It's been a while since I've done one of these, but lots of stuff is happening, so let's talk some boxing.
- I was all set to write a big thing on March belonging to boxing, but basically everyone else has done the same thing. Given that "March Madness" is such a big sports phrase, it pretty much made itself. But, seriously, what kind of month was this?
Vazquez-Marquez III, an instant classic. Marquez-Pacquiao II, an instant classic. Casamayor-Katsidis, not quite an instant classic but a hell of a fight, one that would be getting FotY talk this early if there hadn't been two better fights in the previous three weeks. Nate Campbell upsetting Juan Diaz, which seemed like a stunner, and then, Brian freakin' Vera shocks the world by knocking off Andy Lee. And -- not that it compares since the decision stunk and it wasn't quite the huge upset the other two were -- Verno Phillips takes Cory Spinks' 154-pound trinket away in St. Louis.
There were no less than FOUR legit world title fights this month -- Vazquez-Marquez, Marquez-Pacquiao, Haye-Maccarinelli, and Casamayor-Katsidis.
And yet there was even MORE to be excited about. Haye-Macca didn't live up to the hype of being a grueling war, but it's tough for a second round knockout to not be exciting. There was even a heavyweight title fight that didn't flat-out stink.
Tell us again how boxing is dead. This is not stuff you'll read about in Sports Illustrated or hear about on SportsCenter or get from all the lazy ass columnists that are content to pop up once a year when Oscar de la Hoya fights, proclaiming the sport a lost cause with a dwindling fanbase that only "The Golden Boy" gets together.
Marquez-Pacquiao II just set a PPV record for 135-pounds and under, with 400,000 buys. Pacquiao is an absolute pay-per-view force, which unfortunately makes his June 28 fight with David Diaz a moneymaker for Top Rank and HBO on pay-per-view. It's too bad, because that fight isn't PPV quality.
- Speaking of great March fights, it looks like there was yet another one last night. On Telemundo, Jose Reyes (22-4, 8 KO) knocked out veteran Ivan Valle (27-6-1, 22 KO) in the fourth round. Sounds routine, right? There were six knockdowns in the fight -- both men went down three times apiece. Valle was down twice in the first, flipped the script and put Reyes down before the round ended, and then knocked Reyes down in both the second and third rounds. Valle was caught with a left hook in the fourth, and waved his arms over his chest and didn't try to get up at the 24-second mark. Cliff Rold has more details -- sounds like one I'll be trying to track down, since Telemundo isn't available for me.
- On Friday Night Fights, former 154-pound titlist and middleweight championship challenger Kassim Ouma dropped his third straight fight, losing a tight unanimous decision to fellow fringe contender Cornelius "K-9" Bundrage, on scores of 95-94, 95-94 and 96-93. Ouma hasn't looked outright bad in a single one of his three straight failings (Jermain Taylor, Saul Roman and Bundrage), but three losses in a row is three losses in a row. He'll have to claw his way back up the ladder. If anyone has the spirit to do that, it's Ouma.
- Being a former huge pro wrestling nerd, I almost entertained the idea of ordering WrestleMania XXIV just to see the Mayweather spectacle against the Big Show. I can't get myself to spend that money, particularly because Mayweather has been absolutely piss-poor in the build-up. I don't know what Dan Rafael finds so amusing about it all, really; and it's not that I have anything against Floyd in pro wrestling, either. It's just that even in that world of corny, hideous actors, Floyd sticks out like a sore thumb. He is awful.
- What are the chances of Enzo Calzaghe's big four going 0-4 to start 2008? Gavin Rees predictably lost, and now wants to go down to 135 to face Amir Khan. Enzo Maccarinelli was creamed by Haye, and the elder Calzaghe's comments afterward smacked of bitterness, as if the fight going 12 rounds is an issue when your guy gets knocked out in the second. I'm picking Joe Calzaghe over Hopkins, but that's no sure thing at all, and clearly I don't like Gary Lockett's chances against Kelly Pavlik.
- Dan Rafael's notebook, as always, is chock full of great info. But here was my favorite tidbit: Junior Witter v. Timothy Bradley and a re-scheduled Carl Froch v. Denis Inkin on a special ShoBox, coming on May 10. Not 100% done yet, Dan says, but he expects it will happen. That'd be an utter treat for us American fans, who have been sadly deprived of Witter, in particular. It probably wouldn't do big ratings, but as a ShoBox, it wouldn't be expected to, either. Unfortunately for Tim Bradley, I get the feeling that him fighting Witter will look like man versus child.
- Speaking of great secondary premium cable cards, how about the May 17 Boxing After Dark? James Kirkland taking on Eromosele Albert, Yuriorkis Gamboa versus an opponent to be named (any Gamboa fight has me hooked), and Alfredo Angulo against Richard Gutierrez. That is a phenomenal lineup, and what B.A.D. is supposed to be all about.
- Mikkel Kessler's bizarre management keeps getting weirder. It appears now, after bogus claims that Kessler would fight Anthony Mundine in May, the Dane is now considering moving up to 175 pounds, thanks to Danny Green retiring and leaving an alphabet title open. The idea is that the WBA would just give Kessler a decent enough ranking to fight for the vacant strap. Give me a break. Kessler and his handlers lose credibility every time you hear something about them.
- The Mosley-Judah press conferences have been full of trash talking, good timin' junk. Judah wants Mosley to submit to a pre-fight drug test, and Mosley said he'd agree if they test for "other stuff" in addition to performance-enhancing drugs. I still wish we weren't going to be gouged $44.95 at the least to see a non-title fight that is really more about angling into another title shot for the winner than anything else, but I do think it'll be good while it lasts. I don't think it's going to last too long, though. Mosley has always been too good for Judah, I'd say, and that is absolutely not changing now.
- ESPN Classic buying the rights to Showtime's library is phenomenal news. If there's nothing else on TV worth my time and I'm just lazing about, you're damn right I'll stop and watch something like Corrales-Castillo or the Vazquez-Marquez fights.
- Why are some people so in love with appointing Michael Katsidis as the heir to Arturo Gatti's action star throne? Jesus, there are a lot of exciting fighters that deliver every time out, not just Katsidis. The sport is not starving for great fights at this point. Israel Vazquez, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Rafael Marquez, Kermit Cintron, Juan Diaz, Juan Manuel Marquez, Kelly Pavlik, and the list goes on and on.
- It has as close to no chance as possible, like I've said before (and like anyone else will tell you), but seriously. Imagine if Stevie Forbes upset Oscar. As much as I do like Oscar, I'm rooting for just that. I can't even imagine the reaction of Jim Lampley.
- Pavlik-Lockett might wind up being a really fun fight to watch, but like it or not, it's a mismatch. Thank God HBO is pairing it with the truly exciting matchup between Daniel Ponce de Leon and Juan Manuel Lopez. That could be a firecracker of a fight.
- Still waiting for a Peter-Vitali announcement? I'm not. I'm waiting for the announcement after that, where Vitali suffers a back strain in training and it needs to be postponed, and then the announcement two months later where he needs to go ahead and call it off entirely and go back into retirement. The guy can't make it through a proper training camp, and if he half-asses it, Sam Peter will take his head off. Peter is not the Tyson-like revolution some want him to be, but he's a serious puncher and Vitali Klitschko better make sure he's 100%.
- Best wishes to Zahir Raheem, who was injured in an automobile accident recently and had to pull out of an April 18 ESPN2 fight. Raheem is not seriously hurt at all, but didn't want to risk anything by going straight into training.
- I've said it a million times already, but let's say it again, and I'll say it again every time until the charade is called off: Roy Jones, Jr., would annihilate Anderson Silva in a boxing contest. Anderson Silva would quite probably destroy Jones in an MMA contest, and the only reason I give Jones any chance there is because what he knows is all legal in MMA, and the chance of him dropping Silva with a big right hand very quickly is realistic. In a kickboxing rules match? Gotta favor Silva again. Guys that can't kick suck at kickboxing, that's been proven a billion times over.
There are some boxing purists that point to the sloppy punching technique of MMA fighters as proof positive that Silva would be manhandled by Jones. Look, I agree that he would be, but you absolutely have to take into account that when those guys stand and punch, they're worried about a lot more than just fists coming back at them. The whole body is in play in their environment, and they can't sit down and load up on their punches, nor can they take a proper boxing stance too often. They have to defend against kicks, against shoot attempts, against so much other stuff. If you put Anderson Silva in a boxing environment, his punches are going to look like fine. His technique would be fine. But Roy Jones, Jr., has trained nothing but boxing for years, and it's just a no-brainer to me.
In short, I think Anderson Silva, as good as he is, would have as much chance to beat Jones boxing as I thought Kermit Cintron had in that discussed MMA fight with Sean Sherk. As hard as Cintron punches, Sherk was a wonderful example of probably the worst possible idea for a boxer to try and fight.
I really hope people stop talking about this soon, too. Not because I wouldn't be intrigued, because I'd love the chance for boxing and MMA fans to maybe really come together and understand that there doesn't have to be this stupid divide between us, and that a lot of us like both sports and respect the fighters as a whole.
No, I want the talk to go away simply because this won't happen. UFC's Dana White won't allow it because it would make the pound-for-pound best fighter in his company and the entire sport of MMA look bad. And even if Dana went ahead and green-lighted this thing, you have to remember that it's Roy Jones, one of the great pains in the ass come contract negotiation time. Forget it -- it ain't happening.
- Is Joel Casamayor back in the P4P top 20 mix? The difference between the Casamayor that "showed up" to "fight" Jose Armando Santa Cruz and the guy that knocked Michael Katsidis loopy is amazing. Speaking of the top 20, we'll be updating it again after Hopkins-Calzaghe. Another question to ponder: Does Jermain Taylor stay, even with his two straight losses? I'll tell you one thing, Wladimir Klitschko is off my list. I know he's good, but none of his last three fights have been impressive at all. Ray Austin was a joke, Lamon Brewster didn't want to be there, and Sultan Ibragimov might as well have worn oven mitts and a football helmet.
- The floating report that Carlos Quintana is holding up a possible rematch with Paul Williams has left me feeling conflicted. For one thing, I do think it's the best fight for both guys. And on one hand, I agree with Quintana's qualms about the money. He should be paid better than he was the first time around. But his insistence that it be on June 14 and not June 7 is a little weird. Showtime has June 7 open; that's the way it is. The money can be settled, I'm sure. And I hope it is, because I'd love to see that fight again.
- Apparently, Darnell Wilson's going to get a title shot against Firat Arslan in Europe. He loses to B.J. Flores, so he's rewarded with a world title shot. As screwy as some might find that, and for as much as I felt Flores rather soundly embarrassed the overhyped "Ding-a-Ling Man," let me be nowhere near the first to say that I'd rather see Wilson fight than Flores any day o the week. Screw it -- give me good fights and I'm happy. All the sanctioning body B.S. sadly just comes with the meal, like a side dish you aren't allowed to substitute out.
- Winky Wright says he'd fight Edison Miranda at 160 pounds. Winky Wright knows damn well Edison Miranda can't make 160 pounds anymore. Here are the five fights I'd most like to see Miranda get right now: 1. Lucian Bute, 2. Librado Andrade, 3. fellow Colombian Fulgencio Zuniga, 4. Sakio Bika, 5. a rematch with Allan Green. Miranda-Andrade could turn into a fight that would make even the most hardened fight fan wince.
- I actually applaud Brian Vera's team for not giving Andy Lee a rematch. Would Lee and Manny Steward have given Vera a rematch had he lost in a similarly exciting fashion? Absolutely not. Top Rank still plans to sign Andy Lee, Bob Arum says, and they want to put him in Atlantic City on June 7, off TV on the Pavlik card. I still really like Andy Lee, but you never know how a fighter will respond to failure.
- Unlike Mosley-Judah, the more I think about it, the less interested I am in Mayweather-Oscar II. And this talk about a 2009 rematch with Ricky Hatton is preposterous. I know it's all about money, but for the love of God, does ANYONE need to see that fight again? Actually, should Floyd survive '08 unbeaten, as he almost certainly will, and Hatton gets past Lazcano and then probably Paulie Malignaggi, and they DO sign on for Floyd-Ricky II, then it'd be a great double duck. Let Miguel Cotto and Junior Witter get ringside tickets for that one.
- Anyone that picks Showtime's light heavyweight show over HBO's welterweight double-header on April 12 is nuts. I like the Showtime card just fine, but Cintron-Margarito II will end in a knockout, and I think Cotto-Gomez will be a very entertaining mismatch. At the same time, I figure you see Dawson out-quick Glen Johnson for 12 rounds, and Clinton Woods embarrass Antonio Tarver without knocking him out. Tarver would need a Casamayor-like rebirth to beat the tough, aggressive Woods on April 12, and I don't think he's got that kind of guile.