Because of Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, let us give Showtime a pass for its monthly boxing card. In fact, Corrales-Castillo was so good we can give the network a pass for that pay-per-fraud show it did with Mike Tyson quitting.
This week’s event from Reno won’t be as good or as bad. It is hardly worth mentioning in betting terms. But life isn’t all about gambling, you know. There are other things.
At least, I think there are.
So while we stop to smell the roses, we can also perhaps glimpse the future of heavyweight boxing on Showtime, which on July 2 features the undefeated Nigerian Nightmare, Samuel Peter.
Peter, besides having two first names (John Glenn, Trevor Howard, Billy Joel and Julius Caesar come immediately to mind), has two big powerful hands and one punch from either side can be enough to starch an opponent. His left hook that floored Jeremy (Half- Man, Half-Amazing and No Chin) Williams was one of the most artistic punches seen in years. He could bring excitement back to a division, which just watched Mike Tyson leave, biting, scratching, butting and sitting.
Peter can also talk. Sometimes, he sounds like Floyd Mayweather Jr. supersized, blabbing that he is already the best in the world. Good, if the division is going to have a new leader. Let him not be an introvert.
The bad news is that Showtime is allowing him to face Taurus Sykes, yes, "that" Taurus Sykes.
It could be like watching a scheduled 12-round boxing lesson. Sykes, 30, and from the Borough of Champions in Boxing, the same Brooklyn that gave us Tyson and Riddick Bowe, is a pretty fair boxer. At 240 pounds, he probably won’t be giving away much "avoirdupois" to Peter, who generally comes in around 247. Sykes is 23-1-1 with the lone loss a six- rounder to then-unbeaten Owen Beck, still a top 15 heavyweight after a sole defeat to Monte Barrett. The draw was against Imamu Mayfield, a former cruiserweight champion.
What makes Peter’s scheduled defense of the minor NABF and USBA belts compelling is that he’s the only puncher. Peter has 20 knockouts on his 23-0 record. Sykes has six, including just one in his last 15 starts. He doesn’t figure to be able to hold off the unbeaten Peter.
The Nightmare is still very raw. His Vegas trainer, Pops Johnson, wants him to work more on cutting off rings, trapping guys in corners and on the ropes. He also wants Peter to remember jabbing and throwing combinations.
It is very nice of Showtime to pay Peter for these lessons against Sykes. Frankly, I never thought education was much of a spectator sport (well, yes, back then, I did have my eyes on a few coeds). Certainly it isn’t a betting game.
Yes, the summer doldrums are here. On July 9, there are no weekly Showtime or HBO cards and the biggest event Stateside may be both Hector Camachos, Sr. and Jr., appearing on a card together in Tucson, which is not far enough into the desert to suit some of us.
But boxing has had a sensational run in 2005, from Zab to Arturo. Judah knocked out Cory Spinks in February, Gatti faced Floyd Mayweather Jr. to close June.
In between, there have been such classics as Corrales-Castillo, Erik Morales-Manny Pacquiao, Winky Wright-Felix Trinidad Jr., Ricky Hatton-Kostya Tszyu, Antonio Tarver-Glencoffe Johnson II and such meaningful bouts as James (The Juice) Toney-John Ruiz, Jean-Marc Mormeck-Wayne Braithwaite, Calvin Brock-Jameel McCline. Yes, even Lamon Brewster-Foul Pole Golota.
With Brock and Brewster, and quite possibly Peter, maybe there is some life in the old heavyweight division, after all. Do not despair. On July 16, Bernard Hopkins faces what could be a very dangerous challenge in young Jermain Taylor, a bout that certainly warrants skipping a day at the beach, especially if you live in the desert.
Showtime gets back in August with its card for the first Saturday of the month, matching Jeff Lacy with a former 168-pound champ, Robin Reid. The following week, Hasim Rahman and Monte Barrett meet for the right to be ducked by Vitali Klitschko. The rest of the year, boxing could be swimming in big fights — there is now an accepted belief that good fighters can face each other without the world stopping.
Just as you thought it was safe to go back in the water, though, there is the Lucia Rijker-Christy Martin shindig July 30. Clint Eastwood turned F.X. Toole’s short story "Million Dollar Baby" into an Academy Award film. Bob Arum is turning it into a shlock pay-per-view card featuring two biddies, Rijker and Martin, who should be co-starring in "Golden Girls."