|Jimmy Lennon Jr. Interview: On Super Six, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Antonio Margarito, Andre Dirrell, World Series and Much More!
By David Tyler, DoghouseBoxing (Oct 12, 2010) Photo © Esther Lin, SHOWTIME
Ladies and Gentlemen it's Showtime.....that can only mean that Jimmy Lennon Jr. is in the house. Let's once again welcome Jimmy as he gives us another unique interview on the current boxing scene.
David Tyler - Jimmy, let's discuss the Showtime Super Six Middleweight tournament and all the changes to the lineup. Today we received the sad news that Andre Dirrell had to pull out of the lineup. What are your thoughts about this tournament to this point.
Jimmy Lennon Jr. - We have had three fighters drop out so far. Jermaine Taylor decided to take some time off and Mikel Kessler had to take some time off because of an eye injury. I just heard the latest word about Andre Dirrell is that he is suffering from some neurological issues that must be taken seriously. Rumors and speculations are flying around everywhere but it is really hard to say what's happening. I know when this tournament started out many people said.....let's see if it can be done because it seemed like an impossible feat.....with these fighters dropping out and the substitutions, it's not the same as it was meant to be when the tournament started. I tend to be an optimist and on the positive side we still have the best fighter in that weight division in Andre Ward. We still have some very exciting fighters in Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch who are still scheduled to fight each other November 27th still part of the tournament.
DT - I look forward to seeing that fight.
JL - So do I as the fight promises to be a real slugfest. Both fighters have had some time off and they finally settled on a site for the fight. This should be a very entertaining fight for the fans at home.
DT - What about Glen Johnson entering the tournament to fight Alan Green, your thoughts?
JL - Glen Johnson coming into the tournament is a real plus. I'm surprised that he could go down to 168 lbs. and I'm looking forward to seeing what he looks like at that weight. Alan Green needs to redeem himself in response to his last fight against Andre Ward. Overall we have some good fighters entering the tournament to replace those who left because of injuries. I am still excited about the tournament because we still have the best super middleweights in the world and a fine supporting cast with them. I'm still trying to catch up with all the news that seems to happen daily with this tournament.
DT - Jimmy, I have a lot of respect for Andre Ward and his boxing skills but I would debate your statement that he is the best in the world. Let's wait until he fights a slugger like King Arthur Abraham.....
JL - Good point. At the beginning of the tournament I had picked Arthur Abraham to win it all and we shall see who is the best if and when they meet in the tournament. I hope that end up meeting each other in the final event because I do think that Abraham and Ward are the top two in this event. It would be great to see how Andre Ward responds to a big slugger on the level of Arthur Abraham. Both of these guys are really great fighters with a lot of heart and that makes for a very interesting match.
DT - Jimmy how did we get to the situation that all the fights have been in one fighters hometown and that fighter wins the fight? Why not neutral sites for these matches?
JL - It's quite a surprise that the hometown would mean so much but when you look at the situation it does make sense that the contracts called for matches in the fighters hometown. The hometown ensures a large active crowd which draws well for the event so it makes sense that someone is going to have the hometown draw but I never realized that it would be of such benefit to the hometown fighter. The Carl Froch / Arthur Abraham fight will be in a neutral site....November 27th in Finland. If you really look at the previous hometown fights, there have been no poor decisions in my opinion. The closest one would be when Carl Froch beat Andre Dirrell in a fight that was very difficult to call due to the fighters different styles. I also believe that Mikel Kessler beat Carl Froch and that was a good decision. So we have really only had the one fight that was in question and a lot of boxing people have varied opinions on who won the fight and it was a very close decision.
DT - I am sorry to see Andre Dirrell pull out of the tournament which means Andre Ward does not have an opponent for his next fight?
JL - There has been a lot of speculation but all we know is that he will fight on November 27th, the Thanksgiving weekend.
DT - Glen Johnson or Alan Green would appear not to have a chance in this tournament because they entered too late, agree?
JL - In reality, with Andre Dirrell dropping out of the tournament, means that either Johnson or Green will be in the semi-finals. They are going to fight each other so someone will have at least one point after the fight. I think that opens up the tournament for the replacement fighters and gives good reason why they should hang in there because you just never know what will happen.
DT - This tournament was an ambitious undertaking by Showtime, what have we learned so far that might better help in the preparation of future tournaments?
JL - Your right in the fact that this was a very ambitious undertaking by Showtime and we must give kudos to Ken Hershman and his team for putting the event together. It's been a wonderful thing for boxing and as I travel, fight fans are always telling me that this tournament has rejuvenated their interest in boxing. The tournament idea is a very good one, I think it's something that boxing needs to help gain fans. It's a very innovative concept that had fight fans buzzing from the moment it was announced. Even the most harsh critics of the sport were very receptive to the tournament's novel approach of bringing six of the top super middleweights in the world for such an event. I can't really answer your question until the tournament is over but to this point I would say that maybe the length of the tournament.....six fighters in a round robin tournament over a two year span, might be a bit long. Maybe it would be a good thing to pare it down like the bantamweight division tournament that Showtime is presenting in December; where you have four fighters in a two event series.
DT - Jimmy, let's discuss the bantamweight tournament. Showtime has four of the best in the division in Perez, Agebko, Mares and Drachinyan. Your thoughts?
JL - Yonnhy Perez is fighting Joseph Agebko who actually beat Vic Drachinyan. Agebko's real name is Joseph King Kong Agebko; King Kong is not a nickname. Yonnhy Perez is a great undefeated fighter from Columbia who a very slick boxer with a lot of heart who comes from such poverty which makes his a true success story. His last fight was against Abner Mares which ended in a draw. Abner Mares will take on Vic Drachinyan who has been so successful especially against the Mexican boxers.
DT - Who does Jimmy Lennon think will win the event?
JL - I have no clue. Yonnhy Perez versus Joseph Agebko, no clue, a very competitive fight for sure. Vic Drachinyan versus Abner Mares, again no clue, it will be a tough fight. I think this event will be good for boxing and it is starting off in Mexico December 11th. It's very appropriate to start in Mexico with its great history of bantamweights.
DT - I know that there was a bit of controversy because Showtime wanted to add Fernando Montiel and Nonito Donaire who are owned by Bob Arum. If this is correct why didn't he let them participate?
JL - I will be very honest with you in saying I don't know the details of how this event was put together. I do know that Fernando Montiel is the number one ranked bantamweight. I was in Japan when Montiel knocked out Hozumi Hasegawa and he is just getting better and better. Nonito Donaire, while moving up a bit in weight, would be quite a force in this tournament. The reasons why they are not fighting......I am not privy to that information. I would say that since Ken Hershman started the tournament idea with the super six, this idea was planted in the minds of the promoters around the world. The tournament idea is good and I wouldn't be surprised if Top Rank or Golden Boy are considering the idea. I know that a lot of these promoters are signing up a lot of fighters in one division and once again I wouldn't be surprised if they held a division tournament. I might add that in Europe there is great interest for a crusierweight or light heavyweight tournament.
DT - I like the concept because it highlights the fighters in each division and educates the boxing fans about the contenders in each division. HBO's Ross Greenburg and his team are not calling it a tournament but certainly the top four light welterweights are Tim Bradley, Devon Alexander, Amir Khan, and Marcos Maidana. Khan and Maidana will be fighting in December and Alexander and Bradley will stage a match in January next year. The winners will meet mid-2011.
JL - Yes and that is good for boxing. The tournament concept could be held in several divisions and maybe this is what's needed for boxing to gain fans.
DT - Jimmy, your thoughts about boxing cards that are put together with the same manager/promoter owning all the fighters? I am speaking of recent Golden Boy and Top Rank events.
JL - We all benefit from competition and it's always been a complaint whether it's the competition between two fighters has been fair or of the same promoters or managers. There are some safeguards in boxing......the Muhammad Ali act that helps to preserve the competitive and fairness of how fighters are treated and represented. However, we all know that there are ways to get around it and flirt with those regulations. I will say we would benefit from competition and that's what we all want.....boxing should be careful to protect the integrity of the sport and keep it competitive amongst the promoters. It's been going on for a long time where managers have rights to both fighters and as long as it's a competitive fight, we won't complain.
DT - Well, let's get someone to force a Mayweather/ Pacquiao bout. I think this bout is starting to lose it sex appeal for the boxing fans.
JL - I agree, at one point it was building bigger and bigger but there has been a few mishaps with that promotion. Now even the most optimistic fans are beginning to doubt if that fight will ever happen.
DT - I can't let you go without some thoughts about the upcoming Pacquiao/Margarito match November 13th?
JL - I think that Manny Pacquiao is the best fighter in the world today. What he has already accomplished in the world of boxing is tremendous and so remarkable that he will go down in the history of boxing as one of the all time greats. Margarito was a great champion and loved by his fans, he is a great man and its a pleasure to know him. I believe that he is not at his best. I think he was mentally shaken by the suspension for the hand wraps. He has not fought on the top level for some time and should suffer some ring rust. I just believe that Pacquiao will not see Antonio Margarito at his best and for these reasons I believe that Pacquiao's speed, quickness, and mental toughness will enable him to buzz saw through Margarito.
DT - Last question....who will be in the World Series?
JL - I grew up in Los Angeles and have always been a Dodger fan. They didn't do so well this year and I wasn't following baseball closely. I would have to guess that the Yankees will be in the World Series and maybe San Francisco.
DT - Thank you very much for your time. It's always a pleasure talking boxing with you.
JL - Anytime David and take care.
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