Quick Jabs: James Toney’s UFC Dream; Joe Calzaghe’s Allegedly “Phantom” Injuries; Ricky Hatton’s Pessimistic Forecast Of Return; More


Oh, you kids out there in Never Never Land. Your optimism about the possibility that Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao may still happen — it helps open the door in my brain just enough that when I see items like this one, about the remotest possibility of the fight being revived, that it gives me a glimmer of hope. But I still expect it will be crushed! So thanks for contributing to my future disappointment, you sunny basterds!

The “using one’s imagination” theme spread to the headline of this Quick Jabs column, you might notice. Also here: Trainer switches of the huffy and non-huffy variety, misbehaving teenagers, press releases that sound cooler than they are and assorted fights in the works. There’s the Squeakquel, there’s Electric Boogaloo and yes, there’s Jabs: The Quickening.

Quick Jabs

Hey, the first noteworthy fights of 2009 are upon us! On ESPN2 tonight, Roman Karmazin and Dionisio (not to be confused with Dionysius) Miranda (not to be confused with Edison) battle in a middleweight title eliminator for the right to face Sebastian Sylvester. I expect a good scrap, actually, with a thin gloss of meaning. Saturday, Robert Stieglitz moves on from his own postponed (super) middleweight Miranda (Edison) showdown, with his replacement opponent, Ruben Acosta, not expected to pose a real threat. Monday brings us Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym-Satoshi Hosono in Kraaglabjoabjadlfg’s first junior featherweight title defense, also routine; junior lightweight Juan Carlos Salgado vs. Takashi Uchiyama in what figures on paper as a routine defense of Salgado’s strap; and Anthony Mundine brings his particular brand of drama — Is he a junior middleweight? A cruiserweight? What’s he think of America, anyhow? — into the ring against some Robert Medley bloke…

I get the impression James Toney has charmed the hell out of Dana White, because there’s no other explanation for the hype the UFC boss is giving to the idea of the run-down heavyweight boxer transitioning to mixed martial arts. It won’t work, and if anyone cares, they don’t know much about either sport…

Ricky Hatton is so “grossly” out of shape, according to BoxingScene (BS), he may not be ready for a comeback in May. At one point in 2009, I came very close to having lost 30 pounds, and if my math is right, it happened over the span of five months. I was working out, but none of it was a boxing workout. I thought Hatton always did this fat-then-skinny thing? How much above 140 pounds would he have to be with even a two-month training camp not to get down in the right ballpark? Even though when I see him photographed of late, he looks like the below photo, I don’t get what’s so different here…


Featherweight Rafael Marquez has dumped his long-time trainer Nacho Beristain (per BS). Probably should have seen this coming. Beristain said not so long ago that Marquez has gotten a big head and doesn’t listen to him anymore. Marquez claims Beristain gives more attention to his brother than him — even though his brother only fought twice last year (?). If they hate each other so bad they shouldn’t work together, obviously although it has historically been a profitable relationship for both Beristain says he has a contractual agreement and I guess this could get messy. Meanwhile, super middleweight Mikkel Kessler dropped his long-time trainer, Ricard Olsen, after what has to be considered a poor showing, at minimum, in 2009 against Andre Ward. He’s also been working with a “mental trainer.” I don’t suppose either will completely fix what went wrong for Kessler against Ward — some of which, by the way, was Ward going wrong for Kessler — but maybe it’s worth shaking things up. Time will tell…

Teenagers. Marvin Sonsona has let the success of a 2009 breakthrough win go to his head, to say the least, after the 19-year-old came in overweight for his last fight and recently missed TWO flights to the United States begin training for a February junior featherweight alphabet title fight against Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. I mean, I assume that’s the problem. Maybe he was just hungry, by way of explaining the overweight incident; then he was detained by some arch-supervillain from making his first flight; and then the second time around he just lost track of time. Why show any dedication or commitment when you already won a grand total of one meaningful bout, right?…

Promoter Frank Warren claims Joe Calzaghe, the former super middleweight great, would come up with “phantom” injuries before fights, even trying to pull out of the Jeff Lacy bout for a THIRD time at one point. Warren isn’t exactly to be trusted on matters Calzaghe right now, as the two have fought in the courts (real, Of Public Opinion) for a long time. But I thought it was fascinating. If true, Calzaghe was scared of planes — that’s confirmed — and invented illnesses. That’s a fascinating psychological profile for a boxer, no? Also, “phantom” injury remind me of phantom limb, which reminds me of The Venture Brothers. Thus…

I thought the Edwin Valero-Antonio DeMarco lightweight battle in February was going to get a nice bit of venom injected when I saw a quote from DeMarco in a news release that “With Valero, it’s personal.” Oooo, why, I wondered? And then he explained: “It’s a personal challenge to myself.” Sad. Jorge Barrios called Valero a “communist” and a “long-haired prostitute.” THAT’S personal. I’m not saying I want to trade, I just think it’s false advertising….

I’m “over” celebrity boxing challenges. But one of the times boxing was in the news a little more than usual this week other than with the Mayweather-Pacquiao debacle is because Michael Lohan challenged Jon Gosselin to a celebrity boxing match. Sorry, “celebrity” boxing match. Lohan is pathetic and so are the Gosselins, but I felt I had to mention it here. It’s not like there’s so much other good material, is there? I mean, is Toney’s UFC dream all that less pathetic? Also, even though I don’t care about any of these people and never did, I wish I could chase down and share the video of Gosselin just staring blankly and expressionless into the distance while his wife talked a bunch. I saw it on “The Soup” and I still laugh when I think about it…

OMG I’m so surprised Evander Holyfield-Francois Botha keeps running into difficulties. Maybe it’s because there’d have to be something wrong with you to want to see that?…

I don’t always acknowledge a passing in the boxing world, let alone in the family of a boxing member, but I was strangely saddened by the departure of Miguel Cotto, Sr. In every interview, the guy just gave off that quiet class he evidently conferred on his son. The death brought together the feuding Cotto, Jr. and estranged uncle Evangelista, too, one of the more sensational, but sad, stories of 2009. It’s been a rough year or so for Cotto. May his 2010 be significantly better.

Round And Round

OK, so if Pacquiao doesn’t fight Mayweather, the front-running option appears to be welterweight Joshua Clottey, although Clottey, it must be noted, wasn’t clued in on the fact that they were going to fight. Another option was Timothy Bradley, and I think I’d prefer that. But both of those are upgrades over junior middleweight Yuri Foreman, whom Pacquiao didn’t want to fight because he was too tall. Wow, Pacquiao just has all kinds of surprising reasons all a sudden not to fight people, huh? The other options that had been discussed were Paulie Malignaggi, which made no sense given the steroid feud between Pacquiao and Mayweather and where Malignaggi had sided, and Juan Manuel Marquez, a fight I totally have no interest in because of the age/wear and tear/size disparity.

But you have to give Pacquiao a leg up over Mayweather in the “We’re not fighting anymore, so next is…” category, right? Both men are looking at weekends in March, which is when they would have fought originally. The best option he’s discussed is Malignaggi, who’s exactly like Mayweather only not as good and sometimes more boring, so that fight would suck and I don’t know who would want to see it very badly other than the jock-ridingest Mayweather fanatics. The Matthew Hatton idea was beyond ludicrous, and doesn’t seem to be in play anymore. The closest Mayweather has come to fighting anyone in recent weeks was big-boned rapper Rick Ross at some party. I can’t make the “but he didn’t have Ross tested for PEDs!” joke my own, but it’s out there and it’s valid. But did you know that Ross admitted to feeding steroids to his chickens? He even bragged about it in this video. I’m not fibbing. He does it to strengthen them up; he also flips said chickens, who are flying over Pacifics. To be specific.

Shane Mosley recently said he’d fight Paul Williams, which is good news because I think that’s a very nice fight between the #3 and #4 best fighters in the sport. I’d still prefer Williams-Sergio Martinez II at junior middleweight before Williams goes back to welterweight, because of the whole unfinished business tip, but Mosley-Williams is a hell of a good option for 2010, for both men. I thought I read somewhere — can’t remember where — that Williams/Mayweather svengali Al Haymon had jabbed at Pacquiao/Kelly Pavlik promoter Bob Arum by making a better offer for Williams-Martinez II than Arum did for Pavlik-Martinez. Dunno if it’s true. Just thought you’d want to know I might have read that, or imagined it.

If “grossly” out of shape Hatton returns in May, and there are rumors abuzz that he will give it a go, the first option remains Marquez. But Marquez does have an alphabet belt at lightweight he might have to defend if he wants to keep it by fighting Michael Katsidis, which is an inviting fight in and of itself. I could do with either.

Maybe Amir Khan is willing to fight Marcos Maidana in a mandatory defense of his junior welterweight alphabet belt, but Khan’s trainer, Freddie Roach, is not. Look, I get it. Fragile-chinned Khan + heavy-hitting Maidana = trouble for the Khan team, but I hope sooner rather than later they stop avoiding anyone who can punch and man up. I’m already on the verge of not taking Khan seriously. If you avoid one kind of fighter for you’re whole career, you ain’t legit. I give him one pass on this, but the next time he’s cornered with a fighter like Maidana, he better take it. Should Khan vacate his belt, Maidana and Victor Cayo — my hero for always wanting to fight Maidana — could slug it out for the belt at some point.

Junior middleweight Sergei Dzindziruk is targeting Alfredo Angulo. Sounds good. HBO? Interested? You should be. Angulo? Interested? Might not be. In a kind of reverse of Khan-Maidana, Angulo’s team has talked about not matching him up with slick, fast types. That can’t last, either.

When Chris John returns in April, it will be in Indonesia in what would probably be a meager challenge for the featherweight, which is too bad, as it means I won’t likely be able to see John continue to test himself against a steady rate of steep competition. It doesn’t take him out of the dense featherweight picture, though. Maybe he’ll be in line for the winner of Juan Manuel Lopez-Yuriorkis Gamboa, if that fight happens?

Over on Fox Sports Net, welterweight prospect Mike Jones will fight Henry Bruseles Feb. 27. Another nice fight for the Fox Sports Net boxing adventure, which also will air — out of nowhere — the light heavyweight rematch between Gabriel Campillo and Beibut Shumenov. I’m feeling less and less annoyed about the extra charge I’m going to incur buying that channel ever day.

We end on a sad note — Daniel Ponce De Leon-Daud Yordan won’t be happening on the Mosley-Andre Berto undercard Jan. 30 as expected, reportedly because De Leon promoter Golden Boy couldn’t afford the featherweight clash. I suppose we might get Yusaf Mack-Glen Johnson on the undercard, right?

(Round and Round sourcing: BoxingScene; 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.