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

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