Jim Lampley's half-hour boxing news show "The Fight Game" debuted at midnight on HBO Saturday.
In the first segment, Lampley, seated at a news desk, told viewers that the show would look at the game's strengths, and delve in to the sports' weaknesses. He got right into the flow, saying, "In recent years, Floyd Mayweathers' fights have tended to be noncompetitive exhibitions, as he carefully selected opponents who were either too inexperienced, too old or too undersized to compete with his immaculate skills. Not so Miguel Cotto...," the host said, as we saw highlights from the May 5 Mayweather-Cotto clash.
Richard Schaefer, in a remote spot, was the first guest of the show. The Golden Boy exec started off by asserting that he disagreed with Lampley's take that Floyd has handpicked his past foes. He said the list of potential matchups for Floyd is getting larger, a contrast to what Floyd said post-fight, that the list is dwindling. Schaefer mentioned Canelo Alvarez, Robert Guerrero, Devon Alexander, and the Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto rematch. Manny Pacquiao he did not mention. Lampley asked if fans, long suffering, sad afterthoughts too often as the dealmakers do their thing, were any closer to seeing the dream fight, Mayweather-Pacquiao.
"It seems to be clear, Floyd Mayweather wants the fight, Manny Pacquiao wants the fight," but Top Rank, Pacquiao's promoter, does not, Schaefer said. If Top Rank wants to get it done, they can call Schaefer, he stated.
Lampley asked about the split, wondering if Floyd wanting more than 50% of the take could kill the deal. Schaefer said, "I think Mayweather should get the lion's share." He called for an accounting firm to pore over the Mayweather and Pacquiao fights since 2007, compare PPV numbers, gate revenue and such, and base the split on past earning history for each man.
Schaefer said Canelo is calling him almost every day, asking for a Floyd fight. The Mexican phenom will fight Sept. 15, at the MGM, the promoter said.
Schaefer said he's talked longer-term contract with Miguel Cotto, and said Cotto-Canelo is a possibility. What if Cotto goes back to Top Rank? He said he does not have a problem working with Bob Arum.
He left, and then Bob Arum appeared, from the Top Rank Gym. Lampley asked about Floyd's stance that Arum is holding up the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout. "It's the same mantra that we've been hearing, 'take the test,' of course Pacquiao agreed two years ago to take full drug testing. And then the other mantra is identify a scapegoat, and the scapegoat became me. Floyd Mayweather is the school of propaganda that Joseph Goebbels came from."
"Never without a colorful quote," Lampley drily responded, and switched gears. (Goebbels, a vicious ant-Semite, ran Adolph Hitler's propaganda campaign from 1933-1945. He briefly took over as Chancellor when Hitler killed himself
Is Tim Bradley a tough out for Manny? Arum said he poses a tremendous challenge. The promoter wonders what Pacquiao we will see. He has become a wholly different person, and does bible study every night. "Sometimes I get the impression that I'm promoting Rick Santorum, and not Manny Pacquiao," he said.
What about Cotto returning to Top Rank? Arum said he has always been a friend of Top Rank. Cotto trained at the Top Rank Gym for the last fight, and he said he'd be happy to have Cotto back in the fold. Could Arum work with GB for Canelo-Cotto? "Jim, enough of this nonsense," he said. If the fighters want to fight, the promoters don't have final say, he said.
Lampley asked about The Split. Would Manny do less than 50-50? Pacman and Arum both think they should do a 45-45 split, with the extra ten percent to the winner, Arum answered. "But we got to have parity here," Arum said. "It's up to Floyd." Floyd, I believe, sees parity as charity, and will never succumb to an equal split.
Lampley then shifted to the Lamont Peterson positive drug test issue. Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone, word dropped last Monday. Amir Khan and Freddie Roach chatted with Lampley. Khan said he was quite disappointed that the rematch was off. Roach said he didn't see the positive test coming. He thought Lamont seemed clean. Peterson has admitted he took testosterone, supplied by a physician to treat a deficit of naturally occurring testosterone in his body, before the first fight with Khan. Does that invalidate his win, Roach was asked. He said he thinks the result should be overturned, the trainer said.
Khan said he still wants one more fight at 140, and wants to add more mass before going to 147. Roach said Floyd looked beatable against Cotto. He said he thinks Pacman and Khan could both beat Floyd. "If we can get him in the ring, we'll be happy," he said.
Max Kellerman joined Lampley in studio. He said he likes the idea of one fighter getting more of the prize, this being prizefighting, when asked about The Fight. The accountant assessment is smart, though he wonders if Mayweather would dig it if the process determined Manny should get 52%. Max said he thinks we might be closer to getting the fight made because Arum and Schaefer are talking split. I respectfully disagree, sadly; Arum bringing in the Goebbels comparison indicates he is in "loathing Floyd" mode instead of "loving Floyd" mode, or, at least, "tolerating Floyd," which is the mode he generally snaps into in the few times this fight has been getting closer to being made. You can add "anytime Nazi comparisons are being made" to "as long as the Pacquiao defamation suit versus Floyd is in play" to the list of items that present as hurdles and symbols of failure in regards to The Fight reaching fruition.
Lampley asked Max about Canelo. The host said Schaefer laid out to him a tentative plan to fight James Kirkland in September, and then Miguel Cotto in December at MSG, followed by Mayweather in May 2013. "Let's do it," Kellerman cracked. "If there are great fights be made, let's make 'em!"
Max said he's surprised a Mayweather-Cotto rematch hasn't been mentioned more.
Max talked the Peterson-Khan issue. He said he was impressed that Khan has sought out tough gigs, like Bradley and Peterson in DC. His career is stalled out because he's sought out tough challenges. He can go to 147 now if he has to. Max said he was shocked at the Peterson scenario and that the boxer has some damage control and rebuilding to do.
Roy Jones, in a segment called "Trick of the Trade," talked Tim Bradley's head butts. He said Bradley is skilled at using the head as a weapon. In the studio, he talked us through Bradley's butting of Devon Alexander. He said it wasn't intentional but it wasn't unintentional. Bernard Hopkins also uses the head as a weapon, Jones said. The legend said a bad cut, such as when Manny was cut against Erik Morales, can really take a guy out of his game.
Can Pacman avoid head contact? He can, but not if he jumps straight in. Angles, Lampley said, are key.
Lampley then went into "The Gatti List." He said that risk is central to the success of the fight game, and we saw highlights from Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward I. The list is of ten boxers who give every ounce of themselves, and renounce their instinct of self preservation, making them special to fight fans.
Jorge Arce was first on the list, then Abner Mares, Mike Alvarado, Orlando Salido, Cris Arreola, Canelo Alvarez, Sergio Martinez, Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao and finally, Floyd Mayweather. The list will change, the host said, and losing will not automatically dump you off the Gatti list.
It was a fast-paced, informative program, and I look forward to the second edition, out in June.