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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
Number of posts: 64,038

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Years ago, when it appeared that Mayweather and Pacquiao might reach an agreement to fight, the editor of The Ring magazine suffered from a moment of clarity: it was likely, he noted, that Floyd would simply rely upon his superior ring skills to win a one-sided decision over Manny. That, he stated, would be a major disappointment for boxing fans. Few things, it seemed, would show the inability of Pacquiao fans to appreciate the mere possibility that much of the boxing community supports Mayweather.

Not to be out-done, the HBO announcer stated before the fight that “many” viewed it as a confrontation between “good and evil.” Since few people who support Floyd refer to Manny as “evil,” it’s fair to assume that Jim Lampley -- still bitter about Floyd’s going from HBO to Showtime -- was speaking of Mayweather.

The fight itself was a classic Floyd Mayweather performance. In nine of the twelve rounds, Manny Pacquiao landed less than 10 punches. Manny’s over-all connect rate was a career-low of 19%. (81 of 429 thrown). Mayweather landed at 34% (148 of 435 thrown).

In terms of jabs, Mayweather landed 67 of 267 thrown (25%); Manny connected with 18 of 193 thrown (9%). Per power punches, Floyd connected with 81 of 188 (48%); Pacquiao landed 63 of 236 (27%).

While neither man was seriously hurt in any round, both were able to connect when their opponent was open and off-balance. Thus, both men “stumbled” at least once during the bout. But the fight was fought almost exclusively at the pace that Floyd dictated. The Pacquiao fans attempted to inspire Manny to pick up the pace several times, especially in the late rounds. However, Manny was either unwilling or unable to do so.

Two judges scored it 8 rounds to 4, and the third had it 10 to 2. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that it did not take several rounds for Floyd to access Manny and make adjustments -- he established his superiority in the first round, and imposed his will through to the end.

The biggest non-surprise was the sour grapes being gargled by both the sports journalists who dreamed of a Pac-Man victory, and the pro-Pacquiao / anti-Mayweather fans on social media. It wasn’t a “super fight.” Floyd is no Carmen Basilio. This was so boring that it will kill boxing. Floyd is no Muhammad Ali. Right, right -- as long as we are talking about the older version of Ali, since the young champion was hated by an even larger percentage of Americans than Floyd is today.

Several people have correctly noted that last night’s fight was very similar to the second Frazier versus Ali bout. It was the only one of the three scheduled for 12 rounds. Ali was focused upon one thing, and one thing only: getting the win. He fought a careful fight, winning more rounds than Smokin’ Joe. Afterwards, Joe complained that Ali pushed down on his neck on the inside, and clinched frequently. Indeed, Ali did. And he won a one-sided decision of the great heavyweight champion, Joe Frazier.

Pacquiao and Freddie Roach attempted to use a shoulder injury as their excuse after the fight. The human parasite Bob Arum did, too -- until a journalist asked him if, considering how much the public paid to watch the fight, he knowingly sent an injured Manny into the ring? As always, Arum whimpered out of both sides of his mouth in response.

Mayweather noted that he had injured both arms and both hands in training, when he met with journalists in the post-fight press conference. This is, of course, common when men in their mid- to late 30s train very hard for a fight. Boxing is a “hurt” business, and that includes training camps.

The majority of the questions posed to Mayweather were disrespectful attempts to discredit his amazing victory. In a calm, rational manner, Floyd was able to redirect the discussion, and to focus on what is important. He handled the reporters with more ease than he did Pacquiao.

Two of boxing’s all-time great champions entered the ring last night. Floyd won a lop-sided decision, based upon his intelligence, ring generalship, and physical skills. After the decision, two of boxing’s all-time great champions left the ring -- for that dynamic had not changed. Manny Pacquiao did not lessen his legend. Rather, Floyd established his superiority. Both men deserve our respect. Both are nearing the end of their outstanding careers, and we will not see anyone like either of them again.

The Fight

Tomorrow night is the “Big Fight” between welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and challenger Manny Pacquiao. The bout is being billed as “The Fight of the Century,” which is accurate at this point -- though there are 84 years to go. Even before the first bell rings, its being compared to Louis vs. Schmeling (6-22-1938), and Frazier vs. Ali I (3-8-’71).

In my opinion, the bout is more similar to Johnson vs. Jefferies (7-4-1910): in that much anticipated fight, the nation was split primarily upon “color lines,” with blacks hoping for Johnson, and whites praying to see “that golden smile removed from his (Johnson’s) face.” Jack Johnson was a complex character outside of the ring, and his flamboyant life-style offended white folks. In the ring, he was a defensive master, who wore his outclassed opponents out, before beating them into submission.

Jefferies, the undefeated former champion, was viewed as the “Great White Hope.” More than 20,000 people traveled to Reno, Nevada, to watch the bout. It turned out to be one-sided. After Johnson put Jefferies away, at least 20 people were killed in “race riots” broke out in 50 cities across America -- from Texas to New York, and from Colorado to Washington, DC.

Floyd Mayweather is the incarnation of Jack Johnson: his ring-style and life-style resemble Johnson’s, far more than they do Ali’s. Yet, besides being all-time great fighters, what the three have in common is being hated by much of the public.

The Louis vs. Schmeling II, and the Frazier vs. Ali I, were definitely “Super Fights.” More, each of them were deemed to transcend sports. Max had defeated a younger Joe, before the Brown Bomber won the heavyweight title. Their re-match was cast as a contest between Nazi Germany and the United States (despite Schmeling’s not being a Nazi). It was a brutal, one-round knockout, in which Joe did severe damage to Max’s spine.

Frazier vs. Ali I pitted two undefeated heavyweight champions, for the first time in history. Ali was, of course, despised by the right-wing, who incorrectly viewed him as a “draft-dodger.” Thus, even Richard Nixon was pulling for a Frazier victory. The left-wing was rooting for Ali.

In many ways, tomorrow’s fight is more similar to the 4-6-87 bout between middleweight champion Marvin Hagler and challenger Sugar Ray Leonard. This was in the golden era for welter-and middleweights; Marvin and Ray were considered the two best. For years, Ray avoided the fight. However, when he saw evidence that Hagler’s skills were deteriorating, and was able to dictate the ring-size, the glove-size, the number of rounds (12, rather than 15), and the location (Las Vegas), he interrupted Marvin’s plan to retire.

By preparing for twelve distinct “mini-” bouts -- each round -- and determing that he could “steal” rounds by fighting in spurts to impress the Vegas judges -- Ray won a decision. It was controversial then, and still is the subject of much dispute among the boxing community today. I recognize that Ray won; however, I recognize that, had the exact same bout have taken place in Atlantic City, Hagler would have gotten the decision. Different venues favor different tactics.

A strong case can be made for either man winning tomorrow night. The only thing that is certain at this point is that anyone who claims either fighter has “no chance” doesn’t understand boxing. Both Floyd and Manny are not only great boxers, but both rank among the sport’s All-Time Greats. Each possesses extreme physical skills. Yet, what makes both unique talents is their mental strength.

In many ways, each will be taking a page out of Ray Leonard’s book: they recognize that each one of the twelve rounds is a battle in itself. More, each round is three minutes long. When two fairly evenly-matched great fighters meet, not only is it rare for one to win every round, but almost impossible to win every minute of every round. (It’s worth noting that for many years, Floyd literally won almost every round of every one of his fights. That is extremely rare, especially considering that he faced tough competition.)

For Manny Pacquiao, that means near-constant foot movement; darting in-and-out at angles -- never coming straight in, or straight out; and throwing high-volume combinations. More, it means trying to throw the last punch in almost every exchange. If he appears busier in two of the three minutes, he can steal rounds.

Pac-Man’s hand-speed may allow him to do something that virtually no opponent has done yet: to land consecutive punches to Floyd’s head. To do so, he will need to throw “up and down,” meaning combinations to the head and body. Still, Manny’s overall intensity in the ring has to be controlled -- after throwing a combination, he must spin away from Floyd, never setting a pattern.

Clearly, Pacquiao can knock an opponent unconscious. But he should not be looking for a knockout In fact, if he starts to load-up on punches, he will pay severely for it. However, he does have the ability to exploit Floyd’s going off-balance: when Mayweather leads with a crisp right-cross -- and he surely will tomorrow -- he tends to bend at the waist, and hop out to the side. Manny need not land a hard counter -- just an accurate one. If he does score a knockdown, even just because Floyd was off-balance, that’s a 10-8 round. And that alone could be the difference on the score cards.

As much as I respect Manny Pacquiao, I definitely favor Floyd Mayweather. I think that “hit and don’t get hit” is the proper approach to the Great Sport. Floyd has accomplished this to great success, actually in two distinct (though related) manners in his career. For the early through middle years, he simply imposed himself on opponents. His 1-20-’01 destruction of undefeated champion Diego Corrales is the best example. I’d also include his 6-25-05 bout against Arturo Gatti; in it, Floyd reminded me of Ali devastating Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams, and landing at an unreal rate.

More recently, Floyd has displayed the ability of a technician, which is rare, indeed. He’s able to measure the exact rate that a Zab Judah or an Oscar de la Hoys will tire. Then exploit it fully. He played with Juan Manuel Marquez, himself a legendary ring technician. Floyd defined controlling the geography of the ring against the much larger Canelo Alvarez. Against Mosley, he showed he could take a very hard, accurate punch that he never saw coming. And with Cotto and in the first Maidana bout, Floyd showed physical strength and endurance.

It’s fascinating to see that Floyd has gone “old school” in this training camp. I was the guest on a sports-radio show last night, with two hosts who had interviewed Floyd the day before; his camp is among the things that has all three of us thinking Floyd may win in impressive fashion in the late rounds. The pre-fight specials show that he is setting down, and lifting from his feet up, hard body shots. (Manny’s first two knockout loses resulted from body punches.)

Floyd is also chopping wood. Reportedly, a lot of it. This results in greater punching-power. This is especially true for punches that he “turns over” (meaning turning his wrist/fist when a punch lands). It seems likely that he will open a cut, somewhere on Manny’s brow, by the middle rounds. It also means that should Manny come straight in with his chin up, or moves straight back after an exchange -- both things he does too often -- he may be knocked to the canvas.

Still, no fighter has shown a greater understanding of a title fight consisting of 12 three-minute rounds than Floyd. While he no longer wins every minute of every round, he has an uncanny ability to “keep score” in his head, and turn on the punches when needed. His defensive skills are legendary: most opponents miss punches at a career-high rate. In response, Floyd lands his punches at a higher rate than any other fighter.

I expect the bout to be fairly even for six rounds. After that, Floyd should be able to impose himself on Manny, with his advantages in size, strength, and smarts. By round nine, I expect Floyd to become more aggressive than most people expect; this doesn’t have to include coming forward, stalking Pacquiao constantly. But it does mean initiating the action with blinding speed.

The most likely outcome is a decision victory for Mayweather. However, a late round TKO isn’t going to surprise me. (In fact, nothing will!)

Enjoy the fight!

Power & Ms. Mosby

Marilyn Mosby just renewed my faith in the ability of good people to transcend the mechanics of “the system,” and to bring about social justice. I realize that she is, in a sense, the public face of a large team. Yet she is clearly the powerful and capable leader of that team.

This is a historic day. The struggle is far, far from over. But we should take time to appreciate the significance of the press conference that we have just seen.

H2O Man
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