Here we are again, bemoaning the passing of time, watching the kids grow before our eyes, counting our grey hairs and in the case of this particular article, counting back one year of PBC shows. In case you missed it, in part one we started to have a look at how well Al Haymon has been matching his fighters, what opportunities he has created for them and how busy he has been keping them.
I have attempted to give grades mostly based on how well they were matched by the PBC team as opposed to how well they performed in the ring, which is mostly outside the control of the matchmakers. We are mostly interested in how well Al Haymon has been keeping his promise to his fighters of delivering good bouts for them, what with most of them leaving behind contracts and promoters and all.
Let's pick it up where we left off:
Robert Guerrero - PBC have transformed Robert Guerrero into a big name opponent brought in to lose to their better names without embarrassing himself. Normally this would be a shitty promotional job but honestly, that is exactly what Guerrero is at this stage. They are at least keeping him active and getting him paid but he has been in 3 brutal bouts under PBC. Grade for Guerrero's year with PBC: C
Daniel Jacobs - Jacobs has possibly been the PBC's biggest beneficiary. He arguably comes out of the PBC year with the biggest rise in name and fame. After two routine 'title' defenses, Jacobs was matched with Peter Quillin in one of the years' more anticipated and well-matched bouts. He smoked Qullin. Grade for Jacobs' year with PBC: A
Amir Khan - Khan only fought once with PBC, a tougher-than-expected win over Chris Algieri in May. Other than about one occasional stay-busy fight per year, Amir Khan seems to only be interested in big-money PPV bouts like Mayweather, Pacquiao or Canelo, something PBC cannot deliver for him. The coup for Khan was outside the PBC franchise: the Canelo bout. Al Haymon either decided to allow it or was powerless to stop it. At this point there seems to be a mismatch between what Khan wants and how PBC operates. Grade for Khan' year with PBC: D
Erislandy Lara - Lara is often regarded by hardcore fans as one of the World's better fighters that just can't seem to get significant fights. Before PBC, Lara's increasingly high-profile wins over Alfredo Angulo and Austin Trout finally got him a big-money bout against Canelo Alvarez, where he acquitted himself well. The PBC took that momentum and buried it in concrete. His two bouts where supremely irrelevant 'title defenses' against faded Delvin Rodriguez and very faded Jan Zaveck. Lara is almost as good as inactive. Grade for Lara' year with PBC: E
Abner Mares - Mares was one of the more reluctant fighters to join Al Haymon, as it initially appeared as if he'd stay with Golden Boy. PBC gave him a tune-up in March and a big-profile bout against Leo Santa Cruz in August which was very entertaining but which he lost. No word yet on how or if PBC plan to help him recover from that loss. Grade for Mares' year with PBC: C
Charles Martin - Charles Martin signed with PBC in July and if you look at the articles announcing it, almost all the fan comments are 'Another bum for Haymon', 'Who the hell is Charles?', 'Another Joe Hanks' and 'This guy is too poor to even feed to Wilder'. The PBC were not the ones to get him the mandatory IBF shot and they weren't responsible for Glazkov's knee cracking, so you can't really say they delivered a title for him. What they did do was invest in him buy bidding high on the purse bid and putting him on the same card as Deontay Wilder. Grade for Martin' year with PBC: A
Lamont Peterson - Peterson was convinced to go to 143 pounds for his bout against Danny Garcia in which he more then held his own, but in the end that resulted in him being stripped of his 140-pound title and then making another step towards 147 pounds by beating Felix Diaz. I have absolutely no idea what the plan is for Peterson's career from here on out and I think neither does he. Grade for Peterson's year with PBC: D
Shawn Porter - In 2014, fighting under the Golden Boy banner, Porter defended his title easily against Paulie Malignaggi and then lost it in a rough, competitive fight against Kell Brook. In 2015, fighting under the PBC banner, Porter beat replacement opponent Erick Bone in an entertaining fight in March, and then beat Adrien Broner in a fairly high-profile bout in June. He has been inactive ever since but was slated to face Keith Thurman in a very anticipated matchup before the fight was postponed. Overall his career has taken visible steps forward since joining up with PBC. Grade for Porter's year with PBC: A-
Peter Quillin - Like Garcia, Quillin entered the PBC year with a reputation of a protected fighter. In retrospect he revealed that Al Haymon conviced him to avoid challenges in the anticipation of PBC, where he would be given big opportunities. For starters he was matched with Andy Lee for the WBO title, a bout that was he was favoured to win against a decent opponent that was at the same time the weakest titlist. Quillin came in overweight and then could only manage a draw. He was given an egregious mismatch for a return bout but then was matched against Danny Jacobs in what was supposed to be one of the best-matched bouts of the year. Qullin was unexpectedly stopped in one round. Like Omar Figueroa but to a bigger extent, Quillin was given not one but two excellent opportunities. The fact that he missed weight, failed to beat the beatable Andy Lee and then was smashed by Jacobs is more a reflection of his actual ability than of Al Haymon, who I think at least partially delivered for Quillin. Grade for Quillin's year with PBC: E. Grade for Al Haymon keeping his promise to Quillin: B
Leo Santa Cruz - Leo was the one fighter Haymon chose to put on the biggest stage in boxing: the Mayweather - Pacquiao PPV (but against a dreadful opponent). He then put him in an awesome matchup in August against Mares, where Santa Cruz dazzled. He was inactive until this February when he was fed a no-hoper in Kiko Martinez. He absolutely needs to be matched tough again because he is in danger of falling back into his old matchmaking ways. Grade for Leo's year with PBC: B-
Errol Spence Jr. - Spence is approaching the end of his 'prospect' days. He fought 4 times on PBC cards against increasing opposition, including a dominant win against fringe contender Chris Van Heerden. He has now been matched against fringe contender Chris Algieri. I kinda like how Haymon is building Spence. Grade for Errol's year with PBC: C+
Adonis Stevenson - With defenses against Sakio Bika and Tommy Karpency Stevenson is now breaking new ground on what it means to be a protected ducker. And I don't even mean ducking Kovalev. Fine, I have already resigned myself that the Kovalev bout is not happening, but Stevenson isn't even fighting top-20 opponents anymore. At least one of the other 175-pounders in the PBC stable like Edwin Rodriguez for crying out loud! Grade for Stevenson's year with PBC: F+
Keith Thurman - Like Danny Garcia, Thurman is one of the cornerstones of the PBC franchise. And like Garcia, he was fed slightly over-the-hill former contenders who were supposed to make things competitive and interesting but had little shot of winning: Robert Guerrero and Luis Collazo. The best bout of the bunch would have been the now-postponed bout against Shawn Porter. The following grade assumes matchmaking of Guerrero, Collazo and Porter: Grade for Thurman's year with PBC: B-
Austin Trout - After losing what was supposed to be a competitive bout against Erislandy Lara, in 2014 Trout treaded water with a couple of wins over non-contenders Daniel Dawson and Luis Grajeda. In 2015, PBC matched him up with 2 more non-contenders as he beat Luis Galarza and Joey Hernandez. Trout still finds himself outside the title picture despite him easily being a top-10 world 154-pounder and the PBC stable being stacked with other notable Jr. Middleweights. Grade for Trout's year with PBC: D
Deontay Wilder - Wilder won the WBC title just before the first PBC shows started. On actual PBC shows he had three bouts: subpar title defenses against Eric Molina and Johann Duhaupas and a slightly better bout against Artur Szpilka. On the one hand his team was able to postpone the mandatory bout with Alexander Povetkin as much as possible to give Wilder time to improve but on the other hand they were unable to collaborate with Showtime and Povetkin's Russian promoters to agree on staging the bout in America, something they were willing to do for the right price. Grade for Thurman's year with PBC: C-
Special Guest: Badou Jack. Jack is not officially a PBC fighter since he is signed with Floyd Mayweather's promotional company. But he is still advised by Al Haymon, he did win his title on a PBC show in April of last year and he was supposed to fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on a PBC show this spring. Jack had an arguably spectacular year, going from seemingly busted prospect to a respected and top-3 ranked titleholder with victories over Anthony Dirrell and George Groves. Grade for Jack's year in and around PBC: A-
I think if you ask the average fan, the PBC franchise has an image of organizing mismatches, keeping their fighters from fighting outside their stable and failing to deliver as much excitement as their roster might allow them to. To a certain degree this is still a function, even to this day, of a 2014 when several of their fighters really took a hit PR-wise for dodging legitimate competition, what with Adonis Stevenson ducking Kovalev, Danny Garcia fighting You-Know-Who, Leo Santa Cruz fighting poor opposition and Peter Quillin dumping his title rather then defend against a non - Al Haymon fighter.
And even to this day it's still true that several of PBC's high profile fighters still look complacent fighting inferior opposition. The careers of guys like Adonis Stevenson, Erislandy Lara, Devon Alexander, Austin Trout or even Lamont Peterson seem to be quickly going down the drain. And Danny Garcia, while fighting much better opposition than he did in 2014, still hasn't managed to shake the impression that he is purposely being fed inferior opposition.
But to be fair, compiling this list made me realize how many fighters have received very good opportunities fighting for the PBC franchise.
Guys like James DeGale, Badou Jack, Danny Jacobs, Javier Fortuna, Jermall Charlo, Rances Barthelemy have all gone from lower-top-10 contenders to respected titleholders, in and around the top-3 of their respective weight classes.
Shawn Porter and Andrzey Fonfara have built their careers back up with the help of PBC matchmaking. Bute has resurfaced as a contender.
Even guys that lost pretty big this year were given good opportunities. Adrien Broner, Peter Quillin, Abner Mares, Andre Dirrell and Andre Berto were all given pretty big opportunities. Sure, they lost some, they won some, but all of them got much better bouts than they had been given in the previous one or two years.
And somehow the PBC roster now has two young American heavyweight titleholders. Not 100% Al Haymon's direct doing, but damn, who would have predicted that would be a reality about mid 2014?
What do you guys think? What to make of Al Haymon's matchmaking?