There remains much to discuss about the past weekend, especially the waterfall of weird coming out of the Edwin Valero case.
- Valero theories. Now that the former lightweight is deceased, there are some bizarre claims being made by those close to him. I’m not saying I think the claims are true or false, only that they are strange. In this BoxingScene piece, we’re told that family members allege that Valero had kept his wife on drugs under threat of death; that his family members remained quiet because they feared his political connections; that Valero told them he didn’t kill his wife, but that he was being pursued by thugs and believed they did it; and so on. If it isn’t clear from that one story alone, we’re going to be hearing about what happened with Valero for a while now, and some of it is going to be weird. As I said, I don’t know if I believe the claims or not, although one potential doubt I have is related to everyone saying they feared speaking up because of the Venezuelan government… so why would they speak up now?
- Valero’s brain. Everyone knows about the brain bleed Valero suffered because of a motorcycle accident. SC at BLH raised the point that authorities should do an examination of Valero’s brain to determine whether that was a factor in his behavior, citing what we learned about wrestler Chris Benoit after he killed his family and himself. I second the call. All accounts are of Valero being a reckless alcohol and drug abuser prior to the brain bleed, that said. Again, I’m not saying I believe this was or wasn’t the cause of what happened. But it’s worth looking into whether it contributed.
- Bob Arum’s comments. Valero’s promoter Arum made some rather dickish remarks about Valero’s death, saying suicide was the smartest thing he’d done in a while and such. He also suggested that no one was to blame for any of this, and that he was certain the Venezuelan government had been trying to help Valero. That’s completely contradicted by the available evidence. The only thing Venezuela was trying to help Valero do was avoid any repercussions for his actions. Furthermore, I’m removing my hesitation to question whether Valero’s team did enough to help avert any of Valero’s troubles. Arum said he knew of Valero’s substance abuse problems from his old promoter, yet Arum didn’t say he’d done anything about it. Compare that with how Golden Boy Promotions has gotten heavily involved in the life of one of its troubled fighters, junior middleweight James Kirkland. Maybe Kirkland will still go astray, but I’d favor a promoter getting more involved, not less, in situations like this.
- Manager’s comments. Valero’s manager, Jose Castillo, said he pressured authorities to detain Valero after his recent troubles, to no avail, because Valero was given the star treatment. “I asked the authorities not to let him out. He needed a lot of help. He was very bad in the head,” Castillo told reporters. “But they let him out. They were very permissive with him and because of that, we’re now in the middle of this tragedy.” Prosecutors shared that view. The well-reported AP story on this subject says Valero had a police escort, but that he’d slipped away from it. It leaves out the story of Valero recently leaving the scene of a traffic accident (allegedly while under the influence of alcohol), getting arrested and then being released. This, even though he was supposed to check in to a rehab clinic soon; in the United States, if you were ordered into rehab and slipped away from a police escort or got arrested for another alleged crime, you’d probably be thrown right into jail for a while. It’s awfully clear that the truth in Venezuela is hard to get to, but when prosecutors and the fighter’s manager advocates for his detention and he’s let out anyway, then when he at least once and maybe repeatedly violates the terms of being free but still isn’t detained, there have been some serious flaws in how the case is handled.
- Andre Berto’s comments. Lastly, welterweight Andre Berto offered this remark about the Valero case via Twitter (h/t 411 Boxing and Boxing Fancast): “R.I.P to Edwin Valero after killing his wife yesturday he just killed himself in jail today. WOW women are a Motherf***er boy RIP E.V.” His “clarification,” as you can see from the links, was hardly any better. It was an extremely foolish remark that caught him some deserved hell, and the sentiment was truly terrible. It verges on blaming the victim, if it isn’t exactly that. That said, some people called for his stoning, and some people responded by making callous remarks about the earthquake in his native Haiti. It feels like a waste of breath sometimes to call for decorum among boxing fans (there have been some nasty remarks by commenters here as well about wishing other boxers had died instead of Valero and so forth), but I still feel compelled: Knock this junk off, everyone. Criticize Berto, yes; call for an apology, yes; retaliate with remarks that are approximately as bad as his, no.
- Sergio Martinez’ success story. There have been several nice pieces on new middleweight champion Martinez and how he got here. Some of them point out that a number of promoters passed on him before Lou DiBella snagged him. Considering that adviser Sampson Lewkowicz is now being featured in his own stories because of his knack for cultivating overseas talent, I bet a promoter will now think twice before turning down a Sampson fighter again. DiBella estimates Martinez likely won’t see a paycheck of less than $1 million for a long time now, and if so, good for him. He’s earned it. The question still is whether Kelly Pavlik will act on the rematch clause or if Martinez will go a different direction. His team is talking about a rematch with Antonio Margarito at 154 or a fight with Alfredo Angulo. Still not interested in watching Margarito fight, but Martinez-Angulo wouldn’t be a bad appetizer for what has become one of the most desirable fights in the sport: Paul Williams-Martinez II.
- Pavlik’s performance. There have been some insightful comments here and elsewhere about the flaws in Pavlik’s performance, and I confess I remain more impressed by his effort than not, but they’re valid points. First, per BoxingScene, Pavlik’s manager Cameron Dunkin threw the cutman under the bus for not stemming the tide of the bad gashes Pavlik suffered. The cutman, the lesser known Sid Brumback, was the choice of Pavlik and his team, and while it looked to me as a non-expert like he didn’t do a fantastic job, they were pretty bad cuts that are going to require dozens of stitches, so I don’t think all the blame goes to him. As friend of the site JB pointed out, the cuts themselves did have a terrible impact on Pavlik, and some of that speaks to Pavlik himself: He basically was done after the cuts in the 9th, and while that makes him more like most every other boxer than those who are able to fight through cuts, most of the special ones are at least able to fight at 50 or 75 percent capacity. (I’d note that Martinez deserves full credit for inflicting the cuts — it’s an advantage speed fighters have, that they slash up their opponents frequently.) Further, he did look sluggish in the fight, which surely had something to do with the speed deficit, but may also have been due to him struggling to make weight then gaining so much weight overnight. The HBO team cited that as an advantage, and it was in some ways — see: Martinez’ inability to hurt Pavlik — but it may also have been a disadvantage, as FOTS beccapooka pointed out. So all in all, I’d say all of this probably contributed, even if the real issue was that Martinez was too fast and tricky for a basically game, and smarter than expected but not quite as smart Pavlik.
- Lucian Bute’s options. When discussing the potential next fights of scintillating super middleweight Bute, I neglected a couple. tg pointed out in the comments section the attractive option of a move to light heavyweight for the winner of Chad Dawson-Jean Pascal, with a Pascal win creating as big an all-Canada fight as is conceivable. But I also neglected to mention Bute would have a mandatory title challenge coming up against the winner of Sakio Bika-Jesse Brinkley. There still remains basically nothing for him at 168, with the elite super middles tied up in Showtime’s tourney. I think if he stays in the division it’s going to be very hard for him to keep his #1 ranking by Ring magazine through 2011, because while he’s fighting the likes of Brinkley or defeating Bika for a second time, Andre Ward et al are going to be fighting the class of the division. So he can make his claim now, but keeping it is another matter. (Also, his trainer called his uppercut knockout of Edison Miranda over the weekend “the orgasm of boxing.” Whoa.)
- Other results. Scott Kraus did an excellent rundown of the Martinez-Pavlik undercard, so I recommend you read it here — I offered brief thoughts in the comments section. Dan Rafel reports that one of the men on that undercard, welterweight Mike Jones, won’t fight on the Miguel Cotto-Yuri Foreman undercard in June, with fellow junior middleweights Vanes Martirosyan and Joe Greene instead squaring off in a battle of prospects coming off shaky performances. Outside of the one upset on the Martinez-Pavlik undercard, there were no surprises in some of the lesser fights from this weekend. One of the more interesting results was middleweight prospect Fernando Guerrero stopping the usually durable Mike Walker in two rounds, although I was sad to hear about the referee letting Walker take 100 unanswered punches before stopping it. One result Rafael left out of his round-up in the link above is a junior bantamweight eliminator featuring Filipino prospect Drian Francisco. I got my first look of him below, and candidly, he strikes me as terrible. I expect he’ll be the next Filipino prospect to be knocked out once he steps up in class, and I have no idea how he got into position for an eliminator as it is. If he gets into the ring with the WBA titleholder, Vic Darchinyan, I honestly would predict a 1st round KO. Still, nice finish in the attached video.