Commentator Questions: Chavez-Vera II

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

More: Stakes High for Rematch | HBO Boxing Podcast | CompuBox




What type of fight can fans expect the second time around for Chavez-Vera?

Jim Lampley: The style of the fight can't change: Vera trying to press the action and use greater energy and activity to outwork Chavez for a decision victory, while Chavez takes his time and selects counterpunching opportunities to land big shots, hoping to wear down Vera and set him up for a knockout. It should be lively and physical. If Chavez appears to have been responsible in his approach to making weight and preparing for the bout, the San Antonio crowd will support him. If not, they won't.

Max Kellerman: A fan-friendly fight. Whether or not Chavez has properly rededicated himself, he has an essentially offensive style. And Vera, feeling he was robbed the first time, can be expected to be highly motivated and ready to give the best account of himself possible.

Andre Ward: I think we can expect the same Bryan Vera we saw in the first fight. I believe that the Vera we saw the first fight, I think that's probably the best Vera we are going to see. We are going to see a much more motivated, better conditioned and more focused Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. I think that's going to erase all the doubts from the first fight. I can see him stopping Vera in the mid to late rounds in this fight. 

How well does amateur pedigree translate to professional success and what are your expectations for Lomachenko as a pro fighter?

Jim Lampley: Amateur pedigree is the absolute surest predictor of professional success. Muhammad Ali, Ray Leonard, Pernell Whitaker, Floyd Mayweather, Evander Holyfield, Wladimir Klitschko, Gennady Golovkin, Guillermo Rigondeaux were all Olympic medalists, just a partial list. Lomachenko is arguably the most successful amateur fighter of all time. He will have a successful and significant pro career, win or lose vs Orlando Salido.

Max Kellerman: Amateur pedigree among fighters who come from nations with significant amateur programs is the single most positively correlated factor in predicting professional success. Lomachenko has a chance to one day, in the not too distant future, be in the pound for pound conversation.

Andre Ward: A strong amateur background, especially an amateur career like Lomachenko's, a two-time gold medalist, can hurt or help you. It can hurt you because you're locked in to an amateur system for so long and the pro game is totally different. It can help you if you are able to break the amateur style fast enough. That type of amateur pedigree can put you on the fast track in the pro game and with fewer fights than a normal fighter. Obviously Lomachenko has only one fight and is fighting for a title against Orlando Salido, who is a veteran and a crafty fighter. That shows the kind of confidence that Lomachenko and his handlers have. It will be interesting to see how this plays out because I don't think anything like this has been done before.

Jim Lampley Looks Back – and Ahead – on Pacquiao-Marquez

by Kieran Mulvaney

Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez have now fought each other for 36 closely-contested rounds. On Saturday, they will contest up to 12 more -- at the end of which, both men insist, the epic rivalry will be over. Jim Lampley has called the entirety of the action, from the first punch of the first round of the first fight, from ringside for HBO; here, he looks back on the key elements in the fights that have taken place and the things to look for in the bout that lies ahead.

We should all give thanks to Joe Cortez.

I think Larry Merchant made a great point on the first 24/7 episode. The single greatest turning point was that Joe Cortez allowed Marquez to continue out of the first round. Without that decision, I don’t think we even get a rematch, much less a trilogy, much less four fights between these guys. It all depends on Joe Cortez having the wisdom to know who Juan Manuel Marquez was, and giving him the chance to go on into the second round.

One punch was all it took.

Round three of the second fight: Marquez goes down on a straight left hand by Manny Pacquiao. It’s the difference in the fight, and it’s the difference in the first two fights, that Pacquiao is able to get him off his feet. And if there’s one thing for Marquez to regret in all the three fights, it’s going down in the third round of the second fight, because if he doesn’t taste the canvas at that moment, he wins the fight. On the other hand, he almost went down a second time, and if you look carefully at the video, his glove touched the canvas. It could have been called a knockdown, and if it had been, the fight wouldn’t have been nearly as close.

Will Marquez be more aggressive in the fourth fight?

I think we’ll find out tomorrow night whether Marquez has decided that, after falling short on the judges’ scorecards with his existing counterpunching strategy, it’s worthy of a change. He says that he’s going to fight more aggressively and try to knock Pacquiao out. If that takes place, in my view that most contributes to the probability that Marquez will get knocked out. Because if he’s going to become more aggressive, he’s going to put himself in harm’s way against Pacquiao’s proven greater punching power. Pacquiao’s had him down four times; Marquez has not yet been able to knock Pacquiao down. Although I think there’s a percentage play for Marquez in being more aggressive, and trying to make his point more forcefully in these fights, it also creates a big risk and would make for an interesting fight.

If we’re lucky, they’re not the fighters they used to be.

One possibility on Saturday is that, after so many rounds, they know each other so well, that we’re going to see Ali-Frazier II: a relatively dull fight in which neither guy is able to generate a risk quotient that will make it interesting. The other possibility is that they’re both beyond their peaks, and their defensive reflexes have slowed a little bit, and we get something like The Thrilla in Manila, where both Ali and Frazier were diminished and what we got was a spectacular piece of combat. That, I think, if you’re a pure fan, is what you have to hope for is that they are both just a little bit diminished and the result is a great, great fight.

Jim Lampley Previews the Next Installment of ‘The Fight Game’

by Kieran Mulvaney

The third episode of ‘The Fight Game with Jim Lampley’ airs on HBO on Saturday night, following the re-broadcast of last Saturday’s victory by Sergio Martinez over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. We spoke with Lampley, while he was in Las Vegas preparing to call the Martinez-Chavez fight, about what we can expect from episode 3, and what he has learned from producing the previous two episodes.

It’s a very small sample size, but is there anything that has surprised you about the process of putting these shows together, if there is anything that has stood out to you?

My experience on ‘The Fight Game’ has affirmed my perception that there is a very large core within our audience: well-versed, well-educated fight fans, who are on the web maybe every other day and at least once a week, who are following the schedule, who understand the business conflicts and business parameters and how they contribute to what we see in the ring, and who are just as interested in following the business steps that take place from fight to fight as they are the fights themselves.


You threw out the script for episode 2, and went with a powerful editorial slant, including a segment at the end in which you called on fans to ‘occupy boxing.’ I’m curious what was the response to that?

The response from fans is enormous. I’ve always been recognized in the arena; there have always been people who’ve called out my name and wanted an autograph or photograph, something like that. That’s not new. But the intensity of it, and the number of people, is significantly larger than before. People are yelling at me about The Fight Game as soon as I walk into the arena; people are confronting me about it, and asking me what’s on the next show, and that’s very gratifying.

And I have people who send me emails or call me up, both from boxing media and from the fan group, who want to advise me on what to do next and what the editorial content of the next show should be.


What can we expect for episode 3?

You know, 9/22 is an interesting date, because it’s one week beyond this unusual business confrontation of 9/15, and so for me the lead story is obvious: What happened when Chavez Jr. and Canelo Alvarez went head-to-head with each other down the street in Las Vegas, and is that, as most people see it, a sign of the sport’s insanity? Or could it be seen as a positive? Is it a sign that boxing’s health is back, that 19,000 people [were] in the Thomas & Mack Center, and apparently [almost] 15,000 in the MGM Grand? And even though Mexico’s two great attractions were forced to split their audience that night, both business enterprises feel as if they’re going to be making out OK. So maybe our sport isn’t as dead as all those general media people think it is.


Which leads to my final question: Over the years, there has always been despair when the top fighters approach retirement, but there is always somebody else to take their place. As Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao near the end of their careers, did Andre Ward make the definitive case on September 8 that he is next in line to sit in the throne atop the sport?

He certainly came off the page in a big way, and he provided the kind of dramatic excitement that hasn’t always been the case in his other fights. He’s demonstrated extreme competence, and he’s shown that he can beat good opponents, that he can shut them down defensively and with his enormous intelligence, but he has not produced a real offensive explosion prior to last week. And now, viewers have the image of him knocking down Chad Dawson three times, and really exploding with that left hook, and that provides a tantalizing template for the future. Can he do that kind of thing again? Can he do what [Sergio] Martinez has done: going from having a good career to suddenly skyrocketing and saying “Wow, look at me, I’m really one of the best there is”?

Jim Lampley Looks Ahead to Chavez-Martinez

by Kieran Mulvaney

As always, Saturday’s HBO PPV card will be called by Jim Lampley, who brings his expert analysis, honed from years of sitting ringside for big fights. We asked him to break down the main event between Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

The Smaller Martinez Needs To Hurt the Bigger, Granite-Jawed Chavez

“At some point, if Martinez can land clean shots, he’s got to be able to at least get the sense he’s hurting Chavez at times, or he might get discouraged. I think Andy Lee got visibly discouraged when he was able to land pretty much what he wanted to land and it meant nothing. I have to assume, based on what Matthew Macklin says and other opponents have said, that Martinez has more pop than the other guys who’ve been hitting Chavez – and he’d better, because he’s going to have to make his punches count, or else he’s probably going to face the same fate as those other guys, in that you’re going into the late rounds against somebody you can’t move, can’t do anything with, and he’s walking to you with complete confidence, because he has what appears to be an impregnable chin.”

 Chavez Jr. May Not Be Benefiting from the Presence of Chavez Sr.

“I think that the 24/7 experience was uncomfortable for Chavez Jr., because I don’t think he liked his father’s constant involvement and constant presence. I think he was happier and more self-possessed when his father was not around him every day. I think he wants to be seen as anything other than merely Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and it’s simply impossible for him to get away from it, because his father’s id is just too big, his father wants to be in front of the cameras, posing as the trainer from time to time.”

Both Men Are Going to Have to Dig Deeper Than They Have Before

“There’s a high level of unknown for both fighters, and that’s what makes it so fascinating for fans. We know what these guys can do against other people. This is the unique equation in the middleweight division. This is the division’s best, fastest, most fluid fighter against someone who is bigger and stronger than everyone else. And it’s one thing to be big and strong with a questionable chin; I’ve seen plenty of that. But when a guy is big and strong and appears to have a chin of complete granite, that’s a different kind of creature, and that’s something that Martinez has to be concerned about, despite his clear advantages in almost every other area.”

This Is a Much More Interesting Fight Than It Might Have Been 12 Months Ago

“When I closed the show in El Paso (when Chavez defeated Lee), I said – and it was surprising to me to be saying it – that I don’t now know who wins the fight. Up until that moment I was absolutely certain who would win, but after watching Chavez Jr. against Lee that night, I dispensed with that certainty, and I went to a different place, where I cannot say for sure who wins.”

Relive All the Action of Pacquiao-Bradley Fight Week

By Eric Raskin

Fight week is a steady build, with interviews, press conferences, and analysis on top of analysis leading toward the moment when the fighters touch gloves on Saturday. But something happens on Friday night where the steady build ends and the spike in excitement takes everything to the next level. Nowadays, the signifier that fight week is winding down and fight day is all but here is the airing of the final episode of 24/7. That’s the moment when it becomes real. The fighters are in place. The weigh-in is complete. The fight is officially on. Now we’re all just watching the clock, wishing the hands would turn a bit faster.

How will you pass the time in the final hours before Pacquiao-Bradley? How will you occupy your mind to take the edge off the anticipation? You can relive not just that final episode of 24/7, but the first, second, and third, as well. And you can celebrate everything that happened during fight week.

You can watch the fighters’ arrivals and hear what they had to say when they got to Vegas. You can look back at each man’s previous fight. You can focus on Pacquiao and what’s changed for him lately, or on getting to know Bradley. Or you can strike a balance and explore what’s at stake for each warrior, both the legendary Pacquiao and the undefeated Bradley.

If it’s strategic insight you crave, there’s no shortage of that. You can enjoy a visual breakdown. You can hear what legendary trainer and neutral observer Emanuel Steward has to say, or what legendary trainer and not-at-all neutral observer Freddie Roach has to say. You can go inside the mind of one of one of Pacquiao’s most famous knockout victims, Ricky Hatton. You can check out the CompuBox stats, or go one step farther and see what Inside HBO Boxing bloggers Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney had to say about those stats. And if you think this one’s going to go the distance, you can step up your knowledge of how to score a fight right with Harold Lederman’s help.

And if it’s predictions you want, check out who the media tabbed to win when they gathered at the final press conference. Or read what the fans are saying, from those picking Pacquiao to those predicting the upset.

The clock keeps ticking, slowly but surely. Before you know it, the undercard will be underway. And then, finally Pacquiao and Bradley will step into the ring. Fight week will be over. It will be fight time.

Jim Lampley Expects to See Early Intensity

By Kieran Mulvaney

Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley - Photo Credit: Will HartCalling the action on Saturday night’s pay-per-view battle between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley will, as ever, be Jim Lampley, who has been the voice of HBO Boxing since 1988. We sat down with the broadcast veteran in a relatively quiet corner of the bustling MGM Grand on Friday, to solicit his opinion on what we are likely to see once the bell rings.

There appears to be an undercurrent of opinion that, if ever Manny Pacquiao were to be upset in the ring, it might be in this fight, by this opponent.

I’d call it more than an undercurrent. I’d call it a groundswell. I’m surprised by the number of intelligent people I know who are picking Bradley to win the fight. I’m not one of them. I personally believe that Manny Pacquiao’s vast experience and punching power differentiate him in such a way that he should be the clear favorite in the fight – and he is. But there are a number of people who have obviously come to that conclusion based on Pacquiao turning toward religion and away from a flamboyantly raucous lifestyle, and making a commitment to the kind of behaviors we’re now seeing, such as smiling through the stare-down at the weigh-in today and then smiling benevolently through the interview with Max Kellerman afterward, and not even commenting on why he behaved that way. It was quite unusual.

Obviously, there’s a huge body of opinion that if you turn that way in your life, you’re not going to be the same fighter in the ring any more. I’m not of that opinion; I don’t believe that’s necessarily true. I think that Pacquiao can go in and fight the way he always has.

Stylistically and tactically, how does Timothy Bradley put himself in position to win this fight?

The first thing you think of is: rough him up, and break Pacquiao’s rhythm by doing things that, really, haven’t much been done to him during this spectacular streak of his. I don’t remember seeing anybody grab him by the shoulders and try to wrestle him around the ring. I certainly don’t remember, within the last several fights, seeing an accidental head butt that truly bothered him. He did get butted in the tenth round of the [Juan Manuel] Marquez fight [in November], and it bled somewhat, but it wasn’t like the bleeding that so clearly bothered him and may have emotionally debilitated him, in the first [Erik] Morales fight, which was his only loss on American soil.

Roy Jones said to me on the first edition of The Fight Game that, when a fighter is involved in several fights where there are head butts, that’s not an accident. And he went through a very cogent demonstration of how it is that a guy like Bradley gets his head in such a position that the other guy’s head is going to find it. And if there’s a butt, it wouldn’t shock me; and if Pacquiao bleeds from that butt, Bradley has exactly the conditions he wants.

How do you anticipate the fight developing?

I think the first couple of rounds will be intense, because I think that Bradley is quite aware that the head butt thing has reared its ugly head in quite a number of his fights, so he has had the experience many times of understanding that, if a butt causes a stoppage, he wants to be ahead on the scorecards, as he was when he fought Devon Alexander [in January 2011].  So there’s an urgency that’s involved in winning rounds, and Tim Bradley has said he’s going to fight to win every round. I’m very certain that Freddie Roach has also been telling Manny Pacquiao that it’s extremely important to win every round, especially the early rounds, so you’re ahead on the scorecards should there be a stoppage due to an accidental butt.

So I think the first few rounds will be intense. I think that whatever Bradley has in store for Pacquiao that might be a surprise, he’s got to unfurl it and use it early, and I think that Freddie Roach has been quite forthright in telling Pacquiao that he needs a spectacular performance, that he needs a violent knockout, that he needs the kind of thing that will coalesce his fan base around him and increase the chance that Floyd Mayweather feels he has to fight him.

I think we’re going to see Manny Pacquiao trying to land power punches and set up a knockout in the first four or five rounds of the fight, and I think we’re going to see Timothy Bradley trying to take advantage of that, to counter in a hurry and to get Pacquiao in positions he doesn’t like – and oh, by the way, if he can pin him against the ropes, that would be ideal.

Go to HBO.com for more fight info.

Fight Day Now

Pacquiao vs. Marquez: Who won the first two fights?

By Eric Raskin

Photo Credit: Will Hart

The first battle between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, waged in 2004 at the MGM Grand, became an instant classic featuring one of the most stirring comebacks in boxing history. The rematch, fought almost four years later at Mandalay Bay, was arguably even more action-packed and punishing than the first fight. And both bouts were as controversial as they were thrilling – to this day, there is nothing resembling a consensus on who won either fight. Our roundtable of boxing experts, including Jim Lampley and Harold Lederman, follows the same trend: Everyone has a different perspective on who won and why.

> After hearing from the experts, cast your own vote on who deserved the victory in the first two fights, and who you think will win the third matchup.

Photo Of The Day: Jim Lampley, Preparing For Saturday

Photo: Will Hart

HBO's Jim Lampley and Roy Jones Jr. Look Ahead to Alexander vs. Bradley