Talkin’ Boxing with Bert Sugar

  • August 12th, 2011
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By Scoop Malinowski

The famed boxing historian takes time out to talk boxing issues such as his doubts and optimism about Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, Klitschko vs. Haye, Hopkins vs. Dawson, and much more…

BoxingInsider:  Do you like the Hopkins-Dawson fight?

Bert Sugar:  “Yes, for the artistry but not for excitement. Does anybody expect this fight to be exciting?”

BoxingInsider:  How about Klitschko-Haye, that was not what we expected, was it?

Bert Sugar:  “Well, if you love boredom it was that. My foot went to sleep in the seventh round, I followed suit in the eighth. That was the worst thing I have ever seen.”

BoxingInsider: Who do you blame it on though?

Bert Sugar:  “Both. Literally both. If Haye was unwilling, where the heck was Klitschko to take advantage of it? He was just content to pump lefts into his face. He is probably the definition of the word boredom. If you look up the word in the dictionary, in any language.”

BoxingInsider:  It seems Klitschko employs a limited arsenal – the jab, hook, straight right, no body shots. He dominates with his limited arsenal.

Bert Sugar:  “It’s the Eastern European style. Keep control and don’t expose yourself. And yet the only times he was made to move backwards he couldn’t do it. The few times he was made to move backwards, he fell into a clinch. His feet got tangled, he went off balance, where in the hell was Haye to do that legitimately? He’s showing us a pinky? Does anybody understand that the little toe is not what pivots you? It’s the big toe.”

BoxingInsider:  That was a phony excuse. He didn’t limp during the fight or during fight week. He didn’t limp on his ring entrance.

Bert Sugar:  “There was a sign of a limp attack [smiles]. But that was standard for what the Klitschkos can do. They really are terrible bores. Now they might control. But the people look at them as dominant – dominant of what?”

BoxingInsider:  Don’t you kind of see it as the great servers in tennis? Pete Sampras dominated Wimbledon for five years in a row because of his great serve. Goran Ivanisevic had a great serve and played quick points. People called that kind of tennis boring. They dominate kind of similarly, do you see it like that?

Bert Sugar:  “To a degree but this is even worse. Because tennis is to score points. Boxing is supposed to hit somebody. Hit the ball in tennis – hit the man in boxing.”

BoxingInsider:  There wasn’t much contact in Klitschko-Haye.

Bert Sugar:  “There wasn’t much contact? You could have counted it on the fingers of a Polish punch press operator in Chicago. Two.”

BoxingInsider: What do you think of the state of boxing now? Are you still loving the sport? Are you going to stick with it?

Bert Sugar:  “Oh yes, I love it because it’s exciting. But not the heavyweight division. And that’s, unfortunately, what America wants to follow. We have since John L. Sullivan. We obsess over big men. And the world where they don’t grow ‘em as big, I guess South America, Asia – they’re very content with their fighters, who are great fighters. And that’s where the excitement is. The same thing that happens in history – when the heavyweight division goes south, we turn our attention to the middle area weight classes. That’s what I look for and there’s excitement.”

BoxingInsider:   You love Manny Pacquiao?

Bert Sugar:  “Oh I think Manny Pacquiao is exciting and comparable to the greats of the past. And so is Floyd, to be honest. Floyd is a precision puncher, Pacquiao is an action puncher. Hopefully it can happen. Don’t know yet. I think we will see the answer in their two fights. Pacquiao, if he looks bad, Floyd will gain perhaps the encouragement and confidence. If Pacquiao looks better in a win over Marquez than Floyd looks over Ortiz, you won’t see it.”

BoxingInsider:  So you’re accepting that Floyd is having major apprehensions and self-doubts about fighting Pacquiao? Fear of the loss?

Bert Sugar:  “Again, fear of the loss. You are correct. Not fear of Pacquiao. Floyd fears nothing and nobody. But he’s fixated on being 41-0 or 42 or 43. Whatever happens, Pacquiao is a secondary thought. And that may not happen and I’ll tell you why. Floyd has ducked, DUCKED – 42 times the deposition and the Pacquiao folks are moving for a dismissal which means Pacquiao win a million dollar lawsuit.”

BoxingInsider:  Or multi-millions.

Bert Sugar:  “Yes. And therefore, that might hinder anything if he goes and wins that. So I’ve gotta wait for two fights. But that’s where the excitement is. It’s the most anticipated fight since Leonard-Hearns 30 years ago. That’s excitement.”

BoxingInsider:  Cus D’Amato said fighters, even great fighters, do have fear sometimes of their opponent. But they must control that fear like a fire, or it controls them.

Bert Sugar:  You could call it the butterflies as well. One of Cus’s fighters Jose Torres, who was a friend, wrote a book “Sting Like  A Bee”, admitted to butterflies. But when the bell rings, that’s all over.”

BoxingInsider: But could that have been a little self-serving though? Maybe it was a lot more than just butterflies. That’s just the pride of the great champion, which won’t let them admit to fear. We saw Michael Spinks against Mike Tyson. Floyd Patterson had a disguise ready because he knew he was going to lose to Sonny Liston.

Bert Sugar:  “Fear can paralyze.”

BoxingInsider:  But fighters will try to cover it up.

Bert Sugar:  “Sure, it’s covered up because what fighter goes in and thinks he’s gonna lose, who is top notch? They don’t, by definition.”

BoxingInsider:  Michael Spinks knew he was going to lose against Tyson, it appeared. Remember he was walking to the ring actually talking to fans telling them, I’m gonna give it my best shot, I’ll do my best.

Bert Sugar:  “Well he was helped along my Leon who was going bananas in the dressing room.

BoxingInsider: I didn’t hear that, what happened there?

Bert Sugar:  “Uh, and the point of fact, Tyson put his hand through the wall when Butch Lewis was demanding, see the gloves off, see the gloves on, and it went on right under Tyson’s nose. So this was not the normal. But most fighters check their apprehensions at the door. They might come to a gleam but they’ve gotta reinvest  it with the optimism that they all have. I mean, yes they are occasionally. Cornelius Boza Edwards soiling his pants on the way in against Alexis Arguello. King Levinsky having to be pushed out of his corner against Joe Louis. But in the main, 98% of those who fight are optimists about their chances, as well they should be. They got that far, they’ll keep going.”

BoxingInsider:  If they finally do make the fight and can talk Floyd into it, do you think it can rejuvenate and revitalize the sport?

Bert Sugar:  “Oh I think so. It’s off the wall interest. It’s exciting. And it would be two of the greatest fighters, not only of today, but the last couple of decades. That’s what boxing needs, like any sport, super heroes. As Tiger Woods was in golf years ago. As Michael Jordan was in basketball.”

BoxingInsider:  Roger Federer. Serena Williams.

Bert Sugar:  “Take your pick, down the line. And these two are super, super athletes hypen boxers. But I don’t know what will happen, whether it will come to pass. Whether it’s more drug testing. I’m surprised Mayweather didn’t ask for a mamogram and  PAP test.”

BoxingInsider:  He just keeps putting up roadblocks to block the fight from happening.

Bert Sugar:  “Well, he wanted it his way, which is what Mayweather does. With Hatton he had his medical records, from the hospital in England. He looks for that edge. And if he doesn’t get it, he doesn’t feel comfortable. I won’t say apprehension, I won’t say fear, but…uncomfortable.”

BoxingInsider: A lot of people you come across outside the boxing realm, do they ask about the fight?

Bert Sugar:  “Everybody. They can’t pronounce Pacquiao’s name. Yes, I know who they mean. And these are just peripheral casual fans who are looking forward to it. And if they are, what is the hardcore fan looking forward to? Not only in America but around the world, particularly because of Pacquiao. I mean, he’s been on the cover of Time magazine in Asia. You don’t think there will be millions from the Philippines, Japan, other countries wanting to see it?

BoxingInsider:  Biggest fight in boxing history.

Bert Sugar:  “Pacquaio is a phenomenon. Meanwhile, give him his due, Mayweather is no less a phenomenon. One of the best defensive fighters I’ve seen. Unfortunately he only throws one punch at a time and Pacquiao throws hundreds of punches. The question I have of Mayweather is against Ortiz. Are we gonna see the Mayweather of old – or the older Mayweather? As a great defensive fighter, remember what happened to Wilfred Benitez when he lost that nano-second? That ability to get out of the way which was brilliant. Ray Leonard said it was the hardest fight he ever had. But once he began to lose it…Mayweather has fought how often in the last three years?

BoxingInsider:  Mosley had him badly hurt.

Bert Sugar:  “Second round. He sat down in mid-air. He fights with all the frequency of Haley’s Comet. So we’re looking forward to it hopefully. I just hope, as a boxing fan, but we’ll see both have a fight coming up. How that works out and then I can start making prognostications. But years ago I said it wasn’t gonna happen – those two – but I foresaw everything that kept it from happening.”



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