Martin Wade's New Year's Padwork Part I
By Martin Wade, (Jan 8, 2009)  
Ya’ll miss me? I knew you wouldn’t, but hey-those be the rules in the Fight game. Boxing is an exciting “what have you done for me lately” universe and unfortunately for me I’ve been far from lately. Yet, as an observer of the sweet science I am never far removed from neither the fights nor my sacred brethren- You! The degenerate Boxing Junkies. I was there in Vegas sandwiched between Tijuana natives the night Margarito walked down Miguel Cotto. I was so close that I felt strangely sympathetic merely witnessing the “Tornado” inching his way forward through a hail of rocks hurled by “PR’s finest”. Somehow irregardless of my getting kicked out of Spanish in high school my new friends and I could all understand that Margarito was putting on one of the “Mas Macho” performances in recent boxing history. Despite one man breaking the will of another I walked away enlightened by the very real possibility that Mayweather will bide his time for a much more “dainty appetizer”. On July 26th Floyd wouldn’t have wanted any part of either man I had the privilege of seeing in the ring that night. So I was not surprised when “Money” put out a “feeler” for the petite whirlwind known as Manny Pacquiao. Manny “popped vest” by years end by TKO over De La Hoya, look for the two diminutives to tangle in late 2009 with Ray Robinson’s mythical pound for pound crown in the balance. Sorry Ricky; without a genetic transplant procedure ( available Fall of 2020) Daddy Mayweather wont give you enough “wrinkles” in 12 weeks to overcome an All Time great on May 2nd.

On the plane ride back from Margarito vs. Cotto I was informed that my second grandchild was born…oops. My daughter is due sometime around the Paquiaio vs. Hatton fight with # 3- aka “Sugar Ray”. Is it me or do my children (Brooke and Brandon) need a damn boxing calendar.

Like most of my padwork offerings there will be rants, quips, soapbox diatribes and straight observation from Boxings least active fight scribe. Hey, I’m like an event fighter I come out when the chips are on the table and closing out an underrated 08’ to open 09’ is such an occasion. I won’t bore you with the proverbial “Best of” list, I’ll leave that to those you trust. Instead I’ll serve it to you off the top and beg ya’ll to PLEEEAASE holla back at your boy and let me know if you think I’m on point or losing my damn mind ya feel me?.

Paul Williams Pound for Pound Wildcard

Ok hear me out let me put some “blast” on this brotha for the 2008 he put together despite being THE welterweight boogie man. Trust me; nobody including Antonio Margarito is putting out “feelers” for this guy despite the WBO welterweight strap around his waist. Is Manny Pacquiao Fighter of the year? Yep, is he pound for pound#1 , hell yes but if there was a more nuanced way of looking at it (Boxing BCS) I’ve found it. First off, stop calling Manny Pacquiao the new Henry Armstrong as if there wasn’t another fighter who fought in 3 divisions last year. Henry Armstrong campaigned in the divisions he ruled briefly in 38’ which meant he was available to all top rated contenders. It was different back then; they had this strange ritual of fighting the next deserving contender in line.

Paul Williams campaigned at welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight which meant he was answering the phone if Margarito, Forrest/Mora or Pavlik gave him a call. He started the year by dropping a decision to Carlos Quintana (Ring Rating #6 at welter) on February 9th. By modern standards the lanky lefty could have easily cried about staying at welterweight too long waiting on the Cotto’s and Margarito’s of the world. Not this cat, he remained in the gym and stepped back in with Quintana by June and vaporized him in 2:15. By this time Cotto and Margarito were prepping for July 26th but “so called” avoided fighters like Joshua Clottey (Ring Rating #4) weren’t calling and neither was Shane Mosley (Ring Rating #3). What did Williams do? He took a fight at middleweight and in hindsight many believed he would slip up due to no longer enjoying the freakish size advantage he had at 147. Andy Kolle (September 25th bout) was no world beater but he’d previously never hit the canvas by the hands of a middleweight, until he met Paul Williams. Weighing in 12 pounds heavier and without the aid of HBO’s documentary production team the Punisher was finally sitting down on his punches and pleaded to be included in Kelly Pavliks “Fav Five”.

No call, no text, no friendship confirmation on Facebook came from Pavlik, no sweat. In the meantime Andre Berto (Ring Rating #9, rep boxing and buy the new ESPN magazine) the talented young WBC welterweight champ was called on his bluff by Williams for even mentioning the possibility of unification. Know what happened? Bertos Promoter quickly put an end to that crazy talk and even suggested Williams is no longer a welterweight. Williams is no Jose Luis Castillo! How can Lou Dibella, another mans promoter be an authority on what weight he can fight at? The Ring Magazine also joined in by not placing the holder of a title belt- that no belt holder wants to face out of their ratings!

After watching Williams beat down a Middleweight Margarito suddenly started to fancy himself an “event fighter” and lost his taste for revenge. I loved Margarito vs. Cotto but it didn’t do blockbuster numbers so you’d think Antonio would want to pick up another strap to sweeten the pot for the Cotto rematch. The sweetener he chose was Sugar Shane and let me be the first to say it smells like...beatdown. Did Paul Williams sulk? Did he forget that he was a fighter waiting around for “champions” to “want” to face him? He was back in the ring in nearly two months time against cagey veteran Verno Phillips (Ring Rating #3) for the interim WBO junior middleweight strap. At 154lbs. the Punisher did something you rarely see a boxer of his dimension do-take away a tough shorter fighters will by going to the body. Phillips is no pushover, despite his age (39) he’s been in tough and he’s always been a spoiler for any fighter that viewed him as a “stay busy” scrap. After 7 rounds of Paul Williams he called it a day and started speaking of Williams in past tense before he even left the ring!

Manny Pacquiao is an “event fighter” (no shame there) and what he did this year is astounding but he isn’t actively looking for Juan Manuel Marquez. He also made it clear that he wants no part of Antonio Margarito and not just because they share the same promoter. What he did to De La Hoya was amazing but lets be clear, Oscar left the remnants of his best in the ring in rounds 1 through 6 against Mayweather. Pacquiao will be the man at 140 by May of this year and if he beats Mayweather he will have beaten Ring Magazines welterweight champ (circa 2007) which will lock up FOY for 2009 as well. But don’t forget the nuance of this comparison. Paul Williams, if he had his way would have fought Margarito, Berto, Forrest, and or Kelly Pavlik in 2008.Pound for Pound distinction should give points for champions actively soliciting championship bouts in or around the division they reside in. Put it this way, no matter who wins Margarito/Cotto or a possible Mayweather/ Pacquiao clash both “victors” will avoid the “ceiling fan” by saying nobody knows Paul Williams. Hopefully if Williams can push Winky Wright over the cliff Kelly Pavlik will give him a shot to really be like Henry Armstrong.

This brings me to my next Rant

Will a Great Boxing Tradition leave with the Golden Boy?

Love him or hate him Oscar De La Hoya carried the torch as boxings ambassador better than any man not named Ali. The one thing that Oscar understood like Ali and Robinson before him is that his illumination is the preface of future stars. We’ve theorized constantly about network TV, sanctioning bodies and promoters hindering the creating of names but fighters bore responsibility as well. Great boxing stars introduce us to new stars by their willingness to fight them. Later this month Antonio Margarito is fighting Shane Mosley in California with the hopes of advancing his lot as a player in the sport. Mosley is a De La Hoya creation, without Oscar’s willingness to tangle with Mosley (at peak power) he would have soon been like Paul Williams. Oscar, like Ray Leonard before him ushered already great non English speaking stars like Trinidad and Duran into the casual lexicon. From as far back as I can remember Oscar made the fights we wanted to see even after he’d long lost his competitive advantages. Mosley isn’t the ticket seller his partner is but like his California comrade he too never shrunk away from what we want to see. When Ken Norton was but a twinkle in Eddie Futch’s eye Ali introduced the nation to a damn good fighter. Ali, to many never beat Norton (in three tries!) much like Shane will never beat Winky Wright or Vernon Forrest. But once a great fighter takes that leap of faith the pool of “recognizable names” deepens which will ultimately impact everyone else’s wallet and generate the theater (and rivalry) that provide the game sustenance.

Beloved vs. Tolerated

That is why we root for Pacquiao, because on some level we see a guy that like Leonard (79-81) and Oscar (mid to late 90’s) is passionate about defining a legacy. A guy who won’t fill big fight documentaries with trips to acupuncture specialist, and gripes. Oscar in his heyday represented a form of revenue sharing for boxing-new names were enhanced simply by association with him. But there are some (fighters) we as fans can’t trust to “pay it forward”, because they attach too much self esteem (thus fear) to the ZERO. The irony in Floyd Mayweathers victory is that it never established him as an entity that CAN create that next wave of excitement. It was safe, self contained, self preserving and ultimately limited. A Mayweather reign is already being previewed with his fight-retire until there’s a suitable mark-unretire model. Manny Pacquiao by comparison beat Oscar up, yanked the torch in a resounding fashion and in turn preserved the larger health of the fight game. I’m sure no fighter likes an ass whipping but I’m sure somewhere in the back of Oscars mind he is content with the “who” of the matter. This way a long tradition dating back to the days of Ray Robinson will be upheld and we are guaranteed an active representative of the sport.

Note to Oscar De La Hoya: You’ve climbed Mount Everest and have nothing to be ashamed of. But once you get to a certain age all you can do is create new and inventive ways to be humiliated. Allowing Chavez’s son, a less than elite Jr. Middleweight to gain revenge will be ironic and undignified. Let it go Oscar, we hold you to a higher standard because as a promoter you can do so much more.

Stay tuned for Part 2 and my Boxing trends I’d like to see start and end for 2009. Also look for Mosley Margarito analysis.

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