I can’t promise you any fights with novelty value like Muhammad Ali vs. Richard Pryor (pictured), but I can offer you a big fresh helping of boxing news. Round and Round is all about fights in the works, fights being cancelled and fights that have been made. Some of the biggest names of the sport are involved, as you can see from the title, so let’s just get right into it.
Round and Round
The big news of the last week has been a fight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Joshua Clottey being announced and then promptly cancelled. Why was it cancelled? Canelo says he hurt his ankle, but it might have had something to do with the fact that it was a crap fight to begin with and nobody was very excited. There have also been rumours that Canelo has been hitting the tacos, rather than the gym. Whatever the reason, the red-headed Mexican is now likely to return against Miguel Cotto next year. That’s a huge fight, but perhaps not as huge as Oscar De La Hoya thinks it will be (the Golden Boy chief predicted close to two million pay-per-view buys). Cotto does good numbers, as does Canelo — but both men have needed a fight with Floyd Mayweather to even approach two million buys previously. A million might be more like it. In the end, though, I just feel sorry for Clottey, who thought he’d earned himself a huge payday and had it snatched from in front of his face.
I am a lion from ghana and if they give him to me I would beat him. I want to fight with Lara who beat you too.
— Joshua Clottey (@GMASTERCLOTTEY) October 7, 2014
James DeGale has reportedly signed to fight Carl Froch in January, in what would be a huge clash of English super middleweights. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, and Froch would reportedly prefer to face Mikkel Kessler, but it’s now likely. Froch deserves to cash in on his stardom in the UK after years in the wilderness (despite impressive performances) and has obviously realised just how big a draw he is in the aftermath of two huge fights with George Groves. DeGale is a more slippery boxer than Groves (and certainly than Froch), but it should make for an entertaining fight with a great atmosphere.
File under: Ew. Junior welterweight badass Ruslan Provodnikov looks set to fight 41-year-old Jose Luis Castillo in Russia Nov. 28. The idea of the fight makes me feel a bit sick: Castillo is far, far past his best and Provodnikov is a true wrecking ball. The best you could hope for is a quick and merciful stoppage.
Junior welterweight merry-go-round: De La Hoya is apparently keen to stage a big card in, Washington D.C. with either Lamont Peterson vs. Amir Khan or Peterson vs. Danny Garcia. Those are some bomb-ass fights; the only problem is that all three of those fighters are managed by Al Haymon, so it’s unclear to what extent De La Hoya has any say in who they fight next. I’d like to stage Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao on the moon, but it’s not going to happen. Speaking of Garcia, he’s not going to face Viktor Postol, either. Postol was the Philadelphian’s mandatory challenger, but Garcia just threw some cash at the situation and made it go away. It’s hardly going to quiet the legions of disgruntled fans who now call him “The Cherry Picker,” though.
Boxing has an unrivalled ability to take two steps forward and one step back. Take, if you will, the fights planned for December the 13th. Middleweight Matt Korobov, fresh off a win over Jose Uzcategui, will take on Ireland’s Andy Lee, junior middleweight Mauricio Herrera will take on much-fancied prospect Jose Benavidez, Jr. and Tim Bradley will fight tough-as-nails Argentine Diego Chaves. And that’s just on HBO! It looks like there’ll be more fights on at exactly the same time on Showtime, potentially headlined by junior middleweights Demetrius Andrade and Jermell Charlo. How great is counter-programming? Seriously, though, there are some good fights in there. Korobov/Lee could be action-packed, while Andrade and Charlo are physical specimens with real boxing skills.
From some odd kind-of-good cards to a typically (for 2014, anyway) bad one, light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara is set to face unknown Frenchman Doudou Ngumbu in the main event of a Showtime tripleheader November 1. It may well be an entertaining fight, since Fonfara isn’t that great himself, but it’s definitely not premium cable main event quality. It’s at this point I’m contractually obliged to make a Doudou/shit joke. This card is Doudou. With that out of the way, the undercard isn’t the worst thing in the world (nor is it the best) with bantamweight beast Tomoki Kameda facing Alejandro Hernandez and Dominican featherweight prospect-turned-contender Javier Fortuna facing Abner Cotto.
After various postponements, the much-anticipated heavyweight bout between Deontay Wilder and Bermane Stiverne is still being negotiated. Normally the gang who own the alphabet belt in question would force a purse bid, but there’s some possibly shifty business going on with them not wanting to piss off Haymon, who manages Wilder, so there’s no due date for a deal. Both guys want the fight, as do boxing fans, so it’d be nice if we could have it.
In other heavyweight news, David Price is talking up the possibility of fighting Anthony Joshua in England next year. That’d be a good fight between two very big boys — Price’s chin issues might be a liability though. Moving along, Odlanier Solis vs. Tony Thompson II, originally due to take place at the end of this week, has been postponed until November 22 due to an ankle injury to Solis. Can’t say I’m terribly upset. Also at heavyweight, one of the sanctioning organisations has ordered a fight between up-and-coming Cuban Luis Ortiz and well-past-it Ruslan Chagaev. Joy.
From heavyweight to lightweight, there’s a bit of a hoo-ha about who will next get to fight Mickey Bey (what a sentence). Miguel Vazquez, who lost to Bey in an absolute snoozer on the Mayweather-Maidana II undercard in September, says he has a rematch clause and wants the fight. Meanwhile, Russian sparkplug Denis Shafikov says he’s in line for a shot at Bey’s alphabet belt. I favour Shafikov, mainly because I will have some kind of traumatic episode if I’m forced to relive the first Vazquez/Bey fight.
Super flyweight Carlos Cuadras is headed to Washington, D.C. to make his American debut against Filipino veteran Sonny Boy Jaro. Jaro’s probably washed up, but he can punch and Cuadras is extremely entertaining. He’s even been known to sing. He’s my new favourite Mexican.
In more fun times at lower weights, China’s first pro boxing titlist, Xiong Zhao Zhong, is taking on South Africa’s Hekkie Budler in a strawweight match-up in… Monaco on Oct. 25. That’s just the kind of international flavour boxing offers, and it’s a good fight between two big guys in a little division. Zhong’s promoter claims 300 million people will tune in in China, which seems optimistic (I say that knowing absolutely nothing about Chinese TV, but that would be one in every four people in the country).
Cruiserweight Grigory Drozd, fresh off a win over fellow consonant enthusiast Krzystof Wlodarczyk, is campaigning for a shot at Marco Huck or Yoan Pablo Hernandez (though he doesn’t want to take on compatriot and stablemate Denis Lebedev). Either of those fights would be great, bring ’em on. Also at cruiserweight, sometime boxer/sometime commentator B.J. Flores wants a piece of the winner of Nathan Cleverly vs. Tony Bellew II. Apparently he’s going to call them out in Liverpool on Nov. 22.
Having won two in a row, featherweight Rocky Juarez is most definitely due a loss. That’ll probably be what happens when he travels to the Philippines to take on Marvin Sonsosa on December 21.
A fight between Philly prospect Julian “J Rock” Williams and Mexican hardcase Jesus Soto Karass is rumoured to be in the works. Soto Karass has taken an awful lot of punches in recent fights (even more so than usual), but should be a solid test for Williams.
Lastly, one of the sanctioning bodies has ordered welterweight Jojo Dan to face crafty Italian Leonard Bundu. The winner would be the mandatory challenger to Kell Brook, for what it’s worth (not much).