Round And Round, Featuring What’s Next For Nonito Donaire, Canelo Alvarez, Adonis Stevenson And Others

For a couple hours, it looked like maybe Golden Boy Promotions would beat Main Events to one of the big four networks after all, and the vehicle was to be the back of that freckled, red-headed Mexican kewpie doll Canelo Alvarez. ESPN’s Dan Rafael quoted unnamed sources saying Alvarez-Josesito Lopez was “likely” to be on CBS Sept. 15, months ahead of NBC’s date with Main Events, but then a subsequent version of the story backtracked and said, no, it’s going to be on Showtime.

Where to start? Alvarez would be as good a fighter as any to feature in boxing’s long-awaited return to network TV, given his popularity, a basically exciting style and a level of talent that is a point of dispute in the boxing world but that could eventually prove legit. The match-up itself is bad, the result of multiple opponents falling through; there’s been a Spinal Tap drummer-like procession of combusting Alvarez foes for this Sept. 15 date. Lopez is as honest a pug as there is, with a pleasing, brawl-oriented demeanor in the ring and fresh off a big upset win over Victor Ortiz, but he’s spent most of his career at junior welterweight, has had one fight at welterweight and is now moving up to junior middleweight. He deserves a career-high payday, but you wonder if this isn’t a dangerous way to get it and whether plying his trade at lower weights might not have been the smarter move in the long-term.

Then there’s the fact that this fight is wading right into a multi-front war that features Golden Boy pitting this card against Top Rank, which plans a Sept. 15 middleweight clash between another popular Mexican, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., and Sergio Martinez. That fight is on HBO, which, as we discussed in Quick Jabs earlier this evening, opens a new rift in the war. This fight being on CBS at the same time another major card was airing would inevitably be a storyline for any mainstream media coverage “boxing’s return to network TV” gets, putting the sport’s dysfunction right on full display. Oh, and the dueling cards would dilute the audience for both shows, hurting ratings for the CBS show in a way that could damage the chances of a second network date for boxing and reducing the energy in the live audience that helps makes Alvarez as electric an attraction as he is.

There is some tiny bit of unmitigated good news in that the card could feature a power-punching feast with featherweights Jhonny Gonzalez and Daniel Ponce De Leon squaring off. Well, as “unmitigated good news” as this c.f. is likely to get. And I guess it’s good enough news that the fight now looks to be on Showtime rather than CBS, because it wouldn’t have been boxing’s best foot forward. Unless the unnamed sources were right the first time around. Oh, unnamed sources, how you bedevil boxing reporters.

But those aren’t the only fights in the works. There are fights for the people in the headline in the works, but also fights falling through for some folk and some talked-about match-ups worth contemplating. Let’s go Round and Round.

Round And Round

Let’s start with last weekend’s contestants. The team of super middleweight Kelly Pavlik is talking about a big fight for him in the fall, like Mikkel Kessler or Lucian Bute. Kessler, though, isn’t likely to be available if the Carl Froch rematch comes through (Pavlik’s team has also talked about wanting Froch) and Bute himself is waiting on a Froch rematch and I doubt he’ll want to disrupt the chances of that, especially with a guy who bailed out on him once already. More likely, this is just talk, and Pavlik will take something different while he waits for one of those three to become available next year. I wouldn’t favor him against any of those men at this point, and might never, but he’d probably have a better chance if he had more time to hone his best of old Kelly/best of new Kelly game under newish trainer Robert Garcia.

Junior featherweight Nonito Donaire’s deal with Jorge Arce is all but done for the fall, which means all that talk of Toshiaki Nishioka, Abner Mares or Guillermo Rigondeaux was as b.s. as I thought it was — this Arce deal had been agreed to before Donaire fought last weekend, apparently. It’s not a competitive fight, so far as I can imagine. There was a time when I understood this fight from a marketing/money standpoint, what with Arce bringing a big Mexican fan base that, over the years — thanks to Filipino idol Manny Pacquiao beating some Mexicans — has come to be interested in seeing Mexican fighters challenge Filipino fighters. But why couldn’t they have done this fight sooner? Two of Donaire’s last three fights have been against fighters completely, 100 percent unknown on U.S. soil. Why not fight Arce first, then make Donaire big enough to do well financially against just about anybody coming off that win? Top Rank really does great work when it’s on its game, but sometimes it handles fighters in a way that is totally mystifying to me, and Donaire is really high on the list of such fighters.

Sad about that mouthwatering middleweight fight on HBO in August between Gennady Golovkin and Dmitry Pirog falling apart. Pirog’s return to HBO is cursed, apparently, with a Pirog injury reportedly to blame for this latest non-Pirog appearance. The card will go on, with HBO owing a date to the other featured fighter in the doubleheader (junior middleweight Serhiy Dzinziruk, currently to face Jonathan Gonzalez) and with Golovkin maybe finding a new opponent. But one of the highlights of the summer just disappeared.

It’s not a bad thing that Marcos Maidana’s fight against Keith Thurman fell through for July 21. Maidana’s not a welterweight and nobody was demanding to see him in against Thurman anyway. Maidana apparently wants a tune-up to get acclimated to 147 pounds, so the bad news is that an all-Argentian junior welterweight power puncher match-up with Lucas Matthysse isn’t feeling very likely, either.

Golden Boy had been talking about a 154-pound tournament. Without Alvarez or Miguel Cotto, though, it’s hard to imagine others agreeing to it while they could be in the running for one of those big-money guys. Most talk of tournaments these days is empty talk. Also in the “people who want to fight Alvarez” category, Erislandy Lara-Vanes Martirosyan is back in talks, but I won’t believe that Martirosyan will take a dangerous fight until it the moment it actually happens.

Middleweight Peter Quillin is looking at facing Marco Antonio Rubio in September, meaning that Quillin is making a living of late facing opponents coming off losses. Rubio’s a reasonable enough opponent when compared with at least one other option, though. The entertaining bit of trash talk between Quillin and Ishe Smith in recent weeks belies the fact that Smith has made a career of late of talking trash against bigger-name contenders but has lost virtually every time he’s stepped up and has sat around for long periods, inactive, rather than beating the kind of competition that would earn him buzz or a resume that suggests he’d win in his next step up. Smith is a reasonably good fighter, but there’s no reason for anyone to have to fight him at this point unless they have to, and he’s not doing anything to make anyone have to. It’s gotten old. And it’s time for Quillin to fight somebody better than he has, by the way. Dude is treading water.

It’s official: Super middleweight Adonis Stevenson is boxing’s most avoided fighter. For half a second it looked like Andre Dirrell would be the one to man up and go fight the knockout artist, but that would’ve been out of character and, it turns out, it was — Dirrell slinked away muttering something about short notice, but nobody’s buying it. Don George looks to be the last refuge for the Aug. 11 date. George was reasonably competitive against Edwin Rodriguez in a loss in his last appearance, and it’s admirable that he would want to go where no one else would, but Stevenson’s opponent hunt is an indictment of the idea that getting a title belt equals an improvement in one’s financial stock. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. In Stevenson’s case, it has done anything but help him get a bigger fight, and that nobody wants to face him for the one he has suggests that the fighters in question only want a belt if it’s easy to get; if they didn’t care how hard it was because they viewed it as a golden ticket, this wouldn’t have happened.

The team of cruiserweight Lateef Kayode is targeting Danny Green next. It might be their only option to go get some overseas money, after they alienated their patron Showtime when Kayode went on a mini-“Showtime is corrupt” rant following his draw against Antonio Tarver, because Kayode’s subsequent apology might not make up for the fact that he didn’t have much reason to be on Showtime anyway.

With Rigondeaux unlikely to get Donaire, and with Rigo unlikely to get either Nishioka (he’s a potential Donaire opponent; no way Top Rank would want to pit two potential Donaire opponents against each other and spoil one of them) or Mares (he’s with Golden Boy, and Rigo is with Top Rank), Rigo could return on the Chavez-Martinez card against Roberto Marroquin. I can live with that, while we wait for Rigo to get a bigger fight. Marroquin might still have some prospect juice left in him to put up a decent fight, and he fights pretty aggressively, which could offset Rigo’s tendency to wait around for the other guy to do something before punching back.

(Round And Round sources: ESPN; BoxingScene; Twitter)

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.