Money May/Mystic Mac Prediction

The outcome of the fight tonight will be a 12-round decision for Mayweather.  That’s been my thought process from the beginning.  His defensive wizardry and experience will rule the day.  Look no further than the Canelo fight for a clear, recent example of how Mayweather treats younger, bigger, and stronger guys.

Even up till a couple of days ago you could get +300 on your money for a Mayweather decision.  Seems like a ludicrous prop on a book’s part, but the bookmakers make the lines for a reason.  They know.

None the less, Mayweather in twelve.

In a fight, it’s been my observation and very limited experience that 6 factors consistently seem to rule the outcome.  These factors are from most important to least:  1. Skills  2. Experience  3. Ferocity  4. God-Given Power  5. Speed  6. Combinations.  Mac is favored in all 6 of these categories for a fight against Floyd.

In boxing, the factors are in a different order and defense replaces ferocity.  They are:  1. Skills  2. Experience  3. Defensive array(catching, slipping, spacing, etc.)  4. Combinations  5. God-Given Power  6. Speed.

The importance of throwing effective combinations in boxing rises dramatically in a 12 round match.  That second or third punch that slips through to a liver or behind the ear can often be the opponents unseen fight ender.

Floyd easily outclass Mac in all 6 of these areas in the ring, but it’s specifically number 3 of the boxing factors that’s going to give him the decision.  Enjoy the spectacle.

There’s Only One Pound For Pound King, And His Name Is…

GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX!  Let me repeat that for you in case the bolded, underlined CAPS-LOCK wasn’t clear enough.  Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux is the best boxer in the world in any weight class, hands down, bar none, mic dropped.

For those that know boxing and have watched multiple fights of every purported top ten pound4pounder, I dare you to credibly dispute the claim.  For those that don’t know boxing but are intrigued by the claim, Rigondeaux is the ultimo artista in the ring.

He’s got two knocks against him for why he’s not a household name.  First, he’s 5’5 and weighs a buck20.  Unfortunately, casual fight fans just don’t want to watch little dudes weighing less than nothing showcase their defensive artistry for $59.99.  Which leads to the other knock against The Jackal.

He’s boring.  His footwork and spacing are so perfect he never has to engage in battle.

He happens to have perfect timing along with the skill to perfectly place shots so he hits but is rarely hit.  The casual boxing spectator simply doesn’t appreciate his fight style because it doesn’t look like boxing.  It looks more like a boring spar session.

Rigondeaux provides first hand, real time lessons to professional fighters what true skill looks like.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t drive paper-per-view or gate sales.

Most of the time, El Chacal is an undercard fight.  The best boxer in the world consistently warms up the crowd for the headliner.  I know it’s all about the numbers and the money but that just isn’t right.  Can we please get the Lomachenko fight?!!!

Somebody Fight Me, Please IIPhoto courtesy of fightland.vice.com

He’s a soft-spoken Cuban who defected to the US far too late in his career.  The quiet nature is why we don’t hear him promoting himself non-stop like another money-hungry, recently retired, defensive artist we all know.

The late defection is part of why he’s fought virtually nobody.  Guillermo is 36 now.

He was simply stuck in Cuba for far too long.  He’s arguably the greatest amateur of the last two decades, having won back to back Gold medals in 2000 and 2004.  Yet despite his supremacy in two Olympics and his complete domination of bantam and super bantam, he’s still a relative unknown.

He’s fought 17 fights total as pro and ten of those fights have been title defenses with a perfect 17 – 0 record.  And forget that recent no contest.  Still a title defense in my book.

Now the fight world is putting a lot of focus on Vasyl Lomachenko and many pound4pound rankings have Lomachenko ahead of Rigondeaux.  Lomachenko is itching to move up to welter at 135, but there’s still time to get a big money fight in with Rigondeaux at 130.

Rigondeaux needs this fight with Lomachenko.  Guillermo has only fought one name that fight fans will readily recognize and it’s Nonito Donaire.  And that damn fight was 4 years ago.

Rigondeaux effectively ended the career of Nonito.  At the time of their fight. Donaire was the supreme ruler of their weight class.  El Chacal then pummeled Donaire’s face for 12 straight rounds, embarrassing the Pinoy fighter to a 12 round decision while taking absolutely no damage.  It was a pugilistic sight to behold.

El Chacal Smashin Donaire IIIPhoto courtesy of boxingwales.com

Donaire was never the same after that fight.  Never.  That’s how damaging it was to the psyche of Donaire and I strongly believe Rigondeaux can do the same to Lomachenko.  Maybe I’m wrong and Lomachenko’s youth and power will rule the day.  I’m betting Rigondeaux’s experience and artistry prove my stance.

Rigondeaux is the best boxer I’ve ever seen.  He’s probably not the best ever, but he’s the best I’ve ever seen.  That includes Money May, Andre Ward, Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Robinson, and even my new current fave, Errol Spence jr.

If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, go and find some YouTube footage of Guillermo Rigondeaux.  One word…CLINIC.  Every match is a boxing clinic for the spectators and his poor opponents.

Rigondeaux is repped by Jay’-Z’s ROC Nation.  I hope they do him right by getting him the huge purse fights he deserves.  Yes, Rigondeaux is aging but he’s taken such little damage in his days that he could very well box into his early 40’s if needed to get that big payout, and he still may retire with an undefeated record.

Pay your respects to the real pound for pound boxing king, GUILLERMO “THE JACKAL” RIGONDEAUX.

A Game Plan to Beat The City’s Warriors

Sorry that the last 2 posts have been about professional sports, but it was a good weekend of boxing and basketball and I saw some things where I felt I could provide some value-added commentary for sports fans.  The commentary is still potentially actionable in the markets…the sports wagering markets.

The broad assumption here is that the Cavaliers take the Eastern Conference.  Based on game 1 against the Pistons, the Cavs should be able to beat any team in the conference in a 7-game series.  The Pistons are young, fiery, and came out extremely hot but the Cavs kept their cool and simply stuck to a game plan of Lebron getting everyone involved.  The other 2 of the Big 3 stepped up huge, and despite the closeness of the score, it was a pretty easy win for Cleveland.  Their game play against Detroit provided a clear look at the formula it’s going to take to have a chance at Golden State.

I’d like to make one quick note on the Detroit Pistons.  Reggie Jackson pretty much lost them the game.  No joke.  He got fouled on a jump shot with 3 minutes and change to go.  No call by the refs.  Jackson then loses his cool and storms over to the referee’s face and incurs a technical for his immaturity.  In his un-subdued fury, Jackson continued to over-dribble and take horrible shots for the rest of the game like a petulant little child.  Yes, his teammates missed a couple shots when Jackson did try to make a play, but Jackson’s over-dribbling gave the Cavs easy defensive possessions and caused the Piston’s to take bad shots.  If Jackson doesn’t get his head right, it’s gonna be a long series for Detroit.  Reggie is Stan V’s guy.  I’m sure Stan will have the heart to heart that Reggie needs and basketball fans hopefully will see a more composed playmaker for the Pistons.  Maybe even Stan’s brother, Jeff, can shoot Reggie a text telling him to grow up, man up, and bring it.

Now let’s breakdown that game plan.  First, regarding Curry, forget him.  He’s going to make his shots and get his points.  You simply can’t stop players that good.  You can only make it hard for them.  But players that skilled and that mentally tough are going to shine.  Always.  Just make him work.  That’s why you have Dellavedova.  Rotate him for Kyrie but sometimes run him with Kyrie, especially if Klay is on the bench but Steph is on the floor.  Just let Dellavedova annoy, harangue, harass, and piss off Curry.  That’s his value against the Warriors.

The key to winning is to neutralize the other starters.  Step 1, the Cavs have to switch to the small line-up for the rest of the playoffs.  Bring Mozgov off the bench.  Start Kevin Love at center against Bogut.  This will draw Andrew out of the paint.  It will also allow for faster starts to the offense via Love’s outlet passing.  That’s the only way they’re going to maintain the Warriors’ pace.  The key is Love has to consistently hit the 3.  Poor shooting completely negates the effect of starting Love at the 5.  If the Cavaliers try to go to a half-court, slow-down offense this will stymie the small-ball strategy of starting Love and will just be chewed up by the shooting accuracy and passing efficiency of Golden State.

Step 2, bench J.R. Smith for Iman Shumpert for defensive purposes.  I see more value in J.R. Smith providing an offensive spark off the bench than I do in playing him 30 minutes as the starter.  Think Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson of the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons.  Give Shumpert the same mission as Dellavedova, except it’s against Klay Thompson.  Shumpert will need to be a body glove, shadowing Klay’s every move.  Iman will need to body him up, foul him hard even flagrantly a couple times, and just straight up get in his head.  Shumpert is built like a strong safety.  He’s fast enough and certainly strong enough to affect Klay Thompson.  Should coach Lue agree, Shumpert has to be mature enough to understand the mission and engage with maximum effort defensively and not worry about scoring points.

Step 3, Lebron has to match up against Draymond Green to essentially destroy Green’s box score.  This is the toughest step for the Cavs to execute but Lebron is strong enough and fast enough to do it.  It’s not about shutting down Green’s scoring.  That’s not the issue.  It’s about taking away his rebounding opportunities by effectively boxing him out.  It’s about keeping the ball out of his hands so that he can’t be that playmaker for the Warriors.  It’s about keeping him honest defensively so that he can’t provide that weak-side help that he’s so great at giving.  This is where Lebron will have to supplant his ego a bit and allow Irving and Love to lead the Warriors in scoring.  If Lebron dedicates himself to the task of significantly reducing Green’s total affect for the Warriors, then I think Kerr will have a tough time adjusting the game plan accordingly.  However, Lebron is one of the greatest players of all time and I just don’t see him accepting the fact that he needs to focus on diminishing Green’s presence while making plays to get the rest of the Cavaliers involved.  I believe this is the most critical step for the Cavaliers to win it all.

That leaves Tristan Thompson and Harrison Barnes.  That’s a tough cover for both.  Thompson is too strong for Barnes and will effectively grab rebounds against the smaller player, especially offensive boards.  Barnes is too fast for Thompson’s feet and will be able to get to the basket or free himself up for jumpers.  The Cavs will just have to live with that match-up.  If Barnes burns Thompson for some points but Klay Thompson is taken out of the game and Draymond’s total playmaking is scaled down then you live with the tradeoff.

After considering the starting five of each team, the benches need to step up accordingly.  This is where the coaches really earn their keep by effectively subbing based on the ebb and flow of the game.  Making the right reads and adjustments based on shifting chemistry is the bread and butter of the best coaches.  Kerr has a decided advantage over Lue in this department plus Luke Walton’s insight provides another edge.  It’s like playing tennis 2 on 1.

Look, I’m not saying that the Warriors aren’t going to win the championship.  They did just win 73 regular season games.  The odds are clearly in their favor as not a single team has been able to figure out their revolutionary brand of basketball.  It’s just that I think the Cavaliers provided a blueprint specific to their team to potentially beat Golden State in a 7-game series.  Consider the evidence.  We’ll see what happens in June.

Fans of Boxing

Nobody really cares about boxing anymore.  Of course, true fans of the “sweet science” will always appreciate the sport, but most fight fans gravitate towards MMA thanks to the UFC and their brilliant marketing over the last 10 years.  The UFC has consolidated the power base in MMA through M&A and worked out sweetheart distribution deals to keep the brand exposed via Spike, at first, and now the mainstream Fox.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love MMA but pugilistic warriors, especially highly-skilled boxers, are every bit as entertaining as today’s MMA stars.

Via Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Championship (“PBC”) series, boxing has returned to the public networks in a return to the renaissance days of yesteryear when boxing was displayed in full glory to the masses.  Sure, the biggest fights are still controlled by HBO, Showtime, and the greasy fight promoters by way of the pay-per-view model but you can’t blame them.  Promoters are simply maximizing their take-home pay for themselves and their fighters.  That’s how Money May has been the highest paid athlete in the world for a few years running.  You think MMT would be grossing over $100M if NBC aired his fights on public broadcasts?

Which brings me to Errol Spence Jr., the future of boxing.  If you didn’t watch his destruction of Chris Algieri last night, then you missed a glance into the window of what lies in store for fighters from 147 to 154.  Up until his 20th fight last night, Spence has fought virtually nobody as he was tuning up his pro record.  S.O.P. for the fight game. Algieri was his first true test and Spence passed with flying colors.  He did what Amir Khan or Manny Pacquiao couldn’t do.  Hell, even the jack-hammer hitting Ruslan Provodnikov couldn’t do it either.  Spence knocked the very game Algieri out in the 5th round.

At barely 26, I can see Spence dominating for another decade if yesterday’s fight was a sneak peek into his potential supremacy.  He showed discipline by consistently working the body early and often.  He followed his game plan of catching Algieri on his ducking with huge straight lefts.  It was beautiful.

The only question mark for me is Spence’s chin.  Algieri definitely did not test it.  He did hit Spence with a few very good counters, but to absolutely no effect.  Algieri is not a power puncher.  He’s a combo-throwing decision winner.  Regardless, Spence just walked right through any punches he took to his face and countered with an even bigger hit.  I’m real curious to see how Spence does against world-class power punchers.

At this point, I can see a lot of fighters begin to duck Spence very much like Gennady Golovkin has been ducked.  Golovkin is the people’s champ because everybody loves his KO power but nobody wants to face him.  Finally, payouts have risen so high that fighters simply cannot refuse a match with Golovkin.  The money’s just too good.

I would hate to see that happen to Spence for too long, because this guy is truly special.  If you love a knockout artist who uses skilled body punching as his set up to a chin-wrecking finish, then you’ll love Errol Spence Jr.  Keep your eyes on him.  Styles make fights and some fighter out there just may be his kryptonite but I just don’t see it right now.  His future is bright and it would appear the only thing that could derail him is the potential for ego-growth.  The taste of spectacular success can change the emotionally-weak for the worse.

Then again, it hasn’t seemed to do much to harm Floyd Mayweather Jr., so let’s hope the PBC can keep Spence on air for free for as long as possible because we probably don’t have too long before Errol Spence Jr. could be working his own way to the top of the list of pro athlete earners.