The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of August 9
So much to do and so little time.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. finally ended speculation about his next fight by announcing via his Instagram account that he'd defend his welterweight championships against former champ Andre Berto on September 12 in Las Vegas.
It's the air coming out of the balloon.
You're going to have to search hard for boxing fans (differentiated from fans of Floyd and his out-of-ring persona and exploits) who are thrilled about this contest, particularly given it will take place on Showtime pay-per-view rather than free television.
Are the fans right to feel (for lack of a better word) screwed?
And does the decent undercard make this a PPV-worthy event?
Next, we turn to the growing number of mismatches on Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions, speculate on why Artur Beterbiev turned down a clash with Sergey Kovalev after calling him out and give the latest on Adrien Broner.
These are the hottest boxing storylines for the week!
What's Up with These PBC Matchups Lately?
Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions made an immediate splash by placing a solid welterweight showdown in the main event of its inaugural show on CBS in March. And let's be realistic, for all the criticisms levied at the series (league? promotion?), Keith Thurman vs. Robert Guerrero, Danny Garcia vs. Lamont Peterson and Adrien Broner vs. Shawn Porter have all been cable-quality fights on free television.
So there has been some good—a good amount of it even.
But there's also been plenty of bad, and, unfortunately for the fans, it seems (at present) to only be getting worse.
PBC's fall fight lineup (at least that part announced as of this writing) is absolutely pitiful, featuring big-name fighters in gross mismatches that do nothing for the fighters, the fans or the sport as a whole.
Adonis Stevenson defends his light heavyweight title against club fighter Tommy Karpency on September 11 in Toronto in a fight that is sure to continue the running joke that has been his reign as the 175-pound division's kingpin.
And recently announced, per Carlos Boogs of Boxing Scene, Peter Quillin will face Australian unknown Michael Zerafa on September 12 at Foxwoods in Connecticut. That matchup is so bad, so putrid, that Bad Left Hook's Tom Craze reports on Twitter that one prominent gambling site has installed Zerafa as a massive 200-1 underdog.
That's not a fight, it's an execution—and nobody, absolutely nobody wins from that.
The problem is that too often PBC hasn't matched A-fighter against A-fighter or even A-fighter against solid B-fighter. It's matching A-fighters against guys who have absolutely no business in the ring with them in dangerous mismatches.
Stevenson vs. Karpency and Quillin vs. Zerafa are basically the equivalent of when a top-10 college football team schedules Cupcake U. for opening weekend in a game so grotesquely mismatched that nobody will even take money on the underdog.
Come on, PBC—you can do better than this!
Are Fans Right to Be Upset with Mayweather vs. Berto?
Leonard Ellerbe might be the only guy smiling about this fight.
Mayweather has long maintained that fight No. 49 of his future Hall of Fame career would be the last one, and he chose to go out with an absolute sham of a mismatch against long-faded former world champion Andre Berto.
Berto was once a hot-shot prospect who came out of the 2004 Olympics and won his first 27 professional fights en route to a world championship. But he's just 3-3 in his last six contests (two of those losses coming against vanquished Mayweather foes Robert Guerrero and Victor Ortiz and the other to 10-loss gatekeeper Jesus Soto Karass) and has no business competing on this level.
Almost as ludicrous as this fight taking place are some of the arguments being made by supporters (both on and off the payroll) in support of Mayweather vs. Berto being the last (if you believe that) fight from the top draw in boxing's long history.
Showtime Sports executive vice president Stephen Espinoza (his job being to defend and sell the fight) called Berto a fighter who "never lacked for action," per Edward Chaykovsky of Boxing Scene.
That's a stunningly low standard, but, again, Espinoza's job is to sell this, whatever his personal feelings may or may not be.
Mayweather was even more ridiculous in his praise of Berto, per Chaykovsky: "When you look at the two divisions I fight in, there's one man who stands all alone. I looked at the division and asked who's always in a tough exciting fight, who has quick hands and who always gives it 100 percent, it was Andre Berto."
In a division with Thurman, Porter, Amir Khan, Kell Brook and (on the other side of the fence) Timothy Bradley, Berto was the guy who stood out? Really?
You're sure that's the selling point you want for this fight?
Does the Undercard Make Mayweather vs. Berto PPV-Worthy?
Anyone else not absolutely wiping the drool off their shoes at the Mayweather vs. Berto undercard?
That seems to be one of the main selling points for placing this fight on PPV (at the low price of $65 bucks in standard definition and likely $75 in HD) and will have to draw in some fans to help avoid a box-office disaster.
You can pretty much say that the record set by Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in May (over 4.4 million PPV buys) is safe for another day.
The undercard is decent (by the standard of today's PPV undercards) but really nothing spectacular.
Badou Jack will defend the WBC Super Middleweight Championship he won from Anthony Dirrell against former two-time title challenger George Groves. That's an interesting fight and a solid co-feature on a Showtime card, yes, but is it something that makes you buy a PPV?
Not to these eyes.
Rocky Martinez and Orlando Salido engaged in an under-the-radar war (won by Martinez) earlier this year, and they'll do it again on September 12.
No boxing fan (hardcore or casual) will complain about seeing that fight again, but let's be a bit skeptical. Both of these guys are warriors, but they have been through the wringer more than their share of times. The thing about rematches of wars is that they often fail to live up to the first fight and often, well, stink.
You just never know when the next fight will be the one where a fighter gets old, and that's particularly true when you have a pair of guys who have gone to war more times than is likely healthy.
Jack vs. Groves and Martinez vs. Salido are two solid fights, but does anyone realistically believe they'll be the decisive factor on whether or not you shell out your hard-earned cash to see a total mismatch in the main event?
Why Did Artur Beterbiev Turn Down Sergey Kovalev?
Kovalev's promoter Kathy Duva at Main Events wasted little time in offering the next crack at her main charge to budding star and Krusher conqueror (in the amateurs) Beterbiev for a late November date in Moscow.
That matchup, between a pair of big punchers with animosity between them, in their home country, would've been intriguing, to say the least. But alas, it's not going to happen.
Duva made an honest and fair offer to Beterbiev, per Dan Rafael of ESPN, one which his promoter, Yvon Michel, acknowledged as such in an email, but they've decided to decline. Beterbiev would've earned a career-high payday of $500,000 plus 25 percent of Canadian PPV (where Beterbiev is based) and closed-circuit revenues.
Beterbiev will instead participate in an IBF eliminator bout to become the mandatory challenger to...
How and why does this make sense?
Only when viewed through Haymon-colored glasses.
Michel promotes Beterbiev, but you don't need to think hard about who pulls the strings in that operation. Haymon makes all the final decisions, and electing not to face Kovalev at this time makes perfect sense within his business mindset.
If Beterbiev becomes the mandatory (which seems likely), then somewhere down the road Haymon/Michel would be in position to force a purse bid. With the huge sums of investor money buoying PBC, it's likely that Haymon and Co. would be able to win that bid and force Kovalev to choose between a pair of bad options, at least for him.
He would either need to vacate his IBF title or get HBO to agree to allow him to break his contract and fight off the network. The latter is unlikely.
That might be a smart business choice for the Haymon side of the aisle, but whether or not it's good for boxing—depriving the fans of an exciting matchup to take the path of least resistance—is a whole different question.
What's Next for Adrien Broner?
The last time Broner graced the world with his presence in a boxing ring, he turned in a career-worst performance, clutching, grabbing, fouling and clowning his way to a clear decision loss to former world champion and fellow Ohioan Shawn Porter.
Broner is just 3-2 over his last five contests (with both losses coming against big-name opponents and all three wins over second-tier fighters), but he remains a name, albeit polarizing. Therefore, it's no surprise that his next bout will likely be for a world championship.
Rick Reeno of Boxing Scene reports that a deal is close to being finalized for Broner to meet former 140-pound titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev for the "regular" WBA Junior Welterweight Championship in October.
Allakhverdiev dropped that title to Jessie Vargas (who vacated to move up and face Tim Bradley) in a close fight last April. He hasn't fought since and will be out of the ring for 18 months by the time of the fight.
There's a temptation to dismiss this as just a transparent attempt to get a fourth world-title belt around Broner's waist (which will become a full title when Danny Garcia vacates), but with The Problem's cavalier attitude toward the sport, we just never know.
We can hope that his days of taking things for granted are over, but humility has never been Broner's strong suit.