Mailbag: Pac-man, Pavlik, and more

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Manny Pacquiao's win over Marco Antonio Barrera generated plenty of reader feedback. So, too, did the collapse of the deal between the UFC and HBO.

But nothing generated more reader attention in the past week than the story about middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik and his father, Mike, forgetting their six-figure paychecks in their hotel room after Pavlik's knockout of Jermain Taylor on Sept. 29.

Pavlik told the Youngstown Vindicator, his hometown newspaper, that the worst thing that has happened to him since winning the title has been the story about the check. But he should have said the opposite.

That story humanized him in a way no knockout victory could. The amount of response was probably 20 times greater to the check story than to the one on his title victory.

I'll get to questions about Pavlik, as well, as many on Pacquiao-Barrera and assorted topics in the boxing and MMA worlds.

My answers appear in italics below the questions.

Pacman the best

Your statement: "Barrera did all he could on Saturday, but it wasn't nearly enough to compete with a fighter at least a few think is the best in the world." There are not a few who think that he is the best, there are millions who watch boxing around the world and know that he is the best pound for pound. Do you really know anybody better? Maybe it's just your unfounded discriminatory opinions that you really not need to even publicly make a comment on.

Mars Delacuesta
Bloomfield, N.J.

Discriminatory opinions? I'm a middle-aged white guy picking a 20-something black guy (Floyd Mayweather) as the best fighter in the world and vigorously defending that opinion for seven years and I'm discriminatory? Pacquiao is clearly a more exciting fighter, but Mayweather is the best all-around fighter. Case closed.

Pacman's getting better

Pacquiao has seemingly refined his amazing skills even more! Manny for years was like the Tasmanian Devil in the ring. He would come out and attack from anywhere and worry later about getting hit. Now it seems trainer Freddie Roach is reining him in without completely reinventing Manny. The Pacquiao energy is what makes him great! Finally, it was truly nice to see how Barrera was able to know his time is over and bow out with class. The wars between Barrera, Pacquiao and Morales were fantastic for boxing fans, but took their toll on Morales and Barrera. Morales has bowed out as well. … They were truly giants of the science of boxing.

Scott B.

I agree with pretty much everything you said, Scott. Pacquiao's footwork and his right hand are 100 percent improved from when I first saw him about six or seven years ago. And I totally agree with your take on Barrera. He was a classy guy in and out of the ring and he handled the situation the way you hope every fighter would. He competed in two of the greatest bouts I've ever had a privilege to watch from ringside. His third fight with Erik Morales is the second best fight I've ever seen in person, behind the 2005 classic between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo.

Sadly, though, Morales is already making rumblings about fighting again. Top Rank won't promote him, but I think Morales is going to give it another try. He's only asking to be seriously injured.

Barrera was robbed

Are you serious about what happened in the fight? It was clear that Barrera won rounds 2-10. Anyway, it's not that Barrera refused to accept defeat. It's that the judges refused to see all the punches that Barrera landed. I hope Barrera walks away from this crooked sport once and for all!

Luis Sanchez
Brownsville, Texas

I know how you feel, Luis, because something similar has been happening to me. Somehow, my banker refuses to see all those millions I keep depositing in my savings account. Strange how that works, isn't it?

Tyson could lick 'em all

As much as it pains me to, I must wholeheartedly agree with you that the heavyweight division in boxing has become a sad joke. The mere fact that James Toney and Roy Jones Jr. defeated heavyweight champions (and also that Jones went back down to light heavyweight and got his butt kicked) speaks volumes. Would you agree with me that as pathetic as Mike Tyson has become, if he were to attempt another comeback we could not totally rule that out? As much as I hate Floyd Mayweather Jr., if he were to attempt to win this division I would have to put him in the top 10 of heavyweights. Sound ridiculous? Maybe not. The division has slipped that badly.

Tadd Dickey

I'll use your word and describe Tyson's late-career boxing as pathetic. But how did he get pathetic? By losing to guys like Danny Williams and Kevin McBride. So, no, as bad as the heavyweights are, I don't think Iron Mike would make much headway toward the top.

As for Mayweather, I'm betting you have never met him, so I don't know how you can say you hate him. Hate is a pretty strong word.

Mayweather haters

I wanted to know your opinion on why there are so many Floyd Mayweather haters. It's obvious he's the best pound-for-pound fighter and it's also obvious that his skills are superior to Ricky Hatton's. Everyone who says Hatton is going to knock out Mayweather doesn't realize Hatton doesn't have one-punch knockout power. He stops opponents by using pressure and throwing a million punches, not by one punch. People are also forgetting that Hatton is the one moving up to fight Mayweather so he's actually the smaller and weaker opponent.

Woodbridge, Va.

Mayweather is a trash talker and a braggart and there is a large segment of the population who abhor that in an athlete. And Mayweather is a defensive-oriented, safety-first fighter. And there is another large segment who abhors that. That's why he's not on a lot of Christmas card lists. But I agree: He's going to spank Hatton.

Unfair to big Sam

I think you are being a bit unfair when talking about Sam Peter, especially when you mention his fights with James Toney. Toney has more than 70 professional fights and he has never been stopped. He has faced plenty of guys with power, like Hasim Rahman, Evander Holyfield, Vasiliy Jirov and Roy Jones Jr. Although Toney is small, he is very hard to hit and has a heavyweight chin. Is Peter a great champion? No, but he is the second best heavyweight in the world, and even in a weak era, that should count for something.

Kent, Conn.

I agree, Ames. I rate the current heavyweights like this: 1. Wladimir Klitschko; 2. Samuel Peter; 3. Ruslan Chagaev; 4. Cal Brock; 5. Nikolai Valuev. But let's be honest here: Do you really think that a Tyson at the same stage of his career as Peter would have not knocked out the Toney whom Peter faced? Peter can punch, but I don't believe his power is as good as originally thought. He clubbed a lot of third-rate fighters on the way up.

But his one-punch knockout of Jeremy Williams remains one of the finest and most brutal kayos I've ever seen in person.

Single commission

I just read the Bob Arum Q&A and noticed he dodged the question about the possibility of a single commission overseeing the sport and the alphabet belts merging. I would like to see a column that realistically assesses why this hasn't happened and how likely it is. I like your columns and it was great to see boxing on the front page of Yahoo! Sports today, even if it was more of a humor story about Pavlik losing the checks.

Columbiana, Ohio

Boxing doesn't need the federal government's help to straighten out its problems. That would create more issues than it would solve. What it needs to do is continue to make its best fight the best, severely limit the number of pay-per-view shows, work diligently to put fewer fights on premium cable like HBO and Showtime and more on either basic cable or, ideally, free over-the-air channels, and hire competent public relations and marketing people who can deliver the message of the sport's many successes in front of the masses.

Roach vs. Barrera

When is Freddie Roach coming out of retirement to fight Barrera? Roach is a big mouth who is constantly offending the Mexicans. Making him fight Barrera himself will only be justice. Emiliano Zapata
Austin, Texas

You know, if I'm not mistaken, I think I heard Roach saying the other day that Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. is a bum, that Jose Napoles was a club fighter and that he'd have wiped the floor with Salvador Sanchez. I'm pretty sure that was Roach I heard saying that. I'm sure it was. Seriously.

Pavlik turns him on

Kelly Pavlik has gotten me excited about boxing again. I've been boxing and watching fights since I was 5. Boxing is my first love, but ever since I watched the first UFC back in 1993, I've been a fan of that sport. Lately, I find myself paying more and more attention to MMA. After watching Pavlik vs. Edison Miranda, I had a feeling I was seeing something special. After the Pavlik vs. Taylor fight, I'm really excited about boxing again. Pavlik is the best thing to happen to boxing since Mike Tyson revitalized the heavyweight division in the mid-80s.

Jimmy Monti

Pavlik is a fun guy to watch. He's kind of like a 160-pound version of Erik Morales and that's not a bad thing. Top Rank is thinking of matching him with John Duddy, because Duddy has a fanatical following among Irish fans in the New York City area. While that would undoubtedly draw tens of thousands to Madison Square Garden, it would be obscene if that match were made. Arum talks about the best fighting the best, but Duddy is nowhere near qualified yet to fight for the middleweight title. That bout would be made solely for money.

Take it or leave it

Regarding the boxer who left his check in his hotel room, I just want to say, "See, it isn't always about the money. He could take it or leave it."

Ric Henderson
Marietta, Ga.

Pavlik left his $666,750 check in his hotel room, but Top Rank cut him a new check and he got his dough. He even bought a new set of tires for his car. But one prominent fighter I'll let go unnamed made a six-figure purse for a fight in Las Vegas. I later ran into him in the casino and he asked to borrow money. I laughed and said I should be borrowing from him because of what he made that night and he responded that he had already lost it all in the casino, less than 90 minutes after the bout. That is what I call losing a check.

Can't get enough of Kevin Iole's MMA/Boxing mailbag? Then check out last week's edition.