By Paul Magno | March 06, 2023

There’s a real big temptation in this boxing world of ours to dwell on the negative. I’m certainly guilty of it-- and I just bitched out some mega-negative “fan” for being perpetually doomy and gloomy. It often seems that no other sport asks so much and works so hard to deliver so little. It does get frustrating at times when business conflicts outnumber in-ring battles. It’s easy to see the half-empty glass rather than the half-full glass.

But, while it’s important to call out the bullshit and garbage in the business, it’s equally important to talk about the good stuff.

So, in this Monday’s Notes from the Boxing Underground column, I want to get all warm and fuzzy and share with you some of the things I love about the sport that has been my passion since I was a toddler and my full-time occupation, in some form or another, for going on 20 years. I also want to dive into some real gems on the upcoming fight schedule that should be fueling our love for the sport.

Okay, first...we’ve already had a handful of Fight of the Year scraps in just over two months. It seems like every week there’s been something good on. And here are some of my favorite fights slated for the immediate future.

March 25: David Benavidez vs. Caleb Plant

I love everything about this fight. Arguably, two of the three best super middleweights in the world-- in their primes-- fighting one another in as close to a “must win” contest as possible. For fans of the technical, tactical side of the sport, it’s also a beyond intriguing clash of styles and temperaments. Oh yeah, and there’s actual real bad blood between these two. Throw in an awesome undercard (Jesus Ramos vs. Joey Spencer, Chris Colbert vs. Jose Valenzuela, and Cody Crowley vs. Abel Ramos) and this is one show that will, for sure, deliver. 

April 22: Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia

What kind of joyless curmudgeon could hate on a fight like this? Tank-Garcia pits two, young, undefeated KO artists against one another in, perhaps, the sport’s best shot at making a true mainstream crossover event. Believe it or not, there ARE some pantsloads on social media who’ve been crapping on this one more and more as it looks more and more likely to happen. 

April 29: Eimantas Stanionis vs. Vergil Ortiz Jr.

Neither welterweight young gun takes a step backwards. This will be all-out war for as long as it lasts.

May 7: Naoya Inoue vs. Stephen Fulton

This might be my favorite fight on the schedule so far. Inoue, who’ll be moving up in weight to challenge for Fulton’s two junior featherweight belts, is a for-real present tense great. Fulton might be one fight away from earning that designation as well. This will be the toughest fight (in just about every sense) of each fighter’s career. Both are legitimately hungry and fight like it. What’s not to love? Maybe the early morning Japanese starting time?

May 13: Alberto Puello vs. Rolando Romero

Rolly Romero is always fun to watch. With his gift for gab and free-swinging, heavy-handed ways, he’s the modern day Ricardo Mayorga-- a professional asshole in the best sense of the term.

May 20: Devin Haney vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko

Despite already having all four belts in the lightweight division, consider this one to be a right of passage fight for Haney, whose career is still light on “real” names. For Lomachenko, this is a “must win” and there’s no way around it. There will be tons of intrigue in this bout. I love it.

June 10: Josh Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez Jr.

I don’t care what fights DIDN’T happen so this one could be made, let’s just enjoy what we’re getting. Both fighters have their backs against the wall, coming off multiple waves of bad career mojo. Both need a win and both need to look impressive. 

Also on the schedule so far are fights involving Canelo Alvarez, Anthony Joshua, Shakur Stevenson, Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, Sebastian Fundora, and Joe Joyce (among others).

Great stuff, right?

So, how about more “in general” stuff to love about boxing? Here’s what motors my boat when it comes to boxing fandom.

-- Live boxing. It’s all awesome. Boxing, up close and personal, is the real deal. Even non-fans will come away with a real appreciation of the sport if they wind up at a live show. Do the sport a favor and go to your local shows-- and take friends.

-- The prelims. Main events are great, but the 4-round swing bouts offer up, pound for pound, the most honest and earnest action in the sport. Have the decency to show up to the undercard for live shows and/or stay put when the 4-rounders air before the main event.

-- Good matchmaking! There’s an art to making a good fight. If promoters/matchmakers don’t have a grasp on that artistry, the product suffers. Boxing needs to entertain, even if your ultimate goal is to get your guy to the title and then bank on the big bucks.

– The fundamentals. As a real, true blue boxing fan, seeing a fighter who has done the hard work to master their craft is a thing of beauty. Sound footwork, a crisp jab, good defense,’s all beautiful for someone who appreciates the sweet science.

I could probably go on and on about things I love about boxing. But I hope you got the point already. Let’s talk up the positive with the same energy we devote to beating up the negative. 

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