Think hard about how many boxers in 2010 have taken a legitimate chance in a highly risky fight. There’s the Super Six tournament, Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley, Sergio Martinez-Kelly Pavlik, and some a tier or two below that like Chad Dawson-Jean Pascal or Pongsaklek Wonjongkam-Koki Kameda.
So, while I welcome Showtime’s bantamweight tournament (one participant, Abner Mares, pictured at right via Golden Boy) and Amir Khan-Marcos Maidana on HBO, I kind of wish they weren’t both on Dec. 11. I’ve got a DVR these days, but not everybody does. And I guess I’d rather get a few risky bouts on the same night than not at all. You just wish with a whole year to put on bouts like this and so few occasions where it happened, they didn’t end up competing.
I’ll discuss all those bouts at length more below, but because I’ve missed two weeks of fights in the works, we won’t be going in order of importance. We’ll just go division by division.
Division champion Wladimir Klitschko plans to be back in December. David Haye (chicken/is fighting Audley Harrison Nov. 13) isn’t an option, nor is Alexander Povetkin (has a fight against an unspecified opponent Oct. 30/trainer Teddy Atlas said he isn’t ready) or Tomasz Adamek (has a fight in December already/is being lined up for the spring against a Klitschko). That doesn’t leave a whole lot. Reported potential opponents include Odlanier Solis, Dennis Boytsov, David Tua and Jean-Marc Mormeck. That’s the order of my interest. Solis, outside of Haye, might rank a as the most legit threat to either Klitschko, not that anyone truly is MUCH of a threat.
Adamek’s fight in December is on the 9th, and it’s against Vinny Maddalone. I can only figure that, after the scare against Michael Grant and after Lance Whitaker crapped out in his last fight, Adamek’s team doesn’t want to take any chances of him getting knocked off prior to a Klitschko fight. Maddalone’s a minor TQBR favorite and it should be a good brawl, but his talent level is very low and he poses zero threat. I won’t be buying this one on pay-per-view unless I am extremely drunk and extremely bored that night.
Krzysztof Wlodarczyk is fighting Jason Robinson Sept. 25. Robinson hasn’t beaten anyone of note and has lost to worse fighters than Wlodarczyk, so this is kind of a stay-busy bout prior to the cruiserweight tournament that’s being discussed.
Danny Green will actually fight a live body/real cruiserweight in his next fight! He’s booked against B.J. Flores, a borderline top-10 cruiser Nov. 17. Nobody ever says, “I’m looking forward to that Flores fight,” but at least it’s a competitive bout on paper for Green, who’s an exciting fighter I want to see in competitive bouts.
I just read Troy Ross could’ve headlined a Friday Night Fights card on Aug. 28 but turned it down. I can’t figure out why. Here’s a guy who needs exposure to create some public demand for himself, and he turns down a chance at that? I’d wonder if he wasn’t healed from that cut against Steve Cunningham, except I saw him in Montreal for Dawson-Pascal and he looked fine to me.
Speaking of Pascal, his Dec. 18 bout with Bernard Hopkins will be distributed by Showtime Pay-Per-View. I can’t figure out why anyone thinks this will sell. I know Hopkins always wants too much money for stuff, but this bout should have been on regular Showtime if anything.
Lucian Bute-Jesse Brinkley will be on ESPN3.com on Oct 15. I don’t anticipate it being a competitive bout, but again, I’m glad it’s an option to watch it. Also glad that welterweight Jo Jo Dan will be making an appearance, as he got jobbed in his last fight and deserves another shot at the spotlight, and this is a minor dose of it.
Andre Ward-Andre Dirrell — if it ever, ever happens — will be for the belt vacated by Mkkel Kessler, instead of Carl Froch-Arthur Abraham. If you care about the Machiavellian designs of the alphabet gang.
Paul Williams-Martinez II, this time for Martinez’ middleweight championship, has been put on the schedule by HBO for Nov. 20 but it still apparently isn’t finalized. They’re debating whether to put it in Atlantic City or Washington, D.C., to which I say oh please oh please want want want in my hometown of D.C.
The talks are reportedly serious for Felix Sturm to fight Dmitry Pirog in November or December. I really like the bout. Sturm isn’t thrilling, but he’s not boring, either, and he’s very good — and we know Pirog is exciting and good now after his upset of Daniel Jacobs.
Pavlik’s return will be at 164, and against an opponent who was only ever modestly good at 154, Daniel Edouard, on the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito undercard. It’s the worst bout on the undercard by far, which is nonetheless not as terrible as some recent Top Rank shows, as it offers some decently interesting bouts. Pavlik is at least a big name; Guillermo Rigondeaux-Ricardo Cordoba is a legit contender vs. contender fight at junior featherweight featuring an ultra-promising fighter in Rigondeaux; and Mike Jones vs. Jesus Soto Karass at welterweight is Jones fighting a touch higher level of opponent than he has lately and that doesn’t figure as a bad scrap.
Sebastian Sylvester will fight Mahir Oral in an Oct. 30 bout that figures to be tougher for Sylvester than it was for Arthur Abraham when he beat Oral. Sylvester’s not so good, and Oral’s not so bad, that I figure this one to be uncompetitive.
Borderline top-10 middles Roman Karmazin and Daniel Geale have their eliminator booked tentatively for Oct. 31. I like both men a bit, so it should be a friiiiiiiiightfully good time on Halloween.
Miguel Cotto’s Dec. 4 opponent probably won’t be Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. as originally planned — no surprise there — but he’ll probably fight on the same card. Actually, the whole card appears headed toward a huge upgrade. I don’t care about Cotto-Chavez. But I am interested in the opponent being discussed for Cotto, Kermit Cintron. I think that’s a more competitive bout. Cintron is big, athletic and improving in recent bouts, plus there’s a Puerto Rican rivalry angle. Chavez is fighting an opponent in Pawel Wolak who is a bit more on his level, and if he can beat Wolak (and he should) then I might become more interested in Cotto-Chavez later. Also, Anthony Mundine said he wants Cotto. He doesn’t. It’s time for Ring to remove this guy from its middleweight rankings, by the way, since he doesn’t fight or talk about fighting in the division much these days and hasn’t accomplished anything in years.
I really like Khan-Maidana. I know there are people who think Khan will win it easy with his boxing ability, but it’s a dangerous fight for Khan because of Maidana’s power. Khan has been wobbled by far lighter hitters, and Maidana is, if nothing else, relentless. I honestly think that if Khan can win, the sky’s the limit. It’ll be on HBO — there were rumors of it being pay-per-view — and in Las Vegas. I applaud the first and don’t understand the second.
But the winner of Khan-Maidana probably won’t be fighting the winner of Timothy Bradley-Devon Alexander next for a couple reasons. One, the planned January bout might not happen. Bradley and his promoter, Gary Shaw, are discussing an extension. Shaw reportedly wants Bradley to sign one as part of the deal for the Alexander fight, and Bradley wants to explore his options next summer. It’s kind of goofy. Shaw either will lose Bradley or he won’t — he might as well get some cash out of him in the meantime, because he gets nothing without Bradley fighting. If it doesn’t happen, Victor Ortiz is ready to step in as Bradley’s mandatory challenger, but I don’t know if that one gets held up for the same reasons as Bradley-Alexander. Two, if Bradley-Alexander happens it is said to include rematch clauses on both sides.
Zab Judah has a better opponent lined up for Nov. 6 than originally, with hard-punching Lucas Matthysse his foe in an HBO show. That one could be somewhat interesting.
Junior welterweight prospect Danny Garcia is booked to fight Michael Arnaoutis in the toughest test of his career on Telefutura Oct. 8. There has been a slight uptick in the quality of bouts on Solo Boxeo of late, this being another. They’re getting to the point where they would be decent Friday Night Fights headliners. I’m not saying that’s worth climbing your state’s Capitol building and screaming its praises, but it’s a positive development.
On the undercard of Judah-Matthysse, Robert Guerrero will take on Vicente Escobedo. Not a bad bout, but I’ve really lost a good deal of interest in Guerrero over the years. It doesn’t seem he’ll ever get consistent.
Hot property Brandon Rios wants Humberto Soto. That won’t happen in a million years. Soto hasn’t fought anyone very dangerous in forever, and Rios is the definition of dangerous.
All signs point to Celestino Caballero fighting Jason Litzau Nov. 27 on HBO. I don’t like Litzau’s chances at all, but I don’t think it’s a totally foregone conclusion. At 5’10” and with a 73″ reach, he’s approximately the same size as Caballero, a rare condition that has given Caballero trouble in the past, and Caballero would be moving up to 130 where he’s never fought and is therefore of unproven effectiveness.
Takashi Uchiyama and Jorge Solis could be headed toward a November title unification bout. I’m not saying 130 is getting to the point of “good,” but at least some decent bouts are being made between top guys.
For instance, Ricky Burns-Alex Arthur II won’t happen. Arthur says he can’t make 130 anymore. That’ll force Burns to maybe fight someone a bit more competitive in his next bout, one hopes. Not that Burns deserves to get hammered if he takes a quick, easy defense after his Fight of the Year candidate against Rocky Martinez, but I still prefer to see Burns in tough as opposed to not.
One of the alphabet belt types is saying Chris John vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa has to happen in 120 days. I want ‘er. But John’s people say they have a contractual obligation to Fernando Saucedo, the guy meant to be a soft return opponent in Indonesia but whom they’ve bailed on twice with injury. Nothing against Saucedo, but I wish they could find a way out of that — John-Gamboa is a far more interesting bout than John-Saucedo.
Hozumi Hasegawa could be moving all the way up from bantam for a title shot against Juan Carlos Burgos. Intriguing.
We’ve gone through the bouts before, but it’s worth revisiting them now that Showtime has officially announced its bantamweight tournament. On its debut night, Yonnhy Perez will rematch Joseph Agbeko in their 2009 Fight of the Year candidate. I like Perez, but who knows if the hard fights he had against Agbeko and Abner Mares will leave him a bit diminished or if Agbeko’s long break since the first Perez fight will make him rusty. Anyway, I almost guarantee it won’t suck. As for Mares-Vic Darchinyan the same night, I really like Mares with a lot of confidence. I think the world of his talent and now he’s battle-tested against Perez. Darchinyan hasn’t looked tremendous lately, either, especially above 115.
One of the reasons Nonito Donaire isn’t in the tournament is because he has a high guaranteed minimum from Top Rank, and he didn’t want to take less to fight in the tourney. Donaire loses the right to complain about not getting a significant opponent if he would rather fight bums for slightly less money indefinitely. I’m not saying any fighter should take less money than he’s owed, but he’s limited his own options, and if that’s the bed he wants to lie in, he loses the right to complain about not getting a top foe, since he’s turned them down.
Strawweight Roman Gonzalez is ready to move up and go after top-10 junior flyweight Juan Carlos Reveco. If Gonzalez can carry up some of his power, he could be a nice addition to a deep division.