Midweek Round And Round: Kelly Pavlik, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Edwin Valero, Michael Katsidis, Antonio Margarito, Amir Khan, More

(Boxing is afraid of an event where people alternate between skiing and shooting rifles.)

There ain’t jack happening in boxing because HBO is scared of the Winter Olympics. However, there are a ton of plans being made for the days when pugilism no longer cowers in fear at the thought of competing against curling, luge and biathlon. (Kudos to Jake Donovan on a great column on that, but visit BoxingScene at the risk of acquiring more spyware than you wanted.)

So instead of saving it all up for Friday’s Quick Jabs column, what say we go Round and Round right now to look at fights in the works. Besides the folks in the headline, we have news on Andre Berto, Glen Johnson, Ali Funeka, Steve Molitor, Erislandy Lara, Victor Ortiz and others.

Round And Round

Negotiations for Kelly Pavlik-Sergio Martinez have proceeded to the point that ESPN’s Dan Rafael has reported it’s effectively a go. Martinez is set to fight the middleweight champion April 17, as long as Martinez has some assurances he’ll keep the HBO date in the event Pavlik pulls out or tries to postpone, something he did three times for fights in 2010. Pavlik’s team is already laying the groundwork for a fight with super middleweight Lucian Bute — who’s fighting on the split-site doubleheader against Edison Miranda — if he wins, but I’d not get too far ahead of himself. Martinez is a dangerous opponent for him. This Pavlik-Martinez a very nice fight, if it goes through.

Negotiations for a junior lightweight battle between Juan Manuel Marquez and Amir Khan May 15 have hit a snag. Marquez’ trainer, Nacho Beristain, doesn’t like the fight. Beristain said Marquez is being treated like a stepping stone, and besides, he’s still recovering from a brutal fight with Floyd Mayweather in September. As a big Marquez fan, I think he’s going to be vulnerable to losing to whomever he fights next, especially if it’s at 140 lbs., but if he’s gonna keep fighting, I can’t see how a brutal fight nine months previous should be so dangerous.

Both sides — Yuriorkis Gamboa and Celestino Caballero — like the idea of fighting one another, either in the spring or summer, on HBO. Caballero is moving up to featherweight, which clears the way for one of his victims, Steve Molitor, to fight Takalani Ndlovu for the title belt Caballero was stripped of at junior featherweight. Gamboa-Caballero has the makings of a sensational fight, with Gamboa’s raw speed and power an advantage and Celestino’s long reach being an advantage over the short-armed Gamboa. It also would be the second straight time Gamboa would show up rival Juan Manuel Lopez, who ducked Caballero like crazy and didn’t seem eager to rematch Rogers Mtagwa after a difficult outing, whom Gamboa promptly demolished. Gamboa may fight March 27 in Germany first against an opponent to be named, though. Molitor-Ndlovu sounds fishy, per Rafael’s account of Ndlovu being able to fight for the belt even though neither his team nor Caballero’s made a purse bid, but Molitor has just about worked his way back into a spot to challenge for a title anyhow, and it might as well be against Ndlovu. It’ll be March 27.

I can hardly believe both sides are interested in matching junior welterweight Timothy Bradley with moving-up lightweight Edwin Valero, but they seem to be. That fight is so goddam sexy. Bradley’s team is looking at June 5. I presume it would be on Showtime. It might have to be in Mexico, though, because of Valeros’ myriad logistical complications.

Tavoris Cloud-Glen Johnson could happen as soon as March 26. The two light heavyweights would fight on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights. How bad ass is the 41-year-old Johnson to take a fight six weeks after knocking out another young gun, Yusaf Mack? Really, I would clone a million Johnsons if I could.

Talks for Vitali Klitschko-Nicolay Valuev have cooled. Valuev, you see, wants $4 million. That sounds like a lot. More than he’s probably worth. So one half of the Klitschko team that rules the heavyweight division is likely to look elsewhere, either to Alexander Povetkin if he wants to get busy sooner or the winner of David Haye-John Ruiz if he wants to wait a bit.

The health woes of Robert Guerrero’s wife — her leukemia has returned — have forced him to pull out of a March 27 HBO fight with lightweight Michael Katsidis. Guerrero can’t catch a break, man. He gets a little momentum, then something bad goes down. I’m sending nothing but good vibes the way of him and his family. Katsidis might continue on with the date, maybe against Juan Diaz in a rematch or against Brandon Rios. Both fights are appealing. Katsidis-Diaz I wasn’t a Fight of the Year candidate like I expected, but it was a good scrap, and while Diaz won it clearly, Katsidis has gotten better since then and Diaz has been on a slide. It’s good to see Diaz realizing he needs to stay at lightweight, too.

If Katsidis can’t find a suitable opponent March 27, Ali Funeka-Joan Guzman II (lightweight) may land on the undercard with Marcos Maidana-Victor Cayo (junior welterweight) being promoted to the main event. Funeka was supposed to fight Rolando Reyes for the vacant belt judges screwed him out of last year against Guzman, but Reyes pulled out for reasons that are unclear. Of course, this being Ali Funeka, nothing is coming easy, and some promoter out of South Africa and/or the IBF are getting in the way. BTW, if Guzman falls through for some reason, Miguel Vazquez would be up next for Funeka in the vacant title hunt.

For some unknown reason, Andre Berto-Paulie Malignaggi continues to move along. I really don’t get this fight. Is there anyone who wants to see it? Anyone? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Berto wants to do a show to benefit Haiti, but Malignaggi’s a light-punching junior welterweight and Berto’s a full-fledged welter. HBO would broadcast the bout April 10. I think it’s a waste of money. And because I’ve been showing so much man love for Berto/Malignaggi promoter Lou DiBella lately, I’d like to file this one under “See, Starks doesn’t adore EVERYTHING DiBella says, does and thinks.”

I never thought I’d see the day where I dissed DiBella and praised the Texas regulatory agency that handles boxing, but I’m about to come close. The Texas commission is apparently thinking twice about licensing disgraced welterweight glove-loader Antonio Margarito for March 13 after California, the state that suspended him, sent a letter. If Texas turned down Margarito, it would prove they’re not 100 percent in favor of regulatory anarchy, although the state’s boxing body still would suck for a billion other things. Anyhow, Margarito might fight in Mexico on May 8 now. Gary Shaw, promoter of former Margarito sparring partner Alfredo Angulo, a junior middleweight, has offered Angulo’s services. Angulo is not so eager to take on Erislandy Lara, whom Golden Boy offered to Angulo. No duh. Lara is all wrong for Angulo.

Victor Ortiz and Nate Campbell have agreed to fight May 15 on what would be the undercard of Marquez-Khan. Ortiz has a tune-up before then, but this is a nice junior welterweight fight. Both men have a lot to gain and a lot to lose, with Ortiz still trying to rebuild his rep and Campbell looking to prove he can be a force at 140 at an advanced age.

(Round and Round sources: ESPN, BoxingScene, Fightnews, Secondsout)

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.