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It’s been six years since rapper R.A. the Rugged Man and undefeated boxing champion Floyd Mayweather got into an argument on an infamous Shade 45 radio broadcast that went viral and has since become a memorable media moment in both of their careers. For 20 minutes, R.A. was able to directly ask Mayweather himself about the allegations of ducking quality competition and Mayweather responded by putting in his own words what he wants from his legacy.
At that juncture, it seemed like Mayweather meeting Pacquiao in the ring was a lost cause. But this Saturday, the impossible happens. We spoke to R.A., a boxing expert in his own right, about why he thinks the fight took so long to happen as well as his predictions for who will emerge victorious.
Chaz Kangas is a writer living in New York. Follow him @Chazraps.
This weekend, Mayweather finally steps in the ring with Pacquiao. Being that you were one of the first to suggest directly to him that he was avoiding fighting Pacquiao, do you feel you are somewhat of a catalyst for the fight actually happening?
Nah, no. This is a lot of years later. Floyd and his team are a very, very smart matchmaker. They’ll never take a fight he can lose. If Floyd’s fighting a person, it’s going to be someone he can beat. Not like Sugar Ray Robinson or Muhammad Ali or other guys who he names who fought guys way bigger, way stronger, way more favored to win and tested themselves. Floyd will always be favored and never take a fight he won’t win.
Do you recall your first time seeing Pacquiao or Mayweather fight?
Yeah, Mayweather I first saw when HBO was promoting him. I’m not sure if I caught him in the amateurs. HBO was pumping him pretty hard in the early beginning of his career. He was the young kid who was up-and-coming who looked good.
Pacquiao, you know, I always thought he was good and never knew he was special. I saw him have a problem with Augie Sanchez, and I never knew he was special until he moved up in weight. In my opinion, the best performance of his career was when he fought Marco Antonio Barrera and he looked like a super hero. I was like “Holy Shit!” He was a 3 1/2-to-1 underdog, Barrera was one of the pound-for-pound top guys, and this little guy moved up a weight class and just his speed was like nothing you’d ever seen at the time.
The first time Floyd looked like a superhero to me was when he fought Diego Corrales. Corrales was an undefeated guy and this was probably, in my opinion, one of the fights Floyd took that was a pick ’em fight. One guy could knock your head off and the other guy was a super defense fighter. That was the first time I thought, “Wow, this guy’s special.”
When do you think would have been the optimal time for Mayweather and Pacquiao to meet?
Oh, everybody knows. 2009-2010, roughly around that time. Six years ago. Pacquiao still had the killer instinct and was dominating people. Obliterating, knocking people out cold. He was untouchable for a couple years there. Even later when he was battering guys like big monster Mexican dudes like Antonio Margarito, that was the chance he had to beat a Floyd Mayweather. That’s when it was a 50/50 fight. You had a defense wizard like Floyd and then you had [Pacquiao’s] awkward coming from every angle. He didn’t try to box so much. It was a natural thing he went and did. You couldn’t predict what movement he was about to make. And Floyd had problems with guys like Chop Chop Corley and Zab Judah, these guys with awkward angles.
Pac was light years ahead of Judah and Corley, so that was the chance Pac had at that time. Now, you know, Pac got knocked out unconscious. Like a devastating, brutal knock-out. He’s trying not to be so clumsy and reckless and he’s over-thinking it. I don’t think that’s the way to beat Floyd, not being the natural athletic having ability machine.
Neither guy knocks anybody out anymore, you know? Neither guy. I think this is more of a money-making celebrity fight. It’s like when Jay Z and Kanye did Watch the Throne. “Get the two biggest names!” But you don’t get a good album, you get a mediocre album. I think this fight will be interesting, it will be cool, but it won’t be a “super fight.” I think there’s going to be a lot of better fights in the next couple of years.
Do you think Mayweather or Pacquiao have it in them to have a “super fight” with anybody at this point?
I think Pacquiao had tons of them already. [He’s] been in war after war after war. Mayweather, on the other hand, is a defensive wizard. He doesn’t like to take risks. Where as Sugar Ray Leonard, he was a defensive wizard, but he wanted to put on a show for the fans and knock you out. He wanted to look spectacular, whereas Mayweather wants to make sure he’s safe and leaves with that zero on his record.
You bring up the zero, which is Mayweather’s loss column. How much do you think being undefeated means in the grand scheme of other boxing legacies?
Well, to the educated boxing historian, being undefeated doesn’t mean as much as fighting some of the greatest competition on the planet. Take a guy like Sugar Ray Robinson who, in his first 102 fights was 101-1. He had a hundred wins and fought all the greatest in his era. His only loss was one loss when he moved up a weight class to fight Jake LaMotta, who was a great middle weight. A guy like Pacquiao or Mayweather would never have a chance against a guy like Jake LaMotta. He was too big, too strong, and [would have] knocked them both around the ring. That was Robinson’s only loss, and he lost by decision and then he came back and whooped LaMotta’s ass how many times? At the end of his career he had 173 wins with 108 knockouts. I think Mayweather has 26 knockouts.
So when these guys say “I’m the greatest ever,” you can trick the uneducated fans, but historians don’t buy that. When you say, “I’m better than Muhammad Ali,” no one’s buying that either except for people that don’t know history. There is no Sonny Liston on Floyd Mayweather’s record. There’s not one fighter that’s even close to him that he ever fought. There’s no George Foreman on his record. There’s no Joe Frazier on his record. These ring wars where Ali went in and fought the scariest, hardest dudes in the toughest era of boxing, and fought everybody, that’s why these guys are great. When fighters go against adversity and the odds to prove their greatness, that’s what makes great fighters. Not an undefeated record.
when these guys say “I’m the greatest ever,” you can trick the uneducated fans, but historians don’t buy that.
Here’s the problem: When Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard fought, they were in their fucking 20s. And then when they fought the rematch nine years later, they were both still younger than Pacquiao and Mayweather and they were kind of laughed at. These guys fought each other in their primes. Now, we have a 38-year-old and a 36-year-old and we say, “It’s the fight of the century.” That’s propaganda.
Do you think there’s any validity to the claim that this is boxing’s last big fight?
Of course it’s not true. Mayweather said, “When I retire, no one’s gonna fill my footsteps and fill arenas. It’s over when I retire.” Then he retired and what happened? Pacquiao, that’s what blew Pacquiao wide open and he was a superstar. So, when Pacquiao’s gone and Mayweather’s gone, there’s going to be a lot of superstars after that too. That’s the history of boxing. When Muhammad Ali was gone, they said, “Boxing’s dead, there’s no boxing after Muhammad Ali.” They always said that. After Jack Dempsey, “There will never be another guy!” After Joe Louis, “Ahh, boxing’s gonna die now!” When they went from bare-knuckle to gloves, “Ahh, boxing’s gonna die!” They’ve been saying it. Boxing’s about to be bigger than ever.
What’s your prediction for the fight?
Mayweather by decision. I think he’s always been the smarter fighter than Pacquiao. Pacquiao relied more on speed and pure athleticism and awkwardness and raw killer instinct. I think he lost a little of his speed, a lot of his rawness, and all of his killer instinct. Floyd didn’t lose being a defensive craftsman. Maybe he lost a little bit of his legs, not much, but Floyd’s still pretty good with that defense.
I’m just glad that the world is talking about boxing. Hopefully it continues and they don’t just watch the one fight. Hopefully it will gain some fans to actually watch some guys right in their prime fight each other, not just 38-year-olds.