Off the books

Oscar De La Hoya-Saul Alvarez-HBO-450

 

What was shaping up to be a much improved year for the sport of boxing after a rather tepid 2014 took an early hit as Oscar De La Hoya announced that a bout between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Miguel Cotto – two legitimate stars – would not take place as an agreement was not reached. The proposed deal from Golden Boy Promotions and Alvarez was taken off the table abruptly on Saturday afternoon.

 

Yeah, this one hurts.

 

This match-up here, slated to take place on the much-coveted May 2 date, was going to be another chapter in the rich and storied rivalry between Mexico and Puerto Rico and one of the most anticipated bouts of the new year. Cotto, fresh off winning the recognized middleweight title against Sergio Martinez, versus the precocious Canelo, who had won two major belts as a junior middleweight.

 

It was believed that, coming into the weekend, this fight would still be negotiated. Sources close to the situation had indicated some frustration that Cotto had not already signed off on the deal. It wasn’t just about consummating this fight but planting it on May 2 and pushing out Floyd Mayweather’s monopoly on that date. Cotto’s side believed it had till Tuesday to make a decision but Alvarez – who has designs on making Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day his pay-per-view dates – plans on fighting with or without Cotto.

 

And yeah, there is the distinct possibility – as ridiculous as it sounds – that Canelo and Golden Boy Promotions go up against a Mayweather pay-per-view card. What, you thought all the pissing contests in boxing had dried up after 2014?

 

What seemed like such a natural fight and something that should’ve been easily negotiated was anything but. The reality is that, in Cotto and Alvarez, you had two A-listers and while the Puerto Rican star could be heavy-handed in his negotiations with Martinez, the young Mexican is a legitimate draw in his own right. He’s the kind who filled nearly 40,000 seats against Austin Trout at the Alamodome in 2013. There was talk of placing this fight in this same venue that packed in 63,000-plus in 1993 when Pernell Whitaker battled Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to a highly controversial draw. But to his credit, it did seem like Alvarez did acquiesce on his side to make this fight come to fruition.

 

There had been some public pronouncements made as early as mid-December by the “Golden Boy” stating his man was on board. Many assumed it meant this fight was on, forgetting that it takes two to tango. Some believe that putting the prideful Cotto on the spot was a tactical error but perhaps it was believed that public pressure would spur him to sign the dotted line.

 

But it’s all for naught (and perhaps this fight can be revisited in September) and now both Cotto and Alvarez are looking for separate dance partners. The rumor is that Cotto is waiting around for the latest Mayweather-Pacquiao saga to unfold before making a decision. Whether you like it or not, a rematch between Mayweather and Cotto – who fought in 2012 – is a possibility. Judging by the reaction of the Twittersphere, it would not be universally well-received by the masses but make no doubt about it; it would still do strong numbers at the gate. And the promotional hook for this fight would be Mayweather, facing the middleweight champion of the world and trying to make history by capturing this title (and yeah, I know; it’s a rather flimsy claim, no matter how factual it may be).

 

As for Alvarez, well, word is his side started to get antsy a couple of weeks ago and started looking for contingency plans. The focus is squarely on the mercurial James Kirkland, the rugged, hard-hitting brawler from Austin, Texas who is perennially unavailable for some reason or another. Kirkland, who was last seen over a year ago when he bludgeoned Glen Tapia (with the help of referee Steve Smoger), has never listened to EF Hutton or anyone else when it comes to financial matters. The “Mandingo Warrior” is said to be driving another hard (or, some would say, impossible) bargain but who knows if he’ll ever come out of Bolivian?

 

Word is Kirkland was in New York on Friday trying to iron out his differences with promoter 50 Cent. Golden Boy believes Kirkland would be the ideal foe in this instance; he’s a recognizable figure to the public, has a fan-friendly style and yet is also rusty and perhaps more vulnerable than usual.

 

But again, can you get this guy to the dance?

 

As for Cotto, well, as he’d say, “Miguel Cotto will fight when Miguel Cotto wants to. And Miguel Cotto will fight against who he wants to for what Miguel Cotto thinks is fair.”

 

So Cotto and Canelo will fight sometime in the first half of 2015. The shame is it won’t be against each other.

 

The more things change…

 

 

WILDER

 

It was an impressive display of boxing put on by Deontay Wilder, who answered a lot of questions in taking the WBC heavyweight title from Bermane Stiverne at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this past weekend. Not only did Wilder display his power at times but, more importantly, showed a certain consistency, durability and staying power that many believed he lacked.

 

Yeah, Wilder came into this contest at the MGM Grand with a sparkling record of 32-0 with 32 knockouts but it was believed this was due largely because of soft matchmaking.

 

But he passed the test rather impressively against Stiverne on Saturday night and he brings a fresh, new, exciting face to the heavyweight division. And he becomes the first American heavyweight titleholder in several years, which many believe is vital to the boxing business in the States.

 

What I found more than a bit curious is that Showtime barely – if at all – mentioned Wladimir Klitschko, the true ruler of this division and has been for quite awhile. Now, being the true or real champion isn’t always the be-all or end-all and winning a major belt is important (no matter what anyone says) but would it have hurt to have actually acknowledged Klitschko’s presence? Or does he only exist in another universe?

 

Now moving forward, will Wilder – whose contract ended with Golden Boy – make his first title defense on Showtime or NBC as part of the “Premier Boxing Champions” series?

 

 

FINAL FLURRIES

 

OK, the prelims are over; it’s time to get Leo Santa Cruz some serious fights. Let’s start with Abner Mares in the spring…Amir Imam is a real talent; let’s hope Don King can do something with him…The WBC’s No. 1 contender for Wilder is Alexander Povetkin…Hearing about a welterweight crossroads bout between Andre Berto and Josesito Lopez for mid-March…I still can’t believe Green Bay blew that game in Seattle…The Seahawks and Patriots should make for a great Super Bowl match-up…”Cookie” on “Empire” is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters on TV and on my pound-for-pound listI can be reached at steve.kim@ucnlive.com and I tweet (a lot) at http://twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at http://instagram.com/steveucnlive and I now can also be found at www.tsu.co/steveucnlive.

 

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