(Saul Alvarez, left, faces off against Josesito Lopez; photo credit: Carlos Baeza, Thompson Boxing Promotions)
Sometimes it feels like Golden Boy and Top Rank are fighting each other more than they are putting on fights, the latter befitting of boxing’s two top promoters. Tuesday was the latest occasion that this destructive feud was on display, as Golden Boy held a news conference for its Sept. 15, Canelo Alvarez-led Showtime card, which is dueling with Top Rank’s Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.-led HBO pay-per-view card on that same night in the same city, Las Vegas.
Every year or so, I take a look at the consensus most desirable fights that aren’t happening. This year, there was no consensus, when I asked our Facebook friends to list them. A lot of fights people might want, like Lamont Peterson-Amir Khan II or Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto II, fell apart for one reason or another, and a lot of the fights people have wanted in the recent past have either happened or gotten moldy as time has passed and therefore become less universally desired. But there are a few fights that are highly desirable that aren’t happening in large measure because of the Golden Boy-Top Rank feud, and that’s the focus of this (partial) list.
The point of this exercise is to show just what fans are being robbed of by two promoters who are more interested in pissing on one another than giving the fans what they want, with the fans just caught in the splashback.
Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao
Why it’s desirable: Mayweather-Pacquiao has become less intriguing over time due to the consensus that Pacquiao is in steeper decline than Mayweather; the number of people picking Pacquiao to beat Mayweather has dwindled with every passing fight. But it’s still boxing’s two top stars, and its two best fighters and its two top welterweights in a bout that would to this day drive an astounding number of PPV buys, probably a record-breaking amount. Boxing’s history has shown that any fight that can rake in megabucks tends to happen, but we’re now in year three of this fight not happening after initial negotiations, and you’ve have to be some kind of optimist to believe this one’s likely to ever occur.
How much the GBP/TR feud is to blame: It’s but one of many factors — over the years, drug testing; Mayweather’s affiliation with Al Haymon and Top Rank’s Bob Arum hating Haymon and Mayweather; defamation lawsuits; purse demands; Mayweather family jail sentences; and others have played a role — but it is one. Pacquiao is represented by Top Rank, and Mayweather has Golden Boy as his unofficial promoter. Neither company has made a deal with each other over fights involving either of its two cash cows, with Miguel Cotto having to leave Top Rank before a Mayweather deal and Juan Manuel Marquez and Shane Mosley having to leave Golden Boy before a Pacquiao deal. If Pacquiao left Top Rank, the chances of the fight happening would go up, but there would still be no guarantee.
Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. vs. Canelo Alvarez
Why it’s desirable: Chavez and Alvarez have the makings of boxing’s two next superstars, if they aren’t there already. Both are wildly popular in Mexico and among Mexican-Americans, and both do great television ratings on HBO, at least by today’s standard. They also have fan-friendly fighting styles. It would inevitably be a very good fight and a massive event. But it threatens, as Eric Raskin wrote here, to become the next Mayweather-Pacquiao. Instead of competing in the ring, they’ll be competing for attention on separate cards on Sept. 15.
How much the GBP/TR feud is to blame: During an ever-so-brief thaw in Golden Boy/Top Rank relations, this fight was actually discussed a little by the two sides. It fell apart, ostensibly, because of a dispute over weight — Alvarez is a junior middleweight, Chavez a middleweight, and neither side wanted to agree to the other’s proposed catchweight. If that was just an excuse then, it probably won’t be going forward; Chavez is a big, big middleweight, such that he’s talked about moving up to 168, and Alvarez is no more than an average-sized junior middleweight. As their promoters get farther apart, so do their respective sizes. Fortunately, each have good fights without the other — James Kirkland comes to mind for Alvarez, and Chavez-Martinez is a better fight than Chavez-Alvarez.
Nonito Donaire vs. Abner Mares
Why it’s desirable: Last year, Donaire and Mares could’ve fought to crown a new bantamweight champion. Unfortunately, both moved up to junior featherweight. Neither looked quite as powerful at 122 pounds as they did at 118, but both still appear to be among the best few men in the division. And both are pound-for-pound level fighters who would offer a fashionable-of-late match-up between Filipino and Mexican, as well as an appealing style match-up between pure specimen and hard-nosed boxer-puncher.
How much the GBP/TR feud is to blame: Almost entirely, by my reckoning. Before, you could blame Mares’ deal with Showtime, but no longer. And maybe you can blame Donaire, who makes a lot of racket about taking on top challenges but has only twice done so in his whol career. But other than that, Arum just doesn’t sound interested in putting Donaire in against a Golden Boy fighter, and Golden Boy probably isn’t happy toward Donaire about him signing a deal with the company only to return to Top Rank. As with Chavez-Alvarez, the good news is that are other appealing opponents out there for both men, namely Toshiaki Nishioka and Anselmo Moreno.
Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse vs. Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado
Why they’re desirable: They’re sexy! Just kidding. The junior welterweight division has any number of talented, exciting fighters, the four above probably the ones you could best mix and match for kooky fun. It’d be great if the two Golden Boy boxers fought each other and the two Top Rank boxers fought each other, but Garcia-Matthysse and Rios-Alvarado don’t seem to be in the immediate plans. With neither company looking to have its guys beat up on each other, the lack of an option for, say, Matthysse-Rios limits the fun potential of the division.
How much the GBP/TR feud is to blame: Some of these match-ups haven’t been discussed as much as the others, but there’s no reason for them not to be happening other than the Golden Boy/Top Rank squabble. And there are myriad other possible match-ups that just won’t happen because of that dispute, in almost all pf the divisions.