Mailbag: Year-end edition

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

It's eight months since I began to work at Yahoo! Sports as the boxing and mixed marital arts columnist. And as I write this, I must say that Lou Gehrig's famous speech, when he said at Yankee Stadium, "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth," is reverberating in my brain.

This is my dream job and I'm so thrilled to have it. And I want to take this opportunity to thank the millions of readers who have come to the site, read my work and commented on it and the fight game.

It's been a blast and I look forward to more of the same in 2008.

With that, let's get on to the final boxing mailbag for 2007:

A BIGOTED MORON

How in God's name could you not give Mayweather your Fighter of the Year? You are an insensitive bigot, and if you think you can use some weak excuse as to why Floyd isn't Fighter of the Year then you don't respect people's intelligence. You are just like the rest of the white media: biased, spiteful and jealous. It's a good thing what you think doesn't matter. I'm just sending this message because I want your sorry ass to think about it when you take your poor white ass to sleep tonight, you (expletive) dumb, hateful Neanderthal. You and your kind's time is just about to come to an end. Savor it while it lasts.

Shawn
Morristown, N.J.

Merry Christmas, Shawn. I hope Santa brought you a heart and a brain, because you need both. I don't need to defend myself against someone with an IQ lower than his shoe size, but for those with brains, I'll point this out: I was the first reporter to call Mayweather the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. I did that in 2000. I was taking all sorts of abuse for predicting that Mayweather would rout De La Hoya in May and for saying that he'd win every round against Hatton. Mayweather had a great year; however, he was a huge favorite to beat Hatton and only won a split decision against De La Hoya. I have long raved about Mayweather's skills and think he's clearly the top boxer in the world. In this case, though, Cotto faced tougher opposition and came out with clear victories, so he deserves to be the Fighter of the Year.


BAD RATIONALE

When Mayweather said he was retiring after his win over De La Hoya, many boxing analysts stated he should not retire when guys such as Hatton, Cotto, Mosley and others were out there whom he could fight. Obviously, Floyd took the Hatton fight, in which many, including you, thought he may lose. Now that he won you down play the skills of Hatton. I do not understand this. I believe that if Floyd beat Cotto that you would undermine Cotto's skills as well. Floyd is a human being as well, so why won't you guys ever give the boy his due justice?

Martez
Waukegan, Ill.

If you can ever show one thing I've written that suggested he could lose to Hatton, I'll buy you dinner. I predicted Mayweather would win every round against Hatton and I never wavered on that point. And, by the way, Martez, he's a man, not a boy.


NOT THE BEST

I have been a boxing fan for a long time and have watched a lot of good fights. I've seen just about every Floyd Mayweather Jr. bout. In my opinion, Mayweather is not No. 1 pound-for-pound. I rankings and you had him No. 1 over Manny Pacquiao. He's not No. 1. I'm actually a pretty big fan of Floyd's but he's not the best. Why? Because he avoids guys who can get him in trouble. Look at him dodge a fight with Miguel Cotto. Look at him dodge a fight with (Antonio) Margarito. Pacquiao would never turn down those fights! How can you put Mayweather at No. 1?

Corey Isaacs
Harlem, N.Y.

He's 18-0 with nine knockouts in championship fights. When he won his first title, he defeated Genaro Hernandez, who at the time was widely considered the top 130-pounder in the world. Mayweather won every completed round and then Hernandez quit after eight rounds. He defended the 130-pound title against five current, future or ex-champions. He won every round against Diego Corrales and knocked him down five times at a point Corrales was terrorizing that division. When Mayweather moved to lightweight, he took on the best guy in the division, Jose Luis Castillo, in his first fight. He won the title, then beat him even easier in a rematch. He's done similar things at every weight he's been at and has lost fewer than a handful of rounds in each. He's been world champion at 130, 135, 140, 147 and 154 pounds. I think those are a few of the reasons he qualifies as No. 1.


RETIREMENT TALK

Why is it when a top level fighter loses one fight, experts come out talking about retirement? I've already seen such suggestions regarding Hatton by people, including Lennox Lewis! If this concept were followed to its logical conclusion, wouldn't it empty the division? If Nos. 2 or 3 should retire, where would that leave everyone else? I'm trying to understand the logic of these "he should retire" comments when directed toward fighters who are clearly still in the upper echelons.

Joshua B. Lilly
Virginia

I didn't see Lennox' comments, but I know he's a very insightful man and I respect his opinion. I think the reason you hear those comments, Joshua, is because of the style of a fighter. A guy like Hatton who fights a physical style that exacts a heavy price on the body is at a greater risk than someone who fights a defensive, safety-first style. And so assuming that in the big fights, the fighters make huge purses, the question comes up because the issue of risk vs. reward has to be answered. Is it worth the risk of sustaining further serious injury when there may not be any significant bouts out there after a fighter has earned a payday that has set him up for life financially. But I rarely take retirement talk from a fighter seriously, because nearly every one of them talks about it early but most have a difficult time actually retiring.


FIGHT PICKS

What is your opinion of the Jones Vs Trinidad fight? To me it's just two of my favorite fighters from the decade of the ‘90s fighting each other, so it's a good matchup, but it's not a significant win for either fighter. My pick is Jones all the way, though. I think the weight is just too high for Trinidad. Also, who are you picking in the Kelly Pavlik-Jermain Taylor rematch?

Brian J.
Covina, Calif.

The Jones-Trinidad fight is a match of two over-the-hill fighters competing for a payday. Jones is much too big and has more left and so he should win easily. I like Pavlik in the rematch against Taylor.


PROTEST BAD CALLS

Who do we as fans call to protest all those bad decisions like the one on Nov. 10 in the Joel Casamayor-Jose Armando Santa Cruz fight?

Juan Benitez
Hawthorne, Calif.

Whenever you want to vent, you can call the state athletic commission in the state in which the bout was held. In this case, you would want to contact Ron Scott Stevens at the New York Athletic Commission. But remember, agree or not, these are judgment calls that can't be overturned. I thought the Casamayor-Santa Cruz decision was outrageous and that Santa Cruz won at least nine of the 12 rounds.


PRAISE PAVLIK

I was in the audience when Jermain Taylor was dominated by Kelly Pavlik. Why is Pavlik getting no praise? He's one of the best boxers to come around in a couple of years and yet nothing. It boggles my mind.

Kyle
Atlantic City, N.J.

Pavlik fought a great fight, but he was not dominating. Taylor was actually ahead on all three judges' cards at the time of the knockout. He's gotten plenty of recognition for the win. He moved into the Yahoo! Sports top 10 poll and sits at No. 8 now. He was also one of the four finalists for Fighter of the Year as chosen by Yahoo! Sports, is a finalist for the yet-to-be announced Fighter of the Year Award given by the Boxing Writers Association of America and he was tabbed publicly as the Fighter of the Year by Robert Morales of the Los Angeles Daily News, George Willis of the New York Post and Nat Gotlieb of HBO.com. I'd say he's getting plenty of respect.


WHERE'S WLAD?

It's a loud laugh that IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko isn't even in the Yahoo! Sports top 10. Is it because he is a heavyweight? Or because he is Ukrainian?

Lev Roz
Massachusetts

I have voters from the U.S., Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, Germany, Thailand and the Philippines in my poll and few bothered to include Klitschko on the list. It's not a negative against him, but rather because there are others perceived to be better. And his division is so bad, when's the last time he beat someone who was considered a decent opponent?