Mayweather, Broner, and Pacquiao
There’s something to be said for the ivory tower. The view is spectacular, even though pizza delivery boys bitch and moan about the stairs. But as much as I like the heights I’m not afraid to get down and dirty. If balance is the key to life, I may never need a locksmith.
With the eyes of the boxing world focused on tonight’s fight between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez, Money May is on my mind. And yet it’s hard to think about Mayweather without thinking about Adrien Broner and Manny Pacquiao. If Floyd is the Father, Broner is the Son, and Pacquiao, whose post-Rios future is uncertain, is the Holy Ghost.
The idea of a Holy Trinity of boxers isn’t as ludicrous as it seems. Put any of their names in an article’s title and the number of reads is through the roof. In part it’s because of their accomplishments in the ring. In part it’s because of their personalities, which are similar in some cases, and as different as night and day in others.
Wanted to get a take on boxing and celebrity, I spoke with the Grammy Award nominated hip hop artist T.O.N.E-z, a celebrity in his own right, who is as crazy about boxing as he is about rhymes.
T.O.N.E-z and I don’t always see eye-to-eye. But we don’t have to see eye-to-eye, since neither of us is tyrannical. Besides, if there’s one thing we agree upon, it’s that boxing is where it’s at.
“The funny thing about Mayweather is,” says T.O.N.E-z, “when he says he’s the face of boxing he’s not lying. He is boxing right now. He’s not making it up. You can mention some names, but for some reason they’re always connected to him. That’s just crazy in itself.”
Numbers don’t lie. But another funny thing about Mayweather is that he’s the face of boxing, at least for the casual fight fan, without embodying the characteristics the casual fan likes. He’s strategic. He’s scientific. He’s doesn’t mix it up. He doesn’t drink petrol and breathe fire in the ring.
T.O.N.E-z does not agree.
“I don’t want to compare him to a female,” he says, “but I’m going to compare him to Beyoncé. Beyoncé is probably the best vocalist in the last ten years but she’s overshadowed by everything else but her singing talent. And I think it’s the same thing with Mayweather. He boxes. He brawls. He moves. He shakes. But it’s overshadowed by the fact that he’s so arrogant with it. People keep thinking Mayweather runs from people. If you watch his fights, he stands there a lot and fights. Look at what happened with Cotto. But people are so caught up in what he says and how he carries himself, they don’t realize this dude is unbelievably skilled and he studies his opponent and he carries it through in every fight. When people say ‘he’s not the kind of fighter fight fans like,’ I think why would they not like a guy who has all the above?”
“Because they’re not educated,” I say.
“Perfectly said,” replies T.O.N.E-z.
Mayweather is a brilliant boxer who dissects opponents with the precision of a surgeon. Fighters like Mike Tyson and Arturo Gatti capture the public’s imagination. Fighters like Mayweather as a rule do not. People may object to his flash and pizzazz, but they tune in, in record numbers no less, whether it’s to watch him strut his stuff or lose a step.
“He said it himself,” says T.O.N.E-z. “‘Whether you watch me to win or watch me to lose, you’re going to watch me.’ I think a loss would probably increase his popularity. People love to see a comeback. We all know he’s a loudmouth, but Mayweather is very intelligent and crafty. People be thinking he’s fighting these slouches. Robert Guerrero follows me on Twitter. He’s not a punk. He’s not some pushover. But Mayweather schooled him. I believe Mayweather when he says, ‘Okay, who has Canelo fought? He’s 42-0, but who the hell has he fought?’ But I’ll tell you something: don’t sleep on Canelo. I do believe Canelo’s a future superstar. I don’t think he’s a flash in the pan. But he’s like Broner. He just hasn’t mastered his skills yet.”
Having addressed the Father, T.O.N.E-z gave me the perfect lead-in for the Son.
“Broner should have finished Paulie,” he says. “Paulie’s a good fighter. He’s just not a great fighter. I hate to say that about the guy because he seems like such a decent dude. Broner played around too much. He should have walked through Paulie like it was nothing. But Paulie kept coming. His punches might not have done any kind of damage, but he was throwing a crapload of them.”
The fight with Malignaggi wasn’t Broner’s finest moment. Perhaps that finest moment is to come.
“Broner won the fight fair and square, but he didn’t do it in a fashion where you think, ‘This kid is that next guy,’ and that why there’s no talk about him right now. People talk about him as the guy who’s running around running his mouth, which is great, but the next fight he has he better do some serious damage, because if he doesn’t you can forget about it. He’s just going to be one of those guys who fought and won. He needs to go in there and put it on.”
Broner has the skills. He has the athleticism. And according to T.O.N.E-z, “he hits harder than Mayweather. I just think he’s a little too comfortable and you can’t get that comfortable this early in a career. I really do think Broner’s a problem. He just hasn’t tapped into the killer instinct yet. He’s too busy attempting to be Mayweather, when it’s like, ‘Homie, you’re you. We all know you. We know you learned a lot from Mayweather. But don’t get carried away. You still gotta be you.’ Everybody took something from somebody. Sugar Ray Leonard pretty much took a lot from Ali, but he took it and made it Sugar Ray Leonard’s.”
“And Ali took a lot from Sugar Ray Robinson,” I add, “and made it Muhammad Ali’s.”
“Thank you!” says T.O.N.E-z “exactly. I love when people just catch that. When you step in the ring, if your mind’s not sharp, I don’t give a damn what kind of skills you got. It doesn’t matter. That’s why Broner hasn’t amazed people yet. His mind isn’t in the fight yet. His bravado’s in the fight, and his physical power’s in the fight, but his mind’s not in there. Broner needs to show people what he can do and I think he can pull it off. But he hasn’t shown it yet.”
Last but not least, I wanted to discuss Pacquiao, also known for our purposes as the Holy Ghost.
“I like him,” T.O.N.E-z says. “I dig him. I believe he deserves to be where he is. I respect the guy. I’m not a hater of Pacquiao at all. Pacquiao is probably the most active fighter in a boxing ring now. And when I say active, the guys just seems like you wind him up and he never stops. He hops around and throws nine million punches and six million land. He’s a great fighter, but that technique just bothers me.
“In the last fight with Marquez, he was busting his shit. He was putting it on Marquez, but Marquez’s training and determination said, ‘I’m going to catch the motherfucker at some point’—and he caught him with a perfect shot, and it knocked him out cold. I do think Pacquiao will be a little gun-shy after that. Everybody would. It’s just the way we’re built. I don’t put Pacquiao up there with the super greats. I’m just not completely sold on him. Even Freddie be saying, ‘Look, train more.’”
Pacquiao would train more if boxing had his undivided attention. But it does not. He’s a congressman in the Philippines, which must be a distraction and a half for an ambitious prizefighter. I asked T.O.N.E-z if he could imagine a U.S. congressman, no matter the weight, getting it on with Marquez or Brandon Rios.
T.O.N.E-z thought about it and shook his head no.