Round And Round, Featuring What’s Next For Amir Khan, Alexander Povetkin, Sebastian Lujan And Others

You might be asking yourself, “What do poorly rendered wax figurines of some cast members from Seinfeld have to do with boxing?” to which I’d answer, “Don’t be so impatient. All things are explained at TQBR.” See, light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, in the next few days, will be getting a wax figure of himself made at the HQ of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Sadly, we have to wait until the week of Oct. 15 when Hopkins fights Chad Dawson to see the thing, which, truth be told, I kind of hope is as poorly-rendered as the Seinfeld wax figures because wax figures are creepy, but misshapen ones are better because they are not only creepy but funny, too. (h/t)

What does Hopkins have to do with this edition of Round and Round? Nothing, other than a little discussion of what his most recent opponent, Jean Pascal, might be up to next. Just because all things are explained at TQBR doesn’t mean they are explained in a satisfactory way.

Some of the info for this edition comes from a crack bit of reporting from our own Corey Erdman. Be on the lookout for the special Corey Erdman section of this blog post. And also be on the lookout for fights in the works involving not just Pascal and the people in the headline but Saul Alvarez, Seth Mitchell, YURIORKIS GAMBOA! and so forth.

Round And Round

Golden Boy recently laid out a multi-year plan for junior welterweight Amir Khan. First, obviously, is Zab Judah, a fight most everyone is looking forward to. Then would be Erik Morales, a fight virtually no one would be looking forward to. Then would come Kell Brook in a move up to welterweight in what would be a big fight in the U.K., a risky, interesting fight between two athletic youngsters that not coincidentally doesn’t make Khan’s own list of fights he wants over the covered period, in recent interviews. Then, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. I like the overall plan; sure, I don’t dig on the Morales idea, but I’ve always argued that not every single fight out there need be a killer. What I don’t like about it is that, usually when a fighter’s future is mapped out so far in advance, he loses track of the here and now. Khan has spent more time talking about boxers other than Judah, and whatever you think of Judah’s chances, he’s a dangerous enough puncher with speed unlike any Khan has encountered that he shouldn’t be dismissed so lightly.

With the thawing of the Golden Boy-Top Rank cold war, we’re already lined up Sept. 10 for a very appetizing featherweight clash between Top Rank’s YOURIORKIS GAMBOA! and Daniel Ponce De Leon. But the thaw also could lead to a junior welterweight fight between Lucas Matthysse and Mike Alvarado, which sounds like a slugfest and a half. And it makes various fights boxers talk about wanting more plausible. Golden Boy’s Jorge Linares, for instance, has called out Top Rank’s lightweight wrecking machine Brandon Rios. Linares figures as the kind of guy who could outbox Rios, if anyone could; Rios is exactly the kind of guy who could knock out the shaky-chinned Linares. Then again, Linares now is with Alex Ariza and Freddie Roach, two guys who have helped Khan avoid punishment for his own shaky chin and may have helped him physically be better able to handle punches. Outside the whole Golden Boy-Top Rank framework, another option for Linares is Antonio DeMarco, also an interesting fight; as for Rios, he is being called out as well by Mercito Gesta. I have no idea why anyone would want to fight Rios. Maybe I’m missing something. Bravery’s cool, though.

Another fighter poised to have a different life because of the Top Rank-Golden Boy thaw is junior middleweight Saul Alvarez, who has two opponents on his radar for a fall fight who are with TR. They are Alfonso Gomez and Vanes Martirosyan. Gomez is considered the frontrunner, but Vanes would probably kill for that fight; if he doesn’t get it, he could square off against Deandre Latimore in a meeting of guys who are right on the borderline of being actively good, but are very inconsistent. The other name in the mix for Alvarez is Ricardo Mayorga, of course. My order of preference: Martirosyan, Gomez, Mayorga. I think Martirosyan at his best is the best of those guys.

Here comes the Erdman section. All of his sources for the below information are people involved in the discussions:

–It looks as though Brian Vera-Andy Lee will be the co-feature of Sergio Martinez-Darren Barker on October 1 on HBO.

Both Jean Pascal-Tavoris Cloud and Pascal-Zsolt Erdei are on the table for December. Whoever Pascal fights, it will almost certainly be in Quebec City. The Erdei fight is a little bit farther along in negotiations, and there is the possibility that the fight could wind up on Epix. The connection of course is that Lou DiBella is an adviser for the network, so the fight has indeed been discussed.

Ronald Hearns has not yet been contacted about a fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. The one impediment to that fight is a broken hand suffered in the loss to Felix Sturm. Hearns just left therapy yesterday, and was expecting a tune-up fight first, but says he would be open to facing Chavez before the end of the year nonetheless.

Finally, there is an IBF middleweight eliminator on the table between Sam Soliman and Cory Spinks. Spinks is mulling over a move to middleweight or to remain at 154, but the fight appears close. The winner would face the winner of IBO titlist Osumanu Adama and Roman Karmazin.–

My view: I love Vera-Lee as one half of a middleweight doubleheader. I’m totally down with Pascal-Cloud or Pascal-Erdei, although maybe I like Pascal-Cloud better, and I like the fight finding a home on Epix, whichever one we get; the light heavyweight division is pretty neat right now at the top. Hearns is competing with Nobuhiro Ishida for a shot at middleweight cash cow Chavez in September, and he’s the weakest of the two opponents, but if he rehabs himself a little — physically and coming off a big loss — he could be a credible opponent for Chavez later; on the other hand, Chavez isn’t looking to get too dangerous in September. Chavez’ situation has gotten complicated because he’s thinking of this September fight Top Rank doesn’t want him to take before his November date, with Peter Manfredo Jr. the lead dog for the second bout in a race between him and Vera. And Spinks has gotten a bit more fun as he’s slowed down, so Spinks-Soliman sounds like a fight that would have some awkward action but could be a mildly entertaining — not sure where we see it, though, or if it ends up on an untelevised undercard somewhere… I think it could be an ESPN2 headliner, if not. Now, back to the non-Erdman section of this column.

It looks like hevayweight Alexander Povetkin is finally getting off his ass — or trainer Teddy Atlas is finally letting him. He’s slated to fight Ruslan Chagaev Aug. 27. Good. Povetkin’s too talented to be sitting on the shelf. Atlas was supposedly trying to keep him busy, but that hasn’t really worked out, really, has it really? More heavyweights: Seth Mitchell is looking at Mike Mollo (ick), Travis Kauffman (yes) or Michael Grant (also yes) for his HBO debut Aug. 27. Alexander Dimetrenko is set to face Michael Sprott on Sept. 24, which is mildly interesting as a fight because some think Dimitrenko can bebuilt into an opponent for the Klitschko brothers.

The super middleweight tournament finale on Showtime in the fall is a source of constant speculation as to its location. Latest in the mix for Andre Ward-Carl Froch is Los Angeles and Atlantic City. I have to think Froch won’t want L.A. since Ward is from California, while I want A.C. for purely selfish reasons, i.e., it’d be easier for me to cover on the East Coast.

Featherweight Jhonny Gonzalez has talked about wanting some GAMBOA! or some Mikey Garcia, both fights I can get behind, but instead it looks like he’ll be facing Roinet Caballero Sept. 15. I guess I can live with one more lesser fight for Gonzalez, coming off his win earlier this year over Hozumi Hasegawa.

Andre Berto-Jan Zaveck is a go for Sept. 3. This is not a fight I care about hardly at all, even with Berto going all action hero in his last bout against Victor Ortiz. Zaveck is a credible welterweight, but something tells me Berto is going to get massively overpaid for a fight that, really, isn’t worth more than a couple hundred bucks in total.

On Aug. 19, there’ll be a rematch on Friday Night Fights on ESPN2 between Ruslan Provodnikov and Mauricio Herrera, who’s gotten some wins in two close, debatable decisions of late, including against Provodnikov. They’ve both been good fights, and I suspect this one will be too.

A couple underappreciated guys are calling out everyone under the sun. Junior middleweight Carlos Molina is one of them. His team says they want Alvarez, Sergiy Dzinziruk, Cornelius Bundrage, Miguel Cotto and Austin Trout. I would take any of those fights. Mainly I want to see much more of Molina, who’s carving quite the heroic profile for himself these days by repeatedly upsetting more acclaimed fighters. The other person looking to fight the world is junior bantamweight Hugo Cazares, who mentioned Koki Kameda, Vic Darchinyan, Cristian Mijares and Tomas Rojas as people he wants. Again, I’d take any of those fights. Cazares is an action fighter pure and true and he’d make good match-ups with any of those men.

Sebastian Lujan, who’s also managed the peculiar transformation Molina mustered from borderline guy to legit guy, has said he’d like to welcome Devon Alexander to the welterweight division. As entertaining as the Alexander-Paulie Malignaggi trash talk has been, Alexander-Lujan is a better fight because Lujan will force Alexander out of his shell. Give Lujan the fight over Paulie, as far as I’m concerned.

Flyweight Luis Concepcion, coming off his Fight of the Year candidate earlier in 2011, is en route to a fight with Cesar Canchila Aug. 11. Canchila has suffered some knockout defeats after looking like a top man at 108 pounds, so he brings the right mix of respectability and lack of danger for Concepcion coming off such a draining bout.

Featherweight Orlando Salido’s pre-rematch bout with Juan Manuel Lopez has a new man in the opposite corner: Kenichi Yamaguchi. For the July 23 bout, Salido would be facing a man who’s famous for how totally and completely he was screwed by a referee in Australia while fighting Billy Dib. Dib made a show of wanting a rematch, but it never happened. It’s nice that somehow, some way, Yamaguchi is getting another shot at a meaningful bout. Salido-Yamaguchi will air on Fox Deportes.

(Round and Round sources: BoxingScene; ESPN; Corey Erdman)

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.