What’s the “more,” you ask? Why, it’s the return of “The Heavy Bag,” plus some discussion of more fights in the works. Quick Jabs, right below:
Accidental Steroid Taker Sued By Party Alleged To Have Caused The Accident
News is not encouraging for welterweight (147 lbs.) star Shane Mosley: He’s been hit with a defamation lawsuit from a former trainer whom Mosley had blamed for injecting him with steroids. Mosley took steroids unknowingly, of course, like all steroid “victims” in sports. Whenever someone’s accused of steroid abuse, a common rejoinder is that if the accused is really sincere in his or her denials, he or she should file suit against the accuser. This is something of a turning of the tables. If Mosley has nothing to hide, as he has often proclaimed, presumably he’ll be happy to answer his trainer in court.
Speaking Of Steroids
Ack, Tommy Morrison is back. In a “special” four-round bout on this weekend’s “Latin Fury” pay-per-view card, the former Great White Hope, Rocky V star, admitted steroid user and on-again-off-again-AIDS-victim will fight someone with a 3-0-2 record. Morrison has 47 wins, so that is some kind of mismatch. At 39, Morrison is calling 2008 his “final whirl.” Would that it hadn’t even come to that. Morrison’s refusal to name the doctor who declared him AIDS-free is as suspicious as all get-out. The heavyweight is little more than a sideshow at this point in his career, and it’s not a credit to the sport of boxing that he’s returned. His reappearance on the program of a legit organization (Top Rank) is embarrassing for every party involved.
Lackluster Fury, But More Promising Fight Cards Elsewhere
I’ve already previewed the most important fights of the weekend, and left off the “Latin Fury” card because it’s pretty lackluster. Welterweight Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., in another showcase fight, is the main draw. Exciting 115-pounder Jorge Arce was to be in his own showcase fight, but pulled out with an injury. That leaves, basically, a potentially interesting slugfest between tough but not-especially-relevant middleweights (160 lbs.) Jose Luis Zertuche and Marco Antonio Rubio. If this makes money for Top Rank somehow, it’s had to blame them for putting on the show.
To Top Rank’s credit, they’re spotlighting more palatable fare tonight on free channel Vs., when 140-pounders Kendall Holt and Ben Tackie square off. Holt, a top-10 caliber junior welterweight, is returning from a shockingly poorly-officiated loss to Ricardo Torres down in Colombia, while Tackie is an all-out spark plug who has played the role of gatekeeper at and around the division for a long while. Tackie’s never in a bad fight because of his go-get-’em style, while Holt, at his best, flashes all the talent you could ever want. If Holt is to convince boxing fans that his setbacks are but flukes, and wants to get back through the gate to lofty status, he needs to look good against Tackie.
In a non-televised affair Saturday, heavyweight prospect Chris Arreola will fight Cliff Couser, a moderately credible opponent at this stage of Arreola’s career.
An Extreme Case Of Jumping The Gun
Sometimes, it’s easy for a hot prospect and/or his team to get ahead of the learning curve. Trainer Emmanuel Steward’s unrelenting hype of Andy Lee is one such instance. Calling Lee as good as fellow former middleweight and all-time great Sugar Ray Robinson, as Steward has, is blasphemous, of course, and is so far out there it hasn’t previously warranted mentioning in this space. Saying that Lee could beat Kelly Pavlik right now is less blasphemous, and does warrant mentioning.
Steward has an eye for talent, to be sure, and an excellent track record of improving boxers under his banner. Lee does have incredible power and all-around skills, certainly. But experience-wise, he’s worlds behind Kelly Pavlik. When a fighter’s ready, he’s ready; just look at the quick ascendancy of Mike Tyson or Floyd Mayweather at very young ages. But those guys had been stepped up in talent of opposition on a far steeper slope and with significantly more amateur experience than Lee. They also got their first belts against less dangerous competition than Pavlik would constitute. Steward should move Lee more swiftly than he has been moved, no doubt, because he’s blowing out the competition; but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
If Pavlik beats John Duddy this summer, as a fight under negotiation would have it, and Lee fares well against significantly more advanced opponents than he has been, then, maybe, the talks between Steward and Pavlik’s team for a late-2008 match-up might warrant any kind of consideration (and give Pavlik, a Caucasian, an all-Caucasian second half of 2008 — how’s that for “marketing to the Midwest?”). I’d still bet the farm on Pavlik, though, and think it would be unwise to deal a gifted prospect like Lee such an early career setback. One suspects Steward might be underestimating Pavlik again — as he did when former Steward charge Jermain Taylor got knocked out by “The Ghost” — just as much as he’s overestimating Lee.
On The Merry-Go-Round Of “Maybe” Fights
Mosley, apparently, is looking to upgrade his competition from an anticipated comeback fight against Ricardo Mayorga. The aforementioned welterweight star, according to Fightnews.com, has a verbal agreement with Zab Judah for May 31. That’s a far more appealing match-up. Speed vs. speed, underrated power vs. underrated power, two legit top welterweights going at it instead of a legit top welterweight against a guy who hasn’t been a factor at welterweight for years.
Maxboxing.com’s Steve Kim confirmed that Mayorga’s no longer in the picture, then threw out some possible upcoming deals himself. The possibility of a featherweight (126 lbs.) battle between wild-swinging Daniel Ponce De Leon and smooth-as-butta Jorge Linares is all kinds of a clusterf**k, as detailed in his column. If De Leon did, for some reason, feel comfortable at the weight, then maybe this’d be a fun one.
Face-first power-puncher James Kirkland apparently isn’t going to be fighting the likewise-oriented Joel Julio in a battle of two prospects/borderline contenders at junior middleweight (154 lbs.) anytime soon. That’s too bad. Way too bad. The proposed alternative opponents for May 17 include the fading-but-sturdy Carlos Baldomir, career-flubbing-but-talented Travis Simms and unknown-to-me Eromosele Albert. The first two, at least, are acceptable opponents, and both would give us a sense of whether Kirkland is ready for stardom. On the same card would be Alfredo Angulo, another power-punching junior middleweight, against Andrey Tsurkan, who sounds about right for this phase of Angulo’s career.
One of the best couple junior middleweights in the world, Vernon Forrest, meanwhile, could face the victor of Season 1 of “The Contender,” Sergio Mora. Would it be at middleweight, Mora’s division? It’s unclear, but Forrest needs a big money fight as his career winds down and Mora needs to prove he’s any good, so this offers both a chance, if it happens.
The Heavy Bag, Pavlik/Taylor Edition
HBO informs my gmail in-box that it’s broadcasting the countdown show for Pavlik/Taylor II — scheduled for Feb. 16 — after this Saturday night’s Boxing After Dark card… Always look forward to these things.. Pay-per-view, tickets available for the rematch live via MGM Grand and Ticketmaster…
The undercard for Pavlik/Taylor II features any number of high-quality 115-pounders battling it out… said Martin Castillo of his opponent, Fernando Montiel: “Montiel thinks I am a runner – that’s what I read on the Internet – but that is not true. I am going in banging….I don’t like what he is saying about me and my style”… Underdog Jose Navarro said of his opponent, Cristian Mijares: “Mijares has a lot of weapons. I know that. But he is standing in the way of my dreams”…
Here are some more Tommy Morrison quotes, the first of which is, at least, entertaining: “My girlfriend got tired of me sitting around the house all day, and told me to start fighting again, or go get a real job”… “If my hands hold up, I’d like to fight once a month. We’ll take it one fight at a time, and see how it goes. But it’s sure a good feeling to be back in the ring again”… on pay-per-view “Latin Fury” card Saturday, $34.95…