Quick Jabs, Featuring Sylvester Stallone, All The Action At Light Heavyweight/Super Middleweight And More

Four rather unfocused “Quick Jabs” here touching on a number of shorter topics, from Rocky to an ongoing lottery:

Eat Lightning, Crap Thunder
I’m pleased as punch that Rocky Balboa himself will drop by a press conference Friday to hype Bernard Hopkins-Joe Calzaghe, but at the same time I can’t help but think grumpily, “What a waste.” Don’t get me wrong, Hopkins-Calzaghe (light heavyweight, 175 lbs.) is one of the three most important fights that could be made in boxing, since both men are, in my estimation, two of the top five boxers roaming the canvas these days. Before it was finally signed, I yelled for it to happen every chance I got.
But I’ve also always cautioned that it could be a terribly boring fight. It’s not so much Calzaghe’s fault, who’s so busy in the ring he guarantees action. But that B-Hop… he’s only intermittently enjoyable to view these days. He’s so crafty in there, but only a purist can take true pleasure in much of it. Lots of dodging, feinting, clever cheating.
Rocky showing up will guarantee some extra press. It’s an awfully bright promotional tactic, which I’ve called for boxing to use more of to build off its successes of 2007. It’s the kind of thing that will probably translate into viewers. That means the general public that doesn’t watch boxing very often will be drawn into what could be a boring affair. Which means that yet another fight will draw in viewers who don’t watch boxing very often who could see another so-so battle, like they did for Floyd Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya I.
That means we hardcore boxing fans who root for the sport to succeed need B-Hop to really bring it this time, if we hope to keep these irregular viewers tuned in for other fights. I am repulsed by the use of performance-enhancing drugs, but if the Fountain of Youth IS out there, and someone knows where it is, please give Hopkins directions.
Why can’t anyone get this innovative about promoting, say, Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez II, or Rafael Marquez-Israel Vasquez III, both in March? The below video speaks for itself, but somebody has to let the general public know that it’s even happening:

Pick A Number Between 168 And 175
The Hopkins-Calzaghe clash on April 19 is but one fight that’s making things exciting between super middleweight (168 lbs.) and light heavy. There’s a light heavyweight fight I’m looking forward to immensely April 12 between Glen Johnson and Chad Dawson. Former light heavyweight champ Antonio Tarver’s been booked to fight on that same Showtime card against everyone from TBA to Jeff Lacy. Latest word is that he’ll be fighting Clinton Woods that night. If true — lo and behold, Tarver’s going to fight someone who’s actually talented after taking on two patsies in a row and turning everyone against him.
The Feb. 7 rematch between Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor is technically at super middleweight, even though it’s at the agreed-upon weight of 166 lbs. And last weekend’s Roy Jones-Felix Trinidad battle was in the same ballpark, at 170 lbs. It could make for a lot of interesting match-ups. Maybe someone can even drag Zsolt Erdei into a fight against a non-patsy, instead of making a living off not-so-deserving mandatory title challengers; Danny Green’s calling him out, and that’d do the trick. (More bashing of the sanctioning organizations: Miguel Cotto must fight Yuriy Nuzhnenko by December to keep his WBA belt. That’s right. Yuriy Nuzhnenko. Who? Precisely. In the historically loaded welterweight [147 lbs.] division, that’s the guy they consider most deserving of a title fight? Unbelievable.)
Heavyweights Loom On The Horizon, Indeed
Sean did a good job of breaking down Saturday’s heavyweight showdown between Alexander Povetkin and Eddie Chambers. I just wanted to add a few of my own thoughts.
Despite having dissed either’s chance of beating Vladimir Klitschko after this little tournament ends, I really liked the idea of the four-person tournament itself to fight him, and I like that the end result. We get a very nice prospect-vs.-prospect scrap. Both fighters are good, and enjoyable in their own ways. It’s an excellent style contrast.
I’ve spent some time recently watching Povetkin, and I see why people are so high on him. He’s got fast hands, he’s got some good defense, he hits hard and he’s wise beyond his years in the ring. One of the factors I think could be crucial is the judging. ESPN had a feature debunking the myth of bad decisions for hometown fighters in Germany, but there have been enough of them to be worried. Given Chambers’ tendency not to throw many punches — or, at least, because he’s so stationary sometimes, it LOOKS like he’s not throwing many punches — it could skew the scoring further if Povetkin just seems like he’s working harder.
For those and other reasons, I pick Povetkin to win by close decision. Besides outworking Chambers, I also think he’ll impress the judges with his harder punches. Chambers doesn’t much mind getting hit, and he does pick off a lot of punches with that high guard, so I doubt there’ll be a knockout. If there is, obviously that favors Povetkin.
Who Will Win The De La Hoya Lottery?
The smart money on who will get to be De La Hoya’s tune-up victim in May leans toward Steve Forbes. Forbes makes the most sense in some ways — he fights the most like Mayweather; among the three 140-pounders De La Hoya’s looking to pick on, he’s at least fought as high 149, the approximate vicinity of the May fight; and he looks to be the cheapest.
Paulie Malignaggi, according to an educated guestimate from a specially-situated boxing attorney named Kurt Emhoff over at No Mas, is still the most likely candidate for Ricky Hatton’s return. In fact, rumor is (don’t remember where it was reported) it could be on the same card with De La Hoya’s fight. And as ESPN’s Dan Rafael noted, he’s the one most likely to pull the upset of De La Hoya, so scratch that.
Dmitriy Salita is the least viable option, but the documentary about his life — titled “Orthodox Stance” in a shrewd allusion to both his Jewish faith and the boxing term for “right-handed” — is getting all kinds of great publicity and good reviews. I’ll be seeing it as soon as I get a chance, and rooting for Salita to get a fight that would put him on a big stage in the ring to capitalize on his newfound fame.
Jones, coming off his win over Trinidad, is even talking about making 156 pounds for a De La Hoya fight. That’s what sane people like to call “crazy talk.” Who isn’t Jones calling out now among the top names, by the way? And why wasn’t he doing it when he should’ve? I’m guessing money’s harder to come by these days than when he ruled the roost. He just got a bunch more of it — his extraordinary $8 million purse for fighting Trinidad was slated to grow based on some excellent pay-per-view numbers… At least 500,000 reportedly bought this one!
Vernon Forrest wants a piece of De La Hoya, too, according to a recent Boxingtalk interview. That won’t work as a tune-up, because that’s a real fight. Forrest may just have to wait for Antonio Margarito, who is talking about moving up to 154 to fight Forrest, also according to Boxingtalk. Hedging his bets in case a Miguel Cotto fight falls through, I guess? (Incidentally, while I think Margarito has the precise style to upset Cotto, I think Vernon Forrest has the precise style to defeat Margarito. Just goes to show that a supposedly “better” fighter won’t always win if he gets in against a style he doesn’t fare well against.)
Ah, the intrigue. Good luck to the De La Hoya lottery contestants. Pot of gold on the other end.

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.