image: NY Daily News

ON PIER 6: Bradley Nears Pacquiao, DiBella & the Maravilla Mess, Cortez Bounced, JM Lopez Returns

*****

Timothy Bradley has signed with Top Rank and will be fighting on the Pacquiao-Marquez III undercard, no doubt with an eye to matching “Desert Storm” with Pacquiao in 2012. TCS speculated about this possibility a few months ago in The Bradley Affair: Tim Bradley & the Manny Pacquiao Factor. Although Bradley is currently mired in litigation with his ex-promoter, the chronically litigious Gary Shaw, something will be worked out to the benefit of all. Since Shaw—along with his fellow cultural anthropologist and co-discoverer of Puerto Ricans, Lou DiBella—operates on the basis of making money without lifting nary a finger, he will probably drop his lawsuit against Bradley in exchange for a step aside fee or some future accommodation on a Top Rank card.

Unfortunately, Bradley will be facing an ossified Joel Casamayor, a significant miscalculation by Top Rank, since Casamayor is not only ready for radio carbon dating, but he is also almost guaranteed to produce a stinker. Showcasing Bradley in a bout that promises to be as dull and as ugly as the prose of boxingtribulation.com seems counterproductive. If competitive merit is not a factor in his return, Bradley ought to be facing someone who will at least provide a few sparks—someone like Ruslan Provodnikov, for example, or Josesito Lopez, who was unlucky in dropping a decision to Jessie Vargas two weeks ago. A Bradley-Casamayor maul-a-thon will mar the Pacquiao-Marquez III undercard and will do little to sell Bradley as a future opponent for Pacquiao.

*****

The WBO, one of the perpetually maligned sanctioning bodies, apparently recognizes what Keith Kizer, Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, does not: That Joe Cortez is a bumbling fool. Cortez, who is all Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse rolled into one when it comes to boxing, has been pulled as the third man for the Donnie Nietes-Ramon Garcia Hirales bout next week in the Philippines and has been replaced by Robert Byrd. If only Kizer—whose disinterest in bettors, fans, P-P-V consumers, and fighters is almost palpable—had that kind of common sense. Much has been written over the last two weeks about Cortez and his actions during the Mayweather-Ortiz bout (including a fine piece by Gabriel Montoya, who quotes an anonymous referee at length about the chaos of that night), but Kizer, sadly, is oblivious to all that.

*****

The Summer 2011 issue of City Journal has a fine piece written by Peter Beston on the decline of boxing in the United States over the decades. Unlike other similar articles written by journalists largely outside of the boxing purview (the New Yorker and the Atlantic, for example), Beston actually seems to have a historical frame of reference and an understanding of some of the sociological causes behind the waning popularity of the sweet science in America.

****

Sergio Martinez faces Darren Barker in Atlantic City Saturday night in a fight that might have been off the boards before the internet age. Barker may not be the equivalent of the Duke of Wellington, but he is a competent prizefighter—and that, in itself, is an accomplishment. Still, Barker has never fought on this level before, and there is no reason to think that he will suddenly enter the ring tomorrow night ready to thrash Martinez the way the “Iron Duke” whipped Napoleon at Waterloo.

The most interesting aspect surrounding Martinez-Barker, however, is the vaudeville act kick-started by Lou DiBella a couple of weeks ago. Linking Martinez with a porn star, having him make an appearance at a sporting goods store, and offering discount tickets to the entire East Coast, DiBella has tried everything so far except having some poor shlub wear a sandwich board in Chinatown, or having Martinez demonstrate the Heimlich Maneuver in a World Famous Sausage Emporium.

As comical as his efforts have been, though, this is the most promoting DiBella has done in a decade. Of course, DiBella has exactly one fighter from within 150 miles of Atlantic City scheduled for action tomorrow night: undefeated Alex Perez, who fights out of Newark. But if you like a cosmopolitan atmosphere and have managed to score a discount ticket, you can look forward to seeing fighters from Panama, London, Makhachkala, Johannesburg, and Argentina mix it up. With an ESPN2 clubfight (Bryan Vera-Andy Lee II) opening the HBO telecast, Martinez-Barker looks like a disaster all around.

As for DiBella, his recent classless behavior highlights his frustration at being able to move fighters since the heyday of Jermain Taylor. (Andre Berto is a DBE fighter in name only, despite how often DiBella howls in his defense.) Over the last couple of weeks DiBella has insinuated that Victor Ortiz is using PEDs, has engaged in a foul-mouthed back-and-forth with Paulie Malignaggi, and has bawled more than usual to any website or podcast looking to get in on the screaming meemies.

DiBella has gotten a free pass for far too long from some media members who are easily co-opted by cheap laughs and what many consider a colorful personality. But, in the end, it somehow makes sense: Because DiBella is crude and infantile, he often mirrors the sensibilities of those who fawn over him. Like Gary Shaw, DiBella brings a forum board mentality to his (non)efforts, and his blowhard attitude is at odds with his “White Knight of Boxing” shtick. (DISCLOSURE: I actually paid hard cash for roughly a dozen DBE shows in New York City over the last few years—something many co-opted writers and superior bloggers cannot say—until I woke up one morning and saw the word “Sucker” branded on my forehead. But you can just call me biased, if you want.)

In addition, DiBella also called Ortiz a “punk” and hinted that Ortiz, who was caught unprepared by two free shots from a world-class prizefighter, quit in the ring against Floyd Mayweather Jr. If Bob Arum had said such things righteous indignation would burn out servers all over North America. DiBella reached a new low mocking a beaten fighter, especially when DiBella makes his living on blood money generated by the athletes he publicly denigrates. Apparently, his plastic halo has set a new standard of biodegradability and has disintegrated after less than a decade of use. But you would hardly be able to guess that by reading what some writers—who often double as claqueurs—hunt and peck.

*****

Juan Manuel Lopez, who was hoping for an immediate rematch with Orlando Salido, will instead fight fragile Mike Oliver in Puerto Rico tomorrow night. On the surface, it appears that Salido would like to milk his title with a few soft defenses in Mexico, but behind the murky scenes acting as puppet master is a man whose name can only be preceded by the word “notorious:” Sean Gibbons, who manages/seconds Salido and once fought Mickey Rourke to a draw. In Salido, Gibbons, whose list of alleged misdeeds can fill up two sides of a 50-foot roll of papyrus, has hit the proverbial jackpot: his first real fighter with an ability to make money… above the table. The Teflon Sean of boxing, Gibbons is the kind of shadowy bit player whose name usually pops up when something nefarious happens, but now that he has Salido he might be hoping that no one ever hears his name again outside of Mexico—under any circumstances.

****

The death of Pat Petronelli a few weeks ago received little coverage, unfortunately, but these obituaries by Jim Fenton and Ron Borges provide a solid overview of the man who helped co-manage Marvin Hagler from the beginning to the end.

*****

After nearly two years of ups-and-downs, switcheroos, and mystifications, the Super Six now sees its finale succumb to auto destruction when Andre Ward suffered a cut in training last week. The bout has been rescheduled for December 17 in Atlantic City. Is it too cynical to note that after Benny Leonard retired in 1925, a wide-ranging tournament was held to determine his successor as lightweight champion and that it was completed in about five months? Fifty fighters from all over the world took part.

*****

THE INDEX

10 Boxers Who Fought While Legally Blind In At Least One Eye:

Gypsy Joe Harris, Luther “Slugger” White, Pat Valentino, George Costner, Harry Greb, Sam Langford, Sugar Ray Seales, Marvin Hart, Aaron Pryor, Pete Herman.

*****

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Tags: Darren Barker HBO Joe Cortez JUAN MANUEL LOPEZ Keith Kizer Lou DiBella Manny Pacquiao Orlando Salido Sean Gibbons SERGIO MARTINEZ TIM BRADLEY

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