James Foley returns with a new edition of Folo Punch, with thoughts on Victor Ortiz, Devon Alexander, 'real' championships, and more.
Extraterrestrial Victor Ortiz is keeping busy in his time away from boxing. With VO cologne soaring off the shelves and skincare brand Facelube a global sensation, Ortiz has delivered on his entrepreneurship with the efficiency and ruthlessness of a Floyd Mayweather sucker-punch. Boxing's Brother from Another Planet is also reportedly on the verge of appearing on reality show Dancing with the Stars. Ortiz is a genuine trailblazer, inspiring others in the sport to dabble in less violent enterprises. Juan Manuel Lopez is in talks to launch a new on-line gambling site catering to referees who want to place anonymous bets on the games they officiate. Lateef Kayode's new clothing line, Fuck He Up Jeans, is set to debut at Paris fashion week in March. And Angel Garcia has been working with old nemesis Shah Khan on an acoustic Nirvana duets album. He was quoted as saying "Pakistanis can't fight for shit, but they sure can croon."
Pop quiz, hotshots: Richard Schaefer's newfound propensity for two-day beards makes him look like:
- Guy showing up late for business meeting after all-night bender involving murdered prostitute.
- Mid-level Tallahassee coke dealer.
- Guy who drives past high schools in unmarked van, singing "I'm a Girl Watcher"
- Guy who lost job two days ago and hasn't left house.
- Cameraman on porn set.
Devon Alexander postponed his scheduled fight with Kell Brook, citing a bicep injury. My initial thought was in line with Alexander's trainer Kevin Cunningham's take on Randall Bailey last year: Rather than training diligently, Devon must have been "getting high with his homies and trickin' off with strippers." That theory appeared misguided when Mayweather named Alexander the "front runner" for his May 4 opponent. Did Alexander fake an injury in hopes of landing a Mayweather fight? Was this a mere negotiating ploy to turn the screws on Robert Guerrero, the man previously assumed to be in line? Did anyone see the picture of Mayweather and Nate Dogg with Leonard Ellerbe poking his head in to weasel into the shot? So many questions, so few answers worth caring about.
By some accounts, Gennady Golovkin is a genetically engineered hybrid of Julio Cesar Chavez, T-1000 and Beowulf, packing more punching power than a Javier Capetillo hand-wrapped Mike Tyson. It should be cautioned that boxing has witnessed more meteoric rises and falls than Ricki Lake's blood pressure. Golovkin looks spectacular and his sterling amateur pedigree offers credibility. But in the pro ranks, he has not fought anyone close to an elite fighter. He hasn't had an easy time getting big fights, but should he be credited with wins over guys he never actually fought, the ones who supposedly avoided him? The actual résumé is skimpier than Oscar De La Hoya's outfit when the call girl yells "cheese!" There is no denying Golovkin's talent and potential but until he defeats a bona fide contender at 160 lbs, his claim as a top-three middleweight is highly debatable.
When something gets repeated enough, it starts to become commonly accepted as fact. The latest bit of oral tradition gone awry relates to Danny Garcia's status as "legitimate champion" at 140 lbs. Garcia is a very good fighter. He certainly belongs among the top contenders in the division. But to claim he is "the" champion demeans the word "the". This dates back to last year when the once hallowed Ring Magazine deemed Garcia's fight with Amir Khan worthy of sanctioning for all the marbles at 140. A vacant championship should only be filled with a fight between the clear #1 and #2 contenders in a division. As 2012 began, the very obvious pecking order found Tim Bradley at the top and Lamont Peterson, fresh off of beating Khan, in the #2 position. A Bradley-Peterson rematch was the only fight at that moment in time that would have yielded an undisputed champ.
Tim Bradley moved up to 147 to face Manny Pacquiao and was removed from the rankings after announcing he would remain at welterweight. Two other top-five contenders, Devon Alexander and Marcos Maidana, also moved up in weight and out of the ratings. In March, Garcia edged a fairly uninspired points nod over Erik Morales, convincingly earning the win without wowing anyone in the process. On the heels of the mass exodus, this win over a borderline top-10 contender was enough to vault Garcia all the way up to #3, behind only Peterson and Khan. He leapfrogged Lucas Matthysse, a questionable call considering most pundits believed a Matthysse-Morales fight would have resembled a poorly lit snuff film, with the Mexican legend put to a violent end while cringing viewers rushed to embrace loved ones. In other words, Garcia-Morales 2.
Peterson was put on ice when PED allegations cancelled a scheduled Khan rematch. Despite Peterson's plans to continue in the division, and it being entirely possible he could return within one year of the Khan fight, the traditional length of time one needs to remain active to stay ranked, he was removed from the Ring ratings on seemingly ideological grounds. Being anti-PED was so trendy back then. This decision paved the way for Khan-Garcia to suddenly become #1 vs. #2, heralded as a fight to crown a true champion. It's bad enough when the #wretchedWBC and other alphabet bodies dole out fake titles like a hot dog vendor passing out napkins, now journalistic entities were getting in on the action, with prominent networks HBO and SHOWTIME more than willing to play up the mythology.
It wouldn't be a real fake championship fight without the alphabets throwing their feces on the wall too, so two titles were on the line when Garcia and Khan squared off. Garcia brought the WBC token, which had been stripped from Tim Bradley and handed to the winner of Erik Morales and Pablo Cano, two guys barely sniffing the top 15 at the time. And the WBA, the belt Peterson won from Khan the previous December, was declared vacant and up for grabs to the winner. When Garcia brutalized Khan, he found himself holding two belts never actually lost in the ring by the previous owners.
Garcia knocking out Khan was one of the greatest highlights and biggest statements of last year, a wonderful accomplishment for a very talented fighter. Beating Kendall Holt and Morales put Garcia on the fringe of being an elite contender. The Khan fight triumphantly announced him as a top man at 140 lbs. If only it could be left at that. This fight featured one man who lost his last fight to someone still in the division against a guy whose placement at #2 was hardly definitive. Matthysse arguably boasted stronger credentials and a guy by the name of Juan Manuel Marquez had fought twice in the division the previous year. No matter what the conveniently maneuvered rankings said, with the Peterson situation unresolved, there was no clear, undeniable #1 vs. #2 at work. Garcia-Khan was no more a championship fight than Angel Garcia is the mayor of Karachi.