The winds of August have stilled, with no real "action" fights left this month.
This upcoming week, there is ancient Evander Holyfield returning after a two-year "rest" to face a journeyman, Jeremy Bates, on Friday night. On Saturday, the premium cable highlight is young undefeated welterweight Paul Williams against the rather frayed Sharmba Mitchell — a match to give HBO’s Hasim Rahman-Oleg Maskaev bout, which was on pay-per-view, a place to hang its taped delay hat.
Showtime has a card featuring the second generation — sons of Julio Cesar Chavez, Pipino Cuevas and Jorge Paez. Don’t expect King Kong to be any of the TBA’s in opposition at this stage of the Juniors’ careers.
On Aug. 26, the only "major bout" takes place in Germany, where Arthur Abraham is -275 facing the +250 underdog Edison Miranda. I’m not going to fly the Atlantic, and risk my life, to watch over any investment in this second-string middleweight title scrap.
Nothing has changed much on my pound-for-pound list. Roughly 7Â½ months does not have the round figure associated with arbitrary recaps and I still have 700 or so words to fill.
I peeked ahead to September, not sure everything is settled. In England, Glencoffe Johnson will go after Clinton Woods again. In previous meetings, the Road Warrior was robbed with a draw, then won the rematch to set himself up for the bout with Roy Jones Jr. But that match Sept. 2 is not the big one. That takes place in the Staples Center in Los Angeles where James Toney, the pinup boy of all fat, old and bald fans, should give a boxing lesson to powerful Samuel Peter, the Nigerian Nightmare.
Hasim Rahman, who fought Toney to a draw in March, said his old rival should win that "easily." That’s what I thought until I happened to ask Holyfield about it. You need not worry about Evander’s mental health. He is still as sharp an analyst as there is in the game.
"Toney is definitely a clever boxer," said Holyfield, who turns 44 in October. "But Sammy, he swings down so you really can’t duck him. It’s like when (George) Foreman fought Joe Frazier. He hit him on the top of the head. Even if you think you’re ducking his shots, you’ll get hit in the back of the head, the back of the neck, the top of the head."
We realize Toney is not about to use foot speed to escape Peter, so Holyfield’s analysis puts a damper on what I thought would be an easy pick. I’ll have to think about this one some more.
Whew. I’m more than halfway home.
September also brings us one of the finest pay-per-view cards of the year. On top is the rematch of Marco Antonio Barrera’s close call with Rocky Juarez. Barrera got the decision, deservedly, but it shows his character when instead of moving on to perhaps easier and richer pickings, he is giving the young Texan a second chance. It was a good fight the first time and it should be even better now.
There’s another dilly at 130 pounds on that Vegas card. Jorge Barrios faces Juan Guzman, who is moving up from 122, skipping featherweight. Throw in a junior feather thriller between Israel Vasquez and Jhonny Gonzalez, a setting for junior flyweight Hugo Cazares to show his wares against Nelson Dieppa, and it’s from top to bottom one of the best shows in history. At least on paper.
Two weeks later, another little giant, flyweight champion Jorge Arce, will be featured against South Africa’s tough Hawk Makepula. September has it all, from heavyweights to the flies. For us members of the working class, they give us Labor Day. It’s not a long while before we’ll be singing our September song.
In the meantime, Ike Quartey can continue his dirge about bad decisions in this country. Frankly, scoring off television, I thought his bout with Vernon Forrest was incredibly close. Referee Arthur Mercante’s poor decision to dock the Viper a point for an accidental low blow might have been the difference. It certainly was no robbery, but the one sure bet in September is that there’ll be another verdict a lot of people won’t like.
Getting back to August, the best matchup still figures to be between Bernardini and Bluegrass Cat in the Travers.