Who Says Boxing Is Dead???

By Francis Walker
Updated: March 26, 2008

GlovesNEW YORK— For those that believe that boxing is dead — think again. While the welterweight division is perhaps the hottest weight class in boxing, there are a lot of intriguing fights on the horizon and will provide lots of action – both inside and outside of the boxing ring.

The best fighter in the world, WBC welterweight champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather is set to make $20 million for a WWE WrestleMania XXIV appearance for a scheduled match with the “Big Show” Paul Wright on Sunday on Pay-Per-View.

Mayweather, coming off a thrilling ten-round TKO of previously unbeaten Ricky Hatton in December, is set to make even more money by pursuing a lucrative rematch with Oscar De La Hoya in September.

De La Hoya (38-5, 30 KOs), who hasn’t fought since losing a 12-round split-decision to Mayweather in May 2007, returns home on May 3, at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA to face former IBF 130-pound champion Steve Forbes (33-5, 9 KOs).

“De La Hoya vs. Forbes: Homecoming,” will be televised live on HBO at 10 p.m. ET. It will be the Golden Boy’s first fight in his native California in nearly eight years and his first live fight on HBO premium cable in more than since March 2001 when he KO’d Arturo Gatti in five rounds.

This fight is important to De La Hoya’s career because at age 35, the world will see exactly how much the Golden Boy Promotions czar has left in the tank.

“I can’t even put into words how excited I am to fight at home in Los Angeles and to be able to have the fight in The Home Depot Center’s soccer stadium is just unbelievable,” De La Hoya said.

“This is a dream come true and I am dedicating the whole weekend to all of my fans, those who will be there and those who get to see the bout on HBO rather than pay-per-view, as they are the ones who have supported and embraced me throughout the many years of my career. I promise to give them plenty to cheer about that night.”

De La Hoya also announced recently that he’s going retire after two or three more fights. In addition, he has rehired the services of Floyd Mayweather, Sr. The older Mayweather did not want any part of preparing De La Hoya for his first bout against his son Mayweather, Jr., trained by uncle Roger. That, plus De La Hoya released Mayweather, Sr. after they couldn’t agree on an appropriate training fee for the fight.

“It’s great to have Mayweather Sr. back in my corner,” said De La Hoya. “After this fight, Roger Mayweather will have to go back to the drawing board if he thinks Floyd Jr. can beat me again.”

Mosley vs. Judah: A High Stakes Fight In Vegas

On May 31, at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, NV, De La Hoya will switch hats from boxer to promoter again when business partner Sugar Shane Mosley (44-5, 37 KOs) battles Zab Judah (36-5, 25 KOs, 1 NC) in a 12-round battle of former two-division champions.

Mosley vs. Judah will be televised live on HBO Pay-Per-View. “This is one of the fights that will jump start me to the next level and the next fight and the next…” Mosley said during a recent press tour to promote the bout. “I believe I’m the best welterweight out there. Zab will fall prey to me…”

Both Mosley and Judah lost to Miguel Cotto in 2007. Judah was TKO’d in the eleventh round, while Mosley lost a very close decision. Both fighters proved that they still have a lot left in the tank.

However, Judah is faster and has the better foot speed. Meanwhile, although Shane appears to be more flatfooted in recent fights, he can still be as explosive and it will be an action fight.

“This fight means a lot to me and I’m preparing myself well for this, so don’t miss it… trust me!” Judah emphatically stated. “From the East to the West, I’m the King of this. Everything I do is do or die for me. From start to finish, it’s going to be cracking on May 31.”

Cotto shares HBO billing alongside Margarto-Cintron II

On April 12, from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, four welterweights will risk everything. Miguel Cotto (31-0, 25 KOs) makes his fourth defense of the WBA welterweight championship against Alfonso Gomez (18-3-2, 8 KOs) in the evening’s main event, while IBF welterweight champion Kermit Cintron (29-1, 27 KOs) looks to avenge his only professional loss, a fifth round TKO defeat to former WBO welterweight champion Antonio Margarito (35-5, 25 KOs) in a rematch from 2005.

HBO will televise the welterweight championship doubleheader beginning at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT). “These are two very exciting world title fights,” said Bob Arum of Top Rank. “Cotto is a powerful champion but he goes against a brave, fearless Alfonso Gomez who defeated and retired the great Arturo Gatti in this very same arena.”

At 27, Cotto is already a two-division world champion. Cotto has defeated current and former world champions Judah, Mosley, DeMarcus Corley, Randall Bailey, Lovermore N’dou, Carlos Maussa, Paulie Malignaggi, Carlos Quintana, and Ricardo Torres.

Should Cotto continue to remain unbeaten, he could face either the Margarito-Cintron II winner or Ricardo Mayorga in July. “Cintron and Margarito will fight for the second time,” Arum added. “Margarito won the first time in a real intense battle several years ago.

“Now, Cintron is a world champion and a title is on the line in this tremendous match-up.” Cintron was beaten to a pulp by Margarito the first time, but vows that the second tie will be different.

In a perfect world, the biggest welterweight fight would involve an undefeated Cotto against either Mayweather or De La Hoya.

Dawson, Tarver appear in light-heavyweight doubleheader

Perhaps undefeated WBC light-heavyweight champion Chad Dawson and Antonio Tarver may never fight one another. At least, however, Showtime will give everyone an opportunity to fantasize over the possibility of the two meeting one day.

Dawson and Tarver will once again share a nationally-televised Showtime boxing card on April 12, at the St, Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

Dawson (25-0, 17 KOs), making the third defense of his 175-pound title, will fight the toughest opponent of his career against the man that knocked out the great Roy Jones, Jr. in September 2004, former IBF light-heavyweight champion Glen Johnson (47-11-2, 32 KOs).

The 6-foot-3, 25 year-old southpaw from Connecticut will have his hands full against Johnson, 39 of Jamaica. Johnson brings a wealth of experience as he has also fought Tarver (twice), Woods (three times), Bernard Hopkins, Julio Cesar Gonzalez, Sven Ottke, and Montell Griffin.

Tarver (26-4, 19 KOs) will challenge Clinton Woods (41-3, 24 KOs) for Woods’ IBF title.

U.S. Olympian David Estrada stepping up

The heavyweight division isn’t as strong as it should be despite the fact that Wladimir Klitschko is the unified IBF/WBO heavyweight champion. Nonetheless, 2004 U.S. Olympian, Jason Estrada is out to prove that he is an exciting heavyweight worth watching.

Estrada (11-1, 2 KOs), after compiling a successful 261-14 amateur record including a gold medal in the 2003 Pan-American Games, will step up his level of opposition as a professional when he battles Lance Mount Whitaker (32-4-1, 27 KOs) in a 10-round bout on April 4, at the Twin River Events Center in Rhode Island.

The bout will be the featured main event of an ESPN 2 Friday Night Fights telecast. Initially, unbeaten heavyweight contender Joe Mesi of Buffalo, N.Y. was supposed to be I the main event, but he pulled out because of a shoulder injury.

“Fighting on ESPN2 in the main event is one more step I need to take,” Estrada said in a recent statement. “I’m happy — not the way it happened with Joe getting injured — but now this is my moment. I’ve been waiting for this chance. I was going to be on TV in the co-feature, anyway, but now I’ll be the guy in the main event.”

Estrada, a 27 year-old from Providence, RI, will have a tough battle ahead with a 6-foot-8 in Whitaker. He is an experienced fighter who has fought the likes of former WBC heavyweight champion Oleg Maskev, former WBO champion Sultan Ibragimov, WBC, WBA, WBO, and IBF title challenger Jameel McCline, and former IBF cruiserweight champion Al “Ice” Cole.

“I have the kind of hand speed Whitaker’s never seen before,” Estrada added. “He’s been around a long time and has a lot of experience, but Whitaker’s also 35 and I don’t think he’s gotten better with age like some boxers.”

“He’s too big and his arms are too long. I’ll be putting pressure on him from the start. I’ll be going forward and he’ll be going backwards. I’m going to keep beating him to the punch.”

For Estrada, this presents a wonderful opportunity to showcase his skills and abilities in front of a national TV audience while fighting in his home state. It’s regional TV exposure that fighters, especially young heavyweights, need in order to catapult themselves into even bigger fights on HBO and Showtime TV.

“It doesn’t get any bigger than this,” Estrada’s father and advisor/head trainer Dr. Roland Estrada commented. “What better way for Jason to prove himself than on ESPN2 in the main event.”

“It will give him an opportunity to impress fans all over. He’s fighting a 6-foot-8 guy who has fought just about everybody and only has four losses in 37 pro fights.”

“It’s going to be a nice time to shine and separate Jason fro the pack, into a fight against a top 20 opponent and on the way to becoming world champion. People are going to be surprised at how strong Jason is. He’s been working very hard.”

The McGirt tandem invades ShoBox

James McGirt, Jr., the son of his famed trainer and former two-time world champion James “Buddy” McGirt, will be working together once again. The younger McGirt (18-0, 9 KOs) will challenge Carlos “Baby Sugar” DeLeon, Jr. (19-2-2, 12 KOs) the son of Carlos DeLeon, Sr. on April 11 in a 10-round super middleweight bout on Showtime’s “ShoBox: The New Generation series.”

“Fighting on ShoBox means everything to me,” McGirt, Jr. said recently. “It’s a stepping stone for my career and I’m very excited. I fought on ShoBox one other time, when I defeated Aaron Pryor’s son, Stephan.”

“Every fight is a new chapter in my career, each one the biggest of my life. I know DeLeon is going to bring his ‘A’ game. I’ve got to be better than him, smarter than him in the ring. I know my father will be telling me to keep my right hand up.”

The fathers of McGirt and DeLeon were world champions at the same time in 1988. McGirt, Sr. and DeLeon, Sr. were both world champions simultaneously in 1998.

McGirt (73-6-1, 48 KOs) was a two-division world champion, while DeLeon (52-8-1, 32 KOs) won the WBC cruiserweight championship four times during 1980-1989.