YEAR IN REVIEW: Loose Cannon Arum Drops the H Word, A Superfight Gets Made in Feb. ’14

Indulging in a look-back at the past year in boxing can be a slightly discouraging task, if one chooses to acknowledge how naggingly repetitive some of the issues that bedevil us as fans of the sport can be.

I look back at February 2014 in the year of boxing, and I’m reminded that I, on Feb. 2, 2014, was apparently not in a defeated mode after failing at resolutions number one thru four. My inclination for offering a plea and a road-map for positive change didn’t go the way of my wish to be comeback player of the year at the Y, a king of cardio, when I wrote “A Plea For Better PPV Undercards,” and I wrote, “Arum, being a wise sort, makes a fine point when he tells Iole that he sees buildings half empty during the pre main event bouts on PPV cards, and notes that at PPV parties, people are busy shooting the bull and eating and drinking until the big guns step to the ring. He’s not wrong. But he could be working to change that dynamic, instead of capitulating to it. The reason disinterest reigns is because fight fans, 100%, have come to expect to much dreck, too many record building bouts, on PPV undercards…and they react by being less than enthused about them. But watch that change if some care and more money is extended on these undercards. Watch the bump to the brand, of Top Rank, of Manny Pacquiao, of HBO, when these undercards get the love they deserve. Watch the buzz on social media when fans Tweet their support and appreciation for getting a great bang for their buck because Top Rank has dumped that old school “only the 10% care” thinking.”

I sign off on that POV and wording today, and will continue to do so until the thinking on that issue changes…which may be in Neveruary, but anyway.

On Feb. 6, I was pleased to check out Manny Pacquiao’s trek to NYC, to hype his rematch with Tim Bradley. I was surprised to recall that a papier mache figure of judge CJ Ross was used as a pinata at the event…no…I kid, that only happened in my mind. Pacquiao told me he saw the sequel as a 50-50 fight going in, but as we know, he made it so even the cretins of corruptitude got it right, and gave The Congressman his due, a W, when Pacquiao-Bradley II unfolded in April. At the same presser, the loose cannon side of promoter Arum reared its head, and the Vegas-based dealmaker blew up the Twitter when he told me, on the subject of Floyd Mayweather’s true desire to make a match with Pacman, “This is like a tactic, I’m not equating the politics, it’s like Hitler. Before the Second World War, ‘give me Czechoslovakia, there’ll be peace,’ and this and that..and (Neville) Chamberlain (then UK Prime Minister) kept appeasing, kept appeasing…was there ever going to be peace? No. No. It’s not going to get anybody closer to that fight.”

“That’s a pretty heavy-duty analogy,” I pointed out to Arum.

“That’s the truth,” he said. “That’s the truth. You do something like that, that’s the tactic. You bully, you bully, you bully…finally the guy says, ‘Enough,’ and he says, ‘See, you don’t want to fight me.”

A look back at this tete a tete is useful for context I think, to better appreciate the temp of the water under the bridge of futility that is the “negotiation” process for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Yeah, the rancor is such that one guy is publicly referring to the other as a Hitler sort….not any sort of recipe for finding common ground, typically. But then again, our sport is special, and conventions which apply to the straights and outside our realm sometimes don’t apply to us and our wondrous theater of the unexpected.

One Superfight that did get made in 2014 was a middleweight clash between the future first ballot Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto, and the late-to-boxing standout Sergio Martinez. June 7, they were slated to tangle at the famed and fabled Madison Square Garden, and Cotto trainer Freddie Roach explained to me why his guy had the edge going in.

One of the top stories of the year came out of left field, as we learned on Feb. 19 that Al Haymon’s tentacles had snagged another pug. Light heavy stud Adonis Stevenson liked the flavoring of the Haymon Kool Aid, and the succumbed to the sweet whisperings of uber advisor Haymon. There were ripples which grew into waves down the line resulting from that development…

Amir Khan, optimists and the deluded suffered a blow to their hopes and dreams when Floyd Mayweather on Feb. 24 took to Twitter to say: “I will be fighting Marcos Maidana May 3rd on Pay-per-View Showtime/CBS.”

As the aforementioned bout turned out to be a one-sided sport of scrap that Dick Cheney would have adored, as a fan of torture, this one turned out to be far better than most analysts would have thought. This is why we fight ’em in the ring, instead of on paper, right?

And as tempting it is to leave out this item, as that helps insulate us from the brutal truths of the trade which are easier to ignore, decency dictates that I recall the sad news received on Feb. 3, 2014, when Mexican featherweight Oscar Gonzalez died, at age 23, from injuries sustained in a KO loss to Jesus Galicia in Mexico City, on Feb. 1.

We headed to March looking forward to seeing if Orlando Salido could derail the Lomachenko train, and unawares that the ides of March would be in full effect, that the year in boxing was going to get murkier, jerkier, muddier, juicier…

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