Saturday, February 18, 2012

When Getting Slapped is a Good Thing

Dereck Chisora lands a blow for box-office gold as he slaps Vitali Klitschko across the face yesterday in Munich, Germany.

The big news of the past 24 hours is that heavyweight title challenger Dereck Chisora slapped WBC titlist Vitali Klitschko at yesterday’s official weigh-in. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Boxing has lost much of its passion in the past decade or so. These sorts of slaps, spats and disagreements used to be a routine occurrence back when boxing was still a man’s sport.

Chisora’s antics led the sportscasts, made headlines in newspapers and the video went viral on the Internet. Millions have viewed “the slap” and it will likely engender lots of folks to tune in and watch the fight later today on Epix. Transgressions such as this make people pay attention and if you asked me it is a good thing to have happen every once in a while.

People still talk of dust-ups from the past between heavyweights. Mike Tyson once chomped into Lennox Lewis’ leg. Riddick Bowe popped Larry Donald in the mouth. Hasim Rahman and Lennox Lewis once destroyed an ESPN set and Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier screwed up Howard Cosell’s interview. None of this is anything new and it’s all part of what happens when two guys get ready to “throw down” as the old saying goes.

Not a thing wrong with it in my humble estimation. What is wrong, however, is that WBC cartel leader Jose Sulaiman has his hand out for $50,000 that he is going to fine Chisora. That’s the most stinging slap of all.

Everybody asks me and I tell them that Chisora has a shot against Klitschko. Chisora has the type of style that could make it hard for the much taller Klitschko to deal with. Chisora is a poor man’s version of the bobbing and weaving Mike Tyson. Chisora is a relative novice compared to Klitschko, but he has some semblance of defense, he gets underneath punches pretty well and he always comes back with a hook and or more importantly his own jab. I would not be surprised, despite the overwhelming odds against him, to see Chisora do the unthinkable and upset the 40-year-old Klitschko.

Of Ticket Prices and Bad Moves

A ticket to see Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston in Maine in 1965 cost one-hundred bucks.

Well, big news on two fights that are upcoming. Tickets will go on sale Feb. 24 for the Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley bout which will take place June 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. A ringside seat will set you back 1,200 Benjamins which leads me to the question: Who exactly is buying these tickets at these exorbitant prices?

While I agree that a “superfight” ticket price of 1,200 clams is tolerable - we’re talking about Timothy Bradley here. He’s not Mayweather, he’s not Cotto and he’s not Juan Manuel Marquez. Bradley is totally unknown outside of the small circle that boxing has become. Two press events will take place next week to kick-off the promotion. The circus will saddle into Beverly Hills Tuesday and New York City Thursday. Everybody asks me and I tell them this fight is going to be a very, very tough sell for Bob Arum.

The best thing that could happen for Bob is that Bradley will slap Manny across the face during one of these events. But don’t bank on that happening, Pacquiao and Bradley are two low-key types.

Also announced is that a press tour will touch down in Puerto Rico, New York and Los Angeles as Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Miguel Cotto get geared up for their May 5 offensive also at “the house that Tyson built.”

Expect ticket prices for this bout - which is infinitely more attractive - to reach the same heights as the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas. Mayweather is not going to get in the ring with a tiger like Cotto for nothing and since he is making most of the money it only makes sense that he’s going to put the squeeze on the tickets buyers.

Bad move on Arum’s part for him to allow the Bradley fight to have been signed. The fight is not going to sell as well at the box office or on pay-per-view as Mayweather vs. Cotto. Thus, Mayweather will be able to claim “victory” in the money category if and when negotiations ever commence for Mayweather and Pacquiao to meet later this year. It basically gives Floyd a massive upper hand - provided both he and Pacquiao win these two fights - which is not a given.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Miguel Cotto (left) and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. will meet in a risky fight for Mayweather on May 5 in Las Vegas.

I have to give credit where credit is due. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has never been one of my fans, and the feeling is totally mutual. He once gave me a verbal tongue lashing in a ballroom at the MGM five years ago - and I still haven’t forgotten it. However, for him to fight Cotto - and at 154 pounds no less - is admirable.

Cotto is the real McCoy, a real fighter with real credentials. I’ve seen him put a hurt on a lot of folks and he is tougher than a bent nail. He won’t give in or give up and he has skills. He can box, he can punch and he can take a punch. Cotto is the most complete fighter most near his physical prime that Floyd will have faced since Jose Luis Castillo a decade ago. Kudos to Mayweather, who turns 35 next week.

February 2012

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