Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
It was reported late last week by Mike Coppinger of ESPN that lightweight champion, Teofimo Lopez, would finally be making a defense of his titles on October 4 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
For the talented Lopez, this will be his first outing of what has been a tumultuous 2021.
After what was an early career defining victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko last October, instead of capitalizing on that huge win by continuing to ply his trade and showcase himself to the public, he got into a very public pissing contest with Top Rank, and then quickly fell in love with Triller, as they paid an exorbitant fee for this upcoming contest with George Kambosos.
This event has been beset with issues and the honeymoon with the streaming platform/promoter soured quickly (The Trill is Gone)
Regardless, this will be his first bout in 12 months. Much of the momentum of his Lomachenko conquest has evaporated, the impact of that significant achievement largely forgotten. Which is why his next fight is in the small room at the Garden.
Photo Credit Mikey Williams/Top Rank
But this isn't to just harp on Lopez, this is an industry wide problem that plagues just about every marquee boxer.
Yet, this particular column will focus in specifically on the quartet of: Lopez, Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney and Gervonta Davis. Many observers believe that this group of young boxers -- who's ages range from 22 to 26 -- are the future of this sport.
That what Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Robert Duran, 'the Four Kings' did for boxing in the 80's, these young men will do in the roaring 2020's.
Folks, we need to stop such blasphemy.
Saying such things is an insult to these legendary men who help shape the history of boxing. When they battled, they weren't just prizefights, but international events that garnered world-wide exposure. It's why Showtime recently did a four-part documentary on this era ('the Kings').
These current guys will make handsome livings in the upcoming years, and be significant names within the game. But transcendent stars?
The reality is that they simply don't fight enough to actually build their own profiles to a point where they will ever be recognized beyond the hard-core boxing fan and the social media sphere. And looking at the current landscape of this business, there's no guarantee that they will actually mix with one another inside the ring. 'the Four King's of the 80's engaged in nine memorable battles.
Can you honestly state with any real certainty that any of these guys will fight each other in the near future?
This is a fact, that three-quarters of the way through 2021, this current foursome has fought a grand total of three times. It will be four if Lopez-Kambosos actually comes to fruition next month.
Here's a look at each of their recent paths:
- Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs -- age 24): The current WBC/ WBA/IBF/WBO lightweight titlist, fought just once last year, although in fairness, like many other boxers his schedule was impacted by the world-wide pandemic. But it looks like for the second consecutive year he will fight just one time.
Photo Credit: Tom Hogan/Golden Boy Promotions
- Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs -- age 23) : After one lone appearance in 2020, he returned to the ring in early January where he stopped Luke Campbell. He then pulled out of his scheduled bout versus Javier Fortuna citing mental health issues. It's not clear if he will fight again in '21, although Golden Boy Promotions is hinting at a fall bout with Joseph Diaz.
Photo Credit:Ed Mulholland, Matchroom Sports
- Haney (26-0, 15 KOs -- age 22) : Haney defeated Jorge Linares in May for what has been his only outing of the year. Last year he faced the aged Yuriorkis Gamboa in his only bout. There is talk of him having a DAZN (remember them?) in November or December. It's clear that he's getting a bit frustrated at not being able to land a significant name.
- Davis (25-0, 24 KOs' --age 26): 'Tank' ended up stopping Mario Barrios back in June and there has been some chatter of another bout in the fall. His 2020 consisted of his knockout of Leo Santa Cruz. This after fighting three times in a very productive 2019 campaign.
Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime Sports
Youth is wasted on the young, right?
But this isn't all their doing, because the current system has gotten these boxers paid to a point, where they are now two-time-a-year boxers who must fit inside a particular network budget. Which is fine when you are an established pay-per-view franchise, but it's something else when you still in the building stages of a career.
I hear a lot of these boxers talk about having to be 'Pretty Boy' Mayweather, before hitting the 'Money' stage. Yeah, it makes for a great sound bite, and fine in theory, except it comes without the realization of just how much work Floyd put into the initial chapters of his career before blossoming into one of the highest paid athletes in the world.
For Mayweather it was his 2007 super fight with Oscar De La Hoya that launched him to the next stratosphere. And that meant having meant 37 fights under his belt (where he was already a four-division champion) and being 11 years into his career at the age of 30.
To delve into this further, by the age of 25, Mayweather already had the likes of Genaro Hernandez, Angel Manfredy, Diego Corrales, Carlos Hernandez, Jesus Chavez and Jose Luis Castillo (twice) on his ledger.
You don't have to like Mayweather, but the man put in work. There was a certain type of sacrifice that is lost on today's generation. He earned his. This wasn't about the number of social media followers, or perceived popularity, but setting the foundation with a real career.
Have all the followers and likes you want, but real value is measured in pay-per-view results and gate receipts.
And speaking of 'the Golden Boy', coming off his first win over Julio Cesar Chavez in 1996, he was a bigger star than anyone currently in the sport (including Canelo Alvarez). The following year -- when he turned 24 -- he boxed five times (Five title fights in a year? Oscar De La Hoya recalls his memorable 1997) as he solidified his status as the games biggest superstar.
Now a promoter, De La Hoya is dismayed by the attitude that is prevalent among certain boxers.
On the flip side, De La Hoya (the founder of 'Golden Boy Promotions') like other major promoters are culpable in all this, as they sign young boxers to exorbitant contracts early on, and then lock them into their networks of choice that don't give them much flexibility in terms of extra opportunities to fight, or the ability to make certain match-ups.
The kids aren't the only ones to blame, here. The adults have failed them, too.
It's all fun and games, till someone gets hurt. I'm just glad Evander Holyfield wasn't too badly damaged (which I know is a relative term) this weekend....So who do you think won: Oscar Valdez or Robson Conceição? I had it seven rounds to five for Valdez, who looked like a guy who had a lot on his mind coming into this bout... So is that the new standard, that broken noses early on can hasten fights to be stopped?... Congratulations to SNAC's own Casey Morton who defeated Urvashi Singh in Dubai on Sunday....How bout that Pac12?!?1....Miami's victory App. St didn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence in Manny Diaz.....