Despite the efforts of nutritional science and fad dieters, purveyors and consumers of the sweet science still know there’s no substitute for Sugar.
On Monday afternoon TSS spoke with noted boxing historian Bert Sugar for his perspective on Cinco de Mayo’s World Series of Hype. Sugar’s seen it all (or so it seems) and offered some interesting thoughts on the fight, the fighters, and the significance of the entire storm.
“I don’t think any fight short of Ali/Frazier I could live up to the hype [surrounding this fight],” offered Sugar when I asked the obligatory question about how ODH/PBF delivered the goods. “It might not have been the fight of the century, but it was the promotion of the century.”
Sugar even suggested that perhaps the fight was marketed too well. Now there’s an interesting thought. Is there not a point where something becomes so hyped that it can’t possibly meet or exceed expectations? This fight may have set records, but I doubt many customers, particular the newbies targeted, walked away feeling that they got more than their money’s worth. In that regard this fight nearly set itself up to be the “Ishtar” of boxing.
As Sugar put it, “It was for the hardcore purists. I don’t know if this fight won over the ‘look-see’ fans. It had all of the tactics we expected, but it missed some of the drama and the ‘wham bam, thank you ma’am’ that some were expecting.” He went on to compare it to bringing someone to a baseball game for the first time only to witness both pitchers working shutouts. For a huge baseball fan that would be the experience of a lifetime, but the beginner would surely be confused why the hell 40,000 people showed up for it.
The other problem with the promotion was the barren undercard. “I couldn’t get up to use the restroom enough,” quipped Sugar. No offense to the fighters, but this card should have been a huge growth opportunity for the sport. “Boxing should have used a strong card to grow the fan base,” according to Sugar. But in the culture of boxing that sort of responsibility is for suckers. It’s safer for Golden Boy to stick with its own stable, I suppose. And to their credit, they certainly displayed ample manure accumulation from said stable. But enough of flogging a dead horse…
What about the actual fight?
Two things caught Sugar’s attention during this bout. First of all, he was surprised that Mayweather was able to match De La Hoya’s power, particularly late in the fight. He was also impressed with De La Hoya’s handspeed early in the scrap. The fight essentially went as he expected otherwise. Like the rest of the world, he had predicted Floyd by decision.
“I had it going in almost even, with Floyd my choice because of his speed,” said Sugar. “Floyd’s right lands starting in round eight were devastating. He was supposed to have fragile hands, but they didn’t appear to bother him,” added Sugar, shocked by the damage PBF was able to inflict on the larger De La Hoya on the occasions he was actually moved to deal.
Sugar was also impressed with Oscar, but the younger, quicker man at the top of his game was simply too much for him. He agreed that perhaps half of the rounds in the fight could have been scored for either fighter, though, and he even witnessed scorecards on press row ranging “anywhere from 9-2-1 Mayweather to De La Hoya winning convincingly.”
Finally, I broached the topic of Floyd Mayweather and his precious legacy. In my own average idiot’s opinion, I think Mayweather is obsessed with this issue. So obsessed that he does not want to risk getting hurt or embarrassed in the ring. With his handspeed, accuracy and above average pop he could be a true fan-friendly legend, which is the irony of his predicament. Instead he wants to maintain his perfect record, which actually alienates the fans who will ultimately assign him his place in history. But I’m sure his posse of yes-men are still enamored with him.
How about a boxing historian’s take:
“Sugar Ray Robinson rolls over in his grave when Mayweather puts himself at that level. But he is one of the most gifted fighters I have seen.”
But how can he prove himself as one of the all-time greats?
“When he shows me he can knock out anybody with one punch going backwards.”
As great as PBF has proven himself to be, aggression will always be a key ingredient to any all-time great boxer.
Despite his “retirement”, Floyd is just 30 and has time to prove all of his doubters wrong, yet.
As for Oscar, Sugar believes he will return to the ring and said “boxing’s ATM machine” displayed that he has plenty left in the tank and should make his farewell to the ring with a victory.
Oh, and he most definitely does NOT want to see a rematch.
Sugar would also like to add that he is currently working on a book with Angelo Dundee, “My View from the Corner” featuring a foreword by Muhammad Ali. Look for it around Christmas time.