Christian Shreve talks about Showtime and HBO and their impact on the boxing community.
I was talking to an expert, a guy who makes his living off of sports investment. Brandon Rios was one day away from taking on Manny Pacquiao.
Many folks had figured that it was up in the air as to whether or not Manny had recovered from his severe KO at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez. Until we had some sort of proof of recovery we ran the risk of seeing Pacquaio turn to jelly the way Roy Jones did after his first KO loss to Antonio Tarver. Roy had suffered a concussion very similar in severity to that endured by Manny, and from that moment forward was incapable of absorbing any punishment without going (and staying) down.
As well, Rios has to target an opponent to land on him, and the Filipino usually keeps those guys scanning impotently from the first round to the last.
The caveat with that is that not only did Manny suffer the severe loss to Marquez, but he and trainer Freddie Roach had intentionally chosen the worst strategy in the history of boxing in which to try and defeat a stationary counter-puncher like Juan.
In short, there was no smart bet here. Tactically Manny had the advantage but no bet made sense on either guy. This pro went for a distraction bet against my advice. His logic was that since both guys were big knockout punchers the bout was likely was to end early.
You see this folks. Get used to it, but try not to understand it too hard…it will give you a headache.
Never go for the over/under bet in any bout. It is the best way an investor can pick the right guy and still lose their money.
Honestly folks, you don’t know what 2 fighters will do. An injury can occur, game plans change mid-fight and sometimes guys like Manny back off on guys he is on the verge of maiming.
The over/under on that fight was 9 1/2 rounds, and this pro bet that it would go less than that. Pacquiao hadn’t won on knockout in 4 years, and Rios takes a long time to track a mover.
With hindsight it is clear that Manny Pacquiao still has the skills that have had Floyd Mayweather openly avoiding him for half a decade. Isn’t experience wonderful?
The lesson here is that the bout had far too many unknowns to make any investment sense. Remember the mantra: “In the absence of a clear bet, the smart bet is no bet.”
Last week Mr. Happy British Gentleman asked me a serious question:
“Does Groves have the bollocks?”
I knew what he meant. Two top 5 Supermiddleweights from the UK were throwing down on Saturday night. Undefeated George Groves had been on a streak up the top-10 ratings, and carried a 19-0 roster into the tussle, 15 of those bouts by the short route.
Across the squared circle was the very experienced Carl Froch, who has faced the toughest roster of any professional boxer over the last few years.
Groves had attacked Froch psychologically before the bout. Froch, though harder than a coffin nail, had a knack for standing just downwind of juvenile when debating with opponents. George was sharp in the debates, mentioning that Carl had technical flaws in his game ready to be exploited. In addition, the Nottingham native seemed ruffled at the younger man’s clams that although experienced, the 36 year old hadn’t proven that he could carry a pay-per-view card by himself.
The sports investor wanted my take on the event, as Groves was a 3 to 1 underdog, making him the money maker—if he was good enough.
“Yes,” I replied. “Kessler and Ward have given the blueprint to beat Froch. Groves is slick and smart and has Carl ruffled.”
“That’s all I wanted to know,” he said. “I’m going to place a bet on the lad. I like his chances.”
I stopped him there: “not so fast, brother. Knowing how to beat Froch is not the same as doing it in the ring.”
He had been following the dialogue, though, and reminded me. “You said Groves had the style to beat Froch.”
“That is true,” I responded, “but we have never seen George in the deep water. Wait until he gets challenged. Then you’ll know what you have.”
The last thing he said to me was “ah, Shreve, you’ve a great talent, but you’re a bit too conservative for my taste.”
If he hadn’t hung up, I would have reminded him that the reason we don’t know if Froch can solo a card-for-pay is that he only fights elite fighters that carry equal billing.
Last weekend Groves won almost every round until the 8th, including a memorable first session in which he dropped the iron-chinned Froch. As the bout piqued so did Groves, who began swapping happy bombs with a man he had been easily boxing the entire night. It was the time the older man had been waiting for and he pounded Groves, who had no frame of reference on how to convince the referee he was still in control of his senses enough to continue the encounter, which was quickly stopped.
The lesson here should be obvious, and it is repeated every month in this game. I never assume someone can do something they haven’t demonstrated. Youth is great in boxing, but inexperience is often very costly.
Say the name. Learn to pronounce it. Know that it matters and that you are learning the syllables of a man that will probably be dead within the next few days. It is Magomed Abdusalamov. Know that when you speak the name you are referring to a man that embodies what the old dog fighters used to refer to as “dead game,” which means unconquerable even unto its destruction.
I watched Ray Mancini kill Duk Koo Kim. I saw two men locked in combat the way they would if both men were drowning and only one stood the chance of a handhold that would give the next lung full of air. One reveled in glory while the other died, followed by members of Kim’s family in suicide.
I read about the same dynamics in the bout between Rocky Marciano vs Carmine Vingo in 1949. Each man may have been worthy of being heavyweight champion. One became an immortal while the other fell stricken and ashen, and would live a life of handicap and struggle from that point forward.
Last week, Cuban amateur ace Mike Perez became one of two undefeated fighters to move forward after the best heavyweight bout of the post-millennium. He moves his position into that of being one of the top 10 big men in the world. The loser, Abdusalamov, would have moved there as well, only after a medically induced coma and stroke has ended his career before it really started. He may die in the next day. If he lives, he may wish he would have died.
And the band plays on.
We are the money makers in gladitorial war. We owe them everything. Fighters don’t play. They live and die by their fists—fast or slow.
Here’s to Abdusaloamov and his family. Speedy recovery to a shooting star. I will never forget you.
Timothy Bradley is mad going into a bout where his chances of victory depend on a clear head and disciplined gameplan. After losing convincingly to Manny Pacquiao, he was awarded a decision nod that infuriated the boxing public. Through no fault of his own, Bradley’s name was tarnished as if he himself had some role in fixing the decision.
Following the loss to Manny, Bradley decided not to listen to his corner or follow any game plan in his next bout against Ruslan Provodnikov, and absorbed the kind of severe beating that ends careers. By his own admission, Timothy slurred words for several months after the narrow points win.
Possessing every championship element but a big punch, Bradley earned a position as the top 140-pounder in the world before challenging pound-for-pound champion Pacquiao in June of 2012 for welterweight honors.
Now facing battlefield technician Juan Manuel Marquez on October 12 in Las Vegas this weekend, it is not Bradley’s metal, talent or conditioning that draw questions from fans and pundits alike: it is his mind.
Juan is well-seasoned in battle and specializes in making adjustments during bouts, but finds his entire game plan neutralized against the style of a mobile-counterpuncher (see his bout against Floyd Mayweather). Though Bradley knows the chinks in the armor of the celebrated Mexican and has the tools to enact a winning strategy, most pundits believe his desire to mix-it-up at his own expense will be his undoing at the Thomas & Mack arena this Saturday.
Bradley supporters point to other fighters who have changed to a brains-over-brawn approach well into their careers. Recently deceased Tommy Morrison pulled the trick against George Foreman, and former middleweight kingpin Gene Fullmer learned to think against tough Carmen Basilio.
For the California native to pull an upset he must think, using his skills to fight backing-up, reducing Juan’s follow-up opportunities. Bradley must also keep his head on straight through the match, ignoring invitations to a free-for-all. If Timothy listens to trainer Joel Diaz through the entire 12-rounds he can pull an upset and pursue redemption against Pacquiao.
Fighters know that true superfights are indeed like being over the rainbow in that their path is narrow, paved with gold, and fraught with peril.
In boxing today, Floyd Mayweather is implied in every elite match-up from 140 to 160 pounds. If Bradley falls to Marquez he would lose any market appeal in his facing Mayweather, but if he looks too impressive he may fall victim to Floyd’s “fear-factor” response.
Manuel understands that he himself is the wizard in this match-up, and that Bradley is no cowardly lion.
Against a stationary counter-fighter like himself, courage is the last thing a fighter needs. They need smarts and a strong-tendency toward self-preservation: in short, he needs brains.
Against the 40-year old future hall-of-famer, Bradley had better find a brain and use it or he will find the stuffing pulled out of him faster than the flying monkeys did to the scarecrow in the 1939 classic.
Saturday night saw defending world light-heavy champ Adonis Stevenson square off against Tavoris Cloud.
I advised the hopeful to sit this one out, and have been getting requests for disclosure.
Do you ever turn on the news channels where they show the investment feeds running across the screen? Can you imagine trying to place a bid on every single stock that is shown? It would seem ridiculous, and any broker trying to represent his clients in such a manner would be treated…how?
Would he be Prudent? Bold? Brilliant?
I’m suggesting they would be viewed as reckless.
Why then do some people from our ilk feel obligated to take everything upon which they can find action though it flies in the face of anything resembling any sort of investment strategy?
The answer is that these folks can not have stability, and Saturday night’s bout is a perfect example.
Going in to the night’s bout, the champ had 1-minute of true world-class experience. Total.
Stevenson had power. He can throw a lot of punches during a bout. That is what we knew.
Unless you have seen how a fighter handles a particular style it is unknown on whether or not they can adjust to that style, making it foolish to gamble on a gamble.
Stevenson was facing his first elite pressure-fighter, and we had no way of knowing if he could survive if his power failed to carry the day against a strong guy forcing him into exchanges.
Cloud is coming off an embarrassing loss in his last bout to Bernard Hopkins (which we all cleaned up on, didn’t we?). How would he recover?
Tavoris is a strong, well-conditioned pressure fighter with average power. Ponderous and a bit slow, could he handle the pop of a real banger? Could he exert his will on the puncher, forcing a battle of wills?
We had no answers going into the fight.
Both guys had question marks over their heads going in. If the fighters are questionable, how can anyone make a solid prediction in any way?
It seems suspicious to me that any sports-tout would charge money for people to buy a prediction from them if there are mostly unknowns surrounding all sides of the equation.
Adonis can handle more people than it earlier looked, no question, but how will he cope with stardom?
These are the things we need to examine as his career develops.
Are we going to get any decent odds on his next few bouts?
It is time to watch and wait and look for the chance to apply the new information we have learned about him.
As for Cloud, the brave lad needs to develop some wrinkles to his game as he is obviously incapable of handling motion, speed or extreme power.
Stevenson seems as effective moving away as moving forward. He has a reflexive, rather than postured, defense. He can be caught moving away, but moves backward effectively.
Against Cloud he looked equal parts Roy Jones and Clubber Lang.
If left to set the pace he dominates, and it seems only an elite fighter (Andre Ward?) could challenge him. But don’t be fooled. We haven’t seen him against adversity, or a need to rebound after being hurt.