This Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, a pair
of fighters who hail from about 3,000 miles away headline a pay-per-view card
labeled “Believe it or Not” which perhaps should have “ONLY on pay-per-view and held in L.A.!” attached to its title.
The main event features a bout between WBC light heavyweight titlist Bernard
Hopkins and Chad Dawson in a fight that doesn't figure to be long on fireworks
but of course, those connoisseurs of “skill” will undoubtedly salivate over
insider said it to me best about this fight: “Steve, it's like this; some
people like Limburger cheese, think it's the greatest thing ever. They love it.
Me, personally, it stinks so bad, I can't get within 50 yards of that stuff.
It's just not for me.” Hopkins-Dawson is a fine delicacy to some. To others,
it's just plain rancid.
that's the best way to state it. There are those who marvel at what Hopkins has
been able to do the past decade or so at his advanced age, where he has
arguably become the most accomplished boxer ever past the age of 40 (maybe
surpassing the notable achievements of Archie Moore and George Foreman) but
Hopkins- like Limburger cheese- is an acquired taste. It's not for everyone.
Some see a skilled craftsman who uses all his experience and guile to
neutralize his opponents. Others see just a dirty fighter whose fights devolve
into mauling, dirty affairs.
at what he does, no doubt. It's just not for everybody.
Dawson, well, he has become the poster child for the modern-day boxer who
performs in such a dispassionate manner that you wonder if he'd rather be
pushing numbers in a cubicle than throwing punches in the squared ring.
However, he is also a talented craftsman who has all the tools along with a safe
and cautious style and temperament. You could argue that Dawson’s greatest skill
is in having Gary Shaw- his television packager- hustle and con the brass at
HBO into believing that he was one of the pillars of their future. Instead,
Dawson has become another boxer on the network who has consistently earned
seven figures while fighting in front of six-figure audiences. Shaw has given
up creating any pretense of him being a live draw by farming him out to Canada, where the duo can collect fat checks
by not even forking out a few hundred dollars to conduct conference calls with
the media to publicize their upcoming bouts.
is one of the hook-ups that some will deem as “important” for whatever reason.
Maybe because it features two of the highest ranked 175-pounders in the world but
as discounted seats are being offered to VIPs at the Staples Center, you have
to ask yourself, like a Sergio Martinez, if so few people want to see a fight
or fighter, just how “important” could it really be? The attendance on Saturday night might resemble more a Sparks game than
even a Clippers contest. Truthfully, this fight was never made because of any
deemed significance or public demand but because it was essentially mandated
and caused by inept corporate decision making.
probably bear this fight a bit easier if you didn't have to fork out an extra
$55 to your upcoming cable bill but this whole match-up is really a final ode
to the reign of “error” in the stewardship of Ross Greenburg and
Kery Davis at HBO Sports. The main reason Hopkins-Dawson is on pay-per-view is
because much of the network’s 2011 budget was eaten up by the disaster that was
Tim Bradley-Devon Alexander (another “important” fight according to a certain
misguided few) and other illogical decisions such as rewarding those who lose
without distinction to return to the airwaves with guaranteed dividends.
further, the genesis of this not-so-classic pairing on pay-per-view really goes
back to when Greenburg/Davis were hoodwinked into investing into Dawson (first
by paying a license fee in the neighborhood of $3 million to see him defeat
Antonio Tarver for a second time in front of hundreds of fans in Las Vegas) and
last summer, he was paired with Jean Pascal in Quebec City. Maybe he froze up at the sight
of an actual audience but in a desultory outing, Dawson lost his title (but had
a rematch clause in his back pocket). While Pascal continued his career by
facing Bernard Hopkins that December, Dawson sat around till the next HBO date
came around. As Pascal-Hopkins I raged in controversy, a rematch was scheduled-
but with the promise that the winner would face Dawson next.
Hopkins winning the return bout, we move ahead to the Dawson fight, a bout that
figures to be- shall we be charitable and say... strategic and a chess match? In
many respects, this is a euphemism for “boring.” Dawson ditched Hall-of-Fame
trainer Emanuel Steward and is now consulting John Scully and Winky Wright (who,
back in 2007, participated in one of the worst pay-per-view main events in
recent memory with Hopkins). Yeah, that should really stir the passions, huh? Then
you had the interview with Dawson last week on HBO's broadcast before Martinez
faced Darren Barker. Not to say that Dawson wasn't exactly Knute Rockne or Chad
Ochocinco but even vanilla ice cream couldn't believe how plain this guy was.
He has all the tools to defeat Hopkins (speed, quickness and movement) but you
wonder if he has any of the necessary intangibles anymore.
generally a very nice guy but he could best be described as a beige spot on a
beige wall. This isn't so much a problem except for the fact that that this
seems to carry over into his style and temperament inside the ring. Dawson is effective,
which works for him, but he's not entertaining- which doesn't work for the
just how many fans will be inside the Staples Center on Saturday night and just
how many will order the pay-per-view (which actually has a solid undercard). My
guess is not all that many.
it's Limburger cheese.
Hopkins-Dawson seems ill-fitted for Los Angeles and will most likely have a papered
house, a promotion that will seemingly do much better based on the early buzz
it generated is the December 10th card in Washington D.C. featuring junior
welterweight standout Amir Khan against D.C.’s prodigal son, Lamont Peterson.
gosh...I tell you- and you can sense the excitement in my voice but it was the
best press conference in a really, really, long time,” said Golden Boy
Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer on Friday. “It was a standing room-only crowd.
All the major television and newspapers were there. Kery Davis said it was one
of the best press conferences he's ever attended, same for Dan Rafael [of ESPN.com].
An amazing, unbelievable buzz. There must've been 250, 300 people there and the
press conference and the cameras, you're talking about like a huge pay-per-view
event. It's been 18 years, 1993 since HBO was in Washington D.C. (Riddick
Bowe-Jesse Ferguson at RFK Stadium). So there's a tremendous excitement there
and the fact is that it's going to be a heavily Washington-flavored show with Lamont Peterson coming
from there and Seth Mitchell being from Washington D.C.”
featured on the front page of the Washington
Post, will be on the HBO broadcast, according to Schaefer. Also, Lamont's
sibling, Anthony, will be on the card. “It's going to be a big night in
Washington D.C.,” said Schaefer, who expects a crowd of over 20,000 at the
once again that boxing events, when placed in major metropolitan cities, can do
well if there is a local angle involved.
said, “It's interesting; I gave an interview with a Washington financial
newspaper and they were there. They have nothing to do with boxing. A very
pleasant young lady was interviewing me, had no idea about boxing but she asked
me questions about the impact of boxing on tourism dollars and the kind of
numbers boxing attracts. So there's clearly an interest in Washington and in
other cities as well to attract big events and boxing being one of them.
They're very excited.”
line is that in this economy, traveling to Las Vegas or Atlantic City (and then paying for
lodging and other expenses) isn't as feasible a luxury as it was in the past but
putting events on locally is still a viable option. When they’re nearby and
affordable, patrons will still show up to prizefights.
“I think we as promoters, the excitement level, I felt at that press conference
in Washington, honestly, I have not experienced and felt that for a real long
time. I think you're absolutely right. To take fights to important boxing
cities like San Antonio is
another example. Houston is a great
town. Sacramento, the ARCO Arena and so on,” said Schaefer, who is in
constant contact with AEG about putting on shows in their venues across the
land.” So I think we definitely need to focus on that a little bit more and who
knows? With what's going on in the NBA, some of these premiere venues in some
of those cities might in fact be even more interested in boxing.”
In the past
few weeks, Schaefer has traveled from his home in Los Angeles to Mexico, London and Washington D.C. Yeah, he's
traveled more than a Pan Am stewardess recently, finalizing deals such as the November 26th show, a split-site tripleheader
headlined by WBC junior middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez facing
100 percent. It's virtually done, just trying to finalize some loose ends but
it looks like it's going to get done,” said Schaefer, who says that Adrian Broner
and Gary Russell Jr. will be showcased by HBO from Cincinnati.
could be facing Vicente Rodriguez and Luis Franco is being prominently
mentioned for Russell Jr.
Witherspoon could be tabbed to take on Mitchell on Dec. 10th...Nice
win for Sharif Bogere against Francisco Contreras...It looks like Austin Trout,
who holds the WBA’s version of the 154-pound title, will defend it on “ShoBox” November 11th...Told that Wlad
Klitschko-Jean Marc Mormeck could be picked up by EPIX on Dec. 10thon their attempted
stream...For my money, the best fight on the Hopkins-Dawson undercard is the junior
welter tussle between Kendall Holt and Danny “Swift” Garcia...I'll say it right
now; Andrew Luck is the most NFL-ready college QB since Peyton Manning...Who's your
Heisman frontrunner right now? Is it Luck, Russell Wilson, Landry Jones or
RGIII?...WBO 122-pound beltholder Jorge Arce will be making another stay-busy
defense of that title in Mexico in late November...I never thought I'd say this
but “The Office” sans Michael Scott has actually been pretty good and “The Big
Bang Theory” just keeps getting better...And I have I talked about how good “Pan
Am” has been?...Yeah, I know it's early but can you believe how good Cam Newton has
been thus far?...And how ‘bout my 2011 NFL sleeper, the Buffalo Bills?!...Thomas Hauser's new collection, Winks and Daggers: An Inside Look at Another Year in Boxing, will
be published in November. This book, that looks back at Hauser’s work in 2010, is
published by The University of Arkansas Press and
retails for $24.95...