The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of May 19
It was an interesting night at the fights this past Saturday, featuring the return of a legend who will one day find himself in the Hall of Fame and a venue that hopes to become a big-time player in the West Coast boxing scene.
Juan Manuel Marquez proved he still belongs near the top of the mythical pound-for-pound list, pounding out an exciting decision win over Mike Alvarado at the newly refurbished Forum in Inglewood, Calif.
How impressive was this performance against a younger, bigger man, and where does "Dinamita" go from here?
We'll also take a look at Adonis Stevenson's upcoming fight on Saturday night. It's supposed to pave the way for a unification bout with the ageless Bernard Hopkins, and it had better, given all the controversy that surrounds the Haitian-born Canadian fighter at this point.
What's happening with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.? A potential pay-per-view fight with Gennady Golovkin is dead on arrival, and now his promoters and management team are at each other's throats. We’ll try to unpack as much as we know about this increasingly confusing affair.
So get ready.
All that and more in this week's edition of the top storylines in boxing.
How Impressive Was Juan Manuel Marquez?
Marquez returned to the ring on Saturday night at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., taking a clear unanimous decision from former 140-pound champion Alvarado.
The 40-year-old Mexican legend, and certain Hall of Famer, comprehensively outboxed Alvarado over the first half of the fight and then out-fought him in the second half.
Marquez not only showed that he still has the skills to compete at the top level of boxing, he also proved that he has the chops to trade huge shots with a younger, bigger fighter determined to make a name for himself.
Despite being outweighed—with the two men in the ring you could clearly see that Alvarado was the physically larger man—Marquez showed no fear of letting his hands go, dominating early with hard, well-timed combinations that shredded his opponent.
Alvarado paid Marquez far too much respect, trying to outbox one of the master technicians in the sport. He was felled by a massive right-hand counter in the closing seconds of Round 8—the shot literally sent him across the ring and under the ropes—but came back to get his own pound of flesh by dropping Marquez in Round 9.
From there, the fight developed into an all-out war, with both men throwing and eating bombs. Both guys were stunned a few times, but it was Marquez who continued getting the best of the action and making his foe pay.
It was a tremendous performance, against a powerful, dangerous foe, and it showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that “Dinamita” still has a lot left in the tank.
What's Next for Marquez?
The question on most fight fans’ minds after Marquez’s comprehensive dismantling of Alvarado was whether that performance would lead to a fifth bout with longtime rival Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao is the WBO welterweight champion, and by virtue of his victory, Marquez now sits as his mandatory challenger. “Dinamita” has been clear about his desire to fight for a world championship at 147 pounds—a win would make him the first five-division world champion from Mexico—and now all the stars seem aligned for that opportunity.
Marquez was non-committal in his answers to the Pacquiao question in post-fight comments to Max Kellerman, but it would be something of a shock if a deal can’t get done to revitalize this rivalry.
The Mexican legend has stated a desire in the past to make his stunning December 2012 knockout remain the final word in the rivalry, but there doesn’t seem to be any other path forward if Marquez wants a 147-pound belt.
Floyd Mayweather currently holds the WBC/WBA titles, and Shawn Porter hold the IBF strap. Both fight on Showtime, and Mayweather dominated Marquez when the two men met in 2009.
That leaves Pacquiao and the WBO as the only available and viable option. Not to mention it would be a high-profile pay-per-view bout sure to make all parties a ton of money.
Hedging or not, Marquez knows that, and he’ll find himself in the ring with Pacquiao before years end.
Can Adonis Stevenson Do His Part?
WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson’s decision to jettison HBO for its rival Showtime sent shockwaves coursing throughout the boxing world. It prompted angry recriminations from fellow light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev—who expected to face Stevenson later this year—and a lawsuit from his promoter, Main Events.
Main Events’ federal lawsuit alleges, among other things, that Stevenson and his promoters breached a contract to face Kovalev and that Showtime, Golden Boy Promotions and advisor Al Haymon illegally interfered with said contract.
It’s no big secret why Stevenson decided to make this move. He’s coveted a big-money unification clash with Bernard Hopkins for some time now, and with the 49-year-old legend recently adding the WBA 175-pound title for his IBF belt, it’s now up to Stevenson to take care of his end.
Standing in his way, Andrzej Fonfara, a twice-beaten contender who hasn’t dropped a fight since 2008.
Still, there aren’t a whole lot of people who are giving the Polish-born fighter much of a chance of upsetting Showtime’s apple cart by knocking off the recognized light heavyweight champion. If he does, it would be a massive upset, and it would be a potential disaster given all the hassle this fight has generated for everyone involved.
Stevenson really needs to take care of business on Saturday night. He can't afford a letdown.
What's Going on with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.?
Once again, the sordid behind-the-scenes world of boxing has cost the fans a significant fight.
Earlier in the year, it seemed all but certain that WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin would be jumping north to 168 pounds for a PPV showdown with former 160-pound champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
The fight solved several problems for GGG and HBO, which has invested in him as one of their next big stars, giving them a credible opponent and a high-profile event for the Kazakh destroyer.
The match seemed to be all but solidified for July 19 at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., but it seems DOA now.
The hiccup, a contract issue between Chavez and his promoters, Top Rank, has prompted a war of words between Top Rank CEO Bob Arum and Chavez’s manager, Billy Keane.
Here’s what we know so far:
Arum, per Boxing Scene, says that he offered Chavez $6.6 million to fight Golovkin, a deal that required the former champion to add two more fights onto his existing contract with Top Rank, set to expire after his next fight. When that deal was rejected, Arum claims to have offered Chavez $7 million for the fight with a one-fight extension.
That one fight would have had a purse of $5 million with a loss to Golovkin or $10 million with a win.
Keane claims that Arum has a history of misrepresenting offers to fighters only to not come through on his promises. He cited Timothy Bradley as an example of a fighter who was promised a big purse—in his case for beating Pacquiao in their first fight—only to lose out.
The oft-ornery 82-year-old Arum took umbrage with those claims, going as far as to accuse Keane of misrepresenting the offer and failing to even present the fighter with Top Rank’s follow up once the first deal was rejected, and claiming that these numbers aren't words but part of a contract.
It’s a total mess. Regardless of who you believe or who is right, it’s the fans who once again lose out. And that’s a shame.
Is Jhonny Gonzalez Biding His Time?
Jhonny Gonzalez, left for dead by most in the boxing community, scored one of the bigger upsets of 2013, blasting Abner Mares in under three minutes to regain the WBC Featherweight Championship.
The victory revitalized his career, but at least to this point, it hasn’t led him to another high-profile fight.
Mares’ ring return is yet unannounced, but Gonzalez will return this coming Saturday, fighting at home in Mexico and defending his title against the undefeated but little known Clive Atwell.
Atwell, at least on paper, would seem to be a virtual no-hoper. He’s undefeated, yes, but has never fought outside of Guyana. There isn’t anything close to a recognizable name on his ledger, and he only has 12 professional fights.
This looks to be a stay busy type fight for Gonzalez against an opponent with little chance. A win here is largely without much meaning, but it would keep him in position for a more significant fight later in the year.