Quick Jabs: The Death Of Frankie Leal; Adrien Broner Off Pay-Per-View, On Sex Tape; More

Did you see Kell Brook nearly knock out Vyacheslav Senchenko this weekend, then see Senchenko nearly drop Brook the next round, then see Brook actually knock out Senchenko in the exact same round? If you haven't, and you've got 15 minutes to spare, you can. Riveting turn of events there. Brook wants Amir Khan next, which is the perfect welterweight domestic U.K. clash. Whether it happens or not depends on how much Khan is saving himself for a date with Floyd Mayweather early next year or Robert Guerrero or something.

This edition of Quick Jabs will merge conceptually with Weekend Afterthoughts and Round And Round into a subway sandwich of boxing information and analysis. Since it's been a little while, some of the things might've happened a couple weeks ago. Open up:

Quick Jabs

Pieces like this one by Iron Mike Gallego last week about the death of Frankie Leal have given me pause about what I think of boxing as a sport, overall. What happened to Leal isn't ABOUT me or you, in the main, but what IMG and others have written says something about what we as boxing writers and/or fans should be doing about boxing deaths and whether we can be boxing fans at all given the nature of the sport. I've had to really take stock of how much I, personally, as a boxing fan and writer, was in some way to blame for Leal's death. What I decided was this, at least for now: You can indeed be a boxing fan with a conscience and not be a hypocrite. There are some very specific fingers to point in blame about what happened to Leal, not that any one of them were ultimately more to blame than any other. One of them, sadly, has to be pointed at Leal for continuing his career when he was advised not to. Another can be pointed at Zanfer for promoting any of his bouts after Top Rank, a consistent Zanfer partner, washed its hands of him. Another can be pointed at anyone who trained or managed him after the Evgeny Gradovich bout. Another can be pointed, per this thread, at the medical team on hand for the fight — perhaps. There's a reason I once thought so highly of Lou DiBella as a promoter for washing its hands of Jermain Taylor after he suffered a brain bleed and wanted to continue fighting, and there's a reason I lost so much respect for him after he rejoined with Taylor later. There's a reason I have new respect for Top Rank upon knowing that they stepped away from Leal and advised him to step away from the ring. There's a reason I won't criticize a fighter like Mike Alvarado for how he agreed with his corner that he shouldn't have continued against Ruslan Provodnikov, and there's a reason I spent so much time criticizing the likes of Roy Jones and Evander Holyfield for continuing their boxing careers well past the point where their health was at significant risk before I decided to stop giving them ink altogether in hopes that not even the curious would read about an upcoming fight and pay for it. There's a reason I rarely criticize refs for stopping fights too early. There's a reason I favor stricter drug testing. With Leal, if I feel some sense of failing it's in even knowing much about his situation prior to his death two weekends ago to warn that he shouldn't have been fighting in the bout where his life expired. It's true that the sport has some shady elements that will always make it so fighters like Leal who want to fight can be taken advantage of in jurisdictions that aren't as diligent as it should be. That doesn't make boxing inherently horrible. It's also true that sometimes even when everything happens according to best practices that boxing will take lives. The same is the case for endeavors as varied as skydiving and equestrian events. Boxing is capable of great tragedy as well as great good for the people who participate in it. That it is violent in its nature means that some risk in involved beyond the risk of sports like, say, basketball. That part, we have to accept if we are to be fans. All any of us who love boxing can do is try to change the culture of it where it needs to be changed, to speak out where speaking out is necessary. We can donate to the families of fallen fighters. Maybe it will be hard to improve boxer safety. Maybe it won't happen (although it is safer in many regards than in the past thanks to various efforts to change it). But I've never thought we should either A. just give up and walk away or B. just embrace that boxing will always be corrupt and/or lazy about fighter safety and accept the consequences; at least I've not gotten there yet…

Along those same lines, welterweight Paulie Malignaggi recently went on an epic rant about the failings of boxing writers. Some of the things he said were true. Unfortunately, he washed his hands of any responsibility despite how he now interviews fighters in his role as a broadcaster and has a platform to speak out about the ills of the sport in that same role; like it or not, he's now a "media guy." And to hear him criticize the media for thinking he lost the Adrien Broner fight when so many fans tell him he won it — well, of course they do. They're fans, who are talking to Malignaggi; they're not going to tell him how badly he lost. For as much as he became a hero for speaking out against bad boxing decisions after the Juan Diaz loss, it's pretty coincidental that the consensus (among fans and writers alike, from what I've seen) is that he lost to Broner and Pablo Cesar Cano, and he happens to have only spoken out about the Broner loss and has had nothing negative to say about getting the decision against Cano. And the guy who once criticized the negative influence of adviser Al Haymon is now working with him. If any of this scrutiny makes Malignaggi salty, don't forget, Paulie, that you wanted us to do a better job of scrutinizing the sport…

It's pretty telling that we've never gotten official numbers for the pay-per-view headlined by welterweights Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez from HBO or even Top Rank — only unsourced numbers from one reporter pegging it at 350-400,000. Maybe it did that figure. The lack of info or even duplication of the reporting of that figure tells me it probably didn't…

This one is still odd. Apparently the B sample of cruiserweight Guillermo Jones was never tested after his A sample tested positive over the summer from his bout with Denis Lebedev. And I'm wondering if it's all that fitting a thing for either man to rematch, as has been ordered by the belt outfit. Like, I'm sure Lebedev would rather keep his belt than not, but if the price is for a rematch with a man who battered him and allegedly cheated — huh? And isn't a Lebedev rematch a more lucrative option than an alleged cheater deserves?…

As expected, heavyweight Vitali Klitschko will be running for president of the Ukraine. Do we think he will "knock out corruption" if he's able to "get his opponent on the ropes" and "score a knockout blow on election day?" These and other boxing/politics phrasings await during the campaign. Best of luck to him, in all honesty. I've always liked him in the ring more than his brother, but since his comeback from injury he's been a bit more like Wlad, i.e. extra-cautious, so I won't be all that sad to see him go from boxing should he win the presidency. His inactivity and this career move at least make it so it's easier for everyone to identify Wlad as the true champion of the division…

AWE, formerly Wealth, will carry Carl Froch-George Groves on Nov. 23 in the United States, per a news release. The quality domestic super middleweight fight is perfect for the network. It slipped through the cracks at HBO because Groves wasn't the opponent they had in mind for Froch, but Froch-Groves is a big event in the U.K. and might turn into a good fight if the green Groves can deal with Froch's toughness for any stretch of time…

Weekend Afterthoughts all in one handy paragraph, unless you include the Brook paragraph above as part of that: 1. My wrongness about the Bernard Hopkins-Karo Murat main event on Showtime being A. unlikely to entertain and B. unlikely to draw fans' eyes became complete after a news release announcing it attracted a million viewers, a great number for Showtime. The network so far in 2013 claims a 23 percent increase in its boxing audience over 2012 and 62 percent from 2011. 2. CompuBox figures Hopkins landed more punches in a fight than in 12 years,a reminder of how wrong I was beforehand about what kind of action the light heavyweight attraction would deliver. Hopkins' trainer Naazim Richardson complaining about Hopkins being fouled is pretty rich, though, because it amounts to "but Hopkins never gets penalized," as if that means he isn't fouling. 3. When discussing options for middleweight Peter Quillin, I left out that a clash with Danny Jacobs would be appetizing. I think I'd prefer a Gabriel Rosado rematch first, though. The options are still thin overall, however. I also totally glossed over the whole Rosado/Gennady Golovkin glove debate/scandal because whatever, don't be complaining about it so long after the fact, Gabe, if it's legitimate, but if you're not up on it and want to be, you can read on it here. 4. Heavyweight Deontay Wilder could face Bermane Stiverne next or Chris Arreola or later, the winner of Stiverne-Arreola II. All sound a bit too early for me, based on Wilder's progress to date. I'd like to see something intermediate first. He has mentioned the name Tyson Fury, too, which figures as a better match-up for him than Stiverne or Arreola, in fact.

Round And Round

Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana is off PPV and on regular Showtime, which is a good thing for the fans, and the welterweight clash's removal from PPV shifts around the Showtime schedule in a way we'll discuss in a moment. Broner is also on a sex tape, and I regret watching the snippet I did because I've just seen far more boxers' penises at weigh-ins and on the Internet than I ever thought I would, and now I've added Broner's to the unfortunate mental catalog. Besides the sex tape distraction, Broner also was looking on the plumper side ringside this past weekend, while Maidana has been training for a while, all of which is making me think my prediction about a Maidana upset isn't as crazy as I've been led to believe.

So Dec. 14 on Showtime Broner-Maidana will be accompanied by another quality welterweight bout between Keith Thurman and Jesus Soto Karass, while the so-so/bad match-up of junior featherweight Leo Santa Cruz vs. Cesar Seda moves to this undercard. I don't mind Victor Ortiz vs. Alfonso Gomez, also at welterweight — it's better than the Shane Mosley possibility, and a more intelligent match-up for Ortiz than Carlos Molina, a junior middleweight who would've given Ortiz hell after a long layoff and at a new weight. On Dec. 7 is a less interesting welterweight main event (for me) between Zab Judah and Malignaggi, but a deeper and more consistent card. Junior middleweights Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara might produce a bit of a stinker yet I'm interested in finding out who the better man is. Devon Alexander-Shawn Porter has a similar dynamic, although Porter's aggressive style ensures it'll probably be more entertaining than Trout-Lara and Trout-Lara is between two guys at a similar point in their careers while Porter is a solid notch or more below what Alexander has accomplished. And at super middleweight Sakio Bika will be the best opponent of Anthony Dirrell's career in a bout that could go either way, action-wise.

You figure the Showtime Dec. 7 card does some damage to the card the same night planned by HBO, but the addition of James Kirkland-Glen Tapia at junior middleweight figures to bolster a deep card (junior featherweight champ Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Joseph Agbeko; middleweight Matthew Macklin vs. Willie Nelson) that lacked star pop. Kirkland and Tapia always come through with the excitement.

The Ricky Burns-Raymundo Beltran rematch at lightweight is happening in February, it looks like. It's not about belt politics or doing the right thing — promoter Eddie Hearn told me a while back that it was just the fight more likely to sell. However we got it, I'm glad it's happening. Meanwhile, welterweight Juan Manuel Marquez is wanting a Timothy Bradley rematch now. We'll see if Bradley wants it. It'll probably depend on what other options he has and how bitter the taste is in his mouth about all the post-fight whining from the Marquez camp.

Junior middleweight Canelo Alvarez will have three fights next year, he's already decided. We don't know against whom or which of them might be on PPV, although Golden Boy has been making hay about meeting with Miguel Cotto, take that Top Rank, nyah nyah nyah. Not much more to say on that. Not much more to say on anything, in fact!

(Round And Round sources: news releases; BoxingScene; RingTV; ESPN; The Scotsman)

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C., where he is a staff writer for CQ Roll Call.

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