By Jason Pribila: While I do not expect my first boxing article in over a month to cause as many waves as “Money” Mayweather’s “tweet” that officially ended the future Hall of Famer’s retirement, I am confident that at least 20 of my 30+ followers on Twitter are curious about my take on the upcoming fight schedule. Either curious or happy I’m not subjecting them to another link to an obscure 80’s music video.
For the second straight year the first Saturday of May left me with a huge serving of humble-pie courtesy of Shane Mosley’s non-efforts. Mosley will always be one of my favorite fighters, and I’m glad he ended his career with his profession’s version of a gold watch. I just wish Mosley would have shown a little more for his fans who contributed to the fruit of his labor out of their own entertainment funds.
That being said, this article is not about looking in the rear-view, but rather looking forward to the attractive events boxing fans could truly look forward to.
Wladimir Klitschko vs David Haye This evening, HBO aired their latest version of “Face-off with Max Kellerman”. This 15-minute segment was more intense than anything the heavyweight division has offered us since Vitali Klitschko threw down with Lennox Lewis. It is only fitting that this aired the week after Mike Tyson was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Love or hate Tyson, he was always must-see television. Something the division has not been able to boast since he was last counted out.
Your opinion of Klitschko and Haye won’t change after seeing this interview. Many feel that the Klitschko Brothers’ domination of the division has been the reason why American airwaves have spent their money on the lower weight classes. Haye’s brashness will turn off a lot of fans, and it is not an approach I ever adopted when I was considered an athlete, but I have always admired those who talked a lot in contact sports. If people don’t want to hear them talk, they have the opportunity to make them eat their words. One finally gets the sense that Klitschko won’t need Manny Steward to plead with him to “knock this effer out”!
Whether or not this fight lives up to the hype remains to be seen. But we finally have a major fight that will not have an over/under of 11.5 rounds. Someone is going to get knocked out, and for fans that have turned their ADD to MMA, this could finally be a fight that brings them back to heavyweight boxing. Even if it is only for 12 rounds or less.
Amir Khan vs Zab Judah
I get the feeling that I am not the only one that slept like a baby when Timothy Bradley opted not to fight Amir Khan on July 23. Instead we get two talented, but vulnerable titlists that need each other to thrust themselves into a huge money fight against the PFP elite, and quiet their critics. The other, as Denny Green would say, will be viewed as “who we thought they were”.
Boxing in Bethlehem
Hall of Fame promoter, Russell Peltz, is bringing his brand of boxing to my hometown of Bethlehem, PA. on July 1. The main event will feature homegrown welterweight Ronald Cruz (12-0, 9 KO) facing off against rugged veteran, Doel Carrasquillo. I have had the pleasure of following Cruz’s previous fights in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, and have been impressed by the fact that he seems to improve each time he enters the ring. The Puerto Rican born Cruz features a devastating body attack, and reacts like a fighter whenever he tastes leather. How he reacts to headlining his first main event at the inaugural fight card at the new Sands Casino will tell us a lot about his mental make-up.
I have told some fellow scribes who may be coming into town for this event that I have some bar tabs open downtown. So if you would not mind chipping away at the totals, I’d appreciate it.
Brandon Rios – Urbano Antillon
Top Rank CEO, Bob Arum, predicted that this lightweight showdown will be the “Fight of the Year”. That is refreshing to hear from a promoter who has been instead putting on the sport’s biggest events. This may be the purest fight fans’ fight on the schedule. Neither Rios nor Antillon know how to take a step backward. Each feel that a good offense is their best defense and the animosity they showed towards each other during their press conference leads us to believe that each man will opt to go “no huddle”.
Rios and Antillon know a victory will propel them to the top of a division that will soon be vacated by champion, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Robert Guerrero. My guess is that this will be a fight that will cause each fighter’s stock to rise. It is also a pretty safe bet that this fight will reduce HBO’s offering of Paul Williams – Erislandy Lara to be picked up by the DVR.
Mike Jones – Homecoming
Philadelphia boxing fans have been able to boast about the record-breaking performance that Bernard Hopkins put on by becoming the oldest fighter to ever win a title. The only problem is that B-Hop performed to a full house in Canada. For as great as Hopkins has been, he never became a ticket-seller in the City of Brotherly Love. His virtuoso performance against Kelly Pavlik took place 40 minutes away at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, but it took place in front of a partisan crowd that took the road trip from Youngstown, Ohio.
Jones is coming off back to back wins against Jesus Soto-Karass that allowed him to get national exposure on HBOPPV and HBO. Rather than waiting for another chance to perform on the “Network of Champions”, Jones is taking a stay-busy fight against Raul Munoz at the South Philly Arena on June 25. This is my favorite venue to cover a fight, and it is a great opportunity for fans to get up close and personal with a fighter on the verge of filling up much bigger venues.
Victor Ortiz – Floyd Mayweather Jr.
No one could discuss a Mayweather or Pacquiao fight without mentioning the fact that they should be fighting each other. However, after coming off a long layoff, and taking on a fighter who just registered the biggest win of his career, this fight is nothing to boycott.
Pacquiao has replaced Mayweather as the sport’s biggest draw, but no one builds up a fight quite like Mayweather. There is no doubt that the HBO cameras will roll for an edition of “24/7”, and Uncle Roger and Floyd Sr. will be sure to share their wisdom. However, there could actually be a more compelling story if HBO is once again able to track down Vic Sr. Time to cue Liev Schrieber.
I am looking forward to sharing my take on these and many more quality fights that should give fight fans plenty to tweet about.
Jason Pribila is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He could be reached for questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at PribsBoxing.
June 16, 2011