Michael Rosenthal

Weekend Review: Lara needs a challenge

MOST TIRESOME

Erislandy Lara’s choice of opponents: The talented Cuban defector didn’t look particularly good in victories over veterans Luciano Perez, Grady Brewer and Danny Perez in 2009 and early last year. So his handlers decided to serve up a patsy. Then another. Then another. And then another. Four journeymen, four first-round KOs (including Delray Raines on Friday). OK, we get it. Lara has some power and can generate a little excitement. The problem is that he’s not going to prepare himself to fight for a major title against opponents who probably aren’t as good as his sparring partners. Enough of the pushovers. It’s time for a challenge again.

MOST REFRESHING

Peter Manfredo Jr.’s honesty: The well-known fringe middleweight contender was speaking to queensbury-rules.com before he outpointed Daniel Edouard on Friday. “I don't have the most skill in the world,” he said. “I'm not Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, and I never will be. I'm a fighter and an entertainer. I'm a good fighter, not a great fighter.” Who says that? I’ve heard guys who are 8-15 say they could beat Hall of Famers. Manfredo is right; he’s a good fighter, as he proved against Edouard. He has a good record (37-6, 20 knockouts) and all his losses came against good fighters. He also was smart to move down from 168 pounds to 160, where he’ll be more competitive. He’ll probably get that one more big fight he wants.

MOST POINTLESS

Arthur Abraham’s tune-up fight: The former middleweight titleholder is scheduled to fight on Feb. 12 in Germany, although he has yet to secure an opponent. Apparently the plan is to regroup before he faces Andre Ward in May in the semifinals of the Super Six World Boxing Classic, in which he has lost his last two fights (against Andre Dirrell and Carl Froch). It won’t do any good. Abraham has been exposed in the tournament as a mediocre boxer. He’s a tough guy with good power (as Jermain Taylor found out) but he’ll always have trouble with a skillful technician, as was the case against Dirrell and Froch. He doesn’t stand much of a chance against Ward, the most-talented boxer in the competition.

MOST CREATIVE

Berto-Ortiz: Welterweight titleholder Andre Berto and his handlers couldn’t have been thrilled about two prospective opponents, the winner of the Mike Jones-Jesus Soto Karass fight or Luis Collazo. Berto wants to take part in a big event, not just a good fight. Enter another possible opponent: Victor Ortiz, with whom Berto is negotiating for an April 16 fight. The junior welterweight contender isn’t near the level of superstars Shane Mosley or Manny Pacquiao, fighters Berto wanted to face. However, Ortiz brings significant name recognition and makes for a fascinating matchup, one that caught the boxing world by surprise. Ortiz’s handlers say the fight would have to take place at a catch weight, probably 143 or 144 pounds, which appears to be OK with Berto. Who wins? Who knows? That’s what makes the prospective matchup interesting. Let’s hope it happens.

BIGGEST UPSET?

Wladimir Klitschko-Dereck Chisora: Frank Warren, the promoter of Klitschko’s opponent for April 30, told the Associated Press that a victory by Chisora would be the biggest upset ever. “For a guy to win a heavyweight title after just 14 fights has to be the biggest upset of all time. It would be a bigger upset than (Leon) Spinks beating (Muhammad) Ali because Spinks came in as Olympic champion. There are a lot of people out there who think this is a total mismatch, but they’re wrong. He is going to give Klitschko a fight.” Well, it would definitely be one of the bigger upsets in heavyweight history. Warren has a point about Spinks. Bigger than Buster Douglas’ victory over Mike Tyson, though? No. Tyson was deemed invincible. And Douglas, while a legitimate contender, was obscure at the time. Where Warren is really off base, though, is the second part of his comment. “He is going to give Klitschko a fight.” Uh, yeah. Spinks and Douglas had some credentials before they shocked the world. Chisora comes in with nothing and will leave the ring the same way.

MOST AGELESS

Bernard Hopkins: The former four-time titleholder turned 46 on Saturday. That means he was born when Lyndon Johnson was President and turned pro when Ronald Reagan was in the White House, or five Presidents ago. Jean Pascal, his most-recent opponent, was 5 when Hopkins fought professionally for the first time. He fought for major titles 17 years apart, losing both times (to Roy Jones Jr. and Pascal). A major title was at stake in 26 of his 59 fights, or 44 percent. He went 20-3-2 in those fights (not including one no-contest). And, most remarkably, he remains a legitimate title contender 22-plus years into his career. The perfect birthday present for him? A much-deserved rematch with Pascal. A belated Happy Birthday, Bernard.

BEST PERFORMANCE

Christian Bale: The actor received the Golden Globe for best performance in a supporting role in The Fighter, a film based on the life of Micky Ward. No surprise. He stole the show with his riveting portrayal of Dick Ecklund, Ward’s former-boxer, drug-addicted half brother. Bale (as Ecklund) mentions numerous times that he fought Sugar Ray Leonard during his pro career, in which he was 19-10 (4 knockouts). And indeed he had, losing a unanimous 10-round decision in 1978 to the future Hall of Famer when Leonard was 12-0. Ecklund went down three times but obviously had solid skills. (See video above.) Ecklund also lost a 10-round decision to contender Dave Green about four months before Leonard stopped the Briton in four rounds. The Fighter was as much about Ecklund as Ward, which allowed Bale to shine.

BEST QUOTE

Dereck Chisora: “Winning the world title after 14 fights would be amazing. My goal is to unify all the titles.” Can’t fault him for thinking big.

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