Top Rank's Twitter feed came out with a pretty heavy rumor tonight: "it's just a rumor, but we'll let you know when it's confirmed... Pavlik vs Froch - Oct 3rd"
It seems like a rumor's rumor, what with the Showtime super middleweight tournament having a scheduled press conference for June 13 in New York. Froch (25-0, 20 KO) holds the WBC 168-pound title and is scheduled to face Andre Dirrell (18-0, 13 KO) in the first round of the tournament's round robin format.
But if this were to come through, it's undoubtedly a bigger money fight for Froch, and it would signal the end of Kelly Pavlik's uneventful reign as middleweight champion. Pavlik (35-1, 31 KO) is scheduled to return on October 3 no matter what, and Froch would be a big opponent. His canceled June opponent, Sergio Mora, appears totally out of consideration. Fan response to that fight was less than lukewarm, so it's understandable.
Froch-Pavlik is major. The tournament is huge, too. Were Froch to drop out, who replaces him? This is all hypothetical and I don't actually expect Froch-Pavlik to happen, but say it does. Who are the candidates at 168, or to move up from 160 and replace Froch in the tournament?
- IBF titlist Lucian Bute was angry that he wasn't invited, although the network says he was. The tournament starts in October, but some slight shuffling might make it possible to get Bute in there. He wants to do a rematch with Librado Andrade, who would also seem like a candidate for the fill-in slot.
- Contender season three champion Sakio Bika is out there, chomping at the bit for a big fight. In my view, he's the perfect replacement. He's a guy no one wants to fight, so forcing dudes to get in there with him would be a form of justice in a way. Bika is flat-out dangerous for anyone in the tournament. I actually would like his shot better than I do Froch's.
- American contender Allan Green and his promoter love to talk about stepping up, but they've yet to do it. This would be a chance. Getting Green in there with the heavy hitters could be interesting. He's got a lot of pop.
- Karoly Balzsay and the man he defeated, Denis Inkin, are both legit ideas, but they would further skew the tournament toward the "European audience," probably meaning more fights taking place in Germany or the like. Neither has any name in America.
Is it awful of me to half take a dump on Andre Dirrell and say I'd rather see Froch-Pavlik in the tournament at Dirrell's expense? I think Dirrell deserves to be there and I love the fact that both he and Andre Ward are willing to enter a tournament like this with those pretty zeroes on their records and little in the way of legitimate tests thus far, but if you put Pavlik in there it gets even more gigantic and intriguing. Pavlik has been an "HBO fighter" for a while now, but the network has shown little interest in him this year and with Abraham leaving 160 for this tournament, he's out of truly exciting potential opponents. Like it or not, and whether he's ready or not, time to move up is probably here.
- In a less exciting news story, Ronnie Nathanielsz reports that Billy Dib's one-round stoppage of Kenichi Yamaguchi in Sydney turned ugly. Dib was reeling in the opening round, but came back to deck Yamaguchi with one second left in the frame. He then hit Yamaguchi with what was called "a hard shot" while he was down, and referee Les Fear (note: SERIOUSLY?! Les Fear?!) stopped the bout when Yamaguchi appeared wobbly. Yamaguchi shoved Fear and Dib got into a push-and-shove with folks who entered the ring. The whole thing could've been uglier, of course, but this is bad enough. And from the descriptions out there, it sounds like a God awful refereeing job. Punches to downed fighters do happen, and that's Dib's explanation, but it's the referee's responsibility to protect the hit man in that case, and stopping the fight doesn't sound like the right call.
- Antonio Margarito sent his application to fight to the Mexican boxing commission for a fight in September or October. Zab Judah and Carlos Baldomir have been bandied about as opponents, but Judah seems highly unlikely. Baldomir could happen. It's a rotten, transparent fight. Baldomir is feather-fisted, old, even slower than Margarito (even when we all thought he was the bee's knees, he was slow, that's not a piling-on shot), and doesn't really mean much at this point. Margarito fighting in Mexico while suspended by the CSAC for the charges against him would completely discredit the commission down there. It would be a travesty.