Calling Fact or Fiction for the Biggest Rumors and Speculation in Boxing
Rumor and gossip is something fans of most sports enjoy.
You could argue that boxing lends itself even more to the discussion of rumors on message boards and talk radio because of how it's structured.
In football, basketball and baseball, teams know who they'll play in each game months in advance during the regular season, and then they have a well-defined path to winning a championship with a set bracket in the postseason.
Boxing has none of those things.
With four titleholders in each division—not including the ridiculous super, interim and other made-up champions—and no organizing body with enough power to force fighters to face each other, rumors and whispers on who is fighting who swirl around faster than an F5 tornado.
My basic philosophy is: Don't believe anything until the ink is dry.
Over the next several slides, I'll take a lie detector test regarding the biggest rumors and speculation in boxing.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s May 2015 Surprise Will Be a Fight Against Manny Pacquiao
Rumor: Floyd Mayweather Jr. will finally fight Manny Pacquiao after promising a "surprise" for his May 2015 match, per Ivan G. Goldman of Boxing Insider.
Fact or Fiction: 100 percent fiction
Bottom line, Mayweather is exclusive to Showtime for three more fights—ending with his probable fight in September 2015, and Pacquiao just signed a five-fight extension with Top Rank and HBO, taking him through the end of 2016.
Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya may talk about burying the hatchet and profess that they're going to start working together—that may end up being 100 percent true—but it doesn't mean they can make a match between Pacquiao and Mayweather.
As most of you probably know, Mayweather isn't signed with Golden Boy Promotions—he's with adviser Al Haymon—so whether or not Top Rank and Golden Boy mend their fractured business relationship is meaningless; De La Hoya has no say in the matter. Arum would have to negotiate a deal for the fight with Haymon, but they refuse to work together.
Whenever this topic comes up just know and repeat this: Showtime will not allow Mayweather to fight on HBO, and HBO will not allow Pacquiao to fight on Showtime.
It also doesn't help that Mayweather has refused to work with Arum, Pacquiao's promoter.
Maybe they'll fight after those deals expire, but the match is DOA until that happens.
Bernard Hopkins Will Fight Sergey Kovalev Instead of Adonis Stevenson
Rumor: Bernard Hopkins will fight fellow 175-pound champion Sergey Kovalev next instead of the highly discussed matchup against Adonis Stevenson, per Joseph Santoliquito of RingTV.com (via Wil Esco of SB Nation's Bad Left Hook).
Fact or Fiction: I'm leaning toward fact at this moment.
The idea seems counterintuitive for the current business climate in boxing, but it makes more sense after you break it down.
First, it seems like Stevenson is perfectly willing to duck the elite fighters at light heavyweight and coast until the end of his career. With Stevenson turning 37 in September, his cruise to the finish line won't be that long.
We've already seen Stevenson bolt to Showtime in order to avoid a fight against fellow 175-pound belt holder Sergey Kovalev, a fight that wasn't completely finalized, but there was an agreement in place.
If Stevenson is willing to wear the "scarlet D" to avoid Kovalev, I don't think it's much of a stretch to believe he would do the same with Hopkins. Of course Kovalev is possibly the most feared puncher in the sport, while Hopkins is certainly not, but he still presents an extremely tough match and is a serious threat to take Stevenson's belt.
What makes this match between fighters on different networks and different promotions possible when others are not is that Hopkins isn't tied to Al Haymon and isn't exclusive to Showtime. Without those obstacles in the way, a fight between Hopkins and Kovalev should be fairly easy to make.
Reportedly, Hopkins' promoter Golden Boy and Main Event, which represents Kovalev, are already in talks for the fight with a tentative date and location of November 8 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
HBO has said that it wouldn't work with Golden Boy Promotions in the past, but it's invested heavily in promoting and developing Kovalev, so I don't think it'll pass on the chance to air his biggest fight to date. Plus Dan Rafael of ESPN has said that Hopkins is an "approved opponent for Kovalev" under his contract with HBO.
If Kovalev beats Hopkins, his name recognition and star power would increase, which would be good for business at HBO.
While we've learned recently not to count deals as being done until the ink is dry (Kovalev/Stevenson, Gennady Golovkin/Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.), this match has a great chance of being made.
Is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. a Possible Opponent for Miguel Cotto?
Speculation: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is a possible matchup for Miguel Cotto in his next match.
Fact or Fiction: Do I really even need to answer or explain? I want whatever Freddie Roach was drinking when he made this statement; it has less than a zero percent chance of happening.
Chavez has struggled to make the 168-pound limit, while Cotto only weighed in at 155 pounds for his 160-pound fight against Sergio Martinez. There's just no way; Chavez is too big.
Cotto won his first belt at 140 pounds, and regardless of weight division, Cotto is a much smaller man than Chavez. Cotto is listed as 5'7'' with a 67'' reach, while Chavez is 6'1'' with a 73'' reach. Kovalev—the WBO 175-pound champion—is actually a smaller man than Chavez at 6'0'' with a 72.5'' reach; the idea of Cotto fighting Chavez is absurd.
Having trained both fighters, I'm sure Roach is confident in Cotto, but signing up for a fight with Chavez would be more arrogance than confidence.
While Chavez has many flaws, his chin and power are both plus traits. Cotto isn't big enough to hurt Chavez, but over 12 rounds, the power of Chavez—if he's able to land cleanly—would be too much for Cotto to handle.
How could Cotto win the fight? He doesn't have enough power to hurt him, and as long as Chavez doesn't fight stupid, Cotto won't be able to get inside to land his patent hooks to the body consistently with the extreme height and reach disadvantage.
There's a good chance that after he rehydrates, Chavez could weigh 25 to 30 pounds more than Cotto on the night of the fight; that's just too much. Again, this has nothing to do with skill, just height and body mass.
For his body type, Cotto's best weight class at this point is either 147 or 154 pounds in my opinion; he only stretched to 160 for a shot at history. At each fighter's ideal weight, we're really talking about a light heavyweight taking on a junior middleweight.
Gennady Golovkin Will Fight on PPV for His Next Match
Rumor: Gennady Golovkin will fight on pay-per-view in his next fight against either Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, per Allan Fox of BoxingNews24.com.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction
I wouldn't be surprised to see Golovkin get a chance against one of those three fighters in the next year or so, but it won't be when he returns to the ring this fall in either October or November.
Alvarez doesn't want to go up in weight to 160 pounds, and that fight would have to overcome TV network obstacles (Golovkin signed an extension to his exclusive deal with HBO). Despite a fight against Chavez nearly happening earlier this year, I would be shocked if it happened during the fall given his issues with making weight and an ongoing spat with his promoter.
The most likely match of that trio would be Cotto, but I'm not sure that will even happen. Cotto and his advisers know that a potential match with Alvarez is on the table for 2015, so I don't expect him to take a major risk. A fight with Golovkin would be big, but it would pale in comparison to the money that could be made against Alvarez.
If I had to put money on the line in a bet on who GGG will fight next, I would wager that it will be a unification bout against IBF middleweight champion Sam Soliman. Golovkin's first big PPV fight will most likely come in 2015 against either Andre Ward or the winner of the potential Alvarez vs. Cotto fight.
Rios vs. Alvarado III in 2015
Speculation: Brandon Rios may take on Mike Alvarado in a highly anticipated and requested third match by next year.
Fact or fiction: Fact
What better options exist for either fighter? Both fighters have lost their last two fights—at the time this article was published on July 29—and neither fighter has a realistic shot at getting a title fight anytime soon.
The reality for both fighters is their stock is down, and the best fighters at 140 and 147—not that Rios could make 140—are with Haymon and Showtime. Unless either Rios or Alvarado decides to jump ship whenever their contracts are up, only a fight against each other will make the needle move and get them back in the conversation for a bigger fight.
Plus HBO knows that the fans would love to see a third match between the two all-action fighters, so the ratings for the fight would likely be pretty high; I'm sure HBO would be on board to broadcast the match.
It just makes too much sense for it to not happen, but of course this is boxing, so you never know.
My expectation is that the third match will take place by spring 2015, but I wouldn't rule out a date in November or December either. How great would it be if Arum put this fight on the undercard for Pacquiao's next match? It would help bring some life to a lackluster main event.
I know; it's not likely given Arum's track record of not caring about the quality of the undercard.
Either way, Rios vs. Alvarado III has to happen soon.