout for the Filipino sensation.

It wasn’t as flashy as his knockout of Ricky Hatton or as savage as the beating he gave Oscar De La Hoya, but there was no doubt Pacquiao was in command the entire way against a fighter who kept his gloves up high in front of his face and chose to engage him only in spurts. Clottey’s strategy worked to keep him upright, but he was never competitive in the biggest fight of his career.

I thought the De La Hoya fight was closer that last night’s. Will Pacquiao take on Floyd Mayweather next? I think Pacquiao will lose if he does.


Promoter says Pacquiao-Mayweather bout is off

The super fight was tentatively scheduled for March 13th. From AP-

Manny Pacquiao’s promoters said his prospective bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. was dead late Wednesday night after a mediation session failed to resolve the fighters’ differences, scrapping what was likely to be the richest fight in boxing history.

The bout was slated for March 13 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, but Top Rank said it couldn’t reach an agreement with Golden Boy Promotions, which represented Mayweather in the negotiations, after nine hours of mediation Tuesday and more discussions Wednesday.

Although neither side was allowed to publicly discuss the specifics of their dispute, Mayweather apparently balked at a compromise in the drug-testing issues first raised by the former welterweight champion.

Pacquiao is now suing Mayweather for defamation. Honestly, I think this is really all hype to promote the fight. It’s been done before, create a ‘controversy’ in the days leading up to an event. This so the event or product is constantly in the news. IMHO, the word of boxing promoters can be relied on about as much as political campaign promises.


Crystal Ball Time

My annual sports predictions for the upcoming year. Due to some unknown reason, I skipped doing this a year ago. What matters is I came back, right?

1 Cleveland beats the LA Lakers for the NBA Championship
2 Indianapolis defeats Arizona in the Super Bowl Crystall ball
3 San Jose defeats Washington for the Stanley Cup
4 St. Louis beats the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series
5 Tiger Woods returns to golf, wins at least one tournament but no major championships. That is a risky prediction in light of the fact that Tiger has won majors on 3 of this year’s host courses.(Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews)
6 Phil Mickelson wins the US Open
7 Michelle Wie wins at least two tournaments, one of which is a major championship
8 Ji Yai Shin is LPGA player of the year
9 A non-Korean golfer will be LPGA rookie of the year
10 Yu-Na Kim wins figure skating gold at the 2010 Olympics
11 The Miami Dolphins don’t make this year’s playoffs but have a winning 2010 season
12 The Miami Heat make the playoffs but lose in the 1st round
13 The Florida Marlins have a winning record but don’t make the playoffs
14 Urban Meyer doesn’t return as coach of the Florida Gators
15 Joe Paterno announces his retirement after the 2010 Penn State season is complete
16 The Florida Panthers don’t make the playoffs
17 The Florida Panthers trade Goalie Tomas Vokoun
18 Manny Pacquiao loses to Floyd Mayweather
19 Kansas defeats Purdue for the NCAA Basketball Championship
20 Texas defeats Alabama in the BCS Championship game
21 Army has a winning football season and gets a bowl invitation
22 Washington Redskins fire Coach Jim Zorn
23 Serena Williams wins at Wimbledon
24 Versus and Directv finally settle their dispute
25 A North American horse racing track closes its doors.
26 Sebastian Vettel wins the Formula World Drivers Championship
27 New York Rangers fire Coach John Tortorella
28 The New Jersey Nets don’t finish with the worst record in NBA history
29 Connecticut defeats Tennessee for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship
30 At least half these predictions are wrong

We’ll come back on December 31st 2010 and see how I did.


Edwin Valero remains WBC lightweight champion

IMHO this fight was just a tune up for the Venezuelan. From AP-

Edwin Valero stopped veteran Hector Velazquez after six rounds Saturday night to keep his WBC lightweight title in a town on Venezuela’s Caribbean coast.Valero

The 28-year-old Valero (26-0, 26 KOs) was bleeding from an eyebrow and his nose after a pair of accidental head-butts early in the fight. But the feisty Venezuelan kept attacking, giving Velazquez (51-14-2) his third loss in four fights.

It was Valero’s first defense since winning the belt in April with a second-round knockout of Antonio Pitalua in Austin, Texas. Valero is already planning to defend the title in early 2010 against Antonio DeMarco, who holds the interim WBC belt.

Unification are given a great deal publicity but they are a very transparent gimmick. Say fighter AB wins the WBA and WBC flyweight title. He has to defend his belt, but both boxing organizations demand the fighter take on the highest ranked challenger. Which is almost never the same fighter. So when AB signs to fight one organization’s challenger, the remaining group strips him of the other title. The unification rarely lasts for long.

The fight Saturday night was held just outside Caracas – Valero’s first fight since problems renewing his U.S. visa prevented him from defending his title in Las Vegas last month against junior lightweight champion Humberto Soto.

Valero at the time accused the U.S. government of discrimination, saying he had completed all the necessary paperwork and that his application wasn’t approved in time because of his sympathy for Venezuela President Hugo Chavez – a fierce critic of the U.S. government. Valero has an image of Chavez tattooed on his chest along with a Venezuelan flag.

Authorities say that Valero has a pending drunken driving charge in Texas, which is the primary reason he was denied a visa.

I’ve blogged many times about the broken U.S. immigration system but in Valero’s case I believe his legal problems not his political stance is what caused him visa problems. Legal immigrants to the United States who haven’t acquired citizenship yet can lose their residency by being found guilty of a felony.


WBC wants to ban fathers from son’s corners

They already have a rule in place. From AP-

The World Boxing Council wants to banish once and for all fathers from working their sons’ corners during fights after a study showed it could prove fatal.

Speaking at the WBC’s annual convention, council president Jose Sulaiman said the organization already had a rule banning fathers from their sons’ corners but that it was being flouted.

The WBC must strictly enforce this law to prevent errors in judgment that could lead to tragedy in the ring, Sulaiman added.

Dr. Paul Wallace, chairman of the WBC’s Medical Advisory Board, said that a study in California backed up the WBC’s stance.

“The most common factor out of all the fatalities that had happened, was having fathers in the corner,” he said of the study. “Now, that’s not something that’s a medical issue, but it’s something that’s clearly an association.”

Art Pelullo, president of Banner Promotions, said the emotional link between father and son should preclude them working so closely together during a fight.

“A father is not detached enough to make the right decision, because he’s looking at what he loves and maybe not seeing what’s really going on,” Pelullo said.

Experts and the WBC believe a father can’t look at what is taking place strictly as a trainer rather than as a parent. I don’t know if I agree or disagree, but if the WBC doesn’t want fathers in the corner, they should strictly enforce the rules they have now.


Hall of Fame Boxing Referee and Judge Lou Filippo dead at 83

He also appeared in four of the ‘Rocky’ movies. RIP.

Lou Filippo, a California referee and judge for more than 30 years and member of the World Boxing Hall of Fame, died Monday in Los Angeles. He was 83.

Before becoming one of the top ring officials and refereeing and judging dozens of world championship bouts, Filippo boxed professionally as a lightweight from 1947 to 1957, exclusively in Southern California. The World War II veteran compiled a professional record of 23-9-3 with 8 KOs.

He finished his career with a pair of fights against Hall of Famer and former lightweight champion Carlos Ortiz, a nine-round no-decision followed by a seventh-round knockout loss.

Filippo’s presence in the ring led to numerous television and film appearances, including parts as a referee in the second, third, fourth and fifth installments of the “Rocky” films.

Filippo began refereeing and judging in the mid-1970s, working primarily in Southern California. But he was also associated with the WBC, which held a moment of silence and a 10-bell count in Filippo’s honor during its annual convention, taking place this week in Jeju, South Korea.

Perhaps Filippo’s most famous judging assignment came in 1987, when he served on the panel for the controversial Sugar Ray Leonard-”Marvelous” Marvin Hagler middleweight championship fight in Las Vegas.

Boxing fans argue to this day about who deserved to win the fight, although Leonard was awarded a split-decision victory. It was Filippo who scored the fight for Hagler 115-113.


Army to lift boxing ban in South Korea

A ban had been in place since a PFC died last year.

The U.S. Army in South Korea will lift its ban on boxing matches, but participants will have to follow several new safety rules, an Army spokesman said Tuesday.Army boxing

The ban was imposed last fall after Army Pfc. Jason Price collapsed during a boxing match and later died.

The new rules will apply to all “high-risk contact” sporting competitions, including wrestling, mixed martial arts and tae kwon do.

The rules govern only soldiers and civilians assigned within 8th Army in South Korea and do not apply to regular unit martial arts training, said Maj. Jerome L. Pionk, an 8th Army spokesman in Seoul.- Stars and Stripes

Physicals will be mandatory under the new rules for anyone who wants to take part in these sports. I have mixed feelings about servicemembers being allowed to take part in boxing. The sport, no matter how many precautions are taken, can cause permanent health problems that are sometimes not detected for years. My father used to own standardbred race horses and one of the driver/trainers who my father used was named Billy Pocza*. Pocza had once been a heavyweight fighter and sparring partner for Champion Jersey Joe Walcott.Charlie Zam

While still short of 50 years of age, Billy Pocza’s mental condition started to deterioate. He eventually died sometime in the mid-80’s and I know he was somewhere around 55 years of age at the time. The slow degeneration of Pocza’s mental abilities was sad for his family. His son Jay(who was the same age as I give or take a year) and I were friends back when our fathers had a business relationship and I was over to the Pocza’s Florida home a couple of times.

While I don’t advocate a ban on boxing, I rather not see an Army family have to go through what Jay Pocza did with his father. There are other sports that carry few if any risks.

*- That is a 1972 photo taken at Brandywine racetrack of a horse named Charlie Zam after he won a race. From Left to right- My grandfather, me, my father, Charlie Zam, Billy Pocza, Jay Pocza, Jody Pocza, unidentified woman.

I remember this race and time well. Charlie won by five lengths, a day or two some storm hit the mid-Atlantic seaboard causing me, Grandpa, and Dad to stay holed up in a Delaware hotel for an entire day, and the binoculars around my neck had been given to me by Grandpa just before we left on this trip.


No luck for the Irish- Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym wins WBA Super Bantamweight title

If he ever marries his fellow Thai, Virada Nirapathpongporn, LPGA scorers and golf headline writers will encounter their worst nightmare. From AP*-

Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym of Thailand has stopped Bernard Dunne of Ireland in the third round to win the WBA super-bantamweight title.Ireland Boxing Poonsawat Dunne

The Thai landed a trio of powerful left hooks in the third round on Saturday in Dublin, each time sending Dunne to the mat. The referee stopped the fight after the third knockdown as blood flowed from the Dubliner’s nose and left ear.

The 28-year-old Poonsawat (39-1) had waited 18 months for his shot at the title. It was his first professional victory outside Thailand. Before the fight he predicted he would knock out the hometown favorite within seven rounds.

Dunne only held the title for six months.


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