Greg H. (Bronx, NYC): Going into the Maidana fight I thought Floyd Mayweather was in for an easy night, but I know you felt it would be tough from the beginning. What were your thoughts about both of their performance? And do you think a rematch is warranted?
Vivek W. (ESB): From the moment this fight was signed, I felt we would get precisely the fight we saw at the end of the night. I was shocked at the odds when they were initially announced, and I was even more shocked to see that they ballooned to the point in which they did by fight night (12:1). I don’t claim to know boxing any better than the next man, but what I learned once again is that the countless hours of film study in the still of the night does make a difference when giving educated feedback. Mayweather has always performed with a certain level of genius; but my logic from day one was that there was no way a precision based puncher who throws one shot at a time could get a decisive victory over a fighter who throws 70 punches per round with power at the end of each one.
A lot of people seemed to be trapped within that ‘swing-for-the-fences’ type technique shown by Mexican slugger Antonio Margarito, and felt “there’s no way this guy stands a chance”. What they didn’t pay close attention to was the evidence I viewed – (again, courtesy of intense film study) – that proved Robert Garcia has gotten much more out of Maidana than anyone in the past. Over the last few fights, Maidana has nearly perfected a very unorthodox double and triple jab, and a more precision based technique for landing those bombs he throws. He has come a very long way from the guy who faced Alexander and Khan in the past. And it was very frustrating for me talking to the fans around the globe who felt this fight was “mismatch”. There was nothing inappropriate about this contest, and the results proved that.
In the past, every time ANY FIGHTER threw more than 50 punches per round against Mayweather, they landed 10 or more shots in that round, for the most part. If you take a power puncher like Maidana, landing more than 10 punches per round can come at a stiff cost that will eventually take its toll on even the strongest. Maidana and Garcia apparently knew this, because he came with no fear and a tireless effort to do something that no other man in the past has been able to do. I commend his effort and I think people need to stop trying to question other things and simply give the guy his due. He had a gameplan and he executed it. It’s the same blueprint that nearly got a skilled fighter like Erislandy Lara in trouble with a skill-less, slow slugger like Alfredo Angulo. It’s the same blueprint that Chavez used in his day.
One other thing that I think many fight fans need to stop doing is trying to find a way to minimize the greatness of Floyd Mayweather. There’s a bit of resentment against him because he hasn’t faced one or two of the men some wanted to see him face; but when you get beyond the personal politics, this guy is head and shoulders above any talent in this era. At age 37, against a rugged young gun with blood dripping down his eye for the first time ever, in the end, he managed to do what he always has: take over when it counts the most! People really need to give this man his just due and accept that he is really that good! We’ve seen him against volume punchers. He overcame. We’ve seen him against power punchers. He overcame. We’ve seen him routinely against men who were much, much bigger. He overcame.
The average fan observes the ring activity of a fighter and forms a very narrow opinion based on that. But it’s quite different story for us journalist who find ourselves penning the same stories. If I removed the name of the most recent opponent and added a blank line, I could insert any name on that line after every fight and the narrative would never change, without fail. Think of all of his career fights, and lets try it: ____________ came out strong and appeared ready in the 1st round. ___________ landed a few shots and it appeared that Mayweather was in for a rough night. After collecting his data and shifting gears, Mayweather won practically every other round of the fight against ___________. Compubox numbers showed that Mayweather connected at 54%, while ___________ on average landed 6 of 30 punches per round, with a low connection rate of 16%.
It has all become very routine, no matter what the style in front of him, and to see that these narratives look the same at 37 as they did at 27 is just a very, very powerful accomplishment. He said in training camp the whole time that he would stay in the pocket and fight Maidana’s fight just like he did Cotto. Both men made it rugged, but only one stayed true to the punches-per-round quota I mentioned (Maidana). And as a result, he made the fight a little more interesting. Should there be a rematch? I don’t think it’s a bad idea, but I will say it’s not necessary. Entertaining? Absolutely. Necessary? Not at all, as he won decisively. Either way, it won’t happen in September, as that’s just 4 months away and his cut will not be healed fully by July to begin sparring. Few have noted this, so let me be the first. It would make no sense, but it will make dollars. Guess we’ll have to see!
Alec H. (Atlanta, GA): I’ve been a huge Amir Khan fan forever, and I really think he put on a great performance. What do you see next for him, and how would you rate his performance?
Vivek W. (ESB: I think this fight told us quite a bit about both Amir Khan and Virgil Hunter, personally. After the Angulo fight, as well as a few others lately, many fans felt that Virgil Hunter was “a bit overrated”, or “not as good as advertised”. My position the whole time was that the only way we’ll ever truly know the worth of Virgil Hunter (or any other trainer) is to see his work with a talent defined enough to execute his plan. Angulo has a great heart and is a strong young fighter; but he simply didn’t have the ‘know-how’ to deliver a plan that requires a certain level of skill and mastery. Khan, on the other hand, is a very solid talent. I’d venture to say that beyond his past chin issues, he’s a very solid talent.
In this particular fight, I thought we saw some growth from Khan. The time away from the spotlight didn’t totally mean time away from the gym. I think the past year off allowed him to physically grow into the welterweight division, and some of the sparring and workouts he’s done over that time reinforced the lessons and required discipline to execute a Virgil Hunter type gameplan. Some don’t understand the depth of it all, but at its best, it’s the equivalence of the legendary NBA Coach Phil Jackson, trying to coach Milwaukee Bucks to a Championship. He may get ‘some’ results, but in the end, he’d need a talent to coach that’s truly capable of reaching that ceiling if the plan is to ultimately blow the roof off of it!
Similarly, I think the only fighter capable of demonstrating the depth of Virgil Hunter’s training could be Andre Ward. Amir Khan has shown great strides and I think he will definitely improve to a level that some felt he may never reach under Hunter. That said, the only thing about Khan that still worries me is his chin. I don’t know what it is or why it is, but he’s a totally different fighter once he gets touched. I knew he had the skills to earn a victory but I knew once he started to get hit, he could be done. Collazo didn’t have the reach, speed, or style to exploit that; but many others could have made that a night to forget! We’ll see where he goes from here, but if I had my way, I’d say Thurman. I know the power of Thurman scares some out there, but Khan’s speed, style, and body punching could totally nullify that. I’d love to find out. (Alexander is a good path, too).
Julian S. (Jacksonville, FL): Adrien Broner is a complete disgrace to Boxing. I was outraged at his comments after the fight and I think he deserves to be fined, if not suspended from action at the least. Can you share your thoughts on his outlandish words?
Vivek W. (ESB): I’ve long held the position that every ‘race card’ is a spade, because the moment it comes out, the ‘game’ is over! Race talk is easily the most sensitive subject in the world today, and the checkered past of this nation quickly surfaces the moment someone reminds us how sensitive that topic is. In this case, it was absolutely a bone-headed thing to say and I don’t think for a second that it should go unnoticed, or unpunished. That said, my question to you, is how do we quantify certain acts and justify action against them when the ridiculous laws of this country inwardly and outwardly support them?
When we look back at the Donald Sterling scenario, as difficult as it was for me to swallow his words and respect his position, I had to, in the sense that he had every right (within our freedom of speech laws) to articulate what he said. Obviously, I don’t support it, but it’s no different than the KKK who are allowed to openly speak in the public sector all around our country. Only difference with Sterling was that he was the owner of a company, so it takes on a totally different perspective when a guy like this is allowed to hire, fire, employ, and enjoy the labors of people whom he wouldn’t be caught dead sitting next to in his free time. That difference is what made Sterling eligible for punishment.
In the case of Broner, I think it was less of what he said, and more of the context and location in which he attempted to say it. I can understand and appreciate a little wordplay from time to time, but his “Can-Man” rhetoric was just not well thought out, at all. For starters, lets revisit his quote: “I’m still Adrien Broner……and anyone CAN get it…..(whether they’re) Africans…..I just beat the f*** out of a Mexi-Can” (and at this point he was halted). When I think of “derogatory racial language” towards Mexicans, I think of the hatred spewed out from KKK members in our country who have used degrading terms like “spics” or “wetbacks”. Those type of comments are totally degrading and should be met with swift punishment.
In this case, he actually referred to the Mexican base according to who they are, (“Mexicans”), but the way he placed his words was more derogatory than the words he chose. It was a stupid comment to make in that context, and the context is what made it racially degrading; which to me is a bit different from an overt racial epithet. That’s my only problem here. I don’t condone it, but I do see it for what it was. A ridiculous young man who was recently humbled, yet apparently not humbled enough! I think he needs help. Perhaps, we should turn Pacquiao loose on him…….since he says he wants it! Who knows……maybe his “big brother” can attempt to avenge that loss, too!