Hainan Noble Yacht Club
By the time you read this, I should be home suffering the early effects of jet lag from my recent trip to China. As I’m typing this, I’m at the Hainan Noble Yacht Club (in room 1206) overlooking my beachside view in the city of Haikou (in the province of Hainan, the southernmost tip of the People’s Republic). I was here to call a series of fight cards at the Hainan International Convention and Exhibition Center featuring the likes of the talented Ik Yang, Lei Tian, Li Lishan, Zhang Junlong and Jerwin Ancajas (who actually looked like a legitimate prospect from the Philippines). A five-round donnybrook between Ma Yaming and Albert Alcoy (won by Yaming) also featured one of the most action-packed rounds of the year (in the fourth stanza) between the two.
Hey, it’s a gig and I can’t complain about a job that takes me to places like Macau, China and, of course, Newark. As I’ve said before, it beats working for a living.
That said, there is a downside to being out here. This country still has the Great Fire Wall, meaning that watching anything Americanized - save for an NBA highlight show - is impossible and you don’t get much in terms of western culture. It also means you won’t be able to log on to Wikipedia, Facebook, Google - all of which I can handle. However, not having access to Twitter had me sweating it out like Pookie in “New Jack City” when he tried to get off the hard stuff (it’s also an interesting dynamic being an Asian-American in China. Every time you engage with someone there, they automatically assume you know their language. I want to say to them, “I may look like you guys but I’m really not.” It’s awkward to go through this particular social exercise as they speak Chinese to you while you try to explain to them in English that you have no idea what they’re talking about. Other than our TV crew, which included my broadcast partner, Steve Munisteri, officials such as Tony Weeks, Benji Estevez and John Stewart, not many others in this province seemed to speak any English. And maybe it’s just me but the Chinese food in the U.S. of A is a lot more palatable than in China. The best meal the television crew had out here was the late night run to McDonald’s on Saturday night. Never has two Big Macs and a McFlurry tasted so good).
But back to the subject at hand. The fact I couldn’t tweet for about a week was great news for the Twitter servers, terrible news for me (and, of course, my followers). I can’t lie. I love the art of tweeting, whether it’s giving out opinions (most of them unsolicited), breaking a few stories, engaging with the public or just blocking people. Bad enough every TV station in my hotel is Chinese (I notice a lot of medieval dramas are televised with plenty of Kung fu fighting), it’s exacerbated by the fact that I have no idea what’s going on in the Twitterverse regarding the “Sweet Science.”
So as I wind up this week out here (and dreading my 20-hour travel back west), here are a few random thoughts on what is brewing in the boxing world...
- While everyone breathlessly reported/speculated that a fight between Floyd Mayweather and Saul Alvarez was close last week (because of “Canelo’s” Facebook page), all indications are that “The Ghost,” Robert Guerrero will be getting “Money” on May 4th. Just my opinion, I think Alvarez is part of Golden Boy’s exodus to Showtime and I can’t see Mayweather at that network just yet (if ever). Also, I think HBO (over) paid for Guerrero’s bout with Andre Berto on Thanksgiving weekend as part of a larger agreement that would see the winner face Mayweather on that network. I’m not saying Mayweather-Alvarez won’t happen; I just never felt it was going to take place next.
- It looks more and more like the rematch between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado will take occur in mid-March at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. I remember asking Bob Arum on press row in the immediate aftermath of their first encounter at the Home Depot Center back in October if “Bam Bam” had graduated to bigger venues. I think this answers the question. By the way, if you have any problems with this rematch, then you probably are habitually unhappy or need to find another sport to follow. These guys are like peanut butter and jelly; they just go together.
- So who will WBC lightweight champion Adrien Broner face next on February 16th? Hopefully not Richard Abril. The guy is a negative spoiler and why subject HBO subscribers to that? Let’s hope “The Problem” eventually faces Ricky Burns in the near future.
- So why did HBO end up with Bernard Hopkins versus Tavoris Cloud? It’s very simple; B-Hop, for as unappealing as his tactics might be to many of you, does very good ratings on this network. And being a programmer, stuff like that matters.
- OK, I can’t say that I’m necessarily all that excited about a possible match-up between Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin (which the WBA is trying to enforce) but I do think “Sasha” is a higher grade of opposition than what either Klitschko has faced recently (and yeah, I know that’s not saying much).
- Dana White has gone the Leonard Tose route and lost it. Early last week, he blasted Arum for matching Manny Pacquiao against Juan Manuel Marquez and actually staging a real fight that held public interest instead of a rematch with Tim Bradley. The nerve of Arum, putting on a fight that not only did solid business but had nominees for “Fight,” “Round” and “KO of the Year” But seriously, wasn’t “Delusional” Dana the guy that some of the misguided in boxing believed we needed to run this sport? (“BOXING NEEDS DANA WHITE!” screamed the savants). This was always illogical given that UFC is basically a monopoly and boxing is still very much a free enterprise with true competition. White shows that absolute power absolutely can make a person bat-sh*t crazy.
Put this in the “Life Isn’t Fair” category: Andre Berto gets busted for PEDs and basically serves several months on suspension, then earns a career-high payday in his very next bout versus Robert Guerrero. Meanwhile, Lamont Peterson will serve a full year and his purse bids for this IBF junior welterweight title get nothing but the minimum (first, against Zab Judah and now Kendall Holt). But some of this is self-inflicted as there were opportunities for Peterson and his crew to stage title defenses on other cards but they balked, believing they could do it themselves in D.C. I think they will finally come to their senses. I also think they will eschew facing Holt for $37,500 and challenge Tim Bradley in late March on HBO. Hey, sometimes a title is worth a lot; sometimes it’s worth just the bare minimum.
- Amir Khan inking a deal with Showtime is further proof the network is more “Golden” than ever going into 2013. Look at their last dozen or so cards and what they have lined up in the upcoming year and you don’t have to be a part of Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Network to see where this is going. But say what you will about Khan; he usually brings us compelling TV. He is boxing’s high-wire act, whose one mistake in a fight could lead to his fatal downfall. There is something enthralling about a guy who works without a safety net. Khan should be an honorary member of the Wallenda family and I love the possibility of him facing Josesito Lopez next.
- Any objections to a potential rematch between Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler? It certainly beats Froch facing Lucian Bute so soon after thrashing him so thoroughly; doesn’t it? I always thought the first meeting between Froch and Kessler could’ve gone either way (I gave the slight nod to Kessler) but I really think Froch has the decided advantage this time around in the U.K.
According to sources, the CBS telecast featuring Leo Santa Cruz averaged just under 1.8 million viewers on December 15th...Here are the gate numbers for the Khan-Carlos Molina shows later that night at the Sports Arena: Gross ticket sales - $203,455, Total tickets sold - 2,836...
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