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Weekend Review: New hope

04
Jan

MOST-PROMISING NEWS

Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. mediation: The fighters have agreed to take their differences to mediation on Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif., which provides hope that their tentative super fight can be saved. I suspect mediator David Weinstein, a retired federal judge, will help guide the stubborn fighters’ representatives to a fair compromise. We can only hope that they follow his lead and finally get over the blood-testing hurdle that has threatened to destroy the fight. Weinstein already has helped Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions – the promoters of Pacquiao and Mayweather — overcome differences so they could work together on big fights.

MOST OPTIMISTIC

Me: I’m not going to believe the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight is off until an official announcement to that effect is made. The fighters and their handlers have tremendous motivation to explore all possible compromises before pulling the plug, namely a projected record amount of money to be made. And, now, they have Weinstein to play referee in the unseemly game they’ve been playing the past few weeks. I expect an announcement as soon Wednesday that the fight will take place as scheduled on March 13 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

WORST OPPONENT

Matthew Hatton: The brother of Ricky Hatton is reportedly being considered as an opponent for Floyd Mayweather Jr. if the Pacquiao fight isn’t made. Nothing against Hatton, who is a decent fighter and a nice bloke but ÔǪ MATTHEW HATTON? The thinking might be that Mayweather needs a safe opponent while he seeks out a serious opponent for later in the year. That makes some sense. Hatton is much TOO safe, though. After all, Ricky is light years better than his younger brother and Mayweather knocked his head off. Mayweather-Matthew Hatton is a slaughter waiting to happen. The No. 2 fighter in the world can do better than that.

NOT-THE-WORST OPPONENT

Yuri Foreman: Hold your ridicule for a moment. I agree; Pacquiao is far more talented than his prospective opponent and would probably take him out. That said, Foreman might not be quite the pushover everyone will assume him to be if he ends up fighting the pound-for-pound king. First, he’s a legitimate junior middleweight, making him yet another step up in weight for a once-tiny Pacquiao. And, second, the new titleholder from Israel is a very good boxer. He dominated a somewhat-faded but still-capable Daniel Santos to win his title. One thing working against Foreman is his lack of power, which could be what would lead to his demise.

MOST DISTURBING

Evander Holyfield vs. Francois Botha: Evander Holyfield has long said his goal is to become the undisputed heavyweight champion again and probably isn’t giving up – even at an ancient 47. Or maybe it’s all about money at this point. Or just love of the sport. A part of me understands that he has his motivations, whatever they are; a larger part of me is saddened that one of the greatest warriors in boxing history feels compelled to fight far beyond his prime. I guess the one saving grace here is that Botha, 41 and never an outstanding fighter, is unlikely to hurt the former four-time heavyweight champion. They meet on Feb. 20 in Kampala, Uganda. A crowd of 80,000 gawkers is expected.

MOST MEANINGLESS

WBF heavyweight title: Holyfield and Botha are fighting for something called the World Boxing Foundation heavyweight title. Now, I don’t want to be too hard on the little Australia-based sanctioning body but having Botha as your reigning “champion” doesn’t do much for your credibility. The last time Botha beat a legitimate contender was ÔǪ well, he never has. His only noteworthy victory was a split decision over Axel Schulz in 1995 that was overturned after Botha tested positive for steroids. And, if Holyfield wins, the “champ” would be 47. That isn’t going to lift you to the level of the major sanctioning bodies ÔǪ although, that might not be so bad.

SADDEST NEWS

The death of Miguel Cotto Sr.: The father of Miguel Cotto reportedly died of a heart attack on Sunday in Puerto Rico. He was 57. The elder Cotto apparently suffered from heart disease and asthma for years. The last time we saw Cotto Sr. in public he tried to save his son from further punishment against Pacquiao in November. The two obviously were very close.

BEST QUOTE

Evander Holyfield, speaking to the Associated Press: “I am going to win and I will cherish the WBF world title.” Ugh.

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