News from and views on the world of boxing:
• In perhaps the best news to hit boxing consumers since ESPN and Top Rank launched a weekly boxing series in 1980, the Outdoor Life Network has announced it will be teaming up with Top Rank in televising monthly pay-per-view fights.
OLN has already become a cult favorite by televising the National Hockey League, the Tour de France and Professional Bull Riders, and its foray into the world of boxing should only further the network's bid to challenge what has become a de facto sports broadcasting monopoly in ESPN.
According to Bruce Trampler, matchmaker for Top Rank, the first card is slated for July 27 at the Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville, Conn., and will feature middleweight contender Kelly Pavlik.
Pavlik, 27-0, with 24 knockouts, of Youngstown, Ohio, who will face veteran southpaw Bronco McKart, 48-6 (31), for the NABF middleweight title.
At 6-foot-3 the 24-year-old Pavlik also brings a solid amateur background in addition to his punching power and height. Trampler has successfully navigated Pavlik to this point and in Pavlik's last fight he stopped Colombian slugger Fulgencio Zuniga in nine rounds.
If Pavlik, ranked No. 10 by The Ring magazine, beats McKart, who dropped three fights to former world junior middleweight champion Winky Wright, he may be in line for a world title shot in the near future.
The other main fight on the card will feature Anthony "The Messenger" Thompson, 21-1 (15), taking on Mohammad Said, 17-4-1 (10), in a 10-round middleweight contest.
Former ESPN Friday Night Fights commentator Joe Papa will team with longtime boxing scribe Wally Mathews in calling the action.
Trampler said the second OLN card would be televised from The Orleans, in Las Vegas.
• In a more immediate PPV matchup, Manny Pacquiao will take on Oscar Larios on Saturday. The card will be shown on InDemand beginning at 6 p.m.
Fred Sternburg, publicist for Gary Shaw Productions, said Tuesday that Pacquiao, 41-3-2 (32), would face Larios at Araneta Coliseum, in Quezon City, The Philippines, site of "The Thrilla in Manila" - the third meeting of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
The 27-year-old Pacquiao, of General Santos City in The Philippines, is coming off a 10-round rematch destruction of Erik Morales, whom he's slated to meet in a rubber match at Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas, on Nov. 18.
The 29-year-old Larios, of Guadalajara, Mexico, defended his WBC super bantamweight crown seven times before being stopped by fellow Mexican Israel Vazquez in three rounds in his last fight.
The electric Pacquiao, known as the "Pac Man," also owns a knockout over Marco Antonio Barrera and is ranked No.1 by The Ring at 130 pounds.
Quick pick: I'm going with Pacquiao via five-round knockout. Although Sternburg said Larios, ranked No. 2 at 122 pounds by The Ring, has trained for a month in Japan and said he's stronger at 130 pounds, he weighed only 120-plus against Vazquez.
Pacquiao, who also won titles at 112, 122 and 126, is no ordinary 130-pounder. He's a relentless, explosive puncher who has fought the best in opponents like Barrera, Morales and former featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Marquez, whom he floored three times in the first round before settling for a disputed draw.
Even though he's taller at 5'8 (Pacquiao is 5-6-plus), I don't think Larios has the power, style, or the chin to keep off the power-punching left-hander, who will also be fighting in front of his home fans.
- According to Classic Entertainment and Sports promoter Jimmy Burchfield, Reno's "Koncrete" Kelvin Davis will return to action July 7 against Charles Shufford at the Cape Cod Melody Tent, in Hyannis, Mass.
The 28-year-old Davis, 21-4-1 (16), became the first Northern Nevadan to win a world title when he knocked out Ezra Sellers to win the IBF cruiserweight strap in May 2004.
Davis will be fighting Shufford, 20-6 (9), at heavyweight and is coming off a pair of defeats to Guillermo Jones and Steve Cunningham. After his promoter, Don King, wouldn't let him weigh in for his 2005 fight with current cruiserweight champion O'Neil Bell at the Savvis Center, in St. Louis, Mo., the IBF subsequently stripped him of his title.
Against the 6-foot-3 Shufford, who unsuccessfully challenged then WBO heavyweight titlist Wladimir Klitschko (now the IBF beltholder), the 5-7 Davis will be giving up 8 inches in height.
Shufford, of Las Vegas, holds a win over former WBO titlist Lamon Brewster, but last fought in May 2004, when he dropped a 10-round decision against Samuel Peter.
Davis has been inactive since his fight with Cunnningham - which he took on a week's notice - in Sept. 2005.
The Davis-Shufford fight will be on the undercard of the Joey Spina-Jay Pina main event. Spina is coming off a come-from-behind 11-round TKO over Yerington's Jesse Brinkley on May 10.
The bouts will be shown on ComCast Network.
- A source close to former IBF super middleweight titlist Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy said the slugger from St. Petersburg, Fla., will face former world light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver, of Orlando, Fla., on Oct. 7.
The 29-year-old Lacy, 21-1 (17), is coming off a one-sided defeat at the hands of world super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe on March 4 and the 37-year-old Tarver lost his championship to Bernard Hopkins on June 10.
When reached for comment on Tuesday, Dan Birmingham, Lacy's trainer, could not confirm the fight is a go, but acknowledged it's one Lacy wants and has been lobbying Tarver for.
"He'd love to fight Tarver," Birmingham said of Lacy. "He had an off-night against Calzaghe and it would be a huge fight in Tampa. It would draw 15,000-20,000 people. He's feeling great and has had a lot of time to reflect. He's ready to re-dedicate himself. Calzaghe is a great fighter. He showed me a lot. But I think if Jeff was himself, the result would be totally different."
- I'm going to have to go against Birmingham, who believed his fighter, Wright, won his match against world middleweight champion Jermain Taylor two weeks ago.
While I agree with Birmingham that Wright blocked a lot of Taylor's punches, he didn't block several powerful body and head punches, which I thought gave Taylor the nod (the fight was declared a draw).
I could care less what CompuBox statistics say because they don't tell you how effective a punch is or even if there's a knockdown. I thought Taylor for the most part fought the fight he needed to win - he stayed mobile (for the most part) and punched in combination.
Taylor, now 25-0-1 (17), landed the far more powerful shots, several of which either stopped Wright in his tracks or even moved him back. I saw Wright's legs betray him on several occasions after being hit and his lack of the aggression in the final round - in my eyes - was the result of taking those hard shots and fatigue, not because he thought he had the fight in the bag.
And, contrary to what Richard Hoffer wrote in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, Taylor's left eye did not close because of Wright's right jab, but rather from a headbutt, which was clear on replay.
Contrarily, Wright's marked face was for the most part a result of Taylor's punches, while the damage on his left eye was from a butt.
Either way, it would make a nice rematch.