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Short shots about the world of professional boxing:
It's amazing how far and how quickly Yuri Foreman has come. The future rabbi will defend his World Boxing Association super welterweight title against Miguel Cotto on Saturday at Yankee Stadium in front of about 30,000 fans.
Foreman has been a media darling since winning the title and made an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" the week of the Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley fight.
It wasn't a year ago that most boxing media shuddered at the thought of Foreman simply being on a card, because his fights were perceived as boring.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum was incensed by comments ESPN.com boxing writer Dan Rafael prior to Foreman's title winning effort over Daniel Santos on Nov. 14 in Las Vegas.
When Foreman routed Santos to win the title, Arum was celebrating in the ring. He shouted to me to get Rafael's attention. Rafael was sitting next to me, so I tapped him on the shoulder and told him Arum wanted him. Rafael looked at Arum in the ring and Arum gave him the finger.
Now, all of a sudden, Foreman is perceived to be a star and it's hard to go more than a couple of blocks in New York without seeing billboards promoting the fight.
• Foreman, by the way, is going to be a very difficult opponent for Cotto. Cotto loves to pressure, but Foreman is a superb boxer and knows well how to take the airs out of the tires, so to speak.
• Toronto Maple Leafs tough guy Colton Orr will be ringside as Foreman's guest. Orr, one of the NHL's top fighters, is a big Foreman fan. He offered to give Foreman fighting tips, as well as get tips from Foreman, though I'm pretty certain Foreman will say "Thanks, but no thanks," to that.
• The Foreman-Cotto fight will not begin until 11:15 p.m. ETbecause Foreman is an Orthodox Jew who can't even travel to the arena until after sunset. According to HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, Foreman won't leave his hotel in Manhattan until 9:15 p.m.
He'll be given a police escort to the stadium and Greenburg said HBO will have a camera in a helicopter following him on his way.
• If we're to take Vanes Martirosyan seriously as a super welterweight title contender – and I have plenty of doubts, believe me – he needs to perform big-time against Mean Joe Greene on Saturday's undercard.
Top Rank has pushed Martirosyan hard. Though the former U.S. Olympian is undefeated with a 27-0 record and 17 knockouts, he's been matched carefully. He's a veteran now, five years into his career, and he needs to show he's ready to make the next step against Greene.
• Greene, by the way, is no relation to the NFL Hall of Fame defensive tackle of the same name.
• The ring at Yankee Stadium will be in right center field. The Yankees asked Top Rank to not allow anyone on the infield. The ring area will have a cover in the event of bad weather.
• There has been a lot of buzz about who may replace former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis as the expert analyst on HBO's "Boxing After Dark" series. I have the scoop for you, though: no one. HBO tried out trainers Freddie Roach and Naazim Richardson, among others, but has opted to go with a two-man booth. Bob Papa and Max Kellerman are the voices of BAD.
• Has boxing on television in the U.S. ever had more great announcers actively calling fights, by the way? I love listening to Jim Lampley, Barry Tompkins, Al Bernstein, Rich Marotta and Larry Merchant. Antonio Tarver is showing great promise and Curt Menefee's not half-bad. Plus, I think Kellerman has improved tremendously.
• I miss Steve Albert calling boxing matches.
• Steve Cunningham will fight Troy Ross on Saturday in Germany for the International Boxing Federation cruiserweight title. Cunningham, one of the game's best, lost the IBF belt to Tomasz Adamek on Dec. 11, 2008, in a split decision in one of that year's best fights.
• What a shocker: Vitali Klitschko won every round in stopping Albert Sosnowski on Saturday in their fight for the World Boxing Council heavyweight title. Give Sosnowski credit for being tough and at least trying to win, which Kevin "Kingpin" Johnson didn't do when they fought in December.
• At this stage, the only fights that matter in the heavyweight division are the Klitschko brothers going against each other or against David Haye, Tomasz Adamek or Alexander Povetkin. A Haye-Adamek, Haye-Povetkin or Haye-Chris Arreola fight is mildly interesting, too.
Other than that, forget about it.
• The five matches that aren't made that I'd love to see (not counting rematches): 1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao; 2. Vitali Klitschko-Wladimir Klitschko; 3. Timothy Bradley-Devon Alexander; 4. Juan Manuel Lopez-Yuriorkis Gamboa; 5. Marcos Maidana-Michael Katsidis.
• Talk of a featherweight fight between Rafael Marquez and Lopez is picking up steam. That, too, would be a sensational bout and one promoters should do everything in their power to make.
• Pacquiao gets a lot of credit for a lot of things, but he doesn't receive nearly enough credit for having a great chin. One of his strengths in his recent move up to welterweight from super featherweight has been his ability to absorb punishment and keep coming.
The greatest chins ever, in my opinion, have belonged to Rocky Marciano, Jake La Motta, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Carlos Monzon and Carmen Basilio. Pacquiao may wind up on that list before he's through.
• Luis Lazarte, who won the IBF light flyweight title on Saturday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by taking a split decision over Carlos Tamara, is 39 years old and the oldest man to ever hold a junior flyweight title. He had been 0-5 in world title fights prior to Saturday.
You have to be happy for a guy like Lazarte, who fought professionally while also holding down a full-time job as a street sweeper.
What I like most about Lazarte, though, is his nickname: "El Mosquito." At 5-feet-1 and 111 pounds, I guess it didn't make sense to call him "Crusher" or "Bruiser."
• Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. successfully retained his World Boxing Organization super bantamweight title with an impressive 10th round stoppage of Zsolt Bedak on Saturday in Puerto Rico.
Vazquez Jr. is now 19-0-1 with 16 knockouts and is developing into one of the sport's most exciting fighters.
Still, the 25-year-old Vazquez has a ways to go to catch up to his old man. Vazquez Sr. won world titles at bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight in a 56-9-2 career.
• Michael Buffer and Jimmy Lennon Jr. have had a long reign atop the heap as boxing's best ring announcers. When they retire (eventually), I'm betting that Joe Martinez will become their successor.
Golden Boy just hired Martinez to do its fights on Telefutura. Martinez was the voice of World Extreme Cagefighting and before that, did a superb job for Guilty Boxing.
- Yuri Foreman
- Miguel Cotto
- World Boxing Association