In Boxing News: Arturo Gatti Sends McGirt Packing

Buddy McGirt came to Atlantic City last week with a box of cigars in his suitcase. If he didn’t like what he saw from Arturo Gatti Saturday night, he planned to offer one to his fighter as a way of telling him it was time to retire from boxing. My fighters all know that when I ask them to smoke a cigar with me that I think they should stop fighting, said McGirt. Looks like Gatti might be heading for another title shot instead.

WBA heavyweight champion Nikolay Valuev expects his first defence to be against either Danny Williams or Matt Skelton, reports the BBC. Williams faces Skelton on February 25th in London. I’ll be watching the fight with interest. The winner will be my next opponent, said Valuev. Valuev also said he’d like to tempt Lennox Lewis out of retirement. The Beast from the East obviously has a thing for Brits. Thankfully Lewis seems to have more sense.

Speaking of the 6 foot 12 WBA heavyweight champion, the debate continues as to whether boxing needs a super heavyweight division. As more and more jumbo-sized heavyweights arrive on the scene, one does have to wonder at what point it becomes ridiculous to have a single division for all fighters 200 lbs. plus. On the other hand, there’s the – admittedly, compelling – argument that rarely can any of the giants actually fight. Might it be considered ironic that heavyweight Shannon Briggs agrees with the latter point of view? The big guys have never been the great fighters. Besides Lennox Lewis, there’s never been a guy over 6-feet-4-inches tall that’s been a great champion. You know, I think we’ll be able to handle it, said Briggs.

Kevin Iole of the Las Vegas Review Journal writes that Jeff Lacy has been training so hard for Joe Calzaghe that he is fearful he has been nearing his fighting weight too quickly. I am working so hard for this because this isn’t just a single fight, it’s my career. Everything I’ve done, going to the Olympics, winning a world title, defending it, that’s all a warm-up. I look at this fight with Calzaghe as the start of my career. And so I’m putting the work in to make sure that there are zero excuses. I slowed down the running a little bit because the weight was just coming off so fast, said Lacy. Iole is right that this fight will likely create a new star in boxing. It promises to be very exciting as Lacy will be taking his slugging style into the lion’s den, as the Welsh fans are going to be up for it.

A purse offer for a proposed middleweight title fight between Jermain Taylor and Winky Wright has been delayed again, as the two sides still try to work out a deal. The word glacial comes to mind when pondering the pace of these negotiations.

Though not likely to make a significant blip on boxing’s radar screen, there was an interesting story out of Ireland on the weekend. How appropriate, says the Belfast Telegraph, that the final chapter in the Michael Gomez ring story should be shadowed in controversy. (Michael Gomez could easily be a one-man special for Jerry Springer, read the Telegraph the day earlier.) The Boxing Union of Ireland are probing the circumstances surrounding Gomez’s strange and shocking defeat at the hands of journeyman Peter McDonagh, a man who came to the National Stadium ring on Saturday night with a record of eight wins and 11 defeats. After being tagged by a solid blow midway through the fifth round Gomez, a former WBU and British champion, turned away and subsequently allowed McDonagh to fire home a volley of unanswered blow, prompting the referee to stop the fight. Then came word that betting had been suspended on the fight on Saturday afternoon by at least one bookmaker because of “unusual betting trends”, while it was also mooted that odds of 125-1 for a McDonagh win in the fifth were slashed to 18-1 by mid afternoon. Former WBO super middleweight champion Steve Collins said: I don’t accept how that fight ended, I’d like to know was there money put on the fight for it to be stopped in the fifth round? For me there is something wrong there. I’m shocked . . . I smell a rat, something’s not right here. To me something stinks, the whole thing stinks, I’m disgusted by what happened here tonight, something is rotten here. I’m shocked, saddened and disheartened. Michael Gomez’s trainer, Billy Graham, has said the allegations are “ludicrous”.

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