What a terrible week it’s been for boxers doing the right thing. And too often, undeserving people have been victimized by it all. The one with the most immediate ramifications: Joan Guzman (right) again coming in overweight, this time for Saturday’s rematch with Ali Funeka (left), and not just a little — nine pounds above the 135-pound lightweight limit. This is a galling act by Guzman. Infuriating. Guzman came in overweight in 2008 for a fight with Nate Campbell, so we’re talking now about a pattern of unprofessional behavior. And nine pounds — that’s the kind of amount where you wonder whether Guzman is flat lazy, or was deliberately trying to game the system, hoping that Funeka would take the fight anyway because it’s the only way he would get paid. If that’s not prospectively devious enough, Guzman’s team apparently made no attempt to notify Funeka’s team that he wouldn’t make weight, something they had to have known was 100 percent certain.
As I write this, it doesn’t look like Funeka-Guzman II will happen. Funeka still was interested in taking the fight, with a 7 a.m. weigh-in that wouldn’t have allowed Guzman to come in above 150 lbs. and Funeka above 145 lbs. — not exactly an equitable arrangement for Funeka even with a larger share of the purse, given that Funeka has had trouble shrinking his massive frame into 135 already but always has done his job and made weight. But the IBF sent word it wasn’t going to guarantee Funeka could retain his top ranking at lightweight if he lost to Guzman, even though this would no longer be a lightweight fight by any meaning of the term. For those of you scoring at home, here’s the history of Funeka’s quest for a lightweight belt: Put up with Campbell coming in overweight against him, lost a decision some, including myself, thought he deserved to win; got jacked around in the alphabet gang rankings and by the boxing authority in his native South Africa; got fully robbed of a win he deserved in the first Guzman fight for a vacant belt, which was instead ruled a draw; saw a replacement opponent for the vacant belt, Rolando Reyes, back out, putting him back in the ring with Guzman, a man he already beat in the court of public opinion; and got forced to choose by the IBF between getting paid for all his hard work or losing his ranking undeservedly if he were to lose against Guzman in the rematch.
Cruiserweight Steve Cunningham has had some hard luck overall, including this week. Funeka is the boxer to whom the sport has been most unkind in the last year-plus, and it couldn’t be any sadder because he’s a good fighter, an exciting fighter, and he’s always doing the right thing. Guzman’s villainy is all the more enraging because Funeka is the one who suffers for it. If the networks don’t completely ban Guzman from their airwaves now, there’s something wrong with them — he arguably shouldn’t have been back on THIS time. As my grandmother used to say: “He makes me so mad I want to spit.” (Links to BoxingScene coverage of Funeka-Guzman II, keeping in mind the usual warnings about cyber hygiene: Here and here.) [UPDATE: The fight’s back on, per BoxingScene.]
Now, on to the rest of our Quick Jabs, which I can’t say are all that much more uplifting.
Closing the loop on Guzman, with one more hero and one more villain: HBO told Funeka’s promoter Gary Shaw that if Funeka were to lose, they’d treat the loss like it never happened and have Funeka back on again. Good for them. Guzman promoter Golden Boy, meanwhile, either didn’t check up on a fighter who had notoriously failed to make weight in the past or knew and kept it secret. Bad for them, either way….
Dynamic in the ring but troubled out of it, junior welterweight Edwin Valero this week was suspected by doctors of beating up his wife, what with her having been hospitalized a collapsed lung and other kinds of injuries. It’s not clear from the reports whether he was arrested for assaulting his wife, or the threats he made against the doctors, or some combination of both. In case you’ve lost track of all of Valero’s problems, it now includes a gun-related detention, a DUI charge, a denied visa, a bleeding brain and a previous arrest on domestic violence charges against his sister and mother that were later dropped. If his career hasn’t officially self-destructed as of this latest, it’s a matter of time (see: BoxingScene)…
The most eye-catching part of the whole Valero saga from this week? He told doctors that he didn’t assault his wife — she fell down the stairs. Could he have picked a lamer explanation for his (alleged) attack? It’s like he went to the wife-beater cliche book, read the first chapter on how if you beat up your wife you should say she fell down the stairs, and then closed the book. I don’t mean to make light of domestic violence; it’s terrible, and if Valero did what he’s accused of, he should go to jail for a long time (although one suspects as a darling of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, that would be unlikely). But — really? Fell down the stairs?…
Remember how Joshua Clottey blamed his awful performance against Manny Pacquiao in their March 13 welterweight bout on diarrhea caused by some bad stew? He’s elaborated. It turns out he also HAD A BAD DAY. That doesn’t explain why he was dancing so joyfully on the way to the ring, which sounds like a hard thing to do with diarrhea anyway. Clottey can’t stop shooting himself in the foot then sticking it in his mouth. I do think it’s possible he might have been misquoted. Like this awful song parody, maybe he said I “had a bidet?”…
A few notes on Showtime’s super middleweight tournament: 1. The agreement on officials for Arthur Abraham-Andre Dirrell has landed one American judge and two from outside the country, which is equitable. Unfortunately it also landed the fight Laurence Cole. If Dirrell holds a lot and Abraham works with his elbows, will Cole know when to intervene? 2. Showtime’s boss spoke to Ring magazine on how the Super Six tournament hasn’t run into any problems it didn’t anticipate. People should stop overreacting, I think, and if you have any doubts check out the interview. 3. Dirrell said last week his back — which forced the Abraham fight to be delayed (unless you think there was some hidden motive) — was “90 percent.” That’s not the kind of thing you want going into the hardest fight of your life, but if Dirrell’s pressing forward, kudos to him. (Unless it’s an excuse in advance.)…
Miguel Cotto and Yuri Foreman are apparently fighting over the training services of Emmanuel Steward in advance of their junior middleweight fight, per BoxingScene. Foreman had already signed on with Foreman in some capacity, so it’d be a kind of betrayal if he switched, but everybody knows Cotto needs a veteran trainer…
The results are going to come in so fast this weekend I don’t know how I’ll keep up. I already covered Fight Night Club in the comments section of this post. From Friday, per Fightnews: Nkosinathi Joyi beat Raul Garcia to take Garcia’s strawweight title, and welterweight Demetrius Hopkins and lightweight Vicente Escobedo scored wins. Oh, and good news: highlights from featherweight YURIORKIS GAMBOA!’s Saturday fight in Germany will air on Top Rank Live Saturday evening on Fox Sports Net….
And now for something completely different.
Round And Round
There will be no Beibut Shumenov-Gabriel Campillo III, because the WBA decided no rematch was required for the light heavyweight belt Shumenov won over Campillo in a widely-condemned decision. And Shumenov doesn’t intend to grant Campillo one on his own. So Shumenov loses a decision in the first match that he thought he won, browbeats Campillo into another match… and then when the tables are turned, he walks away? I’m not impressed. I wish people would man up in situations like this. You’ll gain more respect fighting again and losing than if you duck and dodge.
It’s safe to guess we probably won’t be getting Valero-Lamont Peterson this summer, with Valero’s troubles compounding. I was looking forward to that one. And Top Rank boss Bob Arum said Humberto Soto has opted against fighting Anthony Peterson this summer, too. Soto has the most annoying career of any major boxer. He wants to take some voluntary defense of his lightweight title in Mexico instead. Soto is unlikely to face a true threat for the rest of said annoying career. Sucks to be a Peterson brother.
In the last of the “it ain’t happening” fights, Lucas Matthysse has turned down an offer to face Vivian Harris in a rematch of their fight where the referee quizzically stopped the fight for no good reason and gave the stoppage win to Matthysse. His manager said their was no money in it because no network wants it, and noted that Harris didn’t give Noe Bolanos a rematch of the fight that was stopped when Harris was head-butted into unconsciousness, but besides the false equivalency, there’s also the fact that goddam it what’s wrong with manning up and wanting to prove that a controversial win shouldn’t be controversial?
Now, to fights that are happening: Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz II is the real prize, with Marquez and Diaz waging the leading vote-getter in Fight of the Year for 2009. It’s close to done for July 10, according to Golden Boy, the promoter for both men. Unclear if it’s at lightweight, where Marquez is the division’s true champion, or junior welterweight, where the winner would be poised to get another big fight in a deep division. It’ll also be a pay-per-view, which is a touch surprising, but more defensible up the “I thought we were cutting back on PPVs” alley than, say, Roy Jones-Bernard Hopkins II. On the undercard would be Winky Wright-Sergio Mora at middleweight, a meaningful fight that doesn’t shape up as a very exciting one. I suppose you’d get most of the excitement you needed from the main event, though. P.S. Diaz manned up and gave Paulie Malignaggi a rematch of a controversial decision and lost it and now he’s set to star in a pay-per-view. See, you can gain more by doing the rematch thing than you think.
On the Super Six tip, Andre Ward and Allan Green have been rescheduled for June 19, aka my birthday. I thought that was the day HBO was going to air Timothy Bradley-Luis Abregu at welterweight, which means Showtime is now counter-programming HBO with its Super Six tournament rather than vice versa (and I’m sure Showtime isn’t going after Bradley because he recently jumped from Showtime to HBO).
Heavyweight Odlanier Solis is going to face Ray Austin at some point after an April 23 purse bid, with the winner to be the next sacrificial lamb to the efficient, slow-motion mechanical thrashing machine that is a Klitschko brother, in this case Vitali.
Eric Morel-Jorge Arce at bantamweight be the bout accompanying the July 10 featherweight bout between Juan Manuel Lopez and Bernabe Concepcion. Because we all know how well Arce does against slick boxers, and how bantamweight is his best weight. Not settled yet what network it would be on…
Welterweight prospect Saul Alvarez’s opponent for his appearance on the May 1 undercard for Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley (welterweight) looks to be Jose Miguel Cotto. Cotto put up stiff resistance to Diaz four years ago at lightweight, and he’s not done anything at welterweight. But it’s still a defensible fight for the 19-year-old Alvarez.
Featherweight Chris John makes his return May 22 against Fernando Saucedo. Saucedo has won like a billion fights since his last loss, against Acelino Freitas in 2004, although not against anyone I can recall hearing of. John’s fight will be in John’s native Indonesia. I root for him not to stay there long — he can be a nice piece to the featherweight picture as long as his retreat to Indonesia isn’t permanent.
Cruiserweights Giacobbe Fragomeni and Krzysztof Wlodarczyk are doing a rematch May 15 of their excellent 2009 bout to go after the vacant belt that Zsolt Erdei won from Fragomeni then promptly dropped.
Junior middleweight Joe Greene finally gets back into action after a nearly year-long layoff, against Joshua Onyango April 2 on ESPN2. Onyango’s record suggests they’re not rushing Greene into anything.
Disgustipating banned glove-loading welterweight Antonio Margarito returns May 8 in Mexico against Roberto Garcia, who owns a win over Tyrone Brunson conqueror Carson Jones and shares a no contest with Freddy Hernandez. I may have mentioned that Margarito grosses me out.
(Round and Round sourcing: ESPN; BoxingScene; Fightnews; news releases)