Maybe Bradley will wind up fighting himself one day!

DISHING IT OUT: On Bradley-Peterson, Berto-Guerrero, Broner-DeMarco, Khan-Molina, and Orlando Cruz

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Undisputed odd man out Timothy Bradley has nearly scuttled his December 15th rematch with Lamont Peterson. A Peterson fight on HBO is the best case scenario for Bradley, who has seen any momentum he gained from beating Manny Pacquiao dissolve in the ether. Commenting on the proposed matchup, however, Bradley said, “I think he’s the only guy available to fight right now, so I’m willing to wait.” Choosing to wait is Bradley’s prerogative, but Godot would arrive before a better opponent than Peterson presents himself. The cacophony of criticism over the Bradley-Peterson rematch is justified to some extent, but that braying chorus falls silent when pressed for a suitable substitute. Moreover, that a fight with Peterson lacks intrigue is hardly damning criticism from those who already dislike Bradley on aesthetic grounds, since his style persists regardless of opponent. Perhaps he should fight no one then? The ugly reality is that Bradley has to fight to make money; to earn what he believes he deserves requires the help of a promoter and a network.

Bradley has opted for a fantasy instead. Compounding the frustration he has caused by putting the kibosh on the Peterson fight, Bradley has enlisted the services of attorney Gaby Penagaricano, who is already in promoter Bob Arum’s cross-hairs over a conflict involving Miguel Cotto. Arum refuses to talk to Penagaricano, saying, “Let him talk to my lawyer. I’m not talking to him. So Dec. 15 is up in the air. HBO is really pissed.”

That Bradley is comfortable turning down the best fight available to him speaks to the frustration he must feel at trying to purchase stardom with Fool’s gold. Marlins Stadium is set to host Bradley’s next fight, should it happen in December. Putting a fighter who cannot draw in a cavernous baseball stadium is a puzzling move. Given the headache he’s become, perhaps the dark side of the moon is next.

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All indications pointed to junior middleweight Cornelius Bundrage facing Andre Berto on HBO on November 24th. It would have been a deserving payday for Bundrage, who, unlike Berto, has had to fell a few trees in forests out of earshot over the course of his 17- year career. That the Detroit fighter has persevered long enough to earn a couple quality paydays at the end of his career is refreshing in a sport that shamelessly cannibalizes its elder statesmen.

Bundrage’s gold watch is going to Robert Guerrero instead. Guerrero had been vociferously pursuing a fight with Top Rank fighter Timothy Bradley, but dealing with their promotional nemesis was out of the question for Golden Boy, whose party line about “cleaning up the sport” has become one of boxing’s inexhaustible sources of comedic irony. To satisfy Guerrero—who has been squawking for distinguished opponents like a starving baby bird—Golden Boy has delivered a morsel that may be more than he can chew. While decried for the entitlement that has characterized his career, Berto can be entertaining when matched with an opponent who will exchange with him. Guerrero is unlikely to employ such a tactic with any great frequency, but he does fight at range, which should spare viewers from watching Berto grapple himself out of danger on the inside. How much danger Guerrero promises is difficult to discern. In his first welterweight fight he was almost undone by Selcuk Aydin, and neither his power nor his jaw appear particularly well-suited for 147 pounds. But Berto is there to be hit, and until fatigue figures in the action, the fight could entertain. When fatigue becomes a factor—and barring a truncated ending it always does—single shots chased with clinches will be served like it’s happy hour.

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Showtime will televise the Amir Khan-Carlos Molina fight from the LA Sports Arena on December 15th. It will be Khan’s first fight with trainer Virgil Hunter, Freddie Roach having been jettisoned after Khan was short-circuited by Danny Garcia. A fistic recidivist, Khan has long been guilty of a handful of ruinous flaws. He leaves his chin up when punching in combination and is easily drawn into exchanges despite lacking the power to win more than a Pyrrhic victory in a heated leather debate. Also, his defense is almost exclusively the province of his legs because he is painfully maladroit on the inside. It is unlikely that Molina, a lightweight with a record of 17-0-1 (7) who hasn’t scored a stoppage since 2010, will give Khan some Garcia flashbacks. But he is ignorant of the psychology of losing at the professional level, and he should provide Khan and Hunter with enough rounds to explore their new dynamic. Perhaps downplaying the scope of his new project, Hunter said of Khan, “There are certain small aspects of his game that I’m intending to work on in order to help him fulfill his enormous potential.”

That potential is likely exhausted, which does not mean that Khan won’t benefit from having a new perspective and demeanor guiding his development. It should be noted that Khan’s rationale for dismissing Roach was partially rooted in his desire to be the sole focus of his trainer, believing that he played second fiddle to Manny Pacquiao and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., at the Wild Card Gym. While Hunter does not have the celebrity stable of Roach, he does train super middleweight kingpin Andre Ward, with whom Hunter enjoys a paternal bond. If the schedules of Khan and Ward ever conflict, Khan would again find himself feeling of secondary concern.

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On November 17th, HBO will televise Twinkie aficionado Adrien Broner’s risky foray into the lightweight division, as he challenges Antonio DeMarco for an appropriately colored slime-green alphabet strap. There is a cornucopia of rotten produce one could sling at Broner for his prodigious idiocy, but the selection of DeMarco isn’t deserving of it. DeMarco is a rugged customer, with length, power, and seasoning. He will not be intimidated by Broner or overwhelmed by the moment, having endured the worst of Jorge Linares’ punching artistry before breaking Linares’ face and resolve in the eleventh round. And in succumbing to the concussive savagery of feral child Edwin Valero, DeMarco answered more questions about himself than Broner has in 24 professional fights. DeMarco may be receiving too much credit for his last victory, a first-round dismissal of John Molina, Jr., since Molina was caved in as much by the pressure of the moment as he was by the single left hand that had him inscrutably squatting on the bottom rope, awaiting divine intervention. Regardless of its legitimacy, the hype from the Molina victory helps build the event, which Broner understands is fundamental to his bid for stellar enshrinement. Should Broner defeat DeMarco he would likely face Scotland’s Ricky Burns, who recently blew out Kevin Mitchell.

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Featherweight Orlando Cruz recently disclosed his homosexuality, stating that he is “a proud gay man.” The culture of boxing is atavistic, vacillating between masculinity and chauvinism in lexicon, imagery, and idolatry. But even in this culture it is difficult to understand how this news is particularly interesting or noteworthy. The presence of a gay boxer is not without precedent, and at a time where LGTBT advocacy has become a prominent social justice front, such an announcement has never found a more sympathetic audience. Moreover, Cruz’ sexual orientation does not impact his merit as a fighter. Why then, is it a matter of concern? If Cruz chooses to use his career as a vehicle for awareness, good for him; if living openly and authentically makes him happier, it is a happiness he is entitled to; if Cruz uses his announcement as part of a public relations or promotional agenda, he is allowed to take that risk. But, again, in 2012, it is hard to see how this announcement warrants the discourse it has elicited, especially if those exhausting the topic are as enlightened as they would have us believe.

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Tags: Adrien Broner AMIR KHAN ANDRE BERTO Antonio DeMarco Carlos Molina LAMONT PETERSON Manny Pacquiao Orlando Cruz Timothy Bradley Virgil Hinter

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