Manny and Floyd…and Nobody Else By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Oct 24, 2011) Doghouse Boxing (Photo Art by icheehuahua) - Tweet
There is a
train of thought in college football that in the 2011 season, there is Alabama and LSU and then everybody else. That these two
storied SEC programs are head and shoulders better than anyone else out there (with
apologies to the likes of Boise State, Oklahoma State and Stanford) and that
they should actually play each other twice (first on November 5th and then a rematch for the BCS title game in January)
to decide the national championship. I think the same thing exists in the sport
of boxing. Folks, if you care about the mythical pound-for-pound ratings (or,
as others have derisively labeled it, “Fantasy Boxing”), then it's clear as
day. It’s Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather (in any order you prefer) and
then everybody else- by a wide margin.
Now, just to be clear, I long ago disavowed the pound-for-pound ratings.
Honestly, to me, stuff like this is really just mental masturbation and it
fosters the belief that being undefeated in boxing is more important than
actually being an attraction or someone that will take risks inside that ring
and put on a good show. I think this stuff is quite harmful to boxing. Yeah,
other sports have all kinds of lists (which I happen to enjoy, by the way) but
in no other sport is the pound-for-pound debate taken so seriously, where it
actually effects the decision making abilities of those in charge.
Too many times, those in charge cling to these rankings as a validation to
showcase vapid match-ups on premium cable networks (this weekend being another
example but more on that later). But it says here that in an era when our
marquee boxers only perform twice a year, it's impossible to gauge just how
good anyone really is because under these circumstances, much of the accolades
have to do with marketing and adroit matchmaking more than the consistent
showcasing of ability over the course of time.
Just think about it; the last two HBO cards (Sergio Martinez-Darren Barker and
Nonito Donaire-Omar Narvaez) are two examples where the majority of the talk
coming into these mismatches centered on featuring two of the best
pound-for-pound performers on the planet. Never mind that the actual match-ups
left a lot to be desired. The consensus is that these two are number three and
four behind the duo of Pacquiao and Mayweather. Well, they might be if you’re
so inclined to care about this stuff but it's a Grand Canyon-like gap between them.
For Martinez, the incessant pound-for-pound rhetoric is a marketing tool designed
to somehow position him into lucrative paydays with the aforementioned pair,
also masking the fact that if it weren't for Andre Berto, “Maravilla” just
might be, per dollar, the worst drawing fighter on HBO's airwaves. For Donaire,
it seems to be what Keith Olbermann once famously coined: premature jocularity.
This past weekend, Donaire, like Martinez a few weeks before him, fought a foe
who was more concerned about lasting than taking any risks inside that
ring and making a real attempt to win the fight. Narvaez is a tough little
fighter but from the onset, what concerned many observers was the “little”
part. He was the smaller man being brought up to face Donaire (who is already
been forecast to move up to the featherweight class sooner rather than later) at
bantamweight. What we got on Saturday night inside a well-attended event at the Theater at Madison
Square Garden was a huge letdown. By the
end of the night, the crowd was chanting, “THIS IS BULLSH*T!” (at that point,
I'm guessing New Yorkers didn't enjoy the “skill” exhibited or care that
Donaire is on a lot of fantasy lists)
Yeah, it takes two to tango but Donaire has to realize when you get paid as
well as you do (under the terms of his newly restructured deal with Top Rank)
and only fight every other season, there is a certain expectation to deliver.
And if you aren't facing an opponent that really poses a threat, then there is
the hope that you at least deliver an entertaining night of action.
On this night, the “Filipino Flash” failed (albeit with a lot of help from the
No doubt, Donaire is a gifted and talented prizefighter but many of the
accolades he has recently received seem to be more about future projections and
potential than actual production. In looking back at his career, he had the
eye-opening KO of Vic Darchinyan in 2007 and then the startling stoppage of
Fernando Montiel this February. Between
all that, there was a lot of inactivity and “Pinoy Power” victories to his
credit. Compared to what Manny and Floyd have achieved throughout the past
decade or so, don't all these plaudits seem a tad misguided and premature? This
isn't to say that Donaire won’t be worthy of such honors in due time. The guess
is that with his ability and the acumen of his manager, Cameron Dunkin, and
promoter, Top Rank, in developing fighters and attractions that this will one
day come to fruition.
For now, what he is is a very talented guy who has picked up some belts and has
two really notable wins to his credit. That said, Donaire's still a guy who's
got a long ways to go. He's still has technical flaws that are hidden by his
prodigious physical tools. Despite having decided advantages in height and
length, he still reaches and lunges with many of his punches because he doesn't
always slide his feet underneath him while shooting his jab. Against Narvaez,
Donaire didn't seem to really adapt or alter his style against a guy who made his
defensive intentions clear. The interesting question for Donaire moving forward
is, will these flaws be exploited as he moves up in weight, facing bigger men?
Or will these deficiencies be cleaned up in his continuing development?
That's what Donaire is: a still developing fighter who has been, to paraphrase
Dennis Green, crowned too quickly (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWmQbk5h86w).
Now, he isn't who many of you think he is- at least not yet. However, there's
no denying how good he is right now. But like everyone else in the sport,
Donaire's a long way off from the Pacquiaos and Mayweathers of the world.
Here's one I received on Sunday morning after the desultory fight on HBO from the friendly
neighborhood “Swider-Man” (Matt Swider):
“HBO 2011 has been an unmitigated
disaster. The worst year of a recently inept lot. Hershman will
look like a messiah because, frankly, the bar is that low.
The real indictment of the current mis-mangement to be is the
lack of "B" sides. Here is the list of the 39 likely losers on
HBO this year (i think i got em all):
Be or Should Be Back
Not or Will Not be Back
De Leon (Confirmed)
I figure 28 of them or almost 3/4 will not or should not ever
appear on the network again. How do you expect to build a brand or a stable of
attractions by feeding them this slop? How is the consumer to know what
they are watching is credible when they know they never have/or will again want
to watch their opposition. Do you think College Football fans will still
watch Oklahoma, Notre Dame, orWisconsin despite their losses this weekend? Of
course. In boxing, we'd send "College Gameday" to games like
Stanford-San Jose State or Alabama-Vanderbilt.
HBO should be about
making "fights" not fighters. Then we will see attractions truly
Matt, I can't really disagree with anything you stated and I think that will be
the challenge that Ken Hershman faces as he takes over the reins at HBO in
January. The problem in recent years with HBO's boxing franchise is that
they've had more “showcases” than “The Price is Right.” But back to your point,
please no more European B-sides, guys like Matthew Hatton, Ryan Rhodes, Barker
and now Narvaez, who might have won maybe, what, three rounds between them in
2011? Other than Sebastian Zbik (who I disagree with on the “should not be back”
listing), how many of these imported opponents came close to winning?
Your overall point is spot-on. Just televising certain fighters against
hand-picked cannon-fodder has been a disaster for the network and its ratings
reflect that. It's one thing if a fight is a mismatch but gets solid numbers but
if you have one without the other, it's the very antithesis of sound
programming. Ultimately, promoters and managers will always try to get away
with the path of least resistance when it comes to matching up their
commodities, so it will be up to HBO to exercise quality control. In the case
of Donaire, while he might be one of their future stalwarts, I have a hard time
believing any of HBO’s subscribers came away satisfied with what they saw this
Then there’s this email from one Bill “Bulldozer” Pittman:
“Hi Steve, nice article on Ken Hershman jumping over to HBO.
When I saw that this week I thought it was a very interesting development. As
both an HBO and Showtime subscriber, I’ve admired how Hershman evolved
Showtime’s boxing program over the last few years, concentrating on trying to put
on good fights and not worrying about tying individual boxers to excessive
contracts like they once did. Good fights, no rights was a good idea and
Showtime’s boxing program improved by leaps and bounds once they went in that
direction. In fact, with the way HBO’s own boxing program slide downhill during
the same time frame, I think Showtime pretty much ate HBO’s lunch on a regular
basis, even though they had a lot less money to work with. It seemed to me that
whenever those two had fights scheduled for the same night, I’d almost always
watch the Showtime broadcast live and record the HBO show. The reason was,
Showtime had the better, more interesting match-ups. They seemed to know the
kinds of matches boxing fans wanted to see, most of the time HBO did not seem
to have a clue.
I sure hope Hershman can bring some of that over to HBO and
start making them the force they once were, instead of just being the
Haymon/Golden Boy network. My first ever HBO fight was Pryor/Arguello I at the
Orange Bowl in ‘82. That’s the HBO I’d like to see again!
Anyway, very nice article and I hope maybe Mr. Hershman gets
a chance to read it.”
Bill, as always, thanks. And I'll make this point again, it's guys like you
that Hershman has to placate, not Bob Arum, Richard Schaefer, Al Haymon, Dan
Rafael, Thomas Hauser, the “Kimster” or anyone else. It's that simple. For too
many years under the previous management, you guys as a whole were neglected
and ultimately abused and exploited for your loyalty to this business. Hershman’s
goal should be very simple: put on the fights that the Bill Pittmans of the
world yearn for.
That's the very essence of his job, regarding boxing on HBO. Through all the
politics and entanglements he will face on this job, he serves you guys, the subscribers.
If Hershman can apply the same principles he had at Showtime while managing a
much bigger budget (therefore, a more stringent set of expectations), then he
should be fine.
Let's make this clear; I thought the bout on Friday night between Edwin Rodriguez and Will Rosinsky was a very
close fight that Rodriguez might have edged (I had it a draw). That was the
consensus of the public on Twitter and everyone else that viewed this “ShoBox”
main event- yet somehow, the trio of Glenn Feldman, Peter Hary and Clark
Sammartino scored the fight a shutout at 100-90.
There was no doubt that Rodriguez was the “house” fighter on this night. He's
promoted by Lou DiBella (who, funnily enough, wasn't screaming about this on
Twitter throughout the weekend) and this fight was held in his home region at the
Foxwoods Resort. Again, while I have to point out that Rodriguez, in the eyes
of many, won this fight legitimately, that ignores the more pertinent issue:
Rosinsky, judging by these scores, never had a chance, no matter what he did on
It's believed that when a fighter goes on the road, if he wins seven out of ten
rounds, he's lucky to get a draw. If he wins five (which many believe Rosinsky
did), he'll get four or three. On this night, he got none which, going by this
logic- if you want to call it that- Rosinsky could've won every single frame
and still may not have gotten a draw.
Instances like these, which do occur too often in the sport, do erode the
public's trust in what they are watching. I think @linusesq said it best on
Twitter: “that was sadly predictable...
its hard to be shocked anymore. No pretense of their being an even playing
This fight was only a shutout in the sense that Rosinsky was shut out of any
real chance of winning a decision.