Round And Round: Juan Manuel Lopez, Celestino Caballero, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Steve Luevano, Bernabe Concepcion All In The Dance; More

Suddenly there’s a hell of a lot of action at featherweight, as the headline suggests. But in this unusually brief edition of Round and Round, the feature where we surf around the news of fights in the works, we also touch on Joshua Clottey-Kermit Cintron at welterweight and a few other noteworthy bouts outside the feathers. Put on your headgear for a few rounds of torrid sparring…

Round And Round
The HBO Jan. 23 card has taken on the air of a wild juggling session, but the good news is that virtually anywhere the balls land, we’ll be good. First, the idea was to match Juan Manuel Lopez against fellow top junior featherweight Celestino Caballero, the best possible fight of them all. But Caballero’s promoter, Seminole Warriors, is saying they haven’t heard from Lopez’, Top Rank. It would be deeply disappointing if Lopez left junior featherweight without fighting Caballero, the only real threat in the division and the fight that would do more for Lopez’ rep than any other fight. Also on the card would be YURIORKIS GAMBOA!, and the original idea was that he’d fight Bernabe Concepcion, who would be the best opponent of his career. But then there was talk of Gamboa fighting Steve Luevano instead, who’s a better fighter still but doesn’t pose the same threat to Gamboa’s shaky chin Concepcion does. THEN there was talk of Lopez fighting Luevano. Ultimately Top Rank wants to make Lopez-Gamboa for next summer during the Puerto Rican Day parade. I like the plan, really, but Lopez-Caballero really needs to happen.
At welterweight, Shane Mosley-Joshua Clottey for Dec. 26 is almost certainly off, which is hella dumb. HBO just straight screwed Mosley and Golden Boy Promotions on this one, since Mosley had Dec. 5 reserved and moved off that date at HBO’s request, and Golden Boy moved to the date HBO wanted them to, then changed their minds. It’s time to start thinking about consolation prizes. Clottey now is expected to fight Dec. 5 on the undercard of the middleweight championship bout between Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams. One possible opponent intrigues big time: Kermit Cintron. Clottey-Cintron is a really interesting immovable object-unstoppable force kind of fight. Which wins out first: Clottey’s chin, or Cintron’s power? Mosley, consolation prize-wise, may still fight Jan. 30 against Andre Berto, another good fight, even if it screws over another Golden Boy fighter, light heavweight Bernard Hopkins, who thought that would be HIS date. Berto, though, really seems to be getting erratic. He met with HBO without his promotor, Lou DiBella, knowing he did. It’s just one of several strange moves from Berto lately.
Another featherweight, Israel Vazquez, has a new opponent for his Oct. 10 comeback from a long layoff due to injury, replacing Al Seeger. The opponent is Angel Antonio Priolo, who’s on a losing streak, but I can’t argue it because Vazquez NEEDS a soft level of opposition as he returns to the sport of boxing.
The Showtime card that was to headline Timothy Bradley-Lamont Peterson at junior welterweight just keeps getting shuffled around. Bradley and Peterson are mired in a substantial bit of alphabet sanctioning organization politics, fighting the WBO over purses and locations and all other kinds of things for Bradley’s title. For the time being, the card has been moved to Dec. 12, a good idea considering HBO’s Dec. 5 card. Vic Darchinyan-Tomas Rojas at junior bantamweight looks to be on the card, and Darchinyan, as an aside, now says his promoter Gary Shaw is no longer standing in the way of a Nonito Donaire rematch. I’d understand to a degree if Donaire felt he didn’t need that rematch since he won it so conclusively and Darchinyan is coming off a loss, but his options are dwindling, what with the way Jorge Arce and Fernando Montiel are both coming off very poor showings. Showtime would probably want Donaire-Darchinyan II, given their crush on Darchinyan. I still would like to see that fight.
One fight that now looks like it won’t be on that Dec. 5 card is the lightweight bout between Joan Guzman and Ali Funeka, since Golden Boy won the purse bid and is now talking about putting it on the undercard of the super middleweight rematch between Lucian Bute and Librado Andrade on Nov. 28 on HBO. I like Guzman-Funeka as a fight. I don’t care where it lands. I wonder what this means for junior welterweight Marcos Maidana, though, who’d had a variety of options for opponents on that undercard… is he now off it?
It’d gotten messy with the lawsuits, allegations of drug use, claims of unpaid purses, etc., but everything’s been resolved from the recent light heavyweight Gabriel Campillo-Beibut Shumenov fight that Campillo won. The resolution involved a rematch. Campillo-Shumenov II would happen in January, perhaps in Nevada, an interesting locale given that Shumenov draws crowds in Kazakhstan. But the first fight was said to be good, and I like Shumenov’s story — so few fights, so many quality opponents — and would like to see him get some love in America. Campillo is kind of a good story himself — two straight upset wins.
When Kevin Johnson pulled out of his heavyweight fight Oct. 10 against Odlanier Solis, he basically rendered that card devoid of all intrigue, but at least Solis will still get to fight on the card and get a paycheck. Solis might fight Fres Oquendo, who got robbed against James Toney last year, and who I think deserves another fight of this caliber. Oquendo would be the best opponent of Solis’ career, too. Not a bad save job, but Solis-Oquendo isn’t Solis-Johnson.
Carlos Hernandez, last seen making a tough-as-nails stand against Vicente Escobedo in a losing effort on the “Lightweight Lightning” pay-per-view this spring, is weighing a farewell fight in February in El Salvador against an opponent to be named later. Hernandez has taken a ton of punishment in his career, and his ability to fight through it makes him charming, but a farewell fight, and retirement, is a really good idea. He’s got enough left in the tank to win against an OK fighter, and to make one last paycheck. He’s another guy who got a lot more out of his career than his talent should have let him, and I want him to have a happy life after spilling so much blood for us.
(Round And Round sourcing: news releases; ESPN; BoxingScene; RingTV)

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.