Styles Make Fights: Pacquiao, Marquez, Mayweather and More …

By Kieran Mulvaney

In the wake of Manny Pacquiao’s controversial win over Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday, promoter Bob Arum underlined the old boxing adage that ‘styles make fights.’ He reminded media at the post-fight press conference that George Foreman thumped Joe Frazier both times they fought, Frazier went nip-and-tuck three times with Muhammad Ali, but Ali took apart Foreman. So what, if anything, does that mean for the Pacquiao-Marquez rivalry, any upcoming HBO clashes and, down the road, a possible Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather superfight?

Pacquiao-Marquez

Photo Credit: Will HartThe third fight underlined what had been well established by the previous two: that Marquez and Pacquiao have each other’s number. Marquez is sufficiently effective to nullify Pacquiao’s strengths, but his style in doing so is unlikely ever to be enough to render him an obvious winner. He is at his best when his opponent comes at him, enabling him to return fire with counterpunching combinations. That can disrupt his foe’s aggression, but sometimes a reliance on sitting back and waiting for your opponent to make his move first, no matter how effective, can make it difficult to clearly elevate yourself over him, at least in the eyes of the judges.

Upcoming HBO Fights

Photo Credit: Ed MulhollandWhat can the ‘styles make fights’ dictum tell us about upcoming HBO matchups? Frankly, that the bouts may be more closely-fought than is immediately apparent. Both Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Saul Alvarez enter their contests as big favorites over Peter Manfredo Jr and Kermit Cintron respectively. But both Mexican fighters are more comfortable against opponents who are there to be hit and willing to exchange, and while Manfredo does not have the quick hands of Sebastian Zbik, who gave Chavez all he could handle recently, he doesn’t have clay feet like Andy Lee, whom JCC Jr sent into retirement last year. And if Alvarez can have early-round problems against blown-up welterweight Alfonso Gomez, he could be in a world of hurt against Cintron – who, as Alfredo Angulo can testify, can be surprisingly dangerous when allowed to box and move. Conversely, Cintron has been known to fold mentally under pressure of the sort Alvarez brings. It all promises genuine intrigue …

Pacquiao-Mayweather

Photo Credit: Ed MulhollandMarquez is a counter-puncher. Mayweather is a counter-puncher. But they are different sides of a similar coin. Marquez thrives on being attacked and responding with flurries; Mayweather seeks to stymie his foe’s offense entirely and pick his man apart with lightning-fast solo punches. Will that have the same effect against Pacquiao as JMM’s counter-combinations? As the dust settles over the coming weeks and months, we should learn whether or not we will soon have the chance to find out for sure, the only way that matters: In the ring.

Ortiz Fans Turn Out in Force at Weigh-In

Photo: Will HartFloyd Mayweather is the betting favorite. But if the weigh-in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday afternoon is any indication, Victor Ortiz will definitely be the crowd favorite.

Photo: Photo: Will HartWith ring announcer Michael Buffer and comedians Kevin Hart and Paul Rodriguez acting as emcees, the fans booed every mention of Mayweather and exploded for every utterance of the underdog Ortiz’s name. Not that anyone should be surprised that the Mexican-American fighter would own the crowd on Mexican Independence Day weekend. Ortiz brought fans both from his native Garden City, Kansas and his adopted hometown of Oxnard, California, not to mention those without any geographical allegiance who simply support Ortiz—or are praying for somebody to finally defeat Mayweather.

It was Mayweather—the title challenger, ostensibly, but the man with more to “defend” in a sense—who entered the arena first, looking relaxed and vaguely dapper in a forest-green track suit. “Vicious Victor” came out next, to resounding chants of “Or-tiz! Or-tiz!” from the approximate crowd of 4,000, though it’s uncertain how much of his fan support he could hear with his oversized noise-canceling headphones on.

Photo: Photo: Will HartThere was a brief discussion between the fighters over what the weigh-in order would be, and Mayweather apparently won the debate, as it was Ortiz who stripped down to his boxer shorts first. He looked chiseled and confident as he scaled the welterweight limit of 147 pounds. But then Mayweather and his famous eight-pack of abs showed what “chiseled” really looks like, and Buffer announced his weight as 146½.

Ortiz played to the crowd, and his supporters let loose with a chant of “41-and-1,” which is how Mayweather’s record would read if he loses on Saturday night. The crowd reached new decibel levels moments later, when Mayweather and Ortiz engaged in what has become something of a tradition: the nose-to-nose, jaw-to-jaw verbal joust that can only end when managers, trainers, and bodyguards yank them apart.

This time, however, Mayweather got his right hand around Ortiz’s neck for a moment before they were separated. It’s hard to know whether that inappropriate use of hands gave him the upper hand mentally going into Saturday’s showdown, or whether it will spur Ortiz on to an emotional edge.

On the scales for the undercard fights: Erik Morales and Pablo Cesar Cano both weighed the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds, and the 21-year-old Cano didn’t seem fazed at all by the moment … For a non-title bout with a 142-pound limit, Jessie Vargas came in at 142, Josesito Lopez at 140½, and an intense staredown gave way to shoving that did nothing to diminish the sense that this could be fiery battle … And at Staples Center in Los Angeles, a smiling Saul “Canelo” Alvarez scaled 153½ and a deadly serious Alfonso Gomez came in at 152½ for their junior middleweight bout.

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