We'll have thoughts tomorrow on tonight's action and last night's, but fights in the works are like plaque that build up and build up if you don't address them. We're nearing gum disease level, so let's do some brushing.
Besides the men in the headline, we've also got some Floyd Mayweather (don't we always?) and some Nonito Donaire (don't we always?) and some Zou Shiming (which we never do) and some others (as always).
We even mention one of the men fighting tonight — Lucas Matthysse — with the match-ups conditional, of course, on him winning this evening.
Middleweight Gennady Golovkin's latest TV ratings are in, and they'e simultaneously A. better than last time; B. better than anyone else on the same card; and C. still pretty low by just about any standard. Per Steve Kim on Twitter, he did 813,000 viewers last weekend against Gabriel Rosado, and it's a good enough number based on where he's at, at least compared to the other folk on the same card and how low his viewership was last time (685,000). But for the last full year in which I have figures for HBO's ratings for Boxing After Dark, 2011, it's lower than 17 of the 23 fights, and about 200,000 viewers below that year's average BAD fight. Our friend Matthew Paras has indicated that the back half of 2012 had low ratings for HBO, so maybe Golovkin-Rosado was better compared to 2012 figures. But why are we talking about this in Round And Round?
Lou DiBella, promoter of middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, is dismissing the notion of Martinez fighting Golovkin because Golovkin isn't a "big" fighter, in essence. This is the same Lou DiBella who kept shouting for a fight between Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. despite Martinez not being in the same ballpark as an attraction as Chavez. It's a double standard. It's basically the same deal; contrary to what Kim said, Martinez always has done significantly better numbers than Golovkin (he averaged about a bit more than a million for his post-Paul Williams/pre-Chavez fights) in the same way that Chavez has always done significantly better numbers than Martinez (Chavez, pre-Martinez, was doing 1.4 million plus). Whether you think HBO should be investing money in a non-star like Golovkin as opposed to Martinez is, really, a matter of taste, but the math has always favored Martinez and the investment eventually paid off when he became a pay-per-view worthy opponent for Chavez. I've noticed people interpret the numbers the way they want to based on whether they like someone or not, and I doubt we'll see any big complaints tonight about Showtime's ratings for the Matthysse fight because of it, as Kory Kitchen suggested on Twitter. I think HBO's investment in Golovkin (which is a smaller cash figure so far than what they were giving Martinez post-Williams) is probably worth it, too. If I'm Golovkin's people and I want the Martinez fight, I do exactly what Martinez's team did: Keep shouting for the fight and keep being on HBO until demand builds. Right now, Golovkin has a competitive argument for getting the fight the same way Martinez did for Chavez, but competitive merit isn't always enough in boxing. Martinez will probably rematch Chavez — who's being advised by the WBC's Jose Sulaiman to get a new trainer, which is odd on one level for a sanctioning outfit to be giving career advice, but don't forget Chavez is Sulaiman's godson — later this year, so Martinez-Golovkin might be a bit down the road under any circumstances.
There had been reports floating about that the Mayweather-Robert Guerrero welterweight showdown being finalized for May, and then Mayweather said it hasn't been yet, and then Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer said they're trying to wrap up a deal whereby he fights junior middleweight Canelo Alvarez next in September. Alvarez, for his part, still expect to fight Austin Trout next before a Mayweather bout, which I bet Golden Boy is trying to talk him out of in a major way because Trout is a handful and they don't want to spoil a bigger money bout.
Golden Boy is also trying to engineer a few other fights to go the way they want them to go rather than the way their fighters want them to go. The aforementioned Matthysse wants a showdown with Danny Garcia, which would pit the Transnational Boxing Rankings' #1 junior welterweight against its #2 and crown a champ, not to mention that it's a very nice bout in every other way. Alternately, Matthysse wants Brandon Rios, which is an even better fight but will not happen because Rios is with Golden Boy rival Top Rank. Golden Boy Promotions is instead trying to steer Matthysse toward welterweight Marcos Maidana, but Maidana is opposed to that fight. GBP also was trying to steer welterweight Paulie Malignaggi toward Shane Mosley, but Malignaggi essentially priced himself out of that fight, which marks the first time I've ever been glad that a fighter priced himself out of a fight. Now Golden Boy wants Malignaggi to fight Andre Berto, only Malignaggi wants to fight Maidana, and while Maidana is game, the fight he really wants is a rematch with Amir Khan; Khan, meanwhile, will not be fighting Humberto Soto, GBP said, contrary to reports otherwise. What a mess, huh? Strangely enough I'm cool with most any combination of these fights so long as the badly faded Mosley's out of the mix.
GBP's $3 million offer to Top Rank for Nonito Donaire-Abner Mares was always mere showmanship, and as such has largely been scoffed at by everyone. The main party acting in good faith here on behalf of the best fight at junior featherweight is Mares' manager Frank Espinoza, who is on good terms with both sides, although GBP seems bitter about him trying to negotiate a bout. I would expect Donaire-Guillermo Rigondeaux instead, or something worse.
Let's turn our attention to some big men. Heavyweight Dereck Chisora hopes to regain his license and fight again in March, and if he wins he could get a rematch with Robert Helenius, which I'd love to see because he deserved to beat him the first time. At cruiserweight, we could finally get Guillermo Jones-Denis Lebedev after a February purse bid. Jones is frustrating but that's a good fight and I'd like to see it happen.
Let's talk about some very little men: One of the sanctioning outfits is ordering Roman Gonzalez-Kazuto Ioka at junior flyweight, to which I say "Hell yes." Denver Cuello and Xiong Zhao Zhong could also meet in a battle of borderline top 10 minimumweights, which makes some sense. Top Rank will also begin promoting Chinese amateur star/junior flyweight Zou Shiming, but I don't think they'll be at it long — he was very vulnerable in the Olympics this year and a little fighter starting his pro career at 30 when a lot of little fighters are already retired… I don't think it's a winning formula. But it won't be bad for the sport's profile to have him going pro.
Orlando Salido wants to move up to 130 pounds and face Rocky Martinez, which is a very nice action fight if it happens. I still want Martinez and Juan Carlos Burgos to rematch because of that bad draw, but if it waits one action fight later I won't be too upset.
Who loves bantamweights? Joseph Agbeko said he's up for a bout against Alexander Bakhtin, and after being out of the ring so long, I wouldn't be surprised if he was happy to fight a pork chop for money. But Agbeko-Bakhtin is a nice little bout. Also, Cesar Seda is talking up a fight with Leo Santa Cruz, which is a basically defensible bout, although he also would be interested in facing Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (also defensible) and Abner Mares (good luck on that one, boss).
Welterweight Jessie Vargas could face Wale Omotoso on March 30 on the undercard of Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado II, which is a decent bout but so far the Vargas/Top Rank alliance hasn't produced big gains for him. Also at welterweight, Lee Purdy is going to fight Carson Jones March 9 and is talking about beating him up, but I think he's in for a rude awakening.
Featherweight Billy Dib ain't always as boring to watch as he was in his one HBO appearance, so I'm not disinterested in him facing Luis Franco March 1 on ESPN2. I think it's a decent match-up, actually. But first impressions are lasting ones sometimes, so most people are not at all pleased by the notion of Dib appearing on U.S. TV again.
(Round And Round sources: BoxingScene; ESPN; The London Telegraph; Maxboxing)