Midweek fights in the works! A rare treat for you and me.
Besides the men in the headline, we got some YURIORKIS GAMBOA!, some Daniel Ponce De Leon and even some Jo Jo Dan. You can fall in love all over again.
Round And Round
In an unorthodox deal, heavyweight Tomasz Adamek has a deal to fight one of the Klitschko boys in September in Poland. It works out like this: If both Klitschkos lose their upcoming fights, there’s no deal; if one of them loses, Adamek faces the other; and if both win, the Klitschkos will decide which of them will fight Adamek. It should be clear that doing business with the Klitschkos can sometimes be complex, but the important thing here is that one of the few truly viable heavyweight contenders wants to fight one or both of these monsters. Adamek is a real man, plain and simple.
Which naturally brings us to David Haye. There is increasing noise overseas about whether Ruslan Chagaev can pass a physical to fight Haye as his mandatory challenger. Frank Warren, the English promoter who does a good job but usually isn’t to be trusted when discussing boxers who aren’t under his banner, suggested Alexander Povetkin as a potential opponent if Chagaev is out. It really makes a hell of a lot of sense.
YURIORKIS GAMBOA! has nailed down Jorge Solis as his featherweight opponent for March 26 on HBO. That’s a good fight in and of itself, but it gets an extra bit of shine because it compares favorably to the other opponent under discussion, Jason Lizau. Juan Manuel Lopez, the person we want to see face Gamboa, has received a challenge from Miguel Roman as his April 16 opponent. It doesn’t figure as a major challenge for Lopez but you can safely assume it would feature a lot of slugging for as long as it lasted.
Top Rank has been making plans for Miguel Cotto after his junior middleweight fight with Ricardo Mayorga and a rematch with Antonio Margarito, but few of them are attractive. One would be to move up to middleweight to face Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., who will be fighting for a belt in the division May 14 or 21 against Sebastian Zbik. So, OK, he gets a belt in a new division, but frankly it’s in a division where Cotto is ill-suited; he’s already pretty small for 154. But it would give Pacquiao a chance to fight for the middleweight belt, which appears to be part of the idea — Pacquiao-Cotto II, a fight I doubt anyone wants.
Hugo Cazares and Omar Narvaez might square off at junior bantamweight in April. That is another unreservedly good fight.
Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz are arguing over catchweights; Berto doesn’t want one and Ortiz does. I said I liked the match-up but not if we’re going to have a bunch of drama about it. Berto’s a small welter, Ortiz is a big junior welter. Just meet in the middle already.
The March 5 Boxing After Dark card is coming together, with Saul Alvarez fighting Matthew Hatton at junior middleweight and junior lightweight Andrien Broner taking on Daniel Ponce De Leon. They are basically good fights, except each is burdened by the same problem. For all the talk of Alvarez as a welterweight, it’s noteworthy that he had a welter opponent in Hatton for a fight that could have been sanctioned as a title eliminator… and the fight’s at 154. So, that should end that talk. And I like Alvarez better at 154 anyway. Likewise, De Leon is moving up in weight just after he had apparently grown into the feather division. Somewhere on the untelevised undercard, junior middleweight James Kirkland could make his return to the ring after a series of legal misadventures with guns and parole violations and such.
On March 12, HBO’s undercard for the middleweight bout between Sergio Martinez and Sergiy Dzinziruk will feature another middleweight clash pitting Andy Lee against Craig McEwen, after John Duddy’s abrupt retirement. First, a note on Duddy. I was hard on him long ago when he was being discussed as an opponent to Kelly Pavlik. But Duddy has had the kind of career I can appreciate — he was always in action fights and you got the impression he maximized his talents. If his retirement sticks, if he truly says he’s lost his passion for the sport, I answer, “Good for you for walking away, and thanks for the memories, buddy.” As for McEwen as a replacement, it’s probably a step up. There’s no Irish vs. Irish angle anymore, but there’s an Irish vs. Scottish angle. As I understand it, the rivalry there is anger over foreigners getting confused about which side wears skirts, and which accent is which.
Also on March 12, lightweight Miguel Vazquez will face Leonardo Zappavigna. Vazquez’ cleverness and awkwardness make him a minor TQBR favorite, and Zappavigna looked good in his last outing, according to our Alex McClintock, so this could be an interesting clash.
Adrian Diaconu-Chris Henry is on course for a chance at a Jean Pascal light heavyweight belt, although since the purse bid just got wrapped up the date hasn’t been set yet. I like both fighters, basically, and it figures as an action bout, but if Diaconu wins I doubt anyone wants to see Pascal-Diaconu III.
The Feb. 24 Fight Night Club is expected to feature a quality headliner. Welterweight prospect Jessie Vargas is on track to face Lanard Lane, who has upset at least one prospect. He lost to Mike Dallas, Jr. last time out, but this Fight Night Club card comes as close to living up to the promise Golden Boy had for the program as anything its ever done. It’s a ShoBox-worthy battle that could be fun to watch, too.
I love welterweight Jo Jo Dan as much as anybody, I promise. As happy as I am for him that he’ll be on ESPN2 Feb. 11, I wish his opponent wasn’t Steve Forbes, who has shown in recent fights he has hardly anything left.
ESPN2 staple Ruslan Provodnikov will try to bounce back from his first loss in a junior welterweight fight against Vyacheslav Yakovenko on Feb. 20. Yakovenko is not at all dangerous, and I wouldn’t mention his name otherwise unless… well, check out his name. Just look at it. It’s glorious.
(Round and Round sources: BoxingScene, ESPN, news releases)