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The Running Diary: Marquez-Diaz card

02
Aug

Someone should've told Sakio Bika: When the other guy’s head is three feet lower than normal, it probably means part of his body is on the canvas and you shouldn’t throw another punch. Photo / Chris Cozzone-FightWireImages.com

For the last couple of months, the boxing community has debated whether the rematch between Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz was worthy of being on pay-per-view. But as long as it was slated for pay-per-view, of this there is no debate: The festivities were worthy of the return of the “running diary” column here on RingTV.com.

Once again, our setting was the abode of RING Editor-in-Chief Nigel Collins in the Philadelphia suburbs, and the cast of characters included the magazine’s two contributing editors, yours truly and Don Stewart; THE RING’s Senior Writer and my Ring Theory podcast co-host, Bill Dettloff; and THE RING Creative Director David Romanosky.

The fridge was stocked and the snack table was loaded. All that was missing was the two-fight free preview for which most of us arrived early. Apparently some cable systems were carrying it and others weren’t, and Comcast Cable fell into the latter category because, hey, why show live fights when you can instead entertain your viewers with still photos of Marquez and Diaz and a countdown clock?

With a chip on our collective shoulders, we enjoyed a little Phillies-Nationals baseball (“enjoyed” because we turned it off long before Brad Lidge took the mound to blow the save), then switched over to the PPV just before 9 p.m. Eastern time, which is where our running diary picks up:

8:59: Bill, in a feisty, politically incorrect, F-bomb-dropping mood for some reason (he blames drinking coffee on the way over), starts right in with how sick he is of hearing about Robert Guerrero’s wife Casey’s battle with leukemia. He follows up on his comment by noting that he finds Casey to be kind of hot. It’s going to be an interesting night at Chez Collins.

9:03: HBO blow-by-blow man Jim Lampley recalls the night he “fell in love” with Jorge Linares. It all started that summer they were working together on Brokeback Mountain ÔǪ

9:05: We may have missed the Sakio Bika vs. Jean-Paul Mendy fight on the free preview, but we can at least look up the result. Turns out Bika got disqualified in the first round for blasting Mendy while he was down, making us all very curious to see whether the DQ was legit. If only technical difficulties could interrupt the pay-per-view later so they’d be forced to fill time by showing the Bika fight ÔǪ

9:10: We’re nearing the end of the first round of our opening bout, Jorge Linares vs. Rocky Juarez, and color man Emanuel Steward says Juarez is “fighting a very good fight” so far. We’re all curious to see how effusive in his praise Steward will become once Juarez actually throws a punch.

9:17: With the fight not exactly delivering thrills, I notice that HBO’s Ross Greenburg is sitting next to Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya in the background. Ah, to be a fly on the wall for that conversation. I wonder if there’s a semantics discussion about what qualifies as a “negotiation.”

9:20: Steward says that Linares and Juarez are both “crisp” punchers. Did he really just use the correct term, instead of referring to their punching as “crispy”? If he starts conjugating all of his verbs correctly, I’ll have no choice but to assume the end of the world is near.

9:27: Juarez gets clipped at the end of the fifth round and goes down on somewhat of a delayed reaction, which proves to be more or less the end of the fight from a competitive standpoint. Linares really starts heating up with his left jab and left uppercut after that and it becomes clear that Juarez has no physical advantages in the fight. But don’t worry, he’ll be fighting for a title anyway in about three months.

9:33: Boxing insiders’ discussion: a compare/contrast on Mexican-American public relations guys Ramiro Gonzalez and Ricardo Jimenez. Yes, it’s every bit as fascinating as it sounds.

9:35: Bill declares Lampley “the whitest guy in America,” which is misinterpreted by some in the room as a comment on Lamps’ skin tone. I understand what Bill is trying to say, so I clarify Bill’s point: When Lampley talks, he sounds somewhat like Eddie Murphy’s impression of a white guy. Ah, what I wouldn’t give to hear Lampley say, “What a silly negro” at some point on the broadcast.

9:39: With the action slowing, we hear our first boos of the night. It’s not like this has been a bad fight – it just hasn’t quite been a good fight. So far, the undercard is not living up to the hype.

9:47: The fight is over (Linares by unanimous decision) and Nigel and Bill debate whether they enjoyed watching Linares. Nigel, in explaining that he wasn’t impressed, says he would have liked to have seen Linares try to knock Juarez out. Don’t worry, Nigel, Robert Guerrero will be in the ring soon to show you what a fighter who refuses to go for the KO really looks like.

9:51: The broadcast signal goes out, and the screen is filled with “We are experiencing Technical Difficulties. Please stand by.” Sweet, my prayers to be able to see the Bika DQ have been answered! In all seriousness, this sucks on two levels: First, I’m panicking that it’s a local outage and I’m going to get screwed out of the running diary column without having a back-up plan; and second, I’m a father of two young kids who usually wake me up before the sun rises, and I’m sick of boxing pay-per-views keeping me from going to bed at a reasonable hour.

9:53: Don offers to provide his own commentary, guessing what’s happening on the broadcast that we’re unable to watch. Hey, if I have to complete my running diary that way, I’ll do it.

9:56: The Frankie Gomez six-rounder from the free preview portion of the card comes on, and commentator Colonel Bob Sheridan makes it clear that this is not a problem with my cable system, but rather a technical issue in Vegas. Phew. I’m being kept awake much longer than I’d like, but at least I don’t have to come up with a new column idea.

10:05: Applause fills the room as we learn that we’re going to get to see the Bika DQ.

10:07: Now that we’ve seen it, we all agree: Mendy wasn’t faking and the disqualification call was perfectly legitimate. I feel somewhat bad for Bika, but boxers have to learn: When the other guy’s head is three feet lower than normal, it probably means part of his body is on the canvas and you shouldn’t throw another punch. Meanwhile, is it possible to do less to capitalize on winning The Contender than Bika has? Unfortunately, yes, it is possible. Just ask Grady Brewer.

10:09: Lampley’s back on the air, explaining that they lost power. Bill: “Jim’s going to start crying over the lost power.” Nobody is safe from the angry-comic wrath of Dettloff tonight.

10:11: Steward misspeaks and says Joel Casamayor, who’s entering the ring to fight Guerrero, had a 300- or 400-year amateur career. We assume he meant “fight,” not “year.” But we’re happy for the opportunity to make jokes about how good Casamayor was in the bare-knuckle era.

10:16: An in-depth discussion develops regarding the biggest heads, pound-for-pound, in boxing history. George Chuvalo, Mando Muniz and Jorge Arce all get nominated.

10:22: A flush left hand in the second round hurts Casamayor, and he goes down soon afterward (good knockdown call from Jay Nady). Having been a fighter for 400 years, Casamayor clearly can’t take a shot anymore. In the “Quick Picks” competition on Ring Theory, I have Guerrero winning by knockout, whereas Bill has him on points, and he’s ready to concede that I’m getting this one. Unfortunately for me, Bill has seriously underestimated Guerrero’s ability to coast.

10:27: Guerrero’s dad instructs him between rounds to counterpunch. I don’t think I’ll be nominating Ruben Guerrero for trainer of the year. How exactly is his son supposed to counterpunch a guy who isn’t throwing anything?

10:33: You don’t get this at every pay-per-view party: Nigel starts telling tales of the uncomfortable job of returning RING belts to the ex-champions in their dressing rooms a few minutes after they suffer defeats. How exactly do you say gently, “Here you go, the guy who just knocked you out is done having his picture taken with your belt”?

10:40: I spy Joe Cortez in the background texting. How quickly do you think he can thumb-type “I’m fair but I’m firm”?

10:46: It’s late in the eighth round, and Guerrero is determined to cost me a point in Quick Picks. I announce to the room that he’s two rounds away from becoming my least favorite fighter.

10:53: Guerrero suddenly hits the deck from a Casamayor jab, the first knockdown “The Ghost” has ever suffered. You know, a knockout win for Casamayor would get me a push in Quick Picks.

10:54: Lamps sums up Guerrero’s performance perfectly: “Profound example of how to win a fight and gain no particular career purchase in the process.”

10:59: The Danny Jacobs-Dmitry Pirog fight is coming up next, and HBO PPV puts still photos of each on the screen. Jacobs has his hair in a very effeminate-looking braid, which I dub “the Rudy Huxtable.” Meanwhile, Bill notes that Pirog “looks like my ninth-grade high school yearbook picture.”

11:16: After a solid first round, Pirog hurts Jacobs in the second, and we all smell the upset in the air.

11:19: It took more than two hours, but we get our first “I gotta tell you something” from Harold Lederman.

11:28: In round five, a sudden, perfectly placed right hand floors Jacobs. He goes down flat on his back, and ref Robert Byrd proceeds to commit one of my biggest refereeing pet peeves: He waves the fight off in the middle of the count. Seriously, is it going to make a difference in saving a fighter’s life to get the doctor in the ring four seconds earlier? A fighter is supposed to have until the count of 10 to get up. In this case, Jacobs didn’t move until the count of five, but just as Byrd started waving his arms, Jacobs started to get up and complained vehemently. And Byrd immediately pinned him down, so we didn’t know whether he could have gotten up. Look, it’s a legit, spectacular knockout for Pirog; I don’t want to try to create a controversy. But give me one good reason not to count to 10 and see what happens.

11:33: In his postfight interview, Jacobs says he’ll come back and “reclaim my throne.” What throne would that be exactly? The only throne Jacobs has ever claimed is the same one I claim every morning after I finish my first cup of coffee.

11:36: Lampley goes into hyperbole mode, using the phrase “earth changing” to describe the Pirog-Jacobs upset. Don wonders aloud if we can expect this to be the cover story of the next issue of Time magazine.

11:46: My first-grade teacher taught me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” So I will not be commenting on the national anthem performance by Angelica DiCastro.

11:48: It’s main event time, and Diaz is making his way to the ring with a defeated look on his face. Hate to say it, but he looks like a guy walking the aisle to collect a paycheck.

11:53: THE RING’s own Joe Santoliquito, who’ll be presenting the lightweight championship belt to the winner after the fight, has a prime spot in the ring during the introductions, directly behind Michael Buffer and right next to Oscar De La Hoya. For future reference, Joe, if you want to look handsome, you share the screen with Chris Arreola and Nicolay Valuev. Buffer and Oscar are a considerably tougher duo to outshine.

11:57: The opening bell rings. You may recall that I whined quite a bit in my Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Shane Mosley running diary when the main event started at 11:36. I’m not a happy camper.

11:59: We’re two minutes in; so much for Diaz’s insistence that he’ll be boxing, not slugging. This is the kind of action I was hoping for.

12:01: Nigel notices Diaz is wearing a knee brace and quickly reminds us of his “don’t bet on the guy with the knee brace” rule. (There is one exception: Michael Spinks. Otherwise, it’s a solid rule.)

12:07: The action has been outstanding through three rounds. After the first two bouts proved disappointing, this PPV card has picked up and the crowd is pumped.

12:10: To all of those who thought Marquez had lost a step, or that he wouldn’t be able to move up in weight and move back down, you were wrong. A searing uppercut wobbles Diaz in the fourth, and the outcome is more or less decided. It’s just a matter of whether Diaz can last the distance.

12:12: I notice Leonard Ellerbe at ringside. I call him on his cell phone and watch him pick up, but he denies that he’s at the fight.

12:20: Late in round six, another left uppercut hurts Diaz. I can’t think of an active fighter who throws the uppercut better than Marquez. Devon Alexander has the potential to pass him, but for now, I’m giving JMM the title of “best uppercut.”

12:29: Even though Marquez is comfortably ahead in the fight, his face looks more beat up than Diaz’s through eight rounds.

12:32: That last comment is no longer true, now that Diaz has a nasty gash on the right side of his lower lip.

12:35: Nigel suggests in the 10th round that Diaz’s corner may as well throw in the towel. “He’s fought bravely, but what’s the point?” Nigel asks. I agree. It’s about a 1,000-to-1 shot that Diaz finds a way to win.

12:51: The fight is over, and Lampley is conducting the interviews since neither Larry nor Max are around. And you know what? Lamps is damned good at this part of the job. We all particularly like how bluntly he asks Diaz if this is the end of the line.

12:54: In his closing statement, Steward lists the fighters Diaz has lost to and includes among them “Paulie Malin.” Hey, it’s been a long night, and Manny knows he’s going to butcher the last two syllables of the name. If he wants to skip the “aggi” and get me home and in bed a half-second earlier, I’m all for it.

RASKIN’S RANTS

ÔÇó Possibly the boxing commentary line of the year, courtesy of ESPN’s Joe Tessitore as Don George soaked everyone in the first three rows with blood: “This is one of those weeks where the dry cleaner wonders what we do for a living.”

ÔÇó My quick two cents on the ending of the Francisco Sierra-George fight: It’s not often I disagree with Brian Kenny, but no way would a disqualification have been the right call there. Sierra’s late punch looked like a purely accidental foul to me. The error, as far as I’m concerned, was referee Gary Ritter’s decision to deduct points.

ÔÇó Who would have guessed Jorge Arce would still be posting impressive, semi-meaningful wins at this stage of his career?

ÔÇó Separated at birth: Tampa Bay Rays no-hitter hurler Matt Garza and Sergio Mora (who has also had the phrase “no hitter” attached to his name from time to time).

ÔÇó First HBO pink-slips Lennox Lewis, and now Ellen DeGeneres is off of American Idol. It’s been a good year for justice in the broadcasting industry.

ÔÇó Wladimir Klitschko-Alexander Povetkin is off, Klitschko-Sam Peter is on. Yuriorkis Gamboa-Elio Rojas is off, Gamboa-Orlando Salido is on. Hang in there, boxing fans. We’re due for something good to happen sometime soon.

ÔÇó A new episode of Ring Theory is coming later this week. Here’s hoping Dettloff doesn’t drink a cup of coffee before we go on the air.

Eric Raskin can be reached at [email protected] You can read his articles each month in THE RING magazine and follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin.

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