Quick Jabs: More On The Weekend That Was; Revisiting Hopkins-Pavlik; Previsiting Calzaghe-Jones; More [UPDATED]

There’s a huge fight ahead this coming weekend pitting two of the top three fighters — Cristian Mijares and Vic Darchinyan — in one of boxing’s three best divisions — junior bantamweight (115 lbs.) — but before we get to that, there are some scraps of news floating about to collate and make fun of and/or analyze.

Your weekly Quick Jabs await, wherein I also seek your nominees for the most under-appreciated and neglected boxers in the sport. [Updated section: On Kelly Pavlik’s health]

Weekend In Review

Wrapping up some business on the weekend’s top travesty: Lucian Bute said he was happy to fight a rematch with Librado Andrade
after the controversial ending to their super middleweight (168 lbs.)
title fight Friday, but talks are already underway for him to fight
Mads Larsen, a boxer who has fought basically no one since ending a
four-year break from the sport in 2007. Not the guttiest move.

Fellow super middleweight titlist Mikkel Kessler said after knocking
out hopeless Danilo Haussler Saturday that he wanted a “unification
fight.” But Kessler’s team is throwing a hissy fit toward Bute because they wanted
Larsen for themselves in an all-Denmark donnybrook. ESPN’s Dan Rafael said that
Kessler would surely be welcome back on HBO, but let’s not forget that
he pulled out of a fight with Showtime that totally screwed that
network over, and besides, why would HBO broadcast Kessler-Larsen, or
any of the mismatches Kessler keeps accidentally finding himself in
while he’s oh-so-interested in a unification match? Kessler’s a serious
talent, but he’s not remotely interested in challenging himself.

From the “wasted talent” department of which Kessler is a high-ranking
official: Chris John, the very gifted 126-pound titlist, recently fought one of
his first real opponents in a long, long time, and he won decisively. I
confess to knowing next to nothing about Hiroyuki Enoki, though, and
would still like to see John go up against someone in the United
States, like a Steve Luevano, Jorge Linares or Robert Guerrero, even if
it means moving up in weight one class.

In a final bit of weekend wrap-up, Giacobbe Fragomeni won himself a
cruiserweight (200 lbs.) title last week, and my pleasure in this
derives in equal parts from A. Fragomeni’s game effort against David
Haye that now makes Haye look even better and B. that his name is
“Fragomeni.” Take any military-related term and combine with an ending
that evokes pasta and comedy ensues. Shrapnelelli, anyone?

(Sean expertly covered the other major weekend bouts here.)

Hopkins-Pavlik Again, And Some Related Calzaghe-Jones Business

Let’s go back a couple weekends to the 170-pound bout between Kelly
Pavlik and Bernard Hopkins for a few items. First, Pavlik’s team
revealed he was sick in the lead-up to the fight, and that if he’s sick
in the lead-up to a fight ever again — word is he was taking fluids
intravenously only a few days before the fight — he will call it off.
It’s a mitigating excuse, but no more. I’m convinced that the higher
weight for middleweight (160 lbs.) champ Pavlik and the style match-up
with the ultra-slick, well-schooled Hopkins still would have led to a
Hopkins shellacking of Pavlik, sick or no.

[UPDATE: Thomas Hauser does his usual insider reporting duty and it demonstrates that Pavlik was indeed sick — this isn’t revisionist history. He got a penicillin shot four days before the fight, was on medication for bronchitis the day of and was coughing up phlegm while warming up in the locker room. Again, I still don’t think he would have beaten Hopkins, but if anything, this shows the kind of guts Pavlik had to fight as hard as he did through the final bell. The piece has other wonderful, sad details, like (spoiler alert!) Pavlik breaking down in the locker room after losing, and Pavlik quipping to the doctor who asked asked him afterwards whether anything was bothering him, “Just my feelings.” The best was this, near the end — “Kelly took a deep breath. ‘I’ve lost once,’ he told his father. ‘Hopkins is a legend and he’s lost five times.’ Father and son embraced. ‘I don’t care about the loss,’ Mike said. ‘All I care about is that you’re all right.'” Well said by both men. This ends the updated portion of this column.]

I’ve seen Hopkins cited as an inspiration by a great many athletes
following his win, boxers and non-boxers alike. The Washington Wizards’
Caron Butler: “We haven’t been whole in a long time, and at the same
time, we’ve been pretty used to the naysayers,” Butler told the
Washington Post. “Our team represents Bernard Hopkins, his situation.
Everybody said what he couldn’t do and at 43, he put the beatdown on
Pavlik.” A British soccer player who just got out of jail cited
Hopkins’ own incarceration and subsequent redemption as inspiration,
and one-time Hopkins foe Jermain Taylor, coming off a recent loss just
like Hopkins was before fighting Pavlik, said it proved anyone can make
a comeback. Unfortunately, one person citing Hopkins’ success is
DeMarcus Corley, the former 140-pound champ who’s lost six straight as
of the past week, who sees inspiration in Hopkins not giving up. Here’s
hoping other fighters in Corley’s situation aren’t similarly inspired.

The Pavlik-Hopkins stuff overlaps with a few items about the upcoming
Joe Calzaghe-Roy Jones, Jr. light heavyweight (175 lbs.) bout.
Maxboxing’s Steve Kim reports that he hears Pavlik-Hopkins did less than 200,000
pay-per-view buys. HBO may have only been able to offer both
fighters enough money under a pay-per-view deal, but it is decisions to
put fights like Pavlik-Hopkins on pay-per-view that is really
inhibiting the sport of boxing. I’ve never seen the numbers for the
September lightweight (135 lbs.) fight between Juan Manuel Marquez-Joel
Casamayor, but I bet those were in the tank, too. And with
Calzaghe-Jones coming up the week of the election, how much attention,
and how many pay-per-view buys, is that fight going to get? These are
bad, bad programming decisions that are just ruinous to boxing’s
capacity for broader popularity in the United States. Bute-Andrade was
on pay-per-view in Canada, but they were able to sell it in that case
in part because in Canada, Germany and some other boxing hotbeds,
fighters are regularly broadcast on free TV, seen by massive audiences.

Hopkins wants the winner of Calzaghe-Jones and no one else, but
Calzaghe and Jones have both nixed the idea of a rematch with Hopkins.
Jones has softened his position, but I really doubt he’ll get the
chance, anyway. If Jones does win, Hopkins-Jones II is suddenly a huge,
huge fight. Also, I wouldn’t be opposed to Hopkins-Jones II even if
Jones loses, so long as he’s competitive. The question is, if Calzaghe
keeps fighting, is there any bigger opponent for him than Hopkins?
Sure, their April fight sucked to high heaven, but if Hopkins fought
more aggressively in a rematch like he did against Pavlik, it might be worth a
second look.

U.K. promoter Frank Warren, in his “Frankly Speaking” column, insists
that former promotional charge Calzaghe would have been better off
fighting Pavlik than Jones. I completely agree, setting aside the hard
feelings between Warren and Calzaghe. Not only would that have been a
more meaningful fight for him, but I think it highly likely that
Calzaghe would have defeated Pavlik, and he would’ve gotten more credit
for that win than beating a shopworn Jones.

Quicker Quick Jabs

Seeing Steve Molitor interviewed on Showtime during the Bute-Andrade
broadcast made me glad that the 122-pound talent is finally getting
some U.S. attention when the channel broadcasts his November bout
against Celestino Caballero. It’s taken so long not only because Molitor’s a hot product up north who makes nice bank up there, but also Molitor’s
promotional situation is messy to say the least, and he’s largely to
blame for it. But he’s one of the most under-appreciated and neglected
talents in the sport, whatever the reason. It prompted me to make up a
little list of fighters who, for whatever reason, are suffering from
one or more of the three following conditions: 1. Not getting the
spotlight they deserve because they are both good AND exciting; 2. Not
getting fights against top opponents; or 3. Not getting enough
recognition within the sport. My top nominees include: Molitor; Paul
Williams; Fernando Montiel; Nonito Donaire; Steve Cunningham; Joshua
Clottey. Some of those fighters are getting a taste of what they deserve soon, or have recently tasted it, but it’s still not enough, in my opinion. Anyone I’m missing?…

Alexander Povetkin, a talented heavyweight prospect who was scheduled
to fight division boss Wladimir Klitschko in December far too
prematurely, if you ask me, has injured his foot after tripping over a
tree root and as such has had to pull out of the bout. Povetkin is a
mandatory title challenger, but if I were him, I’d send a nice thank
you note to the guilty tree root and get a bunch more seasoning before even dreaming about fighting Klitschko…

James Kirkland is untangling himself from his own promotional feud and
should be on TV soon fighting Brian Vera at a catchweight between
Kirkland’s junior middleweight (154 lbs.) and Vera’s middleweight.
Vera’s shown he can test an exciting, hard-punching prospect by acing
Andy Lee earlier this year, and Kirkland fits the bill. Should be

I’m no mixed martial arts fan, but does it sound strange to hear WBC
boss Jose Sulaiman proclaim the “safety” of boxing over MMA when
Sulaiman went out of his way to give a title shot to Oscar Larios, a
126-pound fighter who is banned in the United States owing to a brain
bleed he suffered in a fight?…

Floyd Mayweather, Sr. has delivered another trademark entertaining
rant, this time against new trainee Ricky Hatton, the hard-drinking
140-pound champ who’s got a tough November fight with Paulie
Malignaggi. Mayweather’s borderline insane, but the plus side of that
is that sometimes he speaks the truth more bluntly than anyone else can
or will. From the Daily Star, condensed: “I tell you something – Ricky
could get whupped by a nobody because he is doing the wrong things with
his body. He needs to stop drinking right now and forget about this
sh*t because it is no good for him. He knows it is no good for him but
he still does it. It is stupid to do all that training and then let
himself go for two or three months. He doesn’t value his career enough.
If he did he wouldn’t do it. I think Ricky can be a much, much better
fighter if he starts doing the right things with his lifestyle and
body. You can’t get big like that and take your body down, then get big
again and take your body down, then do it all again. It’s no good and
it catches up with you. I don’t like boxers drinking and Ricky would be
much better off without it. I don’t like it. It ain’t gonna do no
fighter no good. I’ve spoken to him about it and I hope that he gets
the message. I want him to leave the drink alone. I hope in some kind
of way I have got into his head and that he is going to do the right
things. If he does the right things he will get the right things.”

(Sources: The Washington Post, TheSweetScience.com, ESPN.com, The
Youngstown Vindicator, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, BoxingScene.com,
Maxboxing.com, Reuters, The Daily Star, The London Daily Telegraph, SecondsOut.com)

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.