Every year he reemerges for a fight, I find that Floyd Mayweather’s routine gets more tedious at a quicker rate of speed. At first, I enjoy some of his vivid language, like recent entries “I’m gonna son ‘im” and “And motherfucker, I ain’t no junior.” The controversy ignited by his argument with his father was ugly, but still riveting television. But lately? The above video from “The Soup” skewers how drab a recent segment of 24/7 Mayweather/Ortiz was. Tonight, he’s appearing on “Conan,” and I don’t even think I’ll watch. I know what he’s going to say. His number of dimensions total, approximately, one: “I’m rich. I’m undefeated.” Done.
The “I’m rich” strain of his one dimension emerged in last weekend’s episode as he communicated with some soldiers in Afghanistan. He appeared to think he was doing them some favors, showing them his gorgeous wife and all the money he had and his lush accommodations. I’ve never experienced what it’s like to be at war, but the best I can imagine, I wouldn’t want to sleep in some spare barracks and spend my days having people try to blow me up only to have a rich man rub in my face how great his life is.
The one new dimension he’s seemingly trying to push is homophobia. You can argue about whether someone can use the word “faggot” and not mean anything offensive to gay people, but if you do what Mayweather does in the most recent 24/7 episode — calling Oscar De La Hoya “gay” for dressing as a woman, and meaning it as an insult — you are definitely using it in the slur way. It’s like he’s trying to get picketed by gay groups. This is his third offense of the last year, at minimum.
Anyway, that storyline doesn’t shake me from the Mayweather tedium. When Mayweather complains about Ortiz getting undeserved attention in 24/7 — and he’s not, as HBO is airing some pretty lousy Mayweather segments air — I kind of wish HBO would pay MORE attention to Ortiz. It’s not that Ortiz isn’t annoying sometimes, too. But at least the way in which he’s annoying is less familiar and a bit more unpredictable.
Now, to the Weekend Afterthoughts, about the subjects in the headline, as well as a review of loose ends involving YURIORKIS GAMBOA! and a look at several controversial fight outcomes.
- Yuriorkis Gamboa’s performance. People are still all over the board about why Gamboa wasn’t as electrifying against Daniel Ponce De Leon as he was in his last fight, and while I’ve discussed it somewhat in the comments section, I want to amplify. I don’t think Gamboa was being cautious with De Leon because of his power. De Leon clocked him pretty good a few times, and Gamboa didn’t seem to care. I liked the way his beard looked Saturday. After the fight, Gamboa said he was trying to prove the point that he could be a boxer as well as a slugger, and with how cocky he is, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was just trying to show off some aspect of himself that he wanted to show off. If he had done severe damage to De Leon at any moment, I bet he would’ve jumped on him, but the notion that De Leon can’t take a shot is based on a 1st round knockout loss, and those can be flukey; against everyone else, De Leon has proven he can most certainly take a shot. But failing an obvious chance at a knockout, Gamboa just felt like toying with De Leon, and because his natural gifts are so beguiling, he did. He has what I’d called on Friday a “dead-eyed predator stare,” but Hamilton Nolan really worked the predator metaphor to perfection in his piece today, a beautiful piece of writing that captured what what Gamboa was doing Saturday evening on HBO.
- Next for Gamboa. We touched on this already a bit, but options for Gamboa are fairly dismal. It’s not that there aren’t good match-ups. It’s just whether they can happen. Gamboa said after the De Leon fight that he doesn’t want to stay at featherweight, but, thankfully, he rolled that back and said he’d return for a Nonito Donaire fight, perhaps, for the right money — something that assumes the bantamweight Donaire will be at featherweight anytime soon, and be viable there. There are some other acceptable opponents at featherweight, Chris John and Jhonny Gonzalez, but John has retreated back to Indonesia and Gonzalez isn’t THAT deserving, despite being ranked #8 by Ring in the division and having good power. Were he to stay at featherweight for a while, Mikey Garcia and Gary Russell, Jr. could be long-term opponents. At 130, there are two good options: a revival of a Juan Manuel Lopez fight, if Lopez avenges his loss to Orlando Salido (Lopez is a feather now, but plans to move up to 130 next); and a match-up with Adrien Broner, which is unlikely because he’s advised by Al Haymon and Top Rank, Gamboa’s co-promoter, hates Haymon. You think to yourself, maybe he could move to lightweight and fight Brandon Rios! It would be a slugfest, that. But Rios is gonna be a junior welterweight after the end of 2011, and the names at 135 after him aren’t the kind of fights I’m dying to see Gamboa in. If I had my druthers for my boy, Gamboa would fight JuanMa in early 2012, when Top Rank wants an HBO date for Yuriorkis; face Broner in the middle of 2012; then return to 126 for one fight back at featherweight for Donaire. That’s a Fighter of the Year campaign, but there are a lot of “ifs” in there.
- Todd duBoef on Gamboa. I asked Top Rank’s duBoef about having Gamboa fight in Florida to capitalize on the Cuban-American market, and he told me they’ve wanted to have a fight there but have had trouble securing venues; that could change with the NBA lockout, he said. It’s hard to imagine there isn’t some facility in Florida, NBA lockout or not, that could be secured and attract more than the 2,085 fans, the number that showed up in Atlantic City. Either way, in a post-fight interview with ringside reporters, duBoef was bullish on Gamboa’s ability to become a star, and believes he has both the talent and marketability to rise to the top. It’s really about exploiting both that talent and marketability, something that takes time. “I think his talent puts him way up there. His experience is a different story. It’s the experience of Donaire — he became that after having incredible wins over Vic Darchinyan, (Fernando) Montiel, so he has a much more full breadth of career. I think on ability-wise, he’s one of if not the most gifted, most blazingly athletic fighters I’ve seen.” He continued: “You have two prongs as a promoter. One is the marketability, one is the ability. You take that unbelievable perofmance with (Rogers) Mtgawa and (Jorge) Solis — and everyone said after the Salido fight that he was kind of lackluster, but wer’e accomplishing one of those two prongs. I thought did great job showing progress with the ability side. He did a good job in showing those talents we talked about, incredible power and incredible speed. He actually showed some defense here that we’ve known he has some issues with, where he sometimes get too close, gets smothered and gets hit with power shots… He’s a baby still. He has an incredible pedigree as an amateur. He’s maturing incredibly as a pro. Each fight is so important.” On whether he has great marketability, specifically: “When you can fight like that, and he’s good looking, and he endears to the fans, when you light it up, I think absolutely. It’s just going to take more time. Everybody thinks boxing careers are sprints. They’re not. They’re long races.” I mostly agree on all this stuff duBoef said above, by the way. Gamboa’s career has already been a sprint, for the most part. But he’s still developing as a pro, and he’s still relatively new to the game. As for Lopez: “I am totally against this idea that you get one loss and you all a sudden disappear off the face of the Earth… Juanma’s gonna get back in the ring, he’s gonna do it in October. He wants tha Salido rematch. If he gets back to that, we might be talking again Gamboa-Lopez. But it’s all based on performance.” Yup. Wish it had happened sooner, but Lopez can comeback and be a viable Gamboa opponent.
- Next for the Klitschko brothers. Coming off his win over Tomasz Adamek, Vitali really, really wants to beat up David Haye, still angered after years of trash talk toward the Klitschko family. And as much as I don’t care to see Haye in the ring again after his non-effort against Wladimir, it’s not like there’s anybody on the immediate horizon at heavyweight who’s more deserving. Haye was more competitive with Wlad than most anyone in recent years, despite his non-effort, but I don’t like his chances against Vitali at all. Maybe Vitali will do us a favor and knock him out. Meanwhile, division champ Wlad is looking at his own undeserving opponent, Jean Marc Mormeck, but I can give him a pass on that one. He’s taken out everyone he can, so why not go fight someone who’s popular in France, one of the last European nations where the Klitschkos haven’t kicked the ass of the hometown champion? Then, next, it’s on to the likes of the winner of Eddie Chambers-Tony Thompson, both of whom he’s beaten already. Or it’s Adamek, who says he wants Wlad next year and absolutely would get massacred. With Haye and Adamek slayed, the last fighters who offered any potential drama for a Klitschko, things are going to get very unappealing at the top of the heavyweight division for the next year or so.
- Paul McCloskey vs. Breidis Prescott. This proved a better fight than I might have expected, although I was looking forward to the junior welterweight clash nonetheless. I disagree with the unanimous decision McCloskey victory and think it was a bad one, not a robbery; not many of the rounds were all that close in either direction, and I gave Prescott six of the first seven rounds, with an extra point for the 1st round knockdown, however dubious it was. McCloskey admirably got himself back into the fight by winning the last five rounds and outboxing a tiring Prescott, but while I respect that it was a close fight, I don’t see how one of the judges could’ve found two more rounds for McCloskey than I did to get him to 115-113. It’s too bad Prescott didn’t get the win I think he deserved. He remains a contender for the trash-talking championship of late, saying he would spit on Amir Khan and his father if he saw them and promising to knockout McCloskey in a way that would make Khan “faint.” Earlier this year he called McCloskey “mystery meat.”
- Jamie Cox vs. Obodai Sai and Juan Carlos Salgado vs. Argenis Mendez. I haven’t been able to track down videos of these fights, but the Commonwealth Boxing Council is taking a look at a protest of Cox’s unanimous decision victory over Sai, after reportedly getting more e-mail complaints than for any other fight outcome. Salgado took his own close uanimous decision over Mendez in a battle of top-10 junior lightweights. But per a news release, Mendez’ team disputed the referee’s decision not to take points from Salgado for rabbit punches when Mendez was deducted a point without warning, and thinks that Salgado held excessively enough to deserve a point deduction, especially in the final round after a knockdown. They are petitioning for an immediate rematch.
- ShoBox. I’m not sure what the hell the problem is with Lateef Kayode. The cruiserweight looked all right early in what should’ve been an easy fight with Felix Cora, Jr., but his technique, already raw, degenerated into some slap-boxing crap that was so poor you wonder how Freddie Roach trains the guy. He is a physical specimen, but he’s not a contender yet. He’s a very, very raw semi-prospect, still. Maybe he can figure it out, but he’s a long ways away. In the close and fun welterweight main event between Vicent Arroyo and Hector Sanchez that Arroyo won by decision, I didn’t see a really top prospect, either. One or both of those men could become good gatekeepers some day, maybe — guys who would give anyone a tough fight, provide some action, maybe upset a younger prospect, maybe even knock some contender off on a good night. But that’s what I see as their ceilings.