Welcome to this first edition of this newsletter experiment I’m doing. You made the list, part of a select few, so thanks. I hope to do several different things with this newsletter: expose you to the upcoming fights worth watching, answer the “why should I care?” and also weed out the garbage for you. Based some of the responses people mentioned I’d also like to introduce you to rising talent to keep your eye on, explain some of the nuances of boxing, and cover topics like the business of fight promotions/divisions/the titles/sanctioning bodies and sport politics.
Right off the bat though I’d love to hear feedback, questions, topic suggestions so I can keep you interested (wow a desire to keep boxing fans interested, what a novel concept). Case in point, I saw on Wednesday that Oscar De La Hoya (promoter, Golden Boy Promotions) urged Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to fight his guy, Canelo (you’ve heard of him right?), next. That’s just a pile of garbage that fight fans do not deserve and it would be an insult to fans to ask them to shell out $60 bucks to watch that. ‘Twas merely a tweet to call the bluff of a son-of-a-legend’s jabbering so no need to dive into that, but c’mon it’s a distraction none the less from what’s really important, GGG. But I digress.
What are we doing?
So why don’t we just start off simple and go over who’s fighting this weekend on TV? Even if you don’t watch this weekend, a little catch up on what’s happening right now, because believe it or not there’s more than just Mannys and Floyds. And with a little sprinkle of Boxing TL;DR each weekend on top of your normal weekend sports consumption, I hope to help you be the one guy at the party that knows a little about these fighters before the next round of Mannys and Floyds are gathering eyeballs by the millions in living rooms and PPV bars across the country. You can totally look like an OG boxing fan. And pro tip: be the guy who shows up early to see more than just the main event. Undercards on the big PPV fight nights are the most important fights determining the direction of careers and often the most competitive real fights, title eliminators.
Jan 13 (PBC on Spike) 9pm ET
Erislandy Lara vs. Yuri Foreman 154 lbs.
Lara has a distinguished amateur career including a gold medal for Cuba at the 2005 World Championships, was a shoo-in to represent Cuba in Beijing at ’08 Olympic Games but used 2007 Pan American Games in Rio as an opportunity to jump ship (unsuccessfully) and defect.
Banned from Cuban boxing after being found by Brazilian authorities, a year later Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara succeeded in this defection attempt (via Mexico and Germany) and began the pro career that would otherwise be nonexistent under Cuban rule.
Lara’s a guy who was somewhat highly touted and talked about in the division but has been more or less quiet as of late. His notable wins are against Austin Trout, Alfredo “Perro” Angulo. Don’t forget his victory over the perennial power of Ishe Smith too, guy’s been around but not an easy opponent for just any prospect, a gatekeeper. Lara’s notable (only) losses are against Canelo and the fight he barely lost in a close decision to the great (I’ll say it) Paul Williams. Lara hype video
Foreman also has an interesting story. Born in Belarus, immigrated to Israel as a boy, Brooklyn based, former world title holder, first Orthodox Jew to win a world championship in some 70 odd years at the time. He’s a tough fighter with a compelling story. In a layoff after an unsuccessful title defense, an injury, and a subsequent loss he actually took time off from the sport and became a rabbi. He’s in over his head in this fight but we’ll see. Yuri hype video [WARNING the footage is old, but totally SFW]
These two super welterweights (also called light middleweight) are fighting for Lara’s IBO title. There is also a WBA “Super” World Super Welterweight title on the line. A lot to unpack here but to add to the diluted alphabet soup of titles, at some point (cir. 2008) the World Boxing Association decided to apply an extra layer of complexity, perhaps to inflate their organizations apparent value, to the title debacle by crowing a “Super” Champion status belt to any champion who holds title belts from two or more of either the WBC, IBF, WBO and its own WBA belt. These other 3 are the only other organizations the WBA recognizes and the 4 mentioned are generally the only sanctioning bodies in the sport that really have a claim at being a real “World Champion” granting organization. Get 2 of these four belts and get crowned with an extra “Super Champion” belt by the WBA (with an attached belt receiving fee of course…). That’s even the case if the WBA “regular” champion in that same division is someone else. In addition to that there are other organizations out there outside of the big four like the IBO or WBU, which aren’t widely recognized, but the bizarre thing in this fight Lara’s IBO title (not recognized by WBA and not a contributor to his “Super” status) is actually the top billing. It just goes to show you that the extra WBA “Super” World Champion belt is a fee generating sham. It’s a mess, I know, I can explain more later in another edition if people need more clarification, as this was a requested topic in the survey. That seems like a long winded explanation and not much of a tl;dr but trust me I’ve been sifting through this BS to get an understanding for years (did that suffice Ryan/Lucas?).
– Anthony Dirrell of Detriot’s Kronk Gym is on this Jan 13th PBC card. He’s a name to pay attention to. Only loss was to Badou Jack who is headlining a PBC card on Saturday
Jan 14 (PBC on Showtime) 9:30pm ET
Badou Jack vs. James Degale 168 lbs.
These super middleweights actually have a lot in common. Similar records (20-1, 23-1), both are world title holders (WBC and IBF respectively). Both are Afro-Europeans in their early 30s, which is not old for boxers in the modern area, in their peaks really. Each has defeated one of the Dirrell brothers.
It will be a good fight between two top quality fighters, but I honestly don’t see either of them amassing audiences in the years to come (it’s hard to market Europeans honestly). There’s a much better chance at super stardom in the US and Mexico markets. Sometimes a British fighter can get to that level in star power (and financially) but there’s a sea of excellent British talent in the UK at the moment diluting Degale’s chances there. In that vein, it’s an even tougher task for Badou Jack to reach that status in the US or at home considering there are 525 people that live in Sweden.
Watch it if you get Showtime (Must be nice!) but you won’t have FOMO having missed this fight between two guys you learned about today.
-Gervonta Davis, super featherweight on the undercard is the name you should know though I think. He faces a tough test against another undefeated fighter, Jose Pedraza.