The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of October 4
Adrien Broner returned to the ring with an expected thrashing of Khabib Allakhverdiev on Saturday night in his hometown of Cincinnati to become the second youngest fighter to win world championships in four weight divisions.
We can rightly quibble about the validity of this particular trinket (since the WBA handed him a "vacant" belt despite recognizing Jose Benavidez as its interim champion), but the win came as expected and without any real difficulty.
But did we learn anything about Broner?
That's the question we ponder.
Next, we move to Viktor Postol's coming-out-party win over Lucas Matthysse, which came by knockout.
And then we ponder the things coming ahead, including...what's next for Manny Pacquiao now that Matthysse is off the table, whether the continued ratings drops for Premier Boxing Champions are a cause for concern and why you should be excited for Danny Jacobs vs. Peter Quillin.
These are the hottest boxing storylines for the first full week of October.
What's Changed for Adrien Broner?
Broner imposed a virtual media blackout on himself ahead of his fight with Khabib Allakhverdiev on Saturday night in his hometown of Cincinnati, claiming in his lone interview (with Showtime) that he was a new man who knew things needed to change to revitalize his sagging career.
Step one seemed to play out as best as he hoped.
Broner was too fast and too good for Allakhverdiev, whose only chance seemed to come if he pushed the pace, but he seemed content to follow his man around and get pot-shotted in the majority of rounds. The referee warned the Russian's corner several times that he would stop the fight if the punishment (which worsened in the later rounds) continued, but his quick hook with 40 or so seconds left in the fight was debatable.
Still, there was no controversy whatsoever. Broner was in total command and headed to a victory. How he got there was really of no consequence given his dominant performance.
But, to go against some of the prevailing opinion here, who cares?
We know Broner has the talent to beat up guys like Allakhverdiev any night of the week, any day of the year. That's never been his problem in the past. The problem for The Problem has always been guys on the next couple of rungs up the ladder.
And his post-fight promise to only fight the guys he wants to fight (read: guys who can't challenge him) and call out of Ashley Theophane?
Theophane is 35 years old, and the signature performance of his career was a narrow loss to Danny Garcia (who was a little-known fighter at the time) that came over five years ago. He's never beaten a top-level foe, and in a division brimming with talent, that would be an inexcusable fight for a young man who still fashions himself as "About Billions."
And none of that even references the classless joke with which he closed the show.
Has Viktor Postol Arrived?
Postol was a smart man's pick to upset Matthysse on Saturday night, but if you took an honest poll of those who picked him to win and asked how confident they were, you'd get more than a few people hedging their bets.
It turns out they didn't have to.
The Iceman, who waited for nearly a year-and-a-half for the opportunity at a world title after Danny Garcia paid him step-aside money as mandatory challenger to allow him to face Lamont Peterson instead, outboxed and outpunched (who saw that coming?) Matthysse for an upset 10th-round knockout that netted him the vacant WBC Junior Welterweight Championship.
Postol used a considerable five-inch height advantage to keep Matthysse at distance with the jab and attacked him to the body to zap the Argentine's vaunted punching power. Postol held quite a bit in the early rounds but cut that out once referee Jack Reiss issued a stern warning.
The end came in Round 10 when Postol connected with a laser right hand to the left eye that sent Matthysse down to a knee. He never attempted to get up and took the count, which ended the fight.
The Argentine claimed in the ring after the fight that he heard something pop in his eye, which made him decide enough was enough and that protecting his eye was more important.
Postol's win is obviously a significant upset, given that he wasn't well known by mainstream fans and faced one of the three or four most feared punchers in boxing, and it now propels him near the top of the crowded 140-pound ranks.
A matchup with Terence Crawford, should he get by Dierry Jean later this month, seems a logical next step to help clear up some of that logjam.
What Next for Manny Pacquiao?
Pacquiao, long one of boxing's premier pound-for-pound attractions, seems to have no shortage of potentially attractive suitors for his scheduled return to the ring early next year.
ESPN reports that the Filipino icon, on the shelf since losing a lackluster decision to longtime rival Floyd Mayweather Jr. and then subsequently requiring surgery on a torn shoulder, will return as soon as February and as late as the second week of April next year.
Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum told Gareth A. Davis of the Telegraph (h/t ESPN) that Amir Khan, long in search of a big fight (any big fight) is a possibility and that he's negotiated with the Bolton fighter's team.
Khan has become almost a sideshow in recent years with his one-sided pursuit of retired (as of now) pound-for-pound king Mayweather. He tried and tried and tried to land the fight, but he never really got close and always ended up like Charlie Brown when Lucy pulled the football away at the last second.
And it seemed, before Saturday night, that he might have been headed toward another disappointment.
Per Sky Sports, Arum seemed to favor Matthysse for the fight, but that's definitely a moot point now after the Argentine's stunning knockout loss to Postol.
As it turns out, other than Postol himself, Khan might well have been the big winner of Saturday night, as he now seems more likely than ever before to land the big fight that's eluded him.
Postol also would seem to be a candidate, along with Terence Crawford. The two could wind up meeting with the winner (a unified champion by then) possibly advancing to face Pac-Man in a significant bout later in the year.
What say you, fans?
Are PBC's Ratings Cause for Concern?
ESPN's Dan Rafael reported earlier this week that Deontay Wilder's win over unknown French challenger Johann Duhaupas last Saturday night was the least-viewed telecast of the series on NBC since its debut in March of this year.
Wilder's thrashing of Duhaupas drew in an average of 2.2 million viewers and peaked at 3 million during the main event. The lowest prior rating received by PBC on NBC was Shawn Porter's unanimous-decision win over Adrien Broner, which drew in 2.33 million viewers.
The general trend has been a downward one since Keith Thurman and Robert Guerrero opened the show by drawing over 3 million viewers.
Obviously, a lot of factors are at play here, but it does represent a legitimate cause for concern.
When Haymon launched the series early this year, he did it with hundreds of millions of dollars of investor money. PBC currently exists as a time-buy program, which means it pays the networks for time slots and not the other way around.
PBC exists because it pays to exist.
That makes these numbers a bit troubling, particularly if the downward trend continues.
Yes, PBC was competing against other prime-time programming, and yes, the matchup wasn't one that got many fans' juices flowing (PBC has nobody to blame but itself on that one), but without numbers, the long-term viability of the series comes into question.
Without ratings and advertising revenue, it would become difficult for PBC to market and sell itself as a viable business venture for the networks—and make sure those checks start flowing into its coffers and not out.
Miracle Man Meet Kid Chocolate
This one has been in the works for some time now.
Jacobs, the Miracle Man out of Brooklyn who survived a life-threatening bout with cancer and became the first cancer survivor to capture a world championship, will defend his WBA Middleweight Championship against former titlist Quillin on December 5 at the Barclays Center on Showtime.
Despite being good friends, the two understand the business realities of the sport and that a bout was inevitable (from both a boxing and business standpoint) from the minute Jacobs captured his belt and Quillin vacated his rather than face an opponent he deemed unattractive.
Jacobs comes in off a wild two-round stoppage win over Sergio Mora in a fight that saw both men taste the canvas before The Latin Snake was forced to retire from the fight after landing awkwardly on a knockdown and breaking his ankle.
Quillin recently stopped complete unknown Michael Zerafa in a truly terrific mismatch on PBC that featured a world-class fighter battering a complete unknown with no chance of winning and sending him to the hospital on network television.
Yeah, that was a bad visual.
You can definitely expect that the level of competition will stiffen up considerably here.
Both Jacobs and Quillin can punch, both have roots in Brooklyn (Jacobs is from the borough and Quillin lives there), and both have a lot to prove in a middleweight division that's top-heavy.
It's a 50-50 match that should live up to the hype.