So many good things happening in boxing I cannot even count. We don’t have to talk about the Roc Nation infusion and Sergey Kovalev. Terrace Crawford. Gennady Golovkin. Wladimir Klitschko fighting in the United States again, slowly bringing heavyweight boxing back. Miguel Cotto/Amir Khan calling each other out. Khan says everyone’s name in the book, flipping pages through top ten lists at or near 147 pounds saying, “Hey, fight me!’ I am ready to beat all of you.” Funny thing; Khan can probably do it.
I ran into Frank Gore about three weeks ago. The coolest part about meeting Gore (besides the fact that he talked to me for three hours, right after he got off the phone with the San Francisco 49ers head coach, Jim Tomsula) was that he thought I was a boxer. Gore goes “Hey, are you a boxer?” I’m like, “Naw. I just stay in good shape.” I was pleasantly surprised by Gore’s boxing IQ. It’s well known throughout the boxing community in the Bay Area that Gore practices pugilism in the gym during the off-season but I did not know he knew the fight game like a hardcore boxing fan.
First topic Gore talked about was Khan. He said Virgil Hunter has Khan looking good. Then he asked me, and a group of a few others, if we think Khan can beat Floyd Mayweather. The former 49ers RB and current Indianapolis Colt clapped his hands in excitement, before he answered his own question; “I think he (Khan) can put hands on him (Mayweather).”
“Hands on him,” is my favorite boxing quote.
“Hands on him,” says boxing is like a game of tag. You hit to not get hit. It’s cat and mouse. Stick and move. Crowd-pleasing slugfests have a place in boxing but most of the greatest champions were keen on protecting their beck. Mayweather gets hit flush. And Roy Jones never got touched during his prime. Khan is a young lion in an old lion’s game. Khan, the once wildly aggressive lion is honing his craft. He’s like a young shooting guard taking too many shots and then suddenly trusting his teammates. Or it’s like Michael Jordan passing the ball to John Paxson to seal the deal in Game 5, 1991 NBA Finals. (I mean, Khan is not MJ because Jordan is the true king. But I know you see the connection.)
Khan is an example of boxing maturity. The game done changed for him, and everyone else. Fight fans. Media. The game is changing all around us. Boxing is on network television now, thanks to Al Haymon. Many neglected to consider that Haymon had a method to his madness years ago. He didn’t sign over 150 active professional boxers to keep them out of the ring. He waited until the right time to pit them against one another. Haymon’s image used to represent bad principles in boxing. He was an example, (in my eyes) of the politics that separated the best boxers from fighting the best. Now Haymon is creating a new way of thinking in boxing that should carry the sport after Mayweather/Pacquiao retire. Haymon doesn’t believe in boxing separation. Haymon believes in boxing monopoly. And his influence is growing daily. Who cares if the fights on Haymon’s PBC series televised on NBC and Spike TV so far were mismatches? They were entertaining fights on free TV.
Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao should have happened years ago. But, nothing is perfect in sports. The NBA had a referee admittedly fix games for gambling purposes, and go to federal prison for cheating. The NFL is America’s favorite sport but no one knows the rules. The NFL replay booth tries to make us believe that our eyes lie to us and create rules on the fly. Then NFL officials pretend like reviewing a play takes five minutes when everyone can figure the result in ten seconds. Major League Baseball is just perfect because we all have time to watch a four-hour game, 162 times a year. Every sport has its flaws, including boxing.
Money matters more than championships. Haymon’s sudden transformation from a behind the scenes boxing master controller, to creating an unofficial boxing league, tells me that the shot callers in sports think miles ahead. They are pushing buttons, making business moves that will make impact years from now.
Mayweather and Pacquiao will not carry boxing long after May 2nd. Are we really going to talk about a rematch for another five years? No. May 2nd is the end of an era. Boxing fans might feel strange when the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao wave starts to calm. But don’t you worry because Haymon is here for the rescue.
Haymon has the crystal ball. Haymon can see the future. And we must thank him for it.