Saturday, May 13, 2006

Low blows for the heavyweights

By JE Grant

As if heavyweight boxing didn’t have enough problems, now the drive-by sports writers (those who consider themselves experts in all sports by virtue of having a sports column) are poking at the division unencumbered by facts and fairness. You know things are bad when articles make it past editors unimpeded who are predisposed to accept any article depicting the so-called dreadful state of the division.

ESPN’s Bill Simmons delivered just such a piece in the site’s Page 2 entitled "Heavyweights are a dying breed." In the article he claims that heavyweight “species” went extinct the night Vitali Klitschko battled Lennox Lewis for the championship.

As we all know Vitali Klitschko went on to capture and defend the WBC belt in what Simmons called “lackluster” fights. Obviously Klitschko’s eliminator fight against Kirk Johnson couldn’t be seen as great inasmuch as Johnson was blasted out in two rounds.

But did Simmons actually see Klitschko’s win for the vacant belt against South African Corrie Sanders or his defense against Danny Williams? Klitschko stopped both big men in heavy punching affairs. Lackluster? I think not.

Simmons moves on to deride Vitali’s brother Wladimir Klitschko by the ignorant mechanism of jabbing at the big man’s name. He claims Klitschko changed the spelling of his first name from Vladimir to Wladimir. When did this happen Bill? He spelled his name the same way from the beginning of his career to the present. Facts apparently aren’t all that important when you’re having fun.

He calls Hasim Rahman a “journeyman.” You may recall Bill that the “journeyman” once knocked out the great Lennox Lewis. Using Simmons’ logic we would have to assume Lewis was something less than a journeyman.

Newly crowned Serguei Liakhovich is seen as “obscure” and the lucky victor against Lamon Brewster. Simmons says that “we learned Brewster had suffered a detached retina in Round 1 and nearly won anyway. Not a good sign for Sergei's (you could at least spell his first name right Bill) long-term prospects, unless his promoter can continue to find opponents with double vision.” When did you make that diagnosis Bill? I watched the bout and did not see a opthamologist administering an exam. Admit it Bill you don’t know when the injury occurred and neither does anyone else. Of course admitting that would not have worked for the story. Oh, and by the way, Brewster did not “nearly win.”

Of course the 7-footer Nicolay Valuev is figuratively the easiest target because of his size and appearance. Simmons describes him as “clumsy.”

That remark leads me to question whether Simmons’ claim to have seen all of the current belt-holders in action (Valuev has never appeared on American TV). I’ve seen him and he’s slow, not all that effective with his right hand, not all that hard to hit despite an above average jab, but he is clearly not clumsy. There’s no doubt that any of the other three belt-holders (and several contenders) who would be heavily favored against Valuev, but clumsy he is not.

Perhaps the worst of Simmons’ comments is his personal attack on Valuev who he describes as someone “who looks like Ivan Drago, if Drago were accidentally exposed to a nuclear reactor leak” What does this have to do with his relative boxing ability? Being cute is, I guess, a substitute for a jab. Simmons must’ve given himself a high-five for coming up with a quip that was sooooooo clever.

It’s not until we get to the second to last paragraph that we catch a glimpse of what this is probably all about. Simmons lets us know that “(t)hree of the four belts are held by methodical Eastern Europeans, and a Kazak named Oleg Maskaev seems poised to take Rahman's belt.”

Is the underlying thesis that all must be going haywire in the heavyweight division because “Eastern Europeans” are on the rise?

Make no mistake about it, if Maskaev does take a belt from Rahman, you will see columns from the no-new-idea herd of American sportwriters saying the heavyweight boxing is now pronounced dead.

The shift in heavyweight power couldn’t possibly be because the Eastern Europeans are fighting better because they’re driven and resourceful in the ring, huh?

Simmons writes frequently about basketball. Does he not see that Eastern Europeans are making inroads in numerous sports?

Simmons briefly mentioned Don King but wrote nary a word on the proliferation of sanctioning bodies or their inherent corruption and greed. If he is really interested in resurrecting the heavyweight division --- which I seriously doubt --- that’s where he should place his focus.

Or, he can continue writing about the not-so-good looks of Nicolay Valuev.


Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

(LOL!) I LOVE it! JE comes out swingin! AMEN JE!

2:50 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Cruiser -- What a knuckleheaded article he wrote........He should stick to basketball.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

JE-Did you email this piece to this 'baffoon'? If not,you should!

5:32 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

As the 'brits' would say--"What a 'wanker'..." (LOL)

*My only regret is that I didn't catch this 'piece' before JE did so I could have 'tore him another one'.I fear JE 'stole all my thunder' in this here ass-sault...(LOL)

9:59 PM  
Blogger Meke said...

Well, I guess he wanted to be funny. Distorsions really help to get a point across and with all humor, some people will like it but others won't. He did get a smile or two from me but he was also completely tasteless at some places. I cannot imgaine that someone who is writing for ESPN can hold such bias views (I am very generous here!). It is also amazing that this went through editorial... of course, I would like to see how he looks like and I would like to watch him during one of those games where Yugos or Lithuania kick the asses out of his dream team again. BTW, Wladimir is a German version of a Slav name Vladimir. If I am not mistaken, Vladimir would be in the anglo-saxon world... but I guess that's not where Wladimir Klitschko landed first in his profi career.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Meke said...

Also, thanks for the site again. I had a closer look a few days ago... Very well written articles, resonable opinions (mostly agree, but of course, we are all human with a preference or two!), no side kicks... much much better than most of the things I've read on the ESB so far. Will be coming here again...

3:31 PM  

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