Concern for Pacquiao: Word out of the Philippines was that Manny Pacquiao is distracted by his outside responsibilities, including his work in the Filipino congress. He supposedly had fallen behind in his training, in part because of a typhoon. Cause for concern? C’mon. Pacquaio and trainer Freddie Roach have been at this for more than nine years. They know exactly what is required for him to reach peak performance and wouldn’t accept anything less. Pacquaio is human, which means he fallible, but he’s also as focused and dedicated as any fighter in the world. The chaos has never hindered him before; why should it do so now? He’ll be 100 percent when he steps into the ring to face Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13.
Hand-wrap debate: A dour Margarito was very convincing in defending himself during the first Pacquiao-Margairto 24/7 episode on HBO, explaining with apparent sincerity that he had no idea that trainer Javier Capetillo placed illegal pads in his hand wraps before his fight against Shane Mosley. I wanted to believe him even if I find that very difficult. Then Pacquaio made anyone who might accept Margarito’s story as the truth look like an idiot, explaining that fighters aren’t so naïve as to overlook what is placed on their hands. So who is right? We’ll still be asking that question long after Margarito retires. And we’ll never get a definitive answer.
Guillermo Rigondeax: The Cuban defector, who faces Ricardo Cordoba for a 122-pound interim title on the Pacquiao-Margarito undercard, and his handlers believe the two-time Olympic gold medalist is ready for a real title fight. What’s unusual about that? He has had six professional fights. More remarkable: He probably would be given a good chance to beat even the best fighters around his weight. The polished boxer-puncher gained his experience in the top amateur program in the world, reportedly taking part in around 400 amateur fights. The 30-year-old last lost a fight in 2003. Toshiaki Nishioka, Celestino Caballero, Steve Molitor and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. hold 122-pound titles – for now.
Dereck Chisora: Wladimir Klitschko would be wise to protect his ears in addition to his face and body when he fights unbeaten Dereck Chisora on Dec. 11 in Germany. Chisora pulled a Mike Tyson when he bit the ear of journeyman Paul Butlin in the fifth round of the eight-round fight, for which he was suspended for four months and fined. Butlin complained immediately after the foul but the referee didn’t see it. However, it was clear on replays that Chisora sunk his teeth into his opponent, although he apparently did little damage. Still, Chisora denied that he bit Butlin. And it certainly hasn’t hurt his career. After all, he’s fighting the top heavyweight in world.
Roman Gonzalez: Francisco Rojas was the one guy who could give the unbeaten Nicaraguan mighty mite a bit of resistance. Not anymore. Gonzalez put his rival down three times and stopped him in two rounds, thus erasing a surprising majority-decision victory over Rojas in February of last year. Gonzalez (27-0, 23 KOs) appears to be a complete-package, a balanced boxer-puncher who probably would receive more pound-for-pound consideration if he weren’t a 108-pounder. The more he wins, though, the more people will take notice. The sad thing, at least for Americans, is that we don’t get to see him on TV. Thank goodness for YouTube.
Jesus Chavez: One of the sport’s good guys said after a brutal knockout loss to Michael Katsidis in April of last year that he would likely retire after a long, productive career. It didn’t happen. Since then, he has lost three fights – a grueling majority-decision to David Diaz, a one-sided decision to Humberto Soto and a fourth-round TKO to Jorge Linares on the Toshiaka Nishioka-Rendall Munroe undercard Saturday in Tokyo. Chavez has officially become an “opponent,” a recognizable name used to build the reputation of another fighter. The Texan was never a great boxer but he was a damn good one. He doesn’t deserve this. It’s time for Chavez to walk away.
Toshiaki Nishioka: THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior featherweight met his match in Veeraphol Sahaprom, going 0-2-2 in four fights with the Thai champion between 2000 and 2004. Since then, Nishioka has been untouchable. He has won 14 consecutive fights, including a one-sided decision over a very good fighter in Rendall Munroe on Saturday in Tokyo. Nishioka, 34, has plenty more challenges at 122 pounds. A matchup with No. 2-rated Ryol Li Lee of Japan, who recently upset veteran Poonsawat Kratingaenggym, would be a natural matchup of countrymen. Of course, we like the idea of Nishioka-Rigondeaux. And Nishioka has three fellow titleholders — Caballero, Molitor and Vazquez -– to target. More lies ahead.
Boxers on Walk of Stars: The Associated Press reported that Fernando Vargas will be the first boxer to receive a star on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars, which is patterned after the Hollywood Walk of Fame and includes such luminaries as Frank Sinatra and Wayne Newton. It’s about time a boxer was so honored given the important role they’ve played in Sin City. Vargas will be honored on Dec. 9 at the Encore Las Vegas hotel. Stars for Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao on Las Vegas Boulevard also have been approved. Why Vargas? Well, No. 1 he lives in Las Vegas. And, No. 2, we forget both how good and how popular he was. The night he beat a prime Ike Quartey in 2000 he was one of the best and biggest fighters in the world.
Bernard Hopkins, explaining to The Associated Press how his fight with Jean Pascal came about: “I’m in my rocking chair, minding my own business, and this guys says Bernard Hopkins is the guy I want to fight. So I rocked my chair a little harder, grabbed my cane – before I grabbed my teeth – and I called my promoters.”