I recently had an opportunity to speak to award-winning commentator, Dave Bontempo, who entered into broadcasting in 1985 with ESPN. Bontempo has called major bouts worldwide for HBO’s international division, and has covered events like Ortiz-Mayweather and Tyson-Lewis.
In my interview with Dave Bontempo, I discuss with him the biggest fight in boxing history, Mayweather-Pacquiao. Dave talks about the fight and what each fighter has to do to win. Bontempo also talks about whose legacy this bout affects more and who he’s ultimately picking to win it. Additionally, Dave talks about Amir Khan vs. Chris Algieri. Here is what Dave Bontempo had to say.
Robert Brown: What are your general thought on the upcoming fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather?
Dave Bontempo: As far as the fight is concerned, I’m still going to lean a little to Mayweather with his terrific defense. I do believe that at some point that Manny Pacquiao will force Mayweather into what I call a “moment of truth” in which you have to overcome some adversity and that to me will make the fight. I’m glad for the boxing fans that they finally get the fight. I was waiting for this fight in 2009. This could have been their fifth fight by now (laughs).
Robert Brown: I wrote an article three years ago titled: “The Fight Won’t Happen, Forget About It.” Now the fight is happening but on this occasion I don’t mind being wrong.
Dave Bontempo: You don’t mind being wrong on that and you certainly would have a lot of company because when I interviewed people in 2010 they said, “If it doesn’t happen in 2011, it doesn’t happen.” This is the one fight that broke the common sense rule of, if you don’t have the fight then people will forget it and they won’t care about you and they won’t want it.
There are so many fights that you can look at in history that the guys waited too long and they never got it going, but in this case — maybe it’s the advent of social media that has kept their names out there and the marketing behind them — this fight breaks the rules. This fight, they kicked it away and they got it back.
Robert Brown: Amir Khan has Kell Brook and Keith Thurman and other guys out there, why do you think he’s taken this fight with Chris Algieri? Do you think this fight is a bad move for Amir because he can’t really win?
Dave Bontempo: No he can’t really win, it’s just a matter of where they think the payday is. I’m a little surprised to see that happen. Now Algieri has become everybody’s favorite opponent because first of all, did he really beat Provodnikov? Then with Pacquiao to be knocked down six times and lose like that, it is a shame. These are not the fights that you really want to see and you’re clamoring for but sometimes it’s just a matter of them not being able to make the fights they want, and there you go.
Robert Brown: Mayweather doesn’t seem to be loved by Americans as Sugar Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali were, why do you think that is?
Dave Bontempo: I go back to the days where I did Mayweather’s amateur fights and a lot of his early pro fights and I remember this sweet kid with a big grin and just a guy that was oozing with a lot of confidence. What’s really happened as he’s gone along is that he’s seen the need to please the public by playing the “bad guy” so there can be a good guy and a bad guy in the promotion.
If he was sitting here talking to you right now one-on-one, you would probably think he was a very nice engaging young man and you really would enjoy his company. What happens when the public realm shines down on these guys is, they sense the need to perform and be in the spotlight and to posture certain things.
Mayweather really is at the bottom of it a very nice guy, as is Pacquiao, who I have spent a lot of time with in The Philippines, he’s just a modest and humble human being. My guess is that Floyd Mayweather has figured that somebody has to play the bad guy in these promotions but underneath it all, he’s not a bad guy at all.
Robert Brown: What do you think Manny Pacquiao has to do to win this fight? Do you think he can get back his killer instinct back?
Dave Bontempo: I think that once it’s gone you don’t get it back. For me the highlights of his career were the Ricky Hatton fight, the Oscar De La Hoya fight, where he was coming up and making his most dramatic victories. For him to succeed against Floyd Mayweather, I feel it would have to be somewhere early in that fight. One of his shots would have to be a big one, something like what Shane Mosley got through in the second round of his fight with Floyd Mayweather.
Manny’s a fast punching guy but Mayweather has been able to slip many punches. I think Pacquiao would have to nail him with a big shot early in the fight and then keep getting back to some periodic big shots that he’s able to land. To me, that would be his blueprint for victory and he should gamble in that direction.
Robert Brown: Who has more on the line in this fight? Mayweather is undefeated and he claims to be the best of all time. Does Floyd need to dominate Pacquiao to get what he needs from this fight?
Dave Bontempo: I think getting by with a win that people say was a good fight, all he has to do is come out ahead in what’s considered a good fight, even if he just beats him by a whisker. Mayweather has more on the line than Pacquiao because he’s been pound-for-pound the number one guy and enjoying the high profile for many years.
Manny Pacquiao’s big profile has been to go into government, he has his picture on money, he’s a big hero back in The Philippines and yet still we have not see him change that modest persona that he’s carried all these years. He would not have a major comedown in terms of that because he hasn’t been a bragger and he would not have to recapture as much. For Mayweather, this is what it’s all about for him; money man, best of all time. I think Mayweather has more to lose.
Robert Brown: What is your final tip for that fight?
Dave Bontempo: I’m still leaning to Mayweather, I think that he’s just got so many smarts that he finds a way to get out of situations and Pacquiao will pressure him but it’s a lean on Mayweather but I would sit back and enjoy the fight. If I was a bettor, I wouldn’t go near it because I don’t know which guy will show up.
Robert Brown: You think it will be Mayweather by close decision? That could mean there can be a rematch.
Dave Bontempo: Yeah, you could end up with a rematch. Close is a relative term, I just hope that Pacquiao pins his ears back and goes after him because that’s the only way. He has to make the fight for it to be a crowd pleasing fight and that would be my thought coming in.
He’s come up so many more pounds than Floyd Mayweather but there’s still a special intangible quality. I do think he’s gonna have a moment in this fight where he has a chance to not have it go to the judges, at some point in the fight I do think he’ll get some chance, and then we’ll see what goes from there.