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MAGNO'S BULGING MAIL SACK: CHARLO-CRAWFORD, CANELO-BIVOL REVISITED, BENAVIDEZ-LEMIEUX, MORE...

By Paul Magno | May 19, 2022
MAGNO'S BULGING MAIL SACK: CHARLO-CRAWFORD, CANELO-BIVOL REVISITED, BENAVIDEZ-LEMIEUX, MORE...

Hello boxing fans and dedicated haters. Here’s another week’s worth of my bulbous sack, bulging with gooey, salty truth, in your face. Enjoy. This week, we have comments/questions regarding Jermell Charlo, Terence Crawford, Benavidez-Lemieux, the boxing media, and Canelo-Bivol revisited

Charlo: The Spence-Crawford Detour?

Hey Paul,

Hope all is well. Coming off the Charlo undisputed unification this weekend, I was thinking of who could be next for him. My immediate thought is Sebastian Fundora. I think Fundora would put more pressure and be out of range than Castaño, giving him a good chance to win.

Then my conspiracy mind turned on. Crawford and Charlo have been going at it, and Crawford has stated that he wants Charlo after Spence. What if he reversed that order though? If he beats Charlo and becomes undisputed at 154, he might gain some negotiating power since he only has the one [welterweight] belt to Spence’s three. The event would be ridiculously big too. Crawford potentially fighting to become undisputed champion actively in two weight divisions, and his third undisputed status overall. Crazy.

I don’t know that Crawford is really fighting for legacy though, so wake me up if this is just a dream. I don’t think this is too far off reality. What do you think?

Keep doing you, brotha. Be well.

-- Chris

Hey Chris. 

Thanks for writing.

That’s an interesting take on things. It makes sense that Charlo would want a “big” fight after this last one, to cash in on his 4-belt champ status. Crawford would definitely fit the bill as one-half of a big PPV fight for Charlo. For Crawford, it would also make sense to maybe have at least one more high-profile fight before negotiating, for real, with Team Spence. Bringing undisputed junior middleweight champion status to the negotiating table would likely get him a sweeter deal when it comes to the welterweight unification bout. 

The problem is that a Charlo fight would be very risky for Crawford. And, no matter how big Charlo-Crawford would be, the big money is still in Spence-Crawford. So, it wouldn’t be very business-smart to leapfrog the risky money fight for the risky less-money fight. 

However, if Spence negotiations prove to be problematic, maybe we COULD see a move up to 154 for Crawford. We shall see. 

As for Charlo’s next fight? He has a whole mandatory mess to sort out and, as much as I hate to say this, I think his unified, 4-belt champ status will be short-lived. I see him dropping a belt or two in order to maneuver himself to the fights he wants. 

Fixing The Boxing Media

Hi Paul,

As usual, I'm loving your recent work. You're one of the few bright spots in a fairly shitty industry (at one level, I mean boxing journalism, but on another level, I mean sports journalism in general).

For your most recent article, "Lies We Tell Ourselves," I agree with much of what you say but want to focus on something mentioned in the article: the boxing media.

To start, you're 100% correct about boxing fans being completely inconsistent. Jermell Charlo seems to tick all the boxes for what fight fans supposedly want in a boxer, but he hasn't gotten the mainstream attention/adoration he deserves. But, people, as a group, are inconsistent. Boxing fans aren't special in this regard. 

As you've written about in the past, since Charlo works with PBC, the boxing media is dismissive of his accomplishments. And boxing fans, just like all sports fans (and most people) don't think on their own - they just think the way the media has told them to think. Boxing fans don't love Charlo because they weren't told to love him. Boxing fans love GGG because they were told to love GGG.

As I mentioned above, this phenomenon isn't wholly unique to boxing; it's something that pervades popular culture, even beyond sports. And so chiding fans will not change much - the only way things will drastically change is with a cultural shift in boxing media. As someone with my eyes open, I see that you're the tip of the spear for that change and I, and many others, deeply appreciate what you do. It's very admirable how you've stayed on this beat for so many years and if you ever feel discouraged, just know that there are many fans of this sport whose love of the sport is made stronger through your work.

The only thing fans can do is demand more accountability from the media, but I wouldn't hold out much hope for many fans to do anything like that. But then we run into problems of access - what media are the promoters gonna give access to? Probably the dudes who write puff pieces and are, as you say, more promotional than journalistic.

We need a crazy billionaire to buy the entire industry and fix things.

Keep up the great work!

-Jeremiah

Hey Jeremiah.

Thanks for the kind words, they are always appreciated.

I could write a book on my efforts to establish a truly independent, hard-hitting media in boxing. That was many years ago and, ultimately, it met with the kind of violent resistance that gets writers (me) blacklisted and almost starved out of the business. But guess what? I’m still here, so the fuckers didn’t entirely get what they wanted.

The established boxing media-- as it is now and as it has been for a very long time-- is almost entirely comprised of idiots and the deeply compromised. The sad fact is that if you want to make even a marginal living as a boxing writer, you have to dabble in conflict of interest because the only ones paying anything are those with a vested interest in sponsoring websites and reporters (i.e. promoters, managers, networks, publicists). If you have a conscience, you walk the line and remain as independent as possible, working around conflicts of interest to the best of your ability. Mostly, though, media members don’t give a shit and will gladly color their work to paint the picture they assume their bossmen want painted. 

It often becomes a “chicken or the egg” thing. Did the media become compromised by the ones pulling the strings or were they of weak moral standing all along, and that’s why they got to the top of the boxing media? Maybe both.

Either way, you just have to wonder aloud why the hell someone would get into an honesty and communication business and not really want to communicate honestly. 

One thing is for certain, though. Having a weak and compliant media allows all of boxing’s problems to flourish and multiply. Like a bacterial infection, the bad stuff just grows and eventually takes over a body without some treatment. A strong, independent media is the antibiotic antidote to the fight game’s constant bacterial infections. Boxing would be infinitely better off, and the fans would get what they want much more often, if there was a strong media holding feet to flames. 

But the lackey, lapdog media mindset is so ingrained in boxing writer culture that even those with the power to really make some needed changes with their reporting, working for outlets like ESPN and Yahoo!, do nothing. They’re content to pass around next-fight gossip given to them by publicists and issue repurposed press releases as news content. 

The only hope we have is if some “crazy billionaire” did come around and offer a protected home for real boxing journalism and punditry. There IS a market for an independent boxing new source, but nobody inside the boxing business will ever fund it. So, funding would have to be fully independent. Even as old and battered as I am, I’m still down for the fight-- if the fight were at least marginally winnable. 

And I don’t think being denied access is all that much of an issue anymore. These days, media isn’t getting anything from fighters that can’t be readily pulled from press releases, canned interviews, and social media. Not having those “I feel great, camp was great” comments does nothing to alter the flow of information to readers/viewers. And the truth is—despite what many in the boxing media seem to think—these people need the media. In most industries that depend on selling events and products to the public, the media, as the middlemen between producers and consumers, has the power to demand honesty and general fair play. Or, at least, that’s how things SHOULD work. The boxing media totally has the power to insist on meaningful, all-around beneficial changes. They just don’t care to use that power.

I put the onus for change on the fans because the current established media is so compromised-by-design and so far up their own asses that they will never change. The revolution will have to come from the outside, in. And that means a fan revolt and, also, for smart fans to rise up and start producing the quality work this business needs. 

Canelo-Bivol Revisited

Love the mailbag. Don’t always agree with your take, but that’s boxing.

On to Canelo vs Bivol. I’ve read a couple people emailing in and some other comments about the fight. I don’t believe Canelo lacked focus, had the wrong game plan or didn’t show up. He ran into a bigger fighter, that may be possibly the best light heavy. There are weight classes for a reason. Now I will admit, when this fight was made I favored Canelo in a tough fight. All this cherry crap was just fab boys or haters. Everybody wanted to point to how Canelo stopped Kovalev. Heck, that was one of the reasons that I picked Canelo to win. Then 2 weeks before the fight I read that Canelo had a weight stipulation against Kovalev. And that the fight against Bivol had no stipulation. I never knew that, I changed my pick after reading that. After the Ward fights and being stopped by Alvarez, he was destined to lose. But before he was stopped he was leading on the score cards. So with no stipulation against an undefeated fighter, much heavier with aspirations to show he is the best at light heavy, my pick changed to Bivol. This was just a case of Canelo going up too high in weight. It’s the old saying, a great big man will beat a great little man. Something like that. Lol. Canelo just needs to stay at 168 or 160 and take those challenges on down there.

Peace.

-- Pasquale Catena

Hey Pasquale.

I agree that Canelo would be much better off staying at 168 and building on his legacy there. Taking the Bivol fight was always going to be a risk and, up until now, Canelo has (mostly) been able to will and skill his way to victory. He wasn’t able to do that with Bivol and there are many theories as to why that happened. Like with a lot of things, it was probably several factors contributing to the loss. I didn’t see a great push to work a Plan B when Plan A clearly wasn’t working, so that leads me to believe that, maybe, there really wasn’t a Plan B. Maybe he assumed that Bivol was just another straight-up-and-down European fighter and that even if he struggled a bit against him, he’d eventually will his way to a win. He was wrong, of course. Then again, it could simply be, as you wrote, a case of a good big man beating a good little man. Whatever the case, I don’t think Canelo is done with 175 and if he finds a way to beat Bivol in a rematch after such a decisive loss, the feat would be legendary. That’s the kind of glory that Canelo will find hard to resist. At first, I though his talk of a rematch was all about saving face. Now, I’m 50-50 on him being serious about giving it a second try. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of adjustments he makes against Bivol. 

David (Benavidez) vs. David (Lemieux)

Hi Paul.

I will start with David Lemieux vs David Benavidez. At this point of Lemieux's career (and even in his prime) I dont expect him to provide a challenge to Benavidez, I would not rule out that after being chin tested, Benavidez will blow out Lemieux in about 4-5 Rounds. It is worth nothing that Benavidez has the right attitude and he has moved on from Canelo and is now focusing on pursuing the next best thing as in Charlo and Plant.

Sadly, Jermall does not resemble at all what his brother has accomplished (kudos to Jermell, his power is outta this world) and I believe his stock is decreasing as he is clearly ducking Benavidez.

What is interesting at least from my perspective is that I don’t think Jermall would get a sure L if he faced Benavidez as he is a mobile fighter and Benavidez so far has looked great with fighters that stand in front of him....we will see...

P.S. Mayweather is just an attention whore, he should not be fighting this weekend

-- Miguel

Hey Miguel.

Stylistically, Benavidez-Lemieux would be the same fight whether Lemieux was in his prime or not. The compelling thing about this fight is that Lemieux, because of his one-punch power, will always be just one shot away from ending the contest at any point. Benavidez has never faced anyone nearly as one-punch powerful as Lemieux and he’ll have to be sharp from opening bell onward. I like this fight for that reason. The likelihood of something big and exciting happening is very high.

When it comes to Jermall Charlo, I think his career hasn’t been as impressive as Jermell’s (especially lately) because of his move to middleweight and the general difficulty in getting the big fights there. At 154, Jermell has had all the big fights open to him because PBC pretty much has all the top fighters there. At 160, Jermall doesn’t have that same well-paved path.

Benavidez-Jermall Charlo is an intriguing fight, but it only makes sense for both if they feel they are out of the Canelo sweepstakes. I get the feeling Benavidez thinks he is, while Charlo thinks there’s still a very real chance he’ll get the Canelo fight within the next year or so. That’s why there may be more of a push from Benavidez to make that fight than from Jermall. 

As for Mayweather being an attention whore? Yeah, obviously. Don’t get me started on him headlining a pay-per-view card originally two weeks before (and now one week before) his own fighter’s pay-per-view. If there’s anything that should push Gervonta Davis out the Mayweather Promotions door, it’s that. 

Got a question (or hate mail) for Magno’s Bulging Mail Sack? The best of the best gets included in the weekly mailbag segment right here at FightHype. Send your stuff here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com.

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