Quick Jabs, Featuring Pacquiao’s Double-Secret Way Of Beating De La Hoya, More Hot Boxing Wives And Other Fights This Week

Also in this edition of Quick Jabs: a reconsideration of the devastating loss of Wednesday Night Fights and Solo Boxeo; another boost to the suddenly hot junior middleweight division; and some high jinks involving a stolen boxing ring, loaded gloves and mysterious dismissals.

(Sources: News releases; Fightnews.com; Maxboxing.com; The Associated
Press; BoxingScene.com; Insidesports.ph; ESPN.com; TheSweetScience.com)

The Rest Of The Week

As promised, I’m returning to sweep up the fights I didn’t hit in my previews of the top two TV headline bouts of the week.

The most important remaining bout, arguably more important than the other two, even, is David Haye’s heavyweight re-debut on Saturday. I hesitate to call Haye the savior of the heavyweight division, but I’m forced to admit that he’s the best hope we have. The division’s top fighter, Wladimir Klitschko, is apparently going to forever frustrate us. Recycled names like Hasim Rahman and James Toney keep getting big fights. The fight currently generating the most attention from outside the boxing world is between Evander Holyfield and Nicolay Valuev, which is so very, very sad. Haye? He talks the talk. He looks the look. He’s exciting as all get out. He KOs fools. After ruling the cruiserweight (200 lbs.) division, he’s stepped up to heavyweight where he’ll fight Monte Barrett, an opponent that he’s caught some hell for fighting — largely because he’d talked about taking on better opposition than that — but who is perfectly suited for his introduction to the big leagues among the big men. Barrett is an upset artist who very well could spoil Haye’s savior routine before it really gets started. I like Haye by knockout, though, trusting that his excuse for having such a shaky chin at cruiserweight was related to having to boil down to far to make the limit. Too bad this one’s not on TV anywhere.

The other two are undercard fights to the HBO headliner Saturday night and the Versus headliner tonight. Kermit Cintron’s trying to get back on course after his second knockout loss, both courtesy the same man, welterweight (147 lbs.) kingpin Antonio Margarito. His opponent on HBO is Lovemore N’dou, last seen giving a rought time to Paulie Malignaggi in a 140-pound title fight rematch that he ultimately lost. I think N’Dou is too small to hit Cintron where it hurts most: his psyche. Cintron has a tendency to get rattled when his opponent can stand up to his mammoth punches, but I bet N’Dou gives him a sign early that he can be hurt. N’Dou may never have been knocked out, but he’s never fought anyone who can punch like Cintron, because hardly anyone can, and he’s not fought at this weight. Also, don’t forget that the feather-fisted Malignaggi decked N’Dou in their first fight. N’Dou’s best hope is to hang around and pester Cintron for a while, but I doubt even if he succeeds at that mission that he’ll be able to pester Cintron enough. Still, it’s an appropriately chosen comeback opponent for Cintron to rebuild his confidence and yet be tested a little. Could be a decent action fight, too, as long as it lasts.

In a fight on Versus I expect to suck wildly (unlike the headline fight on the channel), Grady Brewer makes his return to the limelight after winning Season 2 of “The Contender” and taking a couple years off with injury. His opponent is fellow Season 2er Cornelius Bundrage, although the two men never met on the reality show. Both junior middleweights (154 lbs.) are very thudding punchers, but not knockout artists, and most importantly, they both have mastered the John Ruiz/Ricky Hatton hit-and-hold tactic, which creates the distinct possibility of awfulness. Bundrage may have lost to Steve Forbes, whom Brewer beat in the season finale, but I have to think circumstances favor Bundrage here. He’s been fighting top competition, and got the best win of his career in his last fight, a defeat of former junior middleweight titlist Kassim Ouma. Brewer, meanwhile, has had one comeback fight against an overmatched opponent, and while he looked good in the clips I’ve seen, he’s also now 37. I’d like to see Brewer make good on his “Contender” fame and get a big fight as a result of it, because most everyone on the show has at some point, and it’s kind of cosmically unjust that one of the season’s winners hasn’t been able to cash in beyond the prize he got on the show.

The Loss Of Solo Boxeo And Wednesday Night Fights

Sean ably covered the demise of Telefutura’s Solo Boxeo here. As it’s begun to sink in with me, though, I realize what a harsh blow it is to the sport. I don’t think I gave it much attention because, well, I don’t get Telefutura with my satellite television plan. What’s more, I’d kind of shrugged and thought, “Well, Versus is picking up plenty of boxing; I imagine they can make up for the loss of Telefutura.” But if you put it together with the loss of ESPN’s Wednesday Night Fights, it starts to get ominous. First of all, while everything Versus is doing suggests they are very serious about boxing, we also don’t know a whole lot about whether they will feature prospects the way Solo Boxeo and Wednesday Night Fights have. This Maxboxing article really sinks in the blow that this is to the sport. Not so much in the short term. But in the long term. Considering it in conjunction with the disrepair the United States’ amateur boxing system has fallen under, it bodes ill for the future of boxing.

I’m not saying apocalyptic things here. It’s entirely possible some more of the slack gets picked up somewhere. Boxing, I suspect, is going to remain a huge attraction in other countries, no matter what happens here. What I’m saying is, this is a very worrisome development unless someone swoops in and compensates for the loss of these two programs, because we already were in need of someone to rescue the amateur system, and a hero remains out of reach on that front.

Quicker Quick Jabs

One of the downsides of having three gigs, including this one, is that sometimes it’s hard to act on an idea before someone else does. Then I feel obligated to give credit to the person who beat me to the idea. So, with that, I commend you to Ron Borges, who writes about the mind games Manny Pacquiao’s trainer is playing with Oscar De La Hoya in advance of their welterweight fight Dec. 6. (What mind games, you ask? Gimme a second, I’ll get to it.) But let me elaborate on Borges’ point. There have been a number of credulous, just the facts ma’am stories out there about all the things the trainer, Freddie Roach, is saying. It is my belief, after having read the transcript of his conference call with reporters from yesterday, that Roach is saying the things he’s been saying because he wants to create doubt in De La Hoya. My opinion is that De La Hoya’s greatest weakness is a tendency at times to freeze up, mentally. We’ve seen it again and again. Roach is trying to fuel that. (And now I get to the mind game specifics, or, I should say, one specific.) To me, the most telling proof of Roach’s ploy is his claim that he knows why De La Hoya stopped throwing his jab last year against Floyd Mayweather, and that it wasn’t anything Mayweather did; but Roach won’t say what it is, because he intends to take advantage of it. De La Hoya has repeatedly said he doesn’t know why he stopped throwing his jab that night. It’s hard to imagine how Roach could be trying any harder to get into De La Hoya’s head and foster a little analysis paralysis. Because frankly, I don’t buy that Roach has some kind of secret here beyond knowing that De La Hoya sometimes freezes up. Every time someone has said he had some secret way of winning a fight, other than Max Schmeling’s knockout defeat of Joe Louis when Schmeling noticed that Louis had a tendency to drop his left after throwing a jab, it’s frequently turned out to be b.s. Bernard Hopkins said he kept moving to Kelly Pavlik’s left to make him throw his straight right across his chest, but man, that’s just boxing 101. Another small part of Roach’s antics, I might add, is that he is trying to play the villain to stir up some controversy to sell th
e fight. He’s said as much, and I believe that’s part of his motive. And you know what? I think it’s all working. In a recent interview, De La Hoya said he was confused by the things Roach is saying. And Roach’s trash talk has gotten its share of press…

Glen Johnson got back in the victory column this week against someone or the other, in a win that was designed merely to keep the light heavyweight (175 lbs.) busy and to keep his name in the mix. I’m obliging by even mentioning the otherwise un-noteworthy win. You’d think a guy who once won Fighter of the Year would more frequently get his due, but Johnson doesn’t. He’s a helluva fighter, an exciting practitioner of the sweet science and he’s been screwed over too many times for a guy as nice as he is. Chad Dawson, Joe Calzaghe or Antonio Tarver, fight this man…

Just when it seemed junior middleweight couldn’t get any hotter, Carlos Quintana is preparing to have a second fight there after moving up from welterweight, and it appears he’s looking to stay if he wins. Likewise, Paul Williams is  going to drop his welterweight belt in advance of his semi-title fight — explaining the “semi” part is complicated and boring — with Verno Phillips at junior middleweight later this month. Williams is a different case because he may well end up at middleweight (160 lbs.) or even super middleweight (168 lbs.) But that’s two top-10 welterweights who may never go back to what has been one of the top divisions in the sport for a couple years, and could end up spending signfiicant time at junior middleweight…

I read somewhere recently, I suspect in a couple places, that the modern day answer to “The Four Kings” — Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns — could be Bernard Hopkins, Joe Calzaghe, James Toney and Roy Jones. (It also could be Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera.) If there’s one common trait shared by Hopkins, Calzaghe, Toney and Jones besides the fact that they are all greats who had criss-crossing rivalries, it’s that, whoa, can they be some ungracious sumbitches. Calzaghe recently trashed Hopkins in an obscenity-laden rant. Hopkins semi-graciously suggested Jones retire, but he also said, rather bluntly, that Jones was shot. Toney is threatening to knock his next opponent, Tony Thompson, out and into his promoter’s lap. Jones hasn’t mouthed off of late, but he and Hopkins have jawed at each other plenty over the years…

I don’t know whether to salute the patriotism of U.S. flyweight (112 lbs.) Rau’shee Warren in his record-breaking third attempt at winning an Olympic medal or wonder why he would rather trade the start of his pro career  for four more years of training to master a frustrating scoring system that no one in America can seem to figure out. Either way, good luck, Rau’shee. I hope this move pays off for you in every way imaginable…

Arthur Abraham says he wants Kelly Pavlik next, not German rival Felix Sturm. Good for him, and good for us. Taking big bank to fight Sturm would’ve been understandable. But now we can find out who’s the best middleweight in the world…

High Jinks Department, Case #1: Boxer Edward Mpofu has been banned from boxing for life for filling his gloves with a hardening substance in a recent fight. There aren’t many punishments I would reject for this guy — seems to me he should stand trial for, at minimum, assault with a deadly weapon — but this is a good start on the boxing side of things. Nobody should be able to cheat like that and ever come back…

High Jinks Department, Case #2: Thieves in Ohio have stolen a whole boxing ring. How or why, I’ll never know, and at first it was kind of funny. But the Toledo gym may have to cancel some upcoming boxing shows because of it. Not funny. If this was just some prank, then the thieves have made their point and it’s time now to give the gym back to the adults so that people can make a living…

High Jinks Department, Case #3: There is some sordid stuff floating around out there about the resignation of the California State Athletic Association’s executive officer. I pass it along without additional comment

Lastly, a recent story about feuding between the press and the Donaires, flyweight boxer Nonito and wife/taekwondo master Rachel Marcial, called my attention to yet another hot boxing wife. Last weekend, in a boxing chat with some fans who were watching videos online, there was some discussion of who had the hottest boxing wife, and she came up there, too. By the way, I’d erroneously thought, based on that Internet chatter, that Raul Marquez’ lady was his wife; he said in an interview that it was his girlfriend, so I’m mistaken. Anyway, look, I know this is totally gratuitous of me. But have you seen Nonito Donaire’s freaking wife? I’m not terribly interested in nasty critiques of boxers with less attractive wives and girlfriends — it’s pretty mean, and besides, we all know who they are — but I kinda feel like as long as I’m focusing on the wives that are attractive, it’s a compliment right? Not that anybody has a leg up on the hot women who populate Haye’s MySpace page, but if you’re going to settle down, there are some pretty lovely ladies out there for boxers. I leave you with my current top three hottest boxing wives:


Rachel, wife of Nonito Donaire


Millie, wife of Oscar De La Hoya

Denise Tarver.jpg

Denise, wife of Antonio Tarver

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.