Last year at this time we were getting ready for a mega-showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Saul Canelo Alvarez. The fight was projecting record breaking numbers, and the co-main event between Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse was considered one of the best co-mains to feature such a major card in the past ten years. Boxing, was at it’s best, and Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto hadn’t even stepped into the ring yet. 2013 closed in spectacular fashion with a new star, Marcos Maidana, new contenders, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter, and a whole bunch of fighters getting ready for what was supposed to be another amazing year in boxing when 2014 came to pass.
Well…eight months into the 2014 calendar year, and the most talked about thing lately on the streets among the casual fans is the BKB. It hasn’t been a horrible year, at least not for HBO. Gennady Golovkin is storming the United States creating fans with every knockout victory. The rejuvenated Miguel Cotto has regained his superstar status. Terence Crawford is making some noise. Bernard Hopkins and Sergey Kovalev getting ready to get it on in the fall for what is probably the most anticipated fight of the year. But despite all that, even HBO has had it’s struggles. They haven't shown a ton of fights. The Pacquiao-Bradley showdown flopped in PPV numbers and so did the Cotto-Martinez fight. Mainly because there was just to many PPV’s in the Spring of 2014. Also, Bob Arum is following up these big fights with some not so great ones. Pacquiao’s huge win is being followed by a laughable fight against Chris Algieri, while Miguel Cotto’s big win is going to be followed by a fight against Andy Lee. (Not finalized but likely). As for Golovkin, his promoters and HBO can’t even buy him big fight, literally. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. turned down a $7 million dollar deal to fight Golovkin forcing him to take on Danny Geale.
Where’s the big Canelo-Cotto showdown everyone wanted to see in 2014, and thought they were going to get? Why is Pacquiao facing a guy with 20 fights and only 8 knockouts? And why is that a PPV fight? How come Golovkin can’t get a big fight? Why isn't it Cotto-Golovkin if we can't get Canelo-Cotto?
Despite HBO’s problems they’ve had some big fights to start 2014. And even though guys like Andre Ward, Mikey Garcia, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr are on ice, HBO has made due. Big fights like Marquez-Alvarado, Crawford-Gamboa, and Chavez-Vera all averaged in the 1.2-1.4 million viewer range making them the three most fights watched of the year. That’s about average for a HBO fight. They’ve had their share of mismatches when it came to putting stars like Golovkin and Kovalev in the ring but so far there year as been average.
Showtime on the other hand, has been a complete disaster. At the end of 2013, Marcos Maidana had stolen the spotlight in the boxing world with his major upset over Adrien Broner. Boxing fans were electrified. Showtime and Golden Boy, were on it’s way to taking HBO out as the leading boxing network. With guys like Floyd Mayweather, Marcos Maidana, Amir Khan, Adrien Broner, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Paulie Malignaggi, Zab Judah, Canelo Alvarez, Erislandy Lara, Robert Guerrero, Victor Ortiz, Devon Alexander, Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares, and many more, how could Showtime fail in having a stellar 2014 year? Well they managed too, and big time.
Most of the fighters named above are in the same weight class or around it. Fans were expecting one thing in 2014…mega fights with those big names squaring off against each other in epic showdowns. How could they expect anything less after what Showtime gave in 2013? Unfortunately, what they expected isn't what they have got. Not yet. Instead, it’s been Garcia-Herrera, Thurman-Diaz, Matthysse-Molina, Khan-Collazo, Guerrero-Kamegai, Broner-Molina, and many other ridiculous match-ups that had everyone thinking one thing…what the hell is going on? Sure, some of those fights were fun to watch. And we did get Porter-Malignaggi and Canelo-Lara. But two good match ups was not what was expected. Things are looking great for the fall either as Showtime has started to announce it’s fall cards and already we have Broner and Matthysse in “separate” fights, and we had to watch Danny Garcia murder Rod Salka and Lamont Peterson spar Edgar Santana into a beating. The cards aren't getting better.
Showtime’s biggest star, Floyd Mayweather, let the fans decide who they wanted him to face next at the beginning of 2013. The problem? He gave the fans two opponents that no one cared for him to fight. The numbers showed, as the Mayweather-Maidana fight was considered one of the lowest draws in PPV buys since before Mayweather fought Oscar De La Hoya.
Showtime isn't putting the best against the best and the numbers are showing it. They have had one fight make it to over 1 million viewers this year, and it was a peak, not an average viewing. Other than that, they’ve been hitting the 600-800k range. That’s not great considering they were on the verge of a break out 2014 year. Their numbers are averaging half of what HBO has been averaging. Last year they were much closer. Golden Boy has been in a crisis all year with the resignation of Richard Schaefer, and with most of Al Haymon's fighters not technically being signed to Golden Boy, it has caused a problem for them, which has trickled down into the Showtime problem of making big fights for the fans.
Why is Danny Garcia fighting guys like Rod Salka when he should be fighting guys like Adrien Broner or Lamont Peterson? Why are Matthysse and Broner being showcased again in September when they both had their “tune-ups” in April already? How come they aren’t fighting each other? Why did Keith Thurman fight Julio Diaz?
Showtime is more guilty than HBO of not putting together great fights. And it isn’t always the networks or promoters faults. And despite what many think, it’s not entirely Al Haymon’s fault. Every one plays their part, including the fighters. They don’t have to green light their opponents. They can take some of the blame. Showcase fights are sometimes needed in boxing. Haymon does that better than anyone. Build a big fight up, then when it comes to fruition it’s bigger than it could have been. However, sometimes this back fires. Sometimes, the Showcase fighter loses the showcase fight. That hasn’t been the problem in 2014 for Showtime though. The right guys are winning. The problem has been that it’s been a showcase “year” for them. With so many fighters at their disposal there is no excuse to have the type of year that they are having.
And let us not forget the Cold War. Haymon’s guys still aren’t being considered as opponents for HBO fighters. Some purse bids may change that in 2014 however the blockade that is set up now prevents a lot of good fights from happening. The Cold War may be thawing but we have yet to see it and likely won’t until 2015.
2014 is looking like it’s going to the normal boxing years that have passed over the last decade. It’s going to end up being an average year. The problem with that is boxing needs to have above average years. Every year needs to be like 2013 because it’s a niche sport. It’s a sport that needs to keep the limited amount of fans that they have interested. If they can’t keep the fans that they got, then how is it expected that more fans will come to follow boxing again. With the cards that Showtime has been having, and the lack of fights that HBO has been putting on, this year has been a huge step back for the sport. The fans want the big fights to be made. They want them now.