Boxing: manny pacquiao

Cotto at MSG, and Pacquiao vs. Marquez?

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
Freddie Roach will bring client Miguel Cotto back to Madison Square Garden on June 7, to attempt to take Sergio Martinez's WBC middleweight title.

Roach is on a nice run, with Manny Pacquiao looking good against Brandon Rios in November, and then showing the world he might not have the same firepower of old but is still a superb ring general, making superlative pugilist like Timothy Bradley look befuddled this past Saturday.

Roach told us that Cotto will start sparring next week, and is doing a 5 a.m. workout and then a 1 p.m. workout as well.

What's next for Pacquiao?

"There's a fight in L.A., at the Forum, between Juan Manuel Marquez and Mike Alvarado on May 17, and the winner is a natural opponent next for Manny," Roach said. "We'd love to fight Floyd Mayweather next, but at this point it seems next to impossible, with the promoters and the networks further apart. I'd like Marquez next, we owe him something. I hope he wins, and he should win that fight against Alvarado."
Saturday night, his top client turned in a damned fine performance, no matter what the nattering naysayers, the critique cabal, might be saying.

Freddie Roach deserves a splash of sun, a session at a fancy resort kicking back, sipping cool beverages of funky hues while ogling poolside talent.

Freddie Roach-Miguel Cotto
Chris Farina/Top RankIt doesn't look like Freddie Roach will be relaxing pool-side any time soon.
So, I asked Freddie, who I caught on the phone Monday morning, what about it -- are you about to board a private jet to the Turks and Caicos, get yourself some deserved R 'n' R after Manny Pacquiao showed the sportsworld that he had Timothy Bradley's number in 2014, and oh yeah, 2012 as well?

"I just finished training Miguel Cotto," the six-time Boxing Writers Association Trainer of the Year told me. "He had a conditioning workout at 5 a.m. He starts sparring tomorrow."

Nope, Freddie didn't bite. He didn't talk about the need for some downtime, the yen for an island getaway. No sir, he was where he feels most comfortable, most in a flow, his space, his place, the Wild Card Gym in LA. And there was no place he'd rather be.

Cotto counts down to a stern test, a challenge of middleweight titlist Sergio Martinez at Madison Square Garden on June 7. (Oh, and by the way, in case you didn't know, that bout will unfold in the big room, not the Theater. And, I dare say, that big room will be packed to the pennant flags with rabid fight fans, who'll be collectively testing the sturdiness of the eardrums of everyone in the room.)

"Then, Ruslan Provodnikov [who holds the WBO 140 pound title] comes next week," Roach told me.

Provodnikov (23-2 with 16 KOs; born in Beryozovo, Russia; promoted by Banner Promotions), who took part in the BWAA's 2013 Fight of the Year, losing a UD12 to Timothy Bradley last March, meets Long Islander Chris Algieri at Barclays Center June 14. Roach has worked with the "Siberian Rocky" for his last several fights, and the two seem a nice fight. Both ruthlessly committed to the sport, both fans of conclusively finishing fights, and taking it out of the hands of judges, whose scores so often lead us to assume they are either corrupt or buffoonish.

I asked Roach if Algieri (19-0 with 8 KOs; lives in Huntington, LI, promoted by Joe DeGuardia's Star Boxing) will present a problem for Provodnikov, who took that title from Mike Alvarado, on Alvarado's home turf in Colorado, on Oct. 19, 2013.

"Algieri is a conditioning freak, a real athlete, a mover, not a big puncher," said the 54-year-old Dedham, Massachusetts native. "He will try to outbox Ruslan, and we will put pressure on him, cut off the ring."

I joked that fighting a guy like Ruslan, it's like the ring starts out at 20 feet, shrinks to 16 feet by the fourth, 12 feet by the 8th, and it feels like you're fighting in a Manhattan studio apartment by round 12. Freddie chuckled.

"But I respect Algieri a lot," he continued. He said he has watched some footage of the Long Islander, but is working on securing more, not easy to do because he has been mostly fighting off TV. "He's a good boxer," Roach said, in closing, as he prepared to hang up the phone, so he could attend to another client, keep doing what he lives for, preparing fighters to fight.

Pacman out and selling Bradley bout

February, 7, 2014
Feb 7
Manny Pacquiao JOE KLAMAR/AFP/GettyImagesTimothy Bradley stands with Manny Pacquiao following their WBO welterweight title match on June 9, 2012. Unbeaten Bradley ended Pacquiao's long unbeaten run with a controversial split decision.
Manny Pacquaio's work ethic in selling a fight, in this case his April 12 clash against Timothy Bradley, a rematch of their 2012 tangle, "won" by Bradley, has been on display recently.

Pacquaio, who works as a Congressman in the Philippines when not gloving up, came to LA on Sunday, for a Tuesday presser. That finished, he came to New York and stepped into a media windstorm.

On Wednesday, Pacman, who turned 35 in December, visited Businessweek, the Michael Bloomberg operation, for a roundtable. That turned into a smaller meeting, Manny's people told me, because so many Manny fans wanted to crash the roundtable. He and promoter Bob Arum then visited the AP, Sports Illustrated, Regis Philbin's Fox show and that night, Manny went to see the Knicks play. He snagged a Carmelo Anthony game-worn jersey, and shot the bull with Melo post-game. He also appeared on Keith Olbermann's ESPN show, and I have that on my DVR, still wondering if Big Keith had a flashback to his MSNBC days and asked about Manny's relationship with Harry Reid and Marco Rubio.

On Thursday, Pacman fielded questions at a NYC presser, where he showed ample patience and charm answering questions about whether or not he will ever fight Floyd Mayweather. After that, he and Arum and April 12 foe Timothy Bradley were headed to the tavern owned by trainer Jimmy Glenn, to shoot some promotional footage for HBO, which is putting on the pay-per-view show, with Top Rank. Word is Pacman was going to do some sightseeing Thursday night, and maybe help the local economy with some shopping.

On Friday, he drove to Philadelphia to shoot promo material for the cable company Comcast, based in PA. I heard about 500 Comcast employees pestered him in their cafeteria, asking for photos and autographs, which he graciously agreed to.

Then, it's back to the Philippines, for intensive training for the pound-for-pound ace Bradley, who in the eyes of many studied folks, has leapfrogged Pacman in the pound for pound rankings, based on his stellar victory over Manny rival Juan Manuel Marquez (UD12) in October 2013.

Manny will hop a midnight flight tonight to Manilla, work out there for one week, and then finish up the month working out in General Santos City.

Pacman will hop from the Philippines to Macau, to watch Zou Shiming, also in the Top Rank stable and trained by Freddie Roach, box on Feb. 22, and then take the 1 1/2 hour flight back to his homebase. Manny will come back to the US the first week of March, to California, where he will finish camp with four weeks at Freddie Roach's Wild Card gym in Hollywood.

Let that be a little lesson to you if you didn't think fighters had much to do beyond pushing the plate away and training leading up to a big bout. The promotional grind in itself is no joke.

Is Bradley over 2012 backlash?

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
More than any one thing, the most persistent stench that attaches itself to modern day boxing is the poor quality of judging in many high-profile bouts.

[+] EnlargeManny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley
AP Photo/Chris CarlsonTimothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao talk after the 2012 split decision.
The stench was heavy and lingering on June 9, 2012, when Manny Pacquiao met 9-to-1 underdog Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Most watchers, in person and on TV, thought Pacman, the whirling dervish from the Philippines, had got the better of Bradley. He landed more than the California-based Bradley (253 to 159) and drama wasn't thick in the air as ring emcee Michael Buffer read the cards submitted by C.J. Ross, Duane Ford and Jerry Roth. But when Buffer said, "...and newwww," the howls of protest and disgust were heard from Baguiao to Boston, and beyond. Ross and Ford had seen something different than the majority, but something all to familiar to fight fans.

Promoter Bob Arum thundered in the days following that he wanted the government to look into the matter, and while Pacquiao reacted with as much class and dignity as one could hope, Bradley was left shaken by the blowback. The poor man even received death threats from some knuckleheads who were taking the sporting event far more seriously than it deserved to be taken. Bradley (31-0 with 12 KOs) has fought two times since, beating Ruslan Provodnikov in the 2013 Fight of the Year, and outboxed the 55-5-2 Pacman rival for the ages Juan Manuel Marquez in October, but I could see as I chatted with the 30-year-old hitter in NYC on Thursday afternoon, that event in 2012 sticks with him, and takes up space in his head, despite his occasional protests.

"It was hard for me to accept criticism at times, it was hard for me to read the things people were writing about me, the negatives in the blogs and the Twitter, and all that, but since the Pacquiao fight, there's nothing you can tell me that's going to affect me," he insisted during the media gathering held at New World Stages on West 50th St. "They're just words. And that's what I've learned and how I'm stronger now."

All due respect to Bradley, but I have a strong suspicion that he isn't over it just yet, that the attacks that were leveled at him, as Manny rooters came to Pacman's defense, and hit Bradley with some collateral shrapnel, may have lessened in sting, but remain. I think we're going to see a man of strident purpose gloving up against Pacman in the rematch, to be staged by Top Rank and seen on HBO pay-per-view on April 12.

I heard pain in Bradley's voice at the Stage, I read in between the emotional lines that he thinks he still isn't being given the respect he feels he's due, and has further work to do to convince everyone, even people at Top Rank, who promote both him and Pacquiao, to get them to acknowledge his true worth. Seems to me nobody is overlooking Bradley this time around, though, and I doubt Pacman will. Manny admitted to ESPN NY that he underestimated Bradley in 2012, but won't this time.

That said, most everyone I talk to sees this as a coin flip fight, which could go either way. Me, I think most highly of Bradley, and note that he deciphered Marquez last year infinitely more easily than Pacman has in four tries over the years. No way I'd feel confident enough to bet the house, or even a month's rent, on Pacquiao or Bradley to get the W in the rematch.

Check back for more from the presser, from chats with Pacquiao, trainer Freddie Roach and promoter Arum.

Who's next for Mayweather, Pacquiao?

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
Manny Pacquiao-Freddie RoachChris Farina/Top RankFreddie Roach, here with Manny Pacquiao, is a five-time trainer of the year.
Boxing fans are keen to see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao square off, but that faceoff always seems to stall on the runway. It looks like we'll have to be content to learn, in the near future, who each man will next fight.

Floyd has been teasing foes for a few months, expertly tantalizing us fools ... er ... fightwriters, with hints and commentaries about Amir Khan and Marcos Maidana in interviews and on social media. Meanwhile, it looks like we should know pretty soon who will be across the ring from 35-year-old Pacquiao when the Congressman next rumbles. I spoke to Pacman's trainer, Freddie Roach, from his gym in California. I asked the five-time trainer of the year who he'd like Manny to square off with.

"I want Manny to look good in his next fight, and I think maybe [rumored foe] Tim Bradley wants too much money. Plus I think he will run all night and make for a poor showing for Manny," said Roach. The California-based Bradley, holds a mega-controversial win over Pacquiao in their June 9, 2012 tussle. "Ruslan Provodnikov is a better fight for Manny. They are good friends, though."

Yes, Provodnikov's come-forward manner would seem to play into the 55-5-2 Pacman's strengths better than Bradley, who showed in his last fight, a win against Pacquiao-rival-for-the-ages Juan Manuel Marquez in October, that he has mastered his brand of pugilism. That brand features slick movement, smart offense and superb stamina, to great effect. But the fact that he considers himself pals with the Filipino, stemming from a relationship formed when Provodnikov served as a sparring partner for the eight-division champion, could muddy the mix. That and the fact that Roach trains both men.

Freddie jokingly said that last potential hurdle could be overcome if he agreed to work Manny's corner in round one, then Ruslan's in round two and so on, if promoter Bob Arum and Team Pacquiao decide on the "Siberian Rocky" to meet Manny in Vegas in April.

And if those Plans A and B don't pan out, Roach could see Arum and Manny looking outside the box for a good foe. "Someone will cross over," Roach told me, mentioning Danny Garcia by name, and suggesting that some fighter who works with uber advisor Al Haymon, and fights under the Golden Boy promotional umbrella, could be lured into a Pacman clash.

In 2013, a cold war of sorts broke out when HBO, which buys a large portion of their fights from Arum, announced they wouldn't buy bouts from Golden Boy. Roach seems to think that fractured relationship could be healed, and a Golden Boy boxer could do battle against Pacman on HBO's air. This is boxing. Stranger things have happened.

Roach went on to say that another smart option would be to scour Floyd Mayweathers' most recent victories, the last five victims or so, choose one, and beat them in a manner more decisive than Floyd did. "I don't want my own guy, Ruslan, losing, because we've worked so hard on making him what he is today," Roach continued. "But my sense is, when it comes down to it, it could be Ruslan next for Manny. He comes in to town today. I've asked him about it, and he said he'd rather retire [than fight Manny]. And I said it would be a big payday and his family would be secure. He said, 'I don't fight for money, I fight for love of sport.' He doesn't care how much he could make. I told him I wouldn't blame him if he took the fight. We have to make a living and our activity time is very short. I'm trying not to make it happen, but to be honest, it's probably the best fight for Manny. I've seen them spar many times and it is competitive."

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NYFightblog looks back on 2013 (Part 2)

January, 2, 2014
Jan 2
Guillermo RigondeauxAl Bello/Getty ImagesGuillermo Rigondeaux beat Nonito Donaire at Radio City in April.
The Big Apple fight scene was pretty darned vibrant in 2013, with Barclays Center further emerging as a go-to player in the mix as Golden Boy placed pretty compelling fights in Brooklyn -- even if Vegas, California and Texas sometimes got more love than the hippest borough it the world. But that didn't mean Manhattan receded, or became the Podunk borough -- no way.

April: Rigondeaux beats Donaire at Radio City

Maybe the most surprising result of the year occurred at Radio City Music Hall on April 13, when 12-0 Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux made Nonito Donaire look like the level of boxer he'd had his way with while amassing a 31-1 record. Rigo won a UD12, via scores of 116-111, 114-113 and 115-112, and this sport of ours, the theater of the unexpected, once again showed us that you can go from the penthouse to the outhouse in the span of a half hour. Donaire, the 2012 Boxing Writers Association of America's 2012 Fighter of the Year, went from pound-for-pound ace to someone who needed to prove his worth to be mentioned in the same breath with the best and brightest.

May: Roach: Mayweather is a little bit boring

2013 was yet another year in which fight fans discussed the possibility and probability of a clash between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. This is by design, of course, as savvy marketer Mayweather knows that legions of Twitterheads and gullible media sheeples will discuss this theoretical faceoff ad nauseam. On May 7, Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach weighed in and critiqued Floyd's winning effort against Robert Guerrero on May 3, getting in a knockdown slapdown on Floyd for being boring.

June: Don't quickly dismiss Malignaggi vs. Broner

Paul Malignaggi, the Brooklyn-bred boxer who doubles as an analyst on Showtime, had a tremendous year. Not just in the local scheme of things, but overall. Yes, he went 1-1, losing to Adrien Broner on June 22 and then finishing the year with an easy money win over desultory Zab Judah on Dec. 7. Many folks thought Paulie would get his hat handed to him by Broner, but I told you on June 16 that Paulie was a most live 'dog.

Malignaggi showed his intelligence everywhere he went, utilizing superb ring generalship against Broner en route to winning on one of the three judges' cards. That, and he emerged into the consensus pick as the best analyst on the tube today, showing an ability to communicate incisively, in manageable chunks, without being repetitive or too cheerleadery.

NYFightblog looks back on 2013 (Part 1)

January, 2, 2014
Jan 2
Pacquiao, Broner, GuerreroGetty ImagesManny Pacquiao, Adrien Broner and Robert Guerrero gave the blog some extra punch in 2013.
We had a real nice year here at NYFightblog, if we -- OK, me -- do say so ourselves. I had a humongous blast covering the local scene, and I was so happy with the response from you fine folks, especially the increased traction on social media, especially Facebook. I thought it would be a fun exercise in proving just how bad my memory is if I looked back at last year's posts, and chose one favorite from each month.

Here you go:

January: Should Pacquiao fight on?

On Jan. 19, I pondered if Manny Pacquiao, dropped and stopped a month before in his fourth tangle with Juan Manuel Marquez, should fight on or call it a day. Well, Manny did continue with the sweet science and proved that any folks suggesting he exit gracefully needed to re-evaluate.

February: Broner says Mayweather fight won't happen

On Feb. 13, Adrien Broner's confidence level splashed over the rim, with the Cincinnati-based boxer boasting -- yep, always boasting -- a 25-0 record as he headed toward a clash with undersized Brit Gavin Rees in Atlantic City. I asked Broner if he'd be willing to glove up against the best in the biz, Floyd Mayweather, and the man who told us his initials stood for "About Billions" put his foot down firmly in the "no" camp. Talk of a Mayweather fight isn't in the air now, not after, as many experts scream, the cocky scrapper was exposed as having more flaws than he let on against Marcos Maidana, on Dec. 14.

March: Guerrero: God chose me to humble Floyd

If you needed another lesson that the Almighty doesn't play favorites, or maybe even pay attention, to prizefights, it came in May, when Robert Guerrero got schooled by Mayweather. Guerrero, the crusader for Christianity, told us on March 26 that he was a chosen one who'd been put in this situation to humble the mouthy Mayweather. Er, it didn't come off that way. Me, I've always assumed that any higher power has bigger fish to fry than who'll win a boxing match or a football game, and I dismiss all "look how blessed I am" pronouncements by athletes as so much narcissistic humble-bragging.

Arum on Pacquiao-Rios PPV numbers: 'It was OK'

December, 4, 2013
Some said promoter Bob Arum was taking an immense risk, financially and from a publicity perspective, by bringing Manny Pacquiao's Nov. 23 fight against Brandon Rios to Macau. Certain schools of thought said the pay-per-view would tank and the U.S. press wouldn't hype the bout as much because it would be an "out of sight, out of mind" scenario.

But Arum pronounced the event and the gamble (if it could be called that) a success as we talked about the pay-per-view buy numbers on Wednesday at a news conference to hype Arum's Saturday card in Atlantic City. The Pacquiao-Rios fight generated between 500,000 and 600,000 buys, he said. But that doesn't discourage him because the people who staged the event in Macau made up the difference in what was lost by not staging the event in Las Vegas.

"It was a drop-off from what we would have done, but it was OK," he said. "We knew it wouldn't do the same [as a fight held in the U.S.]. But we got so much more money to compensate, out of Asia, that it didn't matter. We figured we wouldn't do anywhere close to a million [PPV buys], so they compensated us for our loss. We made a lot of money."

Pacquiao's bout with Oscar De La Hoya had 1.25 million, and there were around a million for fights with Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito. His fights with Shane Molsey and Juan Manuel Marquez (their third tangle) each did about 1.3 million. Pacman-Tim Bradley garnered 900,000 buys and Pacquiao's most recent fight before the Macau bout, against Marquez, did over 1.4 million. Arum had hoped in the weeks leading up to the Pacquiao-Rios faceoff that they'd get over 1 million, but he didn't seem crushed in the least on Wednesday.

Pacquiao's next fight, against, perhaps, Marquez, Tim Bradley or newly crowned junior middleweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov, will be the first time the infrastructure is in place to have people in China buy the fight on pay-per-view, so we shall see how that affects the buy rates, and overall take.

NOTE: To ESPN's Dan Rafael, Arum estimated a lesser number of buys, so it looks like the counting is still being done.

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Opening bell for boxing film fest looms

October, 2, 2012
Fans of fight films have something to look forward to, with the impending first annual Shadow Box Film Festival looming. The festival, which runs Nov. 30 through Dec. 1, will exclusively feature boxing films. It unspools at the SVA Theatre at 333 W. 23rd St. in Manhattan.

Here is an excerpt offered by the organizers, led by director David Schuster, explaining why they put together the fest:

Boxing has always made for great drama. There are few moments in sport as exciting as the culmination of a great fight. Victory or defeat decided by one final round. One hundred and eighty seconds of relentless give and take. The crowd rising, the tension building, the fighters tapping sources of pride and energy they didn't know existed. It's the stuff that legends are made of. The movie industry has been borrowing from that legend for decades. From "Rocky," to "Requiem for a Heavyweight" to "Million Dollar Baby," the genre has produced many classics. The sport is also well represented in the documentary category, with Emmy and Academy Award nods for works of non-fiction. Why? Perhaps because the fighting is so compelling. Not just in the ring, but outside it too. They are heroes. They are villains. They are icons. Simply put, they are compelling. Boxing may be violent by nature, but there is beauty within the courage that defines the sport. When it's done right, it's a symphony, a ballet. It's not fighting. It's an art form. We at the Shadow Box Film Festival would like to share some of that art with you.

The Fest just announced that Leon Gast, the Academy Award-winning director of "When We Were Kings," has joined the Shadow Box Film Festival advisory board. So, will his stellar doc screen at Shadow Box?

"At this point, it's unlikely that 'When We Were Kings' will screen at the festival," a spokesman told NYFightBlog. "There are a lot of rights issues with the film and Leon doesn't own them all. However, we do expect that he will show highlights of his upcoming film on Manny Pacquiao."

Organizers are extremely high on the quality of the offerings, including "The Good Son," which is based on the book just released on Ray Mancini and a documentary called "Buffalo Girls," which tells of a pair of 9-year-old girls from Thailand forced into boxing to help supplement the family income.
Floyd Mayweather proved yet again to be master of the sound bite. On an HBO special Saturday night, he sat down and talked with author-professor Michael Eric Dyson, and Dyson asked him about the President, and if he thinks Mr Obama has the swag to get into the ring with the pugilist.

"People want to know how much power Floyd Mayweather got," Mayweather answered. "I can guarantee you this. I show you how much power I got, if I was to fight Manny Pacquiao, I'd let Barack Obama walk me to the ring holding my belt. Can I make it happen, absolutely."

The undisputed pound for pound champion of the sweet soundbite, Floyd Mayweather.
He is 80 years old, and if I get to that place, and I told this to his face when he was in Brooklyn watching the ring action at the Aviator Complex on March 24, I do hope I am close to as vibrant, as with it, as in the game, as Don King still is.

Yes, boxing's Barnum isn't as busy as he once once. He runs shows few and far in between, none of them the blockbusters which he put his stamp up, like the The Thrilla in Manilla and the Rumble in the Jungle. His wife passed away in late December 2010, and we hear periodic stories of his own health woes, but in the flesh he is still a considerable and magnetic presence.

NYFightblog asked The Don what brought him to Brooklyn as we waited for ex heavyweight titlist Sergei Liakhovich to stride to the ring, where he would take the kind of whupping which makes man consider a new vocation, ASAP, at the hands of Bryant Jennings.

"I'm with this young man Vernon Paris, I want to see if the transition is going to take place, the old going on and the young taking their place, coming on," King told me. Alas, his man Paris showed himself to not be quite ready for prime time, as Judah, faster, stronger, more seasoned and skilled, stopped him out in round 9.

When I referenced ole PT, King said it was a pleasure to be referred to at all, and noted he didn't take umbrage at being lumped in with the man (erroneously) credited as living by the credo, "There's a sucker born every minute."

"The mere fact that they call my name is compliment to me," King said. "I feel good about that. I'm a promoter, of the people, for the people, and by the people."

It was Barnum who used to say, “Without promotion something terrible happens... Nothing!”...and I was reminded of that saying as I pondered the sad possibility that megastars Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao might never give the people what they want, and sign on to fight each other. King has taken periodic stabs at aligning himself with Mayweather, and injecting himself into the equation as a lubricant to getting the deal done. But he's had no success. So I asked him why. Why hasn't the Super Bowl of the sport, which would be the top-grossing fight of all time, been booked?

"Give the people what they want and they will respond," he said. "It's about two things: inclusiveness, and respect. That's why they're losing the ballgame. They're arguing about money, as if money is more important than the fighters. Respect the guy, and you'll get him in there for less. When you disrespect them, it don't even be about money...They're too busy worrying about their feelings being hurt, and being talked to condescendingly, and patronizingly, rather than respectfully."

Money isn't the be-all, en- all, King said. "People are the most important asset."

Whenever I see King, I try to tease him about his political leanings. He backed George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and helped tip crucial Ohio, which Bush won by three million votes, to the incumbent with his stumping. In 2008, he backed Obama, and in Brooklyn, he exulted in the win for racial harmony that was Obamas' 2008 victory. He noted that "we aren't there yet," however, and the subject of the slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin came up. "For the man who shot him, right or wrong, to be still free, it's like the old Western days. It's very sad," he said, before shifting to an upbeat conclusion about the racial strides the US has made.

It's good to see King, yes somewhat humbled by the great equalizer that is time, still in the game. We've lost so many legends and icons and characters lately, Joe Frazier, Angelo Dundee, Bert Sugar just a day after I chatted with King, that I find myself embracing the remaining cast-members a little bit more fiercely.

Joan Guzman scores KO win on FNF

March, 3, 2012
The scale, apparently, still looms large in his life, as much as any foe does. Joan Guzman, the talented but calorically troubled 35-year-old ex-titlist who lives in Bushwick, N.Y., weighed in a quarter-pound over the contracted max for his Friday night bout against Jesus Pabon, but skipped some rope and made weight on Thursday.

Guzman's rep tumbled when he couldn't make weight for high-profile bouts against Nate Campbell and Ali Funeka, and in the past couple years, he has struggled to rebuild. His skills still looked world-class at times against the underdog Pabon, who was stopped in his last outing. The Puerto Rican hitter went down four times, for the final time in Round 8, on a harsh left hook that starched him big-time.

Guzman's promoter, Henry Rivalta, told me that the scale at the gym said his fighter was 140 and that the Florida commission's scale was calibrated differently. Looking ahead, if I were Team Guzman, I'd try like the dickens to weigh a bit under the max, just so this situation doesn't occur again. If Guzman wants a marquee cashout bout against a Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan or someone still relevant who is a step down from there, he'd do well to show the world that he takes training ultra-seriously. It's more likely that he'll get a gig as a steppingstone for a young lion, but this being the fight game, the theater of the unexpected, one never knows.

Floyd: Pac must leave Arum to make fight

February, 28, 2012
He's right there with many of the glittering talents who have graced the stage of the Apollo Theater in Harlem in the past century. Floyd Mayweather Jr. has "it," the charisma that forces people -- love him or loathe him -- to pay attention.

Thousands of folks waited outside the theater on Tuesday to gain entrance to see "Money" talk up his May 5 Las Vegas clash with 154-pound champ Miguel Cotto, the Puerto Rican ace who has held crowns in three weight divisions.

Once inside, several hundred fans made their presence felt -- noisily -- making it hard at times to concentrate on the goings on.

But my mind drifted during the event anyway. As I heard Mayweather talk about what a stern test Cotto is, and how his lengthy run at the top of the heap comes from his loyalty to hard work, I found myself pondering a fight that won't happen on May 5 ... or maybe at all. The Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao showdown.

Of course I asked the requisite questions, because that's only fair and righteous. It wouldn't be decent to Cotto to act as if he had no shot against Mayweather or that this exercise is merely an appetizer until we get to the main course. But, nothwithstanding how Cotto looked on Dec. 3 at MSG against Antonio Margarito, and how it looks like he has had a happy fire lit under him by Cuban trainer Pedro Diaz, I do think he will be in over his head on May 5.

That's no slam. I think Mayweather handles everyone from 140 to 160 pounds. He's simply a stunning, stellar pugilist whom I think mastered the shoulder roll in his crib.

The media conference got off to a late start -- what, you think Mayweather isn't going to make 'em wait, in the grand tradition of the main attraction? -- and we heard ample boos when the spotlight bathed "Money" and his name was announced. Mayweather didn't frown. No, he grinned, fully aware that each and every soul motivated to boo and hiss would also be motivated to purchase the pay-per-view in May.

This fight will take place at 154 pounds, and some wonder how Mayweather, maybe better suited for 147, will deal with the physical Cotto. Floyd managed to land a shot at Manny Pacquiao while delving into this matter. "I want to fight the best Miguel Cotto," he said. "I don't want to fight you at a catchweight." This referred to Pacquiao's occasional tactic of demanding that foes weigh under the high-end weight limit for his bouts.

Floyd was asked about his Jan. 13 Jeremy Lin tweet, which went as follows: "Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he's Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don't get the same praise." He said he wasn't backing off the comment, but offered that the media does tend to twist his words and cherry pick to fit their needs. Why, he wondered, wasn't more made of his praise of Lin? He mentioned that a few people write his tweets, but this one, he said, was all him.

But of course, the topic of Manny Pacquiao came up. Mayweather was asked if he thought a fight with the Filipino would go down. He didn't sound optimistic, saying that any talk of a 50-50 revenue split with Manny is a non-starter. OK, he was less than optimistic; when asked it that fight will happen, he answered, "Absolutely not." He said any talk of him being afraid to fight Pacman is nonsense, and offered one avenue to make the road to fruition easier to travel.

"The only way I think a fight the guy with three losses and I-don't-know-how-many draws, the only way that fight happens is he has to leave Bob Arum," Mayweather said. "And I'm not telling him to leave, because I know how the media is -- they take your words and screw them up. They make it the way they want to make it."

I asked Top Rank if Arum wanted to respond. A rep wrote back: "What's to respond to? Floyd clearly does not want to fight Manny."

Note: Cotto had been with Bob Arum and Top Rank forever, but he didn't re-sing with Arum when his contract ended in December. He signed on with Golden Boy for this fight, a single fight deal. If he was still with Arum, almost certainly this date with Mayweather would not have been realized.

Note No. 2: Mayweather didn't dispute any specifics in the reports of the last round of negotiations. A couple weeks ago, Pacquiao advisor Michael Koncz said he offered a compromise to Mayweather in the form of a $50 million guarantee to each and a 55-45 revenue split in PPV monies, with the extra portion going to the winner, and that Floyd turned it down, preferring for Pacman to simply receive a flat fee and no slice of the PPV pie.

Dana White calls Floyd Mayweather "racist"

February, 22, 2012
Floyd Mayweather got mad buzz when he dissed Jeremy Lin on Feb. 13, Tweeting, “Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he's Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don't get the same praise.” The greatest prizefighter of his era hasn’t backed off that assertion, either, even though he’s taken some heavy heat for it. No, it’s been business as usual for “Money” who’s been partyin’, gamblin’, training and showin’ off the bling in the days following his Lin sin.

Another shoot from the lip Twitterer, UFC head honcho Dana White, who is an immense boxing fan, stirred it up on the Feb. 21 installment of “UFC Tonight” on FuelTV. He called Mayweather “racist” for making the Lin assertion, pointing out that Mayweather has a history here, busting on Filipino Manny Pacquiao with Asian stereotypes in September 2010.

White said plenty of African-Americans get ample praise, men like Kobe and Michael Jordan, and labeled Mayweather a “knucklehead” and then “dummy.” He told Floyd to fight Pacquiao, and that “if there’s ever a fight in history that should be split fifty-fifty it’s the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. Shut up, both of you split the money up, and put on the fight that everybody including me wants to see…I know that I speak for millions and millions of other people. Shut up, and make the fight, Floyd.”

No counterpunch, as of yet, from Mayweather, on Twitter…

Floyd Mayweather Jr. trashes Jeremy Lin

February, 13, 2012

Even if I didn't know that Floyd Mayweather Jr. had a fight set up, on May 5 in Las Vegas against Miguel Cotto, I could have told you that the best sweet scientist of this era was due to glove up in short order. This is not because I have any particular psychic abilities but because Mayweather has begun a campaign to stir the pot on Twitter.

A little after 4 p.m. ET Monday, Mayweather wrote, "Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he's Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don't get the same praise."

The reaction was swift, severe and completely predictable. You see, this is because Mayweather is almost as good at manipulating the media (chuckleheads like me who he knows will spread the word about his latest Twitter escapade) and the masses directly as he is inside the squared circle. I say almost as good, because it really doesn't take a master to get people to respond to minor league race/ethnicity baiting, as Mayweather engaged in when he took a shot at New York's latest folk hero, Knicks guard Jeremy Lin.

I wonder whether Floyd has lost something off the fastball in the pot-stirring arena, and whether that might translate into a lessened effectiveness in the ring against Cotto, because his statement is easily picked apart with minimal effort. Lin became the first NBA player of any color, of any ethnic origin, to score at least 20 points and dish seven assists in his first four starts.

Mayweather engaged in similar idiocy in September 2010, a few months before he took on Shane Mosley, with a UStream diatribe against Manny Pacquiao, in which he engaged in unseemly racial stereotyping. He directed the Filipino Congressman and oughta-be rival Pacquiao to "make some sushi rolls and cook some rice." He also said, "We're going to cook him with some cats and dogs."

You can argue that the shame should be on us for reporting the foolish antics. Maybe we should feel sympathy for Mayweather, who turns 35 on Feb. 24, who perhaps senses his stellar ride won't be infinite and is facing a jail sentence starting in June for assaulting his ex-girlfriend in 2010, less than a week after the UStream silliness.

Rather than being mad, I'm sad, because with his talent, he doesn't need to "stay relevant," which is the term he always uses in the context of staying in the news, by resorting to such lame and obvious stunts to get ink. If history plays to form, we should be receiving an apology along the lines of the one Mayweather put out a few days after his UStream rant. "I do want to apologize for what happened the other night," Mayweather said then. "I want to apologize to everybody. They felt it was a racist comment that came from me. I don't have a racist bone in my body, you know. I love everybody. Some of my guys are Muslims. Some of my guys are Jews. Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Mexicans, whites, it doesn't matter. There is nothing but love in my heart, you know what I'm saying?"

We do know what you're saying, and we think you're capable of better.