By Steve Kim
2014 is shaping up as another eventful year for boxing. Already promotions are being lined up for some of the games biggest stars; Saul Alvarez is scheduled to go on March 8, Manny Pacquiao returns on April 12 and Floyd Mayweather performs on May 3. But all three are on pay-per-view, meaning you will have to fork over $60-$70 a pop to watch them. In addition to that, it was already announced that all three of Alvarez's bouts this year will be on pay-per-view.
So right off the bat, if you're a hard-core fan of the Sweet Science it means that in addition to your monthly cable bill for HBO and Showtime, where the premier fights are broadcast in the U.S., you will need to find another $400 or so in-between your couch cushions or start working some extra shifts at the job to see boxing's marquee names.
And that's not even counting what could be another pay-per-view event in the first half of the year, if the bout between middleweight champion Sergio Martinez and Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto is made for June 7 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
What's even more maddening is that while these promotions are already on the schedule, there's one important component missing for these dates: actual opponents. Right now, there have been no official dance partners lined up for any of these above-mentioned slots (even Martinez-Cotto is still a ways away from being completed) and as of now, they are all facing the ubiquitous "Tom Bob Anderson" -- in other words, TBA.
The business of boxing is telling its beleaguered loyalists to take out another mortgage on the house to see the superstars of the sport ply their trade against a bunch of interchangeable parts in the first half of the year. There are rampant rumors that any day now Alvarez will be matched against Alfredo "Perro" Angulo, a hard-nosed, tough Mexican, who's coming off a stoppage loss at the hands of the talented Erislandy Lara in his last outing. Pacquiao is mulling over his next fight, and it could be a rematch versus Tim Bradley who defeated him in what was a highly disputed decision in June of 2012. As for Mayweather, Amir Khan, who hasn't fought since surviving Julio Diaz last April, claims to have signed a contract to face him, but as of yet, that fight has still not been finalized.
Oh, and one fight you won't see is the long-awaited showdown between Mayweather and Pacquiao, the two dominant figures in the sport who have seemingly circled each other for years now without ever actually stepping into the ring versus each other. The failure to make this fight happen is among the sport's greatest failures -- which is saying something. And the annual reports of this finally becoming a reality in 2014 have already been shot down, and the focus is on next year.
But in the meantime, boxing will trot out Alvarez, Pacquiao, Mayweather and then Cotto, month after month. The quality of the fights doesn't really matter all that much, it seems, compared to the name of the fighters headlining. And it looks as if the power brokers in boxing expect the masses to react like Pavlov's dog at the mere scheduling of these pay-per-view fights.
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Steve Kim began covering boxing in 1996 and has been writing for Maxboxing.com since 2001. He is also a regular contributor for Boxing News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he tweets (a lot.)