by Cliff Rold
It’s probably too early to speculate.
Let’s go ahead and do it anyways.
Late Friday evening, BoxingScene’s Rick Reeno posted breaking news stories that furthered chatter begun earlier in the week by Golden Boy Promotions head Richard Schaefer.
Claiming no interest in co-promotion, a reported offer by Top Rank’s Bob Arum was made to, in essence, purchase the services of WBC 122 lb. titlist Abner Mares for a unification bout with WBO/IBF titlist and lineal World Champion Nonito Donaire.
Claiming the offer wasn’t big enough, Schaefer upped the ante, claiming he was willing to offer a $3 million dollar fee for Donaire, to be split between he and his promoter, to do the fight.
Those who can’t get enough of boxing on the internet in all of its news and social media functions were treated to healthy entertainment on Friday night. Donaire took to Twitter wondering where the offer was. It’s one thing to say there is an offer.
It’s another thing to put pen to paper and call the lawyers.
Donaire, Dan Rafael, Oscar De La Hoya, Mares manager Frankie Espinoza, and others were all in on the fun. Donaire questioned whether the offer was real and why no one at his team had seen it yet. He poked fun at contradicting messages that said it had been sent and others that said it would.
Feel free to look it up.
Then check the timeline. Right around the time the offer went from Tweets to breaking news, Donaire vanished from Twitter. Perhaps it was to celebrate. The Jr. Featherweight king also announced via Twitter that a sonogram showed him to be a father expecting a new son.
That’s great news and congratulations are in order. Still, the timing was odd.
It’s probably too early to speculate. Let’s go ahead and do it anyways. Did Donaire’s sudden disappearance signal a call? A critical e-mail?
Did the absurd inability in recent years to see major fights between combatants under the banners of Golden Boy and Top Rank just take a turn for the better?
This is a fight worth speculating about in the dark.
Fans grew weary in recent years of the constant bickering and double talk that aborted what should have been this generation’s “Fight of the Century.” Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao withered on the vine and while it will never be dead as long as both men are active, the event that could have been probably died in 2010.
It’s been a hard thing to forgive for many. In a sport built on events, the failure to make THE event was a slap in the face to the sport and its followers. It’s not the only fight that couldn’t happen. Across the scale, fans can see fights that would be great in their mind’s eye that seemingly have no real chance of happening.
Brandon Rios-Danny Garcia? Promotional barriers.
Mikey Garcia-Gary Russell as a long-term destination? Promotional barriers.
The list goes on.
And this is nothing new. Fans who came of age in the 1980s and 1990s can remember similar, regular obstacles between Top Rank and Don King Productions. Main Events had a stable of talent that acted as a bit of a fearless buffer then. We don’t have an equivalent on the modern landscape at the moment.
That means, sometimes, more than wanting, boxing needs a fight like Donaire-Mares to come together. Promotional barriers, and bitching, be damned.
Boxing is often at its best when fights organically build through an unofficial process of elimination that leaves two fighters who find each other in the settling dust. While Top Rank’s Guillermo Rigondeaux still figures in the mix at the top of 122 lbs., he’s not faced the rigors of either Donaire-Mares.
He looms as next. Donaire-Mares is for now.
Donaire has walked from 112 to 122 lbs., picking up a number of notable scalps. Vic Darchinyan at 112, Fernando Montiel at 118, and Toshiaki Nishioka at 122 were knockout wins over men largely regarded as the tops in the their class at the time. Donaire, who won two belts at 122 before the Nishioka win, was an almost consensus pick as Fighter of the Year for 2012.
Mares won a rugged tournament at 118 after a draw with undefeated Yonnhy Perez, besting Darchinyan and Joseph Agbeko to win his first belt. He defended against Agbeko and then added a belt at 122, defending against the excellent Bantamweight titlist Anselmo Moreno to narrow the field in and around he and Donaire’s shared division.
They have earned the right to call themselves the two best at 122 lbs. right now. They have made each other the fight that matters most. They have styles that promise a crowd pleasing fight to go with the accompanying importance the bout will carry.
It makes perfect sense. It should happen. Given the evolution from headline grabbing offer, to Twitter war, to news in recent days, is it the fight that will happen?
Let’s hope speculation turns to anticipation sooner than later.
The Weekly Ledger
But wait, there’s more…
Kovalev Explodes at 175: http://www.boxingscene.com/sergey-kovalev-arrives-moves-towards-title-shot--61563
Garcia Makes Grade Versus Salido: http://www.boxingscene.com/post-fight-report-card-mikey-garcia-breaks-on-through--61659
Picks of the Week: http://www.boxingscene.com/boxingscenecoms-television-picks-week--61691
Demetrius Andrade looked fine on ShoBox on Friday night, but were the announcers a little too effusive? Freddy Hernandez really wasn’t a step up from what remains Andrade’s best outing against Grady Brewer in 2011. The time for passing time is past…Andre Dirrell is set to return to the ring in February. No, really…If Rigondeaux is to wait, and there was speculation he might be in line for Donaire if Mares doesn’t happen, can he wait with Vic Darchinyan? It’s a great fight for both guys…Would Golden Boy really risk Canelo Alvarez against Austin Trout? The power of Haymon is strong. That might merit legend.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]