Sunday, January 31, 2016

Face It - Sergey Kovalev is Scary

Kovalev ain't your average man on the street

I've been a fight fan for - gulp! - closing in on forty years now. And during that time I can think of only a handful of fighters who were truly frightening individuals. Tyson was one. Duran was arguably another. And Sergey Kovalev is clearly now in the mix.

These frightening few may be the best human beings in the world outside of the ring but inside they display a ruthlessness and  a lack of empathy which is enough to make you shift in your seat. These people just aren't like you and me, They're different. Most of us - let's face it - don't like to have to scream at people.

These guys enjoy dishing out physical punishment. Or at the very least are indifferent to having to inflict it. And while it's true dishing out punishment is part of a boxer's job, most fighters - even great ones - focus on the victorious nature of the act (doing what it takes to best a another who wants to do the same to you). That just ain't the case with the scary ones, though.

Again, these dudes either enjoy making people suffer or they simply don't care that they're doing it. Deontay Wilder, on the contrary, recently claimed that he says a prayer before each fight that neither he nor his opponent gets seriously hurt. That's a far, far cry from Roberto Duran, who was once asked if he felt bad for putting an opponent in the hospital. Duran simply quipped that next time he'd put the guy in the morgue.

Kovalev showcased the same kind of ruthlessness on Saturday. After beating Jean Pascal mercilessly for what seemed like an eternity, Kovalev was asked if he could have ended the fight sooner. Kovalev openly - and on live television - said of course he could have ended the bout earlier.

Mind you, this wasn't a wrestling match. This was a prolonged, slow, continuous physical beating, replete with perpetual blows to the head of a man whose face was turning to mush. Kovalev dug it. Then again, before the bout, Pascal had aggressively accused Kovalev of racism - a serious charge in any age, but a dangerous one in a thoughtless, witch hunting society such as ours, where mere accusations essentially equal guilt.

Still, there's limits to even the most well warranted of ass kickings. Many people may imagine punching the lights out of someone who seriously offends them. I doubt many imagine doing it for twenty-one straight minutes, though. That requires a certain type of personality trait.

For the record, I've spoken with both Tyson and Kovalev and have found them to be pretty cool guys. Then again, I've never stepped in the ring with either man. And that, quite frankly, is something I'm happy for.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Rise Of The Showcase Fighter

Sometimes you should have to face a real challenge to remain king of the hill

Adonis Stevenson is now a showcase fighter. So, it seems, is Danny Garcia...and Leo Santa Cruz...and most definitely Billy Joe Saunders. What's more Canelo Alvarez may be well on his way to becoming a showcase fighter in his own right.

What, you may well ask, is a showcase fighter? A showcase fighter (I should really copyright this term) is a professional boxer who consistently takes on nothing more than moderate challenges while only occasionally facing significant ones in the ring.

For instance, Stevenson has yet to meet a huge challenge on paper since defeating Chad Dawson years ago. Garcia has met exactly one significant challenge in the past few years. Same for Santa Cruz.

Now that Saunders has won a piece of the middleweight pie, he's actually been open about his unwillingness to meet a significant challenge in the near future. Give the man points for honesty - or not.

While the UFC has it's underpaid stars climb one mountain after another, name boxers are given the luxury of essentially going a softer route. It's understandable to argue it's their right to. After all, they're the ones getting hit in the head - but what about the opponents of these people?

Ask yourself this - are Stevenson's slim chance opponents getting extremely well paid to have their lights punched out by the guy? Sadly, we all know what the answer is, and it's not a comforting one.

The good news in all this is that showcase fighters are always one fight away from altering their reputations. All Stevenson, Garcia, Salka and Saunders need to do is face the fighters we all know will present them with huge challenges. We know who these opponent's names are and so do they.

The bad news, of course, is that a lot of money can be made showcase fighting. And so formidable opposition may continue to be avoided in the future.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

How Important Is It For A Boxer To Be Exciting?

There's been a lot of criticism out there against Floyd Mayweather which is perfectly legitimate. One thing I've always had a problem with, however, is the criticism that Floyd is/was boring in the ring. I have the same problem when the criticism is lobbed against Guillermo Rigondeaux - and even the legendary Willie Pep.

Look, I get it. Exciting fighters and exciting fights are more fun to watch. There's simply no two ways about it.  In fact, right now you're reading the words of a guy whose all time favorite fight is Hagler-Hearns. If that doesn't make me an action fan, I don't know what does.

Yet I can't deny the fact that boxing is a sport, first and foremost. And when it comes to sports, fighters must do what they have to in order to win. That's a Herculean task in and of itself. Therefore, I'm slow to point fingers and shake my head when a pro boxer does what works best over what's most exciting.  Would I prefer Pacquiao-Marquez IV to Pacquiao-Mayweather? Of course, Yet the bottom line remains that skills ultimately beat styles.

That's why it bothers me a bit to see all the excitement over the upcoming Frampton-Quigg bout. Sure, it will be fun, but these guys are cashing in by avoiding Rigo. Frankly, he seems better than both - yet I don't see either one jumping up and down to fight him. In fact, many would be happy if Rigo were simply ignored by more popular fighters for the rest of the career.

Fair enough - but the same people then look like hypocrites when they criticize fighters like Canelo for appearing gun shy with GGG.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Is It Really Garcia-Khan II?

Do I look impressed? 

So, the WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has said that Danny Garcia, it's new welterweight champ, must face Amir Khan next. Some are unquestionably excited about this. I'll hold my applause until I learn the contracts have been signed. Let's face it - team Garcia doesn't seem to be  into the rough challenge business and Khan, who is eager to avenge a brutal loss to Garcia, will prove to be a rough challenge indeed.

What's more, the WBC has proven itself to be so unreliable in my book that it's part of the reason why I basically don't care about titles anymore. In my opinion, titles worn out their usefulness and should be ignored. Sure, their presence helps certain fighters, but the damage the current title scene is inflicting on the sport as a whole makes it too much to support.

Still, if things start shaping up then maybe, just maybe, I'll recognize titles as genuine marks of achievement again. The WBA is presumably trying to streamline it's own ridiculous number of titles and this move by the WBC, if it's legitimate, is nothing but good news.

The only question now is whether or not the WBC will stick to its word or if this is simply just more nonsense. Sorry, but I'm not biting - at least not yet. It's not cynical on my part not to trust the WBC, it's simply the reality of recent history forming my opinion. Let's hope change is truly in the air this time.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Why Danny Garcia Doesn't Get The Love

It seems like things always come up roses - or begonias - for Garcia

I was accused last night by a fellow fight writer who I like and admire of hating Danny Garcia. This bothered me since hate in my book isn't supposed to be part of the agenda. And indeed, I made it clear that I would like Garcia if only he were more competitive in his choice of opponents. What's more, I think that's true of a lot of people.

Look, Garcia is a brave and noble foe in the ring - make no mistake about it. He's also very good at what he does, perhaps even better than he's given credit for. Furthermore, he's conquered some serious adversaries like Zab Judah, Amir Khan and Lucas Matthyssse. There's a lot to like there. It just seems like Danny himself is content to keep a barrier up between himself and the majority of the boxing public.

For he hasn't exactly faced down a murderer's row of opposition since that solid Matthysse win. What's more, his old man has made it clear that team Garcia isn't too eager to engage in serious competition now that the big bucks are coming in. Add that to Garcia's placid indifference to intense competition and fan approval and you've got someone who people just aren't going to be all that crazy about. They may like to watch him - but they're not going to love him.

Furthermore, Garcia savagely beat an opponent in Rod Salka who had absolutely no business being in the ring with him, an act which clearly wasn't right. He also got - many of us felt - gift decisions against Mauricio Herrera and Lamont Peterson. Throw in accusations of preferential treatment by the powers that be and it's easy to see where all the criticism comes from.

Here's the thing, though - Garcia can make all the negativity go away (at least among reasonable people) if he fights opponents who are (or who are near) his equal. It's as easy as that.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Can A Boxer Be Considered Great By Virtue Of Being Avoided?

Some are just going to walk away from a challenge

Here's a question for you on this snowy January weekend - at least it's pretty snowy here in Connecticut - what happens if Gennady Golovkin never gets to fight a top opponent while he's in his prime? What if the same thing happens to Bud Crawford? Sergey Kovalev has defeated Bernard Hopkins, but what if he never gets his chance to meet either Adonis Stevenson or Andre Ward in the ring? What then?

It's a sad commentary on the state of modern boxing, but it may be time to start asking ourselves if a fighter can truly be considered great just because his skill level was so high that all his peers - even the great ones - stayed clear of him. While I think GGG will probably get a superfight while he's still in his prime, I really can't be sure with the way team Canelo has been acting. And seriously, is anyone at junior welterweight to welterweight going to be that excited to face Bud Crawford?

These are modern fighters were discussing here, after all, not the Ray Leonards, and Roberto Durans of yore. Laugh all you want but Kim Karashian has arguably had an enormous impact on our society by virtue of proving that you can reach and remain at the pinnacle of success by doing nothing of merit (hell, even Madonna cut some good tracks). Fighters may have arguably followed suit - in other words, the more talented among the ranks just may not find value in seeing what they're made of.

Where, then, does that leave the real pros? Back in the day there was a fighter who went by the name of Peter Jackson (not to be confused with the director). John L Sullivan, the biggest athlete/celebrity/pro fighter at the time, refused to fight Jackson because Jackson was black (it was  easy to hide behind the color barrier back then). James J Corbett fought Jackson to a brutal draw at one time (the fight went on for several hours if I'm not mistaken). After Corbett won the heavyweight title from Sullivan, however, he didn't give Jackson a rematch.

No one really knows who Jackson is today, save for a few of us (yourself included as of this moment). Do  the likes of GGG, Crawford and Guillermo Rigondeaux really deserve a similarly obscure fate as the unfortunate and unjustly treated Jackson? It's a question we should start asking ourselves.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Is Kell Brook Being Avoided By Top Competition?

Why, oh why, is Brook not getting a major fight?  

Kell Brook has been a champion for a while. Thing is, he hasn't fought a murderer's row of competition since winning his title from Shawn Porter. There are those who feel it's Brook's fault, no doubt, that he's a very modern fighter who just isn't into being competitive. Me, I'm not so sure. Potential bouts with Brandon Rios and Tim Bradley appeared to me to genuinely fall through. In other words, I wasn't left with the distinct impression that Brook was avoiding anyone.

I'm starting to wonder, though, if Brook is being avoided himself. Not by Bradley and Rios, per se (they both seem legitimately interested in facing the talented Brit), but perhaps by others. Amir Khan, for instance, is said to be interested in facing...wait for it...Danny Garcia for a second time. That would be a great match, sure, but team Brook has been pushing for a British superfight with Khan for ages. There would be a lot of money in such a matchup - and a lot of glory.

Why, then, isn't Khan drooling publicly over such an opportunity? I've been supporting Khan for ages but Garcia is an Al Haymon fighter through and through and Al Haymon fighters have a tendency not to meet real challenges with alarming frequency. A Brook fight, on the other hand, is right there waiting for him (ironically enough, Khan is aligned with Haymon himself).

Perhaps Brook isn't being avoided. Perhaps he's just seen as irrelevant. I have a hard time buying that, however. Believing someone is irrelevant and trying to will someone into irrelevance are two entirely different things. There was a time not long ago when everyone wanted a piece of a champion. Now it seems that maybe, just maybe, some known fighters will go out of their way to avoid having anything to do with a particular champion at all.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Alexander Povetkin - The Forgotten Heavyweight

How can Povetkin stand out from the crowd? 

The heavyweight division seems to be alive and well again for the first time in ages. Unfortunately, perennial contender Alexander Povetkin isn't getting any of the buzz some of his peers are. This is a shame, for while watching some of the man's recent fights, it became pretty obvious to me that he could give both Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury some real trouble.

I'm not saying he would beat either man, mind you. I am, however, saying that he could if he were to employ a consistent game plan. For the way Povetkin changes up speed, combined with his missile like power, could fluster Wilder. As for Fury, it's hard to imagine the guy's herky jerky style affecting Povetkin all that much. Fury would be a big target for him, after all, and he would seem far less mobile than he did against the enormous Wladimir Klitschko.

Unfortunately for Povetkin, though, he doesn't seem to have the flashiness to fit in well in this age of Twitter. He looks like an everyday Joe on the street. I've also never heard of the fighter causing trouble outside the ring like Adrien Broner or Fury himself. That stuff, sadly, can hurt in the fight game, especially the contemporary one. He's supposed to be in line for Wilder's slice of the heavyweight title at the moment, but - as has been pointed out online by Anthony at Thunderdome Boxing - there's no guarantee that will happen. Too bad.

If there's one good thing about the age we live in, though, it's that everyone - yes everyone - is part of the greater conversation. The more fans gripe online about Povetkin not getting another crack at the title (if he is indeed passed over at least once) the more fighters and promoters will start to take notice. They may still ignore the fan base but they will do so at their own risks. That's ultimately good news for Povetkin.

And good news for fight fans.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Wilder Knocks Out Szpilka In Frightening Fashion

If you saw it you know full well it was scary. It's never good when you see a fighter practically immobile on the canvas while being completely  void of consciousness. Yup - Deontay Wilder hit Artur Szpilka with one of those frightening shots on Saturday night. It put an abrupt end to a very good match late in the fight and solidified Wilder as a thoroughly dangerous fighter - albeit one who still has much to learn.

It was simply one of those nights where you're happy to hear the loser of the match will most likely be okay. Make no mistake about it - Deontay Wilder turned out the lights in Brooklyn on Saturday. Ironically enough, the guy was having real trouble with Szpilka up until that point. For the Polish contender had come to win and his angular, jerky movements were giving Wilder fits. Then Wilder landed to the jaw, however, and that was the end of that.

To his credit, Wilder acted like a complete gentleman after the bout was wisely stopped. There was none of his usual showboating afterwards, just respect and credit thrown towards the man who was being taken out on a stretcher. Sadly, Wilder's moment of class and sportsmanship was overshadowed by the idiocy of Tyson Fury, who approached Wilder in pure over the top villain fashion to push a unification fight.

Make no mistake about it - the whole thing could have been fun in a crazy way...but a man was just taken to the hospital. Seriously Tyson, give it a rest. To his credit, however, Wilder didn't back down to the enormous Anglo-Irishman. A superfight may indeed be in the works not too far down the road.

Yup - David Haye Is Back

The guy is back in the public eye

Round one.

That's when David Haye KOd Mark De Mori on Saturday. In round one.

Like it or not, the man is back,

Now, while it's true De Mori was no one's idea of a terrific opponent, impressive is impressive - and first round knockouts are just that. This is especially the case when one hasn't fought in years, as Haye hasn't.

Truth be told, the British fighter had become something of a punch line in recent years. He lost a major fight to Wladimir Klitschko a while back, then pointed to a hurt toe. Afterwards he went on to offer various excuses for not fighting Tyson Fury, who was a contender at the time.

Now, those excuses may very well have been valid but they certainly didn't make the man look good. Which is why Saturday's performance at the O2 Arena was so important for the guy. Fury claims he'll never fight Haye after having two potential matchups with the fighter fall through. Maybe that's true, maybe it isn't.

What's hard to argue, though, is the fact that Haye is now part of the electrified heavyweight scene.

Friday, January 15, 2016

How Hungry Is Deontay Wilder?

Hunger can pertain to more than just food

First, things first - Deontay Wilder is no hack. He's a hard hitting, exceedingly fit, plus size heavyweight of the contemporary variety who can take out the Great Wall of China with a single shot and who is actually growing into a boxer of considerable skill. With that being said, the WBCs version of the heavyweight titlist is frequently accused of facing less than stellar competition.

While that's been hard to argue in the past, I have a hard time swallowing the argument that Artur Szpilka, who Wilder will be facing Saturday night in Brooklyn, is anything other than a solid, dangerous foe. It may not be a superfight, but Saturday's throwdown is a legit heavyweight contest that no one should scoff at. Indeed, I wouldn't be stunned if Wilder lost - though I'm still picking him to win.

Still, if Wilder pulls it off as he's expected to this weekend, there will be the inevitable question of who's next. And that's where things will get interesting. Will Wilder be willing to face someone many feel could actually beat him at this point? Povetkin, Fury, Klitschko, heck, even Haye - these are names Wilder can expect to be thrown in his direction. Will he rise to the occasion? Or will he prove the naysayers right?

Here's hoping the guy's true blue. And by true blue I don't mean someone who offers lip service before letting the Al Haymon barrier keep good matches from happening. If Mayweather-Pacquiao proved one thing it's that major fights CAN be made between Haymon fighters and those in the greater boxing world outside his realm. Let's hope Wilder - again, provided he wins on Saturday - affirms what fans already know.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Garcia-Guerrero Bout Showcases Why Titles Truly Have Become Ridiculous

Should fans start turning their backs on titles? 

There are many who disagree with me that titles have become useless - and with good reason. For in a financial sense, they are extremely valuable to the hardscrabble fighters who actually work their way up the ranks and earn them the old fashioned way these days. They also offer unknowns a terrific chance of getting exposure. That, too, is an excellent thing.

Still, the sanctioning bodies behind today's major titles have made such a mockery of the entire idea of championships that they've actually diminished the integrity of boxing - a sport which, less face it, has had integrity issues from it's inception. Titles signify nothing anymore other than a spotlight for individual fighters and a bargaining chip during negotiations.

They certainly no longer signify athletic achievement of the highest order. For if they did, there wouldn't be a snowball's chance in a sandbox that Robert Guerrero could  become the WBC welterweight champion later this month when he battles Danny Garcia. Why? Because neither Danny Garcia nor Robert Guerrero have even come close to proving themselves to be the best welterweights in Al Haymon's stable, much less the entire welterweight division.

Guerrero, after all, hasn't looked dominant in at least a year. And Garcia? Well, he rarely faces a truly tough challenge and when he does (Lamont Peterson, for instance, or Mauricio Herrera) it seems like the judges have a bias in his favor. While neither man is a dud by any stretch of the imagination, neither man is solid gold, either.

Couldn't, one would ask, Keith Thurman face Amir Khan for the title? Or how about Shawn Porter, a former champion in his own right? Didn't Porter face better competition in his last bout than either Danny or Robert did? Clearly none of that matters. Why? Because titles have truly become ridiculous if they're to be viewed through any prism of sportsmanship.

And that's too bad.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Is It Now Or Never For PBC?

Will fans start finding other things to do with their time?

A cursory look over what's commonly known as "boxing Twitter" will easily lead one to the conclusion that Al Haymon's Premiere Boxing Champions is not only a source of much derision, but might actually be turning people away from the fight game. This was clearly not the mysterious Haymon's intentions when he unveiled Champions close to a year ago.

Truth be told, I'd like to see the series succeed. Big time. I'd like to see big matches on "free" television. I'd like to see stars be born. I'd like to see the general public fall in love with the fight game again and I'd love to see Haymon's top fighters face off against top fighters from other stables.
Sadly, none of that seems to be happening.

And, to make matters worse, it may not be happening throughout 2016 with any regularity. That may not be good for PBC, however. No matter how much hedge fund money Haymon received for his series, it's not going to keep from running dry. Other sources of revenue have to start coming in. Serious sources. Major advertising sources. And those sources won't come in if fans don't tune in. And fans may not be turning in if Guerrero-Garcia is the best Champions has to offer.

Make no mistake about it, there've been some great fights so far on PBC. To deny as much is simply to be overly partisan in one's opinion. Still, great fights and major matchups are two distinctly different things - which, when combined, become classic sporting events. In other words, you've got to get people to want to tune in rather than to stumble across a terrific scrap one lazy Saturday night.

Then again, what do I know? I'm a fight writer, not a businessman. Perhaps PBC can keep going at this rate, providing the world the likes of Santa Cruz-Martinez and everything will work out fine. It's hard to imagine that being the case, however, at least not for the sport of boxing if not for Haymon and his fighters.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Andre Ward - Terrific Fighter, Shaky Reputation

Sometimes, you have to turn around and face complaints head on

Let's get this out of the way - Andre Ward is that good. Watching his last fight again today against Paul Smith I was reminded once more just how masterful the man is in the ring. Yeah, Smith wasn't the best opponent and yeah, Ward hadn't fought in ages, but sometimes you know first class stuff when you see it, like during Mike Tyson's early days. Ward fights nothing like Tyson, but - in his own way - he dominates his opponents as much as Tyson did.

Why, then, does Ward have such a terrible rep for himself? Sure, he's got his defenders, but you can't go on Twitter these days without reading that he's ducking Sullivan Barrera, or that he may not fight Sergey Kovalev like he's supposed to, or that he has no interest in boxing, period. Why is that? Because, my friends, Ward does nothing to assure fans that their well warranted suspicions might not be true.

In short, the guy's made things tough on himself and in a lot of ways only has himself to blame for the heat he receives from fans these days. For starters, he can literally go years without a fight. Also, he's quick to quench rumors that he may face a serious foe like Barrera. What's more, Ward seems quick to drop out of fights for less than serious reasons, (take his last scheduled fight, for instance).

Look, no one's perfect and Ward is no exception to that rule. Still, the guy doesn't even seem interested in proactively ADDRESSING fan's concerns. When those concerns are legitimate, and sorry, but they are, they should be publicly confronted head on. Ward just isn't that interested in doing that, at least not as far as I can tell - and I follow the sport with an exceedingly close eye.

In the end, it's up to Ward how he wishes to be perceived (at least it is to a large degree). He's unquestionably one of the best athletes in the entire world. It would be nice to see him interested in getting a little public support in return.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Who's Next For Canelo?

Canelo Alvarez will be back in the ring on May 7th. Thing is, he doesn't have an opponent yet. Sure, he's (supposedly) set to fight Gennady Golovkin in the fall, but in the meantime he's set to step into the ring another time. Who, then, will Canelo fight this May? It's an interesting question, especially when one considers the fact that the fight will most likely be aired on Pay Per View.

The name Gabriel Rosado has been thrown around a bit. I've seen people gag at the thought of this match, but I don't think it's exactly a bad one. Sure, Rosado has lost his share of bouts. He's also taken a lot of punishment. The guy is always a live opponent, though, and he'd be guaranteed to bring his all into the ring if he were to get a chance of a lifetime.

Another name being mentioned is Willie Monroe, who we last saw being soundly beaten by Golovkin. I myself really like this potential matchup, because I think Monroe is underrated and could present Canelo with real trouble. A loss to Golovkin does not a fighter's potential ruin, after all. Monroe's a talented guy and he could show the world as much against Canelo, methinks. That doesn't mean I believe Monroe would win - I just think he'd put on a very good show.

Lastly, Billy Joe Saunder's camp is now indicating team Canelo is interested in a bout. Frankly, I'm not keen about this potential matchup. Indeed, I won't care much about anything Saunders does with his career, less he fights Golovkin. The guy, simply put, is too much business and too little sportsmanship. And just because he's open about it doesn't somehow make it okay.

Truth be told, I would be outright happy to see Canelo face Rosado or Monroe - just not on Pay Per View. Let's be honest here, this is Larry Holmes-Reynaldo Snipes stuff: worthy of our attention, but not worthy of a price tag. Why Canelo isn't fighting on HBO May 5th is beyond me at this point - actually, that's not true. I know it's all about the dollars.

But, honestly, that's ridiculous.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What's Next For Miguel Cotto?

The good old days - for Cotto.

A year ago Miguel Cotto was on top of the world. By teaming up with Freddie Roach, his career was seemingly resurrected in stunning fashion. Indeed, his victory over Sergio Martinez, whether Martinez was hurt or not, was worthy of note. Not only was Cotto looking impressive, he was entertaining in a flashy, boxer-puncher style.

A lot has changed, thanks to a top notch performance by Canelo Alvarez, who bested Cotto in the ring last November. It was a close fight, fairly impressive and intriguing - but there can be no doubt Canelo won fair and square (I've rewatched it just to be sure). Some say there may be a rematch, but I don't see why there would be. Nor, I suspect, does most anyone else.

For Cotto, legendary as he is, just isn't likely to beat Canelo. As for middleweight terror, GGG, forget about it. There's no way Cotto is going near that guy (Canelo may not be all that keen on it, either). GGG is simply too big for the heavily tattooed icon to handle. Indeed, Cotto isn't even a true middleweight.

So, where to from here? There still may be some big money in the Cotto name, but will he ever be the top level player he was - even after his teaming up with Roach? If Bernard Hopkins has taught us anything, it's that one should never say never. Will Cotto ever be part of a huge pay per view like last November's again, though (it was said to have gotten close to a million buys)?

Probably not. Perhaps right now the man will give up the fa├žade of being a middleweight and stick around the junior middleweight division. Perhaps he will even consider going down to welterweight (that may prove difficult for him to do at this point, though). Indeed, it seems the only question now is whether or not the man wants to continue challenging himself or prefers to essentially pick up paycheck opponents.

Then again, maybe Cotto will simply retire. He's had a great run, after all.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Four Big Name Fighters Who Aren't Afraid To Take A Loss

These guys aren't the type to just turn and walk away.

It's easy to be disgusted with the current state of boxing. Some - perhaps many - fighters and promoters seem absolutely, positively determined not to make big fights. The evidence of this is abundant. Bud Crawford is given another tuneup, probably through no fault of his own. Billy Joe Saunders openly expresses timidity at the chance to face GGG. Danny Garcia reminds us that this is a business we're talking about here (as if the fact that boxing is primarily a sport is secondary).

Don't give up hope entirely, though - at least not yet. For there are actually fighters out there who clearly are not afraid of taking a loss. What's more, they're willing to be open about their willingness - whether their promoters want them to be or not. You may not like these guys. Heck, you may not even be able to stand at least one or two of them. But, hey, at least they've recently proven to be true sportsmen.

Let's start with Shawn Porter, a man whose not only taken a loss to Kell Brook, but is willing to put his neck on the line over and over again regardless. He's practically begging for a fight with Keith Thurman at the moment, a fight he may well lose. How can you not love a guy like that?

Moving right along, let's discuss Tyson Fury. Sure, he's loud and obnoxious and loves to get in people's heads, but I've never - not once - seen him be the least bit afraid to accept a challenge. There's a lot of talent out there at the moment in the heavyweight division. You won't see the newly crowned champion so much as blink at any of it.

Sticking with the type of person who can grate on someone's nerves, there's little doubt Adrien Broner deserves a mention here. That's right, Adrien Broner. Why? Because he's been more than willing to fight Manny Pacquiao - a guy who might well turn his head into a punching bag. You say Broner's just eager for a big payday? Fine. If only fighters like Danny Garcia and Billy Joe Saunders were as eager for huge checks as Broner is. The truth is that it takes real guts to be willing to face a guy like Pacquiao, no matter how much cash is being thrown your way.

Lastly, let's take a minute to recognize Wladimir Klitscko. Yeah, he lost to Fury, but that was after a full decade of taking on any and all comers. What's more, he's going to step right back into the ring with his conqueror again to attempt to win his title back. There's no marinating involved here, no "let's wait and see." He may not be thrilling, but Klitschko is the real thing.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 Was Nuts For Boxing. Here's Hoping 2016 Is More Stable

The hustle and bustle of 2015 was a bit much

Part of me doesn't want to write about 2015 because it proved to be a thoroughly exhausting and overwhelming year - both professionally and personally (though there certainly were some great things that happened during it). The truth, though, is that 2015 was such an enormous year for the sport of boxing that it simply cannot be ignored now that 2016 has finally rolled along.

Looking back, I honestly think that 2015 was actually too big and unwieldy for the sport's own good. Mayweather-Pacquiao was over-hyped and hijacked by the mainstream media-celebrity establishment. The PBC was all over the place, appearing so frequently and on so many outlets that it was hard to know what to make of it. Some top fighters essentially slept through the year while others were conveniently avoided by peers who didn't see much reason to be competitive in a professional sport.

In short, the entire 12 months in sum proved to be a hodgepodge of aggressive craziness that never really let up. From January - where everyone was talking about that potential Manny-Floyd bout - to December - where everyone was talking about Fury's upset of Klitschkpo, there was never a dull moment. Don't get me wrong, an active and exciting sport is generally a good thing. Boxing, however, appeared to have ADHD in 2015.

Now that 2016 is here, however, let's hope things become sane. If a major fight comes along, let's hope the hype is satisfying rather than overwhelming. When fights are on television, let's hope we know what direction the fighter's careers are going in (in 2015, they were too often in standstill). Lastly, let's hope that more fighters act like the athletes they are rather than cagey businessmen. Boxers deserve to be well-paid, but the profession shouldn't be seen as a cynical money grab, either.

In other words, let's hope boxing becomes a bit less dysfunctional in 2016. It will lead to less headaches.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Boxing's Major Questions For 2016

Looking ahead...

And so here we are with a new year and a fresh start. Truth be told, the new year should be a promising time. This pertains to the sport of boxing as much as it does to anything else. So, after a wild and overwhelming 2015 - I still can't put it into perspective - let's hope the following questions are answered in 2016.

Will Wladimir Klitschko Win Back The Heavyweight Title? Frankly, I wasn't overly surprised that Tyson Fury dethroned the long time champ late last year. Fury has been under-rated for a while. What's more, he seemed to have gotten inside Klitschko's head. Now, though, a rematch is in order. Will Klitschko rise to the occassion? Will he learn to employ movement and return to a more aggressive form?

Will PBC Prove The Naysayers Wrong? Aside from Mayweather-Pacquiao, the most massive event of the past year was the return of boxing to (more or less) free television in a major format. Some people have been disappointed in Al Haymon's Premiere Boxing Champions series, though. Meanwhile, others appear to have been outright hoping for the series to fail outright - which is silly. Although the PBC has shown some strong matchups, it hasn't shown nearly enough. Viewers need to be given a reason - a real reason - to keep tuning in if this endeavor is to be more than a marginal success story.

Will Canelo Fight GGG? I hate to say this, but nothing is certain when it comes to boxing and that includes a Canelo-Golovkin superfight. Truth be told, there's a lot of money invested in Canelo and some serious players will not be happy if he loses - as most people feel he would - to the feared GGG. Here's hoping boxing politics doesn't ruin what could be a major event for the sport.

Will A New Welterweight King Emerge? Bradley. Thurman. Brook. Porter. Khan. Yup, there's some major players out there waiting - we hope - to take the mantle left by Floyd Mayweather. With Manny Pacquiao's career winding down, it's time for the true heir to the welterweight throne to step forward. Since there's no heir apparent, someone is going to have to fight to emerge as the division's top dog, if not its undisputed champion. Hopefully, boxing politics won't spoil this, either.