And the New!!!
On Saturday January 17th, Deontay Wilder became the first American heavyweight champion in what seems like forever by showing us he could out-box Bermane Stiverne on Showtime. Wilder showed that he has good boxing skills for a big man, a better chin than most folks thought, and he demonstrated that he is more willing to stick to a game plan than boxing fans assumed he would be. Wilder had Stiverne perplexed and stunned multiple times throughout the evening. Not to mention what should have been credited as a knock down at the end of the 2nd round, Wilder’s dominance was on display from the opening bell through the 12th round, taking the fight the distance and being awarded the Unanimous Decision. Nonetheless, Wilder stayed composed and used his long reach advantage to keep Stiverne at bay while landing multiple power shots, forcing his opponent respect him.
This was truly a breakthrough performance by Wilder and this victory will breathe life into a heavyweight division that has been arguably destitute since the Tyson era. Wilder spoke of wanting to fight Tyson Fury next, followed by a possible faceoff with Wladimir Klitschko. I believe that is a solid game plan, looking forward. Fury is another popular heavyweight that could help show us how well Wilder will deal with another tall fighter. My prediction for that fight would include a Wilder KO inside of 4 rounds due to Fury’s shaky chin and Wilders combination of speed and power. While I tend to shy away from Wilder’s antics and constant talking outside of the ring, I do love that he goes for the KO and that he has destructive power. As time passes, I see only improvements, and with those improvements it will be very hard for anyone to beat him.
Landmark NBC Deal Made
The best news that came forth this week was from Al Haymon and NBC. Both parties entered into a deal that will bring boxing back to primetime network television. If that wasn’t exciting enough, the news only sweetened when the boxing community learned that the 1st card on March 7th will include Robert Guerrero taking on Keith Thurman and the co-main event will feature Adrien Broner versus John Molina in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand. Then, as though it would not get any better, Premier Boxing Champions, as the NBC series has been deemed, announced their second fight card will be on April 11th. The second show will feature Danny Garcia against Lamont Peterson in a battle of 140lb champions (fighting at a 143lb catch weight). All of those fights will be on the regular NBC network at 9pm EST, meaning more people will have access to their broadcast. The availability of these big fights will allow lifelong fans and new viewers to get to know these fighters more intimately, and will allow the remainder of the 150+ fighters in the Haymon stable to be featured more regularly.
Even more fights are to be featured on the NBC Sports network, which has been a very good platform for boxing this past year. There’s still more! Premiere Boxing Champions (PBC on NBC) announced that all fighters will be subject to Olympic style, random drug testing for their fights and the Cleveland Clinic will assist in expert medial assessments to ensure the health and safety of all the fighters. Some of the proceeds from the series will support the Fighter Brain Health study at the Cleveland Clinic, which is currently leading in Traumatic Brain Injury research.
Some people thought Roc Nation would break into the boxing seen and work on taking over with their show that featured more musical stars than boxing stars, but Al Haymon certainly has plans of his own to remain at the top of the boxing game. Most of the rumblings that Haymon was bad for the sport have been temporarily ceased as PBS on NBC gives us hope for an eventful 2015. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. Once you give fans what they want to see, past misnomers can easily be forgiven. This NBC deal could take boxing back to the glory days it once had in the 80’s and 90’s and it has the potential to spark competition from the premiere cable networks like HBO and Showtime. Those premium networks will have to put on good fights in order to maintain subscribers; after all, we can now tune in to see great match ups on NBC. Oh, did I mention that they may throw in a Deontay Wilder versus Tyson Fury fight? They wouldn’t be able to sell this deal any better if they had the “Sham wow” guy as the leading pitch man.
Canelo Takes his Ball and Goes Home
I am sure we all know the kid from elementary school on the playground or basketball court who figured that he didn’t like the way the game was going and just decided that he was going to take his ball and go home. In boxing, that kid is Canelo Alvarez. Canelo’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya told members of the media that they are pulling out of the Miguel Cotto negotiations. Citing, they don’t want to wait any longer for an agreement to be reached. Canelo wants the May 2nd date so bad that it has interfered with his ability to rationalize things. He doesn’t seem to understand that despite his efforts, that date is dominated by Floyd Mayweather. At this point, that ain’t happening.
Floyd has already destroyed Canelo’s pay-per-view earnings, comparatively, so unless Floyd opts out of Cinco De Mayo weekend, Canelo has no chance to get the May date. HBO would be foolish to attempt a viewship competition with Floyd Mayweather… unless of course we are talking about a Canelo versus Cotto matchup. Running with his ball, away from the Cotto negotiations seems a bit childish, doesn’t it? My guess is that Canelo will need Cotto long before Cotto needs Canelo. I said it after Cotto fought Martinez, and I will say it again. Cotto should attempt a Mayweather re-match for the middleweight championship, then move to Canelo or GGG. It seems as though Canelo rushed into a Mayweather fight and can’t seem to recover negotiating power. It seems to me that the 24 year old has a lot to learn about business and boxing in general. Issuing premature ultimatums to esteemed opponents during negotiations does not end well. Perhaps the young Alvarez will be learning this lesson the hard way.
Floyd Versus Manny Update
Bob Arum is saying has told us that the majority of the terms of the fight have been agreed to and that the deal simply hinges on Mayweather signing the contract; however, we have not heard much from the Mayweather side of things. We do know there is a gag-order in place during the negotiations, and it is rumoed that Showtime and HBO claim to be holding meetings about how to do split shows for the PPV. The lack of substance and measurable progress are giving me a bad feeling that the fight will not happen in May and that Arum’s claims are simply a bit of a curveball thrown at negotionations. No one in the industry claims there is a live contract in existence except Manny and Arum. Being that there is a gag order in place, I am confused as to why the Top Rank crew is discussing the negotiation at all. Perhaps this is a gimmick to make it appear as though Floyd is ducking Manny. Adding to my skepticism is the previously discussed Canelo cancellation. Canelo ceasing to entertain Cotto’s negotiation opens up for a potential Mayweather v Cotto lineal middleweight title fight on May 2nd. Any other week, I would be frustrated, but hopefully more clarity on the Mayweather/Pacquiao negotiation will be on the way.
Fight of the Year so far
Amir Imam and Fidel Maldonado Jr. put on a hell of how on the Stiverne v. Wilder undercard. This was an easy pick for me as fight of the year so far (yeah it’s only January). The ebb and flow was exciting with Maldonado starting out well while continually landing his straight left and the sudden knock down at the end of the second round by Imam. Then Maldonado came back with a monster left hand that floored Imam at the beginning of the 3rd round, only to have Imam get 2 more knockdowns in the later part of the round. Imam was awarded the stoppage with his 4th knockdown of the fight, but Maldonado held his own. Each knockdown Maldonado suffered reminded me of a Rocky movie. He just kept getting back up. Imam showed not only intestinal fortitude by getting up from his knockdown, but also showed power and skill. He boxes at a protective range and forced Maldonado down multiple times in the fight. I look forward to seeing both fighters in the future. Particularly, I would love to see Imam in with some of the top fighters at 140lbs. His power and length, could easily bring tough competition to the likes of Terrence Crawford or Adrien Broner. Those types of bouts could test his questionable chin and show us whether Imam has the potential of being an elite boxer at 140.
Time for Leo to Step up
Leo Santa Cruz got a little bit more of a fight than most expected against heavy underdog Jesus Ruiz. I did not expect the fight to go past 3 or 4 rounds, but Ruiz came prepared. Leo ultimately overcame Ruiz, earning a TKO on a referee stoppage, but it was a decent fight after all. I do think it is time for Leo to step it up a notch and fight one of the other champions. Similarly, I can’t help but think that Leo is has lost some power as he has moved up in weight. He landed many shots that should have hurt or put down Ruiz but never did. I can’t see him beating Abner Mares without more power and he would have his hands full with Carl Frampton. Another potential competitor is Guillermo Rigondeaux. Rigo is looking for a big fight, and perhaps this would be a nice stylistic matchup, as well as a step up in competition for Leo.
Mike Alvarado vs. Brandon Rios III
The next big fight for the upcoming week will be Rios vs. Alvarado III. There has not been a lot of promotion for this event, and it seems to lack the buzz that typically surrounds a trilogy. I am not thrilled about the fight personally, but I will be sure to tune in. I am picking a Rios stoppage in this one, as Alvarado is not the same fighter he once was. With Alvarado’s legal troubles likely to be distracting him from training camp, I think Rios will close this trilogy once and for all and move to bigger and better things.
Boxing Tidbits and Talk
As if the heavyweight division couldn’t get any hotter it was also announced this weekend that Bryant Jennings will take Wladimir Klitschko on April 25th at the Madison Square Garden in New York City. As much as I’d love to chat more about this “announcement,” the news was immediately recalled as Gary Shaw and Bryant Jennings both stated that the fight is not finalized. We will be sure to keep you posted on the status of this fight.
The date for Kell Brook’s first defense of the IBF welterweight title will be announced on January 22nd. As it looks right now, it will be a lesser named fighter. Brook has momentum on his side after beating Shawn Porter and I’d like to see him make his first defense against a seasoned opponent. Amir Khan, perhaps?
Golden Boy Promotions added a fan-friendly fighter, David Lemieux, to their bag of tricks this weekend. The fighter signed a contract with Golden Boy Promotions and after his impressive showing against Gabriel Rosado in December, we are all looking forward to what is next.
There was some chatter about a potential fight between Carl Froch and Bernard Hopkins this week. While I like the idea, from a name perspective, I don’t like it from a stylistic perspective. I think Hopkins is all wrong for Froch, and that Froch would be better served to fight Chavez or Golovkin. At least those matchups could promise some action.
That’s all we have for this week but that is not all there was to talk about. Tune in to ThaBoxingVoice weekly radio show live every Thursday and Sunday starting at 7pm (EST), or catch the podcast to keep up with the latest boxing news.