A half-hour flurry of fact, opinion and insight unfolded on the Oct. 25, 2013 edition of Jim Lampley's “The Fight Game,” on HBO.
Lampley led off with a look at Ruslan Provodnikov, the Siberian gangsta who broke down Mike Alvarado last Saturday night, on HBO, in California. Lampley correctly noted that Provo was the B side to Alvie, but by round eight, the worm totally turned, and the hometowner was sent twice to the mat in that frame. He called Alvarado's decision not to continue to round 11 “intelligent,” for the record.
We saw Provo and sub trainer Marvin Somodio, in a photo, doing Face Time with Freddie Roach after the win. Maybe next for Provo is a sequel with Tim Bradley, Lampley said, but Bradley “defied doubts” to get the better of Juan Manuel Marquez. Lamps threw an uppercut at Marquez and trainer Nacho Beristain, for whining after close losses, as they did after the Bradley loss. Be like Manny, Lamps extolled, and to Marquez, he suggested he take a loss like a man.
Lamps surged into the issue of PED usage, and the testing scene, in the fight game. Andre Ward didn't do VADA testing, Lampley said, because Nov. 16 foe Edwin Rodriguez sought VADA testing for “publicity” purposes. We didn't hear how Ward came to that determination. Lampley then welcomed VADA founder and head Dr. Margaret Goodman to the show. She said she wasn't sure if VADA would be able to stay afloat during the entities' two year existence, especially when Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto tested positive while VADA screened them. She was asked about Victor Conte's relationship with VADA; she said Conte has only sent athletes to do screening via VADA, and sponsored their testing protocol. She said she thinks Conte, the notorious BALCO boss, is now on the side of good. VADA has no ties, and acts on their own authority, she noted. Lampley brought up the Nevada Commission's decision to not go with VADA for testing. She expressed disappointment that the commission, for whom she worked for many years, didn't go outside their own sphere to handle an anti-doping program. She likes her protocol more than any other for its stringency.
Manny Pacquaio and Brandon Rios are using VADA for their Nov. 23 fight, and Goodman thinks Manny's testing for this fight will be the strictest he's ever experienced, she said, in closing.
Lampley next touched on Vasyl Lomachenko, the Ukrainian with a 395-1 amateur record, who debuted two weeks ago for Top Rank. We saw Loma's skill against Jose Luis Ramirez, and his KO shot in round four. Next? A title crack against Orlando Salido, the host said.
Lampley touched on HBO's upcoming fare, a jam-packed schedule to delight fight fans in November.
Max Kellerman joined Lampley via a remote shot. He said Lomachenko was immensely impressive in his debut, and he's not sure Salido can go into the late rounds with Loma. “Can Salido stick around? Lomachenko is devastating,” Max enthused.
Lampley said that Gary Russell is the No. 1 contender for that Salido belt, the WBO feather version, but he referred to the talented Russell's resume as “comical.” That would be a fine fight, but he'd love to see Loma-Rigo more.
The return of Miguel Cotto was touched upon. Is he all the way back? Delvin Rodriguez wasn't of the caliber to prove that..but Cotto hasn't looked this good in eons, Max said. How about Cotto vs. Sergio Martinez, or a rematch with Floyd, he said. If Cotto loses to Sergio, no sweat, go back to 154 and beat a Delvin type, and then get a megafight at 154. “He's must see TV again,” Max said.
Cotto-Martinez, who's the favorite? Sergio, Max said. He's mobile and a sneaky puncher and Cotto's not a real middleweight. Wladimir Klitschko's clinching and resting was no fun to watch, Lampley said. Max said warnings should have been rendered, and then points should have been taken, and if it continued, he should have been DQ'd. He looked like John Ruiz, he said.
Is there a beef between Brandon Rios and Max, Lampley asked. Max said he texted Rios after he saw a video of Rios cursing out Max, for not believing in him. Brandon said he wasn't singling out Max and they hugged it out via text, Kellerman stated.
Lampley dropped Wlad from his pound for pound top five, for his “ugly tactics” versus Povetkin and Vitali is out too, because he's headed to politics full-time. Floyd is No. 1, Lampley said, and he will likely meet Amir Khan next, as a beyond prohibitive favorite. Andre Ward is No. 2, and Lampley expects no layoff dropoff. Sergio Martinez is No. 3, and Gennady Golovkin is No. 4. Tim Bradley came next on the Lamps list.
The death of Mexican Franky Leal, age 26, was discussed. That reminds us, Lampley said, that most boxers campaign off big stages, and take huge risks. He sent heartfelt condolences to his family.
Provo topped “The Gatti List.” Leo Santa Cruz came next. Sergey Kovalev followed. Adonis Stevenson came behind Kovalev. Manny Pacquiao returned to the list.
Lampley paid homage to Emanuel Steward, one year after his death. His legacy lives, Lampley said, as his students racked up and continue to notch wins after he left this plane. He said Manny lives on in Detroit, and “where-ever there is boxing, Emanuel Steward lives.” Superbly summarised kicker, sir.