The talk of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.’s return to boxing has advanced beyond wisps of hints of rumors, although a pair of recent stories from trustworthy reporters seemingly contradict one another. On any given day, I think, “Who needs him? He was a pain in the ass, and Manny Pacquiao’s a more exciting pound-for-pound king anyhow.” On other days, like a few hours ago, having just spent some time on ESPN Classic watching some early Mayweather fights, I think, “Man, that dude could fight, clearly is the finest talent of his generation, a real sight to behold. I’d love to see him again and soon.”
Mayweather’s maybe kind of more sure than two days ago return offers up a chance to ponder a variety of fights in the works in a Round and Round feature.
The first non-rumor Mayweather report came from David Mayo on the Ring website. Mayo may be the foremost authority on Mayweather in the world, having followed his career from its inception as a reporter for Mayweather’s hometown Grand Rapids newspaper. I’ve followed Mayo for a while, and I can’t say I can recall a time where he got something majorly wrong on the Floyd tip. He said he got a phone call recently.
A source close to Mayweather’s situation was on the other end of the line. The source virtually is without peer in accuracy, short of hearing the words come from Mayweather’s own mouth, although the source’s name never has appeared in any story about the erstwhile pound-for-pound king. That’s how the source likes it. That’s how it will remain…
“Floyd doesn’t like it that Shane [Mosley]’s calling him out,” the source continued. “It’s one thing when (Ricky) Hatton does it, or when (Manny) Pacquiao does it. But another African-American fighter calling him out is different.”
The piece focuses a good deal on the dance Mayweather and Mosley have done over the years, with Mosley at times wanting Mayweather and vice versa, only for one to duck the other. What’s encouraging is that if Mayweather’s pissed off about Mosley calling him out, and Mosley has said recently he wants Mayweather, then at least they’re on the same page. And it suggests that Mayweather’s recent rejection of Mosley’s advances were based on hard feelings over past meetups not happening more than anything.
Mayweather-Mosley would fill a major gap on both men’s resumes. It’s a shame they never met. It’s also a quality fight between two quick, hard-hitting welterweights that would come just as Mosley has gotten back near the top of the sport; he’s #4 on my pound-for-pound list, and ranked #1 at welterweight by nearly anyone with common sense. It’s more interesting than all but one potential Mayweather opponent, which I’ll get to in a second.
The piece points to a Mosley bout happening later, though, with Mayweather returning first against Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez is the #2 man in the sport, but he’s significantly smaller than Mayweather, having just announced his intention to leave lightweight. I’m not dissing the bout out of hand, but Mayweather would have a number of advantages, and I’d really have very little nice to say about it if it happened at anything beyond a catchweight between junior welter and welter. Mayo writes of Marquez that he is “presentable” to fans and offers few stylistic problems to Mayweather: “Considering all those factors — and the high probability that any comeback by the 32-year-old Mayweather will not be for just one fight — Marquez’s availability, willingness, size disadvantage and clear underdog status might give him an inside track as the comeback opponent.”
Here’s where the second report comes in. It’s from Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, who’s exceptionally cautious about not reporting every rumor that flies his way.
His sources tell him Mayweather is targeting July 11 for a return, with a “tuneup” in mind on regular HBO as opposed to pay-per-view. Marquez may not be the most dangerous opponent Mayweather could pick, but he’s also not a “tuneup.” And I’m quoting Rafael there, not Mayweather sources, although maybe Rafael is paraphrasing them. At any rate, my forensics work encountered a potential contradiction there.
Rafael has a source who says Mayweather wants Marquez, Mosley, Pacquiao and Hatton. “But in Floyd’s mind, he knows there is one Godzilla, and that’s a fight with Pacquiao,” the source told him. The tuneup would be to prepare for Godzilla in late 2009. That, too, appears to contradict the Mayo report, although Mayo’s source suggested Mosley may be up in 2010 rather than this year. Then there’s the issue of whether Top Rank would even be interested in negotiating to put their man Pacquiao in against Mayweather, given the incredible hard feelings between Top Rank boss Bob Arum and Mayweather. But Mayweather-Pacquiao is the #1 fight I’d want for Mayweather’s return, given that they are the two most recent reigning pound-for-pound best, with Mosley #2, followed by Miguel Cotto #3 — another Top Rank fighter — and then there’s a steep drop-off.
Supplementary evidence of Mayweather’s return comes in the form of rumor and innuendo. There have been at least two reports of Mayweather being back in the gym, but ex-fighters often spend time in the gym and it never amounts to anything. There’s the pending sale of Mayweather’s Escalade limo on eBay, which suggests immediate money problems to go along with IRS woes, although it doesn’t necessarily mean that. (Given that the limo is emblazened with “Mayweather Promotions,” it might just mean that the “Floyd-as-businessman” meme is dying off, which is totally hilarious to me, since it’s such a big part of his awful persona and something that a bunch of his more slavish fans seemed to think made him cooler somehow. Has anyone heard about any Mayweather Promotions fighters or shows lately? I guess it hasn’t gotten Mayweather Philthy Rich. Snicker snicker.) There’s the canceled Mayweather appearance at an event and pending “announcement,” although that has been dismissed a little by Mayo.
I can’t guarantee I’ll follow this every step of the way in blog entries, although I’ll probably mention minor developments from time to time in the Twitter feed to the right of the page. There’s only so much of Mayweather’s posturing and antics I can stomach, and I hate getting sucked into it; I can’t be like Ring magazine and one month call Mayweather’s retirement the “Event of the Year,” only to put Mayweather on the cover the next month speculating about his comeback. But the last couple days feel like “real” days.
On to the non-Mayweather fights in the works, fights not happening, or fights people say they want to happen. (I’ve already offered links to most of my source material via Twitter, so if you’re interested in more details, check there.)
Probably the biggest fight in the works remains Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye, and the most recent reports suggest the most significant possible heavyweight bout is back on. I’ll have a lot more to say about this bout when it’s finally signed, if it ever is. But every week it’s a different story. This week, it’s on in Germany for June.
Another dance, featuring middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, his number one challenger Arthur Abraham and a variety of other lesser lights, continues. Pavlik hasn’t signed a deal with Sergio Mora, which ought to be good news for boxing fans who sound far and wide disinterested in that fight. Hell, Pavlik trainer Jack Loew doesn’t want the fight, either, reasoning (correctly) that Mora will be boring. Abraham may end up with Vernon Forrest this summer, who would move up from junior middleweight, which is a good fight and would give the winner something of a mandate to fight Pavlik, but it’s a headscratcher. If Forrest was (allegedly) demanding too much money to fight Pavlik, he can’t possibly get as much to fight Abraham, right? (Needless to say, long-suffering Sergio Martinez, who thought he finally had an agreement with Forrest for a title fight, isn’t pleased.) Anyway, Mora, according to Pavlik’s team, wanted less money than John Duddy, who wanted more than a million, which they viewed as ridiculous given that Marco Antonio Rubio only made $350,000 fighting Kelly. Whatever happens next, the window of opportunity for Pavlik-Abraham is closing quickly, because Abraham is having massive problems making middleweight, having to lose a reporte
d 15 pounds in two weeks prior to his last fight. He’s only sticking around at the weight for Pavlik. If Abraham beats Forrest — the bout would be on Showtime — that leaves the end of the year for Pavlik to fight Abraham, really, because Abraham will be gone in 2010. And if Top Rank doesn’t make Pavlik-Abraham then, the level of ridicule they should be subjected to ought to go waaaaay up. Loew says Pavlik wants Abraham; if they’re serious, they should put their money where their mouth is by year’s end and force Top Rank’s hand somehow.
A potentially major card for May 30 on HBO would pit rising junior middleweight star Alfredo Angulo against a kind of in limbo Kermit Cintron, then put rising welterweight star Andre Berto in against Juan Urango or Zab Judah. The fight makes sense for Angulo, who needs respectable competition as he continues his rise, but not Cintron. Angulo is all wrong for Kermit, being a bigger version of Antonio Margarito, who plowed through Cintron twice. Friend-of-the-site WF’s thoughts on Cintron continue to make sense — what’s the rush to throw Cintron in with another killer unless there’s some reason, like hand injuries or who knows what (maybe yet another promoter is giving up on him?). Berto’s picks make sense for all involved. Judah, for all his flaws, is no worse than a live underdog every time he steps into the ring, and Urango, a junior welterweight, would surely carry some of his power up with him. Neither is in line for bigger fights that would put them on TV, with HBO having recently turned down Nate Campbell-Judah only to reporteldy reconsider whether it wants anything to do with Judah all a sudden. I’m in favor of the card overall, though. We don’t know if Angulo’s chin is on the caliber of Margarito’s, and Cintron would answer that question, while Berto needs more seasoning before stepping up to the level of a Luis Collazo again, and Judah and Urango offer the right level of danger.
April 4’s Lightweight Lightning show (seriously, can everyone who writes for a credible publication stop spelling it “Lightening?”) continues to degenerate, through no fault of Golden Boy Promotions’ own. Now Joel Casamayor is out with a back injury. When this card was completed, here’s the order of things I was looking forward to: Casamayor-Joel Julio; Jorge Barrios’ fight; Edwin Valero’s fight. The first two are now gone. There’s a decent substitute for Barrios, Vincente Escobedo, but no Casa substitute has been located yet, and the most attractive option, Jose Armando Santa Cruz, foolishly hasn’t been in the gym, former Santa Cruz promoter Golden Boy says. That guy’s had some bad luck, but he’s made some of his bad luck. At this rate, though, I’m now unlikely to purchase the card.
Freddie Roach wants his lightweight pupil Amir Khan, fresh off his defeat of Marco Antonio Barrera, to look at Casamayor for his next fight (I’m assuming it’s a coincidence that Casa’s suddenly off the Lightweight Lightning card) or possible a title fight depending on whether Marquez vacates his alphabet belts and who the other man would be fighting for the vacancy. The only people Roach would rule out for sure — Marquez and Pacquiao. I’d rule out more than that, but I think Casa makes sense as a Khan opponent. Barrera, meanwhile, will continue to fight on, his team says, although the “whom” he would fight next hasn’t come up yet. My hope is “nobody.” Coming off a win on the same card, cruiserweight Ola Afolabi is calling out all the titleholders in the division; I say give him one of ’em.
There’s a lot of mixing and matching going on for the once-proposed June 27 HBO show; latest word is that Victor Ortiz fighting for Andreas Kotelnik’s junior welterweight strap could be a double-header with a Robert Guerrero junior lightweight fight, and James Kirkland fighting Sergei Dzinziruk for his junior middleweight scrap would move to a double-header in July or August with a rematch between featherweights Chris John and Rocky Juarez. It’s all related to HBO not wanting to risk counting on Kirkland coming off his May 2 Pacquiao-Hatton undercard appearance.
Bantamweight Cristian Mijares could be in line for a rematch in June to avenge what a lot of folk are calling a questionable loss to Nehomar Cermeno. If it happens, Mijares better hope he wins or at least looks amazing. Even those who thought he beat Cermeno weren’t impressed by
his performance — as I was not with his showing against Vic Darchinyan — and three losses in a row, two to unknowns, is a career killer.
Get this — Ulises Solis said he hasn’t signed the contract for his fight with fellow junior flyweight Brian Viloria. A fight that’s been considered a done deal for months and is a mere one month away. WTF?
Lightweight Joan Guzman is free of his Mississippi suspension for not making weight last year and pulling out of the Nate Campbell bout. How thrilled are you?
Light heavyweight Yusaf Mack is targeting Chad Dawson. Not going to happen, unless Dawson needs a tuneup.
You know this weekend’s Vitali Klitschko-Juan Carlos Gomez heavyweight fight, which I’ll preview Friday? Apparently, there’s some kind of bad blood between promoters Arena Box and K2, because Arena Box put out a news release to attack the undercard, which features Chris Byrd returning, at cruiserweight, and heavyweight Tony Thompson fighting again, both against nobodies. “‘I truly believe that this is one of the best undercards K2 has ever had,’ says Gomez’ promoter Ahmet Oner. ‘Still it’s complete bullsh**t and I wouldn’t even dare to present fights like this on any of my shows.'” Youch!
Kimbo Slice wants to make the switch from mixed martial arts to boxing. He’ll get his ass kicked in this sport, too.
Rafael’s notebook Friday will probably have all other kinds of stuff like this in it, so I’ll hit Twitter for any thoughts on the rest of the week’s fights in the works.
(Sources: Newsday; Ring; BoxingScene; ESPN; BoxingTalk; The Grand Rapids Press)