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

Maybe Bradley will wind up fighting himself one day!

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

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  • http://twitter.com/safesideOTR Andrew Harrison

    How are Peterson and Berto even still in the mix? A pair of rotten old cheats. Where oh where is the hue and cry? I never thought I’d become one of those guys who bleats on about walking away from boxing but if all we’re left with is HGH, EPO, PED, WTF? fuelled bulldozers shitting all over the records of great fighters from yesteryear then we might as well call in the robots and have done with it.
    Remember when fighters were all done at 36 (or if they weren’t it was down to an accumulation of skill and nous)? When dudes had to pace themselves? When boiling down made men monsters in the early going but sitting ducks late on? When moving up in weight left a fighter with a spare tyre and a monumental task? I do, and it made sense. That’s why boxing appealed to me. Two guys, same size, crack on. And it wasn’t all about who was superior physically, it was about who was the handier man with his fists.
    Now we have midgets able to beat up giants, giants able to fight at unnaturally low weights with no physical detriment, blokes throwing power shots in combination for 12 rounds, fellas packing on weight in an eye-blink (yet retaining Mr. Universe physiques), dudes who can’t fight suddenly beasting the opposition with the same limited technique but super-improved physical powers, guys with dodgy chins suddenly being able to take a whack (and at a higher weight to boot). 100 plus years of boxing logic out of the window. It’s more about who hires the best “conditioner” these days, or who bags the best shit and gets away with it. And even if someone gets busted, no-one gives a monkey’s. Not really.
    Can you imagine George Foreman on EPO? Old bastard would have been champion now for 40 years straight (unless Mike Tyson had been plied with HGH Lionel Messi style, to make him 6’5″).
    I am slowly turning into my late old man.
    Good.

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Harrison, that was a wonderful rant!

      That being said, I’m not one to get up in arms about steroids. Peterson and Berto could juice all they wanted and nothing they would do would crap on any great fighter’s accomplishments. Those two guys aren’t great, and don’t have what it takes to be so, even if they’re 80% steed. And if we called in the robots, somebody’d find a way to give a robot the clandestine 3M treatment, and make it better on the sly.

      I understand it goes against the spirit of competition, and that such a violation could have dangerous consequences, but guys loading their gloves, or a ref letting a guy punch his opponent in the junk 50 times without penalty, or promoters digging up graves to fill out their bout sheets are far worse crimes to me. Guys have juiced and lost, and if a juiced up midget can bang out a giant in a fight that warrants attention, then that giant just wasn’t very good. I can’t really see the connection between strength acquired through steroids and increased power or punch resistance either, though I will concede that increased stamina could be a benefit of doing a cycle or two. But hey, if the problem is as widespread as it’s rumoured to be, fuck it, that nullifies the advantage. The handier guy is still gonna get over. Barry Bonds hit an Eric Gagne 100mph fastball, like, 600ft…foul. Both guys were juiced to the tits, but neither guy really gained an advantage in that moment.

      I’m not pro-steroid mind you, but my opposition to steroids is motivated more by a desire to see the leeches taking advantage of the openness of boxing put in the pillory. Alas, such is the nature of the sport–anybody who wants in can get in. Yet and still, “Two guys, same size. Crack on,” is
      still out there. Happened on Saturday, and it was excellent.

      But if turning into your late old man prompts stuff like this, then I’m all for it!

      • thenonpareil

        Look what you did, JT! Sent Harrison into a tizzy, man!

  • http://www.facebook.com/keane121 Keane Escalada

    Bradley vs Bailey-Alexander winner or
    Bradley vs Malignaggi-Cano winner…would it be better?

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Hi Keane,
      We already saw Bradley-Alexander, and whether you watched at home or from the Silverdome, you had room to stretch out. I don’t know about you, but if people aren’t interested in Bradley rematching Peterson or Pacquiao, a rematch with Alexander would be stillborn.
      Admittedly, I’m a big Bailey fan, and were the KO King to show Alexander the black lights this weekend, I’d be all for Bailey continuing his renaissance against Bradley. I’d be in the minority, I’m sure, but at least DiBella would be able to work with Arum. Malignaggi and Cano are both signed to GBP, which takes them out of the running.
      Honestly, I have no idea who Bradley is going to fight next. I like him, and I think he’s gotten a bit of a raw deal since the Pacquiao fight, but this current mess is all his doing. He’s gotta fight somebody, and he’s not in a position to flex his professional liberty–he doesn’t have very much of it!