Over the past two weeks, there have been a whirlwind of boxing announcements as networks, promoters, managers and fighters position themselves for the sports' major events in 2011. At the top of the pyramid is the apparent schism between HBO and promoter Bob Arum, who has shifted his top two draws, Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, to Showtime pay-per-view, reviving that long-dormant franchise.
Lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez officially was named fighter of the year for 2010 by the Boxing Writers Association of America, whereupon he was stripped of the WBC title for passing on a mandatory defense against Sebastian Zbik to meet HBO-approved undefeated WBO 154-pound champion Sergei Dzinziruk in a middleweight bout. Oh, and it will take place March 12 from Foxwoods in Mashantucket, Conn., opposite Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga on Showtime PPV from Las Vegas.
Before we get into the pros and cons of the budding HBO-Showtime/Arum conflict, let's take a moment to recognize Main Events promoter Kathy Duva for what she has achieved in the past two months. First, she won a purse bid to match Zab Judah, her promotional partner, against Kaizer Mabuza for the vacant IBF junior welterweight title March 5 at Amerihealth Pavilion at Newark's Prudential Center. That bout will be on Integrated Sports PPV, but it's sure to be priced reasonably for local boxing fans.
Then, Duva made good on her quest to get Polish heavyweight Tomasz Adamek, who has a large following in the metro area, a heavyweight title fight against either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko. Wladimir, 34, holds the IBF and WBO titles, and Vitali, 39, has the WBC belt. The only disappointment for area fans is that the bout won't be at Pru Center, as originally hoped.
It will take place in September in Poland. Adamek will have an interim bout in Katowice, Poland, in April while waiting to see which Klitschko he will fight. Vitali is matched against Cuban Odlanier Solis on March 19 in Cologne, Germany, and of all the rising heavyweight contenders, I give Solis the best chance to spring an upset. Wladimir faces England's Dereck Chisora on April 30 in Mannheim, Germany, and should have no trouble winning.
If both Klitschkos win, Adamek is expected to wind up meeting Wladimir. How did Duva do it? Persistence and a longtime relationship with Shelly Finkel, who announced his retirement a year ago but still advises the Klitschkos.
Duva - and Judah - stand to benefit from one more old-time Main Events relationship. Hall of Famer Pernell "Sweetpea" Whitaker is going to work with Judah to help him prepare for the Mabuza bout. Since Whitaker is a lefty, like Judah, and an expert at fighting a slick defensive style, it should be a match made in heaven.
Judah was lucky to escape his last bout against Argentina's Lucas Matthysse with a split-decision victory at the Pru, and he can't allow himself to get trapped into a brawl, as he did in the latter rounds of that fight. If he wins the IBF title, Judah can put himself in the 140-pound mix with WBA champion Amir Khan and the winner of last night's bout in Pontiac, Mich., between WBO champion Timothy Bradley and WBC champion Devon Alexander.
As for the situation at welterweight, light middleweight and middleweight, all are related to the HBO-Showtime/Arum conflict. On the one hand, competition between the networks is a good thing for boxing. On the other hand, the matchups aren't ideal. Pacquiao-Shane Mosley on May 5 serves no purpose except to line Arum's pockets since he has both fighters.
The best bout for Martinez would have been Cotto at 154, but Cotto would have been at risk. So he's fighting Mayorga, who has gone 4-4 over the past eight years. Martinez gets stuck fighting Dzinziruk, who might be as skilled as promoter Lou DiBella claims, but is largely an unknown to the American public. Splitting the PPV audience on March 12 hurts everyone involved.