Boxing Historian Mike Silver - On Pacquiao, Mayweather Jr, Cotto, Clottey, Mosley, Margarito, His Book and Much More! By David Tyler, DoghouseBoxing (Feb 16, 2010)
Let's once again welcome the author of "The Arc of Boxing" into the doghouse . I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did talking discussing our sport with it's foremost historian.
David Tyler - Mike, in our last interview we focused on your terrific book "The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science”, Have sales improved since the doghouse boxing interview?
Mike Silver - David they have been going very well thanks to you and the staff at doghouse boxing. I've had several orders and I am pleased with the overall response and enthusiasm for the book. The only drawback has been that several boxing fans have inquired about ordering the book but the price ($ 44 dollars) turns them off. Of course I believe the book is well worth it considering what the reader will get in return. Without trying to sound biased I sincerely believe the type of information contained in my book is available nowhere else. But I understand if some fans just can't make themselves pay $44 for a book.
DT - I know of at least 10 people in the business who have read "The Arc of Boxing" and become fanatics about learning more about the glory days of boxing. Have you ever had someone say that the book was not worth the price? (*See Link provided Below to order a personally autograph copy of "The Arc of Boxing".)
MS No, and that's the point I'm making when I say "The Arc of Boxing" is worth every penny if you are a serious boxing fan.”
DT - Mike, you made the statement that once a person has read "The Arc of Boxing" they will never look at a fight the same way again. Last Saturday night I was watching boxing on one of the cable networks and here was a championship fight featuring Tony DeMarco and Edwin Valero. I had never seen Valero before but as I watched him I could not help but think of "The Arc of Boxing" and the many references to the lack of pure boxing skills by contemporary fighters. Valero just stood flat footed, hands held lower than his chest and directly in front of his opponent. I immediately used the "Arc of Boxing" as a reference tool and sure enough, on page 71 you mention the lack of experience by Valero who has knocked out every opponent with 19 victories coming in the first round. This with at total of 26 fights under his belt. What I can't understand is how we got to the point that a club fighter with no boxing skills is considered one of the best fighters on the market today?
MT I’ve only seen Valero fight once. I was impressed by his obvious natural power, but 19 one round KOs indicate he is either the greatest puncher that ever lived or has made a career of fighting mostly glass chinned tomato cans. I’ll go with the latter. Right now he’s a hard punching tough club fighter with average boxing ability and that's all you need to be a champion today. Years ago, with the limited experience he’s acquired up to now, Valero would still be fighting eight round preliminaries. You now understand why I wrote "The Arc of Boxing"; to help educate the fans about the quality of the fighters in the glory days and let them make the comparisons against today's current crop of champions.
DT - Mike, I know that you are familiar with Antonio "hands of plaster" Margarito. He was suspended last year for having a plaster of paris cast under his hand wrappings, and his suspension was one year by the State of California Athletic Commission. An organization called the American Association of Boxing Commissions ruled that since "hands of plaster" has served his one year suspension, he can petition any state for a boxing license. Of course Margarito's promoter is Bob Arum who wants him to fight on the Pacman undercard in Texas and become the next in a line of slugs for Pacman to knockout. Your thoughts about the suspension?
MS David, boxing is a blood sport. It's dangerous enough when fighters go in the ring with regulation boxing gloves and tape. To make that situation more dangerous is not only an offense to the sport but it is a criminal offense. In my opinion a lifetime suspension is warranted for the trainer who knowingly tampered with the hand wrappings and for the fighter who knowingly allowed it. You have to set an example and make the penalty severe enough to deter this from happening again. People in the boxing world have to know that if you dare make the sport more dangerous than it already is, a lifetime suspension and criminal charges will be the punishment. Think about this, if Margarito had permanently injured the eyes of Cotto then criminal charges would have been filed against him. But in my opinion Cotto was damaged as he was not the same fighter after that fight. I honestly don't know why criminal charges were not pursued except for the fact that the cast was discovered prior to the fight. There should have been a major investigation into how long Margarito has been employing this tactic. One year is merely a slap on the wrist.
DT - Mike we have two upcoming pay per view events--Pac vs. Clottey and Mayweather vs. Mosley. Let's start with the Mayweather fight.
MS - I don't think that Floyd accepts a fight unless he is confident he can win. That’s been his pattern, so that tells you something. He picked on Marquez who was a blown up lightweight and now he is taking on a 38 year old fighter who hasn't fought in over a year.
If this was the Shane Mosley of 10 years ago, I have no doubt that Floyd would be having second thoughts about taking the fight. In my opinion Shane is a better technical boxer than Floyd but the age factor will play big in this fight. Even with young legs, Shane always had trouble with boxers who could jab and move like De La Hoya and Vernon Forrest.
Everything in this fight is working in favor of Floyd and that's probably why Floyd took this fight. We have to consider that Shane is an old pro with a few tricks up his sleeve. I have no doubt he will catch Floyd with the occasional counterpunch. If Shane is to have any chance of making this fight close he must keep that jab in Floyd's face and pressure him. That will be no easy task with those 38 year old legs. Honestly, I just don't think that Shane can do the things he has to do to win because Floyd will just be too fast. In other words, it will be the speed of Floyd versus the ring savvy and boxing skills of Shane.
The fourth entity in the ring will be the deciding factor and that is “father time” who will finally catch up with Shane in this fight. He had a nice run in beating up the M&M boys, Mayorga and Margarito, but those two club fighters came right into him. He didn't have to expend much energy and he used his superior boxing skills and experience to brutalize them with damaging counterpunches. He did not have to go after them because they were right there in front of him. That certainly will not be the case with Mayweather who will run around the ring darting in and out with quick jabs and hooks which will impress the judges. To make a comparison, when Bernard Hopkins took on Kelly Pavlik, he gave the younger fighter a boxing lesson. Bernard's 42 year old legs were not stressed because the young and inexperienced Pavlik came into him and never varied his attack. He was all too predictable. All Bernard had to do was use his experience to out box him. He never had to go looking for Pavlik because he was right there in front of him. However, when Bernard fought the Welshman, Joe Calzaghe, a fighter in his prime, Calzaghe used his legs and superior hand speed to beat Bernard to the punch and quickly move out of range before Bernard could react. Bernard really showed his age in that fight. It's a matter of styles, and these factors come into play. It will be the same with Floyd when he fights Shane. The key to Floyd’s success will be his use of speed. But still, until he fights Manny Pacquiao the fans will not be satisfied no matter what the result of his bout with Mosley.
David, I would like to add another bit of information from "The Arc of Boxing". In all the research I did comparing the fighters from the glory days to present day fighters I could not find one instance of a 38 year old welterweight ranked high enough to take on the reigning world champion. It just didn't happen, even a few decades ago, because there were too many qualified seasoned fighters in the talent pool of contenders. Today the quality in the talent pool of welterweight contenders is so thin that a 38 year old fighter can still be competitive with a champion who is considered to be one of the two best pound for pound fighters in the world. That tells you a lot about where the sport is today.
DT - Let's discuss the Pacquiao/ Clottey fight.
MS - David, before we discuss that fight I would like to say that these two fights just shouldn't be happening now. Mayweather should be fighting Pacquiao. Before these guys ended up blaming each other for the cancellation of the fight, they should have been hugging each other over their good fortune. It's really a mystery why one of the most lucrative fights in the history of the sport never got made. It's really absurd they way this thing was handled.
DT - Mike, I am sure that all boxing fans are disappointed that the Pacquiao/ Mayweather fight did not happen. I am very disappointed with Manny for not taking the blood test and calling Mayweather's bluff. At the same time I am mad at Mayweather for demanding a blood test in the first place. Maybe all Floyd wanted to do was prove a point and never really intended to fight Pac. Only time will tell the story of this continuing saga.
MS - David, this would have never happened in the old days because the managers would have made it happen. It’s just too big a fight. The fighters would have no say.
DT - Let's discuss the Pacquiao/ Clottey fight. Does Clottey have any chance against Pac?
MS - No. If Clottey were to win it would be one of the biggest upsets in recent years. Ask yourself, what has Clottey got that would be a threat to Pacquiao? He has some power, can take a punch, and he is in good condition. That's really all he has going for him. He throws his punches one at a time and never uses combinations. He is slow of foot, tends to fight in short spurts, and is just not busy enough with his punches. And you had better be busy with punches against Manny or he will eat you alive!
In a nutshell, Clottey is a slow moving stalker type of fighter with very limited boxing skills. His style is made for Manny. If Manny is even one third the great fighter that all his fans hark about, he will have no problem with Clottey. Manny will move in and out in that awkward southpaw style throwing quick punches that Clottey will not be able to stop. All he has to do is fight the same way he fought De La Hoya. Clottey may hit harder but he is just not aggressive enough. Manny wins a unanimous decision.
DT - Mike, how would Pacquiao do in a fight with Mosley?
MS Ten years ago Mosley would win. Too much boxer for Manny and speed to match. Today Pacman wins because Mosley at 38 years old cannot do what he wants to do against an opponent with Manny’s style and youthful exuberance.
DT - Mike, how is it a fighter like Clottey can look good in a fight with Cotto, yet we know he doesn't have any skills that would bring problems to Pacquiao?
MS Well Pacquiao is not Cotto. Different styles, different fighters. Clottey is an ordinary fighter who had a rough time with a shot fighter (Cotto). Ordinary fighters don’t beat good fighters. I do wish Cotto would retire. He’s taking too much punishment and he’s going to have trouble from here on with ordinary fighters.
David, there is another dimension concerning today's champions that I’d like to point out. They are inconsistent. These are just my opinions but I have seen so many fights where a fighter looks great in a few fights then looks very bad because he hasn't fully developed through his flaws and acquired the seasoning and skills necessary to handle a variety of different styles. Another fighter comes along who brings a very different style that he hasn't come across so he looks bad and loses his title. That’s the reason for the merry go round of fighters winning and then losing and then winning one alphabet title after another. I’m not putting Manny or Floyd in that category, but the majority of champs today lack consistency.
DT - Would you then say that Pac ran into trouble when he fought Erik Morales in his first fight where Morales kept away from the brawling and gave Pac a boxing lesson?
MS You’re exactly right. You need those all around boxing skillsmove with him, use your legs, make him miss and counter, mix up your punchesup and down, constantly keeping the jab in his face, side to side movement. That's the way to beat Pacquiao. David, who is around that has those skills today?
DT - Floyd Mayweather Jr.
MS - He could be coached to beat Pacquiao. He has the reflexes, the intelligence, the training and conditioning. He’s been a fighter all his life, raised in the environment in a family of fighters. He has the right style and the speed to beat Pacquiao and he could do it.
DT - Why is there such a lack of skills in current fighters?
MS It starts with the trainers. The majority of trainers today are vastly inferior to the old school teachers of years ago who understood the nuances of this sport. They are so limited in what they can impart to their fighters, and it shows in the fighter’s performance. Look, I wrote a whole book answering that question. Poor training combined with a lack of competitive fights won’t develop outstanding skills. Just one example; No trainer today teaches a fighter how to feint properly. It is one of the lost arts. That is why you never see a fighter feint today. But check out some old films of the top fighters of the 1950s and you will see it. Feinting is a sly move, like a move in chess, but boxing today is checkersnot chess.
Another problem is that in order to attract a large audience for televised boxing the matches have to appeal to the lowest common denominator. The basic attraction in boxing is a fight and if two brawlers are wailing away at each other, then the average person who likes contact sports will be drawn to that type action without an understanding that there are different levels to what they are watching. Unless you have some knowledge and understanding of the art and science of boxing you can only appreciate what you are watching at a primitive level. A good example is that many people loved the Arturo Gatti fights with Mickey Ward. I thought that those fights--especially the first and third--were so utterly devoid of any type of boxing skills that entering the third or fourth round, I no longer wanted to watch the fight. I admired their toughness and guts but it looked to me like two crazed masochists doing their best to entertain an audience of sadists. I love a good Pier 6 brawl as much as anybody but you have to show me some boxing skills. David, don't be deceived by the Pay Per View numbers and assume that these are boxing fans. These are fans paying for a mega event so they can see a knockout. These fans don't understand how a fight is scored but everybody understands a knockout.
DT I wonder who would be on Mike Silver's top ten list of all time fighters?
MS The first six or seven choices are easy. After that it’s like arguing how many angels are on the head of a pin. There are at least 25 or 30 super great fighters who can be interchanged with each other. I mean we can put Abe Attell in the top ten, but maybe Willie Pep or Jem Driscoll belongs in his spot. Should Mickey Walker take Ezzard Charles’s place at number ten spot? And what about Gene Tunney? Do you see what I mean? I would have an easier time naming my top 100, or at least top 50 without regard to exact placementexcept for the first five or six. They are sacrosanct in my opinion. They are almost transcendental-- one of a kind geniuses who set the all time standard. Here they are:
1. Sugar Ray Robinson
2. Joe Gans
3. Harry Greb
4. Benny Leonard
5. Jack Johnson
6. Sam Langford
7. Joe Louis
8. Joe Walcott (welterweight)
9. Jack Dempsey
10. Henry Armstrong
The last time we had any fighters that could be considered great or at least near great was in the 1980's with fighters like Ray Leonard, Hagler, Hearns and Duran. Certainly fighters like Larry Holmes, Marlon Starling and Julio Caesar Chavez could have held their own in any era. But In the last twenty or so years we have not had any great fighters. The times don’t demand it and the environment is not structured to nurture or develop it. I tend to lean toward the old timers because they had to prove themselves over and over with brutal schedules that today's fighters could not match if you dropped them into the glory days of the 1910s to the 1950s. I have such respect for those guys. My top ten may not be the same as yours and I won’t argue too strenuously if you want to place a Duran or Ali among them, although I won’t agree with you. But I will argue with you if you are going to tell me that Roy Jones Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather Jr., or Manny Pacquiao belong in the all time pound for pound top tenor even the top 50 all time greats from 1892 to the present.
I think your readers, if they’ve continued thus far and have not gone apoplectic, are growing tired. So I’ll just say If you want to know in detail the reasons I favor the old timers you’ll have to pick up a copy of my book“The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science”.
DT - Mike, thank you for your time and I wish you well. I will continue to push "The Arc of Boxing" as the best book I have ever read!
Readers, agree or disagree with Mike Silver, please let me know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please stay with doghouse boxing as more interviews will be coming your way with the focus on the two upcoming PPV events on HBO.
To order a personally autograph copy of "The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science”By Mike Silver, e-mail Mike now at: MSilver33@gmail.com.
***David Tyler replies to all his e-mails and loves to hear from the readers. Comments, Questions, Suggestions, E-mail David now at:email@example.com