Saturday In The Park: Ho-Hum Another Jam-Packed Saturday Night

It’s a busy weekend at the Jarry Park headquarters. Not only did we have the IFL season opener and Bute-Joppy last night, UFC 82 and Marquez-Vazquez III tonight, we’re also putting the finishing touches on our brand-spankin’ new website.

Remember those promises about a newer website? Dreams do come true my friends because it’s on the way.

So, I am going to keep things short and sweet this morning. Below are a few videos to get you all pumped up for tonight’s action.

First up, a nice piece of footage highlighting the beauty that was Marquez-Vazquez I & II. On March 3, 2007, in their first meeting, Rafael Marquez defeated Israel Vazquez in the 7th to capture the WBC Super Bantamweight title. Five months later, Vazquez snatched his title back with a 6th round TKO victory. They meet again tonight at the site of their first war – The Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. I’m expecting Marquez to win another slug-a-rama.Thousands of miles away in Columbus, OH, Dan Hednderson and Anderson Silva meet to unify the Pride and UFC Middleweight titles. As I said earlier this week, I have been looking forward to this one for a long time. However, I am going against Sam Caplan’s prediction because I believe Silva will stand a little taller yet again. He will win the battle in the clinch and despite Hendo’s wrestling skills and strength I think Silva’s prowess on the feet will prove to be the difference. The man is an amazing fighter but let’s not get carried away with the Mike Tyson comparisons. That’s one of the craziest comparisons I have heard in a long time. He doesn’t look like Mike, act like Mike and even fight like Mike. Plus, Mike doesn’t possess ninja skills like this:

Enjoy the fights, friends. Take it all in and we’ll discuss later.

Mid-Afternoon Muesli: Book Pavlik vs. Trinidad NOW!

***UPDATE: Looks like I need to update my top 5 MMA draws. Couture and Liddell can draw their 500,000+ buys but Kimbo, man, he draws CBS.

I would like to take this moment to retract any and all negative comments I have made over the last few weeks with regards to a potential Kelly Pavlik vs. Felix Trinidad bout. As you may recall, when I first heard the rumor that this fight was being discussed I became deeply depressed. I thought it would be a step back for Pavlik and would ultimately prove nothing.

Then, I read that Pavlik-Taylor II only generated 225,000 pay-per-view buys and, instantly, I saw the light. If Felix Trinidad can get 500,000 people to pay 50 bucks to watch him lose to Roy Jones Jr. I bet he can at least get 350-400,000 to purchase a Pavlik-Trinidad tilt. Maybe even more. It’s sad to say but Pavlik needs the rub. At this point, he won’t get it from anyone but Trinidad.

Furthermore, I can’t help but wonder if Kimbo Slice had anything to do with that low buy rate? Now, I know the Pavlik fight was on pay-per-view and Kimbo’s fight wasn’t but I also know a ton of casual fight fans who chose to watch Slice-Abbott over what was sure to be a great rematch between Pavlik-Taylor.

When The Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale‘s pulled in a great rating on Spike on the same night as Mayweather-Hatton (1.8 household; 2.8 in the Male 18-34 demo) it proved that there isn’t a huge crossover between MMA and boxing fans anymore (or ever was). However, this particular case may prove to be a little different because Slice is more popular to the general Joe Sports Fan than Pavlik and Taylor combined. Sad, I know, but true. However, Pavlik is way too good to have only 225,000 buys attached to his first title defense.

Bob Arum must learn from the Kimbo Phenomenon and if he wants to expose Pavlik to the world he needs to match him up against a personality and icon like Tito Trinidad. Fans buy fights to see fighters they love or hate get it on. For the most part, they prefer flash over substance. That’s why the UFC did whatever it had to do to sign Lesnar and are passing on the likes of Matt Lindland. That’s why UFC 81 will highly surpass UFC 82 in PPV buys. It’s also why Kelly Pavlik should fight Felix Trinidad as soon as he can.

The Second Coming Of The Star Of David

A year later, Dmitriy Salita returns to the ring

Boy does time fly. The last time boxing fans saw Dmitriy Salita (27-0, 15 KO) compete in the ring was almost one full year ago. March 22, 2007, to be exact.

So, where has he been hiding? Well, we covered that drama when we chatted with him last month but now it’s time to focus on the present and, more specifically, his upcoming bout this Thursday against Jermaine White (16-3, 8 KO) at the Roseland Ballroom in New York.

Actually, Salita’s name has been all over the news lately. First came the split with DiBella Entertainment. Then came the release of a documentary on his life entitled “Orthodox Stance.” And finally, the big one, he was rumored to be one of the three opponents Oscar De La Hoya was considering to fight in his next bout. The winner of the DLH sweepstakes (the three candidates were Salita, Steve Forbes and Paulie Malignaggi) would surely enjoy the biggest pay day and exposure of his career. Needless to say, New York City was pulling for one of Brooklyn’s Finest.

Ultimately, Forbes’ name was called but, regardless, Salita was considered and that must be viewed as a step up for the 25-year-old Welterweight. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come for a fighter who has been anxious to fight better opponents.

First things first, though, polish off some of that ring rust this Thursday night.

I spoke to Salita about his return to the ring, a potential fight against De La Hoya and even his thoughts on Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s involvement at Wrestlemania 24.


Dmitriy Salita – 02/26/08

Mornin’ Muesli: The Brown Bomber Bombs At Wrestling

Yesterday I touched on Joe Louis’ infamous pro wrestling career. So infamous I never even heard about it. So, I did some research and found a spectacular video which appears to be one of Louis’ first after deciding to try his hand at the world of wrasslin’.

After watching last night’s premiere of the exceptional HBO Sports Joe Louis doc I can’t help but feel sad for the champ while watching this clip. It’s one thing for Floyd Mayweather to come to WWE in hopes of widening his fan base but it’s another to see one of the greatest be forced to do it so he can pay back the IRS. Man, that Irwin R. Schyster was relentless.

The Klitschko Coronation Is Almost Here

No Mas’ Large previews Klitschko-Ibragimov

No disrespect to Las Vegas but there really isn’t anything like a big fight at Madison Square Garden. Throw two heavyweight title holders in the mix and things get really interesting. So, while I have no doubt that Wladimir Klitschko will defeat Sultan Ibragimov tomorrow night at the Mecca, I’m still all jazzed up about the bout (that might have something to do with the fact that New York City subways have been plastered with posters for this fight – that always does the trick for me). For the record, the IBF, WBO, and IBO Heavyweight crowns will be on the line.

And, as you know by now, whenever there is a big fight to be previewed we always call upon our trusty Sweet Scientist Large from No Mas and The Sporting Blog to break it all down.

However, this time around our discussion was not limited to the Heavyweight title scene. Oh no, we also spoke about:

* What the future holds for Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor

* Would John Duddy have a shot at defeating Pavlik?

* What does Ibragimov have to do to knock off Klitschko

* In their prime, who’s the better fighter: Vitali or Wladi?

* The Heavyweight scene

Oh yeah, I also had to ask Large about Money May’s involvement at Wrestlemania. Always interesting to hear a boxing writer’s point-of-view on a wrestling angle.


Large – 02/21/08

Be sure to check out Large’s coverage of the fight at the Sporting News website.

What’s Next For Kimbo & Kelly?

The big winners this weekend (other than Pretty Boy Floyd of course) were Kimbo Slice and Kelly Pavlik. Both men cemented the fact that they are legitimate stars in their sports. So, the question remains, where do they go from here?

It seems as though there are three options being presented to both fighters: a logical, longshot and a stupid choice. Let’s break it down:

Logical:
* Kimbo Slice vs. Sean Gannon (1-1) ; Kelly Pavlik vs. John Duddy (23-0)

Gannon gained a lot of notoriety when he became the first man to defeat Kimbo in a bare-knuckle fight in 2004. Some might say that victory landed him a spot in the UFC (he lost his debut to Brandon Lee Hinkle in 2005). Slice has been wanting a rematch ever since and continues to ask for it. Gannon hasn’t competed (legally) since his loss to Hinkle but I am sure that a nice payday would bring him back.

Duddy first has to defeat Walide Smichet this weekend but no one is expecting him to lose. His style is a perfect match for Pavlik. Much like “The Ghost,” he also has a very loyal following. After a soon-to-be 24 straight victories he deserves a shot at the title.

Longshot:
Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson (14-8); Kelly Pavlik vs. Lucien Bute (21-0)

Let’s start with Bute. The Montreal(!)-based fighter would have to move down a weight class because Pavlik’s camp has said he has no interest in moving up to Super Middleweight. Plus, the only way I see Pavlik moving up is to fight Joe Calzaghe. Bute has a 2/29 bout against the always game William Joppy but, much like Duddy, no one expects him to lose. While I think this would make for a more intriguing bout I don’t think Bute has a big enough name to get the shot…yet.

As for Thompson, if he would have defeated Brett Rogers this weekend I would have moved him up to “logical” status. Given his experience, the former Pride veteran would not be viewed as another tomato can but the fact that he lost to Rogers doesn’t make him worthy of a shot at Slice. If he does pick up a couple of victories in a row I would love to see this matchup.

Stupid:
Kimbo Slice v. Ken Shamrock (26-12-2); Kelly Pavlik vs. Felix Trinidad (42-3-0)

Forget the fact that I think it’s idiotic for Shamrock to be fighting Buzz Berry prior to his huge showdown against his brother Frank. If the brother vs. brother fight is really going to happen why risk putting him out there for no reason? More to that point, why would you risk his career even more by pairing him up with Kimbo? Makes no sense. After the Frank fight – totally. But not now.

Don’t even get me started on Tito-Pavlik. What has Trinidad done in the last five years to deserve a shot at the champ? Sure, he guarantees a least 500,000 PPV buys but, still, Pavlik would gain nothing by defeating him. In fact, he has more to lose than to gain. Case closed.

An Inside Look At Another Coliseum Of Combat Sports

If you’re a frequent visitor to The Park you know that we like to do things a little differently around here. You know, ask interesting questions, invite unique guests…that kind of thing.

So, with that in my mind, I present a special, top secret discussion with an MGM Grand employee. Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena has hosted some of the biggest fights in combat sports history: Tyson-Holyfield I & II, Prince Naseem v. Barrera, DLH v. Hopkins, Mayweather v. Hatton, Liddell-Jackson II, Liddel-Ortiz II, this weekend’s Pavlik-Taylor rematch and even WCW Halloween Havoc! I figured this guy would have some interesting run-ins with fighters and/or promoters and, as it turns out, I was right.

We talked about who the best tippers are, the biggest pains in the butt, which fighter has the most groupies and so much more. Take a listen – it’s kind of like going to a hotel and talking to an employee before a big fight only completely different.


MGM Grand employee – 02/18/08

Mornin’ Muesli: 15 Random Thoughts From An Amazing Saturday Night

img_8304-slice-vs-abbott-01.jpg

1. Kelly Pavlik is no flash in the pan

2. Miami sure does love them some Kimbo. What an amazing crowd

3. Even in defeat, that was Jermain Taylor’s best fight as a pro

4. Tank Abbott must be a Ric Flair fan

5. Other than the fact that there were no knock downs, I enjoyed the second Pavlk-Taylor fight better than the first

6. Ok, we’ve seen Kimbo fight two tomato cans. Now it’s time for him to fight some stiffer competition. Sean Gannon, anyone?

7. Nice to see a solid undercard on a boxing PPV

8. For Yves Edwards to be truly “back” he needs to fight a top-20 contender. Until then, I just don’t buy it

9. James Thompson needs to rethink the way he starts fights

10. Brett Rogers and Scott Smith should share KO of the night honors. Still not sure which one was better but both men looked great.

11. Very disapointed in Antonio Silva’s performance. In fact, props to Ricco Rodriguez. Hopefully this helps him get his life back in order

12. Bill Goldberg needs to take it down a notch. He is way too aggressive and I hate the fact that he is so visible in the cage after the fights. When the fighters are giving each other props he shouldn’t be jumping in there too.

13. Enough with the DJ after fights. And while we’re at it, enough with making the fighters wear EliteXC hats too. It’s so weak.

14. What’s with all the Shamrock vs. Kimbo talk? Aren’t we in agreement that if Shamrock defeats Buzz Berry next month that he should then fight his brother, Frank?

15. If Pavlik really does fight Trinidad next I will truly fall into a deep depression.

Saturday In The Park: Must See Multiple TVs

img_4565-kimbo-234-shaw-and-abbott-263.jpgHow the heck am I supposed to watch all the great stuff on television tonight?!?! Obviously, there’s Pavlik-Taylor II which Large did a tremendous job (as always) of previewing yesterday. Then, over on Showtime, there’s EliteXC: Street Certified. We haven’t talked about this one yet but it’s actually a pretty solid card highlighted by the eventual beatdown of Tank Abbott by some guy named Kevin Ferguson. There’s also Antonio Silva-Ricco Rodriguez, Edson (don’t call me Andre) Berto-Yves Edwards, James Thompson-Brett Rogers and Scott Smith-Kyle Noke. Not bad, eh?

Buuuut that’s not all. Tonight also is NBA All-Star Saturday night, which believe it or not, is one of my favorite sporting events of the year. Come to think of it, some of my favorite childhood memories have come on All-Star Saturday night. MJ-‘Nique, Bird, Craig Hodges, Baby Jordan, Vincanity (back when he was cool). Great moments, indeed.

So, my dilemma is what to watch live and what to watch on DVR. As of this morning I am leaning towards NBA until the PPV, then watch the rest of the NBA after the PPV, then watch EliteXC. Got it? Do you even care? Didn’t think so.

Or I could just follow Large’s PPV live-blogging debut over at The Sporting Blog (you go Large!) and then switch between the NBA and the MMA. So many options…

Anyhow, to get everyone jazzed up about tonight’s festivities I offer you these three vids:

First up, it’s Manny Steward cussing out Jermain Taylor in between rounds during the Cory Spinks fight. This was actually back when they were friends. My favorite part is when he says “I wish you would have fought Miranda instead of this.” Classic.

Next up, is an insane clip involving some Latino guy trying to convince innocent bystanders to get tackled by Kimbo Slice. If you ask me, the whole thing seems a little staged but, what the hell, it’s quite entertaining and offers an insane payoff at the end.

Finally, in honor of the NBA All-Star festivities, here’s a clip of second-year Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap talking about his off-season boxing training regimen. At first glance it’s pretty boring but things actually get interesting when he spars against his brother. The best part is the local Utah station airing this has their sportscaster do some play-by-play coupled with some fake crowd noises. Mr. T and Roddy Piper would be proud of this one if you know what I mean. (I couldn’t stray too far away from the combat sports theme of this site so this was really the best I could come up with.)

Enjoy the action tonight my friends. I am confident you will make the right programming choice.

Will The Ghost Of Jermain Taylor Return?

One of the most anticipated boxing rematches of the last few years is just over 24 hours away and I, for one, can’t wait. Of course, it’s Pavlik vs. Taylor II. The last time we saw these gents they were engaging in arguably the 2007 fight of the year which saw the pride of Youngstown, OH, Kelly Pavlik, beat up on Jermain Taylor and, as a result, snatch away his Middleweight title.

Sadly, Taylor exercised a clause in his contract so tomorrow’s rematch will be fought at 166 lbs instead of 160 meaning the belt won’t be on the line. Weird, I know. And while I also know boxing titles are pretty much useless these days this fact still kind of bugs me. Just doesn’t seem right but, oh well, we are getting the rematch while the first epic is still very fresh in our minds so I can’t complain too much.

As always, Mr. Large (not to be confused with Mr. Big of Sex And The City fame) from No Mas and The Sporting Blog took a stroll with me in The Park to break down tomorrow’s mega-fight. We also discussed:

* Alexander Povetkin’s victory over Eddie Chambers a couple of weeks ago

* Should Chambers move to Cruiserweight?

* What’s next for Povetkin?

* Carlos Quintana’s shocking Welterweight title victory over Paul Williams

* Williams’ extreme weight gain before the bout

* Is it smart for Quintana to fight Shane Mosley next?

* Will lightning strike twice for Pavlik

* What does Taylor have to do to win this time around

* Will Taylor regret not having Manny Steward in his corner

All that and we even discuss a little Bute vs. Joppy! You had to know that I would somehow find a way to talk about my countryman.


Large – 02/15/08