by Michael Marley
When Amir Khan spars with Manny Pacquiao, it is a truly mutually beneficial experience.
Or, at least it's supposed to be when two such high caliber world champions cross gloves in the gymnasium, be it Baguio or Freddie Roach's sweatbox, the Wild Card Gym.
That's why Floyd Mayweather Jr. hires solid, 10 round main event type sparmates to hone his boxing edges.
Or you could harken back to the days when a young, unproven but ambitious kid named Larry Holmes, who one famous trainer advised to stay in Easton, Pa., and become a truck driver, was sparring with Muhammad Ali prior to the Thrilla In Manila.
Unlike Khan vis-a-vis Pacman, Holmes was on Ali's sparring partner roster and payroll but the idea is essentially the same.
Which is why I find it amusing that some internet creepers are trying to make case that Jose Benavidez, the precocious teenaged prospect, "beat" rising Pinoy lightweight Mercito "No Mercy" Gesta when they sparred at Roach's fistic emporium on Monday.
Gesta and Benavidez, both promoted by Top Rank, will return in separate fights on Sept. 17 at the Blue Water Resort & Casino in Parker, Arizona, the bouts slated for viewing on FOX. Benavidez's pro record stands at 12-0, 11 KOs, while Gesta is at 22-0-1, with a dozen knockouts.
This wasn't two real veterans sparring, it was cream which hopes to rise to the top, the 19 year old Benavidez and the 23 year old boxer-puncher from the Philippines.
Discussing who "won" the sparring is really comedic. Do people forget the reason sparring gloves and headgear are worn in such workouts?
And the San Diego based Gesta's co-manager and trainer, Vince Parra, agreed.
"You have to laugh," Parra said. "We rode in the car up from San Diego, got out of the car and went into the ring. But Mercito was sharp and so was Jesse. They're both with Top Rank and they're both on the same Sept. 17 show in Arizona."
Under the watchful eye of Top Rank chief matchmaker Bruce "Southland" Trampler, Gesta and the taller Benavidez mixed up in a rousing manner.
"But nobody was trying to score a knockdown or anything like that," Parra said. "It was good work for both of them."
Parra's refreshing philosophy is not to overly protect the still learning Gesta and that's why extremely talented Jorge Linares (a Golden Boy fighter no less) is on their future sparring list.
"Mercito's a quick learner, he adapts to what the other guy is doing really fast," Parra said. "My thinking is something like Freddie Roach's in that if you spar with better talent, then you should peform better in your next fight.
"The gym is not a place for all out war, it's more of a laboratory where you try different things. I think you can see that in the great variety of looks Freddie brings in to spar with Manny.
"I don't see how we can go wrong with the same m.o. as Pacman, can you? I've got the greatest respect for what Freddie does and he's told me he really believes in Mercito's skills and future."
Sparring is part of training so "good work" is the goal, not domination. You want domination, keep to the heavy bag.