Bantamweight Joseph Agbeko’s getup for his ring walk Saturday night was a gorilla mask and a woman leading him in with chains. Apparently this caused somebody at Showtime some consternation — I didn’t hear anybody say anything, although judging from some Internet talk there was some kind of disclaimer — because, well, Agbeko is black, monkey imagery can be a little inflammatory racially and a white woman was leading him out in chains. Come now. Agbeko’s birth name actually is Joseph King Kong Agbeko, and it was Halloween. I’m guessing he wasn’t put up to this by some white interloper; he’s a flamboyant enough personality on his own. I say it’s one of the better ring walks I’ve seen all year, perhaps behind only that of another African boxer who came out dressed up as an animal, Sharif Bogere.
More Weekend Afterthoughts await you at the click of your mouse, including more comedy pictures and some comedy videos, a few other fight results, Ring magazine’s recent work on its owner Golden Boy Promotions and all the subjects in the headline.
Antonio DeMarco. For his last couple fights, tall, powerful lightweight DeMarco has been struggling with the balance between brawling and boxing. His instinct is to brawl. He knows he needs to be more technical. In his last two bouts, he boxed too much before switching abruptly to brawling, winning each time but struggling before getting there. But Saturday, in a 10th round knockout win of Jose Alfaro, he struck the right balance, putting on a very sharp technical performance while also going for the kill when he had his man hurt. I’ve liked DeMarco for a while — he’s fun to watch, and he’s got a real love of the game. He was a little less fun to watch this time around than when he just throws down like a madman. But the question was whether he’d just be fun to watch, or if he’d be someone who could go somewhere. He’s been moving the needle more and more in the “someone who could go somewhere” direction for a while, and he moved it in a big way this weekend. I still don’t think he beats Edwin Valero if he ever gets his mandatory title shot, but he may not have to, given all of Valero’s problems and the possibility the two will never meet. Still, he’s improving all the time and he’s a mere 23. It’ll be interesting to watch what happens if he gets into the ring with another top 10 lightweight.
Mike Tyson. I’ve always wondered whether Iron Mike would make a good broadcast analyst, and I missed my chance to find out when Tyson did some commentary on the undercard of Saturday night’s DonKingTV.com-webcast undercard. Did anybody get a chance to tune in? How was he, if so? I was somewhat dismayed that in the news release I got afterward, Tyson left the door open even a little to a boxing comeback, saying that if King paid for his training, he’d consider it. Don’t do it, Mike. P.S., As good as the show was Saturday night, I’m not ready to say “Don King is back,” as some, including Don King, have. One night does not a promoter make. King still sits on too many of his fighters and doesn’t keep them as busy as they want. When he changes that, I might still have some issues with him — too many of his fighters claim they were promised money they never got, for instance — but I’ll be more inclined to say “Don King is back.”
Pacquiao/Cotto 24/7. It was another good episode of the reality series/hype show for the Nov. 14 showdown at 145 pounds between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto. I was pleased that they touched on the departure of Michael Moorer from Pacquiao’s training team — Freddie Roach got more specific than I remember, saying that Moorer threw out a couple governors from the Philippines, which ticked of Pacquiao. Moorer does lack “people skills,” but he knows he needs to work on that now, so hopefully he gets a chance again someday. On the other side of the trainer ledger, it was moving to hear Cotto’s dad talk about no longer being on speaking terms with his brother Evangelista, who trained Cotto before the two had a physical confrontation and parting of ways. One of my favorite things about the series is when they discuss strategy, even though I wouldn’t do it if I was them; in this case, Cotto’s dad and trainer chatted up Pacquiao’s flaws. They said he goes crazy when he tries to finish people off and leaves himself open (true — even in the 2nd round against Ricky Hatton, he was well in command but was still getting hit because he was going for the finish); that he drops his right hand when he fires his left (I hadn’t noticed, but if they’re basing that opinion off watching the Juan Manuel Marquez rematch like they seemed to be, they’re in for a rude awakening as Pacquiao is a totally different fighter since that bout); and that you have to go to his body because it weakens him and you should try to hit him on the shoulder (I don’t know a fighter who isn’t weakened by getting hit in the body, and I’m not sure what hitting him on the shoulder gets you, really). There also is quite a contrast in the camps. Cotto’s team was loose, unified, getting the same haircut, depantsing one another in the swimming pool. Aside from the antics, I was again, as always, admiring of the seriousness of Cotto, the kind of cool wisdom he exudes. It’s been good getting to know him a little better. Pacquiao’s camp was dangerously divided and distracted, and although Roach said Pacquiao is focused now that he’s back at the Wild Card Gym instead of in the Philippines, it’s still worrisome. Lastly, I was glad they flipped the script on the closing training sequence music and didn’t go with the usual rock or hip-hop track, not that I dislike rock or hip-hop at all, just that it gets a little rote.
Ring magazine. I don’t know if you guys have checked out the newest issue of Ring, which I just bought today, but there are a couple noteworthy pieces where the mag confronts Golden Boy Promotions, once by name and once not. It’s noteworthy because Ring is owned by GBP, and because there have been a few instances of late where it looked a little fishy to me on the website with a couple recent GBP-related items that struck me as a little questionable. The first noteworthy piece is from editor Nigel Collins’ column, where he makes a point (one I also have made) about the “clumsily executed con” that was the hidden weight for Floyd Mayweather’s most recent fight. “Most likely, all concerned parties were in on the ruse from the get-go,” Collins writes, which obviously would include GBP. The second piece is a really good read, an extremely well-reported story by William Dettloff about the suspicious circumstances of Juan Diaz-Paulie Malignaggi. It’s actually one of the best pieces of boxing journalism I’ve read this year. Most relevantly, it’s got tons of great info about behind-the-scenes politicking about the selection of judges for the fight, among other things, and it doesn’t exactly paint GBP in the most flattering light. So, for those of you who worry about “The Bible of Boxing” being too beholden to GBP (and the potential for that is always a concern of mine), this should be an encouraging development. This is the magazine doing what it’s supposed to, so I won’t go overboard with praise, but given the circumstances, “doing what it’s supposed to” vis-a-vis GBP is all I want from Ring.
Heavyweight potpourri. As long as the Klitschko brothers fight, all roads will lead to them. Ray Austin knocked out Davarryl Williamson Saturday to get a fight with Oleg Maskaev that could at some point lead the winner to a bout with Vitali Klitschko. Anyone who gives a damn about the sanctioning organizations ought to be disturbed about Klitschko having to waste time with either Maskaev or Austin. Meanwhile, it looks like Alexander Povetkin, who’s been waiting two years for his mandatory shot against Wladimir Klitschko, is going to fight for an interim version of one of Klitschko’s belts against Sam Peter. It’s the right move for Povetkin, because it’s a very winnable fight — unless the Peter rebuilding project is further along than I realize — and he’ll make more money in the purse split when he eventually faces Klitschko. Plus, Povetkin-Peter’s not a bad fight at all, while we wait.
Comedy jokes. Thanks for that introduction, Steve Martin. I leave you with a comedic picture of a big ol Fernando Vargas, who looks like he’ll need to lose 100 pounds or so to get down to light heavyweight for a bout with Hector Camacho Jr.; a disturbing slash hilarious clip of Mayweather and his attentive adviser Leonard Ellerbe; and some fun with Pacquiao’s accent and naughty words. Enjoy.