Boxing Roundtable: What's next for Pacquiao, Margarito? (cont.)
4. WBA heavyweight champion David Haye destroyed Audley Harrison in three rounds Saturday in England. Afterward, Haye "guaranteed" he'd fight the Klitschko brothers in 2011 to unify the titles. Do you believe him?
MANNIX: I believe absolutely nothing David Haye says. The Klitschkos have presented him with deal after deal -- some very favorable for Haye -- and he has continued to turn them down. He's making loads of money fighting clowns like Harrison and doing it at very little risk to himself. He'll "negotiate" again with the Klitschkos, but my guess is we see Haye against his mandatory, Ruslan Chagaev, early next year.
O'BRIEN: After his demolition of Harrison, Haye stands, more than ever, as the only compelling opponent for either Klitschko not also named Klitschko. Haye has flirted with both before, but always (through excessive caution or just a cagey sense that it would be better to wait) pulled out. But now the time may be right for a commitment. Vitali is 39, Wlad's 34 and Haye says he's retiring soon. Haye against either is certainly an event boxing could use in 2011. I expect a Haye fight to get made with one of the brothers in '11.
GRAHAM: I may have overstated my case over the weekend on Twitter when I said Haye vs. either Klitschko should be second on every fight fan's wish list for 2011 after Pacquiao-Mayweather. But it's certainly on the short list, along with Juan Manuel Lopez-Yuriorkis Gamboa and the handful of attractive matchups at 140 and 168.
For those living under the presumption that heavyweight is still boxing's bellwether division, either of the Haye-Klitschko fights is vitally important to the sport. It's been more than a decade since the recognized titles were unified, and the lack of a singular identifiable heavyweight champion has done immeasurable damage. Haye is just the sort of headline-grabbing figure the division needs. He's worn the severed heads of the Klitschko brothers on a T-shirt, told writers he'd beat up Jean-Marc Mormeck "like Rodney King" before a cruiserweight unification bout, and infamously billed Saturday's fight with Harrison as a "public execution" to be "as one-sided as a gang rape by a pack of silverback gorillas." (And he was right.) Americans will love Haye or they'll hate him, but they won't ignore him. Unless it becomes clear he's received a correspondence degree from the Mayweather Institute of Artful Dodgery.
Memo to Haye: Take the mandatory against Chagaev if you'd like one last guaranteed windfall -- Rock Newman made sure Riddick Bowe fought Michael Dokes and Jesse Fergusion before putting him back in against Evander Holyfield -- but don't turn the page from 2011 without fighting Wladimir or Vitali. You'll regret it.
5. Does Rafael Marquez deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?
MANNIX: This is a tough one and one I have debated a lot over the last week. No question, Marquez is an exciting fighter and his four fights with Israel Vazquez -- especially the first three -- were legendary. He has won titles at bantamweight and super bantamweight and is fearless in the ring. But he lost two of those fights with Vazquez and his résumé isn't exactly loaded with top talent. He's got my vote when the time comes, but I get the feeling it will take a couple of ballots to get him in.
O'BRIEN: I'd be on the fence here. Marquez held titles at bantamweight and superbantam; he has a record of 39-6, with 35 KOs and wins over the likes of Mark Johnson, Tim Austin, Silence Mabuza and, of course, Israel Vazquez. But he also lost to Vazquez twice (in an admittedly Hall-worth rivalry), and five of his six losses were by KO. He has been a superbly schooled fighter and a consummate warrior. He is a cut above most of his contemporaries. I'm not sure that makes him worthy of Canastota, though.
GRAHAM: Marquez is a first-ballot inductee to the Hall of Very Good. But like baseball's Bert Blyleven and football's Ray Guy, the two-division champ seems destined for a fringe candidacy to be debated tirelessly in barrooms and cantinas on both sides of the border. As a witness to so many of the Mexican's unforgettable ring wars -- particularly the Vazquez quadrilogy -- I'm inclined to cast a vote for him when the time comes. If you broke down the balloting by demographic, I suspect he'd have enough support from the younger voters. I just don't think there's quite enough on the résumé to impress veteran observers.