Round And Round, Featuring What’s Next For Wladimir Klitschko, Ricky Hatton, Mercito Gesta And Others

This video-laden edition of Round And Round will feature, later on, a Mariah Carey boxing-themed video (not kidding) and not one but two Manuel Charr-related rap videos (still not kidding). But that video we began with… that’s sizzling material. The match-up promotes itself: aging middleweight king and superb talent Sergio Martinez vs. young, rising brawler Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. But the intensity both are displaying in the build-up — that’s promoting this as not just a fight but an event.

And the manic look on Chavez’s face haunts me nightly. (h/t @titanshomer)

Anyway, September’s looking flush, and not just because of Chavez-Martinez. A lot of what we’ll talk about in this edition of Round And Round is going a couple months out, including some speculation about what Manny Pacquiao might be doing with his shifted date, a rare Top Rank/Golden Boy match-up, the subjects in the headline and more. We’ll also throw out some Quick Jabs at the end, revisiting the James Kirkland saga, what’s going on with Andre Berto and (also) more. It’s a long entry, but it’s broken up by music and images and remember: Round And Round and Quick Jabs are a la carte. The idea is to get you the things you’re interested in, not to require you to read things you don’t care about at all.

Round And Round

Manny Pacquiao has moved the date for his next fight from Nov. 10 to Dec. 1. I understand the idea of moving the date it if his team is worried about the welterweight superstar for reasons related to his reelection to the Philippines Congress; I don’t get the idea of moving the date to the same date Miguel Cotto has planned for New York against TBA if they aren’t going to rematch, and most signs are that they won’t. For one, Pacquiao’s team doesn’t want to fight in New York for tax reasons, and for another Cotto is a junior middleweight now and neither side wanted to compromise on that before. Maybe it’s Pacquiao’s promoter Top Rank trying to jam up Cotto, who was with Top Rank and now is working more with rival Golden Boy? There’s also been speculation that Pacquiao moved the date in hopes of luring Floyd Mayweather into a long-delayed match-up, but Mayweather probably won’t fight again this year and there still would be all the usual barriers to the two of them fighting, namely money. Top Rank also says it is keeping the Nov. 10 date for some pay-per-view or the other, but it can’t be anybody big — Timothy Bradley-Juan Manuel Marquez might do OK business, but both of those guys are stil in the running to face Pacquiao next.

Speaking of Nov. 10: Heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko looked like he’d finalized a fall opponent in big stiff Mariusz Wach — no offense intended to Wach, who is fun, but is big and stiff and therefore a big stiff. Then the bout was in jeopardy. Now it’s back to “happening.” Wach’s team threw out the “slave contract” allegation at Klitschko’s team, something we’ve heard leveled at them before, because they wanted options on Wach’s next several fights. I don’t think there’s any doubt whatsoever that the Klitschkos are a bitch to negotiate with, and I can’t blame anyone for not enjoying it. You basically have to make a difficult choice: Do I want a career-best payday for getting my ass beat, and then maybe being obligated to them for more events later, since even if I win they’ll have rematch clauses? Wach’s team was talking about trying to become a mandatory belt challenger to Wlad, perhaps by fighting Bermane Stiverne. I wondered what had happened to Stiverne, who fought on HBO last year in one of the weirdest bits of 2011 matchmaking against Ray Austin, then essentially disappeared. The issue over contract terms was “resolved,” though, reportedly, but without any clarity as to how. Either way, as of this writing, Klitschko-Wach is “on,” which, again, no offense intended to Wach, shows how desperate the Klitschkos have gotten for opponents.

We touched on it last week, but yeah, Abner Mares vs. Anselmo Moreno could happen on Showtime on Oct. 13. It’s great news in the sense that it’s an awesome fight. It would prove me wrong, as I doubted it would happen. It’s bad news in the sense that it would compete with an HBO card featuring two other junior featherweights, Nonito Donaire and Toshiaki Nishioka, in their own awesome fight. This is how idiotic boxing is: In a 2012 where we’ve craved and gotten very few fights this sexy, naturally we’re getting two of them on the very same night — three, if you count the potentially show-stealing junior welterweight bout between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado on the HBO undercard, and I do count it.

Those two cards — Golden Boy on Showtime, Top Rank on HBO — are very much in line with the Golden Boy/Top Rank Cold War. Somehow, the Cold War is being set aside for Golden Boy’s Erislandy Lara vs. Top Rank’s Vanes Martirosyan, with both sides saying they have signed a contract for the junior middleweight clash. Ain’t nobody going to make much money off that fight, and that’s the one where they put their fighters in against each other…? There’d been some reporting suggesting that Lara-Martirosyan would happen on Nov. 10, but it’s not clear whether it’ll move with Pacquiao having moved. Also at junior middleweight, Austin Trout wants Cornelius Bundrage, but best of luck on that with Bundrage insisting on the Cottos and Mayweathers and Pacquiaos of the world.

Let’s take a music break with Mariah Carey, featuring ring announcer Joe Antonacci in a cameo. This week’s theme at TQBR, apparently, is “pop music videos of recent vintage with boxing in them.”

It feels like there’s been murmuring for weeks about a Ricky Hatton comeback, possibly against welterweight Paulie Malignaggi in a rematch. But nobody’s the wiser, really. There’s been talk it would be a two-fight comeback, one of them possibly a journeyman to warm Hatton back up for a bigger fight — Lovemore Ndou is a name thrown out there as a journeyman type Hatton might face. Malignaggi’s booked for the fall, so that rematch would have to happen later as-is. Hatton has been photographed looking skinny, which is a big deal for a fellow who’s notoriously plump between bouts. I dunno. I don’t think I need to see Hatton come back, but I’m not opposed.

The long-awaited step up for lightweight Mercito Gesta could be on deck: He would, potentially, face dangerous Miguel Vazquez. It’s another fight that’s been talked about for Nov. 10, but that was, again, before Pacquiao moved his date. I suppose you could cobble together a good top-to-bottom PPV card with relatively low expenses like Lara-Martirosyan, Gesta-Vazquez and some other fights and make, if not a pretty penny, then a not especially tarnished-looking one.

There’s also been some speculation around about what might happen with the Sept. 29 battle of little men Hernan Tyson Marquez and Brian Viloria, with fellow junior flyweight Roman Gonzalez possibly on the card. HBO already has a card booked for that date. I’d love to see this one on TV somewhere, somehow, even if it involves switching dates. Marquez-Viloria has Fight of the Year potential.

We were talking about Martinez-Chavez above, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that HBO PPV card is only about the main event — albeit a killer main event — whereas the rival Showtime card is trying to build itself up as hours of free entertainment. Martinez-Chavez lost one of its undercard bouts that wasn’t even that interesting, a junior featherweight bout between Guillermo Rigondeaux and Roberto Marroquin, due to some legal trouble involving Rigondeaux and his management. Meanwhile, the Showtime card is adding ANOTHER bout, this one semi- to fully-interesting, between bantamweights Leo Santa Cruz and Eric Morel.

There’s a Nov. 17 date on Showtime that Showtime says Golden Boy might get or that 50 Cent’s TMT Promotions might get. We just. Don’t. Know. Super middleweight Carl Froch is going to fight on that date against somebody in the U.K., but after making a big deal about the announcement his team didn’t announce against whom.

After a bit of a rebuilding, Filipino bantamweight A.J. Banal is going to fight for an alphabet belt against Pungluang Sor Singyu Oct. 20. The Thai fighter (no pun intended) has 42 wins over no one of note.

Junior lightweight Takahiro Aoh, or Ao, depending on where you read the name, says he wants to fight Takashi Uchiyama. I have no idea why this fight hasn’t happened yet. Both are Japanese, and both of them fight mainly in Japan, and they’re in the same weight class, and they should just fight. Ao has a fight in October first, though.
Roy Jones, the promoter of junior welterweight Paul Spadafora, wants his guy to fight Robert Guerrero. I wouldn’t be opposed but Guerrero just jumped to welterweight in pursuit of names like Mayweather and I doubt he’d see the value in Spadafora.

Junior featherweight Jorge Arce, recently departed from a Donaire match-up, is looking at Rogers Mtagwa next month. That makes more sense than Donaire for the aged Arce, but Arce could do better without getting out of his “range,” which should include “legitimate threats in the top 10 of the division but none of the five super-talents.” I’d rather see Arce finish his business with Jesus Rojas.

Now, before we jump into Quick Jabs, here’s this month’s cover of The Atlantic, along with a story on how the cover came to be. It’s clever.

(Round And Round sources: BoxingScene; RingTV; The Daily Mail; Philboxing)

Quick Jabs

Remember the saga of junior middleweight Jimmy Kirkland suing his promoter and manager and trainer? Turns out they sued him first, in anticipation of his own lawsuit. I guess there were obvious indicators of a feud with his team. The whole “they gave me evil, magical pills that made me suck at boxing” spiel probably was a big tip-off…

After his positive test for a banned substance, you would’ve thought welterweight Andre Berto would’ve been sidelined for more than a couple months. Not so. Apparently the California commission doesn’t care what kind of drugs you’re taking, or else they bought Berto’s “contaminated supplement” story. It’s not unbuyable, but considering so many athletes use the “Shaggy defense,” it’s not especially buyable, either. I’d love to hear from the California commission about why they felt comfortable with this decision..

Something awful unsavory about heavyweight Alexander Povetkin signing a mismatch with fat, old Hasim Rahman, then his team constantly mocking Rahman for being fat. Who do they think they’re impressing with that act?…

Johnny Tapia died not from a drug overdose but from heart disease, according to an autopsy that the boxer’s widow reportedly released this week. There’s not much more info than that in any of the stories, so I’ll take this as truth — still, one suspects the boxer’s hard-living style contributed to his death, sadly…

On Thursday a UFC card fell apart when Jon Jones turned down a fight on short notice against Chael Sonnen. Some people have read something into this about boxing — that Jones, having made more money than most, now doesn’t feel an obligation to take fights he doesn’t want, a la overpaid boxers. That’s not how I see it, based on everything I’ve read. Sure, some boxers turn down fights on short notice. But that doesn’t have much of anything to do with how much they’re paid; a lot of mid-level fighters who don’t make crazy money also turn down fights on short notice. In mixed martial arts, the UFC is still the only game in town. If the UFC decides it wants to exile Jones, he’ll have nowhere else to go. Maybe some rival organization could start up around him, but I doubt it. This is, instead, about the power structure of the respective outfits: No matter what you pay UFC fighters (and they sound underpaid to me), so long as the UFC has a monopoly, eventually those fighters will have to do what they’re told or not make any serious money, fighting off-circuit. And that’s a matter of individual choice, as always. But in boxing, you can have a falling out with one promoter or manager and get a different one, if there’s enough demand for you. Do it too many times, and you’ll be in trouble, sure, but in MMA the UFC is the sole arbiter — if you fall out too badly with them, you’re functionally done. In other words: I don’t see these two situations as being related at all…

And here are your multiple rap videos featuring Manuel Charr, a heavyweight most people probably hadn’t even heard of until he signed to fight Vitali Klitschko. Most boxers of even higher profiles would love to have even one video. Stop hogging all the hip-hop footage, Charr!

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.