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.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What If Pacquiao Wins Big?

Things to ponder...

Let's face it - the Mayweather-Pacquiao era is over. But that doesn't mean we've seen the last of Manny. Even though it's a pretty safe bet many would simply  like the sport to move one, Pacquiao is still fighting Tim Bradley next month. Frankly, I have a feeling Bradley may pull it off this time. But what if he doesn't? What if PacMan looks not only good, but really good? What will people say, then?

Well, it will be hard to argue that Manny isn't the best welterweight in the sport, even if he did lose to Mayweather last year. Timothy Bradley is no joke, after all. Indeed, some people forget just how strong Bradley's resume is. I myself feel he's already earned the right to be a Hall of Famer. The fact that, should Pacquiao win in April, most people would feel he beat Bradley three straight times is saying a lot.

Ask yourself this - can anyone in the division right now beat a quality Pacquiao? Thurman? Porter? Garcia? Brook? Would any of those men be favored against a Manny whose performing at the level he did against Rios and Algieri? Probably not. Again, that's saying a lot.

So let's not be so quick to write Pacquiao off just yet. While it's true the sport of boxing needs a breath of fresh air, believing Manny really is one fight away from retirement might be putting the cart before the horse. I suspect he'll be back if he wins in May and I get the feeling I'm not alone.

The Mayweather-Pacquiao era may indeed be over. The career of Pacquiao, however, just might end up having good reason to keep chugging along.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Are Today's Top Young Boxers Entitled Millennials?

Some just want to get rich while taking it easy

Back when I was in my twenties, my friends and I didn't see ourselves as being  members of Generation X. Oh, we fit the demographic by birth, but there was something about the image of a typical slacker - some mope who had no interest in taking part in the general workings of society -  that rubbed us the wrong way. Looking back on it now I see that, in a lot of ways,  my friends and I were - you guessed it - typical  Generation X slackers.

Enough of me and my generation, though, let's talk about today's youth, the much maligned Millennials. As an associate professor at a local university, I see these kids all the time. And guess what? I like 'em. A lot. Sure the most whiny, and tisky ones of the bunch get on the news, but by and far these kids are all right. Indeed, they're far more empathetic and  moral than Gen X was in it's day. Believe it.

Still, there are some generalizations that ring true with this group as a whole. And just like my friends and I were typical Gen Xers without even realizing it, a many young people in today's Western World are acting like entitled millennials in a lot of ways. And that includes top young boxers.

Current middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, for instance, won't defend his title at the middleweight limit. Like a student in a differentiated classroom, Canelo wants exceptions to be made for him. The same goes for middleweight Billy Joe Saunders who, legend has it, came right out and said he wasn't ready for Gennady Golovkin, even though both men are champions in the same weight division.

Indeed, it's accepted as fact that some highly paid young fighters don't feel like they have to go out and actually earn the big bucks when they can be well compensated for easy bouts. You know, entitlement. Things like opponent avoidance, catchweights and difficult negotiations have probably been around as long as the fight game, of course. Never before, though, have they been as prominent. And that suggests a generational attitude change.

Let's hope some of these kids grow up quick.

Will Things Work Out For Ruslan Provodnikov?

What will Provo's new path lead to? 

So now Ruslan Provodnikov is on Showtime and everyone is quite happy indeed. Why shouldn't they be? Provodnikov is never bad to watch. What's more, HBO let him slip from its grasp for some odd reason. Here's a question, though:

Will things actually work out for Ruslan over at Showtime?

Sure, he's about to face John Molina as a Showtime top attraction in June, but what then? Remember that Provodnikov is dangerous. Blindingly so. Tim Bradley was said to slur for weeks after their bout. Mike Alvarado was beaten by the Russian into submission.

Will Al Haymon, whose been attached at the hip to Showtime, allow his top guys to face such a foe? Will Haymon allow Provo to face Garcia? Or Broner? Would those men even be interested in such a fight? Sure, he's lost to Matthysse and Bradley over the past few years, but those were close fights. And no, as much as I like Chris Algieri, I don't think he beat Provodnikov when they met a while back.

So, what will all this ultimately mean for the Siberian Rocky? It's hard to tell, really. The fact that Showtime is clearly interested in being in the Provodnikov business is obviously a good thing. Fans will have to wait until after he beats Molina, however, to see what the future holds for Provo.

IF he beats Molina, that is. Never write anyone off in boxing.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

What If Khan Beats Canelo?

If you're like most fight fans, you take it as a matter of fact that Canelo Alvarez is pretty much going to walk down Amir Khan this May and turn him into a punching bag. It's easy to understand why. Canelo fights a significant number of pounds higher than Khan has up until now. What's more, Canelo promoter Oscar De La Hoya seems a bit skittish about having his man face GGG. It only stands to reason fans would therefore suspect that Oscar would match his star carefully against other opponents, as well.

What many of us are forgetting, however, is that Khan is an exceedingly skilled fighter. He unquestionably has his weaknesses, but Khan's ability in the ring is nothing short of impressive when he's at his best. It might also be worth keeping in mind that although Canelo may be popular, popularity does not go hand in hand with great ability. In other words, the man hasn't really shown signs of greatness in the ring - at least not yet.

Of course, there's also the small fact that boxing plays its favorites and it may be hard to imagine Canelo ever losing to Khan on the judge's scorecards in Vegas. Since Khan likely can't knock Canelo out at 155, it simply might not seem likely that he can walk away with the win under any circumstances.

Unless, of course, he really takes Canelo to school, like Mayweather did. No, Scratch that. Canelo still got a draw from one of the judges after Floyd made an easy night of him. Khan might have to do an even BETTER job than Floyd did against Canelo if he were to somehow even hope to move the judge's needle in his favor.

What if he were to do that, though? What if Khan were to surprise the world by fighting Canelo so efficiently that the judges absolutely, positively could NOT rule against him out of fear of getting the CJ Ross treatment? What if, in an even greater surprise, Khan were simply to get the better of Canelo and the judges ruled fairly?

Hey, it's not ENTIRELY out of the realm of possibility, is it?

So, what happens if Khan finds himself being the toast of the fight world? Well, for one thing, Khan would have gone from laughing stock to hero in the amount of time it takes to go through hedge fund money on a boxing series. The world would surely be his.

What would he do, though? Rematch Canelo? Go back down to welterweight? What if he were to stay at middleweight? Would he keep GGG at bay? Some would argue Khan is fine with keeping big fights from happening if they don't suit him. Just ask Kell Brook supporters. Will a new mega-bout be in order (between Khan and GGG) or will a planned mega bout (between Canelo and GGG) simply have died because of Canelo's insistence on marinating things to death, in the process leaving fans with nothing?

I find these questions fascinating. I may be getting ahead of myself here, of course. Then again...

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Top In-Your-Face Fighters In History

None of these guys are your man on the street type

The world is filled with fighters that are cocky, swaggering, and in-your-face. Some love this sort of thing. Some can't stand it. One thing is certain - these types of individuals are DIFFERENT. For they not only shoot off their mouths when the rest of us remain silent - they back those big words up. With no further adieu then, let's take a look at the upper echelon of the In Your Face Crowd, from the 1800s to the present.

  1. John L Sullivan: The original. This strutting Irish American ruled the post Civil War fight scene like no other. Boastful and hard drinking, he was also as brave as they came and - yeah - appears to have been one hell of a fighter, whether it was with gloves or with bare knuckles. A true one of a kind.
  2.  Jack Johnson: The first African American heavyweight champion of the world was also a first class mouth. Hated for his skin color, Johnson doesn't seem to have been interested in winning over the ignorant. Indeed, he was all about taunting and flashing an expensive lifestyle. Controversy sells, and Johnson - the first old time fighter who might well hold his own today - was living proof of that fact. 
  3. Muhammad Ali: Interesting in that he was a combination of the social, the political and the athletic. In short, the man transcended not only boxing, but all of sports. And he did it all while shooting off his mouth in a way that could be as much wink-and-a-smile as in your face. In sense, he perfected the craft.  
  4. Floyd Mayweather: You didn't think this list would skip Floyd, did you? In a sense, the guy was a strange combination of Sullivan and Johnson in that he boasted of his skills while openly indulging in his financial success. Unlike Sullivan and Johnson, however, no one was able to beat Floyd throughout his career. And if he remains retired, Floyd will have backed up the talk all the way through to the end. 
  5. Tyson Fury: Behold, the class of 2016. Outspoken, and obnoxious, this walking master class of bullying as psychological warfare stunned the dominant Wladimir Klitschko late in 2015...and has yet to be shut up by anyone. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Why I'm Not Sold On Luis Ortiz - Yet

Hard to impress?

Make no mistake about it. Luis Ortiz is a solid, and destructive heavyweight. I dunno, though, there's something about the guy that gives me pause - something that makes me reluctant to jump on the bandwagon which currently sings his praises. The skill is there. So, obviously, is the strength. Something seems to be missing, though. Perhaps it's just me.

Then again...

Take last week's bout against Tony Thompson. There were moments there halfway through the fight where Ortiz did - nothing. There Thompson was, actually mocking the guy, and Ortiz was simply inert. Was he even moving his feet? Look, it's clear Ortiz had nothing to worry about. It's also clear that a guy in his late thirties doesn't want to exert too much energy in the ring. Still, I couldn't picture any heavyweight of note just letting time pass like Ortiz did at that moment.

And while I'm sure greater minds than my own would be happy to tell me I have it all wrong, that Ortiz was masterful and doing what anyone who really knows anything about boxing would expect of him, I'm no so sure that's true. None of this is to say that I might not be in error here. It's just that I'm not entirely convinced this is a man who can best the likes of Fury, or Wilder (though I could see his style possibly giving Klitschko problems).

One thing is certain, Ortiz is worthy of attention. Whether or not he's worthy of high accolades, however,  remains to be see. Maybe I'm simply being too critical. Perhaps growing up in the 70s and 80s before savoring the 90s heavyweight scene has spoiled me.

Then again...

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Bring On Lomachenko-Walters

Look me in the eye and tell me this wouldn't be a great matchup.

It's time for Lomachenko-Walters. You know it and so do I. Bob Arum says he's trying to make the fight, so let's hope it happens. Publicly if we have to. Social media is a powerful outlet for we little people. Good fights need to be made and these guys seem to be willing to face off. So, while Frampton and Santa Cruz wonder if it's worth risking their precious zeros to face each other, let's have a chance to sit down and watch some real competitors.

I was watching both Walters and Loma in action again last night and was intrigued. Lomachenko is indeed a skilled and masterful fighter. Indeed, he's a wonder to watch work. The man's footwork, speed and timing are impeccable. Walters, though, Walters has power. serious, fight ending power. We saw what a wildly and unfairly pumped up Salido did to Lomachenko - imagine what a legit strong man can do to the Ukranian.

What's more, Walters is sparing with his energy and knows how to cut off the ring. Don't expect him to chase Loma around  in hopeless pursuit. Oh and Walters has an impressive skill set of his own. Maybe it isn't as sharp and awe inspiring as Loma's is, but it's damn good. That's something worth remembering.

In the end, of course, the odds will favor Loma, should the two men actually meet. That's understandable, but on a personal level I'm not so sure. Again, timing and strength can sap a fighter. Could Walters be the man to legitimately best Loma (the Salido fight was crap)? Or will Loma show just how much better he is than the rest of the competition?

Either way, it's time to find out.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Why Quality Should Come First In Boxing

Cherry picking excites no one

So the other night a strange thing happened - I found myself watching a UFC match. Boxing had just had a pretty good night for itself, it was late, and I wasn't ready for bed (my wife was finishing up a movie), so I decided to check out McGregor-Diaz. And guess what? It was really entertaining. Sure, it was a bit sloppy for my sophisticated boxing taste (I'm so high end, don't ya know?) , but - hey - it was exiting as hell.

To my point - McGregor, the darling of the media - got beaten down by the far less heralded Diaz. It was nice to see since, from my largely objective viewpoint, McGregor is the kind of white, mouthy fighter the UFC has been building up lately for an adoring media. My suspicions were somewhat confirmed later in the weekend when I saw a clip of Diaz on camera saying that McGregor had pretty much gotten special treatment from the UFC.

The takeaway - MMA, which one would think from listening to people is the savior of combat sports,  is a lot like boxing in some regards. Yet there's another takeaway here, one that differentiates MMA - or at least the UFC - from boxing: popular MMA fighters like McGregor, whether they receive favored treatment or not, challenge themselves. McGregor supposedly moved up in weight for this fight, what's more, he fights all the time. Could the same be said of Canelo Alvarez?

Keep in mind that these words are being written by a boxing writer, not an MMA writer. Not only that, they're being written by someone who doesn't even want to write about MMA unless it pertains to boxing. In short, they're coming from a boxing fan, not an MMA fan. Yet the truth is the truth, and
the truth is this:

Marketing trumps sportsmanship when it comes to boxing.

And that's not a good thing.

I just read this morning that Billy Joe Saunders is about to face an opponent no one's heard of. He could have faced Gennady Golovkin for tons of money. Billy Joe knows, however, where more steady income can be found. The same may go for Canelo, who, let's face it, seems to want, at the very least, to cash in some more before facing Golovkin in the ring.

This sort of thing hurts the sport, my friends. Sure, McGregor, despite his boasting, won't be earning what Canelo will, but there's something unseemly about easy - or, rather, easier - money. At least that's true when it comes to professional athletes.

Look, boxing is neither dead nor dying. It's not in a great place, though. The modern world, with it's current technology, makes cherry picking harder and harder to do. What's more, the technology is only going to improve, so market based sporting careers are only going to continue to take heat.

And that, frankly, is the good part about all this.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Top Five Heavyweight Champs Of All Time

These guys simply rise above the rest

Let's face it, the heavyweight division is getting hot again - finally. So, during this transition period, I've decided to look back and think about just who the greatest heavyweight champs were. You may not like the list, but that's fine. Comment and tell me where I'm wrong.

The truth is, guys like Corbett, Johnson and Dempsey, great as they were, probably wouldn't do to well against the guys on this list. Boxing, frankly, simply moved on beyond their skill sets. Then again, you won't find names like Klitschko and Fury on this list, either. They may be big, but just imagine them facing the Tyson who faced Michael Spinks.

  1. Muhammad Ali - Hey, they called him The Greatest for a reason. Liston. Frazier. Foreman. Spinks. He beat them all. That's saying something. What's particularly great about the man is he didn't rely on an undefeated record. When defeated, he would simply come back and win. Admirable stuff.
  2. Larry Holmes - Surprised?You shouldn't be. The man was that good. Yeah, he's known as the guy who held the belt in between the reigns of Ali and Tyson, but ask yourself this - would the Holmes who fought Cooney have lost to a prime Ali and Tyson? Maybe. But then again...
  3. Lennox Lewis - Here's a man who had the misfortune of never fighting Tyson or Holyfield in their primes. That's too bad, because I wouldn't write him off against either of those two. In fact, I'd favor him against both. And their both on this list.
  4. Mike Tyson - If you want to know why Iron Mike's on this list, then with all do respect, you don't know boxing all that well. Pure dominance. Dempsey on steroids (no, not literally). Too tough to swing with, too fast to run from. Truly the baddest man on the planet. 
  5. Evander Holyfield - My favorite fighter of all time is still a tough sell on his list. Riddick Bowe won two out of three against the man. What's more, it's hard to figure out if Holyfield could have beaten Joe Louis if both men were at their best. Regardless. Some fighters just have other fighter's numbers. It's been said, for instance, that Ken Norton had Ali's number. Yet Norton truly doesn't belong on this list. Bottom line: Bowe never went on to achieve what Holyfield did. And yeah, prime Evander could probably have bested prime Louis.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Why Has Canelo Alvarez Become Boxing's New Bad Guy?

At the rate he's going, Canelo may soon start playing smaller venues

So no, Canelo Alvarez does not consider himself a middleweight - but he's going to hold on to the middleweight title. And while Gennady Golovkin is indeed a true middleweight, Canelo won't fight him unless GGG loses weight, possibly weakening himself in the process. Oh, and Canelo's in no big hurry to fight GGG, either. Just in case you want to know. Or not. Frankly, Canelo has made it clear he's not too interested in what most boxing fans think.

Indeed, Canelo has become a villain...and it seems to be a role he's embracing. Why, though? Why is this former warrior, this bright star in a dark night of boxing, taking such a turn?

Well, I could be wrong here. but I suspect he doesn't have much of a choice. See, Canelo's making a ton of cash these days facing the likes of Amir Khan and Miguel Cotto, terrific fighters who he should be able to beat. GGG, though, is another story entirely. I used to give Canelo a good chance against Golovkin, but now I feel either he or his team know the Kazakh cannot only beat the red haired slugger star, he can beat him out of stardom.

And then what happens? Where will all that pay per view money go? Canelo knows that fans will still pay to see him if he continues to avoid GGG - at least for a while. Eventually, of course, he'll be turned on, just like Julio Caesar Chavez Jr was. As a rule, fight fans can't abide divas. Until then, though, Canelo can still cash in. If he were to fight GGG soon, however, he wouldn't be able to cash in at all.

Canelo, simply put, is in a Catch 22 situation. He can continue making money while angering fans, or he can get his lights punched out in front of millions. And make no mistake about it, a loss to GGG most likely wouldn't be like Canelo's loss to Mayweather. No, it might well be more like Hatton's loss to Pacquiao.

And so there we have it.

I could, of course, be all wrong about this.