IS it just me, or does the whole boxing scene seem a lot healthier than it did a few weeks ago? It’s not just that sport’s biggest fight – I refer of course to Mayweather vs Pacquiao – has finally been made, but there’s a whole lot more action coming down the pike in the next few months.
Powerful adviser Al Haymon begins his series of time-buy shows on different platforms next month, with a whole slew of dates planned. First he has a Las Vegas bill televised on free-to-air network NBC featuring Keith Thurman against Robert Guerrero and rebuilding Adrien Broner against exciting John Molina. Six days later, on the lesser Spike TV, Haymon has a promotion in Ontario, California featuring former world welter kings Andre Berto and Shawn Porter.
Into April, and also under the Haymon umbrella – he doesn’t promote, but works with various promoters who actually stage his televised shows – Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr returns against Polish light-heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara (assuming Top Rank doesn’t prevail in its claim that Chavez Jnr is still under contract to them for one more fight, something the boxer disputes). And bear in mind that Haymon still has a deal with cable network Showtime.
On April 25 boxing makes an always-welcome appearance at possibly its most iconic venue, Madison Square Garden, with Wladimir Klitschko defending the heavyweight crown against Bryant Jennings. Given that Klitschko has recently been plying his trade in Europe, something that has limited his impact in the all-important US market, his first fight in the USA since 2008 should boost not only his career but also the entire sport.
That Garden event is actually the culmination of a busy month for boxing in the state of New York. On April 11 a Haymon show in Brooklyn offers a showdown between Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson plus Irish hero Andy Lee defending his WBO middleweight belt against Peter Quillin. And on April 18 at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona is an enticing light-welter clash between Ruslan Provodnikov and Lucas Matthysse.
The top level activity isn’t limited to the United States. Next month Russian wrecker Sergey Kovalev, who overcame super veteran Bernard Hopkins in November, ventures to Canada to defend his light-heavyweight belts against big ticket-seller Jean Pascal. And this weekend in the UK there are two big shows with Carl Frampton defending his super-bantam title against Chris Avalos in Belfast on free-to-air ITV, while in London the colourful Tyson Fury stays busy while awaiting a shot at world heavyweight title some time later this year (presumably against Wlad Klitschko, although you never know with the big-punching big men).
Look ahead to May and just one week after the May 2 Mayweather-Pacquiao extravaganza, one of boxing’s biggest draws in Canelo Alvarez has an outing when meets James Kirkland in Texas.
And some say boxing is dying. You could have fooled me.
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