In this week’s fights-in-the-works post, have to start with the latest wrinkle in the Super Six. Sakio Bika has stepped in as the next opponent for super middleweight Andre Ward after Andre Dirrell pulled out, although it won’t be an official part of Showtime’s super middleweight tournament. My first reaction was, “Good replacement. Sakio Bika’s ranked sixth by Ring, and there’s nobody better available.” It’s still true.
But there is some skepticism about the replacement since Bika, like Dirrell, is managed by Al Haymon. I admit the thought didn’t occur to me at first. I suppose the fear is that Dirrell never intended to fight Ward, and that at a certain point, Bika would come in and Haymon would get two of his clients things they wanted, which is why Bika didn’t take the chance to replace Mikkel Kessler when he had one?
For this to work out for Haymon et al — and let’s point out that there’s zero evidence on this theory that anyone has brought to light — a few things have to happen, and you have to explain away some holes. Bika very well might have genuinely been interested in replacing Dirrell rather than Kessler because of grieving over the death of his father, as explained when he turned down the first opportunity; with Ward-Bika scheduled weeks after the Allan Green fight where he was to meet Kessler, it’s wholly possible the extra time will give him the space to prepare the way he wants. But while Dirrell theoretically gets what he wants, Haymon ends up getting less money out of this deal than he might have in the short term. With Bika not an official part of the tournament, where Dirrell was, that means there isn’t the same potential money in a semi-final fight had Dirrell beaten Ward. Furthermore, Bika had the chance to enter the tournament earlier had he fought Green in a box-off to replace Haymon’s Jermain Taylor, but his team turned it down for “undisclosed reasons.”
In other words, if things had gone as well for Haymon as they could have here, he would have ended up with a Taylor fight, a Green-Bika box-off, Bika entering the tournament by beating Green and participating in at least two but possibly more fights, and Dirrell staying in the tournament rather than allegedly faking an injury for at least one more fight and a minimum of three total. Instead, he got one Taylor fight, will get one Bika fight rather than three or more, and loses a Dirrell fight and potentially two more. In order for this to have been engineered from the beginning, Dirrell better make a helluva a lot of money fighting on HBO soon. I doubt Haymon is so benevolent toward Dirrell and his interest in not fighting Ward that the manager would leave so much potential money on the table.
It’s possible I’m totally missing something here, but nobody’s showed me. If indeed Haymon had totally wrecked the Super Six single-handedly, I would be very angry. So far, there are only theories that appear somewhat elaborate from where I’m sitting.
In the meantime, Ward-Bika is a good fight. Bika is as tough as they come, and I don’t see him being bullied the way Ward bullied Green and Kessler. It could be a head butt-fest, which means it could be ugly, but I bet it’s a gritty fight. It also would give Ward the chance of moving further up the pound-for-pound list and more and more staking his claim as the man who is next in line as the best American fighter.
Other fights in the works:
Round And Round
If you were worried about junior welterweight Victor Ortiz taking a crappier fight than Andriy Kotelnik Dec. 11, you needn’t worry anymore: With Kotelnik out for whatever reason, Lamont Peterson is in, and that’s a damn nice matchup. There have been some folk griping about Ortiz’ level of competition lately, but I think it made perfect sense for him to be fighting the kind of people he was fighting before moving up against a top-10 contender. Now he’s ready. The key, I think, will be whether Ortiz can hurt Peterson. Ortiz has the best power in the division’s elite other than maybe Maidana, and he has speed comparable to Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander but a notch below Amir Khan. Peterson showed that he won’t back down, and as good as it was for Ortiz to add the wrinkle of boxing and moving more, he’s going to have to outwork Peterson (hard to do, and it took extraordinary measures for Bradley to do it) or he’s going to have to beat him up. Either way, interesting bout.
Some light heavyweight business: Beibut Shumenov and Juergen Braehmer could meet in a title unification bout soon. Not a bad fight. And Tavoris Cloud will take a bout in Dec. 17 in advance of a potential match with Chad Dawson, with Otis Griffin the leading candidate and Yusaf Mack the backup. I like the idea of Mack better.
Some heavyweight business: 1. Apparently Roy Jones was trying to convince David Haye to give him a shot. Apparently Haye isn’t interested. I’d commend Haye, but so far as I can tell, Haye is only interested these days in trash talking the Klitschko brothers and not fighting them. 2. There was some talk of an IBF tourney to decide the next challenger to Wladimir Klitschko, but at least a few potential entrants said “no,” so presumably that won’t happen. 3. Jean Marc Mormeck and Hasim Rahman might fight Dec. 2 in Paris. Not much of a fight — Mormeck hasn’t been good at heavy and Rahman is well over the hill — but it gives Mormeck a bout while he waits to see if he can win the Klitschko sweepstakes. 4. Cristobal Arreola is slated to lead off Friday Night Fights Jan. 7 against an opponent to be named later.
Knockout artist Randall Bailey will be in a welterweight title eliminator against Said Ouali Dec. 10. Given Bailey’s flair for big knockouts and Ouali’s dramatic win in his most recent fight, I bet this one is good while it lasts.
In a Nov. 5 ShoBox bout, super middleweight prospect Edwin Rodriguez will take on James McGirt, Jr. as he continues to inch up the competition in a wise manner. Middleweight prospect David Lemieux will take on Hector Camacho, Jr. Oct. 27, a tremendous fight for people who like the idea of Camacho’s grating ass getting knocked out.
It’s not clear whom junior welterweight Erik Morales will be fighting next, but maybe it’s Jorge Barrios, and Josesito Lopez would like a shot. Since Morales is going to keep at it, either of those fights would work for me.
Joshua Clottey is turning down fights because he wants at least $500,000, according to promoter Top Rank, and because he made a whopping $2.45 million from his non-effort against Manny Pacquiao in a welterweight bout in the spring. Clottey is annoying.
(Round and Round sources: ESPN; BoxingScene)