It's easy to be negative in boxing. With all the insane politics and cynical matchmaking, it's a wonder any good fights actually make their way to the light. But sometimes boxing does things the right way and things go well.
Here are eight reasons fight fans should be grateful:
Floyd Mayweather's Showtime Deal
Before writing this off as a pro-Mayweather piece of fluff, think about it. The six-fight deal with Showtime may mean as much as $250 million for the controversial fighter, but it means a great deal to boxing fans as well. Six fights mean six events and all the accompanying promotion that goes along with big ticket boxing shows. Even if you despise "Money" Mayweather and prefer to not watch him ply his craft, the money and interest he generates serve as a magnet for other fighters and other quality match-ups. Mayweather's Showtime deal indicates that the premium cable channel is supremely serious about boxing. The deal also forces premium cable rival, HBO, to work harder to compete with Mayweather's new home network-- that means more fights and bigger fights for boxing fans.
Network TV is Back in the Boxing Business
Both NBC and CBS have recently aired boxing shows. While neither network featured any major cards and won't likely be able to compete with the kind of money generated by pay-per-view, the networks taking a second look at boxing programming is a big plus for the sport.
Upset wins are possible in all sports, but no sport feeds off that underdog energy like boxing. In boxing, the biggest of underdogs is just one punch away from victory, one spirited effort away from glory. Barely-ranked Russian featherweight, Evgeny Gradovich and his win over reigning IBF champ Billy Dib is just the most recent example of the little guy coming out of nowhere to shock the world. Australia's Dib was heavily favored and promoted by rapper 50 Cent with plans already being made for his next, higher-profile bout when Gradovich took the title. Few sports have a greater chance of underdog victory-- and that's why boxing is truly the theater of the unexpected.
Amid the laments regarding a dead heavyweight division and the hand-wringing involved in an era ruled by the Klitschko Brothers, boxing's biggest division has started to get interesting again. Granted, this is by no means a golden era for the big men, but there is some genuine intrigue in the division if you move away from the utter dominance of Wladimir and Vitali. Tony Thompson's recent upset of David Price has shaken up the underrated UK heavyweight scene and has even brought some life back into the dying career of Thompson. All throughout Europe, solid heavyweights are springing up and looking ready and willing to put on some decent performances. Even the American scene, dead for the last several years, sports at least a half-dozen names who may not be able to beat a Klitschko, but could definitely get some things done on the trip to the top.
The 29-year-old super middleweight kingpin can already make a case for himself as the best 168 lb. fighter of all-time. Ward has cleaned out one of the sport's strongest divisions and has even walked through the challenge of a visiting light heavyweight champ. Recently suffering through some injuries, the pound-for-pound talent is now healthy and reportedly ready to resume a full schedule. With so much career ahead of him, fans should enjoy the privilege of witnessing one of this era's very best.
While "Bam Bam" is loud and full of technical deficiencies as a fighter, he is also one of the sport's most entertaining characters and compelling fighters. Watching Rios fight is like watching a sanctioned bar brawl and, while purists may point out his lack of skill and finesse, few observers walk away from a Brandon Rios fight without having seen their money's worth of blood and guts battle.
One of the few constants in the chaotic world of boxing is that there is always a steady stream of rough and ready Mexican talent to entertain fans in the lower weight divisions. As Juan Manuel Marquez finishes off a stellar career and walks away from the spotlight alongside fellow Mexican greats like Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera, new stars have emerged. Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. are both major stars in Mexico and produce quality action when they get in the ring. Fellow 20-something Mexican talent Abner Mares, Leo Santa Cruz, and Miguel Vazquez stand closely behind the current tops stars of the Aztec Nation, waiting for their share of the glory. Mexico has, historically, been stacked with honest, earnest talent and that's still true today.
Manny Pacquiao Mania
It's not a pleasant experience to be on the receiving end of an all-out attack from Pacland. Nastiness aside, though, Manny Pacquiao's rise to glory has brought plenty of new fans and fresh energy to a sport that badly needed a transfusion of sorts. While the newcomers brought in by Pacquiao Mania can be infuriating and infinitely frustrating to those with more years in the game, nobody can deny the energy and passion they bring to the sport.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.