Friday, April 29, 2016

Why Boxing Is In Desperate Need Of Fighters With Confidence

Be on the lookout

There once was a time not so long ago at all where I felt both Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz had a chance to beat Guillermo Rigondeaux. Sadly, it appears I had more faith in both men's ability than they themselves did. Why? Because they've both gone out of their way to avoid poor Rigo in order to face each other. To make matters worse, both men are being applauded for facing one another. More on that later.

Right now let's focus on Frampton and Santa Cruz. You can say both men are ignoring Rigo for financial reasons. You can say both men are avoiding Rigo in order to move on to greener pastures. You can't say, however, that both men are exuding confidence. I don't believe that for a second and neither do you. Nope, there's more afoot here than smart career maneuvers. There is obviously a distinct lack of confidence at play when it comes to these men keeping away from Guillermo Rigondeaux.

In this, however, they are not alone. Canelo Alvarez seems to lack confidence when it comes to the prospect of facing Gennady Golovkin. Or at least his handlers do. Angel Garcia essentially asked aloud why a fighter should challenge himself when he didn't have to. Perhaps if Angel had more confidence in his son Danny's ability he wouldn't be asking questions like that. And let's not even get started on Adonis Stevenson.

Here's the truth - boxers aren't cowards. Modern boxers, however - at least those of note - tend to lack confidence. If they didn't, well, we'd see the best fight the best. And we're just not seeing that. At least not on a regular basis. Men who are willing to risk life and limb in the ring are shying away at the prospect of being underdogs. They also apparently believe they can't save their respective careers from damaging losses, even though men like Tim Bradley and Alvarez himself clearly indicate otherwise.

There's something else concerning in all this, however - and that's the role we modern fight fans play in this sad state of affairs. As I mentioned earlier, lots of people are thrilled at the prospect of Frampton fighting Santa Cruz. Great fight, they say. Besides, they argue, Rigo is boring. Who needs him?

Ask yourself this - could you imagine your average football, soccer, baseball, basketball or tennis fan employing the same mentality? Of course not. And that's why boxing's fan base is so much smaller than it could be. There's no real drama at play anymore, no way to find out who's the best, At this rate, boxing may someday be reduced to a pro bowling sized fan base.

And we fans will have no one to blame but ourselves.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Don't Be Surprised That GGG-Wade Brought In Decent Ratings

The fact of the matter is that people tuned in

Let's face it, 2016 has been a pretty rough year for boxing. The winter was a pure dead zone, with Spanish Language television essentially acting as the only steady outlet for fight fans. As for the rest of the year, well, let's just hope for the best knowing that Canelo isn't really interested in Golovkin and mid-level fights like Crawford-Postol look like they're actually going to cost fans money to see.

In short, there's been good reason why people have been down on boxing lately. There can't be a down if there isn't an up, however, and HBOs ratings for last weekend's GGG-Wade middleweight title fight were very good indeed - the highest of the year so far, in fact. Even though the million plus sets of eyeballs that were glued to Saturday's brief fight are nice to read about, they shouldn't be surprising.


Because HBO gave the fans what they wanted last weekend. Canelo or no Canelo, fans clearly wanted to see Golovkin ply his trade, much like they did Mike Tyson back in the day...and HBO was rewarded for putting the man on the air last weekend. Again, no one should be surprised. People want to see GGG, so his fights do well.

Likewise, Thurman-Porter might do very good ratings early this coming summer because it's giving fans what they want. Indeed, the ratings for Fury-Klitschko II will do solid ratings, even though that fight will most likely air smack in the middle of an American Saturday. Why? Because it's actually an interesting matchup, believe it or not.

The point here is obvious. All you have to do in order to have a healthy sport is to air healthy programming. That's if you actually want a healthy sport and not just a healthy bank account for the short term.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Gennady Golovkin Is Scary

The opposite of scary

Okay, so we all knew GGG was a pretty sharp razor walking into Saturday's fight with poor, way over his head Dominic Wade. After all, Gennady Golovkin has been tearing through the competition for years now. The problem, of course, is that few, if any, major names have been truly willing to face the man.

This led to there being question marks about the guy's skill. After all, good fighters - especially those who hit hard - have a knack of looking good against less than stellar opposition. What would actually happen, we all wondered, if and when Golovkin met some legit competition? Sadly, we may never know the answer - at least not while the man's in his prime.

What we can assume from Saturday night, however, is that GGG is no hype job. It isn't that Wade was a step up in class - it's that Golovkin was nearly disturbing in his destruction of the man. When you've been watching the sport as long as I have (don't ask), you truly do get a sense of things. Take Tyson, for instance. I remember watching him before he was a household name and, believe me, those of us who watched the guy from around the start knew. We just knew.

And now, after watching GGGs utter destruction of Wade, I can tell you that GGG is the real thing. Why? Because, just like thirty years ago, I just know. Golovkin isn't just dominant. He's scary. And scary doesn't come around too frequently in boxing. Dempsey. Liston. Foreman. Tyson. Am I missing anyone? The truth is that Golovkin has that once in generation fear factor element. And no, it isn't processed by the HBO ringside team. It's legit.

I don't like the fact that the guy's avoided, but I understand. This is the type of man, in the ring at least, who nightmares are made of.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

How Long Can A Boxer Ride The Hype Train For?

After a point, one has to look reality dead in the eye

First things first, I'm a boxing writer, not an MMA writer. I've been asked to write about MMA before, but have politely refused as it's just not in my wheelhouse. Having said that, I think it's a legit and interesting sport. In other words, I'm not one of those boxing hipsters who bashes the damned thing. I think MMA is great - I simply think boxing is better.

With that in mind, this whole Conor McGregor brouhaha has piqued my interest, Why? Because it reminds me a lot of boxing, that's why. Here we have a young guy hyped beyond all rational thought, a man who we were told could essentially beat anyone, anytime, anywhere. Except of course, he couldn't. And now he's publicly making waves.

You MMA experts out there are free to call me out on this, but McGregor looks like he may be a decent enough fighter who was hyped to be a great fighter...and is now lashing out because he suddenly realizes his own limitations. In a sense, he reminds me of boxers over the years who endured such humiliation.

For example, Primo Canera is largely said to have been a mob hype job. Sure, he attained the heavyweight championship of the world, but when he finally had to face a serious threat in Max Baer, the results were as brutal as they were humbling.

Adrien Broner is a more modern example of the hype job. The sad thing about Broner, of course, is he probably could have been so much more. But frankly, that's on him. As it stands, the fight world was left with a very talented fighter who was sold as the heir to Floyd Mayweather - even thought the evidence clearly suggested otherwise.

It took a run-in with Marcos Maidana for the world to see the truth - that when you let your skill level plateau, you become more show than go. And that makes you a hype job. Perhaps like McGregor, people mistook real talent and brashness for greatness. Both guys have emulated Mayweather. Unlike Mayweather, however, neither has been able to back up his self-promotion.

All of this, oddly enough, points to one Canelo Alvarez. Although Canelo is a far more likable individual than Broner or McGregor, fans are starting to wonder if the man is now riding on a bit of hype. Make no mistake about it, Canelo is  VERY good boxer. Why isn't he facing Gennady Golovkin, however? Why the avoidance?

Popularity and earning potential is great, but it doesn't equal greatness. The history of boxing has been littered with the names of amazing athletes who were conveniently pushed aside. Fighters used to be able to avoid menacing competition by saying they wouldn't fight someone of another skin color. Now fighters due the same thing by pointing out a threatening opponent's lack of popularity or potential earnings.

It's all very white collar these days - and all very much complete bullshit.

So, how far can can a boxer ride the hype train for? If the above examples are any indication, not very far. Team Canelo, however, may be trying to push the envelope. Let's see how long the ride lasts. Who knows? Canelo may ultimately end up living up to the hype. What a treat that would be...a guy who could back up all the talk without resorting to being a big mouth like McGregor or Broner.

Here's hoping.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What If Canelo Loses While The GGG Fight "Marinates?"

Things worth pondering

What little interaction I've had with Canelo Alvarez has been impressive. Here, my friends, is a real gentlemen in a world of blowhards and hype jobs. In case you haven't guessed it - I like the guy. I also think he's a lot of fun to watch in the ring. Canelo fights are rarely boring, after all. There's a problem afoot, however, and that problem is called Gennady Golovkin.

Most people, after all, feel Golovkin would essentially beat the hell out of Canelo in the ring. It appears promoter Oscar De La Hoya himself is aware of that distinct possibility, because he keeps trying to push back a fight between the two men, claiming the bout needs to "marinate." For those who aren't up to date on catch phrases, "marinate" is cute-speak for a potential fight becoming more lucrative. Needless to say, marinating is good for Oscar, himself a good guy and solid promoter, but not so good for the fans - or for GGG himself.

Boxing's new breed of fans are entirely in Oscar and Canelo's corner on this, mind you. You can read their comments on boxing websites where they declare that Canelo is the "A-side," and that people who don't like the way things are need to "deal with it, bitch." Thing is, the new breed is, thank heavens, in the minority here. Most fight fans are sports fans, not reality TV fans who live vicariously through the earned wealth of famous figures.

There's something else for Oscar and Canelo to be concerned about, though - what happens if Canelo loses while his fight with GGG marinates? What if Khan somehow shocks the world next month? What if Manny Pacquiao were to somehow miraculously do to Canelo what he did to Oscar years ago? What if David Lemieux were to land a haymaker? What if Miguel Cotto were to have the fight of his life?

What then?

You, I, and everyone else clearly know what the answer is.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Who Is The Top Fighter In Each Division? Here's Your Answers.

Who sits atop the hill? 

Ruling organizations, hyper marketing and confusion have made title belts lose an enormous amount of luster. Sure, championships should generally count for something big, but right now they're nothing more than marketing tools, it seems. So, who is REALLY the top fighter in each division? Check out the list below...and let me know if you disagree.

Heavyweight - Tyson Fury. Wladimir Klitschko was the man, then Fury beat the man. It's as simple as that.

Cruiserweight - Krzyszto Glowacki The man took Steve Cunningham to school last weekend...a very determined Steve Cunningham. Enough said, really. 

Light Heavyweight - Sergey Kovalev Until someone comes along and proves otherwise...

Super Middleweight - James DeGale Perhaps the most under-rated practitioner in the sport

Middleweight - Gennady Golovkin No one wants to fight this guy. Say no more.

Junior Middleweight - Erislandy Lara Talk about a guy who never gets the props he deserves.

Welterweight - Tim Bradley Frequently ignored, it seems, by everyone but Pacquiao and perhaps Brook. Conveniently so. 

Junior Welterweight - Terence a hair. Viktor Postol awaits, Bud. 

Lightweight - Anthony Crolla The way he beat Darleys Perez in their rematch puts him atop this heap.

Junior Lightweight - Nicholas Walters I know, I know, he should have faced Loma. He's still the man here at Junior Lightweight, though. 

Featherweight - Gary Russell Jr With Loma moving up in weight, there can be only one honcho...and no, it ain't Santa Cruz

Super Bantamweight - Guillermo Rigondeaux See Gennady Golovkin

Bantamweight - Shinsuke Yamanaka Undefeated in 27 fights with a classical, effective style. This division is his. 

Junior Bantamweight - Naoya Inoue  Carlos Cuadras is good. I just think Inoue is a little better. 

Flyweight - Roman Gonzalez Perhaps the best fighter in all of boxing

Strawweight - Akira Yaegashi Sure, Gonzalez beat him once, but Yaegashi is still the boss 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Wonder Why The TV Ratings For Boxing Are So Bad? Ask Radivoje Kalajdzic

You don't need a great education to notice the problem

So, ESPN's Dan Rafael has just reported, via Twitter, that the ratings for last night's PBC card on NBC were most certainly not good. This, of course, is too bad. For Errol Spence made his mark on the world this past weekend by besting a game name opponent like Chris Algieri in fantastic fashion. If you haven't seen the fight - and it appears that billions haven't - then by all means, check it out. It's good stuff.

Having said that, the numbers were still disappointing, as viewership for primetime PBC cards seems to be declining these days. People will undoubtedly scratch their heads and wonder aloud why this could be, but the answer - or at least one of the answers - is pretty clear. No one trusts the powers that be in boxing. It really is that simple.

Boxing is now at the point where there's so much bad judging, so much unsportsmanlike maneuvering and so many BS titles that casual fans literally don't have a clue what's happening. Seriously. We watched the card with a friend last night who wasn't a fan and he had no idea how things worked outside of two people throwing punches. Why doesn't the better fighter always advance on to bigger and better things? How could judges give incompetent rulings? How in the world can anyone tell who the best fighter in a division is if the best can't or won't face off?

My friend is not a stupid man and these were not stupid questions. What other sports fans in the world would be as sure of an impending  bad decision as boxing fans were after the final bell rang for the Marcus Browne -  Radivoje Kalajdzic bout on last night's undercard? Browne got the decision after holding and being dropped and absolutely no one I know was surprised that the judges gave him the nod.

Wonder why the TV ratings for boxing are so bad? Ask Radivoje Kalajdzic.