Manny and Floyd…and Nobody Else
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Oct 24, 2011) Doghouse Boxing (Photo Art by icheehuahua)
Photo: Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao
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 diminutive Argentinean).

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 ( 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): 
HBO 2011 Losers
Will Be or Should Be Back
Should Not or Will Not be Back
Alexander (Confirmed)
M. Hatton
Ponce De Leon (Confirmed)
McEwan (Confirmed)
Dzinrinuk (Contract)
Berto (Confirmed)
Ponce De Leon
McEwan (probable)
Mitchell Opponent
Russell Opponent
Peterson (probable)
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 born.”

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 past weekend.

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 this night.

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 field

This fight was only a shutout in the sense that Rosinsky was shut out of any real chance of winning a decision.

I can be reached at and I tweet at We also have a Facebook fan page at
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Don’t forget to check out our new Maxboxing/YouTube videos, courtesy of our outstanding videographer Brian Harty and on-air ace Radio Rahim. The videos feature... Bernard Hopkins on Chad Dawson (, Dawson on Hopkins ( and the press conference touting their upcoming fight on October 15 (

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