There are any number of horrendously bad fights in the works, as you might begin to ascertain from the headline, but there are also some good ones. Consider:
Round And Round
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is in the news for stuff other than which woman or security guard he allegedly beat up this week, which I would assume counts as progress, except:
A. There are extensive reports that he plans to take a July fight with Paul Spadafora, although none of the information comes from Mayweather’s camp that I’ve seen, at least on the record. On one level, I get it: Mayweather’s been out of the ring for a while, almost a year, and under those circumstances an interim fight makes a certain amount of sense; Spadafora years ago got the better of Mayweather in sparring, when they were both lightweights (both are now welterweights) so there’s an “angle” on the fight; and Spadafora, like Manny Pacquiao, is a southpaw, so he could serve as practice. On the other level, I’m willing to bet it’s just another Mayweather con — he’d fight Spadafora and hype it as a pre-Pacquiao fight, then take some money and go back to not fighting Pacquiao for one reason or the other (unless Pacquiao has trouble against Shane Mosley).
B. Top Rank’s Bob Arum said this past week that Mayweather wanted $100 million for the Pacquiao fight, and got the slightest bit of corroborating support from a video on YouTube where Floyd’s trainer/uncle Roger cited that same figure. This is concrete proof of nothing, and maybe it’s just an opening negotiating stance or something. Whatever the motive or truthfulness, it’s not even a remotely credible thing to seek under any circumstances, and at worst, is evidence (as if we needed anymore) that Floyd has no interest in fighting Manny. One more noteworthy thing: Recent reports involving Mayweather make mention of Don King doing some work on his behalf, so maybe we’re getting closer to that marriage actually coming to fruition.
All indicators point to Lou DiBella wanting to put two of his guys in together in July, middleweight champ Sergio Martinez and Peter Manfredo, Jr. The argument goes that Manfredo would sell tickets up in the Northeast where Martinez has no track record of U.S. ticket sales, and that Martinez needs an easier fight after running the gauntlet lately, neither of which I would dispute. And as I mentioned the other day, this isn’t a situation where Manfredo would be angry about being in that fight — he’d get a big payday. That’s not the same as saying I want to see the thing. Manfredo’s track record against elite guys isn’t good, and while I generally enjoy watching him fight, this is just about as one-sided a bout as I can imagine. It’s also an open question whether HBO would approve this bout. I’m not of the mind they need to insist on Martinez being in a crazy-hard fight, but I’m thinking Manfredo as an opponent sets the bar too low. HBO’s Kery Davis wouldn’t discuss the terms of the network’s deal with Martinez when I asked him about it a couple weeks back (he said it’s a matter of policy at the network), so I’m not sure what happens here if HBO says “no” to Martinez-Manfredo and DiBella tries to take it elsewhere. Maybe the fight can be made more appetizing to HBO with the potential undercard bout that would be a rematch between middleweights Andy Lee and Brian Vera, an idea that’s been bandied about. Alternately: DiBella said he’d reached out to Felix Sturm’s team. That figures as a virtual replay of Martinez-Serhiy Dzinziruk, since Sturm and Dzinziruk are one-dimensional jabbers, but it’s the far more significant fight, since Sturm is one of the top 160-pounders.
This week it became slightly more likely that — although the plan is still for heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko to fight David Haye this summer — big brother Vitali, per the contract, could step in for an injured Wladimir. The reason is because Wlad made a point of saying he is still recovering from an injury. It’s a weird deal Haye’s entered into, given his past objections to contract terms from the Klitschkos, and he is in the peculiar position of deciding whether to prepare to fight only one or both fundamentally similar brothers who are nonetheless different in some significant ways.
Junior middleweight Saul Alvarez continues to inch up his competition, with Ryan Rhodes his likely next opponent June 18. Rhodes is, as of now, a legit top-10 154-pounder who’s only recently removed from a very important win over Jaimie Moore. He’s a bit on the older side but he’s not like some of the very old, faded guys Alvarez has faced — and he’s the same size. Nor would anybody call Rhodes “fast,” and we’ve yet to see how Alvarez would fare against a quick, legitimate guy his own age and size. Rhodes is, however, slicker and quicker of foot than any opponent I can think of in Alvarez’ recent record. Ultimately, it’s progress. It is, in fact, a legitimate fight in every way.
Golden Boy keeps trying to beef up the April 9 pay-per-view card headlined by the very ugly-sounding bout between junior welterweight Marcos Maidana and Erik Morales, but I’m afraid what they’ve offered isn’t going to cut it. There’s one good fight on the card, a lightweight bout between Robert Guerrero and Michael Katsidis, whose cut will not lead to the postponement of the fight, per Katsidis. The main event is very nearly — if it isn’t — a travesty. Matthew Macklin-Winky Wright, a legitimate middleweight bout that wasn’t all that appealing, departed when Wright pulled out. Instead, in comes Paulie Malignaggi-Jose Cotto, which is a potentially competitive bout for two guys who have aspirations at welterweight but are fringe-y, and Robert Garcia-Nate Campbell, a junior welterweight bout between and up-and-comer and a recently retired and badly diminished lightweight that turns me off. I might still buy the card because of Guerrero-Katsidis and out of a sense that we should have some coverage of it here and because the alternative that weekend is Tomasz Adamek-Kevin McBride, which turns me off a good deal, too. But I have serious misgivings about Maidana-Morales and, to a lesser extent, Garcia-Campbell.
Let’s talk some Brits, because they’ve got some good things going on in the U.K. right now. Four younger fighters are looking likely to face off in risky, appealing bouts. One is a hotly-anticipated prospect vs. prospect match-up between super middleweights James DeGale and George Groves May 21. Another is a British heavyweight bout between Derek Chisora and Tyson Fury, pending a purse bid. And even Macklin got himself a legit fight against Khoren Gevor April 16. Here’s a recent photo of Tyson Fury, passed along to me via our Corey Erdman. I have no explanation for what’s going on in said picture, and maybe I’m better off if I don’t.
There’s something of a legit contender vs. old person renaissance going on in the cruiserweight division. First, Roy Jones has signed to face Denis Lebedev, as expected. Next, Danny Green is maybe going to fight Antonio Tarver, a fight that once fell through. Fortunately, Giacobbe Fragomeni pulled out of the Marco Huck fight to prevent the hat trick.
Hey, look, a useful fight on Solo Boxeo Tecate! TeleFutura is set to air a super middleweight bout between Jesse Brinkley –hard-nosed overachiever — and Peter Quillin — once-hot prospect who’s lost his buzz — on April 29. I like this fight. If the program could do stuff like this more regularly, it might be worth it for me to change my television package.
Light heavyweight Chad Dawson was looking at two opponents for the May undercard rematch between division champ Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins: Librado Andrade and Adrian Diaconu. They are similar fighters in significant ways, what with both liking to pressure to make up for a lack of speed, but I happen to think Andrade’s the tougher out. Too bad about Dawson ending up with Diaconu. Still, it’s not a terrible bout coming off Dawson’s first loss.
Sebastian Sylvester and Daniel Geale has gotten more firm for May 7. It’s another bout of two top-10 middleweights, who seem to be fighting each other a fair amount.
A couple bouts involving prospects: Junior welterweight Tim Coleman is lining up a fight against Victor Cayo on April 29, who, despite his loss to Maidana isn’t a bad fighter and represents a big step up for my fellow Tim, while Coleman-Cayo represents yet another good ESPN2 fight this season; and Sharif Bogere was set to face fellow lightweight prospect John Molina in May, but at least one report has that bout “off.”
(Round and Round sources [which sometimes, by the way, include where I first saw the information, even if it was a second hand report]: ESPN; BoxingScene; MaxBoxing; Sky Sports; FightHype; The Sweet Science; Bad Left Hook; various journalists on Twitter who write for the aforementioned publications)