Miguel Cotto didn't have much trouble with Delvin Rodriguez trying to punch him last year. But actress Michelle Rodriguez drunk at a Knicks game? She actually makes him change his facial expression from "nothing" to "something." (via)
This is mostly going to be about fights in the works (Round And Round) rather than a news roundup (Quick Jabs) but this weird interview with trainer Freddie Roach means we need to talk about some Manny Pacquiao drama.
I'd advise listening to the whole interview, because it's very newsy, but here's what Roach had to say about former Pacquiao strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, now with recent Pacquiao opponent Brandon Rios, who tested positive for a banned substance after their fight:
"I think he’s a little shady. He used to give Manny a drink every day before the workout and I used to ask him what’s in that drink but he would never tell me." Roach said he asked because if "something goes wrong I’ll maybe get the blame. In my opinion he’s a little shady and he’s with that camp now and it doesn’t surprise me that happened."
We'll set aside, for now, his remarks about Ariza and Marcos Maidana and smelling salts, because he's largely speculating (albeit from a place of experience) and we don't know anything new beyond what we said here.
The potential implications of this are enormous, of course — Roach is implying that he was concerned that Ariza was giving Pacquiao performance enhancing drugs. But they are only potential implications. Roach and Ariza never really got along, but it was only a couple months ago that Ariza literally kicked Roach in a camp skirmish. So, the timing is suspect. It at least has the potential (to use that word again) to be the kind of thing someone would say as part of a vendetta. And Roach has no proof of anything; just some mystery shakes that he's concerned about.
But this is going to fuel every suspicion everyone has ever had about Pacquiao, for Roach to have said this. You can say, to Roach's credit, that he tried to force Ariza out for a long time and eventually did. But when even Pacquiao's own trainer is worried that he was on PEDs at one point, it dramatically weakens Pacquiao's case for being clean in the court of public opinion. Roach very well may have been talking out of his ass in order to attack an enemy. He might have been sincere. But the end result will be even more skepticism about Pacquiao and the authenticity of his achievements.
Me? I can certainly chalk it up to uninformed talk by someone who has an ill-spirited motive. But I can't dismiss it entirely, and I'll confess that since the original Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather negotiations where I largely took Pacquiao's side in the dispute over advanced drug testing (I didn't think Mayweather had a right to ask for it, athough I also wished Pacquiao would've just taken the tests and shut everyone up)… my confidence that Pacquiao could very plausibly have been clean during his big run has been diminished slowly over time, and this Roach comment diminishes it more.
And as if that Pacman drama wasn't enough, Pacquiao's lawyer semi-accused his adviser Michael Koncz of mismanaging his money and leading to tax problems for Manny. Sigh. Pacquiao's team is… theatrical.
But wait, we're not done with him yet! We'll talk about fights in the works involving Pacquiao first and then move on to plenty of other fighters, like the aforementioned Cotto, Wladimir Klitschko, Adonis Stevenson, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. and others.
[LAST MINUTE NEWS ROUNDUP THINGIE DAMMIT: Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer has resigned and will be gone by month's end. That's big news. Everyone's trying to guess why, with some UFC peeps speculating that it's over the push to get Vitor Belfort a therapeutic use exception for testosterone replacement therapy, and some boxing fans remembering how Kizer defended the horrible scorecard of C.J. Ross in the Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight or pointing out how boxing has been spreading its wings from Las Vegas in the past year. We won't know the truth for a while if at all, but I liked some things about Kizer (the advanced drug testing program he set up, which wasn't perfect but was an improvement) and disliked others (his tendency to defend funky judging). We'll see if his replacement can do any better with the biggest boxing jurisdiction in America.]
Round And Round
So Roach thinks Pacquiao-Mayweather can still happen, because Showtime signed Mayweather to a big contract and can't get their money back having him fight Amir Khan and the like, except Roach forgot about the part where Mayweather refuses to work with Pacquiao's promoter Top Rank and would ask for an absurdly imbalanced purse split and oh now more drugs (and some future hurdle to be named later). There is no good reason to believe anything will change for a fight that hasn't happened for like four years. Mayweather keeps acting like Pacquiao is begging for the fight — Christmas card where he's KO'd hahahahaha not really — but the only person in this whole equation who I gather really would like the fight is Roach, and that's commendable, but it's not enough. So kill that hope, anyone gullible enough to have any left.
Pacquiao could fight Timothy Bradley in an April HBO pay-per-view rematch of their controversial welterweight bout, which strikes me as the best fight out there for Pac. It's not like Pac-pal Ruslan Provodnikov (an option or not an option, depending on the day) or Robert Guerrero (maybe an option if he breaks with Golden Boy) are going to deliver huge purses. As for Guerrero trying to get away from Golden Boy: It sounds absurd, on the surface, because they just got him a Mayweather fight and could've gotten him a lot of fights. But I'll wait and see the results of the case before writing it off entirely. The claims might or might not be legitimate and I still wonder why he'd want to leave Golden Boy. Unless, of course, he thought he could get Pacquiao, and Roach indicated that he wanted Pacquiao to fight and knock out Guerrero so as to upstage Mayweather, who merely won by dominant decision.
Canelo Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo is a go for Showtime PPV in March and it's a helluva nice junior middleweight fight. I honestly can't tell you who I think would win. What's more, the talk is of a very good undercard. The best two are Leo Santa Cruz vs. Cristian Mijares (junior featherweight) and Nihito Arakawa-Jorge Linares (lightweight). Santa Cruz is troubled by boxer-types, which Mijares is. Arakawa created demand for himself with a gritty losing performance against Omar Figueroa, while Linares is a deeply flawed talent who can't take a punch. Figureoa also would be on the card, against one of Alvarez's brothers, but those guys aren't as good as Canelo.
That Adrien Broner cat does have some heart. He is going right into a welterweight rematch with Marcos Maidana after Maidana beat him up, in a bout that would probably be booked for April, on Showtime. Hat's off to you, Broner, even if I think you aren't a welterweight and this is a mistake. Other rematch news: Jhonny Gonzalez-Abner Mares II (featherweight) keeps getting pushed back, this time because of an alleged rib injury by Mares, although reports in Mexico were casting doubt on whether he even trained at the gym where the injury allegedly happened, and the rumor-mongering was that Mares needed more time to train. So, no February on Showtime for this rematch, whatever the eventual date. Final rematch news: Martin Murray might've pulled out of his half-assed semi-title shot for a chance to rematch Felix Sturm, which I support because it's the better middleweight bout.
Light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson said he will face Sergey Kovalev in 2014, which is better than what he had been saying, which was "________." That's one of the best couple fights in the sports, period, maybe THE best. Kovalev, meanwhile, said he would fight super middleweight champ Andre Ward but only at light heavyweight. It's one to bookmark for if and when Ward departs 168.
Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko is close to signing his next fight, with Alex Leapai, who recently made a bigger name for himself with an upset win over Denis Boytsov. It would be in April. Kubrat Pulev had appeared to be next but apparently he can wait. Leapai is an acceptable fight for a guy I have zero interest in watching. Other heavyweight bouts in discussion: Tony Thompson-Odlanier Solis, looking done for March (good one) and Tyson Fury-Dereck Chisora II for June (pretty good one).
Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. might get a chance to face the winner of Robert Stieglitz-Arthur Abraham (super middleweight), but that sounds awfully far away for us to start worrying about. And it's hard to care about Chavez these days with his weight antics.
Promoter Gary Shaw said HBO turned down Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Geale for a middleweight clash in April, which is too bad because I like the fight. Shaw said the network was looking at GGG vs. James Kirkland instead, a fight I'm not sure makes a lot of sense for the vulnerable and undersized junior middleweight Kirkland, but it would be a fight worth watching every single second of, somehow.
(Round And Round sources: BoxingScene; ESPN; The Guardian; Doghouse Boxing)