It seems ironic that the boxing public should be treated to two ‘Fight of the Year’ candidates in a month that was otherwise dominated by the slugfest between the rival networks, HBO and Showtime, and warring promoters Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions.
Up until the two scintillating bouts – between Timothy Bradley and Ruslan Provodnikov and the 30th March rematch of Brandan Rios and Mike Alvarado – the fights of the year had been contested in the courts, with the promotional companies and television networks squaring off in what was a very destabilising start to the boxing calendar in 2013.
Thankfully, however, the month of March will be forever memorable for the action that took place inside the ring, as opposed to the very public and puerile feud between Top Rank and Golden Boy, HBO and Showtime. The apocalyptic brawls contested by Welterweight Champion Tim Bradley and the ‘Siberian Rocky’ Provodnikov, and Bam Bam Rios and Mile High Mike, have rendered any rivalries outside of the ring utterly irrelevant, such was the greatness of both bouts.
The news that all GBP fighters will be defecting permanently, and exclusively to Showtime, as a result of its relationship breakdown with HBO was, for some, a terminal diagnosis for boxing. The doom-mongers insisted that the divisions of disrepair would only deprive the fans of the sort of fights that the world needs to see. But if the fall out of the networks and the promoters was the kiss of death for the sport, then the aforementioned, devastating duels were the defibrillators that resuscitated boxing’s – supposedly barely – beating heart.
Contrary to being the death knell of the sport, the separation of the networks and promoters may be the antidote which spearheads the revival of boxing.
Both alliances know they must make the battles that will win them war.
Far from being the ‘captain sailing them through the Dead Sea’ as Oscar De La Hoya stated, Bob Arum and HBO are at the controls of a ship that shows no signs of sinking. And, as a consequence of presiding over both the Bradley- Provodnikov and Rios-Alvarado fights, each has landed two brutal blows in the battle for supremacy over GBP and Showtime.
It remains to be seen if Showtime and GBP have the capacity to pick themselves up off the canvas to land some telling blows of their own but if their plans – to stage an unofficial tournament in the Welterweight divisions between; Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson, Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner, Roberto Guerrero and Zab Judah – come to fruition then it is sure to be a compelling contest. As their sworn enemies Top Rank and HBO are also plotting to stage a similar round robin featuring the likes of; Brandan Rios, Mike Alvarado, Ruslan Provodnikov, Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez. Throw the hats of Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquaio and Miguel Cotto into the ring and it looks like an utterly mouthwatering year ahead in Championship boxing.
The vintage crop of fighters who operate in the 140lb-147lb divisions are the beating heart of boxing who could deliver the most thrilling sets of fights since the halcyon days of the Fabulous Four; Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns.
What is beyond debate, is that the prophets of doom predicting the demise of boxing will have to wait a while longer for the raising of the white flag.