Tag Archives: sugar ray robinson

The Late, Great László Papp Revisited

— The late, great László Papp, amazingly he was with us unto the ripe age of 77 before passing in 2003, easily ranks among the most underrated middleweights due to his career being cut short beyond his circumstances. He was arguably the best amateur boxer ever with 3 consecutive Olympic Gold Medals, and most certainly the best all time ama up to his era, plus he had a claim to be the best southpaw boxer ever until Manny Pacquiao came along.

Hungarian Rhapsody

Hungarian Rhapsody

Only standing 5-5 or so and scaling in the mid 150s, in modern boxing terms, he’d probably start with titles in the welter division and work his way up as a 3 division title holder at middleweight. He was trapped in the cold war politics of his era and never got a professional world title shot although he was at the threshold of such before he was recalled permanently by his communist Hungarian overseers.

His final pro record of 27-0-2, 15 KO can never tell us his whole story, but perhaps the year of 1962 can illuminate what kind of fighter he was in his best year. He started with Ralph “Tiger” Jones who had already mounted the scalps of Hall of Famers Sugar Ray Robinson, Kid Gavilan, and Joey Giardella for his trophy collection and was willing to travel to Austria for the Papp scalp. Alas, Tiger, who was only stopped once early in his career on cuts, was knocked down 3x, the last coming in the 10th and last round that he was only just able to hear the final bell. Then Papp picked up the EBU title and defended in France against an undefeated Frenchman with the coolest name, Hippolyte Annex, 28-0-5 and younger than the 32 yr old Papp as was Jones.

Long before there was 24/7 and such, there was this uniquely styled French video clip that played in theaters the month before the fight. Annex is as cool as his name, very verbal, cheery, loving a good fight and clearly in training he’s a superwhiz at rope skipping and lightning fast. The video also has clips of the fight action tacked on which doesn’t do justice to the fighters, but wow, what a finish that sums up the fight perfectly, László Papp was the goods, no doubt, R.I.P.



Modern P4P Rankings–Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather Jr

by Bobby Mac

OK, let’s start with a brief primer of the history of the P4P concept that is poorly understood by modern boxing fans who too often only want to justify their favorite P4P fighters rather than to impartially compare top fighters across the divisions. Other less than honorable fans are only bent on destructive argumentation lacking any merit based on their personal dislike of certain fighters that may even bleed into unseemly hatred for a fighter.

The “modern” concept of boxing “Pound for Pound” dates back to a series  of many P4P tributes to the incomparable Sugar Ray Robinson who turned pro to much acclaim after an undefeated amateur career.  I’d imagine there are earlier references to the concept of P4P framed in different terminology probably going back to the 18th century bare knucks era and beyond to the David vs Goliath era and then beyond that.

Every new generation tends to rediscover a concept to reframe for their own understanding, leaving the original concept in an increasingly fuzzy state. For the blessed purpose of establishing a set of base level P4P guidelines, let us start with a representative comment penned a few years later in 1951 by Wilfred Smith that is typical of the P4P accolades heaped on  Sugar Ray Robinson:

“Ray Robinson has been called the finest fighting man for his pounds in the history of pugilism.”

The early P4P concept incorporates the values of weight disparities, excellence of application, and skills. The mid 1900s concept of weight is important because the original weight class dating back to the days of James Figg was an open one, i.e., the fighters could weigh whatever they wanted which ultimately became the heavyweight division by way of general consensus. Naturally folks took note when a smaller fighter challenged a bigger one, so fighters were weighed to satisfy curiosity, but in truth, the ritual was constructed in order to harden the betting line since the bigger fighter usually prevailed.

Weight stipulations begin working their way down from that original open class in order to more closely match up fighters of different weights that eventually began to be known as middleweight and welterweight divisions that were further split into the some 17-18 modern weight classes we have today. Weights and ages of fighters were almost important as the claimed records of the fighters in those unregulated bare-knuckled days.

Sugar Ray Robinson fought in the middle range of modern divisions, starting his career at 130 lbs and working up to 160lbs at his peak. He was often matched against larger fighters as was the norm back then, and was always victorious save the first Lamotta loss, his only anomaly in his first 140 fights. The importance of weight was such that appropriately skilled fighters with an established record of excellence across these weight disparities were naturally lauded as the top fighters. The thinking was` that when proportionately sized up and down various weight classes in his era, Robinson could beat every fighter regardless of weight, the ultimate fantasy culmination of a rabid boxing enthusiast come true.

Objective interpretation of the attributes needed today when comparing fighters across widely disparate weight classes would follow:

1. SIZE, as in results of fights with obvious height, weight, and reach disparities that are the historical holy trinity of significant boxing physical measurement records. Successfully moving up through weight classes is very important to today’s generation of more heavily regulated fighters who usually are no longer allowed to make matches against much heavier opponents save the open heavyweight division that sees the dramatic size differences..

2. Skills, as in the number of skills and strategic nuance the fighter shows on offense and defense.

3. Dominance, as in the excellence of application of natural talents and abilities over opponents.

4. Quality of Opposition as in a record full of quality, ranked or otherwise highly regarded fighters.

5. Power, as in genuine knockout power that takes the result out of the hands of subjective judges.

OK, now with the essential historical background and modern concepts of P4P established, how about we move to the main course, the meat of this P4P debate, Pacquiao vs Mayweather. To get to the main course, I have to make proper preparations such as asking the essential question that nobody ever bothers to ask and then look at the answers.

Exactly what are the actual Ring P4P histories of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr?

Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao

Starting in sequential side by side career order, Manny Pacquiao as the younger fighter was the first to turn professional as so many future boxers do in impoverished “3rd World” countries lacking a public education system. It was 1995 at age 16, when this skinny junior flyweight scaling 106 lbs entered the ring to earn a hard fought 4 round decision. The very next year, 1996, Floyd Mayweather Jr turned pro after a stellar amateur record including a bronze medal in the Olympic Games. He was age 19 at 129 lbs campaigning as a super featherweight, usually winning by knockout.

Floyd Mayweather Jr

Floyd Mayweather Jr

Mayweather was the first to win a title in 1998, the WBC superfeatherweight belt that he took from the highly regarded Genero Hernandez, 38-1-1 by way of 8th round KO. He was now age 21 in his 3rd year of boxing and earned his first Ring P4P ranking with the win at the #10 spot.

Pacquiao followed a couple of months later by winning his first title, the WBC flyweight title that he took from highly regarded Chatchai Sasakul, 33-1, also by way of 8th round KO. Pacquiao was now age 19 in his 4th yr of boxing, but he did not earn Ring P4P honors.

So, to sum up 1998, both hold their first titles, a WBC belt  for each with Mayweather earning an additional Ring P4P ranking. Neither had yet to fight much less beat a Ring ranked P4Per. Remember though, Ring Magazine is American based and Mayweather was well known to the voters, whereas Pacquiao was almost completely unknown in America and certainly not yet fighting in Vegas on American broadcasts as Mayweather was from the gitgo of his career.

Mayweather beats a Ring P4Per for the first time when he knocks out #5 Diego Corrales in 2001. That upgrades him to the Ring #8 spot by the start of 2002 with Eric Morales, Kostya Tszyu, Oscar de la Hoya, and Marco Antonio Barrera notably ranked over him. 2002 happens to also be the year Pacquiao fights his first ever Ring P4Per, beating #3 Barerra that earns him the #6 Ring ranking, just under #5 Mayweather by the start of 2003.

So, by 2003, these natural adversaries are starting to look like two peas in the P4P pod, but Pacquiao has to become a marquee name across the globe before the P4P debate between these two becomes serious.

Since Pacquiao quickly becomes the best known boxer across the globe, than by all means, let the serious fun begin.

2004 starts the year with some shakeout of the Ring rankings due to losses resulting in Mayweather being bumped up to #2.  Manny moves into Floyd’s old #5 slot and fights his 2nd P4P fight ever against the #6 making his P4P debut, Juan Manual Marquez, in their forever controversially fabled draw. Other notable P4P names that year at or near their divisions ` are #3 Kostya Tszyu, #7 Barrera, #8 Morales.

2005 starts with Mayweather in the #1 slot courtesy of Jermaine Taylor who dethroned #1 Bernard Hopkins. #3 is Barrera who worked his way back up with back to back wins over #6 Morales. #4 is Ricky Hatton with #5 occupied by Pacquiao, notable because he fights #6 Morales who wins a close decision. That would be Pacquiao’s 3rd P4P fight. Marquez is #7, and noteworthy that old Mayweather foe, Jose Luis Castillo makes his P4Pdebut at #9 followed by Zab Judah’s return to the rankings at #10 after a 4 yr absence thanks to a big upset of reigning welter champ Cory Spinks that earned Judah the unified title.

So, 2006 starts with Mayweather still in the #1 slot and scheduled to fight #10 Judah, but Judah is upset by unknown journeyman Carlos Baldomir, negating Mayweather’s opportunity to match up against his 2nd ever Ring P4P. Meanwhile, Pacquiao has fought his way to #2 before twice knocking out #6, Morales in back to back fights that are Pacquiao’s  4th and 5th opportunities against a P4P fighter.

2007 starts again with Mayweather still in as #1. In his 2nd ever P4P fight, he knocks out #8 Ricky Hatton and then retires. Pacquiao and Marquez are #2 and #3 with Miguel Cotto making his debut at #7. Pacquiao doesn’t make any P4P fights in 2007.

2008 sees Mayweather retired with Pacquiao installed as the new #1. He promptly makes his 6th ever P4P fight, beating the new #2, Marquez. Antonio Margarito makes his P4P debut at #6 while Cotto is bumped to #8 and Hatton goes to #10.

2009 sees #1 Pacquiao has his 7th and 8th P4P fights, knocking out #9 Hatton and #8 Cotto while Mayweather returns to beat #2 Marquez in his 3rd ever P4P fight. Noteworthy is Shane Mosley returning to the P4P rankings after a long absence to #5 by knocking out Margarito who has his boxing license suspended and is promptly stripped of his Ring P4P and welter rankings.

2010 sees #1 Pacquiao and #2 Mayweather scheduled to fight in March and then later in November, but Mayweather mysteriously backs of both of the fights and dates, choosing instead to fight #5 Mosley in May, Mayweather’s 4th ever P4P fight. After winning a decision, Mayweather announces a 2 yr retirement.

So, the current  P4P tally is #1 Pacquiao holding a career 6-1-1, 5 KO record against Ring ranked P4P fighters in comparison to #2 Mayweather at 4-0, 2 KO.

Pacquiao is scheduled to fight his 9th ever P4P fight, the current Ring # 4 P4P, Marquez, in their long anticipated rubber match this coming November. The results of that fight are obviously pending. Mayweather announced his return from retirement with a fight against the new WBC welter champ, Vicious Victor Ortiz, this coming September 17th. Ortiz who has no P4P ranking yet, so for 2011 Mayweather looks set with 4 total career P4P fights to Pacquiao’s anticipated 9th ever P4P fight.

It’s probable that the Pacquiao has already set some P4P records that may never be broken in both the number of P4P fights he has already had, 8, and the number of P4P wins he has notched, 6, and the # of P4P knockouts he has, 5.

The average ranking of Pacquiao’s eight P4P  opponents is a 6 with Marquez being the highest at #2, Barrera #3, Morales #6 x3, Marquez again at #6, Cotto #8, and Hatton at #9. Noteworthy is that against 3 of these P4Pers, Pacquiao simultaneously made his divisional debut against the 2 best fighters at that weight, Barrera at featherweight, and Hatton at juniorwelter. Pacquiao could have made his 3rd divisional debut against #1 Barrera who had moved to the superfeather division, but Barrera refused to exercise his rematch clause since he didn’t want to risk losing the new plaudits he found in his new division. Pacquiao’s divisional P4P debut record is 2-0, 2 KO.

The average ranking of Mayweather’s 4 opponents is #5 with Marquez being the highest at #2, Corrales #5, Mosley #5, and Hatton #8. Mayweather has no divisional debut P4P fights in his record.

Also noteworthy is that Pacquiao also eventually beat the #2 fighter, Marquez in this case, to consolidate his #1 status, the only fighter in the brief history of P4P rankings that I can recall having done this.

The more inventively argumentative might claim that former #1 Mayweather later returned after a two year absence to beat the #2 in Marquez, but that seems a lesser achievement since Marquez had to jump two weight divisions to where he was unranked just to make that fight happen, technically a fight between two divisionally unranked fighters designed as an unlikely and unexpected novelty bout that attracted quite a bit of interest, it’s only intent.

Lest anyone need a reminder, Pacquiao already beat #2 at #2’s best weight at the apex of Marquez’s career. Why Mayweather has steadfastly refused to challenge #1 after repeatedly teasing the boxing public by having his team hammering out expensive, arduous negotiations leading to agreed upon terms that Mayweather then chose to reject may end up as the ultimate unsolved mystery of 21st Century boxing.

Mr. P4P

Mr. P4P

Few would doubt the overall skills, dominance and quality of opposition of each fighter. As prime fighters, they generally match up well against most of the greats in history in my opinion regardless of where any fighter ranks.

Pacquiao has also established a significant edge in moving through weight classes, winning belts in 8 divisions and has held all the major belts at one time or the other, the WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO, and Ring belts. Mayweather has been  successful in winning belts as he moved through 5 divisional belts, but he is more limited in the variety of those belts, confining himself to the WBC and Ring belts though technically he also won the IBF belt from the disgraced Judah after he was beaten into ignominy by the ancient journeyman Carlos Baldomir. Baldomir in any fair world deserved that IBF strap  to go with his WBA and WBC belts, but boxing doesn’t always operate under fair terms.

Pacquiao also has a significant advantage in power as he moved up, notching several serious knockouts of P4P opposition, whereas Mayweather just has two of those kind of knockouts.

So, there it is folks, the current history of the P4P careers of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Make of it what you may at your own peril since P4P rankings are still evolving. Many fighters have been able to make P4P lists on the excellence of their records without beating an actual P4P ranked fighter.  Fighters often don’t have an available P4P fighter near their division to fight, so it’s always a bonus when two P4Pers do fight, but that’s no guarantee of memorable classic like the fans are want to project when they dream of these fights happening.

I deliberately chose to ignore the broader overall career record comparison because that’s been done to death and just muddies waters that need clarification. I am more interested in the narrow focus of the historical Ring P4P rankings regarding these two to sharpen any objective differences rather than run off on another subjective dead end, and that was accomplished in this case.

I recall Ring Magazine not long ago updating their P4P rankings by noting that P4P rankings are “mythical.” I would add that all rankings are “mythical”, including past or current Ring divisional rankings. The only thing “tangible” in boxing is who holds which belt, and as we all know, the belt holder may not come close to being considered the best in their division nor may he have any financial or personal interest in even fighting the best.

Nonetheless, Ring Rankings establish a general framework for a consensus benchmark in a sport that is too often is one of the most of the most subjective sports. Boxing desperately needs objective oversight for any true understanding, but that won’t stop every fan, boxing analyst and their grandmothers from constructing their own personal P4P lists, dismissing all lists that came before them, so I won’t bore anyone with my own P4P rankings.

Interestingly, however, I have often suggested combining P4P consensus rankings to get a broader consensus average ranking, which led to me constructing the BSIBRO alltime heavyweight ranking a few years back. That would be the Boxing Scene all time heavyweight rankings compiled by vote by one dedicated fellow named Hurricane that I combined with the International Boxing Research Organization ratings, an amalgamation of the largest fan boxing website with the most established boxing “historian” organization.

Though the top two rankings remained the same with Joe Louis edging out Muhammad Ali, more modern heavies from the 70s era on up dominated the Boxing Scene poll compared to the IBRO poll of older “gentlemen” who preferred the older heavies. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that folks tend to like and vote for fighters they grew up knowing about rather than rate by any serious objective standard that isn’t even established anyway, so in that regard, putting together the BSIBRO poll highlighted the bias that I had long noticed in “objective” Ring rankings.

So, that concludes the Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr Ring P4P comparison. It was a tedious exercise for me, but worth the information and understanding it ultimately imparted.

?What’s For Dinner–Cowboy ChopSteakSuey–RAW!

First off, apologies for the software problem that has mysteriously butchered up my Pacquiao vs Margarito—Superbowl Del Boxeo article. I’m attempting to edit it back, but I’m not sure of any success, so it may be edited in an inferior fashion to the original or it may just have to be grammatically interpretated as best as possible.

Now, as to last night’s fight at Cowboy stadium, let’s be clear here, regardless of anyone’s personal feelings about Manny Pacquiao or Antonio Margarito, these two fighters deserve high praise for showing up in as fine a condition as any fighters in history ever have, taking last night’s fight to each other with skill and ferocity.

The fight was mostly staged at ring center with each doing as much as they are capable within parameters of their styles and talents, yet by the end, the superiority of Manny Pacquiao stood out as bright as the multiple rotating sky lights that spectacularly lit up the night sky and Cowboy stadium.

ChopSteakSuey Time Para Tu, Senor!

ChopSteakSuey Time Para Tu, Senor!

 I am not of the persuasion that derides lesser losing fighters with banal common descriptors such as “Bum” or dismissing them as ”Shot” or “Trash” and so on. Some fans just don’t understand how this also greatly diminishes their own favored fighter who have apparently only beaten bums or fought trash by extension.

Still, it’s only natural that we the people can have a little fun with metaphors, similes, euphemisms, and captioned photos, all of which paint a picture of the life of a fighter, typically mixed with humbling doses of public pain and humiliation in the ring with shining moments of public glory and satisfaction, even adulation.

It’s no fun getting your face punched in and your guts tenderized in the public view, but to then keep fighting back in a losing cause or having anything left to storm back for ultimate victory, that my friends, takes a special fighter’s heart that was on display last night.

Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito have been two of the highest ranked fighters of their generation with Manny ascending to the top of the fistic heap in these last few years to sweep all the prestigious Fighter of the Decade awards in the first decade of the newly minted 3rd Millennium.

There was a reason that Manny batted clean up for last Sunday’s 60 Minutes that opened with President Obama’s Asian tour and G-20 summit. When the smoke clears, the history will be that Manny Pacquiao will be one of the few seminal world names that kicked off this new decade and millennium.

The fight may have seemed an easy night’s work to the unstudied eye for Senator Manny, but it ain’t easy taking those famed Tijuana Tornado left hooks to the liver, “El Gancho,” anymore than it is eating the famed uppercuts that are Margarito trademark. Those shots brought down highly acclaimed contenders such as Sergio Martinez, Kermit Cintron, and Miguel Cotto and had Oscar de la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr avoiding him like the plague.

Mr. Manny controlled the ring center with brilliantly dazzling footwork, negating most of Margarito’s offense before it could be triggered.

Credit to Margarito for starting strong with a nice, long, sharp jab that controlled much of the distance between the two early on as Manny probed around the perimeter, getting his timing and openings set to gradually ease into the full measure of the formidable fighter that Margarito is. Some forget or dismiss that Margarito was a Ring ranked fighter for near a decade before being stripped after his wrap fiasco and suspension. He’d earned the WBC #1 contender status by fight night along with the more impartial formulaic Boxrec rankings that had him #2. He made his comeback with renewed vigor, conditioning, and learned some new tricks from his new trainer, so it’s important to understand Antonio Margarito in context.

Margarito has never been more experienced in ring craft, never been in better condition, never been as physically strong as he was last night in Cowboy Stadium, yet Pacquiao slowly chopped him up and then minced him for good measure, one of the most brilliant pieces of ring generalship and talent I’ve ever seen in one fighter.

Cynics may say that Margarito was chosen exactly because his style could be exploited, but folks, I’m here to tell you that any style, any fighter can be exploited by the right talent melding with the right fight plan and style on the night, but it takes a fearless master to put it all together to tame a monster like Margarito who looked like a giant next to the little Filipino.

Sure, I agree that the 150lb catchweight was a bit of a joke, and it’s a mystery only deciphered by the shrouded “public” regulations of the ABC orgs that create these title matches where one of the fighters, Pacquiao, technically failed to make the minimum weight limit of the junior middleweight division which would be one ounce over 147lbs up to 154lbs, not the 144+ figure Manny weighed in at.

The actual fight night weights are no joke however, giving us a rough comparison of the actual size differences in the ring after the fighters have undergone some 36 hours of rehydration and the replenishing and topping off nutritional reserves.

Manny was weighed in at 148lbs and Margarito at 165lbs, or what used to be a standard welter vs middleweight match up of the old days when weight division discrepancies were no big deal.

Boxing needs to be more careful with the way it promotes these types of bouts these days since had Margarito’s strength and power overcome the diminutive Pacquiao with injurious results, the lurking enemies wishing to ban boxing would scurry out in force and the general public would be outraged.

Thankfully, what we saw is what many already knew, Manny Pacquiao is simply a class above any fighter of this generation no matter how much size and strength he has given away in the ring, no matter how many distractions he has outside the ring. He only seems to have grown more nuanced and gotten better and better with every fight, begging the question of whether a limit can ever be reached?

It’s shocking that he can be a sitting Senator, a music and movie star, a husband, a father, an icon for the ages, and still be improving as the best fighter of the decade.

Sweet Victory

Sweet Victory

Some are now mentioning Pacquiao as the best ever, and to be fair, he earned the #2 spot in a well publicized world wide public poll held last year, just behind the fabled Sugar Ray Robinson, but ahead of Muhammad Ali.

His admittedly biased promoter, Bob Arum has been proclaiming Manny as the best ever,  and with the gravitas he carries as promoter of some 25 Ali bouts, his view is starting to gather some public steam.

I don’t get into many of those lineal, top down descriptors that limit understanding of all the great fighters that have come down the pike in every generation, but it’s out there now folks, a new “beauty contest,” so there it is for any to chew on as they see fit.

Mainly a big thanks to Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito for leaving everything they have in the ring, and to their highly developed training teams that provided some well publicized handwrap controversies and drug accusations in the final countdown before the first bell sounded to kick off the fight.

It’s all settled now. Classic Boxing 101 in Spades!

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