The Boxing Diary

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Emanuel 'Manny' Steward: My Ten bells

Emanuel ‘Manny’ Steward an inductee of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame, and the World Boxing Hall of Fame pass away at the age of 68. The boxing world loses one of boxing great stewards.

Steward was also a boxing analyst and commentator of HBO. He trained more than 40 champions throughout his career. Notable boxer that he used to train was Thomas Hearns.

Steward was also a boxer having 97 total fights and won 94 with only 3 losses.

It is hard to imagine that this year alone we lost two boxing legends—Bert Sugar in March and yesterday Emanuel Steward.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Azkals vs. Al Azraq: Three things to note

On Tuesday I sat on the Kuwait Sports Club bleacher in Kaifan, watching Azkals to exact revenge against their FIFA World Cup Qualifier tormentor—Al Azraq (The Blue Team)—Kuwait's national football team. But Azkals was again routed by the mighty Kuwaitis 1-2. You may find my article of the game here.

I note several things during the game that I try to streamline into three. I am no expert about this sport but to compare the previous game in July 2011 and on Tuesday's game is a 'no brainer'. So, I just put my observations in simple words without much of football’s terminology.
Speed and superior ball handling skills
It was the same speed and superior ball handling skills that lifted the Kuwaitis to victory. 'Speed kills' as what they said. I saw how a Kuwait striker outrunning Angel Guirado in the flank that suppose to be an all alone attack towards the goal while Kuwaiti defenders advanced deep down the midfield leaving their goal keeper alone. There were several opportunities for the Azkals that were defended well by the Kuwaitis utilizing their speed.

Midfield control
Azkals made great improvement in controlling the middle. In their first encounter in July 2011—Azkals was scoreless and very weak in the middle. The Kuwaitis took a lot of ball possession from the middle either from intercepting a pass or a steal. It is reported that Azkals control 44% of the ball during the game compare to a very low percentage last year. In this game I am impressed how Azkals was able to minimized steals. Take a look at the video below for one of the most notable play (aside from goals of course) that I took.

Very few Filipinos
Last year it was reported that around 15,000 chanting Filipinos showed up to support Azkals and I agree with that. I was not able to get in that time through the gate instead I jump off the fence. Personnel that controls the gates were pretty fucked up by the large number of Pinoys, including me that wanted to get in. The fact that Qadsiya Stadium is even bigger than Kaifan stadium but it is really full.

However last Tuesday’s game was the opposite. The stadium was smaller but the Filipinos were very few that it looks empty especially the opposite side. The total spectators, I believed not even occupied one fourth of the stadium. I feel maybe because of the following;

•    Azkals were not as popular.
•    The match was not well-promoted.
•    The match was held during midweek.

In your opinion why the Azkals did not gain the same support from the Filipinos in Kuwait like last time? Feel free to leave your answer/s in the comment box below.

Here some action photos during the FIFA sanction friendly match.

Both Teams warming up

Opening Ceremony

Opposite of my location that looks empty

The handshake

Al Azraq indirect free-kick

Knockout Kuwaiti baller

Group hug before second half kicks-off

Younghusband takes the penalty kick

Jubilant Pinoy's after Azkals scores the equalizer

Young Azkal fans

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Azkals fails revenge: Kuwait wins friendlies, 2-1


The Philippine Football National team Azkals failed to avenge their FIFA World Cup Qualifier tormentor—Al Azraq—Kuwait’s National Football team during their FIFA sanction friendly match in Kuwait Sports Club in Kaifan. The speed and superior ball handling skills was Kuwait’s main weapon to edged Azkal into a 2-1 victory.
Neil Etheridge, Azkal goalkeeper made an excellent saves to deny Kuwait early assault in the 6th, 7th and 22nd minute of the first half. The Filipino fans were on their feet for every successful catch Etheridge did for the Azkals. In the 27th minute Guirado gave up a tackle in the penalty area enabling Bader Al Mutwa for the penalty kick but again Etheridge defended it well.

However, Etheridge good start was short lived when a Kuwaiti striker slip in the first goal to their advantage in the 35th minute of regulations first half that silenced the Filipino fans.

The silenced Filipino fans after Kuwait's first goal
It is very evident that Al Azraq’s game plan was to attack and attack Azkals in the early going that resulted to three unsuccessful attempts, a penalty kick and a goal in the first half alone.

In the second half, Azkals is under pressure to score a goal to equalize the game and be back in the drawing board. Azkals pressed the action and awarded a penalty kick after a handball.

Younghusband took the penalty kick and sunk it in after a helpless Kuwaiti goalkeeper. The Filipino fans gone wild and was up on their feet once again chanting Azkals! Azkals! Azkals!

Jubilant fans after the penalty kick
However, the desired draw for the Azkals was again denied by the Kuwaitis when Al Enezi made a penalty kick that was awarded to them in a penalty call that Etheridge failed to defend. The Kuwaitis cruised to a 2-1 victory.

Etheridge tweeted after the game,
“Hard game... But the team played well, another day maybe a better result but overall we did well. Let's keep improving”.
In my next post I will try to breakdown my observation and assessment of the game and more photos. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Azkals vs. Al Azraq: Azkals returns in Kuwait to face World Cup Qualifier tormentor

The Philippine Azkals is in Kuwait for a friendly match against Kuwait National Team Al Azraq tomorrow, October 16, 2012 at Kuwait Sports Club Stadium in Kaifan. According to a report of Michelle Fe Santiago from Arab Times, the friendly match will kick-off at 6:50 pm. Tickets are available at the stadium box office and priced at KD 1, KD 2 and KD 3.

On July 2011, Philippine Azkals was denied by Kuwait National Team on their hope for the 2014 FIFA world Cup in a home and away series. The mighty Kuwaitis crushed Azkals, 3-0 on that night in the eyes of 15,000 strong Filipino supporters in Kuwait. While in the Philippines, Kuwait scored 2 goals against 1 earning a 5-1 aggregate to advance in the third round. Kuwait was then defeated by South Koreans in the third round.

In a tweet from Neil Etheridge at 3:27 pm today, it seems that they are headed for training and is happy for the weather in Kuwait which is 30 degrees at that time. Azkals was enduring around 40 degrees heat last year that might have a dramatic effect on their performance.

In this match Azkals wanted revenge on their tormentor and will give a competitive game. Azkals have new players like Matthew Uy, Demet Omphroy, and striker Denis Wolf who scored a hat trick—three goals in one game, during the Peace Cup.

Goal keeper Neil Etheridge and the Younghusband brothers—Phil and James will also rejoin Team Azkals after missing the Peace Cup which the team was the champion.

According to their Coach Michael Weiss they wanted keep their defense up and to at least secure a scoreless draw. But they train to win.

Azkals held a much higher ranked Bahrain on a scoreless draw on Friday. Azkal vs. Kuwait friendly match is the final leg of Middle East matches for Azkals preparation for the Suzuki Cup in November.

In feel that this game was not as hyped as last time but I still expect a lot of support from the Filipinos in Kuwait and count me in too because I will be there. See you all in Kaifan Pinoys in Kuwait.

Guys what is your take on this game? Do you believe the Azkals will win this time? Feel free to leave your comment below.

Update16 October 2012 at 10PM: The Kuwaiti National Team 'Al Azraq' wins against Team Azkals 2-1 moments ago at Kuwait Sports Club Stadium in Kaifan. The mighty Kuwaitis showed once again their superior ball handling skills and a whole lot faster than the Azkals.

(I will be posting my piece along with some photos of the action soon, stay tuned.)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Donaire stops Nishioka in Round 9, retains title

Photo via Google Images

Nonito ”The Filipino Flash”once again dominated opponent now in Toshiaki Nishioka and eventually knocked him out in round nine. Nonito was clearly in control in the early going of the fight. He was fast and as I expect a whole lot stronger in the third time at 122 pounds.

Nishioka showed that he aged and was not able to catch-up the phase of Donaire and was very cautious. Nishioka had a very high respect of Donaire's left hook—he pasted his right hand to his right chin—sacrificing his right jab and as a result he can’t also throw his left straight.

A hesitant Nishioka in the early rounds made the fans booed—it is evident that the crowd was looking for the same action between Rios and Alvarado. The referee yells at him to box—this is boxing not dancing.

Donaire continue what he does best in the early rounds, looking only to counter and patiently waiting for opening. But Nishioka refused to engage and was still hiding in his shell just faking his punches but not throwing anything. The impatient crowd of Carson California increased the volume of boos.

Nishioka steps up the gas after Donaire’s left uppercut find his target on his chin and he was down—his ass first to the canvas. The crowd becomes excited but Nishioka stood and continue.

In the beginning I was thinking that Nishioka wanted only to survive because he seemed accepted that Donaire is a different animal. But Nishioka rallied in round nine and looking for his own way to win—to knockout Donaire because he is way behind the scorecards.

However, Nishioka got tagged with a hard straight right counter from Donaire to his mouth and again he trip to canvas—now flat on his back. He stood right away but was so wobbly although the referee allowed him to continue. But after a single punch from the raging Donaire—the referee stopped the fight.

In a quick words Donaire was simply the stronger, faster and younger while Nishoka has aged and rusty due to 11 months of inactivity. With Nishiokas sterling career and at 36, I think it is time to hang his gloves for good

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rios vs. Alvarado: Rios demolishes Alvarado in Round 7

Photo via Google Images
As expected the fight between undefeated fighters Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado was pure fire versus fire from the beginning till the end. Both fighters open fires punches that has brutal intention. Alvarado's punishing uppercuts find its target almost at will at Rios's head and body. While Rios has his left hook landed from the inside. Both brawlers absorb each other punches well—superb conditioning.

However, it is Rios's big right hand—the one that Alvarado did not see coming while he ducked—that hurt and sent him to the ropes. Rios followed up with left right combinations that opted the referee to stop the fight just right in time at 1:57 in Round 7.

In my unofficial scorecards, I've got Alvarado leading four rounds to two. Alvarado was the fighter who try to mix it up. He throws snapping jab from the outside and circle around Rios. His uppercuts was the telling blows before the knockout.

Rios comes straight forward to Alvarado and absorb those crushing uppercuts but he comes back with his own punches. Rios's left hook finding his mark also at Alvarados chin.

The end comes in round 7 when Alvarado was caught by a hard right that hurt him badly, followed by a combination. Alvarado backed to the ropes really wobbly and Rios fired left and right and the referee step in to stop the fight.

I would like a rematch for this fight it was unbelievable fight and ended in a knockout. Unbeleivable fighters that really stood their ground and pleased the knockout hungry fans. In the end it was Alvarado's "O" that go.

This a sure "fight of the year" candidate.

Donaire vs. Nishioka and Rios vs Alvarado double header Live Blog

Round 7 Hard right to the chin Alvarado was hurt. Alvarado was in serious trouble. He was wobbly. Referee stops the fight. Oh my God. Official result 1:57 in round 7. Up next: Donaire vs, Nishioka

Round Six Rios start with a left hook. Again in the inside left hook Rios. Uppercut Alvarado Short crosses Alvarado. Hard right Alvarrado. Rios comes back with body shots. Alvarados round.

Round 5 Alvarado tries to circle around with his jab. Rios closes in with body shots. Back and forth action. Alvarado round for me.

Round 4 Alvarado mix it up from the inside and out. Good uppercut by Alvarado but Rios refuse to backdown. Good body shot for Rios. Nice combo for Alvarado. I got it for Rios.

Round 3 Alvarado try to adjust. Try to jab that snaps Rios head back. Again they fight in the inside. Back and forth dropping bombs. Alvarados uppercut always find his mark. Alvarado got this round.

Round 2 Rois throws crushing left hook that find its target at Alvarados chin that absorbs it, no problem. Alvarado nice uppercut. Rios smiled. Rios counters. I give this round for Alvarado for that telling uppercut. 

Round 1 No sizing made for both fighters. Throwing bombs from the inside no one refuse to back down. Fireworks as expected from this very round. Round could go either way but I got it for Rios

One of the best match up anticipated to be fireworks. Many boxing pundits believed that it will gonna be Gatti vs. Ward. Besides both fighter are undefeated.

Live Rios vs Alvarado Round by round report

Friday, October 12, 2012

Nonito Donaire vs. Toshiaki Nishioka: Prediction/Analysis

Photo via Google Images
Once again I will breakdown my prediction and analysis of the fight between Nonito ‘The Filipino Flash’ and the Japanese super bantamweight champion Toshiaki Nishioka for the WBO world title.

I watch again the fight between Toshiaki Nishioka and Rafael Marquez on replay. I noticed that Nishioka is successful with his right jab, straight left combo that landed in the head and body of Marquez.

Before I go on further let me set the scene on that fight. Marquez is the orthodox while Nishioka is the southpaw fighter. So, Nishioka's lead foot is his right while Marquez is his left. In this kind of matchup the fighter that would create better attacking opportunity is the one that can position his lead foot outside the lead foot of his opponent while throwing his left hand for the lefty and the right hand for the righty in the middle.

Nishioka was the fighter who did this every time he launches attack on Marquez.  Nishioka did this by stepping his lead foot outside Marquez’s lead foot while throwing his right jab followed by his left straight either to Marquez’s body or head and then circle to his right (Marquez’s own left side).

With this move, Nishioka was able to land those punches while evading Marquez's counter right hand which is his power hand. Marquez reacted to this move by pivoting his back foot to the right finding Nishioka towards his left and firing his own punches which is by then Nishioka will disengage smartly, circling away to the opposite direction (clockwise) to let Marquez follow him towards his left.

Then again Nishioka will repeat the same maneuver. To neutralize this move is to throw a counter left hook. Which happen to be the money punch of Donaire.

Therefore, if Nishioka will apply the same tactic to Donaire; he will be eating that left hook all night. However, Donaire must keep his right hand pasted to his right chin because Nishioka’s left also will be there after that right jab. Although the left hook will travel faster, Nishioka will be beaten by the punch.

In Donaires’s previous fight, I saw some flaws that might be seen also in this fight. After he scored a knockdown against Mathebula, he is hunting for that single lights-out-punch that never happen. He become too eager to land that shot and was so impatient. Donaire started to showboat when Mathebula also connects. That only means to me that he is desperate for that knockout. Nishioka may utilize this kind of immaturity to his advantage.

Nishioka is a veteran fighter—experience might be in his side. I expect that Nishioka will adjust his game plan on this fight especially if Donaire’s left hook will start to find its spot. What adjustment he will do is very exciting to watch.

One more thing that interests me also is Donaire’s versatility to switch from right to left stance. One way or the other it will confuse Nishioka.

I see Donaire being too fast and has the skill set to win unanimously in 12 rounds.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nonito Donaire vs. Toshiaki Nishioka: A Pure Tactical Fight

Photo is credited to Boxing

Nonito ‘The Filipino Flash Donaire will share the squared circle with fellow Asian Toshiaki Nishioka 39-4-3(KO 24) in a twelve round championship bout for the WBO and WBC-Diamond Super bantamweight title at the Home Depot Center, Carson, California, USA on Saturday 13 October 2012.

I am personally excited with this fight. Why, because? Donaire 29-1-0 (KO 18) in most of his fight is dominating his opponent. In his fight with Fernando Montiel, one the best at 115 and 118 pound division was knockout cold in just round two. Donaire caught Montiel with his money punch—his left hook.

With Nishioka, for sure Donaire is up for a totally different challenge. Nishioka is a left hander southpaw. He is around boxing for sometime so experience would be on his side although father time may not at 36.

I watched Nishioka on replay against Rafael Marquez. Nishioka dominated Marquez by just doing the basics in footwork. He circles around Marquez in counter clockwise direction with his jab followed by his left straight. He did this with his lead foot (his own right foot) moving forward outside the lead foot of Marquez.

With this movement, Nishioka is circling away from Marquez dominant right hand and throws his left straight. This maneuver of Nishioka gives Marquez difficulty to counter, wherein the best counter for this move is to throw a left hook which happens to be Donaire’s signature punch.

Now this is where the fight is going to be exciting. What will be Nishioka’s adjustment? If he will do the same move against Marquez—he will be eating Donaires left hook all night. Nishioka is known for his durable chin, we will see if how durable it is with Donaire’s power left hook.

Donaire vs. Nishioka is available on HBO PPV.

On Friday I will be posting my prediction of the fight.

Friday, October 5, 2012

IKEA overwhelms United COE, advances to Semis

Al Khalijia School Regai, Kuwait–Home furnishing leader IKEA knockout defending champion United COE in a one sided (perhaps COE's worse defeat ever) season quarterfinal battle of the ongoing Philbacks 8th conference basketball tournament Inter-company division.

IKEA dominates United COE early on the game that keep on sinking points at will under the paint, in the perimeter, and three point areas. United COE has no answer for IKEA’s superior firepower but tries to counter with its usual tough-to-crack defense.

We can recall that IKEA also routed United COE in a very thrilling passion during the elimination round that went into overtime.

In the first quarter, United COE manages to match IKEA in scoring. But IKEA pull it off finishing the first stanza leading with two digits going into the second quarter.

The second quarter becomes too rough for United COE (struggling in every department due to the absence of some key players), with Romy Navarro in foul trouble. IKEA’s shooting started to capitalize and piling up points after points.

The same turns up in the third quarter, IKEA pouring in 20 point lead with the momentum in their side while United COE is under pressure to cut down the lead before entering the final quarter.

In the fourth quarter, United COE executes their best man-to-man defense that cut down the lead to 15 points. In the later minutes, IKEA is in penalty, opting 7th season MVP to attack and attack the basket fishing for foul after foul sinking in eight out ten free throws in this quarter alone.

IKEA sensing a possible rally pound a heartbreaking three-pointer that shut United COE's chance to cut the lead into single digit.

The effort of Romy Navarro and the rest of United COE team is not enough to outlast the more determine and well organize IKEA.

IKEA will advance with the other three teams to the semi-final round.

A quote from IKEA’s Head Coach, referring to their victory and United COE team.

“We win because I am screening too much”… “but for me you are still the best…”.

Here are some photos of the action.

I will update this blog for more action photos.