When I was a kid, the movie “Mandingo” scarred me. Today the flick is regarded as pure filth, in part because of scenes like the one above, where during a slave fight one slave kills the other by ripping his jugular out with his teeth. Recently, I stumbled upon a fact that I wasn’t aware of: Ken Norton is in that movie, and in that scene, something I wouldn’t have recognized at the time because I didn’t follow boxing yet.
That doesn’t have anything to do with anything we’re going to talk about in this edition of Round and Round, where we examine fights in the works. At least I hope it doesn’t. I like boxing, and boxers; I don’t like real-life jugular rips. The boxers in this edition include the men in the headline, as well as Antonio DeMarco, Randall Bailey, Cris Arreola, Erislady Lara and others. (Norton, by the way, had a little acting career I didn’t know about at all, with scenes in “A-Team” and “Knight Rider” and a near-appearance in “Rocky.”)
Round And Round
Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler are talking about a super middleweight rematch in Nottingham in the fall, and I’m all for it. There was a chance that Froch would take a softer fight after his win over Lucian Bute, which would have been excusable, but he’s doubling down on manliness if he goes right to Kessler. I love Carl Froch.
Attempts to get middleweight Dmitry Pirog into a fight on HBO for the first time since his big upset of Daniel Jacobs have previously fallen through for whatever reason, with a Daniel Geale fight falling through not long ago, but we’re currently in line for an even better fight featuring Pirog against Gennady Golovkin in August. We’ll find out if Golovkin is real, and if Pirog is more than a one-hit wonder.
It’s not been easy getting Nonito Donaire’s latest HBO appearance lined up, either, but the junior featherweight is now pretty solid July 7 against Jeffrey Mathebula. It’s his undercard that’s been a bit of a bitch lately. Junior welterweight Brandon Rios has pulled out of his fight against Mauricio Herrera, ostensibly because of an injury but perhaps because of rumors he’s way overweight. That bumps up super middleweight Kelly Pavlik against Will Rosinsky, a smart bout on Pavlik’s path to career recovery, as Rosinsky is a definite step up from recent opposition and deserves a TV date after nearly beating Edwin Rodriguez, but it’s a less than ideal supporting bout.
There was a chance that if Celestino Caballero’s featherweight bout against Mikey Garcia fell through, Garcia would’ve faced Orlando Salido instead. I’d take either of those bouts with glee. Right now Caballero-Garcia looks like the fight, based on current machinations about the fight being held in Las Vegas and not on TeleFutura, in September.
Antonio DeMarco and John Molina (lightweight) are the ideal contrast on the HBO undercard to Andre Ward and Chad Dawson (super middleweight) in September. Some fights are important, but boring; some fights are exciting, but unimportant. There’s room for both. DeMarco-Molina figures as an exciting fight, with a touch of importance, as DeMarco is probably the top man at 135 and Molina is on the periphery of the top 10.
Legendary light heavyweight Bernard Hopkins might’ve suffered his first definitive loss in years against Dawson last time out, but I can absolutely see him beating the likes of Beibut Shumenov, as he’s talking about doing next. I can’t say I’d want HBO or Showtime to pay much for it, but I would watch it.
Adrien Broner-Vicente Escobedo is a go at junior lightweight next month, a decent but not particularly compelling fight. The weird one on that card is Marcos Maidana-Keith Thurman at welterweight. Thurman is an Al Haymon client, and it’s hard to figure how he is getting on HBO otherwise, as he has zero resume. Maidana wasn’t effective at welterweight in his last fight and I don’t see that changing, so oddly enough that becomes a fight that has the teensiest bit of intrigue competitively, but it’s not the right kind of intrigue.
The aforementioned Rodriguez, like almost everyone, will be avoiding power punching super middleweight Adonis Stevenson, which just goes to show that boxers don’t care so much about belts that they’ll fight someone they aren’t interested in fighting for the honor. He’s currently said to be fighting in September on HBO2 against Jason Escalera, a bit of a nothing fight which would be accompanied by Luis Orlando Del Valle vs. Vic Darchinyan, which might otherwise interest me more except that Darchinyan is moving up to junior featherweight for the fight and was already less effective at bantamweight than in previous divisions.
Fresh off his big win, welterweight mega-puncher Randall Bailey is doing the dance of “let’s fight each other” with Devon Alexander, which sounds interesting enough to me. Bailey was supposed to be next in line for the winner of Kell Brook vs. Carson Jones, also interesting, but the Brook-Jones winner is now booked by the sanctioning gang to fight Hector David Saldivia, for what can be no good reason whatsoever.
Rafael Marquez just can’t stop fighting people named Vazquez, as his famed four-fight sequence against Israel Vazquez showed. The junior featherweight bout against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (no relation) now sounds pretty solid for August, and it’d be great if some television network would pick it up.
At the end of this month, Erislandy Lara is going to fight Freddy Hernandez at junior middleweight on Showtime. I’m pro-Lara. I’m not even anti-Hernandez, whose showdown with Andre Berto I defended as legit at the time. This fight makes no sense to me, even with Hernandez having rebounded with a win over Luis Collazo. It’s on the undercard of the Cornelius Bundrage-Cory Spinks rematch in the main event, another fight that is less than ideal. And the featherweight undercard bout that was to feature Gary Russell, Jr.-Luis Franco fell through because of Russell, whose career is a neverending font of frustration.
Heavyweight Chris Arreola was going to fight Mike Mollo on Showtime next weekend, a fight for which there was zero demand, but Arreola has pulled out with an injury, which suits me just fine. Fellow American heavyweight Seth Mitchell also is out of his own fight next month against Johnathon Banks, which doesn’t bother me, either. And in heavyweight news across the pond, Tyson Fury is booked to face Vinny Maddalone next month in another instance of a young heavy taking a fight that interests no one.
It wasn’t a bad scrap the first time around, so if ESPN2 wants to pick up the middleweight rematch between Bryan Vera and Sergio Morain August, that would be A-OK with me.
The Denis Lebedev-Guillermo Jones cruiserweight bout that would be a pretty good one hit a hitch when Jones’ request for tuneup via the sanctioning org in question was rejected, but they still have until the end of the month to make a deal. I hope they do.
Arthur Abraham probably isn’t really a super middleweight, but if he’s going to stay in the division, and all-German battle in August, as appears to be the plan, makes sense for both men. Stieglitz could get a big “name” with that win, and Abraham isn’t taking on the kind of talent that made him look bad in the Super Six tournament.
(Round And Round sources: BoxingScene; RingTV; ESPN; Maxboxing; BBC)