MUNICH -- The steam poured off Vitali Klitschko's oatmeal, vanishing only after being buried under a pile of fresh fruit and cooled with a splash of skim milk. Eat right, drink right, train right; these are the rules Klitschko has lived by, from his early days as an amateur kickboxer to his current reign as the WBC heavyweight champion. The silver hairs outnumber the dark ones on his head now, but there still isn't an ounce of fat on his 6-foot-7, 243-pound frame.
1. Floyd Mayweather enthralls and frustrates with equal measure. Mayweather remains as dazzling as he's ever been in the ring -- and as exasperating as he's ever been out of it. Such is the maddening duality of the welterweight champion who has never been in serious trouble in any fight, much less been defeated. He outclassed Victor Ortiz in a September title bout -- the best 147-pounder in the world not named Manny Pacquiao -- badly mistreating him with right-hand leads for three rounds before Ortiz saw red and committed a heinous foul. That's when Mayweather took rugged individualism to a new level and flattened his opponent with a one-two combination that Ortiz never saw coming. A cheap shot, but a legal punch. Fans cried foul, but the dearth of protest from within boxing was telling. The Mayweather enigma took a dark turn in December, when he was sentenced to 90 days in jail following his guilty plea on a 2010 domestic violence charge. Who knows what the next 12 months will
Evander Holyfield's resume includes a bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics and victories over all-time greats like Mike Tyson (twice), Riddick Bowe, George Foreman and Larry Holmes. He is the only four-time heavyweight champion in history. A little more than a decade ago, he was one of the 10 most famous athletes on the planet.
It's a pointless speculation, but it might be interesting to wonder just where Joe Frazier would be today without those little run-ins with Muhammad Ali. Well, he'd probably be alive, for one thing. That's a good theory for starters. Word came Monday that Frazier died of liver cancer at 67. Maybe that would have overtaken him in any event. But anybody who saw any of those three fights, particularly the two horrifying bookends of their heroic trilogy, would not be insulting medical opinion if he guessed Ali somehow had a hand in Frazier's ultimate mortality.
Bernard Hopkins first became a world champion 16 years ago and, aged 46, the American boxer made history in May when he was awarded a points victory over Canadian Jean Pascal to become the sport's oldest-ever holder of a global belt.
Jarrod Bunch knew it was bad as soon as it happened. How many punishing blows had he absorbed throughout his life as a football player? Hundreds? Thousands? Knocks to the skull that left him dizzy. Drills to the thighs that manifested themselves as black-and-blue-and-maroon canyons. Bunch was a fullback -- a large (6-foot-2, 250 pounds), fast, powerful fullback who, through his days at Ashtabula (Ohio) High, the University of Michigan and now with the New York Giants, had collected collisions the way a spider collects wayward flies.
MONTREAL -- They are two fighters who spent their primes traversing parallel paths. Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones were the cream of the crop in the 1990s, dominating the middleweight (Hopkins) and super middleweight/light heavyweight (Jones) divisions. But as they pushed past 30 and the speed and reflexes started to fade, their careers veered in decidedly different directions. Hopkins and Jones fought on the same night last weekend, two fighters in two countries going to work under entirely different circumstances.
The record will reflect that 46-year-old Bernard Hopkins became the oldest world champion in boxing history Saturday night, thoroughly dominating Jean Pascal for the light heavyweight title in a unanimous decision.
1. Boxing will finally get Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. It has been derailed by everything from drug testing to legal issues, but in 2011 the world will get the one fight everyone wants to see. While Pacquiao is training for his May 7 date with Shane Mosley, Mayweather will settle (or at least put off) his legal problems, making both available for a November fight. The hype for the showdown between boxing's top two will be unprecedented and more than 100,000 fans will buy tickets at Cowboys Stadium. Mayweather-Pacquiao will shatter the pay-per-view record, exceeding 2.5 million buys and finishing as the most-watched boxing event in history.
QUEBEC CITY, Quebec -- It was just past midnight on Saturday night when Bernard Hopkins stepped on the dais, lower lip swollen, beads of sweat accumulating on his face. He had just gone 12 rounds with Jean Pascal, the WBC light heavyweight champion and a man 18 years Hopkins junior. And he was ready to go a few more. As Hopkins started to address the media a handful of hecklers who had invaded the press conference began to jeer him.
Rationally, we assume that it is much more agonizing to play an individual sport, where you can expect no help from any teammates, where you must depend completely upon yourself. But I believe that there are certain team players with the personality that turns that logic upside down, who suffer more pressure precisely because they are not alone, who are intimidated more by having to produce for their teammates.
Though rarely asked these days, the question "What is mixed martial arts?" was a common inquiry not too long ago. The best response came from Randy Couture: "Take elements of wrestling, boxing, judo and taekwondo, and you've got MMA."
George Foreman and I have been playing phone tag for the past week, although the voice leaving me messages doesn't sound anything like the former world heavyweight champion and self described "grillionaire."
ATLANTIC CITY -- I won't begin to disrespect Shannon Briggs by referring to him as anything other than a survivor. Born with severe asthma (he takes up to seven different medications every day), Briggs was the product of a broken, busted and dysfunctional home (no one term does it justice). Raised in the poverty stricken Atlantic Towers in Brownsville, N.Y., by a drug-dependent mother who overdosed on his 25th birthday and a father who kicked him to the curb over his love for boxing and a can of peas. (He later died in prison.) To make ends meet Briggs would hustle chess games in New York City parks. "But I sucked," says Briggs. "Good days I would be up $5. Bad days I would be down $20."
In 1992, Riddick Bowe decided to take a stand. Unhappy with the WBC's mandate that he fight No. 1 contender Lennox Lewis, Bowe decided that the belt was no longer worth the leather strap it came on. So in a glorious public-relations stunt, Bowe took the belt and unceremoniously dumped it into a London trash can.
Other than being rich and controversial celebrities, what other attribute do Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, Britney Spears and Kobe Bryant have in common? A new survey says they all also make consumers want to buy less of the products that they peddle in ads.
I'm not sure what the statute of limitations on movie spoilers is, so if you're still not hip to the big twist in "Million Dollar Baby," you'd probably best skip this page and go read about "The Nanny" or something.