FANS WILL BE THE WINNERS
What up Dougie! Hope this email finds you well.
I’ll make it quick. Something tells me Orlando Salido has Juan Manuel Lopez’s number. Divorce or not, you don’t get absolutely blasted in that manner and call it a “fluke.” But then again I predicted Marcos Maidana would KO Devon Alexander by the 7th, so who the hell knows. One thing is for sure, boxing fans, hardcore and casual alike will be the winners. I can only imagine what the atmosphere will be like at “El Coliseo” this weekend.
Tuesday came and went and still no announcement from Oscar De La Hoya, any idea what it is? Seeing as he is your boss and everything. JK.
Lastly, Juan Manuel Marquez should remain No. 3 pound for pound until someone outside the top 2 lb for lb beats him. And please get that damn Erik Morales fight done! Agreed? Agreed!
I guess that wasn’t so quick! Keep up the good work bro! – Adrian H, Milwaukee, WI
Thanks, Adrian. I’ll try. Forgive me if my responses to your comments and the other emails in this week’s Friday mailbag are short. It’s been a long Thursday. I drove to Oxnard (actually, Port Hueneme), Calif., to interview Sergio Martinez after a late afternoon/early evening workout. It’s not a short trip from Inglewood. After bathing my girls and helping the wife put ‘em to bed, then editing and posting back to back to back features, I’m feeling a little weary, mentally speaking.
Anyway, as soon as I get a good rest, I’ll be on the phone to the Golden Bossman, beating those drums for Morales-Marquez. Of course, “El Terrible” has to get by Danny Garcia on March 24, and that’s not a given. I think that’s going to be a typical Morales ring war, and who knows how many more of those he’s got left in that battle-worn body. I plan to cover that card in Houston. If the fight turns out to be another classic performance from the future hall of famer, even if it’s El Terrible’s last stand, I want to witness it in person.
I think “my boss’s” announcement was merely a wide-scale “check in.” He just wanted to let us know that he’s still retired and still sober. And you know what? That’s good news.
I think you’re right about Salido having Lopez’s number. I believe the popular Puerto Rican boxer-puncher is in for another hellish night against the hardnosed Mexican veteran. However, unlike last April, I think Lopez is mentally and better physically prepared to wage war.
Special fighters find ways to defeat tough cats who have their number. Muhammad Ali narrowly outpointed Ken Norton (justly so, in my opinion) in their rematch. Floyd Mayweather got by Jose Luis Castillo in their return bout. I don’t think Lopez is anywhere near the class of Ali or Mayweather, but I believe he’s a better boxer than he showed us last year. And I know the young man has a warrior’s heart. I think he’ll do just enough to win a decision on his home turf.
IF NOT FOR THE WEIGHT…
I’m predicting the Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Brandon Rios fight goes on as scheduled. I have a flight, hotel reservations and floor seats to back it up. 11th row. Turnbuckle, but still Badass. When this match-up was just a rumour I told a buddy of mine that if they fought on the moon I’d look into tickets. But lately, this sideshow from Gamboa has brought out the skeptic in me.
Gamboa’s style has gone the defensive route even at featherweight, and Bam Bam is a junior welter, two fights over by now. The smart money says Gamboa lives thru a few rounds of fire before he starts to counter and run his way to a decision. I could easily see that but I’m hoping for the intangibles; that Gamboa doesn’t carry enough power to keep Rios off him and that the move up in weight class still keeps him and his chin in the fight.
I hope that Rios comes in at a good weight, and that he backs up every word he said with bad intentions. I hope Gamboa proves to be spectacular, even under the unimaginable pressure, and that Rios brings the Cuban to places we’ve never seen him have to go. Could be a beauty. Could be a default weekend at the craps table.
Should worse come to worse, how do you like Gamboa vs. Broner at 130? If JuanMa gets it done tomorrow how does he fit in? Donaire? Maybe it’s just me but stylistically, B-Side Rios looks like the best matchup for all these guys, if not for the weight. Best. – Wes
I consider Rios to be the A-side vs. Gamboa, Broner, and anyone else from 130-140, aside for Morales and Marquez.
My hunch was that Rios would be too big, too strong, too relentless while being technically sound for Gamboa to thrive or survive for 12 rounds. I liked Rios by late stoppage, but I thought it would be a classic (and hopefully it still can be). Gamboa is fast, savvy and gutsy enough to put a hurt on Rios over the first half of the bout, especially if Bam Bam struggles to make 135 pounds. And who knows? Maybe going up in weight actually makes Gamboa stronger. That happens sometimes.
What I liked the most about that matchup was the history that Gamboa was chasing. If he beat Rios, he would prove that he’s a truly special talent, because only a handful of former featherweight titleholder have ever won a version of the lightweight title – and then men on that short list are legends: Tony Canzoneri, Henry Armstrong, Alexis Arguello and Manny Pacquiao.
The list of former feathers who have failed to win 135-pound belts include hall of famers Sugar Ramos and Azumah Nelson. So a victory by Gamboa would have held a lot of weight in my view.
Having said that, if the Rios fight doesn’t happen and Gamboa goes back to the featherweight division I would be OK with that. If Lopez beats Salido tomorrow (big “if”), I’d still like to see Gamboa take on the proud Puerto Rican. If Salido wins tomorrow, I think he’s earned a rematch with Gamby. And I believe Mikey Garcia is on the fast track to developing into a stern challenge for any elite 126-pounder (including the Cuban dynamo). If Donaire proves himself at featherweight, he would be a welcome opponent for Gamboa.
I think Gamboa-Broner would be a sensational matchup of speed, savvy and panache. However, there are current 130-pound contenders I’d like to see Broner face first, including Argenis Mendez and Diego Magdaleno (both of whom fight this month).
BOXERS DON’T HAVE A UNION
It’s easy to forget, with promoters complaining that other professional athletes wouldn’t be allowed to just not show up on their own prerogative, just how little leverage a fighter has in negotiation. They don’t have a union (like those other athletes), they don’t have any significant body of regulatory law supporting them, there are no interest groups pushing beneficial rule or statutory changes on their behalf.
For the most part, they’re immigrants who have their affairs put in order in a language they don’t understand, by representatives whose personal relationship with major promoters (in the U.S. there are really only two) are much more important than their relationship with the fighter they’re supposed to be representing.
This whole corny morality argument about how a deal’s a deal, and how it’s wrong for the fighter to threaten to back out, or that it makes him a coward, is poorly conceived. It’s a labor dispute, not a moral one. The fighter could resolve it by agreeing to take less: the promoter could resolve it by agreeing to take less. If either guy breaches, the other has a remedy available in any court of competent jurisdiction. “Cowardice” and “morality” have nothing to do with it.
I’d love to see the fight. I don’t like having my expectations dashed. But if it does end up falling through, it won’t mean the young immigrant who can’t speak English is a bad person, or poor sport, or coward for not honoring his contract with (and written by) the commercial attorney across the table from him.
p.s., If anyone thinks I’m overstating the inequality of bargaining position, invite them to download a first year contracts practice test (there are plenty of free ones on google) and see how they do. Then, remind them (1) they have the advantage of native fluency and 13-17 years of education that Gamboa lacks, and (2) the questions stumping them are an order of magnitude less complex than any real world commercial agreement (like the kind Gamboa is disputing). – Todd
I don’t think any boxing writer of note is really coming down on Gamboa (yet). The details of the dispute are still undefined, which makes it difficult to take anyone’s “side” on the matter, so far. The “coward” talk is only coming from Rios and Bam Bam fans, and you have to know that those type of insults come with professional boxing. This is a hyper-macho sport, Todd. These guys are not going to always get along like golfers or tennis players. They’re going to get nasty from time to time, especially if they feel jerked around, as Rios must be feeling.
I think a lot of fans (and boxing writers) also feel a bit jerked around. It’s not that they’re mad at Gamboa for having a “labor dispute” with his co-promoters; they’re just frustrated with his timing. Why is all of this crap coming to light now – after the damn matchup was “officially” announced and two press conferences were scheduled? Most observers believe that Gamboa should have made his feelings public as soon as the promoter announced the fight if he was as unhappy with the terms of the deal as he says he is.
Then again, maybe he Gamby didn’t know any better. I agree that professional boxers are in need of a union along with some kind of uniform contract negotiation protocol. (I also believe that trainers and cornermen are in need of a professional union, because they get used and abused more than anyone in the business – often by the fighters).
However, just because Gamboa lacks a college degree and only speaks Spanish doesn’t mean he’s stupid, clueless or easily manipulated. We’re not talking about some crude journeyman from Tijuana with a 3-8 record and no manager. Gamboa was an elite amateur. He is an Olympic gold medalist. He knows he’s got crazy talent. He knows his value. The man is worldly, ambitious, smart, and he’s had experienced, bilingual legal people represent him for quite some time.
The problem between Gamboa and Top Rank, as I see it, is not so much about negotiation as it is communication. Todd duBoef believes that Gamboa had been on board to fight Rios since Feb. 16. Gamboa believed that he was expressing his dissatisfaction with certain terms that entire time.