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The Ramblings of a Guy Called Lee 12.29.10: 2010 Thoughts, Pascal-Hopkins Controversy, Naz HOF Discussion
Posted by David M. Lee on 12.29.2010

2010 - Not So Bad After All

Oh 2010, what are we to make of you? You promised us Pacquiao-Mayweather and Haye-Klitschko, but gave us Pacquiao-Clottey and Haye-Harrison. You treated us to a series of pullouts and the most boring summer of boxing ever. But, somehow, you salvaged yourself with an outstanding last couple of months, which featured a strong list of FOTY candidates such as; Burns-Martinez, Lopez-Marquez, JM Marquez-Katsidis, Soto-Antillon and Khan-Maidana to name a few. Hell, we even had an entertaining Bernard Hopkins fight to close out the boxing calendar. A strange year indeed.

I liken 2010 to Shane Mosley's performance in his rematch with Oscar De La Hoya. Pretty shit for most of the way through, but a strong late surge was enough to win over some. Now granted, 2010 didn't need to inject itself with EPO to achieve this goal, but you get where I'm coming from. However, Shane Mosley didn't win me over with his late rally, but 2010 did.

Judging is Subjective (Part 372)

It seems I say this after every controversial decision, but if I have to keep on saying it I will - JUDGING IS SUBJECTIVE PEOPLE! This, of course, comes in the wake of the Pascal-Hopkins furore. As you know, the fight was scored a draw to the outrage of many. Our own Ramon Aranda wrote about how bogus the "robbery" claims were in his column last week and I agree with what he said word for word. This was not a robbery. Not even close to one. The only thing that was close was the fight itself. For the record, I had it 114-113 to B-Hop, giving both men a share of the last round. If I had given Jean Pascal the final round (which many people did) I would have scored it a draw, so I have no problem with a 113-113 card. Perfectly acceptable in my view.

Fact is that Hopkins left himself with a mountain to climb after his horrible start. Quite a few people have argued that the first knockdown shouldn't have counted, but I'm not so sure. It wasn't a blatant rabbit punch, it was just behind the ear, which a lot of referees recognise as a legal punch, the same way some referees don't call a punch to the belt line a low blow. These type of punches are borderline infringements and it should be left to the referee's discretion as to whether they're illegal or not.

Legitimate knockdown or not, Pascal was five points up after three rounds, which meant Hopkins pretty much needed a near shutout from there on in. He nearly managed it, but not quite. Some people will try and convince you that Hopkins dominated the fight after the third round and unquestionably won rounds four to twelve. Don't believe a word of it. Rounds four, five, eight and twelve could have gone either way. "Swing rounds" as we say in the game.

As Jim Watt, who works as a TV analyst for Sky Sports in the UK, often says, sometimes you forget about the scorecards and just look at the fight as a twelve round event and ask yourself who deserved to win. If you do that with Pascal-Hopkins, you would have to say Bernard deserves to be the WBC light-heavyweight champion right now. But that's not how we award decisions in boxing.

B-Hop - Truly one of a kind

No matter how you scored it, there can be no question that Hopkins can be proud of his performance. For a 46-year-old to recover from two knockdowns and finish the stronger fighter against a man nearly twenty years his junior is simply phenomenal. This man is one of a kind and we'll never see his like again. Now as good as Bernard looked, it must be said that Pascal looked awful after five rounds. A lot of that is down to Hopkins and it'll be interesting to see how Pascal bounces back from this draw.

Can Pascal ever be the same again?

As I've said before, Hopkins doesn't just beat people, he breaks them mentally, takes their soul and ruins their career. Felix Trinidad and Kelly Pavlik will attest to that. Pascal did seem to fall apart mentally the same way Jermain Taylor did towards the end of his fight with Hopkins. Taylor was never the same after his battles with Hopkins. Will Pascal ever be the same again? Only time will tell.

Something To Consider

In recent weeks we've seen how the change from fifteen rounders to twelve rounders can affect results. Fights like Matthew Macklin vs. Ruben Varon, Amir Khan vs. Marcos Maidana and the aforementioned clash between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal are all examples, in my view, of contests that would have had different outcomes had they'd been scheduled for fifteen rounds. Now in the interest of safety (and I'm a safety first kind of guy) I think it's a good thing that fights were trimmed down to twelve rounds, but what do you think? Please comment below.

Naz In The Hall Of Fame?

I read a very interesting article in Boxing News last week (a great boxing publication and if you don't buy it you should) which discusses whether former world featherweight champion Naseem Hamed belongs in the Hall of Fame. The author, Gavin Evans, waxes lyrical about Naz's talents, argues strongly that he never reached his true potential and that his resume is more than good enough to qualify for a place in Canastota.

Now I'll agree with the latter point. When compared with the accomplishments of other inductees such as Barry McGuigan, Ingemar Johansson and Jose Torres, then yes Hamed should be a shoo-in for the HOF. So to answer the question, yes, judged on the current criteria, Hamed does belong in the HOF. But I don't believe Naz was ever a great boxer and this whole "he never fulfilled his potential" codswallop nauseates me. It reminds me of the infamous "peak Mike Tyson" garbage you often read about on the forums.

Naz - Belongs in the Hall of Fame by today's standards, but doesn't deserve to be ranked among the greats

Look, there have been thousands upon thousands of naturally gifted boxers who never made it in the pro game for one reason or another. Naseem isn't one of them. He had a fantastic career. He was the dominant featherweight for the best part of six years (although never did seem keen to accommodate his WBO mandatory Juan Manuel Marquez), broke box office records for a featherweight and introduced a young fanbase (aka. the MTV Generation) to the sport of boxing, which is always a good thing.

He was naturally the biggest puncher I've ever seen and a very good and exciting world champion who fell short of true elite level, as evidenced by his schooling at the hands of the great Marco Antonio Barrera. Naz, unlike truly great fighters, showed an inability to adjust midway when it was clear things weren't going according to plan. Hamed's years of defensive flaws, terrible balance and general lack of fundamental skills came back to haunt him that night.

Revisionist historians (and boy, you gotta love them) will tell you that Barrera was at his peak and caught Hamed at just the right time. They'll swear blind that "The Prince" was never the same after leaving his original trainer Brendan Ingle and that he didn't train properly for the Barrera fight. Of course it's always easy to be wise after the event isn't it? The fact is that Barrera was a super-bantamweight moving up to face the strongest and best featherweight in the world and at the time many speculated that it was Naz who was catching Barrera at just the right point in his career.

The Mexican had a brutal war with Erik Morales just a year earlier and it was quite possible that Barrera had left it all in the ring against his great rival (his three subsequent fights didn't tell us a whole lot). Truth be told, Hamed held all the aces going into that fight, but ended up looking like the joker and that was all down to how good Barrera was on the night. The signs were there for years that a smart, cagey boxer with a good jab would have Hamed's number. It was just that most didn't expect that person to be Barrera, who spent much of his career up until that point being a front foot pressure fighter.

Enough with the nonsense that Hamed didn't train properly for the Barrera fight. There's no way he could have taken Barrera's flush power shots for twelve rounds if he wasn't in top physical condition. And spare me the usual diatribe that Hamed would never have been caught with those shots had he still been under the tutelage of Brendan Ingle. Those same flaws that were exposed in the Barrera fight also existed when Ingle was in the corner. In fact, it was under Ingle's guidance that Hamed developed all those bad habits. And let us not forget that Ingle was present for Hamed's near disasters against Daniel Alicea, Manuel Medina and Kevin Kelley.

The difference was that all of the above fighters got overzealous and deviated from their game plan once they had Naz in trouble and paid the price. Barrera didn't. He knew that Hamed had the power to take him out, so he kept a cool head throughout the contest, even when he had the Briton in serious trouble. It must have been hell for a warrior like Barrera to stick to his newfound disciplined, cagey style, but he got a chance to unleash some of that pent-up aggression in the final round when he slammed Hamed's head into the turnbuckle. The Mexican was deducted a point, but he was so far ahead at that stage if didn't matter a jot. Barrera had proven his superiority over Hamed. A great fighter had beaten a very good one.

Hamed deserves his place in the HOF for reasons which I have already mentioned. He should be remembered as an entertaining and very good world champion, but he should not be remembered as a great boxer. His fans can rave all they want about how a "peak Naseem Hamed" would have blasted Barrera in a couple of rounds and that if he had "fulfilled his potential" he could have gone to win world titles in several different weights, yada yada yada, ad nauseam.

I'll just go on the evidence from what I've seen with my own eyes and say that Hamed had a good run as champion until he faced his first opponent who could truly be called "great" and was not on the slide.

Well that's all for this month and this year as it happens. I hope you enjoyed this edition of Ramblings and wish you all a safe and prosperous new year.


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