Give Lucian Bute credit for hitting road
March, 8, 2012
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
Your random thoughts ...
• A tip of the hat to super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute for his willingness, almost eagerness, to leave his comfort zone of Quebec -- when he didn't have to -- to defend his title in Carl Froch's hometown of Nottingham, England, on May 26. You can be sure that Bute, who draws sellout crowds in Montreal and Quebec City, is leaving money on the table by going to England. But he's doing it because that's what real fighters do.
• I'm as bummed as any boxing fan by the apparent implosion of the Brandon Rios-Yuriorkis Gamboa lightweight title bout scheduled for April 14 on HBO. Gamboa apparently is pulling out after skipping both kickoff news conferences this week and complaining about the deal that Top Rank says he agreed to. When that fight first came up, the styles of the fighters and the matchup immediately reminded me of the all-time classic bout between Julio Cesar Chavez and Meldrick Taylor.
• One fight I would like to see in the future would match Gamboa with hair-brushing expert and junior lightweight titlist Adrien Broner. That would be explosive, and the speed matchup would be ridiculous. Of course, it's unlikely to happen anytime soon because Gamboa is with Top Rank and Broner is with Golden Boy. But I can dream.
• I can't wait to see the junior welterweight bout between Lucas Matthysse and Humberto Soto, which is due to take place on Showtime on the undercard of the Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto rematch on June 23. To me, it's a can't-miss fight. Matthysse-Soto has action written all over it.
• I've thoroughly enjoyed HBO's new 15-minute "2 Days" features, which follows fighters during the two days prior to an upcoming bout. So far, two fighters have been profiled, Rios and James Kirkland. Both shows have been outstanding, but the piece on Rios, which followed him in the two agonizing days before his December fight with John Murray, was mesmerizing. HBO's David Roofthooft, who oversees "2 Days" and the network's "Face Off with Max Kellerman," did a masterful job of making viewers feel like they were with Rios as he severely struggled, and ultimately failed, to make weight and was stripped of his lightweight title. It is 15 of the most riveting minutes of television I've ever seen.
• I was disappointed that the IBF didn't order a rematch between light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud and Gabriel Campillo, who got robbed Feb. 18. Other than the two judges who scored it for Cloud, I have yet to encounter anyone else -- other than Cloud and his own team -- who thought he won.
• After watching Alexander Povetkin struggle badly to keep his paper heavyweight belt against cruiserweight titlist Marco Huck -- like many, I thought Huck clearly won -- we all know why Teddy Atlas, Povetkin's former trainer, kept him far away from Wladimir Klitschko, the real champion, even with a career-high $2 million-plus payday at stake for the mandatory fight. Povetkin couldn't handle a decent right hand from Huck. Klitschko, with the best right hand in boxing, would knock Povetkin's head off his shoulders.
• If Mikey Garcia defeats Bernabe Concepcion on Saturday's Showtime undercard, he'll be 28-0. It'll be time for a title shot, already.
• I found it amusing that David Haye seemed to throw more punches at Dereck Chisora during their recent brawl at the news conference following Chisora's lopsided loss to Vitali Klitschko than Haye threw in his actual fight with Wladimir Klitschko last summer. Speaking of Chisora, I found it typical of the wretched WBC that it banned him indefinitely for the brawl with Haye, but when it came to Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s guilty plea on a domestic battery charge against his ex-girlfriend, WBC president for life Jose Sulaiman not only didn't suspend Mayweather, he endorsed violence against women by initially commenting on Mayweather's case that "beating a lady is highly critical, [but] it is not a major sin or crime." How sweet. I'm sure the women in his family are so proud.
• I'm still a bit shocked that Sonny Boy Jaro knocked out Pongsaklek Wonjongkam to win a flyweight title last week. It'll take something crazy to happen in the coming months for that fight to be unseated as upset of the year.
• I am mildly intrigued by Showtime's May 26 cruiserweight fight between Antonio Tarver and Lateef Kayode. I'm not at all for Showtime's April 21 fight between Abner Mares and Eric Morel. Love Mares, but Morel makes bad fights. Always has.
• Good luck to former middleweight titlist Sebastian Sylvester, 31, of Germany, who has announced his retirement. Sylvester (34-5-1, 16 KOs) was never the No. 1 middleweight, but he was a top-10 guy for several years, fought a number of quality opponents and won a world title in 2009. He made three defenses, before going out having lost his last two fights. However, he got knocked out in the first round of his pro debut in 2002 and regrouped to become one of the rare fighters to lose his debut and go on to win a title.
• Happy birthday to all-time great trainer Freddie Roach, who turned 52 on Monday.
• DVD pick of the week: It's one of the most significant fights in history -- they called it the "Fight of the Century" -- and it never gets old. It's the first epic battle between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, both undefeated at the time and both with a claim to the heavyweight championship. Frazier had the belt, but he had won it only after Ali had been stripped and banned from boxing for refusing induction into the Army. Ali returned in late 1970 and fought twice before he faced Frazier on March 8, 1971 -- exactly 41 years ago -- at Madison Square Garden in New York in one of the most anticipated fights ever. Ali controlled the early action, but Frazier came back to even it up in the middle rounds before taking over in the late rounds. Early in the 15th round, Frazier landed his classic left hook to Ali's jaw and dropped him to punctuate a unanimous decision victory in the first fight of their historic trilogy.