Much has been made by those connected with the boxing business about the sport's resurgence in the last year.
And when a far-past-his-prime Roy Jones Jr. can sell 500,000 pay-per-views against an even farther-past-his-prime Felix Trinidad, as he did in January, it's indicative that the sport is in better shape than it has been in a long time.
It still isn't where it should be, though. And one need not look further than the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Neither newspaper is bothering to send a reporter to cover middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik's rematch with Jermain Taylor on Saturday at the MGM Grand despite the fact that Pavlik is from Youngstown, Ohio, less than an hour's drive from either city.
The first Pavlik-Taylor bout was a Fight of the Year candidate, a slugfest that the harder-hitting Pavlik won by knockout in the seventh round.
Promoters are calling the editors short-sighted for failing to send a reporter to cover the bout.
But instead of blaming Plain Dealer sports editor Roy Hewitt and Post-Gazette sports editor Jerry Micco, perhaps the promoters should be blaming themselves.
Boxing coverage has declined dramatically in newspapers over the last 20 years. One of the reasons is the late start times on Saturday nights, when papers typically have their earliest deadlines. The main events on these pay-per-view cards end so late that East Coast newspapers such as the Post-Gazette and Plain Dealer frequently can't get in the results.
And then, the editors have to decide whether that justifies the cost of sending a reporter to Las Vegas and not be able to get in the result. With the tight budgets they're facing, the editors often decide to save the money and keep their reporters home.
The boxing industry is overlooking an important issue. I was on a panel discussing boxing coverage at the Associated Press Sports Editors convention in 2006. The editors' biggest complaint about boxing was the late starting times.
Last year, at the National Association of Black Journalists convention, a boxing seminar was held. And again, many of the sports editors present complained about the late starting times in explaining their dwindling (or non-existent) boxing coverage.
Saturday's fight will begin well after 11 p.m. in the Eastern time zone and probably closer to midnight.
The promoters beg and moan for coverage and yet ignore the single biggest reason for the lack of it in daily papers.
The other negative to starting late on Saturday nights is that it prevents young people from seeing the fight, making it difficult to attract a new generation of fans.
And so while I'll say that the Plain Dealer and the Post-Gazette probably should have sucked it up and made it to Las Vegas, given how important Pavlik is to the readers in that area, it's understandable why they said no.
It's an issue that boxing's powers that be need to address quickly.
With that, it's on to the mailbag, which this week was dominated by response to Paul Williams' loss to Carlos Quintana and by my selection of Juan Manuel Marquez to defeat Manny Pacquiao in their March 15 rematch.
I'll tackle those questions and more in the latest edition. Please note that in future mailbags, I won't consider your question for use without your first and last name and your city and state (or country). My answers appear in italics:
DRUG TEST ARUM
Bob Arum said Kelly Pavlik might be the best middleweight champion of all time. When I heard that, I thought Arum ought to be thankful they don't drug test promoters. He has to be on something.
Arum isn't dumb enough to believe that. He once promoted Marvin Hagler. But he's in the business of selling tickets, too. Anyone who gives a comment like Arum made any credence ought to be tested.
PICK A WINNER
Who do you think will win the Taylor-Pavlik rematch on Saturday? What do you think of Nonito Donaire as the IBF flyweight champion?
Baguio City, Philippines
I'll have more analysis as fight night approaches, but I like Pavlik to win the rematch, as well. Though Taylor's camp made it a non-title fight by including in the first contract that a rematch would be fought at 166 pounds, I think that favors Pavlik, not Taylor. As far as Donaire, he's an exciting fighter who scored a tremendous knockout of Vic Darchinyan to win the belt. It's a competitive division with no dominant champion, so Donaire could be around the top for a while.
COTTO WOULD HAVE ROMPED
I don't know a lot about boxing, but you shouldn't be so optimistic about any boxer. I just read your column on Paul Williams. In this day and age, anyone could garner a 33-0 record. To be honest, Carlos Quintana is an average boxer, so imagine what would've happened to Williams if Miguel Cotto was his opponent.
Many fans are fooled by gaudy records, but in boxing, it's all about who you've beaten.
What happened to your favorite, Paul Williams? I'm a regular reader of your column and love the sport. There's a lesson here.
Williams fought a poor strategic fight and didn't seem motivated. He never established his jab and failed to use his size to his advantage. But if there is a lesson here, it's to read carefully. I never picked Williams to win in the column I wrote on him last week.
MAX WAS RIGHT
HBO analyst Max Kellerman had the quote of the night Saturday when he said after Quintana beat Williams that we really know how good Cotto is now. I only assume many Cotto critics are thinking who Cotto has to fight now to be worthy of fighting Mayweather. He destroyed Quintana, the guy who made Williams look like an amateur. It's time for everyone who is a Cotto hater to realize Cotto is in another league. If Cotto would have fought Williams Saturday, it would have been a massacre.
With each day and with each fight, it is becoming clear the only logical opponent for Floyd Mayweather Jr. from a competitive standpoint is Miguel Cotto. Cotto has just about cleaned out the welterweight division. Mayweather-Cotto has to happen. As I wrote in June, this fight has the potential to be the Leonard-Duran of the modern era.
LEDERMAN OFF MARK
When will HBO stop using Harold Lederman as its unofficial scorer? His scoring of the Mayewhether-Hatton fight was ridiculous and his scoring of the Quintana-Williams fight was worse. In a fight in which Quintana clearly outscored Williams and scored the most punishing blows, Lederman had Williams winning the fight, 115-113. Not one of the official judges had Williams winning.
Culver City, Calif.
Be thankful that Harold, one of the nicest guys in the business, is an unofficial judge and not an official judge any more.
YOU'LL BE SORRY
I like your views and I always read your column. However, I don't agree with your assessment regarding the incoming Pacquiao-Marquez fight. You were wrong in picking Williams over Quintana and you will be proven wrong in picking Marquezâ€¨over Pacquiao.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
It's my opinion that Marquez will beat Pacquiao, but I wouldn't be shocked if Pacquiao won. It's a great match. I got a kick out of a thread on the forums on Pacquiao's website called "I hate Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports." Many Pacquiao fans were irate that I've picked Marquez. But to clear the record up, one poster said that I ranked Pacquiao below Bernard Hopkins in my pound-for-pound poll. Not true. In the Yahoo! Sports boxing poll, which is voted upon by 25 boxing writers, including myself, Pacquiao is No. 2 behind Mayweather. On my ballot, I had Mayweather, Joe Calzaghe and then Pacquiao. Come on, guys! If you're going to hate me, hate me for the right reasons!
Just a stupid moron you are! How could you pick Marquez over Pacman??? You white trash! Do you want to bet your ass on that fight? Marquez was the loser of their first fight. He was just lucky it was called draw by stupid white trash like you! How in the world could it have been a draw after three knockdowns? Bet your job, jerk. If Pacman wins, resign from your ole stinkin' chair! You don't deserve to be an analyst on boxing. You look like a loser anyway!
Thank you, Ricardo. I'm sure the family is beaming with pride at your class and brilliance.
PACMAN BY KO
In picking Marquez to win by decision over Pacquiao, you seem resigned to the thought that this fight will go the distance. By doing so, you simply ignored Pacman's ability to finish the fight with his punching power, which JMM sadly lacks. Well, I admire you for this as you are staking your reputation as a top-notch boxing analyst. I hope you are wrong. Just as Frank Mir finished off Brock Lesnar with a well-executed submission maneuver 90 seconds into their fight at UFC 81, Pacman will also do the trick to send JMM into dreamland.
Jerome Levi Reyes
Pacquiao could knock out Marquez, but I don't think he will. And I don't necessarily agree that Marquez has no power, though Pacquiao has a clear edge in that category.
I was really impressed by the fight between Joe Calzaghe and Mikkel Kessler and the scores were right. Joe has moved on to another big-name opponent and I haven't heard anything about Kessler. I certainly don't think he did his career any harm with a great showing in a very tough fight with Joe. Who is he fighting next?
He has nothing scheduled yet. Winky Wright was a possibility, but Wright chose not to take the fight. Kessler is excellent, though, and should get another big fight before long.
THOUGHTS ON GREEN
What do you honestly think about Allan Green?? Do you think he could be a contender for the belt that Pavlik holds right now? If he gets a shot, do you think he could beat Pavlik and his power? Where would you rate him in the top 10 middleweights right now?
Matt, Green is a super middleweight, not a middleweight. He's never fought as a middleweight as a pro. I don't think he's in the league of the top fighters in his division, but I think he's competitive in that second tier. Guys like Calzaghe and Kessler would handle him with ease if he were to get a shot at them, but Green can handle himself all right against all but the elite fighters in the class.
Can't get enough of Kevin Iole's mailbag? Then check out last week's edition.