The New Year, boxing-wise, begins with the resumption of Friday Night Fights on ESPN2. However, we prefer to wait for something more enticing than Yuriolkis Gamboa as a 40-1 favorite offshore (down from 50-1, mind you) vs. someone named Roberto Gonzalez.
Hell, if Gonzalez has both a pulse and two hands, Gamboa isn’t worth that kind of risk, not with his defense. There will be plenty of opportunities this year to try and get even for a lifetime of frivolity, though I’m not certain Sugar Shane Mosley at +300 against Antonio Margarito later this month is a prime example.
Many a lock is upcoming. Perhaps Oscar de la Hoya against Julio Cesar Chavez III (this time against Junior, though Senior probably would offer more resistance). I dubbed the Golden Boy "Chicken de la Hoya" back when meekly following promoter Bob Arum’s dictates refused to give Pernell Whitaker a rematch of their controversial bout.
I kept the name active to honor de la Hoya’s bravery in never personally telling any of his discarded trainers they had been fired. He was no Chicken in the ring, though his faint-hearted running tactics against Felix Trinidad cost him a victory. Plus, there are those who wonder whether he really tried to stand up from that Bernard Hopkins body blow.
But de la Hoya fought bravely, win or lose in my mind, against Whitaker, Ike Quartey, Fernando Vargas, Mosley, even Floyd Mayweather Jr. In my mind, he hasn’t been The Chicken in years. But now, after his terrible effort against Manny Pacquiao, there is talk of one more fight, against the young acorn who fell far, far from the Culiacan tree. There can be only one reason for this "farewell" victory lap – greed.
The Chicken has become a Pig.
His enablers (and Oscar’s sway among the so-called boxing
writers has become golden) already are saying they wouldn’t mind such a
matchup. It would enrich Golden Boy Promotions, Arum’s Top Rank (which directs
young Chavez) and sully the game.
Okay, it’s a game that can hardly be sullied, but tell me that HBO or anyone else will be strong enough to tell de la Hoya to skip this outrageous match.
Boxing 2009 does not need such crap detracting from possible real fights, like Glen Johnson vs. anyone with a title, or Kelly Pavlik-Arthur Abraham – another match Chicken Arum is sure to quash rather than risk his star.
Arum in the Hall of Fame as a promoter? Please.
There is a big fight of interest that could happen in 2009, with Arum as at least the co-promoter. That would match Manny Pacquiao, the current pound-for-pound No. 1, against his predecessor, the still-undefeated and soon-to-be-unretired Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The Pretty Boy, who now prefers "Money" as his nickname needs only his father not to ruin the biggest fight of the year. Floyd Sr. is training Ricky Hatton, Pacquiao’s projected May 2 opponent, and so far the elder Mayweather has improved the Mad Hatton considerably, especially in his footwork.
Another training camp with the world’s self-acclaimed best trainer and Hatton could make things interesting. And there is no interest in Floyd Jr. doing another paint job on the English icon.
Looking forward, it looks like Winky Wright is coming back and will face Paul Williams this spring. That should lead to bigger and better things for the winner (from here, Williams, I should think). Mosley is a live underdog against Margarito, who already has lined up a rematch with Miguel Cotto. Chad Dawson would be fun to watch against myriad opponents (including in a rematch against Glen Johnson).
Alas, there remains the heavyweight division. Until the alleged flagship division discovers a new battlewagon, it will continue to sink the entire sport. It is not the fault of de la Hoya, Arum or even Don King. Newspaper sports editors do not take boxing seriously because there is no Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson to capture their feeble imaginations.
Vitali Klitschko may be a menace in the ring, but he does nothing to stir the drink. Maybe next week we can analyze a fight or two.