In a related article, I questioned whether HBO boxing was losing its ongoing battle with chief rival, Showtime. That can be debated. But what’s not debatable is that Showtime has really made some bold moves in the recent past and that it’s now HBO’s turn to do the same.
So what I’ve done is come up with a list of 10 fights that HBO should attempt to make in order to restore them as the top network for boxing. I’ve included locations for some of the fights and even a few undercards as well. This is because in boxing, fights are events and in the right place, with the right fight, the crowd is very much a part of event.
Allow me to warn you up front that this list doesn’t include Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. It doesn’t include that fight because it goes without saying and it has already been discussed too much for now.
Some of these fights are obvious and some not so obvious. Some may not be considered the biggest, best fights at first glance, but in the proper context would be tremendous events.
Here they are in no particular order.
Marcos Maidana vs. Brandon Rios with an undercard of Lucas Matthysse vs. Juan Urango. This fight would be difficult to make happen because of the bickering between Golden Boy and Top Rank, but it’s a can’t-miss, fan-friendly affair. Both of these men are mean fighters and neither ever takes a step backward. Throw in Matthysse vs. Urango and you’ve got a great card with fights in the hottest division in boxing.
Note: If Maidana vs. Rios can’t be accomplished, then Maidana vs. Matthysse would be an acceptable substitute.
Robert Guerrero vs. Amir Khan. This would be a scintillating matchup between two of boxing’s brightest young boxer-punchers. I know another big fight on the horizon is Khan against Tim Bradley, but I believe Guerrero and Khan to be similar in stature, skills and demeanor which would make for a great fight.
Tim Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez. Again, this isn’t a matchup that people are talking about, but they should be. For reasons similar to the ones that would make a Guerrero vs. Khan fight thrilling, I also believe a Bradley vs. Marquez match would be fun. They’re more similar in stature and in nature. With these two men, that is very important. Both of these guys want to land the last shot. Wherever Bradley would have an advantage with speed and athleticism, Marquez would make up with skill in counter-punching.
Jean Pascal vs. Tavoris Cloud with and undercard of Adrian Diacanu vs. Librado Andrade from the Bell Centre in Montreal. With this card you have four action fighters, three of which are local favorites in Montreal and a possible light heavyweight unification bout between two young, strong fighters in Pascal and Cloud. And the crowd would be amazing as it usually is in Montreal.
Nonito Donaire vs. Abner Mares with an undercard of Chris Arreola vs. Sam Peter in the Staples Center in Los Angeles. I personally believe that Mares is a star in the making and we know that Donaire is now, or should be, on everyone’s pound-for-pound list. This would be a tremendous scrap that would get better as the fight went on. Donaire would be favored, but Mares has a good chin and gets stronger the longer the fight goes. Arreola is a fan-favorite in Southern California and a fight with Sam Peter would be fun. Donaire vs. Mares is another fight that could be hard to make due to the quarrel between Top Rank and Golden Boy.
Miguel Cotto vs. Sergio Martinez. This should be an East Coast fight, but Vegas would do just fine. These are two seasoned veterans that can both box and can both punch. Like him or not, Martinez seemingly will fight anyone as will Cotto. There is talk of Cotto wanting a rematch with Margarito, which is understandable, but a fight against Martinez for the middleweight championship of the world would be intriguing.
Tomasz Adamek vs. David Haye. Both of these gentlemen could be coming off losses at the hands of the Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko respectively by the time this fight would get arranged, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get made. Both of these guys are heavyweights who can move around and box and punch. It’s actually a heavyweight fight that people would be excited to see and it probably would be a good fit for England or New York City.
Andre Berto vs. Mike Jones with an undercard of David Lemieux vs. Andy Lee in Atlantic City. In my opinion, this would probably be more of a candidate for a Boxing After Dark show, but we’d get to see Berto in with someone who would actually be considered a threat and we’d get to see the exciting Lemieux in a stiff contest with Lee.
Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa. They could make this fight for Las Vegas, New York City or Miami and it would be great. You’d have two of the sport’s best young fighters, fighting in their prime in a match that they’ve been working towards for a couple of years now. It’s a can’t-miss fight and I would bet that there would be a rematch and a possible trilogy.
Saul Alvarez vs. Alfredo Angulo in the Staples Center in Los Angeles. This fight would be an all-out war and I don’t believe that it would go the distance. These two proud Mexican fighters both can punch and take a punch. It would fill they would sell out the Staples Center in short amount of time and the crowd would be great. If Angulo doesn’t get his visa straightened out, they could have it in Mexico. Even better.
There are just a few of the fights that could be made that would help get HBO back on top. Hopefully they’re listening to the fans and understand that making better fights would do just that.
Otherwise, Showtime could legitimately be called the top boxing network.