Quick Jabs: Juan Manuel Marquez, Bob Arum And Steroids; Rude Jude And The Floyd Mayweather Flip-Flop; Who Needs Both Ears?; More



Radio host Rude Jude doesn’t score the cleanest, most effective blows in that widely examined and wildly amusing audio of him arguing with Floyd Mayweather, but he sure does win the rhetorical war. That means a lot, considering that Mr. Jude starts as a man who has the rhetorical handicap of deliberately calling himself “Rude Jude.” Mayweather rarely encounters anyone who calls him on his “win by inflammatory comment” argumentation technique. The more Mayweather flails to get the low-blow upper hand, the more Mr. Jude laughs at him, and the more the basic truth of the matter — that Mayweather is ridiculously insecure for such a rich and successful man — reveals itself. Whatever the case, it’s a fine piece of trash entertainment. Surely, Mayweather didn’t help his “I’m not a ducker” claim with his camp saying Wednesday they wanted to fight Manny Pacquiao, then having Mayweather be quoted Thursday saying, “Pacquiao? I didn’t even know I was fighting him.” At least he’s flirting with middleweight champion Sergio Martinez for a fight at 150 pounds, not the ideal weight for that fight but at least Martinez would be a next-best option.

In this edition of Quick Jabs, besides the items in the headline, we examine who’s to blame for boxing being out of the network spotlight, some trends in pay-per-view boxing in 2011, whether women who box must wear skirts, if Gary Russell, Jr. should get over himself or not and more.

Quick Jabs

There’s a certain crowd in boxing for whom promoter Bob Arum can do no wrong. Me, I look at him the way I do all promoters: He does some things very well, but other things terribly. That Arum engenders such loyalty has always been quizzical to me because more than any other promoter, he’s been the one who’s most explicit about telling the fans to “go fuck themselves,” literally, but maybe people are just grateful for him being more upfront about it than everyone else. Anyway, he said a bunch of hooey this past weekend about how Juan Manuel Marquez’ association with a known supplier of performance enhancing drugs didn’t matter a lick. He took it one further when he said, “The steroid problem is fading into the past.” (And as if to show how much it didn’t matter to him, he threw reporter Gabriel Montoya off a conference call for asking questions about it.) The steroid issue absolutely isn’t fading into the past. Three of my absolute favorite fighters — Marquez with Angel Hernandez, Andre Ward and Nonito Donaire with Victor Conte — have been canoodling with this sort. Maybe Conte and Hernandez have gone clean and maybe they haven’t. It doesn’t look very good to me that Marquez reached out to Conte before going to Hernandez; it’s almost like Marquez had a “type” of strength coach in mind, right? As long as the testing regime is as bad as it all is, a full-blown PED scandal could threaten to break out in boxing. It might take a set of more industrious reporters than boxing currently has, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some very bad stuff lurking beneath the surface…

Main Events has reportedly made a deal with Versus to air some boxing with some pretty decent budgets, and anytime boxing is more widely available I’m in favor. The big wrinkle could be that NBC might air some of the fights, too, although I’ve seen no solid confirmation of this — and it would be far and away the most important part of the deal, since it would involve boxing returning to one of the big four television networks. Therefore, this could be “merely good” or “huge.” I got my hopes up about the Showtime/CBS deal, and that proved less revolutionary than I’d hoped, so I’m going to temper my enthusiasm until we know more. Also, keep in mind that specific network deals with promoters often don’t work out so hot, and Main Events has shown in the past that it specifically has not been terrific at them, but the company reportedly will be working with others, so that’s a good sign…

Speaking of Arum, and speaking of the four big television networks, this week I was checking out a Maxboxing forum thread and happened across this old 1998 article about why boxing was no longer on the big networks, one of the big reasons boxers have a lower profile these days. It quoted Kevin Monaghan, director of new business development for NBC, like so: “Our business is based on advertisers, and eventually with all the problems in boxing you could get motor oils and beers as sponsors, but no Procter and Gamble, no Coke, no Pepsi… It’s a shame. I love boxing, but we just can’t make the economics work. It got to the point where one out of every three fights fell apart. And if you’re a sponsor with money, you want to put it in something safe.” Added Marv Albert, then at NBC: “Network guys always got frustrated by dealmakers and cancellations. They hated the headaches.” When people say that Arum is the last good promoter, let’s not forget who was one of the top two promoters in the business at the time when the networks decided they got too frustrated with the “dealmakers” and decided it wasn’t worth it…

I’d hoped that ESPN’s boxing guru Doug Louhgrey would replace Ken Hershman at Showtime with Hershman leaving for HBO, but he’s reportedly moving over to ESPN3 for some reason. That leaves two major boxing networks without lead boxing guys whose work I’ve admired. I don’t know if the talent pool of people who can run a boxing program at a network is all that deep, but maybe there are some heir apparents at both ESPN and Showtime…

Welterweight Sebastian Lujan, who’s sparring with his old body part-removing conqueror Antonio Margarito in advance of his Dec. 3 fight with Mike Jones, apparently has decided, “Fuck it, I don’t need BOTH ears to win a fight.” And that apparently awesome HBO Face Off segment with Margarito and Miguel Cotto will air Nov. 13…

Al Bernstein got carried away declaring this scrap the most exciting fight of the past three years — it’s probably not in the Fight of the Year discussion, really. However, it is a pretty wild brawl, and I recommend it…

Usually when two men fight on HBO and the loser gets back on the network before the winner, people champion the winner and decry the loser for having superior political connections. There has been none of this on behalf of Nobuhiro Ishida, upsetter of junior middleweight James Kirkland, who’s fighting on HBO tonight. Quite the opposite — every time Ishida’s name has come up as an opponent on HBO, people have usually shat upon the idea. Perhaps that’s been appropriate at times; but perhaps it’s also been appropriate for other losers to jump ahead of line at times, too. Usually, though, the winner deserves to be back on. That Ishida hasn’t been back speaks to a few things: that Kirkland-Alfredo Angulo is a good enough fight that people want it more than any fight involving Ishida; that Cameron Dunkin-managed fighters tend to get a pass from the media for sins other managers or advisers are excoriated for; that Ishida’s win is viewed as a fluke, not a sign that he’s a real HBO-worthy fighter; and that Ishida doesn’t have any promoters or publicists screaming on his behalf the way some other fighters have had in his situation. I say, though, that we not forget Ishida — maybe Showtime or ESPN2 or somebody can adopt him for a fight after the kind of career-best victory that most of the time leads to something better, not continued obscurity…

There will be more major boxing pay-per-views (that is, shows hosted by a major promoter in conjunction with a top network like HBO or Showtime) in 2011 than in 2012, an unwelcome statistic. But the smaller pay-per-views which Top Rank had made a staple, like Latin Furies, and that had appeared on smaller distribution networks, like Integrated Sports, have all but disappeared this year. In the case of Top Rank, I suspect it’s because they now have programs like Top Rank Live on ESPN Deportes to fill the role of those small PPVs, which were more about keeping fighters busy and raising their profiles than making tons of cash, and Top Rank also has found Showtime and then HBO more welcoming of Top Rank’s fighters and match-ups of late. For the smaller PPVs, I wonder if it isn’t just a question of online outlets like Epix and ESPN3 moving in and claiming some of the opportunities Integrated might once have taken…

There was a big outrage over the notion that the AIBA was asking female boxers wear skirts, and there should have been outrage about the notion. But AIBA says it never was to be compulsory. I don’t know what’s what, but I do know that any boxer who doesn’t want to wear a skirt shouldn’t have to, and requiring otherwise — even encouraging otherwise — is a mite bit sexist…

I’m kind of over Pacquiao singing schlock on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, but if you want to watch the pair duet “How Deep is Your Love,” you can do it here. Trick pool shots by Manny before the show? That’s a little different, at least.
 


Round And Round

Mini-edition.

There was all this talk that featherweight top man YURIORKIS GAMBOA! would first face junior featherweight Rocky Martinez and then move on to a summer bout with lightweight Brandon Rios, but the latest accounts suggest that we’ll get Gamboa-Rios in February or March on HBO. There’s no doubt it’s a sexy clash, although as someone who has seen favorite Paul Williams get starched and damn-near ruined and who expects the same to happen of Juan Manuel Marquez Nov. 12, I can’t say I’m thrilled about the prospects of what might happen with Gamboa against a gigantic lightweight.

Junior welterweights/welterweights Paulie Malignaggi and Marcos Maidana are talking up a storm about facing one another. PASS.

As I’ve read no rebuttal from the camp of Russell, I must assume it’s true: The featherweight demanded that prospective opponent Teon Kennedy — coming off a loss, by the way — fight at 127 pounds, when usually he’s been a junior featherweight. The Al Haymon-advised Russell is a remarkable talent, but he’s also been ultra-remarkable as behaving like a diva for such a young fighter, seeking advantages just for the sake of seeking them. Good for HBO for dumping him to highlights when Russell’s people set their sights on Dat Nguyen, although perhaps even that was excessive. The exaggerated label of “Haymon Box Office” continues.

Indicators point to heavyweight Vitali Klitschko’s next opponent being Nicolay Valuev. As before when talks have turned to Vitali-Valuev, the possibility exists that the 7′ Valuev could be knocked to the ground in an inherently unique fashion, which summarizes the total appeal of the fight.

(Round and Round sources: ESPN; Twitter; Russia Times)

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C., where he is a staff writer for CQ Roll Call.

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