I asked Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini about the rust problem, if rust will be a big factor for Keith Thurman to deal with after 22 months away from the ring, and almost right away, I started to crack up.
Because I realize something…back in his heyday, these guys did what fighters are supposed to do…fight all the time.
So, when Mancini started telling me about one time when rust was an issue for him, and he started doing the math in his head as to how long he was away, he soon realized if wasn’t that long at all.
In fact, the time away because he was rehabbing and healing an injury was the span of time that many of these A side guys today go between bouts.
So, please forgive Mancini, a Fox analyst who’ll work on the show which unfolds at Barclays Center tomorrow (Saturday), if his stance on rust isn’t as informed as are his stances on other matters pugilistica…
That said, he does indeed think rust will be a factor for the 30 year old Thurman to contend with, along with foe Josesito Lopez. So, speaking to that, he suggested that it would be wise for the Cali boxer Lopez to come out guns ablazing, and start testing Thurman from second one.
“Fighters gotta fight, writers gotta write,” Mancini told me on Friday afternoon, as we chatted about the more off than on schedules too many fighters have today.
We digressed some, into a comparison of eras. Yes, we agreed, it is good for these guys from a neuro standpoint to be fighting less, and making more per fight. But do they become as good as they could? Nah. And do they grow as attractions like they could? Also nah…
“My dad used to say, at 28 a fighter is a young man, but an old fighter,” he noted…but that was back in the day when fighting every three months, fighting five times a year, was more common. And, he said, after a pause, he talked to a neurologist once who said, basically, getting punched by an A grade puncher was kinda like getting hit in the head by a baseball bat.
Back to the fights…Boom Boom said he’s hoping that Lopez comes into the ring with an A sider mentality, that he realizes fully what sort of opportunity he has. “He’s got to tap that chin…make it a dogfight, Keith has been off two years,” said the Ohio native, who is readying a batch of “Boom Boom bourbon to hit the shelves in Ohio as well as another round of his wines.
Mancini said that the Floridian Thurman, who holds the WBA welter crown, will want to set the pace that is to his liking, and that Lopez should not allow that.
We are both looking foward to the heavyweight scrap, and both think that the Adam Kownacki v Gerald Washington bout will be fan friendly. Washington’s presence on the TV slate reminded Mancini about his old stable mate, Ed “Too Tall” Jones…
..who found out not that you don’t play boxing, but that different attributes that served him so well as a Cowboy didn’t translate as well to the squared circle.
“Washington is a good athlete,” he said…but recalled that Jones had trouble with the agility aspect. He was huge and would destroy heavy bags. But bigger ain’t always better; Jones “trained as hard as anybody could,” but when his hands started betraying him, he decided he’d head back to the “safe zone” of the football field.
And now, swinging back to the Fox main event…Prediction, Boom Boom? I think the layoff helps Thurman; after moving through the rust slog, he gets his timing, and he punches with some of the abandon he had on the way up. Lopez will get dropped and stopped. Mancini thinks Thurman gets the W but thinks it likely that Lopez holds up, and hears that final bell. He too thinks Thurman gets the W.
What say you, reader? Who wins Thurman vs Lopez, and how?