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The State [August 2019]: Trump Card

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Manny Pacquiao is something else. 

Happiness, true happiness, is an inner quality. It is a state of mind. If your mind is at peace, you are happy. If your mind is at peace, but you have nothing else, you can be happy. If you have everything that the world can give — pleasures, possessions, power — but lack peace of mind, you can never be happy. 

A little over two weeks ago now, I sat inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas assigned to news media seat in the rafters next to Jeff Mayweather,  nearly penniless, having made the sojourn to Sin City from Clearwater, Fl on the heels of domestic tragedy within my family. 

From a place of weary contentment, I soldiered on, with the aid of a friend who insisted I “handle my business.” And so I did. Through binoculars, I honed in on the face of a 40 year-old Pacquiao, making his way to an awaiting Keith Thurman a decade younger and all I could do was smile. I became a mirror reflecting the image I was seeing. 

Clad in the colors of an America under the watch of Donald Trump, “One-Time” was about to face a very different kind of Democracy in the iconic Pacquiao, who hails from the 7,641 island archipelagic Philippines owned by the U.S. in a way unknown to many. Seeing his joyous ringwalk up close with assistance, was like a nostalgic journey back to November 2009, when his 144lb nation of an unusual southpaw skeletal frame collided with Puerto Rico and Miguel Cotto for pound-for-pound supremacy under the-then new reign of Barack Obama. 

That night, Pacquiao became an unquestioned all-time great in his prime, poised to make a lot of “Money” empty the coffers of “Pretty Boy Floyd” in order to beat him. I was around Cotto’s camp in Tampa in 2009 for a vintage “Pac-Man”, which, ironically was the same location for Keith Thurman’s 2019 training camp for Senator Manny Pacquao, a camp I witnessed live at various stages. After witnessing Pacquiao’s more impressive dismantling of Thurman contextually, it bears noting that neither edition resembles what Floyd Mayweather faced on May 2, 2015. At all. What seems very clear, is that Pacquiao (whom Max Kellerman laid out a very plausible case for perhaps “The Best Ever” in a recent airing of Max on Boxing)…

..wants to distance himself from Mayweather in legacy and overall greatness without a rematch, having now defeated a fighter Floyd did not want to face in his final salvo, while apparently arranging a fight in the aforementioned Philippines with an out of retirement Marcos Maidana, one of the rare men to have actually been granted a rematch with Floyd. Pacquiao would most likely stop a comebacking Maidana in spectacular fashion, having victimized virtually every opponent Mayweather either faced or presumably did not want to face over the course of his legendary career.

If Pacquiao pulls this off in late 2019, a year removed from initial #MayPac 2 rumors and seven years beyond a shocking defeat to arch-nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez, absolution would be his. What a perfect way to ringwalk away with a smile and peace of mind. What a perfect way for perhaps the best to ever do it, to leave boxing with happiness.

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“I’m knocking his ass out,” said a well dressed, puffy-eyed and party pooped IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr with regards to WBC welterweight champion “Showtime” Shawn Porter, during a press conference at MGM Grand in Las Vegas hours before Pacquiao Vs Thurman. 

Spence, who’ll face Porter on September 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, uses anything for motivation like all great athletes will, and listened to Porter confidently declare victory with an edge in his voice, one that suggested he means business. Porter, who already appeared to be in world class condition, didn’t look too good in slipping past Yordenis Ugas while not garnering any attention from both mainstream or independent media for that fight back in March. 

However, the fight game’s Cleveland Brown is starting to fullback his way into a spotlight oriented nickname, and has benefitted from the popularity of city denizens Odell Beckham Jr and the wild Baker Mayfield. Porter isn’t afraid of “The Truth.”  Add comments from former foe Danny “Swift” Garcia and the legendary Roy Jones Jr, who both declared Spence wasn’t all that against the great Mikey Garcia, and Spence Vs Porter is starting to look a whole lot like a modern 147lb edition of Sonny Liston opposite a contemporary Leon Spinks. That fight will absolutely not go the distance, and kudos to Premier Boxing Champions and Al Haymon for testing the merits of both fighters in what’s shaping up to be a showcase year for shareholders.

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“At the end of the day who is Vasiliy Lomachenko to me?” asked Teofimo Lopez earlier this year, before Edis Tatli and Masayoshi Nakatani revealed that “The Matrix” would be his father in the ring. Following an eye-popping knockout over Diego Magdeleno in January, Lopez, the best fighter to ever emerge from Honduras, took flight with love that culminated in marriage to Cynthia on April 23. 

During the press conference for Terence Crawford Vs Amir Khan a few days prior, I asked a never-before-seen sharply dressed Teo about a subdued stoppage of Tatli, one he chalked up to a less than ideal training camp. I didn’t know he was getting married three days later, but that explained the makeover, both psychologically and emotionally. He seemed more of a renaissance man; more nuanced and balanced. All of which, reflecting on it now, seemed to clash with who he wanted to revisit in Media Day talks just a few days prior. Andre Rozier, world class trainer of IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey on deck for Lopez, emphatically stated that Lopez “is not ready” for his fighter and I’d have to agree on the surface. Having spent so much time as a two-man gang against the world with his actual father, Teofimo Sr, what we’ve seen from Lopez in his last two outings isn’t really surprising. Sniffing blood in the water, Loma, like a shark, likened Teo and his father to “clowns,”  as pundits such as all-time great Andre Ward cautioned against “rushing” to glory. If there’s a such thing as growing pains to love, those in the Teo hate club would be wise to consider that’s probably all this is. After a little digging, this Cynthia may just turn out to be the Adrien to his Rocky.

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Anyone who ever thought of Carlos Baldomir as an asshole is nodding their head hard.  In jail since 2016 while awaiting trial for the serial sexual assault of his daughter, the former RING, WBC and lineal welterweight champion was sentenced to 18 years in prison, as a result of successful allegations presented by Baldomir’s ex-wife and the mother of the victim, who stated that the abuse occurred several times in the family’s home and during vacations. 

Baldomir got hot in 2006 when he shocked Zab Judah to capture the titles. He defended once against the late Arturo Gatti before facing an emperor in Floyd Mayweather (eh, Larry Merchant ddn’t like Floyd’s outfit that day on HBO folks). Baldomir, who turned 48 this year, didn’t help himself by displaying an angry countenance throughout the proceedings — he hurled frequent fiery outbursts, raised his middle-finger and glared at the judge and prosecutors, now joins a sordid collection of fighters like Stanley Ketchel and Tony Ayala Jr in boxing lore. Not for nothing, but he’ll be as old as Jeffrey Epstein when he gets out. I’m thinking maybe he and Epstein, whose money is just a little longer than his, will be pen pals.  

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Gervonta “Tank” Davis has had an interesting 2019. He’s introduced a baby daughter and shed the baby fat of an undisciplined 2018 campaign that did little for his stock. The slick, Floyd-esque boxer that impressed myself and the venerable Thomas Hauser while gunning down Jose “Sniper” Pedraza at Barclays Center in January 2017, has traded in that fighter for one more reminiscent of “Iron” Mike Tyson as of late.

In the push to transform Tank into a PPV attraction — which he’s very much aware of, there was absolutely no subtlety in wipeouts over Hugo Ruiz and Ricardo Nunez. With that, also comes more mics in your face, as evidenced by his appearance at the Adam Kownacki vs Chris Arreola war this past weekend at Barclays. Davis is not especially villainous and cannot be confused with a hero, so this process is still very much a work in progress, coupled with the fact that he tends to think about what he needs to be in front of the media instead of being himself. Whoever that is wouldn’t seem to have the “It factor” that Floyd so naturally possessed. We’ll have to see about that. But as of now, Davis has told TMZ…

..that he’s ready to bulldoze Vasiliy Lomachenko, who’ll face a taller, more generic iteration of himself in Luke Campbell on August 31 for Top Rank in the UK. 

“I think its time,” said Tank, who on Monday reported that he’s ‘ready to leave the country’. We don’t know exactly what that means and Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonrad Ellerbe wasn’t available for clarity, but hell, maybe it means he’s ready to fight Loma in Ukraine.

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The entire melodrama involving arguably the world’s best fighter and unquestioned #1 draw in the sport, Canelo Alvarez, and the top brass at Golden Boy, namely all-time great and CEO Oscar De La Hoya, has reached a geo-political crescendo. From this point of view, all of this has seemed to coincide with the arrival of John Skipper at the helm of DAZN. There was a palpable lack of energy in T-Mobile Arena on Cinco de Mayo for Canelo’s terse encounter with Daniel Jacobs, for which the then IBF middleweight champion made an agreed upon $14 million, for what amounted to an anticlimactic promotion ahead of a pitched sparring session for the guaranteed comfort of all involved except the fans. 

This is an example of what executive arrogance in complacency can reveal: fighters are neither dumb brutes nor are they middlemen. The same provisions that hovered around the WBC, which allowed Canelo the levity of being a super middleweight middleweight champion, was all about executive privilege for which Canelo took a bath and was the only one needing a towel to wipe away public bile and contempt. It is completely inexplicable that Canelo was unaware of the deal that stripped him of his IBF championship. Warriors would much rather prefer to lose in the ring of fire, not in an executive boardroom where men who make millions to handle his affairs mishandle them without penalty. Now, anyone should know why Errol Spence Jr told those making overtures to him for exploitative representation to go fly a kite. Close to Canelo by association in training and promotional affilation, even Ryan Garcia was forced to jump in on the “WTF? Sweepstakes” as a result of seeming scheduling and managerial incompetence at the executive level. What we’re seeing is the manifestation of greed and forced puzzle piecing in play on an international scale. Fans no more clamored for Canelo to fight an unknown Rocky Fielding from the United Kingdom — for what turned out to be his disposable WBA light heavyweight championship, than they are for a third fight with Gennady Golovkin, a fighter Canelo feels has a Trump Card in his pocket for global positioning at his expense and that of Mexico. 

Don’t think for one minute that the Clenbuterol saga which preceded the rematch will ever be lost on him; nor is the notion — at least in his mind —  of what Golovkin can win in earnings both in and out of the ring, as a result of his star power. With Anthony Joshua having been turned into the biggest sacrificial lamb in UK history as a result of his still unpopular countryman Andy Ruiz, despite that huge upset, Canelo is DAZN, just as he’s always been Golden Boy. It’s just a damn shame he’s being handled like copper.            

           

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About John Gatling

John Gatling

Senior correspondent for NY Fights and author of upcoming book, "The Fist Club." Conscious indie recording artist "T@z" and humanist advocate for the Green Party.

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