Top Rank-HBO vs. Golden Boy-Showtime: The Battle for Mexican Independence Day

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    sept-15The boxing fan is a devoted individual. Even after all that they endure in a calendar year it seems that bad scorecards, promoters protecting their fighters, and sanctioning bodies screwing with the legitimacy of a championship isn’t enough to detour them from dedicated viewership. The last several weeks have seemed to remind us all that no matter how bad the landscape of boxing can get, it can always get worse.

    That was until Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s inspiring performance against arguably his toughest foe to date, Andy Lee. It’s somewhat ironic that just two weeks ago the aftermath of one of boxing’s most publically known robberies, Pacquiao-Bradley, suggested the demise of boxing altogether. Yet, only a week later the boxing world is salivating over the matchup between Chavez Jr. and lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. The implications of the fight and its proposed date have added to the current optimism surging through boxing. The date has to do with the fact that both Top Rank (Chavez Jr.’s promoter) and Golden Boy have decided to carry through with their respective cards on September 15th. The implications suggest that neither promoter will budge and that fight fans will be treated to 2 big fight cards on the same night.

    The date is very important in the boxing world because it is the Saturday before Mexico Independence, which traditionally correlates with promoters putting together cards that cater to Mexican fans. Golden Boy is looking to put on Mexico’s biggest star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez against Mexican American star Victor Ortiz, another very intriguing matchup. That means that both Top Rank and Golden Boy are putting on Mexico’s two biggest stars against each other in separate bouts. What makes it more interesting (and controversial) is that rival networks HBO and Showtime have been thrown in the mix with Top Rank using HBO as its platform to sell JCC Jr.-Martinez and Golden Boy using Showtime PPV for Canelo-Ortiz.

    So therein lays the dilemma, which promotional company budges first? For the time being neither promotion seems as if they’ll cave first, but if you dissect the dilemma further I think there is a logical conclusion.

    It would be tremendous if they could both co-exists and it would be even better if the two companies/networks could work together to treat boxing fans to a night full of meaningful fights, however that seems unlikely. A colleague of mine at thaboxingvoice.com, Nestor Gibbs, pondered the pros and cons for the promotions to team up together and after considering the possibilities it seems as though the complications outweigh the benefits. I did, however, appreciate his candor because after all, don’t boxing fans deserve some faith restored after the year we’ve had so far? I for one would clear my DVR to make room for both cards to be viewed back to back and call me crazy but I would have no problem forking out the cash if both cards were PPV.

    Yet, I doubt that it comes to fruition. So again, which company caves in first? Well, you have to consider the circumstances surrounding Golden Boy’s card. Before Victor Ortiz gets the money fight with Alvarez he must first step into the ring this Saturday against Josesito Lopez. The stipulation for the Alvarez fight is that Ortiz must win/draw against Lopez. While I doubt Lopez pulls the upset, I don’t think it’s farfetched for Lopez to make a tough fight for Ortiz necessitating a recuperation period that makes it difficult for Ortiz to make the quick turnaround 3 months later. Still, I do believe Ortiz can take Lopez out with relative ease, thus making it a possibility for the Canelo fight to continue onward. One of the biggest issues facing the outcome is Oscar De La Hoya’s tremendous ego. I don’t mean ego in a bad way, though it may be a negative thing for the situation at hand. In actuality, I applaud DLH fighting for Mexico’s Independence, or the date of Mexico Independence rather. This is the kind of attitude and competitiveness that can resonate with gutsy matchmaking. That’s what makes this so much harder to predict, the fact that Arum and DLH are not just bitter rivals, but bitter rivals with tremendous egos and competitive streaks that extend far beyond their companies wallets.

    Yet, my prediction is simple and covers all complications involved. I believe that come September 15th we will be watching an HBO broadcast of Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez versus Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for The Middleweight Championship. Not that DLH’s Golden Boy promotion will tuck their tails between their legs nor will DLH himself have a sudden change of heart. Instead, Golden Boy will use this Saturday’s fight as a scapegoat and a way to save face in front of fans and boxing in general. It’s simple, all Golden Boy has to do is claim that Ortiz sustained enough damage in the Lopez fight to warrant a postponement for the September 15th date. That way it doesn’t look like Golden Boy bowed down to Arum and they get to make the fight a few weeks later. True, the Mexico Independence weekend allows Golden Boy to make Alvarez-Ortiz a PPV and changing the date probably won’t allow them the same courtesy. However, in the bigger spectrum of things I think Golden Boy has more to lose with Canelo than Top Rank does in Chavez Jr.

    Even though Canelo and Chavez Jr. are both really big stars in Mexico, only one can be the “next” crossover star in regards to the American public. They both produce tremendous ratings and equally impressive live gates. Neither has reached the pinnacle quite yet, but both are in good positions leading me to believe something’s got to give. I think it’s much more important for Canelo to get a win in front of a fully attentive audience as opposed to a win that could fly under the radar because of a competing fight card. Maybe that’s unfair for me to say, but I feel that Canelo has a better opportunity to become that crossover star. While a win over Martinez would be huge for JCC Jr.’s career, I’m not convinced that he will get the victory and I haven’t yet drank the Kool-Aid like everybody else post-Andy Lee.

    If you think about it, wouldn’t it be better for Golden Boy to take the calculated risk that Chavez Jr. lose in front of a huge audience only to have Canelo get the biggest victory of his career weeks later. If anything it will further separate Canelo from Chavez Jr. and cement Canelo as the nation’s front man.

    So maybe Golden Boy sacrifices the big Mexican fight week in 2012, but that doesn’t mean that next year’s Cinco de Mayo and Mexico Independence weekend can’t be even bigger events for Golden Boy and Canelo. Especially if this time next year Canelo has Ortiz under his belt and Chavez Jr. doesn’t have a middleweight title around his waist. If Canelo can be the Mexican sole survivor between he and Chavez Jr. then it will make every one of his fights next year that much more important to his country, not to mention the American boxing public as well.

    So if DLH can avoid the losing side of the HBO-Showtime rivalry and if he doesn’t force Alvarez’s star power to compete with a well marinated fight like JCC Jr.-Martinez then perhaps he can benefit from a well-timed Ortiz-Lopez bout. Also, let’s not forget the vast horizons because of all the fighters involved, whether it is Canelo, Chavez Jr., Martinez or Ortiz, none of them have the star power of Miguel Cotto. Ultimately, no date in the world can compete with Cotto-Alvarez. You could put that fight on a Wednesday in March and it does better numbers than the previously aforementioned fights. The cards have been dealt out in front of Golden Boy; I guess we’ll find out soon enough how they play them.