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Brian's Boxing Mailbag (UFC Heavyweights, Mythical Match-ups, Manny Pacquiao's All Time Greatness, And More)

Hosted by Brian Wilbur
Greetings readers, I hope you are ready for another action packed boxing mailbag of the Ringside Report variety.  I have a great mixed bag of questions this week, ranging from Manny Pacquiao, to mythical match ups, to Vitali Klitschko, and more. 
Boxing is on a bit of a hiatus at the moment.  There has not been a major fight in a couple of months now.  The first quality fight of the year was supposed to be Shane Mosley vs. Andre Berto, but that was scrapped due to the earthquake in Haiti.  We will not have a major bout until Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey square off on March 13th. 
In the absence of notable boxing matches, the UFC has dominated the fighting headlines.  Last Saturday, rising young heavyweight Cain Velasquez knocked out the veteran fighter most commonly referred to as Nog.  With the win, Velasquez surpassed Shane Carwin as the heir apparent in the UFC heavyweight division while Brock Lesnar is on the mend from a stomach ailment.  The emergence of Velasquez as a serious opponent brings more credibility to the UFC heavyweight division. 
The legitimacy of the heavyweight division, and the heavyweight title, in the UFC has faced scrutiny.  The UFC is clearly the pinnacle of MMA, with most of the upper echelon fighters under one roof.  However, the number one MMA heavyweight, Fedor Emelianenko, is not signed to the UFC.  Since the UFC champion is not the best MMA heavyweight in the world, the UFC heavyweight belt is less prestigious than the UFC belt in the other weight classes, and the division itself not as credible. 
Aside from Brock Lesnar, the best MMA heavyweights, including Fedor, Alistair Overeem, Brett Rogers, Josh Barnett, and others, are not signed to the UFC.  Finally Cain Velasquez brings a little shred of respectability to the UFC, as does the winner of Frank Mir vs. Shane Carwin.  Still, the fight that all MMA fans should clamor for is Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko. 
Enough about the UFC, let’s move on to the mailbag, which is 100% boxing this week.  Enjoy and remember to send me your feedback!
Prime vs. Prime Mythical Match-ups
Hi Brian,

I just want to ask how you see these matches unfold and who you think would win.  Please assume that these fights are prime vs. prime.

Rosendo Alvarez vs. Ivan Calderon at strawweight.
Ricky Hatton vs. Zab Judah at junior welterweight.
Tommy Hearns vs. Kelly Pavlik at middleweight.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Tito Trinidad at welterweight.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Alexis Arguello at junior lightweight.
Evander Holyfield vs. Roy Jones Jr. at crusierweight

Ivan Calderon vs. Rosendo Alvarez – I’ll take Calderon by decision because of his slick boxing ability.  Alvarez is best known for creating the only blemish on Ricardo Lopez’s record and was a tough opponent for anyone in his prime.  Ivan, though, is one of the best pure boxers I have ever seen.  He was not as complete of a fighter as Ricardo Lopez, but his defense and counter punching blows me away.  No chance of a KO here but Calderon wins on points. 
Ricky Hatton vs. Zab Judah – There would be a chance for an early round knockout in favor of Zab here since he was so incredibly explosive in his prime and Hatton can be reckless before he finds his rhythm.  Still, more often than not Hatton pounds away and makes Judah give up in the later rounds. 
Tommy Hearns vs. Kelly Pavlik – Hearns demolishes Pavlik.  Pavlik is a strong workman-like champion, but it would only take one or two of Hearns’ sharpshooting right hands to end it.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Felix Trinidad – Interesting match up.  Tito was very strong, hard hitting, and a relentless warrior.  He would also have the edge in size.  However I will go with Pacquiao here because of his edge in defense and chin.  Pacquiao would almost assuredly score an early round knockdown, which would give him the advantage to win.  Plus, Pacquiao has matured into a good/underrated defender so he would stay away from Trinidad’s vaunted left hook.
Floyd Mayweather vs. Alexis Arguello – I look to Mayweather’s fight against Diego Corrales for my prediction in this one.  Arguello and Corrales were both explosive tall, thin men with similar fighting styles.  Arguello was quite a bit better than Corrales, but you can still get an idea of how Mayweather deals with that fighting style by looking at the Corrales fight.  Mayweather dominated Chico and it wasn’t even close.  For that reason I’ll take Mayweather on points. 
Roy Jones vs. Evander Holyfield – I respect RJJ as a fighter but a percentage of his perceived greatness has to do with his careful match making.  Sure, there is no doubt that he was an immensely gifted athlete with the kind of speed few have possessed in all of boxing history.  Still, Roy would be no match for a prime Evander Holyfield at cruiserweight.  Holyfield would skillfully, fearlessly, and relentlessly pursue Jones and knock him out by the 7th round.  Even if Holyfield had to eat some of Jones’ best punches on the way, his chin was more than good enough to absorb those blows.
Even Better Mythical Match Up
Brian, I
If Lionel Ritchie was a boxer, who would he beat?  I know it’s an impossibility but there has to be someone.

Thought provoking question SJ.  Lionel Ritchie, boy could that guy sing a ballad.  Could he throw a jab or a hook to save his life?  Probably not.  Ritchie wouldn’t be able to beat anyone of note.  However anyone who was in good shape, which Lionel appears to be, could beat Eric Crumble.  Look him up on boxrec and I’m sure you’ll agree with me. 
Vitali To Retire?
Word is that Vitali Klitschko is going to retire after his next fight, especially if he wins the WBA Heavyweight belt.  I say good riddance if he leaves.  You want to know why?  He is a disgusting cheater.

I watched Vitali Klitschko dismantle that pudgy Mexican (Chris Arreola) in his last fight, but I saw something that went down in the third round that nobody is talking about.  Vitali took his (censored) out in a clinch and hit Chris with it.  He was never the same after it.  Did you not see it? I know he has a PhD and probably really knows how to use his meat, but that is not fair.  I will be writing to Jose Sulaiman about this and then my Governor, who is a huge boxing fan and will start in an inquiry.  What do you think will happen?

I must have missed that one!  I think I would have remembered if Vitali Klitschko had done something that graphic and inappropriate in his fight against Arreola.  Or perhaps I blocked it out of my mind because it was so traumatizing. 
But regarding Klitschko’s retirement status, yes, he stated this week that he is eying retirement.  That is not really a surprise since he was already retired recently and he is approaching 40 years old, which is very old for a pro boxer.  The goal of the Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, is to hold two of the four major belts apiece.  Wladimir holds the WBO and the IBF right now and Vitali has the WBC.  David Haye has the WBA. 
Vitali Klitschko wants to achieve his goal of Klitschko brother domination of the heavyweight division before he retires.  They are so close to achieving their goal.  Vitali is going to try very hard to attain a unification bout against the winner of David Haye vs. John Ruiz.  If Vitali is able to win the WBA belt and fulfill the Klitschko goal, I think he will immediately retire.  Until that happens, Vitali is too close to hang up the gloves just yet, especially since he is still the best despite his age.  Even if Vitali retires, I hope that Wladimir Klitschko sticks around for a while since the heavyweight division could use a dominant champion to be the face of the division. 
I have a feeling that the Klitschko brothers will be much more appreciated after they retire than they were when they were active.  The same phenomenon happened to Larry Holmes and Lennox Lewis. 
Ranking Pacquiao Against The Greats
I very much respected Mayweather in the past, I rooted for him every time he fought and made plenty of money when he fought the overblown Juan Manuel Marquez.  Every time I watch him, I choose not to join those people who watch him just because they want him defeated.  I mean, skill wise, he surpassed most of our all time greats which is difficult not to admire.  I considerately accepted his trash talks and unreasonable sentences for a while but his statements about Pacquiao just blew my mind!  I am an avid antagonist for the Pacman (okay, I guess the Pacmaniacs) but calling him “one dimensional” and criticizing his past loses after the Pacquiao’s most brilliant performance of an all time great career (against Miguel Cotto) is stupid and beyond logical mind.  Anyone who doubts Pacquiao is, as Yahoo’s Kevin Iole wrote, “a fool”.
I’m full and done with Mayweather, I think I will be the latest recruit for the “kick Floyd’s ass fans club”.  Can you contact Freddie or Jason to get rid of him ASAP for me?  
I just don’t see how anyone could still consider anybody but Manny Pacquiao the pound-for-pound best boxer alive.  If someone will make a case for Floyd, then the burden of proof is way too difficult. Mayweather has arguably not beaten anyone as formidable as the boxer Pacquiao knocked out in his last fight, Miguel Cotto.  Cotto was in most people’s pound-for-pound top-10, and some, including myself, had him as high as #5.  Mayweather beat a higher-ranked man in his last fight, Juan Manuel Marquez (#2 at the time), but Marquez had to move up two weight classes to do it, and everyone knew he was past his prime and wasn’t going to be the same fighter at 144 pounds.  Pacquiao, meanwhile, was the one moving up in weight, and he knocked out Cotto, something Mayweather couldn’t do to Marquez.
Who do you think is the Fighter of the Decade?  Certainly, Pacquiao has to be considered the greatest Asian fighter ever.  I don’t think it’s even close.  Fighting Harada? “Flash” Elorde?
Here we go again; Pacmaniacs are claiming that Pacquaio is the greatest boxer of all time!  I wonder what Duran fans were thinking after Duran beat Sugar?  The point is; it is easy to say that Pacquiao is the greatest because they have not seen and followed the career of Henry Armstrong, Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran and Muhammad Ali.
Brian, was Pacquiao better than Julio Cesar Chavez, #24 (ESPN list), after beating Hatton?  I think so. Is he better after beating Cotto than George Foreman, #20?  I think so there, too.  Is he better than Gene Tunney, #16?  Now it’s getting harder.  The reason is no fault of Pacquiao’s own: At a certain point, the level of competition available now isn’t as accomplished as it was even a couple decades ago.  Don’t get me wrong, Pacquiao has beaten any number of excellent fighters.  Barrera, Hatton, Marquez, Morales and De La Hoya are all sure-fire hall of famers, and Cotto might get in, too.  But if you were making a top 50 all-time list today, De La Hoya might not be on it, Hatton wouldn’t, Cotto wouldn’t and Barrera, Morales and Marquez would be near the bottom of it.
Let’s just stick with Tunney for a second, for comparison’s sake.  He beat Jack Dempsey, who is #9 on ESPN’s list; he beat Harry Greb, who is #13.  Let’s take Leonard, who is just outside ESPN’s top 10.  Some of Leonard’s weight-spanning and Fighter of the Year-style accomplishments are comparable to Pacquiao’s, although not as impressive.  He was Fighter of the Year twice, Fighter of the Decade in the 1980s.  He won titles in five divisions, from welterweight to light heavyweight, two of them lineal.  Where Leonard eclipses Pacquiao, I think, is that the best men he beat were better than the best men Pacquiao beat, and by a long shot.  Leonard beat Tommy Hearns, #37 on ESPN’s list; Marvin Hagler, #35 on ESPN’s list; and Roberto Duran, #6 on ESPN’s list.  I got most of this information from another writer and even a casual fan can understand the preceding points that no matter what, Pacquaio cannot be considered no. 1 all time.  And I guess it is unfair to rank him early considering he is still capable for future achievements.  I want to hear your take on this. I hope you consider the grammar and its length.
Thank you Brian, I enjoy your mailbag very much!!!

That was a loaded email my friend so there is a lot to respond to! 
Your first point about Floyd Mayweather, and his trash talk, is right on.  The days where one could call Pacquiao a one-dimensional fighter are long gone.  He has transformed himself into a complete boxer-puncher.  Floyd is insecure that his status as his generation’s greatest fighter is challenged.  I’ve seen an interview where he said that he thought Pacquiao was the second best pound for pound boxer in the world other than himself, so he obviously thinks highly of Manny.  He is talking trash because that is what he does and what he knows. 
Pacquiao is clearly the number 1 pound for pound boxer in the world.  That rank was definitively established for him even before the win over Miguel Cotto.  The argument for having Mayweather as the #1 pound for pound ahead of Pacquiao is not just flimsy, it is wrong.  Pound for pound lists are a “what have you done for me lately” kind of list and Pacquiao recent resume easily trumps Floyd’s.  Mayweather’s quality of opposition since moving up to junior welterweight and beyond has been less than what fans expect from a potentially all time great fighter. 
I would also have Manny as the fighter of the decade because he has come the closest to the upper echelon of all time greats than any of his peers during 2000-2010. 
Regarding your final points, ranking Manny Pacquiao against ESPN’s top 50 list, first let me start by saying that ESPN’s list is garbage.  They rank Jack Dempsey #9?  I don’t even know if I put Dempsey in the top 10 all time heavyweights, let alone top 10 of all boxers ever.  If you are ranking Dempsey that high you are ranking him based on his popularity and not his accomplishments.  And if you are ranking fighters based on popularity you might as well have Mike Tyson and Oscar De La Hoya in the top 10 as well.  Throw in Floyd Patterson in the top 20 while you’re at it. 
So where do I think Pacquiao should rank right now against the all time greats?  I have touched on this point in previous mailbags but I have Manny in the top 20 right now.  That means that he is right along side the Gene Tunney, Ezzard Charles, and Salvador Sanchez’s of the past.  His quality of opposition spanning several different weight classes is an amazing accomplishment.  He still is not done with his career either so his ranking could increase with more big wins. 
I never thought that I would see the day that a modern boxer, in an era of fight ducking and just two fights per year, would come close to the top 10 of all time, but Pacquiao has broken the mold of a modern boxer. 
Two Cents On Not-So-Current Events
What’s up?  Just thought I’d put my 2 cents worth in again.  For starters I’d have to say that I hate Floyd Mayweather’s fighting style almost as much as his mouth and hope Manny whoops him if the fight even happens.  There are not too many pure boxing fans that appreciate his defensive nature and just do enough to win style.  For the money he makes he should be more concerned about entertaining the fans and making more fans if he was exciting. Without the fans he would be nobody.  I think most people only watch him  to hopefully see him get beat.  Most people could care less if he’s undefeated.  They want to see a fight.
I’ve become a lot more of an MMA fan than I used to be just because they do like to fight.  Hardly any of them are undefeated and nobody cares because they almost always put on a show.  I can turn on WEC and watch a fight with guys I’ve never heard of and see a damn good fight often.  For some reason that just doesn’t seem to happen in boxing. 
Another thing I’d like to mention is I think people are overreacting to Manny’s stepping up in weight classes.  As far as I know Manny started out at 106 lbs at 16 years of age.  He was just a boy then.  I’m 40 years old now and have been lifting weights on and off since I was 12.  I’m not quite as lean as I was at 19 but I’m a lot bigger at the same weight.  Muscle and Fitness magazine calls it muscle maturity.  Maybe that could be the case with Manny. 
Anyways, on the other hand, I do not understand why so many people are so confident Manny is not on something.  Have they not noticed all the other rich and important and trusting figures that get caught in lies or break the law everyday (Tiger Woods for example)?  It seems that nobody can be trusted 100%.  It does seem kind of strange that he won’t do whatever it takes to shut the Mayweathers up and clear his name.  Allegedly not liking needles doesn’t seem to make much sense when he does have tattoos.  Just curious what your thoughts are.  One more thing.  It was impressive Manny beating Cotto but it seems to me Cotto’s power was overrated a bit.  Who was Cotto knocking out recently to show it?  I can’t think of anyone.  Also, if a couple of his fights (Mosely for one) were a couple more rounds he (Cotto) probably would have been KO’ed too, mainly from fatigue.  Thanks.

I agree with your take regarding Mayweather being a boring fighter.  The guy seems to not even think that anything is wrong when the entire arena is booing him. 

Cotto was a very strong fighter and had good punching power, but was known more for his physical strength than his power.  He wore fighters down over the course of a fight instead of knocking them out with one punch.  I can’t knock Cotto at all and don’t think he was overrated one bit.  His combination of skill and strength is extremely rare. 

I don’t really know what to think about Pacquiao’s alleged fear of needles.  I do think that giving blood two days before the fight could potentially affect your performance so I can see why he would object there.  However giving blood a week before the fight seems okay, and two weeks before would allow for even more recovery time.  What has he got to lose?  I am not 100% sure that Pacquiao is steroid free, as I can say that same thing about Mayweather or any other person.  However I personally do not think he is a cheater. 
Pacman Lawsuit

You said that Little Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya had been very careful with their words after all this time, and that makes them not guilty right?  Well, I think you missed some events that happened there Mr. boy wonder.

Maybe you don’t know anything or haven’t read anything about Oscar’s blog’s on his Ring Magazine column.  Wait, you didn’t?  Ah ok!  That makes sense, so don’t argue!  And what about Mayweather being very vocal about the Philippines having or making the best ped’s ever?  Have you read about that?  Naah!  I think you didn’t!  Becasue if those comments were made and they wouldn’t incriminate someone, i don’t really know what will!
Don’t be ignorant, you say that they were careful, so they’re innocent.  But what about Pacman?  You seem to acknowledge that he is guilty already.  For what?  For not having the test?  Or for not buying Mayweather’s bluff?  Think real hard Mr. boy wonder because maybe, or just maybe your brain might be on to something!
-Oliver Bono
I have talked about De La Hoya’s blog and Mayweather’s interview several times in previous mailbags.  Trying doing a little bit of research or background check before assuming or calling names.  You will look like less of a fool. 
Of course I’ve read Oscar De La Hoya’s Ring Magazine blog.  And no, I don’t think that it is actionable.  He essentially asked the question “What is Pacquiao hiding by not taking the drug tests?”.  That is a question that millions others have asked because it is a logical question, not a slanderous one.  Oscar was careful with his words to only pose questions and not accuse. 
And of course I have heard the interview that Floyd had on Sirius XM radio where when asked about Pacquiao he responded by saying “The Philippines has the best enhancement drugs”.  Though this is not quite as harmless as Oscar’s blog, according to the US legal system, Pacquiao has to prove damages and that Floyd was acting maliciously.  The way that Floyd made the statement he was not directly accusing Pacquiao, only making a general statement about the country of the Philippines.  I don’t think this will hold up in court. 
We’ll see when the lawsuit is resolved who is right about whether Pacquiao will win his lawsuit.  Based on how I have seen other cases like this play out in the past I am fairly confident that at the very least, Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Jr. will not be found guilty.  Defamation cases are very difficult to win in the United States. 
Who Beat Bad Chad?
I know most people consider Chad Dawson to be the man to beat at light heavyweight.  I think he is pretty good but not sure if he belongs at the top of the pound for pound rankings.  After seeing that fight he had with Glen Johnson I know he can be beat.  Who do you think is going to eventually give Dawson his first lost? 

That tough first fight with Glen Johnson is a bit misleading I think.  Dawson was coming off of two soft opponents and was probably mentally unprepared as a young fighter to make the transition from scrubs to world class.  As you can see, Dawson fought Johnson’s fight, trying to slug it out with a brawler to very poor results.  In the rematch against Johnson, Dawson boxed and used his advantages, coming away with an easy decision. 
Chad can box from a distance, or mix it up and trade.  Either way, he is going to throw a ton of punches and outlast his opponent with his trademark stamina.  He will do whatever gives him the best chance to win.  As he ages he is maturing into an intelligent, and not just a physically gifted boxer. 
I don’t see anyone in the light heavyweight division or below who I would favor over Chad Dawson right now.  Bernard Hopkins is too old to keep up with Dawson’s work rate.  Perhaps if Tavoris Cloud is able to impress me and decisively beat Glen Johnson then I would entertain Cloud beating Dawson as a possibility.  Maybe a super middleweight could do it.  Say, the winner of the Super Six tournament, or Lucian Bute.  Even though the super middleweight division is much better than the light heavyweight, I don’t like the chances of those guys moving up in weight against Dawson. 
I will end the mailbag here folks.  Come back next time for more mailbag fun.  Until then, send in your emails to be feature next week!

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