is that list time of the year. What did I think was best out of all
the things that happened in boxing? Which fighter's journey affected
is comprised of moments. “Remember that time...?” Boxing is that
to an extreme. Round one of Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs. Tommy Hearns.
An entire series of battles in three minutes. The famous line in
Aaron Pryor vs. Alexis Arguello I, “Give me the bottle. No, the one
I mixed.” Diego Corrales coming from behind against Acelino Freitas
and Jose Luis Castillo. In the span of a year like 2013, there is no
“best.” These are the moments we will live with forever.
Financial benchmarks, the beginnings of a monopoly, what actually
happened in the corner in San Antonio, Texas on December 14, these
things are harder to track. The rest are fragments, forever etched in
the mind of the aficionado, bound to be told in your favorite
watering hole or barbershop passed from father to son. For me, it was
a year of emergence with some familiar trends mixed in. In many ways,
2013 will be looked back at as a watershed year in which boxing
turned a corner all too willingly.
year, we got a look at what boxing would look like if it were the UFC
as the Showtime/Golden Boy Promotions/Al Haymon machine rolled out
big-name matches that sometimes bored us (both Floyd Mayweather Jr.
fights) while, at other times, thrilling us by throwing “A-side”
fighters to hungry wolves for our savage delight. The harrowing
summer blockbuster card that featured Omar Figueroa vs. Nihito
Arakawa, Keith Thurman vs Diego Chaves and Jesus Soto Karass vs.
Andre Berto was a positive glimpse into the future. Boxing insiders
complaining there is now a monopoly being locked into place, not so
of that monopoly picture includes a media that is more and more
complacent. The Ring magazine is owned by Golden Boy
Promotions. It's amazing to think that Adrien Broner debuted at
number five on its pound-for-pound list much less ever being on it.
He had proven nothing but was marketed heavily as the “Next Big
Thing,” done so by Golden Boy's de facto media wing, The Ring.
No one held its ratings panel accountable. Was it the end of the
world? No. But standards don't hit rock bottom overnight. They slowly
erode. Broner at number five on any list ranking the best fighters in
the world is suspect. When the list happens to be “owned” by his
promoter, it should be pointed out.
to point that out along with other hypocrisies or odd statements made
in the press, to ever call “Bullsh*t” on the Golden Triumvirate
would be to limit your access to one half of the club that is boxing.
With positions at CBS, Showtime and the The Ring Online,
ringside commentary and/or locker room interviewer positions
potentially at play, not to mention access to the Showtime galaxy of
stars, providing honest stories that probe deeper than an opening
question is going to be tough. Looking at an impotent entity such as
the Boxing Writers Association of America, who, on Friday, broke its
record-low standard of merit from last year, it's clear there will be
no general move toward checks and balances, in-depth coverage,
penalizing plagiarism, standing up for the fighters or a push toward
improved health and safety for fighters. It will remain cool to be
aloof. Mediocrity will continue to be rewarded. Banality and good
manners will rule the day.
we won't endeavor to find out what happened in San Antonio,Texas
between rounds 11 and 12. We won't ask if this was the first time. We
won't ask about DMAA or why the date to protest was passed by three
days before anyone from the Brandon Rios camp (post-Manny Pacquiao)
complained. We won't endeavor to find out if huffing epinephrine, a
drug found in the corner of every fight you've likely watched over
the past 20 years, effectively jacks up your nervous system during a
won't ask because in a year that saw Franky Leal die, Magomed
Abdusalamov and Jose Carmona nearly die, an MMA fighter die at a
weigh-in and more, we still idly sit by for mismatches. We yawn and
tweet irony when Jermain Taylor, a fighter who suffered a brain bleed
in a brutal KO loss, returns quietly off-TV. We don't say a damn
thing when Oleg Maskaev, Andrew Golota and James Toney fight well
past their “best by” dates. Like the fighters, somewhere along
the line, we were trained to be obedient. We are polite so we get the
story and keep the relationship. We ignore the job. We ignore that
there is likely a lot more to Texas than what has been reported. We
sit idly, mutely by, while a rogue videographer trashes a group like
VADA while not showing any video of his subjects' claims. No one in
the media challenges him. Why not? Because it might upset the herd?
Because there is no traffic in it?
should be a “Hey, this fight was great!” article. It was supposed
to be about moments I loved this year. But as I find myself writing,
all I can think of are the loose threads of the year.
Bradley fighting his ass off just to get testing. Bob Arum eschewing
VADA and creating a de facto indie testing program that failed to
live up to the bar VADA has set. The reason? Because Team Juan Manuel
Marquez said so. And no one really pursued the story. It was a
footnote. Was there a real reason VADA could not be used? Did any
reason make sense?
two biggest promoters, GYM and Interbox, meanwhile, learned from the
U.S.' anti-doping debacle and after Team Jean Pascal vetoed VADA for
the proposed Lucian Bute fight, a random anti-doping testing program
was created and implemented for all the big fights by both companies.
No one in the media seems to be covering this besides MMA writer
fans and media seem to hate Adrien “The Problem” Broner and/or
are afraid of Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer so much that they've
appeared to buy whatever anyone out of the Marcos Maidana camp has
said regarding that interesting corner work of Alex Ariza. They
haven't delved into the positive test for DMAA that occurred under
Ariza with another Robert Garcia fighter just the day before that
incident. It's as if everyone had filled out their year-end list and
they didn't want to spoil it. It's crazy.
wish this could be about the dynamite 175-pound division. That'd be
so much easier to write.
my money, no division lit up the Saturday nights this year with
potential for even more in 2014 like the light heavyweight division.
Sergey Kovalev started it off with authority on January 19 against
Gabriel Campillo. Say what you want about the Spaniard, the former
WBA 175-pound titleholder Campillo was expected to go some rounds and
give resistance to “Krusher.” For two rounds, the pace was hot,
man. Kovalev slid in and out of range, relaxed and precise with his
straight combinations. The jab to the head, right to the body, left
hook to the head or body finish worked every time. Campillo couldn't
handle the pressure or the fast pace of Kovalev, who cracked things
open in close to start the third. Three knockdowns later, the fight
was over and Kovalev looked up toward the top 10 of the light
heavyweight division to see who dared be next. It was overlooked at
the time but Campillo's triple fall was a harbinger of terrible
things to come for Kovalev opponents. Two wins and seven rounds
later, Kovalev was a 175-pound champion. One fight later, he was a
defending champion who looks to be a problem for anyone at light
heavy or below.
Stevenson was neck-and-neck with Kovalev, having a nearly identical
year, opening with a revenge win over Darnell Boone, then
obliterating Chad Dawson in one round to win the WBC crown. Two
impressive wins over Tavoris Cloud and Tony Bellew later, Stevenson
reigns as a charismatic, dangerous southpaw puncher, coached by Sugar
Hill in the Kronk mold and poised for big things.
on who you talk to, Juergen Braehmer or Beibut Shumenov is the WBA
175-pound champ. If you ask IBF light heavyweight champ ,Bernard
Hopkins, the answer - ironically, another question - is simple: Which
one can fight on Showtime, home of my promotional company, Golden
I'm too busy wondering why Abner Mares' strength coach, Luis Garcia,
has been on Twitter, basically screaming for anti-doping testing in
Mares' upcoming rematch with Jhonny Gonzalez and no one seems to be
listening or reporting on it. Why isn't his Mares' promoter providing
his needs? Incidentally, Gonzalez's strength coach is the same as
Pascal's and Marquez's: Angel Heredia. Use the Google with him.
I look back at this year, I worry. There is so much work undone,
important stories to be covered, aspects of this sport that are
either falling apart or in an ongoing state of malformation that
should have a light shone on them - and they aren't. When I look
forward, it has to be with hope. It has to be with the thought that
at some point, with the rash of positive drug tests last year, their
continuance and the deaths and injuries this year, a mechanism of
empathy and conscience will click in the collective consciousness of
the boxing media and we'll start holding people in authority
accountable for what they've done...or haven't.
is a turning point. The violence was great but there were lessons not
learned. We didn't press further on the P.E.D. issue. We let light
sentences go and we didn't, as the media, support each other in
getting to the truth of each case. We let the monopoly happening at
Showtime continue on without questioning it at all as a press corps.
We continue to drop the ball on judging and potential corruption in
the ratings. I'm not here to say the sky is falling. Boxing is not at
the crossroads but it's more like five miles down the freeway. As
media and fans alike, we opted to not care where we were headed. We
opted to stop asking, “Are we there yet?” After 2012, we should
have known better. It's time to stop making lists and giving
ourselves awards. Its time to take a long look at this sport, what
it's becoming and why and how we can do our jobs better. Because if
we don't - and soon - it will be too late. We will have given
up too much room to ever get any of it back.
can email Gabriel at email@example.com,
follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him every Monday on “The Next Round” with Steve Kim, now at its
new home, www.blogtalkradio.com/thenextround.
You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the
BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8