Quick Jabs: De La Hoya-Pacquiao MERELY The Second-Biggest Live Gate Ever; Hatton-Malignaggi Odds And Ends; More

Tickets for December’s Oscar De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao fight sold out today, thereby producing the second-richest live gate in the history of boxing. Did you hear that, peoplewhothinkboxingisdead? You just got VINDICATED. It was ONLY the SECOND-biggest live gate in the history of the sport. Oh, I could make excuses — the economy’s not doing so great, you might have heard — but clearly, SECOND-BEST LIVE GATE OF ALL TIME = BOXING IS JUST A FEW INCHES AWAY FROM SIX FEET UNDER.
I don’t know why I even bother, but below, I look at some other De La Hoya-Pacquiao odds and ends, some recent boxing results, some issues surrounding the upcoming Ricky Hatton-Paulie Malignaggi fight (which if I had to guess, is likely to draw a live audience ONLY in the vicinity of 50,000 people) and some other very quick “Quick Jabs.”

De La Hoya-Pacquiao Odds And Ends
Item #1: In some seriousness, the Pacman-Golden Boy live gate haul — almost $17 million, second only to last year’s Floyd Mayweather-Golden Boy live haul of $18.4 — is great news. It is, however, slightly deceptive in its greatness. Only 500 tickets out of the nearly 16,000 were made available to the public Wednesday, with the rest controlled by the promoters. Those tickets are sure to be sold at high prices and/or given to big-timers, so it was a virtual sellout before today anyway, and there’s nothing all that abnormal about this process, but I kind of wish the average joe would’ve had more of a shot at getting into the show. In other good news, it’s just the tip of the iceberg of how much money this is going to make, once pay-per-view revenues, closed circuit TV profits, etc. are included. What else does it tell us? That it came behind Mayweather-De La Hoya is more evidence that this fight probably won’t be as big as that one, as some have predicted. But overall, on days like today, my boxing purist instincts — well-matched fights (which De La Hoya-Pacquiao is likely not) are better than big ones (whichit certainly is) — don’t mind giving way to my happiness about boxing once again establishing that it remains relevant.
Item #2: De La Hoya’s selection of Nacho Beristain as his trainer is about the best he could have made, short of, you know, not shuffling through trainers like they’re Pokemon cards. For a guy whose in-fight discipline is sometimes lacking — say, forgetting to use his jab for no good reason — De La Hoya could benefit from a consistent message in his corner. That said, Beristain is one of Mexico’s greatest trainers, and more importantly, his charge Juan Manuel Marquez has given Pacquiao fits. Marquez and De La Hoya are totally different fighters, but if De La Hoya can pick up some tricks, it can help him offset the tricks that Freddie Roach, Pacquiao trainer and ex-De La Hoya trainer, teaches his charge.
Item #3: Maxboxing.com’s Doug Fischer raised a point this week about Pacquiao’s weight that I hadn’t previously considered and that bears repeating and elaboration. That’s because weight’s probably going to be a deciding factor, if not the deciding factor, in the outcome of the fight, since they’re meeting at 147 lbs., 12 higher than Pacquiao’s ever been and 13 lower than De La Hoya’s high. Anyhow, Fischer noted that Pacquiao did begin his career at 106, sure, but his career began when he was 16. He noted that several fighters at that age were out winning gold, and at weights very similar to Pacquiao’s, like, for example, Floyd Mayweather. This says a few things. One, maybe Pacquiao’s weight disadvantage is not as pronounced as it might seem. Two, given that Mayweather and others might very well have been as accomplished professionally as Pacquiao at his age if they weren’t winning amateur acclaim, maybe his weight-climbing heroics aren’t as glamorous as they seem. Three, Pacquiao’s in the tradition of “throw ’em to the wolves young” that usually marks the careers of Mexicans, and he’s also now tougher to me than he previously seemed (and I already thought he was plenty, plenty, plenty tough).
Hatton-Malignaggi Odds And Ends
For those of you who really think winning some anonymous “belt” is all that important, I offer to you the example of Ricky Hatton. He’s the Ring magazine champ at 140 lbs., which, in my opinion, is what matters most, since it traces its heritage back to the days when there was only one champion. And his next opponent, Paulie Malignaggi, is the IBF champ, one of many junior welterweight belts around. Correction — former IBF champ, as of this week. Why? Well, Malignaggi had the audacity to fight Hatton instead of the IBF wanted him to fight, Herman Ngoudjo. Malignaggi beat Ngoudjo in a controversial fight, but beat him he did, both in my opinion and the opinion of the judges. Now, I like Ngoudjo as a fighter, but of the two, Malignaggi’s taking on the more proven, established foe in Hatton. What did Hatton say about all this? He didn’t give “two hoots” about the IBF belt. “I have won five world titles so does six make any difference? Malignaggi and I are the top light-welterweights around so why should we bother chasing the IBF?” Here, here.
Now, to a fighter who’s never won one of the major belts, getting one is a bigger deal. The belts do indeed sometimes mean more money for the title-holder. And for that reason, I’m glad Ngoudjo is now getting a shot at fighting for some vacant belt or the other with Juan Urango, one of Hatton’s conquests who’s nonetheless a pretty good fighter himself.¬† It should be an entertaining bout. But the belt will be somewhat tainted by the fact that Ngoudjo-Urango is the loser’s bracket of the Hatton-Malignaggi fight; ill-gotten gains, in a way. If you think that the winner of Ngoudjo-Urango is more deserving of the label “champion” than the winner of Hatton-Malignaggi, you are just flat crazy. I think what’s most impressive about the winner of Ngoudjo-Urango is not the title at stake, but the fact that one good fighter will have beaten another.
Odds And Ends On Recent Boxing Results
Would-be lightweight (135 lbs.) champ Jose Armando Santa Cruz just climbed my “snakebitten career” ranks by getting knocked out by a bit of an unknown this past weekend, Antonio Pitalua. He was, of course, from Colombia, which, had I known that, would’ve forced me beforehand to predict a knockout. Nothing like a relatively unknown Colombian to upset that applecart at the delicate point of a boxer’s career. Santa Cruz is the would-be lightweight champ because he got freaking robbed last year when he fought then-Ring champ Joel Casamayor and lost a decision on the scorecards. That’s his first snake bite. Then, because of some promotional strife, his team passed up a pretty decent fight — quality-wise and money-wise — with Michael Katsidis, who ended up fighting Casamayor instead, and Casamayor revitalized his career for a spell by knocking out the exciting Australian. That’s snake bite number two. Now, this. This, by the way, does not mean that Pitalua is somehow the “real” champ at lightweight. All belts are won or lost on the scorecards, and the Ring belt is no exception. Deservedly or no, Casamayor was the “real” lightweight champ until Marquez took that title away from him this month. You don’t hear anyone saying Ngoudjo is the “real” IBF champ, because the scorecards say Malignaggi beat him.
I wish I could figure out what Jorge Arce is up to, and his recent difficult win over Rafael Concepcion is another puzzler. Is Arce having trouble making the 115-pound weight limit, and that’s why he briefly flirted with moving up to 1118? Has he been in too many wars?He’s already signed up to defend his alphabet “interim” title (see what I mean? “interim” title?) against an unknown. As much as I wish Cristian Mijares was fighting Fernando Montiel of Vic Darchinyan, I still — still — pine for Arce-Darchinyan. Both of those fights are awesome.
Celestino Caballero scored an easy knockout over his own relatively unknown opponent, which matters little, except for it clears the way for what I expect to be a very, very, interesting battle in the top-heavy 122-pound division against Steve Molitor. Caballero’s all power and freakish size; Molitor’s all classy boxing skill. Nov. 21 on Showtime. Miss it at your own expense.
Lastly, Peter Quillin’s knockout of Sam Hill, while not that impressive considering it took him forever to do that to a guy who’d lost seven of nine, does set up a potentially interesting fight against James McGirt, Jr. Quillin and McGirt are both intriguing 160-pounders, despite — or because of — the questions surrounding them. They are likely to meet in January on the undercard of John Duddy-Ronald Hearns (154 lbs.), and it’s shaping into a fascinating night of boxing. Four exciting fighters, lots of questions about all involved. P.S., You can make the “what in Sam Hill” jokes if you want. I will refrain.
Odds And Ends Quick Jabs
Arturo Gatti is thinking about making a comeback. Stop there. Details don’t matter. No. No, no, no, no, no, a thousand times no. No fighter who’s taken the kind of punishment he has over his career that Gatti has, and who looked as shot as he did in the fight that retired him — last year against Alfonso Gomez — should risk a comeback. Gatti, please, we love you still. You don’t need the cheers anymore. I hope you don’t need the money still. Stay retired, at all costs, I beg of you…
Felix Trinidad wants to fight still, but only De La Hoya or Bernard Hopkins in 2009, then he says he’ll retire for good. This is another exercise in pointlessness, albeit one not as egregious as the Gatti comeback. Trinidad is one of my favorite all-time fighters — maybe my favorite — but he either needs to get his ass down to less than 168 lbs., which he says he cannot, or prove he can beat someone at that weight. Otherwise, he’s just wasting everyone’s time, although you get the impression his legion of Puerto Rican fans would watch him fight literally anyone — Wladimir Klitschko, Ivan Calderon, it don’t matter — so maybe I shouldn’t say he’d be wasting everyone’s time…
The man who beat Trinidad last, Roy Jones, Jr., is himself making plans to fight in 2009, even though a win over Joe Calzaghe in November is very much a dubious proposition. He wants the winner of Chad Dawson-Antonio Tarver or Hopkins-Kelly Pavlik, neither of which I much care to see unless Jones looks sensational in picking apart Calzaghe. At least we’re moving up the scales of “legit fights featuring over-the-hill boxers” in these here Quick Jabs, no?…
The upside of the cancelled lightweight bout between Nate Campbell and Joan Guzman is that it frees up Showtime dough for Kendall Holt-Ricardo Torres III, a rematch of two exciting, highly controversial fights. I feared Holt might want to move on after twice encountering trouble against fellow junior welter Torres but pulling out the win in the rematch, but it speaks well of him that he’s being all honorable. Torres granted him a rematch he didn’t have to, after all. December is the expectation for this one…
A trilogy I don’t need is Vernon Forrest-Sergio Mora (154 lbs). Forrest doesn’t want it, either, even if Mora does. Fair is fair, somewhat — Mora wins first, Forrest wins second, it’s only fair for there to be a third. But nobody wants to see that one, unlike Holt-Torres III. Thank you, Forrest. Thank you very much…
David Haye will find an opponent for his re-debut at heavyweight. Someday. Eddie Chambers, a good option, just got busy doing something else. It’s looking Monte Barrett-ish, which is what it should’ve looked like from the beginning, really. I like Haye, and I’m not alone, but he’s caught a ton of flack among boxing commentators for the way he’s handled his opponent search, and he’d be wise to conclude it soon, and with someone of the caliber of Barrett, at least…
Humberto Soto, robbed of a victory and 130-pound belt in what should have been scored a knockout of Francisco Lorenzo but instead was scored a disqualification win for Lorenzo, is getting a second title shot against Gamaliel Diaz, who’s done basically nothing of late to deserve a title shot himself. He gave Jorge Linares a tough fight at 126 before getting knocked out, and all he’s done since is knock out a man who owns a 4-7-2 record. For those who think the WBC is among the more reputable sanctioning organizations, you may be right, but, um, “more reputable” does not quite equal “reputable.” In the same way Frankenstein is “more attractive” than the Wolfman, but not quite “attractive”…
I conclude with the first part of a funny news release, below. I love Angulo and think the below-hyped fight is going to be exciting as all get out, and somehow, this pun-filled extravaganze makes me love him more…:
“Undefeated junior middleweight contender ALFREDO ‘PERRO’ ANGULO (13-0, 10 KOs), from Mexico, can‚Äôt wait to sink his teeth into his next victim — Andrey Tsurkan of¬† (26-3, 17 KOs), of Ukraine — in a battle of Top-10 contenders highlighting ‘Night of the Rising Stars II.’ Promoted by Gary Shaw Productions and Ringside Ticket, in association with Star Boxing, DiBella Entertainment and Arena Box-Promotion, ‘Night of the Rising Stars II’ will be televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark, Saturday, October 4, live from the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif., beginning at¬† 10:05 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast.)¬† The televised tripleheader will also feature the World Boxing Council (WBC) interim super welterweight championship between Sergio Martinez and Alex Bunema and a 10-round battle between undefeated featherweights Yuriorkis Gamboa¬† and Marcos Ramirez.
Angulo, whose Spanish ring name ‘Perro’ translates to dog in English, has promised to lay Tsurkan out on all fours.
‘My fists are the paws that refreshes my undefeated record,’ said Angulo from his California-based training camp.¬† ‘I‚Äôm going to hound Tsurkan around the ring until he falls like everyone else I have fought.¬† He‚Äôs going straight in the doghouse on October 4!'”
(Sources: Maxboxing.com, ESPN.com,  news releases, BoxingScene.com, The Canadian Press, UK Express)

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.