Rumors: Lopez-Penalosa, Taylor-Ward, Taylor-Jones, Berto-Pacquiao?

Word is flying around lately about a ton of potential fights, and they're mostly just rumors at this stage. But discussion is a hoot, so let's take unfounded internet rumors, give proper journalism an aneurysm, and pretend all these things actually happen.

Juanmaflags060408_fg_medium Juan Manuel Lopez v. Gerry Penalosa

Lopez is supposedly going to return to action on April 4, televised by HBO, assumedly headlining a Boxing After Dark card. Top Rank wants 118-pound titlist Penalosa, the fighter ESPN.com's Dan Rafael called "the Filipino Winky Wright" in this week's live chat, referring to Penalosa's often unrealistic monetary demands.

Penalosa is a savvy dude and knows his way around the ring. Lopez is a devastating puncher and the future of the 122-pound (and more) division, and has all the pieces in place to be a flagship star in boxing. I really mean that. He's that exciting, that good, and that marketable.

But Gerry could also take Juanma to boxing school if Juanma isn't careful. He's not going to knock Penalosa out on one punch, as he did to Cesar Figueroa, and he's not going to have Penalosa show up out of shape and uninterested in fighting, which he got out of Sergio Medina in December. Both of those guys were pathetic. Penalosa is a good fighter with a lot of "old dog" tricks up his sleeve.

That said, I think Lopez would knock the crap out of him within six or seven rounds.

Jermain Taylor v. Andre Ward
Jermain Taylor v. Roy Jones, Jr.

HBO has no interest in a Taylor fight against Carl Froch, which is a slap in the face to Froch, Taylor, and boxing fans, so now promoter Dan Goossen is throwing Andre Ward's name in the Taylor hat.

There have also been calls to Taylor's promoter, Lou DiBella, from the reanimated corpse of Roy Jones' career.

Taylor-Ward is interesting, sort of, but it's not Froch-Taylor. It's as simple as that. Andre Ward is no more a big name in America than Carl Froch. Froch-Taylor would be for a title, would position that guy as surely one of the 168-pound division's best, and is a decent action fight on paper. Ward is a stalled ex-Olympian with a bad knee. Still, Ward has the physical talent to beat Taylor, which would put his star back on the fast rise.

As for Taylor-Jones, can we please not revisit Roy Jones again? Taylor would have to go up to 175 pounds, which seems pointless, and nobody buys Roy Jones anymore. It's over. Roy is done. When HBO tries like hell to market Calzaghe-Jones and the only folks buying the fight as competitive are Roy-admiring boxing writers who are abandoning common sense for gut feelings about one of their old favorites, it's hard to imagine a fight between a cold Jermain Taylor and a hypothermic Jones selling to anyone. Taylor-Lacy did a rotten rating on World Championship Boxing and Jones' PPV with Calzaghe was the boxing PPV equivalent of the Titanic (whereas Oscar-Floyd was like Titanic).

Mark my words if either of these bouts happen: neither will do any better of a TV rating than Froch-Taylor would have done, and HBO will have wasted time and money, particularly if they go the Jones route.

Fernando Montiel v. Eric Morel

You've probably heard by now that Fernando Montiel has already decided he can't make 115 pounds for a March fight against Nonito Donaire, which means that's off. Puerto Rican-born Wisconsinite Eric Morel may step in to fight Montiel instead. Morel is currently the mandatory challenger for the aforementioned Penalosa's 118-pound title.

Montiel's last fight was also at 118 pounds, as he took a stay-busy against Juan Alberto Rosas in Mexico, and was given a tougher test than he expected. Rosas pushed Montiel to the ten-round limit. Morel is a decent fighter, but probably out of his league against Montiel, at least on paper. Morel's two best opponents (Lorenzo Parra and Martin Castillo) are the two guys that have beaten him, and neither fight was close.

The real purpose of mentioning this one is to note that it really sucks we won't get Montiel-Donaire, but that one seemed doom from the get-go, really.

Junior Witter v. Devon Alexander

Well, well, well...

Whose idea was this? Not only would this be for a completely pointless (yet again) interim title (WBC 140 pounds), but the matchmaking is beyond odd at first glance. Witter, 34, is 37-2-2. Alexander, 21, is 17-0 and hasn't fought anyone near Witter's level.

So in Don King's epic bungling of Alexander's young career, he's first made the guy sit around doing F-all for the majority of 2008, which was shameful, then he starts getting him some fights, then he immediately goes into a fight with Junior Witter? Junior ain't what he was a few years ago, but that's a lot of experience to make up for, you know? I like Devon, but I hate this fight for him. Witter is only a name in England, where Devon has no name, and the interim title hoo-ha stinks here, too, since Tim Bradley is busy preparing to unify with Kendall Holt. More promtoer-to-sanctioning body crap, though.

I guess I thought Witter-Bradley was a lousy matchup for Bradley, too, though, so we'll see.

Amir Khan v. Alex Arthur

Frank Warren is saying that two of his fighters, Khan and Arthur, could meet in 2009. Pretty safe matchup for Amir. Arthur is no big puncher (not that it takes a big puncher to canvas Khan), doesn't have the explosive speed or power to keep up with Khan in a firefight, and is a legit opponent. The rebuilding of Amir Khan won't be easy, but wins over guys like Arthur would be a good step.

Andre Berto v. Manny Pacquiao

You gotta love the chutzpah here. The idea:

1. Berto fights and beats Luis Collazo on Jan. 17.

2. Pacquiao fights and beats Ricky Hatton in May.

3. Berto fights Pacquiao at a 145-pound catchweight for Berto's WBC paper title.

4. The Berto-Pacquiao winner fights Antonio Margarito, should Margarito get past Mosley (Jan. 24) and then Cotto (June, should Cotto beat Michael Jennings in February).

Andre Berto, essentially, is throwing himself into a discussion that just doesn't concern him. Pacquiao has recently stated a desire to fight Margarito, which trainer Freddie Roach has frequently said is a terrible idea. Pacquiao thinks he can out-box Margarito. I think Margarito probably takes his head off. Antonio can pull the trigger.

But for as unrealistic as it is financially, given that there are a load of bigger fights for Pacquiao to make, Berto-Pacquiao is a really interesting fight on paper. Berto is a small welter, but has good power and nice speed. He's young and is still improving. He's also yet to face anyone as good as the guy he's facing next Saturday, and Collazo, though not a show-stealer in any way, isn't an easy opponent, especially when you're used to the likes of Michel Trabant, Miki Rodriguez and Steve Forbes.

My point is that Berto and Lou DiBella should probably worry about Collazo and not about chasing unicorns.

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