Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Rundown: Mayweather and Showtime

This is the first edition of the monthly Saturday Night Boxing column, "The Rundown," which features news and notes from the world of boxing. It's fairly self-evident, so let's get to the fun stuff.

A Damn Good Month:

Floyd Mayweather: After spending over a decade with HBO, Mayweather left "The Network of Champions" to go across the street at Showtime. Not only did the two parties announce a six-fight deal, but Floyd negotiated a hefty guarantee for each appearance (the dollar specifics weren't announced but Money Mayweather doesn't fight for charity). He faces Robert Guerrero next in May.

Showtime: Under the regime of Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Boxing has attempted to even out the discrepancy between its programming and that of its traditionally better-funded rival HBO. With the Mayweather signing, it can safely be said that the two networks are closer than ever in providing the most compelling fighters competing on American soil. Credit Espinoza for making the winning offer to Mayweather and for helping to line up CBS's assets (Showtime's corporate parent) in landing its big whale.

Robert Guerrero: Eighteen months ago, Guerrero was an interim lightweight titlist who hadn't been able to land a top-tier fight. After two hard-fought wins at welterweight and constant self-promotion, Guerrero finds himself with a career-defining opportunity against Mayweather, not to mention his ascension into a higher tax bracket. He'll be a big underdog, but he's an energetic fighter who won't be awed by the moment.

Juan Manuel Marquez: Why did Marquez's status in the sport rise in February after not even fighting? It's simple. HBO needs big fights to counteract the Mayweather defection, giving Marquez a much better negotiating position for a possible fifth Pacquiao fight or another opportunity that might catch his fancy. Shrewdly, Marquez isn't rushing into an announcement for his next fight. By sitting back, better offers will continue to come his way.

Adrien Broner: He displayed an exhilarating performance in February by dismantling the game Gavin Rees in five rounds. Broner's combination of boxing skills, flash and a willingness to take risks sets him up very nicely as one of the real emerging stars in boxing. Fighting one of the tough guys at 140 would be a great way to build his pedigree.

Gavin Rees: Rees showed a ton of heart and moxie in his lost to Broner. The former junior welterweight champion could be competitive with a lot of guys at lightweight, just not Broner. Expect to see him get a major opportunity in short order.

ESPN: With relatively little fanfare, ESPN has put together a rousing start to its 2013 Friday Night Fights series. Featuring entertaining title fights on consecutive weekends, ESPN had a great month and has rebounded from a poor 2012. The network has also done a nice job of bringing the studio show out to the fight cards for selected events, giving the broadcast more of a big-time feel.

Lamont Peterson: After a layoff of more than a year because of a failed PED test, Peterson returned to action and demolished a game Kendall Holt, knocking him down twice before the fight was stopped in the eighth. Peterson looked sharp and aggressive, putting together one of the best performances of his career. Having recently signed with Golden Boy, he's up for a big fight later in 2013.

Carl Frampton: Earned the best win of his career by knocking out the tough Kiko Martinez in a European title fight. It wasn't Frampton's most complete performance of his career, but the Belfast-native is an emerging star in Ireland and the U.K. It wouldn't be out of the question to see him in a world title fight in early 2014.

Ishe Smith: The journeyman junior middleweight earned his first title by narrowly squeaking past Cornelius Bundrage. It wasn't a pretty fight; in fact, it was downright terrible to watch, but for the long-suffering vet, who had overcome promotional difficulties, injuries and thoughts of suicide, it was a career's validation.

Other Fighters Looking Good:

Evgeny Gradovich, Edner Cherry, Chris Van Heerden, Lee Selby and Demetrius Hopkins

Not the Best Month, Not the Worst:

Saul Alvarez: Alvarez failed to lock Mayweather into a guarantee for a potential September fight so he refused to fight on his undercard in May. Instead, he will face Austin Trout on April 20th. It's one of the most anticipated matchups of the first half of 2013. Although Alvarez will miss the opportunity to perform on the sport's biggest stage, he assumes his rightful main event status against Trout.

Malik Scott: After seemingly boxing rings around house fighter Vyacheslav Glazkov, the Philadelphian was only awarded a draw in a fight where no boxing pundit had Scott losing more than three rounds. Scott showcased his considerable skills in the match, but without firm promotional backing or power in the heavyweight division, it's unclear where he goes next.

Andy Lee: Back in action with new trainer Adam Booth, Lee struggled to assert himself against C-level fighter Anthony Fitzgerald. The new paring between Booth and Lee did not manifest seamlessly. Booth had Lee boxing cute off of the back foot and turning his opponent, even though Lee had excelled in the past by unloading his power shots in the center of the ring. The result was an awkward performance. Lee won comfortably on the scorecards but the jury is out on whether he will ever be among the top fighters of the middleweight division, and if Booth is the right one to get him there.

Felix Sturm: He had a life-and-death struggle with Sam Soliman in which he lost a close decision. On the plus side of the ledger, he knocked down Soliman and landed well with his power shots. However, Soliman clearly outworked him in the second half of the fight and Sturm seems to have slowed down. Later in the month, Soliman tested positive for a performance enhancing drug; the case is still being adjudicated.

Is This Month Over Yet?

HBO: Mayweather's defection to Showtime is a big blow to the network. Although Mayweather only fought once a year and was strictly a pay per view fighter, his departure clearly hurts HBO's boxing brand. HBO had always associated itself with the top boxers in the sport and now number one is gone. This isn't a death blow for HBO, but it's not a flash knockdown either.

Frank Warren: First, George Groves leaves Warren to join rival Matchroom Promotions. Now, it looks like Ricky Burns will be leaving the fold as well. His stable is now a shell of what it once was.

Cornelius Bundrage: For an aging vet who never made much of name for himself, Cornelius Bundrage had a rare opportunity to make a hometown title defense, squaring off against Ishe Smith. Instead of seizing the moment, Bundrage became oddly passive and disengaged for several of the middle rounds. It was a bizarre performance and it might very well be the last great opportunity of his career.

Billy Dib: Always one to talk trash outside of the ring, Dib has far less bravado once the opening bell sounds; he's one of boxing's most notorious runners. Making a title defense against obscure Evgeny Gradovich, Dib got outworked, outslugged and outmaneuvered. For such a supposed defensive stalwart, Dib got hit with alarming regularity.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: The Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended him for nine months after testing positive for marijuana (his second failed drug test in Nevada). Perhaps more importantly, he was fined a whopping $900,000 in a pure money grab by the Commission. He'll come back in June (the suspension is retroactive from his initial post-fight drug failure), but with that heavy fine, don't expect an early retirement.

Sam Soliman: Sam, it appears that you were a bad, bad boy.

Bad Judging:

John McKaie (96-94 for Glazkov over Scott), Julie Lederman (95-95 Glazkov-Scott) and Don Ackerman (114-112 for Dib over Gradovich)

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
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