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News & Views: Pavlik-Lockett, Miranda-Kessler, Castillo-Bradley, Juan Diaz and Don King

News: Frank Warren has told BBC Sport that he is close to securing a deal for Welshman Gary Lockett (30-1, 21 KO) to face reigning middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik (33-0, 29 KO) on June 7 in Pavlik's first title defense since winning the title last September. HBO will televise the fight.

Views: Before anyone gets all up in arms about Lockett being a weak opponent, you have to consider that he is the WBO mandatory, which is slightly ridiculous, all things considered, but it is what it is, and Pavlik either has to fight him or forfeit that belt.

Though their system is certainly flawed in many regards, Lockett sits at No. 25 in's middleweight rankings, and his best win is over...well, I don't know. Lee Blundell? Ryan Rhodes? He has a record padded with scattered guys who also had padded records. He has never fought even a top 30 middleweight.

On paper, he has no chance against Pavlik. It'd be easy to hope that since he has absolutely nothing to lose, he'd at least come looking to give Pavlik a real fight, and provide us with excitement if nothing else. But how many times do we see totally overmatched fighters just give up on themselves by the fourth round and only try to take it the full 12, so they can gloat that they weren't knocked out?

News: Edison Miranda called out Mikkel Kessler, and Kessler basically said, "No thanks!" This all came about after the proposed Miranda-Jean Pascal fight fell apart, as most of us expected it might. [Seminole Warriors press release]

Views: Two sets of views on this one, both of them eerily similar.

1. Hey, Mikkel! Get back in the ring already!
Who, exactly, is Mikkel Kessler to be turning down lucrative fights? Reportedly, HBO and Showtime BOTH expressed interest in buying the fight, which is a testament to Kessler's ability and the good showing he made for himself in his loss to Calzaghe last November, and to Miranda's exciting nature and power style. Kessler seems to be sitting around waiting for a fight with Winky Wright or Jermain Taylor to materialize. Unfortunately for him, there may not be enough money in it for either of them. Kessler is a good fighter, but he's starting to give the impression that the Calzaghe loss has affected him more than it should. You fought well. You lost. Move on.

2. Hey, Edison! ...shut up.
I know trash-talking is the biggest part of his game besides his right hand, but enough already. Miranda is still struggling to erase the memory of Kelly Pavlik beating him from pillar to post and back again last May. As much as people like to watch Miranda fight (and I'm with them), it's hard for his biggest fans, even, to get over the Pavlik loss. Many seem to want to ignore that it happened or make up scenarios that center on Miranda having won the fight. Not only didn't he win, he got the shit beaten out of him.

My favorite Miranda quote was this one, not because it bothers me, but because it's funny: "Kessler should turn his horned helmet in after disgracing such a tribe of true fighters. He talks like a fighter, has tattoos like he's a tough guy, but when it comes down to being a real fighter, he's not even worthy of carrying my gloves."

Kessler's tattoos are, in his own words, a result of him liking vikings and sci-fi. They're about as "tough guy" as a tramp stamp.

I'd like to see Kessler-Miranda, too, and in most ways, Miranda is right. We aren't going to see it, though. Kessler seems content to wait for a bigger American name.

And as far as Miranda-Pascal goes, that fight couldn't have written a better falling apart scenario.

Step One: Hype Miranda and Pascal on the same night on Friday Night Fights.

Step Two: Have Pascal barely escape a crap fighter he was dominating before taking his foot off the gas pedal, and then have Miranda nearly decapitate David Banks with a single right hand.

Step Three: Continue to talk it up! Hype the fight for which you have nothing signed!

Step Four: Just sit back, relax with a Cognac, and wait for the fight to never, ever happen.

ESPN's boxing has become a pathetic ruse to fill programming time and to placate the fans that would be pissed off if they dumped FNF from their schedule. Sure, you very occasionally get a good fight, but usually it's the same ol' shit, journeyman v. young lion, young lion dominates, Tessitore puts on the voice and contends that we'll be seeing much more of (young lion's name), and then they soon graduate to Shobox where they get actual fights, or Boxing After Dark, or whatever. Friday Night Fights has all the necessary ingredients to be a great vehicle for boxing, but instead it shows the casual fan nothing but bad fights with mostly bad fighters. I really think ESPN's largely awful TV boxing presentation and the fact that they merely pay lip service to major fights on SportsCenter are a big reason so many people think boxing is a dead sport.

News: Following all the controversy surrounding his weight, Jose Luis Castillo was asked by WBC president and all-around crooked schmuck Jose Sulaiman to step to the scales for an unofficial weigh-in after Oleg Maskaev and Samuel Peter weighed in in Cancun last night. Uh-oh -- Castillo weighed in at 147 1/2 pounds, 7 1/2 over the 140-pound limit for tomorrow night's fight.

Now, Castillo can make the weight. But how wrecked will his body be? Castillo needs to stop signing for fights if he can't make the weight. He not only hurts himself and his own checkbook, but he screws with the careers of the other fighter, too. They could have been fighting someone else instead of wasting their time dicking around with him.

I know a lot of people like Castillo and feel bad for his financial situation, and while I feel terrible for his family and for him as a human being that he's been down on his luck, it's a sliding scale. They aren't starving. Plus, Castillo has done all of this to himself. His screw-ups and mistakes are the reason he's where he is, fighting on for money and nothing more. And he STILL can't get himself into shape for a fight, even though it's apparently so important that he make the money?

Gary Shaw and everyone else owe Castillo nothing. If he doesn't make weight, don't let him fight. He's a grown man, has been around the block a few times, and knows that he has to make weight. If he can't make 140, like he couldn't make 135, he needs to go to 147. Yeah, he's way too small for the division, but since when does that stop anyone from fighting?

News: Don King announced that the Juan Diaz-Nate Campbell fight on Saturday will be the last time that he promotes Diaz.

Views: It was overdue, the announcement, and thank God. I know I've bashed King pretty hard, and he generally deserves it, but this situation doesn't stink of him quite as much as it does Diaz's manager, Willie Savannah. King isn't the first person to have trouble in the Diaz camp because of Savannah. Diaz's lawyer resigned in February. It also bears repeating that King helped make Diaz the star he is today, getting him good fights that Diaz dominated, especially the two bouts last year with Popo Freitas and Julio Diaz. And though he stepped in the way of a Michael Katsidis fight, he had every legal right to do so, AND he gave Diaz a very suitable replacement opponent -- who also happened to be a title mandatory.

The only guy I blame for none of this saga is Diaz himself. I get the impression he would have fought whomever he was told to. Managers and promoters, man. What are you gonna do?

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