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Pacquiao-Bradley Preview

I used to be a regular churchgoer. There were the years of my childhood, where Mama BockerKnocker would dress me in Sunday best, dragging me to Mass against my will. But there was also a period of time where I went on my own. I was never a superfreak about it, but for one hour every week, life slowed down to a stress-free pace. I couldn’t say no to that.

Fast forward to the real world today, and I just can’t bring myself to lose that precious hour of sleep, which is necessary due to the robbery that weekdays pull on me. 4 Sundays per month became 3, then 2, then 1, and now I’m one of those phonies that attend on Easter and Christmas only.

Manny Pacquiao has taken the opposite route. Before, he carried himself with God, but only as part of his exterior. These days, Manny leads church groups, quotes Bible verses, and declares that the “old Manny” is gone.

Pacquiao says that he hates who he was. The drinking, the smoking, and the gambling fueled a lifestyle that was all too common for an international superstar athlete. And of course, the trim that came with it made its mark as well. While Ms. Pacman tended to the home life like a typical Filipina, Manny ran roughshod through tons and tons of women.

The only problem, if you’ll allow me to call it that, was that the “old Manny” was the first boxer to win world championships in EIGHT divisions. Pac combined lightning-quick speed with the punching power of men twice his size. Diaz, De La Hoya, Hatton, Cotto, Clottey, Margarito, Mosley: all lost to The Fighting Pride of the Philippines in blowout fashion.

But then came Juan Manuel Marquez. It has come out recently that Jinkee Pacquiao discovered her husband’s talents outside of the ring during Pacquiao’s training camp for Marquez. Jinkee makes a cautious, but ultimately unsuccessful, attempt at hiding it during HBO’s 24/7 series, speaking many times about marriage troubles leading up to the Marquez fight. Like any human being would be, the champion was a battered man heading into Pacquiao-Marquez III, and Marquez made him pay for it. Pacquiao won, but not in the court of public opinion.

The seven fighters I mentioned two paragraphs ago fought against a different Manny Pacquiao. That Pacquiao was a force of nature. That Pacquiao would run through Blinky, Pinky, and Inky themselves, without the use of power pellets. That Pacquiao put fear into those 7.

The “new Manny” now lives with the fear of God in his heart, as an upstanding, devout Roman Catholic. I wouldn’t dare criticize such a life choice, but I am nonetheless scared. Does Manny really want this as much? He’s got his politician life begging him to come home for good, a family life that is being born right in front of his eyes, and a boxing life that is undoubtedly nearing its end.

Standing upright in the opposite corner, Timothy “Desert Storm”[1] Bradley will convince you in two seconds that he wants to win this fight more than Manny does. Bradley has faced 29 opponents to date, 29 men who have tried and failed to put a blemish on Bradley’s professional record. When HBO filmed Bradley jogging in the dead of night, Bradley put both eyes squarely on the camera, and had a message. The whole episode is tremendous, but fast-forward to 19:54 for what I’m talking about:

Bradley cares. He goes to the gym and calls it his place of work. He doesn’t do any extracurricular activities besides tending to his wife and children. Every free second away from his family is spent in workout gear, without … Read more...

Mayweather vs. Cotto Preview

(It’s BockerKnocker coming to you live from the United Club at Newark Airport! Yeah that’s right. I’m sneaky bougie)

Floyd Mayweather really grinds my gears. But when I really think about it, maybe he was right when he told Larry Merchant that he “never gets a fair shake.”

Mayweather does a lot of things wrong. He willingly burns Ben Franklins in public, showing apathy for a denomination of currency at which even yours truly would never scoff. He displays ignorance by intentionally mispronouncing Manny Pacquiao’s name and throwing jabs at Filipino culture. And he has the sportsmanship of the kid in youth rec leagues who would spit in his hands before shaking yours in the post game lineup.

But amazingly, I can find some ways to relate to and appreciate the guy.

If you’ve caught any of Floyd’s appearances on HBO’s 24/7 series — either for tomorrow night’s Cotto fight or really, any of his past fights — you’ll quickly realize that he is a bona fide superstar. Two weeks ago, he literally questioned 24/7 producers why they would even film anybody else but him and his entourage, appropriately or inappropriately named “The Money Team.”

What turns people, including me oftentimes, off, is how he carries his celebrity. But how many of us would flaunt our stardom given the chance? I certainly would. Maybe not to Pretty Boy Floyd’s extent, but you better believe that I would make my entrances grand and my swag imposing. I probably do that already, much to my friends’ chagrin.

And I haven’t even spoken about the man’s talent in the ring. He has boxed for a couple of decades without a blemish on his record. He doesn’t just beat his opponents…he BEATS his opponents. He fights with a defensive style that no other man has been able to break, which allows him to counter the inevitable mistakes that his opponent will make.

Miguel Cotto is no different than those who have become a mere notch on PBF’s belt. He has two losses to date, one to Pacquiao and another to Antonio Margarito. And even though Mayweather doesn’t hold those against Cotto (According to Floyd, Cotto fought PacMan at a “catch” weight, which means that Cotto weighed in at a level that he was not used to fighting. Additionally, much of the boxing world absolves Cotto of his other loss, due to Margarito allegedly using illegal wraps.), Cotto is a bit overmatched. He is quick, but he’s not Floyd quick. Strong, but not Floyd strong. Athletic, but…you get the picture.

A Mayweather fight is always a good fight; the man likes to put on a show, regardless of how high the odds of winning are in his favor. The prediction? Floyd by TKO in the 9th.… Read more...

You Guys Missed A Hockey Game On Monday

The smart money here says that BockerKnocker’s biggest moment of sports-centric anxiety on Jan. 2 came when the New York Knicks suffered an awful early-season home loss to the immortal Toronto Raptors, a franchise whose claim to fame is Vince Carter winning the 2000 Slam Dunk Competition, those stupid head bands they all wore in the first round of the 2001 playoffs and that Isiah Thomas didn’t completely destroy that franchise for the next decade.

Frankly, you’d think Steven Spielberg could have made their nearly 20-year history more dramatic by now.

It is worth noting however, that the Bockers’ unfortunate loss to Toronto came after what was really the top sporting event of the day, at least for New Yorkers. Sure the Rose Bowl wasn’t bad, and the Fiesta Bowl was entertaining, too, but I enjoy sporting events that don’t end because of spiking a football after the clock hits zero and a kicker missing two game-winning field goals.

We celebrate achievement, not ineptitude.

This is where the 2012 Winter Classic comes in. Even if we want to put aside the awesome and historic atmosphere and history that comes with having an annual outdoor hockey game, though this, admittedly, is hard to do, what we had Monday night was a game that had everything. Excitement, physicality, drama, rivalry, back-and-forth action up and down the ice, picturesque snowfall — anything the NHL could have hoped for it got Monday afternoon when the Rangers rallied from a two-goal deficit to upend the Flyers at Citizens Bank park.

In many ways, the NHL got the game it was hoping for a year ago when the League leveraged every ounce of sex appeal it had in the 2011 Classic at Heinz Field, pitting Pittsburgh and Washington against one another in hopes to showcase the personal rivalry between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, arguably the two biggest stars and best players in the game. Mother nature didn’t cooperate that night, bringing unseasonably warm rain that forced the game’s faceoff to be delayed until the evening and created ice conditions that were acceptable but far from ideal.

This time around, despite the a slight two-hour delay in puck drop, we had an ideal setting, an even better game and even a little controversy before and after on both sides. The Flyers mixed things up by robbing us of seeing Ilya Bryzgalov pontificate on the universe mid-game when Bryz himself revealed during a press conference that backup Sergei Bobrovsky would be getting the start. On the side of the Rangers, head coach John Tortorella turned some heads when he intimated that the games dramatic final minute was perhaps orchestrated by the refs and American broadcaster NBC in hopes of pumping up ratings, a suggestion that is both ludicrous and almost certain to earn the coach a hefty fine — though it should be noted he apologized Wednesday.

And just what was so dramatic about that final minute you ask?

So glad you did. See in hockey a defensive player is allowed to hand pass the puck forward if he is in his own zone, but he is not under any circumstances allowed to cover the puck up intentionally with his hands. And if any player other than a goalie does that in his team’s crease, well that results in a penalty shot, the single most dramatic moment in hockey. And what’s the most dramatic way to have the single most dramatic moment in hockey? Probably a potential game-tying penalty shot in the final 30 seconds of the NHL’s biggest regular season event. Unfortunately for the Rangers, with 19.6 seconds left and the Flye… Read more...

Mambino Does Hockey?

The closest I came to writing about hockey was a post about the kid who netted a shot from center ice, only to have his prize money taken away from him. The NHL requires some actual knowledge about hockey, and maybe about Canadatoo, two things I don’t particularly care for. Therefore, enjoy this guest post from my buddy Pucklius (He has a nickname that we all know and love him by, but if I were to repeat it here, I wouldn’t be breathing tomorrow morning). It’s a preview of tonight’s 24/7 – Road to the Winter Classic on HBO. HBO does some fine work with this stuff — Hard Knocks and the 24/7 Boxing series are as good as it gets. Personally, I wouldn’t have cared to check this out tonight, but now I feel morally obliged. A small victory for the NHL in its never-ending pursuit to attract more fans.
Oh, and the guy went a little overboard with the youtube links, but some of them are actually pretty epic.

Hey kids. For those of you who have been coming to The Great Mambino to see what Dwight Howard’s choice of sandwich today says about where Orlandois going to ship him, I have some mild disappointment for you. That’s probably going to be the last basketball reference I make today because one of the administrators of this fine site has approached me to whip up something about hockey.
See, I like hockey. It’s cool.

And I’m not even talking about literally, which, if you’ve ever covered a morning skate in an empty arena, you know is definitely true. No, I’m talking about the kind of cool where you see totally bonkers forehand/backhand diving scores in the rookie game, indescribable on-ice blunders, or maybe some dazzling passing by some Swedish twins. It’s that kind of stuff that makes it the coolest game on Earth after all.

As a result of this fandom, I watch hockey. A lot of it. Like, way more than the daily recommended amount. I’m not sure I’d expect all of you to watch as much as I do, least of all the progenitors of this blog, you should know that it’s not too late to get yourself in the game, and tonight HBO just might be providing your gateway drug. That’s because tonight will be their second annual forage into hockey with its premiere of
24/7 Rangers-Flyers Road

to the Winter Classic.

For those of you who don’t remember, HBO did this series for the first time last year, when the League was poised to pit its two biggest stars, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, against one another. While most of the spotlight was initially intended to be on them, the two who really made the biggest impact were cerebral Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma and the then-head coach of the Capitals Bruce Boudreau, who recently endured the shortest unemployment in NHL history. Even if Boudreau wins seven Stanley Cups in a row in his new Anaheimgig, however, he will almost certainly be remembered most for his tendency to, as Lewis Black might put it, use “fuck” less as a word than a comma. This, it should be noted, did not sit well with his mother.

But what makes this show amazing isn’t just the amusing swears or close up camera work. Last season it gave fans a keen insight into the people who make the game, from how players, even superstars, talk on the ice, to the way the refs handle and encourage a fight, to penalties for losing shootouts in practice, to rookie pranks, to Boudreau’s anxiety about getting his wife a Christmas present, and perhaps most remarkably, into the refs’ locker room during their postgame beer.

The access granted and the view int

Who’s ya Daddy, Floyd

One of the earliest memories I have from my childhood took place during a normal East Coast winter. I was riding in a sled with my little brother down the relatively steep slope of my backyard. Obviously, sledding is the tits, but the experience was truly fun because of the man who was pulling the sled down. That dude was my dad.
Everyone who grew up with well-balanced parents knows that it’s not just about putting a roof over one’s head or food on the table. It’s more about cheering the children on at athletic events, bonding during super long road trips, and most importantly, teaching life lessons that could never be learned in a classroom.
Last night, Floyd Mayweather extended his undefeated streak with a knockout win over Victor Ortiz. If you haven’t witnessed the mayhem, I’ll try to be succinct. Ortiz landed a headbutt in the midst of his first successful flurry of punches against Mayweather. During the delay in which the referee was required to deduct a point from Ortiz, Ortiz profusely apologized to Floyd for his actions. As he was doing so, Floyd landed two consecutive blows to Ortiz’s face. The referee, who had seemingly lost control of the situation, stopped the fight and Floyd raised his arms in celebration of his 42nd victory.
I’m certainly not the only one who had to shower after Floyd’s dirt came through my television and stained my clothes. Google “Mayweather” and one of the suggestion options will finish with the phrase “cheap shot.” However, multiple reports have stressed that the referee did in fact call time in. Even more people blame Ortiz for being too apologetic, declaring that “the first rule of boxing is to always put your hands up.” Regardless of what really happened, this fight will taint Floyd Mayweather’s legacy forever. A real champion acts with class. Not only does a real champion win the right way, but a real champion wants to win the right way.
Let’s backtrack to the weeks leading up to the fight, when Floyd had yet another public outburst with his father. Looking straight into the camera with an undeniably outstanding poker face, Floyd remarked, “I don’t need my father.”
How fitting. With that one statement, Floyd told the world that he really does need his father. A good father would never have let this happen.… Read more...