Archive for January 20, 2012

Ramos vs. Rigondeaux: A Fistful of Dollars

Ramos vs. Rigondeaux: A Fistful of Dollars

By Aaron Lloyd

Tonight on ShoBox: The New Generation, Cuban amateur sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux, in just his ninth professional bout, attempts to defy the odds by wresting the WBA junior featherweight title from undefeated Puerto Rican standout Rico Ramos.  Over the last several years, countless great Cuban fighters have found the transition to the professional ranks to be somewhat demoralizing, when compared to the amateur success with which they have grown accustomed.  Fighters like heavyweight Odlanier Solis, the 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist, and light heavyweight Yordanis Despaigne, who amassed a record of 302-16 as an amateur, both found out how difficult the professional fight game can be in terms of competition and divergent styles, as each suffered early losses in their professional careers.

Scoring solely on “unobstructed punches landed on the head and torso” and using a controversial and often misunderstood scoring system that rewards a single point only when a scoring blow is simultaneously recorded by three of the five judges, amateur boxing has come under fire recently for not remaining true to the scoring system utilized in the professional ranks.  Fighters are not incentivized for aggression, or body punching, and knockdowns are treated the same as any other punch landed, which begs the question of whether or not the amateur program actually prepares fighters to succeed at the next level.  If a fighter like Yordanis Despaigne can win 95% of 318 amateur contests yet lose two of his first eleven professional contests, then there is obviously a disconnect between how fighters are trained and taught in each of the corresponding disciplines.  In fact, at the time of this writing, the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) has decided to scrap the controversial scoring system following the 2012 London Olympics, in favor of a more professional “10 point must” system that recognizes and rewards things such as footwork, speed, defense, ring generalship, and style.

So can one of the most successful amateur fighters of all time, a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and winner of more than 400 amateur fights, do the impossible and win in just his ninth pro fight?  Or is he destined to end up like former Heisman Trophy winners Gino Toretta, Danny Wuerffel, Chris Weinke, Eric Crouch, and Jason White and become just another guy who couldn’t cut it in the big leagues?  Personally, I think Rigondeaux has all the tools to be a great professional champion.  He is dedicated in the gym, he has excellent hand speed and defensive ability, and he punches well to the body, particularly given the fact that he has had little use for it until now.  Tonight we will find out whether he has the goods to thrive at this level or whether his previous successes were simply a matter of the headgear making the man.

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Butterbean: Enjoy Every Sandwich

Butterbean: Enjoy Every Sandwich

By Aaron Lloyd

January 13, 2012- Horseshoe Casino, Elizabeth, IN-  For Eric “Butterbean” Esch, it’s time to stop the roller coaster dieting, and the early morning roadwork, and just learn to love the bloated skin you’re in.  Retire the red, white and blue faded oversized trunks, give thanks for the fifteen minutes of fame you had, and for God’s sake put a shirt on and never take it off.  Yes, the tale of “Butterbean,” the quintessential “Four Round Warrior,” came to a fitting end this weekend, as his 360-pound frame served as little more than a punching bag for local fighter Curt Allan, who thrilled the partisan crowd, and avenged his lone professional loss, with a unanimous decision victory over his plus sized antagonist.  Allan danced around, flicking jabs from the outside and landing the occasional combination, while Butterbean lurched forward, frustrated by Allan’s refusal to stand still and allow himself to be hit.  After four grueling (to watch) rounds, the “obscenity inspired” crowd favorite won by a margin of 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37.

The nights’ events were scheduled in honor of local trainer Larry Alvey, who is currently battling throat cancer, and all things considered, the card proved that entertaining boxing can sometimes be found at levels just above the parking lot or a friend’s basement.  The crowd was vocal, energetic, and even in the preliminary bouts where wins on records were about as absent as isolated sobriety, there was still plenty to cheer about.  Many of the undercard bouts were competitive, and the entire night was the byproduct of a worthy cause.

The highlights of the night (ring card girls aside), were provided by three time Chicago Golden Gloves champion, and undefeated light heavyweight , Junior Wright, as well as 5-0 Lawrenceville, Massachusetts heavyweight Alexis Santos, who both won in spectacular fashion.  As mismatched as they were, both prospects displayed glimpses of promising professional careers, so you may want to act fast and get some preferred seating on the bandwagon.  Wright showed great poise when pressured, and a solid technical foundation that was forged through an extensive amateur career, and Santos displayed an unbridled fury, that if kept in check and confined to the ring, could take him a long way.  In all, the night was entertaining at times, revolting at times, but always interesting.  For me personally, I would have to sum up my Butterbean experience by paraphrasing the great Warren Zevon,

“It wasn’t that pretty at all.  I am now going to hurl myself against the wall.  Cause I’d rather feel bad than feel nothing at all.”

As for Butterbean and his impending re-retirement, it is time to sit back, relax, and enjoy every sandwich.

 

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Wladimir Klitschko Does the Comedy on Late Night

Wladimir Klitschko Does the Comedy on Late Night

Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko took a break from his busy schedule of humiliating mediocre pugilistic plebes, to work on his comedic chops with late night funnyman Conan O’ Brien last night, and defend his title as the funnier Klitschko brother.  The relaxed and charming Klitschko wittily spoke on such topics as being mistaken for a lightweight wherever he goes, getting accosted by women in bars, and delivering the perfect pickup line.  It is too bad he ruined the heavyweight division by being so gargantuan and skillful, because he really is a likable guy.

In case you missed it, here are a couple of clips from last nights show:

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Butterbean: Back for Another Swing

Butterbean: Back for Another Swing

By Aaron Lloyd

While many famous “beans” have made their way to the forefront of our collective consciousness over the years, none has had a greater impact on the sport of boxing more so than the 400 pound “Butter” bean.  Yes, Eric “Butterbean” Esch is back in action tonight after more than a two year layoff and Rowan Atkinson better take notice because there is not enough room for two high profile legumes in today’s entertainment matrix.

Despite a record of 77-8-4 with 58 knockouts, “The King of the Four Rounders” is still probably best known for his knockout of Johnny Knoxville in the original Jackass movie.  Besides acting, however, Butterbean also has logged short stints as a kick-boxer (which, I would wager was hampered by flexibility issues), an MMA combatant, and a professional wrestler.  Now, at the age of 45, he is back in the ring to take another swing, in defense of his “4-Round Champion” moniker.

As for his opponent, Curt Allan, he has only fought 9 times, compiling a 7-1-1 record overall with 3 knockouts, and while he has only been stopped once (by Esch almost fifteen years to the day), the combined record of his other 8 opponents is a laughable 40-163-6.  As a boxing pundit I like to think of myself as being above the sheer violence, but this is simply punching for punching’s sake.  Perhaps a follow up bout with Vaughn Bean is in order to establish outright bean supremacy.

(So many rounds to choose from….I guess I’ll take Mr. Bean in the 2nd)

Stay tuned for the ringside report to follow, live starting at 8:00 EST from the Horseshoe Casino in Elizabeth, Indiana.

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