So continues our marathon coverage of one of the biggest fights of 2010, Manny Pacquiao versus Joshua Clottey on Saturday. Previously: why and how Pacquiao-Clottey matters; how good is Clottey?; and keys to the fight, parts I and II. Next: the final preview and prediction.
It’s gotten to the point where I’m not sure why I even dignify Top Rank undercards with their own blog entries on the weeks of big fights. At best, it’s an excuse for me to verbally defecate all over how little the company — like most promoters, for what it’s worth — could give a damn most of the time about putting on a top-to-bottom good product with its $50 pay-per-views. Were these undercard fights occurring anywhere but as the supporting bouts for such a major event, they’d warrant but a sentence or two in a round-up column. Adding insult to injury is that Top Rank boss Bob Arum constantly insists the undercards are, in fact, good, which is like the old aphorism about pissing on my leg and telling me it’s raining.
So here’s the capsule take on Pacquiao-Clottey undercard: It has a grand total of one fight that could headline even a small ESPN2 Friday Night Fights card, whereas if it was up to me, it’d be more like September’s Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez undercard, where one of the fights could have headlined an HBO Boxing After Dark show. What little credit I’ll give the Pacquiao-Clottey undercard is that the three major supporting fights are likely to make up for a dearth of significance with what they’ll provide in the way of entertainment. I suppose that’s progress.
- Humberto Soto-David Diaz, lightweights. Diaz is the #9 lightweight in the world, according to Ring magazine. Soto’s unranked in the division, but he’s he #1-ranked junior lightweight. This, then, is the most important fight on the undercard. Diaz is a face-first brawler despite not being a big-league puncher, and Soto, probably the more skilled of the two bangers even with Diaz’ Olympic pedigree, is periodically in good fights. But try to find anyone who’s excited that this is as good as it gets. People in Chicago who (rightfully) love Diaz, maybe? Fight’s in Texas. Mexicans? I suppose so. I’m not sure whether the appeal of either man in that market is all that high. And I’m somewhat continually dismayed by the bait-and-switch with Soto. He’s going to fight Pacquiao, says Arum! (No he’s not.) A couple years later: He’s going to fight Edwin Valero, says Arum! (How long have we been waiting for that one? Any bets on whether it ever happens?) Soto hasn’t notched a really good win since upsetting Rocky Juarez five years ago. In each of their last fights, Soto and Diaz beat Jesus Chavez, although Soto did so more easily; however, Diaz was rusty and coming off a long rest due to an injured knee. Soto should win, but Diaz should give him a rougher time than Chavez did.
- Alfonso Gomez-Jose Luis Castillo, welterweights. Gomez is a fun, top-20 at best kind of welter who apparently maintains some kind of fan following from being on “The Contender” TV show many years ago. He’s coming off a career-reviving win over Jesus Soto Karass, when he looked sharper than he had in a while; of course, the last time most of us had a long look at him was when Miguel Cotto turned him into chopped liver in 2008. Castillo has more or less been walking chopped liver since Ricky Hatton chopped him in the liver in 2007, the last time he fought an elite opponent. Castillo’s ongoing pursuit of his boxing career saddens me, even if the risk to his health is not gotten to the dangerous point. It’s because I have such fuzzy feelings toward him for participating in my all-time favorite fight, the 2005 classic with Diego Corrales, and I hate to see him going on as a shadow of himself. He’s not a welterweight and he lost to Sebastian Lujan in his last bout against anyone who wasn’t a corpse.
- John Duddy-Michael Medina, middleweights. Duddy is a television-friendly fighter of just enough ability to not be a journeyman and who has a following amongst the Irish. Consider his record against journeymen. He beats your Yory Boy Camposes and your Walid Smichets with some difficulty, disposes of your Matt Vandas with somewhat less difficulty and runs through your Anthony Bosantes with virtually no difficulty. He will, however, lose somehow to your Billy Lyells. Medina, meanwhile, has no wins over anyone I recognize, although he does have a loss to talented prospect Vanes Martirosyan in which he was said to exhibit lots of will, not so much skill.