It's slow-going this weekend for boxing on the teevee, kids, but that doesn't mean we don't have a lot going on for a Quick Jabs column. For starters, get a load of bantamweight Hozumi Hasegawa this week scoring yet another 1st round knockout over yet another quality contender, just above. Hasegawa figures into another spot in this particular column, too, along with the likes of Shane Mosley, Chris Arreola, Chris John and plenty of other pugilists of note.
Anyway, returning to this weekend for a moment, tonight on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights, we've got lightweight contender Breidis Prescott in the headliner against a decent opponent, although not TOO decent; junior middleweight prospect Erislandy Lara in against a guy who has a lot of losses but just recently dropped a competitive decision at middleweight to fellow prospect Craig McEwan; and junior featherweight Guillermo Rigondeaux in against the kind of mega-overmatched competition you'd expect for someone who is just getting his second pro fight going. There's also a Telemundo card tonight. [UPDATED: I just used the Twitter updates to the right to write up FNF. Feel free to sound off in the comments section on what you thought of all the bouts.]
Saturday there's an Azteca America card and a prizefighttv.com card, to go with the aforementioned non-U.S.-televised junior welterweight Amir Khan-Andreas Kotelnik fight, but the real highlight of the weekend is HBO televising of the historically awesome Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward trilogy, on Friday night then again on Saturday morning. It's as good a way to mourn the loss of Gatti as you'll find, to see him at the peak of his "Human Highlight Film" powers, and HBO has done great by boxing fans by putting it on television. (We'll have more on Gatti, too, just below.)
Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik recently put the breaking straw on the camel's back in my being his fan, and I bet I'm not alone. He remarked this week of the super middleweight tournament that Showtime put together and that has virtually everyone in boxing excited: "Let them beat each other up. Let them ruin their careers for peanuts." Pavlik's remarks might sound like sour grapes at first, but I really do think he's gotten excessively greedy for only the big paydays. It goes back to the mistake he made picking Bernard Hopkins as his opponent last year, a mistake I criticized at the time -- yes, it was his best available payday, but Hopkins was bound to make him look bad win or lose. He and Top Rank Promotions have mismanaged his career since late 2008, signing him up to be on pay-per-view in an understandable bounce back fight against Marco Antonio Rubio that semi-sucked through no fault of Pavlik's own; then strangely making a fight against Sergio Mora on pay-per-view that no one wanted; then lying about some injury and pulling out of the Mora fight to squabble about a promotional contract; then announcing he'd fight Arthur Abraham in late 2009, only to stop talking about that fight -- the one everyone wanted to see him in most -- all of a sudden; then turning his nose up at $1 million to fight Felix Sturm on HBO. His next fight might be against Sergio Martinez, a quality opponent who might make him look bad a la Hopkins. Now, he's shitting all over men who are making good fights people want to see, and for more than peanuts, I might add. It's entirely the wrong attitude, and it doesn't impress me. And the attitude is shaping the kinds of fights he's in, so it's not just a personal thing -- it's a personality thing that bleeds into a professional thing....
Just to rub it in, here's a well done advertisement for the aforementioned super middleweight tournament. It's got my juices flowing:
Another of my favorites, junior featherweight Juan Manuel Lopez, doesn't have as long a list of sins as Pavlik to turn me off, but his one sin -- avoiding Celestino Caballero -- just keeps getting more sinful. This week, Lopez said, while complaining about Top Rank's decision to match him with the exciting but undertalented Rogers Mtagwa: "This is what happens when the opponents that you want, don't want to fight at 122 pounds. Israel Vazquez went to 126-pounds, Rafael Marquez as well, and it seems that they are going to fight for a fourth time. There is nothing at 122... In the case of Celestino Caballero, he doesn't have to pay the percentage of my marketshare to each of the three organizations (IBF, WBO and WBO). It's better for me to remain fighting against opponents who are ranked by the WBO." So, OK, Juanma, move up to 126 and chase those guys or shut up and fight the other best guy in your division. Then his team tried to mitigate his remarks by saying they'd fight Caballero for $1 million, which is a substantial sum. At any rate, just short of Marquez or Vazquez, Caballero's the man who'd get Lopez the biggest payday right now, so it's not like he can say it's about money. There's no other way to put this: Lopez is flat avoiding Caballero. And it's very disappointing...
Other fights this week of note, besides Hasegawa's: Elio Rojas beat Takahiro Aoh for a featherweight alphabet belt; strawweight Roman Gonzalez defended his; and heavyweight Travis Walker got knocked out early in a fight again...
I'd promised a pound-for-pound update this week, and I don't think there's been enough movement in the past two and a half months to warrant a new post. Here's my quick take: Vic Darchinyan drops out of the top 20 after his loss at bantamweight, although he's really just on the edge. That moves everyone up one spot from #8 to #14; Rafael Marquez, whose long layoff ended recently, didn't beat anyone of note, so he doesn't return to his old spot in the top 10, but he does return at #17, behind Arthur Abraham. Wladimir Klitschko warranted a possible move up on his own merits by beating Ruslan Chagaev, but I think him moving up to #14 is higher than a lot of people have him, so that's his climb for the week. Juanma jumps one spot after beating a tougher-than-expected Olivier Lontchi. Lastly, Hasegawa moves in to my top 20, replacing Fernando Montiel at #20. Montiel, if he wins his next fight, will take that spot back. August, September and October offer far more fights that could affect pound-for-pound standings, so expect another update by October...
If you didn't see this bit of bragging, I provide it here now: The Wall Street Journal linked to my tribute to Gatti. And, if you didn't see the news about the letter Gatti's wife sent to the Associated Press from prison, I provide it here...
I was going to say something far more rude about this mixed martial arts writer, but a friend told me I'd crossed the rudeness line recently, so I'm backing off what I had in mind. I do at least hope he stubs his toe very badly some day, however. He's the same guy who wrote about what Ray Mercer-Tim Sylvia meant about boxing, and he was 100 percent wrong. There's so much wrong with this newest piece. I'm "gbuschrist" in the comments section (it's the name ESPN makes me use from when I first signed in, never anticipating I'd leave a comment on an article). Impregnable1 makes some good points, too. One more point than the one I made there: Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez on Sept. 19 may do better than the UFC event on the same night or it may not. That reflects nothing about the state of boxing. Mayweather-Marquez may or may not do well as an event because fans are very divided on that match-up (although, as we'll explore in a second, the undercard is heating up), and it may or may not have done well whether it went head to head with the UFC...
Mayweather had a rematch with ESPN's Brian Kenny this week. I've done all the Mayweather bashing I care to do this week myself, so I'll just let the video speak for itself.
Round And Round
We were supposed to find out this week whether Manny Pacquiao (as of this week, the 2008 ESPY winner for Fighter of the Year) had accepted a fight with Miguel Cotto, and at what weight -- 142-145? -- but there's no word still. So I guess we won't find out this week after all.
Rumors of Ricky Hatton's return continue, with the deposed long-time junior welterweight king looking at Steve Forbes or welterweight Vyacheslav Senchenko, in Novemberish. Neither fight bothers me; Hatton clearly needs to return against soft opposition after nearly getting put into a coma by Pacquiao, and Forbes will put up resistance, as would any welterweight, since Hatton has been so bad at 147. On the other hand, I expect those are the kind of fights that would only get televised in Britain. No word on whether either would be a "farewell" fight.
The Mayweather-Marquez undercard now has one excellent fight penciled in -- the featherweight rematch between Chris John and Rocky Juarez -- and it may get another -- Michael Katsidis fighting fellow lightweight Vicente Escobedo. Then there's the possible Zab Judah-Matthew Hatton fight at 140. If the undercard comes off that way, which is always a big "if" with the promise of good pay-per-view undercards, this will go from being "a main event that people are lukewarm about and may not buy" to "the kind of card any and every boxing fan would be foolish not to buy." John-Juarez II should be a barnburner, and Katsidis is always really good television. I could do without Judah-Hatton, but whatever; it would be an absolutely beautiful card, and at least one of those three fights would win over new boxing fans. I'll not get my hopes up, but I will be doing all kinds of voodoo magic to influence its ability to come to reality.
Welterweight Shane Mosley has reportedly conveyed a "lowball" offer to Andre Berto for their proposed bout. The source of the story is hard to know absolutely, but I'm guessing it's somebody with Berto's side (duh). The report says that out of a $3 million pot HBO put up to split between Mosley and Berto, Berto would make less than he did against Luis Collazo and Juan Urango. Among Berto's other options is Collazo, but HBO is offering less for the rematch than it did the first bout, which suggests that either they've soured on Berto or HBO's boxing budget is in terrible shape; I'd suspect the latter. The third option is that one of three men in line to be Berto's mandatory title challenger, Selcuk Aydin, would combine with the Turkish government to pay Berto richly to fight in a soccer stadium over there. I know Berto wants to be on U.S. TV, but that sounds kind of fun, honestly, and I don't think Aydin would have much of a chance of beating him. And, um, this is weird: Mosley is saying he's now willing to fight Pacquiao at 140. I wish I understood why Shane was so desperate for this fight. It's really strange.
Lucian Bute-Librado Andrade II at super middleweight is a go for Nov. 28 in Canada and on HBO, and it ought to be a big smash there. There's been a lot of talk about how Bute should have been in the super middleweight tournament, and he should have. But Bute is charting a course to keep himself relevant outside of the tournament that I rather like. Bute-Andrade I was an interesting fight, especially because of its controversial ending courtesy referee Marlon B. Wright, and even if Bute does appear a class above Andrade as a fighter, I won't count him out. He's a legit top-5 super middleweight. After that fight, assuming Pavlik hasn't lost in the interim, we'd get Bute-Pavlik. That's not only an interesting fight, but I expect it would be an excellent one. The only question is what date the next Pavlik fight falls on, which leads to the next question.
Goossen-Tutor Promotions is plotting an Oct. 3 double-header for Paul Williams-Sergei Dzinziruk (junior middleweight) and Chris Arreola-Oleg Maskaev. Those are both perfectly good fights. HBO would televise. The issue is that there's some jockeying for the date, with HBO also considering doing a Pavlik fight that weekend; Goossen-Tutor doesn't want to be the desert to the Mayweather-Marquez replay the weekend before.
After Darchinyan's loss, Nonito Donaire has indicated he'd rather fight Fernando Montiel or Jorge Arce next. That's his prerogative, and I get where he's coming from. I actually still think Donaire-Darchinyan II is the best of the lot. I like the Montiel fight a lot and always have, and I presume it would take place at bantamweight rather than junior bantamweight, where Donaire is making his redebut. Montiel, though, is talking about wanting Agbeko, another good fight. And Arce -- well, he wouldn't stand a chance, but Donaire needs and wants exposure against a popular opponent, and Arce would provide that. Darchinyan, meanwhile, wants Jose Lopez, who may be otherwise occupied, so Darchinyan may have to fight a mandatory challenger to one of his junior bantamweight belts against little-known Simphiwe Nongqayi.
Remember that Aug. 28 Friday Night Fights season finale slugfest between Urango and Randall Bailey? It just got better -- the undercard may feature Tavoris Cloud against Clinton Woods at light heavyweight, an FNF-headliner worthy bout in its own right.
YURIORKIS GAMBOA! is off the July 25 pay-per-view, and the exciting featherweight was about the only reason to buy the damn thing. And I still wasn't going to buy it.
Middleweight prospect Daniel Jacobs is prolly gonna fight Ishe Smith on what is now a packed HBO tripleheader on Aug. 22. Smith will definitely be Jacobs' toughest opponent, even if he's more a junior middleweight.
With Abraham moving up to super middleweight, Sebastian Sylvester and Giovanni Lorenzo will fight for his vacant alphabet title belt Sept. 19. That one sounds like a good slugfest, but it'll be in Germany.
Cruiserweight Marco Huck has two different rumored next opponents for August, both of them intriguing: Ola Afolabi and Victor Ramirez.
(Round and Round sourcing: ESPN; Maxboxing; The Sun; BoxingScene; Fightnews)