First off, I want to apologize for the lack of updates lately, but as serious boxing fans I'm sure you're all quite aware that we're in just about the slowest news and fight cycle I can remember in the last four years. We're just about to flip the calendar to October, and there's not a major fight on American TV until November.
I'd like to note first that Ray Oliveira's comeback has been canceled. "Sucra" Ray is about to turn 42 on October 6, and you probably remember the scene in 2005 on ESPN2 when Ray was fighting Emanuel Augustus. It was scary to watch, and was Oliveira's last fight. For those who don't remember it, take a look. The class and sportsmanship shown by Augustus was nothing short of truly commendable, but the fact is, Ray just shouldn't be fighting. The word from his camp was that it wasn't a brain injury, but a neck injury, but even still. I don't think anyone remembers Ray Oliveira as less than the fighter he was simply because of this. He was set to face Joey Spina, but has been replaced by Antwun Echols. And there ends the praise of the Connecticut athletic commission. Echols is 38 and has won one fight since 2004, going 1-9-3 in that stretch, including some cringe-worthy efforts on TV. It's a bad replacement for what was a bad fight, and it just shouldn't be happening, but if Echols passes the commission tests, you can't stop him. Best wishes to both fighters.
Richard Schaefer has recently been talking up a potential fall 2011 fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Amir Khan, which I honestly do find very interesting. Khan has Marcos Maidana on December 11, and the plan after that is to match him with someone else at 140, though the way things are going in negotiations, it sounds like Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander will meet twice in 2011. Khan is one of the very few guys in the sport who can keep pace with Mayweather in the hand speed department -- in fact, for pure hand speed, I think he's the fastest guy in boxing, including Floyd. He's coming into his own right under the tutelage of Freddie Roach, and he'd have a height advantage on Floyd, too. I know Amir Khan still has his doubters, but I'm not one of them anymore. Wladimir Klitschko had a rotten chin, too. He learned to defend and protect it while utilizing his superior skills. Khan is in the process of doing the same. I'm certainly not ready to say Amir would beat Floyd, but he's one of the few guys I'd give a legitimate chance. And don't forget, Mayweather is not getting any younger.
HBO being dark for all of October is something that must have been largely unavoidable. They did try to put together an October 2 triple-header show with Andre Berto, Sergiy Dzinziruk and Celestino Caballero a while back, but that didn't pan out. Still, it stinks for boxing fans. ESPN2 is in their boxing off-season, and Showtime has nothing but a couple of ShoBox cards that aren't that interesting, though there is some curiosity in Antonio Tarver's October 15 move to heavyweight. November and December are absolutely jam-packed for major fights, which is nice, but it comes at the expense of stateside boxing fans having little to watch for a month and a half.
Speaking of Antonio Tarver, I wish he would just stick with his commentary job at Showtime, because for one thing he's good at it, and for another thing he's old and not the fighter he used to be. Tarver has said recently that America needs a recognizable heavyweight, and I know he thinks he's that guy, but the truth is, nobody cares about a 42-year-old Antonio Tarver any more than they care about Shannon Briggs or Evander Holyfield. Yes, Tarver used to be a star, but not in some Golden Age for boxing. Tarver still has skills, but physically, he's just slowed down. Nagy Aguilera is a nice first test for the jump in size, but the chances of him beating one of the Klitschkos are minuscule.
James Kirkland is out of prison and headed back to the ring on November 6. James, from every boxing fan who loves the way you fight, keep it together this time. You're too good and there's too much money to be made to blow it.
Look, fighters fight too long all the time, and I've mostly accepted that that's going to be the case for Shane Mosley, too. But does anyone else find it disturbing how vigorously the likes of Golden Boy, HBO and others in boxing are talking up his "future"? These people know that Mosley's a finished fighter. Many of them probably consider him a friend. The WBC's Jose Sulaiman is talking up a fight between Mosley and Saul Alvarez, which isn't the worst idea I've heard since Mosley is going to keep fighting. If you're going to fight, at least get real money out of it, and maybe even "pass the torch." But do none of these people have a shred of worry about Mosley?
A lot of people are talking about Oscar de la Hoya's recent statements that boxing needs one super promoter, sort of like the UFC in MMA. They're talking about it as if him saying that matters. Boxing fans have been saying the same thing for years. Oscar de la Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions are no closer to making that a reality than anyone else ever has been. It's nice that he's repeating the things that thousands of people have been saying for years and years and years, but forgive me if I don't see it as sincere or meaningful.
While I have my doubts he can fight well at 168 pounds, I'm glad Glen Johnson's in the Super Six instead of Jermain Taylor, a name some expected to replace Mikkel Kessler. If Taylor ever does come back, he's going to need to get some lesser work in first, and he hasn't made a peep about fighting again since he pulled out of the tournament earlier this year, plus he doesn't have a promoter anymore.
Five fights I absolutely want to see in 2011, ignoring Mayweather-Pacquiao and Klitschko-Haye (either Klitschko): Kell Brook v. Mike Jones, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. v. Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, Celestino Caballero v. Yuriorkis Gamboa, Lucian Bute v. Andre Ward, and Saul Alvarez v. Alfredo Angulo. The last one makes very little sense for anyone involved, really, but holy crap could that be a war.
I'll admit it: I suddenly and strangely find myself rooting for Zab Judah to keep it going and make some noise again at 140. Those young bucks at 140 need opponents, and the reality is that they can't keep fighting each other (though it's nice that they're about to). Judah could be an X-factor in an exciting weight class.
I'll admit something else. As much as I'm trying, I've lost a lot of interest in the Super Six. The Green-Johnson fight does very little for me, and the other two fights are going head-to-head with what I feel is simply a superior HBO main event. Luckily, I'll be able to catch Froch-Abraham that afternoon, but I expect Ward-Dirrell to be so dull of a fight that there's just no way I'd watch that ahead of Marquez-Katsidis, which is a Fight of the Year candidate on paper. But I do keep reminding myself that the tournament is something new for boxing, and our knowing for a fact that X is to face Y next kind of makes all the between-fights junk a bit more unbearable, I think. It's different, and really is something I wouldn't mind getting used to.
The best fight in October? Toshiaki Nishioka against Rendall Munroe on October 24. And the more I think about it, the more I raise Munroe's chance at the big win. Nishioka is a good fighter, but he's also 34. Munroe is no spring chicken at 30, but he's had less wear-and-tear by far, and fights as hungry as anyone. My guess is still that Nishioka is just too good and too strong for him, but I think Munroe has a chance at the upset. When the fight was signed, I really didn't.