The Biggest Question Surrounding Boxing's Top Remaining Fights in 2014
While the 2014 boxing calendar hasn't been as packed with great fights as 2013 was, it has had some very interesting storylines.
Whether it is how a guy won, who a guy refused to fight or who a fighter should take on next, the news and debate never stops in boxing.
Who could forget Manny Pacquiao avenging his previous loss to Timothy Bradley, or Marcos Maidana pushing Floyd Mayweather Jr. to the limit or the unbelievable performance of Miguel Cotto with his TKO victory over Sergio Martinez?
The boxing calendar still has many big names with matches scheduled for the remaining portion of 2014; here are the big questions surrounding those fights.
Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Geale
What's At Stake: Gennady Golovkin's WBA and IBO middleweight titles.
The Big Question: Is Golovkin as good as advertised?
I believe so, but through little fault of his own, Golovkin hasn't faced the best competition possible. Unlike others in the sport, the lack of competition has been because other fighters don't want to take the match, but it still leaves a hint of doubt in the mind of some fans.
HBO has exclusive TV rights to Golovkin fights in North America, which also plays a role in preventing big matchups like against WBO 160-pound champion Peter Quillin, who of course is signed with Al Haymon.
Daniel Geale will be the toughest opponent Golovkin has faced to date.
Behind Miguel Cotto, Golovkin and Geale are the top-ranked contenders at 160 pounds by Ring Magazine and they're ranked second and fourth, respectively, by ESPN. Geale has never been knocked out and his only two losses have come by close split decisions.
Previously the toughest opponent to date for Golovkin had been Matthew Macklin. After being knocked out in the third round by Golovkin, Macklin—who has also faced Sergio Martinez and Felix Sturm—called GGG the best fighter he'd ever faced.
If the Golovkin knockout streak is still alive after the July 26 fight with Geale, there should be no doubt in anyone's mind on whether or not he is legit.
I'll go one step further: If Golovkin knocks out Geale, he should be moved into everyone's top 10 best pound-for-pound lists.
Prediction: Golovkin by late round TKO.
Danny Garcia vs. Rod Salka
What's At Stake: Nothing. Despite initial reports to the contrary, Danny Garcia's titles won't be on the line according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.
The Big Question: Frankly the biggest question surrounding this fight is obvious: Why is it even happening?
With the near glut of talent available on the Golden Boy and Al Haymon lineup between 140 and 147, why is a Danny Garcia wasting his time with a cupcake opponent? He could be facing guys like Adrien Broner, Lucas Matthysse or have a title unification fight against IBF light welterweight champion Lamont Peterson.
For whatever stupid reason, Peterson is also defending his belt in a separate fight on the same card. What are they trying to do, let that fight marinate? Garcia against Peterson should be the main event; it's ridiculous to have them in separate matches.
Garcia is only 26, so he still has plenty of time to take on the best fighters in the sport, but with this fight on August 9, he's essentially wasted all of 2014 unless he comes back for a bigger fight in the fall or winter. It's been a waste of his time and of the fans' time who watch his fights.
Garcia's fight against Mauricio Herrera last March was supposed to be the showcase fight or easy fight after an impressive victory over Matthysse, but that fight ended up being close and now he's followed it up by taking on an over-matched opponent.
What a joke.
Prediction: Garcia by KO.
Shawn Porter vs. Kell Brook
What's At Stake: Shawn Porter's welterweight title.
The Big Question: Will Porter's star continue to rise?
Porter's stock has soared over the last year after winning a belt against Devon Alexander and knocking out Paulie Malignaggi in his first defense. Now Porter makes another defense, this time against a British boxer named Kell Brook who was supposed to get a shot at Alexander's title last year, but the fight was never made.
Brook has been criticized for a soft list of opponents and looks to be a big underdog against the American fighter from Ohio.
From Dan Rafael of ESPN, Porter believes he has the clear advantage, "I'm faster than he is, stronger than he is, quicker than he is, more athletic, and if you put all that in one fight, I'm going to be the winner."
Porter fights an entertaining style and seems to have an engaging personality; if he continues to win his name recognition and status in the sport will keep growing.
Hopefully this will be Porter's last test against what I would call mid-level opponents, or mid-majors to borrow a term from college sports. If he dominates Brook like he did Malignaggi, there should be no reason for him not to look for bigger fights.
The first big fight that I hope to see would be against the undefeated Keith Thurman.
Prediction: Porter UD, 117-111.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Marcos Maidana II
What's At Stake: Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s WBC and WBA welterweight titles.
The Big Question: Does Marcos Maidana have what it takes—with stamina mostly—to be the first man to defeat Mayweather, or will Mayweather pick him apart in the rematch?
Maidana was relentless with his pressure early during their previous fight and ended up landing more punches on Mayweather than any opponent ever had. Problem was that the amount of pressure and effort it took to achieve good early success was unsustainable.
Even when Maidana was keeping up the pressure, most of his punches were looping and didn't land cleanly while Mayweather was actually out-landing him while backing up or against the ropes. The pressure looked good, but it wasn't always effective, which is what it takes to win rounds and fights.
The biggest evidence of that was with the punch stats that showed Mayweather out-landing Maidana by a two-to-one margin in percentage of total punches and power punches landed.
By the middle rounds the pressure backed off enough to let Mayweather get off the ropes and he started timing Maidana every time he lunged with his jab and straight right hand. Stamina was a big factor in the last fight and will be again in their rematch.
If Maidana can keep up the pressure and corner Mayweather, he has a chance to win. If Mayweather is able to avoid his attempts to cut off the ring and keeps the fight in the center, he'll outpoint and out class the Argentinian.
Stamina and endurance aren't the only factors—Mayweather also has the edge with speed and defense—but it will factor heavily into how the fight is decided.
Prediction: Mayweather UD, 117-111.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Chris Algieri
What's At Stake: Manny Pacquiao's welterweight title.
The Big Question: Did Chris Algieri really deserve this fight?
Other than a controversial decision over Ruslan Provodnikov that he didn't deserve, what has he ever done to warrant a fight against one of boxing's two biggest pay-per-view stars?
The fight against Provodnikov was competitive and close—I had it 115-111 for Provodnikov—but so what? Algieri has not earned a match against Pacquiao.
Algieri has no name recognition with casual fans, will be moving up in weight and his only notable victory is tainted; the PPV in November will bomb.
This matchup is sadly linked to an overall bigger issue: Pacquiao doesn't have anyone else to fight. Though the Cold War has started to thaw, promotional issues between HBO/Top Rank and Golden Boy/Al Haymon have continued to take some of the best potential fights off the table.
Not only has it killed a possible Pacquiao fight with fellow PPV star Floyd Mayweather Jr., but other great potential fights against guys like Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Marcos Maidana, Lucas Matthysse, Danny Garcia, Robert Guerrero and Amir Khan are also DOA as long as the two sides refuse to work together.
So because I don't think anyone is interested in a third match against Timothy Bradley and they couldn't reach a deal for a fifth fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, who is left to fight?
Pacquiao already fought Brandon Rios, a PPV fight against Mike Alvarado would tank and Provodnikov is off the table as long as they share a trainer.
Algieri sadly was the best of an awful situation. Until young stars like Mikey Garcia or Terence Crawford move up in weight or promotional issues are settled, this will be a recurring theme for most Pacquiao fights.
Prediction: Pacquiao UD, 118-110.