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The Fight Game Exits 2015

Michael Woods

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This was an interesting year in boxing, if not one filled with scintillating in the ring action. We got the fight of the century, the one everyone was pining for, for a good five years, and it Ishtar’d. And of course, 2015 was the year of the attempted Haymonization of the sport; PBC found a home on platforms galore, and attempted to make boxing more of the mainstream sport it hasn’t been since the 1970s. And not to mention, the best fighter of the last ten or so years, Floyd Mayweather, waved adios.

So yes, things happened…but no, superlative fights weren’t at the top of the happening list.

Jim Lampley’s “The Fight Game” looked in the rear view mirror and took a scan backwards at this year in pugilism on Wednesday night, the even of Christmas Eve.

Lampley, the Hall of Fame blow by blow caller, started off by talking about the “largest economic event” in prizefighting history, the stinkeroo that was #MayPac.

We saw a video rehash of clips from various HBO offerings, from Mayweather-Pacquiao money-maker; to the Canelo vs. Cotto tussle, much anticipated but more of a one-sided Canelo victory, and one with a highly measured and technical sheen, to be recalled as a classic; and the hit jobs by Gennady Golovkin and Sergey Kovalev. Brandon Rios was on high ground and then  hit the gutter, and Tim Bradley did a firewalk with Teddy Atlas; Terence Crawford stayed in the public eye a bit and Nicaragua’s mini mayhem provider “Chocolatito” Gonzalez leaped off pound for pound lists of hardcores, to mainstream lists.

Bernard Hopkins and Max Kellerman then joined Lampley to chew on 2015 happenings. First…did the sport get over its #MayPac stinkbomb, was there enough Febreze to dissipate the stench? Yes, said Kellerman, as evidenced by the 900,000 buys for the Canelo win. Hopkins, a Golden Boy exec, said the buy number had his office in high five mode.

They talked about preferences, about people wanting to see action guys versus skill guys, and then the Haymon effort. Are people liking more free fights? There is an appetite for it, but PBC doesn’t have one top tenner in the pound for pound lists, Max said. He called PBC’s material minor league, basically, and then Hopkins said the people want to see the league’s A guys fight each other, not B level record builders.

The Takashi Miura vs. Francisco Vargas rumble, which ran underneath the Canelo/Cotto mainer,  was lauded, and won TGF Fight of the Year.

Then, we heard the origins of Gennady Golovkin, and how GGG clicked hard with Abel Sanchez. The Cali tutor was named TGF Emanuel Steward Trainer of the Year.

The TFG Person of the Year award was won by GGG,  because of how his psychological presence hangs over many events.

Michelle Beadle of ESPN chatted with the baby faced banger. 3G told her that he really hasn’t found himself in any kind of deep water to this point as a pro, “maybe in the future.” GGG spoke of Canelo Alvarez’ win over Cotto, and said the Mexican is a true middleweight, and Cotto isn’t. He said him versus Canelo is “the biggest fight for everybody.” At what weight? That is a question that needs to be answered, he said. Beadle chatted with GGG earlier Wednesday, and said that she finds his sweet visage, coupled with his ability to be a fistic assassin, to be chilling.

Then, Lampley did a TFG top ten. Tim Bradley was 10; then Kell Brook at 9; at 8, Vasiliy Lomachenko; Manny Pacquiao got No. 7; at 6, Terence Crawford, “with a bullet;” Andre Ward is No. 5, but is inactive; Canelo Alvarez has the 4 slot, with his “brains and brawn;” Sergey Kovalev took 3; Gennady Golovkin sits at 2, after dominating David Lemieux; Roman Gonzalez won No. 1.

Max Kellerman then said Ward has frittered away some momentum, and isn’t acting in a pleasing way to any fan, though he still has high regard for his skill set.  He mocked him for pulling out of a fight, and then admitting he wasn’t really truly injured, he just had an inflamed knee, and for eschewing a great payday, which would have been for an easy win against a gimme foe, which he’d pushed for.

GGG, Kellerman said, is a bit more of a blue chip than Kovalev. He then drooled a bit over the heavyweight division, and Bernard Hopkins gave Deontay Wilder some smooches.

Lampley then aimed commentary at the #MayPac, which he termed a “defensive paint job.” He took aim at the testing agency USADA, for giving Mayweather a gimme PED exemption, and identified the effectiveness of VADA, their rival. The Hall of Famer said USADA corrupted the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, and he then listed a load of fighters using VADA this year. He hopes even more fighters use VADA next year, he said.

Lampley said Beadle will not be back, and thanked her for her two years of service. He plugged some upcoming fare and promised to see us again in the new year. His finale adieu was positively cuddly compared to his super-soaker acid blast to end the year in boxing 2014, when it became apparent to him and all that Haymon had been working on a new league for a spell, and was putting his chess pieces on various boards that year with that in mind.

Your thoughts on the show, gang? Did you like the Fighter of the Year pick, and did they get the right Fight of the Year? Who should come in to fill the Beadle chair? Talk to me…

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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