One of the ways the year in boxing 2014 will be remembered is for the…curious…choice-making employed by some of the best and brightest pugilists of the day. Andre Ward, Mikey Garcia and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. chose to not indulge in their vocation, but instead sit on the sidelines, and go on hiatus because of a disagreement in terms of existing contracts.
I managed to use the word, or should I say, make up the word “piranhic” in a March 4 story-column on Ward, in which I suggested, hopefully humbly, that it makes much sense for him to use these prime years of athleticism to their full extent, and that’s to be done by fighting not in court-rooms or mediation rooms, but in rings. He didn’t heed my advice then, but here’s hoping nearing a year later, he will finally put contractual issues behind him, and fight in the place he’s best suited for, the squared circle. My words then stand today, I think:
We never know how a man's body ages, if his vessel will cooperate with him. It would be a tough break to have his fighting infrequency coat him with rust, leave him prone to more injuries, and have him irked, in a few years, that he wasted time on a task that didn't need to be embraced.
Superstar Canelo Alvarez got back in the flow with a win on March 14, over graying shark Alfredo Angulo, who helped make Canelo look like the sort of boxer some figured might give Floyd Mayweather some issues when they tangled in 2013. Canelo landed 58% of his shots on a guy whose reflexes have slipped some, so it wasn’t a “best fighting the best” scrap; that was more the norm than not in 2014, sadly.
And how long could we go before “corruptitude,” a term I coined last year, reared it’s wicked fangs and nasty breath? On March 15, I wrote, “Mauricio Herrera impressed the heck out of everyone who watched him be slick, smart and pesky as all hell against Danny Garcia in the main event in Puerto Rico on Saturday night, and on Showtime. Everyone, except the most important people, the judges, who gave Garcia the nod. One card read 114-114 (Gustave Padilla), while the others said 116-112, 116-112 (Carlos Colon, Al Rochin). I didn't. I though Herrera outboxed the champ, and so did the Showtime crew. Al Bernstein saw it 116-113, 116-112 for Steve Farhood and 116-113 from Paul Malignaggi, all for Herrera. I most agreed with the Farhood card, giving extra love to the ring generalship of Herrera, which impressed me more than the alleged power shot edge.”
Another black eye for our sport, some thundered. How can you tell the eye is black, as the whole of the body and the soul is tainted by such sad occurrences, I say. And yet we go another year with nobody in a change-making role attending to the regular abortions of reasoning which rear their heads just about every week, and lead Teddy Atlas dangerously close to stroking out territory.
On March 25, fight fans were reminded that one of the toughest beings in the sport, pound for pound, is Kathy Duva. The Jersey gal put uber advisor Al Haymon on mega-blast, saying what loads of people might think, but are afraid to say, for whatever reasons. She took Haymon to task for hurling a spitball/curveball and queering a planned Adonis Stevenson-Sergey Kovalev bout. “He's the man best known for making sure the public doesn't get to see the fights they want,” she told me. “It's true, isn't it? Ask Mayweather and Pacquiao.” She also said, “I think Adonis is scared to death of Kovalev. And the fans are getting screwed. And Al Haymon owns that.”
The viewing of Haymon as more hindrance than help to the sport, as someone whose actions and power enrich a select few, rather than the masses, was solidified heavily because of this development.
The month ended with another fight which did not feature the best fighting the best, with Kovalev stopping unbeaten but unknown Cedric Agnew in Atlantic City. Boxing continued to shoot itself in the foot, choke off it’s growth, and retarded the boosting of its fanbase with such matches, which occur because of a fractured political landscape, and power brokers seeking to keep all pieces of the pie on their own plates. We all hope 2015 sees a vast lessening of this greed-is-good reasoning…
Through it all, Haymon kept his head down, and the robot pen signing contracts: Rances Barthelemy, Chad Dawson Luis Collazo, the Peterson brothers, and Robert Guerrero all hopped aboard The H Train in March, leading us dolts to puzzle just what it was being worked for by the man behind the curtain. We still don’t truly know and he exists in a “need to know” basis…in other words, you don’t need to know nuthin, you will learn it on Al’s timeline..which he ain’t sharing with the masses.
March took a turn toward the ugly, and the year would feature much more of that, as more fighting was found outside the rings as inside.
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