Tuesday, August 18, 2015

New Site

I would like to thank Mr. Richard Daniels for giving my writing a new platform.  All existing articles in this blog that have been compiled since 2010 have been moved to the new site Mr. Daniels has built and donated.  Starting today I will be posting future written material at www.Boxing-Insight.com.

Thank you for the continued readership.

Mark F. Villanueva

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Why I Disagree With Mayweather's Top 5 Selection

If pride is a sin, what makes you step up to begin with, and farther down that same dignity that pats your shoulder in a dark corner when no one else would; lone, written off, reassures of a better you in the morrow, then it is the devil that pushes fighters to get back up when everyone else have counted you out. It is a virtuous sin that is almost necessary for greatness, that makes Floyd Mayweather Jr. position himself on top of his list of the best fighters of all time:

Floyd's Top 5 Fighters of All Time

1. Floyd Mayweather

2. Robert Duran

3. Pernell Whitaker

4. Julio Cesar Chavez Sr

5. Muhammad Ali

It is a list I respectfully dissent, so much that if Thomas Hearns had faced him in the ring, both fantastically at their prime, such an affair would not be a courteous one.  At 6'1 with an eight inch reach advantage, Hearns would control the tempo of that fight with a deadly-as-sin mix of speed and power, with his jab like a baton, as would a conductor to an orchestra.  Floyd Mayweather could be allowed to plank his shoulder like a gangway once cornered and it would not matter.  Hearns would beat him at Welterweight or at the Middleweight division where the same Mayweather who beat Saul Alvarez would be easily torn apart by Hearns or Marvin Hagler.   As freakish as these two boxers may have been at their prime, both were defeated by a graceful and complete fighter, Sugar Ray Leonard, who also beat legends Wilfred Benitez, and even Roberto Duran twice, who's ranked number two of all time by Mayweather.  I wonder why Leonard didn't make the cut to his top five list.  Whereas he has stately seated Pernell Whitaker who'd have nothing against the mythical Willie Pep (229-11-1) whose legend spread like wildfire when he fought Jackie Graves in 1947, that says he won a round on pure finesse of movement and treacherous feints without throwing a meaningful punch.  I could take it that Muhammad Ali is ranked fifth in his list, but how about the man that prompted the creation of the Pound For Pound rankings in the first place, revered by many as the greatest of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson (173-19-6-2) ? And whatever happened to Henry Armstrong, who held three world championships at Featherweight, Lightweight, and Welterweight all at the same time?

Floyd states in his defense:

"He's beat more world champions than any other fighter right here. He's done it in a shorter period of time than any other fighter up here. And he's done it with less fights than any fighter up here. Record breaking numbers all around the board in pay-per-view and live gate, landed punches at the highest percentage, and took less punishment. And done it in 19 years and been world champion 18 years. Done it in five different weigh classes."

I agree. I see that Mayweather's boxing career is the best managed of all time, and himself one of the greats.

Pride blinds you.

Mark F. Villanueva
twitter: @Markfvillanueva

P.S. - This article is dedicated to a dear cousin who passed away today.  Ian Magno has supported the cause of the Villanueva Boxing Academy for the underprivileged youth since day one.  Rest In Peace, brother. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Clamour That Is Mayweather Versus Berto

Andre Berto's road to Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a short substandard path. He's basically fought only once a year since 2012 yet still lost twice in the process; once against Robert Guerrero who lost against Mayweather in 2013.  Early this year he fought for an Interim WBA Welterweight title against Josesito Lopez, whose best days were down at the Lightweight Division, and won by TKO.   While Andre Berto is not an elite level fighter he has always been entertaining to watch.  You watch him with a sort of sorry for an unfulfilled promise and underdeveloped talent.  He has memorable fights against Victor Ortiz, Luis Collazo, and Soto-Karass, etc.  But even during Andre Berto's heydays as a prizefighter it is unlikely that he stood a chance against a now 38 year old Floyd Mayweather whose boxing skills prove timelessly polished.  It seems the once promising Berto is now reduced to a cheap show in favor of the best boxer in the world, except the PPV won't be cheap come September 12.

 There are other fighters out there who are more deserving of a chance to fight Mayweather this September, such as American boxer Keith Thurman who has an unblemished fight record of 26-0-1, or economy-wise, Amir Khan could bring in serious money from the U.K. market and he's been calling out to Mayweather for some time now.  I could go on with a list of names of other boxers, but none of that should matter.  The only opinion on the subject that matters is that of Floyd Mayweather's.  In fact, if you are still disappointed up to this point of the latter's formal announcement to fight Andre Berto perhaps the ultimate statement of the event has been missed.  

Mayweather fights whomever he wants to fight in his time and under his rules.  He projects his fashionable life as some sort of a contrarian statement, always dissenting, rebellious, yet extremely successful.  His contract dealings with other fighters can be as unfair as the life he once experienced in Grand Rapids, Michigan being born poor, in a troubled household, and born to drug addicted parents.  A life he overcame without proper guidance, by his own volition, and in his own terms to be the richest athlete in the world today regardless of sport.  I do not for a moment doubt the gravity of his credo in life which he chants "Hard work" and "Dedication" when he trains in his gym as hard as he had to turn his life around.  He has practically earned everything that he has today the hard way and only that one person who's been with him along the way and through the years of struggle deserves to share the credit: himself.  Yet in the same coin, a lot of other fighters, too, have fought and sacrificed so much to deserve to fight him.  

Great boxers in the past have chosen to fight lesser opponents at times.  Even Manny Pacquiao fought a human punching bag in Rios via PPV and a growing consensus says Andre Berto is Pacquiao's Algieri.  But Floyd Mayweather is not supposed to be like any boxer.  He is not Manny Pacquiao and even thinks he is better than Muhammad Ali.  He consistently says he is The Best Ever but not without repercussions. 

When one talks about greatness and preaches greatness, the people shall demand that same claimed greatness in return, and expect something greater and greater each time without forgiveness, and that is the trouble. 

Mark F. Villanueva
Twitter: @Markfvillanueva
Email: Markfvillanueva@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Boxing Insight: Scott Quigg Versus Kiko Martinez

It nearly took three years for Kiko "La Sensacion" Martinez to get a shot to avenge his first knockout loss against Irish Carl Frampton back in Feb. 9, 2013.  Along that arduous process of redeeming himself he won the IBF Super Bantamweight title against Jonatan Romero, made two successful defenses by knocking out both opponents Jeffrey Mathebula and Hozumi Hasegawa, but the questions in his mind borne on one bad night remained.   These doubts fueled his desire to train harder as before until he finally earned a rematch in September 6, 2014 but only to end up losing once again to the same feisty Irishman.

At the Manchester Arena last July 18, 2015 the WBA Super Bantamweight champion Scott Quigg stepped inside the ring to bar the Spanish brawler's road back to redemption.  Quigg started to come in, athletic as always, and control the center only to feel the heaviness of determination of Kiko Martinez, whose swarming, brawling style of fighting had earned him a record of 32-5.  Although undefeated, Scott Quigg had earlier recognized this match up as the biggest test of his career, given Martinez' overall experience, and since Quigg had never fought outside his country.  With Martinez putting on the pressure, the Englishman was sidetracked, and kept moving clockwise around the ring.  Kiko Martinez raised his punch output and the WBA champion covered his head with both arms up.  There was constant movement and pressure pushing outward and around the rim like oil in a glass full of water.  And like water, Martinez dominated the first round.

The second round ensued with a faster paced Kiko Martinez, who was determined to trap Quigg in a corner and break his defensive science, as a swarmer ought to do.  He kept lunging in with bigger steps now in a momentum of a diesel engine, and the undefeated Quigg did not punch enough to dislodge that pressure.  He did not throw enough jabs to at least keep his foe at bay.  Martinez was catching up increasingly with growing confidence.  If it went on to the hilt in this manner he certainly looked like he could win it, and he'd be a world champion once more.  He threw a jab that was followed with a limp.  At first I thought Kiko Martinez weaved in anticipation of a counter that did not come.  It came simultaneously from underneath his left jab that landed on his chin. The sequence had a striking similarity against his first encounter with Frampton who struck him with a right hand too.  It was a right uppercut this time.  A projectile that unmasked the force that pushes all fighters to be at their very best. Quigg smothered Martinez till he started to sway and fall with his back on the floor.  The turnaround of events happened fast and so unexpectedly that as Martinez fell for the second and final time his hopes for a comeback fizzled into dredges at the very bottom of his spirit.

I hope to pen my insights on Scott Quigg versus Nonito Donaire or Guillermo Rigondeaux next.  We hope Kiko Martinez finds himself in this helical stage of his career.

Mark F. Villanueva
Email: MarkFVillanueva@Gmail.com
Twitter: @MarkFVillanueva

Monday, July 13, 2015

Invisible Collazo

After months of preparation and a steady yet losing early couple of rounds, an invisible Luis Collazo started to emerge for the first time in the third round.    He started to close the gap by cutting off the ring while his undefeated opponent, a power puncher and knockout artist, oddly enough, started to veer away to circle around the ring.  He would come up with a number of combinations but the tide kept moving forward and he had to fight as he might never had to against Collazo, who could not be accused of not having fought the best opposition during his prime.  Keith Thurman must have been glad to be fighting an older version of the fighter as he kept up a circuitous fray.

The former world champion kept pressing the action in the following round, hitting and not being bothered at all if he missed a punch or two, which showed the amount of energy he has in reserve and was willing to expend, that showed a glimpse of how hard he had trained.  Luis Collazo's tattoo covered body gleamed in the spotlight as it had when he became a champion a decade ago, saying something, roaring, wanting to be heard- as it had not been probably since he fought Ricky Hatton in 2006- a fight which in his mind he should have won.  He planted a booming counter punch with his left hand that almost cut down Keith Thurman after an industrious work to the body.

Luis Collazo is now heard and seen, and it was an ominous sight.

Keith Thurman did not fare too well since Collazo had started to lobby his case but bravely fought even in backing up.  It might not have made things easier for him knowing that he had so much to lose at this surging stage of his career.  He knows he has the advantage in youth and brute strength but suddenly Collazo's jabs started to find its target.  Thurman was no longer as invincible as the media have painted him to be.  He could also see that Collazo's sharp cuts started to swell up his right eye.

The hardest punch is one you do not see.  Luis Collazo fought by instinct, rhythm, with a limited view from his left.  He could not see from his swollen right eye and dripping blood that seeped in and disrupted his sight. Volleys from the right flank were all ghost punches now and came harder than it normally does. Keith Thurman, who prides himself for his power, now capitalized on the situation with left hooks to Collazo's head.  The latter still tried to move forward and set up traps but has become an easier target and a tad slow to react to lateral movements, especially towards his blind side.  It was all red darkness in the drowning din of the arena. Luck, if a man of faith ever believes in it, has ran out.  His punches at certain angles were prayers that were responded to with hard combinations. It was all Keith "One Time" Thurman now in a slightly rejuvenated state.

By the end of the seventh round, when asked if he wanted to end the fight, Collazo responded "I can't see..."

There were cheers and some that used to be for him had turned to boos as Keith Thurman celebrated his victory up on the ropes.  They now say the fighter who could barely see his opponent was a quitter, although he had never quit in a fight before; even if he had fought Shane Mosley for twelve rounds with an injured left hand that required surgery afterward.  He was no longer brave enough in just moments after he was actually winning it.  The fifteen year stoical veteran who has always fought as a perennial underdog, whose resilience and integrity I would not question was once again becoming imperceptible.

"You fought well my friend. Chin up. I hope you'll be okay soon." I said.

"I'm sorry about the results." replied a plaintive Luis.

"I suffered two bad cuts.  I could not see in the last round from the right eye."

I told him what many wanted to know. "People are saying you quit back there against Thurman. But I've never seen you quit before and that gives you integrity.  It is for you and no one else. You don't have to answer to that."

But Luis Collazo answered anyway, albeit indirectly " Yeah, hey! People are going to say what they want at the end of the day. It does not matter.  I know who I am and what I represent."

Life does not give favors even to good men.  It does not matter if one has done much good one gets it just the same or even worse if you are mistaken.  While a known criminal deserves a day in court, good men are ipso facto guilty until proven otherwise.

Follow Mark via Twitter @MarkFVillanueva

Friday, July 10, 2015

On Luis Collazo

It was not out of blind faith that days prior to challenging Amir khan I told the deeply religious fighter that I felt his chances of winning were real good.  He needed to weather an expected onslaught early in the fight, let his opponent build up false confidence (as he seems prone to), then gradually start to step in to target the body, and work it out so to catch Khan, who's vulnerable to uppercuts, late in the fight for a come-from-behind knockout victory.  With all humility, the prizefighter from Brooklyn said that he could virtually see a similar scenario unfold in his mind, that anything could happen in boxing. (which I interpreted as an allusion to his underdog status.)

He's been a perennial underdog as a boxer practically from the day he turned pro, and even after he finally became a world champion, when he fought Ricky Hatton (which many believed he won, and so, too, against Andre Berto).

"This is your time, brother." I said. "Amir Khan has obvious advantages over you but you are fighting in HIS time.  Look at what you did to Victor Ortiz when you got counted out."  Very few thought he stood a chance against the younger Ortiz but he decked him in an exchange in two rounds.  I thought that he could replicate an upset if he remained stable and composed, and not be overcome by Khan's whirling approach.

It turned out that Luis Collazo was totally outclassed by Amir Khan, who was too quick and light-footed that night in Las Vegas.  The former world champion Collazo just could not catch up with the pace and distance without being countered effectively, to execute an in-fight. It only added up to a list of disappointing performances in his career, notably in his loss to a 34 year old Shane Mosley back in 2007 at Welterweight.  Unlike some boxers that can rely on mere talent at times, Collazo's fighting style is as stable as his faith, yet the unforgiving audience demands excitement. When he could not come up with something more against an aging Mosley, at that time being completely unaware of his injured left hand, I thought to myself that he has got to believe in himself more, too, and take more risks, as if to back prayer with action. When he eventually lost that match by Unanimous Decision, I said that God has got nothing to do with that result.  Only to realize that he fought his best under the circumstances.

Once again the American boxer of Puerto Rican descent faded away from the spotlight with a record of 36-6 spanning across a fourteen-year precarious career.  He could have retired after his loss to Amir Khan last year, as some observers say he should have. Yet he remains still for the love of the sport and largely 'cause he believes he can still win a world title one more time.  A notion that many undoubtedly scoff at as he is set to face a very powerful puncher in Keith "One Time" Thurman this weekend who has never lost a fight and has knocked out 21 of his 26 foes.  It is a belief that could get him persecuted in the end, and these are strange times, but I am not surprised that he remains unfazed and firm in faith.  He only has to relive the missed opportunities and moments of being at the receiving end of controversial decisions in his career to spur him to fight on and prove his true worth before finally calling it a career.  Keith Thurman, in my humble opinion, has many technical flaws that could be taken advantage of by the more experienced and overall skilled former champion.  He punches hard yet also fights too flatfooted but his raw power is expected to overwhelm the faithful yet older Collazo, whose entire career has been a series of re-evaluations, a meandering search for answers, purpose, and meaning.

On July 11, 2015 Luis Collazo shall fight, as a true christian goes, "the glory is in the struggle."

Follow Mark via Twitter @Markfvillanueva

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Vinny the Dentist, Long Island's 80-year-old boxer

Vinny Savino, a dentist from Brookville, turned to boxing to help overcome the hardships in his life. Savino, 80, has forged a bond with the young fighters at the Westbury Boxing Gym. Newsday followed Savino for nearly a year to tell his story in this in-depth video feature . (Newsday / Chris Ware, Robert Cassidy)

Click here 

P.S. Thanks to Tommy "The Razor" Rainone for sharing this story. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Boxing Insight: Broner Versus Porter

Dateline: Las Vegas, Nevada, June 20 - What the mind had conceived, the body failed irreparably to achieve.

The brazen boxer from Cincinnati entered the ring with a swag that bespoke volumes of his supposed greatness, of skills a sure-fire, and worthy of a spot in the Boxing Hall Of fame.  Just moments into the first round he showed spectators a glance of his adroit hand speed and authoritative form.  He likes to shake his head to further intimidate whoever he fights against; a sign of dismissal, of invincibility or some sort. From a distance, onlookers recognize a striking semblance between himself and the self-proclaimed best boxer ever.

Shawn Porter forged on without compunction according to the game plan carefully contrived by his team.  He had to drop in weight to make this fight happen, among other concessions.  He has a shorter reach and is not as nimble, so he studied his opponent with respect.  He bounced around a bit light-footed, yet never tentative.  The moment he saw an opening he lunged forward with his heavy left that caught the other man, and followed this quickly with hard combinations to the body to take advantage of his early success.  He conscientiously adhered to his game plan of overcoming his opponent with raw strength and power and effectively cut fighting distance. He consistently put pressure and pushed his opponent to his limit in a way he knows best.  Shawn Porter threw overhand rights, flexed his shoulders before driving hard punches straight to the body, hoping to negate his disadvantage in speed by the later rounds.  Surprisingly, his lunging jab kept finding its mark.  He is not what one would call a beautiful boxer, yet he's more of a hard working man in the ring; much determined upon the urging of his own father in his corner.

As the fight progressed, the ostensible greatness have become gradually chopped down by the seemingly unrelenting mundane.  Floyd Mayweather Jr. could have done things differently by this stage.  More likely, he could now have adjusted his defense and is able to time his opponent better.  But it wasn't a legend Porter was facing, nor Floyd Mayweather Jr.  The illusion of that greatness had been broken down gradually against the ropes, and what's left of that breakage reveals a problematic Adrien "The Problem" Broner, who appeared a mere vessel, or even a great actor merely playing out a role.  Some time in the tenth, Porter pivoted to his right, shifting Broner against the corner like a plagiarist in a cage.  That must have been the only time during the fight that he had executed with grace, yet at least he was his best imperfect self.  Shawn Porter must have hurt him numerous times in the fight, for Broner's offense have clearly deteriorated.  Porter hit his body hard after dodging a left hook, whenever he got pushed back, and just about every time he had a chance. It was Porter's actual body work, and not Broner's imagination that was the key to the fight's success. He was knocked down once in the fight, during the twelfth, but got right back up as all honest and hard working men do, who risk so much for a dream, while the rest dream on.

Follow Mark via Twitter: @Markfvillanueva

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Is Joe Louis Better Than Ali?

VID | D'Amato and Ali debate Joe Louis

Posted by Face Book Boxing Community (The Koncrete Jungle) on Sunday, June 7, 2015
Follow Mark via Twitter: @MarkFVillanueva

Friday, June 5, 2015

Last Minute Pick For Cotto vs Geale from Brooklyn. Where To Watch Online?

Daniel Geale & Miguel Cotto. What To Expect. It’s Close.

Miguel Cotto defends his WBC Title against Daniel Geale this weekend from Brooklyn, New York at a 157 Pound Catchweight. The most important topic of this week has been Geale's struggle to weight. He was ten pounds over the weight limit with one week to go and looked drained. Let me break down what will happen this Saturday night in Brooklyn, as I haven’t been this confident of an upset for a long time.

Scenario 1: Geale fails to make weight. This is a very real possibility. Widespread romours are he’s going to come in heavy. If he comes in at 160 or above, I think Team Cotto will call in a replacement and the fight will be off. If Geale comes in at 158 or 159, we probably still have a fight. If you think there isn’t a chance Cotto calls the bout off, well he has turned into a bit of a diva in the past 3 years. He constantly talks about himself in third person and he will call the fight off. Replacements have already been sought. I would say there is a 40% chance this happens.

Scenario 2: Geale makes weight and re-hydrates around 175 pounds. This is Geale’s last shot at being a star in the US and he won’t quit this time. He knows everything is on the line. Geale has lost a close fight to Barker, which I had him winning by 1 round and he fought poorly against Golovkin and quit in the 4th round. This time Geale is going to leave it all in the ring and I think there is a very good chance he outboxes Cotto. He is a lot bigger than Cotto and has a much longer reach. I’m expecting Cotto to have success on the inside, but Geale will have much more success as the fight will be fought on the outside for large periods of time.

Expect an upset. Since the start this was a horrible fight for Team Cotto to pursue. The bout provides a huge risk yet Geale isn't well known in the States and gets treated similarly to most foreign fighters.

If you are trying to watch Geale vs Cotto Online I wouldn’t bother. Live streams are being taken down at a very fast rate over the past few months. There will be full fight replay to Geale vs Cotto on youtube a few hours, but it will most likely be in a foreign language.

Cotto is losing fans by the day with his constant demands and bulging ego. I have been a long time fan of Miguel but have recently been turned off by his lack of respect and for not giving his opponent his due.  It should be great to see the younger generation shine through with humility. 

Andrew Cimino 

If you wish to submit an article, pls. email Markfvillanueva@gmail.com