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More Rituals (and Reflections) of Battle

Special to Maxboxing by Vinnie Paz


So, we meet again, fight fans. It’s been a few months since I last spoke to you guys, so I’ve missed my Maxboxing fam. What I didn’t miss is the good, the bad, and the ugly that’s been going on in our beloved sport.
 
Gary Russell Jr. continues to amaze me with his hand speed, probably the fastest hands I’ve seen since Shane Mosley at 135. Russell seems like a good kid with a good team around him as well. I’d love to see him in there with Mikey Garcia in the next 12-16 months.
 
I sat ringside and watched as three incompetent judges robbed Erislandy Lara of a hard-fought, one-sided win against Paul Williams. I had it 118-110, Lara. I think Lara can beat anyone at 154 and he deserves a big payday. Kermit Cintron continues to underwhelm. Yori Boy Campas is still fighting at 87 years old. Joseph Agbeko fought Abner Mares AND referee Russell Mora in a two-on-one WWE-style match. Give the kid a rematch. He fought too hard to have a negligent ref take food off of his plate. It’s yet another glaring example of why we need some sort of national commission.

Andre Berto is still successfully pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes. I think Jan Zaveck would’ve taken him deep and drowned him had their fight continued. Can someone just melt this guy so I don’t have to watch him anymore? Just when we get rid of Jeff Lacy, this f**king guy haunts my life. And wrapping up this little tangent is Yuriorkis Gamboa, who fought Daniel Ponce de Leon this past Saturday. This is my third time watching him fight live and it’s still crazy to see how fast he is in person. Ponce de Leon had a few moments but for the most part, Gamboa put on a clinic. It’s really weird to say this but the better Gamboa gets, the less interesting he may be to the casual boxing fan. He’s tightening up his defense and boxing much more and that doesn’t bode well for fan-friendly fights…but it’s fun to watch a kid get better in right before your eyes. Gamboa said he would stay at 126 but two days later, said that he’s going to 130 for bigger and better opportunities. He also said he wants to fight Manny Pacquiao. To that, I say, slow down, homie.
 
Speaking of which, I was asking my Twitter followers (@vinnie_paz) about Manny Pacquiao’s place in boxing history. As with ANYTHING on the internet, I got responses ranging from eloquent and articulate to borderline retarded but it DID get me thinking about where I put “Pac-Man” in the annals of boxing history. I’m gonna walk through this as I actually write this. Essentially, I’m going to think out loud and just write whatever comes to my mind. First things first: Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. The consensus is that Pacquiao has fought and beat everybody and that Floyd has been handpicking opponents since his two fights with Jose Luis Castillo in 2002. Fact, right? Maybe not. Manny has been a media darling for five or six years now and everybody knows him. Some clueless fans have the nerve to call him the best ever.
 
“Money May” has been hated by the media and fight fans alike for five or six years now. Some clueless fans have the balls to call HIM the best ever. Clearly, these people have never heard of Sugar Ray Robinson, Willie Pep, Joe Gans, Joe Louis, or Sandy Saddler. There’s WAY more but I digress. The public really didn’t notice Pacquiao until his first fight with Marco Antonio Barrera in 2003. He looked amazing, winning over a lot of American fight fans. A year before, Floyd was involved in two decision victories over Jose Luis Castillo (one close and hotly disputed, the other more decisive). Almost two years prior to the second Castillo fight, Floyd destroyed Diego “Chico” Corrales in a fight a lot of people thought he would lose. Early in his career, Pacquiao was KO’d twice by unknown opponents, Rustico Torrecampo and Medgoen Singsurat. Ever hear of them? I didn’t think so. Pacquiao had a draw against Juan Manuel Marquez in a fight most ringside observers thought he lost. Then he lost to Erik “El Terrible” Morales. Then Pacquiao beat Marquez in ANOTHER disputed decision. The criticism of Mayweather is that he hasn’t fought a prime opponent his size in years. Well, has Pacquiao? Maybe the likability factor has clouded the water here. Manny is humble, soft-spoken and friendly. Floyd is cocky, loud and obnoxious. They both seem to have gotten to the same place via two totally different paths but are they really that different? Since the third Morales fight, almost five years ago, Pacquiao has beaten an old Barrera, Marquez in a fight I think Pacquiao LOST, a way overmatched David Diaz, a washed-up Oscar De La Hoya, an overrated Ricky Hatton, a mediocre Miguel Cotto (Yeah, I said it. Mediocre.), a solid but outclassed Josh Clottey, a possibly shot Antonio Margarito, and an absolutely shot Shane Mosley. To me, these opponents have been just as carefully handpicked as anybody that Team Mayweather targeted. Sh*t, Floyd beat some of them FIRST.
 
Again, why is Manny looked at as the second coming of Henry Armstrong and Floyd is seen as overrated? Even the intangibles favor Manny. His trainer is the well-loved Freddie Roach. Mayweather’s trainer is...well, we all have been witness to THAT trainwreck. Floyd flaunts his money. Manny doesn’t talk about his. I know I’m sorta all over the place with this piece but that’s kinda the point. I want my guest columns to feel like you’re shootin’ the sh*t at the barbershop, not studying for the MCATs. At any rate, hindsight is 20/20 and I look back at some of these Pacquiao victories and wonder if they were really that amazing or were they just amazing PERFORMANCES over solid but not Hall of Fame-type guys. The funny thing is, I’m probably the perfect person to speak on the subject because I have no vested interest. Neither Floyd NOR Manny were guys that had me drinking the Kool-Aid. They’re both great, both first-ballot Hall of Fame guys. I just want to make that clear. The only reason I’m compelled to talk about them is because of their potential super-fight and because younger fight fans are so quick to anoint someone "the best."
 
You know how all of you guys think Floyd is ducking “Pac-Man”? Guess what? I think Floyd beats him easy. The hatred for Floyd has blinded people from certain facts, one of them being that he is a defensive wizard that has probably been hit with less than ten clean shots in his 15-year career. Pacquiao can- and will- be hit but to say either of these guys is "the best ever" is just ignorance. I don’t know if either of them would crack my all-time top 25. Pernell Whitaker would’ve beaten Floyd and Shane Mosley would’ve folded Pacquiao at 135. That’s without even putting my mind to it. So after all of this rambling, I propose a question to YOU, the fight fan: After all that’s been said in my little bullsh*t article, where do YOU see these guys in history? Are they brilliant fighters or products of brilliant handlers and networks? I’m eager to hear from you.
 
As always, thanks for reading the rants of a fellow boxing nerd. If you hated my little article, please send all hate mail to Steve "K9" Kim at k9kim@yahoo.com. If you enjoyed it, please send all love, money, and pornography to me, Vinnie Paz at icon61@comcast.net...until next time.
 
Pazzy’s Pound for Pound List
 
1. Sergio Martinez
2. Bernard Hopkins
3. Manny Pacquiao
4. Nonito Donaire
5. Giovani Segura
6. Lucian Bute
7. Juan Manuel Marquez
8. Yuriorkis Gamboa
9. Steve “K9” Kim
10. Tim Bradley


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