Tampa Bay Sports Day

Boxing Notebook

A home coming win for Hopkins and Roy Jones could be next: Bernard Hopkins hoped to get Roy Jones Jr. as his next opponent in May. After he defeated Mexico’s Enrique Ornales with a unanimous 12-round decision at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia Pennsylvania Wednesday evening, there were doubts about the fight with Jones. When he woke up Wednesday morning, the boxing world got news from Australia about the veteran Jones losing by knockout in the first round to Australian native Danny Green.    

Hopkins went to work Wednesday evening at the homecoming fight tabbed as “The Broad Street Brawl.” He last fought in his hometown in 2003 when he defended the middleweight title against Morrade Hakkar. Scores at ringside from the judges were 118-110, 120-109, and 119-109 that showed his dominance in getting his 50th professional win. And afterwards, Hopkins claimed the fight with Jones can still be made.

“When they told me he lost, I asked ‘How did he lose,’” said Hopkins who will turn 45-years of age in seven weeks.  The former middleweight and light heavyweight champion fought Jones 17 years ago and was back in the ring after a 14-month hiatus after defeating middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik at 174 pounds.

The 29-year-old Ornales (29-6, 19 Ko’s) landed some good punches in the third round and was able to stay in there with Hopkins, but the former champion showed he can still take a punch avoiding a good right uppercut by Ornalis in the fourth round.

And in the sixth round, Hopkins briefly caught Ornalis with a good combination but he    was able to counter. But after the fourth round, Hopkins seemed to take control of the fight. He took the next three rounds by finding and using his right uppercut to his advantage.

“I blocked it out of my mind,” said Hopkins of the Jones result. To keep interest in another fight with Jones, Hopkins quickly defended Jones regarding the quick stoppage. “When you have someone like Roy Jones Jr, he deserves the benefit of the doubt,” he said. “He was fighting that guy in his hometown and I think they stopped the fight prematurely.”

Jones appeared to still be on his feet and never hit the canvas. “I think I can still fight him,” commented Hopkins about Jones. “He went out on his feet, not on his back. Let him defend himself or quit before you stop the fight.”

As for Ornalis, there was no reason for shame. He never went down and made it interesting at times. “I give him a lot of credit,” he said about Hopkins. “He’s one of the best. I know I was the underdog.  I wanted to show him just because I am smaller I wasn’t going to back up. I am really proud and I was here for the challenge,”

The question now is will the public buy a fight, a possible pay-per-view encounter of Hopkins against Jones?  Hopkins believes it can still happen, but a more intriguing possibility is Hopkins moving to the heavyweight division and challenging David Haye who was recently crowned the new WBA heavyweight champion.

WILLIAMS FACES MARTINEZ ON THE BOARDWALK:  HBO Sports salvaged the show Saturday evening at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City New Jersey and kept middleweight Paul Williams busy.  First it was supposed to be against middleweight champion Kelly Palvik for the title.

But Palvik a month ago had to be pulled because of a continuing staph infection on his right hand. In stepped New York based promoter Lou DiBella and he worked a deal with Goosen Tutor Promotions who handles Williams.  It will be Sergio Martinez (44-1) of Argentina, a DiBella fighter facing Williams, 12-rounds, on the HBO card Saturday evening

Williams, perhaps the most talented fighter in the middleweight division, will have a tough test,. He could have moved a bit up in weight and been a part of the “Super Six” Middleweight tournament that Showtime is televising.  Pavlik is still on the agenda and a win against Martinez could still make that fight happen.

The co-main event features the Mexican Cristobal Arreola facing Brian Minto. It will be Arreola’s first fight since losing to WBC heavyweight title against Vitali Klitschko. The HBO telecast begins at 9pm.

NEW YORK WLCOMES BACK FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMP LOPEZ:  Madison Square Garden, in the adjacent WaMu Theatre will once again will welcome WBO junior featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez on January 23, 2010 on an HBO televised “Boxing After Dark” telecast that will also feature WBA featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa of Cuba.

Lopez and Gamboa will once again be showing their skills in separate title bouts. The hope is if both fighters prevail, Top Rank, promoters of the card will put the two in the ring at the Garden in June. The most likely date would be on the eve of the National Puerto Rican Parade in mid June. That is a date that former WBO welterweight champion Miguel Cotto always had.

But Cotto, resting in Puerto Rico is talking about retirement sometime next year after losing to Manny Pacquiao last month in what was the most anticipated fight of the year. “Cotto has made his money and is looking at two more fights and then leaving the ring,” said Ricardo Jimenez of Top Rank at the Lopez-Gamboa Garden press conference Thursday afternoon.

Lopez (27-0, 24 KO’s) from Caguas Puerto Rico has defended his title five times, four by knockout but had a hard time getting the tough 12-round decision at the Garden back in October against Rogers Mtagwa.  He will oppose WBO Featherweight champion Steven Luevano (37-1-1, 15 KO’s) of La Puente California.  Mtagwa (26-13, 2, 18KO’s) a top ten featherweight takes on the 16-0 undefeated Gamboa in the co main event, a 12-round fight for the title.

“I am not looking ahead,” commented Lopez when asked about an eventual fight with Gamboa.   He commented that his last fight in New York against Mtagwa was harder than expected. “I have to do better,” he said.  “I love fighting at the Garden. I come to fight all the time.”  And that means doing his part and possibly setting up the eventual fight with Gamboa.

Throwing the punches: Top Rank promote Bob Arum had a legitimate reason and a good one to not be at his press conference in New York Thursday, He was busy in the Philipinnes and successful getting his welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao to agree and fight Floyd Mayweather Jr, for the title.

Earlier this week, Mayweather, who will also be a promoter of the fight, dispatched Golden Boy Promoter Richard Schaffer to meet Arum and Mayweather agreed. So the Oscar De La Hoya Golden Boy outfit will also be involved in the fight one way or the other.

The date set is March 13 on HBO pay-per-view and could set the all-time boxing PPV record, also becoming a fight more anticipated and coming with more hype than the recent Pacquiao-Cotto championship bout.  What remains is who gets what, with Mayweather obviously looking to get the better deal.

The other obstacle is where the fight will take place.  New York is out of the picture. Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium in the Bronx are not possible venues as promoters refuse to deal with the ridiculous tax structure that promoters and HBO will have to deal with.

There has been talk about the new stadium in Dallas where the football Cowboys play, but a leading source at Tip Rank said Thursday that the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, site of the Pacquiao-Cotto fight is the leading contender to play host. Vegas offers the free rooms and meals, has plenty of accommodations, and the Nevada tax structure is so much easier to work with.

The difference is not having this fight in New York will give promoters, the pay-per-view affiliates, fighters and trainers 50 percent more of the revenue that would otherwise go to the stingy and corrupt New York State government tax system. ..

Maybe because it is close to an end of the year thing but on the ridiculous side because boxing kills itself by events of the past week with the amount of press conferences, teleconference media calls, and fights.  Two press conferences in New York this week, the Hopkins fight in Philadelphia, another show in Manhattan Thursday night, and the Williams fight in Atlantic City Saturday,

The promoters earlier this year formed an alliance and said they would get on the same page.  Yeah, not for the boxing fan and the media who cover this stuff. Because we either have nothing or too much,

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com