By Jason Pribila: The sport’s two most powerful promoters simply refuse to get along. Their feud has cost boxing fans the opportunity to see many attractive match-ups, and the latest trend of counter-programming is forcing that same shallow pool of customers to take sides and choose what fights they will spend their time and money on. Adding to the mess is that HBO and Showtime seem to have chosen their sides and enable their promoters of choice to continue to run the sport as separate entities.
While competition exists in the NFL and NCAA football there really is not a comparison. Friends can gather on a Saturday Night or Sunday afternoon and sit in their favorite watering hole while watching as many games on as many TVs as their eyes could see. I don’t remember the last time I watched boxing in a public venue. Other than in a big city or go-go bar, it simply cost too much for a proprietor to pony up for a PPV when they could satisfy a majority of their patrons by televising major sports. There is no boxing “Red Zone” channel.
So on Mexican Independence Weekend, Top Rank Inc. and Golden Boy Promotions put on competing shows a few blocks away from each other. One featured a solid undercard with a weak main event, while the other had a superior main event, and a typical PPV undercard. Yet, despite their best efforts to divide the sport further; the fighters involved took it upon themselves to give us a memorable night of fights that we won’t soon forget.
For a change, I woke up on the Sunday after a PPV and didn’t have to start my day answering such typical text messages as: “What a joke!”, “Boxing is dead!”, “Get a Life!”, and “Now will we get Pacquiao – Mayweather?” This gave me a time to watch some of the action I missed, and begin to jot down my notes of Winners and Losers:
4. Josesito Lopez: The deck was stacked against Lopez, and the kid went down swinging despite being out-manned and out-classed. However, the clock struck midnight on this story when Victor Ortiz quit on his stool. There is no question that Lopez deserved another big money fight after pulling the upset of the year, but by being beaten so soundly by “Canelo” he proved to be more Baldomir than Balboa.
3. Golden Boy Promotions: They deserve credit for continuing to load up their undercards. However, their stubbornness robbed their fighters the chance to be viewed by the largest possible audience. This card seemed jinxed when Paul Williams had his unfortunate accident. They can’t be blamed for James Kirkland’s poor career management skills. And, they have been bitten twice by betting on Victor Ortiz. However, by refusing to budge off this date they robbed their brightest prospect the chance to get a date for himself against an opponent who would helped his career to move forward. Alvarez called out Floyd Mayweather after the fight, but I don’t see anyone that he has been matched with that would prepare him to face a “B-level” opponent much less the sport’s elite.
2. Stephen Espinoza: When he was hired to be the new head of Showtime Sports, many observers were concerned because he had become known in the sport by being the lead attorney for Golden Boy Promotions. Since he took over, he has done some good things; but it has also become clear that Golden Boy Promotions has become the drink to Espinosa’s straw. Again, he had no control that Alvarez was forced to face his fourth choice, but he could have had the common sense to avoid going up against the most anticipated PPV not featuring Mayweather or Pacquiao.
1. Freddie Roach – The Hall of Fame promoter has not forgotten how to train overnight, but his losing streak continues. Sure he deserves credit for getting Chavez Jr. in position to challenge the division’s elite, but for eleven rounds he had no answers on how to slow down Martinez. He took part in another 24/7 that showcased another one of his fighters who trained when he wanted to, and he also got dropped from Amir Khan. Not a good stretch for Coach Roach.
Honorable Mention: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez: He did what he was supposed to do, but his recent stretch of opponents hasn’t seemed to have done much for his career development. He is in position to call out Mayweather or possibly face Miguel Cotto; but he may find that moving up from a “C-level” fighter to an A-lister could be as difficult as the leap that Lopez attempted by facing him.