While We’re Waiting, Quick Jabs, Featuring My Favorite Prospect, Mayweather-Cotto, Upcoming Fights

NEW YORK CITY — Madison Square Garden won’t open its doors for a little while, so how about some quick “Quick Jabs?” Friday Night Fights Getting in the mood for Saturday night’s heavyweight clash, buddy Neil and I –shoutout to Neil for hosting me for the evening — checked out ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights card. The main attraction, Richard Gutierrez, utterly failed to impress me. He’d been hyped as one of the better welterweight (147 lbs.) prospects/young contenders out there, and surely, he does have some speed and a little pop in his fists. But he was off-balance practically the whole night vs. Jose Varela. He needs more schooling if he hopes to break through in the loaded welterweight division, where everyone is way, way better than he is these days. Most importantly, he needs to definitely stop shaving his chest hair into the shape of a cross. You heard that right. He shaves his chest hair into the shape of a cross. I don’t think it matters what religion you are, that just has to creep you out. Cuban defector Yan Barthelemy didn’t do much for me, either, in a win over Antonio Diaz, and we missed the first few minutes, so we didn’t get to see my favorite prospect, fellow Cuban defector Yuriorkis Gamboa. But he sliced through Jonnie Edwards — relatively stiff competition — with ease in just one round, and from the highlights, Gamboa put on display his potent mix of speed and power. Guys like Gamboa get me juiced — speed, power, slickness. Gimme dudes like him and young Jorge Linares, and I will never stop watching boxing. Speaking of Linares, the featherweight’s (126 lbs.) last opponent, Oscar Larios, fought and won last night in Mexico against some quasi-tomato can. Larios is a clear case of a fighter who should quit. He has a brain bleed that is keeping him from fighting in Nevada, and he’s the kind of brawler who took a ton of punishment over the course of his career. Larios was a minor favorite of mine, and I’ve watched his exciting win over Israel Vazquez in 2002 several times over. I’d hate to see him — anyone, really, but especially someone for whom I have soft spot — really, really, really hurt his health. For The Millionth Time, Mayweather, Sign With Cotto Something I wish I’d said, but ESPN’s Dan Rafael said it for me: Why is welterweight pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather indulging in fake fights in the WWE but dodging Miguel Cotto? At least he left me some openings for jokes. “How interesting that a Mayweather fight features little actual real fighting.” (With apologies to his last outing.) And so forth. Please contribute your own. Kudos to the classy, non-big mouthed Cotto for exercising supreme judgment to open his mouth and try to goad Mayweather into making, hands-down, the most important fight that can be made in boxing. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if he turned all Antonio Tarver-hounding-Roy Jones, or Mr. T in Rocky III, and just showed up everywhere Mayweather went and challenged him and called him a chicken. Mayweather has proven susceptible to to goading tactics, as Ricky Hatton proved by trash-talking Mayweather into a December meeting. C’mon, Mayweather. You helped lift boxing last year. Join the best-fighting-the-best club. At Least There Are Other Good Fights Being Made There’s a buncha other stuff bubbling up, so let’s review. Jermain Taylor is looking to fight either Felix Trinidad or Jones in the 170 lbs. vicinity in June. That Taylor is just determined not to have any tune-up bouts, huh? I think Trinidad should be fighting no higher than 160, where he could be a factor, but anyone serious over that — and there’s a lot of serious action around 168 and 175 — will beat him. Taylor-Jones? I like it. Dan Rafael prefers Taylor vs. Jeff Lacy or Mikkel Kessler, both of which I could get behind, but I’d watch Taylor-Jones on TV if it was free, and I wouldn’t pay for Taylor-Lacy or Taylor-Kessler, either. Speaking of the 168-pounders, Showtime is continuing its bounceback year by catering to hardcore fight fans. The super middleweights are probably the second best division in boxing, behind the welterweights. Dennis Inkin vs. Carl Froch, two of the best, could land on Showtime March 29. Showtime likes Vernon Forrest, one of the two best 154-pounders, but I wish they could do a little better than Forrest vs. Sergio Mora, the once-overrated, now self-career-killing winner of “The Contender” reality show’s first season. Oh well. It’s a step up in class for both men if it happens May 10, compared to some of their recent action. It’s too bad Cristian Mijares isn’t looking to take on Fernando Montiel for what would a meeting between arguably the two best 115-pounders. Maybe later? Montiel’s another minor favorite of mine — it’s too bad I wasn’t able to catch him whoopin’ up on Martin Castillo. Does anyone care to see a Paul Williams-Carlos Quintana rematch? I don’t much, but Williams has exercised his rematch clause, which I suppose speaks to his guts. Williams and Quintana are two of the best welterweights, and Quintana’s upset of him was dramatic television for a few reasons, but I’m more intrigued by seeing them in against other folk first. I kinda understand slugger Daniel Ponce De Leon avoiding Linares, since De Leon fights at 122, and because of the bad relations between De Leon and his promoter, Golden Boy. But Golden Boy and promoter Seminole Warriors Boxing are trying to make a rematch in May between De Leon and Celestino Caballero, who gave De Leon his only loss, and if De Leon’s team says no, he better have a helluva good reason. De Leon should want to avenge his only loss, right? And there’s no doubt Caballero’s a deserving fighter, and that people (including myself) would want to see a rematch. Where else could De Leon make more cash, fighting the winner of Vazquez-Rafael Marquez III (which is just around the corner next weekend, salivate salivate)? Perhaps, but that’s it. I don’t see anything on the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez II undercard that impresses me, which is too bad, because now I won’t have any leverage to talk people into showing up early. There’s some other scattered business out there, like Arthur Abraham-Elvin Ayala (160 lbs.), what looks like a Linares stay-busy fight, and Adrian Diaconu-Chris Henry (175 lbs.), but I’ve got to run. Off to MSG… (All items except Pacquiao-Marquez undercard come from this ESPN piece; Pacquiao-Marquez undercard info comes from here.)

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.