"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
~Mike Tyson

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Little Summer Cynicism

Summer Blues

While boxing is a year round sport one could be forgiven for thinking of summer as the sport's "off season". Generally speaking very few fights are scheduled in June, July, or August, especially fights of special significance. While it's certainly true that 2017 is one of the best years boxing has had in decades that doesn't mean it's having a perfect year nor does it mean that this summer's offerings have fans salivating and twiddling their fingers in anticipation. While there are a few fights of interest and note sprinkled throughout this summer's boxing schedule, the majority of this summer's offerings will leave boxing fans feeling blasé and with some free time on both their Friday and Saturday nights.

Pacquiao vs Horn

Photo: wikimedia.org
I was going to spend a great deal of time this morning drafting a Manny Pacquiao vs Jeff Horn fight analysis and preview piece but after staring apathetically at my monitor for the better part of 30 minutes and trying to find the allure in this fight I decided to go another route. As a boxing fan and someone whom also covers the sport there's a melancholy that accompanies the third quarter of every year. I suppose it doesn't help that I absolutely loathe summer but when boxing hits it's mid year slump I find myself feeling a bit morose and counting the days until Autumn. As the long hot days of summer begin to fade in late September boxing typically emerges from its network induced semi-coma with not only plenty to look forward to but boxing writers find themselves with no shortage of hot topics and big fights to cover as well. Whether you're a boxing fan, cover the sport in any capacity, or both you know that there's no shortage of controversy in the sport and there's always something to write or argue/debate about. In the interest of intellectual honesty however I'm going to state here that I just don't give a shit. While the summer and its lack of meaningful bouts don't do anything to diminish my love or passion for the sport, I won't waste time trying to concoct or fabricate interest in fights that don't do much for fans let alone the sport. I don't get paid to cover the sport so I'm under no obligation to polish any turds.

Jeff Horn's
recent resume.
Being a big proponent of candor I'll say this about Pacquiao vs Horn. I couldn't care less about this fight. I have zero interest in 401(k) fights and even less interest in retirement tours. Go out on your shield or just go the fuck home. I'm as big a Pacquiao fan as they come but his career post Marquez IV has been less than exciting and I believe that's a kind assessment. Why anyone is excited by this fight or there's any interest in it at all is beyond me. Jeff Horn is a nobody who's done nothing of note in the sport but yeah, let's get excited because Manny Pacquiao is fighting. The degradation of his skills began before his knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez back in 2012 but it was in that fight that Pacquiao lost his killer instinct...or perhaps it was taken from him. Since then Pacquiao fights have been devoid of drama and lacked gravitas, though to be fair he has remained effective against carefully selected opposition. That said, I won't spend my time writing puff pieces that attempt to honeyfuggle fans into thinking this is a fight of importance or that Horn might have a realistic chance of winning. Unless Pacquiao signs on to fight Crawford, Spence, Thurman, or any other top guy at or around welterweight I'll find something else to do on the nights he fights.

The Shit Show

While watching a dreadfully boring fight with my Grandfather back in the late 80's (the exact fight escapes me) I spent several rounds making snide comments about the fight and the lack of urgency in both combatants. I remember vividly how he turned to me and remarked "When it comes to boxing son, things can always be worse." Boxing often reminds me just how poignant and truthful his words were/are even 30 years later.

Fans and media honor fighter of the year, fight of the year, round of the year, knockout of the year, etc. yet boxing has no annual dishonorable mentions...no equivalent of the Golden Raspberry Awards, though it most certainly should. If the sport did recognize it's faux pas, it's disappointments, it's ripoffs, and its worst human beings, Mayweather vs Conor McGregor might win awards in all of the aforementioned categories.

If this article gives the impression that i'm contumelious towards what Michael Montero of Montero On Boxing calls the "#shitshow", it's because I am. Not only do I have no interest in this fight but its existence elicits both anger and sorrow in me. Think what you will about his cherry picking, his behavior outside the ring, his misogyny, and his boring style but Floyd Mayweather Jr. is one of the best defensive boxers of the last 30 years. Love him or hate him, if you're an honest fan, you will acknowledge that he is a superb boxer. So what's my problem with this fight? His opponent on the night of August 26th isn't a boxer but rather UFC mixed martial artist Conor McGregor. McGregor may be a great UFC fighter but his boxing skills are questionable at best and he's not fought once as a boxer, under boxing's rules, nor against anyone who can box even 10% as well as does Mayweather. A few minutes spent watching Mr. McGregor "box" on YouTube will demonstrate quite clearly that he'd have his ass handed to him by the vast majority of boxing's journeymen. The spin in the media would have this fight's target demographic believing that McGregor is a live dog in this fight. He's not a live dog, in fact he has no chance. Mayweather is going comfortably box his way to a unanimous decision and every fool who was arrogant, ignorant, incredulous, and stupid enough to pay for this fight will proclaim "boxing sucks", "boxing's dead", etc, etc, etc. I would urge consumers to be wary before buying any Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight, even those against other boxers but in this case it's especially important to remember that you do indeed get what you pay for. If you're an astute observe of boxing, MMA, or both you know that McGregor has no shot against Floyd. If the fight were to be contested under the UFC's rules I would be telling you that Mayweather has no chance but again, for the hard of hearing and willfully ignorant tools out there, Mayweather vs McGregor is a boxing match and the man who's dedicated his entire life to boxing is going to win.

This fight will be a media spectacle and expensive side show but it won't be much of a fight. People who doubt the validity of my chiding should read up on insane stupidity that was 1976's Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki. Being 3 years old at the time this farce took place I missed it, being too busy with Sam the Clam and whatnot, though I have watched it in it's entirety on YouTube since. Expect something very similar, including the post fight fallout, from the shit show on August 26th. I could go on and on about how horrible this "fight" is but I think Kenny Keith and Vince Cummings over at The Boxing Rant said it better than I ever could in an episode of the "Flash Knockdown" dedicated to this buffoonery.

Mayweather vs. McGregor OFFICIAL - Flash Knockdown #06

It's Not All Bad Right?

Despite my ramblings there are some things to look forward to this summer if you're a boxing fan. Promising prospect Robert Easter Jr. defends his IBF lightweight crown against Russia's Denis Shafikov on June 30th which can be seen on Bounce TV. Cruiserweights Denis Lebedev and Mark Flanagan square off on July 10th if that's your thing and HBO has a very solid card airing on July 15th. On that card Joe Smith takes on Sullivan Barrera in what should be a fun fight. At the end of July, the 29th to be exact, Adrien Broner vs. Mikey Garcia is going down and that should be a lot of fun...while it lasts.

I spent some time earlier talking about August 26th and the shit show happening on that day but there's an actual boxing match happening in Los Angeles that night too. That fight being Miguel Cotto vs. Yoshihiro Kamegai for the vacant WBO 154 lbs title. Kamegai always brings it and with Cotto having one foot out the door things could get very interesting. Post Labor Day, boxing gets very exciting and gets exciting fast! On September 9th Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Roman Gonzalez will square off in their rematch in what should be a damn good fight. Also on that bill are Naoya Inoue vs. Antonio Nieves and Carlos Cuadras vs. Juan Francisco Estrada. The card has been dubbed "Superfly" and can be seen on HBO. Don't miss this card as it has the potential to be the best night of boxing in 2017. The following week on September 16th the last big fight of the summer takes place., The mega fight featuring Saul "Canelo Alvarez" and middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin is a battle for 160 lbs supremacy. The winner of that fight will be considered the pound for pound #1 fighter by some including yours truly.

Summer being what it is for boxing aficionados, I guess it's a good thing that I'm also a professional armature musician and rabid video game enthusiast. Now go enjoy a good BBQ with some friends and try and stay cool!

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split Decision Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com.


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