Quick Jabs/Round And Round: Dan Rafael And HBO, Manny Pacquiao And Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley And Amir Khan And More

We’re getting ready to unleash a hellacious amount of Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley coverage. First, let’s clear the deck of recent boxing developments, starting with some mild Pacquiao-Mosley appetizers like the video above. (I’m not a fan of Tosh.O, so I’ll be watching that episode to watch the punch connect.) And this stuff:

  • Rapper Rick Ross will be walking out with Pacquiao for the welterweight bout. And here I thought the Floyd Mayweather + 50 Cent vs. Rick Ross beef was over! Ross hanging out with Pac — Mayweather’s chief rival — will reignite it. Prepare to be called a “wanksta” anew, Rick. Although maybe this is just about Manny and Rick being part of the same Nike advertising campaign.
  • Gus Johnson and Al Bernstein will be calling the fight for Showtime. There is legitimate worry about whether Johnson calling a Pacquiao fight will make the excitable announcer’s head explode. I’m putting my money on “he’ll shout himself out by the 3rd round, then go insane and start mumbling gibberish with blown vocal chords for the rest of his life.” Bernstein, who’s awesome, will be just fine.
  • The pay-per-view bout will be made available over the Internet, in addition to the usual way. This is a pretty overlooked development, actually. This is the biggest fight ever to be available over the Internet. For those of you worried about Top Rank’s ability to deliver a quality stream, given their past struggles: Top Rank says they’re on top of it, and they’re using a different service than usual.
  • Referee Kenny Bayless is on the job. Good. He didn’t have his best night in his last pay-per-view assignment, but he’s still no worse than one of the two or three best referees in the world. The judges are Duane Ford, Dave Moretti and Glen Trowbridge.
  • Charice, from “Glee,” will sing the Philippines’ national anthem. That’ll lock up the female viewer vote.
  • Pacquiao was on Jimmy Kimmel again this past week. I included the videos down below.

Quick Jabs

FightHype kicked up some dust with this anonymously-sourced piece about ESPN’s Dan Rafael being in talks with HBO to be some kind of informal matchmaker. Rafael has studiously avoided answering questions about whether this is true. I’m more pro-Rafael than some people in the boxing world, but there are a lot of fans out there who think he shouldn’t be trusted with the keys to the HBO ship — some folk don’t think he’d do a good job, basically, because they don’t like many of his thoughts about the sport. I don’t know if he would or wouldn’t, but if the current HBO regime has had as one of its problems that promoters haven’t liked the personal touch of HBO execs, I don’t see how Rafael solves this. His reputation in many boxing circles is not as a people person. His recent back-and-forth with Shannon Briggs wasn’t great in that regard…

I spend a lot of time griping about the boxing media, but this Kevin Iole piece and this Rafael piece are excellently researched, rigorously sourced and placed in proper context. I’ll discuss the Rafael piece — about Timothy Bradley vs. Amir Khan — more later in this post, and the Iole piece about Showtime and Pacquiao in a post later today. The fairness of the HBO piece is all the more interesting given the Rafael/HBO chitter chatter. (An aside: There are a lot of good columnists among boxing writers; there are a lot of good breaking news guys. Iole does it all, and does it all extremely well)…

For a pair of this past month’s controversial Golden Boy Promotions cards, we have information on the popularity of one of them, but not the other. The Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto welterweight clash brought in 1.5 million live viewers, which is a really good number, although it was heavily aided by an HBO free preview weekend. We still don’t know officially how well the pay-per-view headlined by the Marcos Maidana-Erik Morales junior welterweight bout did, and that suggests that the number must be pretty low…

There are a few boxing types on Twitter who specialize in TMI, God bless ’em; add junior welterweight Kendall Holt to their ranks. Anytime you’re talking in public about your sister’s vagina, you’re probably in overshare territory…

I hate to keep talking about boxers’ families, but lightweight Kevin Mitchell and his mother allegedly have an interesting co-hobby: drug possession. In good news about British boxers, super middleweight Carl Froch and retired Joe Calzaghe are friends now, after years of jawing at one another…

Bantamweight Nonito Donaire did some ringside photography for 3 More Rounds over the weekend. The results look pretty good. Great stunt for both sides. Wish I’d come up with something like that myself…

Has-been Antonio Tarver recently criticized his next opponent, cruiserweight Danny Green, for only fighting has-beens. That is all.

Round And Round

So Top Rank has reportedly offered Juan Manuel Marquez a third bout against Pacquiao. It’s been offered at welter. Therefore, I’m not interested. If it was uncool for Mayweather to make Marquez move up to 144, then it’s more uncool for Pacquiao to make Marquez move up to 147. The amount offered — $5 million — suggests Golden Boy won’t be able to match, per the terms of Marquez’ free agency. So, everyone gear up for a trilogy fight that’s a bit overdue and well overweight.

Per the above Rafael piece, Bradley-Khan is now very much in doubt. Here’s a case where the HBO criticism — so reflexive and ill-thought out so often — is warranted. I don’t have a theoretical problem with having a fighter back on win or lose, or even HBO putting it in a contract; it’s not a wise policy overall, but there are times where it makes sense, such as with the Super Six or the bantamweight tournament, where a boxer is taking a particularly high risk with a fight and wants to know a loss won’t hurt his chances of getting another big bout. This is a de facto tournament, the other side of Bradley-Devon Alexander and Khan-Marcos Maidana. But guaranteeing such a high purse, as HBO did to Bradley? That has contributed to Bradley turning his nose up at only a slightly higher purse to fight Khan. Now, maybe you say that makes good business sense. But I don’t agree. Bradley is going to look like a jerkass — he does to me, anyway — by wanting to take the safe and easy approach to a paycheck when he’d talked about wanting to fight Khan. And he doesn’t have but a handful of fans in the world already. Anybody going to like him doing this? Maybe some will understand, but we want bravery in our fighters. This isn’t brave. Furthermore, he most likely will have to sit a while because of how he’s handled this situation, whereas otherwise he might have fought twice more this year, making more money. All in all, nobody comes out of this one looking good.

If you’re worried about the chances of Wladimir Klitschko vs. David Haye falling apart yet again, the news that the German and U.K. press conferences for the much-coveted heavyweight battle have been canceled can’t make you feel very great. Maybe it’s nothing. But it’s not good nothing.

And after some handwringing, the super middleweight bout between Andre Ward and Arthur Abraham May 14 is a go. There was a kerfuffle over the referees and judges, and most of it read to me like a tempest in a teapot stirred up by the Abraham crew. With the fight momentarily endangered, people were once more willing to propose pulling the plug on the Super Six. Tsk tsk. At this point, the Super Six has encountered more premature assumptions of its death than Rasputin.

Erik Morales has a variety of options for a summer comeback, and many of his potential opponents might end up fighting one another. Morales could do a rematch with junior welterweight Maidana, or else face lightweight Robert Guerrero, welterweight Matthew Hatton, lightweight Marco Antonio Barrera or junior welterweight Amir Khan. Khan might fight Guerrero if Guerrero doesn’t move up to welter for a bout with Victor Ortiz, or else he might fight junior welterweight Zab Judah. All of this is contingent on Marquez fighting Pacquiao, cuz otherwise his name gets into the mix, and on Bradley-Khan falling apart. If it was up to me, it’d go like this: Khan-Bradley; Morales-Marquez (if Pacquiao won’t go down to 140); Maidana-Judah; Ortiz-Selcuk Aydin then a rematch with Andre Berto. (Sorry, Mr. Guerrero. FWIW, I don’t have a problem with you fighting any of these guys. Maybe you can fight Matthew Hatton to prove you can be a welter, whle you wait.)

Joseph Agbeko says he’s feeling better and is ready to fight Abner Mares soon, after the winner’s bracket for the bantamweight tournament got postponed due to Agbeko collapsing. It could happen in June or July. The sooner the better.

On the undercard of Alexander-Lucas Matthysse on HBO will be Tavoris Cloud-Yusaf Mack at light heavyweight (no more than a keep-busy bout for Cloud, whom many have agitated to get back on HBO) and a weird heavyweight bout pitting heavyweight prospect/contender Robert Stiverne against journeyman Ray Austin. Not sure what to make of that last fight. Maybe HBO’s wagering Klitschko-Haye can revive interest in the big boys.

Middleweight Fernando Guerrero wlll head back to Friday Night Fights for a bout against Michael Medina. I don’t know how many more of these bouts he needs — I’d like to see him in a really meaningful bout by year’s end.

On ShoBox May 13, there are a couple nice match-ups: Featherweight Gary Russell, Jr. is in his toughest bout yet, a match-up against former semi-prospect Dat Nguyen. Also on the card, lightweight Sharif Bogere takes on veteran Raymundo Beltran. Also, heavyweight Seth Mitchell.

For those of you worried about what the career of Guillermo Jones, the cruiserweight’s messy schedule has been cleared and he’ll be fighting Ryan Coyne.

(Round and Round sources: BoxingScene; ESPN; The U.K. Telegraph; BoxingTalk; news releases)

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.