What Can Attorneys and Clients Learn From the Year in Boxing?
In law school, we spent a day in class looking at advertisements that attorneys used to advertise their practices. There was a constant theme that attorneys painted themselves as people who would fight for their client: they were aggressive and they were bulldogs. All that was missing from these advertisements was the slogan “Only in America,” and they could have been written by Don King himself.
Attorneys advertise themselves as if litigation is a combat sport because that is their perception of what clients want. While most attorneys are unable to compete for even one round of a boxing match, there are similarities between a boxing match and litigation; and, as a result, attorneys and clients can learn lessons from the fights and fighters of the last year.
In boxing, 2015 was an entertaining year with historic moments and the rise of new fighters to higher levels of popularity.
The Master – Floyd Mayweather
Floyd Mayweather fought twice in 2015, both historic but for different reasons. His first fight was the long-awaited bout with Manny Pacquiao, which had the potential to be a great bout — in 2010. Even in 2010, Mayweather probably beats Pacquiao, but Pacquiao was quicker, more aggressive, and had more stamina. Instead, the fight was slow with few real exchanges and left the casual fan disappointed. However, it was a typical Mayweather fight – he won the vast majority of rounds and ended the fight with minimal damage. It was also the most financially successful fight in history.
The second fight in 2015 for Mayweather was his alleged “retirement fight.” Mayweather beat Andre Berto decisively, in a fight almost no one saw, to “retire” 49-0. Mayweather’s fight against Pacquiao and his career as a whole provide examples from which attorneys and clients could learn. He capitalized on his patience, waited for other fighters to make a mistake, got in and out of exchanges with shots landed without being hit. He also always had his priorities: avoid getting hit and hit the other guy more times than he hit me. While Mayweather may have been criticized by his audiences or people complained about his fighting style, Mayweather fought 49 times with less damage over his career than some fighters took in a single fight. Could Mayweather have been more exciting? Yes; would it have jeopardized his perfect record? Possibly.
Mayweather’s career taught the importance of patience and to always focus on your objective. Mayweather is going to retire as the best fighter of his generation; the best defensive fighter of all time with a perfect record. As much as attorneys and clients want to be the exciting fighter, when they evaluate their objectives, sometimes being the most aggressive does not lead to the end result that could otherwise be achieved.
The Big Money Show – GGG and Canelo Alvarez
The year 2015 also saw the rise of two new potential boxing superstars – Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin “GGG” and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
GGG is the self-proclaimed “Big Money Show” because he stood in the middle of the ring – took punches he did not need to take, did not finish opponents as quickly as he could have before finishing his opponent in the middle rounds – all to ensure his fans had a good time. He is fun to watch, but his style has cost him – not that he has taken excessive damage, but he has not fought the big name fighters that others have fought. In 2015, he knocked out David Lemieux, Willie Monroe, Jr. and Martin Murray taking his knockout streak to 21. However, the mega-fights have eluded him. When clients or attorneys are not focused on the task at hand with the other side to play to an audience, it is harder to enter into future deals. GGG has experienced this as the fights he has requested have eluded him.
Canelo fought twice in 2015. First, he went back to his base and fought in Houston in front of more than 31,000 people finishing James Kirkland in beautiful fashion. He then headlined a fight against Miguel Cotto that was a pay-per-view success where Canelo won by unanimous decision. Canelo is a fighter who routinely makes sure that he fights in front of his fans and builds his community. As a Mexican fighter, he does not just fight in Las Vegas but brings big fights and record crowds to Mexico City, San Antonio, Houston, and Los Angeles.
This emphasis of supporting his community and building the crowd is important for both attorneys and clients to remember as they build their businesses resources and time spent with local vendors and supporting their communities will provide the foundation for growth.
Canelo and GGG seemed poised to meet within the next year; for boxing fans, hopefully the fight happens while both are in their prime rather than waiting like Mayweather and Pacquiao.
Canelo’s path to stardom taught important lessons about building your base in your community. Southern Arizona has its own budding star in the boxing world, Oscar Valdez, who grew up in Tucson before moving back to Mexico to fight twice in the Olympics for Mexico. ESPN recently recognized him as one of the top prospects to watch in boxing and, last December 12th, Oscar had his homecoming fight at the Tucson Convention Center where he knocked out Ernie Sanchez, which earned him a spot on the undercard of the April 9, 2016, Timothy Bradley v. Manny Pacquiao card.
Good luck Oscar – we can’t wait for you to fight in Tucson again.