A classic storyline. The highest of stakes. The promise of violent confrontation.
It doesn’t get much better than this.
There is no mystery as to what Margarito, (37-5, 27 KO), will bring to the table on Saturday night. Honestly, can he really fight any other way than what we’ve seen? In the sage words of Larry Merchant, “You have to dance with what brung’ya,” and that is exactly what he’ll have to do against Shane Mosley.
What makes The Tijuana Tornado so formidable is not immaculate skill, nor awesome physical gifts, but rather his unbendable, wrought-iron will. As he demonstrated on the biggest stage of his career against Miguel Cotto, Margarito simply will not take no for an answer. Even if it means walking through a hailstorm of punches, Margarito will make his intentions felt, with the frequent outcome being an opponent left in ruins (see again: Cotto).
Margarito will have to exhibit nothing less against Mosley. The brutal simplicity of Margarito’s style befits the uncomplicated nature of his fight plan: hit Mosley hard, and hit him often. He must start fast and maintain a frenetic pace the older man cannot hope to keep. Margarito is a fighter who thrives on momentum, so he cannot afford to stumble out the gate with Mosley. If he can build an early lead, the Margarito tide might end up being more than Mosley can turn. The belief of many is that, if Margarito can average in the neighborhood of 100 punches per round, he will gradually tenderize Mosley in the same manner he did Cotto.
Simply put, Mosley, (45-5, 38 KO), needs to implement the gameplan Cotto failed to. It is common knowledge that Margarito’s game is riddled with holes. The difficult part isn’t in finding the openings; it’s making Margarito feel the effects of the incoming. In almost all his fights, Margarito just rolls forward like a heavily armored tank, scoffing at his opponent’s vain attempts to thwart the inevitable. It is up to Mosley to instill doubt in Margarito’s mind, to make him hesitate in his usually relentless pursuit of the kill.
Mosley will have to assume the role of sniper against Margarito. At 37, it is unlikely that Mosley will be able to hang with the hyperactive Margarito punch-for-punch. Instead, he’ll have to counter effectively and keep his opponent off balance with good footwork, something that has never been a strong suit for Margarito. As well as sharpshooting, Mosley will have to find opportunities to work the body, something Cotto neglected to do. An underrated body puncher, Mosley might just find a way to pierce Margarito’s armor if he can dig into his midsection.
This is a tricky proposition for Mosley, who will essentially be walking a tightrope all night long. If he uses his legs too much, Margarito could walk him down in the same manner he did Cotto. If he stands too flat-footed, too eager to trade, he could go the way of Kermit Cintron and get chopped up like firewood. In order to win, Mosley will have to blend skill and will as he sits on the razor’s edge against his vicious adversary.
What Will Happen:
From any perspective of analysis, this fight figures to be an uphill battle for Mosley. Although he still has some game left at 37 years of age, he is still several years removed from his prime. It wouldn’t be difficult envisioning a younger version of Mosley, say circa 2000, pounding out a convincing decision against Margarito. The problem is, it’s nine years later, which is an eternity in the life of a prizefighter.
Mosley’s recent fights have shown him to be increasingly vulnerable. In his fight with Miguel Cotto, a slow start forced Mosley into a late-round rally which ultimately proved to be too little, too late. Against Ricardo Mayorga, the stylistically crude Nicaraguan managed to outhustle Mosley during extended stretches of the fight. Though most fans just remember the savage Mosley left hook which ended the fight with one second left, the fact is that he struggled significantly against a limited foe in Mayorga, indicating that some of the magic may have left Sugar Shane.
Though it remains to be seen if Margarito, already a fifteen-year pro at thirty years of age, can make his mark on history in the same way Mosley has, what seems evident is that he is entering the peak of his career as a fighter. His punishing performances against Cintron and Cotto in 2008 were the kind of breakthrough performances that had eluded Margarito for his entire career. The Tijuana native is likely riding a wave of confidence unlike any he’s ever experienced, a ride he’s not interested in ending any time soon.
Even with his physically taxing style and many years in the ring, Margarito still seems relatively fresh compared to Mosley. Along with the advantage of youth, the styles also appear to favor Margarito. In recent years, the times that Mosley has been most dominant has been when he’s faced foes who have allowed him to set the tempo of the fight, such as Luis Collazo and Jose Luis Cruz. Against foes who have been willing to press the issue a bit more (see Cotto and Mayorga), Mosley has had more trouble. Even against the limited likes of David Estrada in 2005, Mosley had some uncomfortable moments with his hard-charging opponent. Margarito brings greater size, strength, and aggression than any of the aforementioned opponents, which might mean trouble for Mosley.
When they square off on Saturday night, expect Mosley to be the same stylish, tenacious boxer he’s always been, but expect Margarito to be the same unrelenting bruiser that has earned him his fearsome reputation. Exchanges will be plentiful in a crowd-pleasing fight, but eventually youth, hunger, and ferocity will win out as Margarito shows that he simply has more to give at this point in his career. Mosley will keep things close, and will make a valiant stand against his younger, stronger foe, exhibiting the spirit that has made him the legend he is. In the end, though, it just won’t be enough. Though the temptation is there to predict a late stoppage for Margarito, the guess here is that the gritty veteran Mosley will finish on his feet, dropping a reasonably competitive decision.
Guerrero now returns to the ring and faces veteran Edel Ruiz (31-21-4, 22 KOs) on Saturday Jan. 24, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It’s his first fight in 11 months but that last picture of the Gilroy boxer delivering a picture perfect knockout is still in the memories of those who saw it.
“It’s something that me and my dad worked on,” said Guerrero (22-1-1, 15 KOs) of the three-punch combo he landed against Jason Litzau last February in Lemoore, California. “That was prepared just for Jason Litzau.”
Guerrero said his father spotted Litzau’s tendency to jump back in occasionally after getting hit.
“It was a sneaky combination,” Guerrero, 25, said of the left uppercut, right hook and straight left hand delivered. Only the first two punches landed, the third missed as Litzau tumbled. “When the right moment came I delivered.”
Now the slender power puncher is moving up in weight from featherweight to junior lightweight. The 130-pound weight division is dripping with talent.
“I wanted to make it happen. It was getting kind of tough losing the weight,” Guerrero said of now fighting four pounds heavier. “I feel a lot stronger, a lot better.”
Other things have changed for Guerrero, who now fights for Golden Boy Promotions. The decision was self-made to allow him to battle the other stalwarts in the junior lightweight division.
“There’s guys like Rocky Juarez, Jorge Linares and Juan Manuel Marquez,” says Guerrero adding that two of those fighters are also with Golden Boy and easily attainable. “I want to fight all of the time.”
Anxious to return to the prize ring, Guerrero has been working hard despite the lay off and promises to fight three or four more times in 2009. He wants to make up for the lean 2008 and he especially wants one more request granted.
“I want to fight in my hometown,” Guerrero says. “My fans deserve it.”
But expect many fans to arrive from Northern California and other southwestern states who have seen Guerrero blossom into a precise and skilled pro boxer.
Early in his career, he was knocking out many fighters with the regular one-two combination; now, the southpaw slugger has bolstered his weaponry with uppercuts, hooks and counters that make him even more dangerous. He also has become much more difficult to hit.
“That’s why they call me the Ghost,” laughs Guerrero.
Berto retains WBC title
Andre Berto’s needed to win the final round to gain a decision over former world champion Luiz Collazo in their fight last Saturday in Mississippi. As usual, Berto tried to overwhelm with his speed and power and tasted a perfect counter left hand from the southpaw Puerto Rican. He was sent sprawling across the ring.
Back and forth the two boxers battled for 12 rounds. In round four Berto was deducted a point for repeatedly holding. He could have easily been deducted more for the tactic that is illegal under boxing rules.
The last two rounds saw Berto out punch Collazo and take the razor close win 114-113 on two cards and 116-111 on one card.
“He’s an animal,” said Berto of his opponent.
Could Berto be in line for the winner between Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley?
Former world champion Jose Luis Castillo knocked out James Wayka in the second round of their welterweight fight in Mexicali on Saturday.
Castillo is not just trying to prove he can still fight; he’s attempting to prove he can make the suggested weight requirements. Several times in the past he could not lose enough weight the day before a fight and forced cancellation of fights with the late Diego Corrales and Timothy Ray Bradley.
Maybe he’s ready to come back?
France’s Myriam Lamare (16-2, 9 KOs) will be fighting world champion Holly Holm (22-1-3) at Isleta Resort Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Friday. The world title fight will not be televised.
It’s rare that a world champion based in Europe ventures to America because of the low purses. But Lamare, who is a former WBA junior middleweight titleholder, wants another world title and hopes to grab Holm’s belt.
Holt recently fought to a draw with Mary Jon Sanders in a rematch. The redhead won the first match by unanimous decision.
The former light heavyweight champion passed away this week at 72 after suffering a heart attack at his home in Ponce, Puerto Rico, where he had returned to his island roots two years ago after an on-going battle with diabetes had begun to slow him down. It is difficult to think of Torres in that way for he was never slow, either in the ring where he was a quick-handed puncher and technically sound boxer or in a debate on almost any subject.
From the art of how to slip a punch and counter to the art of slippery politics in a great urban center like New York, where he grew up and grew famous first as a fighter and later as a writer and political operative in the Hispanic community, Jose Torres always had an opinion and a smile when he delivered it.
Fame first came to him in 1956 in Melbourne, Australia, where he won the silver medal at the Summer Olympics after having had only 25 amateur fights. Torres had joined the Army and there realized if he boxed there was much drudgery that could be avoided. Naturally gifted, Torres quickly took to the sport, reaching the gold medal round before being out pointed by one of the Olympics’ legendary champions, three-time told medalist Lazlo Papp of Hungary.
Torres would fight on as an amateur for two more years before making his professional debut on May 24, 1958, knocking out Gene Hamilton in Brooklyn. Trained by the legendary Cus D’Amato, who also handled future heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson at the time and later Mike Tyson, Torres didn’t lose a fight for five years, finally being stopped for the only time in his career by Florentino Fernandez in 1963.
That loss did not dissuade Torres, who came back to beat Don Fullmer, Skeeter McClure and Gomeo Brennan before stopping former middleweight champion Bobo Olson on Nov. 27, 1964 in one round. That knockout convinced the handlers of then light heavyweight champion Willie Pastrano to give Torres an opportunity he would turn into a landmark moment in boxing.
Torres desperately wanted that title shot but he told officials at Madison Square Garden he would not get into the ring unless the Puerto Rican national anthem was played along with the Star Spangled Banner. They agreed, making Torres a Hispanic cult hero around New York.
Lured to the Garden on March 30, 1965 by Torres’ popularity and drawing power, Pastrano ran into a 28-year-old opponent in the prime of his career. Torres battered Pastrano until he finally quit on his stool after the ninth round, making Torres the first Hispanic light heavyweight champion in history.
Instantly, Torres was a celebrity in New York, especially in Spanish Harlem. By then he had also become a cult hero to a group of New York writers led by novelists Norman Mailer and Budd Schulberg and newspaper columnists Pete Hamill and Jack Newfield. They loved him not simply for his acumen in the ring but also for his quick-witted personality, his celebrity and his growing array of interests outside the ring.
Yet D’Amato always believed Torres would have lasted far longer as a world champion had his focus been more narrow. In the end, Torres would hold the title for only 18 months, defending it three times including in the 1966 RING Magazine Fight of the Year, a 15-round decision over Eddie Cotton, But on Dec. 16, 1966, Torres dropped a disinterested decision to Dick Tiger and then lost a close, split decision to him again six months later.
“You could say Jose’s interests in staying a champion were compromised by the other interests he had,’’ recalled Teddy Atlas, who trained fighters under D’Amato and grew close to Torres over time. “He was a bright guy. A good writer. As those abilities got polished by Pete Hamill and Norman Mailer they began to draw Jose away from boxing a little bit.
“Cus always felt Jose expanding himself intellectually hurt him in the ring. Hurt him as a fighter because it took away the urgency to fight and it distracted him.
“Jose wrote a column for the New York Post and for El Diario (a large Spanish language newspaper in New York). He had an interest in politics and he hung around with writers more than fighters. That concerned Cus a little even though he loved his intelligence in the ring and out of it.
“After he was finished boxing Joe wrote two very good books (“Sting Like a Bee’’ and “Fire and Ice,’’ the latter an unauthorized 1987 biography of Tyson that seemed to capture him in all his ambiguity, contraction and fragility). But Cus felt Jose’s intellectual pursuits, his celebrity and his relationships with those kind of top writers made him aware of the things boxing can do to you that he should not be aware of to be a great fighter. The type of damage it could do to you.
“Unlike a lot of guys, Jose didn’t have blinkers on. He knew what the sport could do to you even if you were as talented as he was.’’
Torres’ second loss to Tiger in a 1966 rematch was a fight so close two judges had it 8 rounds to 7 for Tiger and the third saw it 8-7 for Torres. By then his interest in boxing was waning or perhaps it would be better say other interests were growing. Regardless, he would fight only twice more after the losses to Tiger, retiring at 32 after being dropped twice by a journeyman named Charley Green before he got up and KOd Green in the second round.
Clear in his mind that his best days in boxing were behind him but his best days in life were not, Torres quickly turned to the writers’ life. His biographies of Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson and his wealth of newspaper columns were as impressive to some as his work inside the ring. Same was true of his growing political power in the Spanish-speaking areas of New York.
Eventually he would serve as chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission from 1984-1988 and as a supervisor for the WBO but outside the ring perhaps his biggest moment came while serving as an aide to then New York City mayor David Dinkins in the 1990s. During a bruising campaign, Torres claimed Dinkins’ opponent, future New York mayor and presidential aspirant Rudy Guliani, appealed to the Ku Klux Klan element in New York.
It was the kind of hard-hitting comment you would have expected from Jose Torres, a guy who could fight, could write and most of all could think.
“Jose looked at things philosophically,’’ Atlas said. “He would look at things a little deeper than the average person. Cus loved the intellectual side of Jose even though he thought it maybe hurt his boxing career.
“He was a passionate guy who didn’t mind showing it. If he saw you he’d come up and hug you and have that big smile. You felt good to see him. And he was a fierce advocate for boxing, the positive sides of the sport and how it could save a kid if he bought into the discipline the sport demanded. He loved to delve into what a fighter had to deal with and he was one of the rare guys who could do it and also articulate it.’’
If ever there was a fistic renaissance man it was Jose “Chegui’’ Torres, fighter, writer and most definitely a citizen of the world and ambassador for a sport that could use one today. Boxing will miss him, but the world beyond it that Jose Torres became so fully engaged in will miss him just as much.
When Pacquiao’s oft-discussed May 2 fight with Ricky Hatton fell apart Wednesday after he refused to agree to a 50-50 purse split with the junior welterweight champion by that deadline even though his promoter and chief negotiator, Bob Arum, had already done so, it was said by Hatton’s representative that because Pacquiao beat Oscar De La Hoya “he thinks he’s Oscar and he is not Oscar.’’
In case Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, has forgotten, neither is Ricky Hatton. In fact, he’s not Manny Pacquiao, either.
Hatton is a very popular fighter in England, or at least will be until he takes a second beating like the one Floyd Mayweather, Jr. put on him. Outside of the UK however, he has fans to be sure, but there are fans and then there is Manny Mania.
Reluctantly, Pacquiao swallowed the short end of a 62-38 purse split for the opportunity to beat the tar out of De La Hoya for eight rounds in December before the six-time world champion quit on his stool after not winning one minute of one round. That victory, on a night when Pacquiao was supposed to be too small to handle the former middleweight champion, cemented Pacquiao’s place atop any list of the best fighters in the world and very likely convinced him that his days of not getting the lion’s share of the purse were behind him.
No disrespect to Hatton, but you have to go pretty far down any legitimate list of pound-for-pound fighters before you get to him. Having said that, Hatton certainly is a big draw in Great Britain and deserves to be paid. Unfortunately, the fight wasn’t going to be in Great Britain, it was going to be in the United States, where Pacquiao is vastly more popular than he is.
Is Ricky Hatton as big a draw worldwide as Manny Pacquiao? Not if you believe the numbers or the rhetoric both Schaefer and Arum were espousing when they were working to sell Pacquiao-De La Hoya tickets and pay-per-view buys last month.
Now that deal is behind them and so they have a different viewpoint on Pacquiao. Suddenly he needs to agree to a 50-50 split with a potential sweetener from Arum to goose his number up slightly? No, actually, he doesn’t. And he didn’t.
Immediately, Schaefer, Hatton’s father and Arum became angry and concluded that Pacquiao’s advisors were leading him astray (translation: not doing what they want) and blowing a $10 million to $12 million payday. Maybe he is but that doesn’t mean he’s without options or that he’s wrong.
First off, Pacquiao held out after he was told he was blowing the deal with De La Hoya and ultimately they caved and sweetened his purse so who do they think he learned the value of brinksmanship from?
Second, Hatton, according to Schaefer, has instructed Golden Boy to forget Pacquiao and make a May fight with either the winner of the Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz match, De La Hoya himself or Floyd Mayweather, Jr. What’s the matter, Wladimir Klitschko wasn’t available?
First, De La Hoya is not fighting Ricky Hatton on May 2 and neither is Mayweather who, you may recall, was last seen inside a boxing ring standing over a knocked out Ricky Hatton, gloved fists thrust toward the sky.
So that leaves him with the Marquez-Diaz winner. Are you telling me he’s going to earn more to fight the winner than he would taking 45 per cent, say, of a fight with Manny Pacquiao? If that’s your mathematical acumen you could probably get a job balancing the budget at Citi or AIG.
While Pacquiao surely won’t make that kind of money against someone like Humberto Soto either let’s stop sounding like Hatton has multi-million dollar possibilities every where he looks because he doesn’t. If Marquez wins, frankly, he would much rather fight a third fight with Pacquiao than move up another weight class to face Hatton and that rubber match would be worth considerably more than Hatton-Marquez. If Diaz wins they can all forget about the multi-millions unless HBO caves to Golden Boy and grossly overpays, as they’ve been regularly doing these past few years.
Because Marquez and Diaz are now controlled by Golden Boy Schaefer believes he can deliver the winner to Hatton. Maybe he can. But who cares if he does? Certainly not most of the paying public.
Instead of fighting the guy who destroyed De La Hoya and beat Marquez they get the loser or Diaz, who is a good fighter who brings nothing to the pay window but an outstretched hand, for Hatton and pay him $10 million or more? I think not.
Oh, by the way, Arum thought he could deliver Pacquiao to Hatton too and thus far he hasn’t been able to do it so these things can become a bit more complicated than Schaefer thinks because, as Arum admitted this week, in the end the fighter has to agree and if he doesn’t it doesn’t matter what the suits say.
As for Floyd Mayweather’s comeback, if you don’t think he would jump at the chance to come back against Pacquiao, who would be smaller than he is and not as fast, then you’re kidding yourself. A second fight with Hatton? Not likely to lead to them dancing until Hatton sees stars.
Pacquiao has not spoken with either Arum or his trainer, Freddie Roach, for several weeks, which makes closing out a Hatton deal more difficult but what makes it impossible is the insistence by Golden Boy on a 50-50 split for their fighter. Their argument is Hatton grosses more on British television than Pacquiao will on Filipino TV and that Pacquiao figures to make more money in this fight than with anyone else. Oh yeah? Not if his people get to Mayweather first.
But that’s not really the point. Go check Hatton’s television numbers and his gate receipts in the U.S. against Pacquiao’s and see who brings in the fans and sells the tickets. Hatton had his one big night against Mayweather but when he came to Boston to face Luis Collazo they were giving tickets away. Same was true for his fight with Paulie Malignaggi. So who can Ricky Hatton fight that will allow him to earn the equivalent of 45 per cent of the gross for a Pacquiao fight?
That would be nobody because there is no De La Hoya or Mayweather option and Pacquiao senses it. Manny Pacquiao knows who the B side is on this fight card just as he knew who it was when he fought De La Hoya. That time it was him. This time it is not.
Richard Schaefer is right when he says the man who beats the man doesn’t necessarily become the man. Shane Mosley had to learn that the hard way after he beat De La Hoya. Pacquiao is not De La Hoya at the gate and neither is anyone else but he’s also not being asked to fight Oscar De La Hoya.
He’s being asked to fight an employee of Oscar De La Hoya’s and that, my friend, means no 50-50 split. Hatton is a good guy and deserves to be well paid if this fight ultimately can be saved but just as Manny Pacquiao wasn’t Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton isn’t Manny Pacquiao.
Unfortunately for everyone trying to make this a 50-50 purse split, no one is surer of that than Manny Pacquiao.
Richardson, whose products of Philadelphia’s Concrete Jungle boxing team for the most part are related to him, is still waiting for that long-term vision to be realized. The closest thing he has to a made-from-scratch champion is his son, 27-year-old welterweight prospect Rock Allen (14-0, 7 KOs), who began boxing at 8 and was a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic team that competed in Athens, Greece.
Other fighters whom Richardson has nurtured, in some cases for nearly two decades, include sons Tiger Allen (Rock’s twin brother) and Bear Richardson and their cousins, Karl “Dynamite” Dargan and Mike “Sharp” Dargan.
Brother Naazim, as he is known in gyms around the country, probably is best known as the trainer of ageless wonder Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, 44, whose corner he has worked for over a decade, but as the chief second only since the Jermain Taylor rematch in 2005, when he rose to the top spot after Hopkins had a falling-out with his longtime instructor, Bouie Fisher. But one of the fight game’s best-kept secrets could find his own star shining more brightly if his newest pupil, “Sugar” Shane Mosley (45-5, 38 KOs), pulls off the upset in Saturday night’s challenge of WBA welterweight titlist Antonio Margarito (37-5, 27 KOs) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Richardson is replacing Mosley’s father, Jack Mosley, whose on-again, off-again relationship with his son once more is off, at least in a professional sense.
“After Shane signed to fight Margarito, I got a call from his wife, Jin, asking me if I was interested in working with him because they were going to go in a different direction,” Richardson said. “I said, `OK, so long as there’s no controversy.’ I didn’t want it to seem like I was pushing Jack to the side. Jin said, `No, this is our decision and you’re our first choice.’ It was made very clear to me that if I wasn’t available, they weren’t going to go back to Jack. They would simply hire someone else. `It’s time we moved on,’ she said.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Shane’s, so I said, `Of course I’ll work with him. It’d be an honor.’”
Richardson has never been much of a hired gun, taking on established fighters who were looking for the boost occasionally generated by a change in the corner. But he had a history with Shane Mosley that made it feel almost as if he was helping another family member, which made the challenge a bit more intriguing.
“Me and Shane would always talk at different fights,” Richardson said. “I guess we had a lot of similarities in the way we approached certain things in the boxing business.
“I guess I first met Shane when my sons were little kids and they were fighting in the Blue & Gold tournament (in California). Rock and Tiger must have been about 12 or 13. They took pictures of Shane, and obviously were impressed by him.
“When we came home, all I heard was Shane Mosley this, Shane Mosley that. They talked me to death about Shane. I said, `Well, Shane’s got a big house. You want to move out there with him?’
“But, really, Shane is a wonderful person. Everybody feels that way when they meet him. He’s polite to everyone. And he’s a great student (of boxing), a lot like Bernard, so it’s not hard to transfer philosophies to him.”
Richardson’s role, as he sees it, is not necessarily to tear down and reconstruct the 37-year-old Mosley. It’s more to study Margarito for flaws and weaknesses that can be exploited on fight night.
“With every job I’ve ever taken in boxing, my first question is, `What exactly are you asking of me?’ he said. “When I find out what my job description is, I stay in my lane.
“Now, with Shane Mosley, my primary goal is not to teach him how to box. He knows how to box. My primary goal is to study Margarito and to formulate the very best fight plan I can. If I can put together the right fight plan, and it’s executed by an exceptional athlete like Shane Mosley, usually you get a good outcome.”
Which is not to say that Mosley is so set in his ways that Richardson can’t tweak a thing or two. As always, the trainer goes to his extensive tape library to unearth clues as to what works for individual fighters and what doesn’t. For Richardson, the past is always prologue.
“One thing I did was to study some of the tapes I had of Shane when he was an amateur,” Richardson said. “I saw something Vernon Forrest had exploited way back when. When Shane was undefeated and the world champion, Forrest exploited the same, exact thing.”
Reviewing old tapes, many dating back to a fighter’s amateur career, is a trademark of the Richardson way.
“When Bernard fought Antwun Echols, and when he fought Robert Allen, I went back to the amateur tapes I had on those guys,” he said. “Man, they were making some of the same damn mistakes they were making when they were kids! Maybe they had learned to mask those mistakes a little better, but they were still there.”
The reason why certain faults linger, uncorrected, is the same reason why Richardson sometimes is criticized for bringing fighters like his son, Rock Allen, along more carefully than some people think is prudent.
“I just watched Andre Berto have a world of trouble with (Luis) Collazo,” Richardson said. “Berto was a beast as an amateur, talented as could be. But Collazo pretty much exploited him the other night. What’s that prove? It proves that you need to take your time and learn so that when you get the belt (Berto retained his WBC welterweight title on a controversial unanimous decision), you know how to keep it and keep it for a while.
“Some guys, it’s like they get their GED and they think they know all there is to know. Smart fighters keep learning until they go to college, in a boxing sense, and start earning advanced degrees. There’s more to having longevity in this business than coming along with hot talent.
“The ones that don’t learn as they go, you seem them making the same mistakes over and over. The smart ones figure out what’s wrong, they fix it and they don’t make the same mistake again.”
Richardson, not surprisingly, cites Hopkins as an example of a serious student of boxing who has used his ring smarts to sustain and even embellish his career past a point when the aging process should have eroded his physical skills far more than they have.
“When Bernard fought (Felix) Trinidad, everybody said he was too old then, and he was only, like, 36,” Richardson said. “But he wasn’t too old, was he? And he wasn’t too old against (Kelly) Pavlik either.
“Some fighters are just exceptional that way, but a lot of it has to do with the way you approach your craft. If you look at the 20-year-old Roy Jones and put him in with the Roy Jones of today, the 20-year-old Roy Jones would wipe the floor with today’s Roy Jones within two rounds.
“Now, if the 20-year-old Bernard Hopkins fought the Bernard Hopkins of today, the 20-year-old Bernard Hopkins would get his ass whipped. He’d get embarrassed.”
So which is Mosley? Is he more like Jones at this deep stage of his boxing life, or more like Hopkins?
“More like Hopkins,” Richardson said. “The 20-year-old Shane Mosley couldn’t beat this Shane Mosley. He’d get dominated. When guys learn their craft and become true students of the sport, they become better fighters. That’s why you want to move some fighters along slow, so they can be better at 30 than they were at 25.”
Richardson, of course, has gone to his tape vault to find out what it is about Margarito that Mosley can take advantage of. He already believes he knows what Mosley could do that would work in rematches with Forrest and Miguel Cotto, against whom he is 0-2 and 0-1, respectively.
“Cotto moves like a boxer, but he’s not actually a boxer,” Richardson said in assessing Margarito’s highest-profile victim. “He can emulate a boxer pretty well because he’s been in the gym with guys like that for so long, at so many different levels. But what he actually is, is a slugger.
“You see it whenever he goes to punch. He’s up on his toes, but he goes flat-footed whenever he’s sets himself to punch. And that’s when Margarito would catch him.
“That little stop-and-start gave Margarito a chance to wear him down. Some guys get discouraged by getting beat up. A beating don’t mean nothing to them, unless it’s some kind of exceptional beating. They’re going to keep walking through the beating. Margarito was taking an ass-whipping from Cotto, but that didn’t discourage him.
Cotto, on the other hand, got discouraged when he found himself in with a guy he couldn’t stop. Cotto likes to walk to you and break you down, and when he didn’t see this dude breaking down – he didn’t see blood coming from his nose, or his face reddening – he started to fold up mentally.”
OK, so maybe Mosley can put that knowledge to use against Cotto, if and when they ever fight again. But what of Margarito? How do you discourage someone who doesn’t discourage easily, if at all?
Richardson isn’t giving away any trade secrets here, but maybe he already has. For guys for whom a regular beating don’t mean nothing, then you have to put an exceptional beating on them.
Richardson understands what a successful run with Mosley can mean to his own reputation. He has been nominated for the Condon-Futch Award as 2008’s Trainer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America, but in conjunction with former WBA middleweight champion John David Jackson, who serves as Hopkins’ assistant trainer. Even when he is receiving more recognition than ever, Richardson doesn’t even get full credit.
He says it doesn’t irk him, but every man has his pride, you know? He believes he would be more of a household name if he weren’t so selective, if he expanded the parameters of his operation to include all comers.
If that sounds like a bit of a potshot at Freddie Roach, who took over as B-Hop’s lead trainer when Richardson was recovering from a minor stroke, well, make of it what you will.
“I was hoping (Joe) Calzaghe would take a rematch with Bernard because I’d love to be in a position to head up Bernard’s camp,” said Richardson, who noted that he took a secondary position to Roach for a fight Hopkins lost on April 19, 2008, on a split decision. “I really felt that by me being sick, I wasn’t there for Bernard as much as I should have been for his fights with Winky Wright and Calzaghe. The last time I was able to run his camp my way was for (Antonio) Tarver.”
And we all know how that one turned out. B-Hop tuned up the “Magic Man” in one of the finest performances of his luminescent career.
“Not taking anything away from Freddie Roach, but I’ve worked with coaches in Philadelphia who were really good but never got anywhere near his level of recognition,” Richardson said.
“Kenny Weldon told me years ago that I had the potential to be a great coach, but I never would be because I love my fighters too much. I didn’t understand what he meant then, but I think I do now.
“You work with a hundred guys, you got a chance to be on TV a hundred times. Some of them win, some of them don’t, but that’s the numbers game. Let’s face it, it’s easier to win if you work with a bunch of guys who already knew how to fight when they came to you.”
So maybe Shane Mosley, by definition, can’t be Richardson’s masterwork. Maybe Hopkins really can’t be, either. Maybe that imprimatur of greatness, the same one that has been stamped upon the Emanuel Stewards, Cus D’Amatos and Eddie Futches, won’t be there for Richardson until Rock Allen and a couple of other Concrete Jungle alums complete the journey from boxing neophytes to adult champions.
But for Naazim Richardson, the arrival at some glorious destination is only as worthwhile as the arduousness of the trip itself.
“It can be funny sometimes, the relationship between a coach and a fighter,” he said. “There comes a time when every fighter has to decide which route he wants to go, and who he wants to be on his team.
“I’ve told my sons they could go another way if they wanted to, and I’d be OK with that if it turned out to be the best thing for them. But changing for the sake of changing isn’t always the right thing to do.
“(Music producer) Damon Dash fell apart from his partner, Jay-Z. Damon Dash said, `I made Jay-Z. And Jay-Z said, `Well, if you made me, make another me.’ That was a heck of a statement.
“It’s like I tell my amateur kids. I say, `If you leave this gym, come back in a year and I’ll have a different national champion.’ Sometimes fighters can take a coach for granted, and sometimes coaches can take a fighter for granted. It happens all the time. But I’m pretty comfortable with who I am and what I bring to the equation.”
It was the kind of sobering lesson young fighters don’t want to be taught, but sometimes need to learn. It comes with hard knocks, heartbreak, setbacks and a pill of humility the size of a basketball.
Doesn’t go down easy.
For awhile, Pavlik (34-1, 30 KOs) was hotter than a jalapeno salad, the best middleweight to come around since, well, since the middle-aged professor himself was fighting at middleweight: Bernard Hopkins.
That‘s who took Pavlik to school. That‘s the guy who beat “The Ghost” last October at a silly catch-weight of 170 pounds. That’s why they call him “The Executioner.” He kills a lot of hopes and dreams.
A one-sided fight, it was a difficult loss for the undefeated Pavlik, especially since Hopkins beat him so easily, so convincingly. It was like watching a wolf devour a kitten after tossing it in the air a few times for kicks.
What Pavlik learned was, at 170 pounds, he’s not so much a ghost as he is a sitting duck. If he can’t fight at 160 pounds and has to move up, he might want to consider a career change. There’s a lot of potential in the food and beverage industry.
But if he can stay at 160 pounds and doesn’t go near Hopkins or sign anything with the word “catch-weight” on it, he might be on his way back to becoming a hot property, the best middleweight out there under the age of 44.
That long, bumpy road back to fame, fortune and credibility starts Feb. 21 when Pavlik faces Mexico’s Marco Antonio Rubio (43-4-1, 37 KOs) at the Chevrolet Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, Pavlik’s hometown.
They will be fighting for the WBO and WBC middleweight belts, which Pavlik still owns despite the loss to Hopkins. It all goes back to the 170-pound catch-weight.
“It took about a week to get over the loss (to Hopkins),” Pavlik said on a recent conference call. “I talked to my wife and dad, then we moved on.”
Sure they did.
Don’t believe it. He’ll remember that loss long after he forgets most of his wins. It just works that way.
“The fans have been very supportive,” Pavlik said. “You can see that by the ticket sales of this fight.”
Apparently, tickets are selling pretty fast in Youngstown. And it ain’t Rubio who is selling them.
“I still feel like a champion, but I feel as if I need to go in and shine on Feb. 21,” Pavlik said. “I need to dominate.”
That would help. But the truth is, he just needs to win.
A nice guy who won the middleweight title with back-to-back wins over Jermain Taylor before the Hopkins fiasco, they worship Pavlik in Youngstown, a small city that keeps coughing up world-class fighters.
“Everyone asks me ‘what could be better then being the middleweight champion of the world,’ ” Pavlik said. “I’ll tell you what’s better. Defending the title in my hometown. This is a dream come true and I want to make it a spectacular night for Youngstown. This city deserves it.”
We know Pavlik does.
Don’t expect Rubio to play the role of sacrificial lamb. He isn’t too concerned about civic pride or the erecting of statues in Youngstown.
“Everything I have achieved in boxing, I’ve earned,” he said. “There have been no gifts given to me. That’s how I became mandatory challenger, traveling throughout the U.S. and Mexico, fighting and winning.“
Yeah, but have you ever fought a hometown boy in Youngstown? A guy who can put you to sleep faster than a glass of warm milk?
“Challenging Pavlik in his hometown makes no difference to me,“ Rubio said. ”I’m not afraid of ghosts.“
The LA Times is reporting that Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy, who represents Hatton, is disgusted with Pacquiao, and has called the fight off. Hatton could instead tangle with Oscar De La Hoya.
The two camps couldn’t decide on an equitable purse split, but it was believed that both sides could be satisfied. Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, felt confident that the deal could get done. Pacquiao stood to make more money than he did for his fight with Oscar De La Hoya. Arum is still hoping that Pacquiao sign the contract and Pacquiao/Hatton can be saved.
Schaefer blasted Pacqauio to the Times:
"I don't know what he's thinking," Schaefer said. "What a waste of time, money and effort. Am I surprised he's changed his mind? No. Frankly, I'm disgusted at the behavior of Manny Pacquiao. He's a spoiled young kid who doesn't know how to behave."
I'm hoping that the envelope is being pushed, and that Golden Boy simply wants to force Pacquiao to do the deal, that this is hardcore posturing. Stay tuned..
TSS reached out to HBO’s sage, Larry Merchant, and asked him if he though De La Hoya would glove up again.
“My gut tells me, if it’s between 1 to 10, I’d say probably 7, that he fights again,” Merchant told us.
“I can sense that his people are rationalizing what happened against Pacquiao, not with alibis, it hasn’t gotten to that level, but with talk of the weight issue and the new trainer who maybe overworked him and that he had the wrong opponent in front of him. That old adage, that styles makes fights, is most true when it comes to veterans, who don’t want to fight a guy who is really quick.
“Bernard Hopkins fights Jermain Taylor and Joe Calzaghe, and he looks old. He fights Pavlik and he looks ten years younger.
“Oscar could fight someone not hard to find and see what happens.”
Whether or not a whole boatload of people buy the event is another matter entirely. Fans consistently come up to him, Merchant says, and ask him who the next De La Hoya is, and the analyst thinks that his fanbase may be near a tipping point, that they may not buy another event after the Golden Boy has come up short in so many big outings.
But, Oscar’s pride is immense and Merchant can see how the fighter/promoter might like to fight again, to “show everybody they’re wrong.”
The fighter seems to be pulled in different directions. “My family and my wife tell me, 'Enough! Accept it. That's it. You don't have it no more'," he told the Sun.
"I've been on vacation and have not been thinking about it. But hopefully soon I will make that firm and last decision. I've been going back and forth and everybody and their mother is telling me to hang them up. There are a lot of questions out there that need to be answered and I'll figure it out. I have to be certain."
Merchant thinks Hopkins and Schaefer would vote ‘Yay’ on Oscar fighting again. “He’s still the most important fighter in Golden Boy,” Merchant said. “And people are still talking about his fight with Manny. So, if you put a gun to my head, I say yes, Oscar fights again. Money isn’t an issue, of course, not unless he invested all his money with Bernie Madoff!”
Me, I say with certainty that Oscar fights again, 10 out of 10. He’s laid out the rationalizations/explanations, about his weight and his new trainer and the absence of Floyd Senior. Most importantly, he talks about there being a question in his head. Those questions, that uncertainty, must be, I’m afraid to say, hammered out of him in an even more conclusive fashion than Manny did. He’ll need to fight at the right weight, with the right trainer, and get worked over for him to be convinced that he is now best suited for making fights, not taking fights.
Spada managed three great Panamanian champions in Hilario Zapata, Rosendo Alvarez and Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran among others.
After Duran lost to Sugar Ray Leonard in the second fight, he also lost his manager Carlos Eleta. In came Spada.
“Spada managed him when nobody wanted to,” said Tony Rivera, who worked the corner for Duran during that time at Spada’s request. “Everybody gave up on Cholo.”
The Argentine had once told Duran that if he ever needed anything to just call “even to carry the spit bucket in your corner” and was not forgotten by the great fighter, as Spada told Christian Giudice in his biography "Hands of Stone: The Life and Legend of Roberto Duran."
In September 1982, Duran called Spada.
“I told Spada, I don’t want you to carry my bucket for me, I want you to be my manager,” Duran told Giudice.
It was Spada who guided Duran through his resurgence that included wins over Pipino Cuevas and Davey Moore. The fiery Panamanian boxer now in the Boxing Hall of Fame fought until 2001.
Spada advised Duran that he would have to strip himself of vices and return to the hunger of before or quit boxing.
“I didn’t want to waste my time and his time,” Spada said in the book.
Rivera remembers well that merger.
“After Duran hit bottom he (Spada) turned him around and made him a world champion again,” said Rivera who worked the corner for those Duran fights that also included the loss to Tommy “Hitman” Hearns.
Rivera, who also worked the corner for Alexis Arguello, Marco Antonio Barrera and Zapata, said Spada was always looking to promote his fighter in any way possible, including making Duran train in a tourist attraction.
“We were training to fight a mean dude in Hearns and Duran was at Universal Studios every day instead of a gym,” said Rivera who spent that period with Duran taking food away from him on a daily basis. “Duran had to lose 41 pounds in a month. He was weak. He nearly fainted walking through Caesars Palace the week of that fight.”
Needless to say, Duran was knocked out by Hearns and the partnership with Spada ended after another loss to Robbie Sims in 1986.
Rivera said it was Spada who brought him to work with Duran and also to work with the other Panamanian greats.
“I met Luis Spada through Carlos Eleta,” says Rivera. “He got me to work with Hilario Zapata and he was the first guy to take me to Asia.”
Spada had met Eleta in Los Angeles and became Eleta’s matchmaker after helping make a fight between Argentina’s Nicolino Locche and Peppermint Frazer for the world title. Later he helped Eleta co-promote fights and then eventually became a boxing manager.
But it was his support of Duran’s resurgence that gave Spada his greatest feat though he rarely touted the association.
“Spada never got in our way. Nowadays managers want to get in the ring and get in the way,” said Rivera. “But Spada was just a big presence. When he’s behind you, you knew that you were in the winner’s corner.”
Pedro Avila R.I.P.
Rivera also said that Panama’s famed trainer Pedro Avila died two days ago.
“He was Panama’s best trainer,” said Rivera. “He was the guy who made Zapata. He also had Antonio Esparragoza and made him champion.”