(Lucas Matthysse, left, Danny Garcia, right; via)
In an ideal world, it wouldn't be so flabbergasting. But this isn't an ideal world. And the Showtime pay-per-view boxing card Sept. 14 that gives fans two of the best fights in the sport on one night is downright astonishing.
On Thursday, Golden Boy Promotions announced that Lucas Matthysse-Danny Garcia for all the marbles at junior welterweight would appear on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez. Few believed either fight would ever happen. That Mayweather-Alvarez, the most marketable fight in boxing right now, is being accompanied by an undercard bout of any consequence whatsoever, let alone one of the OTHER fights demanded most by boxing fans, is unheard of since who knows when.
It defies explanation to such a degree that the only one offered — GBP's Richard Schaefer said it was just about making the card bigger and giving the fans a gift — might actually be the most plausible. The cynical boxing fan in me can't come up with any alternatives. Matthysse-Garcia would be a big fight as a headliner. There is every short-sighted economic motive to separate it from Mayweather-Alvarez. Short-term, PPV undercards usually don't offer a big return on investment for promoters; it is only when it comes to long-term customer satisfaction that they make a difference, or to bolster a weak main event. I guess you could propose that putting Matthysse-Garcia on the undercard has something to do with mitigating fan complaints about the higher-than-usual PPV price of up to $75 for HD, but even then it's still about giving the fans what they want. No hardcore fan will complain about having to fork over $75 for two fights so extraordinary. Maybe it's to set the winner up for Mayweather's next fight, and given the high price of Showtime doing business with Mayweather, they have little alternative but to pump up his next potential opponent due to the drop-off in marketable contenders after Alvarez. But if a dicey business decision by Showtime backed them into this kind of corner, we should count ourselves the lucky beneficiaries of its desperation.
I'm scrounging here. Maybe it's all a gigantic ruse, and they'll pull the rug out from under us Saturday night after we have already forked over our money? Maybe something horrible will happen and the card will be canceled, because that's the kind of thing abused boxing fans tend to expect?
Assuming all goes as planned, here's what we get: Two bouts where each man is facing the best possible opponent; that will as such crown new, true lineal champions via the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (Mayweather-Alvarez at 154); Mayweather, the biggest star in the sport and its best pound-for-pound fighter, against Alvarez, the biggest young star in the sport; Mayweather taking on a naturally larger foe who poses a more serious threat than he has faced on paper in years, and trying to tie Manny Pacquiao's record of four true championships in four different weight classes; Garcia, whose heart was questioned when Matthysse-Garcia stalled, manning up and taking on a fearsome, dangerous puncher; a big stage for Matthysse, one of the most thrilling men in boxing today; and the probability of quality action and excellent boxing in each bout to scratch every kind of fan's itch.
Perhaps we shouldn't go overboard because this is the kind of thing the sport should give its fans as a matter of course. But I, for one, feel like having a Daffy Duck-style spazz out. If the Sept. 14 PPV challenges the all-time record for PPV sales, as some are predicting, it will have earned it.