Credit (as always): Dan Rafael
News: The third fight in the fantastic rivalry between Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez is tentatively scheduled for March 1st. Showtime (which will again air the fight) wants it to take place in the U.S., but promoters are discussing Mexico City.
Views: Oh, hell yes. This is already early bet for 2008's Fight of the Year. The rematch on August 4th is my easy front-runner for 2007 FotY, and their first encounter wasn't far behind. And it's great to see that nobody is rushing the fight -- March would give the two a full eight months to recover from their brutal encounters.
There is simply not a more dynamite, exciting matchup in boxing. I can't think of more of a dream matchup than Vazquez-Marquez. Two sluggers that can box, and are prepared to stand toe-to-toe and duke it out. There's no way they can go more than eight rounds. Somebody is going to get knocked out, it's that simple. It's as good of a guarantee as you can get in this sport. Not only do they hit hard and not only do they both throw a lot of punches, but they both punch with devastating accuracy. Israel Vazquez was already my favorite boxer heading into their first encounter. After the two bombfests, Rafael Marquez became my second-favorite.
I actually hope they get the green light to put it in Mexico City, where they'd be welcomed and cheered as the great champions that they both are. The crowd for the second fight in Hidalgo, Texas, was depressingly small for such a tremendous bout. They deserve better, and I don't know of any location in the States that could match the atmosphere of a raucous Mexico City audience.
News: Manny Pacquiao's next fight will be on HBO PPV on -- get this, boxing fans -- March 1st.
Views: Who the hell does this shit help out? The fighters? The sport? The networks? The fans? I still wish someone at HBO or Showtime would explain this to us. Both networks have good relationships with Top Rank and Golden Boy, who now have a good relationship with one another, and control a majority of the talent that fights on the networks. Outside of Don King's outmanned stable and a few scattered stars otherwise, what are we talking about here?
Forcing the paying boxing fan to choose between Vazquez-Marquez III and what could be Pacquiao-Marquez II on the same night is ludicrous. It would be an insult to almost all of us. Look, I know the networks only have so many open dates, but give me a break. Raise your hand if you want to see Vazquez-Marquez. Keep it up. Raise the other one if you want to see Pacquiao-Marquez. Keep it up. Now you can't type or anything. OK, put them down. See what I'm saying? You're going to be forced to choose.
Even if it's a slightly lesser fight that Pacquiao is in, who wants to miss a Manny Pacquiao fight? Who wants to miss Vazquez-Marquez? Sure, we can all tape or TiVo or whatever, but we all know that's not the same.
This isn't an infraction like putting Cotto-Urkal up against Vazquez-Marquez I, where you wanna see Miguel Cotto, but you really want to see Vazquez and Marquez. This is potentially two of the most anticipated fights in the sport -- with brothers in opposite bouts, mind you -- going head-to-head. WHY?
News: Tickets for the December 8 battle of undefeated champions Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Ricky Hatton sold out in less than an hour.
Views: Again, boxing sure is dead. 16,000 tickets for the MGM Grand in Vegas in less than an hour for a fight that most diehards consider to be a foregone conclusion at worst and a serious boxing mismatch with a distant possibility of the old Cinderella story at best. A lot of this speaks to the surging popularity of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. -- popularity in this case not necessarily meaning being liked so much as being very interesting, and clearly the best. But I've always said this, and I think it rings true: Fans of any sport where it's one-on-one will have a hard time, eventually, hating the guy who dominates. People do like winners.
It also speaks very much to the marketability of Ricky Hatton as the underdog challenger. Hatton is so easy to get behind because he's a regular guy. It doesn't matter if he's from England or if he's from Milwaukee -- I think American fans love this guy almost as much as our friends across the pond do, and for good reason. He's a hell of a guy. And he's an everyman fighting the guy who, on paper, has it all over him. We'll always root for the Hatton-type.
Mayweather-Hatton is going to be a phenomenal success, obviously. And HBO hasn't even started the full push yet. This one could be up there as far as all-time moneymakers go.
News: Sergio Mora wants to challenge Kelly Pavlik.
Views: Mora believes he could be the Sugar Ray Leonard to Kelly Pavlik's Tommy Hearns. He also said that he doesn't think Jermain Taylor was good enough athletically to beat Pavlik.
Jermain Taylor is probably one of the three or four best pure athletes in boxing, so let's just say that I more or less fart in the direction of that statement from Mora.
I've hinted at my dislike of Mora before, even flat-out said it. Let's expound. I do not like Sergio Mora and I have very little respect for him outside of the fact that he's man enough to lace up the gloves, and he's probably nice to his family and little kids and puppy dogs. I don't like to disrespect or shit-talk fighters, really, because they all deserve props for doing their jobs, and I appreciate that they risk injury and even their lives to entertain schlubs like me.
But when a guy with no real track record who is only a boxing name thanks to a reality TV show (I have never warmed to "The Contender," and I never will) tries to dictate the terms of a fight against the middleweight champion of the world, I lose pretty much any chance of rooting for him. Mora acted like he was in charge of a fight with Jermain Taylor. He didn't deserve that fight to begin with. I could've named 30 guys I would've considered more deserving of a fight with Taylor than Mora was, and Cory Spinks (his replacement) was one of them. And I'm no big fan of Cory Spinks, especially not a big fan of watching him fight.
Mora doesn't deserve a fight against Pavlik any more than he deserved one with Taylor. And when he beats Elvin Ayala (which I hope he doesn't) later on tonight, he still won't deserve it. I could name 30 guys I'd consider more deserving of a shot against Pavlik, and it's not like middleweight or junior middleweight are the deepest divisions out there. Sergio Mora is a spoiled, coddled, non-entity as far as I'm concerned. When he does anything notable, someone let me know. The first notable thing he might ever do in the real sport of professional boxing is get knocked out by Kelly Pavlik.
But, as a sidenote, he is willing to lower his standards and accept a fight with Pavlik in Ohio. That's very generous of him. Give me a break.
On the subject of Pavlik, his first title defense will be in either late January or early February, according to Bob Arum. Jermain Taylor has until the end of October to decide whether or not he'll be Pavlik's opponent.
News: HBO wants a Paul Williams-Kermit Cintron welterweight title unification bout in February.
Views: Cintron would have to retain against Jesse Feliciano (15-5-3) in November on the undercard of Mayorga-Vargas, if that actually ever happens. I understood why Cintron was fighting Feliciano when the bout was going to be in September, as Steward wanted to get him right back into the ring following his July destruction of Walter Matthysse, the same night Williams dethroned Antonio Margarito. But why spend four months piddling around waiting to fight Jesse Feliciano?
Anyway, since Cintron should retain, it would look like a decent bet that we will get Williams-Cintron. I kind of think it's too bad that a Williams-Margarito rematch wasn't given more push by anyone who could've made it happen. It was a hell of a good fight and I think you can argue Margarito won. God knows Tijuana Tony hasn't shut up about it since. Cintron has looked good since Margarito handled him a couple of years ago, but I still have my doubts. I think Williams stays too busy and is too much of a unique matchup, height-wise, for Cintron to get at him with his power. The reason he blew up Walter Matthysse is Walter Matthysse fights just like Cintron, straight ahead and with an intent to punch away. Cintron proved he's better than Matthysse when that's the fight. That doesn't say a whole lot to me about his chances against Williams.
But I'll say this: I consider Cintron a rather distant fourth among the recognized welterweight champions. That is a hell of a nice thing to be able to say about any division.
News: Nonito Donaire's first title defense has been added to the December 1 card on Showtime, making it a tripleheader (Tarver-Green, Forrest-Piccirillo).
Views: Donaire isn't trying to take anything easy in his first defense, as he'll likely face mandatory challenger Luis Maldonado (37-1-1, 28 KO) if Maldonado is fit by then, having suffered a bad cut in his October 5th eliminator bout with Sergio Espinoza. If Maldonado can't make it, Donaire will fight a substitute challenger. Maldonado's only loss, it's worth noting, is a knockout to Vic Darchinyan.
Donaire over Darchinyan is still the easy Upset of the Year for 2007. And I still get excited every time I re-watch it. It was a beautiful performance from Nonito Donaire, flawless execution of a gameplan, and he had Darchinyan's number from the opening bell. And you just don't see many guys get hit that hard, no matter what weight class it is. The description still rings true: Darchinyan went down and tried to get up as if he'd been hit in the face with a brick that he never saw coming. It was a gorgeous counter punch.
Meanwhile, Vic Darchinyan returns to the ring by being given a gift title one weight class up when he fights Federico Catubay and his 13 losses this Saturday. The world won't be waiting, and that Darchinyan-Arce matchup that I figure we'll likely get next year has lost a lot of luster, but it'll still probably be a hell of a show.
News: Kendall Holt's request for an immediate rematch against Ricardo Torres was denied by the WBO.
Views: Holt had every right to request the rematch, though he probably took it a hair (or a merkin) too far when he wanted to have the result changed to a no-contest. Now, Arum hopes to have Torres face Victor Ortiz on the undercard of Pavlik-whomever on pay-per-view early next year, if Ortiz can get past Carlos Maussa on the undercard of Cotto-Mosley. Holt will have to find something else to do, but he shouldn't find that too hard. He's still one of the best fighters in the division.