Commentary

Tessitore shares the past, future of boxing through his eyes

Joe Tessitore takes a look ahead at "Wednesday Night Fights", a look back at Parcells and Berto, and a look at many of the happennings in the sport as he sees it.

Updated: August 1, 2007, 11:47 AM ET
By Joe Tessitore | Special to ESPN.com

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- I'm just sitting here in the mighty fight capital of the South sharing my weekly thoughts with you. You don't know the fight capital of the south? Who knew that Augusta would offer up more than golf members named Hootie, green jackets for Tiger and pimento cheese sandwiches?

• Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET Teddy and I will call the action of Augusta's hometown unbeaten Rayonta Whitfield (17-0, 8 KOs). Ray is friends with this area's pride and joy, Paul Williams. The tall conqueror of Antonio Margarito lives just across the Savannah River. And did I mention this region's other champion? Vernon Forrest will join us ringside to discuss his career bounce-back win.

Andre Berto
Thierry Gourjon/WireImage.comAndre Berto came back from a sixth-round knockdown to outpoint Cosme Rivera.
• Speaking of ringside, my head is still spinning after a "Friday Night Fights" that included more ringside guests than any other show outside of this year's ESPY post-party. The card, headlined by Andre Berto in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., also had loads of drama. I know some fight fans have said Berto was exposed after being knocked down by Cosme Rivera. I see it the other way. He grew up by being knocked down.

• By the way, I knew Bill Parcells was a big fight fan, but were you as surprised as I was? The Big Tuna was very knowledgeable and insightful in breaking down a fight with Teddy. It's one thing to be a fan of a sport; it's another to be able to converse on-air with the leading expert. Parcells was a joy to work with. Trust me fight fans, he is one of us and always has been. It was also nice to see and hear from ABC/ESPN's Chris Fowler at our fights. He told me when he is on the road with Lee Corso for the wildly popular "College Gameday" (football) during the fall, many Saturday nights are spent with Lee watching major pay-per-view fights. It doesn't surprise me. Every time I see the pencil carrying coach he talks boxing with me.

• It just happened to Berto, and come this week another unbeaten, well-hyped, prospect may get a scare. The impressively athletic Jean Pascal is facing the always dangerous Kingsley Ikeke (23-2, 13 KOs). Pascal (17-0, 13 KOs) is part of this new generation of top notch promotional giants who have emerged in Montreal. The fight is part of the big Nascar Busch Series weekend. I really like this main event. The 6-foot-4 Ikeke's physical attributes and experience can cause real problems for Pascal. However, as we have seen before, the energy and excitement that the unbeaten super-middleweight has in front of his Montreal fans is impressive. It creates an atmosphere that has smothered all who have tested him. Give another big thumbs up to Montreal-based promoter Yvon Michel for putting on a quality main event for American fight fans to enjoy.

• I'm sorry but something turns in my stomach when I read about Riddick Bowe returning to the ring this month.

• If I was managing Ricky Hatton's career I would not take the Floyd Mayweather fight next. It would have been at least the third of the Hitman's next three fights. I would have taken a visit back home to Manchester to fight against a moderate title challenger. Then I would have looked for a New York mega-event against Paulie Malignaggi before facing the pound-for-pound No. 1.

• From my view behind the remote, Carlos Baldomir looked like he was in slow motion against Forrest. That is back-to-back weeks of recent champs looking like they have been dipped in molasses. Winky Wright and Bernard "B-Hop" Hopkins took backward steps.

• You may have read a few obit pieces on NFL legend Bill Walsh this week. If so you probably read about his love of boxing. Walsh fought as a collegiate heavyweight. He would constantly use boxing as a tool to teach football players. He would draw upon analogies from the fight game and connect it to the gridiron. He isn't the only one. Our Teddy Atlas and the Jets' Eric Mangini do this with the Pennington and company, and you just listened to how much boxing has meant to Bill Parcells.

It's also been documented that Walsh would be seen shadow boxing on the sidelines during 49ers practices. Walsh is acknowledged as a genius- perhaps one of the smartest coaches of all-time in any sport.

Having said all that, it once again confirms how moronic it is for anyone to simply dismiss boxing as guys hitting each other in the head. How can a sport that the most intellectual impassioned coaches love and respect be deemed as just barbaric? How can you make that point when the greatest teacher in recent team sports history swore by boxing? The sweet science helped produce a heck of a scientist in Walsh.

Joe Tessitore is the blow-by-blow announcer for ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."

Joe Tessitore has been the blow-by-blow announcer for ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" and "Wednesday Night Fights" since 2002 and contributes a weekly boxing column to ESPN.com.

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