Sandwiched between interesting weekends in boxing if not quite big ones comes this edition of “Quick Jabs,” featuring members of Congress, the Utah Jazz, the Statue of Liberty and spies — all sandwiched themselves between copious gobs of info-tainment about pugilism.
The Weekend Ahead
Any weekend that features Yuriorkis Gamboa automatically becomes A YURIORKIS GAMBOA! WEEKEND at my house. You’d be sensible to make it the same at Casa Whoever You Are, because Gamboa is an offensive machine, the kind who can deliver a Knockout of the Year candidate in any fight. In fact, he did just that in his last fight. The featherweight (126 lbs.) is taking on what has the looks of his toughest test yet in a fellow unbeaten, Marcos Ramirez, who also has 15 more fights in his career than the 11-0 Gamboa does. Each share a common win, over Adailton De Jesus, but aside from a Gamboa slip incorrectly ruled a knockdown, Gamboa had a far easier time with De Jesus than Ramirez did in a close-ish fight that went the distance in May of 2007. Ramirez hasn’t fought since then for some reason. That said, Ramirez’ chin is acclaimed, so it’s a test either way: A. Of Gamboa’s considerable power or B. What he can do with a guy who’s gonna stick around for the whole fight. Mainly, it’ll be a test of whether Gamboa can KEEP HIS GLOVES THE HELL UP. It’s the biggest hole in his game, the one that led to a legit knockdown two fights ago at 130 lbs. I think Gamboa’s got a good chin, and it should be better at 126. But you can’t leave it dangling out there against decent competition.
Incidentally, I’m all the more worried about Gamboa’s decision to go with Don King Productions as his promoter now that DKP’s incumbent top prospect, junior welterweight (140 lbs.) Devon Alexander, is complaining that he wants to be released by DKP because DKP isn’t getting him very many fights. That is a bad, bad omen.
And yet, as much as I love Gamboa, the HBO triple-header he’s on Saturday evening could have two better fights than his. Alex Bunema has two highlight reel knockouts of his own this year, and he’s facing fellow top-10 junior middleweight (154 lbs.) Sergio Martinez in a fight many expect to be a barnburner. I’m most looking forward to Alfredo Angulo’s junior middleweight war-to-be with Andrey Tsurkan. Both have that “too proud to do anything but stand and slug” thing going for them, so it should be good while it lasts.
There’s a Shobox card on Friday night, along with two inexplicable pay-per-views. Arthur Abraham’s mandatory middleweight (160 lbs.) alphabet title defense against Raul Marquez is the most important of them, because Abraham could fight either Winky Wright or Kelly Pavlik next year, or both. Pavlik-Abraham in particular is a highly meaningful and excellently matched bout, but because Wright and Abraham can both make a claim to be the #1 challenger to Pavlik’s undisputed middleweight championship, that’s pretty interesting, too. But first Abraham has to beat Marquez, a determined if overmatched opponent. The other pay-per-view event features Juan Manuel Lopez, a 122-pound sensation who is the only legit challenger to YURIORKIS GAMBOA! for the Tim Starks title of Favorite Young Rising Star, but he’s not fighting anyone all that serious. If he wins, as expected, there’s a probable slot for him on the undercard of Oscar De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao on Dec. 6, which I’ll get to in just a minute.
The Weekend Behind
There were lots of good thoughts in the comments section of my recent post on Shane Mosley, so let’s explore Sugar a little more — especially what happened in the fight and what he might do next.
Mosley explained his lackluster performance a few different ways. (And despite some outrage about the scorecards that had the fight close before Mosley scored the knockout, Maxboxing.com’s Doug Fischer said many ringside reporters had Mosley losing going into the 12th.) The fact that while both men weighed in at 154, Mosley gained around 10 pounds by fight night and his opponent, Ricardo Mayorga, went all the way up to 170, meant that his punches had less effect. It also meant that Mayorga was able to tire Mosley by rough-housing him. Mosley also said his movement became limited because he developed blood blisters on his feet by pivoting so much to score counters. And, of course, Mayorga is an awkward opponent for anyone. So that’s that. Unless it was that he’s showing his age, finally, and doesn’t want to admit it. We won’t know until he fights again.
If he fights again. Mosley could continue to make a decent living in boxing, although I would steer him clear of prime pound-for-pounders like Antonio Margarito. I could see him making good fights up-and-comers like Josh Clottey or Andre Berto. Berto promoter Lou Dibella had the same two thoughts: “”If they let Shane Mosley fight Antonio Margarito, they should be arrested,” DiBella told ESPN.com. “Margarito would put Shane in a pine box. I would put Berto in with Shane Mosley right now.” And I could see Mosley doing a rubber match with De La Hoya or Vernon Forrest. No matter what “indecent proposal” Mosley promoter Golden Boy Promotions claims it will make to Floyd Mayweather, I don’t see it being enough money to lure him out of retirement, nor do I see Mosley having enough left in the tank to deal with Mayweather, who should’ve fought Mosley a long, long time ago.
Mosley could, if he so chose, leave on the ultimate high note. What he did by scoring a knockout in the last second of the last round could, if Mosley retires, be the equivalent of Michael Jordan finishing off the Utah Jazz with his final shot before retiring. (The less said about his return with the Wizards, the better.) Think it over, Mr. Mosley.
In other news: I hadn’t seen this Wall Street Journal piece on Ricardo Mayorga prior to the fight. Via Deadspin. I’m pleased by the degree to which the WSJ has been dipping its foot into the boxing world. Keep dipping, WSJ. Also, there was some criticism of the fight being poorly promoted, which relates to another point I’ll get to in a second.
Weekly De La Hoya-Pacquiao Notes
This isn’t a regular feature yet, but it’s getting that way. There are enough tidbits every week to discuss in advance of the biggest fight of 2008, the 147-pound showdown between the sport’s top star (De La Hoya) and its pound-for-pound king (Pacquiao) on Dec. 6.
Tomorrow, De La Hoya-Pacquiao gets announced officially at the Statue of Liberty. Nice one, Golden Boy Promotions. That should net a bit more coverage, I would think. Likewise with the national media tour where other siteseeing attractions, like the Sears Tower, will be featured prominently. Boxing needs to show this kind of moxie every chance it gets. However, it does make you wonder why De La Hoya’s promotional company really only seems to pull out all the stops for its big boss man. Why should there be complaints about the promotion for the Mosley show or the lightweight (135 lbs.) championship fight between Juan Manuel Marquez and Joel Casamayor, neither of which had particularly strong live gates? It’s great to do it for the biggest of the big fights, but throwing a little extra promotional muscle behind the tier or two below that wouldn’t hurt, GBP.
And this strikes me as a problem in other regards. De La Hoya has hand-picked opponents that other members of the GBP stable might want for themselves. Mosley, for instance, wanted Mayweather, but De La Hoya claimed him — twice, before Mayweather retired. Mosley wanted a rematch with Cotto, but if Cotto had beaten Margarito, De La Hoya would’ve taken him instead. Marquez is the GBP stablemate currently left out in the cold by De La Hoya’s opponent choice, because Pacquiao is Marquez’ white whale. I get that he’s the boss, but if you’re a Golden Boy fighter between 130 and 160 right now, you can’t be thrilled about that trend.
So even though there’s been some complaining about the idea of putting Marquez on the De La Hoya-Pacquiao undercard, it’s the least GBP could do. Marquez wants to fight again in December. Marquez wants Pacquiao ASAP; a Marquez showcase against the likes of Carlos Hernandez could help build appetites for Marquez-Pacquiao III, although a more evenly-matched bout against Nate Campbell would make more sense, and give Campbell a 2008 payday after he lost out on one when Joan Guzman pulled out of their September fight.
That would bolster an undercard that, if GBP really wants to revive boxing, must be excellent. Lots of eyes that don’t usually pay attention to boxing will do so for De La Hoya-Pacquiao. I’d really like to see Juan Manuel Lopez in against a very dangerous opponent on that undercard, because he’s a future star. Or something like that, plus a quality match between TV-friendly fighters along the lines of Marquez-Campbell. As it is, the undercards to two other late-2008 bouts that could draw some mainstream attention, Kelly Pavlik-Bernard Hopkins (170 lbs.) and Joe Calzaghe-Roy Jones Jr. (light heavyweight, 175 lbs.), don’t look like they’re going to have much to offer. For shame.
Quicker Quick Jabs
So welterweight (147 lbs.) titlist Clottey wants a piece of Paul Williams, and Clottey’s team says it’s just as simple as Williams calling up Clottey promoter Top Rank, huh? Except: Did everyone forget that Top Rank boss Bob Arum is currently refusing to do business with Williams’ management team? If Williams-Clottey happens, after Arum has cited his grudge as the reason he won’t let Margarito and Williams have a rematch, it will prove that Arum has other motives in keeping Margarito away from Williams…
Reader Bruce pointed it out in the comments section here, but it’s kinda kooky that Vitali Klitschko is the betting favorite over current heavyweight titleholder Sam Peter for their Oct. 11 fight, since Peter, unlike Klitschko, has fought in the last three years or so…
Dan Rafael’s latest blog entry scratches at the Arturo Gatti unretirement rumors and finds out they are not true. Whew…
I love should-be-retired heavyweight James Toney and venerated commentator Larry Merchant. But both were spouting some serious gibberish last week in their respective appearances on Versus and HBO, Toney because his words were garbled and Merchant because he was kicking some kind of crazy, non-sensical metaphors. Toney may be headed toward a fight with Tony Thompson — I heard that much…
Speaking of Klitschko-Peter, I don’t have a clue what to make of this story, about spying operations for that bout…
I like the concept of this “Al Bernstein Boxing on iBN Sports,” primarily because of the weigh-in coverage and that kind of thing. I’ll visit, although we’ll see if there’s enough of a market for it…
Republican Rep. Peter King, a New York congressman with whom I’ve discussed boxing in my day job — he sparred, a couple years ago, with Oleg Maskaev — has sponsored and won passage of a resolution “expressing the sense of Congress that the president should grant a posthumous pardon to John Arthur ‘Jack’ Johnson for the 1913 racially motivated conviction of Johnson, which diminished his athletic, cultural and historic significance, and tarnished his reputation.” No word yet on when or if the Senate will take up a companion resolution sponsored by GOP presidential nominee John McCain…
A couple months back, friend-of-the-site David Schraub gave me a little hell over at his excellent blog, The Debate Link, for criticizing the WBC’s decision to ignore the official and highly controversial ref’s decision on Humberto Soto-Francisco Lorenzo for a vacant title at 130. [UPDATED: David, in the comments section below, more accurately characterizes his own position.] I got some back-up from this month’s Ring magazine, where columnist Jim Bagg — a sharp observer of boxing who systematically ruins every colum he writes by making dozens of “Bagg” puns where he refers to himself in the third person by names like “Baggabond” or the tiresome old SNL “makin’ copies” likes of “Baggmeister” — shared my point of view. I offer the below exceprt from his column to say, if I am “dead wrong,” then I am dead wrong with others, because for a while there, I was all alone. Here’s what Bagg said:
“This is a dangerously stupid decision, and it’s an extra special display of dumb-ass-ery because [WBC boss Jose] Sulaiman had plenty of time to think about it. Yes, the result of the fight was unfair. But what kind of precedent does this set? If the WBC can ignore the official result here, why can’t they just ignore judges’ decisions that they disagree with (and let’s face it, there are controversial decisions in boxing every week), or consider a fight a no-contest if they think the ref stopped it too early, or just do whatever they want with a result to help whichever fighter they feel like helping, which isn’t exactly beyond the scope of what the alphabet boys are capable of? Just when you think things can’t get any worse, Sulaiman opens another can of worms.”
That is all.
(Sources: ESPN.com; BoxingScene.com; Maxboxing.com; Boxingtalk.com; The Boston Herald; news releases; Ring Magazine; Deadspin.com; The Wall Street Journal; Newsday; etc.)