Weekend Afterthoughts: Chad Dawson – Antonio Tarver II Revisited; Versus Revived; Manny Pacquiao Figures And Plans Revised; Sugar Ray Leonard Deconstructed; More

tyson_documentary.jpgFor a weekend where the only major televised bout was a wholly unnecessary rematch between light heavyweights Chad Dawson and Antonio Tarver, there sure was a lot of boxing stuff between approximately Friday and Sunday. Like more information on Manny Pacquiao’s plans. Or the sudden reappearance of the Versus network to the boxing game. Or Zab Judah Twittering about his possible next opponent on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez, and that opponent being a surprisingly good one. Or video of Marco Huck’s impressive finishing salvo over the weekend. Oh, and I saw the Tyson documentary Sunday. I have some thoughts on that, too.

  • Dawson-Tarver II. From what I can tell, the reviews on Dawson’s performance in the fight are very mixed, with a majority finding that it sucked. Some people were impressed, many were not. One person who thought it sucked was someone whose opinion matters a good deal, Dawson promoter Gary Shaw. “I thought Chad was in a defensive posture when he needed to be in an offensive posture,” Shaw said. “I didn’t think he was throwing enough jabs and I didn’t think he was throwing enough uppercuts. That’s what I said the first time I went over. The second time, I told him he needed to box. It didn’t make sense. He needed to box and turn the fighter.” And: “I don’t [expletive] my fighter and his trainers,” Shaw said. “This stuff where he was crouching down and going side to side, that’s crazy [expletive]. It’s OK if you’re a 130-pounder, but you’re a light heavyweight. You have to take the fight to him. You have to do it even for TV, to be a fan-friendly fighter.” And: “I have a lot of respect for Pernell Whitaker, but to be honest with you, I have so much respect for Pernell Whitaker, but I’m not sure TV would buy him in 2009. When he did that crouching [stuff], he made himself so small, he made himself a target and Tarver can still punch.” That doesn’t strike me as conflicting advice or anything. Take the fight to him, be a fan-friendly fighter, but box? I guess you can do both. I rewatched the 4th round where Dawson hurt Tarver, and I have to say, I don’t think he was very badly hurt. He was swinging back at Dawson within seconds, and that justifiably made Dawson cautious. Also, Dawson said he was a little sick. So be it.
  • Next for Dawson. As much as I’m in the pro-Dawson camp, it certainly doesn’t sound very brave of Dawson to say, as HBO’s broadcast team said he did during pre-fight boxer meetings, that he wouldn’t fight Glen Johnson again unless he had to. After the fight, though, Dawson said he would fight anyone HBO wants him to. I think HBO should take that cue and make the fight happen. It’s as good a rematch as there is in the sport now, since the first was an excellent fight with a controversial decision. The thing is, unjust though it might be, Johnson just doesn’t fill seats and consequently he is the definition of high risk/low reward. Ironically, that’s the very position Dawson finds himself in as he chases bouts with Joe Calzaghe and Bernard Hopkins.
  • PunchZone. Yes, HBO, we like PunchZone. Or I do, anyway. Honestly, the way they keep calling attention to it and asking people for feedback in various HBO locales, you’d think Ross Greenburg’s kid designed it or something. Ultimately, though, I can’t wait to see the zone near the crotch filled with anything other than zero. Come on, HBO boxers. Let’s get some ball-punching in there to give the guy in charge of the ball-punching zone of PunchZone a little work.
  • Pacquiao’s plans. Freddie Roach, the trainer of pound-for-pound king and new junior welterweight champion Pacquiao, gave all kinds of thoughts to Ring’s website about what’s next for Manny. I’ll summarize. A. Roach wants an interim fight to keep him sharp for whomever he ends up with in December. Roach considers Edwin Valero too dangerous for a tune up, and Timothy Bradley is another possibility. I support the tune-up idea. The opponent in that scenario matters very little, but Bradley, as a quick-fisted boxer, might be the smartest opponent to prepare for Mayweather. B. It won’t be Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. Roach rightly considers the idea hilarious. C. Roach clearly has mixed feelings about a Mayweather fight. In one sentence, he speaks about not wanting to “blow” a Mayweather fight by potentially losing a tune-up. In the next breath, he says he doesn’t like the Pacquiao-Mayweather match-up and that he hopes Mayweather loses against Marquez or prices himself out of the fight. Since Mayweather is saying he wants a 60-40 split, I’d ay he’s well on his way to overpricing himself. A 60-40 split for Pacquiao makes more sense to me. D. Roach says he wants Marquez to win also because he thinks Pacquiao would knock him out in three rounds, with all the improvement he’s shown. He says he doesn’t like the Mayweather match-up because Pacquiao struggles with counterpunchers, but, like, what is Marquez? E. Roach likes Shane Mosley or Miguel Cotto at a catchweight below 147 pounds, too.
  • Sugar Ray Leonard sucked. Newsday had a forum on the question of whether Pacquiao is an all-time great after destroying Hatton, and while I think that anyone who disagrees with my view that he’s cracked the all-time top 25 can make good arguments against it, there was some disingenuous crap from some of the people they talked to. Mike Silver called Hatton an “ordinary club fighter” who “has the skills of a six-round preliminary fighter.” This crap drives me crazy. Hatton is going to be in the Hall of Fame, I guarantee it. There’s a credible argument that he’s one of the 10 best junior welterweight champions ever, and Cliff Rold, who makes that argument, is not prone to exaggeration or hyping modern fighters over older ones. Silver also makes excuses for why some of Pacquiao’s other wins are no good, like Oscar De La Hoya being dehydrated. Others have said Pacquiao went life and death twice with Juan Manuel Marquez and therefore that proves he isn’t very good, when my answer is that Marquez is one of the 10 best Mexican fighters ever, and there isn’t a soul alive who has managed better than “life or death” against Marquez. But as I’ve said before, you can play this game with anyone who boxes. Let’s play it with Sugar Ray Leonard, whom Silver does speak highly of. We’ll go by how he fared against the best opponents of his career. Wilfred Benitez: Only trained a week for Leonard. Clearly, he wasn’t prepared properly, so that win means nothing. Roberto Duran: Duran actually beat Leonard when he was in his prime, and after, he was no good anymore. Leonard deliberately took a rematch with Duran quickly knowing that Duran liked to party between fights and wouldn’t be in top shape for his next fight. Duran tried to gain a weight advantage after the weigh-in by eating steak and orange juice, and ended up with diarrhea. And besides, he was a freaking quitter. Thomas Hearns: Hearns lost every big fight he was in, so how good was he, really? Besides, everyone knows — even Leonard acknowledges — that Hearns deserved the decision in the rematch. Marvin Hagler: Again, Leonard didn’t deserve to win this fight. Hagler won it, it’s just that the judges didn’t recognize the truth…. I think you get the idea. You know what my feeling is on this? If a fighter wins one fight against a compromised opponent, then maybe you can say it’s a fluke. But Pacquiao — like Leonard, although I’m not saying Pacquiao is very near Leonard at this point — has won too many fights against too many good opponents for this to all be a fucking coincidence.
  • Other Pacquiao-Hatton tidbits. In this piece, Bob Arum says he is concerned about Pacquiao’s finances (rightly) and seemingly downgrades the number of buys Pacquiao-Hatton might have done — saying “north of 900,000” in the U.S. as opposed to between 1.6 and 2 million. That’s a pretty significant downgrade, and if it doesn’t do more than a million in the U.S. and does do more than a million in the U.K., then it would make many of the central propositions of this item I wrote false. In this piece, another Pacquiao adviser weighs in on a Mayweather fight. I admit that I don’t like some of the rhetoric coming out of Pacquiao’s team these days. Unless it’s some kind of game designed to mess with Mayweather, it sounds like they’re kinda looking for an excuse not to fight him, and it’s not size — it’s that they think they might lose, and that doesn’t strike me as in keeping with most of Pacquiao’s behavior (although I thought that was a problem with a Marquez trilogy last year). Time magazine wants to do a profile of Pacquiao before his next fight. Hatton’s former trainer Billy Graham says he should retire, and goes into great detail about Hatton’s physical condition. Floyd Mayweather, Sr. tries to justify not being at Hatton’s side at any point after the knockout, really, and isn’t very convincing.
  • Versus returns. I guess they were just hibernating over at Versus so they could put together their special new boxing program, a Golden Boy prospect-oriented show that begins airing June 11. It’ll be called “Fight Night Club,” as a tribute to club shows, but it’ll be based across the street from the Staples Center at Club Nokia. The same show will broadcast on RingTV.com and Yahoo! Boxing. I’m glad to see Versus getting back into the game in general, but count me skeptical that a deal with one promoter will result in good programming; just look at Versus’ deal with Top Rank and all the crappy cards they broadcast while that deal was in place.
  • Tyson documentary. I saw it on Sunday, and it certainly is engrossing, I’ll give it that. Mike Tyson is such an interesting figure. He can be so brutally accurate in summing up who he is and why, then completely lacking in introspection when he says things like what he said about Desiree Washington: “I may have took advantage of women before, but I never took advantage of her.” I was somewhat uncomfortable with some of his unanswered attacks on Washington and others; I understand, as with Joe Frazier in “Thrilla in Manila,” that this was Tyson in Tyson’s words, but I complained then as I do now that perhaps some kind of answer could be given to key points raised. I understand that the idea was to keep the movie all in Tyson’s voice, but filmmaker James Toback did feature people talking about Tyson in archival footage at times. Couldn’t there be some clip of one of Washington’s lawyers in the archive somewhere that they could at least have that voice in their somehow? I hate the idea of someone coming away with the sense that Tyson’s version is the unchallenged truth, although maybe I should put faith in viewers who will understand that Tyson is the definition of the unreliable narrator. I do recommend the film, because Tyson is fascinating beyond belief. But beforehand, I was kind of hoping for the redemption of Tyson through this film, or at least some hint that he would be at peace, and I’ve suggested before I like the idea of Mike as a broadcaster. It’s not in there. Tyson himself realizes he’s unstable mentally, even if he doesn’t recognize the exact way in which he isn’t. Until he can stabilize — and if he can’t, aren’t biochemicals to blame a good deal? — it’s going to be hard for anyone to want to give him a job in the sport. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Also, thanks to him, I’m going to say “skullduggery” a lot more.
  • Round And Round. 1. The Pinoy-oriented boxing show in San Francisco, conceived after Pacquiao was so warmly received in the city when he threw out the first pitch at a Giants game, looks to be not just a flight of fancy. On August 22, Nonito Donaire would fight Jose Lopez at junior bantamweight, and junior flyweight Brian Viloria, among others, also would be on the card. The more boxing hotbeds the better; the quicker Donaire returns to the ring, the better. 2. Junior welterweight Zab Judah, who’s stunk up a few undercards, said on his Twitter page he’d be fighting Randall Bailey on the July 18 Mayweather-Marquez pay-per-view. I really like this fight. I suppose Judah could find a way to stink this one out, but Bailey is one of the sport’s top knockout punchers, and Judah hits pretty hard himself. If there are any exchanges at all, watch out. 3. Bantamweight Cristian Mijares’ rematch with Nehomar Cermeno will happen in July or August, now. I don’t think I care very much.
  • Alabama commission. Alabama will finally have a boxing commission, thanks to an assist from local heavyweight Deontay Wilder and former pound-for-pound king Roy Jones, Jr.
  • Other weekend results. Besides Dawson-Tarver II, cruiserweight Marco Huck and light heavyweight Beibut Shumenov scored knockouts and Hector Camacho and Yory Boy Campas fought to an ugly, elderly hug-filled draw. Pretty good finishing assault by Huck below in the 5th, against an opponent who put up a fight. Seriously, let’s get Huck and Shumenov some U.S. television dates.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.