Is some Filipino restaurant capitalizing on the name of a certain Pinoy boxer? Hmmmmmmm. That never happens. (h/t friend of the site Jim, via)
Before we jump into some of the fights in the works, the lack of a Weekend Afterthoughts column has left me without a venue for elaborating on the Saul Alvarez fight on Saturday. There were lots of things said about Alvarez over the weekend, some good and some bad. I had said something good that came off as more positive than intended, and I clarified in the comments section, but it’s what other people said I want to respond to a bit. So, here are some claims from assorted fans and writers, then my views:
- Alvarez still isn’t that good. This might be true, but I think it’s more and more in doubt. Alvarez has improved in several recent fights, particularly his speed — which surpassed Ryan Rhodes’, surprisingly — and I used to be one of his biggest skeptics, so it’s not like I’m inclined to be won over. Just to reiterate my clarified assessment: When I look at the junior middleweight top 10, I see nothing but fights that Alvarez can win or that would, at least, be competitive. Would I pick Alfredo Angulo to beat Alvarez? Probably. But I think that’s a toss-up. With his improved defense, Alvarez could outbox Angulo, potentially. Same as with Kermit Cintron or Vanes Martirosyan or anyone else. Maybe I wouldn’t pick Alvarez to win, but I wouldn’t pick his opponent with any great certainty, either. And the more fights he has, the greater his chances of beating each of those men. (This all changes if you consider Sergio Martinez, the middleweight champion, a top-10 junior middle. Martinez kills the kid.)
- Alvarez isn’t a power puncher. This depends a bit on your definition of a power puncher. I don’t think he’s a pure puncher, per se. But he does put a hurtin’ on his man, as Rhodes’ face showed, and as Rhodes’ testimony afterward attested. He has shown one-punch power at times, as he did against Carlos Baldomir, but I think what he’s got going for him is a case of real strength, a tendency to connect flush, a tendency to intend harm with every single shot and a tendency to punch in combination. Those things mean he’s going to get some knockouts, or often come close. So, maybe I’d not consider him a “power puncher” in a colloquial sense, but I would say he has good power.
- The Alvarez-Rhodes fight was terrible to watch. It was one-sided, and a lack of competition is often one factor in a boring fight. But it didn’t bore me as much as it apparently did others. Alvarez fought a dynamic offensive fight. I enjoyed watching that part of the match, and I enjoyed seeing Alvarez show improvement. I’ve seen worse, anyway. And I don’t think I’d watch it again. So, not great, not terrible. Bearable, moderately worthwhile.
- Rhodes didn’t try. We may never know. It sure didn’t look like he tried. On the other hand, he was outclassed from the first moment and was getting countered and hit with a lot of heavy-looking blows. Maybe it’s what he said: He felt Alvarez’ body punching and was afraid to open up. I guess that’s a form of not trying. But Alvarez deserves credit for making him not try.
- Rhodes never was that good. Granted, his best win was over Jamie Moore, a respectable pug but no elite fighter. Yeah, he got defeated by Gary Lockett, but that was years and years ago, prior to a mini-renaissance. I don’t think Rhodes is some killer, and never did. But he figured as a formidable opponent for Alvarez to a lot of boxing scribes, myself included, and was ranked higher than Alvarez in the division. It would require a series of stretches to refuse to give Alvarez any credit for beating Rhodes Saturday night.
Maybe he’ll fight Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. one day. I really would like it sooner rather than later. Promoters for both men say they want it, and clearly it’ll need to be at middleweight or a catchweight between middle and junior middle. It’s a massive event tomorrow, but it could be diminished if one of these men loses before facing off. Make it happen, Golden Boy and Top Rank. Make this the first fight you co-promote together. I think Alvarez wins it, but I bet it’s a helluva scrap.
Now. Round and Round, featuring fights in the works for the people in the headline, and a bunch more — Andre Dirrell, Robert Guerrero, Kermit Cintron, etc. etc. etc.
Round And Round
Super middleweights Andre Ward and Carl Froch are tentatively scheduled to meet Oct. 27 in Las Vegas or New York for the Super Six finale. When people look at the excellent string of fights ahead for boxing, some of which we’ll discuss here, I think they forget about this one. It’s a major fight, totally interesting style match-up, super middleweight championship on the line, two top-10 pound-for-pound fighters (in a just world) and the conclusion of a storyline that began years ago.
If you fast forward a bit to November, you have what figures as the most all-actionest double-header of 2011, and it’s got Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry written all over it. That’s when Top Rank is looking to take Orlando Salido-Juan Manuel Lopez II and Jorge Arce-Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. II to Showtime sometime that month. Yes, yes, yes. The first meetings of these featherweights and junior featherweights, respectively, were both Fight of the Year-style bouts where the underdogs won. No way the second fights suck, right?
The other day I got a news release from the team of lightweight Robert Guerrero, arguing his pound-for-pound credentials. Guerrero team: You have my word that if Guerrero beats junior welterweight Marcos Maidana on Aug. 27 on HBO that he’ll have my vote for top-20 status. That’s a real intriguing fight where Guerrero’s moving up to face one of boxing’s biggest punchers, and it could degenerate into a slugfest against the purer-boxing Guerrero’s wishes, because that’s what happens with every Maidana fight. I vote “yes” here, too.
Martinez-Darren Barker on Oct. 1 is a bit of a backward step compared to these other fights, but it’s not like Martinez had many other options, either. Barker’s about as passable an opponent as could be found for that date. Interestingly, the WBC is saying Chavez, Jr. has one more bout before he has to face Martinez, whose belt became available to Chavez only because Martinez took the HBO exposure over the Sebastian Zbik mandatory defense. Wanna bet that the WBC goes back on that vow, or else Chavez ditches the belt? Chavez, despite the Martinez and Alvarez talk, is still on track to face Peter Manfredo, Jr., probably at the Alamodome in Texas, although Brian Vera has offered his services if that falls through, and it’s roughly the same caliber opponent. The bout is now most likely to happen Nov. 17.
A secondary but still worthwhile super middleweight bout between Lucian Bute and Mikkel Kessler ain’t happening because, basically, both men can make too much money fighting lesser opponents in their home countries, which is the downside of ticket sellers — often, they don’t feel compelled to take the biggest challenges. So instead, Kessler plans to fight Robert Stieglitz, a fight that isn’t worthy of HBO or Showtime, in my view. Take that Danish TV money, if it’s so important to you, Mr. Kessler. Meanwhile, Bute is likely to end up fighting Kelly Pavlik, about as good a fight as he can get sans Super Six winner or Kessler. That Top Rank is willing to make that fight happen says to me that they’re going all-in with Pavlik, a la what Golden Boy did with Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto.
Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito II at junior middleweight is by all accounts headed for Dec. 3 in New York City. Didja hear that Margarito was hanging out with Javier Capetillo in Mexico over the weekend, yukking it up? And we all remember that he was doing the same thing shortly after the pair got busted with loaded gloves, right? And naturally we all remember Margarito’s testimony in California that he’d severed ties with Capetillo over the whole affair. At this point, to believe Margarito wasn’t lying in his testimony, you’d have to willfully decide that A. Margarito only decided to break off ties with Capetillo after he slowly realized Capetillo was a cheater and B. There was a long period where they were unaffiliated, but now they’ve made up for some reason or the other. It’s remarkable, how willing people are to believe Margarito for no reasonable reason I can discern.
Cintron could figure as an opponent for welterweight Mike Jones at some point, says Top Rank. I like that fight. Two long boxer-punchers. Jo Jo Dan has been trying to get some Jones, or some Shawn Porter, or some Joel Julio, to no avail. I want Dan to get one of those fights. Julio-Antwone Smith is back on, by the way, although it’s sadly on the untelevised undercard of Amir Khan-Zab Judah due July 23. (Also on that card: middleweight Peter Quillin vs. Tarvis Simms, a decent bout. Also off that card: lightweight Lamont Peterson vs. Victor Cayo, the most on-again/off-again fight of 2011, although it could be back on-again because of a purse bid. Also off that card: Ashley Theophane wasn’t interested in facing junior welterweight prospect Jesse Vargas, cuz Theophane wants a big fight that he doesn’t exactly deserve quite yet.)
It’s a total mystery what deposed light heavyweight king Jean Pascal will do next; he’s been rumored to be in talks with nearly everyone only for his team to deny it and say “but we’re open to it,” the latest being Zsolt Erdei. I’d most like Pascal-Tavoris Cloud, but Pascal-Erdei works for me, too.
Cruiserweight Troy Ross might want a rematch with Steve Cunningham, but it appears more likely that he fights Lateef Kayode in August. Mainly he just needs to get back in there against a top opponent. Either of those men would do.
There’s a bit of a trash-talking war going on between Allan Green and Andre Dirrell, after some remarks made about Dirrell quitting the Super Six tournament on Fight Camp 360. This would have some of the same cachet as Ortiz-Berto in that everyone would be rooting for both men to lose. But they’re also both physically talented boxers with head problems, and as much as the fight doesn’t interest me as an expenditure for HBO or Showtime, I’d watch it with some small measure of morbid curiosity.
Flyweight Hernan Marquez was gonna battle Rodel Mayol July 2 but now will battle another Filipino opponent, Edrin Dapudong. I preferred Marquez-Mayol. Mainly because I don’t want to have to keep spelling Dapudong.
Assuming Austin Trout isn’t suspended for alleged marijuana use, he could be facing Anthony Mundine next at junior middleweight. Mundine taking a couple potentially difficult bouts in a row? Noooo.
After lightweight Michael Katsidis takes an easy return bout in Australia against Michael Lozada at 140 pounds on Aug. 13, he’ll shoot for a bout with Erik Morales. That sounds like a great high-contact affair between two generations of warriors.
I got nothing but love for Kevin Mitchell and John Murray wanting to fight lightweight Brandon Rios after fighting one another. I don’t hear a ton of people calling out Rios.
There was some freaking out in some quarters about Edison Miranda-Yordanis Despaigne as some kind of hideous Friday Night Fights replacement main event July 29. It’s not any bout I dream about or care about or even look forward to, but as replacement FNF main events go, you could do worse than this light heavyweight crossroads match-up.
(Round and Round sources: ESPN, BoxingScene, Boxing Tribune, various Twitter accounts, news releases)