It’s fight week here in Las Vegas as one of my favorites, Manny Pacquiao, will be in action on Saturday night stepping up in weight and taking on David Diaz for Diaz’s WBC Lightweight Championship. I will get to that one in a bit but first let’s recap some weekend action.
As I expected, Arthur Abraham won his rematch with Edison Miranda and put in an excellent performance. Abraham looked so impressive in his four round destruction of Miranda that I now have added his name to my wish list of potential fights. I have said many times recently that I would love to see Kelly Pavlik take on Joe Calzaghe, and I still really want to eventually see that, but now I have moved in the name of Abraham to take on Pavlik and I think that fight will actually be the one that comes to fruition soon due to the difficulties of making a Calzaghe vs Pavlik fight.
There is already some serious talk about a Pavlik vs Abraham fight to take place in Cleveland maybe be before the end of this year. That would be a hoot of a fight! Actually, artistically and cosmetically, it would most likely be more exciting to watch than Pavlik vs Calzaghe, at least on paper it would appear to be that way.
This Abraham is really a good fighter. He has a very solid body and style and an engaging background and personality, being Armenian and residing and fighting out of Germany where he is a big star. He has very solid skills and, contrary to what the Showtime announcers were saying in the fight with Miranda, he, not Miranda, was the bigger banger of the two. Abraham has very heavy hands. He also possesses that other unique quality that can make for a great fighter, he has championship heart.
He proved that in his first fight with Miranda going 8 of the 12 rounds with a broken jaw and still pulling out a win. He has really improved since that fight and he would really test the unbeaten Pavlik. Two unbeaten middleweight champs with skill, power and heart going at it. Wow, let’s hope it happens later this year.
A few other unbeaten fighters remained unblemished last weekend. The last U.S. Gold Medalist, Andre Ward, beat up Jerson Ravelo, who was also an Olympian for the Dominican Republic in the 2000 games. I have called a number of Ravelo’s fights on TV in the past. If physique made you a champion, he would definitely be one, but having a great fighting body without the great fighting skills and heart does not necessarily work as many a body beautiful fighter has found out. Remember most great fighters usually have a sleek muscled look. For Ward, who captured light heavyweight Gold at the Athens Games in 2004, it is time to step up.
Andre Berto, the young welterweight prospect, remained unbeaten after stopping a weak opponent named Miguel Rodriquez. Even though he now holds the WBC Welterweight Title that Floyd Mayweather recently relinquished with his alleged retirement, for some reason, I’m not sold on Berto as yet, but he is still young and untested.
On to this weekend here in Las Vegas, where Manny Pacquiao will be entertaining us here once again at what has become his home away from home. ‘The Pac Man’ steps up in weight to take on WBC Lightweight Champion David Diaz at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Saturday night.
Diaz is an experienced southpaw with a nice record of 34-1-1 (17 KO’s) in a career that started in 1996. He will be known as the fighter who was the final fight for Erik Morales last year. Hopefully, Morales will not decide a comeback. Diaz began his career at a buck 40, and is still fighting at just below that weight. It is interesting to note that Pacquiao began his professional career in 1995 at 106 pounds soaking wet, but Manny was only a growing boy of 16.
No doubt Diaz is a naturally bigger man, but not a better fighter. Manny you remember beat better Morales twice, Barrera twice, and comes off a win over Juan Manuel Marquez in their rematch just over 3 months ago. Manny is a much faster, quicker, more explosive fighter than Diaz and should prevail in this fight most likely by a later stoppage or more likely decision. The only thing Manny is fighting right now is his own self.
It will be increasingly more difficult to get up for fights against fighters who view him as their Mount Rushmore. What Pacquiao should be thinking about is his own legacy in the sport and where he will end up ranking as an all-time great Filipino fighter and, maybe, an all-time great fighter, period.
Right now, in terms of the great the Filipino fighters of all-time, he is right up there with Pancho Villa and Flash Elorde. It is still to be determined where he is in terms of the all-time greats as a fighter, as he has consistently gone up in weight divisions and it is hard to categorize him in any one weight class as an all-time great. Although, he has beaten some all-time greats in Barrera and Morales multiple times and, at times, dominated them in the process.
I have been lucky enough to have climbed inside the squared circle with this dynamo as he demonstrated his skills and talent during the in-ring segment of my show. That was really fun; the only thing better is to watch him in action like we’ll all do on Saturday night against Diaz.
My good friend and former Bantamweight Champion, Wayne McCullough, was stopped last weekend by a fighter named Juan Ruiz. No not the former heavyweight champion with a similar sounding name that would be John Ruiz. You know when Wayne was in his prime; maybe even the larger Ruiz would not have been able to stop him. The significance of this fight is that it will be Wayne’s last as a professional fighter. He will be remembered as a terrific battler who never stopped punching and had a granite chin and tremendous heart to go along with it. Wayne, along with his wife Cheryl and beautiful daughter Wynona, have become part of my family.
Wayne was my first guest on my show, IN THIS CORNER. I chose him for a reason, because he is a class act, and I really like him. Why wouldn’t I love him? He’s a boxing hero from Belfast and I’m half Irish. You know he is the only Irishmen I know who doesn’t have a jar now and then. That makes him a little strange, but some say I’m a little strange as well, especially when I have been known to have a jar or two! Come to think of it, given Wayne’s high octane, natural personality maybe he is better off not having a drink.
Wayne, who captured the Silver Medal in the 1992 Olympic Games for Ireland, finishes his career with a record of 27-7 (18 KO’s) and a few world titles to go along with it. Wayne always gave 110 percent in the ring and gives the same on the outside. Those qualities will help him have a wonderful, what I call LAB, that’s Life After Boxing. Wayne will do great as a commentator, and trainer. I wish him and his family all the best. Maybe Ricky Hatton and I can convince him to have at least one Guinness now and then.
You know, I was sad to see that one of my favorite and one of the all-time great comedians, George Carlin, passed away at age 71 over the weekend. Carlin had one of the great comedic minds and styles ever. He was perhaps the most cerebral comedian ever. If you listened to George Carlin you were guaranteed two things, you would surely laugh and if you really paid attention you might also learn something about yourself and society, as well. Carlin wrote something once; I believe after the passing of his first wife, it was called “The Paradox of Our Times”. You can look it up on the internet. It is really worth reading. It is a very serious, insightful, and thoughtful piece about the times we live in. George closed it out with this line saying ‘Life is not measured by the breath we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”. One great thing about those of us who really are involved closely with the sport of boxing is, it is a sport that when it is at its best can provide those breathtaking moments. Robinson vs Lamata, Ali vs Frazier, Hagler vs Hearns, Gatti vs Ward, Barrera vs Morales come to mind wouldn’t you say?
Hands up, chin down, we’ll talk next week boxing fans.