Boxing Stars Failing to Make the Most of 2014
The stock and opinion on boxers can fall rapidly.
Losing two games in a row in baseball, basketball or even football wouldn't be considered a big deal, but in boxing, that could signify the start of a free fall.
Ducking fights, losing fights, inactivity or even winning fights but not doing so impressively can all cause things to turn sour on a boxer.
However, this isn't a stock-watch article; rather, it's a look at the boxers who have underwhelmed or have been disappointing so far through 2014 for one of the reasons I mentioned above.
Please note that saying a boxer on this list has had a bad year is not the same as saying that boxer as a whole has been bad. Most of the guys on this list are still very much at or near the top of their division and thought of as great boxers, but for one reason or another they have come up short so far this year.
One man you won't see on this list is Sergio Martinez.
You could argue he should have been considering his blowout stoppage loss to Miguel Cotto back in June, but factoring in his physical condition and age at the time of the fight, I'm going to give him somewhat of a pass.
Had Martinez been 100 percent and didn't show signs of being past his prime, he'd be an obvious choice for the list.
Timothy Bradley got the result he deserved in 2012 when he faced Manny Pacquiao for a second time in April of this year.
Bradley is without a doubt one of the most skilled boxers in his division, but he obviously didn't earn the first decision over Pacquiao. Despite the technicality of the official first decision, Pacquiao proved again that the previously undefeated Bradley was not on his level.
That's not necessarily a bad thing considering that very few other fighters are that elite, but a win over Pacquiao in the second fight could have cemented Bradley's legacy and quieted his critics. After a second clear loss to Pacquiao, Bradley will be widely viewed as a second-tier fighter.
He's still great but not a star or elite.
It's hard to blame a guy for losing to an all-time great, but we can also agree that the version of Pacquiao he fought this year had lost a step. Bradley was the younger man and should have been quicker, but the older Pacquiao still had the edge in both hand and foot speed.
With a win, Bradley would have owned a belt and to some degree been able to call his own shots in the division among fights that could be made with Top Rank and HBO fighters.
He'd have every big name at junior welterweight and welterweight in HBO and Top Rank's stable of fighters knocking at his door—including possibly a third match with Pacquiao—with big money available.
He'll still be a headliner on HBO cards, but the money won't be the same, and it'll be harder to attract top fighters since they won't have as much to gain by possibly defeating Bradley.
Too bad for him that Top Rank and Al Haymon don't get along. We'd all sign up for matches between Bradley and guys like Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Robert Guerrero, Amir Khan and even Floyd Mayweather Jr.
For now, none of those fights is possible, and not much is available to Bradley that will excite boxing fans.
Less than a year ago Mike Alvarado was a titleholder in the 140-pound division and a top attraction on TV. Now many boxing fans are forced to wonder what he has left in the tank.
His decline started last year in October when Ruslan Provodnikov came to his hometown and assaulted him for 10 rounds until the fight was stopped and his belt had been taken away.
Despite the embarrassing defeat, Alvarado was given another chance with a title elimination fight against Juan Manuel Marquez in May of this year for the right to become the mandatory challenger for Manny Pacquiao's welterweight title.
The older and smaller Marquez dominated Alvarado with the exception of one round in a fight where Alvarado looked over his head and like he didn't belong in the same class as Marquez. There's no doubt that Marquez is still a very talented fighter, but he shouldn't be able to dominate like that at age 40.
Maybe I'm not giving Marquez enough credit, but the blowout loss in Alvarado's only fight of 2014 said more to me about his place in the division than the stoppage against Provodnikov, who has hammers for fists.
What's left for Alvarado?
He's lost three of his last four fights and outside of a rubber match against Brandon Rios, what interesting options are realistically open to him? No one would take a rematch with Marquez or Provodnikov seriously.
He hasn't earned fights against Manny Pacquiao or Timothy Bradley, and the other top guys in the junior welterweight and welterweight divisions—Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Robert Guerrero, Lucas Matthysse, Danny Garcia, etc.—are all on another network with a different promoter, which takes them off the table.
A third and final fight between Alvarado and Rios makes a lot of sense for both fighters.
The winner would likely get a chance at another big fight, while the loser would probably be done as a major contender.
He fought Rod Salka; need I say more?
Mauricio Herrera turned out to be a tougher opponent than most expected, but even he was not deserving of the title shot at the time he fought Danny Garcia. While I didn't like the opponent choice for a major champion, at least Herrera had been a competitive fighter with some accomplishment.
Along with many others, I thought Garcia lost the fight to Herrera but received a gift decision, so that's another reason to put him on this list.
Scheduling a match against Salka was a joke and an insult to boxing fans.
How bad was it? It was so bad that the sanctioning bodies for the belts held by Garcia refused to endorse it as a title fight. They turned down money, which says it all right there.
The situation really is a shame because until this year Garcia had taken on many tough opponents and beaten almost all of them in impressive fashion. I don't blame Garcia completely because I don't believe he has been picking his opponents. However, it's his career, so he could have insisted on tougher competition.
As is the case with most bad fights that fans have no interest in seeing, the fight against Salka was a result of his manager Al Haymon knowing that he could play the system. Why expose Garcia to risk in a tough title fight when you can get comparable money for fighting a cupcake?
Bottom line: 2014 has been a complete waste of one year of Garcia's prime. He's still young, but boxing fans were robbed of some big fights that could have been made.
Fights against Adrien Broner, Lamont Peterson and even a rematch with Lucas Matthysse would excite every boxing fan and should be easy to make considering they share the same manager and TV network.
Instead, we were handed rotten apples and were sold that we were actually eating apple pie.
Hopefully, Garcia will assert himself more into the matchmaking going forward, so our $15 dollars per month or whatever it is for Showtime isn't wasted on terrible matchups.
Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin is an extremely talented fighter and deserving of his spot near the top of the middleweight division with his perfect 31-0 career record. However, he has failed to elevate his career or popularity in 2014 so far.
Fans often criticize one of the other middleweight champions—Gennady Golovkin—for not taking on the best competition possible, but go to Boxrec.com and check out the list of opponents for both Golovkin and Quillin; Kid Chocolate has taken on much softer competition recently.
That trend of soft touches continued in his only fight so far of 2014 against an overmatched Lukas Konecny, who was unranked by Ring Magazine. Quillin won in a blowout decision—119-109, 119-109, 120-108—but failed to impress with what was a boring match against an opponent who had not earned the title shot.
Little chance exists for Quillin to make a unification fight to salvage his 2014 campaign because one champion—Sam Soliman—already has a fight scheduled for the fall and the other two—Miguel Cotto and Golovkin—are either joined with HBO or Top Rank who refuse to work with Quillin's manager Al Haymon.
Quillin is a supremely talented fighter, but the current climate of boxing politics has made it very difficult for him to fight other top competition in the division. The reasons why his 2014 year has been down aren't entirely his fault, but regardless, the result is the same.
This one is obvious: You can't make the most of the year while doing all of your fighting in the courtroom instead of in the ring.
Andre Ward is without a doubt one of the best three fighters in the world, but he is currently wasting the prime of his career by fighting a losing battle against his manager.
You know the saying "Pick your battles"?
Basically, it means that some battles or arguments are over so little that it's better to let them go and use your capital and energy toward winning things that are more important.
That saying applies perfectly to Ward's situation.
Ward has already lost two rounds of court battles but is now gearing up for another fight. It appears that he isn't going to win this battle, and what makes the way he's handled it even worse is that if he had just sucked it up and kept fighting, his contract would nearly be over.
Plus, he'd have more money in his pocket from the fights that could have been made.
Instead, when courts continue to rule in favor of his manager Dan Goossen, they also agree that the contract in question should be extended because of Ward's inactivity.
This is just a guess, but if Ward fought more often, that would possibly speed up the expiration of the contract, which could be viewed by number of fights and not necessarily by number of years.
He's not an old fighter in the last year of his career; in my opinion, he would have been better off finishing out the contract and then moving on instead of wasting his prime.
I hope it works out for him in the end, but in the meantime he's missing out on paydays in the ring, and the fans are missing out on watching one of the best in the world in action.
Big potential fights await him with possibly Gennady Golovkin moving up in weight, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at 168 pounds or Ward going up in weight to face Sergey Kovalev—after the Kovalev vs. Bernard Hopkins fight, of course.
Those potential fights and everything else are on hold and will remain so until he stops chasing his tail with the court battles. Ward has yet to fight in 2014, and his last fight came against an overmatched opponent; more than just 2014 has been bad for Ward.
Adonis Stevenson has not made many fans during 2014.
First, he ran off to join Al Haymon and Showtime, which killed the fight that fans wanted to see against Sergey Kovalev.
Second, he got knocked down and had to cling on for victory in his last fight against Andrzej Fonfara.
Lastly, the lawsuit resulting from him running to Haymon has caused him to be inactive, including missing out on a match with fellow light heavyweight titleholder Bernard Hopkins.
If this was baseball, Stevenson would have already struck out for this year.
Missing out on two potential megafights and underperforming against an inferior opponent have made 2014 a year he'll likely want to forget. Especially in comparison to Stevenson's 2013 when his four knockout victories made him one of the biggest stories and quickest-rising fighters in the sport.
So Stevenson's 9/27 date is off because no suitable opponent. That's what happens when duck Kovalev and BHop fights Kovalev instead. Karma.— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) August 15, 2014
At this point, there's little chance of salvaging the year for Stevenson. Fights with both Kovalev and Hopkins are obviously off the table in 2014, and other potential opponents like Andre Ward and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. have their own issues keeping them out of the ring on top of TV network roadblocks.