Thursday, December 31, 2015

Racism In Boxing - Is Floyd Mayweather Right Or Wrong About It?

Some things are worth pondering over.

Okay, so Floyd Mayweather has spoken out about there being racism in boxing. He's taking heat for this, but his comments are worth contemplating - even in this day and age, where insane political correctness seems to hold society in a stranglehold.

First and foremost, there is no institutional mainstream racism to speak of within the sport. The Jack Johnson era is clearly over. Still, Mayweather argues that the lack of recognition given to Andre Ward is indicative of  prejudice. It's hard to agree with Floyd on this, either, however, since Ward, frankly, doesn't fight much.

Furthermore, fighters like Manny Pacquiao, along with Mike Tyson and Ray Leonard before him, have proven to be wildly popular. Needless to say, none of those men are white, Central American, or South American. So...does Floyd's argument hold any truth to it at all? It actually might, when it extends outside of boxing. For Floyd speaks of a double standard which pertains to combat sports as a whole.

Here's the truth - the media love and adulation given to UFC star Ronda Rousey before her defeat to Holly Holm literally had me wondering this past summer if she was the newest incarnation of the great white hope. Ask yourself this - would Rousey have been as beloved by the cocktail party media set if she were from Mexico?

What's more, current UFC bad boy/bad ass Connor McGregor - a white guy - is indeed applauded these days for being obnoxious...I saw and heard jocular accolades for his behavior myself just the other day on a popular podcast. So, yeah, Floyd may have a point - when it pertains to particular mixed martial artists. Let's be honest, though, MMA isn't boxing. And the racial favoritism Floyd speaks of comes - if it indeed exists - largely from the media and not from MMA combatants or MMA fans. Floyd is a lot more wealthy and well known than McGregor is, frankly.

What's more, Floyd willfully made himself into a villain for public consumption...that's something he should ponder. Lastly, McGregor and Rousey have thrilling styles whereas Floyd (and Ward) are essentially technicians.

This isn't to say Floyd might not have a point (at least when it comes to the media), it just means the whole thing has to be viewed objectively. The bottom line is this, prejudice still exists in society. And, yeah, that's something worth noting. Still, it pays to be specific and to not paint with too broad a brush when making serious accusations.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

So...Can Bradley Win?

Some may actually watch this match intently

Okay, so most aren't that happy about Manny Pacquiao - supposedly - wrapping up his career by facing Timothy Bradley for a third time. The first two bouts, as everyone knows, weren't exactly of the Hagler-Hearns variety. Still, we're getting the fight, like it or not, so we may as well ask the only question truly worth asking at this point:

Can Timothy Bradley pull it off this time?

If you ask most fight fans, they'll tell you Bradley clearly lost the first two bouts with Pacquiao - even though he was given the insanely controversial decision nod the first time around. Indeed, the consensus is pretty much that the Pacquiao-Bradley saga is essentially finished business at this point in time.

With that in mind, though, there is a bit of spice that has been recently thrown into the mix. Frankly,it doesn't make this third go round Pay Per View worthy, but it makes the match itself somewhat interesting, nonetheless. For Bradley is now with Teddy Atlas and - yeah - he seems rejuvenated.

Granted, the Atlas-Bradley pairing has only seen itself through one fight - and that was against a far from his best Brandon Rios - but, let's face facts here, Bradley looked terrific. Sharp, smart and dominant, it was a stellar performance from the guy known as Desert Storm. If he looks that good against Pacquiao, will things suddenly turn interesting?

That may well depend on Manny himself. The guy won't have been in the ring for close to a year when he meets Bradley in April. He'll also have recently gotten surgery on his shoulder. And let's not forget his age. Manny is no kid. Lastly, there's the sense that - even if it isn't his last fight - Pacquiao's career has clearly seen it's zenith.

So yes, Bradley certainly has a good chance of winning in April. If only the fight weren't on Pay Per View, it might actually make for must see viewing.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pacquiao-Bradley III Would Be A Great Fight - On HBO

Why not put the fight on pay cable?

People are unhappy right now because word is out that Manny Pacquiao may indeed face Timothy Bradley yet again for his "going away" fight in April. First off, I'm not convinced it will be Manny's last trip to the ring. What's more, I'm not crazy about seeing Manny and Tim face off again myself, unless, of course, they were to get it on live on HBO. Then I'd love to see it.

Here's the thing. People today avoid rematches for no particular good reason. What's wrong with a rematch, I ask you? Yeah, you've seen the fight before, but things change. Robinson fought LaMotta a lot, but you don't hear people complaining about it now. Why? Because it was a classic series of fights. Robinson won the vast majority of them, but LaMotta was trouble for Sugar Ray and everyone knew it.

Whether or not Bradley is trouble for Manny is debatable, but I wouldn't mind dedicating my Saturday night to see how a third go round between the two would work itself out. Both guys are terrific fighters, after all. What's more, now that Mayweather has retired they would be facing off to see who was the undisputed ruler of the welterweight division. That's good stuff. It's just not pay per view worthy stuff.

Asking people to pay a whole lot of money to see these two go at it yet again is ridiculous. The drama that will come from questions regarding Pacquiao's age and skill set - along with other questions pertaining to Bradley's teaming up with Teddy Atlas - won't provide enough enticement for people to cough up the better end of a hundred dollars. Why not just put the matchup on at nine pm some evening this spring for people to see on pay cable?

Because both Pacquiao and Bradley are expensive fighters, that's why. Indeed, at this point they might be too expensive for fans to bother paying to see face one another. Honestly, does anyone picture this fight doing the kinds of numbers Cotto-Canelo did, much less Manny-Floyd? The idea of a third fight is fine by me. The idea of putting it on Pay Per View? Not so much.

Oh well, maybe Manny will end up fighting Amir Khan after all, anyway.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Canelo May Be Over-Hyped, But He Shouldn't Be Hated

Some of us can't figure out why people are so wild for Alvarez.

So yes, Canelo Alvarez gets himself a ton of love both inside and outside of the boxing industry. Just today, in fact, ESPN named him Fighter Of The Year. Why this is, I must confess, is beyond me. Canelo had a good year for himself, but I have a hard time believing top honors should be his - especially when Floyd bested Manny and Tyson trumped Wlad. Still, popularity apparently means a lot to people and Canelo is nothing if not popular at the moment.

Here's the thing, though - there's a flip side to this coin. And right now people are tiring of Canelo, of the fact that he doesn't seem eager to fight GGG, of the fact that he seems on the verge of being a catchweight king, of the fact that, as Dan Ambrose of Boxing News 24 points out, his performances are overly impressive  to ringside judges. Such things can rankle true blue fans, after all  and can lead to resentment. Indeed, the criticism being lobbed at the man right now is justified, in my opinion.

But, still -  I don't think the guy should be hated.

First off, it's ridiculous to hate anyone. More germane to the subject at hand, however, Canelo has done nothing yet to prove himself worthy of scorn (though he now is certainly worth keeping a wary eye on). If he passes on a fight with Golovkin in 2016, THEN there will be something to get angry at. He hasn't passed on that match, though, and even though I think the wait for Alvarez-Golovkin is BS, I also think Canelo has proven himself too brave a warrior in the past for people to start writing him off entirely.

Austin Trout. Floyd Mayweather. Erislandy Lara. Miguel Cotto. These are not easy opponents to step inside the ring with. It takes courage to face such challenges, no matter how well one is being compensated. So no, I do not think this is a man who should be thrown into the same category as Adonis Stevenson and Danny Garcia - at least not yet.

And until proven to be less than what he has led us to believe he is, we fans should refrain from bashing Canelo. Sure, he's a bit over-hyped at the moment, but that's through no fault of his own. That's something worth keeping in mind. Also, how many contemporary fighters have been so eager to prove themselves as often as Canelo has? Fans should cut him a little slack - at least for the time being.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

What If Gennady Golovkin Continues To Be Avoided in 2016?

Golovkin simply can't let opportunities walk away.

I know, I know, Gennady Golovkin is supposed to fight Canelo Alvarez in a middleweight superfight next year. But what if that fight never happens? As far as I know, no contract has been signed. What's more, if Oscar De La Hoya was so eager for his fighter Canelo to fight GGG, wouldn't he be openly chomping at the bit, rather than going on about letting the fight "marinate?"

So no, I'm not entirely sure Golovkin will meet Canelo next year. I'm also not entirely sure the WBC will take the middleweight strap away from Canelo as many expect it to do if he avoids fighting GGG. This is boxing, folks, and it's a nasty business indeed. Canelo is popular and lucrative, and those two things are, sadly, more important than talent and skill in the current fight game.

To make matters worse, fighters like Billy Joe Saunders and Daniel Jacobs have made it clear that GGG is just too good for them to face unless a ridiculous amount of money is thrown their way, Golovkin is on quite a run, but in a lot of ways, it sucks to be GGG right now. For he's fighting during a time when boxing's new breed of fan dictates how business is run. And the new breed wants its favorite fighters to beat up on less threatening fighters than GGG for as much money as can possibly be sponged.

What, then, will GGG do if the other big names at middleweight continue to avoid him? I've got no ready answers, but he may well want to start calling people out publicly. Very publicly. Chase these guys around, remind those fans who aren't part of the new breed just how less than sportsmanlike these fighters are over and over again. In other words, let the world see things for what they are.

Golovkin is, in public at least, a gentleman. He should remain that way. A gentleman, however, can still be outspoken and bold.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Why A Guerrero Win Might Be Good For Boxing - And The PBC

Fans tire of the same old, same old

First things, first. I'm not a PBC hater. I find it ridiculous that people would want to see any series that airs boxing regularly on (relatively) free television to fail. I WANT to keep seeing the fights on television all the time. Heck, I even enjoy watching the lesser known fighters throw down. Why? Because I love boxing. So no, there's no way in the world I want to see Premiere Boxing Champions go down in flames.

That being said, there's room for fixing. If there's two big things I see that need improvement within PBC it's that: a) more matches between honcho Al Haymon's top fighters need to be made and, b) the high profile bouts need to be less predictable. In other words, there needs to be a major upset in the air.

While it's true that Shawn Porter's handy win over Adrien Broner might have been a slight upset, everyone knows those two were essentially evenly matched walking into the ring that night earlier this ear. Truth be told, the fact that Porter had to lose weight for the bout may have been the only thing that gave Broner any supposed edge whatsoever.

What the PBC needs, then, is an upset of note, one that makes fans say, whoa. If such an upset were to occur when, say, Danny Garcia faces the shopworn Robert Guerrero, well, people would be buzzing. Indeed it would sprinkle the spice of unpredictability onto a series which needs a bit of spice to take it where it should be.

People talk when there's a major upset, after all. And talk leads to ratings. See where this is going? What's more, a big upset may help some notable fighters like Adonis Stevenson see that real challenges can appear despite one's best intentions to avoid them. In other words, it may be worth throwing caution to the wind if one doesn't want to eventually end up being laughingstock.

Make no mistake about it, I'm not publicly cheering on Guerrero here. Danny Garcia is a good, exciting fighter and an all around decent human being (he's done his part to help kids here in Connecticut, even though he comes from Philadelphia). It's just that sometimes it's good for things to be shaken up a bit.

It's also worth noting that a loss can eventually become a win if one handles it properly. Wasn't it Ray Leonard himself, after all, who claimed his loss to Duran helped make him the fighter he ultimately became?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Cotto-Canelo Reportedly Does Strong PPV Numbers

Well, I have to admit, I'm surprised here. Honestly, I believed the Canelo-Cotto PPV would be a bit of a dud as far as pay per view buys were concerned. Clearly, I was wrong. Or at least I was wrong according to some well placed individuals who are in positions to know the truth. Yup, heavy media hitters Dan Rafael and Kevin Iole are claiming HBO has announced the card brought in 900,000 buys.

That, my friends, is good for the sport of boxing. For unless there's some terrible conspiracy at work here and both Rafael and Iole have been deceived, the numbers are legitimate. Who would have thought after all the disappointment that came with the Mayweather-Pacquiao card last May? Who would have thought after the relatively low numbers that came with the Golovkin-Lemiuex card this autumn?

Well, actually, a lot of people expected Canelo-Cotto to be a huge hit. I simply wasn't one of them. The fact that neither Cotto nor Canelo seemed interested in facing the formidable GGG in the future in a legitimate 160 lb fight doomed the numbers to the lower end of the scale - or so I thought. Truth be told, though, these numbers released today indicate that fans really do love a good matchup based on its own merits. This, of course, leads me to deepen my suspicion that titles no longer matter in the sport of boxing.

Then, of course, there's the Rousey-Holm aftershock factor. Could it be that the enormous MMA upset a week earlier wet fan's appetites for the Canelo-Cotto shindig? Could it be that former boxer Holm's decisive victory over media darling Rousey made the sweet science all the more appealing a few days after such a stunning achievement? I think both things may very well be likely.