By Ivan G. Goldman
It’s hard to miss the fact that HBO’s Max Kellerman and swarms of like-minded sadists are beating the drums for welterweight king Floyd Mayweather to take on middleweight destroyer Gennady Golovkin.
A similar matchmaking process was used during the days of the old Roman Empire. A light bulb would go off in the head of a show biz impresario and he’d declare something like, “I know. Let’s match a bear against a lion. I think the fans would go for something like that. Watch. We’ll fill up the Coliseum.” Yes indeed.
Here’s the problem with this kind of thinking. It creates a spectacle, but it won’t get you a fair fight.
Max is a decent, astute man. Maybe his humanitarian impulses prompt him to intercede when he sees the possibility of undefeated Floyd fighting fading Andre Berto on Showtime pay-per-view, which might or might not happen. Right now it’s just one of the many rumors that always swirl prior to a Mayweather fight date.
Does Max worry about the bottom line of rival Showtime because maybe not so many fans would purchase the Mayweather-Berto mismatch? Showtime, through a twisted corporate dazzle of shareholding relationships, is controlled and mostly owned by an entity called National Amusements, which is controlled and mostly owned by 92-year-old multi-billionaire Summer Redstone.
Oh my gosh, broods Max, what if Mr. Redstone loses money on Mayweather’s last fight under the auspices of their 6-bout contract? Will he have to miss a payment on one of his mansions?
Rest easy, Max. Redstone won’t be out on the street.
Of course there’s also the possibility that Floyd versus Gennady could end up on Max’s HBO, perhaps through another shared Showtime-HBO presentation and perhaps even presented by HBO alone should the contest transpire after the end of Floyd’s Showtime contract.
Yes, Triple-G, who campaigns on HBO, has volunteered to get down to 154 to get at Floyd, and yes, Floyd more or less still owns a 154-pound belt he rarely defends. I was there when he defended it back in 2007 against Oscar De La Hoya during Oscar’s downhill slide.
Speaking of Oscar, the Golden Boy’s last bout was in 2008 against Manny Pacquiao with a stipulated weight of 147. Pacquiao had never fought at welterweight before, so you’d think he was at a disadvantage. Lots of folks did.
But Oscar, a full-blown junior middleweight, hadn’t fought as a welter since 2001. When one fighter is killing himself to make the weight, that’s not a fair fight either. Oscar was so starved and dehydrated he fought like Frankenstein on downers. It was mercifully stopped after eight rounds.
“We knew we had him after the first round,” said Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach. “He had no legs, he was hesitant and he was shot.”
That particular bout was the brainchild of HBO’s Larry Merchant, and sure enough, it sold well. I imagine some people would also buy tickets to see lions eat Christians, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to present it to them.
Honest, I like Larry and Max. They’re intelligent men who know plenty about this sport, but as matchmakers they sometimes show they have a few digits missing from their computational process.
Golovkin, 33-0, 30 KOs, has been competing as a middleweight since he turned pro in 2006. I’m not interested in seeing him fight anybody if he has to shave off 6 pounds of muscle and then re-inflate himself during the 31 or so hours before fight-time. And I’m not interested in watching Mayweather, 48-0, 26 KOs, compete against a much bigger guy. That’s a freak show, not a prizefight.
Part of this mediocre groundswell for Mayweather-Golovkin is the result of the love-hate fondness many fans have for Floyd. They pay to see him fight because they don’t much like him and want to watch him get his comeuppance. Now that he’s 38 they figure they have a better shot at consummating their desire.
Longtime matchmaker Rick Glaser points out that “no manager/advisor in professional boxing would suggest that Floyd, in the twilight of his career, fight GGG, just based on weight alone.”
Prizefighting is a tough sport, all the more reason to keep it civilized and fair.
Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available now from Permanent Press wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.