Mailbag: This and that

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

Promoter Bob Arum is on record saying that middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik will defend his title against John Duddy in the summer in New York if he gets past Jermain Taylor in their non-title rematch on Feb. 16.

If Duddy gets the shot, it will largely be because he is extraordinarily popular in Ireland and among the Irish community in New York and will attract an overflow crowd. It certainly won't be because he's qualified to fight for the belt.

Duddy is 23-0 with 17 knockouts and is a gregarious, easy guy to like. But he hasn't beaten the kind of competition that would make him title worthy and doesn't appear to me to be good enough to ever defeat a guy like Pavlik.

A Pavlik-Duddy fight would be a mismatch and that's not what boxing needs. It's gained great momentum in the last year by making quality matches featuring the best fighters in each division.

Making a bout like Pavlik-Duddy would be reverting to the old way of doing business. With that, let's dive into an extremely busy reader mailbag:


I keep hearing people say Tito Trinidad is washed up, starting after he lost to Bernard Hopkins in 2001 and much more so after his loss earlier this month in the Roy Jones fight. Do people realize Tito fought two "champs" at their weight, which Tito was not suited for? Tito is the best with no doubt at 154, where he should have stayed.

Sharon Main

Sharon, you're clearly looking at the world through Tito-colored glasses. Tito was actually favored when he met Hopkins in 2001. He had been dominant in a win over William Joppy in a middleweight title fight about four months before he met Hopkins and clearly was fit for the 160-pound class. He simply didn't have enough nuance to his game to beat smarter boxers like Hopkins, Winky Wright and Jones. Adding to his problems against Jones was size. In that case, moving up to 170 was a mistake.


Why are you underrating Manny Pacquiao? He's much more powerful than Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez has the skill, but Pacquiao's aggressiveness eventually overcomes the skills of his opponents. Look what happened to Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales.


By picking Marquez to win their fight on March 15, I'm hardly underrating Pacquiao. I think Pacquiao is one of the elite fighters in the world. So, too, though, is Marquez. And after being knocked down three times in the first round of their first bout in 2004, Marquez came back and won 9 of the next 11 rounds on my card. He proved who the better boxer is on that night, even though it came out a draw, and I think he'll do so again on March 15. Marquez is much closer to his prime now than either Barrera or Morales were in their most recent bouts against Pacquiao.


Do you believe Roy Jones Jr., who looked sharp but not overly aggressive against Trinidad, financially hurt himself going forward by not finishing a fighter who never boxed at more than 160, who had not fought in nearly three years and who I believe it is obvious really had no intentions of boxing again?

Joe Horn
Mahwah, N.J.

No, and I'll give you 25 million reasons why, Joe. The Jones-Trinidad fight did 500,000 pay-per-view buys, which was the second-best performance of Jones' career, when a lot of the people in the industry thought the bout would be lucky to do half that. That generated $25 million in pay-per-view revenue, which guarantees that as long as Jones is breathing, he'll be able to land another significant fight. Kudos to promoter Don King for his fabulous job of selling a hard-to-sell fight. And Jones, who has for most of his career failed to cooperate fully with the media, deserves commendation as well. Jones made himself available from start to finish and maybe now realizes how much money he left on the table over the years by blowing off interviews and either showing up hours late or not at all to press conferences.


I just saw that Roy Jones Jr. said the winner of the Feb. 16 Kelly Pavlik-Jermain Taylor rematch is a possibility for his next fight. I think that's insane. If Taylor wins it might be OK, but I think Pavlik would give Jones permanent brain damage. You said his chin has grown suspect; that and his age are not a good mix against someone like Pavlik, who has devastating power and throws everything right down the middle. I think a Jones-Pavlik fight would be great for Pavlik's career, but a sad end to the career of a once great fighter like Jones Jr.

Bo Jessee

Jones is nowhere near the fighter he once was, but he's still good enough that he can be competitive with the best fighters in the world. I don't think he'd beat Pavlik, but I don't think he'd be at any more risk than any other leading contender.


It seems to me Joe Calzaghe is ducking Roy Jones Jr. He says Roy is not the fighter he used to be, but Hopkins is 42! Even if he beats Hopkins, Roy is younger. That would be the harder fight. What if he lost the fight to Hopkins? I don't think that would give him the credit he is looking for to be considered a very good fighter.

Vincent Bryson II

Calzaghe is a great fighter and has already gotten plenty of credit. He doesn't have a high-profile in the U.S., because he's never fought here and not a lot of his fights have been televised here. Believe me, he's very, very good. And no, he's not ducking Roy. He'd already made a deal with Hopkins when Jones began calling him out. He'd have no problem facing Jones next.


What has happened to the boxing careers of Paul Spadafora and Devin Vargas? What have they been up to in the fight game?

Jim Rogozinski

Woodville, Ohio
Spadafora, the one-time lightweight champion, ran afoul of the law and that curtailed his career. He was released from jail on a parole violation late last year and is now resuming his career. Vargas is a heavyweight who is 14-0 and last fought on Dec. 5.


Why wasn't Sugar Ray Leonard on your list of the top 25 in boxing? I think with The Contender on ESPN he is very powerful and well known.


Ray isn't active enough in boxing, in my opinion, to make the top 25.


After the fights, HBO analyst Larry Merchant seems like he's just coming out of a coma. He is horrible.

Joe Abrams
Blooming Grove, N.Y.

I disagree, but to each his own. I like the fact that Merchant speaks his mind and will challenge conventional wisdom.


Why did you not include Freddie Roach in your list of 25 most powerful people in boxing?

Julius Michael Nonato

I considered Freddie, but as strictly a trainer, his influence in the overall game is surpassed by those who have a direct impact on what fights are made and when.


No arguments about Oscar De La Hoya as No. 1 on your power list, as he is obviously an excellent (self) promoter. I just can't understand how a guy who has had at best a decent career and is undoubtedly the biggest loser in superfight history (Mosley twice, Trinidad, Hopkins and Mayweather) can be so popular. I am also dismayed at the talk of a rematch with Floyd. Who really thinks Oscar can win? I don't see how a true fan of the game can get excited by the prospect of seeing Oscar lose again. We need to look to the future. Mayweather versus Cotto is where it's at.


I would much rather see Mayweather-Cotto than Mayweather-De La Hoya. There is a lot more money, though, in the De La Hoya fight, while it's happening. And while your point about Oscar losing many of his big fights is noted, he's also won his share and has fought everyone. There is no one he has ducked. Give him credit for taking on the best of his time and always being very competitive.


I just read the WBA is giving Miguel Cotto until December to fight his mandatory, Yuriy Nuzhnenko. Cotto is one of the more active fighters, having defended his title three times last year and looks to defend it at least twice this year. Why would Cotto be required to have a mandatory bout if he is actively defending his title numerous times in a given year? It doesn't make sense but I'd like to know what the reasoning is.

New Jersey

In theory, it makes sense but in practice it does not. In theory, it forces the best fighters, i.e. the mandatory contender, to get a title shot and won't allow a champion to duck a good challenge. In practice, it doesn't work because the sanctioning bodies' ratings are horrible. For one, they don't rate the champions of the other sanctioning bodies, so Mayweather, widely acknowledged as the best fighter in the world, isn't ranked at welterweight by the WBA, WBO or the IBF. With a system like that, who can be shocked by the confusion?


Who would emerge victorious in this four-man tournament bracket at 130 pounds? (1) Manny Pacquiao vs. (4) Joan Guzman and (2) Juan Manuel Marquez vs. (3) Valero.

Sacramento, Calif.

I'd say Pacquiao would defeat Guzman in a tougher than expected bout and that Marquez would stop Valero. Then I would expect Marquez to defeat Pacquiao. Fortunately, we'll get to see the rematch between Pacquiao and Marquez on March 15 when they meet in Las Vegas.

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