Nov 28, 2010

Weekend Fights: HBO vs Showtime

So this is the fourth straight weekend with good fights in a row. And when it comes down to it, you have to measure up the two main channels promoting fights. If you look back on the last couple of years, it’s been a close fight, but when it comes to 2010, well Showtime has fallen a bit behind in the cards. Though it’s nowhere near a shutout, and though there have been dud fights from both channels, when you check out this last weekend specifically, HBO beat out Showtime.

On Showtime you had Andre Ward vs Sakio Bika and Arthur Abraham vs Carl Froch. Before going in depth to the fights, let’s call things how they are. The Super Six Tournament was a good idea in theory but hasn’t panned out the way most people would have wanted. The reasons for this might be many and circumstances have a lot to do with it. Simply put, home cooking, a term now being abused on this channel has played a huge factor in close fights and if it’s your hometown, you’re obviously going to get the benefit of the doubt. Add to this that the stars of the tournament have not delivered and that people who weren’t given much of a chance are being dominant, and you see why the matchups are interesting. If you’d asked me who I would have picked to win, I would have answered Mikkel Kessler and as we saw, Andre Ward had another thing coming. If you ask me again today, I pick Carl Froch mainly because even though Andre Ward has looked solid if not dominant, I’m not a fan of pushing for the guy who’s headbutting and throwing lowblows, and for however dominant he might seem, his fights have been controversial due to this. OK, so the Super Six ain’t that super, having three people bow out due to injuries, bad knockouts and plain ole disinterest. That being said, group stage 2 was a success while group stage three has had its fair share of theatrics. Going into the semi finals, you have Carl Froch, Andre Ward, Arthur Abraham and Glen Johnson. Johnson got in by knocking out a green looking Allan Green who definitely looked outclassed by a large margin in each of his two outings, so I can’t say I’m sad to see the guy go. Glen Johnson, you just gotta love the guy. At 41, he has an attitude you can’t help but admire because he won’t stop unless you stop him. But apart from that warm fuzzy feeling Johnson tends to inspire in boxing purists, I don’t see him having that much of a shot. Seriously, knocking out Allan Green isn’t the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. Second off, you have the Tasmanian Ward. Affable, nice but sloppy to the point where you wonder if he shouldn’t be in mixed martial arts. The good thing about Ward is that he learns each time out and my feelings against his head and lowblows aside, the kid has shown a lot of talent and class. Then you have Carl Froch, whom I pick to win the thing at this point and you see a guy with a good jab, a solid right hand and the will to box and move or trade. He outclassed Arthur Abraham to the point of embarrassment and in his last two outings, Arthur Abraham has gone from division and Super Six favorite, to chump.

Having said that, what’s the problem with the names above? Simple. If you’re not a boxing fan, you have no idea who the hell I was just talking about and though the talent is there, people have had a hard time getting involved in this tournament because there aren’t big names (Jermain Taylor bowed out after being savagely knocked out by Arthur Abraham). The other factor is that for a tournament, it’s too long. This isn’t a K1 tournament where you have the guys fight in one night, and though it’s a bit excessive to ask for, if you want to shake up the boxing world, having two matches in one night, might be a gimmick worth exploring. Instead of 12 round fights, 6 or 8 round fights with longer rounds. Anything to try and shake things up and get the public’s interest, because the name power is completely absent. Also, taking 2 years to complete isn’t going to work and has demonstrated that the public’s interest will not hold for that long.

So back to this weekend, you had a Super Six Matchup and then you had Andre Ward VS Sakio Bika. The Abraham-Froch match looked great in paper but only served to show that Arthur Abraham is one dimensional, cannot adapt and fooled many boxing fans and analysts into giving him a more than fair shot in this tournament. I don’t see him adapting and though and if he gets Andre Ward, consider Abraham out of the picture. Lopsided victory for the better man, better boxer and better entertainer in Carl Froch. Second off was the Ward VS Bika fight. It was a messy ass brawl and though it showed heart from both participants, it didn’t win boxing any new fans.

Then you go over to HBO.

HBO had a triple header featuring prospects in 3 weight divisions and two of those bouts including potential Pacquiao opponents. First off was a 130 lbs. match between Jason Litzau and Celestino Caballero. Everyone wrote of Jason Litzau and didn’t give the guy a chance in hell and if he bet on himself, he’s a very rich man (the fight had 13-1 odds and he pulled out a split decision). Litzau isn’t a glamour boy by any means, but he’s a tough kid and I’d actually seen him in his losing outings against Robert Guerrero and Joel Casamayor. Props to the kid and then some. Second off you have Andre BErto in the 147 lbs. division who was given the “task” of Freddie Hernandez. 57 seconds into the match, Berto lands a thudding right just over the guard of Hernandez and he gets to go collect a check for less than a minute’s work. The thing is that Berto has caught a lot of flak for not facing quality opposition and this fight does nothing to help him out. Maybe the fight could have gone a bit longer but the outcome would have been the same. He’s now talking about facing Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto and then Manny Pacquiao and if he takes those fights in that order and looks good in all of them, then we have a potential opponent for Manny Pacquiao. But that’s quite a big if. For the main course, HBO served Juan Manuel Marquez Vs Michael Katsidis. On paper, Katsidis had no way of winning, but in the ring, the Australian native showed skill, tenacity, aggression, heart and a great left hook that actually floored Marquez in the third. But there’s a reason why Marquez is my favorite fighter. After he took a KO blow on the chin, he just got right back up and to me even won the remainder making it a 9-9 round. Subsequently, he showed why he’s the #3 pound for pound boxer in the world, connecting combination, after combination of punches in bunches that all seemed to find their mark (an overall 52% connect rate). There was drama, there was skill, there were punches and there was action the likes few people get to see and Katsidis should feel extremely proud of his performance because he excelled most expectations and was not only in there to slug it out, he was there to win.

So it was HBO’s 2 ½ matches vs Showtimes 2, and HBO scored a convincing victory. HBO had more drama, more competitiveness and better matchups… period.

We’ll see what happens the next time these two channels face off, and seeing the calendar, that isn’t far away.


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