It’s been a little light around here at Ring Report, to say the least, because it’s been a little light around the boxing world. Your options, until September, are some ESPN2 bouts of marginal significance or entertainment value, Olympic boxing — which is interesting this time around, and I’ll have more to say on that below — today’s ESPN Classic Sugar Ray Robinson marathon and an end-of-the-month pay-per-view that makes you shake your head in dismay. All the major action’s been outside the ring, particularly with a number of inter-related welterweights, so let’s start with them in this edition of “Quick Jabs.”
Oscar De La Hoya
He’ll be a welterweight (147 lbs.) for his next fight, if it’s against Manny Pacquiao, as it looks like. You know, I’ve adjusted my attitude toward this fight. I’m a bit of a purist in one sense, that being that I’m more interested in the best fights and match-ups than I am the fights that make the most money. I used to be more sympathetic to that than I have been — these are “prizefighters,” after all. So as desperately as I want a Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez rubber match, as desperately as I want to see if Pacquiao can conquer the boxing’s-best lightweight division (135), I can’t get too angry that he wants to make giant piles of cash for putting his head in harm’s way of mens’ fists.
Likewise for De La Hoya. This fight has been labeled in plenty of places “a circus” more than it is combat. People do pay to see circuses, is all. And I can’t hate on De La Hoya too much for not looking to make a fight with Antonio Margarito. It’s the last fight of his career. Surely he wants to come out on top. Much as I would’ve given him bonus points for making his last fight against Miguel Cotto, he’d get double secret bonus points from me for taking on Margarito. If he doesn’t, though, anyone who thinks De La Hoya is a chicken — as he was called early in his career — should take a far closer look at all the monsters he’s fought in his career. I really doubt the man who fought Julio Cesar Chavez, Pernell Whitaker, Ike Quartey, Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather is scared of anyone in the ring. I think he just wants to leave on a win. And make giant piles of cash for himself on the way out. Which, because of Pacquiao’s awesome showing at 135, is more plausible than it was when this was just a Crazyland fight. Although it’s still a circus.
Now, if only they could get all the logistics just right in the Big Top. Word is the meetings between Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank Promotions this week went well. There’s talk of Pacquiao getting $20 million, which is astounding to me, and much wrangling over Philippines television rights, and a bunch of other business reporting-type stuff that bores me. I understand that it’s a business. I don’t have to get excited about it.
So now Margarito is a bona fide Mexican hero. There’s evidence in the fact that Hugo Cazares, a Mexican fighter on this month’s aforementioned late August pay-per-view, said Margarito’s defeat of the Puerto Rican Cotto has inspired him to do the same to Puerto Rican countryman Ivan Calderon. The 108-pounder said “the triumph by Margarito will give me the motivation to shut the mouth of Calderon.” Margarito’s style, and the fact that he beat a man from Mexico’s top region-to-region boxing rival, should give him a very nice fan base. How nice is the question. Top Rank’s Bob Arum wants Margarito to fight Joshua Clottey in a rematch at Dodgers Stadium in a pay-per-view. First off — pay-per-view, blech. But if Margarito can fill Dodgers Stadium basically by himself, since Clottey, though formidable, is not a major draw, he’s beyond a hero. He’s a superstar beyond my current level of estimation. (By the way, is there any man on the planet who LOOKS meaner than Margarito? He backs it up in the ring, but dude, he’s scary just from the neck up.)
Margarito-Paul Williams II would fill Dodgers Stadium, I think, because they already filled up a stadium on the West Coast once last year, and because it was an awesome fight that any boxing fan in his or her right mind wants to see again, more than just about any other possible fight in the sport. Alas, here’s where the free ride Arum gets from the press comes in not-so-handy. It is scandalous — I mean it, scandalous — that the only reason Margarito-Williams II isn’t happening is because Arum has a grudge against one of Williams’ advisers. Assuming that’s the only motive; there could be unstated reasons. Read Dan Rafael’s account of the feud here. The money’s right, since Williams’ team has offered Margarito $4 million and I have severe doubts any Margarito fight other than a rematch with Cotto or a De La Hoya bout could do that much business. As tough as Williams fought Margarito and as good as Williams looked destroying Carlos Quintana in one round, I have to imagine Margarito would be the favorite to win. So it’s reasonable to assume that Arum’s animus is the only thing robbing boxing fans a good fight that makes good business sense, too. Good luck finding much criticism of that behavior out there. There should be a lot more. And yeah, I’m also displeased that Margarito-Clottey II might be on pay-per-view. Does any boxing writer out there but me think that isn’t worth $50? Even with an excellent undercard? Good luck finding any criticism of that, either.
It’s good news that Clottey’s bicep injury isn’t as serious as originally believed. It’s not my first priority, obviously, to see Margarito-Clottey II. It’s still worlds better than Margarito-Zab Judah, a joke and a half, considering Judah lost to Clottey in his last fight. That Clottey didn’t mention his bicep injury after the Judah fight shows that he must have been stung by the criticism he earned by making sure everyone knew he’d hurt both hands.
Can a healthy Clottey beat an improved Margarito, who was rusty and unhealthy himself when they first fought? It’s some good intrigue, and their first fight was good, but man. $50.
I wasn’t able last weekend to contribute to the whole “Judah’s a quitter, nyah nyah nyah” taunt, since I wrote the barest of summaries of that fight. But with the way he was trying to beg out of continuing by insisting he couldn’t see how many fingers the ring doctor was holding up even after the blood was wiped from his eye, it’s pretty clear he was either trying to not get knocked out or hope he was ahead on the scorecards, since he knew the referee had incorrectly rule the cut was the result of a head butt. I usually don’t get too angry at boxers quitting, but under the circumstances — Judah quitting, then cravenly trying to be “the people’s champ” by playing to the crowd about getting robbed — I now join in on the taunt. Judah’s a quitter, nyah nyah nyah.
From a purist’s standpoint, I really think Judah ought to move back down to 140 pounds. He was at 143 against Clottey, so I gather he could get lower if he wanted. At 147, he would get eaten alive by Margarito and only pose credible resistance to any of the other top welters, but is there a fighter at 140 he wouldn’t be the favorite to beat? Or at least a far more serious threat than he would be against top 147-pounders? He can probably make more dough at 147, and one of his advisers is skeptical of Judah going to 140, so that means Judah probably gets another chance at an elite welter at some point, then, presumably, we get the knockout of Judah we were robbed of against Clottey. It looks like it could be delivered by Andre Berto, per that same adviser. And Judah gets himself another pile of cash that he can waste on bottles of champagne for random club-goers.
I was actually about to write a “Kermit Cintron has been wronged and somebody needs to give him another chance” piece when, lo and behold, promoter Lou DiBella picked him up and signed a contract with him. It’s true that I don’t think Cintron is good enough to beat an elite welterweight. He’s second tier. But what’s his sin? He got knocked out twice by Margarito? That’s just not that shameful. It was enough for me to declare him “second tier,” since Clottey, Williams and Cotto all fared far better against Margarito. There was an element of a style problem there for Cintron-Margarito, but the same style Cintron demonstrated against Margarito would be problems against Clottey, Williams, Cotto and Mosley, for starters.
That said, Cintron has plenty going for him. First off, I love to watch him fight. The major reason is his ungodly punching power. Second off, he’s still young and has shown improved technique and toughness in the last couple years. Third off, he’s got tons of athletic ability that suggests he can improve even more, which is why he’s got one of the best trainers in the business, Emmanuel Steward, bothering to train him. It’s a good formula. I’m not saying Cintron will ever be an elite welterweight, but I totally wouldn’t bet against it happening one day, because the capacity is there. DiBella wants to have Cintron fight Cotto, which would be very interesting — although if I were Cotto’s team, I’d match him up with a slightly lighter-hitting opponent in his first comeback bout. Anyway, it’s great that Cintron’s getting another chance. He absolutely should.
Quicker Jabs, The Best Of The Rest
You gotta hand it to Thomas Hauser for yet more good work at Secondsout.com. His feature on boxrec.com is one of those “goddam, what an obviously interesting story to write, why didn’t I think of it?” cases. His reporting on HBO in his recounting of Margarito-Cotto is also quite valuable, even if I think he doesn’t direct some needed caveats at Arum like “oh yeah, and by the way, Arum isn’t letting Margarito-Williams II happen because of some vengeful agenda”…
When can I see monstrous knockout-punching 154-pounder James Kirkland on TV again? I know he had a fallout with his promoter, but seriously, with the way he fights, someone should find a way to get him on the tele every other month…
Too bad about Gary Russell’s collapse, because he was one of the United States’ legit gold medal contenders. Still, our boxing team is getting some much-needed attention from the mainstream media, in part because of the controversy over coach Dan Campbell’s training methods and disciplinary habits but just as much because it’s one of our more promising teams in a while. My hometown Washington Post had a feature on the team on the front of their sports page recently, and the San Francisco Chronicle did a great write-up, too…
Europe, Mexico and a few other regions may indeed be making major in-roads in professional boxing, but if you need evidence that the U.S. still has a thriving boxing scene, check out this piece postulating what would happen if every country sent their pros to the Olympics. And tell me you don’t agree that we’d win the medal race…
One of the most disgusting things that could happen in boxing looks like it’s about to, and I couldn’t be more angry. The WBC has installed Oscar Larios, who’s suspended in the U.S. because Jorge Linares beat him up so badly last year he gave him a brain bleed, as the mandatory challenger to… you guessed it, WBC titlist Linares. I don’t want to get too dramatic about this, but if the WBC enforces their decision, and Linares insists on defending his title, we’re basically talking about a sanctioned execution…
I’m no believer in 154-pounder Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., but you have to hand it to the young man for being willing to immediately rematch against his toughest opponent, journeyman Matt Vanda, who had JCC Jr. in serious trouble late in their fight. It would be on the undercard of Margarito-Clottey II, on Nov. 1…
Yes, it is strange to see Bernard Hopkins saying nice things about Kelly Pavlik in advance of the.ir October 170-pound fight. But even if it is some ploy, I’ll take that over the usual tasteless filth Hopkins indulges in..
Ali Oubaali! I’m rapidly becoming a huge fan. The lightweight is a shoe-in to make my list of “limited fighters who may never make it to the top but whose fights you can’t afford to miss on TV,” coming soon to this boxing blog. How many fighters actually land more body shots than head shots in a fight, as Oubaali did this week against Chris Fernandez? He is a maniac about working over his opponent’s rib cage, and he never, ever backs down. Love him…