Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Could Boxing Take A Lesson From The Maria Sharapova Story?

Perhaps you've heard by now - tennis star Maria Sharapova has been banned from playing professional tennis for two years - that's a hell of a long time - for doping. Funny how boxers who get caught doping don't seem to receive those types of punishments, even though boxers - unlike tennis players - can literally kill one another in the practice of their trade.

Nope. What we get in boxing is TUEs and arguments of "mistakes" and "small amounts." Best of all, we get arguments of "who even cares?" or "if you had a clue about this or that drug then you'd know it's no big deal." Again, we're talking about a sport where people concuss one another. That makes it a big deal to me.

Look, I'm not saying that every fighter who ever tested positive for a banned substance is a juicer. Nor am I saying that draconian punishments should be the law of the land. Is it wrong to ask, though, if those who handed Sharapova down her punishment got it right? Or if the UFC gets it right for it's supposed "no excuses" policy?

As Gennady Golovkin makes clear, boxing isn't a sport to be taken lightly. It's serious, serious, business...sometimes of the life and death variety. Are we so open minded that we're laissez faire about individual fighter's well being? If we are, then I argue we're not open minded at all. Rather, we're sociopathic.

Fortunately, I don't think we are. At least not the vast majority of us.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Muhammad Ali - A Complex Man Who Died In A Way-Too-Simple Time

I've been upset at the passing of Muhammad Ali this week. In a nation where celebrities come and go, this was a man who was timeless. Not only that, he was the single greatest representative of the sport I love. What's more, he was a social icon who fought against injustice. Lastly, I'll never forget the guy literally rescuing American prisoners from Iraq (Google it if you have to). How could such a person not be missed?

Here's the thing, though: Ali wasn't perfect. Not by a long shot. Piers Morgan is in trouble for pointing out controversial things Ali said. Well, if Ali said those things, why should Morgan be in trouble? Why should he be essentially accused of racism by hipster celebrities? The answer, sadly, is obvious. We live in simplistic times where nuance is most certainly not allowed. Scared?You should be.

My favorite movie of all time is Patton. Starring George C Scott, it deals with one of Americas' greatest heroes - while actually showing his flaws. The point of the film, though, is that Patton is/was a great man, despite his defects. See, the script by Francis Ford Coppola showcased the fact that heroes are human. And we mere mortals have shortcomings, some of them quite pronounced. End of story. 

The bottom line is that Muhammad Ali was indeed a great man, one that will rightfully be sorely missed, particularly among fight fans. That doesn't mean his flaws should be glossed over, however. For to elevate the man to something beyond human is to actually diminish his achievements. We succeed in spite of our shortcomings, after all, not because those shortcomings don't exist. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Vargas And Salido Show Why Boxing Is Awesome

As an English professor in my other life I like to be somewhat academic, or at least mature in my word choice. In other words, I don't want to come across as a sophomoric fanboy on my blog. Sometimes, though, you just have to say screw it. And this is one of those times. Last night's Vargas-Salido fight showed why boxing is awesome. Period.

Balls. Balls, I tell you, are what these two fighters showed in the ring. Yeah, it was a draw, but I was okay with it. In fact, it was one of those rare instances, where I felt any decision could be justified. The last time I felt that was after the first Mayweather-Maidana fight. Yup, bouts that close are a rarity.

And seriously, how can you not admire these two fighters?Truth be told, Salido's  been such a dirty bastard, that I haven't much cared for him. Until, of course, last night. After last night I admire the hell out of him. Here's a guy who grew up poor, struggles to earn a living without having incredible talent (though he's more talented than some might think), and who BRINGS IT. Sure, he's got his short comings, but he's a true warrior, not ifs, ands or buts about it.

Huge props for Vargas, as well. He didn't shrink, not for a minute. from Salido's bravura assaults. In fact, he was frequently the attacker. Long story short, whatever they paid Vargas last night ain't enough. He deserves another home cooked meal at his mom's - so long as he's careful with the beef.

People look at me like I'm dressed in dated clothing when I tell them I'm a boxing writer. They just don't get it. Perhaps if they had tuned into HBO last night, they would have.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Larry Holmes' Famous Act Of Respect For Muhammad Ali

"Howard Cosell," the man said as he looked at the camera with a puzzled face, "who's he?"

The man on camera was, of course, Muhammad Ali. And anyone who knew anything knew that Ali was perfectly aware of who Howard Cosell was. Of course, at the time, I didn't know anything. How could I? I was just a kid. Yet even I knew the colorful Ali, despite the fact his days of ring glory were well behind him.

Funny, famous and literally "the greatest" during his heyday, that's what I knew Ali to be when I was young. Oh, the man was still fighting, but everyone - even I - knew his best days had passed. Still, I remember pulling for Ali when he tried for one last shot at glory against the great Larry Holmes. It was Ali, after all. He was someone special, advancing age be damned.

"See that moon?" me grandfather asked, pointing to a moon which was visible in the midday sky. "That guy's going to send your buddy over it." That was my grandfather's prediction for the impending Ali-Holmes showdown. I remember my father and I being amused. Grandpa, who knew his stuff, was simply saying what everyone else was. But we knew better. We had faith.

But faith in worldly matters too often proves fallible. Holmes ended up breaking his own heart through his utter dominance of Ali. Indeed, had he wanted, Holmes may well have been able to send Ali over the moon that night, fulfilling Grandpa's prediction. Holmes didn't want that, though. He was too decent a guy.

He was also a guy who knew this wasn't the Ali of yore. In fact, he probably knew it better than anyone, as Holmes had been Ali's sparring partner when he was younger. Now, though, it was Holmes who was champ. But champions, if they're worth a damn, respect their own. And just as a younger Ali had spoken flatteringly of  Rocky Marciano, Holmes held back from doing what he essentially had every right in the world to do that evening - utterly destroy his opponent.

It wasn't that Holmes couldn't do it. It's that he wouldn't do it.

Some adversaries simply earn that kind of respect.

RIP Muhammad Ali.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Is This Ruslan Provodnikov's Last Chance?

I admit to being a solid Chris Algieri fan, but to this day I still stick by my initial impression that Ruslan Provodnikov beat the man when they met a few years ago. The judges of that fight clearly disagreed, however, and it's been pretty much downhill from there for the man known as the Siberian Rocky.

Until, perhaps, now.

Having teamed up with the esteemed Joel Diaz - who used to train rival Tim Bradley - Provodnikov may benefit from having a fresh pair of eyes. The first true test will, of course, come next week when the Russian faces John Molina in a televised bout. This is a gritty, fan friendly sort of affair, but if Provodnikov wants to be more than a gritty, fan friendly fighter who struggles for diminishing paydays, he's going to have to look good here.

Should Molina win next weekend, it will be hard to see where Provodnikov will go from there. The loss he took last year after an all out war with Lucas Matthysse diminished his appearance as a high end fighter (as did his less than stellar performance against Algieri). There are serious junior welters out there like Crawford and Postol, after all. People will only pay serious attention for so long.

With that in mind, a Provodnikov who is at the top of his game will not only thrill fans, he will impress critics if he shows the teaming with Diaz  is particularly beneficial. Everyone knows Provodnikov is exciting. Now let's see if he can be more than that.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Can Fury Do It Twice?

Tyson Fury is a wild man. An offensive, perhaps crazy, wild man. He's interesting, though. I feel there may be some decency there, too. Being flawed isn't the same as being evil, after all.  When it comes to boxing, however, there's only one thing that matters - can the dude fight? I say yes, despite what the critics and others analysts may believe.

Indeed, the man is fast for a near giant. What's more, he's got an effective skill set. Lastly, and yes, this is important - he has the ability to get in people's heads. At least he has the ability to get in Wladimir Klitchko's head. That, more than anything, I believe, led to Klitschko losing his heavyweight crown last November.

A lot has changed since that time, though. Fury got fat, for starters. He also showed a marked disinterest in boxing. Now, that may just be Fury's way. Perhaps he's one of those people who simply has "down moments." Actions are what ultimately tell the tale, after all, and if the Englishman shows up primed and mentally sharp for his rematch with Klitschko, then there's obviously enough interest there for him to continue on in the sport.

If he can't summon the will to train hard enough to win, though, if he can't enact the discipline needed to show up in the ring this July both in shape and determined (provided it's not already too late), his reign as heavyweight king may well prove to be a brief one. That's if Klitschko is able to psychologically deal with Fury's bullying, that is. Indeed, the results this summer may have as much to do with the Ukrainian's frame of mind as they do with Fury's.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What Canelo's Next Opponent Might Tell Us

So yeah, there's currently a lot of criticism out there for Mr. Canelo Alvarez. It's understandable, too. Reason away things all you want, fans have a right to see the best fight the best in a timely fashion...and pushing off a Canelo-GGG fight until at least next year is going to rightfully put off fans. Strange how boxing is the only sport I know of where the fans take a back seat (why is the UFC growing in popularity, you ask?).

At any rate, I have no idea what Canelo or his promoter Oscar De La Hoya are truly thinking, so I'm going to hold off criticizing these men outright. It's important to be fair, after all, especially in this age of click bait and knee jerk reactions. With that in mind, though, I feel Canelo's next choice of opponent might speak volumes regarding what his and Oscar's future plans are.

Should Canelo indeed surprise the world and face GGG next, well then all will - or should - be forgiven. Few think that will happen, though, so let's see what the other options are. There's challenging middleweights and junior middleweights out there like David Lemieux, Erislandy Lara and even Andy Lee. Should Canelo face men such as these, there may be good reason to believe the guy seriously wants to challenge himself...perhaps even in prep for a GGG showdown.

Should Canelo go the route of  Danny Garcia, however - or, worse yet, the route of Adonis Stevenson, then we know the parties' over, that he's a guy who is just cashing in while hoping GGG will decline through age or simply go away. Let's hope we don't hear a name from left field mentioned as the man's opponent this time around.

Then, of course, there's the save face move, otherwise known as Billy Joe Saunders. Saunders is a belt holder at middleweight, and like Canelo, has arguably appeared skittish of GGG. Since Saunders isn't seen as too much of a threat, at least in comparison to Golovkin, this may be the guy Oscar and Canelo try to get in the ring. Saunders seems like he may - "may" being the operative word here -  be a modern, risk averse fighter, though so he might simply have no genuine interest in a Canelo challenge.

So, in summations: none of us know where everyone's favorite red haired warrior is headed at this point, but by mid to late summer, the direction may indeed be clear.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Why We Still Love Marvin Hagler

Happy Birthday to the Marvelous one, Mr. Marvin Hagler. It's hard to believe that this legendary fighter from my youth is now 62 years old. Thinking back over all the time that's passed, I'm a bit surprised - though pleasantly so - that the man is considered such an icon today.

For the longest time I stated he beat Ray Leonard in their famous 1987 bout, but I'm going to probably have to look at it again now that it's been a while to make a fair re-assessment. Still, the conclusion of that fight - where the insanely popular Leonard won a controversial split decision over the grizzled Hagler - should arguably have been enough to confine Hagler to permanent Sonny Liston status. You know, the man forever known as a tough guy who was out-slicked by an icon.

That hasn't been the case, though. Indeed, Hagler has earned icon status himself over the ensuing decades. I think this is at least partially due to the fact that he never fought Leonard a second time. For Hagler was convinced judges would never give him a fair shake, and - knowing boxing - whose to say he wasn't right?

What Hagler's decision not to fight Leonard twice ultimately meant, however, was that their first fight would always be clouded in controversy, that there would never be a universal belief that Leonard really won their fight. In a sense, Hagler gave himself the role of Jack Dempsey to Leonard's Gene Tunney. Sure, Leonard and Tunney won, but millions have remained unconvinced of the validity of their victories.

Even more importantly, though, Hagler - like Leonard - now represents the kind of fighter who is willing to challenge himself, who isn't afraid to take a loss or even get knocked out. That's impressive stuff in this age of safe bets and avoidance. Here's hoping the memory of Hagler and his sportsmanlike disposition continues to live on...marvelously, of course.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Like It Or Not, Personality Matters In Boxing

I have to admit I'm uncomfortable writing this piece. Those of us who are essentially unassuming types always feel like we're runners up in the great race of life - even when we win - because it's the bombastic or showy or glittery types who seem to get all the attention and love. Indeed, the shining personalities are the ones that draw in attention and interest. It just is what it is.

And it's all particularly true in boxing. In an era of the UFC, an age of strangleholding, headbashing love and adoration, Floyd Mayweather managed to rule supreme, even though he was a technical and highly defensive boxer. Why? Because Floyd's personality was stellar as far as marketing goes. He didn't promote his fighting style - he promoted himself - and it paid off handsomely.

The same rings true for heavyweight kingpin Tyson Fury. Let's face it, the man's upset win over Wladimir Klitscko early last winter was a snooze fest. Yet Fury himself is media dynamite. Call him a hater, a Neanderthal or just plain crazy, the man draws in the kind of attention his considerable fighting skills are just unable to.

All of which brings us to Mr. Canelo Alvarez. Oscar De La Hoya seems to feel that letting a fight between Canelo and GGG marinate indefinitely will torture fans enough to bring about a Mayweather-Pacquiao sized payday. After all, it worked out pretty good for Floyd and Manny, didn't it?

Sure it did - but Canelo's not Floyd. He's kind of unassuming, like the rest of us. Add in the fact that he's not as good a fighter as Floyd and Manny were and Oscar's move is clearly more risky than he himself may think. Like it or not, personality matters in boxing - and Canelo can't bring in eyeballs on personality alone.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Canelo's Reputation Takes A Major Hit

Look, I don't know what's in Canelo Alvarez' heart. I also have to come clean and admit I'm not a professional fighter. That pretty much means I'm in no position to charge someone who takes punches for a living of cowardice. In other words, I have no interest in being a keyboard warrior. I just want to be fair and call it like I see it.

And here's how I see it now that Canelo has given up his WBC title:

The man's reputation has taken a serious hit. It doesn't matter if he did the smart thing, the savvy thing or the strategic thing...he looks bad right now. Will the man's reputation be able to survive this? I don't know, but I can't imagine this sort of stain washing off too easy.

Canelo has given up his title freely, after all, so that a man who wants to fight him can have it without a fight. What's more, this comes after Canelo literally knocked a pumped up welterweight senseless less than two weeks ago. It doesn't look good, my friends, It just doesn't look good at all.

Again, I don't know what's in Canelo's heart. I'm not criticizing Canelo's decision here, nor am I criticizing his team. I'm simply analyzing the public fallout from that decision. Needless to say, that fallout is fairly harsh.

Perhaps Canelo will end up fighting GGG in September. That could end up being a reputation savior. Indeed, it would pretty much be the only way to wipe out the memory of what's just transpired.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Boxing Isn't Fighting - It's A Sport

It really is as simple as that.

I remember the scraps I got into as a young man. I won some. I lost some. I was a kid and neither I nor my opponents were or were to become tough guys. We were just children settling things the way children did back then. Here's the thing, though - we fought dirty. I remember hair pulling and ball kicking to be two of my favorite moves. Such things would never be allowed in a boxing ring. Why? Because boxing is a sport, not a fight.

Fighting is dirty. It consists of two people doing what they have to do to win. Boxing, on the other hand, requires rules and skills. Sure enough, the best boxers in the world are rarely tough guys. Floyd Mayweather is a master tactician, perhaps one of the best to ever lace up a pair of gloves. I doubt, though, that anyone would consider him a tough guy.

Here's the truth - boxing used to look a lot more like real fighting than it does now. Guys fought with bare knuckles and were allowed to throw each other around. Those days are over, though. John L Sullivan would have had a far better chance of beating the hell out of Jim Corbett in 1892 if he were allowed to throw the guy around. He couldn't, however, because theirs was the first modern heavyweight title fight. That means Sullivan and Corbett were engaged in a sporting event rather than a brawl. And Corbett knocked Sullivan's ass out.

Look at it this way - could Ali have bested Foreman if they had fought in a bar parking lot? Could Mayweather have bested Pacquiao under such circumstances? What about Leonard?Could he have beaten either Hagler or Duran had there been no rules? The truth is that boxing is first and foremost a sport rather than a tough guy contest.

And frankly that's the way it should be. As they say, it's skills that pay the bills.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Time To Face Facts - Povetkin Should Be Punished If He Broke The Rules

Look, I've got nothing against Alexander Povetkin. He's a talented guy and it's nice to see a fighter get a big chance like Povetkin has/had against Deontay Wilder. Still, VADA, which is led by the serious Dr. Margaret Goodman, claims that Povetkin tested positive for meldonium last month. For those who don't know, meldonium is a recently banned substance that reportedly allows users to  keep exerting themselves more than they normally would.

Clearly, this is a big deal when it comes to a dangerous physical contest like boxing. Still, there are those out there who claim meldonium is really no big deal, that it's "probably" not even going to make that much difference for an athlete. Funny word, "probably." It doesn't make one feel quite as confident as the word "definitely" does.

Here's the thing - it doesn't matter if meldonium is dangerous, possibly harmless or completely harmless. Why? Because it's a banned substance and athletes - professional fighters, in particular - shouldn't be using banned substances. Those that do need to pay the consequences.

Now, none of this is to say Povetkin is actually guilty in all of this. He's still able to get a "B" sample run to prove whether he's broken the rules or not. People need to be fair, even in boxing. If the man did break the rules, however, then there should be no tisking or eye rolling. Those who might have a problem with the rules should take it up with WADA - the international anti doping organization. They shouldn't gripe about the stupidity of a public that feels those rules shouldn't be broken

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Let's Face It: Canelo-Khan Should Have Never Happened

Canelo Alvarez looked terrific against Amir Khan. He walked down a fast and very skilled opponent who had been frustrating him and laid him out in a fashion that will be long remember and replayed on countless video clips. Impressive stuff. There's a problem afoot here, though, one that needs to be mentioned:

This fight should have never happened.

Nope. Canelo should have fought the fearsome Gennady Golovkin, not a naturally smaller man from two divisions south of middleweight. At the very least Canelo should have faced a solid middleweight. This wasn't about matchmaking, though, so much as it was about sharp marketing. The goal was to have Canelo bring in money without really facing someone scary. So a top level welterweight was brought in to legitimize the proceedings.

And everyone went along with it - myself included. Oh, we let it be known that our eyebrows were raised, that we knew what the whole thing was really all about - but we still watched it, we still talked about it and, yeah, guys like me got a lot of clicks writing about it. And then we all sat there for a moment on Saturday night wondering if Khan would be able to get up. Something to think about.

It's understandable that we all bought into this - but from here on in we need to know better.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Why I'm Looking Forward To Fury-Klitschko II

So, while some are worked up for Canelo-Khan this weekend, my interest is also piqued for the heavyweight title bout later this summer between Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko. Sure, the first go round between these two was something of a bore, but Fury still managed to shock the world by taking Klitschko's crown.

And all the Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder talk in the world can't change all that.

Look, I like both Joshua and Wilder, but the truth is that Fury is the man at heavyweight by virtue of beating an aging Klitschko. And now we're going to find out if Fury is more than a novelty at the top of the heavyweight heap. He's gained a lot of weight since beating Klitschko, Fury has, and he often seems like something of a tortured soul. Like it or not, such things can impact the rematch.

As can Klitschko's mindset. Frankly, Fury got in his head he first time around. If Klitschko can enter the ring this time unfazed, things might well turn out different. Everyone talks as if this is the post-Klitschko era when the truth is, we really don't know.

Perhaps that's one of the reason's why this fight is of great interest to me - because it's relevant. And honestly, the same will never be said of Canelo-Khan unless Khan surprises a lot of people. As a fan of boxing, I like there to be meaning to the fights. Say what you will, but Fury-Klitschko II is about as meaningful as it gets.

Bring it on.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Why Canelo Has A Big Decision To Make

Canelo has things to ponder

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Canelo Alvarez is good for boxing. He's exciting, he's a decent guy (at least he was when we briefly spoke) and he brings some much needed attention to the sweet science here in the post Mayweather-Pacquiao era. With that in mind, however, Canelo has a big decision to make - provided he bests Amir Khan this weekend, as many suspect he will.

Yup, Canelo has to decide whether he wants to try to be a great fighter or if he'd rather be merely a lucrative fighter. There's a big difference between these two categories and only few are able to be both lucrative AND legitimately great. Canelo has certainly made a lot of money. What he hasn't done, however, is achieved greatness. At least not yet.

In order for him to do that, Canelo will either have to face Gennady Golovkin in the ring or give up his middleweight title and challenge himself at a weight he's more comfortable at. It really is that simple. While people will forgive Canelo for fighting the very skilled Amir Khan, the fact that Khan has never fought higher than welterweight has raised some eyebrows.

And while Canelo-Khan may well be a successful and popular fight, people will start losing respect, REALLY start losing respect, for Canelo if he continues to not face Golovkin while insisting he can keep the middleweight title. If he emerges from this weekend victorious, Canelo will indeed find himself entering a new chapter in his life with all eyes upon him.

Frankly, I'd like to see him face Golovkin. If he simply abandons the middleweight title, however, I can live with it. If Canelo wants to have his cake and eat it too, however, if he decides he wants to be king of the middleweights without fighting the number one contender, then he'll have lost me. Again, no matter what Canelo does, he can remain a hugely popular and lucrative athlete. There's big, relatively easy fights for him to make out there, after all.

In order to be great, however; in order for him to be more than a showcase fighter, he's going to have to do the uncomfortable thing. It's what greatness requires.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Does Boxing Need A Floyd Mayweather Comeback?

Believe it or not, it was a full year ago that Floyd Mayweather got it on with Manny Pacquiao for the most hyped and lucrative fight in history. Since then, both men have fought once and have subsequently declared themselves retired. Floyd, however, is hinting at a comeback. I myself wanted him to stay retired - and no, I'm no Floyd hater - but that may not be the case.

So, will a Mayweather return be good or bad for boxing? Frankly, it may depend on two things. First, will Mayweather get a lot of people to watch him fight? I was honestly a bit surprised by the lack of buzz that went with Floyd's Saturday interview during Showtimes' fight card. For it was then that he teased the world with the serious possibility of his returning to the ring - against Danny Garcia, no less.

Perhaps that was the problem. Perhaps people don't want to see him fight Danny. Or do they? The truth is, the Philly native has his fans. Either way, Floyd's next opponent will have to be someone who draws in the viewers if the fight is to be good for the sport. Then, of course, comes the second matter.

In order for a Floyd return to really help boxing, it might have to be - wait for it - exciting. And I'm not talking about the pre-fight hype, either. Seriously. People are simply not going to pull their hair out solely over another masterful display of defense - and make no mistake about it, the man is masterful. Nope, Floyd's comeback will have to showcase the excitement of Mayweather-Maidana I, at least, in order to give the sport the jolt it needs.

Could that possibly happen, though?

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.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Is Klitschko Being Written Off Too Soon?

Someone want to offer an opinion?

Let's face it - Wladimir Klitschko lost and lost soundly to Tyson Fury late last year. In my humble opinion, the mouthy Englishman got into Klitschko's head and won the fight through bullying tactics long before the two entered the ring. Since then, well, things have been exciting in the heavyweight division. Indeed, everyone seems to be acting as if the former heavyweight kingpin is long retired. Is this a mistake, though?

The truth is that Wlad and Tyson will be getting it on again this summer. That's a big fight if ever there was one. And if Wlad somehow finds away to adjust his frame of mind and style, he may once again find himself on top of the heavyweight heap. I can hear you moaning already and I understand. For Klitschko, nice as he is, is nothing if not a stoic, less than thrilling fighter of the continental European variety.

In other words, the man isn't suited stylistically for Anglo-American, Central American, or South American tastes. Still, Wlad is good. Quite good. And yeah, there's a chance he can best his antagonist soundly when he meets the obnoxious Fury once again this summer. That's something people should keep in mind.

Having said that, Klitschko's heyday is most likely at an end despite what happens in his next bout. For even if he wins, there's clear evidence that the tide is changing and that a new breed of heavyweight is emerging. With that in mind, however, it's worth wondering whether Fury is the face of a new era, or is simply  the person who rang it in.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Will Mayweather-Pacquiao II Really Happen?

You just can't force people to get excited

Like you, I find the idea of Mayweather-Pacquiao II ultimately exasperating. While it's true these are still probably the best fighters on earth - even at their advancing ages, it's hard to see the positives in all this. Chances are, after all, that the fight would be like the first one - not bad, but not great. Oh, it might be a bit more competitive than the original go round, but it still wouldn't be worth the attention it would inevitably receive.

More importantly, though, I - probably like you - want to see the sport move on. Senior tours are fine and all, but they shouldn't be what the sport is all about. When Leonard fought Hearns the second time around back in '89, it was a big deal, sure, but the sport was well into the Tyson era by that point. In other words, there was a new generation at the forefront. The older guys were just the cherry on a very big sundae.

How much things have changed. Now we have to have Duran potentially fighting in an exhibition in order to bring in pay per view buys. Sad, really. Still, a Floyd-Manny retread isn't the answer everyone's looking for. A new era led by new stars is. There's guys like GGG, Bud Crawford, Keith Thurman and Anthony Joshua out there. There's good fights to be made and possibilities to get excited over.

Yeah, things may be quiet for a bit on the pay per view front, but that's because fighter's haven't been allowed to organically develop in the way that they used to. We live in an era of Adonis Stevenson and Danny Garcia, not Leonard and Hearns. And so, yeah, it's going to be a bit before new stars make the leap from boxer to household name. It can happen, though, if the powers that be would actually step back and let it happen. Mayweather-Pacquiao II might arguably only hold things back.

With that in mind, however, I'd be sure to check it out.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Why I'm No Longer Impressed With Carl Frampton

Has Frampton turned his back on purists?

Believe me when I tell you, I used to be impressed with Carl Frampton. Truth be told, I had him pinned way back in 2013 as a man who might, just might, be able to beat Guillermo Rigondeaux. Looks like we'll never find out. And unless I'm sorely mistaken it's at least partially because Frampton and manager Barry McGuigan want nothing to do with the Cuban slickster.


Because there's more money to fight Leo Santa Cruz. For the record, Leo is a lot less of a challenge than Rigo is, too. Make of that what you will. Call me old fashioned. Call me stupid. Call me naive or even cruel, but I want to see the best fight the best. To me, boxing is a sport first and a business second.

And Carl Frampton's avoidance of Guillermo Rigondeuax tells me he and/or his camp put business first. It also strongly suggests that team Frampton is afraid to face Rigo. What's more, it suggests that team Frampton feels modern boxing fans are okay with fighters looking like, wait for it, ducks. Sadly, there are indeed many new breed boxing fans who applaud Frampton for playing it smart, avoiding the best challenge out there, and cashing in with easier work, but there are other types of fans, as well.

The new breed of fan may still be the controlling force of modern boxing, but it's power may be eroding. People really, truly do like to see the best fight the best...and they look down on fighters they feel avoid facing the best. Just ask Canelo Alvarez, who was extremely popular not all that long ago. Now he's just starting to look like a fighter with a strong fan base.

In short, Frampton won't get away from Rigo scott free. His name will always follow Frampton around, straight through to the Northern Irishman's eventual retirement. He may be avoiding an inconvenient foe, but Frampton is also weakening his own legacy. Perhaps he doesn't care. Fans such as myself do, however.

And there's more of us than some may think.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Is Manny Really Retired?

Stuff to ponder...

First things first - Manny Pacquiao looked terrific last night. Criticize all you want, if it were anyone but Manny, his showing would be universally lauded - as it pretty much is already. Before we go any further, though, let's give some props here to Tim Bradley, as well. The man is an amazing fighter in his own right. The bottom line is there's simply no shame or detriment in losing to certain timelessly elite individuals, and yeah, Manny is one of those. the man truly retired as he claims? Or almost claims? It's hard to tell, really. Truth be told, it seems like PacMan's family wants him out of the ring for good. What's more, he's running for a pretty high office back home in the Philippians. If he wins - and I suspect he will, though I haven't read any recent polls - it will take a whole lot of his time.

Still, as I've written elsewhere, boxing is like a siren song for aging fighters. It just keeps luring them in towards the rocks with promises of future accolades and copious amounts of cash. Let's face it, there has to be a certain rush to winning at a Manny Pacquiao level, as well. Then, of course, there's a certain Las Vegas native who himself has claimed to be retired. The two men have met before. Could it be possible that -

The truth is that one never knows. Manny-Floyd was widely considered a dud last year, true, but when aging fighters like Mayweather and Pacquiao continue to be better than their younger peers, it's only natural that people call for a second act. I suspect that Manny-Floyd II won't happen, though. The whole thing would just prove too knotty and headachey to pull off a second time.

That doesn't mean Manny is necessarily finished, however. There's a lot of talented young blood he could show up right now, after all. Should he though? Sometimes it's best to do what's right for oneself and one's family rather than one's fans.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Will Pac-Bradley III Be A Pay Per View Dud?

Let's not all get too excited here

Will the third Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight be a pay per view dud? I frankly have no idea since I'm a boxing writer, not a marketing analyst. Still, I think there's a lot wrong here, which is too bad, since I'm actually eager to see this fight go down. The undercard is good, too, which makes me even more eager to watch the festivities. Again, however, there's a lot wrong here.

First and foremost, this third fight between these most excellent fighters is most certainly NOT a pay per view affair, at least not at the price being charged, it isn't. As I've written before, this has the makings of one of the best HBO fights around, a ratings bonanza, not a PPV epic.The high cost of doing business with top level stars, however, has led to something no one I know of really thinks is a good idea. It's a good matchup, sure, but fans shouldn't have to pay just because of fighter's salaries and production costs.

There's also the matter that fans are tired of the whole Manny-Mayweather era. People want to move on. It's only natural. To insist that last year's big tickets are still this year's big tickets borders on insulting, especially when more interesting matchups could have been made with the talent involved.

Lastly, there's the matter of Bob Arum. Sure, he used to work for RFK, but boxing is not the place for liberal politics. Indeed, it's not the place for ANY politics. Fans tune in to get away from that sort of thing and now Arum's brought the already bombastic 2016 presidential election into the boxing ring with him.

Exasperating stuff.

Like all fans of the sport, I'd like to see boxing succeed. If Manny-Tim III tanks out on pay per view, however, the people behind it have only themselves to blame.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Win Lose Or Draw, Tim Bradley Deserves Credit. Here's Why.

Bradley's path has never been one of least resistance

Look at Tim Bradley's resume and try saying the man hasn't had an impressive career. Here's a guy who has fought absolutely everyone he's been able to. How many other name fighters can the same be said of in this day and age? In a sense, Bradley is the antithesis of the popular modern boxer. He works hard, he's not flashy, and he takes on all comers.

Which brings us to his third go round with Manny Pacquiao this Saturday. I personally think Desert Storm may pull it off this time, but even if he doesn't it's time to give the man the credit he deserves. He's Hall of Fame material by virtue of his list of victories alone. Never mind that first controversial Pacquiao fight. Let names like Provodnikov, Marquez and Peterson seep in. These are serious opponents the man has bested.

At the moment, Bradley suffers from the fact that he's essentially all go and no show. He's what we think we want in a fighter, but really don't. People don't expect the pay per view numbers for Pacquiao-Bradley III to do well. Just imagine how through the roof they'd be if the bout were between Pacquiao and the less capable but more colorful Adrien Broner instead. That's something worth thinking  about.

Still, there's little doubt that Bradley has managed to be exceedingly successful at the fight game. He's quietly earned a fortune while also earning the belated respect of fans. Now it's time for the guy to earn the love. Lesser fighters have gotten a lot more accolades than the California native has. There's something essentially wrong with that picture.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Can Gilberto Ramirez Beat Arthur Abraham?

Ramirez wants to be more than a face in the crowd

Some people may find Arthur Abraham to be old and over the hill. That may be so, but make no mistake about it, the old hand knows how to fight. Say what you will about the Armenian-German fighter, but Abraham brings it each and every time. It's also more than likely that the guy can still take out a wall.

Indeed, I'm almost looking more forward to Abraham's fight this weekend against undefeated contender Gilberto Ramirez than I am for more ballyhooed bouts featuring Bradley, Pacquiao, Martin and Joshua. For Ramirez is a man on the rise, a man who can give Abraham a real run - and also hand him a defeat - if he fights intelligently.

For Ramirez is far taller than Abraham. He's also shown that he has some heavy hands. Lastly, he can be patient. Last year, for instance, Ramirez remained disciplined rather that charging full speed ahead after he started scoring effectively against Gevorg Khatchikian. Yet Ramirez had claimed before that fight that he had to work on his defense. Sure enough, even though Ramirez won the bout by way of unanimous decision Khatchikian was still able to land.

If Abraham is able to land during the fight with Ramirez this Saturday, the up and comer from Mexico may find himself in real trouble. Naturally Ramirez wants to make his mark since he'll be fighting on the Pacquiao-Bradley undercard. He doesn't want to make his mark as the guy who Abraham turned the lights off on, however.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Why Do Some Boxers Get Preferential Treatment?

Why aren't some deserving fighters allowed to get a piece of the pie? 

I see it all the time and so do you - a particular boxer getting preferential treatment. Why, we ask ourselves, do certain fighters get catered to while others are left wanting?

Because, sadly, preferential treatment is part of the culture of professional boxing. Believe it. Since at least the time of John L. Sullivan, some boxers have been getting the okay to climb the ladder of success, while others have been held back from reaching their full potential. Don't believe it? Then ask yourself why Sullivan was allowed to refuse to defend his title against a black opponent back in the day.

This whole thing goes beyond ugly racial history, however. It has a lot to do with money, with the fact that, unlike other sports, boxing doesn't always require its participants to work for a goal in an objective manner. Sure, a champion will have to face a top contender, but sometimes it's worth wondering how that contender actually BECAME a top contender in the first place.

Indeed, boxing is entirely arbitrary in a lot of ways. Unlike The World Series, The World Cup, Wimbledon, The Super Bowl, The Kentucky Derby or any number of  major sporting events, boxing's big winners often aren't winners because they were the proverbial last man standing after the proverbial dust  settled. They're oftentimes winners because they've been managed well.

Look, boxing is the greatest sport in history - but the truth is the truth. And the fact is that it should be more competition-based rather than marketability based. Would we fans want that, though? How many fans would prefer it if so called "boring" fighters like Rigondeaux and Ward simply vanished into the ether?

My guess would be a whole lot. It's okay for us to criticize the sport we love, but sadly we sometimes have to accept the fact that we the fans are also part of the problem.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why Focus On Broner When There's Bradley?

Some things are just worth asking

A lot of people have taken to Twitter today to knock Adrien Broner for not making weight for a fight - and for subsequently losing a title belt on the scales - yet again. There are others, though, who have taken to the internet to inform the world that enough is enough when it comes to Broner, that he's worn out his welcome in the fight world.

The truth is I don't know what's wrong with Broner, but a lack of sportsmanship is a lack of sportsmanship. And not making weight repeatedly is, obviously,  indicative of chronic irresponsibility. So, even with all the outside the ring behavior, even with all the gloating and arrogance, it may be time to move on past Broner simply because he doesn't take his fighting career seriously enough.

Indeed, it's really hard to care about Broner when someone like Tim Bradley brings it over and over and over again. A family man, a hard worker and an individual who's eager to always improve his craft, Bradley is certainly a man worthy of attention - whether he beats Manny Pacquiao in their third match or not.

In fact, it may be worth wondering why Broner gets so much attention while the far more accomplished Bradley generally has spent his career under the radar. Sure, he's well known, but Bradley's just not the media magnet Broner is. Is showmanship that important? Is having a terrific resume simply not enough?

Sadly, at this point it's pretty clear what the answer is.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Top Eleven Pound For Pound Active Fighters

Some men stand alone

Here we are - with another top eleven list. Why eleven? Because ten is boring, that's why. Disagree with the selection? No problem. No one said this was holy writ. Feel free to express your opinions in the comment's section. With that in mind - he's my list of the eleven top active fighters in boxing:

  1. Manny Pacquiao: Go on and roll your eyes. The guy was the greatest out there not named Mayweather all the way up until a year ago and now Mayweather's retired. Speed, Angles. Power. The man has it all. And if he's lost a step? Well then he'll probably be knocked off his perch here after the Bradley fight. 
  2. Andre Ward: The guy looked good the other night. Real good. Some feel he lost some movement. I feel he may have just been putting more power into his shots. I used to favor Kovalev in a potential matchup. Now that we've seen Ward at light heavy, my opinion's changed.
  3. Sergey Kovalev: Still a bad, bad man. Power and skill? The dude's got him both. Who knows? He may end up besting Ward, after all. And if that's the case, that may make Sergey the best light heavy EVER - yeah, I said it. 
  4. Guillermo Rigondeaux: Lots and lots of people don't like the guy. Fair enough. No one in his general weight realm can beat him, though, with the possible exception of Vasyl Lomachenko. Don't think this guy's all that? Ask Frampton and Santa Cruz why they're probably fighting each other instead of him?  
  5. Gennady Golovkin: Extreme power and the mind of a chess master. There's a reason Oscar and Canelo want things to "marinate." Face it, you wouldn't want to fight the guy, either. 
  6. Roman Gonzalez: Speed. Power. Heart. Excitement. A pleasant personality. If there's something not to like about this guy, I want to know what it is. Indeed, this is one individual who may actually put smaller fighters in the spotlight. 
  7. Timothy Bradley: Even if he loses again to Manny, this guy should be on his way to the Hall of Fame. A warrior who's taken on all comers and has only lost to the PacMan. This guy's the real thing - the great under-rated fighter of our era.
  8. Keith Thurman: Yeah, Keith's still on my list. He's on shaky ground, though. It's been a while and his eagerness to become great seems to perhaps be tamped down a bit. We'll see how he does against Mr. Thurman in June.
  9. Bud Crawford: Yup - I've become a believer. This guy's the real thing. Will he rise to the top of the post Manny-Floyd era at 135-147? Time will tell. I wouldn't bet against the Nebraska native, though.  
  10. Wladimir Klitshcko: Yeah, he looked terrible against Fury. I'm going to chalk that up to a bad performance, though. He may not be the all time great we thought he was, but he's still earned a place on this list. Gotta win that rematch, though.
  11. Vasyl Lomachenko: Incredibly smooth. Unbelievably skilled. Intensely confident. And yet...I'm not entirely sold on the guy. The potential is there. He needs to prove himself against a top opponent, though. Not that he isn't willing to. The warrior spirit counts for something in these parts. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why Promoters May Have To Start Making Fan Friendly Fights

Fans may soon have something to smile about

Did you see Andre Ward last Saturday night? The guy looked good, didn't he? Unfortunately for HBO, the numbers for boxing haven't been great this year. Indeed, HBO hasn't given the world much boxing at all. Oh, and that Pacquiao-Bradley fight? The internet is abuzz wondering just how poorly it will do. Canelo-Khan is interesting, but no one's going nuts for it as far as I know. And what happens if Canelo wins, then decides he'd rather not bother with GGG? How long do you expect HIM to continue being boxing's top draw?

It's been said a million times - boxing is in a bad place right now. The truth, though, is that the sport may - MAY - be hitting bottom. And, believe it or not, that just might actually be a good thing. Interest in the sport has been in a real rut lately  and it's doubtful things will improve this Friday when Adrien Broner faces an opponent most casual fans have never heard of. Again, though, this may all prove to be a positive thing.


Because promoters are in the business of making money. And even the most patient network isn't going to produce events no one watches over and over again, ad infinitum,(especially if hedge fund money runs out). Boxing may not be at the point where even die hard fans are changing the channel just yet - but let's face it - it's getting awfully close to that point. And when that happens, you will probably be less apt to hear that fans "have to understand the business." The business will then do what businesses are supposed to - create quality product.

We're told over and over and over again that boxing is a business. That mantra has acted as a cloak for promoters for a while now.  Ironically, however, the business aspect of the sport may finally turn on them. And then things will start looking up. A gleam of hope may not be right around the corner  (Haymon can still pay for any crap he wants to put on the air, after all), but it may be on the horizon nonetheless.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Is Adrien Broner Becoming An Afterthought?

Broner needs to take a better path

First things first - I have no idea whether or not Adrien Broner is guilty of beating the hell out of some poor guy outside a bowling alley. What I do know, however, is that Broner's dysfunctional bad boy persona is catching up to him in that it's now clearly overshadowing any talent he shows in the ring. People used to be infuriated by Broner's arrogance. Now he's arguably laughed at more than scorned.

That's telling.

Of course, Broner might be taken more seriously if he fought people other than the likes of Ashley Theophane. That's no knock on Theophane, by the way. At this point I wouldn't be stunned if he pulled off the upset against Broner this weekend, making himself well deserving of any accolades he receives. The truth, however, is that Theophane isn't the known commodity Broner is, and there's a lot of dangerous opposition out there Broner could face right now.

At this point, I'm not even sure the Theophane fight is a case of classic Al Haymon matchmaking or if Haymon and company actually need to see if Broner can perform at the top level at this point in his career. It's not that Broner doesn't have talent. We all know he does. It's that everyone rightfully questions whether or not he takes that talent seriously enough.

Muhammad Ali had the biggest mouth in the world - but he'll always be known first and foremost for his ring accomplishments. Broner, on the other hand, is know known first and foremost for his antics. And not without good reason. If the man doesn't start proving himself in the ring, he'll simply vanish into the ether - if he hasn't begun to already.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Can Andre Ward Excite Boxing's Bored To Death Fans?

Let's face it, this hasn't been a thrilling year so far

So yeah, there hasn't been much boxing since before last Christmas. That's right, Christmas. It's almost Easter. Showtime supposedly has some good things lined up for the spring. Who knows if the network will lose interest in boxing again after that, though. At this point, the smart money would probably be on fans being denied regular broadcasts from summer through the late fall.

Not to get too bleak here, but it is what it is. I keep learning of boxing fans leaning towards MMA these days. Honestly, I doubt boxing's power players care. Again, it is what it is. So long as boxing's overlords have fans that will pay, they'll just keep squeezing that orange, the very picture of indifference.

Is there a bright spot in all of this? Well, there's ALWAYS a bright spot. It's why we keep tuning in. At this point, though, it's worth wondering just how bright that bright spot can be...and when the hell it will shine. The next few weeks don't look promising, but perhaps something promising will come from them.

This weekend we've got Andre Ward and Sullivan Barrera. The week after that we MIGHT have Adrien Broner and Ashley Theophane, provided Broner's legal problems don't prevent the fight from happening. The week after that we've got Manny-Tim, part three. I know, I know, it's beyond sad. Still, frowns can be turned upside down in the blink of an eye.

Call me crazy, but I have a feeling Ward may impress this Saturday. Seriously. I just have a feeling he'll make a statement and put Barrera away. The only thing more surprising than that might be to see Barrera win. That's unlikely, though. Ward is simply too talented.

Back to Ward, should he impress it would get fans, wait for it, EXCITED. For a big throwdown with Sergey Kovalev would then become a MAJOR throwdown. The biggest thing that plagues fans at the moment is that there's nothing to anticipate. While MMA nuts have UFC 200 to look forward to, boxing nust get to look forward to Canelo-GGG marinating some more (I get the feeling the marination process has just started).

Truth be told, however, I've always found Ward-Kovalev more interesting than Canelo-GGG anyway. Canelo is a star. Ward is a great fighter. And therein lies the difference. Let's hope Mr. Ward - or maybe even Mr. Barrera - heats things up for this slumbering fan base. It's been way too long.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Vasyl Lomachenko Makes The Fight World Take Notice

Loma has everyone's attention

First things first - I cannot tell a lie. The truth is that I'm not entirely sold on Vasyl Lomachenko yet as a fighter. Oh, he's good. Make no mistake about it, the guy has talent and a pedigree to burn. Is he great, though? The truth is he hasn't had nearly enough fights to qualify as being anything even close to great at this point.

In order for the man to earn the credit some are already giving him, he's got to take on solid opponents. Nicolas Walters, of course, is just such an opponent. A fight between the two men is something that I and a lot of other fight fans would love to see. And here's where it's time to give Loma props:

He wants the fight to happen, too.

Word on the net, however, is that Walters is asking for too much money for the fight to happen. In other words, the guy - rightly or not - may be pricing himself out. Loma, though, has presented a solution of sorts. He's offered, on Twitter of all places, to give Walters 300 thousand dollars should Walters beat him. There's a name for that sort of thing my friends...'s called balls.

And balls is what boxing desperately needs right now. While guys like Canelo are making public utterances about catchweights, MMA athletes like Conor McGregor are fighting bigger men on just a few weeks notice - and without hesitation. In other words, boxing's looking bad my friends. Loma deserves some credit for bringing some much needed electricity to the sport right now when it's really required.

Then again, could this all be a ploy on the part of Loma? Are we singing the praises of a trickster here?

After all, one could rightfully ask whether or not Loma could have quietly offered a cut in his own pay so that Walters would get extra money regardless of whether he won or lost. Would it be fair of anyone to make such demands of Loma, though? Honestly, I don't know. I don't want to fall for a publicity stunt, but I also don't want to demand fighter pay cuts, either.

What I do know is that the man's shaken things up a bit during a very quiet time for the sport.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Is Boxing About To Become Even MORE Marginalized?

Go figure

I'm a boxing fan to the death. Make no mistake about it. To me, boxing is the single greatest sport on earth - hands down. With that in mind, it's going through some hard times right now, some really hard times. That doesn't mean I believe the sport is going to fall off the face of the earth. Indeed, I feel the sweet science will eventually have its day in the sun again.

With all that in mind, however, I'm starting to wonder if things will get worse before they get better. An analyst I admire the other day essentially stated that some of us knock the sport of boxing too much. Frankly, there's a lot to bitch about. A whole lot. The past few months have been nothing short of a dead zone for televised boxing. That's simply inexcusable.

What's more, it seems like HBO level fights may now appear on pay per view. Mature, reasoned people can give me all the mature, reasoned explanations for this they want - but the fact remains the fans aren't getting what they want. HBO isn't the only issue, however. Oscar De La Hoya speaks of marinating a Canelo-GGG fight as if it were a chicken dinner. What's more, Al Haymon has largely pressed down on the brake pedal when it comes to airing fights on more or less free television - a year or so after he gobbled up a ton air time.

What's this leave fans with? The possibility of all kinds of pay per view events except the ones that they really want. And possibly a lot less boxing on television, to boot. Sure, Showtime has a decent lineup at the moment - but who's to say the network will stay interested in boxing? No one, that's who.

To sum it all up:

Pointless pay per view events may be promoted while legitimate pay per view events indefinitely marinate. Meanwhile, fewer fights may appear on regular television and pay cable. In other words, fans may well be given far less in the near future while being charged hard earned money for even that little bit. Does anyone think this sort of thing, if it happens, will bode well for the sport?

Let's hope a new page is turned sooner rather than later.

A Critical Look At Gennady Golovkin

Sometimes a critical eye is needed

So I've been watching old Hagler fights lately. Sometimes you just have to go back to the classics. Sometimes you also have to take a look at older fights to see if a "great" fighter was really as great as you've been told he was. For the record, there was never any question in my mind whether or not Hagler was great, as I was raised watching him on television. With that in mind, however, it's easy to forget exactly HOW great the man really was.

Wars with Hearns and Mugabi, along with that controversial loss to Leonard, give us an image of a pure warrior. And while that's certainly true, there were other aspects to Hagler which are easy to overlook, like his movement, and WAY underrated defensive skills. Let's just say it's worth considering that Hagler may have peaked AFTER his talent had already begin to wane.

Which brings me to the feared and avoided Gennady Golovkin. Like Hagler, people seem to want him to get old before they face him. All the best with that. For unlike Hagler, GGG has a style that conserves energy. Watching him critically, it's hard not to notice what a patient fighter the man really is. And what a technically sound one.

Here's a man, after all, who cuts off the ring better than anyone I've ever seen - or can at least remember. He also picks his shots with amazing precision. Indeed, this is a man worthy of much of the attention he's received. Is he as good as advertised, though? HBOs analysts would argue so, but HBO is in the Gennady business. What's more, GGG takes punches - frequently. That's a trait that was never particularly noticeable in Hagler. Sure, Hearns nailed him, but who WASN'T Hearns able to land on?

Watching Hagler and Golovkin in action back to back, there's little doubt that Hagler's herky-jerky energy and movement would stand out in a battle between the two. Having said that, perhaps neither Hearns nor Mugabi hit as hard as GGG. Golovkin makes people quit on a regular basis, after all. And that's really saying something.

So, could the lauded GGG hold his own against a great like, say, Hagler? It's hard to say. If Hagler could take those punches, though, I'd give the Marvelous One the edge. The fact that the discussion even merits debate, however, speaks very highly of GGG indeed.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Why Spence-Algieri Is Worth Looking Forward To

Some fights are just worth being on the lookout for

While it's true Errol Spence and Chris Algieri are not Pay Per View stars, their upcoming April battle is one I'm truly looking forward to. In fact, I'm perhaps looking more forward to it than any other fight in the sport. Why? Because there's no A Side/B Side nonsense here, no diva posturing, no arguing over trifles. It's just a battle between two hard working, eager guys who are pushing to prove themselves. If that doesn't make for good boxing, I honestly don't know what does.

Spence is the rising star here. When people wonder why Keith Thurman dismisses you, it's an indication you're someone worth giving a second look to. Sure, Spence has been hyped, but he seems to be willing to prove himself (remember when Danny Garcia used to be like that?). Considering that he may well get a chance against the formidable Kell Brook should be best Algieri, Spence has a lot to lose here.

Algieri, on the other hand, may have even more to lose. After winning in controversial fashion against Ruslan Provodnikov a few years back, the man was pitted against Manny Pacquiao, only to suffer from all too predictable results. Since then, however, the nutrition nut has teamed with John David Jackson and has become a force to be reckoned with. Believe it. This fight, however, clearly is a fork in the road for Algieri. Should he win, he's back in play as a serious welterweight. Should he lose, however...

In a fight world where very little rings true (did we really need Canelo-Khan?), it's nice to see a thoroughly legitimate throwdown between two talented dudes who have a ton on the line. This isn't an easy match for either man. That's saying a lot in a sport now dominated by what are essentially glorified tuneups and mid level snoozers.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

How Spanish Language TV Is Saving Boxing In 2016

Viewing habits are changing for some fight fans

Let's face it - we like watching boxing. All kinds of boxing. Especially on the weekends. Unfortunately the powers that be are not giving we English speaking American fans much boxing this 2016. I know, I know, things are supposed to get better. Temporarily, at least. We'll see.

To the point - Spanish Language television has saved boxing for us fight fans this year. Want to watch boxing? Better hope there's some Spanish language stations on your cable lineup. Otherwise you may well find yourself out of options.

Make no mistake about it, UniMas, BeIn2, Fox Deportes and other outlets that broadcast in Spanish are pretty much the only reliable sources for boxing lately. Forget about English speaking American pay cable networks, American mainstream networks or American basic cable networks. They just ain't delivering.

So, let's give some credit to those networks most of us Americans who only speak English rarely watch. They're keeping the sport alive in a way our English speaking networks can't or simply won't. In other words, they're boxing friendly. And they've no doubt gotten themselves some new viewers,

Quite a feat when you step back and think about it.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Is It Time For Fans To Start Ignoring Pay Per View Cards?

The bigwigs have turned their backs on the fans.

Let's face it, folks, boxing's powers that be don't care much about us.

Maybe they feel they just can't, as they have businesses to run. Fine. But, at the risk of sounding harsh, that's not our problem. Besides, who reading this is bringing down the cash Al Haymon, Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya are? I'm not saying these are bad guys, I'm simply saying they're not giving the people what they want. It's that simple. Indeed, boxing is the only business I know of where the power players publicly suggest the consumers "just don't understand."

Oh, we understand, all right.

Let's face it, 2015 was a banner year for those in any way involved with Mayweather-Pacquiao. I almost have to smile wryly when I read the media touting the UFC's buy rate these days. Why? Because May-Pac was that much bigger than anything Dana White has sent the world's way. Conor McGregor brags about earning 10 mil? Manny and Floyd earned HUNDREDS of millions for their 2015 meeting.

Thing is, the success of May-Pac wasn't good for the fans. First off, the lead up was completely overblown (trust me on this, I had to cover and partake in it for publishers). The fight also disappointed people in a lot of ways (though I think we in the media were to blame for that). Here's the thing, though - last year's superfight may now stand as the gold standard for boxing's powers that be. Believe it.

Oscar De La Hoya has referenced May-Pac when speaking of a potential Canelo-GGG match. Indeed, one wonders if Oscar wouldn't mind letting a Saul-Gennady match hold off for a good five years. After all, it then might bring in a similar windfall to what May-Pac did.

What does that do for the fans, though? And what does it do for the sport? Does anyone at this point think May-Pac helped boxing in any significant way? Will "marinating" more interesting fights help anyone besides the power players?

I could be wrong here, but I'm starting to suspect boxing's elite ruling class doesn't want to give the fans much boxing at all. I'm not talking about holding off on superfights, either. I'm talking about holding off on ALL significant fights.

Look, it's past mid March and boxing has been dead since before Christmas. That's a fact. Using the May-Pac method of business, however, this is a perfect way of doing things. The fans salivate, after all, and then jump at any old thing that's thrown their way as if it were surf and turf.

If that's the strategy boxing's power brokers are now employing, it's actually quite brilliant. Or is it? Truth be told, I'm starting to wonder if it's worth getting the Bradley-Pacquiao and Canelo-Khan fights. Sure, they're good fights, but are they Pay Per View worthy at this point?

With news that Bud Crawford will be on Pay Per View against an opponent no one even knows of yet, I'm wondering if Pay Per View may soon be the only way to watch significant boxing at all. It that's the case, it won't be right. So perhaps, just perhaps, it's time to nip this Pay Per View thing in the bud.

As always, though, I could be wrong. Let me know what you think in the comments.