Assassin's Creed video game + Apollo Creed from Rocky = Apollo's Creed. (h/t Ramon Aranda)
Are you ready for some rematches? Good, because you're going to get a lot of them, although not all of them. One of them you might get is, no lie, Mercito Gesta-Miguel Vazquez II. Gesta, you see, is in a lightweight title eliminator against the ultra-deserving Ameth Diaz (#sarcasm) for the belt held by his old friend Vazquez, and I have to assume they are friends because they so politely refused to hit one another the first time around. When the small cadre of writers who insist that the sanctioning gang is a good thing for the sport explain how the belts ensure good fights get made, they conveniently leave out the fact that they're equally (if not more) responsible for horrible, horrible fights getting made. Cherry-picking is fun and easy.
We'll start with the fallout from a few fights falling apart (Nonito Donaire-Abner Mares, I'm looking at you) then move on to the bevvy of rematches plus what's next for the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Steve Cunningham, Amir Khan, Timothy Bradley and others.
Round And Round
Top junior welterweight Danny Garcia won't be facing Zab Judah this month — he instead will do so in April — and it would be understating matters to say that his claim of a rib injury (and photo of it) didn't win him the benefit of the doubt from many fans. Because there were "rumors" he was out of shape, and because DeMarcus Corley had said it was a thumb injury instead, opinions cemented on Twitter pretty quickly that it wans't legit. There was a kind of loose conspiracy theory/line of joking/something that Lucas Matthysse's knockout of Mike Dallas scared Garcia so much that he delayed the Judah fight…? I don't quite get the theory. I don't question that Garcia would be willing to fight Matthysse, as he said he would, especially for the right kind of cash; I do question whether Golden Boy wants that for him, and if anyone's being chicken it's them. Alternately, they recognize that Matthysse might be legitimate hardcore fan interest in seeing Garcia-Matthysse, Matthysse offers a higher risk than reward for Garcia, who can take easier fights for more money and they can milk both guys until the risk and reward work out for the best. P.S. I would probably pick Garcia to win, right now. I love Matthyssee as much as anyone, and Matthysse can punch enough to threaten ANYBODY, but while he won the Judah and Devon Alexander fights on my card, they were close, and Garcia's better in most every way than the versions of those two men he fought, by my eye. If the fight's near Garcia's turf of Philly, wouldn't be surprised to see the judges give a close fight to Garcia.
The latest and perhaps worst casualty of the Top Rank-Golden Boy feud is Abner Mares vs. Nonito Donaire not happening, as both sides have moved on to other things. For as much as people picked apart the contract offer from Golden Boy — and there were flaws, sure — one gets the impression that Top Rank et al would've found something to dislike about ANYTHING Golden Boy put forward. Donaire, too, is complicit; I think he's come around to viewing Top Rank as handling him well, and as he's making good money and is coming off a "Fighter of the Year" campaign, he's not without justification in that position. But it's too bad the guy who used to be publicly mad at his promoters for not getting him top competition apparently isn't really interested in that anymore, if he ever was. Now, Donaire fighting Guillermo Rigondeaux, the #1 junior featherweight in the Transnational Boxing Rankings, that's not a bad April fight at all. But Mares is the better pound-for-pound fighter, and offers a much better style match-up; Donaire-Rigondeaux is a meeting of two counterpunchers, while Donaire-Mares has action written all over it. Also, Mares is moving up to featherweight for reasons I don't totally understand, and I don't know if he'll be successful there; he still hasn't faced a proper junior featherweight, even. He's also not looking at easing in — he's talking about trying to face the winner of Daniel Ponce De Leon and Jayson Velez. Meanwhile, Victor Terrazas could face Cristian Mijares for the alphabet belt Mares is abandoning.
The best rematch of the rematch trend is Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado II, with the junior welterweight do-over booked for March. I know some folk think the first bout ended so conclusively that we don't need another, but it was a close bout prior to the ending and provided plenty of action until then, plus the referee made a borderline call on the stoppage rather than Alvarado getting knocked clean out or anything. One of the undercard bouts could be a junior welterweight bout between Khabib Allakhverdiev vs. Karim Mayfield, a decent accompaniment.
HBO might buy a split site double-header of rematches in May, both good: Mikkel Kessler-Carl Froch II in London at super middleweight, and Jean Pascal-Chad Dawson II in Montreal at light heavyweight. I haven't seen anybody complain about Kessler-Froch, but some folk don't like Dawson getting back on TV again. I'd remind them that Pascal-Dawson I was a pretty solid fight, and haven't seen any reviews to the contrary.
Ah, but Erislandy Lara-Vanes Martirosyan II is the rematch that is off. I doubt anyone's really mourning that one. I would've been OK with it, but it's worth noting that the first junior middleweight tilt did the worst ratings of any single fight on HBO last year, per our friend Matthew Paras. Top Rank said it wasn't interested (although they did bid on the fight and got outbid by rival Golden Boy), partly, and Maritrosyan wasn't healed from the cut, partly. This quote from Top Rank's Carl Moretti in Dan Rafael's story was instructive on the issue of the bout's title eliminator status, and the quip at the end of it amused me: "And what are we fighting for? We all know that it's supposed to be [Floyd] Mayweather against Canelo [Alvarez] in September, so what are we eliminating to? It's like being in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere."
Heavyweight Steve Cunningham got screwed out of a win in his last fight, but at least he's not going to be relegated to the bench over it: He's the opponent booked for the U.S. debut of Tyson Fury in April. That's a very nice little scrap — Cunningham is crafty and Fury's fun, and it's a legitimate step up for the delightfully loud-mouthed Brit.
Speaking of mouthy Brits — Amir Khan continues to search for his next opponent, with Vyacheslav Senchenko out of the mix after turning down a catchweight between Khan's junior welterweight and his welterweight. Pablo Cesar Cano could be the April foe in the end, although I'd note that he failed to make weight in his last fight, a welterweight bout. I'm fine-ish with Khan-Cano. Both are coming off losses, but both generally entertain.
Middleweight Gennady Golovkin has settled on his next opponent, it would seem, and it's Nobuhiro Ishida, who's making quite a living off his one upset victory over James Kirkland. Golovkin-Ishida isn't a bout that interests anyone, and it's really just a stay-busy bout in Europe while he waits for his next HBO date. If Golovkin plans to stay very busy in 2012, like four fights or so (which is very busy by modern standards for contenders) then I'm fine with Golovkin-Ishida. It just isn't a fight I care to see. They're talking about doing a light heavyweight tournament to accompany the Golovkin bout, with Zsolt Erdei-Denis Grachev and upward moving super middleweight Edwin Rodriguez facing Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna in the first leg of the mini-tourney. I don't see those guys having anything big going on otherwise, so why not?
Juan Manuel Lopez said he wants to fight Mikey Garcia at 130 pounds. If I'm Garcia, even if I'm a committed featherweight, I take that offer — JuanMa is as big-money a bout as he'll find, plus he's supremely vulnerable.
Timothy Bradley-Yuriorkis Gamboa isn't going to happen, thank goodness, because Gamboa's junior lightweight ass ain't ready for a welterweight. Bradley's next opponent, in March, will apparently be Ruslan Provodnikov. Bradley's career annoys the piss out of me. Bradley-Provodnikov is semi-defensible as a stay-busy fight, but unlike Golovkin, there's no evidence he will be busier than his current pace of one bout approximately ever year.
Vyacheslav Glazkov, coming off an impressive win over Tor Hamer, wants to fight Magomed Abdusalamov after a date this month against Malik Scott. If he makes it past Scott — I wouldn't take it as a given — then that's a decent action fight, and about right for Glazkov's development.
Luis Carlos Abregu vs. Antonin Decarie might accompany Sergio Martinez vs. Martin Murray down in Argentina in April. I'd be OK with that welterweight bout slipping on to the broadcast — Abregu's always a good time.
Strike another blow against homophobia in boxing! Featherweight Javier Fortuna's team sought out a bout against openly gay Orlando Cruz, although they said they never heard back from Cruz. Still, there was some fear he'd be shunned once he came out. Instead, he's actually in demand — which, in retrospect, makes sense, what with boxing always looking for a "hook" to promote about and Cruz's name getting a lot of mainstream ink because of his homosexuality.
(Round And Round sources: BoxingScene; ESPN; Maxboxing; World Boxing News)