In the late 1990’s the future of the heavyweight division looked very promising. HBO held several telecasts featuring the top prospects pitted against each other. Oh I miss the days when HBO was still relevant to boxing. Larry Merchant ranked the top 5 “can’t miss” prospects during one of the shows, which in order was Michael Grant, Ike Ibeabuchi, David Tua, Hasim Rahman, and Oleg Maskaev. Though you can’t always trust Merchant (he one time declared that Dominick Guinn was the best American heavyweight prospect since Riddick Bowe, yikes!), the rest of the boxing world was in agreement that we were on the verge of another golden age of heavyweight boxing.
So what the heck happened? Ibeabuchi was sent to jail for a lengthy prison term that he is still serving today. David Tua flopped in his only title shot against Lennox Lewis, although he is frequently mentioned as one of the best heavyweights to never win a title. Oleg Maskaev and Michael Grant turned out to have glass jaws that were exposed on multiple occasions. Hasim Rahman was the only one to win the undisputed title, but that one only for a brief moment before getting leveled by Lennox Lewis and turning into the Buster Douglas of his generation.
Grant, the most highly regarded, turned out to be the biggest bust of them all. “Big” Mike, like a blast from the past, was back in action this weekend against Tomasz Adamek. I think most figured that Grant was retired since he had been out of the spotlight for a long score. Little did we know that he had been training and fighting on the down low all of this time, determinedly trying to realize the impossible expectations that many had of him in the late 1990s.
At Grant’s lowest point, his psyche and chin appeared so fragile that I would assume that any schmuck off of the street would have been able to knock him out with a hay-maker. With that said, I applaud Grant’s moderate success against real contender Tomasz Adamek on Saturday. Ultimately he lost a decision, but for the first time in his career, Grant was not knocked down or out against a top ranked contender. Michael had some good moments and made the fight close, proving that his psyche had finally recovered, although this effort appears too little too late to make any true impact to the heavyweight division.
Adamek clearly looked like a cruiserweight, or blown up light heavyweight, fighting as a heavyweight, instead of a true heavyweight. Still, that doesn’t mean that he can’t make some noise in a very shallow, weak division. In a different era I would advise Tomasz to fight guys his own size, but in today’s landscape, I give him my blessing to knock around these inept overgrown clowns (as long as he stays away from the Klitschko brothers!).
In this week’s mailbag, I start off with a preview of Saturday’s UFC fight between boxing legend James Toney and MMA legend Randy Couture. Hope you enjoy the bag and be sure to send in your questions, comments and feedback.
Is Toney Live Against Couture?
Okay Brian, give it to me straight here. Am I crazy for being really excited to see James Toney try his hand at the UFC against Randy Couture? I know that since the rules are going to be MMA and Toney has no experience with that, he is going to be a large underdog. But I really think he has a chance here. I am bias though. I’ve been a huge boxing fan all of my life and agree with Floyd Mayweather when he says that the UFC is full of second rate athletes and beer drinkers who couldn’t cut it in boxing. Boxers are the cream of the crop, so I think Toney is going to win this one.
I’ve already been called delusional by some of my friends who like both boxing and UFC, but we’ll see on Saturday. I can’t believe I would ever say this but I am guy to buy a UFC pay per view and am really stoked about watching it.
What do you think?
In a boxing match, Toney would destroy Couture. In an MMA match, Couture should have a pretty easy time with Toney. Switching sports is a huge and difficult feat that should not be treated lightly. “Lights Out” appears to be a natural fighter so if he was brought up to train MMA and came through the ranks in that sport, then sure, I think he could have reached great heights.
However Toney is old, out of shape, and far past his prime at this point. I’m sure you have heart the old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. He would not only have to learn new tricks, but he would have to totally reinvent his fighting style.
Toney vs. Couture is a circus fight and a throwback to the pioneer days of the UFC when they were trying to find out what fighting style would win out when pitted against each other. Every bit of logic and critical thinking says that Couture, an MMA legend, is going to use his experience to embarrass a novice.
Yet as much as I discount the fight as a sideshow attraction, I must admit that I am curious. Yes, Toney is past his prime, but Couture is also very old for a fighter and past his prime. If Couture gets Toney to the ground, this fight is all over. James has no experience fighting off of his feet and wouldn’t know what to do.
The only success that a boxer has had in MMA was Ray Mercer knocking out former UFC Heavyweight Champ Tim Sylvia in a matter of seconds. Toney’s only shot is to catch Couture standing up, either foolishly trying to trade, or before the fight has a chance to go to the ground. Any other outcome has Couture winning with some kind of silly leg lock or submission hold.
Can you imagine the ruckus that Toney would make if he actually pulled off this huge upset? He would give credibility to all of the MMA slander that boxers have directed toward the sport since it started becoming insanely popular. Being a former elite boxer, I suppose at the very least you can say that Toney has a puncher’s chance. The odds of him actually converting that chance is very slim. I don’t blame you for being excited though. Have fun watching the fight on Saturday and rooting for “Lights Out”.
Haye vs. Adamek at Heavy
Who do you think would win in a heavyweight fight between the two former Cruiserweight Champions who are now fighting at heavyweight? You’ve got the WBA Champion David Haye in one corner and Polish Tomasz Adamek who has strung together a few nice wins. Personally I think Haye wins it but I want to see what you thought.
Well, first I will say that Adamek vs. Haye would be a very good match up since both should be ranked in similar spots. Some would like to rank Haye above Adamek because he has a trinket, but I would argue that the quality of opposition combined with clear cut wins would favor Adamek so there is an argument for Tomasz to be ranked higher.
But enough about ranking, this is about who would win. Haye would come out fast like he always does and Adamek has never been known to back down from anyone. They would slug it out in the early rounds giving fans a terrific show. Adamek would then try to use his boxing skills for a few rounds after feeling Haye’s power. In the end, I see a desperate last stand by a tired Haye being successful enough to crack the chin of Adamek, leaving Haye the winner by 9th round TKO. Haye has many flaws, and his overzealous attacking is one of them at times, but he is a tremendous athlete with quick hands and crushing power.
Good fight though, and I’d love to see it to see who would really win since they are both top 5 heavyweights at the moment. Anytime that two top 5 heavyweights square off I am on board. Sadly you just don’t see that very often anymore.
Check it out, I have some conspiracy theories that I wanted to run past you.
The Senior and Junior Grind: Could it be that Mayweather Sr. and Jr. might indeed not have been in such a tussle as bad as the public was led to believe? It’s possible that, that supposed rift between them was manufactured, a lie plausible enough that it was able to serve as a conduit for an agenda that is duplicitous and, should it work, lucrative for their party. And the key to their machination’s success was Oscar De La Hoya, who, at the time, was undoubtedly the undisputed king of PPV.
If I remember precisely, their supposed heated father-son rivalry soared to unimaginable heights only when Floyd Mayweather Sr. opted to train Oscar De La Hoya instead of his own son. As reported, it was the primary given reason as to why Floyd Jr. had wanted a piece of the Golden Boy. At first, Floyd Sr. was very vocal that if a fight should happen between his ward, De La Hoya, and his own son, Floyd Jr., he would not be in Oscar’s corner – that he would not train someone to beat his own son. However, when the fight became as certain as death itself that it is going to happen, Floyd Sr. began to turn a full 360, being equally vocal as when he was opposed to the idea that he would now train Oscar to teach his son a lesson, even naming his price for such a feat. From 2 million – 7 million dollars, if I’m not mistaken.
Perhaps Oscar smelled the rat that he thought it best to go with another trainer to fight Floyd Jr. or perhaps Oscar De La Hoya was simply too morally grounded that he saw a father training someone to destroy his own son was wrong.
If one would view the scenario with a conspiratorial eye, one would say that Floyd Sr. was Mr. Inside and Floyd Jr. was Mr. Outside.
The Plaster Hands.
Could it be that Antonio Margarito was indeed oblivious to the charges against him concerning the illegal hand-wraps with Camp Mosley staging everything from Zero to Hundred to implicate an innocent man? If Margarito is adamant to this day about his innocence… maybe there is a chance that he is?
The Miraculous Man.
This one here, my friend, I believe I am on spot, downright accurate: Dan Miragliotta. This guy is outright impossible. We have seen him do the unthinkable in the rings of MMA and yet he is still able to oversee the pinnacle and most important of battles. He can be the closest to and above Championship Contention Eliminators and Championship Fights when he wants and decides solely upon his own discretion on what its outcome will be when he wants.
If, like me, you bore witness to the then WWF’s storyline about The Undertaker answering to a higher power, whom was later revealed to be Vince McMahon, you would no doubt realize that Dana White and Co. and every MMA sanctioning body in the world answer to one ruling power, the Higher Power who is no other than Dan Miragliotta himself.
Here are my thoughts on your conspiracy theories:
Mayweather – I am almost 100% sure that the Mayweather father-son dysfunctional relationship is at least partially true. Floyd left his father as a trainer and manager for his uncle Roger and there was bad blood because of that. There is also the story that Floyd Senior tried to use his baby son as a bullet shield. I am not going to completely discount your theory that Senior could have played an inside man and somehow played a role in Floyd securing that fight against Oscar. But to think that Junior and Senior are best buddies with no problems? Nah, I’m not buying that. Their relationship frigid at best. That or they are the best actors who have ever lived.
Margarcheato – Come on, how could you not know? Wouldn’t you wonder why your hand-wraps are made of stone after the fight when they take your gloves off? But to humor you, let’s say that Margarito didn’t know what was going on. Shane Mosley and his camp had nothing to do with any wrong doing or conspiracy to frame a poor innocent Antonio Margarito. In the extremely unlikely case that Margarito did not know that his hand-wraps were doctored, then his trainer was sole culprit gaining an edge without his fighter knowing. That is Margarito’s story anyway.
The only reason that Antonio is adamant about his innocence is that he is in too deep with his lie. He has professed his innocence ever since the incident happened over a year ago. If he changed his story now he will be admitting that he cheated and that he is a big liar. Margarito is in the same predicament that Roger Clemens is in baseball. They are both clearly cheaters and guilty of a serious infraction but are so far gone in their lying and denial that there is no going back. Their egos will not allow them to abandon their fake stories, especially since coming clean will mean a huge deal of public embarrassment.
Dan Miragliotta – Hey man, you know more about MMA than I do so I’ll take your word for it. You might be onto something big SJ!!
Thanks for reading all. Take care until next time.