Round And Round, Featuring What’s Next For Nonito Donaire, Adrien Broner And Others [CLARIFIED]

That’s Bob Arum next to Oscar De La Hoya. Here’s a fun game: See if you can count how many fights discussed below won’t happen because these two can’t get along. At the end, stab yourself in the stomach with a gardening trowel that exact number of times. If you live, you are cured of being a boxing fan!

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Round And Round

ESPN’s Dan Rafael seems to think Abner Mares and Anselmo Moreno is “more likely” than Mares fighting Nonito Donaire, which is true just on the face of it because Mares-Donaire is going to be almost impossible to make due to the Oscar De La Hoya-helmed Golden Boy/Bob Arum-helmed Top Rank promoter feud. Maybe Rafael knows something more than that. All I know is that Mares doesn’t ever list Moreno first as a potential opponent. It’s too bad — Mares-Moreno is a really sexy fight. I hope I’m wrong to be skeptical. What if Mares settles in one division north of bantamweight, which would prevent us from getting a true bantamweight champion? It’d be disappointing from that standpoint, but it might also be a little dangerous for Mares. Mares turned in an excellent, all-around performance Saturday, his career best. But we don’t have any clue whether he can handle the punches of a junior featherweight, nor whether he can hurt one. The man he beat, Eric Morel, was a top flyweight and pretty good bantamweight, but he never could punch, plus this fight was at a catchweight of 120 pounds. Mares will climb my pound-for-pound list after this performance, but I don’t think he showed enough to crack the junior featherweight ranks just yet.

As for Donaire, he might yet face Cristian Mijares in June rather than the more desirable Jeffrey Mathebula, and it makes me wonder whatever happened with the long tease toward Donaire facing Toshiaki Nishioka, about the only thing that made Donaire’s move up to junior featherweight worthwhile. I fear Donaire is headed for another long stretch of facing borderline top-10 contenders or undersized opponents — first Omar Narvaez, followed by Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr., now Mathebula or Mijares, then probably after that Jorge Arce. Donaire’s career has such enormous peaks the long, long lulls are especially teeth-grinding.

Adrien Broner has a similar dynamic of enormous talent that’s not frequently enough tested, only unlike Donaire, he’s never been tested on a world-class level at all (because I don’t count an undersized Daniel Ponce De Leon moving up to 130 pounds). The fight that’s apparently all-but-done for Broner next, in May, is unforgivable: a match against Gary Sykes, who’s lost twice to Gary Buckland and hasn’t beat much of anyone else. And, reportedly, HBO was willing to approve Monty Meza Clay, which was an even more brutal mismatch on paper. I like Broner’s talent, I like his schtick, I want to see him on TV, but I don’t like him in borderline defensible bout (Jason Litzau) followed by borderline defensible bout (Eloy Perez) followed by indefensible bout (Clay or Skyes) followed by a fall borderline defensible bout (Vicente Escobedo). I LOVE the idea of him facing Orlando Salido, who says he wants the fight and would absolutely test Broner, which is maybe why Broner quickly dismissed the idea. Yeah, Salido’s moving up from featherweight, but he’s exactly the kind of guy Broner needs to face for us to see if that poor performance against De Leon was the result of Broner still growing or whether pressure fighters like Daniel and Orlando can crack open his soul and make it bleed. And Salido’s endlessly easy to root for, so if he won, that’s terrific, too. Too bad about Broner being promoted by Golden Boy and Salido being promoted by Top Rank. [CLARIFICATION: Salido is promoted by Zanfer Promotions, which works so closely with Top Rank as to often be undistinguishable from it. But if you want to give yourself only half a gardening trowel stab for this one, that’d be cool.]

Keeping track of all the opponents Robert Stieglitz was going to fight only to not fight them (usually not his fault) is tough, but Arthur Abraham is now the mandatory challenger to his super middleweight belt, and that’s a fight I can get behind. Figures to have a lot of heavy exchanges between two of the bigger names in Germany.

The WBC has ordered Vanes Martirosyan-Erislandy Lara in a junior middleweight eliminator. It’s a good fight on paper, but it’s got a few problems going for it: Vanes is all talk, no action, and he’s already saying “I’ll do it… if” and that “if” is if titleholder Saul Alvarez agrees in writing to face the winner; and Vanes is a Top Rank fighter, while Lara is a you-guessed-it. Arum said the fight is hooey because Vanes has been in so many eliminators, like four of them, and asked everyone in a RingTV story to count up the number of eliminators. Using BoxRec, I counted it up and found that Vanes had fought in one “semi-eliminator.” So, that’s 0.5. Nah, this fight won’t happen because of Top Rank/Golden Boy, not because Arum has some principled opposition to the WBC ordering Vanes into an eliminator.

Super middleweight Adonis Stevenson, coming off another big knockout, said he wants titlists Andre Ward or fellow Canadian Lucian Bute. He’s highly ranked by both sanctioning organizations. Bute’s busy for a couple fights with Carl Froch. Ward is supposed to face Anthony Dirrell but doesn’t want to, so Ward might lose the belt and Stevenson could face Dirrell instead. That’s a nice fight between two men on the periphery of the division’s top 10 who could crack the barrier with a win over the other.

Top flyweight Hernan “Tyson” Marquez is scheduled to appear on a July card headed up by Juan Manuel Marquez, but the advisers of Arden Diale apparently are in the dark about how they came to be mentioned as the expected opponent. It’ll be nice to see Tyson Marquez on the card, although hopefully it’ll be against someone really good.

The Marquez portion of the blog entry continues. Rafael Marquez just keeps chugging slowly along. He’s due to face Kenichi Yamaguchi in early May, Yamaguchi being the fellow who fought Salido ruggedly but lost one-sidedly. Marquez still has some fight in him, as he showed against Nishioka, but it’d be nice to see him chug along a little faster and fight more often.

Talented young bantamweight Leo Santa Cruz is apparently still in line for a June 2 fight against Vusi Malinga on a big Showtime card, although there was also apparently at one time the chance of some visa troubles for Vusi. “Vusi’s visa” — say it five times fast. It’s just about the right fight for Santa Cruz, so fingers crossed that it comes off without a hitch.

Speaking of De Leon, he’ll headline a fight under Golden Boy’s new deal with FSN/Fox Deportes May 4, the night before the Floyd Mayweather, Jr.-Miguel Cotto pay-per-view. He’ll fight Eduardo Lazcano, who hasn’t fought anyone of note whatsoever. The fight will be paired with the return of middleweight Ishe Smith against Garth Ennis, the same Smith who has spent the better part of the last two years talking bad about other fighters and wanting big fights but doing nothing to get them. Smith can fight, though, so it’ll be nice to have him back on the scene.

(Round And Round sources: BoxingScene; ESPN; RingTV; Fightnews; Maxboxing; news releases)

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.