Got my copy of Springs Toledo’s “Gods of War” off Amazon; still got a ways to go but it’s more than paying off in phrases like “[Ray] Leonard was confident enough to ask permission from an aging Ray Robinson to borrow ‘Sugar,’ but he couldn’t have anticipated how many lumps he’d get from [Roberto] Duran…” Springs is way up there as one of the best boxing writers today, so get wise and buy your copy (on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble, or you can write email@example.com for a signed and inscribed copy) and see if he can convince you that the first Sugar isn’t the best fighter ever. Expect a full review in this space shortly from our Sam Sheppard.
The day-to-day shufflings of boxing go on, while we wait for that. It’s a world of shufflings to make fights involving the men in the headline, as well as those of Andre Ward, Bernard Hopkins, Robert Guerrero, and the nearly vowel-less Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. And others.
Round And Round
Gennady Golovkin vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. almost certainly isn’t going to happen. It was penciled in for July but Chavez balked at signing a contract extension with Top Rank as part of the deal, since he apparently has a gaudy offer on the table from Al Haymon. And it’s confusing but this kind of thing sounds like it’s flirting with a violation of the Ali Act, although the “one version gets you more money with an extension, the other doesn’t” maybe gets around it. Whatever the case, the excellent HBO Pay-Per-View (that no on wishes was on PPV, natch) fight looks like another excellent bout disrupted by the diabolical Haymon. This is one more example where it seems as though the HBO/Top Rank faction should’ve just swallowed the cost — Showtime and/or Golden Boy have stolen away PPV king Floyd Mayweather and recent past/current ratings giants Canelo Alvarez, Bernard Hopkins and Adrien Broner, leaving HBO with Manny Pacquiao, a tenuous hold on Miguel Cotto and the perhaps departing Chavez. And the whole lot of them, through one failing or another, is leaving fans without a fight they wanted — again.
Meanwhile, super middleweight champion Andre Ward won’t stop saying insane things overestimating his value. He refuses to move up to 175 pounds to fight Sergey Kovalev, saying he’s not a 175-pounder despite talking of challenging at heavyweight at some point, and seems to think he’d get no credit for beating Kovalev — as if he’ll get more beating the other guys he’s talking about fighting, or more than he got for beating Edwin Rodriguez. Of course, he is oddly comfortable with expecting others move down or up to face him — Chad Dawson down from 175, Chavez or Golovkin up from 168. And sure, those guys said they were willing, and Ward hasn’t, but he’s using their selective flexibility against them as a cudgel when he ought not to under the circumstances, given that he has zero. The worst of it is that he doesn’t seem interested in any fight that isn’t a PPV. It was a conceivable notion, yet a distant one, that Ward might grow into a PPV-level fighter. It would have required him getting back into the ring more frequently, setting aside his promoter feuds, etc… but for him to be sitting on the sidelines demanding PPV-only fights is dumb as shit. I said it earlier this week and it looks like it’s going to hold indefinitely: “I used to think Ward was intelligent.”
Another super middleweight, Mikkel Kessler, is preparing for a return after a long layoff, targeting a fall comeback and naming Ward, Golovkin or Carl Froch and George Groves as future opponents. We know Ward won’t take it, even if he’s free of his promotional disputes, because it’s not a PPV fight. Golovkin might — he has indeed been choosy about which 168-pounder he wants to face. The winner of Froch-Groves II makes the most sense, especially if Groves loses and it sets up a Froch-Kessler trilogy. This would all lean toward HBO, btw.
Arthur Abraham, the last of the super middleweights we’ll discuss in this edition of Round And Round, is interested in meeting up with Felix Sturm. It would require Sturm moving up to 168 from 160 but it doesn’t feel like a stretch. Abraham isn’t truly a super middleweight himself and the fight would do obscene business in Germany. And it figures as competitive, with each man’s recent resurgence. Sturm needs to get past Sam Soliman first in a rematch of his PED-addled loss to the Aussie. If it happens, expect a game of high-guard bumper cars. You can run a simulation of what it would look like by taking a couple remote control cars with roll cages and repeatedly smacking them into one another.
One of the sanctioning outfits that gave Bernard Hopkins one of his light heavyweight belts is making the winner of Anatoliy Dudchenko and Nadjib Mohammedi. You, the educated boxing fan, might be saying of both men: “Who?” Granted, the IBF has a rule allowing unification fights to take precedence over mandatory defenses, but eventually Hopkins will have to fight the winner of that bout or relinquish his belt. This is simply another counter to that line of defending the alphabets that they make good fights happen, or put deserving fighters in position for a big fight. To repeat: Sometimes they do. Just as often, if not more often, they do the exact opposite. This is one of the legion of examples of the latter.
Heavyweight Alexander Povetkin is coming off a rough loss to champion Wladimir Klitschko yet remains one of the top men in his class, since everyone gets beaten by Klitschko. There was some discussion that Povetkin would face Vyacheslav Glazkov, but apparently he will instead face Manuel Charr, a Vitali Klitschko knockout victim coming off a win over Kevin Johnson. It’s disappointing but probably makes more sense. Should Povetkin look good against Charr, Povetkin-Glazkov retains its appeal.
We keep not getting a meeting of the two clear top cruiserweights because they share a trainer. The clear #3, Kryzsztof Wlodarczyk, is considering facing B.J. Flores in a reasonable fight in the fall on Showtime, after Flores makes his ring return this weekend. The winner would face Antonio Tarver, because Haymon (“advises” Flores and Tarver). Wlodarczyk might also face Grigory Drozd, a better fight than any of them.
Do you remember Robert Guerrero? It rings a bell, over here. Whoever he is, the welterweight is looking at a June return, with Yoshihiro Kamegai the opponent under discussion. That opponent has an undistinguished record, including losses and draws vs. undistinguished competition. Probably better that Guerrero get back in the ring ASAP against undistinguished opponents than not at all. Probably not better that Guerrero televise it, if that’s the route they’re going.
Thomas Dulorme wants a piece of Ruslan Provodnikov at 140. Makes enough sense. First Provodnikov has to get by Chris Algieri in June, not a given stylistically even if Provodnikov is a deserved big favorite. Nor are either of these fights the ideal Provodnikov fight. They merely suffice.
Junior middleweight Willie Nelson had a spot lined up on the undercard of the HBO Pay-Per-View headliner between middleweight champion Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto, but got pulled so that Martinez adviser Sampson Lewkowicz, who promotes John Jackson, could put his guy on against Andy Lee — despite Nelson having beaten Jackson. That undercard is not swell.
Another junior middleweight, Glen Tapia, is due back in June coming off his brutal loss to James Kirkland, with new trainer Freddie Roach (an automatic upgrade over Alex Devia, who allowed Tapia to take a stupid beating against Kirkland). He’s easing back in against Keenan Collins. Hopefully the spirit and ability hasn’t been beaten out of him by Kirkland, because he had a future and the potential to give us some fun action at a young age.
(Round And Round Sources: ESPN; BoxingScene; World Boxing News; news release)