Boxing Commentary: Cotto vs. Mayweather next? And More!
14.06.07 - By Christopher Roche: Boxing Questions and answers: Cotto vs. Floyd next? Should Canada teach America how to Promote? Will Women's Boxing ever become viable? 1) Given Miguel Cotto's TKO over Zab Judah, should Team Cotto and Top Rank aim for Floyd Mayweather, Jr.?
Article posted on 14.06.2007
After Cotto's performance on Saturday night, there is no doubt that Top Rank is now playing with a stacked deck. Team Cotto is a juggernaut. A colleague, who attended Cotto's open workout in the Bronx, NY, on June 2, reported that when Team Cotto pulled up in their bus, it was as if the Beatles landed in America again. The passion that Cotto generates is incredible. Team Cotto also has big sponsors and crossover marketing, not to mention another classic win on the Eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
On top of that, Cotto is now bi-lingual, and more sponsors are tripping over themselves to get a hold of him. There is little doubt that opposing fight promoters are beating down his door as well for a crack at a huge money fight.
I am sure that Cotto's promoter, Top Rank, already has a strategy in place to keep the juggernaut rolling. Top Rank has been methodical in bringing Cotto along, and they have promoted him perfectly. Cotto has responded to their plan by producing an unblemished record with a huge knockout percentage. Cotto also increased his marketability by aligning himself with Juan "Chi Chi" Rodriguez, who has helped Cotto deal with the spotlight. Cotto's image is a dream for Top Rank, and Cotto's role of the people's champion in Puerto Rico is spreading to America and around the world.
Cotto's main problem right now is that he has too many good options. Among his choices: he can go after Shane Mosley, the winner of the Antonio Margarito vs. Paul Williams bout, or he can buckle up for a superfight with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. The most dangerous opponent is obviously Mayweather, but Mayweather will also bring the most money. The danger in Mayweather is not that Cotto might get hurt in the bout, but rather Mayweather could run around the ring for 12 rounds and make the fight a clunker. Even though Cotto handled a Mayweatheresque opponent in Zab Judah, there is no way that Mayweather's team will agree to a 17½ foot ring, and Mayweather will have more room to roam than Judah did. Further, Mayweather's skill set is higher than Judah's, and conditioning and focus are never a question with Mayweather, as they are with Judah.
When I think of Cotto fighting Mayweather, the image of Hagler vs. Leonard pops into my head. Sugar Ray Leonard, like Mayweather, could box better than anyone in his day. When the Hagler vs. Leonard fight was placed in a huge 22-foot ring, Leonard ran around and frustrated Hagler. Hagler was reduced to stalking the quicker Leonard, and the fight fell into Leonard's lap with a close split-decision. Hagler walked away from boxing after that fight. While Cotto will not walk away from boxing if he lost to Mayweather, it may take some of the steam out of the juggernaut, but if Cotto beats Mayweather, then he will be vaulted to legendary status. Whatever route Team Cotto decides to take, they are assured of huge riches, which are well deserved.
2) Should the USA take notes from Canada on how to promote boxing?
Over the weekend ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" telecast came from Montreal. The show was outdoors, and the ring was covered in the event of rain. The telecast looked very impressive, and the house appeared raucous and packed. I was trying to figure out why the event was such a huge spectacle, and I realized that the fight was planned on the same weekend as the Montreal Grand Prix, which is a Formula 1 event. While Formula 1 is not huge in America, it is the premier motor sports series in the world. The promoters in Canada recognized that fact, and they piggybacked the marquis event to cross promote their boxing show.
As for the fights, the main event was a good one as Herman Ngoudjo earned a split-decision victory over Randall Bailey. The night did have technical glitches, as a huge thunderstorm rolled in, and knocked out the lights for a moment or two. Fortunately, the ring was covered, so the bout had minimal delays. While the night could have been a washout like the Zab Judah vs. Reuben Galvan disaster, proper precautions were taken to avoid that repeat, which was also an ESPN fight.
While shows like Cotto vs. Judah, or Duddy vs. Bonsante are good examples of cross-promoting boxing with ethnic pride events, such as parades, I believe American Boxing should go a step further. I firmly believe that American Boxing shows can be held in conjunction with other sporting events. The ultimate spectacle would be to have a title fight in the same city as the Super Bowl, one or two nights prior to the big game. However, the scale does not have to be that grand to be successful.
Las Vegas, for example, is home to a speedway and a drag strip, and thousands of people flock to the Nascar and NHRA events held there. Those events take place during the day, so thousands of sports fans are free to roam the city at night looking for entertainment. If a promoter invited a few drivers and crews to a boxing show, which took place on the same weekend, the fans would follow. I know that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is a huge boxing fan. At one point, it was reported that Earnhardt, Jr. had a boxing ring in his house, and I have even seen him in the corner of Arturo Gatti. If Earnhardt, Jr.'s sponsors could get involved with the show, I bet he would make an appearance. Thousands of fans would follow.
Those ideas may seem far-fetched, but they are far from impossible. Sports fans are sports fans, and if there are enough of them in one place at one time, they will go to the events, and the whole sport of boxing would benefit.
3) Is Women's Boxing viable as a standalone sport?
I enjoy women's boxing, but I realize I am in the distinct minority. I have seen many excellent bouts, and normally they are technical in nature. The punches are generally straight, and there is not a lot of holding. The only thing that women's boxing does not usually offer is fantastic knockouts. When I watch a women's bout, I do not have the feeling that a knockout can happen at anytime.
Since the going has been sluggish for women's boxing, it may seem impossible for women to reach the success of their male counterparts. However, I believe the secret to success is that cross promotion must take place. Similar to the techniques in the aforementioned Canadian show, I believe women's boxing can crossover into the mainstream by piggybacking other events and through crossover marketing. Laila Ali's participation in "Dancing with the Stars" is a quintessential example of crossing over, and I believe there are more possibilities.
This past weekend, I met a female boxer who was formerly a New York Knicks City Dancer. Her name is Eileen "The Hawaiian Mongoose" Olszewski. Olszewski, who was born Miyoko Kuwaye, is an example of a skilled boxer with model looks. She is an amateur champion, and she is off to a 3-0 start as a professional and is already ranked. She lives in the gym because she is a personal trainer, and she is always in great shape. The question that begs is can she and others like her cross promote their boxing skills to make money outside of the ring, since the money is not available inside of it. This is a phenomenon that women's tennis underwent about ten years ago, and its popularity grew because of what the athletes did off the court. Eventually the off the court popularity of the women brought fans into the tennis center, and now women's tennis is arguably more popular than men's.
It is a shame that women's boxing does not get the credit it deserves, but with the right marketing plan, it may gain traction in the future.
Fight I Would like to See and Why
Manny Pacquiao vs. Humberto Soto. I think Pacquiao should show some brotherly love and go after Soto to avenge the defeat that Soto inflicted on Bobby Pacquiao. In addition, I think it would be a good fight.
Quote of the Week
"A self-made man who worships his creator."-Larry Merchant of HBO commenting on Zab Judah, during the undercard telecast Saturday night.
Injustice of the Week
The injustice of the week is that the boxing public was charged $29.95 for the Shannon Briggs vs. Sultan Ibragimov bout. The only thing that stunk worse than the main event was the undercard.
Injustice of the Week II
The Cotto vs. Judah PPV bout was not offered in High Definition, at least not by my cable operator. I am assuming the bout was not filmed in HD.
Non Boxing Thoughts
Tommy "The Duke" Morrison made his MMA debut in an unsanctioned bout against John Stover. According to an Associated Press report, the rules were bent to favor Morrison, and he knocked Stover out in the first round. According to the report, the fans in attendance booed vociferously.
One of our readers likens boxing to an old man's sport, and he touts MMA as the superior sport. ESPN may agree with the old man part, as their title sponsor for Friday Night Fights is "Just For Men Hair Color".
Larry D. from Gulfport, MS writes:
MMA VS BOXING: First off MMA is more then one style. It's multiple styles, like boxing, wrestling or BJJ for instance. You have to train in all of them before a fight. That's a lot of training, and you have to learn counters for all that. There is just more skill in MMA than boxing. Boxers are one trick ponies. I mean I love boxing, don't get me wrong, but it's my father's sport. I am a 20 year-old from Mississippi. I want to see something new. Something exciting.
I will be taking reader submissions and answering them in this space. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and commentary, and we will include as many as we can. Please include your first name and hometown for publication and type the word "Column" in the subject line; otherwise, we will not publish it. Also, please no attachments or pictures, as we will have to delete them.
*The title of this column alludes to the premier novel of the twentieth century, and it is written by Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway often spoke highly of the sport of boxing, and he participated as both a fighter and a referee. Every other week this column will humbly pay homage to the man who helped glorify the fight game back in its early stages. With a little hard work, the Sun Will Rise Again for Boxing, as together we can restore the sport to the top, one fan at a time. Thank You for reading our column.
The next edition will appear on June 26, 2007.
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