We’re here for the long-awaited boxing chat, perfectly timed to prime you for Saturday’s super-fight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. In the blue corner, we have our returning TheLeadSports boxing champion, staff writer, David Monroe.
And in the red corner, we have the challenger, a frequent TLS contributor and also the namesake of Rudin Writes, Eric Rudin. He had trouble figuring out which corner to go to. David and Eric are here for a good clean email sparring session where they’ll keep their gloves up and protect themselves at all times. So without further ado, let’s get it on!
DAVID MONROE: Well, Eric, let’s lay it all out there. You, me, and boxing purists everywhere had the irrational fear of a McGregor win put to bed on August 26th via a 10th round TKO. The sweet science won at its own game, as it should have. And while there’s talk that Boxing vs. MMA Under Boxing Rules was not the smash hit that many thought that they watched, but rather every bit the joke it was predicted to be, at least it’s all over now. And thus we can get on to the real super-fight of 2017.
ERIC RUDIN: Completely agree David. I had Mayweather winning by KO8 as my prediction but definitely had that “holy crap, what if Floyd has too many gambling debts and throws the fight” worry. But Floyd gave the people what they wanted and let Conor throw a bunch of meaningless punches for longer than I thought. I was rooting for boxing obviously, but it always feels dirty rooting for Floyd the Domestic Abuser Mayweather. I’m very glad that the exhibition is behind us.
As to the fight that’s been marinating for longer than my wife’s tri-tip, I am getting goosebumps on my goosebumps thinking about Canelo/GGG. Golden Boy had Canelo ducking GGG for a couple of years with the hope that GGG would get beaten or take some damaging blows in the interim two years. Didn’t happen. It’s obviously a great match-up for the casual fan with two fighters who both make great fights. For boxing nerds like us, it’s an interesting one because usually the guy with the hand speed advantage also has better footwork. Here, we have Canelo with the hand speed and GGG with the footwork. I believe that Canelo’s hand speed will matter much less because he won’t have his feet set and/or be in position when he’s throwing those combinations. I give the slight edge in power to GGG but think that it will come down to Golovkin’s mastery as to how he works the ring. GGG winning by TKO11 is my official prediction.
DAVID MONROE: Your armchair analyses of pugilism and the conflicted psyches of Mayweather fans are both right on the money, except for one key point: GGG will be hittable by Canelo. Footwork, shmootwork. Abel Sanchez has taken pride in melding Golovkin’s assets with a Mexican stalker style, and now his guy is more than willing to take a punch. It’s a dynamite cocktail. GGG has the ability to make Canelo miss, but will he use it? And when Canelo does connect, will it matter?
That’s the real question for me. Which of the fighters’ chins is cut out for this? Because this is going to be the real deal. When was the last time we had two superstar punchers in the ring together in a top-billed event? Klitschko-Lewis? Hagler-Hearns?!
ERIC RUDIN: Chin will definitely play a role and GGG has one. There’s a reason that he hasn’t been knocked down in over 350 amateur/pro fights. He’s a beast. Remember the Geale fight? He threw the KO blow as Geale landed one flush on his nose! And the reason Golovkin has been taking shots is because nobody has wanted to get in the ring with him so he decided to make himself more vulnerable to attract better opponents. I think he reverts to classic GGG in this fight. As for Canelo? He spent most of his career at welterweight, then junior middleweight, and his toughest fight was against Mayweather who danced around him while landing pot shots. Can he take a GGG-esque blow? I don’t think so because I don’t think anyone can.
And you make a great call on Hagler-Hearns potential, because this has it. I don’t think both guys will come out swinging the way Hagler and Hearns did, but Saturday has the makings of a “where were you when you watched it?” fight. Klitschko-Lewis has a special place in my heart because my grandfather, who was the Chairman of International Affairs of the World Boxing Council, died right after that fight ended on June 21, 2003. I was happy he got to experience the last great heavyweight fight of that generation. Boxing hadn’t seen a heavyweight fight like that until 14 years later when Klitschko’s brother Wladimir fought this year’s Fight of the Year contender against Anthony Joshua this past April. 2017 has been an exceptional year for the sweet science.
But what’s next after the long-awaited Canelo/Golovkin fight has passed? The $50 million World Boxing Super Series super middleweight and cruiserweight tournaments started this past Saturday but there’s no television coverage in the United States. How does that happen? That isn’t “half of Los Angeles can’t watch the Dodgers play because of a DirecTV vs. Spectrum squabble” bad, but it’s bad.
DAVID MONROE: I disagree on how bad this is. It’s at least “DirecTV vs Spectrum Dodgers” bad. I’d go so far as to say that it’s “Dodgers fans have been hibernating since the 80s and aren’t getting a chance to remember how much they like baseball” bad. Lots of casual boxing fans are actually hardcore boxing fans; they just don’t know it yet. And this cruiserweight tournament is going to be tops. It’s true that none of the fighters are American, and that just one of them (arguably) has a name that’s pronounceable to native English speakers, but they’re all top players in their division, they’ve got a diverse collection of styles, and they’re all going to fight each other.
Which brings me to another point–where are Canelo and GGG’s supporting cast? Who will fight the winner? Daniel Jacobs is tremendous but after that it’s a steep drop off to David Lemieux, Billy Joe Saunders, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Jermal Charllo, and Ryota Murata–all fighters I enjoy but you get the idea.
A sports star, like the protagonist of any ongoing story, needs a supporting cast who are almost as compelling (or more compelling) than they are. That’s the only way the story keeps going. Ali had many interesting opponents in the 70s; the Warriors have LeBron’s Cavs, Harden and CP3’s Rockets, and maybe even Westbrook and Paul George’s Thunder; Batman has the Joker, Two-Face, the Riddler, Bane, Catwoman and the Scarecrow; and Jerry Seinfeld had Kramer, Newman, Constanza and Elaine.
I’m not sure that boxing’s middleweight division, in 2017, has the potential to carry the torch much farther than a possible GGG-Canelo rematch.
That’s awesome about your grandfather, btw.
ERIC RUDIN: Thanks David, it’s definitely bittersweet whenever I re-watch the Klitschko-Lewis fight. As a matter of fact, my personal Twitter avi (@RudinEG) is a photo of my grandfather, William Hariton, and me on ESPN presenting the WBC belt to Michael Carbajal when I was 9 years old. Michael Carbajal is an all-time great. I obviously flamed out after that.
Going back to the discussion, I agree regarding the middleweight division. Golovkin already beat Jacobs and Lemieux. Canelo would do the same to both. Until one of the Charlo brothers gets some more fights under his belt, it’s a very top heavy division. That said, who wouldn’t want to see GGG or Canelo pummel the loud mouth Billy Joe Saunders? It’s a bit sadistic, like having wanted Klitschko to shut Shannon Briggs up, but that doesn’t mean Saunders doesn’t have it coming. Regardless, other than that, who knows where the winner goes other than to a lucrative rematch?
As to the Dodgers, I wholeheartedly disagree as a native Angeleno. Not being able to watch them every day is killing Dodgers fans who don’t have Spectrum. It’s horrible what the Dodgers/Spectrum/DirecTV have done to baseball in Los Angeles. That’s not to say that I disagree as to how much boxing gets in its own way, but not having baseball in the nation’s second largest market? I get what you mean though. Boxing could grow if it was smarter. Casual fans could become hardcore fans and this past weekend’s Usyk/Huck fight was must watch TV for a boxing fan. If it were on ESPN, people would have been tuned in, but alas, it wasn’t, and it’s boxing’s loss more than anybody else’s.
Moving forward, the future of the sport seems to lie once again at 147 with guys like Spence, Crawford, Thurman, Porter and ultimately Mikey Garcia when he moves up. That’s the start of a tournament everyone would sign up to watch and one that would be easy to market. Welterweight has the potential in the next couple of years to remind people of the days of Leonard-Duran-Hagler-Hearns. Hopefully the powers that be don’t get in the way of letting that happen. At least Bob Arum and Top Rank seem to get it having signed a four-year deal with ESPN, bringing boxing to a wider audience.
DAVID MONROE: Those are some great names. Showtime has been diligently grooming a stable of elite American welters for what they’re calling their “de facto tournament” at 147…the thing is, most of those guys don’t have fights scheduled at the moment. A couple of them are Al Haymon fighters, which is never a good sign. We could be looking not at a repeat of the 80s welterweights, but of the 90s heavyweights. In the heyday of two-camera sitcoms and CD-ROMs there were four legitimate superstars at heavyweight–Tyson, Lewis, Foreman, and Holyfield–who between them only fought each other twice while the iron was still hot.
Boxing history is full of these missed opportunities. Dempsey-Wills, Lewis-Bowe, Mayweather-Merchant…the list goes on and on. In some ways the sweet science has more in common with the movies than it does with other sports–“it’s too bad Bogart and Bergman only got together once,” “if only Arnold and Sly had starred together in their primes instead of waiting for The Expendables and Escape Plan” and so on. The 2010s welterweights may become one of these sad footnotes of boxing history…
…which would be too bad for the sport as a whole because, as you’ve pointed out, the logical thing for Showtime and HBO to do, as the torchbearers for American boxing fandom is to promote those guys you just mentioned. Both Mayweather-Pacquiao and Mayweather-McGregor hinted at the possibility of media rivals to synergize for the greater good, hopefully promoters and the boxing media can get around their differences combine their powers for the good of the sport (and for the world’s ecology).
Otherwise, the brilliant fight we’re about to watch may generate a ton of good will amongst casual fans that vanishes from sight like an Al Haymon-promoted welterweight.
My prediction for the fight:
Golovkin TKO 10.
ERIC RUDIN: Well, it looks like we’re of the same thinking when it comes to Saturday, although you make the egregious mistake of thinking that the Golovkin is going to knock Canelo out three minutes before I do.
As to the future of boxing, it looks like HBO, for reasons nobody has ascertained, has decided to forfeit its spot atop the sport with PPV being its only real presence anymore after Top Rank signed with ESPN. It will be interesting to see how fights get made with Showtime and ESPN now being the major players. Al Haymon isn’t going anywhere and he lost a lot of people a lot of money with the PBC’s utter failure. Hopefully he sees the light. On a positive note, Richard Schaefer’s comeback is great for the sport as we’re seeing with the $50 million World Boxing Super Series.
Regardless, as it always is with boxing, we have to appreciate what we’ve got while we’ve got it because banking on the promoters or the lower-tier sanctioning bodies to get their acts together is about as good of a bet as money on McGregor was two weeks ago. So get your friends together this weekend, grab yourselves some refreshments, and enjoy the best match-up that the sport of boxing has to offer. After that, we can go back to complaining about the fights that don’t get made, because after all, what’s being a boxing fan without complaining about boxing?