Weekend Review: Big night for Kessler, Ward
James Toney (right) was in relatively excellent condition against Matthew Greer on Saturday in Temecula, Calif. Photo / Renay Johnson-FightWireImages.com
Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward: The super middleweights removed the last obstacles standing in the way of the Super Six tournament by easily dispatching Gusmyr Perdomo and Shelby Pudwill on Saturday without getting hurt in any way. Now it’s on to the most-exciting multi-fighter competition in years, the round-robin tournament invented by Showtime that pits six of the best 168-pounders against one another. The first round begins on Oct. 17, when Arthur Abraham faces Jermain Taylor in Berlin and Carl Froch fights Andre Dirrell in Nottingham, England. Kessler will take on Ward on Nov. 21 in Oakland, Calif., Ward’s hometown.
MOST-DIFFICULT TO PREDICT
Kessler vs. Ward: Kessler is favored by most observers to win the Super Six tournament because of his ability and experience. And they have a good argument; the guy’s a stud. However, Ward, even with less experience on the professional level, will be extremely difficult to beat. The 2004 Olympic gold medalist has tremendous gifts — including speed that is superior to Kessler’s — and has been boxing since he was 9. He has done nothing but win his entire boxing career and is supremely confident that Kessler won’t change that. Plus, Ward will have home-field advantage. As for the other first-round fights: I pick Abraham and Dirrell.
Cristian Mijares: About a year ago, after Mijares stopped Chatchai Sasakul to retain his two junior bantamweight titles, the slick boxer from Mexico seemed to have evolved into one of the best fighters in the world pound-for-pound. Since then, however, he has lost three consecutive fights — a brutal knockout against Vic Darchinyan and two decisions to Nehomar Cermeno — and must now be considered merely a fringe contender. Mijares could argue that he won the first Cermeno fight but the second was more definitive. His downfall is puzzling: The talent seems to be there. Maybe he just ran into two guys who have his number. We’ll see.
BIGGEST WINNER II
James Toney: At 41, one of the most-talented boxers ever is nearing the end of his long career. However, he seems to be serious about making one last meaningful run at a heavyweight title. Toney weighed in at 217¾ pounds for his fight against Matthew Greer on Saturday, which he won by a second-round knockout. He hasn’t been that light since he weighed 217 for his victory over Evander Holyfield in 2003. That’s what happens when a fighter actually trains. He reportedly is even doing roadwork! Toney is so talented and still athletic enough to make some noise — if he trains. Let’s hope he continues on that road.
Fernando Montiel: The Mexican bantamweight, one the country’s brightest stars, had his hands full against underdog Alejandro Valdez on Saturday in Mexico. He was cut in the first round, went down in the second and probably lost the third, after which the fight was stopped because of the gash. The fight initially was declared a technical draw, then changed to a victory for Valdez and then changed back to a draw a few hours later. Thus, Montiel escaped without a loss in a fight he was losing. And that probably was the plan, as Montiel and his corner made sure to stop the fight before the completion of the fourth round. Then it would’ve gone to the cards.
On Yahoo! Sports: Yahoo! posted the question: Who will win Mayweather-Marquez? The results: 51 percent Mayweather, 46 percent Marquez and 3 percent a draw. The number of voters was 54,524. I would’ve predicted a 75-25 split in favor of Mayweather, who it seems is the heavy favorite of most experts. I doubt that many people really believe Marquez will win. I suspect they were voting more with their hearts than their heads because of the way they feel about Mayweather, who has the tendency to rub people the wrong way. If nothing else, let’s hope the fight on Saturday is as competitive as the vote.
Chavez-Duddy: No one will accuse middleweight John Duddy of being a legitimate title contender but he will be the first test of any significance for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., assuming they meet in the spring. Duddy is a solid fringe contender, better than anyone Chavez has faced in his carefully matched career. The son of the future Hall of Famer has a lot going for him — good name, good looks, good personality, good promoter, a fighting spirit. If he can beat someone like Duddy and then graduate to even better opposition, he might actually be taken seriously.
International Boxing Association: The IOC OK’d the addition of women’s boxing for the 2012 Olympics in London but told the IBA, which oversees amateur boxing, that it could not increase the overall number of fighters. So the IBA merely reduced the number of men’s weight categories from 11 to 10, eliminating a lighter weight class and making room for the women. In the end, the exact same number of fighters will participate. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the powers that be in amateur boxing could be so clever as to eliminate its tragically horrible scoring system?
Wayne McCullough fighting again: The “Pocket Rocket” apparently is thinking about getting back into the ring even though he’s 39 and has lost his last three fights. Undoubtedly, he wants to do it because he loves to fight. It was that fighting spirit that made him so much fun to watch in his stellar career. I happened to be at his pro debut in 1993, when he threw about a million punches in four rounds to outpoint Alfonso Zamora. The 1992 Olympic silver medalist from Ireland was as exciting as hell that night and he never changed. He’s done all he can in his career, including winning a major title. Plus, he’s a delightful guy. He shouldn’t be denied the right to fight but he has taken a lot shots. We want to see him enjoy life for many more years.
James Toney: “When I look back on all of the losses in my career — Roy Jones, the two fights with Montel Griffin, which could have gone my way, Drake Thazdi, and the second fight with Sam Peter, they robbed me in the first one — I realize that if I was in tip-top shape, I could have won them all. I didn’t bother training hard for those fights. It was ignorance and it was arrogance on my part. If I had just listened to my trainers and the people around me, my record could be 82-0 right now.”
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]