One month into the New Year and we already have legitimate candidates for round of the year, fight of the year, upset of the year and scandal of the decade.
February intrigues, too.
The best fight on the docket so far (and that includes the projected mismatch between Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton) is Feb. 28 in Houston with Juan Manuel Marquez defending the lightweight title against former title-holder Juan Diaz.
On paper, and I’m sure in the ring, this should produce more excitement than even the leader in the clubhouse, Andre Berto’s comeback victory over Luis Collazo.
There can’t be a major upset because going in, Marquez is not that big a favorite (though maybe he should be, hint, hint, hint). But Sugar Shane Mosley’s unraveling of Antonio Margarito will remain the upset of 2009 for a while, methinks.
Unfortunately, Mosley’s brilliant performance was overshadowed by the appearance of serious cheating in the other corner, or at least dressing room. If indeed Margarito’s gloves were "packed" with a so-called "plaster-like" pad, lifetime bans for the guilty are in order.
And if the gloves are found by the California commission to have been loaded, then Margarito’s previous victories over such as Miguel Cotto, Kermit Cintron and Joshua Clottey all will need asterisks. But boxing has always ignored proverbial black eyes.
And, it moves right along with another potential barnburner this coming Saturday to get us ready for fights later this month featuring Nate Campbell, Cotto and Kelly Pavlik before we get to Marquez and Diaz.
Fast Eddie Schuyler, the great former Associated Press fight writer, says Pacquiao-Hatton would be on the undercard of any Marvelous Marvin Hagler bout. True, F.E. may be overlooking the marketability of today’s stars, but back when Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran were mixing it up, it is very unlikely Pacquiao or Hatton would have been as big as Aaron Pryor, for example.
Which leads us to this week’s main event, which should be highly anticipated by the sadists in the crowd. There will be blood on the Pond at Anaheim, and on Showtime, when Vic Darchinyan, the Raging Bull from Armenia and Australia (in that order), defends his world superflyweight championship against Jorge Arce, the popular Mexican who wears a cowboy hat and sucks a red lollipop on the way to the ring.
It’ll be fun while it lasts and both guys promise it won’t. Darchinyan is the big favorite (-330 or so last time I walked into a casino) seems the fresher fighter despite being 33 compared to Arce’s 29.
The loud-mouth Bull – he calls his opponent "Farce" and says that in the Year of the Ox – is a ferocious puncher. Maybe we can excuse his lone loss, against 31 victories (25 KOs) because he was still struggling to make 112 pounds when stopped in 6 by Nonito Donaire in 2007.
Darchinyan, usually a bit wild from his southpaw stance, showed much more acuteness in destroying Cristian Mijares in 9 last Nov. 1. Mijares was on everybody’s pound-for-pound list. Once upon a time, so was Arce, but he was always a bit over-rated.
Mind you, while I strongly favor Darchinyan here, although probably not enough to bet on,
Moving on to the European scene, I’ve seen odds as high as 25-1 and low as 8-1 for Rulan Chagaev to successfully retain his tainted WBA heavyweight title this Saturday in Mecklenburg, Germany, even though he faces an undefeated challenger.
Anyone else hear of Carl Davis Drumond? Anyone else know of another fighter from Costa Rica? Drumond has registered only one of his 26 victories (20 KO’s) outside Costa Rica.
Drumond beat a 15-20-1 journeyman, Ramon Hayes, in Florida on points over eight rounds. Chagaev, who has been recovering from injuries for a year, is not much, but has a draw with Nikolai Valuev and a split decision over John Ruiz.
Better buys are on the way.