Barrera is best known for his two wars with Erik Morales and for exposing the one-trick pony Prince Naseem Hamed as exactly that, a one-trick pony. In the Hamed bout Barrera boxed like never before, winning the boxing world over and exposing 'The Clown Prince.' Barerra more or less erased Hamed from the boxing map, allowing boxing purists to say "I told you so".
With 40 KO's in 57 wins there is little doubt that the 'Baby Faced Assassin' can lay the hammer down on the toughest nail, but we now know the kid can box a little too. In facing the southpaw Hamed, Barrera was very effective with the jab - a punch that typically does not work well against lefties. If Barrera can establish that punch once again against the hard charging southpaw PacMan, we could see a similar result to the dominating performance Hamed witnessed firsthand.
Barrera's loss to Erik Morales was controversial and the two defeats to Junior Jones proved that one fighter can have another's number, as styles really do make fights. Barrera has never been "officially" knocked out, though he was going, going, gone in the first bout with Jones before being DQ'd as his corner came onto the ring to save their fighter. Still, after his wars with Morales and other heavy hitters (such as Hamed), you would have to say that Barrera has a decent set of whiskers. Perhaps the same cannot be said of Pacquiao.
Manny Pacquiao made a splash when Lehlohonolo Ledwaba splashed to the canvas and left the IBF trinket around Pacquiao's waist. The late sub from the Philippines made his mark on US soil in 2001 with the win over Ledwaba in Las Vegas and has kept the title ever since.
Pacquiao carries sleep drops in both hands, but it will be interesting to see if he is able to find Barrera with his jab to set-up the rest of his arsenal. While it is easy to say that PacMan has yet to fight someone of Barrera's caliber, we must remember that there just aren't many fighters that good. Among the better fighters on the resume of Pacquiao are Jorge Eliecer Julio and . . . no, that's it. Really, he hasn't fought anyone close Barerra's level, and he now takes a step up from 122 to 126 to take on his toughest opponent ever.
Pacquiao's last opponent was the amateurish looking Emmanuel Lucero who fought a poor fight and ended up "pirouetting" away from Pacquiao with little birds singing over his head thanks to a tasty left. If ever a fighter had been knocked onto Queer Street it was Lucero, who eventually found a nice spot to rest at the end of the block. The ropes saved him from the ground but he had already come down to the reality of being out of his league. Note from Knish: Please feel free to send hate mail should I use ballet terms such as "pirouette" in a boxing article again.
A big question mark for many in this fight is 'what will happen if/when Pacquiao lands a crunching shot?' For me the real question is 'what will happen when - not if - Barrera lands his hard combinations effectively?' Pacquiao has won 29 of 37 bouts by knockout, but has two losses on his resume that both came by way of KO in the 3rd round. In other fights with respectable Nedal Hussein and the 4-4-1 Serikzhan Yeshmangbetov - no, I can't make names like that up on my own - he was also knocked down.
When a boxer meets a puncher more times than not the 'boxer' - in this case Barrera - beats the 'puncher' - Pacquiao. Adding support to the case for Barrera is that Pacquiao is moving up in weight, though a subtle step up, and that Barrera can bang as well as box. We don't know if Pacquiao can catch as well as he can pitch and the evidence suggests he can't. It says here that a late round stoppage, somewhere between rounds 8-10, has Barrera leaving the ring empty handed, but still "The People's Champion".
Pundits like Max Kellerman deduced that with his victory over 'the Quiet Man' that maybe, just maybe Jones was a superior fighter than Sugar Ray Robinson. Let me repeat that, I know some of you must be in shock, but Kellerman stated that because Jones downed Ruiz, that makes him possibly the greatest pound-for-pound performer ever.
Yeah. That's like a team in the NFL downing the Chicago Bears and being named Super Bowl champions. Or sweeping the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and being crowned World Series winners. That win was never put into it's proper context: it was a notable achievement, but it's also a by-product of a watered down game, that has multiple 'champions' in each divisions. What I'm saying is that Jones- once again- took the path of least resistance and took on a guy, who while 30 pounds bigger, was a far inferior fighter.
Ruiz, may have had a title belt, but he made absolutely no claim to being the true heavyweight champion. It's not as if Jones had beat Lennox Lewis, he beat a hand-picked heavyweight that he knew he could beat.
As the months went on I did notice more observers placing the fight in it's proper context. Instead of comparisons to Ray Robinson, the prevailing thought was,' Yeah, it was a good win and all, but geez, it WAS only John Ruiz' It's amazing how just stepping back for a moment and taking a deep breath will do for your perspective. It was put into even clearer focus when Jones' old nemesis, also a former middleweight titlist back in the day, James Toney, not only beat Evander Holyfield, but stopped him in nine.
Now, you can say that Holyfield is as old the Oakland Raiders, but this is the same 'Real Deal' that last year went the distance with Chris Byrd, beat Hasim Rahman and essentially beat Ruiz all three times they met.
Fast forward to last weekend and Jones was back down in weight against WBC light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver, who had basically picked up the titles that Jones had vacated when he decided to move up in weight. Tarver, was a skilled, if awkward, southpaw with a deep amateur pedigree( he has an Olympic bronze medal from the 1996 games) and more importantly, no trepidation in facing Jones.
And for 12 rounds, he gave him all he could handle. When Jones was backed up against the ropes, Tarver would bang away, although many of the punches were blocked or deflected, some of the punches did land cleanly on Jones face. Jones would have much better luck in the center of the ring, where his faster feet and superior hand speed would control things. But in this particular fight, Jones got hit as much as anytime in his career and he was made to miss by the crafty Tarver, more than any other fight in the past.
You could see bruising and abrasions on Jones' face for the first time ever. He finally looked as though he was in a fight- which he was.
Jerry Roth would score the bout 114-114, Dave Harris would score the bout 116-112, Glen Hamada, scored it 117-111, both for Jones. The final announcement of the scores would bring a loud chorus of boo's from the live audience. In fact, before the cards were read, Tarver would receive a large ovation as he stood atop the second rope, when Jones did the same, you could hear boo's, which brought an embarrassed Jones down from his perch.
It was a close fight, most of the ringside media either had it a draw or a one point victory for either man. Which brings into question how Hamada and Harris had it so wide for Jones. In fact Hamada would judge the tenth stanza for Jones despite that being Tarvers best round. For the first time, we saw Jones' cage rattled. He was hurt and it showed. It was a shocking scene and you could sense that Tarver was on the verge of an upset. But unfortunately he failed to capitalize on his opportunity despite the exhortations of his trainer Buddy McGirt.
But in getting the hard fought victory, Jones was exposed on many fronts. First of all, Tarver is a very good fighter, but could he have competed in the 1970's when the 175 pound class had guys like Eddie Gregory, Michael Spinks, Dwight Braxton, Marvin Johnson, Yaqui Lopez, Mike Rossman and Mathew Saad Muhammad? Probably not. Also, Tarver proved that if you have good technical skills and above average athletic ability, you can neutralize a lot of his flash and dash with a simple and consistent jab. And if you have a general understanding of ring generalship, you can stay free of the counter-punching traps that he lays. For much of the night, Tarver kept Jones at bay with his long stick.
Which brings me to another point, why was Jones ever given credit for being among the all-time greats at light heavyweight anyway? Take a look at who he's beaten at that weight class: Clinton Woods, Glenn Kelly, Julio Gonzalez, Derrik Harmon, Eric Harding( who gave him fits), Richard Hall, David Telesco, Reggie Johnson, Richard Frazier, Otis Grant, Lou Del Valle, Virgil Hill, Montell Griffin and an ancient Mike McCallum.
Out of that roster of light heavy's, Hill was an accomplished fighter at one point, but past his prime when he was stopped by a vicious body shot by Jones in 1998, Reggie Johnson was a pretty good middleweight and Griffin was a very tricky fighter who gave Roy a tough time before Jones got DQ'd and suffered a very questionable loss. The rest were a collection of either soft, carefully chosen opponents and mis-mandatories.
Not exactly Archie Moore, Billy Conn and Ezzard Charles, I'd say.
Hiding behind his HBO contract- which basically allowed him to run rampant in picking up millions of dollars at a time- Jones would fight one undeserving mandatory stiff after another.
But when Tarver had elevated himself to the IBF mandatory position in 2000, he had his promoter at the time Murad Muhammad write a letter questioning his attributes as the number one contender. Eventually, the IBF- which has had an incestuous relationship with Muhammad- acquiesced and forced Tarver into a box-off with Harding for the right to face Jones. Harding would beat Tarver in June of 2000( a loss though, that would be avenged a few years later) and Jones was free from having to face Tarver, until he agreed to face him this past Saturday.
It's funny, but he sure wasn't concerned about the credentials of some of his other mis-mandatories like Woods, Kelly, Hall and Frazier. But for some reason, Tarver- who just happened to fit the profile of two other guys that Jones was reluctant to face in the past, Frankie Liles and Michael Nunn- was somehow deemed not worthy of facing Jones at the time. No Tarver wasn't great by any means in 2000, but compared to those other guys I mentioned he was downright Bob Fitzsimmons-esque in his accomplishments.
Now, see if Jones will give Tarver a rematch. Especially in light of how difficult it was the first time out and the fact that Tarver will have even more confidence going into a return bout. That's an equation that Jones simply doesn't want to handle.
Roy Jones, is he a hypocrite? No doubt. A bully who picks his spots? Perhaps. A great athlete? Undeniably. An all-time great fighter?
I thought Jones was a little weakened by the weight loss, but Tarver's style caused more problems than the weight loss did. When Tarver looks at the tape of the fight, he'll realize that he let the fight slip away. He had Jones on a night he could've been defeated, yet he was happy just showing he could fight him on equal terms. I'm sorry, Tarver didn't do enough in some of the crucial rounds to be awarded them. In my book, you must let your hands go, especially in a close fight. Jones did, Tarver didn't. End of story, although it wasn't spectacular, Jones won the fight.
Other than Jones, not one current light heavyweight contender will be remembered down the road. If you doubt this, than just go back and look how ordinary the rest of them look when they face each other and not Jones. Tarver may have put up a good fight, but he didn't distinguish himself as anything special too me. He is not a light heavyweight fighter I'll remember when discussing outstanding light heavyweights of the past in a couple years. That's outstanding, not great light heavies from the past.
No one can say with a straight face that the Tarver-Griffin or Tarver-Harding bouts resembled anything close to being contested between two outstanding fighters. This weekend we saw Clinton Woods fight Glencoffe Johnson to a draw in a bout that was basically an elimination for the Jones-Tarver winner. In my opinion, that fight represents the current mediocrity in the light heavyweight division. I know Bob Foster's era was thin, but this generation of light heavies is every bit as inept!
It is now time for Roy Jones to take that monumental leap to the heavyweight division against an upper tier opponent or retire. No more John Ruiz's and heavyweights of that ilk. Jones is in a very unique position, he can't lose ether way. If he challenges either a Tyson, Lewis, or Klitschko, no one can say he's picking his spots. Jones has been accused of selecting his opponents, the way most people go to a restaurant and chose from the menu. You chose what you like and what appeals to you.
By Jones fighting Lewis, Tyson, or Vitali Klitschko, he puts himself in a position that only has an upside and no downside. If he loses, he's supposed to and it doesn't hurt him. If he beats them, his perception and status skyrocket out of this world. Realistically, these are the only type fights that Jones should be taking if he continues to fight. Not only can a fight against a top heavyweight enhance his reputation, it can also provide him with the outrageous pay day that he has long clamored for.
At this time, Roy Jones is a hard fighter to place in an historical perspective. On one hand you can make a case that he may be in the same class as Sugar Ray Robinson, just at the back of it. Although I think Robinson was clearly the better and more skilled fighter, Jones' accomplishments are very compelling and hard to deny. Jones' has clearly been the best fighter from 160-175 since turning pro in 1989. He holds convincing wins over two fighters who are definite Hall-Of-Famers who will be remembered as all-time greats in Bernard Hopkins and James Toney.
In those fights he was totally in control, and at the worst lost only four rounds to Hopkins. In Jones' fight versus James Toney at 168, Jones won going away. After running out of worthy challengers in the light heavyweight division, Jones moved up and won a lopsided decision over John Ruiz to capture the WBA heavyweight title. The most impressive thing about those fights is that the outcome during any of them was never in question. He basically jogged to victory.
The other side of the Roy Jones equation is that he's never beaten a fighter who was perceived to be great the night he fought them. When Jones fought Bernard Hopkins, Hopkins wasn't nearly the blossomed fighter that he would eventually turn out to be. I don't care what his fight total was when they fought, Jones didn't fight the best Hopkins.
When Jones fought James Toney, Toney was considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. However, when Jones and Toney fought, Toney was having all kind of personal problems and had to lose almost 20 pounds the week of the fight. We saw the effect going from 193 to 175 in a few months had on Jones. It wasn't Jones' fault, but the bottom line is Toney wasn't at his best, and that was noticeable before the first bell. In the Toney fight, Jones' did what he should've done against a poorly prepared Toney, he won easy.
After unifying and defending the light heavyweight title for six plus years, Jones moved up to fight heavyweight. In his only foray as a heavyweight, Jones won the WBA title from John Ruiz. Yes, Jones deserves all due praise for fighting and defeating a title holder who out weighed him by 27 pounds. However, let's not lose sight of the fact that when Jones fought Ruiz, despite holding a title, Ruiz was about the 8th or 9th best heavyweight in the world. And it can't be overlooked that Ruiz was no threat as a puncher and was considered to be the perfect choice for Jones to fight. In fact Jones was a 2-1 favorite by the time the fight finally came off. I can't help but think that many past light heavyweight champs could have held a piece of the heavyweight title had they fought John Ruiz in order to capture it.
The way I see it, there can be a case suggesting Jones as an all-time great, easily. And it can also be argued that he is a great fighter who has been aided by the fact that over the last 15 or so years, the title challengers from 160-175 have been a very limited group. I don't know which side I come down on yet.
The thing that keeps me from going off the deep end praising Jones is, I keep thinking, what would Ketchel, Greb, Monzon, and Hagler do with Sugar Boy Malinga, Fermin Chirino, and Danny Garcia as middleweights? What would Billy Conn, Archie Moore, Bob Foster, Michael Spinks, and Dwight Muhammad Qawi do with Montell Griffin, Otis Grant, Lou DeValle, Rick Frazier, Eric Harmon, Glen Kelly, Clinton Woods, and Antonio Tarver at light heavyweight? And lastly, how would Conn, Moore, Foster, and Spinks have fared had they fought Ruiz the night Jones did for the WBA heavyweight title? I happen to believe that the fighters I named would have taken apart the opponents that Jones fought from Middleweight to Heavyweight every bit as convincingly as he did.
I know that hypothetical fights are only conjecture, but I have no doubt that Marvin Hagler would've gone through every middleweight Jones fought the night he fought them. And yes that includes the pre-prime Hopkins who Jones beat for the vacant middleweight title. I also believe that Michael Spinks would've destroyed every light heavyweight Jones fought the night he fought them. And obviously I have absolutely no doubt that Spinks would've beaten Ruiz the night Jones took his WBA heavyweight title.
Since I believe those past greats would have handled those fighters as handily as Jones, it's hard for me to rank him above them. I can rank him with them at this time, but I'll wait until his body of work is complete before passing final judgement. That's as fair as I can be.
I've said it many times over that boxing fans are unlike any other sports fans. Most hard core boxing fans are very well versed in its history and happenings. As boxing fans we also long to meet people who share the same passion for it as we do. For any who have that such friend, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's like Wow, I thought I was the only one who thought that, or watched that fight 100 times too.
The funny thing about boxing is that some of the elite sports media try and push it off as a second tier sport. Every time I encounter a newspaper sports columnist, it amazes me how little they know about, and follow boxing. They usually only know of and can talk about four fighters, Ali, Leonard, Tyson, and De La Hoya. And they're usually not even well versed on them.
One of my favorite things to do with sportswriters is to have one of them come on my radio show and co-host with me. Since I live on the outskirts of Philadelphia Pennsylvania, the four major Philly sports teams, (Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers) are usually a hot topic. Especially if they're winning. Believe me, I love to argue and debate those four teams and their players. However, there are times when the phone lines do dry up and cool off. This is when I have fun with the writers. When the lines dry up, I'll usually say to the writer during the break, "lets talk some boxing and see if it picks up? Most times the writer will say fine, what do you want to talk about? I'll usually say what ever you feel comfortable with.
When we come back from the break, I'll throw out something like, who thinks Vitali Klitschko has a chance against Lennox Lewis next week? And bang, the phone lines light up like a Christmas tree. Works every time. The columnist is usually shocked and can't believe how many calls we get. The thing that blows em away is how knowledgeable most of the callers are. I bet if I take 15 calls in an hour, 10 or 11 of the callers know twice as much about boxing than my buddy the sports columnist.
Believe it or not, I know for a fact that bringing boxing up as a topic is frowned upon on most National Sportstalk radio stations. That is unless Tyson bites Holyfield, or is convicted of Rape. Then it's OK to talk boxing. Yea sure, only when they can trade off the negative.
The problem most boxing fans suffer is that we are starved for good boxing dialogue and discussion. That's why we gravitate to HBO, Showtime, and ESPN Friday night fights. They have us by the you know what. They're the only game in town, and they know it. There just aren't enough outlets for us to vent our thoughts and feelings. We are stuck waiting for Friday night and every third or fourth Saturday night on HBO or Showtime to get our fix. Even at that, we can't exchange our thoughts and share our insight. We are usually being talked at and can't share in any dialogue. This is why I believe when I throw out boxing as a topic, the phone lines always light up.
Think about the major sporting events coming up this weekend. This weekend marks the start of the second half of the NFL season. There are some huge games this weekend that will be comprehensibly covered. Also this weekend, there are many big College Football games between ranked teams that are scheduled. College Football will be discussed extensively this week on all sports shows and Sportstalk radio. Believe me, with five college teams with only one loss jockeying for position to move up in the BCS standings in hopes to earn the right to play undefeated and top ranked Oklahoma in the BCS title game, it won't be hard to get your College Football fix this week.
Between Saturday's College Football, and Sunday's NFL games, there is another major sporting event taking place. On Saturday night the two best light heavyweight fighters in the world are fighting for the WBC and IBF light heavyweight titles. In fact one of the fighters is regarded as the best all around fighter in the world. That marks three major sports events this weekend within the span of 48 hours. If you are an NFL or College Football junkie, which I am, it won't be hard to get a fix this weekend. Sportstalk will be littered with those two topics.
Here's the problem, I'm a bigger boxing fan than I am a Football fan, and that's saying something because I really love both the NFL and the College game. However, where do I go to get my Boxing fix? My only outlet is that I'll have two hours to talk about it on my own show. That's great for me, but how about you?
The only exposure most fight fans will have to any Boxing banter this weekend will be, in between fights on ESPN's Friday Night Fights. Again, the fans will only be talked at and have no say that will be heard. Doesn't seem fair does it. The Boxing fan shares every bit the passion that the Football fan does, if not more. Yet he doesn't have the same outlets to talk and share his thoughts.
It frustrates me knowing that Sunday morning Sportstalk will be dominated by who should be ranked number two in the BCS, and the breakdown of that day's upcoming big NFL games. Somewhere between late Saturday night and Noon Sunday, the Jones-Tarver fight will most like be mentioned only in passing. Especially if Jones wins as expected.
My question is why is this so? Is it because real boxing fans are few and far between, or is it that we really don't have a major outlet that promotes and builds on the interest that already exist. I've talked to some who have an interest in trying to launch a national Boxing talk network, we'll see how far that gets? Wouldn't it be great to have a national forum to analyze and preview Jones-Tarver on Saturday, and than discuss the outcome on Sunday ??
And it’s not that Winky has bad breath or poor table manners or an obnoxious laugh. He doesn’t spit in your face or call you names or throw rocks at your car. He’s just the opposite, one of those polite guys who is honest and straight forward and who will ask you how your family is doing if he knows you have one.
But he’s also the only junior-middleweight champion of the world who can’t get a big-money fight. He’s tried. Damn, he’s tried. He’s done everything legal he can to stir up some excitement, to light a fire under a big name, any big name. He’s cajoled, pleaded, argued, threatened, bribed, and taunted.
Still hasn’t worked.
That’s why he’s fighting Angel Hernandez on Saturday night instead of Shane Mosley or Oscar De La Hoya or Bernard Hopkins. That’s why he’s on another undercard instead of fighting the main event.
That‘s why hardly anyone called Monday when they held a teleconference call with Wright and Jermain Taylor, who, like Wright, is also fighting on the Roy Jones Jr. - Antonio Tarver undercard Saturday.
The entire call with both fighters lasted about 10 minutes, most of that time spent listening to Taylor answer three or four questions about his upcoming fight with Rogelio Martinez.
When Wright was on the phone, he told all five of us (told you it was a small crowd) what we already knew.
"It’s very frustrating," he said when asked how hard it was for him to be on the second or third page of every big-name fighter’s list of possible opponents. "You get in line for a big fight and then they don’t want to fight you. I want to prove to myself and the world that I’m one of the best fighters out there, but I can‘t get a fight (with the big names). They’re scared to fight me and I guess that means I am one of the best fighters in the world."
Wright’s only loss one of his three losses was a majority decision to Fernando Vargas. Since their fight, Vargas has gone on to fight guys like De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad.
Winky has gone on to fight guys like Robert Frazier, Bronco McKart, and J.C. Candelo.
"I might not do everything great, but I do everything good," said Wright, who sounded almost tired on Tuesday, like he was fed up with the whole thing. "And they know I‘m going to be in shape, so they don‘t want to fight me."
Angel Hernandez wants to fight him, but he’s not going to make Wright a millionaire or, more important, he’s not going to give Wright a chance to become the undisputed junior-middleweight champ of the world.
Until something sane happens - until Mosley decides he wants his shot at Wright and the undisputed title - Wright will just stick with his promoter and wait his turn. Jones has been finding Wright some steady work, booking him on the undercard of his own fights.
"Without Roy right now, I don’t know where I’d be," said Wright, who doesn’t mind being on the undercard of the man he calls the best pound-for-pound fighter out there. "I used to have promoters who promised me a marquee fight, but then they wouldn’t get it for me. But good things come to those who wait."
N'dou showed tremendous heart, will, punching power, and good skill. There is nothing he could have done or tried that would have carried him past Floyd Mayweather. The problem N'dou had in this bout was that he was the one who was sharing the ring with Mayweather. Mayweather was absolutely brilliant. He showed incredible boxing skill, speed, power, chin, desire, conditioning, strength, and heart.
No matter what N'dou did, Mayweather had an answer and them some. In this fight, Mayweather out boxed, out thought, and out punched a very good and determined fighter in Phillip N'dou. If there were any Mayweather doubters, this performance must silence them for the time being. What possible questions could there still be lingering about Mayweather?
Mayweather changed his style and tactics three or four different times during the fight. He boxed when N'dou wanted to fight, he fought when N'dou wanted to jab and pace himself. He went to the head, he went to the body. He led off with a lead right uppercut to start one exchange and ended the fight in the seventh round with a flurry of three straight right hand leads. Please make sure you contact me first, the next time you see a fight ended with that sequence of punches. Not only was it beautiful and unique, it was devastating!
For anyone who has recently read me, you must know that I'm last on the bandwagon when it comes to leading the charge calling a fighter great before he's really been tested. In my opinion, many fans are to hasty in calling a fighter/athlete great, or declaring him the best ever before his career has started to wind down. However, in the case of Floyd Mayweather Jr, I think it's safe saying that he is already a great fighter and will most likely retire as an all-time great.
Mayweather answered the questions I had about him. Going into his fight with N'dou, I somewhat questioned his physical strength and punching power. I thought maybe he was a little too light in the rear end to go up and fight at 140 or 147. I no longer have those questions or doubts. In N'dou, he took apart a very big strong lightweight who came in the ring weighing 147 pounds. All questions answered about strength and punch.
I also questioned his chin. Well, N'dou landed some right hand bonds against Mayweather's chin. He didn't move or flinch. In fact, he didn't even seemed bothered by them. This kid has some chin, and he is much stronger than he looks. I have no doubt that he can fight at 140, and probably 147 down the road. Not a doubt. He has the speed and the skill, now I'm convinced he has the strength and chin.
Another thing Mayweather demonstrated was good stamina. Make no doubt, N'dou was not only throwing many power shots, but also a high volume of shots reaching 100 in the fifth round. This is something that apparently Mayweather had no problem with. Not once did it seem Mayweather needed a breather. Once N'dou was slowed and started picking his spots, Mayweather raised the rent and started picking up his punch output.
At this time I'm willing to say that Mayweather will adapt to 140 and probably clean out the division. I know he didn't clean out the lightweight division, but I'm convinced he is the best fighter in it. Mayweather is a fighter that everyone knows has boxing skill, but when you couple that with everything else he can do, you've got some fighter. I look forward to his next fight with great anticipation.
The bottom line with Floyd Mayweather is this. N'dou made him fight in every style possible. He made box, punch, move, and defend himself. And Mayweather passed with flying colors in every category. Mayweather met every challenge and scenario and had the answer. Mayweather has arrived!
Here is something that I've yet to totally grasp. What's a better testament to greatness? Winning because you're supposedly so good and haven't really been tested like Roy Jones, or winning a tough fight in which you've shown all your skills and demonstrated character and toughness like Floyd Mayweather?
I thought Derrick Gainer's showing against Juan Manuel Marquez was reprehensible. How can a fighter who was a title holder, and is fighting for another put forth such a terrible effort. When I think of the fighters throughout the years who have spilled their guts out in the ring trying to get a title shot, and never did. It seems there just isn't any justice in the world. What is it exactly that Mr. Gainer was trying to do? Was that boxing? Was he trying to set something up, or waiting for Marquez to make a mistake? I haven't a clue what Gainer was thinking during the fight, but I know one thing, you have to be Roy Jones to fight like Roy Jones. Derrick Gainer is failing miserably in his effort to emulate his idol and friend. I suggest that Derrick Gainer find his own identity.
This isn't always the rule. The point is, although a fighter can really punch, it doesn't always equate to him being exceptionally strong physically. However, sometimes it does apply, it's just not the rule. George Foreman and Jim Jeffries had the kind of power that could take a fighters head off. And they both were amazingly strong physically. They were never controlled or physically manhandled. Fighters like Foreman and Jeffries were always the physical force when they fought.
Foreman, who just may be the strongest heavyweight ever, was only tied up and moved around the ring by Ali. Jimmy Young never had to confront Foreman's strength because Foreman never really went after him other than in the seventh round of their fight. The Foreman who fought Young didn't know who he was or how he wanted to fight? I personally heard Big George say just that during a press conference discussing his comeback shortly before fighting Holyfield in Atlantic City in 1991.
The opposite of the fighter who can hit but isn't overpowering physically, is the fighter who is not a KO artist but is very strong physically. Three great examples of this type fighter would be Ali, Holmes, and Holyfield. Look at some of the biggest fights of their careers, they were usually versus fighters who hit harder and were perceived to be much stronger than they were.
When Clay fought Liston, Liston was supposed to manhandle him and throw him around like a rag doll. Yet when Clay was blinded by the monsil solution in his eyes from Liston's gloves, he was able to tie up Liston when ever he wanted to break up his assault. He did the same thing with Frazier and Foreman. I'll bet if most were asked who was the stronger man, Ali or Foreman, they would automatically say Foreman was by a significant margin. And he probably is, but it's not as one sided as some may think. In regards to Ali, he was very strong physically, but he is rarely given credit for it. This is mainly because he wasn't a one punch KO artist. However, all one has to do is look at his career and it's obvious to see that he was never manhandled by any opponent.
Holmes is another great example. In his fights with Shavers, Norton, and Cooney, he definitely proved to be the stronger man. Even though he wasn't nearly as hard a puncher as they were. Another thing that highlights this is their stamina. Stamina is also a form of physical strength. Ali and Holmes were both stronger and had more gas at the end of their fights when they fought the killer punchers, despite being hit by big shots during the course of the bout. Also, neither Ali or Holmes were ever punched around the ring by any of the big punchers they fought.
The only time Ali was really blown away by a single punch was by Frazier's left-hook in Super-Fight one in the 15th round. I know he was dropped by Sonny Banks and Henry Cooper, but he was a young pro and hadn't fully matured or filled out. In Holmes case, only two times was he blown away by a punch in his prime. They were by Shavers' right in the seventh round of their title fight, and by the right that Snipes dropped him with. Holmes was 38, and coming off a layoff when Tyson dropped him. However, it was still an impressive display of power by Tyson. In my opinion the left-hook Frazier dropped Ali with, and the right that Shavers dropped Holmes with have to rank among two of the hardest punches ever thrown in heavyweight history.
When reviewing Evander Holyfield's career, he like Ali and Holmes was also more than capable of standing his ground with the bigger punchers he encountered. In fact, the only time he was really controlled physically was by Foreman in 1991. And in his defense, Foreman along with Jeffries are probably the two strongest heavyweight champs in boxing history.
In the Holyfield-Tyson fights, Tyson appeared on the outside to be stronger but wasn't. Holyfield totally controlled Tyson and moved him around the ring. The same goes for his two fights with Lewis, especially the second fight. In the second fight, Holyfield bulled Lewis around the ring and kept him backing away. And it's not all because Lewis was trying to box him. Lewis is definitely the harder puncher but, I have some doubts if he is the stronger man.
In regards to the Holyfield-Bowe trilogy, the only fight where they really collided physically was the first fight. Holyfield moved away from Bowe in their second fight and boxed him. In their first fight, Holyfield went right to Bowe. Even while Bowe was landing vicious shots on Holyfield as he was coming in, Holyfield was still pushing Bowe back. I'm not saying Holyfield was stronger than Bowe, I'm just saying that the difference isn't overwhelming. The point is that punching power, physical strength, and huge ripped muscles are not related. Each fighter is a separate case. Some fighters have all three, some have two of them, and some only possess one, but they are definitely not related.
Just look at the contrast between Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns. After watching their eight minute war, is there anybody who would question Hagler's superior strength? I say not a chance. On the other hand, there is no comparison when it comes to who can punch better. Hearns mutilated and beat up fighters who went the distance with Hagler and were unmarked at the end of the fight.
For example, Hagler fought Marcos Geraldo and won a decision. When Hearns fought Geraldo, he knocked him out in the first round with one right hand. Roberto Duran was never shook once by Hagler in 15 rounds. In fact he was mocking Hagler at the end of their fight. Can anyone forget where they were the night Hearns drilled Duran so hard that he fell face forward because he was out?
When Hearns fought Sugar Ray Leonard the first time, he lumped his face up and injured his eye. In the Hagler-Leonard bout, Leonard at the most was slightly stung once. That occurred in the fifth round courtesy of a Hagler right uppercut. Not to mention that Leonard was completely unmarked after fighting Hagler. Yet when Leonard fought Hearns in their rematch, Hearns had him down twice and on the verge of going once. Something Hagler never even was remotely close to accomplishing!
I've read where Shane Mosley can press more weight than Joe Frazier could in his prime. So What! Does anyone believe Mosley was stronger than Frazier? Can anyone envision either DeLaHoya or Forrest standing up under Frazier's best? If you answered yes to either, you don't know what you've been watching!
How about guys like George Chuvalo and Tex Cobb. They were both stronger than a country Ox, yet neither of them had real knock out power against fighters in the top ten.. Chuvalo had a pretty good left-hook to the body, and Cobb had a so-so right hand. However, they never scored any big KO's over any top contenders, (Chuvalo's KO of Quarry wasn't a clean knockout, Quarry jumped right up).
I remember Holmes saying during a press conference when asked about Shavers' power, he said, "Shavers hits like something from another Planet, but Randy Cobb is the strongest mother I ever fought." In boxing, overall physical strength does not necessarily mean a fighter can really hit. On the other hand, a fighter who is not known as a knockout puncher can be very strong physically. And weight lifting strength and ripped muscles mean zilch. Physical strength is God given, and punchers are born, not created.
Now usually around this time before his fights, 'the Pretty Boy' starts becoming 'the Petty Boy' and will start bitching and moaning about his promoter, Bob Arum and just generally complaining about everything surrounding his professional career. But guess what? This time around there's nothing but silence. In fact, things are rather hunky-dory between the two.
" No," said a happy Arum." as a matter of fact David Mayo( a boxing scribe for the Grand Rapids Press) called me and said that he was shocked. He was talking with Floyd and all Floyd did was praise me. I think there's a reason for that."
What!?!? This is like the Hatfield's and the McCoys breaking bread, Nas and Jay-Z teaming up on a single, Liza Minelli and David Gest renewing their wedding vows. What gives? Easy. The absence of one James Prince as Mayweathers 'manager'. You notice I put quotations around the word 'manager' because Prince really can't be considered a manager in the true sense of the word.
After all, a real manager, nurtures a guys career, picks and chooses a fighters opponents, negotiates their contracts and helps them along their way. Prince, hasn't really exhibited any of those traits. What he seems to be good at is hustling these guys with the promise of their own hip-hop record labels- since Prince made his money in the rap industry- and living the lifestyle of a platinum rapper.
Take the case of Mayweather, things were going along almost perfectly for him until hooking up with him in 1999. At that time, Arum had negotiated a deal with HBO that called for six fights for approximately $12 million. An ecstatic Arum would call to break the news to his young fighter, only to be scolded by him and told that it was a 'slave contract'. Things didn't get any better as Mayweather would eventually jettison his own father, Floyd Sr., from not only his corner and his managerial duties, but from his house. Ouch.
And get this, while the father received only 10-percent for both training and managing his son, Prince was to receive 20-percent for supposedly managing the young Mayweathers career.
The kicker is that Mayweather after much haggling would eventually sign the same deal that he labeled as a 'slave contract' but ended up giving up 20-percent to Prince. Who seemed to do nothing more than show up to Mayweathers fights, show up on the camera and talk to someone on the cell phone. Not exactly Doc Kearns or Shelly Finkel, I'd say.
In between this whole episode, the relationship between the promoter and company was one of the most adversarial in recent memory. You'd be hard pressed to find a relationship in boxing, between two sides that were supposedly working together, that was as rocky as this one. The last few fights, it was well known throughout the industry that Prince was receiving up to a half-million dollars for his services every time Mayweather fought. Mind you, this was for fights that were essentially made by Top Rank with the approval of HBO.
I guess not having to give up a half-million to a guy talking on the cell phone, while your taking punches, would improve anybodies outlook on things.
" What else could I attribute it to?" asked Arum, on his suddenly improved relationship with Mayweather." Floyd knows- or should know now- that we were always in his corner and that we weren't as responsible for any dissension that occurred in the past. And we're still in Floyd's corner, I think he's a terrific fighter and I think with this change in his mental outlook, I think we can now resume and bring him to the stardom he really craves."
But how much irreversible damage has been done? Mayweathers persona and troubles outside the ring have stifled what momentum he had prior to his problems with Arum and HBO.
And despite taking on as many solid opponents as any world class fighter in recent years( Jose Luis Castillo twice, Jesus Chavez, Carlos Hernandez, Victoriano Sosa, Angel Manfredy, Diego Corrales and Genaro Hernandez), Mayweathers ratings have been mediocre at best. And there was talk throughout the industry that HBO, after his current deal runts its course, would look to downgrade his licensing fee's. There's no doubting his abilities, he is one of the premiere boxers in the game, it seems the only thing that can stop him is a set of brittle hands that have hampered him recently. But what about his marketability? In this industry, it's every bit as important as how good you are inside the ring.
Arum mentions that he has one more bout with Mayweather under his current deal but would definitely like to work with him in the future. He says that his dream fight would be to match him up with another one of his clients, Oscar De La Hoya.
Who, just happens to be trained by one Floyd Mayweather Sr. Now, you want to talk about a storyline?
Maybe for Mayweather all the turmoil isn't a thing of the past.
On that same HBO telecast, leading things off his a featherweight unification tilt between Juan Manuel Marquez and Derrick Gainer.
Marquez, is a fighter that caught my attention immediately the first time I saw him in 1996 against Julio Gervacio at the Anaheim Pond. His poise and ring generalship were reminiscent of another Mexican featherweight Salvador Sanchez.
As he has developed into one of the worlds best 26-pounders he had more and more difficulties getting his fellow blue-chip feathers to face him. Naseem Hamed, hid behind the WBO to not face Marquez in 1999, and in more recent years countrymen Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales have acted as if he didn't exist.
You could say that he's ducked and dodged so much that he's an honorary black southpaw.
Which is coincidentally what Gainer is. And with Gainers' style, this is not an easy fight for Marquez. But I do expect Marquez to eventually adapt and adjust to the left-handed stylings of Gainer- something he wasn't able to do against Freddy Norwood, in his failed attempt at the WBA crown in 1999- and unify the titles.
Now, if he could only convince a guy like Barrera to give him a shot.
If you passed Tapia on the street on a bad day, you’d figure him for either a hopped-up street thug or a hard-case looking for a fist fight.
Tapia fights Marco Antonio Barrera on Nov. 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It’s one of those fights everyone wants to see, even if there are no silly belts at stake. They want to see this match because in a fight game full of big disappointments, tough guys like Tapia and Barrera have seldom let us down. That’s all you can ask of a fighter, but it’s also the least you should expect.
If you’re going to pick a winner, start with age. At 34, Tapia (58-2-2, 28 KOs) is the old man in this matchup, a guy who looks like he spent most of his career running into closed doors and right hands. He’s got one of those tell-tale, flat noses that has been broken more times than a Don King promise.
Tapia has also spent some time as guest of the state, given free room and board for deeds unbecoming of a champion. He never sang in the church choir.
A resident of Albuquerque, N.M., Tapia is like the town he lives in, a little rough around the edges, but easy to like once you get to know it.
He’s been fighting inside the ring since 1988 and fighting outside it all his life. And he's had his share of wars. They take something out of a fighter and they’ve taken something from Tapia.
Still, he has this crazy idea he can lick any man in the room and he’s usually right. A four-time world champion, he recently lost the IBF featherweight title because he failed to take on the mandatory challenger. Instead, he’s fighting one of the best fighters in the world.
Barrera (55-3, 39 KOs) is 27, quiet and a southpaw out of Mexico City. Known as a boxer/puncher (which is what just about every fighter likes to consider himself) he’s at the age where he’s as good as he’s ever going to be, and that’s pretty damn good.
His biggest win was a decision over Erik Morales earlier this year, a rematch of their “fight of the year,” in February 2000, Morales winning a controversial split decision in what was a super-bantamweight title fight.
Barrera also has one of those left hooks to the body that could disable a Lexus.
If there’s a weakness, it might be his chin. It’s been cracked. While Tapia has never been stopped, Barrera had problems with Junior Jones, who knocked him down twice before their fight was stopped in the fifth round when Barrera’s corner climbed into the ring.
The winner? Anyone lucky enough to watch this fight on HBO.
There are numerous references to these supposed industry conditions in communications from Senator John McCain and others, in addressing the bill with parties both outside and inside Congress.
You don't have to go too much farther than what the Ali Act itself lists as its #1 objective:
"TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS AND WELFARE OF PROFESSIONAL BOXERS ON AN INTERSTATE BASIS BY PREVENTING CERTAIN EXPLOITIVE, OPPRESSIVE, AND UNETHICAL BUSINESS PRACTICES."
Certainly, from a political standpoint, one must appreciate McCain's populist point of view.
But how intellectually honest is it?
What some people, who have boosted this bill but who haven't read it too clearly, fail to understand is that this legislation could have the effect of not saving fighters, but in fact screwing them.
For example, let's start with sanctioning bodies. This is how they're initially addressed in the Ali Act:
"THE SANCTIONING ORGANIZATIONS WHICH HAVE PROLIFERATED IN THE BOXING INDUSTRY HAVE NOT ESTABLISHED CREDIBLE AND OBJECTIVE CRITERIA TO RATE PROFESSIONAL BOXERS, AND OPERATE WITH VIRTUALLY NO INDUSTRY OR PUBLIC OVERSIGHT. THEIR RATINGS ARE SUSCEPTIBLE TO MANIPULATION, HAVE DEPRIVED BOXERS OF FAIR OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADVANCEMENT, AND HAVE UNDERMINED PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN THE INTEGRITY OF THE SPORT."
I have nothing against encouraging these organizations to act more responsibly. And there's a long way to go. But the Boxing Amendments Act gives the federal government all the ammunition it needs to take complete control over the situation. It mandates the authority to license and regulate all sanctioning bodies. Of course, when they have to be licensed to operate, that license can be taken away if the sanctioning body does something the politicians - or more to the point, people the politicians listen to - don't like.
Well, you just KNOW that's going to happen. If there's anything we've discovered through almost 200 chapters of OPERATION CLEANUP, it's that McCain doesn't like the sanctioning bodies. Witness this passage from the March 1997 drafted letter McCain and his collaborators on the Professional Boxer Safety Act sent to the Office of Legislative Affairs at the Department of Justice:
"These private organizations rank professional boxers and award title designations to a select group of them. Sanctioning bodies charge substantial fees to the boxers they have designated as champions of a particular weight class. They have a proprietary and financial interest in furthering the success of particular boxers, often to the detriment of others. Unfortunately, the growing number of sanctioning bodies had a confusing and counter-productive impact on the integrity of the professional boxing industry."
Ken Nahigian, the assistant counsel to McCain's sub-committee that deals with the boxing legislation, detests sanctioning bodies too, and has refused to allow them any input whatsoever during the process of putting together the new bill. Embattled Pennsylvania regulator Greg Sirb, who has Nahigian's ear, hates them with a passion and has done his best to keep them out of the procedure by which ring officials are selected for championship bouts. And in conjunction with Sirb, Tim Lueckenhoff, president of the Association of Boxing Commissions, a trade organization, has waged war on sanctioning bodies, going so far at one point as to coerce a member commission to arbitrarily deny one of them a sanctioning fee last year, because he didn't like their ratings (the fee was summarily forwarded to the sanctioned body, when it was discovered that Lueckenhoff, and the state in question, had circumvented the law).
Since we pretty much know which direction these guys are heading, we know what is eventually going to take place - there will be sufficient excuses - either real or imagined - to severely curtail the activities of sanctioning bodies in the United States, or outlaw them altogether. With this bill, they will have that power.
That's good for boxing, you say?
Well, sit back and ponder that for a moment. It certainly won't be good for BOXERS. In fact, it will, in a roundabout way, disadvantage them in the end.
While McCain, in his bill, makes the claim that sanctioning bodies "have deprived boxers of fair opportunities for advancement", the truth, which he would have discovered if he'd done any research at all, is that for every opportunity that might be denied, several opportunities are CREATED.
I remember a conversation I had with someone involved in the "union movement" in boxing. He was railing about the sanctioning bodies - his complaints centered around fighters being "rated fairly", etc., etc. And he wondered whether ultimately it might be best if the sanctioning bodies were dissolved and Ring Magazine took over the ratings.
I explained to him that he was not thinking clearly. If he was truly embarking on an agenda to benefit the fighters themselves, he wouldn't be calling for the elimination, or even the curbing, of sanctioning bodies. In fact, quite the contrary - he'd be looking to invite as many sanctioning bodies into the market as possible.
You see, more sanctioning bodies mean more championships. When more fighters have a championship belt, more fighters get title opportunities. The greater number of fighters appearing in somebody's ratings - whether it be on a world, national, or regional basis - the greater number of opportunities there will be for fighters to make more money, by virtue of having that "credential". The bottom line - more paydays for fighters.
Whether the impartial observer thinks that is good for the integrity of boxing, or would improve its public perception, is another matter. From the perspective of someone who's taken the posture of ADVOCATING for the fighter, the more sanctioning bodies, the better.
Imagine a situation where the politicians were successful in getting rid of sanctioning bodies, and God forbid - the Ring ratings became universally "authoritative".
You would no doubt run into situations where fighters deserving of a title opportunity would be frozen out of one, for any number of reasons - maybe they didn't sign with the right promoter or network (perhaps a promoter or network that purchased advertising in Ring?). Or they wouldn't sign options. Or - as I told the union guy - the champion and/or his manager is anti-union and the prospective challenger is a union member. All of this would be the product of having only one "authority", meaning there is nowhere to turn if an injustice is done. Anything is possible when only one entity has a monopoly on the ratings. And none of it is particularly good for the fighter as a whole.
I don't know that the union people I have talked to about this really understand it. And that's a bad sign.
The point is, the framers of the federal legislation have positioned themselves as having the same objective as those sympathetic to the union movement: protecting the interests of the fighter.
Unions would seem to be advocated by McCain, on the surface anyway. Here is a direct quote from a letter he sent one of our readers, Minnesota boxing writer Lee Anderson: "You may be interested to know that S. 2550 (the previous designation - it's now S. 275) would establish a framework through which boxers can form a private union, and collectively bargain."
As part of the press release announcing the Teamsters' effort to unionize boxers, James P. Hoffa, president of the organization, is quoted as saying, “Senator McCain supports our efforts 100 percent. He is supportive because he sees this as a way to turn his legislation to clean up the sport of boxing into reality."
But you simply can't reconcile simultaneously backing the idea of a union and backing this bill. The two are simply not consistent with each other, because the fighter will ultimately get screwed with McCain's bill.
Let me utilize another example - that of the "unfunded mandate" that is created by this bill, as has been created with its two predecessors. There is really no mechanism in place to enforce what is in the Act when it comes to the financial "disclosure" obligations on the part of the promoter. There is just a lot of lip service. Indeed, there have been fighters who have sought to exercise their rights under that provision in the Ali Act, but have been completely unable to. Since McCain is insisting states must carry out the obligations set forth in the federal law, that kind of non-responsiveness won't change with this bill.
An adverse effect is created when you give fighters the expectation that there is going to be a degree of protection, yet you take no steps to ENSURE that protection. It just becomes a bunch of hollow political nonsense. It's like dangling a carrot in front of a horse who will never be able to reach it.
And there is a common thread running through the actions of all the phony "reformers" - the McCain disciple, Greg Sirb, fills boxers with the idea that he is going to establish a "pension fund" for them, then gives out a grand total of $700 in three years in the way of real assistance to fighters in need. And McCain himself seeks to score political points, as cheaply as possible, by advocating "rights of the fighter", but has no idea, and probably no intention, of facilitating it. The idea is simple - pass the bill, send a press release, and let's move on to more important things.
I can assure Senator McCain that the most important thing for most professional fighters is their CAREER. They don't care about politics. They don't care about who is going to win a majority of the House or Senate in 2004. They care about fairness. And they're quickly coming to the realization that McCain shares their concerns only until the cameras turn off.
Then it's every man for himself.
Some fighters have learned this the hard way. Some are about to.
Because for a business that has operated largely in the dark, McCain is about to create an even bigger veil of secrecy.