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  • Caesar Cliffius

    My name is Cliff Eastham. I live in West Virginia with my wife Debbie, the loveliest lady in the world, and my youngest daughter, Holly who is equally as lovely as her mother.

    I enjoy writing about sports, and love a good healthy debate. My favorite teams are the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Redskins.

    There are only a couple of sports that I don't write about, Hockey and Soccer specifically. My favorite sports are Baseball, Boxing, NFL, NCAA Basketball, MMA.

    Feel free to look around, and your comments are most welcome. Subscribe via email if you wish.

    It is decreed.....Caesar Cliffius
    this 8th day of December, in the Year of our Lord 2009.

Tiger Woods and Miguel Cotto: “Players” in Every Sense of the Word

If nobody else in the world is rejoicing over the news that former welterweight champion, Miguel Cotto is being sued for sexual harassment, I am sure Tiger Woods is.

All we have seen or heard for days, ad nauseum is Tiger Woods alleged affairs and sexual wrongdoings. It would be a breath of fresh air for Woods if the story moved up from page five. Misery loves company, or so they say.

Of course Cotto’s troubles are only alleged at this point. But, then so are Tiger’s, at least the majority of them.

A former employee of Cotto, Martha Chacon Acevedo is suing the boxer for a cool $500,000. She worked in a capacity not associated with his boxing endeavors. According to ESPN, Acevedo claims that she eventually yielded to his sexual advances, out of fear of losing her job. They had an affair, she alleges, for two months before she broke off the relationship. At that point, Cotto terminated her employment in October, 2008.

This would be nothing but a monetary issue if Cotto was not married with children. His family supposedly backs him wholeheartedly, but how many times have we seen this unsightly scenario unfold?

Cotto was whipped like a rented mule by Manny Pacquiao in November of this year, capturing his WBO Welterweight Championship belt in the process. When it rains, it pours.

The “Pride of Puerto Rico” is not the first professional athlete to alledgely extend his “training regimen” outside the bedroom. For that matter, thanks to Tiger he isn’t even the first this month.

Cotto does have an advantage on Woods when it comes to bringing “baggage” into his sports arena. Cotto can use it as a tool to build aggression against an opponent. Tiger, on the other hand, must have keen mental focus in order to perform his sport optimally,

Tiger has reportedly spent millions of dollars in a futile effort to keep his “transgressions” minimized. Miguel does not have the resources to write “big money” checks as a silencer for his alleged wrongdoings.

Sport fans have had their fill, I would suppose, of “off the job” trashings of their favorite athletes. Tiger has always been revered as a consummate professional and loved by the masses. Cotto is one of the most loved persons in Puerto Rico with a huge fan base.

It is wrong for we as parents to expect athletes and movie stars to serve as role models for our children. As hall of fame baseball pitcher, Bob Gibson said, “Why should I be a rold model for your kids. Be a role model for your own kids.”

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report.

Money vs. Manny: The Fight of the Century?

Now that the hurdles have all been jumped concerning the upcoming fight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, the only thing left is to reset a date to accommodate Manny’s political aspirations.

The early line shows Pretty Boy Floyd as the favorite.

The fight promises to be one of the best in a long time. Some are going all the way to the bridge and saying it will be the best ever. That is a tall order, my friends.

What fights would it have to surpass to be the “best ever”?

In no particular order, but indeed on the road to the best, are Hagler vs. Hearns. That fight was three rounds of non-stop fighting at its best. Both men gave as good as they got until Hagler closed the deal. Other than the gamblers, that fight did not disappoint anyone.  The Hitman had Hagler hurt before the fight was 30 seconds old. Ring Magazine called the first round of the fight “the greatest round in boxing history” and was the round of the year in 1985.

Any talk of best bouts ever could not be complete without the “Thrilla in Manila“. Even fans who aren’t “old school” have to say amen to that. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier met for the third and final time in October of 1975. Ali was one year removed from shocking the boxing world by his KO of George Foreman. The two men beat each other to the point of exhaustion before Frazier’s corner pulled the plug after the 14th round. Ali has said that fight was the closest he has ever come to death.

Another great one was the first fight between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo. In a close fight, Castillo came out in the 10th round of a schedules 12 rounder and knocked Corrales down twice. Corrales had spit his mouthpiece out twice and was deducted a point (not to mention being decked twice). Diego summoned strength and reserve from a special place and came back and stopped the fight in fantastic fashion, beating Castillo helpless against the ropes.

I could go on and on, but these are just three great ones that this fight would have to top to gain serious notoriety.

The biggest wins on Pacman’s portfolio are against fighters that Pretty Boy had already beaten. Ricky Hatton was blistered by Pretty Boy in their fight until Floyd KO’d him late, softening him up for his 2nd round massacre at the hands of Pacquiao.

Oscar De La Hoya was beaten by Mayweather and Pacman finished him off late in his fight.

What do both these two brilliant pugilists bring to the table?

With Manny you will see non-stop action, just like the video game he is named for, Pacman. Mayweather may very well prove to be the ghost that haunts Manny and keeps him from landing anything flush. Manny is strong, maybe stronger than Floyd, but that is so hard to analyze. He has proven that he can keep it going for 12 rounds. He has adequate power to end the fight, maybe not with one punch, but certainly by combinations.

Pretty Boy Floyd will be the challenge of a lifetime for Pacquiao. Mayweather, as much as his detractors hate hearing it, has never really been seriously tested. He has never been hurt badly (I am talking Queer Street) and presents the most transparent targets for his opponent. His hand speed is absolutely second to none, and his reflexes are above description. I believe he could catch a bat flying at him in the dark. His power is under rated in my view, and has developed over his career. He has a very good right hand and can do damage with it.

Pacquiao has a very good record of 50-3-2 with 38 KOs. He has been stopped twice, both in the third round. His average fight is only5.5 rounds, he has six KOs in the first round and knocked Miguel Cotto out in the 12th round (the fight was actually stopped between the rounds 11 and 12). His power is not limited to the first couple of rounds. He is 22-2-1 in world title fights.

Mayweather’s record is 40-0 with 25 by knockout. His average fight lasts only 7 rounds. He has an outstanding record of 18-0 with nine knockouts in world title fights. He has four first-round KO’s and has two knockouts as late as the 10th round.

Manny has been in some serious wars, hurt some people and took some very hard shots. After  55 fights the collateral damage is just about due to raise its ugly head. Floyd has been shook up mildly once or twice, but never hurt. Even though Mayweather is a couple of years older, I believe he is working with a fresher body and that will be huge in this fight.

For Mayweather, the ramifications for the fight are simple. If he should beat Manny in spectacular fashion, he could retire (for good) and know that he has beaten the best and know that there is nothing left to prove. If it is a close fight, surely the world will cry for a rematch, and dollars and cents will rule the day.

If Pacquiao beats Mayweather, he can go down in history as the first man to defeat the “greatest” fighter of his era. If he would demolish Pretty Boy in the process, he could begin his political career by being the wealthiest congressman in world history.

I look for a very entertaining fight. Everything inside me says the fight will be an unanimous decision for Floyd, but the little guy in my head says he will win by a 5th round stoppage.

What do you think?

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report where this article was first published.

Roy Jones, Jr: It is Time to Walk Away

There is a time in every athlete’s life when he must face the man in the mirror and hear the sad sweet song.  “It’s over. Don’t look back. It has been a good ride, but this is the end of the road.”

Either some people don’t have that conversation with the man he watches shave every day, or he fails to pay attention to the warning, or plea as it were.

That discussion should have taken place the morning after Roy Jones, Jr. was embarrassed by Danny Green in Australia. While watching this fight it appeared to me that Jones didn’t want to be there. It was the first time he was fighting outside the limits of the “land of the free”, and he clearly looked misplaced to me.

The right hand that began the end looked far from impressive to me. It looked like he was hit on the top of the head and just went down. No disrespect to the power of Green, but that punch did not measure up to the one thrown by Antonio Tarver which sent Junior to his first KO loss. Was this just another payday for the former eight time world champion?

Until his invincibility was discovered by the Magic Man in the second round in 2004, he was perhaps the best fighter in the world. Until then was the ridiculous disqualification loss to Montell Griffin in 1997. Jones didn’t just beat people, he dominated them.

Roy had some famous fights during his 20-year professional career. He fought as a middle-weight for his first 18 fights, fought several at super middle-weight and in 1993 won his first world title, an unanimous win over Bernard Hopkins for the vacant IBF Middle-weight Championship. Hopkins would not lose again for 12 years when he lost a split-decision to Jermain Taylor.

In 1994 Jones beat James “Lights Out” Toney (undefeated at the time) like a drum en route to an unanimous decision for the IBF Super Middle-weight Championship.

He won the WBC Light Heavy-weight Championship in 1996 with a shutout of Mike McCallum.

In 2003 Jones stepped up to the heavy-weight ranks and won the WBA Heavy-weight Championship with a decision over John Ruiz.

Jones had three fights with Tarver, the first one he was given a gift in a majority decision. The second fight was the two round shellacking administered by the Magic Man, and the third was an unanimous decision won by Tarver.

Sandwiched between the last two Tarver fights was a 9th round KO at the hands of Glen Johnson.

In 2008 Jones had a mega fight with Felix Trinidad who man thought was washed up from being inactive for nearly three years. Roy won a lopsided decision over Tito and then lost big to Joe Calzaghe (who Jones would have easily beaten in his prime) notwithstanding a first-round knockdown of the undefeated Calzaghe.

He knocked out Omar Sheika and forced Jeff Lacy to quit prior to the whipping he just took this week.

So, Roy, it has been great to know you, my good man. You have given us highlight reels we will cherish forever. It is not a shame to walk away from boxing. The only shame is not knowing when it is time.

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report where this article was first published.

Should There Be a Height Limit in Weight Classes in Boxing ?

After all the crying I witnessed in a recent article, I thought this would be a fair question for debate.

The article in question was “Could Manny Pacquiao beat Paul Williams at 147”.  Apparently, the better question would have been, ‘could Pacquiao beat Williams at 5-6’.

I don’t understand the absurdity of such a fight. Boxers who haven’t had the notoriety that Pacman has garnered,  fought taller men every time out, sometimes as much as seven or eight inches.

The same fans who decry such a fight had no problems calling Floyd Mayweather a “ducker” for not fighting Williams. The difference in height between Pretty Boy and Manny is an inch and a half. So, obviously with Mayweather it is no big deal, but with Pacman it is suddenly a Munchkin trying to throw hands with Godzilla.

To address the title question here, what would be a reasonable maximum height for welter-weights. 5-11 or just under six feet?

It is an absurd question and an absurd defense to be used. Fighters have been gauged by their weight since the inception of weight classes.

Sam Langford was the same height as Manny Pacquiao and fought fighters from light-weight all the way to heavy-weight. In Fact, Nat Fleischer (Bert Sugar’s old boss) rated Langford as one of the 10 best heavyweights of all time.

Langford never won the heavy-weight belt. He was beaten by Jack Johnson by decision in 1906. Against Johnson, Sam gave up seven inches in height and 29 pounds (156 – 185), yet went 15 grueling rounds and was never afforded a rematch by the Champion.

So, you see, like the old adage goes, “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it is the size of the fight in the dog”.

Mike Tyson and Rocky Marciano, who both stood only 5’10 were constantly at a height and reach disadvantage. Marciano was undefeated and Tyson was seemingly invincible until he met up with Buster Douglas.

History is replete with smaller men who defeated their own “goliaths”. A man should not be penalized, or disenfranchised from fighting the best fighters because he lives inside a tall frame. The smaller man, by the same token, should not use that as a defense from fighting the best.

Boxing is ruled by weight, not height. Fighters have grown through the decades. When they made 176 pounds the threshold to enter for the heavyweight division, I doubt they expected heavyweights to average 6″3″ and weigh 238 pounds. Athletes of today, in all sports, are bigger, stronger, faster and have more endurance than the “average” athlete of yesteryear.

So, as John Prine put it so well, “A question is not a question, if you know the answer too.”


Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report where this article was first published.

Could Manny Pacquiao Beat Paul Williams at 147 Pounds ?

Manny Pacquiao has seemingly improved with every fight. He has taken a good deal of  punishment throughout his brilliant career, however not nearly as much as he has delivered to his adversaries.

The question I have, especially in the throes of all the madness about a Gazillion Dollar fight with Pretty Boy Floyd, could he beat Paul (The Punisher) Williams ?

The question has been thrown at Mayweather fans so long, concerning his alleged ducking of Williams, that I wonder about the possibility of Pacman and the Punisher getting together.

Williams has fought as a welter-weight, junior middle-weight, middle-weight and super middle-weight during his 8-plus year professional career. He has fought at weights ranging from 145 1/2 against Walter Matthysse in 2006, to 160 against Robert Muhammad in 2001 and James Young in 2000.

Therefore it shouldn’t be a stretch for him to slide back down to 147 for a fight with a warrior such as Manny.

The age difference is not convincingly different—Manny being 30 while Williams is only 28. If this fight were ever made, it would truly be a David and Goliath conflict. Williams standing a towering 6’1″ or 6″2″ (depending upon where you read about him) would be menacing looking to a 5’6″  Pacquiao.

The height disparity was so obvious when Williams stepped into the ring against Carlos Quintana (at 5’9″) it looked like a grown man fighting a kid. Can you imagine how it would look with someone nearly three inches shorter than Carlos?

Pacquiao’s constant motion would clearly be a test for the Punisher who averages throwing around 100 punches per round.

If nothing else, Quintana’s first fight with Williams, which he won by an unanimous decision, lifted the veil of invincibility from Paul. Quintana landed jabs and right hooks all night long against the taller southpaw.

I doubt if the fight would ever be made. With so many boxing fans wanting the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight to happen, I believe they would rob a liquor store to get enough money to watch it.

Manny is on an 11 fight win streak is currently 50-3-2 with 38 KO. Williams is 37-1 with 27 KO, currently riding a four fight win streak of his own.

Williams’ height and build is reminiscent of Tommy Hearns , a great fighter who began as a welter-weight at 146 and retired in the cruiser-weight division, fighting as heavy as 191 against Uriah Grant.

I think it would be a great fight, exciting to watch, and who knows it could mimic the drama of the first Hearns/Leonard fight of 1981, which Sugar Ray won with a 14th round TKO.

What are your thoughts concerning such a confrontation?

Is Floyd Mayweather, Jr the Best Boxer of All Time ?

That may be a foolish question to some boxing fans, experts, and enthusiasts.

There have been scores of great fighters, hundreds of very good fighters, and thousands of good fighters.

It is impossible to accurately say that one fighter would beat another fighter from a different era. It is, however, one of the things that makes boxing one of the most debatable and colorful sports there is.

There are obviously fighters in the past, and even currently, who possess(ed) more power than Floyd. Some would be willing to get hit seven or eight times to be able to launch one bomb.

Floyd is virtually unmarked as a fighter, hence the moniker Pretty Boy Floyd. He looks more like a movie star than a pugilist.

While drinking a pint in a tavern, nothing whiles away the time better than a good old fashioned discussion about how Ali could have knocked out Marciano, or how Willie Pep could have given a boxing lesson to Manny Pacquiao (when he was a featherweight).

Thus, we have two factions warring against one another. Old school fans and experts tend to want to give the edge to the guys that they grew up idolizing or following closely.

Secondly, we have the new age fans, who can’t seem to imagine how anybody could be better than the current field. Advanced training methods with bigger, stronger, and faster fighters make today’s competition much more fierce than in days gone by.

I suppose I would be called old school because of my age, however, I am making a case today for the current best in the world, Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

I have thought about it for some time, and have finally pushed myself to a decision. I believe Pretty Boy is the best “boxer” in the history of the sport.

I said boxer, not fighter. Let me illustrate. When you look up the word “boxer” in the dictionary, Wikipedia, or whatever, you should see an image of him right there on the page. He epitomizes the word.

I have seen boxers since the late fifties and there have been some dandies. Cassius Clay (the caterpillar who turned into the butterfly Muhammad Ali), Floyd Patterson, Archie Moore, Emile Griffith, Joe Frazier, George Foreman (twice), Sugar Ray Leonard, Sugar Ray Robinson, Tommy Hearns, Julio Caesar Chavez, Salvador Sanchez, Alexis Arguello, Aaron Pryor, Bobby Foster, Roberto Duran, and Larry Holmes, just to name a few.

I watched those fighters while they were still active and I saw films of most of the other great ones.

There is not one, in my opinion, who is or was superior to Floyd Mayweather. If there ever was a complete package in one boxer, he would be it.

His defense is beyond description, he is as hard to hit as a bat flying in front of you at night.

He has the fastest hands I believe I ever saw. His punch placement is as good or better than Ali’s. He wastes no gas. He is as effective with his punches as anyone ever has been. He has developed a respectful portion of power over the years.

It is a joy to watch him as he commands the ring, dictating how the fight goes. His stinging jabs keep the brawlers off balance and measures them for a strong right hand.

Do I think he could have beaten fighters of other eras? Yes, I do. I think he could have won decisions over Robinson, Leonard, and any other fighters who were in his weight classes.

Pound for pound, he is the best ever. I realize this is speculative at best, and everybody has their own opinions, but I believe he is the one.

There have been other fighters who have retired undefeated. The great Rocky Marciano and even more recent than he, Joe Calzaghe (who quit just in time considering he was down in round one and barely won a split decision over Bernard Hopkins).

Money has beaten everyone who had the stones to throw with him. Some of today’s best have witnessed his hand being raised at the end of their bout with him; Oscar De Le Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Zab Judah, Diego Corrales, Arturo Gatti, Jose Luis Castillo, Chop Chop Corley, Sharmba Mitchell, and Juan Manuel Marquez.

He is in fact, the best boxer in the history of the sport.

Did You Know That Miguel Cotto is Really Fernando Vargas ?

A boxer’s identity is something they have worked long and hard to achieve. Whether they want to be perceived as charming, polite, and gracious such as the identity crafted by the Golden Boy, Oscar de La Hoya; or a mean, frightful, vicious persona such as Ferocious Fernando Vargas.

The identity the boxer chooses is one that generally affects what the public perceives them to be. I think of Oscar and I think of something so pure it farts rainbows. On the other end of the spectrum when I think of Vargas I think of a monster who would rip your heart out and show it to you before your untimely demise.

The two fighters in this article, Vargas and Miguel Cotto, both like to present the feeling that they would absolutely die on their sword and be carried out on their shield rather than give up the conquest.

They both started out meteorically. Fernando Vargas reeled off 20 consecutive wins before sampling the acidic taste of defeat. On the other hand, Cotto had fought 32 times before his initial undoing.

Why do I draw comparisons between these two? What do they have in common?

Vargas and Cotto both fought some very good fighters on their way to the spotlight. Vargas was good enough to win a majority decision against Winky Wright in an IBF Light Middleweight title fight in 1999. That fight provided the impetus for Wright to go on a nearly seven-year streak where he didn’t lose again.

Miguel Cotto’s first fight with a marquee opponent, in my opinion, was in 2006 when he dealt Carlos Quintana his first defeat for the vacant WBA Welterweight title. Cotto beat Quintana into submission forcing him to retire in five rounds.

Vargas went on to beat Ike Quartey and Ross Thompson before giving us one of the most thrilling fights of the year when he succumbed to Felix Trinidad in a unification of the IBF and WBA Light Middleweight crowns. Vargas nearly fell on his own sword as Trinidad knocked him out in the 12th and final round. Both men had been down previously in the contest, Vargas twice in round one and three times in the final round. Trinidad was knocked down in the fourth.

After Cotto dispatched Quintana he went on to defeat Zab Judah, Shane Mosley and Alfonso Gomez before he met his “controversial” Waterloo. In a fight which he was being soundly whipped by Antonio Margarita, the corner threw in the towel near the beginning of the 11th round. Cotto’s camp claimed that Margarita had used an illegal substance in his gloves during the fight. It certainly tainted a beautiful performance by Margarita, but meanwhile left Cotto’s “superman” status somewhat deflated.

After Vargas was starched by Trinidad, he went on a successful two-fight rebuilding tour that brought him to the gates of Goldentown. That’s right a war with the Golden Boy.  Oscar beat him badly that night and Fernando was tested positive for steroids, resulting in a suspension of nine months and a $100,000 fine. Vargas denied the abuse of drugs but served the sentence and paid the fine.

Cotto knocked out Michael Jennings in a comeback cruise that was comprised of two fights. In the second fight he won a hard-fought split decision over Joshua Clottey in September of 2009, setting up what would be a fight for the ages with Manny Pacquiao, the pound-for-pound champion in the world.

Fernando Vargas went on to win against four handpicked opponents in the next two years and set up a big money fight with Sugar Shane Mosley. Mosley beat him like he stole something, twice actually, and then he lost a decision to Ricardo Mayorga, whose claim to fame was a three-round devastation of the late Vernon Forrest, and for smoking a cigarette in the ring after the fight. Vargas retired after that fight realizing that whatever he had once was gone.

In Cotto’s showdown with Manny it was evident that the beating he took at the hands of Margarito had taken its toll. He looked good for the first round or two but then was completely outclassed and ultimately disassembled by the non-stop action of Pacman.

There you have a portrait of two careers, both promising at the beginning. Both promoted highly by HBO and other puntiffs of the sport. Both fighters eventually revealing a chink in their proverbial armor, and both having it handed to them but a superior fighter.

Though Vargas’ career is over, the light switch hasn’t been turned off yet by Cotto. There is still millions to make, stiffs to fight, and much, much rebuilding to do if he should get another big money fight.

There is nobody left that Cotto can beat. Mosley would pick him apart this time, as would Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather.

The end has come to Cotto’s tenure of greatness just as it did with Ricky “Hitman” Hatton.

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report, where this article was first published.