HBO sports television seems to have an obsession with planning the future instead of just letting it play out. This notion that they can create a superstar and force feed us with their idea of scripting the sport of boxing. The truth is that HBO has benefited more from unexpected events than they have from what they’ve planned. Their idea of a plan is over paying a fighter to fight scrubs and overmatched opponents and use their cheerleaders on the air to sell that fighter. But the truth is there are so many intricacies in the sport of boxing. Fighters aren’t making a living in this sport just to be another character in this cosmic game that HBO has planned. In a sport where grown professionals are throwing punches at each other, things can change fast.
The beauty of the sport is the unexpected; but there seems to be a fear that HBO carries with the unexpected. They view fighters as an investment rather than what they should be; simply as a prize fighter. If HBO had it their way there are many amazing stories that have been beneficial to HBO, that we would have never known of. Here are those examples; and how they changed the entire course of boxing history in a way HBO would have never expected.
11. Danny Garcia knocks out Amir Khan
The Plan: HBO had this idea that they were going to sell Amir Khan as an elite fighter who was at the same level of a Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. His lost to Prescott was ignored since he wasn’t with renowned trainer Freddy Roach at the time, and his loss to Peterson was undervalued since there was a positive test for a performance enhancer that cancelled the rematch.
The script: It was very clear; Amir Khan was far superior to Danny Garcia and he was going to show that in the ring. HBO was likely hoping Khan looked spectacular, as I’m sure they expected him to, so a match with Mayweather could be worked on.
What Happened: Max Kellerman went as far as to say that Danny Garcia was submitting to Khan simply because he offered to touch gloves after the second round. This knockout victory of Danny Garcia was not in the script, but it’s given HBO a young Junior-Welterweight to showcase to the world in many compelling fights. Khan is not the elite fighter that HBO had hoped for, but he’s still an exciting fighter that can make for exciting fights.
10. Marcos Maidana exposes Victor Ortiz
The Plan: The idea was to showcase Victor Ortiz on HBO; this time not on the undercard of a big event but his own showcase on the network. While the idea of it wasn’t a bad thing, they were completely overlooking Marcos Maidana and ignoring his chances of winning the fight. They featured Victor Ortiz’s dad more than they did Marcos Maidana.
The Script: Victor Ortiz was to be the next Mexican-American rising star that was going to carry the torch for boxing, in the wake of De la Hoya’s recent retirement. The kid was already packing the Staples Center with thousands of fans, and this showcase fight over a tough Argentine fighter was going sell Victor Ortiz to the public.
What Happened: We had a war. Victor Ortiz could have fought a better fight, but with his kind of power he probably thought it would have been enough to win the fight. Marcos Maidana beat Victor Ortiz to submission, forcing him to quit. This forced Ortiz to go back to the blackboard and slowly rise up the ranks to become the unpredictable, emotional train wreck we’ve come to know today. Marcos Maidana, while being a limited brawler, has been involved in some amazing wars since then and has provided boxing fans with exciting fights on HBO and Showtime.
9. Timothy Bradley decisions the Pac-man
The Plan: HBO mainly followed Top Rank’s lead here. But it seemed like the general feeling was to keep selling the fight everyone wants to see between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. While Bradley was recognized as a credible opponent, there seemed to be a general consensus that Pacquiao had to win the fight.
The Script: While HBO did make clear in their promotion of the fight that Timothy Bradley was a live underdog, the script was more sold to the public during the live telecast. While I personally had Manny Pacquiao winning the fight 8 rounds to 4, HBO convinced most of the world that it was a one-sided bout where Bradley won maybe one round.
What Happened: As HBO’s dismay the judges gave the fight to Timothy Bradley, which clearly bothered HBO to the point that they promoted Manny Pacquiao as the real winner on the broadcast “The Fight Game”. While Bradley is the Welterweight title holder now, he appears out of the picture at the moment while Pacquiao now has a fourth fight with Marquez lined up. Ironically, HBO completely ignored the consensus when most people felt Marquez had defeated Pacquiao.
8. Ricardo Mayorga knocks out the Viper
The Plan: Vernon Forrest was coming off a victory over previously undefeated Shane Mosley, speaking of unexpected events. But even after coming off the unexpected they decided to still try and script this whole ordeal. With names like Oscar De la Hoya and Felix Trinidad now gone from the weightclass, the Welterweight kingpin was ready to be showcased on the network. The 6-fight contract Forrest had just signed said it all.
The Script: Vernon Forrest was to be showcased to the world as the new dominant Welterweight Champion. The tough Nicaraguan fighter looked tailor made for the Viper. Vernon Forrest was going to start his reign as the Welterweight Champion of the world. While there was nothing wrong with this; Vernon was after all a fighter who was avoided by the big names in the division up until that point. But the overlooking of Ricardo Mayorga was ridiculous- especially after his victory over Andrew Lewis. From the opening bell the story was all about Vernon Forrest, trainer Rodney Shields, his fights with Shane, how he needs to use his jab… ect. Even after Forrest’s knockout loss, Jim Lampley went on a rant about how he didn’t understand how Mayorga won if he is so predictable.
What Happened: Ricardo Mayorga not only invited Forrest to hit him; he took the punches flush and then managed to knock out the then undefeated Champion. Ricardo Mayorga would go on to become one of boxing’s most controversial figures ever, and be featured on some big box office money makers with his fights against Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya. Vernon Forrest lost a close decision to Mayorga in the rematch, and then stayed away from the sport for two years to eventually win a title at 154. Unfortunately Vernon Forrest was having a problem landing a big fight after his victory over Sergio Mora in their rematch, and then was shot by some cowards who were later found guilty for the crime by court of law.
7. Shane Mosley stops the Tornado of Tijuana
The Plan: After Antonio Margarito’s victory over Miguel Cotto, Max Kellerman went live on the air and suggested that Floyd Mayweather Jr is avoiding the new Welterweight kingpin. Mayweather had announced a retirement that no one really took too serious, and with this Mexican icon chinned warrior as the champion of the division, it made sense to try and bate Mayweather out of retirement. Shane Mosley was just another name to beat, and the showcase for the fight would be at the sold out Staples Center.
The Script: Antonio Margarito was the baddest man on the planet and former World Champion Shane Mosley was his next victim. That was the storyline, plain and simple.
What Happened: “Sugar” Shane Mosley turned back the clock and dominated the fight from the opening bell. We later found out that Antonio Margarito was busted with illegal hand-wraps. The rest is history; both guys ended up landing big fights after this. Shane Mosley was inactive for over a year and Margarito banned from the sport for over a year by the CSAC. Shane Mosley went on to have one more moment by landing a big right on Floyd Mayweather Jr, despite losing by a wide decision. Mosley retired after recently being beaten down by younger Saul Alvarez. Antonio Margarito landed big fights against Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, then retired after both lopsided beatings.
6. Paul Williams beats Antonio Margarito
The Plan & Script: Antonio Margarito was holding the WBO version of the Welterweight title and had been pursuing fights with Floyd Mayweather Jr and Miguel Cotto. Instead of just going straight to the fight with Miguel Cotto, Margarito decided to defend the title against number one contender Paul “The Punisher” Williams. With this victory, “The Tijuana Tornado” was going to put himself in position to challenge, then undefeated, Miguel “Angel” Cotto.
What Happened: Paul Williams went on to sweep the early rounds against Margarito then slug it out with him in the closing rounds, to win a clear decision in his favor. Paul Williams would go on to become the “most feared man” in the sport of boxing. There was at one point even talks about Paul Williams participating in the Super Six tournament as 168 because he had the size, reach and skill to do so. Dan Rafael, of ESPN had him listed as the top Welterweight, Jr. Middleweight and Middleweight at one point as well. While Williams lost to Carlos Quintana on HBO he came back to avenge his loss by first round knockout, this time on Showtime, then moved up in division. Antonio Margarito’s clash with Miguel Cotto was delayed but he eventually got the fight with the Puerto Rican star anyway.
5. Sergio Martinez goes to war with the Punisher
The Plan: Paul “The Punisher” Williams, who was being avoided from Welterweight all the way up to Middleweight, was going to hold the Middleweight strap soon. There were questions about Kelly Pavlik pulling out of their fight not once but twice. With two weeks left they needed someone to step up and take the fight with Paul Williams; an Argentine fighter who was recently robbed against Kermit Cintron live on HBO stepped up to the challenge.
The Script: Paul Williams, the most feared man in boxing, was going to get past another opponent and keep himself busy since Kelly Pavlik pulled out of their fight with a staph infection in his hand. The Middleweight title was soon to be his.
What Happened: We got not just another victory for Paul Williams, but a fight of the year. Both fighters knocked each other down in the first round and every round from then on was a classic. It was clear early that their styles were perfectly made to make for an exciting fight. Despite losing a close and controversial decision, Sergio Martinez went on to win the Middleweight title from Kely Pavlik and then knockout Paul Williams in devastating fashion in their rematch.
The once unknown Argentine fighter is now a hero in his home country and still the reigning Middleweight Champion. Paul Williams looked bad in his fight with Erislandy Lara but got the controversial victory. Williams had another shot to put himself back in the mix in a match against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, but due to a tragic motorcycle accident his career came to an end.
4. Manny Pacquiao retires the Golden Boy
The Plan: Everything was centered on Oscar De La Hoya starting a winning streak, and working his way to another mega fight with perhaps Floyd Mayweather Jr. or even Antonio Margarito. Oscar De La Hoya had been talking about facing the winner of the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito fight, which he did not do and took the Manny Pacquiao fight instead. Larry Merchant had mentioned the fight as a good idea and then it became a reality. Manny Pacquiao was a smaller fighter with not much to lose, fighting the bigger Oscar De La Hoya who was a major favorite going into the fight. The boxing media and fans generally saw this fight as a big joke; a circus act at best.
The Script: This was to be a showcase fight for the Golden Boy. HBO expected it to be an exciting fight for as long as it lasted. For HBO, their smaller fighter will get a moral victory for either going the distance with the bigger man or making it exciting for as long as he lasted in the ring.
What Happened: Manny Pacquiao dominated Oscar De La Hoya and forced him to retire on the stool in the 8th round. HBO lost a cash cow but gained a new one in the process. Manny Pacquiao would be crowed the Pound for Pound best fighter in the world since Floyd Mayweather Jr. had announced his retirement. The rest is history; Manny Pacquiao would go on to become one of HBO’s two biggest draws they’ve ever had.
3. Bernard Hopkins forces Trinidad’s father to throw in the towel.
The Plan & The Script: It’s almost hard to believe looking back in hindsight that Bernard Hopkins was a major underdog in this fight. Bernard Hopkins was simply going to be a stepping stone for Felix “Tito” Trinidad on his way to face Roy Jones Jr.
What Happened: Bernard Hopkins put on a boxing clinic and outclassed Felix Trinidad for 12 rounds, until he forced Trinidad’s father to throw in the towel. Trinidad basically went downhill from there, making a comeback against Ricardo Mayorga but then falling to Winky Wright. The Executioner, who was considered old then, age 36, is still active ‘til this very day.
2. Manny Pacquiao destroys Marco Antonio Barrera.
The Plan: After his victory over Erik Morales and Nasim Hammed, the “Baby Face Assassin” was looking to become the next Julio Cesar Chavez figure of the decade. Obviously Barrera was a huge hit for HBO.
The Script: Barrera was being showcased on HBO after these monumental victories over the best fighters of the division. A third fight with Erik Morales was possibly on the horizon and this was a road to that build up. Manny Pacquiao was just a one dimensional fighter who was going to showcase the boxing skills that Barrera had. We saw the mastery of his boxing in the Naseem Hamed fight and this was going to be a continuation of that.
What Happened: Manny Pacquiao established himself as a force in the boxing world by not only beating the heavily favored Mexican, but dominating him and forcing Barrera’s corner to throw in the towel. What may have felt like a disaster to HBO when it happened, has obviously turned out to be one of the most fortunate things to ever happen. The network still got the finale to the Morales-Barrera trilogy anyway; and Manny Pacquiao went on to become what he is today.
1. Antonio Tarver Knocks out Roy Jones and the domino effect ensues.
The Plan & The Script: Roy Jones Jr was coming off a victory over John Ruiz at Heavyweight to capture a trinket at that weight, and this was simply a fight to welcome Roy Jones back to the division. The then Pound for Pound king was expected, as he had always done, to come out victorious despite his first tough fight with Tarver.
What Happened: This was the first time we saw Roy Jones Jr. get knocked out (And as we know now, not the last time). The massive knockout by Antonio Tarver marked the end of the Roy Jones Jr. era and a series of events occurred right after. While Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones could never agree to terms for a fight, with this Tarver victory, Hopkins went on to move up to the division and beat Tarver for the Light-Heavyweight title. Hopkins later lost the title in a close fight against Joe Calzaghe. Roy Jones went on to get knocked out even worse by Glen Johnson and fell off the radar completely for a while. The once mega fight turned just intriguing fight with Tito Trinidad finally took place and elevated Jones to get one more shot at the top dog, then Joe Calzaghe. But he went on to lose in one sided fashion. Joe Calzaghe retired and remarkably Bernard Hopkins returned, claiming the Light-heavyweight title by defeating Jean Pascal in his second attempt.(Pascal himself beat a fighter who was being showcased in Chad Dawson). Bernard Hopkins lost his title to Chad Dawson who recently got knocked out at Super-Middleweight by Andre Ward. The division hasn’t had a long-time lineal champion since the fall of Roy Jones.
Kelly Pavlik on the receiving end of a boxing lesson by Bernard Hopkins
- Hopkins was considered too old, coming off a loss to Joe Calzaghe where he dropped to the mat selling a low blow when everyone knew he was trying to catch his breath. The Middleweight Champion was expected to beat the old man.
Kelly Pavlik makes things interesting at Middleweight by destroying Edison Miranda
Jermain Taylor’s title reign was missing a serious challenger. Before his bout with Cory Spinks, Taylor was talking more trash with Miranda than his opponent. It looked like the collision course was set, leaving Spinks and Pavlik completely overlooked. (Let’s not talk about Spinks-Taylor, please) Unexpectedly, the Youngstown native not only beat down Miranda in their fight, possibly damaged him for good. Suddenly Jermain Taylor had a serious contender for this crown. Unless you were living under a rock and missed it, you should now know that Pavlik went on to knock Jermain Taylor out to win the Middleweight crown.