Boxing: sergio martinez

MSG set to sizzle for Martinez-Cotto

March, 11, 2014
Miguel Cotto and Sergio MartinezElsa/Getty ImagesMiguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez will rumble at The Garden on June 7.
Among the three most high-profile bouts set for the next few months, the Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto scrap set for June 7 at Madison Square Garden is perhaps getting the most amount of respect from fight fans.

On April 26, Manny Pacquiao will show the world if Timothy Bradley has supplanted him on the pound-for-pound list, and then, on May 3, Floyd Mayweather will quite likely put on another master class of pugilism to make Marcos Maidana look more like a crude practitioner than the fella who pulled off the upset of the year in 2013, against Adrien Broner. But it is the June square-off between WBC middleweight champion Martinez (51-2-2 with 28 KOs), the model-handsome but injury-dogged stylist, and Puerto Rican legend Cotto (38-4 with 31 KOs), making a challenging leap to a weight class 20 pounds north of where he did most of his best work, that seems to get many fight-watchers extra jazzed.

The setting, which all expect to be a celebration of electricity at an expected sold-out MSG, contributes to the anticipation. But the clash -- which pits the athletic/balletic manner of Martinez, the 39-year-old Argentine who enjoys uniform support from those inside and outside the business as a solid citizen who respects the sport and all souls, against the always-ready-to-rumble Cotto -- is making mouths water.

The hitters gathered at MSG on Tuesday to hype the promotion, which is being staged by Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, and will be screened on HBO pay-per-view.

In the battle before the battle, Martinez came away with his hand raised, as he lightly mocked Cotto for a diva attitude that netted Cotto the "catchweight" of 159 pounds, which he believes will aid him, and superior placement on fight posters.

"Cotto will ask for rose petals or he won't walk into the ring," Martinez cracked, drawing healthy chuckles from the media and a couple hundred fans who got tickets to see the preshow.

Martinez, who last gloved up in April 2013 (a 12-round unanimous decision over Martin Murray), will enter the ring with question marks hanging over his head. His right knee has been opened up three times in the past few years, and he hasn't even been cleared to do road work. Promoter DiBella told ESPN New York that he cannot guarantee Sergio's body won't have the odd ache or two on fight night, but he declared that the Argentine has a superior pain tolerance and won't allow his knee to be his downfall.

Cotto is no ace as a trash-talker. He promised that the fans will be the big winners and claims he couldn't recall an incident Martinez said fuels him. Around three or four years ago, the two crossed paths at an event, and Cotto blew him off, Martinez said. Cotto shrugged off the "incident."

"If that's motivation, good for him," said the 33-year-old, who is coming off a third-round TKO win over Delvin Rodriguez in October.

If you wanted combat, you had to appreciate the 82-year-old Arum, who strode to the mic, and whereupon he heard some fans booing him, yelled "Shaddup!" and waved a dismissive hand. They piped down, having been handled by a master at both heckling and heckler deflation.

Fight fans, talk to us. Will Sergio be too big for Cotto? Will his left-handed stance prove to be too tricky, coupled with his slick movement, for the more plodding Puerto Rican? Or will Cotto be able to build on his new relationship with trainer Freddie Roach, and land some of those rib-smashing left hooks, which he's gotten away from in recent years? Could Sergio's legs and knee betray him, allowing Cotto to get in his face and grind him down? Weigh in!

Martinez vs. Cotto at the Garden? Maybe

December, 23, 2013
Two of the biggest names in the biz will face off at Madison Square Garden next June, it appears. Sergio Martinez -- the top name in the middleweight division -- could welcome former 140-pound, 147-pound and 154-pound titlist Miguel Cotto to his 'hood, and let him have a crack at a crown in a fourth weight class.

Nathan Lewkowicz -- who works with his father, Sampson Lewkowicz, advising the Argentina-born hitter nicknamed "Maravilla" who turns 39 on Feb. 21 and has been on the shelf healing from injuries -- told that the package isn't wrapped with a bow on top just yet.

"Promoter Lou Dibella is negotiating with Top Rank, on Cotto's side," Lewkowicz said. "It's not a done deal, there's still a lot to go before they get it done."

Cotto, the Puerto Rican who is the third-most powerful eyeball magnet behind Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in the game, told Boxing Scene that he wants Martinez. He said he's choosing the lefty Martinez (51-2-2 with 28 KOs) -- who last fought in April, downing Martin Murray in Argentina via unanimous decision -- over young gun Canelo Alvarez, last seen getting an embarrassing tutorial in all aspects of the sweet science on Nov. 3.

We see Martinez as the favorite if and when the fight comes to fruition, mostly because he's better suited to and more acclimated at 160 pounds. He's been injury-prone of late, however, and tasted the canvas once in each of his last three bouts, against Murray, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Matthew Macklin.

Cotto (38-4 with 31 KOs) has had a resurgence in buzz, after being perceived as near the end of the pugilistic road following back-to-back losses to Mayweather and then Austin Trout. The 33-year-old looked sharp and destructive in his last tussle, against journeyman Delvin Rodriguez (third-round TKO) in October.

Would his return to form, which means a focus on ripping left hooks to the body, be as meaningful against a true 160-pounder? We're guessing no. Your thoughts, readers?

Martinez promises KO of Chavez Jr.

July, 12, 2012
Sergio Martinez expects this fight to be super tough, he told NYFightBlog on Thursday.

Martinez (49-2) expects that he will do his thing, and outbox Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-0-1) on Sept. 15 in Las Vegas, stopping him in Round 11. He thinks Junior will be as difficult a foe to combat as he's been in with. That includes Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams. He believes, however, that he will be helped by his mental edge. "I look in his eyes and I know I am in his head," the 37-year-old Martinez told me, through interpreter Nathan Lewkowicz, the son of his advisor, Sampson Lewkowicz. And what does he see in his eyes? "Fear," Martinez answered.

Is Chavez similar to Kelly Pavlik, in that he will be the larger man on fight night? "Not really," Martinez told me. Yes, both men come forward, but Pavlik moves in a straight line, while Chavez uses his legs and the ring more. Martinez says he isn't ceding anything to the kid.

He still feels as fresh as he did five or so years ago.

Chavez Jr. calls Sergio a 'ballerina'

July, 12, 2012
Tempers flared, mildly, as Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. mocked Sergio Martinez, saying he found his true calling as a "ballerina," during a Thursday press conference at the Edison Ballroom in NYC to hype the Chavez-Martinez bout which unfolds on Sept. 15 in Las Vegas.

Chavez, the son of the Hall of Famer Chavez Sr. who has in his own right become a respected hitter in the sphere, referenced Martinez's stint on Argentina's "Dancing with the Stars." Martinez has danced twice on that show, and will be back next season, to dance more.

A source tells us that during a promo photo shoot before the presser, Junior had a game face on, was semi-surly, while Martinez seemed more relaxed.

The background here: Martinez has for about two years called a Junior a chicken, saying that he was avoiding this fight. Rather than seeing that as gamesmanship, and business, it looks like Chavez has internalized it. His father, we hear, is even more heated, sticking up for his son, and looked a couple times at the presser like he wants to come out of retirement.

The most heat during the presser came when Fernando Beltran, Chavez' co-promoter, reminded all that he went on a radio show in Mexico about seven months ago and called Martinez an expletive deleted. That enraged Martinez's advisor Sampson Lewkowicz, who stood up and looked ready to rumble in NYC, but order was restored.

Tonight, the fighters will tape Max Kellerman's "Face Off" from 3 to 7 p.m. at a studio in Chelsea. One can guess some more bad blood will boil there.

Quillin talks Chavez Jr.-Sergio Martinez

June, 20, 2012
NYFightBlog checked in with Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin, the rising middleweight contender who is coming off his career-best win, a UD10 over future hall of Famer Winky Wright on June 2 in Carson, Calif.

We wanted to know what he thought of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s rubout of Irishman Andy Lee on Saturday night. Junior, who holds the WBC middleweight strap, stopped challenger Lee in round seven in Texas.

"I said before the fight that Chavez has the durability to beat Andy Lee," said the fighter who took the nickname of a Cuban superstar fighter active from 1927-1938, who retired with a 135-10-6 mark. "Chavez can take punishment but Andy Lee in my opinion didn't have that durability. "

And how will Chavez, the son of the Mexican legend who has opened eyes for being a decent boxer in his own right and not someone who is purely riding daddy's coattails to fame and fortune, fare against Sergio Martinez, whom he is slated to face in September?

"I think Chavez puts up a better fight against Sergio than people give him credit for," Quillin (father was born in Cuba, he was born in Michigan; 27-0 with 20 KOs; age 28; splits time between N.Y. and L.A.) said. "If Sergio can be on his toes and box, or if he can hurt Chavez when he punches him then the fight goes in his favor. But if Chavez can withstand Sergio's punching power and keep up his pressure and do what he has been doing his last few outings then the fight will go in his favor. But that's an all-around great scrap for boxing fans."

And what about what's next for him?

"Well, I should know by the end of the week when my next fight is," he said. "I'll be ready because I want to stay busy just like the original Kid Chocolate did in his career in prizefighting."

Martinez beats Macklin by TKO in 11

March, 18, 2012
Sergio Martinez knocked down Matthew Macklin twice in the 11th round, and the Irishman's cornermen pulled the plug on their man after the round, giving Martinez the win in a middleweight tiff at the Madison Square Garden Theater.

I had Martinez up 7-3-1, giving him credit for landing the harder, cleaner punches even though I thought he did more dancing and less punching than I would have liked.

Macklin gave a solid account of himself, but although he didn't succumb to using reckless pressure, neither did he often enough cut off the ring and force Martinez to stop moving when and where he wanted.

"Macklin came to fight," the victor, now 49-2-2, stated. "It was definitely tougher than I thought it would be."

Martinez said afterward that he would wait patiently for the big bouts, the Floyd Mayweathers and Manny Pacquiaos, because he's not as old as people think. He's 37, though, so time is not infinite. Readers, give Sergio a grade.

Chavez can, should step up to Sergio

February, 14, 2012
Most boxing folks consider Sergio Martinez, the Argentine boxer who now lives in California and who will headline against Irishman Matthew Macklin at the MSG Theater on March 17, to be the best middleweight in the world. That he currently lacks a title doesn't diminish Martinez, 36, in the eyes of true fans, though dabblers might not see it that way.

One of the titleholders at 160 pounds is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who holds the WBC belt that Martinez possessed until he gave it up in January 2011, willingly, because he didn't want to fight the No. 1-ranked middleweight at that time, Sebastian Zbik.

Fight fans think it makes a ton of sense for the ex-WBC champ and the current WBC kingpin to hash it all out in a ring. The Chavez people -- among them Bob Arum, the fighter's promoter -- haven't seemed to share that vision. Arum said a few days ago that he thinks Chavez needs two more fights, some more seasoning, before he'll be ready for Martinez.

We can accept that reasoning. We might not fully agree, but we see the wisdom there. The WBC, meanwhile, sounds like it wants Martinez-Chavez next, if Martinez gets past Macklin. Here is an excerpt from a release sent out by WBC chief Jose Sulaiman:

"Julio Cesar Chavez quieted many people and showed that he is the champion of the world and ready to fight any challenger. His promoters are announcing other names than Martinez for his next fight, trying perhaps to embarrass the WBC, but it is Julio Cesar who must decide, and I just hope that he will not step against his WBC, where he has found support and several titles since his very beginning. It is said that promoter Bob Arum has stated that he will have Julio fight others, as he would like to see me withdraw recognition from such a Mexican hero. I thought that Bob knew me better. I believe in reciprocal loyalty, as otherwise there is no loyalty, and I accept that Martinez offended me, even when the WBC has been the only organization that gave him the opportunities to be what he is. But my obligation is not to react to pressures, offenses, words or threats. My commitment is to follow the rules of the WBC, as well as the rulings of its board of governors."

Chavez, who turns 26 on Thursday, is no kid. Martinez is certainly no kid. I've seen evidence of him sliding physically. I'd like to see Chavez stand behind his belt, grab the reins and tell Arum that he wants the immense challenge that is Martinez. (It might not be as immense a challenge as many think. ...) I'd like to see more fighters aside from Chavez do the same, actually. If this occurs, it might mean that the promoters leave some money on the table in the short term, but long term, it will grow the sport. Fans will get more pick-'em fights and more of the matchups that they, and wisdom, dictate and crave.

Sulaiman is right: the fighter holds the power. Chavez, and so many of these marquee names, can step up and seize the challenge or shrink and let the promoters do their talking for them. Today, too often they allow the promoters, whom, we must not forget, are businessmen first and foremost, to be the scapegoat when big fights don't get made.

Rubio insinuates Chavez Jr. uses PEDs

February, 5, 2012
Shame on Marco Antonio Rubio. His foe at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Saturday night, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., outfought him, by a wide margin. Chavez won a unanimous decision, by scores of 118-110 (to me, spot on) and 116-112 (not spot on) and 115-113 (not in the ballpark). Rubio threw a lot, but his punches lacked pop, and much of his time was spent expending wasted motion.

Rubio, in my opinion, was very fortunate to get this title shot. In a previous opportunity, against Kelly Pavlik in 2009, he simply stunk the joint out. To his credit, he won 10 straight after that, though his opponents were of mixed caliber. In San Antonio, he gave an earnest, if thoroughly unexceptional effort. He could have been thankful for the opportunity, taken his more-than healthy check, tipped his cap to Chavez and been on his way. But instead, in a video interview on the Boxing Channel, he chose after the bout to take an ever more-common route following a loss: He insinuated that his foe was a cheater. Rubio said that no PED testing was done for the bout, said he was surprised at how well Chavez recuperated during the bout and therefore suspects he was using an illegal performance-enhancing supplement or supplements.

Not cool.

If there is smoke, then we can talk fire. But just because someone shows more strength and stamina than you thought he possessed, you can't go and contribute to hurting his rep by calling him a cheater.

Shame on Rubio.

"I felt him very big," the Mexican said in Spanish, "he regained a lot of weight. I regained my usual weight." He had a point there, as Chavez gained 22 pounds from the Friday weigh-in, when he was 159½ pounds, to fight night. This meant he was at 181 pounds and Rubio weighed 171. All organizations should cap the amount of weight a fighter can gain from weigh-in to fight night, at no more than 10 or 12 pounds. This would help ensure an even playing field and encourage men not to put themselves at risk by starving themselves to make a lower weight class than their body can handle.

"I don't want to make any excuses, he beat me," Rubio said. But he then went off the script, saying Chavez fought a "real dirty" fight. "They didn't even do any testing, which should have been done," he said. Asked explicitly if he believes Junior dopes, Rubio said, "I feel he recouped exceptionally fast. This really took us by surprise. There was no testing done, and in a championship fight, testing needs to be done. There was no weigh-ins done the days or weeks before the fight, and I feel that he was very well-protected." Rubio did finish by saying he thinks Junior is a "good fighter" but that he thinks Sergio Martinez is the real middleweight champion.

Note: I am not certain about the testing that did or didn't go on in Texas. If typical routines were not followed -- and that wouldn't surprise me; Texas is something of a rogue commission at times -- then Rubio makes a decent point. But it isn't right to make a leap of logic, that because there was no testing and Junior was strong that he's using.

Rubio owes Chavez Jr. an apology.
"They will try and take each others' head off," promoter Lou DiBella promised at a presser at MSG on Wednesday, telling the assembled that the style matchup insures Sergio Martinez-Matthew Macklin will be a fan-friendly tussle at Madison Square Garden.

Martinez' adviser Sampson Lewkowicz took to the mike, and thanked HBO, Kery Davis and Ken Hershman. He called Sergio "the real middleweight champion of the world." He said that he calls the Irish the "European Mexicans," because they have such ample heart in the ring. That heart will be on display when Macklin, he said, fights his tail off on March 17.

The birthday boy said that Martinez is a champ "in and out of the ring," stating that the fighter goes to battered women's shelters, and sheds real tears when he hears the stories of battered women.

--Andy Lee, the Irish middleweight who will fight on the Martinez-Macklin card, thanked Manny Steward, his manager, promoter Lou DiBella, and HBO, who is using him for a third fight in 12 months, at the MSG presser on Wednesday.

Lee promised his foe, the always rough 'n ready TBA, a St. Paddy's Day beating on March 17 at the MSG Theatre. He said he'd be looking to get a title crack after he shows what he's got on March 17.

DiBella said that Lee lobbied him hard to fight Martinez, and is happy that he did so. Soon, DiBella, said, Lee would have his time in the sun.

--Macklin's promoter Brian Peters spoke. He said that tix are on sale for the March 17 card, and he thinks that the Theatre will sell out, so get 'em while they are available. He said that Macklin will pull off a mathematical impossibility, and will give "120 percent" come fight night.

--DiBella hopes to set a beer-sale record on March 17. "Leave your car keys at home," he quipped.
WBC president Jose Sulaiman should be working on his New Year resolution to think before he speaks, and generally, try to act less like a ninny, and cast the sport of boxing in a bad light.

You’ll recall Sulaiman inserted both feet in mouth on Dec. 27, when he told writer Ronnie Nathanielsz of Boxing Scene that “beating a lady is highly critical, [but] it is not a major sin or crime.”

He was speaking in the context of Floyd Mayweather, currently the WBC welterweight champion who just happens to gross obscene amounts of money when he fights, some of which trickles down to the WBC in sanctioning fees and publicity. Basically, Sulaiman was sucking up to Mayweather, most pundits felt, and trying to stay in his good graces during Floyd’s difficult period, as he awaited his trip to jail for 90 days on a domestic battery charge.

Mayweather’s jail stint was moved from Jan. 6 to June 1, because on Friday the justice presiding over his case allowed his request for the incarceration period to be postponed. Mayweather is due to fight May 5, so the justice gave him wiggle room, so as not to punish him further, by removing a significant economic windfall.

A few days after Sulaiman stepped in that pile of excrement and inserted both his feet in mouth, he issues a “clarification.”

“I would like to clarify my feelings about some recent comments of mine, and apologize for not finding the right words in English - there are many times when I cannot find the right words to express what I really mean. The comments attributed to me are a complete misrepresentation of my true feelings.

He basically blamed his imperfect grasp of English for the insensitive remark, but never properly explained how he garbled the original statements, what he meant to say instead.

Basically, no one bought the “clarification.” WBC middleweight champion emeritus Sergio Martinez hammered Sulaiman publicly for his gross remarks, no surprise since Martinez is heavily involved in the cause of preventing violence against women. Yahoo's Kevin Iole, the respect fightwriter, called for Sulaiman to be booted.

Some called for his dismissal from the organization he’s headed since 1975, feeling that perhaps it was time for the 80 year-old to step aside, let a more progressive person have a go. He has resisted the call.

Jill Diamond does some work for the WBC. She acts as an official on their behalf during some title fights, and does pro-bono work in the philanthropy realm, spreading the word about the positive aspects of the sport, while helping raise significant funds for various youth organizations as the chair of World Boxing Cares. As I was tinkering in my GMail account, I noticed that her email address is I was a bit floored. So I emailed her, and asked her take on the Sulaiman remarks fiasco. Here is her response.

No one who knows Jose would believe for an instant he was supporting or diminishing the effects of domestic abuse, or cruelty of any kind. There are many heinous crimes, in some countries, that are not considered "sins" or "Illegal" and I believe that's what he meant. He is behind the anti bullying campaign that just put Monique McClain back into school, he ran to Christy Martin's side when she was a victim, and he is one of the most respectful people I know, when it comes to women's rights. Why take the words of an 80 year old man, from a different culture, who speaks a different language, out of context? He has no history to support the criticism. I think what he was saying was that he would stand by Floyd, despite (not because), and not abandon him, or any other boxer. As for my email address -- I believe no one, outside the ring, should hit any living thing unless in self defense. So it says.. Never hit a lady -- unless you want to be hit back! I hope this explains my view point.

So..for the record. I still do not buy Sulaiman's "clarification" and think this misstep will remain part of his legacy. But there are folks who think otherwise. For the record.

Lorenzo would like to fight for crown in NY

January, 5, 2012
Dominican-born Bronx resident Giovanni Lorenzo is ready to get some more stamps on his passport. The 31 year-old with a 31-4 mark has been two Germany twice and France once in his quest to snag a middleweight crown, and while he says he's willing to risk losing luggage again, he'd love to get a shot here in the States, too. “I’m ready for a huge 2012," he said. "I’ll go anywhere to fight but would love to fight in New York City.

He might get a better look from the judges than he did in France, against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam for the interim WBA world middleweight title in April.

He dropped N’Jikam in the fifth and came out ahead in CompuBox numbers, but lost a UD. "I've fought the best in Europe right in their backyards," he said. "I want a big fight here in America, so I can have my fans support me and not have to worry about getting robbed by the European judges. I'm ready for anybody, bring it on!"

Lorenzo dropped a SD to Sebastian Sylvester in Germany in 2009, and a UD to Felix Sturm in Germany a year later. With middleweight ace Sergio Martinez fighting in NY in March against Matthew Macklin, and building up his fanbase here, seeing as how both are promoted by NY's Lou DiBella, we could see Lorenzo getting his wish, and getting a title crack close to home...
Sergio Martinez is one of the best boxers in the world, quite used to plying his trade while being nearly naked.

Well, the Argentine went a step further, and shed the shorts, and everything else, in the latest issue of "ESPN The Magazine."

The images, taken from The Body Issue, and on newsstands and burning up mailboxes this week, are safe for work.


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Video: Lou DiBella interview

September, 15, 2011

Lou DiBella, who promotes Sergio Martinez, talks to NYFightBlog from the Red Lion in Greenwich Village.
New York City is sometimes described as the greatest city in the world. That may be so in some regards, but in the eyes of middleweight boxer Andy Lee, the description doesn't fit.

Lee (26-1 with 19 KOs) came to the United States from Ireland in 2005. He arrived from Limerick, which is known as "Stab City" to some, because of its rough-'n-tumble vibe. He settled with trainer Manny Steward in Detroit, then soon after came to NYC to enjoy some of the buzz Derry transplant John Duddy was luxuriating in.

He lived in New York from 2006-09, but it proved difficult to concentrate on the ring ascent. The 27-year-old Lee spoke to NYFightblog on Wednesday afternoon at a press conference to hype his Oct. 1 bout in Atlantic City. He'll fight Brian Vera at Boardwalk Hall in a rematch of their 2008 scrap, which the heavy underdog Vera won via TKO. This scrap is the top support bout to the Sergio Martinez-Darren Barker main event.

"I liked New York, but I had to get back to Detroit for boxing," Lee told me. "Too many distractions in New York. It's a rat race. You have to hustle for the rent. And then there's the nightlife, the friends. There were good times, but it wasn't good for boxing."

Lee expects he'll get by Vera, who is a banger with skills and endless stamina, this time. His eyes are wide open as to what happened in their 2008 tussle. "The first time, it was on ESPN. I underestimated him. I was unprepared and overconfident. I expected the fight to be another fight in my step up. I was playing to the crowd. I was immature."

If and when Lee gets past the 19-5 Vera, he has his sites set on bigger game in the division. Martinez, like Lee promoted by Lou DiBella, is the marquee name. Lee would welcome a crack at his stablemate. "On any day, I'm as good as any middleweight out there. Sergio is the only guy I would fight and think before, 'You'll go in and win this one easy.'" But I wouldn't be mesmerized by his tricks, his feints. I think good, basic boxing would beat him."
Full slate for NYFightblog starting tomorrow.

I'm hitting a luncheon for Andy Lee (26-1), the middleweight trained by Manny Steward who is looking to make the leap from contender to Contender.

Lee, born in Ireland, living in The City, will fight Brian Vera (19-5; age 29; lives in Texas) on Oct. 1. That bout is a rematch of a 2008 fight Lee lost and will run on the undercard of the Sergio Martinez-Darren Barker scrap in Atlantic City.

Vera is a journeyman, but on the upper crust of journeymen. He will simply beat you if you are not physically and mentally prepared, even if perhaps you supposedly possess more skills than he does. He's the sort of fighter who some smart folks are trying to re-position in the fight game. Yes, he has losses. Yes, he may never advance to to be premium talent. But he simply takes part in fan-friendly fights. Call it the UFC influence, which hasn't been embraced by boxing's suits, but IMO, should be. Just because a man has lost some bouts does not make him less of an attraction. Oh, and Lee, by the way, may also in the near future be assessed the same way as I just did Vera ...

Also looking to have a chat with Brooklyn's Sechew Powell (26-3; age 32). The junior middleweight had a shot at a crown, but came up short for the IBF 154-pound strap against Cornelius Bundrage on June 25 in Missouri. Powell has been on the cusp for many a moon, and I wonder if he's feeling some urgency, if he's wondering if things will ever break his way.

I feel some fondness for him, I admit, because I did a feature on him for the late Boxing Digest Magazine around 2003, when he'd had a handful of pro fights, and so I have always followed his goings-on that much more closely.

Powell has stayed busy giving Floyd Mayweather sparring in Las Vegas the last few weeks, so we'll get some insight on how Floyd has looked. Is he still all that, or does he look like a 34-year-old guy in the ring now, with diminished reflexes?

Also slated to chat with ex-super bantam champ Joan Guzman, once knocking on the door of pound-for-pound lists, now banging on the door, begging to be let back into the mix. The Brooklyn resident is 35; is it simply too late for the Dominican Republic native to get his head screwed on tight enough to have one more title run? He's had more trouble with the scale than anything else recently, so we'll keep a close eye on his poundage sitch when he tangles with Armando Robles (17-1) on Oct. 1 in the D.R.

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