Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jones/Hopkins II: Who They Are and Why Should I Care?

Boxing is not a perfect sport. There are instances of fighters who take forever to get a title shot (Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Frankie Randall), shady promoters (Don King) and scorecards that makes you think wonder if Helen Keller was sitting at ringside as a judge (Lewis/Holyfield I, Williams/Martinez). But one thing just as annoying as any of those is a fighter that doesn't know when to quit.

Helen Keller or a corrupt Las Vegas boxing judge? You decide!

Today I'll be writing about two such fighter: Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. Both are two of the best fighters of their era and both have been fighting professionally for over twenty years and both continue to fight despite being over the age of 40.

Both came from different backgrounds. Jones was brought up by a tough, hard knocks father who was grooming his son to be a champion. Stardom seemed evident for Jones when he got screwed by clones of Helen Keller at the 1988 Seoul Olympics after dominating his opponent from start to finish.




Can you spot Helen Keller in this video?

Despite this, Jones went on with his pro career and ended up winning titles at Middleweight, Super-Middleweight, Light-Heavyweight and Heavyweight and was named the best fighter of the 1990's as well. But before all the titles, he came up against a tough contender from Philadelphia named Bernard Hopkins.

Hopkins was also an amateur boxer but was pulled into the street gangs and then thrown into prison where he converted to Islam and got back into training so that upon his release, he could turn professional and become a champion. But after losing his first fight, Hopkins took a year and a half off and then tallied up a 22 win streak which lead to his first title fight against Roy Jones, both of whom were fighting for the vacant middleweight title in 1993.


Since these two men are considered the best of their era, it should come as no shock to you that the fight was boring as all hell. They barely made contact with each other and it almost made you wonder how anyone could say, "Wow, I'd like to see those two have a rematch!"


From there they went separate paths. Jones moved up in weight and began a long dominance in the light-heavyweight division. Hopkins stayed at middleweight where he quickly won title after title until finally reaching super stardom when in late 2001, he knocked out (and destroyed the career of) Felix Trinidad to become the first undisputed middleweight champion since Marvin Hagler. Jones in the mean time had beaten everyone who had come before him and even avenged a DQ loss by a 1 round knockout.



While both were dominant, Jones was the flashier of the two. He had faster hands, better athleticism and the ability to knock you out with his hands behind his back (Seriously, he did that once). He was a major force for HBO Boxing and got so popular (or arrogant) that he wrote a rap song that was simply a love letter to himself about how great he was. Along the way he also kept dropping hints that he was going to move up to heavyweight and fight Evander Holyfield and while this was back in 1997, don't be too surprised if that fight somehow ends up happening next year.





Boxing fans in regards to Roy Jones Jr's constant talk of moving up to heavyweight

So in 2003, Jones vacated his undisputed light-heavyweight title and moved up to face perhaps one of the worst heavyweights in recent memory, John Ruiz for the meaningless WBA title. Never mind that Lennox Lewis was seen as the king of the heavyweights, having beaten every opponent either the first time or in a rematch and had just come off of spanking Mike Tyson. No, instead Jones picked John Ruiz and promptly won a small chunk of the heavyweight championship. It was his last moment of greatness.


After unsuccessful attempts to lure Holyfield or Tyson into the ring with him (But not Lewis), Jones moved back down to light-heavyweight where he fought Antonio Tarver. Jones seemed sluggish in the fight and perhaps losing all that muscle he put on for the Ruiz fight affected him. Many thought that Jones didn't deserve the decision over Tarver so they had a rematch. Jones was knocked out in the second round.


Deciding that a tuneup was in order, Jones decided to fight recent journeyman turned IBF light-heavyweight champion, Glen Johnson who sported a record of 40-9-2. This time Jones was knocked out in the ninth round. He then lost a decision to Tarver. After winning some meaningless fights that no one watched, Jones came back against another faded star, Felix Trinidad.


Believe it or not, Trinidad was actually more shot than Jones despite being knocked out only once in his career and getting out jabbed in his previous fight. And while it was entertaining, it gave a lot of fans the impression that the old Roy Jones was back and going to rule the light-heavyweight division. Then came his fight against undefeated champ Joe Calzaghe.


Do I really need to explain that Jones lost the Calzaghe fight?

Once again back to fighting nobodies in nowhere, Jones was given a chance to reclaim the spotlight by fighting old rival Bernard Hopkins who had just come off his best victory against Kelly Pavlik. Knowing that Hopkins was still dangerous despite being older, Jones decided he would go to Australia and have a tuneup fight against Danny Green. It was perhaps the worst decision of his career because he was knocked out in one round as well as his plans of a rematch with Hopkins.


Speaking of Bernard, as I mentioned he stayed at middleweight and became the undisputed champion and reached superstar status the same year Jones lost his when in 2004, he knocked out the biggest name in the sport, Oscar de la Hoya. However the following year he lost his titles and a rematch to Jermain Taylor. With talk of retirement in the air, Hopkins decided to move up in weight and challnege Antonio Tarver for the light-heavyweight title and promptly beat the shit out of Tarver.


Deciding that he was still good in his 40's as he was in his 30's, Hopkins fought Winky Wright and beat him and then came up against Joe Calzaghe who had moved up from super-middleweight. Now when I first saw them fight, I was excited, especially when Hopkins dropped him in the first round. But from there it was the following: *Punch; clinch; punch; clinch*


Normally fighters hug each other AFTER the fight, not during...

It really annoyed me because that was the first time my dad had sat down and watched an actual fight with me from start to finish in an attempt to find out why I was so in love with the sport. And while this did leave a sour taste in his mouth, highlights of Pacquiao/Marquez II quickly erased any bad memories he had.

Hopkins lost, a decision I agreed with but lately I've been thinking of going back and scoring it again. Anyway, at that point I though Hopkins was shot and was annoyed that he was going to be fighting middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik at a catchweight of 170 pounds. My prediction was that Hopkins was going to be too slow and by the 6th round, the hard hitting Pavlik would have Hopkins down and out.

Well it turns out that just the opposite happened and Pavlik was given a 12 round, one sided beating of a lifetime and in one bout Hopkins erased the doubt that might have been raised in the fights with Taylor and Calzaghe. And at the point, after this great victory, I thought Hopkins should have retired.

But no. He's still got a hardon for fighting Roy Jones and beating the shit out of him. And even though Jones lost his tuneup fight while Hopkins won his, this fight is still happening? Why? What will it prove? The fight should have happened nine years ago when they were still good at what they did.

If anything, this makes Hopkins look kind of petty. He still wants to fight a guy who has lost five of his last ten fights, four of those losses coming by knockout. Hopkins can't really win in this fight anyway. By that I mean, he can't do anything to Jones that can't be done before.

He can't frustrate Jones to where he'll make an illegal move and be disqualified, Griffin did that.
He can't knock him out in the first 3 rounds, Tarver did that. He also beat him over 12 rounds.
He can't dominate Jones when he was expected to lose and knock him out. Johnson did that.
He won't pick himself up off the canvas to come back and spank Jones silly. Calzaghe did that.
I bet that Hopkins was hoping to knock Roy out in the first round and really shock everyone but then Danny Green had to go and fuck that up for him. So you understand, whatever Hopkins does to Roy Jones, it's already been done. But I don't think he'll knock him out. He couldn't knock out Pavlik or What's His Face in his last tuneup.

So will I watch this fight? Still not sure but if I do I'm not going to throw out fifty bucks like the promoters are expecting us to. I'll find some illegal streaming site and watch it for free. How else do you think I watched Pavlik/Hopkins?

It's a meaningless fight that HBO PPV is going to force down our throats to make us think like it's the Rumble in the Jungle while at the same time, fighters who are younger, hungrier and more deserving of a big fight are pushed into the side while two old men fight to see who, at the end of the day, can say has a bigger cock.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hajime no Ippo

You'd honestly rather read 'Prince of Tennis' than this?



Two weeks ago I wrote about a character who had been around for 30 years and how his legend of suck has evolved into some strange sort of hero worship for nerds.


Today, I'll talk about something that as of this writing has reached it's 20th anniversary of publication and while it may be having it's own moments of suckage right now (Don't get too excited, Fett-boys, your hero will always be #1) it is still a great read and perhaps one of the most underrated mangas ever written.


Back in 2005, I was participating in an online discussion related to the (then) upcoming movie Rocky Balboa. At the time, I was shaking my head at the thought of Stallone getting back into the ring and slurring his way through another fight and was looking for another source of boxing related fiction. That was when someone asked me if I had ever read or watched Hajime no Ippo. Since I had not and was always eager to give something boxing related a look, I decided it was best to check it out.



First, let me just say that Hajime no Ippo (Fighting Spirit as it was called in the North American dub) is terribly cliched. You have your standard weakling main character who decides to become a professional boxer, the wise old sage/coach with a Gordon Ramsay like temper, the rival/friend who is perfect in every way yet a polar opposite to the main character (A common character in anime), and a strong, undefeated older champion boxer who is so macho and such a heterosexual that he's almost borderline gay. I'm not joking earlier, Takamura may be one of the most likable sexual predators since Roman Polanski.



However despite all the cliches, this is the only manga I'll read and it's one of the best things I've ever read.

To sum it up, Ippo is a timid high school student who helps run a fishing boat business with his mom and generally gets the crap beaten out of him by the bullies at school. During one of Ippo's many beatings, an up and coming middleweight boxer, Takamura, steps in and saves Ippo. After seeing how cool Takamura is at taking buttons from people (Yeah, apparently boxers can take all the buttons off your shirt while keeping their hands in their pockets) and watching a bunch of Mike Tyson videos Ippo decides that he wants to box professionally too.


Surprisingly, Takamura is a bit pissed off about this because he thinks Ippo is taking the sport very lightly. With tears in his eyes, Ippo asks, "Takamura, what does it mean to be strong?" From there Ippo meets his rival, Miyata and the series is ultimately building up to a super huge mega big time ultra super smash hit gigantic hella mega fight between the two.


Twenty years later, that answer still eludes our hero even though in the manga he's only aged maybe six or seven years.


This is an anime geared towards men and has testosterone dripping from almost every page. If the characters aren't fighting, they're preparing for a match and if they're not doing that then Takamura is making a joke about (and thereby grabbing) Ippo's penis.


Seriously, this series has more dick jokes than a Kevin Smith film festival. And you'd be surprised the number of time that someone makes reference to Ippo's massize Schweitzer-like dick. It almost becomes a plot point. What's even stranger is that sometimes Ippo acts like he wants to use his Schweitzer-schlong on Miyata than Kumi, the girl everybody keeps trying to get him to date.

Why are you picturing Miyata shirtless? GIRLS, Ippo! Boys kiss GIRLS!!!

I've watched the first anime series which ran from 2000 until 2002 which was a few years before I got interested in boxing. It took me a long time until I found the English dub for it since reading subtitles can be a bit annoying. However that quickly changed when I noticed how atrociously ass the dub is. The voice actors sound all wrong, and the dialogue is totally changed around to the point where it's almost geared to kids aged 10-12. If you're going to take an anime where at one point Takamura looks in awe at the size of the crap he takes and try to gear it towards pre-teens then you're heading toward Boba Fett levels of pathetic.

Takamura does not like any comparisons to Boba Fett


What also sucks about the anime series is that there is no mention at all of Mike Tyson. In the manga, Ippo watches a Tyson highlight video and that starts his boxing adventure. Here, he just watches some unknowns and it's lame. Granted, Tyson had just lost the title by the time this manga was published but still, there are lots of similarities between his and Ippo's style of fighting which would have been great for the anime.



However, when the show ended in 2002, the series had barely scratched the surface of Hajime no Ippo. Yes he had won the Japanese Featherweight Title but there were so many great fights and great storylines that had yet to be told on the small screen. However, I knew that the manga was far from over and I could continue to read a new chapter every week.



So you can imagine my shock when a new series, Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger premiered in January of last year. The original Japanese voice actors were all back (aside from a few minor characters) and it had the look and feel of the original series, picking up right where it left off in 2002. And it started out promptly with Takamura grabbing Ippo's massive dick while in the shower.

Uh...did someone put their hentai pics on my blog?


However, all good things don't last forever (I'm talking about New Challenger, not Ippo's free handjob) and the series ended after just 26 episodes. It's not cancelled because it has been revealed that there will be a third season. That's great and all but why do we have to wait so long?


Which brings me to the manga. It's great as I've said but at the same time, it's starting to get a little frustrating. Ippo is at this point, still Japanese champion and ranked by the WBC (World Boxing Commission) yet in almost every fight lately he seems to be getting the shit beat out of him when he shouldn't be. I mentioned earlier how his fighting style is similar to Mike Tyson's but at the moment he seems to be getting spanked just like Tyson did against Lennox Lewis. And the thing is, Tyson had incredible defense in his peak and would hit you twelve times for every shot you missed. However Ippo's defense seems to resemble the late Arturo Gatti, who would block every right hook with left side of his face.


And this is the second fight in a row that this has happened. The one before that was so bad that I think I've actually blocked it from my memory. It also doesn't help that the fights are longer than they were in the beginning of the series.


Mike Tyson gives foreshadowing to the next chapter of 'Hajime no Ippo'.


Hopefully the series does get better and I think the more we get away from Ippo's fights, the better it will get. But if you ever want a good read, Hajime no Ippo is something you should check out. Just don't expect to get it all done in one day. You're going to need a couple of really free weekends to get through this.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What the Fett? (AKA: Boba Fett Sucks!)

"Someone tell me I'm cool...Please?"

I've been a Star Wars fan since I was a little kid and even though my opinion of the prequel series isn't as favourable as it is towards the original movies, I still like to catch them on TV every once in a while.

However, one thing in all my years as a fan has constantly puzzled me: Boba Fett.

I get it, he's supposed to be the best bounty hunter in the galaxy but in all honesty, he just sucks.
I know that this is going to piss some die hard Star Wars fans off but I'm sorry; this guy just sucks.
Let's go over the few scenes we see him in from the first 3 movies (I'm talking about Episodes IV-VI, not the prequels)

Episode IV-A New Hope: Technically he didn't appear in the original Star Wars however in the 1997 remastered release, you can clearly see that he is there in the meeting between Jabba and Han Solo (A scene best left on the cutting room floor). He stands there, does nothing, says nothing, walks off.

And the legend begins!

Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back: In his first scene at the gathering of bounty hunters to find the Millennium Falcon, we see that Vader has to remind Fett in particular, "No disintegrations."
And when he says that he's pointing a finger at him like he's saying, "Stop killing the people you're being paid to capture!"
He's a bounty and he needs to be reminded, "Don't kill the people I'm paying you to capture and hand over to me so I can get information out of them."

We then see that he later easily finds the Millennium Falcon (Yeah, how did his ship get in that garbage pile anyway? Did he just go up to the Star Destroyer captain and say, "Could you put my ship in the garbage?")
And instead of attacking the Millennium Falcon and using a tractor beam to take it back to the Empire, the stuff an educated bounty hunter would do, he just decides to follow them.
Never saw Dog do that.

He later shows up when our heroes discover (Cue Admiral Ackbar) IT'S A TRAP!!! Fett bursts onto the scene by flying out on his jetpack, blasts Chewie a couple dozen times, beats the shit out of Han and breaks Leia's legs-oh wait, no he doesn't. He just comes from behind a corner and stands there after Vader does cool stuff like catching blaster bolts with his hand.

So far, all we've seen him do is either walk, be stationary, get reminded how to do his job only to not do it when he has a great opportunity, and then stand there some more.

Again, why is he popular?

So later we see that when Han's being tortured Boba Fett reveals, "He (Solo) is no good to me dead", showing that he learned something from the words of Darth Vader. And from that point he just follows Vader to the elevator.

DO SOMETHING!!! YOU HAVE A GOD-DAMN JETPACK AND A BIG ASS BLASTER. SHOOT ONE OF THOSE MIDGETS RUNNING AROUND THE CARBONITE ROOM!!!!

Ahem.

So later when Han is being frozen in carbonite, Fett again is bitching about the health of capture. Again, all those short aliens around and he's not even going to kick one? Yeah, best bounty hunter in the galaxy my ass.

From there, Fett starts to take Solo to his ship when all of a sudden Luke Skywalker starts sneaking up. Just when Luke's about to get close, Fett appears from around a corner and starts shooting at him.

Fuck yeah. Here we go. Took a while to get started, but now we're gonna see some cool lightsaber vs blaster action where Fett holds his own and leads Luke into the trap set by Vader. Awesome!

Oh wait, that didn't happen either. Instead he just shoots a couple times and...runs away a bitch.

Deciding that shooting a couple of times is enough action for him in this movie, Fett decides to depart with the famous line of, "Put Captain Solo in the cargo hold."

And then he flies off where he'll probably continue to do nothing off screen.

Episode VI-Return of the Jedi: OK, last movie. I can do this. I can do this.

We're in Jabba's palace. It's quite the gathering of other species and Fett just decides to stand in the corner. Cause that's what badasses do.

However if you want to go by what happens in the Special Edition, during that shitty overextended scene of the alien band doing their song (What was so bad with the original?), let's do that too. For a brief second we see Fett doing what he does best.
Walking.
Then standing in a corner.

Please explain to me why he's so popular again?

So later Leia shows up disguised as a bounty hunter. A good one since she "captured" Chewbacca and actually has him as her prisoner. You know what, stunt or not, she's shown more effort than Fett. Fett needed the Empire to help capture Solo and the others. Leia's bounty hunter character did it on her own.

Leia: 1
Fett: -1 (Yeah, you go into the negatives, that's how much you suck)

In the special edition there's also a scene where Fett briefly flirts with a dancer by cupping her chin, pulling off his greatest feat ever by impersonating a heterosexual.

So when Leia pretends to be upset about what she'll be paid for Chewie, she threatens to blow them all up with a thermal detonator.

OK, that's cool. Leia's bounty hunter is sending a clear message: "Give me what I want or I'll kill us all. I don't give a fuck."

That's cool. Take notes, Boba.

So yeah, Fett pulls out his gun (Why not just shoot her if you're so cool?) and then puts it away when Jabba and Leia come to an agreement on the price.

Fett then nods to Leia because he knows that in her (and everyone else's eyes), he is a pussy.

Later Fett decides to stick close to Jabba when Luke arrives. Very protective of a fat, ugly slug, aren't you Boba? But in all fairness, it's still a lot of nothing he's doing.

So when Luke uses the Force to get a gun in his hand, Fett does the only logical thing and shoots Luke in the face. Skywalker's corpse is fed to the Rancor and Fett takes Princess Leia and her skimpy bikini back to his bedroom where they have hot monkey sex for 1000 years.

Oh wait, that doesn't happen either. (Why do I keep doing that?) Instead Fett continues to stand there.

DO SOMETHING!!!!

Hey, I think my wish has been granted. It's the Sarlaac scene and Luke has turned the tables on Jabba, turning their execution into a daring escape. Well, Boba Fett won't stand for that. He takes off on his jetpack ("Finally, an opportunity to use this!") and lands right in front of Luke so he can get his blaster chopped in half before he even has a chance to fire and it knocks him down.

Excuse me, I need Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation to express how I feel about what just happened.


It may be a facepalm, but it's cooler than anything Boba Fett ever did


First off, why not use that jetpack to fly around and blast the fuck out of Skywalker and pals at the same time? Doesn't he know that a moving target is harder to hit (or chop in Luke's case) than a stationary one (ie. One that lands two feet in front of you!)

So since he can't shoot Luke, Fett declares, "You are fit to be tied up! Because everyone knows that a lightsaber can't cut through rope!"
It does and it knocks down Fett again-much harder than last time.
Captain, your assistance, please?

Thank you.

So after looking like a complete douche twice in ten seconds, Boba Fett decides to try and shoot Luke with something he's got on his wrist. You know, that probably would have worked better than the rope, idiot!

However his plans are thwarted when a blind guy sets off his jetpack by accident, sending him into the sail barge and into the mouth of the Sarlaac.

Yeah, the best bounty hunter in the galaxy got taken out by a blind guy...on accident.

And for some reason that final act of being a pussy solidified his legacy among Star Wars fans as one of the greatest characters ever. However not even the Sarlaac could keep Fett out of the Star Wars universe since he's been resurrected in paperback form.

Have not read any of those books and I don't plan on it.

Boba Fett is overrated. The only reason people can have for liking him is because his Mandalorian armour looks cool and it does. That's it. He's a pussy, the worst bounty hunter in the galaxy and rivals Jar-Jar in terms of uselessness.

Yeah, I went there.