In the spirit of family, togetherness, and however many holidays are being celebrated this weekend, the TQBR team has come together again. Typically we do these puppies before a big fight, but last night wasn’t really all that important, and our business is diagnosis, not prognosis. So, Brent and I have crawled out from under our hangovers, and Tim and Jason have lent their vastly overqualified opinions to take stock of just what in the sweet Jesus hell we witnessed and maybe try to ascertain why.
1. Forgetting that the card was on pay-per view, was there any part that was actually any good?
Brent: The decision to showcase Teofimo Lopez as the featured bout on the undercard was genius. There’s no way he wasn’t going to look good against Edis Tatli and it bolsters his claim for a shot at Vasiliy Lomachenko. At this point, you should be arrested just for thinking about what Loma would do to Lopez but this is the kind of exposure and experience a fighter with a bottomless well of star potential like Lopez needs.
Swain: I love watching Lopez blast people out, but on a card where the main event is liable to disappoint (spoiler alert: it did), I don’t want to see him get rounds in and work on things. I’m willing to allow that an enormous amount of my derision for the card was the price tag. For free, there were a few interesting moments. For 70 fucking bucks, there were not.
Jason: Teofimo Lopez. In short, he’s a star. That Tim Bradley could tell Joe Tessitore with a straight face that he couldn’t pick between Lopez and Shakur Stevenson makes me question his journalistic integrity — to say nothing of the integrity of his frontal lobe. Lopez has all the sauce — and, not for nothing, has far better current odds of staying out of the penitentiary for the next 10 to 15.
Tim: Yeah, this was the exact opposite of a PPV-worthy card. The main event was a mismatch from the start. Lopez blasting out a hopeless mofo didn’t save it, although Lopez comes close to being a guy I’d pay to watch do most anything. Mani-pedi or whatever.
2. How depressed were you when Joe Tessitore returned to ringside to call the fights? And how quickly did you notice ESPN’s call go from accurate to pure sales mode?
Brent: Back in the Friday Night Fights days Tessitore was tolerable because he was playing the straight man to Teddy Atlas’s unbridled lunacy. Now though, Tessitore himself is in the “crazy guy at the end of the bar with nothing to lose” role and it’s poor Tim Bradley’s job to attempt to reign him in. It’s a dynamic that doesn’t work and his beard looks fake, like an undercover cop’s and yuck.
Swain: Bernardo Osuna, Tim Bradley, and Andre Ward were doing a phenomenal job to open the broadcast. They called the action in front of them and lent analysis and perspective, never talking over the action. That’s exactly what I’m looking for. I love Tim Bradley, but he’s too fucking affable. He goes where his partner goes, and Tessitore has gone completely off the fucking deep end. I don’t need a middle-aged dork hollering at me about how great something is when I can clearly see it’s not. It’s like getting gaslighted by an obnoxious band geek who called your girlfriend a whore *as* you’re giving him a swirly. Just shut the fuck up. We have eyes.
Jason: I worked with Joe in a past life, and we got on swimmingly. That said, we’ve seen it across every other incestuously intertwined corporo-network-league mutation: It’s possible for an analyst to comment objectively — and when necessary, critically — despite the raging conflicts of interest of his or her employer. Boxing is weird and different in a lot of ways. But in this sense, it doesn’t have to be.
Tim: Joe has his moments, but: This is why exclusive network/promoter deals are horrendous. Everybody celebrated this Top Rank/ESPN deal as some big revolutionary deal for boxing because it returned the sport to free airwaves. As we’ve seen, they’re not putting on good matches for the most part, and they’re making us pay — twice! — for anything remotely worthy.
3. Were you surprised by how long the main event lasted?
Brent: Not at all. Khan was sent to the sunken place by Canelo in round six and that felt about right for Crawford too, who has power commensurate to Alvarez. What a shame for Khan though to discover that not only does he have a glass chin but a glass dick too.
Swain: I was a bit surprised by how long it went, but I’m a bloodthirsty cretin and the first round knockdown had me howling. Crawford was patiently dissecting Khan, and goddammit I wanted something brutal.
Jason: Khan is no chump, and Crawford usually spends at least a couple rounds warming the engine. I assumed it’d go at least four or five, but not after watching the first. We’ll remember Khan bowing out, but we shouldn’t forget him getting up from that knockdown.
Tim: Meh, Crawford tends to take his time sizing someone up, and has a certain cruelty to it. He’d probably go six rounds with me.
4. How badly is Top Rank wasting Terence Crawford’s prime?
Brent: I’ll stop just short of saying their wasting it and say that they’re doing a piss poor job of capitalizing on it. Remember, this fight was originally supposed to be against Luis Collazo. The Khan fight at least had a curiosity factor and kept eyes on him. But Crawford is a capital S special fighter and he deserves to be put in a position to continually prove that.
Swain: I’m so sick of the excuses. Crawford is too fucking good to be fighting Khan. These endless holding patterns are killing my interest in the sport.
Jason: I don’t want to talk about it. (*Jams another pin in his moldy Bob Arum voodoo doll*.)
Tim: Copy Swain.
5. Three fixes to unfuck the current boxing model: Go!
- Subscriptions or PPVs, fucking pick one. I’m cool with one or the other but not both.
- There’s no way to enforce this but maximum caps on the number of fights for exclusive network or promotional deals. The butterfly effect of locking up guys long term with one outfit is what causes 90 percent of the bullshit in this sport.
- START. FIGHTS. EARLIER. In fact, I’ll go one further. All fights should be matinees. Boxing should be illegal when the sun goes down and probably when it’s up too. For now, though, gimme some god damn brunch fights.
Swain: Furthering the scandalous and unfounded rumor that we are the same person, I will side completely with Brent.
- Standardize everything: weigh-ins, drug testing, gloves, ring dimensions, all of it, across every state and organizational line. Boxing never does what’s best for boxing. It always does what makes the most money for the fewest. Bring consistency and accountability to everything, even the little things — especially the little things — and you level the playing field for fighters and give the public a reason to give this redheaded bastard child of a sport a chance.
- Earlier starts. Time zones will always be an issue, but as it stands, the broadcast window for most cards is hopelessly restricting. And as fervent a base as inked-up Ed Hardy bros may be, it’s obviously in the sport’s best interest to appeal both to younger folks and old farts like me, who typically hit the Metamucil and then the mattress by 10 p.m.
- Shorter fights. Sacrilegious, I know — but if we’re unfucking, let’s do it right: Shorter fights create more urgency, encourage better action, allow for more frequent appearances and mean more exposure opportunities for undercard fighters. Who wouldn’t want to watch Crawford and Oleksandr Usyk and Naoya Inoue and countless others constantly going for broke and fighting twice as often?
Tim: I’ll second everyone here except Jason on shorter fights, but add a couple.
- Get rid of the goddam belts. People mistake their occasional usefulness in promoting fights that are decent with them somehow being good overall. They’re not. They definitely scare off would-be boxing fans — I’ve talked to them, these types, and they always bring it up — and they lead to bad fights with mandatories like Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Anthony Crolla as often as not.
- Get rid of Top Rank. Yeah, they can build a fighter from A-Z better than anyone in the business, from generating crowds to finding an audience to getting someone from prospect to contender. But there’s one consistent factor in the sport’s move from a mainstay to niche, and it’s Top Rank. Promoters are prone to battling, to be sure. It’s just that Top Rank is so damn prickly they never get along with anyone whatsoever. And don’t make deals as such. Once it was Don King. Then it was Golden Boy. Now it’s Matchroom. Let’s stop pretending Bob Arum is good for the sport. He’s a dick who has almost single-handedly ruined it. See: Saturday night.