Shane Mosley Signs Contract to Fight Floyd Mayweather on May 1

Maybe boxing will be able to heal the wounds to its goodwill following the disintegration of the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight faster than we thought. First Manny agreed to face Joshua Clottey, and now Floyd's bout with Shane Mosley is all but a done deal.

Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Mosley has signed his contract to fight Mayweather on May 1 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Iole's piece states that Leonard Ellerbe expects Floyd to sign his contract ASAP, and that a press conference will take place in New York to announce the fight within the next few days.

I've used some space elsewhere to spell out my complete feelings on this announcement, but suffice it to say that I'm impressed that Mayweather agreed to the bout. Yes, Shane is no spring chicken and has been inactive for over a year. But if you don't think Mosley poses at least some danger as a foe for Floyd, your opinion of him must be pretty low indeed.

My early gut feeling says Mayweather will win the fight because his defense will trump Mosley's offense. But I'll be pulling for Sugar Shane since he's a personal favorite of mine.

Does the fact that Floyd is facing the man many consider to be the next best guy make Manny look worse? Not really, because Mosley wasn't available when he was putting together a fight - Andre Berto hadn't pulled out of his fight with Shane at that point - and Clottey is no pushover.

It's certainly a good look for Mayweather and a nice situation for Mosley to get at least one more big payday before he calls it a career. And who knows, perhaps victories by Floyd and Manny will have them revisiting their negotiations for later this year.

I don't know anyone who would be opposed to that.

Posted by The Franchise


Possible Revenge for Miguel Cotto the Only Good Thing About Antonio Margarito Fighting Again

It's hard to think of another athlete from any sport, let alone another boxer, who went from likable to despised as quickly as Antonio Margarito. Maybe Ivan Drago to the Russians in Rocky IV, but a real life example escapes me.

One minute Tony was a hard-working welterweight who finally got his shot at the big time, and a few months later he's boxing's Public Enemy No. 1 thanks to the illegal plaster-like substance found in his hand wraps. It was a huge fall, but a deserved one for a man who was prepared to put Shane Mosley's well-being in danger.

And let's face it: that lack of respect for another man's health is what separates Margarito from the Mark McGwire's of the sports world. It's one thing to give yourself an edge and something else entirely when that edge could result in serious injury - or worse.

Margarito is set to return to the ring in less than two months on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey bout in Dallas. The setting is important, because it allowed Margarito to apply for a license in Texas instead of seeking reinstatement in California, where he was punished in the first place.

Kevin Iole's recent column on Yahoo! Sports explains why Tony should be allowed to box again. Iole doesn't like it, but he points out that the Tijuana Tornado is following the rules that are in place.

He served his suspension and switched trainers. He didn't apologize or admit any wrong-doing, but that's to be expected when the entire strategy for Margarito after the controversy was to pawn the whole thing off on former trainer Javier Capetillo.

For what it's worth, I agree with Iole's theory that there was no way Margarito didn't know about the wraps. I also don't think it was the first time he did it, and on that point I can speak from personal experience.

For over a decade, I worked at an amusement park where one of my main job duties was to uncover internal theft. Almost to a person, the employees we eventually caught red-handed tried to claim it was their first time. We were able to prove that most of them were lying.

That thought allows us to segue to the last man to lose to Margarito, Miguel Cotto. As most boxing fans know, Cotto suffered a brutal 11th-round stoppage, the first of his career and a beating from which some observers think he still hasn't recovered.

Was Margarito cheating on that night too? We'll never know for sure, but logic tells us there's a very good chance. Cotto has pretty much done everything but say he believes it.

With Tony active again, one gets the feeling that Cotto is licking his chops at the thought of avenging that defeat. Knowing what we do about what makes Miguel tick, I;d be surprised if he didn't.

Assuming Margarito wins his comeback bout and Cotto gets past his next foe (supposedly Yuri Foreman in June), expect the talk of the two of them facing each other again to heat up. On one hand, it stinks, because it will be a big payday that Margarito doesn't deserve.

But Cotto is a class act who is a credit to boxing. He's well worth rooting for, and if he's able to exorcise some demons, it will make up for the distasteful sight of Margarito fighting in the spotlight again.

It doesn't sit well with me that Tony is back. I'm a big believer in second chances, but not once you've proven to be so callous with another man's health, or at least his livelihood.

Still, if it gives Cotto a chance for some revenge and redemption, I'm all for it. That may be the only way this story has a satisfying ending.

Posted by The Franchise


What Has Joe Calzaghe Been Up to Anyway?

Though we now know that Allan Green is taking over for Jermain Taylor in the Super Six World Boxing Classic, one of the more fanciful yet intriguing suggestions I heard from other boxing fans was getting Joe Calzaghe to come out of retirement and join the tournament.

That certainly would have been a blast, and it would have made the Super Six an even bigger deal in Europe (where it's already more significant than it is here in the U.S.). There's virtually zero chance it would have happened, but hey, it's always fun to dream.

Anyway, since this is boxing we're talking about, quite a few fans seem to be skeptical that Calazghe will actually stay retired. But from all indications, he seems to be enjoying his life outside the ring.

What's he been up to since beating Roy Jones in November of 2008? Glad you asked.

In what may have been his most visible activity, Calzaghe was a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, the U.K.'s version of (and indeed, the inspiration behind) Dancing With the Stars. That didn't end so well for JoeCal, but it may not have been a total loss, either, as reports have it that he ended up with a pretty nice consolation prize.

He also got more seriously involved with the business side of the sweet science, starting Calzaghe Promotions to help mold the next wave of U.K. boxing talent. Joe's venture promoted two cards in 2009, with more said to be on the way soon.

Last and certainly not least, Calazghe has been donating time and money toward several worthy causes. He's thrown his weight behind both Latch, and organization devoted to researching ways to defeat childhood cancer, and Beatbullying. And no, the latter doesn't involve Joe administering physical beatings to bullies... though that would be a fun twist.

Joking aside, our European readers may be interested in Calzaghe's next endeavor. That would be his Undefeated Dinner, a gala event to be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on March 22.

Promising a night of entertainment from world class performers, all of the proceeds from the dinner will go to support Help for Heroes, a charity that aids British military personnel wounded in the world's current conflicts.

It's a cause that clearly means a lot to Calzaghe.

"I will always be proud of my record of having retired as the undefeated world champion after 18 years as a professional," Calzaghe said in a press release announcing the event. "But it was only when I met some of our servicemen and saw their sacrifices that I truly understood the meaning of undefeated.

"They are an inspiration to us all. I can think of no better use of money raised from my testimonial dinner than for it to make a contribution towards the better futures of those who have made such unimaginable sacrifices for their country."

Tickets for the gala aren't cheap (£550 plus VAT per person, or tables of ten for £5,000), but the price includes a champagne reception, a three-course dinner, complimentary drinks and the live entertainment. Full details are available at Calzaghe's official website.

Whether you cheered him on or rooted against him, you have to admit that Calzaghe's relatively brief time on top of the sport of boxing wasn't boring. We may never see him in action again, but he's applying his fighting spirit in other areas, and smart money wouldn't bet against him continuing to make an impact.

Posted by The Franchise


20/20 Hindsight: The Juanma-Gamboa Balancing Act, Allan Green in the Super Six, The Return of Erik Morales and More

Plotting out the career trajectories of boxers is kind of like playing chess. You can look a few moves ahead, but there are things that can happen on the way there that can easily foul up even the best laid plans.

With that in mind, it's been interesting to watch the way Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa are being handled. They've been rumored to be on track to fight each other for at least two or three bouts in a row, fighting on the same cards to build interest.

The trouble, of course, is that if one of them loses, it kind of blows up the whole scheme. Well, unless you go the Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones route and just say, "Screw it, we're fighting anyway."

Prior to this past weekend, it appeared both men might be challenged. Lopez was up against a very solid boxer in Steven Luevano, while Gamboa was up against wild but tough Roger Mtagwa, who caused Juanma a few anxious moments last year.

But Gamboa cruised, dazzling Mtagwa with his hand speed and power and getting himself out of harm's way when the Tanzanian came forward. After already suffering two knockdowns, a nasty string of unanswered punches crumpled Mtagwa and ended his night in less than two rounds.

Lopez had a different, probably more difficult test but still passed with flying colors. Though Luevano had his moments early thanks to a persistent jab and some timely counters, Juanma showed more strength and offensive variety, stopping him in Round 7.

With both men looking so impressive - and both sporting featherweight world titles, for what it's worth - they have to be facing each other next?

Not so fast, according to Bob Arum. He wants to build up the inevitable showdown until fans have no choice but to demand it.

Arum knows a lot more about his craft than I do, so I can't question the wisdom of that approach. It's just that with each successive fight, the balancing act becomes that much more difficult to keep going, simply because there's always a chance that one of them may lose.

I'm also not certain that the featherweight division is full of enough compelling match-ups to satisfy two titleholders. The only name that comes to mind immediately is Chris John before you start getting to the Rocky Juarez and Cristobal Cruz types.

So a Lopez-Gamboa clash can be put off for now, but delaying it for too long is playing with fire. If and when the fight happens, I'm leaning slightly toward Gamboa to win - not because of him handling Mtagwa more easily, but because he seems like he has the edge in raw athleticism and explosiveness.

Let's do some Shoe Shining...


Erik Morales officially announced the end of his retirement over the weekend, and he'll return to the ring on March 27 in Mexico. He'll do it as a welterweight, which is notable since he hasn't ever fought north of lightweight. El Terrible has certainly earned the right to do whatever he wants, but after losing five of his last six fights before calling it quits, it's abundantly clear that we shouldn't expect too much from him going forward...

As widely rumored, Allan Green will take Jermain Taylor's place in the Super Six World Boxing Classic after plans for him to take on Sakio Bika for the spot fell through. I like it if for no other reason than Green's power makes him a wild card. Since Lucian Bute wasn't coming in, this seemed like the next best possible move...

It was nice to see Dan Rafael report that ticket sales for Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey are going well, with 20,000 seats already purchased. I don't think that was a foregone conclusion since so many fans seemed down about Manny's fight with Floyd Mayweather falling apart. It also suggests that Cowboys Stadium is a very viable alternative to Las Vegas for big boxing matches, but we'll have to see how things go to know for sure.

Posted by The Franchise


Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Steven Luevano: Round By Round

Since Yuriorkis Gamboa disposed of Roger Mtagwa so quickly, there is time to kill on HBO's Boxing After Dark as we await Juan Manuel Lopez and Steven Luevano. Bob Papa spends a few minutes with Miguel Cotto, who talks about his probable next bout against Yuri Foreman at Madison Square Garden in June.

Lopez is sponsored by IHOP. Interesting sponsor. I like it.

Here we go...

Round 1
We are going double lefty to start. Not much action in first 30 seconds. Probing jabs both ways. Luevano showing movement. He got a straight in there. Both men are being careful. Lopez gets in a nice left. Luevano trying to counter. Lopez being more economical with the output of jabs. Right from Lopez. Tying up. Interesting first round. Could have gone either way.

Uatu: Lopez 10-9
Franchise: Lopez 10-9

Round 2
Lederman goes Lopez as well. Lopez lands nicely. Lopez trying to work his way in. He is throwing the more authoritative shots. Luevano doing the circling. Jabs both ways. Tying up inside. Couple nice shots from Luevano. Jab makes Lopez miss. Lopez closes with a combo. Another close round.

Uatu: Luevano 10-9
Franchise: Lopez 10-9

Round 3
Lederman goes Lopez in round 2. Lopez gets in a monster left. Shakes Luevano a little. He seems to have recovered. Lopez looks stronger. His margin of error is larger. Luevano not giving up. Trying to dig to the body. Luevano goes body again. Lopez gets in a few. Best action so far. Uppercut from Lopez. Luevano pumps away with the jab. Lopez backs Luevano up. Jab from Luevano looks nice. Round closes with Lopez charging.

Uatu: Lopez 10-9
Franchise: Lopez 10-9

Round 4
Lederman has it 3-0. Not much going on in the first minute of consequence. Lopez lands a nice 1-2. Lopez pressing and gets in some more shots. Lopez working the in fighting. Lopez doing some damage. Luevano retreats. Luevano trying to keep him at bay. I would say this round was the most in favor of Lopez yet.

Uatu: Lopez 10-9
Franchise: Lopez 10-9

Round 5
Exchanges that Lopez gets the better of. Luevano swinging hard as well though. Lopez throwing blocked right hooks. 1-2 from Lopez. Luevano ducks and grabs. Luevano hanging tough. Nice uppercut from Lopez. Luevano working the body. Luevano walking forward more. Another close round.

Uatu: Lopez 10-9
Franchise: Luevano 10-9

Round 6
Lederman gave 5 to Luevano. Slow first 30 seconds that favored Lopez. Lopez being aggressive. He may win this fight on activity and aggression alone. A little more grabbing this round. Same type of action. Jabs from Luevano. Power shots from Lopez. Luevano staying mobile. Not too much of significance that round, although Lopez outlanded 2-1 according to HBO stats.

Uatu: Lopez 10-9
Franchise: Lopez 10-9

Round 7
Round starts with a headbutt warning to Lopez. Nice uppercut from Lopez as Luevano was working his way in. Down goes Luevano! He gets up, but the fight is stopped! Surprising ending.

Replays will be interesting.

Uppercut. Attempts to blast the head. Hooks to the body. Big right hook, Big left hook to the head. And that was it.

The winner by TKO at 0:44 of Round 7... and new WBO featherweight titleholder... Juan Manuel Lopez!

Nothing too interesting in the post-fight interview. Although he did mention Juan Manuel Marquez in addition to Gamboa, which would be an interesting battle of the JuanMa's.

That's it.

Posted by uatu

Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Rogers Mtagwa: Round By Round

HBO kicks off its 2010 boxing season with a Boxing After Dark doubleheader from the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Juan Manuel Lopez is the headliner, facing Steven Luevano for a featherweight title.

First, though, Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa goes up against the man who gave Juanma some anxious moments last year, Rogers Mtagwa. Bob Papa, Max Kellerman and Lennox Lewis are on hand to go over the featherweight division.

Papa narrates a video package that gives us some insight into Gamboa's background, coming up through the Cuban amateur program. His story is very similar to that of other defectors, though his style in the ring is not. It's interesting hearing him talk about his inability to return to his home, which is something that isn't often discussed.

The tale of the tape shows both Gamboa and Mtagwa almost identical in terms of height and reach. Strangely, Mtagwa weighed in at 122 1/2 pounds, well under the featherweight limit of 126.

It seems that Mtagwa is just Roger now with no 's' on the end of his name. He comes to the ring to "Eye Of The Tiger." The native of Tanzania fights out of Philadelphia now, and he sports a record of 26-13-2.

Gamboa walks out second. The 28-year old is 16-0 with 14 KOs. We'll see if he tries to box or chooses to slug it out.

Michael Buffer does the introductions, and we're set for a scheduled 12 rounds for Gamboa's WBA featherweight title.

Round 1

Mtagwa wastes no time coming forward. Gamboa sneaks in a left that makes the fans react. He ducks away as Mtagwa tries to corner him. Mtagwa tries to jab his way in. A flashy left-right combo catches Mtagwa and staggers him a bit. A counter left smacks Mtagwa as he comes in. The speed difference in both hands and feet is obvious right now. With about 15 seconds left, Gamboa sends his foe to the canvas, though he doesn't look badly hurt.

Franchise: 10-8 Gamboa
Uatu: 10-8 Gamboa

Round 2

It was a left that caught Mtagwa leaning forward that scored the knockdown. Roger takes some wild swings but gets the worst of an exchange. A left and a right crash home for Gamboa. Another left-right combination makes Mtagwa wince. A left to the body and a right upstairs send Mtagwa down again. He's back up but has over a minute to survive. Gamboa lands about 10 shots in a row. Mtagwa crumbles along the ropes, and the ref wisely calls a stop to this one.

The winner by TKO at 2:35 of Round 2... and still WBA featherweight titleholder... Yuriorkis Gamboa.

Kellerman gets a word with Gamboa, who surely can't have too many interesting things about this fight. He says he wanted to show more but had no reason to tonight.

Wisely, Gamboa feels not much can be read into how he did against Mtagwa versus how Juanma did. He is ready to face Lopez or anyone his promoter puts in front of him.

Posted by The Franchise

Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Steven Luevano, Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Rogers Mtagwa: Live Round By Round Updates Tonight

Reunited, and it feels so good!

That classic gem from Peaches & Herb sums up how boxing fans feel about seeing the sport come to life for a new year. The de facto winter break for the Sweet Science is over, and Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa will usher in a new year tonight.

Lopez takes on Steven Luevano in the main event on HBO's Boxing After Dark, and it's a fight that could very well decisively prove if Juanma is all he's cracked up to be. In the co-feature, Gamboa squares off with a tough fighter who rocked Lopez late, Rogers Mtagwa.

If you aren't lucky enough to be at MSG and don't have access to HBO, we'll help you get your fix of live updates for both fights right here. Head out to the main page around 10 pm Eastern, and we'll have constantly updated posts for both fights.

Boxing is back, and not a moment too soon.

Posted by The Franchise

Help Haiti: Buy Boxing Tickets!

Well, not just any boxing tickets, and there are plenty of other ways to make sure your donations are more direct.

Still, we appreciate any efforts to have boxing aid a good cause, so it was nice to see that Top Rank will donate $1 from every ticket to Haiti relief efforts for the rest of 2010. Say what you want about Bob Arum, but that's a very postive gesture.

The initiative will start tonight with the Juan Manuel Lopez-Steven Luevano and Yuriorkis Gamboa-Rogers Mtagwa card from Madison Square Garden. And while $1 per ticket may not sound like a whole lot, the AP piece points out that Manny Pacquiao is a Top Rank fighter and the company has its new deal with Fox Sports Net in place, so there are plenty of bouts that will end up contributing to the pot.

Arum was quoted saying he hopes other promoters will follow suit, and it would be nice to see Golden Boy Promotions do something similar. Meanwhile, if you were on the fence about attending some live boxing this year, consider this one extra reason to check out the Top Rank show near you.

Posted by The Franchise


Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Steven Luevano and Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Rogers Mtagwa: Predictions

Something that is becoming a bit of a tradition - Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa fighting on the same card at Madison Square Garden - is about to happen again this Saturday. But for the first time, both men may have their hands full on the same night.

You may recall that Juanma didn't exactly have a walk in the park the last time out, as he ended up getting rocked late in his bout with Rogers Mtagwa. Lopez was comfortably ahead on the scorecards, but he literally ended up holding on for most of the 12th round so he could make it to the final bell.

The former super bantamweight titleholder moves up to try to take the WBO featherweight belt away from Steven Luevano, who will pose an entirely different type of challenge. The smooth but relatively light-hitting (15 KO wins out of 37 victories) Californian has the most boxing skill of anyone Juanma has faced thus far, though he's had some close calls of his own over the last two years.

Hopefully Lopez learned to close some of the openings he gave Mtagwa, because Luevano will be able to exploit them much more easily. It will be interesting to see if his power can translate up another weight class, because after making short work of most of his opponents early in his career, he had trouble closing out his last three fights.

Juanma turns 27 this summer, so he's past the prospect stage. I have faith that he's still learning, though, so I think those lessons plus his natural gifts will be enough to ensure Lopez wins by unanimous decision.

Since Gamboa is being positioned for an eventual showdown with Juanma, it's convenient that he'll be in the co-feature facing Mtagwa. Even though we all know boxing doesn't have a transitive property, expect many people to be breathless with predictions that he would beat Lopez if he has an easier time with a common foe.

I expect that he will. The WBA featherweight champ has shown no problems disposing of guys at 126, and I'd give him an edge over Juanma at avoiding Mtagwa's powerful but wild shots.

If you've never seen Gamboa fight, you're in for a treat too. Unlike most of his countrymen who have difficulty shaking the Cuban amateur style, Yuriorkis goes into the ring looking to take his man out.

One thing that is a little troublesome is the rumor that Gamboa missed today's press conference in New York because he was having trouble making weight. His camp says he's just delaying facing the New York cold, but it's something to keep in mind.

Assuming all is well, Yuriorkis should simply have too much talent to lose. Mtagwa will come to fight, just as he did against Lopez, but Gamboa will prevail by mid-round KO.

Next time Lopez and Gamboa share a card at MSG, let's hope it's as opposite sides of the same fight.

Posted by The Franchise


Quick Thoughts on Amir Khan Signing With Golden Boy

As glad as I was to see boxing rev back up again this past weekend after its annual holiday slumber, the thing that caught my eye the most wasn't a fight on ESPN2 or Fox Sports Net but the official announcement of Amir Khan signing with Golden Boy Promotions.

My early take on it is that it's a great move for Khan. Love it or hate it, Golden Boy is still one of (if not the) driving forces in the sport. Khan is already a big deal in his native United Kingdom, but aligning himself with Oscar De La Hoya and company makes big money fights in the United States that much easier to make.

And let's be honest: Khan has serious superstar potential, combining excitement in the ring with natural charisma. Trying to figure out or create boxing's Next Big Thing is a path fraught with peril (see: Victor Ortiz, Alfredo Angulo, etc.), but Khan has a good a chance to be that guy as anyone.

As mentioned by Dan Rafael in the ESPN piece, Golden Boy is almost synonymous (rightly or wrongly) with HBO. Why wouldn't you want to get in good with the industry leaders if you were serious about making a splash in the U.S.?

I'd be remiss if I didn't discuss the other side, which is that the deal is as much a coup for Golden Boy as it is for Khan. Everyone knows the company's most marketable fighters are either retired or headed that way soon, and it needs to take any promising chance it can to replenish that talent pool.

From a fan's perspective, it's too bad this may scuttle a potential fight with Marcos Maidana, who won me over when he beat Ortiz last June. That being said, if Khan ends up fighting Paulie Malignaggi instead, that's trading a good fight for one that should be even better.

With Freddie Roach in his corner and Golden Boy behind him, Khan has every advantage a young titleholder could want. If he can't conquer America now, it's going to be all on him.

Posted by The Franchise


Friday Night Fights Report - January 15, 2010

Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas are back on the air for another year of Friday Night Fights on ESPN2. Laredo, Texas is the site, and tonight's card features undefeated former U.S. Olympian Demetrius Andrade, as well as featherweight Juan Carlos Burgos.

Brian Kenny and B.J. Flores are in the studio, and of course they start off quickly discussing the collapse of Mayweather-Pacquiao.

There's already some drama of the unwanted kind for tonight's main event, as Juan Carlos Martinez, who signed to fight Burgos on short notice, was unable to make weight. He'll go in at 129 pounds.

We're set for action as Demetrius Andrade takes on Bernardo Guereca. Hailing from Providence, Rhode Island, Andrade is 8-0 with six KOs thus far in his young pro career.

Guereca took this fight on just a week's notice and is much smaller than the southpaw Andrade. The first time Guereca gets hit by a right hook, he goes down and doesn't get back up. There isn't much, if anything, Andrade can take out of this one. Andrade wins by first-round KO.

Flores liked Andrade's quick hands and good spacing. Tough to believe there was even time to see those things.

Kenny talks Pacquiao-Clottey and whether or not Mayweather will actually stay on the March 13 date for a rival fight. Dan Rafael says there will be a press conference Tuesday for Pacquiao-Clottey, but there are no concrete plans for a Mayweather fight with Nate Campbell, Kermit Cintron or Paulie Malignaggi.

Could Floyd wait and fight the Shane Mosley-Andre Berto winner? Dan thinks there's a slight chance.

Flores puts more of the blame on Manny for the drug testing flap. They bring it Atlas, who feels like it's beating a dead horse, but he takes the diplomatic way out and blames both men equally for the fight falling apart.

BK says after considering the issue for a while, he backs Floyd. They move on to talk about the possibility of Mayweather fighting a smaller guy (like Campbell), and Flores thinks the media will rip him apart. Atlas wants Floyd to wait for the Mosley-Berto winner, saying even Timothy Bradley wouldn't be a satisfactory opponent.

A video segment takes a look back at Orlando Canizales, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame last year.

Next up is Yaundale Evans and Gino Escamilla. Evans is 4-0 with 3 KOs, while Escamilla is a local attraction who resides in Laredo.

Evans is bigger and faster. Though he is a southpaw, he has a nasty right hook. Escamilla gets knocked down in the first, but gets up to finish the round.

Early in the second, Escamilla goes down hard for a second time. Though he was clearly hurt, Evans doesn't seem to have any notion on how to finish him, and he survives again.

Escamilla keeps battling and takes Evans past the fourth round for the first time in his career. He makes it all the way to the final bell, though he posed no real threat to Evans, so we'll go to the scorecards. The scores come in 60-52 twice and 59-53, and Evans takes it by unanimous decision.

Back in the studio, talk turns to Jermain Taylor's decision to drop out of the Super Six World Boxing Classic. Flores hints (but doesn't actually come out and say) that Taylor was pressured to drop out, though he feels the time off will be good for JT. As rumored, they say Sakio Bika and Allan Green will fight, with the winner taking over for Taylor.

The guys also talk Roy Jones-Bernard Hopkins II. Like me, Flores likes Hopkins in the rematch.

Technical problems prevented us from doing a live round by round post for the main event between Juan Carlos Burgos and Juan Carlos Martinez. Suffice it to say that Martinez hung in pretty well considering he drained himself so much to try to make weight.

In the 12th and final round, Burgos turned up the heat with some blistering combinations, forcing Martinez to take a knee. He got up and fought on, but another combo punctuated by a wicked straight right made the referee decide he had seen enough. Burgos earned a TKO win in Round 12, running his record to 24-0 with 17 KOs.

Friday Night Fights takes next week off before returning on January 29 at a special (read later) start time of 10 pm Eastern.

Posted by The Franchise

Franchise Thoughts: Mayweather-Pacquiao Fatigue, Jones-Hopkins II and the Return (Sort of) of Televised Boxing

A while back, when I thought Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao were going to fight each other (silly, I know), I dreaded how much analysis there was going to be leading up to March 13. Everyone, and I mean everyone with even the slightest interest in the bout and access to a keyboard was sounding off on how it would go down.

That was back in December, by the way.

Now I've discovered something even worse. Floyd and Manny aren't fighting and we're still hearing about them, seemingly all the time, from all corners.

Look, I'm as upset as anyone that the fight fell apart. I've thrown my two cents in when I felt like I had something relevant to say, so I'm as guilty as anyone else.

But I'm just worn out by all of the coverage now. At this point, I don't care about who was more responsible for the fight disintegrating, how it's a big blow to the sport, or anything of that nature.

We, the boxing fans of the world, need to move on. Mayweather and Pacquiao may be the two best boxers on the planet, but they aren't the be-all and end-all of the sport.

I promise not to write any more about the fight that wasn't after today (though I will write about their replacement fights), and I vow to focus on all of the other great boxers who will be in action soon. I invite everyone out there on the internets to do the same.

This may not be the world's best segue, but Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. have decided to go ahead with their rematch, Jones' recent KO loss be damned. Guess we'll just forget that Danny Green fight ever happened, eh Roy?

I really have no problem with this, as neither man looked to be in the running for a big money fight against anyone under 40. I hope cooler heads prevail and the fight won't be shown on pay-per-view, but I'm not holding my breath.

It's kind of amusing to see early fan reaction fairly split on who will win. B-Hop has done much better against tougher competition over the past few years, so in my mind he's a heavy favorite going in.

Hopkins' style has also aged better with time because it depends so much on fundamentals (including the dirtier type that aren't in the proverbial boxing textbook) than Roy's, built as it is/was around his superior quickness and athleticism. I'm not saying RJJ can't win, but I will consider it a fairly big upset if he does.

Finally, it occurred to me that I'd feel better about all of the above if people would start throwing punches at each other on live TV. We're still a week away from an HBO card, but Friday Night Fights and Top Rank's new Fox Sports Net show both get going this weekend.

Demetrius Andrade, Juan Carlos Burgos and Kassim Ouma might not be enough to make me forget about boxing's winter of discontent altogether, but they sure will help. Let the fights begin!

Posted by The Franchise


Super Six Shake-Up: Jermain Taylor Does the Right Thing and Drops Out

Going into the Super Six World Boxing Classic, it was hard to argue that Jermain Taylor wasn't the most accomplished boxer in the field. He had been the undisputed middleweight champion of the world at one time, after all, earning that title the hard way by defeating Bernard Hopkins twice.

Still, very few people gave him any real chance of winning the super middleweight tournament after losses to Kelly Pavlik (twice) and fellow participant Carl Froch stalled his career. And once Arthur Abraham knocked him cold in the final round of his first Super Six fight, voices from all over the boxing world were calling for him to hang up the gloves for his own good.

Taylor seemed to resist those calls at first, vowing he'd fight on. His fans will no doubt be glad to hear that he's finally had a change of heart.

ESPN's Dan Rafael is reporting that Taylor has withdrawn from the Super Six, effective immediately. His statement stops short of saying he will retire from boxing, saying only that he needs time away from the ring for the good of his body and mind.

Had he remained in the tournament, Taylor would have faced Andre Ward in April. That was shaping up to be another likely loss for JT, as Ward put on a stellar performance in his victory over Mikkel Kessler.

The World Boxing Classic was set up with contingencies governing injury or withdrawal, so someone will be asked to take Taylor's place. What's known is that the substitute will inherit Jermain's point total (which is zero thanks to his first stage loss); what isn't known is exactly who will get the call.

Early reports had American Allan Green as the first alternate, though more recent rumors had Green facing Sakio Bika for that right. To keep the tournament on track, there doesn't appear to be enough time for a qualifying bout of any type to take place.

Other intriguing though much more unlikely possibilities are IBF titleholder Lucian Bute, who many felt was a glaring omission from the field in the first place, middleweight king Kelly Pavlik and light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson, though the latter two would have to change weight classes to jump in.

Posted by The Franchise


Signed and Sealed: Manny Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey in Dallas on March 13

Jerry Jones may hope that fans don't see it as a consolation prize, but it's hard to see it any other way.

Numerous media outlets reported Sunday that a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey has been finalized for March 13 at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. The bout will be on pay-per-view, though not necessarily distributed through HBO.

Under normal circumstances, this would be heralded by fans and media types alike as a great development. Pacquiao has reached must-see status, and Clottey is a dangerous and talented challenge to face on relatively short notice.

Of course, the circumstances are anything but normal, as everyone with even a remote interest in the sweet science was hoping to see Manny do battle with Floyd Mayweather on that date. Now it appears that the world's two best fighters may only engage each other through dueling broadcasts, as Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports says Mayweather could still end up fighting on March 13 in Las Vegas.

That isn't the kind of intrigue fans were hoping for, and it could actually damage chances of Mayweather-Pacquiao happening later in 2010, something I have long thought would happen. But it's not hard to see this latest development adding another layer of acrimony to any future negotiations, as the man whose fight performs better at the box office could well demand more than 50 percent of the purse.

It will also be interesting to see if there is backlash against both Pacquiao and Mayweather from disillusioned fans. You don't have to have your own boxing blog to see that the mood among folks on the internet is one of intense bitterness.

The big winner in all of this (and possibly the only one outside of Jones, who failed to land Mayweather-Pacquiao for his stadium) is Clottey, who must feel like he hit the jackpot. He's fought some notable names like Antonio Margarito, Diego Corrales and Zab Judah, but he's commonly thought of as someone to be avoided because he is tough and deceptively skilled.

After dropping a split decision to Miguel Cotto last June, Clottey probably gave up any hope he had of fighting Mayweather or Pacquiao. Now he stands to make a ton of money, and with all of the attention the fight will get (some of it for negative reasons, granted) he has a chance to put himself on the map with sports fans everywhere if he pulls off the upset.

Posted by The Franchise


Franchise Thoughts: Why Floyd Mayweather is Doomed to Lose the PR Battle Over the Death of Mayweather-Pacquiao

Barring some kind of miraculous development at the eleventh hour, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will not be standing across from each other in a boxing ring on March 13.

The fight that everyone wanted to see, that had the media and general public suddenly paying attention to boxing again, has fallen apart. And while it may be revisited again for the fall of 2010 or beyond–and indeed, I’ve gone on record saying that’s exactly what will happen–it’s dead for now, a fact that will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many.

Smarter and more informed minds than my own will pick at the carcass and try to assign blame. There’s sure to be plenty to go around, as it’s a situation in which no one will really look good going forward.

As the finger-pointing begins in earnest, I’m much more interested in the opinions of the fans than the experts. They are, after all, the ultimate losers in all of this, deprived of the fight that has captured their imaginations like no other in recent memory.

Since the fans are never going to be privy to a transcript of any of the negotiations or mediation sessions, the winner of the ensuing war of words is going to be primarily a matter of perception. This is fitting, in a way, since perception trumps reality in boxing more often than in any other sport.

Though I favor Mayweather to come out on top if and when the bout finally happens (which is difficult to admit since I’m a huge Pacquiao fan), there’s no way he can avoid losing the battle of public opinion. A majority of fans are going to think he’s to blame for scuttling the fight, and one can already sense that he knows that, as he quickly went on the attack to try to deflect the incoming fire back in his opponent’s direction.

It’s not going to work. At best, he’ll galvanize his own loyal followers, and perhaps a small percentage of neutral minds who are convinced Pacquiao had something to hide by refusing to bow to Mayweather’s drug testing demands.

Floyd’s problem is that he’s painted himself as the brash, supremely confident villain for so long that most people will have a hard time accepting that he’s the good guy in all of this. With that as the context, it’s easy to buy the line coming from Manny’s camp that he simply refused to accept the mediator’s proposed compromise.

A few years ago, I asked two respected boxing writers, Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, and Doug Fischer, then of MaxBoxing.com, about what the real Floyd Mayweather was like for a piece I was doing for another site. Their answers could not have been more different.

Iole said that Floyd was basically a decent, generous person, and that his bad boy act was just that, a show he put on to sell tickets. I got the opposite opinion from Fischer, who claimed that Mayweather was a jerk whose fits of ego and insecurity were legit.

Which writer painted the truer picture? In this case it doesn’t matter, because Fischer’s version is the one that’s more commonly accepted.

On top of that, Floyd’s critics will simply use the disintegration of the Pacquiao match as more ammunition to back up their belief that he was too scared to fight Manny. To them, this is just the latest, greatest example of a career spent seeking slightly less than the top challenges available.

To me, it’s hard to swallow that Mayweather would be afraid to fight anyone, as his confidence in his own tremendous skills simply wouldn’t allow it. But again, the question is what fans will think, and put simply, this current turn of events won’t help.

None of this should come as much of a surprise. In addition to the differences between the two men in the way they embody the sport–Manny is raw power and aggression that’s been tempered over time, while Floyd has prodigious natural gifts and a mastery of the subtler nuances of the sweet science–there’s a similar dichotomy to the way they are perceived outside the ring.

Pacquiao is a beloved figure, carrying the hopes of an entire nation with him every time he fights. He comes across as affable and almost naïve despite his success, even though some of that is almost as certainly a show as Mayweather’s persona.

For Floyd, the most commonly encountered feeling among fans is respect rather than love, and often grudging respect at that. He’s embraced the villain role for so long that he’s more famous than popular, a small but important difference.

This saga is far from over, and there’s bound to be significant backlash against both men thanks to the legions of distraught boxing fans all around the world. Smart money says that more of it will be directed against Mayweather than Pacquiao, though, and short of unilaterally dropping his demands, there isn’t much Floyd can do at the moment to change that.

Posted by The Franchise


This Time They Mean It: Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao is Off (For Now)

It looks like the fight everyone wants to see will not be seen, at least this spring.

Though the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout has been declared dead before, it looks like it's now been taken off life support. Multiple news outlets are reporting that the fight is off, and both men will look to make other matches for March.

For Pacquiao, this likely means Yuri Foreman and a really good shot at a world title in an eighth weight class. Let's be honest though: he comes off looking worse than his potential opponent after this, simply because it was his side that originally seemed unwilling to compromise on the drug testing.

I'm a huge Manny fan, but it's hard to discount his critics now. Even if he's clean, the perception that he wouldn't do the fight unless he got everything his way is bound to dog him.

Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports says Mayweather will most likely end up facing Paulie Malignaggi, who got a boost with a very impressive performance against Juan Diaz in his last fight. But Paulie was a light hitter even at lower weights, and his strengths are in areas Floyd is even better. I'm not sure how he has much of a chance.

Money doesn't exactly come out of this smelling like roses either, since it looks like he was the one that was unwilling to accept the mediated compromise. There are those who have always thought he was simply too afraid of the possibility of losing to fight Manny (though I'm not one of them), and now that chorus will only grow louder.

I've said before that I thought Mayweather-Pacquiao would still be revisited in the fall if it fell through for the spring, and I'd be surprised if that wasn't the case. Could both men really leave that much fame and fortune on the table?

If they do, maybe my man Shane Mosley will have a chance to land one of them later this year - assuming he gets by Andre Berto, of course.

Posted by The Franchise


Top 10 Pound-For-Pound Boxers: BoxingWatchers.com End of 2009 List

Yes, we're a few days into 2010 now, but sometimes it takes some time to have all the BoxingWatchers give some input on... well, anything really.

Anyhow, we only do a pound-for-pound list at the end of each calendar year, because things don't generally change too much in any given month to be worth voting again. After 12 months though? That's a different story.

For starters, we lost several men from our end of list. Joe Calzaghe retired, and Antonio Margarito lost his only 2009 fight and got suspended for cheating.

A notable addition to the top 10 is Floyd Mayweather, who was still "retired" at this time last year. And the rest of the deck has been shuffled somewhat as well.

Based on nothing but our own opinions, here's our list:

BoxingWatchers.com Top 10 Pound-for-Pound Boxers - End of 2009
(End of 2008 rank in parentheses)

1. Manny Pacquiao (Last year: 1)
2. Floyd Mayweather (NR)
3. Bernard Hopkins (3)
4. Shane Mosley (NR)
5. Juan Manuel Marquez (4)
6. Israel Vazquez (5)
7. Chad Dawson (NR)
8. Paul Williams (6)
9. Arthur Abraham (NR)
10. Timothy Bradley (NR)

Also receiving votes: Nonito Donaire

Dropped out: Joe Calzaghe (retired, last year: 2), Antonio Margarito (7), Kelly Pavlik (8), Ivan Calderon (9), Rafael Marquez (10)

Posted by The Franchise


Lights Out Upstairs? James Toney Still Trying to Get Dana White to Let Him Fight in the UFC

Unfortunately, it didn't even take 48 hours for me to find a boxing-related news item that was sillier than Holyfield-Botha. Call it a "Oh God, no!" report, or as Chad Ochocinco would say, perhaps a "Child, please!" piece.

According to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, former heavyweight titleholder James Toney was in attendance at Saturday's UFC 108, once again attempting to badger Dana White into letting him have a UFC fight. I shouldn't have to spell out all the reasons this is a horrible idea, gut here are a few anyway:

* Last I checked, grappling and kicking are allowed in UFC fights. Toney knows more about boxing than any MMA fighter, but unless White makes it a special attraction bout with different rules (highly unlikely), he'll be at an extreme disadvantage.

Sure, he could land a lucky shot, but the chances would be slim.

* Toney is 41, and at the risk of making an early run at understatement of the year, he's not known for being a fitness nut. Guys who still fight at 40 in the UFC include Randy Couture, who's undoubtedly in better shape than a vast majority of men 20 years his junior.

Maybe White can arrange for Couture to fight Toney, have him run around the ring for four minutes until Toney gasses, then submit him.

* I'm not sure Toney cares about this, but White enjoys taking any opportunity he gets to stick it to boxing. If you believe that MMA and boxing are competing for the same pool of fans (which I don't, at least for the most part), it actually makes good business sense to do so.

There's really no need to give him ammunition. And having Toney get embarrassed on a UFC pay-per-view would give him plenty of that.

I think i speak for all of the BoxingWatchers when I say that we're all fans of Toney. He's always fought with tons of heart and skill, often against much bigger foes, and he's certainly been one of the most quotable boxers in recent memory.

So please, James, don't do this. I'm pretty much begging you.

Posted by The Franchise


How to Make the Casual Sports Fan Take Boxing Titles Even Less Seriously: Holyfield-Botha

I really wanted my first post of 2010 to be a positive one.

There's a lot to look forward to, after all. The two best pound-for-pound boxers in the world will probably get their differences irnoed out at some point, the Super Six World Boxing Classic is rolling on, and we're just a few weeks away from a stellar start to the 2010 season on HBO when Shane Mosley and Andre Berto collide.

Yes, we boxing fans should be plenty excited. But then there's this: Evander Holyfield and Francois Botha fighting for the WBF heavyweight title.

Now understand that I'm not mad at Holyfield. Over the past few years, my attitude about older fighters is if they want to keep fighting, and they think anyone will care, then God bless them. It's ultimately his decision.

I am angry about ESPN deciding it was worthy of being splashed across the crawl during all of the college football bowl games. Real boxing fans know the WBF is not a "real" sanctioning body, but the casual sports fan doesn't, making it seem like it was an actual world title fight.

It's bad enough trying to explain to my friends who don't follow boxing regularly why there are four semi-legitimate organizations with title belts, and now I have to tell them that this isn't one of them. It's this kind of crap that makes boxing seem like a joke to outside observers a lot of times.

So, yeah, it would be bad to have a 47-year old Real Deal battling for a belt that meant something (assuming that's not oxymoronic), but this is, in some ways, even worse. A hearty boo goes to ESPN for this one, and I hope I don't have to post about stuff like this for the rest of the year.

Posted by The Franchise