The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of Mar. 24

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2014

The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of Mar. 24

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    Reed Saxon/Associated Press

    It was a bit of a slow week in the boxing world, but we still had plenty to keep us occupied. 

    There's plenty more to look forward to in the week ahead.

    In this week's edition, we ask if Timothy Bradley's constant criticisms of Manny Pacquiao will get inside the Filipino's head. And if they do, who does it benefit?

    Is there finally a big-name fighter willing to face Gennady Golovkin? And is that a smart idea for him?

    Will Sergey Kovalev get closer to a showdown with Adonis Stevenson after his title defense this coming Saturday?

    Speaking of titles, why are Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko about to fight for one?

    All this and more.

    These are the hottest boxing storylines for the week or Mar. 24.

Will Timothy Bradley Get into Manny Pacquiao's Head?

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    Associated Press

    Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley have a ton of business left to settle after their highly controversial June 2012 bout, and if the promotion for their rematch is any indicator, both guys are done being nice.

    Bradley is tired of the disrespect, and Pacquiao is tired of the perception that he doesn't have it anymore.

    The two fighters met on HBO's Face Off With Max Kellerman: Pacquiao/Bradley 2, which debuted last week on the network, and both were seemingly tired of the talk and ready to get in the ring.

    “I have to focus and train hard, not like before. I have to get back my aggressiveness,” Pacquiao said on the show, Per Jake Donovan of Boxingscene.com.

    Bradley and members of his team have frequently brought up that lack of killer instinct, which has been apparent in the Filipino’s last several fights, and this was not an opportunity Bradley was willing to waste.

    “Manny, it’s [the killer instinct] no longer there,” Bradley said.

    “I've always had it,” Pacquiao responded.

    And then Bradley got the final word on the subject.

    “I don’t know how he lost it. He’s not the same.”

    The exchange was definitely intense, and while mostly respectful in tone, the subject is obviously one that makes Pacquiao uncomfortable. Bradley has chided his foe at every turn, and it makes you wonder if he’s going to be able to get into his head.

    Or if that’s even a good thing for him.

    One thing is for sure though, April 12 will answer all these questions and more, and it can’t get here fast enough. 

Is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Crazy for Wanting Gennady Golovkin Fight?

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Nobody, at least near the top tier of fighters, wants any piece of Gennady Golovkin.

    The Kazakh destroyer has won his last 16 fights by knockout and has held the WBA Middleweight Championship for closing on four years.

    The better fighters at 160 pounds don't seem to want any part of him—reigning division kingpin Sergio Martinez opted for a more financially lucrative and less physically risky bout with Miguel Cotto in June—and he's been left to feast on the scraps.

    Until now.

    Former middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who has since moved up to 168 pounds, wants the fight, and per the Los Angeles Times, it could take place on HBO pay-per-view on July 12 at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif.

    Golovkin would need to jettison his middleweight title and move up in weight, but it would be a worthwhile venture, given Chavez's name recognition and credibility as an opponent. 

    It's a fight that Chavez, who easily outpointed Brian Vera in a March rematch of their highly controversial first bout, wants, telling Rene Umanzor of Boxingscene.com:

    "Experts say he [Golovkin] is one of the best pound for pound fighters and I've always wanted to fight the best, as I did with Sergio Martinez—and I want to continue fighting good opponents."

    Golovkin is certainly a good opponent, but he's far more physically threatening than Martinez, who dominated Chavez in September of 2012 before nearly getting stopped in the final 90 seconds.

    Given Chavez's known propensity to not take his fights seriously and not prepare properly, this seems like a highly risky move. Financially lucrative, yes, but also dangerous.

    But it's a definite win-win for GGG. He gets a credible opponent, high exposure on PPV and a stepping stone—hopefully— to Andre Ward.

Can Sergey Kovalev Continue His Run to the Top?

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    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    Sergey Kovalev flies a bit under the radar when it comes to power-punching monsters from the East—at least in comparison to Golovkin—and he'll make his return to the ring on Saturday night, defending the WBO Light Heavyweight Championship against undefeated Chicagoan Cedric Agnew in Atlantic City.

    Like Golovkin, Kovalev is known for his monster power and scary, Terminator-esque demeanor in the ring. Also, like his Kazakh counterpart, he's starting to struggle to find quality opponents who are willing to step through the ropes and face him. 

    Agnew (26-0, 13 KO) is an undefeated fighter, but he's severely untested, and nobody but the biggest of degenerate gamblers is going to give him any real hope of winning this fight. In reality, he should be little more than a slight bump in the road and the eighth consecutive man to see his night end early, and spectacularly, at the hands of the man called the "Crusher." 

    The news here isn't whom Kovalev is fighting; it's who he's not fighting.

    Kovalev and WBC/lineal light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson were placed on the same card last November, presumably to clear the path for a huge unification showdown early this year.

    Both men took care of business—Kovalev wrecked Ismayl Sillakh in two rounds and Stevenson stopped Tony Bellew in six—and they seemed on their way to exchanging fists for all the marbles.

    But Stevenson seemed a little reluctant in the ring after the fight, and that hasn't changed a ton since. 

    Kovalev has been highly critical of the Haitian-born champion who now fights out of Montreal, calling him a "coward and not a world champion," per Yuri Tarantin of Boxingscene.com, if he refuses to face him after he beats Agnew on Saturday.

    Those are some tough words. But coming from a man as serious and dangerous as Kovalev, they're definitely not empty.

Why Are Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko Fighting for a Title?

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    We might be on the verge of seeing something so rare in boxing these days that it's become the equivalent of taking a stroll through the woods and spotting Bigfoot. 

    Last week, the WBO gave Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank 30 days to negotiate a title fight for the vacant WBO Featherweight Championship between Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko, per Lem Satterfield of The Ring Magazine, and that means the two promotional giants might have to work together.

    If they can't come to terms, the fight will—as seems likely—head to a purse bid. 

    Lost in all the hope that the two fierce and bitter rivals could finally work together is the fact that neither Russell Jr. nor Lomachenko deserve this fight.

    Russell Jr., an undefeated 25-year-old from Capitol Heights, Md., has gotten to this point by fighting a string of absolutely putrid—and worse—opponents. His last two foes combined for only two victories in their previous 15 fights. They were the definition of no-hopers, and you could probably have found better foes hanging around outside the arena.

    And yet, that earns him a title shot.

    Lomachenko, one of the most decorated amateurs in the history of the sport, is just 1-1 as a professional fighter and dropped his last fight, a title challenge, against Orlando Salido in March. 

    The Ukrainian fighter looked out of his depth for large segments of the bout, and despite a late rally, showed he definitely has a lot to learn about the pro game.

    That he's getting a second chance at a belt, with only a .500 record as a professional, is a tad ridiculous. 

    The WBO ought to be ashamed of themselves for this one.

Is Tyson Fury Entertaining or Annoying?

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    Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

    Tyson Fury is brash, loud and doesn't particularly care what anyone thinks about him. 

    The undefeated mountain of a British heavyweight will return to the ring in July, taking on his compatriot Dereck Chisora in a rematch with big implications for the heavyweight division. 

    The winner—of this WBO eliminator—will become the mandatory challenger for the sanctioning organization's title, currently held by a towering Ukrainian you may have heard of before.

    Fury has been known in the past for devolving into epic, and often profanity-laced, rants about the sport, his opponent or just anything that happens to be on his mind.

    At Thursday's press conference to announce his July 26 rematch with Chisora, he was in rare form.

    Per Gareth A. Davies of the The Telegraph, Fury had this to say:

    "I'm Tyson Fury, I'm the best heavyweight on the planet, this idiot is getting knocked spark out and I'm sick to death of this. This motherf----r is going to sleep."

    Whoa. Calm down big fella.

    Fury stormed out of the press conference after saying his piece, flipping over the table and sending title belts, recorders and microphones flying.

    But his best performance came in comments to Terence Dooley of Boxingscene.com later on: 

    I would knock Floyd [Mayweather] out in five seconds. Pound-for-pound, upside down, anything you want. I am the man, me—there’s not a 10 stone man born from his mother’s ____ who can beat me. I don’t give a f--k what other people say, the pound-for-pound king is always a heavyweight. Whoever is the best heavyweight on the planet is the best boxer in the world because size matters. I don’t care how skilful you are.

    Putting the ridiculousness of the Mayweather statement aside—a 270-pound man knocking out a welterweight is not an accomplishment—you have to give Fury credit for this much.

    He's a big talker. 

    But the question remains: Is he entertaining or just plain annoying?