Franchise Thoughts: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Quite the mixed bag for us boxing fans this week. First came yet another "WTF?" moment when it was announced that Nikolai Valuev and John Ruiz would fight August 30 for the vacant WBA heavyweight title. I do believe in a higher power, and I also feel He has one tremendous sense of humor to give us a world where these two men would fight twice - and for a title both times!

My favorite part of the story is that Don King submitted a purse bid just $10 over the minimum despite having a vested interest in both men. Folks, when Don King doesn't think he can sell your fight, you know you've got a stinker on your hands.

Then my brother Uatu text messaged me a few days later to point me to the least surprising injury news ever. Namely, that Joe Calzaghe had hurt himself training and his September fight with Roy Jones was postponed.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. JoeCal's fight with Bernard Hopkins was pretty boring, and depending on which Jones shows up, this one could be too. Call me a hopeless optimist, but maybe Calzaghe will get tired of being called a slapper and RJJ will realize he's at the end of the road and they'll both lay it all on the line.

It appears the fight may be rescheduled for November, which if nothing else will give HBO more time to put together episodes of 24/7. They might even have cameras rolling the next time Joe hurts his hand!

Fortunately, we the fight fans have the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito fight coming up to wash the bad taste of all this other stuff out of our mouths. Good stuff by ESPN's Kieran Mulvaney as he discusses how this fight could be the one that turns Cotto into a real star. I think the same could also be said for Margarito, whose crowd-pleasing style seems to need only the right high profile win to catapult him to superstardom.

And speaking of pleasing crowds, Eric Raskin isn't exactly going out on a limb when he calls Cotto-Margarito the one fight to watch to attempt to get your non-boxing-fan friends hooked on the sport. Much more interesting is Raskin's lead, where he talks about the need many of us feel to try to recruit others into the fold.

I have to admit I've felt that way on more than one occasion, and I'm not sure why. Part of it, I'm sure, is that I hear the constant refrains of "boxing is in decline, boxing is dead, blah, blah blah," and I want to show people that it's not true. Some of it is also knowing how exciting boxing can be at it's best, and truly feeling that my friends who are fans of other sports would agree if they would only give it a chance.

In any case, I've certainly done my share of trumpeting the merits of Cotto-Margarito to anyone who would listen. They don't have to watch if they don't want to, but if the fight turns out to be even half as good as experts and fans alike think it might be, it will be their loss.

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