February 2006: The Month In Review

By Michael Youssef


February 2006: The Month In Review

Of course February 2006 will be remembered for ‘The Showdown’ between long time fan favorites and California natives Fernando Vargas, of Oxnard, and Shane Mosley of Pomona.  In a fight that was a good but not a great scrap, two fighters who are not quite what they used to be, put on a competitive show that silenced those critics who were anticipating a disaster.  What transpired, an entertaining battle between a slower, bigger man and a faster, smaller man, probably owes it’s origin to the reality that they were still evenly matched even years after their respective past-due dates.

Though the fight was entertaining, neither fighter is a legitimate threat to regain the position as the real ‘man’ or true world champion in either of their respective divisions (welterweight for Mosley and junior middleweight and perhaps middleweight for Vargas), which is why it’s hard to see the bout having any real impact on the division each fighter currently resides in.  However, Mosley has set himself up for another big payday against an opponent with a recognizable name, while Vargas might want to think long and hard about retirement.  It’s not that Vargas is completely shot, he’s far from it, but the truth of the matter is, he’s a proud warrior, who is obviously not going to be ruling the junior middleweight division any more, so perhaps he should ask himself what he’s still fighting for. Fans know the first reply he’d offer is “pride”. 

But before moving on, if there is somehow a call for a Vargas-Mosley rematch, I’d like to see Jin Mosley and Fernando’s soon-to-be-wife Martha on the undercard, in what would promise to be an entertaining scrap. It should come as no surprise that Laila Ali has already stated she has no interest in fighting the winner.

Earlier in February Antonio Margarito, one of the three, and maybe even two best welterweights in the world, blew out the once-tough but completely faded Manuel Gomez, who if you haven’t heard of him, that’s tough luck, because I’m not going to take the time to explain, which says something about the type of mismatch that fight was.  While on the subject, it should be pointed out that Margarito’s promoter is Bob Arum, who would peddle sunglasses to a blind man for a buck or two, and he promoted Margarito’s seventy-four second blowout win as a can’t-miss type of war.  Here’s hoping that fans get the chance to see the all-action Margarito in a truly competitive match soon.  Perhaps Margarito should take a vaccination shot, in the hope that fighters don’t avoid him like the plague any longer.

Peter Manfredo Jr. made his first post-Contender appearance against a legitimate fighter this month, and he did well, considering his opponent too is probably at the end of the line.  Now a super middleweight, Manfredo put “Sandman” Scott Pemberton to sleep in only three rounds, fighting up two weight divisions from his previous weight of 154, while looking much more refined under the tutelage of boxing’s hottest trainer this year, Freddie Roach.

On the undercard of “The Showdown” fans saw rising heavyweight Calvin Brock and gatekeeper Zuri Lawrence fought an awkward fight, which was competitive until Brock did his very own Samuel Peter- Jeremy Williams impression, which resulted in what has got to be the knockout of the year so far. Brock played the roll of Peter for those of you who missed the fight. Lawrence was completely unconscious before his head hit the canvas.

In addition, boxing’s old school road warrior, Glen ‘Will Somebody Step Up and Fight Me’ Johnson pounded out a hard fought twelve-round decision over Richard Hall, thus positioning himself as the mandatory contender for the IBF light heavyweight title held by former victim Clinton Woods.  Johnson, 2004’s fighter of the year, is desperately seeking a dance partner whose willing to be the other half of a major event aired on a cable network or pay-per-view show before the year is out. A third fight with Woods (the first was a draw, Johnson won the second) hopefully gets aired in the United States.

Finally there was pound for pound body-snatcher Jose Luis Castillo, who made an appearance earlier in the month against Rolando Reyes. Late substitute Reyes blew any chance of being considered a contender for the foreseeable future with his virtual non-effort, as he was simply content to survive the distance with the frustrated Castillo.  As a result of Castillo taking care of business (cough, cough, Mr. Judah), the final showdown with lightweight champion Diego Corrales is all set to go for June.

All in all, February wasn’t a bad month, in spite of having only one legitimate super fight, there were some important boxers making appearances all throughout the month.  Based on the lack of press, it’s ironic that the Glen Johnson and Jose Luis Castillo fights, both had more implications on the sport’s belts than Vargas or Mosley may ever have in each of their remaining futures.  The way I prefer to look at February is as a type of appetizer to what is shaping up to be a great entrée in March followed by a great month of April (Byrd-Klitschko), with May (de la Hoya-Mayorga) and June (Corrales-Castillo III) also promising some super fights. 

March will kick off in style with Lacy and Calzaghe engaging in one of the most anticipated super middleweight fights in the division’s history, and certainly in the last decade.  Then Hasim Rahman will show once and for all if he’s truly a one-hit wonder or a legitimate two-time world champion when he takes on everybody’s favorite “Buddha who will kick yo’ ass” James Toney on the 18th of the month.  All in all, 2006 has still been a good year, and the sport has continued to weed out multiple title holders within divisions, as well as fighters on the outs, while helping to usher in some new blood (dedicated to Simon Youssef)     .


Send questions and comments to: michaeltyoussef@msn.com