Julio Diaz vs. Victor Cayo: Friday Night Fights Round By Round

It's time for the main event from the Seminole Hard Rock, with former lightweight titleholder Julio Diaz taking on undefeated Victor Cayo. It will be a step up in weight for Diaz, who was knocked out by Rolando Reyes in April.

Hailing from the Dominican Republic, Cayo is 22-0 with 15 KOs. He is making just his second appearance in the U.S.

Teddy Atlas discusses the fact that Cayo has never been into deep waters with someone like Diaz. He thinks Julio should box and counter, while Victor will look to drag his foe inside to set up his favorite punch, the uppercut.

We're scheduled for 10 rounds and the fight is on.

Round 1

Diaz shows early movement while Cayo works his jab. Cayo has his hands a bit low most of the time. Diaz tries to figure out a way inside Cayo's long arms. Right hand by Diaz starts off a short exchange. Left hook by Diaz coming in. Nice right by Cayo in response. He shows quick hands with a two-punch combo. Cayo touches his man with quick shots as Diaz goes to the body. Close first round.

Franchise: 10-9 Cayo

Round 2

Cayo is giving Diaz a little trouble with his hand speed. Diaz shows patience setting up his right hand. Both men land in close. They fight pretty evenly in the center of the ring. Diaz lands a counter hook as he's getting hit. Cayo lands the last few nice punches of the round.

Franchise: 10-9 Cayo

Round 3

Cayo is landing right hands over Julio's left. They tie up for the first time and the ref lets them work out. Both men switch stances and try some southpaw. Cayo's hands are low but Diaz is not taking advantage. Nothing much but jabs landing right now. Cayo jumps in with an uppercut as they switch stances again. Diaz keeps up his body work in the closing seconds.

Franchise: 10-9 Diaz

Round 4

Body and head combo by Cayo, but Diaz fires right back. Left hooks by Diaz but Cayo comes charging forward. Cayo lands the right upstairs, but Diaz scores with a lepaing left hook. Diaz ducks his way in and shoves Cayo down to the mat. Julio has found something with the left hook. Cayo gets back to his right before the bell.

Franchise: 10-9 Diaz

Round 5

Cayo gets off first in this frame. Nice right hand lands and he hops back out of danger. Diaz fires a right hand and ties up. They move in close and both try to work. The ref has to stay busy as they tie up several times. Cayo throws more rights and tries to load up uppercuts. Cayo holds his own on the inside.

Franchise: 10-9 Cayo

Round 6

Diaz backs up to stay out of range. Both men land as the range closes again. Cayo flurries along the ropes and Diaz has to hold. Diaz goes downstairs but eats more shots to the head. Diaz walks in punching and Cayo responds with both hands. Nice exchange again as Diaz tries to bull his way inside. They trade at the bell, and Cayo probably took that round by throwing and landing more punches.

Franchise: 10-9 Cayo

Round 7

Diaz starts out faster this round. There's more punching and wrestling at close range. Both men dig in and trade punches. Diaz lets his hands go to the head and body. Diaz leans on his foe and takes several punches to the head. Left hook by Cayo and he avoids the return fire. Tight round.

Franchise: 10-9 Diaz

Round 8

Diaz hunts but can't trap Cayo along the ropes. Cayo potshots with his jab from range. He's being very evasive right now and timing his punches well. Diaz swings and misses with a few big hooks. Jabs both ways as Julio tries to get untracked. Nice left in the midst of an exchange makes Diaz stumble a bit.

Franchise: 10-9 Cayo

Round 9

Cayo waves his man in as they launch another exchange. Cayo easily jumps back away from more left hooks. He switches southpaw and then back again. Diaz takes a few punches leaning in. Now Diaz opens up, mostly to the body. Cayo comes right back with clubbing right hands. There's some nice work from both fighters as they stand toe to toe.

Franchise: 10-9 Cayo

Round 10

Three minutes to go, and Diaz needs to dig deep. Not much subtlety as they seem willing to stand and bang. Diaz lands a few downstairs and one to the chin. Cayo is undeterred and comes right back. Diaz works the body again. Neither man is fading and Cayo is still flashing the quick hands. They fight to the bell and it will be in the hands of the judges.

Franchise: 10-9 Diaz

Franchise: 96-94 Cayo

The judges score it 97-93, 96-94 and 98-92, all to the winner by unanimous decision, Victor Manuel Cayo.

Posted by The Franchise

Friday Night Fights Report - July 31, 2009

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida is the site for tonight's edition of Friday Night Fights. Julio Diaz is in tonight's main event, trying to get past unbeaten Victor Cayo.

Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas discuss the youth versus experience angle of tonight's main event. Atlas says there are a lot of questions that will be answered, drawing an analogy to "Let's Make a Deal."

Brian Kenny is in the studio with "Fast" Eddie Chambers. The young heavyweight is 35-1 and seems comfortable as a guest analyst. Chambers has fought Derric Rossy, who will be in action tonight.

Our first fight is between Derric Rossy and Carl Davis Drumond at heavyweight. Rossy is 21-2 with 12 KOs, and he's a former Boston College defensive lineman. Drumond is 26-1 but has fought most of his career in Costa Rica. This is scheduled for 10 rounds.

The fight starts slowly and tentatively for both men. Rossy was a late replacement for Chazz Witherspoon, but he seemed anxious for the opportunity.

Rossy finally starts to land the right hand in Round 3. Atlas is pointing out Rossy's holes on defense, but Drumond is definitely not making him pay. Chambers likes what he's seen of Rossy's development, and it would not be a surprise if he's swept the first five rounds on the scorecards.

Drumond goes five rounds in a row landing only single digit punches, so unless something surprising happens, Rossy should cruise to a victory. Drumond shows some spark at the end of Round 8, but Rossy comes back and rocks him with an uppercut midway through the ninth.

Nothing dramatic happens down the stretch, and we go to the scorecards. The judges all score it 99-91, and Rossy wins by unanimous decision.

Back in the studio, BK goes over the latest on Arturo Gatti. Brazilian police have ruled Gatti's death a suicide and released his wife, but the boxer's family has exhumed his body and brought it back to Montreal for a second autopsy.

In other sad news, Kenny discusses the death of Vernon Forrest. The latest police info suggests that Forrest was shot in the back after confronting one of the men attempting to carjack him in Atlanta. They play back highlights of Forrest's big victories over Shane Mosley and his equally big losses to Ricardo Mayorga.

Chambers echoes the thoughts of many by saying that Forrest was a really nice guy and well-liked in his community. Atlas says Forrest had plenty of talent but was even more special because of his character.

Mosley joins the show by phone and says he was in disbelief about Vernon's death. Sugar Shane calls The Viper an all-around great guy and discusses what a tough competitor he was in the ring. In Florida, there is an in-ring moment of silence and ringing of the bell for Forrest and trainer Rudy Pena.

Posted by The Franchise


Timothy Bradley vs. Nate Campbell, Junior Witter vs. Devon Alexander: Predictions

The Franchise says...

Showtime has the buzz right now in boxing because of its super middleweight tournament - and rightfully so - but there's some interesting action outside that division this Saturday night. It's youth versus experience times two in a pair of title matches.

The main event sees Timothy Bradley put his WBO light welterweight belt on the line against Nate Campbell. Desert Storm has made two successful defenses of his title since lifting it from Junior Witter in May 2008, and he'll be fighting as the champ for the first time in his home state of California.

I've seen Bradley's last three fights and my opinion of him hasn't changed. He's slightly above average in everything, but there's no part of his game that stands out as exceptional. If he was a football QB, he'd be known as one of those guys who just knows how to win games.

Campbell makes the jump to 140 having won his last five fights, though he had to gut out decisions over Juan Diaz and Ali Funeka. Nate always comes to fight and usually is better than most at figuring out tricky styles, a skill he won't need this weekend.

Though Bradley is young enough at 25 that he could still be adding new wrinkles in the ring, Campbell has him beat on boxing skills and smarts. There will be two questions the Galaxxy Warrior will have to answer, and they're both pretty big: is Father Time catching him at age 37, and will moving up in weight help or hinder his power?

My guess is that the weight will suit Campbell fine, so he'll be in there with every chance to win. Though it's possible he may fade as the young lion comes on late, I like Nate to start fast and hold on to earn a close decision.

In the co-feature, it's another bout with a similar age dynamic as 35-year old Witter takes on 22-year old Devon Alexander for the vacant WBC light welterweight strap.

Undefeated southpaw Alexander is taking a definite step up in competition, as he's been scheduled for 12 rounds just twice before. But both of those fights went the distance (including one against everyone's favorite whipping boy, DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley, in January 2008), so we know he can do it.

Witter rarely leaves his native U.K. to fight, and this marks only his second appearance in the States. He's known for switching stances often and utilizes a jerky, awkward style that can make things difficult on opponents and viewers alike.

I expect Alexander to have the edge in both speed and power, so this one should come down to whether or not he's able to bring it on offense consistently. This is a tougher call than the main event, but I like the youngster's physical advantages more here, and I'm feeling Alexander staying undefeated via unanimous decision.

Posted by The Franchise


Video: Holyfield Vs. Horse

Leave it to the gang at The Onion to make the funniest comment yet on the whole "boxing is dying" idea some people can't get out of their heads.

Or perhaps they were just goofing around. Either way, the video below is funny. And lord knows boxing fans could use a few smiles these days.

My favorite part is Evander's keys to the fight: superior agility, hands. Nice. Oh, and don't get burned by the steam!

Evander Holyfield To Box Horse For Heavyweight Title

Posted by The Franchise


Report: Vernon Forrest Gunned Down During Attempted Carjacking in Atlanta

The tragic news continues for the boxing community just as it was coming to grips with the death of Arturo Gatti. ESPN is reporting that Vernon Forrest is dead, shot multiple times by men attempting to steal his Jaguar at a gas station in Atlanta.

According to the report, Forrest had his own gun and attmepted to chase the would-be carjackers. However, he was struck by gunfire seven or eight times in the process, including once in the head.

It's a sad end to the story of The Viper, who appeared to still have some gas left in the tank even at age 38. Last September he easily avenged a loss to Sergio Mora to regain his WBC light middleweight title, and he was originally scheduled to fight Sergio Martinez in August before a training injury derailed those plans.

His height and the resulting awkward angles from which he punched gave opponents fits, most notably one of my favorite boxers, Shane Mosley. Forrest handed Sugar Shane his first ever loss in January 2002, then won a closer but still unanimous decision during their rematch six months later.

However The Viper had his own problems fighting a man with a style vastly different from his own just as HBO formed big plans for him. That man was brawler Ricardo Mayorga, who stunned Forrest with a third-round TKO in January 2003 then squeaked out a unanimous decision when they met again that July.

Though he suffered from various injuries and a lower profile after those losses, Forrest won five straight from 2005 to 2007 and won a title in a second weight class when he knocked out Michele Piccirillo in December 2007.

Posted by The Franchise


Franchise Thoughts: What Exactly is Wrong With David Haye?

When former cruiserweight champion David Haye announced in mid-2008 that he was moving up to heavyweight with his eye on winning titles in that division as well, it struck me as a welcome turn of events. As anyone who's been a boxing fan for at least this decade can tell you, the heavyweight scene was long overdue to be shaken up, and Haye seemed tailor-made to do some shaking.

He had legitimate power as a cruiser, making him capable of ending fights at any time. Yet he had obvious defensive deficiencies, so he could just as easily be the one looking up at the lights at the end of the fight. Put simply, he was fun to watch.

On top of that, he was well-spoken and talked a good game. Man, did he talk. Haye had no problem telling the world that he wanted to go after Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko - only the guys who rule the division - and sounded quite sure he'd be able to beat them if he ever got them in the ring.

Now here we sit over a year later and pretty much all Haye has left us with is that talk. He got the date he wanted with Wladimir Klitschko but had to pull out (allegedly due to injury, though others insist it was fear of Setanta's bankruptcy), and Wlad moved on without him.

It looked like Haye would land brother Vitali as a consolation prize, but that bout died Wednesday with the surprising announcement that Haye will fight Nikolai Valuev instead on November 7. It's a big challenge, pun intended, but not exactly the one we've been promised all this time.

The ESPN report by Dan Rafael is interesting to read because of the very different stories told by each side. Klitschko's people say they thought they had a done deal for a fight but got hoodwinked at the last second. Haye is on the record stating no agreement was ever reached and that the money he would have had to fight for would have made him a "slave fighter."

He also says he still wants to face the Klitschkos, but only on "equal and fair" terms. I don't know much, but one thing I do know is that knocking out Monte Barrett doesn't give one the right to hope for a 50/50 split of the purse with one of the Brothers Klitschko.

Here's another thing: if you attend a press conference wearing a t-shirt with a picture of the two guys you've been calling out decapitated, you'd better fight one of them when you have the chance. Whatever his reasons, Haye is choosing not to do that, meaning all of that tough talk of his has added up to nothing.

Unlike some boxing fans, it doesn't bother me that much when fighters choose the big money fight over the "better" one. It's a tough sport, and guys deserve to get paid when they get the chance. Maybe it's too much of me to ask, but I'd at least like the boxer to be honest about it when he's doing it.

And so it is with Haye. Either he wants to gun for the top guys in the division right away or there's some other goal he has in mind. He can't have it both ways.

I've been Haye's big defender on this blog since he originally started yapping. He's made it almost impossible to keep sticking up for him now, and time will tell if he has any intention about backing up his words with some action.

Posted by The Franchise


Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto Reach Agreement to Meet Nov. 14

Miguel Cotto has officially won the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes.

Though numerous boxers have been campaigning to take on the Filipino dynamo, the fight that promoter Bob Arum claimed he favored all along is the one that materialized. As reported by ESPN's Dan Rafael and the Associated Press earlier today, Pacquiao and Cotto will face off on November 14.

The bout will be held in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand and shown on pay-per-view by HBO. Rafael also wrote that while Pacquiao and his team tried to get the fight to happen at 143 pounds, it was eventually agreed that the two men will meet at 145 pounds.

Those two pounds don't seem like a lot, but they may have been key to making the fight come together. While Pacquiao has moved around in weight for each of his last three fights, Cotto has fought exclusively at welterweight since June 2006.

Pacquiao's only previous fight above 140 pounds came last December, when he surprisingly carried more weight into the ring than Oscar De La Hoya, who he knocked out in eight largely one-sided rounds. Cotto has never tipped the scales at less than 146 pounds in any of his eight career welterweight fights.

Arum, who promotes both men, told Rafael that tickets would go on sale for Pacquiao-Cotto in August, with a three-city press tour to promote it kicking off right after Labor Day.

Posted by The Franchise


Boxer Clothing and Gear: Super Six World Boxing Classic Edition

Since we're still a few months away from the beginning of the World Boxing Classic, there's plenty of time left to gear up in support of your favorite super middleweight. That's assuming, of course, that your favorite 168-pounder isn't Lucian Bute. But I digress.

As it turns out, there's a pretty nice selection of t-shirts, clothing and other assorted stuff out there bearing the names and likenesses of Showtime's Super Six. And it's as close as your nearest web-enabled computer, as you're about to see.

Just click on each fighter's name to be headed in the right direction. Some of this I've covered in previous posts on boxer clothing and gear, but some is new.


Mikkel Kessler - The Viking Warrior does not mess around. Kessler's fan shop has t-shirts, hats, hoodies and posters that can be purchased in four different currencies, including my favorite, the Danish krone.

If you're looking for something a little different, Kessler has serigraphs in four different colors. I has to look up the word serigraph, and I don't have an extra four or five thousand kroner on my dresser, but that's the way it goes.

Arthur Abraham - You'd better believe the former middleweight titleholder has his own onlineshop (his spelling). The site can be viewed in English, but some things get a little funky in the translation from German. Maybe not "all your base are belong to us" bad, but definitely off.

I dig the shield logo he uses on a lot of his clothing - very fitting for a fighter nicknamed King Arthur. Some of the more interesting items for sale are Arthur Abraham flip-flops and a fan club membership card that's actually a mini DVD.

Jermain Taylor - You'll notice that Jermain has no link. Once upon a time, there was a JT Store (no, not Justin Timberlake) attached to his official site. That was probably back when he was beating Bernard Hopkins and generally on top of the world.

Now his site has no link to a store and simply says you can email merchandise@jermaintaylor.com if you are interested. Demand is down, I suppose. You can still Google your way in the back door, but buyer beware.

Carl Froch - I'm not sure what happened to The Cobra's official site, because I believe he used to have one. Fortunately the folks at Red Corner Apparel has the foresight to sign Froch to a shirt deal before he knocked out Taylor. That's good timing.

Froch's shirts are currently on sale. Red Corner has also promised a new site and an expanded line of clothing soon, so that's a company worth watching.

Andre Ward - Ward signed earlier this year with Pound 4 Pound Apparel, and he's been getting an increasing number of items in his line as the year goes on. Right now there are S.O.G. tees, hoodies, warm-up jackets, beanies, and even polo shirts. Sharp!

And S.O.G. stands for Son Of God. If you don't know, now you know.

Who's that leave? Only the tournament's young wild card, Andre Dirrell. As far as I can tell, The Matrix has no official site, no clothing, no nothing. Some company get on the stick and sign this kid, because if he ends up winning the tournament, you'll be glad you were in on the ground floor.

Posted by The Franchise


One Take on Floyd Mayweather vs. Juan Manuel Marquez Going Up Against UFC 103

As a fan of both boxing and MMA, the last thing I want to do is write about the two sports competing with each other. That subject is tired and it's been tired, and the people who keep bringing it up tend to be ill-informed about one sport or the other.

Nevertheless, another round of those stories is sure to be popping up at the end of the summer. And this time there will be a (sort of) legitimate excuse for them, as the UFC officially announced yesterday that UFC 103 will be held on September 19 in Dallas, the same night that Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez are set to do battle in Las Vegas.

For an interesting take on the situation, you can check out Sherdog.com's Jake Rossen and his latest blog entry for ESPN.com. Good looking out to Tim Starks of The Queensberry Rules for tweeting that one to my attention.

There are some funny quotes in there from Dana White badmouthing the Mayweather-Marquez fight as one with no interest, and suggesting that people even told Floyd to steer clear of that weekend because of UFC. That's humorous because Dana knows his boxing, so I'm sure he realizes that the weekend closest to Mexican Independence Day traditionally has a big fight starring a boxer of Mexican heritage (usually Oscar De La Hoya in recent years), so it makes perfect sense to hold the fight on the 19th to excite JMM's fans.

It's also making me smile to think about what Money's reaction would have been had one of his advisors really gone to him about avoiding the UFC. I'm quite sure that guy would have been cursed at, smacked with a stack of $100 bills, or something to that effect.

In any case, it's a bit of instant revisionist history to think that the folks behind the rescheduled Mayweather-Marquez fight were playing some kind of game of chicken with the UFC, simply because the boxing match was officially announced first. Yes, the UFC was rumored to be running that date, and yes those rumored dates generally turn out to be correct, but it is what it is.

So while some people are sure to seize on White's comments, they need to be taken in the proper spirit. Dana is, above all else, a masterful promoter, and he understands full well that fanning the "UFC versus boxing" flames will only help drum up interest in a UFC card that currently has no main event.

That's an important fact to keep in mind if Mayweather-Marquez ends up selling more pay-per-views than UFC 103, which both Rossen and I expect it to do. The pro-boxing, anti-MMA crowd shouldn't crow too loudly about one of the biggest names in boxing garnering more buys than a show that, unless something surprising happens, will have no title matches and none of the UFC's top stars. That's not even close to comparing apples to apples.

Anecdotal evidence continues to support the idea that the crossover audience between boxing and MMA isn't as large as some members of the sports media assume it is, meaning the upcoming storm of articles about this supposed clash is probably pointless. My guess is that it wont be Mayweather's biggest PPV or the UFC's best numbers of 2009, but everyone will make enough money to come out alright.

Posted by The Franchise

Report: WBC Will Cooperate With Super Six World Boxing Classic

One of the things I wondered about when Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic was announced earlier this week was whether or not it may help push the sport's sanctioning bodies further into irrelevancy.

By that I mean that many fans will recognize the winner of the tournament as the world champion at 168 pounds. That'll be true no matter what happens to the various alphabet belts in the meantime and despite the fact that several other worthy super middleweights (Lucian Bute for sure, possibly Allan Green and Sakio Bika) are not participating.

With that in mind, it's interesting to see that one sanctioning body with something at stake - the WBC, since Carl Froch is its 168-pound titleholder - is going to play ball with the Classic. In his blog entry yesterday, ESPN's Dan Rafael reported that the WBC has given its support to the tournament, meaning they probably won't shaft Froch (or anyone who might beat him) with any silly mandatory defenses while the event is going on.

Rafael correctly points out that the WBC is likely doing so out of its own financial self interest and that it's not hard to take that stance right now because its top three contenders for Froch's belt (Andre Ward, Andre Dirrell and Jermain Taylor, in that order) are also in the Super Six. It's easy to do the popular thing when it's also what's best for you.

The true test will be after the first round of fights. I don't pretend to know exactly how the WBC board figures out its ratings, but if, say, Dirrell beats Froch and Ward beats Arthur Abraham, that would likely mean that the WBC would want the former Olympic teammates to fight each other next.

Or if all three Americans lose their first fights (which is certainly possible), that could make someone like Karo Murat or Green the No. 1 contender. Would the WBC continue to defer to the tournament or would it try to exert some influence on the proceedings? I suppose it could always hand out the ever popular interim belt, which is currently vacant at 168.

It will also be worth keeping an eye on the IBF, who apparently is making Mikkel Kessler fight a crappy mandatory before he even starts his tournament run, and the power behind the sport's most respected set of rankings, The Ring. The magazine's super middleweight championship is currently vacant, and without its No. 2 man Bute involved, it may stay that way throughout.

Posted by The Franchise


Franchise Thoughts: Remembering Thunder Gatti, Anticipating the World Boxing Classic

I was getting ready to do the round by round for the Joseph Agbeko-Vic Darchinyan fight Saturday when I got the text message from Uatu telling me that Arturo Gatti was dead. Details were scarce in the first few hours, but my first reaction was one of disbelief.

He was, after all, just a few days past his 37th birthday. He'd been in the ring as recently as two summers ago, though that TKO loss to Alfonso Gomez is not the way his fans would probably prefer to remember him.

The story of his untimely demise continues to unfold, and it appears Gatti was the victim of foul play, perhaps by his own wife. That's a pretty raw deal for someone who was such a courageous fighter once he stepped inside the ropes.

Gatti will hold a special place in my heart for two reasons. First, his trilogy with Micky Ward that really put him on the map coincided with the beginning of my time as a serious boxing fan. The sport sold itself with fights like those.

Also, I was fortunate enough to see Gatti fight in person at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City several times, and the reaction he got from those crowds was something to see. It's kind of strange to think that a Canadian who was born in Italy would be adopted so completely by the Jersey fans, yet that's exactly what happened.

There's probably a lesson to be learned there for younger fighters still coming up. In terms of boxing skill, Gatti was never one of the best in the world - he was taken apart pretty easily by Oscar De La Hoya and given a merciless beating by Floyd Mayweather - but the heart he displayed was more important to his followers.

Fighting a crowd-pleasing style and laying it all on the line may not always be the best way to win any given fight, and it certainly puts you at risk of physical damage and a shortened career. Gatti showed, though, that it does go a long way toward winning people over, and that certainly counts for something.

HBO is replaying the Ward trilogy in its entirety Friday night on HBO2 and Saturday morning on HBO. I plan on catching at least one of those showings as my own small personal tribute.

R.I.P. Thunder. You certainly did more than enough in the ring to earn it.

In happier but no less stunning news, the six-man super middleweight tournament dreamed up on Showtime was made official yesterday. I felt a little sheepish thinking it could actually come together last week, but that feeling is quickly turning to excitement.

It's not hyperbole to say that this is the most welcome change in the way things usually proceed in boxing in decades. It took a lot of creativity and guts on Showtime's part to even suggest it, a lot of vision on the part of the fighters to agree to it and a surprising amount of cooperation from five different promoters to make it a reality.

Assuming the proper amount of push from the network, there's every reason to think that the winner and perhaps the other finalist will become big stars even in the eyes of casual fans. That outweighs the risk of, say, going 0-3, but as we've discussed internally, at least the losers of early fights are still guaranteed two more big ones, and that rarely happens.

Things could still unravel - this is still boxing - but I'm going to assume that at least the first set of fights will go as planned and give my very early thoughts on the U.S. versus Europe portion of the round robin:
  • Carl Froch vs. Andre Dirrell - I think it's likely that Dirrell has the most God-given talent of anyone in the tournament. The question is whether he's ready for a challenge like this, and Gary Shaw is rightfully a little concerned about fighting Froch on his home turf too. My gut says Dirrell will pull it off, giving him a ton of confidence going forward.
  • Arthur Abraham vs. Jermain Taylor - It's a shame for Taylor, who I really like, because I think this style match-up is a bad one for him. Bad Intentions has shown an undeniable habit of fading late, while Abraham starts slowly and turns it on as he goes. Unless Jermain gets to him early or he's just outmuscled at 168, I think King Arthur stays undefeated.
  • Mikkel Kessler vs. Andre Ward - To me, this is the toughest call. Ward seems like he has everything except for top level power, and Kessler really impressed me in the only fight of his that I've seen (his loss to Joe Calzaghe). I favor Kessler right now but could see myself flip-flopping several times before November.

Those are three tasty fights, with the promise of nine more to go. I say bring on October.

Posted by The Franchise


Showtime's Super Middleweight Tournament Made Official as World Boxing Classic

An announcement that many boxing fans were hoping for but not many thought would actually happen was made today in New York.

Somehow, some way, Showtime got six of the world's top super middleweights - overseen by five different promoters - to agree to take part in a round robin tournament, dubbed the World Boxing Classic, that will begin this October and run through the first part of 2011. As widely rumored ahead of time, the participants will be WBC titleholder Carl Froch, WBA titleholder Mikkel Kessler, former middleweight champs Jermain Taylor and Arthur Abraham and undefeated young Americans Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell.

According to today's press release, Froch and Kessler's belts will be on the line during their first tournament matches. It had previously been reported that any mandatory defenses dreamed up by the sport's sanctioning bodies would not interfere with the tournament, and Abraham has already relinquished his IBF middleweight belt in order to take part.

Each man is guaranteed three fights in the round robin portion, with two points given for a win (and a one-point bonus for a knockout), one for a draw and none for a loss. The boxers with the most points after three bouts will move on to the semifinals, with the winners facing each other to decide the whole thing.

Noticeably absent from the tournament field is IBF 168-pound titleholder Lucian Bute. Early reports had him turning down a spot in the tourney, but his representatives told ESPN's Dan Rafael last week that he was never invited.

Of the six men who will be competing, only two have faced each other before. That happened this past April, when Froch scored a memorable 12th-round KO of Taylor in a fight he was losing on two of the three official cards.

Though the complete schedule for the first round of the World Boxing Classic hasn't been made public yet, it's set to get underway on October 10 with a split-site doubleheader. Abraham will take on Taylor in Germany, while Froch will face Dirrell in the U.K.

Posted by The Franchise


Joseph Agbeko vs. Vic Darchinyan: Round By Round

After some slight controversy in the co-feature, we're almost ready for tonight's main event on Showtime. Vic Darchinyan moves up a few pounds to bantamweight to take on IBF titleholder Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko.

Jim Gray spoke to Vic earlier and got his opinion about Agbeko talking trash before the belt, something the Raging Bull knows all about. Darchinyan also took exception to Agbeko's antics at the final press conference. He gives a few funny lines about how he always has to hate his opponent while they are in the ring in order to do his job properly.

A video package gives some background on Agbeko, who hails from Ghana but resides in the Bronx. He also was interviewed by Gray and showed a lot of confidence. Agbeko talks about how Darchinyan is a bit of a bully and also speaks about President Obama's visit to Ghana.

Jenn Brown talks about upcoming Showtime programming, mentioning some boxing but focusing on the Carano-Cyborg MMA fight on August 15.

Nate Campbell is on hand to talk to Brown, and he's looking sharp. Campbell doesn't think he needs any redemption, but he's looking forward to not having to cut as much weight since he's 37. He's not worried about the hostile environment fighting Timothy Bradley in California.

Jim Gray talks to Don King about the passing of Michael Jackson. Al Bernstein joins in to discuss the passing of both Alexis Arguello and Arturo Gatti. Jimmy Lennon Jr. introduces a tribute to all three men, with the bell ringing ten times.

Gus Johnson and Bernstein do some promotion for the super middleweight tournament that will be announced on Monday. I still can't believe it's going to happen, but I can't wait.

Bernstein thinks the combined KO percentages of tonight's fighters plus some defensive liabilities for both of them will equal a shootout.

As the challenger, Darchinyan comes to the ring first. He is 32-1 with 26 KOs and is looking for a title in his third weight class. Johnson and Bernstein discuss how he's already thinking about going to 122 if he wins tonight.

Agbeko comes out next, wearing one shiny glove over his boxing glove in an apparent MJ tribute. King Kong is 26-1 with 22 KOs and has never been knocked out.

The tale of the tape shows that both men are basically the same size. Vic actually weighed in a little heavier even though he is the one moving up in weight.

Lennon does the introductions for both men and we are set. It's 12 rounds or less for Agbeko's IBF bantamweight title.

Round 1

Vic wastes no time flying across the ring. Both men showing good early movement. Nice right by Agbeko. Vic pushes him back and closes in. Left by Vic and Agbeko fires right back with a hook. Short punches inside by Vic. A series of left hands connect by Vic, but a right by Agbeko buckles Darchinyan. He fires back with a left. Both men go toe to toe in the closing seconds of the frame.

Franchise: 10-9 Agbeko

Round 2

Vic flicks out the left as he studies Agbeko. The champ keeps his hands up. Right hook by Agbeko starts off a fairly exchange. Not very pretty right now with each guy jumping in. Vic is a little more cautious as he watches out for rights by Agbeko. They trade shots along the ropes and may have butted heads right before the bell as well.

Franchise: 10-9 Darchinyan

Round 3

Darchinyan has a bit of a cut over his left eye. Agbeko jumps in with a right. He goes down to a knee but it's a slip.Another short right connects for the champ. Vic is jabbing but coming up short more often then not. Rights are still scoring for King Kong. Vic chases and tries to land the left. Plenty of wild swings and misses both ways. A brawl breaks out late with no clear advantage.

Franchise: 10-9 Agbeko

Round 4

Agbeko goes to his right hand again. Here comes Vic with a wild left. King Kong's lead right is the dominant punch so far. Clubbing left hook by Agbeko in the center of the ring. Vic still swinging with the left but he can't find the range often enough. More rights from Agbeko and he backs out when necessary. Darchinyan lands some lefts before the bell, but not enough to take that round.

Franchise: 10-9 Agbeko

Round 5

Vic wants to turn it into a brawl but Agbeko is only obliging him on occasion. Right hands to the head and body by the champ. Short one-two by Agbeko and a hook back by Vic. Darchinyan misses two big lefts coming forward. Body work by Agbeko has to be taking a toll too. Nothing doing for Vic in the last ten seconds.

Franchise: 10-9 Agbeko

Round 6

Agbeko still chopping with the right and getting a left hook in there too. Vic reduced to hunting for the home run shot. Now Vic tries some jabs but can't land them. Agbeko has just enough movement to get out of trouble. Another body shot by King Kong and the ref has to tell them to watch the holding and hitting.

Franchise: 10-9 Agbeko

Round 7

Press row has it closer than I do and Jake Donovan has it even. Left to the body by Agbeko. He tries more shots but misses. Straight left by Vic. He's dodging more punches now with his own movement. Right hook in close by Darchinyan. Blood is coming from the cut by Vic's eye now. Quick left by Darchinyan as they feint. Agbeko gets hit with something and Agbeko goes to a knee. The ref calls it a knockdown and administers a count to a standing Agbeko.

Franchise: 10-8 Darchinyan

Round 8

Interesting sequence as replay showed Agbeko did get hit but also got shoved. Clubbing left by Vic. He's scoring a little better now but Agbeko's rights are also landing. Darchinyan tries hooks with both hands. Agbeko smashes home two rights and a left hook and Vic stumbles a bit. Both men score in the center of the ring. Right to the body by Vic is low, and the ref gives Agbeko time to recover. Wild brawling both ways right to the bell.

Franchise: 10-9 Agbeko

Round 9

This isn't one for the purists with heads, elbows and forearms all coming into play. Vic eats a right and comes right back with the left. Bullseye with the left by Darchinyan. Agbeko goes to the body and tries the right again. Darchinyan scores with a left hook coming forward. He steps into a left to the body. Vic knocks Agbeko back as they trade.

Franchise: 10-9 Darchinyan

Round 10

Right hook by Vic opens the scoring. He smacks Agbeko with a right hook in the middle of an exchange. Both men land lefts and Vic ducks out. Left hook by Agbeko even as he's off balance. Blood coming from the right eye of Darchinyan as he got smoked by a left hook. Vic shoves Agbeko down and the crowd boos. More holding and roughing. Both men swinging away and each man absorbs some punishment. Tough round to score.

Franchise: 10-9 Agbeko

Round 11

The ref says Vic's new cut was caused by a headbutt. Vic shoves Agbeko again, and he looks like he may have been acting a bit as he goes down. Darchinyan not getting cheated with his left hands. Agbeko fights back with straight rights. They trade and then hold in the center. A series of short rights land from the champ.Left by Vic and he backs away. Jabs by Vic as he tries to get his left hand free. Lots of holding and the fans don't like it.

Franchise: 10-9 Agbeko

Round 12

The official scoring of this fight should be very interesting. It's possible it's up for grabs in the final round. Nice right by Agbeko. The ref has to step in and warns about headbutting. Another right by King Kong as Vic swings wildly. Left hook by Agbeko. Right-left by the champ and more wrestling. Darchinyan tries a flurry and Agbeko slips down. Short left by Vic with 40 seconds to go. Fists and heads are flying. Darchinyan tries for some late heroics, but we'll go to the cards.

Franchise: 10-9 Agbeko

Franchise: 116-111 Agbeko

The judges score it 116-111 and 114-113 twice, all for the winner... and still IBF bantamweight titleholder... Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko.

Posted by The Franchise

Antonio DeMarco vs. Anges Adjaho: Round By Round

Before the action gets started tonight on Showtime Championship Boxing, I'd like to say R.I.P. to Arturo "Thunder" Gatti, found dead this morning on his second honeymoon.

Now to Florida, where the main event will feature Vic Darchinyan moving up in weight to take on IBF bantamweight titleholder Joseph Agbeko. That should be a good one.

Gus Johnson and Al Bernstein are on hand to discuss the main event. First up, though, is a lightweight title eliminator between Antonio DeMarco and Anges Adjaho. The winner of this one will take on Edwin Valero for his WBC belt.

The tale of the tape shows both men the same height and roughly equal in other areas. Adjaho is almost a decade older at 32 years to DeMarco's 23.

Adjaho is 25-1 with 14 KOs, and his most recent win against Fernando Angulo was probably his most impressive. DeMarco is 21-1 with 15 KOs.

Jimmy Lennon Jr. handles the introductions and we are ready for a scheduled 12 rounds of boxing.

Round 1

The announcers discuss how Adjaho is somewhat of an unknown quantity. DeMarco gets to him early with some jabs. The crowd gets a little restless right away due to a lack of action. Adjaho reaches with a few short punches. No one really doing anything in the middle of the round. Adjaho gets in with a quick three-punch flurry; DeMarco lands a straight left in response. Anges ducks out of the way for a second. A straight left buckles Adjaho right before the bell, and he looked a little wobbly.

Franchise: 10-9 DeMarco

Round 2

DeMarco shows quick hands as he bides his time. Adjaho lands a nice shot coming in. He sneaks in another right hand as a counter. Another nice right as he reaches. DeMarco just misses with a left. Bernstein thinks Antonio may be having trouble with Adjaho's height and reach. Adjaho jabs repeatedly. Left-hand counter as DeMarco tries to come in. Left to the body late by DeMarco.

Franchise: 10-9 Adjaho

Round 3

Johnson mentions that DeMarco often starts slow, and he eats a right from Adjaho. They start to exchange and Anges lands more punches. The range is closer now. Straight left upstairs by DeMarco, who responds with more stiff jabs. Adjaho just glances a big right hand as they both throw simultaneously. Right to the body by Adjaho. DeMarco still can't figure out a way to get off consistently.

Franchise: 10-9 Adjaho

Round 4

Adjaho lands a few counter hooks in close. His jab is scoring with great consistency. More jabs keep DeMarco at bay. Now Adjaho gets a bit careless and DeMarco lands two left hands. Another left hands and Adjaho has to cover up along the ropes. They clash heads and slap gloves afterwards. Left to the body by DeMarco, then an uppercut. One final left punctuates a much sharper round for DeMarco.

Franchise: 10-9 DeMarco

Round 5

Nothing of importance lands in the first 30 seconds. DeMarco glances a right hook off Adjaho's head. Adjaho keeps lunging with right hands and is just missing. DeMarco backs up his foe and clobbers him with right hooks in the corner. Adjaho gets things back out into the center and scores with his own right hooks. Straight right by Adjaho. Quick one-two and another right by Adjaho. Interesting and close round.

Franchise: 10-9 Adjaho

Round 6

Adjaho's corner is giving him great advice, telling him to keep the action in the middle of the ring. Cautious start to this round. Counter left by Adjaho. Two-punch combo upstairs as well. Adjaho ties up as DeMarco comes bounding in. Double right hand by Adjaho, and they trade shots inside. DeMarco lands a mean left and misses some wild rights. DeMarco connects with another big left and pours it on as Adjaho looks stunned. DeMarco stumbles to the mat as he tries to get to Adjaho.

Franchise: 10-9 DeMarco

Round 7

Adjaho has to watch out for counter lefts. Now he whips out some counters with both hands. DeMarco comes forward and Adjaho has to tie up. Straight left by DeMarco. He stalks but can't unload. Adjaho fighting very defensively as he scores with a left hook. Two lefts by DeMarco in the closing seconds.

Franchise: 10-9 DeMarco

Round 8

Both men jabbing, but a firefight quickly breaks out. Adjaho gets the better of it with jabs and straight rights. DeMarco looked hurt but he fights his way out with straight lefts. Great action for about 20 seconds there. Adjaho looks a little wobbly again. Left to the body by DeMarco. Adjaho gets his legs back and returns to his jab. Big left by DeMarco answered by a right uppercut by Adjaho. They stumble out of the corner as the round closes.

Franchise: 10-9 DeMarco

Round 9

We'll see what happens as both men were in trouble last round. Press row disagrees with me as the scoring is all in favor of Adjaho. Both men reaching. Nice right hook by DeMarco in the corner. Adjaho shoves Antonio off as he comes in again. Adjaho triples the jab and eats return fire. Adjaho snaps off the right and more jabs. Double right by Adjaho. DeMarco hurts him and Adjaho takes a knee. He won't answer the count and the ref says it's over. Adjaho protests a bit but I'm not sure why as it looked like Adjaho voluntarily went to the mat.

Replay showed a left hand hurt Adjaho along the ropes and he went down to the mat on purpose. It looked like a right may have hit him while he was down, and maybe Adjaho thought he was going to get help from the referee.

The winner by KO at 2:59 of Round 9, Antonio DeMarco.

Showtime does ask the ref about the end of the fight. He says Adjaho got hurt by a legal punch and went down on his own, and he did not think Adjaho's knee was on the ground when the right from DeMarco grazed his head. A replay is shown and the ref looks like he made the right call.

Posted by The Franchise

Vic Darchinyan vs. Joseph Agbeko Live Round By Round Updates Tonight

The eyes of most combat sports fans will be on Las Vegas tonight for UFC 100. But darn it, someone has to hold it down for boxing, and Showtime is obliging with a promising card from Sunrise, Florida.

The Raging Bull, Vic Darchinyan, moves up one weight class for his attempt to snatch the IBF bantamweight belt away from Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko. Also on tap is Antonio DeMarco in a lightweight fight.

So go ahead and enjoy UFC if you must, and we'll help you keep track of the boxing match with live round by round updates. Look for new posts out on the main page and refresh regularly for the latest.

The action begins shortly after 9 pm Eastern time tonight.

Posted by The Franchise


Vic Darchinyan vs. Joseph Agbeko: Predictions

The Franchise says...

Vic Darchinyan has always been a hard-nosed competitor who's been fun to watch both in and out of th ring. But ever since an eight-month stretch that started in July 2007 with his first loss (at the hands of Nonito Donaire) and ending with a lackluster draw to Z Gorres in February 2008, it's like the proverbial light bulb went on for the Raging Bull.

He's shown improved boxing skills to go with his power. He's shown a lot more defensive awareness and ability to control the ring. He's just looked, well, better, and he's stayed as quotable as ever at the same time.

He'll move up in weight this Saturday to take on Joseph "King Kong" Agebeko, a rugged customer with a great chin and plenty of power of his own. He's not one to do much jabbing or setting up shots, preferring to let his straight rights and left hooks speak for themselves.

With that in mind, you can't help but think that this fight will be as hard as Darchinyan makes it. If he goes into it thinking he'll blast Agbeko out early, he may get a little more coming back his way than he'll enjoy.

If Vic takes his time a little bit and allows his superior boxing skills and what I expect will be faster hands to be the difference, I think he'll end up wearing Agbeko out. I'll show some faith in Vic to do just that, and though King Kong has never been knocked out, I feel accumulated damage will allow Darchinyan to emerge with a late-round KO.

Posted by The Franchise


Fight Night Round 4: Review

Fight Night Round 4 has finally hit shelves all around the world. After months of waiting and completely wearing out the three-round demo, Spartan117 got a copy and put in the work to go from (virtual) chump to champ.

For those of you who are waiting to see how the game is before buying a copy, I'll fill you in on the much anticipated "Legacy Mode" and online play. For the basic mechanics, please see my review of the demo.

In FNR4's "Legacy Mode," you take your boxer from the amateur circuit to the major venues like the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, and a generic version of Madison Square Garden called the New York Arena.

When starting a new career in Legacy Mode, you can choose an existing boxer on the roster or you can create your own boxer to climb the ranks. I chose the latter. Whether you choose a real boxer from the lineup or a newly created one, you start with same stats. You start fairly slow and weak, which forces you to put your time in the gym to boost your stats.

When creating a new character, the customization options are plentiful. You can choose gear from brands such as Grant, Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Everlast and Rival. Even after you choose a style, you can change every color on the gloves, shoes, trunks, mouthguard, socks, and even your robe, plus you can change the material of your gear. This makes your man more of an individual when you make the turn to online play.

Your first event is an amateur tournament. You strap on the headgear and face other boxing hopefuls. This makes for a great tutorial for your career, but it's almost too easy compared to the battles that follow. After the tournament, you make the jump to professional boxer whether you win or lose.

The success of your professional career is measured by multiple criteria:

1. Your record
2. How many championships you've held
3. Whether or not you've moved up in weight
4. Popularity, based on your percentage of knockouts
5. Major televised fights you've won

There is also a nice pound for pound list that you can climb by winning as well.

You start out fighting mostly jobbers. These guys won't give you too much trouble, but they do make for good stepping stones. Between each fight you view your fight calender. You are required to rest and heal for at least a month after a fight. Depending on how long in advance you schedule your next bout you can fit in one to three training sessions. Judging from the training sessions from the first three Fight Nights, I assumed that one session would be enough to move it. It was for about the first two years of my career. Then I was in for the brutal realization that I had to put the work in the gym to move up through the big named fighters.

FNR4 does a good job of making sure you can't move up in rank too quickly. I tried to jump five ranks to face Sergio Mora. I'll admit I thought my fighter may not be ready for the challenge, but I tried to put him to the test anyway. Mora served me up a whooping and I was sent back down the ranks. So the key is patience and making sure you get as much training in as possible.

As you move up in the top 10 of the weight division, you may get challenged by the champions. This is a nice feature but the challenges don't always make sense. For example, Winky Wright was the champion at the time, and he challenged me saying that he thought "it would be a good fight for the fans." I faced Winky earlier in my career and got destroyed. I guess he forgot about that victory.

After building your fighter up to the elite level, you can win three titles in your weight division. After that, you can stay on top of your weight class or you get the option to move up in weight. If you make the jump up, you start in the top 10 of the division. You do need to win a handful of fights before you get a title shot.

Another minor gripe I have is after you spend enough time in your career, your boxer can actually become too strong. I've spent a good 15 years moving my character along and now he can easily run through anyone who challenges.

A second issue I have is with the yearly boxing awards. After each calender year of Legacy Mode, the game gives out awards to best fighter, best fight, best round, best comeback, best knockout, best defensive fighter, and best prospect. I won a handful of awards early on but now I fail to bring in any. I'm number one PFP, have six belts in two divisions, and take out my opponents in 1 or 2 rounds. How does that not get me the fighter of the year award?

These are very minor complaints in the grand scheme of Fight Night's Legacy Mode. It really does make for a great overall experience.

Online mode is also a lot of fun. With a broadband connection, the action is completely flawless. I've played about 20 online matches and I haven't seen one glitch, hiccup or lag in the middle of the action.

In order to play online and vie for the online title, you have to create a fighter. In the online community, there are lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight divisions with one title belt in each. There are thousands of people in each weight class, so to become the champion you really need to earn it.

To even the playing field, all of the fighters are given the same attributes. I'll warn you, make sure you practice and know your strengths and weaknesses before you jump into online play. There are some serious contenders out there that show no mercy.

I also want to add that Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas did a fantastic job recording the commentary for this game. Of course you'll get a few repeated lines after a while, but what is shocking is how realistic the commentary sounds. It sounds like they had a lot of fun with it.

Overall, Fight Night Round 4 is the best boxing experience you can have on the next generation consoles. It has great replay value and is a fun experience without sacrificing the realism of the sport. EA has acheived near perfection and they are taking the franchise in the right direction.

If you have yourself a copy and want to fight it out online, shoot me a friend request. My Xbox Live gamertag is "p lov 3".

Posted by spartan117


20/20 Hindsight: Showtime's Proposed Super Middleweight Tournament... and Why It Might Actually Work

There weren't any major fights to look back on during this July 4th weekend (sorry Eddie Chambers!), so instead, I'm going to focus on some news that first hit over the last few days. Close your eyes for a second and imagine that two current super middleweight titleholders, two rising American stars, a former middleweight champion and an undefeated middleweight titlist moving up in weight all agreed to compete in a six-man, round robin tournament.

Sounds great but crazy, right? After all, this is boxing, where even obvious match-ups have a hard time coming together for various reasons.

But it might not be as far-fetched as it seems. As reported by various sites, but most prominently by ESPN's Dan Rafael, Showtime is attempting to assemble a tournament featuring Mikkel Kessler, Carl Froch, Andre Ward, Andre Dirrell, Jermain Taylor and Arthur Abraham.

You really need to read the whole piece to appreciate the ambition involved, but to summarize the details, each man would fight three others in the field with two points awarded for a win (plus one for a KO), one for a draw and none for a loss. The top four in points after the preliminaries would advance to the semifinals, with the winners facing each other after that to decide the whole thing.

The very tentative plan for the first round would be:

Oct. 10: Froch vs. Dirrell and Abraham vs. Taylor
Nov. 7: Kessler vs. Ward
Jan. 30, 2010: Abraham vs. Dirrell
March 2010: Froch vs. Kessler
April or May 2010: Ward vs. Taylor
July or August 2010: Ward vs. Dirrell and Froch vs. Abraham
September 2010: Kessler vs. Taylor

In a word, wow. It would be hard to believe any boxing fan wouldn't be excited by this idea: a series of good fights in a division stocked with talented fighters.

So many questions would be answered by this tournament. Is Froch for real? Does Taylor have anything left in the tank? Can Abraham continue his winning ways at 168? Are the two Andre's ready for the big time? And that's just a few off the top of my head.

At the same time, it's even easier to see why it's not wise to get your hopes up for Showtime actually pulling this off. Too many competing interests, too many egos to be stroked, too much perceived risk (it's very possible to come out 0-3) and just too many questions, even if Rafael says there are contingencies for everything.

Until an official announcement is made that the tournament is on or credible boxing scribes write that it's dead, the case against it will be argued all over the internet. As an optimist by nature, I'm going to take a shot at arguing why the crazy thing might happen.

1. None of the participants are superstars.

Yes, it's a talented field, and everyone but Ward and Dirrell has held an alphabet belt. All of the fighters are known quantities who have been on the big American cable outlets.

Still, no one in the proposed tourney has huge name recognition among mainstream sports fans - the kind of pull that would generate eight-digit paydays. Taylor is probably the closest to being a household name in the U.S., but his star has faded after three losses in his last four fights.

The Europeans are all looking to raise their profiles on this side of the Atlantic, and Ward and Dirrell could use the step up in competition. Even with the knowledge that no bouts in this event would be easy, there's reason to think all of these guys could see the upside in it.

There's no way a Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather would agree to something like this, because the risk doesn't justify the possible rewards. But for a group of boxers a notch or two below elite status, it just might.

2. Golden Boy and Top Rank are not involved.

This is not a slam against either organization. They are the two biggest powers in the sport right now, and they even play nice with each other when there's incentive to do so.

It's just hard to imagine either Golden Boy or Top Rank would agree to let one of their fighters participate in a tournament like this one. They wouldn't feel comfortable with the uncertainty involved, and they'd likely want more say in the format.

On top of that (as Rafael points out), Golden Boy and HBO are almost like peanut butter and jelly at this point, and this is Showtime's baby.

It's not going to be easy to get a half-dozen promoters to agree on anything, let alone something as complicated as a round robin tournament. Yet it's still going to be easier to sell them without the two gorillas in the room.

3. The proposed fights have strong regional appeal.

Some of the match-ups wouldn't sell out venues in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Showtime seems to be aware of this and has thoughts of staging the fights where they make the most sense.

Froch-Kessler and Froch-Abraham will draw big crowds in Europe. Ward can certainly bring fans out in California, and Taylor should still be an attraction in the South or Midwest.

A few of the prelims look shakier than others (think Abraham-Dirrell, especially if either or both lose their first fights), but by and large, the round robin fights have strong regional appeal. Put them in the right places, as Showtime appears willing to do, and the ticket sales should be acceptable for all parties involved.

4. Showtime can afford to think outside the box and has a history with these fighters.

HBO tends to market everything, even fights that don't necessarily warrant it, as its own event. That formula has allowed it to become the industry leader, and there's really no incentive for it to commit to anything like this.

As the network doing the chasing, Showtime can roll the dice to try to bridge the gap. It's quite the coup if the tournament comes off, as the cable channel would have compelling fights to broadcast from this fall through the first part of 2011.

Showtime has also invested time and money in this particular group of fighters (and the 168-pound division in general), with all but Kessler making appearances over the last two years. If there's a big promotional blitz, as Rafael suggests is in the works, there's no one better equipped to hype the participants, show highlights, etc.

The fighters and their teams surely know this too. That previous investment could pay off handsomely by giving Showtime the extra bit of persuasion necessary to get the participants they want to sign up.

There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical that the tournament will become a reality. Boxing is the sport where great ideas wither on the vine far too often, as anyone who's followed it for any length of time can attest.

It's a long shot, but there are just enough factors in play to make this concept the exception. As boxing fans, we just have to cross our fingers and hope that a plan this promising pans out.

Posted by The Franchise


Franchise Thoughts: The Best American Boxers Today

To all of our U.S. readers, a very happy Independence Day. This year's July 4th weekend leaves us without any major boxing action to speak of, but we hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday nonetheless.

It seems only natural to use some of my space today to examine the strength of American pro boxers as a group. While the death of boxing in the U.S. has been exaggerated (ad nauseam) by a number of sources, any rational fan would agree that the sport has fallen a long way from its peak domestic popularity during the 20th Century.

Still, the biggest bouts are still held primarily in the U.S., and American-born fighters continue to have a significant presence among the top levels of most divisions. Who are the best? Glad you asked, because I'm going to lay them out as I see them.

Two notes before I start. First, even though weight classes are becoming less important for purposes of making good fights, they're still useful for the sake of organizing fighters. For simplicity's sake, I'm placing each guy in the division in which he's ranked on BoxRec.com.

Also, I know that people born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens. But Puerto Rican fighters and fans tend to identify along ethnic lines, so I'm not including them with boxers born in the States. Obviously, adding the likes of Miguel Cotto and Juan Manuel Lopez would bolster America's ranks significantly.

Starting with the big guys and working down...

Heavyweight - Top American: Chris Arreola - This was a tough call, because the crop of U.S. heavyweights is both aging and, well, not very good as a whole.

It remains to be seen if Arreola has the stamina and defensive skills to truly compete with the Klitschko brothers and other top big men, but he certainly can bring it and he's yet to taste defeat. Plus his career is still on the rise and he's on the right side of 35, which is more than can be said of John Ruiz, Lamon Brewster and Hasim Rahman.

A bit of love also goes out to Eddie Chambers, who's also under 30, has lost just once and is actually fighting tonight in Germany.

Cruiserweight - Top American: Steve Cunningham - The cupboard is also pretty bare for American cruisers too, but Cunningham gets the nod as a former titlist who gave a pretty fair account of himself against the division's current top dog, Tomasz Adamek.

It's tempting to tout BJ Flores as a future hope in this weight class, but he's too old to be a prospect and hasn't exactly pushed himself to find the best fights. I like his announcing work though.

Light heavyweight - Top American: Bernard Hopkins - Until he officially retires, The Executioner remains one of the top U.S. boxers at any weight. His accomplishments speak for themselves, and he's still formidable at age 44.

Since B-Hop floats around in weight to fight so often, the real American champ at 175 could be Chad Dawson, depending on how he fares in his rematch with Glen Johnson. Big names Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio Tarver are still holding on, but just barely.

Super middleweight - Top American: Andre Ward - This was my first difficult decision, as Ward has yet to really cement himself as a top contender. He certainly looks to have all the tools necessary for future success.

If Ward is No. 1, then Andre Dirrell is 1A, and he also could very easily be a star in the making. BoxRec ranks Jermain Taylor ahead of both Andre's, but he's lost three of his last four and is just 1-1 at 168.

So there's hope for Americans in this division, but for right now the top guys (like Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler) clearly reside overseas.

Middleweight - Top American: Kelly Pavlik - This was one of the easiest calls, as the Pride of Youngstown has settled in as middleweight champ. He did get schooled by Hopkins, but that was a few pounds north of here.

BoxRec rates Daniel Jacobs in this division even though he's fought above 160 for most of his fights, so I'll go ahead and say he's the future for the U.S. if he actually can make middleweight. Other than The Ghost and the Golden Child, there's not much else near the top.

Super welterweight - Top American: Paul Williams: The Punisher exemplifies today's trend of floating around between weights, and he's made it very clear he'll fight anyone between 147 and 160. BoxRec places him here and so will I. He's one of the best boxers in the world and easily takes the top spot with his work rate, height and underrated power.

The U.S. is fairly deep at 154 aside from Williams. Vernon Forrest and Cory Spinks have been around for a while but don't look finished yet. And the beginning of the next decade looks promising thanks to James Kirkland (assuming he gets himself straightened out) and Deandre Latimore.

Welterweight - Top American: Shane Mosley - It's pretty much a two-man show at 147, but it's a good two. Sugar Shane showed he still has plenty left in the tank by beating down Antonio Margarito, even if that hasn't resulted in the big paydays he's been seeking.

The other half of the duo is Andre Berto, who has his doubters but just keeps winning. He's young enough to force bigger names to fight him in the next few years if he keeps it up.

Super lightweight - Top American: Timothy Bradley - Though he's kind of an unlikely champion, Bradley has a title and an undefeated record for now. It's tough to say if he's really great at any one aspect of the game, but he's solid in everything.

I almost gave the nod to Nate Campbell here but decided to wait until he actually had a fight under his belt at 140. It's against Bradley, by the way.

The U.S. is loaded in young talent here too, as Devon Alexander, Victor Ortiz (yes, despite his recent loss) and Lamont Peterson are all 25 and under.

Lightweight - Top American: Juan Diaz - The Baby Bull wins this almost by default as others have moved out of this weight class. Despite some rough outings over the past few years, I'd still watch him fight any time, and that counts for something.

Memphis' Anthony Peterson is the one to watch as we roll into and past 2010.

Super featherweight - Top American: Robert Guerrero - The pickings are slim for U.S. fighters at 130, and the "other" Ghost's last fight was at lightweight. His upcoming August bout with Malcolm Klassen is for a super featherweight title though, so he counts here.

Featherweight - Top American: Steven Luevano: This was a tough call. I went with Luevano for his excellent record against some pretty good opponents, but we'll see what he's made of when he fights Bernabe Concepcion in August.

The coin flip loser was Rocky Juarez. I think Rocky is talented, but he's come up short in his biggest fights and was fortunate to earn a draw against Chris John last time out.

Below featherweight - Top American: Brian Viloria: If the U.S. isn't cranking out too many excellent big men, it really isn't developing many top contenders at the lower weight classes. The weight classes below featherweight are almost completely devoid of top talent.

You have to go all the way down to light flyweight to find a notable exception. Hawaiian Punch has been rolling since a 2007 loss to Edgar Sosa, and he gets bonus points for being a frequent and often insightful Twitterer.

Posted by The Franchise


Manny Pacquiao Cashes In Big Time

Cnnsi.com has just released their "Fortunate 50" list of highest paid athletes in the US as well as the top 20 internationally. The only boxer to make the list was the Pac Man, coming in at third place internationally raking in $40,000,000.

David Beckham was #1 at $45,200,000 internationally and Tiger Woods was tops in the U.S. with an insane $99,737,626.

Posted by uatu


BoxingWatchers.com: Boxer Power Rankings - July 2009

As we move into a bit of a summer lull in an entertaining year in boxing, it's time for the July power rankings. There was some shuffling around since last month, but since it was mainly among guys already in the top six, it's pretty much a case of the rich getting richer.

If this is your first time reading this, you are about to experience something so cold, man. Er... I mean, if you aren't familiar with how we do these, here's a quick primer. The lesson, as always, is that these aren't pound-for-pound rankings.

Without further ado...

1. Arthur Abraham - 24.53 - Arthur remains king of our rankings after taking care of Mahir Oral. He said all the right things after the fight about taking on Kelly Pavlik or moving up for a real challenge at super middleweight.

2. Juan Manuel Lopez - 22.59 - JuanMa added another KO to his growing total last month. Right now his biggest problem seems to be finding a real challenge.

3. Wladimir Klitschko - 21.02 - Dr. Steelhammer had little trouble with Ruslan Chagaev and has now KOed seven of his last eight opponents. I'd still be interested in seeing him fight David Haye.

4. Celestino Caballero - 20.38 - The Panamanian should be back in action in the fall, but a date and opponent haven't been finalized just yet. He doesn't seem to be on the radar of other top super bantamweights like JuanMa or Rafael Marquez.

5. Manny Pacquiao - 19.27 - Reports say a huge fight with Miguel Cotto isn't quite a done deal. But BoxRec is obviously feeling confident it will come together.

6. Kelly Pavlik - 18.13 - The Ghost has a new deal with Top Rank and apparently is not in rehab. Now if he'd just fight Abraham this fall, everything would be lovely.

7. David Haye - 17.00 - An injury prevented him from getting the shot at Wladimir Klitschko that he seemed to want so much. If he doesn't log a win by the end of 2009, he'll fall so far he may not even make honorable mention in these rankings.

8. Nonito Donaire - 16.00 - The flyweight ace will take to the ring in Las Vegas in August. He'll move up one division to take on Rafael Concepcion on a card that also features Steven Luevano versus Bernabe Concepcion, plus Odlanier Solis and Anthony Peterson.

9. Juan Manuel Marquez - 15.46 - JMM's showdown with Floyd Mayweather got pushed back from the summer to the fall. Fighting the Saturday after Mexican Independence Day should have him even more psyched than before, if that's possible.

10. Miguel Cotto - 13.20 - Cotto may be biting off more than he can chew by chasing Pacquiao. But if he wins, his star will be as bright as any in the sport.

The next 7: Paul Williams, Andre Berto, Chris John, Vic Darchinyan, Carl Froch, Chad Dawson, Tomasz Adamek

Posted by The Franchise

Boxing Hall of Famer Alexis Arguello Found Dead in Nicaragua - Possible Suicide?

The Associated Press and other news outlets are reporting that former world champion and 1992 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Alexis Arguello was found dead this morning at his home in Nicaragua. Known as the "Explosive Thin Man," Arguello won titles in three different weight classes during his long career, but he may be most famous for his unsuccessful attempt to win a fourth when he was knocked out in the 14th round by Aaron Pryor in an epic battle in 1982.

Though the AP piece does say Arguello was found with a gunshot wound to the chest, details of his autopsy have not been released. Other reports are circulating that TV stations in his home country are already stating that the wound was self-inflicted and calling the death a suicide.

Arguello's career came before my time as a boxing fan, but I did get a chance to meet him briefly and get his autograph in Canastota in 2004, which inspired me to learn more about his career. He became friends with Pryor despite their two slugfests in the ring (Pryor also won the 1983 rematch with a 10th-round KO), and both men were on hand for the induction weekend five years ago.

Posted by The Franchise