Monday, March 15, 2010

Into the Buzzsaw

By Tony Mangia

On Saturday night, 50 thousand sets of eyes glared at Cowboys Stadium's immense Jumbo screen expecting a good boxing match. What they got was a showcase reel of the the best fighter out there today. Manny Pacquiao totally dominated the bigger and stronger Joshua Clottey; hence turning Clottey into a human heavy bag.

Pacquiao's Energizer Bunny style had Clottey covering up and taking a consistant barrage of punches--over 1200 were thrown by the champion and he landed 256--but it's the amazing blitzkrieg of rights and lefts that's jaw dropping--and jaw-breaking. "When you're in the buzzsaw," said Pacman's trainer, Freddie Roach, "It's very difficult to do anything." That's an understatement. Clottey turtled up throughout the whole fight--rarely throwing a punch. Even Clottey's trainer, Lenny DeJesus, couldn't endorse the Ghandian's calmer, more defensive style. "He was reluctant to punch, " said the disappointed DeJesus. Pacquiao has amazing stamina and wears down opponents. He loses no speed when he goes up in weight class and the power is always there. Pacquiao didn't knock out Clottey--like his last four challengers--but he has the stuff to floor an opponent who doesn't cover up. Hear that Floyd Mayweather Jr?!

The champion's busier, quicker style could be a disaster to Mayweather's showboating shtick but, that's the fight everyone wants. Pacquiao is the face of boxing today. Undefeated Mayweather is the previous poster boy. Imagine the audience for that bout? People would burst the doors and swing from the giant TV at the 100K capacity stadium in Texas--never mind the millions watching on pay-per-view. Roach claims Mayweather is ducking his fighter. " Why doesn't he just get in the ring and fight us?," asks the trainer of the Filipino.

If everything goes according to plan the fight of the year could come by November, according to Top Rank's promoter, Bob Arum. Pacquiao's humble beginnings from living in a cardboard house in Manila and his assent to boxing royalty has turned him into the most visible man in his homeland. He plans to run for congress in a few weeks. This is no pipe dream either. A wealthy politician is the foe in the close contest but, Pacquiao's recent victories have sent his profile skyrocketing. Pacquiao could put one of his old jockstraps on the election ballot and it could win in a first round knockout!

Political aspirations are the first roadblock to the big fight. Secondly, Mayweather's got an upcoming fight against a fading--but still formidable--Shane Mosley in May and, finally; both boxer's teams have to reach an agreement regarding testing blood from the fighters. Mayweather's homeboys insist Pacquiao is juicing. Roach has said his fighter will comply with any legalities for testing within the state they fight--nothing more. Eight months, charges of ducking and doping are all that stand in the way of the biggest and most anticipated fight in years. The fight should be in the ring between the fighters--not outside between lawyers. 'Congressman' Pacquiao vs. 'Pretty Boy' Mayweather has a nice ring to it.


Still can' get pumped up for the NCAA's without a strong St. John's team. Hey we made the NIT. Yea! Now they have a chance to continue playing, win, and become the "65th best team." This gets me to the talk about expanding the field to 96 teams--what a stupid idea! Even that silly 'play-in' game is a joke. Those two teams are like...the 200th best teams in the country. The NIT gets no respect as it is and who wants anymore .500 teams clogging up the field? I know it's CBS's way of getting another 'greatest weekend of sports' (executive speak: more ad revenue) but it takes the fun out of selection Sunday and screaming matches about the 'bubble' teams. Think about it, is more air time with the exuberant Dick Vitale worth it? If there were 96 teams this year; The Big East would have 13 teams competing. Maybe they could just re-name it the Big East Tournament? The upper echelon teams would have to cool their heels an extra week and by the time it's over, they'll probably have to call it "May Madness."

Anyway, if anyone cares, my dark horses are BYU and New Mexico. Final Four picks are Big East-3 (Villanova, Syracuse and West Virginia) Kansas-1. Jayhawks defeat Bob Huggin's squeaky clean (say that once without laughing) Mountaineers in the final.

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