Raskin’s Rants: Names That Start With “X,” Pay Channels That End In “X,” And More

I’m not going to go all Troy McClure on you and tell you what you might know me from. Instead I’ll go all Ron Burgundy and just assume you know me because, well, I’m kind of a big deal. And now that I’m done kissing my own ass, it’s time to kiss someone else’s.

The Queensberry Rules is my favorite boxing blog. Granted, I can’t actually name any other boxing blogs. But that’s besides the point. Look, if I told Rue McClanahan she was the most do-able of all the Golden Girls, she’d be happy for the compliment. You know, if she were still alive. Okay, bad example. And it’s an especially bad example because I can name the other three Golden Girls, whereas we’ve established that I can’t name any other boxing blogs. So that analogy didn’t work at all. Unless, that is, I succeeded in getting you to picture Rue McClanahan naked.

Anyway, I’m a fan of The Queensberry Rules, I read it regularly, and as my web column is momentarily homeless, I’d like to thank that bearded and bespectacled bastion of boxing blogitude, Tim Starks, for putting a temporary roof over its head.

Columns and features can be painful to write, but bullet-pointed random-thoughts blogs are easy. So please, enjoy this very special Queensberry Rules edition of “Raskin’s Rants.” Hopefully you’ll find it more pleasurable than a threesome with Bea Arthur and Betty White:

• The news that the pay-cable channel Epix is considering getting into the boxing business is equal parts encouraging and frustrating. It’s encouraging because competition is good for the sport, as long as it’s not the kind of competition that prevents fights from happening. Between Showtime re-entering the pay-per-view business and this Epix development, it serves to shake up the sport and force the television packagers to bring renewed drive and focus to their jobs. That’s all good news. But boxing fans being forced to dig deeper into their pockets to see all the major fights? That’s frustrating. The fact is, it’s damned expensive to be a boxing fan. And, yes, I’m a hypocrite because Bill Dettloff and I are now asking fans to pay for our Ring Theory podcast. But can you blame us? Without your Ring Theory purchase, we can’t afford Epix.

• At 2-0, Ray Ximenez Jr. is well on his way to becoming the best boxer in history with a last name starting with “X.” He has a little ways to go—Alfredo Xeque did hand Melchor Cob Castro his first defeat, after all. Regardless, how cool of a name is Ximenez? How much more popular would I have been in high school if my last name was Xaskin? Not to mention, the success rate for Ray Juniors is extraordinarily high. Ray Parker Jr., Rey Mysterio Jr. … Need I go on?

• The common theme of this past Friday’s televised fights—with the exception of Ximenez vs. Alfredo Berto—was matchups that turned out much more competitive than they appeared on paper. We had Charley Hatley vs. Chris Chatman, a fight in which undefeated prospect Hatley was the clear “A-side” and escaped with a draw in a fight that saw both men hit the canvas. We had heavy underdog Brian Vera not just proving to be a handful for Sergio Mora but actually defeating “The Latin Snake” on a narrow decision. We had Lateef Kayode barely squeaking by Nick Iannuzzi—who was once stopped in the 1st round by sub-.500 Harvey Jolly. And we had a very entertaining ShoBox main event between Luis Franco and Leonilo Miranda, a fight that was expected to be reasonably competitive, but not quite to this extent. If all of those fights could deliver, who knows, maybe “Real Steel,” Hugh Jackman’s new robot boxing movie, won’t be a complete atrocity.

• Not to play armchair trainer, but I wouldn’t mind seeing someone teach Hatley how to turn over his left hook. If he slaps with that punch a little less, Chatman doesn’t see round 2.

• The Vera-Mora fight was undoubtedly close, but here’s why I feel the decision went to the right guy: When I gave a round to Mora, my internal monologue usually included some justifications and rationalizations. Until the last round or two of the fight, there was never an effortless “He won that round.” It was always “I think he won that round because …” With Vera, there was no need for a “because.” The rounds he won, he won.

• Note to Iannuzzi: If you wear American flag trunks, and they come down to only the mid-thigh, you look cool like Rocky or Apollo. If they come down to your knees, you look like Butterbean. It may sound ridiculous, but when you resemble a reject from a Tough Man competition, some judges will need a few rounds to start taking you seriously.

• I had a conversation with Starks last week about the blogging business, and he informed me that there are web sites where writers go out of their way to force a certain popular Filipino fighter’s name into every single article to drive search-engine traffic their way. How pathetic. I would never do something like that.

• Manny Pacquiao is good at boxing.

• So after all that back and forth, HBO approves Paul McCloskey for Amir Khan? This challenger has about as much chance as another McCloskey did when Michael Corleone came out of the bathroom packing heat. Still, I’ll say this for the Irish southpaw with the unfortunate nickname of “Dudey”: His knockout of Giuseppe Lauri last June was all sorts of spectacular.

• If we get the undercard Top Rank is talking about putting together for Pacquiao-Shane Mosley, it’s going to be a tough show for hardcore fans to pass up even if they hate the main event matchup. Between Humberto Soto-Urbano Antillon II, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.-Jorge Arce, and the return of Kelly Pavlik, it’s a perfect balance of world-class fighters, entertaining styles, developing attractions, and noteworthy names.

• Can anyone explain to me what this Friday’s ShoBox card, promoted by California-based Goossen-Tutor and headlined by California prospect Rico Ramos vs. Mexico’s Alejandro Valdez, is doing in Atlantic City? What, the Silverdome wasn’t available?

• Most of me hopes Oscar De La Hoya ignores the goading from Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and stays retired. But a small part of me is intrigued by the prospect of the fight. And it’s a magnificent thing for boxing if there’s enough money in it to end the destructive Golden Boy-Top Rank standoff.

• As noted above, this week marks the launch of the new no-holds-barred era of Ring Theory, and we’re doing it in style with a guest appearance from the great Steve Farhood. In an episode recorded Tuesday night and available to listeners now, Steve, Bill Dettloff, and I break down the implications of Pacquiao-Mosley fight going to Showtime/CBS, the controversial elements of the Timothy Bradley-Devon Alexander ending, and how it might shift the global balance of power if Nonito Donaire takes care of business against Fernando Montiel. And during the uncensored 85-minute boxing gabfest, Bill uses a word that rhymes with “wussy” a couple of times. You can hear the whole show by subscribing, or you can head over to the site and listen to a brief free preview … then bust out your credit card and subscribe, if you know what’s good for you.

Eric Raskin can be reached at RaskinBoxing@yahoo.com. You can read his articles each month in THE RING magazine, follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin, and listen to his silky smooth voice every other week on Ring Theory.