These days, the most anyone should hope for from cable-TV boxing is a fight that's entertaining, and even that is starting to seem too much to ask. Last Saturday's heavyweight unification fight between Vladimir Klitschko and David Haye was a waste of time and money -- given the usual governing-body politics and greed, I have five bucks what says at least one of Klitschko's belts will be someone else's hands by year's end, even though the almost-undisputed champ won't have lost it in the ring -- but this epilogue is amusing and clever:
I can't imagine how much HBO overpaid for Klit-Haye, but I suppose the silver lining to that folly is that they've tapped out their budget for the year, pushing another built-to-disappoint big-name snoozer in Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson to pay-per-view and a rerun on regular HBO the following week -- and giving us hope that maybe, like an addict, HBO management have finally hit bottom and realize that they have a problem with hoarding bad fights. Or maybe the problem is a buying/spending one? I dunno. Regardless, I look forward to next January's annual press release from HBO Sports where they concede that they spent way too much on shitty fights and aired too many mismatches, and then vow to fight harder and smarter to put on far better cards in the new year.
Polishing off the year on the channel before it possibly goes dark for a few months -- beyond week-delay replays of their two [possibly four] PPV headlining fights and hopefully another weeklong encore airing of their best fights of 2011 -- HBO customers are currently scheduled to get:
Paul Williams vs. Erislandy Lara
Amir Khan vs. Zab Judah
Marcos Maidana vs. Robert Guerrero
Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. TBA
Not exactly the most pulse-pounding collection of fights -- there may be a comeback match for Andre Berto attempting to crush a tomato can in the mix there too -- a quartet of fights that the A-side fighter really is supposed to win fairly easily. Like last Saturday's results, Hopkins-Dawson and Floyd Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz will probably be two more promotions where where any given hour of the pre-fight hype/trash-talk will be far more entertaining than the fight itself, and the rubes who bought either PPV will be $54.99 lighter and no wiser.
Further up the dial, Showtime thrives with lesser names but better fights [despite two Top Rank cards to showcase/keep-busy some of their B-list talent]:
Brandon Rios vs. Urbano Antillon
Joseph Agbeko vs. Abner Mares [the final of their bantamweight tournament]
Andre Ward vs. Carl Froch [Final, Super-Six Boxing Classic]
I have no idea who is going to win these fights, and neither do you. That's cool. Showtime probably has an edge on HBO for landing the other two Fall PPV cards, Manny Pacquaio vs. Juan Manuel Marquez III and Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito II. The former will lose a lot of its radness the further from the sporting catchweight of the junior-welterweight limit of 140 it gets; JMM is a lightweight, Pac is a small welterweight who has never weighed in at more than 145¾ for any fight, including his facial reconstruction of junior-middleweight Margarito last November. Pacquiao-Marquez III looks like it will happen at the weight Pac already fights at, and that's a shame. Not as big a shame as the blatant peso-vacuuming cash-in of Cotto-Marg II, a fight means nothing and has only one winner: Top Rank, the promoter for both men. A bit of a drag to close out the year, but maybe it will be sorta entertaining.