Mayweather, who is usually boring as the humble and nice guy and is unlikable as a bad guy, was extremely measured as he conversed with Buck and retired New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan and actor Mark Wahlberg, who both happen to be pretty big boxing fans who have followed Floyd's career with interest.
It's been said here that Mayweather is a little overrated and his resume doesn't measure up to past greats like Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns, especially his welterweight tenure. But saying he doesn't measure up to them is not the same as dismissing his ability as a fighter. Mayweather is a great fighter and is one of the smartest and most in- control-of-himself fighters you'll ever see in the ring. Nobody understands their opponents' strengths and makes them have to fight to their weakness as good as Floyd, at least nobody who's currently active.
During his career Mayweather has smartly picked his spots in regards to the opponents he's fought. His legacy will be that he's undefeated more than anything else if in fact he does manage to retire without a single defeat. And that'll help him when he's compared to other past greats when he's matched up with them historically. The mindset of some will be since he never lost he probably would've figured out a way to win versus whoever the past great is he's being matched up with hypothetically.
Since the emergence of Manny Pacquiao some have implied that Mayweather literally fears Pacquiao, a thought that's not endorsed here. Floyd fears losing because he knows it would really be a devastating blow to his career and legacy. But he doesn't actually fear Manny Pacquiao or Shane Mosley for that matter, at least not in the sense that he's actually concerned about getting beat up or knocked out.
If you saw Mayweather's appearance on "Joe Buck Live" you couldn't help but come away thinking that Floyd is already in fight mode and that he is supremely confident that he'll beat Pacquiao when they meet. Instead of him sitting there and trying to justify why he should be the favorite and that him winning is a forgone conclusion, his demeanor was that of someone who knew something that no one else knows.
Floyd has never appeared in public more confident talking about an upcoming fight than he did a few nights back on "Joe Buck Live." The version of Mayweather who will show up to fight Manny Pacquiao hopefully on March 13, 2010, will be better prepared for the fight than any other bout of his career. After observing Mayweather's deportment this week in front of a live audience, it's clear that he knows exactly what he has to do to come out on top against Pacquiao when they meet next year.
I came away from watching Mayweather thinking that as good as Pacquiao looked against Miguel Cotto last month, it would be a huge mistake to sell Floyd short and write off his chances of outboxing Pacquiao for the better part of the 12-rounds the bout is scheduled for.
To anyone who thinks Floyd Mayweather will enter the ring against Manny Pacquiao with the slightest bit of trepidation as to whether he believes he's the greater fighter and will be victorious, you're mistaken.
A press conference for the event ran on Thursday. Here are some quotes from the principals.
Kathy Duva, Main Events: “Tomasz participated in the “Polish Fight of the Century” in Poland, demolishing Andrew Golota. He pretty much made a statement with the heavyweight division. He is now going forward with plans to move up in the division and challenge for the heavyweight title eventually. After facing a very, very big, very slow, very big puncher, Tomasz is now going to come after another guy who is a lot bigger, a lot faster, a lot more mobile than Golota. He get used to another style, get himself acclimated to the heavyweight division where he certainly hopes to continue.”
“This is our 5th fight at Prudential Center, as a matter of fact today is the anniversary of our first fight, when Tomasz won the IBF Cruiserweight title. A good omen!’
Will Carafello, Prudential Center: “Tickets go on sale tomorrow at the Prudential Center box office and at Ticketmaster and we would also like to tell everyone that boxing tickets make a great holiday gift! So don’t just give a sweater or a tie this year – everyone wants boxing tickets! It should be noted that Tomasz’s last two fights at Prudential Center were sold out so get your tickets early because they might not be there.”
Jimmy Burchfield, CES: “I want to congratulate Prudential Center because as Kathy would remember we did the same thing at the Providence Civic Center when we brought Vinny Paz there to fight Joe Frazier Jr. We couldn’t get Vinny on television at the time and we rolled the dice and everybody told us we were crazy, but we put 15, 185 people in the arena and a thousand people outside who couldn’t get in.”
“I was at the Prudential Center to watch the champion (Adamek) fight. I saw this great facility and saw the kind of fights the people want to see. They want to see real fights. This is a real fight. I watched the charisma of Tomasz Adamek going into the ring. Everyone said to us “My God you are going to go into his arena, it’s a hostile place. Your fighter is going to get petrified in that place. I said no he’s not; he’s fought in bigger places.”
“It’s appreciated Mr. Adamek, that you gave Jason this opportunity, but you might have made a mistake in your choice of opponent because this young man is coming to win. This is a victory that puts him back on the top of the map and where he belongs.”
Jason Estrada: “I really honestly think that Tomasz made a big, big mistake. As far as the Golota fight goes, Golota was a big heavyweight in his day, a big puncher, a big strong guy, but that is not the same Golota (that Tomasz fought). To me that’s not really a fight that I would take as a justification to fight me in the heavyweight division. Maybe he should have fought someone else.”
“And then I hear stories that people say he can put me on my ass. It’s not gonna happen. Even in amateur boxing…it’s never happened. In the gym…it’s never happened. In the street…it’s never happened. When I sleep, in my bed…it’s never happened. As a matter of fact I stand up sleeping! So it’s not gonna happen.”
“I work too hard in the gym; I’m just too fast for him. Basically his whole thing about how much faster he is going to be… I’ve seen fast, I’ve worked with Eddie Chambers, I worked with Matt Godfrey, you know these guys are fast. You know I’ve watched his fights; I’ve studied him back and forth, forth and back. Honestly I have to put the DVD on fast forward to make him faster! That’s about equal; put the DVD on fast forward. So honestly he’s a good fighter at light heavy, a good fighter at cruiser, but at heavyweight I think he made a mistake.”
“I want to thank everyone who helped to put this fight together. I appreciate it, I appreciate the opportunity. This is something I have been looking forward to my whole life. I finally got a chance to get a real title, not a toy belt. It’s the real thing so I’m very happy about that.”
Tomasz Adamek: “I am preparing for my Feb 6th fight in my home, Prudential Center, Newark. I think Jason Estrada and I will make a tough fight.”
In response to Estrada saying Adamek made a mistake in taking this fight - “Anyone can talk before a fight, but inside the ring, that’s what you get paid for that’s when you have to work. I think I will win this fight.”
“Once I catch somebody I am going to put them down, so wait until February.”
Dressed in her normal street clothes it would be nearly impossible to equate the girlish giggles and text-messaging addict with anyone feared and avoided in prizefighting.
In the past year West has become puzzled that world champions aren’t knocking on her door or texting her with challenges.
One female fighter who did answer a text to fight is Kasha “Marine Machine” Chamblin.
Moreno Valley’s West (11-1) meets Louisiana’s Chamblin (11-4) at Agua Caliente Casino on Saturday, Dec. 12. The female clash will not be televised on the Showtime sponsored event.
It should be.
With six to eight world titles in the bantamweight division floating out and about, it should be easy to contend for one or two titles. But that’s not the case. Instead there is a sort of keep-away that’s going on with the titleholders who seem more occupied with holding on to the leather belts.
“I thought I’d be fighting for a world title by now,” said West, 21.
Chamblin, 32, has been one of those fighters not occupied with protecting what she wants. The female “jarhead” has faced former world champion Ada Velez, prospect Johanna Mendez and current bantamweight WIBF world titleholder Ina Menzer of Germany. She knows what it takes to fight a world champion. That’s something that West has yet to experience.
Juan West, trainer and father of Kaliesha West, has prepared his daughter since she first put on the boxing gear at age 10. He also trains about six other fighters and all of them are male boxers. His daughter is smack in the middle and works hard to keep pace.
“I see Kaliesha becoming more relaxed and staying more as a professional. She’s coming around real nice,” said West who has trained fighters like Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola in the past. “She is getting to the point where she will be knocking out people.”
Those who witness the affable West in the ring usually compare her to a female version of Sugar Shane Mosley with her slick power-boxing movements and super charged quickness.
Her last fight came in the same arena against veteran Rolanda Andrews, a heavier fighter accustomed to fighting at featherweight who packed big knockout power. Though caught with many right hooks West powered through to the end with her speed and combinations.
Her father said Kaliesha has an instinctive competitive drive that possibly comes from a history of strong ultra athletic women in their family.
“Lillian James was a great runner during the 40s who was a great athlete,” said Juan West of Kaliesha’s relative. “My sister was a strong athlete too. She’d KO other girls.”
Kaliesha West, who prefers to be called Kay, feels at home sparring against much heavier girls like junior lightweight contender Rhonda Luna and WBA junior lightweight titleholder Kina Malpartida.
“She loves my name, she always goes “Wild Wild West,” said West about Malpartida who sparred with each other numerous times. “She can throw a four punch combination, then move laterally. She’s not one dimensional, she can change up.”
Strength and power is what West expects from Chamblin.
“She’s (Chamblin) known for being a real tough girl. She was in the Marines for 8 years. They call her the Marine Machine,” said West who relishes fighting quality fighters like the Louisiana boxer. “So I’m prepared for a tough fight, the toughest in my career to date.”
Her father Juan feels she represents all of his teachings and philosophies rolled into one, including those X-factors that can’t be taught.
“She is courageous,” said Juan West about Kaliesha his oldest daughter. “She has a lot of passion and determination.”
On Saturday fight fans will get to see what female boxing is all about.
For tickets and information call Agua Caliente Casino (800) 585-3737.
Exactly ten years to the day earlier, on November 20, 1999, Vaden, then 32, had stopped Stephan Johnson, 31, of New York in the tenth round of their fight for the vacant USBA junior middleweight title. The bout took place in Atlantic City, on the undercard of a heavyweight battle between Michael Grant and Andrew Golota.
The gravely injured Johnson was rushed to the hospital, where he passed away on December 5.
The 25-year-old Rodriguez, a Chicago resident with a 14-3 (8 KOS) record, was also rushed to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries two days later.
For many of the past 10 years, the extremely sensitive Vaden said he would spend the month leading up to November 20 “preparing” for the heartbreaking anniversary.
“My body and mind would go into a sort of shock, and I would get very cranky and sad,” said Vaden, who will turn 42 on December 29. “All I wanted to do was wash away the guilt that I was feeling. I always had a feeling of dread; that something bad was going to happen to me so I would be paid back. I was punishing myself. It was horrible.”
Hypochondria was one of the many conditions brought on by Vaden’s overwhelming grief. Every time he got a sniffle or a cough, he was convinced it was the beginning of a dreadful illness that might lead to a long, slow death. If he pushed his son’s stroller as he jogged, he’d silently pray that if something happened to him his son would somehow get home safely.
“I became scared to live,” Vaden explained. “I would call my doctor every second, for every little thing. As a fighter I was a counterpuncher, always very defensive, and I was rarely hit solidly by punches, but I would always ask the doctor if something was wrong with my brain.”
Even after Vaden would get clean bills of health, his obsession would not diminish. “If I got a throat scratch, I’d think it was cancer,” he said. “If I got a twinge in my legs, I’d think is was MS (muscular sclerosis).”
Vaden desperately needed someone to share his pain with, someone who could personally understand his emotional turmoil which was exacerbated by the suicide of two relatives with whom he was very close. He finally reached out to Johnson’s former fiancée and received some much-needed, albeit temporary peace.
Her involvement in a new relationship made him realize that she had, to some degree, moved on with her life. It was the first time that Johnson was able to put the death behind him enough to live with some degree of normalcy.
One of his first orders of business was embarking on a health regimen, vowing to participate in at least one physical activity per day. Over the last seven months he has walked, run, boxed or played basketball, ate better food, and immersed himself even more intensely in the scores of altruistic activities that have kept him busy for many years.
Having already lost 54 pounds, he said that in the days leading up to the 10-year anniversary of Johnson’s death he was in the second best shape of his life.
After learning of Rodriguez’s grave injuries and subsequent passing, however, the similarities to his own travails came back with a vengeance for more than the obvious reasons.
“I started thinking, probably way too much,” said Vaden. “He (Rodriguez) and I were both out-of-town fighters, and we had both flown into the Philadelphia airport for our fights. That’s how much I started reaching to put myself back there, the whole punishment thing was happening all over again. It was a big backward step.”
It has been almost a month since Rodriguez’s death and Vaden, utilizing all of his tools, is finally feeling somewhat like his old self. Besides being a corporate motivational speaker, he is the founder of a high-end boxing workout called “Ultimate,” and has also started work on a book and screenplay.
He is on the board of directors of Spectrum Sports, Inc., which assists special needs children, and very active in the San Diego chapters of Big Brothers, Big Sisters and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“My goal is to help those in need,” said Vaden, who it seems would be just as civically oriented even if the Johnson fight never took place.
Vaden draws great strength from the positive aspects and the positive people in his life. Among them are his beloved 13-year-old son, Dayne Taylor, who he just took snowboarding, and good friend Chris Byrd, the former heavyweight champion who recently moved his family to San Diego.
During Vaden’s illustrious amateur career, which encompassed 337 fights, of which he says he lost only 10, he and Byrd often met in the finals of amateur tournaments. While Byrd represented the United States on the 1992 Olympic boxing team, Vaden, who was also one of the country’s top amateurs, opted to turn pro in 1991.
Vaden stopped Vincent Pettway in the twelfth round of their August 1995 bout to win the IBF crown. Four months later, in a unification match with WBC champion Terry Norris, he lost his title by 12 round decision. Vaden finds some irony in the fact that the Norris bout took place in Philadelphia, as if he and Rodriguez have a kinship because they both laced up the gloves in the City of Brotherly Love.
Vaden rebounded from the loss to Norris with four wins and one loss, the latter of which was by 11th round TKO to WBC middleweight champ Keith Holmes. After the tragic fight with Johnson, he fought just once more, losing a 12 round decision to Shibata Flores in April 2000. His final ring ledger was 29-3 (16 KOS).
“I thought I closed the door completely on boxing in 2000,” said Vaden. “After the situation with Johnson, I read a quote by Michael Jordan, where he said once he retired all he wanted to do was take his kids to school, get a pot belly and gain weight. I thought that sounded pretty cool.”
Because he was mired in such a deep depression, what seemed cool early on did not last long. What also wasn’t cool was the bad blood between him and Norris, who also hailed from the San Diego area. Their rivalry extended far beyond the local spotlight they were forced to share and the time they spent swapping punches in the ring.
When asked about the rumors of a sordid love triangle, Vaden’s uneasy laugh made it clear that it was not an issue he wanted to discuss. What he did say, however, was that the animosity that he and Norris once had for each other has since waned and that he couldn’t be happier about that.
“For so many years there was nothing but disdain between us,” said Vaden. “Every time we saw each other, we just stared or snarled. It was very uncomfortable.”
Several years ago the two met at an amateur show, where they shook hands and made up. Bygones have become bygones, and they now treat each other with the mutual respect that each deserves.
“The moment we shook hands all of the disdain and hate for him left my body,” said Vaden. “I wish Terry nothing but good things, and I am honored and privileged to have shared the ring with a Hall of Famer.”
In some ways, having a positive relationship with Norris has helped Vaden come to grips with the Johnson tragedy, whenever the emotional remnants of that fight rear their ugly head.
“Life is too short to spend it second guessing or punishing yourself,” said Vaden. “You can only do your best, which is what I try to do every day. That is why I am involved in so many charitable activities. I want to make a difference, a positive difference. Until I take my final breath, I want to help those in need in whatever way that I can.”
In an excellent battle of unbeatens, Timothy Bradley (24-0-1 NC, 11 KOs), of Palm Springs, Calif., will defend his World Boxing Association (WBO) Junior Welterweight title against interim champ Lamont Peterson (27-0, 13 KOs), of Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Dec. 12 LIVE on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast).
The telecast will open with WBC/WBA Super Flyweight Champion Vic Darchinyan (32-2-1, 26 KOs), of Sydney, Australia, defending his belts against WBC interim titlist Tomas Rojas (32-10, 22 KOs) of Mexico.
Combined, the four fighters have a phenomenal record of 115-13-2 (72 KOs) -- a winning percentage of 88% and a victory by knockout ratio exceeding 66%.
Bradley, who is coming off a No Contest against former unified lightweight world champion Nate Campbell on Aug. 1 on SHOWTIME, is on a hot streak in the stacked 140-pound division. Bradley originally won the fight via highly controversial third-round TKO, but the decision was later changed to a NC due to an accidental head butt that opened a cut over Campbell’s left eye.
Peterson, who is one of the hottest prospects in boxing, is coming off a seventh-round TKO over previously unbeaten Willy Blain on April 25, 2009 for the interim WBO junior welterweight title. Now he has his first shot at a world title against a man that no one in the division has been able to beat.
The 12-rounders are promoted by Gary Shaw Productions and Thompson Boxing Promotions, in association with Top Rank and Agua Caliente Casino • Resort • Spa.
What the fighters had to say on Wednesday:
“I want to thank Peterson for taking this fight. I know Lamont Peterson very well and he knows me, and I know that Barry Hunter is underrated. I love his trainer Barry Hunter. He is a great guy.
“Don’t let Peterson’s record fool you. Saturday night is a candidate for fight of the year. Probably will be fight of the year.”
“I know they are prepared, but I’m just letting everybody know that I’m willing to die Saturday; I’m willing to die for that title. I’ve got to have it. I know I’ll have it. I know I’m going to hell and back to get it because Lamont Peterson is a great fighter. It’s my time and I’m willing to die Saturday night for that title.
“Mom, I know this may upset you, but I’ve got passion and with that I’m ready to die in the ring. I’ve trained extremely hard for this fight. I’m ready, I know he is ready and we are going to get it on Saturday night.
“It’s going to be a hell of a fight. It’s going to be fight of the year, guaranteed. I’m not going to lie down and I know Lamont isn’t going to lie down. It’s on.”
“I’m just so amped for the fight. Don’t miss the fight. Like everybody says, it should be a really good fight. It will be a really, really good fight, so don’t miss it.
“Timothy has to do what he has to do, but if he says that he’s willing to die then he should give me life. If he says I got to kill him in order to win – then that is what I gotta do.
“If Bradley were engaging another opponent I would support him. But since he is fighting against me, there is no such thing as a friendship.
“I went through Timothy Bradley’s last six fights and looked for what he constantly did during all of those six fights. I studied those tapes over and over again so I could familiarize myself with the moves that he does over and over again.
“I am not concerned at all about the fact that I am fighting in Timothy’s backyard. I am not fighting the crowd, so it makes no difference. It’s Bradley that I will be battling in the ring.
“I won’t have a loss. It CANNOT happen. I have to come out as the winner. A loss is not ever on my mind. That’s my train of thought now and always will be when I enter into the ring.”
GARY SHAW (Bradley & Darchinyan Promoter)
“It’s good to be back here at Agua Caliente. Thanks to SHOWTIME, who have obviously backed Timothy Bradley and Vic Darchinyan. It is a special quality that when Darchinyan lost they still brought him back to TV, which is more then I can saw for other networks. It is going to be a great card. We will be sold out on Friday, for sure. 100 percent.
“Vic is fearless. If there is ever a fight in a bar I hope I’m standing next to Vic Darchinyan. Vic is special. He is the current WBC and WBA World Champion, a two-belt champion and the most exciting fighter in all of boxing. It’s going to be a great opening fight, a great action fight for both TV and the fans here.
“Now for the main event, this is a class act (Lamont Peterson and Barry Hunter). This is one of those times that I’m going to hold the trash talk and just introduce team Bradley. This fight will speak for itself.”
CARL MORETTI, Top Rank
“It’s the end of the year and I beg people to watch this fight Saturday night because you will truly see a candidate for fight of the year. You won’t see a bad fight ever between these two guys.
“Bradley, as a boxer, we have so much respect for. He does everything that he is asked to do. He is truly the best 140-pounder in the world. That’s why this fight means so much and that’s why we believe in Lamont Peterson.
“When you have someone like Lamont Peterson and his team, the offer came up and there was no backing down. That’s where we wanted to go and we find ourselves here today. At the end of the day, we believe we will have the new champion.
BARRY HUNTER (Peterson’s Trainer)
“I’ve known Timmy since he was a junior in the amateurs. He has always been one of class. He has been a hard worker. I have nothing but respect for the whole Bradley team.
“The happy side of this is I’m sitting next to a kid (Peterson) that I’ve had in the gym since he was 10 years old. Not too many people get a chance to dream and then live the dream. He, too, is a hard worker. He is a very exciting fighter, a very intelligent fighter. I’m very happy and I’m very proud of him.
“He’s very well prepared for this fight. He came in under weight today. We had a great camp.
“Come Saturday, I know you’ll see a great fight and it could very well be a candidate for fight of the year. You have two skilled athletes with the will to win. Timmy has proved himself and now it is our turn. Come Saturday, we’ll do all we can to walk out of here with that belt.”
“Team Rojas can believe what they want to believe. They say they are going to take me out and take my belt? How does he figure that he is going to beat me when I have beaten all of his opponents that he has fought?
“He acts brave, but when he sees me here he begins to shake.
“I am a fully loaded gun and I am going to shoot him down with my boxing skills in the ring.”
“I'm ready and geared up for Saturday's fight. It's a two-for-one on Saturday because I will take two belts from Vic Darchinyan on Saturday night. He's (Vic) a good fighter, but I am ready for him.
"This is an important fight for me. Vic Darchinyan is strong but not indestructible.
"I’m ready to take the belt. I’m going to throw a lot of punches. I'll throw more punches and harder ones.
Darchinyan has faced a lot of great fighters, but he has never seen or fought someone like me.
"It's a pleasure being back in the U.S., but I am dedicating this fight to Veracruz, Mexico."
In his last fight Haye the former WBA/WBC/WBO cruiserweight champ won a lackluster 12-round majority decision over WBA heavyweight champ Nikolay Valuev. Prior to the fight the top ranked contender for Value's title was former champ John Ruiz. Ruiz was paid step aside money to clear the path for Haye to fight Valuev with him remaining the mandatory challenger for the winner. Since the fight there's been a lot of talk suggesting that Haye will probably make his first title defense against Ruiz sometime in 2010.
John Ruiz is a fighter that some fight fans would like to see go away, but the guy is a real grinder and him beating Haye shouldn't be thought of as an upset by anybody. Ruiz is a very dangerous fight for Haye and in all honesty David wasn't anything close to impressive against Valuev. Ruiz fought a better Valuev in 2005 and 2008 and lost two disputed decisions to him. Haye being a little smaller and quicker than Ruiz enabled him to stay away from the ponderous Valuev. Whereas Ruiz was forced to muscle and fight Valuev more and therefore had a tougher time winning rounds convincingly against him.
During his 17 year career the 37 year old Ruiz has fought almost every top heavyweight who's come along during that time. He was only embarrassed in one fight against David Tua and that was more than 13 years ago. Since Tua, only Roy Jones and James Toney have outclassed Ruiz, but that was in part due to their quickness and fighting style. Ruiz is vulnerable to quick handed movers/boxers and also to fighters who can really punch like Tua. David Haye is neither.
Ruiz is much stronger physically and tougher than he gets credit for being. He's the type of fighter who can probably get to Haye psychologically during the fight. And if Haye were to nail him with his Sunday right hand and Ruiz didn't go anywhere, it's not a reach to think Haye could easily come undone and Ruiz would feed off of that as he proceeded to maul as the fight progressed.
With the sudden emergence of Bernard Hopkins being injected into the mix as a possible opponent for Haye, it might not be a bad idea for Haye to find a way out of fighting Ruiz so he can fight Hopkins for more money. Haye would be a solid favorite over Hopkins and Ruiz will be aging on the sideline during the interim. And if Haye has shown us anything over the last six months it's that he's a smart guy and understands the business of boxing.
Remember, he talked himself into a fight with both Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko before pulling out and finagling himself into a title fight against the fighter he had the best chance to beat who held a major title. If Haye were to fight Ruiz and lose he'd be at the back of a long line of contenders in line to fight either one of the Klitschko's. However, a fight with Hopkins would captivate the public's interest and the risk of losing is significantly less. Being so much bigger and younger than Hopkins would be a great neutralizer for the experience he lacks. And stylistically, Hopkins doesn't throw a lot of punches and Bernard would look to get Haye to beat himself more so than he'd try to go out and take the fight to him; which is a big plus for Haye.
If I were Haye, I'd try to find away out of fighting Ruiz next and would push to fight Bernard Hopkins instead. If Haye beats Hopkins he'll enhance his name recognition and remain in line to fight Ruiz or one of the Klitschko's in a subsequent fight. And there's a good chance he could be stopped by Ruiz in a loss compared to losing by decision to Hopkins if he were to lose to him.
David Haye fully grasp that he's not a fighter who's going to build a hall-of-Fame legacy fighting as a heavyweight circa 2010 and beyond. So his best move would be to try and extend his tenure as WBA heavyweight champ into as many significant pay days as he can - and that starts with fighting Bernard Hopkins. And if he beat Hopkins he'd make a lot more fighting either Klitschko in his next fight opposed to him coming off a victory over Ruiz, which is certainly not a given.
After the fight there was some fallout regarding the decision because two of the judges scored the fight 116-112 and 118-110 in favor of Diaz (I had it 115-113 Malignaggi). The overwhelming scores favoring Diaz are indefensible. What's more is Malignaggi was emphatic before the bout that the deck was stacked against him and if he didn't score a knockout, he'd be robbed out of the decision in Diaz's hometown. And Paulie proved to be a prophet based on the two ridiculous scorecards submitted by judges David Sunderland and Gale Van Horn.
As stated here after the fight the outrage over the scoring and decision would quell within a week or two, and it did, because it always does. This is something promoters and broadcast networks know they can always count on, which is part and parcel why things never change regarding the outlandish scorecards turned in by some judges.
Malignaggi-Diaz was a close fight and the decision in favor of Diaz is not the biggest robbery we've ever seen in professional boxing during the modern era. Both Paulie and Juan are decent guys and easy to root for, despite Malignaggi not having the most aesthetically pleasing style to watch. However, fights should be scored by professionals who observe them with their eyes and mind open. There were some close rounds that were difficult to score in the last fight, but Malignaggi fought his fight more so than Diaz fought his.
Which brings us to-- who has the advantage in the rematch?
Who is it between Malignaggi and Diaz that has a better chance to adjust from the first fight and be more effective this time? With Malignaggi and Diaz having contrasting styles, one of them is going to have to either raise their game or implement something new from a tactical vantage point.
Malignaggi used the ring and gave Diaz a lot of lateral movement in the last fight. He boxed beautifully and out-hustled Diaz who really had no answers for Paulie's one-twos as he circled to his left. Another smart thing Malignaggi did was grabbing Diaz in between punches and then pushed him off of him. This caused Diaz to have to start and reload again using up chunks of the round in order to close the distance and get close enough to cut loose again. Diaz knowing he had to slide to the right and block Malignaggi's only escape route was always a step behind and reacting to what Malignaggi was doing instead of forcing Paulie to do what he needed him to.
Diaz wasn't completely ineffective in the fight. He did have some success at getting to Malignaggi during the first half of the fight. His problem was he couldn't hurt Malignaggi enough when he did connect with his Sunday left-hooks and right hands. Had Juan been able to hurt and slow Malignaggi some, he could've seized the fight during the last three or four rounds and probably have won the decision conclusively. But that wasn't the case. And because Malignaggi hadn't been worn down by Diaz in the early going he was able to slide and glide around the ring and pick his spots during the deciding rounds of the fight and looked to be the winner when it was over.
Based on the styles and what transpired the last time, Malignaggi has the edge going into the rematch. Paulie did everything right in the last fight but get the decision. He doesn't have to change anything stylistically. Often times the first meeting between a "boxer" and a "swarmer," the swarmer will win because they overwhelm the boxer with pressure and force him to fight more so than allowing him to box. In the rematch after seeing the attacker the first time the boxer sees what he has to adjust to in order to neutralize the attacker. But that's not the case here. The "boxer," Malignaggi, got the better of it the first time and doesn't have to deviate from what he did and how he fought Diaz this past August.
The burden lies on Diaz in the upcoming rematch with Malignaggi. He has to somehow disrupt Malignaggi and prevent him from boxing and using the ring the way he did the last time. This is a task that won't be easy for Diaz this time either. And a big part of that is because Diaz doesn't seem to posses enough power to force Malignaggi to rush his punches as he looks to get away. When Diaz nailed Malignaggi with his big left-hooks and right hands in their last fight, Malignaggi not only took them but answered back with his own assault and then moved before Diaz could get set to fire back.
Unless Malignaggi has eroded dramatically over the last four months or shows up in less than top shape, Diaz has his work cut out for him this Saturday night. On top of that Malignaggi will be fighting with more purpose and a chip on his shoulder wanting to prove that he won the first fight, whereas Diaz will be looking to prove he deserved the decision that he was awarded in the last fight.
Diaz is in a tough spot. Fighting as the attacker without carrying a big punch as an equalizer is the hardest style to fight for a pro boxer. And it's not like he can develop a big punch because punchers are born, not developed or manufactured. Diaz is what he is and will fight with the doubt in his mind that he can't hurt Malignaggi. And that will be compounded by the fact that Paulie doesn't have to question whether he can stand up to Diaz's best; he knows it.
In Saturday night's Malignaggi-Diaz rematch, the fighter who won the first fight is at the disadvantage psychologically and stylistically. Diaz has to be better and more effective than he was the last time, and Malignaggi just has to do exactly what he did in the last fight.
American challenger Kevin "Kingpin" Johnson still plans on a very hot night none the less, and promises to come out blazing against WBC titlist Vitali Klitschko at the Postfinance Arena, before a capacity crowd. The assembled swarm figures to be the type of European homeboys who make the Klitschko brothers far bigger attractions, either as live or televised acts, than they are in the United States.
In this part of the civilized world, it's a pretty safe bet that most people watching television Saturday evening will be watching the contest live. The arena, with a capacity around 12,000, sold out in a matter of hours and almost all of those seats will be holding Klitschko fans.
Klitschko is around a 5-1 favorite, with a knockout expected.
Even in the face of such realistic imposing odds in "hostile", or should we say hostel territory, Johnson has managed to appear unfazed, even quite relaxed, and he promises to tip the Alpine applecart.
"I'll shock the whole world in nine rounds," Johnson said at Monday's press conference. "The only people who could have beat me are Muhammad Ali or Larry Holmes."
The scenario in which a smaller, unheralded US challenger confronts a formidable, far more rigid Eastern Bloc hulk conjures obvious "Rocky" based cliches, but Johnson's engaging personality has added some fresh hype.
"All I've been thinking about in training is winning," Johnson told TSS through an email exchange. "That's it. My job is to win the fight no matter what. I have not considered the possibility of any other outcome. I will win this fight and you can take that to the bank. I've trained in Europe several times over the years so I'm pretty comfortable over here. Other than the cold weather nothing is really different. Besides, when I'm training I never really pay attention to my surroundings. Everything else is irrelevant to me."
It would be one of the upsets of the year if Johnson could match the type of surprise Eddie Chambers pulled off against Alexander Dimitrenko last July, but the foundational components of slick boxer versus much larger, stiffer opponent are much the same although Klitschko has demonstrated strengths Dimitrenko never did, while Johnson has yet to perform on a level near Chambers'.
Klitschko has been on quite a roll since stopping Samuel Peter for the belt last year, staying relatively busy this season with respectable stoppages of Juan Carlos Gomez in Stuttgart and Cristobal Arreola in Los Angeles.
Johnson swears he sees success where those others met failure.
"I have respect for all of those guys but none of them have the skill set that I have, that will propose a problem for Vitali. I'm a boxer. Those guys stood there and took beatings. Vitali is going to have a hard time getting a clean shot on me. I have a better jab than all those guys and definitely a better jab than Vitali. Plus, I'm versatile. If plan A doesn't work, I got plan B,C, and D. Those guys just didn't know how to deal with adversity."
Everyone in the boxing game currently stands in Manny Pacquiao's shadow as a candidate for 2009's Fighter of the Year, but if Klitschko wins without hitches Saturday, he's a very respectable runner-up.
"Johnson should give me ten percent of his purse so I can pay his medical bills for him," deadpanned Klitschko.
There appeared to be a bit of bad blood brewing as the bout drew near, though Johnson was diplomatic regarding his treatment by the Klitschko promotional team.
"I won't comment on that," said Johnson. "I'll wait until I have the title in my gym bag before I respond to that. I was actually hoping to secure the opportunity before Arreola did, however it didn't happen that way. So I sat patiently and waited for things to clarify themselves. After the Klitschko-Arreola fight my team was approached again by team Klitschko and I told them to make the deal no matter. I was not going to let this opportunity slip by again."
Johnson seems happy with the fight location.
"Switzerland and Berne in general is great, the people, the food, and the atmosphere. I will definitely be coming back. I've been shocked by the number of fans who recognized me in public. Everyone has been so nice and respectful. I just hate the fact that I'm going to disappoint them by beating up on Vitali."
Should Johnson make good on his gloved-up goal, he'll consider himself the top heavyweight on the planet, despite many observers who rate Wladimir as the better boxing Klitschko.
"Vitali is head and shoulders above his brother in terms of talent. Wladimir is not in the same class, but it doesn't matter because after I take Vitali's title, Wlad is next on my list. I wan to beat both of them then I'll be undisputed champ."
All Klitschko's recent foes have talked a good game until Vitali's massive mitts started slamming into their kissers. Whether Johnson can keep the pounding promise that Peter, Gomez, and Arreola reneged on once the thuds got heavy is indeed a longshot.
Numbers wise, based on recent form it's probably around an 80% probability that if fight is over by Johnson's predicted ninth round, it's Johnson who gets counted out. Still, he looks like at least a fairly live underdog. Johnson's demeanor indicates though he's probably outgunned, he won't go gently.
Berne is said to be named after a bear killed by the Duke of Zahringer in approximately 1191. The town was also known for a tourist attraction bear pit, a brick structure that once held some of the area's namesake beasts until the last of which were recently euthanized for health reasons. Those cold confines were scheduled to be replaced this winter by a more natural type setting.
Any symbolic similarities between the bear pit and Saturday night's ringpost confines remain to be seen. Either way, the majority of folks paid to see somebody get mauled.
Let's just hope the resulting action isn't unbearable.
OK, mouths aren't watering at the prospect of Pavlik, the Youngstown, Ohio banger who's been sidelined by a staph infection on his left hand since his February blowout over Marco Antonio Rubio, meeting the relative unknown Espino.
Mouths were watering at the sight of a Pavlik/Paul Williams tangle, which was supposed to go down in the summer, and then again on Dec. 5, but was put off because of Pavlik's stubborn hand.
The boxer's manager Cameron Dunkin was at MSG for the Gamboa/JuanMa Jan. 23 event press conference, and he explained to TSS the deal with the Williams date, and why the WBO/WBC middleweight champion Pavlik (35-1 with 30 KOs) ended up fighting a mere two weeks after he and Williams were slated to butt heads.
"Hey Cameron, TSS readers want to know why Kelly is OK to fight so soon after that squashed Dec. 5 date?" I asked the manager, who is actually in NYC today, showing off a new signing, Mikael Zewski, now the No. 5 world-rated amateur welterweight with a 138-29 amateur record. (A four-time national champion, the Canadian Zewski, 20, was a Silver Medalist at the 2004 youth Pan Am Championships and earned a fifth place finish at the 2009 Senior Worlds in Milan, Italy.)
"This was not what we wanted, but we had to do it," Dunkin explained. "We got heat from the sanctioning body so Todd deBoeuf (of Top Rank) came up with Espino. The doctors said Kelly wouldn't be ready by the fifth."
Even now, Dunkin stresses, Pavlik is not 100%. "I took him to a doctor in Vegas," he said, because the healing wasn't happening in Ohio to his liking. Pavlik's therapy to speed up improvement wasn't progressing, and a visit to a specialist in Vegas has improved the left hand in question. "It's 80%. It may never close all the way. But there's no pain."
Further clarifying, Dunkin said he wanted to buy some more time, and asked HBO to move their date from Dec. 5 to the 19th, but HBO couldn't do it. Pavlik kept waiting for the hand to heal, but eventually he had to fold on the Williams plan. A couple weeks after Dunkin figured out that Dec. 5 simply wasn't feasible, the hand progressed enough to use. The manager said he understands why people are anxious, and makes sure to tell us that he understands totally why Team Williams and HBO did what they had to do. "I understand why the fans feel the way they do," Dunkin said.
Espino is from California. The 29-year-old has a 20-2 record with just 9 KOs. He owns an 11-fight win streak, following a 2004 loss to Peter Manfredo, so he'll bring momentum into Youngstown's Beeghly Center.
Dunkin shared some good news. Twenty-five year old junior middleweight James Kirkland will be getting out of jail soon, and will be able to resume his career. The 25-0 Texan, who holds 22 KOs, was incarcerated for violating probation. He was in a vehicle and had a firearm. Cops frowned, handcuffs were produced. Kirkland was sentenced to two years time in September, and Dunkin said he'll be out in five months. Kirkland will stay in a halfway house, and can resume his trek to a title shot. How was institution fare treated him? Dunkin says he's at 173, and ready to begin a re-ascent.
Lastly, Dunkin says his prospect Matt Korobov, an 8-0 Russian-born middleweight, has benefitted from a hookup with trainer Kenny Adams. Dunkin had hooked up Adams up with his guys, like Diego Corrales, Bones Adams, Steve Johnston and Freddie Norwood and all flourished under his direction. "Kenny has to teach Matt how to fight inside, and the first thing they'll iron out is balance," Dunkin said. "Adams is the best trainer in the world, maybe Freddie Roach is there with him. I've said that for ten years."
DISHIN' WITH DAVIS Kery Davis wasn't fibbin' when he described Sergio Martinez as "Carlos Quintana on Red Bull," was he?
The HBO Sports vice president chatted with TSS last Thursday, at the Gamboa/JuanMa press conference, and we picked his brain for tidbits on what comes next for some on the HBO roster.
He said 25-0 Lucian Bute, the IBF 168 pound champ, wouldn't look out of place as a test for for Long Tall Paul Williams, and mentioned that Bernard Hopkins' name came up as a opponent for LTP before Martinez was settled on. "Hopkins didn't say there was no interest," Davis told us. Who here thinks Williams better get a crash course in footwork before he signed on against Hopkins?
Mind you, this chat went down before we saw that Williams apparently could use some remedial work, so...
"Williams would do Shane Mosley," the executive continued. I like Andre Berto, but am leaning towards Mosley's experience edging him past Berto, so Williams/Mosley would be a great spring fling....
Now, we'll see what happens on Friday, when WBC light heavy champ Jean Pascal (24-1 with 16 KOs) rematches with Adrian Diaconu (26-1 with 15 KOs, dropped crown to Pascal in June tangle), but a Chad Dawson/Pascal fight would pass muster with Davis and his team, he said.
Davis threw a bit of cold water on a potential David Haye-Bernard Hopkins faceoff, terming it "unrealistic" for Hopkins. "Hopkins/Dawson, I like that fight," he said. "It would establish who is the best light heavyweight."
Davis was enthused about the return of Cris Arreola, just a little more than two months after Vitali Klitschko showed him that he has some ground to make up before he's an 'A' heavyweight. "The Arreola-Klitschko fight was our largest rating this year, by 20%," he said.
Viewers respond to Arreola's passion and style, Davis said.
The exec said he wasn't worried, as TSS-EM was, that Arreola might disappear after the Vitali loss, and celebrate his nice purse with excessive consumption. "No, I wasn't," Davis said. "I think he learned a lesson on what a pro boxer has to do.
PAULIE AND POUNDAGE Paulie Malignaggi was at the press conference, as he was winding down training for his rematch with Juan Diaz. He looked and sounded confident. His left eye was a tiny bit puffy and bruised but he was pumped that he'll get an extra half pound to play with on the scales. The first fight he had to to make 138 1/2, whereas this time he can weigh 138 or less. "When you weigh in that low weight class, every half pound makes a difference." This time around, he'll actually be able to swallow water, instead of swishing it and spitting it out. Heavy duty business these guys are in, huh?
The Brooklyn resident admitted that before the first fight, he came in a tiny bit worried, because he'd been cut on his left eye in training. "We covered it up for the medical exam," he said. "I knew it was going to open up early in the fight."
We heard from his yesterday that he hadn't sparred because of a rib injury before the first fight. Additionally, he's been promised a 20 foot ring, not an 18 footer like they had in Houston. Does all this intel make you want to bet a few extra chips on Malignaggi, or what?
If he beats Diaz, Malignaggi will target Juan Manuel Marquez, or a rematch with Ricky Hatton, who he swears he can beat with the guidance of new trainer Sharif Younan. Paulie dropped a TKO11 to Hatton Nov. 22, 2008 in England, and that fight stands out to him, and breaks his heart like your first love dumping you for your best friend.
SPEEDBAG John Duddy's advisor Craig Hamilton told TSS that his guy will be fighting 14-3 Juan Astorga, a Mexican Texan, on the Jan. 23 Gamboa/JuanMa undercard. A date with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr was desired but that's in flux, as Junior tested positive for a diuretic following his last fight, a UD over Troy Rowland on the Pacquiao/Cotto card. Look for Duddy to headline at the MSG Theater, against TBD, on St. Paddy's Day.
“My brother and I used to pretend we were Antonio Diaz and Julio Diaz when we were kids,” said Ortiz who grew up in Kansas. “I never dreamed I would be fighting Antonio Diaz.”
Recently both Ortiz and Diaz have become friends. After Ortiz’ last loss, Diaz called him up for a pep talk.
“I just told him that things would get better,” said Diaz.
Life has a strange way of twisting things around.
Ortiz (24-2-1, 19 KOs) faces mentor and childhood idol “Tono” Diaz (46-5-1, 29 KOs) on Saturday, Dec. 12 at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago. The fight will be shown on HBO as part of a triple-header. Somebody has to lose.
“It’s strange huh?” said Ortiz.
Diaz had been retired for several years after an impressive career that included winning the IBA welterweight world title and beating several marquee fighters like Micky Ward, Ivan Robinson and Cory Spinks. But when he began helping brother Julio prepare for a fight by running with him, the pounds began sweating off quickly and he decided to try it once again.
“I weighed about 200 pounds,” said Diaz, 33, about his life outside of boxing. “I’m still young.”
Now trained by his older brother Joel Diaz in an Indio boxing gym, Antonio Diaz finds himself smack in the middle of one of the best boxing stables in the country. The others in his team include Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley, brother Julio, Abner Mares, Dominic Salcido and others.
Antonio Diaz fits right in as a sparring partner, assistant trainer and mentor for the hot young fighters in the team. But when you mention Victor Ortiz there is a look of solace in his face.
“He’s a strong young fighter,” says Diaz with honesty. “He hurts his opponents.”
While working in the gym you can see that Diaz knows there won’t be many more opportunities if he loses.
“My experience is my strength,” Diaz said of his pending contracted fight at 144 pounds. “I’ll be the bigger and stronger fighter.”
Meanwhile, in an immaculate gym located in a business district in Ventura, Ortiz pounds out punches with machine gun velocity. Each blow has that special sound that real power punchers possess. Kind of like the way a homerun hitter cracks the ball during batting practice. Each blast has concussive impact.
Despite being a power-puncher Ortiz worries about the small intricacies of his sport. Perfection and correctly performing each movement matter to him. The loss to Marcos Maidana last June in Los Angeles has made him understand that he needs to adhere to tactics and preparation.
“Antonio Diaz is a world champion,” said Ortiz, 22, who is still considered a hot prospect by many. “I know I’m in for a tough night.”
When Ortiz talks about Diaz it’s almost in reverential tones.
“Never thought I’d fight Antonio Diaz,” Ortiz says with a far away look. “It’s a great honor.”
But once Ortiz resumes his workout and pounds the mitts held by his trainer Daniel Garcia he emits a menacing sound after each blow. There is a foreboding presence that overcomes him like a blanket of darkness.
Garcia likes what he sees in his protégé.
“We’re prepared to deal with Diaz and his experience,” said Garcia. “But it is going to be a very hard fight.”
Diaz said the friendship that exists between them will not be an obstacle.
“Right after the (Marcos) Maidana fight I texted him (Ortiz) right away not knowing that it would be me he’s fighting next,” said Diaz with an almost sad look in his eyes before reverting back to a more stoic gaze. “After the fight, we’ll still be friends.”