Dark Eye: The Boxing Punches Never End


There is a theory that boxing will always be a side show and to a point that’s correct. Instances of 50 year-old Hall of Fame legends returning to the ring, controversial decisions, and Tuesday’s Canelo Alvarez-Caleb Plant press conference melee for their Las Vegas November 6th Showtime PPV unification fight.

Basically, boxing is in the dark eye. Though, as the young superstars are sparking a revival of sorts, and the calendar ahead is stocked with good matchups, the punches keep coming.

It never ends. It’s a “dark eye.” I speak with the novice fan and there is that overall consensus about a sport needing reform and a dark eye that requires more than a few stitches.

In the weeks and months ahead, unless another fight gets canned because there is a continuation of COVID-19 positives in fight camps, the matchups are enticing and boxing fans will fulfil their appetite. This is the boxing season and of course controversy is never ending.

Saturday: DAZN Anthony Joshua vs. Oleksandr Usyk (WBA, IBF, WBO heavyweight titles)

October 9: FOX Sports PPV Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder (WBC heavyweight title) The trilogy

October 4: New York (Triller Fight Club PPV) Teofimo Lopez vs. George Kambosos Jr., 12 rounds, for Lopez’s IBF/WBO/WBA lightweight title. Rescheduled a third time at Madison Square Garden

October 15: San Diego (ESPN+) Emanuel Navarrete vs. Joet Gonzalez, 12 rounds, for Navarrete’s WBO featherweight title

October 16: Fresno, Calif. (DAZN) Mikey Garcia vs. Sandro Martin, 10 rounds, welterweights

October 23: Atlanta (ESPN/ESPN Deportes/ESPN+)

Jamel Herring vs. Shakur Stevenson, 12 rounds, for Herring’s WBO junior lightweight title Nico Ali Walsh vs. TBA, 4 rounds, middleweights

November 13: Phoenix (Showtime) David Benavidez vs. Jose Uzcategui, 12 rounds, WBC super middleweight eliminator Jose Benavidez Jr. vs. Francisco Emanuel Torres, 10 rounds, junior middleweights (Rescheduled from late October due to David Benvdidez positive COVID Test)

November 20: Las Vegas (ESPN PPV) Terence Crawford vs. Shawn Porter, 12 rounds, for Crawford’s WBO welterweight title

Tentative dates are awaiting approval for major fights in November and December at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the new UBS Arena in Elmont Queens, Madison Square Garden and a Top Rank main event highlighting former lightweight champion Vasily Lomachencko.

So here is the issue and some of the dark eyes. Too many fights bunched together, major fights conflicting on the same day with different networks, too many pay-per-view events and no more than a week or two apart.

And then there is the Teofimo Lopez and Triller fight club issues that could potentially move the scheduled October 4th date at Madison Square Garden to a later date at the rival Barclays Center, because challenger, George Kambosos Jr. and his management team are contesting a limited time of travel plans that were set forth with the promotion.

Ridiculous, and as I always say, boxing needs a national commission to regulate the promoters, managers, trainers, athletic commissions, and sanctioning organizations that make the rules.

Triller, the entertainment company is a major contributor to that dark eye. I did not need to view 58-year-old Evander Holyfield risking a severe injury two weeks ago, and thank God the referee stopped the nonsense early after Holyfield threw one punch that never landed in the first round.

And I did not have to hear Donald Trump as a supposed boxing analyst at ringside and use a platform to benefit his political future. The result was a Triller PPV and under 125,000 PPV purchases, a record low for the promotion and they took a major financial loss.

Triller expects to rebound a bit, that is, if and when Lopez defends his unified lightweight titles at the Garden Hulu Theatre and not at Barclays Center at a later date.

But that Saturday night, in Miami, Triller Fight Club with Holyfield and risking his well being, appealed to their demographics and that is a novice base of the boxing public. They would rather promote their version of boxing and entertainment, and again the bouts on their pay-per-view platform was a dark eye for the sport that left a lot to be desired.

Then again, this is all about demographics and Triller apparently is appealing to a younger fan base. But they also got Holyfield fans in the fold, as the replacement for COVID victim and almost 50-year old Hall of Famer Oscar De La Hoya. And I am sure the Trump supporters were anxious to hear his platform and his fallacies of having knowledge of boxing.

However, this is 2021 and what Triller fight club does. They give you an undercard that included former WBA heavyweight champion David Haye, beyond his prime, with eight two-minute rounds of boredom and calling out heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.

And UFC legends proved nothing. Anderson Silva with a first round knockout over Tito Ortiz, very much a fight that should not have been approved with any athletic commission.

You were supposed to hear and see Hall of Fame broadcaster Jim Lampley do the blow-by-blow. Instead, he opted out of a card that was not approved for one reason or another by the California State Athletic Commission and rapidly moved to South Florida

Instead, Ray Flores and former welterweight champion Shawn Porter were on the call. They did the Triller thing, had a drink or two in front of the camera, and I am sure if Lampley was there he would have skipped the invitation.

But this is not boxing and a different era of anything goes. This is another black eye for the sport and Evander Holyfield is an example, a reputed and great heavyweight champion looking for a lucrative payday who was welcomed in open arms.

I have interviewed Holyfield on the phone and in person. His speech was very deliberate which leads to all signs of a fighter that took too many punches to the head. The Florida Athletic Commission, that approved his fight with a one week notice, needs to be investigated.

And please don’t buy the excuse from Holyfield that he wanted the fight to continue. Another one or two punches to the head and the outcome could have been ugly.

One more punch Tuesday in Los Angeles and the Canelo-Plant anticipated super middleweight unification fight would have been in jeopardy. Plant got a scrap under his eye and Canelo threw a punch that caused chaos and could have been bye bye November 6.

Why oh why? Canelo takes exception to his opponent using the **** word at him as an insult to his mother, yet, the face of boxing has a habit of shouting obscenities at post fight pressers. They brawled and the spectacle of a useless press conference continued.

More controversy of Plant going in the past and claiming Canelo is a known cheater, who was once suspended for using illegal enhancement drugs.

Solution, stop the theatre. Major fights don’t need the hype of a useless press conference. Showtime, Canelo Alvarez, TGB Promotions, and the PBC got away with it this time.

Yes, it was another dark eye for boxing.

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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