And I'm here to remind you
Of the mess you left when you went away
It's not fair to deny me
Of the cross I bear that you gave to me
You, you, you oughta know
Ah yes, the paint job.
In the hands of a relative novice, this can be a messy affair, one wrought with uneven everything and a serious desire for a “re-do”. But we’re not talking about that variety- or for that matter, that type of fighter.
In boxing terms, a “paint job” is a masterpiece. Its affectionate reference is given to the author of its delivery, for it is nothing short of a signature performance. You also expect it from him, because you’ve come to understand that this is an artist in every sense of the word, who doesn’t seem capable of failing himself or the canvas where he puts his work on display.
There are those whose names in a word, conjure greatness.
As for the fighters who’ll face them in this the 10th edition, one was undeniably great, while the other has a chance to be, ironically, against an undeniable great on September 14th in less than two weeks.
The question is- can he ruin a canvas, or preserve one for the ages?
Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez
And this is why I thought of the song :)
Catchy marquee those names are though, yeah? The other day, Floyd Mayweather Sr. suggested that “maybe only Robinson could beat my son”. There’s no maybe in it, Sugar Ray Robinson would unleash violent torrents on Floyd, and subdue him in a very competitive fight over maybe 10 rounds.
That is no disrespect and no disgrace- Robinson was otherworldly. The sports’ nonpareil, he was Michelangelo in everlast shorts. The best of the best…
For Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, this means he could only hope to survive.
How sure of himself was Robinson? He fought 19 times in 1950. Just because. Included in that list was a fighter named Sugar George Costner, who declared that it was he who deserved to be called “Sugar”.
Oh ok. And he does this after Robinson had actually killed a man in the ring.
“We better touch gloves now, because this is the only round,” Robinson said as the two fighters were given instructions in the ring. “Your name aint Sugar, mine is.” Welp, 2 minutes and 49 seconds later, the ring announcer was back.
I don’t think he would be insulted by the nickname “Canelo”, for Alvarez does have cinnamon hair, but Robinson found a way to have problems with you. He might even imagine a few. This is what great artists do.
Sugar Ray Robinson is the greatest fighter who ever lived. He is responsible for why we even have pound-for-pound rankings because he was just that dominant. There’s ample footage of his 50’s prowess on display all over the internet, but even that’s not fair, because he was in his 20’s during the 1940’s when he was at his absolute best, and there’s really no footage of him then. He was a mesmerizing blend of speed, tenacity, grace and unbridled violence. He was like an evil ballroom dancer, and all I’m asking Canelo to do is dance with him after a few lessons.
It’s not fair, but neither is life.
Robinson was also a globetrotter, and liked to defend or win titles in your backyard, so it’s only right that this happens in Azteca Stadium in México.
Over 100,000 screaming fans would see their man Canelo fight very bravely and lose very badly to the 1956 version of Robinson that closed out the rivalry with Carmen Basilio via 4th round KO.
Canelo would get a standing ovation for pushing the champ to the 9th round before smelling salt helped him remember Sugar Ray’s work of art.
Floyd Mayweather vs. Emile Griffith
In these sensitive, comprehensive times of our day, it’s almost easy to imagine the late great Emile Griffith in his prime today. He was very much a man of renaissance; and his flamboyance and penchant for bright colors, to go along with a high octave voice and alternative lifestyle, would’ve made for quite the press conference with Floyd Mayweather.
He was uh… artsy.
Controversy would definitely ensue pitting these two together, for if Floyd faced the post March 1962 version of Griffith in less than two weeks, absolute bedlam would ensue.
I could see Floyd being asked about Griffith’s tragic fight with Benny Paret, how it might impact the fight and whether he felt Griffith was justified for reacting to Paret’s “maricon” slur and touching his ass at the weigh-in. Floyd would be vintage Mayweather.
“Listen, guess what? We not here to talk about Emile Griffith’s ass or whatever,” Floyd said in between chuckles. “Emile Griffith gone do what he gone do. His girl said she didn’t know. So guess what, I don’t know either. What I do know is he’s gonna get his ass kicked. I don’t care what he is.”
Emile Griffith came into boxing as an immigrant from the Virgin Islands at age 19. He was a natural. Legendary trainer Gil Clancy got him out of a women’s hat factory and had him winning tournaments a year later. He is one of the most unlikely boxing immortals of all-time. He was a classic boxer who learned how to do a little bit of everything exceptionally well. But it was his work ethic, his stamina, and his relentless nature that grinded on guys like Nino Benvenuti, Dick Tiger, Luis Rodriguez and the great Carlos Monzon. An extension of his work showed up in world champions Wilfred Benitez and Juan Laporte.
Griffith was a racehorse built for distance- but so is Floyd. I think this fight would resemble in texture and tone, what Pernell Whitaker’s complete paint job on Ghanaian great Azumah Nelson did. Griffith would find Mayweather absolutely annoying to fight, because he’s just not available.
Trying to hit him is like trying to call someone and getting a busy signal.
If Robinson is Michelangelo, then he gave birth to any number of sculptors of fine art over many years. Mayweather is like a Picasso, who was a revolutionary artist who experimented with different techniques over time with great success. He painted in a very realistic manner, and he would improvise theory and ideas.
Griffith would be dealing with all of this in Mayweather. He would lose his heart, his will, and his mind itself, as Floyd paints him into the united colors of a new age Benetton store all over the canvas, KO’ing Griffith in the 12th round.