Left-Hook Lounge: Broner/Maidana II, Mayweather/Pacquiao, Top Rank (Cold War)
Kelvin Y. (Atlanta, GA): It was recently reported that Adrien Broner secured his option to take an immediate rematch against Marcos Maidana. What are your thoughts about his chances of winning the rematch and what a win or loss would do for him in the aftermath?
Vivek W. (ESB): A few weeks ago when Broner was humbled by Maidana, I felt at the time that his best move would be to go down to 140lbs and allow himself to slowly develop into the welterweight division. There’s a huge misconception that just because a fighter walks around at a weight, he can fight at that weight. Broner learned the reality behind this flawed train of thought quickly in the first round when he realized he was standing across from a man who could hurt him that he didn’t have as much ability to hurt in return. I expect the rematch to be very interesting, but unlike many, I don’t know that I really see a different outcome in the end. The biggest issues I saw with Broner in the fight were his inability to adapt, his limited head movement, and what I also perceived to be a conditioning issue.
The biggest problem many fighters have had in trying to adopt the shoulder roll is trying to use it exclusively, in the absence of the other elements that make it a success. If you’re going to use the shoulder roll, you have to employ footwork, lateral movement, and many other attributes that he has shown zero ability to carry out, unfortunately. When you think about the beating he took, and the fact that over 12 rounds he never implemented something as common as head movement, it really makes you wonder whether or not he has that next gear required to find success at the top of a very deep heap at welterweight?
I think this fight is a very dangerous fight for Broner. And I understand the logic of wanting to clean the slate and remove all doubt, but whether he knows it or not, this a very defining moment. A career defining moment, to say the least! But what ‘moment’ will it be? Will this be a “Paul Williams” moment? Or a “Jermain Taylor” moment? One man took his initial loss to heart, went back to the lab, polished his game off, and annihilated his conqueror in a way that left no room for doubt. The other entered the ring with hopes of avenging a loss and saw himself on an even more humbling side of defeat. Unfortunately, that once promising career was no longer the same. For Broner, this is an effect that looms large. He has said all of the right things, but getting in the ring and executing on this level is the part of his game that has shown limitations.
I’d like to think that he has the tools to win this fight. But Maidana will bring nothing less than the best. And after defeating Broner the way he did, he’ll have even more confidence which is a scary thing. The best Broner we can see is a hungry and humbled version. This loss sets the stage for us potentially seeing the best Broner we’ve ever seen. A victory could serve as a launching pad to those mega fights he spoke of before being derailed. A loss, especially by way of a KO or multiple knockdowns again will spell trouble, as few would ever give him respect after the way he spoke and carried on prior to the first loss. I think he realizes this is the proverbial ‘sink-or-swim’ moment for him. All he wants rest in victory. All he fears lies in defeat. Can’t wait to see it all unfold. Stay tuned.
Harold B. (Newark, NJ): Floyd Mayweather has had Manny Pacquiao’s name in his mouth a whole lot lately, but doesn’t want to fight him. What do you think about the latest drama back and forth between the two camps?
Vivek W. (ESB): I’ve monitored this situation closely, and to be very honest, it’s gotten very old, at this stage. Many have decided to continue pointing the finger in one direction or the other. Personally, I take issue with both men to an extent, as well as the one man who lies at the very core of this drama. It’s a very tricky scenario to narrow down, but when you look at all of the details, the reality is pretty clear to see. When this all started, it was about steroid testing. The aftermath of that great debate evolved to everything from money, to popularity (PPV count), and beyond. At this stage, there’s simply nothing productive coming from it. Mayweather had been doing a very good job staying tamed and toned. Lately, he seems to have a renewed interest in belittling a man whom he knows (at this stage) he looms much larger than.
Not only has Pacquiao been reduced in stature within the ring, but outside of it, tax troubles and management struggles have totally taken a toll on him. What troubles me with Mayweather is that before, there was a question (in the mind of some) about which man truly had the upper hand. So, I could understand a need for Mayweather to speak on certain topics and assert his position at that time. But currently, much of what he pointed out has come to fruition and unequivocally, he holds the upper hand. There’s absolutely no need for him to to even speak Pacquiao’s name at this point without being prompted. Mayweather has a great finance team. I only wish his public relations crew was as solid. Mayweather continues to speak publicly about issues that only make him look bad in the end.
For the record, I’ll say that I totally support his position – as it relates to opting NOT to pursue the Pacquiao fight after the lawsuit attempt and other antics. But that being said, I feel the Instagram post and the other attempts to bring humor and shame against Pacquiao by making comments and jokes is without doubt unnecessary. Sitting so high on the throne, I don’t even know why he cares to utter the name Pacquiao. When Top Rank and Team Pacquiao made it very clear that they could make a pretty penny elsewhere and they didn’t need Mayweather or his “demands”, there was never a belief that the good ole days could come to an end. Fast forward two years and two defeats later, and suddenly, all of the request for test are eagerly met, and there’s this amicable, passive nature attached. It’s not good business and I don’t think I would feel compelled to cooperate either.
But that’s no reason to continue to speak his name or stir the pot. I just really think at this stage, Mayweather needs to keep sight of the fact that in the ring, he could have potentially defeated Pacquiao once and only once. But outside of it, he has conceivably defeated him several times! Mayweather didn’t get him to perform the drug test he asked for, yet as the topic has taken over the sport, he has become far more human and appeared less and less threatening. There was no money agreement between the two, but while Pacquiao has seen his money opportunities diminish greatly, Mayweather continues to receive record breaking purses, literally increasing every time he enters the ring. No matter how you cut it up, without ever squaring off, Mayweather has won every single battle between the two. Let that speak for itself. There’s no need for the antics at this stage.
I would advise him to let the results and headlines continue to defeat Pacquiao without his help or energy. Every day it’s something new. The IRS one day, VisionQuest inquiry into his manager the next! Every day, Pacquiao loses this battle more and more, because everything Mayweather said has oddly enough come to fruition. I blame Pacquiao, though it seems everything we hear about his unfortunate luck comes back to the actions of someone else. “Bob Arum and Koncz are ripping him off”. “Alex Ariza was giving him something but he never told him what”. “Freddie Roach should have known if Ariza was giving him something illegal because he’s the trainer”. When is someone going to hold Pacquiao accountable? Seems that everyone is so busy protecting him that they’ve failed at protecting him….as it’s clear (based on recent headlines) that no one is protecting him.
At the end of the day, Pacquiao is a politician and he runs a business (“MP Promotions”). How is it possible that a man once worth millions is so vulnerable to everything from the possibility of being given illegal substances without knowledge, to signing contracts without proper knowledge, and beyond? I find that laughable. If Pacquiao is in the financial struggles that have been reported and he needs to face the one opponent who can get him top dollar, yet he allows someone to prevent it from happening, perhaps he deserves much of what is taking place. We’ve recently seen guys like Andre Ward and Robert Guerrero attempt to fight fire with fire to get out of deals they don’t feel benefit them and their respective careers. If Pacquiao can’t ring the alarm and help himself out, I don’t think anyone can! But the senseless debate has gotten quite old. Time to move on!
Latrell S. (Ocho Rios, Jamaica): With Top Rank pretty much only doing in-house fighting, do you feel they’re running out of fights to promote? And do you think the fact that they promote the brawling style could lead to a shortened career for many of their fighters?
Vivek W. (ESB): I’ll start by saying that I have a great respect for what Bob Arum has done over the years. But when you look at the current state of the sport, and how he has somewhat decided to impede the progress of the sport, it’s a very unfortunate thing, and it can’t possibly go unnoticed. For nearly 5 years now, fight fans have begged to see certain Goldenboy Promotions fighters square off with certain Top Rank fighters. Instead, we’ve seen the development of a cold-war between the two, and while Arum wins at the bank, fans lose in the sport! I don’t know that I would say Top Rank is running out of fights to promote, because they’re currently developing younger guys like Lomachenko and a few Puerto Rican contenders. But definitely, those who were at the top of the heap are quickly evaporating and one could argue most will be gone by end of the year.
It’s a very interesting point you raise about the style of fighters that Top Rank likes to promote, and how it could impact the longevity of their careers. When you think of the top three names on the Top Rank banner over the past few years, you have Cotto, Margarito, and Pacquiao. Of that group, Margarito has been retired after too many wars, Cotto has found new life, but he’s clearly on his last leg, and Pacquiao, who has been the workhorse, is one rugged opponent away from being ushered out of the sport, himself. The mid-range group of guys like Rios, Mikey Garcia, and Nonito Donaire will be able to feast on older, shop worn opponents in the stable that prove very little; and then you have the new school of guys like Lomachenko, Verdejo, and Zhiming, who will be ready to carry the banner as the other groups age their way to the perimeter edge of the sport.
The plight of Arum/Top Rank is to cater to the fan base out there that wants to see the prototypical ‘rock-em-sock-em-robots’, coming straight ahead in a blood and guts battle. That’s good entertainment, but the flipside to that is the fact that the highest paid boxer in the sport (Mayweather) and arguably the most accomplished (Bernard Hopkins), are both the exact opposite of that style. This vast difference in styles has to be taken into consideration if results mean anything. In all major league sports, you have two separate conferences. I’ve resigned to the fact that in Boxing, we now also have two conferences. The Top Rank ‘conference’ and the Goldenboy Promotions ‘conference”. One side entertains with predominantly skilled boxers, while the other side entertains with crowd pleasing fighters.
Fortunately, in all other major league sports we get to see the best of each conference square off. Hopefully we can in boxing, too. Although the losses are typically shutouts, it could help the potentially shortened careers of those guys who continuously land in fire fights like Brandon Rios if he could occasionally sidestep similar opponents and instead face a skilled fighter like a Danny Garcia. Goldenboy Promotions has done a great job of mixing those two worlds. Through Goldenboy Promotions you have cards that include guys like Maidana and Matthyssee, as well as Mayweather and Canelo. Top Rank has Timothy Bradley, Crawford and a few others, but the companies penchant to push rugged talent prevents these guys from truly making a mark. Soon enough, Top Rank may have to end this cold war, because as you stated, there’s very few options left, and NONE worth paying per view. Stay tuned.
Vivek “Vito” Wallace can be reached Tuesday nights on “Left-Hook Lounge Radio” at 9ET. He can also be reached at 954.300.5692, firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook, Twitter (@vivekwallace747), and Instagram (ViveksView).