Left-Hook Lounge: Mayweather (Decision and Legacy), Khan’s Rant, and Bradley/Pacquiao Testing Fiasco!

Melvin A. (Cincinnati, OH): It appears Mayweather will take the Maidana fight. We haven’t seen Mayweather against a really fast fighter since Judah, so I liked Khan as the option. Why Maidana? And how can you explain your Facebook comment that this fight will be “epic”?

Vivek W. (ESB): How can I support Maidana as the option? Pretty easily, actually! In only three words I can lay out a case far stronger than any most would use to combat it: “HE EARNED IT”! I can understand questions relative to how Guerrero, or even Ortiz landed a shot; but with Maidana, there’s no such question. The guy earned it! When we look at Maidana’s past, what I like is the fact that this is a fighter who has been through all the elements of the sport. He has celebrated victory and dealt with the torment relative to defeat. Through it all, he’s still standing, and making great improvement every time he enters the ring. Robert Garcia has done a very admirable job with him, and the victory over Broner was proof of this.

What bothers me most is that fans will see a fighter lose, and respond as if this guy can’t improve or as if he can never make the necessary adjustments to climb his way back to the top of the heap. In one breath, fans hate the fact that the sport is driven around protecting the great “0”, and staying undefeated; but on the flip side, guys will treat a fighter who fell down (early in his career) as if he doesn’t have the right, or the ability to try to get back up! Applying that logic, no one should have an issue with either man, because Maidana is the tougher, more proven fighter, yet Khan defeated him, but some feel he hasn’t proven anything! Both men have their claims to fame, but only one has earned this moment.

Bottom line, Maidana has epitomized the position of a ground troop who has earned this stripe to get a shot at the commanding general! Khan has not. When Khan had a chance to face Alexander, rather than being confident enough in his ability to get the nod, (which would have given him well needed leverage to receive a Mayweather clash), he decided to sit on ice, afraid of a potential outcome that would take him out of contention. Truth of the matter, prior to that Alexander opportunity, he was never really in contention. So opting to sidestep that opportunity left him in the same spot, rather than the one he wished to be in! What’s crazy is that Mayweather hasn’t confirmed anything yet, so we don’t know. Personally, I’d be quite disappointed if he did take the Khan fight. There’s no upside in that option for anyone but he and Khan!

At the end of the day, I think people need to take this all for what it’s worth. If Mayweather pursued the Khan option, the same people saying he should pursue Khan now would say he “took the easy road” by sidestepping Maidana. Now that he has considered Maidana, it’s “Oh, this guys is tailor-made for him”! Bottom line, there are hundreds of welterweights in the world, with about 10 on the main stage for the world to see. I can’t name two of that top 10 who would make an easy night with Maidana across from them. That tells me that if so many fans feel Mayweather can (make easy work of him), as fans, you must give the guy his props and let it die there, as it’s clear few others today are that gifted!

Relative to it being an “epic” night, I stand by the comment. What hardcore fight fans don’t seem to comprehend is that marketing is a powerful thing. I can remember an interview when music mogul Michael Bivins (of R&B Group “New Edition”) was asked how he was able to build such a mainstream phenom of the group he founded (Boyz II Men)? His response hit the nail on the head! He said “any true promoter knows that there’s far more value in Nebraska and Oklahoma than there is in New York City, or Los Angeles”! He went on to say “the base is always gonna be there. But my goal was to get the word out to those areas that everyone else forgets, because when we put them on the map, the whole globe wakes up! Not just a few cities.”! I raise that point to say this:

Building an “epic” night of Boxing isn’t solely about what the hardcore faithful (fans) likes. It’s about generating the type of ‘electricity’ necessary to illuminate that fence-straddling contingent who’s dying for a reason to join the hardcore faithful on Cinco de Mayo by pulling out the punch bowls and partying hard in front a Mayweather flanked big screen like they did last year! All it takes is a few clips of a bulldog like Maidana ripping through Broner for each of them to question “what happens if Mayweather is confronted with a beast like that at age 37?” It’s the biggest night in boxing, it’ll be the biggest PPV event thus far in 2014, and it’ll have the biggest gate-holding thus far in 2014. If that doesn’t constitute “epic”, I don’t know what does.

Chris L. (Tampa, FL): Timothy Bradley is reported to be paying for VADA testing out of his pocket, but there was no mention of Manny Pacquiao participating. Did I miss something or have the two sides mutually decided to take part in different testing?

Vivek W. (ESB): This is a topic I’ve grown tired to discussing, but since I haven’t on a wide scale, I will in very short and specific terms. Just to look at the sequence of events in totality, initially Bradley stated that he extended with Top Rank because they gave him “everything he wanted”. A few days later, the press tour began to promote the rematch with Pacquiao, yet Bradley was quoted as saying “everything is worked out except the drug testing”. He followed that statement by saying he “expects it all to be worked out shortly”. What followed was something that left me totally disgusted! What we learned is that Timothy Bradley, being a clean athlete ready and willing to demonstrate that, has decided to move forward with VADA testing….but here’s the catch:

He’ll pay for the VADA testing out of his own pocket, and he’ll be the only participant. Unfortunately, despite taking the VADA style testing in his previous fight, Pacquiao has decided that VADA is no longer good enough, and instead, he will take the standard Nevada State Athletic Commission testing which is said to be monitored by WADA (World Anti Doping Agency). Anyone familiar with the testing protocol knows that WADA doesn’t actually do testing, they monitor the testing of each jurisdiction (in American it’s USADA, in Jamaica, it’s JADCO, etc). So in an effort to confirm, I did a little research and it was revealed and once again confirmed that the Nevada State Athletic Commission doesn’t have ground troops in the Philippines, so basically, Pacquiao will not do ANY TESTING until he reaches U.S. soil with about two weeks prior to the fight.

That to me is sickening! He took a huge step in following through with testing the in his last fight, but suddenly now, the agency that he claimed to be most credible is the very one he is opting not to work with; instead using the agency with the greatest threshold for error. I don’t agree with (yet can understand) those who gave the alibi in the past that he “shouldn’t have to concede to Mayweather’s demands” by taking a test outside of those called upon by the regular state and sanctioning body. But in this case, Mayweather has no involvement, yet again he has decided to sidestep a true testing protocol in favor of one that comes with mixed signals. I can’t respect that and I definitely detest that! It’s the type of decision that has created this atmosphere of speculation around him, and it doesn’t help that it comes on the heels of his most abysmal performance during his great run!

I respect Pacquiao as a warrior in the sport and a guy who’s heart I adore. But I can now publicly say that what was once a question is now an answer (in my mind): Something is definitely not clean about Manny Pacquiao! There’s no way to reasonably defend this action. If you have nothing to hide, you don’t want cut-off dates, you don’t want questions, and you don’t want speculation. You want participation and vindication! Bradley said he “got everything [he] wanted”. I wonder if he knew that an outlet for his most dangerous opponent to sidestep drug test was part of the package? Sad……

Andersen L. (Sacramento, CA): I’m so sick of Floyd Mayweather’s cherry-picking! How is the guy everyone views as the “best” in the sport allowed to face either Maidana or Khan without having to test himself at middleweight or even jr. middleweight? How is he even in a discussion for a great-of-all-time?

Vivek W. (ESB): When we look down the ledger of Boxing greats, we see many legendary names. Somewhere in the mix of those names is indeed the name Floyd Mayweather. I don’t think my personal opinion on that matter can be quantified right now, because the truth of the matter is that his book is still open. There are somewhere between 2 and 5 fights remaining, and only those fights will tell the tale. Contractually, there are (up to) 4 fights remaining. But a loss and a rematch could spell the end. Just like 4 more contractual victories and one out-of-this-world “swan song” type mega fight with an aim set on the historical #50 could. We don’t know. But no matter where that book finally closes, I think you have to really understand the dynamics of who Floyd Mayweather is to get the answer to your question.

When we speak “legendary” in the world of Boxing, we think Ali, Robinson, Louis, Duran, Leonard, and beyond. When we think of all of those guys, there’s one common element. They are all “fighters”, and they all love the art of a good “fight”. Meaning less “pound-for-pound” (hyperbole); more “pound AND pound”. They liked to bang! I’ve stated before, what makes a fight a fight, is the act of one guy hitting another, and that other guy hitting him back. When I think Floyd Mayweather Jr., I don’t think “fighter”. I think “boxer”, as this is a guy who doesn’t come to get hit. It’s not a “fight” with Floyd! This is a man who comes to “box”. Ali, Duran, and each of those others mentioned loved to get into “fights”, and as a result of letting an opponent rack up points and taking unnecessary punishment in return, each of them suffered defeat.

The Mayweather blueprint is quite simple. The less you get hit, the greater the odds of you winning…..as there’s no way to lose on points if the opponent can’t land…..and there’s less chance of being stopped if you can avoid his heavy hands! For some, that doesn’t work, solely on the strength of the fact that everyone they’ve embraced before did it a different way. My support for Mayweather stems from the fact that while I may not like the business-first acumen outside of the ring, when he enters the squared circle, this is a guy who puts it all together in a way that I have personally never witnessed. Personality conflicts make us overlook some of the things he does that actually gives him a place in that “historical” and “legendary” conversation. Consider this:

“Sugar” Ray Robinson was initially deemed the “pound-for-pound” king for the remarkable feat of being able to find the same level of success against men his size, as well as men who were greater in size. As a welterweight, he was able to take on middleweights and tame them with relative ease, with few exceptions. As daunting as that was in his day, few stop to think about the fact that what he did to make himself historical in the eyes of historians is something Mayweather has done practically his entire career. Back in that era, men fought 3, 4 times per month; so, whatever weight they walked around at, they fought at. Unlike today, fighters didn’t have the luxury of dropping 25 to 30 pounds between fights. So, if Robinson was a welterweight (147lbs) facing a middleweight who weighed in at the limit of 160lbs, on fight night, he gave up roughly 13lbs.

When was the last time we saw Mayweather enter the ring against someone he didn’t give up that much weight to? As far back as his lightweight days, Mayweather has routinely given up between 15-18 or more pounds to his opponent. So, when I hear people say “he should go up and face a middleweight”, I cringe, because by yesteryear’s standard, he already is! Middleweights of today weigh-in at 160, but enter the ring between 170 and about 175. Mayweather has never tipped the scale above 152lbs. Ever. So in effect, what people are saying is that they have such a huge standard for him (based on his skill) that they’d like to see him take on the task of facing an opponent who outweighs him by 20+ pounds (which is something Robinson didn’t even make a habit of). Without admitting it, the only reason fans want that is because nothing else is considered a “risk”.

That’s a hair-splitting analysis of what really sits at the core of this argument. Pacquiao has been the greatest warrior of this era. His biggest victories in his great ascent through the ranks have ALL come with weight stipulations to balance this very same challenge out. It’s all relative! Isolation works on the basketball court, but not in Boxing analysis! Again, I can totally understand the argument about “risk”, but I also understand the principle behind him approaching it this way. As it relates to this fight, Maidana is considered a “cherry-pick” by those who’d rather Floyd give up 20lbs to someone no other fighter (outside the heavyweight ranks) would normally face. I don’t see a way to justify that.

I think Mayweather has made a strong case to land on the proverbial “Mt. Rushmore” of Boxing legends. That said, I still think Maidana is a live dog, because he’s a man that comes to “fight”, in against a man who will use his skills to avoid one! At this level, will is just as important as skill. No one believed Antonio Tarver had the tools to defeat Roy Jones but him. And in the end, that was enough! If Maidana has that same faith, anything is possible! Stay tuned…..

(Vivek “Vito” Wallace can be heard every Tuesday night on “Left-Hook Lounge Radio” at 9ET/6PT. He can also be reached at wallace@boxing247.com, Facebook, Twitter (@vivekwallace747), and Instagram (ViveksView)