I watched Bradley University play Illinois College (D-3) and Robert Morris (Springfield, NAIA) in baseball. Needless to say, Bradley won both games easily. But the thing was, the games were still relatively fun to watch; I wondered why.
Here what I think is going on: in baseball, the real “player to player” duel is between the pitcher and batter; once the ball is hit, it is the player versus the ball. Hence the losing team can still make great fielding plays and hence it can still be entertaining, even if lacking in drama.
Basketball: Yes, D-III Eureka can still play Bradley, but the game was boring; the Bradley players were too quick, too fast, and too strong. The action in basketball is player versus player. But the competition is still “safe”; there is little extra danger of injury.
Football: too big of a difference in level can lead to unsafe conditions; I can only imagine the bloodbath a D-III team versus a Big Ten team would be. The difference in strength, speed, quickness and power could well lead to injuries.
Boxing: a tough sport, but could well be dangerous, even fatal if the mismatch is too great.
I had a previous post on this topic. This always surprises me when it happens as one frequently sees boxers go to the body, but you don’t see boxers go down that often because of them. But sometimes they do:
And, though this wasn’t a body shot knockout, it was a body shot that got the first knock down:
Remember, these are tough, tough people going down via body shots.
I’ve changed my workouts somewhat; the emphasis is my walking marathon and so my 5K run will suffer some. That isn’t a big deal though.
First I jogged 2 miles outside. Then I did the Deek 8 x 400 with 200 jog (not quite float), 5K in 28:34 8:51/9:14/9:26 were the mile splits. I used lane 2, hence my splits were somewhat slower than in the past.
Then I walked 1 more mile (lane 3) and then did 10 minutes on the bike.
Note: one doesn’t expect the miles to be even, though the slowdown from mile 2 to 3 is fatigue as there is the same amount of “faster” running involved.
mile 1 is 400/200/400/200/400 (3 “fast 400’s)
mile 2 is 200/400/200/400/200/half 400 (2.5 “fast” 400’s)
mile 3 is half 400/200/400/200/400/200 (2.5 “fast 400’s)
then 200 “fast”.
I was ok. Now about the marathon: part of the mental preparation is getting ready to push through the rough spots. It is very human for even stellar athletes to give up when they get discouraged, even though they might not be doing that badly and they still have a chance to win.
I’ll draw from boxing: in the Clay (later known as Ali) vs. Liston fight, Liston quit after 6 rounds, even though the score cards were 57-57, 58-56 (Clay), 58-56 (Liston). When Duran quit against Leonard, the cards were 68-66, 68-66, 67-66 Leonard…Duran was still very much in contention.
When Foreman didn’t exactly rush to get up when he was knocked down, the cards were 68-66, 70-67, 69-66 Ali. Of course had he beaten the count, he would have been down 78-74, 80-75, 79-74 after 8 (out of 15). He was definitely behind but not completely out of it.
Anyway, I don’t want to make that mistake during discouraging moments.
In the major team sports, it is hard to follow the upward path of an individual player, or to watch a dream vanish.
In running: you can always see someone’s results before hand; e. g. if someone’s 10K best is “only” 29:xx, they won’t be in the lead pack of the Olympic Marathon, or probably even IN the Olympic marathon to begin with (save the exemptions for “developing countries”).
In tennis, though the matches are person against person, there are tournaments and seeds and a tennis player plays a lot more tennis matches than a boxer has fights, for good reason.
So, in boxing, when an “up and coming” prospect attempts to move up, their attempt is right in front of you, against one other person. And you know not exactly how it will go; this isn’t like a 3:50 miler racing a 4:10 miler.
So the prospect usually starts against fighters than aren’t highly regarded (by professional standards) and after a bit of seasoning, they make their first step up. So, you have “undefeated prospect vs…….” and the “step up opponent”, depending on the level that one is stepping up to, is usually:
1. a journeyman who has fought (and often lost to) tougher competition or
2. a ranked but not “title shot ranked” fighter or
3. a former champion or formerly ranked fighter who is trying to work themselves back into title contention.
Yes, sometimes the prospect passes the test. But, many times: they don’t. Last night saw a couple of examples of 1 and 3.
In the case of 1, a 9-0 prospect faced a 6-7 journeyman and was in trouble; Teddy Atlas had the fight tied going into the final round (6 in this case; I had the prospect ahead by 1 point) when late in the round, the prospect managed a strange TKO. Super middleweight Immanuwel Aleem was struggling against Juan Carlos Rojas (who was only 6-7-1, but had fought harder opposition) but landed a right hand which put Rojas out on his feet…while standing up. Since he didn’t go down, there was no opportunity for a count, and he was defenseless. So the referee correctly stopped the fight.
I’ve seen it go the other way as well, when the journeyman ended the prospect’s rise to the top.
In the case of 3, light heavyweight former WBA champion Gabriel Campillo gave prospect Thomas Williams Jr. is first loss by giving him a cut over his eye, which lead to a stoppage. But prior to the stoppage, Williams was clearly bothered by not only the cut, but by Campillo’s boxing. That struck me as a bit strange as it appeared TO ME that Williams was landing a lot of good body shots, but he was getting hit too and the latter really got to him.
Afterward, Williams went over to Teddy Atlas and apologized for “letting Atlas down” (Atlas was high on Williams prior to the fight), and Atlas gave him some excellent “mentor like” advice. It was very touching to me; this is the best of “older men to younger men” relationships that I remember having in sports, the military and in graduate school. I suppose that I sometimes act that way with my students.
But back to the boxing: a few weeks ago, junior lightweight Mark Davis (then 18-0) stepped up to take on Michael Farenas who was 38-4-4; Farenas had fought for the title twice and had faced far, far tougher opposition. The step up proved to be too much for Davis; the referee stopped the carnage in the 8’th round.
It is my (highly non-expert) opinion that both Thomas and Davis can come back from these setbacks, IF that is what they have a burning desire to do. I see these defeats as harsh lessons that they can learn from.
But I’ve also seen the case in which a fighter steps up in competition, and as the fight goes on, comes to realize that they are not only in over their heads at the current time, but lack the fundamental natural ability to reach that level.
One (cruiser weight? heavy weight) actually broke down and cried as he realized his dream wasn’t in the cards for him.
I know the feeling (not from boxing).
Of course, there is the case where an elite boxer doesn’t quite have what it takes to become champion, but in my book, they are already wildly successful as they made it to elite status.
Example: here is heavyweight Eddie Chambers, who is attempting a comeback of sorts.
If you are qualified to get in the ring with Wladimir Klitschko AND take him to 11.9 rounds, you are pretty awesome.
I need to get some more walking midweek and so will replace a lifting session (Wednesday’s) with a medium walk (10 miles). I’ll keep this up until marathon taper week.
Today: from the Riverplex to the first road crossing on the East Peoria trail (about 8 miles) then to the Marina. 2:32 was the total time; it was a lovely day but it was an effort. Yesterday’s workout took something out of me.
I also did 10 minutes on the bike afterward.
It sure looks as if someone is trying to promote a Wladimir Klitschko vs. Shannon Briggs match:
I’m not sure if fight fans will buy this; Briggs is tough but is 42 years old, and his outing against Vitali Klitschko was, well, rather ugly:
Here he was, in the hospital after the fight:
How he got there:
Are the fans really clamoring for this?
Now some may argue with the choices. I, for one, would have loved to have seen that epic Holyfield vs. Bowe, round 10 (which I provided). But these are excellent choices nevertheless.
Last night’s Friday Night Fights featured two 8 found middle weight matches as part of a boxing tournament (Boxcino). But to me: the (scheduled for 6 round) heavyweight match prior to these fights (which WERE good) stole the show. Nate Heaven was an underdog to Donovan Dennis and Dennis appeared to be winning round 1 when this happened.
The middle weights: yes, Brandon Adams beat Raymond Gatica by a split decision which, well, puzzled me. On my card, I had it 79-71 Adams (too many big shots) but the judges had it: 78-74, 78-74 Adams (which I could understand; some rounds WERE close) and one had it…77-75 for Gatica (????)
In the second bout, Willie Monroe “upset” the favored Vitalii Kopylenko (not sure why Kopylenko was favored); I too had this one 79-71 for the winner. The judges saw it 79-73, 79-73, 78-74. These scores, IMHO, were more reasonable. Kopylenko did land a couple of very hard shots but was mostly beaten to the punch all night long.
I did a short “live blog” of the fight here.
You can read other accounts of the fight
When Chambers would come in punching range, Mchunu would pot shot him with jabs, right hands and straight lefts. Mchunu looked like a heavier, more muscular version of Floyd Mayweather Jr. with the way that he was able to dominate Chambers with pot shots and counter punches all night long.
Chambers looked frustrated in the second half of the fight, as he kept getting nailed by Mchunu fast shots over and over again, and there was nothing he could do about it because he didn’t have the hand speed or the skills to compete against the little known Mchunu.
This Mchunu looks for real at cruiserweight.
Mchunu (14-1, 10 KO) won on scores of 99-91, 99-91, and 97-93, the latter score closer than anyone else had it that I was able to see on Twitter or on the site here. BLH had it 100-90 for Mchunu, finding no pity rounds to give Chambers (36-4, 18 KO).
The 31-year-old Chambers just never got out of the starting blocks in this one, as he looked bewildered by the southpaw counter-puncher from South Africa, as if he had no real game plan and was just there to wing it and see what happened. Several theories were offered during the fight: Chambers’ usual speed advantage was gone, Chambers didn’t know how to fight a southpaw, Chambers ate bad Subway pulled pork, #FAMJUICE is definitely not a PED, and so on, but really, he just got outboxed and outfought for the entire fight.
Mchunu had hardly any trouble in keeping the experienced American at bay and picked his punches well throughout. Rated seventh by the WBC, Mchunu probably put himself in line for more lucrative bouts against good opponents.
He improved his professional record to 14-1, with 10 knockouts. Chambers dropped to 36-3, including 18 short-cut wins.
The 31-year-old American had fought the likes of Samuel Peter, Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin. He fought at heavyweight for most of his 13 years as a professional but recently dropped to the cruiserweight division.
Mchunu, a 24-year-old southpaw, had never fought outside South Africa before taking part in this Fight Night tournament.
Chambers lost to Klitschko and Adamek in his previous three fights and had been inactive since June last year. But he was expected to use his height and reach advantages to beat the little-known South African.
If one wants to look at all aspects of this fight, one has to give Mchunu credit for a fine performance. He was very well prepared and he shone; he fought a very smart, disciplined fight.
But I am approaching this as a Chambers follower/fan.
So here is my fan’s opinion (which, by definition is probably a mostly uninformed one):
Here is what went wrong: (follow for the first 2 minutes):
Wait: this was over 3 years ago, right? (March 2010)
In my opinion: Chambers was 35-1 coming into that fight, with just a UD loss to Alexander Povetkin. Losing to Klitschko made him 35-2. Then, after recovery, he had a sort-of lackluster (but earned) UD vs. Derric Rossy (a guy he had previously knocked out) and a controversial UD loss to Tomasz Adamek; Chambers tore a bicep muscle early in the fight and fought on anyway, and in my opinion (and in the opinion of other observers), actually out landed Adamek (causing visible damage) but lost on the score cards because Adamek was busier.
In short, Chambers has lost 3 of his last 4 fights, albeit to top competition (current champion, past champion and top ten contender, top ten contender).
But, it appears to me that he has lost something; 40 professional heavyweight fights vs. people like Sam Peter, Wladimir Klitschko, Tomasz Adamek, Alexander Povetkin and Alexander Dimitrenko will take something out of you.
I wonder if it is time for him to start thinking about *owning* a gym rather than training in it; right now his mind appears to work pretty well. He has had an excellent career.
As far as last night’s fight: Chambers has got some rather negative remarks on the social media.
This reminds me (vaguely) of what happened to me my freshman year at the Naval Academy. I had wrestled in high school and had beaten a couple of other guys who wrestled in high school. So when I took the “place out of PE wrestling” test, I was matched against someone who was recruited for the wrestling team and who had WON varsity matches as a freshman.
When I went against him: total joke. I’d try a move and …he wasn’t there anymore…he was constantly a step (or two or three!) ahead of me the entire time. I looked pathetic; as if I had never wrestled a day in my life. I failed the “place out test”.
The two guys that I had beaten (easily): they wrestled each other and BOTH placed out. Later, I wrestled both again, and had no problems; I could beat them. But I couldn’t beat a ghost.
Obviously, last night’s professional fight was at a much, much, much higher level, but I know the feeling of making a move (punch in this case) and the target being long gone and ready to counter. You get frustrated, tentative and discouraged, and that is what I saw last night.
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