Evans (15-1-1) and Silva (14-1) meet in Ultimate Fighting Championship 108 in a light heavyweight bout on Saturday Jan. 2, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A win by either fighter could result in a world title bid. The fight card is being shown on pay-per-view television.
Events can change quickly in the Octagon and anybody can beat anybody in the 205-pound weight division. Just ask Silva or Evans.
Silva and Evans are both experienced and can vouch firsthand about the capriciousness of fighting in MMA and especially as a light heavyweight. On one day this man can beat that man and on another day, that man can beat this man. It can make you absolutely daffy.
Evans, 30, is the former UFC light heavyweight world champion who only defended his title on one occasion and lost by vicious knockout to current champion Lyoto Machida of Brazil. It’s the only defeat on his record.
Silva, 27, is a well-rounded MMA fighter from Sao Paolo, Brazil who is versed in jujitsu, Muy Thai and boxing. He can end a fight quickly in a choke hold just as easily as with a kick or a punch. His only loss came to who else: Machida.
Evans and Silva know a win can push open the door to a rematch with current UFC light heavyweight champion Machida.
“A win against Rashad would put me in the track against Lyoto,” said Silva, in a telephone conference call. “That's what – what I want to do.”
When Silva fought Machida the two Brazilians were both undefeated and feared in the MMA world. The fight took place in Las Vegas and with one second remaining in the first round a perfectly timed punch knocked Silva unconscious.
“I was humbled big time, man,” says Silva who fought Machida in January 2009. “I learned a lot from that fight. I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight, not overlooking anything else right now, but just I want to get the chance to fight him again.”
For Evans it was a different circumstance. The upstate New Yorker held the UFC title and was defending it after stopping then champion Forrest Griffin by knockout. Still, many felt Machida was far too technically versed. Evans was stopped brutally in the second round.
“I've made it a point to not – to not get distracted on what I want to do, because you know Thiago (Silva) is a very hungry fighter,” said Evans who has not fought since losing the title to Machida last May. “My focus is just on Thiago so much. You know I don't want to overlook him, you know, not even a little bit.”
Dana White, president of UFC, says the winner of this fight could conceivably fight Machida in the near future. Evans and especially Silva are motivated by the open window.
“I learned a lot from that fight. I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight,” says Silva. “Not overlooking anything else right now, but I just want to get the chance to fight him again.”
What a prize. The winner gets to face the man who beat him: Machida.
Paying 40 to 50 bucks to watch the main event gets old real quick. Why do we have to sit through a horrible under-card to get to the main course? It’s like being fed spam appetizers before the Thanksgiving turkey. It seems that the pay per view promoters just don’t get it. Are they watching what they put on or do they only watch the “big fight” as everyone else is slowly being conditioned to do so?
9. Time to make Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight
Okay, I understand he’s the son of one of the greatest fighters that ever lived. But he’s had 42 fights against low to mid level competition and has never managed to look spectacular. It’s time to throw the 23 year old out of the nest to see if he can fly. My suggestion is a fight against Sergio Mora or maybe even Yuri Foreman. Neither of these guys can punch. They may outbox Junior but they won’t totally humiliate him.
8. No more ridiculous Pay Per View mismatches
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez should’ve never been made. It was a ridiculous fight when it was announced and it was more ridiculous when it took place. Unable to bring Manny Pacquiao to the bargaining table for a third match against Juan Manuel Marquez, someone figured that pairing up the 135 pound champion against a natural 147 pounder like Mayweather would be a great idea. The pay per view generated over a million buys but the fact that millions of people were treated to an incredibly boring mismatch is what’s truly worrisome. I can guarantee you one thing about this card. The sport of boxing lost fans once the show was over and done with. Talk about short term thinking.
7. Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola shows up for a fight in amazing shape
It was painful to see Chris Arreola take a beating from the Ukrainian giant, Vitali Klitscho. The champion certainly earned his “Dr. Ironfist” moniker as he plowed his powerful shots into the former #1 WBC heavyweight contender’s face. He reddened and bloodied the young Mexican American with an assortment of weapons and foot movement seldom seen on a six foot seven inch heavyweight. Arreola was brave and unrelenting in battle. He never stopped coming forward and took chances when he could. His work in the ring at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles wasn’t the problem. Where Arreola let himself down was outside the ring. His unwillingness to condition himself into a finely tuned athlete cost him certain immortality as the first ever heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. Arreola has the heart and skills but it was his mental fortitude that broke down. Anyone who’s followed the Riverside fighter knows that his best weight is somewhere in the 230 pound range. It certainly isn’t at the 252 pounds he registered on the scale at the Staples Center. Those fifteen to twenty extra pounds might have made all the difference in the world. Maybe he would’ve been a little quicker, maybe he could’ve sustained a faster pace in order to tire out the champion. In his most recent fight against Brian Minto, Arreola weighed in at a career high 263. It looks like “The Nightmare” isn’t willing to change for anyone. At this pace, the only nightmares he’ll be providing will be to the management of Hometown Buffets all across Riverside. Just kidding “Nightmare”!
6. More respect for the lighter weights
Real boxing fans know that the most exciting fighters in the sport are usually found toiling in weight divisions south of 154 pounds. Pacquiao, Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Edwin Valero, Israel Vazquez, Juan Ma Lopez, Vic Darchinyan, Rafael Marquez and countless others have been the real driving force behind this sport. It’s those great fighters that have made boxing fanatics out of casual fans. The heavyweights may get all the money and glory but it’s the little guys who make the sport shine and it’s time they received greater compensation. It’s dismaying to think that a mediocre heavyweight can make three or four times as much as the great Rafael Marquez.
5. An American Heavyweight champion
Speaking of heavyweights, two Americans tried and failed at dethroning Vitali Klitschko this year. Both Kevin Johnson and Chris Arreola did their best to wrestle the belt away from “Dr. Klitschko” but came up short since they were easily outclassed. What happened to the great American Heavyweight? Where’s our new Joe Frazier or Ali? Even a new Gerry Cooney or a Ken Norton would do at this point. I’ve got a feeling that the only way we’re going to see an American champion is if Klitschko retires. My money is on Arreola. Although undisciplined and rough outside the ring, he’s got tons (no pun intended) of natural talent. He’s without a doubt the most talented American heavyweight on the scene.
4. More ShoBox
The Showtime Cable network gave us the best boxing on TV for the price of a cable television subscription. Their ShoBox series has been a proven hit for Senior VP of Sports Programming Ken Hershman. The concept is simple yet brilliant. Match up two up and comers with great records and let’s see what happens. Sometimes the results are surprising. Many have passed the ShoBox test and went on to bigger and better things. Others have been exposed as having padded records and eventually their careers stall and take a dive.
3. More safety in Mexico so I can attend a show without a gun battle breaking out
Having lived near the Tijuana border all my life I’m dismayed at the war zone that the city has evolved into. Every day there are reports of shootings fueled by the drug war trade. Believe it or not, there was a time when Tijuana was safe and most wouldn’t have thought twice about crossing the border for some seafood and nightlife. No more. Having covered several boxing cards on Revolucion Avenue many years ago, I got a taste of just how important the sport is to Mexican fans. It’s also important to me but not that important. For now I’ll stick to covering shows at the Pechanga Casino and in the less dangerous city of L.A. I never thought I’d say that.
2. Pac Man vs. Mayweather
This is the fight everyone wants to see. Seeing how Mayweather dominated Pac Man’s arch enemy, Juan Manuel Marquez, you have to wonder if the Filipino can handle Lil’ Floyd’s speed and size. One thing is for sure, betting against Pacquiao doesn’t usually work out for me. It never has. There’s no future in it. So if the fight gets done it’s Pacquiao by TKO in ten.
1. And finally
One final wish is reserved for all the readers of TheSweetScience.com I wish you all a healthy and happy 2010. Thank you for your continued loyalty to the site. It’s very much appreciated.
One year an upstart rival politician we'll call Joe Bob had the temerity to challenge Kleberg in the Democratic primary, resulting in the convocation of the Texas congressman's staff to plot an election strategy. Several ideas were kicked around before Kleberg himself came up with a brainstorm.
"Why don't we start a rumor that he [copulates with] sheep?" proposed the politician.
This was a bit over the top, even for Lyndon Johnson. The future president leapt to his feet and said, incredulously, "But you know Joe Bob don't [copulate with] sheep!"
"Yeah," replied the congressman, "but watch what happens when the son of a bitch has to stand up and deny it!"
Events of the past week or two have seen the Floyd Mayweather camp adopt a similar tactic with regard to Manny Pacquiao. But if introducing what would appear to be a red-herring issue -- the debate over drug-testing procedures -- to the negotiating process was intended as a negotiating ploy, it would appear for the moment to have backfired. The idea might have been to force Pacquiao to go on the defensive, but Pac-Man instead responded with his stock in trade, the counterpunch -- in this case the multi-million dollar defamation suit he filed against the Mayweathers, pere et fils,, with the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
In boxing even more than in life, you never say never, but you'd have to say that Pacquiao-Mayweather is a dead issue right now, at least in its March 13 incarnation. Bob Arum says Pacquiao is prepared to move along to another opponent, and Mayweather is supposedly looking at Matthew Hatton in England.
We'll believe that when we see it, for at least three reasons: (1) There would hardly seem to be enough money in that one to make it worth Floyd's time, (2) He's going to have to put so much into preparing a defense to this lawsuit that he mightn't have time to train and (3) He'd get a better workout if he stayed in Vegas and boxed one of Uncle Roger's girl opponents.
Colleagues on this site have already done a good job of dissecting this process. Ron Borges is absolutely correct in noting that in the midst of all the posturing that's gone on, you'd be a fool to accept at face value anything coming out of any of the parties' mouths. And Frank Lotierzo is spot on in noting that if you had absolutely no desire to actually get in the ring with Manny Pacquiao but were still looking to save face, you'd do pretty much exactly what Mayweather has done. Which is to say, talk tough while you get others to run interference with a series of actions seemingly calculated to ensure that the fight doesn't come off.
But left almost unscathed in all of this heretofore has been the convoluted role played by Golden Boy -- by CEO Richard Schaefer, by the company's namesake Oscar the Blogger, GBP's subsidiary enterprise, The Ring, and at least a few of the lap-dogs and lackeys whose favor GPB has cultivated elsewhere in the media.
In late March of 2008, Shane Mosley and Zab Judah appeared at a New York press conference to announce a fight between them in Las Vegas two months later. As it happened, the BALCO trial had gotten underway out in California that week. That day I sat with Judah and his attorney Richard Shinefield as they explained that they intended to ask that both boxers agree to blood testing in the runup to the fight. Citing Mosley's history with BALCO and its products The Cream and The Clear (which Shane claimed Victor Conte had slipped him when he wasn't looking), Shinefield and Zab, noting that Nevada drug tests were limited to urinalysis, proposed that the supplementary tests be administered by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Want to know what Richard Schaefer's response to that was?
"Whatever tests [the NSAC] wants them to take, we will submit to, but we are not going to do other tests than the Nevada commission requires," said Schaefer. "The fact is, Shane is not a cheater and he does not need to be treated like one."
But the fact is that Mosley had a confirmed history as a cheater. Manny Pacquiao does not. Yet in the absence of a scintilla of evidence or probable cause, less than two years later Schaefer was howling that the very integrity of the sport would be at risk unless Pacquiao submitted to precisely the same sort of testing he had rejected for Mosley.
And you thought it was Arum who was famous for saying "Yeah, but yesterday I was lying. Today I'm telling the truth!"
Schaefer, by the way, defended his 180-degree turnabout by saying he is now better educated on the issue. He couldn't resist aiming a harpoon at the media by adding that many sportswriters "don't know the difference between blood and urine testing."
Don't know how to break this to you, Richard, but sportswriters, who have had to deal with this stuff for the past twenty years, probably know more about drug-testing procedures than any other group you could name.
Now, the reasonable assumption would be that by assuming the role of the point man in this unseemly mess, Schaefer was insulating his boss (De La Hoya) and his fighter (PBF) by keeping their fingerprints off it while he made a fool of himself publicly conducting this snide little campaign.
And yes, Money would have stayed out of the line of fire had not a two-month old, expletive-filled rant in which he described the Philippines as the world's foremost producer of performance-enhancing drugs not exploded on the internet at the most inopportune moment. That the lawsuit was filed less than 24 hours after "Floyd Meets the Rugged Man" overtook the Tiger Watch probably wasn't a coincidence.
And we're assuming that this Dan Petrocelli, the lawyer who filed Pacquiao's suit, knows what he's doing, because if there were an even one-zillionth chance that somebody could credibly link Manny to PEDs, then it was a pretty dumb thing to do. You could ask Roger Clemens about that. Clemens' transformation from Hall of Famer-in-waiting to nationwide laughingstock didn't come from the Mitchell Report. It came from his wrongheaded decision to file a lawsuit against Brian McNamee, which in turn threw everything open to the discovery process.
De La Hoya, in the meantime, was playing both sides of the fence. He let Schaefer play Bad Cop as he distanced himself from the negotiating process, but simultaneously was sniping away at Pacquiao from his First Amendment-protected perch as a Ring.com blogger.
"If Pacquiao, the toughest guy on the planet, is afraid of needles and having a few tablespoons of blood drawn from his system, then something is wrong... I'm just saying that now people have to wonder: 'Why doesn't he want to do this?' Why is [blood testing] such a big deal?' wrote Oscar the Blogger. "A lot of eyebrows have been raised. And this is not good."
Ask yourself this: Exactly what caused those eyebrows to be raised, other than the innuendo coming straight from Oscar's company?
Providing De La Hoya with a forum from which to dispense propaganda only begins to illustrate the hopelessly compromised position from which The Ring continues to operate. They might as well give Schaefer a column, too, while they're at it.
Nearly seven months have elapsed since we last visited the Ring/Golden Boy relationship, and at the risk of winding Nigel up, it might be useful here to note that in the midst of last June's discourse, The Ring's editor offered a laundry list of the magazine's covers since the De La Hoya takeover as a demonstration of Golden Boy's restraint.
After listing them, Nigel Collins wrote "that's 28 covers over the course of 21 issues, of which Top Rank had 12 fighters, as opposed to eight for Golden Boy and eight for other promotional entities. Obviously, The Ring has shown no bias to Golden Boy when it comes to magazine covers."
It had never even been suggested that the conflict of interest extended to the magazine playing favorites in choosing its cover subjects, but since Nigel brought it up it is probably worth noting now that of those eight covers given over to "other promotional entities," two were of David Haye, whose promoter was properly listed as "Hayemaker," but who had also signed a promotional deal with Golden Boy in May of 2008. (Just last month GBP issued a release in De La Hoya's name in which it described itself as "Golden Boy Promotions, the United States promoter of World Boxing Association Heavyweight World Champion David Haye.")
And even more to the point, in four other issues Nigel Collins offered in evidence the cover subject was Floyd Mayweather (Independent), although what has transpired with regard to the Pacquiao fight doesn't make Money look very independent at all, does it?
We don't regularly keep track of these things, but in making sure we didn't misquote Oscar's Blog we also came across a representation of the January 2010 issue on The Ring's website. The picture on the cover of the Bible of Boxing is of the Golden Boy himself, and the cover story "De La Hoya: The Retirement Interview."
Wow! Now there's a hot topic for crusading journalists.
Since then he has undergone grueling chemotherapy treatments that have resulted in him losing all of his hair as he forces himself to live as normal of a life as possible. Through sheer force of will, as well as the strength and support that he receives from his wonderfully loving family and his strong Christian faith, the 63-year-old Charles has managed to keep his weight up while not falling prey to the always lingering threats of depression, cynicism and negativity.
If one was unaware that he was battling such an insidious disease, you’d never know from talking on the phone to him that he has been to hell and back. He has lost none of the inspiring energy that has endeared him to members of the boxing community and legions of worldwide viewers.
“I’m doing great,” Charles said during a telephone conversation on December 30th. “I’ve been off the chemo for a month, and the doctors have told me that I’m 80 percent in remission. I’m going to see them again in three months. It may come back, but if it takes one year, or two years, or however long, I’m going to make the most of the good time.”
As physically and emotionally wrenching as the grim diagnosis and subsequent treatment has been, even for someone as perpetually positive as Charles, the longtime announcer said a lot of good things have come from it.
Having been married three times, Charles is the father of four children: Jason, 38, Melissa, 34, Charlotte, 22, and Giovanna, 3 ½.
While Charles is not big on regrets, he is the first to admit that he wasn’t always there for his older children. For many years he traveled the world as a CNN correspondent, often putting the demands of his career above all else, including those closest to him. Nowhere was the strain more evident than in his relationship with Melissa.
Having been divorced from Melissa’s mother since 1977, Charles said his relationship with that daughter has been especially “hot and cold, all of our lives.”
His illness has enabled them to forge a relationship that has been “based on a massive amount of forgiveness and understanding.”
“This has had a tremendous healing effect on both of us,” said Charles. “My illness has had a fortifying effect on a lot of things, the most important of which is my relationships with my family.”
That also includes his first wife, with whom he has had an often acrimonious relationship over the past three decades.
“It took a long time for the scab to become a scar, but we had lunch one day and it was so great to once again see the gentle, soft sides of each other,” he explained. “The whole divorce process creates a hardness that doesn’t always go away.”
Charles is also the grandfather to three children, some of whom are about the same age as his youngest daughter. He jokes that he has a “nuclear 21st century family” because of the similar ages of two generations of children. One of the hardest things for him has been the realization that he can’t always play with them in manner in which he would like.
“The hemoglobin is the fuel in your tank, so when it’s low you can’t will yourself to do things no matter how much you want to,” said Charles. “You can’t just sleep it off or work through it. I don’t want the kids to wonder why I can’t play in the backyard with them, or kick a soccer ball, or throw them in the air.”
Particularly difficult is when Giovanna reminds her father of how handsome he is, but then innocently asks him what happened to his hair, eyebrows and lashes.
“You try to keep things on a need to know basis, which is not easy when dealing with curious kids,” said Charles.
While Charles might look like the kind of guy that things have often come easy to, the reality is that his beginnings were far from auspicious. But, he says, his often challenging Chicago childhood blessed him with the steely resolve that has helped him so much during the arduous journey he is now on.
“I had it pretty rough growing up,” he explained. “I remember the lights and the heat being shut off and eating mustard sandwiches. I went to work at 13 and always had insecurities about the future. But I always expected and saw the best in people, so when I got sick, never once did I say 'Why me?”
Since taking a leave of absence from Shobox, the outpouring of support from the boxing community has warmed Charles’s heart. For a guy that is battling for his life, he actually considers himself fortunate to be surrounded by so much goodness in both his personal and professional lives.
“I always hear that boxing people are ruthless, but I couldn’t disagree more,” said Charles. “I’ve probably received about 1,000 e-mails, and people are always following in sending their best wishes. From the relatively unknown people in boxing to many of the more famous people, there has been an outpouring of true affection.”
Charles said that the Top Rank organization has been exceedingly kind and gracious. He was touched beyond description when he learned that officials in Oklahoma got special permission to have a seamstress sew “Keep Fighting Nick” onto their sleeves. He chokes up when talking about cut man Stitch Duran giving up an endorsement opportunity so he could put Charles’s name on his outfit. He never tires of hearing shout-outs from fighters on television.
Charles has always been a people person with an inordinate faith in the goodness of his fellow man. Battling this illness has only made his already strong faith in humanity even stronger.
“Adversity is a great teacher, and it really teaches you who your genuine friends are,” said Charles. “I have a lot of friends.”
He also has a remarkable wife, Cory, a CNN producer to whom he has been married for 11 years. She is the daughter of an electrician, a self-made woman who exudes all of the warmth of her native Brooklyn. She has reinforced her husband’s spiritual base by her love, optimism and strength of character.
“If I get down, she reminds me to not get too caught up,” said Charles. “I believe in eternity, and that has put me pretty much at peace.”
More than anything else, Charles wants to get himself back behind a microphone sooner rather than later, and hopefully on Shobox. He is the first to admit that viewers “don’t watch the series to see Nick Charles,” but he is proud of the fact that he was “part of the identity” of such a popular show.
“And people love comeback stories,” added Charles. “That’s the message I’m getting from the people out there.”
In boxing the word “champion” is often overused because it pertains only to winning belts and receiving worldwide recognition for being the best at your craft. The reality is that life’s real champions have other qualities, such as the innate ability to treat people well and always make them feel better about themselves, especially when the recipients of the goodwill are in no position to give them anything back.
By that standard of measure, Charles is as much, if not more of a champion than all of the boxers he has covered during the nine years that Shobox has been on the air.
I know I speak for scores of others when I say, “Happy New Year, Champ. We hope that you are the comeback story of the year in 2010.”
Manny Pacquaio has been hammered from all sides with folks insinuating and coming right out with the contention that they think he's been cheating, that he's been using illegal performance enhancers to give him an edge in competition. Floyd Mayweather Sr, Paulie Malignaggi, Miguel Cotto and Kermit Cintron have either accused Manny, or insinuated that he's been using PEDs. One has to wonder, where's all this smoke coming from? Is it possible that there's fire lurking? That these folks aren't just lobbing unfounded barbs at Manny, that their allegations and hints aren't just sour grapes, or posturing, or a ploy to lure Manny into a fight?
By and large, there hasn't been much in the way of coverage from the standpoint of: what if Manny is using PEDs, or was using PEDs? I think that is rightly so; I'd be more comfortable if none of us trafficked in the innuendo and speculation, and worked within the realm of evidence, and facts. But it's out there, and a topic of conversation and speculation. Perhaps it's a symptom and sign of the times we live in...
TSS reached out to Malignaggi, just off a solid win in his Dec. 12 rematch with Juan Diaz. The Brooklyn-based pugilist has never been shy about speaking his peace (I picture him exiting his mom's womb and barking at the labor and delivery crew to get the room cleaned up, stat!), and he shared with TSS what he bases his allegations, which he's careful to label opinion, upon.
First off, Malignaggi is of the belief that if the Pacquiao-Mayweather negotiations are at a fatal impasse, Yuri Foreman, and not he, will get the coveted date with Pacquiao. Malignaggi has been mentioned as stand-in for Mayweather.
He started off by insisting that " I have nothing against Pacquiao" but then went from mellow to madman in a 30 second span.
First off, the boxer wonders why Team Pacquiao isn't going after big-time newspapers, with deep pocketed owners, for libel, for insinuating that Pacquiao is drug cheat.
"If Pacquiao's so sue happy, why not sue the New York Daily News?" he asked. "Maybe they know the steroid allegations are true."
By and large, Malignaggi thinks it is impossible, utterly impossible, for a boxer to put on 15 or more pounds between March 15, 2008, when he fought Juan Manuel Marquez and weighed 129 pounds at the weigh in, and Nov. 14, 2009 when he fought Miguel Cotto and was 144 pounds at the weigh in, and more on fight night.
"It's not natural looking," Malignaggi said. But, I countered, what if Manny's supremely blessed, that unlike some other fighters who go up in weight, and look a bit bloated, and lack definition, he's just a special creature?
"He's not supremely blessed," Maliganngi said. "I know body builders. They can't put on 17 or whatever pounds of muscle in a year. It's not doable, in my opinion. These are my speculations, my opinions based on certain factual evidence. Does his weight gain look normal to you? And his head looks like it has blown up in size, too."
I offered to Malignaggi that perhaps we should be attacking the system, if we believe it to be lacking, rather than the individual.
"We can blame the system a little bit, but if you were Manny, wouldn't you want to leave no doubt? Or speculation?" said Maliganngi, who believes that by not agreeing to the terms set forth by Team Mayweather, and opposing a blood test within 30 days of the bout, Pacquaio appears guilty.
Pacquiao has agreed to take 3 blood tests: the first during the week of the kickoff news conference in early January, the second random test to be conducted no later than 30 days before the fight, and a final test after the bout. A video making the rounds from the HBO 24/7 series shows Pacquiao submitting to a blood test two or three weeks before he was due to fight Ricky Hatton, and that has cast doubt on Team Pacquiao's stance that Manny is disinclined to get a blood test too close to a bout, for fear he may be weakened. Originally, it was reported in error that that test was taken 14 days before the Hatton bout, but subsequent reports pegged the test as being taken 24 days before the scrap. Malignaggi feels Pacquiao has been caught lying, that the report from Team Pacquiao that he "has difficulty taking blood" is a cover story. "Why is he effing lying?" Malignaggi said, heatedly.
The New Yorker doesn't believe too many fighters in the lighter weight classes are using PEDs, but thinks usage isn't uncommon in the heavyweight division. "That's hard to do and make weight," he said.
The question is asked of Malignaggi: why does the issue make him so steamed?
"I don't like cheaters," he said. "This is not baseball. You're not just hitting home runs. You have to worry about peoples' lives. Miguel Cotto in my opinion has been beaten by two cheaters. Manny if he's cheating is taking away from guys who are doing things the right way. His team is reneging on their words."
And what if you're wrong, Malignaggi? What if Manny is clean, and you are hurting his rep with these allegations?
"I bet everything I own that I'm not," he said. "But we'll never find out. Hey, I would take the test in a heartbeat. I would want people to know I'm clean. He wants to leave doubts!?? His entire legacy is being questioned, he's willing to hurt his legacy and leave $40 million on the table?"
Maliganngi, after reminding TSS that he was correct in predicting he'd be gamed by judges in the first fight with Diaz, insisted that he isn't singling out Pacquiao for a personal vendetta. ""I've never had anything against him. But that's enough now. I call it like I see it."
What about those who'd say he's just trying to anger Pacquiao, to lure him into a fight?
"No. I expected he'd take the random tests to get this fight. No way I thought he'd throw away everything. That blew me away. It was cool to have my name mentioned."
Malignaggi thinks the boxing media has dropped the ball, and not exercised due diligence in examining the possibility that Manny has used PEDs.
"I understand most people like Manny, and not Floyd. Just cause that's the case doesn't mean Manny might not be cheating. It's nothing to do with him personally. But I call a spade a spade. Too many people avoid the possibilities because Manny's a likable person. He's got that front, his country loves him. That front works like crazy. Floyd plays the bad guy, but he's natural. Just don't downplay the fact that Manny might be cheating. You have to open your eyes and at least be willing to look at it. This is bigger than me. The fact that the fight is not being made, you have to question the integrity of Pacquiao."
Malignaggi then offered an analogy to the Manny-refusing-to-be-subjected-to multiple-random-drug-tests prior-to-a-fight-with-Mayweather deal. "It reminds me of the drunk guy who's pulled over at 3 AM. He has a field sobriety test, the cop knows he's drunk, he looks and acts drunk. But he refuses a breathalyzer test. That don't mean the cop don't haul him to the police station."
I reiterate...I don't think anyone should be casting aspersions based on circumstantial evidence. But with so many people ganging up on Manny, I think fight fans are owed some details on why people are accusing Pacman of using PEDs.
If you look at Gerula’s record and base her talent you would be very surprised. With 10 losses on her resume and only 12 wins it would be easy to dismiss her as a journeywoman fighter. It would be a mistake because 2009 was her chance to prove that all those days in the gym paid off.
Beginning in March, the Canadian from Winnipeg would fly to Tokyo to beat Fujin Raika, then drive over to Edmonton to edge fellow countrywoman Jelena Mrdjenovich, and finally fly to Paris and beat Myriam Chomaz for the world title just last week.
Peru’s Malpartida has a similar story. Beginning in March she beat hometown fighter Maureen Shea by knockout in Madison Square Garden and captured a world title, then flew to Lima, Peru and beat Brazil’s Halana Dos Santos by knockout and several weeks ago defended against Great Britian’s tough Lyndsey Scragg.
“This whole year has been amazing,” Malpartida said.
Both Gerula and Malpartida had surprised the boxing world with their sudden turn around to win world titles in foreign and probably hostile ground. For that they deserve to be co-Fighters of the Year for 2009.
Others had a fine year too such as Germany’s Susi Kentikian who defended her flyweight world titles three times. The little Armenian speed demon had three big wins including a convincing win over Elena “Baby Doll” Reid and two others. More importantly, she won because she is very good, not just because she fights primarily in Germany.
Ana Julaton who captured two world titles in the junior featherweight division is another fighter deserving attention. She beat Kelsey Jeffries for the IBA junior featherweight title in a hard-fought scrap against one of the best fighters in the last 10 years. Then she beat a determined Donna Biggers for the WBO version to grab yet another world title. She’s looking for big fights now. She almost had a fight with Melissa Hernandez but the promoters scrapped it at the last minute. Then they tried to put it back together but it was too late. Julaton’s trainer had already made other arrangements to fly to the Philippines. Most of the boxing people thought Julaton backed out but that was just rumor. The truth was it was the promoter’s call and they didn’t think enough of women’s boxing to keep it.
Colombia’s Lety Florez, Australia’s Susie Ramadan, Russia’s Natascha Ragosina and New Mexico’s Holly Holm all had good years too. Holm was scheduled to fight Melissa Hernandez but problems over hand wrap supervision within a few hours of the fight forced a cancellation. Both fighters were considered among the top three fighters in the world pound for pound. Though Holm had a big size advantage, Hernandez’s defensive abilities would have been fun to see. Holm has a great jab and good speed. It was going to be a dandy fight but instead the fight evaporated into thin air. Others worth mentioning are Mariana Juarez and Ana Maria Torres who are leading a push for women’s boxing in their native country Mexico. It seems female prizefighting is in a big boom over there. Juarez fought and won five times in 2009 and is the interim WBC flyweight titleholder. Castillo is the WBC junior bantamweight titleholder and a true force in boxing. In Las Vegas there is Melinda Cooper and Layla McCarter who fought only once in the year but when they fight they are electric.
Nicole Woods wins recognition for being the most willing to fight any where. The fighter out of Stone Mountain, Georgia fought five times with four taking place that were not in her home state. The boxer known as “Notorious” fought in Montivideo, Uruguay, Tunica, Miss., Edmonton, Canada, and La Pampa, Argentina. She won in Mississippi but lost decisions in other countries.
“Fighting in foreign countries is very difficult because you know going in that you have to have a knockout in order to win. The people are fairly nice but they try to run you around and send you through hell before the fight,” said Woods by email. “I have learned from all of my experiences and next year I plan to try to fight in the US as much as possible.”
Woods is a veteran who has the skills and the will to fight the best in any place and any time. She truly deserves respect.
A few others should be recognized such as Rhonda Luna who fought in Korea, Terri Lynn Cruz who knocked down the champion from Germany but still returned with a loss, and Terri Blair who fought thrice outside of her home state and got a draw in Zambia. There are others. The road for female prizefighters is not an easy task.
Star prospects and contenders
Every year a new group of fighters seem to suddenly arrive in the championship level and give female boxing a boost. They come from all over the world with aspirations of becoming world champions.
In the scarce heavyweight level Tanzee Daniel of Brooklyn, New York erupted into boxing with four wins. In Norway there is Cecilia Braekhus an undefeated welterweight along with Sweden’s Anna Ingman and Hanna Gabriel of Costa Rica who are also undefeated welterweights. Other fighters who look like the real deal are Jennifer Barber and Kaliesha West of California, Adawirky Lopez of Florida, Amanda Serrano of New York, Yesica Marcos of Argentina and Ji-Hye Woo of Korea.
All these women show enough talent to one day be wearing a world title belt real soon.
So what do you do when you are fighting a guy and mentally you acknowledge you're going to have life and death with him for 12-rounds? He happens to be a fighter who doesn't slow down and is going to be a dangerous threat to you all night. In addition to that you have no angles, and no advantages physically or mentally over your opponent? As a matter of fact for the first time in your career you might be on the short end of the decision if the fight is close because the other guy is the draw and the HBO guy.
When faced with that, you do just what Mayweather and his associates have done, and that's try to get to the opponent mentally by creating and manufacturing a controversy. The HGH/steroid issue regarding Pacquiao is nothing more than a smoke screen with the hope of Mayweather trying to gain a mental advantage. Only this time unlike when he fought Juan Manuel Marquez who had no leverage and couldn't stop Mayweather from getting over on him at the weigh in Pacquiao can tell Floyd to go take a hike and make other fights that will add to his bank account and legacy quite handsomely, options that Mayweather doesn't really have, at least not nearly to the degree in which Pacquiao does.
The problem Mayweather has in dealing with and trying to make a fight with Pacquiao is he doesn't own any meaningful leverage inside or outside of the ring over him. By virtue of the way he's conducted his career outside of the ring and ordered basically from boxing's a la carte menu, Floyd's not afforded any benefit of the doubt. That's not an anti-Floyd perspective. It's an honest perspective unless you write for a certain Michigan paper that affords Mayweather every excuse at his disposal. Or you're such a biased Mayweather fan and will defend anything he does to hold up the fight as he paints his opponent in an unflattering manner.
Unfortunately for Floyd Mayweather Jr. he can't have his way and stack the deck in his favor at the negotiating table so he has the edge in the ring in one form or another on fight night. Because his potential opponent is managed by the guy who taught Mayweather how to play the boxing game and has an answer and counter for everything team Mayweather tries to pull. On top of that Bob Arum knows he has in Manny Pacquiao the more marketable fighter who has compiled the more impressive body of work historically and creates more excitement in the ring when he fights.
Having said that Floyd is making the most out of the least and knows that he is the biggest fight out there monetarily for Pacquiao and Arum. That's why he's pushing all the buttons he can to create false controversies that aren't there. Mayweather will string this along for awhile and pretty soon he'll come up with something that indicates Pacquiao is either an android or a being from another planet disguised as a man impersonating a fighter and therefore must be thoroughly tested from head to toe.
Which says team Mayweather must really be impressed by Pacquiao's body of work over his last three or four fights. Which is more than I'm willing to give Manny as good as he's looked recently. I can think of more than a handful of great lightweights and welterweights from past eras that I'd consider overwhelming favorites to beat him.
Eventually team Mayweather is going to have to make a decision as to whether they stop the subterfuge and sign for a legitimate super-fight or Floyd retires undefeated. Mayweather is in a tough spot being the way he thinks. He loves money and a fight with Pacquiao would be like Fort Knox, yet on the other hand he loves saying he's undefeated and "who have beat me?" Obviously Pacquiao is the first fighter who he's contemplated fighting who he's not absolutely sure he can't lose to.
The answer to who has beat him is easy to refute in an historical sense. When reviewing Floyd's won-loss record, what stands out more than anything else are not the names on it, but it's more the names of fighters who are not on it on either side of the column.
Hopefully the games end soon and Mayweather and Pacquiao agree to some form of testing and sign to meet at 147 with the weigh in being the day before the fight.
At this time I don't believe Pacquiao is taking anything illegal, but his unwillingness to give in to all type of testing has somewhat created a slight cloud of suspicion. And if it does come out that he's used any form of illegal PEDs, (regardless that it's not a given that they add to a fighter's performance) the last few years of his career must come under suspicion and Floyd Mayweather is the manager and fighter of the decade.
****EDITOR NOTE: The negotiations for this fight went into another zone when Team Pacquaio announced Wednesday that they are filing a defamation suit against Team Mayweather.
The eager anticipation for the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight has been helped by the fact that 2009 was a pretty good year for the Sweet Science. There is still no shortage of pundits declaring that boxing is dead, especially with the ever-increasing popularity of men fighting in cages, but the fact remains that boxing fans saw their share of good action this year.
Here is a strictly subjective view of boxing’s best in 2009:
Fighter of the Year
Manny Pacquiao: Having savagely destroyed Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto, no one can debate that the Pac Man, 50-3-2 (38 KOS), deserves this most prestigious honor. His popularity and relevance to the sport extends far beyond what he does in the ring. Besides being a fistic hero, he carries the pride of his entire native country, the Philippines, on his shoulders, and is talked about with Mandela-like reverence. His popularity has resulted in him being the subject of a long feature in Time magazine, and even American housewives with no interest in boxing know his name.
Although the heavyweight division is in a moribund state, WBC champion Vitali Klitschko, 39-2 (37 KOS), continues to mow down opponents with aplomb. Over the course of nine months this year, he stopped former cruiserweight champion Juan Carlos Gomez in nine and the previously undefeated Chris Arreola in ten. The only reason the unheralded Kevin Johnson lasted the distance in December was because he chose the path of least resistance and opted to survive rather than fight in any way, shape or form.
Fight of the Year
Juan Manuel Marquez TKO 9 Juan Diaz: Until the sensational finish, the two-way action in this classic battle, with the vacant WBA super middleweight title on the line, was intense and non-stop. This was a great television fight that led to Marquez unsuccessfully challenging Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Diaz engaging in two memorable fights against Paul Malignaggi.
Marcos Rene Maidana TKO 6 Victor Ortiz: Ortiz was being groomed for junior welterweight superstardom by the tandem of HBO and Golden Boy Promotions. Although Maidana was 25-1 (24 KOS), going in, most people viewed his record as bloated and believed he would offer some minor obligatory resistance before Ortiz put him to sleep. But the hardnosed Argentinean came back from three knockdowns in the first two rounds to force Ortiz, who had been down twice, to call it a day in the sixth. Ortiz has since rebounded on HBO with a sixth round stoppage of Antonio Diaz to run his record to 25-2-1 (20 KOS), while Maidana’s record is now 27-1 (26 KOS).
Knockout of the Year
Manny Pacquiao KO 2 Ricky Hatton: Pacquiao’s bone-jarring second round stoppage of Hatton in May first brought roars of approval from the crowd, but those joyous roars were quickly replaced by a frightening din when it appeared that Hatton might not get up from the brutal beatdown. Many prognosticators had given Hatton a good chance of defeating Pacquiao, but the fight was so ingloriously one-sided that is was being talked in boxing circles, and beyond, for months.
Shane Mosley’s ninth round annihilation of Antonio Margarito was especially memorable because Margarito came to the fight with loaded gloves. It wouldn’t have mattered if he brought a switchblade to this bout, because this was a night that Mosley would not be denied. The revitalized Mosley is now set to challenge WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto in late January, a bout many insiders are giving him a good chance to win.
Special mention also goes out to WBC super middleweight champion Carl Froch, who came across the pond from his native England to take on challenger Jermain Taylor in Connecticut. Despite being behind on two scorecards, the Brit dug deep within himself and found the strength to stop Taylor with just 14 seconds remaining in the twelfth and final round of a rugged fight.
Comeback of the Year
Paul Malignaggi: The Magic Man was all but counted out after being stopped by Ricky Hatton in the eleventh round in November 2008. Where was the quick and agile but light-punching Malignaggi going to go, especially with those brittle hands of his? Making things worse was the fact that he was rocked in his first comeback fight, an eight round decision victory over journeyman Christopher Fernandez.
Despite being robbed in his next outing, against Juan Diaz, Malignaggi would not be denied in the rematch, which he won by a clear and aesthetically pleasing unanimous decision in December. The man who had no future just over a year ago is now being talked about as a possible opponent for Manny Pacquiao, should the Pac Man’s fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. fall through.
Danny Green: The likeable Australian retired in December 2007 after a successful defense of his WBA light heavyweight title. His 2009 comeback, as a cruiserweight, started in April with a second round knockout of Anthony van Niekerk, and was followed by a fifth round stoppage of Julio Cesar Dominguez in August. But Green finished the year with a stirring first round knockout of Roy Jones Jr., which puts him in a prime position for any number of major cruiserweight fights, including one against Bernard Hopkins. Good fortune such as this could not have happened to a nicer guy, whose record now stands at 28-3 (25 KOS).
Prospect of the Year
Tor Hamer: The undefeated heavyweight has looked hot and cold, but the reality is he fought eight times this year to raise his record to 10-0 (8 KOS). Say what you want about him, but under the stewardship of promoter Lou DiBella, the Penn state graduate with the big punch is making enough waves to be talked about as a future title challenger even as continues to learn his craft on the job.
Michael Oliveira: The undefeated Brazilian middleweight, whose nickname is Chairman of the Board, fought eight times in 2009 to raise his record to 11-0 (9 KOS). The 19-year-old Miami Dade Community College student plans on having a big 2010, which will hopefully include a fight in his native country where he is already being accorded idolatry status.
Trainer of the Year
Naazim Richardson: If not for Richardson’s astuteness and attention to detail, Antonio Margarito would have entered the ring against Shane Mosley with plaster in his hand wraps. Although he deserves to be commended for being the architect of Mosley’s dizzying performance against the prospective cheater, Richardson deserves even more kudos for uncovering the scandal of the year when he red-handedly caught Margarito trying to perpetrate a blatantly criminal act.
Freddie Roach: Although Manny Pacquiao would be a great fighter regardless of who trained him, it is his relationship with Roach that has made him the most respected and talked-about boxer in years. You need not look past the fact that Roach has improved every fighter he has ever worked with to realize what a truly remarkable trainer he is. Rest assured that someday in the future, there will be a Trainer of the Year award named in his honor.
On December 30, 2009, pound-for-pound boxing champion Manny Pacquiao filed a lawsuit in Nevada federal court against Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Floyd Mayweather, Sr., Roger Mayweather, Mayweather Promotions, LLC, and Golden Boy Promotions executives Oscar de la Hoya, and Richard Schaefer for making false and defamatory statements accusing Pacquiao of taking performance-enhancing drugs. The complaint is attached.
The lawsuit claims the Mayweathers, de la Hoya, and Schaefer knew that Pacquiao has never taken performance-enhancing drugs, knew their statements were false, but made them anyway out of "ill-will, spite, malice, revenge, and envy."
Pacquiao has retained Daniel Petrocelli of the Los Angeles-based law firm of O'Melveny & Myers LLP. About the filing of the complaint, Petrocelli stated: "Manny Pacquiao's achievements come from God-given talent and an indefatigable work ethic -- not steroids. He cannot and will not allow others to deliberately misrepresent his years of hard work and tarnish his reputation."
The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Las Vegas, Nevada, and seeks compensatory and punitive damages for defendants' wrongful conduct.
If Team Pacquaio decides to table the Mayweather deal for the moment, and hash out blood-urine-hair testing parameters outside of the gaze of the keyboard tappers, then what or who is Plan B? It's looking like 28-0 (8 KOs) WBA junior middleweight champion Yuri Foreman as of right now.
The Brighton Bad Boy Mike Marley thinks Pacquaio-Foreman is thisclose to being a done deal for March 20 in Vegas. Team Foreman PR director Dovid Efune counsels us not to book our flights and rooms just yet.
"Team Pacquaio and Team Foreman are talking," Efune told TSS. "But nothing is confirmed. We're all still unsure whether Pacquiao and Mayweather might still be on. We're unsure whether anything is concrete.
"We were told very, very early on by Top Rank that we were likely next in line as an opponent. As opposed to Pacquiao fighting Malignaggi or Tim Bradley, Pacquiao-Foreman would be more exciting. No, it's not a fight like against Cotto, Yuri moves around the ring like a dreidel! And it's one more weight class, another belt for Manny, in the eighth weight class. What would Pacquiao want from Malignaggi? He'd have to drop down in weight for that. Fighting Maliganggi isn't making history, versus Yuri, Manny could be making history."
Team Foreman has eyes wide open on this thing. They realize they could be used as a bargaining chip, to bring Team Mayweather closer to a deal, as the Mayweather crew realizes Manny has leverage to do other things, and make noise, and make money.
"What's wrong with being used as a bargaining chip?" said the affable Efune with a chuckle. "From a professional perspective, compared to where we were a year or two years ago, it's an honor and a privilege to be discussed in terms of fighting Pacquiao."
And if talks with Mayweather crater completely, or there is an agreement to revisit the event after a cool-down period, would the 29-year-old New Yorker Foreman insist that Pacquiao jump through umpteen testing hoops to insure his cleanliness from PEDs?
"That's a good question," Efune said. "I'm not aware that's something being discussed. But the fact that both Pacquiao and Foreman are promoted by Top Rank, I think that would mean making this fight would be easier. I think the Nevada commission's testing regulation have worked until now, have been strong enough. When we were to get down to the nitty gritty, it'll be easier to make Pacquiao-Foreman than Pacquaio-Mayweather because of the closer circle of people involved.'