Weekend Afterthoughts, Featuring Andre Ward’s Head Butts And Elbows, Larry Merchant’s Thumbs And Questions, Carl Froch’s Girlfriend’s Voice And Breasts And More

Welcome to Tuesday, the day that we sometimes review things that happened in boxing about three days ago. The above fight happened four days ago, and it features Hozumi Hasegawa making a successful debut at featherweight against Juan Carlos Burgos. I’m still working through the bout but it’s high-level stuff from both men. Burgos dwarfs Hasegawa, and he didn’t show the early power against Burgos he had been showing for a couple years at bantam, but the Japanese fighter will have speed in this division. The talk is of Hasegawa fighting Jhonny Gonzalez next, which is perfect, just perfect. Two guys looking to make a name at featherweight, each needing a big win… perfect times perfect = pluperfect.

(Clearly, your TQBR proprietor needs an extended vacation, which he’s thinking of taking for a couple weeks at the end of December. But not until then. Until then, he’ll do the best he can.)

  • Next for Juan Manuel Marquez. The Marquez team went so far as to print up grammatically incorrect t-shirts challenging Manny Pacquiao to a third fight, but it sounds unlikelier all the time. Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum was quite blunt in this interview about how nobody but “boxing people” care about how uninteresting Pacquiao-Shane Mosley would be. It’s true that the lightweight champ Marquez didn’t draw much of a crowd over the weekend, but while Mosley might have name recognition outside the sport to a degree, it’s not like anyone bought his last pay-per-view in any numbers, and it’s not like he’s a proven draw. Is it cynical of me to think that what Arum is really interested in Mosley for is that he’s not as closely affiliated with Golden Boy, Top Rank’s nemesis company? If Marquez doesn’t get Pacquiao, he could instead face Erik Morales or Amir Khan next. Marquez-Morales at this point in their careers doesn’t interest me much, but that could change if Morales beats Jorge Barrios next month. It wouldn’t be enough to convince me Morales would be competitive, but it would make him more deserving. And Marquez-Khan gets more interesting every time Marquez has a roll-back-the-clock performance like Saturday’s against Michael Katsidis.
  • Fight of the Year. Marquez-Katsidis might not have been the Fight of the Year but it might also have been very close. There was plenty of sustained action, the drama of the Marquez knockdown and some folk had it closer on the cards than I did. The one-sided nature of the bout in my eye — no matter how difficult Katsidis was making it on Marquez, he still wasn’t winning many on my scorecard — hampered it. Maybe a second viewing at the end of the year can win me over.
  • Arthur Abraham’s future. William Dettloff voiced a sneaking suspicion I had here, too, which was that we might not see Abraham finish out the Super Six. Exit method: sudden “injury.” If he’s a real fighter, and I will believe he is until he shows me he isn’t, Abraham will look at his performance against Carl Froch and determine that he has no choice but to redeem himself. Ward is about the worst super middleweight he could face, given Abraham’s trouble with movement and such, but a real fighter should look at that as a challenge. 
  • Andre Ward’s style. As a fan of Ward, Saturday’s foul-filled affair against Sakio Bika was enough ammunition for those who aren’t fans to nearly bury me in shell casings. I honestly, honestly, honestly enjoyed Ward’s performances against Edison Miranda, Mikkel Kessler and Allan Green. There was plenty of contact for my tastes, and the way Ward neutralized them all tickled my brain. I could overlook some of the minor roughhousing under the circumstances. But the only redeeming quality of Ward-Bika was that Ward will be a better fighter for having won that one. Ward is a gifted inside fighter, maybe the best currently practicing, but when he throws in forearms and elbows and head butts, he dirties that gold star on his report card. Hopefully, this was the last we’ll see of that version of Ward, since it was probably a necessity to fight Bika’s dirt with dirt.
  • Michael Katsidis’ punches. I haven’t seen this mentioned as much, but it sure looked to me and my boxing party on Saturday like Katsidis was catching Marquez with a ton of forearms, too. And, really, Katsidis would have had to tripled his foul output to catch up to Ward Saturday. But it is a reminder that even the fighters we most admire get a little dirty sometimes. When the angelic Pacquiao learns to use his elbows will ill intent, you begin to get a sense of what a dirty sport it can be sometimes, and not just dirty in the political sense. All athletics at the highest levels feature this kind of subtle/accepted cheating. Ward is currently the leading practitioner, and while it would be good to see whether he’d get away with as much of it outside of his native Oakland, I bet he’d find a way. None of this — none of it — is meant to condone fouling. I dislike it greatly, especially when it is excessive to the level that it risks a fighter’s health. I’m only saying: It’s out there, more than we probably know.
  • Andre Berto’s value. A couple pals, David P. Greisman and Eric Raskin, broke down the value of welterweight Andre Berto’s brief bout against Freddy Hernandez, measuring the number of punches and seconds and what HBO paid for them. I get what they were going for, but I still don’t think the brevity of the fight says anything more about the value of the bout afterward than we knew about it beforehand. Sometimes, fights go short. Sometimes they go long. Everyone — even the harshest Berto critics — thought this bout would last longer than it did. Hernandez had never been down as a pro. That Berto did what he was supposed to doesn’t change that he did it in the best possible way. His fight shouldn’t be viewed as any more or less of a mismatch because he landed a fantastic right hand. And by the standard of “length of fight or number of punches thrown equals value,” Edwin Valero and Mike Tyson were way overpaid. Berto’s overpaid by any standard, but again, the quick knockout isn’t a reflection on anything.
  • Carl Froch’s girlfriend. The Showtime broadcast crew’s subtle complaints about Froch’s loud gf Rachael Cordingley were a source of constant entertainment Saturday, stuff like referring to her as the “unofficial third member of our broadcast team.” I’ve turned on Cordingley. Yes, her face is beautiful, but the fake breasts are distraction and she has no ass to speak of. And she was obnoxious Saturday. This is one of the bravest stances I’ve ever taken, to critique the looks of a model, and coming from me they surely carry a ton of sway. Maybe people will stop talking about her every time they bring up Froch. On the other hand, Froch needs all the marketing help he can get. I’ll err on the side of truth. Loud. Fake breasts. No ass to speak of.
  • Larry Merchant. HBO’s Larry Merchant was a bit pugnacious Saturday, both good and ill. I’m in the category of people who really liked that he asked Katsidis about the death of his brother. Merchant is a journalist. His job is to tell the story of the fight. He couldn’t ignore the death of Katsidis’ brother; it was one of the stories of the fight. What I don’t get is why he gave Jason Litzau the double thumbs down when the featherweight came over to say something to him. Was he irritated at Litzau for interrupting him mid-broadcast? That happens a lot to the HBO crew. It can’t have been for Litzau’s performance. The featherweight was just coming off the win of his life over Celestino Caballero. 
  • Nate Campbell’s retirement. Campbell lost to journeyman Walter Estrada over the weekend, and then retired. I was a Nate fan. He was a great talker, good body puncher, could be in some fun scraps and always seemed to want to fight the best. He beat some of them, too, briefly ascending to some pound-for-pound top-10 slots. It’s been a good career; when you retire and nobody really makes a big deal of that “I stuck my chin out in an act of bravado and got KO’d” incident, you know you’ve had a good career. It might have been even better if not for a one-year layoff after his career-reviving win over Juan Diaz. In that period, he feuded with promoter Don King and Joan Guzman showed up overweight for a bout with Campbell. Over that same year, Campbell got to the point where he had trouble making lightweight but wasn’t any good at junior welterweight. He tried to go back to lightweight over the weekend, but it wasn’t there. Now, somebody find Campbell a TV gig.
  • Giovanni Segura and other results. It’s true — junior lightweight champion Segura is in line for some Fighter of the Year plaudits after he dispensed with contender Manuel Vargas Hernan Marquez this weekend, given the other things he’s done in 2010. Here are other results unmentioned here.

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.