In boxing -- and any other sport, or any other entertainment avenue, for that matter -- opinions can change quickly, and the crowd that adored you one minute might turn on you before the next one even comes. Let's take a look at some of the names in boxing that are either on the rise or heading downhill at the moment.
It seems like Kelly Pavlik just cannot buck the trend his reputation has been on for the past 10 months. All respect is due for Pavlik taking a very dangerous fight with Paul Williams, but they didn't even manage to get to the official press conference before Pavlik pulled out with staph infection amid rumors that he's simply not in shape. I like Kelly Pavlik; I'm a Kelly Pavlik fan. But his reputation has taken massive hits since Bernard Hopkins took the "0" off his record in October 2008. Since Hopkins dominated him, he's fought just once, beating Marco Antonio Rubio, and has pulled out of two fights, the first of which he blames on Top Rank.
If he's injured, then he's injured, and nothing can be done about it now, though Pavlik's own manager is placing the blame squarely on Pavlik himself, saying he missed doctor appointments and has been dealing with the condition for "five or six" months. But if he's just out of shape, they shouldn't have gone with October 3 in the first place. I don't buy into any of the "local" rumors about Pavlik, really, but you cannot deny that he's looking less and less like the blue collar, working man's hero with the big right hand. He's being seen by many now as a primadonna that can't keep his career in order. See what I mean? It turns on you fast.
I don't think it means much at all, but you can't help but say that Roy Jones Jr. looked pretty damn good in his dominant whooping of Jeff Lacy on Saturday. Lacy looked pitiful and like he should seriously retire from boxing before he gets hurt, though instead he'll probably turn into an ESPN2 journeyman, and every fight, Teddy Atlas will remind us of what he almost was. But Jones' stock doesn't rise so much because of the fight, but because of the job he did as promoter. This was brought up in the comments on the last Jones story I did: Roy might be carrying on like he is in large part to build Square Ring, and I said there and will say again I think he's done a phenomenal job building Square Ring Promotions the right way. He hasn't gotten in over his head, hasn't rushed anything, hasn't had to take any big baths on anything, and he's showing -- slowly but surely -- his ability to promote entire cards and not just Roy Jones fights on top of them. Remember, it was Square Ring that piggy-backed the bogus "Calzaghe Promotions" all through the hype tour for Calzaghe-Jones last November, and that came from multiple sources that were disappointed with how little Calzaghe did as a promoter.
WBC welterweight titlist Andre Berto has always had his doubters, as any highly-hyped prospect will. But the crowd is starting to get pretty clear: Fight genuine opponents and stop screwing around with overmatched guys we know you can beat. And as much as I like Berto as a fighter and as a person, consider me part of the choir. Andre needs to fight Luis Collazo again and erase the doubts there, or fight Shane Mosley or Joshua Clottey. There's literally nobody else worth fighting in the allegedly "loaded" 147-pound division save for guys that are already busy (Cotto and Mayweather). Nobody wants to see Berto take another opponent like Miki Rodriguez, Steve Forbes, Juan Urango or Michel Trabant. He's called a champion by his promoter, who should start treating him like he believes in that claim.
Let's stick with that down arrow and welterweights: Shane Mosley needs to fight. He's not getting any younger, and I'm sorry, Sugar, but there's just not a "big fight" out there for you. I read an article recently that applauded Mosley for not being content to sit and wait, accompanied by the very soft rumor that he'd fight Joshua Clottey before the end of 2009, and I kind of had to double-take. Mosley has been content to sit back and wait for fights before, and he's doing it again. Problem is he's 37 years old now. The last time he sat out too long, he put in a horribly lackluster performance at 154 pounds against Ricardo Mayorga. Frankly speaking, I think Mosley beats Berto convincingly and I think he beats Clottey, too. He's got to accept that as unfortunate and even wrong as it is, he's not a superstar, and he never has been one. He was never an A-side fighter.
It's a shame, though, how little Mosley has capitalized on the stunning and dominant win over Antonio Margarito in January. If you can remember those few hours when the wraps controversy wasn't the No. 1 thing in your mind, you'll recall just how amazing Mosley's performance really was. Too bad nothing has come of it.
Cristobal Cruz's entertaining, barroom brawl-type win over Jorge Solis surprised me greatly and gave me even more respect for the veteran who seems to have found his groove in a big, big way. He's one-dimensional, but he makes it count. The featherweight titlist hasn't climbed the ladder so much as he's started kicking in the doors at 126 pounds. He's one of the surprise stories of the last two years.
One for this weekend's HBO card: Paulie Malignaggi says he feels like he's been set up to fail in the goofy, 138.5-pound catchweight fight against 135-pound contender Juan Diaz. I'm not all about motivational posters or even reading too much into what guys say a lot of the time, but that's loser talk. I actually fully expect Diaz to just completely walk through Malignaggi now. I don't know how much desire Paulie really has left. He's a punchless fighter whose boxing skills have seemed to steadily erode. He was outboxed and outsmarted badly by Ricky Hatton last year, and he barely won his rematch with Lovemore N'dou prior to that fight. I think he knows everything is a longshot against the top level guys.
Though the win wasn't quite definitive over Nate Campbell, Timothy Bradley looked so sharp and so much better than Campbell in their August 1 bout that I think Campbell's injury only made a stoppage loss (which should probably be changed to a no-contest) come earlier than it otherwise would have. Bradley is a rare beast in boxing. He got some hype, but not on the level of Berto or Amir Khan. His first step up in competition came when he beat Junior Witter on Witter's own turf, and since then he's done nothing but look better and better in wins over Kendall Holt and now Campbell. I don't think even Campbell would argue that in their brief encounter, he was clearly outgunned by the younger man.