POUND-FOR-POUND, THE BEST MANAGER
By The Nonpareil Hilario
A friend of mine drew a number two pencil sketch of the late Mother Theresa. This portrait has been seen by approximately 12,000 strong, in 84 countries, through word of mouth, since 1997. The Mother is touring around the world again, as a gesture of peace, freely by the record keeping artist, Peter Cataloni. Some reply by sending Mother memorabilia, while over 1,100 have sent testimonial letters of miracles, healing, and comfort. Inspired by this portrait, a Mother Theresa statue was erected in Burrillville, RI, a Dorchester, MA church was renamed in her honor and Ben Affleck showed his appreciation by filming Gone Baby Gone bar scenes at Cataloni's.
I hope for the same, that this fact-based portrait of words will wholeheartedly, create a spark that will return prestige to the true meaning of....Pound for Pound.
Those who love Boxiana shouldn't let today's media or TV channel campaign any fighter for us. Rather, let their fighting prowess against their deserving peers do the legacy building and storytelling. In the case of this welterweight, born on February 24, 1977, we've been taken on an excursion that has lasted eight years, but technically began twelve years ago.
In 1999-2000 while Joel Casamayor, Acelino Freitas, and "Lil But Bad" Stevie Johnston were all viable candidates to fight this 5'8" junior lightweight. These men were by-passed for lesser 130-pound names such as Carlos Rios, Justin Juuko, Carlos Gerena and Gregorio Vargas. To lure the late Diego Corrales in a 130-pound scrap, while Chico was struggling exhaustingly to make 130, is suspect but Chico obliged, so that’s on him – not on this elusive prodigy. But if we look closer after this fight, "Pretty Boy" was still campaigning at 130. He tested lightweight once against Emanuel Augustus, but fights two more lesser 130 pounders in Carlos Hernandez and Jesus Chavez, while Casamayor, Freitas, and Johnston would still have been hot fights, as far as youth, speed, skill, good-for-TV- networks, fans and Fistiana are concerned. The Rios fight was aired on the TNT network, as this father of four wasn't an HBO-exclusive boxer just yet.
Let’s not forget, the greatest threat to this former three-time national Golden Gloves champion in 1999 was "Sugar" Shane Mosley. Keep this name in mind for 10 years later. 2002 will mark Roger Mayweather's nephew's greatest and only year he should get credit for, challenging Jose Luis Castillo who was the best lightweight of the day. Many at ringside and media in attendance believed he lost this fight, but the man previously known as Floyd Joy Sinclair returned later in the year to win the rematch - soundly. The year 2003 brought wins against Victoriano Sosa and Phillip N'dou. The dust had settled a bit because Mosley is now three years into his welterweight campaign, Casamayor and Freitas fought one another (and now a division below) and Johnston is available early in the year but suffers a technical knockout loss at the hands of Juan Lazcano in September.
During the frames of 2004 – 2005, Kostya Tszyu is the 140 pound lineal champion and owner of this division. So, rather than repeat his "dare to be great" arrival at lightweight by challenging Castillo, this 1996 Bronze medalist opted to fight Demarcus Corley, Henry Bruseles and Arturo Gatti – not The Boss.
Introducing the "Pattern Train", which began boarding less challenging prizefighters in 1999, got derailed in 2002 and has been back on track since, hence the title of this article. In 2006 the Pattern Train becomes more visible if one is using binoculars because up until now, it’s going on 7 years without 5 peers. Zab Judah boards with luggage and a loss in his previous fight, for an exclusive pay per view appearance. Then Judah’s conqueror Carlos Baldomir, embarked the Pattern for another pay per view night of boxing. Not the fan-demanding, good-for-networks and Boxiana's then “most feared” welterweight Antonio Margarito, who many viewed as a taller, stronger Castillo prototype.
In 2007, after engaging in a pay-per-view record breaking extravaganza, Oscar De La Hoya departed the Pattern with a loss against this Las Vegas resident. It was to be ODLH’s last hurrah, in terms of Oscar being competitive. Later in the year, Ricky Hatton boarded the Pattern with tote bag and a traveling band from the United Kingdom. A good win, no complaints, because the Pattern is now changed to “Money”. No more legacy-building, not that it was of interest from its choices and actions, respectively. It's now about making cents, including 50 Cent. Sadly in 2008, the man know known as "Money" retires, with an undefeated, smaller and fierce short-armed pay-per-view star Miguel Cotto available and a taller long-armed Margarito conqueror Paul Williams, extremely available.
January 2009 opens with Mosley having a career resurrecting win over Margarito, making him the obvious lucrative opponent for Leonard Ellerbe's best friend who announced a comeback in May. Not a chance! Instead, the smaller and less threatening Juan Manuel Marquez was asked to travel north ten pounds for a pay-per-view destination. Speaking of ten pounds, now we can insert Winky Wright to this list of missed operable opponents. This undefeated shot-caller trash talked about a potential fight with Wright in 04 and could've added the same amount of weight asked of Mr. Marquez for his "comeback" bout set for September 2009. To no one’s surprise, he refused to add the weight to fight Winky, who at that time was imploring for a super fight with many big names of the day. They clashed on Boxingtalk.com's Mayweather Mondays and Winky Wednesdays. This writer won't forget the build-up from week to week as these two held court at this website weekly.
After Marquez was dispatched via unanimous decision, Shane needed to climb into the ring and come out of character to challenge the former drop-out of Ottawa Hills High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Finally cornered, he accepted and beat Shane over a 12-round unanimous decision seven months later. Next; Manny Pacquiao, with blood test demands, character assassinations implicating the Philippine icon of using steroids, various court cases [Pacquiao filed a defamation suit against the Mayweathers, while “Money” already had a case pending for assaulting his children’s mother] and match-making personalities not agreeing to terms made it difficult to finalize a deal. This lasted over the course of 2009, 2010 and 2011 hurting all involved, mainly Pugilism on the world stage. When a boxer has a trend of avoiding top notch competition, it should be taken into consideration very seriously by writers, fighters and fans. Lineal middleweight king, Sergio Martinez, has called Junior to meet at 154 a few times; no response was ever made public from the Mayweather team. Yet folks continue to "believe" in a person who has clearly demonstrated since 1999 a lack of self-assurance.
"If you claim you’re the best fighter in the world pound for pound – fight! Don’t make any excuses" James Toney, criticizing his Grand Rapids neighbor.
Fact to Consider: established in this essay are E L E V E N men that this once 84-6 amateur didn't fight.
This practitioner lacks true faith in self that champions who dare to be great possess - like Ray Leonard for Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns for Marvelous Marvin Hagler or Meldrick Taylor for Julio Cesar Chavez. This is true pound-for-pound reputation, not a fighter’s attributes or the handling of much aforementioned C-rated opposition. Pound-for-Pound begins internally with the willingness to challenge yourself through your peers and ends externally with succeeding. Not monopolizing opponents for less risk / most money over a long period. Moreover, improper labeling of this status is equivalent to the music industry calling today’s half-naked and sex-selling songstresses “diva”, when Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and Dionne Warwick sung and performed to the very essence of this term with grace and never cast their pearls amongst swine.
With usage of phrases such as: didn't fight, promoters disagreeing or the networks didn't come to terms, this is a very high number of misses for a boxer to be dubbed "pound-for-pound”. There is no evidence of a real threatening fight like the aforementioned 80's comparisons. In the court of law it's viewed as defrauding the public because pound-for-pound is contrary to this subject's 42 -0 dossier.
Sugar Ray Robinson was the first fighter to be christened Pound-for-Pound. He went 40 - 0 in his first two years as a pro, beating Sammy Angott 2x, Marty Servo 2x, Fritzie Zivic 2x and Jake LaMotta once. Angott and Zivic were former World Champions, while Servo and LaMotta would be years later. This is when the word champion meant King of the Throne. Today, we need to keep the bar high. At the beginning of his eleventh year Robbie was 129 - 1 with the sole defeat avenged four times! Pound-for-Pound calculus; Robinson demonstrates willingness within 24 months as a pro versus four threatening peers, beats all of them and grants rematches. Jeff Mayweather's nephew has 42 contests in 15 years with one willing bout against Castillo. I just vomited writing the previous sentence because it's a blasphemous half-hearted comparison.
Is it easy to dissect a person’s record? Not with this amount of missed peers. Pacquiao fought Marco Antonio Barrera twice, Erik Morales and Marquez three times. Manny is 7-1-1 with these pound-for-pound peers. Paul Williams, from 2007-2010 would literally campaign in 3 weight classes searching for the best challenges. Mosley accepted challenges from a young Oscar De La Hoya, the late Vernon Forrest and Wright. Take a peak at Oscar's opposition choices - impressive! James Toney is the last prizefighter to fight threatening peers six weeks apart in Michael Nunn and Reggie Johnson in 1991. He fought and sought the best all the way to a 2006 draw with Hasim Rahman. James is noteworthy and is consistent with true pound-for-pound accolades.
Deception smothers reality.
The public should be steered properly of who's who because they too can see this trend - now and then - but they aren't writers. Writers should be the voice of the voiceless and write as fighters fought in the 40's -- with integrity and honesty. Springs Toledo is one of those writers, for his impeccable research and new information revealed within each expose' on living and deceased fistic greats.
Congratulations to Andre Ward for an incredible run since his 2009 win over Edison Miranda and to date against Carl Froch to ascend to the top of the 168-pound honors...Nat Fleischer would've been proud.
Good news, Bert Sugar is feeling better.
Send questions and comments to: Hilario@Think1stBoxing.com