Some folk are kinda excited about the early 2012 boxing schedule, but it’s not doing much for me yet. I’m down with Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto doing a welterweight rematch [UPDATE: Berto was reportedly badly injured in camp and the fight is now likely off, so that sucks], and James Kirkland vs. Carlos Molina could be a fun junior middleweight scrap, but there aren’t any matches where I look at them and get me to howling and panting and whimpering like a dog aching to be fed. Me, I’m more like “NONONONO Cat.” And while there are some other decent scraps besides those two that are either signed or being talked about, it’s hard for me to get too excited about “decent.”
Let us consider some of them.
Round And Round
With Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao once more off the near-term agenda — like it ever really was there! — talk has naturally turned to what boxing’s two biggest stars and two best fighters are up to next, so let’s get it out of the way, as tiresome as it is. Miguel Cotto doesn’t want to move down to welterweight for a rematch with Pacquiao, and Pacquiao doesn’t want to move up to junior middleweight, and all of this makes me happy because I have zero interest in Pacquiao-Cotto II. Cotto, then, could be next for Mayweather in May, even though Mayweather dismissed Cotto as Pacquiao’s “leftovers,” because unlike Pacquiao, Mayweather is cool with moving up in weight if need be. That’s a more interesting fight to me than Pacquiao-Cotto II, anyway, even if it kind of fits into Mayweather’s M.O. of taking on top-notch guys when they’re a little past their ideal weight/age/whatever, because at least we haven’t seen it before and Cotto has always had a style that theoretically could bother Mayweather a little, however unlikely it would be for theory to become reality. Cotto, of course, has other options. It could be Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., at middleweight, or it could be Saul Alvarez at junior middleweight. Alvarez also could be in the mix for Mayweather, still. I’m most interested in Chavez-Alvarez, which appears increasingly unlikely due to the Top Rank/Golden Boy promoter food fight, but Cotto-Alvarez or Cotto-Chavez still sound good to me.
Pacquiao, meanwhile, is moving closer to a fight with junior welterweight Timothy Bradley in June. Top Rank was going to build head-buttin’ Bradley into a star somehow before it made that fight, but competitively speaking, Pacquiao-Bradley is a decent enough option. Then the idea would be for old Pacquiao rival Juan Manuel Marquez to face Lamont Peterson at 140 pounds with Peterson coming off the biggest win of his career over Amir Khan, and for the winner of Marquez-Peterson to face the winner of Pacquiao-Bradley. It’s not a bad mini-tournament, really, but it’s not as good as any of the best options available for either man, namely, Pacquiao-Mayweather followed by Pacquiao-Marquez IV; Peterson-Khan II; and Bradley-somebody, because Bradley isn’t a fighter I care about much right now.
As for Khan, if he doesn’t fight Peterson he might fight Shane Mosley in the spring. Or Alvarez might fight Mosley, if Khan doesn’t. Ugh. Old man Mosley got to go. He got. to. go. He would be easy pickings for either man, and he’d just stand around not pulling the trigger the whole time. Oh, and Chavez, he might fight Antonio Margarito next. Getdafuggouddaheah. That’s a crap fight and a one-sided beatdown and this is one reason why I’m feeling like NONONONO Cat.
Oh, and this, but less annoying: Chad Dawson-Bernard Hopkins II is a go for April 28. Now, that first fight was ugly for a round and a half and ended ugly with that technical knockout and then all the weirdness about who deserved the light heavyweight championship belt and eventually Hopkins ended up being the man who deserved to hold it after the fight was turned into a no contest. And there’s no chance this fight is going to be some kind of great action fight; the styles don’t match up that way. But at least Dawson-Hopkins II — unlke Alvarez-Mosley or Chavez-Margarito — has a “what would happen if they fought to the end?” question to animate it, and it’s a fight that is about something because both men are so good. This gets two NONOs rather than the full four because of that. It might go down to a single NO if we find out HBO is paying next to nothing for it (which would ennoble both men for taking a fight worth less money just to settle the score), and if it’s paired with a nice undercard fight. Early talk was of Antonio DeMarco-Michael Katsidis at lightweight, which might have kind of sort of done the trick, but DeMarco apparently wants to do something else, so we might get another glimpse of heavyweight Seth Mitchell, who’s fun to watch but I’d like to see him matched against a live body before I can get on board.
I’m already on record with not liking the idea of YURIORKIS GAMBOA! moving up to lightweight to face Brandon Rios, and after some talk of interim fights, now the idea seems to be to go directly to that fight in April. That one gets a single NO because at least there’s an intriguing style match-up. I know some people think Gamboa will box circles around Rios, but nobody else has been able to do it, and Gamboa is way, way smaller than Rios.
Here’s one I’d love, though, now that I think about it: There’sreportedly been some exploration of a fight between light heavyweights Jean Pascal and Ismayl Sillakh. “YESYESYESYES” all the way on that one. Pascal and Sillakh both have appealing styles and there’s a “youngish veteran/young pup” dynamic that’s cool, too. Showtime is said to be interested.
Here’s another pretty good one, actually: Edwin Rodriguez-Don George at 168, March 17, on the undercard of Sergio Martinez-Matthew Macklin (for Martinez’ middleweight championship). Figures as a slugfest. Middleweight Andy Lee is off the card cuz he’s probably gonna go fight Felix Sturm on Easter, a fight that figures to be pretty dangerous for Felix based on each man’s respective recent performances.
And one more: Heavyweight Tomasz Adamek says HBO is interested in a rematch with Chris Arreola. First one was good and close. I like the idea of another.
Featherweight Mikey Garcia, I guess he’ll stay busy for a bit, because the plan is for him to fight March 10 against Bernabe Concepcion, who once was a quality contender but mainly loses a lot now. He’s still a vet and a dangerous puncher, so it’s some experience for Garcia, but I was hoping Garcia would be making a big jump up in competition sooner rather than later, and it’s now feeling like later. It would air on Showtime on the undercard of Orlando Salido-Juan Manuel Lopez II, so if there’s any other value to it it’s that it would go toward building Garcia as the one to face the winner of that bout.
Flyweight champ Pongsaklek Wonjongkam is facing shopworn Sonny Boy Jaro March 2, which is a mismatch but one of higher quality than Pong’s usual mismatches against men with only a handful of pro fights. If Pong wants to stay busy, I’d rather him stay busy against this type than the other. In the same division, Giovani Segura wants a rematch with Brian Viloria. Good for him for wanting it, but bad for us (and him) if we get it. The first fight was pretty conclusive and didn’t speak well to the notion that Segura would be very good at flyweight.
Union Boxing loves bidding too high on fights during purse bids, so naturally they overbid for the welterweight title bout between Vyacheslav Senchenko and Paulie Malignaggi, and naturally Paulie doesn’t want the fight if he has to go overseas for it. You could’ve seen this one coming a million miles away.
Martin Murray’s promoter (Ricky Hatton) says Darren Barker’s promoter (Eddie Hearn) turned down a big money offer for what would be a very big British middleweight bout. Let’s hope they still find a way to get this one done. Also at middleweight: Ishe Smith, who recently parted ways with promoter Lou DiBella in search of bigger fights, is apparently ending up with Kassim Ouma on March 29, not a big or even good fight at all, given Ouma’s decline; and Avtandil Khurtsidze has been ordered by one of the sanctioning outfits to face Domenico Spada, which I only mention for the sake of being a completist.
If he can’t get a big fight, junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse is at least going to stay busy, which is what he’s doing against Silvero Ortiz Feb. 2. But Matthysse isn’t the kind of fighter who should be waiting for a big fight — HBO, Showtime, somebody, get this guy back on the air, because he’s fun and good.
(Round and Round: BoxingScene; ESPN; Fightnews; RingTV; news releases)