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Wednesday, April 29.

 A note to Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Well Floyd, Ali called you out. He just tweeted that he’s really the Greatest. And he is. Ali is the greatest heavyweight in history, but the ultimate great is still Sugar Ray Robinson. Floyd, you have to look at it this way: you are at a disadvantage because your generation of millennial era champions has had things relatively easy. As a millennial era champion, you fight only twelve round title bouts. The championship rounds, thirteen to fifteen, were eliminated in 1987. That hurts your title fight resume. That’s a real gap and there’s nothing you can do about it, Floyd. All  you’ve ever needed to do is to go twelve rounds, not fifteen, as Robinson did for fifteen years of his twenty five year career. From 1946 to 1961. From age twenty five to forty.  

Floyd, you’re 38. Do you have a fifteen rounder in you now?  I don’t know but, neither do you because you’ve never gone more than twelve rounds. Can you say your the greatest or, what you call “The Best Ever,” after fighting a career of twelve rounders?

Look, maybe since 1987 when the fifteen round title fight was eliminated from boxing, you might be the best of that lot. I might agree with that. Let’s assume that you are the best of the twelve round champions dating to 1987.  But, the greats went at least fifteen rounds. Names like Gans, Johnson, Dempsey, Leonard, Louis, Armstrong,  Robinson, Marciano Ali, Duran and even Sugar Ray Leonard are part of a long list of champions that did what you have not and can not do.

Floyd, lets’ go back to Sugar Ray Robinson for a minute. Have you fought more than 200 fights? Have you knocked out 109 opponents, as Ray did? You’re 38. If you beat Manny and go to 49-0, you tie Marciano. If you do, why not take it easy and hang around a while until you’re forty. Then, try to beat Marciano’s undefeated record with a fifteen round title fight. You can do it for your fiftieth career fight. How about it?

Oh, I have more on Sugar Ray, Floyd. Want more? I don’t think you do.

Good luck on May 2. I hope the check cashes. 

Bill Gray

Author-Boxing’s Top 100-  The Greatest Champions of All Time.

 

 

 

Right On The Button!

MAYWEATHER VS. PACQUIAO

By Bill Gray 

April 9, 2015

 

 "I promised the fans we would get this done and we did. Giving the fans what they want to see is always my main focus.”  - Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

My initial thought was, finally! After five years, Mayweather-Pacquiao is actually going to happen. 

I was pumped to see this fight. I thought about each fighter. I tried to visualize how they would fight each other and I had a hard time picking a winner. Then, reality settled in. I wondered at what point in history Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather would have been a great fight; an epic battle, one for the ages.  Would it have been a better fight a couple of years ago, or in 2010 when they first talked about fighting each other?  

This is a fight between Pacquiao, a once great champion who is thirty six years old and long past his prime, and Mayweather, maybe greater all time, but even older at age thirty eight. Mayweather is still undefeated but wasn’t he really at his best say, ten years (and ten fewer pounds) ago? 

May 2, 2015 is fast approaching and I wonder just how good will this highly anticipated fight will be. Let me rephrase: how good CAN this fight be?  This fight should have taken place about eight or ten years ago. In 2005, Mayweather was twenty eight and at his peak when he weighed 139 pounds and drubbed a burned out Arturo Gatti, on June 25, 2005. At that point Pacquiao was twenty five and in the midst of his golden era. He fought at 130 pounds and squared off multiple times with great fighters such as Eric Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez.  Ten years ago, Pacquiao was an electrifying whirlwind and Mayweather was cat quick and unbeatable. Now, in 2015, this fight will be like watching Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus going head to head at a Senior PGA tournament.       

Much of the pre fight hype has been about the money this fight will generate. Mayweather is to receive at least $120,000,000 and Pacquiao will bank $80,000,000.  Pay per view will charge us about $100 to watch this bout at home. Ringside seats at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas will cost around $30,000. If there was ever a fight to avoid spending $100 to watch from your couch, this has to be it. It’s happening far too late. Whoever wins this fight will have beaten an old man.  

But, let’s look at the fight and the fighters. When discussions began in 2009 for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, I felt that Mayweather would win decisively and yet, in looking at how they each did against common opponents, you had to give Pacquiao a real chance. I believe that Mayweather was leery of meeting Pacquiao back in 2010. Thirty four year old Oscar De La Hoya gave Mayweather a very tough fight in 2007, which Mayweather won by split decision. Pacquiao overwhelmed De La Hoya in eight rounds a year later. Mayweather out boxed and then caught an overly aggressive Ricky Hatton barreling in and put Hatton away in ten rounds. Seventeen months later a brutal left hook from Pacquiao left Hatton for dead in the second round.

Despite Pacquiao’s losses to Juan Manuel Marquez and Tim Bradley in 2012, it’s clear that he has slipped but he’s not completely shot. The first Bradley fight was close and I actually thought that Pacquiao should have won the decision.  Against Marquez, Pacquiao decked and bloodied J.M.M, but in round six, Manny made a mistake and walked into a right hand that knocked him cold. It was a shocking ending but the margin of error was razor thin between these two fighters who were meeting for the fourth time. All of their fights, dating to 2004, were wars; a total of 42 rounds of three minute wars. To find two fighters that knew each other any better, we’d have to go back to Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake La Motta, who met six times from 1942 to 1951. Marquez said after the fight, "The most important thing was avoiding his left hand. After we did that, we were able to counterpunch him.”  

What else does Mayweather do anymore but counterpunch and cover up?  Will that be his strategy and if so, will the fans be able to stay awake?  

Two straight losses by Pacquiao, then a thirty four year old, long time champion, could have signaled the beginning of an irreversible decline. Once a great but aging champion loses, there’s a sense that they are near the end. The fighter begins to doubt himself, puzzled why punches that had carried him to championship glory, no longer reached their target as often or, with the authority that they once did. How many times have we heard aging legends, after an unexpected loss, say that they could see openings but couldn’t connect? They say they need to work harder to regain their edge but, in the back of their mind, they know. They know their reflexes have slowed and will never return. If they’re smart, they’ll retire but, not many aging champions get out in time. They may continue to fight on with their diminishing skill and risk professional embarrassment and physical damage by struggling with younger fighters that they would have toyed with in their prime.  That was how many pundits saw Manny Pacquiao after his two losses; losses that ended a seven year, fifteen bout winning streak that dated to 2005. 

But, Pacquiao didn’t fade away. As he did following his 2005 loss to Erik Morales, Pacquiao came back with a vengeance. He won fifteen bouts in a row. He stopped Morales twice. He beat Marquez twice. The peerless Shane Mosley hit the deck and came out on the short end. De La Hoya was humiliated and he retired. Ricky Hatton, Antonio Margarito, and Miguel Cotto were left in Pacquiao’s dust. Pacquiao was probably the best fighter in the world from 2005 until 2012 when he lost to Tim Bradley and was knocked out by Marquez.  And yet, Pacquiao came back again; a critical attribute of great fighters. Pacquiao beat Brandon Rios and then he dominated Tim Bradley to regain his title. Recently, he literally knocked Chris Algieri all over the ring, and dropped him six times. In all three fights, Pacquiao looked good. He was quick, aggressive and in superb condition. Was he as good as ever? Of course not. No thirty six year old fighter is physically as good as he was in his twenties. Still, an older Pacquiao appears to be a very capable fighter. His problem is that Mayweather, at age 38, also appears to be quite good. 

The most intriguing aspect of this fight will be watching two very old champions trying to hold together in the most important bout of their careers, for a total purse worth $200,000,000.  It is by far, the most lucrative fight in the history of boxing.  

Pacquiao has nothing to lose but Mayweather has everything to lose. If Pacquiao wins, Mayweather will no longer be undefeated. He will no longer be a champion; he will no longer be called the best ever, and he will no longer be the best pound for pound fighter in the sport.  If Mayweather loses on May 2, I think we’ll see a fast rematch and possibly, a third fight.             

For several reasons, there has never been a fight like Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. Only one other time has a bout between very old title holders come remotely close to happening. In 1959, Archie Moore and Sugar Ray Robinson met to set up a bout. Moore had held the light heavyweight title for seven years and Robinson had recently defeated Carmen Basilio, to regain the middleweight title for the fifth time in seven years. Moore was forty four and Robinson was thirty nine. When they finally hung up their gloves, they ranked as the two greatest champions in boxing history. By 1959, they were still good fighters but years past their prime and, they were seeking to fight not for titles, not for glory, but for money. Moore and Robinson haggled about which one should get the higher percentage. The fight never happened because they could not agree on how to split the money. 

Mayweather and Pacquiao will enter the ring as champions in the twilight. Pacquiao has been fighting for twenty years and Mayweather for nineteen. Mayweather is thirty eight, undefeated and still considered to be the best fighter in the world. Realistically he is not. Mayweather is the bigger man; almost two inches taller than Pacquiao, and he has a five inch reach advantage.

Mayweather began his career in 1996 as a nineteen year old featherweight (126 lbs.), while Pacquiao turned pro in 1995 at age sixteen, as a flyweight (112 lbs.). Clearly, Mayweather has physical advantages but, the mental aspects might be in Pacquiao’s favor. After the fight was made, odds makers made Mayweather a heavy favorite. Lately though, the odds makers have begun to rebalance their portfolio and the odds have tightened.         

Mayweather kept putting this fight off over the last five years but at no time did Manny Pacquiao indicate his unwillingness to fight Mayweather. Manny has been ready to go for five years. It was Mayweather and his blood doping allegations against Pacquiao, which kept derailing this mega fight, until it became pointless to hope that it would ever take place.   

When Mayweather was thirty three, he was a virtual lock to beat anyone, including Pacquiao. Now, five years later, he’s thirty eight and while he’s never been seriously tested in the ring, funny things can happen to a thirty eight year old boxer. The vast majority of champions retire long before they reach age thirty eight. In fact, I found that no thirty eight year old fighter has ever won a title fight. Thirty seven? Yes. Thirty nine? Yes, once. But not at age thirty eight. Winning a title bout beyond age thirty six is very rare.  

A few years ago I wrote a book called Boxing’s Top 100 – The Greatest Champions of All Time, an analysis and ranking of the careers of 700 champions from 1880 to 2000. Have a look at aging fighters:

From age 30 on:    

AGE ---------- Number of boxers that won a championship fight

30    ------        58

31    ------        36

32    ------        29

33    ------        20

34    ------        12

35    ------        29

36    ------          9 

37    ------        10

38    ------           0

39    ------           1 

40    ------           1 (Bob Fitzsimmons)

41    ------           1 (Thulani ‘Sugar Boy’ Malinga)

45    ------           1 (George Foreman)

47    ------           1 (Archie Moore)

48    ------           1 (Bernard Hopkins)

49    ------           1 (Bernard Hopkins)

 

Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Robinson won their last championship fight at age thirty seven.  Muhammad Ali was thirty six. Joe Louis was thirty four. Jack Johnson was thirty six. Henry Armstrong was only thirty one when he lost the welterweight title to Fritzie Zivic in 1940. Four months later, Armstrong tried Zivic again and Zivic stopped him in twelve rounds.  Armstrong never fought for a title again. He plodded on and finally retired at age thirty four. 

All time greats. Whatever gifts the great ones have cannot defy age. It’s sad and somewhat frightening to watch a great fighter suddenly get old in the ring and get his clock cleaned by a fighter whose only advantage is youthful strength and stamina. Neither Pacquiao nor Mayweather have the advantage of youth in this fight. More to the point, they both have the disadvantage of being old. Each man is a relic of the past fighting another relic. There is a point that can’t be exceeded. A fighter in his mid thirties is an old fighter and vulnerable. Mayweather is well beyond that point and Pacquiao is right there, too. It’s worth noting that the fighters who won title fights after age thirty nine were in much higher weight divisions than Mayweather. Malinga was a super middleweight, Bernard Hopkins, Archie Moore and Bob Fitzsimmons were light heavyweights and Foreman was a heavyweight. None of them relied on speed at any point in their career. Power and leverage was their game. Pacquiao and Mayweather do rely on speed but how much do they have left?  On the other hand, if they are both running at about seventy five percent of what they were in their prime, might this still be a good, competitive fight? Maybe, but I doubt it.

Whoever wins this fight will have beaten an old man.    

After the recent Gennady Golovkin -  Martin Murray fight, Roy Jones, Jr., discussed aging fighters, specifically himself, Pacquiao and Mayweather. Jones dismissed age as an issue. He said, “I was thirty six when I won the heavyweight title!”  Actually, Jones was thirty four when he beat John Ruiz to win one of the alphabet soup heavyweight titles. After defeating Ruiz, Jones immediately returned to the light heavyweight division and he fell apart. At age thirty five, he was knocked out by Antonio Tarver and lost his light heavyweight title. The Tarver bout would be Jones’ final world title fight. In his next bout, Jones was knocked out by Glen Johnson. When he finally turned thirty six, he lost a decision to Tarver. Jones was thirty nine when he was bloodied and battered by Joe Calzaghe, who was thirty five years old. Calzaghe retired after the fight but Jones kept going, chasing a buck instead of a dream.   

I mention Roy Jones because at his peak, Jones was considered to be, as Mayweather is now, the best pound for pound fighter in the world. Jones was not a flat-footed power puncher. His main assets were his hand speed, timing, balance, quickness and his legs. Jones and Floyd Mayweather were quite similar. When Jones’ speed and quickness deteriorated, he quickly faded. Since beating Ruiz, Jones’ record is 12-7 and he is still an active boxer at age forty six, but no longer considered to be a championship caliber fighter. All of his seven losses have been to younger fighters, fighters that Jones would have toyed with in his prime. 

Jones’ knockout loss to Tarver placed him at a crossroads that he was unable to navigate. Pacquiao’s losses to Bradley and Marquez also left him at the crossroads, calling into question his skill level and competitiveness. Mayweather has never had a crossroads moment. The closest he came was his split decision win over thirty four year old Oscar De La Hoya, in 2007.  Mayweather has never given us anything to measure other than excellence. He has been perfect for nineteen years. 

Pacquiao won his first title at age nineteen by stopping Chartchai Sasakul in eight rounds. He then defended his WBC Flyweight title by stopping Gabriel Mira in the fourth round. In his next defense, Pacquiao failed to make weight and was forced to relinquish his title when he weighed in one pound over the flyweight limit for his defense against Medgoen Singsurat. Having your title vacated just hours before a defense can send a young boxer into a nosedive. To make it worse, Singsurat stopped a dried out Pacquiao with a wicked body attack in the third round. 

While Mayweather is still unbeaten, Pacquiao has been defeated five times. Of those five losses, three were by knockout. We know how Pacquiao responded to losing. He came back and ran off long winning streaks. After losing the first fight of his career, Pacquiao won his next sixteen fights and, at age twenty, he moved up to 122 pounds and he went unbeaten in his next fifteen bouts. Sixteen years later, Manny Pacquiao is still a champion. He has been at the crossroads several times in his long career, and he has always managed to come back. The boxing world will now see what this self effacing and quiet man is made of.  While not the greatest fighter of all time, Manny Pacquiao is truly one of the more remarkable boxers of all time.

So, thanks Floyd and Manny, thanks for making this fight finally happen and for giving us what we want. It would have been better if this fight would have happened five or ten years ago, but it is what it is: an event.  Let’s just hope it will be an entertaining fight.

I don’t believe either man now has the firepower to stop the other unless one of them suffers a bad cut. I imagine Pacquiao will force the fight but Mayweather will hide in his defensive bunker and dazzle us with his shoulder roll and peek-a-boo guard. He will tie up Pacquiao in close. He’ll land some right hands. He will lie on the ropes and kill the clock.

My pick is Mayweather to win this fight by unanimous decision. However, this won’t be Ali-Frazier or Duran vs. Leonard.

This one could be a real dud.

Invest wisely. 

    

 

 

Right On The Button!

Blogging on Boxing

By Bill Gray

 

May 2, 2010

Mayweather vs.  Mosley  /  Jones vs. Hopkins

 

Within the last three weeks, four of the premier boxers of the last twenty years:  Shane Mosley, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Roy Jones, Jr. and Bernard Hopkins climbed into the ring to settle old scores. As expected, it was not Shane Mosley’s night in Las Vegas (May 1).  Facing Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Mosley won the first round and he had one (and only one) strong moment when he connected with two right hands to Mayweather’s head in the second round. The first right surprised and stunned Mayweather and the second right buckled Mayweather’s knees. For a moment the bulletproof Mayweather was in trouble but he grabbed Mosley, held tight and his head cleared quickly.  Mayweather came back firing at Mosley as the round ended and he claimed the initiative in round three with some hard shots to the head. From that point Mayweather pitched a shutout and he cruised to a lopsided decision. 

In an earlier column I said that I expected Mayweather to win but last night Mosley seemed to grow old before our eyes.  He may have been stale after months of training, first in preparation to meet Andre Berto last January 30. Berto pulled out of to join the relief effort in earthquake ravaged Haiti and  Mosley was given a crack at Mayweather in the aftermath of the collapse of a Mayweather ‘s  bout with Manny Pacquiao.

Whether or not he spent too much time in the gym doesn’t matter. If Mosley left a lot in the gym or was at a peak , he had no clue how to fight Floyd Mayweather, Jr.  One might surmise that had Mosley been five or ten year younger, the outcome would have been no different.  Mosley had no jab and without the most basic door opening punch in boxing, Mosley was confused and he seemed to ponder each move to the extent that he couldn’t get off.  Mayweather simply reacted and landed single shots; mostly jolting right leads to Mosley’s head from a variety of angles. After Mosley’s brief uprising in round two, Mayweather built an insurmountable lead by winning ten straight rounds on all cards. The fight should have been stopped after nine rounds because Mosley was just not competitive.  He looked confused and he took unnecessary punishment from  Mayweather who seemed content to carry Mosley across the finish line.  HBO’s Emmanual Steward said that if Mayweather had the kind of mean streak of a Roberto Duran or Thomas Hearns, he would have put Mosley away.  

After the fight the issue of a Pacquiao fight came up and Mayweather stuck to his guns. He spoke of his willingness to meet Pacquiao if Pacquiao would agree to Mayweather’s demand and comply with  random drug testing.  Mosley, who had used performance enhancing drugs in the past, agreed to Mayweather’s demand and both men were repeatedly tested during training.  Pacquiao said he will submit to a test but not within 24 days of the fight.  So neither fighter has changed his stance that derailed the fight in the first place and Mayweather still has Pacquiao on the defensive.  The kind of drug testing Mayweather demands of his opponents is not wide spread in professional boxing.  It is an Olympics rule but it is a good idea. 

On one hand I want to see Mayweather and Pacquiao fight but I applaud Mayweather for putting illegal PEDs in the spotlight.  If Pacquiao is “scientifically enhanced”   he should pay a price. If he’s clean, prove it and step in and get it on with Mayweather.  Quit ducking the issue.  I’m interested in seeing the two premier fighters in boxing meet soon, but to be honest  I would not be bitterly disappointed if they don’t fight.  My appreciation for Floyd Mayweather, Jr., is rising. For much of his career, I’ve wanted to see Mayweather get his rear end kicked.  I don’t like his style or his theatrics, but I do admire his honesty, his ability, his confidence and his dedication to his job.  I have never seen a better conditioned fighter than Floyd Mayweather, Jr.  He knows that he’s the guy we love to hate and he’s willing to fight anybody on a level playing field. That he wins so easily is the point that enrages us, I suppose, but Mayweather is on a level above everyone in his midst. He’s rarely been pressed hard in his entire career and he will continue to roll on.  Nobody can touch him including Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather has handled the layoff question that I brought up a while ago and he’s as good as he’s ever been.  What kind of a chance does Manny Pacquiao really have against Floyd Mayweather?  As I see it, Pacquiao can fight Floyd Mayweather, Jr.,  with or without drugs in his system and it won’t matter. Manny Pacquiao will lose and he will lose big.  If Mayweather finds a bit of the mean streak that Emmanuel Steward mentioned, he will put Manny Pacquiao away.    

In the other Battle of Legends, Bernard Hopkins after seventeen years got his rematch with Roy Jones, Jr.  At age forty five and fifteen pounds heavier than he was in his middleweight prime, Hopkins still does a pretty good impression of Bernard Hopkins.  He can still fight and apparently he will continue to do so.  Jones, now forty-one years old suddenly began leaking oil more than five years ago and much of the natural ability that made him a force in the ring is gone.  He should not fight anymore and based on his recent efforts, he appears not to want to fight hard. He made a good buck for fighting Hopkins and he should stuff it in his mattress and get on with his life’s work.  

Most of the action in this fight took place on the ropes. The ropes are Hopkins’ workspace while Jones needs the middle of the ring. When the bell rang the two came to the center and carefully feinted and probed.  Hopkins bull rushed Jones to the ropes.  They clinched and slapped and thirty seconds into the round, Jones launched his signature move. He dipped low and drove forward with his left and right hands held wide apart. In the past his opponents were caught off guard by Jones’ sudden attack and they usually froze.  Jones, moving forward in a blur, would dig a hard hook to the liver or a straight right to the chin, stunning his opponent and sometimes knocking him down.  One thing Jones’ lightning quick move always did was to embarrass his opponent and put him on the defensive for the rest of the fight.   Jones rode that audacious maneuver to the top but this time when Jones dipped and began to launch, Hopkins was ready and he stepped back and out of range leaving Jones hanging there, a mile from his target. A wicked grin appeared on Hopkins lips and he then followed with a reasonable impression of Jones’ move, which caused Jones to flinch and back off, a tight smile of embarrassment and resignation on his lips. They squared off again and Hopkins moved in and banged the body.  Jones moved away, got his distance and shot a left jab at Hopkins head but it lacked snap and the quickness Jones used to have.  Hopkins picked it off.  Jones’ failed signature move and his inability to mount an effective offense pointed out that Jones is no more than an average fighter now.  With his fading will, diminishing firepower and a pottery chin, all Jones can do now is cover and avoid a big shot to the head.  Age has taken a toll and Jones is no longer special. He is now a defensive-minded fighter content to go the distance, collect his check and go home. 

Whether you like Jones or not, one thing is certain:  In his prime, Roy Jones, Jr. was one of the most gifted athletes ever seen in the ring.  Jones is no longer an elite athlete and the gifts he once possessed are worn out. Jones has lost his speed of foot and hand, his balance is off and he’s short on stamina. At age 41 and coming off a first round TKO loss to Danny Green in Australia last January, it’s likely that the Hopkins fight was Jones ’ last big fight although he may fight on. After the fight Jones didn’t seem to be concerned about his loss or his future.  At some point he has to understand that he is now embarrassing himself when he fights.  After being routed by the 36 year old Green and the 45 year old Hopkins, the spotlight has gone out on the Roy Jones, Jr. show.    

 After the bout I ran both fighters Career Quality scores and Hopkins now ranks as the 12th best champion of all time, just behind Joe Louis (11) and ahead of Azumah Nelson (13). Jones fell to number 40, just below Barney Ross and above Jose Napoles.

Now that Hopkins has been able to settle a seventeen year score with his victory over Jones. What is in his future?  He said he wants to go after WBA heavyweight champion David Haye. I can’t say that he shouldn’t fight Haye because Bernard Hopkins knows what he can and cannot do. He’s a modern day version of Archie Moore, who held the light heavyweight title until it was stripped from him at age 48. Hopkins’s devotion to training is legendary and possibly without precedent in a fighter past age 40. Training is tedious and monotonous but Hopkins seems to enjoy it. It is crucial for any fighter to remain fit between bouts. Having to take off a lot of weight drains a fighter over the years but because Hopkins has never let his weight balloon between fights, he is probably in the best condition a 45 year old fighter can be in. Hopkins has never had to worry about losing a lot of weight. He’s always been a gym rat and he takes his job very seriously.  I hope that both Hopkins and Jones will retire but especially Jones. He was not badly beaten by Hopkins, but he was overwhelmed by Danny Green and before that by Glenn Johnson, Antonio Tarver and Joe Calzaghe. Jones is just a stepping stone now; a name fighter for one of the new breed of light heavyweights to put on his record. 

For the record I have never been a huge fan of Roy Jones, Jr.  While I appreciated his flashy skills, I share the thinking of many who believe that Jones built his career by beating fighters who were far beneath his caliber. Roy Jones, Jr. was a great showman for his time but in terms of historic greatness, I feel  that  over the years  Jones  will fall short of genuine boxing  immortality. On the other hand, Bernard Hopkins will go down as an enduring and all time great champion.   

 

 

Joshua  Clottey and Shane Mosley – Not Their Night   

 

Do you find it odd that after cancelling the Pacquiao Mayweather bout, both fighters quickly agreed to fight someone else? With a reported fifty million dollar purse on the line why take such a risk?  Fights are postponed and rescheduled all the time. The risk of a lucky punch by Clottey or Mosley, or a butt that opens a bad gash are just two scenarios that could derail the Pacquiao - Mayweather match.  There’s a lot of hype surrounding the March 13 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey. Clottey is big and strong and a natural welterweight. He can take a punch and he vows to take the fight to Pacquiao and try to knock him out instead of letting Pacquiao chase him and cut him down. Look, if Clottey does go straight at Pacquiao from the opening bell, the outcome will be the same for him as it was for Ricky Hatton. This is a pay per view fight that will cost us $49.95 to watch.  Twenty five dollars a round is a high price to see a fight that makes no sense because Joshua Clottey has no chance and I think he knows that he has no chance.  Moving past this bout; what about Shane Mosley vs. Mayweather on May 1? I actually think that Mosley has a shot in this fight. He’s 38 and past his prime but he’s far from being washed up. Mosley has the skills and can adapt to any opponent’s style.  On paper, this fight might be a mistake for Mayweather. Might be, but like Clottey,  Mosley has no chance either.   A victory by Joshua Clottey or Shane Mosley would mess up the biggest money fight in boxing history.  You don’t mess with the money and the money wants a fifty million dollar Pacquiao Mayweather fight before this year is over. 

Fifty million dollars is an enormous sum that will be split equally between the two fighters. That’s why Pacquiao and Mayweather are fighting ringers before they meet later in the year. They have to earn some of their purse now in carefully scripted bouts. The rest will come when they finally meet later in the year.   The pay per view crowd will actually spend more than $150 to see Pacquiao Mayweather.  That won’t be the pay per view charge for Pacquiao Mayweather but add it up: $49.95 for Pacman Clottely, $49.95 for Mosley Mayweather and then at least $59.95 for Pacquiao Mayweather.   That’s pay per view revenue of more than $150 for United States viewers.   Mayweather - Pacquiao should break the record for largest pay per view audience of 150,000 that saw Mayweather defeat Oscar De La Hoya in 2006. If the Clottey and Mosley fights draw 100,000 viewers each that would add about ten million dollars to the bottom line.  Twenty five million dollars comes from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who won the bid in December to host the Pacquiao Mayweather bout in Cowboys Stadium.  That moves the take to thirty six million.  If the pay per view audience reaches 200,000 at $59.95, that would generate about twelve million dollars and that would bump the total gate to forty eight million dollars. The remainder will come from the live audience at the fight and worldwide commercial TV will add millions more. Pacquiao and Mayweather will get their twenty five million, Jerry Jones should make a profit and the HBO pay per view end should make out nicely too.  Do you still think Clottey and Mosley have a chance?

 

Is Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Ready for Manny Pacquiao?

    

When Sugar Ray Robinson began his comeback, he was age 33. Robinson had already fought 137 times and when he returned he showed little of his old skill. He fought like a washed up fighter but the difference between Robinson and just about any former champion who comes back is that Robinson still had a burning need to excel, to matter and to be a champion. Like many ex-champions, Robinson also needed money and while he looked bad in his first few comeback fights he was not convinced that he was finished and he kept going until he regained some of his old ability.

 

Robinson’s comeback began on January 5, 1955 with a six round knockout of Joe Rindone. Although it was a classic Robinson knockout; a quick left hook and right cross to the jaw, Robinson had been disappointed in his performance until he connected for the knockout. He said, ‘I couldn’t put any punches together and my timing was off.’ Still, once the fight ended, Robinson was elated. He ignored his lackluster effort and focused only on his sudden knockout; the eighty-eighth knockout of his career. Robinson thought, ‘I still got it!’

 

After stopping Rindone, Robinson took a fight with Ralph 'Tiger' Jones, a journeyman with a record of 31-12-3 and the loser of five straight fights. Jones outworked Robinson. He bloodied Robinson's nose in the first round and cut him in the second. Robinson landed what he thought was a good left hook in the second, but it didn't bother Jones. After six rounds, Robinson had lost every round. He needed a knockout to win and he couldn't do it. Again, Robinson's timing was off and Jones hit him hard many times. At the end of the ten round bout it was clear that Jones had won. To make it worse, the fight was on television and Robinson's fans were shocked at his deterioration. He didn't win a round and he received a flood of criticism for his poor showing.

      

Robinson exploded angrily when George Gainford, who’d worked with Robinson since he was an amateur, tried to shock Robinson into retirement by telling Robinson that he would no longer work with him, ‘for his own good.’

 

At this moment the Floyd Mayweather Jr. - Manny Pacquiao fight set for next March appears to be off. Mayweather is still in training but Manny Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum has indicated that Pacquiao’s next fight might be against Paulie Malignanni; a match with all the appeal of a pre season football game. Things fell apart shortly after the fight was announced when Mayweather’s camp floated the possibility that Pacquiao could be using performance enhancing drugs, pointing out that in past bouts Pacquiao refused to submit to a blood test less than 30 days before a bout. This caused uproar and Pacquiao allowed himself to be maneuvered into a defensive when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife position when he met the allegation with silence and then attempted to explain his objection to blood testing. Others, including Oscar De La Hoya, jumped on and ridiculed Pacquiao for his possible fear of hypodermic needles to the more damaging accusation of using a performance enhancing substance.  Pacquiao took umbrage with Mayweather and he sued Mayweather and company for defamation. In a matter of days the biggest fight in years was off and Malignanni was tapped to be Pacman’s next meal. I have no idea if Pacquiao is using anything illegal but I’m puzzled by Mayweather’s timing and motive and troubled by Mayweather’s fitness to fight the battle hardened and dangerous Pacquiao so soon after a long layoff.

 

If Mayweather is simply trying to get under Pacquiao’s skin, why play the juicing card so soon? It seems to me that from a typical pre-fight head messing standpoint, it would make better sense for Mayweather to drop this kind of a bomb a week or so before the fight, rather than days after the fight was announced. Calling Pacquiao out so quickly makes me question if Mayweather is starting to think that he could use a few more fights before he meets Pacquiao. I believe that Mayweather’s gambit was a clever ploy intended to put Pacquiao and company on the defensive and give Mayweather an opportunity to delay and get himself into better condition.

 

Mayweather ended a 21 month layoff in September and he looked good in handling Juan Manuel Marquez; a fighter who’d given Manny Pacquiao two very hard fights. Their first was a draw in 2004 and the second was a split decision win for Pacquiao in 2008. While Pacquiao got away with a win and a draw, I felt that Marquez had the edge in both fights. Matching Mayweather with the aging and smaller Marquez was a deliberate decision made to provide a common opponent for a fight with Pacquiao. Mayweather basked in the afterglow of his impressive return to boxing but after Pacquiao tore up Miguel Cotto in November, Mayweather suddenly dropped the juice bomb on Pacquiao after their fight looked to be a go.

 

I don’t blame Mayweather if he is harboring doubt and trying to buy more time before he meets Pacquiao in the ring. While Mayweather had no difficulty defeating Pacquiao’s toughest opponent, history has demonstrated that even the great boxers can’t come back after several years off and fight at a championship level right away. I’m not suggesting that Pacquiao will blow away Mayweather as he did to De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Cotto, but Pacquiao is certainly on a roll and probably at his peak. Put simply, Manny Pacquiao is a conditioned and battle hardened boxer and Floyd Mayweather Jr. is not. While greats like Jim Jeffries, Jack Dempsey, Benny Leonard, Joe Louis, Evander Holyfield and Roy Jones, Jr. tried and failed to return to glory, there are exceptions.

 

The excerpt that led off this piece was from my book Boxing’s Top 100 - The Greatest Champions of All Time which John Benson and I published in 2006 and can be purchased right here at JohnBenson.com. For that book I created an objective record based database to analyze and rank 700 champions dating from John L. Sullivan in 1882 up to 2000. My system ranked Ray Robinson as the number one fighter of all time and over the past couple of years I’ve continued to tweak my database and add fighters who have become champions in the twenty first century.  At the moment I have Floyd Mayweather, Jr. ranked number 26 all time, while Manny Pacquiao is at number 56 - one spot below Harry Greb and one spot above Oscar De La Hoya.

 

While Mayweather is a rare talent, I don’t put him in the class of Ray Robinson, and Robinson had a very rough time getting back into the swing of things. Robinson’s first five opponents in his comeback had collectively lost 74 fights but each of them presented problems for Robinson. It took him five bouts and a shocking loss to Jones before he was ready to meet a ranked fighter in Rocky Castellani, who stood between Robinson and a December 1955 middleweight title shot at the champion, Carl ‘Bobo’ Olson.

 

Castellani (63-8) had Robinson on the floor in the sixth round and he stunned Robinson several times but Robinson managed to do enough to win a ten round split decision and secure a shot at Olson, whom he knocked out in four rounds. After a two and a half year layoff, the greatest boxer of all time returned to the ring at age 34 and while he initially struggled against weak opposition, he began to get his game back in order. By the time Robinson met Castellani he’d recovered some of the unique rhythm, speed and confidence that made him great. It took the greatest fighter of all time one year and six fights to get back to a semblance of what he had been, and he went on to add to his legend by winning the middleweight title for the third time. Mayweather is attempting to do what Robinson did but in just his second fight on the comeback trail. What’s troubling is that Mayweather, in opposing Pacquiao, is dealing with a much tougher fighter than Robinson faced in his comeback.

 

My point is that there have been more failures than successes in comebacks by great fighters. Mayweather is making a big mistake in meeting Pacquiao so early in his comeback. Over his career Mayweather has met some very good fighters, but he’s never seen anyone with Pacquiao’s power, aggressiveness and quickness. Could the pre layoff Mayweather handle today’s version of Pacquiao? I think so, but I doubt that he can pull it off if they fight in March.

   

While Robinson succeeded, don’t forget that Muhammad Ali came back at age 29 after a three year layoff. He faced a ranked fighter in Jerry Quarry in October 1970. Ali won quickly because Quarry sustained a deep cut above his eye in the third round. The ring physician would not allow the fight to continue, so Ali's comeback lasted all of nine minutes. He looked pretty good for nine minutes. Ali appeared to be fit and he danced around the ring as if he’d never left it. Quarry came straight at Ali and Ali had little difficulty hitting Quarry with a left jab and he was able to tie him up when Quarry worked in close. But, like Robinson in 1955, Ali’s timing was off and he missed on his combinations. After the most dramatic return to the ring ever and a victory over a ranked heavyweight, the general opinion was that despite his three year layoff, the remarkable Ali was as good as ever. He was not.

 

Ali’s next bout was in December 1970 against Oscar Bonavena, a fighter slower than Quarry. Bonavena was a ranked heavyweight who was chosen because he’d given Joe Frazier two tough bouts. Bonavena was made to order for Ali. He was a durable, awkward and immobile block of man who could absorb punches and keep coming. Ali hoped to cut up Bonavena and stop him and then he could brag about how he stopped a man that had twice floored and gone the distance with Joe Frazier. Bonavena had thudding power but it was easy to avoid his punches because it took so long for Bonavena's looping blows to arrive. After his brief but impressive work against Quarry, Ali was shockingly awful against Bonavena but he gutted it out and stopped an exhausted Bonavena by dropping him three times in the fifteenth round. Ali tired very early in the bout and he looked slow and poorly balanced all night. His timing was terrible and he had no snap on his punches. Ali took a surprising amount of punishment from Bonavena and after the bout questions came about Ali’s conditioning and his ability to deal with heavyweight champion Joe Frazier. After so long away, two comeback fights were not enough to get Ali into the kind of condition necessary to fight Frazier. Ali had to doubt what he had left as a fighter but he could not risk a loss in another tune up bout so he ignored those who urged him to fight a few more easy opponents and he signed to meet Joe Frazier for the heavyweight title in March 1971.

 

Ali trained hard and sparred many rounds but his legs were not strong enough. He danced but only in spurts and too often Ali found himself trapped on the ropes where he was forced to stand and trade with Frazier, which was Frazier’s strength. Frazier pounded and punished Ali and had him reeling in the eleventh round and on the floor in the fifteenth. Frazier won a lopsided decision and Ali’s championship days and career appeared to be over. The Ring’s Nat Fleischer wrote Ali off as a flash in the pan and refused to rank him as one of his all time great heavyweights, citing Ali’s decisive loss to Frazier as evidence that Ali was all smoke and mirrors in the 1960s.

 

It took Ali over three years and thirteen bouts before he got another shot at the heavyweight title. In this period Ali’s conditioning and timing improved and at age 32, Ali regained the heavyweight title in 1974 by knocking out George Foreman in the eighth round. By then, Nat Fleischer was in his grave.

 

Ali and Robinson offer proof that there are no shortcuts in boxing; especially for fighters in their thirties. Note than when Ali came back against Quarry, he was three years younger than Mayweather is now.

 

At this juncture Mayweather would be wise to have a few more fights before he steps into the ring with the relentless Manny Pacquiao. This is a fight that must happen and it will happen, but let’s not be impatient. More than anything this should be a great fight between two great fighters. Right now only Pacquiao is a great fighter. Given enough work Mayweather can get everything back. If he does we’ll have the rare opportunity to enjoy watching two great fighters go at it for big money and the glory of holding the title of best fighter in the world.

 

If the smoke clears and they actually do fight in March, I think Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be in for as rough a night as Muhammad Ali was on another March night, 39 years ago. 

 

COMMENTS: Bill@Bluelightningpress.com

 

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