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OBSERVE AND FIGHT: THE DIRTY SIDE OF BOXING OUTSIDE THE RING

By David Kassel | August 18, 2014
OBSERVE AND FIGHT: THE DIRTY SIDE OF BOXING OUTSIDE THE RING

It's Monday. Welcome back for another edition of Observe and Fight, The Boxing Observer's compilation of observations and random thoughts from the week that was in boxing. Get caught up on some of the most recent events you may have missed out on, including a look at the dirty side of bxing outside the ring, 2 world titles changing hands, an analysis the Mayweather vs. Maidana 2 undercard, and much more. Without further ado, check out the latest observations from the Boxing Observer, David Kassel.

The dirty side of boxing, outside the ring, can often be more vicious than a war inside the ring. Since last November, the world has been clamoring for Andre Ward to get back in the ring. Most casual observers, and even some hardcore boxing fans, believe Ward is ducking and dodging everyone at 175lbs because he is afraid to move up in weight. However, those who are paying attention to the situation know that Ward is currently tied up in a nasty legal battle with his promoter, Dan Goossen. Long story short, Ward believes money is owed to parties that haven't been paid by Goossen. Ward is trying to break away from his contract and become a free agent, which would free him to fight anyone, at anytime, without having to go through Goossen. Recently, Ward filed another lawsuit claiming Goossen repeatedly violated the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. Last week, Goossen fired back with a bombshell. Goossen has now filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Ward and others. Whoever is right and whoever is wrong is not the point here. The point is that Ward is in the prime of his career and is not being allowed (or is not allowing himself if you choose to look at it from that perspective) to stay sharp and build his name brand. Andre Ward is the #2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, yet he may be losing quality years of rounds he can earn in the ring. One thing is for sure, Andre Ward is not scared of any fight. He is not scared of Gennady Golovkin. He is not scared of Bernard Hopkins. He is not scared of Adonis Stevenson. He is not scared of Sergey Kovalev. Ward is not scared of any fighter in the ring. The biggest problem is that Ward is currently involved in the toughest fight of his professional career and has fallen victim to the dirty side of boxing.

Congratulations to Kell Brook for winning the IBF welterweight championship! Even though Shawn Porter may not agree, I also thought Brook did enough to take the title from the champion. I was one of those writers who thought Brook's chin would not be able to hold up to the pressure Porter would bring for 12 rounds. I was wrong. Brook fought a very smart, tactical fight and earned his way to the championship. However, Brook may have already sealed his own fate. Directly after the fight, during his post-fight interview, instead of calling out Amir Khan in an all-England super-fight, Brook called out Keith Thurman. I'm not really sure the thinking behind that move, but I'm hoping his promoter, Eddie Hearn, had nothing to do with that. If Hearn was the man who put it into Brook's ear to call out Thurman, that was a horrible promotional decision. Brook has nothing to gain right now by fighting Thurman. He has everything to gain by fighting Khan. A Khan fight would easily be a high 7-figure payday. Thurman may not even earn Brook $2 million in England. Brook vs. Khan would sell out Wembley Stadium. I'm not sure Brook vs. Thurman would sell out anywhere in the United States. In my honest opinion, a win over Thurman would not lead to a showdown with Floyd Mayweather. However, a win over Khan, in front of 80,000 fans, could lead to a unification fight with the pound-for-pound king in May. Hopefully, someone talks some sense into "The Special One" because Khan is the much more logical, and probably easier, fight for Brook than is Thurman.

Another major congratulations goes out to Anthony Dirrell for overcoming a multitude of tragedies and winning a world title! Dirrell, who has overcome cancer and a serious motorcycle accident, clearly defeated Sakio Bika in their rematch Saturday night to win the WBC super middleweight title. Dirrell is now a major player in the 168lb division and could be a contender to face any of the top names out there.

Two world champions successfully defended their world titles Saturday. Yoan Pablo Hernandez narrowly escaped with his IBF cruiserweight title by defeating 43-year-old Firat Arslan by split decision in Germany. Hernandez remains near the top of the cruiserweight division along with Marco Huck, who defends his WBO title August 30th. However, one major roadblock for this fight is that both men are trained by Ulli Wegner. Hopefully, this issue can be resolved because this would be a great fight.

The other world champion to successfully defend his title, Saturday, was Omar Figueroa. The WBC lightweight champion, Figueroa has quickly become one of the most fan-friendly, exciting fighters in the sport. He is always involved in a can't miss fight, and his 9th round TKO win over Daniel Estrada was no exception. After the fight, Figueroa stated his intentions to move to the 140lb division because his body cannot properly make weight anymore. The champion will immediately become a major player at 140, and Jorge Linares, who was successful in his ring return Saturday, looks like Figueroa's first challenge. That is going to be one hell of a fight if it comes to fruition!

Big Knockout Boxing's debut wasn't what I was expecting. The main event between Gabe Rosado and Bryan Vera was a 6th round knockout win for Rosado, but after watching the fight, that fight would have been fought the same way in a regular boxing ring. My biggest question is if there is a boxer who likes to use his legs to move around the ring willing to get into the BKB ring. I would like to see how Erislandy Lara would have fared against Rosado into that small circle. That's when I will know if this BKB will be a success.

Deontay Wilder made the right choice in taking a tune-up fight. The #1 ranked WBC heavyweight contender didn't want to sit around and wait for Bermane Stiverne to be healthy enough to fight. Wilder took on a low risk, low reward challenge from Jason Gavern and banked some quality rounds in the process. Wilder didn't look good, but he wouldn't have received those rounds in sparring. It was the right choice for Wilder. Plus, he earned a minor payday.

The Mayweather vs. Maidana II undercard has been set. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. A lot of people believe it is a weak undercard, but I'm not so sure. 3 world titles are on the line, including the main event. The co-feature has the all-action Leo Santa Cruz defending his WBC super bantamweight title against Manuel Roman in what should be an exciting knockout win for Santa Cruz (even though I would have rather seen Santa Cruz fight Guillermo Rigondeaux). IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez, who isn't the most exciting fighter to watch, defends against Mayweather Promotions fighter Mickey Bey, who is coming off of 2 straight wins following his shocking knockout loss in the final round against John Molina. Bey will definitely press the action in this fight, hopefully making it a decent scrap. In the opener, Alfredo Angulo makes his middleweight debut against the relatively unknown James De la Rosa. The best fight on the card may be the free fight on the free preview show between the previously mentioned John Molina, who is coming off his Fight of the Year candidate against Lucas Matthysse, taking on tough guy, and former world champion, Humberto Soto. That will be a Fight of the Year contender for sure! I don't think this pay-per-view breaks 1 million buys, which is the standard Mayweather has set for himself, however, it has a chance to be a fairly solid show.

Jermain Taylor is getting another shot at middleweight gold. Newly-crowned world champion Sam Soliman, who defeated Felix Sturm for the title, will give Taylor a surprising chance at a world title for the first time since 2009 when Taylor was knocked out by Carl Froch. This could be, and if he is not successful, should be Taylor's last chance at a title. Taylor doesn't deserve this shot in the first place and is only getting it because of his name. Soliman had the choice to fight Gennady Golovkin, but decided not to unify because he probably knows he can't beat GGG. Soliman better hope this move doesn't backfire.

We've got a Round of the Year candidate on our hands! The first round between Jose Lopez and Roberto Casteneda has a great chance to win this year's award as it featured 3 knockdowns and was all-action from the start.

It's a pretty slow week in boxing, but a former world champion will be in action. Austin Trout returns on the season finale of ESPN Friday Night Fights. Former welterweight title challenger Mike Jones returns to the ring in Atlantic City on Saturday. Flyweight Luis Concepcion also returns to action in Panama. A vacant junior flyweight title is also on the line Saturday as Javier Mendoza and Ramon Garcia Hirales battle it out.

Each week, I feature an email from a fan on Observe and Fight. This week's email comes to us from Syed Z. regarding Danny Garcia's next move...

"Firstly let me just say that I'm a huge fan of Fighthype and it's very much become embedded in my daily routine to check the site throughout the day for updates across the boxing world. I appreciate the work that you and the team do, being from the UK our exposure to Non-UK related boxing news is minimal. My question relates to Danny Garcia, I'm a big "Swift" fan I truly believe he's the best at 140 and will go on to do well at 147. I read your comments on him not fighting Peterson and venturing into 147 but I'm thinking considering he looked mediocre against Herrera and was matched against a poor opponent in Salka if he skips the Peterson fight for a debut at 147 it would do more damage than good as he'll be perceived as ducking/Cherry Picking. I believe the Peterson fight is a competitive one (Although Danny gets a stoppage) and one that re-establishes his image as a fighter that truly fights the best in his division. If he does go on to move into the 147lbs division do you think this hurts his image? And who would you like him to fight for his debut into the weight class?"

I also agree that Garcia is the best 140-lb fighter in the world. He has proven that. However, I don't think there is anyone left in the division, other than Adrien Broner, who can make him as strong a payday and build his reputation at junior welterweight. He's already beaten Matthysse. Peterson got KO'd badly by Matthysse. Herrera was a bad match-up, stylistically, for Garcia and the payday wouldn't be enough to give Herrera a rematch. I think the Peterson fight would be competitive, but I don't think any writer would say Garcia is cherry-picking if he moved up to 147. They would say he is finally trying to line himself up to fight Floyd Mayweather. Welterweight is where the big money is right now so it wouldn't hurt Garcia's image at all. There are tons of fights I would love to see him in at welterweight, but a logical, sensible fight would be against someone like Josesito Lopez would be a great first challenge and would be an action fight!

That's all I've got for this week. Email any questions or comments to dkassel@fighthype.com and I will answer them throughout the week. Your email may be featured in the next "Observe and Fight." Follow me on Twitter @BoxingObserver, and be sure to "Like" The Boxing Observer on Facebook.



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