As always, we aspired to start the new year in boxing 2014 with something approximating a blank slate, with our default setting switched to OPTIMISTIC, or, at least, measured skepticism, instead of jaded pessimism.
After twelve months, we are again back in the mode of attempting to summon our brighter side, the one that believes the sport can revert to a mean, one which in actuality isn’t so much of an omni-present state, but more of an intermittent status…that is, one where the best fight the best.
That is the no brainer 'duh' of a desire, from the fan perspective, but as we operate with eyes wide open–and they get wider the longer we stay in the business–we get it that boxing is a business…and in the business world, the customer may be under the impression that he or she is always right, but in actuality, our system of capitalism most often encourages a dynamic where the customer is seen as a check-writer, a cash cow, someone to be bled, not nurtured and respected. Boxing really isn’t so different than most any other realm in this regard, but frankly, 2014 was a downer of a year for the sunnyside sorts.
We the fans—and that’s what I am, first and foremost, let’s put that out there, because that’s important, as so many writers and even fans these days bafflingly think from the promoter-manager-coddled fighter POV, and excuse too often when the best are not fighting the best, rather than pushing for the obvious right thing to be engineered—were not graced with The Fight that would break all revenue records by a Madoff mile.
Another year passed and endless flirtation and slow dancing ensued, followed by accusations of improper groping and insults and slanted “reasoning” as to why the fight most everyone wants to see didn’t get made. At some point, you have to think, the masses get turned off, and stop caring and craving seeing Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao tangle in a real ring, rather than thru proxy warriors on Twitter…but then again, the Kardashians, in all their garish glory, jumped the shark a couple years ago, but still are an industry with no shortage of gawking followers.
Maybe we should have seen the first “theater of the unexpected” special as JANUARY unfolded. The Rances Barthelemy-Argenis Mendez clash, which went off the rails when Bart bashed Mendez after the bell, rendering him unable to continue, and the overseers on site confused, and ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas attempting to make some sense of a situation and a sport which actively discourages clarification. It’s part of the charm and the infuriating side to our shared addiction…
On Jan. 6, I touched on the not-so-merry-go-round Will They Or Won’t They affair, with Mayweather giving reason number 27, or was it 33, why he wasn’t inclined to sign on to make two or three times as much money as he’d ever hope to make for a scrap.
“Mayweather voiced last week his current number one reason why he doesn’t see a Money-Manny fight being made, and it has nothing to do with the taking of a test, or the proper cutting of the purse pie. He said that as long as Bob Arum is Manny Pacquiao’s promoter, he, Floyd, won’t do a deal to fight Pacman,” I wrote.
Twelve months have passed, and I still see that impediment as my favorite theory as to Floyd’s aversion to meeting Manny; I think he holds Arum responsible for not helping his career blow up like he thought it should have from 1996-2007. But only “Money” holds the knowledge of the why, not I…
Dig back into archives, and you see really how hard we spin our wheels on the subject. One week later, Dedham Freddie Roach told me he was upbeat on the prospects of Manny-Money coming to fruition.
“I think we're closer and closer to a Mayweather fight,” the 53-year-old Massachusetts native told me. “It's only rumors now, but I think the rumors will come true. I don't think either Manny or Mayweather has anywhere else to go.”
Freddie shortly after stirred that pot when he told Radio Rahim of Maxboxing and SecondsOut that when Alex Ariza used to work with Manny, he acted “shady.” http://www.thesweetscience.com/news/articles-frontpage/17837-roach-says-qshadyq-ariza-gave-manny-mystery-drinks-ariza-responds
“He used to give Manny a drink every day before a workout and I used to ask him what's in that drink and he would never tell me, and I said I need to know what's in that drink, because you gave it to my fighter, and if something goes wrong I'm gonna get the blame,” Roach told Rahim.
That storyline advanced some over the course of the year, with Ariza jumping to the Floyd camp, and Floyd subsequently hinting broadly that he’d been fed damaging info on Pacman from those in the know. All in all, this stuff amounted to a poisoning of the well. Interesting to write about, a good hit magnet, but mostly additions to the wall of negativism which keeps The Fight from being made. Really, the inability to get on that same page set a tone for the whole damn year in boxing…
Top level boxers Jean Pascal and Mikey Garcia got Ws in January 2013, and both efforts were not scintillating, with Pascal downing Lucian Bute with ease and Garcia offering a measured but meh performance against Juan Carlos Burgos in NYC. It left me hoping Mikey would get his hands on some Nasty Pills moving forward. Instead, he chose to focus on promotional/contractual issues, a road he shared with other A grade talents, in Andre Ward and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., which was another downer for the year.
An upper appeared in the form of a filthy blast from Luis Collazo on Victor Ortiz at Barclays Center on a Golden Boy card which pitted two welters looking to get back to the big stages. Ortiz reminded us that the iffy chin on Ortiz was still that, and he parlayed the victory into a tangle with Amir Khan later in the year.
We can't know that harbingers are that until some time passes, and it's safe to say that much of what happened in January 2014 set a poor tone for the remainder of the year. But of course, we embraced February with the open-mindeness of one who hadn't yet blown their resolutions to bits. Check back for a trot down memory lane that was February 2014…
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