The Neutral Corner
The monthly state-of-the-game report from SI.com's boxing experts.
 
April in Review
 

The Pound-for-Pound Top 15

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Impressive whipping of Mosley puts Money and Manny on collision course for megafight ... we hope.

2. Manny Pacquiao
In holding pattern after Mar. 13 shutout of Josh Clottey. Running for Congress in native Philippines.

3. Paul Williams
So called "most avoided man in boxing" is freakish specimen with work rate of lightweight and reach of heavyweight.

4. Juan Manuel Marquez
Lightweight champ is getting back on horse against Juan Diaz in rematch of Fight of the Year from 2009.

5. Chad Dawson
Fights WBC light heavyweight titlist Jean Pascal on Aug. 14 to unify belts, but we wish he'd fight Hopkins.

6. Bernard Hopkins
Didn't look spectacular in foul-filled victory over Roy Jones Jr., but still rates among world's best on merit.

7. Shane Mosley
Future Hall of Famer looked skittish and gun-shy against Mayweather but still competes at high level.

8. Nonito Donaire
Long-awaited rematch with Vic Darchinyan, projected for Aug. 21, could go bust over TV rights dispute.

9. Timothy Bradley
Injury caused Marcos Maidana to pull out of July 17 bout. Bradley hopes to keep date vs. another opponent.

10. Juan Manuel Lopez
Bob Arum wants to put Lopez against Yuriorkis Gamboa at new Meadowlands Stadium in 2011. We can't wait.

11. Sergio Martinez
New lineal middleweight champ is late bloomer. Attractive rematch with either Pavlik or Paul Williams looms.

12. Lucien Bute
The world's best 168-pounder isn't taking part in Showtime's super middle tournament. Defends IBF belt in July.

13. Andre Ward
Super Six favorite has exceeded expectations. Scored eye-opening win over Mikkel Kessler in first stage.

14. Wladimir Klitschko
Capped dominant performance over Eddie Chambers with last-minute KO. Hasn't lost in more than five years.

15. Miguel Cotto
Losses to Margarito, Pacquiao stripped luster from resume. Faces crossroads fight June 5 against Yuri Foreman.

Others receiving votes: Isreal Vazquez (44-4, 32KOs), Ivan Calderon (33-0-1, 6 KOs), Celestino Caballero (34-2, 23KOs), Vitali Klitschko (39-2, 37 KOs), Tomasz Adamek (41-1, 27 KOs),Rafael Marquez (38-5, 34 KOs).

· PHOTOS: SI.com's P4P Top 15


Notable Results

· Floyd Mayweather Jr. W 12 Shane Mosley (May 1)

· Fernando Montiel TKO 4 Hozumi Hasegawa, for Hasegawa's WBC bantamweight title (Apr. 30)

· Mikkel Kessler W 12 Carl Froch, for Froch's WBC super middleweight title (Apr. 24)

· Alfredo Angulo TKO 11 Joel Julio (Apr. 24)

· Tomasz Adamek W 12 Chris Arreola (Apr. 24)

· Sergio Martinez W 12 Kelly Pavlik, for Pavlik's WBO middleweight title (Apr. 17)

· Lucian Bute TKO 3 Edison Miranda, retains IBF super middleweight title (Apr. 17)

· Danny Green KO 3 Manny Siaca (Apr. 14)

· Andre Berto TKO 8 Carlos Quintana, retains WBC welterweight title (Apr. 10)

· Celestino Caballero W 12 Daud Yordan (Apr. 10)

· Evander Holyfield TKO 8 Francois Botha (Apr. 10)

· Bernard Hopkins W 12 Roy Jones Jr. (Apr. 3)

· David Haye TKO 9 John Ruiz, retains WBA heavyweight title (Apr. 3)


Fighter Of The Month

Tomasz Adamek: What's not to like about Adamek, the former light heavyweight and cruiserweight titlist who's making a late-career push for the big bucks at heavyweight. The 33-year-old Pole tested the waters with wins over Andrew Golata and Jason Estrada before chopping down Top 10 contender Chris Arreola on April 24. Next up? A Klitschko, if Adamek gets his way: Either one will do.

Kelly Pavlik needed 16 stitches to close twocuts near his eyes after his loss to Sergio Martinez. (HowardSchatz/SI)

Pavlik at career crossroads after Martinez defeat

More than two weeks have passed since Kelly Pavlik relinquished hismiddleweight titles and the effects of his loss to Sergio Martinezstill linger. The skin around Pavlik's eyes remain scarred, the resultof the 16 stitches required to close two cuts -- including oneparticularly gruesome gash near his right eye -- that streamed bloodinto his eyes in the final rounds of the fight.

"The cuts were bad," Pavlik said in a telephone interview. "Icouldn't see [out of my right eye] at all towards the end. But I'm notmaking excuses. Guys get cut all the time. Martinez saw the cut andkept moving towards it, making it worse. He fought a smart fight."

At 28, Pavlik (36-2) finds himself at a career crossroads. He canexercise a rematch clause with Martinez but says he has littleinterest in fighting at 160 pounds, not after having to run 10 milesthree days and work out on a stationary bike in his room before theMartinez fight just to make weight. He says he would like a rematchwith Martinez, but at a catch-weight of 164 pounds.

"I took my rematch with Jermain Taylor at a catch weight," Pavlik said. "He should give it to me."

Both Martinez's promoter, Lou DiBella, and manager SampsonLewkowicz, quickly vetoed that idea.

"We can't do it," DiBella said. "There's just no way he's going tofight at that weight. [Sergio] is a 154-pound guy. I don't blameKelly, but [Sergio] can't go that high."

Said Lewkowicz, "No way. Pavlik either comes down to 160 or hefights someone else."

And if Pavlik can't make 160?

"Tell him to stop drinking so much beer," Lewkowicz said.

Even without Martinez, Pavlik won't be hurting for options. Thesuper middleweight (168-pound) division is considered one of thedeepest in boxing. While most of the top talent is tied up inShowtime's Super Six Tournament, names like Edison Miranda (whom Pavlikknocked out in 2007), Taylor, Sakio Bika and Librado Andrade arepotential opponents.

There is also Lucian Bute, the undefeated IBFchampion who is coming off back-to-back knockout wins over Andrade andMiranda and is widely regarded as the No. 1 fighter in the division.

"I want a big fight," Pavlik said. "I don't need a tune-up fight oranything. I'm ready. I feel good, healthy."

There is another big fight out there for Pavlik to consider.Multiple industry sources tell SI.com that retired former supermiddleweight and light heavyweight champion Joe Calzaghe will make acomeback sometime later this year. Prior to his retirement, aCalzaghe-Pavlik fight was a hot topic. Though Calzaghe, who was in LasVegas for the Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley fight last weekend, likelywon't fight below 175 pounds, Pavlik says he is perfectly willing tocome up to that weight for the fight.

"F--- yeah I'll do it," Pavlik said. "I'd love to fight Joe."

Just who will be with Pavlik for his next fight is another issue.Pavlik's corner was roundly criticized for its performance in theMartinez fight. His cut man, Sid Brumbach, has taken heat for failingto close that cut ("worst job by a cut man since [Mike]Tyson's guy against Buster Douglas," said one trainer) and after thelackluster performance some boxing insiders have questioned whetherPavlik's trainer, Jack Leow, needed to be replaced. There have alsobeen questions as to why a fighter struggling to make weight did notemploy a full-time nutritionist.

"They need to reevaluate their entire team," said Pavlik'spromoter, Bob Arum. "They have to start listening to people who know.Maybe the result would have been different if they had an experiencedcut man. To have a cut man that was so ineffective is inexcusable. Butthey are the kind of people that you can't tell anything to. At leastwe haven't been able to. Kelly needs to go away to train. He has tohave a nutritionist. You can't bulk up and then try to lose weightwhen all you're doing is eating muscle. [Boxing] is not a mom and pop[sport] anymore. And that's what they don't get."

Pavlik, however, insists that his team is not the problem. Hepoints out that they did consult with a nutritionist during trainingand points out that Brumbach was effective in closing a cut thatopened near his left eye in the early rounds.

"My corner was giving me all the right advice," said Pavlik."Everything [Loew] was telling me between rounds made sense. I justwasn't able to capitalize on it. And when that blood started to get inmy eye, I just couldn't do anything. I give a lot of credit to guyswho have fought with blood in their eyes. It's a real pain in theass."

While Pavlik left the door open to replace Brumbach, he says thathis team will stay largely intact.

"There won't be many changes," Pavlik said. "A lot of fighters havefour or five losses. I have two. I know my next fight is important.But I think I've got a good team and we're going to work hard becausewe want another big fight."

--Chris Mannix    
 
What to Watch in May
 
20 Questions with
Paulie Malignaggi
Malignaggi, the former IBF junior welterweight titlist from Brooklyn, faces Amir Khan at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on May 15. Follow him on Twitter at @PaulMalignaggi.

What's your first boxing memory?

First time I was supposed to spar, my trainer told me get all meequipment ready, and I thought the cup was my headgear. I tried it onand couldn't figure out why it wouldn't fit.

Who's your favorite all-time fighter?

Arturo Gatti, but I admire fighters like Roy Jones, Ray Leonard andFloyd Mayweather from a stylistic standpoint.

What's the greatest fight you ever saw?

Meldrick Taylor-Julio Caesar Chavez I, but if you catch me on adifferent day I might say Gatti-Ward I. I also can't answer thisquestion without mentioning Corrales-Castillo I.

Who was the toughest opponent you ever fought?

Miguel Cotto. He's very strong, and he knows exactly how to forceyou to fight his fight.

How did you get your nickname 'The Magic Man'?

My promoter, Lou DiBella, gave it to me. At a press conference formy third fight he introduced me as Paulie "The Magic Man" Malignaggiand it stuck.

What was your favorite subject in school?

I wasn't much of a school guy, regrettably. The one thing I alwaysenjoyed was history, particularly the reason behind wars. I likedgetting a look into the head of the masterminds behind wars, and howborders changed based on the results.

What's on your iPod?

"The Realest Killaz" by 2Pac and 50 Cent. I'm thinking about walkingout to that on May 15.

What is your favorite movie?

Braveheart with Mel Gibson.

What is one misconception about boxers?

That they're all stupid. Not that some of us aren't, but there arestupid people in every profession. Also, a lot of people thinkfighters are generally violent people in general, but that's notusually the case.

What would you be doing if you weren't boxing?

In all seriousness I don't know, because boxing came into my lifeand time where I needed guidance.

What is you biggest guilty pleasure?

I love jelly candies. I'm always buying them even when I'm tryingto make weight.

What would you change in boxing?

I would start by making the playing field more level. Right noweverything, even some wins and losses, are decided by who signed youwith and who you're surrounded by.

Name three people you'd like to have dinner with (living ordead).

Barack Obama and Jesus Christ are the obvious ones. AntonioCassano, who is an Italian soccer player, is another one because he islike me and likes to speak his mind.

Pacquiao or Mayweather?

If Pacquaio takes the random drug test, then Mayweather wins.

What advice would you give to young fighters coming up?

Finish school, have a level head, and never ever stop training hardno matter how many people have told you how great you are. Thosecompliments don't come into the ring with you. The other guy willstill try to take your head off no matter how many people have toldyou how great you are.

What's your favorite place to vacation?

Sicily is my favorite because I'm Sicilian, but the best vacation Iever had was a cruise where I went to a bunch of different places andpartied on the ship.

Where can you find the best pizza in NYC?

Portobello's on Murray Street. My uncle's pizzeria, Vinci's, is aclose second.

What is your dream venue for a fight?

I'd like to fight in Dubai given how much money is there and howbeautiful it is.

What's your prediction for May 15?

A lot of people haven't been paying attention to what I've donelately. If you look at it, Amir Khan and I had our biggest setbacksaround the same time, but we've both improved drastically. However,people have only paid attention to Amir Khan and haven't given me myrespect. If people aren't going to give me respect, I'm going to takeit, and people will see that on May 15.

When it's all over, how do you want people to rememberyou?

I want them to remember me as someone who gave it his all, triedhis best, spoke his mind, but most importantly, never spoke his mindfor any other reason other than being honest. I always say what Ibelieve and I don't sugar coat it for anyone. I think people are goingto miss that when I'm gone.

Amir Khan, protege of Freddie Roach (left), makes his U.S. debut against Paulie Malignaggi. (HowardSchatz/SI)

Can't-Miss TV Fights

May 8: Paul Williams vs. Kermit Cintron, 12 rounds, juniormiddleweights (HBO)

Williams is a crafty defensive southpaw comfortable anywhere between 147 and 160 pounds. He'll have his hands full against Cintron, whose lone defeats came at the dubious hands of Antonio Margarito.

May 8: Antonio Margarito vs. Roberto Garcia, 10 or 12 rounds,junior middleweights (Top Rank PPV)

Margarito, the disgraced ex-welterweight champion, returns to thering for the first time since getting caught with illegal plaster handwraps before a January 2009 loss to Shane Mosley.

May 15: Amir Khan vs. Paulie Malignaggi, 12 rounds, for Khan's WBAjunior welterweight title (HBO)

Khan's much-anticipated U.S. debut takes place at the Theater at MSG. Don't sleep on the undercard: Victor Ortiz takes a step up against wily vet Nate Campbell. Also, up-and-coming prospect Danny Jacobs steps up.

May 22: Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez, fourth fight, 12 rounds,featherweights (Showtime)

One of boxing's most memorable latter-day trilogies gets a fourthinstallment at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The secondand third bouts were named Fight of the Year by The Ring in 2007 and '08, respectively.

May 29: Vitali Klitschko vs. Albert Sosnowski, 12 rounds, forKlitschko's WBC heavyweight tite (Integrated Sports PPV)

Sosnowski's Q rating doesn't even match the guy whoplayed Horshack on Welcome Back, Kotter. But with Vitali planning to retire after 2010, it could be one ofour last shots to see the WBC heavyweight champ in action.


Quick Hits

Two-time WBA heavyweight champ John Ruiz, who announced his retirement shortly after losing to David Haye, has long been considered a cure for insomnia. But he's a heckuva nice guy who parlayed average talent into a career better than 99.9 percent of fighters ever have. Well done.

Philadelphia welterweight prospect Mike Jones (21-0, 17 KOs) scored an impressive victory by fifth-round TKO over Hector Munoz on the Martinez-Pavlik undercard. Could an HBO-televised slot on the Foreman-Cotto undercard at Yankee Stadium be next?

It was a nice month for some Hall of Fame progeny: Ronald Hearns (KO 1 Delray Raines), George Foreman III (KO 1 Dale Mitchell) and Aaron Pryor Jr. (TKO 8 Kendall Gould) each bagged victories.

If I'm the agent for Chris Brown, who sang the national anthem before the Mayweather-Mosley fight, I'm not putting my client anywhere near boxing or any other combat sport. Just saying.

--Bryan Armen Graham    

Mannix's Corner

What's wrong with boxing? How about some really, really bad pay-per-view undercards.

On the heels of Top Rank's unwatchable undercard on the Pacquiao-Clottey fight, last weekend Golden Boy Promotions shoved one of the worst televised undercards I have ever seen down viewers throats. Saul Alvarez might turn into agreat fighter and I have no issue with Golden Boy getting some TV exposure for one of its prized prospects. But to make Alvarez theco-main event against 32-year old journeyman Jose Miguel Cotto? Give me a break. I understand the argument: The more money the promoters and fighters spend on the undercards, the less they have to line their pockets with. But it's an incredibly short-sighted strategy.

I'm not the biggest fan of MMA, but I give companies like the UFC credit: Their cards are deep and, for their fans, entertaining. Companies like Top Rank and Golden Boy have deep stables of fighters. Why not pick a few live ones and put them on these cards? Former super featherweight champion Robert Guerrero fought on a separate card a night before the Mayweather-Mosley fight across the street at the Tropicana; is there any reason that fight couldn't have been added to the pay-per-view show? A few wallets might be a little lighter in the short term but maybe a competitive night of boxing might bring in a few more fans. And isn't that what it's all about?

 
Highlight Reel
David Haye's first heavyweight title defense ended with a ninth-round TKO of John Ruiz on Apr. 3.

 
Monthly Scorecard
Go Figure
They Said It

86 ... Combined ages of Bernard Hopkins (45) and Roy Jones Jr. (41), whose Apr. 3 rematch took place nearly 17 years after their first meeting.

1,200,000 ... Approximate number of pay-per-view buys for Mayweather-Mosley according to early reports.

5 ... Number of F-bombs dropped by Chris Arreola on live TV during the post-fight interview with Max Kellerman on Apr. 24.


"I think he's out of character. We know the soft-spoken Shane Mosley. Now he's 38-years-old getting tattooed? I think his divorce has played a major role and put a lot of pressure on Shane. I know what it takes. There's no pressure on me. I do everything great."

--Floyd Mayweather Jr.    
 
Must-See Photo
 
Bernard Hopkins reacts to a low blow from Roy Jones Jr., during their Apr. 3 bout in Las Vegas. (AP)
 
Inside the SI Vault: This Month in Boxing History
 
 

Read This Issue (05.07.07)

· May 28, 1935 -- Barney Ross W 15 Jimmy McLarnin

· May 1, 1957 -- Sugar Ray Robinson KO 5 Gene Fullmer

· May 25, 1965 -- Muhammad Ali KO 1 Sonny Liston

· May 7, 2005 -- Diego Corrales W 10 Jose Luis Castillo

· May 5, 2007 -- Floyd Mayweather Jr. W 12 Oscar De La Hoya

· May 2, 2009 -- Manny Pacquiao KO 2 Ricky Hatton

 
 

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