'The Fight Game' Goes Live, Pays Tribute to Retired Fighters

By Kieran Mulvaney


When episode two of 'The Fight Game with Jim Lampley' airs immediately after Saturday's World Championship Boxing broadcast from El Paso, Texas, it will air live from on-site—a departure from the opening gambit of the series last month, which followed a "taped-in-New York" format.

"When the schedule showed up and I realized I had the Fight Game scheduled immediately following a live fight, I went to my production team and eventually to management and said, 'We can't do a live fight and then put a news show on afterward that doesn't say anything about the live fight,'" Lampley told InsideHBOBoxing last week at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. "So the lead story in this show has to be what just happened between Julio Cesar Chavez and Andy Lee, because it's a tremendously significant fight. It may or may not set up a unification fight we've all been waiting for with Sergio Martinez, so the first segment of the show will play directly off what happened in that fight."

Of course, subsequent to that conversation at the MGM, there was a reasonably high profile bout that generated fair amount of controversy and that must also be reviewed, but after Lampley and guests have dissected the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley brouhaha and then examined the issue of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport, there will remain one important matter to address, in five different ways.

Since the premiere episode of the show aired on May 12, five prominent professional prizefighters have left the sport – and in one case, this mortal realm – in very different circumstances. Shane Mosley, Winky Wright and Antonio Margarito have all retired , making the ultimate concessions to age and, in Margarito's case, the right eye injury that resulted from his 12-round battering by Pacquiao in November 2010. All will receive acknowledgment on the show, as will of course Johnny Tapia, the hugely popular former three-weight champion, who was finally consumed on May 27 by the lifelong demons that only truly dissipated during the times he was in the ring.

It was, Lampley concedes with emotion in his voice, an event that many people had been uncomfortably anticipating. "Something I'm almost certain to say in the script is that there's only one thing that could have kept Johnny Tapia alive, amid all his depredations, and he retired from boxing last year," he said. "And when I read he was 45 years old, it filled me with joy that Johnny had somehow made it to 45."

Then there is Paul Williams, who, on the same day Tapia died, was severely injured in a motorcycle accident that badly damaged his spinal cord. Williams' boxing career is assuredly over, but the news that the cord is damaged and not broken gives at least some hope that he may win the most important fight of his life so far, and one day walk again.

His public determination to do just that is testament that he will apply to that battle the same spirit that he showed over 43 professional contests, a spirit to which Lampley will pay tribute on Saturday.

"There will be 11 fighters on the Gatti list," he said, referring to his episodic guide to the ten most exciting current pugilists in the sport. "Paul Williams will gain an honorary mention because he was that kind of fighter."

He still is.

The Perfect Plan, Perfectly Defeated

By Kieran Mulvaney

Floyd Mayweather - Photo Credit: Will Hart

The blueprint for how to defeat Floyd Mayweather was laid down by Jose Luis Castillo 10 years ago:

Back Floyd Mayweather to the ropes, and keep him pinned there as much as possible. Work to the body. Hit him anywhere you can, just keep hitting him, without winding up and over-committing. Keep him pinned, keep him pressured. Make him uncomfortable.

For the best part of eight rounds on Saturday night in Las Vegas, Miguel Cotto did just that. He tucked his chin, pumped his jab, and used his left hook to keep Mayweather in front of him. And when he had him where he wanted him, he threw combinations, digging to the body and not showing concern when the punches that were aimed for the head glanced off the shoulders of his defensively sublime opponent.

He kept trying, kept plugging away, and round by round, he seemed to be steadily making progress. He bloodied Mayweather’s nose, and in the eighth he launched a sustained assault that had the Puerto Rican crowd roaring. Mayweather was smiling and shaking his head, to indicate that the punches weren’t landing cleanly, but for the first time in a decade, Floyd Mayweather was in a fight.

Read more at HBO.com.

Fight Day Now

Full Fight Day Schedule for Mayweather-Cotto

This weekend’s boxing mega-event, Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto, airs live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas at 9 pm ET / 6 pm PT. But before the opening bell rings on HBO PPV, InsideHBOBoxing.com has a full day’s worth of fight news and events to get you fired up for the big bout:

- Catch up on all the action of Fight Week, all day long -

InsideHBOBoxing.com has reported every angle of Mayweather-Cotto straight from the ground in Vegas.

- Watch the full run of ‘Mayweather-Cotto 24/7’ -

The full episodes are playing now on HBO.com and YouTube.

- Show up early for the untelevised undercards LIVE on HBO.com -

At 4 pm ET / 7 pm PT, live streaming of the initial bouts of the evening will be available free.

- Kick off your night with ‘Fight Day Now’ -

At 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT, catch HBO’s prefight show right before the televised matches begin.

- Join the Twitter conversation right here -

When the PPV broadcast starts at 9 pm ET / 6 pm PT, stay online for live updates, round-by-round scoring and more.

Get Up to Speed on All the Action of Mayweather-Cotto Fight Week

By Eric Raskin

Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto - Photo Credit: Will Hart

They spent two months preparing. They’ll spend 36 minutes (or less) fighting. We explored every angle of the matchup with a week’s worth of coverage direct from Las Vegas, building up to the collision that is Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto on HBO PPV. In case you’re joining the fight-week party late, here’s what you need to know:

Mayweather vs. Cotto matches two of the three most bankable stars in the sport, and as you might expect, that stardom was hard-earned by each gladiator in a series of signature victories. Both Cotto and Mayweather made major statements in their most recent bouts, setting the stage for arguably the biggest-selling event boxing has seen in five years.

Emanuel Steward - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Fight Week officially kicked into gear when the combatants rolled into town, greeted by throngs of fans in the MGM Grand lobby. The people made their predictions, and the next day, when Mayweather and Cotto shared the stage at the final prefight press conference, the media got in on the act of picking a winner. Meanwhile, online, fans were going over the literal blow-by-blow breakdown in HBO’s Under the Lights.

Still more experts weighed in with strategic analysis, including HBO broadcaster and Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward and a man who has faced both Mayweather and Cotto mano a mano, Zab Judah.

Canelo Alvarez - Photo Credit: Will HartSpeaking of mano a mano, Inside HBO Boxing bloggers Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney absorbed the CompuBox stats and exchanged analytical thoughts of their own. Meanwhile, the fine folks on the interwebs have had their say as well, and while Mayweather is the consensus pick, some bolder fans are stepping up and picking the upset.

Of course, Saturday’s action isn’t limited strictly to what happens in Mayweather vs. Cotto. There are three additional televised undercard fights, most notably Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. “Sugar” Shane Mosley in a battle of the ages that’s worthy of its own CompuBox analysis.

Fight night is almost here. So sit back, relax, cue up the appropriate soundtrack, get in the zone, and let the “Ring Kings” do their thing.

Mayweather-Cotto: Inside the Stats

By Kieran Mulvaney and Eric Raskin

Your faithful Inside HBO Boxing bloggers, Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney, are at it again, poring over the CompuBox stats and interpreting what they mean for Saturday night’s throwdown. Before Mayweather and Cotto exchange punches, Raskin and Mulvaney exchanged thoughts:

 

Raskin: Kieran, great to be back with you to break down another mega-event, this one featuring two of the very biggest stars in the sport, Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto. Looking over the CompuBox data on these fighters, it’s interesting that in his last fight, against Victor Ortiz, Mayweather averaged 52 punches thrown per round, his highest total since 2005. Do you see him approaching that number against Cotto?

Mulvaney: My initial response is to say no. Victor Ortiz is Victor Ortiz, and Miguel Cotto is … better. A lot better. But Floyd has, in his last couple of fights, stepped forward more and been a much more aggressive fighter. And when Cotto has been troubled in the past, it’s been by guys who have overwhelmed him with punches. Mayweather may have calculated he’d be best served doing the same.

Read More

Battles Of The Ages, For The Ages

By Eric Raskin

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

It’s a timeless tradition in boxing: A young up-and-comer looks to elevate his legacy with a win over whatever remains of an aging all-time great. That’s what Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is aiming for against “Sugar” Shane Mosley in the co-featured bout Saturday night, and there’s no shortage of examples over the years of sad spectacles that played out decisively in the younger man’s favor.

But there are also plenty of noteworthy cases where the “old man” rediscovered the magic and, whether he won or lost, the result was a classic fight that delivered drama and thrills.

Surely the most famous case was “The Rumble In The Jungle,” when the world feared for Muhammad Ali’s life against the destructive heavyweight champ George Foreman and Ali outwitted his stronger foe en route to an eighth-round knockout. And that wasn’t the last time ancient Ali took care of business against an opponent roughly a decade his junior. After a shock loss to neophyte Leon Spinks in 1978, Ali, in what would be his final victory, reversed the result to become history’s first three-time heavyweight champion.

Roberto Duran is another legendary fighter who twice pulled off late-career miracles in fights where he was supposed to serve as cannon fodder. His brutal beatdown of previously undefeated Davey Moore in ’83 was a stirring affair, topped six years later by Duran’s shocking triumph over Iran Barkley in The Ring magazine’s Fight of the Year.

Of course, you can’t talk about age-inappropriate warriors excelling against younger opponents without talking about the three greatest 40-and-over fighters ever, Archie Moore, George Foreman, and Bernard Hopkins. Moore’s recovery from three first-round knockdowns to top Yvon Durelle in 1958 stands as the defining fight of his career. Although Foreman’s knockout of Michael Moorer in ’94 was the fight that made him the oldest heavyweight champ ever, it’s his competitive loss to Evander Holyfield three years earlier that stands as the more entertaining cross-generational clash. And though Hopkins isn’t known for making classic fights, his recent victories over Kelly Pavlik, Jean Pascal, and, in both cases, Father Time, were stirring in their own ways.

Two of the best recent examples of classic fights between an aging great and a hungry young gladiator featured modern Mexican legends exceeding the expectations of many observers. In 2009, Juan Manuel Marquez outdueled Juan Diaz on HBO in what would be named the Fight of the Year. And in 2011, Erik Morales bravely ignored a grotesquely swollen eye to give Marcos Maidana all he could handle en route to a narrow decision loss.

It’s been said many times that boxing is a young man’s game. And that statement is 100 percent true. Except when it isn’t.

Career Highlights of Two World-Class Fighters

By Kieran Mulvaney

Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto bring a combined record of 79 wins and 2 losses to the ring on Saturday night. In advance of their HBO PPV clash from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, we look back on three key fights from the career of each boxer.

 

Floyd Mayweather

 

Diego Corrales (Las Vegas, January 20, 2001)

Diego Corrales - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Mayweather and Corrales were rival, undefeated 130-pound titlists when they clashed in Las Vegas, and there was no shortage of pundits who felt the lanky Corrales would prove too powerful. But in what arguably remains his greatest performance, Mayweather took Corrales apart, firing off fast combinations while exhibiting stellar defense. Corrales was unable to touch Mayweather, who floored him five times before Corrales’ corner stopped the contest in the tenth round.

 

Jose Luis Castillo (Las Vegas, April 20, 2002)

Jose Luis Castillo - Photo Credit: Will Hart

In the eyes of many observers, this was Mayweather’s toughest fight and the closest he came to defeat. Castillo applied constant pressure to Mayweather, frequently pinning him against the ropes and forcing the American on the defensive. At the bout’s end, many felt the Castillo had done enough to win, but all three judges saw the bout for Mayweather, who also won a unanimous decision in a rematch seven and a half months later. Several subsequent opponents have cited Castillo as setting the blueprint for how to beat Mayweather, but as the erstwhile Pretty Boy frequently points out, they may have all tried, but they have all failed.

 

Oscar De La Hoya (Las Vegas, May 5 2007)

Oscar De La Hoya - Photo Credit: Will Hart

This was the event that transformed Mayweather into a genuine superstar. The only previous occasion on which he fought at 154 lbs., Mayweather overcame some early resistance and a stiff De La Hoya jab to take over the fight in the second half and win a split decision victory. The 2.4 million pay-per-view buys remains a boxing record.

 

 

 

 

 Miguel Cotto

 

Ricardo Torres (Atlantic City, September 24, 2005)

Ricardo Torres - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Cotto was gaining a reputation as a hard-hitting, technically skilled but largely methodical body-puncher when he ran into Colombia’s Torres. Cotto dropped Torres in the first but was then battered and knocked down himself in the second, struggling to contend with Torres’ fast hands and hard punches. He sent Torres back to the canvas in the fourth, was hurt again in the fifth, put Torres down again in the sixth, and finally finished him in the seventh. It was the first occasion Cotto showed he could fight his way out of trouble and bring the crowd to its feet , that he could be exciting as well as effective.

 

Shane Mosley (New York, November 10, 2007)

Shane Mosley - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Cotto displayed his boxing ability against dangerous and skilled veteran Mosley, punishing the former champion with a stiff left jab and overhand rights as Mosley stayed at a distance to avoid Cotto’s punishing body attack. The American rallied down the stretch, closing the gap and hurting Cotto on several occasions, but Cotto stuck to the game plan and won a unanimous decision. Afterward, Mosley dubbed his opponent “a young lion on his way to greatness.”

 

Antonio Margarito (New York, December 3, 2011)

Antonio Margarito - Photo Credit: Will Hart

The march to greatness Mosley had prophesied was interrupted when Cotto ran into the fists of Antonio Margarito in July 2008. But when, before a fight with Mosley, Margarito was found to have tainted handwraps, the cloud of suspicion swirled around his bout with Cotto. Did he cheat during that fight? Were his wraps loaded? Cotto admitted he struggled with his confidence after that loss, but he finally exorcised his demons with a dominant display against his former tormentor, closing his right eye and stopping him after 9 rounds. With revenge secured, Cotto says he has returned to his best, in time for the clash with Mayweather.

 

Undercard Overview: Will Youth Be Served?

By Eric Raskin

Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto are from roughly the same pugilistic generation. They’re both in their 30s, separated by a single Olympic class. But their undercard is built around cross-generational matchups, pitting rising twentysomething talents against veterans nearing middle age. It’s Generation X vs. Generation Y, and here’s the A-to-Z of each bout:

 

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (39-0-1, 27 KOs) vs. Shane Mosley (46-7-1, 39 KOs)
12 Rounds, Junior Middleweights

Canelo Alvarez, Shane Mosley - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Three-division former champ Mosley will waltz into the International Boxing Hall of Fame five years after he retires, and there are some who believe Alvarez has the ability to ensure that date comes five years after this Saturday night. Does Sugar Shane have anything left at age 40? He’s coming off a shutout loss to Manny Pacquiao, an ugly draw against Sergio Mora, and a one-sided defeat to Mayweather. On paper, it looks like Mosley is nearing the end. Then again, his defeats did come against the two best fighters in the world, and most observers felt Mosley deserved to win the Mora fight.

The 21-year-old Alvarez is no Pacquiao or Mayweather — at least not yet — but he’s earning more and more respect from the boxing community with each fight as his ability and accomplishment gradually catch up with his enormous popularity. He’s coming off of TKO wins over the veteran trio of Ryan Rhodes, Alfonso Gomez, and Kermit Cintron, and one compelling plotline here is whether he can run that streak to four straight knockouts against a legend in Mosley who has never been stopped in 54 pro fights.

Alvarez is the clear betting favorite, and he has most of the physical advantages. But it should be noted that hand speed has never been Canelo’s forte, whereas the prime version of Sugar Shane was one of the fastest fighters around. Even at 40, can Mosley’s punches get there first?

 

Jessie Vargas (18-0, 9 KOs) vs. Steve Forbes (35-10, 11 KOs)
10 Rounds, Welterweights

Jesse Vargas, Steve Forbes - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Vargas was given a prime slot on the last Mayweather undercard and neither excelled nor repelled. In an entertaining bout that could have gone either way, Vargas captured a split decision over Josesito Lopez to remain unbeaten. This Saturday, the 22-year-old Vargas will look to win more definitively over former world titleholder Forbes, a 35-year-old craftsman who is notoriously difficult to look good against.

Forbes, best known for a run to the finals on the second season of ‘The Contender,’ is filling in on short notice for fellow ‘Contender’ alum Alfonso Gomez. He’ll need to turn back the clock at least a few years to have a shot against Vargas. But Forbes always gives an honest effort, and the challenge for Vargas is not just to keep the zero on the end of his record, but to give his hometown Las Vegas fans something to cheer about along the way.

 

DeAndre Latimore (23-3, 17 KOs) vs. Carlos Quintana (28-3, 22 KOs)
10 Rounds, Junior Middleweights

DeAndre Latimore, Carlos Quintana - Photo Credit: Will Hart

 As the first man to defeat both Paul Williams and Joel Julio, Quintana is no stranger to spoiling the ascent of a young fighter. Latimore isn’t quite the mega-prospect that both Williams and Julio were at the time of their unfortunate run-ins with “El Indio,” but he is in his physical prime at 26 and has shown flashes of world-class talent. The 35-year-old Quintana is a perfect barometer of whether Latimore can reach that next level—while still having enough left in the tank himself that an impressive win over Latimore can potentially earn him another major opportunity.

This battle of southpaws looks like the most even matchup on the undercard. Quintana should have the edge in skill, Latimore the edge in power. Quintana has a bit more elite-level experience. Latimore has the advantages of youth.

Like Alvarez and Vargas, he’s hoping youth can prevail on May 5.

Stars Cross In Mayweather vs. Cotto

By Eric Raskin

Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather - Photo Credits: Ed Mulholland, Will Hart

The last time Floyd Mayweather fought, the event was dubbed “Star Power.” This time, that name fits even better.

With Mayweather and Miguel Cotto sharing the prize ring, Saturday’s main event brings together two of the three biggest attractions in the sport in America. Mayweather is either “1a” or “1b” on that list, and Cotto has proven himself at the gate to the point that he’s clearly number three. Some fans will forever dwell on the fight that isn’t happening, between Mayweather and the other “1a/1b,” Manny Pacquiao. But if those fans focus on the fight that’s in front of them, they’ll see it’s the next best thing—or, at the very least, the next biggest thing.

Every boxing writer or fan has, at one time or another, criticized Mayweather’s choices in opposition. The chorus grew particularly loud back in 2005, when arguably the best boxer in the world marked time against Henry Bruseles and Sharmba Mitchell. But now, for the second fight in a row, “Money” is about to take on an opponent who is younger than he is, is probably bigger and physically stronger than he is, and is coming off a noteworthy victory. Sure, there was room to criticize the selection of Victor Ortiz last September, and the same goes for Cotto (hey, it’s hard to find a matchup that satisfies everyone). But you can make a valid case that, Pacquiao aside, Mayweather has taken on the toughest available opponent in each of his last two fights.

The question the boxing world will debate all week until the opening bell is, just how tough will this particular toughest available opponent make it on Floyd? Cotto is the underdog, of course—everyone is against Mayweather. But there are many who believe Cotto, fighting at his natural weight of 154 pounds, is a very live ’dog.

“Nobody is invincible in life,” Cotto stated at a recent media workout, acknowledging Mayweather’s undefeated record. “I’m ready for anything Floyd brings me on May 5. The question is, is Floyd ready for anything Miguel can bring to him?”

There will be plenty of time this week to break down the Xs and Os, and we’ll do quite a bit of that here at InsideHBOBoxing.com. But before the fight takes center stage, let’s appreciate what Mayweather vs. Cotto means as an event. These are two men each with their own massive fan bases, each with distinct personalities, each experienced on boxing’s grandest stage.

They’re calling this one “Ring Kings,” and that’s a name that fits just fine. But it’s the “Star Power” that brought these ring kings together.