Southpaw Jack's

Un-Orthodox boxing blog

Garcia and Peterson fight for undisputed championship . . . of modern boxing’s confusing title mess

Posted by Jack Sumner on April 10, 2015

CLARITY should finally be made in the light welterweight division this Saturday, as 140lb titleholders Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson meet in an eagerly anticipated clash at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Unbeaten WBA and WBC boss Garcia and IBF titlist Peterson have each held portions of the divisions crown for over three years now, with a unification bout between the two men an increasingly sought-after commodity. After all, in boxing’s convoluted river of politics these days, it’s often hard to tell who ‘the man’ is at any given weight.

Danny-Garcia-and-Lamont-Peterson-PBC

But hold on to your horses sports fans. Hold on to your horses. A unification bout between Garcia and Peterson right now would just make too much sense, wouldn’t it? That’s why the powers that be have instead orchestrated a catchweight non-title bout between the pair at 143lbs. No titles on the line, no undisputed champion at 140. And rumour has it that Saturday’s fight will be contested over 10 rounds.

Titles in boxing are becoming increasingly devalued. Bad enough that there were often four recognised champions in each weight class, courtesy of the four major sanctioning bodies, we had grown used to that and could cope with it providing established beltholders sought to unify their titles against each other every once in a while. But now some sanctioning bodies – cough, WBA, cough – choose to recognise more than one champion in one weight class, there is the addition of ‘silver’ or ‘interim’ titles – WBC, WBO – and titleholders who do hold legitimate claims to being the real division ‘champion’, don’t actually defend their titles.

garcia salkaIt can be maddening to be a boxing fan.

Garcia (29-0, 17 KO’s) falls into the latter bracket. Since his life-and-death struggle with Mauricio Herrera in Puerto Rico just over a year ago, the 27-year-old’s solitary outing is a 142lb non-title bout in which he demolished overmatched lightweight Rod Salka inside two rounds. Prior to the Herrera fight, the Philadelphia native had actually done a pretty good job of confirming his status as the world’s number one light welterweight. His twelve-round battle with Lucas Matthysse the previous September – which Garcia won by unanimous decision – determined 140lb supremacy at the time. His wins over Amir Khan, Zab Judah and Erik Morlaes (twice) added more weight to his standing.

There can be little doubt that Garcia still deserves to be the number one in the division, but Saturday’s fight with Peterson represents his second consecutive fight above the weight limit. It’s suggested that in the not too distant future, his goal is to move up and chase gargantuan paydays at welterweight. Which is fine, but if that’s the case then stop sitting on the title at light welter, if you’re never going to defend it.

Lucas Matthysse v Lamont PetersonPeterson (33-2-1, 17 KO’s) has made three successful defences of the IBF crown he lifted from Khan in December 2011, with wins over Kendall Holt, Dierry Jean and Edgar Santana. Whether or not you think he deserved the victory that won him the title (it was a close fight, not a robbery), at the time of the Khan win he was a legitimate titleholder with a victory against a man who had been looking the dominant fighter in the division. But it’s what’s happened during Peterson’s reign since that has clouded judgement of him as a ‘champion’.

Shortly before the scheduled rematch with Khan, the Washington man failed a pre-fight drug test for synthetic testosterone that caused the collapse of the bout and the WBA – who’s title he’d also won in beating Khan – to strip Peterson and reinstate the Brit as champion, before Khan subsequently lost it to Garcia. But the IBF allowed Peterson to keep his title, despite the failed drugs test and the fact it would be a year before he returned to make his first defence against Holt. Peterson looked impressive stopping the albeit shop-worn Holt in eight rounds and has done the business with unprovens Jean and Santana since, but against the one legitimate challenger he has faced in his reign, his title was not on the line.

Peterson was brutally knocked out in three rounds by Lucas Matthysse, but could not lose his crown in the non-title bout fought at a catchweight of 141lbs. Followers of the sport however will have a hard time accepting a fighter as a ‘champion’ when they’ve just been so convincingly beaten by someone still campaigning in their weight class, whether the title was officially on the line or not.

So Peterson remains a titleholder on a technicality, while Garcia doesn’t seem to want to defend the title he occupies at all. Shouldn’t both men be stripped of their respective belts? Either that or one of them should be forced to defend against the winner of the mouth-watering battle between Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov a week later. Given each man’s track record regarding recent tile defences however, that’s unlikely to happen.

Many see Saturday’s fight as a contest to effectively determine boxing’s lineal champion at 140lbs, but with all that’s going on it seems to be much more complicated than that. Clarity we don’t have unfortunately. In fact, they should probably create a new belt for Garcia and Peterson to fight over. The (super) confused championship of the world. For a fee, the WBA will probably sanction it.

Posted in Build-up | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

INTERVIEW WITH DOMINIC INGLE

Posted by Jack Sumner on April 10, 2015

In the wake of Kell’s Brook’s dominant first title defence against mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan, BMM’s Jack Sumner spoke to Kell’s trainer Dominic Ingle about the fight, the Sheffield champion’s immediate plans and the little event that takes place in Las Vegas on May 2nd. . .

dom ingle 1

First of all Dom, an emphatic comeback for Kell last weekend and one that has been earning fantastic reviews. Where would you say Saturday’s victory ranks amongst Kell’s performances to date? Do you think it was a career-best performance?

No, I would say that would still have to be winning the world title in America. Boxing away from home when all the odds were against Kell and with the awkward style that Porter brings to the table, that night he did remarkably well. There were certain things for this fight however, like the seven months out and the leg injury that do make this performance stand out and although a lot of people will say after the fight that Dan wasn’t much, at the end of the day Kell can only beat who’s put in front of him. He was a top fighter but it’s just that Kell made him look that way.

It’s easy for people to discredit a fighter after the event . . .

Yeah it seems to happen a lot with Kell’s opponents in fact, that people say they were no good after the fight. People said it with Senchenko just because Kell knocked him out in four rounds but he was a former world champion. Matthew Hatton had gone the distance with Saul Alvarez, but it’s always after these fights that people say Kell hasn’t fought anyone because of how he makes them look.

With the IBF you don’t get any back-handers, it’s not like the WBA or the WBC where you can avoid your mandatory challenger for years! (Jo-Jo Dan) was Kell’s mandatory so he’d earned the right to be there and there’s no doubt he would have raised his game for his world title shot. Kell asked me what I thought of him as an opponent a few weeks before the fight and I said look he’s a guy you have to take seriously. And fair play to Kell, he trained very hard for twenty weeks.

Going into the bout, did you have any concerns about the possible effects of the leg injury and whether it could impact Kell’s performance?

No not at all, because I’d seen how good he looked when he started sparring. Ok, people will say sparring is different to fighting but Kell spars like he fights really, just with the venom toned down a little. He was going through sparring partners, we had to change them every 2 to 4 rounds because we needed to get the rounds in and he was bashing them all up. We’d do 10-12 rounds of sparring and Kell would be ready to go again but these guys would do two rounds and we had to change them.

kell brook

Immediately after the fight talk turned to a potential clash with Amir Khan. There are a lot of people speculating that Amir doesn’t want the fight. Do you think that’s the case?

The thing is; why would Amir Khan want to fight Kell Brook? If Khan fights Kell and loses that could finish his reputation, his career might not recover if he loses again at this stage. People say about the money they could make but for Amir it might be more lucrative not to fight Kell, he could make 4-5 million but then that’s going to be his last pay-day, whereas he could take an easier fight against a name in America and get paid 1 million to keep on winning and carry on doing that, whilst saying he wants to fight Kell and keeping people interested.

Do you honestly think the fight will happen? What’s your gut feeling?

Yeah I think it’ll happen, in the end he’ll have to take the fight. He’s already feeling the pressure, that’s why he’s coming out now with all this “winner takes all” stuff, he feels like he’s got a point to prove. But realistically who else is there that he can fight? Think about Mayweather Pacquiao. When they were talking about the fight being close this time, before the fight got announced, who else would you realistically have accepted seeing Mayweather fight?

I don’t think there was anyone really. If it didn’t happen the only fight I think people might have accepted is the Cotto rematch with Floyd going for a title at middleweight. . .

But he already beat Cotto easily a couple of years ago! There was no other fight! Realistically this is the only fight out there for Khan and even if it doesn’t happen for a couple of years people will still buy into it, like they have done with Mayweather and Pacquiao.

Speaking of Mayweather and Pacquiao, Kell has said he’s heading out to Vegas to watch the fight on his birthday weekend. It’s possible that Kell could fight either one of them in the near future, so with that being the case, who would you rather fight? Who would be a better opponent for Kell out of Mayweather and Pacquiao?

I think we’d have to go for the winner first. That would make the most sense, whoever wins the fight. I think if we had to pick one of them without knowing that, it would probably be Mayweather, because he’s the one who’s undefeated and he’s the biggest star.

Having said that, I would say style wise that Pacquiao’s the easier option. Mayweather is so defensively good, he just doesn’t get hit. Pacquiao might be fast and he can hurt you with power and his speed and combinations but he can be caught. Mayweather has mastered the game. He’s like Roy Jones Jr was when he was in his prime or Bernard Hopkins, they’ve spent years mastering not being hit.

dom ingle 1I’ve got to ask you then. . who do you see winning the fight on May 2nd?

My money would be on Floyd. You look at a common opponent in Marquez, who was a bit of a bogey man for Pacquiao over four fights but Mayweather had an easy night with him, but then people might say well look at Cotto or De La Hoya and Pacquiao did a better job with them. The reason I think I’d lean towards Floyd though is, it’s like he’s got the football. It’s his ball, you’re playing in his back garden, his mum’s the one bringing out the orange juice. He’s like one of those kids who’ll say yeah you can play in my game but you’ll play by my rules.

They’re fighting at the MGM, which is his place, he decides what gloves his opponents wears like he did with Maidana. On top of everything else he makes sure he has it all working in his favour.

Aside from Kell and Khan, there’s another potential big British fight between Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton in the pipeline. Kid Galahad is on both of their tails of course, so how are his plans looking for the rest of this year?

Well that fight looks even less likely than Kell and Amir at the moment doesn’t it?! Listen, Kid’s not going to hang around and wait to see what happens with those two so we’ll just carry on and if necessary we’ll take a different route. To be honest the fight in that division is between Quigg and Frampton, that’s gotta happen, but our goal is to carry on winning and be in a position to challenge for a world title by the end of this year.

Posted in Interviews | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Brook obliterates Dan on comeback

Posted by Jack Sumner on April 10, 2015

KELL BROOK returned from a life-threatening stab-wound in emphatic fashion on Saturday night in Sheffield, wiping-out mandatory challenger ‘Jo Jo’ Dan in four one-sided rounds as he made the first defence of his IBF welterweight title at the Motorpoint Arena.

Brook (34-0, 23 KO’s), who after beating Shawn Porter to win his crown was attacked with a machete whilst on holiday in Tenerife less than a month later, chopped Dan (34-3, 18 KO’s) to pieces as he dropped the Romanian four times en-route to an inevitable corner retirement.

Kell-Brook-floors-Jo-Jo-Dan“It was amazing to be able to walk to the ring again and this is where I belong,” said the home favourite in front of an adoring audience in his home city. “It was hard to hold it together. I didn’t think I would box again, and I can’t put into words what it means to defend my title.”

It had been a long seven months since the Porter win had delivered the 28-year-old’s childhood dream and questions surrounded his mobility following the damage sustained to Brook’s left thigh during the attack. The unbeaten champion had been hit by depression; dark times as he feared he might never walk, let alone box again. But here on this special night in Sheffield, his homecoming, a partisan crowd produced an electric atmosphere. Brook must have felt invincible as he made his ring entrance, backed by the familiar melody of the Kanye West track “All of the Lights”.

And it was almost lights out for Dan in the opening stanza, who looked visibly shaken by the first right hand that Brook landed. In contrast to his opponent’s welcome, the southpaw challenger had walked into a bear pit, with 10,000 people baying for the Yorkshireman to spill his blood.

Brook would continue to land freely with his straight right and controlled the action with piston-like left jab, bagging the first round in comfortable fashion. There were no signs of any mobility or confidence issues on his return, which was a box ticked.

With the carrot of a potential summer showdown with Amir Khan on the horizon or even a clash with the winner of May’s megafight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, a headline-making performance was another box that the Brook camp wanted to check. As early as round two, it was on the cards.

Brook dropped Dan for the first time in the fight with a short uppercut that felled the 33-year-old visitor to his knees and before the round was out, had his man on the canvas again as a sharp right put him on the seat of his trunks. Dan somehow survived the round but look shell-shocked on his way back to the corner and from there the writing was on clearly on the wall.

It appeared as though Brook stepped of the gas a little in the third, but he was enjoying the occasion and by that point had established the gulf in class between the two fighters. For the best part of three minutes he was content to dominate whilst remaining in second gear, but a barrage at the end punctuated the round and reminded Dan of Brook’s power and athleticism.

The fourth round looked very much like the second; Brook landing his right hand at will and Dan having no answers. A sharp combination put the challenger down for the third time in the fight. It was late in the round, but then as the bell signalled the end of round four a left hook floored Dan heavily. He just managed to beat the count, referee Earl Brown giving Dan the benefit of the doubt despite the weary legs that attempted to betray him and before he took his stool, Dan started to walk back towards the wrong corner. He had no idea where he was.

It was no surprise then when the towel came in and the contest was ended before Dan could ship any more punishment; his experience of a world title challenge ending painfully and abruptly. Unfortunately for Dan, memories of this trip to the UK will not be fondly remembered as he now makes the long journey home to Canada.

For Brook, well as promoter Eddie Hearn remarked after the fight “the world is now his oyster”. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true. Brook is an unbeaten titleholder who appears to be hitting the peak of his powers and currently lays claim to be the world’s top welterweight outside of the ageing Mayweather and Pacquiao.

Brook’s next move? That will be a trip to Las Vegas on May 2nd for the aforementioned superfight, which also happens to be on Brook’s birthday weekend. What a twenty-ninth birthday present that will be if the winner states their intentions to fight Brook later this year.

Despite a fantastic night for Brook, the welterweight champion was saddened to hear the fortunes of his friend and fellow Sheffield native Adam Etches, who also fought on the card. The 24-year-old middleweight was brutally knocked out in the fourth round of his encounter with tough gatekeeper Sergey Khomitsky. In the process, Etches (18-1, 15 KO’s) suffered his first professional defeat.

Earlier on the night there were points wins for Frankie Gavin, Kal Yafai and Gavin McDonnell, whilst super featherweight Stephen Smith also kept busy with a six-round victory on the cards.

Posted in Fight Reports | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Miguel Cotto signs with Roc Nation Sports

Posted by Jack Sumner on March 6, 2015

Miguel Cotto has signed a multi-fight deal with Roc Nation Sports, the promotional entity of rap mogul Jay-Z, who last year branched into the boxing business. It’s been announced that the middleweight champion will return to the ring in June for the first bout of a contract that is said to include many fights and run for many years. Cotto becomes the second high-profile fighter to join Roc Nation, after inactive super-middleweight kingpin Andre Ward.

Miguel-Cotto-meets-Austin-TroutCotto (39-4, 32 KO’s), the Puerto Rican icon who has claimed world titles in four different weight classes, was probably the one person in the world who was most unhappy with the recent news that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will finally clash in May. The 34-year-old had been involved in lengthy talks for an eagerly anticipated showdown with Mexican sensation Canelo Alvarez, but with Mayweather-Pacquiao negotiations stalling repeatedly and at one stage looking to have collapsed, Cotto dragged his feet in the hope of securing a lucrative rematch with Mayweather.

Unhappy with the delay, Alvarez eventually withdrew from talks and moved on, which in the wake of the Mayweather-Pacquiao news ultimately left Cotto out in the cold. But in signing with boxing’s new kid on the promotional block, Cotto is now set for an exciting career revamp. In joining Roc Nation, Cotto leaves Top Rank – who have promoted all but two of his professional fights – for the second time in his career.

“I am just finishing the last part of my career by doing what is in the best interest for me and my family,” Cotto told ESPN.com. “We had the opportunity to work with and have nice relationships with Top Rank and Golden Boy and now we have an agreement with Roc Nation. That was the best option for us. Just like any other businessman, I am just thinking about the benefits, the money and the opportunity in this deal.”

The pairing of Cotto and Jay-Z is a match made in New York heaven; the fighting pride of the Big Apple’s Puerto Rican population and it’s Madison Square Garden home and the Brooklyn rapper who epitomises the city’s true grit, a rags to riches story from it’s mean streets. In terms of matchmaking for Cotto in the ring, there are a number of avenues that could be taken but it’s almost a certainty that the June date will see a defence of his WBC and Ring middleweight crowns.

Cotto’s mandatory challenger for the WBC strap is in fact WBA champion Gennady Golovkin, frightening in dispatching Martin Murray in Monte Carlo last month. With Cotto possessing the option of a voluntary defence however, he has the perfect opportunity not to risk taking that fight and allowing GGG to temporarily pursue other options. The most tempting options for Cotto meanwhile are perhaps found in lower weight divisions.

Welterweights Amir Khan, Brandon Rios and Timothy Bradley have all been linked with a jump to middleweight to challenge the lineal champ, whilst at light middleweight, the last man to defeat Cotto in Austin Trout has won two straight and could make sense as an alternative opponent given the revenge angle.

Cotto’s last outing was his middleweight coronation, a tenth-round stoppage of the ageing Sergio Martinez last June in which he scored four knockdowns, in one of his finest career performances and a sign of his resurgence under Freddie Roach.

Posted in Fight News | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

An unorthodox problem

Posted by Jack Sumner on March 4, 2015

Could Manny Pacquiao’s southpaw stance prove to be the difference for the Filipino against Floyd Mayweather?

On Saturday May 2nd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will finally do battle in a clash between the two most elite fighters of their generation. It will be boxing’s biggest event for nigh on thirty years, a chance for both men to settle the much-debated score and in the process pocket a mountain of cash. With an estimated pot of $250 million, it will be the richest bout in the sport’s storied history.

maypac1So why has it taken over five years to make a fight that is so integral to the careers of both its protagonists? Well, that’s a question that has divided opinion as much as the outcome of the fight itself. But there’s one theory that has for the most part dominated the conversation throughout this lengthy game of cat and mouse. That Floyd Mayweather, at least until this point, has been reluctant to fight Manny Pacquiao.

“I promoted the guy for ten years and I know how difficult it was to get him in the ring with any southpaw,” Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum opined in an interview with The Telegraph late last year. “When you talk about a southpaw who can move like Manny, that’s not the kind of opponent that Mayweather feels he would do well against. That’s the problem. If Manny agreed to fight right-handed, the fight would be agreed in five minutes.”

Arum clearly has a slanted outlook when it comes to Floyd Mayweather; the two parted company acrimoniously in 2006, a year before Floyd took part in what was then the richest bout in boxing history with Oscar De La Hoya, another former Arum charge. Mayweather has publicly aired his bitterness towards Arum at every opportunity since the split and the fact that the Top Rank chief has promoted Pacquiao throughout the saga that we’ve seen for the past five years has only exacerbated Mayweather-Arum relations.

To a certain degree, whatever Arum says has to be taken with a pinch of salt. He’s a promoter after all and one that many people within the game will testify as being dishonest and manipulative. There is no smoke without fire.

But the same applies to Mayweather, and the 83-year-old promoter of his arch-rival is not the only voice shouting Floyd’s affliction with southpaws from the rooftops.

“I think he’s a little worried about the style match-up and Manny’s southpaw stance,” is the opinion of Pacquiao’s Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach. “I think that worries him a little bit. But I won’t say that he’s scared, because fighters aren’t scared, we don’t work that way.”

Arum however went further to suggest that Mayweather is scared of dealing with Pacquiao.
“His whole style is geared for a right-handed fighter,” he continued. “And to compound that if the southpaw is really fast and moves, that would give Mayweather and his style a lot of problems.”

With a record of 47-0, Floyd has fought eight southpaws during his professional career, with Pacquiao to become the ninth. It’s estimated that southpaws account for little more than 10% of fighters – a translation that makes sense seeing as roughly one in ten people are left-handed – so from that standpoint it’s hard to make a case that Floyd has avoided them. After facing Pacquiao, southpaws will make up 18.9% of his career opposition.

At the highest level of the sport however, southpaws appear to be in a far greater abundance due to the well-documented problems that they cause orthodox fighters. For that reason, you could perhaps argue that a fighter with Mayweather’s championship experience should actually have shared the ring with more.

Mayweather fought three southpaws in his first nine fights and all within the first twelve months of his professional career, Reggie Sanders, Bobby Giepart and Jesus Chavez. But after dispatching Chavez by fifth-round stoppage, it would be seven years before Mayweather squared off against another left-hander.

Former 140lb titleholder DeMarcus Corley had lost just two of his thirty-one fights heading into his clash with Mayweather in 2004 and each had come via split decision, one of which was in his previous outing in which he lost his WBO crown to fellow southpaw Zab Judah. Mayweather was making his debut in the division, after making several defences of his lightweight crown. ‘Chop Chop’ was a test, but Floyd was expected to win in style.

mayweather corley

In the end he did, dropping Corley twice en route to a wide unanimous decision by scores of 119-107, 119-108 and 118-108, but what most observers take away from the fight was what Corley was able to do to Mayweather.

A hard left hand stunned the Grand Rapids’ native in the third round and then Corley landed a huge right hand in the fourth, backing Mayweather into the ropes and presenting a mini-crisis for the Pretty Boy who for a few difficult seconds faced a barrage of punches from the Washington man. Ultimately it was nothing more than a gut check which Floyd came through, but it’s since been cited countless times as evidence of Floyd’s vulnerability to left handers. Mayweather’s next southpaw assignment at least would pour water on that theory.

That was Sharmba Mitchell, who was the opponent for Mayweather’s welterweight debut in 2005. Floyd won by a sixth-round TKO after a one-sided fight and then in his very next bout, faced what could perhaps be classed as his first elite southpaw opposition in Corley conqueror Judah. It was the Judah fight that confounded the opinion in many observers that Mayweather is indeed vulnerable against southpaw fighters.

Though he too would lose a runaway decision, Judah’s speed from the southpaw stance was a nightmare for Floyd for the first four rounds. Surprisingly, the Brooklyn native’s hands appeared to be quicker than Mayweather’s and he enjoyed continued success with his straight left throughout the opener, before a controversial exchange in the next round. Judah was also dominating the second stanza when he caught Mayweather with a right hook as he was lunging in to send Floyd reeling backwards, and the glove of the unbeaten fighter – who had never legitimately been knocked down – touched the canvas.

Referee Richard Steele waved it away but replays suggested it should have been called a knockdown, yet in the end, it was immaterial as Mayweather adjusted to run out a clear winner. From round five onwards he proved to be the superior fighter and comprehensively outboxed Judah, whose speed became less of a factor and he resorted to fouling in the later rounds as his frustration boiled over.

The phantom knockdown can be attributed to the fighting stance that Judah adopted; Mayweather reached in with a straight right to the body so flawlessly effective against fellow orthodox fighters but put himself right in the firing line for the short right hook from the southpaw stance. Corley is on record as saying that whilst he had the power to trouble Floyd and Judah had the speed, both attributes were needed to have a chance of beating Mayweather. Both attributes however that few could deny Pacquiao possesses.

Since the Judah fight Floyd has beaten two more southpaws in Victor Ortiz and Robert Guerrero, the latter of which was little more than a glorified sparring session in which Mayweather wasn’t troubled at all. It’s worthwhile noting that Guerrero isn’t exceptionally fast or a heavy hitter; Ortiz’s power was neutralised by Mayweather for the best part of four rounds, but the Californian was beginning to enjoy some success before that fight’s bizarre and premature ending.

When it’s all considered, despite some of the more troubling moments of his career Floyd is 8-0 versus southpaws with 4 knockouts. One of his greatest abilities in the ring is to adapt to whatever is thrown at him and on the competitive evidence we have that’s no different for the southpaw stance; it’s simply just another equation that his boxing intelligence solves once he’s warmed into the fight.

But what about the southpaws he didn’t fight? Paul Williams, often mooted as a potential Mayweather opponent in his prime and present for a number of years during Floyd’s reigns at welterweight and light middle, is often talked about as a fighter than Mayweather avoided. The significant height and reach advantages for Williams would have magnified any problems posed by his left-sided orientation. And what of his namesake, Paul Spadafora? A fighter whose problems outside of the ring blunted his potential, ‘Spaddy’ was a prominent lightweight of the late 90’s and early 00’s and although they never met for real, he shared the ring with Mayweather for a sparring session way back in 1999 that became the stuff of legend.

As seen in the above video, Spadafora clearly got the better of Mayweather in the infamous meeting, after which Mayweather drops to his knees exhausted in his corner, reportedly with a bloodied nose. Spadafora landed a considerable number of left crosses and his conditioning and hand-speed were major factors. To provide some context, the then unbeaten Spadafora was only a few days away from a fight whereas Mayweather wasn’t in camp and as anyone who knows boxing will tell you, sparring and fighting are completely different animals. But that doesn’t change the fundamentals of Spadafora’s boxing and what brought him success against Mayweather in that session.

Floyd’s patented shoulder roll has been a key cog in achieving his status as by far the greatest defensive fighter of his generation and a fantastic counter-puncher, but it’s particularly effective against a fellow right-hander because with his right hand he can block his opponent’s jab or parry and counter over the top with his fabled straight right. The left shoulder then protects his chin from his opponent’s power punches and allows him to deflect them, leaving the opponent open to being hit with Floyd’s right hand on the inside.

Against a southpaw, physics don’t allow either of these fighting permutations however and it’s the backhand of Floyd’s opponent that the right glove is forced to block, which ergonomically is a much more difficult prospect. When you’re talking about a southpaw that has the speed and movement to slip inside Mayweather’s guard, like Judah and Spadafora were at times able to and as you’d expect Pacquiao would, that’s a problem. Add some punching power to that left hand and it’s potentially a nightmare.

manny-pacquiao

Which may well explain why it’s taken this long for the fight of this century to be made. Is Mayweather all of a sudden now accustomed to the southpaw stance? Or, as many feel, is it the case that with few plausible options remaining and with a wave of public pressure like never before, Floyd has been backed into taking the fight with Pacquiao?

As the sport’s biggest cash generator, Mayweather has been able to pick and choose his opponents for years and he has chosen to take on tough challenges, like the Canelo Alvarez fight. Though it’s not in the interest of the fans, few can blame a man in Mayweather’s position for not choosing to fight the man who stylistically could pose the biggest threat to his unbeaten record. Fans and members of the boxing media share some of the responsibility for allowing Mayweather, and other fighters today, to be in a position to choose their opponents.

It’s a business decision, not a fighting one and like Freddie Roach said, even if Mayweather does have concern about Pacquiao’s stance, it’s unlikely he’s actually afraid of the Filipino. He’s a fighter, to this date still an unbeaten one and has overcome all of the obstacles he has had to face before. Though an explosive southpaw could prove to be his kryptonite, there are some stylistic headaches that Mayweather poses for Pacquiao.

Fans of the self-proclaimed ‘best ever’ will cheerfully remind you of the counter right hand that knocked Pacquiao out cold and Juan Manuel Marquez’s combined success against Manny across four meetings. Mayweather and Marquez are very different breeds of fighter but what Marquez has revealed is that a clever counter-puncher can score freely against a Pacquiao with a penchant for charging in and leaving little regard for defence. Also, whereas Mayweather has proven to be highly adaptable in the ring, Pacquiao’s style – whilst brutally effective in most cases – is essentially always the same. Versatility is probably an underrated ingredient in the recipe needed to take Mayweather’s ‘0’.

In short, while there is weight in the argument that Pacquiao provides a stylistic nightmare for Floyd, the same argument can also be made in reverse. Both men possess the tools required to beat the other but for a fight being billed as the “Fight of the Century” you surely wouldn’t expect anything less?

Posted in Features | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 559 other followers

%d bloggers like this: