The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of October 25

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2015

The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of October 25

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Terence Crawford impressively stopped Dierry Jean on Saturday night in his backyard of Omaha, Nebraska, but did that performance position the undefeated rising star for a shot at one of the sport's premier attractions next year?

    We'll take a look at that rumor and the possible pros and cons.

    Next we move on to the fallout from Gennady Golovkin's first pay-per-view appearance, including how many people bought it and whether or not Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is backtracking on his desire to face the Kazakh power-punching machine.

    Finally, we take a look at the big win Al Haymon and Premier Boxing Champions scored this week in their ongoing legal battle with Bob Arum's Top Rank.

    These are the hottest boxing storylines for the week.

Did Terence Crawford Earn a Manny Pacquiao Fight?

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    This question is both more and less complicated than it seems.

    Crawford is a phenomenal talent. He's patient in the ring, plotting two or three steps ahead of his opponent. He's diverse, making the type of adjustments that show he has an elite boxing IQ. And he's mean when he gets his foe in any sort of trouble. He can box, move and finish—three tremendous characteristics to possess.

    He dominated Jean on Saturday night for nearly 10 one-sided rounds before referee Tony Weeks decided he'd seen enough to pull the plug on a fight that was never really competitive. 

    So, on measures of pure talent alone, Crawford not only earned a big fight, which in this case would be a challenge of Manny Pacquiao in the Filipino's last fight on April 9, per Dan Rafael of ESPN, but deserves consideration at or near the top of the pound-for-pound list.

    A match with Pacquiao could be a "passing the torch" moment.

    The question gets a bit more muddled when we think about accomplishments.

    Earning a fight against Pacquiao (at least one that can be sold to the boxing public) requires a lot of heavy lifting, and it's just not certain that the Omaha native has done enough in the eyes of mainstream fans to be considered worthy of such an assignment. 

    Crawford was the 2014 Fighter of the Year after winning a world championship (in a tough road assignment in Scotland) and impressively defending against a pair of top contenders. But he hasn't really capitalized on that momentum, fighting only twice this year against opponents (fair or not) who just weren't exciting.

    That makes throwing him in there with Pacquiao a risk, from both a financial and experience standpoint. 

    This is one of those rare circumstances in boxing where you could legitimately argue it either way and still be right.

What Can We Make of GGG's PPV Numbers?

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    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    Rafael reported late last week that Golovkin's PPV debut (a dominant ninth-round stoppage over David Lemieux) generated just north of 150,000 buys. That number, per GGG's promoter Tom Loeffler, was what all sides were planning on to make sure the financials worked for both fighters.

    We can assess these results a couple of different ways.

    When viewed in the vein of fighters such as Floyd Mayweather Jr. (who often broke more than one million) and Manny Pacquiao (a long-standing international superstar), they look paltry. Mayweather generated somewhere in the neighborhood of 400,000-550,000 in a terrible matchup against Andre Berto this past September. 

    But becoming a big PPV star doesn't happen overnight, something Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe emphasized on his Twitter feed (h/t Scott Chris of Bad Left Hook).

    Ellerbe rightly pointed out that it takes "years" and that "few have succeeded" in transitioning to PPV stardom.

    GGG was making his first PPV appearance against an opponent who, while solid and dangerous, didn't carry a ton of cache in the American market. When looked upon that way the numbers are definitely a solid starting point for a fighter who is looking to prove his marketability as boxing's next big sensation. 

    Golovkin and Lemieux packed over 20,000 into New York City's famed Madison Square Garden, something not many fighters can accomplish, and it was even more impressive given the lack of a built-in fanbase for either fighter in the city. 

    So, what do we make of it?

    There are definitely a lot of positives here for GGG and his handlers. There remains some work to do, yes, but this one should go into the win column as a solid building block.

Is Canelo Backtracking on Facing Golovkin?

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Canelo has made no secret that he doesn't intend on ducking any challenge on what he hopes will be a path to the top of the boxing world, but it seems an anticipated bout with Golovkin, should the Mexican sensation get by Miguel Cotto next month, may need to wait.

    Alvarez, who will face Cotto for the lineal and WBC Middleweight Championship on November 21 in Las Vegas at a catchweight of 155 pounds, is willing to face the Kazakh destroyer but not at the full middleweight limit, per Edward Chaykovsky of Boxing Scene.

    He'll fight him, but it'll have to be at 155 pounds, something Golovkin and his team have rejected previously.

    Canelo, like Cotto, emphasized that neither of them is a true middleweight, and that it'll take time for his body to fully develop before he can take the fight at middleweight, which will happen "when the time comes."

    The WBC, which recognizes GGG as its interim beltholder, reiterated last week the winner of Cotto-Canelo will not be allowed a voluntary defense before having to face Golovkin. That's intended to place some pressure on all sides to make the fight, and it's a positive step, but there is no guarantee it will work.

    Both Cotto and Canelo are big enough stars that the belts aren't the be all and end all (they'll be fine without them), so they could just vacate if terms aren't to their liking or other fights arise. 

    Of course that's a terrible look, especially for a fighter who has staked his reputation on taking on the toughest challenges, even when the risk outweighed the reward, but it might be where we end up if neither side backs down.

    Or if Cotto winds up making these plans irrelevant by winning what is truly a 50-50 fight.

Is Top Rank's Lawsuit Against Al Haymon Dead?

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    It wasn't a huge surprise that Top Rank filed suit against Haymon and his Premier Boxing Champions series this past July (Arum and Haymon despise each other). Top Rank alleged, among other things, that Haymon was violating antitrust laws by creating a boxing monopoly and violating the Muhammad Ali Act, which bans managers from serving as promoters. 

    Managers but not promoters have a fiduciary duty to their clients, and that creates a conflict of interest. Top Rank's suit alleged that Haymon was acting in both capacities (in violation of the law) through a series of what it called "sham" promoters who did Haymon's bidding as a shield to the law.

    Per Rafael, Top Rank's suit took a big hit Friday when Judge John H. Walter threw out the antitrust portion and dismissed Waddell & Reed, the Kansas City-based investment firm that has bankrolled Haymon's operation, from the proceedings.

    The silver lining, if any, for Arum's company is that the judge did allow for an October 30 deadline for an amended complaint, which provides further proof of claims, to be submitted.

    Let's be clear.

    The lawsuit isn't over, even with the antitrust portion out of play, at least for now. But this certainly complicates things for Arum and company. 

Will Jennings vs. Ortiz Separate the Pretenders from the Contenders?

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    TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Getty Images

    Jennings last appeared in the ring with a spirited performance in a loss to undisputed heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko this past April in Madison Square Garden. He'll face undefeated Cuban power puncher Luis Ortiz on December 19 at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York, on HBO.

    Ortiz last appeared on the undercard of GGG-Lemieux, knocking out Matias Ariel Vidondo in the third round to capture the interim WBA Heavyweight Championship (seriously, the WBA gives out belts like candy on Halloween), a largely meaningless trinket.

    Both Jennings and Ortiz represent some of the new, exciting talent in the heavyweight division. The two men couldn't be more different when it comes to style, but they'll each have a huge opportunity to establish themselves among the type of contenders the division has lacked in recent years but seems to once again be developing.

    Klitschko has been the cream of the crop for the better part of a decade, but there hasn't existed this level of depth below him in quite some time. The winner of this fight takes a huge step forward toward separating himself from the pack and attaining true contender status.


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