Tag: HBO

Where Is The Hype For Andre Ward – Sergey Kovalev II?

To put it bluntly, the first half of 2017 has been absolutely brilliant for boxing.  We have had massive fights (Joshua-Klitschko), fights with huge implications (Brook-Spence, Thurman-Garcia), entertaining rematches (Frampton-Santa Cruz) and a whole host of fights that seemed to truly embody the notion of the “best fighting the best”.  Hell, we even got the confirmation of perhaps the biggest fight post-Mayweather and Pacquaio announced (Canelo-Golovkin).

So there is nothing to blame if you forgot about a few.  James DeGale vs. Badou Jack was one of the best fights of the year but its hard to believe that was in 2017.  Same goes for Takashi Miura vs. Miguel Roman.  Even the embarrassing bouts were still big enough spectacles that ate up a lot of attention (Canelo-Chavez Jr., and this ongoing Mayweather-McGregor bullshit) and wonder.

Yet, perhaps the most important fight of them all might be taking place this upcoming weekend.  It even checks all the boxes off in terms of massive fights, implications, and entertaining rematch that signifies the best fighting the best.  Hell it could lead to one of the most entertaining trilogies of the new millennia.

Where is the hype for the light heavyweight showdown between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev?  If you forgot or just aren’t that pumped up, I guess I could see that.  HBO has had a 24/7 for it but the Face/Off with Max Kellerman was cancelled.  Ward isn’t the most charismatic fighter and Kovalev does/says enough racist shit to be ignored.  An elite American boxer versus a degrading Russian should particularly sell well due to today’s political climate.

Yet, that hasn’t been there.  The first fight has pretty much been debated since the close but controversial unanimous decision for Andre Ward was announced back in November.  There is a very large and prominent portion of the boxing community who thinks Kovalev’s early round dominance (including knocking Ward down in round 2) was just enough to clinch the fight.  Kovalev immediately exercised his rematch clause and while Ward floated retirement, negotiations did not take too long to finalize.

The peculiarity that is the mainstream ignorance of this fight has struck a chord with myself.  Where is Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman bloviating on First Take?  Where’s the commercials touting and demanding you buy this can’t miss pay-per-view special?  Is HBO’s noted drifting from the sport that pronounced where they aren’t even bothering, sans a 24/7, to really push for this?  Did Canelo-Golovkin basically take all the juice out of the promotion for this?

Throughout the week I hope to cover this fight a bit more because well, I have been thinking about this fight for a couple months now.  The undercard features the dominant but inactive Guillermo Rigondeaux, who can often toe the line between boxing brilliance and sleep-inducing, against a game and undefeated Moises Flores.  A potential showcase fight for future LHW contender Dmitry Bivol should also entertain.

At first blush, I lean Ward to take the rematch.  While I believe Kovalev is a top ten pound-for-pound contender, I do think he has shown definite problems with his stamina and issues with fighting on the inside.  Ward easily exploited that once he figured out Krusher’s timing and while it was ugly, Ward took advantage of clinching and using a quick jab.

But while Kovalev is no brawling brute, he still has the big equalizer and that’s the power in both his hands.  Kovalev has made mincemeat out of enough contenders, and while his two batterings of Jean Pascal haven’t aged well (thanks to Pascal’s slide); they still were absolutely dominating a genuine contender.  Ward’s power isn’t anywhere near Paulie Malignaggi levels but he hasn’t shown the ability to pulverize opponents in a way Kovalev has had.

But hey, let’s kick up this hype machine a bit shall we?

I don’t always tweet about boxing, in fact its usually just stupid bullshit, jokes and the Phillies but feel free to follow @TheJoekes

What Is Next For Terence Crawford?

In another edition of the quickly diminishing “World Championship Boxing” series from HBO came a bout between 140-pound king Terence Crawford against 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz of the Dominican Republic.  While Crawford was the overwhelming favorite, there was some hope that Diaz could cause some trouble for the son of Omaha.  Diaz, who last notably defeated Sammy Vazquez Jr. had only one loss; a controversial one against the tough Lamont Peterson.

However quickly, those thoughts faded as Diaz basically looked like if Shawn Porter decided to fight without arms.  Crawford was openly toying and mocking Diaz, who valiantly tried to fight back, and really the corner stopping the fight after the 10th round was probably a round or two too late.  Diaz, for what its worth, did find Crawford’s chin a couple of times which is a lot more than what could’ve been said by previous contenders John Molina Jr. and Viktor Postol.

Regardless of who is fighting whom, part of me is always convinced that there is a chance an upset can occur.  It is a lottery ticket thought, more often unrealized than anything, but boxing has taught us before that anything can be possible.  However, usually there comes a point where you realize that the other person in that ring is just too better than the other one.

A prime example was before this month’s sacrifice of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at the hands of Canelo Alvarez, I thought that the upset was possible until the camera zoomed in on Jr.’s face after the third or fourth round.  There you saw an overmatched boxer against just an a fighter who is not only better than them but on a whole different level.

In the case of “Bud” Crawford versus Felix Diaz, that moment almost felt like it came instantly.  Much like David Lemieux’s defeat against Gennady Golovkin, Diaz had no answer for just the jab of Crawford.  Diaz would sometimes swing wildly and find a target but otherwise it was just wide punches met with crisp, accurate and powerful responses from Crawford.

Terence Crawford has been great for a while, pretty much you can point to his outclassing of Yuriorkis Gamboa in 2014.  But this was the first time, I felt that a star was quickly approaching.  Crawford is not even one of the bigger names in boxing yet but you started to feel the energy, even watching on TV, that he might be on the cusp of breaking through a bit more.

Since his 2016 knockout of Hammerin’ Hank Lundy, Crawford has maybe lost two of his last 35 rounds.  While he hasn’t exactly faced a murderer’s row, do not fall for what hindsight tells you.  Viktor Postol was the consensus #2 fighter at the time, after his dismantling of Lucas Matthyse, in the 140 pound weight class.  Crawford battered him across the ring.  John Molina Jr. was basically a fill-in for Diaz, but did beat the rugged Ruslan Provodnikov beforehand.  They might not be pound-for-pound threats, but they have all been in the ring and held their own against good fighters.

At this point you have to wonder what is next for Bud?  A showdown with Manny Pacquiao would be better now than it will ever be but will Pacquiao be up for the challenge or will this barnstorming tour just be a cash out with Pac going to the highest bidder?  A move up to welterweight to face the likes of Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia or the winner of Kell Brook and Errol Spence Jr. could be appealing.  The possibility of being the full unified champion at 140 pounds would be fascinating, and Julius Indongo of Nambia has really earned a shot.  Hell, I would even love to see Mikey Garcia though he seems to be groomed for an Adrien Broner bout and the marinating of a showdown with Vasyl Lomachenko seems to have begun.

The thing is, Crawford is very close to being the best boxer on the planet.  It is not his fault if no one will fight him, and he shouldn’t be having to chase opponents.  We all know that dollars run boxing and its just as possible Crawford faces Amir Imam on a TopRank PPV rather than a big name on HBO.  With Bob Arum’s diehard belief that he wants Crawford fighting more than twice a year (something we can all agree on), and that his next fight might not even be on HBO…that Imam fight possibility should be prepared for.

Regardless, Crawford is a star even if he has not crossed over yet.  This is a fighter who has the power, accumulation, speed, defense, athleticism, mean streak and brash competitiveness that separates the elite from the all-time greats.  Maybe I am getting ahead of myself, but while Canelo Alvarez and Anthony Joshua might be the top of the food chain financially; Crawford is soon to be the alpha of the pound-for-pound ratings.