Soon to be Hall of Famer Jim Lampley trotted out on HBO the final 2014 installment of “The Fight Game”, his news/opinion magazine show, and offered up a rock-solid performance with some smart ring-generalship, as he offered quickie looks-back at recent bouts, and potent power punching, as when he took aim at uber advisor Al Haymon.
Lampley tapped Haymon, the shrouded power broker who lives in parts unknown, and moves the chess pieces without a care about answering to the keyboard tappers or fans, as TFG Person of the Year.
“We keep returning on TFG to the depiction of boxing as a risk vs reward equation,” Lampley said. “Our person of the year is a man who is widely acknowledged to have, on behalf of his star client Floyd Mayweather, mastered that equation like no other manager in history. But our designation of Al Haymon as the year’s most influential figure has little to do with his advice to last year’s Person of the Year, Mayweather. It’s about what he is doing with the other reported 130-plus fighters who now make up his clientele…..If you had a sense 2014 was a year somewhat devoid of compelling top-level competition you wouldn’t be off base.
Light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson had opportunities to fight three fellow stars, Sergei Kovalev, Bernard Hopkins, and Jean Pascal. He avoided all three. Middleweight titleist Peter Quillin gave up a belt and a career-high purse to avoid a fight with Mat Korobov. Talented junior featherweight titleist Leo Santa Cruz fought a sparring partner on the undercard of Mayweather-Maidana II. Adrien Broner and Lucas Matthysse, logical opponents for each other, fought lesser opponents on the same card. Danny Garcia fought a 140-pound opponent so underqualified even the governing bodies that market his belts wouldn’t dignify the enterprise by charging a sanctioning fee. Rising welterweight force Keith Thurman fought long-faded former lightweight Julio Diaz, then fought a 40-year old nonentity. All these stars are advised by Al Haymon, and that’s the proverbial tip of the iceberg,” Lampley continued.
“It would be great for boxing if one brilliant entrepreneur managed an astonishing client list of 130-plus fighters with the consistent objective of making the most attractive and competitive fights available, within reasonable limits to protect their health and business prospects. But that isn’t Haymon’s game. He’s about avoidance of risky competition. His formula has worked for star client Floyd Mayweather for a variety of reasons, among them that Mayweather took the right perceived risks earlier on, versus Genaro Hernandez and Oscar de la Hoya, to get to where he is now. But the Mayweather approach is not the right approach for the overall enhancement of boxing. Boxing fans want to see great fights, without which it is difficult to earn an identity as a great fighter. It’s widely reported that for the next two years, Haymon will provide talent for as many as 40 boxing telecasts on NBC Sports Net, and NBC. This would normally be cause to rejoice for everyone in the business. But no one is rejoicing now, unless the philosophy changes, and viewers get to see the best fighting the best. And based on what happened to Haymon’s clients in 2014, that’s the last thing we can expect.
“So in gathering together the largest concentration of boxing talent in the history of the sport, and then mostly shielding that talent, from the kind of competition that would make him a hero to the boxing world, Al Haymon is the 2014 TFG Person of the Year.”
Three knockdown rule was in effect, friends. Or maybe not, as Haymon seems immune to being affected by criticism leveled by media, or fans…I guess he’s like a fighter who has a Teflon chin, who can be hit by Golovkin and Kovalev at the same time, and just keeps chugging…
Lampley, before that flurry of wordsmithery, offered huzzahs to Nebraskan Terence Crawford, TFG Fighter of the Year, for getting Ws over Ricky Burns, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Ray Beltran. TGF decided that “Bud” narrowly edged Sergey Kovalev, who handily beat legend Bernard Hopkins from the singing of the national anthem onward in AC on Nov. 8.
Lamps kicked off with a look at right-hooker Andy Lee’s takeout of Matt Korobov, and as per usual, a viewer had to be caffeinated, as he briskly threw out asides, such as the jab he threw at Peter Quillin for giving up his WBO middleweight belt, a move that had many scratching their heads.
Lamps called the Lou DiBella-promoted Lee “the ultimate feast or famine” fighter, which, of course, makes him something of a must-see attraction. Those that risk will gain the heaviest helping of rewards, and Lee should be looking at a million dollar bout, enough to feather his retirement nest, coming up.
JL then offered us video and analysis of the David Lemieux power punch showcase on Gabriel Rosado. He offered high praise when he said that a fight against Gennady Golovkin could maybe be “the Hagler-Hearns of this generation.” That one would likely be “savage, beautiful and brief,” he noted. The middleweight muddle was discussed, and Lampley touched on the idea of a Lee-Miguel Cotto square-dance at Madison Square Garden.
“They might need three Madison Square Gardens for that fight,” said the admirably untouched by near requisite cynicism displayed by fightgame lifer Lampley.
“Knockouts” are making the 160 spot a glamour division, he stated…which led us to the segue in which Abel Sanchez won TFG’s Emanuel Steward Trainer of the Year award. He “trains fighters to embrace risk,” the HBO fixture stated. Freddie Roach came close to getting the nod, Lampley said, and he then referenced a Ring poll, which saw 16% choosing Floyd as the best pugilist today…Gennady Golovkin won, taking 48% of the first place votes. Trip G then won Knockout of the Year, and Daniel Geale fans winced.
Next up, Michelle Beadle hit the Wild Card Gym, and the ESPNer chatted up Roach. The trainer said he thinks a Pacman vs. Floyd fight would be a “great Christmas present” for all fans. He sounded optimistic, but then said he thinks Floyd is hesitant because he so adores his unbeaten status. Roach said if he retires unbeaten, Mayweather will be saddled with an asterisk, for not fighting The Congressman. Freddie then told her that Manny was superstitious about taking blood the day before the fight, because that’s what happened before his first loss. “The original negotiations were probably our fault,” Roach said, because of the blood and testing issue. Since then, Team Pacquiao has given in to Floyd’s demands, he said. Roach slapped at Floyd for fighting Marcos Maidana twice this year. Roach said Manny currently has ZERO problem with doing stringent VADA testing, right now.
Roach cracked up when discussing trying to help make The Fight, as he was in there with Bob Arum and CBS boss Les Moonves, and he noted that The Fight is, in his eyes, a “Vegas,” not a Texas, bout. Freddie said a multi fight deal makes mucho sense to him, and having HBO and Sho screen it also passes his sniff test. Roach said he’d like to see Floyd and Manny do it a couple times, maybe three times. “It’s been done before, so it can be done again!” he said. Beadle pressed him and he sounded thumbs up that May 2nd it will get done.
Beadle asked for quick responses to: Bob Arum. “He’s a character,” Roach said, who goes from Grinch-y, calling Roach an “idiot” to good Grinch, to handing Freddie a million dollar check for working a Manny bout.
Les Moonves: Jury is out, because he needs to prove he can deliver Floyd.
Floyd Mayweather: Fred said he can’t wait to get Manny ready to waltz with Money. “We have to fight the perfect fight to win,” he acknowledged. “May 2nd, I have it penciled, it’s gonna be good,” said Beadle, and Roach answered, “I think we’ve waited long enough.” Amen…
Lampley debriefed Beadle, and she said that he’s unfiltered, which she digs, as it is so rare in this era in the world of sports. “I could have sat around for four hours and just had him tell stories,” she said. She ended by saying that The Fight will be embraced fully even if many folks are tired of the endless flirtation, breakups and re-connection sessions.
Then, Lampley talked about the VADA and WBC plan in the works to have WBC-ranked boxers be tested YEAR ROUND. He gave a hearty double thumbs up to this arrangement. It would be revolutionary, he said, if the ‘BC lives up to their end of it. Manny has complied with VADA, will Floyd follow suit, Lampley asked rhetorically. That news has flown under radar, maybe rightfully so, as people take a wait and see approach till it’s implemented…
Sergey Kovalev had “another spectacular year,” Lampley said, and then reminded us about the Terence Crawford-Yuriorkis Gamboa, which he deemed TFG Fight of the Year. Video highlights were scintillating. “Bud,” Lampley said, edges out Kovalev by a hair. He teased a possible Manny Pacquiao-Crawford bout, noting they “share the same promoter.”
Then, “The Gatti List.” Gabe Rosado, no coal for his stocking; Mauricio Herrera; Andy Lee; Steve Cunningham, for showing heart and finding one for his KO kid, Kennedy; and Vasyl Lomachenko.
Max Kellerman joined Jim from another studio. Max showed love to Herrera, for fighting Danny Garcia and Jose Benavidez Jr so tough, and battling judges who seem to have it in for him. Jim said judges need help, and that they could use a TV monitor. “It’s a great idea,” Max said. They touched on Manny-Money; Max said he thinks Floyd’s aversion to being in a joint production, and his ego, stops the fight from being made. But maybe Floyd will want to keep his May date, to keep Cinco de Mayo as his weekend. “I do think Mayweather-Pacquiao happens at some point this year,” Max said.
Adonis vs. Sergey would be “explosive” and not a distance tussle, Max said; Lomachenko vs. Nicholas Walters is a compelling pairing, he said; Golovkin vs. Lemieux would be sort of Hagler-Hearns, but he thinks Team Lemieux avoids that tangle; Cotto vs. Canelo is a SUPER fight.
Lampley fought the championship rounds i.e., the closing segment, with bite and grit, and threw lumps of coal at Haymon with fireballing fury. He offered holiday greetings, and promised to check back in the new year, which we all hope is a better one for our shared addiction, the red light district of the sports world, where the best stories are found, and the most flawed and fabulous people congregate. I share his best wishes to all good people, and for the bad ones to have a Grinch moment, and find a heart.
Merry Christmas, and happy holidays, and thanks for reading, people. I appreciate it, every day.