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HBO cutting back on pay-per-views, boxing not

Bobarum_medium When HBO Sports said that they would be cutting back on the number of boxing pay-per-views, which had to be at least somewhat influenced by a brutal American economy and the massive flops of Calzaghe-Jones (November) and Pavlik-Hopkins (October), I took it with a grain of salt. Or an economy sized box of Morton's kosher salt. Whichever.

I'm sure most did. We've heard that line before, but then here it comes, pay-per-view after pay-per-view. HBO even planned to put a fight between Shane Mosley and Zab Judah on PPV last May, which was bizarre. Mosley has never been a PPV draw besides his fights with Oscar de la Hoya, and has never drawn much period as the A-side of a fight. Great fighter? Yes. Money in the bank? No. And Judah has been teetering on professional opponent for a while now.

Luckily Judah fought a shower door for free and the PPV was scrapped, which led to Mosley facing Ricardo Mayorga -- another fight HBO had slotted for pay-per-view before putting Pavlik-Hopkins on instead -- and Judah facing Joshua Clottey on Boxing After Dark.

The sheer volume of pay-per-views and the lack of quality coming out of them for the price demanded ($44.95 to $54.95 for a top shelf main event, not in HD) has been a complaint for years.

HBO, to their credit, has no PPV scheduled unless they wind up as the producers and distributors of the May 2 Hatton-Pacquiao fight, which is likely. But that doesn't mean boxing as a whole isn't gearing up to fire off a series of five, count 'em, five pay-per-view shows in February and March.

What are we looking at here?

Today, for instance, a viewer with iNDemand pay-per-view might choose to order Ruslan Chagaev's heavyweight title defense against little-known, lightly-regarded Carl Davis Drumond. "Why would anyone pay to see that?" you might ask. Good question. For $24.95, it's a "bargain" (coughcough), and here in the lean sporting months there's little to watch sports-wise at two o'clock in the afternoon eastern. So maybe you're up for Chagaev-Drumond!

Hey, I'm not, but whatever floats your boat.

Is Bad Left Hook Gonna Cover It?: Not unless I stumble upon a stack of cash sometime between now and 1pm.

Jermain-taylor-kelly-pavlick2_medium On February 21, Bob Arum's Top Rank brings us a double main event, two-site pay-per-view extravaganza live from both Youngstown, Ohio, and Madison Square Garden in New York City. Youngstown's Kelly Pavlik defends the middleweight championship of the world against Marco Antonio Rubio, and in the hallowed halls of the Garden, Miguel Cotto main events against Brit welter Michael Jennings. Both are rebound fights; let's not get it twisted. But there's also a useful undercard, with John Duddy facing off against Matt Vanda and Anthony Peterson matching up with two-time title challenger Edner Cherry.

What's that? Four watchable fights? Get out of here, Bob. That's not how boxing pay-per-view works.

$39.95 figures to be the going rate for the Pavlik and Cotto Show, and it sounds like a keeper.

Is Bad Left Hook Gonna Cover It?: Signed, sealed, delivered -- we'll be here for this bad boy.

Then we come to March 14, and another overseas show headed to American television sets by the wonder of point and click ordering. Offensive phenom Amir Khan will battle faded veteran Marco Antonio Barrera in a fight that could bring out the sleeping warrior in the Mexican legend, and could spell doom for the chinny Brit, whose "top prospect" tag was getting shaky enough before Breidis Prescott knocked his block off.

This one, though, is pretty much good news all around. Khan-Barrera could be a heck of a good fight, plus with Nicky Cook defending his 130-pound title against Roman Martinez and cruiserweight Enzo Maccarinelli facing ...well, Ola Afolabi, there's another actual undercard going on. Afolabi is a substitue for Argentina's Victor Ramirez, and not a very good one, either.

Also, this is likely to be another $24.95 card given the timeslot (American afternoon) and the fact that there's not a single American draw on the show, which might sound insulting to Barrera who still has his fans, but this ain't the Barrera of years ago and everyone knows it.

Is Bad Left Hook Gonna Cover It?: We're in it to win it.

March 21. Roy Jones. Omar Sheika. MMA on the undercard. Pensacola, Florida, are you ready?

Questions to ponder:

1. Will Jones and Square Ring try to pay Michael Buffer to be there?

2. Can Sheika, who turns 32 in February and hasn't fought since September 2007, muster up enough sock to knock Jones out and finish Roy's career?

3. If Jones wins, will he talk about how he wants to fight Antonio Tarver again? Remember, Tarver is a near lock bet to lose to Chad Dawson for the second time on March 14.

4. If Jones wins, will he try to call out Hopkins again?

5. If Jones wins, will he try to lure Calzaghe out of retirement, feeling that boxing fans simply must see the two legends square off in another exciting contest?

6. If Jones dominates, how many minutes (yes, minutes) will it take for the first article to pop up online that Jones looks "better than ever" at 40 years of age?

Is Bad Left Hook Gonna Cover It?: My utter mocking of this card and total non-belief in the idea that people have to mix boxing and MMA on the same card might lead you to think we're not coming within ten feet of this stinker. But chances are we're gonna do it. I'll cover Jones-Sheika and whatever other boxing fight(s?) are on the card, and if they actually do the MMA portion (color me skeptical, by the way), my good friend Brent Brookhouse of Bloody Elbow will be handling those fights, because even though I'm an MMA fan, my knowledge of the game is rudimentary in comparison, and when you've got the better option, hey, do it.

On March 28, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. headlines his umpteenth "Latin Fury" card, which Mexican fans keep buying in enough numbers that Arum keeps happily shoving them into the marketplace, despite the fact that he all but flat-out admits, "Hey, for someone people buy this junk, so I'm gonna keep peddlin' it!"

Chavez will face an untested guy with a fluffed up record that no one's ever heard of, and on the undercard Fernando Montiel will face Eric Morel. I actually like Morel for the upset in that fight.

Is Bad Left Hook Gonna Cover It?: I have never and will never pay for a show Chavez Jr. main events. I can say that with full confidence, because he will never be good enough to main event a show truly worth buying. I don't begrudge him his financial success as the go-to "Latin Fury" guy, nor do I have any intense dislike of him. But I wouldn't pay to see Edner Cherry main event, either. If Chavez ever fights anyone worth a crap, it's the same career.

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