by Cliff Rold
Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of York. - William Shakespeare, Richard III
“It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” - John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
It’s always fun when the author can dust off some old books. And be assured, boxing fans, our ‘sun of York’ is coming.
But as more snow pelts vast swaths of the US, the Super Bowl fades to memory, and the unbearably long NBA preseason plays out before the real season begins with its eternity of playoff games, it is surely winter.
Punxatawney Phil saw his shadow and Bill Murray has already made it to February 3rd. Six more weeks of winter beckon. It will feel like almost that long before a fight the masses really care about comes about again.
Sure, there will be fights on TV in the US between now and March 1st. It just might not feel like it for many. ESPN2, UniMas, Fox Sports 1…they’ve all got something coming up. ESPN2 starts its prospect tournaments at Lightweight and Middleweight and those could be a lot of fun. We wait and see but that looks like a potential highlight.
The Brits have two of their best Heavyweights in the ring this month too. Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora are easy to get excited about.
Fighting each other.
They’re not. The latter is fighting Kevin Johnson.
HBO2 is doing another one of their Macau shows. After not being able to pull of airing Gennady Golovkin’s last fight, they will get Flyweight Zou Shiming and Lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez on the air. Vazquez is fighting the so far impressive Denis Shafikov. There could be some promise there.
But, seriously, a card with Shiming and Vazquez on it…well, it has Shiming and Vazquez on it.
It’s going to be a long month after a year many wished didn’t have to end. But inevitably the ‘light goes out.’
2013 was one of the best years in boxing in a long time. It kept pay-per-view at a minimum and delivered with multiple Fight of the Year candidates on HBO and Showtime. It’s going to be hard to keep that pace in 2014 and the early matches don’t speak to the same type of year.
We already have two of what should be several pay cards on tap. Canelo Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo and Timothy Bradley-Manny Pacquiao II could be interesting main events but the undercards could be hit and miss. Of the two, Alvarez-Angulo looks the much better overall card on paper with a possibly interesting 122 lb. clash between Leo Santa Cruz and last chance veteran Cristian Mijares. If Mijares can win, it’s a bit of a redemption story.
The same can be said of the looming rubber match between WBO Super Middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz and Artur Abraham (March) and the Jr. Featherweight title clash between Kiko Martinez and Hozumi Hasegawa (April). Abraham and Hasegawa are in the last chance corral. All of these veterans may move beyond relevance this year.
Conversely, several young guns have big opportunities looming when we get past February. Featherweight Vasyl Lomachenko will audaciously try to win a belt in his ‘second’ (FightFax says different) pro fight against veteran Orlando Salido. Terrence Crawford will travel to challenge WBO 135 lb. titlist Ricky Burns. Heavyweight Deontay Wilder take on his first real live body in Malik Scott, a fight that could be all sorts of intriguing.
So it gets better.
It ain’t 2013 so far
And it doesn’t make this month any easier for a fight fan.
Boxing often has its down times, but this is an almost shockingly barren month. Sure, the Winter Olympics are cause for many not to counterprogram but how many boxing fans are skipping a good scrap to watch luge or figure skating?
Ok, it depends on who is figure skating but still…
This year is as good as any to make a point that has been brought up sporadically in recent years: boxing should move to the Winter Olympics. Right now, it’s crowded onto secondary cable outlets in the summer. Moving it to the winter wouldn’t make the officiating less terrible but it would create an outlet for certain demographics to engage in the games.
Boxing is a sport without season. So is Wrestling (amateur, not be confused with the author’s fascination with the professional variety. And on that note, YES! Daniel Bryan should be in the main event at Wrestlemania). Why not move these sports to a Games schedule that doesn’t have to compete with NBA All-Stars donning flags, track, and gymnastics?
It’s at least worth thinking about.
And given this month of boxing dregs, thinking is something any fight fan has lots of time to do.
March 1st is coming.
Until then, stay warm.
Another notable date on the calendar will come in May when Floyd Mayweather returns to the ring. He’ll face, it appears, a) Marcos Maidana or b) Amir Khan. This scribe, along with fellow BoxingScene scribe Dave Greisman, was at ringside for Showtime’s Peterson-Jean show and witnessed practice graphics scrolling across their screens for both fights. It feels safe to say it’s going to be one of those scraps. Mayweather is now polling fans for which it should be. How about c) neither? Why is this the choice? Does anyone think either has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning? Being that Mayweather reigns currently at Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight, why not Erislandy Lara at the higher class? Yeah, it’s not an ‘event,’ but from a fight watching perspective it’s a hell of a lot better piece of sport. This is a sport too, right?
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]