Fightful Boxing Newsletter (11/29) Table Of Contents:
3. Latest On Boxing’s Status For The 2020 Olympics
4. November 24 Matchroom Boxing On DAZN Results
5. November 24 HBO World Championship Boxing Results
6. Gennady Golovkin To DAZN?
Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury Preview
For years, Deontay Wilder had been asking for the attention and respect that he deserved from the boxing world and outside of it as he is the WBC heavyweight champion, but without a signature win that would catapult Wilder into mainstream stardom, it was hard for him to become a true megastar in the United States.
Wilder has all the attributes to become a transcendent star: he’s a big heavyweight with insane knockout ability, has excellent talking ability for the most part, is willing to speak with the media and at least half of his world title fights took place in major markets in the United States with very positive ratings results on Showtime.
But because boxing’s popularity in the United States waned since the 1990s and mid-2000s and with problem of too many major world titles in the sport (as well as the other heavyweight champions being from Europe), there was little Wilder can do to become a major star without being the headline of a big-time matchup.
Enter Tyson Fury.
Fury, the undefeated former world champion who ended Wladimir Klitschko’s historic run through the heavyweight division, has returned to the sport after a two-and-a-half year-long battle with drugs, depression and the British Boxing Board of Control over his suspended license. Now that he is back, he’ll be Wilder’s biggest test as not just a boxer when the two headline a pay-per-view at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on December 1, but also for the United States boxing market and see how a heavyweight pay-per-view could work in 2018.
Even though it’s only been 16 years since the last time a heavyweight fight of this magnitude took place in the United States (Lennox Lewis beating Mike Tyson in 2002), the sport is completely different in 2018.
For starters, the aforementioned drop in popularity have hurt the marketability of boxers throughout the United States. With HBO’s viewership steadily decreasing and no other big non-premium networks working to actively push boxing as a regular part of their broadcasting, the ceiling on how popular boxers can be has been set outside of a select few who would still find a way to make themselves into superstars.
Secondly, the idea of pay-per-view being the only way to get big fights in the United States started to hold weight less and less with each passing day. With the advent of online streaming, it was hard to successfully market pay-per-view events, which for the most part, was how the biggest stars in the sport would agree to fight each other because it would yield the highest financial reward if the show was a commercial success.
That’s not to say pay-per-view is dead because it is far from the truth. Fans will pay $60, $70, $80 for a fight if it really is that appealing, but given what we know from boxing and UFC, regular pay-per-views on a monthly or bi-monthly basis just doesn’t work.
With Wilder vs. Fury, it does appear to have that can’t miss, big-fight feel that successful pay-per-view events have, but with both men making their debut in such events in the United States, it’s hard to see how successful this fight can truly be.
So before we see them step into the ring, it’s important to remember how we got to this point?
It’s easy to forget that this fight was technically in the making since early 2016 when Wilder stepped into the ring to confront Wilder after Wilder made a title defense in Brooklyn, New York.
Of course, that confrontation never resulted in an immediate match, but it’s been one that’s stuck in the back of both fighters’ mind for many months, even as Wilder kept looking for a fight against Anthony Joshua.
During Fury’s absence from the sport, Joshua would become one of the biggest British heavyweight stars in recent memory thanks to a superb marketing strategy from Matchroom Boxing, Olympic gold medal from 2012 and eventual legacy-defining win over Klitschko in 2017.
While Joshua kept winning world titles, Wilder would remain defending his WBC heavyweight title and calling out the British champion at every possible moment. Earlier this year, we nearly had the fight until negotiations hit a major roadblock that would eventually put an end to a fight happening in 2018.
Once Fury entered the title picture again, his loyal fanbase would return and the idea of him facing Wilder quickly came to fruition. After Fury’s two wins over Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta were done, both sides took the opportunity to strike while the iron is hot and make the fight a reality under the concept that Wilder and Fury are the real top heavyweights in the world because they actively sought out the best and did everything in their power to make those big fights a reality, something Joshua was incapable of doing, according to the two.
One of the big stories of the fight involves the actual success of the pay-per-view. If we learned anything from recent history, it’s that no matter how compelling a matchup is, unless your show has Canelo Alvarez or Floyd Mayweather Jr. fighting, getting a high buyrate is next to impossible. Since 2015, only two pay-per-views (out of seven) that didn’t feature either Alvarez or Mayweather have managed to draw a buyrate more than 200,000 and both of those shows had Manny Pacquiao in the main event.
But the one common denominator in boxing pay-per-views since 2007 is that there were no heavyweight main events and in the United States, the biggest heavyweight star would almost always be more popular than the biggest star outside heavyweight. Quite frankly, Wilder has been the biggest and most consistent heavyweight star that is also American since Tyson and if you compare the two, Wilder does not have the resume, or the star power that Tyson ever carried even after his prime.
The top story after the fight is the buyrate because that could potentially impact how PBC, FOX and Showtime market Wilder moving forward. If the buyrate is low (under 225,000 by my expectations), then Wilder would go back to fighting on television as after Fury (if Wilder wins), there really is no heavyweight worthy of warranting a pay-per-view event. The only one would be Joshua and Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has made it clear that he wants Joshua vs. Wilder on DAZN in the American market. With a low buyrate, Wilder would have little leverage against Hearn once negotiations are expected to at least pick up come December 2.
However, if the buyrate is high (and in this case, I would consider at least 400,000 buys to be pretty high), then it gives Wilder plenty to offer on the negotiation table as it shows that Wilder can be considered a real American sports star.
If anything, the high buyrate would only make a Joshua fight even bigger as now the fight would no longer be billed as one between two heavyweight champions, but against two larger-than-life stars in their respective countries. If recent history has shown us, the most successful fights are between the biggest stars, not the best fighters.
If the event ends up being a flop, it definitely will not be for lack of trying. PBC and Showtime have made a real effort to ensure the show’s success.
The press conferences, outside of a couple of bad quotes from Wilder and Fury in London, have largely done their job of creating noteworthy moments without going too overboard or cringeworthy like in some of the press conferences Mayweather and Conor McGregor conducted last year.
The fight also continues a unique rivalry between heavyweights from the United States and the United Kingdom. Unfortunately for Fury, American boxers have mostly come out on top. The only two notable instances of British fighters beating American boxers in heavyweight title fights was the aforementioned Lewis vs. Tyson fight which Lewis won and before that, Bob Fitzsimmons defeating Jim Corbett in a big upset (Fitzsimmons moved up from middleweight to heavyweight for that fight) to capture the world heavyweight title in 1897.
Regardless of the history, the event itself does have a lot of potential to be a special night in boxing. If anything, it is the biggest heavyweight title fight since Joshua’s win over Klitschko in 2017.
A number of former heavyweight champions and title challengers even weighed in on the fight and gave their prediction:
Mike Tyson: "Although Wilder's punch is strong, nothing can compare to the mental strength Fury has shown both in and out of the ring. It'll be a close call, but I think Fury's got a true fighting chance."
Evander Holyfield: "It's a great fight. Fury's got a lot of skills, he's awkward and he has long arms. He has good reflexes and is a strong counter-puncher. Deontay needs to be first and he can't wait on Tyson. Tyson's always been the bigger fighter. In fighting Deontay it's the same case. If things get difficult, he's (Fury) got more experience and a lot of tricks. I think with Deontay's power, he might be able to end it early, but if Tyson can frustrate him and it goes the distance, then it could go his way."
Lennox Lewis: "If it goes the distance then it belongs to Tyson Fury. If it's a short fight it will belong to Deontay Wilder. This is an epic and most-unpredictable showdown. I can't wait for this fight."
George Foreman: "I am a big fan of Deontay Wilder and I was impressed with Tyson Fury and how he avoided the big shots against Wladimir Klitschko. I can see him going 12 rounds with Wilder because of his height and reach. The great thing about this fight is that we're all talking about it. I think Wilder wins a close decision."
Riddick Bowe: "If Wilder comes out and means business then he should beat Fury with ease. My prediction is Wilder by knockout!"
Gerry Cooney: "Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury is a very interesting fight. I love Tyson Fury. I think he's a remarkable self-promoter, and he did a great job with Wladimir Klitschko, using his feints and throwing Klitschko off his game plan. Deontay is a different kind of fighter, though. Fury fights at 30 miles per hour. Deontay fights at 100 miles per hour. So, when Deontay catches Fury and gets ahold of him I think it's going to be over. I admire Fury, but I think he's barking up the wrong tree with this fight. I think the bottom line is that Deontay is a whole different type of beast. He comes in aggressive and finishes his opponents. I hate to pick, but somebody has to lose. I'm picking Deontay by knockout and I think it ends inside of four or five rounds."
Luis Ortiz: "If Fury decides he wants to dip and dive and move, then he can extend the fight. But it's all up to Wilder. If Fury decides he wants to come to the middle of the ring and fight, then it's going to be over quick. Wilder is going to catch him. Prediction: Wilder by KO."
Chris Arreola: "I think Wilder fighting Ortiz and now Fury back-to-back gives the fans exciting fights. I like both Wilder and Fury, but for this fight I am leaning slightly toward Wilder to win."
Moving on to the main event itself, there is a compelling argument for picking either fighter to win on Saturday. The argument for Wilder is much more simple: Wilder's power advantage and beast-like mentality in the ring is too much for pretty much anyone to come.
We've seen what smart boxing can do to Wilder when he faced Luis Ortiz this past March. Ortiz was able to prevent Wilder from throwing his usual big punches early. Ortiz managed to effectively outbox Wilder in the first half of the fight and looked well on his way to pulling off the upset. But the reality was that Ortiz was never able to sustain his gameplan against Wilder through 12 rounds. It's practically impossible. All it took for Wilder was one moment break the ice and land that big punch to Ortiz, which effectively gave Wilder the confidence to move forward and attack relentlessly until he stopped the Cuban heavyweight in the 10th round.
In order for Wilder to win, all he needs is a chance to showcase his power and he'll be well on his way to another successful world title defense by knockout.
Convincing someone that Fury is going to come out on top is significantly much tougher.
Forget the X's and O's, the ins and outs of the sport, the skills that each fighter brings to the table for a moment. The biggest uncertainty regarding Fury is his ability to get in the same kind of mindset that he was when he beat Klitschko three years ago. Since then, Fury fought only twice, both of those fights being this year.
In no way do I mean to disrespect Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta, Fury's two opponents prior to this fight, but when looking at the footage of both fights, you can't say that Fury can beat Wilder. It's not because Fury looked bad in those fights or showed that he lost a step, but mainly because Seferi and Pianeta did not bring any challenge to their respective fights and make Fury show the ability that he had when he beat Klitschko. They were glorified exhibition matches that simply were done to get Fury some rounds under his belt before actually having to fight the best in the division.
One would have to look at that Klitschko fight to make a decision and see whether or not Fury can beat Wilder. The problem here is that fight was three years ago and you can't really make a case for a fighter winning against someone like Wilder based on three-year-old footage against someone who is almost a polar opposite to Wilder in terms of skills and mentality in the ring.
What will it take for Fury to win? Basically do what Ortiz did to Wilder in those first few rounds and somehow do it for 12 whole rounds. It sounds almost impossible as it not only takes a seriously gifted boxer (which Fury is), but also someone with an insane amount of stamina and heart to keep that steady gameplan going without succumbing to Wilder's power at any point in the fight.
In theory, it's doable for someone like Fury to actually pull off the upset (which according to betting odds, would barely count as an upset). Looking at how Fury trained and how his body looks, it's easy to say that Fury is in the best shape of his career. It's also worth noting that we are seeing a much more mentally sound Tyson Fury, one that is able to overcome his inner demons that nearly drove him to suicide, and that kind of mental fortitude could potentially be the X factor in the fight.
While overall, the fight could end up being an unappealing one to some due to the contrasting natures of each boxer, it will surely no doubt be a fascinating watch to what is going to be a busy night of boxing.
The rest of the pay-per-view card is not exactly the most exciting on paper, but it does offer some interesting names. The co-main event fight will have unified junior middleweight champion Jarrett Hurd returning to the ring for the first time since undergoing surgery for a torn rotator cuff earlier in the year.
Hurd will be defending his titles against British titleholder Jason Welborn and the fight is being treated as nothing more than a tune-up fight for the big 154-pound bout in 2019 which is a title unification against fellow champion Jermell Charlo. Charlo is defending his WBC title against Tony Harrison on December 22 in Brooklyn, but the idea is to potentially have Hurd and Charlo conclude a build-up that has been taking place since October 2017 and headline either a FOX or Showtime card next spring or next summer.
The other two fights on the undercard are a pair of heavyweight fights that serve nothing more than to showcase former title challenger Luis Ortiz and British prospect Joe Joyce in separate fights. It’s understandable since there is no need to put them in big matches at this moment since Ortiz wasn’t fighting Wilder, Joshua or even Dillian Whyte at this time of the year. Ortiz could still be in the running for a shot at a title in 2019, so getting him in a fight with Travis Kauffman where Ortiz is likely knocking him out will make him look good for 2019.
As for Joyce, he’s another British heavyweight prospect who is taking his talents stateside in the hopes that he becomes a major star in the future. While Joyce has looked good in his few fights as a pro, he’s still a long way from ever challenging for a title so his fight against Joe Adams serves as nothing more than another few rounds for Joyce to get under his belt.
Overall, the pay-per-view card doesn’t look all too impressive, but there is potential in the undercard producing some exciting highlights in what is otherwise three mismatches on paper.
The undercard does also feature a number of notable names including Chris Arreola and Robert Guerrero, both of whom are returning to the ring after lengthy absences from the sport. Originally, there was supposed to be a fight between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Alfredo Angulo that fell through a week ago due to Chavez not being ready for the fight and not attending some medical appointments that he needed to attend per the commission’s orders. Instead, PBC added junior middleweight contender Julian Williams to the card.
There is one notable fight that has not really gotten any attention whatsoever and that is a fight between Mark Anthony Barriga and Carlos Licona for the vacant IBF minimumweight world title. The title was made vacant by Hiroto Kyoguchi, who had held the belt since July 2017, in order for Kyoguchi to move up in weight in an attempt to challenge for a light flyweight world title. Kyoguchi will fight WBA light flyweight titleholder Hekkie Budler in Macao on December 31 in one of the biggest boxing cards in Asia for 2018. One other interesting note on the IBF fight in Los Angeles is that it is the first time since 2005 where a minimumweight world title fight took place in the United States.
The night will start with Showtime airing a live broadcast from Los Angeles previewing the entire pay-per-view, capped off by the WBC light heavyweight title fight between Adonis Stevenson and Oleksandr Gvozdyk, which is actually taking place in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
Tale of the Tape:
Record: 40-0 (39 KO)
Notable Wins: Luis Ortiz, Bermane Stiverne, Chris Arreola
Titles Won: WBC Heavyweight World Title
Record: 27-0 (19 KO)
Notable Wins: Wladimir Klitschko, Christian Hammer, Dereck Chisora, Steve Cunningham
Titles Won: WBA “Super” Heavyweight, WBO Heavyweight, IBF Heavyweight, Lineal Heavyweight, The Ring Magazine Heavyweight, IBO Heavyweight World Titles
Betting Odds (Provided by PaddyPower.com):
Deontay Wilder Win: 8/15
Deontay Wilder Win by KO/TKO: 10/11
Deontay Wilder Win by Decision: 5/1
Tyson Fury Win: 8/5
Tyson Fury Win by KO/TKO: 15/2
Tyson Fury Win by Decision: 5/2
Fight ends in a Draw: 28/1
Fight goes the distance: 5/4
Fight does not go the distance: 4/7
Manny Pacquiao Set For Adrien Broner Fight:
The answer to the question of who Manny Pacquiao will face as the first fight into a multi-fight deal with Premier Boxing Champions has been answered.
The eight-division champion will face four-division titleholder Adrien Broner on January 19, 2019 in the main event of a Showtime-produced pay-per-view at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The fight would be for Pacquiao’s WBA “regular” welterweight title.
If anything, it’s a semi-competitive fight on paper and a unique matchup that not many, if any, would have foreseen even a year ago as Pacquiao was coming off his controversial upset loss to Jeff Horn on Australia.
As much as Showtime and PBC is trying to sell people on the idea of buying the pay-per-view for the matchup alone, they are also trying to sell people on the idea that if Pacquiao wins, we will get a rematch between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
It wasn’t just enough that Pacquiao and Mayweather had their meeting in Japan to build up on the idea that a rematch is possible for 2019. The idea of a second fight between the two dominated the conversation in two press conferences held in New York and Los Angeles so much so, that Broner was being looked at more as a roadblock to Mayweather-Pacquiao 2 than just being the second half of the first major boxing pay-per-view main event of 2019.
While the idea of a rematch may seem far-fetched, Showtime and PBC wouldn’t be doing that much promotion for a hypothetical fight in the middle of a press conference for another fight if they didn’t have some form of assurance that the two sides would at least seriously negotiate it. It’s why when press releases were sent out with quotes from the press conferences were sent out, the topic of Mayweather came up in both Los Angeles and New York.
Question from Los Angeles: Will the Mayweather rematch be next?
Pacquiao: “I can’t give you an answer, but if you ask me, it would be good for me to have that fight.”
Broner: “January 19, I am coming to win. Screw the money, I’m going to be victorious. They keep talking about a Pacquiao-Mayweather 2, but I’m going to mess those plans up. I just don’t see Manny Pacquiao beating me.”
Pacquiao in New York: “When I met up with Floyd [Mayweather] in Japan, we talked and he said he wants to come out of retirement to challenge me. All I know is fighting in the ring and entertaining people. That’s my job. Floyd has come out of retirement and we’ll see after this fight, but we cannot underestimate Broner and this fight. We will discuss anything with Floyd Mayweather after that.
As Pacquiao is coming off an impressive knockout victory over Lucas Matthysse this past summer and Broner has not fought since a draw against Jessie Vargas in April (and is winless since February 2017), one would think that Pacquiao is coming in as a somewhat heavy favorite in the matchup. In all actuality, the fight is fairly close as far as betting odds go. When the fight was announced, Pacquiao opened as a -250 favorite while Broner is only a +200 underdog at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.
As of this writing, there’s only one other fight that is heading to the pay-per-view card and that is a light heavyweight bout between Marcus Browne and Badou Jack, although that bout has yet to be officially announced. That fight could potentially be the fight of the night and even of the month. The fight would pit arguably the two biggest contenders at 175 pounds that do not have title fights scheduled.
The fight may not be a title eliminator, but it essentially is one given how high both men are ranked among the four major governing bodies. Since both men are fighting under the PBC banner, it’s more than likely that the winner will get a shot at either the winner of Adonis Stevenson vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk for the WBC title this Saturday or WBA champion Dmitry Bivol, should Bivol elect to sign a co-promotional deal with PBC.
Bivol last defended his title on HBO when he defeated former world champion Jean Pascal, but with HBO going out of business, Bivol is left without a television home and is surely going to attract the attention of Showtime/FOX, ESPN and DAZN.
Latest On Boxing’s Status For The 2020 Olympics:
As boxing faces the very real possibility of not being a part of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the sport’s largest governing body at the amateur level (AIBA) has elected its new president.
Gafur Rakhimov was voted as the new president after winning an election against Serik Konakbayev. Rakhimov was voted in by many of the world’s governing bodies, winning with a 86-48 majority vote.
The results of the election comes off as controversial as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had publicly denounced Rakhimov as an option to become the new head of AIBA. Rakhimov, an Uzbek businessman, has been accused by the U.S. Treasury as being linked to the global heroin trade and the IOC had stated that voting Rakhimov in would be a terrible move and could potentially result in boxing not being a part of the next Olympics.
Rakhimov, who was previously the Vice President of AIBA, has since then denied the allegations, but nonetheless, it puts boxing in a tough position in regards to its future in the Olympics. The IOC will look at the AIBA and further discuss amateur boxing’s future when it has an executive board meeting starting on November 30 in Tokyo. Whether or not the IOC makes a final ruling on that meeting remains to be seen, but at the very least, there should be a final deadline set for the final decision with the Olympics taking place in less than 24 months.
AIBA has been under scrutiny for the past couple of years after controversial judging took place in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, most notably with the Michael Conlan situation. The AIBA was then revealed to be under financial stress, which led to the exit of C.K. Wu as president of the organization. Back in February, the IOC started making threats to the AIBA of taking out boxing for the 2020 Games unless serious improvements are made with a deadline of around April for an update on how things have progressed. Needless to say, the AIBA is still working to convince the IOC that steps are being taken to rid itself of its shady roots.
Azerbaijani company Benkons also sent out a letter demanding AIBA to pay back an £8 million loan from 2011. A source within the organization said AIBA only has £2 million in its account despite receiving about £14 million in investments from the IOC to help the organization through the 2020 Summer Olympics, which will take place in Tokyo. An executive committee member was also removed by the AIBA president after the executive was worried about possible irregularities within the organizations finances. That executive member was reinstated by Swiss courts, where AIBA headquarters are located, in mid-July 2017.
This isn't the first time the international amateur boxing governing body has faced issues with the IOC resulting in funds being blocked. A referee scandal from the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece resulted in the Olympic committee withholding more than $1 million worth of television rights from those Olympic Games.
It should go without saying that boxing being taken out of the next Olympics could have a profound impact on amateur boxing all over the world. Countries such as the United States, Cuba, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and even host nation Japan among others, rely on the Olympics to further develop these boxers and use the Games as a platform for the next set of pro stars. Without the Olympics, boxing's credibility takes a major hit given how the perception by some people that it is a dirty and corrupt sport still rings true to this very day.
If boxing is able to remain and it can be contested in Tokyo, then there will be some changes to its weight classes as women’s boxing were given two more divisions and a fair number of men’s weight classes had been changed as a result of that.
With greater emphasis on women's boxing, the 2020 Olympics will feature a record five weight classes for female Olympic boxers. Two weight classes, featherweight (57 kg/125 lbs) and welterweight (69 kg/152 lbs) have been added to the already existing flyweight, lightweight and middleweight.
With more women's boxing weight classes being included into the 2020 Olympic rotation if the IOC ultimately gives the sport the green light to be a part of the event, a number of changes had to be made on the men's side. First, men’s light flyweight, bantamweight and light welterweight, all men's weight classes from the 2016 Olympics, are not going to be there for 2020. Secondly, men’s featherweight (57 kg/125 lbs) was added and lastly, men’s lightweight was restructured from 60 kg/132 lbs to 63 kg/138 lbs.
Below is the final lineup for boxing weight classes are going to be in the 2020 Olympics:
Men's Weight Classes:
- Flyweight (52 kg/114 lbs)
- Featherweight (57 kg/ 125 lbs)
- Lightweight (63 kg/ 138 lbs)
- Welterweight (69 kg/ 152 lbs)
- Middleweight (75 kg/ 165 lbs)
- Light Heavyweight (81 kg/ 178 lbs)
- Heavyweight (91 kg/ 201 lbs)
- Super Heavyweight (91+ kg/ 201+ lbs)
Women's Weight Classes:
- Flyweight (51 kg/ 112 lbs)
- Featherweight (57 kg/ 125 lbs)
- Lightweight (60 kg/ 132 lbs)
- Welterweight (69 kg/ 152 lbs)
- Middleweight (75 kg/ 165 lbs)
Rakhimov being voted as the new president could backfire tremendously, but it isn't a guarantee that boxing is officially out of the Olympics. It will take a strong sell from the AIBA to the IOC that not only is the organization taking steps to improve, but also show that Rakhimov is the best man moving forward and convince them that the accusations regarding his alleged illegal business dealings are not true in the slightest.
November 24 Matchroom Boxing On DAZN Results:
Matchroom Boxing returned to Monaco on November 24 for a card that was viewable in the United States on DAZN. The top two fights were a WBA super flyweight title fight between Kal Yafai and Israel Gonzalez and a cruiserweight fight between Denis Lebedev and Mike Wilson.
The card took place at the Casino de Monte Carlo, which is the same venue that saw Dmitry Bivol knock out Trent Broadhurst in one round this time last year.
Not much occurred on the card as there was one surprise result from the top four fights, but I do have to mention how bizarre boxing cards at Monte Carlo are. The venue is like a ballroom that only can fit a couple hundred attendees with the ring in the middle of the floor. The crowd is almost always quiet and the atmosphere comes off as regal-like. It’s certainly a unique venue for boxing cards, but quite frankly, the card didn’t really impress too much with the quality of the fights.
Despite this, I do like that Matchroom Boxing went to Monaco for the second consecutive year. The Monaco event can be an interesting event, but there needs to be a greater emphasis on making unique matchups and compelling title fights. There were some decent names such as Kal Yafai and Denis Lebedev, but they were in fights that many regarded as a mismatch so there was no real rhyme or reason to watch unless you had an open schedule last Saturday afternoon and really wanted to make the most out of your DAZN subscription.
November 24 Matchroom Boxing on DAZN Results:
Kal Yafai defeated Israel Gonzalez by unanimous decision (117-111, 116-112, 116-112) to retain WBA super flyweight title: The two fighters were somewhat evenly matched in the opening rounds. Yafai targeted the body, but looked a bit sluggish as Gonzalez was able to throw several combinations which pressured Yafai. Gonzalez, who was fighting in his second world title fight this year, let his hands loose early and outboxed Yafai at times. Late in the fifth round, Gonzalez had to deal with a nasty cut above his left eye due to a clash of heads which prompted a pause in the action. Gonzalez was still able to recover and continue fighting aggressively against Yafai. Yafai was able to string together better combinations and have an easier time landing punches. Yafai would continue working the body and landing the harder punches en route to the victory. Yafai tried to look for a chance to hurt and even knock out Gonzalez late in the fight, but that big punch never came.
Denis Lebedev defeated Mike Wilson by unanimous decision (119-109, 117-111, 119-109): There was nothing remarkable about the fight itself as Lebedev pretty much dominated the fight, but the story surrounding Lebedev is the ever-confusing status of the WBA cruiserweight title (which has a “super,” “regular” and interim world champion). Lebedev previously held the WBA “super” title, but was moved to “Champion in Recess” which led to the title being on the line in the inaugural World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament. Lebedev is expected to be next in line to fight for the WBA title, currently being held by undisputed champion Oleksandr Usyk. Usyk is expected to move up to heavyweight next year, meaning all four major cruiserweight world titles will be vacant. If that is the case, expect Lebedev to fight for the vacant belt and possibly against the winner of the second World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament.
Fanlong Meng defeated Frank Buglioni by TKO, round 5, 1:58 to retain the IBF Intercontinental light heavyweight title: Bit of a shocking result given how Buglioni was expected to win the fight. The first couple of rounds were somewhat unremarkable as neither boxer took a real commanding lead in the fight. The fight picked up in the third round as both men started trading big punches, but Meng got the better of the exchanges with his strong left hand. Despite this, Buglioni actually landed some good, clean punches a minute before the stoppage, but Meng continuously punished Buglioni’s face with that left hand to the point he wasn’t able to see well and had to deal with a nasty cut near the right eye. Nearly two minutes into the fifth round, the referee and ringside doctor believe Buglioni’s cut was too deep to let him continue. The bigger story here is that Buglioni retired days after the loss, citing wanting to keep his health intact and putting his family ahead of boxing at just 29 years old. Buglioni was an exciting fighter and had recently fought Callum Johnson, a fight where if Buglioni had won, he could have potentially challenged for the IBF light heavyweight title this past October as Johnson was the one who fought for the belt in Chicago.
(Side note on this fight: The commentators on DAZN were convinced that the fight would end on a technical decision because they believed the cut to be caused by a headbutt and repeated mentioned the fight going to the cards. It’s weird seeing how the commentators were so sure of that instead of the usual talk of the fight “maybe” ending in a technical decision or TKO in that scenario since it’s hard for the announce team to know what the official reason for the stoppage was until the ring announcer explains it.)
Michael Hunter defeated Alexander Ustinov by TKO, round 9, 1:52 to win the vacant WBA International heavyweight title: Ever since Hunter moved up to heavyweight, he has really caught fire and looked impressive in fighting often. This was Hunter’s second fight in as many months (fourth heavyweight fight since April) and is quickly ascending through the division ranks. Hunter is still no title challenger at this point, but he’s one to watch out for in 2019.
November 24 HBO World Championship Boxing Results:
HBO returned to the Hard Rock Casino & Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey for its second boxing card there in 2018.
The difference between the two cards is the somber atmosphere and undertone this latest card had. Back in August when the network first went to Atlantic City, no one had known that HBO Boxing was going to shut down by the end of 2018.
On this card, there was an underlying tone among viewers that there was almost no point in watching the event, headlined by Dmitry Bivol’s WBA light heavyweight title defense against Jean Pascal.
Viewership numbers for the event are as follows:
- Main Event: Dmitry Bivol vs. Jean Pascal: WBA Light Heavyweight title fight (467,000 viewers/0.31 rating)
- Television opener: Murodjon Akhmadaliev vs. Isaac Zarate (405,000 viewers/0.28 rating)
Just to show how far HBO has fallen in boxing, the main event of the live boxing broadcast from this past weekend last year drew significantly higher ratings with arguably a much worse and far less compelling main event (Sergey Kovalev vs. Vyacheslav Shabranskyy for the then-vacant WBO light heavyweight title). Kovalev vs. Shabranskyy averaged 869,000 viewers, which means Bivol vs. Pascal had a 46.26 percent drop in viewership on Thanksgiving weekend from 2017 to 2018.
But more importantly for the people that did tune in, from what I can gather on social media, the show was critically panned on most fronts that didn’t involve the quality of in-ring action. The English commentary was once again panned. I watched the card with the Spanish commentary, which was better by comparison, but at this point, that’s not really saying much.
Unfortunately, the final HBO card will feature two women’s boxing matches. If we have learned anything from HBO when it comes to women’s boxing, it’s that they have absolutely no clue on how to broadcast them fairly, so having the card open and close with a women’s fight will undoubtedly create a lot of frustrating moments. The only silver lining here is that it’s nearly impossible to envision HBO doing a worse job than when they aired the Heather Hardy vs. Shelly Vincent fight last month, when they put out a graphic showing some quick biographical notes and the top fact for Hardy was that she was arrested multiple times, which will probably go down as one of the most tone-deaf moments in HBO Boxing history.
In a sense, this would be the most fitting end for HBO. Throughout the year, the network has made countless mistakes from matchmaking to never really putting a strong effort to market the Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin rematch as much as they did for the first time (though the blame is mostly on Golden Boy Promotions) to their handling of women’s boxing. If 2018 has shown us anything, it’s that it is time for HBO to abandon boxing because they no can no longer even muster up the necessary resources to even make their boxing cards special. It’s a sad end, but a necessary end as ESPN, FOX, Showtime and DAZN are quickly taking over the United States boxing market.
November 24 HBO World Championship Boxing Results from Atlantic City:
Dmitry Bivol defeated Jean Pascal by unanimous decision (117-111, 119-109, 119-109) to retain the WBA light heavyweight title: Bivol dominated the fight, landing several combinations to Pascal's head. Bivol had no trouble using his speed advantage to take control of the action while also avoiding Pascal's punches. Pascal only landed a handful of punches in the opening rounds and never really pressured Bivol or gave him any trouble. There was a couple of instances in the second half of the fight that saw Pascal throw aggressive punches and wild haymakers, but most of those shots were swung and missed. Bivol would maintain his rapid pace to outbox Pascal until the very end of the fight. While Bivol had little trouble throwing and landing punches, Pascal struggled mightily to land anything. Pascal only landed a total of 60 punches in the fight, averaging five punches connected per round. In the power punching department, Bivol outlanded Pascal 127-54 with the WBA champion connecting 44 percent of the time.
Murodjon Akhmadaliev defeated Isaac Zarate by TKO, round 9, 1:17 to retain the WBA Intercontinental super bantamweight title: This was a fun television opener. Both men threw big power punches early on, but while Zarate was more focused on his workrate and throwing jabs nonstop, Akhmadaliev’s goal was to go for the big knockout punch. Zarate was able to hang on throughout most of the fight and even dish out some big shots halfway through the fight, it was clear Zarate was overmatched. There was a feeling around the end of the fourth round or so that Akhmadaliev could have strung together a few combinations that could have resulted in a stoppage, but he never attempted such a strategy and so the fight went on for nearly nine rounds. There are things to like about Akhmadaliev: His jab is pretty good, is willing to throw big power punches from the start of the fight and overall is fun to watch. While Akhmadaliev has to work on a lot of stuff, primarily tightening up his stance to avoid getting hit, but he’s only 5 fights into his pro career. Midway through the fight, his corner was constantly telling him to not mess around and end the fight and quite frankly, Akhmadaliev never really took those instructions to heart and tried to make a highlight reel that never really came. The referee stopped the fight in the ninth round once he had seen that Zarate was getting hit too much and there was no chance he could recover. Akhmadaliev, a bronze medalist from the 2016 Olympics, still has time to work on some of those things and will only get better from here. With that being said, I doubt Akhmadaliev will sniff a world title shot (likely against WBA champion Daniel Roman) until late 2019 at the earliest.
Gennady Golovkin To DAZN?
DAZN’s first few months in the United States were certainly newsworthy to say the least.
Not only did DAZN make news with the $1 billion broadcast deal with Matchroom Boxing and secure the rights to the second season of the World Boxing Super Series, but also secure the rights to Canelo Alvarez’s long term future by signing the biggest contract for an individual athlete in history.
All in all, most people would say DAZN has done enough to build the foundation as it starts to take over the United States, but there may be one more piece in the puzzle remaining: Gennady Golovkin.
It’s been no secret that PBC, Matchroom Boxing and Top Rank are looking to bring the former middleweight world champion on board to their respective broadcast channels (PBC on Showtime/FOX; Matchroom on DAZN; Top Rank on ESPN). While Golovkin has yet to fully decide on his future in the aftermath of HBO shutting down its boxing division, it could potentially end up with Golovkin following in the footsteps of his longtime rival Alvarez and go to DAZN.
Fightful has previously learned that Golovkin is in negotiations with DAZN with the long-term goal being a third fight against Alvarez. There are rumors that DAZN offered Golovkin a deal that would be two to three fights long so that the streaming service can get the exclusive rights to the rematch.
As it stands, it appears that DAZN and ESPN are the frontrunners to get Golovkin with the smart money being that Golovkin goes to DAZN, at least on a short-term basis. The current plan, according to promoter Tom Loeffler, is to have Golovkin weigh in the pros and cons of each route and decide by the end of the year, meaning we could find out where Golovkin will end up in just a couple of weeks. Loeffler will meet with Golovkin in the coming days in Santa Monica, California with offers on the table from both sides.
If one were to look at what each network has to offer, one would be hard pressed to not side with DAZN if the main priority is getting the biggest fights and competing for titles.
DAZN currently has Demetrius Andrade (the WBO middleweight champion) and Alvarez (the WBA “super” and WBC champion) and perhaps IBF champion Daniel Jacobs since Jacobs is signed to Matchroom Boxing and is technically a television free agent, but he is expected to fight on DAZN from here on out. If Golovkin were to sign with DAZN before the end of the year, he could get an immediate shot at the WBO and IBF titles since neither fighter has any mandatories to take care of for the moment.
ESPN, on the other hand, only has WBA “regular” champion Rob Brant and Ryota Murata as its top middleweight contenders. While a fight against Brant, even if it’s for a title, is nowhere interesting enough to get Golovkin to jump on board to ESPN, a fight against Murata is far more interesting and potentially more lucrative than anything DAZN has to offer other than a third fight against Alvarez. Unfortunately for Golovkin, Murata’s title loss to Brant in October has severely hurt the interest factor in a fight between the two now-former champions. Had Murata defeated Brant, an argument could be made that ESPN would have been the favorite as Golovkin vs. Murata at the Tokyo Dome in 2019 (which was one plan for that fight), would have been one of the biggest fights in Japanese boxing history and likely fetch the biggest payday of Golovkin’s career aside from the two Alvarez fights.
But with ESPN’s middleweight roster being far inferior to DAZN’s, the streaming service should sign Golovkin. That is, if Golovkin’s priority is to face the top middleweight boxers for the rest of his career.
Then again, when looking at Golovkin’s career, it’s easy to see that he is going to end up as a Hall of Famer once he retires. It’s also just as likely that Golovkin’s focus is to simply fight in front of the largest television audience and cash out the rest of his career.
On that first point, ESPN definitely has the advantage and that really goes without saying. In regards to getting the biggest payday possible, that one is a bit tricky to determine.
On the surface, it appears that DAZN would have the budget to outbid ESPN for Golovkin’s services for his next few fights. After all, when looking at the contract figures when it signed Alvarez, it’s easy to believe that DAZN is going to get Golovkin.
But let’s not forget that ESPN is also investing a lot of money into boxing for the next few years and they’ve shown that they can out-spend DAZN. Earlier this year, there was a bidding war for the rights to promote and televise the WBO junior welterweight title fight between Maurice Hooker (who is co-promoted by Matchroom Boxing) and Alex Saucedo (who is promoted by Top Rank). To the surprise of many, Top Rank was the one who won the bid to have the broadcast rights for the fight, meaning ESPN scored a victory over DAZN in that regard.
Essentially, this all boils down to two questions. The first question is what does Golovkin prioritize more in his career at 36 years old (more big fights or higher paydays/exposure)? The second question is whether or not DAZN is willing to brave enough and outspend ESPN this time around? ESPN is the one being considered the underdog and more to lose if they do not get Golovkin while DAZN has plenty of big names at middleweight and already have Alvarez signed for the next five years. DAZN is the one that needs to decide whether or not it really wants to acquire one of the sport’s biggest names.
One thing is for certain, Golovkin is by far the biggest free agent in the sport and just like with Alvarez, whoever the Kazakh signs with will provide a meteoric boost to the broadcaster’s boxing division.