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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.