Mayweather, Ref Waste No Time In Manfredy Tko

Posted: December 21, 1998

MIAMI — Floyd Mayweather Jr. has a strange ritual he sometimes performs during the course of bouts. Whenever he thinks his opponent might be tiring or vulnerable, he asks his father-trainer, Floyd Sr., for permission to go ahead and knock the guy out.

``A fighter is most dangerous when he's hurt,'' the younger Mayweather said. ``That's what my dad always says. So you don't want to take foolish chances. He's always reminding me to stay focused, to take my time. This is professional boxing. You don't want to leave yourself open or run out of gas by going for the knockout too soon.''

Mayweather, the World Boxing Council super featherweight champion, knocked Angel ``El Diablo'' Manfredy off-balance with the first punch he threw - a crisp overhand right - but he decided to follow Floyd Sr.'s advice and wait for a more suitable opportunity to close the deal.

That would be in the second round, when Mayweather (19-0, 15 KOs) jolted Manfredy (24-3-1, 19 KOs) with another straight right, precipitating a barrage of blows along the ropes that prompted referee Frank Santore to step in and award ``Pretty Boy Floyd'' a technical knockout at the 2:47 mark Saturday night at Miccosukee Indian Gaming.

It was the sort of quick, emphatic finish Mayweather, 21, had envisioned.

``I told my uncle Jeff [Mayweather, another member of the familial corner team], `It's going to be over within three [rounds].' I felt that in my heart,'' said Mayweather, a bronze medalist as a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic boxing team.

``Me and my dad talked about that. He told me if I hurt Manfredy again, to go ahead and end it if I could. I saw my chance and I took it. I got him hurt, threw a lot of punches and the fight was over.''

Mayweather's startingly swift victory over the well-respected Manfredy - who had won 23 consecutive fights over a 55-month period - instantly earned him Fighter of the Year honors from The Ring magazine, which was prepared to give the challenger the award had he won. Similar designation from the Boxing Writers Association of America could be forthcoming.

``I think he deserves Fighter of the Year,'' Lou DiBella, senior vice president of HBO Sports, said of Mayweather. ``He won seven fights this year - seven! - and the last two were against Genaro Hernandez [from whom Mayweather won the WBC title] and Manfredy. That's quite a year for anybody, especially a young kid.''

But Mayweather, a pro for only 26 months, isn't quite ready to pronounce himself a superstar.

``I feel like a little star,'' said Mayweather, a Las Vegas resident by way of his native Grand Rapids, Mich. ``I'm still trying to get up to [Oscar] De La Hoya status.''

Manfredy, from Gary, Ind., said it shouldn't take Mayweather too long to make it to the very top if he continues to get the benefit of the doubt from referees too eager to intervene.

``[The fight] shouldn't have been stopped,'' an angry, tearful Manfredy said. ``[Santore] didn't even give me an eight-count.

``That's bullbleep. [Mayweather] only hit me twice [during the decisive flurry]. Hell, I wasn't hurt. That's no championship fight. That was not boxing. That was politics. They knew what they wanted to do.''

Manfredy, 24, might or might not have a case; the standing eight-count has not been in effect since the universal rules for world title bouts went into effect earlier this year. But although he clearly was in trouble, and wasn't throwing punches back, he seemed to be playing some defense and was nailed solidly only a couple of times as Mayweather teed off on him.

The stoppage called by Santore wasn't nearly as dubious as the one ordered by referee Telis Assimenios in the other HBO-televised bout, in which David Tua (33-1, 28 KOs) captured the United States Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation Intercontinental titles on a 10th-round TKO of Hasim ``The Rock'' Rahman (29-1, 24 KOs).

Rahman was beginning to lose some momentum, but he had built a substantial points lead by utilizing his jab and a short, chopping right hand against Tua, who seemed content to bore in and look for chances to unload his signature left hook.

Tua connected with two of them - one right before the bell ending the ninth round, one clearly after. It was the second of those shots, flush to the jaw, that sent a dazed Rahman wobbling back to his corner.

Rahman still was not quite all there at the start of the 10th round, when the punch-throwin' Samoan rushed in, winging wide, hard shots that drove the Baltimore resident against the ropes. Several more Tua hooks found the mark when Assimenios intervened only 35 seconds into the round.

``It was a railroad job,'' Rahman's co-manager, Robert Mittleman, said of the controversial ending to the fight. ``The punch that hurt Rock was at least one to two seconds after the bell. The referee knew it. That should have been a point deducted [from Tua], and Rock should have gotten as much time to rest as he needed.''

Rahman insisted he ``wasn't buzzed,'' and offered his somewhat feeble attempts to fight back as proof.

``I was fine,'' Rahman said. ``I was ducking and moving and returning punches. This is bull-bleep. I was ahead on all the scorecards, not to mention I was making the fight.

``I got 29 wins now, and one robbery.''

Through nine rounds, Rahman led on the official scorecards by margins of seven, seven and three points. Punch statistics compiled by CompuBox showed him landing 301 of 763, compared to 195 of 401 for Tua.

Tua, however, said his inside pressure had taken the spring from Rahman's legs and the conclusion was inevitable.

``I knew I had him hurt and I knew I was going to beat him,'' Tua said. ``I knew he was going to go down. He started to slow down when I started to go to the body.''

DiBella said he wasn't pleased with the work of either referee, but he said Rahman might have a more legitimate gripe.

``Floyd was so fast, he was going to stop Manfredy anyway,'' DiBella said. ``But a rematch between Rahman and Tua is warranted to some degree. Rahman has a right to feel cheated.''

Send e-mail to fernanb@phillynews.com.

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