As much progress as boxing has made over the last several years, it still hasn't reclaimed the position in the sports world it held as recently as the early 1980s.
Part of the reason is because no one in a position to do so is willing to grow the sport the way the owners of the UFC are trying to grow mixed martial arts.
It would have made too much sense, for instance, for a boxing promoter to have staged a fight on Sunday in the Phoenix area that could have been broadcast Sunday afternoon prior to the Super Bowl.
Instead of fighting on HBO's Boxing After Dark on Saturday, it would have made sense, for instance, if promoter Dan Goossen had pitched the WBA welterweight title fight between unbeaten champion Paul Williams and once-beaten challenger Carlos Quintana to FOX for a Sunday afternoon showing.
The promoter might have had to take less money and may have been saddled with additional costs, but it would have been a move that would have done wonders for the sport.
Oscar De La Hoya said his promotional company, Golden Boy Promotions, is actively talking to network television about showing matches on the networks.
That, along with boxer cooperation, is the only way that the sport is going to regain the luster it once had.
But even if the fights get back on the networks, the boxers still must cooperate. When I read a news release issued by publicists for IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko the other day, I had to shake my head.
Reporters are being allowed into Klitschko's training camp for a day of sparring and then a round of interviews. But on sparring day, the reporters can only watch Klitschko and not speak to him. Interviews won't come until the next day.
Could you ever imagine Muhammad Ali closing his training camp and not speaking to reporters? He became the biggest attraction in the history of the sport and one of the biggest figures of the 20th century because he never declined a chance to get his name in the media.
These fighters who say they need to focus ought to remember Ali. He was better than nearly every one of them, yet he focused plenty while doing more interviews before one fight than most of them do in their entire careers.
Having said that, I move on to an interesting mailbag in which I answer questions on the fight game, past and present. As always, my answers are in italics:
Why do you think Manny Pacquiao will lose to Juan Manuel Marquez in their rematch on March 15 when Marquez was nearly defeated by Marco Antonio Barrera in their fight last year? Barrera was leading Marquez in the first six rounds and the fight just turned around after the controversial call by the referee in the seventh round. On the other hand, Pacquiao won against Barrera with no pressure at all. There's no sense using their first fight as a reference because both fighters have improved so much in the past years and Manny would no longer be victimized by Marquez' counterpunching because Manny is no longer the type of fighter who always aims for the knockout. He has shifted from a knockout artist to an intelligent boxer.
The Marquez-Barrera fight was not what I would call close. It was a clean, clear convincing win by Marquez. Marquez is simply a better boxer than Pacquiao, whose punches are still wide. Not many can take advantage of that, but Marquez, who throws straight punches and is very accurate, can and will. It will be a close, competitive fight, in my opinion, and no shock if Pacquiao would win. But I like Marquez by a decision.
BLAST FROM PAST
Do you remember a boxer by the name of Mantequilla Napoles? I remember him from my childhood growing up in Mexico. All the kids in the neighborhood wanted to be like him. Do you know anything about him?
Jose Napoles is a Cuban who was known as "Mantequilla" because his style was smooth like butter. He was one of the great fighters of the 1960s and 1970s and I remember him well. He's a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and has wins over two other Hall members, Curtis Cokes and Emile Griffith. He held the welterweight title but lost in a bid to win the middleweight crown when he was knocked out by the great Carlos Monzon. Oscar De La Hoya's father, Joel De La Hoya Sr., was also a huge fan of Napoles.
HAD IT HIS WAY
Just a comment about Oscar De La Hoya. He fought Bernard Hopkins at 158. He fought Floyd Mayweather at 154. He must have been 15, maybe 20 pounds heavier than Julio Cesar Chavez for both fights. He fought a much smaller Sweet Pea Whitaker, etc., etc. Oscar has always loaded the dice in his favor. He reminds me of Sugar Ray Leonard, who deserves the biggest run and hide award. Leonard's 1982 press conference where he turned down a fight with Marvelous Marvin Hagler was unforgivable. Only after he watched Marvin take serious punishment against John "The Beast" Mugabi did he decide that he might be able to exploit a situation. Parallels with De La Hoya are so obvious. Both are/were big names who could and did dictate policy and proceedings.
I agree that De La Hoya fought many of his biggest fights at a weight that was beneficial to him or at a time that favored him. But Hopkins was the bigger man and De La Hoya moved up to face him. There is really no fighter of note who competed in a class he did that he didn't face. Perhaps the only exception is Winky Wright.
RATING THE SUPER FEATHERS
Where do you rate Pacman, Chris John, Edwin Valero, Joan Guzman and others in the super featherweight division from a scale of 1 to 10?
John is a featherweight, so I won't consider him. I'd rate the top 130-pounders Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao, Joan Guzman, Humberto Soto, Edwin Valero and Alex Arthur. I'd rather Marquez and Pacquiao each a 9. Give Marquez a 9.6 and Pacquiao a 9.4. I'd have Guzman at 8.7, Soto at 7.3, Valero at 7.1 and Arthur at 6.9.
Would you mind rating these fighters in your personal Top 100: Floyd Mayweather Jr., Oscar De La Hoya, Roy Jones Jr., and Mike Tyson. Also, who is your number one?
The No. 1 fighter ever is easy. Sugar Ray Robinson. There is no debate. I'd rather wait until a fighter's career is complete before I rank him on an all-time scale, but I'll put Jones at 75, Mayweather at 90 and Tyson at 95. I don't believe De La Hoya is one of the 100 best fighters ever.
FLOYD OR FREDDIE?
Who do you feel would do a better job at training Oscar De La Hoya for his upcoming Mayweather bout, Mayweather Sr. or Freddie Roach?
I'd take Mayweather Sr., only because he's been with Oscar longer and because he knows his son's style so well. Both men are elite trainers.
I have to disagree with you this time on your comments about Kelly Pavlik fighting John Duddy. If Pavlik is able to get by Jermain Taylor, he will have beaten Edison Miranda and then Taylor twice in a row. He's the champ, and any champ in any weight class deserves to take a tune-up fight now then. Unlike other sports, a boxer has to make what he can while he is at the top. Sugar Ray Leonard always fought the best, but he also took a lot of tune-up fights as well. After he won the welterweight title against Benitez, his next fight was against Davey Boy Green. After he won the title back from Duran during the 'No Mas' fight, he fought unknown Larry Bonds. After he won the super fight against Thomas Hearns, he signed on to fight Bruce Finch. Honestly, Pavlik doesn't look like the type of guy that's going to duck anyone. However, one thing I think we can both agree on, is he has to get by Taylor again, which is no easy task.
Reye, I don't mind if Pavlik takes something of a lesser fight if he gets past Taylor on Feb. 16 (which I believe he will). My comment in last week's mailbag was directed more toward Duddy as a challenger. I don't think Duddy has done anything remotely deserving of getting a title shot. That's the basis of my objection. Pavlik would fight a hungry grizzly bear if he were told that's who was the top challenger.
A rumor has been spreading around that Jermain Taylor is now using Buddy McGirt as his trainer. However, I have never found any concrete evidence of such. Is this true or not?
Not true. Taylor will be trained by Ozell Nelson for his rematch with Pavlik.
- Can't get enough of Kevin Iole's mailbag? Then check out last week's edition.