Monday, May 4, 2009

Diversions: Little Philipino, Big Fists.

A poor stretch including three of four against the Boston nine's Kryptonite (10 losses so far this season, 6 to Tampa Bay...enough said) seems like a good excuse to not discuss baseball at all.

It'd be a little untruthful to, anyway; the Internet isn't yet setup in the new residence (a move which is the reason why I've been a bit itinerant here; forgiveness, please) so I didn't get to watch any of this weekend's brutality. Which is okay. I preferred the brutality I did see, and it didn't take three hours to finish.

It took 5 minutes, and 59 seconds, plus an unprecedented three national anthems, an awful undercard that I mostly missed (too distracted by the crowd at the other big TV cheering loudly every time the Bulls took an open shot, whether they missed it or not; most of these Polo-shirted punks were also rooting for Hatton, so the Celtics' win would only be the beginning of their shitty evening), and the standard amount of hoopla rendered all the more ridiculous by...well, what briefly followed.

The essence of Punch-Out! and the confounding of many a great pitcher, is telegraphing. If Bald Bull charges, hit him in the gut on the third step and he'll fall. Punch King Hippo in the gut when he reveals his belly band-aid. Pray to Allah you can catch the slight flickers and blinks Mike Tyson gives off. That's how you beat video boxing. Know when the curve is coming, it's not quite the knee-buckler it is in a fastball count.

But outside of the WVBA, telegraphing isn't supposed to be a big boxing matter. Speed, power and skill is, which is why smart money kept floating to Manny Pacquiao, and a 2-1 favorite turned 3-1 favorite. Natural size is, which is why Ricky Hatton, top of the junior welterweight ranks for nearly four years, never beaten at 140 pounds, was given a real shot of taking out a former 106-pounder by some. Both could brawl, so a knockout was expected.

Expected, yes. By this guy, yes. In this round, hell no. But apparently telegraphing can matter in boxing. Watch it again and you'll wonder why tenative ol' Money Mayweather or anyone else never figured out how easy it is; watch it a third time and you'll realize the timing, the openings, aren't quite as broad as you might think. Hatton didn't blink three times, or turn red, or have the jewel on the top of his head wink anyway. But he does cock his fists. He goes back before he goes forward. And as in the first knockdown, when you know the slower fighter is about to throw, and you are fast and powerful and a bad motherfucker, you can actually

1) See the punch coming.
2) Throw a right hook through the hole where his hands would be, obliterating his jaw.
3) Dodge the punch he started to throw before you were even thinking of connecting. And, oh yeah, that punch is being thrown while he falls on his royal English arse.

Ricky Hatton was always a limited fighter, but Pacquiao's accomplishment Saturday night should not be diminished. Paraphrase White Men Can't Jump, it's hard work making a man look so bad. It's harder work dominating any rank. It's ridiculous to dominate four (lineal championships) or six (divisions in which Pac has held belts), even in an era of excessive divisions. All hail the king, and crown his ass, no matter what it weighs in at next time.

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