Saturday, February 28, 2015

It's Time For Frampton To Fight Rigondeaux

So, yeah, Carl Frampton looked like a monster this weekend in Belfast. Fast, aggressive, and powerful, Frampton appeared to be just what he is - a top notch fighter.

Now it's time for the man to face a top notch opponent.

Guillermo Rigondeaux is waiting.

Indeed, the Cuban immigrant to America has been waiting for a while. For Frampton. For Quigg. For De La Cruz. For any popular, talented opponent. So far there have been no takers. Santa Cruz, for instance, has pretty much made it obvious that Rigo is just too good for him to want to get in the ring with.

Frampton's opponent on Saturday, Chris Avalos, wanted no part of Rigo, either. Indeed, he gave up a chance to face Rigo for Rigo's title, opting instead to fight Frampton in Frampton's hometown of Belfast. That's saying something.

"To be honest, it was pretty easy," Frampton said after polishing Avalos off within five. Easy is something no one has called the Cuban slickster. Not anyone who knows better. Not ever.

Moments after Frampton spoke, Hall of Fame fighter and Frampton manager Barry McGuigan  made it clear that he feels Frampton is better than Rigo. Yet the talk then quickly turned to Scott Quigg and Rigo was forgotten.

With all due respect to Quigg, everyone knows Rigo is the man at super bantamweight. If McGuigan indeed wants Frampton to prove he's the best, he's got to arrange a fight between his man and Guillermo. Beating Quigg will prove one thing and one thing only - that Frampton can beat Quigg. In order to prove he's numero uno, Frampton has to get past Rigo.

It's that simple.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Cletus Seldin - American Tough Guy

Jonathan Garcia stepped into the ring this Friday in Long Island against local star Cletus "The Hebrew Hammer" Seldin in a junior welterweight bout broadcast live on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights. The undefeated Seldin was fifteen and zilch with twelve knockouts, while Garcia had a nineteen and two resume, with eleven knockouts of his own.

Both men came out swinging. The referee missed an early knockdown where Seldin's knee clearly hit the canvas after a Garcia shot, but it didn't matter. For Seldin proved himself to be a classic American tough guy. He may not have shown the extraordinary skill of some in his weight class, but he brought the heat.

He also brought  an effective jab, which he peppered Garcia with throughout the fight. Coupled with an overhand right and grinding body blows, Seldin's assault proved devastating for Garcia in the fourth, as the Michigan native got badly hurt. Yet, bloody and battered, Garcia survived the round.

Seldin wasn't to be deterred, though, rocking his man again in the fifth. Needless to say, the fight didn't enter the sixth, for the referee wisely stepped in and stopped the affair. Now Seldin stands at sixteen and oh with thirteen knockouts under his belt as well as an impressive showing on a major television platform.

Where does he stand among his peers, though? Truth be told, it's hard to tell. Seldin fights in a style that can rightfully be considered somewhat crude - at least in comparison to, say, fellow Long Islander Chris Algieri. Seldin also isn't above fighting dirty, either. On the surface, then, Seldin wouldn't appear nearly polished enough to crack through the tough competition to be found in the junior welterweight division.

Then again, the same was undoubtedly said about Marcos Maidana and he thrashed Adrien Broner before giving the great Floyd Mayweather himself a real run for his money (no pun intended). In other words, tough guys just can't be counted out. Far too many have gone further than expected simply because of heart and a no-give attitude.

No matter what, Cletus Seldin will never be boring. And that's good news for fight fans.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Erislandy Lara - Is Miguel Cotto Interested?

So now word around the twitterverse is that lineal middleweight champ Miguel Cotto may indeed be interested in fighting Erislandy Lara. This comes as a bit of surprise, for Lara may be as avoided as Gennady Golovkin, a man who we're widely told Cotto is afraid  to get in the ring with.

Of course there are differences between the middleweight they call GGG and Lara. Golovkin is a predator who destroys what's in front of him. Lara, on the other hand, is a world class Cuban slickster. Highly polished, extremely skilled, the guy is hard to catch, much less beat. And yet people love to give him a bad rap.

Truth be told, I felt Lara was robbed when he fought Saul Canelo Alvarez last year - and I'm a Canelo fan. Sure, it was a close fight, but I felt Lara owned it in the end. Then again, there are many out there who disagree. That being said, there are many people who simply don't like Lara because of his frustrating style. And that's unfortunate.

Not liking a fighter because he doesn't get beat up is like not liking a major league pitcher because he keeps you from seeing homeruns, or an athletic NFL quarterback who keeps you from seeing sacks. It's ridiculous when you think about it.

Lara, simply put, is one of the best athletes in the world. Annoyed by his style? Cheer for the other guy. Don't cheer for the man not getting fights, though. That's like wanting the Super Bowl to get cancelled because you hate the New England Patriots.

Boxing is a sport, not a popularity contest. And the 20-2-2 Lara is one of the best athletes the sport has to offer. Besides, it's good to keep in mind that over half of Lara's victories have been by knockout. It's not like the man is disinterested in getting a KO, after all.

So, will Cotto take the bait and get in the ring with the Cuban immigrant who calls himself "The American Dream?" I wouldn't be disappointed if he did. It would show that Cotto isn't afraid to risk another loss on his record - and it would give Lara another chance to prove himself amongst the sport's elite.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

PBC's "Corner To Corner" Premiers On NBC Sports Network

Roberto Guerrero. Keith Thurman. Adrien Broner. John Molina Jr.

All four men will be fighting on the maiden voyage of Premiere Boxing Champions, which will be aired on NBC's flagship channel - in primetime - on Saturday,  March 7th.

Guerrero, who has fought (and lost) to the great Floyd Mayweather, is set to fight the violently impressive - and undefeated - welterweight Keith Thurman.  Molina, a battle hardened veteran, will be facing the obnoxious, though not without talent, Adrien Broner in a junior welterweight clash.

Needless to say, NBC is doing this right. Boxing has taken a hit in recent decades. A lot of that has to do with the fact that most don't know who the top boxers in the sport actually are these days. By focusing on each of the four men who will be facing off in early March, the peacock network has gone old school with it's Corner to Corner program.

If all goes well, viewers will actually know who these fighters are as individuals before they face off as athletes. Familiarity breeds personal investment, after all. And personal investment breeds huge fan bases. It's smart to keep in mind that Mike Tyson drew eyeballs not only because he was a monster in the ring during those early days, but because people knew about the man himself.

Flitting from one fighter to next, documentary-style, Corner to Corner on Wednesday gave viewers insight into the lives of the contestants as they prepared for their respective fights. Viewers learned, for instance, that Guerrero is one hell of a husband (let's just say he takes the words "in sickness and in health" very seriously). They also learned that Thurman is dedicated to the memory of his former mentor while Molina is a dedicated family man.

And Broner? Well, viewers caught sight of a much more genteel Broner than hard core boxing fans have been used to seeing. Whether or not Broner is a changed man or if he's merely been told to play nice for the camera is irrelevant, really. What's important to NBC, and to adviser Al Haymon, who brought Premiere Boxing Champions into existence, is that an image is being formed.

Needless to say, Corner to Corner is going to have its critics, as, undoubtedly is Premiere Boxing Champions. The thing with Corner to Corner, however, is that it's goal is simple. NBC merely wants you to remember the names and faces. Unlike shows like Showtime's All Access, or HBOs 24/7, Corner to Corner is selling people more than it's selling fights.

That's a fine distinction. And an important one to remember.




Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The TRUTH About Mayweather Vs Pacquiao

Someone's getting tired of waiting.

For years people have been waiting for Manny Pacquiao to fight Floyd Mayweather for the unofficial title of "World's Greatest Boxer." Sadly, that fight hasn't least not yet. The truth, however, is that things have been in motion since a few weeks before Christmas.

Yup - Manny and Floyd have been negotiating in order to make this potential superfight happen. At least their respective camps have been. And that's a good thing. Scratch that, it's a great thing. What it's not, however, is something to keep people up at night in eager anticipation.

The world has seen this scenario before, after all, only to have nothing come of it. What makes things different this time is that even the media now appears unable to contain its excitement. It seems like every week or so a major and respectable publication announces that a deal has been made, only for the world to find out (sometimes within minutes) that the report in question is false.

There's no reason to get overly flustered, though. For I - an official and professional boxing analyst - will now give you the truth. And the truth is this:

I have no idea what's going on with the negotiations.

What's more, virtually no one else does, either - and that includes people within the Mayweather and Pacquiao camps.

In the end, I suspect that even Manny himself isn't sure what's going on. Nope. In my professional opinion, only Floyd and a handful of others are privy to developments - and the entire rest of the world is in the dark.

That's not all. The entire rest of the world will remain in the dark until Floyd - who's all about control - is good and ready to enlighten it. The bottom line is this - if Floyd doesn't make a personal announcement, via Twitter or Shots, that the fight has been made, then all bets remain off.

Here's even more good news - the fight may never happen. Believe it. Don't get me wrong, the bout is close to happening, but it could still fall apart, if it hasn't already. Many will blame Floyd if he doesn't meet Manny in the ring, and they may be right to feel that way.

Again, though, it will probably all be conjecture.

Depressed? Imagine how it feels writing about this sport.

Still, there's some good fights are there besides Pacquiao-Mayweather. Allow me to rephrase that, there's some REALLY good fights out there besides Pacquiao-Mayweather. And many will be aired on free TV.

Yup, CBS, NBC, and Spike will all be airing live, top level fights in the coming months. Check them out. You may find out you don't even need Manny or Floyd to be a fan.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Boxcino Tournament Opens In Rousing Fashion

The 2015 edition of ESPNs Boxcino Tournament started off with a bang on Friday Night Fights as Stanyslav Skorokhod of the Ukraine absolutely destroyed Michael Moore of Cleveland. Although Moore may have felt the referee stopped the bout too soon in the fourth, it was clear by that point that the fight was all but over. For Skorokhod, who goes by the name of the Nuclear Ghost (he's originally from outside of Chernobyl) was taking target practice on Moore's head. Bottom line - it was a sound call from the official.

In the following bout, New Jersey's John Thompson sprang back from a crushing knockout loss last year at the hands (or, rather, the gloves) of Frank Galarza to surprise Ricardo Pinell by handing the California native a unanimous decision defeat. Thompson, who was a last minute replacement after Cleotis Pendarvis didn't make weight, made the absolute most of his opportunity, boxing strategically, with backward movement and a crisp, solid jab.

The third match of the evening featured Vito Gasparyan and the undefeated Simeon Hardy. It was a seesaw affair, with the Guyanese fighter Hardy winning the first portion of the bout while the Armenian Gasparyan asserted control of the second. It was also one of those situations where heart carried the day...for Gasparyan carried away a unanimous decision win.

The final bout of the card at Connecticut's Mohegan Sun Casino pitted New Jersey native Alex Perez against Boxcino 2014 veteran Brandon Adams. Both men threw hard, to the point that, in round three, the fight looked like little more than a test of wills. Adams' work on the ropes, however, was able to give him an edge...and a savage fifth round KO victory.

Although no one was able to top Skorokhod's extremely impressive performance (though Adams came close), Thompson, Garsparyan and Adams were all able to climb Boxino's junior middleweight ladder on Friday, as well. The next time these four men enter the ring, Skorokhod will face Thomspon and Gasparyan will throw down with Adams. The winner of those two matches will then meet for Boxcino 2015's junior middleweight crown.

Each man will have time to rest, however, as Boxcino will feature heavyweights on next week's Friday Night Fights. Here's hoping this year's Tournament will end up as entertaining as 2014's was.

Ricardo Pinell Hopes To Take Boxcino By Storm

ESPNs Friday Night Fights brings back its popular Boxcino Tournament tonight with a card being aired live from the Mohegan Sun Casino in eastern Connecticut. Last year's Boxcino tournament undoubtedly led to FNFs 2014 ratings bump and the folks in Bristol are undoubtedly hoping the trend continues into 2015, as well.

One man who clearly hopes to make this year's Boxcino memorable is California's Ricardo Pinell. With a 10-1-1 record, Pinell has knocked out over fifty percent of the men he's beaten. Pinell was supposed to take on fellow Californian Cleotis Pendarvis in a six round junior middleweight scrap. ESPN, however, reports that Pendarvis was disqualified for not making weight. That means Pinell will now have to face an unknown commodity in New Jersey native John Thompson.

This might seem like good news for Pinell, since Johnson clearly took the fight on short notice. Yet the southpaw is now going to face a man with a record of 14-1 who he hasn't specifically trained for. That means Pinell is going to have to expect the unexpected. That can be a frightening proposition, especially when one considers how much of boxing comes down to simple prep work.

There's no doubt, however, that Pinell plans on making the most of this opportunity, no matter who he's up against. A fighter who stalks his prey with a right jab lead, Pinell has the potential to wear opponents down through sheer aggression. He may not be the fastest fighter, but Pinell is relentless.

Thompson, on the other hand might well be looking for redemption. For it appears Pinell's FNF opponent is the same John Thomspon who was flattened last year before a Showtime audience by Frank Galarza. If that's the case, a shocking win to offset a thunderous loss would be a career boost for Johnson indeed.

Expect both men to go for broke in Connecticut this weekend.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Might Andy Lee Soon Be Looked On As An Equal Of Cotto And GGG?

Peter Quillin is getting the chance to both redeem his reputation and to gain a world title when he faces WBO middleweight champ Andy Lee on April 15th at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. Quillin, after all, passed on a million dollar pay when he refused to fight Matt Korobov. Lee ended up fighting Korobov instead, and subsequently won the title. Quillin, on the other hand, won a whole lot of mockery. That can all change if Quillin bests Lee in New York next spring.

Lee, however, clearly has an agenda of his own. And that's to be one of the top dogs of the middleweight division. For here is a man most didn't expect to end up holding a portion of the middleweight title to begin with. In fact, most people didn't expect it until the moment Lee put Korobov pretty much into orbit with a smashing right hook.

Lee had been behind in the bout, after all. What's more, although fans knew who Lee was when he met Korobov, the Irish native was pretty much flying under the radar at the time. For the middleweight world, filled with Cottos, Martinez and Golovkins, seemed a bit too glistening and full for the 30 year old vet.

Lee may not be flying under the radar anymore - but he still has a lot to prove. While few would deny that he's an absolutely thrilling fighter, Lee isn't held in the same regard as fellow middleweight champs Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin. There's a reason for this, of course. Cotto is a legend, and Golovkin, with his seek and destroy style, looks like he might be on the way to becoming one himself.

If Lee were to beat Quillin soundly, however, he might well start to find himself in more rarefied air. Missed opportunities aside, Quillin is an impressive middleweight indeed. Possessing a perfect 31-0 record, the Chicago native can boast of having KOd 22 of his opponents, including the rugged Gabriel Rosado. The man, simply put, is no joke.

It will be interesting to see how experts and analysts pick this one. It would seem that most would favor Quillin. At least one analyst of note, however, is leaning towards Lee - and with good reason. For Lee has heart. Real heart. Losses to Julio Caesar Chavez Jr and Brian Vera didn't keep him from earning a title. Nor did impressive early performances from Korobov and John Jackson, both of who Lee came back to beat.

Truth be told, there's a reason the late, great Emanuel Steward had such faith in Lee. It would be a mistake to collectively sell this man short.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Who's Afraid Of Amir Khan? Maybe Some Top Boxers.

"Mayweather, Pacquiao, Cotto, Bradley, Marquez all available to fight around May.. Im ready and want to fight the best #LetsMakeItHappen"

Amir Khan Tweeted these words on Sunday in the continued hope of getting a big fight which, let's face it, he deserves at this point. A year ago, people laughed at Khan, seeing him as a man who was willing to risk his dignity in order to land a fight with Floyd Mayweather...a fight which never came about.

Now, however, it's clear that Khan should be taken seriously, not just by the naysayers, but by those men he wishes to meet in the ring, as well. Why? Well, first off, Khan is fast. Really fast. Perhaps even faster than Manny and Floyd. That could pose a stylistic problem for either fighter, particularly for Floyd.

What's more, Khan has had time to work on (or to learn to work around) his notorious glass jaw. In short, he may no longer be the same Khan who Danny Garcia and Breidis Prescott cold clocked, the same Khan who Marcos Maidana damn near polished off before the closing bell.

And if that's the case, Khan is a formidable foe indeed.

The Englishman was taking Garcia to school in 2012, after all, before Garcia was able to land big. What's more, Khan almost had Maidana down and out early in their Vegas throwdown. Add all this to the fact that Khan was an Olympic medalist in 2004 who now has over one and a half million Twitter followers and it becomes obvious there's a very a popular, very talented fighter on the scene.

Why, then, has Khan been largely ignored?

Well, for starters, the man did himself no favors by waiting around to be picked by Mayweather as an opponent. By doing that, Khan gave the world the impression of a jilted bride and that's never a good thing. Let's not forget about that speed, though. Or those thirty victories over the likes of Devon Alexander, Paulie Malignaggi, Maidana, Zab Judah, and Carlos Molina. They may have something to do with the fact that Khan hasn't been able to land a major bout, as well.

Things, however, may be about to change. If Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather falls through, both men will look bad if they don't give Khan a call. Cotto may be able to avoid meeting Khan based on the weight matter, true, but Bradley may indeed be eager to get Khan in the ring.

And that would be quite the match. What's more, the sky would be the limit for the winner.

So in the end, Khan may indeed find himself in the spotlight. How he will be able to handle the heat, however, will be up to him...and his opponent, whoever that may be.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Is Santa Cruz' Departure From Golden Boy A Bad Sign For PBC?

Not so long ago, Showtime was being hailed as the place where the future of boxing would reside. Great fights were being broadcast. Great names were on the roster. The future looked rosier than Valentines’ Day. Then came 2014. Mismatch after mismatch, disappointment after disappointment. Something had gone wrong – terribly, ominously wrong.

Needless to say, things have gotten worse in 2015. In short, the network simply isn’t lined up to broadcast any fights of note. Not a single one. What’s more, Showtime’s banner carrier for the sport, Floyd Mayweather, is wrapped up in talks with the Manny Pacquiao camp that resemble a First World War-style stalemate.

Network honcho Stephen Espinoza may be a likable guy who’s quick with a Twitter quip, but something is clearly rotten in Denmark. Sure, things may all work out, but as it stands, the year will be a full quarter over before Showtime airs a meaningful fight card – and that’s at the earliest (if at all). 

The blame for this seems to lie squarely on the shoulders of one Al Haymon, a man who seems to be an unlikely combination of JD Salinger and Doc Kearns. Mysterious and powerful, Haymon is an adviser with an enormous stable of talented fighters at his disposal.

Haymon’s army used to fight on HBO. His boxers faced less than stellar competition for huge money, however, so HBO showed Haymon the door. Haymon then took his business to Showtime and gave the network some great fights – until 2014, when he gave the network matchups that were insulting to viewers.

Now, in 2015, Haymon has found some new friends. And let me tell you, these friends are impressive. For broadcasting giant NBC and cable staple Spike TV are now going to show Haymon fighters ply their trade…for free. What’s more, the matchups that are being broadcast are impressive. Showtime impressive. Only Showtime won’t be airing these bouts. Showtime will probably by airing second run episodes of Homeland instead.

Why? Because Haymon has taken the good stuff elsewhere.

Of course this may be just a temporary thing. Perhaps a new development will be revealed where everyone will say “Ah, so that’s why Espinoza never betrayed anger towards Haymon on Twitter.” Until that development is revealed, however, Showtime will look like it’s being played more than it has been already.

Which leads one to wonder if this NBC/Spike business is too good to be true. Could it be that Haymon is actually planning on playing NBC and Spike like he played HBO and Showtime? It certainly doesn’t seem like good business sense for him to want to do so – at least not at first blush. After all, Haymon now has to pay  for the pleasure of showcasing his fighters. One would think that if Haymon does to the peacock network what he did to HBO and Showtime it will hurt him financially, right?


The truth is, no one knows. Word around the campfire has been that Haymon kept all the good fights off Showtime last year so he could broadcast them this year on NBC and Spike. What of next year, though? Remember, Haymon gave Showtime one hell of a 2013. And where’s Showtime now?

One thing that’s unsettling is the fact that Haymon fighter Leo Santa Cruz has just recently decided to part ways with Golden Boy Promotions, presumably so he won’t have to fight the formidable Guillermo Rigondeaux. Advising a fighter to keep away from real fights so that he can earn a fortune turning palookas into minced meat sounds like the Haymon of lore. It also sounds like a leopard who hasn’t changed his spots. 

Sure, Santa Cruz could well end up fighting Abner Mares. Then again, he could well end up avoiding that threat, too. Santa Cruz has reportedly earned a small fortune smoking third-tier competition. Maybe he just won't want to give up such a great gig. Boxing is a business, after all. We're reminded of that over and over again.
Perhaps the people at NBC and Spike TV will eventually have to remind Haymon that boxing is a sport, as well.