The best fighter in the world, it says here, is in what once was an intriguing matchup. But even Floyd Mayweather Jr. has to be overshadowed by other developments in Las Vegas.
The news ain’t so good.
Marc Ratner, whose first name must be "Esteemed" from all the headlines I’ve seen, has decided to walk away from the executive director’s post at the Nevada State Athletic Commission. In very trying conditions, he managed to give boxing an aura of respectability.
Ratner is doing it for money, going over to Ultimate Fighting Championships, for considerable more than his state salary. At the age of 61, he must think first of providing for his family.
But as Gene Kilroy, the Great Facilitator and one of my dearest friends, said, "Those are awfully big shoes to fill."
I always thought Marc should have been named the first head of a federal boxing commission. I don’t know what size feet Keith Kizer has, but at least the former assistant state attorney general and once legal counsel for the athletic commission comes highly recommended by Ratner himself.
Actually, I think Kilroy himself has big enough feet.
Kizer, named by the commission to succeed Ratner, has a working knowledge of the day-to-day dealings. He has been involved in some of the most heated arguments in Nevada ring history — the Mike Tyson biting, Fernando Vargas steroids and Joe Mesi’s battle against the state’s medical ban.
But I don’t think he has the kind of credentials Kilroy has with the participants. Not only did Gene spend 12 years working for Muhammad Ali, he has befriended virtually every fighter who has passed through Vegas, where he has lived for 27 years. These fighters range from Tyson to the Klitschko brothers to Mayweather himself.
Plus, he worked for virtually every major player in the casino industry. Gene is such a straight shooter that even promoters like Don King and Bob Arum would have had to respect him.
On to Mayweather
Ah, woulda, coulda, shoulda. I don’t know if Kilroy would have even accepted the job had it been offered. No sense dwelling on it when Zab Judah is +300 or more to upset Mayweather. Judah is a talent, no question, and his surprising loss to journeyman Carlos Baldomir shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Thing is, Mayweather was a deserved - 500 favorite anyway. He’s that good, maybe the best in a long, long time.
A couple of years ago, after moving up to 135 pounds, he talked about facing Oscar de la Hoya. Oscar was going up to middleweight. Most of us laughed. Now that Pretty Boy is fighting at 147, I daresay most boxing writers (that’s me and Kevin Iole, of course) would make Floyd the favorite over the Golden Boy if that fight is made for September. Oscar has a rougher assignment May 6 against hard-punching Ricardo Mayorga than Mayweather figures to have against Judah.
What is interesting, of course, is that Mayweather is not exactly a lock, the way he was against Arturo Gatti last year, for example. Judah can punch, has great hand speed — almost as good as Mayweather’s — good foot movement and is a southpaw. But as Floyd points out, it takes three things to make it — head, heart and chin. He says Zab is lacking in chin.
No question. When a Baldomir can turn him into a wireless marionette with a single blow, he does not figure to be able to withstand Mayweather’s combinations. As long as Mayweather’s once-brittle hands hold up, he should get Judah out of there.
Another word of caution: This will be the third major matchup between fighters promoted respectively by Bob Arum and Don King. So far, King leads, 2-0 - Roberto Duran over Sugar Ray Leonard in the first fight and Felix Trinidad Jr. over de la Hoya.
This is really Arum’s show, though, and he has at least given us two better betting fights on the pay-per-view undercard next Saturday at the Thomas & Mack.
Jorge Arce, who is on the fringe of making a lot of pound-for-pound lists, is defending an interim flyweight title against tough Rosendo Alvarez, who gave the great Ricardo Lopez the only blemish on his record (a draw). Alvarez, however, is moving up in weight and is long in tooth. Arce, whose defense is sometimes very lax, should dominate.
In a lightweight "title" bout, Juan Diaz — the Houston pre-law student and something-or-other champ (yeah, I get confused by all the alphabets), defends against Miguel Cotto’s undefeated big brother, Jose Miguel Cotto. I’ve never seen the other Cotto, so I have no opinion, but it should be a good matchup. Perfunctory on any Arum pay-per-view card is an appearance by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.