Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quick Jabs: Mayweather/Hatton 24/7 Continued, Fights That Must Happen, Fights That No One Cares To See, A Must-See Prospect And A Bad Idea

All right. It's settled. I think I'll just go with "Quick Jabs" for these collections of musings from now on. Until I think of something better. Maybe I'll even come up with a logo or somethin'.

  • The final scene in the most recent episode of HBO's Mayweather/Hatton 24/7 documentary series was absolutely spine-tingling: A palpably intense Ricky Hatton sitting in his car, bucking his playful image and declaring resolutely that he wanted to win more than Floyd Mayweather. Summarized, it doesn't sound very special, but the contrast, both in Hatton's tone compared to his usual nature and in the photography itself, was really something. My affection for Hatton continues to grow, as does my disinterest in Mayweather's constant harping about how much money he has. It's fascinating to see how the series has a number of writers hedging their bets about Mayweather blowing out Hatton. I've never thought this was going to be as easy as some predicted; snide remarks that Mayweather would dispatch with Hatton as easily as he did Arturo Gatti have been way out of line. Hatton is significantly more versatile, having proven he can win via all-out mauling or controlled, safety-first boxing, and has beaten significantly better fighters than Gatti ever did. But I don't want to get ahead of myself. The point of the series is to promote the fight, and it's easier to promote if the show emphasizes Hatton's chances. Scenes like the one in the car do that incredibly well.
  • We'll find out by the end of this week whether Manny Pacquiao fights Juan Manuel Marquez in March or David Diaz. On the off-chance that Google search algorithms pick up this post when an official with Top Rank, Pacquiao's main promoter, is playing on the web, let me once again stress that Pacquiao must, must, must fight Marquez. There is not a more important fight in boxing right now than a rematch between these two top-five "pound for pound" best, to settle unfinished business from their mightily entertaining 2004 draw. Last time Marquez was to blame for the rematch falling through, when he demanded too much money. This time if it fails, the blame is entirely with Pacquiao. Even Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum admits that Marquez promoter Golden Boy has been "reasonable" in contract demands, and Marquez is willing to move up in weight from 130, where Pacquiao has begun to strain, to 132 or 135. While I'm at it, I'd like to again lobby for Bernard Hopkins to take on Joe Calzaghe at light heavyweight (175 lbs.); it's arguably the second most important fight yet to be scheduled. The two remarkably spry old men are two more of the top-five pound for pound fighters, with Mayweather rounding out the other slot. Word is that Hopkins is being difficult, and no surprise there. His handlers want a rematch with Roy Jones instead, which may make sense financially and aesthetically but is far less preferable in terms of settling legacies. Boxing's on too much of a hot streak not to make Hopkins/Calzaghe and Pacquiao/Marquez happen. Should one or both falter, all this great momentum will have been for naught.
  • Light heavyweight Antonio Tarver is the rare culprit in not making a big fight happen in 2007, when he ducked Chad Dawson by insisting on absurd money. He's up against an unknown Saturday night in a Showtime triple-header also featuring junior middleweight (154 lbs.) Vernon Forrest and flyweight (112 lbs.) Nonito Donaire in against heavy underdogs. I'm not sure where anyone got the idea that this was a good card, but I'll probably watch if I'm around and root for Tarver to lose. This is a bizarrely atypical card in a year loaded with amazing ones, although, at least Donaire's opponent is recognized as something of a contender. I'm predicting victories for the guys I know.
  • While I'm dispensing advise, if you haven't had a chance to ogle prospect James Kirkland yet, I highly recommend you tune in to Showtime Friday night. Mike Tyson comparisons are thrown around so much in boxing as to be meaningless -- witness Joan Guzman's nickname "Little Tyson," even though he fights nothing like him and hasn't knocked anyone out in forever -- but Kirkland, a junior middleweight, does a lot of what Tyson did. Crushing power. Underrated speed. A single-minded adherence to destroy, destroy, destroy. While Mike Tyson is getting more headlines with his jailtime lunch menu than all of what's good in boxing these days, Kirkland's doing what Tyson used to in the ring. His opponent Friday is another nobody, but Kirkland isn't far away from a title shot or at least a fight where we find out if he's for real.
  • It's old news, but Jermain Taylor's decision to go with Ozell Nelson as his trainer for a 166-pound rematch with Kelly Pavlik in February is out of the frying pan, into the fire. I'd lobbied for Taylor to part ways with Emmanuel Steward, given the unproductive nature of their relationship thus far, and everyone thought former Taylor trainer Pat Burns would return, since Burns led him to the middleweight (160 lbs.) championship. Instead, the unproven Nelson, a close Taylor adviser who had a bad relationship with Burns, is in the driver's seat. This is an awful decision. Awful. By the sound of Burns' interview with ESPN, Taylor wanted Burns to return and told him so. Taylor just keeps making the wrong choices in the end, from settling with Nelson for reasons no one yet understands to not throwing the uppercut in the 2nd round against Pavlik when that would have ended Taylor's night in a victory instead of in a heap, slumped over unconscious. It's sad, because Taylor has a gift and he's immensely likable, but this bodes for another devastating KO in his near future.


nmn said...

im headin to pavlik v taylor ii in vegas, and franky i dislike taylor very much. i'm eager to see kelly ko taylor on an even grander scale than the ac bout!

Tim -- said...

Fascinating, nmn. I can totally dig disliking his ring style, but Taylor's not a bad dude, is he?

Sean A. Malone said...

I agree with your assesment of Showtime's triple header. A rare miss by the folks at Showtime who seem dead set on showcasing Tarver until he relents and actually fights Dawson though I wouldn't hold my breath waiting.

Kirkland is a beast. Your comparison to Tyson works on many levels. Not only is it apparent that the young Austin native fights with a monumental chip on his shoulder, like Tyson Kirkland is in a constent struggle with his inner demons. Though unlike Tyson, I believe that Kirkland's stint in jail actually changed his outlook on life for the better.

THE BRYGUY said...

I have to once again say you and I are on the same page as far as 24/7 goes, it's the best thing on T.V. right now. As for the winner, I think Mayweather mops the floor with Hatton. Hatton should not have beaten Collazo and Mayweather is much, much better than Collazo! 24/7 makes me want to change my opinion but it's to sell the fight! I would rather watch Calzaghe-Hopkins, but I can't blame Hopkins if he decides to avenge his loss to Jones Jr.

Tim -- said...

sean: Your understanding of Kirkland is deeper than mine, for obvious reasons (because you wrote that great feature of him for Thanks for adding nuance. And it's hard for me to imagine another reason Showtime would keep putting Tarver out there, so I'm now subscribing to your theory.

bryguy: I appreciate your stand -- don't let a really awesome TV show change your prediction! My thinking on Hopkins-Jones is that I'm not opposed to it happening at all, but I think it'd be a great farewell fight for Hopkins AND Jones. Whether Hopkins loses or wins against Calzaghe, it'd be fitting for Hopkins to ride off into the sunset AFTER that.