Stacking the Deck—A Present Day Look at Top Rank and Golden Boy

By Marc Livitz on December 10, 2017
Stacking the Deck—A Present Day Look at Top Rank and Golden Boy
HBO and Showtime run concurrent telecasts. We as fans have to choose between the two.

Who knows just how many memorable nights we may have missed because of the disagreements between the two companies?

Throughout much of the 21st Century, boxing fans were unfortunately as well as undeservedly subjected to the shrapnel left behind when the sport’s two largest promotional giants refused to come to the table in the midst of a Cold War of sorts. We know the story all too well by now. Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, respectively, remained at loggerheads when it came to matching talent from each of their rosters.

It was unnerving to no end, to be sure and who knows just how many memorable nights we may have missed because of the disagreements between the two companies. It still happens from time to time. HBO and Showtime run concurrent telecasts and we as fans have to choose between the two. Of course, the DVR and split-screen functions on the new generations of TV’s have helped to alleviate some of the frustration.

As we quickly move not only towards the end of 2017 but also that of the second decade of the 2000’s, we can step back and ask just who now has the upper hand between Top Rank and Golden Boy and just where the best stable of talent currently lies. We can quickly get the names of the or soon to be past out of the way. Manny Pacquiao may be in current talks with the camp of Conor McGregor, if we’re to think everything we read on the internet is true. Regardless, his glory days are over. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. wasn’t a fighter under the Golden Boy banner, but they played a role in many of his fights after he became a name in every other household. These two fighters are done, so to speak. So, now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a very quick look at who has who and what means what.

A few months ago, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was handed what was seen as a dubious draw in his middleweight championship clash with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in Las Vegas. Many scored the bout seven rounds to five in favor of Golovkin, yet it’s not out of the argument to have the same view in Alvarez’s favor. Seven rounds to five either way or even a six-six draw is acceptable. Ten rounds to two as seen by one particular judge who will remain nameless is ridiculous. This person’s significant other was the third person in charge in Las Vegas on Saturday night as Miguel Roman closed the final chapter of Orlando Salido’s career.

Let’s not get off task here. Who else does Golden Boy have in terms of true star appeal other than Canelo? One who could fill a stadium or have tickets to his fight in the highest of demand?

Currently and in addition to Canelo, Golden Boy boasts the employment of such names as Jorge Linares, Rey Vargas, Alberto Machado as well as new talents in Diego De La Hoya, Joseph Diaz, Jr. and Jason Quigley. With all respect to the names just listed, none of them can fill seats unless fans are already present to see the undercard of which they’re taking part. Maybe one day, that will change. Regardless of who Top Rank has under the books, Canelo Alvarez is the biggest draw in boxing, hands down.

He has the weight of an entire country on his shoulders. Well, most of it. He’s not completely beloved in all of Mexico. Still, he has the look of someone who might be from Boston as opposed to Guadalajara. Additionally, he’s not the most animated person and he doesn’t speak English very well. None of that seems to matter. He has enough on his side, at least for now for fans to buy rather than sell.

Now, let’s take a brief look at a company who has been in the business of professional boxing for over 50 years. On Saturday evening, a fighter who many have ticked the box as the world’s best pound-for-pound shut down an individual who held about as much professional as well as Olympic glory as himself. After Vasyl Lomachenko made Guillermo Rigondeaux believe that he’d sustained a fracture in the left hand which he rarely, if ever used in their highly anticipated showdown in Manhattan, Bob Arum of Top Rank made a rather gleeful declaration of his double gold medalist from Ukraine.

“I think Lomachenko is the most unbeatable fighter I’ve ever had,” he said. “The only one who was different was Muhammad Ali before the three and a half years.” Arum, of course, was referring to the time Ali spent away from the ring as he fought a different battle against the Federal Government. It’s Arum’s job as a promoter to prop up a unique talent as highly as possible. In years past, he made similar statements about Thomas Hearns as well as Manny Pacquiao.

In addition to Lomachenko, Top Rank has amongst its roster of championship talent an undefeated boxer from Omaha, Nebraska. Terence Crawford just completed his quest to effectively clean out the junior welterweight division and now has his eyes set on the 147-pound class. They also have notable fighters such as Oscar Valdez and Gilberto Ramirez.

So, where does this leave us? Golden Boy has Canelo, while Top Rank has Vasyl and Terence. On the other hand, boxing’s other stars such as Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Keith Thurman, Leo Santa Cruz, Miguel Berchelt and Carl Frampton have all put pen to paper with other promoters. The Cold War isn’t what it used to be, thankfully but it hasn’t completely faded into history, either.

While the sport’s absolute best competitors may please the writers and the most ardent of boxing fans, it’s still the bigger names as well as the marketability of others who turn the most heads and are able to operate outside of the norm. Think about it.

When Floyd Mayweather, Jr. finally met up with Manny Pacquiao in 2015, the public bought in. Not many cared that Manny was savagely knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez less than three years prior or that his career was already on the downside. The public knew the names and were all too happy to ker-plunk the $100 fee to watch the bout live on Pay TV. Again, they knew the names and many may have thought that Manny and Floyd would stand in the middle of the ring, toe-to-toe and beat the crap out of each other.

The same hook, line and sinker shtick worked again this past August. Millions upon millions actually wanted to see Floyd take on Conor McGregor. The proof is in the pudding and the pudding is on the table. No one’s going hungry anytime soon if this type of formula continues to be successful.

The game’s best pound-for-pound talent may have the accolades yet the anomaly and sellable name allows one to ride the persona wave with better handling. Let the debate begin.

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  1. ceylon mooney 06:16pm, 12/11/2017

    “eventually Loma will cause one of the more highly skilled and ego driven asshats that he faces to have a full on nervous breakdown in the ring for all the world to see….that will be a sad thing to see!”

    damn cuz that may actually happen.

  2. Gogea Mitu 12:36pm, 12/10/2017

    “Vasyl Lomachenko made Guillermo Rigondeaux believe that he sustained a fracture in the left hand which he rarely,if ever used….”. Going forward the only ones that will hang with Loma and take their medicine are the brutes….eventually Loma will cause one of the more highly skilled and ego driven asshats that he faces to have a full on nervous breakdown in the ring for all the world to see….that will be a sad thing to see!

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