Eleven months ago in Mandalay Bay's media center, a crowd overflowed its 75 or so chairs. On the dais sat Marco Antonio Barrera after 12 rounds with Manny Pacquiao. Barrera bade farewell to his "beautiful sport." Then Pacquiao addressed the room.
In the back, standing behind the chairs, a Spanish voice called Pacquiao out. The voice said Pacquiao was running through weight classes because the voice was chasing him. But the voice's effect was practically nil. No one translated its words to English. That voice belonged to Joan Guzman.
Promoters Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya went on to discuss most every other potential 130-pound opponent for Pacquiao's next fight. No mention of Guzman. Chances were good Guzman wouldn't get a chance. But his Spanish pleas still resonated a bit.
Last week Guzman got his chance. Not against Pacquiao, but a chance just the same. He was to challenge lightweight champion Nate Campbell. Guzman blew it. He missed weight by more than three pounds and got himself dangerously dehydrated. The fight was canceled.
Billed as "Baby Tyson" when he was a super bantamweight, Guzman has not taken his power with him over the last 13, or in Guzman's case 16, pounds. But what he has lacked in power he has made up for with pacifism. Now the lead hand is low, the emphasis is on not getting hit and the result is a tiny fan base with zero buying power.
Look for Guzman's penance to be brutal.
But let's hope Campbell, whom no one wishes to face, soon gets a worthy challenger. He deserves a whole lot better than he has gotten since beating up Juan Diaz six months ago.
Wasn't there another lightweight title fight Saturday? Yup. Which leads to a confession. I didn't travel to Las Vegas for Joel Casamayor's defense of the Ring title against Juan Manuel Marquez. I didn't buy the pay-per-view broadcast, either. In fact, I didn't even accept a friend's gracious invitation to watch it for free.
I was in protest mode last weekend. No, not against Casamayor and certainly not against Marquez. I like Casamayor. And I would put Marquez in the top five of my favorite fighters in the world. What I was protesting was Golden Boy Promotions.
Oscar De La Hoya's company now apparently owns the weekend closest to Mexican Independence Day. Years ago Bob Arum put De La Hoya in fights near Sept. 16 to capitalize on De La Hoya's appeal in the Mexican community. It was a good idea.
But since Golden Boy Promotions acquired, or usurped, the Mexican holiday things have deteriorated. Casamayor-Marquez could not have been sold as a pay-per-view fight any other weekend of the year. The Golden Boy and his advisors need to be reminded that no one has a right to Mexican Independence Day. Entertaining Mexicans on the weekend they give "El Grito" is a privilege. It should be treated as such.
Still, Casamayor-Marquez went well, I heard. Marquez stopped the crafty and blissfully vulgar old Cuban in the 11th. Good for Marquez. Good for boxing. The specter of Marquez-Juan Diaz now looms. Make the fight, Golden Boy. Take your first tentative steps out of the casino and put the fight in Houston. Plenty of fans there. And after what Hurricane Ike just did to them they're going to need some revitalization next spring.
About 15,000 Texans turned out to watch Diaz a couple of Saturdays ago. (Just as many turned out to see Pacquiao in San Antonio a couple of springs ago.) Boxing still thrives on local interest and local fighters.