Saturday, February 21, 2015

Better late than never, or is it?

After years of back and forth rumor, blame and disappointment, it's finally going to happen. Arguably the most anticipated fight in boxing history is officially signed and will go down on May 2nd in the fight capital of the world Las Vegas, Nevada; as Floyd 'Money' Mayweather will take on Manny 'Pacman' Pacquiao. Better late than never, or is it?

While I and most boxing fans are happy to see this will finally take place, I think this is a valid question considering this is a fight that should have happened at least three or four years ago. There are many reasons why and probably the biggest is money. Although this fight is probably going to be the richest in boxing history, with Mayweather possibly making upwards of 120 million and Pacquiao a paltry 80 million. Just imagine what the numbers could have been four years ago when both fighters were in their prime and clearly the two best fighters on the planet.

Sure Mayweather at (47-0 26 KO's) is still universally considered the best pound for pound fighter in the world, but in just a couple of days he'll turn 38 years old and regardless of the strides in conditioning athletes have made in sports, that's still considered old age in boxing. Pacquiao (52-5 38 KO's) is not far behind at 36 and with 10 more fights on his resume. This includes the four wars with the great Juan Manuel Marquez, the last resulting in Pac laying face down out cold just a little over two years ago. That said, one might actually consider Pac older than Mayweather in the ring. Yet, we're happy that we're finally going to see it; but will we be satisfied?

Think about it, regardless of what happens, fans on both sides will argue that if it had happened when it was supposed to, the outcome would have been different. Either way, whether it is Mayweather or Pacquiao that loses, the excuse will be, "Time caught up to him." In Money May's case they'll claim it was his age and in Pac's case they'll say it was the mileage.

I'm not trying to be the pessimist and rain on the parade, I just wish it would have happened when it should have. The fact that it is happening at all is a shocker because I personally was resigned to the fact that it never would. All excuses aside, money was the root of all evil in the delay. That being the case, it might never have happened when it should have because at the time both fighters demanded equal shares, 50/50 and they deserved it. However, with Pacquiao losing a couple of fights in the last few years, it gave Mayweather the upper hand; luckily Pacquiao realized such and was willing to go with a 60/40 split.

Alas, it is going to happen and at least we won't have to go to our graves wondering what could have been. So for that I am grateful and regardless of all I've said thus far, looking at it strategically, I don't think it will disappoint. That is because we have a wonderful defensive fighter in Mayweather who is a master boxer that avoids punishment and Pacquiao is an offensive machine who comes at you non-stop from all angles. Plus, I believe Pac's relentless attack from the southpaw stance may give Money some problems; notice I said may.

Say what you want about Mayweather, like him or not, there is no denying his skill in the ring. Part of that is his knack for being able to overcome any obstacle that he faces. I've never seen a fighter who can make an adjustment smack dab in the middle of a fight and use it to his advantage the way Money May does. It is part of what makes him so great.

The only way to defeat Mayweather is to corner him and if there is one fighter who can do it and do it to perfection it is Pacquiao. As great a boxer as Pac is, I don't think he can out box Mayweather, but if he's able to corner him, as he's done to others, and inflict punishment on him unlike anyone else has, then I believe he has a chance.

I know there are a lot of ifs in those equations, not to mention a lot of ands or buts to. Then again that is what makes this fight so intriguing. While the early Vegas odds have Mayweather as a sizable favorite, I truly believe those odds will become a lot closer as the fight draws nearer and we will actually have a close fight one way or the other. I truly hope so, because if we don't, it would not surprise me to see one or both end their careers on that note. Better late than never I guess; or is it?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Is the pressure to succeeding in today's MMA too much?

Has it come to this? After so many years of struggle to get to the point where mixed martial arts is finally being accepted as a mainstream sport, is it finally just like all the others? In other words, is the pressure too succeeding in today's MMA world too much? Considering what has transpired within the last month alone these seem like valid questions.

In just a matter of weeks, three of MMA's most well known fighters and arguably the UFC's top two stars are just the latest athletes to fall prey to the underlying stigma of athletes on drugs; whether recreational or performance enhancing. BTW, for the sake of this article, I'm not even including Nick Diaz being busted for marijuana use yet again, because it's not like no one knew this was coming. Diaz has been suspended in the past for weed and doesn't deny being a smoker, so for argument sake, why even bother.

However, when it comes to UFC light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) champion Jon Jones, former UFC middleweight (185 lbs.) champion Anderson Silva (both pictured above) and World Series of Fighting welterweight (170 lbs.) contender and former UFC title challenger Jon Fitch (pictured here),
these came out of left field for sure. Especially when it came to Silva and Fitch who failed tests for PED's and have always been proponents for a clean sport.

In the case of Jon Jones, who was popped for cocaine use, while that news also was a shocker, for many people, including myself, who don't believe anything Jon Jones spits out of his mouth, it wasn't out of the realm. Nonetheless, that aside, in Jones we are talking the UFC's most viable product and next great thing. Ironically, he is replacing Silva, who was the greatest thing before Jones and before horrifyingly breaking his leg in December 2013.

Not surprisingly, the UFC is downplaying these allegations as much as possible; especially in Jones case. To this point it appears a one-night stay in rehabilitation looks like that may be the entire penalty that's forthcoming. Strange considering Diaz was suspended for nine months for marijuana usage previously and Matt Riddle lost his job for supposedly the same thing.

In Silva's defense, he has publicly denied any wrongdoing, but as much as I want to believe this living legend, how many times have we heard this before? Funny how no one ever admits to using PED's, but fighters and athletes in other sports continuously get busted for it. Former major league baseball player Rafael Palmiero pointed his finger in the face of congress and said he had not done any drugs. A lot of good that did him; he's been really quiet since then.

Not surprisingly, so too has Jon Fitch. A long time proponent of natural training and fighting clean, his name coming up as failing a pre-fight drug test may be the biggest surprise of them all. As I commented to someone the other day on a Facebook thread regarding this news, "If Fitch is dirty, then the question now becomes, who is not dirty?"

Sadly it appears that MMA's fight, no pun intended, too become looked upon and accepted the same way as other mainstream sports such as football, basketball and baseball has come at a cost; the same cost those others sports face. The cost too succeed is so high now with TV money and corporate sponsorships as part of the game, that it appears the pressure too succeeding in today's MMA may be too much. That is unless you don't get caught; then at that rate the cost may then become even greater. That is because in a dangerous sport like MMA the cost may be someone's career or even worse and that is way too high a price to pay.

Junkie Gathering 2017... this time it was personal

Wow! I feel the only way to properly start this summary of what I just experienced is summed up in that one word. Although there is anothe...