Playing Promoter: Reshuffling Top Rank’s Weekend Cards To Benefit Boxing Fans

As Tim pointed out, nobody should be too excited for the Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey undercard. Considering that Manny is as much as an 8-1 favorite in the main event, perhaps it would have been a good idea for Bob Arum to showcase better fights for the large audience anticipated for the event since many expect the showcase fight to be one-sided (though others disagree).

(The Bobfather even wears suits on the toilet. Classy.)

Unfortunately for fight fans, it didn’t have to be this way. In addition to Pacquiao-Clottey, Top Rank is promoting a card on Friday night that will air on FSN. That card also takes place in Texas. Given the surprising depth of the FSN card and the lack of depth of the PPV card, I thought it might be interesting to see if the promoters could have put together a better weekend of boxing.

In short, I think they could have.

The following is my reshuffling of the fights in an attempt to make the PPV card stronger without dismissing the free television audience likely to be made of fight freaks who hunt down as much televised boxing as possible (like myself). I also tried to take into consideration the costs of various fights but I’m forced to purely guess on that end.

I’ll start with Saturday’s PPV, since that was the driver for this exercise. Main events obviously stay the same but, after that:

Humberto Soto vs. David Diaz, vacant WBC lightweight title – The best fight on the current woeful undercard keeps its slot. It should be a decent enough fight and Soto has a solid Mexican following, which undoubtedly interests Arum with the fight being held in Dallas.

Samuel Peter vs. Nagy Aguilar, IBF heavyweight eliminator – Replacing a scrap between a club fighter and a shot fighter is a do-or-die fight for a former heavyweight titlist. Peter was not even in the main event on the FSN show so this fight should be affordable and it is much more meaningful than Gomez-Castillo. Aguilar will be looking for his second upset in a row after knocking out Oleg Maskaev in November. Aguilar is also exceptionally young for a heavyweight (23), so he could be interesting to watch if he succeeds here.

Anthony Peterson vs. Juan Ramon Cruz, lightweights/Jose Benavidez vs Bobby Hill, lightweights – The card starts off with a pair of showcase fights for potential future world champions. Peterson, one half of the fighting Peterson brothers, is more a contender than prospect with 29 fights to his credit and he’s in relatively soft, as Cruz has been in with a number of noteworthy names and hasn’t beaten any of them. However, he’s worth checking out and could be in line for a title shot this year, possibly against Soto if Arum wants to go in that direction. This could be a nice way of setting that up. Benavidez, on the other hand, is a very young super-prospect (he had to get an exception to get his licensed by the California commission) who has many in boxing buzzing. It never hurts to give new fans a taste of the future; as derided as the Floyd Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya undercard was, several of the people I watched it with were impressed by the talent it showcased.

I would move the John Duddy-Michael Medina fight off TV. It’s a better matchup for Duddy than most of his opponents but it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme. That might be impossible financially but Duddy is not a regular TV fighter at this point so his price tag should not be too steep.

Now, I’ve stolen 3 fights from the Friday FSN card; how badly is that card affected? Not very much, in fact, especially if I move a fight or two from Saturday to Friday. Prior to the main event, featuring Tyson Marquez and Richie Mepranum, the card would look something like this:

Alfonso Gomez vs. Jose Luis Castillo, welterweights – A frustratingly meaningless PPV undercard fight becomes an entertaining cable TV co-feature. Plus, I would no longer have to complain about Alfonso Gomez becoming Manny Pacquiao’s Derrick Gainer.

Robert Marroquin vs. Samuel Sanchez, junior featherweights/Omar Henry vs. Francisco Reza, junior middleweights – Two highly regarded local prospects, both buried on the previous cards, can get some valuable TV time if time permits.

This works out to a much more balanced card for Saturday. You wind up with the main event, a title fight, a title eliminator, and showcases for 2 talented, highly regarded fighters. That makes sense for a high profile PPV. And on Friday you wind up with the main event, a good club fight, and showcases for 2 good young prospects. That makes sense for a cable show.

So what do you guys think? Have I had any success in making the Pacquiao-Clottey undercard more fulfilling, at least in fantasy land?

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.