Black Friday Shopping Lists for Boxing's Top Fighters
The official kickoff to the holiday season (which seems to have started six months ago) is upon us.
Black Friday is the traditional day when stores open early and consumers stand in line for hours, fighting their way through throngs of like-minded customers hoping to score big savings on televisions, iPads and video game systems.
So that got us to thinking.
What would some of the biggest stars in boxing put on their shopping lists this Black Friday?
Let's take a look-see and find out.
Terence Crawford: A Plane Ticket
Terence Crawford is one of the fastest-rising stars in boxing. He captured the WBO lightweight championship in 2014 before moving up in weight to capture the sanctioning body's vacant 140-pound title with a knockout of Thomas Dulorme in April.
Why He Needs a Plane Ticket
We can all acknowledge that Crawford has elite-level skills and the potential to one day not just sit on the P4P ranks, but reign atop them as the best fighter in the sport. But he only fought twice this past year (neither against particularly exciting foes) and needs to really step it up if he wants to develop the mainstream recognition that makes him an attractive foe for a guy like Pacquiao.
Crawford has done a tremendous job of building up a loyal and boisterous fanbase in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, (and it's great to bring boxing to nontraditional markets) with three of his last four fights coming in the Midwestern locale, but it's time he branch out.
True boxing stardom comes from building a marketable fighter who can sell in the bigger markets, and it's time for Crawford to prove he can be that type of guy.
Guillermo Rigondeaux: A Case of Red Bull
Guillermo Rigondeaux has long been a boxing purists' dream and a casual fan's nightmare. His technical proficiency is unmatched in the sport (his technique and posture are literally perfect) and he's undefeated, a former unified world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist. Few fighters possess the type of skill and accolades of the Cuban champion.
Why He Needs a Case of Red Bull
To wake up the fans in the audience who are put to sleep by his highly technical and (sorry, purists) terribly boring style in the ring. Come to think of it, perhaps it's Rigondeaux who needs the Red Bull.
Rigo was dumped by HBO after a dreadful win over Joseph Agbeko late in 2013 and spent the next two years struggling to get any fights (forget meaningful ones) despite holding two world titles at super bantamweight. He overcame a hard knockdown and tons of adversity to stop Hisashi Amagasa in Japan to close out 2014 before being stripped of his titles and signing on with Roc Nation Sports.
Roc Nation probably regrets that decision already after Rigo, back on HBO pay-per-view, landed single digits in most rounds against overmatched Drian Francisco, carrying him to the final bell in a putrid decision win. How you can fail to show any energy, given that opportunity, boggles the mind.
Gennady Golovkin: 'The Terminator' on Blu-Ray
Gennady Golovkin went from virtually unknown middleweight beltholder to the division's top fighter and one of boxing's biggest stars in just over three years. It's certainly easier to do that when you have the backing of HBO and a knockout streak that sits at 21 and counting, but GGG is the real deal and proved it by bludgeoning David Lemieux into bloody submission in October at Madison Square Garden.
Why He Needs The Terminator on Blu-ray
You can't exactly prove that Golovkin isn't a Terminator sent back through time by Skynet to kill John Connor and aid its ultimate goal of enslaving and destroying the human race, can you? No, you can't.
Golovkin is an odd case. When you sit down and talk with him before or after a fight, he's nothing if not cordial, smiling, joking and just enjoying life and having a good time. But when the Kazakh champion steps into the ring it's like something hardwired into his brain comes alive and turns him into a vicious destroyer seeking to eliminate whatever unfortunate soul stands before him.
Maybe by settling in to watch this flick, Golovkin can finally become aware of what he really is and...oh, wait, that wouldn't be very good for the rest of us. Nevermind.
Canelo Alvarez: Rosetta Stone
Canelo Alvarez just beat Miguel Cotto to capture the world middleweight championship and quite possibly establish himself as boxing's most marketable and exciting young star. With just one defeat in 48 professional bouts, the cinnamon-haired heartthrob finds himself one of the few fighters in boxing history to have the type of potential and appeal that transcends boxing.
Why He Needs Rosetta Stone
Before anyone gets in a tizzy and makes this an issue of race or discrimination, it's not. Not even a little bit. Canelo has been working very hard at improving his English speaking, even flexing his muscles and telling reporters "I'm ready" to fight Golovkin in English at the post-fight presser last Saturday. That's going to become a necessary skill for a fighter who has the desire and potential to break down barriers in this industry.
Call it what you will, but Canelo will develop true crossover appeal and open himself to entire new markets of fans when he's able to communicate effectively in both Spanish and English. His charisma and good looks are endorsement and marketability gold, so that's not discriminatory, it's just a business reality.
Andre Ward: 'The Art of the Deal'
Andre Ward is one of the best pure boxers to come around in some time. He's the consummate chess player, able to think three and four steps ahead of his opponent in the ring and make them pay for mistakes they haven't even made yet. Unfortunately, his in-ring career has sputtered in recent years due to lawsuits, injuries and poor business decisions.
He recently signed on with Roc Nation Sports and signed an exclusive multifight deal with HBO, culminating in a challenge of Sergey Kovalev late next year.
Why He Needs The Art of the Deal:
Ward's in-ring brilliance has unfortunately been paired with a stunning ineptitude when it comes to the management and progression of his career. He won the Super Six tournament to claim the undisputed super middleweight championship in 2011 and defeated light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson about a year later, but he's done nothing of note since.
He spent a good portion of his prime fighting years doing battle in court rather than the ring, and despite what his handlers seem to think, and irregardless of his phenomenal in-ring talents, Ward has never really achieved much in the way of marketability. He's definitely a top fighter, but a star? Only if you have a very liberal definition.
And you probably don't if you're reading The Art of the Deal.
Roman Gonzalez: A Couple of Big Macs
Roman Gonzalez took the spot atop boxing's mythical P4P mountain shortly after Floyd Mayweather retired and vacated his throne. The Nicaraguan three-weight champion emphatically heralded his arrival atop the ranks with a blistering ninth-round stoppage of multi-time world champion Brian Viloria on the Golovkin-Lemieux PPV undercard.
Why He Needs a Couple of Big Macs
Gonzalez has won world titles at minimumweight, junior flyweight and flyweight, beating a who's who of top fighters in the lower weight classes. There are attractive matches for him in his current weight class (a rematch with Juan Francisco Estrada would be dynamite), but the best fight lurks just a division above at super flyweight.
That's where 22-year-old Japanese prodigy Naoya Inoue holds the WBO's 115-pound title. Inoue has just eight professional fights, but two world titles, including wins over former world champions Adrian Hernandez and Omar Narvaez.
A Gonzalez-Inoue matchup could prove to be one of the most exciting, and marketable, lower-weight class fights of all time. It's just a matter of time, but maybe those Big Macs could speed up the process?
Sergey Kovalev: 'Rocky IV' and Its Illogical Ending
Sergey Kovalev is the best fighter in the light heavyweight division, and, of that, there should be little to no legitimate debate. While lineal champion Adonis Stevenson was fighting the Dmitry Sukhotskys and Tommy Karpencys of the world, Kovalev knocked out former champion Jean Pascal (the first to do it) and dominated ageless wonder Bernard Hopkins to secure three-fourths of the 175-pound title.
Why He Needs Rocky IV and Its Illogical Ending
If you grew up in the 1980s, right at the tail end of the Cold War, you had to have seen Rocky IV. It was practically mandatory. By this point in the story, Rocky Balboa is forced to avenge the in-ring death of his former rival and now close friend Apollo Creed at the hands of a cold and unfeeling Russian superhuman named Ivan Drago. Balboa eventually chops down wood and Drago for an ending that both then and now just feels a tad illogical.
Kovalev draws obvious parallels to Drago. Both are Russian, punch like they have nuclear missiles in their hands and possess a demeanor toward their work that almost appears detached ("if he dies, he dies") and a tad disconcerting.
The Krusher, then, doesn't need this movie to prove anything to himself, but to distribute it to possible foes and give them hope that a date with big, mean Sergey might not end according to the script. Maybe then he'll be able to finally entice Adonis Stevenson into a long overdue fight.
Wladimir Klitschko: A Joker Costume
Where do we begin?
Wladimir Klitschko has held at least a share of the heavyweight title since his 2006 win over Chris Byrd, and his 18 consecutive defenses are second all-time behind Joe Louis, one of the greatest fighters (not just heavyweights) to ever step into the ring. He faces, perhaps, his toughest challenge yet Saturday night when he defends his crown against Tyson Fury in Germany.
Why He Needs a Joker Costume
How could we forget that time when Fury showed up to a press conference to hype their heavyweight title showdown wearing a Batman costume? It was brash, over the top or just plain weird (take your pick), but it gave us a great idea.
Why not have Wlad walk down to the ring Saturday night in a full Joker costume? That would be an interesting mind game to play on a challenger known for his skill in just that type of contest. It'll never happen since Wlad is such a serious guy, but admit it, you'd laugh.
Timothy Bradley: Lil Wayne's "Fireman"
Timothy Bradley is a four-time world champion between the junior welterweight and welterweight divisions, owns a much-disputed decision victory over Pacquiao and recently began working under veteran firebrand trainer Teddy Atlas. He was looking dominant and rejuvenated in stopping the rugged Brandon Rios earlier this month.
Why He Needs Lil Wayne's "Fireman:"
Bradley's win over Rios was interesting for a number of reasons. There was the ease with which he stared down a usually tough and durable foe, his reinvigorated jab and improved footwork and the epic motivational speech Atlas unleashed in the corner between Rounds 7 and 8. You can watch the rant right here.
"We are firemen," Atlas screamed in the way only he can. "The heat doesn't bother us. We live in the heat!"
And it just goes on from there, so this particular song seems like a perfect fit for his next ring walk.
Manny Pacquiao: An Apple Watch
Pacquiao is one of the biggest stars in boxing history. He's won world championships in eight weight divisions and recently dropped a decision in the most lucrative fight in boxing history against Mayweather. There have been few (if any) larger international boxing stars than the Filipino, who will reportedly fight his last match in the first half of 2016.
Why He Needs an Apple Watch
Organization is key when you have your hand in as many cookie jars as Pacquiao currently does.
He's a multi-time world champion boxer, a player/coach for Kia Sorento, a Filipino professional basketball team, and a member of the House of Representatives of his native Philippines. Not to mention his various charitable responsibilities. Talk about having a lot of demanding activities on your plate.
We're hoping that an Apple Watch will help Manny add some order to the chaos that must be his life as he prepares for the final fight of his Hall of Fame career.