THREE PUNCH COMBO — The International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY will soon be hosting its annual induction weekend which this year will take place from Thursday June 7th until Sunday June 10th. The four day event is a celebration of the sport and concludes with the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sunday which will enshrine legends Vitali Klitschko, Erik Morales and Winky Wright, among others, into boxing’s hallowed hall. For anyone who is a true fan of the sport, Hall of Fame weekend is a bucket list event.
I began attending Boxing Hall of Fame weekend in 2014 and have returned every year since. So why is this always a special weekend? For one, it is the incredible access fans have to current and former fighters. Each year, the Hall brings in many of the top names in the sport, both past and present, to help celebrate the sport with the fans. Often times, these fighters can be found mingling with the crowd during the day. This presents fans with rare opportunities to chat it up with legends of the sport.
The Hall of Fame sets up a variety of events during the weekend. One of the most popular is the ringside lectures that take place on the IBHOF grounds. Fighters and those involved in the sport get on the stage to talk about some of their experiences. This is a great opportunity to hear some insightful stories that otherwise wouldn’t be heard. In addition, those on stage will usually follow with an autograph session which is always popular for the fans.
I have certainly had my share of unforgettable experiences attending Hall of Fame weekend in Canastota. One of the events I have participated in has been the golf outing which takes place on Saturday. In 2015, following the conclusion of golf, I sat down at one of the tables to have lunch and Michael Spinks walked over shortly after to ask if he could join me. Needless to say, having lunch with Michael Spinks in Canastota ranks high on my list of great moments in my life.
Canastota is a very small town. During Hall of Fame weekend, you never know who you may meet at any given time. Last year, my wife and I made the short walk to Dunkin Donuts following a day full of events on Saturday on the IBHOF grounds. We grabbed some coffee and were going to head out after some traffic cleared. A few minutes later, in walked Junior Jones and we ended up talking boxing with Junior for well over an hour.
I can go on and on with the memorable experiences I have enjoyed since I began attending this event. It is truly the highlight of my year and I am looking forward to more unforgettable memories this year. I know there are plenty of boxing fans out there who have been contemplating making a trip to Canastota for Hall of Fame weekend but have not yet done so. That used to be me and when I first went in 2014 I instantly knew I’d never miss another one. I would suggest knocking this off the bucket list as soon as possible and I can pretty much guarantee that after experiencing Hall of Fame weekend just once, you’ll never want to miss another.
Is Lomachenko-Linares II Inevitable?
On May 12th in New York, Vasyl Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KO’s) got off the deck to stop Jorge Linares (44-4, 27 KO’s) in the 10th round to win a lightweight world title belt. The fight was action-packed and full of drama. It certainly begs for a rematch and given the current state of the lightweight division, a rematch seems very likely sooner rather than later.
Lomachenko wants big fights. From the first day he turned pro, he has sought out the biggest and best challenges. Top Rank also wants big fights for him and to turn him into a pay-per-view draw. However, the issue at lightweight at this time is that there are not a lot of big fights to be made.
It appears Lomachenko will be back in the ring in August and the opponent, in all probability, will be Ray Beltran. Beltran is a solid guy who also holds a belt. However, he does not figure to be much of a threat to Lomachenko.
After Beltran, there are British contenders Luke Campbell and Anthony Crolla. Both are good fighters but neither seemingly has the skill set to be competitive with Lomachenko. Both Campbell and Crolla have recent losses to Linares on their respective resumes which makes them all the more difficult to sell as pay-per-view-quality opponents for Lomachenko.
Gervonta Davis and Mikey Garcia represent the type of big pay-per-view event that Top Rank is seeking. The issue here is boxing politics. Mountains would have to be moved to get either Davis or Garcia in the ring with Lomachenko, at least in the near future.
What about a move to 140 for Lomachenko to seek some other challenges? Well, seeing that he was just put on the seat of his pants by a natural lightweight in Linares, it appears that he won’t be headed north of 135 anytime soon.
All this leads us back to Linares and why a rematch with Lomachenko seems natural. The first fight was entertaining, competitive and filled with drama right up to the conclusion. It will certainly get consideration for fight of the year. Linares tested Lomachenko in a way that we had not seen since he fought Orlando Salido in 2014. There would be big interest in a rematch between Lomachenko and Linares. Top Rank wants to take Lomachenko to pay-per-view and this would be a fight that could go that route. The stars are all aligned and I suspect we get Lomachenko-Linares II sometime before the first half of 2019.
PASPA and Boxing
On Monday, May 14th, the Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, overturned PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) by a vote of 6-3. This decision allows every state to offer sports betting of the sort previously found only in Nevada. With the floodgates now opened, what will be the impact on boxing?
The obvious impact, for boxing and other sports, is that sports betting will expand the audience. Simply put, if someone has skin in the game, they are more likely to watch the event. That can only be a positive for boxing in this country.
One area of the sport that will see a big impact is the smaller fights that are often buried on undercards. These bouts will now attract much more attention than they have in the past. As an example, take a look at the UK betting market in regards to boxing. On big shows such as last week’s card that was headlined by Lee Selby defending his featherweight title against Josh Warrington, several undercard fights had some sort of betting line posted. These would not by any stretch be considered major fights but there was interest enough from those who bought tickets or tuned in on television to post betting lines on these small fights. I foresee that we will see something similar here in the United States as more and more states offer legalized sports wagering.
With more attention being paid to fights that otherwise were getting largely ignored, the sport will naturally grow. We have seen it happen overseas and now it will happen in the United States. The overturning of PASPA, in my opinion, will prove to be a major positive for boxing in the years ahead.
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