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Boxing Thoughts: 07/16/2007

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Hey, Rafael does it, why can't everyone else? Besides, sometimes it's nice to drop the guise of being anything remotely resembling a responsible journalist presenting facts and stories with some opinion to just giving opinions. I'm not a journalist, I write in a blog. Why front?

  • What do I really think of the Hatton/Mayweather saga? I've said it before, but let's go further. Hatton dug his own grave calling out Floyd, and he knows it. Trying to get Mayweather to go down to 140 is a move designed to worm his way out of the fight and save the most face he possibly can. He can't beat Floyd, and he knows it. If he was on the fence about it, I'm sure someone has come to him with the honest opinion. And he runs a really high risk of being outright embarrassed by Mayweather. Floyd's too good. Oscar de la Hoya means the same or more money, he's willing to do it in England (so much for Hatton's U.S. tour) and he can beat Oscar, even if he goes back up to 147, where he looked like just another guy.

    And Matt said this part, too, but this reputation Hatton has as some exciting, blood-and-guts fighter is bullshit. He is a smart boxer who knows his limitations, and he works around them. And Hatton is also a great guy. But being nice and funny and enjoying a pint doesn't make Hatton better than what he is. I think he's good, and I think he's usually enjoyable, but what's the last Hatton fight that had any real excitement? You have to go back a couple of years, to the Kostya Tszyu fight.

    Ricky Hatton has a strong fanbase in Britain, but his fans there are basically the same as Philadelphia Bernard Hopkins fans or Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto fans. They will always tell you their guy is A-number one, the best around, and they'll give you the same jive that the promoters will. And forget about the British press, who will applaud things like Hatton "daring" Mayweather to come down to 140 for a fight. These are the same guys that will give Mikkel Kessler no chance against Joe Calzaghe, and will ignore Calzaghe and Frank Warren's many duck jobs over the years because of the fact that he's British. Their cousins write for NME, and will tell you that the Kaiser Chiefs are good one minute, then slobber all over Noel Gallagher bashing their newest hot band that's going to save the world.

    Forget about it. Hatton can't beat Mayweather. Hatton won't fight Mayweather. He'll fight Oscar, probably, and that doesn't promise to be a thrillride. Plus, Oscar won't even be able to act like he's been personally slighted. Who the hell is going to play the bad guy for him?

  • Am I the only one that thinks Mikkel Kessler will destroy Joe Calzaghe in front of 60,000 strong in Wales?
  • Oscar de la Hoya's return to the welterweight division means only that the division has another really good fighter. He's not going to be challenging for any titles. He's an attraction now, who will fight once a year, paired up with a guy with whom he can make some good bank. Mayorga fit the bill one way, Mayweather fit the bill in another way. A trip to Wembley with Ricky Hatton could be the next big fight. As bad as Winky wants to get Oscar in the ring, it won't happen. Winky Wright is feared in a way that no other boxer is. Lots of guys can make fighters look bad, but Winky is also very good and can win a good fight. It's not like Zahir Raheem.
  • The 154-pound division does not have a single marketable fighter that is on anyone's radar.
  • I think HBO deserves some backhanded kudos for their September 15 pay-per-view. While Marquez/Barrios is hardly a money fight, they have provided an intriguing undercard, with Kassim Ouma hopefully ridding us of Sergio Mora and Steve Forbes back in the ring against Francisco Bojado. The newest addition to the undercard: Robert Guerrero defending his featherweight title against the entertaining Rocky Juarez.
  • I still can't figure out the appeal of Pacquiao/Barrera II. Marco should fare better than Morales did last November, but I don't think it'll be much better.
  • I'll pay for Mayorga/Vargas and I'll probably pay for Jones/Trinidad, but I won't pay for Wright/Hopkins. Styles make fights. Fighters make fights. Wright and Hopkins can promise all day and reach the moon on a promise rocket about taking the fight to each other, but the bottom line is there's nothing interesting about them going head-to-head. It's a glorified exhibition. If only we could just pay for the undercard.
  • The upcoming rematch between Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez could go two explosive rounds as easily as it does 12. Either way, it'll be a fight.
  • It's been a tough year for the great warrior fighters of our generation. Arturo Gatti now joins Micky Ward in retirement, Jose Luis Castillo should by all boxing measurements join them, and Diego Corrales passed away in May, which followed a fight where he looked spent, too. Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera are both not far off.
  • Isn't it weird that Zab Judah seems this serious about his career? He always struck me as a guy that would kind of walk away from boxing rather easily, sort of a Mayweather type where this was more business than genuine love. But Zab is fighting on the September 7 edition of Friday Night Fights. Maybe something about the Cotto bout re-awakened him. It was his best performance in a long time, no doubt about that.
  • Doesn't it seem like Vitali Klitschko's comeback has gone somewhat below the radar? He's fighting a solid opponent instead of some chump he could rough up at 60% of his old effectiveness, and it'll be on Showtime. Plus, if he's even 80% the fighter he used to be, he's instantly a top five heavyweight.
  • If someone seriously runs a Byrd/Brock eliminator to set up a mandatory for Wladimir Klitschko, we'll have all the evidence we need of the sanctioning bodies being completely useless.
  • Apparently, Wlad was invited to fight on the undercard of the Ibragimov/Chagaev fight. Because that was going to happen.
  • Part of me hopes we don't see an Humberto Soto/Joan Guzman fight this fall, which has been rumored now that Pacquiao/Barrera is definitely on.
  • Jermain Taylor's impending move to 168 has me rooting for Kessler on November 3rd. I think Calzaghe/Taylor could be pretty good, but I think Kessler/Taylor could be tremendous. Kessler's aggressive style would bring out the best in Taylor.
  • The Versus Network has got to get over their boner for Kid Diamond. He's scheduled to face Prawet Singwangcha in the main event on August 30, which will mark his third appearance on the network this year. The first two have not been impressive, as a shot Emanuel Augustus took him to the limit and Miguel Huerta beat the hell out of him before being robbed in the decision.
  • Fres Oquendo returns this week. Someone get out the party hats!
  • Do you realize John Ruiz is only 35? The last seven years of Ruiz being a "name heavyweight" have felt like an eternity. When's he coming back, anyway? Maybe we can get Ruiz/Oquendo II. Party hats!
  • Here's an idea for the next Wladimir Klitschko undercard, or for some undercard: Chris Arreola v. Alexander Dimitrenko. Why not? Enough with the obsession with undefeated records. When these guys don't fight anyone, 25-0 is the same as 10-0. They're not learning enough, and they'll still get pummeled when they run into a truly good fighter. Ask Calvin Brock, who spent most of his pro career fighting really small heavyweights that couldn't punch, save for Jameel McCline, before he ran into Wladimir Klitschko. What good did it do him?
  • Joel Julio is the real deal. I probably thought of him now because of the last part; he ran into Carlos Quintana and wasn't ready for him. He got something from that fight, and has recovered very well at this point. He's smooth, he can box, and he has power. He's got all the tools to be a legit world champion. Actually, if he's going to stay at 154, he could be the division's savior. Just keep him away from Cory Spinks.
  • Anyone else noticed that Stevie Johnston has gone back down to 135 and is fighting well after being essentially executed at 140 last year by Vivian Harris? Johnston fights again on August 11 in Denver against Rolando Reyes. The lightweight division has lots of potential, especially if the Juan Diaz/Julio Diaz fight goes off as is tentatively planned for October 13.
  • Since all the champions are decidedly busy for the next however long (like guys avoiding phone calls from girls they don't really want to hang out with), I await Evander Holyfield's road to the championship to continue with an announcement that he'll be fighting Hasim Rahman. A fat Rahman might be a step up in competition from Vinny Madalone and Lou Savarese. On second thought, and after considering that Sykes fight, probably not. Which, of course, makes him the perfect Holyfield opponent. Party hats!
  • Chad Dawson v. Adrian Diaconu is scheduled for November 10, probably on Showtime. For once, a mandatory defense is actually worth seeing.
  • I think one thing that's largely ignored when people compare the audiences of boxing in MMA is the popularity boxing has elsewhere in the world. In Canada, there are a lot of really good young fighters emerging and creating something of a scene. British boxing has come into its own, led by Hatton and Calzaghe. The Europeans still churn out great crowds routinely. And, again, big boxing fights still sell in America. UFC in particular is wildly popular, but I can't help but wonder if MMA in America will kind of boil down to being a fad. It's not a knock on the sport, which I love. It's just UFC seems more like an entire marketing strategy than it does a sport, if that makes sense. Having reality TV be the ultimate springboard for the sport's popularity is one problem. In my head, I sooner compare UFC's popularity to that of American Chopper or Dog the Bounty Hunter than I do any sport. Maybe it's just me.