Quick Jabs: Miguel Cotto Vs. Andre Berto?; Antonio Margarito Pay-Per-View Buys = Bupkis?; James Kirkland Ready To Return?; More

A commenter who clearly has it in for referee Arthur Mercante, Jr. mentioned the above fight recently in a list of Mercante’s sins. It was news to me. Until Saturday night, I’d thought Mercante was a pretty good ref. And maybe, on the sum of his career, he still is. But between the above clip (which by itself is the kind of bad call a good ref might make extremely rarely), an unfortunate death in the ring under his supervision (likewise; some criticized Mercante’s handling of the fight, some said it wasn’t his fault) and what he did in Miguel Cotto vs. Yuri Foreman last weekend (rare to the point of being nearly unique), perhaps it’s time for Mercante to rethink whether he should let fights go on longer or shorter when the matter is most certainly concluded. That’s all I’m saying.

More stuff than that in Quick Jabs this week, like Cotto-Foreman ratings revisited; Ali Funeka’s suspension; Marcos Maidana’s mystery solved; and a fair amount beyond.

Quick Jabs

Disgracd welterweight Antonio Margarito drew a big crowd in Mexico for his first fight since getting caught with loaded gloves, but he bombed in America: ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that Margarito’s pay-per-view figures for that fight stank, in the order of 12,000 to 15,000 buys. It’s not quite justice, because he still did well south of the border and remains in line for a meaningful fight or two, but it’s a good start…

We might as well stay on the “justice” beat. Junior middleweight James Kirkland’s stay in jail on gun charges ends Oct. 2, and the plan is to get him in the ring shortly thereafter. I don’t condone his behavior, but because he’s not done anything inappropriate in the ring, I’m eager to see him back between the ropes because he’s exciting — but someone please put a leash on this kid outside the ring. His record isn’t quite like that of the recently deceased Edwin Valero, but he clearly needs more supervision than Valero got…

Doug Fischer only attributes it to one source, but it’s too intriguing not to pass along: He reports that Valero suffered from schizophrenia, and was on medication for it, but went off it and on to all kinds of illegal drugs he shouldn’t have been taking. He also apparently fought with his brother because he thought his wife was cheating on him with his sibling, and get this — little brother Luis KO’d big brother. Plus, Luis is said to have his brother’s power but with “the moves of Jorge Linares.” If crazy doesn’t run in the family, that last tidbit is intriguing to those of us who wish Valero could have controlled himself outside the ring so we could see him fulfill his potential…

Lightweight Ali Funeka may or may not have been trying to cheat, but it doesn’t matter: He got caught with a banned substance in his system and now he’s suspended for nine months and has lost out on the extra bit of purse he got because Joan Guzman failed to make weight for their recent fight, as he should have…

The Boxing Truth’s John Chavez, a ratings guru, raised an interesting point about the HBO ratings for Cotto-Foreman — he couldn’t recall a time where ratings included the replay in their accounting. I also thought this was interesting: Several trainers said they saw no change in Cotto because of Emmanuel Steward’s tutelage. They said the junior middleweight looked the same as always. I disagree. I thought he looked sharper. But it’s true that Steward hasn’t enacted any major changes to Cotto. I rather think he helped Cotto do the things he already does better. And I left out my agreement that Roy Jones, Jr. was good behind the microphone for HBO last weekend. Rafael has the scoop on why he ever left…

The saga of where Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham will fight in the next round of the Showtime super middleweight tournament continues. The latest idea is Canada, but it’s not at all clear that will happen. Canada makes some measure of sense, as Lucian Bute hails from there and he might be a future opponent for the tournament’s winner, but Froch’s refusal of Switzerland pissed me off and I don’t get why they can’t decide where to fight already…

As it happened, junior welterweight Marcos Maidana didn’t have a back injury, he said. Instead, he was in a fight with his management and didn’t even know he was going to fight Timothy Bradley until he read about it in the news. Sounds messed up. I can’t help but want Maidana to get this whole thing resolved, because he’s one of the most exciting fighters out there and one of the four big players in a loaded division, and the sooner he fights one of the other three, the better…

I spend a lot of time pointing out bad boxing journalism, but there were two very nice analytical pieces this week at RingTV.com, one by Fischer on the rise of regional attractions in boxing and another by Eric Raskin on the neglected cruiserweight division. Read ’em both. Sauerland Event is talking about a cruiserweight round-robin — go for it, Sauerland, but make sure you include Troy Ross, who proved he belonged. Both Ring and ESPN moved him up in their rankings after his showing last weekend, and he’s now justifiably one of the top four men in the division. Don’t leave him out.

Round And Round

Cotto-Andre Berto — a fight I’d really like to see — is something both sides are talking about as an option. Sure, Bob Arum would rather put Cotto in against one of his guys, a list we’re familiar with — Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Antonio Margarito (and Arum’s talked of late about Chavez-Margarito II; ugh). But I’m encouraged that the two parties are at least willing to talk about Cotto-Berto happening. I’d personally rather see it at 147 than 154, but the talk is of 154. And Berto, FWIW, isn’t all that interested in going down to 140 under any circumstances.

Junior welterweight Amir Khan’s next fight has been moved to the fall, and all the usual people he’d been talked about fighting, like Joel Casmayor, Michael Katsidis or Juan Manuel Marquez remain in the mix. But Casamayor wants to fight sooner, so he may end up fighting Robert Guerrero on the undercard of Marquez-Juan Diaz II July 31. (There was talk of teaming Khan’s fight with that fight too, but obviously that’s off.)

Rafael Marquez is interested in a featherweight fight with Juan Manuel Lopez, and it could be paired with Froch-Abraham Sept. 18. I bet some people will not like this fight, but I thought Marquez showed he had enough that this won’t be a slaughter and could even be a good one.

Fernando Montiel-Eric Morel, as on-again/off-again as any fight in the sport, is back on for July. Top Rank got the fight for a $100,000 purse bid, and the bantamweight title bout will be held in July or August. Supposebly.

Also for the July 31 undercard, Daniel Jacobs fights for a middleweight title against hard-hitting Dmitry Pirog, who hasn’t beaten much of anyone of note, other than Kofi Jantuah last year, when Jantuah was no longer a force in the division. But because of his KO ratio, Pirog could be dangerous. It’s a good addition to the Marquez-Diaz II undercard, which already includes Jorge Linares-Rocky Juarez at 130, and may end up including Casamayor-Guerrero. More like this, please.

Sakio Bika was on the outside looking in recently in the hunt for Lucian Bute’s title, but he’ll be in an eliminator against Jean Paul Mendy to be the mandatory some time AFTER Jesse Brinkley. The purse bid for that fight was a shockingly low $30,000, as Golden Boy was the only promoter to bid on it — and Mendy had reportedly turned down a previous offer of $50,000, also pretty low.

Steve Luevano’s ready to bounce back from his loss to Juan Manuel Lopez, and is saying he’ll fight featherweight big names like Chris John or even Celestino Caballero, although I find it difficult to imagine how either of those men would get enough money fighting Luevano for their tastes. His next fight will probably be on Fox Sports Net/Fox Sports en Espanol, says Top Rank.

Nate Campbell’s going to give it another try, and his opponent looks like it will be Julio Diaz. Campbell-Victor Ortiz was the “loser goes home” fight, or so we thought, but Campbell-Diaz is DEFINITELY the “loser goes home” fight.

Middleweight Sergio Mora will headline a TeleFutura show July 23 against J.C. Candelo, who hasn’t done anything for a few years. He wants a title fight soon.

Heavyweight Tony Thompson was going to fight Friday Ahunanya next weekend but he reportedly suffered a training injury.

In two nondescript title-ish bouts, Junior featherweight Steve Molitor, who’s reportedly looked like crap for several fights, will go over to England July 23 to defend againt Jason Booth, and Eduardo Escobedo will fight Francisco Cordero June 26 for some interim featherweight belt.

I have no idea why Mike Arnaoutis is staying at welterweight, but he’ll fight Demetrius Hopkins at 147 on ESPN2 July 2.

(Round and Round sources: 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.