Boxing in 2013 had something for everyone

By Rich Mancuso

Boxing fans wanted to see their share of good fights and the year of 2013 certainly was not one for disappointment. And as 2014 emerges there is every reason to believe the year of good fights will continue. Once again, despite all the rumors, there remains little hope for the always talked about Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather meeting.

As the year ends, there have been reports of a rift in the ranks with Pacquiao and his longtime promoter Bob Arum and Top Rank. However, that can be dispelled because an official at Top Rank denied the rumors. Arum has been very reliable in fixing all of the tax issues Pacquiao reportedly accumulated.

There were a record number of fights televised on national television. HBO and Showtime of course led the parade, ESPN, numerous Latino outlets and the venture of Main Events and the NBC Sports Network.  The two major networks that showcase boxing, Showtime and HBO continued their “Cold War” and that in the long run could continue preventing fans from seeing the compelling and mega-fights.

Simply put, Arum and Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy are in their own fight. One will not give in to the other. Arum will not talk to Schaefer with differences stemming from the Mayweather-Pacquiao negotiation fiasco. And through all of this, HBO remains loyal to Arum and Showtime continues their loyalty and arrangement with Golden Boy.

Where is Oscar De La Hoya, the former champion and owner of Golden Boy? Well, Schaefer is doing the talking while De La Hoya remains secluded with his personal issues and there may be a rift between them as well that could develop into a story in the new year.

Mark Taffet of HBO and Stephen Espinoza of Showtime, head honchos of boxing for their networks, said in the past few days that the sport of boxing has revived. Of course, with Floyd Maywether and his mega six fight deal with Showtime, boxing will look good. He is after all, the supposed face of the industry and pay-per-view leader that was once again displayed in the mega promotion of the year with an easy win over Canelo Alvarez. Maywether’s other fight this year was just as easy with a dominant win over Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero.

Regardless, HBO and Showtime had a significant increase in viewership when it came to boxing coverage. That alone should speak volumes as to how the sport has increased in popularity, though Showtime has the appeal with more popular fighters that include the junior welterweight champion, Danny “Swift” Garcia.

And there is the role of social media. Twitter and Facebook, with other outlets have played a role in increasing a reach for boxing fans. Mainstream media has been regulated more to the internet, and seeing back page headlines for boxing is a thing of the past with an increased number of web sites devoted to the sport.

The plan is for Maywether to fight twice in 2014, with a May date reportedly set with former champion Amir Khan, but that fight has not been finalized as it may not be marketable for pay-per-view.   A return bout with Alvarez is out of the question and it has a lot to do with the Mexican not being able to handle a weight at 154.

Rusian Provodnikov emerged as a name in the welterweight division, and Marcus Maidana propelled himself as a top welter with an end of the year fight and win over the previously undefeated Adrian Broner. That leaves more room for great fights in the year ahead, in a division that became the talk of boxing in 2013.

Garcia opposing Maidana in 2014 at 140 or 147 is intriguing, as is Miguel Cotto. The four-time champion easily disposed Delvin Rodriguez in October and is far from finished. Top Rank has confirmed a Cotto-Sergio Martinez middleweight title fight at Madison Square Garden for June 7th.

Manny Pacquiao, fresh off a dominating win over Brandon Rios in China, has publically said he will fight Mayweather and perhaps that is why there are rumors of a split with Arum.  There is talk about another Pacquiao-Bradley fight because the first one, as a majority say, was not a legitimate Bradley win.

Adonis Stevenson continued to make waves in 2013. The light heavyweight wants a showdown with Bernard Hopkins and that could be a fight to see in 2014.  As for the heavyweight division, the same old story except one of the Klitschko brothers, Vitali, announced his retirement earlier this month and vacated the WBC portion of the title.

That leaves his brother, Wladimir the owner of two more of the titles and is there anyone out there to surpass him? In 2013 there was no difference. The opponents were hand-picked, the fights overseas, and America is still without a heavyweight champion.

Andre Ward and Gennady Golovkin had a successful year in 2013 and could be on a collision course for a major fight in the months ahead as the super middleweight division heats up.

And Abner Mares gets his much anticipated rematch for the featherweight title against Jhonny Gonzalez in mid- February.  

Yes, 2013 was a compelling year for the sport. From September to December it was a boxing season with Showtime and HBO giving fans what they wanted. Compelling fights, controversial outcomes and the knockouts. Stay tuned with more to come.

Comment Rich Mancuso:  Rich Mancuso/