Round And Round: Trouble In Kelly Pavlik Land?; Bernard Hopkins – David Haye?; Lucian Bute – Carl Froch?; Weekend Bouts; More

devin_vargas.jpgThe friendly-looking patriot to your right is heavyweight prospect Devin Vargas, who’s featured on ESPN2′s Friday Night Fights this weekend.

He leads off a shortish (by TQBR standards) Round and Round column this week. There wasn’t much non-fights-in-the-works news this week that I haven’t covered already. Other than, like, congratulating lightweight Juan Diaz for graduating from college.

I’m sick of mentioning you-know-who in just about every item I write, not that he doesn’t deserve the attention. So you’ll see no mention of the man who was the subject of the last two blog entries here. Just know that he and his team are going back and forth over fighting Floyd Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley at the pace of approximately 150 beats per minute. That’s Jungle music b.p.m., man. And if you need more than that, like the funny thing David Diaz said to you-know-who after he beat Ricky Hatton a few weeks ago, you can cycle through some of the chatter that I posted in the Twitter column to your right, or go to the page itself — (I’ve hyperlinked to literally everything in this post there, so if you need more detail on any particular item, you can find the links there, too.)

Weekend Bouts

OK, one more hyperlink. Here’s the full schedule for this weekend.

OK, two hyperlinks, last one, promise: Andre Ward-Edison Miranda is the major fight of the weekend, on Showtime Saturday.

The rest of the televised schedule is a bit of a mixed bag. There are some capable and even some entertaining prospects up to bat on ESPN2, Showtime and Azteca America, although not in any bouts that really sound like they’ll be any good.

The headliner on Friday Night Fights pits two heavyweight prospects against one another, Kevin Johnson and the aforementioned Vargas, a 2004 Olympian. Look, neither of them are punchers at all, so I doubt it’ll be very exciting, but I will say this: Star Boxing is to be commended for putting two of its most promising young charges in the ring when Johnson’s opponent, Monte Barrett, pulled out. It’s a nice, bold move by a smaller promotional outfit. Also Friday, there’s a card, plus, untelevised in the United States, Ricardo Torres will be in action as will British heavyweight slugger Martin Rogan.

Saturday, on the Showtime undercard, exciting lightweight prospect John Molina is in against someone or the other. Off television, 2008 Olympian super middleweight Shawn Estrada is also on the card. The Azteca America card is headlined by three prospects: junior lightweight Brandon Rios, featherweight Miguel Garcia and junior middleweight Vanes Martirosyan. There’s a interesting cruiserweight fight between two wonderfully-named fellows, Giacobbe Fragomeni and Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. You can get it for 5 Euros (about $6.80) here. If I were to pick two fights that I’d be likely to post highlights of after they’re finished, bet on Rogan or Fragomeni-Wlodarczyk.

Round and Round

The spirit of pessimism and skepticism rules this edition of Round and Round.

The promoter of light heavyweight Bernard Hopkins, Golden Boy Promotions, has made noise about wanting to fight David Haye, but considering Haye is locked up by contract for his next three bouts fighting various Klitschko brothers, there’s a good chance the 44-year-old Hopkins will turn 50 before that fight can happen.

There’s something really strange about middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik saying that, contrary to what his promoter Bob Arum explained, he could have fought Sergio Mora in his June pay-per-view headlining bout and he’d been cleared medically to do so after suffering a staph infection. What’s weird is that Pavlik’s team really didn’t want the Mora fight to begin with; Pavlik offered no further comment to his hometown paper about how he could have fought; and Arum has subsequently explained it away as Pavlik’s team failing to get the medical paperwork in on time. That means either Arum didn’t try very hard to get the paperwork, or Pavlik’s team didn’t return his calls, or somebody’s not telling the truth. What I gather is that there’s some serious friction between Pavlik’s team and Arum. Pavlik has untapped star potential that isn’t going to get tapped fighting uninteresting opponents on pay-per-view cards. And the postponement of the Mora fight means that an actual interesting fight for Pavlik, against Arthur Abraham, has been pushed back from fall to winter. There’s something amiss in Pavlik land. What, I’d like to know.

Junior featherweight Juan Manuel Lopez will take Pavlik’s spot as a headliner on June 27, and he’s fighting someone named Olivier Lontchi. Check out Lontchi’s record. There’s not very much there. This is an absurdly bad main event, and it’s up against a pretty good HBO card the same night. Lontchi is going down quick, unless he’s an unheralded talent the likes of which we’ve never seen.

Lightweight Edwin Valero has turned down an offer of $200,000 to fight anyone he wants on a July 29 Arum pay-per-view. Valero wants more a big money fight, which was kind of the idea of signing with Arum instead of making decent change knocking out tomato cans in Japan, so I kind of understand where he’s coming from. On the other hand, it might be hard to get a huge fight until Valero is licensed to fight in any state other than Texas. Honestly, it’s been a really bad week for Arum, what with the confusion and stonewalling over the you-know-who vs. Hatton pay-per-view numbers, the seeming friction with Pavlik, the terrible Lopez opponent choice and another of his pay-per-view cards losing steam with Valero departing.

James Kirkland is expected to miss his August fight, which likely would have been a good one, against Daniel Santos, as he sits in jail. In all, he will be losing out on more than half a million dollars in purses. Because he wanted to buy some guns. While he was on parole. This is so bleeding frustrating to me.

Super middleweights Lucian Bute and Carl Froch are in discussions for a fight, but you can’t name anyone from 168-175 that either of them haven’t talked about fighting. I’ll believe it when the deal is signed. Meanwhile, Sakio Bika continues to languish so much in the division trying to find a meaningful fight that he’s fighting three times in three months just to stay busy. Somebody needs to give him a shot.

Zab Judah said on his highly entertaining (often unintentionally) Twitter feed that you-know-who should stop ducking him. I know he’s the junior welterweight champion now and all, but you-know-who maybe just maybe has bigger fish to fry. Although I guess if you-know-who was looking for a tune-up fight…. Judah should focus on Randall Bailey, who’s a dangerous opponent for him if he’s the guy Judah ends up fighting on the Mayweather-Marquez undercard.

Hey, here’s some good news for Arum and everyone else! He’s trying to revive Steve Luevano-Bernabe Concepcion on what is stacking up as a pretty good Aug. 22 pay-per-view, if he can pull off all the fights he’s talking about. The Luevano-Concepcion featherweight bout would accompany bouts featuring junior bantamweight Nonito Donaire and junior flyweight Brian Viloria. Has Arum promised cards like this before only to fail to deliver? Hell yeah. But I’m looking to have SOMETHING nice to say today.

Wah-wah-wah, back to bad news for the big finish. A good cruiserweight bout June 20 between Ola Afolabi and Troy Ross can’t happen because of Afolabi having some visa issues.

Erik Morales insists on coming back, but it won’t be on the Mayweather-Marquez undercard — instead, on a card in August in Mexico. One potential opponent they looked at was Jorge Barrios at lightweight. It sounds like Morales isn’t looking to ease back into this boxing thing, which sounds a little dangerous to me, considering how often his bell got rung when he was in the ring.

Show horse Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. may face Jason LeHoullier during that pay-per-view that Valero has pulled out of. Ask me if I care. Go ahead. Ask me.

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.