Justice in Tokyo!

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This weekend, former Japanese Olympian Ryota Murata, was able to avenge his first loss, and win his first championship at 160lbs, against Hassan N’Dam in Tokyo.  After Murata lost his first outing against N’dam, in a match that everyone thought Murata dominated.  Murata came with bad intentions on October 22.  N’Dam was stopped for the first time in his career, a feat even Peter Quillin and David Lemieux were unable to do in their victories over N’Dam.  Even though Murata’s straight right hand most likely stole the show, hitting N’Dam’s face like a heat seeking missle.  What won the fight for Murata was the work he put into the body early on!

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N’Dam is known for his movement and long distance jab.  Murata stalked N’Dam throughout, keeping the fight toe to toe, throwing hooks and uppercuts to the body early.  With Murata staying close to N’Dam, Murata was able to neutralize N’Dam’s long jab, and with the consistent body shots, N’Dam’s movement was almost non existent by round 5.  Because N’Dam was unable to escape Murata in the later rounds, N’Dam was forced into a close range battle he couldn’t handle!

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Murata used a text book strategy to take out a fighter who likes to move on the outside.  A lot of people in boxing like to call this, “putting money in the bank.”  Its a strategy that may not show results right away, but starts paying out by the later rounds.  Murata kept up with the Halloween season, showing us the boxing version of, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”  Within a few rounds, you could see N’Dam begin to wilt.

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Murata, whom was a gold medalist in boxing, representing Japan in the 2012 Olympics.  Has been a fast rising prospect since turning pro not long after his gold medal success.  Murata had been undefeated until this past May, when he lost a very controversial decision to Hassan N’Dam.  Murata had appeared to defeat N’Dam in their first outing, only to have the judges gift N’Dam a split decision victory.  Murata didn’t have to worry about bad judging on Sunday though.  By stopping N’Dam, he not only avenged his lone loss, but also made a statement at 160lbs.  Up until this point, Murata had been facing fairly soft opposition.  By stopping a fighter with a decent resume, whom no others could do until this point, we are starting to really see what the Tokyo boxer representing the Teiken Gym is made of.  While I am by no means saying he should start calling out names like, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin or Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.  I do think that Murata is ready to start stepping up in competition, Maybe Canada’s David Lemiux, UK’s Billy Joe Saunders, or the always reliable, Ireland’s Andy Lee.  Who knows?  Maybe in a few years, we will see promos for Canelo or GGG vs Murata, throwing down the gauntlet in Las Vegas or Tokyo?  I’d watch it on paper view.

-Davis Clouse, Omaha Boxing

 

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Proposal Argument to Lower the Risk of Brain Injury in Boxing

With a blank face, Prichard Colon stares off into the distance while laying down in his bedroom at his suburban home in Orlando, Florida. Prichard is 24 years old, but cannot take care of himself, he can’t even speak or walk. Prichard’s parents have to give him round the clock care. Prichard is able to blink when asked to by his mother, but to expect much else would be a fruitless endeavor. A ghost of his former self, if one saw Prichard today, they would never know that at one point, Prichard was a rising Puerto Rican star in the boxing world. Up until the fateful night of October 17, 2015, Prichard was a young, hungry fighter, with an outstanding record of 16 wins, zero losses, with 13 of those victories coming by way of knock out. Not only was Prichard a talented pugilist, he had power too! With bilingual skills in English and Spanish and good looks to boot, Prichard was a boxing promoters dream come true! Prichard had “super star” written all over him, but on that October night back in 2015, everything changed. Prichard was fighting Terrel Williams, Williams was an undefeated fighter as well, who was looking to make a name for himself by taking out Prichard. Williams ended up being a tougher challenge than Prichard and his corner could handle. Over the course of the match, Prichard was constantly fighting on the back foot, struggling to avoid William’s accuracy with his right hand. The fight was filled with plenty of fouls as well, Prichard would get points deducted for throwing a low blow at Williams in round five, while Williams would be deducted points in round seven for punching Prichard in the back of the head. The fight would continue on until round nine. Williams was able to knock down Prichard twice in the ninth. At the end of the ninth round though, a mistake would be made. The fight was scheduled for 10 rounds, but Prichard’s corner mistakenly thought round nine was the last round. As soon as the Prichard’s corner heard what they thought was the final bell, they entered the ring, and began to cut Prichard’s gloves off. Prichard’s corner removing his gloves would lead to the referee disqualifying Prichard. It was a bizarre ending to the match, but if Prichard had come out for the tenth round, he very well may have died in the ring. After the fight, Prichard made his way back to his dressing room, where he would collapse with vomit running down his face. It was discovered that Prichard developed a severe brain bleed in his fight with Williams, forever putting him into a vegetative state. Lets go back to round seven, when Williams landed an illegal blow to the back of Prichard’s head though. Prichard would fall to his knees grabbing the back of his head. I have watched the match and counted, Prichard was roughly on the ground showing signs of pain for about 39 seconds. Then Prichard was given a few minutes to recover. In the time Prichard was recovering, a doctor examined him as the referee deducted points from Williams. All the while Prichard was still holding his head and showing signs of pain. Prichard continued to hold his head up until the referee motions for the fight to continue. There after, Prichard, with what looks to be a cloudy mind, begins taking more punishment from Williams, and would continue to take punishment for another two rounds. Prichard survived, but will live out his days bedridden, surrounded by posters and photos of his former self, when he was a rising star. Prichard’s parents are currently filing a lawsuit against the ring physicians for incompetence, and the co promoters for negligence. Prichard’s parents are hoping to receive 50 million in damages to help care for their son. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlKEHYvhd_0

Boxing has been around in one form or another for about as long as humans have recorded history. An ancient form of pugilism (fighting with your hands), was once done in Ancient Greece by competitors who wore nothing but leather wraps around their fists. Until the late 1800’s boxing was still performed without gloves, John L. Sullivan would go on to be the last bare knuckle champion, and become the first gloved one in 1882. Even as the sport of boxing began to evolve and add more rules to make it safer, it was still a brutal sport to take part in. Until the 1900’s there was no limit on the number of rounds in a match either. Eventually round limits would be added, with championship fights going the distance of 15 rounds. However, after the death of Duk Koo Kim in 1982 at the hands of Ray Mancini, the limit of championship rounds would be dropped down to 12. Currently, R. R. O. 1990 Reg. 52 GENERAL, under the Athletic Cotrol Act, there are the Unified Rules of Boxing. These are regulations that all the boxing commissions are to follow and enforce in their matches. These rules cover everything from round length, to how a winner is decided if the fight must end due to an accidental foul. There is something in the rules that bothers me though. The Unified Rules of Boxing state, “The referee is the sole arbiter of a bout, and is the only individual authorized to stop a contest.” This is one that bothers me a lot the more I think of it, but I’ll be sure to get to this rule shortly. Even with all these rules though, I still believe the boxing commissions are failing its fighters. It may seem redundant or even like an oxymoron, but I think boxing needs to be safer, and I think it can be done without sacrificing the entertainment value. The men and women that step into the ring for our entertainment deserve to be taken care of and protected by the commissions and promoters that they fight for.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mgqk3X4FoBM

Earlier, the tragic tale of Prichard Colon was discussed, while also touching on the death of Duk Koo Kim, these are far from the only victims of the violent theatre that is professional boxing though. After wars with the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, and Tommy Hearns, Wilfredo Benitez suffers from dementia pugilistica, or what Evelyn Nieves, of The New York Times calls, “The boxers disease.” Benitez is currently in his late 50’s, but has been living in a home for individuals with mental disorders since his late 30’s. Meldrick Taylor, Jerry Quarry, Sugar Ray Robinson, and even the most recognizable name, Muhammad Ali, all suffered or still currently suffer from mental ailments as well. Whether it’s punch drunkenness (dementia pugilistica), Parkinson’s disease, or some other form of brain damage. It is believed that all these fighters received their ailments from boxing. This is why I believe there can be more done to help protect these warriors.

Firstly, before I begin my proposal, I just want to give a disclaimer. The issues I am currently making this proposal argument for, would take far more than just 12 pages written by a college student to actually invoke change. Still, I wish at least shed some light on the issues at hand with the sport of boxing.

“The referee is the sole arbiter of a bout, and is the only individual authorized to stop a contest.” Remember that from earlier? That means that the referee is in complete control. It is up to the referee to determine when a fighter has had enough and stop a fight early if necessary, when to deduct points for foul hits, or even disqualify a boxer if necessary. It sounds simple enough, but I believe that this rule is too vague and leaves too much to discretion. If you showed three referees video with fight footage of one boxer committing a foul on the other, one referee might only deduct points, one may disqualify the committer of the foul, while the third may not do anything, simply letting the fight continue. For me, this is a no go. There needs to be uniform standards among all of boxing’s officials. Low blows? If three are committed, the guilty party is disqualified after being warned the first time. Punch to the back of the head? Disqualification.

Uniformity in how referees handle fouls isn’t my only concern though. A technical knockout, or TKO, occurs when the referee determines that one fighter has sustained too much damage and stops the fight for the fighter’s own safety. Again, this is another example of how leaving it to discretion can put fighters in danger. What one referee may think is too much damage sustained by a fighter. Another referee may think the losing fighter is doing just fine. Even though there are ringside doctors that give their opinion, only the referee has the power to stop the fight and doesn’t necessarily have to listen to the doctor’s opinion. I have two proposed ways to solve this.

Number one, a mercy rule. If it’s a 10 round fight, and the judges have one fighter winning by such a lead that it is impossible for his opponent to win by points it may be necessary to consider stopping the fight. Another way to add a mercy rule would be to go off of punch stats. Creating a red line to protect fighters. If one boxer absorbs a certain number or percentage of punches, even if he appears to be taking them well, maybe stopping the fight needs to be considered.

Number two, the referee shouldn’t be the only one to determine if a fight should be stopped or not. There needs to be a few people with this power, the referee, the ringside physician, the corners of each of the competitors, or the competitors themselves. If any of these people call the fight off then its over. While the wishes of the fighters, corner men, and ringside physicians are generally respected if any of them wants the fight stopped, I still think it needs to be made official and ensured.

Medically, there needs to universal medical standards across the U.S. for boxers. It should be required that fighters undergo CT scans before and after a fight. Before a fight as to prevent a fighter from worsening a condition he may not have known he had, and after as well to catch any injury they may have developed in their most recent match. Normally this is only required if a fighter is knocked out, but I think all should have to participate, even if the fighter won their match, they should go through a rigorous examination after. It’s crucial that the post fight examination happen immediately as well. Whether it is done by EMT personnel on seen at the competition, or done at a local hospital near the event. I can’t stress enough how important it is to examine these fighters immediately. The quicker possible damage can be discovered, the quicker it can be treated, improving the athletes chance to live and fight another day. I can tell you from personal experience that before matches, there is no required examination, and after, fighters are simply asked how they feel as a doctor shines a light in their eyes. This may be a costly expense, but could possibly save lives.

Lastly, there needs to be strict punishment if these rules are not followed as well. Whether it’s a suspension, or simply flat out termination. If a referee or ringside physician fails to do their job properly, someone could die. There cannot be gray areas, there needs to be solid lines of what is expected of these boxing officials.

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In 2010, Yuri Foreman was defending his 154lb title against the always dangerous, Miguel Cotto. As if Foreman didn’t have enough on his plate already, he came into the match with an injured knee. Wearing a knee brace into the ring, Foreman almost looked like a victim in court trying to gain sympathy from the jury. While Foreman did his best to stay competitive with Cotto, he moved like a drunken pirate with a peg leg, as he awkwardly tried to avoid his menacing opponent. In the seventh round of the match, without a punch even landing, Foreman’s right knee gave out and he fell to the canvas. After this, it was obvious that Foreman stood no chance. He even collapsed a second time, trying to desperately escape Cotto, who could smell blood, and was going in for the kill. In the eighth round, Foreman’s corner had seen enough and threw in the towel. Both corners entered the ring, Cotto began to celebrate, and slowly the ring began to fill with the press, fighter entourages, and right officials. Referee Arthur Mercante would have none of this though. Mercante forced everyone out of the ring, refusing to acknowledge the act of surrender from Foreman’s corner. Allowing Foreman to fight until Cotto was finally awarded a TKO in round 9. Of course Foreman wanted to continue fighting, he’s a boxer and his job is to soldier on and look to go out on his shield. But Foreman’s corner knew better and intended to protect their fighter from himself. They know their fighter’s abilities and limits better than anyone and they wanted to stop the fight for his safety. Arthur Mercante put Foreman’s health at risk by allowing him to continue to take unnecessary punishment. Mercante never received any disciplinary measures for his actions, and was even praised by the ringside commentators of HBO for his “take charge” attitude. Foreman was lucky though, the punch that stopped him was a body shot, and the worse injury he sustained that night was to his knee. Not everyone is so lucky. Just talk to Magomed Abdusalamov’s family.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyJcyPUsxis&t=24s

Magomed, or simply “Mago” as his family and friends call him, was involved in a brutal ten round heavyweight match against Mike Perez on November 2nd, 2013. According to Dan Barry, in his The New York Times piece, “A Fighter’s Hour of Need,” after Mago lost, he walked back to his dressing room with his team and complained of pain in his face. The medical officials there, stitched up his face, but after about 15 minutes, determined that Mago had no neurological damage. Mago’s coach sensed something was wrong though, and wanted to take his fighter to the hospital. Boxing inspector Matt Farrago had the responsibility of collecting a urine sample from Mago after the fight though, and insisted that Mago cannot leave until one is given. About an hour passed before Mago is finally able to leave the arena and head to a hospital. Mago collapsed as his brother and team helped walk him to a cab. Turns out, the entire time after the fight, Mago’s brain was bleeding and slowly swelling. Like Prichard Colon, Magomed too will be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OcXotFYW5Q

I can already hear the detractors though. “Danger is just apart of the sport!” Or maybe they will simply think I’m beating a dead horse by adding more rules and regulations. Look, I completely understand. Even though we as boxing fans can enjoy the more technical side of our sport, everyone loves a violent foray. One can still quench their thirst for blood and still consider the safety of the fighters though. I’m not saying that the fighters need to wear pillows on their fists, or that punches to the head should be illegal. The fighters should be free to assault their opponents with the objective of robbing them of their consciousness. It’s the policies around said assaulting that need a little tweaking though. Look at the Cotto vs Forman fight, how can one justify the referee ignoring the surrender from Foreman’s corner? Why is it that it took an hour for Magomed Abdusalamov to be released so that he could seek medical treatment at a hospital after his brutal ten round loss? I know that there will still be injuries, and there will still be deaths, but if any of these proposals can save even one life, then dammit, it’s worth it.

There is a problem on a greater scale that really makes my proposals hard to accomplish, and that’s the issue with multiple boxing commissions. They don’t call boxing the red light district of sports for nothing. There is no one authority that dictates or regulates the sport of boxing like the NBA or NFL for basketball and football. Because of this everything is boxing is negotiable, from the size of the prize money each fighter gets, to the size of the ring that the fight will be in, to even the kind of gloves that will be worn for each fight. Sure there are organizations like the WBC, IBF, WBO, and the WBA or as they are lovingly referred to by The Ring magazine, the “Alphabet Soup” organizations. Without a central authority though, all these organizations can have different rules and policies for a fight. Each state in the U.S. has its own athletic commission for boxing as well. Theoretically, this means that if you are barred from fighting in New York for medical reasons, if Iowa has lower medical standards, you could just go box in Hawkeye country. Earlier I gave a disclaimer how 10 to 12 pages wouldn’t be enough to solve the problems of boxing safety, this is the main reason why. Until all of the boxing commissions and authorities can get on the same page about the rules and regulations of boxing, we can’t even begin the discussion.

This whole paper I’ve discussed policy. Even though there are many things that boxing organizations could be doing better, there are things that we as boxing fans could be doing better as well. We need to grow as boxing fans and help change the culture that surrounds the sport. It’s seen as weak if a fighter is unable to continue a match without being knocked out or stopped. Watching a fighter dig deep and make a glorious comeback in a fight is probably the most overly romanticized scenario played out in boxing fiction (Just watch a Rocky movie). But not everyone can take punishment like Rocky Balboa. We can’t shame fighters, their teams, or anyone else for stopping a fight early. As much as we enjoy the brutality of the sport, people need to remember that the boxers are the ones taking the punishment, not the fans. We also need to remember that the men and women fighting for our viewing pleasure are human as well, they have families to go home to after their match, we cant expect them to put their life in unnecessary danger simply for the fans entertainment.

Boxing is an amazing sport that has been around for a long time. It has had some of the most colorful characters as well. Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, and Roberto Duran were all amazing fighters in their time and entertaining to watch. Currently, there are guys like Terence Crawford, Keith Thurman, Errol Spence and many, many others. Of course there was also The greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali, who wasn’t just a talented boxer, he was one of the most influential and recognizable people ever! As fans, lets do our part to ensure the safety of these warriors that we love watching so much.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJUzl0aFHZw

Work Cited

Castillo, Jorge. “Prichard Colón Has Been in a Vegetative State since 2015 Bout, but His Parents Fight On.” Washington Post, June 22, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/boxing/prichard-colon-has-been-in-a-vegetative-state-since-2015-bout-but-his-parents-fight-on/2017/06/22/5ef1fbba-4c64-11e7-9669-250d0b15f83b_story.html.

 

Fitzgerald, Paul. “Boxers Who Remained in the Sport Far Too Long.” The Roar, April 26, 2016. http://www.theroar.com.au/2016/04/26/boxers-remained-sport-far-long/.

 

Barry, Dan. “A Fighter’s Hour of Need.” The New York Times, January 8, 2016, sec.     Sports. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/sports/magomed-abdusalamov-boxing-madison-square-garden.html.

 

Oneill, Joe. “The Yuri Foreman-Miguel Cotto Fight Was A Disgrace.” Bleacher Report, n.d. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/402809-the-foreman-cotto-fight-was-a-disgrace.

 

 

Heilbronner, Robert L., Shane S. Bush, Lisa D. Ravdin, Jeffrey T. Barth, Grant L. Iverson, Ronald M. Ruff, Mark R. Lovell, William B. Barr, Ruben J. Echemendia, and Donna K. Broshek. “Neuropsychological Consequences of Boxing and Recommendations to Improve Safety: A National Academy of Neuropsychology Education Paper†.” Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology 24, no. 1 (February 2009): 11–19. doi:10.1093/arclin/acp005.

 

McKinley Jr., James C. “No One’s in Charge, and Biggest Loser Is Boxing. (Cover Story).” New York Times 149, no. 51275 (January 22, 2000): A1.

 

“‘Rocky’: THR’s 1976 Review.” The Hollywood Reporter. Accessed July 27, 2017. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/rocky-original-1976-movie-review-843549.

 

mlgordonmd. Traumatic Brain Injury – ESPN Outside the Lines, 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8DXiCr3-jE.

 

Nieves, Evelyn. “Too Many Beatings; The Boxer’s Disease Haunts Wilfred Benitez and His Family.” The New York Times, November 12, 1997, sec. Sports. https://www.nytimes.com/1997/11/12/sports/too-many-beatings-the-boxer-s-disease-haunts-wilfred-benitez-and-his-family.html.

 

 

 

Barry, Dan. “A Fighter’s Hour of Need.” The New York Times, January 8, 2016, sec. Sports. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/sports/magomed-abdusalamov-boxing-madison-square-garden.html.

 

evidancenews3. Russian Boxer in Critical Condition after Fight, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OcXotFYW5Q.

 

Mitch Birti. Ray Mancini Vs. Duk Koo Kim, 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mgqk3X4FoBM.

 

rockkill469. Miguel Cotto vs Yuri Foreman Highlights, 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyJcyPUsxis.

 

joshmar11. Muhammad Ali vs Cleveland Williams, 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJUzl0aFHZw.

 

 

 

 

 

The End of The Gold Rush

Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, and Muhammad Ali, all three were talented and successful pro boxing figures who became champions during their careers.  Success in the pro ranks isn’t the only thing that Leonard, Holyfield and Ali had in common though, each represented the U.S. in men’s boxing at the Olympics, and all three of them earned gold medals.  For the longest time, this was the traditional path to success in boxing, fight as an amateur, go to the Olympics, and go pro after.  Because of this traditional formula for success in boxing, the United States men’s boxing team once dominated Olympic boxing.  In 1984, the U.S. Olympic men’s boxing team won nine gold medals in Los Angeles. Some might say that success was somewhat attributed to the Soviet Union and Cuba boycotting the Olympic games that year, but regardless it was an impressive feat. The last time the U.S. men’s boxing team won an Olympic gold medal was 2004 though, and at the 2012 Olympic games, the men’s team earned zero.  The only other times the U.S. men’s boxing team earned no medals was during the 1980’s games that the U.S. boycotted, and the 1908 games in which no American boxers participated. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of this phenomenon, but there are a lot of clues.

Olympic boxing as a whole has received a lot of black eyes over recent years. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, there was controversy over boxing judges possibly being bribed to ensure certain fighters win. Michael Conlan was one of the victims of this corruption, as he was robbed of what looked like an easy victory. All judges at Conlan’s match were suspended, and an investigation was launched. In the annals of boxing history, possibly the most notorious act of corrupt judging happened in 1988 though. At the Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, Roy Jones Jr. was comfortably beating his opponent for three rounds, but when the scores were released, the judges had his South Korean opponent winning. It’s just an idea, but one possible immediate cause for the decline of the U.S. men’s boxing program, is that the fighters with talent simply are not showing up, and why should they?   The younger up and coming fighters don’t want to prepare for four years to fight at the Olympics, only to lose in the because of corrupt judging.

Possible corruption isn’t the only thing that may be turning away possible gold medal winners though. Boxers of the old days wanted that Olympic glory. They wanted to have that gold medal lowered around their neck, while hearing their nations anthem play. For whatever reason though, I don’t think that a gold medal in boxing at the Olympics bears the weight it once had. Olympic glory doesn’t necessarily pay the bills, and many young fighters would rather go straight to the professional ranks and make some cash. The young fighters of today see guys like Floyd Mayweather, who was the highest paid athlete of 2015. It’s estimated that Mayweather earned around 300 million for his match against Manny Pacquiao. Not including the months of training before hand, that means Mayweather earned 300 million for essentially 45 minutes of boxing.

Even though the highest paid athlete of 2015 was a boxer, outside of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, I have a hunch that your average American would struggle to name five current boxing athletes. Go back a few decades though, and the heavyweight championship of the world was once the most coveted and respected prize in all of sports. A running joke in boxing is that the future champions of the sport are on the football field or basketball court. Boxing still has a strong following, otherwise Mayweather wouldn’t be able to make 300 million for one fight. But boxing definitely isn’t as easily accessible or mainstream as it once was. This could lead young ones to pursue other sporting ventures entirely.

So far, all the causes we’ve gone over that could be attributing to the decline of the U.S.’ Olympic boxing program have pointed to reasons for lack of talented fighters. In a Bleacher Report article from August 2016 by Tome Weir, Andre Ward couldn’t disagree more. Ward won gold for the U.S. men’s Olympic boxing team in 2004 at the games in Athens, Greece. He currently is the light heavyweight champion of the world, with a record 32-0. Ward doesn’t think lack of talent is the issue, he blames the U.S. boxing program itself, specifically the way the young fighters are coached. Ward thinks that the U.S. men’s Olympic boxing team changes it’s coaching staff too frequently. It’s a valid theory that could be an immediate cause. Most fighters train with the same coach for a majority of their amateur or professional careers. In those types of coach and pupil relationships, there is rapport and trust. Possible consequences of changing the head coach every Olympic games could be that the training and coaching becomes less effective for the fighters, leading to less success.

Coaches on the U.S. men’s Olympic boxing team aren’t the only things that are constantly changing though. After Roy Jones Jr. was robbed of a gold medal in 1988, the rules for how Olympic boxing was judged changed. Rather than just having three separate judges deciding a winner based on whom they thought won, electronic scoring was brought in. The idea was that it could help limit corruption. With electronic scoring, the judges each have a button they push. When a judge thinks they’ve seen a punch land, they push their button. Whichever fighter registers more landed punches with the judges wins. However, there is a catch, punches only register when all three judges push the button at the same time. So when a judge pushes their button, there is a one second delay to give the other judges a chance to push the button as well. This means that if a fighter throws and lands a three or four punch combination in the span of a second, only one of the punches will count. This has greatly changed what fighting style is most effective for Olympic boxing, and most amateur boxers in general. Instead of fighting more aggressively, Olympic boxing has come to resemble fencing more than fighting. While eastern European countries have come to adapt and thrive with this new scoring system, the U.S. teams have always somewhat struggled. However, the computer scoring was discontinued at the 2016 games and the U.S. men’s boxing team still failed to capture gold, only earning one silver, and one bronze. However, women were allowed to compete in boxing for the first time in the 2012 Olympics. Claressa Shields of the U.S. women’s boxing team had no problems acquiring gold at the 2012 Olympics under computer scoring. Shields repeated that feat again in 2016 winning under the new scoring system that is more similar to how professional boxing matches are judged. I think that the change to electronic scoring can been seen as an immediate or remote cause depending on how you look at it. On the immediate side it does directly effect the outcome of Olympic boxing matches. Remotely though, I see it as a rule change from 1988, that had the unforeseeable side effect of influencing how Olympic boxers would change their styles and adapt to the new scoring system in the near future.

So one ends up with a few causal arguments. Corruption and lack of money could definitely be immediate causes swaying possible gold medal earning fighters away. The Floyd Mayweather era of boxing may have also created a mindset where money is more valued by young fighters rather than glory. Making young fighters less interested in participating in the Olympics, and more interested in fighting professional. Or is boxing just not as popular as it once was? As the U.S. grows and changes as a country, so does its entertainment and sport interests. This remote cause could simply mean that young people are simply loosing interest in the sport itself. It doesn’t help that the U.S. men’s Olympic boxing team can barely hold onto their coaches. This is a powerful immediate cause, because without proper guidance, how can we expect our athletes to succeed? Then there is the issue of scoring, can the U.S. simply not adapt? After computer scoring was implemented in 1992, the U.S. men’s boxing team earned six medals total in Barcelona that year. They have only just won nine in all of the summer Olympics combined since then. The U.S. women’s boxing team has had no problems dominating with or without the electronic scoring, so is it even a valid issue? Everything is circumstantial and with these causes, there are possibly dozens, even hundreds more we didn’t cover. Regardless, the U.S. men’s Olympic boxing team clearly has problems that need to be addressed before the 2020 Olympics.

 

 

NBC Olympics

By: Shawn Smith

http://www.nbcolympics.com/news/usa-olympic-boxing-team-set-claressa-shields-shakur-stevenson

 

Los Angeles Times

http://www.latimes.com/sports/olympics/la-sp-oly-us-boxing-20160809-snap-story.html

 

Bleacher Report

Tom Weir

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2657218-us-boxing-fights-back-from-medal-drought-but-hasnt-recaptured-glory-days

 

Forbes

https://www.forbes.com/profile/floyd-mayweather/

 

Forbes

Forbes CorporateCommunications

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbespr/2015/06/10/forbes-announces-2015-list-of-the-worlds-100-highest-paid-athletes/#422f957b283c

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cotto vs Kamegai, Boxing’s Hidden Gem!

These days its almost IMPOSSIBLE to get on social media and not see some type of reference to the circus match up that is Mayweather vs McGregor…  Whether its news outlets constantly discussing rumored dates and venues for the fight, or casual fans arguing over who would win the ridiculous match up, I can’t quite seem to escape it.  Even Oscar De La Hoya came out with his own letter, ranting about how the event is bad for boxing.  I’ve vented about the circus that is Mayweather vs McGregor before, https://omahaboxing.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/the-circus-is-coming-to-town/  and honestly, I don’t want to keep beating a dead horse on why its a horrible match up that’s meaningless.  However, buried beneath all the Mayweather vs McGregor hype, there is a colossal match up that isn’t getting any love!

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I can already hear about half of my readers asking, “Who the hell is Kamegai?”  That was a question a lot of people asked when this match was first announced.  Don’t be mistaken though, just because Kamegai isn’t a household name in the U.S., doesn’t make him irrelevant by any means.  Kamegai, who is 27-3-2 with 24 KOs, fights out of the Teiken gym in Tokyo, Japan.  The Tokyo based boxer is best known for his relentless brawling style.  He may not be known to have the greatest foot work, ring generalship, or overall technique, but DAMN the man can throw a mean hook!  His chin is no joke either, never showing any fear as he walks through his opponents assault without a second thought.  His only losses have come at the hands of Johan Perez, Robert Guerrero,  and Alfonso Gomez.  Perez and Gomez were able to stay safe boxing around the ring, surviving to a unanimous decision (barely surviving in Gomez’s case).  While Robert Guerrero on the other hand, was willing to stand toe to toe with the Japanese brawler, receiving a slim unanimous decision in one of the most entertaining bouts of 2014.  Kamegai has since put those losses behind him though.  In his past two outings, he met fellow hard nose journeyman, Jesus Soto Karass.  Karass, like Kamegai, is all blood, guts and heart when it comes to fighting.  The two came to a Draw in their first all action bout.  With Kamegai winning the immediate rematch, after Karass couldn’t come out of his corner for the 9th round.  Cotto will now be the biggest name Kamegai has had the chance to fight thus far, and with the WBO 154lb title at stake, I guarantee the contender from Tokyo will be in top form

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On the other side you have Miguel Cotto.  This future hall of fame inductee has seen better days, but you can’t count him out just yet.  Currently at 40-5 with 33 KOs, Cotto is a battle tested veteran.  He has shared the ring with the likes of Paul Malignaggi, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Antonio Magarito,  Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Sergio Martinez, and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, just to name a few.  The former champ from Puerto Rico has held titles in four weight classes, from 140lbs, up to 160lbs.  On August 26th, Cotto will be looking to regain a title at 154lbs.  Cotto is known for being dangerous on the inside.  He has a vicious body attack, with a left hook that could knock the wind out of an elephant!  And with that resume I listed off earlier, Cotto has seen almost every kind of style and fighter there is too.  So between his own personal experience, and having the boxing guru, Freddie Roach in his corner as head coach, Cotto should be ready for whatever Kamegai Brings to the table.  Like Kamegai though, Cotto has his own flaws as well.  We talked about Cotto’s experience earlier, hes been in a few wars with those names listed above, and suffered some brutal stoppage losses as well.  Cotto doesn’t have a glass jaw or weak will by any means.  However, if it came down to a war of attrition against Kamegai, the damage Cotto has received in the past, could greatly influence the outcome of the match.

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This fight just makes sense, especially for Miguel Cotto.  He hasn’t fought since his decision loss to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in 2015.  This isn’t just a title shot for Cotto either, this is a chance to find out if hes still relevant.  A chance against a fighter who is dangerous, yet still limited enough for Cotto to measure himself against.  That’s what makes this fight so intriguing.  Both of these fighters are extremely talented and tenacious, but both are just vulnerable enough as well to make it a coin toss.  Cotto of course makes sense to be the betting favorite, but he has suffered with fighters who apply a lot of pressure in the past.  Can Cotto absorb or avoid the punishment and come out on top?  Will Kamegai be able to overcome the skilled former champion and gain his first championship title in the process?  Will Cotto attempt to fight a careful and calculated match?  Or will Kamegai be able to drag Cotto down into the trenches of a ravenous street fight?

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Personally, there are two ways I see the fight going.  When Cotto gets on the inside, he should throw a combo and then step around Kamegai, not allowing the Japanese fighter to cut the ring off or corner him.  If Cotto can keep that up, throwing quick combinations, stepping around out of danger, and then clenching when necessary, I think he can take the Decision.  Kamegai on the other hand, he has a nasty habit of following his opponent rather than cutting off the ring.  Kamegai’s best chance to win is by forcing his opponent to stay in front of him and fight.  If Kamegai keeps the pressure on Cotto, and properly cuts off escape routes, Kamegai may be able to slowly break Cotto down, stopping him in the later rounds.

Mayweather vs who again?  Don’t waste 100 bucks or more on that circus.  This hidden gem, Cotto vs Kamegai, will be on HBO August 26th!

-Davis Clouse, Omaha Boxing

 

 

The Biggest Fight Of The Year!!! (In Mexico)

OH MAN!  2017 is barely a month and a half in and already we’ve already had contenders for fight of the year!  On the 28th of January we had Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1 18 KOs) and Carl Frampton (23-1 14 KOs) facing off on Showtime for the second time in 6 months!  Let me tell you, the first fight didn’t disappoint and neither did the 2nd!  On HBO the same night, we also saw Takashi Miura (31-3-2 24 KOs) vs Miguel Roman (56-12-2 43 KOs) and Francisco Vargas (23-1-2 17 KOs) vs Miguel Berchelt (31-1 28 KOs).  These fights weren’t for the squeamish, as both were displays of blood and guts.  Miura, was able to rally after a rough first few rounds, to stop the spirited Roman later on in the match.  While Berchelt surprised everybody, especially Vargas, with his upset stoppage.  Boxing purists may have turned up there noses to the latter two fights, but fans of good ol’ fashioned brawls weren’t disappointed at all.

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As exciting as the fights have been so far this year…  The current holy grail of fights, the piece de resistance, the new Mayweather vs Pacquiao, is Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1 34 KOs) vs Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (36-0 33 KOs).  We as fight fans have been salivating over this one for awhile now.  Every time we think this fight is juuuuust with in reach, we end up with Canelo fighting guys like Liam “Beefy” Smith…  Forcing Golovkin to find other opponents.  He currently has a showdown with Daniel Jacobs (32-1 29 KOs), coming up on the 18th of March.  Then finally we got word that Canelo has a fight scheduled for Cinco de Mayo weekend!  FINALLY!  The fight we had all been waiting for!  Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. YES! Wait… WHAT!?!?!?!?!?

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From a business stand point, it makes sense…  Canelo, hailing from Mexico, is easily the biggest name in boxing now that Mayweather has bowed out, and Pacquiao is on his way out.  While Chavez Jr., may not be as big of a draw as Canelo, he has his daddy’s name though.  For anyone reading this who may be new to the boxing world, Its basically universally agreed upon that Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.  is one of the greatest Mexican boxers, if not THE greatest Mexican boxer, ever.  Chavez Sr. is the demi god of Mexican boxing, the patron saint of pressure fighters if you will.  With a record of 107 wins, 6 losses and 2 draws, with 86 KOs, its no wonder why.  Hell, by the time he gained his first blemish (a draw to Pernell Whitaker), he was 87 and 0!  So even though Chavez Jr. hardly lives up to his fathers legendary name, he still has the name regardless, and that means something in Mexico.

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Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (50-2-1 32 KOs) has campaigned most of his career at 160lbs.  He became notorious for not taking his training seriously, not making weight, and all around acting like a kid who’s father was Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. If he couldn’t make weight, he would simply pay a fine to his opponent.  When he did make weight before a fight, the next day he would show up re hydrated looking like a cruiserweight.  With his usual size and height advantage over most opponents, he developed a bullying style.  Smothering his opponents on the inside, keeping a steady body attack, and relying on thudding power shots.  He was impressive against lesser known opposition.  Then again, its easy to look good against a journeyman whose a middleweight, when you almost weigh as much as a damn heavyweight!  When he stepped up against better opposition, his size wasn’t much help though.  Apart from the knockdown he scored against Sergio Martinez in the final round of their 2012 championship fight, Martinez embarrassed Chavez Jr. for 11 of the 12 rounds.  Martinez boxed circles around him.  I wasn’t surprised after watching Chavez Jr.’s training on HBO before the fight either.  He normally slept in and missed his sessions with Freddie Roach, insisting that the legendary trainer come to his house…  And train him in his living room.  After losing to Martinez, Chavez Jr. was looking for an easy comeback fight against Brian Vera (23 and 6 at the time).  Chavez Jr. struggled against the fringe contender but still earned a controversial decision.  After which he had an immediate rematch with Vera to attempt to save face.  Chavez Jr. would shamelessly miss making weight MULTIPLE TIMES!  However, the fight would go on and Chavez Jr. won more decidedly the 2nd go around.

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Finally after realizing that attempting to make middleweight was a lost cause, Chavez Jr. began his campaign at light heavyweight.  Attempting to fight Andrzej Fonfara for the WBC International title.  Alas, when he tried to pick on someone his own size, he was stopped at the end of the 9th round…  Since the Fonfara setback, hes earned decision victories over fairly softer opposition.  Which I guess brings me to my point of HOW THE HELL DID HE EARN A SHOT AGAINST BOXING’S CURRENT TOP EARNER?!?!?  I see what Canelo is doing, hes not stupid.  Hes not sure if he could beat Golovkin or not, and if he lost, it could dramatically drop his stock.  So hes simply trying to put the fight off for as long as he can, so he can make as much money as possible.  With Golovkin at 34 and Canelo at 26, time is on Canelo’s side.  The longer he puts it off, the better his chances are of winning, and if he loses?  At least he made out like a bandit before hand.  I just wish he’d cut the macho act.  He talks about fighting Golovkin any place, any time…  But never delivers.

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So, I don’t really know how to feel about this fight.  As a fan it does pique my interest, but this is a fight that should have happened YEARS ago.  When they were both young Mexican champions and closer in weight.  After having the prospect of a Canelo vs Golovkin match dangled in front of me, announcements for fights like this one, are extremely disappointing…    And at a catch weight of 164.5, Canelo will almost certainly be fighting a dehydrated, over trained and hollow version of Chavez Jr.  If Chavez Jr. even puts in that much effort to make weight of course.  So smart money is on Canelo, but with as much as these two have disappointed me in recent years, I wish there was a way they could both lose…

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A man can dream cant he?

-Davis Clouse, Omahaboxing

 

Classless antics… March 4th cant come soon enough!

Have you ever heard of the stereo type where a father attempts to live through his child’s athletics?  Maybe he was a successful athlete himself when he was younger and wants to relive the glory days?  Maybe he never had any glory days?  Either way, when his child is successful, the father acts as if he himself achieved something.  Usually this is something you’d see at high school school sporting events.  Apparently press conferences for boxing matches aren’t off limits either…

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Danny Garcia, (33-0, 19 KOs) recently had a press conference with Keith Thurman, (27-0, 22 KOs) to promote their March 4th showdown which will be aired on CBS.  It started off as pretty standard stuff, each fighter talks about why they are going to win, there is some petty trash talk, and then they answer some questions from the reporters.  Angel Garcia, Danny’s father, did more talking than either of the fighters though.  Going on a tirade, referring to Thurman with racial and homophobic slurs, he then spiraled into a rant about how he hates immigrant fighters who come to the states.  After which he somehow transitioned into politics, referring to Donald Trump making America great again.

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I’ve ranted about Danny Garcia and his father before… https://omahaboxing.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/give-respect-to-omahas-champ/             Personally I think Garcia is well protected, and a bit over rated.  Any momentum he gained from his wins over Amir Khan and Lucas Matthysse, hes completely squandered it.  Overall Garcia is a mostly well rounded pugilist, and I give him his due respect as a champion.  His fathers actions are unacceptable though.  Maybe its not fair to judge Garcia on the actions of those close to him, but regardless of how he feels about what was said.  His father whom represents him, was speaking for him, and Garcia just sat by and smiled.  Needless to say I’m rooting for Keith Thurman on the night of March 4th.

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Which brings me to Keith “One Time” Thurman.  His last outing was against the very competitive Shawn Porter.  In a fight that was full of back and forth non stop action, Thurman was able to eek out a very close decision in a match that was easily one of the most high paced, exciting fights of the year.  If I had any doubts about Thurman before then, he had me putting my foot in my mouth not long after.  He proved that he has power, skill, and the heart to go the full 12 rounds in a non stop war.

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Needless to say I’m rooting for Thurman on March 4th, but its not just because I can’t stand Danny Garcia and his father.  I truly think Thurman is the better equipped fighter of the two.  I mentioned earlier that Garcia is a well rounded pugilist.  Yes, he does have ok footwork, ring generalship, hand speed, etc.  His power, which is his most notable trait is even questionable at times.  Sure, of his last five fights, 3 ended in KO.  However, those three consisted of the unheralded Samuel Vargas, the unknown Rod Salka, and the feather fisted Paulie Malignaggi.  The two he couldn’t KO were faded versions of Robert Guerrero and Lamont Peterson,  with many arguing that Peterson should have gotten the decision when they fought.  He also tends to be a follower, struggling to cut off the ring against a foe with good lateral movement.  Thurman on the other hand has proven that he is adaptable, taking on foes in toe to toe skirmishes in the center of the ring, while also being light on his feet and boxing on the outside.  The only time I’ve truly seen Thurman uncomfortable was against the swarming and suffocating style of Shawn Porter.  With Porters relentless aggression and dedicated body attack, we could start to see minor cracks in Thurman’s armor.  Thurman was still able to fend off his adamant attacker though.         I don’t think Garcia has nearly as much tenacity as Porter to keep that high of a work rate going.  Unless Garcia lands a crazy power shot out of left field as he did against Amir Khan, I see Thurman easily boxing circles around him. Who knows, with enough steady offense from the outside, Thurman may even be able to earn a TKO in the later rounds.  I’m going with Thurman by decision or late round TKO.

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I’m going to be honest, originally I planned on only blogging about how terrible of a person Angel Garcia is, and possibly even boycotting the fight.  I ended up realizing that if I gave more attention to some loud mouthed bigot rather than the fight itself, that was a disservice to both the fighters and boxing as a whole.  Maybe Angel Garcia just said all of those things to sell tickets and I’m a sucker taking the bait.  Either way, its a shame I can’t watch him take a beating in March.  Seeing him cry when his son loses will be a nice consolation though.

-Davis Clouse, Omahaboxing

 

 

The Circus is Coming to Town!

After how crazy 2016 was.  Between all the celebrity death, the Chicago Cubs winning a World Series after 108 years, and possibly the most insult filled and controversial election ever.  One would think there is possibly no way 2017 could compete.  2017 is not going down without a fight though, and its coming out swinging!

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So trying to sift through the twitter history of these entertainers to see how their beef exactly started… is well, pretty damn hard.  But supposedly these two have had issues with each other for some time now.  Instead of just continuing to argue back and forth in all caps online, a 3 round exhibition has been proposed.  As much as I’d like to say this is all a joke, it unfortunately appears to be all too real.  Apparently Floyd Mayweather has even agreed to train Soulja Boy.  Which is good, because Soulja has been posting training videos online, and they’re absolutely cringe worthy.  Chris Brown on the other hand, has got Ol’ “Iron” Mike Tyson training him in the sweet science.  Mike even came up with a catchy diss song for his pugilistic pupil’s rival.  You can’t make this kind of stuff up.  As of right now, to my knowledge there hasn’t been any type of date set.  So this could all just be a stunt for attention.  If I was going to pick a winner though, Brown overall appears more athletic, and with his dancing background, I think learning the basics in boxing should come more naturally to him.  Soulja Boy on the other hand, doesn’t appear to have any type of conditioning, and he also appears to be much smaller in weight than Brown.  Between a possible size disadvantage, and just overall being out of shape, that would be more than enough to give Brown an easy victory.  Soulja has one more obvious weakness though, its the way he oozes confidence with his cocky attitude.  Whether the courage he shows is real or feigned, I think he is going to be compelled to back up all of his talk to save face.  I see Soulja attempting to go all out in a toe to toe brawl with Brown.  If I’m right and that is the case, I’d give the fight 45 seconds, a minute and thirty seconds at best before Brown catches Soulja coming in sloppy and simply overwhelms him.  If this fight truly happens, Brown by TKO in round 1.  More than likely this will just end up being an ugly mess with a lot of running and clenching.  Who knows though, maybe if they really train and take it seriously, it might end up being halfway entertaining.

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Hey guys, real quick.  Remember that one time Michael Jordan challenged Wayne Gretzky to a game of basketball to find out who was the better athlete?  No?  You know why it never happened and would have been silly to do so?  Because it would have proved nothing!!!  So tell me why the hell every casual sports fan is so interested in Floyd Mayweather vs Conor Mcgregor?  Just because boxing and MMA happen to be combat sports, doesn’t mean anything.  Lets be real, if Mcgregor agrees to a boxing match against Mayweather, hes going to get jabbed into oblivion as Mayweather effortlessly pivots around him.  Even if Mayweather’s legs aren’t what they use to be since retirement.  He still has enough defensive prowess to manage slipping and ducking most of Mcgregors flailing strikes while countering with his own pot shots.  It goes both ways too, of course if Mcgregor somehow suckered Mayweather into the UFC octagon, Mayweather would be completely out of his element.  Its two completely different sports!  As of right now, it appears that Mcgregor has attained a boxing license with the intention of fighting on Mayweather’s terms.  Between all of the commotion the prospect of the match has garnered online and on ESPN.  What probably started out as an argument in a booth at a Buffalo Wild Wings, is becoming more of a reality every passing day.

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Why does such a silly event that would prove nothing, create such interest then?  I really think it comes down to a competitive rivalry between fan bases.  MMA vs boxing. Which is better?  If we took a great champion from each, which combat discipline would prevail?  Its not just boxing and MMA though, It goes for practitioners of any combat discipline.  Whether its karate, muay thai, judo, or any of the many other styles out there.  People like to debate which is better, which one that would be most effective in a real fight.  Personally, I don’t really think any discipline is better than the other.  I think the real advantage simply comes from how good you are at your craft.  If Mayweather ends up beating Mcgregor in a boxing match, it doesn’t mean that boxing is better, and vice versa.  In a real fight there would be no rules, so what happens in a ring with a referee essentially means nothing.  Mayweather vs Mcgregor is over rated.  Honestly, the celebrity fight between Chris Brown and Soulja Boy has more appeal to me.  At least that one has the possibility of being some what competitive.  So yeah, 2017 is already looking like a circus in the boxing world.  Hopefully that’s not the case for the year overall.  I just want to get back to talking about boxing matches that are ya know, between two boxers…

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Sigh………..

-Davis Clouse, Omahaboxing