It seems very likely that Jermain Taylor will indeed step into the ring with top-ranked contender Kelly Pavlik in September, according to Dan Rafael.
Publicly, Taylor's only concern with the fight was money, and whether there was enough of it. That seems to be the case, as Lou DiBella (Taylor's promoter) and Bob Arum (Pavlik's) have hammered out a deal in principle for September 29 on HBO.
HBO has reportedly offered nearly $5 million, which exceeds the cap they have to give for their exclusive contract with Taylor, and is a testament to HBO's desire to see this fight and their regard for both fighters. Taylor has long been an HBO star, and Pavlik looks well on his way.
It's a great relief -- for now -- that we're going to see this fight take place. Taylor catches criticism in some circles for his recent opponents, and he certainly could have fought Edison Miranda on May 19 instead of Cory Spinks, but it's not like Spinks or Kassim Ouma are bad fighters. They're talented 154-pounders. The problem, of course, is that Taylor is the No. 1 160-pound fighter in the sport.
Pavlik is legit, and he's the No. 1 contender, and the fight needs to happen for several reasons. First off, boxing fans want to see it. HBO knows that, both fighters and their camps know that. Giving the fans fights they wish to see is always a good business decision for everyone.
Going deeper, it could help to rehab Taylor's reputation. DiBella is right -- Taylor doesn't duck opponents, and by taking on Pavlik, he will again prove that. Taylor/Wright II didn't happen for a lot of reasons, but I don't think Taylor had anything to do with it.
Anyway, it's great news. It's the fight at 160 that people want to see, and now we'll get to see it.
ESPN ran a great headline: "Morrison: MMA fighter has no chance vs. boxer" -- it's the type of sensationalistic, bullshit reporting that ESPN specializes in. Morrison didn't say that, really. Morrison did say that John Stover has no chance against him when the two fight (if the two fight) at an MMA event in Arizona on Saturday night. Stover is a 325-pound man who doesn't even have a record listed on Sherdog, so Morrison is probably right -- he'll go in, deck the guy on the chin, and that'll be it.
The boxing/MMA rivalry is outrageous. I don't think there are a whole lot of athletes on either side that don't respect what the other does. But the press wants to paint it as some turf war, and Dana White didn't help things with his bush league actions after the Mayweather fight with Sean Sherk. That was pure carny garbage on White's part, which I think is out of character for him, and I don't know why he bothered.
If Stover actually shows up to fight Morrison (and there are doubts that he will), then expect Tommy to win early simply because he's an athlete who can punch.
Vitali Klitschko wants to fight Jameel McCline in September, which is a mild surprise to a lot of people, though I don't think it should be unexpected. I believe Vitali Klitschko truly feels that if he's going end his retirement at age 36 and make a comeback, he wants to do it against good figthers, not tomato cans that he could beat with minimal training on pure skill and knowledge. McCline isn't a world-beater, but he's a strong fighter. I think it's pretty admirable, all things considered.
Paul Spadafora is back in prison on alleged parole violation, but it may turn out to not be such a big deal. Spadafora and his ex-girlfriend, Nadine Russo, both sought protection from abuse orders against one another. Spadafora's promoter, Michael Acri, says that the arrest was automatic once Russo filed the order. Spadafora's attorney says that Russo has been giving his client trouble since his release. A hearing is currently scheduled for June 13, and if it is proven that Spadafora has violated parole, he could wind up back in prison for the remainder of his original sentence.
Larry Merchant will be remaining with HBO after the network dealt with numerous complaints regarding the replacement of the 76-year old analyst with Max Kellerman, signing a new two-year deal with a two-year mutual option. Further details were not disclosed.
Praise be. I have nothing against Kellerman, and I hope that one day he's in Merchant's chair. But Larry Merchant is an integral part of an HBO broadcast, an analyst that isn't afraid to call anyone out for anything, and often speaks the in the interests of the audience when addressing fighters, promoters, or the entire boxing establishment. Merchant is vital, in my mind. And he still knows his stuff, to boot. He will work less dates and Kellerman will fill in for him on occasion.
Erik Morales is definitely going to be facing David Diaz on August 4 on a pay-per-view from Chicago for Diaz's WBC 135-pound title, which Diaz never really won and was awarded after Joel Casamayor reportedly refused to fight him, a claim the Casamayor camp still denies.
Casamayor, on the other hand, has now cancelled his June 22 bout in Panama because the WBC has given him an interim title. Someone explain these people again? Casamayor hopes to fight the winner of Diaz/Morales.
Right now, Juan Manuel Marquez is tentatively scheduled to face 30-year old Argentinian Jorge Rodrigo Barrios on September 15. Barrios is the former WBO super featherweight champion and is a good opponent. He has an idential record to Marquez's (47-3-1) and is still a top contender. I'm not sure if it's something I'd pay for, but it's a good-looking fight on paper.
Sergio Mora will return to the ring against Raymond Joval on August 10's Friday Night Fights. Here's a big "Who cares?"
The proposed Clinton Woods/Julio Gonzalez co-feature on June 23 under Hatton/Castillo is officially off, and promoters have scrambled to put together a fight between Antwun Echols and Victor Oganov. HBO will not air the fight in the States, which is odd considering the chance of knockout in that one is probably 99%. The two will fight for the vacant IBO super middleweight title.
MSG is again stepping up their coverage to bring live European boxing to the States, as they will televise a card on Saturday that features Tomasz Adamek v. Luis Pineda and the return of Andrew Golota. Give Don King credit for one thing, if nothing else: He's bringing us boxing. The card starts at 3:30pm eastern.
We will be live on Saturday night for the Cotto/Judah card, assuming all goes well with our horrendous cable provider here. If not, I think there's a chance that Matt and/or Kevin will catch that card, and if all else fails, we will go to our backup plan and cover the Tarver/Muriqi and Dawson/Ruiz card on Showtime, live as it happens.