So today is Christmas Day and while not all of us celebrate it or sing praises to the babe in the manger, we can all get in the spirit of the season by not only marking the winter solstice, but also by thinking ahead to a New Year and new beginnings with fresh hope in our hearts. And hey, maybe even making some wishes for what special gifts Santa might bestow upon our favorite combat sport. Yes, this is another example of your now typical, post-modern cultural chaos as we combine a number of different holidays at once and try to make it all relevant to pugilism at the same time. Trust no one is offended!
So here are our Top 12 wishes for what Santa will hopefully leave under the tree for boxing, our most fervent hopes and desires for a new year about to begin, which, needless to say, can’t be much worse than 2016. Or so we hope! And yes, we know, most, if not all of these wishes are of the “dream on” variety, but hey, this is the perfect time for big dreams and ardent hopes and visions of a sport that actually makes sense from time to time. So, a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Crazy Kwanzaa, and a big, fat Happy Holidays to all of our loyal readers! And all the best for 2017!
Top 12 Holiday Wishes For Boxing From The Fight City:
12. Roy Jones Jr. Finally Retires: The future Hall of Famer who once wrote a rap song about himself called “Y’all Must Have Forgot,” appears to have forgotten that boxing is a young man’s game and that all careers must, at some point, come to an end. He is currently scheduled to fight Bobby Gunn in February and we’re all hoping that the match doesn’t come off and instead Jones finally wakes up and decides to move on with his life with a bit of modesty and dignity. Seriously, Roy, you’ve already had your ass kicked by guys like Danny Green and Enzo Maccarinelli. When is this finally going to stop?
11. Fewer meaningless trinkets around fewer waists: This wish is more about things we don’t want, namely so-called title belts. As in there are too many and it’s beyond ridiculous. Boxing has something like 53 weight divisions and 18 sanctioning organizations, which are not content to simply have world titles anymore. No, now we have “international,” and “inter-continental” titles, and “junior” and “regional” and “interim” titles, and who knows what else. Most of us stopped paying attention a while ago, but even so, it’s a problem when boxers who can’t even break into the top 20 of their watered-down weight class walk around with some gaudy belt and call themselves a “champion.” Enough already!
10. No More PBC Soft Touch Fights: Here’s a wish which actually might come true. According to various statements from different sources, Al Haymon and company are planning to unleash in 2017 the full potential of their massive stable of boxers fighting under the Showtime and Premier Boxing Champions banners. No more predictable mismatches, but instead competitive bouts featuring the best taking on the best. If this wish comes true, it could represent a huge boost for the sport. Please, Uncle Al, make it so! Which leads us to ….
9. Adonis Stevenson Gets Ambitious: He is the lineal light heavyweight champion of the world with a dynamite left hand, riding a 15 fight win streak, all of those victories but one by stoppage. But he fought only once in 2016, and while it was an impressive knockout, the fighter who calls himself “Superman” hasn’t taken on a true threat in quite some time. 2017 has to be the year when Adonis finally gets ambitious and starts battling guys like Kovalev, Ward, Beterbiev, Smith Jr. and Barrera.
8. Luis Ortiz Finally Gets A Shot At A World Title: In the eyes of many, the best heavyweight on the planet is not Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder or Wladimir Klitschko, but is instead the 37-year-old, undefeated prizefighter with some 340 amateur wins and the ring skills that come from having been schooled in The Sweet Science on the island of Cuba. Time is running out for the man they call “King Kong.” Can this guy please catch a break and get a shot at the big-time? Which leads us to …
7. A Single, Unified Heavyweight Champion: In times past, when boxing appeared on the wane and the attention of sports fans was wandering away from the squared circle, your wise sage of the fight world would say, “Don’t worry. As soon as we get some new excitement with the heavyweights, everything will be peachy again.” And they were right. For example, in the late 1950s, with Rocky Marciano retired and live audiences dwindling away thanks to television, people were seriously concerned the whole sport might dry up and blow away. But then along came Muhammad Ali and suddenly boxing was bigger than ever.
Well, we’ve been waiting for the heavyweight division to provide some major league excitement for what seems like eons now and we know it’s not going to happen until we finally get a world champion who is worthy of the title, not to mention exciting in the ring and interesting outside of it. So please, boxing holiday gods, can we finally get some movement at the top of the beanstalk? As in a tournament where the best big men all fight each other and we finally have that jewel in boxing’s crown, a truly undisputed heavyweight champion of the world?
6. Roman Gonzalez Gets The Attention He Deserves: With few exceptions, people in the know in boxing regard Roman Gonzalez as the finest all-around boxer, pound-for-pound, on the planet. He is undefeated, has held world titles in four different weight classes, and has beaten a long list of elite-level prizefighters. But outside of his home nation of Nicaragua and hard-core boxing fans, few even know who he is. It’s time for that to change and pronto. We want the entire sporting world to sit up and take notice of the man they call “Chocolatito.” He is a rare and special talent, a boxer who Lee Wylie calls “the premier pressure fighter in the sport.” He deserves to start headlining major fight cards in the U.S. and getting way more love from the sports media in general.
5. A Multi-Million Dollar Fund To Help Injured Fighters: Boxing in the state of New York recently got a major scare when new regulations put forth regarding liability insurance resulted in various promoters saying they could never afford to stage cards there ever again. The new laws dictated that all fighters be protected financially in the event of a traumatic brain injury and thus promoters were on the hook for thousands of extra costs in insurance premiums. The situation points to a larger problem that needs to be addressed at all levels, namely financial assistance for boxers who do suffer a life-altering brain injury. Simply put, promoters and sanctioning organizations should create a fund whose sole purpose is to help the families of boxers such as Magomed Abdusalamov or Nick Blackwell. The sport needs to come together and take care of its own. Here’s hoping 2017 is the year when that happens. Which leads us to …
4. More Peace And Love Between Boxing’s Power Players: This is a perennial wish that will likely never go away, but it’s essential for the sport that all of the different powers-that-be — Top Rank, PBC, HBO, Matchroom, GYM, Showtime, Golden Boy, Main Events, Roc Nation, Eye Of The Tiger, etc. — make the effort to work together more often to make boxing better and to make the most meaningful fights happen. While there have been some promising signs that a thaw is slowly taking place in what was once referred to as boxing’s “Cold War,” there’s still a long way to go. Here’s hoping more collaboration is on the way in 2017. Which leads us to …
3. The Fight City Holiday Dream Fight Wishlist: Hey, 2017, can we make these matches happen? Puh-leeeese? Gonzalez vs Inoue; Golovkin vs Canelo; Frampton vs Rigondeaux; Haye vs Joshua; Lomachenko vs Salido II; Gonzalez vs Cuadras II; Kovalev vs Ward II; Crawford vs Thurman; Usyk vs Huck; Khan vs Brook; Kovalev vs Beterbiev; Pacquiao vs Porter. What a year that would be!
2. No more ridiculous speculation and talk about Floyd Mayweather vs Conor Mcgregor. And while we’re at it, no more ridiculous speculation and talk about MayPac 2.
1. And finally … a huge truckload of patience for boxing fans. As always, we’ll need it.