Quick Jabs: Manny Steward Flirts With Miguel Cotto; Building Boxing Fans, One Fight At A Time; Other Weekend Bouts; Fights In The Works; More

Welcome to the weekly Quick Jabs column. Besides the topics in the headline, we’ve got some “tsk tsking” for scurrilous reports about Kelly Pavlik, among other remarks I’d file under “belt/ranking/media commentary;” a closer look at Floyd Mayweather, Jr.’s double-talk; boxing on the Internets; and more.

(Thanks to everyone for their best wishes today, by the way. It got me to thinking of Bjork.)

Other Weekend Bouts
We’ve already talked about Wladimir Klitschko-Ruslan Chagaev and Adrian Diaconu-Jean Pascal, the most important bouts of the weekend. But this weekend — it’s jampacked. Jam. Packed. For some reason this weekend AND next weekend are STUFFED.

There’s a Friday Night Fights card of moderate quality, featuring two of my minor faves: A. Pint-sized featherweight Monty Meza-Clay will bring his ultra-aggressive style to the main event on ESPN2, against Fernando Beltran, Jr.; and B. junior middleweight Joe Greene will fight someone or the other. Meza-Clay is bouncing back from a questionable stoppage loss, while Greene is bouncing back from a fight that was canceled because he had kidney stones, which I hope never to acquire as they are said to be more painful than being stabbed by a pitchfork. Meza-Clay’s bout could be a slugfest, while Greene — a very talented prospect/borderline contender — is just staying busy. Also on the card is welterweight Demetrius Andrade, the 2008 Olympics grad who looks to be the best of the bunch.

Additionally tonight, the winner of the most recent season of The Contender, cruiserweight Troy Ross, will be on the Versus undercard of Diaconu-Pascal. Minor fan of his, too.

ALSO tonight, you can watch talented middleweight prospect Fernando Guerrero for a five spot at www.prizefighttv.com. AND there’s a gofightlive.tv card, too. (We’ll get to the broader subject of Internet broadcasts of fights momentarily.)

Saturday night, there’s a Box Azteca card that doesn’t much interest me, although I’d watch it if I had Azteca America. And at various points of the weekend, the following noteworthy boxers will be in action on assorted cards, although nowhere you can really see in the United States legally: welterweight Luis Collazo; lightweight Alex Arthur; hevyweight Alexander Ustinov; cruiserweight Jonathon Banks; middleweight Andy Lee; junior featherweight Edgar Sosa; and light heavyweight Hugo Garay.

Quicker Jabs

I’m not saying Pedro Fernandez’ “scoop” on Kelly Pavlik checking into rehab is or isn’t true; it is noteworthy to point out that everyone on the middleweight champion’s team, including Pavlik himself, is incensed and denying it, and there’s been a vague threat of legal action. It’s also noteworthy that no other reporter has duplicated Fernandez’ report, which is usually a bad sign, not a sign that the person who broke the scoop just has such better sources. But if you frequent RingTalk.com, you should know that Fernandez’ record of accuracy is decidedly hit or miss, and, in my experience, more frequently miss. If you see anything on his site, and nobody else reports it in a day or so, do not — repeat, do NOT — take it as gospel. Otherwise, you’ll end up thinking Freddie Roach has already signed up as Ricky Hatton’s trainer and assorted other things that have turned out not to come to fruition. I say this knowing that more than a few of my colleagues have trusted Fernandez. It happens. They’re all smart people, and I’m not putting them down. And, yes, Fernandez sometimes gets a legit scoop. I’m just letting you know my view of anything he gets the “scoop” on requiring some caution. P.S. Fernandez says he’ll soon post a video of Pavlik falling down drunk somewhere. I’m not sure that proves he entered a rehab clinic. It would prove, at most, that Pavlik got drunk at least one time. Again, this story may turn out to be right, or it may not. Just be careful with Fernandez, is all…

Floyd Mayweather, Jr.’s most devoted fans spend a lot of time defending their man’s elaborate rationales for his opponent choice, but BoxingInsider.com recently practiced the art of “give a man enough rope and he’ll hang himself.” They just took his own statements, over time, and threw them together to show how endlessly the man contradicts himself. Some of the contradictions be justified — he liked Bob Arum and had a falling out with him later, thus the change of opinion — but most cannot — like dismissing the idea of fighting one guy because he had four losses then immediately signing to fight a guy with nine, or saying he only fights big names then saying he owed it to unknown Henry Bruseles to give him a chance. I wonder if anything can remove some fans’ vice-like grip on Mayweather’s jock (seriously, can we stop calling him “Money” Mayweather if his most recent fight had only sold 3,000 tickets with one month to go?), but I’d hope his own words could do the trick…

Manny Steward wants to train welterweight Miguel Cotto, which is a little surprising, considering how a week ago he was praising his opponent, Joshua Clottey. Still, any top-notch trainer for Cotto makes sense, I think…

Hey, the WBA said “no” to the idea of Chagaev keeping his title title (that is, his status as a titlist, weird as it is). Broken clock. Right twice a day. Tomorrow, as a result of this decision, we get Nicolay Valuev-John Ruiz III. Broken clock. Period…

Check out this piece from a New York Daily News intern about his first visit to a live boxing match. He concluded that for an “all-out rush,” boxing was “second to none.” He’s right. And this is why I say: Boxing makes believers one fight at a time. Put the right fight in front of just about anyone, and they’ll become a fan…

There’s been some discussion that Ring magazine should establish a new precedent and sanction its #2 light heavyweight, Chad Dawson, and its #3 light heavyweight, Glen Johnson, for the championship of that division. I wouldn’t be opposed. If the #1-ranked man isn’t fighting after a set period of time — as Bernard Hopkins hasn’t since October, and as he apparently won’t be until 2010, if at all — then I support dropping him from the rankings altogether. But if you won’t do that (and Ring has been inconsistent about this), then why not consider allowing two guys who are fighting regularly just below him to square off for the vacant belt? A better solution to this, by the way, would have been to move Dawson up to the #1 spot at light heavyweight after beating Antonio Tarver, which is what I would have done, and not just to solve this logjam. What has Hopkins done to deserve his ranking at #1? He’s beaten a grand total of one fighter who was a light heavyweight before Hopkins fought him, and that was in 2006. He beat some good guys at light heavyweight, sure, but both of them — Winky Wright and Kelly Pavlik — were middleweights who’d moved up for the opportunity, and over the same period, he has one loss to another previously non-light heavy, Joe Calzaghe. Meanwhile, Dawson had beaten several elite light heavyweights…

One more note on Ring rankings. Despite my gripes, as I’ve said, they remain the best of the best. But I don’t understand why you’d drop Cotto in your pound-for-pound rankings for not looking so hot in a win over Clottey, but wouldn’t do the same to junior featherweight Celestino Caballero after his own recent shaky outing. Either that matters, or it doesn’t. You may have disagreed with my own lengthy ratings criteria post, but the value of any ranking system, it strikes me, is philosophical consistency. Ring would aid its cause even more if it was more consistent in its own ranking criteria…

I’m all about boxing on the Internets, so I’m glad to see multiple such opportunities — starting tonight, as mentioned above, and continuing July 11 when cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek takes a stay-busy fight and it’s broadcast on www.mainevents.com for $10 — but I’m slightly worried about the timing of these recent cards. Tonight’s card is going up against two non-subscription cable cards. Adamek’s event goes head to head with a fantastic Showtime card. If these Internet cards don’t sell well, will all the parties involved keep trying? I hope so. And maybe they can see about different start times or something, so people don’t have to choose one or the other. I’m guessing they still make more money off the live gate on a Friday or Saturday night than if they do an Internet broadcast on a Thursday night, but there’s always going to be stiff broadcast competition on weekend nights…

If you want to see the smarmiest, lamest mixed martial arts supremacist article you’ll ever see, check this one out. It asserts that a 48-year-old ex-boxer (Ray Mercer) knocking out a fat mixed martial artist (Tim Sylvia) would send boxing’s powers-that-be scurrying to use it as evidence that boxing isn’t dead. Has anyone heard Bob Arum touting Mercer’s win thusly? Then I guess the premise of the piece is false, huh? To be sure, maybe Arum has been too busy couting all the money he made that same weekend off a near-sellout crowd in Madison Square Garden for Cotto-Clottey. And if no one else in boxing’s powers-that-be has taken up boxing’s sword in Custer’s last stand aka Mercer-Sylvia, maybe it’s because they’re busy in Canada selling the last of some 20,000 tickets for Pascal-Diaconu. Or maybe they’re finalizing details of Klitschko-Chagaev in Germany, where 60,000 people will be in attendance, the largest boxing crowd in Germany since Max Schmeling fought, back when boxing was also probably dead in the 1930s. Oops! I got smarmy myself.

Round and Round
Fights in the works!

Manny Pacquiao against Cotto for November still looks like the most viable fight for the pound-for-pound king, with details like weight — 144 or 145 — still to be worked out. For those theorizing that Mayweather will somehow be able to get out of his postponed fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, you should know that Golden Boy Promotions boss Richard Schaefer insists that fight must happen. Things can change, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up, is all. Likewise, Shane Mosley’s bid to get a hold of Manny appears hopeless. He had Oscar De La Hoya call ESPN to lobby for it, and I don’t begrudge him for trying and I’d love to see that fight at some point, but Mosley just doesn’t bring the money to the table Cotto does.

That leaves Mosley most likely to fight Andre Berto, by my tea leaf reading. Arum wants to make Mosley-Clottey, which is a good fight, but Clottey probably has less of a fan base than Berto, although neither are superstars, per se. Berto would probably forego a rematch with Luis Collazo — who’s his mandatory title challenger — to take on Mosley. I actually think the fight that would be most interesting would be Mosley-Paul Williams, because I’d pick him to beat Berto and Clottey with relative ease but maybe not Williams; that’s a good toss-up fight, if you ask me. Together, they could probably sell a lot of tickets in Southern California, too. But Berto’s lower risk. It’ll be interesting to see which way Mosley goes.

One day this week, Hopkins said he would never fight again. A couple days later, he said he was looking to fight super middleweight Carl Froch or Adamek next. It’s time for everyone to stop paying attention to what Hopkins says about his plans until such point he sticks to one story for more than a couple days.

Nonito Donaire’s opponent merry-go-round seems to have settled (after a brief flirtation with Rafael Concepcion) on Hugo Cazares at junior bantamweight, which I’ve already given a thumbs up. He would headline an Aug. 15 pay-per-view card. On the undercard — theoretically, I’ll believe it when it’s signed — is a heavyweight match-up between up-and-comers Odlanier Solis and Kevin Johnson. If that card comes through, I’d buy it.

Roy Jones-Jeff Lacy, talked about for a while, is finally a go, also for an Aug. 15 pay-per-view, and Jones wants a piece of Danny Green after in November in Australia. That’s all I have to say about that.

It’s at least a year or more away from now, but it’s nice to daydream about Arum’s dream featherweight match-up of Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa, innit?

It’s a good fight, Chris Henry-Shaun George, but the light heavyweight bout scheduled for July 10 on ESPN2 in a constant state of turmoil. I’ve lost track of what’s happening now, there’ve been so many strange goings-on. Didn’t Henry just get Tasered or something?

(Round and Round sourcing: ESPN; BoxingScene; Boxingtalk; The Ring)

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.