Quick Jabs: Getting Greedy; Stepping Up

Two fights this weekend that are heavily overshadowed — to say the least — by Floyd Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton… plus a few other thoughts floating around the blogosphere about things over the horizon… have me rolling out, for the first time at MVN.com… my own collection of ramblings. I’ve openly coveted Sean’s cleverly-named “Punch Drunk Ramblings,” but I’m trying to take pride of ownership in “Quick Jabs,” so I’m sticking with it until I get the nerve to ask Sean if I can use his title now that we’re at the same blog.

  • Be patient, because I am about to start talking about boxing. There’s this great speech at the end of Scrooged where Bill Murray talks about the joy of discovering Christmas: “It can happen every day. You’ve just got to want that feeling. And if you like it, and you want it, you’ll get greedy for it.” (I read that he improvised most of that speech, incredibly.) ‘Tis the season, so I was thinking of the movie, and it applies to boxing right now. For boxing fans, it’s verging on greedy time. There have been so many great fights since September, so many important match-ups, that I’m starting to get greedy for it to continue. For people like me, there’s good news and there’s bad news about the next few months. I’ll start with the bad news: I’m disappointed that the Paul Williams-Kermit Cintron fight isn’t happening Feb. 2 as planned, for starters. What’s not to like about two exciting young fighters unifying their belts in boxing’s Horn O’Plenty — yes, I’m mixing my holiday metaphors — the welterweight division (147 lbs.)? That’s an accident of Cintron’s hand injury, so I can’t be too perturbed. But some of boxing’s old problems circa early 2007 could resurface in a pair of other potential meetings. Two other young, exciting fighters in another of boxing’s loaded divisions, the lightweights (135 lbs.), are scheduled to meet Feb. 9: Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis. That’s if promoters Don King and Oscar De La Hoya don’t get into some kind of delaying feud over the complicated contractual, political entanglements that I won’t get into here (you can read about here if you want) but that will almost certainly jeopardize this fight. The thought of it makes me cringe, because Diaz-Katsidis has the potential to be the best fight of 2008. For a light heavyweight (175 lbs.) showdown between Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe, which is one of the most important fights that could happen in 2008 if not the most exciting, the problem is two veterans emphasizing their own cash demands instead of their legacies. I respect that it’s called “prizefighting,” but how many fights has boxing lost because of insane money demands from boxers?

  • At least the good news is tremendously good. Bad Left Hook did a rundown, but I want to expand on it. The first four months of 2008 are slated to be nearly as good as the last four months of 2007. Bear down for a great list: Not only is the Manny Pacquaio-Juan Manuel Marquez rematch (junior lightweight, 130 lbs., March 15) the most important fight on the ledger, it will likely be a thriller. The third meeting between Juan Manuel’s brother Rafael and Israel Vasquez (junior featherweight, 122, March 1) is the finale of what will very likely go down in history as a classic trilogy. If the rematch between Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor (just below super middleweight at 166 lbs., Feb. 16) is anywhere near as dramatic as the first, we should all be so lucky. Roy Jones Jr. versus Felix Trinidad (just below light heavyweight at 170 lbs., Jan. 19) is a long overdue clash between two all-time greats — maybe too long overdue, but both still have big names. Vladimir Klitschko versus Sultan Ibragimov (unlimited, Feb. 23) is the first heavyweight belt-unifying fight in, like, forever. If Chad Dawson and Glen Johnson (light heavyweight, tentatively in April) get together as it looks like they will, it would be a great battle between a gifted young gun and a rough and ready, much-avoided but proven veteran. And that’s just the first tier. In the second tier, there are two potential cult classics in Jorge Arce-Martin Castillo (bantamweight, 118 lbs., first quarter of 2008 tentatively) and Robert Guerrero-Jason Litzau (featherweight, 126 lbs., date unknown), both under discussion. There are four meaningful heavyweight fights in Sam Peter-Oleg Maskaev (Feb. 2), Sergei Liakhovich-Nicolay Valuev (Jan. 19) , Alexander Povetkin-Eddie Chambers (Jan. 26) and Chris Arreola possibly against David Tua (Feb 2). Newly-minted superstar Miguel Cotto (welterweight, tentatively in March) will be in against someone, likely Joshua Clottey, in a fight that could be very intriguing. There are fights that are intriguing for a variety of reasons in Andre Ward-Allan Green (super middleweight, 168 lbs., under discussion for Feb. 2), Vic Darchinyan-Z Gorres (Feb. 2), whoever Paul Williams fights in Cintron’s place (Carlos Quintana? Zab Judah?) and more. And I’m so greedy, I’ll be mad if Hopkins-Calzaghe and Diaz-Katsidis doesn’t happen. Spoiled, spoiled, spoiled.
  • Because Hatton-Mayweather is happening the same night, no one’s giving much of a look at two other fights this weekend, Amir Khan-Graham Earl and John Duddy-Howard Eastman, that are big, big steps up in competition for two sensations in Khan (lightweight) and Duddy (middleweight, 160 lbs). By my eyes, the 20-year-old Khan is a major talent, and Earl gave Katsidis a major run for his money earlier this year in a fight that was the early contender for the best fight of 2007. Earl is by far the best opponent Khan will have faced. Eastman is the same for Duddy. The 28-year-old Duddy’s a sensation not so much because of his talent but because he’s energized an Irish fan base and because he likes to brawl. I’m not a big believer in Duddy, but I give him serious credit for taking on Eastman, who, while on the decline, in 2005 was competitive against then pound-for-pound king Hopkins. Khan and Duddy are following on the heels of a fellow sensation, 21-year-old son-of-a-legend Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., who last weekend passed his biggest test with flying colors, knocking out hard-hitting Ray Sanchez. Chavez is moving fast now after feasting on inferior competition, with 2008 expected to bring rugged, experienced Carlos Baldomir and if he wins, then popular former “Contender” TV show participant Alfonso Gomez. Add those to the “intriguing” column for 2008. Duddy’s old enough to be stepping things up, but are the very green Khan and Chavez ready? The signs point to “yes,” but what makes fights like this fun is that we’ll find out.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.