The First Quarter
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Jan 23, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
Victor Ortiz
Ken Hershman and Stephen Espinoza have not been at their jobs all that long at HBO and Showtime, respectively. However, their networks already have their first quarter of boxing programming set. When people think about big-time boxing in America, it's usually defined by what's on these premium cable giants. This upcoming weekend was supposed to be HBO's inaugural edition of 2012 before Erik Morales was felled by gallstone surgery, pushing his bout against Danny Garcia back till late March. But here's what you'll be seeing the next few months for that extra 25 bucks on your cable bill.
-February 4th (HBO): Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Marco Antonio Rubio/Nonito Donaire vs. Wilfredo Vazquez Jr: I'll say it right now; I think Rubio beats Junior (yeah, read it again, I didn't stutter). I think that  Rubio is the best fighter Chavez Jr. has been paired with thus far in his career and he brings a stout right hand. As always, you have to wonder just how professionally Junior is preparing for this assignment. As for the opener in the Alamodome in San Antonio, you have a pair of boxers on the rebound, Donaire, in a win that felt like a loss (a desultory victory over Omar Narvaez) and Vazquez, who was halted by Jorge Arce. If the “Filipino Flash” is really part of the pound-for-pound elite many believe he is, he should handle his business here and take care of Vazquez.
K9 Rating (1-5 gloves): 3 gloves
- February 11th (SHO): Victor Ortiz vs. Andre Berto II/Erislandy Lara vs. Ronald Hearns/Gary Russell vs. TBA: The main event this night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is a much anticipated rematch of one of the best fights of 2011. If it's anything like that slugfest we got last April, we'll have another exciting bout between two hard-hitting, fun-yet flawed- fighters. Now, the stuff that precedes it isn't so great. I guess Lara getting Hearns is Golden Boy's way of making it up to the Cuban for barely saying a peep about his robbery at the hands of Paul Williams last July (Golden Boy couldn't or wouldn't say too much since Williams is an Al Haymon client). And the ultra-talented Russell Jr. goes from getting TBAs on HBO to Showtime.
K9 Rating: 4 gloves
- February 18th (SHO): Paul Williams vs. Nobu Ishida/ Tavoris Cloud-Gabriel Campillo: Let's be honest here; while Williams-Ishida is the listed main event, the best fight on this bill is between IBF light heavyweight titlist Cloud and the tough-luck Campillo. Folks, I think Cloud, who has been dormant for the better part of three years, is ripe for the picking and Campillo is a long, lean southpaw who isn't afraid to throw punches. The question now is, will he finally win a close decision? As for the featured bout of the night, can lightning strike twice for Ishida?
K9 Rating: 3 gloves
- February 25th (HBO): Devon Alexander vs. Marcos Maidana/Adrien Broner vs. Eloy Perez: OK, I know I'm in the minority but I really like this Alexander-Maidana main event. Many of you out there have a certain distaste for Alexander in the wake of how his fight with Tim Bradley ended and the continued home-cooking he seemingly gets in St.Louis (where this bout will be hosted at the Scottrade Center). This is the classic boxer-puncher match-up and I think this will be a closely contested match throughout (and yes, in my opinion, it's a huge advantage for Alexander that this fight is a ten-rounder). Broner is a flashy, fast boxer but, trust me, the technical acumen and schooling of Perez will make life very difficult for him on this night. Remember, while “The Problem” has been dominant in recent fights, it wasn't too long ago when Daniel Ponce de Leon gave him fits just by simply sticking out his jab.
K9 Rating: 4.5 gloves
- March 3rd (HBO) Brandon Rios/Yuriorkis Gamboa: Right now, this show is very unsettled (to say the least). It looks like Johnny Molina and his promoter, Dan Goossen, couldn't see eye-to-eye on the money and other issues, so “Bam Bam” is left without a fight. Just as well, it's not clear who Gamboa will face on this date. Hey, why not just have Rios and Gamboa face each other next if it's that difficult to find opponents for them?
K9 Rating: Incomplete
- March 10th (SHO): Orlando Salido vs. Juan Manuel Lopez II/Mikey Garcia vs. TBA: If everything works out, I'm planning to make this my first trip to the island of Puerto Rico. Last year, while Ortiz and Berto had their donnybrook, Salido and “JuanMa” were waging on their own back-and-forth battle, seeing the Puerto Rican star upended by a barrage of right hands from the rugged Mexican. Does “Siri” just have Lopez’s number or was “JuanMa” his own worst enemy going into that fight with a host of personal issues and distractions? In his last bout, Salido was nearly knocked out in shocking fashion by Weng Haya in a non-title affair. As for the rising Garcia, it's not clear who he will face on this night at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum but he is slated to face the winner of Salido-Lopez II later on in 2012.
K9 Rating: 4.5 gloves
- March 17th (HBO): Sergio Martinez vs. Matthew Macklin/Edwin Rodriguez vs. Donovan George: Well, Martinez's boycott of HBO sure didn’t last long, did it? Anyway, his return comes against another European, this time in Macklin, who took Felix Sturm to the brink in Germany. The co-feature should be a fun fight between Rodriguez and George (perhaps even earning the subtitle, “A Tale of Two Bombs,” considering both fighters’ nicknames), serving as a nice warm-up act at the Theater in Madison Square Garden.

K9 Rating: 3.5 gloves
- March 24th (HBO): Erik Morales vs. Danny Garcia/James Kirkland vs. Carlos Molina: I don't think I have to sell you too much on these fights. Morales is facing a hungry, young lion who seems to have every single physical advantage going on- but wasn't that the case against Maidana last year? Unlike the hard-hitting Argentine, Garcia is about speed and quickness, posing a whole 'nother set of problems for “El Terrible.” As for the other fight, hey, if Kirkland's involved, sign me up. Houston, we have no problems here.
K9 Rating: 5 gloves
While the rematch between Ortiz and Berto is anticipated by the hardcore boxing fan, it must not be doing well at the box-office of the MGM Grand. The hotel is sending out emails to their VIPs and players, offering complimentary rooms and tickets for that weekend. I've said from the beginning that the selection of Las Vegas was an uninspired choice to host this event. Again, unless it has a Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather on the marquee, most other boxing events in this jurisdiction struggle for the most part.
Not sure where this rematch would've done well, to be honest, but what it also shows you is that while some just scream from the mountaintops that the way to fix boxing is just putting on the best fights, that's only half of the equation. Creating attractions and putting events in the appropriate locations is also paramount to the overall health of the business. Promoting is extremely and essentially important.
In the case of Berto, all the HBO appearance fights in the world couldn't make him into an attraction- not even being in a “Fight of the Year” candidate.
I thought the kickoff of “Fight Night” on the NBC Sports Network went as well as could be reasonably expected considering the circumstances. But to expound on my aforementioned point, Main Events understood where this card was being held, exercising geographic logic by featuring a pair of Philly heavyweights(Bryant Jennings and Maurice Byarm) after Eddie Chambers pulled out the scheduled main event versus Sergei Liakhovich.
It ended up a pretty decent scrap. The audience at the Asylum Arena was into it because they had a rooting interest in the fight. As you saw, it made for better television.
Herman Cain had his 9-9-9 plan. Floyd Mayweather allegedly told Manny Pacquiao that, if should they ever meet, there would be no 50/50 split (which, in my opinion, makes this whole negotiation as non-starter). Well, I have a solution; since both boxers are bona fide attractions, who bring a lot to the table, I suggest each man get a guaranteed 45 percent of all the profits. The winner gets the remaining 10 percent.
Now that's putting the “prize” back into prizefighting.
Daniel Ponce de Leon and Leo Santa Cruz scored dominant KO victories in Ensenada this weekend...Did DeMarcus Corley really defeat Gabriel Bracero in New York?...David Quijano and Javier Gallo put on a good show in Puerto Rico, with Quijano taking the 10-round decision...I think the Lakers got exposed for what they really are in Florida...Can Showtime stop putting Gus Johnson's voice on fights he never called?...Lee Evans is now the Bill Buckner of Baltimore...As for Joe Flacco, that loss shouldn't be put on him. I thought, outside of that bad INT and perhaps missing Vonta Leach in the flat near the end zone, he played well...Is Vince Wilfork a Hall-of-Famer? He has a pretty strong case, doesn't he?...So how will you remember Joseph Vincent Paterno?...

More of Steve's recent work below his contact info...
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