I have written a lot of columns for this website but none have been more fun to write or think about than this one. Once or twice a week I can just sit at the computer and go off; it is free, blissful, and most importantly therapeutic to boxing. I guarantee there is a little something for everyone.
Photo © HBO-PPV
That brings me to this week. There is a lot going on before the big Bernard Hopkins versus Jermain Taylor PPV this Saturday in Las Vegas, and I want to cover all of it. In this edition you will get some Vernon Forrest, Hopkins and Taylor separately, Winky Wright, Zab Judah versus Sharmba Mitchell and much more on this edition of Ranting and Raving.
Vernon Forrest’s long awaited return: Injuries and such have kept ‘The Viper’ from staying active recently, but this Saturday night on the Hopkins-Taylor undercard Forrest gets back into the ring at junior middleweight to take on the 6-1 Sergio Rios.
To me this is a bittersweet return. Yeah on one hand it is great to see Forrest back in the ring, but on the other hand couldn’t you find someone more experienced and noteworthy than Rios? I know you want to protect an inactive fighter but this is ridiculous. With an opponent like this it makes me question how bad Forrest wants to be a serious contender again. Hopefully he proves me wrong but until he starts fighting people you can even qualify as journeymen, I will remain skeptical.
Bernard Hopkins’ future before 41: Think of the great champions of this era and what happened to them by the age of 40. Lennox Lewis was retired before 40, Holyfield was shot beyond repair and losing to James Toney and Larry Donald, Felix Trinidad was spanked by both Hopkins and Winky Wright, and Roy Jones is years away from 40 and still in quasi-retirement after two brutal knockout losses.
That speaks for itself, doesn’t it? The fact that Hopkins is not only much more competitive than any of those names at this age, but the fact that he is an undisputed world champion and disputed pound for pound champion!
That being said it is all tarnished a little bit if Hopkins is neutralized by the young gun, Jermain Taylor. If Hopkins loses this fight he will still be largely remembered as one of the greatest middleweights of all time, but his aura of invincibility to father time will be cracked a little bit.
A Hopkins victory however presents limitless post-Taylor possibilities. Hopkins has expressed interest in fighting light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver and then possibly calling it a career. I personally would like to see Hopkins take on Wright before leaving the middleweight division, but who can argue with the money comparison between Wright and Tarver. Fact is Hopkins won’t nor should he stick around for Winky when the price tag to fight Tarver will be a nice payday to leave the ring on, win lose or draw. I am not going to be one of these airheads who says that Hopkins is ducking Wright. Listen, Winky had his chance to take on B-Hop before he fought Shane Mosley. He missed the train and will have to settle for fishing for vacant titles left behind by Bernard.
Jermain Taylor’s future post B-Hop: Win or lose Taylor has a bright future at middleweight and above. If he loses to Hopkins but looks competitive, Bernard will pass the torch to the next middleweight champion. If Jermain wins, Bernard has the torch snatched from him. The only way Jermain can lose in this situation is by getting shutout or losing by a blowout stoppage. In reality Taylor only has to look good and hang in there with Hopkins to win credibility and acclaim.
Let’s face it, not many are picking Taylor to win and for good reason. He is young, green, and has not fought a legitimate top 10 middleweight yet. Hopkins, based on common sense and disregarding father time, should throw Taylor so many looks that ‘Bad Intentions’ will be bewildered by what the wily old veteran is throwing his way. My opinion, Taylor is not experienced or tough enough (not to say he isn’t tough) to beat a legend in Hopkins.
Winky Wright: Poor Winky. He finally gains his due respect by beating Shane Mosely twice and taking Trinidad to school, and once again he comes out on the short end of the stick. Does this guy have bad timing or what? He cleans out 154lbs once Trinidad and De La Hoya have left, and then he gets to middleweight just as Bernard Hopkins is leaving!
Maybe this is not all bad for Ronald Wright. Maybe this is what he needs to build a legacy for himself late in his career. Wins over Howard Eastman, Felix Sturm, and/or Kingsley Ikeke could really pad his ledger with the best middleweights in the world. Throw heir apparent Jermain Taylor in the mix and Winky can make or break his place in history in the middleweight division. The money might not be on the superstar level but the recognition will be in the eyes of boxing scholars.
Judah-Mitchell: Why? Why? Why?! If Zab Judah is trying to create a sneaking suspicion in the media’s eyes that he is afraid of Antonio Margarito, it is working great. Let’s go over what it takes to get a shot at the undisputed welterweight championship shall we? Do you win a version of the title, literally box a man’s ear off, beat a formerly undefeated prospect soundly, and call out the champ? Or do you get blown out 7lbs lighter by Kostya Tsyzu, and then win a technical decision over Chris Smith in your debut at 147? If you answered yes to the first question you are an absolute fool! When was the last time boxing rewarded a man for staying active and actually fighting tough competition to get a title shot?
While Sharmba Mitchell might put on an entertaining fight for a few rounds, he is ultimately KO fodder for the exciting Judah. Wake me up when he signs to fight Antonio Margarito.
And finally to close out this LONG version of Ranting and Raving we go to… Emanuel Augustus: This is where I usually end with a wisecrack, but Augustus’ class against Ray Oliveira is noteworthy to say the least. Guys like Augustus don’t get heard of much in boxing amidst crooked decisions and greedy promoters, but his decision to stop hitting an obviously hurt Oliveira in the head was about as classy and professional as it gets. Hats off to Emanuel Augustus.
Dog Bites: Ranting and Raving, Edition 1
Dog Bites: Ranting and Raving, Edition 2
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