HBO’s “Boxing’s Best”: Assessed & Undressed

By Joe Masterleo on January 1, 2015
HBO’s “Boxing’s Best”: Assessed & Undressed
This one was less about Golovkin’s bona-fide talent than Rubio’s formidable lack thereof.

As serfs before kings, the vanquished fighters in all of these HBO “standouts” maintained tail-tucking “strategies’ throughout…

In a so-called “holiday treat” for boxing fans over a four day stretch, HBO has replayed eight of what is has deemed its select or “standout” fights of 2014. This writer has no argument with four, maybe five of the showcased bouts being categorized as “best” or “standout.” But clearly, if Marquez vs. Alvarado, Golovkin vs. Rubio and Hopkins vs. Kovalev were among the “best” HBO boxing had to offer last year, its annual boxing pickins’ were slim indeed. Surely, it left Santa’s gift-sack of fistic goodies more sagging than stuffed for calendar year 2014, leaving an otherwise hearty “Ho-Ho-Ho” a muted So-so. As an HBO viewing audience, we must have been bad boys and girls last year. 

By including these latter three bouts in their year-end showcasing, HBO programmers were again caught with their “hard sell” marketing derrieres exposed, shilling the magnitude of their broadcast product as having value and quality beyond its ultimate worth. If the eight bouts broadcast had been the proverbial “stockings hung by the chimney with care,” for sure, at least three would have been filled with coal and nails.

Truth be told, Golovkin-Rubio was hardly a noteworthy match-up, if only because Golovkin hardly broke a sweat in that October affair, with Rubio being little more than an obliging stage-prop for the talented champion, content merely to show-up for an easy payday before again receding into the shadows as an overrated contender. This one was less about Golovkin’s bona-fide talent than Rubio’s formidable lack thereof. And don’t try and sell me on Rubio’s record. As holiday treats go, this one was a carrot casserole.

Meanwhile, Kovalev-Hopkins was also less than spectacular, with Hopkins bicycling in retreat throughout their November skirmish, uncharacteristically throwing few punches of consequence, fighting not to win but merely to go the distance, thereby avoiding a KO at the hands of the power-punching champion. And never mind the “chess-game” strategizing argument in defense of Hopkins. Thanks to Hopkins, this one was bland Chinese-checkers, plain and simple. If this bout was a holiday dessert, it’d be sour milk and prune jam. Truly, a treat befitting a laxative. 

And as for the third viewing “treat,” Marquez-Alvarado last May was a classic boxing clinic given by Marquez over a strong but slower overmatched opponent, who, like Hopkins, refused to let his very capable hands go, at least enough to gain Marquez’s respect, score points or back him off. Ring announcers Max Kellerman and Roy Jones were repeatedly critical of Alvarado for same, as was his corner, while at the same time calling the bout a “great fight.” Go figure. Doesn’t it take two to tango? Fault Alvarado, not Marquez, the very embodiment of boxing who always comes prepared, a workman with lunch pail in hand, prepared to go all-out and all-the-way. Each fighter did knock the other down once in this bloody affair, and there were a few significant exchanges between them sprinkled throughout. But overall, much like the other so-so bouts, this fight was a far cry from the “standout” or “select” billing that was advertised. So much roasted goat with boiled octopus, I’ll pass on this offering.

As serfs before kings, the vanquished fighters in all of these HBO “standouts” maintained tail-tucking “strategies’ throughout, adopting postures and positioning that betokened fearful caution, capitulation, and subservience toward their dominating and talented alpha-male victors. If you so doubt the truth of body-language telling the full story in any encounter, turn the volume off when watching these fights for a rich lesson in non-verbal messaging. Never mind the pickled herring, these three bouts were red herrings, fire-engine red herrings.   

Okay, while we’re at it, may as well toss in the Golovkin-Geale mismatch, more like a ballet than a Nutcracker for the champion, if you get my drift. So much routine drumming for the Kazakh drummer-boy champ. Pass the Alka-Seltzer Plus.
If, as HBO proposed, the three or four aforesaid bouts were indeed “holiday treats,” then my left-over Turkey Day eggnog and stale fruit-cake were, by any standard, so much champagne and caviar, having all the pizzazz (anticlimactic fizzle) of staying up past midnight to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. While dropping the rating’s ball on this octet, says here HBO at least got half their select list right. Oh well, half a loaf is better than none. 

Nonetheless, we were dished aplenty the meaty roast goose and glazed ham amid this mixed HBO holiday treat. If only because the leftovers of Pacquaio-Bradley 2, Cotto-Martinez, Crawford-Gamboa and Klitschko-Pulev were worth reviewing and again went down easy, with Crawford-Gamboa getting the top HBO billing among the lot of them on this viewer’s card.

Next holiday, upon making its annual season-ending list for 2015, the HBO boxing brass might be wise to check it twice, discerning “naughty” from “nice’ before wrapping it with so much glitz and tinsel, hastily placing it before our boyishly expectant eyes.
Lo and behold, they may even be so smart as to first poll their paying viewership on the matter before rendering their inbred opinions of same.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Mike Alvarado: HBO World Championship Boxing Highlights



Gennady Golovkin vs Marco Antonio Rubio 18/10/2014 Complete Fight HD



Bernard Hopkins vs. Sergey Kovalev: HBO World Championship Boxing Highlights



Daniel Geale vs Gennady Golovkin



Pacquiao vs. Bradley II 2014 (HBO Boxing)



Boxing Miguel Cotto vs Sergio Martinez 7th June 2014



Yuriorkis Gamboa vs Terence Crawford Full Fight (High Quality)



Владимир Кличко - Кубрат Пулев. 15.11.2014



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  1. Darrell 02:52am, 01/03/2015

    I agree Koolz, Wlad vs Pulev was definitely the highlight for mine of HBO’s offerings.

    GGG is a clearcut destroyer at middleweight…...Terence Crawford is a similar fighter, resume wise (with the exception of Gamboa), yet doesn’t get the same heat GGG does for his arguably “lightish” resume.  I like Crawford a lot but his collection of victims are possibly just as thin as GGG’s…...if anyone wants to nitpick…..though I can see, just like Golovkin, that Crawford is ALL top quality.

    Golovkin’s slaying of Geale, for one, should have quietened any doubters as well as his summary executions of any number of his last half dozen or so opponents…...all worthy, if not absolute top drawer fighters, certainly on a par with the notable guys that Crawford has fought.

    Again, not having a poke at Crawford.

  2. Koolz 12:00am, 01/03/2015

    Rather cynical look at HBO’s 2014 presents.
    It was much better than Showtime’s.
    As much as we like to say Golovkin beating up on B and C level fighters…
    you have to understand that he is that good where is making everyone
    look like C and B.  The Middle weight division is all B and C and C and B
    when it comes to fighting GGG.
    I think the Wlad and Pulev fight was the Highlight of HBO.

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 05:37am, 01/02/2015

    Or fighters screwing themselves and the public in the process…..Martinez knew he was damaged goods going in and so did “his people” and more than likely so did the Cotto camp.

  4. Critical Beatdown 10:32pm, 01/01/2015

    Agreed. Slim pickings indeed. GGG whipping up on a couple of B/C level guys was fun, but definitely not great. Loved the Crawford-Gamboa fight though, and Pac-Bradley was solid top-level stuff. Hopefully 2015 is a bounce-back and not another showcase of the big promotional thugs screwing the sport.

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