Weekend Afterthoughts: Is Manny Pacquiao On The Decline?; A Lot Of Bella Gonzalez; Jorge Arce And His Place In History; More

One of the weekend’s winners was Bella Gonzalez, Shane Mosley’s girlfriend, what with her trending on Twitter and getting a lot of “Mosley lost to Manny Pacquiao, but hey, look what he’s going home to!” remarks. And with that picture, you can very nearly see her insides. I automatically am not interested in the appearance of anyone with fake breasts, but I am all about customer service, and what the people want, I give them. [If you want to see the original possibly NSFW photo, you can go here.]

The big gist of Pacquiao-Mosley, we already covered here and here. But as with any big meals there are a couple days worth of leftovers, and there were other fights this weekend besides. Besides the subjects in the headline, we’ll evaluate things like which boxing announcer was publicly offered services from a porn star and wonder about things like what the hell was up with Kelly Pavlik’s tattoos, and a few more topics, too.

  • Is Pacquiao on the decline? This is something I honestly didn’t notice, but some others saw evidence of it. The pound-for-pound king’s nutritionist Alex Ariza said that he thought Pacquiao overtrained, which stands in contrast to trainer Freddie Roach saying it was Pacquiao’s best ever camp. When I first saw people saying that Pacquiao appeared physically slower, my first reaction was to think, “He’s usually a lot lot lot faster than his opponent, and this time Mosley even at his age was reasonably fast, too.” I do know that the 3rd round knockdown punch he landed was lightning fast, so much so that a couple of my guests didn’t even see the punch that led to the knockdown. That this leg cramp issue is something that he’s dealt with in other fights might be evidence of aging, but according to Pacquiao it dates back to his second fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. That was in 2008, and in the intervening years he has looked as “prime” as one can look. I’m interested in what everyone else thinks of this. I’m wide open to the possibility that I’m in error in failing to notice it. Ultimately, though, I don’t think it matters against any opponent currently being discussed for him; it would only come into play, hypothetically, for a fight against Floyd Mayweather.
  • So many glove touches. Everyone also was pretty annoyed by Pacquiao and Mosley touching gloves so frequently. I generally don’t mind boxers touching gloves in fights; I know you’re trying to knock the other guy’s head off, but I don’t have a problem with a sportsmanlike gesture when a foul is committed to indicate that it was accidental. That said, it got a little ridiculous Saturday night. David P. Greisman was crazy enough to count up the number of them, and it put a numerical figure on the ridiculousness. After a few times, maybe they both should have shelved it and recognized that all the head butts were accidental and just got on with the damn thing.
  • Pay-per-view packaging. All in all, this aspect of the Showtime/Top Rank pay-per-view was top notch. We knew we’d get good commentary from Al Bernstein and Antonio Tarver, but we didn’t know if Gus Johnson would be super annoying, as he’s prone to do for boxing broadcasts sometimes. Yet I don’t remember a single moment where I thought, “Oh, shut up, Gus.” And the whole crew, including James Brown, was pretty blunt in their assessment of the main event and how disappointing it was. What’s more, the songs chosen by Pacquiao and Mosley went from ultra-cliched to super-cool when LL Cool J in particular and Jimi Jamison from Survivor sang the tracks live on the way out. I also liked Showtime using the profile of the show to promote the Super Six with that between-fights interview session, because the Super Six is a great event that needs more viewers. I didn’t even mind some of the extra ads on screen, like for O’Reilly Auto Parts or Mortal Kombat (check out some of the new game’s ridiculously graphic finishing moves here), because I want boxing and boxers to prosper in all the ways that they can so long as it doesn’t involve screwing over the fans, and the unobtrusive placement of the ads was not a problem for me.
  • Jorge Arce and history. Arce, along with Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr., clearly stole the show Saturday with their dramatic, action-packed battle. Arce is really just as lovable fighter as you’ll find, and the old man appeared revitalized by fighting at the higher division of junior featherweight, even if he got gassed in a couple middle rounds. I don’t want to appear ungrateful by saying this, because I honestly adore the man, all the more after Saturday night, but I think some people are maybe getting carried away with declarations that he is the first Mexican to win titles in four weight classes. My position on the belts — there are too many of them and only the Ring lineal championship belt matters — is well-established, but even those who see value in the alphabet gang are lowering their standards here. One of those belts was an interim belt. Do we need to further validate the alphabet gang’s dilution of the word “championship” by considering an interim belt the same as a regular belt? Arce might have punched his ticket into the Hall of Fame, though, judging by some writers’ reactions. I don’t think he has beaten good enough competition for that, but then, I don’t have a vote. It is not, at any rate, an insane notion. Whatever the case, I just want to reiterate that I dig Arce big time and that what he accomplished by beating Vazquez — a legitimate young contender — at his age among smaller fighters and so far from his original weight was remarkable.
  • Kelly Pavlik’s tattoos and future. Pavlik’s tattoos on the front of his body were ugly and asymmetrical, as everyone noticed, but I was more intrigued by what was on on his back. One of them says “Last Call,” and appears to feature some skeletons drinking at a bar. Another says “Lift Our Spirits,” which might also have an alcohol connotation. With so much discussion of Pavlik’s stint in rehab, I’d be very interested in a story that gets to the bottom of what the tattoos were about, because I’ve only seen anything on the others. They could be a rejection of Pavlik’s past, but the opposite would be concerning. Anyway, there’s some talk of Pavlik taking on Lucian Bute at super middleweight, especially with Bute’s prospective opponent Mikkel Kessler reportedly taking another fight. I try not to discount any boxer’s chances in a bout, but I think even a non-rusty Pavlik gets murdered by Bute, who’s a lot like recent Pavlik conqueror Sergio Martinez, only bigger. Then again, I honestly don’t know where Pavlik goes next, because he wasn’t very good. Maybe he should get in there with a fellow brawler who isn’t so fleet of foot and who will give him a chance to deliver a more action-filled bout, one that he’d be likely to win, and see what comes after that if he thrives. I will say that even though his opponent, Alfonso Lopez, benefited from a version of Pavlik that was very different from the old beast we once knew, Lopez actually fought really well. He also was a poor fit for a rusty Pavlik, since even on his best days Pavlik struggles with mobile boxers, and Lopez was quite mobile. I’d like to see Lopez again soon, be it on another pay-per-view undercard or ESPN2 or something of the like.
  • The philosphy of undercards. I liked what Top Rank’s Todd duBoef had to say here about pay-per-view undercards. I’m not sure I agree with his reasoning about why live boxing fans are so late to arrive compared to mixed martial arts fans — I think force of habit, rather than saturation, is more the issue, although time will tell if duBoef is right — but the approach to recognizing the value of undercards from a company perspective is encouraging. Yes: Maybe the live audience can’t be brought to care, but there are plenty of us out here who will watch them online (that is, if Top Rank can get its technical house in order — by the way, did anyone out there buy the live stream of the card, and if so, how was it?). And that’s how you build a fighter’s name recognition: exposure. Another angle, often-discussed in this space, is brand loyalty. To their credit, Top Rank did try to put together a good undercard that would have featured a rematch of TQBR’s Fight of the Year, a lightweight clash between Humberto Soto and Urbano Antillon, but it fell apart due to a promotional feud. As it is, a lot of people said, “Pacquiao-Mosley sucked and I want my money back. But hey, at least we got Arce-Vazquez, I guess.” Imagine if Soto-Antillon II was on the card and was another good bout — I bet fewer people would be complaining about their money’s worth.
  • Some other weekend fights. There was yet another upset this weekend besides Arce-Vazquez, albeit a mild one, that didn’t get as much attention in 2011: The Year Of The Upset. Daniel Geale took a split decision over middleweight Sebastian Sylvester on Sylvester’s home soil of Germany. Also, I was mildly impressed by heavyweight Mike Perez, who won the Prizefighter tournament Saturday. Granted, he was expected to, but he has some skills that he used to thoroughly dominate the proceedings and could be a bit of a player despite a lack of size. For other results, you know where to go.
  • Weird celebrity encounters. Paris Hilton got all kinds of attention for attending Pacquiao-Mosley and bizarrely appearing at the post-fight news conference. She kept talking about how “amazing” the fight was, which prompted my original reaction of thinking this reinforced what an airhead she was. Scott at BLH had a more generous attitude about it, and hey, maybe she was genuinely enjoying herself. To the discriminating eye, Pacquiao-Mosley was a letdown. But time and again, the general public has defied my expectations about what kinds of fights and fighters they’ll be interested in, and perhaps the untrained eyes who were enticed to Pacquiao-Mosley by all the hype weren’t let down at all. I can tell you someone who was let down Saturday: adult actress Francesca Le’. She said on Twitter she was eager to hear Max Kellerman call the fight, but naturally he wasn’t calling it because he’s with HBO. That’s disappointment #1. Then, she offered to let Kellerman double penetrate her, which would have been difficult unless Kellerman has two (ahem) members and I wasn’t aware of it. Anyway, he politely declined. Disappointment #2. Since we started with a picture that was nearly pornographic, why not close with a friendly image of Ms. Le’? In a boxing ring, no less!

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.