The Five Fights I Want to See in 2017
The Five Fights I Want to See in 2017
By: Eric Lunger
As New Year’s Day approaches, boxing fans can look back on the year that has been, and cast a longing eye towards the year to come. Here, in descending order are the top five fights I’d like to see in 2017, some already scheduled and some in the boxing fan’s dream world.
5. Garcia vs. Thurman
This bout is scheduled for March 4th in New York for the WBA and WBC welterweight belts, and I can’t wait. Danny Garcia (33-0, 19 KO’s) is a tough, talented, professional, Philadelphia fighter who has a number of big welterweight wins on his resume (Amir Khan, Lucas Matthysse, Lamont Peterson, Paul Malignaggi). Keith Thurman (27-0, 13 KO’s) is coming off a sterling unanimous decision win against Shawn Porter in June, a bout that will rank high on many Fight of the Year lists. This is a true unification fight with two popular American fighters, and some genuine antagonism. I was in Philly for Garcia’s battering of Samuel Vargas, and the post fight antics (which I usual discount as so much theatre) between Garcia and Thurman seemed rancorous enough to be real.
Garcia is fast, smart defensively, and adaptable in the ring. He can land from unexpected angles, especially his left hook. Thurman is powerful, athletic, and always coming forward. I think this combination of styles will present a great fight, and the unpredictability of the outcome makes this an edge-of-the-seat contest.
4. Ward vs. Kovalev II
This bout is in the “dream, but likely” column. The first fight was a tactical brilliance by Ward, a fight for aficionados. Reasonable fans and observers can certainly disagree on the judges’ cards. I felt that Kovalev was ahead going into the last three, but was not active enough to win those rounds. Nonetheless, fight fans would love a second dance, which might also allow the promoters to garner a larger national audience and tap into the general sports fan base. Andre Ward is a fantastic fighter, and a compelling human being outside the ring. Couldn’t he be the face of American boxing in the post-Mayweather era?
Strangely, Ward has been making noises on social media about retiring, though is not clear why. Maybe he’s serious about walking away, maybe he’s trying to goad Kovalev. Or perhaps this is just an odd (and misdirected) way of generating publicity for the rematch.
There are some interesting questions that a Ward – Kovalev II could answer. Can Kovalev change his style, box more, or does he remain a pressure fighter, looking for a knock out? Can Ward rely on the judges a second time, or does he need to be more aggressive in the early rounds? How much does Kovalev’s frustration at the decision, and Ward’s seeming ambivalence about the sport, drive the outcome?
3. Rigondeaux vs. Frampton
This bout is in the “dream, unlikely” category. Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KO’s) is scheduled to fight Moises Flores (25-0, 17 KO’s) on February 25 on the Cotto vs. Kirkland undercard. Rigondeaux is putting his WBA junior featherweight title on the line, and I am excited to see the Cuban born fighter come in from the cold, so to speak. Rigo has been in boxing exile, with no one willing to face him in the ring (with the exception of Jazza Dickens of England), and no networks really willing to feature him. Rigo has had only three fights since 2014, but he remains a formidable figure in the sport because of his brilliant defensive footwork combined with devastating punching power. Of course, there are critics who find Rigo’s style boring, too cautious and defensive, not suited for the professional game. I am not one of them; I find Rigondeaux fascinating to watch – he’s certainly learned his lesson (that fans and networks want a more aggressive style) and I expect the Flores bout to be action-packed from the opening bell.
Carl Frampton (23-0, 14 KO’s) is slated to meet Leo Santa Cruz (32-1, 18 KO’s) in January for a rematch following the exciting and tense Frampton majority decision last time the two met in July of 2016. This is one of those 50-50 fights that make the lower divisions exciting to watch. Both guys are highly skilled and highly motivated. They respect one another, but they are both tough, action fighters. It should be a great bout.
So, for Rigondeaux and Frampton to meet in the ring, many dominoes must fall in the proper order. Both fighters need to win, obviously, then Rigo needs to move up to featherweight (certainly a plausible move at this point in his career), and he needs to defeat Flores in a way that makes him marketable enough for Frampton’s team to be interested in the bout. And Rigondeaux has other targets in the super bantamweight division, such as Jessie Magdeleno (the WBO titleholder) and Jonathan Guzman (IBF).
2. Wilder vs. Joshua
This bout I will optimistically put in the “dream, but possible” column.
Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KO’s) is wildly popular in the UK, and his upcoming April bout against Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 54 KO’s) will probably sell out Wembley Arena in London, and should do massive numbers on PPV. British fans are convinced that Joshua will dominate Klitschko, as they can’t imagine their hero struggling against anyone. I would not be surprised if the crafty and experienced Klitschko used his puzzling combination of pawing jab and clinch to confuse and disrupt Joshua. After his embarrassing loss to Tyson Fury in November of 2015, the Ukrainian champion will be more than motivated to bring his best game to London.
However, if Joshua can get the win against Klitschko, he will capture the WBA and the IBF belts, and be the big stack at the heavyweight table. Between the other belt holders, Joseph Parker of New Zealand (WBO) and Deontay Wilder of the USA (WBC), Wilder is the much more compelling next step, should “AJ” be willing to make the leap. But there are other, complicating factors, namely that the WBA and IBF challengers, currently Luis Ortiz and Kubrat Pulev, might make more sense financially for Joshua and Matchroom Promotions, before they contemplate facing the dangerous Bronze Bomber.
1. Golovkin vs. Canelo Alvarez
This is the big one – the Holy Grail for boxing fans. Oscar de la Hoya has promised on not a few occasions that the fight will happen in September, after Canelo has “had time” to move up to middleweight. I have always been a big Canelo fan, but his two wins this year – a big knockout against an undersized Amir Khan, and a not very entertaining dispatch of an overmatched Liam Smith – did not do much for his reputation among American fans. Right now there are rumors of a Billy Joe Saunders fight for Cinqo de Mayo weekend, but I would be stunned if Saunders actually climbed into the ring against the Cinnamon destroyer.
And of course, GGG must stay undefeated, something Danny Jacobs will have something to say about. Their March 18 date in New York promises to be a great night. Madison Square Garden, practically a home fight for the Brooklyn born Jacobs, GGG with his own fan base in New York, his relentless Mexican style – these are the ingredients of a great show and a great boxing match. And let’s be perfectly clear: Jacobs is going to be a stiff test for the Kazak superstar. No one is Golovkin’s camp is overlooking Jacobs; both Golovkin’s and trainer Abel Sanchez’s comments in the media have exhibited nothing but high praise and meaningful respect for Jacobs. Fighters with the kind of power that Jacobs and Golovkin possess, they know that one punch can change the direction of any fight, and that nothing is for certain in this sport.
Nonetheless, the number one fight I want to see in 2017 is Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. What fights are at the top of your list for next year?
Amir Khan- Where to go from here?
Amir Khan – Where to go from here?
By Daniel Arissol
Amir Khan entered the newly built T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas on May 7th attempting to defy the majority of the boxing fraternity by upsetting the odds and defeating Mexico’s star fighter and, in doing so, rip away the WBC middleweight crown and bring it back to his home town of Bolton, England. His plan was effective. He was lightning fast with his single punches, efficient in his combos and his movement was elusive. He was seeming to prove to everyone in world boxing that his tactics were perfect and that he could upset the odds. He could win this fight from the outside relying on his speed and movement to hit Canelo and evade the big shots hailing from Guadalajara’s favourite son. He held his own, until a devastating overhead right in round 6. Many pundits began with the ‘I told you so’ which began with Canelo’s power and ended with Khan’s glass jaw. However, he did fight bravely, intelligently and showed willing to succeed… and was fairly successful. Khan won the first 2 rounds, arguably the 3rd and Canelo only really took the fight to Khan and began to gain the upper hand during the 5th round. With the sixth round came the crushing overhead right that not only ended the brits chances of gaining the green strap but also leaves his career in a possible limbo.
Khan (31-4-0 19ko’s) has already stated his desire to return to the welterweight division where WBC champion, Danny Garcia (32-0-0 18ko’s), awaits after the WBC declared Khan his mandatory challenger regardless of the Canelo outcome. The Bolton man would relish the opportunity to not only fight for another world title but also avenge his 2012 KO loss to Garcia when he relinquished his WBA super lightweight title. Many expect that this would be a closer fight the second time around and many ask whether he is even worthy of another title shot so soon. Other options out there for Khan could be the winner of Thurman v Porter, Timothy Bradley, Errol Spence or the big domestic showdown with IBF champion Kell Brook.
Brook was quick to call Khan after the Canelo loss but Khan has gone on record saying he has no intention to fight the Sheffield star anytime soon. Kell himself is having problems in his quest to face a top welterweight in the division, especially as he wants to be known in the US as a major world champion. He did overcome the brawling Porter without really coming out of his comfort zone and, that being said, the Porter camp didn’t exactly beg for a rematch. Khan V Brook seems like a match up that will happen at some point down the line but, for now, the Garcia fight seems to be already in motion whilst Brook seems likely to face WBO king Jessie Vargas (27-1-0 17ko’s).
So, what have learnt about Amir in his last fight? He is not afraid to step up to challenge. His lightning speed was still apparent at a higher weight. He can still be open to errors which can, at worst, end up with him picking himself up from the canvas. His trainer, Virgil Hunter, has worked wonders with his defence and tactics and it would be hard to see him be trained by anyone else at this critical stage of his career.
But the question still stands… Where does Amir Khan go from here? If Amir is looking to secure a legacy in the sport, then he needs titles. The Garcia fight should be his first port of call, followed by the Kell Brook fight. If Khan beats Garcia he has options. If he loses, there will only be one welterweight ready to offer him a big title clash, Kell “the special one” Brook. Brook may very well be the IBF and WBO champ by this stage so that makes this a huge unification match up. That being said, in the UK many fight fans believe Brook to be the superior fighter who, as yet, doesn’t get the respect he deserves. The potential matchup is mouth-watering and with the UK fans putting pressure on Khan to agree to the fight, he may have little option but to fight the man he has been avoiding for years.
Canelo Surges On, But What’s Next for Amir Khan?
Canelo Surges On, But What’s Next For Amir Khan?
By: Oz Ozkaya
Miraculous From The Mexican
Coming into this hugely awaited Vegas showdown, Mexican man Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez held a very impressive record of 46-1-1 over Amir Khan’s 31-3-0. The odds were heavily staked against Khan for this fight with a lot of bookmakers offering a win price for Khan at 4-1 and an 18-1 outside price of beating Canelo by a knockout. Having said this, the likes of Lennox Lewis, Carl Froch and Bernard Hopkins all offered Khan some support prior to this fight, with all three former world champions stating that if he could stay out of Canelo’s range and box him for 12 rounds then he would almost certainly be the front runner to win on a points decision.
Just before the bell, as the referee gave his final instructions, Khan seemed to appear quite nervous, jumping and shaking as he gazed across at his opponent. Canelo however, refusing to give hardly any eye contact to his counterpart, looked completely stoic as they waited for the go ahead.
Photo Credit: Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Both fighters were straight out of the traps and Khan struck first with a combined couple of quick left and rights, still Canelo didn’t look to have taken any damage.
Continuing his impressive start Khan kept the razor sharp combos coming, but Canelo still looked unfazed by his efforts. At this point you are thinking that Khan’s Jab looks strong, and that he may be more up for this than previously predicted.
The rounds ticked by after an uptight start, Khan returned to his corner each time to his trainer Virgil Hunter who would offer him praise and words of wisdom in an attempt to keep Englishman focused. The abundance of Mexicans in the arena didn’t seem too worried by Khan’s strong start, as they giddily continued to brew a lively atmosphere in the brand new 20,000 Las Vegas arena.
Coming into the 6th Khan was by far ahead 4-1 and 5-0 on some peoples score cards. Into the 6th and out of nowhere, a lightening quick Jab to khan would send a shock to the brain and BANG before you could even digest the previous punch Canelo landed a rapturous right hand that was probably felt all the way across the Atlantic in Khan’s home town of Bolton,U.K. Within a millisecond of the punch Khan crashed to the deck, immediately unconscious upon connection.
The crowd ware on their feet; their Mexican king delivered once again. And as a touch of class Canelo headed over to console his opponent as soon as the bell rung, just to see if Khan was okay. The referee was perched over Khan, trying to wake him up, and just as you thought the worst for that split second, you could see Khan’s eyes fall back into alignment and his lips start to move.
Khan’s performance was simply breathtaking, and for a little while everyone thought that it might have just not been Canelo’s night. But that should never have stopped the believers from believing, as Canelo’s record continued to speak for itself.
Canelo was announced victor by the ring announcer, the arena got louder as his name was bellowed through the arena speakers, and the Mexican audience continued to go wild knowing that they were about to embark on perfect public holiday weekend as Canelo’s victory stirred them into euphoria.
So, What Next For Amir Khan?
Prior to the epic showdown with Canelo, much of Khan’s past potential-fight speculation had been around whether he could arrange a big money fight with Floyd Mayweather, or if he would accept a challenge to do battle with Sheffield-Born long standing rival, and IBF Welterweight world champion, Kell Brook.
Having said this, there has also been a lot of talk into whether Khan may make a dramatic switch to the UFC in a bid to revitalize his sporting popularity in the octagon. However, may its because Khan knows the big money fights in boxing are rapidly drying up.
But for Kell Brook, whose promoter Eddie Hearn claimed that Khan tried to price himself out of a potential fight with Brook, will now be rubbing his hands with excitement, as its look ominous that the Khan fight will go ahead, and to Khan’s dismay probably with a 50/50 split too.
For British boxing fans it will be one of those fights that many will be eagerly awaiting, not just because of the grand occasion, but because a lot of those Khan haters in the U.K know that he is weary of Brook and they also know that Brook will most likely have a good chance of knocking the Lancashire man out.
Brook himself, who has been IBF welterweight champion for just under two years now, hasn’t really fought any reputable opponents since his remarkable victory over Shawn Porter. Opponents aside, this must surely be the next best thing for Khan. A huge return fight in the UK, against the undefeated Kell Brook will have the promoters of both camps, and the fans of both sides in a fit of tantalization.
One stone that cannot go unturned though is the physical and psychological health of Khan. This is now the third heavy KO defeat of his career, and questions will be raised as to weather he can continue to compete at this level. Contrary to scientific doubts, optimistic Promoter Oscar De La Hoya said: “Amir Khan is one of the bravest fighters on the planet. He didn’t lose anything today. He will come back.”
Maybe Khan will bite the bullet and take on Brook, and if profits are his main motive then a clash at Wembley Stadium against Brook will certainly tick that box. It’ll also be a good chance for Khan to give something back to his loyal British fans, having only fought once in England in the last five years.
All that we do know for now is that Kell Brook wants the fight badly. As soon as the fight had finished on the early hours of Sunday morning, Brook was quick to let his thoughts be known via twitter: Im here, all British showdown @amirkingkhan. As of yet Khan is yet to show any kind of response to his tweet.
Can We Rule Out Mayweather?
The answer to that is most likely, a big fat yes. For Mayweather it would be a pointless outing, and it wouldn’t prove anything to his critics. The real shame of the scenario is, that if Mayweather were to get in the ring with Khan, it would definitely be an interesting fight.
With Floyd never really being a brutish puncher like Canelo, but more a technically gifted and defensively equipped fighter, Khan probably would fare better against Mayweather than he did with the fight against Canelo.
However, all of our time would be wasted speculating about a Khan v Mayweather showdown. Mayweather at the moment seems to be embroiled in some kind of rumour mill with Irishman, and UFC fighter Connor McGregor.
If the undefeated Mayweather does decide to come out of retirement, and with recent reports suggesting that he will, it will only be for that one thing; “the money”. The fight with McGregor has the potential generate a lot of money, and the figures being thrown around recently in the media suggest it will be for an awful lot at that.
Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao High-Def Price Soaring to $99 Record
By Ivan G. Goldman
So you thought the pay-per-view price for Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao would be $100? Well, you were just about right, according to the Wall Street Journal, which is usually correct on these financial topics. Its sources say the price will come in somewhere around $99 for high-def.
That exceeds the previous $75 record by about 33 percent.
Usually the sellers quote the price for the grainy, old-fashioned transmission because it sounds less expensive, but face it, most viewers will spring an extra few bucks for the high-def reception. It only makes sense. Otherwise it’s like trying to save money on a pizza by ordering no toppings.
The May 2 card will break all previous records by miles. The PPV money record is $152 million for Mayweather vs Canelo Alvarez in 2013. The record number of buys is 2.3 million for Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.
Notice any common characteristics? There are plenty, but I’ll name three. First, of course, there’s Floyd. Second? You can bet that once again a majority of the buyers hope he’d lose at last. Yes, there’s plenty of money to be made from playing the villain. Whether Mayweather — who’s on the upper end of a 60-40 purse split – just plays at being a villain or is the real thing is a judgment I’ll leave to you.
It’s the third common characteristic that’s been troublesome so far. Neither of the previous two fights was particularly entertaining. The De La Hoya fight was close, but solid exchanges were rare. Oscar won most of the first rounds, then lost steam, stopped throwing his superb jab, and faded as Floyd picked him apart, throwing a shot here, a shot there, and escaping with a split decision.
Against Canelo, Mayweather had his number from the first minute. Floyd hit and didn’t get hit much at all. One judge who seemed to be watching from Mars scored it 114-114. So Mayweather, who didn’t hurt Canelo much and once again never went in for the kill, came away with a majority decision.
It’s great for the sport when plenty of casual fans get interested in a fight, but when the fight disappoints, it leaves a sour taste behind, particularly when fans paid extra to see it.
The Journal says this will be a $74 million gate at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. That’s also where Floyd faced Oscar and later Canelo. If you figure in 3 million buys at $99, plus the sponsorships, the gate, the foreign rights and the closed circuit cash, you can see that a $400 million gross isn’t a far-fetched estimate.
Distributors normally get about half of the PPV money. This time, the Journal reports, they’ll have to settle for less, perhaps 40 percent. There are two networks to take care of – HBO and Showtime. They’ll do a joint telecast.
Undefeated Floyd has remained the betting favorite, slipping from about 3-1 to 2-1 as Pacquiao, a super-quick southpaw, attracts more support.
That’s another record that will be broken – the betting handle. If all the cash wagered offshore and with illegal bookies were legal and channeled through the Internal Revenue Service, we could inject some serious money into federal coffers.
New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag was released in 2013 by Potomac Books. Watch for The Debtor Class: A Novel from Permanent Press in spring, 2015. More information here.