Quick jabs: Rios-Alvarado creates buzz, Robert Helenius returns, more
Some quick jabs ...
• Promoter Lou DiBella is bringing popular light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan back to headline his next Broadway Boxing show in New York on Oct. 24 against Rayco Saunders. The 31-year old Monaghan (15-0) isn’t really a prospect--he’s slow and he gets hit a lot--but he’s a banger and sells a lot of tickets in the Irish community. I asked DiBella recently if he thought there was a big fight out there for Monaghan and he came back with an interesting name: Light heavyweight and Notre Dame grad Mike Lee. DiBella told me he thinks Monaghan-Lee could sell out the Theatre at Madison Square Garden.
• Hey, B.J. Flores: Time for a bigger fight.
• I’m looking forward to Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado this Saturday night as much as anyone, and Top Rank’s Bob Arum has told me he thinks the winner is a strong candidate to face Manny Pacquiao next year. But that would be a massacre. Rios and Alvarado are wildly entertaining but neither is close to Pacquiao’s level.
• Good to see heavyweight prospect Robert Helenius will make his return to the ring next month after a nearly year-long hiatus due to a shoulder injury. Here’s hoping Helenius gets serious about his training. Helenius has the size and killer instinct to be a top heavyweight but his jab is pathetic and Dereck Chisora -- who is not exactly a great boxer either -- beat Helenius up on the inside in his last fight. That jab needs to become a sharp, stinging weapon for Helenius, a la Wladimir Klitschko, or he will never become an elite heavyweight.
• Time for Ivan Calderon to retire.
• Interesting note I gleaned during my reporting of an item I wrote in Sports Illustrated this week on featherweight Orlando Cruz, who recently announced he was gay. In the aftermath of the announcement, Top Rank attempted to get Cruz out of his Oct. 19 fight against Jorge Pazos so they could match him against top 130-pound prospect Mikey Garcia. If Cruz beats Pazos, he will be a candidate for a significant fight, possibly against Garcia, sometime next year.
• On Monday, Top Rank announced the signing of 19-year old Puerto Rican prospect Felix Verdejo. Verdejo, a lightweight, was a member of Puerto Rico’s 2012 Olympic team. He won two fights in London before losing to eventual gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko. Top Rank officials are targeting December for Verdejo’s pro debut.
-- Chris Mannix