HBO analyst Max Kellerman did his thing on Saturday night during the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight in Las Vegas. He then talked to NYFightBlog about his stellar "Face Off," the filmed sitdown with Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, who fight on Dec. 3 at Madison Square Garden.
FightBlog will get to that shortly ... but we also chatted about the third Pacquiao-JMM bout, who Kellerman thought won, and weighed in with a stance on whether the 32-year-old Filipino has slipped some as a fighter.
"I had it 6-6 in rounds," Kellerman, a Manhattan native who lives in California now, told me. "But I gave the first two fights to Marquez. I thought Marquez won the first of their three fights by the widest margin. I saw it 9-3 or 10-2 for Marquez. The second fight was a little closer, more back and forth, and I think I had Marquez up by a point. In this fight, if I flip the first round, I have it 7-5 for Marquez."
Kellerman noted that people who theorized that the weight limit, a max of 144, would help Pacquiao, were in error: "Manny didn't really have a weight advantage. Why would he agree to fight at 144 instead of 147, when he has all the leverage? They were both at an optimal weight. They were the same size."
Kellerman noted that if they fought 100 times, it would be close 100 times. But historically, business intrudes into the sport. The moneymaker, the cash cow, somehow manages to get more love from the judges than the underdog does. Ken Norton wasn't a revenue generator like Muhammad Ali, and his record is the worse for wear.
So, would he like to see another one, a fourth tussle? "Sure." But Max thinks as most fans do that the time to make Pacquiao-Mayweather is now.
"Everyone wants Mayweather-Pacquiao, as usual (promoters and dealmakers) wait too long (to make the fight happen). Mayweather will be a substantial favorite now. Styles make fights, and Mayweather beat JMM by a lot, while Marquez maybe beat Pacquiao by counterpunching and defense. Who is seen as the best counterpuncher with the best defense?" he asked rhetorically.
So, has Manny sipped? Is he not the all-time great some of us thought he was?
"Does his performance affect his pound-for-pound all-time ranking? No, he's a flyweight, he won the lineal championship as a flyweight. What he's doing is unprecedented. Has he become a little overrated? Look at his matchmaking. The last time he fought someone really great, in their prime, it can be argued, it was Marquez, before that it was Erik Morales."
Bottom line, yes, Manny's still an all-time great, but let's acknowledge that matchmaking has helped bolster his rep, and maybe some of us haven't given astute matchmaking enough credit for Manny's rise.
"The difference among the best in world is not nearly as much as the public believes," Kellerman said. "That said he's among the very greatest fighters that ever lived. I thought he looked excellent against Marquez, he fought a draw with a great fighter. That he has trouble with counterpunchers doesn't diminish him. Everyone could be better. There's no perfection. Through talent and dedication and matchmaking there's been created a standard of perfection, but no one will ever be perfect."
Kellerman notes he like many of us perhaps didn't tweak the equation when sizing up Manny-Marquez III properly. He notes that Joe Frazier would prepare differently for Ali than anyone else, and the same goes for Marquez.
Check back for Max's insider take on the Cotto-Margarito sitdown, his explanation on who came up with the "Face Off" concept and whether he thought Margarito might pull out a switchblade and slice Cotto.