Toney is the guy you see in your worse nightmares, the boogeyman with the Cheshire Cat grin and the Freddie Kruger demeanor. He slips into your dream just about the time you’re ready to ask your sweetheart to marry you, and then he kicks sand in your face, calls you a momma’s boy and steals your girl.
He slaps you across the back of the head and asks you’re going to do about it, and all you can do is wish you had a 34-inch Sammy Sosa autographed baseball bat in your hands and a quick way out of town.
But the chatter and the chastising are part of the Toney arsenal, a big piece of what he brings into the ring with him. Like a devastating hook or a numbing jab, it‘s all part of the total package, part of the fight plan, another way to beat a man down. What you see is what you get. What you hear, you don’t want to listen to.
If you don’t like to be beaten and ridiculed, don’t go near a boxing ring with Toney standing in it.
Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Toney will fight four-time heavyweight champ Evander "Real Deal" Holyfield in a 12-round, non-title heavyweight fight on pay-per-view. It‘s the kind of fight where anything can happen, which means it has a lot in common with most prize fights.
But this one is different, if only because Holyfield has always been at the top of his game, and Toney just recently returned to his.
Four years ago, this fight never would have been made. Toney was still ordering seconds and thirds for dinner and Holyfield was still one of the most dangerous heavyweights in the world.
But now it’s one of the more intriguing fights of the year because somewhere along the way, Toney remembered what it was like years ago when he was at his very best. He remembered what it was like to be one the very best and he decided to get that feeling back.
As for Holyfield, you can’t help but believe that he’s looking at this fight as just being another long night at the office, another big mouth that needs closing, a brash fool making bold promises he can‘t keep.
Holyfield is like the old gunfighter who has to keep proving he’s still one of the fastest guns around. The new top guns keep calling him out and he keeps showing up on main street at noon with the sun at his back, looking for any kind of advantage that will give him an edge.
Unfortunately, the old cowboy has been taking a few bullets recently. Toney knows it and that’s why he wants this fight now, and wouldn’t have taken it four years ago.
In his last seven fights dating back to his first loss to Lennox Lewis in March, 1999, Holyfield is 2-3-2. His wins were over Hasim Rahman and John Ruiz. His losses were to Ruiz, Lewis and Chris Byrd.
You can’t help but believe that at 40, Holyfield wishes he was the same fighter he was at 30.
You know that at 35, Toney is glad he’s not the same fighter he was at 32.
It was a concept much like the 'Night of Young Heavyweights' that HBO televised back in 1996, which introduced us to fighters like David Tua, Andrew Golota and John Ruiz. This time around, HBO really couldn't call it 'young' considering that the youngest fighter on the card, Guinn, was already 28 years old.
But this show was important. The old saying applies: ”As the heavyweight division goes, so goes the game of boxing”. With that being the case, then it is imperative for everyone involved (from promoters to the networks) to try and replenish the heavyweight division. Guys like Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and even Mike Tyson can't last forever, although at times it does seem that way.
At the end of the night, the fans were treated to a pretty damn good show. And guess what? A heavyweight or two that are worth keeping an eye out for.
Joe Mesi KO1 DaVarryl Williamson: 'Baby' Joe came into the bout with a reputation of being, well, babied, throughout the first 26 bouts of his career. With his complexion and ability to draw huge throngs in his hometown of Buffalo while fighting cadavers, he was looked upon by his supporters as a great attraction with huge upside. On the other hand, by his detractors, he was viewed as a closely guarded, highly protected, regional fighter who was destined to be another in a long line of “Great White Hope's”.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. While it's true that Mesi is a great ticket seller, he isn't really being developed any differently than any other young heavyweight prospect. He's fighting 'has-been's' and 'never-were's' like David Izon and Robert Davis, just like anyone else would. The difference being, he was getting a lot more acclaim and notoriety for it.
Williamson, who's nickname is 'Touch of Sleep' because of his powerful right hand was supposed to be Mesi's first real fight. But he was chosen as Mesi's opponent because of his shaky chin- he had been stopped cold in his fourth professional bout by journeyman Willie Chapman and had to come off the canvas to beat Corey Sanders. It was a calculated risk by Mesi's people and it turned out to be the perfect equation.
Williamson would try to control the center of the ring with his jab but as soon as Mesi opened up, he would catch his taller opponent with some good, hard punches. Instead of backing up and protecting his suspect whiskers, Williamson would try and trade with Mesi and it would lead to his quick downfall. A big left hook would catch Williamson on the chin and just like that, he would be on the canvas knocked out cold.
In proving something, Mesi may have proven nothing at all.
Juan Carlos Gomez UD 10 Sinan Samil Sam: It raised a few eyebrows that Gomez was included on this show since he already had quite a pedigree. It was just a few years ago that he was winning the WBC cruiserweight title and making ten successful defenses of that crown. Because of that, Gomez, who goes by the nickname 'Black Panther' was the one fighter on this card who was the most difficult to pair up.
The bottom line is this, if you have a good, strong, big young man, would you want to face a guy that was already a world champion and had a huge amateur career back in Cuba? Didn't think so, but former stablemate, Sinan Samil Sam was willing to take on the slick southpaw.
And over ten rounds, Gomez showed why the others may have been reluctant to face him. Gomez, like most lefties, can be very difficult to find, and the joke among the ringsiders was that Juan Carlos Gomez is the Spanish way of saying 'Chris Byrd', which isn't completely fair or accurate. Gomez actually throws a lot more punches - although I'd be inclined to say that Juan Carlos Gomez is another way of saying 'Rod Carew', since he seems to be a slap hitter - and he's not as defensively sound as the Flint, Michigan native.
Gomez will probably never be a great puncher as a heavyweight, but you do get the sense that Angelo Dundee, who's working with him in Miami, will try to get him to turn over his punches a bit more and sit down more on his shots.
The key for Gomez's future success will depend on just who will have enough guts to face his somewhat awkward style. Just look at Chris Byrd, that guy still can't get a fight after winning a heavyweight belt.
Dominick Guinn UD 10 Duncan Dokiwari: I saved the best for last as it was clear that both Guinn and Dokiwari are legitimate top 20 heavyweights right now as we speak.
Guinn would show a sturdy chin, powerful left hook and veteran poise to down the well built Dokiwari, who landed several clean, hard punches to Guinn throughout the night. It was a very close fight that Guinn took over in the second half with his quick left hook that buzzed Dokiwari a few times, along with his ring generalship. But you can't overlook the effort of Dokiwari on this night. Even in defeat, he may have been the second best heavyweight on this card. Fighting with a bad cut over his left eye, he fought on valiantly and gamely against a highly skilled opponent.
The best thing about Guinn, a native of Hot Springs, Arkansas, is that he's a throwback to an age of heavyweight boxing where heavyweights looked like boxers, not power forwards. Guinn, by todays standards, is a rather small 6'2, 220 pounds. But as Guinn proved against the much bigger Nigerian, boxing is a game of skill, not size. Guinn isn't like your recent brand of American heavyweights that only began boxing after finding out they couldn't hit curveballs, didn't have enough post moves or couldn't tackle well enough to play football professionally.
Guinn is a boxer first, second and third. He didn't one day just walk into the gym after his college eligibility had run out. He has been boxing from a very young age and has put together a highly decorated amateur career. And it shows. Guinn is a lot like a young Evander Holyfield. Yes, he may be at a size deficit many times throughout his career, but the bottom line is while big guys may look like statues, the problem is they also fight and move like them. Guinn can flat out box and fight when he has too.
He may not be your first choice in a pick-up basketball game, but he should be your first choice when looking at the game’s best new big man.
Once again on the HBO broadcast, Jim Lampley and Emanuel Steward tossed around the idea of creating a new 'super heavyweight' weight classification. Great, just what this sport needs more of, new weight divisions.
The thinking being that some of these hulking new big guys are simply at too much of an advantage over smaller heavyweights like Guinn - who was coming off a thrashing of Michael Grant, thought to be at one time one of these 'new millennium' heavyweights - and anyone else not 6'5 and at least 245-pounds.
Well, there's one problem with that, outside of Lennox Lewis, who of that ilk can really be considered a really good heavyweight? In fact, to go further, outside of Lewis and the Klitschko brothers, could you even formulate a top ten of guys in that new weight class? Seriously, by the time you get to eight, nine and ten, you'd be listing Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan and Karl Malone.
The reality is that in this sport, size does not equal skill and there simply aren't enough guys of that size who are good enough to even pose a real threat.
The main event featured 29-year old Mesi taking on 35-year old (or is that 35-year young?) DaVarryl Williamson in a fight that was a lot shorter than most of my trips to the bathroom. We were being sold this bout as yet another step up in class for Mesi, but a quick look a the resume of Mr. Williamson (and when you are that old, they do call you “Mister”) suggests this was anything but. It was a particularly interesting side note that just after his first round destruction of glass-jawed Robert Davis, the Mesi team had been dismissing the prospect of a Williamson fight as useless. The claim was that blowing out “A Touch of Sleep”, as Williamson calls himself, would prove nothing. They were right. And we bought it anyway.
DaVarryl had a typical record of 18-1-0 heading into this bout with 16 wins by knockout.
Impressive record of knockouts, sure, but Chris Byrd aside, heavyweights are “supposed” to hit hard and knock people out. Just ask DaVarryl after the fight. Williamson earned his shot at Mesi by beating the likes of, oh . . . well he never really beat anyone worth mentioning unless T-Rex Sanders is a “somebody” in your books. He did however manage to find himself a fourth round TKO victim to up-and-coming 9-8-1 (at the time) Willie Chapman (note of sarcasm intended). So there was no surprise when DaVarryl found himself with more than just “A Touch of Sleep” as he floated momentarily with the angels before being brought back to earth with a thudding headache courtesy of heavy-handed “Baby” Joe.
The next “youngster” we were treated to seeing on the card as he makes his way up to the crown was 30-year old Cuban defect Juan Carlos Gomez. Gomez is a former Cruiserweight Champion and was making his third appearance as a heavyweight. Throughout his professional career, JC Gomez has fought a list of opponents that reads like a who’s who of “European relatively unknowns”, followed by a parade of “never-were-knowns”. In his first big showcase fight on US soil, Gomez fought (you guessed it) an unknown, unproven European heavyweight who likely will never been seen in the States again. Ever wonder why a guy who fought exclusively in Europe would make his big television debut fighting another European heavyweight? Perhaps the plethora of top-notch European heavies is the answer. Perhaps not. Downward we went as 28 year old Dominick Guinn fought unknown 29 year old Nigerian Duncan Dokiwari. Guinn had made his mark by exposing an already over-exposed Michael Grant as nothing more than big, imposing and glass jawed.
Guinn’s unanimous decision win over Dokiwari on Saturday proved nothing as we never really knew who Duncan D was anyway. Now we may never know him.
If this is the best of the “young" heavyweights, we could be in for a long slumber of rotating champions once Lennox Lewis is dethroned. No “young heavyweight” that was featured was all that “young” - unless you are in your eighties and sit on your rocker referring to 30-year olds as “the youth of today” - and neither really had a chance to impress. None of us knew much about any of the boxers who lost Saturday night and what we knew about Williamson was that he was there to fill a need for Team Mesi. Job well done, DaVarryl.
We were sold on a good idea with a chance to see tomorrow’s champions today - all we got was an idea.
Heading into his fight with Williamson, Mesi had been criticized for fighting soft opposition. However, this is something all fighters do on the way up, and rightly so, fight handpicked opponents. In his fight with Williamson we were supposed to get some answers on whether or not Mesi is for real. The only thing we knew for sure about Mesi before fighting Williamson was that he could hit with both hands.
And guess what? That is still basically all that we know about him. The Mesi-Williamson fight brought two things to light that we can be absolutely sure of. One, Mesi is not as great or devastating as he looked in knocking Williamson out. Two, Williamson is not as bad or awful has he looked in being knocked out in the first round. Those two things are the only certainties we can take from the fight between Joe Mesi and DaVarryl Williamson!
First round knockouts are the worst scenario on which to judge an up and coming prospect. Let's give Mesi high props for winning the best way possible, knocking an opponent out in the first round. However, does anyone who knows anything about boxing really believe that Mesi is going to knockout every one of his future opponents in the first round? Hell No! If Mesi were to go on to knockout every future opponent in the first round, he'd be regarded as the greatest heavyweight fighter of all-time. I guarantee you Mesi will not retire as the greatest heavyweight in boxing history. I guarantee it!
When prospects, especially heavyweights, score many early round knockouts on the way up to the title, many over react to the hype and excitement. Granted, everyone loves knockouts, it's the most definitive way to end a fight and achieve victory. But, no fighter knocks out all of his foes, especially early. Most get so swept up in the excitement of the early round knockout that they forget we really know nothing else about the fighter other than he can hit. In boxing, it's not always the best puncher who wins, or goes on to gain Hall-Of-Fame status and greatness. If power was the final judgement of a fighter, than Pep, Robinson, Ali, and Leonard would be no more than just names in the annals of boxing history.
When a fighter scores an early round KO on his way to the title, what do we really know about him and his make up as a fighter, other than he can hit? Not too much. Remember, unless you believe Mesi is going to score all early round knockouts for the remainder of his career, none of the following matters.
As it stands right now, we have no clue if Mesi has a solid enough chin to be a future champion or star in the division. We have no idea if he cuts easy, nor do we know if his defense is good enough to make a good boxer miss him. Can he make a good fighter miss with his jab? Or is he Daivd Tua, who the only way he doesn't get hit with a jab is if his opponent doesn't throw it.
What kind of stamina does Mesi have? Have we seen anything to indicate that he could keep a pace like Holyfield and Bowe did in their first fight, without needing an air tank on his back? Maybe he can, but until he has been asked to do so in the ring, we just don't know! And he will be asked to do so somewhere down the road.
Is there a particular style that he is vulnerable too? Does he carry his punch throughout the fight? Is he strictly a front runner? Does he have the character to get up off the canvas and come back to win? How will he hold up versus a fighter who can take his punch and keeps coming after him?
I'm sure I've left out other scenarios that most fighters have had to confront on their way to the title and as a defending champ. The point is that until a fighter is confronted with those scenarios, no one knows how he'll hold up . And regardless how great a fighter goes on to become, he more than likely had to answer those questions more than once.
Looking back at heavyweight history, many fighters have taken the division by storm like Mesi has in his last two fights. And in many cases even more impressively. Who was more devastating than George Foreman and Mike Tyson coming up? Look what we found out about them. Foreman's stamina betrayed him when he was extended deep into a fight. Tyson came apart mentally when he was met with stern resistance. And Foreman and Tyson are two of the best punchers to come through the heavyweight division since Sonny Liston 40 years ago, and they certainly didn't knockout all of their opponents. Did they?
How about Earnie Shavers, he was the master of the early round knockout. His right hand may have been harder than any one-punch in Foreman or Tyson's arsenal. Yet he didn't have a great chin, and his stamina was usually lacking as well. Outside of eight seconds in his rematch with Holmes, he never even won a piece of the title.
Looking at the two fighters Mesi is most often compared to, Cooney and Morrison, is he as impressive coming up as either of them were? In my opinion, Cooney and Morrison hit harder than Mesi. The left-hook of both Cooney and Morrison is harder than any single punch Mesi throws. However, I think Mesi is a better boxer than they were and has better foot movement. As impressive as Cooney and Morrison were coming up, and they did look awesome in some fights, we eventually learned what their vulnerabilities were. It's only a matter of time until we find out what Mesi's are.
Regarding Cooney, we found out that he was a head case. And he never recovered psychologically after losing to Holmes. The one fallacy about Cooney is that he lacked heart. Cooney was held back by his management team of Mike Jones and Dennis Rappaport. Cooney wanted to fight the top fighters, however his mangers were more concerned with protecting him and building him up as a White-Hope so they could cash in against Holmes. And they did.
Morrison, who could really hit, was managed brilliantly by Bill Cayton. Morrison did not have the greatest chin, and it cost him in his biggest fights against the best opponents he fought. However, he did have heart. Any fighter to comeback and seemingly unfazed after the devastating knockout he suffered versus Ray Mercer, gets my respect. Eventually Morrison was done in by his wild personal life outside the ring leaving boxing after contracting the HIV Virus. His biggest accomplishments were winning the WBO title and decisioning a poorly prepared George Foreman in 1993.
Throughout the history of the heavyweight division, many fighters have arrived on the scene like a Hurricane. And everyone of those fighters was tested somewhere during their ascend to the title, or as champion. Some of them went on to be great heavyweights, and some of them never won the title. I'll bet in most cases, the morning after their most impressive early round knockout, they were being talked about as being unbeatable. Which was never realized.
Where does that leave Mesi? Who knows, it's too early to project how good he'll be or how far he will go. I can only go by what I know and have seen. That is he has power and charisma, and scored an impressive knockout over DaVarryl Williamson in his last fight. I also know I won't get carried away by it, because it won't continue to be nearly as easy as his level of competition gets better as he moves up the heavyweight ladder.
Overall, I think Mesi is pretty good and has a bright future. Will he be a fighter we'll be talking about in 20 years? I don't think so, but who knows. Can he win the title after Lewis is gone? I'd say the odds are in his favor, but I wouldn't bet my life on it. Given that the heavyweight division is weak and in a state of transition, his chances are as good as the next guys.
Lastly, look at the difference in Mesi and Guinn coming off their last fight. In Guinn we know that he has a helluva chin. He can box and remain poised under pressure. Guinn showed great stamina and mixed his punches up well along with having good hand speed. Guinn also seems to be a fighter that can adapt to different styles, and he can punch. Can we say any of that about Mesi, other than he can punch? And that's not a shot a Joe Mesi, not in the least. No way will I denigrate him for scoring a first round knockout. I'm sure if Guinn could've gotten a first round knockout, he would take it. What I am saying is that there are less questions about Guinn than there are Mesi. Which doesn't mean he is or will be a better fighter than Mesi. That's the problem with early round knockouts, they leave many questions unanswered.
There are four things I know for sure that I'm right about. One, Mesi is good and has the potential to be really good. Two, he's not as good as he looked stopping Williamson! Three, Williamson is not a bum or as bad as he looked being stopped by Mesi! Four, don't judge the winner or the loser off of an early round knockout, it's really not a true indicator.
But my angle on this controversy is still very much alive.
There is one thing I can say about Marc Ratner - whenever I place a call to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the secretary answers, and I ask for Ratner (the executive director), I never get an inquisition about "Who's calling? What is this regarding?". What happens is that my call goes through and Marc always gets on the phone, without any screening. And while he may "shape" an answer to some extent, he doesn't avoid me.
At the other end of the spectrum, you've got people like Greg Sirb, who I'll e-mail with rather simple and straightforward questions or requests, only to see him slip, slide and squirm before ultimately being far less than forthcoming, or refusing to answer at all.
Or Nancy Black, the former executive director of the Kentucky Athletic Commission, who has actually upset that I had reached her on her cell phone, despite the fact that the number was posted on the commission's website, then proceeded to lie through her teeth to me, throughout the conversation.
As public officials in boxing go, Ratner exhibits a pretty high level of professionalism. And since he handles a healthy percentage of the big-time fights, he has a job that is not immune from the spotlight - in many ways thankless at best.
Still, he's not immune to politics. The selection of Stanley Christodoulou as a judge for the De la Hoya-Mosley fight was political in nature - make no mistake about it. Political, because it involved a member of the ABC (Nevada), and until recently, a member of the ABC's executive board (Ratner) muscling up against one of the ABC's political opponents. Don't have any illusions - all the sanctioning bodies are despised by the ABC braintrust, and an effort to neuter them is very active.
Regulations are imposed on them, and against them, by federal law, and as new legislation has been compiled, the sanctioning bodies have not been given any opportunity to offer input. No one from the WBC, WBA, or IBF was invited to testify at the Senate hearings pursuant to the Professional Boxer Safety Act, and when they were able to set up a meeting with Ken Nahigian (who is Senator John McCain's point man on the subject), they were more or less blown off.
The general attitude is that the sanctioning bodies are not to be heard from, and soon, not to be seen. This is obvious when you look at the way the ABC has dealt with the selection of officials for championship fights. The position that has been advanced by the badly-informed Sirb, and which he easily coerced his handpicked successor as ABC president, Tim Lueckenhoff, to support, is that each state has the right to appoint whatever officials it wants for any championship fight - even if that means all the officials come from the champion or challenger's hometown.
That kind of policy produces incidents that are potentially embarrassing for the sport. Last July, Ratner appointed Nevada judges and a Nevada referee for the WBA heavyweight title fight between John Ruiz of the U.S. and Kirk Johnson of Canada. The WBA, which was the only sanctioning body involved in the fight, had rule calling for geographically-neutral officials when fighters from different countries competed in the home country of one of these fighters. That rule was overridden. Adding insult to injury, Ruiz had recently purchased a home in the Las Vegas area and had taken up residence there, meaning Ruiz had all hometown officials, including referee Joe Cortez, who declared Ruiz the DQ winner, then, seven months later, exhibited a rather curious degree of inconsistency when he stood by and watched while Fres Oquendo brought a knockout punch directly down on the back of Maurice Harris' head, yet took no action.
Sirb, who serves as executive director in Pennsylvania, has made no secret of the fact that he has intentionally named all Pennsylvania officials, including some from Pittsburgh, to work Paul Spadafora's fights in the Steel City.
In fact, when the "neutrality" issue was brought up by Romanian-Canadian Leonard Dorin's camp before his May 17 fight with Spadafora in Pittsburgh, this is what was written in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"Greg Sirb, Pennsylvania's boxing boss and the past president of the U.S. Association of Boxing Commissioners, reiterated yesterday that he gathered the most 'fair, neutral' panel possible for this fight -- especially when you consider that every other previous Spadafora title fight in Pennsylvania included in-state judges and Pittsburgh-based referees."
In an August 8, 2002 memo sent to ABC members, this was Sirb's attitude toward having neutral officials:
"....we as commissions are going to continue to have this sort of problem if the WBA and any other organization has in their by-laws/regulations that they indeed must approve officials or that officials must be 'neutral'."
Material like that is absolutely essential to put this issue in its proper perspective.
Sirb has misinterpreted federal law from the start, and in other cases ignores it when it is convenient. We've made that point in both Operation Cleanup books, but specifically in Chapter 64 of OPERATION CLEANUP: A BLUEPRINT FOR BOXING REFORM.
I'll reproduce it at length, to refresh your memory:
*** "Here is Section 16 of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, as is contained under the title "JUDGES AND REFEREES":
"No person may arrange, promote, organize, produce, or fight in a professional boxing match unless all referees and judges participating in the match have been certified and approved by the boxing commission responsible for regulating the match in the State where the match is held."
What that means is just what it says - CERTIFIED and APPROVED by the boxing commission. That doesn't say SELECTED or APPOINTED. The way this law is written, it seems to automatically contemplate that there is one entity who would be offering the officials for approval, and another entity (the commission) that would actually APPROVE them.
Otherwise, the law would have specifically stated that the boxing commission is solely responsible for SELECTING the officials. Certainly, if the state commissions were to be selecting the officials unilaterally, the term "certified and approved" would not even be included in the language, since it would no doubt be redundant. After all, one must pre-suppose that if an entity were SELECTING the officials, it would be implicit that the entity would have already APPROVED them, wouldn't it?
It is very clear to me that the spirit of the law was not intended so that one party alone would have the authority to appoint officials, at least for championship fights, without input from the other entity. I know this because when I was reading the brand-new legislation that is going to be up for consideration in Congress - the Professional Boxing Amendments Act of 2002 - it took into consideration the involvement and some degree of participation on the part of the sanctioning organizations. Look at Section 115 (c), at least the way it read as of September 12, the day of the hearing:
'(C) SANCTIONING ORGANIZATION TO PROVIDE LIST - A sanctioning organization --
(1) shall provide a list of judges and referees deemed qualified by that organization to a boxing commission; but
(2) may not influence, or attempt to influence, a boxing commission's selection of a judge or referee for a professional boxing match except by providing such a list.'
This, at the very least, invites input from the sanctioning bodies." *****
Of course, this little piece of news caught Sirb and others by surprise. He realized the objective of his ABC colleagues was not addressed properly by the statute, especially after I had made a speech about it at the 2002 WBA convention.
So he scrambled to change the language of the proposed bill through Nahigian. Now it reads,
"No person may arrange, promote, organize, produce, or fight in a professional boxing match unless all referees and judges participating in the match have been SELECTED (this previously said "certified and approved") by the boxing commission responsible for regulating the match in the State where the match is held."
``(c) Sanctioning Organization NOT TO INFLUENCE SELECTION PROCESS (This previously read "Sanctioning Body to Provide List").
......and that a sanctioning organization:
``(1) MAY (previously was "shall") provide a list of judges and referees deemed qualified by that organization to a boxing commission; but
``(2) SHALL (previously was "may") not influence, or attempt to influence, a boxing commission's selection of a judge or referee for a professional boxing match except by providing such a list."
Naturally, that illustrated two things to me - (a) these guys understood they were not standing on solid ground (otherwise, why change the language?), and endeavored to take steps to correct that mistake; and (b) Sirb indeed has a direct pipeline to Nahigian for the purposes of influencing what was going to be in the legislation.
And as we sit here, the legislation has not yet passed, so the current language is still in effect.
So why is everyone taking the hard (and wrong) line on it?
Maybe there's an element of ego in it - the product of insecurity, or perhaps self-importance. An affinity for power? Anything is plausible.
Here's what I don't understand: since he can "certify and approve" officials before they are even allowed to work in Nevada, Marc Ratner would appear to have some veto power to begin with. Why wouldn't that be sufficient for him? Why wouldn't that provide a solid basis from which he can negotiate and cooperate with a sanctioning body to appoint officials for a championship fight? Is there a particular reason not to take that kind of initiative?
Is it because all those people "dirty"? I would hope not, because until this year's ABC convention, Ratner had served as that organization's vice-president, and thus had huddled with people just as dubious, if not more so, than most you would find in a sanctioning body.
And do I even have to mention that when commissions refer in their rules to "championship fights", aren't they, in effect, recognizing and giving credibility to the sanctioning bodies? After all, these are not championship fights decreed by THEM, or by the ABC, but by the sanctioning bodies themselves, correct? Doesn't that deserve at least a small degree of respect, if not deference?
The WBA submitted the names of six prospective judges to Ratner for the De la Hoya-Mosley fight. Ratner didn't like them. I would grant you - the WBA probably erred in not putting forth six American judges, competent and experienced, and well-established in their respective states, to minimize the possibility of an objection, since I think you'd agree, if a judge who fits that description was considered unfit to work the DLH-Mosley fight, what business would he or she have working ANY title fight in ANY state, right? Are lesser championship fighters entitled to a lesser quality of judging? If so, that would be a hell of a commentary on the ABC's "certification" process for officials.
Ratner could have asked for six more names, or a larger list. He could have asked them for Americans. But really, his decision had already been made, making any communication process moot. He elected to bypass the WBA and contact Christodoulou on his own. Christodoulou accepted, on his own. Ratner, in effect, decided for the WBA, as did Christodoulou, who their judge was going to be, despite the fact that the judge sits on that organization's committees that sanction title bouts, and rate fighters. The WBA knew that, and were well aware of the ABC's position regarding someone like Christodoulou judging a fight (pursuant to the letter they sent Armando Garcia), and as was reported in the last chapter, made their objection on that basis known. Yet if they pulled their sanction from the fight for that reason, they would have been vilified.
Could you blame the organization if it were upset?
Is the next step for commissions to sanction world title fights, and to strip champions of their belts when and where they deem appropriate?
Actually, I think I know what direction they're going in - and which path I'm going to take to counter them.
Here's what we saw. Juan Carlos Gomez boxed rings around some tough plodder name Samil Sam winning a lopsided decision. Gomez a southpaw, used his jab beautiful. He mixed his attack perfectly going up to the head and down to the body. Gomez also demonstrated a very solid chin. He throws a lot of punches but he's not a particularly big puncher. If he would commit to his punches more, he would hit with more power. However he seems intent to do his flurrying and then move away to get set to unload his next flurry of punches. The one negative I saw in Gomez is that he got hit a little too much! Maybe he was careless because he didn't have much respect for Sam, who really didn't impress. Although Gomez fought a smart fight, I don't think anyone will be chomping at the bit to see him again.
The fighter I was most impressed with was Dominick Guinn. Guinn, a very good boxer showed outstanding boxing basics in winning a hard fought 10 round decision over Duncan Dokiwari. The 6'3" 236 pound Dokiwari was the best of the fighters who lost. Dokiwari caught Guinn with some solid right hands and he never appeared hurt or shook. The thing that stands out about Guinn is that he has a devastating sneaky left hook to compliment his well rounded boxing skills. Guinn had Dokiwari hurt on three or four occasions in which it appeared that he might be stopped.
Guinn, who weighs about 220 pounds, showed that he is plenty big enough to be a solid force in the heavyweight division. I really like his boxing ability and dynamite left hook. He also showed the coolness of a seasoned pro who doesn't get rattled. I like Guinn and was impressed with his overall game and style.
The main event saw the newest of the so-called white hopes emerge. Undefeated Joe Mesi stopped DaVarryl Williamson in the first round. There is absolutely no question that Williamson was the softest opponent of the three fighters who won. Without a doubt, Williamson would've been an underdog to every fighter on the card!
Mesi came out flying in front of his home town crowd in Buffalo New York. Mesi showed good speed and movement for the slightly under two minutes that the fight lasted. The thing that most will remember about Mesi, is the punching power he exhibited. However, I can't say that I'm totally convinced that it's all that devastating. Yes, he can hit with either hand, but he outweighed Williamson by almost 25 pounds. And Williamson is not close to being a top 10 heavyweight fighter!
One thing I believe is HBO will get on board the Mesi bandwagon. I just hope because of Mesi being a white hope that he doesn't get offered a bigger HBO deal than Guinn. Although I suspect he will. HBO will jump all over the fact that Mesi can be sold as a knockout puncher who has a huge hometown following. Jim Lampley couldn't gush enough about going back to Buffalo for another Mesi fight!
Of the six heavyweights who fought on "Night of The Young Heavyweights", I think Sam and Williamson are career opponents. Sam is tough but he's very slow and doesn't have the punch to be a factor. He is a face first fighter who takes three or four punches to land one. The problem is that his one is not all that huge.
Williamson got into boxing late, and at age 35 I doubt we'll ever see him on HBO again. He doesn't have the size, and although he supposed to have a big right had, we never saw it. I don't see Williamson as anything more than an opponent for up and coming heavyweights!
Duncan Dokiwari showed that he could be a fighter to take notice of. He's big and strong and showed a lot of heart in his fight with Guinn. He was cut due to an accidental head butt that I'm sure effected his performance. He just wasn't capable of handling the slick boxing Guinn and worrying about his eye cut at the same time. However, I think we will see more of him down the road.
Juan Carlos Gomez also has the potential to make some noise in the heavyweight division. The former cruiserweight champ's southpaw style will trouble a lot of opponents. Couple that with his high punch out put and sturdy chin, and I think he can be a real threat to any heavyweight he fights! Although I'm sure he will not make anyone forget Evander Holyfield.
No doubt that Mesi will be the most talked about of the three winners. However, I must concur that I can't say I'm totally sold on him. I'm not selling Mesi short. I believe he can fight, but I'm just not sure it's as good as his hype and promotion will try and have the boxing public believe. He will most likely be compared to past white power punching heavyweight contenders Gerry Cooney, and Tommy Morrison. I'm just not at the point to say he's as good as either one of them were.
The fighter who I believe stole the night was Dominick Guinn. He showed toughness and heart, along with very good boxing fundamentals and basics. He also showed he's in tremendous shape. Guinn didn't tire at all during a very briskly contested fight with a big strong opponent pressuring him.
Guinn is the fighter who I think showed the most. Yes, Mesi had the quick impressive knockout, but his opposition was at least a level or two below Guinn's! I just need to see more of Mesi. Until I see him tested like Guinn, I must say I'm still somewhat of a skeptic. Maybe not as big as I was a few months ago, but I still need to see more.
Obviously, with the career of heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis drawing to a close. And old war-horses Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson well beyond their best days, the heavyweight division is in need of an infusion. Regarding the fighter who's going to provide that spark, from what I saw, I'd say Dominick Guinn came the closest to possibly being that fighter! Is Guinn or Mesi the heavyweight to have the baton passed on to. I don't know, but I do know I look forward to seeing them both fight again!
With the brilliant career of Heavyweight Champ Lennox Lewis winding down, it's almost impossible to watch an up and coming heavyweight and not wonder if this could be the guy. By the guy, I mean the fighter who can rule the most prestigious division in boxing. There can be no doubt right now that Lewis must be regarded as the best active heavyweight in the world. And no, it's not Vitali Klitschko. Although Vitali put up a gallant fight against Lewis, he didn't win or prove that he's the better fighter. Maybe Klitschko will have his day down the road, but right now Lewis is the man.
Regardless of what anyone says, the heavyweight division is boxings flagship division. Currently there are three big names in it, Lennox Lewis 38, Evander Holyfield who turns 41 in a couple weeks, and Mike Tyson 37. Unfortunately all three of them are just about history. Lewis will be gone within a year. Holyfield will continue to fight for who knows how long. Probably until some fighter gives him a total thrashing. I seriously doubt that fighter will be James Toney. The point with Holyfield is, only he believes that he can win the title again. That leaves Tyson. The problem with Tyson is that he just does not fight enough anymore, if at all. Tyson, like Holyfield is still a dangerous fight for any of the title belt holders, but history has shown that he is way past being a force in the heavyweight division.
Since Joe Louis beat James Braddock for the heavyweight title back in June of 1937, there have been exactly three non-heavyweight super stars who have carried boxings mantle. They are, Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Oscar De La Hoya. They are the only non-heavyweight fighters who have attracted non boxing fans to follow or care about boxing.
So it's obvious that for boxing to thrive, it needs a dominant heavyweight champion. Or, it needs a non heavyweight fighter who is great and has charisma. With De La Hoya's loss to Mosley, it's doubtful that he'll be around much longer. As great as Roy Jones is, his unwillingness to seek out other great fighters and fights make him almost invisible to the fringe boxing fans.
Looking at boxings glamor division, who will be the man after Lewis? As noted earlier, it's not Holyfield or Tyson. So who does that leave? The Klitschko's, Byrd, Tua, Rahman, and Kirk Johnson, excluding the heavyweights fighting on September 27th.
Vitali Klitschko showed against Lewis that he's more than willing and tough enough, but is he ever going to capture the publics imagination or go on to achieve greatness? I don't think so. Wladimir Klitschko is very skilled, especially for a fighter who is 6'5". However, I have serious doubts about his beard. Chris Byrd is a terrific boxer, but Muhammad Ali was the only true super star heavyweight champ who wasn't a one punch knockout artist.
David Tua has the punch, but he doesn't keep his weight down. And he can be out-boxed by the top boxers in the division. Hasim Rahman and Kirk Johnson? Neither one of them does anything so special that boxing fans flock to see them, and both of them have let their weight balloon up. So with them, you never know what you are going to get!
With the night of the young heavyweights nearing, what should we look for in a fighter who we can possibly latch onto in hopes of him being the next "man" in the heavyweight division? For boxing fans to latch on to the next heavyweight great, one thing is certain. He must be a puncher!
Remember, since Joe Louis, there have been three great dominant heavyweight champions who were boxers. They are Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, and Evander Holyfield. Although Holyfield is thought of as a counter-puncher, he's much closer to being a boxer than a puncher. And as great as Holmes and Holyfield were, they both needed a dance partner to be a draw. Ali was the only true world super star heavyweight champ who wasn't a seek and destroy puncher! No doubt, the next great heavyweight to carry boxing's mantle must be a big puncher.
Now that we have that clear, what else do we need to see? I believe the next star heavyweight must show us that he is obsessed with boxing and becoming a great fighter. And he must be willing to fight anybody. He must have some size, but doesn't have to be a giant! As long as he weighs about 220 and is 6'1" , that's plenty big enough. It would help if he had a good jab, as most fight people know, everything works off of it. He doesn't have to have the speed of Ali, but he can't be slow and plodding. Speed in the heavyweight division is a huge plus!
Stamina is a given, he will go no where if he's only good for three or four rounds like Shannon Briggs. He also must be a smart boxer and have good basics. Although he doesn't have to be Holmes, the basics are an absolute must. To be an outstanding heavyweight, he must throw punches and not constantly look for one punch. It also would not hurt if he is capable of fighting all three minutes of every round. And lastly, he must have a sturdy chin.
In the heavyweight division, having a solid chin is more imperative than it is in any other division! It doesn't matter if you're as fast as Ali, can box like Holmes, or hit like Foreman. The fact is that somewhere along the line in the heavyweight division, a fighter is going to get nailed. How he holds up and reacts to that will go a long way in determining if he is capable of ever being a major force in the division. Speaking of having a good chin, heart and character are also a definitive trait in determining how far a fighter will go. And it's something that all fans can see and respect!
So heres wishing the best of luck to Juan Carlos Gomez, Sinan Samil, Dominick Guinn, Duncan Dokiwari, Joe Mesi, and Davarryl Williamson. Maybe one of these heavyweights will go on to be the future of the division? Only time will tell.
The biggest sure thing of the night is this. The fighter who emerges as the front runner of the six heavyweights on September 27th, will be assured of more HBO dates down the road. However, you can bet my life on it, the contract will have two major clauses in it. And it will read something like this........HBO reserves the right to drop your ass if you lose anytime before the contract expires, and we have the final say on accepting or rejecting your future opponents! Welcome to the HBO family and the era of Network controlled Boxing!
Those sitting ringside, with the exclusion of the HBO broadcast team, scored the fight in favor of Mosley. Those who watched the fight on TV, saw De La Hoya getting the better of it. How can this be? Most times when I saw a fight live at ringside, and then went and watched the tape of it, I usually saw the fight the same (not always, but a majority of the time).
I'm sure most boxing fans have heard many judges say that the fight is much different at ringside than it appears on TV. This is often said after a fight in which a controversial decision has been rendered. I usually didn't give it much credence. I've always felt that if you knew what you were watching, and weren't influenced or swayed by the crowd or commentators, it didn't matter where you saw the fight. But as of late, and due to the split views on the De La Hoya-Mosley outcome, I think I can see the point made by the judges!
And the point is, maybe they don't have the best seat in the house to view the fight. In my experience I have found that sitting beneath the ring on one side distorts the perception of what's happening when the action is on the other side. I think to have the best view of the fight, you need to be above the ring looking down on the action instead of looking up at it. If you have ever attended fights live, you can see that sitting halfway up in the stands (as long as you're not too far away), provides a full view of the fighters and what's happening, regardless of where the action is taking place.
In my opinion, I think in some ways a fight can be better viewed on TV than it can be by the judges who sit below the ring, only because the television broadcast pans above the ring from every possible angle. Television provides a better view on accuracy, but the impact of the punches can't be realized as well as seeing the fight live. Maybe it would be better to have the three judges sit elevated above the ring like the officials do during a tennis match. They don't have to be as high as the tennis judges, but definitely above the ring. I have no doubt being above the ring provides a better picture as to who's doing what and who's controlling the fight overall.
The key here is that to see the fight from the best angle, you must be above the ring. Not way above it, just elevated enough so you are peering down slightly on the ring. When you are looking down at the ring, you can see everything that's going on in it. Maybe this is a good alternative, instead of revamping everything and accusing the judges of being stupid and corrupt. Perhaps the judges don't have the best view from where they sit.
Most assume because the judges have the closest view that it's the best view. I really believe by looking up at the fight hinders their view, opposed to looking at it from a slightly elevated level. By sitting slightly higher than the ring, it's easy to see who's dictating the tempo of the fight. It's also easier to decipher who is landing more solidly and who's just playing tag.
No doubt being ringside gives you a better feel for the action in regards to the impact and sound of the fighters' punches, as opposed to watching it on television. I'm just not sure a fight can be seen better sitting ringside while looking up at the action. When you are watching the fight from below the ring, there are just too many blind spots when one fighter has his back to you and you cannot see the hands of the other fighter. This also makes it almost impossible to see who's getting the better of the infighting. How can the judges see this clearly if they're staring at a fighters back?
This is where being at an elevated level above the ring can provide a much better overall all view of the fight. It's the fight judges sitting ringside beneath the ring.
Now fast forward to another highlight clip. A not quite ready for prime time Mike Tyson is waiting in his corner to do battle with Marvis Frazier. This is considered a good test for Tyson at this stage of his budding career.
The bell sounds and within seconds Tyson is on top of Marvis forcing him into a corner. Then Mike connects with one of the most vicious uppercuts of all time. The punch appears to nearly lift Frazier's head clear off his shoulders. The follow up is needless, Marvis is done.
Today when the name Marvis Frazier is mentioned those two film clips come to mind. Holmes and Tyson both destroyed him. Marvis was just the over hyped son of " Smokin' Joe ". How wrong this is. Truth be told, Marvis Frazier was a very capable fighter.
Marvis boxed not slugged his way to over 50 amateur wins. He was considered the best U.S amateur heavyweight until suffering a shocking one punch, one round kayo loss to James Broad. The kayo punch pinched a nerve in his neck and shelved his career. Corrective surgery started Marvis on the road to his professional career.
Many blame father Joe for changing Marvis from a boxer to a puncher. To try and mold Marvis into his unique slugging style. A style he was not really suited for. They said Marvis was too small to slug with the big brutes of the division. There may be some truth to this. Still Marvis enjoyed some success against much bigger and competent foes.
He would meet Broad in a rematch at the professional level. This was not the fat, sloppy looking Broad most of us remember. This was a big but trim and in shape James Broad. It went ten rounds and Marvis using speed, great defense and accurate punching beat him fair and square.
Marvis would also outspeed and out hustle a bigger and talented Joe Bugner. Joe was no slouch. He had traveled 27 rounds in two fights with Muhammad Ali. Bugner had also gone twelve rugged rounds with Papa Joe.
After the Holmes debacle Marvis won a tough decision over Bonecrusher Smith. In a gutsy performance Marvis got off the canvas to win a close verdict.
Mike Tyson put the exclamation point on the career of Marvis. The son of Joe never really got his just due. How would he have done if he boxed as a cruiserweight ? How would he have fared against the likes of Holyfield, Qawi or DeLeon in this bastard division ? It is a shame that we will never know.
Please remember Marvis as more then a whipping boy for Holmes and Tyson. Remember him for more then just being Joe Frazier's boy. Instead remember Marvis for his talent and his courage. Remember him as a fighter.
Based on what I've seen these past several months, here's one man's top ten:
1- Roy Jones- Yes, he can be so frustrating at times with his comments, his mercurial behavior and his choice of opponents, but you have to give him credit for making history by mastering the bigger- but not better- John Ruiz to capture the WBA heavyweight title. Not bad for a guy who won his first title at 160-pounds. Now the former undisputed light heavyweight champion goes back down to regain some of his belts against Antonio Tarver on November 8th.
HOW HE STAYS NUMBER ONE: By continuing to fight strong opposition- something he had deftly avoided in the past. Tarver is a solid guy who currently has both the WBA and IBF light heavyweight titles and is considered the best 175-pounder on the planet without the initials of RJ.
HOW HE WOULD DROP: If he goes back to his old ways of facing non-descript mis-mandatories like Richard Hall, Ricky Frazier and Glen Kelly, his stock goes the Enron route.
2- Bernard Hopkins- Ok, 'the Executioner' is here more on the overall scope of his career than what he's done recently. Yes, he's squandered away a lot of things in and out the ring since his dominating win over Felix Trinidad in 2001, but give him his due. He is one of the all-time great middleweights. You don't make 16 defenses of that title- unifying the division in the process without being a complete, all-around fighter.
HOW HE STAYS AT NUMBER TWO OR MOVES UP: By actually taking on some live opposition. Since his ground-breaking win over Felix Trinidad in 2001, he's taken on the likes of Carl Daniels and Morrade Hakkar.
HOW HE WOULD DROP: By continuing to negotiate his way out of fights, like he has against Joe Calzaghe and James Toney. Lately, he's done a lot more talking than fighting. It seems he's more interested in negotiating just to see his names in the headlines with no actual intention of going through with the actual bouts.
3- Marco Antonio Barrera- Yes, he's had some easy one's since taking apart Naseem Hamed a few years back but he gets back down to business when he faces the dangerous Manny Pacquiao on November 15th. Barrera, is no longer just a brawler but also a technically sound boxer who can out-box you as well as break you down piece by piece.
HOW HE STAYS AT NUMBER THREE OR MOVE UP: Beating the dangerous Manny Pacquiao is a good start. Then, a highly anticipated rubber match with Erik Morales could be next. Wins here and you're talking about a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer.
HOW HE COULD DROP: If he would go back to the seniors tour of Johnny Tapia and Kevin Kelley.
4- Kostya Tszyu- He's basically just a part time fighter nowadays but we can't overlook the fact that not only has he unified the jr. welterweight division, he had to beat guys like Sharmba Mitchell, Zab Judah, Otkay Urkal, Jesse James Leija and Ben Tackie during that time. Work like that can not be ignored. 'the Thunder from Down Under' is a sharp-shooting craftsmen with great strength and conditioning. It's going to take one helluva man to take his crown.
HOW HE STAYS AT NUMBER FOUR OR MOVES UP: By continuing to face the worlds best jr. welterweights, preferably Arturo Gatti.
HOW HE COULD DROP: Staying active has not been one of his forte's the last few years. You get the feeling that Tszyu will soon be riding off into the sunset of what has been a very successful career.
5- Floyd Mayweather- We hear ya loud and clear, he's boorish outside the ring and boring inside of it. But you have to give 'the Pretty Boy' his due, he basically cleaned out the 130-pound division with dominating wins over Diego Corrales, Jesus Chavez, Angel Manfredy, Genaro Hernandez and Carlos Hernandez, he then moved up and beat the tough Jose Luis Castillo twice in back-to-back fights. He's got all the moves in the world and the only weakness he seems to have is a brittle set of mitts. You don't have to like him, but give him his due, he takes on all comers.
HOW HE STAYS AT NUMBER FIVE OR MOVES UP: Forget style points, if he keeps mowing down one world class fighter after another, how can you possibly not give him his due?
HOW HE COULD DROP: He has chronic hand problems, and while he's never been a true puncher, he has lost the ability to at least back up his opponents. If he has an Achilles heel, it's his hands and their ability to stand up over the test of time against solid foes.
6- Erik Morales- 'El Terrible' always looks as though he's about to fall over and die- and then he gathers himself for another hard fought win. Morales, in the eyes of many beat Barrera in their rematch and then he would dismantle the game Paulie Ayala. Till someone does actually beat him up badly, he has to be considered among the sports premiere fighters. You wont find a boxer with a bigger heart.
HOW HE STAYS AT NUMBER FOUR OR MOVES UP: Morales is moving up to 130-pounds starting with his fight against Guty Espadas. Now, if he can take on and down the likes of Jesus Chavez, Carlos Hernandez and Acelino Freitas, his ranking must soar.
HOW HE COULD DROP: If he finds out he isn't a real 130-pounder.
7- Ricardo Mayorga- This guys probably the least skilled out of all the guys here, but you know what? It was good enough to beat Vernon Forrest twice and with those wins he became one of the few unified titlists in the sport, capturing the WBC and WBA welterweight crowns. He's raw, he's crude but he can punch like a mule kick and that's why he's here.
HOW HE STAYS AT NUMBER SEVEN OR MOVES UP: Very simple, he proves that his wins over Vernon Forrest aren't an aberration.
HOW HE COULD DROP: He drinks and smokes his championship belts away. Mark my words, the crafty Cory Spinks will give him fits in December.
8- Shane Mosley- What did LL Cool J once say," Don't call it a comeback, I've been here for years" Well, Mosley did at least get lost in a ( Vernon) Forrest for awhile but he was able to mark his return to the games elite with a close decision win over Oscar De La Hoya. Which makes him two-for-two against 'the Golden Boy', not many guys can say that. Now, if he can't get a third bout with him, names like Winky Wright, Mayorga and Fernando Vargas could be in his future.
HOW HE COULD STAY AT NUMBER EIGHT OR MOVE UP: Do the opposite of when he first beat De La Hoya by taking on blue-chippers like Wright, Mayorga and Vargas in the future.
HOW HE COULD DROP: He does the same thing he did the first time in the aftermath of his first win over 'the Golden Boy'
9-Oscar De La Hoya- It wouldn't have been right to drop Oscar from this list despite his loss to Mosley because lets face it, it was a close fight that many thought he won and on that night, he probably would have beaten just about any other fighter. De La Hoya still has a quick jab and his left hook is still among the best in the business. If he decides not to retire, many more big fights are in his future.
HOW HE STAYS AT NUMBER NINE OR MOVES UP: He stops complaining about the decision and moves on to other big fights, wins those, and then takes on Mosley for a third time.
HOW HE DROPS: If he continues to moan and decides to retire.
10- Juan Manuel Marquez- This could be a little bit of a surprise to some of you, considering that most place him as the third best featherweight, behind Barrera and Morales( who is moving up in weight) but it says here that he's the most avoided fighter in the world and if he were to get opportunities against the likes of Barrera, Morales or anyone else for that matter, it would be a 50-50 proposition. He gets a chance to further solidify his lofty ranking when he takes on the crafty Derrick Gainer to unify their two championship belts.
HOW HE STAYS AT NUMBER TEN OR MOVES UP: He stops getting avoided by the other big name featherweights.
HOW HE COULD DROP: He continues to get avoided like the Bubonic Plague and he gets bored, leading to an upset loss.