April 7, 2015

KO's Ringside Notes & Quotes VII — Countdown to Mayweather VS Pacquiao

By Jeffrey Freeman, KO Digest 

April 6 — No press tour for Mayweather vs Pacquiao is a mistake.

The "biggest fight in boxing history" is just 27 days away and I bet you haven't heard it being talked about at the water-cooler once. Superfights are supposed to get the world talking and the people buzzing. Well, the world is awfully quiet about this one. The "big lie" in this promotion (if you can even call it a promotion) is the notion that this fight "sells itself" so they don't have to even bother. Nothing but drugs and hookers sell themselves in Las Vegas. Boxing matches, even really big ones, still need to be hyped, especially in a down economy. The truth is, boxing just does not matter to the world like it once did. Of course, addicted boxing fans will buy it like a strung out junkie buys heroin and cigarettes but most people are not addicted to boxing and most people don't care one way or another because there's no reason for them to care. Nobody is selling it to them as the "Fight of the Century", only assuming they'll buy it for whatever price they ultimately decide on for the pay-per-view. Ali vs Frazier or Hagler vs Hearns this is certainly not. Those were highly anticipated global events made even bigger and more fun by proper promotion. Then the fights themselves were amazing. Bottom line, Americans don't support Floyd Mayweather across nationalistic lines and Manny Pacquiao is from a far away land that most people don't care to understand.

Mayweather, 38, against Pacquiao, 36, on May 2 is an overdue money grab and the fight itself comes with a high probability of being boring to the eyes. The least they could do is make the build-up exciting for fight fans and enticing to mainstream sports fans who long ago abandoned boxing. KO still loves it though and here's what to expect in Vegas. 

KO Digest Previews Mayweather vs Pacquiao

Money Meeting Manny in Miami 
First and foremost, this match-up will be about offense versus defense.

Manny will be the more aggressive fighter. Floyd will be the more defensive boxer. The product of these styles, and how well they are imposed, will determine a winner. We'll see a super fast Superfight, a southpaw against right handed counterpuncher. Don't expect to see Mayweather's lead right land with regularity. That punch won't be there for Money because Manny won't be there to get hit with it. Floyd's jab will have to be razor sharp and his left hooks hard and accurate. Pacquiao must be a non-stop punching machine from every angle he can wrangle. The Filipino promises to break Floyd's D and take his O.  

Pound For PoundIrish Micky Ward talks to KO about the best fighter on the planet — "There's only one Floyd Mayweather. Everyone tries to be like him, he's the best. He's leaps and bounds ahead of everyone even at his age. It's incredible how he works so hard, that's why he is who he is. People don't see how dedicated that kid is. He's proven himself over and over."

Opponents often speak of how tiring it is to keep up with Pacquiao in the ring. American Tim Bradley has elite level conditioning and was exhausted after four rounds in both of his fights against Pacquiao. If Manny can "beat the brakes" off Mayweather early and wear him out, the fight will be his for the taking. If Mayweather can impose his defensive advantages and turn them into offensive opportunities, he will win the bout on points. What I am expecting is a legacy struggle. Both combatants are in that rarest of position in the sport of boxing where a win is worth so much more than just a world title belt or a better place in the current pound for pound ratings. This one is for "all time" history and perhaps it will be the fighter most aware of what's truly at stake who will win.

Head to Head
Ten Key Categories

Defense: Mayweather
Power: Pacquiao
Chin: Mayweather
Accuracy: Mayweather
Hand Speed: Pacquiao
Legs: Mayweather
Foot Speed: Pacquiao
Training Quality: Pacquiao
Elite Experience: Pacquiao
Counterpunching: Mayweather

PREDICTION: Does it help to carry the hopes and dreams of an entire nation into battle with you? Can Mayweather beat Pacquiao—and "Pride of Dedham, MA" Freddie Roach? Yes and no. Pacquiao somehow scores a tricky balance knockdown early for a critical 10-8 round and wins a close split decision. Offense overcomes defense but not by much. There will be those who say Mayweather won and those who agree with the Las Vegas judges. Maybe there will be a rematch and maybe there won't be, but when history looks back on the whole of Mayweather and Pacquiao, it will remember who tried to avoid the fight—and who finally won it.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Someday they'll get it on and settle it then
Amir Khan still doesn't want to fight Tim Bradley. It's now being reported that Khan turned down a proposed 2015 Bradley bout in favor of facing Chris Algieri. Back in 2011, when Bradley was in training for the Joel Casamayor fight, I asked "Desert Storm" about Khan, queried who's ducking who, and quizzed Bradley on their history of going back and forth but never fighting.

Bradley told KO, "One day, me and Khan will get it on in the ring and we can settle it then but I was supposed to fight Khan way before, in fact I was supposed to fight him after I fought Lamont Peterson but then Khan went on to sign with Golden Boy and Golden Boy didn't want no part of it. He ducked me first! We tried to make the deal, we kept calling but they never picked up. When the time is right, me and Khan will settle our differences, and we're gonna get it on."

According to King Khan, the time is still not right.

Lee is a never say die Irish warrior
Irish Eyes Are Smiling -- WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee keeps his promises and lives up to the lofty expectations that were set for him by late trainer and mentor Emanuel Steward. Back in 2011, when he was getting ready for the Brian Vera rematch (Vera stopped Lee in seven rounds back in 2008) I asked Lee about his recent do-or-die win against Craig McEwan in March of that year. After having live covered that memorable battle at MGM Grand Foxwoods, I was interested in Lee's outlook on the sport of boxing and where he sees himself fitting in. Are you a come-from-behind brawler or really a boxer? 

Lee told me, "I have shown in the past that I have what it takes to do both. I showed that I have what it takes to come back and dig in at the end. That [win over McEwan] gave me great belief in myself that if I have to do that, no matter how desperate the situation, I have it inside myself. There is no quit in me. I'll keep fighting until the end. If I have to go to war, I'll go to war."

Lee faces Peter Quillin on April 11 in Brooklyn on NBC.