Monday Morning Cornermen (April 16 edition)

In this section of The Sweet Science, we step back and take a critical look at the fights that took place on the previous weekend to create a final wrap-up of all the major boxing events. Follow us every Monday at #MMCatTSS and @TSSboxingnews  

Boxing is Back in the Wrong Section of the News

Even considering the amount of information traveling around the world at light speed, it is unusual to see boxing featured in the mainstream media or anywhere else other than the back pages of the sports section. But this week was different. This week, boxing was back in the news and in the world of trending topics of social media worldwide, but for the wrong reasons.

In a fight that took place in Indio, California, on Thursday, April 12, Mexico’s Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas (25-1-2, 18 KOs), a proven road warrior who was involved in two FOTY-worthy bouts and many more grueling battles, was facing Pennsylvania native Rod Salka (24-5-0, 0 KOs) in what was expected to be a comeback bout for Vargas, a wide favorite to win the fight. But apparently, being a headliner against a former champion on a major sports network did not stop Salka from pulling a tasteless stunt that could have hardly gone right.

Salka, as it has been famously and extensively covered in the “Irony and Sarcasm” section of news cycles worldwide, appeared in the ring wearing a pair of shorts depicting what appeared to be a wall made with red, white and blue bricks, and with the Trump-trademark “America 1st” motto in bright letters on his waist. It would have been a silly move even if he had been the favorite against a Mexican fighter who could have scored extra points with his “base” by knocking him out and thus fulfill in some way the promise inscribed on his trunks. Instead, he was stopped in six rounds after taking a merciless beating and being sent to the canvas, giving the Internet an instant video-meme that reached far beyond the boundaries of the fight game fandom. One could say that his intentions backfired, but we’re not sure what could have been considered the right outcome of such a classless move.

Now, Salka, who became synonymous with the word “overachiever” after his undeserved challenge of Danny Garcia in a Showtime main event back in 2014, has another rather controversial line in his unimpressive resume that will do very little to help him get another chance in the big time.

And we can only hope that he is not planning to bill Vargas or the Mexican government for the cost of his trunks. That would just be overkill, really. – Diego M. Morilla

Pacquiao pulls a Trumpian 180 on Roach

One day he’s all against telegraphing his next moves, the next day he’s doing just that. We’re talking, of course, about the president of the most powerful nation in the world. And if he can’t stop flip-flopping on issues such as ending the arms race, who are we to ask some lowly Filipino senator to do the opposite?

And yet, that’s what the honorable Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao is doing: following the example of Donald Trump in erasing with the elbow what he just wrote with his hand – and then writing something different with the other hand. At least that’s what we could infer from the back-and-forth between him and his longtime trainer Freddie Roach in the lead-up to Manny’s next big fight, this time against Argentine banger Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur, Malasia, on June 15.

“Contrary to statements which I personally did not make that are circulating in the media, I have not made my final decision who will be my head trainer for my July 14 fight with Matthysse,” said Pacquiao in a recent statement, after reading in the press that Roach had voiced his disappointment after being apparently sidelined (or worse). “My advisor Mike Koncz has been in contact with Freddie’s people to keep them informed. I will make a final decision within the week. When that decision is made, Freddie will be the first one to be informed and then I will advise the media.”

Spoken like a true presidential candidate, indeed. — Diego M. Morilla

Cosmetic Surgery

If you read the Mexican press, you may have noticed that Canelo Alvarez is routinely called out for being just a “pretty boy” with a girly voice who avoids getting punched at all costs just to keep his matinee idol looks intact. But it takes a special kind of coquettish personality to have cosmetic surgery performed on your knees, of all places.

That alone should have raised concerns about the statement issued by Canelo’s promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, in regards to Alvarez’s trip to the hospital in the wake of the cancellation of his anticipated rematch against Gennady Golovkin. But that’s what we heard from them after it was revealed that Canelo had undergone surgery at a private hospital in his native Jalisco. When consulted, Golden Boy president Eric Gomez stated his surgery was “cosmetic” and nothing serious.

And of course, it wasn’t. Soon enough, Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) issued a statement on the contrary, releasing a statement saying that “I had to undergo an arthroscopic surgery to repair the internal femoral cartilage, and to eliminate a fold in my right knee. I dismiss the erroneous information published by Golden Boy president Eric Gomez. Thanks for worrying, and in three to four weeks I’ll be like new.”

The issue is already bad enough as a PR blunder, but with a disciplinary hearing scheduled for April 18 with the Nevada State Athletic Commission regarding Canelo’s recent two positive tests for low levels of clenbuterol in February, and with the fighter literally tied to a hospital bed for the foreseeable future, it seems like this is a great time for the GBP team to gather ‘round and get their communications strategy together. Giving conflicting versions of a minor surgery to the press is one thing, but doing the same in front of the mighty NSAC could result in further delays in Canelo’s career. – Diego M. Morilla

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