Pacheco takes jab at Douglas

Phil Jackman

October 17, 1990|By Phil Jackman

WHILE MOST GUYS analyzing fights look to jabs, hooks, counters, punching power and a boxer's ability to defend himself, Ferdie Pacheco likes to delve into the mind and psyche.

Pssst, Buster Douglas, if you're reading this, better skip along to something else, quickly.

While most men, assigned the task of serving as analyst for the closed circuit, pay-per-view telecast of the Douglas-Evander Holyfield fight Oct. 25, might figure they were duty bound to shill for the promotion, the "Fight Doctor" is not of that ilk.

"Face it," says Pacheco, "Douglas has a psychological profile of quitting. When things get tough, bang, he heads south. He has had fights where he had no excuse to lose and he lost anyway. Another time, he was winning a fight late and he just flat-out quit."

Doesn't sound much like the guy who, last February, did a tar-and-feather job on the seemingly indestructible Mike Tyson and captured the undisputed heavyweight crown, does it?

"And," admits Pacheco, "no one can for one second take anything away from that truly inspired performance by James. The guy was magnificent that evening.

"At the same time, what Tyson once again proved that night is what happens outside the ring is as important as what happens in the ring. That circus surrounding Mike is what did him in as much as anything else. He just didn't seem to give a damn."

With the challenger favored by upward of 3-to-1, it's clear oddsmakers, bettors and fans regard Douglas as a guy who got exceptionally lucky in Tokyo.

Pacheco half-subscribes to the theory. "The fact remains, though, he did it. You can't take that away from him," he says. "But it's like the old saying, 'What have you done for us lately?' Buster now has to do it all over again.

"There are questions all over the place. Can he, as champion, make the psychological change from being a guy who accepts defeat rather easily to a guy who won't be beat?

"What about his conditioning? You know, to this day I don't think anyone knows what Douglas' best fighting weight is. What about the weight loss? Did he wait too long before getting back to work to get in shape?"

The word out of Las Vegas, where both fighters have been training for a couple of weeks, is that Douglas will never remind you of John Henry, the steel-driving man.

"We really don't know if Buster is a good preparation man," says Pacheco. "Heck, before it probably didn't matter much. Guys like Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano could go off for six, seven weeks and come back ready to kill you as look at you. And when Muhammad Ali took to the mountains, he'd get the machine in top working order, too. Buster? Who knows?"

Meanwhile, according to Ferdie anyway, there are no questions surrounding Holyfield. He lists his strengths:

"Evander is and always has been in incredible condition. Contrary to what some writers think, he has made a legitimate weight gain up to heavyweight.

"Maybe the best things he has going for him are a total willingness to put out for three full minutes a round for 15 rounds, total determination to stick with a game plan devised by a true genius of a tactician, Georgie Benton, and a winning psychological profile that doesn't allow for defeat.

"Holyfield is like a guy hacking away at a wall in a coal mine. He keeps doing it and doing it until the wall is gone. Look at the Dynamite Dokes fight. The guy was cleaning up the floor with Holyfield. But he just stayed there working until things turned his way and he took over. He won't lose."

As for weaknesses, the Doc cites the fact the challenger has been known "to take too many shots and he's not a one-punch KO guy like Sonny Liston, Earnie Shavers or George Foreman."

Pacheco adds, "But who is? A lot of guys have had to get the job done by an accumulation of punches. Ali, Floyd Patterson, Larry Holmes, most of them, in fact. As for taking too many punches, of course that's not good, but the guy is able to take shots, no question.

"Douglas has a nice jab, but it doesn't stop you in your tracks like Liston or Holmes could with theirs. And Buster certainly isn't a big bomber with the right hand. He hit Tyson with enough clean right hands to knock out a regiment of tough guys, but the fight went all the way to the 10th round."

Fully aware that he had made the Mirage Hotel extravaganza sound like Sparrows Point High taking on the 49ers, Pacheco did leave himself an escape route should it become necessary.

"As in most fights involving heavyweights, luck can be a huge determining factor. Luck being in the form of who can get the first good one [punch] in. That's when all the game plans go out the window and a guy's on his own."

Following a slight pause, he adds, "and as we all know, all of what we say often becomes BS as soon as two guys climb through the ropes and the bell rings."

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