Quick Jabs: Show Me In St. Louis Preview And Prediction; The Slow Motion Tragedy Of James Kirkland’s Once-Bright Career; Pizza Face Vs. Bitchko; More


(Deandre Latimore works the pads; photo credit: Bob Barton)

Deandre Latimore, above, could be the junior middleweight to rid us of Cory Spinks once and for all. He gets his chance tonight on a Showtime card out of St. Louis that also features nice junior welterweight prospect Devon Alexander, which I’ll preview momentarily. Also discussed in this edition of Quick Jabs, besides the subjects in the headline: Floyd Mayweather teams up with Don King?; the return of Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez; the continuation of Mikkel Kessler’s waste of talent; and more.

The Rest Of The Weekend

I’ve always disliked Spinks, and maybe I shouldn’t. There’s nothing about him personally I dislike; he is a very skilled boxer, and I usually dig that; and I admire that a guy who couldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight (h/t Jay-Z) has managed to make a career in boxing. I just can’t stand watching him. He bothers me. A lot. Latimore, last time out, impressed me. Sechew Powell gave their fight away to a certain degree. But Latimore showed athleticism, power and a dose of boxing skill to knock out a real contender in the division. With Kenny Adams in his corner, I don’t think he’s a one-hit wonder. Spinks can be outworked, and long layoffs haven’t helped him in the past since he tends to blow up between fights. He came in under weight, so maybe he’s trained properly this time. I still like Latimore for the decision win. And I don’t know much about the guy Alexander’s fighting on the undercard, but I like Alexander a good deal generally.

The chance of seeing Latimore beating Spinks, and a look at Alexander, is enough for me to watch that show Friday night instead of the ESPN2 show featuring two fighters I confess to having never seen, junior featherweights Antonio Escalante and Gary Stark Jr., plus awesome super middleweight prospect Daniel Jacobs. Although maybe it’ll be easier to catch the Showtime show on replay, so we’ll see. It’s a busy weekend to be sure, with the highlight being Saturday night’s two broadcasts, which also feature super middleweight Allan Green on the Showtime undercard and junior welterweight Lamont Peterson on the HBO undercard in fights that don’t sound so competitive. Also in action this weekend, off TV, against uncompetitive-sounding opposition: John Duddy, Kasim Ouma, Felix Sturm, Daniel Ponce De Leon and Paulie Malignaggi.

Quicker Jabs

Junior middleweight star-in-the-making James Kirkland’s numerous gun-related charges, all while on parole, could be enough to kill his career. It’s so unbelievably sad. Keeping in mind that these are only charges, why does he need so many damn guns? While on parole? With his career just getting ready to take off into the stratosphere? None of it looks good. And I’m being selfish, I know, but I enjoyed watching every move Kirkland made. He was just so much fun. And now he may be in jail for the rest of his prime. It’s one of the more tragic stories in the sport right now. Short-term, it means Kirkland won’t be on the May 2 Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton junior welterweight championship fight pay-per-view undercard. That undercard now has the look of literally the worst undercard I’ve ever heard of for a major fight. At least Kirkland, who was going to blow through some patsy or the other, is exciting to watch even when his competition is lacking. The rest of the fights are crap…

Floyd Mayweather Jr. + Don King? It could happen, according to Dan Rafael. I’m not as anti-King as I used to be, but I’m not sure what Mayweather is thinking here. He’s evidently in need of cash or else he wouldn’t be returning, but a lot of King fighters end up in court with him and/or poorer despite his tendency for garish minimum purse guarantees. King + Mayeather certainly would bring about some of the most boastful promotional blather in the history of the sport, anyway…

Junior featherweights Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez, forever linked for their trilogy but long-recovering from the last fight in the sequence more than a year ago, are both to varying degrees moving back toward the ring. Marquez is taking a bit of a soft touch in his ring return May 23, which is totally appropriate. Meanwhile, Vazquez has been cleared by his doctors to return to gym work. Their returns are heartening, but the caution they have both exhibited is commendable; the temptation to throw them both back in the ring for big paydays might have been unwise from the standpoint of their long-term health, and I love these two dudes so much that I want them to be healthy and rich for as long as they live…

HBO in August will air a documentary on the Luis Resto-Billy Collins scandal, pretty smart timing from the standpoint of the recent scandal involving the hand wraps of welterweight Antonio Margarito. HBO is up for scads of Emmys Monday for its boxing programming, from its 24/7 shows to documentaries to Ring Life…

Off their victories last weekend in the Philippines, junior flyweight Brian Viloria and flyweight Nonito Donaire are getting keys to the city in Manila and victories parades and stuff. Good for them, and good for the Philippines for embracing its other boxers, as opposed to just being Pacquiao-centric…

Highlights of recent Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye trash-talking for their June heavyweight clash, the promotion of which has been soooo much fun lately: Klitschko said he would turn Haye into a “pizza face” (give him pimples?); Haye called Klitschko “Bitchko.” Har har har har har…

I’ve tried to give Duddy the benefit of the doubt for the time last year when he snapped at me, but I’ve read since about at least two other instances where he’s snapped at reporters, Michael Woods being the latest victim. I’ve heard a good deal about his warm personality, but I’m beginning to think he might be, you know, a little bit of a jerk. As Terry Lane quipped to me on Twitter, “interesting. Maybe that is an outward expression of his anxiety knowing that he simply cannot compete at the elite level.” Snap. I do still like Duddy as a TV fighter, though. I hope he takes up Peter Manfredo on his challenge…

Junior welterweight Kendall Holt entered a guilty plea for money laundering today, but it doesn’t look like he’ll do any time. It’s been a bad month for the talented but mercurial Holt, coming off his loss against Timothy Bradley that had he tried a little harder, he would have won.

Round And Round

Fights in the works! It’s a mixed bag this week.

There are a few different tidbits about Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez in July, among them that it’s sounding like a pay-per-view, that they’re still not on the same page about what weight in the 140s to fight at, and that Mayweather (unsurprisingly) wants more money than HBO is willing to give. It’s not the same economy as when you left the game, Floyd. Erik Morales would be on the undercard, maybe, so as to build potential interest in a Marquez fight that nobody is much enthused by given that Morales has been retired and didn’t look very good in his last few fights prior to his retirement.

Victory parade boys Viloria and Donaire have some intriguing pot
ential fights on the horizon. Viloria has the neatest: A potential match-up with the finest little man in the game for the last many years, Ivan Calderon. That’s an intriguing boxer/puncher bout, and both sides say they want it. No date has been mentioned, but it would be in Manila. Donaire has a left hand injury he has to nurse — his hand injuries may be the only thing that can stop him, by the way — but next could get Fernando Montiel at bantamweight, if you’re listening to his promoter Bob Arum, or Jose Lopez at junior bantamweight, if you’re listening to his manager, Cameron Dunkin. I hope it’s Donaire-Montiel. I just think it’s such a good fight, and I’m not sold on Lopez; I haven’t seen him before, but his record doesn’t impress me. No date on this fight, either, although I’d like to see Donaire get back in the ring as soon as possible — those long layoffs have bit him in the ass before.

The talks about Celestino Caballero and Yuriorkis Gamboa meeting at featherweight, this time somewhere between July and September, are heating up again. As a big Gamboa fan, and as a big admirer of Caballero, I worry about my boy YURIORKIS GAMBOA! being able to handle that gangly monster. But he might have the weight and strength advantage, so I say, “Why not?” Nobody wanted this fight for a while, but now HBO and Showtime may be interested. Out of nowhere. If Caballero can’t get Gamboa or network interest, he’s looking at Bernard Dunne at his traditional junior featherweight, and that’s an intriguing bout, too, with Dunne coming off his thrilling 2009 Fight of the Year candidate from a month or two back, even if I’d probably favor Caballero pretty heavily.

Two cruiserweights who deserve a nice bout, “Contender” Season Four winner Troy Ross, and Ola Afolobi, last seen pulling off what might be the Upset of the Year against Enzo Maccarinelli, might fight each other around June 20. Good fight.

Having lost out on the Andreas Kotelnik sweepstakes (sounds funny, don’t it?), Victor Ortiz might instead fight Marcos Maidana June 27. Maidana can really punch, so that’s no joke fight. The winner would face the victor of Amir Khan-Kotelnik. Can you imagine how huge Khan-Ortiz would be?

We now get to the crap-fight portion of Round and Round. Most crappy is Bernard Hopkins-Felix Trinidad at super middleweight, which Hopkins now finally says he wants according to Don King. I’ll believe it when I see Hopkins say it, but Hopkins hasn’t rejected it and the news has been out there for a while. Trinidad would get a whopping $15 million for that fight, if you can believe it. I think that figure’s at least a couple decimal points off. I wouldn’t pay a buck fitty to see it. Hopkins is still a vital force in the sport; Trinidad has looked horrible in his last few outings. Hopkins knocked out Trinidad with relative ease when Trinidad was still a vital force in the sport, so you tell me how this one goes.

I don’t care much to see Roy Jones Jr. fight Jeff Lacy at super middleweight, but at least it offers the prospect of being a competitive bout. There’s a verbal deal according to Jones to fight in July on another split boxing/mixed martial arts card. Both men are roughly the same level of over-the-hill, and Lacy was never as good as Jones, but he’s still got the one thing that can cause Jones huge trouble — a big punch. Since both are Florida-based, maybe somebody in Florida would care to see this thing. I don’t have a huge problem with guys fighting on past their primes as long as they’re not doing anything to jeopardize their health, and this fight makes odd sense for both men.

Super middleweight Mikkel Kessler is the reigning pound-for-pound “King of Wasting One’s Own Talent.” His next fight is currently slated — no date yet — against yet another no-name, no-hoper, and as the best fighter in the division, it just continues to frustrate me to see such an exciting, quality boxer with star potential spin his wheels. And you can make excuses all you want about this guy being his mandatory challenger, but I’m sick of Kessler’s excuses. Fight somebody real, man.

(Round and Round sourcing: ESPN; BoxingTalk; BoxingScene, Los Angeles Times)

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.