Before we get into this week’s Monday mailbag, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say something about the untimely passing of former two-time junior lightweight champ Genaro Hernandez. I was not especially close to the man, but I consider his brother (and former trainer) Rudy a friend. I had the pleasure getting to know Hernandez while he was still fighting in the mid-to-late 1990s, talking with him on a regular basis after he hung up the gloves, and the honor of working beside him during some of Top Rank’s international broadcasts and "Latin Fury" pay-per-view cards a few years ago.
Hernandez was a terrific fighter, a skilled technician as adept at infighting (despite being nearly 6-feet) as he was boxing from a distance. He was always poised and intelligent in the ring but never lacking heart or passion when needed. In my opinion, he was the best 130 pounder in the sport during the mid-1990s. (Imagine how good he would have been if he had healthy hands!) In fact, he helped sparked my fascination for the West Coast boxing scene. I couldn’t wait to get to Los Angeles and attend live fights after watching his rematch with Raul Perez on Prime Ticket sometime around 3 a.m. in my hometown of Springfield, Mo., during the summer of 1993, the year I moved to Southern California. The skillful infighting that he and Perez, a very underrated Mexican standout, engaged in during that rematch was enthralling. The body shot Hernandez landed to abruptly end the fight in the eighth round is still one of the best I’ve ever seen.
But as good a fighter Hernandez was, he was an even better human being. I found that out when I finally met him in late ‘94 at the L.A. Boxing Club. Hernandez was the only world champ from Los Angeles (in any sport) at the time but he was as down-to-earth and friendly then as he was after retiring to work fight broadcasts (as a color commentator and a CompuBox operator). He always treated everyone, and I mean everyone — kids, old folks, journeymen boxers, fellow world champs, homeless guys, millionaire promoters, whoever — the same, with respect. Watching him fight live and up close (I was ringside, as a fan, for his 1997 title defense against Carlos Hernandez at the Olympic Auditorium), witnessing his sparring sessions with a young Shane Mosley and getting to know his brothers Rudy and Victor was a joyful education in the Sweet Science.
When people ask me why I cover boxing, or why I love such a brutal sport so much, I always tell them that some of the best people I’ve ever met have been “boxing people.” Hernandez is at the top of that list. Rest in peace “Chicanito,” you lived, fought, and died with dignity.
A few random questions for ya:
1. Floyd Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz – how do you see it playing out? If Mayweather does in fact go through with the fight, I think after 16 months out and at 34 years of age, against a young, hard hitting southpaw, this could be interesting.
2. Is Wladimir Klitschko the most boring knockout artist of all time?
3. How should Joe Calzaghe's at the time seemingly ugly and unimpressive victory over Bernard Hopkins, be looked at now? Given what Hopkins has done since I'd say now that it could be regarded as the most impressive of Calzaghe's career, it's actually a tribute to how special he really was right?
Thanks. — Ed from UK
Thanks for keeping the random questions short and to the point, Ed. That’s how I like ‘em. I’ll reply in order:
1) I agree that Mayweather-Ortiz is an interesting matchup because of Floyd’s age and inactivity (combined, of course, with Vic’s youth and punching power), but I favor the hall-of-fame-bound veteran. I was asked if Ortiz was ready for Manny Pacquiao or Mayweather after his thrilling victory over Andre Berto and my answer was no. Nothing’s changed since then. Ortiz went life and death for 12 rounds against Berto, who happily holds his chin out to be hit and telegraphs his punches. That doesn’t bode well against the elite likes of Mayweather or the Pac-monster. Having said that, it’s a tremendous opportunity for the young titleholder. He might as well go for it.
2) He’s gotta be, but I have a hunch that David Haye will bring out the best in THE RING heavyweight champ. There may be some typical Klitschko-esque lulls in action during the fight but I think it will end with a spectacular, chilling KO.
3) I thought Calzaghe’s points victory over Hopkins was impressive at the time he scored it (I picked B-Hop in that one). Was it pretty? Hell, no, but I think Hopkins had more to do with that than the Pride of Wales. He outworked and outmaneuvered a master technician/ring general and even had the all-time great looking for “time outs” down the stretch. That’s impressive, and yes, I think it was Calzaghe’s career-best victory, followed by his points wins over Mikkel Kessler, Jeff Lacy and Charles Brewer.
NOT EXCITED ABOUT FLOYD FIGHTING VIC
I feel like the only one who is not excited about Mayweather vs. Ortiz. I don't see how anyone can respect Mayweather considering the guy he should be fighting is Pacquaio. I like Victor Oritz a lot and especially like his story, but I think everyone is giving his victory over Berto too much credit. Yes he deserves credit, but what elite fighter did Berto or Ortiz ever beat? If memory serves me right most critics were ripping on Ortiz for the Marcos Maidana loss and the Lamont Peterson draw. He then beats Berto and everyone thinks he should be in the ring with Pacquaio and Mayweather? I don't buy it. I would like to see him win, but I'm heavily favoring Mayweather.
I would have like to see Ortiz fight a rematch with Berto or Miguel Cotto, Tim Bradley, or even Maidana. I am more into Mayweather vs. Ortiz than Pacquaio vs. Juan Manuel Marquez. Pacquiao vs. Marquez is a few years too late and a few divisions too high. I don't completely blame Manny, fault lies in Mayweather’s corner. He's had 14 months too grow balls to fight Pacquaio. He's also had 14 months to listen to critics and fans who want this fight. I just don't understand. Is he afraid? I'd like to see Ortiz KO him, but I have a feeling Mayweather is going to take him to school. Thoughts? — Michael
For whatever reason, Mayweather hasn’t felt ready to get into the ring with Pacquiao. (My guess is that the answer lies in the Filipino bomber’s fourth round against Cotto and his third round versus Shane Mosley.) Maybe a victory over a strong, young southpaw boxer-puncher such as Ortiz will give Mayweather the confidence his ever-dwindling fan base has in him to make the mega-fight everyone wants to see. We’ll see.
I also favor Mayweather against Ortiz, and that’s not a knock on the newly crowned WBC welterweight titleholder. I just think his shot at a truly elite fighter is coming a bit too soon. He’s just 24 and he’s only proved his ability to fight through adversity and prevail in the Berto fight, which, by the way, was the first time he went 12 rounds in his career. Think about that. Prior to the Berto fight, we didn’t know if Ortiz could fight the championship distance. And now, in his very next fight, he’s going to fight a first-ballot hall of famer who has gone the 12-round distance 12 times against the likes of Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Zab Judah.
Now, having stated that, I should note that Ortiz certainly rose to the occasion when he went the 12-round distance for the first time. And unlike Mosley, De La Hoya and Marquez, he’s in his physical prime, as was Judah, (a fellow lefty) who gave Floyd fits in the early rounds. If Ortiz can keep his head better than Judah did, who knows? The young man might spring a huge, historical-caliber upset.
MAYWEATHER DESERVES CREDIT
I am sure you will be inundated with emails about the subject, but I just got to weigh in on the Mayweather/Ortiz fight announcement. I love this fight, and fans have got to give Mayweather credit for this one. For all the crap he pulls he also pulls some sweet ass moves like this every now and then. Here are my reasons this will be good:
1) Pre-fight. You know this pre-fight talk will be good. If all the media got under Ortiz's skin then Mayweather is going to push all the right Ortiz buttons from day one. Who can forget that look on Ortiz's face when he walked into the ring looking like he was coming from Hell to get Berto? The new trash-talking Ortiz won't be able to let the Mayweather digs slide and he will bring that into the ring, guaranteed.
2) The matador needs a bull to look good. Let's face it JMM isn't a bull, he's a matador. Same with Shane. If Ortiz isn't a bull at welterweight I don't know who is. His power is awesome and he was relentless in the Berto fight. He is big enough and hungry enough to bully Mayweather for twelve rounds. Ortiz will make this fight interesting and I don't see Mayweather KOing him, although Ortiz may hit the mat once or twice. If Ortiz makes it a good fight, he is in a no lose situation with this fight.
3) This is a big middle finger straight at Arum who keeps on giving the "I'm sorry I'm giving crappy opponents to Pacquiao, but my hands are tied because nobody else is a PPV attraction" B.S. (Maybe this garbage worked before the Mosley fight, but it is getting pretty damn tired) Pacquiao should have been fighting Ortiz in November, props to Mayweather for doing it instead.
Thanks. — David
Thanks for writing in with your opinions, Dave. I’ll address your points in order you gave them:
1) I’m not really looking forward to any trash talk between the two fighters, but I am curious to see how Ortiz will handle the pressure of being part of a really big promotion. He’ll have to deal with more than Mayweather’s mouth during the build up to this event, he’ll have to handle more media requests and more questions about his mettle than ever before. I hope Ortiz just gives Mayweather his due respect during the multi-city press conference tour, lets Floyd act however he wants, and then checks his respect at the door when it’s time to climb into the ring.
2) I agree that Ortiz can make this fight interesting. Mayweather has always had a little trouble adjusting to the southpaw stance during the early rounds of his bouts with lefties. His jab is disrupted and he winds up lunging a bit with his right hands. Oh, and he gets hit more against southpaws. DeMarcus Corley buzzed him pretty good and Judah scored a flash knockdown that referee Richard Steele missed. So it makes me wonder what big, strapping young Mr. Vicious can do if he connects early. However, I can see Mayweather scoring a KO. Ortiz does not have world-class whiskers and he’s extremely vulnerable to right hands. If sloppy ass Maidana can find him with dozens of flush right hands, my guess is that Mayweather can land that particular punch at will. And with Floyd’s technique, accuracy and underrated power, I think he can turn the young man’s lights out sometime during the second half of the fight when the kid slows down. Anyway, the possibility of either fighter scoring a KO only adds to the appeal of the matchup.
3) I don’t think Pacquiao was obligated to fight Ortiz in any way following the Berto fight. That was Victor’s coming out party. Most of us agreed that Ortiz needed at least another two scheduled 12-round bouts against world-class opposition before facing the likes of Pacquiao or Mayweather. I don’t think Floyd is taking on a “world-beater” in Ortiz, but I will give him credit for not facing another 38- or 39-year-old veteran. After fighting Marquez and then Mosley, he was due to face a young gun. So will Pacquiao after his business (and that’s all it is) with Marquez. If Pacquiao doesn’t face the Mayweather-Ortiz winner in his fight after Marquez, he better be fighting Tim Bradley.
1) I was disgusted to see Pacquiao's fans comments on several articles urging other readers to boycott the Mayweather-Ortiz fight. My guess is these are the same Pacmaniacs who bombarded Kevin Iole with nasty emails when Iole sort of suggested to boycott the Pacquiao-Mosley fight. I am a Pacquiao fan but will support and watch the Sept. 17 matchup on PPV knowing it will bring lots of action similar to Mayweather-Hatton fight.
2) My idol Oscar De La Hoya showed how BIG OF A MAN he is when he apologized to Pacquiao and to Top Rank. A lawyer pal of mine told me that there was no case against the GBP but couldn't say the same thing about the Mayweathers. No wonder Oscar is still well loved by many and his action just showed that sometimes you have to be wrong (apologizing) to get things right. We know he did it for boxing and the fans. Get well soon, Chico!!
3) With things getting better now between Top rank and GBP, I was surprised to read Bob Arum making dumb comments again. His statement about Mayweather-Ortiz fight on BoxingScene was unnecessary and will only open the old wound.
Lastly, I am looking forward for the next 6 months with the line up of Khan-Judah, Money M-Ortiz and Pacquiao-Marquez. These are the times when my 20+ boxing friends and their families (wives and kids) get together and really enjoy being with one another. Who said boxing is dead, eh?
I would remiss if I don't add that my pals here in Vancouver read your columns immaculately!! Keep up the good job there buddy and hope you cheer for the Vancouver Canucks. LOL. Cheers. — Jay
Thanks for the rants, Jay, I’ll respond to them in the order they were given:
1) Mayweather-Hatton was not an "action" fight. It was rather uneventful (recent hall-of-fame inductee Joe Cortez saw to that) until Hatton pooped out and got rocked by a power shot in round eight. From that point until the stoppage in the 10th it was interesting. Quick question: Where the hell are Pacquiao’s nuttier fans calling for a Mayweather-Ortiz boycott? Before anyone answers that, I have two questions of my own: 1) How can the hell can they justify boycotting Mayweather-Ortiz when their hero is fighting a 38-year-old lightweight champ (who was dropped hard in his last bout) at welterweight? 2) Who cares what they say?
2) Oscar showed his classy side by apologizing to Arum and Pacquiao. Maybe I’m old fashioned I think it would have been classier if he had called them to apologize directly (especially to Arum) and then tweeted a public apology, but at least he offered the olive branch. Kudos to Oscar for seeking help with whatever addiction is preventing him from living his life to the fullest. It takes more courage to face those inner demons than it does to step into the ring.
3) Were you really surprised? Dude, come on, this is Bob Arum we’re talking about. He generally doesn’t have anything positive to say about fighters or fights that he isn’t promoting. He damn sure ain’t gonna have anything nice to say about two guys (Floyd and Victor) who jumped from the good ship Top Rank to the S.S. Golden Boy after he helped develop them.
Anyway, just so I don’t end this mailbag on a sour note, “Let’s go Canucks!”