Dis, Dat and other rings

By Michael Katz


Dis, Dat and other rings

Notes to it all….Maybe I'll phone in for today's telephone conference call with Jermain Taylor and Cory Spinks. Probably not. I didn't call in a couple of days ago when Joe Calzaghe and whoever it is he's fighting April 7 were on the line. It's bad enough I have to watch it as part of my job; I don't have to listen to it. I didn't call again when Oscar de la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. were laying it on thick. Biggest fight in history? That's as absurd as Mayweather's claim to be better than Sugar Ray Robinson. Hell, he's not better than Sugar Ray Leonard; okay, he's better than Sugar Ray Seales, but I would bet Thomas Hearns against him all night long at 147.

I'd also bet Hearns with my money against de la Hoya...Did you see where the WBCrooks plan to have a title fight in a Thai prison? My goodness, boxing is fall of straight lines….Yes, I know it's Peter Manfredo, I just didn't want to admit that I knew it….Guess there can't be "open" scoring in a prison….Laurence Cole will probably be the ref….Jose Sulaiman….nah, never mind. Too easy….It's getting so pretty soon we'll be able to have NFL games behind bars….So young Mayweather notes that Sugar Shane Mosley is serving as de la Hoya's sparring partner and says sparring partner is exactly what Mosley should be. Shows he is his father's son, you know, his father the poet.

Oh, I did want to ask one question on the Taylor-Spinks (sounds like a Sporting News publisher, doesn't it?) call, about the size of the ring. If I know Lou DaBully, and unfortunately I do, since he has the home-court edge with Taylor the champion and Memphis the site, he'll probably try and stick the fight in an 18-foot mud hole to prevent Spinks from moving away from the bigger man. Nevada has a rule that says all fights have to take place in 20-foot rings - not like the 18-footer Bob Arum secured in New York for Miguel Cotto against Paulie Malignaggi….Oscar, another promoter who is going to do things differently, of course would never attempt anything like that. Only because the fight is in Nevada, he wouldn't. Remember, shortly after announcing he was returning to welterweight, but as soon as this fight became made, de la Hoya demanded that the smaller Mayweather fight at 154 pounds and also bullied his choice of gloves, trunks and ice cream….Oops, overslept. Missed conference call. Too busy dreaming I was back in Paris and it was 40 years ago.

I was very wrong about Mikkel Kessler. Thought he was robotic, but he showed terrific balance and foot movement in shutting out tough but limited Librado Andrade….Calzaghe has no choice but to fight Kessler next or look like a Welsh wimp. And Kessler has no other option but to face Calzaghe, or look like a cheese Danish….By the way, there's absolutely nothing wrong with Jermain Taylor facing little ol' Cory Spinks. Junior middleweights traditionally try out middleweight champions. So did welterweights. Emile Griffith weighed only 150 pounds when he moved up to take the 160-pound title from Dick Tiger, who later went up to win the light-heavyweight championship.

No, I have no plans of watching Dandy Dan Rafael's "love child," Joel Julio, on ESPN2 Friday night….However, Jhonny Gonzalez, moving back to bantamweight to defend his WBOgus title against Irene Pacheco, on Telefutura is another story….I've got plenty of time to decide whether Mikkel Kessler is worthy of inclusion on my pound-for-pound list. I take it he punches well, despite his inability to drop Andrade, but I believe his speed was magnified by the challenger's lack of same.

OUTHOUSE: If Elvir Muriqi is the best ABC could come up with after almost seven years without televising a fight, the hell with the return of the network that gave us so many great afternoons of boxing despite Howard Cosell. Muriqi, who faces former light-heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver on April 22, is a made-for-TV story, the "Kosovo Kid" whose family insisted he skip the war against the Serbs and instead bring recognition to the plight of all ethnic Albanians in the province. Too bad he can't fight, even a little, and don't let that 34-3 record with 21 knockouts fool you. The kid was well connected. At the beginning, he had Teddy Atlas training him for $1,000 a week. Atlas, who would deride many ESPN2 bouts as mismatches, actually put Muriqi in again with a guy he had knocked out in the first round. The KK scored another first-round knockout. Now he's in with Tarver, who may be 38, who may be rusty for not fighting since getting soundly thumped by Bernard Hopkins almost a year ago, and whose skills may have slipped. But this "fight" is still a travesty and it could be seven years again before ABC gets another itch to do boxing.

I had to get that off my chest quickly….Back to notes: Here's a hearty recommendation. Save your money on Saturday's ridiculous $25 pay-per-view offering of Virgil Hill-Henry Maske II. That's a lot of money to watch two 43-year-old boxers in a main event atop an undercard you couldn't pronounce or spell, all names being extremely unknown. According to my calculations, this rematch of a split decision is taking place 10 years 4 months 8 days after the original bout. Maske retired after that 1996 fight. Hill hasn't been much busier in the ring, having fought only 11 times (a bit more than once a year, whether he wanted to or not)  since becoming the first man to beat the German star. The 1984 Olympic silver medallist has been idle since Jan. 27, 2006. Maske, a 1988 Olympic GOLD medallist, has never fought outside Germany so it's no surprise that the old guys will be back in the Olympiahalle in Munich, site of their first encounter. Maske has seniority - he was born Jan. 6, 1964, 12 days before Hill was. The combined age is 86, and that's what I'm going to do to this matchup - 86 it (for you youngsters, "86" means shut off, as when the bartender suspects you've had too many already).

PENTHOUSE: Mikkel Kessler, of course, but the few glimpses HBO gave us of Copenhagen. What a town. My bride and I got only a dozen hours or so there while changing trains on a trip back to Paris from Stockholm, but it's atop my list of places where I want to return (just behind Bora Bora and Moorea, which are 1 and 1A). Speaking of lists, after careful thought and deliberation, and because I think Joe Calzaghe, whom I rank No. 6, would have his fists full with the good Dane - beating Librado Andrade does not make you great - I have decided Kessler deserves a place in my top 25. Provisionally, I'm putting him down for 22.


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