Friday, July 31, 2009

The Human Problem

ood little fight between Timothy Bradley and Nate Campbell on Showtime this Saturday. I like both guys and don't have any clear conception about the outcome.

I think Nate Campbell has a little higher ceiling; he's a born menace. At the same time he's pretty old and didn't look all that sharp against Ali Funeka, a fight where he didn't make weight. Though he won, his lightweight belt was stripped and he was forced to move up to junior welter.

Campbell is old, but bone tough.
Campbell has a real inner confidence, bordering on insolence. It's the type of chip on your shoulder that can feed you once old age starts to eat away at the good stuff. He loves to talk and I hope he eventually gets into broadcasting. I like to think of him as a miniature, less talented, Bernard Hopkins. And if you don't know, that's high praise indeed.

Timothy Bradley is slightly less interesting. He seems a nice man, and throws punches with conviction, but to me there doesn't seem much pathos or deep hurt in the way he fights. He's a little muscle-bound and stiff, like he has been taught to fight. He doesn't have the same underlying sense of menace and the dark passenger that seems to gnaw at Nate Campbell and what I call the "natural fighters."

What Bradley does have is a set of moral principles; a kind of code of conduct that allows him to go to the edge and not over. In his last fight against Kendall Holt he took a huge shot in the first round, the kind that if it doesn't put you down for ten will change your way of thinking at the very least. But Bradley pulled it together and outworked Holt to unify the belts. He didn't do anything impressive, except exert everything he had. One felt that Holt might have had the greater tools, but we all know that's just palaver and high talk. What matters is the making it happen. Every single fight Bradley is in great shape. Every single fight he brings it.

Bradley brings it every time.

So what's my prognosis? A pretty good scrap. Part of me thinks that Bradley is just too consistent, but I can't past get the feeling that Campbell has the cold rage. The type that tears mountains and roads and ripped the cosmos to pieces. I think the path to victory is lined with bad intentions. Campbell by decision.

* * *

I hate to do this after lauding him, but if you haven't checked it out this is Nate Campbell's historically boneheaded moment. He drops his hands in a fight he was winning and gets an unfortunate result. I don't like it, but it's a classic.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Unhappy returns

Apologies for my extended absence. I have no good excuse, just an awful itch that needed scratching and a guilty conscience that made it seem irresponsible to do what should have been done.

The fortunate thing is that this was a month worth missing. There were few big fights, cancellations, and of course the overarching sense of the morbid that mired it all down. I’m not really one for moody brooding when it comes to the lives of others; the dead are dead and stay that way. Besides, it’s a rare public figure whose death touches one in a way to make a reaction really worthwhile. I mean this in the sense that if death is the ultimate personal, I find it kind of offensive to turn it into a public contemplation if one’s relationship is only cathode ray deep. I don’t know, it’s all just so damn serious.

The Explosive Thin Man had preternatural timing

There is of course the human need to try to take lessons or draw conclusions. And it is a genuine oddity; Arguello, Gatti, and Forrest all in a month and all the result of… violent ends. Really, though, I don’t think it’s anything more than a giant and meaningless awful. Could you argue that people of violence are more likely to end by it? I think that’s valid, people who have lingered on the void might be prone to fall in, no matter where they now stand, but I don’t know that it’s helpful to really think about.

I must say that of the three Vernon Forrest was the most upsetting. Arguello was so monumental and fixed; a boxing icon and statesman so foundational that not even this could shake the image of that long right hand as his valediction. And Gatti, well, no offense but he had ceased to be a man years ago; the Ward fights weren’t boxing they were public masochism. All the plastic surgeries had made him look vaguely Asiatic and his persona and results and the way people viewed him was uncomfortable and ahistorical and vaguely apocryphal.

The boxing phrase, "his face a bloody mask," seemed to suit "Thunder" Gatti, who treated it as such

But Vernon, well he was different. The other two had reached ends that were realized and full in ways that few ever do; they had eaten fully from the tree of life, more than any man could ask. I never loved Vernon Forrest, he wasn’t one of my favorites; he was too familiar and staid, an honest champion. He didn’t have the outsized persona or ring presence to inspire or call to dreamers, but I seemed to know him. Maybe it’s because he was from Atlanta and was always seeming to falter on his rightful journey, but he seemed so human, so touchable and flesh.

I seemed to know the know "The Viper," he was familiar.

He was a fine fighter; I thought he could have beaten contemporaries De La Hoya, Quartey, Carr, and Vargas. Probably would have lost to Trinidad and Wright; but really what difference does that make? Forgive me for even trying, but notice must be paid.

Forrest's finest moment, when he conquered the great Shane Mosley. Hopefully HBO won't pull it down.

* I’m going to try be a little more consistent on upcoming fights. Maybe give some thoughts on the big boys; Floyd-Marquez and Cotto-Pacquiao in the coming weeks. The only fight I really missed out on that I had something to say was Ortiz-Maidana. It was a bit of a shocker to me, but also an eye-opener in terms of the deeper magic that it takes to be a top prizefighter. I might still write about it if the inspiration strikes and I can find the video.

* A highlight of Alexis Arguello.

* My favorite Gatti comeback.