Weekend Afterthoughts About What’s Next For Amir Khan, Mikkel Kessler, Paul Williams And Gerry Penalosa, Amongst Others

It’s weekend reviewin’ time. Lots happened between Friday and Monday, with the biggest news — about the official nature of Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto — coming Monday (the subject of a separate post). So we’ll throw “Monday” into the liberal definition of the word “weekend” here.

For starters, the knockout above is as meaningless as knockouts come given the level of opposition, but that doesn’t make it any less of a beaut. Check out how perfectly new pro junior featherweight Guillermo Rigondeaux lands that body shot, if you didn’t see it on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights.” Makes you wanna say “ouch.”

We’ll start with Amir Khan in light of his big win, then hit some of the other subjects in the headline as well as touch on news involving James Kirkland, Steve Luevano and others.

  • The one person Khan definitely won’t be facing next is Marcos Maidana, as Khan’s trainer Freddie Roach rather candidly dislikes the idea. I can see why; Maidana’s main strength, punching power, is Khan’s main weakness, punch resistance. But I have to say I rather dislike the notion that Khan would avoid Maidana. Maybe the thinking is that Khan will be ready for him someday, and as a future mandatory opponent for his junior welterweight strap, one would expect Khan to honor that and not simply drop his belt. There’s a fine line between smart matchmaking and outright wimpiness, and if Khan doesn’t someday fight and beat another big puncher, it will be impossible to take him seriously as a truly top notch boxer. It is also unlikely that Khan will be fighting Ricky Hatton, and I, like many boxing fans, hope that Hatton — who says he isn’t thinking about boxing at all these days — retires. It’s not that I oppose him fighting on, it’s just that the risks seemingly outweigh the rewards at this point. No, Khan’s most likely next opponent is Dmitriy Salita, another mandatory challenger to Khan’s belt who’s been waiting for a long time. You can say he doesn’t deserve the shot based on his resume, but he got to the position he’s at and he shouldn’t be forced to keep away from it forever. Salita is no big puncher, so I can’t see Khan’s team avoiding him, and I suppose there’s an angle to be marketed in that Khan is a Muslim and Salita is Jewish. Fortunately for us it doesn’t look like any such marketing would result in nastiness from Khan and Salita themselves, who are devout in their faith but aren’t exactly radicals. Khan says he wants to fight in America since that’s where the big bucks are, but honestly, I think Khan would make significantly more money staying at home, generally. His non-knockout approach won’t necessarily engender him to American fans who have no parochial rooting interest, and HBO would want to put Khan in pretty tough, based on recent behavior.
  • If Khan and Roach continue on their current path, though, they will be in line for some rather considerable end-of-the-year awards. Roach, trainer of Pacquiao, has turned that fellow into some kind of killing machine, and the rehab job he’s done on Khan is nothing short of extraordinary. If Khan doesn’t get KO’d again before year’s end, and if Pacquiao defeats Cotto in November, there’s no one even close in the Trainer of the Year sweepstakes. Who’d be right behind him, Nazim Richardson? As awesome as his year has been so far, it just isn’t close, and Richardson doesn’t have many opportunities to equal what Roach has done. Khan, meanwhile, would go from 2007 Prospect of the Year in most books (although not mine) to 2008 bust to 2009 Comeback Fighter of the Year. Again, who’s close there — Kermit Cintron? Cintron never fell as far nor climbed as high as Khan.
  • Given the tons and tons of other weekend results, most of them not of any tremendous significance, I’d advise everyone brush up on Dan Rafael’s recounting. Two items I’d point out: First, cruiserweight Enzo Maccarinelli ought to retire, as he raised the possibility he might, after getting knocked out in three of his four last fights. If he ever was able to take a shot, he can’t anymore, and I don’t see how he could muster any Khan-like career resurrection. Khan has gifts Mac never did, and I say that without disdain, because he was a good, fun fighter when he was at the top of his game. Second, here’s hoping the best for junior welterweight Marco Nazareth, a boxer who’s in critical condition this weekend after a fight against Omar Chavez. The good news is that he’s expected to improve over the next 72 hours, but you never know with these things.
  • Please do expect a slow-as-hell week in boxing. Over the weekend, junior middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. pulled out of the pay-per-view card he was headlining, not that it was that good a card with him on it. Featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa pulled out, and that leaves lightweight Urbano Antillon and junior flyweight Giovanni Segura the main attractions. There’s a Friday Night Fights card that’s pretty good and some other assorted scraps of fights we’ll get to later in the week, but we are in the doggiest days of the summer.
  • That really leaves assorted “fights in the works” news and other tidbits. The tidbits include the below video of ESPN’s Kenny Mayne explaining how going to a boxing match (specifically, in Vegas) is one of the five best events you can attend in sports, which is true AND good to have someone from the Worldwide Leader in Sports saying out loud. Another tidbit is that promising junior middleweight James Kirkland has pleaded guilty to his charges, which means his team is probably looking for a lighter sentence. I still think it would be overly optimistic to expect Kirkland to get back into a boxing ring ever, especially since he clearly has a gun fetish that he can’t break no matter how many millions await him if he returns to the sport. We’ll find out Sept. 23 how long he’ll be behind bars. A third tidbit is the new theory about Arturo Gatti’s death being due to suicide. I pass these items along without comment because I’m just not a detective working the case, but the detectives working on the case are backtracking on previous statements about his wife being the culprit. And the last tidbit is that boxing promoters are forming a trade assocation…? Sans explanation, that’s ominous.

Round And Round

There was a story this weekend about how Top Rank Promotions, which represents middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, turned down an offer from Goossen-Tutor Promotions, which represents Paul Williams, turned down a 50-50 split to make that fight happen. Of course Top Rank turned that down, and they should’ve. You’ll find fewer Paul Williams fans as big as me, but the guy absolutely does not deserve 50 percent of the split in a bout where Pavlik would bring what, 80 percent of the fans? That’s probably too generous to PWill, even. If Williams et al were smart, they’d realize that beating a prime young ticketseller would make Williams a much bigger name than he is now, and that it’s a gamble worth taking for relatively short money so that he can get bigger money down the line.

Super middleweight Mikkel Kessler will fight one more lame mandatory title challenger before officially entering Showtime’s big divisional tournament. Gusmyl Perdoma, everyone! He’s the guy who got beat by the guy that Kessler, two fights ago, won every round against before knocking him out! Kessler will get an absurd amount of money for that fight thanks to his new promoter, Sauerland Event, overpaying for control of the bout whilst trying to prevent additional monkey wrenches from being thrown into the plans. Of course, Perdoma could conceivably win that fight or at least
cut Kessler badly enough to throw a wrench into said plans on his own. So, THIS sounds like a good idea. (<—Psssst I don’t mean it. I am being sarcastic.) At least we get a little domestic sneak peek at Kessler, an impressive and exciting fighter, courtesy Showtime, which will air the bout Sept. 12.

There was another story over the weekend about what’s in the plans for featherweight Steve Luevano next, and they are Gamboa or Juan Manuel Lopez. Of course, yes, Luevano may not beat Bernabe Concepcion in August, but still. Luevano-Gamboa or Luevano-Lopez is good stuff.

Ridiculously fast-moving (careerwise, more than handspeedwise) light heavyweight prospect Beibut Shumenov will fight Aug. 15 for an alphabet title belt in just his ninth fight, as he takes on Gabriel Campillo, who just won the belt via upset victory one month ago. Shumenov is, like, one of the fastest-movedest prospects ever.

Since several previously-mentioned opponents have been “ruled out,” Gerry Penalosa says he wants a piece of Vic Darchinyan and the teams have discussed the fight. Penalosa doesn’t think anyone at bantamweight beats him, and maybe some people do, but not Darchinyan. Darchinyan is made to order for Penalosa. As much as I’d like to see Penalosa get another big money fight, Darchinyan would be wiser than wise to return to junior bantamweight or do a rematch with Joseph Abeko if he stays at bantam. Penalosa-Darchinyan would be Sept. 4, maybe in the Philippines, where Darchinyan — judging by some of the comments out of the Philippines on this site — would be heckled ENDLESSLY.

Uh, so maybe Zab Judah-Matthew Hatton won’t be on the Sept. 19 Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez guessweight undercard. Lovemore Ndou says he’s going to fight Hatton Sept. 19. I’m not saying Hatton wins that fight, but I don’t see Ndou ruining him the same way I’d expect Judah is capable of. So, why not. Not that I care to watch Hatton-Ndou or Hatton-Anybodywithapulse. Or, for that matter, Hatton-Anybody.

(Round And Round sourcing: Boxingscene; The Age; news releases; Fightnews)

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.