The man known as ‘Simply The Best’ in his pioneering day gives us his great insight.
Chris Eubank, how can Saul Alvarez defeat Floyd Mayweather Jr?
Not by fighting like a stereotypical Irishman or South American, but surveying the terrain and fighting strategically. With a weight advantage on the night he will have to make every punch count, especially body punches. I would opt for a left uppercut to the body because Mayweather counters the left hook to the body with a right uppercut as you maneuver laterally, and the other side is completely covered. To the head, with Floyd’s open right glove in a position to motion forward to catch jabs or uppercuts or motion backward to block left hooks, throw left hooks off the jabs or uppercuts.
This Alvarez cannot think: ‘He’s 35, I’m 25, I’ll beat him on youth,’ like Michael Watson did against Mike McCallum, just standing in front of him. Get out of range and gather your thoughts, think what is and what’s not working – what particular punches and combinations. I think he can win if he makes rounds close, in that he’s young and very good-looking and a potential icon in the market of Mexican fans in America; so although it shouldn’t matter, sometimes business creeps into the way a fight is scored and officiated.
Alvarez is also the champion, remember, and to win championships you need to actually take the title from the champion, which takes Mayweather out of his comfort zone.
Can I ask the same question regarding Tyson Fury over David Haye and George Groves over Carl Froch?
They would need to produce what has not been seen from them in past fights to defeat the established Haye and Froch.
Which might be?
That’s to be seen. Froch has lost a few fights, Haye has lost a few fights. So there are blueprints on how to beat them. With Froch it might be time straighter shots, or stay out of range. With Haye it might be time straighter shots, or stay in the range.
What are your views on Adrien Broner?
If his feet were as flash as his hands, he’d be the best in the business.
When will your son step-up in class?
He’s been ready for a long time to step in with James DeGale and beat him, which I know he would. We’re keeping him on a leash for now, and when he is let free at last it’ll be an even more explosive occurrence!
If you yourself made a comeback today, how would you fare?
I know how to beat all the fighters I see out there, but physically I am not able to, only mentally. In my prime, I physically – with the right approach and know-how – would have been able to defeat every fighter from Mayweather to Hopkins. The reason Ward isn’t as good as James Toney and Roy Jones were is because they fought more frequently to keep their skills honed and were less concerned with strength and conditioning as they are today. Today they fight once a year and limit their sharpness, and they don’t focus on the art as much. The game has evolved. This is why my son will clean up if he’s kept busy enough.
Who do you feel would have had the better of you in your time if you fought them?
There were only ever one or two fighters, if that, in the whole world who could beat me at my weight at any time from 1990 to 1995, and during that whole period my weight category was the steepest in talent and ability in boxing. Herol Graham and Michael Nunn in 1990. Michael Watson in our second fight, September ’91. I don’t think anyone could’ve beaten me for a year and a half after Watson II until James Toney came along at the weight, because I was now boxing instead of fighting. Then Roy Jones came along, spoke of as the best fighter, pound-for-pound, ever seen. Then Steve Collins in our second fight had a resolve the likes of which we’ve never seen before and managed to unnerve me.
Who gave you your toughest fight ever? Calzaghe? Benn? Thompson? Collins?
By far, Michael Watson in our second fight. For 11 rounds straight, he had the pace of a lightweight and the strength of a heavyweight, which means he was as close to unbeatable as we’ve seen in boxing.
How did the infamous outcome of that fight affect you in terms of your fights after that and your ring style?
It helped me because I boxed more. In my early to mid twenties, I was young and brash and would lead with anything but a jab or body shot and try different combinations. It makes life much easier for yourself in the ring when you mature with time or tragedy. I found myself leading with nothing but jabs and body shots most of the time and using mostly textbook combinations.
The idea was no longer to throw the coolest shots and get the man out, but grind the man down in a controlled manner with the end of the 12th round being the target, and getting six rounds in the bag being the aim. If the opportunity wouldn’t present itself to take the man out with one shot, I didn’t go out of my way any more.
This is the kind of thing, the kind of knowledge I am trying to pass on to my son Christopher. He wants to fight and slug all the time, and I say, ‘Why?’ Make life easier for yourself – box and move, and punch correctly. Look at Amir Khan, or even better, Herol Graham. I never saw Herol Graham lose a minute of boxing when he boxed. But when Herol was fighting instead of boxing, he was losing rounds or getting taken out.
What are your thoughts on the PPV activity in boxing today generating so much more money than before?
I fought PPV main events against Graciano Rocchigiani in Germany and Joe Calzaghe in England, and I got about a million dollars in front of about a million buyers. The vast sums of cash per fight that Mayweather makes and Oscar de la Hoya made come mostly from the Vegas casinos putting up the cash, knowing the supporters will become intoxicated and throw all their money on the roulette and poker tables, which is good business.
When my name was selling 20,000 tickets every two months for five years to supporters all over the country, Europe and the Commonwealth, I was only picking up ticket sells and small free TV sums put up that would be split between me and my associates.
It’s about earning your money or you can fall unless you’re supremely gifted, though if you can find a niche market like the hip-hop industry or a particular soccer club supporters, all power to you. Really, all I did was focus on my training and fighting, I didn’t have time to focus on promoting, which is why I employed Barry Hearn. If I was around today, of course I’d make the most money. I made the most in my day and I would today – I was born with that charisma, what can I say?