Showtime Boxing 2013 Year in Review: Mayweather's move, Golden Boy's takeover make for healthy rivalry in U.S. scene

Al Bello

Showtime Sports had their biggest boxing year in recent memory, and though the downfall of their rivals at HBO has been greatly exaggerated, there's no arguing that for the first time in years, there's a genuine competition between the two networks.

Results

January 26
Lucas Matthysse KO-1 Mike Dallas Jr ... Jesus Soto Karass MD-10 Selcuk Aydin ... Jermell Charlo KO-8 Harry Joe Yorgey.

February 23
Ishe Smith SD-12 Cornelius Bundrage ... J'Leon Love UD-10 Derrick Findley.

March 2
Richar Abril UD-12 Sharif Bogere ... Gary Russell Jr UD-10 Vyacheslav Gusev.

Showtime's year started off with a whimper, more or less, with three cards that failed to do much more than get a little more buzz going around Matthysse, set Soto Karass on his exciting 2013 path, and put belts on Ishe Smith and Richar Abril, hardly expected to be draws for anyone. Danny Garcia and Zab Judah were originally set to meet in February, but that fight was postponed, and a Devon Alexander-Kell Brook fight was also shelved due to injuries.

April 20
Canelo Alvarez UD-12 Austin Trout ... Omar Figueroa KO-1 Abner Cotto.

And here's where they got rolling. In front a big house (40,000-plus) at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Canelo Alvarez outpointed Austin Trout to set himself up for a possible (and eventual) shot at Floyd Mayweather in September. There was some hemming and hawing about the scoring of the main event, but it wasn't so much controversial as, just, like, debatable, mostly as to whether or not Trout ever had a genuine chance given how the scores turned out in the end, and during the awful open scoring. Figueroa made another statement in the co-feature, smashing a Puerto Rican prospect.

April 27
Danny Garcia UD-12 Zab Judah ... Peter Quillin TKO-7 Fernando Guerrero ... Amir Khan UD-12 Julio Diaz.

The rescheduled Garcia-Judah fight lived up to the press conference hype, as Zab showed a side of himself we hadn't seen much over his celebrated but rocky career, fighting through adversity and pushing Garcia until the final bell. Garcia won and took down another star veteran in the process. Khan's tape delay fight with Diaz wasn't exactly impressive, but it was plenty fun to watch. Quillin-Guerrero was a wipeout mismatch.

May 4 (PPV)
Floyd Mayweather UD-12 Robert Guerrero ... Abner Mares TKO-9 Daniel Ponce De Leon ... Leo Santa Cruz TKO-5 Alexander Munoz ... J'Leon Love NC-10 Gabriel Rosado.

Mayweather's Showtime debut did not sell well, as the fight simply did not capture the public's imagination, an Guerrero was unable to convince the masses that he was any threat. Some blame was placed on Floyd for dogging the promotional build-up to the fight, too. 850,000 buys was a number floated, which Showtime refuted without offering a solid number of their own. So, again, I'll stick with the 850K that was thrown out there. The fight underperformed expectations without question. The Mares-Ponce De Leon fight was the best of the show, with an impressive showing from Abner.

May 18
Lucas Matthysse TKO-3 Lamont Peterson ... Devon Alexander RTD-7 Lee Purdy ... Shawn Porter UD-10 Phil Lo Greco.

Matthysse turned heads and dropped Danny Garcia's jaw (this is the great imagination of Garcia's ringside reaction, just go with me here) by smashing the credible Peterson in three rounds of a catchweight bout. This set up demand for Garcia-Matthysse, a fight that, like Mayweather-Canelo, was eventually made for September 14. Alexander was supposed to fight Brook, but that fell through again, and overmatched Purdy was subbed in. Lo Greco got a shot for being Paulie Malignaggi's buddy, and Shawn Porter dominated.

June 8
Marcos Maidana TKO-6 Josesito Lopez ... Erislandy Lara TKO-10 Alfredo Angulo ... Jermell Charlo UD-12 Demetrius Hopkins.

A main event that promised fireworks on paper, and delivered in the ring. Maidana outpunched Lopez in a fun fight. Lara-Angulo was compelling.

June 22
Adrien Broner SD-12 Paulie Malignaggi ... Seth Mitchell UD-12 Johnathon Banks ... Sakio Bika MD-12 Marco Antonio Periban.

Broner's much-hyped welterweight debut was nearly a disaster, but it was a headline-generating sort of fight, which Broner always manages. As we've said before, whatever he does, he stays in the news. He's got that part of the fight game down pat. Mitchell-Banks II was a complete dud, while Bika-Periban was totally fine.

July 27
Jesus Soto Karass TKO-12 Andre Berto ... Omar Figueroa UD-12 Nihito Arakawa ... Keith Thurman KO-10 Diego Chaves.

Pound-for-pound, punch-for-punch, this was easily the best U.S. TV card of 2013. Every fight was action-packed and lived up to the "Knockout Kings" branding. The only fight that went the distance should not have by rights of everything we know about the human body, but Nihito Arakawa somehow went 36 minutes getting the snot beaten out of him by Figueroa, who had to take his own shots along the way. Thurman faced some danger and stopped Chaves, while Berto tried to rally from a hole against Soto Karass and got stopped late as a result. Great card with zero "marquee" names.

August 24
Jhonny Gonzalez KO-1 Abner Mares ... Leo Santa Cruz KO-3 Victor Terrazas.

This figured to be a fun night of fights, and it was, but neither bout went as expected. Santa Cruz was the favored house fighter, but he thrashed Terrazas in a way I don't think many saw coming. And Gonzalez's knockout of the red-hot Mares was one of the bigger surprises of the year on premium cable.

September 7
Chris Arreola KO-1 Seth Mitchell ... Efrain Esquivias KO-9 Rafael Marquez.

The Seth Mitchell hype train was derailed for good in this one, the most predictable end to his story possible. They took a risk throwing him in with Arreola, and it did not pay off, as Mitchell predictably just could not handle Arreola's power or aggression. Esquivias retired (probably) Rafael Marquez in the co-feature, which itself wasn't exactly a shocker.

September 14 (PPV)
Floyd Mayweather UD-12 Canelo Alvarez ... Danny Garcia UD-12 Lucas Matthysse ... Carlos Molina SD-12 Ishe Smith ... Pablo Cesar Cano SD-10 Ashley Theophane.

Easily the biggest event of the boxing year, and revenue-wise, the biggest event of all-time, falling just short of setting a new PPV buy record to go along with PPV revenue and gate numbers. Mayweather-Canelo was a truly massive event that had the sports world talking. The fact that Garcia-Matthysse was included as a co-feature was simply a nice present for boxing fans, and Garcia was the star of the night, handling Matthysse against the odds. Molina-Smith was the expected snoozer, and the opener was a watchable fight that meant little. All in all, the event lived up to expectations, and I don't think anything other than Garcia-Matthysse went differently than the majority anticipated.

October 26
Bernard Hopkins UD-12 Karo Murat ... Peter Quillin TKO-10 Gabriel Rosado ... Deontay Wilder TKO-4 Nicolai Firtha.

Hopkins-Murat was dirty and acceptable as a fight, while Wilder showed his big power again against a game Firtha.

December 7
Paulie Malignaggi UD-12 Zab Judah ... Shawn Porter UD-12 Devon Alexander ... Erislandy Lara UD-12 Austin Trout ... Sakio Bika D-12 Anthony Dirrell.

A head-to-head night against HBO that split the audience in half, basically, which isn't always how it turns out, but this time that was the deal. The best fight of the show was probably Bika-Dirrell, which started fast and wound down late, but Malignaggi-Judah and Porter-Alexander were both decent enough. Lara-Trout was a stinker, but Lara showed his class in totally dominating Trout.

December 14
Marcos Maidana UD-12 Adrien Broner ... Keith Thurman TKO-9 Jesus Soto Karass ... Leo Santa Cruz UD-12 Cesar Seda ... Beibut Shumenov TKO-3 Tamas Kovacs.

Showtime ended the year on a high note with arguably the year's most noteworthy upset, as Superstar of the Future Adrien Broner was rocked, wobbled, dropped, and defeated by Marcos Maidana, who imposed his will and exposed the limitations of the overhyped Broner, at least at 147 pounds. Thurman's win over Soto Karass set him up as potentially the next overhyped welterweight of the future (or a real deal, it's always hard to tell), while Santa Cruz won convincingly in his usual fun fight, and Shumenov nailed his audition to face Hopkins.

Five Best Fights

5. Marcos Maidana vs Adrien Broner (December 14)

In the moment, the upset and atmosphere led to talk of this being a Fight of the Year contender, but it realistically fell short of that. On the one hand, much of the fight was ugly, chippy, and dirty. On the other hand, atmosphere should count when figuring the quality of a fight, and this fight had it in bulk.

4. Keith Thurman vs Diego Chaves (July 27)

It was an open question as to how legitimate an opponent Chaves would turn out to be once the bell actually rang and the paper records were out the window, but he performed to a pretty high level against Thurman, making the house prospect a little bit uncomfortable. We also learned that Thurman has a relaxed confidence in his game, as he made adjustments and took over, showing more boxing skills than he'd had to against guys like Jan Zaveck and Orlando Lora.

3. Marcos Maidana vs Josesito Lopez (June 8)

Not a lot to say about this one other than two guys came to fight their asses off, fought their asses off, and one of them was able to inflict more damage. That was Maidana.

2. Jesus Soto Karass vs Andre Berto (July 27)

A really fun fight, as is the recent Andre Berto tradition, which too often gets lost in continuing to bitch and moan and single him out as an example of boxing's broken system, as if it's Berto's fault that it's no longer 1957 and that for your sporting event to matter, it has to be televised, and considering boxing has basically no outlets other than HBO or Showtime for any fights that matter at all, Berto is on HBO and Showtime all the time, because, well, he just is. Yes, he was coddled and pushed too hard, but that complaint is now years old. He's a must-see fighter every time out because he fights hard and not terribly well. Soto Karass' mini-Cinderella story continued here before running into Thurman in December.

1. Omar Figueroa vs Nihito Arakawa (July 27)

I can't even get hung up on the fact that it was largely one-sided and a massacre. The way that Arakawa marched forward taking enormous amounts of punishment was nothing short of jaw-dropping.

Five Key Stories

5. Canelo Alvarez steps up, takes risks, remains a star

Canelo didn't have to fight Austin Trout in April, but he demanded that fight even though Golden Boy still preferred to have him face Miguel Cotto, even after Trout beat Cotto in December 2012 at Madison Square Garden. With Alvarez not getting the Mayweather fight on May 4, he wanted the guy seen as the biggest challenge. He took it and he won. He then wanted the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He took that and was given a boxing lesson. Alvarez probably isn't going to go down as an all-time elite fighter or anything, but he's got guts and he's willing to risk losing to make the biggest fights. That's an admirable quality.

4. Danny Garcia adds Judah and Matthysse to growing résumé

Only Angel Garcia knows everything, he told us before the fight with Matthysse, and, well, he was right. Danny was better than Matthysse on September 14 and established himself as clearly the No. 1 fighter at 140 pounds, with no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Garcia has never been given the overwhelming hype. All he's done is beat guys.

3. Marcos Maidana upsets Adrien Broner

Adrien Broner, on the other hand, has been given plenty of overwhelming hype, and for as much as Garcia's record has been picked at -- particularly two wins over a fat Erik Morales -- what has Broner done that's much better? His two biggest wins coming into this fight were Daniel Ponce De Leon and Paulie Malignaggi (Antonio DeMarco could be argued, but not by me), and both of those were questionable decisions. (He did whip DeMarco's ass, to be fair.) Maidana was just too strong for Broner, who was overconfident and probably ate up a bit too much of his own hype and the bluster from his hangers-on and members of his "team." This was a reality check, plain and simple. And it became one of the biggest stories of the year.

2. HBO drops relations with Golden Boy and Al Haymon

When HBO decided to stop working with Golden Boy Promotions or Al Haymon's fighters (particularly, it seems, combinations of the two), they were giving up on generations of name fighters. The rising stars like Broner, Canelo, and Garcia. The established name veterans like Bernard Hopkins. Golden Boy was legitimized largely because HBO bought into their goals, believed in their great drawing card Oscar De La Hoya, and certainly wanted the outfit to succeed, which isn't really bias or shady or anything, it just was going to be good if Golden Boy worked, and Golden Boy did work. But HBO had a big hand in that, particularly with a sweetheart deal that Golden Boy took full advantage of to put on a lot of crummy fights that HBO just bought. But with a new regime at HBO, and more importantly a new regime at Showtime, things changed really fast. When the decision came down, I said I suspected both sides could turn out stronger for the split. This year, they did. Long-term, it's still better if promoters can work together.

1. Floyd Mayweather makes the move to Showtime, creates real rivalry with HBO

And none of that would have happened without the early year bombshell that brought Mayweather to Showtime Sports on a six-fight deal, likely to run through the rest of his career with two down and four to go as Mayweather approaches his 37th birthday. With Floyd taking his talents and drawing power to the enemy (so to speak), it became a genuine rivalry, which it frankly had not been for many years. And it did not only benefit Showtime. Sensing that the playing field would become slanted, HBO made a bold decision for the time being to call Golden Boy's bluff. And Ken Hershman's strength at Showtime was his ability to think outside the box and do things like the Super Six and the bantamweight tournament they held, and to often feature fighters that might not have gotten that HBO team excited. Now without every major fight going to HBO and their deeper pockets, we're seeing guys like Gennady Golovkin, Adonis Stevenson, and Sergey Kovalev featured as HBO players, which may not have happened otherwise. Mayweather's defection shook up the boxing world -- thus far, for the better, in my estimation. We got better fights and more consistent output from both networks in 2013.

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