What have you done for me lately?

By Bilal Abood: Any thriving sport today requires a lot of care and attention. What fans and organisations get out of it, in terms of pleasure, fulfilment and revenue is only a reflection of what was put into it in the first place – sustaining and nourishing it from the inside out.

Like a well oiled business, care and money must be pumped back into a burgeoning company to keep it growing. If not, how can it possibly have the legs to support it? But unlike many other sports, boxing is sometimes a victim of greed and carelessness that bites the hand that feeds it. Fights that should be made aren’t, fights that shouldn’t be made are, and fights that are made are on many occasions, pitifully controversial. Why does boxing repeatedly shoot itself in the foot? It isn’t happening in Dana White’s corner; UFC is growing every single day because there are less trivial politics and lining of pockets, but primarily it’s because of one reason. The best fighters meet the best fighters - period. And when they do, the outcome is usually bereft of controversy.

Most recently, boxing fans were shocked when Bernard Hopkins lost his WBC title to ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson and they were shocked when Joseph Agbeko lost his IBF bantamweight title to Abner Mares with an unprecedented amount of low blows going unpunished by the referee. Both referees in both bouts may as well have been watching a wet t-shirt competition, as their inadequacy as officials beggars belief. It’s great that the IBF ordered an instant rematch for the Agbeko v Mares fight, and it’s great that the WBC handed Hopkins his title back, after hindsight did indeed prove to be 20/20 after all. But that’s not really the point is it. The point is why should we, as boxing fans have to put up with such a wet, dreary, inaccurate, incompetent, flaccid and impotent officiating of boxing bouts, when we all pay to see them? It’s not doing the sport any favours. Simply apologising every time you rob a bank isn’t the answer to the problem is it? Perhaps you should get a job. Maybe not at a bank though.
Last Saturday, Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao met for the third time at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, to put an end to the question of who the best really is. The Mexican boxing veteran had long been a thorn in Pacquiao’s boot. And Saturday night was no different. Aside from the fact that Marquez was boxing in HBO’s back yard. Perhaps a back yard to promote Pacquiao. Marquez defeated Pacquiao elegantly, efficiently and decisively. Amir Khan, who was commentating ringside for Primetime had the Mexican clearly in front. He also reportedly told Pacquiao after the fight that he should consider retiring soon to keep his legacy intact, adding, that on the strength of his performance he wouldn’t beat Floyd Mayweather. Manny’s trainer, Freddie Roach had Marquez ahead, as did many other pundits and boxers. Robert ‘The Ghost’ Guererro had Marquez 8-4 over Pacquiao and so did I. The boos, the defeated body language of Pacquiao’s corner, the elation of Marquez’s corner, Primetime and I’m sure Jesus Christ himself had he been watching, all spoke volumes of Marquez’s scintillating and dominating performance over Pacquiao. The attacking style of ‘The Mexicutioner’ was no match for the array of counter punching exhibited by Marquez.

It’s a shame that the three Nevada ringside judges didn’t take their ‘Manny goggles’ off before the fight. A real shame. But hey, that’s what we boxing fans have to deal with. Let’s just accept it as part of the sport, because unless something radical happens to its governance – we all have to pay, and I mean literally, pay for results that ruin fights and in some cases, fighters too.

What we saw was a dazzling display of boxing showmanship from the 38-year-old ‘Dinamita,’ but what we also saw was how vulnerable the seemingly unbeatable Manny Pacquiao can be when faced with the right opponent. Marquez came up in weight the right way this time, and while a little fleshy around the middle, managed to keep a hold of his power and speed to keep Pacquiao honest. If Juan Manuel Marquez was any younger, it would be a given that he should stay in this weight class and cause all kinds of havoc amongst the division. With the guidance of new conditioning coach Angel Hernandez, he has proved that his speed and power have not been compromised. But age is the Grim Reaper of boxing, and there aren’t many people like Bernard Hopkins around.

After seeing Manny constantly lunge in to meet Marquez, clearly being frustrated by the sheer accuracy and impeccable timing of the Mexican’s more telling blows, it’s safe to say that the Philippine has gaping holes in his armour. Let’s not get into Marquez stepping on Manny’s lead foot being a dirty tactic - it happens accidently all the time against southpaws. Marquez is a great defensive fighter, a phenomenal counter puncher and a Mexican warrior. Sure, styles make fights, but it wasn’t style that won this one. If Manny’s offensive style failed to adjust to that kind of a boxer, Floyd Mayweather may eat him for breakfast. Not only is Floyd regarded as the best defensive fighter of our generation, he is also a masterful counter puncher and has the ability to actively adapt his fight plan in the ring. After seeing this fight, I shouldn’t think Mayweather need worry about drug testing Pacquiao. It doesn’t matter.

So on with the never ending pipe-dream of Pacquiao v Mayweather. I could be wrong but I have to be honest, a little of its enigmatic outcome has been robbed from me. If Mayweather trains as hard as he always does for the fight, and we all know he will, he’ll simply take Manny Pacquiao apart from the seams. But the inaugural wheels of destiny must career onwards and upwards to the dizzying heights of a much anticipated record breaking fight between the two. Even at the expense of a legendary Mexican’s career last Saturday. The potential fight would not have fared well had Pacquiao’s 14 unbeaten streak been marred by a defeat on the road to Mayweather. Nevada wouldn’t have it.

There are upsets, and then there are upsets. I on the other hand, am just upset.
Boxing may be making the filthy rich, but it is in debt to us all.

Article posted on 20.11.2011

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