Spooky. Either Top Rank is listening to me, or I'm beginning to think like that promotional company, because here's a series of fights I recently suggested: Manny Pacquiao-Mike Alvarado; Juan Manuel Marquez-Timothy Bradley; and Brandon Rios-Ruslan Provodnikov. Two of the three, both at welterweight, now appear very likely — Pacquiao-Alvarado for October or November, and Marquez-Bradley for September. Alternately, it's a total coincidence. But I stand by the sequence, because each fight is well-matched. Pacquiao would be fighting a reasonably dangerous yet upward-moving junior welterweight, a straight-ahead fighter who could present him a good opportunity to show off his speed and movement without it being a cakewalk in his comeback from the KO loss to Marquez; Marquez-Bradley is a nice meeting of boxer-punchers who have become action fighters, too. Now give us Rios-Provodnikov at 140 — which would be the purest action fight of the trio — and make me look like a super-genius, Top Rank.
Those aren't the only fights in the works, though, of course. We've got the men in the headline, as well as what's next for some of the biggest of the big names in the sport, like Floyd Mayweather, Canelo Alvarez, Nonito Donaire, Wladimir Klitschko and others.
Round And Round
The aforementioned Marquez-Bradley bout could conflict with the same date Golden Boy wants to stage a fight in Nevada, which might be for Mayweather, or might be for Alvarez, or might be for Mayweather-Alvarez. Alvarez is convinced it is for him, whether he faces Mayweather or not; Mayweather says he isn't taking any "ultimatums" about who he'll fight next, and one hopes that he won't indefinitely dangle the possibility of a Canelo fight out there a la Eric Raskin's theory here about how the prospect of a Mayweather-Pacquiao clash helped both men's pay-per-view buy rates. If I'm Mayweather, I fight Alvarez next because he still has holes in his game and is developing fight-to-fight, while I'm just getting older. Alvarez might instead face Miguel Cotto, which I'm more OK with now than I would've been if he had fought Cotto before beating Cotto's conqueror, Austin Trout, and that task is complete. Alvarez does not see the "need" for a Trout rematch, which, OK, I don't see a "need" for a do-over either, as close as the fight was, but it would be one of the best few options available to him, so I'm all for it if Mayweather isn't going to take on Canelo. Golden Boy has also thrown out the possibility of Ishe Smith, who's a perfectly valid opponent but somehow I don't see him and his tricky style getting Alvarez next, although Alvarez has taken on and overcome one tricky style in Trout, so why not try to further hone his ability to deal with crafty boxers?
Lotta moving parts on this one: There's not been much talk from Top Rank about what's next for new junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, more about the man he just beat, Nonito Donaire. They know where the bread is buttered — Donaire is relatively popular, Rigo isn't — and I'm guessing Top Rank's Bob Arum doesn't plan to do the promotional job he vowed he'd have to do on the "boring" Rigo to make him an attraction. Rigo's team is talking about him maybe facing a Vic Darchinyan or a featherweight at 124, but both of the names thrown out there — Abner Mares and Daniel Ponce De Leon — are with Top Rank rival Golden Boy, so forget it. Donaire himself had talked about moving up to featherweight, and there was some discussion of him meeting up with Juan Manuel Lopez (whose team says he can make 126, contrary to previous declarations of wanting to move to 130). Now there's talk of Donaire staying at 122 to face the newly victorious Victor Terrazas, who beat Cristian Mijares this past weekend. Like I said before, I'm cool with Donaire staying at 122 and think he ought to; I don't have the same doubts he does whether he can. But new Top Rank signee Darchinyan believes he's next in line for Terrazas, although he will be fighting Javier Gallo next month first. Meanwhile, Juanma is the desired target of Jorge Arce, who has unretired already (ugh), while a potential Juanma-Donaire bout could be paired in Puerto Rico with featherweight Mikey Garcia moving up to 130 to face Rocky Martinez.
Light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson hopes to face the winner of Lucian Bute-Jean Pascal if he beats Adonis Stevenson, which makes sense. Dawson is probably more popular in Canada than he is in America, having fought Pascal there and what with him getting ready to face Stevenson there. Super middleweight champion Andre Ward might be looking at the winner of a kind of playoff between the winners of Bute-Pascal and Mikkel Kessler-Carl Froch II, at least according to his promoter Dan Goossen. I'd imagine that Ward would get dibs on that one over Dawson, given HBO's affection for Ward.
The fool-ass team of heavyweight Alexander Povetkin bid a ridiculous $23 million for the rights to a bout with Wladimir Klitschko, when the next highest bid was like $7 million. I doubt Povetkin's team can raise that kind of cash. Anyway, fool-ass or not, it's about damn time Povetkin's side showed some interest in facing Wlad.
With Kell Brook injured and unable to fight Devon Alexander next month on Showtime, Alexander is going to go ahead with his bout on the undercard of Lamont Peterson-Lucas Matthysse, a card I plan to attend in Atlantic City. The list of names that had been thrown out there for Alexander is exhaustive, but here were my choices in order of preference: Carson Jones; Andre Berto; Shawn Porter; Vyacheslav Senchenko; Lee Purdy; Ed Paredes; Kevin Bizier. We ended up with Purdy.
Bernard Hopkins could be facing a bigger name like Nathan Cleverly, but Mr. Non-Conformist And Warrior Against Boxing's Powerful Interests has instead decided to honor his mandatory belt contender, Karo Murat, in July or August. I imagine it'll be on Showtime.
Yuriorkis Gamboa, just about the last man standing in 50 Cent's promotional stable after Celestino Caballero joined the list of the defeated and sidelined over the weekend (not that Caballero, Billy Dib et al can't come back from their losses, of course), is gonna fight Darley Perez in June on HBO at lightweight. Perez hasn't beaten anyone of note, but he's been described as a heavy hitter, which, given Gamboa's chinny-ness and move up in weight, spells potential danger. It'd be on the undercard of Dawson-Stevenson.
Power punching junior flyweight Roman Gonzalez plans to move up to 112 pounds next month, but doesn't have an opponent; he said he'd like a rematch with Juan Francisco Estrada, who fought him close last year, but that Estrada's team turned it down, but Estrada's team had plans ready immediately after his last bout, so it's not like they were scared or nothin'.
The aforementioned Mr. Smith will meet up with Carlos Molina sometime or the other in a fight widely expected to be an ugly one, but I'm cool with it. Not relishing it, exactly, but cool. Both guys can fight and have spent a long time in their careers being avoided, so it's probably going to be a competitive meeting between two contenders who know what they're doing, so I'm open-minded. In the same weight class, Demetrius Andrade is stepping up in competition against Zaurbek Baysangurov probably in July, and it's in about the same boat as Smith-Molina aesthetically.
Golden Boy wants to set up an all-Texas meeting of lightweights Omar Figueroa and unretired Juan Diaz, maybe after the two have interim fights on the same card. I can't pass full judgment on Diaz yet because I haven't caught up to his return bout a couple weekends ago, but even if Diaz is as good as when he fought just prior to his retirement, he should have his hands full — Figueroa looks like a force to be reckoned with after his big, fast stoppage of Abner Cotto this past weekend.
(Round And Round sources: BoxingScene; ESPN; news releases)