We fight fans have to move on

Here we go again. Instead of bathing in the afterglow of a possible fight of the year, we're left addressing the issue of another boxing disgrace.

If you tuned in to Showtime on Saturday to watch Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo III, you were instead treated to a blow-by-blow account of why - for the second time in a row - that Castillo failed to make the 135-pound weight limit.

And instead of Corrales once again allowing Castillo to get away with it by fighting him without his lightweight belt on the line in an over-the-weight match, he chose not to repeat his mistake (he was stopped in four by the stronger Castillo in October).

Good move by Corrales and bad news for boxing fans, who were left to watch IBF flyweight titlist Vic Darchinyan work over Luis Maldonado.

Rather than trying to place where in the hierarchy of great trilogies Corrales-Castillo belongs, we get more news from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which meted out some well-deserved punishment to Zab and (his father/trainer) Yoel Judah, trainer Roger Mayweather and cornerman Leonard Ellerbee for their parts in an in-ring melee during the Floyd Mayweather-Zab Judah fight on April 8.

Newly appointed NSAC executive director Keith Kizer (who replaced Marc Ratner in mid-May) said Tuesday the commission is in the process of putting together a complaint this week, which will then be served to Castillo, 54-7-1 with 47 knockouts, of Mexicali, Mexico.

Kizer said upon receipt of the complaint, the 32-year-old Castillo will have 20 days to answer it and will be provided with an opportunity to present his side of the story.

The matter will then be left up to five commission members as to what - if any - punishment could be doled out, possibly including a fine and/or suspension and license revocation.

That said, no amount of punishment is going to replace such a compelling rubber match. Nothing can substitute for the kind of show the two warriors put on in May 2005, which rivaled the 1985 war between Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns for its level of unparalleled excitement.

I can't speak for anyone but my own inner boxing fan, but I don't give a fiddler's flatus why Castillo couldn't or wouldn't make weight. Save the excuses for Court TV. I have to do what boxing fans usually have to do following yet another disappointment: move on and hope the pages of the calendar fly forward to a day when I can see a great fight.

Chances are, one of those fights won't involve Castillo, who will most likely be forced to pay a fine he can't afford - his promoter Bob Arum footed the bill last time, but won't this time. And he will probably be suspended, which removes him from any superfights in the near future.

Corrales' promoter, Gary Shaw, hasn't returned phone calls, so "Chico's" future is up in the air. Possible opponent Ricky Hatton's management team has indicated that its fighter can't put his career on hold and will most likely defend his recently won WBA welterweight belt against Oktay Urkal within four months, so that pretty much douses any hopes of that mega-fight anytime soon.

So while the 28-year-old Corrales, 40-3 (33), decides where to go next, we are left with two pay-per-view fights to choose from this weekend, neither of which is worth paying for and neither of which promises to be exciting.

With that being said, I'll break down both fights and try and pick a couple of winners.

The marquee matchup of the two is an HBO Pay-Per-View contest featuring light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver, 24-3 (18), defending his crown against former middleweight champion Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins, 46-4-1 (32) with one no-contest, who is claiming that this will be his final fight.

The 37-year-old Tarver will be stepping back in the ring for the first time since bulking up to 213 pounds to serve as actor Sylvester Stallone's foil in the upcoming movie Rocky Balboa.

His last real fight was a pedestrian effort against Roy Jones back in October, in which he took a 12-round unanimous decision to win the rubber match.

The 41-year-old Hopkins is coming off a pair off losses at middleweight to young gun Jermain Taylor, in which Hopkins did too little fighting and too much complaining over the decisions.

Hopkins has been quoted extensively in the press and boxing Web sites, comparing his task to that of the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson, who unsuccessfully moved up from middleweight to challenge light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim in 1952.

The Executioner evidently has a short memory and/or poor research skills if he believes he'd be the only former middleweight champion to win the light heavyweight crown.

Bob Fitzsimmons was the first to do it back in 1903, after having first won the heavyweight title (in Carson City) after originally winning the middleweight championship.

Several others followed, including Dick Tiger, Thomas Hearns, Jones, Iran Barkley, James Toney, Mike McCallum, Reggie Johnson and, technically, Sugar Ray Leonard, who won the vacant super middleweight and light heavyweight straps by forcing 175-pound beltholder Donny Lalonde to fight at a catch-weight.

Any way you slice it, Hopkins would be making history only in his deluded mind if he should beat the equally deluded Tarver, who feels he should be campaigning at heavyweight.

Here's what will happen. Tarver, a southpaw, will be the more active fighter early, but will tire late against the ever defensive-minded Hopkins, who will probably rally late.

Hopkins has a shot to win, however. Tarver lost one of his two fights with former Hopkins knockout victim Glencoffe Johnson, who is mainly just a slow, straight-ahead banger.

Neither fighter will knock out the other. It will be, at best, intriguing, but not exciting.

Quick pick: I'm tempted to pick Hopkins. He has been training with fitness guru Mackey Shilstone, who helped light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks gain 30 pounds and upset heavyweight kingpin Larry Holmes in 1985.

I'd lay money that Tarver is underestimating Hopkins. But Hopkins isn't active enough to force the fight the whole 12 rounds and Tarver does have some gumption. It should be a close fight, either a split-decision or a draw. Put my feet to the fire and I'll take Tarver by split-decision in a controversial fight that may lead to a rematch.

The other fight on Showtime Pay-Per-View pits WBO junior welterweight titlist Miguel Cotto, 26-0 (22), of Caguas, Puerto Rico, against Paulie Malignaggi, 21-0 (5), of Brooklyn.

At times the 25-year-old Cotto has looked like a future superstar, stopping the likes of Kelson Pinto, Victoriano Sosa, Randall Bailey, Muhammad Abdulaev, and Gianluca Branco - all tough fighters.

But in his knockout wins over DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley and Ricardo Torres, Cotto found himself in trouble when he tried to be a pure slugger. Torres even had him down before Cotto rallied for the win in an exciting fight.

The 25-year-old Malinaggi is a 5-foot-7 question mark. To say he is flamboyant is an understatement. Forget comparisons to a young, quick-handed Hector Camacho Sr. Malignaggi brings to mind figure skater Johnny Weir, wearing glitter on his face during fights, skating around his slower, frustrated opponents while peppering them with lightning counters and avoiding harm by dancing away from their punches.

Again, this will be an intriguing - not exciting - fight. As with Hopkins, Malignaggi stands a chance at an upset simply because styles make fights and Cotto's machismo will prevent him from fighting a technical fight, which plays into Malignaggi's hands.

But Malignaggi has yet to face the kind of opposition Cotto has. And he has a snowball's chance in hell of scoring a knockout.

Still, I think he'll give Cotto more trouble than people expect.

Quick pick: Cotto by decision. He may take a lot of shots to land his own, but Cotto is too big, too strong, too skilled and too determined to lose this fight.

Again, neither fight is worth paying for. And HBO will replay Tarver-Hopkins the following Saturday. Order them both or order Cotto-Malignaggi to save some money and watch the Tarver-Hopkins replay next week.

Neither fight may be Corrales-Castillo III, but we boxing fans need to move on and these intriguing - not exciting - fights are our only choices. And who knows, maybe the "Theater of the Unexpected" will have a little surprise in store for us.

That's the sick fan in me talking and you have to be sick to keep coming back for more after boxing's endless parade of disappointments.


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