Instead of enjoying the afterglow of his stunning knockout victory over Fernando Montiel last February, Nonito Donaire spent the next few months in legal wrangles with Top Rank. Tomorrow night, however, Donaire returns to the ring against Omar Narvaez at the WAMU Theater in New York City. Unfortunately, despite a 35-0-2 record, a southpaw stance, and alphabet titles in two divisions, Narvaez is looking at the possibility of being temporarily separated from his senses.
Narvaez is a solid world-class fighter, but that simply is not enough to challenge Donaire at this stage. In addition, Narvaez will be moving up a weight and, at 5’3, appears too small to be much of a challenge for “The Filipino Flash.” Some are comparing this matchup to the recent Sergio Martinez-Darren Barker bout, but Barker, despite his talent, cannot match resumes with Narvaez. “El Huracan” has faced a much higher grade of opposition than Barker and has been doing so regularly since 2002, when he defeated Adonis Rivas for a flyweight title. Since then, Narvaez has won another title at 115 pounds and has fought several times on the road, including successful title defenses in Italy, France, and Spain. Still, unless Donaire is rusty after an eight-month layoff, expect him to play Human Demolition Derby with Narvaez. Donaire will be an Abrams tank, and Narvaez will rev his little engine at the opening bell as a Mini-Cooper.
There is no telling what to believe when it comes to the recent brouhaha between the camps of Sergio Martinez and Dimitry Pirog. Certainly Team Pirog has made some statements that sound utterly fantastical. On the other hand, since most DiBella news seems to be filtered through his fan club (which includes the insipid Mike Coppinger, who, apparently, calls DiBella every morning for advice on what color nylons to wear), there is no point in believing any of his public rebuttals either.
After flattening the overhyped and underwhelming Danny Jacobs last year, Pirog found himself where many fighters wind up without the right connections: Nowheresville. A high-profile KO over an HBO darling did little for Pirog, based in Russia and represented in the U.S. by Artie Pelello. Now, with talk of Pirog and Daniel Geale possibly meeting on Showtime on December 31, maybe a viable candidate can be found to face Martinez next spring. If Pirog can score an impressive win over Daniel Geale, it might force HBO to acknowledge him as legitimate competition for Martinez. No doubt Pirog was instantaneously overrated after abusing Jacobs, but it was still a marquee win, and that distinction is something Darren Barker could not claim before entering the ring against Martinez a few weeks ago. But maybe some folks are not really as interested in legitimate competition as they claim. Not when they can spend months barking about welterweights.
Of course, it should be pointed out that Lou DiBella made his feelings about Pirog clear last March to Dan Rafael:
“Fuck Dmitry Pirog. We’re never fighting Dimitri Pirog….That was our belt that [the WBO] stole from him and we’re not fighting Dmitry Pirog, who has never done anything but beat Daniel Jacobs to deserve a big fight. Fuck Dmitry Pirog.”
Thank goodness for the new breed of conscientious promoters like DiBella! Ditto his mewling media minions, who soil their beds should anybody actually criticize Saint Lou.
With the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has an infinite number of issues more pressing than sports, but this article, from Reuters, focuses on the possible re-birth of boxing, which was outlawed in Libya over 30 years ago.
The strange career of Kermit Cintron, as unpopular in boxing as a Melon Head is in Ohio, appears to be in its downward spiral stage. Cintron, who recently asked for his release from Top Rank in order to face Saul Alvarez, entered the ring repeatedly with bad luck seemingly poised to ambush him from the neutral corners.
Even a truncated overview of his career underscores just how odd his journey has been through the years. One of a handful of fighters to appear on network television in the last 15 years, Cintron won his first title in a bout aired only on the internet, headlined ESPN’s single, doomed foray into boxing pay-per-view, bounced from promoter to promoter and from trainer to trainer, fought dubious Antonio Margarito twice, talked his way out of a KO loss to Sergio Martinez, tumbled from the ring against Paul Williams, and wound up, like many, as the butt of cruel—and often misspelled—forum rants from boxingtribulation.com types. After losing a lopsided decision to spoiler Carlos Molina last July, Cintron—who appeared badly faded—may no longer have to worry about the negative scrutiny that has trailed him throughout his career.
In the end, Cintron was more of a prizefighter than many of the puffed- up headliners of the last few years. He entered the ring as an underdog, scored an upset or two, and, because he never earned the capricious fancy of Kery Davis, fought tough opponents for market purses. Even coming back within a few weeks to face Antwone Smith on ESPN2 shows a certain throwback grit. Cintron may not have had a stellar career, but at least it was real and not a puppet show skit stage-managed by two suits at HBO and puffed up by P-4-P zombies. For Cintron, who faces GBP meal ticket Alvarez in Mexico on November 26, this will be the first of his last chances.
The farcical ending to the Chad Dawson-Bernard Hopkins fight last week brought to mind other absurd finishes in boxing. Perhaps the strangest ending to a fight in the last 20 years or so occurred in 1989 when Tony Wilson faced Steve McCarthy at Guild Hall in Southampton, England.
Wilson had been knocked down in the third round and was taking punishment along the ropes when, incredibly, his mother, Minna, climbed the ring apron and began whacking McCarthy over the head with a high-heeled shoe, striking with enough force to draw blood. In a ruling that defies even the perpetual illogic of boxing, referee Adrian Morgan declared Wilson the winner via TKO after McCarthy refused to continue. An enraged crowd promptly lost its collective mind. From the February 1990 issue of World Boxing: “Later, Tony Wilson headed back to the dressing room, ushered by manager/trainer Jimmy Tibbs, former Commonwealth lightweight champion Mo Hussein, and heavyweight James Oyebola. On the way, Tibbs and Oyebola were shoved, Wilson was spat on, and Hussein was stabbed in the back.” The British Boxing Board of Control, inexplicably, did not reverse the ruling.
Not much in boxing is surprising. But when Jermain Taylor was cleared to box again by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, by a 5-0 vote, even a hardened cynic might have found himself flinching. Taylor, who was hospitalized after being brutally stopped by Arthur Abraham in 2009, has been knocked out three times in his last five fights and is 1-4 over that span.
After suffering a subdural hematoma–the scariest words in boxing–and laying off for two years, Taylor has accomplished what Augie Sanchez, Joe Mesi, and others could not—the right to recklessly pursue the most dangerous sport in the world. Even Edwin Valero managed only to get the askew approval of the regulatory backwater of Texas. Keith Kizer, the NSAC scarecrow, ought to have an ear-to-ear grin now that he can be, finally, lumped into the same category as Dickie Cole. Needless to say, there is no way Jermain Taylor should be allowed to fight again. From a 2007 article on espn.com: “Dr. Margaret Goodman, former chairwoman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission Medical Advisory Board, told ESPN.com that Nevada policy is generally not to license a fighter who has suffered a brain bleed of any kind.” Dr. Goodman elaborated further on the risks of boxers who enter the ring physically compromised: “After that kind of injury, there is almost always scarring on the brain’s surface that could predispose any fighter to seizures and further damage if traumatized,” she said. “The problem then is that it is tough to tell if a fighter has just been knocked down and dazed or has suffered something much more dangerous.” So what, exactly, has changed since 2007? Nothing. Something. Everything. Does it make any difference?
Brian Mihtar, former Michigan pro, recently started a non-profit organization and has opened a boxing gym in Dearborn. This piece from the Press & Guide outlines his work on behalf of the Dearborn community.
10 Fighters Who Were Institutionalized At one Point or Another:
Joe Louis, Johnny Bratton, Ad Wolgast, Johnny Saxton, Terry McGovern, Kid Lavigne, Eddie Machen, Owen Moran, Baby Casanova, Battling Nelson.