So continues our marathon coverage of one of the biggest fights of 2010, Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13. Before: the debate over purchasing the pay-per-view; the stakes of the bout; keys to the fight, part I and II; and the final preview and prediction. Next: the ultimate guide, a wrap-up of all the best links, video and more.
Top Rank meant well — or, at least, better than terrible — for its pay-per-view undercard supporting Manny Pacquiao’s junior middleweight bout with Antonio Margarito. And it does feature at least two somewhat compelling bouts, even after former middleweight star Kelly Pavlik pulled out of his undercard fight. So +1 to Top Rank for coming up with a better undercard than some of the other crappy undercards it’s had before, despite Pavlik departing. That undercard, plus heavyweight David Haye’s latest overseas shelter from the Klitschko brothers, head up the non-Pacquiao-Margarito slate this weekend.
- David Haye-Audley Harrison, Saturday, Manchester England. Haye’s favorite pasttime is to call out the Klitschko brothers, say how bad they suck, then run and fight someone else. I know, he’s got some gripes with the contract or whatever. But he’s pulled out of two different agreements after agreeing to those contracts, the terms get more favorable every time the Klitschkos renew their offer to fight, and he still finds a reason to say “no.” It’s too bad that the #3 heavyweight in the world and the only man who offers a truly compelling bout with the Klitschkos would rather squawk than fight. Harrison can punch, but he’s never lived up to his potential and needed a miracle to beat journeyman Michael Sprott in his last appearance. Presumably, there are some people in England who are interested in this all-British match-up, but all it does for me is piss me off when I think of it happening rather than the bout we all wanted and the bout Haye said he wanted. (If you didn’t catch Paul Magno’s breakdown of Haye this week, make sure you visit it here.)
- Guillermo Rigondeaux-Ricardo Cordoba, Saturday, Pacquiao-Margarito undercard. I’m more interested in this fight than I am Pacquiao-Margarito. Rigondeaux is a world-class prospect, arguably the best amateur boxer who ever lived. He’s sensationally skilled and has a nice mix of speed and power. In just his seventh fight, he’s taking on Ricardo Cordoba for an interim junior featherweight title. The exciting Cordoba lost his last major fight, against Bernard Dunne, but it was ultra-competitive. Cordoba once beat Celestino Caballero, who now resides on most pound-for-pound top-20 lists. And Cordoba is Ring magazine’s #5 junior featherweight in the world. This is a bold step with Rigondeaux’ career, albeit a step he’s as ready for as any prospect ever has been.
- Mike Jones-Jesus Soto Karass, Saturday, Pacquiao-Margarito undercard. Jones is a very nice welterweight prospect who probably already has transformed into a contender, but beating Karass would put him over that hump. Karass is the best opponent of Jones’ career. Despite Karass’ loss last year to Alfonso Gomez, who’s nowhere near as gifted as Jones, he is a proven tough guy. I’ve always liked the idea of putting up-and-coming prospects on undercards, to sell people on the future, but too often said prospect is fed bad opponents. Jones shouldn’t have any trouble with Karass, but at least you can say that he was given an appropriate step up.
- Brandon Rios-Omri Lowther, Saturday, Pacquiao-Margarito undercard. This fight replaces Pavlik-Brian Vera, and it’s not a good substitute. That’s not the same as saying Rios-Lowther is the worst Top Rank could have done. Rios is an exciting lightweight, but Lowther recently suffered a comprehensive loss to Hank Lundy, and Rios would shred Lundy if they got into the ring together. And Rios got a little harder to root for this week after mocking Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach for having Parkinson’s, despite some flawed apologies over it all.
- Top Rank Live Stream, Saturday. Top Rank, really has been great about putting stuff on the web — videos of news conferences, weigh-ins (like on Friday) and even Margarito’s licensing hearing in California. The best stuff, though, is video of live fights. The untelevised Pacquiao-Margarito undercard begins airing at 6 p.m. ET here. Some of Top Rank’s best prospects, like junior welterweight Jose Benavidez, will be in action.
- The Rest. TeleFutura’s Solo Boxeo airs Friday. RingTV, I leave the preview to you… Middleweight Peter Manfredo, Jr. fights Friday on a NESportsTV webcast… and Telemundo has somethin’ Friday.