Sunday, November 22, 2009

Boxing Delights with Miguel Cotto Tuning Up Against Joshua Clottey

I slept very late. People simply don’t just get it. And it robbed me a good night’s rest, waking up with anger still breathing inside me. I went back to bed refusing a habit’s dictate to file some work in the morning. The girlfriend called up. Moments later I fixed a black-no-sugar coffee, read some pages of Jonathan Franzen’s The Correction without understanding anything, and went out for a walk.

When I get back I put on the TV and the Cotto fight is on. He’ll fight against Joshua Clottey. Clottey comes in first dancing his Ghana war dance.

And so comes Miguel Cotto.

The first round immediately tells us that Clottey is not Margarito. And before the round ends Clottey realizes why Cotto should have won that fight against the Chin Myth Margarito, who is now by the way serving his time outside from the boxing world for cheating in his fight against Shane Mosley. But that’s another story.

Second round, Clottey has landed some decent jabs and upper-cuts, telling us why he earns a fight against Cotto.

Third round, Clottey decides on a naughty move cutting Cotto with a mischievous head-butt.
Cotto is bleeding and looks fiercer, ready to eat a good serving of Ghana’s lions and other wildcats.

The fourth round is a real skirmish – the most interesting so far in the fight. The camera focuses on the Cotto’s cut after the bell and it was deeper cut than I expected. I could put a whole finger in it and there’s still room for a Mongol pencil.

The fifth round. Cotto also shows that he is capable of badasstry better than Clottey. And that capability has left Clottey on the floor acting like a baby crying for all the miseries in the world, especially his own miseries in his world.

Sixth round is a combination of badass moves and smartness of both fighters. I started to have some respect on Clottey’s toughness too. Cotto hammers him with punches that could normally send anyone to a long dreamless sleep. Yet Clottey perseveres. Cotto adds some more combinations, stopping only to wipe the blood from his face.

The seventh round is Clottey’s. And so is the eighth round. Cotto is banking on time.

In the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and the last round, nothing special is happening. The fight ends in a split decision with Cotto still retains his World Championship belt.

What else can I say, Cotto should fight Pacquiao. And Joshua Clottey too deserves a rematch.

Not Cotto..'

Real Filipino Master Boxing Tactician

[Published originally on 4/26/09]

Right. The Philippines almost has it all. We’ve several worldly acknowledged most corrupt and greediest political leaders in the world. We’ve awesomely invented the Halo-Halo (top that Chip Chewrping Tsao). Manny Pacquiao is the world’s number one pound for pound for 281 weeks now. And then there’s our ole man, the real master tactician in the country, no, the entire planet earth, the universe! on par only with Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins, and Juan Manuel Marquez – Jerry’s fellow boxing specialists, that any sane sluggers in boxing are trying to avoid, maybe for some more years when credible reports are heard that the master has finally succumbed to old age, Alzheimer’s disease or something.

Look at your master and weep!

First round. Both boxers took their time to measure each other up. But each one sensed an inevitable feeling of danger that any second may end the brawl.

Second round. It was said that, as part of his training and diet, Penalosa snacks on leather. I mean that innocent usually red vicious fist shaped leathers. That’s for immunity and strength. This round Penalosa has his tasting of Puerto Rican leather. He didn’t like it.

I am Glove, c'mon and taste me. I am fun!

Third and fourth rounds. Lopez tried to show his genius as a promising sweetscience swinger, landing several decent crosses, jobs and straights. The shouting Puerto Rico crowd was urging him. The Penalosa drilled him.

Fifth round. They were having a phone booth discussion – an exchange of body shots, upper-cut, one-two combinations. Lopez heaved after unleashing what he knew of this kind of communication. The Penalosa provided respectful replies.

Sixth and seventh rounds. Lopez started to realize what he’s got into. When the bell rung, he shook his head in utter disbelief and a feeling of drowsiness has started to creep in his entire boxed being.

Eight round. Lopez tried another unleashing.

Ninth round. And another unleashing.

Supposedly the tenth round. But Roach stopped the fight. I was repelled. With a boundless passion. Of course, the Roach knows something unlike others. But there’s also that kind of knowing he may possibly missed to comprehend.

My opinion of the Philippines’ master tactician remains untainted. I certainly would like to take my hat off for Jerry Penalosa if only I could find that damn hat.

The Fast and The Furious

[Published originally 4/20/09]

This is Nonito Donaire’s and Brian Viloria’s World Championship Fights.

The featured fight before the main event is a bout between Ulises Solis (28-1-2) and Brian Viloria (24-2-2) for the IBF Light Flyweight Championship. The champion is Solis. Viloria is the challenger.

Fierce in the first round, everybody knows Viloria is back and marks are felt on Solis. I give the first round to Viloria.

The second round convinces everyone present in the arena and millions watching in free television that this is not just one of those fad fights but a making of a boxing that worth many talks long it has ended. Now I strongly realize how a fight would evolved into something special, something that would mock time. Viloria said to have lack the desire. He said he had once reach the pinnacle of his career and then fall down and reach the bottom. Now he’s back. I give it a draw.

I only saw that kind of stance and movements in fighting brutes. One may recall that time you saw a cockfight. No one give in an inch except the force of the punches received. Both boxers surely deserve commendation in their courage. The third round is Solis by short points.

Once the ring tolled, I forgot the time and saw only the awesomeness of boxing. The fourth round is Viloria by again a close point.

Viloria opened the fifth round with a real skirmish – a lavish showing of his arsenal of power punch combinations that would have sent an average fighter to the canvass. But Solis is not an average fighter. Though he has now a long cut on his brow, he is an excellent, quite experienced slugger. His wily style saved him to fight another round. Undoubtedly Viloria.

The sixth round is Solis. He made it possible by showing his phone booth style of fighting. He made the scores, strong punches that visibly felt in the Viloria, making the fight more exciting, so exciting everybody forgot again the time and even the tolling of the bell.

The seventh round was kind of a break round with nothing noteworthy happened. I would have give it a draw but Solis was the aggressor of the round. So Solis, this is yours buddy.

The eighth round is for me the most exciting round in the fight. From the start of the round Solis slugged his way fiercely to Viloria. He put Solis at bay with his counter punches but was almost send to the floor. Solis got it.

In the the ninth round, I was rooting for Viloria to finish it. But the fighter seems tired. There were moments that Solis is wobbled by Viloria’s one-two combination. But there was no follow up from the Viloria. Thus ends the round in favor of Viloria.

In the tenth round, the respect for each other is complete. And so am I for both of them. Viloria won the round and I am greatly impressed by the strength and heart of Solis. They are both the gladiators of the classical order.

In the eleventh round the Philippines has another World Champion. THE VILORIA IS BACK! He can now dance the Hawaiian all he wants!

- - - - - - - - - - - -

The main event is Nonito Donaire (20-1) against Raul Martinez (24-0) for the IBF World Championship.

The champion is Donaire. The first round is Donaire. My brother-in-law asked me, that guy Martinez is undefeated right? I smirked and said he’s supposed to be good. Martinez wobbled to the floor twice, a third would have ended him, but he was literally saved by the bell.

By the second round, I saw the fight as a walk in the park for the Donaire. But he made it a little longer walk, taking in the view, stopping to smell the flowers along the path, and enjoying the singing of a bird.

Third round, Donaire still likes the view and plucked a flower.

In the fourth round, he killed the bird.


Okay, I am not really liveblogging Judgement at the Waterfront. It happened a week ago. But I wrote notes during the fight, which I’d been looking forward to with much excitement. I have special interest to see two of our exceptional Filipino sluggers: Michael Domingo and Milan Milendo. I profiled them both for ALA Promotions several months back, and I am rooting for their success.

The first match was James Bacon versus William Jorge.

The first round was a skirmish with equal intensity from both fighters. Bacon was cut in the left brow but the better boxer was evidently Bacon. Jorge was knocked down in the first and second rounds. The fight seemed to end early with Jorge’s wobbling and kneeling on the floor. But he recovered and the referee allowed the fight to go on till one of the fighters dropped dead. The later rounds that followed had made me dozed off so I went out to buy me some booze and cigs. When I came back it was already in the last round. I did not miss anything. The winner, of course, is James Bacon by a unanimous decision.

The second bout was the fight I’d long been waiting for. And now, finally, I saw Michael “Cinderalla Man” Domingo climbing up into the ring to fight against Monico Laurente. If you’ve been watching boxing for a longer time, you may recall Domingo
as one of the fighters on that Boxing World Cup wherein he was a late substitute and handed down the Mexican fighter Miguel Roman his first loss. He gained a fan after that fight. He has developed a mean habit of battering his opponents and sending them to the floor at an early round. He stunned boxing critics with a knocked out win against Fernando Montiel and Ratanachai Sor Vorapin. He was supposed to fight last December as an undercard for Manny Pacquiao versus Oscar De La Hoya’s The Dream Match. But for some crazy reason it did not happen, which had left me wondering for months till one of the commentators of the Judgement mentioned that Domingo was disqualified for the fight for health reasons.

Well, now, our man Domingo appeared on his red emblazoned black trunks, looking as sharp and healthy as ever. The first and second rounds are lessons of sweet science that only fighters like the Domingo can share with us inside the ring. The succeeding rounds were a demonstration of superior skills, bravery and talent. But the Domingo is up to give the crowd the worth of their money, and I so much suspect, to entertain me. Domingo won the fight.

I once asked Michael Domingo of his reaction to what Freddie Roach said about him of becoming the next Filipino world champion. He smirked and said: “Mao ba?” (He thinks so?). Then he looked down and smiled.

Third match was still the undefeated Milan “Milenyo” Melindo against Mohammed Rachman.Rachman was a bloody mess in the early rounds but he’s the stronger and very experienced fighter. Yet, of course, the fast and stylish Melindo was too much for him. There is lots room for improvement though if Milendo wants to win a world title. This time he won again by a unanimous decision.

The main event was Z Gorres versus Roberto “Mako” Leyva of Mexico for the WBO Oriental Bantamweight belt (a title vacated by Michael Domingo). Leyva’s corner threw the towel in the 8th round after their fighter absorbed too much punishment from the Z.

Interview with Milan Milendo

[Since I suck in boxing, I woke up with an epiphany one day and decided I better write for boxing, and made fun of the unsuspecting boxers instead. Subtlely, of idiot. That's why ALA Promotions whored me to profile two of its best boxers. Here's one of them. Published originally 4/19/08]

Milan “Milenyo” Milendo is ALA Gym's rising star. He reigns as the WBO Asia Pacific Minimum Weight Champion. He maintains a clean record of 15-0-0 that he shared with another star AJ “Bazooka” Banal. He lives up to his moniker as “Milenyo” [remember the super-typhoon that struck the Philippines in 2006?] as he demolished his opponents in the ring. And Milan is only 23.

The youngest of 10 siblings, Milan grew up fighting in Cagayan de Oro where his father taught him how to punch in his stroller. At 10, he collected trophies and medals from winning local boxing that made him the ideal champion to represent his province in the Batang Pinoy held in Laguna. He succeeded, of course. He added to his collection two more Gold Medals in the Palarong Pambansa. By this time, boxing critics were convinced of his talent and prowess after beating more experienced warriors. Some amateur boxing stints later, the young boxer was signed up to the ALA Gym stable – the boxing protege and the Philippine boxing baron Antonio A. Aldeguer met their paths that set Milan's destiny to his growing greatness in the boxing world.

Following are the five questions this writer asked to Milan:

What's it like having no defeat in your boxing career?

I am happy for it because it means I am on the right track. But I don't let it get into my head. I've been taught that long time ago. Records are deceptive. I trust more on training hard and preparation. When I fight as an amateur, I experienced how it was like being defeated in a fight. I recall this fight against Meljo Grumo who beat me by mere points. When I met him again in the professional level, I gave him no chance.

As a child, did you grow up wanting to be a boxer? Or do you have something in mind?

When I was 6, my father bought me a pair of gloves. So, in a way, it was natural for me growing up thinking of becoming the best boxer that I can possibly be.

How do you handle the training in the ALA Gym?

I have great mentors who keep watch in my training. I see no problem in handling my program, preparations, and pressures as long as they are with me. Their mere presence are enough to inspire me to keep working hard and complete my training quota for a day.

In the ALA Gym, all of us boxers are not only taught to learn the skills and the discipline of boxing but also how to be a good man.

Who is your favorite boxer or boxers today that have influenced you the most?

Michael Domingo, I mean, he is a good influence not only to me but to all younger boxers in the ALA Gym. He is a good man and a real fighter in the ring. He would always remind us to keep our duties to clean up at the end of the day. His personal discipline in his training is exceptional. He trains the hardest and seems focus to be a world champ.

Other good boxers that I look up with great respect are Oscar De La Hoya for his impressive combination, Jerry Penalosa for his defense, Morales and Marquez for their sportsmanship and humility when defeated.

What is your ultimate goal personally and athletically?

If God wills it, I want to become a World Champion.

Interview with the "Cinderella Man"

[Following is my interview with Michael Domingo - one of the winners of the recent Boxing World Cup in 2008. Also published originally on 4/17/08]

Talking with Michael Domingo, “The Cinderella Man” story keeps flashing back in my head. Yeah, we know the story. Down-out fighter and almost forgotten gets a break and makes the most of it. He's fighting for his family, fighting for respect, and fighting for other hopeless people like us.

Born in August 23, 1979, in a small village of Lebak, Sultan Kudarat, Michael Domingo confessed of an almost misspent teenage life, gang stuff and all that. Until a concerned neighbor observed him fight with other kids, he went to him and gave him an advice that would propel him to his career in boxing. At 14, the neighbor took him to Davao for an amateur boxing where he got his first ring experience. He was fitted with an improvised “maong” made gloves (his first time being fitted with gloves) and won the fight.

The years that followed were hodge-podge events of his life complete with gang outing, amateur boxing stints, an attempt to a military life that didn't seemed to fit him, and some labor works earning P50/day for a living.

At 20, he turned pro and signed a contract to his first manager Gingging Polancos who brought him to his first professional fight “Knockout” in Manila. Having tasted the stage of professional boxing, he noticed lapses and loopholes of his preparation and training compared to his opponents. Though not bereft of talent, he got his share of ups and downs in his early career and settled for a modest record of 22-12-2.

Not satisfied with his career, he believed he got enormous power within him yet to be unleashed. He experienced that one time in a man's life when he paused for a moment and considered his options and prospects in life. The chance came when he got the opportunity to talk to Antonio A. Aldeguer. Actually, he met the boxing baron a year ago when he spent a day in the ALA Gym. He saw what every boxers dream of – complete equipments, competent trainers, discipline and a sense of belongingness. But he had second thoughts that made him sad. He thought he is not worthy of the place because he was not good enough. His records say so. It took him a year to muster courage and talked to Edito Villamor who brought him to the presence of Antonio Aldeguer and one thing leads to another. In the next four years, he wins almost all his fights except in France where he charged it to the kind of food they eat there. He meant, he was not use to potatoes and soup before a big fight. He asked for rice but...well you got the picture.

Following are the five questions this writer asked to Michael:

Will you tell us something about your training in the ALA Gym?

“Training in ALA Gym,” he says in vernacular, “is like spending time in a boxer's dream. They have what it takes to be the best boxer that you can be - great equipments, good backing and discipline. It is up to me to do my part in the process.”

What was your lowest point as boxer and your highest point?

My lowest point is when I started thinking I am not a good boxer. It was tough years. But everything has changed now with no small thanks to ALA Gym.
My highest points are when I knocked down Montiel in the Araneta and when I won the World Cup against an unbeaten Mexican Miguel Roman. It was great. But the best part is when Sir ALA came to me before the fight, saying I have to win. “Dauga ha. This is your chance or else..”

Let's talk about your style and attitude. Best boxers copy some style from great boxers. Who are your influences in terms of style and character in and outside the ring?

When I was an amateur, I watched with great delight everytime Mike Tyson fights. I dreamed to be like him and fight like how he fights. Later, I realized he's far different from me. Tyson fights in heavyweight and I am in smaller scale and fight in different approaches. Then, I saw good fights of Z Gorres, Boom-Boom, AJ Banal, and Jerry Penalosa, and I said to myself, hey, I want to be like them too...

I am a “slugger fighter”. I like the smart and scientific approach of fighting. ALA trainers taught me that and I'm honing it everyday. Who I idolized really in the present best fighter today is Jerry Penalosa. Dili lang sya maayo sa boxing, maayo sad siya nga tawo. Humble ba. (He's not just good in boxing, he's a good man too. A humble person.)

We read in the papers and on the internet saying that they saw now a much improved Michael Domingo, adding you are a “late-bloomer” boxer with lots of promise. What can you say to that?

[Laughs] That's true. When I landed in ALA Gym it was a dream come true to me. I really wanted to be trained by best trainers and to be with the best fighters. Everyday I trained with good people with real discipline. And they make me hunger to do more in my training and perfect my style. There was a time when instead of doing the required miles for jogging everyday, I doubled and tripled it as my stamina would take me.

Late bloomer, yes, if you want to call me that. And I am just doing my best.

Fredie Roach said you could probably be the best fighter in the ALA Gym. What is your reaction?

Really? I don't know that.

[The said fight will be announced soon.]