Another Enjoyable Edition of "The Fight Game"
Readers, forgive me for being tardy, for letting my DVR back up, for not watching and re-capping and commenting on the third installment of "The Fight Game," Jim Lampley's magazine news show which ran on Sept. 23.
The host touched on the dueling cards which fell on Sept. 15, both in Vegas, which he pointed out many, myself included, felt would be a dilutive, counter-productive scenario. I had begged--OK, not begged, I will beg for a couple things in life, but this isn't one of them--for chieftains Ken Hershman of HBO and Stephen Espinoza of Showtime to sit down, break bread, drink vino, and agree to trade off fight Saturdays. But it turns out that in this DVR age, the deluge didn't swamp fight fans, or force them to pick and choose between Sergio-Chavez or Canelo-Lopez, but instead resulted in an atmosphere where boxing trended harder in the minds of sports fans, because of the wealth of product available.
Lampley touched on Sergio Martinez' brilliance against Julio Cesar Chavez Junior, noting that the Argentine was far busier against Cheech, throwing 76 tosses a round, than he had been in his previous three outings, when he threw 57 a round. Going in, we heard from Team Martinez that we'd see a different, better Sergio, because he was more pumped to face Junior, than he had been to meet Sergiy Dzinziruk, Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin, and that made sense then, and played out as predicted.
Lampley called round 12 of this fight as "round of the year" and dissected the scrap with Roy Jones, who joined him in studio. In a rematch, Jones said that Junior now knows he can take Martinez' best shots, and can put him down. Both men could benefit from the knowledge gleaned in the Sept. 15 scrap. The knockdown and the positive urine test will result in Junior getting more serious, Roy said, going in to a rematch. Would Sergio fight more cautiously next time? Probably, because he won't have the same chip on his shoulder. "Chavez gonna come a lot harder this time," Jones predicted. "TFG" then replayed the last round.
Lampley then pivoted to the Showtime card, featuring Canelo Alvarez. Lampley right away noted that his foe, Josesito Lopez, was "lesser opposition than he deserved." He then said that Showtime refused to give HBO footage of that Canelo fight, and busted on that decision, a loss of valuable publicity, he said. Note: I emailed Showtime's Stephen Espinoza to ask for some clarity about this issue so when I hear from him, I will share that info with you all.
Lampley noted that Victor Ortiz and Paul Williams, who'd both been slated to fight the Mexican, were both ringside to watch Canelo-Lopez, and lauded Williams for his heroic demeanor in the face of being paralyzed from that motorcycle accident.
On to the dueling cards, which boiled down to a HBO-Showtime and Top Rank-Golden Boy tussle. Lampley showed that both sides sold ample tickets, and drew a good gate, though the Martinez-led card did better, 16,939 to 12,860, and $3 million to $1.6 million, and also exceeded PPV expectations. Lampley brought on ESPN's Dan Rafael and MaxBoxing's Steve Kim to analyze the busy Saturday night. Kim said that this occasion worked to the benefit of all, but said in the long term, it is a dangerous precedent. Rafael agreed, and said that he doesn't think "anyone wins." He said fans could have benefitted if they could have attended both shows. He threw a shot at Golden Boy, for not realizing that "they had the lesser fight." He said "99 percent of the top media guys that I'm aware of, including Steve" were at the Martinez-Chavez card. Lampley asked if any numbers were inflated, and Rafael said ticket sales numbers for the Golden Boy card were regarded with a raised eyebrow, after a release went out touting a sold-out show was found to be flat-out wrong.
Lampley then asked about the pot positive, and how that might affect a rematch between him and Martinez. Kim said that marijuana can cause laziness, but no, it is not a PED. It is an indication that Junior doesn't treat the process of preparation seriously enough.
Rafael said that he will watch the fourth Pacquiao-Marquez fight, but that he'd rather see Pacquiao-Mayweather. Kim said he'd rather see other fights other than the fourth tussle between the rivals, and said it is a shame that Top Rank and Golden Boy's enmity prevents many no-brainer matchups.
Lampley offered up highlights of Gennady Golovkin, who he termed "explosive." He touched on prospects for Golovkin moving forward, and spotlit Matthew Macklin as a strong possibility for Golovkin. The replay of Macklin going all pitbull on Joachim Alcine looked fearsome.
Lampley then showed Andre Ward in action. He said Junior might bring Ward from Oakland to Vegas, for a PPV payday, but that Ward should fight and beat Martinez first. Martinez, though, is still focused on Mayweather. Ward-Pavlik could occur, the host said. Ward then joined Lampley, via a remote. He said then are not a lot of options now at 168 for him, and that when he moves to 175, he won't go back to 168.
The Gatti List followed Ward. Leo Santa Cruz got a shoutout, but we saw no video of the fighter who might be the "most efficient" boxer offensively today, Lampley said, because Showtime didn't play nice. Next, Jorge Arce, then Victor Ortiz, Vitali Klitschko, Andre Ward, and Canelo "Cool Assassin" Alvarez came next. No video of Canelo, because of Showtime, "Cool Assassin" Lampley noted, lol. Sergio Martinez came next, then Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Brandon Rios, and Mike Alvarado followed. Lampley finished by saying that he is tasked with promoting all HBO fare. The Nonito Donaire-Toshiaki Nishioka tussle Oct. 13 will be rock-solid, he said, but jaws will drop during the Rios-Alvarado undercard faceoff. Lampley said he wouldn't predict this being fight of the year, but... "You don't ever expect to see Gatti-Ward I or Corrales-Castillo I again. But if you see something like it October thirteen, it shouldn't come as any shock."
My take: As expected, another tight production, mixing a fast pace, with some information, some drama, some opinion. I'd be more than happy to see "The Fight Game" get re-signed by HBO, only this time, to run once-a-week.