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Sunday, September 20, 2009

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PACQUIAO WATCH: Half the die is cast

Floyd did what was expected of him – steamroll past the gutsy but totally outclassed Marquez, who, despite coming in several pounds above his comfortable fighting weight still ended up at the short end of the scale.

Marquez’s counterpunching style is simply ineffective against a guy with the best defense and who is not known to initiate a fight.

In Filipino cockfighting aficionados’ lengua – kontra pelo.

Marquez did not have the aggressiveness of Jose Luis Castillo and Ricky Hatton to upset Floyd’s rhythm. Nor the ring savvy of Oscar de la Hoya, who narrowly lost to Floyd in a closely fought contest.

Castillo, in fact, did very well against Floyd he could make an argument that he won at least one of their two fights in 2002, when both fought as lightweights.

Hatton gave Mayweather fits before the Englishman was kayoed in the 10th round, incidentally Floyd’s last fight prior to announcing is retirement only to “unretire” and face Marquez.

Like I said, Floyd has the uncanny ability to frustrate his opponents with his cunning defense which was on display throughout the Marquez fight. As good as Marquez was against top notch competition, he was simply outmatched - style-wise - against Mayweather.

Okay, I failed in my prediction that Mayweather will stop Marquez in the latter rounds. But certainly, Floyd was in his element and could have stopped Marquez had he taken some risk. Well, Floyd is Floyd. Safety comes first for him.

Now half the die is cast.

Floyd did his share and performed the task that is demanded of him for the anticipated showdown with Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino heavyweight of a spitfire.

Pacquiao is exactly the opposite of Marquez that is why the two will always battle in exciting and explosive ring matches. Pacquiao and Marquez feed on each other's strengths and weaknesses.

In a Floyd-Manny encounter, you will see more slambang action and tactical battles with momentum shifting from one corner to the other just as the two Pacquiao-Marquez matches drove all boxing fans to the edges of their seats.

If you were entertained while holding your breath watching Manny and Juan Manuel clash like there is no tomorrow, expect nothing less from a Manny-Floyd bonanza.

Their styles are so opposite they are like other ends of the magnet. They attract each other.

Now that Floyd had already done his share, it is up for Manny to complete the missing link that will end all puzzles – who is the best of them all.

Top photo: Juan Manuel Marquez (L) of Mexico and Floyd Mayweather, Jr (R) of Michigan and Las Vegas walk towards the center of the ring at the start of the first round during their bout Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV. Photo by Dr Ed de la Vega.


Real danger signs for Manny Pacquiao from Floyd Mayweather

Something happened in Las Vegas this weekend. It was a wake-up call for the rest of the boxing world watching. One man above all others. Manny Pacquiao.

I liked the words he coughed up to Filipino journalists who watch Manny’s every move at home. I love the detail of what time he does what with whom and where. He is an athlete, a curiosity, an enigma, an unfolding world story of rags to riches, from poverty to politician.

He is a modern morality tale of the age. And, having met the man, as humble and simple as you prayed he would be when you shook hands and spoke.

But I fear for his bubble againt Mayweather. It may just burst.

Now don’t get me wrong. Manny has made huge improvements as a boxer, as well as a fighter. In the sense that I believe he would outstrip Juan Manuel Marquez if they met again.

There are reasons to justifiably lift him to that iconic pound for pound mantle, yet we were watching greatness in Floyd Mayweather’s performance against Juan Manuel Marquez.

I read some funny things washed up in the waves after the fight in Las Vegas. One writer claimed Mayweather was ‘the devil’. Hang on a minute… the devil would have scorched Marquez, who looked fine afterwards.

No, it was Mayweather the physical magician, with a bag of defensive tricks, a man with gloves and a rolling rotator cuff like a great cape he can disappear behind.

From the waist down, his posture, legs wide and flexed at the knee for power, mid-section/centre of gravity pushed down by wonderful posture, yet light on his toes, which makes him more like a martial artist of olde in a dance.

No, this was not the devil. More crouching tiger, hidden dragon.

Physically, in action, Mayweather is already approaching greatness. Outside the ring may be another matter. What he will never have, which Pacquiao has, is humility and honesty which touches people, which inspires them to follow and be followers.

Mayweather is a decent enough man up close, pretty smooth with the media, but his edges are brassy, his boasts of expensive attire and the like just ‘chavvy’ .

I can understand Freddie’s Roach’s considered opinion put out on Sunday. “Congratulations Floyd. You just beat the best lightweight in the world.” There was a gulf in size. But so too in class. It was as staggering as it was wide.

I fear that Pacquiao may appear similar against Mayweather, when and if they meet. It is hard to see how anyone will beat the American, at this weight, in this form, at this time, with the great style he has developed.



Las Vegas, NV:- Floyd Mayweather Jr was back at his usual elements after a scintillating victory over the mismatched Juan Manual Marquez at the MGM this last night.

During the fight, Mayweather was a delight to see as he danced away from trouble and delivered his wide array of arsenals against the Mexican idol. His speed was marvelous and his defense impenetrable.

The left hook that he threw at Marquez that caused the lone knockdown in the fight seemed to have come from nowhere. It was lightning fast. The veteran Marquez did not even see it coming.

PhilBoxing’s Dong Secuya described the whole fight aptly. Mayweather he said, schooled the veteran Marquez.

Mayweather’s victory and the way he achieved it on top of the ring was a picture of defensive excellence. He displayed how to totally dominate a rival and come out of the fight almost untouched.

To many, particularly the Mayweather nuthuggers it was what it was all supposed to be:- a victory that would bring back the glory of the past years when Mayweather was the undisputed pound4pound boxer in the world. Predictably, some even said that he is back to no.1

But alas, that was not meant to be.

The victory was tarnished by the fact that Mayweather, in my opinion, did not play the game fairly. He ignored the agreed upon catchweight of 144 lbs. He came to the weigh-in at 146 and God knows how much he weighed at fight night putting the size-disadvantaged Marquez further deeply in the rut.

Had Mayweather and his Team paid more attention to his weight or much more, cared about it and came on the weigh-in just right on target, his victory would have been clean.

Nothing could have been said and people would have easily dismissed the real size difference between a true lightweight (Marquez) and a legitimate welterweight (Mayweather) and zeroed in more of the brilliant performance of Mayweather.

Yes he won his “come-back” fight, but to many including this writer, the victory was tarnished by the weight issue.

As I mentioned in a previous article that drew the ire of some of his supporters, Mayweather possibly just did not care how heavy he was at the weigh-in. He simply must come in bigger than Marquez to assure that he can dominate the Mexican gladiator who from the beginning was already pretty disadvantaged.

There simply was no reason to come overweight. With the skills he showed, he could have easily defeated the out-classed Marquez even if Mayweather came in at 140.

But Mayweather had to win at all cost to preserve his marketability. That included ignoring contracts and common sense fairness.

Thus, his victory was tarnished.

Top photo: Floyd Mayweather's jab hit home to the overmatched Juan Manuel Marquez during Saturday nights fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.


Floyd Mayweather Jr is the world's best fighter beyond question

Good as Floyd Mayweather Jr looked against Juan Manuel Márquez – and sensational would be a reasonable description – he is two fights away from silencing the last of his critics.

For the unequivocal adoration he craves he must now go out and beat Sugar Shane Mosley and Manny Pacquiao, probably in that order. Of the two Mosley is the tougher fight because, as Mayweather showed in Las Vegas on Saturday night, size is a killer around the lighter weights.

Pacquiao, whatever his heroics against a shot Ricky Hatton in May, is two years younger than Mayweather but a stone or so smaller; Mosley is closer in weight, at light-middle, but six years older.

Mayweather, according to Márquez, might have been 20lb heavier than the 36-year-old Mexican by fight time at the MGM Grand. He also had a four-year pull in age, not to mention skills which seem to have been enhanced rather than eroded since he knocked out Hatton in the same ring 21 months ago.

The man is remarkable, every bit as removed from the herd as was Sugar Ray Leonard, whom he resembles in boxing style and self-belief, although he lacks Leonard's class outside the ring, which is not the unreserved praise it might seem; Leonard could be charming or unbearable.

Like Roy Jones Jr and Oscar De La Hoya before him Mayweather has secured his legend fighting a variety of older and/or smaller opponents, partly because he is an astute businessman and abhors risk, despite his immense talent, and partly because there are not many fighters out there who are an exact match for him.

At the weigh-in he was seemingly happy to pay a $600,000 penalty out of his $5m purse for coming in 2lb over the agreed 144lb limit; that was desperately unfair on Márquez, who was coming up from lightweight. He was dwarfed in every way as Mayweather dominated him physically and tactically over 12 largely one-sided rounds.

Márquez could make an argument for sharing the points only in round seven, when he had minor success as Mayweather relaxed. Afterwards Mayweather indulged in the luxury of describing his showing as not one of his best. Nonsense.

On ability and that performance there is no question he is the best fighter in the world right now. Wins over Mosley and Pacquiao would seal the judgment. And if anyone out there wants to challenge that, be my guest.
Confession time

Occasionally journalistic objectivity is compromised in sport, when deep down you favour a certain result. There was something about Orlando Cruz's cockiness in the opening televised bout of the undercard that did not predispose me towards him when he went up against the quiet, unfancied Detroit featherweight Cornelius Rock.

This business is no cakewalk and fighters – however good, however hyped by their promoters – who think that they have only to turn up to win are tempting the boxing gods.

Rock, who has four defeats on his CV, knocked the unbeaten Cruz down in the first and over and out in the fifth. I did not cry into my cocoa.

On that score who could not admire the career of the Australian Michael Katsidis? He always puts it on the line. On the way up he came here in February 2007 and had an absolute war with Graham Earl, stopping him in the fifth. That was for the WBO's interim lightweight title.

On Saturday night, six fights on, the short-armed slugger was fighting for the same belt and, cut above the eye from round one, walked through the more stylish Vicente Escobedo to take a split decision, when it should have been unanimous. Mark the names of Mike Fitzgerald (116-112 for Escobedo) and Robert Hoyle (118-110 for Katsidis) as two muppets.

I bet Earl was cheering for Katsidis back in Luton.

Oscar De La Hoya put on a decent support card, as it happens, in this ratings face-off with UFC103 down in Dallas (results this week some time). It is wonderful what a little competition will do for a sport.

Rocky Juarez, trailing but coming back, nearly knocked out Chris John in the last half-minute of their tear-up for John's WBA featherweight title but the champ hung on. It was the 10th defence of the title he won five years ago.

John has been around forever and beat Márquez in March 2006.
Let's get ready to grumble

Has there ever been anyone in the sports entertainment industry who has made more money from five little words than Michael Buffer?

There he was at the HBO mic again, intoning as ever as if introducing the president of the United States. He is like an irritating uncle: embarrassing, harmless and always there.

The two most interesting things about The Buffed One are:

He is the grandson of Johnny Buff, who won the world bantamweight title in the 20s.

He proposed to his third wife on television.
Eye on the prize

I really like the Prizefighter series. It might not always be world-class boxing on show but bringing together ambitious and/or desperate fighters of varying ages, abilities and experience for a round-robin tournament that is settled in one evening is an inspired idea by Barry Hearn. It is like a good play, with each act building to a climax that nobody can safely predict at the start.

But it will come as no surprise to friends or doubters that Audley Harrison is already proclaiming he will win the next heavyweight edition, at the ExCel Centre in London's Docklands on 2 October, and go on to be world heavyweight champion.

Part one of this modest ambition is getting past Scott Belshaw – and, although he was blown away by Tyson Fury, I do not expect the Belfast banger to roll over this time. If Harrison does win, he is on track for a fight in the semi-finals against Michael Sprott, who knocked him out in 2007. So a win there is no given. If he makes the final, he is likely to meet another old conqueror, Danny Williams. Now that is a tough night's work.

None of which stops Harrison declaring: "I believe I will get that world title and the British public will understand my path, my battles, and I will get that credit." Maybe not but stranger things have happened.

However, Harrison's claim that he is "probably the greatest amateur boxer ever from Britain" is an insult to the triple-Olympian Dick McTaggart, MBE, the Scottish southpaw who won gold at lightweight at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. He won an extraordinary 610 of his 634 bouts and was voted into boxing's International Hall of Fame in 2000. McTaggart is regarded by good judges who followed his long and distinguished time in the ring (he never turned professional) as the best British amateur of his and probably any era.

The family of Darren Sutherland bury him at St Finian's Cemetery in Navan, Co Meath, today after a Funeral Mass at 11am at St Mary's Church. If you pray, send one up for Darren.


Boxing: Mayweather looks to Pacquiao for a truer test

It was business as usual for Floyd Mayweather on Saturday night when he went through the motions in a fight that resembled an exhibition of defensive mastery at the MGM in Las Vegas.

Mayweather overcame all the normal problems associated with being out of the prize ring for 21 months to perform with beauty at times during 12 totally one-sided rounds which left Mexico's former triple world champion Juan Manuel Marquez looking like a bruised and confused journeyman.

However, the win needs to be carefully considered before Mayweather is given back the title of best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. Marquez was handpicked and filled the role of brave and respectable loser perfectly, but the reality is he had no chance of winning. Marquez was handsomely paid to lose and he earned every cent that he left Las Vegas with yesterday.

Mayweather forced Marquez to gain 10lb for the fight and then weighed in 2lb over the contracted limit of 144lb and was forced to pay Marquez $600,000 (£369,000) extra as compensation. It meant that Mayweather was 12lb heavier than anybody Marquez has ever met before and that was simply too much weight.

Marquez sought to get close, tried to counter, which was once his speciality, but Mayweather, who also had a six-inch reach advantage, moved and countered with easy precision and, to be brutally honest, the fight's life as a compelling and competitive encounter was over after 30 seconds.

In round three Marquez connected with a clean right and Mayweather smiled, stepped back, and delivered a stunning short hook behind the Mexican's guard, sending him crashing to the canvas. Marquez regained his feet to survive the round and the rest of the fight, but admitted he was hurt.

At the final bell Mayweather won on all three cards but, amazingly, two of the three judges decided that he lost a round or two. Mayweather enjoyed about two minutes of calm after the fight before the offers started to arrive from those who are willing to challenge him and, by the way, make about $20m for their trouble.

However, Mayweather has his eyes set on the winner of the 14 November fight between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, which will set up a showdown of old-school proportions next May. Mayweather is back and it never looked like he had been away.


Marquez: “Mayweather is 100 per cent a defensive fighter and Pacquiao is a guy who likes to fight!”

Juan Manuel Marquez addressed the media last night after his losing effort against Floyd Mayweather Jr., discussing the fight, his game plan, and comparing Floyd Mayweather with Manny Pacquiao.

“When I hit him and he laughed, I knew he felt my punches. I tried to work the speed, but the difference was the weight. If I had three or four fights at this weight I would have done better. I did the best that I could do in this fight. I still want to dedicate this fight to my fans and the president of Mexico.”

“Mayweather and Pacquiao have different styles. Floyd is very clever. He is 100 per cent a defensive fighter. He is a good counter puncher. And Pacquiao is a guy that likes to fight.”

On Mayweather:

“It was a very hard fight. He surprised me with the knock down. He hurt me in that round, but only that round.”

“When I hit him and he laughed, I knew he felt my punches. I tried to work the speed, but the difference was the weight. If I had three or four fights at this weight I would have done better. I did the best that I could do in this fight. I still want to dedicate this fight to my fans and the president of Mexico.”

“I am a little sad, but I tried my best and the weight was a big problem. I think there was maybe a 20 pound difference in weight. I am not trying to make excuses. I did the work. I worked very hard for this fight. I am proud to be Mexican and I was willing to die in that ring.”

“I proved that I can fight. I gave it my all. Hey, I tried.”

On the differences between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather:

“They have different styles. Floyd is very clever. He is 100 per cent a defensive fighter. He is a good counter puncher. And Pacquiao is a guy that likes to fight.”

On potentially fighting Katsidis:

“I am going to think about it. One of the possibilities is going back down to lightweight, but I felt really good about junior welterweight, so maybe I will stay and try to get a title right there.”

On potentially fighting Ricky Hatton:

“It is a matter of getting together with my promoter. I just want to rest. I think I deserve it.”

On the fight postponement:

“It may have affected me, but that is in the past. I came to fight and I fought twelve hard rounds. The most important thing is that we are both healthy.”