It’s the heavyweights what have the most complicated situation of late when it comes to fights in the works, so let’s start with those big boys.
Round And Round
It’s hard to know even where to start. So heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, we know, will face Derek Chisora next in April — that’s set. This came about after a David Haye fight fell through yet again. There’s some excellent analysis here of why, so I’ll spare you my own recounting. (I don’t agree with every line of that story, but it’s still excellent analysis.) Then, in September, the plan is for Wladimir or Vitali to face Tomasz Adamek, in Poland, it looks like. In the interim, Adamek has a couple situations: There’s a purse bid involving Samuel Peter, and there’s been talk of Adamek facing Hasim Rahman. Haye, in the meanwhile, will go forward with a mandatory defense against Ruslan Chagaev, but it’s hard to imagine where that’ll be — would the U.K. license Chagaev, given his hepatitis (which is a plenty weird thing to type about a fight)? And big brother Klitschko will fight Odlanier Solis in March, under a reported deal.
So what’s the takeaway from all that? I don’t blame Wlad for wanting to take a bout in April, since Haye is unreliable, and waiting until July means he could be without a fight for a long, long time if Haye pulls out again. It’s disappointing that the fight fell through again, though. In no other sport but boxing could one of the most desirable match-ups be discussed for three years without happening, and if you aren’t disgusted by this, I’m not sure what would disgust you. The next best options for the Klitschkos are Adamek and Solis, so at least they’re going to be doing that business soon.
The situation for light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal has gotten very complicated. The WBC has ordered a rematch with Bernard Hopkins, but Pascal owes Chad Dawson his next fight by contract. There is an out: HBO or Showtime would have to pay a certain price — reportedly, $2 million — for Pascal-Dawson II, or both men could/would fight someone else. But really, I think Pascal would rather fight Dawson than Hopkins again, and really, I’d rather see Pascal-Dawson II first anyway. Pascal has unfinished business with both men, and Dawson came earlier. Both fights were unexpectedly good fun, so really this is a can’t-lose situation for fans, if not a difficult bit of business for Pascal to navigate.
The talk is that Sergio Martinez and Sergiy Dzinziruk is good to go for Martinez’ middleweight championship in March. Jake Donovan makes some good points here about HBO insisting on a specific opponent for Martinez. It’s not something that offends me too much — I’d rather HBO err on the side of tough match-ups for everyone than criticize them for a double-standard elsewhere, but I do think that if somebody deserves a bit of a showcase/easier fight on HBO, it’s Martinez. I’m also fine with Dzinziruk as an opponent; he’s a quality junior middleweight, and Martinez is a full-blown middleweight but not a particularly big one. I’m not sure why HBO was more interested in Dzinziruk than someone like Dmitry Pirog, but so be it. What’s unclear is whether HBO will air the John Duddy-Andy Lee fight planned for the undercard. Duddy-Lee would ensure that the show in Connecticut would sell some tickets to Irish fans traveling from nearby New York City. I wouldn’t mind seeing Duddy-Lee, but only at a low price for HBO; it could be a fun bout, but it is between some very marginal guys at this point. Also, Martinez-Dzinziruk indirectly leads to the potential for Sebastian Zbik-Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., through some sanctioning belt politics that are too tiresome to recount. Zbik-Chavez doesn’t do anything for me, so, whatever.
The IBF has ordered Ulises Solis-Luis Lazarte II, thankfully. Solis got straight ripped off in the original junior flyweight bout, so this is a bit of justice that’s been done here. Here’s hoping “Archie” gets his revenge on that bitey, fouly Lazarte cat, and since the fight is supposedly going to Mexico, Lazarte probably won’t be able to get away with that cheating crap this time.
Lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez is on track to fight Erik Morales in April. This is one of those undesirable fights that you kind of “understand,” even if you don’t approve — absent a third bout with Manny Pacquiao, Morales is the biggest-money bout out there for Marquez. It’s too bad Morales didn’t have that fight with Jorge Barrios so we could know how much Morales had left in the tank. I’d feel slightly better about Marquez-Morales if we knew there was still something left. As of now, the signs are not good.
For junior welterweight Amir Khan’s next fight, Lamont Peterson is the likely option, in April. With Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander tied up with one another, this is a passable option for Khan. On the other side, I’m glad that Peterson is getting another chance. He’s 0-1-1 in his last two bouts but he fought well and honorably in both. In other junior welterweight business, Zab Judah and Kaiser Mabuza were slated to get it on in March, but a funky situation involving Main Events winning the purse bid has left Mabuza reportedly all ticked off, so he might not take the fight. I’d almost prefer him to walk away — if he does, Victor Ortiz would step in instead. I know everyone’s down on Ortiz, and I am increasingly down on him myself, but Mabuza’s an unknown and I think Judah-Ortiz is a more entertaining bout.
After a few opponent switcheroos, it looks like lightweight Brandon Rios will face Miguel Acosta on Feb. 26. This also stacks up as an entertaining one. Acosta offers enough movement to give Rios some trouble.
Count me amongst those who don’t care about junior middleweight Miguel Cotto planning to fight Ricardo Mayorga on pay-per-view on the same March night that Martinez fights Dzinziruk. Yes, Mayorga is often fun, but he hasn’t been in a boxing ring for forever and hasn’t done anything of note in it in longer. As much as I love Cotto, I honestly think HBO would have deserved to be criticized if it had paid any substantial price for this one. The plan was to put fellow junior middleweights Yuri Foreman and Pawel Wolak on the undercard, which would bring out the Jewish and Polish fans, one would think, and wouldn’t be a bad scrap. But Foreman reportedly is cool to the idea of the fight.
Some German fighter news before we go: Middleweight titlist Felix Sturm has plans to defend his belt in March against Ron Hearns, a fight that strangely intrigues me. You do wish Sturm would fight a bigger name at middleweight, and if he doesn’t do it in his next fight, you wonder if he ever will again. He’s beaten some top-5 and top-10 contenders in recent years, but lately he’s been fighting the fringe contender types. Meanwhile, Arthur Abraham might take a tune-up fight before going into the Super Six semifinals against Andre Ward, and if anyone needs a tune-up fight, it’s Abraham, whose confidence must be shot after a couple straight losses where he got outclassed, and whose game needs to be sharpened if he’s to have any hope against Ward.
(Round and Round sources: TQBR’s Corey Erdman; Fanhouse; BoxingScene; Yahoo!; ESPN)