I hate “hot take” culture. I hate being told to “embrace debate.” You want to know what I embrace? Reasoned thought. People stating opinions they actually believe — and stating them at normal decibel levels.

When someone offers a “hot take,” they’re usually either delivering a flat-out lousy take or they’re delivering a take they don’t actually believe. Or both.

I long to live in a world in which we grade takes not in spicy habanero pepper emojis, but in lightbulb emojis. Smart takes — that’s what the world needs more of. (That, and love, sweet love, obvi.)

So, I’m sorry dear readers, but you’re not getting any hot takes in this column. The best I can offer you hot-take enthusiasts are takes that flirt with packing heat before revealing themselves to be of moderate temperature.

PBC’s post-Showtime partnership with Amazon Prime begins Saturday with two fights streaming live on Prime and four that follow on pay-per-view. Here are four takes about the card that won’t quite singe your eyebrows off, but at least you won’t feel dumber after reading them:

The faux-hot take: Tszyu-Fundora is an upgrade over Tszyu-Thurman

For about 12 seconds after Keith Thurman dropped out with an injury and Sebastian Fundora was moved up from the undercard to the main event to take on Tim Tszyu, a lot of people thought they had a hot take with this one.

Then they looked around and realized this was most people’s take — the Plan B is better than the Plan A. And if it’s the majority opinion, or even close to it, then it doesn’t qualify as hot.

Positions vary on this one, of course. Former welterweight titlist turned fight analyst Shawn Porter, for one, thinks Tszyu will have an easier time with his new opponent, Fundora. On the opposite side sits another ex-welterweight beltholder turned expert commentator, Tim Bradley, who perceives Fundora as more competitive against Tszyu than Thurman would have been.

I’m aligned with Bradley on this one. So are the oddsmakers, making it factually true that Fundora is less of an underdog than Thurman would have been. It’s not a stark contrast, mind you. Thurman was listed around +500 (5-to-1) at most sportsbooks, whereas Fundora ranges from +370 at DraftKings to +400 at FanDuel. Tszyu is anywhere from a -430 to -600 favorite for Saturday’s replacement main event.

Not to take anything away from Thurman, a fine fighter in his prime, one who narrowly decisioned the likes of Porter and Danny Garcia to emerge as arguably the top 147-pounder in the world for an eyeblink in the latter half of the 2010s, but he’s now 35 years old and has fought exactly one time in the last 4½ years. Plus he’s a career-long welterweight who would have been moving up to a career-high weight to challenge the 29-year-old Tszyu, a career-long junior middleweight.

Fundora is 26 years old, himself a career-long 154-pounder, a southpaw, and, oh by the way, he’s 6’5” with about a 10-inch reach advantage over Tszyu.

Does any of this assure us Tszyu won’t slice right through Fundora and dispose of him inside a couple of rounds? Certainly not. Fundora is coming off nearly a year’s inactivity himself and in his last fight took an upset KO 7 loss to Brian Mendoza. He’s vulnerable. His chin is located quite a bit higher than most of Tszyu’s opponents’, but it’s still accessible and far from impervious. No one should be shocked if rising star Tszyu produces a result similar to the KO 2 his dad pulled off against American southpaw Zab Judah in 2001 or the four-knockdown KO 3 that Kostya scored against American southpaw Sharmba Mitchell in ’04.

But Fundora presents various dangers that a rusty, post-prime Thurman likely couldn’t have. A late switch for Tszyu to what amounts to a left handed praying mantis in boxing gloves, after preparing for an orthodox fighter of standard dimensions, figures to pose challenges. And Fundora can pop a bit. Plus he’s willing to brawl and is far more effective at close range than his dimensions would suggest.

There’s more intrigue here than there would have been in Tszyu-Thurman. The original main event would have a fairly traditional case of the up-and-comer adding the veteran’s scalp to his resume. There’s nothing traditional about Tszyu-Fundora. 

When all is said and done, Tszyu-Fundora is a more compelling boxing match. And unfortunately, that’s a much more boring, conventional take than it might have seemed at first glance.

The lukewarm take: The main event change will have no material impact on PPV sales

Keith Thurman is a bigger name than Sebastian Fundora. No doubt about it. And that led to some initial reaction that, even if Tszyu-Fundora makes for a better in-ring matchup, it makes for a tougher sell, and a diminished sell, on pay-per-view, after all the Amazon and PPV.com receipts are added up.

The thing is, the downgrade in mainstream name recognition from Thurman to Fundora only really matters if this card had a chance at crossing over significantly to attract buys from casual fans. It didn’t. This was never that kind of card. (Especially when the mainstream sports fans will have March Madness games available to watch for free at the same time.)

Argue all you want that this fight doesn’t belong on pay-per-view — no question, in the long term, the sport of boxing would have been better served if PBC’s Amazon debut was “free” to all 167 million U.S.-based subscribers — but the way the card shook out, its audience will be heavily tilted toward hardcore fans looking for a full evening of quality boxing. When Canelo Alvarez fights on May 4, that one will be counting on casuals. But a card originally intended to feature Tszyu-Thurman, Isaac Cruz-Rolly Romero, Erislandy Lara-Michael Zerafa, and Fundora-Serhii Bohachuk was not a threat to penetrate the mainstream on the strength of Thurman’s name.

Replace Tszyu-Thurman with Tszyu-Fundora and replace Fundora-Bohachuk with Julio Cesar Martinez-Angelino Cordova, and the difference in PPV buys figures to be equivalent to a rounding error.

The under-the-radar take: Bohachuk-Mendoza will steal the show

This is a hot take only in the sense that it’s not a take you’re seeing much of because hardly anyone is talking about the first of the six televised fights. The four fights on the PPV portion of the card are getting the promotional push. The two pre-show streamers are going relatively under-discussed.

But there’s a fine chance more people will watch Bohachuk-Mendoza and Elijah Garcia-Kyrone Davis live than will be tuned in at the end of the night for the Tszyu-Fundora main event. It’s all about barrier to entry.

If Amazon Prime’s home screen is pushing people toward the live pre-show doubleheader between 6-8 p.m. ET on Saturday in hopes of selling people on a PPV purchase, that should add eyeballs.

So it would be a good thing if either Bohachuk-Mendoza or Garcia-Davis (or both) delivers entertainment. And Bohachuk-Mendoza is close to a sure thing on that front.

Bohachuk, a 28-year-old from Ukraine who now calls Los Angeles home, has had 24 pro fights. All 24 have ended in knockouts. In 23 of them, he did the knocking out. In one of them, against Brandon Adams in 2021, he was on the receiving end.

Mendoza doesn’t boast the same 100 per cent early-ending rate, but 16 of his 22 wins have come by stoppage, and importantly, all three of his defeats have gone the distance — including against Tszyu last October and against heavy-handed Jesus Ramos. He has a big heart and a sturdy chin and, even against a puncher like Bohachuk, he won’t go away quickly and easily.

These 154-pounders are evenly matched (at DraftKings, Bohachuk is a -175 favorite, Mendoza a slim +140 ‘dog) and both look to land bombs, and the fight figures to go rounds. This one is at least worth the price of your Amazon Prime subscription.

The take-less take: Cruz-Romero will either be a delightful clash of styles or a dreadful clash of styles

I have no conviction about the co-feature on Saturday. And that is something about which I have very strong conviction.

Rolly vs. “Pitbull” is a clash of two very different styles. That much I know.

Cruz fights to his nickname. He’s all pressure and drive and energy, a guy who wants his opponents to feel uncomfortable for 36 minutes. He’s that fly you can’t quite swat, and, oh crap, the fly has picked up the swatter and turned it on you.

Romero is awkward, and I still haven’t decided if he deserves the “-ly effective” attachment. He never quite seems on balance. He has skills, but he seems at times unsure of how to deploy them. He has athleticism, but it’s sometimes drowned out by his clumsiness. I guess you’d define Romero as a boxer-puncher, but not without questioning if he’s actually above average as either a boxer or a puncher.

The styles may mesh perfectly and provide sensational drama as they take turns staggering each other with clean shots. Romero says he’s going to be the first to stop Cruz, and if he fights the way he’s claiming he will, we’re in for some edge-of-our seat fun.

But there’s a nagging sense that the styles may mesh like, say, Naseem Hamed’s did with Cesar Soto. It could be all clinches, fouls, and a mutual focus on negating the other guy’s offense.

It’s a fight either man can win, it’s a fight in which every viewer figures to have a rooting interest, it’s a fight that markets itself, given the personalities involved and the stakes in the lightweight division. We’ll all be pumped right up to the opening bell.

After that? I have no hot take. I’m just hoping for some give-and-take.


When it’s been 50 years since a historic event, chances are many of the people involved in that event aren’t alive anymore. Toward the end of my interview a few days ago with George Foreman for my feature on the 50th anniversary of his knockout of Ken Norton, it crossed my mind that “Big George” is one of the very few notable figures in Caracas that day who is still with us. And as he was talking and I was looking over his BoxRec line-by-line, it occurred to me that none of his big-name opponents from the ‘70s are still alive. Among Norton, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Ron Lyle, Scott LeDoux, and Jimmy Young, Foreman is the last man standing.

So I asked him: Do you get sad at all when a guy like me calls you up and asks you to talk about those guys and relive those days?

The answer: not in the least.

“I love speaking about those guys,” George replied. “I love those guys. The years that’s gone by when I was out of boxing, I got a chance to know them as more than just boxers, and I learned to love them. So when someone asks me about those times, I speak just like they’re still alive, and it brings them back to me.

“Certainly Joe Frazier, man, what a guy. Muhammad was a rascal. But that Joe Frazier, he really attached himself to my heart. What a man.”

I say to my brethren in the boxing media, if you can conjure up any halfway decent excuse to get yourself a few minutes on the phone with George Foreman, do it. I don’t care how many legendary fighters you’ve interviewed or how jaded you’ve become; spend 10 minutes chatting with Big George if you possibly can. You won’t regret it.