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Montero’s Merciless Mailbag

Canelo Alvarez (right) vs. Gennady Golovkin. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
10
Aug

Doug Fischer, the Undisputed Champion of mailbags, is out this week on a well-deserved vacation with his family. But never fear fellow boxing degenerates, the Vacant Interim Regular Titleholder has you covered while the champ enjoys his holiday.

CANELO VS DAZN

Hi Doug,

I have been following you on twitter for a few years now and sometimes I even leave comments. It is a very realistic possibility that Canelo may not fight this year. I can’t help sympathize with him. I know it is trendy to bash Canelo but no one looks at his side of the argument. No one wants to fight for a streaming platform with a few hundred thousand subscribers unless they are getting paid really well.



If Canelo fights shitty opponents, he does 300-350K PPV buys. But he does 700-750K buys against good opponents and if he fights a half descent star like GGG, the fight does million buys. No one will let him fight shitty opponents anymore. So let’s just do the math: 700K buys at $80 dollars each is $56M. That will cover his $35M, GBP’s $5M and his opponent’s purse. I am not even considering the live gate at the moment.

The problem is with DAZN. They are doing a dirt poor job of promoting their platform. Netflix got big when they started creating original content. Sports streaming is a difficult sell. With another platform like ESPN, Canelo may not get a guaranteed purse, but with PPV buys he could make that same amount of money, if not more.

I hope this makes it to your mailbag this time. Keep up the good work.

Regards,

Saurabh

You bring up some fair points Saurabh, it has definitely become some fan’s favorite pastime to shit all over Canelo at every waking moment. But this is hardly anything new. Generally speaking, the “top dog” (highest paid fighter) in the sport is going to take the largest amount of fan criticism – both logical and illogical. Before Canelo it was Floyd and Manny, and Oscar before them, and so on. To quote Shakespeare, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”.

Regarding your PPV math, don’t forget that the PPV provider traditionally takes around half of the revenue upfront, often times more than half these days (due to additional streaming services and other factors). So while 700K buys at $80 a pop comes out to $56M, the real number for GBP to work with is closer to $25M after the cable/streaming platforms get their cut. You’re also not considering the great unknown – how will boxing PPV sales trend in the world of COVID-19? We simply will not know until the numbers for the Charlo doubleheader, Davis-Santa Cruz and Spence-Garcia PPV cards come in. Overall, in the age of cord cutting, PPV sales have been way down. The only American boxing PPV broadcast to do more than 500K buys in the last couple years was the Fury-Wilder rematch, which was a huge fight that was broadcast simultaneously on two major networks.

Last but not least, you’re forgetting one major factor here – DAZN is not in the PPV business, at least not yet. They are a subscription service, meaning they generate revenue when fans either sign on for one month at $20, or buy in for an entire year at $100. Of course the live gate, foreign TV money, sponsorships and other factors brings in additional revenue. But sticking with your PPV example, if a million fans were to order a month’s subscription to DAZN for a Canelo fight, it would bring in only $20M.

Canelo and his team knew this when they signed their record-breaking deal with the sports streaming platform in late 2018. And unless they’ve all been sleeping under a rock for the past six months, they’re all well aware that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic with major economic implications. From DAZN’s perspective, the COVID-19 situation falls under an “Act of God” clause.

Here’s a serious question for you, would you rather see Team Canelo take a pay cut during these uncertain economic times to make the fight with Callum Smith (or whoever else) a reality, or DAZN be forced to enter the PPV business? That scenario could become a possibly.

Vasiliy Lomachenko recently agreed to take a pay cut (nearly 25%) as part of Top Rank’s negotiation with Teofimo Lopez, in order to help make their eagerly anticipated lightweight unification bout a reality.

It’s hard to disagree with your sentiments that DAZN has done a poor job marketing their product. And many feel that they overpaid not only to bring on Canelo, but other fighters as well. I’ve been saying all along that they desperately need to bring on an abundance of original content, including podcasts featuring respected members of the boxing media, in multiple languages. It’s an uphill battle for DAZN. But if you were Team Canelo, and you had a long-term deal with the new platform, wouldn’t be in your best interest to do everything in your power to help them survive? A pay cut today could ensure future pay days for years to come.

Josh Taylor drops Ivan Baranchyk during their title bout. Photo by Shabba Shafiq/ SW33TSCIENCE Photography

JOSH TAYLOR’S NEXT OPPONENT, AND THE GREAT HUGH MCILVANNEY

How you doing Dougie?

Two parts to my mail today.

Firstly, what do you know about Josh Taylor’s next opponent, Apinun Khongsong? I’ve watched a few clips on YouTube and he seems decent but his opponents have seemed limited. What I’ve been reading though is that there’s been talk it won’t be an easy fight for Taylor. What do you make of it?

Secondly, just finished reading today’s mailbag and the question about sports journalists got me thinking about Hugh McIlvanney. Over here he is a legend and probably the greatest sports journalist to ever come out of the UK. I know he’s in the Hall of Fame, but wondered how well he was known/regarded on the other side of the pond. I still sometimes read old articles of his, so I’ve stuck in his reporting of the rumble in the jungle for anyone that’s interested and challenge you not to read it in his distinctive voice.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/mar/05/hugh-mcilvanney-muhammad-ali-rumble-in-the-jungle

Cheers, Tom

Fighters out of Thailand always bring a certain amount of uncertainly and unpredictability Tom. From my experience covering the sport, they can almost always be counted on to be rugged and tough as hell. Although Khongsong’s resume is less than stellar (to put it nicely), he left his native land once for an elimination bout last February, scoring an upset win over the favored Akihiro Kondo in Japan. It was the only time that Kondo – who went 12 hard rounds with Sergey Lipinets a few years ago in Brooklyn – has ever been stopped. Was it a one hit wonder, or a sign of his greater potential? Josh Taylor usually enjoys height and reach advantages over his opponents, but that will not be the case with Khongsong. “The Tartan Tornado” would be wise to ignore his questionable record and take him very seriously.

Regarding Hugh McIlvanney, what a writer, and what a career. The Scotsman was it for nearly six decades, working well into his 80’s before retiring in 2016, just a few years before his death. I learned plenty about McIlvanney through my work with now defunct Boxing Monthly magazine (INSERT: https://www.ringtv.com/595623-boxing-monthly-magazine-to-be-discontinued/), as several of the contributors there routinely quoted him.

Although he wasn’t exactly a household name here in the states, he was well respected in the boxing community, mostly known for his work with Ali. The two of them built a strong relationship over the years. After Hugh retired from writing, Ali said, “His words were a window to the lives, the courage, the struggles and the triumphs of the great champions of his time.”

As you mentioned, Hugh was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, located in Canastota, New York, in 2009. It was well deserved and, quite frankly, long overdue.

Mexico’s Marco Antonio Barrera, left, and Erik Morales trade blows in the first round of their WBC featherweight title fight at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Saturday, June 22, 2002. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

LACK OF ATTENTION FOR ANGELO LEO, UFC VS BOXING, “MEXICAN STYLE” LEGACY

Yo Dougie, I hope everything is going well.

Man I was kind of upset nobody was talking about the Angelo Leo fight. I listen to a couple of podcasts but the biggest news of course was Paulie getting canned. I can’t wait to see him against Stephen Fulton. Do you think Leo has an advantage fighting sooner getting some of the rust off? I know it’s too early but I want to see Leo against Ruben Villa in the future.

What do you know about the rumors of Gallo Estrada vs Chocolatito 2 in the fall? I heard they were asking for more money. Usually I get annoyed by this stuff, but if any fighters deserve more cash it’s these two. The smaller-weight fighters often get shafted by promoters and fans.

I think I figured out why some boxing fans are hating on boxing so much and praising the UFC, it’s because they’re UFC fans but they don’t know it yet. If you buy a PPV that has an undefeated champion against a man who was never a champion and has over 10 losses, you’re a fan. I’m not saying that’s all the UFC has been showing, I heard they’ve been having some good match ups, but I’m just bringing up that fact. I can sit and watch two evenly matched B-level boxers like Sam Eggington and Ted Cheeseman because I’m a diehard boxing fan.

Also I wanted to know what you consider as the “Mexican Style”. When I think of it, I think of Salvador Sanchez, Eric Morales and Julio Cesar Chavez. They have great defense and upper body movement, block punches, and last but not least they know how to cut off the ring. Every fighter that comes forward fans consider that Mexican Style, but all they do is walk in bounce their shoulders for a second before eating 10 punches. Brandon Rios for example. Don’t get me wrong, for the first three rounds he would look good, but after that he was stiff as a board.

Alright Dougie, hope you have a great weekend.

Joey in Pomona

Good points regarding Angelo Leo (20-0, 9 KOs), Joey. It’s a shame that his breakout win over Tramaine Williams for a vacant junior featherweight title was overshadowed by the Paulie Malignaggi news. Before testing positive for COVID-19 and being replaced by Williams, many favored Stephen Fulton to beat Leo when their fight was originally announced. Leo-Fulton should hopefully take place by the end of the year. If and when it does happen, it’ll be interesting to see how opinions on the matchup will have changed. Leo would not only hold a slight advantage in terms of activity (as you mentioned), but he’s beaming with confidence right now. A few years ago, having just arrived in Las Vegas to train at the Mayweather Gym, he was sleeping in his car. Now, he’s got a world title. I like your proposed fight between Angelo Leo and Ruben Villa too, that would be fun if it were held in/around Los Angeles.

Negotiations for a rematch between Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada began in March. Some boxing reporters tweeted that it was a done deal for as early as July, but obviously those reports were jumping the gun. Now, we’re hearing October from promoter Eddie Hearn. But rumor has it that Chocolatito wants $1M+ for the fight. Under normal circumstances, I’d say that’s reasonable. But in the current landscape, with no fans allowed at sporting events, the lack of live gate revenue would make that purse a tough one for Hearn to cover. We shall see.

Regarding your UFC comments, I assume you’re referring to the recent PPV event headlined by UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal, who now has 14 losses and is largely overrated by MMA fans and media, in my humble opinion. But the fact is, he moves the needle. I never like to go down the “boxing vs MMA” rabbit hole, that’s a subject that’s been beat to death. As far as I’m concerned there is plenty of room for both sports, and nothing wrong with being a fan of both. However, I have noticed a recent increase in members of the boxing press routinely singing UFC’s praises while shitting on boxing. Some of these people currently hold positions on major broadcast platforms and/or news outlets.

Maybe they’re just closet MMA fans who happen to work in boxing, or they’re talking UFC in an opportunistic way to increase clicks on social media while the boxing schedule is bleak, or both. I don’t know. But many of the same guys who endlessly ripped apart Top Rank’s summer series were slobbering all over Usman-Masvidal, which was essentially a showcase fight for Usman. One was a developmental, weekday series on regular ESPN, while the other was a major, Saturday night event on PPV. Some in the fight media seemed to lose perspective on those differences. I don’t know if this is a new trend, or just a temporary thing until the boxing schedule picks back up to full steam. Only time will tell.

The term “Mexican Style” has really become popular in recent years. Ironically, it was Gennady Golovkin, a native of Kazakhstan, who seemed to bring it to the forefront. But what exactly is Mexican Style? The truth is, it’s probably one thing to you, and another to someone else, and so on. But that’s kind of the fun of it, no? If you think about it in historical terms, the stereotype of the Mexican fighter is not very different than those of the Italian fighter.

Think back to what many consider to be the glory days of boxing nearly a century ago; replace Los Angeles and Mexican with New York and Italian. The old school Italian-American fighters were seen as come forward brawlers who lacked elite-level defense. They were rugged, tough, and iron-chinned. They took on all challengers and were willing to eat two punches so they could land one. They were great fighters, but limited, considered less athletic or “slick” as their counterparts from other ethnic backgrounds.

Sound familiar? The thing is, there are countless examples that destroy those stereotypes! Is there a fight fan on earth that would call Canelo Alvarez a brawler with limited defense? He’s got the best upper body movement in the game today. Juan Francisco Estrada is the consummate boxing technician. To revisit my Italian comparison, the finest defensive wizard of all-time, if not the greatest featherweight of all time, was Willie Pep (born Gugliermo Papaleo).

So to answer your question, when I personally think of “Mexican Style”, I think of a legacy of greatness. I think of a diversity of styles and personalities spanning decades. And I often find myself comparing the Mexican greats to the Italian greats, not only in terms of what they accomplished in the ring, but many of the social issues they faced outside of it.

 

GENNADIY GOLOVKIN IN THE PAST

Afternoon Dougie.

Was listening to a podcast on YouTube the other day, in which Top 10 P4P All Time was discussed. The title (10 fighters greater than Floyd Mayweather) is a bit of click bait but these guys really know their boxing history (particularly the English lad). It’s over an hour long but I feel like you’d get a kick out of it, so included the link in the email.

Reason I bring this up is that at one point they bring up how often fighters of yesteryear would fight and how they fought closer to their natural weight. They used GGG as an example, saying that if GGG fought in the 40’s and kept a 15-20 fight a year schedule that he would have to fight at 175 and wouldn’t make 160. They then go on to suggest that if GGG competed in this era, he would have had a very good chance at knocking out Joe Louis….thoughts?

Who would you suggest that we keep an eye on as an up and coming prospect that may go on to do big things (Vergil Ortiz JNR and Jaron Ennis are too easy picks).

Thanks again for reading and responding, 12 o’clock on Monday and Friday gets looked forward to.

Euan, Dunfermline, Scotland.

Part of the fun and agony of being a diehard boxing fan, or a “Boxing Degenerate” as I call myself, is endlessly arguing over these lists. I get asked quite often where I rank Floyd all-time. And while I personally feel he’s nowhere near the top 10, you can certainly make an argument he’s among the best 25 fighters to ever lace up gloves.

Regarding Golovkin, people forget that he’s not necessarily a “big” middleweight. When he won the Gold Medal at the World Junior Championships in 2000, he did so as a junior welterweight. Now I get it, that was twenty years ago, but Golovkin was 18 years old. He’s comfortably made the 160-pound middleweight division limit since the 2004 Olympics, and obviously for his entire professional career.

Could he have made 160 for a same day weigh-in? I believe he absolutely could have early in his career, but would have had to move up eventually as he grew into his “man years”. Gennadiy would have never been a full-grown light heavyweight though. Super middleweight, which first appeared in 1967, would have been his best fit in the age of same day weigh-ins and 15-round bouts. But obviously that was two decades after the prime of Joe Louis.

Could GGG have bombed out the Brown Bomber? Only two men ever did it. Max Schmeling battered and stopped a young and still developing Louis in 1936, but he stood three inches taller than GGG, with a six inch greater reach, and weighed just under 200-pounds on fight night. Rocky Marciano flattened a past prime, yet still very active and serviceable, Louis in 1951. Interestingly enough, Marciano (born Rocco Marchegiano) stood at the same height as Golovkin, with a slightly shorter reach. However, “The Brockton Blockbuster” is known as one of the hardest-hitting punchers pound for pound in the history of boxing. He carried more fight-changing power than GGG.

So, while I believe a “Golovkin KO’s Louis” headline would be highly unlikely, I certainly believe GGG could have competed at a high level against the best fighters of any era; be it middleweight, super middleweight, or light heavyweight. In my opinion, heavyweight would be a bit of a stretch, though.

 

Michael Montero can be found on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram via @MonteroOnBoxing. His weekly podcast ‘The Neutral Corner’ can be heard on iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio and elsewhere.

 

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