Franchise Thoughts: To Watch Tape or Not to Watch Tape, and Are Cutmen the New Secret Weapons?

When he was doing our round by round blog for the Vic Darchinyan-Rodrigo Guerrero fight last Saturday, my brother Uatu mentioned that Vic watched no tape of his foe leading up to the fight. Perhaps rhetorically, my brother asked what the downside of watching tape would be. Why not at least familiarize yourself with what your opponent likes to do?

In Darchinyan's case, the thinking may have been that he was the better, more experienced fighter, so it made sense for him to focus on what he wanted to do, assuming he would dictate the way the fight unfolded. For the most part, that's exactly what happened.

Ah, but what if the roles are reversed and you are about to face one of the top boxers on the planet? Wouldn't it make sense to do some film study in the hopes of gleaning any little tidbit or tendency that might help you pull off the upset?

Apparently not. Or at least not for Joshua Clottey as he prepares to fight Manny Pacquiao this weekend. ESPN's Dan Rafael did a feature today on Clottey and trainer Lenny De Jesus, who revealed that he watched no tape of Manny while formulating a strategy.

Part of the reason is because De Jesus served as Pacquiao's cutman in the past, a point I will come back to in a minute. But even more telling is this quote:

"You can teach a fighter certain things, and when you get hit and get hurt you go back to your style."

I'm not a boxer or a trainer, so I don't know how much truth there is to that statement. I do follow the logic, at least.

Still, I go back to the question my brother posed on Saturday, "What would it hurt?" It seems to me that for the biggest fight of your boxer's life, you don't want to leave anything to chance. If you watch the tape and learn something, even something tiny that may help, it was worth it. If you watch the tape and learn nothing, you're no worse off than you were before.

Now back to the whole cutman issue. Not only does De Jesus supposedly have some insight into the Pac Man from serving in his corner, but the same thing is also true in reverse, as Pacquiao cutman Miguel Diaz worked for Clottey in the past. It's high espionage on the part of the cutmen!

I'm going to have to go into full skepticism mode here. Yes, the cutman may see into the boxer's psyche a bit when he works on the guy between rounds, and he is watching the action from a pretty good seat. But the next time I see a fighter knock someone out and say, "Yeah, my cutman told me to look for that" will be the first.

I can't see the cutman having much input into a fighter's game plan either. Oh, unless the trainer is off watching tape, I suppose.

Posted by The Franchise

1 comment:

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