Yes, yes, #cancelcolbert and everything, but it just makes sense: This is Round And Round, and it’s a short version of Round And Round, thus, Short Round from Indiana Jones. Besides the men in the headline in this regular column featuring fights in the works, we have rounded-up news on Gennady Golovkin, Deontay Wilder, Mauricio Herrera and a handful of others!
Round And Round
Let’s start with a series of movements at middleweight, then at heavyweight, some of which are interrelated. You might have heard that Gennady Golovkin will be required to defend his 160-pound strap against Jarrod Fletcher, which ought to tell you everything you need to know about how much of a force for making good fights and giving deserving fighters chances the alphabets are, if it wasn’t just one of a legion of examples of the opposite — yet defenders of the alphabet gang are dug in on these themes such that the second a halfway deserving fighter does get a shot, or a good fight accidentally is made as a result of their mandates, they trumpet it as evidence-erasing proof of how wonderful these sanctioning outfits are. Fletcher does have a good win over Max Bursak, but this one is bizarre.
So maybe Golovkin drops one of his belts and fights Daniel Geale in July, or else HBO has to figure out whether it wants to televise Golovkin-Fletcher. Geale is newly available because of a canceled fight with Matthew Macklin, which was set to be on the undercard of the heavyweight bout between Mike Perez and Bryant Jennings, a nice scrap booked for later this month until Perez suffered an injury. Given how Perez and Golovkin share a promoter, Macklin’s mind turned to conspiracy. Golovkin’s team has disputed the notion that this was all engineered to make Golovkin-Geale. Who knows. Golovkin-Geale, though, is a bigger fight for HBO than Macklin-Geale, even if Macklin-Geale figures to be more competitive on paper, and certainly more desirable than Golovkin-Fletcher.
Bermane Stiverne might have wanted to go for the super-big money by facing lineal heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, but the outfit that gave him his belt wants him to fight his mandatory instead, Deontay Wilder. “But title belts help fighters make more money!” Not always, no sir. Fortunately for the fans Stiverne-Wilder is a nice fight. Wilder would be stepping up majorly in class; Stiverne can punch; and we don’t know what kind of shot Wilder can take or what kind of stamina he has. But Wilder can REALLY punch, and that’s hard to ignore. Stiverne’s promoter Don King had been insisting Stiverne had an optional belt defense he could take, but apparently not.
Finally, Yuriorkis Gamboa is returning to the boxing ring, and he’s doing it against Terence Crawford in June on HBO, in Crawford’s backyard of Nebraska. This is the “new star who didn’t pan out yet still has some juice” vs. the “new would-be star who might never catch on,” but it’s a very good lightweight fight. Both guys are fast and both guys can really punch when they put their minds to it, so it might be interesting, too, although that depends too much on either man deciding to get frisky.
Flyweight Amnat Ruenroeng, last seen popping the bubble of young talent Kazuto Ioka, might be facing Zou Shiming in the fall, because for some reason Top Rank wants that fight for him. That’s too dangerous too early for Zou, even keeping in mind that Zou needs to go fast in his late pro start. Ruengoeng also recently beat Rocky Fuentes and he’s an awkward sort. Ambition is always applauded; whether it’s wise or not is the question. It might not happen that early anyway, as Ruenroeng might have (you guessed it) responsibilities to one of the alphabet belts. Probably for the best for Zou, anyway, if not Ruenroeng getting a far bigger money bout should he face Zou instead of a random mandatory.
One of the more intriguing fights on the calendar is between featherweights Gary Russell, Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko — both are virtually untested pros with obvious talent and excellent (Russell) or stellar (Lomachenko) amateur chops, with Russell still treading water since the 2008 Olympics and Lomachenko just one fight in to his pro career, a loss to Orlando Salido. But the June 21 Showtime undercard has one good fight and one that might be good. Devon Alexander-Jesus Soto Karass at welterweight is a meaningful and difficult bounceback fight for Alexander — or is that what it is for JSK? Also at welterweight, Robert Guerrero makes a return from a long layoff to face Yoshihiro Kamegai. There are some who think Kamegai will give him a stiff challenge, but his resume doesn’t suggest it.
Golden Boy is talking up the possibility of Zab Judah vs. Mauricio Herrera at 140 pounds. It’s so-so.
On the same June 14 card in Atlantic City where junior middleweight Glen Tapia makes his return, D.C.-area 140-pound prospect Mike Reed will appear as well. I’m torn between hitting that card up or the one in Brooklyn that night on HBO featuring Ruslan Provodnikov-Chris Algieri, also at 140. Or staying home. Decisions, decisions.
Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. says that his kid Omar has been offered a fight against Brandon Rios for July, but he’ll only take it if it’s at 150 or above. Rios has been fighting at junior welter and welter, and Omar has been at junior middle. This isn’t the usual family high jinks on weight, then. Omar hasn’t done anything of note as a pro and has even lost a couple, but Rios-Chavez makes sense in a way given that Rios is coming back from a Manny Pacquiao-sized thumping.
(Round And Round sources: BoxingScene; ESPN; RingTV; news releases)