Up until 4 years ago, I had enjoyed a mild flirtation with boxing, drunkenly assuming the status of casual fan every time the local Casino’s were showing the big P-P-V events in my native Glasgow, Scotland. However, upon being mesmerised by Manny Pacquaio’s reign of terror through the weight classes I was slowly, but surely, being seduced by the sweet science. The tipping point came when I stumbled upon the Philipino’s fighters 1st battle with the Legendary Mexican, Erik ‘El Terrible’ Morales on You Tube.
From the point of seeing those two proud warriors contest a hellacious 12 round war in Las Vegas I knew boxing would become an intense, passionate f**k story on the side which would threaten everything between me and my 1st love, soccer.
From that moment to the present day, my love affair with the sport continues grow, as I have vociferously consumed classic fights (past and present) and immersed myself in all things boxing from documentaries to relevant fight literature, all in a bid to educate myself in the history, and improve my knowledge and understanding of this brutal, but beautiful sport.
Nonetheless, I am still a total novice trying to hone my craft as a sports writer. But one thing I do know is that 2013 has easily been the most exciting year since I became a proper boxing fan.
And one of the factors that have contributed to such a fascinating year in boxing is the Cold War that has been contested by rival promotional companies Bob Arum’s Top Rank and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. Unfortunately, fighters from both stables will probably never get the chance to face off against each other because Top Ranks affiliation to HBO and Golden Boys exclusive deal with Showtime, as well as the bad blood, which runs deep, between Arum and De La Hoya. This is a crying shame for boxing. But the by-product of this promotional war is that the promoters are acting with a new found, unfamiliar expediency when negotiating super fights.
The cautious conservatism that often characterizes promoter’s choices, especially in transactions with their biggest investments, has been replaced, to a certain extent, with an approach more akin to that of the Kamikaze Bankers pre-economic collapse.
I mean do you seriously believe that Golden Boy really wants to allow Adrien Broner to put his undefeated record on the line against the superhumanly powerful and free-punching Marcos Maidana, a man who continues his transformation from crude brawler to accomplished boxer-puncher under the tutelage of 2012 Trainer of the Year Robert Garcia?
Of course they don’t. But they are starting to sweat under the spotlight, much in the same way Bob Arum is feeling the heat, hence his decision to allow Manny Pacquaio to go to war with Brandan Rios, the young brawler with a heart of a Lion and chin of a Heavyweight, so soon after being knocked unconscious by Marquez. And although Bob Arum currently has a brilliant stable of Welterweight-ish fighters, he does not exactly possess an embarrassment of riches in the body count. It is more of tale of quality over quantity, through necessity rather than choice, I may add.
His lack of numbers, is compounded by the impending retirements of Manny Pacquaio and Marquez who, even if they emerged victorious in their next contests, against Rio’s and Bradley respectively, will probably last no longer than one more calendar year in the sport. Irrespective of how astute he is, his aura of self assurance may soon be imprisoned by uncertainty as he contemplates life without his two biggest cash cows. The ramifications of their retirement must weigh heavy on Arums, and his accountants, mind in times of solace and reflection.
But whilst his hand may have indeed by forced to an extent to pair-up his prime A-list fighters with his brawling B-listers, such as Brandan Rios and Ruslan Provodnikov, in a sort of unofficial Welterweight tournament, it may transpire that Arum has a trump card.
Hypothetically, if Marquez beats Bradley and Manny Pacquaio can shake off the cobwebs and regain his form against the belligerent Brandan Rio’s then the prospect of a 5th installment of the epic rivalry of Pacquaio and Marquez falls nicely on Arums lap. The fact that the bout would be valid for a legitimate Welterweight title is the cherry atop of an already pretty appealing cake. Certainly one that the fight fraternity would be eager to feast on once again.
Furthermore, the tone which has been set in 2013 looks set to continue into 2014 as the remaining super fights in this calendar year, involving Golden Boy Promotions, chiefly; Mayweather vs Canelo, Danny Garcia vs Matthysse and Marcos Maidana vs Adrien Broner means that there will be some fascinating Prizefights in the forthcoming year between the winners and losers of these bouts. The same can be said of Top Ranks remaining cards, most notably; Manny Pacquaio vs Brandan Rios, JM Manuel Marquez vs Timothy Bradley and Mike Alvarado vs Ruslan Provodnikov.
For Prizefighting in particular, the potential rewards of winning the ‘Promotional Cold War’ plaster over the pitfalls of risk, and that is why logic and reason are being replaced with an almost reckless adventure by Top Rank and Golden Boy promotions who have subscribed to a ‘Win at All Costs’ mentality.
Thankfully though, it will be the wars of attrition inside the Ring which will continue to capture the imagination as opposed to the proxy battle contested between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions.