If you thought Saturday’s mammoth Oscar De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao fight was the only game in town this weekend, I’m here to tell you otherwise. One of the men in the above video figures into one of the other fights this weekend, and it should be better than the one soaking up all the coverage here and everywhere else.
We’ll hit this weekend’s bouts, then go into Round and Round, the feature where I discuss fights in the works.
Other Weekend Bouts
Friend of the site Dan said it in the comments section yesterday, and he’s right: The best fight of the weekend is probably Carl Froch-Jean Pascal for one of the super middleweight (168 lbs.) belts Saturday night. Froch and Pascal are two very entertaining fighters, flawed though they may be in some ways. They’re also pretty good, despite those flaws, with Froch a clear top-10 super middleweight and Pascal arguably deserving of the ranking. The winner would have Jermain Taylor as his mandatory. Froch also is distantly in the running for a big all-British fight against Joe Calzaghe, should Calzaghe continue his career. Oh, and the fight is in mother-flippin’ NOTTINGHAM.
Also in England on Saturday night, lightweight (135 lbs.) Amir Khan will try to come back from his first loss and first knockout against an opponent who doesn’t have a glossy knockout record. That’s appropriate, since Khan’s chin is highly questionable, to say the least. Word is Khan, how being trained by Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach, has not fared badly against Pacquiao in sparring, and it looked that way to me from the clips I’ve seen. Khan apparently fares well early on, then, according to roach, peaks quickly due to “nervous energy.” Besides his chin, Khan’s other clear flaw is how impatient and over-eager he is, which helped him get knocked out. A Roach assistant will be in Khan’s corner Saturday, and he foolishly suggested Khan could be ready for Pacquiao by the end of 2009, which isn’t going to help with that impatience problem, is it?
What might have been the best bout of the weekend, Enzo Maccarinelli vs. Johnathon Banks for a cruiserweight (200 lbs.) title belt, fell through when Banks pulled out with an injury. The replacement opponent they picked has turned the title fight, most believe, into a total charade. And another fight fell through for today — the return of junior middleweight (154 lbs.) Ike Quartey, who apparently isn’t coming back yet because of “personal problems,” according to one account. [UPDATE: Enzo Mac’s replacement opponent fell through when he failed a medical exam, so now Mac will fight at heavyweight against another anonymous opponent and skip the cruiserweight belt bid.]
Fortunately, Friday night offers a variety of options. ShoBox will feature welterweight (147 lbs.) Luis Carlos Abregu against David Estrada. I don’t know much about Abregu, but he does have 24 knockouts in 21 wins. This from a news release: “Carlos Abregu will get tested against David Estrada,” said Sean Gibbons, matchmaker and vice president of Sycuan Ringside Promotions. “Estrada has fought Shane Mosley, Andre Berto and Kermit Cintron. All of these guys are either current or former world champions… We feel Abregu has what it takes to challenge for a world title, but he has to move past the prospect label first. A strong outing on Friday and Abregu will show everyone that he is the real deal.” I just hope Estrada isn’t fighting one too many fights here, and against the wrong kind of opponent. I really like him because he brings it, but he’s been in some wars with big punchers and he’s been knocked out by several of them lately.
There’s also a Telfutura card — 2004 Olympian Rock Allen, where have you been? — and fights on Telmundo and gofightlive.tv Friday.
Round And Round
I can’t say I’d known much about German promoter Universum prior to the last couple weeks, but based on what I’ve learned over that time period I’d say their business motto is “have our boxers talk smack about wanting to fight some of the bigger names in the sport, then duck those same big names when they express interest back.” Universum’s Felix Sturm did it with fellow German middleweight (160 lbs.) Arthur Abraham, then promptly turned down 2.5 million Euros. Offended by the “ultimatum” — even though Abraham’s team said they were happy to continue negotiating — Universum now says Sturm wants undisputed division champ Kelly Pavlik. Even if Pavlik was interested, I bet Sturm turns it down. Then, junior middleweight titlist Sergei Dzindziruk smack-talked Paul Williams and promptly turned down the fight. According to BoxingScene.com, a German source said Dzindziruk wanted an “absurd” amount of money. Lame. [UPDATE: Universum denies turning down the Williams fight.]
Antonio Margarito-Shane Mosley in January is headed to Los Angeles. This is good news. No need to make each welterweight’s local fan base travel to Las Vegas. I’m still not sure what to make of the news about Shane Mosley admitting to a grand jury he injected himself with EPO for one of the De La Hoya fights. It seems to jive with his previous story that he took something without knowing what it was, not that the previous story jives with “remotely plausible.”
To set up the rematch between Margarito and Miguel Cotto, Cotto has signed on the dotted line to fight Michael Jennings Feb. 21. It will be on the same card as Pavlik’s title defense against Marco Antonio Rubio, and may also feature junior featherweight (122 lbs.) Juan Manuel Lopez and junior flyweight (108 lbs.) Ivan Calderon. If this pay-per-view is reasonably priced, say, $25, I’ll buy it, because I love Cotto, Pavlik and Lopez. But I don’t know if many others will. Jennings is a total unknown, and I’m not sure why anyone thinks that fight will sell, vacant title on the line or no. [UPDATE: Lopez is also now in chats with Israel Vazquez for a June fight.]
Light heavyweight (175 lbs.) titlist Chad Dawson is in talks to fight on HBO in his next bout, and it’s interesting that the channel has taken interest in Dawson after Showtime has nurtured his entire career. More eyes will be on him than before, and that’s a good thing. The possible opponents for February or March are Mikkel Kessler, a highly intriguing fight, or a rematch with Antonio Tarver, the opposite of a highly intriguing fight, given how easily Dawson defeted Tarver.
Winky Wright could get a slice of Kessler instead in March or April for his own HBO fight. It’s not a bad bout, but not as interesting to me as Dawson-Kessler. Wright wants Calzaghe, too, but that strikes me as an incredibly remote possibility.
Fernando Montiel-Nonito Donaire at 115 lbs. is a go for March, either in the Philippines or Macau on Showtime. I’ve already said how much I like this fight — two guys with skill, speed and power.
Sam Peter is calling out fellow heavyweight Chris Arreola. If Arreola doesn’t fight David Haye the way I’d prefer, I would take Peter-Arreola in a heartbeat. It’s a surefire power-punching brawl, and a very appropriate step up for Arreola.
Versus may broadcast comebacking lightweight Jesus Chavez against either Joel Casamayor, Jorge Barrios or Michael Katsidis, if Golden Boy Promotions gets its wish. Chavez-Casamayor ain’t bad at all, but Chavez-Barrios or Chavez-Katsidis would be some bonkers battles.
The January Andre Berto-Luis Collazo welterweight title fight on HBO could get a junior middleweight Sergio Martinez vs. Joe Greene on the undercard. I like both Martinez and Greene, but I think this may be a leap too far for Greene, given Martinez’ excellence of late and the fact that Greene is still a prospect, and a fairly (ahem) green one at that.
(Sources: Buzzle.com, FightFan.com, BoxingScene.com, ESPN.com, News releases)