By Cliff Rold
The U.S. television market has its share of sporting choices on Saturday. On the gridiron, Dr. Kellen Moore will be surgically carving up UNLV en route to the NCAA record for quarterback wins while Alabama and LSU will be show how much more fun it is when both teams can play. The NASCAR Nationwide series goes to Texas Motor Speedway. The NBA…yeah, still nothing.
How can Lebron choke in a fourth quarter without bringing his talents to the first three?
In the ring, fans with access to all available English and Spanish language broadcasts could have as many as six broadcasts to choose from. Even if one is without Wealth TV, ESPN Deportes, Azteca America, and Fox Deportes, HBO and Showtime still come through with two highly anticipated cards.
It’s a lot of boxing to go around. It’s not enough. Ironically, with all those cared, no U.S. network is scheduled to air what may end up the fight of the week. It is relegated to the YouTube wish pile.
Saturday, at Wembley in London, former WBO Jr. Lightweight titlist Ricky Burns (32-2, 9 KO) makes his first start since vacating his strap over the summer. The Scotsman will stare across the ring and see waiting for him a man who had both Joel Casamayor and Juan Manuel Marquez on the floor in ultimately losing attempts at the lineal Lightweight crown.
Greek by way of Australia, Michael Katsidis (28-4, 23 KO) will surely be swinging at Burns from first bell to last. Sometimes can’t miss fights, well, miss. It would be quite the upset if such were the case here.
Burns’ warrior bona fides bloom from the September 2010 brawl where he won his now forsaken belt. Decked hard in the opening frame, Burns came off the floor and surged down the stretch against Roman Martinez in what was a Fight of the Year candidate. The win was a sensation on YouTube and a wild scene in Glasgow.
It was reminiscent, in spirit if not unfolding, of the brawl Katsidis used to get to the world stage.
In an unreal five round bit of carnage, Katsidis overcame Graham Earl in 2007 in London. By the summer, Katsidis had stolen the show on the undercard of Bernard Hopkins-Winky Wright with a savage decision win over Czar Amonsot. Whether on HBO or various pay-per-view undercards, Katsidis has been a regular on U.S. broadcasts since.
All of his losses came in those appearances. So did some pretty solid wins. To his credit, Katsidis loses better than most fighters win. When a fan drops coin, and invests time, on a Katsidis fight, they know they’ll get his best. The same is true of his next opponent (and, for those who might raise the issue, the Nicky Cook debacle wasn’t the fault of Burns).
Burns hasn’t faced the same level of competition Katsidis has to date. He hasn’t really faced anyone the level of Katsidis. This Saturday’s contest, for an interim WBO belt at 135 lbs., will settle that.
What it won’t do is provide the opportunity to increase his profile beyond the United Kingdom. That’s a shame for Burns, whose deep character in the ring merits the opportunity for the greater wealth broader audience can provide. It is a greater shame for fans who haven’t seen Burns ply his trade, who haven’t caught the war with Martinez and don’t know what they’re missing.
It would be easier to complain were the offerings on Showtime and HBO of lesser quality this weekend. They are not. Showtime’s Lucian Bute-Glen Johnson scrap is likely to be a corker. HBO’s Alfredo Angulo-James Kirkland is a surefire shoot-out for as long as it lasts (don’t blink).
For an allegedly dying sport, it appears there is plenty of violence to go around, with an absence of violence to lament.
There are real stakes at play here. Katsidis will provide Burns a step up in competition and, by night’s end, provide the audience an indication of where the Burns ceiling resides. Burns will provide Katsidis a chance to engage in another classic and provide evidence of how much he has left in the tank after several years of grueling battles.
The fans in London get a treat. Fans elsewhere get to hear about it. Sometimes the world is too big for the boxing fan.
The Weekly Ledger
But wait, there’s more…
Marquez Wins Big, Deserves Better: https://www.boxingscene.com/tyson-marquez-makes-case-review-ratings-update--45517
New Fight of the Year Leader: https://www.boxingscene.com/yaegashi-vs-porpramook-new-foty-leader-on-youtube--45545
Latest Divisional Ratings: https://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings
Picks of the Week: https://www.boxingscene.com/boxingscenecoms-television-picks-week--45533
Cliff’s Notes… Not asked above: Who will bleed first in Michael Katsidis-Ricky Burns…This scribe still doesn’t think Antonio Margarito cheated against Miguel Cotto and it weighs heavy in forecasting their rematch. It might be more than a month away, but it’s too good not to dwell on…If anyone reading hasn’t seen Akira Yaegashi-Pornsawan Porpramook yet, why not? This fight needs all the word of mouth it can get and trust that, once seen, it’ll be something worth talking about for a while…. For those who have seen it, does anyone else think, if he could watch round eight of Yaegashi- Porpramook, Matthew Saad Muhammad would smile? Porpramook didn’t quite complete the Saad-like comeback, but he gave a hell of an effort...Don’t lie. Seeing James Toney look in decent shape for the Denis Lebedev fight at Cruiserweight made it at least worthy of curiosity. There’s no room for any more of that. Toney is what he’s looked like since at least the Sam Peter rematch. Done. One of the best fighters of the last 25 years is proven over. There’s something sad about it but nothing to hold against Lebedev. Old fighters selling their names to young one’s is a boxing tradition.
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]