Maybe Arce worth HBO scroll

Jan 23, 2007 3:08 AM

Curses, foiled again by HBO.

The cable network is putting on another of those strange cards with no betting interests and little curiosity value. That’s why I’m paid the big bucks, so let’s start spinning. Frankly, my advice is to find something more pertinent to read like the Magna Carta or Dead Sea Scrolls.

I jest. Actually, HBO is not the sole culprit here. Boxing promoters are.

At least the erstwhile heart and soul of boxing network will be presenting Jorge Arce, one of the large populace of fun-to-watch-even-if-you-can’t-quite-see-them little fellows.

Arce, nicknamed Travieso (meaning Menace) is a former junior flyweight and flyweight champion. He is now campaigning at superfly, or junior bantamweight (115 pounds). Arce has moved up the ladder from 108 and 112, but has obviously carried his punching power with him.

The reason many people find the Mexican slugger fun to watch is not only that he knocks out his opponents. It’s the way he attacks. I don’t know what his opponent, the Argentine Julio David Roque Ler brings to the ring in Anaheim, but from his 23-1 record and modest opposition, I surmise he is more boxer than puncher. Roque could be a foil and produce a nice fight. The problem is not Arce’s fault. It’s been going on for years and it will continue after he’s in Canastota.

The problem is that the promoters think they’re bigger than the fighters. It’s why boxing has been in long decline. Ever since Bob Arum and Don King (two "hall of famers," mind you) have been kings of the hill, many fights don’t get made. Or, they get made too late. Reason being that one fighter is with one promoter and his natural rival is with the other.

There are some lovely matches that could be made with Arce. The best ones are not possible because this time Arum is feuding with his former star Oscar de la Hoya, the president of Golden Boy Promotions.

Oh well, that’s boxing. We shrug.

Maybe we’d do better emulating our President and read Camus’ L’Etrangere. In the original French, of course. It certainly possesses more conflict and plot turns than the other HBO entry next Saturday is likely to provide. That’s when Kelly Pavlik, another of Arum’s carefully protected youngsters, goes against Jose Luis Zertuche of Mexico.

Zertuche is no bum. He is a 33-year-old veteran with a listed 19-3-2 record and 14 knockouts. I suspect he’s had more fights than that. That age and his height of 5-foot-10 make him a bit vulnerable to the talented 6-foot-2 Pavlik, a 24-year-old middleweight.

Pavlik obviously can punch a bit, and not only because Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler has been out working with a shovel to find opponents. Tramper, who also helped build the early careers for de la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr., can dig up guys long of tooth possessing both good names and records.

A couple of fights back, for example, Pavlik blasted former junior middle champion Bronco McKart. Once upon a time that would have been a noteworthy achievement. Now it can be shrugged off with a "So what?"

Zertuche may not have as much as McKart used to, but he probably has more left than McKart did when facing Pavlik. The old Ohio mill town that produced Pavlik, also were home for a couple of comparatively recent lightweight champs in Ray (Boom Boom) Mancini and Harry Arroyo. Both have been friendly role models for The Ghost.

I suspect Pavlik (29-0, 26 KO) is no stiff at age 24, despite the tender handling. Trampler must be given credit for matching him, in getting victories and experience against different styles.

I’m not sure just how far Pavlik can go in this business. Certainly, he’ll go past Zertuche. The only reason you can’t bet on it is because I don’t know any linemakers silly enough to waste time on this presentation. I suspect Pavlik is ready for some top ten fighters in the not-very-deep middleweight division. After all, he did give Jermain Taylor, the top guy at 160, a tussle in the amateurs.

Zertuche is probably the right guy to feed Pavlik now. I just don’t understand why HBO insists on feeding him to us.