Boxing: Sergio Martinez

Miguel Cotto still has it

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8

NEW YORK -- After a surprising, dramatic and one-sided bout in front of a rapturous Madison Square Garden crowd in which Miguel Cotto captured the world middleweight championship from Sergio Martinez, here are five things we learned:

1. Miguel Cotto still has it
We knew an inspired Cotto under trainer Freddie Roach had the potential to be competitive with Martinez despite giving away size, speed and power. But could any of us have predicted an absolute drubbing from start to finish? Not likely. While the impact of Martinez’s age and injuries certainly played a factor, that wasn’t the prevailing storyline. This was simply a different Miguel Cotto, who entered the ring with a renewed level of confidence that he wielded like an ax to the tune of three stunning knockdowns in Round 1. Cotto set the tone for his workmanlike dismantling of Martinez by his stealth ring entrance -- set to silence with the house lights dimmed -- and put on a vintage performance at age 33.

2. The Cotto-Freddie Roach marriage is a success
Cotto has never been immune to allowing outside-the-ring drama affect his performance inside of it. He also has never been afraid to switch things up in his corner at any time. Yet throughout his career, a happy Cotto has often meant a successful one, and there’s undoubtedly a unique comfort level between him and Roach -- a “player’s coach” who has gained Cotto's respect and focus.

Not only was Roach successful at resurrecting the Cotto of old, he appears to have melded the attacking style of Cotto’s younger dyes with the more refined boxer he became in recent years under the tutelage of Cuban trainer Pedro Diaz. The result was a version of Cotto who was equally adept at using his footwork to avoid Martinez -- never allowing him to develop his swagger by getting into a rhythm -- as he was able to stand and trade with him to destructive results. Cotto landed an astonishing 54 percent of his punches and did much of his damage with a looping left hook to the head that repeatedly exploited Martinez’s tendency to keep his hands too low. Roach’s preparation in terms of conditioning also prevented Cotto from the kind of late-fight fade that played a factor in each of his four defeats.

3. The end is very near for Sergio Martinez
Martinez showed tremendous heart to survive the storm of three first-round knockdowns and keep coming until his corner had seen enough before the start of Round 10. But this simply wasn’t the same fighter whose speed and elusiveness defied his advancing age in recent years. With his twice surgically repaired right knee compromising his mobility, Martinez looked every bit of his 39 years of age. The end is often abrupt for fighters such as Martinez, who rely on athleticism and a Houdini-like style above sound technique (see Roy Jones Jr.). Roach’s postfight comments were a harsh yet accurate summation of his growing vulnerability: “[Martinez] is a great athlete, yes. But I never thought he was a great boxer. You can’t fight with your hands down and think you’re going to be able to win fights.”

With one fight remaining on his lucrative deal with HBO, you can expect to see Martinez at least once more in some form of an orchestrated farewell. Martinez stayed true to form as a stand-up champion and person by offering no excuses in defeat, but his brief and memorable run as an unlikely middleweight king and one of the sport’s true elite has come to an end.

4. The Garden is still the mecca of boxing
After taking more than a year off for renovations, Madison Square Garden made an epic return to big-time boxing as Cotto once again headlined the big arena on the night before New York’s Puerto Rican Day parade. There’s still a certain level of electricity about a big fight between two stars at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” that can't quite be duplicated in Las Vegas or beyond. And with Cotto, the arena’s No. 1 tenant, able to reawaken his career at the highest level -- along with the rise of a potential replacement and possible future opponent in middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin -- one can expect to see MSG pick up where it had left off. Cotto’s raucous welcoming committee, fueled on by his unexpected trio of early knockdowns, provided the soundtrack for an intoxicating atmosphere that was boxing at its very best.

5. Boxing is simply better with Cotto in the mix
Boxing is a sport whose potential for crossover appeal relies almost exclusively on the dynamic qualities of its stars and their ability to make marquee fights. And with the majority of the biggest names pushing closer to 40 than their absolute prime, the arrival of a resurgent Cotto on Saturday can only be viewed as a positive for the sport. Fresh off a historic victory and armed with one of boxing’s few remaining glamour titles as the lineal middleweight king, Cotto has plenty of attractive options moving forward. Not only does his status as a promotional free agent make it easier for fights to get made, the Puerto Rican star brings with him one of the sport’s most passionate fan bases. Whether it be a crossroads showdown with rising star Canelo Alvarez in another chapter of the epic Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry or a marquee rematch with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., Cotto will satisfy fans' desire for the kind of significant fights between stars that attract a casual following. And with a new division of potential opponents in his future, his willingness to dare to be great and take on the very best provides Cotto with a throwback quality that fans covet.

Cotto-Martinez by the numbers

June, 6, 2014
Jun 6

On Saturday night, Miguel Cotto attempts to become the WBC middleweight champion when he faces top-10 pound-for-pound fighter Sergio Martinez at Madison Square Garden in New York City. While the battle is called Cotto-Martinez promotionally because of Cotto’s status in boxing and at the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” Martinez is the champion and has won his past seven bouts.

Here are the numbers you need to know for the fight:

7: Victories by Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden since 2005. Four of those seven victories have come on Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend (all by knockout). Cotto defeated Joshua Clottey in 2009, Zab Judah in 2007, Paulie Malignaggi in 2006 and Mohammad Abdullaev in 2005. Cotto lost his most recent MSG bout by unanimous decision to Austin Trout.

4: Martinez is one of four men from Argentina to currently hold a world title. Omar Narváez is the WBO junior bantamweight champion, Juan Carlos Reveco is the WBC flyweight champion and Jesús Andrés Cuellar is the interim WBA featherweight champion. If Cotto wins the title, he would become the only fighter from Puerto Rico to hold a world title.

2: This is Cotto’s second fight with six-time BWAA Trainer of the Year Freddie Roach. Roach is the fourth trainer Cotto has brought into his camp since 2009, along with Pedro Diaz (3 fights), Emanuel Steward (2 fights) and Joe Santiago (2 fights).

15: A victory by Cotto would make him the 15th boxer to win world titles in four different weight classes. Cotto won his first title in 2004 at light welterweight. He then moved up to welterweight and had two reigns as champion, first from 2006 to 2008 and again in 2009. Finally, he won the junior middleweight title in 2010 and held the title until 2012. Cotto would become the first Puerto Rican boxer to win four world titles in four different weight classes.

3: Martinez has been knocked down in three consecutive fights. Matthew Macklin dropped Martinez in the seventh round of their fight in 2012, but Martinez knocked Macklin down twice in the 11th. Against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Martinez was in control but was knocked down in the final round. In his last bout against Martin Murray, Martinez was knocked down in Round 8 but was up on the cards and won a unanimous decision.

41: According to CompuBox, Martinez has landed 41 percent of his power punches in his past five fights, above the middleweight average of 37.8 percent. Despite being over the average, Martinez’s connect percentage with power punches has gone down from 50 percent landed against Macklin to 30 percent landed against Murray.

49: According to CompuBox, the past three southpaws Cotto has faced (Trout, Manny Pacquiao, Zab Judah) landed 49 percent of their power shots. Cotto went 1-2 in those bouts, losing to Trout and Pacquiao.

9: In the past five bouts for each fighter (10 fights total), nine fights have gone eight rounds or later. Martinez’s past four fights have gone to the 11th or 12th round, while Cotto had two decision losses before his third-round TKO over Delvin Rodriguez.

Cotto: 'I will find a way to win'

June, 4, 2014
Jun 4
Puerto Rican superstar Miguel Cotto has nothing but history on his mind as he enters his June 7 showdown with middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.

Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs), a titlist in three weight classes, will look to become the first Puerto Rican fighter to win a title in a fourth division when he faces Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs) on Cotto’s home turf, at Madison Square Garden in New York (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET).

Looking reborn under new trainer Freddie Roach in his previous bout, Cotto, 33, will be making his 160-pound debut against the 39-year-old Martinez.

How will you use your power and movements to sow down Martinez? Chavez couldn't hit him for 11 rounds. How do you hit Martinez?

"I have followed every single direction that (trainer) Freddie (Roach) has given me. We have been working really hard to get into this fight in our best. Everybody knows the fighter that I am and what I'm capable to do in the ring. Chavez is Chavez but Miguel Cotto is Miguel Cotto.

"As everyone in boxing knows styles makes fights. I believe my style and my experience will be very important in this battle with Sergio Martinez. I am coming to fight the way I know how to do it and it has nothing to do with how other boxers fight certain opponets.

"In the preparation for this fight I have focus on what Freddie has ask me to do and I am prepare to go 12 hard rounds and to battle every minute of every round. I have always believed that you win fights round by round. I prepare to fight my fight and make adjustments as the fight goes along and I will be ready to go to war at any time.

"All boxers are different and we all approach the fights in different ways. This fight is very important to me and I have prepared the best way that I can. I will find a way to win and take the title back to Puerto Rico.

How important is it for you and Puerto Rican boxing that you win this title and become a four-division champion?

"Puerto Rico has been a hot-bed for boxing for a long time and has given the Island some of its most memorable moments in sports. The people there love their boxing and their boxing history from the first world champion in Sixto Escobar to the more than 50 champions that have come after him. The people of this tiny island have supported us without reservation.

"My beautiful Puerto Rico for a long time has been one of the greatest boxing nations in the sport. We have a big legacy from big fighters that were the inspiration of many generations. I have always wanted to write my own history with my own hands. I will never pretend to be better than anyone. I just want to be the one who accomplished a feat that other legends could not.

"Some of our best fighters are not only Puerto Rican greats but all time-greats of the sport. Carlos Ortiz, Wilfredo Gomez, Wilfredo Benitez and Felix “Tito” Trinidad and many others have made Puerto Rican boxing what it is today and I am only an extension of their greatness, so to have an opportunity to become the first four-time world champion in different divisions is very special to me.

"This feat would not only be a great achievement for me but for all Puerto Rican greats that have come before me and for the great fans that have supported me thru out my career and the many that love their boxing history and tradition in Puerto Rico.

"This is for all the fans boxing in my country, and to have the opportunity to do it in New York in Madison Square Garden my second home will make it even more special. June 7 will be a night to remember for Puerto Rican boxing."

Training with Freddie Roach must be a different experience for you. Can you describe why he's one of the best trainers in boxing?

"Freddie is a great person and a great trainer, who understands our sport. He was a fighter and has trained some of the best boxers in the world over the last 10 to 15 years. He is a true professional that knows how to get the best out of every fighter that he trains. He makes everyone better and his preparation for each fight is second to none.

"He has a complete vision and sense about what a fighter thinks. We have both developed a great relationship based in respect for each other. He knows me very well and knows what I may think in certain moments. It has been a great experience working together with him. Ever since day one I felt very much at home with him and understood what I need to do.

"He has a great team behind him that gives me great support as well. He is able to focus on boxing because he knows that he can trust his team to get me in the best condition possible, so that I can be the best fighter possible. It’s not only about him having the boxing knowledge, but is about knowing how to apply it to each individual boxer.

"He had a big win last October in Orlando, Florida against Delvin Rodriguez, and now on June 7 in New York we will have a huge victory, that both of us will celebrate. I have put my career in his hand because I know he will get the best out me and I will give him my best during training and in the ring."

Why fight Martinez now and not four years ago?

"Everything happens at the time it needs to happen. I do not push destiny. Boxers take different paths in their career and those roads don’t always come together. If someone would have told me that I would be fighting for a world championship at 160 pounds four years ago, I would have not thought possible. But here I am looking to make history -- becoming the first Puerto Rican to win world titles in four different weight divisions.

"This is the kind of fight that always has been talked about and now is becoming a reality. I think it is a perfect timing to make it happen. We both have had our moments over our careers. I feel good and satisfied that it’s happening at this stage of my career. I feel totally renewed and with a fresh mind to come in and do my job on June 7.

"We as fighters always want to fight the best possible opponents and the best fights. We want the fans and media to be excited about the fights that we have. I now believe that this is a big fight and people want to see it. I'm not sure that was the case a few years back.

"I believe that I [was] given the fans the best fights that I can. I fought some of the best fighters at 140, 147 and 154 pounds and now here I am facing the best at 160. For me boxing has always been about challenges and competing and this one more fight proves that point.

"The fact that this fight is taking place now is just destiny, nothing to do with politics or avoidance. It's just the right time to do this fight and to enjoy two great fighters getting in the ring and showing who is the best.

"I am ready to make history and to prove once more that I am still one of the best fighters in the world."

Martinez: 'I'll prove I am one of the best'

June, 2, 2014
Jun 2
Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez has been recovering from knee and arm injuries over the past 13 months but vows to be ready to fight Miguel Cotto on June 7 (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs), the lineal champion, has wanted to fight Cotto for the last four years but is coming off a lackluster performance in his native Argentina against Martin Murray in April 2013.

In September 2012, Martinez dominated Julio Cesar Chavez for 11 rounds, but in the 12th Chavez dropped Martinez. While the champ was able to survive and get the victory by unanimous decision, he suffered a severe knee injury. He fought Murray without being fully healed, so after the win, Martinez decided to take some time off.

In his own words, the 39-year-old Martinez discusses his desire to fight Cotto and to show he is an elite fighter.

Great Argentine fighters like Carlos Monzon and Oscar Bonavena fought at Madison Square Garden. You have fought at the Theater at MSG, but how important is for you to continue that tradition of great Argentine fighters performing at the mecca of boxing?

"It has been a major dream of mine to fight at Madison Square Garden in the big room. I never would have imagined that I would be headlining a main event over there if you asked me that 10 years ago.

"To fight at Madison Square Garden where great Argentinean boxers fought like Oscar Bonavena and Carlos Monzon is the grandest honor that any Argentinean boxer could possibly have. The Argentinean community in New York has always been very supportive of me, and I expect an incredible atmosphere similar to a world cup soccer match.

"Miguel Cotto says Madison Square Garden is his home, but come June 7th he will be evicted and I will prove that I am one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world."

After your loss to Antonio Margarito in 2000, did you ever imagine that your career would be like this? Titles, celebrity status, etc.

"My loss to Margarito was probably the best thing that happened to me. It humbled me and made me realize that this is a serious sport and I needed to mature as a fighter and as a person. It also made me realize that I needed to change. I had to cut out the negative people that surrounded me at that time and find people that would be positive for my career.

"I knew that I would return to Vegas and be a champion after that loss because I had the desire to be a champion and was willing to put the time and effort to get to that level.

"I never would’ve imagined reaching this level of notoriety. That has to be attributed to my current team of Sampson Lewkowicz, Miguel Angel Depablos and Nathan Lewkowicz, who have worked very hard in furthering my career. Without having a solid team behind you then it would be difficult to get to this level and sustain it."

Fighting with injuries (knee, elbow, wrist), how hard is it to prepare when your body hurts for any fight?

"It is not easy to prepare for a fight when you have some of the ailments that I have when preparing for a World Championship fight. I struggle with joint pains, knee pain and shoulder pain. Without my physical therapist, Dr. Raquel Bordons, I would not be able to train today and probably would’ve had to retire due to my injuries.

"Because I train six days a week for an average of eight hours a day, I am always in constant pain. There are some days when I am so sore that I cannot even walk, but I push myself because I know that I have to push myself to be the best fighter in the world. I know that I have to put in more hours than your average fighter because I didn’t grow up a boxer. I started very late in this sport, so that is why I have to train so many hours and put in a lot of work in order to perform at the level that is expected of me and for me to come out victorious."

You have been waiting to face Cotto for almost four years. Why do you think he wants to fight you now?

"Miguel Cotto believes that I am ripe for the picking and that my age has finally caught up with me. What he doesn’t realize is that for the Martin Murray fight, I had many injuries going into the fight.

"I did not want to postpone the event because it was always a dream of mine to defend my title in Argentina, so we as a team decided to go forward with the fight with Martin Murray. I still came out victorious in that fight, but Miguel Cotto thinks I’m on the decline, which is the only reason I believe he chose to face me now.

"What Miguel Cotto doesn’t realize is that I am extremely motivated for this fight. Not just because I don’t necessarily care for Miguel Cotto, but I want to prove him wrong in thinking that I’m not an elite fighter.

"Cotto is a good fighter and a future Hall of Famer, but he will not become the world middleweight champion by defeating me.

"The only way I see this fight ending is with Miguel Cotto being knocked out. I cannot see the fight going past nine rounds."

Chavez: 'I owe the fans a great performance'

February, 17, 2014
Feb 17
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Bryan VeraAP Photo/Reed SaxonJulio Cesar Chavez Jr., right, says he'll be on weight and fired up for a March 1 Brian Vera rematch.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and, in particular, his focus have been under scrutiny over the past several years, culminating with a lopsided decision loss to Sergio Martinez in 2012. Weight problems, a change of trainers and a year of inactivity effectively veered the former champion off track.

Chavez (47-1-1, 32 KOs) returned to beat Bryan Vera via a mediocre unanimous decision in September. The fight was closer than the judges' scorecards indicated, drawing more criticism and the ire of fans and media outlets alike.

On March 1, Chavez and Vera (23-7, 14 KOs) will meet in a rematch (HBO, 9:45 p.m. ET/PT). There’s little margin for error if Chavez is to regain his status as one of the best in the division and challenge super middleweight champion Andre Ward.

In his own words, Chavez discusses his first fight against Vera and what fans can expect to see in the rematch at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

I am looking forward to returning to the ring March 1 in San Antonio. The fans in the great state of Texas have always been very kind and supportive of me throughout my professional career, and the people of San Antonio in particular have been great to me.

For many people, my fight in San Antonio in June 2010 against John Duddy was my breakout fight, and it led me to my first championship fight one year later. It made believers out of many boxing fans that had doubts about my abilities.

In February 2012, I returned to San Antonio as a world champion and beat No. 1 contender Marco Antonio Rubio in a fight many felt I would lose. That night the fans came out and really supported me as I successfully defended my title.

The only other time I fought in San Antonio was in 2007 when I was just beginning my climb up the rankings. My upcoming fight with Vera will be the 15th time I have fought in Texas, and this fight will be one of the most important of my career, following two disappointing performances -- my first professional loss, to Sergio Martinez, and a disputed victory over Vera in September in Los Angeles.

[+] EnlargeJulio Cesar Chavez Jr
AP Photo/Julie JacobsonJulio Cesar Chavez Jr., right, rallied against Sergio Martinez in the final round, but it was too late.
I know that expectations prior to my first fight against Vera were that it would be an easy fight for me, but it did not turn out that way for many reasons. But I won’t make any excuses. I know that I owe the fans a great performance and that is what they will get -- a great performance on March 1st.

I believe that Vera fought as well as he could in the first fight and I know that I did not fight my best by a long shot. I will be more prepared physically and mentally for this second fight because I know that I need to get an impressive win against Vera. There is a lot at stake for me in this fight.

We are fighting in Vera's home state this time around and he will have a lot of support in the stands, but inside the ring it will just be us -- mano a mano. And while I felt that I won the first fight with my power and accurate punching, I know that I left some doubt in many people minds because of my weight issues and the fact that I did not have the consistency in my attack that I needed during that fight.

In boxing it always come down to being prepared and being ready to go in the ring and performing to the best of my ability and that is what will happen against Vera this second time around. I need to be active, consistent and land my shots with power and do as much damage as I can early so I can finish the fight with a big flourish.

My fans in Texas and around the world know that I will always give them the best fight possible for them to enjoy no matter the circumstances. Rest assured that for this fight on March 1, they will see me at my best and I will get the win in a very clear and decisive fashion.

Maicelo brings style, promises action

April, 4, 2013
Unbeaten Peruvian prospect Jonathan Maicelo will be featured in the main event of this week's "Friday Night Fights" in a 10-round bout against Russia's Rustam Nugaev at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, Calif.

Maicelo, 29, is a celebrity in his country, where this week a documentary about his life, called "Road to Glory," will air on Peruvian television. He has appeared in TV commercials, represents his own line of clothing and boasts a rabid fan base that includes Ollanta Humala, the president of Peru.

Nugaev, 30, is a solid but untested opponent who is coming off a stretch of seven wins in his past eight fights. His lone defeat came at the hands of undefeated Alisher Rahimov in March 2011. Nugaev has never been stopped, although he hasn't fought since July 2011.

Maicelo (19-0, 11 KOs) hopes to continue his unbeaten streak after notching a second-round TKO of Tyler Ziolowski in January, his most recent bout. Nicknamed "The Cobra," he has a decidedly serpentine style, featuring defensive waist movements and a calculated but aggressive attack. Maicelo puts together fast combinations with both hands, although his most potent power comes from a nasty right hook. He manages his strategy from a distance and shows soild balance, but he rarely stands firmly on the ground when throwing punches.

When Maicelo takes control of the center of the ring and establishes the tempo of a fight, he usually neglects his guard -- an open invitation to his opponent -- and in those instances he lowers one of his arms and throws sneaky straight hands in the style of Sergio Martinez. He usually refrains from sustained toe-to-toe action, although he won't shy away from a good exchange, such as those in his 2010 win over Alberto Santillan -- a true war.

"On [Friday], you will see a technical fighter, a very dynamic fighter with a lot of hunger, and a fighter that you will want to see again," Maicelo said. "I won't let you down, and I promise to give the fans what they want: a lot of action."

Nugaev (22-6, 12 KOs) is a question mark due to the potential rust of a two-year layoff. His frontal style, tight guard and permanent search for a short-distance fight could be tailor-made for Maicelo, who figures to use the entire ring and throw punches from all angles.

Given the fighters' styles, a knockout seems unlikely. Maicelo is elusive and rarely takes flush shots. Nugaev is stiff, but he's also resilient and can take a punch. All signs point toward a decision in favor of Maicelo, who could be considered for a title opportunity with a good showing.

Golovkin stays busy but ready for true test

March, 30, 2013

If you ever believed it was impossible to look impressive doing something that's widely expected of you, check out Gennady Golovkin's performance Saturday in Monaco.

In what amounted to a stay-busy fight against veteran Nobuhiro Ishida at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo, Golovkin lit up the French Riviera with a highlight-reel knockout in the seventh defense of his middleweight title.

There is little question Golovkin was expected to defeat Ishida (24-9-2, 9 KOs) handily enough. The light-hitting 37-year-old not only has as many losses as career knockouts, but he fights with a straight-up stance and a style made to order for the exciting Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs).

But Ishida, who has faced a respectable list of heavy punchers over the past few years, entered the fight having never been stopped in 35 pro fights, and Golovkin erased that record of resilience with just one punch.

Delivering an eye-opening statement to the rest of the division (and beyond), Golovkin caught a backpedaling Ishida with a devastating overhand right that sent him under the ropes and nearly out of the ring. Ishida's head had to be supported by those at ringside to prevent him from falling backward as referee Stanley Christodoulou waved off the bout without a count.

The fight was another impressive notch on the belt of Golovkin, 30, who recorded his third straight victory since September and second in the past two months. In addition to his overwhelming power, Golovkin showed tight defense behind his high guard against a free-swinging Ishida and outstanding technique on his accurate counter shots.

Golovkin, who has yet to truly be tested, is clearly going to be a handful for any of the top names at 160 pounds. His hardest task, of course, will continue to be convincing any of them to enter the ring to try to best his versatile and sublime talents.

But as for things within the control of the 2004 Olympic silver medalist from Kazakhstan, Golovkin has executed his plan to conquer America to near perfection thus far. He continues to stay active and has looked more impressive with each level of ascension in the rankings against fighters of varying styles. Golovkin also has openly spoken of his willingness to move up or down in weight in order to take on all comers.

Whether he ultimately lands the marquee names in question is work to be handled by the promoters and cable networks that represent Golovkin. But with his refreshing desire to simply focus on continuing to put away any fighter who crosses his path -- and do so with the frightening ease we are slowly becoming accustomed to seeing -- his prospective opponents will eventually have no choice.

One of these days, Golovkin will finally find himself in the kind of fantasy matchup fans are already dreaming about, and whether his opponent ends up being Sergio Martinez, Andre Ward or some other premium talent, we will finally get to see whether “GGG” can live up to the almost impossible hype that has followed him this far.

Mayweather's choice is clear: Canelo

September, 28, 2012
Canelo AlvarezAP Photo/Danny MoloshokWith his style, looks and roots, Canelo Alvarez is the best pick for Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s next foe.
The boxing calendar for 2012 is almost full, and recent history has taught us that Floyd Mayweather Jr. rarely fights more than once a year. With a tough fight against Miguel Cotto and a brief jail stint behind him, Mayweather might have accumulated just the right amount of excuses to call it a year and start drumming up interest in a big fight for early 2013.

With that in mind, and with the most logical opponents (Cotto, Sergio Martinez and -- dare we say it? -- Manny Pacquiao) already headed in different directions, Mayweather's choices are now limited. But there is one natural fit. All things considered, given his energy, youth and huge appeal to fans of both sexes, his enormous (and growing) Mexican fan base and an unbeaten record to boot, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is the obvious choice.

Here are five reasons why Alvarez should be the leading candidate to pull the winning number in the latest Mayweather sweepstakes:

1. A crossroads fight for the ages: A young and feisty undefeated lion versus a crafty, experienced unbeaten fox? The meshing of styles is so apparent that it needs little elaboration. Alvarez, 22, is a freight train of a fighter who has power in both hands and the heart of a warrior, always charging forward with little regard for his safety. Mayweather is the lightning-fast consummate technician with seemingly unlimited resources and the boxing equivalent of Wikipedia downloaded to his brain. It's the old matador-versus-raging bull paradigm, and people have always paid to watch it. You can bet they'll pony up to witness this one.

2. Canelo has muchos amigos: Floyd always echoes the sentiments expressed in Muhammad Ali's famous analysis on the composition of his audience: "I think 100 percent of the people will come to see me," Ali used to say, "but 99 percent of those people will come to see me get beat because they think I talk too much." Whatever the percentages, there's a similar split with regard to Canelo. Most women come to see him win. A lot of guys watch to see him get his butt kicked. But the vast majority of Mexico will be watching, rooting for either cause. In any case, the likelihood of a new PPV record for a Mayweather-Canelo matchup is very high, and when the guy who has the final say on his opponent goes by the nickname "Money," that's a factor in Alvarez's favor.

3. A true fiesta for Cinco de Mayo: May 5 is a national holiday in Mexico and traditionally a blowout weekend for boxing. If you're a fight fan, you can circle that Saturday on your calendar and know you'll get to take in at least one of the year's biggest bouts that night. But at the risk of sounding jingoistic, last year's Mayweather-Cotto matchup -- an American against a Puerto Rican -- was like serving tacos, burritos and tequila at a St. Patrick's Day party. Give the fans what they want, when they want it. Mayweather versus Alvarez on Cinco de Mayo weekend will surely draw one of the biggest TV audiences in boxing history, in no small part due to its timing.

4. The grass is not greener on the other side: A lack of options shouldn't serve as an endorsement for Alvarez, but it's impossible to get around: Mayweather's alternatives really strengthen Canelo's case. The question is, if you don't pick the kid from Jalisco, who do you pick? Martinez is banking on milking whatever is left of the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. business while Junior is still marketable. Pacquiao still has who-knows-how-many-more fights with Marquez, plus a rematch with Timothy Bradley Jr., left to cash in. And Cotto will keep pricing (and maybe weighing) his way out of a Mayweather rematch until no one cares anymore. And with Amir Khan and Victor Ortiz on the rocks (and Roberto Guerrero still green at 147), Canelo is just what the doctor ordered.

5. Great possible card names: "The Young and the Restless" is already taken, but there are plenty of directions this one could be taken. "Sugar and Spice" clicked better for Canelo's bout with Shane Mosley, but it's apt here, too. And the pairing could lead to scores of clever headlines from the always-imaginative press row. "Money Talks, Cinnamon Swirls" could trumpet a Mayweather victory. Not enough reason on its own to put together a multi-million dollar boxing card, but it always helps to have some built-in entertainment value, eh?

Time for Felix Sturm to meet the challenge

August, 30, 2012
Felix Sturm, Martin MurrayAlex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty ImagesFelix Sturm, right, may be the best middleweight in Europe, but can he step outside his comfort zone?
Among the many things that rub boxing fans the wrong way, two are particularly troubling: hometown fighters and underachievers. And in the past few years, middleweight titlist Felix Sturm has made a case for being both.

As a long-reigning champion (12 defenses of his current belt) who has had two previous title runs at 160 pounds, Sturm has held at least a portion of the title for almost 10 years and has lost only twice in his career -- one of which was debatable, against Oscar De La Hoya in 2004. But the underlying question remains: Is Sturm a zoo hunter, a guy who preys on weaker opposition inside a cage of local favoritism and excessively generous judges? Or is he a true champion who has trouble finding a real challenge at middleweight?

The 33-year-old champ, born Adnan Catic in Germany to Bosnian parents, became a fan favorite after drawing the short stick in his fight against De La Hoya, in which many viewed him as the true winner after outlanding and outboxing the Golden Boy in Las Vegas.

After that fight, the general consensus was that Sturm would be back in the States for another challenge in a talent-rich division that then included Bernard Hopkins, Felix Trinidad and other attractive potential foes. Instead, Sturm reacted with disgust at the De La Hoya decision and nurtured his own strong hometown edge by fighting the next eight years of his career exclusively in Germany, with an occasional trip to his parents' old Yugoslavia for a stay-busy fight.

The result for Sturm has been a very low profile outside the borders of his native country, virtually zero visibility in the U.S. -- a Catch-22 situation depriving demanding U.S. fans of seeing some of his great fights, but also shielding them from a string of weak performances -- and an unwillingness by other champions to travel to Germany to unify titles in an openly hostile environment.

That's about to change on Saturday, when Sturm will face Australia's Daniel Geale in -- of course -- Germany, for a unification bout that will kick-start a series of interesting middleweight matchups that could help clarify the division picture. Regardless of the result, doubts about Sturm's reputation (in certain circles) as one of the most underrated middleweight champs in recent history won't be resolved.

Part of those doubts stem from two particular fights in which Sturm not only failed to impress but also seemed to need generous help from the judges to escape with a win.

The first: a split-decision victory over Matthew Macklin in June of 2011, in an interesting fight that exposed many of Sturm's shortcomings. And then there was an excellent fight in which England's unbeaten Martin Murray was slapped with a split draw after delivering a 12-round boxing lesson to Sturm that starkly contrasted the fighting spirit of the two men.

And it's the quality that is most strikingly missing from Sturm's arsenal. His jab is there (one of the best in the business), his physical conditioning is superb, and his punch rate and accuracy are above average for the division. Even his inability to consistently deliver finishing blows (40 percent KO percentage) obscures other, more worrying failures.

In essence, the problem is this: Sturm amounts to less than the sum of his parts. His many virtues should add up to a dominant ring presence and attractive, entertaining performances. Instead, Sturm fails to excite fans with spectacular stoppages or put together interesting combinations, and he squanders his great sense of timing by not following up on his attacks.

But there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Sturm dominated former interim titlist Sebastian Zbik in his most recent title defense, in April, and now seems committed to jumping into the big market at 160 pounds. It won't be a surprise to see him beat Geale and then call out the winner of the Sept. 15 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Sergio Martinez fight.

But for that scenario to come to fruition, Sturm would have to break hard from his recent path, travel to the U.S. and overcome his fear of being robbed again (or in his case, possibly take a dose of his own medicine) to try his luck against one of the division's top fighters.

Sturm has a limited amount of fights left to consolidate his legacy and show the world that he's capable of beating legitimate contenders beyond the borders of his homeland. A year ago, he would have been favored to beat Chavez, and to give Martinez a terrific challenge. But given Martinez's destruction of Macklin, Sturm's dubious victory against the same opponent and the fact that a non-puncher such as Murray was able to beat the wind out of Sturm, both Chavez (a devastating body puncher) and Martinez (a superb boxer with all the killer instinct Sturm seems to lack) would seem to have the edge over Sturm.

In any case, Sturm-Martinez or Sturm-Chavez each has the potential to be a great fight, the kind that could redefine Sturm's career and give the middleweight division a great three-way rivalry that could revitalize one of boxing's elite weight classes. Let's hope we don't have to go to Germany to watch them.

Chavez thinking big -- maybe too big?

August, 24, 2012
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Marco Antonio RubioChris Farina/Top Rank Could Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. bring his power to the super middleweight division and be a force?
The rumors have been rampant for more than a year, since right around the time of his first title fight, in June 2011, when it became obvious that making weight was turning into a problem for him. It has grown into such a concern that many believe his next fight will be his last at 160 pounds.

For Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the climb through several weight divisions is a family tradition of sorts, and a journey through which his father, a former three-division champ, could perhaps help guide him. But if Junior ventures into heavier weight divisions without a proper plan, he may have to learn it the hard way.

However, before Chavez takes the first step on that long, hard road to success at 168 and beyond, he will face a fighter who claims he can still make 154 if he sets his mind to it. And there's no reason not to believe Sergio Martinez, who has accomplished most of the things he set out to do in boxing so far.

One of those feats was grabbing the undisputed middleweight championship from Kelly Pavlik, in what turned out to be Pavlik's last fight at 160 before he moved up to super middleweight. Which suggests that Chavez's challenge Sept. 15 will be doubly difficult. Of course he'll want to make a statement against Martinez in order to sell the idea that he belongs in a division currently dominated by a few of the finest fighters in the planet. But Chavez will have his work cut out simply to avoid joining Pavlik as a bigger man who failed against Martinez.

Let's assume for a moment that Chavez is capable of besting Martinez. The next step would be to take aim at the most talented and profitable fighters in his new division. That's a list that became a short one when Andre Ward cemented his place as one of the world's top pound-for-pound fighters with his run through the Super Six tournament, capped by a well-earned decision over England's Carl Froch. And after Froch routed Lucian Bute -- the only legitimate contender who hadn't been involved in the tournament -- the pecking order became clear: Ward in a class by himself, Froch a step below and ... everyone else.

The conundrum for Chavez, if he does make the jump in weight, is that he'll have his hands full just getting past those fighters jockeying for position below Ward and Froch.

His most serious challenges likely would come from a handful of battle-hardened veterans who can still mix it up. Two immediately come to mind: Denmark's Mikkel Kessler and Pavlik, Martinez's vanquished foe.

Kessler proved he can still bang with the best in a highlight-reel KO of Allan Green in May. He's a tough fighter who could be lured back to 168 despite claiming he will continue his career at light heavyweight, and his style would match perfectly with that of Chavez.

Pavlik makes even more sense, from both a boxing and a business standpoint. In light of the ongoing feud between boxing's top promoters, Pavlik's affiliations -- like Junior, he's a Top Rank fighter -- would be as attractive to the Chavez side as the name value Pavlik would bring to a fight and his seemingly diminished skills. After all, why risk getting the kid bludgeoned before he's had a chance to get his feet wet at a higher weight?

Still, as carefully as he has been moved during his career, Chavez won't be as well-protected operating as a championship-caliber fighter at 168 as he was while rising to contender status at 160. After taking on Martinez in what will be one of the most scrutinized fights of the year, Junior will have to pick a serious opponent for his next fight, win or lose. And that could lead him to names such as Robert Stieglitz, Andre Dirrell or even an over-the-hill Arthur Abraham, who could still give the plodding Chavez a run for his money.

Although Chavez has left the door open to stay at middleweight for an undetermined amount of time, he may not have a choice. The Chavez-Martinez weigh-in ceremony will be one of the highlights of fight week, and even if Junior makes it through the proceedings and hits his mark, the drain to make weight likely will leave him at something less than his peak when he climbs into the ring a day later.

One thing is certain, though: We can count on Chavez's top-five status at 160 pounds being left behind if he does choose to move up the ladder. Win or lose against Martinez, reaching the summit of his new mountain at super middleweight will take time. It could be a while before we find out whether Chavez is capable of rumbling with the gatekeepers of the division, let alone its legitimate contenders and titleholders.

Has Sergio Martinez's day finally arrived?

June, 21, 2012
Last Saturday night, in the cool desert air of El Paso, Texas, middleweight champion Sergio Martinez just might have enjoyed his biggest victory to date in a fight that he wasn't even a part of.

When fellow 160-pound titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. finished off respected contender Andy Lee with a brilliant seventh-round TKO, it was the best thing to happen to the 37-year-old Martinez's career since victories against Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams in 2010 officially put him on the map.

[+] EnlargeDarren Barker, Sergio Martinez
AP Photo/Tim LarsenDespite his undisputed status as a top pound-for-pound fighter, Sergio Martinez has had to subsist on relatively faceless European challengers.
Almost universally regarded as the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Martinez, 37, finally has an opponent to be excited about. A dance partner who fills in the few blanks in the résumé of the great Maravilla -- marketability and fan base -- Chavez will allow Martinez his first opportunity to headline a pay-per-view when the two are scheduled to meet Sept. 15 in Las Vegas.

Still wondering just how we got here? Only months earlier, Chavez, 26, wasn't even considered a fighter remotely close to the class of Martinez, nor would anyone believe the undefeated Mexican's handlers would allow him near a fight of this nature, one that he had so little chance of winning.

But all of that changed in Chavez's most recent title defenses, with the point fully hammered home upon his stoppage of Lee. Chavez's footwork and boxing skills have increased dramatically under Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach. Junior has also routinely benefited from an ability to sneak in under the 160-pound limit, only to bulk up to the size of a light heavyweight (at least) by fight night. That, along with the two traits he has taken his legendary father -- relentless body punching and a concrete chin -- have made him a legitimate opponent, almost overnight, for Martinez.

This is all music to Martinez's ears, simply for the fact that securing the Chavez fight represented what appeared to be his last hope of attaining the level of legit, crossover PPV stardom that the Argentine fighter has dreamed of.

It's no secret that Martinez has been the odd man out in boxing's upper table for almost two years. Shut out by opponents and rival promoters, who claimed he was too dangerous and lacked the ability to sell tickets, Martinez settled for title defenses against nondescript European challengers, with all three ending in late knockout wins.

In terms of maximizing the prime of his career under the daunting pressure of a fast-closing window, Martinez can view 2011 as no better than an abject failure. Despite having a presence as a featured HBO fighter, Martinez treaded water in a lonely division void of marketable names.

The trend, at the time, was to portray Martinez as a tragic figure while questioning what's wrong with a sport that denies one of its best an opportunity to compete at the highest level. But as that same trend continued into 2012, it became hard not to turn the double-edged sword of his predicament back on to the fighter himself, along with his handlers.

Martinez is promoted by Lou DiBella, which leads to two schools of thought: You either believe DiBella is the third-most powerful promoter in the sport or you believe the sport has only two promoters (Golden Boy and Top Rank) that really matter.

Given the way the power promoters have created a virtual American and National League, which rarely allows for interleague play, it's hard not to support the latter line of thinking. Especially when you consider how unsuccessful Martinez was in luring the marquee names, even after offering to come in as low as 150 pounds. In the case of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Martinez was openly willing to accept the bottom half of an 80/20 purse split.

Martinez has been slow to pick up the English language and just doesn't possess the trash-talking gene and combative personality that often leads to controversial and marketable opportunities (e.g., Dereck Chisora). You're more likely to see him using his platform in an honorable way to speak out against domestic violence or anti-bullying.

Martinez has clearly mastered everything within his power that goes on inside of the ring. But has he done enough outside of it to take advantage of his potential opportunities, both financially and in terms of his legacy? Was he too loyal in re-signing with DiBella in June 2011? What about his steadfast refusal to consider moving up to 168 pounds?

Was everything we respect about him as a person also the main reason his stock as an elite fighter in the sport has slowly fallen?

All of those questions are moot for now, as Martinez is in line for the kind of fight he has desired all along. A fight that all of us have desired right along with him and one that is great for the sport.

Those who feared Martinez's prime is being wasted can breathe a temporary sigh of relief. We still don't know whether he'll get an opportunity to face the very best and most marketable of his generation before his speed and reflexes begin to erode. At the very least, this is a step in the right direction toward one day finding out just how good Martinez can be.'s Michael Woods caught up with middleweight champion Sergio Martinez at Thursday's media conference in New York City to promote Martinez's title fight against Matthew Macklin at the Madison Square Garden Theater on Saturday. When told that Macklin had suggested Martinez, at 37, might be primed for a loss, the Argentine champ responded through manager and translator Sampson Lewkowicz: "After I beat him by KO, definitely he will change his mind." Check out the whole interview above.

Matthew Macklin takes New York

March, 16, 2012
AM ET's Michael Woods joined middleweight challenger Matthew Macklin atop New York City's Empire State Building ahead of Macklin's title fight against champion Sergio Martinez on Saturday. Macklin called the matchup, which will be held at the Madison Square Garden Theater, "a life-changing fight." Watch the entire clip above.

Roach: Chavez Jr. would take Martinez

November, 25, 2011
Buried among the rigmarole surrounding Antonio Margarito's now finally licensed eye, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the prodigal son of his Hall of Fame father, defeated the semi-retired (and now likely permanently retired) Peter Manfredo Jr. last Saturday night. The result was expected; less so was trainer Freddie Roach's assertion that Chavez, based on this performance, is capable of dispatching middleweight sultan Sergio Martinez.

"[Chavez] can kick [Martinez's] a-- right now, in my opinion," Roach told Boxing Scene's Chris LaBate. "I don't think he's a great fighter. He's a great athlete, I'll give him that. But he's not a great fighter."

Roach has recently developed a habit of making predictions that have gone awry (a Marquez knockout for one), but this one is downright outlandish. Chavez did look impressive in this latest performance, but against limited opposition. It was a credible win against a game but faded fighter.

Perhaps triumphs over more established middleweights such as Andy Lee and Matthew Macklin would add credence to the assertion that Chavez has what it takes to vanquish Martinez, widely regarded as the third-best fighter on the planet. But for now, Chavez remains one half of a duo of arguably overprotected middleweight Mexican fighters.

Froch desperate for vengeance

Carl Froch is a confident man. After the December Super Six Final concludes and the brash Englishman emerges victorious over favorite Andre Ward (as Froch is certain he will), he has only one opponent in mind: Mikkel Kessler, the one man who has beaten Froch.

"To fight Kessler means something, too, especially as I don't believe he beat me," Froch told The Daily Mail.

It's clearly an arrangement that Kessler's own promoter, Kalle Sauerland, is keen to set up.

"I believe that Kessler-Froch Part I was a classic, and that a second or even a third part would be justified,” Sauerland said.

"We would love that fight at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen and we will make the biggest offer ever to a super middleweight boxer to make that fight."

Quote of the week

Every time I fight, I put on a problem, man. You can always expect fireworks and that's what [I] bring. It's not even the Fourth of July yet, man. Every day is Independence Day in the gym for me. I'm a seasonal Fourth of July.” --
The demure, reserved Adrien Broner, who will fight Vicente Rodriguez on Saturday on HBO, told Fight Hype

Arum talks Pacquiao past, future

November, 8, 2011
After Manny Pacquiao scored a disputed split-decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez in their second fight in March 2008, the cries were strong -- not just from the Marquez camp but from much of boxing fandom -- for a third fight to finally settle the score.

But Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, had other ideas. He was determined to match Pacquiao with lightweight beltholder David Diaz. It seemed a gratuitously defiant act: Yes, Diaz held a lightweight title, affording Pacquiao the opportunity to add a world title in a fifth weight class. But the Pacquiao-Marquez rematch sold 400,000 pay-per-views in the United States, a record for the lower weight classes, and there seemed no way a matchup with the solid but limited and little-known Diaz could possibly do better than that.

Arum, however, says he was mapping out a longer-term plan.

"I was beginning to feel what I had in Manny Pacquiao, basically because of the adoration from the Filipinos, whether in this country or elsewhere," Arum told reporters at the MGM Grand, where Pacquiao will finally meet Marquez for a third time this Saturday. "So I knew I had someone, like [Cassius] Clay, who, if I could only bring him to the attention of the general public, could be someone quite special."

Which, perhaps counterintuitively, is where Diaz came in.

"I realized the only way he could be special is if he fought higher-weight fights, if he fought guys like [Oscar] De La Hoya, like [Miguel] Cotto, like [Antonio] Margarito and not if he just limited himself to the fighters at 126 and 130 [pounds]," Arum said. "We luckily promoted David Diaz, who was a very good fighter, but nothing exceptional. And he lucked into a WBC lightweight title, and then he defended it against Erik Morales and barely eked out a win, and so I figured that that was the move. Even though it would [sell], which it did, [to] less homes than a third fight -- and it didn't do particularly well -- it wouldn't make it crazy when I could pull off the impossible and put him in with De La Hoya. As it was, after he beat Diaz, the Philippine Congress passed a resolution saying he shouldn't leave the country because he was going to get killed [by the much larger De La Hoya]. Can you imagine if he hadn't fought Diaz?"

Even so, Arum had second thoughts about the notion of putting in his young phenom with his former phenom, who had been fighting at junior middleweight and even middleweight -- more than 20 pounds higher than the weight at which Pacquiao was now campaigning -- since 2001.

"When the De La Hoya fight became possible, I had a big meeting -- I'll never forget it -- with Pacquiao in the suite at the Mandalay [Bay]," said Arum. "And I said: 'Manny, do you know what you're doing here? De La Hoya's so much bigger, so much stronger, you're liable to get hurt. There's a lot easier guys to fight. I'm telling you all of this because I want you to realize that maybe you shouldn't fight him.' And he got angry, and he said, 'I want to fight De La Hoya. I know I can beat him.' He looked at me with those steely eyes, and he really was sincere. It wasn't a question of the money or anything else. That's when I knew we had a helluva shot, and Freddie [Roach], who had trained Oscar, told us that Manny was going to beat Oscar. So we knew it internally, although Bruce [Trampler, Top Rank's Hall of Fame matchmaker], who knows fights, was leaning toward De La Hoya."

Of course, Pacquiao demolished De La Hoya in December 2008, sending the Golden Boy into retirement, and went on to defeat Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto before taking on larger-yet foes such as Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito. Arum admits that, in the aftermath of the Margarito fight, he realized matching the former flyweight with such relatively hefty opponents had to end.

"After he fought Margarito, when he told me how much he was hurting from those body shots -- to the public, it looked like a one-sided fight, but really, Margarito banged him around to the body, and the guy hurt him. He was in pain for a month. I thought, 'Am I crazy? I can't keep him fighting bigger guys all the time.' So he's in with Marquez now, and maybe down the road he'll fight Timothy Bradley, guys he matches up better with physically."

For that reason, Arum is dismissive of the notion of a matchup with middleweight champ Sergio Martinez, even if Martinez commits to weigh in at 150 and weigh no more than 164 on fight night. If Martinez and promoter Lou DiBella really want to make that fight, Arum says, he has an idea that is simultaneously novel and old school:

"Now, what I would say is, if you really want to fight Manny Pacquiao, you say you want to fight him at 150, let's go to a commission -- not necessarily this [Nevada] commission; maybe New York, maybe Texas -- and say, 'Both fighters want to do the fight and they want to go back to the old days and they want to do the weigh-in at noon on the day of the fight.' Once they do that, we can start talking."

As for the never-ending saga of the prospect of a bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr., Arum, naturally, puts the blame for the fight not being made solely on the man from Michigan.

"It's not a question of him making it difficult," Arum said of Mayweather. "He's making it impossible, because he's not making it. I thought to myself: 'OK, maybe he's got a point, even though I think it's baloney on this doping/drug test thing.' So Manny and I discussed it, and I said, 'Manny, even though they can, they're not going to go into the dressing room on the night of the fight to take blood, and if they do, let 'em take it from your ass, not your arm. So he said, 'OK, OK, no conditions.' None. And then [Mayweather]'s on [TV] this weekend, saying, 'I'll fight him, take the test.' What is he saying? And why doesn't the press take him up on it? How many times are we supposed to say that that is not an issue?"

Whether that fight does or does not happen, time for potential opponents is running out. Pacquiao's boxing career, says Arum, has a finite time remaining and a clear end date.

"Let me give you the political situation. He's now a Congressman from Sarangani. His term is up in 2013, when he will run for governor of Sarangani Province, and probably win," Arum said. "That's the end of boxing, because as a [Filipino] congressman -- like [U.S.] congressmen -- you don't work very hard. It's the truth! Some of them do, but how many days are they in session? Two days a week?

"But as a governor, it's different. As a governor, you've got to run the whole province; you're responsible for the water, the electricity, everything. So that's what he's going to concentrate on, and then in 2016, he's going to run for the Senate, which is a six-year term, and then in 2022 when he'll be over 40 years of age, that's the first time he's eligible to run for president. So that's a big, tough, political career to build up to, and he won't have time -- nor should he have time -- to spare coming over to the Wild Card, doing press conferences and so on."