I’m getting depressed about leaving town for four days and being without access to a TV Saturday night, what with all the excitement ahead this weekend. There are some random thoughts on it below, plus the return of the “Heavy Bag,” my feature on info coming into my e-mail inbox from promoters and others. Your Quick Jabs for Friday:
Pavlik For President?
Here’s how big a star middleweight (160 lbs.) champ Kelly Pavlik is right now: On Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, campaigning in his home state of Ohio, held up some boxing gloves… in a tribute to Pavlik, she said, but also to make a point about having “a fighter and a champion in the White House again.” Folks, there’s not much bigger a stage than one of the most closely-watched presidential primary races in modern history. I knew Pavlik was big, and before Thursday, I’d probably considered him about the fifth or sixth biggest star in the sport, behind the likes Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto. I didn’t know he was THAT big. That’s third-place big. (Yes, Pacquiao gets mentioned in big political races, too, but they’re in the smaller Philippines. And Mayweather has rubbed shoulders with Barrack Obama, besides crossing over to the mainstream big-time in 2007.) If he wins again Saturday night in his rematch with Jermain Taylor, he could vault into the next stratosphere.
Putting politics aside, the coverage of Pavlik-Taylor II has been excellent, despite the fact that in the minds of some, its luster is diminished by the weird 166 lbs. catchweight and the fact that Taylor is a heavy underdog. My admired comrade Sean provided a link to a really big-picture piece yesterday that touches on Pavlik. I provided my own preview of the fight yesterday.
TheSweetScience.com has been covering the bejesus out of it, especially with the aid of new pickup Ron Borges, among the top handful of boxing writers in the biz, who joined the site as of this week. Here are the three best pieces of late, but explore them all. I contributed a prediction at the site as part of their “Prediction Page,” here.
ESPN.com has once again created a pre-fight blog — I love that they do this. You get a lot of details about what’s going on in the build-up to a fight, like you’re almost there. They’ve also had excellent previews of the issues here, here and here.
Sports Illustrated, to underscore how big a star Pavlik has become, did its own profile of him.
Maxboxing.com has refused to ignore the tremendous undercard of Pavlik-Taylor II. They previewed it here.
Don’t Forget The Rest Of The Weekend
The undercard of Pavlik-Taylor II — featuring Cristian Mijares-Jose Navarro and Fernando Montiel-Martin Castillo in the stacked 115-pound weight class — constitutes the best of the rest of the weekend.
But two second-tier heavyweights and recent belt-holders will square off for another alphabet title shot Saturday night in Germany: Giant 7’0″, 300 lbs.-plus Nicolay Valuev versus alternately-brilliant, alternately-underwhelming Sergei Liakhovich. Both men have disappointing losses in their recent past. In 2007, Valuev got pot-shotted by Ruslan Chagaev into a loss last year, while Liakhovich got knocked out of the ring and out for good with mere seconds left to go by Shannon Briggs. I’ve no prediction for the two major Pavlik-Taylor II undercard fights, having seen plenty of Montiel but little of the others; but I say Liakhovich wins the heavyweight contest by a fairly conclusive decision, relying mostly on his speed and the same game plan of Chagaev.
Strange Saga, Part I
Forgive my turning this into “link day,” but there’s a very strange saga unfolding in Mexico involving Filipino prospect Rodel Mayol. Read all about it here; it featured strange refereeing, an apparent bait-and-switch, a lost paycheck and Mayol quitting out of frustration. I don’t make any claim to the accuracy of stories I don’t write, but it sure is fascinating reading. Take comfort in knowing that Mayol finally got paid, at least, apparently.
Strange Saga, Part II
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer says that his boss, De La Hoya, and Pacquiao are still on a possible collision course, maybe for De La Hoya’s farewell fight in late 2008 or early 2009. I simply can’t diss this idea enough. Every chance I get, I want to say something bad about it. De La Hoya began his career at around 130, 135 pounds, has fought as high as 160, and his most recent fights have been at 154. Pacquiao has only even been at 130 since 2005, having started his career at 108. Even if Pacquiao is struggling to make his current weight, he’s just not anywhere near as big as De La Hoya, physically, and even if they fight at 147 or so — a weight De La Hoya would have trouble making at his age — Pacquiao is not going to be any kind of threat to De La Hoya. It’s just goofy to pretend this would be a good fight.
The Heavy Bag
One of the more overlooked fight cards in the great February-March sequence is the Don King Productions-promoted March 8 double-header, “History in Cancun”… Heavyweights Oleg Maskaev and Sam Peter are finally scheduled to square off, after many delays, and the lightweight (135 lbs.) match-up between Juan Diaz and Nate Campbell is good stuff, too… Worth noting is two undercard fights of significance recently added to the card: aging but not quite washed-up Jose Luis Castillo vs. the more up-and-coming Tim Bradley at 140 lbs., as well as frustrating-but-talented heavyweights John Ruiz-Jameel McCline against one another…. Tickets via Ticketmaster, broadcast on HBO…
Canadians, if you don’t know it already: 122-pounder Steve “The Canadian Kid” Molitor is gearing up for his next battle north of the border, in his second straight NAFTA Superhighway battle against Mexican Fernando Beltran, Jr…. says in the news release that Beltran’s his “toughest challenge to date”… I still want to see the gifted and watchable Molitor in against a top 122-pounder, here, in America, but if you want tickets for his April 5 Ontario battle, try (416) 870-8000 or casinorama.com, beginning noon on Saturday… Molitor’s a hot ticket in Canada, so buy fast…