Monday, December 05, 2022  |



10 indelible images from 2009


Manny Pacquiao made history with a single left hook to the chin of Ricky Hatton. Photo / Chris

Boxing is one sport I never experienced on the radio. I listened to countless baseball games on the radio as a kid. I’ve taken in plenty of football games on the radio when stuck in my car, unable to watch on television. But boxing on the radio is a form of entertainment that belongs exclusively to older generations. And it’s something I can’t really imagine myself enjoying.

That’s because more than any other sport, boxing truly must be seen. It’s violent, it’s visceral and it’s visual. Maybe Don Dunphy was pure magic on the radio. Maybe the Joe Louis-Max Schmeling II radio broadcast is one of the defining and uniting cultural landmarks of its era. But I can’t quite wrap my head around the notion of enjoying boxing in that format. The sport is just too overflowing with indelible images to be experienced image-free.

In the spirit of seeing with your eyes and not with your ears (and in the spirit of repeating end-of-the-year column ideas that worked out nicely in 2008), here are the 10 visuals that left the strongest impressions in 2009:

1. Ricky Hatton epitomizing the acronym “KTFO” against Manny Pacquiao

This is No. 1 because it provided two incomparably sensational visuals in a span of about two seconds: Pacquiao connecting with the punch of the year and then Hatton experiencing the splat of the year. It’s the latter image that particularly sticks with you, that shot of Hatton on the canvas a few moments after the fight ended, his skin pinker than usual, his consciousness completely stripped away. Great knockouts are magnificent and horrifying all at once, and Pacquiao’s second-round destruction of Hatton combined those adjectives as well as any KO in recent years.

2. Juan Manuel Marquez showing the world he has a drinking problem

It was the most jarring moment on HBO since “Don’t Stop Believin'” came to an abrupt end on The Sopranos. You couldn’t believe what you were seeing. “Did he just do what I think he did?” asked viewers across the country. Yes, he did. Marquez, in preparation for his fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr., and with the 24/7 cameras rolling, returned from the lavatory with a full glass of fresh, warm urine and proceeded to drink it down. It’s a truly indelible image – in the “I wish I didn’t see that, but I did, and now I can’t get it out of my mind!” sense.

3. Shane Mosley hammering Antonio Margarito to the canvas in the closing moments of the eighth round

Many of the images that burn themselves into our brains are the ones we never thought we’d see. You could say Margarito getting knocked out in the ninth round was such an image, but by the time it happened, we weren’t completely shocked because of what happened at the end of the eighth round. That’s why the enduring image from this fight is the one that appeared in the penultimate round, when Sugar Shane battered Margarito all over the ring and, with a second or two left on the clock, floored the man with supposedly the best chin in boxing. It was at that moment that it became clear Mosley wasn’t just going to pull off the upset; he was going to score the knockout.

4. Marquez undercutting Juan Diaz with the uppercut

Good for Marquez for doing something memorable in ’09 besides just drinking his own pee. It wasn’t quite Pacquiao-Hatton, but as emphatic knockouts to end major fights go, the ninth-round uppercut that yanked Diaz’s legs out from under him was probably the year’s second best. The uppercut had been the fight-turning punch for Marquez the previous few rounds, and it was appropriate that when he finally found the sweet spot, it was one of those start-low-finish-high scorchers that did it.

5. Another Round 12 nightmare for Jermain Taylor

Taylor’s loss to Carl Froch was more dramatic and more exciting, but it was his defeat to Arthur Abraham six months later that left the more-powerful image in part because by then the image of Taylor laid out carried an emotional impact, triggering fans’ basic human compassion. And it was also more conclusive, a true one-punch flattening. Sometimes the guy who scores the knockout is the story (see Marquez-Diaz above). Sometimes it’s the guy who gets knocked out. This one was about Taylor, and the image of him flat on his back in Berlin isn’t easy to shake.

6. Roy Jones’ career arc leading to a career “Arrr!”

As embarrassing as Jones’ 122-second defeat to Danny Green was, it was nothing compared to the former pound-for-pound king, the fighter who once believed he was Superman, the guy who never had the time for press and promotion in his prime, lowering himself to wearing a Captain Hook outfit – complete with 1986 Cher wig – to sell a minor pay-per-view against Jeff Lacy. No truth to the rumor that the whole sad scene came about because a low-talker convinced Jones to wear the outfit and Roy couldn’t hear her and didn’t know what he was agreeing to.

7. Down goes Maidana! Down goes Ortiz!

It was really the “down goes Ortiz” that counts as the indelible image. In the first round of their June bout in L.A., Victor Ortiz scored a sudden knockdown of Marcos Maidana, and when action resumed, the very first punch Maidana landed floored uber-prospect Ortiz even harder. Ortiz got right up, but his body did the whole palm-tree-swaying-in-the-breeze thing as ref Raul Caiz finished the eight-count. And that set the stage for 45 seconds of pure intensity, as we wondered whether Ortiz could survive until the bell. For some, Ortiz quitting in Round 6 or saying in his postfight interview that he doesn’t “deserve to be getting beat up like this” is the more lasting moment; for me, it’s the thrilling action in the opening round.

8. Alfredo Angulo-Harry Joe Yorgey becomes the standard bearer for high-definition super slo-mo replays

As technology improves, so too does our insight into the momentary impact of a punch to the head, and with an HD camera positioned about two feet from Yorgey’s dome as he absorbed a crushing right hand from Angulo, we got about 1,080 reasons to avoid ever getting punched by a professional. We haven’t seen flesh jiggle like that since ÔǪ well, never mind, the Vitali Klitschko-Cris Arreola fight was only a few weeks earlier. Still, this was one exhilarating/revolting super-slo-mo replay.

9. One last fight for Oscar De La Hoya: fighting back tears

Last year’s No. 1 indelible image was De La Hoya helplessly taking punishment from Pacquiao in the seventh round of their fight. This year, the consequence of that one-sided fight, Oscar retiring from boxing, also makes the list. De La Hoya has always been a tough guy to read; his comments were typically so conservative and carefully calculated, it was hard to know when he was being genuine. But when he said farewell in April to the sport that made him famous, he got choked up and it definitely felt real. Good for him for getting out at just the right time – not only for himself, but also for boxing, as he waited just long enough to pass the torch to the fight game’s next great ticket seller, Pacquiao.

10. Marco Antonio Barrera shows a little age and a lot of blood

You could almost see the second thoughts spurting out of Barrera’s head right along with the crimson geyser when a head clash left him with a hideous cut near his hairline against Amir Khan in Manchester, England. Barrera had turned 35 a couple of months earlier. He’d been retired as of a few months before that. He thought a fight with the much younger, much bigger Khan was his ticket to one last championship run, but the bout turned into a bloody disaster in the very first round. Barrera never stopped trying, and in that sense, if he never fights again, this isn’t the worst image to leave us with. But it was still a sad – and gory – sight to see the once-magnificent Barrera turned into just another stepping stone for a young fighter.


ÔÇó Every ring doctor who’s ever stopped a fight immediately after a bad cut occurs should be forced to watch a tape of the Nehomar Cermeno-Alejandro Valdez fight. Unless the blood is spurting a foot in the air or the guy’s eyeball is hanging out, if he wants to continue and is remotely competitive in the fight, you give his corner at least one rest period to work on the cut. The opening-round gash on Valdez’ eyelid looked disastrous at first, but once his cutman was given 60 seconds to control it, it never became an issue again.

ÔÇó I found it interesting that commentator Raul Marquez kept calling Jesus Chavez’s desperate, dirty, full-body sling that pitched Humberto Soto headfirst through the ropes “a veteran move.” Rumor has it that Marquez called Kermit Washington’s haymaker to Rudy Tomjanovich’s jaw “a clever tactical decision” and he termed Roger Clemens chucking a splintered bat at Mike Piazza “calculated brilliance borne of wisdom and experience.”

ÔÇó Separated at birth: Referee Mark Nelson and actor Paul Giamatti. Also separated at birth: Nelson’s trigger finger and Wild Bill Hickok’s.

Eric Raskin can be reached at [email protected]