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Round by Round: Weekly Boxing Notes

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Two big stories in the boxing universe this week, one potentially exciting (although potentially a little sad too) and one downright disheartening. In that this is boxing I’m talking about here, I’ll start with the bad news first… ↵

↵No Sugar Tonight in Margo’s Coffee
↵No sugar tonight in his tea! Ah, the Guess Who. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore. Long live rock. ↵

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↵But I digress. After a long, torturous negotiation, Antonio Margarito finally passed this week and scotched for good the fight between him and Sugar Shane Mosley that was tentatively scheduled for HBO on January 24th. The reason offered was that Margs wasn’t happy with the money (a reported total of $4 million) and he wasn’t happy splitting the take 50/50 with Mosley. In this piece by Steve Kim over at MaxBoxing, Margarito’s co-manager Sergio Diaz is quoted as saying, “Yeah, it’s Shane Mosley, but he had more of a name seven years ago. So Antonio really decided that he just wanted to move forward without Mosley and look for a bigger fight.” ↵

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↵Dah… good luck with that, Antonio. Seriously, man, who exactly is out there who will get you $2 million guaranteed right now? Andre Berto? Josh Clottey? What… does he think Floyd Mayweather is suddenly going to come out of retirement and fight him in February? ↵

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↵Somebody over at Top Rank needs to sit this guy down and explain to him that neither Floyd Mayweather nor Oscar De La Hoya will ever fight him. Never in Margarito’s career has he been paid as much upfront for a fight as he is being offered to fight Mosley. Not to mention the fact that, as everyone familiar with this negotiation knows well, a month ago Margs was talking loud in the press about what a chicken Mosley was, how Mosely would never step in the ring with him, how it was all a ploy by Golden Boy and how Shane probably “pissed his pants” when the negotiations got serious. ↵

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↵Well, it definitely seems like someone wet themselves, and Tony Margs has the stain on his crotch to prove it. Margarito’s team is citing the PPV success of his fight with Cotto last summer coupled with the poor numbers from the recent Mosley/Mayorga fight to try and make a case that Tony is such a huge star right now that the money on the table, and a 50/50 split with Mosley, is an insult. Sadly, I think Margarito himself actually believes this, which doesn’t augur well for his future. He should remember that he was the B-side in that Cotto fight, and that, yes, because of his astonishing performance he came out of it with more star-power than he’s ever had before, but that attention-spans are short in this media age and that he is still far from a can’t-miss marquee attraction right now. Maybe it would be taking a risk to fight a dangerous guy like Mosley before cashing in on the Cotto rematch, but #1 – Beating Mosley and then Cotto is the most dollars he will make in the first half of 2009 and is his quickest path to solidifying his stardom, and #2 – There was a time when Mr. Mean Hombre Margarito disdained the nambi-pambi risk aversion of big-time matchmaking. He used to talk like a “put him in front of me and I’ll fight him” kind of guy. I guess that was all talk. I, for one, am sorry to find that out. ↵

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↵Lennox Rising?
↵All week the rumors have been insistent. Vitali Klitschko is taking every chance he gets to tell the press that he and retired former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis have unfinished business after their 2003 bout was stopped due to a Klitschko cut. ↵

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↵That fight, over five years ago, was the last of Lennox’s career, and today the Lion is 43 years old. But the comeback talk started almost the moment that he left the ring, and now it seems to be at a fever pitch. Vitali is calling him out left and right. There are rumors that Lewis is training. And his former trainer, Manny Steward, recently told the UK Guardian that he himself wants to see a Lewis/Vitali Klitschko rematch. “Lennox does seem very happy in his retirement,” Steward said, “but you never can tell. The final chapter needs to be written.” ↵

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↵I didn’t put any stock in all the Lennox comeback talk before I heard that Manny Steward was sounding off about it. Manny is a savvy guy, and he and Lennox had a great relationship and now work as commentators at HBO. I sincerely doubt that Steward would be voicing his opinion about a Lennox/Klitschko rematch unless there already was some fire beneath that smoke. I doubt the whole thing is at go-time, but I have a feeling that Lennox is at least at that point where he’s putting out feelers, testing the waters as to just how big his return to the ring would be. ↵

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↵It would be big, and the prospect excites me. What with the meteoric rise of David Haye, the heavyweight division, which has been barren of interest for years now, could see not one but two must-see mega-bouts in 2009 -- the Lewis/Vitali rematch, and a bout between Haye and Vitali’s brother, Wladimir Klitschko. ↵

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↵Of course, there is always the possibility that Lennox’s return could prove tragic rather than electrifying, more Louis/Marciano than Leonard/Hagler. But Lennox is known to keep himself in good shape, and I imagine that before he pulls the trigger on this thing he will give his body a serious going-over to make sure that he has a fight or two left in him. As a fan who never has been in love with the Klitschkos, let me leave you with my dream scenario -- Lennox beats Vitali and Haye beats Wlad and we get Lennox/Haye in the winter of 2009 for the recognized lineal heavyweight championship of the world. Longshot? Aboslutely. But I dare to dream... ↵

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