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The Belle of the Ball

(Photo © German Villasenor)
(Photo © German Villasenor)


He isn’t the best boxer in the game, perhaps not even the best fighter in his respective division. But currently, there is no individual in boxing more important or pivotal than Miguel Cotto. In a business more fractured and divided than ever, the Puerto Rican icon finds himself the key piece on the chess board.
 
He finds himself courted by promotional powerhouses Top Rank Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions and fought over by network titans HBO and Showtime.
 
Cotto is the belle of the ball.

He’s the most attractive girl in the joint and the one everyone wants to go home with.
 
And for good reason. While Floyd Mayweather is in the midst of a record-breaking six-fight pact with Showtime, alongside Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (who was part of mass migration of Golden Boy clients who ended up at Showtime earlier this year as they were essentially booted off HBO by Sports President Ken Hershman).
 
Manny Pacquiao and the rest of the Top Rank stable are situated across the street at HBO.
 
Where Cotto lands could end up shifting the balance of power in the sport. Essentially what boxing has right now are two separate leagues. Depending on what side of the fence you’re on will determine what fights are realistic and from a network perspective, what bouts will be your airwaves.
 
Right now, it’s not clear just where Cotto will land. While his last bout on October 5th was on HBO (which played to very strong ratings and drew a sizable crowd in Orlando) and he pledged that he would finish with the company that built him into a star (Top Rank), it still didn’t keep him from meeting last week with Golden Boy Promotions. CEO Richard Schaefer made Cotto a staggering offer to face Alvarez on March 8th for over $10 million (http://ringtv.craveonline.com/blog/181773-miguel-cotto-offered-eight-figure-deal-to-fight-canelo-alvarez).
 
The question asked throughout the boxing world is this: Did HBO pay a license fee of over $3 million (for Cotto-Delvin Rodriguez) to essentially allow Cotto to potentially go right back to Showtime - which televised his loss last year against Austin Trout - in a highly anticipated pay-per-view event versus “Canelo”? Does HBO have matching rights offers, rights of last negotiations or anything of that sort that protects their investment in Cotto? Or is their sole hope that Cotto’s relationship with Top Rank President Todd duBoef is as strong as duBoef says it is?
 
If Cotto is free to walk (and eventually does), you could argue it’s the worst deal in sports since Albert Haynesworth was inked to his free agent deal by the Washington Redskins.
 
Hershman, already said to be on shaky ground, might as well start packing up his personal belongings from his office because this would constitute one of the most egregious contractual blunders in recent memory.
 
While HBO is still the biggest platform to perform on as a boxer (in the United States), 2013 has brought about a changing paradigm where Showtime has made great strides in shifting that perception. If you look at the top four attractions in the sport, it could be argued that two of them are on Showtime (Mayweather, Canelo) with Pacquiao, whose stock is fading on HBO. Cotto, who set a record for Showtime ratings last year and had the highest rated broadcast on HBO in 2013, is still yet undecided.
 
He will most likely face either Alvarez on Showtime’s pay-per-view arm or middleweight champion Sergio Martinez on HBO Pay-Per-View.
 
Pay-per-view revenue is important but remember this: this is not the be-all and end-all for HBO and Showtime. They make their bones on their monthly subscriptions. But having big-name franchises associated with the network are important for branding. If Cotto ends up with Golden Boy/Showtime, that means they have the likes of Mayweather, Alvarez, Cotto and the rising Adrien Broner. HBO would be left with a huge question mark (at least till the night of November 23rd) in the “Pac-Man,” Gennady Golovkin, Andre Ward and the unreliable Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
 
Advantage Showtime.
 
In the past they were the plucky challenger to HBO’s undisputed champion. However, Showtime is now dictating terms. It’s already been announced that Alvarez will be on three times in 2014 (March 8th, July 26th and November 22nd) and Mayweather will most likely return on the all-important Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day weekends. So right off the bat, that’s five dates in which Golden Boy and Showtime have staked their claims.
 
HBO will sit on the sidelines and watch Showtime on those nights. Not so much because they are on those dates first but because of just who they are on with. Historically, HBO was the 800-pound gorilla who could sit down where it pleased. Well, there are now two 800-pound gorillas.
 
So where will Cotto land? Right now, it’s all speculation. Perhaps only the quiet and introverted man from Caguas really knows. Either way, he’ll be involved in a big fight next year for multimillions of dollars.
 
But the fortunes of two networks, two promotional companies and perhaps some jobs rest with his decision.
 
HBO
 
This much is clear after watching the tripleheader from Corpus Christi on Saturday night; Mikey Garcia is clearly an elite prizefighter right in the thick of his physical prime. He displayed a certain command and poise in dismantling the rugged Rocky Martinez in eight rounds, punctuating his performance with a perfectly placed left hook to Martinez’s ribs.
 
If you wanted to teach a young child how to box or explain to him what proper fundamentals are, you’d show him tapes of Garcia. He has a classic stance, steady balance and a full arsenal of punches he throws with great technique and torque. There is nothing flashy about him but he is built for greatness over the long haul.
 
However, the same probably can’t be said of Nonito Donaire, who had an unexpected struggle with Vic Darchinyan (he was down on two scorecards after eight rounds) before stopping him in the ninth after buzzing the game “Raging Bull” with a left hook. Once again, for much of the evening, Donaire was a rudderless ship without a solid fundamental foundation. With that, he let the smaller Darchinyan close the distance and beat him to the punch. More and more, Donaire is becoming a one-trick pony with his left hook. He’s become a boom-or-bust boxer.
 
I think this tweet summed it up best:
 
MV CHU @LooDo85: @stevemaxboxing Donaires style is like a poor mans Roy Jones, if RJ was The Beatles Donaire would be The Monkees
 
In the night’s opener, Demetrius Andrade defeated Vanes Martirosyan in a rather forgettable 12-round split decision.
 
TNR
 
Starting today, we will be on iTunes and a mobile app called “LIIITR Boxing” amalgamating the Leave it in the Ring radio network with Maxboxing. Below is the pertinent info for this next episode as well as a note regarding how to download the mobile app. The Maxboxing Live tab is being worked on and should be up sometime today, I’m told.
 
 
Per our press release:
 
Mondays at 5 p.m. PST/ 8 EST Steve Kim and Gabriel Montoya of Maxboxing.com break down each week’s matches and match-ups and discuss the week’s top stories. This week, we talk WBO 130 pound champion Mikey Garcia’s stoppage of Rocky Martinez, the rematch between Nonito Donaire vs. Vic Darchinyan and WBO junior middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade vs. Vanes Martirosyan. And we take a look forward at super middleweight champion Andre Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez.Tweet @maxboxinglive, @stevemaxboxing or @Gabriel_Montoya or call-in at (347) 215-7598. Download the mobile app on iTunes or the Google app store under “LIITR Boxing.”
 
FINAL FLURRIES
 
 
Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions says Gennady Golovkin is still slated to fight on February 1st in Monte Carlo but any reports of him facing Martin Murray on that date simply aren’t true (as of this moment)...I thought Oscar Valdez looked good on the undercard in Corpus Christi in stopping Jesus Lule in five rounds...I really hope Jose Ramirez can actually fight because there’s no doubt he’s already a draw in the Central Valley...Alejandro Perez always makes for pretty good TV. I think he’ll land a significant fight next year at featherweight...It looks like ‘Bama-FSU is in the BCS title game and that would be a great match-up...Bad loss for my ‘Canes. Forget the rain and the conditions; they were physically manhandled up front by Virginia Tech. Will this season fall apart for UM?...Johnny Football is still my Heisman Trophy frontrunner...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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