March 30, 2011

Kelly, Rocky, Roy & Gamboa!

IN light of all that has happened in and outside of the ring since losing his middleweight title last year, Kelly Pavlik deserves a tremendous amount of credit for simply going the distance against Sergio Martinez in his bloody Championship-losing effort last year. The fact that Pavlik floored Martinez in the 7th round only adds to what an amazing effort he put up despite what he was actually up against. Recent Martinez challengers Paul Williams and Serhiy Dzinziruk failed to go the distance or otherwise be competitive with the new defending Champion Martinez in any way. Both challengers were dominated and dispatched by Martinez with apparent ease. The fact that Pavlik heard the final bell at all against Maravilla seems all that much more impressive now.

By now, we all know how far Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez has ascended in the rankings and in reputation since taking the middlweight title from Pavlik, and conversely we all now know just how far Kelly Pavlik has fallen since losing the title. We have a better understanding of just how impaired as a fighter Pavlik truly was at that time, battling active alcoholism AND Sergio Martinez, essentially at the same time! Amazingly he went the distance like a Champion in both fights. Kelly Pavlik may have ultimately shown more in defeat against Sergio Martinez than he ever did in victory. Kelly deserves a rematch with Maravilla Martinez if he wants one, that's for sure.

Am I suddenly living in a Rocky movie or did Roy Jones Jr just announce he would be fighting a dangerous, naturally larger Russian opponent in, of all places, Russia? Roy is toying with his health now and it's sad to see. Outstanding as an HBO commentator, Jones clearly has nothing left as a fighter and as a fighter he clearly has nothing left to prove, yet he fights on despite evidence he should not. Roy Jones used to refer to his friend, former world champion Gerald McClellan, as a prime example of something he never wanted to become in the sport of boxing, namely an injured, brain damaged ex-Champion.

Gerald McClellan of course was nearly killed in London in his 1995 fight against Nigel Benn, surviving not only a traumatic brain injury as a result of the beating he took from Benn, but also surviving quite possibly the single worst case of officiating ever seen in a professional boxing ring. Alfred Asaro, the referee in that fight should have been charged with a crime; his neglect and his incompetence so profound that McClellan now exists in a state of perpetual blindness, nearly deaf, his brain forever destroyed by what took place in that BRUTAL fight. So today more than 15 years after the lights went out on him, Gerald McClellan lives in a dark and lonely place and for whatever reason, Roy Jones Jr seems hellbent on joining his friend there. This aint' a Rocky movie Roy, brain damage is NOT reversible, please retire!

Speaking of Rocky, it's good to see he's going the distance again this time in Canastota, NY. Famed Actor & Director Sylvester Stallone absolutely deserves his induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame this summer for his amazing contributions to the sport he so obviously loves. The Rocky movies were a great tribute to boxing and the character of Rocky Balboa epitomized everything we love about the sport. It's interesting that Sly will be going into the Boxing Hall of Fame in the same induction class as Mike Tyson, a fighter whose style and demeanor were foreshadowed on the big screen by Stallone's menacing "Clubber Lang" character from the third Rocky movie, released in 1982, three years before Mike Tyson went pro. Come to think of it, Sly not only foreshadowed the emergence of a Mike Tyson type fighter on film, he also foreshadowed the emergence of Russian dominance in the heavyweight division with Rocky IV which came out in 1985! Yo Drago! Yo Klitschko!

Now that featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa has made short work of challenger Jorge Solis, of course we ALL want Yuriorkis Gamboa vs Juan Manuel Lopez right now for the Undisputed Featherweight Championship. Looks like we'll have to wait though and that actually might be OK as long as the opportunity to make the fight is not lost as sometimes happens in boxing. The promoters and the fighters appear to be doing a good job of building the fight up, increasing fan interest, and otherwise making boxing fans mouth's water! When and if the fight finally happens, it has the potential to be an old school classic unification Superfight, not just another so-called big fight. If promoted and timed properly, a Lopez-Gamboa unification fight could be reminiscent of Leonard-Hearns I in 1981, but for a new generation.