For all of his other faults as a boxing promoter and human being, Don King used to put on a hell of a pay-per-view card. It's something that boxing had gotten away from for years before a recent focus by promoters on trying to beef up their undercards, possibly in response to the UFC's "the event is the thing" approach. It's still not reliable that undercards deliver the goods, but events like Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito have shown a shift in thinking with multiple quality fights.
The May 5 HBO pay-per-view event headlined by Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto is not exactly one of these "new view" cards, however. Let's take a run through the fights that will be appearing before Mayweather and Cotto step through the ropes.
Shane Mosley vs. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez
This is a fight designed to look like a "second main event" for the night. Mosley (46-7-1, 39 KO) still carries with him a considerable amount of name value, based on a lengthy career which saw significant time spent as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet. Canelo is a young, undefeated stud who represents the next wave of Mexican superstars.
The problem with this fight isn't the general public's knowledge of the fighters, it's with age. In the year of the 21 year old Alvarez's birth, Mosley was becoming the United States lightweight amateur champion and winning a bronze in the Goodwill Games. When Canelo was 10, Mosley was beating Oscar De La Hoya and had been well established as one of the top fighters in the sport.
Now 40, Mosley has put on exactly one good performance since 2008, his shocking upset of Antonio Margarito, moments after Margarito was found loading his hand wraps in the locker room. Beyond that it was an uneven performance against a limited and old Ricardo Mayorga, a horrible fight that ended in a draw against middling Sergio Mora and losing 23 of 24 combined rounds against Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.
While there is no shame in getting trounced by Pacquiao and Mayweather, the two best boxers on the planet, it's the way it went down. Other than the first round against Floyd, Mosley offered no real resistance and showed no willingness to pull the trigger and try to fight back. The man we've seen in the ring is not the battling warrior that boxing fans grew to love and respect, he's someone who looks content to "play opponent" and just try to get to the scorecards.
Alvarez (39-0-1, 29 KO) has his own liabilities, he's got some holes defensively and his 39-0-1 record has come against questionable competition. Of course, he's still far ahead of where almost every other 21 year-old would be in their development, having turned pro at 16. He's also got solid power and commendable tenacity. There's just something about Canelo that is the clear marking of a fighter when you watch him operate. Yes, his footwork may be clunky at times and his body might not always be correctly positioned, but he's a guy who loves the fight and, quite frankly, is pretty damn good at it.
This is boxing, stranger things than the legendary Shane Mosley defeating a lightly-tested 21 year old have happened. But, again, Mosley is 40 and it's been five years since we've seen him fight like a top-level fighter with any hint of consistency. If I trusted him to fight like he did against Cotto in 2007, I'd pick Shane in a heartbeat. But this is 2012 and logic dictates that I take 'Canelo' Alvarez by decision.
Jessie Vargas vs. Steve Forbes
Forbes (35-10, 11 KO) comes in as a late replacement, stepping in for an injured Alfonso Gomez. He's been around the block once or twice and now he's starting to break down on the tail end of an unspectacular, but ultimately respectable, career. Reaching the finals of "The Contender" and being used as a tune-up opponent for Oscar De La Hoya will remain Forbes' claims to fame after he steps away from the sport.
Much like Mosley, it's been years since Forbes looked particularly impressive and he's fighting over his best competing weights.
Vargas (18-0, 9 KO) is a solid fighter who has put on a good show several times in his young career. His bout with Josesito Lopez on the undercard of Mayweather vs. Ortiz was a really entertaining battle that saw Vargas pushed hard but come out with the narrow split decision.
Both men lack any punching power of note, which means that we're probably in for all ten rounds. Forbes will give it his best, but his best isn't good enough at this point. The hope for Vargas is that he manages to get through this fight without any issues and start moving toward a shot at one of the numerous alphabet titles floating around boxing. That should happen as I see Jessi
e Vargas winning by decision.
Deandre Latimore vs. Carlos Quintana
Latimore (23-3, 17 KO) and Quintana (28-3, 22 KO) are similar in the respect that their biggest moments didn't quite extend into their careers to the extent many thought they would. Latimore pulled off an upset on Friday Night Fights over Sechew Powell in 2008, but didn't turn that into a big career like many envisioned, instead seeming almost to shift down a bit, even dropping a rematch to Powell before signing with Mayweather Promotions (Floyd Mayweather's promotional company without a promoter's license) and putting on a dud against Milton Nunez on ShoBox.
Quintana was the first man to beat Paul Williams, taking a deserved decision over him in February 2008. He would end up knocked out in the first round of their rematch that June, but he still had a "marquee win" that he'll carry with him the rest of his career. Aside from the two bouts with Williams, Quintana has also fought Miguel Cotto and Andre Berto, both stoppage losses. So it's not really up for debate who has faced better opposition.
Looking at the promoters involved and seeing Latimore's association with the Mayweathers and knowing how Al Haymon (who does have his hands in Deandre's career these days) conducts business, one would think Quintana is a hand picked opponent. I'd agree if I thought Deandre had more power than he does, given that his stoppage rate dropped significantly after taking the "step-up" in his career. Instead, I think Quintana outworks an ineffective, non-aggressive Deandre Latimore over ten rounds for a decision win.