It's Monday. Welcome back for another edition of Observe and Fight, The Boxing Observer's compilation of observations and random thoughts from the week that was in boxing. Get caught up on some of the most recent events you may have missed out on, including Oscar De La Hoya's comments about his company and hopes for boxing, Robert Guerrero's return in the fight of 2014 thus far, Alex Ariza's departure from another world-class trainer, and much more. Without further ado, check out the latest observations from the Boxing Observer, David Kassel.
Is Oscar de La Hoya trying to repair his relationship with Floyd Mayweather? If you were watching Fox Sports Live after the fights on Thursday night, and again on Saturday night during Showtime Championship Boxing, it sure seemed like he was complimenting Mayweather more than he has in the past 8 years. When asked about who can beat Floyd Mayweather, Oscar responded by saying, "I don't know if anybody can beat Floyd. Let's put it that way. I give up. I give up, that's it...The only person that can beat him is himself. Boxing history shows that no fighter retires undefeated, but I really am rooting for him. Retire undefeated, making history, to be able to witness a fighter like Floyd Mayweather, who can retire undefeated, who can retire with the money he made, make smart business decisions, to be witness and see something like that today in my era, it's like 'Wow.' It's history in the making. It would be great." Over the years, Oscar has consistently stated the key to beating Mayweather is the jab and has tried to coach fighters facing Mayweather in order to beat him. The dislike between the two men is public knowledge. Now, all of a sudden, Oscar is changing his tune? I almost wonder if somebody such as Showtime Head of Sports, Stephen Espinoza, or Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez, or someone else close to the situation, sat down with Oscar and explained just how dire Golden Boy's situation could potentially become down the line. Those were the kindest words De La Hoya has spoken about Mayweather in years, and I don't think it's a coincidence it comes on the heels of the resignations of Richard Schaefer and Bruce Binkow from Golden Boy. De La Hoya needs to make sure not to make anyone else angry because I don't believe he is in a power position at this moment.
How is it possible that De La Hoya was surprised that Richard Schaefer resigned? Oscar keeps saying things are going great, and Golden Boy Promotions is a well-oiled machine, but Schaefer repeatedly said he would not work with Bob Arum again. De La Hoya continued to say he is willing to work with anyone to make the best fights. Feelings had certainly been hurt, egos had been bruised, and maybe Schaefer saw this move by Oscar as a sign he wasn't going to have his back. The relationship between Schaefer and De La Hoya was extremely close, but that was before Oscar's life spiraled out of control. In my mind, for De La Hoya to say he was completely surprised (if he actually means it) by Schaefer's departure speaks to the lack of thought that went into Oscar wanting to jump back into the top spot in Golden Boy Promotions. It seems as if there was no sit down meeting with Schaefer to discuss the state of the company. As I wrote last week, it's difficult for a leader to leave a position, for any reason, and not expect some push back when he/she is ready to come back to work.
Robert Guerrero and Yoshihiro Kamegai just fought the Fight of the Year, thus far, in 2014! If you missed it, you should be ashamed of yourself. The entire triple-header was thoroughly entertaining, but the main event exceeded any, and all, expectations. Guerrero and Kamegai stood toe-to-toe for 12 full, grueling rounds, and neither man was willing to give an inch. Some people were comparing it to Corrales vs. Castillo I on Twitter. I'm not sure it was that great, but it sure was close. Think of it as a more competitive version of Omar Figueroa vs. Nohito Arakawa from 2013. Either way, Guerrero earned his $1 million payday (Kamegai deserves WAY MORE than the $75,000 he received for the fight). There were at least 3 rounds I counted which could contend for Round of the Year. Guerrero's eye was in bad shape after the fight, so I expect him to be out of action for a little bit. At the earliest, he might be able to come back in November, maybe December, but don't be surprised if we don't see him again until 2015. He's got a lot of options on the table, but I almost wonder if he is looking for one last huge payday before calling it a career. Fighters with true boxing skills, such as Guerrero, don't step into wars like that without an ulterior motive. I just don't see any reason Guerrero needed to fight that way unless he was trying to put himself into the conversation for a Floyd Mayweather rematch, or a fight with Manny Pacquiao. He said he did it for the fans. Maybe he was hoping the fans were demanding to see him again. Well, he definitely got what he wanted. As for Kamegai, I want to see him back again against anyone. Maybe Jesus Soto Karass?
Alex Ariza must not play well with others. Early last week, Robert Garcia was conducting an interview in which he said Ariza was no longer working with any of his fighters. Garcia didn't go into detail, but it sure sounds like there was a falling out between the two. Ariza is making a name for himself in boxing, but for all the wrong reasons. He is clearly good at what he does as a strength and conditioning coach, but I don't think the issue stems from illegal or banned substances. Maybe that's the issue, and he hasn't yet been caught; however, maybe it's also Ariza trying to get in the way of the trainer to do his job. Freddie Roach got extremely upset with Ariza for yelling instructions during fights. I'm not saying Ariza was doing that with Garcia's fighters, but maybe Ariza was trying to change something, technically, that Garcia didn't want changed. I don't know for sure, but Ariza needs to be careful or nobody will work with him again.
Vasyl Lomachenko is the truth! I thought Gary Russell Jr. was going to use his speed advantage to bank the first 7 or 8 rounds before Lomachenko figured things out and made the fight close, but I was dead wrong. Lomachenko earned a majority decision (I personally gave him 9 rounds in the fight), and he proved he may be the best fighter at featherweight (yes, I'm even including Nonito Donaire in that conversation). Lomachenko's options are limitless, but look for a potential title unification with Evgeny Gradovich. There is also Donaire, Nicholas Walters, and Abner Mares and Jhonny Gonzalez if Golden Boy is truly willing to do business with Top Rank. All of these fights are great fights, but none of them is the one I really want to see first. The one that has me foaming at the mouth is the possibility of a Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux bout. I hope Bob Arum can actually compliment Rigondeaux after his July fight in Macau. I know fans, and HBO, would be willing to pay to see Lomachenko vs. Rigondeaux. HBO would be foolish not to buy that fight.
As for Gary Russell Jr., he will be back. Russell Jr. was not out-skilled, he was out-performed. Russell Jr. had been criticized for being moved along too slowly, and the lack of experience showed. Russell Jr. still has all the skills to be a Top-10 pound for pounder, but he needs to be challenged again in his next fight. I don't expect this loss to deter the career of Russell Jr. He will be back, and he will win a world title.
Devon Alexander is back into title contention after his victory over Jesus Soto Karass. Alexander admitted after the fight that he has the skills, but doesn't always look good. He proved, Saturday night, he can be an entertaining, yet skillful fighter. We saw it against Marcos Maidana, and we saw it against Soto Karass. From here on out, any fighter Alexander faces is going to try and bully him around the ring. The fighters who have speed will have the most success against Alexander "The Great." Devon is a strong fighter who has a great chin, and if he can figure out a way to stop the speedy bully, he will be back to being the fighter we all thought he could be after his performance against Juan Urango.
Much respect to Nadjib Mohammedi for his knockout win against Anatoliy Dudchenko, but he isn't ready for Bernard Hopkins. Mohammedi is now the #1 contender for Hopkins' IBF light heavyweight title, but if that bout takes place, it will be a white-wash. Hopkins is far too skilled and has far more experience for Mohammedi to pose any problems.
Chad Dawson is not "back" as some people are already insinuating. Of course Dawson looked great on Saturday night against George Blades. He was supposed to. We all knew this was a confidence building fight for Dawson. I'm not going to be convinced until he shows us he is "Bad Chad" against a Top-10 fighter (like he did against Bernard Hopkins). Dawson is an enigmatic fighter, and I want to see some consistency before placing him back into title contention.
I sure hope the meeting of the sanctioning bodies in Mexico leads to some changes in boxing. The meeting is scheduled for today (Monday) and has the presidents of the WBC, WBA, and IBF (the WBO president is unable to attend due to a prior commitment) getting together for discussions unknown to the public. I'm hopeful, but I'm also not stupid. I'm not expecting miracles.
Congratulations to Hank Lundy for winning his lawsuit and receiving $250,000 in damages against former manager Ivan Cohen. The details are extensive, but the judge basically ruled that Cohen sabotaged Lundy's career for about 5 years and cost him a world title shot against Lucas Matthysse. The ruling is great for all boxers who ever feel they are being taken advantage of. This ruling may also give Andre Ward some hope that a judge may rule in his favor in his battle against Dan Goossen.
Hekkie Budler continues to roll. The WBA and IBO strawweight champion easily KO'd his challenger, Pigmy Kokietgym, in 8 rounds in Monte Carlo, Saturday. Budler is an exciting fighter, but showed another dimension to his game. He is a force to be reckoned with and I'm interested to see how long he stays at 105lbs.
McWilliams Arroyo and Prichard Colon both made very successful TV appearances on Thursday night. Arroyo shocked everyone with a stunning one-punch knockout, in an IBF flyweight eliminator bout, against previously undefeated Froilan Saludar. Colon, another undefeated prospect represented by Al Haymon, got some solid rounds in against a game journeyman, Carlos Garcia. Expect some big things from Colon in the future. He's only 10-0 (10 KO's), but he stands 6 feet tall and has a long reach. By the end of 2016, he may be close to being in title contention.
I'm very interested in Saturday night's lightweight title bout between Terence Crawford and Yuriorkis Gamboa. I know people are writing off Gamboa, and they have good reason to do so, but Gamboa has blinding speed and very good power. Crawford hasn't really been hit hard yet, so Gamboa could be the guy to test his chin. The later the fight goes, the easier it will become for Crawford. Gamboa needs to get the job done early or he's toast. Expect Gamboa to come out like a spitfire looking for the knockout.
Each week, I feature an email from a fan on Observe and Fight. This week's email comes to us from Mitch regarding Floyd Mayweather's next move...
"Hypothesis: a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation. Floyd. No venue. No opponent. No media tour. Approximately 85 days out from September 13...I'm going to take a stab at this situation. I've come to 2 conclusions:
1. Floyd is going to fight Maidana in a rematch (with Garcia being a longshot dark horse). We are running out of time. There have been zero announcements. There aren't many who will crack 1 million buys and Cotto (just fought), Manny (politricks), Alvarez (July date) , and A Mere Con (religion) are out of the picture for September. That leaves a Maidana rematch as the only real feasible 1 million plus shot at September.
2. Floyd cancels the September date in favor of an October, November, or December date. That allows the Schaefer/Haymon play enough time to develop and then to prep for the next big event.
If Frochy and Groves drew 80,000 in Wembley, what would Mayweather/Khan draw? Even something as little as a month delay will give A Mere Con enough time to get a decent camp in to fight in late October. So a cancellation allows the new Mayweather team to get ducks lined up, have a press tour, get Con up to par strength-wise, and get 80,000 - 100,000 tix sold for Wembley stadium. I see El Chino II if we keep September or A Mere Con if we cancel September in favor of a date between Oct and Nov. As I stated, I'm an analyst at my job and it isn't sports-based. But the clock is ticking and it's close to the danger zone as far as making moves. At this point I think it HAS to be Maidana right now or a cancellation for September 13. PPV numbers (or shortage thereof) tell me it's either /or. I wonder. Hmm...."
It's clear (and also refreshing I might add) that you seem to be a fan of boxing, but also have an understanding of the business aspect of the sport. Rumor has it that Floyd vs. Maidana pulled in approximately 900,000 PPV buys in May. The hype for a rematch has died down, and I don't think we'll see part 2 anytime soon (if at all). Had you asked me about it last month, I would have said Maidana is a shoe-in. However, the one silver lining which may give Maidana the best shot is his team is trying to restructure his contract, likely to break away from Golden Boy (if he is currently still under contract). He is signed by Al Haymon, but his status with Golden Boy is uncertain. Mayweather potentially cancelling the September date may not only be because of a lack of promotion. Mayweather suffered a cut over his eye, which may not be healing as quickly as he wants, which is another reason his return may get pushed back. November, possibly December, is more likely a date for his return, if he returns at all in 2014. Danny Garcia will NOT be fighting Mayweather in 2014. Garcia's next fight is August 9th, and then he is moving up to welterweight. He has stated his intention to take at least one fight at 147 before challenging Mayweather. It is extremely possible that Amir Khan is going to be the opponent if Mayweather returns in late 2014. After the Froch vs. Groves match-up, England may be a great spot for Mayweather, although Vegas has treated Mayweather very kindly. Boxing is all about creating the biggest event and spectacle possible. Right now, boxing in England, and Europe specifically, can be a huge spectacle when done correctly. Mayweather vs. Khan would be a one of a kind event and both fighters are represented by Al Haymon, so it shouldn't be difficult to make the fight. Great thoughts!
That's all I've got for this week. Email any questions or comments to email@example.com and I will answer them throughout the week. Your email may be featured in the next "Observe and Fight." Follow me on Twitter @BoxingObserver, and be sure to "Like" The Boxing Observer on Facebook.
[ Follow David Kassel on Twitter @BoxingObserver
Follow David Kassel on Twitter @BoxingObserver]
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