Quick Jabs: Juan Manuel Marquez Bulks Up; Kelly Pavlik – Paul Williams Back On?; Lennox Lewis Defends His Mic Skills; More


There are many things besides those mentioned in the headline in this edition of Quick Jabs — like the dreamy Edwin Valero-Humberto Soto fight that may be on the Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto undercard, notes on this weekend’s fights and a good deal more — but we start with Juan Manuel Marquez. Although his Sept. 19 bout with is at a weight that is being kept secret for no good reason, since we’ll all find out eventually, it is according to ESPN’s Dan Rafael at 144 pounds. That means bulking up for the lightweight champ is a must. And, based on the pictures Golden Boy released, I’d say the results are mixed. Looking at the picture above, Marquez looks more muscular and broader than I might expect. I’ve attached another picture, though, where muscular isn’t what he looks like. What does it mean? To be continued momentarily below. [And, per last week’s procedure — because I don’t feel like waiting around for it — when Rafael posts his notebook to ESPN.com.com/boxing today, I’ll just comment on its many newsy items via the Twitter feed to your right.]

Quick Jabs
This weekend isn’t much of one for boxing. There’s a decent Friday Night Fights headlining bout on ESPN2, when the hot junior featherweight Antonio Escalante takes on Cornelius Lock. I haven’t seen much of Lock, but he’s promoted by Mayweather Promotions, which means he’s as good as that outfit has — a guy who’s competent enough to be a B-side on an FNF/ShoBox card. The featherweight Velasquez brothers will be in action, and I’m interested to get a longer look at those prospects. The Saturday night pay-per-view is increasingly in tatters after junior middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. pulled out with a “rib injury” (not being able to make weight) and featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa had to pull out, too. Lightweight Urbano Antillon is now the biggest star of the show, and junior flyweight Giovanni Segura this week got a replacement opponent, Juanito Rubillar, although that’s potentially an upgrade because he’s a top-10 guy in the division…
Didja see how Derek Jeter was trying to get tickets to the 145-pound bout between Pacquiao and Cotto in November? That says more to me than Kobe Bryant saying nice things about Manny, since, as Nike stablemates, Kobe was probably just being a good corporate shill. Still, I bet that tickets for that fight will be ultra-hot with the celebrity set. They should be…
Cotto has signed a two-year deal with Top Rank, so those rumors of him leaving his promoter for Golden Boy were evidently bunk. I’ve been hard on Top Rank’s Bob Arum for how he’s handled Cotto vis-a-vis the controversy over Antonio Margarito getting busted this year with loaded gloves and whether those gloves were loaded for the Cotto fight; Arum just flat took Margarito’s side in the whole thing, and based on that, I thought Cotto would have been wise to leave Top Rank. But overall, if you take out that one very major exception, it’s hard to say Cotto has been ill-served by Top Rank. They’ve handled his career wonderfully, doing so many things right to turn him into a star…
R.I.P., Marco Nazareth. Always makes me wince when a boxer loses his life because of something that happened in the ring…
If you haven’t caught it yet, world class trainer Freddie Roach is profiled in the latest edition of HBO’s Real Sports. It’s a good feature, one that that focuses on his Parkinson’s but sheds light on why he isn’t married, among other things. Boxing news-wise, the headline for me was that Roach has encouraged bantamweight Gerry Penalosa to retire after his latest loss, a terrible beating in a brave stand against Juan Manuel Lopez. Previously, I’d opined that if  Penalosa wanted to fight on, there was no direct evidence to suggest he shouldn’t. Now there there’s reason to think he should call it a day. If Roach thinks Penalosa needs to retire — and Roach has been wrong about that before, granted — then I think he should, too…
The Joey Gamache case has progressed a good deal of late, and this article ought to catch you up on it if you’re not familiar with some of the details about what happened in 2000 when Gamache fought the recently deceased Arturo Gatti and ended up terribly injured. I didn’t follow the sport as closely then as I do now, so I haven’t had much to say about the case; nor am I an expert in the laws that pertain here. There are a great many things that are fishy about the incident, to say the least, but it’s hard to see how some of that can be established for legal purposes in some of those instances. For example, I do think that it’s damning that Gatti exceeded the next-day weigh gain limit — he was at 15 pounds, more than the 11 pound margin — but I worry that because that 15 pound figure came from HBO’s unofficial scales, the word “unofficial” will trip things up. Still, if the argument is negligence, perhaps Gamache can reach the standard. It’s my personal view, based on what I’ve read, that Gamache was wronged. I hope he gets the justice he deserves…
Back to the Mayweather-Marquez weight. The latest reason given for why it won’t be disclosed is because both sides signed an agreement not to release it. But I still don’t understand why it would be the kind of thing that even should be a secret. ESPN’s Dan Rafael just chalks it up to Mayweather being a “prima donna.” I guess that’s as good an excuse as any. (And I did notice Mayweather’s ridiculous racial remarks about mixed martial arts, but I’ve used up all my outrage against the guy in recent weeks. Suffice it to say that his remarks are racist, wrong and disingenuous)…
Noteworthy in the second picture of Marquez, just below, is that he looks a tad soft. That might be indicative of how he usually looks going into training camp; I simply don’t know. But if he’s gained weight he wouldn’t usually have walking around in order to get into the right range, that bodes even more poorly for his chances than I currently rate them. Here’s what the news release said about what Marquez was doing in camp: 

Eyewitnesses say it is evident that not only is Marquez bigger, but his training includes a special focus on body work and technique as he looks to defeat the undefeated Mayweather, a six-time World Champion in five weight divisions. 
“I know where he’s been hurt and I’m going for it,” said Marquez.  “He is vulnerable now and I will take advantage of his weakness with a body attack that emphasizes two things-the right and the left.”
Another testament to this new resolve are his grueling two-hour runs in the mountains of Nevado de Toluca at a staggering elevation of 13,500 feet.
“The mountain is a magic place and gives me the freedom to visualize the night of the fight and how I am going to beat him,” said Marquez.  “It is also building my endurance, making my legs stronger and building muscle across my whole body.” 
Marquez has also been adding weight as he works through technique in training. 
Marquez finished, “I’ve been working gradually with the extra weight, which is going to be pure muscle and make me stronger than ever by the time I step in the ring September 19.  Mayweather is going to be the first one to feel the difference.”

We’ll end here before going into Round and Round on what Lennox Lewis had to say in Ring magazine this month about his commentating on HBO. I spend a lot of time badmouthing the guy on that, and I think he’s missed the point with what he said; it’s not that he didn’t go to broadcast school or that he doesn’t express his opinion enough. It’s that he conveys almost no useful information at all, and that the opinions he does express are often groundless and wildly off the mark. But since I’ve never seen him defend himself, I figured his remarks bore repeating. It’s from the Sept. issue, if
you want to see the rest of the interview.

The Ring: You’ve received some criticism for your work with HBO. Do you think it’s fair?

LL: I’m getting used to the role. I’ve found commenting is like skateboarding, because you’re surfing all the time, like in the ring. It’s obviously not easy. People went to school for broadcasting and all of a sudden I’m placed into a role. At first, I’ll admit, it was a difficult adjustment. I wasn’t comfortable because I never did it before. I think I’ve grown into the role. I understand what I’m supposed to be doing and I understand my worth. I talk about things I used to experience in the ring. As far as opinions go, everyone has an opinion and they want to know my opinion. That’s slowly coming out. At first, I admit, it wasn’t. I’m not out there to slam boxers. It’s what I used to hate when I fought — commentators slamming fighters, calling them bums and this and that. I understand what fighters had to do to get to this level. It’s like a fighter’s code. It’s why I hate when other fighters trash talk about other fighters. I’m thinking, Dude, you know what these guys ahve been through because you’ve been through the same thing. How stupid! You have to show some tact. Overall I do think I’m getting better as a broadcaster, and that comes from hard work, and I feel a lot more comfortable. 

Round And Round
As far-fetched as the bout sounded last week, talks for middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik to fight shapeshifter Paul Williams in the fall are reportedly renewed. BLH also says Pavlik trainer Jack Loew told a Youngstown radio station they’d be fighting someone who wasn’t on their original list for a September or October bout, which Williams wasn’t on, of course. This doesn’t jive with what Williams promoter Goossen Tutor was saying just a couple days ago, that they still wanted to put him on an HBO doubleheader where he’d fight junior middleweight Sergei Dzinziruk. Pavlik, in my opinion, is the most dangerous opponent available at 160 or below for Williams, because the size difference isn’t so pronounced as it is for most Williams opponents and Williams has never fought anyone who punches as hard as Pavlik. It would be another great addition to the packed fall lineup if it happened.
Heavyweight Chris Arreola was going to be the other man on the Williams doubleheader in September or October, fighting Oleg Maskaev, but with Vitali Klitschko now searching for an opponent, he’s looking at Arreola as his top choice. Vitali’s timeframe is also September or October. Still feel Arreola gets beaten up in that one, but he makes sense as Vitali’s opponent because he’s exciting and American and he won’t punk out the way David Haye did. As for Haye, his November fight with Nicolay Valuev may get stalled by John Ruiz, the mandatory title challenger to Valuev who is threatening legal action. The other option is that Valuev could drop his title, I guess.
Weird report out there that Arthur Abraham might fight the winner of Lucian Bute-Librado  Andrade II early next year. Abraham is tied up with Showtime’s super middleweight tournament, and neither Bute nor Andrade are involved. There are a few things that would have to happen, though. Abraham would have to win his opening fight in the tourney against Jermain Taylor, and his expected January fight against the winner of Carl Froch-Andre Dirrell would have to be delayed. If Abraham beat the winner of Bute-Andrade II, it would increase the odds that the division could crown a lineal super middleweight Ring champion, so I’m in favor of it for that reason and, naturally, the likelihood that it would be an excellent bout. But if Abraham lost, it would do some damage to the tourney unless for some reason his conqueror was able to then replace Abraham in the tournament. Weird.
Golden Boy Promotions wants former junior welterweight champion Ricky Hatton to keep fighting, and the idea is to put him in against Marquez if Marquez can’t beat Mayweather. I’d still rather see Hatton in a tune-up fight that shows me he is capable of fighting on at all after a pair of huge knockout losses in 2007 and this year. Until then, I’m skeptical of Hatton fighting anyone who’s world class.
Bob Arum is talking about putting Edwin Valero in a lightweight fight against Humberto Soto on the undercard of Pacquiao-Cotto. Arum (like so many other promoters) has led us down this road before of talking about top-notch undercard fights, but Valero-Soto is must-see TV however it happens. If it happens on the Pacquiao-Cotto undercard, I’d do three backflips in a row, and I’ve never done one backflip in my life. It would be that inspirational.
After a brief flirtation with not being on, Zab Judah-Matthew Hatton now looks like it’s back to being on. The junior welterweight sacrifice of Hatton would be on the Mayweather-Marquez undercard.
Featherweight Rafael Marquez wants another tune-up fight Aug. 22 before he goes into his fourth bout against Israel Vazquez. Makes sense. He really only was beginning to work off the ring rust in his last bout. If only Vazquez could be talked into doing his own tune-up, because I remain gravely afraid that he is damaged goods.
Lightweight Anthony Peterson has been added to the August “Pinoy Power” card. One bout without a Pinoy in it — like the heavyweight clash between Kevin Johnson and Odlanier Solis — is fine. At a certain point, though, after two or more, maybe it shouldn’t be called “Pinoy Power” anymore. Howsabout “Pinoy Power And Friends?”
(Sources for Round and Round: ESPN; Fightnews; FightHype; Maxboxing; Boxingscene; Bad Left Hook)

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.