by David P. Greisman
They have dates without dates — dance cards without dance partners.
Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez have many suitors, people who want the biggest opportunities to make a name and make money. It’s up to Mayweather, Alvarez and their respective teams to sort through those suitors and decide who’s suitable.
Mayweather may end up facing Amir Khan on May 3, though no official announcement has been made. The lobbying and negotiating for Mayweather’s next fight is largely going on behind the scenes.
Alvarez, however, has an ever-growing group of candidates nominating themselves, what with the junior-middleweight division looking forward toward Canelo’s future and hoping that this star will align with them.
They know that Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao likely will depart this sport the coming years, that Mayweather and Pacquiao being the two biggest domestic pay-per-view attractions actually means there is a limited number of opponents who can help make a show lucrative.
They know that Alvarez and Adrien Broner are being groomed to inherit the pay-per-view empire, and that boxing fans are being trained to accept the fact that they will soon need to spend more in order to see Alvarez and Broner perform.
This coming weekend’s bout between Broner and Marcos Maidana, airing on Showtime, was originally supposed to bring the debut of Broner as a pay-per-view headliner. Instead, Broner’s pay-per-view debut likely will come next year.
Next year also will deliver one, or two, or perhaps three pay-per-views in which Canelo Alvarez is the A-list attraction. He’s declared as much, and we already know when he will have his first bout back following this past September’s loss to Floyd Mayweather — March 8 in Las Vegas. His other appearances would then be July 26 and Nov. 22.
We know when, just not whom.
There are many entrants in the Canelo Sweepstakes, all hoping for the phone to ring, for a door to open.
The person in the best position is Miguel Cotto, who remains one of the most popular boxers in the United States. That status is why Cotto is the one being courted, rather than the one doing the courting. Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions says he’s offered Cotto a minimum of $10 million to face Alvarez in March. Cotto also has an offer to meet middleweight champion Sergio Martinez in June.
Last week, Schaefer told BoxingScene’s Rick Reeno that there are other options for Alvarez, in case the Cotto fight doesn’t come to fruition just yet. Those options include but are not limited to 154-pound titleholder Carlos Molina and the winner of a bout between Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout (which occurred this past weekend, and turned out to be Lara).
Those fights would not necessarily be the most aesthetically pleasing, though the mix of styles between Alvarez and Lara has more of a likelihood of entertaining.
Lara, who has long sought an Alvarez fight, once again made his case with, and after, his wide decision victory over Trout.
“He just wants to tell Canelo Alvarez that he did it better against Austin Trout tonight than what Canelo did with Trout, and that he wants to fight him, of course,” said Showtime’s translator during the post-fight interview with Lara.
Lara boxed well, and perhaps too well against Trout, who looked uncomfortable in the role of aggressor. It was a much easier win for Lara than was his battle with Alfredo Angulo this past June. But sometimes it’s better to appear vulnerable while still coming out victorious.
Lara made the right strategic choice, yet what potential pay-per-view buyers will remember is that Lara landed just 150 punches in 12 rounds, of which only 69 were power shots, according to CompuBox.
It does help that Lara, like Alvarez, is with Golden Boy Promotions. So, too, is Angulo, who hasn’t fought since his loss to Lara but who would make for a fun battle for as long as it lasts.
Another expected barnburner would be a bout between Alvarez and James Kirkland, who returned this past Saturday from an extended absence, scoring a technical knockout over prospect Glen Tapia.
It would take some fence mending for Alvarez-Kirkland to be made, though. Kirkland previously had been a member of the Golden Boy stable, before suing the promoter in an effort to secure his release.
Kirkland had once been slated to face Alvarez, back in September 2012, only to pull out over what was either a demand for more money, a lingering injury, or a combination of both.
Yet just as money can make foes of friends, the reverse also is true. Kirkland is now aligned with rapper 50 Cent’s “SMS Promotions” outfit. The largest obstacle to Kirkland facing a Golden Boy fighter is the question of whether Floyd Mayweather — who had a falling out with 50 Cent — would object to any collaboration between his current business partner (Golden Boy) and his former friend.
There’s plenty of time for all of this to change, and much of this depends on what happens with Miguel Cotto. There are still, presumably, two other shows in need of opponents.
We could see Lara enhance his marketability. We could see 154-pound titleholder Demetrius Andrade score a win in his bout with mandatory challenger Brian Rose and suddenly be in the running for a shot. We could see a notable contender at welterweight decide to move up to junior middleweight. And we could see plans change, for an Alvarez pay-per-view to change to a “regular” Showtime broadcast, altering the level of opponent necessary.
Alvarez’s next fight is now less than three months away. Should the date stick, expect the announcement to come relatively soon, so as to allow enough time for the usual media tours and pre-fight advertorial miniseries.
It will be the first of three expected pay-per-views leading off the first half 2014. Manny Pacquiao’s next bout is anticipated for April. Mayweather will perform in May.
It will be the first pay-per-view with Alvarez as the main attraction. And it will depend on his team to pick the right opponent — someone who will help the show sell well but who will not defeat Canelo — to ensure that this March main event won’t be his last.
The 10 Count
1. Congratulations to the newest inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, who will enter Canastota in June 2014.
In the modern category: former 168- and 175-pound champion Joe Calzaghe; Oscar De La Hoya, who held world titles from 130 and 160 and was the lineal champion at 140, 147 and 154; and Felix Trinidad, who was lineal champion at welterweight and also held world titles at 154 and 160.
In the old-timer category, for fighters whose careers ended between 1893 and 1942: George Chaney, who fought at bantamweight, featherweight and lightweight; Charles Ledoux, who fought at bantamweight and featherweight; and former middleweight champion Mike O’Dowd.
In the pioneer category, for fighters whose careers ended in or before 1892: heavyweight Tom Allen.
In the non-participant category: referee Eugene Corri (inducted posthumously, as he was a referee during the old-time era), promoter Barry Hearn and referee Richard Steele.
In the observer category: writer Graham Houston and photographer Neil Leifer.
2. There are several changes that I think should be made to better the IBHOF voting and induction process:
- For one, the names of the voters should be public. Modern boxers are elected by members of the Boxing Writers Association of America and certain others who have been given a vote. The electorate for the other categories consists of historians selected by the Hall of Fame.
- Add more international voters, given that this is an international hall.
- Vote totals should be public.
- Do away with the minimum of three “modern” inductees per year, which has led to some undeserving names making it into Canastota. Also, do away with the maximum of three “modern” inductees per year, as that has led to other names languishing.
- Set up a threshold — similar to the one that baseball has — a percentage that candidates must surpass to make it into the Hall. I know that this would be controversial, in that it could lead to years with just two, or one, or even no notable inductees, and that would hurt business at the Hall, as well as in the small town in which it sits.
- Add more than three new names to the ballot each year, and set up guidelines by which some of these other names that have been sitting on the ballot forever — and will never make it in — are instead removed, making way for more deserving candidates.
3. I wouldn’t normally be critical of a boxing card in the United States drawing an announced attendance of 9,363. It’s a good number.
But I can’t help but feel that this past Saturday’s card in Brooklyn — featuring a main event pitting one Brooklynite in Paulie Malignaggi against another Brooklynite in Zab Judah, with three world title bouts on the undercard, and with tickets affordably priced between $25 and $250 — should be drawing much more given all of the above factors, and given that this fight was taking place in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world.
I can’t even find a figure, meanwhile, for the card that took place in the ballroom of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. The actual draw on the card was one of the co-feature fighters, middleweight Glen Tapia, who hails from about two hours away in Passaic, N.J.
Tapia lost. They left.
4. Ann Wolfe might have just supplanted Naazim Richardson as the best supplier of between-rounds quotes.
Richardson famously told Shane Mosley, against Antonio Margarito, to “swim without getting wet.”
Wolfe, coaching James Kirkland against Glen Tapia on Saturday night, had this gem after the third round: “You took his nuts, now you got to take his heart.”
5. But I don’t think even Ann Wolfe would’ve been able to light a fire under Joseph Agbeko’s rear end against Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Agbeko was credited by CompuBox with going 48 of 349 in total punches on Saturday night. That’s four landed punches per round — one landed punch every 45 seconds. And that’s an average of just 29 punches thrown per round, about 10 per minute, one every six seconds.
Power-punch wise? He went just 22 of 144. That’s less than two power punches landed per round — one landed power punch every 98 seconds. And that’s an average of just 12 power shots thrown per round, about four per minute, one every 15 seconds.
According to CompuBox, the only person to land fewer total punches in the full 12 rounds of a title fight during the past 28 years was Randall Bailey, who hit Devon Alexander just 45 times.
6. Last week’s wealth of action also brought the end to one boxer’s campaign to be considered a candidate for fighter of the year.
Edgar Sosa could’ve been among the candidates had he topped lineal flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi. It would’ve been a great conclusion to a very good year, one that also brought a second-round knockout of former 108-pound titleholder Ulises Solis and a unanimous decision over former 108-pound titleholder Giovani Segura.
Yaegashi was better, though, defeating Sosa by decision and notching his fourth and final win of 2013 — and hopefully setting up a fight in 2014 with another top name in a very deep division.
7. And so that leaves six or seven names in a Fighter of the Year race in which there’s no leader truly head and shoulders above the rest as in past years. Rather, there are good cases to be made for several of them.
A contingent of members of the Boxing Writers Association of America met this past weekend prior to the card in Brooklyn. I was not present and am instead relying on the accounts of those who were.
The five names the writers selected for consideration are Timothy Bradley, Danny Garcia, Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev and Floyd Mayweather.
One name missing from that list is that of Adonis Stevenson.
He may well be added, according to Matt Richardson of FightNews, who serves as the BWAA secretary.
“A decision will be announced on Monday [Dec. 9] but no current fighter will be removed from the top five, a sixth slot will be added instead,” Richardson wrote on Twitter. “That's IF the board of directors approves the inclusion of Stevenson.”
Stevenson belongs on the list, even if he doesn’t end up winning.
And others have argued that Guillermo Rigondeaux got snubbed by not being included on the list.
8. And just as I think there are changes to be made to the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s selection process, the same can be said for the BWAA’s voting.
Typically the organization holds year-end meetings, one on the East Coast and one toward the west, both coinciding with major fights at which a number of members are anticipated to be present. Names are nominated, arguments are made, and candidates are ultimately winnowed down to the top five.
There’s flexibility: other “Fight of the Year” and “Fighter of the Year” candidates can be added in case something major happens afterward. Actual voting is then done with mailed-in ballots once the year is over.
But one problem with the process of nominating names and winnowing down to the top five is that it’s dependent on the writers are attendance, and there often are cases where members are not able to be present at either meeting.
This year, there won’t even be a meeting out west, as the BWAA leadership felt that not enough members will be in San Antonio this weekend for the big Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana card.
And sometimes not everyone is, say, aware of a fantastic war that took place in France between Somsak Sithchatchawal and Mahyar Monshipour. Back in 2006, when that bout ended, Dan Rafael of ESPN.com was said to have raised his hand and suggested that it needed to be considered for an award.
“I campaigned for it among my fellow Boxing Writers Association of America members to vote it as fight of the year,” Rafael later wrote on ESPN.com. “I urged as many as I could to just take the time to watch it on YouTube or, if they wanted, I would send them a DVD. It worked, and the fight won the award.”
Technology now plays such a big role in covering this sport. It can help out in the voting process as well. A private message board can be set up for a period of time in which the BWAA’s widespread membership can chime in with nominations and arguments. And then an online survey can be set up — with each member given his own access code — for narrowing down to the final five candidates in each category. Think of it as a primary election held before the general election.
9. The five candidates for Fight of the Year, by the way? In chronological order, they are:
- Tim Bradley UD12 Ruslan Provodnikov
- Mike Alvarado UD12 Brandon Rios
- Omar Figueroa UD12 Nihito Arakawa
- Danny Garcia UD12 Lucas Matthysse
- Giovani Segura KO12 Hernan Marquez
10. Not making the cut? Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Joseph Agbeko.
What an outrage…
“Fighting Words” appears every Monday on BoxingScene.com. Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide . Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]