I got the main gist of what I wanted to say into yesterday’s post, but there are, as the headline suggests, a few other topics to discuss in greater depth about the Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez pay-per-view. Like what to make of Shane Mosley’s antics during the post-fight interview and Mayweather’s expressed devotion therein to Reebok (at right) and God (below). And the nature of fanaticism. And where Mayweather does deserve some credit, my criticism aside. And where Marquez places the blame for his loss, and his role in this spectacle, and on the nature of the beating he took. And news about Kelly Pavlik-Paul Williams, Jorge Linares and Arturo Gatti. And on some other fights over the weekend that warrant a little attention, on Showtime, ESPN2 and in Germany.
- Next for Mayweather. There really are only three acceptable fights for Mayweather next: Shane Mosley; Paul Williams; the winner of Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto on Nov. 13. Another smaller opponent just isn’t satisfactory, no matter how good. Mosley and Williams are both top welterweights, albeit, in Williams’ case, a weight-hopping one. Mosley has a combination of physical strength and speed unlike any Mayweather has encountered, even at age 38, and he’s an aggressive boxer-puncher who still resides in the pound-for-pound top-5. Mosley has a tentative agreement to fight Andre Berto Jan. 30 unless Mayweather wants him next. Williams evidently has plans at middleweight, which we’ll get to in a moment, but he has a work rate, size, style and his own pound-for-pound ranking to bring to bear. The winner of Pacquiao-Cotto is most interesting to me. Pacquiao has been the pound-for-pound king in Mayweather’s absence, and I give him the best shot of anyone of beating Mayweather because of his tremendous quickness, which rivals or perhaps even surpasses Mayweather’s. If Pacquiao beats Cotto, he’ll prove he can hang with a real welterweight, as opposed to the compromised Oscar De La Hoya he beat — and while some have said Mayweather’s drubbing of close rival Pacquiao’s close rival Marquez suggests Pacquiao would be in for trouble, Pacquiao is much-improved since the last Marquez fight and Marquez diminished. If he beats Cotto, Pacquiao will also be proven at the weight in a way Marquez never was. Cotto is the man who posed the biggest threat to Mayweather before his two-year retirement, by virtue of his Jose Luis Castillo-like qualities, and if he beats Pacquiao, there will be fewer questions about whether he’s a damaged fighter as a result of the Antonio Margarito loss, questions that persist to this day. If Mayweather fights anyone other than those three, he’ll be continuing his pattern, since 2003, of not fighting any of the best available opponents in his division, and I’ll heap boos down upon his head. If he does, though, you’ll hear me saying, “Finally.” Mayweather hasn’t said which if any of these men he might fight next, and said he’ll be talking to his advisers over the next couple weeks. (One asterisk — if any of these people look absolutely atrocious in their next fights, THEN Mayweather picks them, his motives should be suspect.)
- Next for Marquez. It’s been clear for a while that Marquez is slowing down. But the 36-year-old might have another couple top fights in him for another big paycheck or two, albeit at a significantly lower weight. He says he likes the idea of sticking around at junior welterweight, where he could make potentially big-money bouts with Ricky Hatton or, in a rematch, Juan Diaz. Hatton has always wanted to fight Marquez, but Hatton is also flirting with retirement; Hatton might be too big for Marquez, too, but nobody knows how much Hatton has left. Diaz wants another shot at Marquez, and I think that despite the resounding nature of Marquez’ win in the first fight, it was competitive and might be more competitive still at a higher weight, especially post-Mayweather. (Diaz-Hatton is another fight that’s been discussed.) Michael Katsidis is the mandatory challenger to one of Marquez’ lightweight alphabet title belts, which sounds like fun to me, but is it a big enough paycheck for Marquez? If Pacquiao loses to Cotto, Pacquiao-Marquez III still will have some juice, especially at junior welterweight or below, even if I increasingly doubt Marquez’ chances of winning or even coming close against the younger, improved Pacquiao.
- The post-fight interview. Like Mayweather, I found Mosley interrupting Mayweather’s post-fight interview to demand a fight to be in poor taste. I get it, on one level. Mayweather has explained that he picked his last two opponents, Hatton and Marquez, because they “called (him) out.” Well, here’s his call out from Mosley. And Mosley being a class act hasn’t gotten him the big fights he wants, so maybe he’s trying a different tack. Maybe it will work. But it does diminish my admiration for Mosley slightly. And as disrespectful and rude to everyone as Mayweather is — it must be noted that Mayweather hits low every time he mentions Mosley by saying the word “steroids” — that doesn’t justify Mosley doing it, too. I’ve been a defender of HBO’s Max Kellerman, but he let the interview get out of control in too many ways. He also should have tried to ask Mayweather about Pacquiao earlier, as that’s the question on everyone’s mind. One more thing: Mayweather thanked God, and he thanked Reebok, one of his sponsors. What happened to Mayweather’s affiliation with Nike, the top company in that “space,” as they say in advertising and marketing? And what does it say (if anything) about the fact that Pacquiao is sponsored by Nike?
- Where Mayweather deserves credit. So let’s set aside any discussion of the size gap for a moment. We already knew Mayweather was a crazy-talented fighter; seeing him out-talent someone is par for the course. We did learn, I think, that Mayweather suffered no real rust as a result of his long layoff. He looked about the same as he did before he left, even if you factor out the size question. And I wasn’t surprised by Mayweather’s 59 percent power connect rate, according to CompuBox. Mayweather always hits everyone with shocking accuracy, and Marquez got hit with 45 percent of his opponent’s power connects in his last fight, against the significantly less-skilled Diaz, so it stands to reason that Mayweather would do much better than that. I think what was most impressive about Mayweather’s performance is how very little Marquez connected on Mayweather. Marquez is a highly-skilled offensive fighter, but he connected on just 16 percent of his power shots, after averaging 38 percent over the course of his seven fights prior to Diaz, when he connected on 47 percent. That has next to nothing to do with size. How anyone found a round to score for Marquez, I cannot know.
- Marquez’ blame, culpability, beating. Marquez primarily blamed the weight for the loss, which makes some sense. He clearly had to gain weight on purpose for this fight, as opposed to just having to train differently because he walks around at welterweight and usually squeezed down to a lower number. He looked somewhat flabby, and at one point before the fight, one of his crew members was giving him what I could only describe as a titty massage, and said titty looked gooey. Marquez was at his best at featherweight, with a drop off as he moved from junior lightweight to lightweight. Mayweather has fought from 130 to 147, and it’s hard to say he ever looked out of his element, plus he probably was in the mid-150s by the day of the fight after weighing in at 146 on Friday. In other words, Mayweather was probably nearly 30 pounds heavier than Marquez’ ideal weight. Still, as much as it pained me to watch the noble Marquez get whooped by a bigger man, he chose this fight. He asked for it. He accepted the terms before him. He allowed those terms to be changed the week of the fight, even. Maybe he did it out of confidence. Maybe he did it for the paycheck, multi-million dollar paychecks having eluded him thus far in his career. But Marquez isn’t some victim. He chose this, even though trainer Nacho Beristain encouraged him not to. It’s unclear to me how much the prolonged beatdown by a bigger man will affect his career; he never seemed in major trouble aside from the knockdown, but taking 41 shots like he did in the 11th round can’t have been good for him. Referee Tony Weeks asked about stopping it after the 6th, and an official with Golden Boy Promotions according to Kevin Iole on Twitter was asking Marquez’ corner to stop it after the 11th. If this was the fight that effectively ended Marquez’ career, it would
- Pound-for-pound. I haven’t quite decided how Mayweather-Marquez will affect my pound-for-pound rankings. I base those rankings primarily on resume, with an emphasis on recent activity, and as such I’m reluctant to give Mayweather too high a placing as a result of winning what effectively was a tune-up fight after being away from the ring for almost two years. On the other hand, he was my #1 man before he left, and it’s obvious to the eye (a secondary standard) that Mayweather is one of the top fighters in the world. By contrast, I’m reluctant to downgrade Marquez too much for losing a fight that was a really bad experiment. I don’t think I’ll revise my pound-for-pound rankings until after Pacquiao-Cotto, but I think it likely that I’ll have both Mayweather and Marquez in my top five — Marquez on the borderline of it — with Mayweather only having a chance of recapturing the #1 slot depending on what happens with the Pacquiao-Cotto fight.
- Fanatics. There’s a reason the word “fans” derives from the word “fanatics,” and you will see what I mean if you take a stroll through the comments section of my most recent post. Winning over people who follow boxers with what can only be described as a religious fervor isn’t easy, whether they worship Pacquiao or Mayweather or whatever. But I’m an optimist, so if if you’re a reader of this site and you’re turned off by the occasional fanatical invasion, I ask you to bear with me, because as much as I value the people who offer their comments regularly (more than you can ever know), I also want to “reach” people who have different priorities than me, be they non-boxing fans or fans who I think have an unhelpful attitude toward boxing. I think we, as fans, often are indirectly responsible for some of the things that make boxing suck, such as when, in the case of Mayweather and others, we place too much emphasis on undefeated records — a condition that leads fighters to avoid dangerous opponents and thereby rob us of entertainment and drama. To the Mayweather fanatics, and fanatics of every stripe, all I ask is this: Please don’t reflexively leap to the defense of your man every time he’s criticized here. Think about the criticism, evaluate it, and consider whether it’s true. If you decide it isn’t, by all means, argue that point here, but try to do it without calling people “fag” or whatever. It never makes anyone’s arguments more convincing — last night, it even made me return fire, something I try not to do — and only paints you in a bad light. And consider whether you might have a more fulfilling life as a fan if you allow your idols to be human, fallible. I have criticized or doubted nearly every fighter on my list of favorites at some point, and so when they exceed my expectations or correct their behavior, I end up respecting them that much more. I fear that a lot of fans will be in for a crash-and-burn when and if their guy finally does something that makes them realize he isn’t perfect.
- Cornelius Lock-Orlando Cruz. The fight of the night, unexpectedly, was between featherweights Lock and Cruz. I think it goes to show that an 18-4 record isn’t the end of the world, as Lock scored a knockout on a sweet counter right hand in the 5th after a back and forth power punching exhibition. I don’t know where Lock goes from here, and didn’t realize until looking up his BoxRec page that he was already 30, but I’d love to see him in against someone tough on television again. Cruz suffered his first loss, but I actually think I might have liked him a tad more overall. He needs to learn how to deal with counters, a problem throughout the fight, but he hits hard and he’s fun to watch, and he seemed to have some skill that suggests he might be able to tweak his game.
- Michael Katsidis-Vicente Escobedo. This was a good slugfest, too, albeit less so than Lock-Cruz, and Katsidis pulled out the split decision win in the end. It was a difficult fight to score at points, a common phenomenon when a brawler meets a counterpuncher, but I had Escobedo winning three rounds, all of them in the first half of the fight; some scored the fight a total shutout for Katsidis; in the live blog, WF and I rarely had rounds scored the same; I read that the ringside press thought it was close; and if you were going by Katsidis misshapen jaw and cut-mangled face (as regular as that is), you might think Katsidis lost badly. There was some discussion by the HBO team about Katsidis’ defense being improved, but I didn’t notice it much if it was true. He kept his gloves up, but mostly Escobedo just punched between or around them. If anything, he was a bit more polished on offense. Escobedo ought to remain in the lightweight picture because of a pretty good showing, although he himself needs to work on his defense. If Katsidis doesn’t get Marquez next, I’d dig a rematch with Joel Casamayor, or, try this on for size: Jorge Barrios. That’s can’t-miss TV, there.
- Chris John-Rocky Juarez II. There’s nothing even kinda understandable about the scorecard that had John winning by only 114-113 in his rematch against Juarez, a unanimous decision win by wide scores on the other two cards. John, the Ring magazine’s #1 featherweight, was far too slick for the plodding Juarez. John fought better than in the first fight. Juarez fought worse. Juarez did pick it up in the last two rounds, even staggering John at one point near the end of the 12th. There are significant knocks on both men coming out of this fight. Juarez is just woefully inconsistent, and after numerous title tries, I think he has to be confined to gatekeeper status now. He just can’t grasp the idea that he should, you know, throw punches. He has talent and power, but it’s completely wasted on him. John shouldn’t have been going for a knockout in the 12th, the way his corner told him to, and he and his corner share blame for John almost getting himself knocked out for trying to do so. There’s a line of thinking in that camp that to win and be popular in the U.S., John must knock opponents out. Maybe that’s true somewhat, but John isn’t a power puncher. John and his team should settle for just being aggressive and engaging his opponent, which is enough to win me over and should be enough to keep him on HBO. He is poised at some point to take advantage for the influx of featherweight talent and big names, from Israel Vazquez to Juan Manuel Lopez, because if HBO is interested in you, as it is John, you bring cash to the table.
- Kelly Pavlik-Paul Williams. Good catch by WF during the live blog that HBO was advertising that Pavlik-Williams for Pavlik’s middleweight championship would take place on Dec. 5. That fight hasn’t been signed off on officially by Williams’ promoter, that I know, but if HBO is advertising it, it stands to reason it’s one step closer to happening.
- Sebastian Sylvester-Giovanni Lorenzo. I have not been able to watch the entire fight, but this middleweight alphabet title bout, from the highlights and first six rounds available online, looked like a good scrap, one that concluded with Sylvester winning a split decision. Lorenzo’s team has complained that the German crowd influenced the judges, and there were a lot of punches the Dominican Lorenzo blocked that had the crowd going wild. I will say that based on what I’ve seen, Lorenzo gave a good account of himself and looked like a better fighter than the lost, immature boxer who got out-toughed by Raul Marquez. Even if he doesn’t get the rematch he wants, I think he’s earned another shot at a big fight. I’m not sure where Sylvester goes next, if not to a rematch. The middleweight division is a wasteland, but you can make a pretty good living fighting nobodies ove
r in Germany. Sylvester’s not a bad fighter his damn self, though, so hopefully he’ll end up with meaningful challenges.
- ShoBox. It took me a while to catch-up to Friday night’s ShoBox card, but if you missed it, it’s worth trying to track it down on replay. There were two all-action slugfests, including the best fight of the weekend. That would be Chris Avalos-Giovanni Caro at bantamweight, where the prospect Avalos scored a picture-perfect 4th round KO after four straight rounds of rock ’em sock ’em action with the dangerous Caro. Avalos does need to consider relying on his boxing skills a bit more, because I think he’s better than he showed Friday evening. But he has the makings of an action star who combines talent with excitement even if he waters down his slugging with a bit more of a focus on defense. Heavyweight prospect Travis Kauffman got knocked out by Tony Grano in the 4th round of the main event, a borderline Round of the Year. Kauffman had Grano in trouble before Grano landed a low blow then spit out his mouthpiece to buy two separate breathers, and Kauffman continued to behave as though Grano was still in trouble even though he had recovered some; then, when Grano got Kauffman in trouble, Kauffman foolishly traded and got flattened. I wasn’t sold on Kauffman before and am even less so now, but, as I was just saying, one loss should not end a career. He made some mistakes and maybe he can learn from them.
- Friday Night Fights. So dismal was the level of competition in this all-Cuban exile-centered special edition of FNF, most of the bouts demonstrated nothing of value at all, and I don’t even think they warrant recapping. The junior featherweight bout between Guillermo Rigondeaux and Giovanni Andrade was a tad more competitive on paper, given Andrade’s pro experience, but it was another exhibition of how talented and poised Rigondeaux is, as he scored a 3rd round KO on a body shot. Andrade connected on very little, which made ESPN2’s Teddy Atlas say Rigondeaux needs to learn to be more comfortable leading rather than counterpunching, but I think it’s a minor quibble at best. Rigondeaux looks very much like the real deal, and Freddie Roach, his trainer, said he hasn’t been as excited about a prospect since he met Pacquiao. Roach isn’t particularly prone to hyperbole. I don’t think it’s long until we see Rigondeaux really step up his level of competition, and it’ll be interesting to watch when he does.
- Jorge Linares signed by Golden Boy. Linares, a junior lightweight, has the potential to make pound-for-pound lists, but he has stayed overseas fighting for his Japan-based promoter. Now he’s got the biggest promoter in the game backing him, according to a Golden Boy news release, so that should translate into more U.S. television exposure and, I’d like to think, a higher level of competition. Linares said he wants to fight Top Rank-promoted Humberto Soto, who’s penciled in for the Pacquiao-Cotto undercard against an opponent to be named, but I doubt Golden Boy and Top Rank would collaborate to make that fight happen on that particular undercard. (That undercard, by the way, is almost surely not going to live up to the hype, especially since lightweight knockout artist Edwin Valero was denied a visa — he alleges discrimination, although a DUI might maybe sorta have something to do with it — which leaves us with Soto-somebody and a for-sure boring junior middleweight fight between Yuri Foreman and Daniel Santos.) Still, there are a few good fights out there for Linares, be it Robert Guerrero, Roman Martinez or even Soto at some point.
- Arturo Gatti’s second autopsy. Gatti’s second autopsy, sought by his blood relatives and conducted in Montreal, apparently points to a hanging, rather than strangulation. There is the suspicious presence in his system of a drug that causes drowsiness, but, and I emphasize that none of this is conclusive, it’s looking more these days like his wife didn’t have anything to do with his death. Weird case. But the good news is that it’s not apparently tarnishing his legacy the way I feared it would, because Chris John, of all people, was wearing Gatti’s name on his trunks Saturday.