LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 5:  Nate Diaz applies a choke hold to win by submission against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Quick Jabs: Olympic Boxing; Conor McGregor; Bernard Hopkins; More

There’s some hand-wringing over in the mixed martial arts world about last weekend’s losses, which spoiled some of the UFC’s plans for some of its biggest stars. MMA friends, some unsolicited counsel, from a long-suffering boxing fan: Don’t panic, and don’t criticize the UFC for being too aggressive in its matchmaking for its stars. For one thing, a loss won’t do in a star fighter — how many did Chuck Lidell have before he lost most of his luster? For another thing, the UFC got a foothold in fight sports by matching the best vs. the best (something that various MMA fans say now has dropped off some).

Yes, there may be some drop off in the money made next time out by Conor McGregor. Surely the UFC’s Dana White is smarting some, hoping to have set up bigger fights for him next. But there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Consider the alternative: Match UFC stars lightly, preserve bigger rematches, and make fans disgruntled (as we too often are over here) about that situation. Hey, it worked for Floyd Mayweather for a long time. But the alternative — match stars tough, win or lose — also worked for Oscar De La Hoya and Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquiao. This writer’s suspicion is that matching fighters tough makes longer-lasting fans. It’s not like the UFC does much for me, so I’ve got no rooting interest. I just hate to see the same mistakes made in boxing made elsewhere.

On to the rest of Quick Jabs, featuring Antonio Margarito, Deontay Wilder, the Olympics and more!

QUICK JABS

Golden Boy executive Bernard Hopkins says he has no conflict of interest as an HBO broadcaster calling Golden Boy fights. This is laughable. He has a financial interest in the fighters he’s criticizing or not criticizing. He is correct in saying that disclosing his financial interest puts his credibility at the mercy of viewers. The story in question never shows B-Hop using the words “no conflict of interest,” so maybe he didn’t say the first part. But disclosure is really the only way to make conflict of interest even tolerable, and then it still carries a stain, however small or large….

All the worries about the Olympics opening up boxing to pros and dropping head gear is probably ill-founded. Most research points to head gear not making boxing significantly safer, and the amateur/pro divide has long since made Olympic boxing largely irrelevant. Pacquiao wants to delay his retirement to fight in the Olympics. Why not? Look, if there are safety issues or issues about the purity of amateur Olympics, these decision can always be reversed (although the latter has worked out just fine for basketball, demonstrably). The only thing anybody should really be worried about in the short-term is cuts, which head gear does tend to protect against — a factor that could shorten a boxer’s run toward gold…

Pacquiao got some very after-the-fact chiding from HBO over his anti-gay comments, which isn’t surprising in the thrust of the remarks or the slowness of them. What’s more surprising is that it appears to be hurting him with voters in the Philippines. Progress does have a way of taking root from one place to the next sometimes, huh?…

The waiter who is suing over money due for his role in making the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight better have some great documentation on paper about promises made. Otherwise, this looks like a publicity stunt by an aspiring actor…

Is it possible? Are boxing regulators capable of, like, protecting fighters from themselves? Arizona will block Roy Jones, Jr.’s plan to face a random fan. Now if only someone would stop the dangerously over-the-hill Jones from fighting anyone at all…

And wait, another commission investigating the sport like it should? Whaaaaa? That scorecard for Luis Ortiz-Tony Thompson is wild

Margarito is one of the most divisive figures in the sport, with his defenders just as vehement as his detractors. Everyone agreed he shouldn’t be fighting last weekend, after retiring with a permanently injured eye. Yet one suspects that everyone can agree on these two points, as well: 1. Margarito, who won a decision over Jorge Paez, Jr. last weekend, couldn’t be in a bad fight if he tried (see below); and 2. He’s clearly still mega-popular in Mexico, as the estimated 10,000 fans in attendance suggest…

It’s hard to see Wilder going to Russia to defend his heavyweight trinket against Alexander Povetkin, despite the declarations of a Russian promoter who put up a lot of cash in a purse bid. He’ll almost surely drop the belt, right? He doesn’t want to fight on foreign soil, and he says he doesn’t trust the Russian drug testing program. How important is a belt to a fighter? It tends to vary by situation…

All your “heavyweight champ Tyson Fury is a madman, sometimes for good, sometimes for ill” news in one batch: He likes eating hedgehogs. He thinks Anthony Joshua is a bum. He doesn’t know if his next opponent is Fred Flintstone, Wladimir Klitschko or Batman…

A couple fights in the works in the 122 to 130-pound range that are very appealing, and hopefully they come through: Vasyl Lomachenko-Nicholas Walters isn’t dead; Carl Frampton could indeed face junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux.

(LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 5: Nate Diaz applies a choke hold to win by submission against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada; Photo: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

 

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.

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