The man above on the right, light heavyweight Beibut Shumenov (photo from Cyber Boxing Zone), is the most advanced “prospect” you’ve probably never heard of, and he’s fighting this weekend. We’ll get to him in a second, along with the other subjects in the headline, plus a look at some bouts in the works, the paranoid fantasies of Roy Jones, Jr. and Jeff Lacy, the weekend bouts on the slate other than Chad Dawson-Antonio Tarver II, and more. [Including the UPDATE on the cancellation of Kelly Pavlik – Serio Mora.]
First, because there are only so many times I can go strutting victory laps around my own site without coming across as insufferable — I’m sure for some I’ve already arrived — I just want to quickly announce with pride, rather than posting it in a new entry, that we’re on the verge of DOUBLING our previous monthly high for traffic totals. We did really well in a period from November to December, when there was a huge Manny Pacquiao-Oscar De La Hoya fight and as such we quintupled our traffic from approximately when I joined the blog; then did very similar numbers in a period around March, when there was no comparable fight of that size; and now we’ve done really well with a boost courtesy the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton fight.
Obviously, big fights bring big traffic, so those results are something of a mirror on health of the sport as a whole, which is great news — although it’s not entirely just a mirror effect, as the March-ish numbers show, and as is demonstrated by the fact that not all the traffic from last month was coming in for Pacquiao-Hatton. (We can track this kind of thing.) It’s funny that after a year and a half at MVN, people are still finding us, but they are. I really honestly am so grateful to the people who are reading and commenting. I feel like I’ve had a baby and now the baby’s grown up and gone to school and is bringing home awesome report cards.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled ultra-windy Quick Jabs column.
Other Weekend Bouts
So, Shumenov. The guy is wacky. His sixth fight was against Montell Griffin, who had two fights before fought Glen Johnson and once beat Roy Jones, Jr. His seventh fight, in December, was against Epifanio Mendoza, whom some believed deserved the decision in his next-most recent fight against Jeff Lacy. His eighth fight, Saturday, was to be against Alejandro Berrio, who held a title belt until late 2007, but Berrio had visa issues and instead Shumenov is fighting Bryon Mitchell, who once knocked down Joe Calzaghe. Shumenov wants Zsolt Erdei, a current titlist who some believe is pretty good despite ducking legit competition. This is the schedule of a guy with 20 fights, not seven. It’s really strange. And get this — he’s also a promoter. At age 25. And he seems to be pretty good at it. Roman Karmazin and DeMarcus Corley will be on his undercard. He found a replacement opponent who, while a step down from Berrio, is a step or three higher than your average replacement opponent. There’s something preternatural about the man from A to Z. His fight Saturday is in Kazakhstan, his homeland, but he lives in Vegas and someone needs to get this “prospect” on television soon. I’ve never seen him fight, and I want to.
I like the main event of ESPN2′s Friday Night Fights this week. I’ve been watching some clips of middleweight prospect Craig McEwan, a decorated Scottish amateur trained by Freddie Roach, and he can fight a little. Roach was prepared to put him in against Alfredo Angulo not long ago, so that should give you a sense of what he thinks of the kid. McEwan’s opponent is ultra-tough-to-the-point-of-crazy Brian Vera, the Contender television show graduate last seen not hitting the mat against James Kirkland somehow, and one fight removed from upsetting highly-touted Irish prospect Andy Lee. Vera is crude, but one thing he’ll do to McEwan is test his heart. Other prospects on the televised show include lightweight Adrien Broner and junior middleweight Carlos Velasquez, and maybe some others if time allows.
Also, top-5 cruiserweight Marco Huck is back in action Saturday. You can watch the show here. Schedule is here.
One weekend fight it looked like we were going to be deprived of is Hector Camacho vs. Yori Boy Campas. That’s Hector Camacho SENIOR. So it was going to be a 46-year-old man against a 37-year-old punching bag in Atlantic City Saturday, but New Jersey rejected it at pretty much the last minute. Presumably, there is some soul, somewhere in this world, that wants to see this freak show, because it found a home in Orlando. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, any fighter who passes his physical — assuming it’s a rigorous, honest physical — ought to be allowed to fight, and both Camacho and Campas are passing theirs. I just don’t know why anyone would say, “YEAH! THAT’S THE FIGHT I HAVE TO SEE!” It seems like even if they could pass their physicals, they wouldn’t make any money fighting at all. I could help you track down the pay-per-view here, but I’m not going to. You’re going to have to do it yourself. I can’t even support it THAT much.
As I said before, I’ll be covering a local show in Winchester, Va. covering a local show featuring lightweight prospect Bayan Jargal. I’ll write that up then turn my attention to Dawson-Tarver II. Here’s the poster.
Rest in peace, Benjamin Flores. My condolences to your family, Al Seeger and everyone involved. I’ve not read any accounts that anyone did anything wrong in the fight, so it must be assumed that it’s just a tragic, freak accident. Sometimes when a boxer dies in the ring, one of my major feelings is outrage, because it often seems like something could have been done to stop it. Unless we learn that the pre-fight exam Flores was given was shoddy, though, this is just plain sad…
Speaking of fallen fighters, yesterday was the four-year anniversary of Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo, the best fight of all time, if you ask me, and the two-year anniversary of the death of Corrales, who was killed not in the ring but on the road. There’s something kind of weird about the timing issues around the anniversary of that fight — comes word the other day that Castillo is strongly considering retirement. I hope he goes with retirement, especially since he has some business ventures that are reportedly working out for him, because he’s not been a major force in the sport for a long while now and I’d hate to see him end on a tragic note himself. Incidentally, if you’d like to take this occasion to make a contribution to the Diego Corrales Foundation, you can do so here. I’ll be making my contribution today…
In more uplifting news, ticket sales for the Wladimir Klitschko – David Haye heavyweight fight continue to impress. As of last report, they had sold 50,000-plus. They’re very likely at this rate to sell out a stadium that holds 60,000 people, and may need to find a way to accomodate more seats. I’m looking forward to this fight, honestly, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends in the 1st round, one way or the other, given each man’s power and each man’s chin. I hope it doesn’t disappoint the thousands upon millions in attendance…
Sticking with the heavyweights, John Ruiz released a letter this week that is slightly convincing in response to the complaints about him getting another title shot, complaints I myself registered, too. I’ll just publish it, received via news release, word for word: “I’ve been told I’m not the most fan-friendly fighter in the world, my style often criticized as being ugly, but I’m proud to say I’ve never ducked a worthy opponent. For the past month or two, though, I’ve read and heard a lot BS about how I shouldn’t be the WBA mandatory title challenger. A few totally unproven, so-called contenders have whined about them deserving a world title shot more than I do. Why? Who have Chris Arreola, Eddie Chambers, Kevin Johnson or Brian Minto beaten to deserve a world title shot? Nobody! Just compare my list of victories to yours. You guys haven’t come close to doing what I’ve accomplished. I’ve been where you’re trying to get – 11 world title fights (2 WBA titles) — and I’m even willing to risk my WBA mandatory title shot next year against the [Ruslan] Chagaev- [Nicolay] Valuev II winner just to show everyone that I’m entitled to another world championship fight. Prove me wrong. Stop all of the smack talk, try and beat me in the ring – the only place it really counts — to be the real No. 1 American heavyweight. Next year, I’ll be fighting for the crown again unless one of you pretenders step-up and change my schedule.” OK, so Ruiz has a point here, and I like that he’s willing to risk his ranking and put his money where his mouth is. But if Ruiz can make eve
n a semi-credible argument that he’s the best American heavyweight, that is de-press-ing…
Jeff Lacy and Roy Jones, Jr. are arguing that they’re being blackballed by Showtime and HBO for their prospective fight at 170 lbs. Lacy blames his falling out with promoter Gary Shaw, who for some reason has a lock on 99 percent of Showtime dates, and his departure from HBO favorite Golden Boy Promotions; Jones agrees that Jones and Lacy going independent has stopped the fight from getting broadcast. I guess it’s possible Jones and Lacy are 5 percent right, but I think what really, really makes it so Jones-Lacy is having a tough time getting on television is that both fighters are pretty close to, if not already, shot. Anyone out there want to see Jones-Lacy? Not I. They should be happy they can still generate crowds in their native Florida, even. And Jones reeeeally needs to shut up about fighting Anderson Silva in the octagon. I hate it when UFC boss Dana White badmouths boxing, but he’s making the right call not to let this one happen…
Round And Round
[UPDATE: First things first: ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, who has a hand infection, has pulled out of his June 27 pay-per-view headlining fight that no one wanted, against Sergio Mora. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s just postponed and will be rescheduled, and presuably that means Pavlik-Arthur Abraham will be pushed back, too. Junior featherweight sensation Juan Manuel Lopez will step in for Pavlik against someone or the other, the card’s price will come down to $39.95 and the rest of the card will remain intact. Depending on who Lopez ends up fighting, this could end up being an upgrade for the ppv.]
Vernon Forrest-Sergio Martinez, a long-awaited junior middleweight title fight scheduled for August, is very likely to be canceled, as Forrest is citing an injury and isn’t cleared to fight. Considering Forrest has been putting of Martinez for damn near two years, call me skeptical.
The good news is that Showtime had been reserving some cash for that fight, and may now have money in its budget for a fight fan’s fight between cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek and Glen Johnson. Crossing my fingers, because the alternative is that Showtime will throw Andre Dirrell in against someone, and who knows it it would be anyone any good.
Featherweight Jorge Linares, the most cursed fighter in boxing these days, had his last fight canceled because of the swine flu, after repeated fight cancellations due to injury. He might end up fighting on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez. I hope he does. And I hope it’s not against a tomato can. Linares is mega-talented and he needs to be fighting top competition. Also, Zab Judah, now signed with Mayweather Promotions (finally, an actual contender signed to Mayweather Promotions!) could be on the undercard, but there’s no opponent yet after lightweight Joan Guzman said no to a 142-pound meeting.
I’d badmouthed middleweight Felix Sturm on Twitter for signing to fight Khoren Gevor in July, but it was out of ignorance. He is to be commended for it — Gevor is ranked #4 at middleweight by Ring magazine, so it’s a legit fight for Sturm. Something about Sturm’s track record makes me instinctively skeptical of his competition.
Lots of heavyweight news, for some reason, so we’ll do this in two parts — Odlanier Solis-Fres Oquendo on May 22 has been postponed because of what Solis calls a training injury, but his team says they want to make the fight happen still. I think it’s a good test for Solis, a heavyweight with some promise. Oquendo deserves a nice-sized fight, too, having been robbed a bit in that James Toney loss. Also, the May 15 Friday Night Fights headliner between Monte Barrett and Kevin Johnson is off after Barrett pulled out with a training camp cut. Another heavyweight prospect, Devin Vargas, is in. Vargas and Johnson have virtually identical records, but Johnson has faced the better competition. Vargas was going to fight Bruce Seldon on the undercard, and Johnson knocked out Seldon last year. Still, it doesn’t look to be too bad a save, although I can’t say I was pining for Johnson-Barrett, either.
Heavyweight fights in the works news part II: Speaking of Toney, he’s in talks for a July 4 fight with Sergei Liakhovich in a pay-per-view that might also feature Sam Peter and Michael Grant, although not necessarily against each other. I suppose they could call the pay-per-view “Washed Up Heavyweights.” Also July 4, Eddie Chambers — last seen in a fatty-fight against Peter — could fight Alexander Dimitrenko on a separate card. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure Thomas Jefferson and John Adams would be absolutely thrilled about all that “exciting” heavyweight action on our country’s birthday.
Happy birthday to WF: Junior lightweight Robert Guerrero will be fighting on Friday Night Fights June 12 against… Jonnie Edwards. Edwards was last seen getting obliterated in one round by YURIORKIS GAMBOA!, then knocking out a way over-the-hill Freddie Norwood, so THIS should be competitive. Or not.
Lightweight Juan Diaz is likely to return against somebody or the other on Aug. 22 on HBO. Not even a potential opponent has been reported. Possibly on the undercard, though: Guerrero-Roman Martinez (good, interesting fight); Linares; and Vicente Escobedo-Michael Katsidis at lightweight (good, interesting fight).
Allan Green has reportedly priced himself out of a summer fight with super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following his career; Bute may instead fight Joe Spina, which isn’t nearly as interesting. Also in the super middleweight division, Jesse Brinkley wants Jermain Taylor. It’s a good fight for both men — Brinkley thinks he’s a rising tide in the division and Taylor would be a great scalp, and Taylor needs to fight someone who poses him at least a little trouble when he comes back to the ring, if not a mega-elite name.
At long last, we finally have Ndou-Ndou. Lovemore and Phillip will fight at welterweight July 11, and if only we could get Herman Ngoudjo in there, it would be the best three-way fight ever between men with names that start “N-other consonant.” Can I make the obvious joke here? I’m picking Ndou to win.
(Round and Round sourcing: Fightnews; Boxingtalk; BoxingScene; ESPN; news releases)
CORRECTED: I absolutely screwed up an earlier draft of this post when I mismatched the identity of a boxer. That section of the article has been rewritten entirely.