Quick Jabs: Whither Versus Network?; Poll On Fightin’ Family Members; Chris Arreola – Jameel McCline Preview And Prediction; More

Also in this edition of Quick Jabs, besides the stuff in the headline: HBO reverts to its crappy pre-2009 form for a night; a questionable Ring magazine ratings decision; THE FIRST EVER QUEENSBERRY RULES POLL; and some fights in the works.

Chris Arreola-Jameel McCline Preview And Prediction, And A Note On The HBO Show

The defining factor in the heavyweight fight Saturday night on the undercard of the middleweight Paul Williams-Winky Wright showdown is that Jameel McCline is absolutely terrified of winning a big fight. He’s certainly the best opponent Chris Arreola has faced. At 6’6″, with good power and decent skills, he often looks the part. At least, he does until his opponent shows an ounce of heart, and then he goes away.

I don’t know what Arreola’s weight is, and that’s important, too, what with it being the most worrisome of a few worrisome bad marks on the promising young American heavy of Mexican descent. It would give an indicator of how seriously he’s taken this fight, how much he’s worked on his defensive lapses, the like. What redeems him is that he’s kind of the heavyweight Arturo Gatti. I just think he could be more.

Even if he hurts Arreola, McCline won’t know what to do. And Arreola is a big puncher, but McCline really has only been stopped once of note, and that was a corner stoppage courtesy perhaps the biggest of all the current heavyweight punchers, Wladimir Klitschko. I don’t think Arreola knocks out McCline, but I don’t think he has much trouble winning a decision against him on the scorecards, either.

Another note on the HBO show: For as good a year as HBO has been having in 2009, it’s a sad relapse that this show is in Vegas. Neither fight belongs there, with Williams and Wright both based in the Southeast and Arreola based in California where Williams has a tiny following, and with the Vegas economy unable to support a card like this in this economy. Reportedly, only 1,000 tickets have been sold. This does Williams zero favors, which, considering the way HBO has devoted itself to trying to turn him into a star, makes no sense for them, either. It’s also on Easter weekend, as if Vegas is where religious types go on that holidy. So why is it there?

According to Steve Kim, Wright apparently wanted it there — hard to believe, but a deficit of craps tables elsewhere is one of the reasons Kim heard — and he has leverage because HBO owed him a date for scuttling another Wright bout, which had Wright talking lawsuit. Wright and Williams are going to get nice-sounding paydays out of this, but it’s a short-term gain for a long-term loss. It’s going to deepen their reputations for not being able to sell tickets, which will make both of them even more easy to avoid because they already don’t bring much money to the table. Poor strategy for everyone involved.

Quicker Quick Jabs

It’s April 10. In December, Versus looked like it was going to become a force in boxing, between The Contender, a Wright fight that was canceled and a great card headlined by a Fight of the Year candidate between cruiserweights Tomas Adamek and Steve Cunningham. Since, the only boxing that’s been on the channel is the conclusion of The Contender season. There aren’t even any fights that Versus is rumored to be in the running for. What happened?…

Ring magazine’s ratings are more reliable than any sanctioning organization, but I’ve got to question their recent decision to dump David Diaz from the lightweight rankings because he hasn’t fought since July. He was at #3, and now he’s gone entirely. But Rafael Marquez, who hasn’t fought in more than a year, remains at #2 at junior featherweight. Either inactivity matters or it doesn’t. I’m not saying this because I’m soft on Diaz; I’m soft on Marquez, too. But the standards here are poor. If Marquez is more inactive than Diaz, he should be dropped also…

Thought it was brilliant the way junior welterweight Timothy Bradley took a knee in the first round after a knockdown that left his knees shaky last weekend? Me too. But George Kimball makes a convincing case that it wasn’t the smartest thing after all. (Yes, I’m the “online scribe” he mentioned, but he isn’t mad at me.) Also, moments after Bradley unified two title belts by taking Kendall Holt’s strap, the WBC threatened to strip him. Sanctioning organizations suck, sanctioning organizations suck, sanctioning organizations suck…

If you were still kind of worried that David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko would find a way to undo a deal for the most meaningful heavyweight fight we’ve had in years, you should know that one of the last remaining hurdles is settled: the location. They’ll fight in a soccer stadium in Germany that seats 60,000. I don’t know if it’ll get filled to the brim, but I bet it’ll get solid numbers, especially with Haye mouthing off between now and June to generate all kinds of headlines…

On April 14, Top Rank boss Bob Arum will meet with welterweight star Miguel Cotto to present him with a list of trainers who might replace Cotto’s uncle/trainer Evangelista after an ugly brawl between the two relatives split up the team. Arum says it probably won’t be Emmanuel Steward, contrary to rumors. I’m not sure who I want for Cotto, honestly. More on this family feuding business below in the FIRST-EVER QUEENSBERRY RULES POLL…

In other trainer news, contrary to reports, Freddie Roach says he has not agreed to train disgraced welterweight Antonio Margarito, but he’s still considering it. Here’s where I must issue a correction. I previously said Roach HAD agreed to train Margarito, based on the headline of this piece: “Freddie Roach to Train Antonio Margarito!” As it happens, in the video attached to the story that I didn’t watch, Roach only said that he was thinking about it. Awful, terrible, incorrect headline, enough to make me question whether I ought to trust that site in the future, but I should have watched the interview and not just taken the headline’s word for it…

I’m still very interested in how the “Lightweight Lightning” pay-per-view did, because if it sold well, it will be definitive proof that a good undercard IS a draw for boxing fans the same way it is for mixed martial arts fans, who have backed good top-to-bottom products while HBO insists that good undercards have no impact on sales. For a further breakdown of the March undercard revival, check out this BoxingScene piece

Former boxer Gernaro Hernandez has beaten the cancer. I offer no boxing cliches here, and just say: It’s great news, and I ain’t surprised, despite the long odds.

Round And Round

Light week on the fights-being-made beat.

Cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek might fight Roy Jones, Jr. this summer on HBO instead of Glen Johnson. I know Jones is the bigger “name,” but if HBO wants Adamek-Jones instead of Adamek-Johnson, they know nothing about boxing. Johnson beat Jones and remains a better fighter at this moment. Johnson deserves the shot and Jones doesn’t.

Lightweight sensation Edwin Valero also might be back this summer on a July 25 Top Rank pay-per-view card, and his two potential opponents, according to Arum, are Edner Cherry and Breidiss Prescott. I like Cherry, but I think Prescott makes more sense. I can’t say I give either man much of a chance of winning, but they wouldn’t be joke fights for Valero, which is what I expect will probably happen in the end when Arum settles on someone else, candidly. Did you see that Valero’s nickname now is “Superman?” Maybe he should have a three way fight about it with Shaq and Dwight Howard.

There’s a little shuffle in the junior welterweight fight lineup. First, Amir Khan will move up from lightweight to challenge Andreas Kotelnik for his belt June 27. I’m not sure why Khan is leaving the division, but Kotelnik is viewed as the least threatening junior welter belt-holder, which is why Victor Ortiz was going to fight him. Golden Boy Promotions at first sounded a little ticked because they kinda sorta had a deal for Ortiz-Kotelnik, but apparently the British television revenue is better than the HBO television revenue, which is sad, but GBP says they understand why Kotelnik would take Khan under those conditions. Classy of them not to bitch too much. Ortiz is rumored to maybe fight Steve Forbes next instead atop a June 27 HBO card, and while I’m not too annoyed by that, I doubt Forbes is a step up from Ortiz’ last opponent, Michael Arnaoutis, although with his chin and defense, he might last longer.

This one, though, is an unqualified smash hit step-up fight: 2004 Olympian Andre Ward is set to fight fellow super middleweight Edison Miranda on Showtime May 16. Miranda is a dangerous opponent for anyone with his power, but not too dangerous to anyone with some boxing ability, which Ward has. But it’s legit, and overdue, for Ward to fight someone like this. I’m looking forward to it.

One potential upcoming fight on the undercard of a show headlined by James Kirkland is a lightweight bout between Michael Katsidis and Vicente Escobedo. I was just recommending that very fight earlier this week — aggressive fighter vs. counter-puncher, with both having a proven track record against the other style.

The undercard to the June 27 pay-per-view fight between middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik and Sergio Mora will be crucial to whether I buy it, especially with the HBO competition the same night, and as of now, what Arum is throwing out there is borderline. One bout would be junior welterweight prospect Mike Alvarado against Paulie Malignaggi, presuming Malignaggi gets past Chris Fernandez, a fighter profiled here and whom I kind of have a soft spot for. The other would be a step up for another prospect, junior middleweight Vanes Martirosyan, who would fight Andrey Tsurkan. Both of those are OK fights, good for all the fighters involved from a career standpoint. They simply don’t quite help overcome the underwhelming nature of the main event, not yet.

Heavyweight prospect-turning-contender Malik Scott would fight Tony Thompson at a date to be determined on ESPN2. I guess that ain’t a bad bout, but with the way the heavyweights have been of late, I’d err on the side of pessimism. (P.S. It’s a down night on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights this evening, but with the great year they’re having, I can forgive them.)

Remember Harry Joe Yorgey’s upset of junior middleweight prospect Ron Hearns a couple weeks ago? His promoter, Art Pelullo, said: “I’ve already gotten calls for bigger fights for Harry later this year. There are some very interesting opportunities coming up for him, and I’m sure that he’s going to rise to the occasion and surprise a lot of people.” I hope that’s true. I like nothing more than seeing upset artists make a little extra dough off their surprise wins.

(Sources for Round and Round: ESPN; Maxboxing; news releases; BoxingScene; The Sweet Science)


The intra-family Cotto fisticuffs, plus the Hearns upset in close conjuction with his father Tommy playing tic-tac-toe against a chicken, plus some quips from friend-of-the-site Jonathan the other day, all made me wonder… What fight do I most want to see between a current boxer and a family member with a boxing pedigree of his own?

I figured it was as good a topic as any for the FIRST-EVER QUEENSBERRY RULES POLL, because honestly, I have never seen much value in polls on blogs. So I figured I’d play with one, and if people like ’em, I’ll throw more out there that are maybe more serious.

I left out some potential candidates for family-oriented boxing match-ups, since I came up with 15 pretty good ones, so here’s who didn’t make the cut: Cory Spinks-Michael Spinks; Manny Pacquiao-Bobby Pacquiao; Miguel Cotto-Jose Cotto; Nonito Donaire-Glenn Donaire; and Matthew Hatton-Ricky Hatton. They either weren’t as funny, or weren’t as potentially competitive, or both.

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.