Tag Archives: floyd mayweather

Stupid Fans, Teddy Atlas, and the Politics of Boxing: A Post Mortem of Pacquiao-Mosley

by Al Alvir

To the boxing world over, there is nothing valid to the argument that Manny Pacquiao was ever on HGH or, at this point, that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is clearly better than Pacquiao.  People who make livings following the sport and assessing the facts are convinced that all the talk is just fanfare to obstruct the truth: Mayweather does not want to fight Pacquiao under any circumstance – Pacquiao no drugs, no food, one arm…  There aren’t even any reliable tests for HGH, and it doesn’t mean anyone should be condemned for taking HGH only for that person being so good.  Even Barry Bonds left a trail of witnesses and suspicious corroborations; not just his size and performance.  The reasons given as to why Mayweather is ducking Pacquiao are simply ad hoc hypotheses.  Whether you know what that means or not, the point is that anyone in his right mind can objectively see that Mayweather does not want to fight Pacquiao for every reason opposite their scapegoats – he’s so much better rather than he’s on HGH, he’s so much better rather than he’s not giving me a hundred million dollars, he’s so much better rather than he’s gay.  Yes, those have all been excuses given by the Mayweather camp.

But stupid fans – oh, so stupid fans – continue to hold on to their biases or, dare I say, prejudices. 

These are the people who have played park basketball and know the material strategies of how to beat the Lakers.  They played little league baseball and know how to adjust a slumping Derek Jeter’s swing.  And maybe they’ve been in a street fight or a few, so they know the strategies that can make a Shane Mosley obliterate Manny Pacquiao. 

Perhaps I suffer from the same delusions, as I’ve argued for years against those idiots mentioned above.  But although I have studied the art of boxing under real boxing trainers since I was a child and once experienced the training life of a boxer and have taken punches in the ring, I can be objective enough to admit that I could be wrong.

Can any of those halfwits who painstakingly hold their rights to their opinions see the little things that go into applying professional game plans?  I’m not talking about the trite “crash the boards” strategy employed by people who know no other way; in boxing, it’s “keep your hands up and jab” that the average dunce exults.  I’m talking about how to set up traps, different defenses, angles, and hiding different combinations.  But the idiots who don’t know the slightest thing about boxing always act like they know more than anyone.  Do they know what makes a slick boxer slick?  No, and that ignorance and lack of education helps their hypotheses (or they may call it “theories,” although that is NOT what it is) fall flat on their faces.  I’m not saying Floyd Mayweather Jr. was not great at 135lb., but I am saying that image sells a lot to the public – dancing, talking, antics, etc.  Corollary, Naseem Richardson said that Pacquiao gets rounds when he gets excited to fight.  It’s called “stealing rounds,” and Mayweather does it a whole lot more, before and after the fight, along with his uncle and father infecting the minds of people who “don’t know [crap] about boxing.”   

Boxing is like politics.  It pulls on our heart’s strings and we put our spin on every fighter’s greatness like it’s a spin top.  The natural barriers of society – like race, religion, place, position, affinities and affections – guide our applauses.  And often, we wear our affiliations for all to see.  Teddy Atlas is one commentator whom I lost great respect for, as he is in an ESPN commentator obliged, but fails, to show objectivity as a known face of the sport, especially because he lacks Larry Merchant’s eloquence to ever explain his partiality.  Bob Jackson, who worked under Cus D’amato like Atlas did, said that he yelled at Teddy Atlas about his actions after Michael Moorer lost to George Foreman.  Atlas quit as Moorer’s trainer after the loss instead of staying by his fighter’s side.  “He only cares about himself,” Bob Jackson told me.  Worse than Atlas’s bad-mouthing Mike Tyson over and over every chance he had seeming to delight in the limelight of having supposedly been the only person who didn’t condone Tyson’s bad behavior, or his indulgence in loud antics in the corner of major fights, he questioned Manny Pacquiao’s legacy before his bout with Shane Mosley.  “Who has Pacquiao fought?” he asked.  “No one but Oscar De La Hoya.”  And now Manny Pacquiao, a Filipino who seems to be oblivious to the divides, may feel the prejudice and aversion akin to that which African-Americans have suffered for decades: “Is it because he’s black?” 

It is as though Manny Pacquiao is the true symbol of the underdog who has overcome.  He is a minority among the smallest-known minorities.  He is from an island country where the identity is arguably to have been conquered by an assortment of cultures, yet also to be servile, welcoming, and humble.  And he’s a fighter who has conquered his opponents resoundingly.  He had to overcome the Mexican elite until they all respected him almost as much as he had respected them.  And what makes him such an easy target to the people who can attack him only with their bully voices is that he is not at all boisterous.  He admits to being hurt and he claims to get lucky.  He smiles at his opponents and prays for their health while trying to crucify them.  Pacquiao also seems to be oblivious to the parade of posturing by the Mayweathers.  He may not even realize how good Mayweather may be; he just wants to fight him for honor, as though he is a throwback to 1521.

The record shows that Pacquiao has agreed to unlimited drug tests, a 50/50 split, and even offered a possible “winner take the whole purse” solution to bring Mayweather to an agreement.  The politics of how information is exchanged and how knowledge is retained may keep people from realizing that Mayweather boxed as a Junior Flyweight, 108 lbs. and has moved up in weight – just like Pacquiao.  But Mayweather’s highest weigh-in weight, 150 lbs., is actually more than Pacquiao’s highest weigh-in weight, 145 lbs.  And Pacquiao did it even more gradually, so the argument of unnatural growth is nonsense (and Pacquiao doesn’t have to dehydrate before weigh-ins).  At welterweight, Pacquiao hadn’t shown immense power either.  Numerous opponents (exception, Shane Mosley) said that Pacquiao had great speed and accuracy, not power.  So the HGH accusations are material nonsense there, too. 

Mayweather fans who don’t know boxing may have forgotten that Jose Luis Castillo already beat Mayweather the first time on many scorecards.  Oscar De La Hoya, too, may have given that Mayweather fight away to a draw – but De La Hoya was robbed by many experts’ accounts.  Mosley badly rocked Mayweather, and Mayweather fans who don’t know better misremember Mosley as having been dismantled with ease.  Mayweather had 8 or 9 tough rounds with Ricky Hatton, as well.  He was not nearly as dominant as Pacquiao against champions or former champions or in title defenses by the sheer score of rounds.  And if it’s the outcome that counts (or even who looked better in each of their worst performances in those bouts), why not open the mind to the possibility that Manny Pacquiao, who has won more, may be better?   

At least Pacquiao is willing to prove it.  There’s no spin you could put on that.

What’s Wrong with Boxing (Not a Question)

by Garrett Morris

Boxing has changed since the old days. In America, it seems too much has changed. Besides gyms closing-down to an economy suited for gentrification and displaced – or misplaced – welfare recipients, the fighters who remain are a meaningless percentage of people who don’t seem to need to fight. Fighters from fifteen to twenty years ago compared to today, if they were made up of the same DNA, would not be spoiled by luxuries, and I dare say that they would be better fighters. In a simpler time, fighters didn’t have choices or they didn’t know they had them.

Of course, the elite fighters today may have been able to tango with the old-timers, but as time passes, fewer and fewer elite fighters seem to be of that recognizable pedigree – poor, proud, and empowered by an implied desperation. It is no surprise that grungy gyms are a thing of the past. Gleason’s Gym, in Brooklyn, had lost its grit with the influx of white-collar boxers, and women – it may be argued. The gym is now set to close-down in 2010. “It’s already a yuppy neighborhood with people who don’t have the nerve to even pretend to be fighters,” one trainer said matter-of-factly. “And real fighters don’t want to be around that.”

Could technology and quality of life be something dooming boxing as sport in America? Every era had its boxer who defined a time, in accord or in revolt, even in their ring-fighting styles that captured peoples’ imaginations. Jack Johnson, Sugar Ray, Muhammad Ali. In the late 80s and early 90s, fighters were captivated by Mike Tyson’s ferocious hip-hop bluster in the ring. Fighters like Larry Barnes and Cliff Couser copied him in vain. After Tyson, fighters leaned like Roy Jones Jr. and threw punches from unorthodox angles. It was an era of transition and Jones embodied it as he moved in the ring unable to be predicted, and winning in weight divisions from middleweight to heavyweight. Today, a time of showiness over substance, excess and meaninglessness, luxury hiding inequity, fighters just don’t punch with the oomph of the past. They are valued by their defensiveness, not just their defense. Like Kevin Kelley once said, “People have gone from defending their titles to protecting their titles.” No thanks to Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr.; he’s just the embodiment of our time. He rolls punches, every move brilliant in itself, but only in itself.

Boxing today is overrun by belts and interim titles and rankings. 20 years ago was much simpler. Sure, there were alphabet titles of the full assortment, but fighters fought everyone they had to. It was the culture of boxing. That’s why when anyone avoided a fight, he was “outted” for “ducking.” Today, “ducking” is “just business,” American politics that fighters today regularly practice. No thanks to Roy Jones Jr; people just saw what worked when Jones stood by his demands and fight terms. Now every fighter is dotting his I’s and crossing his T’s and trying to make everything as safe as can be.

When Jones ducked Bernard Hopkins, it signified change in boxing. Not to say fighters had not represented themselves before this, but this was a high profile negotiation that proved one thing about boxers that would never before had been associated with them: Proving themselves is not worth a fair fight. Jones refused to give Hopkins, a champion with a string of top-notch wins, even money. He wouldn’t fight Hopkins for anything less than 60% of the purse until they were both on the decline in their forties. This marked the age of “sissification” of boxing.

Years ago, fighters never copped-out or pleaded to any disadvantage. Of course, casting hand-wraps, mixing a fighter’s drink, unstuffing gloves, being off-weight or too heavy, blinding an opponent with a substance that stings the eyes, biased judging, and taking performance-enhancement drugs are completely wrong, but this stuff was around before and fighters used to not be such quakers in dealing against it. Although “skills pay the bills,” as Floyd Mayweather Jr. once said, he managed to make Manny Pacquiao’s strength an issue worth not fighting. Mayweather imposed his own demands onto Manny Pacquiao that no other fighter had to submit to before – only because he believed Pacquiao to be too strong at their weight class. Imagine Jake LaMotta complaining about Sugar Ray Robinson being too good at middleweight? Fighters have moved up in weight before, but Manny Pacquiao’s performance was questioned, not because of any previous suspicious acts, but because he was the only 7-division title holder in the history of boxing. Boxing had never put such a cap on itself before. What, boxing can’t be that good? Who can blame Pacquiao for not bending more, when Mayweather never bent at all?

If Paulie Malignaggi were an old-timer, he wouldn’t defame anyone, like Manny Pacquiao, with what his “opinion” was about the other guy taking enhancement drugs. He probably wouldn’t even let it cross his mind. All it means is that he thinks the other guy is too good. It’s that simple. It’s also an unwarranted compliment and it’s bad for boxing. It even makes the boxers look irresolute, soft. Cus D’Amato discussed this with his fighters when he taught the psychology of fighting. A fighter should never concede size, strength, stamina, or toughness to any other fighter. “To be the best, you have to believe you’re the best” no matter what implications your mind might let in. Of course Malignaggi would take the fight – anyone but an extravagantly rich and undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. would – but believe that he, Malignaggi, would be at a psychological disadvantage. He publicly said that Pacquiao has too much energy, takes too good of a shot, and does not break down like other fighters. You can call it awe. The accusation of performance enhancement drug intake is also a built in excuse for losing, and if it’s not that, it seems that way, therefore, it’s a pansy thing to say. “Fighters should withhold comments that make them look like a bunch of washwomen if it doesn’t fair on the side of being brave,” one old-timer said. When Muhammad Ali’s couldn’t see and his whole corner suspected foul play on the part of Sonny Liston’s corner, Angelo Dundee demanded that Ali still go out there and “get on your bicycle.” That old-time stuff would never happen with these pampered athletes of today. At the very least, if a fighter thinks something and doesn’t say it, he isn’t giving a psychological boost to his opponent.

For all the fear and crying ubiquitous in boxing today, Miguel Cotto gets, perhaps, the most respect. He just doesn’t whine and complain. Perhaps it’s because he knows deep-down that Antonio Margarito would have beaten him with or without casts, but imagine if Cotto were less of a man. It wouldn’t do anything for the sport of boxing. It is as it will be. Margarito got caught doing a despicable, cheater tactic and hopefully it doesn’t happen again. Most of today’s fighters, it seems, in Cotto’s position would have gone on camera and made allegations and made pleas as to why they probably lost that fight.

Fighters are special because they seem to have a sense of self, almost to the point of obliviousness to everything that can do them harm. They just deal with things, count their blessings, and eat their losses. Years ago, when steroids were first introduced to sports, fighters didn’t even acknowledge a possible problem. It was as if anyone did steroids, no one cared because it was seen as the fighter’s insecurity or weakness that caused him to take it. Other fighters believed they didn’t need it. Even when Evander Holyfield was heavily suspected (some say it is proven) of taking steroids – causing a heart problem – fighters didn’t give the drugs credence for making Holyfield better. It was not even an issue. When performance-enhancement drugs were found in James Toney’s tests, fighters didn’t protest or reconsider previous losses to him. And years ago when Luis Resto’s gloves were discovered to have the stuffing taken out, not one of his previous opponents accused him of anything. And Mike Tyson could have blamed his corner for his loss to James “Buster” Douglas, as they had no proper enswell or compress for his swelling eye. But the real issue was that Mike didn’t train. Of course, Don King tried to protest the long-count, but that was not a worldly representation of boxing. The point is that boxing used to be made of tough guys in a tough sport who did the toughest things on a regular basis. Today, it’s just more and more regular guys making the toughest sport as soft and regular as it can be. Maybe they’re just preparing for their landing.

And hopefully, it’s face first on the canvas. At least in America.