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The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem

Mosley
Mosley


“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and again and expecting different results.” 

 

 -Somebody smarter than me

 

A funny thing happened while I covered the press conference for an independent pay-per-view junior middleweight fight on September 18 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA between “Sugar” Shane Mosley and Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora promoted by Golden Boy Promotions: HBO attached their name to it. 

 

"Breaking news!” exclaimed Richard Schaefer, interrupting Oscar De La Hoya’s entertaining presentation of the fighters on the bill (Oscar’s got jokes. Who knew?). “This event is now going to be fully supported by HBO Pay-Per-View including having their production and broadcast team. This reinforces the strength of this event.”


What it also does is take some of that production team financial burden off Golden Boy’s shoulders. While the  fight card was already on PPV and cost roughly 50 bucks ($20 with a Tecate rebate. See stores for details), HBO putting their name on it legitimizes a card that isn’t exactly packed top to bottom with scintillating match-ups. 

  

The event in question features Pomona native Mosley vs. East L.A.-born Mora accompanied by “Vicious” Victor Ortiz vs. “Vicious” Vivian Harris (no relation) in a junior welterweight bout. In the third televised co-feature, emerging young welterweight/junior middleweight star/prospect  Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will be facing his first ex-champion; former linear welterweight champ Carlos Baldomir. 

  

In other words: Decision, early knockout for Ortiz, Decision for Alvarez; $50 dollars for two outcomes you already know and Mosley/Mora. 

  

 

Looking at last week’s  Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Juan Diaz II card featuring  Jorge Linares vs.  Rocky Juarez, Dmitry Pirog vs.  Danny Jacobs, and Robert Guerrero vs.  Joel Casamayor, one gets the feeling fans are a little short-changed here. That card was $50 for three outcomes you already knew and one you didn’t.

 

In the age of scarce TV dates and a roster of fighters who need work, a PPV card like this is somewhat necessary. Fighters have to eat and fans need their fix. Promoters should promote and not rely on the networks to dictate when they do that. If every promoter waited for HBO, Showtime or some other lower-level network to give them a date, there would be no boxing. So I get it.

 

A fight like Mora/Mosley (read: a somewhat intriguing fight that will be more violent chess match than L.A. turf war that somehow lacks the heat potentially great fights always have) is a perfect fit for the independent model. Because while the company rolling it out has to say, “This is going to be a historic event” or some other line to sell it, the bottom line is everyone knows Vivian Harris is borderline shot, Carlos Baldomir is a good test for Alvarez but really a developmental fight the promising fighter should win, and Mora/Mosley, in this writer’s opinion, won’t come close to the excitement that Rafael Marquez vs. Juan Manuel Lopez, a Top Rank-promoted fight on the same night but in Vegas and on Showtime, will generate if it was fought in a ring of fire or barbed wire.

 

So why did HBO buy it? Who can say? A guess is that the numbers for Marquez vs. Diaz II did well enough that somebody at HBO perhaps thought, “Wow. There really is one born every minute. Let’s do this again in September.” But that would be just a guess.

 

 

If the first part of that theory is true, then who is to blame for subpar boxing cards packaged as “how they used to do it” going to enough homes that the network provider is willing to do it again and again and again? Grab your mirrors, fight fans. If you’re not part of the solution, guess what part of the equation you are.

 

 

Like the man says, “Don’t knock the hustle.” As long as fans buy pay-per-view cards they aren’t 100% sold on, they’ll have to pay $50 to see cards like this.

 

Now don’t get me wrong. If Marquez/Lopez wasn’t in Vegas the same night, I’d be ringside covering this bout because I want to see Saul Alvarez from ringside as many times as I can. I think he has something. And I am sure Golden Boy will round out the card with promising talents like Charles Huerta, Carlos Molina, Luis Ramos, and Frankie Gomez. It’s the kind of card you go to live if you live that town. It’s not a card anyone should have to pay $50 on HBO PPV for. Independent, sure. But not HBO.

 

An HBO Pay-Per-View, hell, a pay-per-view in general used to mean something. It said, “This one is a rare fight. This one is not like all the others.” The stamp PPV promised a ton of exciting fights for belts featuring match-ups you couldn’t guess the outcome of that led up to what was the Super Bowl of the moment. You know; competition at its prime best? This is not that.

 

It suppose it’s optimistic to wish HBO would save what used to be a gold standard stamp of approval for only the best fights one week after an HBO PPV card billed “Night of the Year” that was only that because Dmitry Pirog iced Danny Jacobs in five rounds. Optimistic would be one word. The way things are going, insane would be another.

 

Manny Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey: a main event we knew the outcome of going in with one of the worst undercards ever packaged in a billion-dollar stadium. Not only did we know the outcome of the fights, we knew they’d probably suck, too. And how did it do? 700,000 PPV buys.

 

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez: a predictable outcome as Marquez, who weighed in comfortably last week at 133.5 pounds, moved to welterweight last year for one fight to take on “More like a Middleweight” Mayweather. So what did we do to watch this run-through of what we knew already to be? It was bought to the tune of 1,000,000 PPV buys. To be fair, Michael Katsidis vs. Vicente Escobedo was a good scrap on that undercard. But the co-feature was Chris John vs. Rocky Juarez. Any matchmaker worth their salt looking for excitement knows Rocky Juarez is not half of that equation last year, much less last week. Any fan who knows this sport would know going in that the co-feature shouldn’t be the smoke/bathroom/go-get-something-from-the-basement break.  

 

So where does that leave us? Well, as always, boxing fans will look for the bright side and argue who will win the main event. The promoters will host conference calls, media workouts, and events leading up to the night. I’ll print a Shane Mosley interview to go along with one with Saul Alvarez while this website will cover various other fighters on the card. That’s what I and this website do. We cover boxing. We aren’t the problem. Neither are the promoters. They’re in the business of making money with their fighters. No, the belts and the sanctioning bodies aren’t the problem either. I don’t even blame Don King. And hell, if the numbers say HBO can make money putting their stamp on this card, you might not hear me knocking their hustle anymore after this.

 

 

Why?

 

Because the people I blame are the fans. The 1,000,000 homes that bought Mayweather/Marquez and thought it was for pound-for-pound supremacy and the 700,000 homes that actually let Bob Arum convince them that because Pacquiao/Clottey was in a really neat building, they should buy it. A building. Now that’s either great promoting or blind sheep buying whatever crap they’re told to buy. Probably a bit of both.

 

No. I can’t knock the hustle. But I can shake my head at the hustled. You get what you pay for and apparently like it.

 

You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him on each Monday’s episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim or tune into hear him live on Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST when he co-hosts the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com. Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.



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