Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Diego Corrales: A True Warrior. R.I.P.

Up until that fight in May of 2005, I would consider myself a casual fan of the sport of boxing.

Sure, I watched all of the HBO and Showtime cards, caught the big names on PPVs when I could, watched ESPN fights when it was a name I recognized, watched The Contender. But I was not yet a die-hard boxing fan.

My older brother, Mario, who is a writer for 15rounds.com, has always been die hard and had been telling me this was a fight I needed to see. I did not know much about either fighter, although I had seen Corrales fight on the undercard of James Toney-Evander Holyfield in his loss on cuts to Joel Casamayor, and he did impress me.

Through On Demand I saw the Corrales-Freitas fight. Again I left impressed and was very excited to see Corrales step in the ring with a guy who had never been down in his career and had a great pedigree.

I wasn't expecting the fight to meet my expectations. But from the opening bell, I knew I was watching something special. The fight had everything. It was a brawl, yet tactical. Both fighters showed tremendous amounts of heart and will. Each round was close with each fighter having their moments. There was a lot on the line and both guys were willing to give it everything in order to be named the winner. At the end of each round I literally had goosebumps. I had never seen a fight quite like this. I had yet to see Gatti-Ward or Hagler-Hearns, so I was not used to this kind of war.

Round by round, my mouth never closed, my jaw stayed dropped. Castillo was cut bad, and Corrales' eyes were merely slits.

Then, in round ten, Castillo landed quite possibly one of the most perfect left hands I had ever seen, even more devastating due to the fact that Corrales stepped right into it. Corrales getting up at all was a true test to his heart. Not a half minute later he was down again, mouthpiece on the ground, and I thought it was over. He got up again, and Joe Goosen, his trainer, told him he needed to get back in there.

Corrales did just that, and while still mentally not there he landed some hellacious blows, stunning Castillo. He got Castillo against the ropes and landed a flurry that most definitely had Castillo out on his feet, and referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight.

I could not believe my eyes of what I had just seen. I asked myself, "Is this what I have been missing for all these years?"

Ever since that fight, I have watched any form of boxing I could get my hands on. I have gotten ahold of many of the major fights of the last twenty-five years, including fights overseas. I have finally seen Gatt-Ward, Hagler-Hearns, Jirov-Toney, Holyfield-Qawi, Holyfield-Bowe, and had been able to see Monshipour-Sithchatchawal, and as amazing as those fights were, nothing will ever have the effect that watching Corrales-Castillo live on television did.

I owe my allegiance to the sport to both fighters, but especially Corrales. His showing in that fight, especially that 10th round, showed me what heart really is. I have seen that fight dozens of times and every time I still cannot believe what I am seeing.

Although Corrales' career did not end on a high note, having lost his last three fights, he will always be remembered as one of the true warriors of the sport. He never quit, he always pressed the action, he never backed down even after being put on the seat of his pants numerous times. Even though I do not consider him an all-time great, and he has had some things in his personal life that I don't agree with, I can only remember Corrales as the guy who made me the fan I am today.

Thank you Diego, and may you rest in piece.

Monday, March 19, 2007

2007 MLB Season Preview - NL Central

NL Central:

1. Houston - The Astros are coming off a lackluster 2006 in which they went 82-80 following their first trip to the World Series in franchise history. It is unknown whether Roger Clemens will return in the middle of the season like last year, but if he does, he will definitely be getting a lot more run production. The reason to that being the off-season acquisition of heavy-hitting outfielder Carlos Lee. He is coming off a monster 2006 [.300, 37 HR, 116 RBI] and will be manning left field. 2006 postseason hero Chris Burke is coming together nicely as a productive Major League player and will be splitting team between the center field spot left open by Willy Taveras' exit and second base. Another young player, Luke Scott, will be pencilled in as the opening day right fielder after a stellar 2006 campaign in limited opportunities, hitting .336 after only being an every day guy the last three months. Dependable Lance Berkman is coming off his hugest year yet [.315, 45 HR, 136 RBI] and with Lee protecting him, he will be seeing a lot more pitches. Morgan Ensberg had an off year, and he is due for another huge season. He is off and on, and every other year he proves his doubters wrong by launching a season that critics do not think he is capable of. Couple that with the fact he will be part of a more explosive Astros lineup, and he should be getting back on track. Craig Biggio is on for at least one more year, and he remarkably is still going strong having loged 21 home runs last season. The rotation looks vastly different after letting Andy Pettitte go and the mystery of Clemens' situation. This leavs Roy Oswalt as the wiley veteran [15-8, 2.98 ERA], and he, when healthy, is one of the best starting pitchers in the game today. He got zero run support last year but behind their lineup this year he could threaten for twenty wins or more. Jason Jennings moves into the #2 spot after coming over from Colorado in a trade, followed by the ageless Woody Williams and the young Wandy Rodriguez and Fernando Nieve. The middle relief is still stellar with guys like Chad Qualls and Dan Wheeler getting the ball to Brad Lidge, but will Lidge have another unproductive season? How short is his leash going to be in 2007 before Phil Garner gives the job to somebody else? With Lidge it seems all mental as his location is fine but his fastball has been getting crushed. If he can throw his slider with effectiveness we could see the old Brad Lidge. The Astros' will be relying on Lidge to hold leads for them, but the stress may not be as big as he may be handed more two and three run leads rather than the one run leads he was given so many times.
2. St. Louis - It will be very tough for the Cardinals to go on another magical run to the World Series in 2007. There are way too many question marks and the team is full of aging stars on the downside of their careers. The only thing you can be sure of is, barring injury, another MVP-like season from Albert Pujols. Scott Rolen had a bounceback year in 2006 but his role was downsized down the stretch by Tony La Russa which led to a few arguments between the two. Jim Edmonds has officially entered the twilight career and can not be counted on to contribute the way he has in years past. The rotation is weak behind ace Chris Carpenter, who will need to put up another great season to give the Cardinals a shot at retaining their Central division championship. Kip Wells is pencilled in as the #2 starter, a guy with a career 4.46 ERA coming off a very bad 2006. Anthony Reyes is the lone bright spot in the backend of the rotation, and he has tremendous upside having shown flashes of brilliance like his one-hitter against the White Sox (in a loss). Adam Wainwright has been moved to the rotation after showing confidence taking over Jason Isringhausen's spot as closer down the stretch and in the postseason last year. Wainwright was given the chance a few years ago to seize a starting spot but failed to do so, maybe this time things will be different with a little more Major League experience under his belt. The #5 spot has yet to be decided, with a number of guys being mentioned to possibly fill the role. Jason Isringhausen will be returning to close after another injury-marred season, and the question remains on how reliable his durability is. This may be the end of the line for Isringhausen, but luckily the Cardinals have decent middle relief so that he is not stretched over more than an inning or so each appearance. The Cardinals chances hinge on the tweaky backs and achy knees of the old horses that have been part of past regular and post season magic, but this might be the end of the line for a bunch of the guys mentioned, and the end of a great run as a top-tier ballclub in the National League.
3. Chicago - No team has done more revamping and retooling than the Chicago Cubs this off-season. But couldn't that be said for 2006 as well? The club resigned underrated starter Carlos Zambrano, a guy who has the potential to win a Cy Young Award somewhere down the line. Unfortunately for the Cubs, other than Zambrano, the rotation is a mess with guys that can't stay healthy and guys that are ineffective and guys that are just question marks taking hold of the other four spots. You have Mark Prior, who is brilliant when healthy. The problem with Prior is, it is hard to remember the last time he was healthy. The guy is just a magnet to injury, and when he is one of your best players, that is a hard thing to deal with. Then you have Ted Lilly, a solid #3 guy who can perform admirably in the role. Taking the #4 spot is Jason Marquis, who probably received the most undeserving contract out of any free agent this off-season. Marquis logged fourteen wins last season, but could have contended for a twenty loss season if he wasn't on such a productive ball club last season, based on his 6.02 ERA. Wade Miller came off of major surgery in 2006 to log a few innings as a starter and showed the potential to return to his days in the Astros rotation but he is a couple hundred innings from being that confident in his arm again. The bullpen is just as big of a mess as the rotation, with Ryan "The Dumpster" Dempster being named the opening day closer and Kerry Wood waiting in the wings. Dempster blew more saves than most hookers blew, well, other things. The Cubs pen features way too many left handers who are only good for one or two outs, and their best middle reliever is another left-hander in Bob Howry. Luckily for the Cubs, the added offensive firepower should loosen the stress on the pitching staff's shoulders. The Cubs went out and got the most attractive available player in the off-season in Alfonso Soriano. The guy can hit and steal bases as well as anyone in the league and could log a fifty home run and fifty stolen base season pretty soon. Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez are other guys that will be depended on to be healthy and consistent, as both guys have the ability to hit thirty plus home runs and get 100+ runs batted in. Matt Murton is one of the most underrated young outfielders in the game and will take some appearances away from aging Cliff Floyd. Mark DeRosa cashed in on his monster 2006 by getting a big contract with the Cubs, but it is unlikely he matches what he did in Arlington the previous season. If the Cubs pitching (that is the biggest "if" ever) can stay relatively healthy, they have a chance to contend for a spot in the playoffs. They will probably finish in the middle of the pack in 2007.
4. Cincinnati - The Reds had a hell of a run in 2006 but at the deadline they traded their chance along with their best players and their momentum away in order to pick up a couple of serviceable middle relievers. The trade that sent young star Felipe Lopez, a guy who has twenty home run power and forty stolen base speed, and Austin Kearns to the Nationals for a few middle relievers was probably the worst trade in many years. The spot left open by Lopez is now being manned by Alex Gonzalez, a guy who hasn't had a starting job in awhile. The rotation is a mess, with Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo being the two guys that will be relied on to log a bulk of the wins and innings. Both are rising stars but neither are #1 guys yet. Following those two you have a bunch of over-the-hill veterans with Eric Milton and Kyle Lohse being the #3 and #4 guys. Kirk Saarloos should do a good job as the fifth starter. The bullpen is still a mess even after all the wheeling and dealing, with Eddie Guardado being hurt until probably May, leaving the closer's job open between a bunch of guys who failed to take ahold of it before Guardado even arrived. The offense is not strong enough to make up for the lack of pitching, and it is just a matter of time before we hear about Ken Griffey Jr. hurting himself and missing the bulk of another season. Adam Dunn strikes out too much and does nothing except hit home runs, which is okay usually, but not really for a team that needs a guy to get on base more than hit solo shots. Ryan Freel is pretty underrated and can steal a lot of bases and is a very spirited player with a good amount of talent. The fact remains that the Reds gave away way too much in order to stabilize a pitching staff that basically cannot be saved.
5. Milwaukee - The Brewers are another team with a core group of young guys that should be competitive in future seasons, but 2007 is likely not one of them. They have a solid front end of the rotation with Ben Sheets and Chris Capuano, two strikeout heavy power pitchers. If Sheets can have a good returning season following an injury plagued '06, it should help bring some stability to a Brewers rotation that was inconsistent at best last year. Jeff Suppan jumps from St. Louis to Milwaukee and is a solid third with good command and decent stuff, and lots of experience on top of that. Claudio Vargas is one of those guys who had potential that may still be able to be reached, but we will find that out as he is being handed a spot in the rotation. Dave Bush rounds out the rotation after a 2006 season where he showed flashes of brilliance one start and then got torched a few starts later. The offense is young and unproven, and has no real power in the middle of the lineup. They have a bunch of 20 home run caliber guys with good speed, guys like Bill Hall and Rickie Weeks come to mind. Prince Fielder has 30-40 home run power but needs to get on base more, but he is very young and has a lot of potential. Geoff Jenkins, on the other hand, is coming to the end of his career and isn't good for much except the occassional home run. The rest of the lineup is filled with role players and minor-league caliber guys that won't make much of an impact. The Brewers have the potential to finish third in this division, but not much better considering how a lot of the other teams reloaded heavily in the off-season.
6. Pittsburgh - The Pirates have a lot of star quality players in place offensively to make a splash, but just lack the pitching to really compete. Their rotation consists of mainly first and second year guys, with second-year Zach Duke being named the ace. The rotation is very young, and the first four guys have potential to be pretty good pitchers later on in their career. The problem with young pitchers is they tend to go through problems more than young hitters. Once a team has seen them once and figured them out, young pitchers have a hard time adjusting, meaning the Pirates will see some inconsistency throughout the season from guys with good arms. This should be a great year for the Pirates from a development standpoint as they will be working to establish their young starters. Guys like Duke, Ian Snell, Paul Maholm, and Tom Gorzelanny will be given every opportunity to make a name and solidify a spot for themselves. The bullpen is average at best, with Salomon Torres returning as the closer after taking over the role to close out 2006 and doing a good job at it. The middle relief leaves a lot to be desired, as it is mostly comprised of over-the-hill veterans who have nowhere else to go. Offensively, the Pirates look decent for a low budget bottom feeding team. They have a franchise caliber player in Jason Bay, who has done nothing but produce since becoming "the guy". 2006 National League batting champion Freddy Sanchez is looking to prove last season wasn't a fluke. The rest of the team is comprised of players that the big clubs deemed busts (guys like Xavier Nady and Adam LaRoche) and a couple of scrappy veterans (Jack Wilson). The Pirates are looking at '07 like they look at most seasons, a rebuilding year. The good news is they have the pieces in place pitching-wise to be competitive in the future.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

2007 MLB Season Preview - NL West

Division by division preview of the 2007 MLB Season starting with the NL West.

NL West:
1. San Diego -
Pitching will win the division, and San Diego sure has it. Jake Peavy should have a bounceback 2007, and with the underrated Chris Young [11-5, 3.46] was a great story for 2006 and put up some gaudy numbers. Greg Maddux joins the staff after a decent 2006, and with Clay Hensley and David Wells pulling up the rear of the rotation, they have the strongest staff in the West by far. Trevor Hoffman is still one of the most consistent closers in the game, and with Scott Linebrink setting up for Hoffman, their middle relief is pretty solid as well. Adrian Gonzalez is becoming a star [.304, 24 HR, 82 RBI] and the addition of Marcus Giles makes them a little bit better offensively, and you still have guys around like Brian Giles and Mike Cameron in the lineup who can do things.
2. Los Angeles - Jason Schmidt gives the Dodgers a true ace after having a modest 2006 with the Giants. Randy Wolf is not a #2 starter, and Derek Lowe and Brad Penny are at the end of their careers although both had good years in '06. Brett Tomko is done as well. They have decent middle relief with Jonathan Broxton and Joe Beimel to lead up to closer Takashi Saito, who had a great season. The addition of Juan Pierre to the lineup gives them a great guy to put in the number one spot in the batting order. Rafael Furcal will bat behind him, and with those guys hitting 1-2, it is likely a guy will be on second or better by the time the heart of the lineup comes up. If the heart of the lineup can stay healthy (mainly Nomar Garciaparra and Jeff Kent, along with Luis Gonzalez) and the Dodgers can get good production out of their good young talent, the Dodgers could win the West or compete for a wild card spot. Andre Ethier, Wilson Betemit, and Matt Kemp need to provide solid roles for the team to succeed. Ethier is becoming a great all-around player, and could be a middle of the order guy very soon. The Dodgers probably have the best lineup in the West, but need to rely on old horses with prior injury problems and ineffectiveness in order to win the division outright.
3. San Francisco - Barry Zito signed one of the most lucrative contracts in history from jump from one side of the Bay to the other, and become the second most famous Barry on the team. Barry's career as an ace are probably over, although he will be heading up the Giants rotation. He had a solid 2006 [16-10, 3.83 ERA] but is not a true ace. The biggest positive to Zito is he eats a lot of innings due to his pitching style, which relies less on overpowering stuff and moreso on location. When Barry's location is on, it could be a quick night, especially if his sick 12-6 curveball is getting called for strikes regularly. But when Barry battles with a lack of location, he gets rocked early and usually is not able to fix his mechanics quick enough to give his team a chance to win. Matt Cain is an up and comer and showed flashes of brilliance in 2006, but is still probably a year away from being a dominant starting major league pitcher. Noah Lowry is off and on but has great ability as well. Matt Morris is done as an effective starting pitcher and the number five spot is being fought over right now between a couple of young guys with no real experience. Rich Aurilia returns for a second stint in San Francisco, but will probably not be too much of a contribution offensively. Pedro Feliz showed flashes of power but does not get on base enough. The Giants season will rely on how effective Barry Bonds is in his quest for the all-time home run title. If Bonds can play 130 games or so and do what he needs to do, the Giants could compete for a wild card spot.
4. Colorado - The Rockies traded their most consistent starting pitcher Jason Jennings to the Astros, but they did pick up useful pieces in the deal. They got a top-of-the-order player in Willy Taveras who consistently gets on base and can be in scoring position for the heart of the order. Aaron Cook takes over the #1 spot in the rotation, followed by young phenom Jeff Francis and Byung-Hyun Kim and Taylor Buchholz, acquired in the Houston trade. Their pitching performed a lot better last season, and if this year's staff can be in the middle of the pack, they could contend. Brian Fuentes is serviceable as the closer. The lineup is one of the strongest young lineups in baseball, featuring a core of Matt Holiday [ .326, 34 HR, 114 RBI] and Garrett Atkins [.329, 29 HR, 120 RBI] along with established veteran Todd Helton. Shortstop Troy Tulowitski could be a possible Rookie of the Year candidate considering he will be hitting at Coors Field. Kazuo Matsui looks to turn a career around in Colorado that had so much promise in New York years ago. The Rockies' success will rely on the shoulders of their young pitching and their developing young offensive stars. They have a lot of upside in the years to come.
5. Arizona - The Diamondbacks are another club that could be real contenders down the line, but they just don't have enough experience this season to be in the race for a playoff berth. Guys like Conor Jackson, Carlos Quentin, Stephen Drew, and Chris Young could all be stars in a few years, and some of them, most notably Jackson, are already on that road. They reacquired Randy Johnson pretty cheap, and Johnson's history with Arizona is a good one. He is winding down a Hall of Fame career and would probably like to prove to everyone that he still has a little left in the tank. Couple that with Cy Young winner Brandon Webb and you have a formidable front end of the rotation. Livan Hernandez is pretty hit-or-miss these days but is an innings eater and Edgar Gonzalez is a young guy with a live arm. The bullpen is pretty decent and with a spring training battle for the closer's spot between Jorge Julio and Jose Valverde, it could be an interesting season. The D'Backs are years away from being serious contenders, but they are putting the pieces together to be a great team down the road a few years.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mike + Mike in the Morning...Legally Retarded?

I am watching Mike and Mike on the Morning on ESPN right now. Why? Don't ask, there is nothing better on television.

Anyways, whenever I listen to these guys I come away thinking they must be high when they're discussing whatever it is they're discussing. Today's topic? How to prevent teams from tanking it when it is obvious they are not going to make the playoffs in order to secure a better draft pick.

Greenberg has proposed an idea on the air that is just plain stupid. We are talking basketball at the moment. He says you should limit the postseason to four teams per conference, that way making the playoffs means you actually played well and consistent for all 82 games. This I have no problem with. I think that in the NBA too many weak teams are stumbling into the playoffs only to get bumped in the first round in an unexciting series. The thing going against that is that it leaves most fans wondering why they should watch if their team is 7th, 8th, or 9th heading into the final stretch if they have no shot at limping into the playoffs, which would drive revenue down a bunch. It isn't impossible for an eight seed to go the distance as the New York Knicks proved to us years ago when they went to the Finals and lost to the Spurs, so that has to be accounted for.

Either way, that isn't the fault in Greeny's plan. He then says, instead of giving the first pick of the draft to the worst team in the league, how about giving it to the team that had the best record that did not make the playoffs? Is Greeny nuts? First of all, how do you expect for these smaller market teams to get any better? If this system were implemented, the Cleveland Cavaliers would still be bottom feeding while LeBron James takes a fringe contender to the title in his first or second year. This would NOT be a good move for basketball, or for any sport. You want parity, not the same four or five teams going the distance every year.

Plus, this would still leave it open to people tanking the season. Let's say you implement this system but keep the eight team per conference playoff structure. If you are bound to be the eight seed, why not lose on purpose so you get the top pick? You are unlikely to win a championship as an eight seed anyways.

Also, I just do not believe there are that many teams willing to tank a season to get a good draft pick. Think about it, the worse you do, the worse shape you are going to be in. If you are a head coach, finishing last is not good for your job safety. If you are playing for one of these teams at the bottom of the pile, wouldn't you want to play hard so that your statistics are good enough to earn another shot either with your current team or somewhere else, and to also avoid getting benched in favor of a top five draft pick? If you are a general manager, how long are you going to keep a job if you are finishing at the bottom?

Mike + Mike in the Morning is generally retarded, but this is just ridiculous.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

McClellan, Benn meet again

There aren't many fights in boxing's long history that has had the amount of excitement and tragedy that occurred on February 25th, 1995, a super-welterwight championship fight between reigning the WBC champion Nigel Benn and former middleweight champion Gerald McClellan.
The fight would take place in England, Benn’s home country. Although he was the challenger and was fighting in his opponent’s hometown, McClellan was actually favored 3-to-1 to win the fight. He achieved twenty first-round knockouts in thirty-four professional fights, an amazing feat to say the least.
McClellan was touted as the next big thing in boxing, and promoter Don King made sure everyone knew it. Two days prior to the fight, McClellan was quoted saying, “In boxing you are going to war, and in war you must be prepared to die.” No one would know how ironic this quote would end up being, but it established McClellan as a true warrior in boxing history.
From start to finish, McClellan-Benn was the most enthralling and depressing fight I’ve ever seen.
In round one, McClellan delivered an amazing knockdowns, sending Benn to the ground and then through the ropes. The referee gave a generous count, giving enough time for Benn to climb back into the ring and resume fighting. The rounds that would follow would have Benn mount an astonishing comeback.
Round eight featured three of the most exciting minutes you could hope to witness in a fight. Both fighters were going for a knockout and discarded any defensive tactics they had used earlier on. Midway through the round, McClellan landed blow after blow to Benn’s head, knocking him down to one knee and he was given a mandatory eight-count. He returned to his feet and miraculously made it through the round, and McClellan missed his chance to end the fight. Round nine was exciting, but sadly, it was the tragic round ten that fans would remember most.
Round ten began and it was obvious something was wrong with McClellan. He was having trouble with his eyes, blinking constantly and, looking back on it, most people attribute the problem to a headbutt that happened earlier on in the fight. McClellan was tagged by a powerful Benn right hook that would drop him to one knee. The crowd erupted as they watched their hometown fighter put the powerful American down.
McClellan rose to his feet after the referee issued a standing eight count, only to get blasted again by a flurry of punches by Benn that would again send McClellan to the canvas. The fight was stopped and Benn stood on the ring apron and saluted his fans. If you were to give a closer look, you would see McClellan collapse onto the canvas as he tried to get up. A few minutes later he was on his back, not moving, as his cornermen tried slapping his face to get a reaction. A crowd that was once so excited and loud quickly became very quiet and melancholy. Ironically, McClellan was ahead on the scorecards and would have most likely won the fight if he had continued.
Sadly, McClellan would slip into a coma and wouldn’t come back to life for eleven days. When he did finally come to, he was blind, partially deaf, and left severely disabled.
His promoter, Don King, abandoned him. None of the people that had been in his corner throughout his boxing career were there to help him when they were needed the most. Everyone seemed to disappear, but thankfully Gerald is lucky enough in that he has sisters that take care of him. His sister, Lisa, has devoted her life to take care of him, and it has been said that it costs $70,000 a year just to keep him alive.
Roy Jones, Jr., one of boxing’s biggest stars of the last twenty years and a close friend of Gerald, helped (along with HBO Sports and Ring 8) establish the Gerald McClellan Trust Fund. The fund helps support Gerald’s three children, who experienced a loss that few can relate to. During the prime of his career, Jones, Jr. said that he could never visit Gerald because it would cause him to retire to see a fighter in his condition.
As sports fans, once our idols and heroes in the sporting world exit the limelight, we tend to stop caring. We all do it, thinking that once their career is over they live a great life with no major lingering effects from participating in a sport where they put their body on the line with every event. Boxing is one of the more dangerous sports and, sadly, probably one of the main sports where athletes are forgotten few years after they have hung up the gloves.
It would be ideal if everyone that was in the spotlight, at the end of the career, got the spectacular send-off they all dreamed about. This is happening to a lot of fighters currently coming to the end of their career. Arturo Gatti, one of boxing's most exciting fighters in the past fifty years, is getting ready to say goodbye. He wants to have a send-off in Atlantic City, but HBO, who has broadcasted most of Gatti's fights for the last fifteen years, is saying they would only televise it if it was against an A-list fighter. For HBO to do that is disrespectful to the man who carried their boxing programming for much of the last decade. More than ten years later, on February 24th, these two retired prize-fighters will meet again in England. This time it will be to honor the American McClellan at a dinner that will feature a couple of other former boxing stars including James Toney and Iran Barkley, in order to raise money to help support Gerald. Benn has been trying to get past the difficulty that comes with severely injuring and ending the career of someone truly great for a long time now, but he knows it is something you can never forget.
McClellan is one of those fighters that could have been a pound-for-pound great. He was twenty-eight years old when he suffered his near-fatal injury, and had impressive first round victories over Jackson and John "The Beast" Mugabi, and could have been the fighter to challenge Bernard Hopkins for his middleweight crown during Hopkins' prime. The saddest thing about boxing to me is always when a fighter never realizes his potential due to a horrific setback or encounter, and McClellan definitely fits that profile.

Manning's Super Bowl MVP = Laughable

In one of the worst Super Bowls in recent memory, the Indianapolis Colts outplayed the Chicago Bears to claim victor in Super Bowl XLI. It all came down to the Colts being able to keep the Bears defense on the field for a long time, due to the combination of converting on third down on offense and also due to forcing the Bears into third-and-longs while on defense, a situation which the Bears have statistically not been able to convert in high percentages.
When it comes to naming the Super Bowl MVP, it should not go to the best player on the winning team, but rather the player or combination of players that, without their high level of play, would not have won the game. Peyton Manning did not fit the mold of a Super Bowl MVP on Sunday. Any number of servicable quarterbacks could have stepped in and played in Manning's shoes on Sunday and played the kind of game where they were just looking to avoid mistakes and grind it out. The Colts did not need a huge day from Manning in order to win, and he did not give them a huge day. It came down to the duo of running backs Dominic Rhodes and rookie Joseph Addai, who combined for 190 yards rushing on 40 carries and 74 yards receiving on 11 catches.
Rhodes, a career backup, had his first 100-yard rushing game since 2001 in the biggest game of his career. Addai, a rookie who was selected to fill the shoes of the departed Edgerrin James, had 10 catches out of the backfield for 66 yards and bailed Manning out of a lot of situations. Manning's numbers were average, throwing for 247 yards, a touchdown and an interception. His numbers were played up due to his historically poor performance in the postseason, and also due to the fact he is a likeable guy I think the media wanted to bail him out for, if in the future, he doesn't succeed in the postseason. To say Manning got the monkey off of his back for his poor postseason play is laughable, because Manning ended the postseason with 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, pretty poor numbers in general, but especially poor for a guy who averages 4,000 yard passing seasons and throws a high volume of touchdowns with a low number of interceptions. The fact is, if the defense doesn't raise it's game in the wildcard round against the Chiefs and the divisional round against the Ravens, the Colts do not get to the AFC Championship Game. The only game where Manning stepped his game up was that game against the Patriots, and he definitely deserves the credit there. But in my mind there is no way he deserved the MVP, and he was maybe fourth or fifth on the list of candidates.

In my mind this is who it would have to go to:
1. Dominic Rhodes/Joseph Addai, RBs: 264 total yards and a touchdown
2. Kelvin Hayden, DB: Game-changing interception return for a TD, put the nail in the coffin
3. Bob Sanders, DB: Forced fumble and an interception
4. Peyton Manning: 247 yds, TD, INT

Another thing that pisses me off, I am sure Dominic Rhodes could use a new vehicle a little more than Peyton Manning. Although, I am not sure Rhodes' salary could afford the price of gas for the gas guzzling vehicle Manning was rewarded.

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