News: The undercard for the December 8 pay-per-view event main evented by Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Ricky Hatton for Mayweather's welterweight crown is set. Daniel Ponce de Leon will defend the WBO super bantamweight title against Eduardo Escobedo, Jeff Lacy returns to take on Peter Manfredo, Jr., in a ten-rounder, and, in the opener, lightweights Edner Cherry and Wes Ferguson will fight again.
Views: It's a nice undercard, with the potential for competitive fights. Cherry (22-5-2, 10 KO) beat Ferguson in June via unanimous decision in Tampa, and "Wicked" Wes (17-2-1, 5 KO) is looking for revenge. Honestly, including Cherry-Ferguson II seems a bit odd to me. Neither guy is much of a puncher, neither guy is a rising contender, really. Their first fight -- which was televised on ESPN2 -- was pretty good. But to open up a PPV with this one is strange. These aren't guys destined to become stars. I also don't have any problem with it; if it lives up to the first fight, it'll be a well-boxed showdown and should serve as a great way to get things started.
Ponce de Leon is fast becoming one of my favorite fighters to watch -- the guy is dynamite and a brilliant finisher. Watching him blow up Rey Bautista in August was amazing. Escobedo (20-2, 14 KO) has been fighting at featherweight, and has fair power. Whether or not he can deal with a guy fighting as well as Ponce de Leon is right now is another matter.
Lacy-Manfredo, in my estimation, isn't going to be much to get excited about. Lacy is going to be rusty, and Manfredo is, well, mediocre. He is the very fringe of what a "contender" in boxing is. On the right night, he might be able to beat a Lacy-level fighter -- or, for the other guy, the wrong night. But Manfredo is never going to be a world champion. He just doesn't have it.
As far as Hatton goes, he's already down to 148 pounds, and as big of an underdog as I consider him, I highly doubt Ricky Hatton has ever trained as hard as he is right now. The guy does look good. No Ricky Fatton jokes to make right now.
News: Bernard Hopkins wants a 60-40 purse split for a fight with Joe Calzaghe, and promises to "rearrange his face."
Views: 60-40 is actually about as good as one could ever expect from Hopkins. Bernard's insane insistence that he's some massively recognizable star in comparison to Calzaghe is getting into that familiar level of asshole arrogance that is just so B-Hop. There isn't a town in the States where Bernard Hopkins could draw 50,000 fans to see him fight. And I don't care who it was against.
Now, of course, it's all relative -- Joe Calzaghe is boxing in Wales, and Joe Calzaghe is arguably the biggest sports star, period, in Wales. America has many more famous boxers and famous athletes. While Calzaghe is almost a messiah-type figure in his homeland, here Hopkins is just a great fighter who has never been particularly popular with anyone.
It does look like we'll see that fight, though, and it does appear that things are going along a lot smoother than most of us would have expected.
News: According to Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer, who is dealing with Bob Arum in negotations, things are progressing well in talks for Pacquiao-Marquez II. Pacquiao's next fight is now tentatively scheduled for March 15, too, instead of March 1, meaning it won't go head-to-head with Showtime's Vazquez-Marquez III card.
Views: It sounds like we're getting close to the point where the only thing left to talk about is money. And thank God for them moving the date (which is one day after my 26th birthday, so happy birthday to me).
The WBC has also offered Pacquiao a shot at its lightweight title, held either by David Diaz or Joel Casamayor depending on what day it is, because Pacquiao's camp has gone on record as saying that 130 pounds has become a tough weight to make. I don't really know how much I buy that. This may be the one real effect that we're getting out of the "Pacquiao is distracted and may not be 100% for this next fight!" hoopla that is attached to every Pacquiao fight we get now. He wasn't 100% for the Barrera rematch. If he had been, Barrera would've gotten to go home six rounds earlier. Maybe if Pacquiao, who came into the sport fighting at 108 pounds, was as focused on camps as he used to be, making 130 wouldn't be such an issue. Because it really doesn't seem to me that it should be, at least no more than any other boxing working his ass off to make weight.
If the Pacquiao that fought Barrera showed up to fight the Marquez that just beat Rocky Juarez, I think Marquez wins that fight handily.
News: Jorge Arce's December 1st opponent on Top Rank's action-based minor pay-per-view has finally been named solidly. Bob Arum announced that the Mexican star will face Medgoen Singsurat.
Views: Singsurat (53-4, 39 KO) is a Thai fighter whose two claims to fame are obliterating a young, undeveloped Manny Pacquiao in 1999 with a third round KO, and being part of the "3K Battery" stable of fighters. Like many of his countrymen, Singsurat's record is wildly inflated by garbage fights against non-fighters. His last 11 wins (seven of them coming this year) are that type of junk. His last real opponent came almost two years ago, in January of 2006, against Nobuto Ikehara. Singsurat, 29 now, was knocked out in the third round.
So, really, don't order that pay-per-view hoping to see an exciting slugfest between Arce and Singsurat just because the 3K Battery guy has a KO win over Pacquiao on his record. Chances are, Arce will batter him and end it in short order. I expect Jorge to be fighting with a major chip on his shoulder to close out 2007 following a thorough ass-whipping at the hands of Cristian Mijares and a terrible fight (that was in no way Arce's fault) in January with Julio Ler. Arce fought in September, knocking out journeyman Tomas Rojas with a body shot.
News: Vic Darchinyan and Z Gorres are scheduled to square off on March 1, which could be an undercard fight for Vazquez-Marquez III, if Showtime does indeed stage the rubber match between those two on that night. If not, they could just be doing Darchinyan-Gorres. The fight will be up for purse bid soon.
Views: I don't like Darchinyan. I just don't. I do enjoy watching him fight, because there's no one like him. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't absolutely delight in watching Nonito Donaire crush him, and make no mistake, it wasn't just the one punch. It was beautiful how Donaire made Darchinyan look like a little guy at a toughman contest that night.
Darchinyan, to me, comes off like a bully. And I just don't really like fighters like that. As an MMA fan, it's a big reason why I don't like Nick Diaz. He comes off like an arrogant, spoiled bully. I respect Diaz's ability and I respect Darchinyan's, too, and I love to watch both of them fight. But they are not guys I will ever be able to really root for in a fight.
Gorres is a nice opponent for Vic, however. He doesn't have big power, but he can be a frustrating guy to fight. As a couple of southpaws, it opens it up for Darchinyan to slug away. I'd have to favor him.
News: A 154-pound title fight between Cory Spinks and Verno Phillips has been added to the Jones-Trinidad undercard.
Views: If you've got asthma, reach for that inhaler. I know you're breathless in anticipation of paying to see Cory Spinks fight. Don King's infatuation with Spinks kills me. The guy is in no way, shape, or form interesting to watch. He is death on television. He is skilled at what he does and very effective doing it, I don't argue that. But I never want to see Cory Spinks fight again. And matching him with Verno Phillips, who is 37 years old and goes the distance with Eduardo Sanchez and Juan Candelo, doesn't exactly up the chances for excitement.