Quick Jabs: Klitschko Ratings; PBC Lawsuit; #MayPac Writing; More

There is more to boxing these days than Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Paccquiao, although you might not believe it if this is the site you have mainly visited this week. But there are things happening, oh yes, besides the big ol’ fight Saturday.

One of them involves the man in the photo above. TQBR is not in the habit of writing obits for boxers or boxing figures. It could be a full-time job, because it’s a sport with a long history and so many figures of import. This writer has only made a habit of writing about boxing figures’ deaths if they had some particular personal meaning.

Gene Fullmer was a certified badass. He passed away this week. He had no business living as long as he did, frankly, because, like his peer, friend and multi-opponent Carmen Basilio, he fought in a lot of wars and still somehow managed to persist to a ripe old age. Boxing is weird that way. Some fighters can absorb massive punishment and still dole out wisdom and witticisms in their 80s; others are in tragic shape in their 30s.

Fullmer was a joy to watch, one of the finest fighters in a middleweight era that was absolutely glorious. Dude beat Sugar Ray Robinson. Dude got hit with one of the best punches ever thrown, said upon waking up and noticing Robinson celebrating, “How come Robinson is doing exercises between rounds?” and still fought at a high level after that. He was a helluva colorful quote and as lovable as an old fighter gets. One of the things that makes boxing special is watching human beings endure through hardship most of us will only ever barely comprehend. Fullmer was an extraordinary example of that.

RIP, Gene. Thanks for all you gave us.

Now, back the current boxing scene.

Quick Jabs

Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko this past weekend delivered the best ratings at HBO since 2012 — an average of 1.6 million viewers, per Nielsen via HBO. It shouldn’t be surprising by now. Many of us despise Klitschko’s fighting style. But he is the “baddest man on the planet,” and that still means something. What’s more, he’s a solid human being, one who visited the United States for the first time in years, and there is a certain perverse pleasure in watching him execute his intelligent, spoiling style. That Bryant Jennings gave him a decent battle, comparative to most Klitschko opponents, added to it. Some will point to him not selling out Madison Square Garden as a sign of boxing’s fade (eye roll) while ignoring these television ratings. Whether we like it or not, Klitschko is a big deal in America, compared to almost everyone else here…

Klitschko said Tyson Fury is next. Good. As we recently discussed, the heavyweight division could be in for a revival soon. There are a number of talented or popular young heavyweights with the potential to take over once Klitschko leaves, and Fury has some measure of both qualities. With an aging Klitschko struggling a little against both Jennings and Kubrat Pulev, the much-larger-than-most and ever-improving Fury has the chance to forcibly evict Klitschko from his throne, or, at least, a better chance on paper than both Jennings and Pulev to give him an exciting challenge. More now than any time in years, the heavyweight division just might be ready to explode…

Last thought on that HBO card: Alan Rubenstein must’ve been on that flakka, scoring the Sadam Ali-Francisco Santana welterweight bout as a shutout for Ali. I scored it wider than most in the press, and it wasn’t even close to a shutout. Stay away from that flakka, Alan. You might be climbing police fences or something soon…

Golden Boy Promotions is preparing a lawsuit against Al Haymon over his apparent bid toward a boxing monopoly and with his “effectively promote the fights but hire someone else to serve as a figurehead” act. It’s not as if there isn’t some general valid debate over their claim. But GBP comes off looking bad from this seat, since they not so long ago settled a lawsuit where Haymon ended up taking a bunch of their fighters, with GBP’s permission. It’s also weird considering not  so long ago, GBP boss Oscar De La Hoya was making overtures toward his own monopoly, back when his company was buddies with Haymon. Either way, this is, of course, an interesting thing that is happening with one of the most revolutionary business moves being made in boxing in a long time…

Let’s go ahead and forgive light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev for the racist t-shirt tweet, since he apologized. Let’s also put him on final warning. If ignorance explains this latest incident, so be it, however far-fetched it might seem. But the next time it happens, there’s just not going to be any excuse. He should be on high alert talking about his comments regarding any black fighter or black person from now on. He’s taken heat multiple times for it and he should tread lightly…

Super middleweight champion Andre Ward is finally set to return, on BET, against Paul Smith. Ward was legitimately in line to take over for Mayweather and Pacquiao as the next big thing in American boxing, even if some fans and writers despised him. He has squandered so much with his inactivity and the ill will he has generated by not fighting and being a general diva. Smith is far from the ideal opponent for his return, although BET is at least an intriguing outlet. It’s going to take a big uphill climb for him to get back to the level of esteem or marketability he had achieved by winning the Super Six tournament and then smashing light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson. And it’s going to take a huge attitude adjustment…

Ah, Paulie Malignaggi, we hardly knew ye. First you railed against Haymon’s excess power, then you joined the team. Then you railed against the pervasive influence of  performance enhancing drugs in boxing, and now you’ve joined up with a former dealer. And we don’t even need your return to the ring, really…

Because we can’t very well ignore Mayweather vs Pacquiao, here are some writings of note from elsewhere this week, besides the great stuff the TQBR staff has been churning out:

  • I wrote for Awful Announcing about the biggest fights of each decade leading to Mayweather vs Pacquiao. I also wrote for the New Republic about how this fight is a good thing, but simultaneously an indictment of boxing.
  • Bleacher Report traced Mayweather’s evolution from a youth to an adult, such as it is.
  • Lee Wylie provided his usual meticulous technical breakdown of the bout for Fight City.
  • Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, spelled out the strategy for the fight with Sports Illustrated. Whether he means it, or whether it’s a bit of subterfuge, I cannot say.
  • The Guardian delved into the bar scene, and the economics of it, for the Mayweather vs Pacquiao pay-per-view.
  • Grantland evaluated the boxer vs. batterer thing with Mayweather well, although if anything this storyline has gone beyond the saturation point.
  • The New York Times brought us the second in its sequence of “guys who beat Mayweather a long time ago,” and it’s more commendable than their other shitty coverage.

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.