When you think about light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, the first phrase that comes to mind is, no doubt, "fashion model." He's such a pretty boy, that one. So naturally he -- along with junior welterweight Amir Khan and amateur standout Roberto Cammarelle -- is now modeling Prada sunglasses. Usually, as Don Steinberg pointed out, a boxer wearing shades is trying to cover up a big old bruised eye, so it's an interesting choice by Prada, to say the least.
Let's take a brief sunny vacation from all the (attempted) philosophical talk yesterday about belts and resume that another day. We'll break it up for the time being by chatting about all the fights that aren't happening. Round and Round is a column that's usually about fights in the works, but there are a lot of fights not working out right now, goldarnit.
As always, sources are listed at the bottom of each post. I feel bad about not linking to each individual article, but it would take HOURS more to do that. Just tune in to those sources regularly, and if some particular item written about below interests you, you can track down more info via those fine publications by using Google searches with the appropriate boxer/pub names.
Oh, also, our Alex McClintock is in my lovely town. I hadn't met him before because he's always living in some foreign country, like Australia or Mexico. Turns out he's a cool dude in person, too. He and I and a few others will be at The Pug at 7:30 tonight, so if you're a D.C.-based TQBR reader, come join us. Alex' U.S. tour is on the verge of ending, so expect to see him returning to this blog on the regular very, very soon. No crappy boxing tattoo will be safe!
Round And Round
The September pay-per-view undercard for the welterweight headliner Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz is shaping up as a very good one. When the least desirable fight on the undercard is Saul Alvarez-Alfonso Gomez at 154 pounds, a fight that will almost single-handedly sell out one of the split-site venues, you're doing pretty well. How you feel about Erik Morales-Lucas Matthysse at 140 depends a fair amount on how much you think Matthysse is a threat to the health of old man Morales; yeah, he looked reinvigorated against Marcos Maidana, but Matthysse doesn't have some of the same flaws as Maidana and who knows how many performances like that Morales has left in him. But there should be no doubt it'll be a very serious action fight. Then, there's another good action fight candidate pitting hard-as-fuck junior welterweight Josesito Lopez taking on aggressive prospect Jessie Vargas in a substantial step up for the lad. That's just a good card. Pay-per-view shows take a lot of money out of fans' wallets. This should be one of those times where people will walk away feeling like they got their money's worth. I wouldn't be surprised if the show did very, very well in PPV sales, when you combine superstar Mayweather, the ever-more-popular Alvarez and two serious action bouts that'll have the hardcore fans salivating.
Speaking of "Canelo" Alvarez, the talk of a showdown sooner rather than later with fellow young Mexican megastar Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. does sound more and more likely to happen, probably at the beginning of 2012. Maybe it's all phony talk, but both promoters, Golden Boy and Top Rank, have spoken in very serious-sounding terms about wanting to make the fight and are actively discussing it. I support it wholeheartedly. The fight simply couldn't be bigger now than it already is; both of these guys are killing the ratings in Mexico and the United States. Strike while the iron's hot, and before one of them loses a fight he shouldn't. Chavez, by the way, is still going back and forth on taking a fight in September against Ronald Hearns before taking on Peter Manfredo, Jr. in November. I don't see Hearns as too risky, but Top Rank isn't thrilled at all with Chavez bucking their plans.
Bantamweight sensation Nonito Donaire says he's ready to return in the fall, but the question is against whom and whether it would be televised by anyone. ESPN's Dan Rafael keeps saying that he hears HBO has an option on Donaire's next fight and Showtime has an option on the winner of Abner Mares-Joseph Agbeko, so the best fight in the division isn't happening next and with all of those people talking about moving up to junior feather, we might not get a true bantam champion crowned at all. Anselmo Moreno just signed with Golden Boy and Golden Boy and Top Rank are being cordial, so that fight could still happen for Donaire. Vic Darchinyan is hovering around and taking a stay-busy fight back home, but he'd love to get in the mix for the winner of Mares-Agbeko to avenge two of his losses. I like that as a blueprint for if I was The God Of The Bantamweights: Donaire-Moreno, Darchinyan vs. the winner of Mares-Agbeko, then the winner of those two fights squaring off.
Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez is tied up for now with Darren Barker in October, but he's got some options after that worth looking at, perhaps. Martinez likes the idea of a rematch with Antonio Margarito if Margarito emerges victorious from Margarito-Miguel Cotto II, and a win in that fight would make Margarito viable again. I'd be surprised if Top Rank likes the idea of Margarito-Martinez II, though. Martinez' promoter, Lou DiBella, just signed Matthew Macklin, coming off his close, debatable loss to Felix Sturm. Macklin has a case for being the #1 challenger in the division, depending on how you saw the Sturm fight, which would make him among the most viable opponents Martinez could face. And Sturm-Macklin II doesn't look like an immediate option. Sturm's people said they made an offer and that they haven't heard back from Macklin, but Macklin said the offer was for the same money as last time plus Sturm's people would get three options on Macklin -- if that's true, I can't blame him for saying "no." Sturm's also being chased by Arthur Abraham. In that fight, two men would stare at each other with their gloves held up around their heads, only occasionally bothering to throw punches. In other words, the Germans would go CRAZY with love for that fight.
That leads us right into the small-r rematch section of Round And Round: Rematch #1 -- Celestino Caballero-Jonathan Barros II at featherweight has been ordered. Given the controversial outcome of that fight, this was a good call. Rematch #2: At welter, Selcuk Aydin-Jo Jo Dan II has been ordered. I wanted that rematch a while back, but given how long Aydin's been waiting for an overdue title shot, I'm not sure that's totally fair to him at this point. Rematch #3: Khan said he would consider facing Breidis Prescott again if he beats Paul McCloskey. That means Khan's next options now include Lamont Peterson, Erik Morales, Prescott, a move to welterweight or, as some are worried, nothing until 2012, given HBO's late-schedule budget woes.
Whew. That's a lot of rematches. But wait, there's more. Rematch #4: Antonio Tarver wants a second shot at Hopkins, but Hopkins, while willing, has his next two fights planned and both of these guys are old as the dickens. Tarver-Steve Cunningham is a more desirable fight at cruiserweight for me anyhow. Rematch #5: Top Rank is now confirming that we won't get Orlando Salido-Juan Manuel Lopez II until 2012, which is too bad. In the mean time, both guys will stay busy. Rematch #6: When Lopez fights next in October, he could have Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. on his undercard in an eliminator for the right to rematch Jorge Arce. I wish we could've just gone straight to Arce-Vazquez II, but Arce is looking for a different rematch first, cuz he wants to avenge his loss to Siphiwe Nongqayi.
Below is a video of one of the men who might next fight heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, Mariusz Wach. Pickings are thin these days in the division, man. That dude is slow as hell, almost as slow as Kevin McBride. But who's better that's willing? Chris Arreola (who's opponent-less for a tentative spot on a Sept. 19 card) and Tyson Fury (who's looking at Martin Rogan next) were on the target list but neither of them think they're quite ready, and it's hard to blame them. It was a pretty good knockout, Wach's, so you might as well check it out for at least that.
Despite a weird incident a couple weeks ago where cruiserweight Krzysztof Wloydarczyk apparently overdosed on antidepressents, Marco Huck's people still want to fight him next. Wlodarczyk is back in the gym already, reportedly. A few weeks ago, I would've loved to see the #2 and #3 cruisers meet in the ring, even if I would have prefered Cunningham-Huck II for the division championship. This all now makes me very uneasy.
After Kelly Pavlik's bizarre flameout -- all because, as he said in an interview, he trusted a man named "Tank" (joke h/t friend of the site WillFrank) when he uttered the "profanity" "asinine" (joke h/t friend of the site Eric Raskin) -- super middleweight Lucian Bute is without a fall opponent. The names on the list are Glen Johnson, who's interested; Peter Quillin, who's not interested because he wants to stay at 160 pounds; Dmitry Pirog, another middleweight; and Andre Dirrell, who's spoken of wanting to face Bute at some point. They're all interesting opponents. If Dirrell is healthy, I think he'd be the biggest threat. I'm not saying I'm eager to see Dirrell again after his own bizarre behavior in pulling out of the Super Six tournament, but that's the most compelling match-up on paper.
Lightweight Brandon Rios says he wants a slice of Khan or Timothy Bradley at junior welterweight. I'm not sure either guy will still be there by the time Rios arrives, but FWIW, I like both fights. I also like Rios for wanting them.
Jean Pascal's next move is totally up in the air. He isn't interested a proposed light heavyweight tournament proposed by a member of the alphabet gang. It looked like that meant he'd go to a fight with Zsolt Erdei directly, to air on Epix, but now, maybe not. His team's reportedly still in talks with Tavoris Cloud, but word is that Cloud's promoter Don King wanted options on Pascal, something he was in no position to want. Lately, the talk seems to have moved to a bout with Beibut Shumenov, a good action fight if not the opponent I wanted for Shumenov next. That man -- Gabriel Campillo -- is headed toward a title eliminator against Karo Murat that would put the winner in position to face Cloud. At least it's something for Campillo, the man on the wrong end of one of 2010's worst robberies, against Shumenov. (Murat beat Campillo in 2008, as it happens, but I think their fortunes have reversed since then.)
Junior middleweight Pawel Wolak now wants to fight everyone, it seems, except Delvin Rodriguez for the second time. Yeah, Wolak's a bad ass, but I don't like him ducking that rematch the way he seems to be. He might fight Jesus Soto Karass next, and he is yapping at Cornelius Bundrage. Bundrage is yapping about everybody, too, like Shane Mosley, although he might end up with Ricardo Mayorga. Also in the junior middle ranks, Serhiy Dzinziruk and his unfathomable comeback guarantee from HBO had been looking at a fight with Erislandy Lara, but Dzinziruk's people want a lot of money, which is just piling weird demand upon weird demand. Lara does deserve another big fight from HBO, though, of the two of them, since he was the de facto winner against Paul Williams.
For all the yapping they did, Devon Alexander and Paulie Malignaggi won't be fighting each other next at welterweight. Malignaggi says he's fighting someone else but hasn't said who that is. Alexander still wants the Malignaggi fight but might be left with someone else, like, say, Sebastian Lujan, and then is talking about taking on Andre Berto down the line, too. He's also declared himself a promotional free agent from Mr. King.
At junior lightweight, Adrien Broner is in line to be the next opponent for Ricky Burns. That fight, for me, boils down to whether Broner throws enough punches. He wasn't pulling the trigger against Daniel Ponce De Leon, and took two minutes to do the same against Jason Litzau, and Burns is the kind of guy who might just flat outwork Broner despite a big difference in their levels of physical talent.
With the Mike Jones chase apparently over, Kell Brook might take his next fight against Rafal Jackiewicz, who was in three close fights with Delvin Rodriguez (once) and Jan Zaveck (twice). It's a natural next step.
American heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell has settled on Mike Mollo as his Aug. 27 opponent. From the standpoint of career progression, that makes sense. From the standpoint of a televisable HBO fight, there were better options available. HBO is reportedly not interested in televising Mitchell-Mollo; I hope they stick to their guns.
Middleweight prospect Thomas Oosthuizen gets a real step-up opponent next month when he takes on Aaron Pryor Jr., whose reputation is as good as it's ever been right now. I haven't seen much of Oosthuizen, but we'll learn something about him in that fight.
Billy Dib won his fight last weekend, so he's looking ahead to what's next, and likes the idea of going after Chris John. Considering that John has abandoned his U.S. barnstorming tour in favor of the more comfortable and profitable climes of Indonesia, Dib is just a skip away in Australia, so maybe that's about as doable a real fight as John will have anytime soon.
(Sources: BoxingScene; ESPN; RingTV; boxers onTwitter; news releases)