Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Road to Science

Next week will be devoted fully to Hatton/Pacquiao, but before we walk into that monster of a fight a few scattered thoughts:

1. Gamboa vs. Rojas was exciting and disappointing in exactly the way one might have expected. Rojas, terrified of Gamboa’s speed and power went into a shell, and with his awkward, jerky movements managed to get through most of the fight. He did this at the cost of reducing his offensive output to nothing and never really taking a chance on winning the fight, even when Gamboa’s insolence left him open to a last desperate heave. Rojas wouldn’t go for it, he wanted to last, but it would have been interesting to see what would have happened.

Gamboa, for his part, was content to methodically and indolently tear Rojas down. He seemed bored in the middle rounds and there was never any sense of jeopardy or inspiration. It was unclear if he wanted to go the rounds and ham it up, or just enjoys the feeling of mastery over an overmatched opponent. When he finally got the stoppage in the tenth round there wasn’t a feeling of real triumph or accomplishment, but more a thing long expected. There was something more there that we didn’t see, Rojas didn’t demand it and Gamboa was unwilling to give it for free. It was that feeling that makes some people so reactionary towards Floyd Mayweather Junior, a feeling that he was hiding something special from us.

Maybe this is part of his maturation as a thinking counterpuncher, a style he would be brilliant with, maybe he just doesn’t have another level, or maybe he will manifest his talents when the situation calls for it. Like a tennis player who sharpens himself in the early rounds, perhaps Gamboa will bring everything he has when the big time arrives. There has been speculation about him fighting Celestino Caballero, the Junior Feather champion. The freakishly tall Panamanian Caballero seems just good enough, and just vulnerable enough that we might finally see Gamboa as a man in full.

2. News has leaked about a potential Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Floyd Mayweather matchup and I'm still working through my thoughts on the possibility. On the one hand seeing two of the top three fighters in the world in the ring together can be nothing but special, and I think I, and moreso the people who have unthinkingly dismissed the fight, are guilty of grave disrespect to Marquez, a ring genius and modern great when we express skepticism. Marquez is a great champion, why couldn’t he beat Mayweather? They would come into the ring no more than a half dozen pounds apart, and if Mayweather is willing to come down to 142 or so why couldn’t it be something special?

I think the answer is obvious; people don’t necessarily want to see Floyd in a great fight, they just want to see him lose. So we want to watch him go into the ring outgunned against our chosen protagonist; for me it’s Mosely or Cotto, for many it used to be Margarito, and now for those of ill-temper and fundamental meanness it has become Paul Williams. For those like me that love him we want to see that level of discomfort and greatness that he has seldom been tested with, that desperate edge that all great fighters have stood at the edge of and come storming back from, or fallen into heroically after long, noble, and grim defiance. And that can only come from a larger man, or one possessing a super power like Manny Pacquiao’s speed. An honest fighter of bravery, technique and passion is simply not seen as that. It could be a great fight, we say, but it’s not our fight. I don’t think it’s fair, but that’s how it is.

I hope Floyd takes a smaller match, say Tim Bradley or Nate Campbell (if only they weren’t both black and therefore unmarketable against Floyd I think it would happen) before he goes for the glory against Pac or Mosley. I can be convinced otherwise, and there is no force that could keep me from watching a Marquez-Floyd fight, but Marquez somehow has his own destiny and I feel it’s more with Manny than Floyd.

3. A couple great KO’s from the little men last weekend. Brian Viloria, a guy with all the tools who just never seemed to put it all together until now.

And Nonito Donaire, the beautiful boxer/puncher who laid Darchinian low with a check hook as sweet as Mayweather’s and who, I think, might very well turn out to be the truth.

4. Going to do a preview of Taylor/Froch and Penalosa/Lopez tomorrow.

1 comment:

jonnykilbane said...

please. don't. stop. these. posts.