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The running diary: Mosley-Mora (or is it Mora-Mosley?) on pay-per-view

19
Sep

Sergio Mora (right) deserved more credit for his performance against Shane Mosley than he received from the HBO commentators on Saturday. Photo / Craig Bennett-FightWireImages

The Godfather is the greatest film ever made. The Godfather Part II is the greatest sequel ever made. The Godfather Part III only gets the word “greatest” attached to it if the next word is “disappointment.”

Here’s hoping that I don’t pull the equivalent of casting Sofia Coppola in a leading role as I attempt Running Diary No. 3, particularly after an overwhelmingly positive reader response to the first and second RingTV.com pay-per-view diaries. Rather, I’m aiming for something more akin to the endlessly fun and re-watchable Rocky III with this third effort in the series. (Which would simply mean I’d better quit doing running diaries before I reach a fifth edition.)

In any case, the palatial Raskin estate in picturesque Bucks County, Penn., served as the site of this past Saturday night’s Shane Mosley-Sergio Mora pay-per-view party, since our usual host, THE RING Editor-in-Chief Nigel Collins, was out of town for the weekend. The crowd was small, but strong in a pound-for-pound sense, with THE RING Senior Writer Bill Dettloff, THE RING Managing Editor Joe Santoliquito and four-legged fight fan Rodney J. Raskin joining me in my living room for the festivities.



At 8:53 p.m. eastern time, with the kids in bed and the PPV ordered, I made myself a cup of coffee in hopes of combating my borderline narcolepsy. I then fired up my laptop for a running diary of a night filled with sensational knockouts, exciting action and ÔÇö in our collective opinion, anyway ÔÇö controversial commentary:

9:00: The show is starting, and nobody’s here yet except me and Rodney. If not for the fact that Bill and Joe have never been accused of doing anything fashionably, I’d say they’re being fashionably late.

9:05: Daniel Ponce de Leon, who’ll be taking on Antonio Escalante momentarily, has cut off his braided ponytail and replaced it with an uneven mullet. Why do so many Mexican boxers have mullets all of a sudden? How do we tell them diplomatically that it isn’t 1989 anymore?

9:11: If you picked the second round for when blow-by-blow man Jim Lampley would start telling Ponce de Leon’s heartbreaking story of how his four older brothers all died young, you win a free mug of the “corn/beer solution” that the people of Ponce de Leon’s village used to get drunk on. Meanwhile, nothing against Escalante, one of my favorite fighters to watch, but it’s probably safe to say you’re not a future pound-for-pounder if you’re getting soundly outboxed by Daniel Ponce de Leon.

9:17: Bill arrives, which leads to the expected barking fit from Rodney, and about 10 seconds after Bill takes his seat, Ponce de Leon ices Escalante with a beautiful right hook with 20 seconds to go in the third round. That’s two points for me in our Ring Theory “Quick Picks” competition ÔÇö a competition that, according to extensive market research, exactly two people in the world care about.

9:25: Hey, Vivian Harris is coming to the ring to the strains of Eminem’s “Not Afraid.” As in “Not Afraid to be the 377th Boxer in the Last Six Weeks to Enter to this Song.” Step aside, “Mama Said Knock You Out,” you are no longer the most clich├®d rap song for fighters to use for their ring walks.

9:38: Victor Ortiz just knocked Harris down for the third time in the second round, setting up a potentially epic stall job from Lampley and Larry Merchant since the main event isn’t allowed to start until at least 11 p.m. Eastern Time. However, it’s worth noting that Harris hasn’t looked badly hurt yet and is still punching back, so maybe he can keep this going a little while longer and spare the HBO broadcasters the extra work.

9:39: “Good for the ref for not stopping it,” Bill says as the round comes to an end. I agree. Harris is down five points through two rounds, but he doesn’t look like he’s out of the fight.

9:41: OK, now Harris is out of the fight. A short right hook from Ortiz ÔÇö who looked as sharp and as dangerous as ever ÔÇö finishes Harris at 45 seconds of the third round. Let the Lampley/Merchant stalling commence.

9:47: In one of the most uncomfortable post-fight interviews ever, Ortiz tries unsuccessfully to be funny and mentions something about how poodles are the only dogs that get scared. Rodney takes offense ÔÇö not to the canine-related remarks, but to the awkward unfunniness of it all ÔÇö and starts barking. Good timing, as Joe finally shows up and Rodney was going to start barking anyway.

10:10: I should be jotting down notes on the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez-Carlos Baldomir fight, but Joe is telling a “Joe story,” which by definition means it’s loud and long and contains extraneous details but also has just enough intriguing morsels to prevent you from paying full attention to anything else. As best I can tell, Alvarez is in control but Baldomir is showing his usual determination and steel chin.

10:15: The fight is starting to steal the spotlight from Joe’s story, as Baldomir has landed a couple of good right hands and just buckled Alvarez’s knees slightly. I’m feeling good about my prediction of Baldomir lasting the distance, whereas Bill has Alvarez winning by knockout and isn’t feeling quite so good about it.

10:23: At the exact moment that Joe leaves the room to grab a beer and some potato chips, Alvarez knocks Baldomir out with a sensational left hook. So much for my Quick Picks momentum. Hell of a win for Alvarez, since legend has it a piano was once dropped out of a fourth-floor window onto Baldomir’s head and the Argentine merely flicked at his hair as if a bird had just gone to the bathroom on him.

10:28: The interview with Canelo ends, meaning we’re looking at 32 minutes of stalling from Lamps and Larry. This is where they’re going to miss having that third man at the broadcast table. But it could be worse. We could be listening to 32 minutes of Col. Bob Sheridan stalling all by himself.

10:33: Productive stalling: Frankie Gomez highlights from the off-TV undercard. Less productive stalling: highlights from the three fights we just watched.

10:44: You have to give Lampley credit for honesty, as he tells the audience, “We are killing time here, we hope in an entertaining fashion.” Then he has a conversation with the producer in his ear, which provokes a solid chuckle from me, Joe and Bill. Hey, that was entertaining.

10:51: The discussion turns to the attractiveness ÔÇö or, more accurately, the lack thereof ÔÇö of the woman singing the Mexican national anthem. Bill, however, throws her a bone in the form of, “Well, if she was the last one at the bar ÔǪ” before his voice trails off.

10:53: Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” will be one Durrell “Tank” Babbs, apparently a successful R&B artist with three Top-20 albums to his credit. I’ve never heard of him, though, and I’m convinced he’s a fictional character who will play the antagonist in Rocky VII. You’re telling me the same genius who came up with Mason “The Line” Dixon didn’t invent Durrell “Tank” Babbs?

10:54: Durrell does to the final word of the song, “braaaaaaaave,” as Ponce De Leon did to Escalante. Bill’s critique: “He sings like Elaine dances.”

10:55: As Mora makes his way into the ring, Joe says he looks like a young Roy Scheider, whereas Bill says he looks like Max Kellerman. I’ve gotta lean toward Bill on this one.

10:58: Thanks to a link provided in a tweet from boxing writer Tim Starks, we end up watching a YouTube clip of a chimp raping a frog as Mosley enters the ring. If the main event provides half as much action, it’ll be a fine fight indeed.

11:03: The opening bell rings! I wasn’t particularly excited for this fight at any point in the last two months, but after an entertaining (if one-sided) undercard and with the main event starting at an hour when it’s possible for me to remain awake without slapping myself, I’m suddenly kind of fired up.

11:09: We’re midway through the second round, and the crowd is booing while Lamps and Larry are giving Mora a tough time. On the one hand, I get where they’re all coming from; this is not entertaining in the least. On the other hand, can’t we allow Mosley and Mora a round or two to feel each other out? Plus, did you expect Mora to suddenly fight in a manner completely unlike the herky-jerky, defense-conscious boxing style he always uses? What’s he supposed to do, stand still and slug like Antonio Margarito did so that Mosley can have his way with him?

11:12: Bill makes the astute observation that Mosley, once an outstanding jabber, isn’t jabbing at all.

11:15: Naazim Richardson tells Mosley in the corner to double his jab. How about singling it first?

11:16: Lampley tells us, “If we find something interesting to talk about related to the prize fight which is taking place in front of you, we will certainly report it.” While it’s true that this fight hasn’t been much to look at so far, I think the one great flaw of the HBO broadcast crew over the years has been their refusal to strive to make dull fights as interesting as they can. Their first instinct, instead, is to just harp on how uninteresting the fight is. I’m a big Lampley fan and a big Merchant fan, but I don’t like the way they’re calling this bout one bit.

11:21: Lampley, midway through the fifth round: “This is pathetic. This is a pathetic performance in a big-opportunity fight for Sergio Mora.” This after HBO PPV unofficial judge Harold Lederman ÔÇö correctly, in my estimation ÔÇö scored the previous round for Mora. I noted earlier that HBO misses having a third member in the crew when they need to stall for time, but this is actually where they miss that third voice most, because someone such as Emanuel Steward might just provide a certain measure of checks and balances in case Lampley and Merchant are only capturing half the story.

11:30: The seventh round ends and appears to be a Mora round, which Lederman acknowledges. So he has Mosley ahead 68-65, while Joe tells us he has it a touch closer at 67-66 and Bill has one even round for a score of 68-66. All three scores seem reasonable to me. Mosley is ahead, but he’s starting to look tired. And for all the abuse Mora is taking from the commentators, “The Latin Snake” is very much in the fight.

11:33: Mora seems to all three of us to be winning Round 8 clearly, making Mosley miss repeatedly and landing effectively with his own shots. Then Lampley evokes incredulous laughter throughout the living room by announcing, “I think this has been a pretty big round for Shane so far.” Merchant follows up by saying of Mosley, “He’s fighting three minutes of every round.” Bill responds, “And missing every punch.” (Larry doesn’t respond to Bill.) Anyway, is it possible that, on some subconscious level, the commentators are trying to make up for failing to acknowledge anything positive that Mosley did in the second Oscar De La Hoya fight?

11:46: The action is picking up late in the 11th (even the commentators seem to be enjoying it), as both boxers are landing solid punches. Mosley still looks very tired to me, but he’s giving his usual professional effort against a tricky, younger guy who’s hard to look good against. To all three RING writers in the house, the fight seems up for grabs heading into the 12th. (Rodney stopped scoring a few rounds ago.)

11:50: With 45 seconds to go in the fight, Lampley yells, “Go Shane! Keep it up!” No, this is not me being sarcastic. He actually yelled that. In honor of the Yom Kippur holiday, all I can say is “Oy vey.” Whatever happened to the no-rooting-on-press-row rule?

11:51: The fight ends, and Mosley clearly won the 12th round, earning him the fight on the cards of everyone in the Raskin house by one or two points. The general prediction seems to be that the judges will have it wider than we did, in favor of Mosley. But we discuss how compelling it will be to hear Lampley and Merchant freak out if the judges did give Mora full credit.

11:53: Michael Buffer reveals that the fight has been scored a split draw. I must pause to give enormous props to my Ring Theory co-host Bill here, since on the show recorded Sept. 7, he actually predicted that this fight would end in a draw! That’s one of the greatest predictions ever. It’s more worthy of acclaim than Ron Borges predicting Evander Holyfield would win the first fight with Mike Tyson, if you ask me. If I lose the Quick Picks competition, at least I’ll feel like I lost because my opponent beat me, not because I beat myself.

11:55: Lampley: “This fight was not a draw. This decision sucks.”

11:56: Tellingly, in his post-fight interview, Mosley doesn’t object to the decision at all. He knew he was in a tough, close fight.

11:58: Merchant’s closing statement is perhaps the harshest of the night: “The only ones that stunk more than Mora were the judges.”

Four years ago, I wrote a column for Maxboxing.com entitled “A Commentator-Made Controversy,” in which I took the HBO broadcast team to task for presenting a one-sided view of the Vernon Forrest-Ike Quartey fight and making a close fight that could have gone either way (and went to Forrest, which I agreed with) appear to be an out-and-out robbery. Had I not already written that column once, I might have scrapped my plans to do a running diary and gone in that direction with this article. This was another commentator-made controversy.

I’m not saying Mosley didn’t deserve to win this fight and I’m not saying my scorecard is better than Harold Lederman’s or anyone else’s. But I feel a broadcast team needs to stop and question themselves from time to time, and if they aren’t doing that, somebody in the production truck should be. Mora wasn’t much fun to watch, and he didn’t give the performance of a lifetime, but he deserved to be treated far better than he was by the broadcasters.

With those lessons in mind, maybe I should revise my lead to this PPV running diary. The Godfather is the greatest film ever made ÔÇö in my opinion. The Godfather Part II is the greatest sequel ever made ÔÇö in my opinion. And I didn’t like The Godfather Part III at all, but I suppose it’s possible that someone out there did.

RASKIN’S RANTS

ÔÇó As an unflinching mark for all things Micky Ward, you’d better believe the release last week of the trailer for The Fighter got me pumped, but I do have a few reasons to temper my optimism. First, there are apparently no Arturo Gatti fights in the movie. I guess I can live with that, because Hollywood needs to make a villain out of the opponent, and I don’t want Gatti getting the Max Baer treatment. However, my second point is related: It appears the climactic fight will be Ward’s win over Shea Neary for the WBU title. I’m cringing at the mere thought of the film pretending this fight made Ward the “world champion.” And third, this is a minor gripe, but is it too much to ask that you outfit Mark Wahlberg with red hair and a stubble goatee?

ÔÇó So Sergio Martinez-Paul Williams II is on for Nov. 20 in Atlantic City? I’ve been on a pace of approximately one live fight per year since I started having kids, and this will enable me to satisfy that quota for 2010.

ÔÇó With talk regarding Miguel Cotto’s next opponent shifting toward Kermit Cintron, I have to say, I think that’s an extremely tough fight for Cotto. Cintron gets sold short these days, but let’s not forget, whatever the extenuating circumstances, he beat Alfredo Angulo fair and square. His fight with Paul Williams was completely inconclusive and his other two losses both came against Antonio Margarito and may or may not have featured a level playing field. He’s tall, he hits hard, and this is as challenging as fight as any for Cotto out of the opponents who might be available to fight him in December.

ÔÇó Here are the facts surrounding Jorge Arce’s win over Lorenzo Parra Saturday night: The fight was in Mexico. Arce is one of the most-popular Mexican fighters of modern times. No scores were given but the bout was announced as a draw. Then the math was re-examined and Arce was declared the winner. I’m not making any assertions. I’m just stating the facts.

ÔÇó You won’t want to miss this week’s episode of Ring Theory, for which Bill Dettloff and I will be joined by special guest Max Kellerman. Let’s hope Bill doesn’t accidentally call him “Sergio.”

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.

Running Diary I: Mayweather-Mosleyhttps://www.ringtv.com/blog/1896/the_running_diary_mayweathermosley_on_pay_per_view//

Running Diary II: Marquez-Diazhttps://www.ringtv.com/blog/2179/the_running_diary_marquezdiaz_card/

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