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The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

DKSAB discord server:
2018 boxing awards - Upcoming big fights - Champs & p4p list - Links & info

I've tended to frame these year end posts in terms of the ending of eras, but this is the first time I can confidently point to a concrete event that marks a true paradigm shift in boxing’s future. HBO, the sport’s long-standing flagship channel of elite level competition and stardom, announced that it has no future plans to invest in or broadcast boxing, effectively dissolving a decades-long dominant sports brand. In statements made by HBO executive Peter Nelson, boxing simply wasn't a major factor in drawing people to subscribe, compared to the amount of money it cost the network to produce content for it and not more Game of Thrones prequels instead. Essentially HBO felt boxing did not appeal to the mainstream audience they are chasing. And they are right, for now.

But this was not always the case. The highest earning boxing match of all time was three years ago, between two boxers whose majority of significant fights were seen below the HBO logo. This was a fight your grandmother probably knew about if she owned a radio. Before that was Oscar De La Hoya, and if your grandmother doesn't know who he was chances are she'll recognize the name. Before him was Tyson and Ali and Foreman when boxing was undeniably a mainstream sport. Your average person probably could not name more than one opponent that any of these guys actually fought (if that) but they still know those names and probably even that they were boxers! What made these boxers resonate with the masses was not their technique or accomplishments in the ring but their stories; people followed them for reasons that had nothing to do with punching. This is the audience that HBO has always tried to appeal to, the audience they are giving up on.

Mainstream appeal is the dream of every entertainment franchise. There will always be a crowd of hardcore aficionados who consume every bit of media that caters to their specific interest. Then there's an exponentially bigger group of people with a more casual interest who will check in if there's buzz among the hardcore. But exponentially bigger still is the mainstream audience who have not even a casual interest in your content but will follow the crowd on any event with a big enough critical mass. Reaching that point requires either an exceptional product or an exceptional level of marketing, so most media franchises expand by broadening their casual appeal to the point where grandmothers are following for fear of missing out on something.

Professional sports (including boxing) are organized in exactly this fashion, most sports even have multiple levels of competition to reflect multiple degrees of fan interest. The most hardcore sports fans are interested in the sport for its own merits, whether that's the “sweet science” of boxing or the interplay of a basketball team or the tactical matchup of a football formation. They will watch as much of their sport as they have time for, and make time to watch any event that is relevant. They’ll go to every live event within 20 miles of them down to the high school or amateur level just to see potential up and comers, they may even be involved at that level. This is the background of any sport and it's out of this crowd that you get kids that decide they like the sport enough to test their talents.

The next level up is people who have a general interest in sports if not a complete investment in them and tune in when this general interest crosses over with other of their interests. They appreciate the sport but are not obsessed with it, they will go out of their way to watch events if they are given a compelling reason to care about the specific event. For example, they may watch Lakers games because they are a basketball team that represents Los Angeles. If the Lakers aren’t playing they may watch a competitive game between two talented teams. Or they’ll tune in for the playoffs where there are are higher stakes. This is the fantasy football crowd, this is the Cinco de Mayo PPV buyer crowd, this is the subscribe-to-HBO-for-boxing crowd.

Then there’s everyone else, all the people who have not even a general interest in sports, won’t put in any of their own effort into following a sport, and for that matter don’t know anything about sports beyond what other people tell them or they occasionally overhear. They only are interested in sports ss far as they want to be sure they are not missing out on anything with cultural significance. This usually means an event has to have a broad appeal that sweeps people up in it. People watch the Super Bowl not just for the football, but for the event itself: the yearly party, the commercials, the halftime show, and so on; even people who hate football will still watch so that they can quote the dumb beer commercial the next day with everyone else. In fact they may pay great amounts of money to attend just so that they can tell other people about it.

The most money is in appealing to the third group, the mainstream crowd, and the most lucrative franchises in every sport are those with big mainstream appeal. That tends to mean highly publicized clashes between successful teams with charismatic athletes in highly populated areas with big media markets. It means lots and lots of careful marketing, to appeal to the biggest group of people possible, because you don’t just want your die-hard fans to buy tickets, you also want them to get tickets for their spouses and children and grandparents too. And it means building a brand, an image that people can understand and identify with and latch onto for reasons beyond their awareness.

What makes a fighter appeal to the mainstream? What is it about a boxer that makes your grandmother ask you when he's going to be fighting so-and-so? What gets people to pay half a billion dollars to watch two athletes with a combined age above 70 move around a square and paw at each other? It all comes down to branding, and within boxing there are three major players now looking to establish theirs. ESPN is a huge name in sports, and together with Top Rank is getting into boxing as a new avenue of original live sports content. DAZN meanwhile is attempting to pick up the HBO mantle with a premium subscription service aimed more directly to fight fans, in conjunction with Golden Boy Promotions and Matchroom Boxing. Al Haymon’s PBC is still going strong, with a huge recent deal signed with the FOX network and Fox Sports 1. All three of these boxing factions are relatively newly formed and they all exist because of the vacuum created by HBO’s exit. All three see the potential of boxing as a form of lucrative live content, all three want to attract viewers to their specific network, and all three have entered into tight partnerships with promotional companies to make it happen.

These organizations will have several things in common, but the biggest is that all three will look to build appeal not among the mainstream, but among the middle group of fan support: the casual sports fans who will watch events if they believe those events to be relevant on the sports landscape. This means promoting fighters not because they are especially appealing on their own, but because they are athletes with accomplishments that from a sports perspective should be followed. This is a mutual recognition that in the post Mayweather-Pacquiao era, absolutely nobody has a boxer who can cross over into the mainstream. Instead they have fighters who are good enough to attract an audience of general sports fans who can then be built to the point where someday these fighters are big enough to attract the mainstream.

In the meantime all three major TV networks (ESPN, DAZN, and the PBC) will be looking to build their unique identity as premier destinations to watch elite boxing, and each of them will need to do it by carefully building the boxing stars they have available. In this way the networks’ interests are now much more closely aligned with the promoters they are aligned with, because just as the promoters will want to grow the profile of their boxers to drive the demand of their tickets up, the networks will also want those fighters’ profiles grown to add to the legitimacy of their long-term brand. Unlike HBO, these networks will have a long-term interest in featuring new prospects, even if those prospects aren’t immediately appealing to a mainstream audience. Their fights don’t need to interest your grandmother, as long as they can grab the attention of the average sports fan their advertisers are targeting.

The method these platforms intend to grow are only slightly different. ESPN has a two-tier model where most of their boxing content will be offered on their main cable TV channel, while more prestigious boxing matches are gated behind their ESPN+ premium streaming service, and the biggest of the big sold as a traditional PPV. DAZN’s business model is entirely subscription-based and a monthly fee will make available all of its sports content and boxing matches to subscribers. Al Haymon’s PBC continues its multi-network strategy, spreading fights on the FOX network and the Fox Sports cable channel while continuing the Showtime brand for its biggest events, which at least for now will continue to use a traditional PPV model.

In the short term this will result in a trio of walled gardens that seldom cross-pollinate. Terence Crawford is part of the ESPN brand along with the Top Rank brand, and they pay him his $3.5 million purse floor to keep him on ESPN. If a big fight for Crawford comes up, ESPN will want it on their network and no other. The same goes for Canelo, whose 11-fight $375 million deal with DAZN means his opponents will need to come with him and fight on DAZN. That’s a great situation for fighters like Crawford and Canelo who are getting spotlight treatment by big networks who will pay them handsomely for their help in brand development. It’s less great for us fans boxing fans who are more interested in the individual fighters than the brands of their promoters and networks.

Say you’re Terence Crawford, welterweight champion. You get paid $3.5 million at minimum by ESPN every time you fight. In your division are other great fighters, such as Errol Spence, and if you fight them and beat them you’ll significantly enhance your sports legacy. But Errol Spence fights with the PBC, and they pay him $2 million for every one of his fights. You could fight him on the PBC for a good enough offer, but not without pissing off ESPN, who currently treats you very well. If you do take this risk, you’re fighting on a platform that will give preferential treatment to Spence, so you will be at a competitive disadvantage from the get-go. Top Rank isn’t going to like it that the revenue of your biggest career fight went to another promoter, if they let you do it at all. If you win, then great! You probably picked up a bunch of new fans. But if you didn’t win, you’re no longer worth $3.5 million to ESPN, because you’re a proven loser to a rival network’s better fighter. So to make this risk worth it there has to be a substantial amount of money offered to the point that you are covered for potential lost revenue in future matches.

This will be a problem that affects some fighters more than others, depending on their status in their own division, the level of talent in that division, their current drawing power, and how many years they have left in their careers. For someone like Canelo, the biggest draw by far in a relatively talented division, it will be easy enough to find opponents whose risk in fighting him can be compensated well. For a guy like Crawford, one of several major talents and draws, it will be tougher to secure those unifying fights and draw boxers with rival network deals out of their comfortable positions. At least in the short term he will likely be better off earning $3.5 million a fight against whoever ESPN can get into the ring with him. As he keeps winning, and provided that he continues to build ESPN’s boxing profile, this will eventually change to the point where the risk-reward calculations make big fights far too lucrative to ignore.

At face value this seems like an unfortunate new development for us boxing fans, who watch fighters to see them in the best fights possible, rather than the most financially sensible ones. But in reality this is a continuation of the same hot-and-cold dynamic of boxing, which historically has always relied not on sustained interest in the sport’s professional organizations, but instead on the rising stocks of its individual athletes, whose increasing profiles in turn increase the sport’s profile. In the short term, three competing TV networks will make it harder for big fights to happen. But if those three TV networks each are successful in building their individual brands and an audience for them, interest in boxing will increase in turn, and so will demand for cross-promotional mega-fights between the best. As boxing fans we may have hated watching Mayweather and Pacquiao fight anyone but each other year after year, but the end result was that two competing audiences were built and together amounted to a critical mass that propelled boxing into the mainstream.

In an ideal world the best boxers would fight each other simply for the sake of the sport. But in an ideal world, getting punched in the face would not cause long-term brain damage or pose significant risks of injury. So instead boxers do their best to grow their individual legacies and athletic brands so that they can attract paying fans, promoters do their best to protect and develop the careers of their fighters in ways that can generate the most revenue for everybody, and television networks do their best to secure fighters and fights that work as compelling content to attract viewers to their platforms, in turn increasing the fanbase of fighters and revenue for promoters. We should remember that the athletes who compete in this sport do so at great cost, at great risk, and for our entertainment. None of us are going to look after them when their careers are over.

The Ninth Layer fucked around with this message at 00:34 on Feb 10, 2019


The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Thread Awards for 2018

Fighter of the Year
Oleksandr Usyk

Unifying world titles is no easy task. With four major sanctioning bodies, dozens of competing promotional entities, and hundreds of fighters all competing for ranking and titles, it takes a lot of luck and even more skill to get one belt, let alone hold onto one long enough to gather more. In the modern era of boxing only four boxers have ever accomplished this feat prior to 2018. This year Oleksandr Usyk became the fifth boxer to pull it off, and in doing so set a record for the shortest number of professional fights it took anyone to unify a division. The Ukrainian cruiserweight champ and 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist signed up to compete in the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament which began in 2017 and included fighters possessing all four world title belts. Usyk entered the tournament semifinals at the start of 2018 and by overcoming in tough matches against Mairis Briedis and Murat Gassiev he emerged from the finals in Moscow’s Olympic Stadium as the undisputed cruiserweight champion and winner of the WBSS’ Muhammad Ali trophy. His performance in the finals was particularly impressive; Usyk displayed elite-level boxing talent against Gassiev and won the fight wide, cementing his legacy as one of the best cruiserweights of all time. Usyk’s year wasn’t done, and after signing a long-term deal with Matchroom Boxing he put on a dominating performance against Tony Bellew, stopping the UK fighter in round 10 and sending him into retirement. Perhaps most impressively, he won all three of his fights in 2018 on the road, without any hometown advantages enjoyed by most boxing’s stars. Oleksandr Usyk will have trouble topping such a banner year, but by all accounts he is up for the challenge; he plans to move up to the deeper waters of the heavyweight division, where bigger challenges (and bigger challengers) await. Surely it won’t be long until we see him against the likes of Wilder, Fury, and Joshua.
Honorable Mention(s): This was another great year for Vasyl Lomachenko, who moved up to lightweight (135 lb) and won a world title in a third weight division against Jorge Linares. Lomachenko continued his run of dominance against Jose Pedraza, who was the first fighter in quite some time to take Loma to the distance. Mikey Garcia won a title in his fourth division when he jumped up to jr. welterweight (140 lb) by stopping then-undefeated Sergey Lipinets, before returning to lightweight for a unification match against Robert Easter Jr. Terence Crawford also became a three-weight world champion in his jump to welterweight (147 lb), taking the title Jeff Horn won from Manny Pacquiao and then defending it against Jose Benavidez, stopping both fighters and giving both their first career loss. Anthony Joshua wasn’t in the biggest heavyweight match of the year, but he did pick up another world title against undefeated Joseph Parker, and then took on and defeated top five heavyweight Alexander Povetkin, so he hardly took the year off.

Fight of the Year
Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury

I don’t know if this was the most action-packed fight of the year, or if it had the cleanest punches, or the bloodiest scraps. But nothing else this year has it beat in terms of significance to the sport, the storylines behind the fight, and especially the in-ring moments during the fight. The heavyweight division, having slumbered under the iron grip of the Klitschko brothers who were dominant if not always entertaining, has in recent years awakened under the stewardship of three young and powerful heavyweight athletes. At long last we finally got to see two of those three meet in a fight that lived up to the hype. Dedicated fans of Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder may have been disappointed with the outcome of neither fighter walking away with the lineal championship, but boxing fans around the world had nothing to complain about with this one. After Wilder came on strong in the close early rounds, Fury quickly found a rhythm in the middle of the fight, establishing distance and superior accuracy against Wilder’s powerful but wide shots. But the American challenger was never far off the mark, and in round 9 he found it, sending Fury to the canvas with a left-right combination. Fury held off Wilder’s assault and by the end of round 9 he had recovered, taking control of the fight again as a gassed Wilder looked for a second wind. In round 12 the powerful Bronze Bomber caught Fury with another combination that sent his UK opponent to the ground unconscious, and by all accounts the fight should have been over. But we all know it wasn’t over, and at the end of the round both men were still standing. The fight was awarded a draw, and though the overwhelming sentiment at the time was that Fury should have won even with Wilder’s two knockdowns taken into account, it’s hard to argue that either fighter walked away with a clear case for victory. I’ll have more to say about the twelfth round later, but as for the rest of it, there’s no doubt that this was a heavyweight title fight that lived up to the division’s history of great rivalries between legendary champions that could not be settled with just one fight. Let’s see the rematch, as quickly as these two are ready for it.
Honorable Mention: The WBSS cruiserweight semifinal between Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos was in my opinion the best action fight all year. Gassiev and Dorticos both fought at a very high level, landed thudding and impactful shots, and even if Gassiev was a clear level above his opponent, there’s no denying the back-and-forth action that happened between the two.
Erislandy Lara and Jarrett Hurd had a great scrap that hopefully puts to bed all the talk of Lara as a runner or boring fighter. Hurd took the fight to him and walked away with a well-earned decision, but it was by no means easy for him, and Lara delivered another entertaining performance to extend a career that perhaps has been unfairly overlooked by many fans.
Deontay Wilder’s other fight this year with Luis Ortiz was very entertaining, and for the first time in his career we saw Wilder have some trouble with a tough opponent who was not immediately afraid of his size or punching power.
On top of being a very relevant rematch, Golovkin and Canelo also had a very good second fight in terms of action. I’ll have more on this one later, but once again there was very little separation between these two entertaining middleweight superstars.

Knockout of the Year
Naoya Inoue KO1 Juan Carlos Payano

The cruiserweight division wasn’t the only division with a World Boxing Super Series tournament happening this year. In the bantamweight (118 lb) division another set of fighters were competing this year, among them one of the thread’s favorites in Naoya Inoue, who has made a name for himself by delivering consistently on flashy and often very early knockouts. This was yet another finish to add to his knockout reel. The WBSS quarterfinal match opened somewhat slowly, with both boxers strafing each other and Payano the apparent aggressor. A charge in by the Dominican Payano was mostly ineffective as Inoue smothered his work and continued backing up. As the first minute was coming to a close Inoue, who up until this point had thrown no real punches and had mostly just moved around and feinted, suddenly came forward lunged in with a long jab to the chin of his southpaw opponent, followed rapidly by a crisp straight right hand to the face. The rapid combo sent Payano to the canvas, staring face-up and likely seeing stars. Payano attempted to get up but could only roll over in agony as Inoue celebrated a first round knockout finish that barely took a minute to achieve.
Honorable Mention(s): Derek Chisora’s knockout of Carlos Takam was particularly eye-catching. In the eighth round Chisora unloaded a devastating big right hand to floor Takam, and one more big right hand put him down for good.

Round of the Year
Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury Round 12

The best round of a given year always leaves an impression. The final round of Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder was career-defining. Going into the round Tyson Fury looked set to win a wide decision, having controlled most of the action in the middle rounds and avoided the majority of Wilder’s big power shots. Wilder had rallied in round 9 with a shot that sent Fury to the canvas, but was unable to finish the fight and appeared gassed as Fury took control of the fight again. The start of round 12 looked like this would continue, as Fury came out of the corner and once again was walking Wilder down. But Wilder then came forward with a left hook to the body that caught Fury and sent him stepping back. While Fury recovered from the shot, Wilder seized the moment and came forward with a jab followed by a monster right hook that slammed into the side of Fury’s head and another left hook that hit him flush on his way down. It looked like it was lights out for Tyson Fury, who lay still on his back as the referee counted him out and Wilder celebrated. But miraculously, at the count of six Fury came back to himself, took a big breath of air, and somehow stood himself up to just barely beat the ten count. It was an unbelievable recovery, and even the referee was unsure if Fury could continue, asking him twice if he could and then directing him to walk to the corner to assess him. Fury was ready, and the round continued, with Wilder rushing forward to end the fight with gigantic bombs. Fury clinched and the fighters were broken apart, and Wilder once again came forward with giant shots, only for Fury to tie him up again. As the round came to a close, Fury seemed to have recovered and was once again throwing shots back at Wilder, before retreating from another surge from his opponent before the final bell. Fury survived the round, and the knockdown was enough to secure Wilder the draw, along with plenty of renewed interest for a rematch between the two. Wilder’s explosive knockdown combo was a reminder to us all that a fight is never truly over until it’s over, and Fury’s heroic recovery affirmed that it doesn’t matter if you get knocked down, as long as you can get up afterwards. This is a round that will likely be talked about for years to come.
Honorable Mention: In the closing round to an all-out war, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Juan Francisco Estrada unloaded bombs at each other in the middle of the ring, both attempting to close out what would soon be a majority decision win for SSR.

Best PPV Event
Saul Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin 2

Okay, maybe Fury vs Wilder was the better fight. Perhaps it was even the more relevant one. But this was the fight I was waiting all year for, and for a very long time I did not expect it to happen. If I’m honest, the fight falling through in May was one reason I never bothered to get a 2018 thread update out; it was hard for me to build real enthusiasm about anything happening in the first half of the year when this one fell apart after Canelo tested positive for clenbuterol. The Golden Boy fighter claimed innocence and put the blame on tainted Mexican beef, and was later vindicated by a second blood sample coming back clean, but whether that’s the case or not it delayed what should have been an easy and massive blockbuster rematch, and a bad blood test introduced bad blood between Canelo and Golovkin that perhaps we may have been better off without. Putting all that aside though, this is a rematch that needed to happen, if nothing else than to prove once again that almost nothing separates Canelo and GGG in terms of boxing skill. Canelo fought with far more confidence than in the first match, bringing impressive attacks to the body that kept Golovkin’s power from him, and for his part Golovkin started this fight faster than the first time around. It resulted in yet another extremely competitive, action-packed fight that was contested at the highest level, and we were left with yet another debatable decision. The judges may have awarded Canelo this one, but at least for now it is a win only on paper. Much like the rivalry between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, these two fighters fit together like puzzle pieces, and nothing will be settled until one knocks the other off the board.
Honorable Mention: If it wasn’t Canelo-GGG 2 it’d be Wilder-Fury, without question. But really there weren’t many other PPV events in 2018 to choose from, and at least two of the major US boxing platforms are moving toward subscription based event models rather than one-off PPV events.

Upset of the Year
Josh Warrington SD12 Lee Selby

Titleholders tend to be favorites in boxing, but odds aren’t everything. Welsh featherweight (126 lb) titleholder Lee Selby was a -450 favorite to beat Leeds native and undefeated fighter Josh Warrington in his sixth title defense, and most observers picked Selby’s technical skills and sharp reflexes to overcome the pressuring but not especially powerful style of Warrington. At stake was a fight with Carl Frampton, a match Selby had chased unsuccessfully for some time and was expected to earn if he made it past Warrington. The Leeds challenger entered the arena with a sizable number of the crowd supporting him, and it’s likely their energy fuelled Warrington’s performance. The challenger came out aggressively from the opening bell, and Selby had difficulty finding any sort of early rhythm. In the second round a clash of heads opened up a cut above Selby’s left eye that appeared to unsettle the champion, and as the fight progressed Selby struggled to keep away from the tenacious pressure of Warrington. By the end of the twelfth round it was clear that Warrington had done the cleaner work and fought more effectively, preventing Selby from ever finding the range and distance he needed to avoid getting dragged into a scrap. Warrington walked out of the arena a champion, picking up a split decision win that probably should have been unanimous and pulling off one of the most notable upsets of the year.
Honorable Mention: Another road warrior who pulled off a big upset was Maurice Hooker, who fought jr welterweight (140 lb) titleholder Terry Flanagan in the UK and took his title by split decision, surprising many who thought Flanagan would be able to bully the lankier Hooker to retain his title.

Prospect of the Year
Teofimo Lopez

A recent addition to Top Rank’s stable, twenty-one year old Honduran-American lightweight (135 lb) prospect Teofimo Lopez seems like as safe a bet as the company has ever made. Lopez amassed an impressive amateur record of 170-20, and though his 2016 Olympic attempt did not go very far, it was still enough to turn the heads of Bob Arum’s promotional outfit and get him signed straight out of the event. In his two year pro career, Teofimo has already fought 11 times including four fights in 2018, and has ended all but two of those fights within the distance. Watching his fights makes his natural talent instantly apparent; Lopez is quick, powerful, sharp, and flashy, with fluid footwork and an agile upper body that lets him deliver powerful shots from distance at speeds that leave his opponents unable to react. Above all else Lopez has that intangible special quality in his style that makes him a captivating presence in the ring. At just 21 years old Lopez is still a very young professional fighter with plenty of time to develop, and anything could happen in the near future of his career, but at least for now it looks like the American fighter will have a world title before long.
Honorable Mention: Shakur Stevenson was dubbed by Mayweather himself as “the next Floyd Mayweather,” and in 2018 the powerful southpaw featherweight (126 lb) went 5-0, winning four of those five by knockout. With Andre Ward as his manager and Top Rank as his promoter the 21-year-old New Jersey fighter should be in good hands going forward.

From Zero to Hero: The Comeback Award
Tyson “The Gypsy King” Fury

What a roller coaster this guy’s career has been. After pulling off a significant upset against longtime heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko, Tyson Fury was on top of the world. But it didn’t last long. A series of disastrous interviews followed that had folks calling for Fury to lose his boxing license, and a positive test a few months later earned him a suspension. It appeared the Gypsy King’s career was over. Then Fury and his camp started talking about a comeback in 2017, talk that was met with skepticism among boxing fans. And he pulled it off! Fury fought his way back to a championship fight with Deontay Wilder, was extremely competitive, and even got up from what should have been a lights out punch to finish the fight, in a ten-second moment that very well sums up his comeback run. Fury did not win that match on the judges’ scorecard, but if he had is there any doubt he would be 2018’s Fighter of the Year?
Honorable Mention: I did not know who Josh Warrington was at the start of the year, but it would be hard to ignore his 2018 run. Warrington was a solid underdog in his fights against Lee Selby and Carl Frampton, but rose to the occasion with his tenacious, hard-fighting boxing style and technical skills that surprised many including myself.

From Hero to Zero: Year’s Biggest Fall
Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev

This award was especially difficult to decide upon this year. Personally I feel there weren’t really any obvious falls from grace in 2018, or at least not any that happened entirely this year. So I’m going with a stretch pick in Sergey Kovalev, who three years ago had an aura of invincibility, at least before he fought and lost to Andre Ward in two back-to-back fights that I was not alone in feeling were close and somewhat controversial losses. I believed at the start of 2018 that he was a top fighter, and it was looking to be a good year for him up until he was caught and dropped several times by Eleider Alvarez, suffering his second stoppage loss to the first real opponent he fought since Ward. I don’t know if this loss quite “exposed” Kovalev, as he looked like he was winning the early rounds of the fight, but it certainly exposed the Krusher’s major issues with conditioning and stamina. The Krusher recently avenged his knockout loss to Eleider Alvarez and demonstrated that he can show up prepared to win a patient fight, but in any case Kovalev no longer has that old aura of invincibility, and I’m no longer confident in how he will fare against other top light heavies in the division including Artur Beterbiev, Marcus Browne and Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
Honorable Mention: Guiillermo Rigondeaux would have taken this spot if his match with Lomachenko had come a month later to land in 2018. The once top 5 pound for pound fighter did not fight anyone in 2018 and his next scheduled fight is against a guy with 8 losses whose last five fights in a row were all losses.

Year’s Worst Robbery
Tony Harrison UD12 Jermell Charlo

This year had some pretty high profile bad decisions that fans decried as robberies, including Canelo-GGG 2 and Fury-Wilder. While I agree those decisions were bad, they were nothing compared to this late entry in December. PBC’s first card on Fox featured the Charlo brothers fighting in a double-header, and super welterweight (154 lb) champ Jermell Charlo was first up, defending his WBC title against little-known Tony Harrison in what seemed meant more as a showcase fight to set up a later match with Jarrett Hurd. Jermell certainly fought like a showcase fighter, landing effectively on Harrison and appearing to hurt the other fighter several times. A unanimous decision was the expected outcome. Even the scores announced at 116-112, 115-113, and 115-113 looked appropriate. But after a delay that lasted a second or two longer than usual, the entire building and fans around the world were unpleasantly surprised when a NEW champion of the world was announced. Somehow all three cards had been awarded to Harrison, who according to Charlo had even congratulated him for winning before the decision. This decision was honestly incomprehensible from any standpoint, and it was the rare judging robbery that actually went against the undefeated hometown fighter and champion, marring Charlo’s record forever with an unearned loss. Tony Harrison may have been the only person in the world who was happy about this outcome.

The Floyd Mayweather Finest Cherries In The Basket Award
Floyd “Money” Mayweather

I never really thought Floyd Mayweather was retiring for good. For that matter I’m not sure I would want him to. Even into his 40s, Floyd still commands a star presence unmatched by anyone else in any combat sport and his very name draws more mainstream interesting to boxing than pretty much every other boxer combined. This didn’t happen by accident; Floyd’s risk-averse sensibilities extend beyond his in-ring technical style and into the very way he markets himself and chooses his opponents. In the past Mayweather has been accused of “cherry picking” opponents with not much of a shot at beating him, or creating terms that provided him unfair advantages against otherwise competitive opponents. I think some of that criticism is overblown and in my estimation Floyd’s list of opponents are better than he usually gets credit for, but he’s also undeniably picked some ripe cherries for his basket, most notably Conor McGregor who had never fought a professional boxing match before. And even though it was just a “exhibition,” the cherry Mayweather picked last year was especially ripe. Flying to Japan for a three round match that all agreed would not count for or against his undefeated record, Mayweather fought undefeated kickboxing star Tenshin Nasukawa for a reported nine million dollars and what amounted to not even a full round of action. With over twenty pounds of weight over the outmatched non-boxer, Mayweather’s only challenge this fight was in preventing himself from ending it too early. But this was apparently too much to ask of the 41-year old legend, who toyed with his outmatched opponent right up until the moment he was actually caught by a shot, at which point he thrashed his opponent out with ease and put on a beating that left Tenshin crying in his corner afterward.

The Mike Jones “Who?” Inactivity Award
Keith Thurman

All professional boxers have but a short number of years in their physical prime to build their legacies and standing in the sport. So it is mystifying to see Keith Thurman squander several of his with huge periods of inactivity. Thurman has fought only six times in the last five years, an abysmal activity rate for any fighter. A troubling injury kept Thurman out of the ring in the back half of 2017, after perhaps his best career win against Danny Garcia, and it was announced that he would spend the rest of that year recovering. I was actually a little shocked to discover that this period of activity extended all the way through to 2018, which did not see Thurman so much as announce an opponent he was fighting, let alone return to the ring. One Time did finally get back in action this January against Josecito Lopez, ending a nearly two year period of ring activity, but it remains disappointing to see such a talented fighter in one of the sport’s best divisions stand on the sidelines of competition for so long.

Biggest Boxing Business Blunder
Anthony Joshua

Bwuh? How can the heavyweight champion of the world make a business blunder? The extremely lucrative UK heavyweight is one of the sport’s biggest stars, has an undeniable load of talent, and owns a license to print money simply by virtue of possessing a heavyweight title. Surely no one can knock Joshua for taking on Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin, both highly ranked heavyweight fighters with only one loss between them. But something happened this year: an exciting heavyweight rivalry developed, and Anthony Joshua was not a part of it. Joshua could have gotten a piece of either Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder if he truly wanted to fight them, but instead negotiations with both fighters never really took off, and the two instead sidelined Joshua by fighting each other in a huge fight that now practically demands a rematch to settle. AJ is still seen by many as the heavyweight champion, but that may not matter if he’s frozen out of the biggest fights in the division, and I doubt he will have the same negotiating power he had in 2018 in dealing with the winner of a prospective Fury-Wilder rematch.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Upcoming Big Fights (and prospective fights)

Errol Spence Jr. vs Mikey Garcia - IBF welterweight (147 lb) title fight
March 16th on FOX PPV
By all rational consideration Mikey Garcia is in over his head here. Giving up three inches of reach and height to Errol Spence, the Oxnard challenger is jumping up two weight classes for a very hasty shot at what will easily be the biggest fight in his career. But fighters aren’t rational, and if anyone believes that top 5 pound-for-pound Garcia can overcome this size advantage surely Mikey himself believes it. Errol Spence is a natural welterweight and quite the well-rounded one, boasting speed, power, and technical skill in a package that could easily put him in pound-for-pound discussions sooner than later. Garcia will not only need to match him in those categories despite being the smaller fighter, but will likely need to exceed Spence in some of them to win this one. I don’t see Garcia knocking Spence out and I doubt he can win this fight on the outside, but I also think he will struggle to adjust his counterpunching style toward a more aggressive inside fight plan. I’m not sure what the path to victory for Mikey is here, so hopefully he has a better idea of it than I do.

Terence Crawford vs Amir Khan - WBO welterweight (147 lb) title fight
April 20th on ESPN PPV
This will only be Terence Crawford’s third fight in the welterweight (147 lb) division, so perhaps we shouldn’t judge him too harshly for his choice in opponent here. Amir Khan remains among the biggest names in the sport, even if his career accomplishments haven’t kept up. Khan is fast and technically gifted, and may have been one of his generation’s greatest fighters if not for his temperament and chin, the former leading him to faults in discipline that then expose the latter. If only Khan could avoid the shots of his opponents for twelve rounds, he would likely have no issue winning decisions. But he’ll have trouble avoiding those of Crawford, who is also very fast and accurate to boot, capable of throwing hard shots from both boxing stances. Bud is also one of the best finishers in the sport; once he finds an opening and catches his opponent, it’s short work for him to seal the deal. This bodes poorly for Khan, whose glass chin was never sturdy even before Canelo found it cleanly in 2017.

Saul Alvarez vs Danny Jacobs - WBA, WBC & IBF middleweight (160 lb) title unification
Saturday, May 4th on DAZN
Some years ago Danny Jacobs was Golden Boy’s Golden Boy, viewed as one of the sport’s most promising talents before Dmitry Pirog put a stop to his momentum, both in and out of the ring. Jacobs subsequently entered into a bout with cancer that he would ultimately survive, but in the meantime a new Golden Boy was developing in Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who over the past decade has become one of boxing’s biggest all-time superstars. Last year Alvarez signed the biggest long-term sports contract in history with emerging platform DAZN, and now the platform looks to get their money’s worth. Danny “The Miracle Man” Jacobs survived his battle against cancer and has since reemerged as one of the best middleweights in the world, taking Golovkin twelve rounds to end GGG’s knockout streak, and he will by no means be an easy fight for Canelo. He’s a skilled fighter from the outside and possesses plenty of knockout power, making him a dangerous test for Canelo so early in his multi-fight DAZN deal. The stakes for Jacobs are high and if he wins he will likely have his pick of lucrative rematches between Canelo and GGG, but he’s overcome worse odds before.

Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao 2 - welterweight (147 lb)
If Manny wins his fight against Broner, I would put money on this match happening. Pacquiao is now under the Al Haymon stable and Al has a great working relationship with Mayweather, so there are no massive business obstacles to overcome this time around, and all the revenue can be kept in-house. Both fighters are four years older and we likely won’t see any more action than the first fight delivered on. The relevance this matchup would have for the sport is questionable. But does all that really matter? Even if the general audience is indifferent about this rematch, the boxing media will eat it up and gamblers will clamor to buy tickets for it. If nobody buys this PPV this fight will still do at least $50 million in Vegas ticket sales, and we all know more people than zero are buying the PPV. Beyond that, having both fighters under one promotional umbrella means we may actually see some proper promotion this time, rather than the autopilot buildup of their 2015 meeting. Perhaps I’m wrong and there’s no real demand or excitement for this rematch, but I really don’t think so. I know I want to see it, and I’ll bet you do too, even if you won’t like to admit it.

Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury 2 - WBC heavyweight (201+ lb) title fight
This is a rematch that needs to happen and it should be an easy move from a business perspective. The only two questions are where and when. The first fight was held in Staples Center, a venue that arguably favored the American fighter in Wilder, even if Los Angeles isn’t much of a home city for the Alabama native. A rematch would be expected to do huge business off the back of the buzz generated by their first fight, and certainly other venues would make more sense from a business perspective, but whether the rematch lands in Vegas or somewhere in the UK will be a matter of contention between the two camps. Then there are considerations of when the fighters want this match to happen. Wilder in particular is in a stronger negotiating position by virtue of retaining his titles, and will be entertaining competing offers from Anthony Joshua who probably regrets not sealing the deal with Wilder back in 2018. Fans might prefer to see this rematch happen sooner than later, but it’s ultimately up to the fighters. As of writing this post, promoter Eddie Hearn has expressed that he is prepared to offer a 60/40 split in favor of Wilder for a DAZN rematch, and for its part the WBC has ordered an immediate rematch of the fight. So we’ll see.

The Ninth Layer fucked around with this message at 03:32 on Feb 4, 2019

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Champions and Titleholders In Boxing
The following list comprises all current lineal champions, as recognized by Ring Magazine:

Strawweight (105 lb: Vacant
Junior flyweight (108 lb): Hiroto Kyoguchi (JPN) as of December 31, 2018
Flyweight (112 lb): Vacant
Junior bantamweight (115 lb): Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (THA) as of February 24, 2018
Bantamweight (118 lb): Vacant
Junior Featherweight (122 lb): Vacant
Featherweight (126 lb): Vacant
Junior Lightweight (130 lb): Vacant
Lightweight (135 lb): Vasyl Lomachenko (UKR) as of May 12, 2018
Junior Welterweight (140 lb): Vacant
Welterweight (147 lb): Vacant
Junior Middleweight (154 lb): Vacant
Middleweight (160 lb): Saúl Álvarez (MEX) as of September 15, 2018
Super middleweight (168 lb): Callum Smith (UK) as of September 28, 2018
Light Heavyweight (175 lb): Vacant
Cruiserweight (200 lb): Oleksandr Usyk (UKR) as of July 21, 2018
Heavyweight (201+ lb): Vacant

As you can see, there aren’t a lot of current champions right now, according to The Ring. There are some fighters with arguments to lineal championships that aren’t recognized currently by The Ring, such as Adonis Stevenson in the light heavyweight division, or Guillermo Rigondeaux in the junior featherweight / super bantamweight division. In general though, if a division is missing a champion here, it’s because there is some dispute about who the best fighter in the division really is.

If there are so few champions in the sport, why do so many fighters call themselves world champions? In the sport of boxing there are four competitive sanctioning bodies, or entities that provide a recognized world title and ranking for every division. Fighters need to pay fees to compete for these titles, but once they have won they become a “world champion” of the WBC or whatever other organization they won. These fighters should be thought of as titleholders; they hold a small claim on a prize in the division, if not necessarily the authority to call themselves the de-facto best in their weight class.

A lineal champion, on the other hand, is a fighter who either made it to the top of his division and then beat the consensus best contender, or who fought and beat the previous lineal champion. It’s “the man who beat the man” who can call himself the champion of a division. When a lineal champion retires or vacates their division, the title becomes up for grabs and it’s up to the two consensus best (or perhaps the first and third best) to fight each other for the title.

Boxing’s Pound-For-Pound Best
Updated 2-03-2019

In boxing, the concept of “pound for pound” rankings stems from the natural desire to compare the talents and accomplishments of fighters who compete in radically different weight divisions and would otherwise never have an opportunity to fight each other. A pound-for-pound comparison of fighters takes size out of the picture. Vasyl Lomachenko will never be big enough to challenge Anthony Joshua, but pound-for-pound many fans feel he is currently the better fighter.

What makes a boxer considered among the top pound-for-pound? Accomplishment, skills, and style. Boxers in any pound-for-pound discussion should be competitive against all other fighters in their division, and a serious threat to fighters in neighboring divisions. These fighters have often dominated one or more weight divisions before arriving at their current weight. Top p4p fighters are those who have beaten tough competition and looked great doing it. In this sport it is a very rare and exciting event when two boxers ranked among the top 10 pound for pound actually get in the ring with each other.

The following list represents my opinion of the top twenty best active fighters in boxing. In making my rankings I’ve tried to arrange fighters first on their legacy or record of tangible accomplishments in the ring, then on their boxing skill or apparent ability to execute a winning fight plan, and lastly on their style or excitement factor. Please keep in mind that I’m not the most hardcore of fans and often miss out on fights between foreign fighters in lower weight classes. I’m sure there are plenty of quality fighters with great careers that I’ve omitted.

20. Jarrett “Swift” Hurd (23-0, 16 KO) - \BF & WBA super welterweight (154 lb) titleholder
By the time you get down to #20 on any ranking list the criteria gets pretty subjective. This time around Jarrett Hurd just barely made the cut, and I think it’s fairly well-earned. The super welterweight (154 lb) WBA and IBF titleholder just finished a strong showing in 2018 including a tough action fight against Erislandy Lara that was stands as one of the year’s best and most brutal showdowns. The aggressive and gritty Hurd also boasts wins over Austin Trout, Jo Jo Dan, Tony Harrison and most recently Jason Welborn by knockout. Hurd fights with a scrapper’s style and unceasing pressure, and so far nobody has figured out how to slow him down. It may take Jermell Charlo to stop his undefeated run through this weight class, but that may have to wait, as one of Hurd’s former opponents Tony Harrison recently “upset” Charlo and will probably demand a rematch with one of the two.
Next Opponent: None yet. Hurd’s last fight was on December 1st so he should be announcing soon. Recently he expressed his desire to fight Julian Williams in the spring.

19. Jermall “Hitman” Charlo (28-0, 21 KO) - middleweight (160 lb)
The “bigger” of the two Charlo brothers and now the lone undefeated one, Jermall Charlo competes at the middleweight (160 lb) division and stands just outside the championship level. Charlo’s boxing style is solid if not special, and the technically sound fighter boasts an ample set of power and technique that make him dangerous at the midrange. He’s also steadily amassed a record worth taking note of, boasting wins over Cornelius Bundrage, Austin Trout, Julian “J-Rock” Williams, and most recently Matt Korobov. Charlo may not have the charisma or talent to establish himself as a true boxing star, especially in the middleweight division where Canelo and GGG are clashing, but he’s nevertheless got a respectable following and could easily pull off an upset if he ever gets a shot at GGG, Canelo or Jacobs.
Next Opponent: None yet. Charlo just fought in December and it may be some time before an opponent is ready for him. Perhaps the only significant opponents out there for him are GGG, who is currently a free agent, and Billy Joe Saunders who does not currently have a fight signed.

18. Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KO) - WBO light heavyweight (175 lb) titleholder
Being late with the thread gives me the ability to be current with my opinions, so Sergey Kovalev winning over Eleider Alvarez got him back in this spot. I think there will always be some doubt about the Krusher’s durability going forward, but at least in the rematch Kovalev showed how to follow a game plan through twelve rounds.The long, powerful light heavyweight (175 lb) is dangerous from afar, and has a methodical bullying style that has let him finish off plenty of opponents in the past. The Andre Ward fights showed that Kovalev is weak to body attacks, and the first Eleider Alvarez fight raised plenty of questions about where his punch resistance stands these days. But at least right now Kovalev seems to have some plenty of life left in him.
Next Opponent: None yet. After the Eleider Alvarez rematch Kovalev said he would like a title unification fight with Artur Beterbiev, so we’ll see if that fight gets made.

17. Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs (35-2, 29 KO) - IBF middleweight (160 lb) titleholder
Danny Jacobs may be only the third best middleweight in the world, but when the top two are Golovkin and Canelo that’s not much of a knock. Jacobs was the only opponent besides Canelo to take GGG the distance in recent years, and it was a close and competitive fight to boot with only a few rounds separating Jacobs from winning the fight on the judges’ scorecards. Like Golovkin, Jacobs is one of the hardest-hitting fighters in the sport and boasts an 81% knockout win percentage, which he demonstrated to great effect in a first round knockout of Peter Quillin back in 2015. Power isn’t all Jacobs possesses; he also has ample hand speed and a fundamentally solid boxing technique, making him a very complete boxer who is capable of fighting at multiple distances and adjusting to the style of his opponent. Despite some notable career setbacks including a 5th round stoppage loss to Dmitry Pirog in 2010 and a very notable battle against bone cancer, Jacobs is still among the elites of the sport and remains a danger to anyone he fights.
Next Opponent: Canelo Alvarez on May 4th. Jacobs will surely come into this fight as the underdog in what will easily be the biggest fight of his career, so we’ll have to see how he handles this high profile match against one of boxing’s biggest stars.

16. Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-0-1, 22 KO) 0 WBA welterweight (147 lb) titleholder
In a very talented welterweight (147 lb) division Keith “One Time” Thurman may potentially be the most talented active fighter of them all… or he may not. It’s been difficult to tell, what with his general lack of activity in recent years, and if anything his shaky return against Josecito Lopez may have raised more questions than it answered. Thurman gained the attention of fans with impressive and devastating knockouts over Diego Chaves, Jesus Soto Karass and Julio Diaz, but has lost a lot of his knockout artist reputation in fights with Robert Guerrero, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, which saw Thurman on the back foot more often than not. This change in style has kept Thurman undefeated and it’s hard to fault the American fighter for doing what works, even if it has clashed with his earlier career marketing, but in combination with his infrequent activity, it feels like Thurman’s career momentum has stalled out while others like Errol Spence and Terence Crawford have filled in the gap. But the simple fact is that the top dog at welterweight is far from decided, and at thirty years old Thurman not only has one of the strongest cases for consideration of the #1 spot but also plenty of time to improve his standing, provided he can stay busy and capitalize on his best years as an athlete.
Next Opponent: None yet. Thurman just survived Josecito Lopez and post-fight called out Manny Pacquiao, who may actually be open to fighting him now. Whoever Keith Thurman fights, let’s hope it’s soon, as inactivity doesn’t seem to have benefited him at all.

15. Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KO) - welterweight
In the year 2019 it is almost incredible to think that Manny Pacquiao is not only still fighting, but arguably still among the best in the world. Where he stands exactly among the pound-for-pound rankings is another story, and depending on who you ask he falls within the top ten, or else outside the top 20. In Pacquiao’s own welterweight (147 lb) division there are several fighters who would be decided favorites against him, such as Spence, Crawford, and perhaps Thurman, Porter and Khan. But even if 2019 Pacquiao is a decade removed from the Manny that destroyed Cotto, he still possesses more than enough speed, power, and skill to where he cannot be easily counted out of any of those matches. He’s also still a massive star and remains one of the few boxers in the sport who have crossed over to the mainstream. Now that Manny fights with PBC and Al Haymon, there are several compelling matches available to him, and he’ll likely have his pick of the litter. But we all know there’s only one fighter Pacquiao has his sights set on. We’ll see what it takes for him to draw that fighter out of retirement for what will undoubtedly be another massive event for the sport.
Next Oppnent: None yet. Manny just took out Adrien Broner in a fight that may have revealed more about how bad Broner these days than how good the Pac-Man is. We all know Pacquiao wants Floyd next for the biggest payday, but Keith Thurman may also be a likely opponent for him.

14. Anthony “AJ” Joshua (22-0, 21 KO) - IBF, WBA & WBO heavyweight (201+ lb) titleholder
It’s hard to rank heavyweights (201+ lb) among the pound-for-pound due to the division fighters’ lack of competition in other weight classes, but in the case of Anthony Joshua we’ve already seen enough to judge him among the sport’s best in the world. The incredibly athletic 29-year-old heavyweight challenger and 2012 Olympic gold medalist has gone the distance only once in his professional career. On top of the punching power expected of all heavyweights, AJ also boasts speed and movement rarely seen among the sport’s biggest fighters, earning him inevitable comparisons to boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Whether those comparisons are premature is almost besides the point; Joshua’s stoppage win of Wladimir Klitschko alone will be enough to secure some place in history, if not one among The Greatest and the rest of the heavyweight pantheon. To do that Joshua will at the very least need to address rival claims to division championship by lineal champ Tyson Fury and fellow beltholder Deontay Wilder, and if his chances in those matchups look good, they are far from certain. Let’s hope to get at least one of those big fights in 2019.
Next Opponent: Jarrell Miller in June. This fight isn’t a done deal from what I’ve read, but it’s pretty close to one. Jarrell Miller is known as “Big Baby” and routinely weighs in at 300+ pounds. He’s also only got one draw to his name so maybe he’ll give AJ a decent challenge at least.

13. Oscar Valdez (25-0, 20 KO) - WBO featherweight (126 lb) titleholder
There is a well known “Mexican style” of boxing which could more accurately be described as brawling. Oscar Valdez is the latest in the country’s long line of come-forward fearless action fighters, and his incarnation of the style is fierce indeed. Valdez has won almost 80% of his fights by knockout, battering his opponents with relentless activity and powerful combination punching on the inside and leaving them with nowhere to go and no room to recover. Naturally, this has put Valdez in the center of ferocious wars with the likes of Miguel Marriaga, Genesis Servania, and most recently Scott Quigg in one of the most punishing action fights of 2018. Valdez’ jaw was busted in that fight and we may see the featherweight (126 lb) titleholder take some light touches before he gets in with the other top featherweights in Warrington, Santa Cruz and Russell. When he does, there should be no doubt that he will pose a tough, dangerous challenge for any of them.
Next Opponent: None yet. Valdez just stopped Carmine Tommasone to defend his title, scoring five knockdowns on his way to stopping the fight in 7. Top Rank is floating the idea of Josh Warrington for a future opponent to set up a title unification.

12. Naoya “The Monster” Inoue (17-0, 15 KO) - WBA bantamweight (118 lb) titleholder
Naoya Inuoue probably deserves to be ranked higher, but I just don’t know enough about him. He comes up at the end of every year when people discuss their favorite knockouts of the year before, and has won all but two of his 17 professional matches by knockout. At only 25 years old he has already won world titles in three weight classes and currently holds the WBA bantamweight (118 lb) title. From what brief footage I’ve seen, he is incredibly fast and powerful, with quick reflexes that let him exploit openings when he sees them. Inoue signed up for the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament last year, and has already cleared the tournament quarterfinals, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing him in tougher, higher-profile fights going forward. As one of the youngest fighters on this list it’s also likely we will see him move up to bigger weight classes someday, which would also increase his visibility on the world stage and especially in the US.
Next Opponent: Emmanuel Rodriguez on a date to be determined. Rodriguez is the current IBF bantamweight champion and also undefeated, and appears to have been fairly well-regarded as a Puerto Rican amateur fighter, so perhaps he’ll give Inoue more than a minute’s worth of work in the WBSS semifinal.

11. Leo “El Teremoto” Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KO) - WBA featherweight (126 lb) titleholder
It seemed like Leo Santa Cruz was on top of the world after winning his rematch with Carl Frampton, but 2018 turned out to be a somewhat quiet year for the Mexican fighter who only fought once in an action-packed fight against Abner Mares. Outside of the ring, the featherweight (126 lb) champion can be somewhat soft-spoken, and as a fighter in the lower weight classes it’s tougher for him to attract the same degree of public support, so maybe it’s on me for not taking more notice. Regardless there is no doubt that “El Teremoto” remains a uniquely difficult fighter for anyone to take on. Santa Cruz is one of the busiest punchers in all of boxing, routinely throwing more than 500 punches per fight and over 1000 against Mares in their 2018 rematch. His high energy style makes him an effective pressure fighter, but unlike most notable pressure fighters Santa Cruz is also very technically skilled and can make great use of distance to generate his offense. At only thirty years old Santa Cruz has a lot of career left, but already he has secured his legacy as an entertaining fighter who delivers action every time he steps into the ring.
Next Opponent: Miguel Flores on February 16th. This is a big step up for Flores, whose lost two of his last three fights by stoppage. Should be easy work for Leo who will likely want a bigger fight with Gary Russell Jr. down the road.

10. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41 KO) - WBC and lineal super flyweight (115 lb) world champion
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai was a complete unknown when he faced off in 2017 against Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, who at the time was considered one of if not the best pound for pound fighters in the world. A game SSR put Gonzalez down with an early body shot and remained competitive the rest of the way, ultimately winning a controversial decision that many felt was unearned. That controversy was put to bed in a rematch along with Roman Gonzalez, who was overwhelmed by Sor Rungvisai’s power and was knocked unconscious in the fourth round. Since then, the Thai super flyweight (115 lb) Sor Rungvisai has maintained his winning streak and is the current lineal champion at that weight. SSR is primarily known for his swarming, aggressive style that keeps him all over his opponents with power shots. This approach is markedly high-energy even for the lower weight classes. It’ll take a very talented, very quick fighter to beat SSR to the punch over 12 rounds.
Next Opponent: None yet. SSR just signed with Matchroom Boxing and will likely get some kind of fight announced soon.

9. Errol “The Truth” Spence (24-0, 21 KO) - IBF welterweight (147 lb) titleholder
Welterweight (147 lb) has in recent years been the most talent-heavy division with some of the stiffest competition anywhere in the sport, and indeed one of the most prestigious. Now that Floyd Mayweather is more or less out of the sport, there is a vacancy in the division’s top spot that no one can yet claim to fill, and by all accounts it’s a two horse race. Terence Crawford may have the edge in career accomplishments, but Errol Spence Jr. could have him beat in terms of potential at the weight. Spence is a natural welterweight with skills. He’s fast, powerful, sturdy, and accurate; he may even be special. But is he proven? Wins over Chris Algieri, Kell Brook, and Lamont Peterson would be good wins for anybody, but so far they’re just the best of the rest. There’s still a lot of talent for Spence to face, including Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, and Tererence Crawford, and that’s if he gets past Mikey Garcia who even if outsized will still be his most challenging foe to date. If he can get past a few of those fighters without breaking his winning streak there’s no doubt we’ll be talking about Spence among the sport’s top pound for pound.
Next Opponent: Mikey Garcia on March 16th. Errol Spence is the bigger guy both in reach and in weight; Mikey Garcia is moving up at two weight classes from his previous match at lightweight. That doesn’t mean it’ll be a walkover as Mikey’s no slouch of an opponent.

8. Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KO) - WBC heavyweight (201+ lb) titleholder
Deontay Wilder was one of the first boxers I saw on live TV, very early in his career on ESPN Friday Night Fights. The Bronze Bomber, nicknamed after the bronze Olympic medal he won in 2008, was already viewed as a dangerously powerful if unrefined knockout artist. A decade later, Wilder is now a world heavyweight titleholder, still incredibly dangerous, and perhaps a touch more refined than in those early Friday Night Fights. Wilder has that most prized of physical heavyweight attributes: true one punch knockout power. What he lacks in defense or conventional punching technique is more than made up by that power. It is fight-altering, it was the difference between drawing with Tyson Fury and losing his titles. Ironically Wilder’s power may be his greatest weakness as well as his greatest strength, as he has never really needed to develop his boxing technique to win fights until very recently. As an incredibly gifted athlete taking on the top talent of the division, I suspect Wilder will improve quickly as he rises to the level of his current competition.

7. Oleksandr Usyk (16-0, 12 KO) - WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF and lineal cruiserweight (200 lb) world champion
The cruiserweight (200 lb) division has always stood in the shadows cast by the bright lights of the heavyweight (201+ lb) division, and historically fighters who have been big enough to compete in the latter division will not bother with the former. But that is not to say the cruiserweight division is devoid of talent, as the World Boxing Super Series showed in general, and Oleksandr Usyk proved in particular. Just the constraint of having to cut weight puts an athletic requirement on cruiserweights that is often absent from many heavyweight contenders who get by on size or punching power alone. Usyk instead gets by with a powerful jab, excellent movement and technical skill rarely seen in the bigger division, and unmatched in his own. But now that the dust of the WBSS tourney has settled, what else is left for Usyk but to move up in weight? Usyk competed at heavyweight in the amateurs and even won an Olympic gold medal in that division, but at 6’3” he will be quite a bit smaller than all three of Wilder, Joshua and Fury, and all three of those fighters have considerable boxing talent of their own. Usyk’s toughest fights are likely ahead of him, and it remains to be seen whether he can stand against the absolute biggest in the sport.
Next Opponent: None yet. Last I heard Usyk is set to fight either May 18th or 25th against “one of the big names in the United States” at heavyweight. Expect Usyk to take on one or two of the B-tier heavyweights like Povetkin, Chisora, and Parker this year as he gears up for a 2020 heavyweight title challenge.

6. Tyson “The Gypsy King” Fury (27-0-1, 20 KO) - heavyweight (200+ lb)
There may never truly be a time where Tyson Fury is regarded as a safe bet; his open remarks about his mental health issues and his documented history of substance abuse mean there will always be some uncertainty about his next in-ring performance. That may prove to be an asset for Fury, another level of drama and excitement that could make him a very compelling heavyweight champion, if he ever manages to win back some belts. His performance against Deontay Wilder wasn’t enough to accomplish that according to the judges, but in my estimation Tyson Fury won their fight and remains the lineal division champ at least until someone beats him. If the Gypsy King’s three year absence from the sport did any damage to his boxing skill, it was by no means permanent. The Fury who showed up against Wilder was as skilled and sharp as he has ever looked, using his range to keep to the outside and (mostly) avoid the big shots coming at him. It wasn’t a flawless performance, but that just means the UK heavyweight still has room for improvement.
Next Opponent: Probably Deontay Wilder on May 18th. From what I understand a rematch is either a done deal or very close to being one.

5. Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia (39-0, 30 KO) - WBC lightweight (135 lb) titleholder & lineal jr welterweight (140 lb) world champion
When Mikey Garcia announced he was moving up from lightweight (135 lb) to welterweight (147 lb) to take on Errol Spence, a lot of people including myself were baffled. Why would such a talented fighter like Mikey take such a big risk, putting himself in an untested weight class against a far bigger opponent? After thinking about it, I don’t think it’s that much of a mystery. Promotional issues have kept the California fighter from ever realizing the potential that his natural talent and boxing family pedigree made obvious, and Garcia’s star performances have at least so far not translated to stardom, or even a real signature fight for him to hang his legacy upon. Like all great fighters Mikey hungers for recognition, and the opportunities to earn any have so far eluded him. From that perspective a match with Errol Spence makes perfect sense. Garcia enters the fight disadvantaged, but with great risks come great rewards, and by all indicators he seems to believe he can win this fight. As fans we may have wanted to see him square up against Lomachenko first, in what would have been a supreme exhibition of technique and talent, but nobody can accuse Mikey of taking an easier course in fighting Spence instead.
Next Opponent: Errol Spence on March 16th. This is a huge fight for Mikey in many ways, and he’ll likely be considered an underdog, to a degree that may vary wildly among observers. Win or lose, we can expect Mikey to continue competing against other Al Haymon fighters at welterweight.

4. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (51-1-2, 35 KO) - WBA, WBC and lineal middleweight (160 lb) world champion
It may be unfair for me to rank Saul Alvarez behind the fighter he won against this year, but I’m not ESPN and I don’t have to respect official wins in my consideration. In my estimation Canelo lost both fights to GGG five rounds to seven, and I stand by that in my rankings here. But does it really matter which fighter you put ahead? The difference between the two is as paper-thin as Canelo’s paper win, and after twenty-four rounds of action who still can deny that the Mexican superstar deserves consideration among the sport’s elites? This is not the same fighter who was dazzled and dominated by Floyd Mayweather over five years ago. Canelo’s style has developed and matured with each subsequent fight, incorporating head and upper body movement that he simply did not appear capable of earlier in his career. He was always a blistering offensive boxer; against Golovkin he proved he can also be surprisingly elusive. Saul Alvarez has already accomplished more in his career than most boxers could ever hope for… and he’s only twenty eight years old, in his physical prime, and with potentially another decade of fights ahead of him. It will soon be a question of when people will begin comparing him to other all-time-greats, not if they will.
Next Opponent: Daniel Jacobs on May 4th. While it’s not the third Golovkin fight many fans are clamoring for, this is still a very difficult fight for Canelo. Jacobs has a ton of punching power himself and will likely be more elusive than GGG was, meaning Canelo will likely have to be more aggressive in turn to win.

3. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KO) - middleweight (160 lb)
Speaking of fighters who will be debated among the all-time-greats, Gennady Golovkin will unquestionably go down in history as one of the middleweight (160 lb) division’s greatest boogeymen. If only he had come to the wider attention of the public sooner. Golovkin built his name organically by doing what every boxer strives to do: win by knockout, over and over. And while his twenty-one fight knockout streak finally halted in 2017, it took two of middleweight’s best recent talents to survive his onslaught. All smiles outside of the ring, “GGG” is a monster in it, and perhaps the scariest element of his aggressive fighting style is that he seems to genuinely enjoy putting the hurt on his foes. Or maybe he just likes punching things really hard. It’s sometimes difficult to tell with the usually friendly Golovkin. At thirty-six years old and coming off three close fights that all went the distance, it seems Golovkin no longer has the same menacing aura that carried him Tyson-like through earlier fights and had his opponents fearful before even the first bell. But his story is not over, and a third fight with Canelo Alvarez hangs over him like a storm cloud of unfinished business. How that storm breaks may very well determine where Golovkin’s legacy falls among the the hallowed halls of boxing greatness.
Next Opponent: None yet. Golovkin has reportedly been negotiating with all three of the big players in boxing: Top Rank, PBC, and DAZN. Where he goes next is uncertain, but it seems for now that DAZN has the best platform to continue his career, especially if he wants to secure a third Canelo fight.

2. Terence “Bud” Crawford (34-0, 25 KO) - WBO welterweight (147 lb) titleholder
Whether Terence Crawford is the best pound-for-pound or the second-best depends largely on what month it is, and which of him or Lomachenko has fought most recently. Crawford’s rating in his current division is far less settled. The ambidextrous Crawford showed off his switch-hitting style to great effect in the lightweight (135 lb) and jr. welterweight (140 lb) divisions, becoming the lineal champ of both divisions and unifying the latter to become the fourth ever boxer to unify all four world title organization belts in a weight class. But neither of those divisions have been as hotly contested as the welterweight (147 lb) division, which hosts at least four other fighters who made this top 20 list (and that’s if you don’t count Floyd Mayweather as an active boxer). Bud’s speed and technique remain spectacular, but size counts for a lot in boxing, and we can only wonder how size will come into play if Crawford ever steps into the ring against Errol Spence or even Shawn Porter. I think it’ll take a special fighter to beat Bud, and probably one outside of the Top Rank stable, but there’s no shortage of potential fighters at welterweight and it’ll only be a matter of time until Crawford must fight one of them.
Next Opponent: Amir Khan on April 20th. On paper this shouldn’t be too difficult for Crawford, but it’s possible fans are sleeping on Amir Khan, who is some years removed from a good win yet still possesses lots of talent and plenty of speed that could get Khan ahead on cards against the somewhat slow-starting Crawford.

1. Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KO) - WBA, WBO and lineal lightweight (135 lb) world champion
The fighter whose nickname is “Hi-Tech” might better be called “The Matrix;” like Floyd Mayweather before him, Loma’s reflexes can only be appreciated properly in slow motion. Or perhaps you can call him by the more recently earned nickname of “No-Mas-Chenko,” earned for how he has caused several of his recent moments to recreate Roberto Duran’s famous moment and quit on the stool. Loma’s paying customers were likely pleased to see the fighter finally go the distance against a game opponent in Jose Pedraza for a change, but don’t mistake that for Lomachenko finding any serious competition. The Ukrainian amateur legend’s non-stop activity, fluid footwork, split-second reflexes and eagle-eye accuracy come together for an overwhelming boxing skill-set that few opponents can survive, let alone match in any meaningful sense. Lomachenko isn’t the first great fighter to run short of great competition in his professional career, and like Mayweather, it’s possible he will find his best opponents far above his natural weight class. Unlike Mayweather, the jump from lightweight to the welterweight division may very well be a bridge too far, but if Vasyl Lomachenko ever makes there he’ll find opponents aplenty to cement his legacy as not just an amateur legend but a professional one too.
Next Opponent: Was supposed to be Richard Commey for April 12th, but after Commey hurt his hand in his Feb 2nd fight this may be a hard date to pull off. If the fight does happen it'll be another unification for Lomachenko who looks for his third title at lightweight.

The Ninth Layer fucked around with this message at 03:47 on Feb 4, 2019

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Links and Info

Please let me know if any of these links are no longer working!

Above all, come join our Discord server, #dksab at
Talk about live and upcoming fights, share you score cards and fight clips here.

News and Articles:
FightNews - All kinds of boxing news as it comes, with short summaries for each.
BoxingScene - Boxing news and occasional views with headlined links leading to stories
Bad Left Hook - The best boxing blog around, with news summaries, fight previews and a lot of opinion pieces.
FightHype - Some news, a lot of opinion articles and a fair amount of fighter interviews, especially with Floyd Mayweather.
MaxBoxing - Mostly articles, usually fairly detailed and well-written

Fight News Rankings - rankings for every division for the four major sanctioning bodies, plus FightNews’ own rankings
The Ring Ratigs - The Ring’s own ratings for pound-for-pound and each division

Schedule / Upcoming Fights:
Bad Left Hook’s boxing schedule - The schedule I use. AFAIK it’s the most up to date anywhere

Boxing Podcasts
State of Combat - General combat sports focused podcast with MMA, boxing and wrestling coverage by CBS's Brian Campbell
Showtime Boxing - The old HBO Boxing podcast of Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney, now under the Showtime banner
SI Boxing with Chris Mannix - Ringside reporter Chris Mannix is now with Sports Illustrated and features interviews with prominent figures in the sport
Fistianados - For now just a twitter link as former HBO boxing exec Evan Rutkowski is between platforms, this one has more of a business focus
BBC 5 Live Boxing - UK based podcast featuring Mike Costello and Steve Bunce, probably the best UK based boxing podcast around
Knuckles and Gloves - Formerly the Queensbury Rules podcast, has more of a focus on the history of the sport w
Tha Boxing Voice Radio Show - One of my favorite boxing shows. Good hosts with differing viewpoints and they frequently take callers.

Videos & Misc Links:
Premiere Boxing Champions - Al Haymon's Youtube channel does a nice job of featuring full fights from the PBC broadcasts. They also have good highlight videos.
Gorilla Porductions - Youtube channel with boxing highlight reels
Dwyer Sports Betting on Youtube - Gives fight breakdowns and gambling tips. A lot of people don't like Dwyer but I think he's one of the better guys at breaking down a fight. Just take his gambling tips with a grain of salt.
BoxingScene's Non Stop Boxing forum - Boxing talk all the time. There are a lot of really dumb opinions here and to me that's part of the charm.

How can I watch boxing?

There are plenty of ways to watch fights these days, at least in the United States. ESPN recently got into the fight game with a partnership with Top Rank, and shows fights both on the ESPN cable channel and their ESPN+ streaming platform. Al Haymon’s PBC currently shows fights on the FOX network, Fox Sports 1, and Showtime. Some PBC cards also go to the more traditional PPV format. Finally, somewhat new to the game is DAZN, which is a sports-focused subscription service that claims it will broadcast 32 fight cards per year, in partnership with Matchroom Boxing and Golden Boy Promotions. If you’re in another country your options for televised fights are probably very different.

Youtube is still a good place to look for older fights, and their coverage of more recent ones varies by promoter. There are also boxing torrent sites out there if you know who to ask, these sites carry almost every televised fight in boxing history. In terms of live fights over the internet, many channels have an internet streaming service that you can access with a corresponding cable subscription, and of course there are other less legal streams out there that will broadcast just about everything. If you’re looking for a way to watch a live fight, just ask!

I’m new to boxing, where’s a good place to start watching?

Boxing is definitely a sport that is easier to appreciate with prior knowledge about its active fighters and their situations. Honestly the best way to pick up that knowledge is just to watch a lot of fights! If you see a boxer that has a style you particularly like, you’ll probably also enjoy watching his other fights, and along the way you might run into some other quality boxers he fought whose fights interest you.

End-of-the-year lists are great resources for finding good recent classics, and Ring Magazine’s Fights of the Year is a good list of just a few of the hundreds of fantastic fights throughout history. There are plenty of boxers that almost everybody has heard of, like the heavyweights Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, and Mike Tyson, and their fights are worth checking out for any boxing fans. Among other recent fighters I’d recommend watching are Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Pernell Whitaker, Erik Morales, Julio Cesar Chavez, Roy Jones Jr, Marco Antonio Barrera and Kostya Tsyzu. I also recommend watching fights from any of the fighters in my top 20 pound-for-pound list, they’re all there because they are relevant fighters with careers and fighting styles worth following.

How about getting into boxing training, you know anything about that?
I just watch the sport, and don’t know much about training, but there’s a really good Boxing training thread over on YLLS. It looks like it has been inactive for some time and has fallen into SA’s archives, but if you have archives it’s still got a lot of good info. If someone ends up making a new thread for boxing training (or if one already exists), let me know and I’ll add it to the thread.

The Ninth Layer fucked around with this message at 00:35 on Feb 10, 2019

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Sure they've had various boxing programs for a long time but I dunno if I'd have called them a major player in the boxing scene. Friday Night Fights was prospect level at best and if I recall correctly it was on ESPN2, not even the main network. They definitely were not committed to boxing in the way that they are today.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I suspect that Joshua will have the winner of Fury-Wilder 2 before the end of the year. It's very rare that a boxing trilogy ever happens all at once. If the second fight is a decisive win for either fighter then the winner is going to want to capitalize on it and fight Joshua asap. If it's a close tough fight again then chances are at least one guy is going to want to take a break and fight someone else, which gives Joshua an opening to negotiate.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Thanks for sharing! I've been looking for a good boxing podcast so I'll check some of these out. Added them to the links list.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Gervonta Davis is in action tonight on a Showtime tripleheader starting at 10pm est. Should be a showcase fight for him. There's also going to be a card on DAZN starting at 9pm.

I'll be in discord watching the fights so come join us!

edit: also didn't realize the link in the OP probably expired so now those invite links should be evergreen

The Ninth Layer fucked around with this message at 01:49 on Feb 10, 2019

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Three rounds in and this DAZN main event is a really good fight.

edit: welp

The Ninth Layer fucked around with this message at 05:22 on Feb 10, 2019

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Tbh I'm kinda excited about the Chino news. He was always one of my favorites and has rarely delivered a bad fight. I don't know if he can get back in shape after such a long layoff, but if he does I can see him beating most of the active welterweights today. Would pick him over both Thurman and Pacquiao for sure, and give him good odds (if not outright pick him) against Spence. The only guy I think would beat him clearly is Crawford.

e: yikes

The Ninth Layer fucked around with this message at 19:45 on Feb 12, 2019

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I saw an article claiming Floyd told TMZ he plans to do more bullshit $10 million exhibition fights in Japan sometime in June or July, since those fights are basically risk free paychecks for him compared to having to fight real opponents. I don't know how true this is but yeah lol it sure does sound like a Mayweather move.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Pretty interesting interview with Bob Arum on Bill Simmons' podcast:

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I'm in discord for the PBC card.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Nice. I wish more fights were put up on youtube especially recent ones. It's not like there's a huge market for old boxing DVDs or anything.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Doesn't look like DeGale's going the distance here.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

He's doing a decent job of clinching through the rounds at least but I don't see him winning a decision now.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I'm legit excited for Rios-Soto, even if both guys are past it they're still fun to watch.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I'm disappointed we're not getting the immediate rematch but I am happy to know my OP should remain relevant for a while. Fury joining ESPN locks up the Battle of the Brands with each of the three major networks having one piece of the heavyweight championship.

I agree with Arum that both fighters will benefit from a showcase fight before they have a rematch. Fury and Wilder probably gained some fans in their PPV fight but probably not a lot of people saw it numbers wise. If a larger audience sees a Fury tune-up on ESPN that will translate into a lot of people learning about Wilder. Demand for them to fight each other again will build pretty quickly and eventually there will be too much money here for the networks and promoters to ignore.

My hot take: this is actually good for the sport. It's good that Fury and Wilder are on competing networks with competing promotional companies. That means Fury and Wilder together will reach a larger audience than they would if they both fought on just one platform. ESPN reaches a sports audience that Showtime doesn't, and Fury's a guy who will draw fan interest to the sport. Having the heavyweight championship split up across all three networks also means this era of heavyweight boxing is reaching a larger audience than ever. If fans tune in for heavyweight boxing and see exciting fights no matter what network they're watching, that's going to do wonders for interest in boxing's smaller weight classes.

To end with some good news it's been rumored that GGG is signing up with DAZN.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

The Lara-Castano fight is about to start.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Dillian Whyte is also rumored to be finishing up an ESPN/Top Rank deal. Pretty big moves from Arum, and Fury-Whyte isn't a bad match if that's what we get next.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I'm pretty hyped too, honestly. May be worth making a thread for it.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I'm not looking past Jacobs tbh. Hopefully Canelo isn't either.

Anyway I was recently made aware that there's a way you can share video over discord. If there's interest I'm down for buying the Spence-Garcia PPV and hosting an SA fight party so that we can watch a reliable stream and talk over it together. If this is something you'd want to join let me know.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

The video sharing feature is just screen share in a private call, but I've used it a few times in the last couple weeks and it works well.

I'm good with whatever we want to do, I just happen to know more people online than off who like watching fights and I think it'd be a fun way to experience a fight if we're all just gonna be streaming stuff anyway.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Cigar Aficionado posted:

Wilder has been mulling a $100 million DAZN offer and is reportedly (but not confirmed) going to turn it down, which I hope isn’t true. It wouldn’t make much sense, unless he can get much more money from them or someone else. But Wilder is 34, if he’s going to take big fights it’s got to be now. It would be a tragedy if Joshua/Wilder never happens.

This is the same offer that Wilder made to Joshua last year that Joshua turned down, just $50 million for two fights each instead of one.

I'm always a little wary of hearing about news like this because "$100 million for two fights" is rarely the full story and when guys refuse deals like this it's usually because there are other factors at play. This goes back to: do you let someone pay you a big amount of money to essentially be the B-side to their favorite guy who will get preferential treatment in venue, fight officiating and judging, and probably a bigger share of the revenue?

Basically we never know the whole picture of these contracts so I think it is a mistake to rush to judgment. We know Joshua already turned down a very similar offer last year to fight Wilder which suggests he thinks there is MORE than $50 million to be had from fighting him. That would also be true for Wilder who probably wants a 50-50 revenue split here rather than a flat number.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Yeah Peterson never quite made it to the elite level of boxing but was always hovering around the back ends of the top 10 of whatever division he was in. I'm glad to see him retire, I enjoyed watching him this past decade but his status as a relevant fighter is over, his getting stopped by Lipinets means there's nowhere for him to go but down if he keeps fighting.

There's no shame in losing to the guys he lost to (Tim Bradley, Lucas Matthysse, Danny Garcia, Errol Spence) and when Peterson did lose he was usually competitive in those losses. But he never really picked up the signature wins he needed to take off either. Beating Amir Khan was a great career boost that was almost immediately ruined by his getting popped for PEDs and his career never really recovered after that.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Yeah I heard the same rumors last week.

I really have no interest in seeing Wlad again but from Joshua's perspective he's the best option available if you can't get Wilder or Fury. He still beats 95% of the division and when he lost to Joshua the first time it seemed to me there was at least some public interest in a rematch.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I'll be honest I know extremely little about womens boxing.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Anyone think Crolla makes it past the sixth round? Lomachenko's gotta slow down at some point.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Lomachenko is beast mode tonight.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Who's gonna beat him? Seems to me this Lomachenko would destroy Mikey.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I didn't really expect GGG to take anything tougher than a tune up for his next fight. He's promised a big rematch in September, it really doesn't matter who he fights in June.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

If I'm remembering right wasn't Big Baby Miller also accusing Joshua of taking PEDs a while back?

I'll try to get something written up for Crawford-Khan tomorrow.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

My man Tim Bradley says he would be open to coming back to boxing for a fight against Khan or Spence. I'm not sure I'd want him taking a crack at Spence, but imo there was always unfinished business between him and Khan and I'd still be interested in that match today.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I was gonna write a thread, but then I got high...

Nah jk

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Pacquiao-Thurman ppv rumored for July 20th.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

It's Manny Pacquiao against an undefeated guy in the top 5 of welterweight. If they put the Broner fight on PPV this at least is better than that one.

It's also a fight that three years ago I didn't think would ever have any shot at happening.

May as well get out my early pick: I think Manny wins. Thurman's never fought a guy who moves as well going forward as Manny does and I think he will struggle to keep away from him for twelve rounds.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I've got something mostly written up and will try to post it early for once (no promises).

I'm at about a 7/10 which will grow as the fight approaches. I still want to find time tonight to watch Canelo-GGG 1&2 and Jacobs-GGG before I really put out a prediction, for now I think it's a 60-40 fight for Canelo who comes in with the Vegas advantage.

The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

Thread up:


The Ninth Layer
Jun 19, 2007

I don't personally think Canelo is #1 but I could see someone getting there if they put a lot of stock in a fighter's record. Golovkin is a better official win than anything on Crawford or Lomachenko's records, and there are a few other guys Canelo beat that you could argue are at least as good as Crawford and Lomachneko's best wins. They win their fights a lot more clearly while Alvarez has a lot of close decision wins, but the only guy who Canelo fought and had no case for any kind of legitimate decision was Floyd Mayweather, and it's not like Crawford or Lomachenko have fought a Mayweather or even a Golovkin.

I'll say that if I had scored that Canelo-GGG rematch seven rounds to five for Canelo instead of Golovkin, there's a pretty good chance I would have Canelo ranked at #1 especially after the Jacobs win.

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