By Cliff Rold, photo by David Martin Warr/DKP
Boxing returns to Network TV!
But sort of.
The big business-of-boxing news this week has all been about where fans will be able to see May’s Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley Welterweight clash. Everyone is familiar with the old saying, “can’t shine s…tuff.”
Apparently a preview show on CBS does the trick.
Pacquiao-Mosley, when announced, was a fight few hardcore fight fans and only sparing members of the press could hide their disdain for. A 39-year old Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KO) who appeared gassed after only two rounds versus Floyd Mayweather, and who looked all of his age versus the average Sergio Mora last September, is not what anyone who genuinely follows boxing wanted to see in the ring with Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KO).
That feeling wasn’t going to go away.
It still hasn’t.
The best way to make it not matter has emerged. Pacquiao-Mosley has been made something bigger than merely its match-up. When it was announced that Showtime had lured Pacquiao (and his promoter, Bob Arum), away from HBO, the magnitude of that story alone promised to drown out the naysayers.
Showtime shares corporate blood with ‘big four’ network CBS…and they’re bringing CBS to the dance.
The network which once aired classics like Roberto Duran-Esteban DeJesus III live provides the opportunity for morning show coverage, more 60 Minutes for Pacquiao, and a primetime slot devoted to previewing the fight.
Fight fans have every right to complain. They should.
Those who want to see boxing be “B”oxing again have to be a little excited as well.
Manny Pacquiao isn’t just a fighter anymore.
Manny Pacquiao is a brand, and the right kind of brand at that.
Manny Pacquiao isn’t just famous. Manny Pacquiao is a winner and a thriller, the latter true even in fights where the former isn’t much a question. The only man in history to win lineal World titles in four weight classes, Pacquiao has picked up belts at 147 and 154 to add to his stats in his last three fights and looked good doing it.
Genuine boxing fans knew that Pacquiao’s last fight against Antonio Margarito would probably be one sided. It was. Curious followers, the casual viewer, just saw a superstar live up to the tag with blazing speed, some nasty exchanges, and an ass whooping.
Otherwise known as ‘what they paid for short of a knockout.’
If Pacquiao again delivers, to even more curious viewers, what he did the last time out, the boxing business can’t help but be the better for it.
That does not erase what the base, the fans that have floated the sport with their dollars and spirit over a rocky decade, feel about watching Manny go “Money” Pacquiao. It remains to be seen whether Pacquiao-Mosley can exceed expectations for the genuine fan and end up a good fight. It’s fair to say expectations are starting low enough to make it a pretty easy bar to leap.
That’s why it is ironic, in a week when HBO’s loss of Pacquiao (for at least a night) is the story, it is HBO delivering the red meat in the ring. No fight, no matter how tantalizing on paper, can guarantee it will live up to its hype or hope. However, match two fighters with speed, skill, youth, and belts in one of the game’s deepest divisions, and the formula can typically work itself out.
27-year old WBO Jr. Welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley (26-0, 11 KO) versus 23-year old WBC titlist Devon Alexander (21-0, 13 KO) meets the criterion between the strands.
It’s not exactly shaking the business of boxing to its knees.
There is debate about how many tickets are (and are not) being sold for this clash at the Pontiac Silverdome. The world will know more after the event is concluded.
Thomas Hauser, writing at Maxboxing, generated some worthy debate this week about whether the two men involved are worth the fiduciary commitment HBO made to get this fight done. The world will have a better idea about that after the event is concluded and over the next year or two afterwards.
There can be no debate about the fight’s most compelling feature: it is a marvelous match. Sure, a pessimist might wonder if the style clash could make for a dull outing but the evidence doesn’t add up. Bradley and Alexander have been consistently entertaining in recent outings. Bradley, in particular, is deceptively aggressive and that should play well with the countering ability of Alexander.
This is not a big fight in the sense that Pacquiao-Mosley will be. It’s not even in the same stratosphere. It is just a good fight.
But that’s not to be taken for granted. That’s where the lesson of the last week lies.
Boxing sometimes accommodates both things on the same night, presenting a fight both big and good. Other times, the biggest stars get to a point where they can make a boatload of cash for less risk and they follow the path of less (even an aged Mosley can’t be considered least just yet) resistance.
In those times, hungry young fighters begin positioning themselves to be the public’s choice du jour to face the star. Some do it by racking up wins of the safer variety themselves. Others do it via calculated risk. On those occasions, the good fights happen in the shadow of the big fights with dreams of better big fights floated into the ether.
There is no doubt Bradley or Alexander would love to be in the big fight one day. One of them will have a better foothold in that direction Sunday morning.
And boxing will have all its bases covered for the time being.
But wait, there’s a wee more…
Garcia, Urina War on Telemundo: http://www.boxingscene.com/johnny-garcia-survives-late-scare-beat-urina--35020
Picks of the Week: http://www.boxingscene.com/boxingscenecoms-television-picks-week--35086
For those who like their trivia, the announcement of Ring Magazine’s official “Fight of the Year” selection marks only the second time since 2003 that Ring and the Boxing Writer’s Association of America disagreed on their selection. This year, Ring’s choice agreed with the voting here at BoxingScene: Giovanni Segura’s rousing eighth round stoppage of Ivan Calderon for the Jr. Flyweight crown…Last time they disagreed, this scribe says the BWAA got it right. James Toney-Vasily Jirov trumped Arturo Gatti-Mickey Ward III…Tomasz Adamek will fight “a” Klitschko? This is wild stuff, the whole brother act thing. For the fan’s sakes, lets hope it ends up being Vitali for Adamek. His straight punching and spry legs could make a Vitali fight interesting, even as a wide underdog. The jab and straight punching of Wlad would leave Adamek little chance for victory…Zab Judah-Kaizer Mabuza is going to be slept on. It should not be. This could be a fun little brawl.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]