Monday, June 15, 2009

Ten lashes

My piece on Clottey is up on Nomas, and reading it over again I was pretty hard on him in ways I generally try not to be. Meaning it takes unbelievable courage and skill to get into that ring at the lowest level, let alone the places Clottey has gone. But there was something about the way he fought that was so galling, disheartening, and unseemly that I still feel myself seething as I type. It’s one thing for a man to think better of it and crack a little once he’s been to the mountaintop – De La Hoya or Barrera– but to carelessly crash into the shoals after a long and arduous journey is true tragedy.

Now I may be giving Clottey too much agency, too much credit for self-knowledge and choice, but I don’t think so. The pain is in the knowing, and I think Clottey did. I wondered on nomas if Clottey had ever read Hamlet, because the contentment he might find in his role as poor soul, as the aggrieved, might be a short lived pleasure. If he might agree with Hamlet that, “I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.” I imagine Clottey slept better than I did on Saturday night, but I suspect it won’t be long before the demons come.

* I’m heartbroken over the delay in the Mayweather/Marquez fight. I was really looking forward to it, two masters at the height of their craft, a rare gift. There has been talk that it’ll be delayed until September, but the details need to be worked out. This obviously makes the likelihood of a Pacquiao/Cotto match increase considerably, as I doubt Pac wants to wait until next year to get into the ring again.
The fight makes sense for Bob Arum, both Pacquiao and Cotto’s promoter - he will not have to share the promotion fee and is guaranteed a winner – but I can’t help feeling a little uneasy about the whole thing. I think Pacquiao will win, I always felt he matched up well with Cotto, but we’re so close to serendipity, Mayweather/Pacquiao, that I don’t want to risk it.

There are certain people with patience, who wait to eat their meal in the proper order; but we have the most delicious desert waiting in the kitchen, and I fear our appetite may be spoiled before it gets to the table.


Mark said...

Great work over at No Mas and here as well, as usual. I've been in the middle of trying to find new employment but really just repeatedly playing the fight night round 4 demo. I think that gif of the fight really nailed some of your thoughts on Clottey in the fight, the way he seems to lie there, comfortably, willingly, and almost knowingly speaks volumes. Granted I've yet to acquire a decent copy of the fight so my knowledge of the bout comes primarily through the lens of your writing. Of all people, Malcolm Gladwell (whom I have mixed feelings about, no pun intended) comes to mind where he talks about how students would rather not invest in studying and working their hardest for fear of giving one's all not being enough. As you've written before, being outclassed can be devastating. But here Clottey didn't seem to bother to see if he truly measured up to that special breed of fighter.
Cotto I am more unsure about. The temptation exists to compare him immediately to Tito if only for the heritage and early career ko percentage. I was more concerned with watching the Knicks come up short and the NBA on NBC as child to remember Tito, whom I've only watched get schooled by Hopkins on youtube. Cotto I probably know a tiny bit more about since Bobby Pacquiao beat Kevin Kelley on the undercard of the Cotto-Malignaggi fight. Rather than pretend I know more than I do, I'd be curious to get your take on what you wanted Cotto to be, and what you believe he ultimately is or may end up becoming.

WV = belenes, the next Mexican legend

shoefly said...

Mark, Sorry it took so long for me to write back. This Klitschko piece was really hard for me to write and really unsatisfying.

In hindsight I should have just written a piece of Tito, would have been much more fun. Tito was great, a killer, beautiful to watch, and he fought with a real island rhythm, it was boozy and intoxicating and sticky. He also had the most delicious left hook you've ever seen, such economy of motion and artistry. Rather than get into it more I'll tell you fights of his I love, check them out on youtube. Tito/Vargas was a great slugfest, and Tito at his entertaining best. Tito/Mamadou Thiam is fantastic, he is so sharp and beautiful, and another great one is Tito/Joppy, the fight before the Hopkins match, when Tito just looked so delicious and unbeatable it was salivating.

Check that out and you will see what I mean. A combination of power and economy of motion that was frightening and a joy to watch. I hoped Cotto would have that, but he just seems to lack that tiny bit of sharpness. I wanted him to be able to put on performances like that against elite opposition, to be a special fighter, to not just win but cut through the contenders. I just don't think he has it in him and I think it might be physical, I just don't know that he has the tools I thought he did... the speed, power, reflexes. We'll have to see, but I wonder if his career will ultimately be more like Fernando Vargas, entertaining and explosive, but a little short and a notch below the special ones.