PACQUIAO-MOSLEY & OTHER NEWS
I am not sure why promoters are saying that they don't want to take their fighters to Canada because of the judging? Hopkins vs Pascal was close either way. I have seen a lot worse decisions in Las Vegas, yet no one ever says 'No more Vegas fights for my fighters!' When was the last time a non-PPV fight that was in the US had 16,000 or more show up? Mosley vs Margarito? Other than that one I cannot remember. Maybe a DeLaHoya fight?
I am thinking about making the Fernando Montiel vs Nonito Donaire fight my first 'Vegas' fight. I'm thinking this will be a real good one. What are your thoughts?
What are the top 5 trainers you wish you could work with (if you were a boxer), not 'greatest' trainers? Mine would be Bouie Fisher, Joe Goossen, Teddy Atlas, Freddie Roach, and Nacho Beristain. I think that I would respond well to Teddy and Joe's styles based on what I have witnessed over the years. Freddie always breaks down fights in a way that I totally get, and based on a few interviews I have read Bouie seemed to be the same. Nacho's fighters always seem to know all the tricks and are well prepared.
Have a great Christmas/Holiday Season and New Years!!!! — Anthony, San Diego
Thanks Anthony. I had a great Christmas day with family in Tucson, Arizona, and I’m looking forward to the New Year with tremendous anticipation.
The Top Five trainers I would work with if I were a fighter (even the mere thought makes me laugh out loud) are Amilcar Brusa, Ken Adams, Emanuel Steward, Joe Goossen, and Bouie Fisher.
Brusa is the great Argentine trainer who molded Carlos Monzon from a skinny teenager to one of the greatest middleweight champs of all time. He used to be based in Los Angeles, where he trained a dozen other fighters to world titles. I used to love listening to Brusa‘s many stories (with the help of veteran corner man Tony Rivera’s translating because he doesn’t speak English) and his training philosophy. The old man (he was in his 80s) is my top pick because he always got the best out of all of his fighters, even those with average talent (and if I were a fighter I know I'd be very average), and they were never over trained.
Adams and Steward are two trainers I admired as a hardcore fan and got to know as a journalist. I get along with both coaches and enjoy talking boxing with them. I’ve always liked the textbook form and sharp offensive technique their fighters exhibit. I figure I’d need a lot of basic fundamental work as a fighter.
Goossen is as accomplished as any active trainer in the world but he makes my list because of his personality. I just vibe with the guy (as most of his fighters do) and I think a good rapport is one of the most important elements to a successful trainer-fighter relationship.
Fisher is like the American version of Brusa, in my opinion (although the Philly native hasn’t trained as many champs, he molded Bernard Hopkins from a raw puncher into the great all-around technician that continues to amaze fans to this day). He has an entire philosophy to his training methods and many of them (from proper nutrition to avoiding burnout in the gym) are identical to Brusa’s. Also, like the Argentine, Fisher is a laidback personality. He’s not the kind of trainer to yell and scream or to make unreasonable demands. I always performed better for mellow coaches in high school and my guess is the same dynamic would hold true for boxing.
That was a good Top Five subject. Regarding Montiel-Donaire, dude, don’t even think about it. Buy those tickets now. I guarantee you that it will be worth it. The Mike Jones-Jesus Soto Karass rematch is the co-featured bout and I’m sure the good folks at Top Rank will put together one or two other hot matchups on the undercard. However, the main event is as good as it gets.
I totally agree that American promoters should continue to do business in Canada. The risks of getting jobbed there are no greater than the risk of foreign fighters getting a bad decision here in the good ole U.S. of A. American promoters belly ache a little too much when their fighters lose close fights in other countries (and you’re absolutely correct in calling Pascal-Hopkins an “either-way“ bout). Germany’s Universum brought Felix Sturm to Vegas to fight Oscar De La Hoya and their guy lost a unanimous decision in a bout where many observers though he won anywhere from seven to nine rounds. Unlike B-Hop, Sturm didn’t suffer two knockdowns. But you didn’t hear Universum swear off America. They brought Andreas Kotelnik to St. Louis where their guy lost a unanimous decision to Devon Alexander in a bout many observers thought the Ukrainian deserved to win. If Universum’s reps complained after that fight they certainly weren’t as loud about it as GBP and GSP have been following the Pascal-Hopkins fight.
And good point about the live gates in Canada. I think Margarito-Mosley is the last non-PPV card that drew over 16,000 in the U.S.
I can’t blame ya for wanting to pass on the Pacquiao-Mosley fight. But let’s see how you feel when it’s closer to fight time.
KHAN'T WAIT FOR THE NEW YEAR
I've been thinking about Khan and his future fights. I thought he was very lucky to make it out of round 10 with Madaina and immediately thought the kid was good, but not great. I didn't think and still don't think he is a complete elite fighter and could hang with the likes of Mayweather or even Pacquiao. Originally I said I'd favor most of the top tier 140 pounders over Khan, but now I'm starting to think differently. Yes, Khan can be knocked out, but I don't think he can be out boxed. At this point with the 140 division I think the person who beats Khan needs to have power and have a nice reach and be tall unless it's a one-punch KO. Madaina's only chance of winning was one punch or to get him hurt and end it. He was the smaller man and did not have the boxing ability to box with Khan. This being said, Bradley and Alexander are too small for Khan and I don't believe they have the power to end it. My guess is fights with both of these men end in a close majority decision for Khan. Khan is a big light welterweight and I believe you need a big light welterweight who has power to beat him at this point. However people might feel about Ortiz I think he might be what the Doctor ordered for Khan. He's a big light welterweight, has power, and is a lefty which give most fighters problems. I can see an upset here if Ortiz is mentally and physically ready.
I've been a Pacquiao fan for a while and I thought the Margarito fight wasn't right, but it was a fight that could sell and I bought into the hype. I thought Pacquiao was different in that he wants to fight the best and give fans what they want. He's proving otherwise by facing Mosley. I love Mosley, but he is done. Even the casual fan dismisses him as a viable opponent after what Mayweather made him look like, not to mention his Mora fight. Arum can say what he wants about Marquez, but I would bet that a Marquez or Mosley fight does around the same numbers plus there is a lot more to sell with Marquez as far as story line. It's obvious to me Arum makes all the decisions and Manny is a puppet. I can't wait to a fighter says no to their promoter and fights the right guy. Arum is not fooling anybody, by saying he's going outside his stable because at this point Mosley is an honorary stable mate and Marquez is with the enemy. Paquaio-Mosley is bad for boxing in my opinion. He should have taken care of unfinished business with Marquez even though I'd favor him by a lot. He'd definitely get more respect with this fight. Could you imagine he said no to Mosley and then fought Marquez at 138-140. He can still make that wait comfortably. He'd get even more respect than he already has, imagine that. Thoughts? — Michael
Pacquiao has lost a little bit of his luster with me. I think he’s a great talent who has all-time great accomplishments to his credit but he’s not behaving like a great fighter. He and Floyd Mayweather had an opportunity to prove who was the best fighter in their division, the best pound for pound, and who was truly the best fighter of the last decade by fighting each other in 2010. It didn’t happen and both fighters are to blame.
I believe that truly great fighters find ways to fight the absolute best of their eras no matter what. I hold Pernell Whitaker and Julio Cesar Chavez in a higher regard than I do Pacquiao or Mayweather because they fought each other when the time was right. They didn’t let their promoters or their networks or anyone stand in the way of that fight from happening. Special kudos to Whitaker because he was fine with Chavez’s promoter (Don King) being the lead promoter of the event and he was willing to face the Mexican icon in San Antonio. Sweet Pea (and his advisor Shelly Finkle) pissed off HBO (which had a contract with the fighter) by fighting Chavez on SET (Showtime’s PPV arm), but hey, the guy was a real fighter. He looked at Chavez and the Mexican’s 87-0 record and he saw an opportunity to further advance his legacy. He went for it, just like Sugar Ray Leonard did by fighting Thomas Hearns at the time of their classic first bout.
It’s very rare when two fighters in their primes, who are thought to be the pound-for-pound best, wind up in the same division. When it happens the best thing for the sport is for those two to fight (like Leonard and Hearns or Whitaker and Chavez).
I’ve known for years that Mayweather is not interested in what’s best for the sport. He’s only interested in himself. I thought Pacquiao was different. It looks like I was wrong. I’m not saying he’s as self-centered as Mayweather (that's impossible), but he could stand up to Arum if he really wanted to. I don’t believe Pacquiao is anyone’s “puppet.” He knows he’s the f____ing man. He knows he’s boxing biggest attraction right now. He’s got power and influence. He could have used it to get Arum more on board with the Mayweather negotiations or to demand more worthy fighters than Margarito and now Mosley. I don’t think he did.
I think it’s clear that Pacquiao is comfortable with his legacy as it stands and that every fight from now on is just part of an extended “victory lap.”
I think the Maidana fight showed us what Khan is “made of,” so to speak. Physically speaking, he’s not the most durable cat in the game, but his heart is world-class in my opinion. He’s got a lot pride and with his athletic ability and skill it can take him very far as long as he doesn’t get too cocky or overconfident.
I agree that Ortiz might have the right combination of size and ability to upset Khan. I hope that fight comes off next year (Ortiz is the No. 1 contender for the WBA title that Khan holds).
I also hope Khan faces the winner of Bradley-Alexander, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m going to enjoy Bradley-Alexander, which will be upon us before we know it, and then I’ll pontificate on what might happen if and when the winner of that showdown faces Khan.
I also have no clue as to who will win Montiel-Donaire. I slightly favor the Filipino Flash but it’s a real toss up. Montiel has the experience and technique. Donaire has the size and reach. They’re almost evenly matched in terms of speed, power and talent. It’s great that both Montiel-Donaire and Bradley-Alexander are on HBO.
It is common knowledge that Sugar Ray Robinson was the greatest of all time. I have been watching him on YouTube. What made him great was those little unbelievable pissed-off spasms he would have. If he touched you, you’re done. It’s timeless power and aggression. I've never seen anyone close. Young bucks, just type in “Sugar Ray Robinson on YouTube, ‘nuff said. — Robert
Indeed. ‘Nuff said.
VENTING VITRIOL ON A PSUEDO-SPORT
What up big Doug! I'm taking some time off for the holidays, and I managed to carve out a few extra minutes to send you a holiday hello. Also, I wanted to vent some vitriol concerning our beloved psuedo-sport. First off, let me wish you and your family a happy holidays my halfrican friend. The years are whirling by at an alarming rate. Do this favor for me, and I'll do the same for you. Take a moment to remember that, even though every single one of your friends are hideously ugly smoke trolls, devoid of social graces, and embarrassingly stupid, you get to return home to a beautiful family. For that you should be thankful.
It's no secret amongst my friends that I no longer consider boxing to be a legitimate sport. Boxing is more a mash of arranged sparring matches, carefully choreographed by managers and promoters to ensure maximum profit for them, minimum benefits to the fighters, and disappointment to the fans. I'm convinced that the biggest power brokers in boxing are equally sure the sport is dying, and have made the decision to mine the current market of as much money as possible, while allowing our sport circle to drain. They'll use their new war chests to segue into more legitimate business, like tattoo parlors and nail salons. I know boxing has been inundated with negative forces for years, and has survived reasonably well. But I fear it's on it's last legs. I began to lose faith when I noticed the number of people who defended the sport, dared to tell the truth, and fought for the sport’s improvement, seemed to be dwindling. These days, there aren't more than a handful of people in the sport who truly seem to care about what a sham the sport has become. Add me to the list of those who won't cry when boxing is back to fighting in barns on ESPN “the Ocho.”
Pac vs Margarito was the last straw for me, but I'm sure the ex-boxing fans of the past have had equally good reasons to draw a line in the sand. Little by little, the sport’s base is disappearing. I can't remember the last time I spoke to a person below 30 years of age who could name more than one current world champion. When I tell a white person that I'm watching the fights over the weekend, they automatically assume that I mean the UFC. And why wouldn't they? UFC competitions may be boring, but they do appear to be legitimate in nature. Maybe my youthful idealism has been replaced by age old cynicism, and I've become a curmudgeon, like Michael Katz. I certainly have the neckline for it. I have boxing memories going back almost as far as I can remember. Damn near every friend I have is involved in boxing in some way. Hell, I'd hate to read the mental list of sacrifices I've made to boxing, in, and out, of the ring. I would've never thought that I could not care about boxing. But I don't. I surely never thought I'd want to separate myself with the game. But I do.
My buddy Mike, (who I've mentioned to you many times, but you've never met) Gino, and myself where at Fair Oaks Cigars last night smoking a freebie and talking the fights. It was reminiscent of those same Algonquin Round table discussions we used to have back in the good old days, when your pony tail was still black, and I looked like Quasimoto’s Down Syndrome afflicted Italian cousin Retardalos. I didn't want to leave. If Gino hadn't needed to get down the road to Lo-Lo's Chicken and Waffles, we'd have stayed all night. During the drive home it occurred to me that most of our conversation had been about fighters who are no longer active.
It's not that today's fighters aren't as good as the fighters of the past. Hell, we just had four good fights on Dec. 11. But the fights don't carry the same gravitas. The fights, the titles, and the results have all been devalued. And, concurrently, so have the fighters. What adult wants to eat at McDonalds? Or watch McFighters compete for McTitles? I'll still go to see the fights over at Mike’s once in a while. Not because I care about the fights, but because I like talking with Mike and smoking a stogie. But, I will never again pay to see a fight. Nor will I ever travel to see a fight live. Unless, of course, Juan Manuel Marquez fights, and then only because I promised Speed I'd pay next time. I put together this list of things that I think boxing must do, if it wants me to become a fan again:
1) Boxing has to go back to having one recognized champion at every weight. It's ridiculous to think there can be more than one world champion at any weight. It's confusing to the average fan, it waters down titles, it makes historic comparisons useless, and it encourages graft. The sanctioning bodies themselves, sans The Ring, are not legitimate, so how can the titles be legitimate? Don't agree with me? Find someone who isn't a boxing fan, and try to explain to them why boxing has four world champions in every weight class. (Not counting interim champions, super champions, and diamond belts) That look on their face as you struggle to explain your rationale is the sound of your sport dying.
Thank you, this completes my list.
I also have a list of things boxing should do it if wants to be taken seriously in comparison to real sports:
1) Stop fights sooner. It used to be you could count on a corner to stop a fight when their guy was outclassed. You can't do that anymore. Unfortunately, you also can't count on the referee to do it for you. JMM vs Katsidis is a good recent example of a fight that was stopped at the right time, but that's an all to unfamiliar example. The bottom line, the key personnel in the typical fighters corner isn't as knowledgeable, or professional, as they once were. With that in mind, the referee needs to step in quicker than in the past. Doesn't matter how much, or what kind of boxing advertising the network and cable channels provide, it's always going to pale in regard to the advertising that boxing gets from it's fighters. Every time a marble mouthed zombie ex-fighter is seen in public, the sport suffers by comparison. No parent listens to James Toney and says, “I want my son to grow up to be just like that guy.” Ali brought a lot of fighters to this sport in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but his condition since has chased even more away.
2) Make it harder for older fighters to get licensed. I'm not saying a guy like B-Hop shouldn't be allowed to fight. But he should be subject to a helluva lot more screening before he is licensed. It's not just for his good, but for the sport’s also. If it were up to me, Joel Casamayor, Jesus Chavez, Mike Anchondo, Antwon Echols, Shane Mosley, and myself would all be refused boxing license in the U.S. (I would also refuse a license for Dmitry Salita. Not because he's old, but because he sucks, and he shouldn't be allowed to shame the sport of boxing by continuing to compete. He should fight Paulie Malignaggi for the Metro-sexual championship of Palm Springs.)
3) Assign a disinterested third party to designate referees & judges. How ridiculous is it that the head of the Texas Boxing Commission assigns his son to referee every major boxing match in Texas? Is it really a coincidence that “Neither Firm, Nor Fair” Joe Cortez, who most think should never again referee a major fight, and also has a reputation for breaking fighters prematurely, gets assigned to referee a headlining fight featuring a house fighter who can't fight on the inside, and another who can't fight any other way? And was anyone really surprised when Cortez deducted a point from the non-house fighter for no apparent reason? Let's put the elbow into its proper context. Ever seen an instance where a fighter was on the ground, and the standing fighter attempts to hit him, and misses? Doesn't happen often, but it does happen. Have you ever seen the standing fighter penalized a point for the missed blow? Neither have I. Cortez penalized Maidana for his supposed intent, not the result. How often do you see a referee break fighters when one fighter is still clearly punching? Or jump between them when one fighters turns his head away because he's hurt? Nobody but the fans seemed to care. HBO hardly noticed that Cortez was incompetent? I haven't heard anything from NSAC on the matter? Maidana’s corner was clearly upset about it, but don't seem to think it's worth pursuing. It was mentioned by a few writers. (K9, of course) But, it all seems long forgotten now. I'm not implying that anyone involved is corrupt. The salient point is, nobody cares whether the root cause was corruption or incompetence.
Both are now so commonplace in the sport, they've become acceptable. Boxing has become the slow witted child of the sports world. We still
4) Boxing needs to provide insurance for it's combatants, and it should encourage them to seek medical help when needed. Boxing leads to brain damage, which leads to depression. Kelly Pavlik is far from the only world class fighter who trains on the bottle. Is there a correlation between what happens to them at work, and what they choose to do after work? Who knows? But, for those fighters who have been seriously damaged in the ring, Ripple isn't going to replace sound medical care.
Sorry this was so long. I assume you read the first paragraph, skipped to the end, and moved on. That's what I would've done. I actually ran spell check this time. Consider it my Christmas gift to you. Love, Peace, and Hair Grease my friend. — Kirk
Happy holidays to you, Kirk. I didn’t skip a line. Although the subject matter was depressing in parts you made a lot of sense and you made me laugh out loud a few times. Your emails are always a joy to read.
This one was tough to respond to because at times it gave me a hopeless feeling about the sport.
Then I remembered that you live in Arizona, which should be a boxing hotbed but for various reasons (lack of promoters, strong commission, messed up politics, etc.) isn’t. You, Mike and Gino should be going to live fights at least once a month, watching talented young up-and-comers such as Jose Benavides cut their teeth in the ring, instead of going to cigar shops and just talking about boxing. I live in the greater L.A. area as you know and I’m lucky enough to work in the boxing industry as a writer. My location, probably more so than my job, gives me hope for boxing’s future. The gyms I frequent are packed with young talent from every part of the world and, just as importantly, the club shows that take place in various areas bring in fans, and not just hardcore heads and relatives of the participating fighters. The shows bring in first-timers and some of these folks get hooked the way you and I did decades ago.
My wife often asks me for tickets to the Fight Night Club shows that I do color commentary for. She thinks I’m a big shot who can get free tickets. I’m not. I buy the tickets and give them to her to give to the folks she works with. I do this because I want her to think I’m a big shot and because I know that the sport will attract some new fans from the curious folks who give it a chance. I’ll be the first to admit that some of the FNC shows this year had horrible matchmaking that resulted in blowouts and/or boring matches. However, EVERY time my wife brought some co-workers (and I’m talking about nerdy research assistants who told me they’d never seen a boxing match live or on TV and didn’t even think the sport was legal anymore) to one of the FNC cards they all enjoyed the show. At least one of them would tell my wife that they are going to start watching boxing on TV or join a gym after each show.
So I know the sport's product is still good. However, I also know that much of what you’ve pointed out in your email is true. The sport is extremely unorganized and the “powers that be” don’t seem committed to doing anything about it.
I disagree that the top promoters believe the sport is dying and are merely trying to make as much money as they can before they hop off the sinking ship (although I sometimes wonder about Bob “F__k everybody!” Arum). They’re all still signing fighters. Golden Boy has probably signed 35 fighters this year alone, and at least half of them are young prospects with less than 10 bouts.
However, you can ask what kind of sport will these young fighters mature in? Will it be able to support them? Will it just chew them up and spit them out? And will anyone give a damn?
I don’t have the answers. I want to keep a positive outlook but I’m just as uncertain about the sport’s future as you are. I think our age has something to do with this angst. We both came of age when boxing was still on network television. We also watched many supremely talented badasses work their brutal craft on the best of the best during those decades. So it comes as no surprise to me that the subjects of your cigar sessions with Mike and Gino are fighters of the past. I can’t help but compare (unfavorably) Mayweather and Pacquiao to Whitaker and Chavez or Leonard and Hearns. Does that make me a curmudgeon? I hope not. Because I see a lot of potential in today’s top young fighters.
Your fear that boxing is on its last legs has a lot to do with the fact that the sport is in a transition period. I think the sport is nearing the beginning of a new era (the internet age?) and like every time of transition from one way of doing things to another there is resistance, anxiety and a lot of nostalgia for what’s “familiar” — the fighters and the structure of the “old” era of boxing that we grew up with.
The old era had one champion in each weight class. I agree that it’s important for the sport to have a recognized champ in every division but it’s a pipe dream to think the sanctioning organizations are going to disappear. The alphabet titles are here to stay. Their doing too much business (particularly overseas) to fade away. Do the McTitles make the boxers who hold them into McFighters? Maybe. Maybe the McFans don’t care. Or maybe real fans recognize that they’re just belts. Trophies more or less for the better fighters to collect on their way to higher status within the sport.
I think the media and the fans need to demand as many title unification bouts as possible. The U.S. cable networks with large budgets (HBO and Showtime) need to demand unifications. The winners of these unification bouts will begin to gain recognition as the “real” champs. In most cases these champions will also hold THE RING titles, but not always. I don’t care. I just want to know that real “world” champs can still exist in most weight classes.
There’s hope. We’ve got real champs at heavyweight and middleweight. We might get one at junior welterweight and super middleweight before 2011 is finished.
Beyond champions, and perhaps more importantly for the health of the industry, I see more than a few potential attractions developing among boxing-loyal nationalities in key markets. Saul Alvarez, Juan Manuel Lopez and Nonito Donaire come to mind. There are others.
However, if these young guns are to thrive in the near future, everybody involved with the sport (and this includes the fans and the media) should become involved or support the four things you listed that boxing should do if it wants to be taken seriously.
1) Stopping fights sooner (or rather having corners and officials who know when to stop a fight) is imperative. You’re absolutely right that most of the folks who call themselves trainers or corner men these days either have no idea when their fighter have had enough, are afraid to stop the fight for fear of being fired by the fighter, or just don’t give a rat’s ass about how much punishment the kid takes. State commissions could crack down on incompetent corners but the easier way to regulate the situation is to have better-trained officials — and not just the referees but the doctors and corner inspectors. The best way to ensure these officials get the best possible education is to have them learn from the best and the most experienced trainers and corner men. Every commission should have at least one mandatory seminar with veteran trainers, corner men (such as cutmen) and referees teaching a new generation of officials to, among many other things, know when to say when.
2) I think any pro fighter with more than seven years in the sport should be watched closely. There need to be more comprehensive neurological exams done on veteran fighters that are compared to the results of previous exams. Any fighter who shows a significant decrease in cognitive aptitude or blatant outward signs of neurological deterioration (such as slurring) should have his license revoked or at least suspended until more tests can take place. (By the way, you just had to work in a dig at Salita and Malignaggi in this email, didn’t you?)
3) While I agree that having a “disinterested” third party select referees and officials looks good to the general public, I’m not sure it’s the answer to the problem of crappy/suspicious looking officiating. Who would this third party be? Everybody’s biased on some level. I think we just need more new blood in the officiating of major bouts. The perfect stoppage in the Marquez-Katsidis fight you mentioned was by Kenny Bayless. We need more Kenny; less Cortez. Good referees should be rewarded by commissions with more (and higher-profile) assignments. By the way, both Khan and Maidana were the house fighter (both are promoted by Golden Boy).
4) Medical insurance for all pro boxers is an idea that’s long overdue. I’m sure the fighters who have made good money, such as Pavlik, can afford individual plans and specialists (if they want to). But what about the journeymen without decent managers, who take beatings to build the records and develop up-and-comers and who basically keep the sport rolling?
Sadly, I have no idea how to get such an initiative started, but I’m more than willing to donate time and money (what little I have) to this cause. I agree that the sport could encourage more fighters to seek medical/psychological help. Who knows? Maybe if Edwin Valero had the right therapy/counseling he and his wife would be alive and his kids wouldn‘t be orphans.
Well, as usual, Kirk, you’ve provided a lot of food for thought. But now my brain is full and I’m going to get some sleep.
Thanks for the well-thought out and often hilarious words of caution on the direction the sport is going and thank you for the kind reminder about my family at the start of your email.
I hope to see you soon, brother, and if not while I’m still here in Arizona, then at a boxing match in 2011. I refuse to give up on the sport or you as one of its most astute fans.