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05/10/2013

Boxing has a quality, not a race, problem

IMG_2090DALLAS, Texas - With all due respect to veteran fight promoter Bob Arum, he is wrong. George Foreman is right.

Both were in Dallas on Thursday to promote a the World Featherweight Championship boxing match between Mikey Garcia and Juan Manuel Lopez, scheduled for June 15, 2013.

From the time Arum took the podium to the time he met individually with reporters, he trumped up the heritage of both fighters, and the widespread appeal this sport has on Latino and minority viewers.

I asked Bob why he felt there was a disconnect between the Anglo community and his sport.

IMG_2093"The Anglo market looks at this sport and unlike a team sport where it all blends into the team or the jersey so they can be a Mavericks fan or a Spurs fan but in boxing it's one against one," Arum told me. "And when they don't see people that don't look like themselves competing there is a disinterest."

Sorry, that's garbage. George Foreman has it right.

"You’ve got to instruct fighters now, no matter how good you think you are and what your promise is, you’ve got to compete," Foreman said. "People aren’t going to buy junk anymore. You’ve got to give them the best."

To Arum's point, the last time I checked Foreman, Roy Jones jr., Spinks, Ali, Holmes, Frazier, Sugar Ray, Boom Boom, Hearns, Duran, Hagler, Tyson, Holyfield et all were name fighters and absolutely none of them looked like me (although we all shared similar jabs).

To follow Arum's point, all white people would have loved Gerry Cooney or Randall "Tex" Cobb. Cooney sucked, and Cobb was better in "Fletch Lives" than he was in the ring.

Some of boxing's problem is that it is just a niche sport; in a fragmented sports culture, not every sport can be the NFL. Boxing suffers from a "glory days" syndrome when people of a certain age only remember Sugar Ray/Hagler and not the many forgettable nights every sport has. That has no solution.

Some of boxing's problems are fractured (corrupt?) leadership that can't agree which direction the sun rises.

Boxing's problem is quality. 

Alvarez-trout-4_3_r536_c534When boxing's biggest name, Floyd "Money" Mayweather, charges $70 on pay per view to watch his fight and then delivers Robert Guerrero as his opponent and a dull bout it inspires no one to watch again.

"It wasn't a good bang-for-your-buck night; people realized that going in," Arum said of Mayweather's last night. It should be noted Arum is no fan of Mayweather as the two have verbally sparred for years.

Showtime signed Mayweather to a massive, six-fight deal but the numbers were so bad for the first fight that even Mayweather may have to fight someone who could potentially beat him. Showtime is going to force his hand to fight a name.

No, not Manny Pacquiao. The way Arum talked Thursday it sounds as if that dream matchup will never occur for a variety of reasons.

The only fight that may inspire widespread interest is Floyd v. 22-year-old Canelo Alvarez, which right now is being discussed for a September date. Alvarez is going to have to be better than he was in his decision against Austin Trout in San Antonio last month, but he has the talent to defeat Mayweather.

"That would be a good attraction and the numbers would go up," Arum said. "Without the Hispanic fans, you can't do a big number. And Canelo connects with the Hispanic fans. And Canelo/Mayweather would do a very good number."

Arum may be right about Canelo connecting with the Hispanic fans, and that fight would generate massive international interest ... even among the fans who don't look like either fighter.

 

@MacEngelProf
tengel@star-telegram.com
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