Thursday, March 31, 2011

SNB Nuggets (Hopkins-Pascal, Donaire, Katsidis-Guerrero)

In a perfect world, the fight between Michael Katsidis and Robert Guerrero would headline an HBO Boxing After Dark show, making it free for the network's subscribers.  The fight is really that good.  Instead, the match is relegated to the undercard of a less-than-stellar pay-per-view featuring Marcos Maidana and the ghost of Erik Morales. 

The matchup is perfect.  Guerrero, the boxer-puncher, faces the ultimate brawler.  Guerrero can look good against this type of opponent.  The key questions are whether Guerrero has the mental toughness to survive 12 grueling rounds and whether he has enough power and precision to keep Katsidis at bay.  

This is a difficult fight to handicap.  If forced, I would pick Katsidis by a close decision in an all-out war.  I expect one if not both fighters to hit the deck.   This fight could be career-defining for both participants.  
Top Rank prevailed in the preliminary legal round against Golden Boy in retaining the services of Nonito Donaire.  There are reports that Donaire intends to file a lawsuit against Top Rank for breach of contract, but that lawsuit has yet to materialize.  

This feud might materialize into a drawn out legal battle between two super lawyers.  Top Rank employs ace lawyer Daniel Petrocelli (he won the wrongful death civil lawsuit against O.J. Simpson) while Golden Boy retains entertainment and boxing legal guru Judd Burstein (he probably is the most succesful, active boxing lawyer in the United States).

Donaire may have legitimate gripes about how he was handled under the Top Rank banner.  However, are these grievances worth a prolonged absence in the ring? He is now in his earning prime in boxing.  Sitting on the sidelines may not be the best strategy in maximizing income. 

As I mentioned in this previous post, this legal battle harms Donaire's momentum in becoming an attraction in boxing.  While he was still aligned with Top Rank, Donaire was already scheduled to return in June.  As of now, there is no timetable for his next fight.  

Donaire is one of the top-five fighters in the sport; he has already attained this lofty stature.  But Donaire wants the money and glory associated with big fights.  Going against Daniel Petrocelli does not achieve these ends or hasten their eventualities.  
I was amused by the fracas in Montreal this week, with Jean Pascal shoving Bernard Hopkins and accusing him of doping.  Normally, Hopkins would be the one initiating confrontations and trying to play mind games with his opponents.  

A strong piece of advice for Pascal: Bernard Hopkins is not the guy with whom you wage psychological warfare.  Hopkins thrives off of slights -- either real or perceived -- as motivational tools.  These accusations of drug use on top of the questionable decision from the first fight will ensure that Hopkins has all the motivation he needs to be in supreme condition for Pascal. 

Hopkins has seemingly rejuvenated his career so often that perhaps a new word is needed.  "Rejuvenated" doesn't even do him justice.  Hopkins was left for dead as an elite fighter after his second loss to Jermain Taylor in 2005!  Now, at the age of 46, he factors into one of boxing's most anticipated fights of the year.  May 21 can't come fast enough. 

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