Did you miss me last week? My email inbox missed you. Since I took a week off from column writing, I didn’t get much in the way of comments or questions. So, for this week’s mini-mailbag, I’m reaching back to a leftover email from two weeks ago, back when people still cared about the now-irrelevant likes of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather:
What significance does the Pacquiao vs. Marquez fight have to predicting the outcome of a possible Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight? Does Pacquiao’s apparent inability to deal with a skilled counterpuncher like Marquez, who many people feel is talented but inferior to Mayweather, suggest that Mayweather would beat Pacquiao? Or does Pacquiao winning in the eyes of the judges suggest that Mayweather would lose, as even if he was successful in outboxing Pacquiao the judges would give Pacquiao the fight? It is unlikely Mayweather would be the aggressor or that he would throw more punches than Pacquiao.
You raise an interesting question that I haven’t seen or heard discussed anywhere in the aftermath of Pacquiao-Marquez III. Everyone agrees that Marquez is similar in style to Mayweather and, as was demonstrated in their head-to-head meeting, inferior in his execution of that style. Therefore, everyone agrees that Pacquiao’s continued struggles with Marquez indicate that Mayweather is capable of giving Pac-Man major problems. But the point you raise about judges’ preferences is an important one to consider. I believe Marquez won two of three fights against Pacquiao and came closest to a clear-cut win in the third fight. Yet none of the three judges scored for him in that fight, and one judge gave the Filipino eight of the 12 rounds. Either Pacquiao’s star power influenced the scoring, or his (not especially effective) aggression influenced it. Could that play a role in a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight?
At the very least, I think it would affect the odds. To my eyes, ignoring external factors like the quality of the judging, Mayweather should be about a 3-1 betting favorite if that fight comes off in May 2012. But I would expect the odds to open more in the neighborhood of 5-2 or even 2-1 because of Pacquiao’s popularity with both fans and ringside scorers.
That said, I see the fight most likely playing out in such a way that Mayweather wins decisively enough for it not to matter. And I think you’re underestimating Mayweather’s recent tendency to be the aggressor, at least once the first couple of rounds have passed. He took the fight to Shane Mosley throughout the final 10 rounds. And he was stepping forward in spots against Victor Ortiz. If Mayweather reaches a point of feeling comfortable against Pacquiao, believing he has Pac-Man’s speed figured out and isn’t worried about Pacquiao’s power, then Floyd won’t be reticent about moving forward and initiating the action.
Still, while every logical bone in my body says Mayweather takes Pacquiao apart, let’s not forget how incomplete the information we draw from can sometimes be. Most observers were fooled into thinking Pacquiao was unbeatable the last couple of years because he fought opponents who were made to order; Marquez reminded those people that Pacquiao is roughly the same fighter now that he was from 2006-2008, just a little bit bigger. When you look at Mayweather’s recent body of work, yes, he’s dominated everyone he’s fought since his narrow win over Oscar De La Hoya in ’07. But he’s faced guys who were either too slow, too old, or just too ordinary. He certainly hasn’t fought anyone with the style of Pacquiao. So just as most of us currently believe Mayweather’s style is all wrong for Manny, let’s keep in mind that we don’t know yet how wrong Pacquiao’s skill set might be for Mayweather.
And with that, let’s move on to a couple of weeks’ worth of accumulated Rants:
--There’s been a lot of talk about how much better 24/7 Cotto-Margarito was than other recent 24/7 series, but I have to ask: Was it really better? Or was it just shorter? Remember, the first episode of Mayweather-Ortiz was a classic, but there wasn’t three episodes’ worth of compelling material to work with after that. Same with Pacquiao-Marquez; the first episode was the best of that series, and after that, you had about 30 good minutes spread over 90 minutes of air time. Don’t get me wrong—the Cotto-Margarito edition of 24/7 was fantastic. But if they still had two more episodes to produce, it would feel considerably less fantastic. Something for HBO to think about going forward …
--If you’re familiar with the website hotchickswithdouchebags.com and you know the various stylistic affectations that qualify guys as d-bags, then you had to appreciate Antonio Margarito checking off another box by adding a crooked trucker hat to his wardrobe on 24/7. Is there any doubt that Margarito’s dressing room on fight night will smell like Axe body spray?
--In a fictional world in which I have no job, no kids, and no responsibilities, I would be really psyched to have eight hours of major televised boxing to watch this coming Saturday. Instead, having eight hours of boxing to watch just stresses me out.
--Allow me to quote myself during the “Quick Picks” segment on the most recent edition of Ring Theory, making a prediction on the Saul Alvarez-Kermit Cintron fight: “I see one of those fights where Alvarez hurts him … and Cintron is kinda okay and the ref jumps in and makes a hasty stoppage that people complain about a little … that’s what I’m envisioning, a premature stoppage, Cintron still on his feet.” Boom! Clearly, it was a productive weekend for blind squirrels in their pursuit of nuts.
--After his victory over Cintron, Alvarez called out Mayweather, and I have to give the freckle-faced kid credit. No, not for his cojones in challenging the best boxer in the world. For his intelligence in marketing himself. That’s how you do it. You toss your name out there in connection with Mayweather and/or Pacquiao, even if you don’t really want the fight yet, and you sit back and watch the media predictably build headlines around it.
--Speaking of marketing, is everyone as sick as I am of hearing about Mayweather vs. Robert Guerrero? This has been a fascinating study in how much press a completely fictional fight can get when one publicist puts his all into it.
--My DVR Season Pass is finally bidding farewell to The Office this week, about four years too late. I pulled a Steve Smoger here, giving the show every benefit of the doubt, when I should have Jay Nady’d it.
--So, Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto II is going to Showtime, huh? With Showtime (under the guidance of Stephen Espinoza) flat-out outbidding HBO (under the implied guidance of Ken Hershman) for this fight, are we about to enter an era where the HBO budget is managed more conservatively than the Showtime budget? Something to watch for.
--If the Klitschko brothers are choreographing the fight scenes in “Rocky: The Musical,” where can we expect them to fall on the spectrum between “so over the top with action that it seems impossible” and “so completely devoid of action that it seems impossible”?
--Butterbean is fighting again. I don’t know about you, but “Rocky: The Musical” sounds a lot better than it did 15 seconds ago.
--I recently drove past the local Tiger Schulmann’s Karate (a major east coast chain) and noticed that it had been re-named Tiger Schulmann’s MMA. I get that MMA is the combat sport du jour and all, but I have to say, as a parent, I’d much sooner let my kids sign up for karate classes.
--RIP, Ron Lyle. It has not been a good month for guys who lost to Muhammad Ali in 1975 and also got knocked out by George Foreman. I hope someone is keeping a close eye on Chuck Wepner.
--If you had told me at the outset of 2011 that Michael Grant and Frans Botha would deliver one of the most memorable boxing moments of the year, I would have called you Ike Ibeabuchi.
--Due to complications in my work schedule and difficulty finding recording times that work for both me and Bill Dettloff, the next Ring Theory (http://ringtheory.podbean.com) is tentatively scheduled to record next Sunday night, December 4, and should be posted early the following week. In the meantime, keep an eye out for a possible impromptu Dettloff Twitter onslaught and pray that Oscar De La Hoya’s family hides the turducken.
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?