by David P. Greisman


All too often, what happens outside of the ring has consequences on what goes on inside the ring.


Substantially and tangentially, the economy has changed the Sweet Science.


Major matches are made with money from television networks and arena license fees. Superstars demand millions of dollars. Even world titlists who have never been marquee fighters will earn comparatively healthy sums.


But networks are cutting back and, in turn, they usually want their money’s worth. Casinos and other venues are learning that they no longer can rely on an “event” to produce, automatically, an audience ready to part with what had once been expendable cash.


Yet boxers are still used to earning this much for a title fight, that much for a Showtime bout, that much for an HBO appearance. It’s just that those amounts aren’t always available anymore.


It is hard to swallow one’s pride and take a pay cut just to stay busy. So now fighters fight less, holding out for the biggest fights and/or the biggest paydays, and all the while there are fewer television dates available to them.


The top stars fight twice, perhaps three times a year. This year, some of the most noteworthy names have only stepped between the ropes once. That makes it all the more difficult for a boxer to put together a strong “Fighter of the Year” campaign between January and December.


- Top heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko stopped Ruslan Chagaev in June, then took the rest of the year off to recover from shoulder surgery.


- Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik took out a mandatory challenger in Marco Antonio Rubio in February, then has been sidelined for the remainder of this year while he fought off and recovered from a staph infection.


- Top welterweight Shane Mosley scored a huge win over Antonio Margarito in January, then spent much of 2009 trying, unsuccessfully, to get fights with Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Mosley’s next bout is tentatively scheduled for January, a full year since his last appearance.


- Former cruiserweight champion David Haye will challenge Nicolay Valuev in November for one of the heavyweight titles, but if he succeeds, one big win over one big man will not be big enough.


Other fighters had one loss derail what otherwise could have been a very good year:


- Vic Darchinyan defeated Jorge Arce in February, and had he beaten Joseph Agbeko in July, he could’ve been one more major victory away from high honors.


- Juan Manuel Marquez had an exciting win over Juan Diaz in February but followed that up with a one-sided loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. Upsetting Mayweather would’ve made Marquez a top candidate for the year’s best boxer.


And some fighters had one noteworthy win mixed in with victories over lesser competition:


- Tomasz Adamek made a defense of his cruiserweight championship in February, stopping undefeated contender Johnathon Banks, but he followed that up with a stay-busy bout against overwhelming underdog Bobby Gunn. Adamek just stepped up to heavyweight this past weekend, scoring a technical knockout over Andrew Golota, but that victory means a lot less than a win over a top-ten heavyweight would have meant.


- Arthur Abraham beat Jermain Taylor earlier this month with a highlight-reel knockout in the opening bout of a super-middleweight tournament, but Abraham’s defenses at middleweight earlier this year, against Lajuan Simon and Mahir Oral, don’t mean much in what has become a barren division.


“Fighter of the Year,” then, could be a two-man race. Fortunately, those fighters – Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto – face each other Nov. 14.


Pacquiao picked up “Fighter of the Year” in 2008, with one win over one top fighter in Juan Manuel Marquez, then two stellar performances to finish up the year, technical knockouts of David Diaz and Oscar De La Hoya. Within nine months, he had gone from junior lightweight to welterweight, scoring a narrow decision over a top pound-for-pound boxer in Marquez, taking a lightweight title belt from the limited but top-10 Diaz, and embarrassing a De La Hoya who, while older, slower and possibly weight-drained at welterweight, was favored by most to win.


The Cotto bout will only be Pacquiao’s second of the year. But a win, especially a blowout, or even a competitive decision, would be enough.


Too many people use hindsight or revisionist history to diminish accomplishments. Pacquiao’s one-punch knockout in May of Ricky Hatton was a drubbing of the legitimate 140-pound champion.


Cotto is one of the top names at welterweight, a world titlist who belongs in the upper echelon of one of boxing’s deepest divisions. Should Pacquiao beat Cotto, he would become the first fighter to get a major sanctioning body belt or lineal recognition in seven weight classes.


As for Cotto, his 2009 began with a title win in February against an outmatched Michael Jennings. His first notable victory came in June, when he took a split decision over Joshua Clottey.


Some boxing fans seem to be counting out Cotto against Pacquiao, in large part because of his wins over Clottey this year and, by extension, over Shane Mosley in 2007.


In both cases, Cotto came out on top in what were close, competitive bouts against world-class welterweights. The knock on Cotto is that Mosley came on strong down the stretch in 2007, and Clottey gave Cotto trouble this year. Clottey seemed to take his foot off the pedal in that bout, allowing Cotto to come back and take the victory.


Top fighters will give top fighters fits. There’s no shame in having trouble against a Mosley or a Clottey. Had the situations been different in those fights – had Mosley and Clottey been better than Cotto early, with Cotto coming back to take the decision – Cotto wouldn’t be as easy a target for criticism.


There’s also no telling how much Cotto was affected by the cut he suffered from an accidental head butt in the third round against Clottey, an injury he fought through for another nine rounds.


A win over Pacquiao would be a win over an opponent who, while smaller, has shown he has the speed and the pop to compete in the 140- to 147-pound range. Pacquiao is far more a proven entity in those weight classes than Juan Manuel Marquez was.


The following won’t deserve “Fighter of the Year,” but the second- and third-tier of honors for 2009 could include, in no particular order:


- Vitali Klitschko, who, should he beat Kevin Johnson in December, will have taken out a veteran contender in Juan Carlos Gomez and undefeated heavyweight prospects in Chris Arreola and Johnson.


- Chad Dawson, who, should he beat Glen Johnson in November, will have outpointed an older Antonio Tarver and a Johnson who is an aging but deserving contender.


- Jean Pascal, who, should he beat Adrian Diaconu in December, will have four victories on the year, including two over the formerly undefeated Diaconu and one over former light heavyweight titlist Silvio Branco.


- Amir Khan, who, should he beat Dmitriy Salita in December, will have wins over an on-his-way-out Marco Antonio Barrera, a victory over now-former 140-pound world titlist Andreas Kotelnik, and a win against undefeated prospect Salita.


- Timothy Bradley, who, should he beat Lamont Peterson in December, will have made three defenses of his junior welterweight title in 2009. He outpointed Kendall Holt in April and had a “No contest” with Nate Campbell in August. Some feel Bradley would have gone on to beat Campbell easily, but that cannot be factored into consideration.


- Hozumi Hasegawa, who is trying to come to finalize the contracts for his third defense of the year, a bout in December with former flyweight titlist Eric Morel. Hasegawa has had two quick wins in 2009 against solid bantamweight opponents, first-round stoppages of Vusi Malinga and Nestor Rocha.


- Finally, a sentimental favorite who could end up as this scribe’s prospect of the year: Antwone Smith. The 22-year-old Smith began 2009 with a decision win over 11-9 Ben Ankrah, but then moved on to points wins over 16-0 Norberto Gonzalez and 24-2-1 Richard Gutierrez, and a stoppage of 22-0-1 Henry Crawford.

The 10 Count

1.  A Correction: Last week I noted that if a fighter drops out of the “Super Six” super middleweight tournament, his replacement will pick up that person’s point total.


I think I was wrong. scribe Dan Rafael, who has seen the contracts for the tournament, wrote that the replacement will pick up a point total equal to that of the remaining fighter with the lowest number of points.


I contacted a Showtime spokesman via e-mail for clarification.


“Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said. “If we come to it.”


Assuming I was wrong, I regret the error.

2.  In an era when fighters are often accused of “ducking” other fighters, even with little solid support behind said accusation, it might be easy for some to insist that middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik is ducking multi-division fighter Paul Williams.


After all, Pavlik’s defense against Williams has now been called off twice – it was postponed from Oct. 3 to Dec. 5 due to a lingering staph infection on Pavlik’s left hand, and it has now been put off indefinitely because while the staph infection is gone, the hand had not yet fully healed from surgery.


Pavlik’s team said its fighter couldn’t close his hand and he wouldn’t be able to train properly. And in an attempt to quiet skeptics, they spoke of an allergic reaction to medication that had landed Pavlik in the hospital, thus slowing his recovery, according to an Associated Press report.


Williams’ team feels, of course, that the problem is more mental than physical.


My question is why contracts were signed without there being an absolute knowledge of Pavlik having the proverbial clean bill of health. It seems instead that they went off of promises that everything wrong with Pavlik’s hand would be right again by the time he would need to be in the gym.


Pavlik’s team looks bad – Pavlik had reportedly missed appointments for treatment earlier in the year, and Pavlik’s trainer, Jack Loew, told The Youngstown (Ohio) Vindicator that he’d been trying to keep secret the fact that Pavlik had been reduced to shadowboxing and hitting the speed bag with just one hand.


But the rest of the parties – HBO, the promoters, Williams’ team – had to know they were getting into a relationship in which the other party not only had baggage, but baggage that could return. If they did cover their rear ends and Pavlik’s team misled them, then they’ll have cause for legal (and financial) recourse.

3.  Pavlik’s pulling out was the first of many dominos to fall. Now Williams needs an opponent on relatively short notice, with the top possibility being junior middleweight Sergio Martinez. Not only would Martinez present a completely different style than that of Pavlik, but Williams would be draining his long, lean frame to 154 pounds instead of 160.


The show will be going on, but with promoter Dan Goossen (who represents Williams) at the helm instead of Bob Arum (who represents Pavlik). That means an undercard bout between Joshua Clottey (who is promoted by Arum) and Carlos Quintana is now off.

4.  And let’s not forget that Dec. 5 was originally a date set aside on HBO for Shane Mosley to face Clottey. When Pavlik-Williams was given Dec. 5 instead, Mosley-Clottey was to move to Dec. 26, until networked executives remembered that they don’t typically program boxing for the day after Christmas.


So Mosley’s next fight was moved to a tentative January date, which left Clottey and another potential Mosley foe, Andre Berto, scrambling to figure out whether the money was worth waiting to get back in the ring.


Clottey took the now-canceled Dec. 5 undercard fight. Berto and Mosley have not yet reached a deal to fight each other.


Showtime’s presentation of some of the behind-the-scenes haggling involved in making the “Super Six” super middleweight tournament was fascinating enough. If only HBO had brought cameras to the negotiations for Pavlik-Williams and the Mosley-Clottey-Berto debacle…

5.  Boxers Behaving Badly, part one: A former Olympic medalist whose pro career didn’t come close to matching his amateur accomplishments will spend time behind bars for robbery, according to the Romanian Times.


Daniel Dumitrescu, 41, was caught robbing a German tourist who was visiting Rome. Dumitrescu was pretending to be a police officer, according to the report.


He will spend four months in jail and must pay a fine of 500 euros, or about $750. It might just be me, but that doesn’t seem like much punishment for robbery and impersonating a police officer.


Dumitrescu won a silver medal at featherweight in the 1988 Olympics. He didn’t turn pro until 1993, according to, fighting until 1997, when he left the sport with a record of 5-2 (2 knockouts).

6.  Boxers Behaving Badly, part two: An undefeated but inactive cruiserweight was arrested last week and charged with two felony counts of child cruelty after he allegedly locked two children out of his home and in the rain, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


Rommel Rene, 23, is out on bail. He is accused of keeping “a 14-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy out while their mother took another child to a basketball game,” according to the article, all because “they were repeatedly coming into his room and telling him he was not their father.”


The kids were outside for about half an hour before a neighbor called the police.


Rene, who turned pro in 2005, has won all 11 of his fights, including six by way of knockout. His last appearance was more than a year-and-a-half ago, an eight-round decision in February 2008 against some dude named Clarence Moore.

7.  Boxers Behaving Badly update, part one: The third of three pro fighters charged with being part of a multimillion-dollar telemarketing scam turned himself in to police last week, according to the Calgary Herald.


Albert Onolunose, 29, is facing numerous charges of fraud and other crimes for allegedly taking part in a scam in which United States residents were contacted by telephone or mail, told they were lottery winners and told they had to pay legal or processing fees to get prizes that, in reality, didn’t exist. Between 2005 and 2008, this particular group’s scam raked in more than $3 million, police said.


A total of nine people have now been taken into custody. Along with Onolunose, who fights between 154 and 168 pounds and has an 18-1 (7) record, police arrested Onolunose’s brother, cruiserweight Jegbefumere “Bone” Albert (28 years old, 7-0, 4 knockouts) and junior-welterweight Julius “Bazuka” Odion (30 years old, 11-0-2, 3 knockouts).

8.  Boxers Behaving Badly update part two: Ron Siler, an American flyweight who lost in the second round of the 2004 Olympics and has yet to box professionally, was found guilty last week of assault and obstructing justice, charges that came after he punched a sheriff’s deputy in October 2008, according to Cincinnati television station WKRC.


Siler, 29, had been in the Hamilton County courthouse when he attempted to cut in line, but he was told to go to the back of the queue. Siler cursed and walked away, and that’s when a police officer confronted him and asked for identification. Prosecutors said Siler became agitated, and when the officer grabbed Siler’s arm, Siler turned and punched the officer in the mouth.


Siler was sentenced to 120 days in jail on each count, according to the television station’s report. It was unclear in the report whether those sentences will run concurrently, meaning he would spend 120 days in jail, or consecutively, meaning he would spend 240 days in jail.


Siler has a criminal history: He avoided prison time earlier in 2008 when prosecutors dropped charges of possessing and selling cocaine and heroin, because police never dated their search warrant and because authorities were unable to locate an informant who was to have testified in the case.


Siler was also sentenced to probation in 2002 for felony attempted assault. He spent nine months in jail for a probation violation, but he was then released to train for the Olympics. He was convicted in 2006 on a charge of disorderly conduct but was again set free.

9.  Who’s the more disappointing Cincinnati fighter?


Choice No. 1: Siler, who went to the Olympics but has had no pro career to speak of.


Choice No. 2: Ricardo Williams Jr., who won silver at junior welterweight in the 2000 Olympics, got a $1.4 million signing bonus to turn pro, lost in his 10th pro fight, dropped a split decision two fights later to a journeyman, and then spent three years in prison on cocaine trafficking charges. He is now 28, a welterweight, attempting a comeback, fighting with far less fanfare than before.

10.  Cincinnati’s seen worse, and it can thank the Bengals for these draft busts: quarterback David Klingler (1992), running back Ki-Jana Carter (1995), and quarterback Akili Smith (1999).


I can’t make too much fun, though, especially due to these 15 words: “With the first pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards select Kwame Brown.”

David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His weekly column, “Fighting Words,” appears every Monday on He may be reached for questions and comments at