Hi readers and boxing fans. I’m very happy that you have chosen this website and my column to read and discuss the hot topics in the fighting world. I always welcome you to email me and chime in.
In last week’s mailbag I foreshadowed the passing of the deadline for the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, JR., which was half a correct prediction and half a rant of despair and hopelessness. Now that the ultimate super fight will not happen in the foreseeable future, we are left to sift through the ashes of what could have been. Bob Arum didn’t rule out the fight completely, saying “there’s always next year”. Reading the mail I have received so far, my readers are mostly pessimistic. Those who threatened to walk away from boxing if the fight did not happen are not at ease or satisfied with a “maybe next year”.
A few notable fights happened over the weekend. Top notch champions Timothy Bradley and Fernando Montiel continued their red-hot streaks, doing what they were supposed to do with over-matched, yet decent competition. Also, David Tua’s comeback hit a speed bump. We talk more on that in this week’s first email, along with some thoughts on the state of affairs that boxing is in.
Boxing Needs An Adrenaline Shot
I can’t think of a worse time for boxing than right now! It’s a sad state of affairs. I’ve always been a hardcore boxing fan, even refusing to watch MMA (on the basis that I liked it better when it was boxer vs. judo, karate vs. man who created his own style). Now I, through no fault of my own, am starting to like MMA a lot, even though now everybody is pretty much all around fighters. I guess it is the match making and the fact that there are just 3-5 rounds. That makes the event so good.
Another thing that I also love to watch is kickboxing tournaments called K-1, which is also three rounds with good match making and action (and if it’s a bad fight, doesn’t matter as much because it’s just three rounds).
I guess boxing fans will just have to watch these other sports more, while we wait for the next big thing. There is no reason to be overly depressed over this, boxing will come back, it always does.
What do you think of David Tua’s comeback? Is he going to get a title shot? I remember when I was seeing him on undercards when he was an up and comer. I always thought of him as an entertaining B-version of Tyson.
Shannon Briggs vs. Vitali Klitschko.
Will this make Americans excited? I saw that was one of the reason this could possibly happen. I would actually like to see the version of Briggs that faced Lennox Lewis face the Klitschko brothers. Even though I think this could be a complete mismatch because of Briggs’ age, stamina and new bulkier frame. Some part of me still want’s to see this fight.
James Toney vs. Randy
How do you se this fight going? It’s really hard to imagine James Toney in MMA. He’s definatly the underdog based on the fact is on not in is confort zone. I’m actually curious to see him fight, something tells my he can do more than just box. I still think Randy will nullify him with wrestling and win by submission.
I really enjoy K-1 events too. Opening up the body for kicks adds another dimension, usually making for action-packed fights since defending both punches and kicks is nearly impossible. Also, in K-1, the entire match is stand-up, so no wrestling on the ground, which is what I don’t like about MMA.
Due to marketing cleverness, MMA is the sport that took off here recently instead of kickboxing. You have to respect what the UFC has done in making an appealing product and establishing their name brand. The main key was continually putting on the matches that fans want to see. Inversely, not putting on those matches is one of the ways that boxing shoots itself in the foot.
David Tua’s comeback was impeded, but probably not over with his tough draw against Monte Barrett on Saturday. Despite not getting the win in a fight that Tua was supposed to dominate, I don’t have scathing reviews for the Tuaman. He looked to be in terrific shape, throwing combinations, and turning over his punches.
Unfortunately for him, he ran into a determined Monte Barrett. Barrett is five years removed from being a legitimate top ten contender and title challenger. Against Tua, Barrett turned back the clock to 2005 prime form instead of the disinterested recent version of Monte who seemed to mail it in against Nikolay Valuev and Odlanier Solis.
Tua still has a realistic shot at securing a title shot at some point in the next couple years if he keeps working hard and fighting. This is a shallow era of heavyweight talent so there is not a whole lot to compete with. However this struggle against Barrett should awaken his delusional fans into realizing that he has no realistic shot to defeat the Klitschko brothers.
By the way, I like your analogy of Tua being a B-version of Tyson. I’ve said a couple times in my mailbag that Tua is a poor man’s Tyson and Sam Peter is a poor man’s Tua, which goes to show how the talent level is regressing with each generation.
Shannon Briggs vs. Vitali Klitschko – Briggs is a strong dude who hits hard, but at his age, and with his asthma, he is only a three round fighter. And unfortunately for Shannon, Vitali has a chin, making it that much harder to cash in on a puncher’s chance. I see the older Klitschko handling Briggs fairly easily. A win for the American would be a stunning upset.
James Toney vs. Randy Couture – You have to respect the man who has been fighting under MMA rules against someone who has not. Toney seems to be a born fighter so if he had years of MMA experience I would consider picking him. But a novice against a seasoned legendary champ? No contest. Couture gets the fight on the ground and uses his wrestling to score a submission. Toney’s only chance is turning this into a slugfest. Good luck with that James!
Hope For Pacquiao vs. Mayweather
I believe that the fight (Pacquiao vs. Mayweather) will happen. To be fair to Mayweather, I’d like to see the following asked to all fans, particularly those of Manny:
If Roach’s availability for a November fight in the most important fight to the sport and his career, should Manny take the fight anyway? Because that is the reason the fight will likely not happen in November. But it will happen. Arum, in my opinion, is the primary cause for it not happening. I fail to see the necessity for such an early deadline except for a couple of facts: One, that he wants to milk Manny for all he’s worth before risking making him look somewhat ordinary. The best way to do that is to have Manny fight other Top Rank opponents. Two, he just plain doesn’t want the fight…..yet. What other explanation is there for him to be the only one talking at this stage?
That fight will happen. If not November, it will be in May. The only problem is how long before people question the validity of the fight itself? Floyd will be 35 after all. And how long before all the damage Manny as accumulated becomes apparent?
I agree the fact it hasn’t already been made is deplorable. But I believe both camps share equal blame and in the end, Money will do the talking.
But even if it doesn’t happen, it’s not the death of boxing. Merely a lull. Similar to the post-Leonard to pre-Tyson period. Boxing will be back. And the best young fighters will be in full bloom in the next couple years.
First off, thanks for the email and adding your two cents. You make a good point. Floyd Mayweather is unsure about his uncle and longtime trainer, Roger Mayweather’s availability due to legal troubles. If Freddie Roach were not there for Pacquiao he would be hesitant to take on the biggest challenge of his life too. Perhaps Floyd’s idea is to let this opportunity slip away and shoot for a 2011 bout so that he is sure that his uncle will be by his side to train him. Although, if you are Floyd Mayweather, you already know what to do. I think Pacquiao relies on his trainer much more that Floyd does.
I commend Bob Arum for keeping Pacquiao busy and making hard deadlines for fights. Having the big name boxers sitting around for months or years at a time is one of the many factors that are killing the sport. Making the deadline to sign the bout, giving Mayweather a full month to decide is more than enough. Why should the entire boxing world be put on hold so that Floyd can take his sweet time. Shit or get off the pot! Why would Arum send in an agreed upon offer if he didn’t want to make the fight now? The leak about the fight being made was because Top Rank agreed to Floyd’s terms and sent the contract back to him. Everyone assumed that the negotiations were finally over. The reason that Mayweather has cold feet is a mystery. We can only speculate about his uncle Roger. Hopefully he will shed some light on the matter after the deadline passes.
This fight should have happened last year. If it happens soon I don’t think it is too late. But a fighter’s prime is very short. Mayweather and Pacquiao both are in their primes and the top of their careers, or at least it appears they still are. But will that be true next year? I can’t say, but you might be right. 35 is very old for a prizefighter to be at the peak of his game.
No, this will not be the death of boxing, but will it be severely crippled? Perhaps. The main media sports outlets are already warming up to MMA. UFC results routinely get front page coverage on Yahoo and ESPN. Back in the 80’s after Leonard, boxing did not have to compete with an emerging new fighting sport. So many are fed up with boxing, unless the problems are solved (such as the fights that NEED to be made are made), boxing becomes more a niche sport by the year.
Lower Weight Tournaments
Though I rarely send questions to your mailbag, I read it every week
without a miss.
I was thinking on what would be your take and whom would be your favorite to win if ever a tournament of featherweights would be made – Juanma Lopez, Celestino Caballero, Juan Manuel Marquez, Chris John, and Yuriorkis Gamboa? Any fights would be awesome.
Also for these boxers at bantamweight – Nonito Donaire, Fernando Montiel, Jorge Arce, and Vic Darchinyan?
And also for the 140 pounders – Amir Khan, Devon Alexander, Tim
Bradley, Marcos Maidana, and Juan Manuel Marquez (if ever he’ll be
Thanks and more power to your mailbag.
Thank you for being a loyal reader of my column.
These are the kinds of fight tournaments that would bring back fans to boxing. People want to see the best fighters fight each other. They want to see real champions being tested to their limits. The Super Six tournament is a model that should be followed with each weight class. Only then will boxing have hope of a consistent following instead of boom and bust years, sometimes waiting years for the “next big thing”. Here is to imagining a perfect world where these tournaments take place.
Featherweight – I will say that Juan Manuel Marquez is too heavy to go back down to featherweight at this point in his career so I will only consider Caballero, Juanma, Chris John, and Yuriorkis Gamboa. Due to styles, I would pick Celestino and Gamboa to cruise past John fairly easily. Caballero because of his height, reach, and shart shooting, and Gamboa because of his borderline reckless attack since John does not have the power to keep him honest. Juanma would squeak by John with a decision win (unless the fight happens in Indonesia). Overall I would pick Juanma to win three really tough fights to win the division. The final would be Lopez vs. Gamboa, with Lopez dropping Gamboa with a counter punch, exposing Yuriorkis’s shoddy defense.
Bantamweight – The one person I discount from the group is Jorge Arce because I think he is past his prime and too far gone to compete in an elite tournament. The other three are too close to call. Nonito Donaire would be an ever slight favorite in my book. Montiel is on a roll as of late and has the talent necessary to win. Vic Darchinyan’s loss to Donaire may have been a fluke. He is the dangerous dark horse here, with his raw power combined with awkwardness.
Junior Welterweight – Amir Khan is a fast, skilled boxer, but I don’t think he can hang with a similarly skilled peer with a big punch. He will fold under the pressure. Of course, I also thought that about Andre Ward in the Super Six so I could be wrong. Maidana and Alexander are quality young fighters but I’ll pick the always conditioned, consistent, and well-rounded Timothy Bradley to win this tournament. The guy is a stud in his prime. Of course, I also thought that about Juan Diaz a couple years ago so, again, I could be wrong.
Judging Fedor and Losing Interest In The Fight Game
I will reserve judgment with Fedor Emelianenko’s condition for now. It could be just the all-time sickness of carelessness, overconfidence, and lost zeal. It’s pretty hard to keep your passion with what you’re doing if you’re accomplishing it with relative ease at almost all the time. He was already entertaining the thought of retirement before he even fought Fabricio Werdum. It’s possible that he looked past him.
I’ll confess, I didn’t watch this fight, which is a bit embarrassing considering just a couple of years ago all the way back to the first UFC and K-1, including the birth of PRIDE, even the lesser known organizations in Greece, Thailand, Holland… hell I even watched with fervor the half-real-half-scripted fighting of pancrase Japan where Bas Ruten and the Shamrock brothers were a huge part of. Yup I saw all the circus fights too. Bob Sapp vs. The Big Show? Bob Sapp vs. Akibono? And my personal favorite, Bob Sapp vs. Jerome Le Banner? I was a real fight junkie but I am beginning to lose it and it scares me that this might lead to an interest in ballroom dancing and ballet.
Speaking of which, did you know Frank Shamrock took ballet lessons to make his movements lithe? Alas, Frank is yet another wasted talent who didn’t take advantage of his potential when he had the chance for fighting tomato cans and talking big along the way. But Brian, I think I will need to seek mental help soon. My interest in the fight-game is waning. Got any advice? I hear Dr. Phil is good but I might hurt his pride if I say “no.” Dr. Phil’s podium is surrounded by yes-men. Can you imagine his shock if I say NO to his face? Anyway…
I didn’t watch the Fedor vs. Werdum fight because I thought, like many others did, Fedor fighting Werdum was just a formality and he would win easy. I only learned that Fedor lost when you insisted that he has unfinished business with Werdum. It’s exactly as I feared for him when he signed on to Strikeforce. He should’ve been fighting in the UFC.
The Strikeforce heavyweight pool is on par with the UFC but it cannot provide him with the kind of exposure his stellar career needs at this point. Out of all the MMA fighters out there, Fedor deserves the recognition the most. Already he is being branded as overrated by people who weren’t around when he was dominating the best of a decade. Fedor was essentially the longest-reigning champion in the sport.
By all rights, Werdum should be seen as the new champion but all people see now is the holder of the UFC heavyweight title. It’s all twisted really. Fedor should be recognized, writing off his legacy is ill-deserved. The only way Fedor can regain his top status is to beat Werdum and any of the top 3 UFC heavyweights… blah blah… I have more to say but — The End.
I agree that Fabricio Werdum should be universally recognized Heavyweight Champion after his shocking win over Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor was clearly the man to beat in the division no matter what Dana White wants you to believe.
Unfortunately for Fedor, his sole loss came at a time when he was finally starting to gain notoriety in America. The public is not very familiar with his impressive career accomplishments and therefore many hail Brock Lesnar as the champion. That is wrong but I know Dana White loves every second.
Regarding your waning interest, I would try to give you advice on how to maintain your fight junkie mentality, but I am going through the same rut. If you read the intro to my mailbag last week you would have probably seen that coming. With the dissolving of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight there is seemingly nothing worth watching anymore.
Boxing is potentially set up for one of the biggest lulls it has ever experienced. I can’t see anyone out there, now that Pacquiao and Mayweather aren’t fighting, who can grab the sport by its balls and force the world to care and pay attention. Sure, there is some young talent (Timothy Bradley, Juanma Lopez, Nonito Donaire, Chad Dawson, etc.) but those guys don’t capture the imagination of the public.
Mayweather and Pacquiao not fighting is the equivalent of a major sport like baseball or football going on strike for a year. The fans stop caring when these things happen and it takes years or decades to recover.
My concerns about boxing and the fight game come from the reactions of guys like you and me. We are die hard, borderline psychotic fight fans. We live for watching fights. Yet the recent activities, politics, money struggles, and lack of compelling fights, even the most die hard followers of boxing and MMA (like you and me) are jaded to the point where we are contemplating walking away. The fight game is in a sad state of affairs. Boxing, the greatest sport, is fading fast and the cause has nothing to do with the sport itself and everything to do with how the sport is run.
I’ll end here folks. Come back next time for more mailbag fun and heated discussion.