Alright, boxing may have jumped the shark now. OK, actually, that probably happened a long time ago. But still, this past week has seen some serious overkill when it comes to media coverage of a fight that isn’t even close to being signed.
And yes, you can point to the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao saga of the 2010s and how painfully drawn out it was, but that was an exception to the rule. Even then it wasn’t a case of each fighter and anyone with any sort of link to them speaking to any media outlet possible to spew out whatever they can think of about a potential fight.
That’s what we’re getting with Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis. After Garcia won last weekend he made it clear that ‘Tank’ is the man he wants to fight next and for good reason. It’s an excellent fight between two young, rising stars.
Since his win, there have been at least 18 different ‘news’ stories about Garcia potentially fighting Davis. Those aren’t 18 different headlines from different outlets reporting on the same soundbite, that’s 18 separate stories based on different quotes or actions from people involved with the two fighters.
Both Garcia and Davis have had their say to numerous outlets, as well as Floyd Mayweather, Eddie Hearn, Oscar De La Hoya and Joe Goossen. What’s even more frustrating is that none of these people said anything particularly interesting or concrete; there were no real updates on potential negotiations.
That’s not to criticise any of these folks, though. They’ve just been answering the questions that have been put to them by the media. And that’s the problem; there’s such a desperate need for ‘content’ these days that the same storylines get milked for everything they’re worth and anyone with any sort of link to a hot topic will be called upon for their take.
Again, this isn’t a dig at any particular website or outlet, it’s just the nature of the beast these days. We’re seeing fewer and fewer in-depth pieces of actual value and more fast-food stories that provide a quick fix and come with a grabby headline. Instant gratification for an audience with an ever-shortening attention span.
Add to this the fact that Garcia and Davis constantly bicker over social media and you’ve got a situation that would be laughable in any other sport. Even in MMA, more specifically the UFC, when two fighters are consistently talking about one another there’s a very high chance that they’ll then square off in the octagon.
It’s a systemic problem in boxing. It’s easy to provide quick hits and create buzz with snappy quotes and empty promises, but eventually the bill comes due. And if expectations are high and there’s nothing to show for it, the sport is weakened.
Speaking of which, Adrien Broner has been back in the spotlight this week (though a far smaller one than he used to enjoy) ahead of his return to action after a lengthy spell out of the ring. Broner, despite his talent, is another fighter who failed to meet the promises his previous performances seemed to make.
He’s done some ridiculous and dangerous things outside of the ring and it seems clear he’s had plenty of issues of his own. One would hope these would have been resolved before he returned to boxing, but – based on his most recent interviews – that doesn’t appear to be the case.
He seems to be just as abrasive, throwing expletives at the likes of Mayweather and Leonard Ellerbe, as well as even cutting a conference call with journalists short because he didn’t like the line of questioning. Now 32, Broner should surely have the self-awareness to know that he would have to field some difficult questions given what he’s said and done in the past.
Despite his transgressions, the hope is that he is in an appropriate mental place to be stepping back through the ropes and performing under the lights. If this comeback is merely a cash-grab, as some have speculated, it could end badly for him and no one wants that.
Juan Manuel Marquez, who hasn’t appeared in the media much since retiring after his last fight in 2014, recently spoke out against the “outsiders” that are now invading the sport of boxing.
“Without fear of being wrong on the matter, I view it as a lack of respect,” he said.
“Boxing is something that is taken seriously. [A fighter] trains, prepares, the fighter leaves everything inside the ring. It is not fair that a Youtuber is fighting inside the ring, a former basketball player or a former NFL player. Boxing deserves respect. This is not a game. When you fight a life is at stake and the respect for the sport has been lost.”
It’s hard to argue with him. More and more ‘celebrities’ are taking up the sport whether it’s in exhibitions or sanctioned fights and while some claim it attracts more fans to boxing, it quite clearly also dilutes how seriously the sport can be taken.
Fighters like Marquez dedicated their entire lives to reaching the top of the sport and it must be extremely disheartening to see the likes of Jake Paul waltz into boxing with no experience and be headlining pay-per-view cards and earning millions of dollars.
Promoter Bob Arum gave updates on two rematches that look likely to happen next – Devin Haney against George Kambosos Jnr and Josh Taylor once again facing Jack Catterall. Only one of those (the latter) is necessary, though the former is happening by virtue of a rematch clause.
Haney comprehensively beat Kambosos while many felt Catterall deserved the nod against Taylor. If we only get one of these rematches, please let it be Taylor-Catterall II.
BOXING ON THE BOX
Chris Billam Smith-Isaac Chamberlain
Sky Sports Action
Coverage begins at 7pm
Josh Kelly-Lucas Bastida
Coverage begins at 8pm