Welcome to “Round and Round,” the feature where I discuss some upcoming bouts, from “the deal is signed” to “that’s just some rumor and a responsible adult wouldn’t even mention it.” We’ve already previewed the Buckley fight and the other big bout of the weekend, the junior bantamweight (115 lbs.) bout between Cristian Mijares and Vic Darchinyan airing on Showtime Saturday. But there are some other interesting fights this weekend to note. So I’ll do that first, and then look at fights in the distant future… all the way… to the year 2000.
Buckle down, because it’s a very, very long ride.
The Rest Of The Weekend
The other fight on Showtime gives us all a chance to check up on the progress of super middleweight (168 lbs.) prospect Andre Dirrell, who’s really turned his career around after his historically unwatchable performance against Curtis Stevens with two straight scintillating performances. His opponent is Victor Oganov, a mirage of a knockout puncher who was exposed as a hype job by the limited but frisky Fulgencio Zuniga. But Oganov can crack a little, and as such that makes him among the better opposition of Dirrell’s young career. That’s Dirrell’s smiling mug to your right.
There’s a Top Rank-promoted pay-per-view on Saturday night featuring showhorse Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. I’m very skeptical of the lad, who’s largely gotten by on his name to this point, but I have to hand it to him for taking a rematch with Matt Vanda, who gave him the fight of his life. Woefully under-appreciated Nonito Donaire is defending his flyweight (112 lbs.) belt against Murato Mthalane, whom some think is a borderline dangerous challenger. The card also spotlights junior bantamweight Jorge Arce, who’s always good for a show.
Germany’s hosting the second best card of the night, behind Showtime’s. German homeboys Felix Sturm and Sebastian Sylvester are two of the best four middleweights (160 lbs.) according to Ring magazine, so them fighting one another is pretty significant even if middleweight’s a little thin these days. (Kelly Pavlik and Germany’s Arthur Abraham are the other two. What’s with Germany getting very near a stranglehold on the middleweight division?) There’s a school of thought that Sturm’s career is criminally underrated, and Ring even suggested he might be on the path to the Hall of Fame, so a win over Sylvester would help on that front. On the undercard, exciting junior middleweight and former Prospect of the Year Joel Julio gets his first title shot against tricky Sergei Dzindziruk.
Four boxers ranked in the top 10 in their division by Ring get some time in this weekend, too: junior flyweight (108 lbs.) Ulises Solis, junior bantamweight (115 lbs.) Fernando Montiel, lightweight (135 lbs.) Julio Diaz and junior featherweight (122 lbs.) Daniel Ponce De Leon. Diaz is on Telefutura tonight, and of the four, he and Solis are fighting the opponents with at least a pulse. Diaz and De Leon are rebuilding their careers from crushing losses. Montiel’s opponent has lost four of his last six, so it appears he’s just trying to make a little scratch with a bout in his home country of Mexico and keep his name in the mix for an eventual fight with Mijares.
And Everything After That
So that’s your weekend, for the most part. There’s lots of stuff out there to catch up on, so let’s just go in order of weight. And I’ve really created the most monstrous blog entry in all history here, so I invite you to skim at will. (Sources: Just ESPN and BoxingScene this time.)
David Haye is in negotiations for fights with both of the brothers Klitschko, Vitali and Wladimir, next summer. I was under the impression those two played nice together, but now they might be negotiating against one another? Anyway, it’s all premature until we see how Haye handles Monte Barrett in a few weeks in his first real test at heavyweight since moving up from cruiser (200 lbs).
Wladimir Klitschko has appeared to settle on Hasim Rahman as his replacement opponent for a scheduled December bout, since mandatory title challenger Alexander Povetkin pulled out with an injury. I thought Povetkin was going to get slaughtered – he’s talented, but inexperienced – and I pretty much know Rahman will, so the result at the end of the night is unchanged. This is one of those fights where you just pick the biggest name instead of a really dynamite opponent, I guess, because Rahman fits the bill for the former but not the latter. Povetkin is keeping up with the idea of fighting Kitschko. I really think it’s crazy. What’s the rush with this young man?
Chris Arreola’s opponent for November is settled. It’s Travis Walker. Kinda old news at this point, but I hadn’t mentioned it before. Arreola has already fought more fellow prospects than most prospects ever do. This one should be worth checking out, not just because Arreola’s always worth checking out, but because Walker could give him a run for his money, especially if Arreola shows up as a big fattie the way he did for his last fight.
Did you know that New Zealand had big boxing rivalries? I knew they had pretty scenery and great fake folk bands, but David Tua and Shane Cameron are two Kiwi heavies who have been circling each other for a while, it appears, and now they’re in talks to fight in March. If it happens, it could be the biggest intra-New Zealand battle since Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros.
I’m going to be skeptical of any Lamon Brewster fight because of his eye injury and the just-show-up-to-get-the-check showing he had in his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko. But Bruce Seldon shouldn’t give him too much trouble in a late November meeting. I liked Lamon back in his day, but I’d rather he hang up the gloves.
Winky Wright is alive! And he seems to have come to his senses! The mercurial one-time pound-for-pound #2 man who has sent his career in a tailspin by not fighting since July of 2007, has finally agreed to take a fight for less than $3.7 gazillion. His opponent is Michi Munoz, whose only fights against name opponents are losses, but it’s better at this point for Wright to be fighting anyone than not fighting at all. Even better, it’ll air on Versus on Dec. 4, the same night “The Contender” boxing reality show makes its redebut. I love, love, love the fact that Versus is stepping up its fight game, by the way. The fight’ll be at 165, which suggests Wright, who has said he’s ballooned up to 200 pounds between fights at times, may be in terrible physical shape.
Andy Lee’s next rumored opponent is Howard Eastman. Sounds like a good plan. Eastman’s tough enough to test folk, and even is coming off a win over a former title holder in Andrew Lewis. Lee, once the most highly-touted prospect in the sport, should hang around this level of opponent for a while as he rebuilds his confidence from his first loss, against Brian Vera. Despite his having a difficult time with Willie Gibbs, I still think Lee can rebound.
The fearsome Alfredo Angulo wants Chavez Jr., but Top Rank’s Bob Arum didn’t sound even the slightest big interested in making that happen in a recent interview. I think he knows his charge Chavez isn’t ready for someone like Angulo and may never be. Angulo versus Ricardo Mayorga is an idea floating around, and I say that’s a perfect fight for both men at this point in their careers. Two big punchers, one an up-and-comer and another a veteran with a big name and big mouth to promote fights, just letting it fly.
St. Louis is no New Zealand, but they have their own rivalries. Howsabout two local boys go at it: Cory Spinks-Deandre Latimore? Spinks may be one of the most boringest fighters on the planet; he may be coming off a title-losing fight he may have deserved to win; he may not have drawn the St. Louis crowds he once did; but he’s probably still a pretty good fighter and maybe if you put him in with a possible replacement like Latimore, it’s a big-ticket item for the St. Lunatics. Latimore, I think, is significantly more fun to watch than Spinks, but I’m largely basing that on his stylish defeat of Sechew Powell.
Another contender for the world’s boringest boxer is Yuri Foreman. It’s looking like he’ll fight James Moore in December. Moore means well, but I doubt he’ll be able to hang with Foreman. Still, better to have one excitingish boxer in a fight than two very, very boring ones.
Welterweight (147 lbs.)
The case against the alphabet organizations continues with the WBC reportedly standing in the way of Andre Berto vs. Miguel Cotto. I like both fighters tremendously, but the WBC may have done Berto a little favor by insisting he fight mandatory challenger Luis Collazo instead of battling Cotto in February. That’s a better fight for him at this point in his career, and Cotto can make pretty fun bouts with the likes of Kermit Cintron or Jesus Soto-Karass instead. For Cotto’s February fight, Arum wants to put him in Atlantic City and have Pavlik fight mandatory challenger Marco Antonio Rubio in Youngstown, Ohio, then broadcast both fights on big screens in each place. Sounds nice, but Arum hatches a lot of plots that never come to fruition. [UPDATE: Berto promoter Lou DiBella disputes the report, which originated with remarks from Arum. DiBella said he never even approached the WBC about an extension, and therefore the WBC hasn’t weighed in at all on Cotto-Berto.]
Antonio Margarito-Shane Mosley is looking more and more like a go for January. Mosley would rather fight Margarito than Berto, and, of course, if Berto wants to keep his title he has to fight Collazo. That’s a pretty big fight, but I worry about Mosley, looking more and more like the 37-year-old that he is, going against a giant stomping robot in the prime of his career like Margarito.
Zab Judah’s returning against a non-name opponent to the Joe Calzaghe-Roy Jones undercard in November, and that’s the best fight on that undercard. It’ll be at 144 lbs. as part of Judah’s transition back down to junior welterweight (140 lbs.), a move I support. Calzaghe-Jones is one of those fights where I might have been talked into buying it with a half-decent undercard, but I’m just not very likely to plop down $50 for a fight that I don’t think will be all that enjoyable and that I doubt will prove much. The other highlights of the undercard? Junior welterweight Dmitriy Salita against somebody, heavyweight Dominick Guinn (!) against somebody, and junior welterweight Frankie Figueroa against Emmanuel Augustus. OK, maybe Figueroa-Augustus will be fun, because people are high on Figueroa and Augustus is always good for some wacky hijinks.
Erik Morales must set aside the comeback talk, and if he does come back, he should stick to fighting smaller names until we know he’s well. Fighting Juan Manuel Marquez, as he’s proposed doing, is ludicrous. He should have done it when they were both in their primes, but Marquez is still in his and Morales is definitely out of his. I would’ve paid a lot of money to see Marquez-Morales four years ago or so, but now? I guess the Mexican fans would pay for it, and Marquez could hardly be blamed much for wanting all that money, but Morales is talking like he would’ve beaten Manny Pacquiao at 135 pounds, when all you have to do is look at how they fared against David Diaz to know that’s crazy talk.
Amir Khan returns from his first loss Dec. 6, the same night Pacquiao is fighting Oscar De La Hoya. Wait, I thought Khan was going to wait to fight until Pacquiao/Khan trianer Freddie Roach could be in his corner, and how can Roach be in both places? His opponent is nobody I’ve ever heard of and hasn’t fought anyone of note and doesn’t have a high knockout percentage, which is perfect for Khan. Khan’s problem, according to Roach, is that he needs to not be going for the knockout all the time, and I think if he can really tighten his D, he has a chance of avoiding the big shots that have really been a huge part of why his career is where it’s at today, with everyone completely skeptical that he is legit.
Junior Featherweight And Below
People are talking about Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez IV, and it makes me nervous. I really worry about those two junior feathers fighting each other again after producing three classic, career-shortening wars. But it’s where the money is. I fear it’s more inevitable than I’d like.
Juan Manuel Lopez will fight Sergio Medina on the Pacquiao-De La Hoya, which is more credible opposition than I feared the burgeoning superstar might get. Then, maybe, early next year, it’s Lopez in against Gerry Penalosa, which I think is a very high-quality bout.
If Arce and Donaire both win tomorrow night, they could fight each other, says Arum. I thought Arce wanted to move up in weight, so we’ll see. But I like it if it comes off.