Inactivity or Something Else?

By Ted Sares on June 23, 2013
Inactivity or Something Else?
“Junior welterweight Cote of Quebec City is one of the more intriguing prospects in boxing.”

These men need to position themselves in a more appropriate limelight than Laredo, Kiev, or Durango, Mexico. They need to get back into the mix…

It wasn’t that long ago that many boxing scribes (me included) were singing the praises of certain global prospects who appeared to be destined for center-stage attention and even superstar status. Fighters who all of a sudden were flying well above the radar. What they got instead, in varying degrees, was an unanticipated dose of obscurity. In particular, the following prospects and/or proven commodities seemed to have faded more than ever-so-slightly from the limelight:

Pier-Olivier Cote (19-0)

“He was back in action the night of the Bute vs. Froch fight, and once again, his performance stayed under the radar.”—Takeo Sports (Correspondent) on June 18, 2012

Said Dan Rafael: “Junior welterweight…Cote of Quebec City is one of the more intriguing prospects in boxing. He has a dynamic, fan-friendly fighting style and a lot of speed…he has come a long way in a short time.”

The dynamite prospect Cote was scheduled to fight capable French Algerian Ali Cheeba (35-1) on November 3 as a co-feature to Lucian Bute’s return against Denis Grachev, but he was forced to pull out due to an undisclosed illness. Earlier, Cote had become sick back in January 2012, prompting another fight cancellation against Mauricio Herrera. That one was never rescheduled, indicating that the medical problem may not be insignificant. “He’s going to undergo more tests in Montreal,” said Cote’s longtime trainer Francois Duguay. Said Cote, “I will follow the recommendations of the doctor and undergo every test that I have to. My goal right now is to get better and return stronger than ever. I would like to thank my promoter for supporting me during this difficult time.”

Jose Benavidez Jr. (17-0)

“I’m young, just trying to take it slow. Little by little, maybe two or three more years (for a title shot). Not anytime soon.”—Jose Benavidez Jr.

“He’s at an age where we do not want to push him. We’re thinking about him in the long term.”—Manager Steven Feder

Only 20 years old, Jose is considered a “Boxing Prodigy” and one of the sport’s future stars at 140 pounds, but the hype has died down even though he is promoted by Bob Arum. Jose is a former amateur standout and at age 16 was the youngest boxer to ever win the National Golden Gloves Championships. He was also the youngest professional boxer (at 17) to be licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. An exception was reportedly made because of his exceptional talent. Of late, however, he has had some injuries that have forced him into long layoffs, especially hand issues. His last fight was on October 13, 2012 against Mexican trial horse Pavel Miranda.

Matvey “Matt” Korobov (20-0)

“An eager Matt Korobov, the most hyped Russian amateur to turn pro since Kostya Tszyu, ripped off five straight knockout wins to start his professional career.”—Marty Mulcahey

“After watching him for about three minutes, I had to get up and walk around and get something to drink because my heart was racing. He’s that good. He’s got the whole package.”—Cameron Dunkin

It seems like this Russian middleweight has been a hot prospect forever—his first fight was in 2008. He is perhaps best known for winning the middleweight amateur world title in 2005 and 2007. In 2005 he was part of the Russian team that won the 2005 Boxing World Cup. His amateur record was an astounding 300-12.

However, in the pros,  Korobov is on at least his fourth trainer in two years and this is beginning to show up in lethargic performances, although his TKO wins over Arturo Rodriguez (12-13) in February and shopworn Ossie Duran in June were encouraging, but there is still a suggestion—if not a strong hint—of stagnation. Moreover, while his name slowly slides off of the radar, his opponent selection continues to be abysmal—and this while the middleweight division is at its most exciting in years.

Dimitry Pirog (20-0)

When this Russian middleweight shockingly knocked out undefeated Danny Jacobs in July 2010, it seemed his options would expand exponentially, but since then he has had just three fights—the last being a dominant UD over Nobuhiro Ishida in May 2012. Many thought he was destined for a face-off with the streaking Gennady Golovkin but that one now seems out of the question. Pirog’s main problem, or so it seems, has been a history of back injuries including a ruptured disc.

James Kirkland (32-1)

“Kirkland sits and waits, doing nothing while the magic of the prime, ferocious James Kirkland becomes more and more of a distant memory. After two chances at super-stardom, it appears as though Kirkland’s toughest opponent is still himself.”—Paul Magno (Yahoo! Sports, February 8, 2013)

Kirkland was once one of the most prominent rising junior middleweights in the world before an 18-month prison stint resulting from a parole violation derailed his career. After a shocking upset KO at the hands of feather-fisted Nobuhiro Ishida, the “Mandingo Warrior” got back on track with a spectacular stoppage of Alfredo Angulo, but then in his last outing against crafty Carlos Molina in March 2012, he looked lethargic and vulnerable.

Kirkland was offered a big fight with Canelo Alvarez and he turned it down once, accepted, and then balked again. He blamed it on an injury, but most observers thought it was more about money.

Now, having filed a lawsuit against Golden Boy Promotions, trainers Ann Wolfe and Pops Billingsley, and managers Cameron Dunkin and Mike Miller, the troubled Kirkland—perhaps subconsciously bent on self-destruction—strangely seeks to detach himself from everyone while he continues to remain inactive.

This just in as we go to press: James Kirkland allegedly choked his girlfriend twice, which caused his assault arrest in Texas this weekend. If the charges stick, Kirkland can probably kiss his once promising boxing career goodbye. The girlfriend, Frances Diane Campbell, informed police that Kirkland caused pain and discomfort, but he did not strangle her hard enough to cut off the path of air. Kirkland’s path to self-destruction seems to be on schedule.

Brad Solomon (19-0)

“I want to fight for a world title now. I want a world title fight is what I’m looking forward too.”—Brad Solomon back in March 2011

Like Benavidez, Solomon was an amateur standout and was a three-time National Golden Gloves Champion (once in the welterweight and twice in the junior welterweight divisions). And like Benavidez, he is considered one of the top boxing prospects and is currently promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank. Though a road warrior of sorts, he seems to have found a home at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. He has wins over undefeated “The New” Ray Robinson (which was televised), undefeated Kenny Galarza, and tough Demetrius Hopkins. In 2010, he won the WBA International welterweight title by stopping Wilfredo Negron and has successfully defended it three times. But the rub is that his last bout was on October 12, 2012, in El Paso, Texas against one Yoryi Estrella.

There is talk about a fight with Hatton-conqueror and Malignaggi conqueroree Vyacheslav Senchenko (33-1) in August at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine, but nothing official has emerged. If this one is made, it would amp Brad’s career at just the right time because his absence is being felt.

Gabriel Bracero (22-1)

Beating super-hyped Boston prospect Danny O’Connor (14-0) in Laredo, Texas on April 8, 2011 was an exceptional way to get noticed. Losing to a shot DeMarcus Corley (37-19-1 coming in) in New York City on January 21, 2012 and in the process getting chopped chopped down in rounds two, three and five was an equally exceptional way to return to relative obscurity. “Tito” Bracero has won four in a row since the Corley disaster, but he has his work cut out for him if he is to regain his short-lived fame. The thinking here is that he will.

Marco Reyes (27-1)

This heavy-handed middleweight, known as “Dorado” (The Golden One), has fought outside of Mexico only once, but inside his native country he has beaten the likes of one-time hot prospect Julio Cesar “Baby Face” Garcia (twice), Mauro Lucero (46-15-1), Jose Louis Zertuche, Yori Boy Campas (92-13 coming in), Saul Duran, and the legendary Quirino “Kirino” Garcia in only his sixth professional fight. Make no mistake, Reyes is a solid fighter but if he wants to enjoy more fame, he will need to move out from under the Mexican radar which in his case translates to fighting in the US.

Viktor Postol (23-0)

This light middleweight from Ukraine had five bouts in 2012 and two already in 2013 but his sole issue is that of his 23 total fights, all but one have been held in Eastern Europe and 16 of those have been in Kiev. His only bout in the US occurred in December 2012 when he beat Henry Aurad in a one-round massacre in Inglewood, California. He did get serious attention when he beat “Hammering” Hank Lundy (22-2-1) in March to win by close UD the vacant WBC International light welterweight title Postol is a solid fighter who needs to take his show on the road or he will remain under the global radar.

While most of the aforementioned might simply be victims of temporary inactivity, it might well be something more. And in this regard, phrases like serious medical issues, overprotection, stagnation, poor career management, promotional problems, and even self-destruction come to mind. Whatever the case, these men need to position themselves in a more appropriate limelight than Laredo, Kiev, or Durango, Mexico.

They need to get back into the mix.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Pier Olivier Cote vs Jorge Luis Teron, november 5 2011

Jose Benavidez vs Josh Beeman

Матвей Коробов против Осси Дюран/Matt Korobov vs. Ossie Duran

Nobuhiro Ishida vs James Kirkland

Brad Solomon vs Javier Gallegos.mpg

Demarcus CorleyvsGabriel Braceroデマーカス・コーリーvsガブリエル・ブラセロ

Marco Reyes Vs Yori Boy Campas

2013-03-21 Viktor Postol vs Henry Lundy

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  1. Ted 02:39pm, 06/25/2013

    Cus D’Amato first…then Jacobs. Then the vulture

  2. Ted 02:14pm, 06/25/2013

    Hey Ted…buddy ....where were you when Hagler NEEDED YOU

    Collecting my money from the chumps who gave me odds too good to pass up. LOL

  3. Michael Hegan 01:52pm, 06/25/2013

    Jacobs and Cayton were a perfect management team for Mike Tyson. 
    Mike was a street thug…with no education nor social skills….but he was a brilliant prospect.
    Jacobs , who had Tyson’s interests in mind…kept the kid in a Boxing match every month…..
    Tyson was always being kept busy ...and was being advised by Jacobs…Kevin Rooney…......Tyson began to respond , as he trusted his team….

    Jimmy Jacobs died very suddenly…Tyson was left adrift….Cus d’a Motto first…then Jacobs….
    In swoops good ‘ol kind, warm and caring doink ing…..and the rest is history.

    Bernard Hopkins….nor Marvin Hagler would never have progressed had they not had good management and trainers.

  4. Ted 01:47pm, 06/25/2013

    Very true Michael. Sad but true.

  5. Michael Hegan 01:43pm, 06/25/2013

    Great read Ted…..and lotsa information that we would have to spend weeks to accumulate.  If it weren’t for you , buddy…....a lot of prospects would never be know at all…..unless someone caught them on an undercard of a major show.

    I think the inactivity is not good for the fighters…..and it is crippling to the sport.

    Champions clearly states…shall defend their Titles every ninety days….which means about four fights a year….  This is not a hectic schedule….
    Consider how many times a top league basketball player…or hockey player….or baseball player plays each season ??? 

    Sure…the sports are different….but one could argue that they eat away at the body and soul….just as much as Boxing…or damned close.

    I’d say…..if a guy is serious about Boxing…..he could manage to fight six times a year…..every two months.  Not over demanding…and…of course ...a REAL note from a REAL doctor could excuse him…..but he’d have to lose his place.

    Boxing isn’t a team sport….neither is Tennis(singles of course).....but if you want to earn top dollar and get maximum exposure… gotta compete.

    Remember when Big George Foreman came back after ten years….TEN YEARS…. He was no 19 yr old kid…..but he still went into the ring a lot ...especially for a guy pushing forty yrs old.

    Had Big George not been so busy(I’m not gonna get into a debate about his caliber of competition…)....we wouldn’t have seen him in action…..and began to believe he was for real…..which he was.  He lost to Holyfield…but any other man would have been KO’d….or retired. 
    Foreman was in the fight from the beginning to the end.  He couldn’t have done that had he not been busy.
    Cooney may well have been HW Champ of the World….if he’d had better management than the WHACKO TWINS….who kept him on idle in the parking lot…..instead of busy in the ring

    Guys that don’t fight six times a year…or more…and ‘champs’ that don’t fight four times a year…are like drivers who drive along on the freeway at forty miles an hour….....!!!  Managers think they don’t want to risk their athlete…so they don’t put him in very often…....They get rusty ....and the Sport suffers as well.

    Boxing is a Sport where even a ‘rocky balboa’ can actually show up ...tight and trim…and win the match.  IF the ‘champions’ don’t fight but once or twice a year…..or less….....and they pick their own opponents….wdf ???
    Sport suffers.

    If a boxer can not handle the pace of six fights a year..or defend his Title four times a year….he should not be there….;...move to the back of the line up ....and fight your way back to contention or Title

    Fans watching good fights are what make the Sport popular… sitting around pumping their onions ...waiting for a Title Defence with a live contender….is NOT what makes the Sport Popular…......quite the contrary

  6. Ted 01:00pm, 06/25/2013

    Yes nicolas,  Mike was correct. I believe it is part of the New Norm in boxing along with a lot of other “new school” things.

  7. nicolas 11:32am, 06/25/2013

    Mike Casey brings up a good point, about these boxers today not fighting enough. In the case of Kirkland, imagine if Mike Tyson in his early career before his championship reign had been fighting a schedule like Pirog had before his WBO stint. MIke probably would have gotten into trouble early and gone to jail before he would ever have been a champ. While I do think Robinson fighting three ten-round distance fights in one month, two ten-rounders with LaMotta, and one with another man is way too much.

  8. Ted 06:33pm, 06/24/2013

    Tex, your fellow-Texan has become yesterday’s news sorry to say.

  9. Ted 06:32pm, 06/24/2013

    Hey Kid, what’s happening in Sin City? You are thinking of Omar Chavez who is pretty good in his own right. He is 29-2-1 and both losses were to another son of a famous fighter—Jorge Paez Jr. who is 35-4-1 and and on a long winning streak but hurts himself by fighting in Baja, California when he should be going across the border to get more publicity and more pesos. Paez could surprise people by winning big in the US.

  10. Tex Hassler 06:27pm, 06/24/2013

    Kirkland had loads of promise to be the real thing. If he cannot get his personal life under control his career may well be over.

  11. kid vegas 06:07pm, 06/24/2013

    What about the other Chavez son? What happened to him? Or am I thinking of Paez Junior?

  12. Ted 05:58pm, 06/24/2013

    Naw, They will be too busy eating some fresh road kill or engaging in some activity that I would only leave to your fertile imagination..

  13. Don from Prov 05:51pm, 06/24/2013

    There are a lot of stringy, nasty-mean old men in the woods of Maine—

    They might eat iron

  14. Ted 05:45pm, 06/24/2013

    In Westbrook, Maine in November. I will have my choice of 3 out of 4 lifts. I will choose the dead lift, the squat, and the bench press, and will forego the clean and jerk. My trainer will also be competing in the women’s division. I will be in the 75 year and older division and am hoping I will be the only one who shows up.

    I started increasing the weights today and so far I am on a decent schedule to reach my goal of 600 total.

  15. Don from Prov 05:33pm, 06/24/2013

    That is very cool—
    Challenges are a good thing, yes?

    Where will this take place?

  16. Ted 05:27pm, 06/24/2013

    Yeah, but I’m going to be in power lifting event in November so that might make up for it. lol

  17. Don from Prov 05:25pm, 06/24/2013

    “At my age, sex is not a catharsis; it’s a possible heart attack.”

    What a life, huh?

  18. Ted 12:11pm, 06/24/2013

    Great post Rax. Thanks

  19. raxman 12:06pm, 06/24/2013

    great article ted. i think of all the guys on the list i think cote was probably the one most likely to be a star. good looking kid, genuine power and hand speed. i guess his chin is the only thing that wasn’t yet tested.
    as for kirkland - i was fan. and as a fan i easily forgave his jail stint and leaving wolfe and failing against ishida - because he went back to wolfe, talked up their bond (and her training methods) then proved it all by a spectacular off the mat victory - that was his second chance. only a loser blows a second chance like that, when your mistake is so obvious and the solution proven.
    even if wolfe and pops were in the wrong he was clearly a better fighter with them, than not. if they were the bad guys he should have just waited until he became a star and his status was entrenched and then made the change. personally the people i know like pop and anne wolfe who give there lives to the sport with little fiscal reward aren’t usually the type to turn once a little success is had. i’m betting old mate kirkland is just a straight up loser and dick. kirkland v canelo would’ve been a ripper though and would’ve test canelo’s chin like never before that boy could bang with that left hand

  20. Thresher 11:38am, 06/24/2013

    At my age, sex is not a catharsis; it’s a possible heart attack.

  21. Don from Prov 10:22am, 06/24/2013

    P.S. The Grammarian is a legend

  22. Don from Prov 10:21am, 06/24/2013

    Ted: Try throwing a little sex in there between rounds of golf—

    Or does powerlifting = a euphemism for?

  23. Ted 10:03am, 06/24/2013

    Exactly, Krush, but it’s good thing the hated but legendary ESB poster, “The Grammarian,” does not review the posts here.

  24. Ted 10:01am, 06/24/2013

    Read it and weep Kid:

  25. the Krusher 09:57am, 06/24/2013

    Good. This is stuff people wonder about but never bother to check into. I was wondering about Kirkland and now I know.

  26. kid vegas 09:47am, 06/24/2013

    Greetings from beautiful Lake Las Vegas. Whatever happened to Jeff Lacy?

  27. Ted 09:17am, 06/24/2013

    Thanks Don. speaking strictly for myself writing is nothing more than a cathartic outlet for me

    —along with golf, power lifting, reading noir and mystery books, watching noir and mystery flicks, Grey Goose on the rocks with 3 olives and a twist, Negro Modelo beer, more golf, Perdomo’s, logging, wildlife, Leffe Brune beer, trips to Canada, and more golf.

    It’s a labor of love

  28. Don from Prov 07:50am, 06/24/2013

    For instance, I just watched the Cote video—Wow.
    Then I read your piece on him again.

    I may have become a semi-casual boxing fan at this point but there are a lot of us out there—and this one wouldn’t have known about Cote but for you

  29. Don from Prov 07:34am, 06/24/2013

    Well, you laugh, Ted—
    But you keep a closer and wider eye on the sport than anyone else I know

    And that really does = good stuff!

  30. Thresher 06:28am, 06/24/2013

    dollarbond, yes that word could well describe Pirog or even better the stock market today or maybe even more appropiate, cornholio!

  31. Ted 06:14am, 06/24/2013

    Thank Prov. I am here to help! lol

    Pirog is another that is in some kind of stagnation mode and Korobov just seems to have wilted.

  32. Don from Prov 06:11am, 06/24/2013

    Korobov and Pirog were the two names that jumped out at me—

    Had more immediate recognition, but all this info was excellent.
    Good that someone is keeping these names in circulation.
    Good stuff, Ted

  33. Mike Casey 06:07am, 06/24/2013

    Sadly true!

  34. Ted 06:05am, 06/24/2013

    Once Kirkland left Ann Wolfe, his life went downhill in a hurry. He probably is not very bright. He is done now but what a waste of raw talent. At one time , the world was his oyster. Now he is just another bad boxing story. In his case, the operative phrase is “self-destruct.”

  35. Mike Casey 06:00am, 06/24/2013

    He looked a real comer, Ted - I do hope the poor kid’s OK. And how did Kirkland get himself into such a mess after all the early promise? Too many of these guys start messing with the wrong kind of stuff. The old boredom factor, I guess - they can’t find enough to do.

  36. Ted 05:54am, 06/24/2013

    Cote is the one I really miss.

  37. Mike Casey 05:51am, 06/24/2013

    A case in point. Kid Stagnation last fought in 2003 and that simply won’t do.

  38. dollarbond 05:48am, 06/24/2013


  39. Mike Casey 05:45am, 06/24/2013

    Yep, add them to the list too!

  40. Ted 05:43am, 06/24/2013

    Flushing money down the toilet is also a “good” thing to do as well. Chocking your girl friend seems an attention-getter, too.

  41. Mike Casey 05:33am, 06/24/2013

    Other tips for staying in the limelight and being indulged:
    Move to Las Vegas.
    Acquire a glamorous girlfriend and be clearly seen to be cheating on her.
    Crash your car occasionally.
    Get into a pointless street brawl or ten.
    Swear a lot.
    Insult anyone who’s liable to take the bait and keep talking about you.
    Challenge anyone and everyone to a mega fight but don’t actually fight them in case you lose.
    If you do make this mistake, retire for two weeks and then make a very loud comeback.

  42. Ted 05:23am, 06/24/2013

    I like the idea of “Fight or drop.” Thanks, Mike.

  43. Mike Casey 04:24am, 06/24/2013

    Too many fighters are idle for far too long these days, Ted - and most of them have an excuse at the ready. I know the competition isn’t what it was - even guys like Robinson and Greb would probably only be fighting three/four times a year these days. But you look at the records of some of these boxers and there are yawning gaps between one fight and the next. I find myself wondering if some of them just retired and forgot to tell us. A good thing to highlight these fellas as you have done here. Fleischer launched a ‘fight or drop’ campaign for the Ring ratings in the sixties and a lot of idle boxers suddenly starting fighting again!

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