Thursday, December 3, 2009

Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather: March or May fight would eliminate tune-up jinx

It is being reported that promoter Bob Arum has been given the go ahead for a fight between his star, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. Reports are that Mayweather agreed to the fight so Arum will now meet with Pacquiao in the Philippines to get permission to move the fight forward.

The date and site are still to be worked out. New Orleans has joined Dallas and Las Vegas as the front runners for hosting the fight.

The dates being talked about are March 13 or May 1. Pacquiao is said to prefer a March date over a May date. His reasoning is that he wants to campaign in the Philippines for their national elections in May. This is because Manny is running for office during this election year. Freddie Roach believes a March date is still too soon after the Miguel Cotto war.

Reports had surfaced over the last week that the fight could take place next September. Further speculation was that Mayweather may have a tune-up fight in England, possibly against Matthew Hatton.

It was when those rumors were swirling about that Pacquiao seemed destined to fight Yuri Foreman for Foreman's junior middleweight belt.

Mayweather's fight would not of been much more than a true tune-up. While Hatton is tough, the difference in skills is enormous.

Pacquiao would have had a bit of a harder time with Foreman. But most, including Freddie Roach, know that the fight would have been the easiest Manny could have taken against any of the 154 pound belt holders.

And therein lies the danger. The tune-up fight. A fight that takes place when a major fight is still a long way off. It is done to keep the fighter sharp and to keep him in the gym while training. This allows the fighter to stay focused and in shape while awaiting the big showdown.

But for every thousand tune-ups that go as planned, there is always that one that ends up scaring the promoter and trainer to death.

Here are a few examples of tune-ups gone wrong or almost wrong:

Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Sturm. De La Hoya was taking on relative unknown Felix Sturm. The fight was to accomplish two goals. One was to win a middleweight belt in Oscar's first fight at 160 pounds. The second was to showcase De La Hoya and the true middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins.

Hopkins' and Oscar's fights were co headliners as a prelude to their fight in September. Bernard easily won his fight, but someone forgot to tell De La Hoya he had to do more than show up. De La Hoya looked pudgy and slow. Sturm surprised everyone by peppering Oscar's face with a stiff jab and constantly beating him to the punch.

At the end of the night, the judges gave De La Hoya a gift decision. All three judges had him winning 115-113. It was considered one of the worst decisions of 2004. Hopkins said he could see his million dollar payday against Oscar slipping away as he watched the fight from his dressing room. Now Bernard will go through the same thing thanks to Roy Jones being knocked out in one round during his, you guessed it, tune- up fight.

Zab Judah vs. Carlos Baldomir. Zab Judah was on his way to a superfight against Floyd Mayweather in April of 2006. To stay sharp, he took on tough, but unknown, Calos Baldomir in January. Judah, who is known to be a headcase, once again proved how good he was at losing focus during a big fight. At the end of the prefight instructions Judah hit Baldomir with a shot to Carlos' leg. That appeared to set the stage for Baldomir to outwork Judah and win the biggest fight of his life.

Then Mayweather promoter Bob Arum was quick to point out that the fight would still go on. But Arum and Judah promoter, Don King, were stuck trying to convince the public how great the fight would be. But the public knew that it had lost much of it's luster.

Manny Pacquiao vs Jorge Solis. April 2007. Pacquiao's stock was sky high. He was coming off of his trilogy with Erik Morales, having kayoed Morales in the third round five months earlier. Pacquiao wanted Juan Manuel Marquez, but would eventually fight Marco Antonio Barrera.

Even though Solis was highly ranked, experts picked Manny to end the fight quickly. It may have been a letdown after his Morales wars, but whatever the case, Manny did not come out like Manny. Pacquiao looked as if he were in a sparring session. While he was winning the early rounds, he looked completely flat. One could see Freddie Roach's concern in the corner. Solis' height, reach and head movement seemed to keep Manny off balance.

It was only after a head butt in the sixth round opened up a cut on Pacquiao that Manny fought like Manny. He finally stopped Solis in the eight. Solis' lack of offense seemed to be the only thing that kept Jorge from winning the early rounds and possibly, the fight.

Mike Tyson vs Buster Douglas. Everyone already knows this story. Perhaps the biggest upset in sports history. Tyson was a 42 to 1 favorite. Douglas had beaten some good, not great boxers. Tyson was on a six fight knockout streak. His victims had names like Michael Spinks, Larry Holmes, Frank Bruno and Carl Williams.

It was a classic case of one fighter taking the other too lightly. Douglas went toe to toe with Tyson and even after being down himself, rose up to stop Tyson. What some people were not aware of was that this was suppose to be a tune-up fight for Tyson. He was set to fight former cruiserweight champion, Evander Holyfield in a superfight later that summer. Instead, Holyfield kayoed Douglas to become the new heavyweight champ.

That is the problem with some tune-up fights. Some fighters say they get motivated for everybody they fight, but you can see that that isn't true during the bout. You also take a chance on being cut or outright losing. That is when the tune up becomes a disaster. And no matter what kind of spin the promoter puts on it, you know that the superfight has lost some of it's magic.

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