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A November to Remember (or at Least Look Forward To)

(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)
(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s finally over. The boxing malaise that was October- in which neither HBO or Showtime televised any major boxing of note and the most notable fight was the expected mismatch between Vitali Klitschko and Shannon Briggs- has finally come to an end. And as you turn your calendars to November, you see an abundance of big fights that upcoming.


A look ahead to the upcoming month...


- November 6th, Allan Green vs. Glen Johnson/Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Rafael Marquez (Showtime): Lopez-Marquez is another chapter in the storied history between Puerto Rico and Mexico and for as long as it lasts, it will be a shootout. I like Lopez in this one; yes, he might be a bit chinny but I think he’s the far fresher and naturally bigger fighter. However, Marquez can bang at any weight and he has never shied away from a fight. The question is, does he have the legs and reflexes anymore to deal with the likes of “JuanMa”?


As for the “Super Six” bout between Green and Johnson, there’s no doubt who I’d pick if both fighters were in their physical primes. For the first time, Johnson really started to show signs of corrosion in his bout with Tavoris Cloud in August. And then you add in the fact that he hasn’t made 168-pounds in about a decade; you’d think that youth would be served here, right?

The bottom line is this; if Green can’t beat this version of Johnson, I don’t want to hear any excuses.


Zab Judah vs. Lucas Matthysse/ Vicente Escobedo vs. Robert Guerrero (HBO): At the beginning of 2010, Judah was an afterthought in the fertile 140-pound division. But with a victory over the hard-hitting Matthysse, he once again will be a primetime player in this class. This is a battle of speed versus power and even today, Judah is one of the fastest, most explosive fighters around. Matthysse is a better, more technically sound version of his older brother, Walter. I’ll take Judah in this one; I like his experience and ability to move to offset the strength of Matthysse.


Opening up the HBO telecast at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey is a battle of two Golden Boy-promoted lightweights, Escobedo and Guerrero. I know I’m in the minority but I actually like this match-up. To me, the winner stays relevant, and the loser, well, they go back to “Solo Boxeo.” I think this will be a more entertaining scrap than most expect and I’ll take “The Ghost” based on his left-handed stance and size.


 - November 13th, Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito (HBO PPV): I’ll say it right now; this is a real fight. I know most observers don’t give the “Tijuana Tornado” any chance versus the “Pac-Man” but Margarito is a busy, strong, and active fighter who I know is focused and ready to go. Pacquiao? Well, it is what it is. Don’t know if I’m going with the “upset special” but I feel confident in saying that Margarito will be far more competitive than the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and certainly, Joshua Clottey.


Not only he is much bigger than Pacquiao but I’m not sure that the congressman has ever faced a fighter who will apply as much steady pressure and volume as he will on this night at Cowboy Stadium. Nobody really knows what’s going on with Pacquiao at the Wild Card Boxing Club or, just as importantly, inside his head but I know what’s going on at the Oxnard Boxing Academy where all Margarito is doing is working hard every day with Robert Garcia.


Some still won’t buy in. That’s fine. Me, I can’t wait to be in Arlington/Dallas in a couple of weeks to cover this event.


A better-than-usual undercard is attached to this card that includes Guillermo Rigondeaux, Kelly Pavlik and Mike Jones.


- November 20th, Sergio Martinez vs. Paul Williams II (HBO): In 2009, this was the consensus choice as the “Fight of the Year” and this time around, they are fighting for the middleweight championship of the world (of 157 pounds). I’m pretty sure that judge Pierre Benoist will have to buy a ticket to see this fight and the action should be heated once again.


Not sure who I like; Williams has a very strong history in rematches and the recently reported weight of Martinez (who was well above 170 last week) concerns me a bit. I like this fight but, in many ways, it’s the microcosm of what’s wrong with the boxing business in America. Both Williams and Martinez have fought just once in 2009 and let’s face it; without the HBO subsidy, this fight doesn’t take place. And there’s a reason why this bout- which takes place at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City- is being configured for less than 7,000 seats.


I expect another good, competitive fight. But the question is, will anyone be there?

November 27th, Carl Froch-Arthur Abraham/Andre Ward-Sakio Bika (Showtime): The “Super Six” has basically been relegated to the “Remaining Three” and two of them are finally engaging in their grudge match. Judging by what I saw on the latest installment of “Fight Camp 360” on Showtime, I wouldn’t mind seeing the salty Froch face Kalle Sauerland but I think Abraham-Froch will be a slugfest. It’s clear that neither guy particularly likes each other and I think that will translate into the ring in Helsinki.


Ward, because of the pull-out of Andre Dirrell (more on that later), gets to face late replacement Sakio Bika in a fight that will not be a part of the “Super Six,” which doesn’t really matter since Ward has advanced to the semifinals.


- Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Michael Katsidis/Andre Berto vs. Freddie Hernandez/Celestino Caballero vs. Jason Litzau (HBO): Simply put, Marquez-Katsidis has a chance to be one of the best fights of the year and in recent years, as Marquez has accumulated miles on his legs and his reflexes have dulled just a touch, he’s been involved in more and more shootouts. This suits Katsidis just fine. And with the emotional pull of his brother’s recent passing, look for Katsidis to be even more passionate inside the ring than usual.


As for the two fights that accompany the night’s main event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, well, Marquez-Katsidis is the Thanksgiving feast; Berto and Caballero get leftovers.


“360” VS. “24/7”


This weekend, both Showtime and HBO had their behind-the-scenes looks at the “Super Six” and Pacquiao-Margarito, respectively. Some random thoughts...


- Call me a cynic; call me conspiracy theorist; call me paranoid; call me a cold-hearted bastard but the first few minutes of “360” just confirmed my doubts on the severity and validity of Andre Dirrell’s lingering neurological problems stemming from his bout with Abraham in the spring. It was basically admitted that no venue, no agreement, no date, no nothing, associated with the upcoming Ward-Dirrell fight had been set. And most importantly, the money wasn’t right.


- It was also comical to see the reaction of Dirrell when he was asked which doctor had diagnosed him. Was it Dr. Dre, Dr., Doolittle, Dr., Feelgood, Dr. J?  Please tell us, Andre.


- Then later on, during that interview, his grandfather basically wanted the interview stopped unless there was the presence of their lawyer (This couldn’t have been scripted by Showtime because you couldn’t make this stuff up). A lawyer? Really? Why? I mean, it’s not like you committed a crime or, at the very least, lied, right?


For a second there, I thought I was watching “60 Minutes.”


I’ve been interviewed numerous times by Jody Heaps of Showtime; who knew he was such a ball-buster? But next time he wants a few minutes with me, I’m bringing my attorney.


- Let me get this straight, Dirrell’s uncle, Leon Lawson, will not put his nephew in any type of jeopardy because- even though he loves his money (and who don’t love their money?)- he’s family; he wouldn’t put him out there. Now, if it were anyone else, hey, gotta get that money. Uh, folks, make a mental note; if you ain’t related to “Love Money” Lawson, you may not want this guy working your corner if you have “lingering neurological issues.”


- On a serious note, since the health and safety of Dirrell is what is really important, based on what his family (who obviously cares about him) has said about his condition, shouldn’t he be under some sort of medical suspension? I mean, because this is pretty serious what he’s going through right now.


- OK, did Margarito really put a cement block over his hands while he was getting wrapped by his trainer? I know some of my colleagues and fans must’ve been outraged by this.


Which makes it all the funnier to me.


- The most revealing scene to me of “24/7” was when Freddie Roach and Alex Ariza discussed with Pacquiao his Friday night plans to endorse Harry Reid at a political rally in Las Vegas. When Manny was pressed on this by Freddie and Alex, Manny got real evasive and almost acted as if he didn’t understand the question.


Geez, Pacquiao’s really getting this political thing down pretty good.




I’ve got everything laid out for the upcoming month. This upcoming week, I’ll be in Las Vegas for the Lopez-Marquez bout in Las Vegas. Then of course, I’ll be in Dallas/Arlington for the Pacquiao-Margarito event (I’ll be there that Wednesday night) and on Thanksgiving weekend, I’ll be back in Las Vegas for Marquez-Katsidis.


As for Williams-Martinez? Well, if there were a week I was going to take off, this was it. I mean, no offense but c’mon, it’s in Atlantic City and those other promotions look to be fun, energetic events with a lot of people. This one unfortunately looks like your usual HBO-subsidized card where supposed “promoters” take a license fee from the network and do nothing else to create a real atmosphere.


Besides, I got a show in Anaheim to cover on December 4th and I still might end up going to the December 11th show at my all-time favorite hotel, the Mandalay Bay, for that good looking junior welterweight doubleheader put together by Golden Boy that has Amir Khan-Marcos Maidana and Victor Ortiz-Lamont Peterson.


I just hope I don’t forget to bring my “donut” pillow on my flights. I can’t sleep without that thing holding my long neck upright.




Yes, folks, I saw David Lemieux’s stunning KO of Hector Camacho Jr. Let’s hope we see more of Lemieux and no more of Camacho Jr...Folks, I fell a bit ill over the weekend but trust me, I willed myself back to health, because nothing is keeping me from those fights in November and December (Except Williams-Martinez, of course)...According to Fred Sternburg’s media notebook, Pacquiao will be on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Monday night and will be on the cover of “American Way,” the in-flight magazine for American Airlines. It would be a bigger deal if he made the cover of the SkyMall...My cousin (not really), Ji Hoon Kim, had a rough weekend “Down Under” as he was halted in one by “Lenny Zappa”...Seriously, Chip Kelly and Oregon just might revolutionize college football. That team is explosive...As for Randy Shannon, I wanted you to succeed so badly but it looks like it may not happen. I am now officially off the bandwagon. Bring Gus Malzahn to Coral Gables now...Speaking of the Canes, I wanna see what Stephen Morris has at QB; I’ve seen enough of Jacory Pipp...Seriously, the Cowboys will have as many wins by the end of this season as Pacquiao has had at Cowboy Stadium in 2010, right?...I’m a believer in the Rams, Lions and Chiefs. I think they are more than headed in the right direction...I’ll say it again; the Lakers are a better team, one through 12 than the past two years...I can be reached at and I tweet at We also have a Facebook fan page at

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