While we’re all catching our breath following the wrap-up to a stellar 2007 for boxing and getting ready for a Christmastime largely free of professional punching-in-the-face, please consider the following “Quick Jabs”:
- Tonight’s Vs. card pitting welterweight (147 lbs.) contender Joshua Clottey against unproven but undefeated Shamone Alvarez is about the last important fight on the 2007 ledger. It’s a title eliminator giving the winner a chance to take on belt-holder Kermit Cintron, but it’s important more because it’s the prelude to a prelude: If Clottey wins, he probably gets a shot in March at burgeoning star Miguel Cotto. Planned for that same March card is Antonio Margarito against somebody, perhaps Jose Luis Castillo, perhaps Zab Judah, perhaps who-knows. If both Cotto and Margarito win, they could meet in the summer in what would surely be a barnburner of a fight. This is all very hypothetical, and depends on a lot of “what ifs.” Clottey could lose tonight, although I doubt it. But Clottey’s already showed he’s a potential spoiler after nearly defeating Margarito earlier this year, so don’t think a Cotto win over Clottey is automatic. He’s tough, he hits hard and he’s got boxing skills and a tight defense. Margarito would make chop suey out of an over-the-hill Castillo, so HBO won’t want that fight. Judah? I’d strongly favor Margarito to beat him, but Judah’s speed and power are such that if Clottey could rock Margarito, so could Judah, probably. And then there’s the fact that none of those fights will happen if Cotto gets a date with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya. Honestly, I’d take Cotto-Mayweather over any fight in boxing, and if the leftovers are Clottey versus Cintron, that ain’t half bad, either. In other welterweight news: As my esteemed colleague Sean foretold, Paul Williams and Carlos Quintana are now scheduled to fight in February.
- About the only other fight of note on the 2007 ledger is cruiserweight (200 lbs.) Steve Cunningham taking on Marco Huck Dec. 29. It’s a match-up of top 10 cruiserweights, but my only real interest in it is no longer having to look at the picture of Cunningham’s grotesque physique they keep running at boxingtalk.com. Seriously, there’s something really unsettling about it. He looks like something out of an H.R. Giger painting.
- As feared, the villainous Don King has succeeded — at least for now — in scuttling an early 2008 candidate for “fight of the year” between lightweights (135 lbs.) Juan “The Baby Bull” Diaz and Michael Katsidis. I won’t belabor the points I’ve made many times previously about the evil of King throwing up legal roadblocks. The important thing is we may yet get a couple good fights out of this. There’s talk of Katsidis taking on Joel Casamayor, which is a meaningful bout even if Casamayor doesn’t deserve his Ring Magazine belt. And Diaz could end up fighting Nate Campbell, probably a pretty good scrap. (Both of those possibilities were discussed at the aforementioned boxingtalk.com.)
- If ever there was cause to worry that the live fast/die hard lifestyle of the terrifically entertaining Manny Pacquiao could catch up to him in the ring, it’s right now, a few months before he takes on his most significant opponent in more than a year, fellow junior lightweight Juan Manuel Marquez (130 lbs.). Honestly? I don’t think Pacquiao’s heart is in boxing these days. His distractions are numerous and well-documented. He should have blown through a tentative Marco Antonio Barrera in his most recent fight, but instead he looked kind of average. He had trouble getting down to the weight limit. And things have gotten bad enough that Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, recently visited the Philippines to chat about his focus (albeit with an emphasis on the business end of matters). Marquez may be older than he was in 2004 when he fought Pacquiao to a draw; Pacquiao may be better than he was in 2004; but the Marquez I’ve seen in recent fights is better than any previous version, and I simply can’t imagine an unfocused Pacquiao being good enough to beat him.
- Forgive me if I’m late to the story, but it looks like Erik Morales is becoming the latest boxer to transition to professional wrestling. Unlike Joe Louis or Mike Tyson or the lug from “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” though, he’s just promoting, not actually performing suplexes. I hope he sticks to it; word is his show last week in Mexico was a smash. This talk of him returning to boxing despite a ringing in his head is frightening. In other life-after-boxing news, Lennox Lewis is going to be a contestant on a celebrity edition of “The Apprentice.” Donald Trump said he had “great mental strength,” which must mean that Trump has never heard Lewis’ rudimentary and often just plain wrong ringside musings.