Round And Round: Magarito-Mosley, Calzaghe-Dawson, Marquez-Diaz And More

All right, I’ve been awfully hard on Paulie Malignaggi about his performance against Ricky Hatton this weekend, and in the video above, he offers a compelling reason for why he didn’t throw many punches: All his hand injuries and surgeries have “psychologically” gotten to him and made him afraid to open up. I’ve always admired Malignaggi for the fact that he has such a tiny margin of error, between his lack of punching power and chronically broken hands, and frankly it’s amazing he’s made it as far as he has under the circumstances. But if he is afraid to throw shots, then he should — as he seems to be saying he might — retire.

What’s that got to do with anything? This being “Round and Round,” where we talk about potential fights in the works, Malignaggi figures into things.


Let’s jump right in…

Antonio Margarito-Shane Mosley is back on for January, after HBO offered Margarito a little extra something as salve to his ego. The top welterweight (147 lbs.) had wanted better than a 50-50 split, since he was the fan draw, not Mosley, and HBO reportedly gave him a little extra cash. Nobody’s said how much; I wonder if it was a minute face-saving amount, what with Margarito taking a lot of heat for pulling out of the fight. If it was very much money at all, then I guess that heat was unwarranted — Margarito wanted more money and he got it. Or maybe HBO was over the barrel for having promised Mosley the January date then finding that alternates Andre Berto and Sergio Mora either weren’t really available or weren’t really interesting, respectively. I still say it was playing with fire to pull out like that, and I wonder if the damage isn’t already done. That said, it is of course a very interesting fight with Mosley, the boxer/puncher, a live underdog against Margarito, the pressure fighter…

Light heavyweight (175 lbs.) champ Joe Calzaghe’s team is denying stories that there have been any talks with Chad Dawson, and Calzaghe said he’s still leaning toward retirement. If Dawson can’t get Calzaghe, he wants Bernard Hopkins, who’s really focused on Calzaghe himself and has rejected entreaties for a Felix Trinidad rematch. Dawson’s willing to move down to 168, where I actually think he’d be better off with that questionable chin of his, but the promoter of the biggest-money opponent there, Jermain Taylor, wants Taylor to stay the hell away from Dawson. The most makeable fights for Dawson are the ones he probably wants least: mandatory belt challenger Tavoris Cloud and a rematch with Antonio Tarver (even if there is a dispute about whether Tarver has a rematch clause)…

Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz, once looking like it might not happen, is now looking strong again. If Diaz can’t get the lightweight (135 lbs.) champ, then a rematch with Nate Campbell is likely. However, Marquez and his team aren’t interested in a rematch with Marco Antonio Barrera. What’s weird is I think that fight would make a little cash. Does Marquez think he can get more money against Diaz? Of all these potential fights, I think the one not mentioned, Marquez-Campbell, is the best, although I’d be happy with any of them other than Marquez-Barrera…

It’s not a done deal yet, but one of the best action fights in the sport is tantalizingly within our grasps: Vic Darchinyan-Jorge Arce. The two 115-pound power-punchers have all but finished a deal. That means Nonito Donaire-Fernando Montiel is likely, too. That’s a different kind of fight, but potentially very, very exciting in its own right. I’d love to see both those bouts, which would probably presage several of the men moving up in weight and ending a kind of glory era for the division. If Darchinyan can’t get Arce, his promoter wants Darchinyan to go after Gerry Penalosa at 118 lbs. and maybe all the way up to 122 to face Israel Vazquez or Rafael Marquez. Arce wants some Vazquez himself, and Montiel has long talked about wanting to move up in weight…

Winky Wright’s 17-month layoff is going to continue, and based on the official excuse — he hurt his left hand — it’s not his fault this time. For once. Unless it’s a cover story to disguise the possibility that he was having trouble with weight, which is why his comeback fight against Michi Munoz on Versus was going to be at the somewhat high 164 lbs. While I can’t say I was looking forward to that particular mismatch, I was interested in seeing Wright resume his boxing career, even if I’ve never been a big fan. I hate to see talent go to waste. I was also interested in this being another building block for Versus turning into a real power in the sport. It still can, it’s just that this slows its momentum a tad…

Taylor may not want any Dawson, but he does want a title fight against either Lucian Bute or the winner of the Carl Froch-Jean Pascal bout. Any of those opponents are good fights for Taylor as he works his way back up to the level of stardom he once held, and, what’s more, they’re pretty watchable-sounding bouts, too. I still say Bute ought to give a rematch to Librado Andrade, but from the standpoint of Taylor’s career, his brain trust is thinking exactly the way it should…

I was worried the Dec. 6 Oscar De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao undercard wasn’t going to take full advantage of the opportunity presented to it to spotlight future stars in meaningful bouts, but my fears are starting to look unfounded. Now, in both of what are likely to be the supporting undercard fights, the future star is matched fairly safely, but in a fairly defensible way, because their opponents are also reasonably credible opponents for this point in their careers. Juan Manuel Lopez (122 lbs.) will fight Sergio Medina, who not long ago gave prospect Rey Bautista a difficult time; Lopez has his whole 2009 planned out after that, wanting to make a title defense in March, fight Vazquez in the summer then take Marquez to end the year. Victor Ortiz (140 lbs.) will fight Jeffrey Resto, himself once a prospect. Then, they’ll also apparently throw less advanced prospects Daniel Jacobs (168 lbs.) and Danny Garcia (147 lbs.) on the undercard. Is it exactly what I asked for? No. Is it way better than some of the usual sucky undercards? Absolutely…

Vitali Klitschko had been balking at the idea of the WBC making him defend his heavyweight title against Juan Carlos Gomez, but word is that Klitschko-Gomez is being negotiated in hopes of avoiding a purse bid. I could have gone either way on whether Klitschko should have given up his belt. I don’t like any belt other than the Ring belt much, but on the other hand Gomez is a fairly deserving mandatory challenger. I guess I’m cool with the fact that Klitschko isn’t screwing over the organization that was far too kind to him during his long semi-retirement…

Zab Judah wants a piece of Hatton, Malignaggi or Timothy Bradley when he completes his transition to a 140-pounder. I wonder if he’d really want Malignaggi now, since Judah’s remarks came before the Hatton loss. But it would be one flashy, trash-talking, all-New York City promotion if it happened, wouldn’t it? I can’t see Hatton wanting anything to do with Judah when he has richer options before him, but Judah still has a little bit of a name, so he could do worse if he doesn’t end up with De La Hoya or Pacquiao. Likewise, if I was Bradley, I’d take Judah in a second. It’s a winnable bout, it would be his highest-profile assignment ever and as much as Bradley wants Hatton, I just don’t ever see that one happening soon…

Remember how Arthur Abraham and Felix Sturm were circling one another for an all-Germany middleweight (160 lbs.) showdown and everyone just walked away? No longer. There’s a big offer on the table for Sturm, reportedly. Again, I have no problem with Abraham-Sturm. I prefer Abraham-Kelly Pavlik, but Abraham-Sturm helps sell that fight if Abraham wins…

John Duddy’s feud with his promoter may lead to him cancelling his fight with fellow junior middleweight (154 lbs.) Ron Hearns. I was kind of looking forward to that fight at the beginning of the year; I thought it would be a decent slugfest between two guys on the borderline of moving up into another echelon. Too bad…

Also at junior middleweight, Cory Spinks-Deandre Latimore is moving ahead for a vacant title belt. I liked what I saw form Latimore in his defeat of Sechew Powell. If I never see Spinks again, I won’t complain. But if the fight could sell in St. Louis, where both men are from, I’m all for it. We need more regional hotbeds in this sport of ours…

Junior Witter wants a rematch with Bradley, but will likely instead end up with someone far lower on the totem pole — Gianluca Branco. I suppose it’s a reasonable bounceback fight…

YURIORKIS GAMBOA! alert: I’m not fully back on the bandwagon, but he’ll be fighting early next year, likely ag
ainst Andrey Isaev, to set up a featherweight (126 lbs.) title fight. I say it’s too soon — really, he needs to work on his defense badly — but with Gamboa, it’s sure to be a fun ride no matter what happens…

Another man in need of a reasonable bounceback fight is Jean-Marc Mormeck, the former undisputed cruiserweight (200 lbs.) king. It doesn’t look like it’ll be against Fabrice Tiozzo, who would have fit the bill. If Mormeck can get back in the ring, I think he has a plausible chance of getting his cruiserweight crown back, but since he’s promoted by Don King, you never know how long King will sit on him…

Zsolt Erdei is ignoring the swirl of quality, moneymaking opponents at light heavyweight and continuing his pattern of defending his belt against no one of note by targeting Yuri Barashian. The same Yuri Barashian who JUST lost a title fight. This Erdei guy is a total joke.

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., where he is a staff writer for CQ Roll Call.

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