The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of Feb. 3
There's a lot to discuss, so let's get right to it.
In this week's edition of the hottest boxing storylines, we discuss Gennady Golovkin's big, untelevised in the United States victory over Osumanu Adama and its impact on GGG and the middleweight division.
We'll take Bob Arum to task for saying that pay-per-view undercards don't matter, and we'll try and break down all the fallout from Luis Collazo's stunning upset of Victor Ortiz last Thursday night in Brooklyn.
Consider yourself armed for the week ahead. These are the hottest boxing storylines for the week of February 3.
How Much Does Gennady Golovkin's Win Matter?
Unbeaten middleweight sensation Gennady Golovkin scored his 16th consecutive knockout victory on Saturday night, stopping Osumanu Adama in the seventh round of a contest in Monte Carlo. With the win, he successfully defended his share of the 160-pound crown, but he did so without the eyes of the American television audience on him.
The fight, which was broadcast in over 100 countries, but not the United States due to HBO not being able to work out logistics with the small Monaco-based venue, was a little harder for GGG than expected.
Adama was long, rangy and committed to jabbing and executing a defense-oriented, safety-first style. That forced Golovkin to work harder to get into range and uncork his power shots.
Golvokin scored a knockdown in the closing seconds of the opening frame with an overhand right, and he scored another with the same hand in the sixth round, before putting his foe down with a jab in the seventh. By that point, the fight was over and the referee's stoppage was a mere formality.
But how much does this matter in the grand scheme of things?
When it comes to Golovkin, the battle-lines have pretty well been drawn, and nothing that happened this past weekend will change that.
Either you believe he's a monster, on par with Ivan Drago from the Rocky movies, who is just one top middleweight fighter accepting his challenge away from establishing dominion over the division.
Or you believe he's an overrated hype job who would be a sitting duck for a patient boxer who can avoid his power and control him from the outside.
It would seem that the latter is getting increasingly hard to support, but until Golovkin dispatches of a top middleweight—and he's been trying, but nobody seems to want to get in there with him—the criticisms will remain.
Is Bob Arum Right? Do Fans Care About Undercards?
Bob Arum, the mercurial and often grumpy 82-year-old CEO and founder of Top Rank, Inc., made some news this past week when he announced the undercard for Timothy Bradley's WBO Welterweight Championship defense against Manny Pacquiao on April 12 in Las Vegas.
Three bouts will be offered on the pay-per-view broadcast in addition the main event.
Ray Beltran takes on former super featherweight champion Rocky Martinez in an eliminator for a title shot, Khabib Allakhverdiev defends the WBA Junior Welterweight Championship against Jessie Vargas and Bryan Vasquez faces Jose Felix for the interim WBA Super Featherweight Championship.
But the real news came when Arum told Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports this:
In theory, yes, it makes sense to say, let's go get a lot of good, interesting fights and put them on the [pay-per-view] undercard, but the truth is – and I've been doing this a long, long time – 90 percent of the people don't want to see the undercard and don't care about it.
There's a bit to unpack here, so let's try and be as concise as possible.
Arum's comments certainly may have been true in the days when HBO, with whom he exclusively does business, had a virtual monopoly on the PPV boxing trade. But now, when there exists very real competition from Showtime, that logic no longer holds.
Showtime has built their brand, particularly in recent months, on the strength of providing fans with more than one quality fight on their boxing cards. People tuning in for last year's biggest event, Mayweather vs. Canelo, on PPV also got a co-feature between Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse that could've headlined its own card.
It makes it much easier for the average boxing fan to fork over cash to see that event than Manny Pacquiao fighting Brandon Rios with Evgeny Gradovich vs. Billy Dib (a rematch of an ESPN Friday Night Fights bout) as the co-headliner.
And even if the undercard bouts aren't a big selling point on their own, isn't it nice to give the fans some bang for their $60-70 bucks?
So what say you boxing fans? Do undercards matter? Or do you agree with Arum?
Is Victor Ortiz Done?
Love him or hate him, you have to admit, Victor Ortiz has a flair for the dramatic.
You just never know what you'll get when he steps in the ring, but you can bank on it being something unexpected, unheard of or just plain crazy.
From his epic war with Andre Berto, in which he needed to rise from the canvas twice to secure the victory, to his meltdown against Floyd Mayweather and his broken jaw saga against Josesito Lopez, there's never a dull moment when Ortiz is around.
The latest chapter in his, let's say intriguing, story came this past Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Returning from a more than 18-month layoff, Ortiz faced an opponent known for his slick boxing ability and not his power.
But a crunching counter right hand in the closing seconds of Round 2 badly wobbled Ortiz, who turned his back to his foe before taking a knee near the corner. He was clearly dazed, but he made little, if any, effort to rise to his feet, and the contest was waved off.
It was the third straight defeat for the now 27-year-old former WBC welterweight champion, and with questions about his commitment to the sport already swirling, it's hard to see how he comes back from this latest setback.
After the fight, his promoter Oscar De La Hoya, who once hyped him as the second coming of himself, advised him to retire, and with his heart seemingly not in the sport, that might be his best bet.
Either way, it's hard to see what interest there will be in him if he chooses to continue. But if he does, you can bet on something out of the ordinary happening.
Has Luis Collazo Resurrected His Career?
Luis Collazo told Bleacher Report prior to his fight Thursday night with Victor Ortiz that he was thrilled at the prospect of headlining a show at his hometown Barclays Center, and that a win in front of his fans would be one of the most significant of his career.
Good for him then that he got the job done, because it wasn't that long ago that people were willing to completely pull the plug on Collazo's chances of ever competing at a high level again.
Collazo was knocked down and dropped a unanimous decision to Freddy Hernandez late in 2011. It was, and remains, the Mexican fighter's only victory in his last six fights, and it seemed to signal the end of the former WBA welterweight champ and his dream of once again cracking the title picture.
But he plugged along, winning three consecutive fights, and earned himself another significant match against the come-backing Ortiz. And by cashing it in—emphatically—he has now done something that, just a year or so ago, seemed highly improbable, if not impossible.
With the knockout victory, Collazo has crashed the party at the top of the crowded welterweight mix, and he could find himself in line for another title shot, more than eight years since his only reign.
His post-fight callout of Floyd Mayweather just isn't going to happen, but he could be in line to challenge Keith Thurman for the "regular" WBA Welterweight Championship, if Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer has his way.
That's an interesting matchup between a patient boxer with a world of experience and a still coming into his own puncher.
And given where Collazo was just over two years ago at this time, that's an accomplishment in itself.
Will Gary Russell Jr. Ever Fight Someone?
Gary Russell Jr. has been one of the hottest prospects in boxing for the past several years, but at some point in all fighters' careers, you need to shed the prospect label and show what you've got. Unfortunately, the 25-year old native of Capital Heights, Md. has not yet gotten that message.
He's been frequently, and largely correctly, skewered in the boxing media for taking on a slew of—putting it generously—subpar foes.
On the first televised fight of Thursday's Ortiz vs. Collazo undercard, Russell easily stopped Miguel Tamayo, who if our best guess is correct, was found aimlessly wandering outside the Barclays Center and seemed the perfect fit for an opponent.
Obviously that's said in jest, but it exposes a true problem about Russell's resume, or lack thereof.
He's supremely talented. His hand speed ranks amongst the best in the entire sport, and he has excellent boxing ability and solid fundamentals.
But by this point in his career—five years and 24 professional fights in—he should not be stepping into the ring with the Tamayos and Juan Ruizes of the world. Ruiz—whom Russell shutout for a unanimous decision win in his previous fight—entered the ring having lost nine of his last 10 contests.
Despite his lackluster resume, Russell somehow holds the No. 1 contender slot for the WBO Super Featherweight Championship. Given his opposition, that's a complete farce, and he has done nothing in the ring to show he's ready for that type of opposition.