Quick Jabs: Al Haymon’s Takeover Bid; Victor Conte’s Selectivity; More

Kangaroo boxing videos have lost some of their appeal, ever since the kangaroo boxing video where one kangaroo sociopathically strangled another kangaroo well beyond the bounds of good taste. The one above isn’t so creepy. It has become a minor smash, with cause.

In this edition of Quick Jabs, we’ll talk about human-punching, mainly, and the business thereof. There are the subjects in the headline, Shannon Briggs walking the fine line between hilarious and disturbing, the latest antics of Floyd Mayweather and Adrien Broner and more.

Quick Jabs

Props to two journos: 1. Thomas Hauser, for uncovering the start of what now looks like the latest big shake-up in the business dynamic of the sport, namely manager/adviser Al Haymon making a move toward NBC; and 2. Mike Coppinger, for getting confirmation of it from a source on the record who isn’t entirely unbiased but certainly is in the position to know, and typically more upfront than your usual boxing promoter — Main Events’ Kathy Duva. Now, it’s still not a sure thing; the tweets of Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza on the subject have been pretty sad sack, given how he bet the entire Showtime operation on an allegiance with Haymon, but he is saying it’s not a sure thing. Were it to happen, it would be as big a thing as could happen. The man with the biggest boxing stable paying one of the major networks to air boxing? Huge. And it could go several ways. It could be a success: Perhaps Haymon would knock everyone’s socks off with a good product, something he’s shown the ability to do in short bursts (such as 2013), and bring boxing back to the mainstream in ways it hasn’t been there in years. More likely, it would be a bad product, since when Haymon has leverage he uses it to put on bad match-ups that optimize everyone’s paycheck only. Here’s the thing: It’s hard to figure how if he’s paying exorbitant sums that he can turn this into a profitable venture. Certainly, as Corey Erdman recently pointed out during a discussion we had on on Sirius/XM, expanding into revenue sources like the Kameda brothers — with their outrageous Japanese TV audiences — could help provide cash fuel to burn. And Haymon has always showed that he’s thinking pretty far ahead, so he might have plans we don’t yet understand. But it seems possible that this move could backfire in several different ways, if not likely…

A third athlete affiliated with all-time great PED cheat turned would-be anti-PED reformer Victor Conte has tested positive for a performance enhancing drug, mixed martial artist Cung Le. At first, Conte’s reaction to the positive test for human growth hormone was to distance himself from Le, even though he’d been hyping him, defending him and advertising how Le had been using his supplements. Then, he took the line of attack that the UFC’s testing procedure was faulty. He subsequently got back-up from Don Catlin, a far less tarnished figure but a figure also trying to develop his own (competing?) HGH test and who had a shady incident related to Lance Armstrong. As was possible the other two athletes Conte has had an affiliation who have tested positive, Conte’s claims here might turn out to be believable in some way. But ask yourself the following two things: 1. If any other ex-PED icon turned “legit” had had this many run-ins with failed tests for athletes who worked with him in any capacity, would we still give him the benefit of the doubt? 2. Isn’t it at least a little suspect that all the arguments Conte uses to attack his rivals — that Juan Manuel Marquez LOOKS like he does PEDs, that their athletes have failed tests — are the ones he’s now fighting so hard (Don’t use the “eyeball test” for Le, but do on JMM! The tests showed I was right, even though they’ve challenged the results!) when it’s one of his guys?…

Your near-weekly round-up of Floyd Mayweather drama: A. Mayweather had an argument with a lady about why she didn’t know or care about how great he was. Hey, at least he made it into the U.K. this time, what with the woman-beating, which enabled the woman-arguing! B. Mayweather is training with Michael Jackson’s kid, Prince, in boxing. If Prince can use his mask, would he have an edge? C. Mayweather  threatened to evict his dad from his corner because his dad said the fight with Manny Pacquiao might happen. Just goes to show how serious Mayweather is about making that fight. D. Mayweather thinks Oscar De La Hoya is disloyal for moving Canelo Alvarez over to HBO from Showtime, which is a fair claim to make for a guy who is at Showtime after leaving HBO, and who recently threw Showtime under the bus by saying their All Access show was fake (more on reaction from Showtime employees here)…

As for Pacquiao, he’s been up to some things, little of it good news. He got drafted by a basketball team in the Philippines, then scored a point, but should probably hang up the pro sneakers. As Kevin Durant’s recent foot injury shows, professional basketball can be a risky sport, and Pac’s not getting paid 10s of millions to shoot hoops. Also, his 24/7 show for his upcoming bout with Chris Algieri lost some episodes, for reasons that HBO says are about Pacquiao overkill on 24/7, but that probably point to the lack of fan interest. And the New Yorker’s always-excellent Kelefa Sanneh had this short item on a recent press conference for Pacquiao-Algieri, with this well-constructed paragraph (yes, who doesn’t hate a thug, Bob?):

 Arum, who was previously an Assistant U.S. Attorney, is known as a shrewd operator. (He once stated, in a sworn affidavit, that he had paid a hundred-thousand-dollar bribe to arrange an advantageous championship match for George Foreman.) “I’m sick and tired of fighters where you do a press conference and all they do is brawl with each other, and once the bell rings there’s no fight left in them,” he said. “Boxing gets a bad rap as being populated by thugs.”..

Shannon Briggs’ latest bid to goad heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko into a bout by stalking him in the ocean has joined the “shoe throwing” video and the “food fight injury” video in what is becoming an impressive, desperate collection of staged-seeming events designed to look unstated and that mainly smack of lunacy. Yet they’re also, in their way, amusing. Try to look away from this car crash

Junior welterweight Adrien Broner really wants you to know he doesn’t want to tip a server. Remember compassionate Broner? Or nah…

Abner Mares, after a failed experiment for the featherweight with trainer Virgil Hunter, has parted ways with him. It wasn’t a pairing that looked like it was going to work out, most likely, so it’s probably a smart split. Meanwhile, junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux’s little co-promoter needs to get over its feud with his manager, Gary Hyde, because Hyde has advocated for Rigo harder than any human, from the outside looking in…

ESPN is on a streak of airing fights outside its Friday Night Fights season with actual ramifications in the division in which they appear, be it on ESPN or ESPN2 or ESPN3. First it was Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam-Curtis Stevens, at middleweight; followed by Jermain Taylor-Sam Soliman, same division; and most recently, Cornelius Bundrage-Carlos Molina. You could anticipate how the last two might not be all that appetizing. It’d be nice to know how they did in the ratings, with fights that have unappealing elements yet remain meaningful. The head of ESPN’s basketball operation gave a revealing interview here where he explained his mentality…

Brit Anthony Joshua has the look of the future of the heavyweight division. There have been other people over the years who could’ve, conceivably, beat Klitschko, but it always seemed like a longshot; David Haye was always chinny, and the current favorite, Deontay Wilder, is untested and raw. Joshua seems to have the whole package — athletic, gigantic, well-schooled, committed to training. And he has charisma, so if and when he finally takes on Wlad, and should he beat him, we could be talking about a worldwide superstar. This past weekend he did this to Denis Bakhtov, something no one has ever done to him, and Joshua’s in just his ninth fight.


Lastly, thanks to everyone who has been giving support to the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, which just completed its second year of existence!


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. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.