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Weekend Review: Big nights for Donaire, Montiel

15
Feb

BIGGEST WINNERS

Nonito Donaire and Fernando Montiel: The bad news is that Donaire and Montiel destroyed opponents who had next to no chance of beating them on Saturday night in Las Vegas, Manuel Vargas and Ciso Morales. Was that really worth the $40 pay-per-view price tag? The good news is that Donaire and Montiel could end up facing each other in a real fight. Donaire, the most-talented Filipino outside Manny Pacquiao, would still like to fight Vic Darchinyan again this year, this time at 115 pounds. However, another option is to move up in weight and pursue the best 118 pounders, including Montiel. The matchup could also be a breakout fight for the charismatic little Mexican, who also has an interesting mandatory defense against Eric Morel.

MOST FORTUNATE

Eric Morel: Morel earned his shot at Montiel by outpointing Gerry Penalosa on the Donaire-Vargas undercard, although some wouldn’t use the word “earned.” Some observers believed the resilient little Filipino, fighting through swollen eyes and cuts, outworked Morel and should’ve received the nod. Instead, the former U.S. Olympian – still climbing back from a stint in prison for sexual assault — won by a split decision. The victory keeps the 34-year-old’s career alive and gives him a chance to win a second major title six-plus years after losing his first, assuming Montiel fights him. He might not have received another opportunity to reclaim a belt had he lost on Saturday.



MOST UNFORTUNATE

Gerry Penalosa: The 37-year-old warrior from Manila already has won two major titles and has the admiration of the boxing world for his fighting spirit and amazing resilience. His fight against Juan Manuel Lopez – in which he absorbed unmerciful punishment but kept coming back for more – was epic. However, he certainly would’ve liked one more shot at a belt before walking away. The fact he was passed over again, though, shouldn’t be a surprise. Penalosa has been on the wrong end of other disputable decisions in his long career. He’ll probably retire now, which will be difficult for him because he obviously loves fighting. He could become a trainer.

MOST-DISTURBING NEWS

Holyfield hitting wife: I’ve always admired the former heavyweight champion for his over-achieving accomplishments in the ring and the manner in which he has carried himself outside it. I’ve even defended him on many occasions as simply a flawed human when others dismissed the devout Christian as a hypocrite for fathering children outside of wedlock. Now comes news that his wife, Candi, told police he choked and hit her. Let’s hope the accusations prove to be false, if it’s possible to determine the truth. How cowardly is it for a 200-plus pound fighter to become violent with a woman under any circumstances? His wife seemed to excuse him in a subsequent statement released by a publicist: “Our current situation should in no way be considered a reflection of his character. I have been with this man for nine years and will be the first to say that he has many qualities and characteristics that I admire and respect. We are all human. No one is perfect.” I don’t buy it this time.

SADDEST NEWS

The illness of Guerrero’s wife: Robert Guerrero overcame numerous personal and professional obstacles to realize his dream of winning a second major title, this one a junior lightweight belt against Malcolm Klassen in August. And he was set to defend against Michael Katsidis on March 27 in an intriguing matchup. However, Guerrero decided to pull when his wife Casey developed complications in her battle with leukemia, which seemed to have been under control. Guerrero had promotional problems that sidetracked his career, he was labeled a coward by those who believe he quit against Daud Yordan and now he is dealing with his wife’s life-threatening illness a second time. Yes, everyone has problems but it seems Guerrero has had a particularly tough few years.

BEST CHALLENGE

How would Tyson have fared against ÔǪ : Reader Jon S. asked me how Tyson would’ve done against eight legendary heavyweights — Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, Rocky Marciano, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Joe Louis, Jack Johnson and Jess Willard. Here was my response: I think Tyson would've fared at least fairly well against guys in his league – Walcott, Charles and certainly Willard, although Charles was a much better light heavyweight than Tyson was a heavyweight. The rest would've beaten Tyson. Now, I have to point something out: If any of these fighters actually faced Tyson at 185-190 pounds, they would've had trouble. We can't look at it that way, though. Athletes are bigger today so we have to level the playing field. For example, Lennox Lewis probably would've given Joe Louis trouble because of the size difference but no one who knows boxing would rate Lewis higher than Louis. Get my point? So all things being equal, Tyson loses to Dempsey, Marciano (who was 10 times tougher mentally than Tyson), Tunney, Louis and Johnson.

BIGGEST SHAME

Buster Douglas’ fall: The 20th anniversary of Douglas’ great upset over Mike Tyson reminded me of Douglas’ wasted talent. Douglas was an exceptional fighter the night he stunned the world, skillful, athletic and fierce. It was only one night, though. It took several events – including the death of his mother – to provide the motivation he needed to make history. He generally wasn’t that fighter against other opponents. He was always talented but didn’t have the discipline or heart to fully realize his potential. Of course, he’s not alone; many athletes – many people – fail to live up to their capabilities for lack of drive. The moral of the story is that even talented boxers can fail if they’re not fully committed to the sport. We should admire the ones who are.

MOST UNCLEAR

Fate of Antonio Margarito: The Margarito-Carson Jones fight is off the Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey card on March 13 at Cowboys Stadium, ESPN.com reported. However, it appears Margarito and Jones might fight on May 8 in Mexico, although Top Rank officials don’t want to comment about it. Margarito recently applied to fight in Texas after his license was revoked in California early last year for doctoring his hand wraps before he fought Shane Mosley. It’s not clear whether the reason Margarito-Jones was removed from the card is related to the license, although it appears so. It’s also not clear whether fighting in Mexico might jeopardize Margarito’s chances of ultimately being licensed again in the U.S. Humberto Soto-David Diaz will replace Margarito-Carson as the co-feature on March 13.

BEST QUOTE

Ken Norton: “The first Ali fight gave me a chance to give my son more food, better clothes. A fight with Ali gave me a chance at life, period.” The quote comes from “Facing Ali,” a documentary about those who fought Muhammad Ali that premieres Monday (Feb. 15) on Spike TV.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]

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