Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Can Adonis Stevenson Redeem Himself?



Let's face it, Adonis Stevenson has not been the hero of the boxing community since he stunningly knocked out Chad Dawson to become lineal light heavyweight champion years ago. Fights with such serious competitors as Sergey Kovalev, Bernard Hopkins, and Jean Pascal have never come to fruition - and people blame Stevenson for it, perhaps with good reason. For while he's yet to meet a major foe since becoming champ, Stevenson has sung the praises of Al Haymon and the money Haymon has lined his pockets with.

If you think the whole thing sounds like a cash grab, you're not alone.

Still, Stevenson insists that he's a serious competitor. Just recently, for instance, Stevenson claimed in an interview that he wants to unify all the light heavyweight titles. That means he would have to face Kovalev, the man he's been accused of ducking. Whether Stevenson really wants to face Kovalev or not remains to be seen.

Stevenson can go a long way convincing people of his seriousness, however, if he takes a cue from fellow Haymon stablemate Floyd Mayweather.

For, by calling out Manny Pacquiao live in front of Showtime cameras last December, Mayweather started the process which led to the May 2nd fight that everyone wanted. Stevenson can silence at least some of the criticism lobbed his way by coming across as serious after he presumably bests Tommy Karpency a week from this Friday. He has to sound serious, though.

Instead of saying he'll fight anyone Stevenson has to say that he WANTS Kovalev, that he's aware of promotional matters and the politics of boxing but that he would love it if the two men could get in the ring. Even if Haymon gets to veto who he fights, Stevenson can do a better job making it clear to the public what he wants. Unless he's able to do that, however, people will see Stevenson as a champion pretty much in name only.

And that's too bad.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Boxing In The Post Mayweather-Pacquiao Era



So I'm finally back to writing about boxing, the sport I love. For the past few weeks I've taken a bit of a hiatus, you see. Why? Because I was burned out. Exhausted. Drained. It's been a big year for those of us who cover the fight biz, so big that I found I had to walk away from it for a while - something I'm not in the habit of doing.

Blame it on Floyd and Manny. For the hated Mayweather-Pacquiao match last spring was such an insanely over the top big deal that it was actually unwieldy. Still, the bout was a hit - a huge, huge hit. People may disdain the memory of it now, but the match brought in millions of eyeballs and millions of dollars. Boxing, for once, was in the spotlight. Not just the sport's spotlight, the pop cultural spotlight, as well.

The stress. The interviews. The backbiting. The deadlines. It was all a bit much, frankly. Truth be told, I'm happy that I'll never see anything like it again.

Yet Mayweather-Pacquiao brought those of us who put time, effort and even professionalism into the sport of boxing to a high point. It had always been a dream of mine, for instance, to be read by a lot of individuals. That dream was accomplished in the leadup to May 2nd. For during that period I was read by far more people than  it takes to become a New York Times bestselling author. Heady stuff.

Now those days are gone, though.  Forever.

Boxing may become popular in the mainstream again - in fact, I think it has a solid chance, to - but the mania we saw leading up to May 2nd won't return during most of our lifetimes. There's bound to be a bout as big as or bigger than Mayweather-Pacquiao sooner or later, but chances are it won't come around for a long, long time.

So yeah, the spotlight may return to boxing again, but it  won't be as bright as it was this year. Even if boxing gets as popular as, say, the NBA, it STILL won't carry with it the hype Mayweather-Pacquiao did. That event was an oddity. And oddities are infrequent things.

So, where to from here?      

Why to the fights, of course. There's some great one's lined up for this fall and if boxing keeps delivering great matchups the number of steady viewers will continue to rise. That's nothing but a good thing.

It's also time to keep an eye on rising talent and stars that may have been heretofore overlooked. There's some real talent out there and it's worth getting excited about some of these guys without placing them in the shadows of Floyd and Manny. Those two  may still be fighting, but their era is winding down.

And that ain't such a bad development.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Malignaggi Crushed By Garcia

In the end, Danny Garcia proved to be far too young and strong for crafty vet Paulie Malignaggi. Meeting at the Barclay's Center in Maignaggi's hometown of Brooklyn, the two went close to nine full rounds in front of a healthy sized audience that was clearly in favor of the hometown guy.

If the crowd thought Garcia would somehow lose to Malignaggi on Saturday, however, it ended up being clearly disappointed. For the fight proved to be a largely one sided affair. Things started off interesting enough in the first few rounds, with the slick Malignaggi's movement and activity giving Garcia a bit of a run. Once Garcia's punches landed with regularity, however, the fight was all but over.

No single great event stopped the bout. The referee had simply seen enough. As had the fans. As had, believe it or not, Garcia himself, for the Philly native's face spoke volumes after the fight had ended. He may not be a fan favorite, but Danny Swift, as he's called, proved he's no sadist, either.

Afterwards, it was pretty clear to everyone that it was time for Malignaggi to move on to a career in broadcasting, which is something the guy excels at. The fighter seemed a bit down, but Paulie's smart, so it's a pretty safe bet he knows it's time to pack it in himself.

As for Garcia, he came across as maddening as ever after the match. Sure, he said he'd fight anyone, but he didn't seem that eager to challenge any one individual. It was all best left to Al Haymon, as far as Garcia was concerned. Such emotional inertia makes it hard to cheer for the man. That's too bad, for Garcia was truly warm and gracious in victory on Saturday night, a surefire sign of good character.

Danny Jacobs Bests Sergio Mora In Wild Two Round Fight

No one was probably surprised when Daniel Jacobs dropped Sergio Mora in the first round of their bout at the Barclay's Center on Saturday evening. On the other hand, many were probably surprised when Mora returned the favor by dropping Jacobs just second later.

Yup, it was a wild first round of middleweight boxing on Premiere Boxing Champion's second ESPN broadcast. Yet things were only going to get wilder. For Mora went down again in the second. And when he got up, he was clearly injured, for he was hobbling - if you could even call it that - on his leg.

The referee asked Mora if he wanted to continue. There was some confusion. Then the referee stopped the fight. Mora, simply put, was too injured to carry on.

"From my perspective I heard my knee pop," Mora said after the bout. "I know what a broken ankle is."

Due to the bout's highly unique ending, Mora said he wanted a rematch. Jacobs, however, wasn't having any of it.

"No rematch," Jacobs said. "There's no reason for me to come backwards now."

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Rios Joins List Of Fighters Who Have Been Left High And Dry



It's almost amazing when you think about it. Brandon Rios thoroughly defeated arch rival Mike Alvarado last winter and now he literally can't find an opponent. Word was out that he was supposed to fight welterweight titlist Kell Brook, but now that fight doesn't look promising. What's more, it appears that there are no fights in Rios' future whatsoever.

This in an era when boxing seems to be on the television 18 times a week.

Sorry, Brandon. You're now a part of the High And Dry Club, a group of fighters who, fairly or not, are unable to get the kinds of matches they should. At the very least Rios can rest assured that he's in good company.

Gennady Golovkin and Guillermo Rigondeaux, both of whom are arguably among the best in the business, can't find meaningful competition themselves. People seem to be putting Golovkin off for as long as possible. As for Rigondeaux, he's so good the entire sport seems to have decided to ignore him entirely.

Lovely.

This being boxing, no one can say they're surprised by this development in Rios' career. This is a sport, after all, where a black man once couldn't fight for the heavyweight title and where taking a dive for the Mafia was once considered a means of getting ahead.

It's a dirty business, boxing is. And that's just when people are abiding by the rules and laws that have been set down for it, as seems to be the case with Rios (and, for that matter, GGG and Rigo, as well). Still, none of this makes it easy for Rios and the others to have to deal with.

My suggestion is for these men to call out those they want to fight as loud as they can. Let your voices be heard, gentlemen. Public pressure works, after all. It may well be how Lara landed a fight with Canelo. And how Briggs might (just might) land himself a major bout again in the future.

Fortunately for Rios, making himself be heard has never been a problem. Here's hoping the fans will listen.



Friday, July 3, 2015

Why I Kind Of Feel Bad For Leo Santa Cruz



"I don't really like fighting or going against my team."

So says Leo Santa Cruz in a recent interview with Marcos Villegas. It's easy for people to pile on Santa Cruz, but - let's face it - going against your team, whether as a boxer, as an employee, or just as a member of a family, is a hard thing to do. I kind of feel bad for the guy.

Villegas, after all, clearly asks Santa Cruz in the interview about Guillermo Rigondeaux, a man Santa Cruz has been accused of ducking. Leo says he wants to fight Rigo, that he told his team he wants to fights Rigo, but that his team simply doesn't think it's a good idea at the moment. And so Leo's going to do what they want him to.

Truth be told, I believe Santa Cruz here. I've spoken to the guy myself, and it's literally hard to find a nicer person to converse with. I don't think he's lying at all, I think he wants the Rigo fight, just like Rigo does. I just think Leo lets his "team" control his future to such a degree that it's ruining his reputation among fans... as well as his legacy.

I could be wrong, of course, but it seems to me that there's possible three reasons Leo's team (Santa Cruz is with Al Haymon, mind you) doesn't want the Rigo fight - at least at the moment. The first reason is that Rigo isn't with Haymon and Haymon doesn't want Santa Cruz fighting a top guy who's not a part of his stable.

The second reason is that Haymon and company simply feel Rigo might be too good for Leo and therefore want to avoid hampering their man's record. Perhaps they think it's better to just let Rigo age - or better yet - to simply fade away.

The third reason is that team Santa Cruz simply figures they can just keep giving their man big checks for fighting nobodies - with an occasional threat like Andre Berto thrown in on occasion just to shut people up. This potential reason, believe it or not, just may work to team Leo's benefit. There are individuals out there, after all,  who would be perfectly happy never seeing Leo fight Rigo because Rigo is "boring."

Sad, I know.

At any rate, it's time for Leo to let his "team" know that it's his choices that have to be made, not theirs, and that if they were really behind him, they'd actually bend to his wishes just once. Judging from the interview with Villegas, however, Leo isn't going to rise to the occasion.

For Santa Cruz doesn't seem to understand that not all fighting has to take place in a ring.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Cotto And Canelo To Fight Five Pounds Below Middleweight Limit - For Middleweight Title

Well, we can all breath a sigh of relief.

Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez have reportedly agreed to fight for the middleweight title - at five pounds below the middleweight limit. One could only imagine how terrible things would have been if the two men fought for the middleweight title as, you know, authentic middleweights.

Cotto, as we all know, is not a natural middleweight. He's just middleweight champion of the world. As for Canelo, one could see him trying to become a true middleweight, but he doesn't have to in this case because he's fighting Cotto.

Of course, Cotto isn't the only middleweight champion out there, but he is the LINEAL middleweight champ. That means he's the man who beat the man who beat the man (you get it). Cotto won this title from Sergio Martinez, a natural middleweight who - if I'm not mistaken - had to lose weight in order to fight Cotto for his title.

The truth is that Cotto can fight for his crown at any weight he wants, so long as it isn't over 160lbs. Those are just the rules of boxing. This, of course, isn't good news for full bodied middleweights like Gennady Golovkin, but GGG isn't as popular as Cotto is, so he's just going to sit and wait while men who aren't middleweights fight for the middleweight championship.

Maybe Cotto will try to earn the heavyweight title next. Wladimir Klitschko can drop ninety pounds, right? Truth be told, I don't believe the contract for Cotto-Canelo has been signed yet, so things can still arguably be altered. Perhaps Cotto will decide the fight should be held at 147lbs instead.

I mean, hey, he's the A-side, isn't he?