Rams were near-perfect and a champion retires

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Boxing

My father took up smoking a pipe when I was a child. This was neither an affectation nor pretentiousness…he was trying to quit cigarettes.

There were no nicotine patches back then. He came up with his own cessation program through smoking a pipe.

The truth was, the house smelled better and the exotic blends of tobacco were like a rustic aromatherapy.

The other truth was, dad had a pack of Tareytons in the car and he lit up as soon as he rounded the first corner on his way to work.

My grandmother would take the leftover pipe cleaners (does anybody remember those?) and she’d bend them into stick figures for me.

What does any of this have to do with sports?

Watching last Saturday’s Junior Featherweight title fight put me in mind of those pipe cleaner people.

Junior Featherweights top out at 122-pounds. That’s eight pounds lighter than Pamela Anderson’s walking-around weight.

Undefeated, reigning and defending champion Rey Vargas stretches that weight over a 5’11” frame giving him the rough proportions of a pipe cleaner man.

His opponent, Oscar Negrete (generously listed as 5’4”) looked “less than lanky.”

Vargas is a vicious body-puncher with a stiff jab. He fought at the end of his reach and kept the distance. But he has a bad habit of leaning in when punching. This brought his noggin down to the perfect level for Negrete to head-butt him, which he did…repeatedly, leaving bad cuts over both eyes.

Despite the disadvantage in height and reach, Negrete stayed competitive throughout.

The bout went the distance and Rey Vargas was awarded a unanimous decision victory, improving his record to 31-0, with 22 wins coming by way of knockout.

***

The main event that night was the farewell bout of Miguel Cotto.

At 37-years-old, Cotto has fought the best of the best. His list of opponents reads like a who’s-who of boxing:  Mosley, Pacquiao, Mayweather and Alvarez.

The first loss of his career was at the hands of Antonio Margarito in 2008, and those hands are suspected of being covered in plaster…literally.

Margarito and his trainer were caught “loading” Antonio’s gloves with plaster-infused wraps before a subsequent fight. It is believed they did so against Miguel.

Cotto was never the same after that fight. But he beat the tar out of Margarito in the rematch.

Cotto’s “good-bye bout” was against Sadam Ali.

Ali’s record is not as thick as Miguel’s and the only time Ali fought a boxer of name or notoriety…he lost.

But that didn’t stop him from turning in a top-notch performance against Cotto. However, it was fate that delivered the final blow.

By Round 8 Cotto was ahead on two scorecards and tied on the third when he tore the bicep muscle in his left arm.

He continued, but lost each of the last four rounds on all three cards. Yet it was still a close fight.

The unanimous decision win went to Sadam Ali (116-112 and 115-113, twice)

Rams

With the exception of one interception, a lone fumble, and allowing a single sack…the Los Angeles Rams (9-3) did everything correctly in their 32-16 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Quarterback Jared Goff threw for 220-yards with two TD’s, spread the ball around to nine different receivers, and engineered extended scoring drives of 78-yards, 52-yards, and several over 30-yards.

Kicker Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein went four for four, and added 12-points to the total.

The defense also got in on the scoring with a pick-six off one of two interceptions.

The Rams true test comes this Sunday when they host the Philadelphia Eagles (10-2).

God Bless and don’t smoke.

Mark Felicetti’s father has not smoked in decades. Reach him at mark@tolucantimes.com.

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