by Eric ‘Sugar Foot’ Duran
With all the negative media surrounding Floyd Mayweather these days, one would guess he was public enemy #1. With bloggers and writers trying to make a name for themselves by coat riding “Money”, no one seems to remember the great things he has accomplishing in boxing and the promotion of the sport. We can start with the HBO series 24/7. The series 24/7 was created for the ‘passing of the torch’ fight between the number one draw in the sport, Oscar De La Hoya, and the best fighter between the ropes, Floyd Mayweather Jr. HBO had always done a five minute ‘Meet the fighter’ (and his struggles) before main events. We heard about Juan ‘Baby Bull’ Diaz attending college and his law degree in process, over and over again.
HBO knew it was getting a bit stale and decided a half hour ‘infomercial’ of sorts, was the solution. Enter the dysfunctional family of Mayweather and it was an instant success. For the De La Hoya fight, the accented angle was that Floyd’s own father, Floyd Sr., would be in De La Hoya’s corner, training a fighter to beat his own son, whom he basically built as a fighter from birth. Fans swallowed it whole and asked for seconds. Now, due to that early success, it’s pretty standard on HBO as well as Showtime, where they title their version ‘All Access’, ahead of well received championship bouts and of course the pay-per-view cards.
As he stated in an interview about the 24/7 series ahead of the Cotto fight; “I think they show what they want to show. I sit down with 24/7, the lady Bentley of HBO. I sit down with her. I give her an interview for two hours. She tells me that she basically don’t like the interview that I gave her, for two hours. I ask her ‘what’s the matter with the interview?’ She says ‘that’s not what we want. We need animated Floyd. We need wild, over the top, bad language, wild.’ That’s what she wants. That’s what they want. They feel like, that is entertainment. So, I’ll give them what they want,” Mayweather said.
After watching ‘All Access Mayweather-2’, I started wondering… What if the cameras followed Ali and Frazier during the lead up to ‘The Fight of The Century’? Or ‘The War’ between Hearns and Hagler? Here are my thoughts on how some of those great fights might have played out on a reality show lead in.
“The Fight of The Century”
Can you imagine the camera crew walking the hardened streets of Philadelphia in the 70’s? Trying to film in the dingy, poorly lit gymnasium on North Broad Street. The murderous combinations unleashed on the heavy bag because ‘Smokin’ Joe has to the lay off the Philly Cheese Steaks. Can you see Frazier’s nostrils flaring as he views episode one? Stuttering with anger as he listens to Ali poke fun and to be honest, degrade him? Might make some of Floyd’s antics seem mild.
Just ponder all the insults that were missed, the fluidity of Ali that was never shared with the world. Which celebrities would have walked into the gym as Angelo Dundee wrapped Ali’s hands? Imagine Ali mocking Frazier’s heavy bag routine. Would Ali show up to Frazier’a gym in the middle of camp to hype the fight?
Of course Ali’s sidekick, Howard Cosell, would have narrated this classic display of machismo and pure hatred and I believe would do a fine job just as Liev Schreiber does today, maybe even better.
As a side note, can you imagine the 24/7 cameras following Ali to Liston’s home in Denver, Colorado at 3am, waking the reigning champ by shouting “Come on out of there. I’m gonna whip you now.”? How would it be perceived in today’s day and age of social media?
“The Brawl in Montreal”
Sugar Ray Leonard was being groomed by one of the greats, Angelo Dundee. Dundee was schooling his prized pupil on points that a slick, fast of foot and hand, boxer could beat a stalking, power-punching brawler. Dundee is drilling reporters on media day about Ali vs Frazier and Foreman.
Down in Panama, Spanish music is blaring throughout the Neco de La Guardia Gym. Roberto “Manos De Piedra” Duran is too busy sparring and cursing in Spanish to even notice the cameras. Duran is an animal in the gym, sending sparring partners home left and right. You can tell the cameras are irritating him, he’s on edge throughout camp. His cold, dead stare into the camera after putting another sparring victim on the deck would be priceless. Would he be portrayed as the ‘Clubber Lang’ to Sugar Ray’s ‘Rocky’?
The highly articulate Leonard would be using this platform to build upon his growing fame. He would set up charity events for the youth. He speaks about keeping a clean image outside of the ring. He’s ready to return to the venue where he won his gold medal. He’s clean as a whistle and I’m sure filming another 7-Up commercial with his son would be in order.
Edward James Olmos would do the honor of translating for Duran and narrating this one.
Detroit, Michigan, March of 1985. The weather is Michigan spring, it’s nice outside. Inside the iconic Kronk gym, though, the temperature is rising. Emmanuel Steward is hurling instructions at Thomas Hearns. Hearns’ signature ‘Jheri curl’ is splattering sweat everywhere as he loads up with his bazooka right hand.
Then we cut scene to the cold, freezing temperatures of Brockton, Massachusetts. Goody and Pat Petronelli have guided the ‘Marvelous One’ from the beginning of his career. They welcomed him to their fold when the teenager relocated from Newark, NJ. Hagler is reserved. Doesn’t say much, basic answers. He’s focused, something is brewing inside his head. Goody and Pat emphasizing their old school boxing techniques upon Hagler.
Emmanuel Steward is watching the ‘Motor City Cobra’ shadow box. He is confident his pupil will the expose the weaknesses they have spotted on film. He continues on about how Hagler will have issues with Hearn’s height and reach and of course the right hand. Hearns occasionally looks over to the camera and winks, playfully, confidently.
Don LaFontaine would handle the privileges of narrating this classic.
At an undisclosed gym in Vegas, 2Pac is blaring on the speakers. 2pac is also holding court as his friend, ‘Iron’ Mike, mesmerizes the camera crew on the slip bag. His peak a boo style in full effect. Tyson is moody, but there’s a different aura surrounding him post prison. The fierceness in his eyes has vanished. It’s been replaced by solitude. He seems lost, surrounding himself with an entourage to cover up the loneliness. Do they play up or down Tyson’s out of ring nightmares?
This was the moment Evander Holyfield has been waiting for since 1990. Through postponements, injuries and the rape conviction, Holyfield has been itching to get at Tyson. Under trainer Ritchie Giachetti, Holyfield is determined to prove to the world and the critics, he’s the best heavyweight alive. They would be working on a game plan of firing the right, when Tyson dipped to the left. They also work extensively on tying Tyson up on the inside.
Who else but Denzel Washington would narrate this epic showdown?
This would also be the birth of the ‘2-Days’ series. Can you imagine the camera crew following Holyfield to the hospital to have his ear sewn back on? Not sure it could get much better than this.
“The Fight of The Millennium”
Up in Big Bear, California, Oscar De La Hoya and trainer Roberto Alcazar are comprising an educated game plan. They’re emphasizing a heavy load of jabs and ring generalship. Fans start to count and make drinking games around how many times Oscar is referred to as ‘The Golden Boy’.
Down in Puerto Rico, Felix Trinidad and Papa Trinidad are hard at work. They have a joyous, family environment feel to their camp. Their nights are spent with family BBQ’s and music. You get a glimpse behind the scenes into the proud Puerto Rican heritage that is boxing.
Back in Big Bear, De La Hoya is bursting with excitement about how the match-up will play out. He’ll tell anyone who will listen that Trinidad is too slow and predictable to beat him. He believes it’s his left hook that will be the deciding factor in the outcome of the fight.
The Trinidads firmly believe Tito’s power will carry him through the fight and to victory. They focus on cutting off the ring and looking for opportunities to get through the defense of De La Hoya to land the shot that puts him away. They strongly believe that at some time during the fight, Trinidad will land his powerful right hand. Papa Trinidad is also prophetic in telling Tito ‘We can’t let it go to the cards.’
Anyone know George Lopez’s number?
As you are complaining about Mayweather-Maidana 2 and the first episode of of ‘All Access’ this past weekend, while waiting with baited breath for part 2, think of how interesting your own story might be on reality TV after going through the series fight after fight. How much, really, is there to know? Ponder the idea of legendary fighters and pioneers of the sport and how they would have come across with cameras following their every move, leading up to the biggest moment of their lives. How much different would your view of them be if they were ‘exposed’ on reality television?
Floyd knows this and he plays up the ‘Money’ persona to keep it interesting. So, whenever you enjoy an episode of ‘All Access’ or ’24/7′ remember to say a little ‘thanks Money’ to the man who really made it happen.