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Campbell talks matchmaking, Don King talks MMA

Nate_champbell_medium In an article by Sharon Robb of the Sun-Sentinel, IBF/WBO lightweight titlist Nate Campbell says that matchmaking is a big reason for boxing's alleged woes:

"What they are doing now is this round-robin thing. Everybody fights each other but only if you are with the same promoter and that has to stop.

"Don King has done a lot of great things for boxing. One thing I realized about promoters is they all have detractors. For every one person that likes him, there is someone that doesn't. Whether he is good or not will be determined by what his legacy is."

The sport's credibility is eroding because of championship matches that are made involving boxers who have been inactive or not ranked, Campbell said.

"How do you get a championship fight if you're not ranked?" Campbell mused.

Listen, I love Nate as a fighter, and respect the hell out of him. He's worked hard, he's always had a great attitude, and he's made the most of his career. But he's half full of it here. I guess all the Top Rank-Golden Boy co-promoted cards just aren't happening, right? Hatton (Golden Boy) isn't fighting Pacquiao (Top Rank), I suppose. And Pacquiao didn't fight Marquez or Oscar de la Hoya (both Golden Boy) last year.

And Shane Mosley (Golden Boy) didn't just fight Antonio Margarito (Top Rank). And Kelly Pavlik (Top Rank) didn't fight Bernard Hopkins (Golden Boy).

Other promoters aren't also in the mix. Jermain Taylor (DiBella) didn't twice fight Pavlik, and then Jeff Lacy (Golden Boy). Cotto (Top Rank) fought Mosley in November 2007.

You know when the last time Nate fought was? Against Juan Diaz, who was then promoted by Don King. Don did get him a fight with Joan Guzman (Sycuan), but Joanie didn't make weight. And now Nate is semi-stuck, fighting Ali Funeka, who has zero fanbase in the U.S. or U.K. or anywhere outside of South Africa, where every single one of his 33 professional fights have been held.

He's stuck there because (1) he has few options and is in a bad place financially, (2) Funeka is the IBF mandatory, and (3) Campbell isn't a name, partially because he's never been promoted very well.

Nate is using a well-worn argument that has been presented by many, and was relevant until the Top Rank-Golden Boy Cold War ended. Nowadays, not so much. Promoters are working together all the time. It's just that Don hasn't really been part of that.

Don King has been a great promoter in the sport of boxing -- and people have called him a lot of other things, too -- but it'd be foolish to not look at his current roster and wonder where the problem really lies. He has none of boxing's biggest stars, save for Mayorga, who is losing sizzle by the fight, and Trinidad, who may never fight again.

Don's promoting is going so wonderfully these days that he's offering a 2-for-1 on seats for the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" card, which will be televised by HBO. It's really a very good card, and Don deserves credit for lining up what promises to be an action-packed night. But his promotion of it has stunk. They didn't even have a venue until a couple weeks ago.

He let his best prospect (arguably), Devon Alexander, languish for months without a fight. What planet is Don on these days?

And now he's talking about MMA:

It's no secret King is looking into mixed martial arts, which could make it interesting. King has been doing his homework, watching and waiting. However, at 77, he should stick to promoting boxing, which he is still the best at. Leave mixed martial arts to White and UFC.

"Most of them that go out into mixed martial arts are not successful," King said. "Ain't but one successful mixed martial arts and that's UFC. The rest of them are trying and want-to-be. Until I come, they are in trouble."

Affliction is apparently all but done, EliteXC died a painful, nationally-televised death under the watch of the Shaws, and now Don thinks he wants to get involved? He'd bellyflop so hard you'd think he got an awful waffle.

I also almost scoffed out loud with a snort and an eyeroll at Sharon Robb's other thought:

UFC President Dana White, who has a boxing background and great knowledge of the fight game, could clean boxing up in a year. White's business insight raised his pay-per-view spectacle from the dead and made it the hottest combat sport.

This is ridiculous. Dana White is a phenomenal businessman and a great promoter. There is no arguing that. But to be among the dead, one must have once been among the living. White and Lorenzo Fertitta basically remodeled the UFC, which was such a niche sport when they took over the company that it's not even remotely comparable to what it's become. No doubt they deserve all the credit in the world for that, but this was not a company that rose and then fell. The initial interest in early UFC waned pretty heavily, and was never a major sport to begin with. It was a morbid curiosity for most at best.

Making the delightfully overreaching statement that White could "clean up boxing in a year" can only come from someone living in a fantasy land that doesn't better understand the subject at hand. For one thing, boxing's not really dirty. For another thing, what's Dana going to do to fix things? Buy up all the fighters and tell them to take massive paycuts?

With UFC, White is able to house most of the world's best fighters because UFC is the place. You know what the place is in boxing, and has always been in boxing, and barring an unforeseen catastrophe of the first order, will always be in boxing? The building with the ring that pays the fighter the most to be there.

Mixed martial arts is still a young sport. Boxing is not. White coming into boxing -- this mythical, singular operation, apparently -- and cleaning it up in a year would be expecting Rome to be built in a day.

The thing most annoying about articles like these and the opinions presented are that they shine no light on the many good things that have happened in boxing in the last few years, and in failing to do that, they further advance the hyperbolic notion that boxing is in some sort of trouble. Boxing is the flagship of HBO Sports. It's not "Gee, Weren't Sports Better When I Was a Kid" with Bob Costas or "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel." It's boxing. And the sport is the flagship of Showtime Sports, too; it's not "Inside the NFL."

In short, Sharon Robb believes in myths, Nate Campbell is treading softly until he's out of King's control, and the Don (God bless him) would be better off to not even consider trying to get into MMA, particularly if he plans to promote it like he does his boxing.

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