Franchise Thoughts: On Vitali, Roy and Why Hybrid Cards Aren't the End of the World

After watching Vitali Klitschko dispose of Juan Carlos Gomez fairly easily on Saturday, I finally fell firmly into the camp of people who kind of feel sorry for him.

It's not his fault, as many observers have pointed out, that he is a heavyweight champion during one of the division's dimmest eras. It's certainly not his fault that his size prevents him from getting the proper due for his skills or his heart.

Even more than brother and fellow champ Wladimir, Vitali seems to want to please the fans. If there's a problem with both Brothers Klitschko, it's that they care about those title belts a little too much, meaning they will fight any mandatory challenger one of the sanctioning bodies puts in front of them just to keep the straps.

I think the situation that might finally make Vitali a compelling figure is if David Haye (or anyone, really) would beat Wladimir. That would give Vitali a unique dual unification/revenge motivation as he tried to avenge his little bro.

Unless that happens, the Klitschko-dominated heavyweight picture is likely to remain dull for many fans. But it's not Vitali's fault, because he's trying. I think.

Another guy who is still trying is Roy Jones Jr., even if his sights are set a bit lower now. He showed Saturday he could still perform and entertain, and he may be content with that at this point.

I'm not even going to try to figure out who makes sense for him to fight going forward, but as long as he stays close to his Florida home, his fans will come out to support him. Call Jones just the latest example of an emerging boxing trend in 2009: keep all but the biggest fights local, and people will buy tickets.

And speaking of locals, kudos to Square Ring for putting another Floridian, Nate Campbell, on color commentary for the boxing matches on the Jones-Sheika card. He was insightful and funny, and he certainly has a future as a commentator should he want to pursue one when his in-ring days are done.

To top it all off, the hybrid boxing/MMA card came off pretty well in Pensacola despite many naysayers - including some famous ones. At least on the broadcast, it sounded like the fans were into the MMA bouts and the Jones-Sheika main event, lagging just a bit for the B.J. Flores boxing match.

Does that mean mixed cards are the wave of the future? Definitely not, at least at the highest level. But for regional shows with fights that make sense from both sports, there appear to be some synergies that are there to be exploited.

Last 10 Seconds: If you haven't read it yet, go check out William Dettloff's excellent story on The Ring Blog about the trials of former lightweight champion Paul Spadafora. Everyone loves a good redemption angle, and it's hard not to pull for Spadafora as he attempts his latest comeback after you read his tale of learning lessons the hard way.

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