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Round by Round: Weekly Boxing Notes

Wherefore Art Thou, Margs?
↵There’s been a strange turn of events in the ongoing negotiations to put Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley in the ring together for a marquee welterweight title fight in January. First there was Margarito intimating that Mosley did not actually want to fight him, that he wasn’t up to the challenge, that it was all a bold but barren marketing ploy by Golden Boy to get another opponent for Mosley. Then there was word that HBO simply didn’t have the budget for such a big-money but non-PPV bout in the first quarter of 2009. Finally, there was the issue of getting the fighters to agree to a split of what money there was to be had. ↵

↵All of that appears to have been ironed out, however, and the word since last week was that the fight was a done deal. Golden Boy and Shane Mosley have signed off on the terms of the contract on their end. All that’s left to happen would seem to be the easiest piece of the puzzle, for the tough-talking, always game Tony Margarito to sign on the dotted line. ↵

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↵But suddenly, according to numerous sources, the indestructible Tony Margs is nowhere to be found. He was invited this week to the offices of his promoter, Top Rank, to sign off on the Mosley deal but he didn’t show, and now no one knows where he is. According to Bob Arum, he can’t even get Margarito to return his phone calls. ↵

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↵In this article in the L.A. Times, Margarito’s untimely disappearance is suspected as a ploy for more money in the Mosley contract, which evidently stands right now as a 50/50 split between the two fighters. Could Margs really believe that he deserves a 60/40 split with Sugar Shane? Yes, he is the man carrying the belts into the equation, and he’s coming off his career-making destruction of Miguel Cotto last summer, but still, by the terms of that interstellar parlor game known as “Q factor,” I think Shane still brings a little more cosmic weight to the equation. Not surprisingly, Mosley agrees with that assessment, saying that he felt all along that he was the bigger star and deserved more money, but that he took the 50/50 breakdown anyway just to get the deal done. ↵

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↵If, after all of the twists and turns these negotiations have gone through, Margarito now chooses to hold up, or even scotch altogether, a fight with Mosley because of a money squabble, he’s going to risk looking like he has ulterior motives in backing out that have nothing to do with his bank account. Myself, I can’t help but wonder if the news that Miguel Cotto is likely to get a very soft shot at a welterweight belt in February, facing British fighter Michael Jennings for the vacant WBO title, is influencing Margarito’s stance on the Mosley situation at all. Certainly the biggest fight out there for Margarito in terms of money and reputation is the rematch with Cotto tentatively set for next summer. So now Cotto gets a soft touch for his interim bout and Margarito is supposed to take on Shane Mosley? ↵

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↵It’s not the best set-up for him, admittedly, but then given his reputation as The Meanest Hombre of Them All, Mr. I Take All Comers, not to mention how loud he was talking about Shane’s cowardice just a month ago, it seems to me like a bed of nails that Margarito made for himself. He has little choice now but to lie in it. ↵

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↵Haye Now, Haye Now
↵Though no marquee fights are scheduled this weekend, there are two bouts featuring big names going off tomorrow that have major consequences for the future. For my thoughts on the Jermain Taylor/Jeff Lacy fight, and the implications it has for Jermain’s career, check my preview over at No Mas. ↵

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↵The other notable fight tomorrow takes place at the O2 Arena in London, as David Haye makes his much-ballyhooed debut as heavyweight against ole Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett. ↵

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↵Haye, of course, is the British sensation who made a name for himself by beheading most of the cruiserweight class, most recently unifying the cruiserweight belts by demolishing the Enzo Calzaghe-trained Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli back in March. ↵

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↵Since then, there has been quite a bit of hype surrounding Haye’s move to the heavyweight division, most of it coming from Haye himself with his resounding promise to clean up the heavyweights once and for all. ↵

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↵So there is a quite a lot riding on this debut as a big boy tomorrow night for the brash Briton. Monte Barrett seems like a decent place to start his heavyweight redemption campaign. Monte is no spring chicken, 37 years old and well past his prime, which wasn’t much of a prime at that. Then again, Two Gunz is no pushover either. He’s been in there with the best heavyweights the division has had to offer over the past decade, Hasim Rahman and Wlad Klitschko among them (both losses, Klitschko by TKO in the 7th in 2000 after five knockdowns). ↵

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↵Just how Haye fares against this caliber of fighter should be an excellent gauge of what to expect from his Big Heavyweight Adventure and if we are justified in getting excited about the prospect of him eventually facing one (or both) of the Klitschko brothers. Because make no mistake about it -- any fighter who could legitimately hang with Wlad Klitschko right now would finish Two Gunz Barrett in five or less. If Monte takes Haye deep, give him any trouble at all in fact, then I and many other observers of the sweet science will be forced to wonder if Haye’s grandiose ambitions aren’t made of straw. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.