Putting Canelo's Next Fight on CBS Might Actually Hurt Boxing More Than Help It
After the shocking upset of Josesito Lopez TKOing Victor Ortiz Saturday night, many of the fight fans in attendance at the Staples Center were happy for Lopez and disappointed in Ortiz, as I explained in this previous piece.
Most of the media at the Staples Center were not only inside the post-fight conference room, but they were also outside in the back hallways, waiting to talk to the other man of the hour, who did not even fight that night and who was hoping to see his opponent for September 15th at the MGM Grand.
Obviously because Ortiz ended up losing by a TKO and getting severely injured with a broken jaw, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez was once again the fighter with the big fight date and venue but with no dancing partner.
Inside the post-fight presser, Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, was at the podium and explained that if Canelo's next fight is not against a pay-per-view-worthy opponent, then they will not put the fight on PPV.
He then dropped the bomb that the fight will most likely be on either Showtime or even CBS.
Many of the journalists inside the post-fight conference said, "Wow!" as their eyes lit up with joy.
But the more cynical people, like me, felt that this was just a publicity stunt.
I actually Tweeted this instantly aw Schaefer stated it at the podium, and many fight fans on Twitter replied to me saying things like, "YEAH RIIIIGHT!"
Here is the thing: I—just like most hardcore and even casual fight fans—want to see my favorite sport back on major network television programming just as much as the next guy, but the problem is that the major networks will have high expectations for ratings and entertainment value.
Canelo, although now a young, undefeated champion with some notable names on his resume, fights with a more technical fighting style than the more common, traditional Mexican fighting style of standing toe-to-toe and trading big punches for most of the rounds.
Canelo's fighting style is appreciated by the more knowledgeable hardcore boxing fans, while many casual fans and boxing newcomers may not find his fights to be that pleasing.
Granted, Canelo's last fight—against veteran and now-retired, Hall of Fame-bound Shane Mosley—was a bit more exciting, but that was pretty much because Shane wanted to go out on his own terms and made Canelo fight in the pocket, toe-to-toe.
Had Canelo taken on a more hungry fighter, he probably would have fought in a safer, more technical and defensive manner.
Right now Canelo's two most exciting opponents are out.
James Kirkland, a young, hungry powerhouse who goes for the KO, would have made for a good fight if he were to be able to press Canelo, but unfortunately Kirkland had to withdraw from the Canelo September sweepstakes due to a shoulder injury.
I asked Kirkland's trainer Ann Wolfe if the Canelo fight for September was on if the money was right, and she said no and that he is injured.
I then asked again, "Come on, if the money is too good will he take it?"
She then pointed at my shoulder and said, "His shoulder is cut up!"
So basically she assured me that he is indeed injured and would not be able to fight Canelo in September. This was after the Pacquiao vs. Bradley fight at the MGM Grand.
Thus, with Kirkland out, all eyes turned to Victor Ortiz, who of course lost his chance as well, since he lost and is injured with a broken jaw.
Both Kirkland and Ortiz would be PPV-worthy fights and even CBS-worthy fights, for they are exciting opponents who fight in exciting manners.
Just look at Ortiz vs. Lopez: Despite the outcome, it was one exciting fight. Same with Kirkland: His fights are always exciting.
Word is that now, with both Kirkland and Ortiz out, they are looking at the Cornelius Bundrage vs. Cory Spinks II winner, which will be determined when they fight Saturday, or WBA light-middleweight champion Austin Trout.
All three of these options are decent, credible opponents for Canelo, but definitely not worthy of PPV or CBS.
Bundrage currently owns the IBF light middleweight title, and Trout holds the WBA light-middleweight title. Should Spinks defeat Bundrage Saturday night, then either way at least Canelo gets a unification title bout for September 15.
However Bundrage is not exactly an exciting, young, primed champion anymore; in fact, he's pushing the big 40.
Trout fought in a horrendously boring title defense against Delvin Rodriguez about three weeks ago, and most fight fans want to pretend that fight never even occurred.
It was just that bad, and that says a lot, since most fight fans voted for Rodriguez in a fight-of-the-year performance against Pawel Wolak last year.
Spinks may be the most seasoned former champion out of the three, with the most impressive resume, fighting the likes of Ricardo Mayorga, Zab Judah and Jermain Taylor all in their primes. But he himself may no longer be in his prime, and he never really won over the crowds as his more famous father and uncle did.
If Golden Boy Promotions is indeed sincere in its desire to put Canelo on CBS, then they must put in an exciting opponent who will try to destroy Canelo.
The only option for this would be Miguel Cotto.
He is the third-biggest star in the sport of boxing, behind of course Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Will Golden Boy Promotions risk its new bread and butter against a legitimately dangerous threat and former champion like Cotto?
Most likely the answer will be no.
Although Canelo is getting better and better, he is still just 21 and in no way ready for Miguel Cotto, a fighter who can and most likely would knock him out if they were to fight in September.
If boxing is ready to return to major networks like CBS, then they have to do it the right way, and that is with exciting fighters who win over crowds and do not fight in technical, defensive styles.
If Golden Boy does not put Canelo against an exciting fighter that will make him really fight for the fans and the new viewers at home, then it could hurt boxing more than help it return to primetime network television.
Golden Boy at the very least should have an additional fight card that includes its more exciting fighters, like fast-rising star Seth Mitchell, a heavyweight who goes for the KO and who has the All-American and football backstory, which makes him rather marketable. He also speaks well in front of the camera, and, let's face it, the sport of boxing needs a star like him to get the masses paying attention again.
If not Mitchell, then another Golden Boy fighter that they should include on the card should be Marcos Maidana or Lucas Matthysse, who just knocked out Humberto Soto on the Ortiz vs. Lopez undercard.
They are exciting to watch, have a lot of power and go for knockouts.
Let's be perfectly honest: The casual fans and new fans on primetime network television will want to see a war. They want to see knockouts; they do not want to see methodical, technical fights that go to the judges' scorecards.
If the masses of casual fans see exciting wars and knockouts at least in the beginning of boxing's return to network television, then boxing will be a legitimate force once again.
But if they see too many boring, close, technical fights that go to decision, then that may hurt boxing more than help it return back on top, where it belongs.
Follow on Twitter: @KingJ323
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