Quick Jabs: Ivan Calderon – Brian Viloria In Talks; Jennifer Lopez Takes To The Boxing Ring; Good Gates For Fights In Canada, Las Vegas; More

There’s so much Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather news lately I’m making this Quick Jabs a Mayweather-Pacquiao-free zone. Tomorrow, I’ll do a Pacquiao-Mayweather news round-up.

That leaves this round-up with the subjects in the headline (including a brief mention of the Pacman); a few nice pieces of boxing journalism to check out; fights in the works for Miguel Cotto, Tomasz Adamek and others; and more still.

Quick Jabs

I know I said the chip on my shoulder about “boxing is dead” b.s. has fallen off because everyone seems to recognize the fallacy of said b.s., but old habits die hard. So I’m going to go ahead and gloat about the Nov. 14 Pacquiao-Cotto gate doing way, way better than a UFC gate the same weekend, according to USA Today’s J. Michael Falgoust — $8.84 million to $3 million. Yes, Pacquiao-Cotto was a more desirable fight to boxing fans than Forrest Griffin-Tito Ortiz was to mixed martial arts fans. Yes, boxing tickets are more expensive. But this again goes to show that it’s not obvious that MMA is bigger than boxing. It may get there; I don’t rule that out. But it’s not obvious. Meanwhile, it looks like 16,000 or so people will turn out for the super middleweight rematch between Lucian Bute-Librado Andrade Saturday, about what it did the first time around. Tickets sold out in about an hour this time, according to T.K. Stewart’s story. Gloat gloat gloat…

Speaking of Andrade, I thought it was interesting to see him say he was holding back in the 12th round of the first Bute bout, thinking the referee would stop it because Bute couldn’t defend himself. Andrade said this time around, he would be “colder.” I say it’s interesting but I don’t actually know what to think of it. It is a boxer’s job to keep punching until the referee stops him, but I also have always admired boxers who don’t want to give their opponents unnecessary punishment…

One of the promoters of the Super Six 168-pound tournament, Sauerland, is screaming bloody murder about the choice of zebra in the Andre Ward-Mikkel Kessler, when Ward wasn’t warned in his native California for what were either a few rough-housing tactics, indefensible but also not very excessive (my take) or an all-out cheatfest (Kessler’s take). Kessler’s come off like a baby in this whole deal, complaining about head butts and holding and even when giving praise, sounding like things he thought things Ward did were wrong, i.e., “he ruined my sty.e” I’m inclined to agree with Sauerland, however, that Ward shouldn’t have all his fights in California; they also have a point that the referee was not supposed to be from California. I doubt Sauerland would pull Kessler or Arthur Abraham out of the tournament over it, but maybe the threat of refusing to fight in California will get Showtime to act to make it so Ward doesn’t get to fight in Cali every time…

Not that any of it is particularly significant, but a series of news releases Wednesday and Thursday were quite amusing in the back and forth: 1. Don King sent out a news release saying heavyweight John Ruiz was not, as he claimed, a promotional free agent, and that King had him for another year. 2. King also sent out a news release saying that Kali Meehan and Ruslan Chagaev would be fighting for the interim WBA title. 3. Ruiz’ team sent out a news release saying King was wrong on both counts. 4. Golden Boy Promotions sent out a news release saying David Haye, the WBA’s main titlist, was the one and only WBA titlist and would remain that way, contrary to King’s Meehan-Chagaev release. (Ruiz is the mandatory challenger to Haye in his next fight.) 5. King sent out another news release saying Ruiz was indeed a free agent. No mention of the Meehan-Chagaev idea…

Junior flyweight Edgar Sosa lost his protest to the WBC of his knockout loss to Rodel Mayol, which was aided at least in part by a head butt that reportedly left Sosa in need of surgery for a variety of wounds. I honestly don’t know what the referee’s ruling was on whether the head butt was intentional — the WBC says no, BoxingScene says it was — but I do think the WBC is doing the fair thing by allowing Sosa to contest for his old title against Mayol as soon as he heals up. As for allowing him to contest directly for the WBC flyweight belt, currently held by Daisuke Naito and scheduled for a defense this weekend, I don’t exactly get that…

Consider the following noteworthy acts of boxing journalism: A. ESPN’s Melissa Isaacson writes up the fallout from Francisco Rodriguez’ ring death, a case that has gotten some deserved attention in the mainstream media. When a boxer dies, it’s always a sad story; when a boxer dies and his organs save eight lives, it becomes a different kind of story all together, and Isaacson tells it best among columns I’ve seen. B. Junior welterweight Devon Alexander is profiled by the AP’s Nancy Armour here, and it, too, has elements of the sad mixed with the uplifting. It’s a well-done piece. C. Much-maligned middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik gets a chance to defend himself at length in this Kevin Iole piece. Iole wrote another “everybody says he sucks but little did you know” piece about Floyd Mayweather that came off as a little gullible to me, and generally speaking I personally wouldn’t covet that niche of being the guy who writes up such a promoter-friendly storyline. That said, in this case Pavlik has some interesting things to say, and it’s worth considering his case….

With the robe and ring and Michael Buffer-announced walk to the stage, Jennifer Lopez gave some love to boxing this week at the American Music Awards, and it’s one of two reasons I won’t make fun of her for falling during her routine. The second reason is that the fall is VERY slight, and she recovers exceptionally well. If I was the ref, I don’t think I would have caught the knockdown. Shades of Mayweather-Zab Judah.

Round And Round

Ivan Calderon-Brian Viloria is in talks for 2010, and it’s an interesting fight between the junior flyweight champion and a talented-but-erratic and charismatic challenger. I’m not sure where Viloria-Omar Nino III goes, as I thought Nino was Viloria’s mandatory opponent for his alphabet title strap, but whatever. The hang-up, according to the Calderon camp, is that they’ll fight Viloria anywhere, including in Viloria’s home state of Hawaii, if they get a rematch clause. I think that’s a good offer from the Calderon camp, if it’s been represented correctly.

Top Rank, Cotto’s promoter, wants him to return in June, possibly with junior featherweight Juan Manuel Lopez as part of a Puerto Rican Day Parade week double-bill that would be in Yankee Stadium, Top Rank boss Bob Arum’s persistent fantasy locale. I think June makes sense, and I think Lopez + Cotto as a PR duo does solid business, but I’m not sure how any of this works out with Lopez’ anticipated match-up with Yuriorkis Gamboa around that same time frame. File under “believe it when it’s signed.”

Paul Williams is calling out both Mayweather and Shane Mosley at welterweight, and if Williams keeps up his winning ways, I have to think he eventually gets one of them, maybe in late 2010. Mosley has a three-fight deal with HBO, with the first against Andre Berto in January, and if Mosley can’t get the winner of Mayweather-Pacquiao (assuming that happens), then who’s a better option? Joshua Clottey? Then who, after that? And Williams still insists, even though no one believes him, that he can make 147. He says he walks around at about 157. I really do think we should believe him until he proves otherwise. The guy just keeps doing absurd things with his absurd body, bouncing around at various weights, so I don’t see why he can’t get down to 147 if he walks around at 157.

If Bute wins this weekend, it appears his most likely options are Pavlik or Chad Dawson. I like both fights. I also think that if Bute is contemplating going to Dawson’s light heavyweight division, he should give a look at Jean Pascal, too. CANADIAN FIGHT OF THE CENTURY!

Staying at 168: Carl Froch vs. Kessler in the second leg of the Super Six tournament appears headed for Denmark March 6. Froch would get Arthur Abraham back on Froch’s home soil of England. I’m fine with fighters having home field advantage for individual Super Six fights as long as they don’t always have it, a la Ward.

Cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek looks like he’s going to fight Feb. 6 in Newark against Jason Estrada, his second straight heavyweight fight. Estrada is a far more viable opponent for Adamek than was Andrew Golota, and even if Estrada doesn’t have any pop, he’s a big man who an box and is not, like Golota, borderline shot.

We’ve known for a while Alexander was interested in Marcos Maidana, but Boxingtalk reports that talks for that fight in March on HBO are real. I think that’s a really nice little fight — I’m a fan of both men, and we’d find out how Maidana deals with a superb boxer/how Alexander deals with a superb puncher.

The endless saga of “will they/won-‘t they” Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez IV, tentatively figured in for Feb. 27, won’t be that date now, because everyone in boxing is scared shitless by the Winter Olympics. We all know every sports fan on Feb. 27 would be like, “Should I watch curling, or boxing?” OK, maybe Canadians, but not the U.S. audience.

Robert Stieglitz will defend his super middleweight belt Jan. 9 against Edison Miranda. I like this fight a good deal, as it features good punchers with fragile chins. Stieglitz just won the belt in a gritty war with Karoly Balzsay, while Miranda’s trying to rebuild his career a bit to make him not so one-dimensional. No matter what goes down, I don’t see this one lasting 12.

Heavyweight Alexander Povetkin was due to fight Owen Beck Dec. 5, but Beck is now out. One proposed opponent is Cedric Boswell, and I like that bout a lot — Boswell’s a real opponent, compared to Beck. Leo Nolan is the other option, which doesn’t impress me much just looking at Nolan’s record, but I’m guessing he’s an upgrade over Beck.

One of the (justifiably) overlooked aspects of Z Gorres’ recent collapse, coma and recovery is that it leaves bantamweight Fernando Montiel without the man who was expected to be his next opponent Feb. 13. Michael Domingo is the anticipated replacement, and while Domingo’s got a few losses on his record, he is coming off a knockout win over Jose Navarro and therefore is an acceptable opponent.

Heavyweight question mark Alexander Ustinov may fight Monte Barrett Dec. 12. Ustinov is a mystery — big, sure, but any good — ? Barrett is long past the point of being able to answer whether somebody’s a contender, but he is the most qualified foe of Ustinov’s career.

Middleweight prospect Fernando Guerrero returns to ShoBox Dec. 18, against Jessie Nicklow. Both men are from Maryland. The fight will be in Minnesota. Don’t ask me. Also, Nicklow seems like a step back from Guerrero’s recent opposition, although Guerrero went 3-2 against Nicklow as an amateur.

47-year-old Evander Holyfield vs. 41-year-old Francois Botha Jan. 16? I’m buying my ticket to Uganda now. (I am not.)

(Round And Round sources: BoxingScene; Boxingtalk; FightHype)

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.