Monday, February 29, 2016

So...Just How Good Is Bud Crawford?

Something to ponder.
Bud Crawford looked pretty impressive on Saturday, make no mistake about it. After adapting like Mayweather to an aggressive attack, the Omaha native then finished like Duran, punishing the game Hank Lundy until the ref wisely called off the entire affair.

Make no mistake about it, Crawford is a man to watch. Indeed, I'm now going to go right out and say the guy has become must-see television. That's no small thing. Still, there are those out there who feel that the man has limitations - and, truth be told, I'm one of those people.

Look at all the shots Crawford ate early on against Lundy. There was talk of Crawford actually facing Manny Pacquiao this year before Tim Bradley was chosen for a third matchup with PacMan. Well, watching the bout on Saturday, I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if it were Manny and not Hank firing at will.

Manny would have hit Crawford three to four times to Hank's one or two times - then would have gotten out of there. That's something to think about before coronating Crawford. Then again, Manny himself has taken his fair share of shots. Indeed, Sergey Kovalev has, too. Does taking shots take away from their greatness? Of course not.

As of right now, the verdict is clearly still out on exactly how good Crawford is. We should all find out soon enough, however. And my guess is that this serious student of the craft will arrive at the "A level" before all is said and done.

Will he arrive at the "A+ level," though?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Why I'm Not Too Disappointed With The Frampton-Quigg Fight

Don't look at me, I wasn't expecting greatness.

First things first - I was iffy about this fight to begin with.

Indeed, I felt both Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg  had keenly avoided, for whatever reason, the excellent Guillermo Rigondeaux. Still, I won't hate on Saturday's Frampton-Quigg bout. Why? Because it was a fight that wasn't between the best in the business. People expecting a smaller, European version of Hagler-Hearns would do well to keep in mind that neither man was Hagler or Hearns. If either one was, he would most likely have faced Rigo by now.

No, the timidity shown to Rigo made it clear that these were probably two B or B+ fighters who were going to make what they could when they could. That may not prove to be the case, of course. Indeed, both Frampton and Quigg may eventually be regarded as all time greats. The evidence from the powers that be, however, suggests otherwise.

As I've written elsewhere, Frampton - the winner of the bout - may well be on his way to becoming a decent and popular fighter rather than a great one. This is something of a let down, as I used to believe Frampton might actually be able to best Rigo some day. Barry McGuigan, Frampton's manager, however, made it clear that he himself doesn't seem to think so - and he's a former hall of fame fighter -so there you have it.

With all that in mind, Frampton wasn't the biggest problem on Saturday. Quigg was. Frampton may have been tentative, but Quigg didn't show up until the midpoint of the bout and by then it was too late. Yes, it could have been a B-level thriller. The fact that it wasn't, though, lies more with Quigg than it does with Frampton.

This fight was never, however, going to be a classic.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Will We Ever Learn What Leo Santa Cruz Is Really Made Of?

Just throw your hands in the air...

I've spoken to my share of fighters and, without doubt, Leo Santa Cruz is one of the warmest and friendliest souls I've ever exchanged words with (for the record, Amir Khan is right up there with him). With that being said, I can't remember a fighter I used to be so high on who I've grown more disillusioned with over time.

Santa Cruz has, for lack of a better phrase, cashed out. Yup, he's become a showcase fighter, really, seemingly content to be nothing more. I don't say this to be dark and cynical, either. Indeed, I don't LIKE saying it. Again, I LIKE Santa Cruz. In fact, not so long ago I saw him as a true rising star within the sport. Sadly, a lot has changed.

First, I think it's clear to everyone that Santa Cruz' behavior at the prospect of facing one Guillermo Rigondeaux has been, well, QUESTIONABLE. In other words, it's easy to understand why people feel he avoided the guy. Then there was that pathetic run of no-hopers Santa Cruz went through.

After that there was Abner Mares. That fight, I guess, was supposed to make Santa Cruz save face, but I'm weary of fighters who won't get in the ring with anyone other than an opponent they have a 50-50 chance or better against. And, if I'm not mistaken, Santa-Cruz - Mares was, at best, a 50-50 fight.

Now we have Kiko Martinez, a man who has clearly seen better days. Afterwards it may, MAY be a fight witht either Carl Frampton or Scott Quigg for Santa Cruz, but who really knows?  I don't know about you, but I won't be holding my breath for that one.

Again, I call fighters like Santa Cruz showcase fighters - because that's really what they are, men who make a damn good living showing off their skill sets against lesser opponents. It's a great gig, I guess, if you don't mind punching out no hopers or little hopers for a ton of money.

I used to feel, though, that Santa Cruz could be more than that. In fact, I used to feel that his ambition could be as admirable as his personality. Indeed, I hope it still can be. Again, though, I won't be holding my breath.

And that's really too bad.

Why Isn't HBO Hiring Boxing Journalists For A Show About Boxing?

You don't have to scan the horizon in search of talent

Believe it or not, I don't mind HBOs The Fight Game With Jim Lampley. Although I don't watch every episode, the ones I view are polished and well put together - as, let's face it, is everything HBO produces. Here's the thing, though, HBO is now clearly reaching out to an audience that just ain't interested in boxing by hiring interviewers who just don't seem too interested in boxing themselves.

This isn't to say that Michelle Beadle, who recently left The Fight Game, or Melissa Stark, who is the show's new interviewer, are unaccomplished journalists. Indeed, each has an impressive resume. The problem, of course, is that neither had an extensive background in boxing before being hired. And there's plenty of television journalists out there who do (paging Cristina Poncher).

Look, HBO is trying to reach out to non-boxing fans, I get it. How hiring someone who obviously has no previous - or even current - interest in boxing is going to accomplish that goal, however, is frankly quite puzzling. It's also rather insulting.

HBO may think it's being clever  here, but what it's really doing is telling it's current  audience that it's not all that important. Indeed, the impression here is that HBO feels "real" sports journalists can be brought on to a boxing show in order to reach out to a broader, more appealing, viewership.

Granted, that view of things may seem harsh - but, harsh or not - it's how HBOs decision making here is being perceived. Perhaps it simply doesn't care.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

If Only Adrien Broner Boxed Like He Talks

It's hard to imagine Broner playing to packed houses at the rate he's going

So I was watching Conor McGregor today step up to face his last minute opponent (I'm not really an MMA fan, so I don't know what the guy's name was) and I was once again struck by how bold the Irishman is. While it's true I think McGregor comes across like a Euro Mayweather, there's no doubt the guy brings energy into a room.

Again, I'm no MMA fan, but I know who McGregor is and the attention he's getting. Truth be told, McGregor had better be half as good as he's being hyped as or he's in some trouble. Ronda Rousey is a case in point. Then again, so is boxing's own Adrien Broner.

Ah, Broner.

Remember how just over two short years ago he was the next Mayweather? The pound for pound kingpin? The very future of the sport? Yeah, it's becoming hazy for all of us. Thing is, it's kind of too bad Broner didn't live up to expectations.

Had he been all he was hyped up to be, boxing might be in a more exciting place than it is right now. Seriously, we're at a point where fans are jumping up and down over two guys who aren't even the best of their respective weight realm (yes, I'm talking Frampton and Quigg).

Of course, there's still a chance Broner can prove himself, but people are rightfully starting to have their doubts. Perhaps he'll never live up to his potential. Or perhaps he already has. One thing is certain, however. Had Broner boxed like he talked, fans of the sweet science might well have been spared the psychological hibernation they now find themselves in. It's all too bad, really.

Oh well, at least there's Tyson Fury to take up the mantle of pound for pound loudmouth.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why The Thurman-Porter Fiasco Pretty Much Sums Up Boxing Right Now

At least Saint Paddy's Day is right around the corner

Ever read Waiting for Godot? It's a terrific play about two tramps who wait by the side of the road for a guy who never shows up. That's it. Boxing is kind of like Waiting for Godot right now in that fans are waiting and waiting for major events that just aren't happening. Seriously. We're now at the point where Frampton-Quigg,  a battle between  B-plus level small fighters, is all the rage. You say Leo Santa Cruz awaits the winner? Who gives a s--t????

Honestly, is anyone really happy with all this?

My old man bought us some very nice seats recently to check out the Thurman-Porter fight right up the highway from where I live. That fight won't be happening, though, as Thurman was injured in a car accident. The undercard, however, is still going to proceed right on schedule. Yup, the Thurman-Porter card is going down without Thurman or Porter. If that doesn't sum up boxing right now, I honestly don't know what does.

Perhaps we can just let the entire sport marinate straight through til spring. That way we can all be good and eager to see how Amir Khan will most likely lose to Canelo Alvarez. Will Amir get knocked out as expected, or will Amir box smartly and be robbed by the judges? Inquiring minds want to know! I mentioned earlier how boxing at the moment is a lot like Waiting for Godot. Well, here's one way where boxing isn't like Waiting for Godot at all - it pretty much sucks right now.

Honestly people, we haven't had a legitimately significant bout since Klitschko-Fury last Christmas time. The only marinating thing here is our brains.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Thurman-Porter Set To Have A Very Healthy Live Audience

But will people tune in from home?

One of the things that has plagued televised boxing lately is the fact that the crowds look to be thinner than fashion week. Seriously. At times the whole thing is just embarrassing. How are casual fans expected to get excited over the sport when a live network telecast looks like a rained out Yankee Stadium? Fortunately, the crowd looks to be very healthy for the very decent Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter welterweight throwdown next month at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.

Talking on the phone with the casino box office, I learned that over 90% of the tickets for the 10,000 seat arena have been moved. Indeed, I was told only 645 seats were still available and those were all in the upper level. What's more, I was told that the popularity of the event indicates that there may well be a sellout come the 12th. That's good news for boxing, for at least part of the entire card that evening is going to be aired on CBS television.

Yes, people will tune in, or, more likely, stumble upon, network broadcast boxing and find a full house. Provided the crowd is into the festivities, the whole thing can become contagious. That's what Al Haymon, the man behind Thurman-Porter, is clearly hoping for. Truth be told, boxing could take a lesson from the UFC, which broadcasts every card as if it were the final two minutes of a very close Super Bowl matchup.

And while it's true the UFC can come across as sophomoric in its presentation at times, it's numbers don't lie. Boxing may still be the more lucrative and popular sport worldwide, but the UFC is red hot on American airwaves. If it could present the excitement of a UFC broadcast without the over the top, carnival-like atmosphere - a tough task to accomplish, to be sure - the sweet science may once again draw in those long sought after casual fans.

Things are looking good for the Thurman-Porter card. Now all we need is for the card itself to deliver. And for those cameras to show the packed house.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

An Objective Look At Oscar De La Hoya, Promoter

This situation may well require a serious look

Oscar De La Hoya was some kind of fighter, let me tell you. Here was a guy who was not only talented and brave - he was game, as well. And by game, I mean willing to fight anyone. Anyone. This here was the real deal, folks. Win. Lose. Didn't matter. Oscar kept plugging along. Oh, and he usually won.

Even when he was past his prime, the guy was great. It still puzzles me why the man stopped jabbing away during his superfight against Floyd Mayweather, a fight De La Hoya was clearly winning in my eyes. Indeed, one could only imagine how things would have turned out had the Golden Boy been in his prime. As far as that final crushing loss to Manny Pacquiao goes, it was simply a bridge too far. Oscar knew it himself and wisely hung up the gloves afterwards. No shame. No damage to his sterling reputation.

Unfortunately, addiction consumed post-ring Oscar and his promotional business, it seems, faltered on account of it. Still, Oscar fought his demons and once again firmly took control of his company, Golden Boy Promotions. Everyone was happy for the guy - and with good reason. What's more, this improved version of Oscar said he wanted to see the best fight the best. As a promoter, he could have said no better words.

Thing is, now fans are starting to wonder. Canelo Alvarez, Oscar's star fighter, is not seeming at first glance like Oscar did in his prime right now. For one thing, Canelo - or his team - are insisting on a catch weight before Canelo faces the fearsome Gennady Golovkin for middleweight supremacy. What's more, that same team seems to be wanting to push back the mandatory matchup with GGG.

The problem here is that Oscar is one of the leading forces behind team Canelo - if not THE leading force. Oscar likes to say a fight with GGG needs to "marinate," but people are wondering if "marinate" means wait until GGG's boyish hair shows signs of gray. That may be unfair of people to consider, but it's what they're wondering nonetheless.

Indeed, fans are feeling something odd is afoot and that's too bad. Oscar, after all, has come a long way to rebuilding his hard earned and stellar reputation. It's also worth keeping in mind that neither Oscar nor Canelo have shown so much as an ounce of fear at the prospect of Canelo fighting GGG. So it may indeed be all about making as much money as possible on a very big matchup, as far as these men are concerned.

Still, fight fans want to see good fights. Unlike the power players that call the shots, they see boxing as a sport first, a business second. Oscar, at least at the moment, doesn't seem to see things the way fans do. His whole approach to Canelo-GGG seems a bit to coy, a bit too smooth, a bit, let's face it, too contemporary. And, in case you haven't guessed it, contemporary boxing practices are far from lauded.

With all that in mind, however, it seems Oscar may ("may" being the operative word here) have been hosed - perhaps not even intentionally - by Richard Schaefer, a Golden Boy honcho who might (again, be mindful of the operative word here - "might") have helped fight guru Al Haymon more than he did Oscar himself. In other words, Oscar's company may now be on shaky ground if its star, Canelo, loses badly.

Like it or not, boxing IS still a business and, yeah, Oscar is a businessman - one with responsibilities and mouths to feed. Then again, it's only fair to claim that boxing is a sport first and a business second. What's more, no one is forced into the promotion game. On top of that, it's Oscar who has been claiming he want to make the best fights.

Indeed, the whole thing might be considered a confusing mess. Even Schaefer might not be a snarling villain in all this. After all, he may well have only been trying to steer a company whose leader was on an extended bender through treacherous waters. It's easy to point fingers at guys like Schaefer without putting ourselves in his shoes at the time first.

The point here is that there's lots to consider when it comes to complex matters. And, yeah, believe it or not, the fight game is a complex matter. Ultimately, however, fans have a right to see the best fight the best. When that doesn't happen, the sport, and especially those power players who run it, fail in their obligations.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Five Current Fighters You Can Tell Your Kids About

Some people deserve to stand out from the crowd

Here's the truth - I don't know what the following men are like in person. At most, I've spoken to them over the phone. For all I know they can be terrible people. Just terrible. The truth, however, is that we can ALL be terrible people - at least at times, and that's something to keep in mind when it comes to pointing fingers.

With that out of the way, here's five guys who parents can actually point out to their kids and say; "You could take a lesson from him." That's something that's rarely, if ever, said about boxers any more. Let's just say it's time for a change.

  1. Shawn Porter: Gives it his all each and every time out. Isn't afraid to challenge himself. Isn't afraid to fail. Never arrogant in public. Always polite and positive. Lives clean.
  2. Tim Bradley: Family man. Quite wealthy, but never obnoxious with his money. Determined to achieve greatness in his profession despite a notable lack of explosive talent. Succeeds by putting his nose to the grindstone.
  3. Bernard Hopkins: Went to jail, got out and never went back in. Learned from his mistakes. Became a master craftsman through hard work and dedication. Went on to earn millions. Spokesperson for clean living. 
  4. Chris Algieri: Looked silly in front of the whole world . Got up and kept going anyway. Got better rather than bitter. Came back and earned respect the hard way. Willing to challenge himself despite the odds.
  5. Keith Thurman: Not afraid to be himself. Ever. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

What If GGG Isn't Allowed To Unify The Middleweight Titles?

There's a lot of talk out there that a Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin fight won't happen this year. There's even talk that it won't ever happen at all. Yup, people are feeling that team Canelo wants absolutely nothing to do with GGG, at least not in his current, prime, menacing state. GGG's team seems to be suspicious of team Canelo as well, at this point, as it's been suggested that Golovkin would be willing to take Canelo's WBC title should Canelo not wish to face him.

Here's the thing, though:

Who's to say the WBC would EVER give Canelo's belt to Golovkin? Sure, the "rules" apparently make it clear that Canelo (or Amir Khan, should he beat Canelo) have to agree to fight GGG at a certain time or give up the belt, but since when did things like rules, sportsmanship and fairness have much of anything to do with the sport of boxing?

Here's something we all need to wrap our heads around - GGG may never unify the middleweight titles simply because the current champions will be allowed to avoid him. It's that simple, really. And no, it isn't cynical to think this way - it's realistic. I'm not saying GGG WON'T ever unify the titles, but I am saying there's a real chance he won't even be able to try to. Indeed,  the odds may be stacked against Golovkin getting the opportunities he desires in boxing's current landscape.

What, then, is GGG to do? Why, keep fighting the best out there who he's able to fight, of course. That's all the man CAN do. There's something we as fans can do, however, and that's stop caring about titles and championships. Look, I'm as drawn to official recognition as much as anyone else, but right now titles are seen as tools of corrupt individuals, and have therefore completely lost their value as anything other than marketing chips.

Ironically enough, the sooner we push titles out of the conversation, the sooner they may again gain value. And the sooner GGG will get the recognition he deserves as king of the middleweight division - provided, of course, that no other fighter of note wants to challenge him for that claim.

PS: I've always liked Canelo and am still holding out hope he does the right thing here, as the sportsman he's thus far proven himself to be.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Why Chris Algieri Deserves Huge Props

Algieri is always going in for a big piece of the pie

That's right, Chris Algieri deserves huge props. Sure, everyone had a good laugh for a short spell with the whole "out of the cage" silliness - but no one should be laughing now. For word's out - according to Dan Rafael over at ESPN - that Algieri may be fighting none other than rising star Errol Spence on an NBC primetime PBC card in April.

What's there to like about Algieri? The fact that he takes risks. That's right, a fighter in this day and age actually takes risks - when he could possibly make solid money going easy for a while, nonetheless. Yup, Algieri has been a work in progress since falling under the tutelage of top level trainer John David Jackson, yet he's going to put it all on the line, yet again, against the supremely talented Spence. Algieri likes to let online followers know what hes been eating - but it's doubtful he marinates anything.

Think about it - the odds here are clearly going to be in Spence's favor. For Spence is a fighter who some have marked to be the next big superstar - and not without sound reasoning. Indeed, there's a lot to like about Spence - and a lot to like about his chances against Algieri. No matter, Algieri is going for it. Because that's what Algieri does. Whether it's Ruslan Provodnikov, Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan or now Spence, Algieri steps up to the figurative plate over and over again.

This time, however, things may be different. For another loss may put Algieri in the same category as Robert Guerrero has now found himself in - that of the solid opposition. The fact that Algieri may indeed go forward with this regardless of the obvious career risk not only shows his confidence, it shows that he takes boxing seriously for what it ultimately is - a sport.

Other known fighters should take note.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Why We All Miss Friday Night Fights

Remembering when there was regular boxing on television

Let's face it - almost a year into the PBC experiment, we're all missing ESPNs Friday Night Fights. Sure, a lot of people are blaming Al Haymon for this and I understand that to a certain degree. If I've got this right, we were told ESPN would get (bigger) fights once a month, after all, yet that clearly isn't happening. Last I heard, ESPN wouldn't have boxing on until April. What's more, the PBCs record has been spotty lately when it comes to its premiere (no pun intended) matchups.

Still, it isn't a shaky substitute that we're truly upset about here here - it's the loss of the consistency FNF offered. For FNF was a pretty reliable program, showcasing up and coming fighters on the same network and in a timely fashion. What's more, Fox Sports 1 cards at 11 pm eastern standard time on a Tuesday night aren't filling the void.

The feeling among the decision making set may have been fans would prefer seeing name fighters once a month to "no names" once a week. If true, then that, my friends, was a mistake. If all people wanted to watch were the top dogs, no one would watch regular season football, baseball, basketball or hockey. Sure, FNF may have been second tier, but hey, we all like second tier sometimes. Second tier can be good. What's more, it makes the top tier stuff more special.

At any rate, I think we can all agree it's turning into a tough winter for fight fans. Nothing is happening really, aside from announcements for upcoming matches. No doubt ESPN's April card will probably be good. Yet, in my opinion at least, two months of FNF might  have been even better.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Anthony Joshua To Challenge Charles Martin For IBF Heavyweight Crown

Joshua sets his sites on a major opponent across the sea

Give Charles Martin this - he's no cherry picker. For, according to British heavyweight contender Anthony Joshua, Martin will face him for Martin's IBF heavyweight title.

"Any challenge presented I take seriously!" Joshua Tweeted minutes ago. "Charles Martin for the IBF World Heavyweight title!" It's been a fast climb to the top for Joshua, or nearly to the top (he still has to get past Martin to be champion). Indeed, the big man's relative inexperience may lead to a more challenging bout than some may expect.

With that in mind, however, it's hard to imagine Martin being favored here. The recently crowned champion is a nice enough guy, but he hasn't impressed a whole lot of people. Still, he's accepting a real challenge in the thunderous punching Joshua, a clear fighter on the rise. Call it a payout fight if you want, Martin is pushing himself here and is therefore worthy of praise.

As things stand, the suddenly interesting heavyweight division has just become even more interesting. Should Joshua win, his name will be right alongside those of Fury, Wilder, Klitschko and the feared Ortiz. Same for Martin, should be pull off the victory. Indeed, people won't be quite so quick to write the current IBF champion off if he hands Joshua a first loss.

Frankly, this is good news in an pointlessly quiet boxing landscape.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Cotto-Marquez? Why Not?

Say what you will, Cotto keeps it interesting

Call me crazy, but I don't think the idea of a Miguel Cotto - Juan Manuel Marquez match is all that bad. Yeah, they're both past their heydays, but the fact remains these are two extremely talented fighters - perhaps greats - who are finally getting it on. And unlike Mayweather-Pacquiao, people will be under no illusions.

Should both men have found a way to have met earlier on in their esteemed careers? Maybe. But, let's face it, with all the competition around at the time, it isn't the worst thing in the world to have missed this one. There was just too much other good stuff happening. It's like Duran not meeting Pryor or Tyson not meeting Bowe - it would have been nice, but it's not a big deal in the end that it didn't happen.

And that's the selling point here - the fact that it would be nice to see these two guys get it on while there's still something in the tank. Both are going to the Hall of Fame, so there's really nothing to lose here. Indeed, there really won' t be much at stake at all. Two fighters past their primes can indeed make relevant fights - like Leonard-Hearns II - but a Cotto-Marquez fight probably wouldn't even be relevant. It would just be an interesting, fun matchup.

The problem, of course, is that people will see Pay Per View dollars in this. And that's where things may go south - unless, of course, the cost to watch the fight was extremely affordable. Even then, though, I don't see people coughing up a lot of green to see it. Just imagine how great it would be if this throwdown were to occur on regular HBO. Amazing!

Sadly, I tend to think that just ain't gonna happen.

Boxing's Top Eleven Pound For Pound Fighters

Some just stand out from the crowd

Here it is - the updated list of boxing's top eleven fighters. Why eleven? Why not, I ask you, why not?

  1. Manny Pacquiao - The choice of placing Manny here at the top may certainly be unpopular. Indeed, we're about to see if the man still has it when he faces Tim Bradley for the third time this April. Until at least then, however, he belongs here. A loss to Mayweather is the last thing to be ashamed of, after all. And unless it's proven otherwise, PacMan is still rightly regarded as a great fighter.
  2. Sergey Kovalev: Scary. That's the word I use for this man. Scary. His destruction of Jean Pascal a few weeks back exposed a ruthlessness that hasn't been seen in the sport in a while. What's more, the light heavyweight powerhouse has the skills to back that ruthlessness up with. Truly notable. 
  3. Andre Ward: Love him or hate him, this guy's the goods. Sure, it's frustrating to watch his career meander on, but he delivers in the ring where it counts. Will he fight Kovalev? Honestly, I have no idea. Here's hoping.
  4. Roman Gonzalez: Yeah, I'm with the rest of the pack here in cheering him on. This guy is something else. Powerful, aggressive and fun, "Chocolatito" is the entire package. Indeed, he may be the small man to put the lower levels of the divisions in the spotlight - where they belong. 
  5. Gennady Golovkin: A true monster who has the talent and the craftsmanship to back up his power. I'm still not sure what I find more impressive, GGG's punching or his calculating and effective footwork. A man deserving of the attention he's receiving. 
  6. Timothy Bradley: Call him past his prime all you want, this guy looked great the last time out. Yeah, Brandon Rios wasn't his best that night, but Bradley's stunning performance can't be ignored. With trainer Teddy Atlas in his corner, Bradley's third go round with Pacquiao may indeed be a true pick 'em fight.
  7. Guillermo Rigondeaux: Talented and popular fighters would rather look bad in the public eye than face him. Enough said. 
  8. Keith Thurman: Face it, the guy they call One Time has proved impressive up until now. Real impressive. Sure, he had some tough moments against Luis Collazo, but even the greatest of fighters have their down moments. Thurman's upcoming bout with Shawn Porter should show just what he's made of. 
  9. Amir Khan: This isn't a joke. Khan's some kind of fighter (flaws and all). He hasn't been too active and Chris Algieri gave him quite a run, but ask yourself this - would anyone give Canelo a chance of winning against Khan if the Mexican were a natural welterweight? 
  10. Kell Brook: People may be growing tired of waiting to see what the Englishman is capable of doing - or not - but let's cut the strong and skilled Special K a little slack here. He's badly wanted a fight with Amir Khan, who, it seems, simply hasn't been overly interested. At least he's trying.
  11. Terence Crawford: Like Thurman, it's hard to tell just how good the guy is at the moment. As it stands, however, his fights and resume prove that he certainly deserves to be on this list. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Why I'm Not Crazy About Frampton-Quigg

I just can't get too excited about this one

I know, I know. We're all salivating for the Frampton-Quigg bout this month. Only I'm not. And I suspect others aren't, either. Here's the thing, I wrote about Frampton long before many US fight fans probably knew who he was. That's no knock on my fellow American fight fans. It's my job to be on the knowledgeable side of things when it comes to boxing, after all. Truth be told, however, I really liked what I saw of the guy.

Indeed, I felt that he may actually have given one Guillermo Rigondeaux a real run. Unfortunately, though, the fight hasn't happened. And Frampton's team has made it pretty clear they haven't been too interested in the bout, either. Why? Well, it's obvious. Rigo is unpopular and is a huge risk to anyone who faces him. Yup. He's that good. Quigg hasn't faced Rigo, either. It appears he may be contenting himself facing Frampton.

Yessir, it's the battle for the title of nearly best smallish guy. Who cares, you can here some exited fans saying. It's an exciting matchup, at least on paper, and the public may get it's money's worth. The sport of boxing, however, will once again remain poorly served. For, once more, we're watching the best in the business - in this case, Rigo - be avoided.

Look, I understand that fighters want to make as much money as possible. And the way to do that is to excite and to win. Yet boxing is still a sport, my friends, and no one forced either Frampton or Quigg to get into it. And unless they at least sincerely try to face Rigo - and I suspect the Cuban slickster may never face either - I will always think less of Frampton and Quigg than I would have otherwise.

One last thing - Rigo is indeed boring to many fans. So is a amazing pitcher. Those guys aren't kept in the dugout, though. Nope, it seems the best are only benched in boxing these days.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Why Keith Thurman Is Good For Boxing

Thurman doesn't fit into a conventional mold

Truth be told, I'm not sold on the "fact" that Keith Thurman is going to beat Shawn Porter in March. Porter is awfully good, after all. Indeed, I'm not sure I would pick Kell Brook over Porter in a rematch at this point. Back to Thurman, though. Although I'm not certain he's essentially the king of the welterweight division right now (I no longer buy into the whole title thing - too corrupt and invalid), but I do know he's good for our sport.

Just check out any recent interviews with him on YouTube. The guy's a natural on camera - unique, sharp, insightful, confident - and even kinda weird. That's good because it's an appealing combination. Thurman's a far cry from the flash and bling set. He's also a far cry from boxing's current crop of blowhards. Sure, Thurman talks a good game - but he ain't Tyson Fury.

Of course, showmanship isn't all that's required to make a star in boxing - or at least it shouldn't be. Some serious skill should be required, as well. And Thurman has that kind of skill. Again, he may not be king of the hill - although no one can be sure - but he's quite good. Here's a guy who knows his business, who has clearly given some time to observe and learn the very demanding and exacting sport he's made a career of.

Face it - the dude's refreshing. Sometimes he can be grating, yeah, and if he continues to succeed, we may find ourselves confronted with Thurman imitators. As it stands, however, Thurman keeps things interesting. And that's nothing but good news for boxing in its current state,  

Friday, February 5, 2016

Can Khan Win?

Al eyes are now on Khan

Watching last year's surprisingly fulfilling fight between Amir Khan and Chris Algieri, I was reminded yet again how skillful Amir Khan is in the ring. Yet I was also reminded of how vulnerable he is in the ring, as well. For Khan's blistering speed and smoothness were on full display in the bout. Yet Algieri landed. Hard. In the first round, no less. What will happen if and when Canelo lands on him?

That leads us to the two big questions leading up to this May's interesting yet ridiculous mega fight between Khan and Canelo.

  1. Can Khan avoid being hit effectively?
  2. If Khan does get hit with anything close to regularity, can he deal with it - and if so, how? 
Let's tackle the first question. The only way I see Khan avoiding getting hit is by employing the kind of movement we've yet to see from him. I'm talking Ray Leonard versus Marvin Hagler movement. It may not be satisfying to the fans, but it might - just might - carry the night for Khan. For while I've maintained over the years that Hagler did in fact beat Leonard, there's little doubt Ray looked better than expected that long ago 80s evening. Let's also keep in mind - and never forget - that Canelo has never proven himself to be on Hagler's level.

As to the second question regarding what Khan can do if he's hit with anything close to regularity. That's a tough one. I'm no conditioning expert, but a focus on leg conditioning may be in order. Tommy Hearn's worked on those weak legs of his in the leadup to his second go round with Leonard and it may have kept Ray from finishing him off in the final round of that controversial affair. 

Khan will have to couple that stamina, however, with an amazing game plan. For surviving a fight isn't the same as winning one. Let's keep in mind that team Canelo may well have taken this fight because it seems to winnable. Khan and his team may have to be full of surprises if they want to pull this one off and rattle the fight world to it's core.  

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Amir Khan Finally Gets His Big Chance Against Canelo

Is the sky the limit for Khan?

He's been waiting and waiting and now Amir Khan finally has his crack at the truly big time. To the shock of pretty much everyone, it was announced this morning that the British welterweight will now be fighting for the lineal middleweight title against none other than bonafide superstar Canelo Alvarez.

Although Khan may at first blush appear to be the perfect foil for the bigger Canelo, he can at least luxuriate in the fact that he has now - finally - found himself in a legitimate mega-bout. For while it's true Canelo's size will most likely give him a clear advantage in the ring against the Englishman no matter which way you slice it, Khan at least now has an opportunity to prove he's ready for prime time.

To be sure, Khan has been in top fights before - Zab Judah and Danny Garcia come immediately to mind - but he has never entered a stage as big as this one. The fact that the recently announced bout quickly became one of the top Twitter trends in the U.S. soon after its announcement should tell people all they need to know here.

Now will come the speculation, the questions of whether or not this is all a bit of sleight of hand to deflect criticism Canelo has received recently for not facing true middleweight monster Gennady Golovkin. Indeed, it's kind of infuriating that a man who is essentially a welterweight may well win the middleweight championship of the world in a bout where the middleweight limit of 160lbs isn't even in play.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Can Mike Alvarado Successfully Come Back?

Will Alvarado now look out to new horizons? 

Word is that Mile High Mike Alvarado is indeed returning to the ring in March in what Dan Rafael of ESPN claims will be an eight round bout. Although no opponent has been named yet, it's clear the man is not going to dive right into the deep end of the pool. For troubles with law enforcement, coupled with a drinking problem, will have kept him out of the ring for over a year by the time he makes his comeback.

Still, boxing has showed the world time and time again that no one can really ever be written off - even Alvarado, who looked terrible when he was dominated by arch foe Brandon Rios early in 2015. For if the 35 year old Denver native has indeed sobered up and regained his focus, he might possibly surprise some people. Can he reach the pinnacle of success once more? That remains to be seen. Still, it will be interesting to see how this story progresses.

Indeed, Alvarado at his best is a fascinating fighter. The way he out-chessed Rios in their second fight was impressive stuff. What's more, he's got extensive experience under his belt. Sometimes a loss to the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez is more valuable than a handful of easy wins. Gene Tunney, for instance, is said to have owed a lot regarding his growth as a fighter to the great Harry Greb, the only man to ever defeat him.

Whether Alvarado will harness his extensive experience and turn it into a positive remains to be seen. It's telling that Alvarado is starting on a smaller scale here than he's been used to. Again, the fight will only be eight rounds and will also appear on UniMas rather than on HBO. That, however, may prove to be a good thing. Sometimes the longer path is better than the shorter and seemingly easier one.