Busted: Kelly Pavlik, DUI

Troubled former undisputed middleweight champion--it seems amazing that it was only last year that he lost his title to Sergio Martinez in a great, underrated fight--was arrested on charges of drunk driving in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, last night.

According to an article on WFMJ.com, Pavlik drove a "green ATV" into a lamppost and a telephone pole before making his way home. Pavlik was belligerent when confronted at his house by the police, was arrested, and made bail at 2:00 a.m.

In his mugshot below, Kelly looks inebriated, out of shape, and about twenty years older than he actually is (only 29).

My End of Year Awards

Here's the ballot I submitted for the end-of-year Bad Left Hook awards:

Top Fighter:
1. Lamont Peterson
2. Brandon Rios
3. Andre Ward

Fight of the Year:
1. Jorge Linares vs. Antonio DeMarco - A total bloodbath
2. Amir Khan vs. Lamont Peterson
3. Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez III

Trainer of the Year:
1. Barry Hunter
2. Virgil Hunter
3. Ann Wolfe

Upset of the Year: Nobuhiro Ishida TKO 1 James Kirkland
The Foreman-Lyle Slugfest of the Year: Alfredo Angulo vs. James Kirkland
The Eubank-Benn British Battle of the Year: John Murray vs. Kevin Mitchell
KO of the Year: Gary Russell Jr. vs. Heriberto Ruiz - See above video

Weekend Roundup: New York and Anaheim

Miguel Cotto: Miguel proved he is one of the very best fighters of his generation, exceeded in legacy only by Manny and Floyd: he's only lost legitimately to Manny, and he's beaten good versions of Shane, Zab, Clottey, Quintana, Paulie, etc., and now Margarito. The win against his nemesis seemed to lift a heavy burden off Cotto's family and team, and I wouldn't be surprised if he takes a break to restoke all the competitive energies he had committed to this one fight. When he returns, it is likely to be against someone from Top Rank like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. or perhaps Manny again, but it may be a cold day in hell before we see him versus Sergio Martinez or any of the other legit contenders at junior middleweight. His new trainer, Pedro Diaz, strikes me as being exceptionally sharp and I wouldn't put it past Cotto to beat guys like Kirkland and Angulo. But in my mind, he's done enough even if he fights cans from now on to have clearly established himself as a great Puerto Rican legend on par with the more hyped Felix Trinidad. Grade: A

Antonio Margarito: This is pure speculation, but I'm convinced Capetillo started loading Margarito's gloves after the close win against Clottey and the loss to Paul Williams, when Margo hit Paul for twelve rounds and couldn't dent him. Subsequently, he blasted out Golden Johnson early, then flattened Kermit again and made Cotto quit, a record of dominance against world-class competition that no one really expected after the Williams loss. To me, the fight on Saturday pretty much looked like the first one, except everything was progressing at a much slower rate without the plaster--Margarito would've had to take thirty rounds to KO Miguel at the rate he was going, so for his team to suggest the stoppage was premature is irrelevant. Margarito remains a big, viable name for people like Angulo and Kirkland, although I fear the Golden Boy-Top Rank squabbles may prevent those matchups from happening. Grade: B-

Brandon Rios: Rios looked like a concentration camp victim on the scales on Friday--ashen faced, sunken cheeked, and hollowed out rib cavity--and even after thirty hours of rehydration, he still had an unhealthy sheen about him entering the ring. Murray took it to him early to try to seize his supposed advantage, but Rios proved that even at what looked to be about 50% power, he had way too much for the Englishman, eventually brutalizing him the way he'd destroyed Anthony Peterson, Miguel Acosta, and Urbano Antillon, with vicious body shots and short, hurtful uppercuts in close. Arum said afterward that he would be trying to set up a fight at 140 with Rios against Mike Alvarado, and that would be another hellacious war. Grade: A-

John Murray: Murray joins the long, storied lineage of proud English fighters who came to America and got their ass handed to them. Like many of his predecessors, Murray was game as all get out, willing to stand and trade with one of the most punishing inside fighters in the business. Unfortunately, we all knew what the outcome was going to be long before Earl Brown stepped in between the two in the eleventh, with Murray taking a savage beating against the ropes. He's now suffered two brutal ass-kickings in a row, and will return to domestic level in the UK with nothing to be ashamed of. Grade: B+

Delvin Rodriguez: After another strong outing on Saturday, comprehensively outclassing Wolak by keeping him at distance and working him over with accurate, sharp blows, I think it's about time Delvin got with a major promoter that can get him into the kinds of fights he deserves (and the political clout backing him so he stops getting jobbed with the decisions). I can't see him really competing with the big dogs at 147, but he seems like a fun guy you can throw on an undercard of a PPV against some up-and-comer, knowing you are going to be guaranteed tremendous effort and heart while his lack of true power and boxing skill won't seriously jeopardize someone more talented. In other words, he would be a useful guy to have in your stable. Grade: A-

Pawel Wolak: Wolak has gotten as far as he's going to get. He's never going to be good enough to win a title, even in this day and age of a zillion titles, but he can continue to collect good paychecks fighting regional bouts in the NY/NJ area given the local and vocal Polish fanbase he has built up and shares with Tomasz Adamek. He's just not quick or powerful enough to cause any of the top-level guys any real concern, and the more he fights at that level, the more he's going to get battered; his brows already are getting that scar-tissue, paper-thin look that effectively ended Israel Vasquez's career. Grade: C

Mike Jones: I'm not that excited about Mike Jones as a welterweight. He seems too big for the division and his punches have the tendency to land long due to his size, leading to the awkward, uninspiring types of fights we've seen with him against Jesus Soto Karass and Lujan on Saturday. He's kind of like a less exciting Paul Williams fighting guys he towers over at welterweight. I think if he filled out to 154, he'd potentially carry more power and will at least look more coordinated (relatively speaking) against the slower, bigger fighters in that weight class, people like Angulo and Kirkland that he can outbox quite readily, I'd imagine. The idea that he could be a reasonable opponent for Manny is a joke. Grade: B

Sebastian Lujan: Lujan is tough as nails and fights in a style that I can only describe as conveying a tremendous amount of disrespect. He keeps his arms low, sticks his head in, and almost dares his opponent to hit him (think Calzaghe versus Roy Jones), whilst at the same time throwing arm punches that seem like they should only annoy his opponents but end up accumulating damage, and stopping a good share of them--ask Mark Melligan, Lujan's last KO victim. He remains a good step-up test for prospects, because he will take you out if you're not properly prepared. Grade: B-

Anselmo Moreno: I think we'd all heard about El Chemito for quite a while, the long-time bantamweight titlist from Panama who'd never fought on a major American card until Saturday. He certainly made his debut in front of his Golden Boy bosses memorable, dominating essentially every round in Anaheim against a formidable foe, Vic Darchinyan, who'd come in as the favorite. Moreno showed great skill from his southpaw stance (despite being right-handed), frustrating the charging Darchinyan and lacing him with technical, precise shots while managing to evade almost all the artillery thrown in return. Call me crazy, but the fluidity of his footwork and body movement reminded me a little of Sweet Pea. I'd favor him above any bantamweight save Donaire, and that would be a hell of a fight I think. Grade: A

Vic Darchinyan: At 36 and having now lost to Moreno, Mares, Agbeko and Donaire, Vic has proven that he can be competitive with the top bantams in the world, but cannot defeat them, whether he tries to slug it out or fight more technically. Darchinyan looks great against fighters he can physically dominate (Mijares and Arce) but his relatively small size and age suggest that his future in the division is limited; perhaps a move to MMA wouldn't be the worst thing in the world after all. I bet he can seriously crack without the impediment of eight-ounce gloves. The time might also be ripe for a Darchinyan-Arce rematch. Based on how Arce looked at 122 against Vazquez, that might now be a 50-50 fight. Grade: C

Abner Mares: Call me a hater, but Mares always seems to appeal to ringside judges more than he does to me. All three judges had him winning ten rounds to two against Agbeko on Saturday, which is a margin both I and Agbeko's team found baffling. That isn't to say he didn't win the fight: Mares was younger, fresher, and, perhaps most importantly to the judges, his footwork was so much better than Agbeko, who frequently looks like he's lunging and off-balance. I don't really see Mares having any chance against Donaire, and as I said above, I'd favor Moreno over him too. He's a good and deserving titlist, but I think his style flatters to deceive. Grade: B+

Joseph Agbeko: Agbeko is a hard-luck former champion who brings it every fight. I'm hoping he doesn't get too discouraged by the losses to Mares, which I am mostly attributing to how stiff he looks in the ring compared to the more aesthetically pleasing Mares. The big question is can Don King get him fights now that he is beltless and not part of a tournament. He's too good to become a gatekeeper-type, and he won't be able to beat Moreno or Donaire either, so I'm not sure where he's going to fit in now. Grade: B-

I Pick Cotto-Margarito II

First of all, I think everyone understands that unlike most fights, this one is an actual, real fight -- two men who despise one another and who have said that they are going out essentially to end the other's career.

Second, I think we also can agree that Cotto seems different psychologically for this fight. He is in seek-and-destroy mode psychologically. The question now is whether his body has enough left after the battering he's taken. I say he does.

Third, I think everyone can also see that Antonio Margarito's performance on the speed bag was far from inspiring. At least wearing sunglasses, he can't see a thing, as far as I can tell.

Finally, because of all of the above, I have placed a nice wager on Cotto and the under. He's going all out for the eye; he's said so himself. I'm thinking Smoger might have a quick trigger in this one given all the attention that's been focused on the jurisdiction for the fight.

My pick: Cotto TKO 8

What We're Paying Attention To

Busted: A house owned by Ivan Calderon was raided by police, who discovered $4 million worth of cocaine stashed inside. For his part, Ivan says he just owns the house, and that he doesn't live there and has no idea what its inhabitants are up to.

Busted: Joel Casamayor, who turned in a terrible performance, against Timothy Bradley on Saturday, failed his post-fight drug test for marijuana. That surely explains why he was fighting as if he were high.

Moved: The big rematch between Cotto and Margarito, scheduled for Dec. 3 at Madison Square Garden, will have to be moved due to Margarito being denied a license by the NYSAC for medical reasons. The commission apparently did not believe that Margarito's right eye, which suffered severe damage during the Pacquiao fight, is fully healed.

Weekend Roundup: Pacquiao-Marquez III

MANNY PACQUIAO – First of all, let me point out I thought Manny won the fight, seven rounds to five. I won’t make an argument here for the decision, because I know I’m not going to persuade anyone who thinks otherwise. But Manny did what he had to do for the “W,” realizing he could not outbox Marquez nor hurt him consistently enough to finish him, and relying instead on outworking his older rival and playing the role of the aggressor. Having said that, I feel Manny clearly overtrained for this fight. In previous camps, we all heard about how he was mailing it in until the last two weeks at the Wildcard, and then he would turn it on and by fight night would be a lean, hungry thoroughbred just chomping at the bit to run. In comparison, the lead-up to this fight indicated that Manny was peaking way too early, with Alex Ariza saying on the second episode of 24/7 that “he wished the fight were tomorrow,” a full eighteen days before fight night. That comment raised a serious red flag in my mind, and it was borne out last night when Manny looked drained entering the ring, unhealthily sweating, and during the fight, when he was constantly beaten to the punch by a man over whom he had all the physical advantages. But Manny won, so he passes this most difficult of tests. I don’t think anyone can say with a serious face—Skip Bayless, are you listening?—that Floyd is scared of fighting Manny. That concept has always been ridiculous to me, and now looks even moreso. Grade: B-

JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ – Marquez elevated his legacy with his performance, proving that he should be considered not just a Hall of Fame-level fighter, but perhaps deserves mention among the All-Time Greats, at least the Mexican ones. If you don’t think he belongs with Chavez, Morales, and Barrera, than you never will. But in my mind, he’s proven that he’s a very special, very serious fighter that embodies the height of professionalism both in and out of the ring. No one adapts better mid-fight than Marquez, not Floyd Mayweather, not Sugar Ray Leonard. In addition to the Pacquiao fights, consider his wins against Casamayor, Barrera, Juan Diaz, Katsidis—Marquez had trouble early in every one of those fights, and he was able to make adjustments such that he had the upper hand by the end. But do I want to see a fourth fight against Pacquiao? No. Grade: A

MILE HIGH MIKE ALVARADO – The last few major PPV undercards have all produced at least one hellacious war (Vazquez-Arce on Pacquiao-Mosley, Morales-Cano on Mayweather-Ortiz, and Linares-DeMarco on Hopkins-Dawson) and last night was no exception, with Alvarado and Prescott engaging in an engrossing slugfest that was all Prescott early on, and all Alvarado late. I think many boxing fans considered Alvarado a product of Top Rank hype given his uninspiring competition and sordid background entering the contest, but he proved all his doubters wrong, showing tremendous courage in the face of a physically superior opponent who was punching ferociously in the first half of the fight, weathering the storm and eventually turning the tables when Prescott’s stamina failed him, taking the Colombian to “uppercut city,” as Max Kellerman put it. That’s a place Prescott won’t ever want to revisit, as he ended the fight out on his feet, in the arms of Jay Nady. Alvarado deserves a title shot, and Bradley-Alvarado seems like the obvious fight to make. Or maybe Rios-Alvarado. Grade: A+

BREIDIS PRESCOTT – For the same reasons Angulo failed last week, Prescott failed last night. He gassed himself trying to KO Alvarado, even when it was apparent that Alvarado wasn’t going to go that easily. Then he engaged in a phonebooth war despite having most of his success jabbing and throwing rights from range. Finally, when he was hurt, he clearly had no idea how to grab and slow down the fight. It’s back to the drawing board for Prescott, who has now lost to Miguel Vasquez, Alvarado, Kevin Mitchell, and Paul McCloskey. The KO win against Amir Khan recedes even further into the past. Grade: D

TIM BRADLEY – He got an easy assignment and he did what he was supposed to do. The assignment was crappy and proved nothing, but you can’t blame the student for the quality of the test. Bradley looked fresh and powerful next to Casamayor, but Casamyor looked only a little better than James Toney did against Denis Lebedev, an old man who had no business being in a professional prize ring at the top level anymore. Grade: B+

JOEL CASAMAYOR – I admit I have been a fan of El Cepillo for a long time now, since his wars with Diego Corrales, Acelino Freitas and Jose Luis Castillo way back when. I made a bundle on his “upset” of Michael Katsidis a few years ago, which was probably his last legitimate victory. He looked decent losing his lineal lightweight crown to Marquez. Since then, his performances have ranged from desultory to just plain awful. Last night was no exception. It was like the worst moments of B-Hop-Jones II all rolled into one performance. He grabbed whenever there was a chance he was going to be hit, used his head as often as his once great straight left, and hit low with obvious malicious intent. Hang ‘em up, Cepillo—you were once a proud champion and that is how I will remember you. Grade: F

Casmayor and Bradley Trade Friendly Taunts

The co-feature of Saturday's card is a showcase fight for Tim Bradley against a faded Joel Casamayor, who is fighting at least two weight classes beyond his best weight. Casamayor hasn't looked decent since he was competitive in losing the lineal lightweight championship against Juan Manuel Marquez over three years ago, but in the fight week press conference on Thursday, he did show more fire than he is likely to show in the ring on Saturday. Check out their friendly (?) confrontation:

Weekend Roundup

James Kirkland: Kirkland emerged from Saturday's medieval slugfest as The Man at junior middleweight, title or no title. Canelo's handlers, for example, must know there is no way in hell their kid is ready for this kind of task. Erislandy Lara has already called out Kirkland, and that might be an interesting fight, but then again, Lara was robbed of a decision because of lack of workrate--the same thing against Kirkland would result in him getting blasted out in one. Grade: A+

Alfredo Angulo: The savage beatdown he administered to outclassed sap Harry Joe Yorgey revisited itself upon Angulo Saturday night. The exorbitant punishment he shipped was reminiscent of Margarito against Pacquiao, or maybe Shannon Briggs against Vitali, except that it was compressed into half the rounds. Angulo's conditioning must be questioned, as he punched himself out two minutes into a bout scheduled for thirty-six, and never seemed like he was close to catching a second wind.Grade: D

Peter Quillin: In his HBO debut, Quillin showed he is a serious player at middleweight, fighting in a patient, deliberate style that won him rounds even while he was looking for the finishing combination. From the third round on, Quillin probed and probed and finally delivered the four flush connects in the sixth that triggered the stoppage. I'd like to see the two McEwan conquerors--Quillin and Andy Lee--square off for a shot against Sergio. Grade: B+

Craig McEwan: McEwan is a decent fighter, but he was completely outclassed by Quillin and brutally KO'ed by Lee the time before, so he's had his chances and not been able to come through with the kind of victory that could have sustained a career. Instead, McEwan, who has already left the Wildcard gym to go back to Scotland to train, will most likely return to the UK to vie for domestic honors, where his experience at the world class level can only prove to his advantage. Grade: F

Lucian Bute: The fight against Johnson did nothing for Bute, as he went the conservative route against his former sparring partner, choosing to outpoint him every round rather than step out of his comfort zone to try for the remarkable. Bute has now fallen from #1 on most super middleweight rankings a couple years ago down to #3 despite not having lost--his competition has been so uninspiring, however, that until we see him against Ward or Froch or Kessler, it's hard to say how good he really is.Grade: B-

Glen Johnson: This may have been Johnson's last title shot--he's gotten two in his last two fights and lost both, without really threatening either Froch or Bute, so The Road Warrior, at forty-two, slides back down to the "contender-tester" level. If he does decide to call it a career, it wouldn't be the worse time. Grade: C-

Chris Arreola: The new "skinny" Arreola looked great bombing Raphael Butler out in three fun rounds. Of course, Butler has also been KO'ed by Tye Fields, so the victory itself isn't surprising, but Arreola is starting to look comfortable with the smaller body, and his movement and coordination and footspeed appear to have improved dramatically. It's time for him to fight Wladimir, I think. Grade: A-

Star Power Does 1.25 Million Buys

Mayweather Promotions and Golden Boy finally released "official" numbers for Star Power, citing 1,250,000 buys and almost $78.5 million in gross revenue which, if true, would make it the second highest-grossing non-heavyweight fight behind only the De La Hoya-Mayweather fight that generated over $135 million.

Chris Mannix of SI says he's still sticking to his own confidentially-sourced number of 1,150,000 buys. Whatever the case, it's another great number for Floyd and confirms that him and Manny stand alone when it comes to drawing viewers.

Weight Watchers: James "Lights Out" Toney

Here's footage of Toney training for his upcoming clash on November 4 against cruiserweight contender Denis Lebedev in Russia. A couple things of note:

  1. Toney looks skinnier than he has since, say, the Jirov fight - the reports of him training are actually true!
  2. Toney looks shot to shit. His feints and movement are still there, but the reflexes seem dull as hell. Hopefully, he won't get brutally KO'ed against Lebedev like Roy did.

Video Hype: Pacquiao-Marquez III

This is the best opening episode of a 24/7 series since...I dunno...maybe Mayweather-Mosley. I like how they're focusing on the people in the periphery since we know the principals so well--the segment on Linares's savage loss to DeMarco, with the scene of Manny comforting a battered Jorge in the locker room afterward, was extremely effective.

Saturday Roundup: Believe It or Not!

Jorge Linares: Early in the fight, with not even a round over, Emmanuel Steward said, "I don't usually say this, but Linares is one of the greatest fighters I've ever seen." Lampley and Kellerman were quick to concur, at various times comparing Linares to Nonito Donaire (favorably), Amir Khan (favorably), young Oscar, and even Sugar Ray Robinson. However, by the eleventh, after Linares' face had become a grotesque mask of blood, everyone was forced to acknowledge Linares' fatal flaw: he gets hurt too easily, in every which way. The flaw seems so exploitable that I can't really see Linares ever attaining those heights we were imagining during those great first few rounds. Grade: F

Antonio DeMarco: I think ShoBox has to start considering DeMarco as one of their true success stories. He's done everything necessary to prove that he is a serious fighter, the two most memorable being his valiant performance in a loss against the late Edwin Valero, and now his demolition job of Valero's stablemate Jorge Linares. DeMarco is now a world champion by title (WBC), and certainly there are far worse titlists out there. Grade: A

Paulie Malignaggi: After being staggered in the first round against Orlando Lora, Malignaggi came back to dominate the remainder of the fight, using movement, a strong jab, and quick combinations to stymie the tough Mexican. I think everybody agrees it's time for Malignaggi to take a step up now to a twelve-round fight against a legitimate contender, perhaps recent Golden Boy signee, Devon Alexander, who has also moved up from junior welter recently. And you know what? Based on how good Paulie looked, I might even favor him in that contest. Grade: B+

Kendall Holt: Oh, Kendall--how you constantly tease us! Holt looked good in the first two rounds against hot prospect Danny Garcia, but once he got hit at the end of the second frame, he reverted back to the same old Rated R, not throwing enough, conveying the impression he was getting hurt with every shot Garcia landed, and just in general looking a tad shopworn after the sheen of the earlier rounds had worn off. It's hard for me to see him returning to titlist level, no matter how depleted the junior welter ranks will be getting in the next few months as Bradley and Khan move up. Grade: C-

Danny Garcia: Garcia for his part looked fresh, strong, and surprisingly powerful. Technically, he's sound, although he doesn't do any particular thing that really stands out. I like how Golden Boy are starting to throw their prospects into tough challenges (i.e., Ortiz against Berto) instead of coddling them; Garcia looks like he's got the goods. You know what would be a great Golden Boy-Top Rank fight for the future? Garcia versus Brandon Rios at 140. Grade: A-

Chad Dawson: We didn't see him get to fight much, although one could make the case that he was slightly more aggressive than usual. Whatever his in-ring performance was, though, I think the bigger change has been his psychological maturation since returning to old trainer "Iceman" Scully. He may finally get to realize some of that potential with which boxing fans have been so enamored. But still, it's hard to give Dawson credit for body-slamming his way to a shambolic victory. Grade: C+

Bernard Hopkins: For two rounds, B-Hop looked ancient, but he is notorious for starting slow (cf. his two fights against Pascal, his two fights against Jermain Taylor, etc., etc.). It already had all the makings of a terrible fight, reminding me a lot more of Hopkins-Jones 2 than Hopkins-Pascal 2. However, Hopkins has turned fights around so often that it's difficult to say that he wouldn't have done the same in this one. I for one don't want to see Hopkins retire just yet; he definitely deserves another chance to either defend or win back the light heavyweight championship (depending on the appeal decision of the CSAC). Grade: C

Fight Pick: Hopkins vs. Dawson

I like Chad in this fight. I'm basing this opinion on the seemingly rejuvenated psyche Dawson has been portraying for the press. He says it's all because he's back with "Iceman" Scully in his corner, that he finally feels "comfortable" again after his odyssey through a litany of "name" trainers, including Floyd Mayweather Sr., Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, and, most famously, Emmanuel Steward for just one fight, his most recent lackluster performance against Adrian Diaconu. And you know what? Color me gullible, but I'm buying it--he genuinely seems to have reached a new stage of psychological maturity. He seems ready for this situation. He's stated in interviews that he understands that work-rate will be the key factor in the fight. I'm going with Dawson by decision in a fight in which his fresher athleticism will prove out as the critical factor.

Grading the Undercard: Believe It Or Not!

Jorge Linares vs. Antonio DeMarco (12 rounds, vacant WBC Lightweight Title)
Just a couple years ago, Linares (31-1, 20 KOs) was a two-weight champion who was being lauded on HBO as the next great pound-for-pound entrant. Then he was brutally dispatched in the first round by Juan Carlos Salgado and was off the radar for a long time. DeMarco (25-2-1, 18 KOs) is a teak-tough Mexican brawler that was showcased extensively on ShoBox on his way up, then served as the last KO victim of Edwin Valero. This is a good test of where both men are at in their careers. We favor Linares to get his career back on track; he's just more gifted than DeMarco, although his chin now will forever be suspect.

Grade: B+

Danny Garcia vs. Kendall Holt (12 rounds, junior welterweight)
This may not turn out to be the most entertaining fight on the undercard, but it is undoubtedly the most interesting. Garcia (21-0, 14 KOs) is a supremely-hyped Golden Boy prospect who is undefeated, talented, and charismatic (think Victor Ortiz three or four years ago). Former junior welterweight titlist Holt (27-4, 15 KOs) has put his career back on track after losing badly to Kaizer Mabuza a year ago, most notably chilling Julio Diaz several months back with a left hook that could go down as the KO of the Year. Holt, you'll remember, came within a hair's breadth of putting Timothy Bradley to sleep in their unification bout. Can Garcia handle Holt's power? Which Holt will show up? Does Garcia have the goods? We'll all find out on Saturday.

Grade: A

Paulie Malignaggi vs. Orlando Lora (10 rounds, welterweight)
No offense to Paulie (29-4, 6 KOs), because we like him and we like to see him fight, but his fights, although not boring in the traditional sense of the term, aren't the most exciting because they usually entail him breaking one of his fragile hands (or both) and fighting more defensively as a result. Also, his recent opponents since he was destroyed by Khan haven't exactly been inspiring: Jose Miguel Cotto on the Morales-Maidana undercard, and now Orlando Lora (28-1-1, 19 KOs). We'd like to see him against recent Golden Boy signee Devon Alexander.

Grade: B

Saturday Roundup

Sergio Martinez: In terms of luring a big name like Miguel Cotto or Floyd Mayweather into a fight, Martinez perhaps put on the best kind of performance for his future, looking sloppy and potentially vulnerable against Darren Barker while still having enough to finish off the disciplined Englishman late. Grade: B-

Darren Barker: The European champion definitely deserves kudos for his sharper punching and the fact that he was able to outbox the unorthodox Martinez for several of the rounds, but in the end, his lack of workrate ruined any chance he had to win. Often, he would crowd Martinez without throwing, more and more relying on a high guard to protect himself against combinations as the fight progressed. The last knockout punch, in fact, went through his guard, which by that time had been weakened by repeated blows. Grade: B+

Andy Lee: Lee set himself up for a possible shot at Martinez--he seems to be one of the few people willing to call out the Argentinean--by avenging his only professional loss to Brian Vera, in a fight Lee took almost purely for personal reasons. Vera tried his best to pressure Lee and make him uncomfortable, but the Irishman stayed disciplined this time, executing Emmanuel Steward's advice to perfection. His ability to stick to a gameplan and box technically for the most part suggests that Lee has vastly improved since his one loss to Vera back in 2008. Grade: A

Brian Vera: Vera's standing didn't take a hit at all with the loss. He just couldn't get past Lee's reach to wreak his usual havoc, but Vera will remain a formidable "truth test" for anyone that gets in the ring with him, as recent victim Sergio Mora discovered. Grade: B

Toshiaki Nishioka proved he is the best 122 lb'er in the world by beating the legendary Rafael Marquez over twelve rounds at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Nishioka was just too fresh for the old Mexican warrior, who was moving down in weight to try to recapture a title he'd previously held. The impressive win sets up Nishioka for a potential superfight with Nonito Donaire in the second-half of 2012. Grade: A

Rafael Marquez: Marquez for his part showed he still has a bit of gas left in the tank, although not enough to beat someone as talented and in-prime as Nishioka. He could still make some noise against lesser opponents, though, and would be a tough out for any up-and-comer or contender. Grade: B

Juan Manuel Lopez: Juanma got some of his swagger back this weekend, pole-axing Mike Oliver in two rounds. A good, solid performance from the exciting Puerto Rican that may help to get his career back on track, although he still isn't where he was at before the shocking setback against Orlando Salido. Grade: A-

Busted: Arthur Abraham (Speeding)

Busted (a.k.a. When Boxers Go Bad) presents its first case: former longtime middleweight titlist and Super Six tournament participant Arthur Abraham was cited for speeding on the Berlin highway, apparently setting the standard against which all future German speeders will be measured, an astounding 230KM/hour in a 80KM/hour zone. That's almost three times the limit--a serious flouting of the law. Abraham was in the Ferrari we saw him driving on Fight Camp 360, and German authorities are saying his license may be revoked for three months and a fine up to 1360 euros administered due to the serious nature of the offense. For his part, Arthur says he was speeding because he was late for an awards ceremony at which he was an honoree.

Who In The World Is Darren Barker?

And does he have any sort of shot this Saturday against the consensus pound-for-pound number three, middleweight champion Sergio Martinez? Psychologically, he sounds up for the challenge:

The fight from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City will be preceded by a rematch between Andy Lee and Brian Vera that has been a very long time coming. We like Lee to win a decision against the tough but limited Vera this time around.

aaaaaaaand.... We're Back!

First off, my apologies for the lengthy downtime. I wrote some bad code, and on top of that I unfortunately installed a series of updates that all went wrong. In short, I had an ugly mess to sort out. I am so happy to say Eye On The Ring is back up! We won't be down for a long time like that again.

While we were away a number of fights happened. Vitali Klitschko vs. Tomasz Adamek and Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Victor Ortiz are open for cards, comments, and ratings.

Right before the site went offline, we added an official Boxing Talk Forum, so check that out. It's a perfect place to discuss the Mayweather Ortiz outcome, I'm curious what you all have to say about that one. The forum thread on fights we are missing here on the site is still going too, let us know what you'd like to see. And we also added a calculated Controversy Rating to the fights, based on user cards that is still somewhat new. That calculation will get more interesting as more fan cards are entered.



Another Ghost Disappears

A long with January, August is traditionally the slowest month of the year for boxing, the "off-season," so to speak, of a sport with no seasons. However, with today's news that Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero has pulled out of his August 27th fight against Marcos Maidana due to a possibly torn rotator cuff, thus forcing Golden Boy to cancel the entire show (which was to be the biggest TV boxing event of the month), what fans have been left with is an even more empty August than usual, given that out of the three major fights of the month, two have been cancelled and the third resulted in a controversy shitstorm that did nothing but hurt the sport. Let's quickly recap:
  1. First, Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik pulled out of his tune-up bout against Darryl Cunningham citing unhappiness at the size of his purse for his following fight, forcing cancellation of a Youngstown, Ohio card which was to be telecast on Shobox (yes, August is so slow a month that a tune-up fight on Shobox is one of the major fights). Pavlik was getting the entire $50,000 budget from Showtime as his purse for what was presumably a glorified sparring session, and Top Rank was paying out of pocket to foot the bill for the rest of the card. I think there's a very good chance we haven't heard the last of bad news from the Pavlik camp, now that it sounds like the promoter, the manager, the trainer, and the fighter are all on different pages.
  2. Second, last week's final of the Showtime Bantamweight Tournament was so egregiously officiated by Russell Mora (we all know the details, so I'll skip the recap) that the fight generated the kind of media buzz a clean fight at 118 lb. never would have, no matter how exciting--in other words, it was all bad. It was so bad that we got immediate action from both a sanctioning body (the IBF ordered a mandatory rematch to take place in the next 120 days) and a fight commission (Keith Kizer of NSAC said that Mora would not be reprimanded, and would instead be moved down to ref lesser fights while he undergoes re-training), which, as boxing fans know, are organizations that are usually as quiet as the Sphinx when we want them to react.
  3. And today, another Ghost pulls out, cancelling a televised HBO card that was set to be the marquee boxing event of August 2011, not the least of which was because it included Seth Mitchell, a guy I'm curious to see now that we've been told ad nauseum that he is the next great American heavyweight. I understand Golden Boy pulling the plug on the show, given that it was set to take place in San Jose, close to Gilroy where Guerrero is from. It's just unfortunate news in a month that could've used a dose of something good instead (like what was presumably going to be an excellent, competitive bout).

Ah well, I feel better now that I've complained. Here's to a great September.

Russell Mora Administers Another Black Eye To Boxing

We've had two sport-killing outcomes in boxing the last two months: first, the horrendous decision handed down in the Paul Williams-Erislandy Lara fight that got all three judges immediately suspended; and now, last night's bantamweight title fight between holder Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares being completely and utterly ruined by shambolic, blatantly biased officiating from Russell Mora. Given the spotlight that Showtime gave to ripping Mora after the fight--Jim Grey's interview with Mora stands out in particular--I think it's safe to say that it will be a very long time before we see him in the ring as the third man in a major fight again. I haven't heard much about Marlon B. Wright since the first Bute-Andrade long count, and that was three years ago now.

But even if Mora gets suspended, the injustice he perpetrated remains. The only way to set this straight is with an immediate rematch, which Mares sounded completely up for afterwards, although his handlers were a little less enthusiastic. Richard Schaefer mentioned a possible fight with Nonito Donaire instead, which seems extremely unlikely given that Donaire would probably blast Mares out in a couple rounds and then vacate the belt immediately to move up to super bantam. Why not milk Mares for a couple defenses instead once the 900 lb. gorilla in the division has left?

Grading the Undercard: Star Power

The undercard for Star Power has been finalized. Here's how we rate each of the fights in terms of competitiveness and potential for fireworks:

Erik Morales vs. Lucas Matthysse (the Las Vegas co-feature event)

The presence of Matthysse makes this fight a more legitimate and interesting contest than would be the case had the original opponent, Barrios, made it through customs. As it is, Matthysse is a far more deserving challenger for the vacant WBC 140 lb. belt he and Morales will be contesting, a "world championship" that has now been stripped from Timothy Bradley not once, but twice (the first time was after another unification fight, against Kendall Holt). A lot of people like this fight, but any fight with a tough opponent like Matthysse that Morales takes at this stage of his career makes me a little queasy. Morales took a lot of punishment from Maidana, and Matthysse is almost as strong, and a better defensive boxer (both Alexander and Judah had problems hitting him consistently). Ironically, since Matthysse's workrate is noticeably lower than Maidana's, Morales may actually have a better shot of winning the fight, consequently becoming the first Mexican-born fighter to win titles in four different weight classes (122, 126, 130, and 140).

Grade: B+

Jessie Vargas vs. Josesito Lopez (the Las Vegas broadcast opener)

Junior welterweight prospect Jessie Vargas is 16-0 with 9 knockouts, but his resume so far is pretty thin. He was fed the shot Vivian Harris in April (and, it should be noted, he took fewer rounds than Victor Ortiz did to finish off that version of Harris). Josesito Lopez I know even less about, but in his biggest win, he knocked out Mike Dallas Jr., who was also undefeated at the time. I think this very easily could be the best fight on the PPV card.

Grade: A

Saul Alvarez v. Alfonso Gomez (the Los Angeles main event)

The fight in which Alvarez won the WBC title at 154 lbs. was a joke (against the hapless Matthew Hatton, who, although game, had exactly no chance in a hundred to win). Alvarez's first defense, against another Englishman, Ryan Rhodes, was only just less so. Now, for Alvarez's second defense, his team has selected former Contender participant, Alfonso Gomez. Gomez has looked pretty good since he was destroyed by an in-prime pre-Margarito Miguel Cotto a few years back. He surprised the hell out of me by winning a technical decision against the tough Jesus Soto-Karass, then trampled all over the shell of Jose Luis Castillo, before blowing out Calvin Green in May. I expect him to give Alvarez, who I haven't completely bought into, all he can handle. If Canelo can beat Gomez as definitively as Cotto did, then he'll have answered some pretty important questions.

Grade: B

Alfonso Gomez Flexes On The Mic (Again)

Alfonso Gomez, like Roy Jones, is one of the few boxers who prepares a song for each fight, usually performed at the press conference. Here's video of him baiting El Canelo at the LA presser promoting their September 17 fight at Staples Center that will be shown as a split-site card on HBO PPV. The Alvarez-Gomez fight is the main co-feature of Star Power: Mayweather vs. Ortiz. For his part, El Canelo was nonplussed to the degree that when he got on the mic, he claimed that he was "not a clown," but a man who would do his talking in the ring, with his fists.