Roy Jones Jr. will meet Jeff Lacy on Saturday, though Jones is the first to admit that his days as an active boxer are dwindling.
And while everyone who saw him cageside at UFC 101 last week in Philadelphia assumed he was there to challenge Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight title-holder Anderson Silva to a boxing match, Jones had his own reasons.
He wanted to observe the way the UFC promoted its fight and wanted to see the reaction of the crowd in a bid to determine if he could do anything better while promoting fights for his company, Square Ring.
Jones said he is impressed by the way the UFC stages its shows and the success it has had, and said he wants to learn from it to help improve the customer experiences his company provides.
"People think I'm here to stir up a fight with Anderson, but it's not necessarily that," Jones said. "I'd love to fight him and I love to watch him fight, but I love to watch the fans. I want to see what it is that gets them excited. When I fight, my job is to put on an exciting show for the fans. It's not just to go out and win, but it's also to put on a show and give the fans an entertaining night.
"I'm here tonight to watch these guys and gather more information about what the fans like to see. I want to see what [the UFC does] to keep the fans into the fight. This is what we should be learning. Every boxing promoter should be paying attention. These people are fight fans – and look how much they're into this. My job is to do this type of thing, provide an entertaining product and fill arenas with fans."
Jones said mixed martial arts does a better job of creating stars than boxing does. He said MMA fighters can become stars more quickly than boxers because MMA promoters force them to fight high-caliber guys earlier in their careers than boxing promoters do. As a result, Jones said, MMA fans know and identify with the fighters more so than boxing fans. He noted that there were more than 11,000 fans in the seats at the Wachovia Center for the first fight, more than four hours before the main event.
In boxing, the crowd almost never arrives in the arena until just before the main event.
"They know these guys and they follow them religiously; but in boxing, if it's not Roy Jones or Oscar De La Hoya or Floyd Mayweather, they don't watch," Jones said. "A regular boxing match, without a star like that, they see as boring. In boxing, nobody is going to tap out because there's blood or they're about to get choked out and they look like they're about to die. It creates some excitement.
"We have a great product in boxing, but we have to find a better way to promote it and make it exciting for our fans. And we have to go out and find the fans we've lost and tell them we want them back. Obviously, [UFC president] Dana [White] and his people have come across a formula that is working. I think as a boxing promoter, I need to look at all avenues and see if I can take some of the things that are working here and implement them into my promotions."
I'll have more on the Jones-Lacy fight on Yahoo! Sports later in the week. Before we delve into the mailbag and I respond to your questions and comments, I'd like to remind you to follow me on Twitter. You can send me questions for the mailbag there or just choose to talk some boxing.
The news that Vitali Klitschko will defend his World Boxing Council heavyweight championship against Chris Arreola is exciting for boxing because of the mettle both fighters have shown in the past. It is also a fight that will quite possibly sell out the Staples Center in Los Angeles and bring some much-needed positive attention to boxing because of the number of violent deaths to boxers in the last month or so. That is where the excitement stops, though. Chris Arreola stands virtually no chance against Vitali Klitschko. If he decides to train with the dedication needed to get his body into the type of shape he will need to be in and if he does not let fighting in what is essentially his hometown distract him too much, he may make it to the fourth round. Emphasis on may needs to be applied. This is a mismatch that people will pay to see, but it's a mismatch regardless. Vitali Klitschko is, at worst, one of the two best heavyweights in the world. He and his brother, Wladimir, also are on a completely different level than any other heavyweight. If there is any doubt at all at how good Chris Arreola is, look no further than the Travis Walker fight. The build up to the fight will be fun and possibly worth the price of admission itself, but the fight will end quickly and, unless Vitali Klitschko trips on the way to the ring and simply can not fight, quite decisively.
I agree that Klitschko will be heavily favored. And I don't disagree that he'll knock Arreola out. But this is one of the most interesting fights that could be made, and I give both fighters and both promoters credit for getting it done. David Haye did nothing but talk his way to a heavyweight title shot, and when he got the chance to fight a Klitschko, he backed out – and he did it twice, not once. Arreola deserves much respect for stepping up. He has the power to hurt Klitschko and to win the fight if he does hurt him. That said, he's feasted upon second-tier talent most of his career and I expect him to be in over his head against Klitschko.
This is in response to your statement in last week's mailbag that the official who oversaw the wrappings in the Antonio Margarito-Shane Mosley fight shouldn't face criminal charges. I disagree. He did not do his job properly and serious harm could have come to Mosley. If you think it can't, watch the HBO documentary, "Assault in the Ring." Mosley could have been seriously hurt like Billy Collins Jr. was. In that case, it would become criminal. Sorry, but that inspector should never be allowed to oversee fights again.
I understand your point, Arlon, and no one is more in favor of fighter safety issues than I am. Having said that, I would accept a firing if the commission felt his failure to notice the doctored wraps was that egregious. But I think filing criminal charges is going too far. It's not like he wanted to see the hand wraps loaded. It was sleight of hand that prevented him from catching it in the first place. Given that, I'll stand by my stance he shouldn't be charged criminally. If neither Margarito nor his trainer, Javier Capetillo, are being charged, why in the world should the inspector face charges?
I noticed in the Yahoo! Sports boxing rankings that Chad Dawson is No. 7, while in The Ring Magazine, it is Filipino Nonito Donaire. What gives? Which one is more credible, your ranking or The Ring's? I have to admit I believe the latter than your own ranking. No offense meant.
I'm biased and I like our top 10 as well as any out there, but we have similar people voting on each panel. Donaire fights in Las Vegas on Saturday and the rankings are going to be updated next week. We'll see how he fares. Personally, I think Dawson has accomplished more and he is undefeated, so he deserves his ranking. I respect Donaire and think he's a terrific fighter; but at this stage, I don't believe he's accomplished more than Dawson.
Hey Kevin, I've noticed that Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view cards are available for purchase on Yahoo! Sports as well as on UFC.com. I was wondering if you think boxing PPVs will ever be available online? I've seen that sometimes a promoter will stream shows online for free, but I've never seen an HBO PPV available on the Internet. I think it would be a good idea.
I think boxing promoters should be using every outlet to sell their pay-per-views and to not do so is ridiculous. That said, there have been a few pay-per-view cards sold online, but never an HBO show. It's coming eventually, though boxing promoters aren't as willing to take chances as UFC president Dana White.
Watching old videos, I came across some old Naseem Hamed fights. I thought he was a fantastic fighter, but I was wondering how good he could have been with a good brain in his head. I think he had the talent to become one of the best fighters ever, but when he underestimated Marco Antonio Barrera and got beaten, he lost heart and gave up. I think he had the talent to beat Barrera and go on to dominate a number of divisions. Amir Khan has drawn comparisons with Hamed, but in my opinion he is miles behind. What do you think?
Hamed was a supremely talented guy, and I believe he's deserving of induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. That said, I don't think he got all out of his skills. He was a devastatingly hard puncher and had good moves and good feet. But he never really refined his abilities. He could have been better but wasn't. Khan's still a young fighter, and I'm impressed by what I've seen. Too many folks want to discard him because of his loss to Breidis Prescott; they ignore all the other fights in which he's looked good. He's a young guy with talent. He's not as talented as Hamed, but he may go on to have a better career than Nas.
- Vitali Klitschko
- Chris Arreola