Labor Day Pains

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao the fight that never was
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao the fight that never was
By Jason Pribila: According to Wikipedia a season is a division of year, marked by changes in weather, ecology, and hours of daylight.

On Monday Americans celebrate Labor Day. For many this represents a day off from work and an excuse to barbeque, while bidding a farewell to the summer season. Those who choose to remain indoors will most likely be glued to their television sets welcoming back the return of the high school and college football seasons.

If one asks a group of people what their favorite season is, he or she could expect answers that would vary as much as the weather. The most common answer would be based on temperature, while others would migrate towards holidays. Businesses large and small have their busy season. The outdoor-type look forward to fishing and hunting season. Friends of mine used to even celebrate Columbus Day by consuming adult beverages and declaring it the official beginning of “drinking’ season.

The sports world allows us to follow athletes through off-seasons, pre-seasons, and regular seasons. Champions are usually crowned during the playoffs, also known as the second season.

One of the perks of being a boxing fan is that there is no off-season. While American television executives try to avoid booking major fights during the holidays, summer months, and the occasional ratings juggernaut like the Winter Olympics, one could usually find a meaningful fight taking place on any given weekend.

2010 has been abysmal for the sport of boxing. The year began with the hopes of a fight being made that would have captured the attention of casual sports fans, but those negotiations ended so poorly that the fight may never happen. Innovation is rarely used with the sport, which made it even tougher that the critically acclaimed Super Six tournament would fail to play out in full. HBO has learned that tomorrow’s stars cannot be created in board rooms, and are now experiencing how difficult it is to get an athlete of today to take a pay cut after clearly being overpaid in the past.

The calendar has turned to September and this past weekend marked the first time a main event provided enough action and drama to be considered as a Fight of the Year candidate. A look at the upcoming schedule leaves many to wonder if there will be anyone capable of reaching the standard set by the recipients of previous Fighter of the Year awards.

If 2010 is going to be salvaged the boxing schedule is going to have to emulate that of another popular form of entertainment, motion pictures. Movie snobs (like me) suffer through the popcorn flicks offered from Memorial Day thru Labor Day until they finally get to the quality films that will make the rounds during awards season, competing in the years various Oscar races. That being said, Hollywood even produced at least two relevant films during the period usually reserved for eye-popping special effects and mind-numbing comedies. Those looking for depth were able to see a visual masterpiece in “Inception” and a near perfect independent film, “The Kids Are All Right”.

Prior to last weekend’s junior flyweight title unification scrap between Giovanni Segura and Ivan Calderon, the only other fights that resembled fights of the year were four round wars on untelevised undercards. The problem is that Segura – Calderon was contested on an independent pay per view that went unseen by the masses. The sad truth is that when I woke up on Sunday morning from a Beer-Rita induced sleep, my cell phone was lit up by comments about the James Toney – Randy Couture farce that took place at the same time on the UFC 118 PPV.

It is hard to believe that only a decade ago, the year 2000 was kicked off by the first of three classic fights between Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. The summer months remained hot when Sugar Shane Mosley won a thrilling 12 round decision over Oscar de la Hoya at Staples Center in Los Angeles. If anyone already filled out their ballots in pencil, they needed an eraser when Felix Trinidad met Fernando Vargas in December. Each fight was promoted heavily and seen by audiences on either PPV or HBO.

In two weeks Shane Mosley returns to the Staples Center for a fight that has failed to capture the imagination of the public or media. In fact buys will be helped because of the postponement of the Rafael Marquez – Juan Manuel Lopez brawl that was originally scheduled for the same night in Las Vegas. If there is going to be a fight of the year on that PPV, most believe it will take place during the televised opener between Daniel Ponce De Leon and Antonio Escalante.

There is still time for a fourth quarter rally. Marquez-Lopez is scheduled to take place in November. Marquez could still crack, and Lopez’s chin has looked vulnerable recently. Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham are scheduled to meet in a fight that features fighters that are not hard to find inside the ring. The bout represents everything good about the “Super Six” even if the victor’s next opponent remains unclear. Samuel Peter represents the last person to challenge a Klitchko, and he will get his third chance to defeat one of them when he faces Wladimir next weekend in Germany. In their first meeting Peter dropped baby brother three times and still lost a decision. Nothing could kick-start the home stretch like a heavyweight upset.

So while fights like Pacquiao – Mayweather, Williams – Martinez II, and Mosley-Berto die on the vine, we are faced with the reality of fights like Klitschko – Briggs, Holyfield – Williams, and Bute – Brinkley getting signed. The best we could hope for is that somehow fighters, promoters, and television executives collectively get on the same page for the good of the sport. The pleas of boxing writers have fallen on deaf ears, so perhaps it’s time to employ award winning screenwriters. That may be the only way to ensure that 2010 has a Hollywood ending.

Prib Notes:
Condolences: Heartfelt condolences to promoter Bob Arum and his family. The body of 49 year-old John Arum, Bob’s eldest son, was spotted on Friday by a search team in helicopter in the North Cascades National Park in Washington, USA. Arum was an experienced hiker and he was attempting to climb the 8,815 foot Storm King Mountain. It is not sure how he fell, but it is believed that a drop of over 300 feet was fatal.

I once had a conversation with a friend, who is a funeral director at Bell-Hennessy Funeral Home in Williamstown, New Jersey, and we agreed that there isn’t anything as painful as seeing a parent who has lost his/her child.

Status Update: A popular junior middleweight prospect updated his Facebook status to read, “Just got invited to kick it with 25 models from former Miss Universe pageants.”

It led me to wonder if history would have remembered Mike Tyson any differently if he had the access to “tweet” during his heavyweight reign. Certainly someone would have stepped in and hit the “unlike” button as soon as “Iron” Mike tweeted anything about judging a beauty pageant.

Pavlik’s Return: I have read that former middleweight champion Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik could be making his ring return on the Pacquiao-Margarito undercard. No opponents have been named, but Top Rank officials are looking for someone that could test Pavlik. Where was that mentality during his title reign?

Mike Jones: 2009 Prospect of the Year, Mike Jones may also return on the same undercard, but there is a catch. has reported that in order for the rising welterweight from Philadelphia to appear on the card his promoter, Hall of Famer J. Russell Peltz, would need to enter into a co-promotional deal with Top Rank. While the exposure would be great for Jones, Peltz does have other options. HBO has approved Jones as an opponent for titlist Andre Berto, and he has a good working relationship with Main Events.

Pascal – Hopkins: Negotiations have begun to match Light Heavyweight Champion Jean Pascal against Bernard Hopkins. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaeffer said that the bout would take place in Canada. To me this would be the biggest adverse impact a performer from Canada has on the City of Philadelphia in the last 25 years. During the summer of 1985, Sir Bob Geldof welcomed Philadelphia to the global Live Aid telecast. The artist on stage at John F. Kennedy Stadium was Bryan Adams. The bad news for the soon to be 46 year-old Hopkins, is that the “Kids (still) Wanna Rock”.

Jason Pribila can be reached for questions or comments at

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