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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hatton vs. Pacquiao - Can Mayweather be the Difference?


I want to say a few words about this fight because many people who are somewhat neophyte when it comes to boxing betting place too much of an emphasis on trainers. For this fight against Manny Pacquiao, Ricky Hatton hired Floyd Mayweather Sr. to be his trainer, and brought him over to Coventry to head up the camp. There’s a lot of talk about “transformation” and how this is what is going to somehow elevate Hatton to the point where he can score the upset of the guy considered by most to be the sport’s #1 pound-for-pound competitor.

In this sport, you really need a scorecard to keep up with who is training who, perhaps more than ever before, at least during the time I have been around this business. It is a constantly revolving door in which a "celebrity" trainer as piggy-backed onto an already established fighter, bringing the hope of that magic pill that provides a missing ingredient meant to propel that fighter to victory, often as an underdog.

I have rarely seen this kind of thing work, except for the trainer who gets a nice payday out of the whole thing. I don't want to put down trainers in general, because I think the ones that have worked with a fighter from the beginning, taught them how to box, and really KNOW their fighter deserve all the credit in the world. As far as the "piggy-backers" are concerned, some of them taught someone how to box, some didn't. I know that Floyd Sr. taught Floyd Jr. the finer points.

Look - when a guy has risen to world-class status, he has gotten there by being a certain kind of fighter. In a sense, after a while, he trains himself. What is someone just coming into the picture really going to tell the fighter about his own style that he doesn't already know? And for those trainers who figure they are going to perform miracles by changing a fighter around, like one of these johnny-come-lately coaching "gurus" in football, that often brings negative results. Because when a fighter gets in trouble, he is going to revert back to that which he's been successful with in the past. Either that, or he implements change to the point where he is very conscious about it, and that takes away that which can be gained by instinct.

What I'm saying is that at the very outside there is no real effect, even psychological, by the switch to a piggy-backing trainer (if that's what the fighter needed to motivate him, he wouldn't have gotten there in the first place), and the downside is potentially big, especially when the style the trainer likes to teach is opposite that which the fighter is used to employing. That may be the case with Mayweather, who like to train guys to jab, move and be defensive-minded. That's fine, if you have an exceptional talent who is athletic enough to fight in a number of different ways, but Hatton is here for only one reason - he is aggressive, charges hard and outworks his opponent. Trying to tinker with that kind of thing is going to be a mistake, no matter what the claptrap you hear in the hype leading up to the fight.

Like I said, lots of trainers, including Mayweather Sr., deserve plenty of credit for what they've done with some fighters, and certainly there are certain guys who need a little push to get into the gym. What some trainers are best at, however, are selling themselves. In the wrong situation, whether intentionally or not, they're selling a bill of goods.


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