This Week's Boxing Notebook

April 25, 2009

This past week produced some interesting stories in the world of the sweet science, ranging from breakups, to ring returns, to a fond farewell, and finally, to some boxing. Here are the top happenings surrounding today's fight game:

Pacquiao Versus Hatton

With only a week to go until this year's highly-anticipated superfight, and with the MGM Grand already sold out, expectations for this fight are understandably high. The hoopla surrounding this mega-event is already at a fever pitch, as both men are international superstars in their respective primes. Throw in the added exposure generated by the magnificent HBO "24/7" series previewing the fight, and it becomes clear why the fight is such a talked about event.

In fact, expectations have climbed so high for the "Battle of East versus West," that co-promoters Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions have openly stated that they expect this fight to challenge the record number of pay-per-view buys from the Floyd Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya fight in May 2007.

Golden Boy Says Goodbye

Speaking of the Golden Boy, there has been much talk regarding his boxing legacy since he announced his retirement from the sport last week.

Some will claim that De La Hoya, with his matinee-idol looks and mega-watt smile, was all style and little, if any, substance. Those same naysayers will argue that Oscar came along at the perfect time, when fight fans were thirsty for somebody other than the maniacal Mike Tyson to become the face of boxing. These doubters have even suggested that Oscar was boxing's version of Alex Rodriguez, he of the impressive numbers from April-August, but the postseason disappearing act.

Such attempts at discrediting the legacy of the Golden Boy are quite flawed, to say the least.

Although there is some validity to the complaint that Oscar came up short in his biggest fights, he often was unfairly judged by fans and fighters alike. Oscar was the victim of two atrocious decisions which hurt his official record -- his rematch "loss" to Shane Mosley and his "loss" to Felix Trinidad. In addition, he was not given enough credit when he did come through against top opposition, such as with his gutsy decision win over a game and prime Ike "Bazooka" Quartey. In fact, the Trinidad fight itself provided further proof of Oscar's elite ability, as he executed a dissection of a then undefeated Trinidad through the first nine rounds of their fight.

But to properly assess his legacy, one must understand that his impact transcended any accomplishment he might have had inside the ring.

During the mid to late-90's, De La Hoya probably saved the sport by making it more marketable to the mainstream. He brought throngs of screaming females to fights that probably never would have previously had any desire to watch the sport.

More importantly, he used his sharp business acumen not only for his own financial benefit, but also to empower numerous other fighters. By conquering the financial side of the sport with his Golden Boy Promotions, Oscar has limited the influence of the manipulators and shady characters that populate the fight game.

Because of these accomplishments both in and out of the ring, cheers and congratulations go out to the Golden Boy for his amazing career. And here's hoping that in his second act as a promoter he will be able to use his considerable clout to rid us of the "Alphabet Soup" sanctioning bodies that have discredited the sport for too long.

The Return of Floyd Mayweather

I wonder if anyone saw this coming?

Floyd Mayweather Jr., the former pound-for-pound king, recently decided to end his year-long retirement and begin fielding offers for a comeback fight.

This came as no surprise to fight fans, as most knew it was more a question of when, rather than if, "Money" Mayweather would return to the ring.

Following his dominant victory over Ricky Hatton in December of 2007, Floyd stated that he simply felt he had nothing left to prove in the fight game. At the time, he had spent the better part of 25 years perfecting his craft, and simply wanted time off to rest and re-evaluate his goals in life.

Now over a year later, the undefeated former welterweight champ is apparently rested, rejuvenated, and ready to focus on achieving boxing immortality.

Moreover, he remains as confident in his immaculate skills as ever, as he is reportedly in serious negotiations to return to the ring against pound-for-pound contender Juan Manuel Marquez.

A Marquez matchup would be a very dangerous fight for Mayweather, considering that Marquez has fought Manny Pacquiao on virtually even terms in their two prior fights. By taking on such an opponent, Floyd would show the boxing world that, at age 32, he is finally serious about challenging himself and solidifying his legacy as an all-time great.

With Mayweather, whomever he decides to fight, one thing is certain -- it will be interesting.

Which brings us to the next rumor buzzing around the boxing world...

An Insane Marriage

Over the past week it has been rumored that the aforementioned Mayweather is seriously considering signing a promotional agreement with none other than the infamous Don King.

I'll wait while you re-read that last sentence once more.

We could be on the cusp of witnessing a potential partnership pairing the boxer known for flaunting his cash inside the Vegas casinos, and the promoter with the fantastically frizzed-out follicles known for declaring "Only in America!"

Quite honestly, I am not sure what to say about this one, as these two larger-than-life personalities could either be a match made in heaven, or in hell.

One can only imagine the type of bombastic proclamations and shenanigans that would take place at future press conferences with these two, as each man probably would duel over who could get in the last word.

Here's hoping that we eventually get to see this duo together. When one considers that Uncle Roger and Big Floyd also could get thrown into the mix, the comedic possibilities truly could become endless.

Finally, An Exciting Heavyweight Title Fight

For the first time since the retirement of Lennox Lewis, we have a legitimately intriguing heavyweight fight looming on the horizon, as former cruiserweight champ David Haye of the U.K., will step up to challenge reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko in Germany on June 20, 2009.

Although he only has one heavyweight fight under his belt, Haye already has been confidently promising to knock out both Wladimir and his older brother Vitali. The outspoken Haye has even gone so far as to sport a t-shirt depicting the decapitated heads of both Klitschko brothers at one of the pressers for the upcoming June fight.

Needless to say, Wladimir was not very amused. After chastising the 28 year-old Haye for "not being a sportsman," Klitschko promised not only to "punish" the former cruiserweight champ, but also to rid boxing of such an "embarrassment."

One gets the distinct impression that the two men have some very real disdain for one another, and that they each may have underestimated their opponent's skills in the ring. Even if it is all just good marketing to help sell the fight, one cannot help but think that a matchup pitting two athletic and powerful punchers with suspect chins, should produce some excitement for however long it lasts.

As hard as it is to believe, this matchup is shaping up to be the very rarest of things -- a genuinely exciting heavyweight fight.

Cotto Family Feud

After years of shooting down speculation of a growing rift, the other shoe finally dropped, as Miguel Cotto decided to relieve his uncle Evangelista of his duties as head trainer. The decision came after the two men allegedly came to blows and had to be separated following a heated argument over Miguel's future fight plans and career.

The long-simmering feud exploded earlier this month when the two exchanged blows at Cotto's hometown gym in Caguas, Puerto Rico, and then later near Cotto's home. At the home, Uncle Evangelista allegedly threw a concrete brick through a car window, damaging the former welterweight champ's 2009 Jaguar.

The turmoil certainly could not have come at a worse time for Cotto, who in addition to preparing for a tough June 13 fight against the criminally underrated Joshua Clottey, is still dealing with the psychological blow of losing to the likely cement-wrapped hands of Antonio Margarito.

Now Cotto will be fighting without his uncle in his corner for the first time in 18 years. Evangelista's replacement is Joe Santiago, who although familiar with Cotto and his camp, has never before had the responsibility of being a head man and formulating a fight plan.

Despite the turmoil, Cotto allegedly rebuffed his promoter Bob Arum when Arum attempted to postpone the fight. Cotto has allegedly insisted to all within his inner circle that the change has been a long time coming, and that he was more focused than ever after ridding himself of his distracting uncle.

Although Cotto must be commended for not taking the easy way out and rescheduling his fight amid the turmoil, his bravery once again could prove to be his detriment.

In any event, the the fight on June 13 promises to be a great one, that fans of the sweet science certainly do not want to miss.

Jermain Taylor Takes on Another Tough Test

After losing twice to middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, many wondered what was next for Jermain Taylor. Once considered to be the face of boxing on HBO, Taylor reacted to his losses by logically jumping up to arguably the deepest and most talent-laden weight class in boxing -- the super middleweight division.

After winning his first fight at 168 pounds in a moderately impressive fashion against a shot Jeff Lacy, Taylor now faces a very stern test tonight in WBC champion Carl Froch from the U.K.

Although he is still a little known commodity to most U.S. fight fans, the British boxer is rugged and determined, as evidenced by his last fight -- a hard-fought unanimous decision over the previously-unbeaten Jean Pascal from Montreal. In defeating Pascal in a fight of the year candidate, Froch not only showed boxing skills and underrated defense, but also a dogged determination.

No stranger himself to tough title fights, Taylor will be looking to show that he is a worthy contender for a title shot at 168.

He will certainly have to prove it the hard way, as the undefeated Froch is a durable fighter who has never been knocked down in his career.

Despite Taylor's early reputation as a fearsome puncher with "Bad Intentions," Jermain has recently failed to show the vaunted punching power that made him such a hot prospect and darling of HBO. His last recorded KO victory was back in 2005.

Although it is doubtful that Taylor will stop the resilient Froch inside the distance, he has without question fought the better competition over the course of his career.

All of these factors should add up to make for a competitive, back-and-forth battle tonight.

Prediction: Despite eating quite a few big shots early, Little Rock's Taylor weathers the storm and emerges victorious via a razor-thin split decision victory in a give-and-take battle.

The win should put Taylor in line for another fight against one of the talented boxers within the division, such as the enigmatic Allan Green. Green will be fighting on the undercard of the same Showtime event tonight.

A Star is Born

HBO Sports will also be putting on an impressive card tonight featuring a main event that pits the prototypical hungry young bull on the rise against an old lion hoping to win another big fight. The bull in this case is undefeated 120-pound titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez, while the lion is wily Filipino veteran "Fearless" Gerry Penalosa.

Lopez (24-0, 22 KO) scored a stunning first-round KO victory over Daniel Ponce de Leon in his HBO debut fight, and now will be looking to add another known veteran fighter to his list of KO victims. However, Penalosa (54-6-2, 36 KO) is no cupcake, as he has never been stopped inside the distance in his 55-fight pro career.

Nevertheless, Lopez' speed, aggression, and power, will likely overwhelm the proud Penalosa before all is said and done.

With a convincing win, Lopez will strengthen his argument to be included in the pound-for-pound discussion.

The Return of Hawaiian Punch

After a meteoric rise that saw him go undefeated in his first 21 professional fights, former WBC Light Flyweight champion and Hawaiian sensation Brian Viloria suffered a decision loss to Omar Nino Romero in 2006, derailing his career.

The rematch with Romero produced a majority draw, denying Viloria his title once more. Viloria was again thwarted in his quest to regain the title when he lost another tough decision, this time at the hands of Edgar Sosa.

It was said that Viloria, one of the true gentlemen in the sport, lacked the mental toughness to grind out big wins in tough fights. Some even wondered aloud whether Viloria should retire from the sport altogether.

Undeterred, the man affectionately known as "Hawaiian Punch" kept believing, and after reeling off 5 straight wins, finally got another shot. This time he made the most of it, stopping IBF Jr. Flyweight champion Ulises Solis via an 11th round KO last week.

One can only hope that this impressive victory will lead to more big-money fights and respect for the former U.S. Olympian.

Trouble for James Kirkland

In a story of cruel irony and unfortunate judgment, we may have seen yet another promising boxing career derailed before it even had a chance to get off the ground. Fight fans have been saddened to hear that rising Jr. Middleweight prospect James Kirkland was arrested after he was allegedly found to be in possession of a firearm during a traffic stop in his native Austin, Texas.

Kirkland, an undefeated (25-0, 22 KO) prospect considered by many to be on a can't-miss path to a title shot in the near future, was scheduled to fight Michael Walker on the undercard of the Pacquaio-Hatton matchup next week.

However, as a result of his arrest, Kirkland -- who had previously served about two years behind bars for an armed robbery conviction -- possibly could have violated the terms of his parole. As a result, his once bright future is now quite cloudy.

Holt Cops Plea in Money-Laundering Case

Continuing with the unfortunate news, reports out of New Jersey last week had former WBO Jr. Welterweight champion Kendall Holt pleading guilty to money laundering charges in his home state.

This came after Holt admitted in sworn testimony to having transported and delivered illicit funds for his manager Henry Cortes in 2007 and 2008. Holt, 27, was just coming off a tough decision loss to Palm Spring's Timothy Bradley in a 140-pound unification fight earlier this month.

At the present time, it is still unclear whether Holt would serve any jail time, or if he would be given the option of entering an intervention program.

Sad news indeed.

Here's hoping that for once, both of these terrible stories involving good young fighters, will conclude with a happy ending.

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...