The September 13 head-to-head between Showtime Championship Boxing and HBO pay-per-view is a pretty legitimate question. You have to ask yourself, "Do I want to pay 40-50 bucks to see Joel Casamayor and Juan Manuel Marquez, or does Nate Campbell-Joan Guzman stack up just as well?"
The HBO undercard is offering a rematch between 154-pound titleholder Sergio Mora and Vernon Forrest, while Showtime is offering a 140-pound title bout between Timothy Bradley and Edner Cherry.
The Showtime card also has finally landed a home, at the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Miss.
What pains me is that I think I'll wind up paying the money for the Casamayor-Marquez card, because I think that main event could be fantastic, and I have the gut feeling that Guzman is going to box circles around Campbell, who put in a career-best performance and was aided by a horrible opposing cutman when he beat Juan Diaz in March. The difference between Diaz and Guzman is huge; Campbell was able to stand and trade with the volume-punching Diaz, but Guzman won't let him do that. As far as pure boxers go, Joan is among the best in the business.
Mora-Forrest II is a rematch of a bad fight, while Bradley-Cherry is just not that interesting. I like Edner Cherry, but I don't think Bradley will have a whole lot of trouble with him. Cherry's a tough guy and a good fighter, but Bradley's got natural ability that just dwarfs Edner's. The Malignaggi-Cherry fight is still too fresh in my mind.
Casa-JMM seems like the type of fight that I'll be sorry if I miss, a fight that could easily be a war, easily be a great showcase of two tremendous pure boxers, and almost certainly won't be bad. Marquez's aggressive nature the last few years will press Casamayor into action. Plus, Joel is fighting for more paydays now. If he beats Marquez, there's an outside shot he could land a fight with Pacquiao down the line, or step up and fight Hatton or something of that nature. A loss really hurts his marketability.
The best 135-pound fight on the docket, though, is the Juan Diaz-Michael Katsidis scrap planned for September 6 on Boxing After Dark.
Each one of Katsidis' last three fights (Earl, Amonsot, Casamayor) have been Fight of the Year contenders. In fact, I'd put Casamayor-Katsidis over the Cotto-Margarito fight in my race (right now the top four are Vazquez-Marquez III, Marquez-Pacquiao II, Casamayor-Katsidis and Cotto-Margarito).
This fight was rumored last year, was rumored for February/March of this year, and now after both men have suffered their first career losses, they'll tangle in Diaz's hometown of Houston. I don't think the home field advantage will help Juan much because I don't think Katsidis is the type of fighter to care where he's at. He could fight Diaz in Juan's parents' basement and I think it'd all look pretty much the same as it would anywhere else on the planet. Katsidis is going to come forward and try to knock Diaz out.
And Diaz, lest we forget, is a tremendous pressure fighter that will fire back in spades. That fight will be a war. It's one of those bouts where there's just no way it's going to be bad. I think the Fight of the Year race will get a new horse on September 6.
Manny Pacquiao and team want a bigger set of fines for an pound over the 147-pound limit being discussed for their potential fight with Oscar de la Hoya, which may be another snag in the ongoing and increasingly wacky search to land Oscar an opponent for December 6.
It's being said that the Filipino superstar and his handlers want Oscar fined $1 million per pound over 147 should he come in overweight for the fight. This is because, simply, the Pacquiao force is concerned that de la Hoya cannot make 147 pounds anymore. I wonder myself, but it doesn't much concern me. He looked fit at 150 against Forbes, and while three pounds are bigger than they sound in boxing, I don't think it'd be a major hassle for him.
The other real concern for Pacquiao is that Freddie Roach has stated they would probably try to weigh in in the low-140s for the fight -- plus, if Oscar came in overweight, they'd be fools to go on with the fight, no matter how much money was on the line. So in essence, they're counting themselves in for a payday if Oscar should come up short (well, wide), because there are a lot of fights Manny could make for November or December.
And yes, I used a photo of Oscar at his fattest on purpose.
He's not old and he hasn't shown that he's TOO badly beaten up. He was still in outstanding form last year against Marquez, though he turtled and didn't do a whole lot against Pacquiao, seemingly content to survive 12 rounds and leave it at that.
There was a rumor a while back, you probably recall, that he would return to face Mzonke Fana, who at the time was the IBF's 130-pound titleholder. He lost his strap to Cassius Baloyi in April via majority decision. Barrera has already beaten Fana, knocking him out in the second round back in 2005.
I've seen some fans suggest that he match up with old rival Erik Morales for a fourth time, but to me, that seems pretty sadistic, like you're essentially saying, "You know what I'd like to see? Erik Morales get hurt." Unlike Barrera, Morales has shown definite signs of wear and tear on his body, and reported after his final bout against David Diaz that he heard a ringing in his ears when he was hit in the head. Promoter Bob Arum is often full of crap, but when he says that if Morales tries to fight again he'll have nothing to do with it, I think you can feel sincerity and genuine concern.
The other talked-about fighter has been 122-pound champion Israel Vazquez, with the two Mexican fighters perhaps splitting the difference and squaring off at featherweight. I'm sure one of the major sanctioning bodies would find it in their hearts to strip a titleholder or declare an interim strap up for grabs in a Barrera-Vazquez bout.
Dan Rafael says Vazquez is taking the rest of 2009 off to fully recover, which is a smart move.
One thing is certain: should Barrera return as he apparently seriously intends to do, he will not be fighting under Golden Boy's banner, and that seems just wrong in some ways. He was one of their flagship fighters, along with Oscar, Mosley and Hopkins, and he had the distinction of being the one of their "Big Four" that wasn't really associated with de la Hoya as a star.
Personally, if Barrera is up for it, I'd still love to see a rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez, but that would involve working with Golden Boy, so count it out. Most likely Barrera will return against a mid-level or worse opponent, and try to move his way back up the ladder.
I read somewhere that I now can't find that Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., would be rematching Matt Vanda sometime this final quarter. Vanda put a hell of a scare into JC Junior in a damn good fight down in Mexico, nearly knocking the young, overheralded name out. You'd think first, perhaps, that a rematch would go toward the younger, fresher Chavez, like maybe Vanda made a final last great stand in the first fight. But I think it's legitimately very dangerous for Chavez, who I felt was exposed by the tough Vanda, whose name means nothing. The fact of the matter is that at some point, Arum and Top Rank are going to hit a wall with Chavez. He's just not that good, even with the strides he's made the last couple of years.
I'm pretty anxious to see what PPV numbers Casamayor-Marquez, Pavlik-Hopkins and Calzaghe-Jones pull in, because I don't expect great stuff in any of the fights, particularly Casamayor-Marquez. I understand pay-per-view and accept it as being what it is, but it's hard to lure in fans when you make being one an exclusive club, isn't it?
Sultan Ibragimov says he'll be back. Boy, I can't wait.
So far, so good for Vitali Klitschko not being injured. I still refuse to put that fight with Sam Peter on our schedule until the official weigh-in comes and goes with no shenanigans.
You may have heard that outspoken nitwit Anthony Mundine won a fight on July 30 against Crazy Kim. Latest word is he thinks that will give him a chance to chase Kelly Pavlik or Winky Wright at middleweight. Mundine gave up a super middleweight title so he could not get manhandled by Mikkel Kessler again, and now he thinks that he should get a fight with Pavlik or Wright. I guess I can't really see what Winky's doing that's any better, but Pavlik? That's some feverish dream world stuff, "Choc."
Has any fighter in recent memory done less with a star-making, highly-publicized win than Sakio Bika? Maybe he could fight Allan Green, if Bika's handlers could come up with the latest and greatest ridiculous figure that Green wants in order to take to the ring again.
With Vazquez taking the rest of the year off, I can't help but wonder what's up with Rafael Marquez. I'm hoping he decides to join his rival on the sidelines for the remainder of '08. Then maybe we can see them clash again in the first quarter of 2009. There's just no bigger or better fight for either man.
David Haye still has no opponent for his November 15 heavyweight "debut," though names are constantly being thrown around. Haye will be joined in the heavyweight ranks by faded ex-cruiser champion O'Neil Bell, who similarly claims that the division is a mess and needs a savior. Compared to the in-prime Haye, Bell's claims are akin to generic brand Doritos when the real thing is right in front of you for the taking.
Speaking of heavyweights, money is the big issue in the long-rumored showdown between sluggers Chris Arreola and David Tua. I kind of wish everyone would just move on. This fight is not going to happen. A win would push the exciting, 35-year old Tua right back into title contention, but he's been fighting journeymen since drawing Hasim Rahman in 2003 and taking two years off. Knocking out Cerrone Fox and Saul Montana is one thing; fighting a credible young slugger is another. He and promoter Cedric Kushner both know that, and want every cent they can squeeze. I can't blame then, and frankly I hope they're successful. For as long as it lasts, it could be a hell of a fight.
Frank Warren is all over the news. First up, he's speaking his mind on the Hatton family-Billy Graham rift that finally exploded, saying this was a long time coming, essentially. Also, Frank is suing Joe Calzaghe for £1 million, which has so "disgusted and saddened" the Welsh fighter that he's counter-suing. Oh, those Brits! (And Welshmen!)