TruSparta X: Winter War & Calculated Risk

By David Matthew on February 22, 2013
TruSparta X: Winter War & Calculated Risk
"I’m about staying active and I’m going to give fans a lot more of what they want to see.”

Mayweather announced a 30-month/six-fight deal with Showtime/CBS that is rumored to be the richest an individual athlete ever made in sports…

* As boxing emerges out of yet another deep seasonal slumber of inactivity, cancelled fights, and botched negotiations, aficionados are anxious for intriguing matchmaking. Whether it was Garcia-Judah, Mitchell-Banks II, or Alexander-Brook, fight fans have been deprived of squared circle warfare in the young days of 2013. Thankfully, there is finally reason for excitement as a myriad of exciting bouts begin to crystallize in the waning days of winter to set up a jam-packed quarter of boxing on the very near horizon.

* This past weekend’s HBO card left much to be desired thanks to the cancellation of Mitchell-Banks II (caused by a legitimate injury to Banks). As such, fans endured a hardly fought battle between Sakio Bika and Nikola Sjekloca, which was televised by HBO as a last-minute replacement to the highly anticipated rematch between Mitchell and Banks. While Bika and Sjekloca fought valiantly, it wasn’t the kind of high-profile fight that HBO subscribers sign up for when they purchase their monthly dose of HBO programming, particularly those who only subscribe to the premium programming outlet for the sole purpose of its award-winning boxing presentations. The card was almost saved as rumors circulated about regarding a Seth Mitchell vs. Bryant Jennings replacement bout, but negotiations fell apart. Team Mitchell deserves credit for being courageously game in considering a last-minute replacement bout against the young and dynamic Jennings. Truth be told, if there wasn’t a possibility that a Wladimir Klitschko vs. Bryant Jennings fight might happen in May, we may have seen Mitchell-Jennings, which likely would’ve been replete with power punching and thunder. 

* Saturday’s main event featured another brilliant performance by HBO’s freshly minted Adrien Broner, who now steps to the forefront as “Mr. HBO”. Unfortunately, Broner’s opponent (Gavin Rees) failed to possess the requisite immutable characteristics to give Broner a challenge worthy of premium HBO boxing programming. Rees—who displayed immense heart and courage in battling Broner—simply was undersized and outgunned. Despite the opening pair of rounds displaying competitive fire from Rees, nobody seriously ever felt like Broner was in any danger, simply because it was as if Rees was a freshman in high school trying to fight a college senior. HBO knew this going in, but nonetheless gave the green light for another unsightly matchup which left fans bitterly unfulfilled. Broner’s handlers are smart to bring their young star along slowly and comfortably, as he’s still just 24 years of age even though he’s already a world champion. Being his usual (and brutally) honest self, Broner even hinted that the work was far too easy, likening his fight against Rees to “legal bankrobbing.” Broner even went on to say that he will continue to show up for the massive paychecks and sure-shot victories “As long as HBO is paying me to fight these lightweights.” Conversely, HBO might now be behooved to demand more competitive matchmaking, lest their subscribers trot over to Showtime in droves now that the sport’s biggest star—Floyd Mayweather—has enlisted Showtime/CBS to air his fights.

* This weekend features a refreshing pair of well-matched fights that could produce February fireworks. Both fights are shining examples of quality matchmaking where promoters take the calculated risks that must be made in order for their respective fighters to have a chance to reach boxing’s limelight. Tonight, Lamont Peterson faces Kendall Holt (ESPN “Friday Night Fights”) in what is a badly needed main event after weeks of ESPN cards that sent fans into catatonic states of narcolepsy on couches all across the country. Peterson vs. Holt is a must-win fight for both men. For Peterson, fresh off a suspension for testing positive for PEDs after his spirited war against Amir Khan, a win against Holt will keep him afloat the light welterweight division and in the hunt for another title shot. Because of the positive PED test, Peterson’s victory against Khan is now rightfully under suspicion, and he will need to electrify against Holt in order to cement his status as a rightful (and clean) champion. Will Peterson possess the same dynamic physique against Holt as he featured versus Khan? Will his punches carry the same power and impact? These are questions that must be asked as Peterson now joins the ranks of fighters held to strict scrutiny after recent failed PED testing. For Holt—perhaps best known for his scintillating wars against Colombian stalwart Ricardo Torres—this may be his last opportunity to regain entry into the division’s top-tier. Having lost every time he steps up in class (most notably to Timothy Bradley and Danny Garcia)—Holt nonetheless possesses the skill-set, quickness, and pugilistic dynamism to be a top fighter, but has often drifted into bewildering inactivity in his biggest moments. At 31, “Rated R” Holt will need to turn in an inspired performance against Peterson if he wishes to live up to his early-career hype. This fight features the kind of urgent desperation surrounding two top fighters that can produce electricity. For fans, it’s finally a “Friday Night Fights” installment that is worth staying up for.

* Saturday night also features an intriguing match-up as Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith faces Cornelius “K9” Bundrage in an IBF light middleweight title fight (Showtime). After a heated final presser, the dynamic clash between these two fighters could prove to create an interesting clash of pugilism. Bundrage, a bruising come-forward stalker, will seek to mount effective offense against the slick, skilled counterpunching Smith. Bundrage—fresh off a pair of TKO victories against the underwhelming Cory Spinks—may be fighting the most skilled boxer he’s ever faced. Smith has been an underappreciated warrior for years, and has been ducked by many-a-fighter as he’s the epitome of “high-risk/low-reward” for matchmakers who rightfully see him as a difficult fighter to face. Now fighting under the Mayweather Promotions regalia, Smith has significant promotional support behind him, along with a main event headline on Showtime that will punctuate a weekend of quality matchmaking within the sweet science.

* Speaking of Showtime, the biggest news of 2013 came this week as Floyd “Money” Mayweather announced a 30-month/six-fight deal with Showtime/CBS that is rumored to be the richest an individual athlete ever made in sports. While the specific terms of the contract are confidential, there is word that the deal could be worth up to as much as $250 million. Mayweather—who referred to his split with HBO as a “divorce” —seems very serious about fighting six times in 30 months, something which some boxing fans find hard to believe. “For the next 30 months I will give you excitement,” explained Mayweather in a recent interview. “I’m excited. I’m about staying active and I’m going to give fans a lot more of what they want to see.” If Mayweather indeed fights six times in 30 months, it will be tremendous for the sport, and fans will be treated to a higher volume ratio of Mayweather boxing than has typified his career in recent years. Also great for the sport is the prospect of boxing’s biggest fights returning to network television via CBS. Given its relationship with Showtime, we will likely see CBS more committed to boxing than ever before, and that can only draw in more casual fans who do not subscribe to premium programming and thus are only exposed to the profoundly average boxing that is too often showcased on regular cable. It will be interesting to see how Showtime and CBS accommodate Mayweather fights, as he has been accustomed to the exquisite pre-fight promo punch that HBO’s 24/7 series has provided him. Mayweather’s first challenge is to take place against capable southpaw Robert “Ghost” Guerrero on May 4th. While some analysts like Guerrero’s chances against Mayweather, it seems far more plausible that this is a precursor to a potential Mayweather-Canelo superfight that might take place in the winter.  Now that the appetite for Mayweather-Pacquiao has all but disappeared from the boxing fan’s palate, Mayweather-Canelo is the biggest fight that can be made. Should Canelo get past Austin Trout (a dangerous opponent), it will be interesting to see if Showtime pushes for the potential mega-fight, or if they will be content in simply having Mayweather on its platform. For the sake of the science, let’s hope it’s the former.

Follow TruSparta on Twitter @David_Math

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Peterson Vs. Holt Friday Night Fights Preview

Showtime Boxing - Bundrage vs. Smith - News Update - Press Conference - Floyd Mayweather

Ishe Smith talks career and k9 Bundrage

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  1. Rick 01:43am, 02/24/2013

    Honestly it makes me no difference what channel Mayweather fights on. It’ll be $60 or more regardless and I’m not interested. I don’t really see what’s supposed to be so exciting about it. Am I supposed to be excited because he’s making a lot of money? I’m not. I likely wouldn’t watch his fights even if they were to put em on CBS. Which I don’t see happening so why are they announcing it as Showtime/CBS? Just a marketing ploy I imagine. I’d just assume not even hear his name until he starts taking the fights he should be.

  2. Kurt 09:57am, 02/23/2013

    In the past 7 years Mayweathers only had 6 fights. Its absurd to think he will fight 6 times in the next 30 months. Who comes up with this nonsense.  How stupid do these people think boxing fans are???

  3. the thresher 03:52pm, 02/22/2013

    Both guys have had long layoffs which makes this playing field very level.

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