I TRY to avoid giving too many column inches to farcical match-ups on these pages, but this week something so repulsive crawled out of the bowels of celebrity culture that it needs to be addressed and put down as quickly as possible.
According to TMZ – and you know it’s bad when TMZ are the first to report on anything to do with boxing – Floyd Mayweather has been offered a fight with YouTuber Logan Paul.
Mayweather is retired and Paul makes a career out of causing outrage on social media, yet here we are. This is boxing in 2020.
The TMZ report notes that nothing has been finalised and that Floyd is apparently still not that keen on the bout, but once this story dropped it was everywhere online. Mayweather, a shrewd businessman, will have been well aware of the attention. If anything would pique his interest, it’s an online wildfire like that.
If the fight happened, you couldn’t even really blame Mayweather and Paul that much – the problem is a systemic one; boxing remains relentlessly willing to whore itself out to the highest bidder.
Just last week we learned that DAZN were keen for Canelo Alvarez – the sport’s biggest global star – to fight a prominent UFC fighter or, failing that, his own promoter, Oscar De La Hoya. It’s no wonder UFC President Dana White publicly mocked boxing promoters and broadcasters this past week, calling the sport a “mess.” While the UFC continues to churn out competitive match-ups for its biggest stars, boxing continues to act like a contestant on The Crystal Maze, shamelessly flailing at notes of cash as they fall, not giving a damn about how ridiculous it looks.
The masses will always have a morbid interest in a freak show, but boxing remains the only legitimate sport prepared to tear into itself to make loopholes for them.
After it was announced that Dillian Whyte will rematch Alexander Povetkin in November – an alarmingly quick turnaround – Whyte’s promoter Eddie Hearn claimed that the winner of this upcoming fight will be the WBC heavyweight mandatory. Further still, if that ends up being Whyte, Hearn told Sky Sports that he will push for the February deadline for Whyte’s title shot that was in place before he lost to Povetkin.
Well, he may have jumped the gun. Speaking to BoxingScene, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman revealed that – as of last week – they hadn’t even received a request to formally sanction the bout. That may well have already been remedied, but what Sulaiman also said is that the winner of this rematch will not automatically become the mandatory challenger for the belt currently held by Tyson Fury.
Though they would be the WBC ‘interim’ champion – for all intents and purposes, a completely meaningless title – the WBC would then make a decision on whether they’d be installed as mandatory challenger. Further still, a new deadline for their title shot would be set.
What this means is that, should Whyte win, it would still not become a potential roadblock to a megafight between Fury and Anthony Joshua.
Indeed, Hearn spoke to talkSPORT about ongoing talks for a pair of Fury-Joshua fights in 2021, insisting that he still believes they will happen – one in the spring/summer and another at the end of the year.
He even joked that he’s taking rival promoter Frank Warren out for a “slap up meal” to discuss things further. What’s also encouraging is that, as things stand, the plan is for Fury and Joshua to have their next fights – against Deontay Wilder and Kubrat Pulev respectively – within a week of each other in December. Should they both win, their schedules would be ideally aligned.
However, the planned fight between rising heavyweights Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce looks like it will be pushed back even further.
Warren, who promotes both, told IFL that their new October date may need to be scrapped, as the fight will need a live audience in order to make financial sense. With Covid-19 cases in the UK rising dramatically and fresh lockdown measures being discussed, it could be a long time before audiences are back at boxing.
If that’s the case, hopefully Warren and the powers that be figure out a way of getting the fight to happen, because it’s an outstanding one on paper.
In a frank interview with FightHype, former welterweight champion Keith Thurman discussed the struggles he faced after losing to Manny Pacquiao last year.
“I was 192 pounds. That was last summer when I was commentating on the [Errol] Spence vs. [Shawn] Porter fight,” he said.
“I was depressed. I didn’t enjoy taking my first career ‘L’ even though I lost to a champion. We are trying to be ready this upcoming year, and after taking that ‘L’, I have got the motivation.”
He also suffered a hand injury, which he is currently recovering from, and while it’s refreshing to hear a fighter being open about the psychological damage of a loss, his fluctuating weight could be a cause of concern going forward.
There were a couple of in-depth interviews I found particularly entertaining this week. The first featured on Tris Dixon’s Boxing Life Stories and was with former world title challenger Nicky Piper who, although he has some regrets about his career, is genuinely content in retirement and has some great stories.
The second interview is with an active boxer, welterweight prospect Conor Benn, who appeared on Macklin’s Take with Matthew Macklin and Andy Clarke. Benn, much like his father, has an infectious energy that shines through, even in this audio-only format.