Spence’s victory should force boxing’s hand

Baker Geist Updated
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Watching Errol Spence Jr. land 187 total punches en route to a unanimous decision victory over Danny Garcia Saturday night, one thing stood out. It wasn’t his continued dominance of the welterweight division — as Spence retained the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Council (WBC) titles — or the way he erased all doubts of what a 2019 car accident may have taken away.

No, his victory brought back memories of a day many haven’t forgotten about and boxing should learn from: Monday, May 4, 2015.

Dreary-eyed and waking up $100 poorer, millions of sports fans began workweeks fresh off of the disappointment of the Floyd Mayweather Manny Pacquiao fight two days prior.

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The so-called Fight of the Century failed to produce much action or drama; leading many to feel dissatisfied, cheated and mislead. The anger also began a mainstream tirade against the sport, from which I wasn’t sure it could ever recover.

The particulars are washed away by time, but many national radio hosts devoted large portions of their shows proclaiming the sport’s demise. I called into one, in an attempt to offer some sort of logical explanation for what or why the world saw what it saw, but I knew it the argument was not winnable.

A fight that should have happened in 2009 or 2010 didn’t happen until 2015 — after more fights and the general effect of aging took away what should have been a memorable fight to add to boxing’s storied history.

The sport has now been given a mulligan — an opportunity to redo a superfight that can once again stir mainstream interest for the right reasons.

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Both Spence (27-0, 21 KO) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) champion Terence Crawford — who each sit near the top of many pound-for-pound lists — shouldn’t squander the opportunity.

In the coming weeks, expect boxing media to discuss potential dates and initial discussions between rival promoters Bob Arum and Al Haymon. All those things should and have to happen in the creation of a big fight. However, both the promoters and fighters shouldn’t slow the process with endless stalling over purse splits, drug testing requirements, who walks to the ring first, yada yada yada.

Those things all have their place. After all, boxing is a business, and everyone working in the business should be compensated fairly. However, its important for all to remember that without the fans, the business wouldn’t exist.

It’s a fight that should happen in 2021. For that demand to be reality, concessions must be made:

Co-promotion – Think Mike Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis or Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. Allow the pay-per-view arms of two networks — Fox and ESPN — to air the fight.

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Reasonable purse discussions – Any boxer should try to get as much money as possible, so some back and forth negotiation is expected. However, everyone should remember that in the climate of COVID-19, any revenue will likely be earned without a live gate. Arum, Haymon, Spence and Crawford should approach negotiations with a mindset of what can be earned right now, not a fallacy of what could’ve been earned pre-pandemic.

It’s not as though either Arum or Haymon need one journalist’s opinion on how to bring a fight together as they each have a wealth of experience doing so. However, I’m reminded of the quote, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

And in the case of making a superfight featuring two of boxing’s best, no one wants history to repeat itself.

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