The fight in Claressa Shields (via ESPNW)

During the 2012 London Olympics, Claressa Shields stood in the ring, stone-faced and focused. Her opponent was tough, but was not nearly as tough as the obstacles Shields beat to get to this very moment. With every jab, every uppercut, every blow, Shields thought about why she needed to be triumphant. She needed to win for herself and her hometown of Flint, Michigan. Most importantly, she needed to win for her family.

It was a tall order for the then-17-year-old, but just as she was in the challenges before, Shields was tenacious in her quest for victory. The first American woman to win Olympic gold in boxing is a title anyone would be proud of, but the lack of attention — as well as endorsements — she received upon her return was disheartening. Unbowed, Shields remained hungry. With her insatiable appetite and support from friends and family, the 21-year-old will return to the ring at the 2016 Rio Olympics hoping to become the first female boxer to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals. From 2012 to 2016, photographer and filmmaker Zackary Canepari documented Shields’ Olympic journey. Here is how her story unfolded. … Read More

(via ESPNW)

Sports media member swings, misses at sports analogy

The football head injury conversation more and more people are having is a complicated and multifaceted one. One of the reachable conclusions is obvious, though: a confluence of related factors could conspire to bring about the “end” of football as we currently know it. Many people often immediately retort, “No!”, maybe because they like football a lot and don’t want it to end, but also, they say, there’s too much money in football, it’s too big of a business, and it’s way too popular and ingrained in our culture to go away. And the first person might then bring up boxing. To put the thesis statement at the end of this opening paragraph, the point, for those, like Jonathan Mahler, who might miss it, is that if a sport as widely popular and culturally ingrained as boxing could fall from prominence, so too could football; in other words, that football is America’s most popular, wealthy, culturally relevant sport is no defense to the claim that it might lose that status, because a once-similarly situated sport– boxing– did lose its status as such.

Mahler, a sports columnist for whatever Bloomberg View is, captured readers with the headline “Why Football Won’t Go the Way of Boxing (Yet)” and his thesis is that football won’t follow boxing’s decline because boxing’s decline was the result of television-related changes, not “brutality.” The issue that vitiates the analogy is not the specific reason for the decline, as Mahler believes, but it is the fact of the decline itself.

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The next Floyd Mayweather?

Yes, Floyd’s still doing his thing, although his thing seems to be less and less about boxing these days. Mayweather is thirty-five years old and still undefeated, the pound-for-pound champion of the sport, the self-proclaimed face of boxing. His mix of wealth and outspokenness keeps him relevant even as, for a variety of reasons, he fights less frequently. Juan Manuel Marquez’s knockout of Manny Pacquiao earlier this month only serves to complicate the question of whether Pacquiao and Mayweather ever will fight.

Meanwhile, Grantland has the story of Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, a young fighter who, like Mayweather, has Grand Rapids roots, preaches a gospel of hard work and dedication, and doesn’t lose:


(Here‘s the original post.)

Ring tones: Two raconteurs battle to tell the tale of Boom Boom Mancini

Boxing is and remains at the nexus of raw athleticism and raw celebrity, and its literary and musical ties are no less strong today for the decrease in volume of evidence of those ties that reasonably tracks the decrease in the sport’s popularity. I don’t feel any special need to perpetuate the sport except that I would hate to see it go, which is why I try to keep an eye on it here. (Click the “boxing” tag at the bottom of this post for past coverage.)

I was looking forward to reading this interview with Boom Boom Mancini’s latest biographer, and although I did learn some interesting details about the fighter’s life, the interview wasn’t anything special. It did recall an earlier Mancini biographer, though, who gives a crisp, thundering delivery:

(I also think more boxing matches should take place outside.)

The future of boxing? M-A-R-S, Ali says

Unlike my more complete, early assessments of Bill Simmons’ Grantland and Clay Travis’ OutKick the Coverage, The Classical has been subjected to less exacting treatment here, in part, I think, because I have yet to pin down a describable essence of the site upon which to hang a similarly descriptive post. This is due, in part, I think, because The Classical itself hasn’t quite pinned itself down. A quick, supporting example: while David Roth’s emergence as a primary voice on the site is not in any way unpleasant, the apparent vanishing of The Classical’s star editor-in-chief, Bethlehem Shoals, is at least mystifying. If I had to register a conclusion at this point, it would be that, though still finding its way with its general readership, the site at least appears influential as a blogger’s  blog, evidenced, in part, by the emergence of the transcript-style dialogue features at places like Grantland and Deadspin. And now that I’ve wholly unnecessarily exhausted my quota of commas for the week, it’s time to move on to the substance of this post.

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Born of Kickstarter, The Classical does have an early, functional legacy in its support of other Kickstarter projects. One of these is the funded blank on blank, which “aim[s] to take recorded interviews that might not otherwise be heard and give them new, multimedia life.” One such recorded interview, which The Classical recently highlighted by way of updating readers on the status of blank on blank, was a 1966 high school radio interview of Muhammad Ali:

The interview was the result of a happy confluence: a champion who delighted in talking like virtually no athlete before or since, and some precocity cases from Winnetka, IL’s New Trier High School who had the pure high-school balls to cold-call that champion and get him out to a high school campus for an interview.

While Midwesterners certainly are non-shocked by the suggestion that there might have been some “precocity cases” at New Trier, this is a neat clip (and not just because it sends up a more recent, albeit alternative, presidential space program proclamation):

ALDLAND Pen Pal Project: Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather is in jail. He doesn’t want to be in jail, and he especially doesn’t want to be in solitary confinement. And even though his confinement hasn’t prevented him from winning a fourth ESPY as fighter of the year or becoming the highest paid athlete in the world (and interestingly, the only member of the top 25 on that list to get there with $0.00 in endorsements).

For Floyd, though, everything, including the money, really is all about the attention, which brings us to the tweet that showed up on his account this week:

Perhaps we, the writers and readers of ALDLAND, should collaborate to send Floyd a letter. Please add your contribution in the comment section, below.

What really happened in the Pacquiao-Bradley fight?

I do love conspiracy theories, and there’s no better way to end a Sunday or start a Monday than with a video like this. Timothy Bradley’s win by split decision over Manny Pacquiao was much maligned by media of all stripes, and even Bradley’s camp seemed a bit tentative in the aftermath of a victory over someone considered one of the top two fighters in the world.

I did not watch this match, so I don’t have my own opinion on it, but I’ve questioned the HBO announcers’ view of fights before, so I’m not shocked that someone else would do the same. Judge for yourself:

(via BigLeadSports)
(HT: Awful Announcing)

Floyd Mayweather dodges Miguel Cotto’s fists, strip clubs to remain undefeated

After the ponies did their thing on Saturday, it was time for Cinco de Mayweather (plan B), a bout between the undefeated Floyd Mayweather and the then-twice-defeated Miguel Cotto for the latter’s 154-pound belt. The fight went the distance, and at the end of the twelfth round, the judges unanimously declared Mayweather the winner.

I can’t say I disagree with that determination, and it’s the one for which I was rooting, but I thought it was a very close fight, as my live round-by-round evaluation, reproduced below, evidences. The HBO announcers, by contrast, were confident that Mayweather was winning fairly early on and had the thing sewed up by the late rounds.

My general impression was that Cotto, the heavier puncher with the shorter reach, was able to dictate the terms of the fight: close range, with Mayweather backed into a corner or on the ropes. Even if Floyd simply was allowing this to happen, it surprised me, and I didn’t understand why he let it go on for so long. On the other hand, none of Cotto’s hits, including the one that broke Floyd’s nose, seemed to faze Mayweather, and it was Cotto who was staggering a bit in the 12th, not Mayweather. Cotto provided the toughest test for Mayweather of all the opponents I’ve seen.

Some saw it as Mayweather making like Jalen Rose and giving the people what they want, while others simply credited Mayweather’s endurance as a result of a training regimen that began when he opted for a 3:00 am six-mile run instead of a strip club visit in Orlando during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend. Whatever the reason, Mayweather heads into his eighty-seven-day jail sentence on a winning streak.

Round-by-round analysis after the jump…

Feel Good Friday Jam

Whipping through downtown Louisville on my way back from the Kentucky-Vanderbilt game, I hit scan on my radio, and my car immediately was filled with a digitonic breakdown the likes of which I had not heard since Eiffel 65 first struck my ears on a late-night walkman blast in 1999. The song soon faded out, and I scanned again, immediately hitting a much earlier point in the same song on the very next station. I only found it once more on my drive, but I got hooked, and now you can too:

* Apologies for the advertisement, which was necessary to bring you the highest available definition for this video, and the excessive shirt-waiving, which was not.

Cinco de MayNo

Old news by this point, but the announcement came on Wednesday that Floyd Mayweather’s May 5 opponent would be Miguel Cotto, not Manny Pacquiao, as some had hoped and anticipated. Mayweather had been making public (twitter) and private (telephone) ovations to Pacquiao this year (a bit of a role reversal, at least as far as casual public perception was concerned), but the fight of the century will not come to pass, at least as far as 2012 is concerned. Reports have been sketchy as to why the top two fighters won’t be in the ring together in Las Vegas on 5/5/12, some briefly mentioning “an impasse in talks.” while others suggesting there was a lack of agreement over how to divide the pay-per-view money. Mayweather made his own view of the situation known:

My interpretation of the apparent lack of media probing into the breakdown in talks is that it is evidence of the changing perception of the two fighters toward a more positive view of Mayweather.

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Cinco de Mayweather
Four rounds with Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz