Is there anybody who will still buy a boxing pay-per-view? After the last two, I don’t know why you would. Saturday night in Las Vegas we saw 46 year old light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins lose his belt after being THROWN to the mat by Chad Dawson.
You read that right. Hopkins was knot knocked down, he was thrown down with such force the champion separated his shoulder on landing and was unable to continue. At this point most people expected the fight to be declared a no contest based on the foul. Instead, referee Pat Russell called it a TKO win for Dawson making Dawson the new champion.
I have known Pat Russell for close to 20 years. He is a good man and a better referee who had a brutal night on Saturday. The California State Athletic Commission has the right to overturn the ruling, and most people expect that to happen by the end of the week.
Still, on the heels of the strange ending to last month’s Floyd Mayweather/Victor Ortiz fight this was not good for boxing. As a 30+ year boxing fan it is becoming more and more difficult to stay interested in the sport.
It is starting to remind me of my days in high school when my buddies and I loved the WWE. We didn’t love it enough to buy a belt, but were still fans. As time went on, our favorite guys retired (or died) and we found better things (UFC) to spend our money on.
Compare what you saw Saturday night to what you saw 7 days earlier at UFC 136. On that night Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard, Chael Sonnen, Nam Phan, Leonard Garcia and Joe Lauzon gave you your money’s worth and more.
I didn’t see any angry fans leaving the Toyota Center, just people with big smiles talking about what they had just seen. That is a bit of a contrast of the angry people who left Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles feeling like they had just been ripped off.
It cracks me up how guys that work in boxing refuse to admit they have a major problem on their hands. Ross Greenburg had been the president of HBO sports for almost 10 years before getting blown out over the summer. Most insiders believe Greenburg’s inability to make interesting fights paid a huge part in his downfall.
You would think that may light a fire under the guys at HBO in charge of boxing, but if you look at what is on the horizon you have a Manny Pacquiao fight and that is it.
It wasn’t that long ago when you had Lennox Lewis, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad, Pacquiao, Mayweather and a couple of other guys that were always fighting on HBO.
HBO seemed to have the Midas touch when it came to finding the stars of tomorrow, and did a great job of promoting them. Somewhere along the line that magic went away and we are still waiting for it to return. If I offered you $5.00 for every guy not named Pacquiao, Mayweather or Klitschko that is a featured fighter on HBO, how much would it cost me?
One thing that boxing has over MMA is its place in American literature. I have always tried to figure out what it is about boxing that catches the eye of authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, AJ Liebling and Thomas Hauser.
Hauser is my favorite out of the group, and has a new book out called “Winks and Daggers” which is a collection of essays Hauser has written over the past 12 months for the website Seconds Out.
Hauser has a knack for finding guys behind the scenes and making you interested in that guy’s life. He has more stories like that in the new book, but he also dedicates 25 pages to the problems at HBO.
It is a great read for anyone that is a fight fan. HBO announced last week the hiring of Ken Hershman as their new head of sports programming.
Hershman comes from Showtime where he had a nice track record of success not only in boxing, but also with Strikeforce, the NFL, NASCAR and Major League Baseball.
Hershman had some run-ins with Dana White, but with the new FOX deal I don’t think HBO was going to be an option for the UFC no matter who the new president was.
The tradition of boxing on HBO is amazing. The last two fights have been terrible. It will be interesting to see if Hershman is the guy to recapture the magic, or a guy who helps pound another nail in the coffin.