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Marquez and Diaz meet tonight for lightweight supremacy!

Lightweight "Supremacy" will be on the line tonight at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX, when world lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez defends his title against former lightweight titlist and top contender Juan Diaz. Originally, the The Ring Magazine lightweight championship was the only title on the line in this fight, but after Nate Campbell was stripped of his WBA and WBO belts, both of the organizations agreed to sanction this fight. Belts or no belts, what fans can anticipate this evening is a stylistically brilliant match up between the division's universally recognized champion and his consensus number one challenger.

I'll begin by noting that HBO subscribers are fortunate that a fight of this magnitude is on HBO. This match up is a great one that has the potential to be a fight of the year candidate, so there should be fireworks between these two gladiators. Golden Boy Promotions could have easily put some of those lightweight fights from their upcoming Lightweight Lightening PPV card on the under card of Marquez vs Diaz and made this is a legitimate PPV telecast, but thankfully this fight is on regular HBO.

Marquez is an old Mexican warrior, known for his swift boxing and counter punching ability, who has won world titles in three different weight classes. In 2003, he won the vacant IBF featherweight title by dominating and stopping former featherweight champion Manuel Medina in nine one sided rounds. Later that year, he unified the IBF and WBA belts by winning an eight round technical decision, after the fight had been stopped due to an accidental headbutt, over defending WBA champion Derrick Gainer.

In the first of their two memorable encounters in May of 2004, Marquez and Manny Pacquiao met for the universally recognized featherweight championship of the world. Pacquiao had just upset featherweight champion Marco Antonio Barrera in dominating fashion his previous fight, so the showdown with Marquez made the legitimacy of the featherweight championship that much more significant than just two governing body's title belts being on the line. In the first round, Pacquiao hurt and dropped Marquez three times. Marquez, however, was able to survive the round and managed to box his way back into the contest and fought Pacquiao to a twelve round draw.

After losing in highly controversial decision to Chris John in Indonesia, Marquez moved up to 130lbs for a title shot in March of 2007 against then WBC champion Marco Antonio Barrera, who had since defeated Erik Morales for the title. Marquez seized the title from Barrera with a close unanimous decision. One year later, Marquez defended his 130lb title against Pacquiao, in what was a hotly anticipated rematch of their May 2004 featherweight encounter. The fight was fought on even terms, with Pacquiao's third round knockdown of Marquez making the crucial difference in a one-point split decision win for Pacquiao. Moving up to the lightweight division, Marquez would claim a world title in his third weight class in September of 2008 by knocking out defending champion Joel Casamayor in eleven rounds.

Diaz became the WBA lightweight champion early in his career, winning a unanimous decision over Lakva Sim in July of 2004. Diaz would go to win two more title belts, stopping Acelino Freitas in nine rounds for the WBO crown in April of 2007 and Julio Diaz in eight rounds for the IBF title later that year in October of 2007. Undefeated with thirty three professional fights and three titles, Diaz would defend his title in Cancun, MX against Campbell in March of 2008, in what would turn out to be Diaz's first loss as a pro. Campbell showed resilience and the zeal of a seasoned veteran, as he pressured Diaz and beat him en route to split decision.

Rebounding well from his first loss, Diaz returned to the ring in September of 2008 against Michael Katsidis. Katsidis, himself, was attempting to come back from his first professional defeat at the hands of Joel Casamayor in the same month Diaz had lost to Campbell. Diaz won a split decision over Katsidis in a fight that one-sided enough for the decision to be unanimous. With Marquez winning the lightweight championship from Casamayor and Diaz looking impressive defeating Katsidis, along with Campbell's recent departure from the division, that brings us to tonight's lightweight championship fight between the two best lightweights in the world.

Hours away from the start of the fight, the time has come for me to break down this intriguing and highly significant match up.

Marquez almost beat Pacquiao when they last fought each other in their rematch at 130lbs, and many thought that he should have gotten the decision [Boxing Chronicles scored the fight 114-113 for Marquez]. Diaz lost to Campbell one week before Pacquiao vs Marquez II, so that is a major factor as to why Marquez is a considerable betting favorite going into the fight. Styles make fights though. I'm sure Diaz has learned and perhaps even matured from the experience with Campbell. Diaz is a young pit bull who happened to run into another more seasoned, experienced, and hungrier pit bull who bit just a little harder on that fateful night in Cancun. Marquez, currently one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world, is not getting any younger himself. His style is completely different from that of Campbell's. Campbell attacks; Marquez is a conservative counter puncher.

At certain points in this fight, I believe Diaz is going to outwork Marquez in spots and it's going to look really good to the judges, even if Diaz is not connecting a whole lot. Diaz is a guy who is accustomed to throwing five or six punch combinations at a time and he does a little better against boxers than he does against somebody who also fights with a pitbull-like, aggressive style similar to his own. Both Julio Diaz and Freitas came into the ring with intentions of outboxing young Diaz, but Diaz steamrolled both of those guys. Obviously, Marquez is classes above those two. Nobody in this match up has a clear edge from what I can see. I think it will be a close fight right down the wire, but Diaz gets a little hometown cooking from the judges.


Juan Diaz by UD.

Official cards will produce three drastically different looking scores. It'll be something like 115-114, 118-110, and 116-112, in a very close fight, all in favor of the hometown fighter.

In the co-feature tonight, featherweight champion Chris John defends his title against Rocky Juarez. John and Juarez both have a common opponent - Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez sounded defeated Juarez in September of 2007, while John won a controversial decision in Indonesia over Marquez.

Chris John by SD.

This on the other hand, will be a fight that should be unanimous. Juarez will get a little hometown cooking from one of the judges, but I expect John to outbox him enough to get credit from at least two of the judges.

Nate Campbell and Zab Judah: Make this fight happen!

The non-title fight that needs to happen at 140lbs, while the champions are mixing it up!

On a variety of different boxing websites, former lightweight titlist Nate Campbell and former undisputed welterweight champion Zab Judah have been taking stabs at one another. Campbell, coming off a majority decision win over Ali Funeka a couple weeks ago, have already moved up to the 140lb weight class. Judah, who came back down to 140lbs, won a 10 round decision over Ernest Johnson on the under card of Calzaghe vs Jones back in November at Madison Square Garden.

Judah, just the other day on Boxingtalk, threatened that Campbell and his trainer John David Jackson needed to walk around with bullet proof helmets if they can't keep his name out of their mouths. In a recent interview Fighthype's very own Percy Crawford conducted with Campbell, Campbell responded to such threats by refering to Judah as a "loud mouth wuss." Campbell also insisted, "when I hit him on the chin, I'll make him walk like Bambi again." The trash talking could go on for ever, as it makes for interesting reading on these websites. Fact of the matter is, a fight between Campbell and Judah could be quite intriguing.

While Hatton and Pacquiao prepare to face each other for the 140lb world title on May 2, and titlists Kendall Holt and Timothy Bradley get ready to square off in a unification title fight on April 4, there's plenty of time in the interim to set up a fight between Campbell and Judah. Such a fight would establish a top challenger, with name value, to the fighters who emerge victorious in the fights upcoming at 140lbs. Certainly the winner of a Campbell vs Judah fight would have enough of a claim, as well as a name, to call out the winner of Pacquiao vs Hatton.

I get the feeling that Campbell does want to mix it up with Judah. As of late, Judah has been content to sling threats at potential opponents who call him out rather than making fights and winning those fights. Opportunity only knocks so many times, and one would have to imagine that opportunity has knocked on Judah's door more times than have been the case for less fortunate pugilists in this business. After losing welterweight title fights to Carlos Baldomir, Floyd Mayweather, Jr, Miguel Cotto, and Joshua Clottey, Judah has yet another chance to make a statement and prove to fans and experts alike that he is an elite world class fighter by attempting to take over the 140lb weight class. At this time, Nate Campbell seems like a logical step to such an objective.

Attention Nate Campbell, Zab Judah, and all respective handlers and networks, make this fight happen! It's an ideal fixture as an HBO Boxing After Dark main event or even an under card match on HBO World Championship Boxing.

What will be Miguel Cotto's next move?

Miguel Cotto was a substantial betting favorite to up end challenger Michael Jennings last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. To that extent, Cotto did not fail to deliver. In dominating fashion, the Puerto Rican sensation stopped Jennings in five one sided rounds to claim the vacant WBO welterweight title. That is the initial step to the Cotto comeback trail. Fans and experts want to know what is next.

Cotto's promoter Bob Arum has hinted at scheduling Cotto's next appearance for June 13 at Madison Square Garden on the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City. Certainly Cotto is no stranger to fighting at the Garden on that weekend, as he fought there at on that special occasion three years in a row.

Logic says that Arum will match Cotto against another relatively soft touch of an opponent in his next appearance. The fight that we all want to see, of course, is the rematch between Cotto and current welterweight kingpin Sugar Shane Mosley. They both fought in what was a hotly contested and entertaining affair back in November of 2007 at Madison Square Garden; Cotto escaped with a narrow decision win. For boxing's sake, Cotto and Mosley must meet again to further define who the legitimate welterweight champion of the world is.

Arum, from my vantage point, has no intentions of giving Mosley another shot at Cotto anytime soon. In an interview on Boxingtalk last month, when publisher Greg Leon asked Arum about the importance of a Cotto vs Mosley rematch following Mosley's title winning victory over Antonio Margarito, the Bobfather suggested, "No. No, you really need the Mexicans. Margarito-Cotto is a much bigger fight than Mosley-Cotto.No. No, you really need the Mexicans. Margarito-Cotto is a much bigger fight than Mosley-Cotto."

Unfortunately for Arum, 'Marga-cheato' will not be available for some time, and even if he was, who is to say that a Cotto vs Margarito rematch would be as good as the first fight, given the one-sided beating that Margarito just suffered at the hands of Mosley?

Knowing that Cotto's next fight will probably be at Madison Square Garden in New York, I'm going to put my Bobfather thinking cap on momentarily in analyzing who Cotto's next opponent could potentially be. Are you ready?

**drum roll**

Miguel Cotto vs Kermit Cintron.

Given the way the Bobfather thinks, and recognizing his monetary thirst for big events that are influenced by nationality - particularly Hispanic based, a Cotto vs Cintron fight in NY is one that must have the Bobfather salivating all the way to the negotiating table with Cintron's handlers. From a promotional standpoint, it makes sense to a certain extent.

Both fighters are Puerto Rican.
Both fighters can punch.
Cotto looks sensational knocking guys out.
Cintron looked exciting getting knocked out by Margarito in both of their encounters.
Arum is still trying rebuild Cotto on his comeback trail.

The executives at Golden Boy Promotions, who represent Mosley, might not be too pleased with me after putting this suggestion or idea on record, especially if Arum reads this blog at all and decides to go make the idea of a Cotto vs Cintron fight a reality. Poor Mosley will never get his opportunity to exact revenge in a rematch! But then again, what influence could I possibly have on a promoter who has been in the business for decades and is deeply set in his old ways?

Pavlik, Cotto victorious in Top Rank promoted showcases!

On Saturday night, I went to Miami Mike's, which is where I usually go to watch PPV boxing. They just happened to be showing the Kelly Pavlik and Miguel Cotto Top Rank PPV doubleheader, so I figured why not go and check it out? After all, I was not having to pay the $44.95 that folks watching the telecast from home were required to shell out.

Both Pavlik and Cotto did exactly what they were supposed to do in their returns to the ring following the first defeats of their respective careers. They both dominated and stopped the opposition, albeit rather light opposition, that they had in front of them.

Madison Square Garden
New York, NY

Miguel Cotto TKO5 Michael Jennings... From the outset, Jennings came out on his bicycle attempting to keep it a boxing match and tried to avoid exchanges with Cotto, but he did not have the punching power to get Cotto's respect. Cotto was in complete control from the opening bell, as he won the first three rounds from Michael Jennings before twice depositing him on the seat of his pants in round four. Cotto dropped Jennings again in round five, but Jennings would once again make it to his feet. Referee Benji Estevez elected to protect the Jennings from having to take further punishment, mercifully stopping the contest at 2:36 of round 5. With the win, Cotto was awarded the WBO welterweight championship.

John Duddy W10 Matt Vanda... In the co-feature at Madison Square Garden, John Duddy won a convincing unanimous decision over Matt Vanda, who was best known for coming up on the wrong end of a controversial decision against Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. Duddy outboxed Vanda most of the way, as he was able to avoid getting into the type of brawl that left him battered and bruised against the unknown Walid Smichett in his previous appearance at the Garden. Vanda had a big tenth round, but by that time it was too little too late. Vanda was awarded the decision by scores of 99-91 (twice) and 97-93. Boxing Chronicles also scored the fight 97-93 for Duddy.

Chevrolet Centre
Youngstown, OH

Kelly Pavlik TKO10 Marco Antonio Rubio... Kelly Pavlik, fighting in front of over 7,000 adoring fans his hometown of Youngstown, OH, made the second successful defense of his WBC/WBO middleweight titles by stopping Marco Antonio Rubio in ten rounds. Rubio showed that he was a tough and durable customer, taking hundreds of punches to the body and head, but Pavlik simply outworked and out landed the game challenger. After winning all of the first nine rounds on the Boxing Chronicles scorecard, as well as the scorecards of the three official judges, Pavlik was declared to winner when Rubio remained in his corner and failed to answer the bell to begin round 10.

television: Top Rank PPV

Pavlik/Cotto twinbill on PPV this weekend!

WBC/WBO middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik and former WBA welterweight champion Miguel Cotto will return to the ring for the first time since they both suffered the first losses of their respective careers in 2008.

Pavlik, who was soundly beaten by Bernard Hopkins at a catch weight of 170lbs last October, will return to 160lbs to defend his middleweight championship in his home town of Youngstown, OH against number one contender Marco Antonio Rubio. Also live from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, Cotto will attempt to rebound from his TKO loss at the hands of Antonio Margarito last July by winning the vacant WBO welterweight title against top contender Michael Jennings. Both of these contests, from separate locations, will be distributed on a Top Rank PPV telecast.

What should boxing fans be looking for when watching these fights? Competitive bouts featuring the two stars on this PPV card fighting against evenly matched opposition? Not exactly. Perhaps the height of inquiry and curiousity is largely focused outside of the ring rather than the affairs scheduled to take place inside the ring.

Ever since the Tijuana Fists of Concrete, better known as Antonio Margarito, were suspended for up to a year, Cotto has been lobbying for a deep investigation into whether or not illegally loaded gloves on Margarito's behalf were any factor in his victory over Cotto last summer. Certainly, the Margarito hand wrap scandal has cast a dark cloud over his conquest of Cotto, but Cotto should remain focused on the task at hand against Jennings on Saturday.

Boxing fans should be on the look out to see if Cotto's skills or ability have diminished following his first loss. Is it the same Cotto who attacks the body and then comes back up to the head with combinations? Is Cotto any less durable than he was prior to the Margarito fight? Has his ability to take a punch been hampered by the TKO loss to Margarito? That's what viewers will find out on Saturday.

Can Pavlik return to his natural weight class of 160lbs and finally emerge as a dominant force in that division? Will Pavlik be the same fighter he was prior to being exposed by the old 43 year old veteran Hopkins? After all, since stopping Jermain Taylor to seize the middleweight crown in September of 2007, two of Pavlik's three fights have taken place above the middleweight limit. Rubio is the first step in Pavlik's march to middleweight dominance, but skeptics correctly note that his true challenges lie with IBF champion Arthur Abraham as well as the winner of the intriguing Paul Williams vs Winky Wright match up that is taking place on April 11 in Las Vegas.

Should Pavlik have any intentions of universally claiming the middleweight division as his very own, Top Rank promoter Bob "the Bobfather" Arum would be well advised to allow these highly significant matches to take place. At the post fight press conference following Pavlik's exciting title winning victory over Taylor, Arum made loud and clear to the media that Pavlik would indeed turn out to be one of the greatest middleweight champions of all time. A three round destruction of an over matched Gary Lockett last June is a far cry from such a lofty distinction. In fact, the term 'far cry' in this case is a serious understatement.

Nonetheless, the year 2007 witnessed the culmination of both Pavlik and Cotto as two of boxing brightest stars, with Cotto defeating Zab Judah and Shane Mosley and Pavlik beat Taylor. In 2008, both of the undefeated stars witnessed their demise. Resurrection and resurgence are in order, and it all begins in Youngstown and Atlantic City this Saturday night!

Dawson vs Tarver II postponed!

Due to a fractured right hand sustained by IBF/IBO light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson in training, his scheduled March 14 title rematch with former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver has been postponed and will be rescheduled for a later date. Dawson is a technically sound fighter with fast hands and nicely exhibited ring generalship. Not only has he remained undefeated, but he's done so while quietly establishing a nice little resume for himself, with wins over Eric Harding, Tomaz Adamek [a win that looks even sweeter now, following Adamek's 2008 IBF cruiserweight title winning conquest of Cunningham], Glencoffe Johnson, and Tarver. Perhaps there is more than meets the eye as to why Joe Calzaghe retired without facing Dawson.

I was definitely looking forward to seeing Dawson on March 14, being that he was making his HBO debut. Showtime is the network on which he previously fought, but I only subscribe to HBO. A rematch with Tarver is totally unnecessary for Dawson being that he beat Tarver so convincingly back in October, but that is a rematch clause for you. The rematch boxing fans really want to see at light heavyweight is between Dawson and Johnson. Dawson is the one who was injured in training, so we will not be seeing a Dawson vs Johnson rematch in the interim. Dawson will need time to recover and Tarver will surely be waiting for him.

Nate Campbell moving up to 140lbs; says farewell to lightweights!

Following his majority decision win over Ali Funeka on Saturday night, former lightweight titlist Nate Campbell made it clear that he will no longer campaign at lightweight after losing his titles on the scales for coming into the Funeka fight over weight. Campbell is migrating North with plans to enter the junior welterweight sweepstakes, in what should be a compelling addition to a division that was once viewed as waste station South of the glamorous and talent laden welterweight division.

Pound for Pound king Manny Pacquiao and champion Ricky Hatton will be fighting in a high profile fight for the world jr welterweight championship in Las Vegas on May 2, so Campbell would appear to be at least the third biggest name in that weight class. Former undisputed welterweight champion Zab Judah, who recently called out Campbell as well as some other contenders at 140lbs on Boxingtalk, has returned to 140lbs with an uninspiring unanimous decision win over Ernest Johnson on the Calzaghe vs Jones undercard back in November.

WBO title holder Kendall Holt and WBC champion Timothy Bradley will be unifying two of the belts at 140lbs when they meet in a fight of great significance on April 4. Why the fight is being staged in Montreal, Canada is beyond me, being that one fighter is from California and the other from New Jersey, but that is beside the point. Former IBF champion Paulie Malignaggi, as well as contenders Gato Figueroa, Victor Ortiz, and Devon Alexander also reside in the deepening division, so it looks like Mr. Campbell will have some options to choose from in this neighborhood of his.

Wladimir Klitschko ends talks of fight with David Haye!

WBO/IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko has withdrawn from negotiations for a title defense against former cruiserweight champion David Haye later this year. Supposedly Klitschko does not believe that Haye is worthy of a shot at his titles due to the verbal attacks that Haye has consistently launched at him as well as unreasonable demands being made on Haye's behalf.

Yesterday on Fightnews, I read the following article.
According to the Ukrainian language section of, Wladimir Klitschko has decided to stop negotiations with David Haye. He says the main problem has been a lack of professionalism on the part of Haye and his representatives. Wlad says Haye can’t decide on his demands. “If Haye continues in the same spirit, it will be two more years before he get a chance to reach a championship fight.” In the event the fight with Haye is not resurrected, Wlad plans “to face Chris Arreola or find someone else. This will be determined later.”

Klitschko is beginning to sound like Oscar De la hoya, when Fernando Vargas talked trash about him, and as a result De la hoya for years dismissed the notion of fighting him [they eventually met in September 2002, with De la hoya scoring a dramatic 11th round TKO]. It is neither noble or courageous to deny a fighter - especially a top contender and former world champion - an opportunity just because he talked some trash. Boxing is a hurting business; it is not always a gentlemen sport. Avoiding Haye who is a former world champion emerging as a heavyweight contender, just because he has belittled Klitschko, is no way for Klitschko to distinguish himself from the rest of the barely recognizable Eastern European titlists.

Certainly Haye is a brash and arrogant character who never hesitates to take his share of verbal jabs at Klitschko, but I will wholeheartedly admit that he is a bigger risk than Klitschko's next prospective opponent, undefeated Chris Arreola. Haye has at least fought some decent opposition and won a world championship. While Haye may not necessarily have the most durable whiskers, he can be evasive and he does possess sufficient enough hand speed as well as an awkward style to cause Klitschko much discomfort. Arreola punches pretty hard, but punching power is not the number one asset a fighter needs to defeat Klitschko - I believe it's hand speed.

Ability to even locate the target on a man as tall and rangy as Klitschko is a vital key to success. Haye is capable of making contact and perhaps even hurting Klitschko early with fast combinations, as Corrie Sanders was able to accomplish in 2003 when he made short and sweet work of Klitschko, devastating the Ukrainian giant in less than two rounds.

Campbell, Angulo win; Martinez vs Cintron ends in controversial draw!

Over the weekend on Saturday night, at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida, Nate Campbell won a hard-earned majority decision over Ali Funeka. Sergio Martinez appeared to be the victor against Kermit Cintron, but two of three official judges as well as referee Frank Santore saw otherwise. Alfredo Angulo raised his undefeated record to 15-0 with 12 KOs, stopping battle tested late replacement Cosme Rivera in five one-sided rounds.

Nate Campbell W12 Ali Funeka... Campbell got off to a fast start in the first couple of rounds, viciously bullying Funeka to the ropes and attacking his lanky body. Scoring a knockdown of Funeka in round two, Campbell tried to finish the fight but Funeka survived the rounds. Funeka, with his high volume punch output, was able to box his way back into the fight by winning most of the middle rounds. Campbell, by his own admission, was fatigued in those middle rounds as a result of trying to make the 135lb weight limit. By round 10, Funeka had built a lead on the scorecards - at least unofficially on the scorecard of Boxing Chronicles as well as HBO's unofficial ringside judge Harold Lederman - but began to fade a bit.

Campbell, perhaps desperate and getting his second wind, went back to attacking Funeka's body in round 10 and managed to hurt Funeka round 11. Funeka was game and once again managed to survive the round. Campbell won the twelve round as well, outworking Funeka and staying in his mid section. Official scores were 113-113, 114-112, and 115-111, a majority decision in favor of Campbell. The knockdowns in rounds two and eleven sealed the deal for Campbell, as the decision would've been a draw otherwise. Boxing Chronicles scored the fight 114-112 for Campbell.

Sergio Martinez D12 Kermit Cintron... This was an extremely awkward and bizarre affair. For the most part, Martinez used his hand speed and ring generalship to beat Cintron the punch. Martinez threw more punches and landed more punches than Cintron, even though Cintron's may have been a little harder. Cintron had his moments, such as the first two rounds, but it appeared as though Martinez had earned a stoppage win in the seventh round when he dropped Cintron with a straight left hand. Referee Frank Santore issued a count, and had counted to ten at the moment at which Cintron's right knee was coming up off the canvas. This fight, from my vantage point, should have been a TKO for Martinez. From first glance, it looked like Santore had called the fight on Cintron. Cintron immediately protested to the referee as well as ringside officials and claimed that he had been headbutted. Perhaps showing sympathy and bending to the fighter's outbursts, Santore ruled that the fight was not ever and allowed to resume action.

Cintron was more competitive coming down the stretch, and even managed to win round 10, but for the most part, Martinez was the busier fighter and landed more punches. In the final round, Santore deducted a point from Martinez for a rabbit punch, when Martinez hit Cintron behind the head. Officials scores for the fight were 116-110 Martinez, overruled by the other two blind judges who scored the fight 113-113. Both the judges and Santore contributed to what is an early candidate for Worst decision of the Year. Boxing Chronicles scored the fight 116-110 Martinez. Yes, there were a few close rounds in the fight, but I did Cintron two of the first four rounds. Had I given Cintron all four of the first four rounds, I still would have had Martinez winning 114-112 and that would be stretching it pretty close. There is really no way anybody can justify a draw here.

Alfredo Angulo TKO5 Cosme Rivera... WBC/WBO 154lb number one contender Alfredo Angulo was cut over the right eye, which the referee ruled was caused by a punch. The replay clearly showed it was a headbutt, but the potential ruling of a Rivera TKO became irrelevant as Angulo thoroughly dominated the contest and punished Rivera with hard and accurate punches. Referee Telis Assimenios stopped the contest at 2:38 of round 5.
Television: HBO Boxing After Dark

Campbell loses titles on the scales!

WBO and IBF titles, only on the line for Funeka!

Nate Campbell lost his WBO and IBF titles on Friday afternoon, when he failed to make the 135lb limit at the weigh-in. On his first attempt, Campbell weighed 138lbs. He was given two more hours to shed the additional weight. On his second and final attempt, Campbell weighed 137.5 - still two and a half pounds over the contracted weight.

As a result, the WBO and IBF rightfully stripped Campbell of his titles. The fight will still happen tonight and it is still a title fight, but only for challenger Ali Funeka, who weighed 133.5lbs on his first try. Should Campbell emerge victorious, the titles will remain vacant. If the upset-minded Funeka wins, he takes home the titles.

Serious questions arise, given these events: Did Campbell take this fight seriously enough? After all, failure to make weight is exactly the reason why Campbell heavily criticized his previous opponent Joan Guzman last September, when Guzman also came in over weight and prevented their September 13th title fight from happening. Is Campbell in danger of suffering a let down after posting a career defining victory over Juan Diaz almost a year ago?

Perhaps it's a weigh-in curse that has long plagued the lightweight division. If you all recall, Jose Luis Castillo failed to make weight for his lightweight title rematch with Diego Corrales in 2005. Corrales weighed in well above the 135lb limit for his lightweight title rubbermatch against Joel Casamayor in October of 2006. As was mentioned before, the same thing happened with Guzman when he was scheduled to challenge Campbell for the lightweight championship last September.

Alright ladies and gentlemen, Friday the 13th has come and gone. Putting weight class superstitions aside, let us look into a more logical and realistic reason for Campbell's mishap.

While Campbell is in fact a ripe 36 years of age [he'll be turning 37 on March 7], I take my hat off to an old veteran like Bernard Hopkins, a gym rat who remains in the gym and stays fit, even if he does not have a fight to train for. When one is able to maintain some semblance of physical conditioning throughout the year, it makes it much easier to take any additional weight off for the fight. At the advanced age of 36, taking a year off from boxing and then weighing in three pounds over the weight limit on the scales is something that a guy like Campbell can not afford to do. When you're a professional, especially a unified world champion at an advanced age, you're expected to show more discipline than that.

That's the difference between a great old fighter maintaining his form at a later age vs. a guy who happens to work his way to the title and then fails to keep it due inconsistency and lack of consistent work ethic. I'm sorry to say, but I do not chalk this one up to age. In this particular case, Campbell is guilty of inconsistency, as he has been on several occasions. He gives a near-prime Joel Casamayor all he can handle in January of 2003, in what was a close debatable decision loss, but was stopped on two separate by Robbie Peden.

Campbell dominated and stopped Kid Diamond, but lost a decision to Francisco Lorenzo, whom Humberto Soto went on to defeat this past year. Campbell also lost to welterweight contender Isaac Hlatshwayo in a jr welterweight fight that took place in 2004, but came back in March 2008 with a career-best performance and handed previously undefeated Juan Diaz his first loss to claim the WBO and IBF titles. Since the win over Diaz, Campbell was laid off for almost a year.

The sequence of events that were just described purely summarize the height of inconsistency and irresponsibility. That is why Campbell's reign has been cut short, before he's even had a physical fighting chance to make the first defense of the title he worked so hard to win.

Campbell vs Funeka on HBO Saturday, February 14!

Press Release: HBO serves up a triple helping of Valentine’s Day excitement when HBO BOXING AFTER DARK: NATE CAMPBELL VS. ALI FUNEKA AND ALFREDO ANGULO VS. COSME RIVERA AND SERGIO MARTINEZ VS. KERMIT CINTRON is seen SATURDAY, FEB. 14 (10:00 p.m. live ET/tape-delayed PT), from the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise , Fla. , exclusively on HBO. The HBO Sports team of blow-by-blow announcer Bob Papa, commentator Max Kellerman and expert analyst Lennox Lewis will be ringside for the event, which will be available in HDTV, closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired and presented in Spanish on HBO Latino.

Other HBO playdate: Feb. 15 (10:30 a.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Feb. 15 (5:00 p.m.) and 17 (11:30 p.m.)

In the main event, lightweight title-holder Nate Campbell (32-5-1, 25 KOs), from Tampa , Fla. , battles Ali Funeka (30-1-2, 25 KOs), from East London , South Africa in a scheduled 12-round title bout. Campbell became champ last March with a victory over the formidable Juan Diaz on HBO, and is making his first title defense. Funeka, a top contender in the division, is fighting for the first time outside South Africa .

The second bout pits undefeated fast-rising junior middleweight contender Alfredo Angulo (14-0, 11 KOs) of Coachella, Cal. against Cosme Rivera (31-11-2, 22 KOs), from Culiacan, Mexico, in a scheduled ten-round contest. Angulo, whose aggressive ring style and iron chin have made him a star in the division, is facing one of the toughest tests yet in his young career. His opponent, Cosme Rivera, is a savvy ring veteran who has knocked down top fighters Andre Berto and Joel Julio in previous fights. Angulo’s original opponent, Ricardo Mayorga, withdrew from the match.

Starting off the night, junior middleweight sensation Sergio Martinez (44-1-1, 24 KOs) of Madrid , Spain takes on Kermit Cintron (30-2, 27 KOs) of Reading , Pa. in a scheduled 12-round, 154 pound contest. Martinez , who returns to the HBO spotlight following his stunning victory over Alex Bunema on HBO BOXING AFTER DARK last October, is looking to enhance his standing in the division as he works towards a title shot. Cintron, moving up from the welterweight division to take on Martinez , was last seen scoring a victory over Lovemore N’dou in November. His only losses have come at the hands of welterweight star Antonio Margarito.

The executive producer of HBO BOXING AFTER DARK is Rick Bernstein; producer, Jonathan Crystal; director, Mike Sheehan.® HBO BOXING AFTER DARK is a registered service mark of Home Box Office, Inc.

Vitali Klitschko defends WBC title against Juan Carlos Gomez - on ESPN!

The WBC heavyweight title fight between champion Vitali Klitschko and former cruiserweight champion Juan Carlos Gomez, scheduled to take place on March 21 in Stuttgart, Germany, could either be a better scrap than anyone expects, or it could be a blow out. Given the fact that Gomez is already a one-time first round KO victim, I think most observers could very possibly be expecting the latter.

Yes indeed, the heavyweight division is still dominated by Eastern Europeans. Muhammad Ali, the greatest of all time, emerged in the mid 1960s as a dominant and charismatic American heavyweight force. Mike Tyson arrived in the mid 1980s to become the youngest heavyweight champion ever at twenty years of age. This decade, however, has not yet seen the arrival of a talented young American heavyweight who can overturn the division's current state of affairs.

Considering that we now have a two headed heavyweight champion (Wladimir and Vitali, brothers enjoying simultaneous reigns at the top of a dead beat division) and that two headed champion is Eastern European, I don't see the heavyweight division changing anytime soon. As long as both brothers are dominating the division and both remain champions, no upcoming star is going to emerge as the heavyweight champion of the world.

On a positive note, boxing fans can consider themselves fortunate that ESPN has stepped up its game and put forth the money necessary to televise the Klitschko vs Gomez title fight. Furthermore, the fact that this heavyweight title fight is airing on free TV, in attempts to familiarize the American public with this Eastern European Giant who is not very well known outside of inner boxing circles, is perhaps a step in the right direction. I think it is a good move on ESPN's behalf, but this could also signify the beginning of redemption for Vitali.

Many fans and experts lost any love and respect that they had for Vitali when he withdrew from four different contractually obligated title defenses against Hasim Rahman. Klitschko's loss to Lennox Lewis back in 2003 ironically was his finest hour, and that was in defeat, so the road back to prominence starts with a title defense on ESPN in front of a worldwide audience that includes boxing fans who may not necessarily subscribe to HBO or Showtime.

From welterweight January to lightweight February!

Last month was the month of the welterweights, as we witnessed Andre Berto's too close for comfort title defense against Luis Collazo and Shane Mosley's title winning upset of Antonio Margarito.

This month, however, we will be seeing three of the best lightweights in the world in action on HBO. This Satuday night, IBF/IBO lightweight champion Nate Campbell will put his titles on the line against Ali Funeka in a stylistically appealing match up. Campbell hasn't seen any action since winning the belts in a crowd pleasing split decision defeat of Juan Diaz in Mexico last March. Funeka earned his title shot with Campbell in an IBF eliminator last July, stopping highly regarded Zahir Raheem, who once beat Erik Morales, in four rounds.

On February 28, we will see lightweight kingpin Juan Manuel Marquez defend his title against Diaz, the man Campbell beat less than a year ago. Marquez won the lightweight championship of the world with an 11th round TKO of Joel Casamayor last September. Diaz rebounded nicely from the loss to Campbell with a twelve decision win over Michael Katsidis in Houston, also back in September. Marquez is clearly the recognized lightweight champion of the world, but Campbell is a titleholder who happens to be the universally recognized number one contender to Marquez's throne. Diaz is one of the top lightweights in the world himself; his fight with Marquez figures to be a classic in the making.

Campbell vs Funeka is being promoted by Don King Productions and will be televised on HBO Boxing After Dark, while Marquez vs Diaz will be represented under the Golden Boy Promotions banner and will air live on HBO World Championship Boxing. What's great about these two boxing events is that they are being televised on HBO and not some over hyped PPV card. HBO subscribers can view both of these fights, which feature best lightweights in the world pretty evenly matched against one another.

Paul Williams -vs- Winky Wright set for April 11th

Paul Williams and former undisputed jr middleweight champion Winky Wright will meet each other at the Mandalay Bay on April 11 in a middleweight fight scheduled for twelve rounds.

This should be a relatively decent middleweight scrap, as Williams showed that he could carry the weight well, based on his two round destruction of Andy Kolle in a middleweight fight in September of 2008. With the opportunity to face off against a top ten pound for pounder, Wright has a chance to put his name back on boxing's main radar where it once was a few years ago when he soundly defeated Shane Mosley and Felix Trinidad. Wright has been inactive since dropping a close decision to Bernard Hopkins at a catch weight of 170lbs back in July of 2007. Williams was last seen on November 29 oflast year, scoring an 8th round TKO of former IBF jr middleweight champion Verno Phillips.

Unfortunately the winner of this fight can dismiss any hopes and dreams of challenging middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, as long as Pavlik is still fighting under the Top Rank banner. We all know Bob Arum's feeling for both of these combatants. Williams vs Wright will be televised on HBO World Championship Boxing.

Continuing the progress and innovation that I believe was made at the beginning of the year, HBO continues to build on their improvements in terms of televising quality boxing matches between equally matched elite level fighters rather than showcasing rising stars against over matched opponents.

Joe Calzaghe announces retirement!

Yesterday, undefeated light heavyweight champion Joe Calzaghe of Wales announced his retirement from the sport of boxing.

Currently ranked #2 pound for pound at Boxing Chronicles, Calzaghe finishes his career with a record of 46-0 that includes recent wins over Mikkell Kessler, Bernard Hopkins, and Roy Jones Jr. Perhaps the most impressive and career defining win was against Kessler to become the undisputed super middleweight champion of the world.

In October of 1997, Calzaghe won his first title, WBO super middleweight championship, outpointing Chris Eubank by unanimous decision. In March of 2006, Calzaghe unified two of super middleweight titles by beating undefeated IBF champion Jeff Lacy in what was a brutal and one sided twelve round affair.

Throughout his ten year reign as super middleweight champion, Calzaghe has also defeated the likes of Robin Reid, Charles Brewer, Byron Mitchell, Sakio Bika, and Peter Manfredo, Jr. I personally would have liked to see Calzaghe fight Chad Dawson prior to his retirement, in what would've either been the culmination of the new young kingpin of the light heavyweight division, or the final affirmation of a great champion who has been on top for over ten years.

In any case, I wish Mr. Calzaghe a happy retirement and give him props for a very good career that saw him retire unbeaten.

HBO off to a nice start in 2009!

Once upon a time, HBO Sports was the premiere network for elite level, world champion boxing television. Remember the heavyweight tournament that took place in the mid 80s that resulted Mike Tyson not only becoming the youngest heavyweight champion of the world at the age of 20, but also the undisputed heavyweight champion?

Do you recall the chilling and memorable outcome of the showdown between undefeated jr welterweight champions Julio Cesar Chavez and Meldrick Taylor on March 17, 1990? Chavez's controversial come from behind knockout of Taylor, with two seconds remaining in the fight, still has fans and experts debating the outcome to this very day. On May 17, 1990, Pernell "Sweetpea" Whitaker and Azumah "The Professor" Nelson fought for the lightweight championship - both combatants at the time were pound for pound entrants.

Even as recent as 2000, Mexicans Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales squared off against each squared off against one another for jr featherweight supremacy, staging an unforgettable 12 round battle that was barbarically beautiful. Do you remember that fateful night on February 17, 2000? Because I do - it was in fact the 2000 Fight of the Year and still remains an excellent candidate for Fight of the Decade. The fighters in these matchups were not necessarily stars, but the results and memories of their fights catapulted many of them into super stardom. What do each and every one of these events have in common ladies and gentlemen? They were televised on HBO - once designated as the Heart and Soul of Boxing.

In the television rivalry that has ensued between networks Showtime and HBO, Showtime has built a reputation over the past few years of televising the best possible match ups in the sport of boxing. The names in those match ups are not always necessarily star quality, but the match ups are usually highly significant. Examples of such quality exemplified by Showtime include the Vasquez vs Marquez trilogy, Corrales vs Castillo I, Corrales vs Freitas, Castillo vs Casamayor, and Darchinyan vs Mijares.

Showtime continues to deliver on that objective this year, as they will be televising the Undisputed flyweight championship fight between champion Vic Darchinyan and former champion Jorge Arce. On April 4 a significant unification title fight at 140lbs will also be televised on Showtime, when WBC champion Timothy Bradley and WBO titlist Kendall Holt will square off against one another. Once again, this is a reputation that Showtime has established for itself throughout out the years. Showtime rival HBO, a network that has focused more so on star power than equally matched prize fights of significance, appears to be realizing the competitive advantage of televising quality boxing matches that Showtime has exhibited over the years.

So far in 2009, HBO has televised championship fights such as Berto vs Collazo and Mosley vs Margarito. By HBO's usual standards, the fight between Mosley and Margarito could have easily headlined a PPV broadcast. On February 28, lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez and former lightweight titlist Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz will meet for the championship of the world - on HBO World Championship Boxing. On the undercard of what appears to be an attractive doubleheader, featherweight champion Chris John defends his title against Rocky Juarez. Such a doubleheader could have also been televised on a PPV outlet, but HBO ponied up the money to televise those fights as well. After all, it was a little over a year ago when Golden Boy Promotions was going to put its "Fireworks" - Juan Manuel Marquez vs Rocky Juarez promotion on HBO PPV September 15, 2007.

When the Marquez vs Juarez title fight was rescheduled for November 3, 2007 due to an injury suffered in training by Marquez, Showtime bought the fight and saved boxing fans from having to pay $44.95. One must wonder if an intriguing match up such as Marquez vs. Diaz would have also been distributed on HBO PPV two years ago? As a boxing fan, I am thankful that HBO has begun to take a page out of Showtime's book and has improved its focus of televising the best matches available on their television network rather than distributing them on PPV.

On March 14, in what is a rematch of a fight that Showtime televised exclusively back in October of 2008, IBF/IBO light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson will defend his titles against Antonio Tarver. In their first encounter, Dawson won the title from Tarver in what was surprisingly a bigger than expected mismatch. Dawson used his speed and ring generalship to outbox Tarver to a clear unanimous decision win. Tarver is exercising the rematch clause that was in the original contract, but the fact that HBO is picking up the fight is confidence inspiring, especially if it leads to potential showdowns between Dawson and former two division champion Bernard Hopkins or even a rematch between Dawson and former light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson being shown on HBO.

Let us hope, as boxing fans who subscribe to HBO, that such a positive trend remains ongoing.

Boxing Chronicles: Updated Pound 4 Pound List!

New pound for pound rankings are in for Boxing Chonicles. It's been long enough! Last update took place on November 9, 2007. Given the changes in the sport since that time, it took me a while to redo the rankings. Who's in? Who's out? Who is at the top? Feel free to check it out here!

Urango regains IBF jr welterweight title!

Tenth round was five minutes and ten seconds long!

On Friday night at Bell Centre in Montreal, Juan Urango won the vacant IBF jr welterweight title, which he had lost to Ricky Hatton two years ago, by winning a unanimous decision over Herman Ngoudjo. Urango dropped Ngoudjo twice in the third round with left hands, but Ngoudjo was able to survive and box his way back into the fight. Ngoudjo won some of the middle rounds, but it was Urango who closed the show stronger, won the final round, and sealed the deal with the official judges by scores of 118-108, 120-106 and 116-110. Wide scores, considering the fact that the fighters were fighting on Ngoudjo's home turf. Viewers may have seen one of the longest rounds in history, as the timekeeper allowed the combatants to fight for what what may have been a record five minute and ten second round. Somebody get that timekeeper a cup of coffee! I don't know why he was sleeping in the first place; the fight wasn't really that boring!