Monday, June 29, 2015

Forbes Lists Mayweather And Pacquiao As World's Highest Paid Celebrities

And they say boxing is dead.

As if being the world's highest paid athletes isn't enough, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao may now celebrate the fact that they're also the highest paid celebrities on earth, as well. Sorry Katie Perry - you came in third on Forbes' list of the highest paid celebs. Oh, and One Direction? Let's just say you guys are several directions south of the famous fighters.

Mayweather, for the record, brought in $300 million dollars from May 2014 through May 2015 for a grand total of three boxing matches, earning himself the number one position on Forbes' list. Pacquiao brought in around $160 million dollars for a total of two boxing matches, earning himself the number two slot.

Honestly, we all knew Mayweather-Pacquiao would be big, but did any of us expect it to be THAT big? Seriously, these two have now easily out earned movie stars and the most famous musicians in the world.

Just to put things in perspective - the enormously popular Taylor Swift earned a grand total of half of what Pacquiao earned in the same twelve month period. And at $60 million, Ms. Swift earned herself a whole lot of money.

People may want to hold off writing those obituaries for the sport of boxing - at least for the time being.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Why Tim Bradley Is His Own Worst Enemy

Once again, Tim Bradley proved on Saturday that he is indeed his own worst enemy. After looking nothing short of masterful against the lauded Jessie Vargas, Bradley was rocked by a thunderous shot at the end of the fight and nearly went down.

It looked like Bradley was going to survive the round, just like he had against Ruslan Provodnikov a few years earlier - but referee Pat Russell stopped the fight a few seconds too early, denying fans a legitimate answer to a burning question. This is no knock on Russell, by the way. I've never had problems with the ref and we all make mistakes. Regardless, Bradley ended up earning himself a unanimous decision victory.

He also proved - once again - that he's his own worst enemy. Believe it or not, Bradley is one of the most skilled fighters in the sport. Indeed, his mastery on Saturday was reminiscent of Floyd Mayweather. As Bradley himself admitted, however, he didn't listen to his corner at the end of the bout - and that's why he got nailed.

It seems as if it's now time to simply accept the fact that Bradley will never live up to his potential. Why? Because he just isn't disciplined enough to stick to a game plan. Over and over again, the guy abandons his strengths and relies on his inclinations. And the result is often disastrous. Don't believe it? Check out round twelve of last night's fight again - or any number of rounds in Bradley's fight against Ruslan Provodnikov.

Tim Bradley is, without doubt, one of my favorite fighters. I admire him both as a person and as an athlete. He may well make it to the Hall of Fame, and if he gets there, no one should complain. At the rate he's going, however, Bradley will forever leave fans wondering about what could have been.

And for the record, I'd rather see a more dominant, less fan friendly Bradley than the a Bradley who gets his head rattled unnecessarily throughout the course of his career. But that's just me.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Why Brandon Rios Can Beat Kell Brook

Rios isn't some guy plucked off the street

So now that it looks like Brandon Rios may indeed get a title shot against the talented Kell Brook, it's safe to say people will consider it an entertaining, but none-too-serious matchup. Oh, fans will want to see the bout for its guaranteed entertainment value - but it's doubtful analysts will give Rios too much of a chance.

That's a mistake. While it's true Brook is a very impressive boxer, Rios has a style that could be all wrong for him. Brook, after all, has strength and fires off impressive shots. Rios, on the other hand, keeps coming. Always. What's more, he can fight on the inside, and can curve his shots effectively, That could prove problematic for the often straight shooting Brook. The Englishman's habit of standing upright could prove to be an issue for the IBF titleholder, as well.

Lastly, Rios looked completely rejuvenated when he walked right through arch rival Mike Alvarado earlier this year. Sure, Alvarado was well on the downslide, but that didn't take away the fact that Rios, under the tutelage of Robert Garcia, was sharp, mobile, mean and effective. Indeed it may be the change of outlook, the growth that comes from a tough stretch (which Rios most certainly had recently), that makes Rios appear to be a true threat to Brook in my mind.

On the other hand, I wouldn't write Brook off on this one. Not by a long shot. As I've brought up before, I was one of the few people stateside who had been sounding the alarm bells regarding the guy for a while before he took the welterweight strap from Shawn Porter last year. Brook is the real thing - a talented, determined pro with real style and focus. In short, he's well deserving of all the praise he's been getting on both sides of the Atlantic lately.

So, am I coming right out and saying Rios could beat Brook should the two meet in the near future? No. I'm simply saying I wouldn't be surprised if he did. Not for a minute. And that makes this potential matchup very interesting.

This is one I'm really hoping we'll get to see.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Errol Spence And The Great Boxing Hype Machine

Let's get something out of the way right here and now. Errol Spence is a talented dude. A really talented dude. Watching his match against Emmanuel Vargas with the sound off gives you some indication of just how skilled and nuanced a fighter the man truly is.

He's slick, powerful and fluid. He can hit hard and can get out of the way easily. Truly the man is a force to be reckoned with. If I'm not mistaken, Freddie Roach himself declared Spence to be a boxer on the rise. The fact that the sometimes prickly Roach doesn't train the Texan should tell you all you need to know here.

Yet I've become a bit wary of The Great Boxing Hype Machine lately, especially after seeing Adrien Broner drop another fight to another major opponent last Saturday. Remember when Broner was placed at the top of people's pound for pound lists? Me too. Again, I've become a bit wary of the Hype Machine, which now tells me Spence is the greatest thing since sliced bread and that talented rising stars like Keith Thurman had better beware.

Floyd Mayweather is a big supporter of Spence, after all. And since Floyd's been building up Spence lately, members of boxing's media have been very eager to cheerlead for the man. It's almost as if Floyd has decreed that Spence is the future of boxing and therefore it is so.

Yet while it's true Spence may indeed be the future, I can't shake memories of the Hype Machine's ballyhoo of Broner not so long ago. Or of a whole lot of other fighters before him. Spence may be terrific, but I'm still going to hold off before joining the canonization parade. I'm not a cynic, just a realist who knows that the Hype Machine is capable of getting carried away at times. Besides, Spence doesn't need me cheering him on. He's doing just fine as it is so far.

He also seems to be nicer than Broner.

That's got to count for something.  

It's Still Floyd Mayweather's World

Yup, the "Fight of the Century" just ended and people are already talking obsessively about Floyd Mayweather's next opponent. This makes sense, of course, since Mayweather is supposed to fight in September (although it's doubtful Showtime - who Floyd has a contract with - would care if Mayweather decided to fight later). One has to wonder, though, what will happen when Mayweather finally is out of the picture. It's going to happen, after all, whether Floyd retires or overstays his welcome.

Indeed, Mayweather is absolutely, positively a one man show when it comes to the sport of boxing right now. No one - no one at all - can reach across the margins and grab hold of casual fans like Floyd can. What's more, it doesn't look like anyone will be able to so in the near future, either. And that's not good for boxing.

Think about it - by the end of the Hagler-Leonard-Hearns era, Mike Tyson was already established as a household name and international star. Same goes for Oscar De La Hoya at the end of the Tyson era. Who's out there to take the reins from Mayweather, though? Canelo Alvarez? GGG? Maybe - but those dudes have a long way to go before they're ready to become names that non-boxing fans are familiar with.

At least some of this might have to do with Mayweather himself, truth be told. He's a marketing genius, after all. Seriously.  The fact that he has no major endorsement contracts and has a serious criminal record to his name only adds to the unlikeliness of his triumph. Consider this - Floyd's the highest paid athlete in the world  and a household name - despite all the odds that would indicate otherwise. That's the very definition of success.

And part of Mayweather's success may stem from the fact that he lets it be known over and over and over again that he's the biggest show in town. Tyson was deferential to the greats of the past. Floyd says he's better than them. Such hubris can have an effect and that effect might well be people believing no one else is worthy of the spotlight. Manny Pacquiao was the exception, but Mayweather bested him...and now there's no one else.

And, again, that's something of a problem.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Why Tim Bradley Is Unappreciated

People are strange. You don't have to have to be a Jim Morrison fan to realize that. If you want to see just how odd people can be, take a look at boxing fans. We endlessly discuss, philosophize and guess at the future of someone like Adrien Broner, a fighter of questionable skill and character, yet yawn and roll our eyes every time Tim Bradley is mentioned.

Why is that? Would anyone for a single minute think Broner could best Bradley in the ring at this point? Would anyone for a single SECOND prefer to have their kids emulate the likes of Broner over the likes of Bradley, a hard working and devoted parent? What exactly is it about us that we'd rather give more of our time to Broner than to Bradley? This is a sincere question, by the way, not an act of finger pointing.

I'm sure it all has something to do with human nature. There's an allure to the darkness, after all. It's why movies like "Goodfellas" are so timeless. It's why Billy the Kid nearly got a pardon well over a century after murdering a New Mexico lawman. It's why bad boys "get all the love."

In the end, however, it's the bad boys that generally crash hard. Or in the case of Broner, keep crashing hard (is he ever going to win another major fight at the rate he's going?). Guys like Bradley, on the other hand, keep striving, keep challenging themselves, and keep succeeding.

So, is there any chance at all that Bradley will be get the adulation of fans without becoming a complete jerk in the process? Indeed there is, but I don't think Bradley should take it. For the way to work his way into the hearts of contemporary fans is for Bradley to become a warrior rather than the craftsman he should be.

Bradley tried the warrior bit with Provodnikov, remember?  Sure, people started admiring the guy, but he risked doing serious damage to himself. Think those admiring fans would care if Bradley had ended up being seriously hurt? Bradley is at his best when he fights like he did against Marquez. The fans may not like it, but it gives him success.

And success, in the end, is what will secure Bradley's legacy - with or without the love of the public.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Why Shawn Porter - Not Adrien Broner - Deserves Everyone's Attention

Once again, Adrien Broner stole the spotlight on Saturday evening. All eyes were on him - on his flash, his arrogance, his breathtaking self confidence. The following day, Sunday, the boxing press couldn't stop talking, and writing about the man. What did Saturday's ring performance mean for  Broner? Where would the popular fighter go from here? Make no mistake about it, Adrien Broner owned the weekend.

Sure, he also happened to have gotten soundly beaten at the hands of Shawn Porter in front of a live internationally televised audience, but no matter. This was Broner, after all, the guy who after the fight claimed he'd take Porter's girl out to dinner, as if that same Porter hadn't just repeatedly punched him in the face and made him look scared mere minutes earlier.

Broner, in case you haven't guessed it, is cool. And when you're as cool as Broner, it doesn't matter if you win or lose, you will still be the center of attention - so much so that you can continue to mockingly dismiss your bettors, even after they've made you look like an ass in front of millions. Why? Because you know that people will want more.

The question now, of course, is how many people will want more of Broner after Saturday. Let's face it - boxing writers and fans can be a rather mean spirited bunch. There's a tendency among their ranks to think one person demeaning another person is pretty funny stuff. They may think Broner's a joke, but they're amused by him. So boxing's public will probably continue to watch and show interest in the individual known as "The Problem."

It's questionable, however, whether or not most sports fans will get the joke. The NFL, for instance, may not be a bastion of morality, but it's hard to imagine a player with Broner's behavior and attitude getting the pass from football's media and fan base the way Broner does with boxing's.

That's not good news for the people who want to bring "the sweet science" back to the general public. The good news, of course, is that Porter was the real winner on Saturday - nice, humble, tough as nails Porter. Boxing's public may, by and large, tolerate Broner - or even like him in many cases - but the future popularity of the sport may actually rest with fighters like Porter - the nice guy who can beat up the bully.