Poor, old boxing still able to captivate the sporting audience, as the Jeff Horn-Manny Pacquiao fight showed. And then just as able to confuse and alienate, as the aermath of Horn-Pacquiao proved. If you’re still watching, the sweet science has a spotlight moment coming up over the next month, one that spans all the contradictions and frustrations of modern boxing.
2 With reservations, we have to start with Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor. The August 27 fight in Las Vegas is such a carnival act, even judged against the low bar of boxing’s standards of crassness. The match of the unbeaten Mayweather and UFC star McGregor was seemingly willed into existence by social media trolling, and we’re now compelled to watch, in the can’t-look-away fashion of a car crash. Why is this happening? Mayweather stands to make somewhere between $100m to $300m on this fight, while according to UFC boss Dana White, McGregor is looking at a $75m payday, which is five times more than anything he’s earned in the octagon.
3 It really is one of those ideas cooked up in a boardroom somewhere: stage an event, put together the fan bases of boxing and UFC, collect profits. Thus, the promotion of the fight
is the fight. This fact became abundantly clear during the four-city press tour in July, with McGregor in his finest, hype-man form. The Irishman variously accused Floyd of having tax problems, wearing a tracksuit, lacking core strength and not being able to read. Sadly, they might be the best shots McGregor lands, because ...
4 It’s hard to see how this fight doesn’t turn into an anti-spectacle – it seems like the dream scenario is it turns into a real-life version of Rocky Balboa fighting Thunderlips. Instead, Mayweather will employ his defensive mastery, which was able to take the air out of his contest against an excitement machine such as Pacquiao. An expected cakewalk would take Floyd to 50-0, surpassing Rocky Marciano’s historic unblemished record. That notion makes boxing purists gag.
5 About the only hope for action is if McGregor is as bad as touted – Mayweather might actually try to knock him out. South African boxer Chris van Heerden caused a sensation when he posted footage to Twier of his sparring sessions with McGregor, tagging him with ease. Van Heerden added the rejoinder: “I ain’t Floyd and I landed.”
6 If you only have so much money to spend on pay-perview, don’t pay for Floyd and Conor and wait a month. The fight that boxing diehards have been waiting for happens on September 17, when Gennady Golovkin faces off against Canelo Alvarez. Not only is this a duel of quality opponents – the respective styles of the powerful Golovkin and hustling Alvarez should combine to put on a great show.
7 It’s a genuine curiosity that Golovkin has not cut through to the sporting mainstream – he’s the most formidable knockout artist since Mike Tyson. Part of it might be he’s from Kazakhstan, part of it boxing’s lack of relevance these days. Another convincing reason is he’s had no defining defififining opponent to go against as he’s rung up his 37-0 (33 KOs!) record and the unified unififified middleweight title. An impressive victory over Alvarez would go a long way to resolving that issue, although Golovkin sees this fight fififight as something of a valedictory – if he wins big, the 35-year-old might retire.
8 Alvarez is already the darling of Mexico, a status he cemented when he whipped Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, son of a previous Mexican ring icon, last May. Canelo is also seeking his breakout moment – most casual fans remember him best for losing to Mayweather four years ago, a fight Alvarez was probably too young to take on at the time. Now 27, he goes in as the underdog against Golovkin, but has a decided edge in youth. And we know how that turned out in Brisbane ...
9 A couple more to keep up with the boxing hipsters: Terence Crawford, potentially the big opponent out there for Jeff Horn, seeks to unify the junior welter belts against Julius Indongo on August 20. And there’s Roman Gonzalez versus Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on September 10, a rematch of their March encounter in which Gonzalez lost by decision despite landing 157 more punches. Interesting fact: one of the judges was our old friend Waleska Roldan, she of the 117-111 score for Pac-Horn (she had this fight even).
10 Okay, our last words on Pac-Horn: it was close, and close fights go either way; it’s time for Pacquiao to bring his glorious career to a close, and a series against Jeff Horn is a weird way to do it; maers are properly seled in the ring, though, so if they do have that rematch before the end of the year, we’ll get to see if Horn can prove it twice ... or if he’s Manny’s next Tim Bradley.
Gennady Golovkin, in a familiar position. Canelo Alvarez on the advance. ¡¢£ ¡¤ Floyd, Conor and money.