All credit to: Dan Rafael of ESPN
News: The long-proposed bout between Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., and Alfonso Gomez is now officially off. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum feels he can make more money with Chavez headlining a series of pay-per-view events in 2008, before scheduling his breakout for 2009.
Views: I have to say, I find scheduling a breakout year to be pretty amusing. Arum's plan is to have J.C., Jr., headline a card every other month or so, starting on February 9. The thing is, they did 70,000 buys for an action-themed PPV on December 1. I would have to guess 3/4 of that audience was the Latino crowd, which is great if they really get behind Chavez and he becomes a huge star.
This year I have gained some appreciation for the skills that Chavez does have. He has good size, good power, and has learned to box in his own style instead of trying to emulate his dad so much. All of his wins this year came by knockout, and the fight with Sanchez was no gimme, and Sanchez fought him pretty well.
The fight with Gomez is off because HBO is hardly dying to see it. They did have Chavez-Gatti ready to roll for November, if you'll recall, before Gomez threw a wrench into that plan. The initial feeling was, I think, that Gomez should have just taken Gatti's place in November. The Chavez camp felt otherwise, and at this point, I think people have come to their senses a little bit regarding Alfonso Gomez. He's a nice guy, a solid boxer, but he's never going to be a money draw at all, and he's probably capping out at fringe contender. Gatti was 110% shot for that fight. Gomez's next fight against Ben Tackie did not go as well for him -- I thought it was a draw, and that Gomez didn't look particularly great against a gatekeeper-level fighter.
There is nothing to gain for Chavez if he beats Gomez, really, and Gomez has enough skills to maybe, just maybe, beat him. Personally, I think Chavez knocks him out in the middle rounds, as I don't think Gomez is appreciably any better than Sanchez.
News: Floyd Mayweather, Jr., says that Ricky Hatton should retire before the wars catch up with him, as they have Fernando Vargas and Erik Morales.
Views: A bunch of folks are going to view this as Floyd having some agenda, but I think he's just being honest. I wouldn't know for sure, but I would guess that Hatton isn't as beaten up physically as Vargas and Morales were at the same age. There are wars, and then there's Hatton's career, which has a few to be sure, but not quite the same. Ricky should be fine to return to 140 and fight on. Again, I wouldn't really know, but that would be my guess. Hatton, for the record, has no plans to retire yet, and has even mentioned a rematch with Mayweather. There is nobody on earth besides Hatton that wants to see him fight Floyd again. And I don't think Floyd would entertain the idea.
News: Sergio Mora will return on a Telefutura card on January 11.
Views: Mora (19-0-1) really bombed his own career this year, and now it's sort of back to the drawing board. We'll actually have more on Sergio later in a featured I'm calling "Boxing's 15 Biggest Losers of 2007" -- believe you me, he made the list.
News: Don King has decided to add 20-year old welterweight prospect Devon Alexander to the undercard of Jones-Trinidad next month, against an opponent to be named.
Views: Given that it's a month away, don't expect this to be anything more than a showcase opener for Alexander (13-0). As of this announcement, the undercard looks like it'll be Alexander-TBA, Golota-Mollo, and Spinks-Phillips. Ugh.
As for Roy and Tito, they've upped the fake anger lately after spending most of their press tour being very friendly toward one another. Tito says he'll knock Roy out in two (won't happen), and Roy says he'll finish him in four (very well might).
News: An action attraction between bantamweights Jorge Arce and Martin Castillo does look like it's going to happen in February, either on the PPV undercard of Chavez-TBA (likely Jose Celaya, from what Rafael is told) or on the undercard of Pavlik-Taylor II the week after that.
Views: I really hope that fight lands on the Pavlik-Taylor II broadcast, because I just want one damn major PPV card with an undercard that doesn't halfway put me to sleep. The announced 140-pound title fight between Ricardo Torres and Mike Alvarado should be pretty good, and we've heard for a while that Ronald Hearns will be part of the telecast in the opener. I can't handle another $45-55 where I sit for two and a half hours praying that the main event will save the show.
News: Don King is demanding either a contract extension or a $2 million check to clear Juan Diaz to fight Michael Katsidis under the Golden Boy banner in February.
Views: I saved this one for last because, overall, it's my favorite of the stories here.
King signed Diaz last year, and the relationship between King and Diaz's manager, Willie Savannah, has been rocky at best since it started. On March 31, 2008, the contract ends. Savannah has stated publicly -- in a stupid move -- that they won't be re-signing.
So, in some ways, Savannah opened himself and his fighter up to this. Golden Boy won the purse bid for Diaz-Katsidis at $1.5 million. HBO has a date set, and Golden Boy reserved an arena in Houston, Diaz's hometown. All of this, without a doubt, seems to point to the fact that Juan Diaz will sign with Golden Boy after his contract with King expires.
Since King controls Diaz, he has the right to block him from fighting for another promoter, and he seems content to do just that. Savannah claims they have told King to either sign off on Katsidis, or make a fight with Nate Campbell (promoted by King) or David Diaz (holder of the only recognized tin strap that Juan doesn't currently hold). And they say there's been no response, that King doesn't want to make a fight, and wants to simply have Juan sit still until the contract expires.
King would only do this with such a great emerging young fighter if he knew 100% that he wasn't going to retain Diaz's services. And Savannah could have avoided that by never going around saying that he and Diaz would not re-sign with King. What does Don King have to gain, other than a $2 million check -- which, without help from Golden Boy, Diaz does not have to give him.
But my absolute favorite part of this saga is the following quote from Willie Savannah: "(King is) trying to screw a 24-year-old college kid."
Get the fuck out of here. Juan Diaz is a professional athlete that happens to currently go to college, too. It's a great story and everyone loves it, but the truth is, Juan Diaz is a professional athlete, makes a very good living, and is elite in his sport. That ridiculous, sympathy-seeking statement makes me want to root for anyone but Willie Savannah in this case, even if it's Don King. "College kid" -- my God. Like he's broke from buying fucking textbooks, and evil Don King is a one-man mafia juicing him out of rent money.
Coming Features at Bad Left Hook
It's going to be a busy period for the site in the next week or so. Later on, as I mentioned, I'll be posting "Boxing's 15 Biggest Losers of 2007," and soon I'll also start a 20-to-1 countdown of my 20 favorite fights of the year.
In addition, the Bad Left Hook Pound-for-Pound Top 20 is being updated for the end of the year, and we'll be getting help from Tim Starks of MVN's Ring Report for that.