Quick Jabs: Re-Revisiting Last Weekend, Some Of This One; Floyd Mayweather Again Fighting Women; More



Ricky Burns is on a tear. The Scot is reeling off big win after big win, like the one he scored against lightweight Kevin Mitchell Saturday, and it doesn’t seem like it’s been only around two years since he upset Roman Martinez in a fight where he was thought of as little more than an “opponent.” It was the highlight of a weekend that also featured a ShoBox and TeleFutura card, covered for us respectively by Patrick Connor and Mark Ortega. The weekend’s other big winners, from fights previewed here, all results via BoxingScene: cruiserweight Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, junior middleweights Gabriel Rosado and Antwone Smith and junior featherweight Carl Frampton.

A good deal of this post, however, deals with LAST weekend, because we’ve had a lot of developments — crazy television ratings figures, dudes smoking reefer, that kind of thing. We also have some more info about headline man Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, and the latest empty saber-rattling from the two of them (or at least one of them). And we have other things, too, like the latest on Amir Khan, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and more.

Quick Jabs

The past weekend’s television ratings report: Saul Canelo Alvarez drew 1.04 million viewers to Showtime for his junior middleweight fight against Josesito Lopez, the biggest figure Showtime has ever drawn since it began tracking such figures, according to a news release. Over on HBO pay-per-view, Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. did 475,000 buys for their middleweight clash. Apparently they were expecting 250,000, but I was more of the mind that it would be around half a mil. And down in Mexico, about 71 percent of the television audience was watching one or the other that night, with Alvarez getting the edge.

Getting Canelo to fight on their network is a huge coup for Showtime, but it also makes you wonder why Golden Boy is intent on moving its people to a smaller audience — Canelo does more like 1.5 million each time he appears on HBO. Is Showtime being more permissive with its match-ups, meaning easier but smaller money for less risk, owing to Golden Boy’s connections to the network’s new boss, Stephen Espinosa? Does Golden Boy see Showtime as the rising tide, since HBO subscription rates have remained steady while Showtime’s have been climbing? Let’s also not underestimate the dueling cards’ impact on the other — unlike with the very different audiences for the dueling Sept. 8 cards, there is tremendous overlap between the Mexican fan bases of Alvarez and Lopez. Much larger audiences for each card (perhaps at a slightly lower rate for the PPV card, since the number of people willing to watch something for free vs. pay for it is surely a meaningful difference) would have been a virtual certainty had they not gone against each other. The Alvarez ratings victory south of the border might have more to do with the various television deals down there than anything else, but the 71 percent total viewership is eye-popping.

And a note, again, on the dueling cards. Eddie Gonzalez made a good point here that Showtime might not have put on as good a top-to-bottom card had it not been fighting for eyes against HBO. But other than that, I’m very unconvinced that this was a good thing overall. Besides the aforementioned eyeball thing, there simply is no replacement for being able to watch a fight live. Trust me, I enjoyed the hell out of Martinez-Chavez watching it on my DVR, but since I already knew what was going to happen, I wasn’t screaming with excitement when the 12th round knockdown rolled around, the way I’ve read so many were. Which is more likely to create long-lasting fans: People watching Martinez-Chavez live, or people watching replays? Yes, the NFL broadcasts games at the same time without much negative impact, but the boxing fan base is so much smaller, each boxer fights fewer times per year than an NFL team plays and boxing makes so much less money overall than the NFL that anything that decreases viewership or athlete pay (from, say, PPV upside) hurts boxing more than football. As for DVRs: Less than half of all people with a TV own them. We shouldn’t assume that because we have them, or most people we know have them, that everyone does. Being a boxing fan is expensive, and there are probably a lot of people in this economy who struggle even to justify paying for HBO or Showtime…

And Chavez was on drugs after all. Marijuana, of all things. Something about his tea and insomnia. Yeah, yeah. Look at that guy sleeping all day, struggling with weight and eating cereal at night and tell me he’s not toking. Chavez apologied, which is great, but I don’t see anything changing with this kid. Also his promoter Bob Aum made some wonderfully comical remarks about legalizing marijuana in all of this. It wasn’t a lie, per se, but the tenor of the response was a classic case of why Top Rank’s lies are so frequently overlooked by fans and writers while Golden Boy’s aren’t: When Top Rank lies, the audaciousness is almost admirable, while Golden Boy sucks at lying and is docked for ineptitude…

Pacquiao has now said he’ll take the short end of the split, 55-45, for a welterweight fight with Mayweather, as well as again saying he’ll take any and all drug tests Mayweather wants. That is beyond fair, based on what each man brings to the table. Naturally, the Mayweather team reaction was, “Not good enough.” If there’s anyone left who thinks anything less than 95 percent of the blame for Mayweather-Pacquiao not happening in the future belongs with Mayweather, they’ve probably been smoking pot with Chavez…

Mayweather probably has more to worry about anyway. The cops got called again due to him bickering with a female, although somehow Mayweather avoided — for the first time in his life — punching a woman he was in a dispute with, and no charges have yet been filed. If it turns out this incident means he’s violating his probation, though, watch out. He also owes Pacquiao some legal fees…

Pacquiao also has other things to worry about, like “just talking” to Mayweather pal 50 Cent or how he’s going to beat Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth meeting. I’m sorry, I’m just not buying Pacquiao’s “I’m super-serious, I want to knock him out this time and prove I still care about boxing” spiel, no matter how hard he scribbles on a piece of paper. Both men are saying they want a knockout, Marquez because he doesn’t trust Las Vegas judges after three dicey decisions not going his way with Pac in that town. Marquez will have to risk more than Pacquiao to go for the knockout given the power deficit, but Marquez also stands to gain more if he can finally outwork Pac and win over the judges…

Speaking of 50, he better hope he can salvage his TMT operation. Otherwise he’s thrown at least $1.2 million down the drain, the amount Chris Mannix reported that Fitty paid to Top Rank to snag featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa away…

OK, so Miguel Cotto has said he picked Austin Trout because he wanted to get Trout’s alphabet junior middleweight belt. It was a factor, after all. I never doubted the possibility, only the rush to judge Cotto’s motives without having heard from Cotto. This doesn’t change my overall impression of sanctioning organization belts, by the way: Sometimes they help fighters in the short-run, sometimes they hurt them, and they hurt the entire sport (and therefore all of its fighters) in the long-run…

Trainer news: Virgil Hunter will now train junior welterweight Amir Khan. It’s a good fit. If Hunter can give a smidge of his prized pupil super middleweight champ Andre Ward’s discipline and defense to Khan, Khan will be a 50 percent better fighter. Also, trainer/HBO commentator Emanuel Steward either has cancer or a colon condition. It feels weird to wish a colon condition upon someone, but I’d rather he have that than cancer, and either way, Mr. Steward, consider this a “get well soon” e-card…

On another ticket sales front, Ricky Hatton’s comeback has reportedly already led to 18,000 ticket sales in the U.K., despite not having an opponent. That is one popular man. The latest opponent name being floated is Michael Katsidis, a deserving enough opponent and an ideal foil from an action and vulnerability standpoint, but I hope this means Hatton is coming back at junior welterweight, because I don’t need to see Katsidis at 147 pounds…

On yet another ticket sales front, Lucas Matthysse’s welterweight fight with Olusegun Ajose sold a total of 377 tickets. I love Matthysse and enjoyed that fight, but, reminder: Action fighters and action fights don’t always equal asses in seats or eyeballs on the tele…

AEG is being sold. What does that mean for the company’s deal with Golden Boy Promotions? No one knows and it’s kind of been bumped to the back of the line for reporters’ questions, because AEG owns things like the Los Angeles Kings and was in the middle of trying to bring football back to L.A…

Apparently this Roy Jones, Jr.-Kimbo Slice idea is real. Why does Jones keep wanting to fight mixed martial arts guys so bad? Why do I keep mentioning his scrap heap boxing career at all?

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C., where he is a staff writer for CQ Roll Call.

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