Lotsa stuff going on
Covering the fight game is always an adventure and it’s been a bit more bizarre than usual in kicking off 2015. A lot is going on – most of it, so far, outside the ring. Here are some random thoughts and musings about the recent events on Bash Boulevard…
CINCO DE CANELO
Yeah, the precocious Saul Alvarez is going to fight on May 2, regardless. And right now, it looks like he will face the mercurial James Kirkland at the Alamodome in San Antonio on that date. But Oscar De La Hoya – who will meet with “Canelo” in San Diego today – says he isn’t the only option on the table.
So the question is: With HBO scheduling a bout on this evening , what does that really say about the current state of negotiations between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao? Also, let’s say Mayweather does go with a rematch against Miguel Cotto on May 2; just what effect would that have on an HBO pay-per-view that evening with the world’s most popular Mexican pugilist?
Make no doubt about it: there is a backlash from the hardcore fan-base over Cotto-Alvarez not coming to fruition (especially from the Mexican constituency) and Mayweather-Cotto wasn’t exactly a rematch the general public was clamoring for.
Expect a decision regarding Alvarez, one way or the other, sooner rather than later. But it’s clear; Canelo and Golden Boy Promotions are clearly staking their claim on the Cinco De Mayo and Mexican Independence Day dates.
OK, I don’t want to say, “I told you so,” but the justification of Jermain Taylor continuing his career and his recent IBF middleweight title shot (which became a win) against Sam Soliman in October made no sense. This, especially in light of his increasingly dangerous and bizarre behavior that has resulted in arrests for discharging weapons and threatening others.
Yeah, for awhile, Taylor became a very easy punchline.
Now he’s an uneasy and inconvenient truth that boxing once again failed in its responsibilities and those who sponsored and enabled his return (Al Haymon and Lou DiBella among others) will have to live with this. But forget about pointing fingers; can we just get this guy the proper help? There’s no doubt he’s far from being just a shot fighter; he’s very likely brain damaged.
This simply isn’t the same guy whom I’ve covered since being an NBC researcher at the 2000 Olympics for boxing. Back then, and for much of his pro career, he was just a very well-behaved and respectful country boy, a “Yes, sir/No, sir” type of guy. That Jermain Taylor is no longer with us and it reminds me of recent stories I’ve seen on shows such as “60 Minutes Sports” and HBO’s “Real Sports” that detailed the downward spiral of NFL players who suffered from CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) due to repeated blows to the head – which is precisely what happens to boxers.
I still find it unfathomable that Taylor was allowed to continue fighting after being knocked cold by Arthur Abraham.
But hey, the Mayo Clinic cleared him, right?
Someone in boxing brought this to my attention and I found the angle interesting: What if HBO is being difficult with Showtime in making a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight a reality because maybe…they really don’t want to do a co-telecast? The thought process being that if HBO believes – like many others – that Showtime is hemorrhaging money in this exclusive multi-fight deal with Mayweather (that reportedly guarantees him $32.5 million per fight), why bail them out?
And if they can delay this fight till the end of said deal and Mayweather becomes a free agent, well, HBO could be in line to pick up this fight for themselves. Hey, it’s not the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.
There are some who have always maintained that Mayweather-Pacquiao would happen after this deal closes, when Floyd is 49-0 – and just in time for the opening of the MGM Grand’s new arena, set to open some time in 2016.
Showtime put out a release on Tuesday announcing that last weekend’s heavyweight title bout between Deontay Wilder and Bermane Stiverne did strong Nielsen numbers, peaking at over 1.3 million viewers. By today’s standards, this is very robust and among the highest figures ever posted by the network.
Now, the question is: Does this bode well for Showtime or for NBC and the “Premier Boxing Champions” series? Let’s be honest; like the rest of Haymon’s marquee clients, Wilder could be heading to “The Peacock” in the very near future. Speaking of which, with various fights being announced on NBC, SPIKE TV and, I’m sure, other outlets, this kinda leaves Showtime a bit barren; doesn’t it?
Again, as I mentioned recently, their upcoming schedule is a bit thin and as of now, other than a Feb. 20 “ShoBox,” there are no other boxing telecasts scheduled.
There was another PBC-Haymon announcement on Thursday in Los Angeles to announce their deal with SPIKE and other than Lance Pugmire and Robert Morales (who couldn’t show), none of the usual boxing media was invited. I’m told the reasoning is the Haymon group is very leery of the negativity toward it and wants to control its message as it pitches its product to sponsors (which is crucial given these deals are time-buys).
What’s interesting is that they are so worried about leaks (to the point of paranoia), they are not only telling fighters and their camps to keep mum and not talk to reporters or divulge information but they aren’t even revealing their plans. Basically they’re just being told to show up at certain times for functions.
Reporters granted access to the SPIKE announcement were actually told they couldn’t release any information or video till the official press release from the network was sent out. Yeah, this is a strange new world we live in. Seriously, if someone was caught live tweeting this presser, would he have been escorted off the premises and put on the banned list?
B-WARE OF LAZINESS
Sorry, I just can’t feel any real empathy for Bermane Stiverne, who held a joint press conference with his promoter, Don King a couple of days after his lethargic and listless outing when he lost his WBC belt to Wilder. They talked about the physical ailments Stiverne suffered on that evening – and granted, he didn’t look himself – but it was essentially a “dog ate my homework” session.
Sources tell me Stiverne came in at 290-pounds and hadn’t exactly lived a Spartan lifestyle since winning that belt against Chris Arreola in May. On the most recent edition of “Ten Count”, Ken Miller of the L.A. Sentinel flat out said Stiverne was out with Mayweather,”making it rain,” at one of the…uh…gentlemen’s clubs in Las Vegas mere weeks before the fight.
As Bill Belichick says, “You have one job.” Stiverne’s profession is boxing. He failed to act like a professional and it cost him. Unfortunately, this not being 1985, King can’t simply make a few calls and get Stiverne an immediate rematch.
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