By Arne K. Lang
For the second time in the last three years, there will be no boxing in Las Vegas on Cinco de Mayo weekend. The 2018 date was lost when the Nevada Athletic Commission suspended Canelo Alvarez for an adverse PED finding (clenbuterol), pushing his rematch with Gennady Golovkin back into September.
Although there were occasional Cinco de Mayo fights in Las Vegas beforehand, the tradition really began in 1994 when Julio Cesar Chavez rematched Frankie Randall on May 7 at the MGM Grand on a card that included Ricardo Lopez and Jesse James Leija, both of whom were then undefeated.
The seeds were sown in September of 1991 when the aforementioned Chavez met Lonnie Smith at the Mirage on Mexican Independence Day weekend. It hadn’t yet dawned on casino operators that hitching a big fight to a Mexican holiday was a smart idea. Chavez vs. Smith was an eye-opener. El Gran Campeon was such a huge favorite that the event got little advance pub, but the turnout (11,314 paid) exceeded expectations and the Mexican fight fans in town for the weekend were good spenders.
No fight this year on Cinco de Mayo weekend; no nothing. Sigh.
What will boxing look like when the sport revs up again? Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza, the top man in the network’s boxing hierarchy, made some interesting observations in a recent conversation with Marcos Villegas of Fight Hub TV.
“It’s going to be a free-for-all because of the backlog to make up….,” said Espinoza, “so there’s going to be a race for venues, for dates, for television.” But, he notes, boxing will be competing with other sports when the dam breaks which may temper the deluge.
For health safety reasons, notes Espinoza, fight cards will inevitably be smaller. Shows with 10 or 12 fights will be a thing of the past until the pandemic is safely in the rear- view mirror. “We just won’t have the ability to load everything up one big card the way we used to,” said Espinoza.
If there are smaller shows without more events, that will reduce the number of opportunities for boxers coming up the ladder which may deplete the pool of boxers as they abandon the sport in frustration at failing to find work.
“Is time running out for Gennady Golovkin?” read the headline above a story by Skysports senior writer James Dielhenn.
Golovkin badly wants another go at Canelo Alvarez and there is a good chance he will get it in September although it will likely cost him a few bucks in step-aside money paid to mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta. But, as we have noted before, he isn’t getting any younger.
Golovkin turned 38 last month which makes him the oldest current holder of a meaningful title belt aside from Manny Pacquiao and Cecilia Braekhus. He’s six months older than IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalene and six-and-half months older than WBA light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal, the closest in age to him.
If GGG never fights again he will leave the sport with a great legacy, but Father Time is creeping up on him and the longer the rubber match is postponed, the less likely he will make a strong showing against the red-headed Mexican.
The death this past week of Bobby Lee reminded us that the World Boxing Association almost had two presidents with the same,
The late Bobby Lee, a lifelong Hawaiian who lived to the ripe old age of 99, served as the president of the WBA from 1972 to 1974. The other Bobby Lee, still very much alive, was narrowly defeated in a bid for the WBA presidency in 1982, losing the election to Gilberto Mendoza Sr.
Lee didn’t take his defeat sitting down. He promptly went out and founded a rival organization, the International Boxing Federation, pledging that the IBF would rate fighters objectively and transparently, unlike the established bodies whose ratings were negotiable.
Lee delivered that promise Pinocchio-style.
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