Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for a Floyd Mayweather Jr boxing match. And love it or hate it that means that boxing discussion over the next few months is going to be dominated by talk of him, his career, his opponents, his personal life, his place in history, his matchmaking and pretty much anything else both his “haters” and “fanboys” can think of to say about him. Opinion is certainly polarized; to some he’s the greatest of all time, a masterful boxer better than any to come before him who has never ducked or avoided anyone. To others he is a sham, a fraud, a boxer who cherry picks overmatched opponents, ducks anyone who may be a danger to him and who wins matches by running from his opposition. It’s easy to get lost in the chaos of a discussion about Mayweather Jr so below are a series of pointers on how to navigate a discussion about Mayweather without looking like a fanboy, hater or fool.
So, it’s on again.
Having signed a contract extension that keeps him with Top Rank (and thus likely ruled himself out of having a bout with Mayweather for the forseeable future) Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao will meet up once more.
To say the result of the first bout was controversial would be an understatement. I’m one of the few who considered the eventual result (a narrow split decision for Bradley) to be correct although I’d have been happy with any score between the eventual 115-113 Bradley to 116-112 Pacquiao. The bout was close with a number of close rounds and I think in the hyperbole about the decision it was often forgotten that neither Bradley nor Pacquiao was spectacular.
Both men come into this contest with something to prove. Bradley wants to prove the first contest was neither a fluke nor a robbery and that he is Pacquiao’s better. Pacquiao wants to prove he’s back to his best after some underwhelming performances and his chilling knockout loss to Marquez. In the pair’s last bouts they each took a step towards that, Bradley asserting himself as one of the best welterweights in the world with a crafty but comfortable decision win over Marquez while Pacquiao showed he wasn’t shot by utterly outclassing the hapless Brandon Rios.
So what points should we consider going into this rematch?
Did anyone expect a different winner?
You know a doorstop attached to the wall? One the sits there unmoving, has the door crash into it again and again, get chipped, splintered and broken down… but every so often you stub your toe on it? That’s Brandon Rios. He was a cricket ball bowled by the England team; more in hope than expectation and then blocked, parried, hit and occasionally smashed to long on while sticking around for over after over despite the damage done to it… and every so often glancing painfully off a hand.
Manny Pacquiao won and won easily. He was too quick, too sharp, too accurate, too fast with his hands and feet and too slick. That’s not really surprising. If a bigger, stronger, more powerful and more experienced Margarito… a man who had actually shown the ability to track down fairly quick boxers previously… couldn’t really do anything to Pacquiao there was no reason to suspect Rios would be able to. The pre-fight discussion was all about how Rios was tailor made for Pac and the fight simply showed that to be true. Rios was slow, flat footed, befuddled by movement, defensively weak and simply outclassed. He tried to box in the first round and that didn’t work. He went back to his brawling and didn’t do much better. He had no answers to Pacquiao’s speed, to his combinations or to his movement. Frankly I wouldn’t have objected if his corner pulled him out after about seven rounds… there was no indication anything would change going forward and… unsurprisingly… it didn’t.
And frankly it’s all a but farcical.
That’s not limited to the crude “brawl” between the pairs respective training staff but to the entire bout itself.
Yes, Pacquiao is coming off a brutal knockout loss. And yes there was another controversial loss before that. And yes, in all honesty he hadn’t looked that great in the two bouts before that. Considering his level of competition and the situation he’s in, he’s allowed to have a soft bout for his return.
But this soft? And for people (in the US at least) being expected to pay for it?
The two men who have done the most to derail the carrer of Manny Pacquiao… one controversially, one chillingly… meet this Saturday in a bout that will tell us a lot about both men.
It is some ways unfair to reduce both of these talented boxers to just their bouts with the Filipino superstar but there can be no doubt that it is their battles with Pac Man that to a large extent have defined their careers. Marquez’s four bouts with Pacquiao brought him from an underrated and little known Mexican boxer stuck in the shadow of Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales to one of the most well known names in boxing while Bradley’s win over Pacquiao should have turned him from an underappreciated star of 140lbs to a superstar only for the controversy over the scoring to sour the entire episode.
Both men turned down the chance to have another crack at Manny for this bout. So after this weekend, who will think that decision was somewhat foolish?
You know, sometimes I hate seeing that Thomas Hauser has published another article.
That’s not because I don’t enjoy them. It’s not because they’re poorly researched. It’s not because they’re badly written. None of the above apply; Hauser is a fantastic writer.
It’s because Thomas Hauser asks the questions that need to be asked which lead to the answers that we don’t necessarily want to hear.
One of his main… I guess investigations is the correct term to use… over recent years has been the use of performance enhancing drugs in boxing and he has written confidently, authoritatively and intelligently on the subject. His latest excellent article can be found here (credit thesweetscience.com), with an extract below. It’s a brilliant but somewhat unsettling read but it is something every boxing fan should read and take notice of.
Thus, it’s worth focusing on Edwin Rodriguez and the laudable commitment to 24-7-365 VADA testing that he recently made.
In August of this year, Rodriguez signed with manager Al Haymon. At least three of Haymon’s fghters (Andre Berto, Antonio Tarver, and J’Leon Love) have tested positive for PEDs in the past.
Another Haymon fighter (Peter Quillin) was enrolled in a USADA testing program prior to his June 2, 2012, fight against Winky Wright. Then, after blood and urine samples were taken from both fighters, Wright was told that the testing had been abandoned and the samples were destroyed.
Haymon also represents Adrien Broner.
Broner, Antonio DeMarco, Golden Boy (Broner’s promoter), and the United States Anti-Doping Agency signed a contract for USADA testing prior to the November 17, 2012, Broner-DeMarco fight. But according to DeMarco, he wasn’t tested by USADA for that bout, nor was Broner.
Then, on June 22, 2013, Broner fought Paulie Malignaggi.
“I wanted VADA testing,” Malignaggi recalls. “And I was told, ‘No, we won’t do VADA. If you insist on VADA, there won’t be a fight.’ Finally, I said, ‘F— it. I’m getting seven figures. I’ll go ahead and fight.’ Would I have been more confident that Broner was clean if there had been VADA testing? Absolutely.”