Quick Jabs: Giving Boxing Fans What They Want, Even If They Don’t Recognize It; Rematches We Need And Rematches We Don’t; Boxing’s Culture To Blame For Everything?; More [UPDATED: HBO LETS LENNOX LEWIS GO]

Not everyone is moved by the same things, but one would think that one of the qualities nearly all boxing fans and writers would want out of a pugilist is this: “Willing to fight anyone, any time.”

If everyone does want that, they sure have a funny way of showing it lately.

It’s still not clear whether one man who subscribes to that “anyone, any time” maxim, junior middleweight Paul Williams (right), is going to sell very many tickets to his fight this weekend. Thankfully, though, Williams is getting a lot more press this weekend than he has in the past, so the media’s doing its part. I second what his opponent, Kermit Cintron, said:

Like Williams, Cintron believes the media hasn’t done enough to goad the top fighters to compete in the best fights. “You all have the pens and the microphones,” Cintron said.

Another man who subscribes to that maxim, junior welterweight Devon Alexander, can’t wait to get Timothy Bradley – the only man in the division better than him – into the ring. It’s among the handful of most desirable fights in the sport. Alexander is popular in St. Louis, so it’s not as if he is neglected in the same way as Williams. Yet you’ll find fans and writers who say (besides Bradley’s promoter) that the fight isn’t big enough, and it needs time to grow. Why? Why can’t we get it now? I know boxing is a business, but isn’t it good business to give fans the fights they want, and shouldn’t it make the fighters who behave that way bigger? And shouldn’t we be thinking less about the business of boxing and instead insisting, as customers, that Bradley get in the ring with Alexander?

Then there’s the Showtime super middleweight tournament that boxing writers can’t stop taking dumps on. That turned around a bit recently after the excellent Mikkel Kessler-Carl Froch battle, but why should it have taken that? As Alexander trainer Kevin Cunningham said in a manifesto on BoxingScene worth reading:

“We can’t even get an opponent for August. All of these fighters are talking just to hear themselves talk. That is why I have a lot of respect for that tournament at 168 pounds. It is good for the network, good for the fighters and good for the fans. They get to see who the best is. We want to clean up this f*cking division,” Cunningham said. There’s no accounting for taste. But I’ve got this pen and I’ve got this microphone. So this is what using them to tell you: Support the boxers who want to fight the best and back up their words with deeds. Stop making excuses for the ones who don’t, and start making demands.

There’s no accounting for taste. But I’ve got this pen and I’ve got this microphone. So this is what using them to tell you: Support the boxers who want to fight the best and back up their words with deeds. Stop making excuses for the ones who don’t, and start making demands.

Now, on to the rest of your Quick Jabs. (And, FYI, we’re trying to fix the problem on leaving comments ASAP. If you haven’t made your prediction for Williams-Cintron and are having trouble, get it to me via e-mail at tstarks2@gmail.com by 11:59 p.m.)

Quick Jabs

UPDATED: I had to celebrate somewhere about the late-Friday news that Lennox Lewis is leaving HBO’s commentating booth, whether voluntarily or because he was let go, as ESPN reported. I’ve said before that I wish no ill will toward Lewis as a person, and I liked him as a boxer more than most, and if I wasn’t sure he had some cash, I wouldn’t be rooting for him to lose his job. But he is by far the worst boxing commentator in the world, and his departure makes this the happiest day of my life. The happiest. For someone who was so good at boxing, he had no ability to communicate any thoughts about it other than the most comically basic (“Andrade really wants to hit him”) and the terribly off-base (“If he’s training in Vegas you know he’s serious, cuz there are no nightclubs in Vegas”). I will make this date a holiday and get drunk every single time this year until I die. May 7. The best day there is…

In early week results, heavyweight Fres Oquendo, always unlucky, once again finds himself on the questionable end of a decision – in France, on Jean-Marc Mormeck’s native soil. The cosmos owes this guy one. Every time this happens to him, I root for him more…

We’d had some heated discussions in this space about whether boxers are inherently more prone to violence in their personal lives. This ESPN writer explores the “culture of boxing” in light of the deaths in the last year of Edwin Valero, Vernon Forrest, Alexis Arguello and Arturo Gatti. She points out legitimate risk factors, but ultimately reaches no conclusions and provides no real facts or figures to substantiate a connection. Still, it’s worth a look. (Even though I take the piece seriously, it did prompt a series of satirical Tweets between myself, Steve Kim of Maxboxing plus friends of the site nazarioz and willfrank about all the things the culture of boxing was to blame for: Ishtar, the oil spill in the gulf, the recent stock drop, etc.)…


Kevin Mitchell’s fight poster above (h/t BLH) is only one of the funny things with which he’s been involved of late. For his upcoming lightweight bout with Michael Katsidis, he offered the most British threat ever: “It will be a proper tear up on the night. He’ll have a right old headache after I’ve knocked him out good and proper.” The only way it could’ve gotten more British is if he promised to “whip out me John Thomas and give him a rogering atop Big Ben”…

Yuri Foreman, man. Junior middleweight/rabbi in training/model marry-er dude keeps getting the mainstream love. Here he is on ESPN’s “E:60”…

Other “boxing in the media” tidbits: Sounds like Mark Wahlberg went all out to play Micky Ward in “The Fighter;” and Mike Tyson went on “The View?” In a million years, would you ever have imagined?…

I want to preclude this by saying that Ring magazine still has the best rankings in boxing, and I’m inclined not to make implications for which there is no evidence. But I’m not sure what Ring is thinking by putting Saul Alvarez at #10 at junior middleweight. He’s only taken one fight in the division in nearly two years, instead fighting at welterweight over that span, and it was against Jose Cotto, who never has been elite in any division and coming in was viewed as a blown up lightweight. With Golden Boy owning Ring while simultaneously promoting fighters such as Alvarez, it doesn’t look good. Alvarez shouldn’t be ranked in the top 10 in any division and moves like this make people question Ring’s rankings. Even if there’s literally nobody else in the Golden Boy stable that I think is rated too high by Ring, Alvarez’s ranking is truly, truly undeserved, and that’s what people are going to focus on…

When Slate dips its toe into boxing, it usually produces something good. That’s the case with this profile of John C. Heenan, “America’s first sports superstar”…

Did you know boxing was illegal in Maine? Neither did promoters who tried to stage a fight card there. This tale is one of strange regulations, and, sadly, a failed bid to bring a fight card to the people of the Pine Tree state. (h/t friend of the site [and Maine resident] MC)

Round And Round

Asked about what he’ll do if the mega welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao doesn’t happen, HBO’s Kerry Davis said “Plan A is Plan B, C, D, E and F, too… It’s too important for the sport.” Didn’t HBO officials say something like that last time around?

Deposed middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik has until May 17 to decide whether to act on his rematch clause with new division king Sergio Martinez. Talking about a catchweight of 164 the way Pavlik is – I respect him for wanting a rematch, but catchweights are usually made between boxers in a higher and lower division. Martinez was already in a lower division, 154, and moved up to 160 for the Pavlik fight. Martinez shouldn’t take the fight and says he won’t, and if Pavlik can’t squeeze down to 160 anymore, he should go ahead and move on up to super middle. Until this is settled, Martinez said he won’t talk about any other fights (like Mayweather).

I haven’t a clue from all the stories about it why Nonito Donaire-Vic Darchinyan II fell apart. But it’s no longer on-again/off-again, so far as I can tell – it’s off-off. Both men are talking now about moving from junior bantam to bantam. Donaire is turning his attention to Fernando Montiel. Darchinyan is fighting in Australia for an IBO belt (against Eric Barcelona, which is a thumb in the eye of those who consider the IBO a cut above the rest in belt politics) then will look to fight the winner of Yonnhy Perez-Abner Mares. Donaire-Darchinyan II trumps both of those consolation prizes, but Donaire-Montiel is a hell of a fight, as is Darchiyan-Perez/Mares.

Of all the rematches being discussed or that are in limbo, the least of them is Joe Calzaghe-Bernard Hopkins II. Some people close to Calzaghe say a do-over of their boring light heavyweight clash is in real discussions, while others say those some people are wrong. My prayer is that the others are right and the some people are wrong. Calzaghe’s comeback at his age doesn’t interest me, nor does a rematch of that crap fight interest me.

Bradley-Marcos Maidana, once scheduled for July, is forever dead, with Maidana citing his bad back. Too bad. As mentioned above, it’s also too bad Bradley’s team doesn’t yet want to put him in with Alexander. Meanwhile, the talk coming out of Amir Khan’s camp alternates between big and bad (we want Bradley and Alexander!) and bizarre quotes from Khan himself about not taking risks that are so over-the-top cowardly sounding that I can hardly believe it’s real (“You have to know the best time to have these big fights in your career. If you look at Oscar De La Hoya, he fought all the best fighters when they were on the way downhill, and not at their best. I want to catch these guys when they have come off their peak. But I have to be careful because there might be a younger version of me coming up who wants to do exactly the same to me”).

Top Rank’s Carl Moretti told Dan Rafael that they’d made an offer for a featherweight fight between Yuriorkis Gamboa and Celestino Caballero, but that it probably won’t be enough money. At a certain point, doesn’t Caballero just have to fight someone for virtually no money so he can fight someone with a big name, win it, and thereby become the big name other people are chasing? Dude’s getting old, and this is the story of his whole damn career.

The talk is that Arthur Abraham-Froch, in search of a neutral site, could move to Switzerland. In hindsight, it’s so obvious. Neutrality. Switzerland.

The stalled light heavyweight bout between Glen Johnson and Tavoris Cloud is back on, and might join up with Alexander’s next fight against someone or the other, scheduled for Aug. 7.

Golden Boy Promotions is talking about trying to put together a pretty nice undercard for the pay-per-view bout headlined by lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez rematching Juan Diaz. One bout would be Jhonny Gonzalez against Daniel Ponce De Leon at featherweight, which sounds like a real war; lightweight Robert Guerrero against somebody (I’m guessing no one too good because Guerrero wants the winner of Marquez-Diaz); and middleweight Sergio Mora against Matthew Macklin. That’s three fights and seven fighters who are right on the edge of top-10 contention in their divisions. It’s still not quite as good as I’d like, but man, it’s a massive upgrade over what we’ve gotten of late.

The super middleweight showdown between Sakio Bika and Jesse Brinkley on May 28 is off because Brinkley has been ill. This was going to be a very nice scrap. Too bad.

By the way, Winky Wright might have been up against Macklin on the Marquez-Diaz II, but according to Golden Boy, he wanted a bigger fight. You’re kidding me, right? Is he still on that dumb shit? He’s coming off the worst beating of his career last year, his only fight in three years, and he thinks he’s entitled to bigger fights still? ON WHAT GROUNDS? Because people can’t wait to open their wallet to see a 38-year-old defensive fighter who last won a fight in 2006? Wright must be trying to win the Presidential Medal of All-Time Career Mismanagement.

(Round and Round sources: Los Angeles Times; Sports Illustrated; ESPN; BoxingScene)

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.