The boxing beat is a weekly round-up of news from around the world of boxing as well as previews of the coming weekend's action.
- Manny Pacquiao returns to the ring on June 9 in a legitimately dangerous fight against Timothy Bradley. But he's now making it sound like it could be his last as he told a Filipino radio station that God told him he has "done enough" and should retire.
Of course, it's worth noting that this comes at the same time that charges were filed against Manny in the Philippines for criminal tax charges that carry with them up to two years in jail, and also charges for housing a fugitive. I'd be lying if I said I thought it was mere coincidence that there was quickly an attempt to shift focus away from "Good Guy Manny" getting into legal trouble. It's worth remembering that Freddie Roach has talked about how Manny is "broke" and "goes through money like you wouldn't believe" so the idea of him stepping away now, especially with pending legal charges, is kind of crazy.
- Brandon Rios and Juan Manuel Marquez will be co-headlining an April 14 pay-per-view and, should both men win, Top Rank would like them to meet in a battle of the #1 and #2 lightweights in the world in Cowboys Stadium. Rios was originally supposed to be fighting Yuriorkis Gamboa in a fight that would have been on HBO, but when Gamboa pulled out of the fight he was replaced by Richard Abril with that bout still in Vegas. That fight wasn't picked up by HBO so Top Rank will hold it on PPV with Marquez fighting Sergey Fedchenko in the co-headline fight from Mexico. Both men should roll in their fights and that would set up their showdown (target date July 14), assuming Marquez is willing to take the big risk of blowing a potential fourth fight with Manny Pacquiao.
- Sergio Martinez, the consensus #3 pound-for-pound boxer in the world, and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., one of the biggest stars in the sport despite all his shortcomings, continue to dance around the possibility of actually fighting. Now it's the WBC (Chavez holds their title) saying that a negotiation period lasting from March 19 to April 9 will take place where Martinez will be disqualified as a mandatory challenger if he doesn't take part and Chavez will be stripped as champion if it is he who fails to negotiate.
Sanctioning bodies are jokes though and Waldo Rastel of Bad Left Hook summed it up well when he said "here is how I expect JCC Jr and the WBC are going to wiggle out of this promise. First Top Rank will probably give Martinez a terrible/insulting offer. Martinez and DiBella will reject the offer, as they should, and then the WBC will strip Martinez of his mandatory challenger status because ‘he failed to negotiate.'" I doubt it would be a particularly competitive fight anyway, so I won't lose any sleep over it not happening.
Oh yeah, and Chavez (who has already failed a Nevada Drug Test and had Texas "mysteriously" forget to issue drug tests after his last fight) turned down the idea of Olympic style drug testing for the potential bout.
These previews aimed toward the MMA audience were provided by Scott Christ, Managing Editor of BadLeftHook.com
Friday Night Fights! (ESPN2 - Friday 9 p.m. ET)
Antwone Smith vs Roberto Garcia: I don't know if MMA has any of these guys, but boxing has grunters. Every time they throw a punch, they telegraph it with a "ha!" or a "hiya!" or a "fwah!" or an "ungh!" Antwone Smith is one of the absolute worst offenders. Another offense of Smith's is that it was his own ineffective, listless performance which was 100% responsible for Golden Boy being allowed to sell some people on a Canelo Alvarez vs Kermit Cintron fight in November, as Cintron was able to lazily outpoint Smith in August, a month after Cintron got whooped by Carlos Molina. Garcia is best known as the guy who lost to Antonio Margarito in Mexico between Margarito's loss to Shane Mosley and his loss to Manny Pacquiao, when Margarito had no U.S. boxing license but assumed rightly that he'd get one anyway, so why not fight in Mexico for the kicks?
Tyrone Brunson vs James De La Rosa: Brunson is best-known for his bogus, annoying first round knockout streak, which stretched from 2005-08, and he beat nobody of any worth whatsoever. Then he had a six-round draw with a guy who was 12-9-1. His last fight was in 2009, and he got smacked around pretty good by Carson Jones, who can actually fight. Jones won in three. De La Rosa is coming off of a loss to Allen Conyers, who is mediocre on his good days. It's unlikely there's any future in either of these guys. Maybe the fight will be good, I don't know. This FNF season has had a really rough start.
ShoBox: The NEW Generation! (Showtime - Friday 11 p.m. ET)
Diego Magdaleno vs Fernando Beltran: Some of the goals at Showtime under Stephen Espinoza appear to be doing his buddies a bunch of favors, showcasing faded or flat washed-up fighters and their "comebacks," and ruining the purpose of ShoBox, which was designed to be a program where prospects faced tough steps up in competition against veterans who could still fight, or we got the really useful and always-intriguing prospect-versus-prospect matchup. You know, fights where you learned something about young fighters. Now it's just another showcase program. Diego Magdaleno is a good super featherweight (130 lbs) prospect, and lucky for him, his third scheduled opponent for this fight should be no real challenge.
Yordenis Ugas vs Johnny Garcia: Garcia has run up his 11-0 record under the ever-so-watchful eye of the Michigan "combat advisory board" or whatever it's called. In short, Michigan's boxing scene is ugly and easy. Most of Tyrone Brunson's KOs happened in Michigan. Garcia seems like a really nice kid (or at least that's the PR for him), but most likely he's out of his depth against Cuban defector Ugas, who stunk out the joint on Friday Night Fights earlier this year but is again being sold as an action fighter. Last time all that led to was Joe Tessitore basically apologizing for the pre-fight sell job. We'll see if Tompkins and Farhood are left in the same unenviable position tonight, because the last guy Ugas fought wasn't any good either and never threatened to win the fight or anything.
HBO World Championship Boxing (HBO - Saturday 10 p.m. ET)
Erik Morales vs Danny Garcia: I've never been truly sold on Danny Garcia as a prospect, and I'm still not. But he's got some advantages here. He's somewhat slick, he's got fresh legs (and everything else), and he can box. Erik Morales' comeback run has been fairly fun to watch, but his best performance was the heart-pounding challenge of Marcos Maidana, a totally crude, one-dimensional fighter Morales could expose technically, even fighting with only one eye. Morales is by no means a real junior welterweight (140). He looks soft every time out, but he's been matched safely at the weight. This one isn't so safe. I won't tell you that Garcia is any thrill to watch fight, because he's not, but Erik Morales is a man's man and if he finds the going tough trying to box (which he's wanted to do since returning in 2010), he's a good bet to just throw down and start fighting. He's still got every ounce of his heart left, and clearly wants to win more than anything.
James Kirkland vs Carlos Molina: You may or may not know Molina, and his record isn't attractive, but he can fight. Kirkland is a destroyer with great vulnerability -- every round of every James Kirkland fight feels like it could be the end, going either way. Molina's not a big puncher, but neither is Nobuhiro Ishida, and he had Kirkland down three times in 1:52. Molina's a good pressure fighter and could be described as a "crafty righty," which when used properly is a term as rare in boxing as it is in baseball. Kirkland's trainer Ann Wolfe is a terrifying human being who is also one of the most awesome people on earth. If someone had written Ann Wolfe as a movie character, she would be dismissed as unrealistic and over-the-top.
NBC Sports Fight Night: The Night of Fights on NBC Sports (NBC Sports - Saturday 10 p.m. ET)
Zab Judah vs Vernon Paris: True crossroads fight, with a veteran on his way down looking to hang on against a prospect on his way up. Vernon Paris is a story even for a boxer -- he's survived two attempted murders, has done time, and has had a laundry list of out-of-ring issues that have messed up his career. He's a real natural in the ring, but he's also never gone more than eight rounds. Judah's never been as good as his hype, but he's certainly not unskilled. Really, Paris' long-term question is familiar to Judah's: Will the results match the talent? With Zab, at 34, the answer is no. With Paris, we start forming at least the start of an answer on Saturday. This one could really go either way, and could wind up being either a very good fight or an ugly jaw-jacking session. Both like to talk.
Tomasz Adamek vs Nagy Aguilera: Easy comeback fight for Adamek, who will help sell some tickets with his rabid fanbase, even with the Mariusz Wach fight in Atlantic City on the same night. Adamek may drag this out a full ten, but it will depend on how many shots Aguilera can or feels like eating.
Bryant Jennings vs Siarhei Liakhovich: Liakhovich is a former titlist who put on a very good performance in a KO loss to Robert Helenius last year, but that was also his only good performance since 2006, when he and Lamon Brewster had a jaw-dropping heavyweight war (IMO, the best heavyweight fight of the decade, and for once my opinion is not unpopular). Jennings is a 12-fight novice who has never faced anyone on the level of even a mediocre, out of shape Liakhovich, and it's anyone's guess how "into it" Siarhei will be on Saturday. Like the main event, this is a genuine crossroads fight, and actually pretty interesting. Either we see someone break out as one to truly watch, or we see a vet with a little left expose a prospect as less-than-ready for prime time.
Integrated Sports PPV
Mariusz Wach vs Tye Fields: Don't pay for this. Get real. You're not impressing anyone.
- Following his post-fight brawl with David Haye after losing to Vitali Klitschko (which came after slapping Vitali at the weigh-ins and spitting water on Wladimir Klitschko during the pre-fight instructions) the British Boxing Board suspended Dereck Chisora's license. He could now earn that license back with "good behavior" according to the board.
- Floyd Mayweather, Jr. paid almost $50,000 to cover an infant's medical bills. The infant had a heart condition that required several surgeries the family could not afford. Upon learning of a charity event for the child, Floyd told his assistant to inform the family that he'd take care of all the bills. This kind of charity is nothing new for Floyd who paid for former world champion Genaro Hernandez's funeral costs in 2011. Hernandez's last fight was against Floyd, the bout where Mayweather took his titles.
- The story of Afghan women trying to compete in boxing in the 2012 London Olympics is compelling and a heartbreaking reminder of the struggles faced by women in many countries throughout the world.
- Kimbo Slice fights in his fourth boxing match this Saturday night. I wrote earlier in the month about how he was facing yet another small opponent, but a series of events led to that fight being canceled and now Bellator veteran Brian Green will face Kimbo in the heavyweight bout. Of course, the problem is that Green is even smaller given that he's a 185 pounder.
- Finally, ESPN showed their new documentary on Dewey Bozella last weekend. Bozella is an amazing story, having been wrongfully convicted of murder and spending 26 years in prison before being freed after The Innocence Project's involvement led to the discovery that evidence that proved his innocence had been suppressed and he was released. Amazingly, Bozella was given the chance to get out of jail earlier if he would admit to the crime. Bozella refused to confess to a crime he didn't commit in exchange for his freedom so he served NINETEEN MORE YEARS IN JAIL. Bozella had been a relatively promising amateur fighter before going to jail, participated in the prison boxing program and, upon his release, was given an ESPY for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. But that wasn't enough, at the age of 52 he made his pro debut on the undercard of the Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson event and won a four round decision. It's must watch stuff the next time you have 45 minutes.