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Tuesday, April 7, 2009


So what does it take to become the best lightweight in the world? According to Bob Arum, a win over Antonio Pitalua! During the post-fight press conference at last weekend's "Lightweight Lightning" card, the 77-year-old promoter proclaimed newly crowned WBC champion Edwin Valero to be the best lightweight in the world after his second-round technical knockout of Antonio Pitalua Saturday night at the Frank Erwin Center. Despite being the first time that Arum had ever seen Valero fight in person, he was thoroughly impressed with the three-knockdown performance. So much so, in fact, that Arum believes that if Juan Manuel Marquez ever hopes to face Manny Pacquio again, he must first go though Valero.

"I had never seen Edwin fight in person and this was a real treat. I really believe in my heart that Edwin Valero is the best lightweight in the world. Now, Juan Manuel Marquez may challenge that, he has got a couple of lightweight titles, but he's always talking about fighting Manny Pacquiao, so I send this message...if he wants to fight Manny Pacquiao, fight this guy next," Arum boldly proclaimed. "Fight this guy next because Manny only wants to fight the best lightweight in the world."

Arum's crowning of Valero as the best lightweight in the world may be a bit premature considering that the undefeated fighter was just making his lightweight debut and has yet to face any elite fighters. Although he does hold a record of 25-0 with 25 knockouts, the hard-hitting Venezuelan has yet to face any known competition. One has to wonder exactly how well he would stack up against the likes of Juan Diaz, Michael Katsidis, Ali Funeka, Anthony Peterson, Jorge Barrios, Amir Khan or Marco Antonio Barrera.

While you do have to give Valero credit for staying undefeated with his outrageous 100% KO percentage, should he really be ranked above WBA and WBO lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez, who arguably gave Manny Pacquiao his two toughest fights to date? I doubt it! More than anything, Arums annointment of Valero as the best lightweight in the world is just a ploy to postpone a potential third clash with Marquez should Pacquiao get past Hatton on May 2nd. Obviously Marquez will always be an option for Pacquiao, but if you're Arum, why not pit two future opponents against each other and hope that one eliminates the other? Best case scenario, Valero wins and provides Pacquiao with a future opponent that has a much easier style to defeat. Worst case scenario, Marquez wins and makes a third fight with Pacquiao that much more appealing. It's a win-win scenario for the wily old promoter.

While it certainly would suck for Marquez to be forced to go through another young, hungry, hard-hitting opponent just to get a third shot at Pacquiao, Valero's exciting style will indeed provide some compelling matchups in the future. So hey, if Arum wants to hype up another fighter for his own agenda, I'm cool with that...just so long as he practices what he preaches and continues to put Manny Pacquiao in against the division's best fighters. For the record, in my opinion, Nate Campbell was the best lightweight in the world until he moved up to the jr. welterweight division. Note to Arum...if Pacquiao is successful against Hatton and decides not to face Shane Mosley or Juan Manuel Marquez in his next bout, I wouldn't mind seeing him face Nate Campbell.


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