Guillermo Rigondeaux has the talent, but superstardom is almost surely not in his future. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Mondays are going to be home to a new feature on Bad Left Hook, as we offer some further and possibly final thoughts on the past weekend in boxing. Some weekends are going to be huge -- like this one -- and some won't. But we'll do those, too. On those Mondays, I might wind up talking about weird dreams I had with 8-bit Nintendo making a massive commercial comeback with new dust-proof cartridges of all your favorite games, but we'll see. I like to have a good time.
If you let him hit you enough, he'll break your face.
There has been talk after recent fights about where Pacquiao stands all time. At this point, and I admit I'm not by any means a serious historian, I have to think it's getting pretty high. The man has done things that are unheard-of in the sport's history. The top tier greats either already have new company at the dinner table, or it's just a matter of waiting until more people accept how special Pacquiao's career has been. I've said this before, but seriously, when you watch Pacquiao fight now, doesn't it seem completely absurd that he was the flyweight champion at one point? That's maybe the most remarkable thing of it now that we have the larger scope and see him not just winning at 135, 140, 147, and (again, bogus) 154 -- he used to be 112. Hell, he started below that.
Pacquiao's offensive mastery has to have peaked (it just has to), but he seems to be getting better and more economical using his legs defensively, too. He eliminated Margarito's reach advantage for the most part, and though the spectacle of their different heights was alarming at first, by the fifth round or so it was forgotten as Pacquiao just picked Margarito apart and tore him to pieces.
With greatness comes expectations. We're talking about him fighting the middleweight champion, for God's sake. That's incredible.
If you break his face, he still won't quit.
Determination is a hell of a thing. Margarito plodded and stalked his way through 12 rounds, which by the end were getting pretty vicious. The first 9 or 10 rounds had a tenseness, with the feeling that Manny just couldn't make a mistake or he might get in serious trouble. Margarito landed a hard uppercut at one point that shook Pacquiao up, and he had Manny in mild trouble with some body shots. But he just couldn't hit enough for it to really add up to the point that he could totally slow Manny down, or at least slow him down enough that Margarito's bursts of offense were only bursts, rather than sustained effective pressure. Three things I'm sure about: Margarito should have quit, his corner should have waved the towel, and Laurence Cole should have stepped in at some point. But none of that happened, and I understand why it didn't happen. This was a huge fight, Margarito's likely only chance in something this big again, and even if it's not really possible (though we've had some good discussion whether or not that's the case), he was fighting to redeem himself in some way.
Margarito needs surgery on his busted-up face now, so he'll be out a while. But you are going to see him in a money fight next year, especially if those early PPV estimates are true. Manny did the heavy lifting there, I believe. Manny was the star, yes. But if we're really talking about DOUBLE what Manny did against Clottey (which did have to compete with March Madness, to be fair), then that says a lot about Margarito having a fanbase or at the least being a fighter who can sell as a bad guy. He'll get a shot next year, maybe against Cotto again, maybe against Mosley again. When you factor in money, memories do grow short. I'll never like the guy, and I'm sure there are plenty of folks who will just boycott all of his fights, but there aren't enough of those to impact business decisions.
David Haye-Audley Harrison
This fight was such a farce when all was said and done that the British Boxing Board of Control is investigating and deciding whether or not to take some or all of Audley Harrison's money. While I think that's way too far for a fight everyone knew was crap when it was signed, I'll admit that I'm not one of those who paid to see it. Without meaning to give offense to any of the fine people who did pay to see it -- live or on Sky Box Office -- I will say that if you expected anything truly more than what we got, you were either being delusional or you were sort of ignorant to Audley Harrison's career. It's one thing to take a dump on the fight, it's another to start demanding money because there's a feeling Harrison cheated anyone. Harrison cheated no one. He was just Audley Harrison.
But forget about Audley, since everyone will be trying to do just that from now on. David Haye continues to frustrate people like me. I would say there's "no reason" he shouldn't be fighting the Klitschkos, but of course there are reasons. For one thing, he can make money fighting third-tier opponents. The Klitschkos are stuck doing the same right now. Dereck Chisora isn't as bad as Audley, but compared to Wladimir Klitschko? Please. Vitali has had to fight Albert Sosnowski and Shannon Briggs this year, and both of them did their best and fought bravely, but were never competitive, and weren't going to be, either. And the WBC's big idea? An eliminator that includes Ray Austin, who once lost to Wladimir in two rounds, with Wlad never throwing a right hand.
The division's a mess, and don't expect Haye to face a Klitschko next. Ruslan Chagaev is probably next to get another crack in the WBA merry-go-round.
Rigondeaux, the Cuban amateur legend now 7-0 (5 KO) as a pro, struggled some with Ricardo Cordoba on Saturday night, but I still felt he clearly won, and that the 114-112 card for Cordoba was a bit silly. Rigondeaux had a much tougher time with the crowd atStadium not taking to his amateur style, but considering he's 30 years old and had that not just hammered into his mind over the years, but also seen it be incredibly effective for him, there's no reason at all to expect he'll change what he does in the ring. Rigondeaux is going to win some titles and beat some good fighters. Cordoba's a good fighter and he beat him. But he'll never be a star.
Rios is sort of the opposite of Rigondeaux. I love watching Rios fight, but right now he kind of reminds me of Antonio Escalante, who was blown up something fierce by Daniel Ponce de Leon in September. Rios might not win major titles, but he's going to be on TV a lot for as long as he's fighting. Even clearly out of shape and fighting on short notice, he was willing and able to just walk through Omri Lowther en route to a fifth round stoppage. Rios is tentatively slated to face the winner of the Humberto Soto-Urbano Antillon fight in December. I'm not sure he beats either of them, or even does particularly well, but I know this: he'll make it exciting, and they're going to have to earn it. Oh! And I almost forgot, but it's impossible to remember Brandon Rios from last week without mentioning it. The jerk store called, and they're runnin' out of Brandon Rios.
Boy, Mike Jones had to claw and luck his way through this one. I wonder, really, if the chance to show what he can do in front of such a big audience just got Jones way, way, way, way, way too excited. The furious assault he unleashed in the second round was impressive and fun to watch, but he also wasn't, like, zeroed in. He had Jesus Soto Karass on the ropes, but wasn't landing as much as he might have thought. It was like Jones was off in some other world, seeing tomorrow's headlines ("Mike Jones Steals The Show!" on a swirling newspaper, etc.), and just losing grip on reality. Mike Jones went, to quote Paulie Walnuts, "bonks**t" in the second round against Soto Karass, and emptied his own gas tank. I thought JSK took over most of the fight from there, and Jones was clearly giving away rounds to get his strength back. JSK fought through blood and showed his toughness. He's a solid, strong fighter that can take some punishment. Great upper-tier gatekeeper for 147 as it stands now, which also makes him a borderline top 10 guy at 147 as it stands now. Jones has talent, and he has the size to do some good stuff. I think you can look at this fight as a learning experience for him.
Groves really had a tough time with Kenny Anderson on the Haye undercard, but again, I think this is a learning experience. Plus I already didn't think he was as good a prospect as James DeGale, so nothing changed for me personally on that score. I bet DeGale is salivating at the thought of getting Groves in the ring soon for a grudge match now, if he wasn't before. Groves is still a really good prospect, but I think we're looking at a guy who will have to fix flaws, while DeGale is a guy who will have to fix his approach a little bit. On the positive side, Groves overcame two knockdowns and stormed back to finish Anderson off with some great punching, so he proved there's already grit in there. Some guys get knocked down like that and just don't come back from it.
The 18-year-old super prospect struck again at Cowboys Stadium, stopping his opponent in three rounds this time, improving to 9-0 (9 KO) on the year. He's slated to return on December 4 in Anaheim, facing powerless journeyman Justo Sanchez (17-25-1, 0 KO), which will likely make him an even 10-0 in his first year as a pro. This kid's going to be a P4P contender in a few years.