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No athlete accomplished more in his or her sport in 2009 than Manny Pacquiao did in boxing.
No athlete did more for his or her country in 2009 than Pacquiao did for the Philippines.
No athlete in 2009 better exemplified the ideals of sportsmanship, grace under pressure and determination than Pacquiao.
No athlete was a better choice in 2009 as Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year than Pacquiao.
Alas, the magazine's many esteemed editors and writers on Monday awarded the honor to New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who is one of the great players in history and a good guy on top of it.
But it was Jeter who came to see Pacquiao compete and not the other way around.
In May, Pacquiao scored a pair of stunning knockouts, stopping Ricky Hatton in the second round to become the linear super lightweight champion. He moved up again in November and knocked out Miguel Cotto in the 12th to win the World Boxing Organization welterweight title.
If you're counting, that's five sanctioning body championship belts and two linear championships.
As much as Jeter does for charity, can anyone with a straight face suggest he does more for his community than Pacquiao does for the Philippines, where he has become a national icon?
When typhoons struck the Philippines as Pacquiao was preparing to face Cotto, he literally thrust himself into the eye of the storm to provide aid.
No boxer has won the award since Sugar Ray Leonard in 1981 and a non-American hasn't won since Sammy Sosa in 1998. That made Pacquiao something of a long shot. Derek Jeter was a good choice. Manny Pacquiao, though, would have been the perfect choice.
With that, let's hop right into the boxing mailbag as I answer your questions and comments.
Pacman, money in the Bronx?
During the Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto press conference at Yankee Stadium, promoter Bob Arum hinted that there would be a fight put on at the Stadium. Is there any chance of the new Yankee Stadium hosting the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Pacquiao bout?
No. Arum said the tax situation in New York would be untenable for Pacquiao, so the fight absolutely will not be held in Yankee Stadium. I believe the fight will wind up somewhere in Las Vegas, though there will be much competition for it from other cities.
Bout no yawner
While I agree that Mayweather will probably defeat Pacquiao if/when they meet, I think Jason in E. Orange, N.J., goes too far when he wrote in your mailbag last week that the fight would be "a yawner." Hell, just watching both men walk to the ring will be more exciting than 90 percent of other sporting events! And if nothing else, Pacquiao's proven that he's far beyond Juan Manuel Marquez in terms of hand speed and just flat out ferocity (He doesn't have a bad chin, either). Pacquiao won't quit, that's for sure. He'll force Mayweather into the best fight of his career. But I think Mayweather's up to it and will win by stoppage in the 10th.
I agree with much of what you have to say, Lodo. There is nothing quite like a major championship fight and this is going to be bigger than nearly all of them. I can't wait until it finally happens.
Judging was horrible
To write in your column on the decision in the Ali Funeka-Joan Guzman fight that judges "Alan Davis and Benoit Roussel made a mistake" is an understatement. It is hard to call someone a "honest judge" after that decision. By no stretch of the imagination should two professional judges see this fight even! With Guzman recently signing with Golden Boy Promotions, it's suspicious to see HBO involved. Golden Boy has a relationship with HBO to bring championship fights to the network. A loss for Guzman is another setback for Golden Boy and HBO. There has been many Golden Boy boxers on the losing end of fights recently and this was an attempt to keep another Golden Boy fighter from receiving a lose and potentially decreasing the interest in Guzman and the ability to generate a super fight for him in the future.
As I wrote, Shadreh, I think the decision was terrible. Call it incompetence, but there is no evidence that either man did something untoward. They simply blew it. And while we don't have to like it, it happens. Now, while I agree that HBO has a very cozy relationship with Golden Boy, in no way did that have anything to do with the judging in the fight. And I can assure you that there is no super fight in Guzman's future and no one at HBO is losing a wink of sleep about whether he'll ever grace their airwaves again.
Should we buy PPV?
Do you actually think boxing fans should purchase pay-per-view events? I for one will not. The Pacquiao-Cotto fight was not worth $60. Don't you think the promoters such as Bob Arum are robbing the fans? The undercard was horrible and an insult to even the casual fan. Why even put an undercard if it's going to be that bad? The viewers are basically paying $60 for just one fight. Boxing fans need to be aware and boycott all these PPV fights.
Van Nuys, Calif.
I agree that the undercard of Pacquiao-Cotto was terrible, but it looked strong compared to the one, say, that was put underneath Mayweather-De la Hoya. That said, the reason promoters have begun doing this is that their research tells them that the public buys solely for the main event. I'd like to see some great fights on the undercards, but promoters are going to put about 90 percent of the money into the main event. It doesn't save much for the undercard. If the undercard is that important to you, I say boycott. But you might regret that if you miss a spectacular main event.
Who's ducking whom?
Mayweather was with Top Rank for 10 years and people say he was ducking fighters like Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, etc. around '04-'05. Don't the promoters make the fights? If so, how can Mayweather be accused of ducking fighters when he had no control over who he fought when he was under Bob Arum?
He had plenty of control, Kwasi. A promoter can't force a fighter to fight someone he doesn't want to. I've long defended Mayweather and I don't believe he's actually made a conscious decision and said, "I'm afraid I'm going to get beaten up and I don't want to fight this guy." That said, he's been a welterweight for four years, since late 2005. For whatever reason, he hasn't fought Shane Mosley, Paul Williams, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey or Antonio Margarito, all of whom have been fighting at welterweight during his time in the division. He did fight Sharmba Mitchell and Hatton, who were primarily 140-pounders, and Juan Manuel Marquez, who was a 135-pounder. It's hard to argue with Mayweather's business success, but his reputation isn't the same as it was when he was a lightweight and a super featherweight.
Can they beat Williams?
With all this talk that a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the best boxing has right now, I can help but think that Paul Williams could beat them both. This is tough for me to say because I'm such a big Pretty Boy Floyd fan, but Paul Williams must be one of the best athletes in boxing, and he's a freak because he can fight in so many weight classes. What do you think about Williams' future? Do you think he can attain superstar status like Manny and Floyd?
Williams would be an extraordinarily difficult matchup for either man, assuming he can still make 147 and be healthy, which I highly doubt. I think Williams needs to stay in one division and clean out the top contenders if he wants to become a star. He has an important fight Saturday in Atlantic City against Sergio Martinez.
No love for Bute?
Is the Super Six tournament going on without the current best super middleweight, Lucian Bute? Bute has more credentials at 168 than all the other participants. I'm probably biased but I feel our hometown hero is not getting the recognition he deserves. Hopefully, his knockout of Librado Andrade will finally open some eyes.
I like Bute as a fighter and he was impressive in handling Andrade on Saturday. I had suggested adding him to the Super Six field would have made sense. But I disagree that he had better credentials going in than all the other competitors. That would have been Mikkel Kessler. And he's not the best 168-pounder in the world. That is Andre Ward.