Once more with feeling

By Francis Walker, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: February 2, 2010

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NEW YORK (BASN) — It has been almost 17 years after Roy Jones, Jr. defeated Bernard Hopkins for the vacant IBF middleweight championship.

A lot has happened in the lives of both fighters since then.

Both men did a great job of becoming future Hall of Fame candidates. Although Jones and Hopkins are in their 40s, both men are eager to prove that they’re still at the top of the light-heavyweight class.

Jones (54-6, 40 KOs) and Hopkins (50-5-1, 32 KOs) have agreed to meet one another on a HBO Pay-Per-View broadcast, April 3, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Jones-Hopkins should serve as a reminder of how great both fighters were in their peak. Jones, a former four-division world champion, became the first former middleweight champion in more than 100 years since Bob Fitzsimmons to win a heavyweight championship by outpointing John Ruiz for the WBA title in March 2003.

Jones, who spent most of his career as a light-heavyweight, cleaned out the division and unified the WBC/WBA and IBF 175-pound championships. However, in recent years, Jones has struggled.

In fact, Jones’ career went on a downward spiral since he vacated the WBA heavyweight title for a move back down to 175. In 2004, Jones went winless after having been knocked out by Antonio Tarver (KO 2) and Glen Johnson (KO 7).

In his last 10 bouts, is 5-5, with 1 KO. His previous two losses consisted of a 12-round drumming by Joe Calzaghe in 2008 and a first-round KO by hard-punching Australian cruiserweight Danny Green in his hometown last December.

Jones, who spent years fighting against the ropes in defensive front to make his opponents miss using speed and reflexes, was caught by a solid right hand behind the temple.

The loss was so devastating for Jones, it almost cost him his long-awaited rematch with Hopkins. The fight was saved on the notion that the two had already agreed to the bout prior to Jones fighting Green.

Plus, Hopkins believes that the fight was stopped too soon and that Jones should have been given a chance to compete while he was hurt.

Hopkins: a proven winner

In the last decade, Hopkins has proven to be one of the biggest names in the sport. Hopkins, a former middleweight and light-heavyweight champion, became a household name when he KO’d Felix Trinidad in September 2001.

Hopkins became the first boxer since Marvelous Marvin Hagler to unify the WBC/WBA and IBF middleweight titles. Hopkins added the WBO middleweight trophy after stopping Oscar De La Hoya in 2004.

Overall, Hopkins made 20 consecutive defenses of the World Middleweight Championship. Hopkins also defeated Tarver, Winky Wright, and current unified WBC/WBO middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik in style.

David Haye to meet John Ruiz in April.

Former unified WBA/WBC/WBO cruiserweight champion and current WBA heavyweight champion, David Haye (23-1, 21 KOs) is set to make his first defense.

Haye, fighting in his comfort zone in Manchester, England, defends the WBA heavyweight championship against No.1-ranked John Ruiz (44-8-1, 30 KOs) on Saturday, April 3.

Haye captured the WBA title in December after winning a 12-round unanimous decision over 7-foot-3, 325-pound Nikolai Valuev. Haye, moving in and out, boxed well behind the left jab and perfectly timed Valuev’s massive, but slow right hand from afar.

Haye even had Valuev hurt in the later rounds, but settled for a 12-round decision.

He will have his hands full when he fights Ruiz because, the former two-time WBA heavyweight titlist constantly comes straight-forward and attacks. Ruiz has a wealth of championship experience.

Ruiz has fought Valuev twice (24 rounds), battled Evander Holyfield three times (36 rounds), Roy Jones Jr. (L 12), Hasim Rahman (W 12), James Toney (NC 12), Andrew Golota (W 12), and Jameel McCline (W 12).

Ruiz has only been stopped once – a 15-second knockout defeat at the hands of David Tua nearly 14 years ago.

Margules sets-up Urango-Alexander unification clash

Seminole Warriors Boxing kingpin Leon Margules has struck a deal with the famous promoter Don King to stage a junior welterweight championship unification bout on HBO.

The King-promoted, WBC 140-pound champion, Devon Alexander (19-0, 12 KOs) and Margules’ valuable IBF champion, Juan Urango (22-2-1, 17 KOs) will put their belts on the line. Saturday, March 6, is the date.

The Mohegan Sun Hotel & Casino is the venue.

Alexander claimed the WBC title by pummeling former world titlist Junior Witter. Alexander has yet to make a defense of the title since wining it decisively last August.

Urango, in his previous bout last August, raised fresh from the canvas to knockout Randall Bailey in the eleventh round of an exciting contest.

Alexander is not recognized for having punching power, but he is a very fast and highly skilled boxer. Alexander is a diamond, but inactivity and lack of marquee exposure has hampered his career.

Urango, a stark contrast, does have punching power and had high profile fights on HBO and ESPN. Urango’s two losses were in high-profile fights. Urango lost a close 12-round decision to Ricky Hatton over three years ago.

In May 2009, Urango moved up in weight in a failed bid to capture the WBC welterweight championship from Andre Berto (L 12). Both bouts were aired on HBO.

Pac-Man vs. Clottey lands on HBO PPV

Manny Pacquiao, according to many boxing scribes and insiders, is the best fighter in the world, pound-for-pound. Although many are salivating over the fantasy of a Pacquiao-Money Mayweather showdown, the world will have to settle for a less attractive, but still entertaining fight between the Filipino star and Joshua Clottey.

Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 KOs) vs. Clottey (35-3, 20 KOs) will be broadcast on HBO Pay-Per-View, Saturday, March 13, from Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas. The 100,000-seat, state of the art complex will be scaled down to 40,000 with the possibility of expanding to 70,000.

In the first three hours after tickets went on sale, 20,000 seats were sold.

And rightfully so!

The Pac-Man is boxing’s newest phenomenon. Pacquiao fights as if he is this whirl-wind storm that simply obviating the opposition from round one. Pacquiao is the most exciting fighter since the late Arturo Gatti.

Anyone that has watched Gatti understands the passion and electricity that he generated in the ring. Fighting in Atlantic City, NJ through the years, Gatti brought boxing to new heights.

Gatti, through HBO and their successful “Boxing After Dark,” programming proved to be a spring board for guys as small as Pacquiao to secure big purses on premium TV and pay-tv.

Pacquiao, who fights with fierce aggression and conviction, has used his popularity and celebrity in his native Philippines to garner world-wide recognition as a great little man by defeating bigger great men.

Wladimir Klitschko vs. Eddie Chambers in Germany

Unified IBF/WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko only fought once in 2009. Having recovered from shoulder surgery last year, Klitschko (53-3, 47 KOs) returns to the ring on Saturday, March 20.

His opponent will be WBO No. 1-ranked challenger “Fast” Eddie Chambers (35-1, 18 KOs). Klitschko-Chambers will occur in an outdoor soccer stadium in Germany.

At 6-feet-7 and 245 pounds, Klitschko is one of the hardest and efficient punchers in the sport. Although he has three knockout defeats himself, the former 1996 Olympic gold medal winner and two-time heavyweight champion, has been the class of the heavyweight division during the past four years.

Since knocking out Chris Byrd in a rematch to claim the IBF title in April 2006, Klitschko has remained unbeaten, unified heavyweight belts, and continues to turn away challengers: Calvin Brock, Ray Austin, Sultan Ibragimov, Hasim Rahman, Tony Thompson are just a few in Klitschko’s victory column.

In his previous outing in June 2009, Klitschko fought in front of more than 60,000 people at Veltins Arena in Germany. Energized by the magnificence of the event, Klitschko displayed a wicked display of jabs, hooks, and crosses during a ninth-round TKO of former WBA champion Ruslan Chagaev.

Chambers, a former Klitschko sparring partner, is coming off a pair of big wins. Chambers bested former WBC heavyweight champion Samuel Peter before traveling to Germany and shocking 6-foot-7 Alexander Dimentrenko through 12 rounds to become a mandatory challenger.

Chambers has fast hands and can be difficult to hit. But there are times when he pauses instead of keeping his hands busy. Chambers’ failure to keep his hands busy against Alexander Povetkin through 12 rounds is what earned him his first loss.

Klitschko is fast himself for a towering heavyweight and has a powerful left jab. Klitschko can hook off the jab and use his distance to control his opponent’s pace. It will be interesting for as long as it lasts, but Chambers will experience lots of difficulty getting past Klitschko’s jab.

Tomas Adamek vs. Jason Estrada on Saturday

Speaking of heavyweights, former light-heavyweight and cruiserweight champion, Tomas Adamek could very well be next legitimate threat in the heavyweight division. Adamek impressed a lot of people during his heavyweight debut last October when he pummeled Andrew Golota.

Adamek (39-1, 27 KOs) looks to continue his making his mark as a heavyweight on Saturday night, when he challenges Jason Estrada (16-2, 4 KOs) at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Should Adamek win, there will curiosity as to how Adamek would do against one of the heavyweight champions: The Klitschkos or Haye.

Green replaces Taylor in SHOWTIME Classic

Hard-punching super middleweight contender Allan Green has been announced as the official replacement for Jermain Taylor in the Super Six: World Boxing Classic tournament.

Taylor pulled out of the fight after suffering his second consecutive/concussive knockout in the final round when he was stopped by Arthur Abraham in the opening round of the tournament in October.

In April 2009, Taylor also suffered a knockout at 2:54 seconds of the twelfth and final round at the hands of Carl Froch during an unsuccessful bid to claim the WBC super middleweight championship.

Green was initially going to fight Sakio Bika on February 5, to determine a replacement for Taylor. But the turnaround time for Bika, who hasn’t fought since July 2009, to prepare for Green in two weeks in what would have been a brutal fight because of their styles.

Plus immediately return to training camp for an April 17, world title shot against WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward in Ward’s hometown of Oakland is a tall order.

Green has more than two months to prepare for his first world title fight. His most significant wins was a first-round KO of Jaidon Coodrington and a unanimous decision against Tavaris Simms.

Green has established himself as a top contender in the 168-pound class and always has a puncher’s chance to won big. Green has won six consecutive bouts since his most significant loss, a 10-round decision against Edison Miranda three years ago.

Green will have his hands full trying to contain a slick-boxing counterpuncher, in Ward. The bout will be Ward’s first title defense since claiming the WBA 168-pound title from Mikkel Kessler, via technical decision after 11 rounds.

Ward’s dominance of Kessler elevated him toward becoming one of the favorites to win the Super Six World Boxing Classic.

Valero-DeMarco on SHOWTIME

WBA lightweight champion, Edwin Valero has won each and every bout by knockout. While Valero isn’t licensed to fight here in the U.S., fight fans will have an opportunity to see Valero in action on Saturday night.

Valero (26-0, 26 KOs), making the second defense of the WBA title, battles mandatory challenger Antonio DeMarco (23-1-1, 17 KOs). SHOWTIME will televise the event live from Monterrey, Mexico, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.