The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of Dec. 16
What a year of boxing!
2013 had it's share of ups, a few downs and tons of compelling fights and storylines.
This past weekend's fights may be over, but we're just beginning to break down all the fallout from Adrien Broner's stunning defeat, his post-fight antics and his future in the sport.
On the other hand, Marcos Maidana suddenly has a very bright future in a talent-rich welterweight division. We assess his options going forward after the biggest win of his career.
All that, plus the overall state of the sport and, particularly, the state of the HBO-Showtime rivalry.
These are the hottest boxing storylines for the coming week!
Was Adrien Broner Exposed?
Only the most foolish of observers were willing to completely dismiss Marcos Maidana's chances of lifting the WBA Welterweight Championship from Adrien Broner on Saturday night in Texas. It was clear that the Argentine was the underdog, but his toughness and sheer will to win were something Broner had never faced before.
But even among those who gave Maidana a chance to pull the upset, there were few—if any at all—who felt he would dominate and nearly stop Broner in the way he did.
Broner entered the fight as the self-professed next Floyd Mayweather. His brash talking ways rubbed many the wrong way and left a very real perception that his game inside the ring was far exceeded by his talk outside of it.
He had about as bad a night as possible—from both a boxing and marketing perspective—and suddenly "The Problem" has a whole slew of problems to solve in order to get a once-promising career back on track. Many of his wounds were self-inflicted, and he hasn't built up the type of goodwill from the boxing community that's likely to buy him any breaks.
Broner seemed completely unprepared to handle the intense pressure and aggression Maidana threw his way. Whenever "El Chino" let his hands go—which was often—Broner's offensive output dropped to virtually—if not actually—zero. He seemed content to sit back in the hopes that his foe would tire.
If you have ever watched Maidana fight, you know that doesn't happen very often.
Broner does deserve some credit. He was very nearly stopped in the second and rallied in the middle rounds to get himself somewhat back in the fight.
But he also deserves a ton of criticism. He did himself absolutely no favors with his behavior before, during—we won't soon forget his dry-humping of Maidana in the corner or his Academy Award-worthy selling of a relatively minor headbutt after getting dropped in the eighth—or after the fight, when he literally turned tail and ran from the ring when the cards were read.
For someone with so much to say about his greatness, he was totally unwilling to face the music after his first loss. That's more than just a bad image, it's a problem.
What Next for El Chino?
Marcos Maidana is tough as nails, and he's come a hell of a long way since his embarrassing welterweight debut in early 2012 against Devon Alexander. In that fight, "El Chino" was completely dominated and nearly shut out. He won only one round on one official judge's scorecard.
But that performance is a distant memory now. Maidana has completely erased it with a four-bout winning streak that includes stoppages of Jesus Soto Karass and Josesito Lopez and a dominant near stoppage of Adrien Broner.
The future is extremely bright for the Argentine, who now holds one of the belts at 147 pounds and has potentially exciting matchups all around him.
On the Showtime side of the welterweight river, pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather still holds a welterweight belt, even if that fight is a remote possibility.
But there's also Shawn Porter, who captured the IBF strap with an upset of Alexander earlier this month; interim WBA champion Keith Thurman; junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia, former champion Paulie Malignaggi, who was himself impressive in thoroughly outboxing Zab Judah after dropping a close decision to Broner; and then Broner himself.
Broner was clear after the fight about his desire for an immediate rematch, and that could be both exciting and lucrative.
Regardless of what path he chooses to take, one thing is clear, it's good to be Marcos Maidana heading into 2014.
Can We Stop All the Next Floyd Mayweather Talk Now?
Let's put this on the table right at the outset: There is only one Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The constant search for the next Mayweather, or the next guy to ascend to his lofty perch, often dominates many boxing conversations. And you can understand why.
Mayweather is not just boxing's biggest star, he's one of the biggest stars in all of sports, and he's done as much—if not more—than any fighter in recent memory to grow the sport's fanbase. Love him or hate him, the man they call "Money" knows how to sell himself and his sport to the mainstream.
After this weekend, and if it wasn't clear before, we now know that Adrien Broner—the latest to self-anoint himself the heir apparent—is not close to that level.
That's not even a knock on him. Sure, he got largely dominated by a fighter most expected him to beat. And sure, he did himself no favors with his antics before, during and after the fight.
There is going to be a lot of debate in the next few months over whether or not Broner simply had a bad night or if he was completely overrated from day one, whether he was the product of a tremendous hype job and will fade from the scene or if he will be able to rebound and use his obviously tremendous physical gifts to re-emerge as a force.
Those issues will be settled in time. But at least for right now, neither Broner nor anyone else is Floyd Mayweather. And there's really no point in continuing to try to show otherwise.
Mayweather is a generational talent, and love him or hate him, he's the best in the business today both in the ring and outside of it.
It'll be a while before we see another like him.
Who Had the Better Year? HBO or Showtime?
There really isn't much of a question about this one.
The boxing year 2013 belonged to Showtime, and it completely dominated its longtime foe, HBO, with better fighters, more exciting cards and a depth of talent that was oftentimes staggering.
For years, it was HBO that set the standard in the cable boxing wars. It brought fans such big names as Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. Showtime always seemed to be the stepchild.
But the landscape dramatically changed in February when Mayweather jumped ship, signing a megadeal with Showtime good for six pay-per-view fights and untold millions of dollars. Shortly after, HBO announced it was no longer doing business with Golden Boy Promotions, which allowed its talent-rich stable of fighters to compete exclusively on the rival network.
That allowed Showtime to produce many memorable night's of fights, with extremely deep cards from top to bottom, and to seize the mantle of premier boxing network heading into next year.
With HBO set to make some noise again—with Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev and Ruslan Provodnikov, among others, sure to produce exciting action fights—the wars are going to get even hotter next year, and that's nothing but a win for boxing fans.
Who Will Be 2014's Breakout Star?
Coming into 2013, the two best candidates for breakout star of the year were Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Adrien Broner. Both guys got their year off on the right foot, with solid wins against quality opposition, but faltered badly in their biggest tests.
Speculation now immediately moves to who will become the sport's big breakout star in 2014?
There are sure to be a variety of responses to that question, but one immediately sticks out.
Thurman is 22-0 with 20 knockouts, and he has shown a steady improvement in his game with each successive fight. Many of his opponents haven't even made it past the first round, and of those that did, many didn't make it past the third.
But he isn't just a one-trick pony. In his last two fights—knockouts of Diego Chaves and Jesus Soto Karass—he's seen both his opposition's level and his own boxing ability dramatically increase. In both of those fights, Thurman showed a controlled and explosive aggression.
He was content to box in order to set up his power shots, and he found great success in doing so. This kid has all the makings of a star. He's fortunate to fight in a division—welterweight—that is absolutely loaded with talent, and this should give him every opportunity to become a household name next year.