While-I-Was-Away Quick Jabs: Floyd Mayweather – Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao – Miguel Cotto Morsels; Juan Diaz – Paulie Malignaggi Fallout; More

It’s funny what happens when you push yourself away from boxing for more than a week. Fights are a go then disappear. Fights are in jeopardy then are fine. You realize, really, how much of the news of boxing is gossip-driven, how much people react instantaneously to developments with such single-minded passion, only for counterpoints to develop shortly thereafter that suggest things aren’t really as crystal clear as they first appeared to so many.

Now that I’m back from Spain, there’s a lot of catching up to do, despite the excellent work of some guest bloggers on this site. Besides the subjects in the headline, there’s something to be said about boxers from Ricky Hatton to Paul Williams to John Duddy to Nicolay Valuev.

(This whole thing’s really more a “Round and Round” column, but we’ll go in chronological order on the fights in the headlines, then move to a bit of a “here’s what’s going on with some other fights” dealy-bob. For the entirety of the first three sections, my source of information is BoxingScene, with but one or two exceptions. For more info than I provided, read up there.)

–I know everybody’s sorta sick of talking about this fight by now, but I just wanted to clarify my stance on it. That stance is this: The Gale Van Hoy scorecard of 118-110 for Juan Diaz was ludicrous, one of the worst I’ve ever witnessed. That it came on Diaz’ home turf of Houston, as opposed to Paulie Malignaggi’s turf, makes it additionally suspect. It offends me, and it should offend you. But one of the reasons I didn’t react as strongly to it as some did, in the immediate aftermath of the fight, is because I thought Diaz won. The result was not unjust, no matter how ridiculous Van Hoy’s card was. That doesn’t change the fact that Texas is the worst commission in the country that regularly has big fights, and that it needs to clean up its act. By the same token, I was responding to Malignaggi’s rant in a way that was less than sympathetic in part because A. I thought he lost a close fight anyway and B. He knew Texas’ reputation well and very much wanted the fight nonetheless, because that was his biggest paycheck. These are mitigators to my outrage — outrage that David rightly pointed out last week in this space we ought to maintain. (Typically, I react very strongly to poorly rendered decisions, either by judges or referees.)

–Despite Van Hoy’s attempts to justify his scorecard, it still doesn’t smell right. Yes, Diaz did pick off a good number of Malignaggi’s jabs, but not THAT many. 118-110 is terrible, either for Diaz or Malignaggi. I do find something interesting in Malignaggi’s assertion that the rematch should be on his home turf in New York. Why would he want that, I wonder? It must be pointed out, as RingTV’s Doug Fisher did last week, that when Malignaggi got what some thought was a favorable home-country decision win over Herman Ngoudjo, we didn’t hear Malignaggi complain then about how boxing is “full of sh*t.” One of the things that’s quite likable about Malignaggi is that he’s high-strung, and he’s more candid than most boxers. But let’s not make him the patron saint of truth-telling that some have made him out to be. I wish I knew what to make, by the way, of Oscar De La Hoya bashing the
Van Hoy scorecard. As Diaz’ promoter, it could just be a CYA move, or
it could be that De La Hoya means it; it must be noted that he
criticized the judging when a Golden Boy prospect got a controversial
decision over DeMarcus Corley.

–What’s next? Obviously, a rematch is the natural — even desirable — outcome. It should be, if it happens, on neutral soil. Diaz is talking about Ricky Hatton, a big money fight if it happens, so while I understand why he’d target that, I always wish dudes who were in close, controversial fights would do their best to right that ship before moving on to the next one. There’s also been some discussion about the remarks after the fight by Bob Papa that Malignaggi “did himself no favors” with his rant. It would be absolutely wrong if Malignaggi got frozen out of another HBO gig because he yelled some. I don’t have any conditions or mitigators to attach to that statement. Malignaggi fought well, and entertainingly, and frankly he’s an interesting character whose personality I find compelling, and all of those ingredients are the stuff that HBO gigs ought to be made of. His promoter, Lou DiBella, has talked of matching Malignaggi against Amir Khan, an interesting fight in my view and a better one than the mandatory alphabet title fight Khan is in talks for against Dimitriy Salita.



–I agree with trainer Freddie Roach that the idea of showing Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez in select movie theaters smacks of desperation for a fight that doesn’t have everyone in boxing excited and continues to be plagued by reports of subpar ticket sales. But I’ll also say that sometimes, good ideas are born of desperation. Consider the big regional fights all over the country this year, the routine quality match-ups throughout 2009 — it all comes from a sport that needs to do smart things to motivate fans in a bad economy. Now, more people will have the opportunity to see a pretty good fight card (even if the main event has issues, the undercard is good) for a pretty decent price.

–Part of the reason the fight has “issues” is because not only is it a questionable match-up — Mayweather is a true welterweight, Marquez is an overblown lightweight, the bout will take place at a reported 144 pounds — but because there’s a near-constant stream of reports out of both training camps that neither man looks all that damn good right now. I’d caution everyone not to overreact to such reports. There’s always gamesmanship about this kind of thing, although sometimes it proves true, as with De La Hoya going into the Manny Pacquiao fight. But it certainly doesn’t help the fight’s case if Marquez isn’t looking good. HBO and De La Hoya keep saying it’s going to be a good competitive fight, Mayweather and Marquez are saying all the right things, but I’ve never been sold on the match-up and it’s going to take a monumental effort by HBO’s 24/7 reality series to convince me the fight will be much of one.

–It is nice that Marquez will have a pretty good backup plan should he lose the fight. Some alphabet sanctioning organization or the other has mandated that the winner of the lightweight Michael Katsidis-Vicente Escobedo fight on the Mayweather-Marquez undercard will get a shot at Marquez’ title, and while I’m not sure what trainer Nacho Beristain would do if he had to put two of his charges, Marquez and Escobedo, against one another, it’s still not a bad fallback fight for Marquez. Another undercard note: Zab Judah’s career ought to be over, really, after he skipped out on a welterweight clash against Antonio Diaz, but he still got interest from Shane Mosley and turned that down too. Judah scoffed at Diaz’ credentials and scoffed at the half-million on the table for a Mosley fight, but he’s really delusional so far as I can tell if he thinks he can do better. He won’t be missed here.

–Despite an accumulation of allegations of unlawful behavior against both Mayweather and his trainer, uncle Roger, I doubt any of it will get in the way of Mayweather-Marquez, but it does have a way of undercutting Mayweather’s recent case that he’s a great guy who deserves our love, as opposed the gangsta image he presents. I’ve spent a lot of time studying Mayweather, and I don’t think he really knows who he is. I think he’s an insecure guy who wants to be loved, but he alternates between naturally dickish and naturally soft (for lack of a better word) tendencies. It’s possible for someone to be both at once, or to go back and forth between. I wouldn’t read too much into any of it — that he’s somehow a phony when he’s being nice, or that he’s a phony when he’s being an asshole. He might be being a phony at times, but the wild to-and-fro is probably more a product of his sincere actions than not.


pacquiao-cotto-banner.jpg–There are, per usual, an endless number of distractions in the Pacquiao camp for his 145-pound bout against Miguel Cotto. It’s always hard to tell when or if said distractions will catch up to Pacquiao. Where will his training camp be — the Philippines, Mexico? The Philippines strike me as a bad place, given Manny’s short attention span and desire to please the people of his country at every turn. Why is he finishing up a movie when his trainer, Roach, wants him in camp? It seems like the movie can wait, if you ask me. Why is Roach at odds with so many of Pacquiao’s advisers? I’m guessing it’s because, from what I can tell, most of Pacquiao’s advisers are kind of dopes, but I’m not sure what can be done about it. I’m not saying it will or won’t have an effect, as I’ve been fooled before into thinking all these distractions will be a factor, but it strikes me again, as every time, as unnecessarily playing with fire.

–I haven’t seen much in the way of solid reports that Pacquiao’s camp actually requested a 24-foot ring for the Cotto fight, which isn’t happening; it’ll be 20-foot, per Las Vegas regulations. However, if the idea is that Pacquiao requesting a 24-foot ring somehow suggests something about Pacquiao’s strategy we didn’t know already, I’m not buying it. The plan always was to box the bigger man, I’m betting. A 24-foot ring might have helped with that, but Pacquiao’s proven adept at maneuvering in and out. It’s not like the guy’s ever going to do a Malignaggi-esque jab and circle routine.

–After falling on and off Top Rank Promotions’ radar, it’s encouraging to hear that Edwin Valero-Humberto Soto at lightweight is something Top Rank boss Bob Arum is focusing on doing on this undercard. We’d be talking not one but TWO Fight of the Year-caliber bouts on the card, as Pacquiao-Cotto has that kind of potential, too. If that fight was on the undercard, it might trump the two quality bouts on the Mayweather-Marquez undercard by itself, and then Arum would be able to say, truthfully, that he did bring the people an “amazing” undercard as promised. Go Bob go. Another option, which wouldn’t be a bad addition but doesn’t add much if it’s instead of Valero-Soto, is that endlessly delayed bantamweight bout between Fernando Montiel and Eric Morel.

Round And Round
The thinking at HBO, reportedly, is that middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik might reschedule his fight with Paul Williams on Dec. 5, but that is premature in one major way — Pavlik still isn’t cleared by doctors to fight, what with the staph infection on his hand. And Wiliams’ promoter won’t agree to the fight until he sees the medical records himself. Still, that’s progress from the Williams camp threatening to take another fight instead.
That would put a potential welterweight doubleheader f
eaturing Mosley against Joshua Clottey and Andre Berto against Isaac Hlatshwayo to Dec. 26. To which I say, “Does anyone think a fight the day after Christmas would draw much of a crowd?” But it may fall down for another reason: Berto, among other things, is reportedly sniffing at the idea of fighting for $750,000. I like Berto as much as the next guy, but he needs to dial it down. I recognize HBO created this situation for overpaying for lesser Berto fights. That doesn’t mean dude doesn’t have some responsibility for recognizing the marketplace has shifted. Is he gonna get more than 750 Gs off HBO?
I’m not sure where anyone is getting the idea that Juan Manuel Lopez-Celestino Caballero is a go for January 2010, but that’s what Caballero is counting on. The only thing I’ve heard Lopez say is that he generally wants to fight Lopez in early 2010, but I also recall some absurd purse conditions. If you based the match-up on recent performances, Caballero isn’t the threat to Lopez his people may think, so I’d take the fight — a potentially difficult junior featherweight fight, to be sure — and get the kudos I’d deserve for beating a good, avoided foe.
Junior flyweight Brian Viloria wants a rematch with Edgar Sosa, who beat him the first time they met. I do, too. But Sosa’s situation is such that I’m not sure he’ll be fighting a real top-notch opponent any time soon, as he makes good money in Mexico fighting anyone, and the fact that Sosa’s beaten Viloria means he may feel he doesn’t have to fight him again. If I’m wrong about any of this thinking, I’ll be grateful.
Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko being injured means his fight with Eddie Chambers is not going to happen until next year. Not much more to say on that. Also, Nicolay Valuev-David Haye will be for Valuev’s alphabet title belt after mandatory challenger John Ruiz agreed to take step-aside money. That means the Nov. 7 fight, once in trouble, is now safe. I second The Ring’s Eric Raskin, who said, approximately, “Paying John Ruiz not to fight — why didn’t we think of this sooner?”
That Showtime is considering a pretty good tripleheader Dec. 5 does nothing to indicate that it could come up with anything that could conceivably not get buried in the ratings by Pavlik-Williams, should that fight happen. I’d push it back one week; nothing happening then. The tripleheader would feature Timothy Bradley-Lamont Peterson at junior welterweight; Vic Darchinyan-Tomas Rojas at junior bantamweight; and Joan Guzman-Ali Funeka at lightweight.
Israel Vazquez is coming back Oct. 10, apparently, against Al Seeger at featherweight. I realize Seeger, who’s been knocked out by lesser men than Vazquez and who additionally may have some emotional issues to deal with after killing one of his opponents in the ring, is probably a sitting duck against Vazquez. But let’s not forget that we have no idea, zero, what kind of fighter Vazquez is going to be after a long layoff, injuries and at a new weight. If he didn’t pick Seeger, who’s at least proven himself a decent boxer, he’d be picking some no-name who’d be just as bad a sitting duck, right? The guy needs a tune-up fight to check where he is. I don’t have a major problem with this.
I could do without Tomasz Adamek-Andrew Golota at heavyweight, but the fight’s happening Oct. 24 in Poland nonetheless. Adamek, the cruiserweight champion, could be fighting someone more deserving or not so old or not so lame or not so heavyweight, but not for as much money as he’ll make against Golota. There’s still a chance Adamek could fight Bernard Hopkins Jan. 30, and the plan is for Adamek to fight Steve Cunningham in a rematch later that year; Cunningham, who reportedly has left Don King, has begun working with Adamek promoter Main Events, and could end up fighting Matt Godfrey on the Adamek-Hopkins undercard, if it happens. Another cruiserweight fight is in the works, one I’d like to see, between Marco Huck and Ola Afolabi, for Dec. 5. Busy day, Dec. 5, but it’s in Germany and there’s a time difference so I could find a stream perhaps.
There are reports that junior lightweight Robert Guerrero’s mandatory alphabet title defense against Mzonke Fana could happen before the end of the year. If Soto isn’t available, this is about as good as it gets, rankings-wise, for Guerrero right now, and he kind of has no choice if he wants to keep his belt. Still want to see Guerrero-Jorge Linares or Guerrero-Roman Martinez more.
Happy Halloween: Showtime wants to use that night to broadcast bantamweight Joseph Agbeko against Yonnhy Perez and lightweight Antonio DeMarco against someone named Jose Alfaro. The headliner is an awesome fight, and I gotta say, I’m impressed Showtime is sticking with Agbeko after he beat Darchinyan — it’s not atypical these days for the fighter who beat a network’s favorite to not find his way back onto said network much thereafter, like happened to Nonito Donaire after he beat Darchinyan, and Agbeko deserves better than that. Nice one, Showtime.
Forget about Rafael Marquez against Daniel Ponce De Leon at junior featherweight for Lopez’ not-yet-vacant WBO belt. Marquez and De Leon are both featherweights these days, and Lopez hasn’t vacated his belt, so this is so strange a move by the WBO to be talking this up, I can only imagine that their main motive is that they enjoy being made fun of.
Also forget about that Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones, Jr. rematch. I’m still surprised this idea is getting any play anywhere in the press, and I’m guessing it wouldn’t if it hadn’t been for a war of words between Hopkins and Jones on some radio program recently.
A leprechaun’s pot of gold is on the table for Irish middleweights Andy Lee and John Duddy to square off in what would almost certainly be a hell of a slugfest Nov. 28, and… I apologize. That was not cool. I’ll stop here.
(Round And Round sources: BoxingScene; RingTV; ESPN; Eastsideboxing; The South African Star)

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.