A November to Remember? By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Aug 31, 2010) Special to Doghouse Boxing
From here till the beginning of November, HBO, the supposed “Heart and Soul of Boxing” has one televised card (on September 11th, when Yuriorkis Gamboa faces Orlando Salido and Brandon Rios battles Anthony Peterson in Las Vegas). Showtime has seen their early fall schedule take quite the hit with the postponement of the Juan Manuel Lopez-Rafael Marquez showdown (which was originally scheduled for September 18th) and Mikkel Kessler dropping out of their “Super Six” tournament, which put the kibosh on his fight against Allan Green on September 25th.
Let’s be blunt; 2010 has been a horrid one for the sport of boxing in so many ways. But it could be at least partially salvaged with what looks to be a very strong November schedule led by the two promotional super powers, Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank.
Of course, they aren’t doing business together in their ongoing Cold War that has gone nuclear but they are forging ahead to put on an attractive slate of fights.
- November 6th: All indications I’ve gotten are that “JuanMa” and “Rafa” will land on this date back at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in a fight that figures to add to the storied history of the Puerto Rico-Mexico rivalry that is one of the backbones of this business. Lopez is the younger, fresher fighter of the two but many question his whiskers. And if there’s one thing that Marquez can still do is bang. No matter how long this fight goes, it should be fun while it lasts.
As for Golden Boy, their CEO, Richard Schaefer told Maxboxing on Friday afternoon, "We’re trying to finalize a card for November the 6th, which would include Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and the return of James Kirkland, as well. We actually have Austin, Texas on hold for that date."
- November 13th: In what will be one of the most heavily scrutinized and criticized match-ups in years, Manny Pacquiao returns to Cowboys Stadium in Dallas/Arlington, Texas to face Antonio Margarito on HBO PPV. And Bob Arum believes that this card, no matter what anyone says or writes about it, will surpass the numbers derived from the March contest with Joshua Clottey.
"Remember, let’s start with 700,000 [pay-per-view purchases] that I did for Clottey," said the veteran promoter, "I just think that with a ‘24/7,’ that we didn’t have for the Clottey fight, we have the fight in the middle of the football season, which we didn’t have before," which Arum believes is a huge advantage as it will be easier this time around to tie in the Cowboys and the NFL to this promotion. "Third, Margarito’s track record on pay-per-view that Clottey didn’t have and, four, Margarito has a huge Hispanic following and Clottey had none. That’s how I evaluate it. That’s how I work my numbers."
I know some of my colleagues have gone hysterically overboard in their derision of this fight. Me? I’m absolutely looking forward to it; both guys have a history of being in entertaining scraps and while I think Pacquiao will come out victorious, Margarito will press him the whole way and if there’s ever a time to face a distracted or unfocused “Pac-Man,” now might be the time.
There are a lot of discussions of having Kelly Pavlik, Mike Jones and Guillermo Rigondeaux on the undercard. If so, let’s hope they face at least some semi-warm bodies.
- November 20th: Nothing has been officially announced by those involved but I guess you can put it in pencil that the rematch between Paul Williams and Sergio Martinez will land on this date. Although it’s not clear if it will land in Atlantic City with Justin Bieber already booked at the big convention center.
Last year in December, these two engaged in one of the best fights of 2009 that was won by Williams in a 12-round decision.
- November 27th: Nothing is finalized as of yet but Schaefer says that he will be pointing toward a fight between Juan Manuel Marquez and Michael Katsidis. Marquez made the decision to stay at lightweight (where he belongs), eschewing the opportunity to face Amir Khan at junior welterweight.
"He just thinks that, at this point, he prefers- and his trainer, as well- to stay at 135 pounds," said Schaefer, who met with the future Hall-of-Famer. "He doesn’t rule out that later on, maybe, sometime next year, to move to 140. And I do think that Juan Manuel could be effective at 140 but he doesn’t want to be pressured now of losing his belts; he has the WBO and WBA and Ring magazine belts. He said, ’Look, if I have the opportunity to defend that, I want to do that. I took care of my mandatories and then I can take care of that in November.’ He didn’t feel it was necessary or beneficial to his career or his pocketbook, to tell you the truth, to go and be pressured into the 140-pound weight class."
Not for nothing but there is a very good possibility of Marquez finally facing one Erik Morales, who fights on September 11th in Mexico City (a fight that Schaefer will be attending.)
"If he wins in September, he’s fighting again in December in Tijuana," said Schaefer. "Then, after that, we have conversations to do a potential fight between both of these guys, Marquez-Morales, for the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City in March."
(Yeah, this fight is about six, seven years too late but guess what? Call me crazy- I’m called much worse on a daily basis- but I’d still watch this encounter. I think it would provide much more action than the track stars that are featured on HBO on a regular basis.)
Top Rank has talked about a possible fight between Miguel Cotto and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on December 4th. I don’t know but I have my doubts about that one. Do you really go from John Duddy to Cotto? What happened to them developing Junior and letting Freddie Roach mold him over time? This here seems like a Bob Beamon-sized leap.
But Arum says they are still planning on staging this fight. "It is a jump," he concedes. "The kid wants to do it; Freddie thinks that he can do it." As for concerns over Cotto’s shoulder surgery, Arum says that the procedure took place, "a month ago, he had arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder and the report is that it’s now good to go; no problem, and he’s already playing golf for the last couple of weeks."
Early on, Arum had said that he wanted this fight to take place at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York but now he states that it’s, "not necessarily" headed to that venue and he would be discussing it this upcoming week with Todd duBoef.
The next weekend is the scheduled return of Amir Khan, who is focusing in on Marcos Maidana, who went life and death with the shopworn DeMarcus Corley this past weekend in Argentina.
Schaefer explained, "I actually talked to Amir Khan and his father earlier today and they made it clear to me; they said, ’Look, get Maidana done. This guy’s really disrespectful. We want to fight this guy and get this over and done with.’ So they gave me clear instructions to see that I get the Maidana fight done. So we’re going to work on that for December 11th. Not sure if that fight would be in the U.K. or in the United States."
The following week could feature the return- brace yourselves, boxing fans- of “The Executioner.”
"I have started some conversations and negotiations for a potential fight between Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins," said Schaefer. "That would be in Canada, December 18th."
As for who would televise that contest, it’s doubtful HBO would pick that up but Schaefer stated, "There are different parties interested in that fight."
So what were Arum’s thoughts on the ordeal involving Margarito and the commissions in the states of California and Texas?
"For me, well, mostly for Antonio Margarito, it’s been a real nightmare. It’s people who were writing stuff and talking stuff that wasn’t supported by the evidence; it wasn’t supported by the records," he said. "The first people that appeared to me to really review all of the facts based on the record was the Texas commission because the commissioners in California didn’t do that. This whole nonsense about the sparring permit, I mean, sh*t, there’s a hundred fighters in California; I mean, Pacquiao doesn’t have a California license; what are they talking about?
"Listen, does Sam Peter have a California license?” Arum asked rhetorically. “Does Pacquiao have a California license? Do all the Ukrainians in Freddie Roach’s gym have a California license? They don’t; it’s clear that this whole permit for sparring refers to amateur guys who need permission to spar with professionals."
What underlined this whole issue is a supposed vendetta by the CSAC toward Arum and his company.
"Absolutely, it’s been that way; it’s spun out of control. It was that assistant attorney general from California (Karen Chappelle), she made it a personal crusade and she was trying to the end to influence Texas not to grant him a license," said Arum, whose company has steered clear of California for the better part of a year-and-a-half. "I wouldn’t want any of my people do a California show. Now, if they want to do a California show, they can do one. But I’m not looking to do the state of California any favors."
But trust this; as soon as Top Rank can do a lucrative show back here, they will be back in the “Golden State” in no time. That’s just the way it works with the ultimatums in boxing. Moving ahead, regarding the expected November 13th backlash, Arum says he isn’t bracing for it. "No, absolutely not. At this particular point, I’m not going to debate the merits and so forth," he insisted. "The man has a license. The backlash? Hey, that’s great; any publicity now is good publicity."
Say what you want about the old guy but he’s gonna do it his way. And, like I’ve said before, the great part about Arum is that he doesn’t give a damn what you or I think. The bad part about Arum? He doesn’t give a damn what you or I think. He is who he is, for better or worse.
And that’s a promoter for you (one of the greatest ever, in my opinion). But as the promoter of Margarito, was it his job to defend him, regardless?
"He fights for me; I’m his promoter but I wouldn’t stand up and protect him if I didn’t believe he deserved to be protected," was his answer. "So if there was evidence that he knew what was happening, I wouldn’t protect him. There’s a big difference there."
LOU DI HYPOCRITE?
My friend, the always boisterous Lou DiBella, made it clear his thoughts on the relicensing of Margarito on his Twitter account (@loudibella): “MargoCHEATo licensed in Texas. Don’t mess with Texas...BECAUSE THEY’RE F**KING CORRUPT AND DONT CARE WHETHER FIGHTERS LIVE OR DIE"
He is certainly entitled to his opinion but it’s funny; a few months ago in the aftermath of Sergio Martinez’ victory over Kelly Pavlik, he was quoted in this piece (courtesy of Fightnews.com) http://www.fightnews.com/Boxing/martinez-pavlik-postfight-presser-43246, regarding “Maravilla’s” future:
“If Kelly wants the rematch, we’re fighting at middleweight,” explained DiBella of a contractually agreed upon option Pavlik has to a rematch. “If Kelly doesn’t want the rematch, then we’ll think about it. Our first choice would be a fight with Antonio Margarito for the 154 pound belt. A fight with Margarito would be huge. If Bob Arum wants to discuss that, we would love that fight.”
So wait, Margarito was just fine getting licensed a few months ago as long as it benefited him and his boxer. Now, that it doesn’t, there is all the moral outrage?
Ivan Calderon may have turned old on Saturday night against Giovanni Segura but, to Segura’s credit, he had a lot to do with it with his never-ending pressure style. Calderon simply got smothered and caved in. In certain ways, this looked like a version of Cotto and Margarito...Don’t know what the capacity is for the Estadio Luna Park in Argentina but Maidana-Corley was played to a full house. So there’s another guy who can outdraw most of the guys anointed by HBO as their star...Some thoughts on the most recent edition of “The Fight Night Club” at Club Nokia (which seemed to have its biggest crowd thus far): I thought Antonio Orozco got some good work in against the always-durable Humberto Tapia; Ronnie Rios looked sharp in halting Leivi Brea and Bastie Samir looked as strong as a bull in his long-awaited return to the ring...Speaking of sparring permits, did Hank Lundy and Omri Lowther get one for that snoozer that they engaged in on ESPN2?...I know it’s just the pre-season but should the Dallas Cowboys be concerned? Keep this up and by November 13th, they wont even be in the playoff chase...Did James Toney embarrass the game of boxing or himself?...College football starts this Thursday night; I will be glued to my computer with ESPN3 as Miami takes on the always dangerous FAMU....