Quick Jabs: YURIORKIS GAMBOA.; Trash Talk for Haye-Klitschko, Miranda-Ward, Goossen-Arum; Someone Wants Williams; More

Besides the preview of tonight’s Showtime card featuring YURIORKIS GAMBOA. (capitalization/punctuation subject to change depending upon how I feel about “my son/love child” at any given moment), and the other stuff in the headline, this edition of Quick Jabs features this stuff: the latest on Floyd Mayweather, Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez; the latest on Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton; and other stuff.

Yuriorkis Gamboa – Jose Rojas

Yes, YURIORKIS GAMBOA. I like the talk coming out of my favorite prospect’s mouth this day. The featherweight is talking defense. Those are just words, surely, but I don’t remember them much coming out of his mouth before at all. It’s the biggest flaw in his game, defense. The speed, the power, the excitement, that’s there in spades. He’s got some other issues besides defense, but they’re related — balance, chin. If he solves the D equation, maybe he’ll live up to the hype I’ve given him. In just his 15th fight, he’s fighting for a kind of title, although it’s a stupid “interim” one, but the point is that this is a benchmark he’s reaching.

His opponent tonight is Jose Rojas, for whom no film whatsoever is available. So here’s what I know about Rojas. He had two fights with the magnificent Chris John, and was roughly even with him in the first fight before a clash of heads led to a technical draw, then lost badly on the scorecards in the rematch. Those who saw it say it was closer than the cards demonstrated, and although Rojas got dropped, he also wobbled John at one point. Rojas also knocked out Celestino Caballero six years ago, although Caballero was still on his way up. Still, he’s proven he can hang with two guys who are in my pound-for-pound top 20, even if he’s lost all of his title shots. He’s taller than Gamboa, and is described as an awkward and aggressive boxer-puncher. His biggest problem, I think, is going to be that he’s only fought once each in 2006, 2007, 2008 and now 2009, and he’s 36 years old.

So it’s a little bit of a mystery how stiff a challenge he’ll give Gamboa. I’m nervous for my boy, but not too much. I’m hitting the town tonight, but the first thing I’ll do when I get home is watch how YURIORKIS GAMBOA. did in a fight against what is probably his stiffest competition.

Quicker Quick Jabs

Trash Talk Dept., Submission #1: I know a lot of people don’t like the big mouth on unproven heavyweight David Haye, but my feeling on these matters is, as always, that the louder the trash talk, the more flamboyant the promotion, the greater the coverage, the better for ticket sales, and thus the better for the sport as a whole. Check out this t-shirt he wore at a news conference to promote his fight with Wladimir Klitschko, one half of the Klitschko Bros. team…:


Trash Talk Dept., Submission #2: Super middleweight Edison Miranda is one of the sport’s premier trash talkers. This is what he had to say via news release about his next opponent, Andre Ward, who’s promoted by Dan Goossen: “The fight will only go up to the 10th round and that’s because that is when I am going to knock Andre Ward out.: And: “Andre Ward has never been in the ring with a fighter like me – he hasn’t fought anyone talented. If there is one thing that you notice about Andre’s fights, he’s always running.” And: “Andre doesn’t have the heart of a champion. He is holding onto his one achievement, The Olympic Gold Medal, but that is all he will ever achieve.” And: “I feel sorry for Dan Goossen to have invested so much money in such an untalented fighter.” And: “I have over 30 fights. If you compare the challenges that I have taken on throughout my career they are far more than what Ward has faced.” And: “I’m fighting in Andre Ward’s backyard. During the first two to three rounds, you will hear the crowd cheering for him, but as I dominate him and show the fans how a real boxer performs, I guarantee you…you’re going to hear them chanting my name at the end of the night”…

Trash Talk Dept., Submission #3: Boxer trash talking fights are fun; trainer trash talking fights are fun; even promoter trash talking fights are fun. Bob Arum and Goossen have exchanged fire humorously of late. Arum kicked it off by saying in a few different places how much disdain he had for the middleweight Paul Williams-Winky Wright/heavyweight Chris Arreola Jameel McCline. His material on the latter was the best: “Let me tell you something,” he said. “I really got sick to my stomach Saturday night with these two heavyweights who were obviously overweight and out of condition fighting on HBO and representing heavyweight boxing in this country. That to me was a disgrace.” And: “We in boxing criticize the UFC, but Dana White would never, ever allow athletes like that to fight on his cards, out of shape with ridiculous rolls of fat. I think it’s ridiculous. HBO is so worried about lights and camera angles; they should worry about the athletes they give time to.” I don’t know about the UFC comparison, but he has a point — it was embarrassing to see those fatties fat it up. Goossen returned fire thusly: “This is the man that brought us Butterbean, charging pay-per-view for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, pay-per-view for [Kelly] Pavlik and [Marco Antonio] Rubio, pay-per-view for Cotto and [Michael] Jennings to name just his recent shows. To top it off, this is the self-confessed briber who is opening his mouth and that really makes me sick to my stomach,” Goossen said. “His actions were a disgrace to our sport. Now a fighter who goes out there, gives it everything he has and puts his life on line and he wants to berate him?  My suggestion to Bob is to concentrate on what amends he is trying to make to our sport for bringing it down, rather than continue in his path of destruction. Quite frankly, I’m tired of Bob’s constant denigration of our sport and it’s [sic] athletes.” Goossen also has a point…

An update on some happenings for the fight between pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao and junior welterweight champion Ricky Hatton: Kenny Bayless will be the ref, so there will be no zebra controversies. Bayless isn’t the top ref in the sport to me — that’s Steve Smoger — but Bayless is in the discussion for best active referee. He’s a great pick. Secondarily, check out this Kevin Iole piece on the marketing of Pacquiao-Hatton. I’ve made similar points in the past about the need to market fights better, but Iole picked up on something new: I like the way HBO is reaching out to mixed martial arts fans. It may sound like a lost cause to some given the hostility some MMA fans have toward boxing, but I’m very confident that if they watch Pacquiao-Hatton, they’ll find something redeeming in our sport…

Know when Oscar De La Hoya knew he had to hang ’em up? When he was getting beaten up by sparring partners, according to Ron Borges. Good read…

I’m not sure about Cotto picking his nutritionist, Joe Santiago, to train him for the Joshua Clottey fight. I know some people think he can get away with an unproven commodity like that for one fight, but they might be underestimating how good, and how dangerous, Clottey is. I lean toward favoring Cotto in that fight, but man, Clottey is really a very good welterweight.

Round And Round

Not a whole lot on the “fights in the works” beat this week, but here’s what’s been discussed.

Welterweight Shane Mosley and light heavyweight Roy Jones, Jr. want no part of weight-hopping freak Paul Williams, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. What is surprising is that anyone does. Clottey, who’s had his own difficulty getting top welterweights into the ring, is interested. If he beats Cotto this summer, how much heat would Clottey-Williams have? I love that fight. Additionally, there’s been some misreporting out there about whether Williams changed his mind about fighting Pavlik. A few different places, I can’t remember where — Larry Merchant, maybe, was one of them? — have said that Pavlik wanted Williams but Williams pulled out. It’s not accurate. Williams has wanted to fight Pavlik for a while, and he said it again over the weekend. There was a dispute over money, that much is true. There are different claims about whether Williams changed his mind and asked for more at the last minute; but it was Pavlik’s promoter Arum who pulled out of the fight, in the end.

Arum is back to saying that Pacquiao will fight Cotto next, probably in November. Arum says Mayweather — the last guy Arum said Pacquiao would fight next — is going to want 60 percent of the money or more, and that Pacquiao deserves the bigger share because he’s the bigger star. I do believe Pacquiao is the bigger star on a global level. I have no idea if he’s the bigger star in America, because Mayweather has only been the A-side in a fight once or twice, and those fights did comparable numbers to Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez II. It’s not a fair comparison to say that Mayweather did better numbers against De La Hoya than Pacquiao, thereby proving he’s the bigger star, because a lot of boxing fans were very sour on the Pacquiao-De La Hoya match-up. And if Pacquiao does good numbers against Hatton, I’m not sure that means he’s the bigger star, either; Hatton is a huge draw in his own right.

Mayweather-Marquez has hit a hurdle because Marquez wants the fight close to 140 pounds and Mayweather wants the fight close to 147. As a huge Marquez fan, I’m partial to his reasoning here; fighting Mayweather is already a bad match-up for him, even though Marquez called Mayweather out, and the bigger Mayweather is for that fight, the worse for Marquez. It’s the biggest paycheck Marquez can get, and I want him to get paid, but he’d be pushing all his chips to the center on that fight because if Mayweather blows him away — a distinct possibility — then he probably won’t be in line for another big bout any time soon, and he’s 36. The latest is that Mayweather has agreed to come down to 145, but Marquez’ team still wants a lower figure.

I’ve not traditionally been a fan of Top Rank pay-per-view shows and have only bought one I can think of, because they’re often loaded up with mismatches and crap. But maybe Arum is turning the corner. First up is the pay-per-view this weekend, which is a quality show. I usually could give a damn about Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., but Arum is trying to make a deal for the next JCC Jr. show to feature lightweight Edwin Valero against Breidis Prescott. Their combined records are 46-0 with 43 knockouts. That’s a good fight. And get this: Top Rank said he may put junior featherweight Ivan Calderon on the June Cotto-Clottey undercard. Why? According to Top Rank president Todd DuBoef, “We’re discussing it. Calderon deserves to fight at the [Madison Square] Garden on Puerto Rican parade weekend. I have no television money for the fight, but I just love him. If we can make it work, I’d like to give him the opportunity. I also want to give the fans a really good show. I have to give them more than the main event and some BS four-rounders. HBO is only televising one fight that night but I need the fans to get value for their tickets so I have to give them more content.” That is such a relief to hear. I hope Top Rank means it.

I know HBO wants us to believe Arreola could cause Wladimir problems, and I suppose it’s not completely absurd, but I would give the younger Klitschko a huge, huge edge in that fight. But there have been chit-chats for a possible Arreola-Vitali fight, and if you ask me, that’s the perfect way to ruin a young fighter’s career.

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

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.