Tag Archives: welterweight

Punished enough? Margarito makes his return to boxing

Antonio Margarito Training

Antonio Margarito training for his comeback fight

Former world champion Antonio Margarito returns to ring in Aguascalientes, Mexico this coming weekend, after a crushing technical knockout defeat and a years suspension respectively. Margarito was once the man to be avoided in the welterweight division – a  massive brawling, Mexican tough guy that broke his opponents down with seemingly endless brute strength. Margarito was dodged shamefully by the ruling elite in the welterweight division – you never heard Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao calling him out for a fight.  

Handwraps changed everything though – a few months after his astonishing, violent beat down of Miguel Cotto, Margarito faced off against modern legend Sugar Shane Mosley. Once again Mosley seemed willing to fight just about anyone for a pay-day, there were few pundits or fans alike that were picking him to be anything other than cannon fodder for Margarito though. Before the fight however, in Margarito’s dressing room, Shane Mosley’s trainer Nasim Richardson noticed something was wrong. It was the handwraps. More accurately its was what fell out of the handwraps onto the floor that caused concern – lumps of hardening plaster. Furore broke out – the plaster lumps were seized by the boxing commission, and Margarito entered the ring after having his hands re-wrapped three times.  

The rest as they say is history. The man who entered the ring against Mosley was a shell of his former ring self. He was battered in brutal fashion, and knocked out in nine rounds. Mosley had vindicated himself as a reborn fighter and Margarito’s myth was shattered. That was just the start of it. Margarito was eventually banned from boxing for a year – a paltry sentence to my mind as the beating Cotto took and the disfigured, swollen face he was left with at the end of that fight pointed strongly to the likelihood of Margarito using illegal padding in his previous fights. Illegal padding of gloves is about as reprehensible as its gets – the risk fighters undertake entering the ring is bad enough without loaded gloves being added into the mix.  

The questions around Margarito’s comeback abound – should be allowed to return so soon if at all? How much talent and skill does he really have without loaded gloves? Should he be allowed to return so easily into world championship level in potentially big fights in the future?

If he wins on Saturday I am not convinced we will have any of the answers – the ten round fight is nothing more than a trumped-up warm up to bigger things down the line. The Mexican fans have welcomed their countryman back with open arms, but whether mainstream American fans and TV networks will do the same remains to be seen.

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Julio Cesar Chavez – El Gran Campeón Mexicano!

Picture a moment in time if you will: it’s the final seconds of the 12th round of a WBC and IBF  light welterweight championship title fight in Las Vegas, 1990.  

Julio Cesar Chavez

El Gran Campeón Mexicano

Eleven savage rounds have already passed and Julio Cesar Chavez is losing the fight, the judges, everyone watching and Chavez himself knows it. All his opponent Meldrick Taylor has to do is remain standing and he wins the belts and more importantly takes Chavez’s unbeaten record of 68 wins away from him.  

With 20 seconds left on the clock Chavez who has been stalking his man doggedly throughout the entire fight connects the right hand he had been waiting to land all night and wipes Taylor out. When Taylor staggers to his feet the referee Richard Steele waves the fight off with Taylor in no state to continue.  

Controversial as the referees decision was, for me Chavez showed the virtues in that fight that he had displayed throughout his ring entire career – aggression, pressure and a mindset of coming to battle – to walk through all that was thrown at him and destroy!  

Chavez finally retired in his twenty-fifth year as a professional boxer with a record of 107 wins, 6 losses and 2 draws, with 86 knockouts. He holds records for most successful defenses of world titles – 27! and most title fights – 37! 

Chavez also has the longest undefeated streak in boxing history. His record was 89-0-1 going into his first loss to Frankie Randall and had an 87 fight win streak until his controversial draw with Whitaker. 

For those keen to know more about Chavez track down Diego Luna’s recent film: 

Sweet as sugar, Ray Robinson the greatest fighter of all time

Think of boxing superstars and you probably think of Muhammad Ali. When you think of Ali what is it that sticks in your mind? The Ali shuffle? The public persona? It’s no secret that Ali took more than just a touch of inspiration from a certain Walker Smith Jnr, better known as Sugar Ray Robinson calling him “The king, the master, my idol”. 

So what is so special about Sugar Ray, why all the fuss? 

Sugar Ray Robinson

Sugar Ray Robinson

Put simply he personified the sweet science  – knockout power in both hands, dazzling hand speed, stunning footwork, brash super confidence, he knew every punch in the booking text-book and could throw them all, from any angle at any time with explosive power. 

He was so good the whole notion of a pound for pound best boxer was created just for Sugar Ray – that’s how special he was. 

If you have seen the great film Raging Bull you may remember Robinson’s epic battles with Jake laMotta, they actually fought six times, with Sugar Ray winning five of the six battles. 

Robinson retired from boxing with a record of 175-19-6 with 110 knockouts in 200 professional bouts. If you compare that to todays great fighters who tend to retire after around 50 professional fights that will give you some context to this achievement. 

I genuinely struggle to put into words how good Sugar Ray Robinson was, to watch him in action is to see something that perhaps only comes around once in history. 

Words like genius and legend are banded around so often these days that they have lost their impact, but Sugar Ray really personified both traits. 

Watch this video – really do watch it – if you’ve never seen him in action before you are in for something very special indeed:

Edwin Valero – an introduction to the Venezuelan knockout artist

Edwin ValeroPerhaps the most devastating force in world boxing today, Edwin Valero stands on the cusp of mainstream success despite career setbacks that would have derailed lesser fighters.  

In 2001 Valero riding a motorbike without a helmet was involved in an accident that resulted in a fractured skull and surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain. Cleared by a Venezuelan doctor to fight, in January 2004 he failed a brain scan for an upcoming fight with American network HBO and was banned from fighting in the US.  

Forced to fight wherever would take him – and he spent much of his early career fighting in Japan. His southpaw stance, ultra aggressive style – walking his opponent down, cutting the ring off combined with his disregard for boxing basics – he keeps his guard low, head straight up and his chin exposed, mouth open as he punches, continues to bring a raw charm to this fighter.  

A few facts and figures – he has won all 27 of his fights by knockout. 19 of those knockouts in the first round. That is devastating power.  

In his last outing Valero added previously hidden boxing skills to the power and aggression that are his trademark – forcing the highly regarded Antiono De Marco to be pulled out by his corner at the end of the ninth round. Valero suffered a deep cut to the forehead in this fight (caused by an accidental elbow) – the WBC in its infinite wisdom has now made him “Lightweight champion in recess” while he recovers. A rumoured move to light welterweight – the territory of Amir Khan, Ricky Hatton and Timothy Bradley could and should propel this fighter to boxing mainstream.  

Edwin Valero

Edwin Valero

If he could carry the power up two weight divisions to  welterweight – as Manny Pacquiao has done, then big pay days in Vegas could lie ahead. Texas has now cleared Valero to fight there – a US audience and following is vital in today’s market. 

So what are your thoughts? Does Valero have the boxing skills to compete in the hardest weight classes in boxing? Will his explosive power move up with him? Will the brain scan scupper mainstream US fights? Is there anyone out there better? 

Here’s a little taste of him in action: