I am generally in quite good spirits this holiday season about the state of boxing, but there are a few things still gnawing at me. In the spirit of the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge, allow me to dampen your spirits with ten things I could do without.
10. Shamefully bad pay-per-view undercards
Look, we're shelling out anywhere from $44.95 to $54.95 for every major PPV event -- Pacquiao-Barrera II was at the low end, Cotto-Mosley in the middle at $49.95, and Mayweather-Hatton carrying the superfight price tag at a cool 55 bones.
I attempted to be positive about the undercards for Cotto-Mosley and Mayweather-Hatton, I really did. With Cotto-Mosley, we got the return of true lightweight champion Joel Casamayor and another Antonio Margarito fight, plus a veteran-versus-prospect opener. In Vegas on December 8, Golden Boy and Co. served up a rematch (Cherry-Ferguson II), a return (Jeff Lacy), and a 122-pound title bout (Ponce de Leon-Escobedo).
Both of those undercards wound up being garbage. I wouldn't have wanted to watch those fights for free, if you disregard the amount of shitty boxing I will and do watch for free. But, you know, I'm speaking in generalities, man.
Casamayor put on an all-time stinker of a performance and was rewarded with the worst decision I've ever seen. Margarito and Ortiz both scored first round knockouts against overmatched, uninterested opponents that were beaten before they even laced up their gloves. And then a month later, Cherry and Ferguson marched into battle and dropped a turd, Lacy looked a very old 30 in defeat of Peter Manfredo, and even Ponce de Leon's fight sucked as Escobedo spent the entire night backpedaling and hoping to steal rounds with counter-punching. Well, occasionally he would counter-punch.
This all goes a lot of different ways as far as blame is concerned. The promotional firms want to spread out their attractive fights as much as possible, hoping for maximum profits. Egotistical fighters don't want to be seen as "undercard performers." But enough already -- give us a major PPV event that delivers bang for the buck all the way through. Reserve spots for action stars like Jorge Arce. It sure beats two light-punching mediocrities like Cherry and Ferguson.
9. Absurd title fights
Another long-standing problem that isn't going away any time soon. But really? Cristian Mijares against Franck Gorjux? Anthony Mundine -- who is not a champion in any way other than someone gave him a belt -- over Jose Alberto Clavero? Celestino Caballero over Mauricio Pastrano? Vernon Forrest over Michele Piccirillo? Who really buys into this shit? The champions? The challengers? The promoters? The sanctioning bodies? The fans? How many consecutive sentences will be a theoretical question?
8. Booing national anthems
The supposedly classy British fans did this on Saturday night -- I used that sentence to be saucy, but I know it was a minority of the Brits in attendance that booed. But Americans have every right to be annoyed by this behavior, and Ricky Hatton had every right afterward to say he was disappointed by his supporters doing that.
But it's not just that. Many of the recent Mexican-Filipino bouts held in the U.S. have featured the same behavior, with the Mexicans booing the Filipino anthem and vice versa. It's pointless, stupid, and downright goddamned rude, is what it is. Do they think those around them won't be able to tell for whom they are cheering? Chances are if you're at Pacquiao-Barrera II and you have a Filipino flag, you don't need to boo the Mexican national anthem -- everyone knows who you're rooting for.
7. Mayweather haters
Look, enough. He's barely lost rounds throughout much of his career, he has 25 knockouts in 39 wins, he just stomped Ricky Hatton and did so with class and professionalism. Any more talk of Mayweather "running" is going to give me gas at this point. Watch Andre Dirrell fight, and then tell me that that's what Floyd Mayweather does. He doesn't stand still and get hit in the face like Arturo Gatti or whatever other "true warrior" that can be touted as proof of the way boxing "should be." Also, ask Arturo Gatti sometime how good Mayweather is.
6. Evander Holyfield
Truth be told, I just can't take it with Evander anymore. He lucked into another title shot, went to Russia, got blown out by a guy he would've eaten for breakfast in his day, and that should be it. Another damned comeback, starting with more damned useless fringe-of-the-fringe contenders? It's not that I fear for Evander's safety, because he doesn't fight guys that are so good that I'm concerned more than I am for any fighter in any fight, which is to say it's always way in the back of your mind, because it's an inherently dangerous activity. It's that I don't want to see this delusional 45-year old man fight anymore, nor the pack of leeches that accompany him to the ring every time he fights.
5. Fights at catchweights
Why are Taylor and Pavlik fighting at 166? Their first bout was for the middleweight title at 160. The rematch should either be the same, or go up to 168 and make it a super middleweight fight. What the hell is 166 pounds? I didn't like the 170-pound catchweight for Hopkins-Wright, and I don't like it for Jones-Trinidad, either. As if there aren't enough weight classes in boxing to confuse casual fans, now we're peppered with fights that aren't really being fought in any division.
4. Bernard Hopkins acting like a brat
I've been over this a couple times recently, but it truly is disappointing to see that Hopkins, at his advanced age, is still the same guy he's always been. For all the guff Mayweather has taken in his career, he is not one-tenth the asshole Bernard Hopkins is, even when Mayweather is really upping the ante on his villain role to sell a fight. It's not that I so greatly morally object to the things Hopkins does, it's that they're stupid and unprofessional. This man should be a great representative of the sport after all he's done in the ring. Instead, he's still trying to make waves with dumb comments and actions. I hope Calzaghe dusts him.
3. Showtime Championship Boxing
Once Vazquez-Marquez III is done with, I might just stop paying for my Showtime subscription. There is nothing they offer that I couldn't live without seeing. I will watch Williams-Quintana (or Williams-whomever) over Peter-Maskaev on February 2. And their big fight for January? Paulie Malignaggi against Herman Ngoudjo. Can any of their executives actually say they think they're truly America's No. 1 fight network?
2. Any and all sanctioning bodies
Do away with the lot of them. It's all so much more trouble than it's worth.
1. Floyd's retirement "threats"
His first retirement lasted about a month, until Ricky Hatton called him out. Now, it's Miguel Cotto. Floyd said he won't fight in 2008 or even 2009. We all know he's going to fight next year. We all know he'll fight Cotto, because if there's one thing Mayweather isn't immune to, it's fans in large numbers theorizing that someone could beat him. Cotto is the next guy in line. Should he dispose of Cotto, I say walk away. But it's a fight that needs to be made. Everyone knows it.