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Articles of 2009

Kenny Missed Some Openings, But Mayweather Didn't

Frank Lotierzo

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Floyd Mayweather Jr. is showing to be Ali-like in one sense since coming out of his scripted retirement. That is, he provides those who follow and love boxing plenty of content. It appears Mayweather may have created his own brand–in sparking debate among fans, fighters and writers as to just how great he is or isn't. One thing's for sure, not only is Mayweather one of the smartest fighters of his era inside the ring, he's just as smart outside of it. While retired he was all but forgotten. Since his return he's dominated the scene like he never did before. And as long as he's out doing interviews and talking about his upcoming fights, it'll be written about here.

The things I mention below as to what could've been asked came to my mind as I was watching the Brian Kenny/Floyd Mayweather interview from last week. This isn't a case of Monday morning quarterbacking. I acknowledge and respect both Brian Kenny and Floyd Mayweather Jr. as professionals. That said,  I'm an opinion writer and they're both in the public eye. Below are my thoughts and observations as to the interview they recently conducted.

Last week during the Mayweather-Marquez satellite press tour, Mayweather was interviewed by ESPN's Kenny. The interview got off to a rough start when Kenny accurately introduced Mayweather as the former number one pound for pound fighter in boxing,  to which Mayweather took exception. This illustrated how insecure Floyd is when confronted with certain truths regarding how he's perceived among his critics in the boxing community.

Mayweather started off by admonishing Brian Kenny's opinion and questions, because Kenny has never laced up boxing gloves. (Ed. Note: Kenny in fact trained at Cus D’Amato’s gym for five years.) Which was an obvious cheap shot. I fought for seven years and was in training camp working with fighters the likes of Michael Spinks, Dwight Muhammad Qawi and Bennie Briscoe among many others. No doubt having fought gives you an added dimension that those who never did can't possibly have, but it doesn't take a fighter to observe that Mayweather has avoided the biggest challenges to him in his division. It only requires someone who's an informed observer that follows boxing. Some of the most insightful boxing minds I know belong to guys who never fought or trained as a fighter. The reality is most fighters only care about what's going on with and around them. So Mayweather's juvenile tactic came off pretty lame.

During the interview Mayweather was defensive and appeared to be looking for a war of words in order to divert attention from the legitimate questions Kenny was attempting to ask regarding who he's fighting. Watching the interview it struck me –had Brian Kenny been interviewing greats such as Alexis Arguello, Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, Aaron Pryor, Sugar Ray Leonard or Thomas Hearns those same type assertions never could've been made. Instead of trying to find out if they were going to fight the best and most dangerous fighter out there, it would've been conducted from the perspective of when and where.

The surprising thing to me was Kenny, who follows boxing and isn't awed or intimidated by Floyd, missed some obvious openings that would've enabled him to expose Floyd for who he is. Granted, I know interviewing a guy like Mayweather is a difficult thing to do when he's already pre-determined that facts and actuality have no place in his world. It was just frustrating to see Floyd given the latitude of using his verbosity to dance around the substantive issues.

Some of the things that stuck out:

One thing Kenny nailed was saying, “Floyd, you got full credit for both of those wins, (De La Hoya and Hatton) that's why you became a superstar.” Yes, I couldn't agree more, Floyd Mayweather wasn't considered the face of boxing until he beat a part-time fighter/promoter (De La Hoya) along with an undefeated junior welterweight (Hatton) who he fought at welterweight.

However, I think Kenny could've addressed Mayweather's typical bravado and subterfuge better. I would've mentioned because Floyd kept bringing up his victory over Oscar De La Hoya, that maybe Pacquiao beat him when he was an empty package, but Shane Mosley took him apart more convincingly than you seven years earlier.

Mayweather said, “I'm too big for Marquez but I'm not too big for Pacquiao. Which one is it?” Kenny said that Pacquiao was 130 pounds and keeps moving up and whacking guys, he gets full credit. I would've retorted that Pacquiao won his first title weighing 111.75 pounds as a flyweight, four divisions and twenty pounds below Mayweather, who weighed 131 in his pro-debut. Instead, he let Floyd say he's moved up from weighing 125 pounds, which is outright dishonest.

Mayweather also asked Kenny, “Has Pacquiao been out-boxed by Erik Morales?” To which he responded yes. But he also could've suggested to Floyd that if he out-boxes Pacquiao maybe it shouldn't be considered such a feat since Morales was on the decline and fought Manny closer to his more natural weight when he did it.

Soon after that Floyd said he doesn't fight for bragging rights, in order to suggest why he doesn't need to fight Shane Mosley. Then he was reminded by Kenny that Mosley is the welterweight champion. This prompted Mayweather to mention Mosley has five losses and Shane isn't a PPV attraction. If there was ever an opening for a follow up it was there.

Kenny could've taken Floyd apart by saying ‘You challenged Winky Wright in 2005 and made demands that were unrealistic so the fight couldn't be made. Mosley had no trepidation fighting Winky twice. You never fought anyone close to a Vernon Forrest who was undefeated and thought to be a later generation version of Thomas Hearns when Mosley fought him — twice. As far as Cotto, Mosley fought him on even terms just as some think you did Jose Luis Castillo the first time. On top of that Mosley fought a Cotto, you turned a deaf ear to him when he was undefeated and hadn't yet endured a beating from Antonio Margarito.’

He could've gone on and said, ‘Floyd, if you fought every fighter Mosley did, how many losses would you have? Conversely, if Mosley fought every fighter you have  would it be fair to say he'd be undefeated too?’ And regarding PPV, Kenny could've reminded him De La Hoya was the draw and took home $45 million when he fought Mayweather, Floyd netted $20 million and let’s see when Floyd next grosses $45 million for a fight, like Oscar. Lastly, Ricky Hatton was the draw because he brought half the UK with him when they fought. Did it occur to him to say Floyd, ‘You're a big draw as long as Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton are your opponents.’

Later in the interview Mayweather spewed how Cotto beat Mosley, Margarito beat Cotto and Mosley beat Margarito, going on to say all these guys are beating each other but none have beaten me. Right here is where I believe Brian Kenny could've obliterated Floyd Mayweather but choose not to. I would've said, “Floyd, you haven't fought one of those three opposed to them fighting each other. Of course they haven't beaten you, but neither have you beaten them. There's a perception out there that you turned a deaf ear when they called you out, yet you heard and responded to Juan Manuel Marquez?”

Then Mayweather had the gall to say he never ducked or dodged any fighter. And in Kenny's defense he tried to pin him down to who he'll fight after Marquez, to no avail. And in sticking to form Floyd once again danced around it and mentioned how he has an issue with Bob Arum that may prevent the fight with Manny Pacquiao.

The only thing the ESPN interview accomplished is the fact that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is comfortable in the role of playing the bad guy for at least his upcoming fight and most likely the one after that. Due to the fallout from Mayweather's interview, Brian Kenny did a short interview with Shane Mosley on ESPN Friday Night Fights. Did anyone besides myself notice the respect Mosley commanded because of what he's accomplished in the ring with his fists. This is opposed to Mayweather, who clearly showed he's not as secure in his career accomplishments as Mosley is his.

Articles of 2009

UFC 108 Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva

David A. Avila

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Former champion Rashad Evans meets Brazil’s venerable Thiago Silva in a non-title belt that can lead to a return match with the current champ, but first things first.

Evans (15-1-1) and Silva (14-1) meet in Ultimate Fighting Championship 108 in a light heavyweight bout on Saturday Jan. 2, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A win by either fighter could result in a world title bid. The fight card is being shown on pay-per-view television.

Events can change quickly in the Octagon and anybody can beat anybody in the 205-pound weight division. Just ask Silva or Evans.

Silva and Evans are both experienced and can vouch firsthand about the capriciousness of fighting in MMA and especially as a light heavyweight. On one day this man can beat that man and on another day, that man can beat this man. It can make you absolutely daffy.

Evans, 30, is the former UFC light heavyweight world champion who only defended his title on one occasion and lost by vicious knockout to current champion Lyoto Machida of Brazil. It’s the only defeat on his record.

Silva, 27, is a well-rounded MMA fighter from Sao Paolo, Brazil who is versed in jujitsu, Muy Thai and boxing. He can end a fight quickly in a choke hold just as easily as with a kick or a punch. His only loss came to who else: Machida.

Evans and Silva know a win can push open the door to a rematch with current UFC light heavyweight champion Machida.

“A win against Rashad would put me in the track against Lyoto,” said Silva, in a telephone conference call. “That's what – what I want to do.”

When Silva fought Machida the two Brazilians were both undefeated and feared in the MMA world. The fight took place in Las Vegas and with one second remaining in the first round a perfectly timed punch knocked Silva unconscious.

“I was humbled big time, man,” says Silva who fought Machida in January 2009. “I learned a lot from that fight.  I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight, not overlooking anything else right now, but just I want to get the chance to fight him again.”

For Evans it was a different circumstance. The upstate New Yorker held the UFC title and was defending it after stopping then champion Forrest Griffin by knockout. Still, many felt Machida was far too technically versed. Evans was stopped brutally in the second round.

“I've made it a point to not – to not get distracted on what I want to do, because you know Thiago (Silva) is a very hungry fighter,” said Evans who has not fought since losing the title to Machida last May. “My focus is just on Thiago so much.  You know I don't want to overlook him, you know, not even a little bit.”

Dana White, president of UFC, says the winner of this fight could conceivably fight Machida in the near future. Evans and especially Silva are motivated by the open window.

“I learned a lot from that fight. I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight,” says Silva. “Not overlooking anything else right now, but I just want to get the chance to fight him again.”

What a prize. The winner gets to face the man who beat him: Machida.

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Articles of 2009

Paul Malignaggi Explains Why He Thinks Manny Has Used PEDs

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In theory and in practice I am vehemently opposed to people tossing out unfounded allegations against someone. Supply evidence, then we can talk. But saying someone is using steroids, or EPO, or HGH, based on a theory, or your gut instinct….I have to consider, what if the allegation were thrown at me, and I was 100% innocent. I'd be mightily irked. And so too would you be.

Manny Pacquaio has been hammered from all sides with folks insinuating and coming right out with the contention that they think he's been cheating, that he's been using illegal performance enhancers to give him an edge in competition. Floyd Mayweather Sr, Paulie Malignaggi, Miguel Cotto and Kermit Cintron have either accused Manny, or insinuated that he's been using PEDs. One has to wonder, where's all this smoke coming from? Is it possible that there's fire lurking? That these folks aren't just lobbing unfounded barbs at Manny, that their allegations and hints aren't just sour grapes, or posturing, or a ploy to lure Manny into a fight?

By and large, there hasn't been much in the way of coverage from the standpoint of: what if Manny is using PEDs, or was using PEDs? I think that is rightly so; I'd be more comfortable if none of us trafficked in the innuendo and speculation, and worked within the realm of evidence, and facts. But it's out there, and a topic of conversation and speculation. Perhaps it's a symptom and sign of the times we live in…

TSS reached out to Malignaggi, just off a solid win in his Dec. 12 rematch with Juan Diaz. The Brooklyn-based pugilist has never been shy about speaking his peace (I picture him exiting his mom's womb and barking at the labor and delivery crew to get the room cleaned up, stat!), and he shared with TSS what he bases his allegations, which he's careful to label opinion, upon.

First off, Malignaggi is of the belief that if the Pacquiao-Mayweather negotiations are at a fatal impasse, Yuri Foreman, and not he, will get the coveted date with Pacquiao. Malignaggi has been mentioned as stand-in for Mayweather.

He started off by insisting that ” I have nothing against Pacquiao” but then went from mellow to madman in a 30 second span.

First off, the boxer wonders why Team Pacquiao isn't going after big-time newspapers, with deep pocketed owners, for libel, for insinuating that Pacquiao is drug cheat.

“If Pacquiao's so sue happy, why not sue the New York Daily News?” he asked. “Maybe they know the steroid allegations are true.”

By and large, Malignaggi thinks it is impossible, utterly impossible, for a boxer to put on 15 or more pounds between March 15, 2008, when he fought Juan Manuel Marquez and weighed 129 pounds at the weigh in, and Nov. 14, 2009 when he fought Miguel Cotto and was 144 pounds at the weigh in, and more on fight night.

“It's not natural looking,” Malignaggi said. But, I countered, what if Manny's supremely blessed, that unlike some other fighters who go up in weight, and look a bit bloated, and lack definition, he's just a special creature?

“He's not supremely blessed,” Maliganngi said. “I know body builders. They can't put on 17 or whatever pounds of muscle in a year. It's not doable, in my opinion. These are my speculations, my opinions based on certain factual evidence. Does his weight gain look normal to you? And his head looks like it has blown up in size, too.”

I offered to Malignaggi that perhaps we should be attacking the system, if we believe it to be lacking, rather than the individual.

“We can blame the system a little bit, but if you were Manny, wouldn't you want to leave no doubt? Or speculation?” said Maliganngi, who believes that by not agreeing to the terms set forth by Team Mayweather, and opposing a blood test within 30 days of the bout, Pacquaio appears guilty.

Pacquiao has agreed to take 3 blood tests: the first during the week of the kickoff news conference in early January, the second random test to be conducted no later than 30 days before the fight, and a final test after the bout. A video making the rounds from the HBO 24/7 series shows Pacquiao submitting to a blood test two or three weeks before he was due to fight Ricky Hatton, and that has cast doubt on Team Pacquiao's stance that Manny is disinclined to get a blood test too close to a bout, for fear he may be weakened. Originally, it was reported in error that that test was taken 14 days before the Hatton bout, but subsequent reports pegged the test as being taken 24 days before the scrap. Malignaggi feels Pacquiao has been caught lying, that the report from Team Pacquiao that he “has difficulty taking blood” is a cover story. “Why is he effing lying?” Malignaggi said, heatedly.

The New Yorker doesn't believe too many fighters in the lighter weight classes are using PEDs, but thinks usage isn't uncommon in the heavyweight division. “That's hard to do and make weight,” he said.

The question is asked of Malignaggi: why does the issue make him so steamed?

“I don't like cheaters,” he said. “This is not baseball. You're not just hitting home runs. You have to worry about peoples' lives. Miguel Cotto in my opinion has been beaten by two cheaters. Manny if he's cheating is taking away from guys who are doing things the right way. His team is reneging on their words.”

And what if you're wrong, Malignaggi? What if Manny is clean, and you are hurting his rep with these allegations?

“I bet everything I own that I'm not,” he said. “But we'll never find out. Hey, I would take the test in a heartbeat. I would want people to know I'm clean. He wants to leave doubts!?? His entire legacy is being questioned, he's willing to hurt his legacy and leave $40 million on the table?”

Maliganngi, after reminding TSS that he was correct in predicting he'd be gamed by judges in the first fight with Diaz, insisted that he isn't singling out Pacquiao for a personal vendetta. “”I've never had anything against him. But that's enough now. I call it like I see it.”

What about those who'd say he's just trying to anger Pacquiao, to lure him into a fight?

“No. I expected he'd take the random tests to get this fight. No way I thought he'd throw away everything. That blew me away. It was cool to have my name mentioned.”

Malignaggi thinks the boxing media has dropped the ball, and not exercised due diligence in examining the possibility that Manny has used PEDs.

“I understand most people like Manny, and not Floyd. Just cause that's the case doesn't mean Manny might not be cheating. It's nothing to do with him personally. But I call a spade a spade. Too many people avoid the possibilities because Manny's a likable person. He's got that front, his country loves him. That front works like crazy. Floyd plays the bad guy, but he's natural. Just don't downplay the fact that Manny might be cheating. You have to open your eyes and at least be willing to look at it. This is bigger than me. The fact that the fight is not being made, you have to question the integrity of Pacquiao.”

Malignaggi then offered an analogy to the Manny-refusing-to-be-subjected-to multiple-random-drug-tests prior-to-a-fight-with-Mayweather deal. “It reminds me of the drunk guy who's pulled over at 3 AM. He has a field sobriety test, the cop knows he's drunk, he looks and acts drunk. But he refuses a breathalyzer test. That don't mean the cop don't haul him to the police station.”

I reiterate…I don't think anyone should be casting aspersions based on circumstantial evidence. But with so many people ganging up on Manny, I think fight fans are owed some details on why people are accusing Pacman of using PEDs.

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Articles of 2009

Ten Boxing Wishes For 2010

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As 2009 comes to a close, one reflects on what went well and what went wrong during the year in boxing. There were many highlights. Pacquiao vs. Cotto and Showtime’s Super Six tournament were part of the best that boxing had to offer. But there were some low points too therefore the industry has some work to do in order to keep generating fans. Here are some suggestions for 2010:

10. Better pay per view cards

Paying 40 to 50 bucks to watch the main event gets old real quick. Why do we have to sit through a horrible under-card to get to the main course? It’s like being fed spam appetizers before the Thanksgiving turkey. It seems that the pay per view promoters just don’t get it. Are they watching what they put on or do they only watch the “big fight” as everyone else is slowly being conditioned to do so?

9. Time to make Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight

Okay, I understand he’s the son of one of the greatest fighters that ever lived. But he’s had 42 fights against low to mid level competition and has never managed to look spectacular. It’s time to throw the 23 year old out of the nest to see if he can fly. My suggestion is a fight against Sergio Mora or maybe even Yuri Foreman. Neither of these guys can punch. They may outbox Junior but they won’t totally humiliate him.

8. No more ridiculous Pay Per View mismatches

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez should’ve never been made. It was a ridiculous fight when it was announced and it was more ridiculous when it took place. Unable to bring Manny Pacquiao to the bargaining table for a third match against Juan Manuel Marquez, someone figured that pairing up the 135 pound champion against a natural 147 pounder like Mayweather would be a great idea. The pay per view generated over a million buys but the fact that millions of people were treated to an incredibly boring mismatch is what’s truly worrisome. I can guarantee you one thing about this card. The sport of boxing lost fans once the show was over and done with. Talk about short term thinking.

7. Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola shows up for a fight in amazing shape

It was painful to see Chris Arreola take a beating from the Ukrainian giant, Vitali Klitscho. The champion certainly earned his “Dr. Ironfist” moniker as he plowed his powerful shots into the former #1 WBC heavyweight contender’s face. He reddened and bloodied the young Mexican American with an assortment of weapons and foot movement seldom seen on a six foot seven inch heavyweight. Arreola was brave and unrelenting in battle. He never stopped coming forward and took chances when he could. His work in the ring at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles wasn’t the problem. Where Arreola let himself down was outside the ring. His unwillingness to condition himself into a finely tuned athlete cost him certain immortality as the first ever heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. Arreola has the heart and skills but it was his mental fortitude that broke down. Anyone who’s followed the Riverside fighter knows that his best weight is somewhere in the 230 pound range. It certainly isn’t at the 252 pounds he registered on the scale at the Staples Center.  Those fifteen to twenty extra pounds might have made all the difference in the world. Maybe he would’ve been a little quicker, maybe he could’ve sustained a faster pace in order to tire out the champion. In his most recent fight against Brian Minto, Arreola weighed in at a career high 263. It looks like “The Nightmare” isn’t willing to change for anyone. At this pace, the only nightmares he’ll be providing will be to the management of Hometown Buffets all across Riverside.  Just kidding “Nightmare”!

6. More respect for the lighter weights

Real boxing fans know that the most exciting fighters in the sport are usually found toiling in weight divisions south of 154 pounds. Pacquiao, Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Edwin Valero, Israel Vazquez, Juan Ma Lopez, Vic Darchinyan, Rafael Marquez and countless others have been the real driving force behind this sport. It’s those great fighters that have made boxing fanatics out of casual fans. The heavyweights may get all the money and glory but it’s the little guys who make the sport shine and it’s time they received greater compensation. It’s dismaying to think that a mediocre heavyweight can make three or four times as much as the great Rafael Marquez.

5. An American Heavyweight champion

Speaking of heavyweights, two Americans tried and failed at dethroning Vitali Klitschko this year. Both Kevin Johnson and Chris Arreola did their best to wrestle the belt away from “Dr. Klitschko” but came up short since they were easily outclassed. What happened to the great American Heavyweight? Where’s our new Joe Frazier or Ali? Even a new Gerry Cooney or a Ken Norton would do at this point. I’ve got a feeling that the only way we’re going to see an American champion is if Klitschko retires. My money is on Arreola. Although undisciplined and rough outside the ring, he’s got tons (no pun intended) of natural talent. He’s without a doubt the most talented American heavyweight on the scene.

4. More ShoBox

The Showtime Cable network gave us the best boxing on TV for the price of a cable television subscription. Their ShoBox series has been a proven hit for Senior VP of Sports Programming Ken Hershman. The concept is simple yet brilliant. Match up two up and comers with great records and let’s see what happens. Sometimes the results are surprising. Many have passed the ShoBox test and went on to bigger and better things. Others have been exposed as having padded records and eventually their careers stall and take a dive.

3. More safety in Mexico so I can attend a show without a gun battle breaking out

Having lived near the Tijuana border all my life I’m dismayed at the war zone that the city has evolved into. Every day there are reports of shootings fueled by the drug war trade. Believe it or not, there was a time when Tijuana was safe and most wouldn’t have thought twice about crossing the border for some seafood and nightlife. No more. Having covered several boxing cards on Revolucion Avenue many years ago, I got a taste of just how important the sport is to Mexican fans. It’s also important to me but not that important. For now I’ll stick to covering shows at the Pechanga Casino and in the less dangerous city of L.A. I never thought I’d say that.

2. Pac Man vs. Mayweather

This is the fight everyone wants to see. Seeing how Mayweather dominated Pac Man’s arch enemy, Juan Manuel Marquez, you have to wonder if the Filipino can handle Lil’ Floyd’s speed and size. One thing is for sure, betting against Pacquiao doesn’t usually work out for me. It never has. There’s no future in it. So if the fight gets done it’s Pacquiao by TKO in ten.

1. And finally

One final wish is reserved for all the readers of TheSweetScience.com I wish you all a healthy and happy 2010. Thank you for your continued loyalty to the site. It’s very much appreciated.

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