Boxing
Before, during, after: Paging through a cluttered notebook

By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor


Ocala, FL (Sports Network) - Sometimes, it's fun to be a boxing writer.

Aside from the weeks where the inbox is muddled with idiocy and others that are consumed by fallout when major events fall short, it's sort of cool to have stretches where something's always happening.

We're in the middle of one of those right now.

For me, it started a couple weeks ago with the annual voting column for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Seems the post-ballot piece in which I labeled Joe Frazier as "criminally" non-deserving of his place in Canastota has gotten more than a few people rankled.

I stand by my assertion that Joe doesn't belong. And I continue to find it amusing that, rather than pointing to his resume to argue their cases for induction, those who disagree with me instead say, "Well, sure he's questionable, but there are far worse reaches in there than him."

Not exactly the way they teach verbal parry in debate class.

But I don't necessarily disagree.

In retrospect, our man Joe may not be the first guy worthy of a culling, only the most celebrated and overrated inductee in proportion to his actual resume.

And if it'll make anyone/everyone happy, I concede there are others now in the Hall who'd be better left on the does-not-qualify list as well -- one Barry McGuigan, for example.

But please, for those even considering Arturo Gatti as ballot material, I beg of you... don't.

Let's not go through this again next year.

As for last Saturday's nonsense in Los Angeles, here are some words I rarely feel compelled to type.

Bravo to you, WBC.

I'm hardly the biggest fan of the sanctioning body immediately south of the border, but I'll be first to applaud the decision it made to restore Bernard Hopkins as light heavyweight champion.

Now don't misunderstand... I'm hardly a Bernard apologist.

In fact, though he'd done little to show superiority in five-plus minutes at Staples Center, I firmly believe Chad Dawson would have won had the fight continued on a natural 12-round course.

But even with that viewpoint, there's simply no way a sane, impartial man could have looked at the end of round two -- missed right hand/single-leg takedown/tap out -- and considered it clear evidence that Dawson deserved to leave that night with the title.

Seriously, it doesn't come close.

If you believe Dawson was and is the better man, fine. Nothing changes.

But if Hopkins was your champ going in, he was still your champ going out.

And while I'm typically quicker to assail its weaknesses than praise its strengths, it's clear here that the WBC assessed the goings-on -- regardless of what the boys in California decide in December -- and came to the correct conclusion without hiding behind red tape and waiting for others to do the dirty work.

It's a step in the right direction for a group too often in the wrong.

And now that I think about it, it's a lesson a long-preachy "Bible" ought to learn as well.

Meanwhile, looking ahead on the calendar, there's some good stuff coming up as well.

In just a few weeks, for example, it's the return of a guy a lot of folks consider best in the business.


In just a few weeks Manny Pacquiao will be back in the ring with a long-time nemesis.
But though I haven't swung to that side of the electorate -- sue me, I still think Floyd kicks his butt -- I count myself in the crowd excited to see Manny Pacquiao back in with a long-time nemesis.

I've seen both fights so far. And, while I'm hardly alone in thinking Juan Manuel Marquez did enough to win each time, neither nod in the Filipino's favor was on the level of high crime or misdemeanor.

If three of six judges gave him wins over two fights, I'm OK with their verdicts.

Problem is, given a hotly contested draw and a narrow split decision as the opening two acts, you'd be automatically inclined to expect a third go-round would be equal if not better.

I'm thinking... not so much.

While he was a normal-sized guy at 126 and 130 pounds, respectively, Manny was just small enough and just unpolished enough to be taken into deep waters by a tricky guy like Marquez -- who's been better than all but one foe not named Mayweather or Pacquiao since the turn of the century.

But as he's displayed since embarrassing Oscar De La Hoya three years ago, no one at 140 or above has stood a chance, even in the late going. And even at a few ounces less than the divisional limit, that doesn't figure to change for the Mexican in Act 3.

As much as I'd love to see Manny pushed, it doesn't happen here.

Instead, it's just another convincing beat-down of just another welterweight left-over.

Ho hum... Pacquiao in 7.

This week's title-fight schedule:

FRIDAY


IBF flyweight title -- Cagliari, Italy

Moruti Mthalane (champion) vs. Andrea Sarritzu (No. 4 contender)

Mthalane (27-2, 18 KO): Third title defense; Lost only fight outside South Africa (0-1, 0 KO)

Sarritzu (32-4-4, 12 KO): Third title fight (0-1-1, 0 KO); No wins over above-.500 fighters since 2007

Fitzbitz says: "Home turf won't help overmatched challenger." Mthalane in 10

SATURDAY

IBF mini flyweight title -- East London, South Africa

Nkosinathi Joyi (champion) vs. Katsunari Takayama (No. 1 contender)

Joyi (21-0, 15 KO): Second title defense; Defended against Takayama in January (NC 3)

Takayama (24-4, 10 KO): Sixth title fight (1-3, 0 KO, 1 NC); Held WBC title in 2005 (zero defenses)

Fitzbitz says: "Home-standing champion too much for long-term gatekeeper." Joyi by decision

IBF junior featherweight title -- Colima, MX

Takalani Ndlovu (champion) vs. Giovanni Caro (No. 5 contender)

Ndlovu (32-6, 18 KO): First title defense; Held IBO title in 2005-06 (three defenses)

Caro (22-9-4, 17 KO): First title fight; Fourth fight in 2011 (2-1, 1 KO)

Fitzbitz says: "After unlikely title win, new champ maintains success." Ndlovu by decision

WBA flyweight title -- Hermosillo, MX

Hernan Marquez (champion) vs. Luis Concepcion (No. 4 contender)

Marquez (31-2, 24 KO): Second title defense; Stopped Concepcion to win title in April (TKO 11)

Concepcion (23-2, 18 KO): Second title fight; First fight outside Panama

Fitzbitz says: "Flyweight Tyson gets it over with faster in rematch." Marquez in 8

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full- fledged title-holder -- no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.

Last week's picks: 3-1

Overall picks record: 346-118 (74.5 percent)

Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter.

Jabs, hooks or knockouts, Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at fitzbitz@msn.com.

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