Mailbag: Dawson's homecoming

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! SportsNovember 3, 2009

I'm not sure if it says more about the state of boxing or about the appeal of unbeaten Chad Dawson, but in his last two fights, both of which were in Las Vegas against Antonio Tarver, he failed to draw a combined 2,500 fans.

So when he meets Glen Johnson on Saturday in a rematch for the interim World Boxing Council light heavyweight belt, the fight will be in Hartford, Conn., near Dawson's hometown of New Haven.

Hartford isn't a boxing hotbed, though it did produce Marlon Starling, a two-time world champion who was one of the best welterweights of the loaded 1980s.

Freddie Roach, the three-time Trainer of the Year who is preparing pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao for his Nov. 14 showdown in Las Vegas with Miguel Cotto, was in Starling's corner the last time there was a major fight in Hartford.

But it wasn't a typical bout, as the young Roach was violating union rules and nearly got into a brawl with several union members.

"These guys were supposed to build the ring (for Starling's Sept. 15, 1989, fight with Yung-Kil Chung), but they weren't sure what they were doing," Roach said on Monday before Pacquiao's workout. "I knew how to do it, so I got in there and worked with them and helped them."

A little after noon, with Starling slated to work out at 1, Roach walked into the arena and noticed the ropes were loose. The workers were sitting around the ring, so Roach climbed in and began to tighten them. One of the workers picked up a wrench and hit Roach, stunning him and then turning the one-time brawling featherweight into a very angry man.

"The guy told me, 'This is lunch time and you can't do any work now,' " Roach said. "And I said, 'My guy has to work out at 1 and these ropes need to be tightened.' I just went crazy. It almost got to be pretty bad."

Roach managed to be restrained – "I would have hurt somebody," he said – and Starling managed to win a unanimous decision to retain the WBC title in what turned out to be the last victory of his career.

Dawson, who never went for the kill in his two lackluster wins over Tarver, could use some of Roach's fire on Saturday when he meets Johnson on HBO.

With that, I'll get to your questions and comments in this week's mailbag, though I'd also like to ask that you follow me on Twitter.

Manny on Mayweather

I would like to know your reaction on this statement Manny Pacquiao made about Floyd Mayweather Jr. to the Associated Press' Greg Beacham: "Boxing for him is like a business. He doesn't care about the people around him watching. He doesn't care if the fight is boring, as long as the fight is finished and he gets (plenty of) money. … I want people to be happy. You have a big responsibility as a boxer." I wish the fight between Pac and Money will be made so that the sport of boxing will again live up to its name as "The Sweet Science."

Ronnel Victor de la Cruz
Mindanao, Philippines

I mostly agree with Pacquiao's assessment. Now, Mayweather is so good defensively that opponents frequently can't hit him. And I'm not about to suggest he allow himself to be hit simply to become more entertaining. Mayweather is a highly skilled boxer whose defense-oriented style is made for those who appreciate nuance more than a slugfest. But believe me when I tell you that Pacquiao's comment is also self-serving. He also is very interested in money and isn't looking to please anyone at cut-rate prices. He demands top dollar.

Respect for Cotto

Where is the respect for Miguel Cotto? This is not a tune-up fight for Pacquiao. This is his first real challenge since he lost to Juan Manuel Marquez. And yes, despite the records, he lost. Everybody, including promoter Bob Arum, talks about Pacquiao-Mayweather. Wow. His own promoter has no respect for him. Roach says Pac-man will knock out Cotto in the first round. What a surprise the world is in for on Nov. 14! What will be the excuse when Cotto wins? He was too strong or too big? Pacquiao had a lot of distractions? Cotto needs a knockout to win? The judges are not going to give the fight to Cotto when the Mayweather fight is almost done.

Israel Miranda
Puerto Rico

Israel, I think Cotto deserves a lot of respect and probably more than he's gotten. That said, Arum isn't always talking about Pacquiao- Mayweather. He's answering questions that are asked by the media. He was asked about it at a Cotto workout Monday in Las Vegas and said he didn't know if the fight would happen and tried to turn the conversation back to Cotto. This is a great fight and one I've been looking forward to since before it was even made.

Pacquiao, Cotto aren't hungry

After watching the first episode of "Pacquiao-Cotto: 24/7" on HBO, it appears to me that neither Pacquiao or Cotto seem hungry any more. Well, Cotto looked hungry for some Puerto Rican barbecue, but not as a fighter. Is this the story the HBO 24/7 production team is trying to portray? They have Pacquiao surrounded by an entourage of shady people and disrespecting Freddie Roach and they have Cotto moving his training camp to Tampa, Florida to enjoy backyard barbecues.

Roy B.
Aliso Viejo, Calif.

Roy, I think you see it incorrectly. First, the guys on HBO's production staff are not setting anything up. Pacquiao has hired the people who are around him. HBO did not put them there. And whether they're shady is not for me to say, since I have no evidence that that's true. I can tell you that I received more than one phone call from joyous sounding boxing insiders when news broke that Pacquiao conditioning coach Alex Ariza had beaten up adviser Mike Koncz. I have no problem with how either man is being portrayed. And I should add that I believe each man wants to win desperately.

Cotto's size a factor

The more I think about the Pacquiao-Cotto fight, the more I wonder about the issue of Cotto's size. I know there was this talk when Manny was about to fight Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton, but this situation is different. De La Hoya was not physically capable anymore and Hatton was so brutally outclassed it didn't matter. Cotto might not be as great after the Antonio Margarito fight, but he's a real welterweight, in his prime and has proven he can handle fighters with great speed (Mosley). My questions are: Can Pacquiao take the shots that Cotto will deliver? It took Margarito (possibly with an illegal substance in his hand wraps) more than 10 full rounds to stop Cotto. Can Pacquiao survive as long as he will need to take Cotto out?


Brandon, you must have been eavesdropping on a conversation I had with some boxing insiders at Cotto's Las Vegas workout Monday. One astute man, who shall remain nameless, made the very points you've made. He further said, "If Pacquiao had fought Mosley, Zab Judah and Joshua Clottey and Cotto had fought Oscar and Hatton, do you think the perception of them would be different today?" And it's hard to answer that question in the negative. If I was certain Cotto is not damaged goods from that Margarito fight, I'd pick him for the very reasons you cite. I'm going with Pacquiao because I'm thinking Cotto isn't the same and that as a result, he'll be unable to deal with Pacquiao's speed.

Rumble in the Jungle

This was a great article, but you really should have put more accent on the fact that George Foreman came back from his defeat to become a great and worthy champion once again. Most boxers would have folded, never to be heard from again, if they had been whipped in the manner Ali beat down Big George. It took a lot of courage and intestinal fortitude for Foreman to cast away the demons of the past and eventually prove to the world he belonged in the class of the greatest heavyweights in history.

Thomas C. Zarvis
East Dorset, Vt.

Tom, you're right, Foreman did come back and win the world title more than 11 years after that loss. It was an amazing feat. I've chronicled Foreman's comeback and his stunning knockout of Michael Moorer many times, though, and felt this story deserved to focus on Ali.

No Toronto, eh?

I have been searching for an answer anywhere and I can't find one. Why is there never a highly anticipated fight in the city of Toronto? Aside from the fact that there is more money in Vegas, is there any political reason that we can't get a half decent fight?

Mark M.

Mark, it's pretty simple. Promoters are going to put fights where they get a site fee (money they're paid by the venue for bringing the fight there) or where they know they'll sell a lot of tickets. With no major boxers from Toronto, it's difficult to compete against cities like Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Atlantic City, N.J. If there were a top fighter to come out of Toronto and he had a big following, I'm sure there would be fights in the city. That's really it, plain and simple.