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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Stripping Forrest was right move by WBC


The return of random thoughts …

• Maybe hell has actually frozen over. Perhaps, if you look out the window, you'll see pigs flying. My reasoning: I actually agree with something the WBC has done. Better print out this blog post as proof, because it doesn't happen often.

The WBC finally stripped Vernon Forrest of its junior middleweight title last week for his failure to make a long-overdue defense against deserving interim titlist Sergio Martinez. It was the right move. Forrest tried to avoid the fight multiple times when Martinez was ready, willing and able.

Forrest and Martinez had agreed to terms for an Aug. 1 bout on Showtime, but I never really believed it would happen. Of course, Forrest eventually pulled out. He claimed the same rib injury that also prevented an April tune-up fight would prevent him from facing Martinez in August. I'm not saying Forrest isn't legitimately injured. But if he's hurt, it couldn't have happened at a better time, because he simply never wanted to tangle with Martinez. Too little reward for too much risk, and at this late stage of his career Forrest knows a loss spells the end for him in terms of big paydays.

But you didn't think I would agree entirely with the WBC, did you? In stripping Forrest of the belt, it also gave him the silly and ludicrous title of "ambassador of peace and good will in the world through sports." Huh? Whatever. Maybe someday the WBC will appoint an "interim ambassador emeritus of peace and good will in the world through sports in recess." In giving Forrest the pointless title, it also gave him the opportunity to face Martinez as soon as he is able to fight, with the stipulation that Forrest would be entitled to 55 percent of the money in the event of a purse bid. The financial split should favor Martinez, not Forrest. Even when the WBC does something right, it shoots itself in the foot. Guess it doesn't really matter. We all know Forrest isn't ever going to fight Martinez.

• Deepest condolences to Mike Tyson and his family regarding the death of his 4-year-old daughter, Exodus. Of all the things Tyson has been through in his roller coaster of a life, this figures to be the toughest thing he will ever endure. Hang in there, Mike.

• Unless Kelly Pavlik or Arthur Abraham suddenly wants to fight Paul Williams, I'd love to see Williams take on Martinez. If that fight happens, the winner would be, in my opinion, the best junior middleweight in the world.

• If Alfredo Angulo knocks out Kermit Cintron on HBO Saturday night, I hope the referee will count it this time -- unlike referee Frank Santore Jr., who brutally blew the KO call when Martinez drilled Cintron in February.

• I don't know about you, but I'd actually be willing to pay to watch my ESPN pal Brian Kenny interview Floyd Mayweather Jr. about boxing for an hour. Their interview/debate on SportsCenter last week was as good as it gets. I just needed more than the 13 minutes it lasted.

• So, Edwin Valero turned down $200,000 to fight a stiff of his choice on Top Rank's July 25 pay-per-view card because it wasn't enough money and he wants only a big fight. Allow me to be the first to congratulate Valero on sealing valedictorian honors at the Winky Wright School of Boxing Business.

• Promoter Gary Shaw told me the other day that the WBO decided against sanctioning a fight between junior welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley and Joan Guzman, which would have taken place Aug. 1 on Showtime. I'm not entirely sure whom Bradley will fight next, but I wouldn't mind seeing him against Nate Campbell. I'm sure it would be a better fight than Bradley against Guzman.

• Although they were clearly forced into it because there's nowhere else to go, I was happy to hear that Chad Dawson and promoter Shaw are negotiating a rematch with Glen Johnson, with whom Dawson has unfinished business. And if the fight does come off, let's give HBO some credit for exerting enough pressure to get it done.

• Example No. 14,367 why boxing ain't dead, no matter what so many clueless general sports columnists and commentators seem to think: Top Rank announced that it already has sold more than 12,000 tickets to the June 13 welterweight title bout between Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey at Madison Square Garden. I'm really looking forward to the fight. By the time fight night arrives, there will be way more than 12,000 on hand. Madison Square Garden is going to rock.

• Top Rank's Bob Arum loves to blow smoke up everyone's rear end about putting on a fight at a major outdoor stadium and about doing a big fight in Macau. He talks about both seemingly all the time, and neither ever happens -- the latest example being a proposed Aug. 22 card headlined by Nonito Donaire at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Imagine how excited Arum would be by the prospect of a fight at a massive stadium in Macau?

• As is a common occurrence every few months, promoter Mike Acri announces a Paul Spadafora comeback fight against an opponent to be announced. Equally common is the follow-up announcement I expect any day now -- that the fight has been called off.

• So which is more common: The announcement of a Spadafora fight that doesn't happen or an Arum-proposed stadium bout or Macau event that never materializes? Publicist Fred Sternburg, who handles a lot of PR for Top Rank events and Acri, recently suggested that the next announcement might be that Spadafora is going to fight at a stadium in Macau.

• I was encouraged by the news that heavyweight contender Cris Arreola has hired strength and conditioning coach Darryl Hudson to help him get into shape. I just hope the move works out better than James Toney's hiring of Billy Blanks a few years ago.

• Whether 2008 U.S. Olympic heavyweight bronze medalist Deontay Wilder ever becomes a champion or a star remains to be seen. But even if he doesn't, he already has been an asset to boxing. Thanks to Wilder's lobbying efforts on behalf of a bill to establish a boxing commission in his home state of Alabama, Gov. Bill Riley signed into law the Alabama Boxing Act on May 20, which will establish the body to oversee professional bouts in the state. Now Wilder will be able to fight there. Good for him.

• Joining Mikkel Kessler on the increasingly crowded milk carton: Daniel Santos, David Tua and Jorge Linares.

• I'm not going to sit here and advocate for the fight, but I will say this: As long as Roy Jones Jr. and Jeff Lacy are going to keep fighting, I have no problem with them doing it against each other. It's a hell of a lot more interesting than seeing Jones smash a faded Omar Sheika or Lacy engage in a life-and-death struggle with Otis Griffin. That said, I think the fight should come with a stipulation that the loser must retire.

• James Kirkland still is behind bars, and I'm still totally bummed about him potentially throwing away a promising career.

• Billy Graham, former trainer for Ricky Hatton, is suing him for more than $1 million, claiming he's owed unpaid training fees. Graham trained Hatton for his whole career, until he was fired following Hatton's fight with Juan Lazcano in May 2008. Seems to me the court fight between them is going to be a whole lot more competitive than Hatton's fight earlier this month against Manny Pacquiao.

• DVD pick of the week: If Hatton getting smoked in two rounds by Pacquiao was the worst performance of his career, what was his best? I watched it when I dipped into the archive and went back to June 4, 2005 and the MEN Arena in Manchester, England. That's when and where Hatton -- a hungry, rising star -- met Kostya Tszyu, the well-respected future Hall of Famer and long-reigning junior welterweight champion. Hatton, with the hometown crowd on his side in the middle of the night (to accommodate Showtime's live TV coverage in the U.S.), bullied and battered Tszyu until he quit on his stool after the 11th round. It was the coronation of a new 140-pound king in Hatton, who reigned until Pacquiao destroyed him. Tszyu, while never officially announcing his retirement, hasn't fought since.