THE LATEST SCORECARDS

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.

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