Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pound-for-Pound Update 9-18-14

With the recent action in the flyweight division, there have been a number of changes to the Saturday Night Boxing pound for pound list. Here are the updates:

Roman Gonzalez (3, previous rank 9):  With his dominant ninth-round knockout over lineal flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi earlier this month, Gonzalez has now won titles in three divisions and also holds key victories over Juan Estrada (who will be listed below) and Francisco Rodriguez Jr. (the #1 strawweight). At 40-0 with 34 KOs (including 10-0, 6 KOs in world title fights), Gonzalez, from Nicaragua, continues to ascend the pound-for-pound rankings. He moves up six spots from #9 to #3. 

Juan Estrada (11, previous rank 17): Earlier in September, Estrada knocked out hard-hitting Giovani Segura in the 11th round, capping off an impressive 18 months where he has defeated former pound-for-pound fighter Brian Viloria and flyweight contenders Milan Melindo and Richie Mepranum. Estrada, from Mexico, features an impressive combination of pure boxing skills, athleticism and power. He rises six spots on the Saturday Night Boxing Top-20 Fighters list to #11. 

The complete Saturday Night Boxing pound-for-pound list is below:
  1. Floyd Mayweather
  2. Andre Ward
  3. Roman Gonzalez
  4. Wladimir Klitschko
  5. Manny Pacquiao
  6. Juan Manuel Marquez
  7. Tim Bradley
  8. Guillermo Rigondeaux
  9. Carl Froch
  10. Bernard Hopkins
  11. Juan Estrada
  12. Adonis Stevenson
  13. Miguel Cotto
  14. Danny Garcia
  15. Gennady Golovkin
  16. Anselmo Moreno 
  17. Nonito Donaire
  18. Saul Alvarez
  19. Takashi Uchiyama
  20. Mikey Garcia 

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of saturdaynightboxing.com.
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter
Follow Saturday Night Boxing on Facebook:

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Opinions and Observations: Mayweather-Maidana II

In politics, the power of incumbency provides significant advantages for the current officeholder or ruling party. In the U.S., congressmen get free franking (mailing) privileges for official business. They have access to sensitive information and special interest groups that outsiders do not. Fundraisers backed by powerful lobbies and well-heeled donors ensure that elected officials amass significant war chests for future campaigns, often before challengers even emerge. Officeholders can generate free media publicity throughout their terms, appearing at public events and on television, hosting town halls, and releasing official statements – all of which better connect them with their constituents. Gerrymandering (the drawing of legislative districts) helps make it easier for members of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislators to win election after election. Incumbents can limit the number of official debates with political foes, reducing opportunities for an opponent to gain exposure. It's not that challengers never win, but the political system is rigged against them.  

Now boxing isn't merely politics. A fighter must beat the other in the ring. All the power, influence and special interests lined up behind a big star cease to matter if the boxer is knocked out into another galaxy.
 
But political factors certainly can help a fighter in a match. Where will the fight take place, home or on the road? How big is the ring? Who are the officials? All of these deal points can help or hinder a fighter – the more power that a boxer commands in the sport, the more that these factors are negotiated by his management to create an advantage. And for Floyd Mayweather, boxing's number-one star, these negotiations can lead to significant advantages. By generating the most money in the sport, Floyd is always in the position to dictate terms to his opponents.
 
Backed by the strongest management in the business and a television network owned by an enormous media conglomerate, Mayweather has a power of incumbency in boxing that is unrivaled. His influence in his home jurisdiction of Nevada has delayed prison sentences and curried favor with the state athletic commission. Turn in a bad card against him and a boxing judge will lose her job (which never happens in the sport). He'll pick the gloves, the size of the ring, an opponent's financial split and how and when fights will officially be promoted. Team Mayweather will lobby successfully for the assignment/removal of specific referees and judges for his bouts.
 
The money and power behind Mayweather directly help him win fights. Somehow his team convinced the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) to ban Marcos Maidana's custom-made Everlast MX gloves (which favors power punchers) before their first fight in May. For the rematch, Maidana again had to wear Everlast Powerlock gloves (a more neutral model). And the ring looked enormous on Saturday. Although I didn't see an official measurement, from TV it seemed to be larger than the 20-ft. standard, which helps a boxer like Mayweather, who relies on movement.
 
Perhaps Team Mayweather's most successful lobbying effort for the rematch was the NSAC's assignment of Kenny Bayless as the referee. In the first Mayweather-Maidana fight, the referee was Tony Weeks, who is known for being laissez-faire. He'll let fighters work on the inside and isn't necessarily keen on deducting points. His style of officiating helped Maidana, who was successful in the trenches at many point of the fight. Using a mauling style and a free hand to hit Mayweather with right hands and left hooks, he gave Floyd a very tough – and rough – fight.
 
Team Mayweather voiced its displeasure with Weeks' performance in the bout, castigating the ref for permitting an MMA-like atmosphere within the ring. Mayweather's side constantly worked the media about Maidana's roughhouse tactics. Even though Team Mayweather had won the fight, these public exclamations were designed to affect future proceedings; and they certainly did.
 
In Saturday's rematch, Kenny Bayless broke up the action at the first sign of a clinch, often when one of the fighters – almost always Maidana – had a free hand and could still do work. Bayless' actions helped to change the tenor of the rematch significantly. With fewer opportunities on the inside, Maidana had to spend more time at range, where he is far less effective. In addition, Bayless took an unnecessary point away from Maidana for low blows.
 
Yes, the deck was certainly stacked against Maidana for the rematch, with Team Mayweather winning the Fight Before the Fight. But both boxers still needed to perform in the ring and Maidana just didn't do enough to win. His punch volume was significantly lower than it was in the first match and he lacked his customary ferocity. With the action mostly in the center of the ring, Floyd landed the better shots, used his defense and legs to avoid prolonged skirmishes and was very sharp with power counters. It was the typical late-period Mayweather performance.
 
In essence, Floyd fought on Saturday the way that he should have done in May: avoiding the ropes and inside exchanges, tying up whenever possible and using the ring to his advantage. Without a target directly in front of him, Maidana often looked feckless. However, when Mayweather stood in front of Maidana for brief periods on the ropes, he got hit hard. Mayweather used his athleticism against Maidana because he had to; he needed to minimize a war at all costs. At the end of the match, Mayweather won a unanimous decision with scores of 116-111 (x2) and 115-112 (I had it for Mayweather 118-109).
 
It was a pedestrian fight, with the lone exception being an incident in the eighth round where Maidana appeared to bite Mayweather's left hand during a clinch. Interestingly, Bayless deducted no points for this foul, or for Mayweather using his forearm to hold down Maidana's head during the clinch.  

Ultimately, the night was unsatisfying. With a terrible undercard that featured cynical matchmaking, unworthy challengers, little action and an egregious scorecard that smacked of incompetence or corruption (more on that later), boxing did not shine on Saturday. The pay per view card was another reminder to boxing fans of how their fandom can often resemble masochism. There was "Mayhem" on Saturday, but only in an internal sense, with boxing fans beating themselves up about why they paid $75 for such mediocre entertainment. The one saving grace of the evening was the gallows humor found on social media, but that can only stave off fans' self-flagellation for so long.
 
On a final note, judge Robert Hoyle's 119-109 scorecard in favor of Mickey Bey over Miguel Vazquez in one of the undercard fights was the single-worst scorecard that I have seen since Dr. James Jen-Kin's 120-106 tally for Abner Mares against Anselmo Moreno in 2012. Vazquez-Bey was a lightweight title fight. Bey, who fights out of the Mayweather gym in Las Vegas and was an undeserving challenger, did very little in the first nine rounds of the fight. Bewildered by Vazquez's herky-jerky rhythms and movement, Bey landed hardly anything of substance throughout most of the fight. Yes, the match was awful to watch but it was thoroughly impossible to give Bey 11 rounds of the bout legitimately. I scored it 116-112 for Vazquez and most observers had Vazquez winning a close fight.  

Hoyle, who is from Las Vegas, has a significant bias in favor of Las Vegas-based fighters. His 116-111 scorecard in favor of hometown challenger Diego Magdaleno against Roman Martinez was egregious (Martinez won the decision) and his 117-111 card for Jessie Vargas (another Vegas-based boxer) over Khabib Allakhverdiev was far too generous to the local fighter.
 
Hoyle's performance on Saturday was worse than C.J. Ross' draw card for Mayweather-Alvarez (Ross was the aforementioned judge who lost her job after turning in a terrible score for a Mayweather fight). However, Vazquez doesn't have Mayweather's political juice behind him. Senators and state officials won't be calling the NSAC demanding action. In all likelihood, Hoyle will face no repercussions for his malfeasance. If there were any equity in boxing, Hoyle would never work again. But this is no time for fantasy. In truth, wagons will be circled. Political in-fighters will continue to in-fight. The train will keep on a-rollin'. It makes me want to scream. 

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of saturdaynightboxing.com.
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Contact Adam at saturdaynightboxing@hotmail.com
@snboxing on twitter
Follow Saturday Night Boxing on Facebook:

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mayweather-Maidana II: Keys to the Fight

Saturday brings the rematch between pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather (46-0, 26 KOs) and hard-charging challenger Marcos Maidana (35-4, 31 KOs). In their first fight in May, Maidana had significant success early on by pushing Mayweather against the ropes and landing his overhand right in close quarters. By the second half of the bout, Mayweather kept the action in the center of the ring and consistently landed the better punches. Mayweather wound up winning the match by a majority decision, and he deserved the nod. However, boxing fans were unaccustomed to seeing Mayweather take the type of punishment that he did against Maidana. 

For the rematch, Maidana has emphasized better conditioning and a lighter fight-night weight. Maidana and his trainer Robert Garcia believe that these changes will give their team a better chance to win a decision. On the Mayweather side, Floyd's trainer and father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., has suggested that they also will use different tactics in the rematch but Floyd Senior has been coy about specifics. (I would imagine that a major change would involve staying off of the ropes). 

Will Maidana's improved conditioning be the final piece of the puzzle for him to earn a victory over the sport's best or will Mayweather's intelligence, accuracy and adaptability be enough to keep him on top of the boxing world? Read below for the keys to the fight. My prediction will be at the end of the article. 

1. What can Maidana do in the center of the ring?

It's pretty clear that Mayweather will try to keep the fight in the center of the ring. In the second half of their fight in May, it was Mayweather who had more answers from distance. From range, Maidana was able to land some jabs but he couldn't consistently connect with power shots. 

For Maidana to have a prayer of winning a decision (he still has the crushing right hand that can knock anyone out at welterweight), he's going to have to figure out how to hit Mayweather at mid-range and from distance. His best approach will be to vary his attack – he’ll need to use his whole arsenal, including feints, jabs (to the head and body) lead right hands and the occasional left hook, to have some success. 

I'm sure that Maidana will still look to push Mayweather to the ropes and/or get him in close range whenever possible, but Mayweather will try to limit these opportunities. Without sustained effectiveness from the outside, it will be very tough for Maidana to win a decision. 

2. Does Floyd still have his legs?

At 37 and with 46 professional fights under his belt, can Floyd still maneuver himself around the ring to avoid trouble the way that he did earlier in his career? On paper, Maidana seemed like a fairly easy opponent for Mayweather. A straight-line fighter with a limited arsenal, Maidana was the type of foe that Floyd should have been able to defeat with his superior athleticism and ring generalship. However, that certainly wasn't the case early in their first fight. 

For Mayweather to win the rematch more comfortably than he did in May, he needs to reduce Maidana's punch volume and take away his best weapons – by that I mean anything from close range. Mayweather can best do that by staying away from the ropes and using the ring to his advantage. When Maidana has to track down an opponent, he can look ordinary. But with a willing fighter standing in front of him, Maidana morphs into a beast. I'm sure that Floyd and his camp know these things but can Mayweather still execute such an athletic game plan at his advanced ring age? If not, he is in for a dogfight, like their first match. 

3. Switching tactics.

Yes, Floyd got beat up pretty badly on the ropes during the first third of their fight in May. Part of that can be attributed to Maidana's fearlessness, unrelenting pressure and odd-angled power shots. However, I also believe that Floyd went to ropes on purpose. He thought that he could hurt Maidana coming in and that success in this area would dissuade the Argentine from mounting an aggressive attack later on in the fight; he wanted to beat Maidana at his own game. Obviously, that approach wasn't altogether successful. Mayweather ate a ton of flush shots in the first four rounds, something that he certainly looks to avoid. 

In the second half of the fight, Mayweather did a fine job of spinning out of trouble along the ropes, demonstrating that it wasn't just Maidana trapping him there. Floyd could get away from Maidana when he wanted to; his insistence on fighting toe-to-toe early enabled many of those successful moments from Maidana. So, let's credit Maidana for landing a lot of hard shots in the first fight, but let's also attribute some of that success to a rare case of poor tactics from Mayweather. 

For the rematch, Maidana has talked about pacing himself better throughout the fight. The punch stat numbers from their first match showed a noticeable drop-off in activity after the first six rounds. In assessing his performance from May, Maidana correctly realized that his conditioning was one area that he could certainly improve upon in the rematch. 

I expect that we will see far less grappling and fewer clinches along the ropes on Saturday. In theory, that should be beneficial to Mayweather. However, if Maidana can retain his firepower in the second half of the fight, then it's certainly possible that the complexion of the rematch will be significantly different from their first meeting. 

4. Body shots.

The one piece of coherent advice that I heard from Floyd Mayweather Sr. during the first fight was "Keep going underneath." And frankly, Mayweather's body shots were devastating and may have had as much to do with Maidana's drop in effectiveness in the later rounds than any potential conditioning issues. In the rematch, I expect to see Mayweather continue to go the body with jabs, right hands and left hooks. Maidana does have the heart of a true warrior, but not always the physique. Mayweather will keep going to the body, but will Maidana be able to take those shots better in the rematch?

Maidana is a vicious body puncher at close range. Maidana's left hook to the body was a real weapon early in their first fight. Although Mayweather took those punches pretty well, Maidana should keep going to the body on Saturday whenever he gets a chance. At 37, who knows when Mayweather's body might betray him and punishing him downstairs will be great way to find out.

5. Conditioning.

Part of what makes Mayweather so tough to beat is that he is always the better conditioned fighter. He almost always gets stronger as fights progress. He looks for signs of degradation in his opponents' conditioning and after spotting them he starts to unload more of his offensive arsenal, providing yet even more complications for his foes. 

For Maidana to win on the cards, he must maintain his work rate and pressure throughout 12 rounds. He can't conserve energy and fight in 45-second spurts, which he has often done against other opponents. But can Maidana successfully close the conditioning gap? Can he still be a factor late in the fight? Will he have enough left to win the championship rounds? He'll have to make a marked improvement in his conditioning from the first fight to beat Mayweather late in the match. 

Prediction:

There are a number of factors to consider for the rematch: 1. Floyd may have overlooked Maidana in their first fight and/or Maidana's pressure and determination surprised him. 2. Maidana has vastly improved under Robert Garcia. 3. Floyd was able to adapt fairly well to Maidana in the second half of the bout. 4. Mayweather most likely won't spend as much time at close range as he did in May. 5. Floyd is 37 and not getting any younger. 

My prediction will ultimately be splitting the difference of these countervailing trends. I think that Mayweather pulls the fight out with superior accuracy in the center of the ring and sharper punching. However, I'm not sure that he will be able to keep Maidana away from him for 12 rounds. Ultimately, Mayweather's tactical changes from the first fight, superior hand speed and punch placement will lead him to victory. 

Floyd Mayweather defeats Marcos Maidana 116-112, or 8 rounds to 4.


Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of saturdaynightboxing.com.
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Contact Adam at saturdaynightboxing@hotmail.com 
@snboxing on twitter
Follow Saturday Night Boxing on Facebook:

www.facebook.com/SaturdayNightBoxing 

Friday, August 22, 2014

SNB Mailbag

It's time for another edition of the Saturday Night Boxing Mailbag. All questions were submitted to the Saturday Night Boxing Facebook Forum. There’s lots of great stuff here, so let's get to it. 

Al Haymon

Is Al Haymon's position in the sport a danger to boxing?
Kram Sanoraa
London

There have always been kingmakers in boxing who have tried to control the sport (and not just King, Don). As much as they attempt to obtain a stranglehold over certain divisions and television networks, the sport marches on. Haymon is just "that guy" right now. Although I disagree with a number of Haymon's tactics, he has done a very good job of getting his best guys on TV. 

Frankly, there are too many talented fighters in the sport for boxing to be in serious danger. Remember, Haymon only has a foothold in the North American market. Boxing thrives throughout the world. I would argue that the sport is currently healthiest outside America, far removed from Haymon's machinations. Even with that said, there is still adequate competition in the U.S. market. I don't see Al Haymon's current status as a long-term threat to boxing in America. Boxing has had a number of self-inflicted wounds in the U.S. and I don't see Haymon as chief among them. 

In a perfect world, I'd like to see Haymon challenge his boxers more and make better fights. In addition, he could certainly surround himself with higher caliber boxing people who could help enhance the development of his fighters. 

On another note, Haymon doesn't become the force that he is without docile TV networks executives bending to his will. With a less permissive atmosphere at Showtime, suddenly Haymon's fighters would be matched tougher. HBO had a similar problem with Haymon before the network jettisoned him from its airwaves in 2013. 

Do you think fighters are being developed right today?
Kirk Brown
Montego Bay, Jamaica

That's a tough question to answer because there are certainly good and bad examples in contemporary boxing. I'll just say this: with four title belts per division these days, it's a much easier path to become a "champion" than it was generations ago. Thus, the top 15-guys in a division are really only a fight or two away from a belt. This reality produces a lot of incentives (for boxers, promoters and managers) to protect a fighter's ranking and can certainly hinder a boxer's development.

Some promoters, such as Top Rank, do an excellent job of developing fighters. But there are other companies and management teams who like to take shortcuts to the top. I believe that a number of fighters who are managed/advised by Al Haymon have fallen into this category. Talents such as Jermain Taylor, Andre Berto, Danny Jacobs, Adrien Broner, Gary Russell Jr. and others have fallen short of their ultimate potential because they weren't put in very tough during their development. However, there are Haymon fighters, such as Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia, who I believe have been developed well, but I think that they are more of the exception than the rule. 

Belts, weight classes and sanctioning bodies

Are all of the weight classes necessary, for example, 112, 115, 118, 122, 126 and 130?
Armando Torres Ruiz
San Juan

I don't have a real problem with it. I think that the four belts per division water down the sport more than the various weight classes do. And frankly, there are excellent fighters at each of the weights that you have mentioned. The main problem is that not enough of them face each other. 

Why aren't people attracted to lighter weights (minimum weight, light flyweight, etc.) considering there is often more action in those fights?
Anto Connolly
Dublin

In certain countries, such as Japan and Mexico, boxers from smaller weight classes have become huge stars. In other parts of the world – for example, America – fighters from the lighter weights have struggled to catch on with boxing fans, let alone casual sports fans at-large. There are notable exceptions both ways but historically it's been a cultural difference. 

However, your essential point is right; there's no reason why smaller-weight fighters can't attract more attention. A lot of television networks are risk-averse. Their programmers believe that boxing fans don't want to see smaller fighters so then these boxers are never put on-air. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. Luckily, the internet makes it easier for boxing fans around the world to watch smaller fighters. 

Two very attractive lower-weight fights take place in September: Akira Yaegashi-Roman Gonzalez and Juan Estrada-Giovani Segura. Sadly, the major U.S. networks won't be televising either fight, but boxing fans can now see these matches live on their computers; at least we have that option now. I keep waiting for the U.S. networks to come around to the flyweight division, which may be the best weight class in boxing, but it hasn't happened yet.  

Which sanctioning body has the most credibility?
Brandon Pierce
Council, North Carolina

I'm assuming that you want something other than "none" as your answer. Currently, I believe that the IBF does the best job of following its rules and being transparent in its administration. Historically, the IBF has been plagued by corruption but it has recovered well under President Daryl Peoples. I don't agree with everything that the IBF does; for instance, I still can't understand how the organization let Lamont Peterson keep his belt after testing positive for enhanced levels of testosterone, but the IBF has distinguished itself over the other bodies in the past five years. Granted, that's faint praise at best. 

In your opinion, which is THE main championship belt today? Is it the IBF, WBC, WBA, WBO or The Ring title?
Deepak Ramesh
Chennai, India

Of the ones you listed, I believe that fighters who attain The Ring belt have the most legitimacy. As far as the other sanctioning organizations, the boxer makes the belt and not the other way around. I don't care if Klitschko has an "official" title or not – he’s number-one in the division.  

In terms of the best rankings in boxing, permit me to make a shameless plug for the Transnational Boxing Rankings (I am a member of its board). The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board is a collection of boxing writers from around the world who rank the top-10 fighters in each division. And trust me; we take this task seriously – probably way too seriously! All joking aside, I think that our rankings are as fair and just as you will find in the sport. Check it out at www.tbrb.org.

Do you think there should be one champion per division or are you fine with the four that there are now?
Sean Charleston

Obviously, I would prefer one champion in each division over the current scenario. It would create more meaning within boxing, which would provide clarification for fans and make the sport easier to understand for those who are less familiar with it. One champion would be a great way to help grow the sport. 

However, there are some important historical reasons why multiple sanctioning bodies exist. First of all, with only one champion, it becomes easy to avoid a particular challenger or freeze him out of the division. Second, with just one belt, the incentives for corruption would be astronomical. If you think that sanctioning body politics are crazy now, just wait until there is one champion per division – lots of cash in manila envelopes.

Honestly, I don't think that either scenario is ideal.  For a number of decades, Japan only recognized the WBC and the WBA (they have since recognized a third organization) and I believe that two champions is probably the best model for the current state of boxing. With two belts, fighters could still get a crack at the top but the divisions wouldn't get so watered down. Let's go with two organizations. 

What is the reason/meaning of a WBC silver belt (besides a sanctioning fee)?
Ricardo Guevara
Mountain View, California

There is only one instance where it makes sense. In many jurisdictions, in order to have a 12-round fight, one of the major sanctioning bodies has to support it. Thus, if Andre Ward wanted to fight a 12-round tune-up bout, he would need the approval of one of the sanctioning organizations for that to occur. Essentially, without a title or a title eliminator on the line, boxing has migrated to 10-round fights. The silver belt, in theory, permits boxers to take a 12-round fight against a lesser opponent. But you're right; in practice, the silver belt functions merely as a cash grab for the WBC. 

Heavyweights

Will Wladimir Klitschko man up and fight Deontay Wilder before he retires?
Todd Metcalfe
Mount Dora, Florida

I have two answers to that: 1. With the exception of his brother, Wlad has fought practically every big name out there during his title reign. 2. What exactly has Wilder accomplished to this point that Wlad needs to "man-up" about? 

Will the heavyweight division ever be the money division again?
Louis Phillips
Leigh-on-Sea, England

In terms of money, the top heavyweights still make a very good living and Wladimir Klitschko is probably the third highest-paid fighter in the sport after Mayweather and Pacquiao. But you probably mean "money" like glamour. I'll respond by saying that the sport is cyclical. Some divisions go through ruts but frankly, the heavyweight division is a lot more interesting now than it was five years ago. There are a number of heavyweights who could make excellent fights, including Stiverne, Fury, Wilder, Haye, Chisora, Jennings, Povetkin and Pulev. British prospect Anthony Joshua could be right there in another two years. I don't know how many of these guys beat Klitschko, but they could make some great fights in the meantime. 

But will the heavyweight division every capture the imagination of the sports fan the way that it did in previous generations? In parts of the world where Klitschko is popular, I'm sure that it's happening right now. Klitschko's TV ratings are astronomical in Germany and he sells out huge arenas wherever he fights. 

For those not in Central and Eastern Europe, we're still waiting for that perfect mix of talent, power and charisma to emerge. I'm not sure when that fighter will arrive or if that person is currently boxing, but I wouldn't bet against it happening soon. As I said earlier, the sport is cyclical. Keep hope alive!

Mayweather

Do you think a Mayweather loss will hurt his PPV numbers in the future?
Manny Dominguez
Lake Grove, New York

Well, a loss doesn't help. Pacquiao is a great example. His numbers have yet to recovery from his drubbing against Marquez. It also would depend on what kind of loss. If Mayweather gets robbed or loses in a controversial fashion, I wouldn't think that his numbers would necessarily plummet. 

Who would win in a trash talk between Mayorga and Mayweather?
Victor Hernandez
Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Mayorga. Easily. He would win in dos rounds. 

Potpourri

With the Golden Boy vs. Top Rank war, do you think we will ever see the best from one company face the best of the other?
Robert Salinas
Laredo, Texas

Both Bob Arum (Top Rank) and Oscar de la Hoya (Golden Boy) have spoken about doing business together in the near future. However, with the exception of a purse bid (where one company essentially wins the services of another boxer for one fight), a joint Golden Boy-Top Rank promotion has yet to materialize. But with the shifting landscape in boxing and HBO's new-found willingness to bring back Golden Boy fighters on its airwaves, I do think it will happen – maybe not often, but if the opportunity is right, every once in a while.

How good is GGG?
Cam Beaton
Calgary, Canada

Very good. He clearly is one of the most gifted offensive fighters in the sport. He has tremendous knockout power, excellent footwork, a large arsenal of punches, good training habits and a desire to become the best. 

The top test for him right now is Andre Ward at 168 lbs. Ward's athleticism, punch variety and inside fighting skills would be a significant challenge for Golovkin. But let's be honest; neither fighter has really tried to make that fight happen. Until it does, Golovkin will continue to wow audiences and win fans with his knockouts of B-level opponents. 

Hopefully by 2015, we will have a more complete understanding of just how good Golovkin is in the ring. Is he a top-10 pound-for-pound guy? A top-5 guy? Right now, we just don't know. But I really want to find out!

What could Nathan Cleverly do to revive his career?
Jason Davies
Wales

1. Cleverly needs to better understand his strengths and weaknesses. He has excellent hand speed and movement yet he likes to stand and trade in the middle of the ring, giving bangers who lack his athletic skills a chance to beat him. He has already brought in a new head trainer, which is a good thing, but I don't think that we'll really see him progress until he realizes that his future is as a boxer. His stubbornness has held him back in my opinion. 

2. Beat Tony Bellew in their rematch. 

Who would you say is the best ever British boxer?
Craig Hart
Tayport, Scotland

I'd have to go with Bob Fitzsimmons (1863-1917). He won titles at middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight back when there was only one true champion per division. Although Fitzsimmons accomplished his greatest professional triumphs in Australia and America, he was born in the U.K. and did spend his formative years there before moving to New Zealand.  

Where would Roy Jones Jr. rank if he quit after the John Ruiz fight?
Joseph Gwilt, 
Bangkok, Thailand

In my mind, not much differently. I don't hold losses against a fighter after his peak. I'm sure that the "aura" of Jones would be greater if he had retired undefeated, but in ranking him among the greats, he doesn't necessarily suffer because of his losses. Along the same lines, I wouldn't have given him extra credit for retiring undefeated. It's always a question of "who you beat and when did you beat them." Rocky Marciano retired as an undefeated fighter but his final record was comparatively weaker than those of other great heavyweights. Very few would consider an unbeaten Marciano as the best heavyweight of all time. Jones probably ranks in the Top 30-50 fighters historically, but I haven't produced an all-time pound-for-pound list and I won't be doing so any time soon. 

Why do you think it's becoming a lot more common for people who started boxing late to have successful careers in the sport?
Nathan Metivier
Saskatoon, Canada

I'm not sure that I buy your premise. Although there are examples of fighters who started late becoming elite (Sergio Martinez is a recent one), late bloomers are still very much the exception to the rule. If you look at the top-10 fighters in the sport (Floyd, Ward, Pacquiao, Marquez, Bradley, Wlad, Froch, Roman Gonzalez, Rigondeaux, Hopkins), only Hopkins came late to boxing. Levels down, yes, there are some fighters who have gotten a late start in boxing who go on to have successful careers. But I don't necessarily see a trend where that is becoming more frequent. The best fighters almost always have an extensive amateur career or turn pro at a very young age. 

Roberto Duran vs. Pernell Whitaker at 135, who wins?
Richie Urnaitis
Poughkeepsie, New York

Ah!!!! A spectacular mythical fight! The consummate brawler vs. the master boxer. You know what; I'd actually take Duran in the fight. His activity level and aggression would naturally appeal to judges. I think that some of Whitaker's subtle work, ring generalship and defense might get missed. In a 12-round fight, I think that Duran is more of a favorite. In a 15-rounder, maybe Whitaker figures Duran out and has a big second half. Either way, I think that Duran might get the victory on the scorecards and not actually win the fight. 

What do you think is the attraction to boxing and why don't you think the UFC will ever surpass it?
David Redpath
Fife, Scotland

That's actually two questions so let may break them down individually. Boxing's attractions are manifold. It's sport, or competition, at its most primal. These athletes are modern-day warriors and they put their lives at risk every time they go into the ring. We marvel at their bravery, courage and resiliency. For most of us, we couldn't conceive of subjecting ourselves to that kind of brutality and yet we stare at amazement at those who do. There's certainly a vicarious element to it. 

But it's not just about blood and guts. The Queensberry Rules helped to regulate the sport. There's a structure to boxing that lends itself to variety. It's not a fight-to-the-death but rather a contest. There are various limitations on acceptable methods of attack. Thus, the sport has become an art form. There are many styles that can lead to a championship: knockout artists, brawlers, boxers, runners, jab-and-grabbers, pressure fighters and boxer-punchers. There is a beauty to the sport at its highest level and there's also a purity to it. Sure, you have to be tough to become a boxing champion but you better be smart too. 

As far as the MMA/UFC, I certainly have a bias in that I'm not a fan of that sport. In some ways, MMA has done very well for itself, growing significantly and gaining a substantial international following. In just a few decades, the sport has captivated millions of fans and in many parts of the U.S. and other countries, amateur MMA fighters clearly outnumber novice boxers. In another generation or two, it will be interesting to see if boxing can maintain its talent pool. MMA has certainly produced a number of wonderful athletes, many of whom might have gone into boxing.

However, boxing has numerous structural advantages over MMA that will enable its success in future decades and generations. Most importantly, boxing is an Olympic sport and nations will continue to spend money to foster and cultivate its amateur program. A second factor is boxing's sense of history, which has created wonderful regional, geographic and ethnic rivalries over the years. A young Puerto Rican or Mexican fighter would be far more drawn to the cultural push of boxing than he would be to the MMA. 

A third reason for boxing's continued success over MMA, and specifically the UFC, is money. Boxers get paid much more than those in the UFC do. Although Dana White has done a great job of growing the UFC, the best fighters in that sport make a pittance of what world-level boxers do. He essentially runs a monopoly in the U.S. and can control costs accordingly. Boxing, the sparsely-regulated mess that it is, still has its capitalist appeal. If you're among the best in the sport, you'll make millions. If you're a top UFC fighter, the financial benefits pale in comparison to boxing. Until the dollars start to even out, boxing will have a significant advantage.   

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of saturdaynightboxing.com.
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
Contact Adam at saturdaynightboxing@hotmail.com 
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