|Tyler's 'Real Bite' w/ Paul Magno - On Why Bradley Can't beat Pacquiao, Boxing vs. UFC, Mayweather, Cotto vs. Martinez, Canelo, Golovkin and much more...
By David Tyler, Doghouse Boxing (Feb 24, 2014)
Notes from the Boxing Underground
- Paul Magno
Paul Magno is an American ex-pat living in Mexico. He s a licensed boxing official and judge in the state of Michoacan in Mexico as well as a part time trainer/promoter/consultant. Recently, he has worked with Ruben Olivares and Lupe Pintor as well as dozens of upcoming Mexican fighters. He is currently editor and owner of The Boxing Tribune and is a freelance writer for Fox Sports. Paul has also written for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules, and Bleacher Report. Please Welcome Paul into the Doghouse...
David Tyler: I enjoyed your article on Yahoo Sports about the Tim Bradley/ Manny Pacquiao fight coming to us in April on HBO PPV. Do you really believe that Tim Bradley has no chance of winning the fight?
Paul Magno: Absolutely. This is a business and Pacquiao, for Arum, is THE business. I'm not suggesting that the fix is in, but everybody will be hyper-sensitive about not "screwing" Manny a second time. If it's close-- and I believe it will be-- every benefit of the doubt will go to Pacquiao. And as good as Bradley is-- and I think he's outstanding-- he lacks the ability and style to win decisively over Pacquiao and certainly lacks the punching power to end things decisively. In any case, Pacquiao will be amped for this fight and, like I said, all he has to shoot for is to keep it close.
DT: Good answer and we will return to this subject later in the interview. Please tell our readers how you became interested in boxing?
PM: Well, I grew up in a boxing family. My great uncle was a fighter, everyone else actively training at some point or another. I started boxing as a kid. I grew up in a pretty bad neighborhood and my Mom shipped me off to the Boy's Club every day to keep me off the streets and away from danger. I learned to fight there and from my uncle I learned the business stuff behind the fighting. And then, of course, that was the era of Leonard and Duran and Hearns, etc...How could I NOT become a fan?
DT: Paul, was 2013 a good year for boxing?
PM: A great year for boxing. Tons of good match-ups and we saw the emergence of some quality fighters like Gennady Golovkin, Mikey Garcia, Leo Santa Cruz, and several more.
DT: Your picks for 2013 “fight of the year” and “fighter” of the year?
PM: Over at my principle gig as editor-in-chief of The Boxing Tribune, Fighter of the Year was Adonis Stevenson and Fight of the Year was Bradley-Provodnikov. I completely agree with the selection. There were, literally, ten to twelve fighters who deserved some consideration for Fighter of the Year, but I think Stevenson was a solid choice for four quality wins, including dominant victories over two legitimate top five guys in Dawson and Cloud. If you want to check out our full set of awards, here they are: Boxing Tribune's Year End Awards (*link opens in new window)
(Web Editor's Note: The Boxing Tribune's Fighter and Fight of the Year, both match with Doghouse Boxing's choices. DHB's Fighter of the year and Fight of The Year) (*links open in new windows)
DT: I agree, the Bradley/Provodnikov was a terrific fight but I lean more toward the Broner/ Madiana fight….one hell of a Christmas gift. It’s 2014, what matchups would you like to see this year?
PM: I'm probably with the majority of the people in wanting to see Stevenson-Kovalev, Golovkin against ANYONE, I'm charged to see Cotto-Martinez, which was just announced today...also, the heavyweight division is starting to wake up a bit. Oh yeah, and there's a wealth of talent at flyweight right now, pick and choose a dream match-up there...and, of course, the impossible dream of Mayweather-Pacquiao.
DT: You mentioned Gennady Golovkin and he is one of my favorites, but is he the real deal?
PM: He's "for real" in the sense that he's likely to beat anyone at middleweight right now. I still think there are some questions Golovkin has yet to answer. Can he handle a slick boxer or, for that matter, someone who can execute a coherent game plan that nullifies his offense? Offense-minded fighters tend to be overrated when they first hit the scene and I think there's some of that with Golovkin. But the guy can fight and it's obvious his strengths are so strong that it'll be a while before we see any of his weaknesses.
DT: Floyd Mayweather Jr.….have you ever seen a better fighter?
PM: Right now, no. Mayweather is a joy to watch, but you have to put his dominance into perspective. He's doing what he's doing because a lot of the guys he's facing just have no idea how to handle him. They lack some of the core basic skills that the old-timers had. Guys like Guerrero and Alvarez work themselves into elite-level status, but just can't decipher the little things that make Mayweather stand out. This is taking nothing away from Mayweather, but Floyd is not the fighter he COULD be--and that's a scary thought-- because these guys lack the skills to test him. I don't believe in comparing fighters of different eras, so I'm not going to go into fantasy land and debate whether Mayweather could beat a guy like Sugar Ray Leonard. But, if we did invent that time machine and could stick Mayweather back in the time of Leonard or even Robinson, I believe that Mayweather would be even significantly better than he is now. I do believe that he has a genius-level ring IQ and would adapt to whatever gets thrown his way. Now, he's like John Coltrane playing with the Country Bear Jamboree...Miles ahead of the game.
DT: Mayweather is slated to fight around May 4th. His potential opponents include Amir Khan and Marcos Madiana. Let’s combine two questions, first can either of these fighters beat Mayweather and if not who in your opinion could beat him…including the top light middleweights?
PM: I don't think either Khan or Maidana can beat Mayweather. Khan's speed and overall athleticism could make for a better than expected match-up, though. Maidana would swing for the fences a full twelve rounds, but he would be badly overmatched. I think of today's active fighters at 147 or 154, maybe only Pacquiao and Erislandy Lara could be competitive. Lara, because he also possesses some of the ring smarts and instincts that Mayweather has and Pacquiao because of his athleticism, will to win, and ultra-unorthodox style. But I still think Mayweather beats both. Only time or a sudden, unexpected lack of focus can bring Floyd a loss.
DT: Assuming that Pacquiao is awarded the victory in his next fight with Bradley…any chance of a Pacquiao/Mayweather bout and if not – how will this non-fight affect the legacy of each fighter?
PM: I think Mayweather-Pacquiao can happen, but only if Pacquiao is a free agent. Barring some miraculous mending of fences between Arum and Mayweather, they will never get together for real negotiations. And, remember, there's also Golden Boy, who stands to lose out on some big money if Mayweather and Pacquiao do ever get together. It's in Golden Boy's best interest to keep the bridge from being built and keep feeding Mayweather their fighters. So, all things considered, just too much has happened to have this fight happen if Arum is still in the picture. In terms of legacy, both fighters will suffer, but Mayweather more so because the media is more willing to target him for scorn than Pacquiao. Arum has been very smart in establishing the narrative in this feud and now it seems that the consensus among media is that Pacquiao is chasing and Mayweather is retreating. In reality, though, neither side has really pursued the other.
DT: Another Pacquiao question, reports from the Phillipines and the United States governments have stated that Manny Pacquiao owes ~ 70 million dollars in back taxes. What was your reaction when you heard this news?
PM: It didn't surprise me at all. From everything I hear, Manny's finances are a mess. Back in 2011, I wrote about Pacquiao's net worth being reported as just 26 million according to official documents filed by Pacquiao when he took his seat in congress. 26 million for a guy who had earned, like, 250 million at the point with his fights, endorsements, merchandising, and all the other stuff he does.And when he briefly brought accounting firm VisionQwest in to look at his finances, they saw all kinds of crazy stuff. According to them, Pacquiao had no real, full-time accountant or credible financial adviser. All of his money was being funneled through manager Michael Koncz, who they said was also being employed by Top Rank. I mean, really, your manager is employed by your promoter? No conflict there, right? Manny is said to be kept relatively cash poor and, according to VisionQwest, he had to ask for a loan from the accounting firm in order to buy a house for Koncz. Apparently, there was a mad scramble behind the scenes when this stuff started being revealed and Manny was somehow convinced to fire VisionQwest right before they were scheduled to reveal all to Manny in a meeting. I don't know whether these recent tax stories are true or not, but I can believe them. I think Manny's on a road to ruin and he's just too damn loyal for his own good.
DT: Paul, Showtime has really improved their boxing programs to the extent that they now offer better fight cards than HBO, do you agree and what can HBO do to keep pace with Showtime?
PM: The HBO/Showtime feud has helped boxing in a way. Sure, there are a few fights that won't get made now. But all in all, both sides are trying to do a better job with what they have and the fans are benefiting from the rivalry. I agree about Showtime outdoing HBO. What HBO needs to do is get some sort of coherent matchmaking where fight A leads to fight B. HBO is still getting bigger ratings than Showtime, but that's in part due to HBO having more subscribers. I also think HBO is making a big mistake by not better tapping into the Latino market. They could get some Grade A fights on the cheap by picking up some of the fights from Latin America in the smaller weight divisions. At the end of the day, though, as much as we like to think that drawing numbers is about matchmaking, the reality is that star power is what draws casual fans to the TV and if Pacquiao can't rebound and become the star he once was, HBO will never get beyond that core audience that tunes in for every fight, no matter what's being shown...
DT: Do you think that boxing fans are leaving our sport for Mixed Martial Arts events?
PM: Not at all. I've been debunking that myth for some time now. We're talking two very different demographic groups when we talk about MMA and Boxing. If anything, MMA fans, as they grow older, are, more and more coming over to boxing. Listen, the world can handle two combat sports at a time. I don't buy into the MMA vs. Boxing stuff. If anything, pro wrestling has lost more to the UFC than boxing has. Boxing is not the powerhouse national sport that it once was, but MMA has nothing to do with that. The thing is that MMA/UFC fans, because they tend to be younger and more tech-savvy, have dominated the world of the Internet and have made it seem as though boxing is some sort of thing of the past. It's not. Boxing is growing and expanding everywhere in the world and, in the U.S., everything is up-- ratings, attendance, etc. It's just that boxing can't be where it once was. Too much competition and too bad of a reputation in the eyes of the "mainstream" media.
DT: You have mentioned earlier in the interview that if Pacquiao doesn’t regain his “rock star” status this will hurt HBO and the sport as a whole. Very soon boxing will lose both of the two top draws – Pacman and Mayweather – who will replace them as PPV draws?
PM: It's hard to say. Stars are usually built on the "passing of the torch" system, but Mayweather and Pacquiao both seem firm on getting into a position where the torch can't be passed to a younger fighter. After they're gone, we might see a bit of a boxing recession. Assuming that the next big star has to be American or, at least, fight in America, that's a hard question to answer right now. I do know that if Deontay Wilder is anything more than an abuser of fry cooks and Footlocker assistant managers, America will be all over him. Canelo can still come back.
DT: Would you classify Saul “Canelo” Alvarez as one of boxing’s true superstars?
PM: I would classify Canelo as an outstanding prospect, both in the ring and in terms of his superstar potential. Obviously, people want to see the kid fight. TV ratings down here in Mexico are crazy and he does very well in the States as well. He failed to reach that next level against Mayweather and looked pretty bad in failing. What he needs to do now is to please his fan base by proving that he can actually go to war. A cut, some blood in his eye, a broken nose will go a long way in taking him to that next level. The fight with Angulo is perfect for him. He'll have to go to war to win this one, at least to some extent, and it should prove that Canelo is, indeed, a real fighter. People forget that the kid IS only 23.
DT: Count me as one of his fans. I believe he is very much a part of boxing’s future. You mentioned that Cotto and Martinez will square off for the Middleweight title on June 7th of this year to be broadcast by HBO PPV. Who wins this fight and how do they win?
PM: That's a tough one because Martinez has looked to be on the rapid decline. Cotto is on the downside as well, but not as bad as Martinez. I would say that it's an even money fight right now. If Martinez is healthy, I think he beats Cotto. He's smart and can hit hard enough to keep Cotto honest. Cotto is a true warrior, but history shows that if you can hurt him, even a little, he'll give you space. And if he gives Martinez any space, he'll never catch him. Right now, gun to head, Martinez via close UD.
DT: Paul, we opened the interview with your thoughts about the next Bradley/ Pacquiao fight. On April 12 of this year they are both set for the rematch on HBO PPV. It’s my opinion that Bradley is a much improved fighter than the version who fought Pacquiao the first time. If Bradley clearly wins every round and is awarded the split decision victory….where does he go next?
PM: If Bradley wins, and that's a tremendous if, the only logical choice would be Mayweather, which would, of course, be out of reach. Bradley would be stuck because beyond Pacquiao, Bradley, and Marquez, there's not much at Top Rank in the welterweight division. Plan B would probably be a rematch with Provodnikov, which he would probably win fairly decisively this time.
DT: Paul, many thanks for this interview….you have a great insight and perspective on today’s boxing culture. Let’s do this again.
PM: Thank you, it’s been fun and I have enjoyed this conservation.
Readers: Paul Magno is the author of a wonderful book… Notes from the Boxing Underground. For the fans who like gritty, uncensored boxing writing: http://amzn.com/B00FEN6OD0
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