The Cyber Boxing Zone Journal
A/K/A The America Online Boxing Newsletter
Whitaker/Pestriaev-- Quartey/Lopez Report
This has definitely been the worst year for fights I can remember. Back in January, who would have believed that the contenders for fight of the year would be Tszyu-Phillips & Gatti-Ruelas? The only other fight that could possibly be included would be Zaragosa-McCullough.
Last night did not provide any contenders for fight of the year.
DscribeDC provides a jaundiced view of last night's lash-ups so I won't go into any detail, but I do have one question: Where The hell does the WBA find these spurious number one contenders???!
The large white shadow they foisted on the public as their #1 welterweight contender was a freakin' disgrace! In the old days, the WBA with it's Venezuelan home base, at least provided Latino fighters who came to fight. They weren't any good either, but at least they gave the false impression that they were real fighters.
The Russian's promoters must have really lined the coffers of the WBA treasury for them to attempt to flimflam us into believing the guy could actually fight & should be rated # 1 ... His last fight, almost a year ago was against a fighter who had been knocked out in his six previous fights!
To put it another way, I'm a hard core fight fan ... & I never heard of the guy before last night.
Oy Vey ...
AN EXPERT IN FINE WHINE ASKS: "WHY DOES IT HURT WHEN I PEA?"
Ike Quartey-Jose Luis Lopez/Pernell Whitaker-Andrei Pestriaev October 17, 1997, Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, CT HBO
by DscribeDCI'll be the first to give Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker his due as an all-time Hall of Fame champion. No, I guess Pernell would be the first to give Pernell his due. And Roy Jones, Jr. would be second. But I would definitely be in the top five (especially if the WBA was doing the ranking and I had some spare dosh in a Venezualan bank account). Still, after such a wonderful career -- four world titles, a legend as a pre-eminent stylist, victories over Nelson, Chavez (c'mon, admit it), Haugen, McGirt twice, etc. etc. -- why does Whitaker have to ruin his legacy now by turning in listless performances, boasting like a bottom-of-the-card chump and whining incessantly when things don't go his way? I've gotten to the point where I truly hate to see the man fight. It embarrasses me. And, worst of all, I find myself rooting for him to get beat. At least I WOULD root for him to get beat if any of his recent non-PPV opponents were anywhere in the Real World Top 1,000.
The Rivera and Hurtado debacles were bad enough. What was this nonsense tonight? Maybe Whitaker couldn't be faulted for stepping into the ring with (yet another) obscenely overrated WBA "contender," a gangly Russian hockey player named Andrei Pestriaev, if he was treating the bout as a true title eliminator and intended to fight Ike Quartey next year, but we know how likely that fight is. We'd be more likely to see him fight Ike Turner next year. As for Pestriaev, do you know how he'll best be remembered? "What 1990s welterweight's name featured the most consecutive vowels?" Write it down, it could come in handy in your local tavern someday.
Pea was really classically obnoxious before this one, bitching about being treated like a support attraction, crowing about how "all his fans" couldn't wait to see him perform, etc. Whitaker, whose skills have so sadly diminished since the glory days and whose near-crashes have become one of HBO's staple dramas, easily toyed with Pestriaev, a star-struck near-novice who seemed to take six rounds just to believe he belonged on the card. Pea waltzed him around and tactically perplexed him at will, spinning him and ending up behind him so often they looked like partners in a Catskills conga line, and punctuating his fistic dominance with the occasional hard left hook. Well, hard for Whitaker, that is.
To his credit, the Russian Bare made a sincere effort, but his straight-up, lank-armed style was no match for the compact and still mobile and ring-wise Whitaker. As always, Pea gave his dwindling fan base a workmanlike but eminently dull performance, so painful to watch that even Larry Merchant quipped about not wanting to see the final rounds. And Pernell managed to even spoil a fight that was MERELY boring by sticking his head through the ropes (did he want to get a closer look at some hot Mashantucket cigarette girls?), clowning in his particularly obnoxious and poignantly sad way, and talking trash with referee Joe Santa. (Had Pea tried such blowhard tactics with the measure of all referees, Mills Lane, he clearly would have gone home on the short end of a DQ. Guess a good little boy got a gift from Santa...)
Of course, by fight's end, a decision firmly locked away, Pea had to moan about fighting both his opponent and the ref, brag n' boast about how his wonderful fight would surely frighten Oscar De La Hoya from a rematch, and generally cheapen an already-cheap spectacle.
I really liked the part where the other Acaries brother, looking sort of like a French Bob Arum, stepped all over Mike Buffer's lines waving and pointing at those scorecards. Nice try, but you would have needed a much better actor -- I hear Depardieu has some open dates -- to convince anyone that the Pest-man took this bout. Still...what were all those x-outs on the scorecard? That thing was more hacked up than GorDoom's SAT answer sheet... As if winning 115-113 against an untested and overmatched Russian clubfighter wasn't embarrassing enough, could the judge's scores have been even CLOSER than reported? Could they have been doctored to save Pea from further televised embarrassment? Did the WBA's ringside supervisor become distracted by a really hot game of Triple Yahtzee? Who knows? More to the point, who cares?
The whole affair was a stinker from beginning to end. The opponent was a stiff who deserved #1 rating, the way Iowa State deserves a #1 rating, Pea's performance was mediocre at best and his antics threatened to turn a bad fight into a travesty. The outcome was never in doubt, but whether I could sit still for another Whit-ducker distance drag was. But the Whine Merchant did announce he will have only one fight in 1998 and that, at least, will give his remaining "fans" something to cheer about.
Let's face it. As the reflexes, speed and skill decrease, the volume level increases. That's the sad truth of Sweet Pea's final years. Maybe they can engrave words to that effect on his plaque at Canastota.
(And, while we're on the subject, I'm tired of hearing about the De La Hoya tilt. Oscar won. I saw it that way, the judges saw it that way... Let's face it, if some media-savvy braggart had been in Pestriaev's corner, had had access to all the major networks and had screeched long enough and loud enough, he could have gotten some of the chuckleheads in the boxing community to believe Andrei had won THIS fight. Whitaker's campaign to rewrite history is a lot of hot air and I applaud Oscar for not getting sucked into a pointless debate. He's got the W and the satisfaction. At this point, all Whitaker got from the De La Hoya fight were a big check, a bruised ego and a windmill to tilt at. He's right, though, the fans DO know who really won, which is why you hear exactly no one calling for a rematch. No matter how slick your defense is, you don't win fights without scoring punches. When Lou Duva -- who's still yelling that the Spanish Armada got a bum decision -- goes against you, you know it's time for a reality check. Case (hopefully) closed.)
I had similar thoughts about Jose Luis Lopez vs. Ike Quartey, a fight that was billed as a war, but turned into the boxing equivalent of a "Chopsticks" recital. JabJabJabJabJabJabJabJabJabJab...Get the picture? Neither did Lopez, who planted his face on the end of Quartey's mitt for the better part of ten rounds like it had been painted there and rarely mounted anything resembling a sustained offensive charge. In the third round, the Mexican landed TWO, which is a great result for NASA, but a pathetic one for a world title challenger. This fight was unusual in that it had not one, but two losers: Lopez, who was outboxed for the duration and was shown up as a lousy finisher when he did have Quartey in trouble in Round 11; and Quartey, the Man of Granite whose three minutes doing the Blacklight Boogie on Queer Street are the only moments of this snoozer that casual boxing fans (you remember them...the ones who make million dollar paydays?) are going to remember about his majority decision win. No, make that four losers. I almost forgot myself and whoever the gazoon was who had that lopsided lash-up a draw. (It's a little like calling Marv Albert's sodomy trial a "draw" just because they didn't have videotape.)
Man, wasn't there anything else on TV tonight? Anything? "Madeline Albright's Swimsuit Video?" "The Making of The Making of The Peacemaker?" "The Dallas Cowboys Greatest Field Goals 1997?" HBO, which once proudly stood for Home Box Office, tonight was merely an Horrendously Boring Ordeal.
10.18.97 [Return to Top]
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