LAS VEGAS – On the eve of the Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero pay-per-view event, a Fox Sports Net-televised ballroom boxing card took place at the Cosmopolitan, which featured Antonio Orozco, Anthony Dirrell, as well as 2012 U.S. Olympians Joseph Diaz Jr., Errol Spence, and Dominic Breazeale.
While RingTV.com editor Doug Fischer handled the deadline report, Mark E. Ortega gathered news and information from notable boxing folks who were in attendance.
Tarver: “I want Hopkins, that’s the only man on my radar”
In attendance at the Cosmopolitan’s Chelsea ballroom was former light heavyweight king Antonio Tarver, who is looking to climb back in the ring in July, under his own promotion. That fight will likely be a tune-up bout against a mid-level opponent, but the man on Tarver’s mind is Bernard Hopkins, who handed him a lopsided defeat in 2006.
“I’m going down to my weight, light heavyweight,” Tarver told RingTV.com. “I want Bernard Hopkins; that is the only man on my radar.”
When asked about why the first fight with Hopkins went so wrong for him, Tarver didn’t have a definitive answer regarding the unanimous decision loss.
“I don’t know why it didn’t go right,” said Tarver. “It was just one of those nights. I didn’t feel right in the ring. But I regrouped after that, won the title twice.
“When I fought him the first time, the man was coming off two losses and coming up two weights,” said Tarver. “All I want is just a return favor for the favor I gave him.”
Tarver, who dipped his foot in both the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions in recent years, seems focused on returning to former glory in the division where he was the first to knockout former pound-for-pound king Roy Jones Jr.
“When me and Bernard fight, the loser gotta retire, the loser goes home,” said Tarver. “I take that back, because I’d give him a rematch when I win. But after THAT, the loser gotta go home!”
Tarver had a successful run as a commentator for Showtime before a positive drug test in his last fight kayoed his job as well as put his fighting career on hold. When asked about the interest in returning to commentary, Tarver gave a good answer.
“All I wanna do is fight, that’s it,” said Tarver. “That’s all I wanna do, beat somebody’s ass.”
Kirkland on ring return, Canelo
Former junior middleweight contender James Kirkland was also in attendance. People in the boxing community have been looking for his face on the side of milk cartons as he has been missing in action in recent months.
Kirkland confirmed to RingTV.com that he has his sights set on a return, but is awaiting the results of a May 13 lawsuit he has against Golden Boy Promotions and trainer Ann Wolfe.
In that lawsuit, Kirkland is alleging that his promoter and managers didn’t have his best interests at heart, which is a ludicrous claim given his past history. Golden Boy stood by him after he was knocked out in one round by fringe contender Nobuhiro Ishida in 2011, and previously stood by him when he served time in jail.
“I’m taking my time, weighing my options,” said Kirkland to RingTV.com in regards to when we might see him again. “I’m looking to get one tune-up and then go after one of the big names. ‘Canelo’ is who I want at 154 pounds.”
Kirkland was in the running to fight Saul Alvarez late last year, but priced himself out before declining the fight altogether. After watching Alvarez defeat Austin Trout a few weeks ago, Kirkland is as antsy as ever to fight him.
“I think most people see his weaknesses but nobody has capitalized,” said Kirkland. “You can build strength, but you can’t build heart.”
Kirkland also shared that he was surprised at Trout’s gameplan against Alvarez.
“You look at how Trout fought him,” said Kirkland. “He had nothing but a jab and feints. He didn’t throw in combination. That wasn’t exciting.”
Kirkland said his next fight could take place under a promotional outfit that he will be running before he takes on a serious opponent.
Figueroa troubled late Valero in the gym
Budding lightweight Omar Figueroa showed his potential early on as a professional according to trainer Mario Morales, who trained the late Edwin Valero towards the end of his career.
In a conversation with Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Robert Diaz, he brought up how Figueroa’s father asked if his boy could spar with Valero, to which Diaz said, “No, absolutely not.”
“He was something like 19 or 20 years old,” Diaz told RingTV. “I told him not to go and they went anyways. Valero was known for being bad sparring, because he wouldn’t spar, he would fight you.”
Morales, who now trains Daniel Ponce De Leon, shared with RingTV.com that at that young age, Figueroa was one of the few to trouble Valero in sparring.
“After one round, Omar walked back to his corner and his father wanted to pull him out after how Valero treated him,” said Morales. “Omar said, ‘No, I wanna go back out there.’ To his credit, he gave Valero hell in the next round.”
This sparring session took place in preparation for Valero’s one-sided victory over Antonio DeMarco in his final bout before tragically killing his wife and then allegedly ending his own life in a Venezuelan prison.
“During the fight, I told Valero, your sparring was tougher than [DeMarco],” said Morales. “Valero once said that he believed Omar would become a champion.”
Nevada commission head Kizer weighs in on open scoring
Two weeks ago in San Antonio, Texas, a tremendous event headlined by the Saul Alvarez-Austin Trout junior middleweight title bout took place in front of nearly 40,000 fans at the Alamodome.
Though the fight was an intense one, the air was taken out of its sail due to the WBC’s open-scoring rule, which allowed the scores to be read to the corners after the fourth and eighth rounds. At both junctures, Alvarez was well ahead on the cards despite the action suggesting a much closer fight. It affected the final third of the fight as Alvarez seemed content to not take many risks while Trout had to try and chase him.
Nevada State Athletic Commission head Keith Kizer weighed with his opinions on open scoring on Friday.
“My concern is that boxing is the only major sport where you can be far behind and still manage to win,” Kizer told RingTV.com. “In other sports, if you get injured, you nearly almost always have to forfeit whereas in boxing that isn’t the case.
“My main concern is that fighters that know they are ahead will feign additional damage from a foul or headbutt in order to send the fight to the scorecards, where they will win. Trainer Lou Duva once trained a guy by the name of Johnny Bumphus, and there was a fight where Bumphus was cut but was ahead in the fight. Duva later told people that he purposely made the cut worse in order to secure the win.”
When asked if the issue of open scoring ever came up in Nevada, Kizer said it did but that it was a pretty quick decision not to bring it along.
“Look, I see where there can be some positives from it, but in general I think the negatives far outweigh the positives,” said Kizer.
Most everybody on social media came down hard on the open scoring during the fight and some even felt the fight was ruined because of it.