Tuesday, December 20, 2011

B-Hop vs. Dawson, AGAIN?

A the WBC Convention, that concluded in Las Vegas Thursday, one of the many mandatory fights announced was a return bout between Bernard Hopkins and C had Dawson for the light heavyweight title that is with Hopkins.

Now the question is will Hopkins get into another tangle with Dawson? Hopkins, in a brief statement to this writer said, “There will be a major announcement soon.” He would not allude to who would be his next opponent, but the money says HBO would want to have rights to another Hopkins- Jean Pascal encounter.

Based on the first fight, which was ruled against Hopkins, then the title returned to him due to the WBC and California State Athletic Commission ruling a no contest, it makes sense for a second fight with Dawson.

Though a mandatory is usually the procedure when the sanctioning WBC calls for it, sometimes purse bids and politics get involved, that don’t make it happen. But this time, because Richard Schaefer and Golden Boy got the WBC to immediately review the first fight, it appears Hopkins may go with the plan. HBO has also expressed an interest in having a Hopkins- Pascal trilogy which may or may not sell as a pay-per-view fight.

Regardless, B-Hop continues to recover from the injured shoulder sustained in the Dawson fight, where an obvious push placed him on the canvas and caused a setback with his plans. Doctors have said Hopkins will be fit to fight within the next 90 days. The purse bids will come in, now that the WBC has made it official.
To which Hopkins said, “There is no quit in me. Does Dawson want to fight me again? That is what the public has to know.” Hopkins, the oldest fighter to hold a championship belt is elated that the WBC and California Commission made the right decision and expressed happy holiday wishes to all.

Martinez–Chavez Jr. Is NOT Set Yet

Sergio Martinez, the WBC Diamond Belt Champion and a title fight with WBC middleweight champion Julio Chavez Jr. is not definite as had been reported Thursday. The WBC also announced that mandatory defense for Chavez, but the politics got involved when Lou DiBella, promoter of Martinez influenced their decision.

Chavez has been rumored to take on Marco Antonio Rubio, Canelo Alvarez, or it could be James Kirkland or Carlos Molina. Top Rank and promoter Bob Arum, from all reports are not going to put Chavez in the ring with Martinez at any time soon. DiBella stated after the last Martinez title defense over Darren Barker, that he would no longer chase Arum for a fight with one of the champions in the Top Rank stable.

That includes Cotto or Chavez, and DiBella has been advocating that it is time for Martinez to be in big money fights. The answer to who will be the next opponent for Martinez will come Monday in New York City. DiBella has set a noon press sit down with Martinez and the media to discuss the next opponent, and it does not mean it will be Chavez Jr. for a March HBO date.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Buzz Is - Ward Will Beat Froch

The surprising talk the last few days is that Andre Ward will defeat Carl Froch Saturday evening at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The buzz from media and fighters is that Ward will win on points. The year-end mega fight is also being classified as a Fight of the Year candidate.

Showtime got a prize to culminate the nearly two-year tournament that will determine who is the best at 168. Besides getting the Silver Cup, the WBA and WBC titles of Ward and Froch are on the line. The winner could get IBF champion, Lucien Bute, who opted to not enter the classic, which too many was never going to determine who was the superior super middleweight.

Ryan Taylor, middleweight from London, has been in the New York City area the past few days. Also promoted by Eddie Hearn, Taylor is a stable mate of Froch along with Darren Barker. And though, Taylor, 2-0, fighting again on a Hearn card in late January is not going against Froch, there is a sentiment of opinion that he also looks at Ward as being a dangerous opponent and could be victorious.
“Froch is going to have to work inside and be careful,” says Taylor. “It will be an interesting fight. I can tell you, Froch is strong. He throws a good combination and Ward will feel it. When they say this will be a good fight, believe it. Ward is capable of winning on points.”

So there is no surprise, the Super Six has culminated with a good final. Though, the surprise is that Ward and Froch are here, two of the original six that were not favored from the beginning.

Throwing The Punches

Bob Arum has been out of the office the past week trending to WBC convention developments. He will announce the upcoming Top Rank schedule Wednesday with plans for Manny Pacquiao, but not for Cotto,. Sources are saying, Cotto, at home enjoying the holidays in Puerto Rico, has still not re-signed his contract with Top Rank.

All of this leads to more speculation about Cotto, that he will go on his own and make the fight, the famous May 5, 2012 date that is supposed to be the next fight for Floyd Mayweather Jr. Cotto at the moment does not want anything to do with boxing and his plans. He is resting and enjoying the redemption win over Antonio Margarito, and numerous people close to Cotto have said, he has watched the fight more than one time since returning home…

Victor Ortiz won’t have much time to relax after the holidays as he goes into training for his next fight, a return bout with Andre Berto, February 11th from the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas to be televised on Showtime. It is one of the first of many prominent fights that the network will have in 2012, with Golden Boy playing a major role.

Said Ortiz, “The first fight with Berto was drama, and our next will be just as good, and I will not disappoint as I truly believe the championship belongs to me.” Of course in September, it was Mayweather who took the WBC welterweight title from Ortiz. HBO did not get the fight. Ortiz is another fighter from the Golden Boy stable…

Come on Mike Tyson, what are you saying? A few days ago, Iron Mike was advocating a showcase of heavyweights 40 years or older… Top Rank is also knocking down reports that Juan Manuel Lopez will get a March or April date with Yurioris Gamboa at 127. Lopez has not been in the gym, home in Puerto Rico and dealing with personal issues.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Instant Replay Issue Gets Nod From WBC, Will Promoters Agree?

By Rich Mancuso

One of the prevailing issues of this boxing year, as a follower of the sport would know, is the controversial conclusion. It is not so much about the scoring at ringside which has always been a subjective part of boxing, rather the foul or discretion call of the referee.

That was seen again last Saturday on HBO when point deductions became a deciding factor in the Lamont Peterson title win over Amir Khan, a controversial split decision. And all you have to do is review the recent Chad Dawson –Bernard Hopkins light heavyweight championship, a win for Dawson that was later reversed to a no-contest.

So with the Hopkins decision now declared a no-contest by the California State Athletic Commission, and previously ruled likewise by the sanctioning World Boxing Council, the WBC at their convention in Las Vegas this week unanimously approved the use of instant replay when a foul or other inaccuracy occurs in a fight under when it comes to their coveted title.

Of course that would have to be approved by the promoters, and in situations of a WBC, or unified situation, WBA, IBF, WBO, or other, the prevailing thought is that replay would have to be unanimously approved by all. And in boxing, getting approval and all being on the same page, as we all know, can be a difficult journey.

It comes down to specifics, and of course what is correct for the sport. And in 2011, boxing fans have come to expect the controversial outcome. Promoters, such as Top Rank and Golden Boy, have the bargaining power to overturn decisions. They are the revenue producers and no sanctioning body, WBC or otherwise would go against their plea for a review and request for a return bout.

Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy formally put in their request to review and ask for a rematch, though their plea went to the IBF and WBA sanctioning organizations as the WBC belt was not up for grabs. Jose Suliaman, the longtime head of the WBC presided over the video review vote, and the Khan-Peterson fight was a factor, more so the Hopkins-Dawson fiasco of an outcome.

There are specifics to the video replay ruling. Not like baseball and football where replay rules are in effect for controversial plays, requiring an official review, boxing is different. The review of a fowl or inappropriate move contested in between rounds would disrupt the flow of a good fight. Though it can be argued, that the referee does stop a fight in action because of tape on hand wraps that get away from the gloves, a fight canvas needs to be wiped because of water used by the corner man, or a cut needs to be reviewed by a ringside physician.

To some extent, a video review system for boxing, or an open scoring system for the sport does seem logical. Because there seems to be a prevailing opinion that fans are rebelling about purchasing pay-per-view events that result in a travesty. A cause for action is needed and the WBC appears to be putting this issue in a proper direction.

Surely guys like Hopkins, even Joseph Agbeko are in agreement with the WBC. Hopkins got the no-contest and retains the WBC title, and Agbeko, because of a WBC ruling got his rematch with Abnar Mares last week, and lost after feeling he won their controversial first fight in April.

Now it up to the promoters to say, the WBC is moving the sport in a right direction. But recent history says, that may be an impossible task because promoters and sanctioning bodies are never on the same page.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Froch and Ward This Weekend, Lucian Bute Gets The Call

The Super Six World Boxing Classic or “Super Flop” presented by Showtime as some have said. The almost two year journey, that will determine the unofficial best fighter at 168 heads to the final two Saturday evening at Board walk Hall in Atlantic City. Showtime, because of luck does get a good final with Carl Froch and Andre Ward.

Ward and Froch fight to unify their WBA and WBC Super Middleweight titles. It was not supposed to work out that way, but Froch did what he had to do, and along the way, so did Ward. So we have a good final, and the last mega fight of 2011, one that is being classified as a potential fight of the year.

Six different promoters got involved in this venture with Showtime. Seven of the supposed elite from the division were either in or out. Injuries and eliminations were a theme from the beginning. The first two fights of the Classic took place October 17, 2009, at two different venues. Arthur Abraham got a 12th round TKO over Jermaine Taylor, at the 02 Arena in Berlin Germany.

And on the same night, from the Trent FM Arena, in Nottingham England, Froch defended his World Boxing Council title against Andre Dirrell by split decision. Little did we know then because Abraham and Dirrrell, the two potential favorites would not be the last two men standing.

“This tournament has been a whole different level for boxing,” commented Dan Goosen, the promoter of Ward. “One that can’t be accomplished that often because I don’t believe it’s an easy task to get six of the best fighters in any one division to pre-agree to fight one another in a continual tournament, win, lose or draw.”

Of course, executives at Showtime were thrilled to hear that comment at the final press conference in New York City Tuesday afternoon. Ken Hirschman, who put this concept together as head of Showtime Boxing, was not there. Come January 9th, he begins his reign as boxing czar at HBO sports.

And for Ward and Froch, this fight is a culmination of desire and now with more significance. They take the spotlight as a major fight to end the year. There is mutual respect with the two. And they agree, Lucian Bute, who opted for other opportunities, will have to get by the winner in order to say he is the best at 168.

Bute, not to take anything away from his respectability, may have missed his opportunity by taking his name off the original Super Six. At no juncture did he consider entering the tournament, and when injuries saw the veteran Glen Johnson enter the fold, only to lose in one of the semifinals bouts to Froch, well, Bute was fighting elsewhere.

“Lucian Bute isn’t even in the discussion,” said Froch. “I know he’s the IBF champion but two names on his record are Brian Magee and Gen Johnson, that’s it. He lost to a guy named Librado Andrade. He actually got KO’d. The referee picked him up off the floor, washed his windshield 40 seconds later and the bell was rung and he won on points.“

Froch added, “But in my opinion he was knocked out. Lucian Bute needs to fight some of the top level people before he can call himself the best or one of the top three in the world.” That is exactly why this tournament may have never been taken seriously.

Though the winner gets two belts in the division, and takes home a Silver Cup, perhaps the so called best super middleweight, that being Bute, is not being taken seriously Had he been there, it may have been more interesting because all three titles at 168 would be contested, and there would be the unusual unified champion in boxing.

To which Ward said, “Lucian Bute needs to fight the winner of this fight to be the best. That’s just the bottom line. No disrespect to Lucien Bute but he’s fought B- and C level competition. But it’s like he’s preserving himself, just trying to wait for the winner of this tournament while Carl and I have been putting in a lot of hard work.“

Putting this in perspective, as Ward says, “He (Lucien) has to come to us. We won’t have to go to him.”

And, maybe that was the strategy of Bute. The eventual plan put in indirect words from Goosen and Eddie Hearn, promoter of Froch, is for Bute to fight the winner. “You dream of fights like this,” says Hearn who has superior fighters in London. “Eliminate the politics and just let the best fight the best every time.”

And so we have a final, again with plenty of implications. Can Ward and Froch put on a clean show that could be considered a fight of the year candidate? “I will be trying to hit Andre Ward in the face,” said Froch. His target, maybe the injured right or left eye of Ward that Froch admits, he did not know “where his cut was,” which forced a postponement and delay of the fight.

“People only give the warrior tag if you get cut every other fight or you’re in a fight of the year candidate every other fight,” says Ward. “But I’m a warrior and I’m coming to win something and take something.”

For Showtime it is something that will hopefully take them into the next year with optimism. And for the skeptics of this tournament concept to say, it was a worthwhile two year journey.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Boxing Notebook: Cotto Rumors Continue; Super 6 Final; and More

By Rich Mancuso

Miguel Cotto returned home to Cagusas Puerto Rico and received accolades from his good friend and Mayor of the small town. The proclamation epitomized his courage, determination, and significance of his title defense, over Antonio Margarito this past Saturday in New York City at Madison Square Garden.

As Cotto continues to overcome an ending of a successful closing to the Margarito chapter, the rumors continue about his future. There is the speculation of not renewing a contract with Bob Arum and Top Rank, and going on his own towards promoting an upcoming fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The speculation about Cotto and Mayweather began at ringside and continued hours after his commanding win against Margarito. Rumors and reports were rampant with boxing media assembled in New York, and continued with intensity in Puerto Rico days before Cotto came home.

Top Rank continues this news blackout regarding any post fight news about Cotto. The company is focusing on end of the year fights, and plans for 2012 as it pertains to their primary champion, Manny Pacquiao. Arum, who celebrated his 80th birthday this week was taking a few days off and said, “It gets bigger and bigger. We are planning big shows.”

Are those shows in the Top Rank plans for Cotto? They certainly will be for Pacquiao in either March or April. Top Rank is coming off two successful HBO Pay-Per-View events with Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez in November, and Cotto this past Saturday.

The Pacquiao ending was controversial and the Cotto conclusion was his redemption, though the WBA Junior Middleweight champion appeared to be at ease with Arum and Top Rank. In the meantime there continues to be talk that Cotto will oppose Floyd Mayweather Jr. on that well announced May 5th date. And the talk is that Arum is ready to propose a March or April 2011 date for a fourth fight with Pacquiao and Marquez.

Time will tell. In the meantime, Cotto is enjoying redemption, and considers the second fight win over Margarito as a highlight of his three-time title reign, Mayweather is not talking, and the Arum war of words about his former champion are on hiatus.

It has been almost two years of a journey that ShowTime envisioned as being a good innovation that would determine who was superior at 168. But the Super Six Super Middleweight Classic has been anything of spectacular that has been beset with most of the original six being pulled because of injury, or the favorites eliminated early.

ShowTime, though, may have been fortunate because two of the elite Carl Froch, and Andre Ward meet for the silver cup and unification of their titles a week from Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Ward, the WBA champion and last USA Olympic Boxing champion, and Froch, the WBC champion could be a lasting and great fight of 2011.

They had to wait because of an injury to Ward. It enraged Froch, who was prepared for battle two months ago. Will ShowTime discontinue this classic, or have we seen this last major venture of their departed head of boxing, Ken Hirschman who begins his new title as head of HBO Boxing on January 9th?

Ratings for the Classic have been respectable, though there were a few dates conflicting with HBO boxing events. That may have took some steam away from what first appeared to be a good concept, one that Hirschman sold to a conclave of promoters that were behind the classic because of the exposure and interest it provide their fighters.

Along the way, Jermaine Taylor had to step aside, and promoter Lou DiBella came up with the veteran Glen Johnson who would lose to Froch back in their semi-final final bout In June. A unanimous decision win over Arthur Abraham back in May got Ward to the final.

“It actually worked in my favor,” said Froch about the final that was pulled back. His trainer, Bop McCraken, was training fighters with the Britain Olympic Boxing team and Froch was headed to New York for final preparations without him. Ward got injured and it enabled Froch to get additional rest and for McCraken to regroup with his champion.

But Froch admits it was a disappointment. He anticipated getting the fight over and done, and did not want his many fans disappointed, even the contingent that were planning a trip to New York and Atlantic City. Those fans will be back next week, so will Froch who arrives in New York Monday for final week preparations and a meeting with the media…

The unfortunate aspect of Pawel Wolak announcing his retirement
this week is, he is one of the good guys of the sport. Last Saturday he lost a return bout to Delvin Rodriquez via unanimous decision on the Cotto-Margarito undercard at the Garden. His first fight with Rodriquez, on ESPN in April, is considered a Fight of The Year candidate…

Kidney stones are the latest culprit with the heavyweight division, a reason why WBA/IBF and WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko had to with drawl from his title defense next week against Jean-Marc Mormeck. Oh, don’t worry because this won’t be one of the highlight fights of 2012, neither was it going to be a good ending fight in 2011….

Rich Mancuso can be heard on “Keep it in the Ring” Every Sunday from 6-8 on Nitelineradio.com

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rich Mancuso Interviews Welterweight Contender Mike Jones

New York sports writer Rich Mancuso interviews boxing welterweight contender Mike Jones - who fought on the Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito II under card at Madison Square Garden.