Quick Jabs, Round And Round: Boxing’s Game Of Musical Chairs Continues; Location, Location, Location; More

IMG_0049 Miranda (L) vs Cruz 001.jpg(Tom Casino/Showtime)

Above are the two prospects who tonight will kick off the season debut of Showtime’s Shobox, the network’s show oriented toward putting youngsters in against the toughest opponents of their careers. On the left is Leonilo Miranda; on the right is Orlando Cruz. Both weighed in at 127 pounds. Both are undefeated against questionable opposition, but Miranda’s record is particularly gaudy at 23 of 24 wins via knockout. I’m interested to find out if he’s for real — writers I respect have heard he is. Also on the card is the pro debut of 2008 U.S. Olympian Gary Russell, Jr., who’s less experienced than your usual Shobox fighter, and whose opponent is presumably roadkill-in-waiting. He weighed in at 127 pounds, too. There’s very little value in televising a fighter’s pro debut, if you ask me, and the novelty of seeing some of the Olympians in action has worn off, at least until they step up the competition a little. There’s also a third bout.

Also tonight is ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights card that originally was to feature junior middleweight (154 lbs.) Carlos Quintana against Eromosele Albert, a good match-up; and then Quintana pulled out, and Albert was due for a rematch of what was said to be a good bout with Ossie Duran; and now Germaine Sanders is replacing Duran for some reason, and Sanders is on a three-fight losing streak, albeit against decent competition, so the card has degenerated a bit. Middleweight (160 lbs.) prospect James McGirt’s on the card, too.

So that sets the table for some Friday night pugilism. Allow me to serve up appetizers in the form of some Round and Round and some Quick Jabs.

Round And Round

Let’s start by going Round and Round for
some fights in the works, which could be the only thing I wrote about
here these days if I decided to let it be only about that.

The Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton megafight at junior welterweight (140
lbs.) continues to be on then off then on then off. Right now, it’s
off, and Hatton’s threatening to take another fight offer. Why?
Pacquiao said he feared he would be a “laughing stock” if he took a
50-50 split. Manny, check again. You’re catching hell from nearly
everyone who writes about boxing and a great many fans for being
greedy. And after a while, as nice a guy as you are and as much as
everyone wants to root for you, the greed of your advisers and your
vulnerability to their influence becomes an invalid excuse. You are the
one who’ll turn the fight down, and you are the one who will look bad
for doing it. Hatton says he has an offer for a fight in his home
country that could draw 80,000 fans, and I don’t doubt him —
presumably, that would be Oscar De La Hoya, or maybe Floyd Mayweather,
and if it’s the latter, Mayweather wouldn’t be an option to you. So
you’re shooting yourself in the foot about three different ways, and
it’s time to stop being stupid.

Marco Antonio Barrera and Amir Khan squaring off in Great Britain on
March 14 is a highly interesting bout between a faded legend and a
prospect trying to restore the shine he lost with his first loss via
vicious knockout. I think it’s a terrible, terrible idea for Khan.
He’ll be younger and naturally bigger because Barrera’s only just moved
up to lightweight (135 lbs.), but as much as Barrera has faded, I think
he’s got plenty left to rock the shaky-chinned Khan’s world. This is
too much too soon for Khan, but I suppose it’ll be interesting to find
out if I’m wrong for saying that.

After his double-header card next month headlined by welterweight (147
lbs.) Miguel Cotto and himself, middleweight (160 lbs.) champ Kelly
Pavlik is apparently giving a real look at Felix Sturm, according to
his promoter, Top Rank boss Bob Arum, which surprises me. A fight with
Arthur Abraham makes more sense, not only from an economic standpoint
but from a match-up standpoint and the standpoint of who could make him
look worse. Pavlik-Abraham is a brawl that Pavlik can lose and still
have cred if he fights well and it’s a fun bout. If Sturm won, it would
be because he jabbed him silly and cemented the impression that Bernard
Hopkins’ schooling was because Pavlik doesn’t know how to box. Is there
anyone out there who really wants to see Pavlik-Sturm?

Jermain Taylor’s gotten himself into another one of those sagas where
his opponent isn’t clear for forever; now Showtime wants him, either
for a super middleweight (168 lbs.) bout with Carl Froch, or a
catchweight fight with light heavyweight (175 lbs.) Glen Johnson, or
for some kind of ambiguous but interesting-sounding super middleweight
tournament or something. They also want to sign him to a multi-fight deal. I thought we were trying to get rid of that crap?

Cruiserweight (200 lbs.) champion Tomasz Adamek may fight Jonathon
Banks in February, after B.J. Flores pulled out. I repeat — Adamek vs.
Steve Cunningham II is the fight Adamek should be making, but absent
that, Adamek-Banks isn’t a bad fight at all.

Because you’ve been eagerly awaiting his return, junior middleweight
(154 lbs.) Cory Spinks is obliging by reaching a deal, reportedly, to
fight Deandre Lattimore. No time or date has been announced yet, but
I’m going to guess the two St. Lunatics end up in… Canada.

There will be no Nonito Donaire versus Jose Lopez, says Arum. Donaire
instead will apparently stay at 112 and defend his belt against an
unworthy opponent in March. Besides the downgrade in opposition,
Donaire has been saying he’s having trouble making 112 pounds these
days. But that’s as sexy as this one gets, I’m afraid.

Hot featherweight (126 lbs.) Bernabe Concepcion could end up fighting
Steve Luevano next, which I like the sound of; we get a lot of visitors
here touting Concepcion and he looks good, so why not throw him in with
Luevano? Alternately, he could end up with Oscar Larios, which I would
protest just cuz ol’ “Brain Bleed” Larios, title belt or no, shouldn’t
be fighting anymore, and maybe that’s why everyone wants to fight him.
Larios could end up with a rematch against Takahiro Aoh, or in another
rematch with Israel Vazquez if Vazquez can’t get Rafael Marquez or Juan
Manuel Lopez.

Ivan Calderon could now end up on the Pavlik/Cotto card, but after all of
the bouts Arum talked about putting on that pay-per-view that now won’t
be there, I will doubt this one’ll happen until I’m personally holding
a copy of the contract. Arum had talked about putting lightweight
Anthony Peterson in against Julio Diaz, maybe, but as you’ll learn in a
line or two, that now looks unlikely.

Julio Diaz and Michael Katsidis could fight in April on Versus. Or
ESPN2. Given each man’s styles, it would have to be a dark horse Fight
of the Year candidate that either network should be honored to have.
It’s also an appropriate fight for two boxers who are trying to rehab
their careers a little.

Junior welterweight Paulie Malignaggi is coming back, and he’s coming back, reportedly, against Mike Alvarado. Not a bad bout, I guess, although I still think Paulie should call it a day absent miraculous hand surgery or an even more miraculous ability to fight through hand pain than he’s shown in the past. Where might it end up? Why, the mythical Pavlik/Cotto undercard, of course.

Joshua Clottey’s pissed about Kermit Cintron pulling out of their
welterweight bout. I don’t suppose I can blame him. But Clottey, who’s
reportedly been difficult to negotiate with at times, would do himself
some favors if he was more pliant at that phase of things until he won
over the people who don’t like his fighting style. I’m not saying
Clottey was tough to negotiate with for this particular fight; but the
reason Cintron pulled out was because, according to his promoter, there
was “no money” in the Clottey fight. I think the fans who don’t like
Clottey’s style have bad taste, but if you want to demand a lot of
money, then get paid, you have to be popular with the fans, and some of
that’s on you. Anyway, his next likely mandatory challenger is Isaac Hlatswayo, despite the fact that he recently had a draw in a title eliminator. Oh, alphabet title belt politics.
Heavyweight Alexander Povetkin vs. Jason Estrada? I say yes. I think Povetkin is a good talent who needs more seasoning before he gets destroyed by Wladimir Klitschko, which should be a fight he makes years from now if ever, not in September.

A few exciting young fighters with dates but not opponents:
featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa will headline Shobox April 3, and
lightweight Breidis Prescott would be on the same card; which is
assuming Prescott makes it past Humberto Toledo on Feb. 20, which he
should, on a card he would share with exciting cross-in-his-chest-hair
slugger Richard Gutierrez and once-televised but impressive-looking
Erislandry Lara, both junior middleweights.

We’re getting into “call out” territory, more than fights being made or
negotiated. Johnson said he’s willing to fight Mikkel Kessler at 170
lbs. Kessler should take him up on it for everyone’s sake. Heavyweight
Sam Peter said he wants some Chris Arreola, and I know I’ve given this
a thumbs-up before, but it deserves another.

This is just in the “sad” category: Jose Luis Castillo is planning
another fight at welterweight, and Roy Jones, Jr. is planning some
fight or the other for March. Hang it up, fellas.

Only The Quickest Jabs

Now, assorted tidbits, like a truncated section of the usual Quick Jabs column I call “Quicker Jabs.”

Occasionally, someone will drop by our site and suggest that it’s not the lineal Ring magazine champion we should consider the real champ, but the man who holds the most unified alphabet title belts. Nate Campbell’s recent dilemma gives lie to why that won’t work. The tri-belted lightweight recently had to drop one of his title belts or else face his second consecutive mandatory defense against a lesser-known opponent, all at considerably sanctioning fee costs that the Ring champ doesn’t have to endure. He would of course love to fight Ring champ Juan Manuel Marquez, a bout everyone wants to see. I say the following with the caveat that under the Ring policy, there’s no requirement the champ fight his #1 contender at any point: A fully-unified alphabet title “champion” would almost certainly NEVER fight his #1 contender. He’d be too busy fulfilling mandatories. And he’d probably never make any money, because the mandatories would hardly ever be the most money-making opponent this hypothetical “champion” could fight. Once again: The Ring policy may not be perfect, but it’s the best we have out there. Everyone should embrace it…

Why in the world is tomorrow night’s welterweight clash between Andre Berto and Luis Collazo in Biloxi, Miss.? Berto’s from Florida. Collazo’s from New York City. I’ve largely praised the way Lou DiBella, Berto’s promoter, has moved his man from prospect to the precipice of becoming an attraction. But Berto’s got no regional fan base, and it’s hard to see how this bout gives him one. Biloxi’s nearly a 12 hour drive from Miami, and a 10-DAY WALK…

At least somebody’s putting a fight in Florida — with a month to go, as of Wednesday, it looks like the mouth-watering HBO tripleheader for Valentine’s Day finally got a site, down in Sunsrise in the place where the NHL’s Florida Panthers usually play. Why there? This one’s a little wacky, too, but hey, it’s an upgrade from the boxers fighting in an empty television studio, which it looked like they might be doing. Although I used to watch the (mostly) empty telvision studio thing for professional wrestling back in the 80s, when Jerry “The King” Lawler and Andy Kauffman duked it out in the wrestling association that came to my hometown every week and aired on the TV once a week…
Dude, I finally saw a picture of Michael Jennings. I’d been looking for a picture of Cotto’s next opponent, but not even the British boxing press seemed to have any. The press conference they had this week changed it all. Here’s what he looks like, if you were curious…

I really need to remember to program my DVR for “The Contender.” I’ve only caught one episode this year, and I was grateful I did. I had the same problem back when “Arrested Development” was still on the air, and the same problem now with “30 Rock.” The difference is that I bought the entire run of “Arrested Development” on DVD and watching boxing matches I know the result of already isn’t the same thing. Someone please remind me on Wednesday, I beg of you…

Good news for our Canadian readers, of which there are a good many, as it happens. Google Analytics tells me so. Anyway, your “Super Channel” — whatever that is, cuz I thought WGN was the Super Channel, or maybe that was TBS — is picking up Showtime fights that never could before be seen in Canada. It’s gonna be a regular thing. If you are Canadian, you should be happy about this. I’m serious.

(Sources: ESPN; FightNews; news releases; BoxingConfidential; BoxingScene; The Los Angeles Times; Boxingtalk; My fevered imagination)

[CORRECTED: I had the names reversed in the photo.]

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.