LAS VEGAS — It's common in boxing for promoters and managers to say one thing and do the other. Standing by one's word apparently isn't a job requirement.
Let's hope, though, that Oscar De La Hoya remembers to stand by his words of Saturday night.
The president of Golden Boy Promotions and part-time fighter vowed only minutes after Floyd Mayweather Jr. had stopped Ricky Hatton in the 10th round at the MGM Grand Garden that 2008 would continue the second-half trend from 2007 of matching the best fighters against each other instead of putting them in showcase fights.
De La Hoya knows a bit about how showcase fights can backfire on a promoter.
His last three bouts were against Mayweather, Ricardo Mayorga and Bernard Hopkins.
They sold 2.5 million, 975,000 and 1.1 million pay-per-view units respectively.
But the fight before the Hopkins fight was a showcase doubleheader in which Hopkins faced Robert Allen and De La Hoya met Felix Sturm. Nobody wanted to see Hopkins against Allen or De La Hoya against Sturm. They did want to see De La Hoya against Hopkins.
De La Hoya is boxing's top draw, but that doubleheader only managed 350,000 pay-per-view sales. That's good for most fighters, but it's dreadful for someone like De La Hoya. Let's hope De La Hoya, promoter Frank Warren and the folks at HBO Pay-Per-View remember that disaster as they negotiate a Hopkins fight with Joe Calzaghe.
HBO owes Calzaghe another bout on the network and has said it would be willing to broadcast a Calzaghe fight with Winky Wright in March.
Anyone who was at the Mayweather-Hatton weigh-in Friday knows the passion that exists for a Hopkins-Calzaghe fight. The 6,000 British fans who were at the weigh-in booed Hopkins lustily and roared their approval each time Calzaghe raised his hand. I suspect they want to see a Calzaghe-Wright fight as much as they would want to get a root canal.
Fortunately, Wright's ridiculous demand for a $6 million purse — about $4 million more than he's worth for that bout — should kill any thought of that occurring.
De La Hoya and Warren, who promotes Calzaghe, need to spend quality time together in the next few days to put together the fight with Hopkins.
"We really hope we can go straight to Hopkins (with Calzaghe)," HBO's Kery Davis said. "Contractually, we owe Joe an HBO fight and if he chooses to go that route, we said we would accept Winky as an opponent. But we're definitely hoping that Joe says he really wants to make the fight with Bernard and that the sides can make a deal. That fight would be our preference, but it's never as easy to do these things as it would seem."
If either side gets tempted to consider other opponents, all they need to do is look at the disaster that Showtime has made of a potential Chad Dawson-Antonio Tarver light heavyweight title clash.
For some reason, Showtime has seemed to believe that Tarver deserves a series of soft touches before meeting Dawson.
In June, Tarver fought club fighter Elvir Muriqi on Showtime on the same card in which Dawson defended his WBC title against Jesus Ruiz. But instead of putting Tarver and Dawson together in their next bouts, Showtime then fed Tarver an even worse opponent than Muriqi, pairing him with Danny Santiago on Dec. 1.
So after giving Tarver two easy touches, you'd think Showtime would be finally ready to make the Dawson-Tarver fight, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong, though. It wants to make a doubleheader with Tarver fighting fellow Floridian Jeff Lacy and Dawson defending against ex-champion Glen Johnson before finally matching Tarver with Dawson.
Basically, what they want to do is force you to watch Tarver fight three bouts, two of which were against stiffs and one against a fighter making a comeback who would be moving up to light heavyweight for the first time instead of making the fight the public would want to see.
And it's hardly a guarantee that Tarver could beat Lacy based on how ordinary he looked against Santiago.
Taking three bouts to get to the one that the public wants to see is a trend that needs to stop. And the way to stop that is for the public to stop supporting these wretched cards.
The best way to let Showtime know you don't want this kind of dreck is to cancel your subscription to the network.
If it loses subscribers who are interested primarily in its boxing content, its executives will clearly get the hint and make certain to offer more compelling fights.
Hopkins-Calzaghe is a compelling fight. I wish it could be on regular HBO instead of pay-per-view, since the fans wouldn't have to pay additionally for it, but one of the game's harsh realities is that events like this will wind up on pay-per-view more than 95 percent of the time.
Still, there will be intense interest in the bout, though it's hardly going to match the level of interest in Mayweather-Hatton. Hatton has a far more passionate following among the British public than Calzaghe, and Mayweather generates more interest among fans than Hopkins because of his status as the game's top talent.
But it's an intriguing fight and one that would do well at the gate and on pay-per-view. De La Hoya needs to use his influence to make certain the fight gets made. He has no excuses if it doesn't get done.
- Oscar De La Hoya
- Joe Calzaghe
- Bernard Hopkins
- Ricky Hatton