We're about to slop a week's worth of big ol' Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV coverage on to the table, so best clean our plates, via Quick Jabs.
First things first: Stephen Espinoza of Showtime answered a couple questions when I spoke with him Friday that I haven't been able to relay until now. Here goes, then.
On lessons learned in his first year as boxing boss at the network and what he'll take into 2013:
"I've definitely learned a lot. In some ways I am very happy with the progress I've made, in some ways it hasn't happened as quickly as I thought — a lot of little quirks about scheduling and about competitive events and times of year. In terms of what we're doing next year, I look back on the last three to four months. starting with the Canelo [Alvarez] fight, we really did start a good stride and creative rhythm. What we're really focusing on right now is action fights. The 'Knockout Kings' card headlined for Canelo, that was all action. We went to Barclays and had a lot of action there. We went to Abner Mares in another action fight. Miguel [Cotto], that's an action fight. I want to focus on guys that come forward, that are entertaining and press."
On whether action equals success:
"No, nor is action ever really guaranteed. You never know how it goes. It's going to be a mix. I think the most important thing is you want to reward the people who do tune in and show up, supply casual fans with a good experience. That's why it was critical in Barclays for that to be an exciting card, because that's a new market and a new arena. I would venture we had a lot of first time boxing fans, so it's essential that those people go home having had a good experience so we can go back there again. I think for as much of a history as Brooklyn has in boxing, we're still training people to be fans."
On the prospect-centered ShoBox, his handling of which is one of the bigger complaints from hardcore fans during his tenure:
"The hardest core fans are the most passionate so they're going to be the most vocal. The reality is that a lot of that was loose ends that I had to clean up. We sort of don't have a mid-level boxing franchise. Is it worse to call it a ShoBox Special Edition or worse to complicate it by inventing a whole new brand? I do understand the hardcore, very passionate ones — I understand they're disenfranchised a little bit."
That covers one of the topics in the headline. We're almost here:
We'll also talk about CBS airing the first live boxing card on a major network in a very, very long time, the possible retirement of Jose Sulaiman, Adrien Broner's latest TV ratings and even touch on a couple fights in the works.
I mean this not in any way blasphemous or mocking: Could there have been a more fitting tribute at Hector "Macho" Camacho's wake than for a catfight to break out, considering how much spectacle the man brought to the sport of boxing?…
The 50 Cent/Floyd Mayweather spectacle, that continues unabated. Now Fitty's back to saying that the falling out is real, not a hoax, and as I said before, I believe that's the real situation. His remarks about Mayweather's promotional practice do somewhat confirm what we thought, namely that Mayweather was a fictional promoter…
For Manny Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach to be lobbing accusations at Juan Manuel Marquez about peformance enhancing drugs without any evidence whatsoever makes me lose a little respect for the man. Pacquiao was victimized by the same mentality from Floyd Mayweather's team, and Roach spent years complaining about it, rightfully. Now he just has a hunch? I'm not saying there's not smoke there, but there's smoke coming out of Pacquiao, too, if you want to be suspicious to the maximum. Then he says something about how there wouldn't be any PEDs in the sport if strength and conditioning coaches went away, knowing damn well that Alex Ariza is a strength and conditioning coach in his camp, and that Ariza is responsible for some of the aforementioned smoke coming out of Pacquiao. And if this is a promotional ploy to get people talking about Pacquiao-Marquez IV, I still don't respect it because that's a pretty heavy accusation to make…
It's been 15 years since CBS aired a live boxing card, and seven years since any of the major four networks did (NBC's The Contender) but it's happening Dec. 15, with a show headlined by exciting bantamweight Leo Santa Cruz, but also featuring the professional debut of one of the 2012 U.S. Olympians, Joseph Diaz, Jr. (Via news release.) So that's good. Santa Cruz is also a pretty good choice, because he brings the ruckus and all, although I might've expected a bigger name to break the network barrier first, and Santa Cruz isn't fighting anyone of note, but rather the unbeaten but obscure Alberto Guevera. The following weekend, NBC airs a live boxing card, too. Let's see if any of this makes a dent in the broader populace, but you have to like that it's happening at all…
Adrien Broner, who's been a ratings star for HBO this past year-plus, turned in his first really lackluster ratings, and oddly enough it was in the most meaningful and theoretically challenging fight of his career. I don't know if this means people are getting tired of Broner's schtick or if it was just some kind of scheduling issue where something else on that night was hot…
Jose Sulaiman might retire as chief of the WBC. It won't matter much in the big scheme of things; all the sanctioning bodies have a destructive business model, so who's in charge won't result in any significant change. It would lead, however, to a drastic reduction in the number of whinging, passive aggressive, nobody-kissed-my-ring-today remarks of the kind Sulaiman usually offers, all while sticking it to the sport of boxing left and right…
John Murray recently failed a physical. We don't know what led to the failure, exactly, but anybody who watched Murray take far more punishment than he needed to against lightweight Brandon Rios last year won't be surprised. If it turns out that he failed the physical because of that beating, his corner and the referee ought to be hanging their heads in shame right around now.
Round And Round
Mayweather could be making his decision this week about his next opponent. Miguel Cotto surely won't be an option again, as he lost this past weekend. It seems to me that it comes down to welterweight Robert Guerrero or junior middleweight Saul Alvarez. In a Mayweather/Pacquiao-free world, either of those work for me.
Yuriorkis Gamboa is talking about fighting the aforementioned Broner. Let's see whether Gamboa looks strong at 130 pounds this weekend before we start talking about him moving up to 135, but if he DOES look strong, the talk becoming reality could be quite interesting indeed, because physical talentwise, very few people are in Broner's class but Gamboa might be.
It's looking more and more like junior middleweight Gabriel Rosado will be moving up to face Gennady Golovkin next month, meaning Rosado has crossed the line from brave to suicidal. Rosado himself just said the other week he'd rather fight Cornelius Bundrage in his regular weight class, which made more sense to me. I'd think it was the HBO money a-callin', but Rosado can't be getting THAT much money to face Golovkin, right? I don't get it. On the same card, junior lightweight Rocky Martinez should be facing Juan Carlos Burgos in an early 2013 Fight of the Year candidate. Juan Manuel Lopez, who was maybe going to be on that card is still looking for an opponent, reportedly turned down Diego Magdaleno after the Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. fight fell through. He might instead fight this month against Rey Bautista in what is just kind of a ring rust-shaking fight. Magdaleno was also hoping for Martinez in February, but it looks like that won't be happening now.
Much love to Brian Viloria: He wants to go after lineal flyweight champion Toshiyuki Igarashi, even if his motive is just more alphabet leather. As Igarashi is the current weakest lineal champion, that fight would either give us a strong new one (Viloria) or strengthen the incumbent.
I know American heavyweight Bermane Stiverne sucked last time he was on a major card, but I think his style matches up far better with Chris Arreola, and I'm looking forward to that fight next month on HBO. Meanwhile in American heavyweight news, it looks like Seth Mitchell will exercise his rematch clause against Johnathon Banks. I think this is horrible news; Mitchell needs to go back to the drawing board, not the guillotine that just took his head off.
(Round And Round sources: BoxingScene; RingTV; Twitter)