Your random thoughts are back ...
• Nevada, the boxing capital of the world, has an excellent group of referees, but I think it's time that Kenny Bayless receives the recognition he deserves as the best of the bunch. I can't recall him being involved in controversy. I can't recall him being involved in a quick stoppage. And I can't recall him letting a fighter take an unnecessary beating. He's Mr. Consistent with a good disposition inside the ring and outside of it. You barely even notice him during the fights he officiates, which is the way it's supposed to be. He even uses a cool line during prefight instructions: "What I say, you must obey." It's catchy. But seriously, there's a reason why Bayless has been receiving more and more top assignments. For example, Bayless was the third man in the ring for Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez II, Floyd Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya and Pacquiao-Erik Morales II. And last week, Bayless did a tremendous job handling the terrific Antonio Margarito-Miguel Cotto fight.
One moment stands out to me. In the 11th round, after Cotto took a knee for the first time, Margarito hit Cotto with a right hand while he was already down -- something nobody has made a big deal out of, including Cotto. The reason is because it had no bearing on what was happening in the fight or the eventual outcome, a TKO win for Margarito moments later in the round. Sure, Bayless could have deducted a point from Margarito, or even disqualified him, but that would have been a travesty. Bayless understood the situation and didn't make a ticky-tack call the way referee Joe Cortez did last month when he disqualified Humberto Soto for a similar infraction in his fight against Francisco Lorenzo, a move that cost Soto, who had been crushing Lorenzo, a title. That was one of the worst calls I have ever seen. Bayless got his call right. Sometimes the best call a referee can make is the one he doesn't, something Bayless clearly understands.
• Apparently, Golden Boy and HBO PPV don't much care about truth in advertising. If you watched the Cotto-Margarito pay-per-view, you saw the debut of the commercial spot advertising the Sept. 13 pay-per-view card headlined by the Joel Casamayor-Marquez lightweight championship fight. But the spot also advertised the card's co-feature, a rematch between junior middleweight titlist Sergio Mora and ex-titleholder Vernon Forrest. They actually had the audacity to advertise Mora-Forrest II as "the rematch of the year." Spin, hype and promotion are part of boxing. I get that. However, there is a fine line between spin, hype and promotion and lying. Mora-Forrest II as the rematch of the year? Please. The commercial is an insult to boxing fans. There can't be anyone on this planet who actually believes that nonsense. The first fight was fairly agonizing to watch. And, even if it had been a halfway decent fight, did they forget about, oh, I don't know, Pacquiao-Marquez II, the March 15 fight that just so happened to be about as sensational as you could ask for? And I'm not even including Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez III, the likely fight of the year, which technically was a rubber match, not a rematch.
• Seems to me that it's just a matter of time now until the fight that people laughed at Larry Merchant for suggesting and at me for writing about -- De La Hoya versus Pacquiao -- is made for Dec. 6. Cotto's loss made it that much more likely.
• If anyone actually believes the gibberish coming out of England that Billy Graham retired as Ricky Hatton's trainer, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. The only way he retired is if in England the definition of "retired" means "getting fired."
• It might not get every call right, but the California State Athletic Commission and its executive officer, Armando Garcia, deserve a gold star for properly overturning the ridiculous third-round knockout victory James Toney was awarded July 16 in his rematch with Hasim Rahman. After reviewing the fight, which ended with Rahman on his stool with a cut over his eye and complaining that he couldn't see after an accidental head butt in the third round, the commission appropriately ruled that it should have been a no decision. It's nice when sanity prevails.
• Is anyone surprised that Jeff Lacy's retirement lasted even less time than Mayweather's first retirement and Brett Favre's recent retirement. There was no way he was going to pass on a $500,000 or so payday to fight Jermain Taylor, a bout that I think will be exciting. Lacy was simply in a snit over his purse.
• Stop the presses: although former two-time lightweight champ Jose Luis Castillo lost a lopsided decision to Sebastian Lujan in a welterweight fight on this week's "Wednesday Night Fights," he actually made weight. Of course, that's a big deal for the scale-challenged Castillo, who blew weight in three important fights: his rematch with the late Diego "Chico" Corrales, which became a nontitle fight; his third fight with Corrales, which was canceled; and a junior welterweight title elimination bout with Timothy Bradley Jr. in March, which was also canceled. Off this loss to Lujan, Castillo ought to give serious consideration to calling it a career.
• So, Joe Calzaghe suffered an injury that forced postponement of his fall fight with Roy Jones. I'm shocked. Just shocked. Hey, at least Vitali Klitschko hasn't yet pulled out of his Oct. 11 fight with Samuel Peter because of an injury. Yet.
• Now that Cotto-Margarito is over, the fight already scheduled that I am most looking forward to before the end of the year is the Aug. 30 rematch between heavyweights Nikolai Valuev and John Ruiz. OK, just joking. The real answer is a toss-up. I'm looking forward to the Sept. 6 Juan Diaz-Michael Katsidis fight because there is no way it's not a slugfest. I like the Antonio Tarver-Chad Dawson fight on Oct. 11 and Taylor-Lacy on Nov. 15 even though Lacy looked bad last week in his shaky win over Epifanio Mendoza. But I'm also quite interested in the Nov. 8 Calzaghe-Jones showdown. I think it's a fascinating match between future Hall of Famers that could turn out to be a lot more entertaining than some expect.
• I'm not sure how far welterweight Jesus Soto-Karass, who happens to be trained by Margarito trainer Javier Capetillo, is going to go, but he's one of the hidden gems as far as action fighters go. He's also been on a nice little roll (10-0-2 in his last 12), including a knockout of David Estrada last Friday on Telefutura. I was bummed I couldn't attend the fight at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas on the eve of Cotto-Margarito because ESPN TV duty called, but I watched it on the Internet later and then watched it again along with some other fights on my DVR when I arrived home from Vegas at about 4 a.m. Monday (don't ask, but, yes, I got the upgrade). Soto-Karass deserves a bigger stage than Telefutura. I think he'd be a reasonable opponent for a guy like Andre Berto or Cotto when he comes back.
• In case you're counting at home, it's been 375 days since Winky Wright last fought. What's he waiting for?
• DVD pick of the week: The Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry is as good as it gets in boxing, like the Yankees-Red Sox in baseball. So, in honor of Cotto-Margarito and its place in the pantheon of memorable fights between the boxing-mad countries, I selected one of the most significant bouts from the fantastic rivalry. On Aug. 21, 1981 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Mexican legend Salvador Sanchez defended his featherweight title against Wilfredo Gomez, the superstar Puerto Rican who had a long reign as junior featherweight champion. Fortunately, I have a really nice disc of the original Don King closed circuit broadcast of the fight. Of my thousands of tapes and DVDs, it's one of my favorites. With a wild crowd on hand, Sanchez and Gomez battled tooth and nail in a dramatic fight. But Sanchez had the advantage on his way to dropping and stopping Gomez in the eighth round of a fight that remains the standard for the passion that the rivalry elicits.