Quick Jabs: Big-Name Boxers Have Dumb Money-Throwing Fight, A Star’s Self-Immolation, More

This week’s “Quick Jabs” pinpoints what’s stalling a star’s career, visits the ongoing tsunami that is Mike Tyson’s life, ridicules a “Make It Rain”-off between two big names in the sport and previews the weekend’s battles. Additionally, I’m instituting a new feature as I begin getting news announcements from promoters et al at my request, and as others who’ve thought kindly enough of our blog to see fit to send us news independently. I’ll call the round-up of the best of these releases “The Heavy Bag.” Like a mailbag. Or like the heavy bag that boxers hit. Or both at the same time. Whatever, it’s dumb, but I want to call it something. The Idiotic Behavior Of The Unlikable Dumb, dumb, dumb. There’s no other way to describe the recent TMZ footage of ex-ring rivals Floyd Mayweather and Zab Judah having a club duel over who’s richer. At the Bacchanalian scene, Mayweather and Judah first bought copious amounts of expensive champagne for the club-goers, then Mayweather “made it rain” by throwing money on the dance floor, then Judah won the whole contest by upping his champagne buy to $50,000. I’ve got nothing against rich people. A lot of them, like Bill Gates, do some pretty amazing things with all their money to help make the world a better place. But this goes directly to the heart of why Mayweather is not likable for vast amounts of the populace. As I’ve said before, flaunting one’s money is not going to impress whole swaths of America. It’ll do just the opposite. The people who got free $1,000 bottles of champagne may be pleased, but for those who are sympathetic to, I dunno, poverty, or who are poor themselves, vulgar displays of wasting cash just won’t win over any hearts. The whole concept of people leaping down to to scrape up wads of money from a dance floor is simply too degrading for me to enjoy. At least one aspect of it was entertaining. Judah, as Mayweather accurately quipped at the time, has a reputation as a “front-runner.” He meant it not in the traditional sense of the phrase, but as a way to describe Judah’s tendency to do well only at the beginning of fights. Judah won the cash battle this past weekend, but just like when Mayweather and Judah fought in the ring and Mayweather eventually overtook him, Mayweather’s going to win the money war. Judah’s without a fight now, having priced himself out of a big showdown with fellow welterweight (147 lbs.) contender Antonio Margarito, who is instead rematching with Kermit Cintron. After the $250,000 fine he endured for fouling Mayweather in their first fight, I guess he likes just giving money away, unless it’s for back child support in the order of $60,000 (his alleged failure to pay that amount landed him in jail not long ago). But hey, it’s not as if Judah — whose last important fight was him kicking a man being held down on the street — is out to win hearts. Whatever poetry there is in seeing him win now to lose later, at least he’s not a hypocrite who pretends, like Mayweather, to be friendly for one audience while using anti-gay slurs for another. Maybe there’s a poetic cosmic retribution out there for Mayweather somewhere, too. Winky Wright Shoulders The Blame For His Stalled Career ESPN’s website had an interesting feature this week on Winky Wright, one of the top 10 fighters in the world, pound-for-pound, and his failure to land a big fight. The article mentioned a number of valid reasons why it’s hard for Wright to secure big money — his counter-punching style, etc. What it only halfway touches upon is how much of Wright’s inability to land a big fight is his fault. More than anything, Wright’s pattern of insane money expectations have made it impossible for him to score a fight against a fellow big name on a big stage since last year’s loss to Bernard Hopkins. The pattern goes back a ways. In 2006, Wright had the opportunity for a rich rematch with then-middleweight (160 lbs.) champ Jermain Taylor, but he insisted on a 50-50 split — virtually unheard of in bouts where one fighter holds title belts. The only exception is when one fighter is clearly the draw for fans, and at that time Wright and Taylor were roughly even in star power, albeit in vastly different ways, with the edge probably going to Taylor. It’s remarkable that he and Hopkins were able to come to a deal for their meeting, given the tendency of both to negotiate themselves out of fights. Wright’s spent months calling out Oscar De La Hoya, the biggest cash machine in boxing, but that fight just isn’t going to happen. Wright needs to come back to planet earth, then maybe he can win a big-money contract. Car Crash Tyson Attraction Still Has Fuel, Somehow Oh, Mike Tyson. Must you hang around and soak up attention that might otherwise be devoted to active fighters? In a recent interview, thankfully, he acknowledged that he’s not really, really thinking about trying to score a third fight with Evander Holyfield. He also recently got snubbed by a South African leader who pulled out of a charity dinner honoring Tyson in that country. Women’s groups there were not pleased at the idea of the leader, cleared of rape charges once himself, hanging around with Tyson, a convicted rapist. I guess it’s nice that Tyson’s raising money for charity, but according to this piece, organizers had claimed he would make a statement decrying violence against women, which he did not do. That’s an unpleasant signal to send. Other than mentioning his name in a historical context, I’ve steadily avoided mentioning Tyson. I bring up these cases only as an excuse to beg: Can we just stop talking about the guy? He was a great fighter, really fun to watch, at one point about the biggest star in the world, and, when he stopped being good and became merely a spectacle, it’s understandable why he’d still be under discussion. For a while. But his post-good-fighter years have been spent in and out of court, doing depressing spectacle-like things, and just generally being pitiful. Please, let’s leave him alone and not give him headlines on ESPN or otherwise treat him as if he is relevant. Three Crowd-Pleasers In Action The weekend offers three fights featuring three boxers who are fan-friendly in their own way, two of whom are prospects in against somewhat steep competition and a third pitting a ring veteran against a fellow vet. First up Friday on Showtime is all-action prospect Alfredo Angulo, with just 11 fights under his belt, all wins, in his toughest test against Ricardo Cortes, with more than double the number of fights and just one loss. Angulo’s first round assault and defeat of Archak TerMeliksetian was overshadowed by fellow junior middleweight (154 lbs.) prospect James Kirkland’s first round KO of Allen Conyers in a dramatic, see-saw affair. Maxboxing has a well-done feature on Angulo this week here. Amir Khan, the ultra-talented 135-pound prospect-turning-contender and a personal favorite, takes on his first former titleholder in Gairy St. Clair Saturday night. Khan was spotlighted at ESPN’s website this week, and the angle on the piece was about how he’s the future of British boxing. The British media’s understandably abuzz about what most everyone thinks of as Khan’s most difficult fight to date. Down in the Philippines Saturday evening, 115-pound puncher Vic Darchinyan will try to out-slug Z Gorres, a southpaw boxer who will try to out-slick Darchinyan. This is Darchinyan’s first real test at the weight since moving up last year from 112 lbs., where Gorres is a top 10 contender. Darchinyan is, flatly, a punk, but his bizarre crab-like ring movement and world-class punching power make him an entertaining show. Gorres could frustrate him, though. The last speedy Filipino Darchinyan fought, Nonito Donaire, knocked him out with a highlight-reel left hook. Heavy Bag At a workout in Ohio, middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik and trainer Jack Loew had some things to say about Feb. 16 rematch opponent Taylor and his adviser/new trainer Ozell Nelson… Pavlik: “I know Taylor wants redemption, he’s a competitor, but that may be his downfall. I can tell he is more intent on beating me than on winning the fight and believe me, there is a difference in those philosophies.”… Loew said Pavlik’s gotten better as a result of being champ, is already at fighting weight and that Taylor has proven he doesn’t learn well: “He’s [Ozell Nelson] the guy who taught him [Jermain Taylor] all his bad habits, so I’m thankful Jermain brought him back. Taylor has a lot more to correct than we do. We’ll correct our mistakes; it’s a matter of will he?” (Tickets on sale now through Ticketmaster and the MGM Grand)… Speaking of Pavlik, his first KO victim in 2007, Jose Luis Zertuche, hasn’t been in the ring since, and no wonder, given the viciousness of the knockout; but now Zertuche’s back, fighting fellow tough Mexican Marco Antonio Rubio Feb. 9… Said Zertuche: “I took time off and made some changes in life and my career,” and, “I have found better sparring there and I’m learning some new tricks. My defense had to improve but my aggressiveness is still the key to my success in the ring”… Good luck to Zertuche, an admirable fighter (see him on the Latin Fury pay-per-view card)… DiBella Entertainment’s “Broadway Boxing” series in New York City returns March 5, with Edgar Santana and Gary Stark headlining (tickets available in early February via 212-947-2577)… The website indieloo.com hopes to build up a library of fights for replay at around $6-$9, but has started with Judah’s Nov. 17 fight with Ryan Davis…

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.