The shows in Las Vegas were not the return of ‘big time boxing’ as ESPN promised but small and necessary steps, writes George Gigney in his weekly look at the boxing media
Boxing is back, and it’s just as strange as ever. After months without any live action, Top Rank vaulted the trench and led the charge amid the current coronavirus pandemic by holding two shows in Las Vegas. The cards took place behind closed doors and were aired on ESPN. Obviously, there was no crowd inside the Grand Ballroom of the MGM Grand, though there was also only one on-screen member of the announcing team actually there; roving reporter Bernardo Osuna. Joe Tessitore provided commentary from an ESPN studio in Connecticut. Andre Ward, Tim Bradley and Mark Kriegel provided input from their respective homes. For now, this is the new normal.
By and large, the actual production of the shows were
successful. Mikaela Mayer was pulled from the first show after testing positive
for COVID-19 (she later claimed this was a false positive), and apart from that
there seemed to be no major issues.
This bodes well for future promotions, and not just from Top
Rank. Bob Arum made it clear that he and his promotional outfit would be happy
to share their health and safety contingencies to anyone who wanted to see them
– even rival promoters. He also stressed that they are by no means experts on
this; like everyone else, this is completely new to them and there will be lessons
to learn. Shared knowledge on how to navigate the pandemic could really help
boxing and is a refreshing attitude in a sport often plagued by selfishness and
The shows weren’t a complete win though. Most of the boxing
on show was poor – too many mismatches, with nothing much to take away from any
of it. Shakur Stevenson walloped Felix Caraballo in six rounds. Jessie
Magdaleno won by disqualification against Yenifel Vicente.
ESPN billed this as the return of “big time boxing” which,
when examined properly, is a bare-faced lie. The fact remains that while some
shows can go ahead, it’s unlikely we’re going to get legitimately big fights
anytime soon. The financial infrastructure just isn’t there. That isn’t a
slight on Top Rank, either – they’re making the best of an awful situation.
It was widely reported that Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua have agreed terms on a two-fight deal. I am very, very excited by that – but there are still a lot of hurdles that need clearing before we get those fights.
The 21-year-old is publicly dragging subscription service
DAZN – who have aired his last four fights – through the mud because he was
offered a measly $200,000 for his next fight.
“They promote me as one of the biggest names that they have
got,” he said of DAZN.
“I’m not feeling the extra love that they claim I’m getting
shown. I’m one of their most viewed fighters. Guaranteed, top-three. I’m
getting the views. I’m getting the clicks. More than anyone but Canelo
[Alvarez] and [Anthony] Joshua. Where’s my love?”
We can’t verify that, but it seems like a stretch. Gennady
Golovkin, for one, is a much bigger name who boxes on DAZN.
Garcia’s good looking, has fast hands and millions of social
media followers. His best win is a knockout of Francisco Fonseca. He’s clearly
talented, but throwing his toys out the pram over a six-figure purse is
petulant at best.
Obviously fighters shouldn’t just lay down and accept
whatever they’re offered, but nor should they turn their noses up at
life-changing money, especially not in the early stages of their careers.
Later in the interview Garcia referred to himself as “one of
the biggest fighters in the world,” and in the incestuous feedback loop of
Instagram that might seem true to him, but the reality is that he’s way off the
This also speaks to the inflated purses DAZN have thrown at
fighters, even when taking on lesser known names. Now that everyone is wise to
that, they want in on the action.
In contrast to this, former light-heavyweight champion
Oleksandr Gvozdyk called time on his career at the age of 33 to pursue business
opportunities in his native Ukraine. In his last fight, Gvozdyk suffered a
stoppage loss to Artur Beterbiev in a unification clash, though his manager
Egis Klimas insisted to ESPN that this had no bearing on his decision to
It’s rare for a fighter to walk away from the sport when
they appear to still have plenty to give, but Gvozdyk is an intelligent man who
understands he can’t commit to his business needs while still boxing.
Carl Froch and Andre Ward – despite both now being retired – are still very much at odds with one another.
On Sky Sport’s Toe 2 Toe podcast Ward, who usually refrains
from trash talk, said: “I might give him some ammunition. I’mma give him
something to talk about over the next couple of weeks. I think he was an
overachiever. I think he got hit too much. A lot of his big fights could have
easily have gone the other way.”
On the same show, Froch said Ward was “absolutely spot on,”
though didn’t shy away from digging Ward on his own Froch on Fighting podcast.
He was joined by his old foe Mikkel Kessler, both of whom lost to Ward, and in
a humorous tag-team performance slighted Ward – who Froch only referred to as
“Son of God”, Ward’s in-ring moniker – at every opportunity.
Besides that, the pair also looked back on their two
hellacious encounters. The bromance between them is real and allowed for a rich
conversation between two former elite warriors.
Speaking to the Pep Talk podcast, Arum hinted that should
Dillian Whyte try to force his mandated shot at Fury’s WBC title before Tyson
fights Deontay Wilder or Joshua, the WBC may just make him ‘Franchise’ champion
and let Whyte fight somebody else for the vacant title. That’s rough.