Quick Jabs: The Sadness Of Paul Williams; The Compassion Of Gary Shaw; The Peace-Making Of Amir Khan – Dmitriy Salita; More






So this is what rigor mortis feels like. Boxing is so dead that a heavyweight fight in Poland this weekend between Andrew Golota and Tomasz Adamek is set to break records for live attendance at an event in the biggest facility in that country, and it’s set to be viewed by 10 million people or more on television, or about one-fourth of the country — a population greater than for any prior television event, including a previous Golota fight, which previously held that record. That is one hell of a stiff corpse you got there, pugilism. Between that and the outstanding pay-per-view buy numbers and much-improved HBO ratings the sport has done in America in 2009, and the historically-sized fight crowd in Germany this summer, and nearly one-third of the population of Denmark recently tuning in to a bout there that wasn’t more than a stay-busy fight for one of its boxers, you’d think the body would have gone from rigid to mummified by now.

Oh well. I guess I’ll keep writing about boxing anyway. There’s the stuff in the headlines, along with some thoughts (again) on HBO’s budget; reflections on Bob the Lizard; tales from the camp of Miguel Cotto and public relations schedule of Manny Pacquiao; and much more, including fights in the works for Hozumi Hasegawa, Zsolt Erdei, Victor Ortiz and other boxers.

Quick Jabs

I started to talk about this the other day, but one of the most depressing things to me about the cancellation of the Kelly Pavlik-Paul Williams fight Dec. 5 is that if Williams had knocked off the middleweight champion, it very well could have been his ticket to the kind of stardom I believe he deserves. I beat a few drums around here, among them the boxing-isn’t-dead line I started off with, and one of my bigger drums is that I think we have in Williams an exceptional fighter who ought to have a commensurate level of fame and fortune. Would he have beaten Pavlik? I honestly don’t know. But if he had, especially in the kind of action-packed fight the two were destined to produce, the whole world would have stood up and recognized. Pavlik was that kind of name, that kind of star, and nobody who might replace him — which we’ll get to in the Round and Round column later on — offers the same kind of deal. The upside, I suppose, is that this frees up some HBO budget, which Dan Rafael thinks might allow HBO to buy Vitali Klitschko-Kevin Johnson at heavyweight Dec. 12, although I doubt they buy that fight in particular — HBO has plans for Dec. 12 with the junior welterweight rematch between Juan Diaz and Paulie Malignaggi. (In the same Rafael item, check out the tidbit about Bob the Lizard. Funny stuff)…

I’ve seen it reported in a couple different outlets, among them Ring mag’s website, that HBO is slated for budget cuts, a point of dispute between boxing writers Thomas Hauser (who reports a potential $15 million slashing) and Rafael (who reports those numbers are off, but won’t say what they are). For instance, William Dettloff wrote, “It’s not a coincidence that the boxing budget faces another reduction in the coming year…” So I’m assuming that means others have confirmed this independently, which would appear to vindicate Hauser’s reporting. My only other media note for now:  Can someone teach the people at Ring’s website how a hyperlink works? They always just drop the whole URLs in their stories, like this — http://www.ringtv.com/blog/1228/showtime_deserves_the_accolades_it_has_received/ — and, well, in that piece…

I don’t worry so much about the following with the Super Six tournament, Showtime’s innovative super middleweight series of bouts: Fights that don’t live up to expectations; controversial decisions; boxers pulling out of their next fights for reasons like Jermain Taylor’s career being effectively over. What I really worry about, more than anything, is the lawsuit being brought by Mikkel Kessler’s old promoter, Mogens Palle. If Kessler fell out of the tourney because of said lawsuit, it would really do greivous harm to the validity of the tournament. It would also show that mammoth enterprises like six-men tournaments are, indeed, impossible to pull off, and would send the message that ambition is something to be punished, not rewarded…

From the department of good public relations, albeit questionable public relations: Manny Pacquiao will be appearing in advance of his Nov. 14 145-pound bout with Miguel Cotto on Jimmy Kimmel, Nov. 3. Big deal, but man does Kimmel fail to amuse me. Also, don’t know if anyone else has seen this Pacquiao-Cotto “Face to Face” segment on HBO with Max Kellerman, but he sits down with Pacquiao and Cotto and asks Pacquiao questions, who proceeds to deliver useless sports soundbyte talk about how he’s going to try his hardest or whatever, while Cotto simply stares his stone-faced stare. This doesn’t sell the fight to me. Less fluffily, Cotto has explained why his team kicked Francisco Figueroa out of training camp as a sparring partner, citing Figueroa’s clowning and showing off as the reasons. Nothing against Frankie, but I’m more inclined to believe that than the idea that he was kicking Cotto’s ass in sparring. Figueroa just got leveled by Randall Bailey not that long ago, and I don’t know if you guys remembered the ease with which Cotto demolished Bailey…

I’ve complained in the past about how promoter Gary Shaw’s tendency to personalize things is one of his bad points, such as when junior bantamweight Nonito Donaire left his stable and Shaw proceeded to use that as an excuse to keep Vic Darchinyan out of a Donaire rematch everyone in the world wanted. But there’s an upside to him personalizing things, and it’s that I think he’s quite sincere when he says he thinks of boxers who work for him as family. Shaw’s hosting junior middleweight Alfredo Angulo in his New Jersey home in advance of a Nov. 7 fight in Connecticut, which is a mighty cool gesture…

You know who else is playing it cool? Amir Khan and Dmitriy Salita, two junior welterweights who are fighting Dec. 5, are Muslim and Jewish, respectively. If they decided to talk up that angle, they probably could sell more tickets and make more money. Instead, both of them are saying all the right things about how it doesn’t matter what religion they are. “If anything, its’ a positive event, where two people from different backgrounds can come together,” Salita said. Class acts. I joked before that “If these two men can punch each other peacefully, there’s hope for peace in the Middle East.” But there’s a strange crumb of truth to that…

I guess I’m in a mood where I’m impressed by people in boxing doing the right things. Here’s another such nugget: For his upcoming Dec. 2 fight, light heavyweight Bernard Hopkins is sending portions of each ticket sale to charity. I’m sorry I’m not being grumpy and stuff right now. I know that’s funnier. But seriously, it’s cool of Hopkins to be making that move…

Oh, here’s something that’s annoying: ITV in the U.K. passed up the chance to air a Super Six fight featuring Carl Froch beating (<—snicker) Andre Dirrell last weekend. So they’re replaying it Saturday. Huh? What kind of dumbassery is that? Why didn’t you pick up the live fight, when people would have wanted to watch it most?…

My grumpiness is mounting. Golota looks straight-up chubby at 256 for his Adamek showdown. I guess he’s thinking, “One last paycheck, doesn’t matter if I win or not, allll right.” I guess Golota’s never really had all that much pride, per se…

Grumpy x3: Fernando Vargas, the retired boxer who’s not much of a player in the sport anymore in any conceivable way, thinks he and Oscar De La Hoya are the “face of boxing.” OK then. I guess his mom’s lacing his taquitos with LSD these days. (But I do root for him to become a successful promoter, all grumpiness aside. Good luck, Varg. One note on Zab Judah, who becomes of note momentarily — Vargas is promoting his next fight. But Judah was recently under a different promotional banner.)

Round And Round

So, those prospective Williams opponents: junior middleweight Sergio Martinez is said to have the inside track, but his promoter, Lou DiBella, is talking up the idea that Martinez deserves big cash for this one. I think he loses that gamble if he plays his hand too strong here. HBO loves Williams, and its love affair with Martinez is of a far lesser passion. It’s still the fight I’d most like to see for Williams — Martinez is a bigger, faster, harder-hitting tricky lefty than Carlos Quintana and we all know about the trouble Williams had for one night with Quintana. Another major option, also Serg-based, is Sergiy Dzinziruk, another dangerous challenge who’s beaten the likes of Daniel Santos and Joel Julio. I like this one OK rather than a lot, only because Dzinziruk is a complete non-entity in the United States, so beating him proves nothing to anyone but the hardcore heads who already knew about Williams — although Dzinziruk is another sharp-boxing lefty, and I guess beating him would prove that those aren’t Williams’ kryptonite, which a lot of people think. And what of Kermit Cintron? He was a “maybe” for the Dec. 5 undercard already, and if he wins this weekend, he’d be a good option at junior middleweight. There’s been some talk out there about whether a fight with Pavlik will ever be rescheduled, but to be candid I’d be surprised if anyone wants to deal with Pavlik ever again, the way he’s behaved this year. (Note to Rafael: Nobody is saying Pavlik shouldn’t have pulled out of the fight if he wasn’t physically well — that’s a straw man. People ARE saying that he’s probably to blame for the fact that he wasn’t well, and that’s why they’re ticked off at him.) And there are some people proposing Williams for the Super Six, but the guy’s totally unproven at 168 and it seems like he should prove a little more at middleweight even before moving up again.

As for Quintana, he’s now minus a date with the way the Dec. 5 card shook out, since Top Rank, Pavlik’s promoter, is now out of the event and isn’t goinng to keep its welterweight fighter Joshua Clottey in the Quintana undercard fight. Clottey took a gamble by insisting on going ahead with a December bout when a reshuffled winter schedule left him minus a date with Shane Mosley, and surely would have made less against Quintana than Mosley, who since has moved on to a possible Jan. 30 bout with Andre Berto. If that fight can’t happen, I have to think Clottey’s back in the mix for Mosley, yeah? Quintana himself lost out on a paycheck as he originally was scheduled to fight on the same card as Cintron this weekend, and now they’re looking to salvage something for Quintana in 2009. Cintron, by the way, got called out by Daniel Santos at his press conference in Puerto Rico, and if Cintron doesn’t get a bout with Williams and Santos wins his fight Nov. 14, Cintron-Santos is a pretty good fight that probably would sell a few tickets in PR. Cintron has been talking up the idea of fighting Mosley or Cotto, so I guess we’ll learn a lot about a lot of these fighters’ options in the next couple weeks depending on how things shake out.

Heavyweight Chris Arreola will be on the Dec. 5 undercard headed up by Williams-somebody, and the card is likely to move to the West Coast, where Arreola is popular and Goossen-Tutor believes Williams has a following. I might still try to attend this card. It is unlikely, however, to include Arreola-David Tua, and there hasn’t been much scuttlebutt about whom Arreola would fight if not Tua. It is a good thing that he’s jumping back on the horse so quickly, Arreola. For all the harsh things I’ve had to say about his conditioning, he’s a damn fun fighter, and I root for his success.

I’ve not given bantamweight Hozumi Hasegawa the same level of love he’s gotten in some quarters because I don’t think he’s beaten much of anybody very good in the last few years. But if he goes through with a bout against Eric Morel, as proposed for December 18, I think he’d have a chance to boost his pound-for-pound stock. Cuz the guys he’s been massacring in one round, those are pretty good fighters but they’re not anything like the class of the bantamweight division. Morel is closer to that.

Junior flyweight Edgar Sosa is saying he is up for a rematch with Brian Viloria, but Sosa says a lot of things and does very few of them.

Light heavyweight Zsolt Erdei doesn’t do much of anything, either, but he’s doing something interesting by moving up to cruiserweight to battle a legit cruiserweight Giacobbe Fragomeni Nov. 21. He’s challenging himself, which is inherently good. But if he is successful and stays at cruiserweight, he’d be dropping the lineage of his light heavyweight title, one of the last confusing disparities from when Ring magazine reinstituted its championship policy and somewhat arbitrarily made Roy Jones Jr. the champion rather than respected the division’s real lineage. If Erdei leaves the division for good, that means the real lineage would effectively merge with the Ring lineage.

When lightweight Edwin Valero fights Dec. 19 in Venezuela, it will be against Hector Velazquez, who basically has no chance.

Victor Ortiz’ comeback bout to start his recovery from a knockout loss and weird post-fight interview this summer will be against Antonio Diaz at 144 pounds on Dec. 12. It’s a legit comeback opponent, as Diaz is old and faded but is in the midst of a quasi-successful comeback himself and is bigger than Ortiz, who has been a junior welterweight to this point.

Light heavyweight Antonio Tarver is eyeing Tavoris Cloud and Jean Pascal, which means he’s still go a fighter’s instinct — good for him for not being afraid of a couple talented-but-proven youngsters in his divsion. But I’m not sure Pascal needs him, making money fighting up in Canada like he does. And I’m not sure what network picks up Tarver-Cloud, seeing as how Tarver’s not much of a draw and Cloud is still such an unknown. I think Tarver can still fight, I just like him enough at the announcer’s table that it’s my preference for him.

Joke fight time! Part 1: Ricky Hatton says he would come back to the ring for a rematch with Floyd Mayweather, as his loss to Floyd sticks in his craw what with referee intereference that kept Hatton from fighting his mauling style. I like Hatton, but if he thinks he can beat Mayweather now — coming as he would be off a second brutal KO loss, the first delivered by Mayweather and the second delivered by Pacquiao — well, that’s all the evidence we need that he’s gone stark raving mad from getting smashed in the face too often, and is overdue to retire.

Joke fight time! Part 2: For his Nov. 6 bout, welterweight Zab Judah has a new opponent — Adailton De Jesus, a featherweight for most of his career who recently got smoked in one round at lightweight. Dammit, something about this sounds familiar… Judah, a welterweight, fighting De Jesus, a career-long featherweight who looked overstretched when he moved up to lightweight… and De Jesus is going to have to stretch even further to move up to welterweight. Hmmm. I just can’t place this deja vu. I give up. But congrats to Judah for getting back into the ring after such a long layoff. I’m guessing that’s what fighting under the Mayweather Promotions banner gets you — results!

(Round And Round sources: BBC; ESPN; BoxingScene; BoxingTalk; Maxboxing)

Ben Koo

About Ben Koo

Copying and pasting my Twitter bio. I'm also refusing (for now) to write this in the third person. This is me - CEO of @Bloguin, GM at @AwfulAnnouncing, world's greatest chinese jew, proud Buckeye, funny dude, and sports and digital media zealot.

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