Quick Jabs/Round And Round: Showtime’s New Leadership, Next For James Kirkland, More

The situation in New York with Antonio Margarito’s license sunk very quickly into catastrophe status over the span of a few days to end the week, and has veered back toward salvageable since. As it stands, Margarito might still get a license for his junior middleweight fight with Miguel Cotto, if a doctor for, for instance, the New York Rangers says his eye — the object of multiple surgeries — is satisfactory. The fight is on Dec. 3. Boxing haz a silly.

Some moved to blame the New York State Athletic Commission, and statements from Melvina Lathan that the fight should be fine to go licensing-wise did look a bit incriminating at first, except that was about Margarito’s hand wrap scandal. In September — not long after she made those statements, apparently — she said she began pestering Top Rank to get the commission some papers, and only got them on Oct. 31. Perhaps Nov. 18 was the earliest they could meet for some reason or the other, but given the proximity to the fight, maybe they could’ve moved more quickly after getting the papers, and had some better situational awareness overall.

What this should do is convince whatever segment of the boxing world out there that thinks Top Rank knows what it’s doing… that it doesn’t. Why did they wait so long to get the commission the papers for such a big fight, if the commission was asking for them? They had to know that Margarito’s physical condition was such that they would need to take extra care. You can point out that boxers are sometimes licensed at the last minute, but Margarito isn’t at all an average boxer, from a licensing standpoint. And by the way, Top Rank — like all promoters — does some things very well; maybe it even does more things well more consistently than all of them. But let’s face it: No promoter out there has a very high batting average when it comes to knowing what it’s doing. This one’s a big swing and a whiff for TR.

Maybe the fight will be in New York. Maybe that’s what officials are lobbying for in New York. That’s where the fight belongs. If it’s somewhere else, it will be a monument to the kind of monumental failures boxing is capable of achieving. (Outside the ring, anyway. The card is likely to deliver good action regardless of whether it’s in Madison Square Garden or Mississippi. Also, what keeps getting lost in this is whether Margarito should be fighting at all, with his health issue and past cheating. But why should I be any different in neglecting it?)

I’m on the verge of taking a week-long vacation from TQBR, although the rest of the team will still be in business. That means one last chance to clear the deck. There’s not much Quick Jabbing with Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez III sucking up all the news energy, and there isn’t much Round And Round because most of the fights in the works are on hold as HBO and Showtime transition to new leadership.

Quick Jabs

Stephen Espinoza is taking over as Showtime’s sports boss, per a news release. Most recently, he was the attorney for Golden Boy Promotions. Those GBP connections are analogous to when someone works for a major company then moves to a job in a federal agency where he’s in charge of decisions that could affect his old company, which is to say it’s a “revolving door” effect that should raise red flags. But red flags aren’t guilt. Some “revolving door” types have been more successful than others in doing an honest job of overseeing their old paymasters. Let’s see how Espinoza does before we write him off. Top Rank’s Bob Arum isn’t taking that approach, who thinks this means GBP will move all their fights to HBO, unless he’s just saying that because “just saying stuff” is what he does…

If you wonder why boxing judging is often so terrible, file away that Keith Kizer, the head of the Nevada State Athletic Commission — which is in charge of making sure judges do a good job, among other things — recently made these remarks: “I remember seeing one fight years ago where people still complain about it, and the guy was saying that the guy blocked most of the punches and I said yes, but [while] he blocked them with his arms and shoulders, they were still landing. Let some guy punch you as hard as you can in your upper arm a hundred times and see if it doesn’t take a toll you have to give some credit for that because it’s still a landing blow.” Unbelievable. A blocked punch isn’t a “landing blow.” It’s blocked, by definition. By that standard, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. should never, ever have won a fight on the scorecards…

You didn’t think you’d get away from this edition of Quick Jabs without some more Pacquiao-Marquez III business, did you? Strength coach Alex Ariza doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going anymore about whether Pacquiao’s recent camps have been great, or Pacquiao has been lazy, or he’s overtrained. This one was all in the same quote: “It was a great camp, though. He was very focused. There weren’t any distractions. It’s the second fight where we didn’t do what we were supposed to do, but had nothing to do with camp. He was ready for this fight”…

Also, on the undercard of that event was Joel Casamayor, who tested positive for marijuana after the fight. Casa’s story is getting sad, even if you’re tempted to make jokes about him getting the munchies and that’s why he came in overweight. Broadly, the number of boxers who test positive for marijuana is comical. Other than maybe heroin, it’s hard to imagine a drug that would be worse for boxing training than pot, which makes people want to sit on their couch and eat Cheetos, the diametrical opposite of what boxers should be doing…

Rather, I’m almost impressed that authorities found $4 million worth of cocaine on a property owned by strawweight Ivan Calderon. I can imagine the cocaine helping, maybe. Calderon says it’s not his stuff. I’m just thinking that if Calderon was a drug lord moving $4 mil worth of snow, he’s more of a badass than we ever realized…

And Ali Funeka, he tested positive for a banned drug and is set to make his return tonight after nearly two years away from the ring. I root for “Rush Hour.” He’s been more bescrewed than most boxers from the last several years…

More drugs: Oscar De La Hoya’s attorney said the latest coke-and-crossdressing accusations are false. I’m still drawing a blank on possible jokes of this nature.

Round And Round

It’s no surprise that heavyweight David Haye’s very, very recent retirement is already in talks to unretire so he can fight Vitali Klitschko. Haye only ever annoys me these days. Active heavyweight Robert Helenius has been playing opponent roulette for December, but he’s settled on Dereck Chisora. Chisora may have lost his fight to Tyson Fury but he’s still in the right zone for Helenius to get some seasoning — he’s tough and will test most anyone, even if his skill set isn’t the kind that would set Helenius up for a Klitschko fight.

James Kirkland’s team is talking about him staying at junior middleweight indefinitely, and fighting Carlos Molina. I like the idea. I know the slowish and inside-fighting Molina in some ways might be made for Kirkland, but he’s also a crafty, clever boxer, and it would be a terrific test for Kirkland to seeing if he could deal with someone with that skill set. Plus, Molina deserves a fight on HBO.

Jorge Arce in his next fight plans a temporary move down to bantamweight so he can claim yet another empty title, this one from Angky Angkota, a man he’s already defeated and who doesn’t deserve to be fighting for any title. It would give Arce a “fifth” “championship” in five divisions, a “first” for a Mexican, and at this point he and Erik Morales are just racing to the bottom to see how much phony “history” they can make. Nonito Donaire could fight Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. for the junior featherweight belt Arce is vacating; but Donaire might have to fight next on pay-per-view, because of the unsure leadership at HBO. Rico Ramos and Guillermo Rigondeaux, fighting each other next month, have talked about how unimpressed they are with each other and want Donaire. The possibility of getting that fight, I hope, will make Ramos and Rigondeaux fight in the exciting style they’re capable of, so as to advertise themselves as candidates.

Amir Khan, he’s looking at an Andre Berto or Viacheslav Senchenko upon a move to welterweight. Both work for me, assuming Berto beats Victor Ortiz in their rematch early next year. Khan might match up well with Mayweather some day, but I’ll be more convinced if I see him beat a welterweight contender first.

Coming off his big win over Luis Cruz, Juan Carlos Burgos is wanting to move back down to featherweight and take on a YURIORKIS GAMBOA! or a Juan Manuel Lopez. I wish everyone would think about sticking around 126 for a while. It’s got nothing but appealing style match-ups, and Burgos adds yet another name who could be in truly excellent fights with almost anyone. (It’s too bad Chris John won’t come back over and play, though. Instead, Australian Billy Dib is saying he wants John, about the best fight that can be made for John if he’s going to stick to Indonesia and thereabouts. But that says something, doesn’t it, about what kind of fights John can make?)

Lucian Bute’s promoter had a funny headline recently about how Carl Froch is avoiding Bute. As if Froch hasn’t been contractually obligated to the Showtime super middleweight tournament for the past few years. But I kinda got the point: Froch downplayed Bute recently, so Bute’s people say it’s evidence they hope to skip a fight with Bute afterward. I don’t buy it. Froch disses everyone, and he has always said he’d like to fight Bute, when he’s not talked negotiating-talk suggesting he’s not going to make it easy on Bute to sign the fight on his terms.

(Round And Round sources: BoxingScene, ESPN)

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.