Call me crazy, but when folks collectively celebrate the fact that a fighter has gone away to training camp and separated himself from “distractions” it makes me laugh.
Last week it was Chris Arreola that everyone was talking about because he “went away” to San Diego and his trainer Henry Delgado took away the car keys so Arreola couldn’t bolt from his training responsibilities to drink beer and eat burritos. This week it’s Mike Alvarado who had to leave Colorado and Denver in order to get into shape in California.
I mean, really? These guys are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, are supposed “prizefighters” and yet they have to be essentially watched over and locked away in order to get into shape and concentrate.
Makes you wonder doesn’t it?
Leon Spinks was perhaps the poster boy for bad behavior and he was known for deserting training camps and fleeing to a faraway city in order to avoid the rigors of roadwork and sparring. Whatever the case, the follies of Spinks, Arreola and Alvarado all demonstrate why they have flirted with success in the fight racket but never really made it all the way. Leon’s time at the top lasted 7 months, Arreola has been hot and cold over the years whilst Alvarado is in much the same boat. Guys like these will never win out in the end.
It’s clear to see why Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez have all been so successful for such a long period of time. They take their job and their responsibility to be prizefighters seriously. They live clean, train hard and have dedicated themselves to their craft. It’s why trainers Freddie Roach and Robert Garcia will tell you that fights are won and lost in the gym.
But to congratulate and celebrate these guys that temporarily cast away the beer, the nightclubs and whatever other vices that prevent them from being successful is a joke.
On another note, let’s mention CompuBox or PunchStats or ShoStats or whatever they are called. Me? I’m a fan of them. In my book and from where I sit and whether I be watching a street fight, a cage fight or a boxing match – it’s usually the guy who lands more punches that should win a fight. If I hit you with three jabs and you hit me with a big left hook - I say I’m ahead. Joe Louis, Sonny Liston and George Foreman had left jabs that landed like bombs. So if they were fighting today would we tell them their jab was less important than a left hook or a right hand?
The entire jabs versus power punches stat is a misnomer. If I hit you with a bunch of jabs and you hit me with a couple left hooks – does that make you ahead in the scoring? I think not. Watch Clint Eastwood in ‘Every Which Way But Loose’ and ‘Any Which Way You Can’ and tell me Clint’s imaginary jabs were unimportant punches. It comes to this: If I hit you more than you hit me – I win.
Having said that, longtime HBO blow-by-blow man Jim Lampley focuses so much on the punch numbers that I believe he is now incapable of calling a fight without them. Lampley rambles on incessantly about the punch numbers to such an extent that it detracts from the broadcast. I know I am not alone when I say that I mute the television when either he or ESPN’s Teddy Atlas is on the air.
Showtime now has the best fight calling crew in the sport. Steve Farhood sticks with the basics and excels. Al Bernstein is similarly excellent. I like Mauro Ranallo although he is still learning. I’ve always been of the opinion that a two man crew is best. One guy for blow-by-blow and one man for color. The best ever tandem was Tim Ryan and Gil Clancy on CBS with Bernstein and Dave Bontempo on ESPN a close second. More than two guys calling a fight is too many. Makes me wish for the days of Don Dunphy and Howard Cosell who were excellent solo acts.
While I’m on the announcing subject – best ever ring announcer was Chuck Hull who worked the big Las Vegas fights back in the day. My second favorite was Ed Derian…Derian, who I loved to hear work the Philly and Atlantic City cards. Both guys were pretty much no nonsense and it didn’t take them twenty minutes of blather and irritating catchphrases to introduce two guys.