By Lyle Fitzsimmons
A few Tuesday morning musings after a big-fight weekend.
I realize a lot of folks aren’t big fans of Floyd Mayweather Jr. And there’s no doubt that “Money” has given said folks plenty of reasons over the years to feel the way they do.
But there’s a difference between having a rooting interest… and simply being an idiot.
Mixed in with the typical post-fight hilarity in the Twitter-verse on Saturday night were occasional snipes – whether intended to blast the scoring, or the lack of sustained action – lamenting that Lara fought Canelo the same way that Mayweather had when he won the PPV record-breaker last September.
And each time I saw them, my cyber-trained mind screamed one thing:
At most, it takes about five seconds of observation to see that while both opponents clearly frustrated the Mexican to no end, the ways in which Mayweather and Lara did so were drastically different.
Mayweather, in nearly every round, stood straight in front of Alvarez and fully within punching range, but continually bedeviled him by rolling his shoulder and blocking most of the shots that came his way.
Lara, meanwhile, spent much of his 36 minutes with Canelo on the move, stopping long enough to fire off quick jabs and snapping straight lefts before getting back on the bike to offset any incoming replies.
Say what you about the scores – I had it 115-113 for Lara, conceding it was the closest big fight in recent memory – but to lump his approach and Mayweather’s is as silly a gathering of sour grapes and tactical ignorance as there’s ever been, with the possible exception of when Keith Olbermann dined alone.
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Miami isn’t Las Vegas, so when it comes to fight-night infrastructure it’s not fair to expect operations people at American Airlines Arena to toe the same line as the ones at the MGM Grand.
That said, a few adjustments would be appreciated.
Not only was the media section separated from the ring by the typical collection of commission personnel, but the South Florida sight-line barriers included a gaggle of hangers-on at a dozen or so “VIP” tables whose caste system (with entry levels at $5,000, $7,500 and $10,000) was determined solely by how many signed gloves and dedicated table-side hostesses they were willing to pony up for.
Now I understand the lust for revenue as much as the next financially-strapped guy – and I concede that the table full of cash-bearing Rolex-wearers is more important to the Iron Mike Promotions bottom line than the guy driving a 100,000-mile Kia – but if another one of your aims is to get favorable publicity for your fighters while trying to keep a company afloat, it might pay to look beyond the checkbook.
And if you’re going to go all-in for the money, at least use a little of it on some gate-keepers, too.
The first-come, first-served media section – (really, is it that hard to put together a seating chart?) – was consistently littered with meddlers who had no place being there, particularly in the forms of a wine-guzzling 300-pound behemoth and stubble-faced Miami Vice understudy who took up two seats on their own and spread T.J. Maxx-level sport coats over empty chairs to the left and right.
And while they were ultimately relocated by security ace Lawrence, the vacancies were filled for the rest of the night by rogues that included seam-challenging women competing too hard for Tyson’s tattooed eye, an early-courtship couple whose male was banking on the his mate’s ignorance to fight history, and a 9-year-old whom grass-fed colleague Michael Korb wittily labeled “the boxing editor for Highlights.”
If you were there to watch people, it beat Nevada by a mile.
Problem is, Mike, some of us really were trying to work.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s title-fight schedule:
Vacant IBF junior bantamweight title – Kobe, Japan
Zolani Tete (No. 1 contender/No. 5 IWBR) vs. Teiru Kinoshita (No. 6 contender/No. 17 IWBR)
Tete (18-3, 16 KO): Second title fight (0-1); Fourth fight outside South Africa (1-2, 1 KO)
Kinoshita (19-0-1, 3 KO): First title fight; Last nine fights have gone the distance (8-0-1)
Fitzbitz says: Highly-ranked power faces lesser-regarded technique on the latter commodity’s home turf. Tete’s not been a good traveler historically, but he should get to .500 here. Tete in 9
Vacant IBO featherweight title – East London, South Africa
Lusanda Komanisi (No. 28 contender/unranked IWBR) vs. Macbute Sinyabi (No. 29 contender/unranked IWBR)
Komanisi (16-3, 15 KO): First title fight; Unbeaten since 2009 (12-0, 11 KO)
Sinyabi (23-3, 19 KO): First title fight; Four of last five wins by decision after 18 straight by stoppage
Fitzbitz says: Neither has been a world-beater thus far. But Sinyabi has two wins in three fights with the previous IBO champion in the division, so that’ll have to do as a tiebreaker. Sinyabi by decision
IBO super flyweight title – East London, South Africa
Edrin Dapudong (champion/No. 16 IWBR) vs. Lwandile Sityatha (No. 18 contender/No. 47 IWBR)
Dapudong (29-5, 17 KO): First title defense; Seventh fight outside of Philippines (2-4, 2 KO)
Sityatha (16-3-1, 7 KO): First title fight; Fifth 12-round bout (3-1, 0 KO)
Fitzbitz says: If you haven’t seen Dapudong’s title-winning KO of Gideon Buthelezi from last year, do yourself a favor. He may not equal the suddenness here, but he should win anyway. Dapudong in 10
WBA/WBO super bantamweight/junior featherweight title – Macao, China
Guillermo Rigondeaux (champion/No. 1 IWBR) vs. Sod Kokietgym (No. 5 WBO contender/No. 39 IWBR)
Rigondeaux (13-0, 8 KO): Fifth WBA title defense (second WBO); Eighth 12-round bout (7-0, 3 KO)
Kokietgym (63-2-1, 28 KO): Third title fight (0-2); Third fight outside Thailand (0-2)
Fitzbitz says: It’s been a rough stretch for Cuban-born fighters now living in the U.S., but the chances Rigondeaux loses – closely or otherwise – seem far more remote in an HBO showcase. Rigondeaux in 10
Last week's picks: 2-0 (WIN: Barthelemy, Kameda; LOSE: None)
2014 picks record: 49-12 (80.3 percent)
Overall picks record: 596-206 (74.3 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz. Tags: Saul Alvarez , Erislandy Lara , boxing , Canelo-Lara , Canelo vs. Lara