News: Oscar de la Hoya is almost ready to make a decision on who he will be fighting on May 3. [Boxing Scene]
Views: We've been told for a while that de la Hoya would make his pick around this time, so we're just kind of waiting. According to Boxing Scene's source within Golden Boy Promotions, it's down to two: WBA welterweight champ Miguel Cotto, and Ricky Hatton.
We've also heard forever that Oscar wants to close his career at 147 pounds, but there has since bene a lot of speculation and talk that there's no way he can get himself back down to that weight comfortably at this stage in his career. Oscar is smart, and even his greatest detractors will give him that. He said earlier in December that he was going to see where his weight was and make a decision on the welterweight idea. If he can't comfortably make 147, he should not take a fight with Miguel Cotto, because Cotto will tear him up. If Oscar gets tired or isn't at full strength, Cotto will manhandle him. It's not like Oscar doesn't know that, and if he has any doubts, he should ask his pal Shane Mosley how good Cotto really is.
As for a fight with Hatton, that seems more up Oscar's alley, to me. It would be an event more than a fight, since we all know that Ricky Hatton is no welterweight, and it's not like Oscar is going to fight at 140. At 147, full strength or not, Oscar will beat Hatton. I love Ricky Hatton, I really do. He's a great ambassador for boxing and a wonderful fighter with heart for days. But he's too small and not strong enough for 147. Mayweather bullied Hatton, it wasn't the other way around. And he had plenty of trouble with Luis Collazo in his only other welterweight fight. The fact that he'd get boucoups money for a fight with Oscar may just be too much to pass up. Fighting Floyd and Oscar consecutively could let Ricky retire more than comfortably on May 4, 2008, if he felt like it, and he'd never have to work again.
Honestly, I don't much like either fight, but I'm just not terribly interested in anything Oscar can do. I'd like to see him fight Winky Wright at 154, but he's not going to. Wright seems primed to return to his old, fully defensive style, and that will not only make for a dull major fight, but he's still not that marketable, as much of a star as he has become.
I think Cotto is too good and too strong at this point for Oscar. And I think Hatton gets demolished because he's not big enough. I think a potential fight with Winky isn't going to please many fans, and hurts their future selling ability. I think a rematch with Mayweather is pointless and absolutely will not happen, because Floyd already beat Oscar, would do it easier at 147, and deserves to take some time off to let his body rest.
Beyond those four guys, what are we talking about? The other top welterweights, past Mayweather and Cotto, are Paul Williams, Antonio Margarito, Kermit Cintron and Shane Mosley, and none of those fights are happening. Williams would be a style nightmare for Oscar, Mosley is his business partner, and Margarito and Cintron aren't big enough stars, plus they both hit too damn hard. There's no one that could step up from 140 to make a compelling fight. There's no one at 154 that can sell anything, the most appealing name there being Vernon Forrest, probably.
And all of this is why I really believe Oscar de la Hoya will wind up fighting Manny Pacquiao late in 2008. It is in many ways a ridiculous idea, brought up by Larry Merchant, who pitched it to Bob Arum (Merchant might've been 20% serious, but Arum loved the idea), and gaining increasing relevance as a real plan, if Dan Rafael is correct.
If Oscar really wants the toughest test, as we've always heard (and as he's many times proven), he will fight Miguel Cotto. Good luck, Golden Boy. You'd need it.
News: Kermit Cintron has instructed trainer Emanuel Steward to get him a rematch with Antonio Margarito. [Boxing Scene]
Views: Well, why not? If Cotto does get the fight with Oscar, it takes away all of Miguel's other plans, which included a March fight (probably with Joshua Clottey) and then a June bout at Madison Square Garden with Margarito. It also would erase Margarito fighting on the undercard of Cotto's proposed March HBO date, with the two showcased for their eventual PPV clash.
Cintron and Steward are right in that Margarito's destruction of Kermit in 2005 is still Margarito's big win, his highlight performance. It was the victory that let everyone in the Margarito camp talk about how avoided he was. Now that he tried to avoid and eventually lost to Paul Williams, Margarito is on the comeback trail. He put a thorough ass-kicking down on Golden Johnson on the undercard of Cotto-Mosley, which revitalized him. And he seems to have firmly accepted the loss to Williams.
With Cintron out of training until March thanks to his hand injury, the earliest the fight could happen would probably be May. But it would be a slugfest, almost certainly ending in a knockout. It would be two guys fighting for relevance in the welterweight division. Another loss would really hurt Tony Margarito, and another loss to Margarito would paint Cintron as a one-dimensional, B-level fighter. So I say sign it -- fights where two punchers have a lot to gain and lose are rarely less than exciting.
News: Samuel Peter was "nearly shot" after a domestic dispute with his wife led to an altercation with her uncle and brother. From the report: "My sister gave us a distress call in the 15th of December that her husband seized her car keys and threw her out of the hotel and I and my uncle rushed there. On approaching him, he was tearing his clothes and threatening to beat us up including my sister.
"I then went to my uncle's car to remove the gun but I wanted to scare him, not kill him, because he is so powerful and we cannot fight him. I want to say that I am not demented, I went to school and I am a married and responsible man. I agree that I pulled the gun. I only wanted to prevent him from assaulting my sister." [Vanguard Nigeria via AllAfrica.com]
Views: Quite a story, this, but I'm not a crime reporter. It doesn't seem like a lot will come of the situation, though the uncle and brother of Peter's wife have been arrested and will be arraigned soon. If we give weight to the comments above, then I've got to say I probably would have done the same thing were it my sister and were the man in question Samuel Peter. I think many people would have. But, either way, you can't go around pulling guns on people. I'm a real diplomat.
News: Two marquee lightweight fights are being discussed, one stalling and the other moving forward, though I think most of us would agree we wish it was the other way around. A fight between Juan Diaz and Nate Campbell (cleared of his legal issues when the charges were dropped) isn't progressing, though Campbell is ready and willing, and a bout pitting disgraceful RING champion Joel Casamayor and Aussie slugger Michael Katsidis looks like it's a go for March 22.
Views: Well, here's the good news. Diaz-Campbell is the much better fight on paper, and Campbell has long since earned his shot. It was Julio Diaz who ducked Campbell, but now that Julio has lost his strap to Juan, I think we'll get that fight when Diaz's in-house feud with promoter Don King comes to an end, one way or the other. I really don't expect, at this point, to see Juan in a substantial fight before his contract with King expires in March.
In the other fight, I hope Katsidis tears Casamayor apart and ends that charade. For years I defended the brash, often-annoying Casamayor as a tremendous fighter, which he most certainly was. For a long time he sat in my P4P top ten. His performance against Jose Armando Santa Cruz in November was wretched, and the judges that gave him the fight via unanimous decision were even worse. But here's the truth, too: Though he looked old and rusty, and though Katsidis is five times more ferocious and powerful than Santa Cruz, I wouldn't chalk this up as a Katsidis win that rids us of Joel Casamayor. If ring rust played a big role in that performance, or it was just a bad night, or whatever, I can't count a guy with Casamayor's skills out, even at 36 with a long amateur career before turning pro. At his best, he would box circles around Katsidis and win a clear decision.
News: All the major papers in the U.K. are reporting that a fight has been signed between cruiserweight champion David Haye and Enzo Maccarinelli, to take place on March 8.
Views: Somewhat surprising, given that all of Haye's talk had been of moving up to heavyweight, but maybe there wasn't a fight out there to his liking. He had a hell of a time making weight to fight Jean-Marc Mormeck, but his power won him that fight. Maccarinelli is almost definitely on fresher legs than Mormeck was coming in, and if Haye's conditioning is a factor again, I can see Maccarinelli becoming the new recognized cruiser champion.
It should be a good fight, and will be a real event in England. I like both guys quite a bit, and think Haye could be a revelation as a heavyweight if he stops himself at 215 pounds or so and doesn't try to get super bulked up because of the size of guys like Klitschko and Peter. It's too bad this fight won't be seen in the U.S. without some sort of miracle decision-making on behalf of a TV network that isn't HBO (they are running Peter-Maskaev in Cancun the same night).
News: Magic Man, a documentary on 140-pound titleholder Paulie Malignaggi, will be running on Showtime from December 30 through January 4, the night before Malignaggi's Showtime bout with Herman Ngoudjo.
Views: I will be catching this at some point, as I've wanted to see it since first hearing about it earlier this year. A rough cut of the film won the Audience Award at the 2007 Hoboken International Film Festival, and was produced by Lou DiBella and Brave St. Productions. I've heard nothing but good things. It makes its television premiere on Showtime 2 on Sunday at 8:15 eastern.