Chris Arreola: Arreola is 2-0 with two knockouts in 13 days after stopping Nagy Aguilera in three rounds on May 14 and Kendrick Releford in seven on May 27, the latter fight being on national television. The 30-year-old Southern Californian has now won four consecutive fights since his majority-decision loss to Tomasz Adamek in April of last year. More important, he seems to be committed to training properly. That will be the key to his success from here on out. If he stays on track, if doesn’t balloon in weight and take days off during training camps, he’ll eventually get another chance to fight for a world title and could win. If he slips back to his old ways, if he doesn’t keep his focus on boxing, he will have wasted a great deal of talent. The boxing world watches.
Tony Thompson: The 39-year-old from the nation’s capital stopped Maurice Harris in three rounds in a title eliminator on the Arreola-Releford card Friday, his fifth consecutive victory since he was stopped in 11 by Wladimir Klitschko in 2008. That was one of Thompson’s two losses, the other coming in a four-rounder early in his career. The victory over Harris makes him the IBF’s No. 2 heavyweight and gives him the right to fight No. 1 Eddie Chambers for the mandatory position. Sadly for both, Klitschko is the IBF titleholder. We wouldn’t want to see either fight the giant Ukrainian again. However, if David Haye were to upset Klitschko, then you couldn’t count either out. Thompson is a solid all-around heavyweight. It will be interesting to see how he does.
Rios-Antillon: Brandon Rios’ lightweight title defense against Urbano Antillon on July 9 on Showtime was finalized last week, which is terrific news. This fight is the talk of the boxing world, a can’t-miss war between two of the most-fearless bangers in world almost certain to end in knockout. What more could we ask? Rios, who has emerged as one of the top fighters in the world in his past few fights, probably will win because of his somewhat superior technique and uncommon strength but this will be a lot fun to watch as long as it lasts. Antillon originally was scheduled to fight Humberto Soto in a much-anticipated rematch of their thrilling battle, which also would’ve been something to see. We’ll gleefully accept this consolation, though. The fight will take place at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Juan Manuel Marquez bulking up: Marquez confirmed to a Web site reporter that he plans to bulk up for his fight against Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 12, although he said he’ll do it more intelligently than when he fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. He plans to gain weight under a doctor’s supervision. That’s bad news for those of us hoping for a competitive fight. Marquez, who will be 38 in August, is a natural 135 pounder. If he bulks up to around 142 – as he did for Mayweather – he’ll lose hand and foot speed. He would be wiser to fight at a comfortable weight (about 137, 138) to maintain speed, which is more important than strength. Henry Armstrong is an example of a fighter who regularly fought welterweights at around 135 with great success. Marquez isn’t Armstrong but he’s damned good.
Khan-Guerrero: Amir Khan is having a heck of time finding an opponent for a July 23 HBO date. He was supposed to have fought Timothy Bradley but negotiations broke down, leaving a wide-open field of possibilities. That included: Zab Judah, Marcos Maidana, Erik Morales and lightweight Robert Guerrero. Even Breidis Prescott, the only man to beat Khan, called him out again. Judah appears to be the leading candidate, although negotiations appear to be difficult. That would be a good fight. Judah has the ability and experience to give Khan problems, although some see him as a frontrunner who crumbles at the first sign of adversity. If that fight doesn’t happen? I like Guerrero. I wonder about the jump in weight, from 135 to 140. However, he is a very strong lightweight and looked terrific against Michael Katsidis. Khan-Guerrero would be very compelling. Plus, they both fight for Golden Boy Promotions. They probably could reach a deal relatively easily.
Top Rank-Golden Boy dialogue: Bob Arum and Richard Schaefer, who run the top two promotional firms, apparently emerged from a meeting leading to the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez deal with détente in their hearts. Arum told the Los Angeles Times afterward that he believes the feuding companies could work together again. And this week Oscar De La Hoya Tweeted an apology to Arum and Pacquiao for “any wrongdoing on my part.” We hope this is only the start. The sport has suffered because of one in-house matchup after another. Peace between Top Rank and Golden Boy would open up many exciting possibilities.
MOST OVERDUE (STILL)
Jack Johnson pardon: Legendary heavyweight champion Jack Johnson paid a price for flaunting the racial sensibilities of the early 20th century: He was wrongly convicted on trumped up charges of transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes, a violation of the obscure Mann Act. He fled the country but ultimately returned and spent about a year in prison. In 2009, a resolution to pardon Johnson passed both houses of Congress but President Obama refused to act on it. The Justice Department apparently frowns upon posthumous pardons. Sen. John McCain and Rep. Peter King are trying again. Johnson and his descendants have lived (and suffered) with this injustice and indignity for a century. For God’s sake, correct it.
Rep. Peter King, on a proposed pardon of Jack Johnson: “I just believe in doing this. We owe it to the sport of boxing and the memory of Jack Johnson to pursue this. It transcends sports. This is a sad moment in history that has to be corrected. John and I think, just keep trying. The president may look at it differently now.”