The good, the bad and the dirty in the week of boxing: From big fight promotion to dud title bout

Due to Thanksgiving, it was a lighter week than most in boxing, but some interesting events still took place. Here are the highs and lows from the week that was in the Sweet Science.

The Good

– Hype for Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia PPV clash begins on the right foot. A lot of people (this writer included) were disappointed when Premier Boxing Champions and Fox unveiled their lineup for the first quarter of 2019. The exception is the highly-anticipated battle featuring Spence and Garcia presented by Fox on pay-per-view on March 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas at the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

If you thought the network wasn’t going to take its first foray into unchartered waters lightly, think again. During its Thanksgiving afternoon telecast of the Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins, Fox showed Spence with Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, talking and taking photos for the media. 

Welterweight Champ @ErrolSpenceJr’s appearance during #CowboysVsRedskins game yesterday on @FOXTV reached more than 30 million viewers.

Spence returns to @ATTStadium March 16 to face 4-division Champ @mikeygarcia on FOX PPV. #PBConFOX #SpenceGarcia

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A job well done by PBC and Fox for seizing that opportunity, as over 30 million people were watching the game. If people didn’t know it then, they know it now that Spence and Garcia are fighting in a few months. The bout is going to be a tough sell in making people fork over their hard-earned money on PPV because for as great as both guys are, neither Spence or Garcia have fought on that type of platform before. Keep sprinkling Garcia and Spence on major college and pro games on the network and continue to have Joe Buck mention the fight and the chance for success will be higher. 

The Bad

– A staple goes out on a whimper. After 45 years, Saturday night marked the end of “World Championship Boxing” on HBO. The card had Dmitry Bivol beating Jean Pascal via a lopsided unanimous decision to successfully defend the WBA light heavyweight championship for the fourth time. 

Bivol (15-0) took less money to fight in the main event of this show because he wanted to say he fought on the top of a HBO billing. Earlier in the week, Bivol told SN he would be looking for the knockout. Instead, the Russian more or less put on a glorified sparring session.

In the first round, Bivol connected on a hard right hand, which sent Pascal back against the ropes. Bivol seemingly could have finished Pascal off. However, Bivol was content on letting the past-his-prime Pascal hang around, as he continuously punched the Canadian in the face with ease.

Pascal had no reason being in this fight whatsoever. He barely threw any punches. According to Compubox stats, Pascal connected on only 60 of 357 punches (17 percent). He tried as hard as he could, but sadly, he showed why he was the secondary option after original opponent Joe Smith Jr. took a fight with IBF titleholder Artur Beterbiev. 

Bivol gained nothing out of this. His team needs to put him in fights in which he will be tested, so the world can see if he belongs with the elite at 175 pounds. For Pascal, he did get a last shot at glory, but at the end of the day, the 36-year-old proved that father time remains undefeated. As for the boxing left on HBO, the network still has its “Boxing After Dark” card slated for Dec. 8, featuring Cecilia Braekhus vs. Alexsandra Magziak-Lopes, Claressa Shields vs. Femke Hermans and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez vs. Pedro Guevara.

The Dirty

– A proposed welterweight title fight that doesn’t make sense in the slightest bit. After Egidijus Kavaliauskas ran through Roberto Arriaza on Nov. 16, it appeared he would be next for WBO titleholder and one of boxing’s pound-for-pound kings, Terence Crawford. Bob Arum, who promotes both, said as much when the fight ended. Well, apparently, Arum had a change of heart and it wasn’t for the better, which is a disservice to boxing fans. 

On Friday, ESPN.com reported that there are talks of Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) facing former WBA titlist Luis Collazo (38-7, 20 KOs) on March 23 at Madison Square Garden. 

Don’t get me wrong, Collazo is a bigger name, but he doesn’t deserve this fight in any way, shape or form whatsoever. 

Kavaliauskas (21-0, 17 KOs) is a two-time Olympian. While relatively unknown, the 30-year-old Lithuanian is still a promising fighter who would pose more problems for Crawford than Collazo could even when he was in his prime as a world champion in 2005. He retired in the seventh round after getting drubbed up and down the ring by Keith Thurman in July 2015 and was dominated by Amir Khan in May 2014.

Taking fights like this does nothing for Crawford. Arum is doing him no favors. Top Rank is thin at welterweight and Collazo is advised by PBC creator Al Haymon. 

Don’t kid yourself, as this won’t get us any closer to Crawford battling Spence any time soon, even though both guys have made it clear they want to face each other.

Hopefully, Arum wakes up, changes his mind and lives up to his word with Kavaliauskas. Or this will represent what left boxing fans with a sour taste in their mouths for so long — seeing another fight with a big name facing a tomato can.

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