Wednesday September 27
THE MANE MEN IN VEGAS
As the main protagonists from Saturday’s Las Vegas showdown said their last(ish) words at the final press conference in a ballroom inside the MGM Grand, the over-riding question was a simple one: What animal could beat a lion? You see, Jermell Charlo had described himself as a ‘motherfucking’ one.
Canelo responded by conceding that he could not think of an animal that could beat a lion, but whatever could, he is it. Disappointingly, neither man acknowledged that such a showdown is totally dependent on terrain, of course. A crocodile, for instance, would probably do the business in a swamp but would come unstuck on the savanna. The point is, Canelo and Charlo said they were going to win and everyone went home happy. For clarity, these two will be fighting in a ring.
There was a time when these pressers involved about 15 people taking turns on the podium to thank each other. Mercifully, those days are gone but by this point even the fighters are tired of talking despite having a pay-per-view to sell. You’d never catch a lion in a press conference anyway.
Thursday September 28
There are strong rumours that Showtime could be about to follow HBO out of boxing despite an incredibly strong 2023. HBO called it a day back in December 2018 but Showtime have been plugging away ever since. It looks like the merger between Showtime and Paramount+, however, means that boxing will fall by the wayside. On Thursday, Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza sat down with me to discuss it but did his very best to flat-bat all the questions about the future. “In trying to navigate this new model,” he said. “There are going to be some changes along the way. Whether boxing is one of those changes remains to be seen.”
The (totally unsubstantiated) rumours on the ground were that the news could be confirmed as early as next week and the only reason they are not announcing before then is because it would put a pin in the promotion of Canelo-Charlo on Showtime pay-per-view.
For those of a certain age, a lack of boxing on either HBO and Showtime would certainly feel strange, the end of an era of sorts. Just another reminder of the crushing and inescapable passage of time. That and the fact we will probably have to download another app.
Friday September 29
It seems there are not too many good news days in boxing at the moment but Friday was one of them as it was announced that Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk have finally agreed to fight. There was no date included in the announcement, because Fury has to fight Francis Ngannou first, so the announcement basically confirms that the duo have agreed the staggering amount of money they are happy to accept.
December 23 has been floated as a potential date and I understand that is preferable to the money men as the FIFA Club World Cup final, also taking place in Saudi, is the day before. Co-promoter Bob Arum told me on Friday: “The fighters are so happy with the money they are getting that they would fight on Christmas day, believe me, good Christians they may be.”
Appropriately enough, everyone agrees that it is a man called Turki who has been the key to the deal. “Thank you to his excellency Turki Alalshikh and the General Entertainment Authority,” Frank Warren Tweeted. After well over 40 years promoting boxing, he is among the men to truly hit the jackpot here.
Saturday, September 30
ALL ABOUT FLOYD
There was a reasonably excruciating inter-lude during the post-fight press conferences in Las Vegas when Floyd Mayweather and his protégé, Curmel Moton, made their way to the media tent, which was just about still standing despite mad winds in the desert.
Speaking of hot air, in what was supposed to be a chance for the media to question the 17-year-old about his emphatic debut win, most of the next 15 minutes or so were taken up by Mayweather waxing lyrical about various topics that ranged from the correct pronunciation of ‘Nike’ to why he is the greatest boxer of all time via a strange suggestion that journalists should visit fighters in the gym and then follow them home. All a bit weird, really.
Little Curmel, though, just stood there grinning.
Was this Mayweather wrestling away from his teenage charge some of the post-Canelo night glow by assuming centre stage at the presser?
Or was it just a case of a man who used to receive all the adulation who could now not resist the urge to have a spray at the podium on fight night, just like old times?
Maybe it was a bit of both. Anyway, the point is, it’s ‘Nai-key’, or so we are told.
Sunday, October 1
THE MORNING AFTER
There are few stranger places on this earth than Las Vegas on a Sunday morning.
It was a big week for the place: Before Canelo-Charlo, U2 opened that massive new Sphere thing on the Friday night, the same day police finally charged a bloke with the September 1996 murder of rapper Tupac Shakur, which happened halfway down The Strip as Tupac was fatally shot in his car hours after attending the Mike Tyson vs Bruce Seldon fight at the MGM Grand.
Even so, Sundays are always the same: the shows are over, the parties have finished and the neon Las Vegas machine has separated you from all your money while persuading you how much you enjoyed it all.
Across the Pond, there were more accusations about a different kind of money displacement as Carl Frampton launched his autobiography, cunningly titled Carl Frampton: My Autobiography, which describes in detail his account of why his relationship with his former manager Barry McGuigan broke down.
‘Chapter Eight: Frampton v McGuigan’ accounts for nearly 20 per cent of the entire book.
Given how close they had once seemed, it’s all about as sobering as a Sunday in Sin City.
Monday, October 2
I’m not sure there has ever been a boxing match that has been written about more without ever happening than Anthony Joshua against Deontay Wilder. But on Monday, Eddie Hearn said both men will have been pressed into finally making it happen by the news that Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk has now been agreed.
“It just makes everybody want to do more,” he said from his office. “When a big fight gets made, it’s great for boxing. Our turn is Joshua-Wilder; that’s the fight we must make. AJ and Wilder have probably seen that news and gone ‘we need to get our’s announced now’.”
You sense it will require Saudi money to get it over the line, and will that be forthcoming while Fury-Usyk is still a live fight? Maybe they go to Abu Dhabi or even good old Las Vegas instead. Joshua, it has been confirmed, is back in training and is currently working with Ben Davison. The heavyweight is expected to head back to training camp in Texas with Derrick James once he has solid news on a date, or maybe he might just stay in Blighty with Ben.
EUBANK LAYS DOWN HIS ROOTS
ONE of the UK’s leading super-lightweights, Harlem Eubank, has been steadily plugging away against a backdrop of personal loss. First, it was the tragic death of his cousin and best friend Seb, and then only last month he announced the loss of his father Simon. So the news that he will be bringing televised boxing back to the family’s hometown of Brighton was welcome as Wasserman officially announced the news.
Chris Jnr has never boxed in Brighton and Senior’s last fight there was against Dan Sherry in 1991.
Like Chris Billam-Smith has done along the coast in Bournemouth, consider this the start of an official appeal to have regular boxing in Brighton, a beautiful part of the country and a largely untapped market. Plus there’s fish and chips.
Eubank’s opponent, German Timo Schwarzkopf, is no easy foe and this looks like it could be a cracker to kick things off on November 10. There was a time when Harlem and Seb used to call themselves the ‘Alka-Lions’ – here’s hoping he does better than our lion from earlier this week.