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“The bell was supposed to signal the end of the round. But there would be no more rounds. Instead, its plangent couplet barged into the silence that bore witness to Miguel Berchelt’s collapse. It was as if the bell, that signal of rest and respite, also knew the fight was over, that Berchelt, unmoving and alone on the MGM Grand’s blue canvas, needed a doctor, not a stool. And it was over. The adage goes that a fighter who hits the canvas facedown stays there. It makes some sense, that. If the reflex to defend your face—so primitive, elementary, undeniable—is inert, what can ten seconds’ grace do?”

Read Oscar Valdez and the War Against Cliché on Hannibal Boxing.

IBR on Hannibal Boxing

“Writing about Vladimir Nabokov, Martin Amis divides the author’s endowments into those attributable to genius and those attributable to craft. For Amis, genius is “a God-given altitude of perception and articulacy,” while talent is “technique, and all the skills that come under the heading of Craft.” Does Ioka have the athletic genius’s altitude of perception and articulacy? His brain certainly seems to find solutions faster than most. While Tanaka put his hands on Ioka, he rarely hit him cleanly. Instead, Ioka would catch punches on his guard, with his gloves, his elbows, his forearms, making minuscule adjustments to their placement to deny even the punches that thudded home their full effect. The other techniques comprising Ioka’s defense, the articulacy of those slips, steps, and rolls, pivots, parries, and pulls, might seem the product of technique and therefore of talent. But the intuition in them—their naturalness—speaks to a physical intelligence present long before repetition harnessed it.”

Read Strong Feelings: Kazuto Ioka Outclasses Kosei Tanaka on Hannibal Boxing.

IBR on Hannibal Boxing

“Bowed like a penitent only minutes earlier, Smith regained his height courtesy of Alvarez’s careful work. There was a demon tormenting Smith—that much was clear. No man adopts such a posture freely, no man of such height abandons its impression unless under duress. Alvarez knew the demon’s precise location and tore it from Smith’s lanky torso with verve. The rib cage, liver, solar plexus, that internal malady seemed to possess them all, but Alvarez was undeterred. He sought it with purpose and strategy, hunting it, trapping it, wrenching it from its intestinal recesses. It was a little like watching those catfish hunters who return the slippery creatures to their muddy lairs using nothing but experience, feel, and a deep breath.”

Read Time’s Arrow: Saul Alvarez W12 Callum Smith on Hannibal Boxing.