ATE: 168lbs Battles, Hatton-Witter, Forrest, World Title Belts, Margarito Dive, USA Heavies, H.O.F Worthy and More
Vernon Forrest's jab: HoganPhotos.com
In today’s edition of Ask The Editor (ATE), we dissect Showtime’s super middleweight tournament, ask whatever happened to Ricky Hatton-Junior Witter and recall more about the sadly departed Vernon Forrest. The proliferation of world titles takes another beating, one reader asks if Antonio Margarito threw his fight with Shane Mosley, someone puts the slipper into the American heavyweights, the careers of Hatton and Floyd Mayweather Jr get dissected and much more.
Name : Barnaby Chesterman
Country : Italy
Your Question :
Hi guys, just want to say how excited I am about the Super Six tournament, and I’m also feeling a bit prophetic, having written to you a couple of months ago saying I thought the super middleweight division should be setting off fireworks...now it will. But my question is what do you think about the line-up, are these really the best six super-mids in the world? There’s a nice symmetry to it with three Europeans and three Americans, three whites and three blacks... but what about the guys not there? I don’t think too many people could argue with Froch or Kessler as they hold the world titles. I can see why Abraham is in there as he’s an unbeaten middleweight champion, but do those three Americans deserve it or are they just in there because it’s on Showtime? What about Bute, Bika or even Pavlik? Taylor got stopped by both Froch and Pavlik, so it seems he’s lucky to be in there. And while Ward and Dirrell are both undefeated, so is Bute but he holds a belt, those two don’t. So who do you guys think should be in or out?
CLIVE BERNATH ANSWERS: Hello Barnaby. I too am really looking forward to the Super Six tournament. Yes, I’d like to have seen Lucian Bute in the tournament but I think the six guys involved is a good mix. And yes, Showtime must have had a say in the Americans being involved, but why shouldn’t they? Forget about Jermain Taylor losing to Pavlik and Froch. Jermain may just be a small step behind in terms of stamina and natural strength, but his talent is enough to even things up. I believe if Jermain can focus fully on this tournament he may just surprise a few people.
GREG JUCKETT ANSWERS: Barnaby, I’m okay with the line-up. Just the fact that a network and these six outstanding boxers have agreed to make this tournament happen is good enough for me. Let’s hope the match-ups stay intact and we get to see some great fights!
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: If the American Showtime network are going to be putting up the money for a super middleweight tournament, of course they are going to want some American boxers in there. Taylor is a questionable inclusion, but he brings some USA fans and his title as a former undisputed middleweight world champion. I’d like to see Sakio Bika in there. If you are talking about tough fights at super middleweight, then you are talking about Bika. Joe Calzaghe said Bika was one of his toughest fights at super middleweight and the Scorpion did win The Contender tournament.
MICHAEL NORBY ANSWERS: I think it’s a terrific line-up, Barnaby and the competition promises to be very exciting. Sakio Bika would have been an interesting addition to the tournament, but I’m more than happy with what we’ve got.
Name : Norm Richards
Country : UK
Your Question :
I always wondered if Ricky Hatton and Junior Witter would meet in the ring. After Witter’s soft loss last weekend, it seems it is farther away than ever. I don’t see them ever fighting.
CLIVE BERNATH ANSWERS: Norm, that fight died five years ago. Not sure if it was ever on Ricky’s radar in the first place.
GREG JUCKETT ANSWERS: Norm, I think the opposite…with Witter’s loss, I think there’s more of a chance that two Englishmen whose names still carry some juice and needing a win, against a name opponent, would make sense and probably make for a good scrap.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: Would have been an interesting fight back in 2005/2006. But Ricky was looking ahead to Las Vegas rather than a domestic super-fight. If they made the fight now, it would give the winner a boost, but I can’t ever see it happening.
MICHAEL NORBY ANSWERS: Both guys are nearing the end of their careers and a fight between the two has lost some of the appeal given their recent performances. I’m with you – I don’t see this fight happening. Then again, I never really thought there was much of a chance of a Witter vs. Hatton contest at any stage.
Name : Matty Barlow
Country : Australia
Your Question :
Hi guys. Long time reader, first time writer. Love the site. Best on the ’net! Just had to comment on Vernon Forrest. As a big Sugar Shane fan, I will never forget the second round of the first Mosley v Forrest fight. Geez, Shane was indestructible back then. Vernon showed otherwise. Was so sad to see my man lose. Then I heard the post fight interview with Forrest. The jab! All you need is a good jab!...You beat the P4P champ that makes me the P4P champ!. What a character. I instantly became a Vernon Forrest fan. He was a gentleman out of the ring and one hell of welter inside the ropes. What a shame. He will be missed.
CLIVE BERNATH ANSWERS: Thanks for the kind words about the site, Matty. I was lucky enough to be ringside for the first fight between Shane and Vernon. Researching him, talking to him and reading about him, I quickly realised there was much more to him than just being a boxer. Yes, Vernon had a lot to say for himself but there was always a respect and humility about him regardless of who he was speaking to in the build to that fight. No doubt he was a genuinely good guy and will be greatly missed.
GREG JUCKETT ANSWERS: Matty, yeah I’ll never forget that second round of the first Forrest-Mosley fight in the Theatre at MSG. It’s hard to believe Shane finished that fight on his feet. Vernon Forrest was a great fighter and a greater man. I was so sad to hear of his death.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: The greats wins over Mosley made Forrest’s losses to Ricardo Mayorga so amazing. I remember Forrest saying that about Mosley. You beat speed with a great jab!
MICHAEL NORBY ANSWERS: Well said, Matty. He will be sorely missed and will be remembered for not only his terrific boxing ability, but for his generosity and kindness outside the ring. Vernon was a true ambassador for the sport.
Name : Steve Delo
Country : United Kingdom
Your Question :
Recent developments have left me feeling cold when I ought to be excited. I think my apathy is due to world titles finally having declined to the point of uselessness. Firstly, the super middleweight tournament - one of the most exciting developments for a while (at least conceptually) - seems to have more value in it than the WBC and WBA belts that might feature in the final. Secondly, Amir Khan wins a world title in a division where there are several world title claimants better than the guy he beats and where the generally recognised division number one doesn’t have a top four belt. Even fifteen years ago, I doubt a win over a Kotelnik would have secured a world title. Thirdly, David Haye is able to toggle from one world heavyweight title holder to another in his bid to become champion. Watching Tom Watson recently fumble the British Open illustrated how golf has managed to maintain the value of its Major Championships. But in boxing, I feel the lack of championship value and clarity is spoiling everything. One wants the winner of the big matches to become THE CHAMP - not the spurious consensus number one blurred stuff we currently read about. In golf, the major championships are bigger than the player and that creates tension and a heritage. In boxing, even though we are getting some promising match-ups coming through, the championships are now smaller than the fighters. I don’t think this is a good thing - what are your views?
CLIVE BERNATH ANSWERS: Steve, I do agree with you but I have said in this ATE many times, it is the fans that buy into the title stuff and believe all the hype promoters send out. Ok, we the media relay the information, but the fans know who the real champions are. To prove the point the recent Khan vs. Kotelnik pay per view only sold a reported 30,000 buys.
GREG JUCKETT ANSWERS: Steve, proliferation of world titles has been hurting boxing for 30 years. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re ever going to see the prestige of the “championship” outweighing the fighter ever again. This is all a shame, but students of the game like yourself know legitimate fights when they see them and that’s what we have to hope for…a lot of competitive quality match-ups.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: What keeps boxing from dying is great fights and the best fighting the best. If we can get the best boxers in each division facing each other, I’ll be happy with that. There appears to be no end to the proliferation of world titles. Just like any other business, no one has 100% of the market.
MICHAEL NORBY ANSWERS: I totally agree with you, Steve. The number or belts per weight class and the number of crap fights that we are fed in so-called world championship contests gets more annoying as the years go by. That’s why I love this upcoming 168lbs tournament - there is only one winner at the end. Every boxing fan wants to see good quality, well contested match-ups and I think that’s what we’re going to get in the super-middleweight tournament.
Name : Scott Granville
Country : Canada
Your Question :
In light of Mr. Margarito continuing his association with that bad wrap artist, I’d like to mention an idea yet to be put out there. No disrespect to Shane’s performance, but, does anyone think perhaps Antonio knew he was caught, knew he was going down the drain, knew he would be vilified in the court of public opinion, and therefore did not put forth the effort everyone expected of him? He went out on his shield so he could hide under it?
GREG JUCKETT ANSWERS: Scott, I think your Margarito analysis is well worth consideration. Once that pre-fight controversy went down, there’s no way Margarito could have maintained a good mental makeup.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: I’m not buying it. Margarito tried to win that fight. He was beaten on the night by a better boxer, regardless of what happened in the dressing room before the fight.
MICHAEL NORBY ANSWERS: I don’t think so, Scott. Perhaps Margarito was worried about not having the benefits of his shady hand-wraps, but Shane just dominated him pure and simple. I don’t think it was a question of Margarito’s effort. Shane was too good for him on the night.
Name : Nick Heys
Country : United Kingdom
Your Question :
In a recent issue of The Ring it was debated whether or not Ricky Hatton was worthy of entry to the Hall of Fame and the consensus was no, on the evidence that the only ever real quality opponent he has defeated is Kostya Tszyu and this is a consensus that I agree with. He is a good, decent level honest fighter who falls short of world class. If you were to apply the same rules to Floyd Mayweather Jr had he currently stayed retired, I’m sure the initial reaction would be that of course he is Hall of Fame worthy you dumb Brit! But if you look at his resume then where are the quality opponents that set him apart from Hatton - a 34 year-old De la Hoya - 2 fights ahead of that drubbing by Pacquiao? Sharmba Mitchell, already twice ruined by Tszyu? Jose Luis Castillo? Well Hatton fought and beat him a lot easier than Mayweather did. Diego Corrales? God rest his soul, he was a great entertaining fighter, but probably more of Hatton’s level. Zab Judah? Come on...Of course Mayweather is a multi-weight champion and was a long reigning P4P champ by The Ring and I’m sure one day he will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, but for me he has never quite proved himself by winning a genuine 50/50 or worse fight and ducked Cotto when he was an undefeated wrecking machine as well as others. As for his assertion some years back that he would have beaten Sugar Ray Leonard - he wouldn’t have even beaten Pernell Whittaker, let alone Leonard.
CLIVE BERNATH ANSWERS: Hi Nick. If you look at some of the recent additions to the Hall of Fame, I really don’t think Ricky Hatton would be out of place. If you log onto the Hall of Fame website and take a look, you will see Ricky may not look so out of place. Whether that happens any time soon we will have to see. As for Floyd, I’d say he’s nailed on for induction.
GREG JUCKETT ANSWERS: Nick, you know your stuff. Hatton probably doesn’t make the H of F despite the fact that he did make the great Tszyu quit during the Englishman’s greatest triumph. I agree that Mayweather probably doesn’t beat Whitaker and definitely wouldn’t have beaten Leonard. Also, I think Castillo beat Mayweather the first time they fought. All that being said, Floyd is an outstanding talent who will be inducted into the H of F.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: Floyd Mayweather Jr and Kostya Tszyu both had long runs where they beat a number of very good fighters in world title fights. Ricky Hatton didn’t do that. He had one great win with a few other good wins. A win over Junior Witter in 20905/06 would have helped. Ricky instead tried to beat the best in Mayweather and Pacquiao and failed. No shame in that. He just couldn’t take the step to the very top level. Regardless of his boxing ability, you would have to say that Hatton was one of the most loved boxers in recent times. He will be considered for the Hall of Fame. His election will depend a lot of which other boxers he is up against on the ballot when he is eligible for consideration five years after his last fight.
MICHAEL NORBY ANSWERS: Mayweather’s accomplishments far out-weigh those of Hatton – who he defeated by knockout a couple of years back. I agree that Mayweather could have done more by providing fans with several more meaningful and risky fights but he will surely be in the Hall and rightfully so. As for Mayweather vs. Leonard or Whittaker, I tend to agree with you, but we’ll never know.
Name : Tim Young
Country : Australia
Your Question :
Hi Editors. In reply to my last letter, Mike Norby said we needed an American heavyweight champ and that’s the way it always has been. I beg to differ. The U.S.A has ruled boxing for the grand total of 125 years and the sport is a lot older than that. Europe has about the same population as North America and its fans actually turn out to events. The only reason the U.S dominates the sport monetary wise is pay per view sales. The rest of the world has to revolve around a 2 hour window when its convenient for Hank, Virgil, and Homer, to order pizza and crack open a few buds. These people wouldn’t dream of attending a show live, hence the fact that big events are held in casinos of limited capacity. Only a month or two ago 60,000 turned up in Germany to see Wlad, and it’s not too many years back 70,000 went to Wembley to cheer on Frank Bruno. Real boxing fans they are, who don’t need an American champ. When I was a youngster in England we would stay up all hours for Hagler vs. Hearns, Tyson vs. Bruno and such and sometimes it was only radio coverage. Now in Australia, I’ve been in taverns at 7am to see Lewis vs. Bruno, Hatton vs. Tszyu and it’s been packed. I think the problem over there is that the boxers are becoming a bit like the fans. Oh too late, too early, too hard, other things to do. Get a grip America cos it ain’t so for the rest of the world.
MICHAEL NORBY ANSWERS: I totally agree with your assertion that fans in Europe are tremendous. They come out in their tens of thousands to watch fights live and that rarely happens here in the USA. That’s not the point, though. Heavyweight boxing is supposed to be the glittering and glamorous showcase division of the sport and, without a healthy array of U.S heavyweights, a lot of the shine is taken off. If you disengage American fans, then the division loses a big part of its fan base and money and that hurts the division and boxing as a whole.
GREG JUCKETT ANSWERS: Tim, I think you’re spot on with a lot of your comments, however, I think Michael Norby is also right in that it would help the sport if we had a new American heavyweight star. With all due respect, the Klitschkos are stiff, robotic boxers who aren’t pleasing to watch. Maybe David Haye is the breath of fresh air we need, but he’s not, we need somebody new and in a hurry!
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: That’s it Tim. Tell Mike where he can stick his American heavyweights! The rest of the world will just go about their business while the USA gets its heavyweight house in order. Full credit to boxing fans in Europe – they certainly get out there live.
Name : Juan Dujon
Country : USA
Your Question :
Now we will see the Klitschko brother’s get cut down to size. When Vitali fights Chris Arreola on September 26, the big bad Mexican is going to turn him into the size of a flyweight!
CLIVE BERNATH ANSWERS: HI Juan. What makes me think you are an Arreola fan? Of course he has a chance. He’s a strong 250lbs heavyweight and as tough as they come. I think this is potentially a great fight, especially for a heavyweight bout. Chris has a chance but I just think the opportunity has come a little too early.
GREG JUCKETT ANSWERS: Juan, I’m not a big Klitschko supporter, but I’m not so sure Arreola gets it done against Vitali…we’ll see what happens.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: Vitali is 38 years of age. At some stage that has to be a factor in a fight. If Arreola can get into shape, surely he has the physical tools to push the older Klitschko to the limit. A very interesting fight. I’m looking forward to it.
MICHAEL NORBY ANSWERS: I like Cris Arreola, but he needs to get in shape before he fights Vitali Klitschko. I sincerely doubt that, at this point of his career, he can overcome the big Ukrainian, but you never know. He certainly is one of the most exciting, if not the most talented, of the U.S heavyweights.
Name : Thomas Waltz
Country : Australia
Your Question :
When I read the smack that Floyd Mayweather Jr talks, it is upsetting that he is a big attraction in boxing. I don’t even know why he gets so hot when he is interviewed on ESPN. First off, he actually does have a loss on his record - he lost to Castillo the first time. You can watch that fight any way you want, but he didn’t do enough to take a title from a champion who fought like he wanted to keep his title. But that is all in the past. It’s just hard to believe that he can claim to cleaning out divisions, or fighting the best guys at the time, or that other guys were running. Did he ever go after Junior Witter at 140? But most guys don’t clean out divisions, they just hold one version of a title and defend quietly against the guys they are supposed to. But Mayweather seems to build himself out to be more than he was. He is a charismatic guy and makes money, and he was able to rise above the promoters and sanctioning bodies holding him back. But he was still just a beefing up WBC fighter all the time, jumping up to snatch more WBC titles; but is he that good up until his last 3 fights before he retired? De La Hoya, Hatton and Baldomir were at least trying to pressure and mix it up and had a chance, at least it seemed. But before Baldomir, Mayweather isn’t that impressive between 135 and 147 with the guys he was fighting. He has brittle hands, he is a beefed up 130 pounder. But in those days, the days that Tszyu was fighting Tackie and Leija, I’m not sure that Mayweather would have been up to the task to take titles from Tszyu. The Leija that Tszyu fought had a chance against the 135 lbs Mayweather.
CLIVE BERNATH ANSWERS: Hi Thomas. You do have a point but come on you know boxing is a business and its all about getting the best fights at the right time against the right fighter for the maximum reward and the least risk. Fact is, Floyd may not have a massive fan base compared to Hatton or De La Hoya but he is box office star when matched with the right fighter. As for facing Junior Witter, there is not a TV network anywhere that would be interested in broadcasting that fight.
GREG JUCKETT ANSWERS: Thomas, you’re digging pretty deep in your negative criticism of Mayweather. The guy has never lost a fight (according to the judges), but Floyd is no doubt arrogant and has his detractors. Let’s see how he does against Marquez and maybe Pacquiao, thereafter.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: Mayweather certainly is talented. He had a number of good wins over a long time and moved up in weight and still won. He beat a bigger De La Hoya. He knocked out Hatton who was undefeated at the time. I don’t see Floyd as the greatest boxer of all time, but he is damn good. Will be very interesting to see how he performs against Juan Manuel Marquez and then hopefully against the winner of Pacquiao-Cotto.
MICHAEL NORBY ANSWERS: Mayweather is a wonderful talent but he in no way cleaned out any division. He drew up a careful, well thought out career blueprint with as little risk as possible and stuck to it. It’s a shame we didn’t see him take on bigger challenges.
Name : Richard Scanlan
Country : USA
Your Question :
Was saddened to read of the passing of the great Alexis Arguello. What does the team see as his best career win?
GREG JUCKETT ANSWERS: Richard, we’ve lost many greats in boxing recently…the greatest probably being Arguello. What a fantastic fighter! I’ll go with Alexis’s 1974 victory over Ruben Olivares at the LA Forum as Arguello’s best career win…great fight, great atmosphere.
PAUL UPHAM ANSWERS: I agree with Greg. Arguello’s win over Ruben Olivares was special I also enjoyed his win over Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini in October 1981, who was undefeated going into the fight.