In the first entry in our I Can't Believe They Let Us In series, Jeff Jones takes on the National League Championship Series in Chicago.
By Dan Buffa, Special to We Are Live
Gennady Golovkin needs to fight Canelo Alvarez in early 2017. Allow me to explain why.
Back in the days of old school boxing, two fighters didn't need outside help to meet in the ring. They sought each other out, made arrangements, met in a ring, and beat the shit out of each other for 15 rounds. That was the way it used to be done.
Now, since boxing has become a business that sucks every ounce of integrity from their fans and expects them to buy less than stellar fights for $50 to $75 dollars, the politics of the sport has interrupted the quality of the fights being produced. It takes years and sometimes, a decade, for two fighters to meet in the ring. With Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, the clash took place 6 years too late. The expiration date on the electricity of the matchup fizzled and fans received a half-ass version.
Let's not make that mistake with the next fight of the century between Golovkin and Alvarez. Here are two guys with sledge hammers for fists and brains behind the movements. Golovkin broke Kell Brook's orbital bone during their fight Saturday in London, and the fight was stopped by Brook's trainers before the halfway mark. Brook was undefeated in 35 fights. Golovkin has knocked out 23 straight opponents.
The Russian doesn't believe in judges deciding fights. His fists are the judge, jury, and executioner. He has fought 36 times and won 36 times by knockout. GGG, as he is called, doesn't waste time. Round one begins and he stalks his opponent like a lion in the fields of South Africa tracks his dinner. He locates, walks the man down, and destroys them. No questions. No decisions, split or otherwise. He may smile like a sweet magazine model out of the ring, but he's a terminator inside of it. If Ivan Drago existed in real life and could smile, his name would be Gennady Golovkin.
He's the unstoppable force. Canelo is the immovable object.
The Mexican with the flashy red hair and flamboyant exterior doesn't need any introductions. He's stepped in a ring 48 times and emerged victorious in all but two of them. A draw in his fifth fight against Jorge Juarez and a loss to the pound for pound greatest boxer of our era, Mayweather Jr. After a career built by quality yet untested destruction, Alvarez has went up against the bricks in the past five years.
He outboxed Austin Trout and Shane Mosley. After the frustrating decision loss to Floyd, Canelo destroyed Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland. It was Alvarez's methodical win over tough and respect tactician Miguel Cotto that convinced me of the young man's transformation from puncher into boxer. He took a streaking Cotto apart over 12 rounds and followed that up by knocking Amir Khan out cold earlier this summer. He's legit.
Alvarez can look at the Golovkin-Brook fight and see that GGG can be struck often and hard. He can also notice that the man can take a punch and keep on coming and if you aren't fast enough, your face will eat a dozen power punches and bones will break.
Everything put in Golovkin's place has been destroyed. Alvarez has turned a corner in his career and outboxed quality opponents and knocked out the others. It's time for these two power specialists to meet and see who can stay on their feet.
A few things have to happen.
Weight. Golovkin can't be stubborn with the weight and neither can Canelo. Both carry belts here. Come in at an agreement around 158-160. They can fight heavy and still perform well. Concessions must be made by each side.
Timing. Give Canelo his beloved date on Cinco De Mayo and put the fight then. Place it in Las Vegas, the Mecca of boxing. Since Canelo is the more seasoned fighter and carries a belt Gennady wants, he gets his date.
Money. This may be easy or be the hardest part. For one fight, you'd think the two alphas could put aside their egos and let this big event fill their pockets deep. While the king of green is is Floyd all time, Canelo is bringing in good dollars and GGG's camp is growing.
Everybody loves a good action flick. A powerful action fight is even better.
All this is contingent on Liam Smith not shocking the world Saturday night. If Canelo gets past Smith, the next fight should be with Golovkin.
Father time is a factor for Golovkin, who is 34. Alvarez just turned 26 and has time on his side. What he needs is supremacy and in order to get that, Golovkin stands in the way.
Boxing isn't exactly winning these days in his matchup with MMA for contact sports fans. One sports produces upsets and thrilling fights because they believe in the "you never know" of hand to hand combat. The idea that two men can step into a ring and the unthinkable could occur. In order to win back fans, boxing has to take chances and also produce signature events.
Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez fighting each other is a signature event and probable fight of the year.
Let's kick it old school, boxing promoters, and make this matchup happen.
By Dan Buffa, Special for We Are Live
"For the first time in 20 years, touchdown L.A.!"
The sound of those words sprung from the potent narrating engine that is Liev aka Ross Rhea aka Ray Donovan Schreiber on HBO's Hard Knocks shouldn't sting as much as they did, but damn it they made me angry. Let's rewind a bit while you leave the house to go buy a six pack of Stag. Shitty teams deserve the same quality of beer.
Talking about the Rams in St. Louis seems to land one on the bad list these days. Whether it's radio, print, or word on the street, mentioning the football team that played the 2015 season right there in downtown St. Louis seems to get eyeball dismissal. My response to that is shut it down, former football team police. I'm not done yet. It hasn't been years. It's been just over eight months since Stan Kroenke, Roger Goodell, and NFL owners stabbed the Rams in the back like Caesar. They can't even remake this film yet.
Episode One of Hard Knocks recap is simple. The Jeff Fisher Gong Show. Fisher spits senile nonsense like a crazy old uncle wondering around the porch in the middle of the night after a bar fight with his brother. Watching the richest coach without a winning season say things like, "I have a plan and we are NOT going 7-9" makes one think he's planning a backup career in stand up comedy.
Every time he unleashes words out of that overcooked tanned skin covered mouth of his, it elicits laughter. What Fisher deserves is to stay on that river the series opens up with and think about remaking The River Runs Through It with his son. He doesn't deserve anything. I hope his mustache turns into a feathery snake and swallows his oversized ego.
The hard parts of this series don't revolve around seeing #1 overall draft pick Jared Goff look like a blonde Houdini in the pocket and blaze a trail as the Rams future QB even though his dumb ass doesn't know where the sun sets. It's not seeing a new offensive lineman discuss his extravagant amount of tank tops. It's not the prop fans being carted out to the practices. It's not the idea of no football in September.
The painful part is watching Aaron Donald prepare to own Los Angeles. The best defensive tackle in the NFL at a young age looks like The Hulk on a football field and plays like it. Donald may dominate at the game of ping pong in his leisure time, but his ferocious ability to get behind the O-Line like a man merely opening the refrigerator is something to cherish. He's a stud and I couldn't care less about Stan K, Fisher, Kevin Demoff, Goff, Brian Quick, or the Leg. I'm mad that Los Angeles got Aaron Donald like Fisher got another lottery ticket contract extension.
Todd Gurley is also gold on the ceiling, and now wearing gold on his helmet out west. He walks around the field like Dylan at a recording studio. He could touch a desk and make it come alive. The man singlehandedly picked up a snooze fest of an offensive attack last year and will only get better if his knee stays intact. (Drink)
Donald and Gurley. That's it folks. That's all it is. Forget everybody else. LA doesn't deserve those stars. After the Rams go 7-9 in 2016, they will go back to checking Clayton Kershaw's twitter account, watching the Los Angeles Kings in May, and only randomly checking the Rams box score. That's what will make me drink an extra glass of whiskey this fall. People under-appreciating a player like Donald and Gurley.
Watching the Rams beat the Dallas Cowboys in a preseason game made me feel nothing but contempt for fans getting duped by Sean Mannion leading a fourth quarter comeback against Dallas' fourth stringers and Jerry Jones nodding to Stan in "I got you man" approval.
After the win, Fisher went into his drunken uncle stupor again like it was the uncomfortable speech after a wedding reception. Talking about putting a football taken from a preseason game on the wall as a sign of inspiration isn't just funny. It's sad. A sign of how low the Rams sit and how far they have to go in order to accumulate a small fraction of respect. That's the part I don't worry about. That's a problem that no longer belongs to St. Louis football fans.
Here's the important part folks. Watch the show if you like great behind the scenes entertainment. The show isn't about the owners or the NFL. The goodness of Hard Knocks is the same as Showtime's retired baseball series, The Franchise, or EPIX's Road the Winter Classic. It's about the players and their dreams. Donald, Gurley, and company didn't punch the clock on St. Louis and head west. They were simply doing their job. Nothing more or less. Watch them grow during these episodes. It's still a fun ride and NFL Films is state of the art.
The show is about the undrafted college talents trying to crack the roster. It's about great hometown stories like Nelson Spruce. Whether it's been the Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans. or New York Jets, it's about the coach and his players. With Fisher, you will get comedic phrases. With the players, you get entertainment and juicy stories.
At the end of the day, you may consume more alcohol and get angry. That's okay. When Hour #2 concluded, I told my wife the Rams didn't deserve Schreiber's narration. More like Adam Sandler.
Comedic entertainment deserves comedic dispensers.
Watching Hard Knocks will make a true Rams fan hurt, but that doesn't mean some fun can't be had in the process.
By DAN BUFFA, We Are Live Radio columnist
There's really no place like home, ladies and gentlemen. The familiar saying carries weight all over the world, and it cuts deepest with where one calls home. That may not be where they live at the moment. Our apartment may just be a place for our stuff and to sleep. Our home may be a different place. Somewhere that takes a little effort getting back to.
On July 5th, I moved back to St. Louis with my son Vincent after spending nearly 19 months in Little Rock, Arkansas, a place worth waving off as you head down I-55 for Memphis. It wasn't an easy decision. There was an opportunity to kickstart a career back in The Lou while my wife finished up work down south. Any single parent can attest that the difficulty in charging after a dream job and taking care of a wildly energetic four year old is truly running with the wolves.
I was up for it for one simple reason. St. Louis is pretty awesome.
Sure, it's not for everybody and has turned into a violent inhabitant of hate during the past two years. The shooting death of Michael Brown sparked a deadly outburst in North City that hasn't lost a flame two years later. When you mention St. Louis these days, people try to look away or wonder what is going on there. They ask you why you stick around. I tell them it's not perfect. It's just home to me.
I grew up South City. Tholozan and Kingshighway. Right next to the Hill. I ran around those streets as a kid and run around them today as an adult catching his fitness fix. There's a familiarity that I look forward to when I drive down Chippewa and that includes all kinds of memories. The days of watching Jean Claude Van Damme in Nowhere to Run three times on a Saturday at the Avalon for a total of fifteen cents. The days of treating 7-11 like a pit stop during my adolescent years. Driving to the Esquire 8 for a flick with my dad and hoping they put the new release in the main auditorium, which was my cathedral to pray to the movie gods for a week spent in school.
There are so many things about this city that don't exist elsewhere for me. When you spend nearly two years away from your hometown, there is a re-connection that happens upon your return. It's like plugging your phone into the one outlet in the house that actually works. Here are a few of the things that I have done in the past five weeks since my return to St. Louis.
~Drink a cup of coffee at Shaw's Coffee. When I leave my radio show at seven in the morning, I drive over to Shaw and Marconi and get a real macchiato. Something Starbucks simply doesn't understand. You tell a "barista" at the Bux to make you a macchiato and fail to say caramel or latte in front of it and they look at you as if you mentioned quantum physics. The lady at Shaw's knows exactly what I want and throws four shots of espresso and some foam into a small cup. I nod to the table of old wise men and depart. That's my place. It's getting hit as hard as one can with espresso and getting a mood boost out of it.
~A sandwich at Mom's Deli. The beloved Dolores Vago, the Mom of "Mom's Deli", passed away this week at the age of 92. If the world works the right way, her deli will be open another 92 years. There's nothing like it. Sorry LeGrand's and Amighetti's. You don't compare nor stand a chance to the simplicity and ferocity of a Mom's Special. A Subway club type sandwich but made with fresh ingredients and warm lovely bread instead of dry meat and stale bread. Add a special sauce that brings it all together. I've eaten there at least 30 times and it never changes. Love at first sight is one thing. Quality over seven years is quite another.
~A run down Fyler. I step outside my house and take off. Up Mardel avenue, across Wabosh/McCausland, and down to Fyler. I run down all the way to Kingshighway and around to Chippewa. Along the way, I see a cast of people that could get screen time on The Walking Dead, Sopranos, and The Wire. That's my city. It smells a certain way and that isn't just the fresh cut grass as you run up the sidewalks of Tilles Park off Hampton and Fyler. It's a six mile trek that kicks my ass and reminds me that home is a simple pleasure. The streets never change. They welcome you without a stop watch but a demand. Say hello and be kind to the next patch of pavement. Most importantly, come back.
~A game at Busch. My second home. My girlfriend on the side. A ballpark wrapped inside a building. A place where sorrow and happiness play a chess game that lasts seven months and includes up to three seasons of weather. It doesn't matter where I sit. If I am inside Busch watching Adam Wainwright spin curveballs towards the plate and seeing Yadier Molina command the field like Dutch in Predator, I am home. I can lean back in my seat and close my eyes. Listening to the crack of the bat or the roar of the crowd. It's a visual stunner or a trusted book on tape that requires no headphones. The Cards can go 40-122 or 100-62 and I will be addicted no matter what.
~Smoking a cigar in the lounge with my dad in Richmond Heights. My dad is a cut the shit cigar smoker. He transformed his garage into a cigar parlor complete with a sliding glass door, fan, and big screen television. There's nothing like lighting up a brick packed cigar with my old man and watching a movie for the 55th time. We recite dialogue before it comes out of the actors mouth, crack jokes about it, and say a few inappropriate things about the females that makes my wife elbow me in the ribs because Vincent repeats everything I say(and I mean everything). We can sit there and unplug. I can stop thinking about what I need to do tomorrow and if Vinny is okay. My dad can hang out with his friend. At 34 years old, no one is a closer friend than my dad. Cigars and a cup of coffee as strong as an ox are usually included.
What is home to you? A place or an experience? Both? For me, it's everything about St. Louis. Driving down Manchester at 10 o'clock at night. Hanging out with my St. Louis Game Time colleagues and diehard Blues fans before a game. Riding the metro. Going to La Cosecha Coffee in Maplewood. So many places, memories, and things. I grew up here. I got married here. My son was born here. I'll die here.
St. Louis isn't just my home. It's a part of my DNA. A book with pages that mean something different to me.
Do you have a place like that? If not, find one and never let it out of your sight.
By DAN BUFFA, We Are Live Columnist