Round And Round: Roy Jones, Jr. – Evander Holyfield, Paul Williams – Winky Wright And Joshua Clottey – Kermit Cintron

BarkleyDunk.jpgI realize the picture above is of Charles Barkley, aka “the Round Mound of Rebound,” not a visual representation of “Round and Round,” the feature here at The Queensberry Rules where I examine some fights in the works. I’m always looking for an excuse to drop that nickname somewhere, though.

The occasion of another holiday and a little bit of busy-ness at the ol’ day job has kept me from posting in 2009 before now, but I promise, I’m all the way back in business. And what a better way to start than to discuss three significant fights being discussed for the very year we now inhabit.

Roy Jones, Jr. – Evander Holyfield

You might imagine, based on previous posts, that I think the idea of an over the hill Roy Jones, Jr. fighting an over the hill Evander Holyfield a travesty of the highest order, but it doesn’t bother me a whole lot. Look, it’s nothing I want to watch. I worry about the health of both men somewhat, of course. But at this point, it’s become exceedingly clear that Jones and Holyfield are going to fight on no matter what kind of criticizing anyone does, and I’d rather have them fight each other than take on prime athletes. As I’ve said before, as long as they keep passing their medical exams, they should have the right to fight on, but that doesn’t mean anyone should want to be affiliated with it; it’s exploitation at this point, more so with Holyfield than Jones.

I see some elements of this being interesting, just from the standpoint of the match-up, and some not. At heavyweight, the more over the hill Holyfield would have the advantage of being the bigger puncher, while Jones, who has a little more juice left, would certainly be faster. On the other hand, neither of them spend more than a minute or so a round fighting anymore, so I suspect we’d get a lot of Jones clowning and not punching and Holyfield not punching just because he can’t do it very often at this point in his life. If that appeals to you beyond the factor of this match-up being talked about years ago when it would have made more sense and getting an answer to the question of “who would win?” even at this late juncture in this careers, God help you. Hell, if it appeals to you at all, God help you.

The major thing that bothers me about this fight is that someone out there who doesn’t follow boxing regularly will surely see it and use it as an excuse to pick on boxing as a whole. (I alternate, back and forth, between ignoring fights like this one altogether and popping my head in to say bad things about fights like this one before turning my attention elsewhere. Today, I’ve taken the head-popping approach. I’m hoping, by giving it triple-billing, people will see this and contrast it with the other two fights I’m about to mention.)

Paul Williams – Winky Wright

This is more like it: Paul Williams versus Winky Wright in a middleweight (160 lbs.) match-up that’s being discussed for April. There’s some criticism of this fight out there, and while I can dig it at a certain level, I’m enthused about it. Let’s weigh the pros and cons.

To anyone who will listen, I tout Williams as a model for the sport. He fights in an entertaining style — lots of punches per round, with an increasing focus these days on knocking fools out as opposed to just overwhelming them with activity. He’s a young American — one of the best young Americans out there, with Chad Dawson and Kelly Pavlik about the only dudes who are as fully realized as young fighters as he is. He’s unique — there’s not much to compare Williams to, as a giant welterweight (147 lbs.) with long, skinny arms who even looks big at other weights. And he’ll fight anyone — that he’s willing to go to middleweight for a big name is proof enough, but there’s nobody in any division from welterweight to middleweight I’ve heard him say “no” to. It’s been exclusively the other way around.

The problem with Williams is that I even have to say those things out loud. He’s just not caught on yet with some people, and I don’t get it. So how’s he going to change that? Fighting big names is one way. Who’s the biggest name out there who’s apparently got any interest in fighting him? Wright.

Yeah, Wright will be coming off a nearly two-year layoff. Yeah, the last time we saw him, he lost to Bernard Hopkins. Yeah, his age is getting up there. But until inactivity kicked him off most people’s list of the 10 best fighters on the planet, he was… one of the 10 best fighters on the planet. For a while, despite his style being, shall we say, an acquired taste, he was one of the biggest stars in the sport (albeit on a full tier or more below your Oscar De La Hoyas). And he needs a fight like this just as bad as Williams does. Beating Williams would throw him back on the map immediately.

One of the other knocks on Williams-Wright is that it’s a bad risk/reward fight for Williams. Wright, with his technical boxing accumen, could make the young gun look bad the same way Hopkins did Pavlik. I suppose that’s possible. But I think Pavlik had more to lose against Hopkins than Williams does against Wright. And I think Williams has more to gain against Wright than Pavlik did against Hopkins. Pavlik’s star would have kept rising if he hadn’t fought Hopkins, while Williams’ star may never get a chance to rise unless he fights Wright. Furthermore, I don’t think the style match-up is as bad. Wright is a defensive master, but he primarily stands in front of his man and holds his gloves up, so Williams will be able to tee off whether his punches score or not; Hopkins at his worst confounds with his movement, holding and a few questionable tactics. Some may say Williams wouldn’t get a lot of credit for beating Wright under these circumstances, but beating him isn’t going to hurt him, either. And you tell me whom Williams would fight, if not Wright.

Most importantly, I am genuinely intrigued by the style clash. One guy is ultra-busy and the other is ultra-accurate; one guy is a young up-and-comer and the other guy is a savvy vet. Williams’ crew says the fight isn’t official yet from their side of the negotiations, and there’s a potential reputational hit awaiting if it doesn’t happen for that reason, since Wright’s team has already made it know that they’re playing nice by agreeing to a 50-50 split. At this point, the fight not happening will draw as much criticism as it happening, if not more, so might as well pull the trigger.

Joshua Clottey – Kermit Cintron

This is another good one under discussion, in my opinion: Joshua Clottey defending his alphabet welterweight title belt against mandatory challenger Kermit Cintron. What with alphabet sanctioning organization belt processes being what they are, there are few hitches to this one coming off, but there’s apparently no interest in it from HBO or Showtime.

I’m not sure why there wouldn’t be, but this is a perfect opportunity for a quality match-up to make its way to non-pay cable television. If I’m Versus, I snap this up. If I’m ESPN2, I snap this up. Maybe it ends up on the undercard of the joint Kelly Pavlik-Marco Antonio Rubio/Miguel Cotto-Michael Jennings pay-per-view instead, but I really think this should be broadcast somehow. Maybe this is when promoter Top Rank makes its own foray into Internet broadcasts?

It’s a quality match-up because these are two top-10 welterweights, in their primes, who fight in a style I enjoy. I gather some people aren’t into Clottey, but I think he’s a hard-punching, defensively-sound, rock-jawed guy whom I’ve not seen in a boring fight, in large measure because he is more than happy to go toe-to-toe. Cintron has lost twice to Antonio Margarito, but that shouldn’t seal his fate — he’s still one of the biggest punchers in the sport in any division, which makes him fun to watch, and lots of people would lose twice to Margarito. It’d be a test of Cintron’s will — which, given his performances in the Margarito fights, where he more or less wilted, is worthy of questioning, even though Margarito does that to just about everybody — against Clottey’s chin — which is, as I said, rock-solid, but hasn’t been tested by anyone like Cintron because there just aren’t many punchers like Cintron.

So somebody snap to it. It’s not the biggest fight that can happen in this here universe, but it’s a very nice fight. More importantly, it’s a fight I susp
ect I’m not alone in wanting to see. Right…?

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.