Allegedly Floyd Mayweather is into kidnapping now, especially if you steal his pretty pretty earrings. Quick, someone make a photoshopped picture of Manny Pacquiao giving Liam Neeson's "I will find you and I will kill you" speech to Mayweather!
Allegedly. The only news outlet I can find to have covered the story with original reporting is TMZ, which doesn't mean the story is false, but TMZ has something of a history, and stories that aren't duplicated are sometimes wrong. A local Fox news station in Michigan said a local news station in Nevada had remarks from police, but that station doesn't have anything on its website. Showtime's Stephen Espinoza said this. Mayweather's camp is saying nothing.
Would I put it past Mayweather to do something like this? Nah, sadly. And if he did it, who knows how it might affect his planned May pay-per-view welterweight bout against Marcos Maidana. That's a roundabout way of getting to the point of this column: What fights are in the works, when and where are they going to happen, etc.
Besides the men in the headline, we'll discuss ESPN's big-deal pick-up of Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola II, and what guys like Peter Quillin, Abner Mares, Gennady Golovkin, Matthew Macklin and others are up to these days.
Round And Round
ESPN has reportedly paid around half a million dollars to air the heavyweight rematch between Bermaen Stiverne and Chris Arreola. Holy. And according to ESPN's Dan Rafael, who broke the story, ESPN hopes to do this three to four times a year. ESPN is in nearly 100 million homes and it's airing a fight of that caliber — a bout that could be a co-feature on pay-cable networks and boxing industry giants HBO or Showtime. This could be a big deal. I also daresay they've chosen wisely about what kind of fight they're airing, too; Stiverne-Arreola I was pretty good.
Meanwhile, HBO has had some rough developments to start the year. The latest is junior lightweight Mikey Garcia and Top Rank turning their nose up at Yuriorkis Gamboa, the most marketable bout at 130 for Garcia. Garcia claims that Gamboa is asking for 50 percent more than him, which, if true, is a ludicrous demand, but who knows if it's true. So Garcia's promoter, Bob Arum, is talking about taking Garcia over to China to fight Takashi Uchiyama. It might be a negotiating bluff, but whether HBO wants it or not, I do. Uchiyama-Garcia is the most competitive fight in the division, and it would begin a new championship lineage via the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. On one level, Arum's relative TV-independence is a good thing; but his cantankerous streak (is there a network he hasn't fucked over super-hard?) makes it so you don't want a monoculture dependent on him. Case in point.
More HBO rough business: the bout between light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson and Andrzej Fonfara still isn't finalized for May, and with Stevenson having recently joined up with Golden Boy pal Al Haymon, it's fueling speculation that Stevenson will shortly move over to Showtime, another Golden Boy pal. That would be bad news for the most appealing fight in the whole sport for hardcores, Stevenson-Sergey Kovalev. Stevenson insists the Fonfara fight will happen, but in his last interview about the subject, the letters "HBO" didn't come up, at least that made it into a story.
Speaking of championship lineages: #2 strawweight Hekkie Budler is hopeful of lining up a bout with #1 Katsunari Takayama, because, why the fuck not? It's not like there are all these megafights in the strawweight division. Budler-Takayama is a great fight. Make it happen.
Other little dudes: Rad flyweight Juan Francisco Estrada is taking a bout in April against undefeated/unheralded Joebert Alvarez before looking to face Giovani Segura this summer. I love that fight, don't get me wrong, but I don't love this Alvarez fight getting in the way of it, then making it so we have to wait even longer for the winner of Estrada-Segura to fight Roman Gonzalez.
For the time being, self-destructive weight class nomad Nonito Donaire appears to be staying put at featherweight, lining up Simpiwe Vetyeka for May, presumably on HBO, although who knows with how things are going with HBO and Donaire promoter Top Rank (Top Rank's Arum is also getting testy about a June junior welterweight showdown between Ruslan Provodnikov and Antonio DeMarco that HBO is lukewarm about). Donaire-Vetyeka is a solid match-up. Donaire as usual has all the physical advantages, but Vetyeka is a rough and tumble authentic 126-pounder, and it's not clear whether Donaire is authentic at the weight.
Not sure what's up with Abner Mares, but he's playing Hamlet lately. First, abetted by some injuries, he moved away from a featherweight rematch with Jhonny Gonzalez. Now, he's balking at a junior lightweight bout with Takashi Miura. And lately he's taken to talking up a bout with junior featherweight Leo Santa Cruz, who's with Golden Boy rival Top Rank. Since I consider Mares more of a junior featherweight than a featherweight and especially than a junior lightweight, and since Mares-Santa Cruz is the most appealing bout from an aesthetic standpoint, I would rather have that one.
Same as I don't think top middleweight Gennady Golovkin should have to move up to 168, I don't think super middleweight champ Andre Ward should have to move up to 175. But both have issues with their philosophy on this. In the most recent edition of ESPN2's Friday Night Fights, Ward was saying he didn't need to go up to light heavyweight — the available super middleweights just needed to fight him. OK. But if they don't (and right now, they aren't)? We have a problem. Likewise, his trainer Virgil Hunter is right that Golovkin is "picking and choosing" who he wants to fight if he moves up to 168. Ward would be down to face GGG. GGG's team keeps saying, why should we move up to 168? We'll stay at 160. But they're willing to for Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. I get it; Chavez brings more money than Ward, probably, and is a more winnable fight. But yeah, the notion that GGG's team is spinning that he'll fight anyone from 154-175, it's pretty clear he's not so bold. The best fighters are willing to take the top challenges where they're available, and right now neither Ward nor Golovkin are doing that.
HBO's decision to cancel the April 26 date in Madison Square Garden thanks to the GGG-? fight falling through due to the death of GGG's father hurts the chances of an all-Irish middleweight clash between Matthew Macklin and Andy Lee. It's an appealing style clash and the ethnic grudge element gave it real appeal. Too bad. Macklin, ultimately, would rather face Felix Sturm anyway. That fight, too, makes sense, given how close the first fight was.
Now, Anthony Crolla-John Murray? That's an all-U.K. bout that's nothing but awesome, and signs point to it happening in April. Book it as one of those Fight of the Year-style match-ups that you'll want to find a stream for if you're in the United States, or hope that somebody like AWE or ESPN3 finds a home for the lightweight battle.
While Kubrat Pulev waits for a shot at heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, he could face Dereck Chisora. Pulev is a shaky #1 heavyweight and Chisora has righted his ship, so it's a risky bout but a desirable one. I'd thought Pulev was next in line via alphabet belt politics, but apparently he needs to get by Chisora first.
Next up for some mid-to-late-tier welterweights: Shawn Porter is set to face off with Paulie Malignaggi in a nice match-up on Showtime in April, where the winner would face Brit Kell Brook, who is taking yet another low-level bout while waiting for somebody big, what with domestic rival Amir Khan looking in the direction of Adrien Broner or someone else in the United States. This bolsters the card featuring "meh" light heavyweight fight between Bernard Hopkins and Beibut Shumenov the same night. It also bolsters the downright crappy meeting on that card between middleweight Peter Quillin and Lucas Kocencny. I won't be in town that weekend but the more they pump up that so-so card the more I wish I'd be here in Washington, D.C. for that one.
For the May undercard featuring a super middleweight rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves, there's talk of top lightweight Miguel Vazquez facing Kevin Mitchell. He can fight, Vazquez can, but there's no less watchable a fighter in the sport, I reckon. The only thing Vazquez-Mitchell can do for that card is Mitchell knocking him right out, I suppose, and despite the resurgence Mitchell has had of late, it doesn't seem likely.
Rocky Martinez had talked about facing the winner of Terence Crawford-Ricky Burns, that being Crawford. Now that he's moved up to lightweight and is booked to face Raymundo Beltran, I wouldn't get too excited about the possibility of Martinez getting Crawford. Beltran is a handful, and big for the weight.
As crappy as Kovalev's next fight is, as much as people have dissed Thomas Dulorme-Karim Mayfield at 140 for that undercard later this month on HBO, I like it. Mayfield, who is skilled, can be enjoyable against the right opposition, and Dulorme can be powerful against same. I'm not sure whether Dulorme is going to make Mayfield look good or vice versa, but I do like the match-up.
Ballyhooed featherweight prospect Oscar Valdez is set to step up significantly against Dat Nguyen in April, somewhere on the undercard of the HBO PPV welterweight headliner Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley II. I'd like it if that one made some kind of broadcast. Nguyen is limited as hell but he's much better than anyone Valdez has ever faced.
(Round And Round sources: BoxingScene, ESPN, RingTV, press releases)