Tag Archives: Urbano Antillon

Boxing’s Prospects Fail to Make It to the Promised Land

by Paul Magno

Something’s been happening to boxing’s young prospects.

Actually, something’s not happening to them: They’re not winning.

The latest example was in this past Saturday’s Latin Fury 10 PPV, which saw highly-regarded Lightweight prospect, acosta-antillonUrbano Antillon, taste the canvas, and defeat, for the first time against the unknown Venezuelan stylist, Miguel Acosta.

On a personal note for Antillon, he failed in his attempt to win the vacant Interim WBA Lightweight title and failed to live up to the hype that had him regarded by Larry Merchant of HBO as a “can’t miss” future superstar.

However, in the big picture, Antillon’s inability to cope with simple lateral movement spoke of a greater problem behind the scenes of the sport. It spoke of a future generation of star athletes who are simply not being taught the skills to go along with their athletic promise.

The list of failed prospects in recent weeks is almost comical:

*Well-regarded amateur stand-out, Juan Carlos Velasquez, is defeated by Mexican journeyman, Jose Beranza, on Friday Night Fights. Velasquez actually seemed to be shocked and surprised that Beranza would fight back.

*Colombian banger, and destroyer of fellow prospect, Amir Khan, Breidis Prescott is outpointed by Miguel Vazquez, basically, because he had no idea how to deal with Vazquez’s head movement.

*Golden Boy’s Victor Ortiz is battered and psychologically torn down by Marcos Maidana, the first fighter with the nerve to actually keep fighting when confronted with the force of a “future superstar.”

*Alfredo Angulo is bested by Kermit Cintron because of his utter inability to deal with lateral movement, even when that lateral movement comes from a non-speedster like Cintron.

*Deandre Latimore is out-slugged by, of all people, a flat-footed and immobile Cory Spinks. deandre_latimore

One by one, the prospects are falling from contention and they’re not being replaced by veteran stars like in the case of Bernard Hopkins’ one-sided schooling of Kelly Pavlik.

Many of these young talents are being beaten by the products of hardcore boxing gyms in Latin America. They’re being beaten by fighters who, 10 or 20 years ago, would’ve been little more than a snack for talented athletes on their way to titles.

So, what’s the problem? What’s happening to our young lions?

Part of the problem rests in the fact that “old school” boxing trainers are mostly a thing of the past in the United States. For every Freddie Roach, there are a couple dozen trainers who would be better-suited working an aerobics class.

Serious boxing gyms are disappearing and the quality trainers are literally dying off.

There simply aren’t enough of the blood-and-guts Teddy Atlas-types who will take the time to teach their kids solid fundamentals and the value of being mentally prepared as a professional.

Instead, they are fed into an amateur system which now values arm-punches and “back-foot” fighting over a professional defense and a workable inside game.

In the modern amateur game, points are valued more than power and a light jab is a bigger asset than solid body punching.

It’s no wonder young fighters seem to be lacking a certain degree of mental toughness these days.

The second reason for this apparent failure of the young prospects has to do with our culture.

We are in a culture of instant gratification where anything worth having better be had right now.

It takes a lifetime to become a fundamentally solid professional boxer. It’s something that takes blood, sweat and tears. Hour after hour is spent going over one basic move, until it’s perfected.

Unfortunately, in a prize-fighting world of flailing, crude UFC brawls and “extreme” instant gratification, many young people simply don’t have the patience or dedication to sweat for hours at a time on something as mundane as learning how to walk the ring.

The scary part is that, at some point, those boxers who have taken the time to learn their craft, will retire, leaving behind this crop of talented, but not fundamentally sound pretenders.

Then, what will boxing look like?

Discuss This Topic on the BTBC Message Board!

Bob Arum’s Mexican Standoff

by Paul Magno

Mexican Standoff:

 n: a situation in which no one can emerge as a clear winner. A no-win/no-lose situation

 

What must the atmosphere have been like in the dressing room after the main event of Latin Fury 8 as Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. celebrated his harder-than-expected victory over 106th ranked Luciano Cuello? sotomontielWhat could’ve been going through the minds of established veteran world champions, Fernando Montiel and Humberto Soto as they watched the media gush over Chavez Jr.? And what about when they heard all the big plans Bob Arum has in store for his young fighter? Could anyone expect these two accomplished warriors to be at all happy about playing second fiddle to a 23-year old who has yet to beat anyone ranked in the top 100? Would anyone blame them for frustration born from having to fight “stay busy” fights against marginal foes for marginal paychecks while Arum goes on and on about Chavez Jr.’s next PPV main event? Especially vexing for the pair of Top Rank champs is the fact that lesser Latino fighters are making bigger paydays with just about every other promotional company.

Recently, Bob Arum of Top Rank has shown an utter inability to land his Mexican and Mexican-American fighters the exposure and paydays they need. Instead, unless their name is Chavez or Margarito, they are in a perpetual holding pattern of rumored fights that never materialize and big opportunities that always seem to go to other fighters. Is this inability to push their Mexican fighters a product of Arum’s fading influence in the Hispanic market or is it indicative of Arum’s diminishing desire to promote anyone who isn’t already an established draw?

Fernando Montiel has to be among the most frustrated. He’s on many Top 10 Pound 4 Pound lists and on any informed Top 20 list. This superb technician and former Super Flyweight champ recently got tossed a bone and he was given a title shot at the vacant WBO Bantamweight title against unknown Diego Silva on the Chavez/Cuello undercard, but money fights with Cristian Mijares, Vic Darchinyan and Nonito Donaire never materialized despite rumors that they were close to being made. Now, Montiel is Bantamweight champ and a fight with Eric Morel is rumored. If this fight also falls through, Montiel may very well resign himself to the fact that no mega-fights are on the horizon and the money a pro like him deserves to make won’t be on the table until he’s well past his physical prime.

Another fighter lost in the shuffle is Humberto Soto, the talented 2-time and currently reigning WBC world champ whose career has been in limbo since early 2008. While he’s been fighting club fighters for small bills and intermittently entangled in a pair of farces for an interim title against the inferior Francisco Lorenzo, Golden Boy Super Featherweights like Rocky Juarez and Jorge Barrios have enjoyed multiple legit title shots on primetime HBO shows despite multiple big-fight losses. Soto’s next scheduled to fight Benoit Gaudet, another “keep busy” distraction on the Pacquiao/Hatton undercard.

And this inability to make the big fights for its smallest fighters, doesn’t stop with Montiel and Soto…

alvarado1At one point, Top Rank’s Mike Alvarado was more highly regarded than fellow Jr. Welterweight, Victor Ortiz. Now, despite nearly identical records and similar achievements, Golden Boy’s Ortiz is HBO’s darling and he’ll be fighting for his first world title against WBA champ, Andreas Kotelnik while Alvarado’s next bout will be against Joaquin Gallardo, deep on the Pacquiao/Hatton card. Alvarado has to be second-guessing his choice of promoter.urbanothumb

A similar question mark has to appear above the head of Urbano Antillon, Top Rank’s tough, young Super Featherweight, as he continues to fight on obscure Spanish-language channels while fellow 26-year old 130 pounder, Golden Boy’s Robert Guerrero, has enjoyed two high-profile bouts on prominent cards following a year of inactivity.  

Even among the smallest of the small, unrest has to be brewing at Top Rank. Edgar Sosa and Ulises Solis, holders of the WBC and IBF Jr. Flyweight titles, respectively, look to make the only money fight in the division- against fellow Top Rank fighter, and WBO Flyweight champ, Ivan Calderon. Nobody other than Sosa and Solis seem in any hurry to make this fight. Instead, all 3 champs get tossed small fights to keep them busy and, essentially, keep them out of bankruptcy.

The Lightweight Lightning PPV last week served as further proof of Golden Boy’s dedication to the Latino market and their desire to keep their Latino fighters sharp and well-paid, with the most exposure possible. While the show wasn’t huge and the paychecks weren’t immense, all 6 of their fighters were engaged in lively, significant bouts in front of a crowd that was there to see them. Compare that to the Latinos in the Top Rank stable who, when not just sitting around, are fighting insignificant bouts in front of people who paid to see other fighters.

Bob Arum is currently engaged in a no-win Mexican Standoff with his fighters and the fans who want to see them. No matter what happens, though, he’s simply going to have to do something with his talent. It’s not enough to have a collection of talented fighters if there’s no effort to use them properly. If Arum has no desire to do the hard work of finding them quality fights, he should do the honorable thing and let them out of their contracts. To keep them strung along, like they currently are, is an insult to their abilities and a disservice to us fans who want to see them in worthwhile battles.

2008: Year-End Awards

by Paul Magno

2008 was a solid year for the sport, sprinkled with a handful of surprising upsets and exciting battles. We saw some of the biggest names in the sport have their flames extinguished and we saw the lighting and passing of the torch to a number of younger names. 

In retrospect, 2008 will go down as a year of transition; A year in which we saw David Haye emerge as a factor in a stagnant Heavyweight division, Antonio Margarito battle his way to the top of a stacked Welterweight division; We saw young talents like Juan Manuel Lopez, Paul Williams and Chad Dawson become world-class players and an old war horse like Bernard Hopkins fight the odds to stay a Pound for Pound legend. Established stars like Manny Pacquiao, Joe Calzaghe and Juan Manuel Marquez moved up in weight and made a mark in their new divisions and Vitali Klitschko came back strong after a 4 year retirement to embarrass the reigning WBC World Champ. 2008 will be a year to remember if ony for the fact that it sets the table nicely for a very combustible 2009!

Without further ado, here are the Best of the Best in 2008:

Fighter of the Year:  Manny Pacquiao  ye1

Even before his shockingly dominant win over Oscar De la Hoya, Manny was a solid candidate for this award with a disputed win over Juan Manuel Marquez and a brutal beat down of Lightweight title holder, David Diaz. The win against Oscar made him a clear and obvious choice and with an impressive list of potential opponents in ’09, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him back in this category again next year.

Runners Up:  Antonio Margarito, Paul Williams

 

 

 

 Fight of the Year:  Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez 3

ye2With 13 rounds and 2 fights between them, there was no loss in passion when these two warriors met for the tie-breaker in their series. The fight itself was classic, Rocky-style action with both fighters changing advantages over the course of the 12 round bout. Both warriors fought deserately to prove their superiority and, quite probably, left a bit of themselves in the ring that night. Whatever they made for that war, they should’ve been paid double.

Runners Up:  Antonio Margarito vs. Miguel Cotto,  Joel Casamayor vs. Michael Katsidis, Rogers Mtagwa vs. Tomas Villa

Event of the Year:  The Dream Matchye3

No other event captured as much attention as this showdown between the sport’s biggest draw in De la Hoya and the sport’s Pound for Pound best in Pacquiao. The mainstream press covered the bout and even the hardcore Boxing press reported on every detail leading up to the fight, often reporting with the fervor of gossip columnists instead of  sports journalists. The 1.25 million buys close to Christmas and in a struggling economy proved just how much this event captured the public’s imagination.

Runner Up: The Margarito/Cotto PPV

 

 

 Knockout of the Year: Edison Miranda KO 3 David Banks

ye4With potential opponent, Jean Pascal in the crowd, Miranda cracked Banks with an overhand right that left Banks dangling on the second rope, halfway in the ring and halfway out. The actual sound of the punch was like a rifle or a small grenade going off…and it effectively stalled talks with Pascal for a future fight.

Runners Up:  Paul Williams KO 1 Andy Kolle, Breidis Prescott KO 1 Amir Khan

 

Round of the Year: Kandall Holt vs. Ricardo Torres (Round 1)ye5

3 total knockdowns, a controversial headbutt and a brutal KO…all in a little over than a minute! ‘Nuff said.

Runners Up: Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez 3 (Rd. 12), Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Matt Vanda 1 ( Rd. 10)

 

The Pernell Whitaker Virtuoso Award:  Bernard Hopkins

Pavlik Hopkins BoxingAn absolutely masterful performance by a fighter who was supposed to finally get retired by a younger, hungrier Kelly Pavlik. Hopkins proved his critics wrong and the 43 year old virtuoso went on to win almost every minute of every round, even offering helpful advice to Pavlik after the thrashing.  School was in session and B-Hop is still Boxing’s head professor.

Runners Up: Nate Campbell (vs Juan Diaz), Juan Manuel Marquez (vs. Joel Casamayor), Carlos Quintana (vs. Paul Williams 1)

 

 

The Oliver McCall Puzzling Non-Performance in a Prime Time Drama Award:  Samuel Peter BOXING/

“The Nigerian Nightmare” slept his way through 8 listless rounds before passivley quiting on his stool. This, after being mocked and belittled during the entire publicity push for his fight with Vitali Klitschko. Did I mention that Peter was the defending world champ in this one?

Runners Up:  Cory Spinks (vs. Verno Phillips), Cristian Mijares (vs. Vic Darchinyan, Nikolay Valuev (vs. Evander Holyfield)

 

Breakthrough Fighter of the Year:  Juan Manuel Lopez

ye8In 2008, Juanma beat a fellow prosect (Jonathan Oquendo), a reigning world champ (Daniel Ponce de Leon) and two tough fringe contenders in high-profile bouts (Cesar Figueroa, Sergio Medina)…and he did all this while fighting a total of 6 rounds. Lopez has blasted his way into the hearts of Puerto Rican fans and has made his presence known to all Boxing fans, everywhere.

Runners Up: Alfredo Angulo, Carl Froch

 

 

Upset of the Year: Manny Pacquiao RTD 8 Oscar De la Hoya ye91

Few gave the much smaller Pacquiao a chance against the naturally larger De la Hoya. Those who tuned in, saw a masterful performance by Manny against an Oscar who may or may not have been weight-drained. Whatever the case, the end result was shocking and the biggest upset of the year.

Runners Up: Vic Darchinyan KO 9 Cristian Mijares, Breidis Prescott KO 1 Amir Khan

 

Robbery of the Year: Nikolay Valuev MD Evander Holyfield

APTOPIX Switzerland Boxing Valuev HolyfieldThis could go both ways, a robbery on two fronts. The judges’ decision was horrible and they literally stole the fight from Holyfield and The fight itself was so dreadful and dreary that the PPV asking price of 25 bucks and the price of the arena seat could be considered theft in and of itself…

Runner Up: The Dream Match PPV, Boxing Fans Losing ESPN Wednesday Night Fights and Solo Boxeo

 

The George A. Romero Gore Award:  Jorge Barrios ye11

Barrios’ lips was literally shredded by Rocky Juarez in their bout. The end result looked like something from the Director’s Cut of Night of the Living Dead. Truly Gruesome.

Runner Up: Miguel Cotto’s Battered Face After the Margarito Fight.

 

Much Ado About Nothing: Andy Lee

ye121After much hype, Emanuel Steward’s kid was outfought by journeyman Brian Vera on national TV. Not good.

Runners Up: John Duddy, Yan Barthelemy, Rey Bautista

 

Moment of the Year: A Victorious Hopkins Staring Down the Press ye13

2008’s moment of the year came when Hopkins went over to the side of the ring after his win against Pavlik and stared down his critics and doubters. Poignant, defiant, angered…whatever you want to call it, it was B-Hop taking something back from his critics and summing up an entire career with one emotional glare.

Runners Up: Oscar De la Hoya Slumped in his Corner, Miguel Cotto Taking a Knee vs. Margarito

The Instant Karma Award: Oscar De la Hoya

De La Hoya Pacquiao BoxingIn what was a cynical attempt at closing out his career with an “easy” win against a respected and combustible, but smaller Pacquiao, Oscar was surprised and soon found himself over his head. He was battered and embarrassed by his hand-picked foe and forced to humbly retire.

Runners Up: Cristian Mijares Taking Vic Darchinyan as a Joke, The Calzaghe/Jones PPV Buy Rate.

 

 

 

 

 The Piss or Get Off The Pot Award:  The Heavyweight Division ye15

Quite literally, the once-proud Heavyweight Division now consists of a bunch of big guys just waiting around for their money fights to materialize. The contenders aren’t fighting each other and the champions are hand-picking their foes..or simply not fighting at all.

Runners Up: Ronald Hearns, Allan Green 

 

Trainer of  The Year: Freddie Roach

ye16For his work with Pacquiao as well as a handful of other solid fighters, Freddie deserves this honor. Kudos to a class guy who understands that its his job to enhance a fighter’s natural abilities and not implant his own ideas and aesthetic into their head.

Runner Up: Floyd Mayweather Sr.

 

The George W. Bush “What Were They Thinking” Award: Paulie Malignaggi and his Dreadlocks ye17

Ugly, stupid and In the Way…Otherwise, a brilliant hairstyle idea for Malignaggi’s UK debut in the build up to his fight with Ricky Hatton.

Runners Up: Kelly Pavlik deciding to Fight Bernard Hopkins, Steve Molitor Signing to Fight Celestino Caballero

 

King Trash Talk: Vic Darchinyan

ye18“I can’t get enough of Mexican fighters. They bounce real good off the canvas when I hit them…Defeating Arce won’t take much training. It won’t even be a fight for me –more like pest control. I’m going to swat that Spanish Fly. How do you take a guy like Arce seriously? He sucks on lollipops and wears a cowboy hat from a toy store. I can picture him running around his house on a broom pretending he’s riding a horse. He’s a regular Schlepalong Cassidy. Arce is going to be my human piñata. Our fight will be like a Chihuahua against a bull…a raging bull!”

Runner Up: Nate Campbell

The Dr. Evil Laughable Villain Award: Referee Marlon B. Wright

Not only was the Canadian Wright trying his best to handcuff Librado Andrade all night in his bout with Canada’s Andrade Bute Boxingown Lucian Bute, he tried to seal the deal with an inept attempt to save the out-on-his feet Bute’s behind by spending nearly 30 seconds chasing Andrade back to his corner following a knockdown. The pisser? It was unnecessary since Bute was already up and saved by the bell in the last and final round. Wright just looked like an idiot, too slow to even cheat properly.

Runner Up: The WBO for instantly rating Marco Antonio Barrera #1 contender when he signed with Don King.

 

 

Mismatch of the Year: Miguel Cotto vs. Alfonso Gomez

yex1This was a mismatch from the time it was signed and it culminated with a dominant performance from Cotto which saw him sigh, roll his eyes and practically yawn his way through 5 one-sided rounds. If he had been wearing a watch, he would’ve been checking the time while beating on the hapless Gomez. Proving that the fans aren’t stupid, this HBO show became the lowest rated Boxing event in the network’s history.

Runner Up: Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Cesar Fuguroa

 

The Judge Judy Inept Judge Award: Doug Tucker (120-108 Jose Navarro over Cristian Mijares)

In a bout that the other two judges (and the rest of the world) saw Mijares winning solidly, Tucker found a way to give ye23every round to Jose Navarro. Maybe he was facing the wrong direction?

Runner Up: All 3 Judges in the Holyfield/Valuev Fight

 

ye24The “Hey, That Guy Drives My Bus!” Award: Chad  Van Sickle (vs. Odlanier Solis)

Boxing’s own Ralph Kramden briefly saw the spotlight before being beaten to a pulp by Solis.

 

The Big Bully Award: Pongsaklek Wonjongkam  ye25

This former WBC Flyweight Champ decided to take the path of least resistance after losing his title and then drawing with the new champ in a rematch. This 70 fight veteran fought 0-2 Akbar Mohammadpour in his next fight. He then fought back to back bouts against Danny Sutton and Amir Jordan, two fighters making their ring debut against the former world champ. Needless to say, Wonjongkam is 3-0 in his comeback campaign.

Will Shine in ’09: Chad Dawson, Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Lopez, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Jorge Linares, Alfredo Angulo, James Kirkland, Mike Alvarado, Victor Ortiz, Urbano Antillon, Abner Mares, Odlanier Solis, Cris Arreola

Stick a Fork in ’em, They’re Done: Roy Jones, Oscar De la Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Chris Byrd, Evander Holyfield, Marco Antonio Barrera, Yori Boy Campas, Kevin Kelley, Stevie Jonhston

Future Champ, 2031: Julian “Lights Out” Escobedo: julian21

Ok, indulge me…This is my nephew, Julian, in his Halloween costume…But he does indeed throw a wicked left hook and he’s been known to do his share of biting in clinches.All he needs is to perfect his Uncle Paul’s Shoulder Roll and he’ll be defeating all comers…Watch out world… The New “Lights Out” is on his way!!!

 

 

 

 

 

To all the Friends and Fans of The Blue Corner (The BTBC): 2008 has been a blast and we can’t wait to see what happens in ’09…Take Care and have a Happy New Year!

For Video of some of our Award Winners, check out our YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/BTBlueCorner

To Debate or Discuss anything written here, feel free to drop by Boxing’s Pound 4 Pound Best Boxing Forum, The BTBC: http://www.btbc.proboards.com/index.cgi